“There is little that the ordinary man of today learns about events or ideas except through the medium of this class.”
After spending plenty of time with common sense people (my family and friends) for the last week, I’ve reinforced an entrenched view in my thick hockey skull about America’s #PoliticalClass – they don’t get free-market liberty and/or economics.
By the 1960s, F.A. Hayek thought the same about Europe’s political elite but he was, as Joseph Schumpeter argued “in his review of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, polite to a fault.” (Classical Liberalism and The Austrian School, page 119).
Particularly when I have to get up at this hour on family vacation, I’m not always polite; especially to politicians who are lying to me. When a Republican is arguing for a new calculation for “chained CPI” and a Democrat for changing the rules to raise the US Debt Ceiling, I’ll call them out for who they are (Hayek called them this first) – “Second-Hand Dealers in ideas.” (The Intellectuals and Socialism, Hayek 1976).
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Want a deal on the #KeynesianCliff? Here’s the latest deal that encroaches on your liberty:
- SPENDING – after the US government has changed how they calculate inflation 9x since 1996, the Republicans Second-Hand Idea is to cut spending on old people and screw them over with an understated COLA (cost of living adjustment in Social Security). Both Bush and Obama did this with Bernanke – change the calculation for inflation so that there never is any inflation to report.
- DEBT CEILING – right on time with Hedgeye’s forecast that the US would bonk the debt ceiling by the end of December, Geithner “officially warned” Congress of the math (thanks for the early look buds). If you didn’t know why Pelosi wants Obama to have a veto (not having to have Congress vote on raising the US Debt Ceiling beyond $16.394 TRILLION), now you know.
Oh, and then there’s taxes – but who wants to read about #ClassWarfare and taxes anymore anyway? These second-hand Marxist ideas are as old socialism itself. As of this weekend, even the French Court agrees, saying “non, non” on 75% tax rates for les “riches.”
All the while, for the last few weeks (actually US stocks are down for 3 of the last 4 weeks taking December to-date for the SP500 to -1%; SP500 down -4.9% from the September YTD top), people are starting to freak-out about “what the cliff will do to the US recovery.”
Please don’t let these central planners freak you out. Fire them, and let them freak-out.
First Hand Idea: the only sustainable US economic recovery you are ever going to have is through Strong Dollar, Down Commodity Inflation. It worked for Reagan in the 1980s. It worked for Clinton in the 1990s. Keynesian Policies To Inflate didn’t work for Bush or Obama.
On the monetary policy side, getting Bernanke out of the way has helped – now we need to get Congress out of the way. So rise above the couch – and turn your TV off while these people perpetuate a crisis that they created. Don’t pay them a lick of your free time or respect.
To review, since Bernanke’s Top (September 14th, 2012) where he said he’d print to infinity and beyond:
- US Dollar Index = up for 10 of 14 weeks (making higher all-time lows, holding $78.11 long-term TAIL support)
- CRB Commodities Index = down -8.4% (easily the worst performing major asset class in the world over that time-period)
- Gold = down -13.1% in 3 months (yes, real inflation-adjusted economic growth stabilizing is bad for bonds and gold)
Yes, on the margin, that’s what I am talking about – bring on the spending cuts and stick a cap on that US debt clock while you are at it. That’s all good for the US Dollar. What’s good for the Dollar is bad for food and energy prices – that’ll be your real-time tax cut.
Expectations update on Bernanke’s Bubble (Commodities):
- CFTC Futures & Options net long positioning dropped another -11% wk-over-wk to 675,625 contracts
- CFTC net longs are now down -49.6% from their all-time high (1.34 million contracts) in SEP 2012, post Qe4
- Gold’s net long position fell another -9% last week to 101,922 contracts (lowest since August 2012)
As commodity inflation (real-world inflation as opposed to this cochamamy Keynesian concept of “chained CPI”) fell, real inflation-adjusted global growth stabilized. That’s not a Second-Hand Idea. That’s a fact:
- Chinese PMI manufacturing for DEC hit its highest level since May of 2011 (at 51.5)
- Chinese Stocks (Shanghai Composite) closed up another +1.6% overnight (up +15.8% in a straight line in DEC alone!)
- South Korean Inflation (CPI) dropped to a 4-month low in DEC (1st Asian inflation reading for DEC) to 1.4%
Do you think people in Asia who are trying to put food on their family table for the holidays care about what a politicized donkey is doing in D.C. this morning? Get real. They can think for themselves too.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges (support and resistance) for Gold, Oil (Brent), Copper, US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1, $109.71-111.48, $3.51-3.61, $79.52-79.97, $1.31-1.33, 1.70-1.78%, and 1, respectively.
From my family and firm to yours, we’d like to wish you a happy, healthy, and free 2013,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
This note was originally published at 8am on December 17, 2012 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it guarantees all others.”
That’s a quote from Churchill in “Great Contemporaries” that is cited by Paul Reid in the preamble to The Last Lion. “He believed in virtue and right … he taught himself well and created a code he could live by.” (page 23)
While I don’t think there are any words I can write to comfort families in my neighboring town of Newtown, CT, I just wanted to take time this morning to say that they are in our thoughts and prayers.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
US stocks closed down for the 2nd consecutive day on Friday, taking their 2-day correction to -1%. Despite the fanfare of “stocks being up YTD”, US stocks have been weak since mid-September. For Q4 of 2012, the SP500 and Nasdaq are down -1.9% and 4.7%, respectively.
Where do we go from here?
If it wasn’t for Apple (AAPL) and #EarningsSlowing (Schlumberger, the #3 component of the Energy Sector ETF (XLE) guided down on Friday), everything would be pseudo-fine this morning. But you can’t back those things out – they are big things.
So is the Global Growth Cycle – and while we aren’t raging bulls suggesting that growth is back, we are seeing the causal factor that stabilizes global economic growth (Commodity Price Deflation) start to take hold where it matters most – price and expectations.
On the expectations front, check out last week’s CFTC Futures and Options net long positioning in commodities:
- Total Net Long commodity contracts fell another -11% wk-over-wk to 802,817
- Net long commodity contracts continue to crash from their all-time high (SEP 2012), down -40%!
- Sugar contracts had their biggest 1 wk drop in 5 years at -68% last week to 6,056 contracts
- Wheat contracts plummeted -67% wk-over-wk to 11,219 net long contracts
- Oil net long positions were down -21% wk-over-wk (biggest drop since May)
- Farm Goods dropped another -10% in the aggregate to 484,088 net longs
While expected commodity deflation is crystal clear in the futures/options market at this point, prices and expectations don’t always agree. Gold is the not-so-shining example of that statement:
- Gold bets actually keep going up as the price goes down (price = down for 3 straight wks; net longs up for 4 of the last 5 wks)
- Net long contracts in Gold went up another +3% last week to 129,865
- Gold is down another -0.33% this morning to $1690, and remains bearish TRADE and TREND in our model
With Gold’s TRADE and TREND resistance overhead at $1709 and $1719, respectively, this makes for an interesting debate (ask Sales@Hedgeye.com for Darius Dale’s Gold research note from Friday if you didn’t read it). Long-term TAIL support of $1670 is the only big line left of support for Gold. If that holds, consensus bets on the net long side could be ok, but only if they own the right strikes.
If Gold’s TAIL breaks, watch-out below.
That’s how we thought about AAPL (see Chart of The Day, TAIL = $561). That’s how we think about TAIL risk. We have a line that moves dynamically as price/volume/volatility does, and we use that as our headlights. Is the probability of incremental risk rising or falling? That’s another way to simplify how we think about that. It’s not perfect, but it’s a consistent risk management code I can live by.
If you go back to the 3-factor Global Growth Model I’ve been calling out for the last 3 weeks:
- Chinese stocks (Shanghai Composite)
- Bond Yields (US Treasuries)
There’s emerging evidence that supports a shift from global #GrowthSlowing to #GrowthStabilizing. We’re not wedded to this – we’re just courageous enough to embrace the market’s uncertainty and change our minds as markets suggest we do.
Bond Yields had a big move last week with the 10yr Treasury Yield not only rising from 1.62% to 1.70% on the week, but closing above my TREND line of 1.69%. This morning, the 10yr yield is up another 2 basis points to 1.72%, confirming the move.
That’s also bearish for Gold. Rising bond yields always have been bearish for Gold because they compete with the long-standing expectation of #GrowthSlowing embedded in both Bond market and Gold bubbles.
On Friday, that’s why I cut our Fixed Income asset allocation to 0%, raised our Global Equities allocation, and stayed with what’s served us well since mid-September (0% asset allocation to Commodities).
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1684-1709, $105.71-108.93, $79.41-79.99, $1.29-1.31, 1.69-1.76%, and 1408-1431, respectively.
Best of luck out there this week,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
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What do milk and the fiscal cliff have in common? Quite a bit, actually. As it stands, our government sets a minimum price for milk creating a floor. This helps milk producers in their financial planning and the like. If Congress can’t come to an agreement over the fiscal cliff, the calculation mechanism for the minimum price will revert to a 1949 law that reflects milk production technology that is 6 decades obsolete, adjusted for inflation.
This new floor would be about twice as much as the current market price. With a gallon of milk costing around $3.50 on average, consumers would see that double to $7 over time. That’s a meaningful impact to low income families and represents a total tax hike of $22.7 billion considering that per capita milk consumption is approximately 20.6 gallons per person per year. Retailers who rely on milk to drive store traffic will also feel the pain as well.
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