This note was originally published at 8am on October 18, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.
“Risk means more things can happen than will happen.”
-Elroy Dimson (quote from “The Most Important Thing”)
I received a tremendous amount of feedback on my Yale Economics Department note from yesterday. Your diverse and critical thoughts have provided my team a tremendous opportunity to see plenty of perspectives. For that, we thank you.
Yale didn’t write me back, yet.
Maybe tonight in Las Vegas the dogma that is academia’s Keynesian Economics will hear some louder drums. I am probably the least connected person in American and European politics (and I’d like to keep it that way), but there is heightening probability that Mitt Romney talks more explicitly about firing Ben Bernanke at tonight’s Republican debate. That would be very bullish for the US Dollar.
Strong Dollar = Strong America. Period.
That’s my long-term call and I’m sticking to it. Like you saw yesterday, when the US Dollar strengthens, we Deflate The Inflation. That’s good for the American Consumer. This happened in September, and the Michigan Consumer Confidence reading rose.
With the US Dollar down for the 1stweek in the last 5 last week, inflation expectations at the pump rose, and that same American Consumer Confidence reading fell (57.5 OCT vs 59.4 SEP).
This may sound like a perverse relationship (stocks and commodities down make the country more confident), but the US stock market isn’t the electorate anymore. You can only plunder your people so many times.
I’m not a Republican, but this is what the Republicans are going to say about this for the next year:
“Bernanke has overinflated the amount of currency that he’s created… QE2 did not work… it did not get Americans back to work.” –Mitt Romney
Whether the Keynesians want to admit this or not, monetary and fiscal policy drive the value of a country’s currency. If I’m too “young” to be “trusted” on that, ask the biggest hedge fund manager in the world who has made money for his clients during both the 2008 and 2011 Growth Slowing draw-downs. That was not Steve Cohen – it was Ray Dalio.
If you don’t want to ask any of us who have had this right what is going wrong, fine. But don’t expect The People to trust you. They aren’t as willfully blind to the academic dogma that has driven both Bush and Obama to devalue the currency in exchange for short-term asset price inflations. They may not be able to communicate it concisely yet – but I would not bet against them.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
China doesn’t trust Japanese, American, or European monetary policy. They seem keen on proving that they have better ideas to lead the next generation of global capitalists. Can communists be capitalists? If “capitalists” leading America can behave like socialists, why not? It’s all name calling anyway.
At the same time that our markets are begging the Europeans for bazookas to socialize bank losses, I hear a lot of whining in this country. It’s not the kind of whining that the Chinese in particular are used to seeing from us. It’s time to stop. Reset. And Reload. It’s time to start winning again.
Despite a lot of people in the hedge fund community fear-mongering about China falling off a cliff like Europe has, here’s how China’s Q3 GDP report looked last night:
- Real GDP growth slowed in 3Q: 9.1% y/y vs. 9.5% prior;
- YTD Real GDP growth slowed in 3Q: 9.4% y/y vs. 9.6% prior;
- Industrial Production growth accelerated in September: 13.8% y/y vs. 13.5% prior;
- Retail Sales growth accelerated in September: 17.7% y/y vs. 17% prior; consistent with our call for a shift on the margin towards consumption-led growth; and
- YTD Fixed Assets Investment growth slowed in September: 24.9% y/y vs. 25% prior.
Not great. But not bad.
On the margin, these are still sequential decelerations so we are waiting on the sidelines to buy Chinese stocks again. Everything that really matters in Global Macro happens on the margin.
If you look at the data coming out of the rest of Asia in the last 24 hours, it’s actually quite bad:
- Singapore Exports for SEP down -4.5% y/y vs +3.9% AUG
- Australian Vehicle Sales for SEP down -1.3% y/y vs +4.6% AUG
- Japanese Department Store Sales for SEP -2.4% y/y vs -1.7% AUG
So, with Global Growth Slowing and the US Dollar strengthening (two of our key Macro Themes), there is a generational amount of Correlation Risk that remains in Global Macro markets.
While our American-made definition of Real-time Risk Management most certainly considers many more things that can happen than will happen, we are not trying to be alarmist. Neither are we holing up on campus with dogmas. We are standing here on the front lines of the fight trying to get to the right answers for this country before the wrong assumptions driving policy make that too late.
My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil, and the SP500 are now $1636-1686, $84.11-89.12, and 1187-1229, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer