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Positions in Europe: Short France (EWQ)

Keith shorted France via the etf EWQ in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio today getting a better re-entry price. The CAC40 is in a bearish formation, broken across its immediate term TRADE, intermediate term TREND, and long term TAIL lines (see chart below). 

Trade Update: Shorting France (EWQ) - 1. CAC Heut

We remain bearish on France over the intermediate term due to:

  • Pending downgrade of France’s AAA Sovereign Credit rating
  • Public debt rising through the 90% (as a % of GDP) next year
  • Slowing growth (below the government’s 1% 2012 projection) and sticky inflation alongside Austerity’s Bite  = Stagflation
  • Banking risk, including any difficulties for its major banks (BNP, Credit Agricole, SocGen) to raise capital to the 9% Core Tier 1 ratio, and sovereign risk as France is the largest holder of Italian public debt and private debt, according to BIS
  • EFSF and IMF are undercapitalized to materially aid any potential sovereign and banking bailout needs of France
  • High unemployment rate of 9.8% (versus 7% in Germany); 22.8% among the French youth
  • Smaller export profile (versus Germany), so there’s less benefit to grow via exports 

This morning Josh Steiner of our Financials teamed passed along a very interesting chart that shows the correlation between Citi (C) and EWQ.  The correlation is 0.88! In a note yesterday, Josh said: “Fundamentally, we continue to dislike Citi. We expect Citi to have significant margin pressure in the coming quarters.  Moreover, as European investors are still largely unable to short European financials, they continue to flock to Citi on the short side as their go-to substitute.  We see little changing in this regard.”

We’ll continue to monitor this rather notable correlation.

Trade Update: Shorting France (EWQ) - 1. Steiner Chart

Matthew Hedrick

Senior Analyst