The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 3rd of September through the 7th is full of critical releases and events. Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.
Takeaway: We continue to expect Bernanke to disappoint his #BailoutBeggar followers.
Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough appeared on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report last night to chime in on today's market activity and expectations for Ben Bernanke’s meeting at Jackson Hole today and throughout the weekend. To access the video, please click on the following link: http://app.hedgeye.com/unlocked_content/22879-waiting-for-bernanke-s-next-move.
The fact of the matter is that the general public is a proponent of a stronger US dollar and will continue to be bullish going forward. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are both advocates of a stronger US dollar; this is clearly something people can get behind.
Should Romney win the election, he’ll need to give Bernanke the boot. He’s got no growth, no employment gains and consumer confidence is down. Obama and Bernanke’s strategy is to keep the stock market up and yesterday the Dow dropped 100 points. As far as our strategy goes, we’re basically on the sidelines playing it safe until Jackson Hole is over and done with. It’s sad that we need to wait for central planners to speak before making moves, but that’s life. Deal with it.
Enjoy the long weekend with your respective families.
The Hedgeye Macro Team
SEE YOU AT JACKSON HOLE
CLIENT TALKING POINTS
Japan is getting hit in the gut and no one is lending a helping hand to help them stand back up. On top of the $26.3 billion loss suffered by their Public Pension Fund, the Nikkei is down -1.6% into month end for August and is down -3.7% since August 23. Oh, and it’s also down -13.8% since the all important month of March. For 20 years this country has been in the gutter. But as long as they follow the path of Keynesian economics and keep printing that yen, everything will be OK (until it’s not).
The truth can be hard to swallow but sometimes you need to buck up and face it head on. Let’s look at some recent economic data and number play that reflects the global environment we live in where growth slows and printing presses never get shut off, shall we? We’ll make it easy on you and will focus on US numbers only. If we gave you the full breakdown, we’d have to call you a doctor:
1. US Jobless Claims rose wk-over-wk to 374,000 vs 366,000 two weeks ago
2. US Consumer Confidence fell -8% month-over-month in AUG to 60.6 vs 65.9 in JUL3
3. US GDP Growth for Q212 slowed to 1.73% vs +1.97% in Q112
SEE YOU AT JACKSON HOLE
Today’s the big day. Will we get another round of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve or not? That is THE question. And furthermore, is QE already priced into the market? Will it even matter if we get another round? Unfortunately, we have to stay on the sidelines while we wait for Bernanke to speak. That’s the problem with these central planning catalysts; you basically can’t do anything until you have them come out, clear the pomp and circumstance and tell the investing public what they plan on doing. At least after today we can return to trading knowing what the state of monetary policy is.
U.S. Equities: Flat
Int'l Equities: Flat
Fixed Income: Flat
Int'l Currencies: Flat
TOP LONG IDEAS
NIKE INC (NKE)
Nike’s challenges are well-telegraphed. But the reality is that its top line is extremely strong, and the Olympics has just given Nike all the ammo it needs to marry product with marketing and grow in the 10% range for the next 2 years. With margin pressures easing, and Cole Haan and Umbro soon to be divested, the model is getting more focused and profitable.
FIFTH & PACIFIC COMPANIES (FNP)
The former Liz Claiborne (LIZ) is on the path to prosperity. There’s a fantastic growth story with FNP. The Kate Spade brand is growing at an almost unprecedented clip. Save for Juicy Couture, the company has brands performing strongly throughout its entire portfolio. We’re bullish on FNP for all three durations: TRADE, TREND and TAIL.
LAS VEGAS SANDS (LVS)
LVS finally reached and has maintained its 20% Macau gaming share, thanks to Sands Cotai Central (SCC). With SCC continuing to ramp up, we expect that level to hold and maybe, even improve. Macau sentiment has reached a yearly low but we see improvement ahead.
THREE FOR THE ROAD
TWEET OF THE DAY
“figured trading volume will fall off a cliff at 12 noon today... holiday weekend” -@tjtakes
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.” -Edith Sitwell
STAT OF THE DAY
$26.3 billion. The amount of the loss suffered at the Japan Public Pension Fund.
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“Duration neglect is normal in a story, and the ending often defines its character.”
That’s one of my favorite risk management quotes from Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. It comes from Chapter 36 titled “Life As a Story.” After this morning’s central planning event, take some time to think this weekend. Re-read the last 30 pages of one of the most important books of the year. If there ever was a time to embrace the uncertainty of Behavioral Economics, it’s now.
Storytelling is at the core of everything we do. Storytelling can be personal and political. Storytelling can be short or long-term. But no matter what your confirmation bias or duration, storytelling, at some point, meets a fork in the road between fact and fiction. Whether or not you are proactively prepared for that moment is purely up to you.
Two weeks ago, the Bailout Bull Storytelling was that “Bernanke and Draghi are going to provide a one-two punch in Jackson Hole.” Stock were higher and bonds were lower. Since then: 1. Draghi bagged the meeting, 2. Bernanke’s boys are waffling with “it’s too close to call”, and 3. US Equity Volatility (VIX) is up +34%.
As Ray Dalio likes to say, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “what is true?”
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
The other thing Ray Dalio reminds us (from the Introduction of Ray Dalio’s Principles) is to “above all else, think for yourself.” That’s pretty important when considering what sources are credible in this profession. Many of them have not evolved since 2007.
Duration Neglect is one thing, but being unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction can bankrupt you at the poker table as fast as it can in your personal and professional life. From a Global Macro perspective, no matter what these broken sources tell you this weekend as they live large on your dime in Jackson Hole, Growth Is Slowing.
When I say Growth, I mean Global Growth Data – here it is in the last 48 hours:
So, even if you’re still in the “growth is back and earnings are great camp” (Tom Lee, Ed Hyman, Laszlo Birinyi, etc.) from March of 2012 – at this point, if your storytelling is based on the USA alone – you’ve just gotta change your story to begging for bailouts.
To review, the call we made in March of 2012 was that Global Growth Slows As Inflation Accelerates. That, on the margin, is precisely what’s happened here in August versus July – primarily because of the inflation part of that statement. Food and Oil prices matter.
Now if you turn around and tell me that inflation fell in May versus where it was in March, I’ll agree with you. It did. That’s why we bought the SP500 at its long-term TAIL support line of 1283. But, to be consistent, don’t forget what central planning does: A) It Shortens Economic Cycles and B) Amplifies Market Volatility. So you have to keep moving.
Back to that US GDP Growth print this week of 1.73%:
In this No Trust; No Volume market, one of the most neglected long-term issues remains confidence. Small business owners in America like me aren’t morons. We aren’t going to ramp Fixed Investment growth, Inventories, and Hiring into a central planning event.
That’s not me telling my own story – the only inventory I have in oversupply are tweets. That’s the story within the latest US GDP report:
Keynesian Quacks will tell you that if you debauch the currency of a nation, “exports will ramp” and a bunch of other stuff will multiply upon that as Ben Bernanke and Larry Summers raise the oceans to escape velocity.
Not this time. No dear Sirs; this time is not different. This story will have an ending - and your Duration Neglect will be the cross of the families bearing your name for many years to come.
My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, 10yr UST Yield, and the SP500 are now $1, $111.12-113.74, $81.11-82.18, $1.23-1.26, 1.56-1.65%, and 1, respectively.
Enjoy your long weekend,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
This note was originally published at 8am on August 17, 2012 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“People can forsee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”
In life generally and life as stock market operators in particular, our biggest enemy is often ourselves. As humans, we have mental biases. As much as we do to train ourselves out of them, they still broadly exist. In global macro analysis, an important area in which we see biases manifest themselves is political analysis. Particularly in the United States, people are tied to a political party, so have a difficult time seeing the world outside of that specific lens.
Stepping back, as many of you perhaps already know, in analyzing the top down prospects for a country and in particular the currency, we focus on three key factors: growth, inflation, and policy. In many instances, the policy and/or perception of future policy is the most critical factor. In the United States, the President, and his or her party if they control Congress, have the power to set the economic agenda, especially related to fiscal outcomes. Moreover, they appoint the Federal Reserve Board which has independent (in theory) control of monetary policy.
Understanding this, makes one realize that having a view of politics is important. The negative thing about analyzing politics, as I noted above, is that most people have their partisan biases. The positive aspect is that there is a lot of data to help us establish an unbiased view. This morning I’m going to spend some time going through the relevant data. That said, I’ll get to the punch line: Obama has the consistent edge. That might not make everyone happy, but that is a fact for now.
On these broad national indicators, Obama has an edge, even if a slight one. The closeness of the aforementioned indicators suggests that this election will once again come down to the key battleground states and the overall electoral college map.
Based on the most recent polls, Obama has 237 electoral college votes and Romney has 191 electoral college votes. This is based on state level polls that are outside the margin of error. Even as Obama has an edge, 270 votes are needed to obtain the Presidency, so his edge is simply that, an edge. The states that remain in the toss up category combine for 110 votes and include: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Ultimately, this election will be won or lost in those states.
For those of you who haven’t stopped reading and gotten bored because of my political meanderings this morning, you probably think that I’m painting a negative picture for Romney. And on some level you are correct, although I’m not painting but rather just relaying the facts. In that vein, there are a couple of facts that also auger positively for Romney – Obama’s approval rating and voter engagement.
In terms of approval rating, Obama’s approval rating is low for a President that hopes to get re-elected. According to Gallup, the most long running pollster in this category, Obama’s approval rating is currently 45 and his term average is 49. The only Presidents with lower approval ratings were Truman, Carter, and Nixon. Obviously, this not an enviable bunch and an approval rating that is broadly indicative of dissatisfaction with the Obama administration.
The more interesting wild card in this election will be voter engagement. This is the factor that led to the Republicans doing much better than expected in the midterm elections. As well, this is likely a key reason that Romney selected Paul Ryan, a conservative and Tea Party favorite, to motivate the base. Getting out to your base is from Karl Rove’s electoral strategy 101 and is a fundamental reason why George W. Bush won two elections.
So, not to pour cold water on the positive picture I’ve just painted above for partisan Democrats, but early indicators suggest that Republicans may be much more engaged that Democrats this electoral cycle. The most recent evidence comes from a USA Today / Gallup poll earlier this week which showed that 74% of Republicans are thinking “quite a lot” about the election, while only 61% of Democrats are doing the same. This may be a meaningful and relevant edge for the election.
This election is likely to be tight, with Obama having a slight edge currently, but Romney has a number of factors that could swing his way, especially as he begins to outspend Obama this fall. Some suggest he may be able to outspend Obama almost 2:1 in key states. Regardless of your political affiliation, as a stock market operator if you get policy right, you will get a lot of other things right. And policy starts with politics.
Keep your head up and stick on the ice,
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research