“My government, will correct all of this.”
-Stephen W. Kearny
General Stephen Watts Kearny was one of the central figures in mid 19th century Western American history. Albeit for very brief periods of time, he was the Military Governor of both New Mexico (1846) and California (1847).
The aforementioned quote comes from Chapter 12 of the most recent book I’ve been reading on the conquest of the American West, Blood and Thunder, where “On August 14th, 1846, two days after the Navajo raid on Las Vegas, General Kearny marched with his Army of the West into the town’s central plaza…” and proclaimed his mystery of ill-fated central planning faith.
Within 6 months (January of 1847), Kearny’s “government” was nowhere to be found as the dead (scalped) body of the Governor he put in place in New Mexico (Charles Bent) “lay naked on the floor in a congealed pool of blood.” (page 221) The risk management lesson here is one that is never the same, but usually rhymes – beware of short-term government promises.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Stock and commodity markets appear to have been promised that European and American central planners are once again going to provide them the elixir of a no-volume but “up year-to-date” life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this weekend.
That’s all good and fine, until it isn’t. Super Mario Draghi just cancelled his trip to the central planning summer play-land of the modern American West, and the Gold price doesn’t seem to be pleased by that turn of events this morning – not one bit.
As a refresher on how the market’s game of front-running both the Fed and ECB works, both political pandering entities are charged with keeping market prices up through money printing, bailout promises, and currency debasement.
Here’s the update on what US Dollar Debauchery has done for this 30-day bull run in stocks and commodities (inverse correlations between USD Dollar Index and the big stuff people are speculating on):
- Gold = -0.85
- Silver = -0.87
- Oil (WTIC) = -0.81
- CRB Index = -0.74
- CRB Raw Industrials Index = -0.79
- SP500 = -0.83
European and Global Equities alike get even more pop on the Fed’s Qe rumoring with 30-day USD inverse correlations for the EuroStoxx600 and MSC World Equity indices currently running at -0.88 and -0.86, respectively.
So, your “governments” are going to “correct all of this” by attempting to convince you that asset price inflation (commodities in particular, because that’s what’s driven the beta of the equity indices) is growth.
*note to real-world consumer self: inflation is not growth.
Maybe that’s why old Chavez is having such a tough time in the Venezuelan national polls, falling behind Radonski for the first time in a long time by a fairly wide margin (47.7% to 45.9%) despite the Venezuelan stock market being up +153% YTD!
Pardon? You mean people aren’t as stupid as politicians think they are? You mean the stock market being “up year-to-date” doesn’t reflect the fully bought and paid-for political messaging of the common man’s economic health?
Venezuela, by the way, devalued its currency in the last year. See Darius Dale’s Chart of the Day for what looks suspiciously Weimar Republic, 1920s style.
Maybe I have this wrong. Maybe Americans are truly as dumb as the politicians who are making these short-term broken promises of “price stability, full employment, and economic growth”…
Maybe I don’t.
Now that 2 of the world’s Top 4 economies (China and Japan) have guided down their GDP growth expectations this month (Japan did last night), maybe someone sane out there is starting to figure this out too. The US Treasury Bond market certainly just did.
Looking at what’s happened to market prices in the last week isn’t the end of this story, but it’s certainly instructive:
- US Treasury Yields have dropped -13% in basically a straight line (from 1.89% to 1.64% on the 10yr this morning)
- US Stocks (the SP500 and Russell2000) have fallen from their mid-August highs to make lower-highs versus March
- US Equity Volatility (VIX) = +22% “off the lows” (in a week), bouncing hard off our 14-15 TAIL risk zone
- Asian Equities: China made a fresh YTD low yesterday (-16.5% since May); Japan = -12% since the March top
- European Equities: DAX, CAC, IBEX – pick your index have all made lower-highs on lower and lower volumes
- US Dollar Index = down -3% in August, from its top to bottom
I know, I know. This whole Currency Correlation thing doesn’t fit the Bernanke/Geithner narrative because someone in their group-thinking Keynesian business schools told them “correlation is not causality.”
Someone better tell that to the entire market that’s keying off the causality that is the latest rumor about what Bernanke does next then, because US Dollar bets (CFTC contracts) just went from +311,000 on the bull side in June to -132,000 on the bear side pre Jackson Hole.
Correcting All of This will be abrupt. What started as a localized grievance against money printing (late 2007) and bank bailouts (2008-2009) now moves to a national debate about the stability of your hard earned currency and long-term (inflation adjusted) economic health.
Our immediate-term risk ranges of support and resistance for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, 10yr Treasury Yields, and the SP500 are now $1, $112.28-114.26, $81.11-82.01, $1.23-1.25, 1.63-1.76%, and 1, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – August 28, 2012
As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 18 points or -0.67% downside to 1401 and 0.61% upside to 1419.
SECTOR AND GLOBAL PERFORMANCE
- ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: on 08/27 NYSE -149
- Decrease versus the prior day’s trading of 855
- VOLUME: on 08/27 NYSE 504.30
- Decrease versus prior day’s trading of -2.13%
- VIX: as of 08/27 was at 16.35
- Increase versus most recent day’s trading of 7.71%
- Year-to-date decrease of -30.13%
- SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: as of 08/27 closed at 1.80
- Down from the day prior at 2.23
CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:
BONDS – sell stocks and buy bonds? at 1.89% in the 10yr, we did – now we’re staring down the pipe of a 1.64% 10yr yield this morning and a Yield Spread that’s pancaked in the last week back down to 137bps wide. Commodity inflation is not growth. It slows real growth.
- TED SPREAD: as of this morning 33.35
- 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: as of this morning 0.10%
- 10-Year: as of this morning 1.64%
- Decrease from prior day’s trading of 1.65%
- YIELD CURVE: as of this morning 1.37
- Down from prior day’s trading 1.39
MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates)
- 7:30am/8:45am: ICSC/Redbook weekly sales
- 9am: S&P/CS 20 City Home Price Index M/m, June, est. 0.4% (prior 0.91%)
- 9am: S&P/CS U.S. Home Price Index Y/y, 2Q (prior -1.92%)
- 9am: S&P/CS Home Price Index, June (prior 138.96)
- 10am: Conference Board Consumer Confidence, Aug., est. 66.0 (prior 65.9)
- 10am: Richmond Fed Manuf. Index, Aug., est. -10 (prior -17)
- 11am: Fed to purchase $4.5b-$5.5b notes 11/15/2020-8/15/2022
- 11:30am: U.S. to sell $40b 4-wk. bills
- 1pm: U.S. to sell $35b 2-yr. notes
- 4:30pm: API inventories
- Republican National Convention in Tampa, Day 2: Prime-time speakers include Ann Romney; Rick Santorum; Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell; N.J. Gov. Chris Christie
- House, Senate not in session
- Arizona primaries: Rep. Ron Barber vs State Rep. Matt Heinz in Democratic primary; in Senate race, Rep. Jeff Flake vs Wil Cardon in Republican primary, polls close 9pm
- Biotechnology Industry Organization hosts conference call on “Renewable Fuel Standard and the Drought,” focusing on governors of several states petitioning EPA to waive requirements of federal renewable fuel standard, 2pm
- Acting FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg discusses Quarterly Banking Profile, 10am
- Center for Strategic and International Studies holds logistics conference on “Creating a 21st Century Supply Chain,” with HPQ’s Tony Prophet, World Bank’s Bernard Hoekman, 2pm
WHAT TO WATCH:
- Tropical storm Isaac on verge of becoming hurricane today
- Isaac seen making U.S. release from SPR more likely
- GM said to plan halt of Chevrolet Volt production for 4 wks
- Apple seeks ban on sales of 8 Samsung phones in U.S.
- Forest Laboratories adopts shareholder-rights plan
- U.S. farm income seen up as drought prices overtake lower yields
- ECB to urge weaker Basel liquidity rule on crisis concern
- Spain sells $4.5b of bills exceeding target
- Standard Chartered faces U.S. fine over Iran: N.Y. Post
- Japan cuts economic assessment as BNP says contraction looms
- Canada’s Bank of Montreal, Bank of Novia Scotia report earns
- Toyota offers $2b to buy 70% of CFAO to expand in Africa
- Knight Capital to name 3 new directors today: WSJ
- Sanderson Farms (SAFM) 6:30am, $1.07
- Brown Shoe (BWS) 7am, $0.03
- Cyberonics (CYBX) 7am, $0.36
- Bank of Montreal (BMO CN) 7:26am, C$1.34
- Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS CN) 7:30am, C$1.19
- Movado (MOV) 7:30am, $0.26
- Ship Finance (SFL) Pre-mkt, $0.42
COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)
GOLD – bailout bulls did not like the headline this morning that Draghi isn’t going to Jackson Hole. The Dallas Fed (Fisher) put the heat on Bernanke yesterday again too (don’t underestimate the GOP convention launching w/ a ticking debt clock in the background today either); Romney picking up some momentum this week could be Dollar bullish; gold bearish, on the margin, from lower-highs.
- Robusta Coffee Beats Arabica as Folgers Cut Prices: Commodities
- Barclays Gutted in Energy Trade as Bonus Limits Spark Exodus
- Isaac Seen Making U.S. Release From Oil Stockpiles More Likely
- China May Sell Cotton From Stockpile, Release Import Quota
- Oil Advances on U.S. Supply Forecast, Venezuela Refinery Blaze
- Corn Declines as Rains May Ease Dry Conditions in Southern U.S.
- Copper Nears One-Week Low on Signs of Slowing Asian Economies
- Gold Set to Gain in London on Demand for Protection of Wealth
- ICCO Reduces Global Cocoa Shortage Forecast by 56% This Year
- Iron Ore Poised to Drop as Slowing Growth in China Cuts Demand
- Louisiana Preps for Oil Dredged From the Gulf by Isaac’s Power
- Tanker Trackers Turn Bearish as IEA Trims Oil Forecast: Freight
- Olam Fourth-Quarter Profit Falls 14% on Industrial Raw Materials
- Crude Supplies Fall to Five-Month Low in Survey: Energy Markets
- Storm Isaac May Reach Hurricane Strength
- Sugar Nears Two Year-Low as Brazil Crop Speeds Up; Coffee Rises
- U.S. Farm Income Seen Up as Drought’s Prices Trump Lower Yields
JAPAN – could Japanese GDP growth go negative sequentially? They do have to adjust real growth for imported energy inflation (unless they make up the number like Spain does); and the Nikkei continues to make lower-highs (down -12% from its March top)
The Hedgeye Macro Team
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The Macau Metro Monitor, August 28, 2012
NOT ENOUGH MANPOWER IN GAMING INDUSTRY Macau Business
Macau’s casinos don’t have enough manpower and the situation will only get worse next year, as the government increases the cap on the number of live gaming tables, warns Macau Gaming Industry Employees Association, João Bosco Cheang Hong Lok. “Next year, the number of gaming tables will increase by 3%. I believe many casinos will increase the number of their gaming tables and by then, staff shortages in the gaming industry will be even tighter,” Cheang said. Cheang also noted that starting November 1, all those below 21 years of age would be banned from working inside the city’s casinos.
NEW ALL-TIME HIGH FOR IMPORTED WORKERS Macau Business
The number of imported workers in Macau reached a new all-time high in July. According to official data from the police released yesterday, Macau had a total of 104,938 imported workers by July-end, 60% of whom came from the mainland. That is above the previous peak, recorded in September 2008, when Macau’s imported labour workforce reached a total of 104,281 people. Hotels and restaurants are the number one employer for imported workers, giving work to 30% of the total.
Takeaway: There's a flip side to the chest-beating that the $RL bulls will all come out with regarding the CFO announcement.
This RL announcement of Chris Peterson as CFO is net positive. The guy is from P&G, and formerly the head of its largest division. He’s going from presiding over a $45bn business to a roughly $10bn biz (wholesale equivalent). You can bet that every sell side analyst out there will come out this morning beating their chest defending how great this is. The reality is that they're probably right... it is.
Roger Farrah runs an extraordinarily tight ship, and winning the top finance/ops job over a pool of thousands of prospects is a feat in itself. Moreover, the role of CFO has historically been somewhat weak at RL, but we can’t imagine that Mr. Peterson would leave his post at PG for a diminished role in a company 1/5 the size of his current business.
There is one negative consideration, however…Executives from Packaged Goods companies don’t exactly have the best track record in coming into fashion businesses and knocking the cover off the ball. It’s a fundamentally different business. When a CPG company beats/misses, it’s usually by 2-3% top line, and 6-8% EBIT. But in a discretionary fashion business with an outsourced production model, we’re talking 5-10% rev variations and 20-30% EBIT swings. Capital allocation is radically different, and takes place more heavily on the P&L (and off balance sheet) than it does in PP&E and in vertical sourcing ops. Here’s a few examples of executives that were lauded as being exceptional ‘breaths of fresh air’ but turned out to be disasterous.
- Paul Charron: Everyone loved the guy (Campell Soup), but in reality he destroyed LIZ.
- Bill McComb: Cleaned up Charron’s mess, though admittedly got into a tougher bind than he expected coming from JNJ.
- Bill Perez: When he fell into the fountain at Nike’s campus on his first day, he should have known his days were numbered. Going from SC Johnson to Nike is not easy. Sometimes you need to go with a gut feel in pricing a pair of shoes at $300 regardless of what the data says. Bill could not understand this.
- Bob Eckert: From Kraft to Mattel. He’ll be the first to admit how fundamentally different the two businesses are and how much it hurts to not be on trend for an extended time period of time (Barbie v Bratz).
- Paul Pressler: From Disney and Avon to Gap…he couldn’t cut the mustard. Ousted after two bad holiday seasons.
- Glenn Murphy: From Shoppers Drug Mart to Gap. Lately credited with the stock’s rebound. But financial engineering has been the main driver, until JCP ceded share six months ago at a time when, by chance, GPS got colors right.
- Ron Johnson: JCP from Apple. ‘Nuff said.
Our point is, by no means, that Peterson will follow the footsteps of these gentlemen. Again, this is Roger’s show. But simply that the sell side will grant this guy a free pass. Let’s practice a little more risk management and be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead of him.
Takeaway: Isaac does not appear to be a comparable scale hurricane to Katrina, but Isaac will likely drive gasoline prices higher in the short term.
If there is one thing we have noticed about tropical storms and hurricanes, it is that when they are built up aggressively by the main stream media they typically disappoint in terms of their scale. With comparisons to Katrina, tropical storm Isaac may already be in this category of being overhyped. Nonetheless, Isaac is on his way and will, at the very least, disrupt oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico for a period of time.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Isaac is very likely to evolve from a tropical storm into a hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The current projection from the NHC is that Isaac will be a Category 1 hurricane, based on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane activity, with winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. Katrina was a Cat 5 storm with winds above 157 miles per hour. The unseasonably warm temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is the wild card that could strengthen Isaac beyond Cat 1.
The computer models being run by the NHC, as outlined in the map below, show Isaac making landfall by late tomorrow evening or early Wednesday morning. By midday Wednesday, the storm will be fully landed. The likely landing location is the 300-mile stretch from the bayous of southwest New Orleans to the edge of the Florida panhandle.
Even if Isaac does take land as a more moderate storm, it appears to have a similar trajectory as Katrina and may well be on track for New Orleans by late Tuesday or early Wednesday based on its projected speed of 14 miles per hour. A key risk being touted by the NHC is that Isaac may make landfall coincident with high tide, which would lead to excessive flooding.
The larger risk, especially for an increasingly tepid consumer, is the impact of the storm on energy prices over the next couple of months. As it relates to exposure from Isaac:
- The Gulf Coast is home to 23% of U.S. oil production and 44% of refining capacity;
- In total, more than 346 oil platforms (58% of the total) and 41 rigs (54% of total) have already been evacuated;
- Currently, 1.0MM barrels per day is shut in (78% of GOM oil production) and 48% of gulf natural gas production ; and
- Based on Hedgeye’s count, more than 1.1 million barrels of refining capacity will be taken offline in Lousiana, including a 490,000 barrel facility in Garyville, Lousville.
On the positive side of the equation, most refiners are built to withstand up to Cat 2 hurricanes. Therefore, unless Isaac accelerates beyond its current Cat 1 projection, long term damage to refiners or oil production facilities is unlikely.
In the chart below, from Forbes, we show the active oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on Isaac’s current path, the storm will travel directly through the heart of the oil producing region of the GOM.
In the last chart we highlight the spiking of gasoline prices that occurred in conjunction with Katrina. Gasoline prices spiked almost 50% and remained elevated for a couple of months. With national gasoline prices, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration, at $3.72 per gallon, a price shock from this level would be catastrophic for the U.S. consumer. Undoubtedly, it would also create a very negative situation for the President Obama heading into the November election.
So, even if Isaac is being overhyped, the storm’s path and intensity over the next two days will be critical in assessing whether there will be long term damage and subsequently elevated energy prices in the coming months.
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research
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