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Obama's Bottom?

"What you're now seeing is profit and earnings ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal"
-Barack Obama, March 3rd, 2009


The best part about Obama making his first real "call" on financial markets yesterday was the predictable reaction of most people in our industry to it...

No, this is not a political statement. Yes, this is another point that needs to be made on the behavioral side of economics. Wall Street teaches itself memes... then the manic media follows its embedded mimetic desire, copying those memes ... then we find ourselves with proactively predictable behavior...

Whether it was shorting gold at $999/oz or calling out the predictable reaction that a President shouldn't be able to call markets, it's all one and the same -picking off the thundering herd isn't magic folks - anyone who isn't part of the daisy train can see this quite clearly - it's called common sense.

From the Washington Post to Fast Money, the stock market's entertainers immediately lined up Obama's market comments as something that the community organizer is just not equipped to do. It's actually quite hilarious to see these very people who were buying into the SP500, say +55% higher, question the man's entry point ... with a straight face.

Let me be clear, I don't think the President of the USA should make a habit making stock market calls. But neither do I think 95% of those market pundits and money managers alike who have swallowed their own "invest for the long run" tongues in the last 18 months should either. At the end of the day, he or she who actually makes the "bottom is in" call, on the day that the US market bottoms, will be looked back on by historians not as a politician or pundit, but as that person who was right.

Obama didn't actually call for a bottom. But, for the sake of transparency and accountability, let's assume that his aforementioned quote inspires one to believe that he thinks the SP500 down -23% for 2009 to-date is a "good deal." Let's time stamp that and see how the man does. Isn't he allowed to be in this game? Or is this a game that's only allowed to be played by our financial system's wizards?

Don't forget that he Obama has both a YTD low and the low print since 1992 in hand right now - there are a lot of you who are reading this, including me, who have a higher price than that...

I bought the SP500 +2.5% higher than Obama (on the 715 line) and I bought the Nasdaq a little closer to his time stamp. I would love to see all of those brave souls out there who call themselves "strategists" and Investment Chief of Herd Island give us their time stamps, real time, daily... That would make for some really exciting journalism!

The SP500 was down another -0.64% yesterday so I added to my exposure to US Equities, taking my Asset Allocation Model up to 22% in the USA versus the 9% I had allocated in the US as of Monday morning. Immediate term bottoms are processes, not points... so when prices are lower than my entry point, I buy more. Buy low, you know... like the community organizer said!

When I started buying exposure to Chinese stocks in November of last year, China's stock market had taken a -70% swan dive from its prior peak. When I started buying crude oil (in the $35-38/barrel range) the peak-to-trough decline was even steeper. Now China is up almost +30% from those lows, and the price of West Texas crude oil is +20% from the lows where the Thundering Herd dude at Merrill slapped his oil is "going away" price target on it...

This morning, are US stock market futures indicated up because Obama looks to be calling for a bottom, or because those who sold China's bottom are reminding us that they need to cover their shorts? Is the USA up because China is buying oil? Or is she up because a guy in Omaha called a guy in China and told him to stop buying the bubble in Treasuries, and buy into the community organizer's call?

All of this conjecture is as ridiculous as the notion that only certain people in this world are equipped to be "financial advisors" who can "make the call." The New Reality is that anyone with an internet connection and a line to the daisy train at CNBC can - including one, Barack Obama.

I have a 6% Allocation to International Equities, and half of that is in China via the CAF closed end fund. China, unlike the USA, continues to own her own liquidity and destiny. Two TRILLION dollars in cash reserves on a balance sheet has it's perks, and China's Premier, Wen Jiabao, is going to be "making a call" of his own on the Chinese stock market at tomorrow's Chinese equivalent of the State of the Union address...

I know, I know... Presidents and Premiers aren't supposed to be able to "call markets." But guess what? They both just did!

Oh, and by the way, Chinese PMI (manufacturing) came in much stronger than the herd expected last night (49 in Feb vs. 45 in Jan). We have been calling for a sequential acceleration in China in Q1 versus her November lows - and much to the chagrin of the China bears, we're getting one...

Chinese stocks had a huge session overnight, closing up another +6.1%, taking the Shanghai Stock Exchange Index to +20.8% for 2009 to-date. I am on the tape, long both USA and China right here and now, alongside Obama, Jiabao, and my investment process. I see another +12% of immediate term upside in the CAF from yesterday's close, and I have an upside target in the SP500 that's +7% higher from Obama's Bottom at 696. Game on.

Best of luck out there today.


CURRENT ETF ALLOCATION

LONG ETFS

QQQQ - PowerShares NASDAQ 100 - We bought QQQQ on a down day on Monday.

EWA - iShares Australia-EWA has a nice dividend yield of 7.54% on the trailing 12-months.  With interest rates at 3.25% (further room to stimulate) and a $26.5BN stimulus package in place, plus a commodity based economy with proximity to China's H1 reacceleration, there are a lot of ways to win being long Australia.

SPY - SPDR S&P500- We bought the etf perhaps a smidgen early with the S&P500 at 715, yet will take it at a discount.  The market is also close to three standard deviations oversold.

CAF - Morgan Stanley China fund - The Shanghai Stock Exchange is up +13.75% for 2009 to-date. We're long China as a growth story, especially relative to other large economies. We believe the country's domestic appetite for raw materials will continue throughout 2009 as the country re-flates. From the initial stimulus package to cutting taxes, the Chinese have shown leadership and a proactive response to the credit crisis.

GLD - SPDR Gold- We bought gold last Thursday with the S&P500 in the red and gold down. We believe gold will re-find its bullish trend.

TIP - iShares TIPS- The U.S. government will have to continue to sell Treasuries at record levels to fund domestic stimulus programs. The Chinese will continue to be the largest buyer of U.S. Treasuries, albeit at a price.  The implication being that terms will have to be more compelling for foreign funders of U.S. debt, which is why long term rates are trending upwards. This is negative for both Treasuries and corporate bonds.

DVY - Dow Jones Select Dividend -We like DVY's high dividend yield of 5.85%.

VYM - Vanguard High Dividend Yield -VYM yields a healthy 4.31%, and tracks the FTSE/High Dividend Yield Index which is a benchmark of stocks issued by US companies that pay dividends that are higher than average.

SHORT ETFS

LQD -iShares Corporate Bonds- Corporate bonds have had a huge move off their 2008 lows and we expect with the eventual rising of interest rates in the back half of 2009 that bonds will give some of that move back. Moody's estimates US corporate bond default rates to climb to 15.1% in 2009, up from a previous 2009 estimate of 10.4%.

SHY -iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bonds- On Thursday of last week we witnessed 2-Year Treasuries climb 10 bps to 1.09%. Anywhere north of +0.97% moves the bonds that trade on those yields into a negative intermediate "Trend." If you pull up a three year chart of 2-Year Treasuries you'll see the massive macro Trend of interest rates starting to move in the opposite direction. We call this chart the "Queen Mary" and its new-found positive slope means that America's cost of capital will start to go up, implying that access to capital will tighten. Yield is inversely correlated to bond price, so the rising yield is bearish for Treasuries.

UUP - U.S. Dollar Index - We believe that the US Dollar is the leading indicator for the US stock market. In the immediate term, what is bad for the US Dollar should be good for the stock market. The Euro is down versus the USD at $1.2517. The USD is up versus the Yen at 99.3350 and down versus the Pound at $1.4090 as of 6am today.