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MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY

A Look at the Current Setup

* Greece's debt swap was largely in line with expectations last week; on a week-over-week basis, we saw relatively little movement in several key risk indicators. Most of the series were essentially unchanged or continued on their pre-swap trajectories. European and US interbank risk receded further last week with the Euribor-OIS shrinking 4 bps week over week, while the TED spread shrank 2 bps. This is less of a catalyst for further upside now that both of these measures have largely renormalized.


* Both European and American Bank CDS widened week over week.

 

* High yield rates rose 13 bps off of last week's YTD low, ending the week at 7.01.  

 

 * Fairly balanced short-term outlook - Our macro team's quantitative model indicates that on a short term duration (TRADE), there is 1.1% vs. 0.8% downside in the XLF.

 

Financial Risk Monitor Summary  

• Short-term(WoW): Positive / 3 of 12 improved / 2 out of 12 worsened / 7 of 12 unchanged  

• Intermediate-term(WoW): Positive / 7 of 12 improved / 3 out of 12 worsened / 2 of 12 unchanged  

• Long-term(WoW): Negative / 0 of 12 improved / 6 out of 12 worsened / 6 of 12 unchanged

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Summary

 

1. US Financials CDS Monitor – Swaps widened for 19 of 27 major domestic financial company reference entities last week.   

Tightened the most WoW: JPM, AIG, CB

Widened the most WoW: MBI, MMC, AGO

Tightened the most MoM: RDN, MTG, AIG

Widened the most MoM: MS, MBI, GS

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - CDS  US

 

2. European Financials CDS Monitor – Bank swaps were wider in Europe last week for 31 of the 40 reference entities. The average widening was 2.6% and the median widening was 2.4%.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - CDS   Euro

 

3. European Sovereign CDS – European Sovereign Swaps mostly widened over last week. German sovereign swaps tightened by 2.6% (-2 bps to 77 ) and French sovereign swaps widened by 3.3% (6 bps to 181).

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Sovereign CDS 1

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Sovreign CDS 2

 

4. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates rose 13.3 bps last week, ending the week at 7.01 versus 6.88 the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - HY

 

5. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The Leveraged Loan Index was flat over last week, ending at 1642.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - LLI 2

 

6. TED Spread Monitor – The TED spread fell 2.3 points last week, ending the week at 39.0 this week versus last week’s print of 41.2.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - TED

 

7. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – The JOC index fell 2.7 points, ending the week at -8.12 versus -5.5 the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - joc 2

 

8. Euribor-OIS spread – The Euribor-OIS spread (the difference between the euro interbank lending rate and overnight indexed swaps) measures bank counterparty risk in the Eurozone. The OIS is analogous to the effective Fed Funds rate in the United States.  Banks lending at the OIS do not swap principal, so counterparty risk in the OIS is minimal.  By contrast, the Euribor rate is the rate offered for unsecured interbank lending.  Thus, the spread between the two isolates counterparty risk. The Euribor-OIS spread tightened by 4 bps to 54 bps.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Euribor OIS

 

9. ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility – The ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility measures banks’ overnight deposits with the ECB.  Taken in conjunction with excess reserves, the ECB deposit facility measures excess liquidity in the Euro banking system.  An increase in this metric shows that banks are borrowing from the ECB.  In other words, the deposit facility measures one element of the ECB response to the crisis.  

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - ECB liquidity

 

10. Markit MCDX Index Monitor – The Markit MCDX is a measure of municipal credit default swaps. We believe this index is a useful indicator of pressure in state and local governments. Markit publishes index values daily on six 5-year tenor baskets including 50 reference entities each. Each basket includes a diversified pool of revenue and GO bonds from a broad array of states. We track the 14-V1. Last week the MCDX was flat, ending the week at 129 bps.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - mcdx 2

 

11. Baltic Dry Index – The Baltic Dry Index measures international shipping rates of dry bulk cargo, mostly commodities used for industrial production. Higher demand for such goods, as manifested in higher shipping rates, indicates economic expansion. Last week the index rose 53 points, ending the week at 824 versus 771 the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Baltic

 

12. 2-10 Spread – We track the 2-10 spread as an indicator of bank margin pressure.  Last week the 2-10 spread widened by less than a basis point to 170 bps.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - 2 10

 

13. XLF Macro Quantitative Setup – Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 1.1% upside to TRADE resistance and 0.8% downside to TRADE support.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - XLF

 

Margin Debt - January

We publish NYSE Margin Debt every month when it’s released. NYSE Margin debt hit its post-2007 peak in April of 2011 at $320.7 billion. The chart below shows the S&P 500 overlaid against NYSE margin debt going back to 1997. In this chart both the S&P 500 and margin debt have been inflation adjusted (back to 1990 dollar levels), and we’re showing margin debt levels in standard deviations relative to the mean covering the period 1. While this may sound complicated, the message is really quite simple. First, when margin debt gets to 1.5 standard deviations or greater, as it did last April, that has historically been a signal of extreme risk in the equity market - the last two times it did this the equity market lost half its value in the ensuing period. We flagged this for the first time back in May 2011. The second point is that margin debt trends tend to exhibit high degrees of autocorrelation. In other words, the last few months’ change in margin debt is the best predictor of the change we’ll see in the next few months. This is important because it means that margin debt, which retraced back to +0.55 standard deviations in November, still has a long way to go. We would need to see it approach -0.5 to -1.0 standard deviations before the trend runs its course. There’s plenty of room for short/intermediate term reversals within this broader secular move, as we saw in December and January's print of +0.53 and +0.70 standard deviations.  Overall, however, this setup represents a long-term headwind for the market. One limitation of this series is that it is reported on a lag.  The chart shows data through January.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: HOLDING STEADY - Margin Debt

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Allison Kaptur

 

Robert Belsky

 

Trouble viewing the charts in this email?  Please click the link at the bottom of the note to view in your browser 

 


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – March 12, 2012


As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 19 points or -0.50% downside to 1364 and 0.88% upside to 1383. 

 

SECTOR AND GLOBAL PERFORMANCE

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 1

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 2

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 3

 

 

EQUITY SENTIMENT:

  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: 1202 (-575) 
  • VOLUME: NYSE 719.04 (0.34%)
  • VIX:  17.11 -4.68% YTD PERFORMANCE: -26.88%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.57 from 0.98 (60.20%)

CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:


USD – the most important (and bullish on the margin for US Consumption Growth) recovery in the last few weeks has been the US Dollar Index recovering its intermediate-term TREND support of $79.36. With short-term Treasuries (2yr) breaking out above 0.26% TREND support and Gold struggling relative to oil, we are out of Gold for now. Considering the short side GLD and looking to buy USD back. 

  • TED SPREAD: 39.22
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.08%
  • 10-Year: 2.02 from 2.03
  • YIELD CURVE: 1.71 from 1.71 

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 11am: Export inspections: corn, soybeans, wheat
  • 11:30am, U.S. to sell $33b 3-mo., $31b 6-mo. bills
  • 1:00pm, U.S. to sell $32b 3-yr notes
  • 2:00pm, Monthly Budget, Feb., est. -$229.4b (prior -$222.5b)
  • 3:15 p.m. Bank of England’s Fisher speaks in London 

GOVERNMENT:

    • Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich hold rival events in Biloxi, Miss. ahead of Tuesday primary
    • House not in session this week, Senate in
    • Supreme Court in session, rulings expected 

WHAT TO WATCH:

  • Glencore said to have made approach for Viterra; Cargill may have expressed interest: WSJ
  • World Trade Organization may rule on appeal of decision that Boeing got at least $5.3b of illegal U.S. subsidies
  • Boehringer Ingelheim will consider buying Pfizer’s animal health business, provided co. sells it in parts: Economic Times
  • Fed’s extension of maturities, known as Operation Twist, may lower 10-yr yield by 85 bps: Bank of International Settlements
  • Fed said to be pushing back against some banks’ proposals to pay dividends, buy back shares after concluding lenders underestimating potential losses on consumer debt
  • Wells Fargo, Citigroup may join banks unleashing more than $9b in div. increases, shr buybacks if they get passing grades this week on Fed’s annual stress test
  • Chevron aims to catch up on Marcellus gas drilling: WSJ
  • Asahi Kasei agreed to buy Zoll Medical for up to $2.2b
  • Temenos, Misys fail to reach agreement, terminate talks; Misys says talks with Vista, CVC/ValueAct continuing
  • Global banking regulators will seek accord later this month on changes to draft liquidity rules criticized by some govts, lenders as threat to economic recovery
  • Average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations increased 12.31c to $3.8148/gallon over past 2 wks: Lundberg
  • Swatch to contest counterclaim by Tiffany & Co. over end of alliance between the cos.
  • Euro-area finance ministers meet to discuss Greece’s progress in fulfilling commitments under a 130b euro rescue program
  • Craig Bouchard, co-founder of Esmark, said to be close to announcing deal to buy HD Supply’s pipe, valve distribution unit for ~$500m
  • Disney’s “John Carter” took in $30.6m in U.S. Canada, trailing “The Lorax"; est. range: $25m-$38.9m
  • No U.S. IPOs scheduled 

EARNINGS

    • FuelCell Energy (FCEL) Pre-Mkt, $(0.06)
    • Silver Standard Resources (SSO CN) Pre-Mkt, $(0.12)
    • Urban Outfitters (URBN) 4pm, $0.29
    • Carmike Cinemas (CKEC) 4:02pm, $0.16
    • Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) 4:05pm, $(0.17)  

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)

  • Hedge Funds Trimmed Wagers Before Prices Rebounded: Commodities
  • Oil Drops From One-Week High as China’s Exports Miss Forecasts
  • Coffee Declines to 17-Month Low on Speculation of Brazil’s Sales
  • Copper Falls on Signals of Slowdown in China, Largest Consumer
  • Gold Declines as Commodities Slide, Hedge Funds Cut Holdings
  • India Ends Cotton-Shipment Ban, to Revalidate Existing Permits
  • Palm Oil Inventories in Malaysia Climb 2% as Exports Drop
  • Soybeans May Gain After USDA Cut Forecast on Global Inventories
  • Rubber Top May Be 358 Yen, Fibonacci Shows: Technical Analysis
  • Aluminum Stockpiles in Japan Drop From Highest Since 2009
  • TNK-BP Yield Drops Below Gazprom as Oil Beats Gas: Russia Credit
  • Bullish Oil Bets Drop as Tension With Iran Eases: Energy Markets
  • Soybean Imports by China May Rise to Record, Grain Bureau Says
  • Cotton Declines as India Scraps Export Ban
  • Glencore Said to Express an Interest in Grain-Handler Viterra
  • Chesapeake CEO Courts Asians for $100 Billion Resource: Energy 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 4

 

 

CURRENCIES


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 5

 

 

EUROPEAN MARKETS


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 6

 


ASIAN MARKETS


CHINA – worst Trade Deficit in 22yrs (let’s call that ever – and ever is a long time) at -$31.5B after last week saw that big sequential drop in Chinese IP growth (to 11% vs 14% in JAN despite Lunar shift). Growth Slowing. Chinese stocks looking for a rate cut.

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 7

 

 

MIDDLE EAST

 

ISRAEL someone knows something or someone thinks they do – what we can’t see here makes us call it out as the Tel Aviv25 Index not only moved to red for 2012 YTD last week, but is down another full 1% this morning (down -4% in since Feb 21). Iran?


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 8

 

 

 

The Hedgeye Macro Team

 

 



the macro show

what smart investors watch to win

Hosted by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough at 9:00am ET, this special online broadcast offers smart investors and traders of all stripes the sharpest insights and clearest market analysis available on Wall Street.

Entitled Credit

“If your success was due mostly to chance, how much credit are you entitled to take for it?”

-Daniel Kahneman

 

That’s an outstanding question from one of the outstanding contributors to our profession in the last decade. Now that The Baupost Group’s ($22B) founder Seth Klarman focused his recent quarterly letter on Dan Kahneman’s work, I feel special.

 

Do you feel special? Do you need someone “smart” to validate your ideas for them to be good ideas? Kahneman’s focus in Chapter 20 of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, The Illusion of Validity, at a bare minimum will get you thinking about what you really know.

 

“The illusion of skill is not only an aberration, it is deeply ingrained in the culture of the industry. Facts that challenge such basic assumptions – and thereby threaten people’s livelihood and self-esteem – are simply not absorbed.” (Kahneman, page 217)

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Threaten how people get paid in any diameter of this business, and I can assure you they, deep down, want you to fail. That’s the kind of adversity I live for. Welcome to Wall St 2.0.

 

On Larry Kudlow’s WABC Radio Show this weekend, Larry asked me a very simple question related to this topic of what Old Wall Street really wants: “Keith, do you think that Wall Street types want a weak dollar?”

 

Yep. Big time.

 

How else can you explain the US Dollar Index’s most recent history and the Street being willfully blind to its realities?

  1. Down -19% from Bernanke’s start date (2006) to the thralls of Qe2 (Q211)
  2. Down -12% from Obama/Geithner start date (2009) to the lows of 2011
  3. Down -4% from Bernanke’s January 25thpush to debauch to 2014 to the lows 1 month later (last wk of Feb)

Actually, the “smart” people would call this correlation instead of causality. Right. Right. Like there is no causality between the largest money printing and debt monetization in US history and the US Dollar that underpinned it.

 

Let’s get serious here folks. The reason why we’re one of the few Wall St 2.0 firms focused on the US Currency’s Credibility is that we don’t get paid exclusively by the short-term inflations of asset prices (stocks, commodities, etc.) born out of debasing it.

 

This American Purchasing Power point holds plenty relevant for the upcoming US Presidential Election too. There is currently a very high correlation between President Obama’s approval rating and the inflation of the US stock market. That’s why we have back-tested and built the Hedgeye Election Indicator using real-time market indicators. We’ll be updating that every Tuesday morning.

 

Back to the market.

 

Last week was a good week for my Strong Dollar = Strong America theme:

  1. US Dollar Index = recovered a +0.81% appreciation to $80.04
  2. CRB Commodity Inflation (18 commodity index) = deflated by -1.2% to 317
  3. Short-term US Treasury Yields (2-yr yields) = rose +18.5% to 0.32%

Since this all happened on the heels of continued Romney momentum in the Republican primary (sorry CNN fans, I know this wasn’t their headline), we’re left to wonder whether this weekend’s Rasmussen poll of Romney 48% vs Obama 43% will line up with our Hedgeye Election Indicator’s directional signal tomorrow morning.

 

Like everything we build here, our election indicator is built with math, not partisan politics. If you’re a Democrat and it’s hard to read the Rasmussen data point, tough cookies. It should be equally hard for Republicans to read our last Election Indicator of an Obama +58.4% probability to win.

 

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I am Canadian – and couldn’t be more proud to not be pigeon holed into being associated with an American political party. So, hopefully, for Election 2012, we can become one of your objective and bi-partisan sources in handicapping the #1 issue in this country – the economy.

 

On that score, there was a lot of spin on last week’s unemployment reporting – so let’s un-spin it:

  1. The US unemployment rate did not improve month-over-month, staying at 8.3% (only down 0.7% year-over-year)
  2. Taking out the government’s random Birth/Death “Adjustment”, the monthly payroll print was +28,000 y/y (yawn)
  3. At 63.9%, the US Labor Force Participation rate was second lowest ever (to January 2012’s print)

The lowest Labor Force Participation rate ever? Yes, ever is a long time. And so is the Entitled Credit that both the Bush and Obama Administrations have taken for stock and commodity market inflations that have netted out to ZERO US jobs added in the last decade. It’s the Weak Dollar Policy, stupid.

 

My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil (WTIC), US Dollar Index, and the SP500 are now $1, $104.98-108.65, $79.36-80.24, and 1, respectively.

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Entitled Credit - Chart of the Day

 

Entitled Credit - Virtual Portfolio



Triangulating Asia

Topics discussed this week:

  • Divergence in Monetary Policy: Decidedly Dovish Camp
  • Divergence in Monetary Policy: Not Dovish = Hawkish Camp
  • Time for Asian Equities & FX to Take a Breather?

Divergence in Monetary Policy: Decidedly Dovish Camp

Over the last week or so, we’ve gotten a number of key macro data points that would suggest to us that, at least for the time being, the region’s intermediate-term monetary policy outlook has become increasingly divergent. This could, of course, change with further data, but for now we feel compelled to highlight the disparity because it could potentially set the table some notable divergences in cross-asset performance going forward.

 

China: Make no mistake about it, China’s FEB inflation report was flat-out dovish, with CPI slowing to a 20-month low of +3.2% YoY and PPI slowing to a 27-month low of +0.0% YoY. The sharp decline CPI was predicated by an even sharper decline in food inflation – a key factor we have been flagging in recent weeks as supportive of continued downside in EM CPI readings.

 

Triangulating Asia - 1

 

Triangulating Asia - 2

 

From a policy impact perspective, we continue to believe inflation statistics, rather than the trend in growth data carries more weight in China from a monetary policy standpoint – especially given the rising domestic focus on income inequality as flagged during the National People’s Congress by Politburo member Bo Xilai and NPC chief Wu Bangguo. Inflation remains a tax on China’s rural poor.

 

Triangulating Asia - 3

 

From a growth perspective, the Chinese economy continues to trend along with our expectations and the directional targets of the State Council. To that tune, China’s JAN-FEB data came in fairly light and, while we don’t expect the PBOC to overreact in a dovish manner given the State’s policy objectives, we do think the not-so-hot economic data only amplifies the monetary easing signals being transmitted via China’s inflation statistics.

 

Triangulating Asia - 4

 

Triangulating Asia - CHINA

 

Japan: Not really a traditional call on the country’s GROWTH/INFLATION dynamics, we think the Bank of Japan is actually under accelerating political pressure to increase the size of their ¥30 trillion asset purchase program for a second-straight meeting to affirm their commitment to reaching their recently-adopted +1% inflation target.

 

Regarding the target specifically, Japanese lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been lobbying the central bank to actually increase it to +2-3%. While we don’t expect that to happen at next week’s monetary policy board meeting (MAR 12-13), we do expect Shirakawa and his team may appease policymakers in the form of incrementally dovish policy – if nothing but to shrink the growing political target on their backs. Both Japan’s currency (down -7.5% since the start of FEB) and Japanese breakeven rates agree with this view.

 

Triangulating Asia - 6

 

India: Overnight, the Reserve Bank of India came out and reduced the nation’s cash reserve ratio by -75bps to 4.75%. Two things stand out to us from this decision:

  1. The move was an acceleration in the magnitude of cuts to the cash reserve ratio, which was last reduced by -50bps on JAN 24; and
  2. The action came ahead of next week’s monetary policy board meeting (MAR 15), which suggests to us that they felt the urge to accelerate the steps they are taking to ease a liquidity crunch in the banking system. Thus far, the move has worked, with Indian banks borrowing the least of amount of cash from the central bank over any five-day period since early NOV.

Triangulating Asia - 7

 

The RBI’s increase in aggression with regards to monetary easing supports our view that rate cuts are definitively on the table at India’s upcoming monetary policy meeting. A recent string of weak growth data (slowing FEB Manufacturing and Services PMIs; Real GDP growth at a 10-quarter low in 4Q11) and benchmark wholesale prices slowing to a 26-month low of +6.6% YoY in JAN are supportive of this view as well as our near-term GROWTH/INFLATION modeling outlook.

 

Triangulating Asia - INDIA

 

Australia: Kudos to Glenn Stevens and Co. for resisting political pressure to lower interest rates (in order to provide some relief to the currency) at the last monetary policy board meeting on MAR 5. Based on the latest string of domestic and international growth data, however, we don’t think the Reserve Bank of Australia will be able to resist cutting it benchmark interest rate at their upcoming meeting on APR 2:

 

Domestic:

  • FEB Unemployment Rate: +5.2% vs. +5.1% prior
  • FEB Payrolls: -15.4k MoM vs. +46.2k prior
    • Full-Time: flat MoM vs. +15.3k prior
    • Part-Time: -15.4k MoM vs. +30.9k prior
  • FEB Services PMI: 46.7 vs. 51.9 prior
  • FEB Manufacturing PMI: 51.3 vs. 51.6 prior
  • FEB Construction PMI: 35.6 vs. 39.8 prior
  • 4Q GDP: +2.3% YoY vs. +2.6% prior
    • QoQ: +0.4% vs. +0.8% prior
  • FEB TD Securities Unofficial CPI: +2% YoY vs. +2.2% prior

China (25.1% of Aussie exports):

  • YTD Industrial Production: +11.4% YoY vs. +13.9% in DEC
  • YTD Urban Fixed Assets Investment: +21.5% YoY vs. +23.8% in DEC
  • YTD Retail Sales: +14.7% YoY vs. +17.1% in DEC

Japan (18.9% of Aussie exports):

  • FEB Manufacturing PMI: 50.5 vs. 50.7 prior
  • FEB Machine Tool Orders: -8.6% YoY vs. -6.9% prior

Ahead of the APR 3 monetary policy announcement, Australia will release its MAR Manufacturing PMI on MAR 31, its FEB CPI (unofficial reading) on APR 1, and its FEB Retail Sales data on APR 2. We expect each data point to continue trending dovishly with respect to monetary policy. Interestingly, Australian interest rate markets are misaligned with our near-term fundamental view from a directional perspective and, as such, we expect the Aussie dollar to come under pressure on an immediate-term TRADE duration given that our view is likely to get priced in over the coming weeks.

 

Triangulating Asia - 9

 

Thailand/Taiwan/Philippines/Vietnam: Officials from each central bank have come out in recent weeks pledging to maintain accommodative monetary policy amid heightened risks to domestic and global growth. Keeping it brief for now; we’re happy to follow up more if you’d like.

 

Divergence in Monetary Policy: Not Dovish = Hawkish Camp

 

South Korea:  Rhetorically, Korean policymakers have been the most hawkish throughout Asia in recent weeks:

 

Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong Soo at the G20 Summit (FEB) and per the latest monetary policy report (MAR 7):

  • “Oil prices are adding to inflation pressures.”
  • “The Bank of Korea will seek to lower inflation expectations.”
  •  “I am suspicious that more macroeconomic stimulus by advanced economies can be a solution to reviving growth.”
  • “The South Korean economy is unlikely to slow further.”

Finance Minster Bahk Jae Wan:

  • “Monetary policy in advanced economies is also adding to price pressures in [South Korea]. It’s not only the oil price hike but also quantitative easing in the major countries, like the U.S. and the European countries and Japan. Because of that there is an abundance of liquidity going around the world, so there is also an inflationary pressure from the outside.”
  •  “While inflation is likely to dip this month below the +3.4 percent rate in January and be even lower in March, instability in the oil market threatens to push overall consumer prices above the government’s +3.2 percent target for the year.”
  • “Rising oil prices are one of the biggest concerns for South Korea... A +10 percent increase in the cost of crude pushes inflation up by +0.12 percentage point.”
  • “I am hopeful that the Korean economy will bottom out in the first quarter and go on the path of recovery in the second quarter.”

Looking forward, we don’t expect the Bank of Korea to actually hike rates anytime soon – a view supported by two things:

  1. The U.S. Dollar Index is holding above its intermediate-term TREND line of support and we view stability/strength in the USD as a clear headwind for commodity inflation/perpetuator of commodity deflation; and
  2. Our baseline GROWTH/INFLATION/POLICY model suggests Korea is under no pressure to move rates higher at least through 2Q.

Triangulating Asia - 10

 

Triangulating Asia - KOREA

 

That said, however, Korean interest rate markets certainly side with our fundamental view that there is asymmetric risk for the Bank of Korea to tighten, rather than ease monetary policy over the intermediate-term TREND. For example, even throughout the thralls of the 2H11 risk aversion, neither 1yr Sovereign Yields nor 1yr O/S Interest Rate Swaps began pricing in any rate cuts out of the Bank of Korea – a notable divergence from many of the region’s other economies.

 

Triangulating Asia - 12

 

Indonesia: Since the start of 4Q11, Bank Indonesia has been among the world’s most aggressive central banks, lowering its benchmark interest rate -100bps to 5.75% in a series of three cuts (-25bps, -50bps, -25bps). Their aggression has been well-deserved; Indonesian CPI has been nearly halved, slowing from a cyclical peak of +7% YoY in JAN ’11 to +3.6% in FEB. 

 

Triangulating Asia - 13

 

At its latest meeting, however, the bank refrained from lowering rates further, as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet proposes to hike the price of subsided fuel by +33% to 1,500 rupiah per liter in addition to a proposed +10% hike in electricity prices. If enacted, both proposals threaten to apply a fair amount of upside pressure on domestic inflation readings in the coming months. In its latest policy decision, Bank Indonesia board members said they would “respond to a surge in costs, if needed”.

 

For now, Indonesia’s sovereign debt and currency markets foresee a continued dovish outlook; as a result, the latter is underperforming other regional currencies vs. the USD across multiple durations:

  • 1 WK: IDR/USD -0.2% vs. a regional median decline of -0.1%
  • 1 MO: IDR/USD -1.7% vs. a regional median decline of -0.2%
  • 3 MO: IDR/USD -0.6% vs. a regional median gain of +2.2%
  • 6 MO: IDR/USD -6.1% vs. a regional median decline of -0.3%
  • 12 MO: IDR/USD -3.8% vs. a regional median decline of -0.4%
  • YTD: IDR/USD -0.3% vs. a regional median gain of +3.0%

Triangulating Asia - 14

 

All told, the energy price proposals loom in the distance and are very likely to shape the course of Indonesian monetary policy throughout 2012. We’ll find out more soon; approval of the 2012 budget review is due over the next month or so.

 

Given the likelihood of passage amid the recent run-up in global petroleum prices, we would expect to see the rupiah outperform other regional currencies over the intermediate-term TREND – a trend that is likely to be coincident with a continuation of Indonesia’s recent equity market underperformance. In leading fashion, the Jakarta Composite Index is up only +4.4% YTD vs. a regional median gain of +12%.

 

New Zealand/Malaysia: Officials from each central bank have come out in recent weeks highlighting domestic and international inflationary pressures amid holding interest on rates. Keeping it brief for now; we’re happy to follow up more if you’d like.

 

Time for Asian Equities & FX to Take a Breather?

While it’s certainly not in our nature to make a bevy of broad, explicit calls across an entire region, we are keen to flag what we think could be appropriate opportunities to revisit one’s exposure to certain asset classes from a short-to-intermediate-term perspective. On that note, we think there is a great deal of good news priced into Asian equities and currencies at the current juncture. While that is not to say additional gains are not to be had in the near term, we would be leery of further strength across Asian equity markets and FX over the intermediate term.

 

Generally speaking, global investor complacency is just shy of APR ’11 highs, as measured by our proprietary Global Macro Volatility Index – a series that coagulates various volatility measures across multiple asset classes (equities/FX/fixed income/commodities).

 

Triangulating Asia - 15

 

Of course, investor complacency can last for unreasonably long amounts of time, so we aren’t making the call that reaching this level will be followed promptly by a sell-off. We are, however, flagging that there is an asymmetric setup for mean reversion over the intermediate term. To note, our volatility index is inversely correlated to the MSCI All-Country Asia Pacific Equity Index to the tune of -64% over the past three years and the inverse correlation is even higher for Asian currencies (-83% over that same duration).

 

Triangulating Asia - 16

 

Triangulating Asia - 17

 

Fundamental Price Data

All % moves week-over-week unless otherwise specified.

  • EQUITIES:
    • Median: -0.8%
    • High: New Zealand +1.7%
    • Low: Hong Kong -2.2%
    • Callout: Japan +17.4% YTD vs. a regional median gain of +12%
  • FX (vs. USD):
    • Median: -0.1%
    • High: Philippine peso +0.4%
    • Low: Australian dollar -1.5%
    • Callout: New Zealand dollar +11.5% over the LTM vs. a regional median gain of +0.4%
  • S/T SOVEREIGN DEBT (2YR YIELD):
    • High: Indonesia +14bps
    • Low: Australia -14bps
    • Callout: Philippines +73bps YTD
  • L/T SOVEREIGN DEBT (10YR YIELD):
    • High: Indonesia +21bps
    • Low: Australia, Vietnam -10bps
    • Callout: Thailand +17bps YTD
  • SOVEREIGN YIELD SPREADS (10s-2s):
    • High: India, Indonesia +7bps
    • Low: Philippines -12bps
    • Callout: Indonesia +11bps YTD
  • 5YR CDS:
    • Median: -1.1%
    • High: Australia +10.4%
    • Low: China -10.7%
    • Callout: Japan -6.4% over the last month vs. a regional median decline of -2.4%
  • 1YR O/S INTEREST RATE SWAPS:
    • High: India, Thailand +3bps
    • Low: China -17bps
    • Callout: China -107bps over the last six months
  • O/N INTERBANK RATES:
    • High: Japan +1bps
    • Low: India -30bps
    • Callout: China -22bps wk/wk
  • CORRELATION RISK: The Hedgeye Global Macro Volatility Index is inversely correlated to the MSCI All-Country Asia Pacific Equity Index to the tune of -64% over the past three years and the inverse correlation is even higher for Asian currencies (-83% over that same duration).


Darius Dale

Senior Analyst


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