“Man has only one tool to fight error: reason.”
-Ludvig von Mises
The goal of this game isn’t to be bullish or bearish; it’s to be right. A long time ago, I’d start with my own pig-headed fundamental reasoning on why a market price should go up or down. Now I let the market tell me what to do. It’s a humbling learning process.
So is embracing uncertainty. And that’s really what we do here as a research and risk management team. Every day we wake-up with a clean sheet of paper in our notebooks. We’re always looking forward to markets surprising us with something bullish or bearish.
All the while, Old Wall Street is still trying to sell you certainty. ‘The SP500 will trade at this PE’ and ‘our year-end target is’ this or that. That’s as over as people assuming that market risk isn’t non-linear. Risk changes fast. It’s globally interconnected – and it goes both ways.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Whether it was the German DAX breaking out to higher-highs yesterday or the SP500 busting a move back above our intermediate-term TREND line of 1419 resistance yesterday, bullish is as bullish does.
If the SP500 were to sell off from here and close back below 1419, I’d call that bearish. Everything that matters in our macro model occurs on the margin. It’s really not that complicated once you accept the deep simplicity of it all.
What’s the Bullish Reasoning behind the SP500 trading higher from here?
- Commodity Deflation = a global consumer tax cut (Consumption = 71% of the US Economy)
- Treasuries Making Lower-Highs = big opportunity for US Equity fund flows (which we haven’t seen in months)
- Hedge Fund Sentiment: our US Equity model is showing short interest at its highest level since September
I could probably make up 7 more reasons and give you a Top 10 sell-side looking list for 2013. Most of it would be storytelling about things no one has any business claiming certainty about. ‘Stocks are cheap, earnings have bottomed…’ blah, blah, blah.
Lets dig into points 1-3 a little deeper:
1. CRB Commodities Index (19 Commodities) is down on the week (stocks are up) and has deflated -8.7% since the September Bernanke Money Printing Top. Oil is in a Bearish Formation (bearish TRADE, TREND, and TAIL). Food prices are getting smoked.
2. Treasury Bonds finally just made their 1st lower-high all year (bouncing off 1.59% in the last week, the 10yr UST yield didn’t make a lower-low this time versus either the July or November closing lows of 1.44% and 1.57%, respectively). Bond bulls are giddy and fund flows to Fixed Income are bubbly (ex ETFs, US Equities had outflows of $4.1B last week).
3. Hedge Fund behavorial factoring is fascinating right now. Plenty hedge funds have become beta. For whatever reason, they keep shorting low and covering high. Our composite short interest study shows short interest up in the most recent 2-wk period to 3.69% of total shares outstanding versus 3.64% last. Directionally that’s a contra-indicator that you want to fade alongside volatility.
To be fair to the bearish side of the trade, aggregate short interest isn’t as high as it was when hedge funds got squeezed out of their short positions in September (it was 3.78% then, and the Russell proceeded to drop 10% from there), but it’s just inside of it.
At the same time, as I pointed out in yesterday’s Early Look with the 6 Hedgeye Best Ideas (LONGS) we came up with in mid-November, it’s a lot easier buying stocks on red with the VIX is trading 17-19 than it should be at VIX 14 when hedge funds typically capitulate.
I’m certainly not trying to submit that I nailed every move. No one does. I just tend not to get plugged at tops and bottoms because I have made enough mistakes in my career to evolve what it is that I do. Fading Beta works.
Where do we go from here?
1. The Fed - that’s midday today, and it will matter, reflexively, because bonds would become immediate-term TRADE oversold at 1.68% on the 10yr, and stocks should signal an immediate-term TRADE overbought around 1432 in the SP500.
2. The Macro Calendar – has 3 pending bullish catalysts on the Commodity Deflation front in the next 3 days (Import Prices, PPI, and CPI all release in the US Wednesday-Friday).
3. Japan’s Election – that’s this weekend and the currency market (Yen hitting 8 month lows this morning as it front-runs the LDP ‘s Abe’s promise to do what Bernanke did, debauch the Japanese currency through money printing)
What’s bearish for the Yen is bullish for the Dollar. What’s bullish for the US Dollar is bullish for the US Consumer. What’s bullish for the US Consumer is bullish for Global Growth.
I know, now I am thinking too much on the fundamentals. So I’ll stop, and get back to letting the market tell me how to reason.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), Copper, US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, German DAX, and the SP500 are now $1, $105.92-109.38, $3.60-3.71, $79.59-80.31, $1.29-1.31, 1.59-1.68%, 7, and 1, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
This note was originally published at 8am on November 28, 2012 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“The fuel that makes people work is profit.”
If you want to know one of the critical business leadership differences between Obama and FDR, I highly recommend reading the book I just finished reviewing, Freedom’s Forge, “How American Business Produced Victory in WWII”, by Arthur Herman.
The aforementioned quote comes from an excellent chapter (page 244) near the end of the book titled “Victory Is Our Business.” Being a businessman, I absolutely loved it. Empowering the best and brightest of this country to lead is the answer, not Congress.
Tom Girdler was a steel man. He was tough; he was an innovator; and he knew how to get things done. Bill Knudsen and Henry Kaiser (key FDR businessmen) were doers leading from the front too. These guys would put Harry Reid and Johnny Boehner to shame.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
If you want to tax me and my profits, that’s fine – I’ll just have less money to hire with. So just know that. I am not Warren Buffett. Most of us aren’t. Using him as a beacon for making the USA more like France is a joke. It’s elitist too.
The US stock market took an intraday nose dive yesterday after Harry Reid spoke about whatever he was trying to say. Today’s market “catalyst” is Obama “speaking with business leaders.” A market that hangs on the government’s next move is no “free” market. Yes They Can do this – and yes, they (Bush and Obama, Republicans and Democrat politicians) built this.
This is called a bubble in US Politics. So, when you are forced to live in a bubble of Big Government Intervention (government has been taxing and slowing growth in this country for a decade), what do you do?
- You buy Bonds (10yr UST Yield falls again this morning to 1.62%)
- You hold a large Cash position (our asset allocation to Cash = 58%)
- You pray that someone issues you more cash now (special dividend)
Prayer, of course, is not a risk management process for your portfolio – but if God is listening, he can provide you some perks. Check out these “special dividends” from the likes of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Costco (COST) in the last 48 hours. Special.
Now, if you aren’t long Costco this morning, you aren’t getting anything special (US futures down 5). If you are Costco, you are explicitly telling your investors that what you see coming down the pike isn’t special either. Taxing Profits changes behavior.
In other globally interconnected news:
- Chinese stocks move to within a hair of crash mode (-19.9% since March)
- Russian stocks move back into crash mode (-20.1% since March)
- Brazilians stocks are only down -17.6% since March (not quite crashing yet)
Perma Bull marketing firms used to call the B, R, and C (Brazil, Russia, China) a big component of the “BRICs.” Remember those? Those were the big growth engines of the world, until Bernanke started taxing their profits.
There are two big taxes that I, the businessman, can see, real fast:
- Tax Rate
- Rising Expenses
In the people business (provided that you give your employees great benefits like healthcare, dental, etc.), costs to run a small business in America are going up. If you work for the US Political Bubble and don’t get that, try it with your own money.
In Global Cycle businesses (transports, mining, etc.), when Bernanke devalues the currency in which your cost of goods sold (food, energy, etc.) are primarily priced, your margins are going down.
Since long-term commodity, healthcare, etc. inflation is sticky, there’s deleverage to your profits when global growth slows (sales slow faster than your costs). Then businesses are forced to right size their cost structure (i.e. fire people).
And on and on the profit cycle goes…
Or so it should. This is the fulcrum fault line in Keynesian Economic (Central Planning) assumptions – these people that both Bush and Obama empowered aren’t business people. They are academics who fundamentally believe they can “smooth” the profit cycle.
In March 2012, when we started making the global #GrowthSlowing call, this is why we got so loud about it. Yes, Bernanke was able to suspend the pricing of this economic gravity for 3 months. But now we are all hostage to it, again.
On Qe3, Emerson said that “for every benefit you receive, a tax is levied.” On taxing under the veil of class warfare, Andrew Jackson reminded Americans that “the wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality.”
I’m here to remind you that a tax is a tax – and it’s up to you to figure out who is in your back pocket before it’s too late.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), Copper, US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1730-1758, $107.52-110.38, $3.43-3.56, $80.06-80.63, $1.28-1.30, 1.55-1.68%, and 1383-1419, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
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Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money this evening to discuss the market and the fiscal cliff. Essentially, the political class is exploding and has acted as a bullish market catalyst in ways. It would be good for Congress to come to an agreement on the cliff but the question remains: what level of liberties do you want compromised to get a deal done?
Watch the video posted above for Keith's full take on the fiscal cliff.
Takeaway: $NKE continues to take small steps securing its future dominance in the global athletic marketplace.
Nike launched an interesting incubator through Boulder, CO-based TechStars, which is a highly selective tech start-up company that is affiliated with some of the fastest growing startups in silicon valley. Through the program – called Nike+ Accelerator -- ten startups that use Nike+ technology will receive mentorship, coaching and administrative support to create technology that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and ‘quantified self', according to Nike.
The Nike+ Accelerator starts in March 2013 and will run through June, culminating in technology investor demonstration days including a day at Nike HQ as well as a day in Silicon Valley.
This is hardly a major driver to Nike’s business near-term. But it is another small step showing how Nike is leveraging its size and is spending time in the digital arena – while competitors are still trying out how to break the 5% share mark in the US athletic footwear market.
Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough recently spoke with The Money Show about how global growth has been slowing since March of 2012. From an earnings perspective, we’ve also seen earnings slowing across all sectors. As we come off peak margins at many corporations, we’re going to see several quarters of weak earnings. Keith discusses what sectors you don’t want to be exposed to and which have been inflated courtesy of the policies of the Federal Reserve.
Watch the video for Keith’s full take on the global growth slowdown.
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