Government Habits

This note was originally published at 8am on January 15, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

-Aristotle

American, European, and Japanese governments have a habit – it’s called tax-payer funded spending. In order to finance this habit, they A) tax you and B) issue debt. Try part B) at home - levering yourself up to pay your political bills typically doesn’t end well.

I know. I know. ‘This time is different’, ‘print the damn coin’, ‘America voted for this’ – blah, blah, blah. This is what Big Government Interventionists of the 21st century repeatedly do. Obama, sadly, is no different than Bush on this score. They both needed to perpetuate a class struggle in order to sell it to their respective Keynesian economic constituencies.

My quibble isn’t political; politics are now about economics. The French have been arguing about this since at least the early 19th century. As one of the 1st economic historians, Adolphe Blanqui, wrote in 1837: “In all the revolutions, there have been but two parties confronting each other; that of the people who wish to live by their own labor, and that of those who would live by the labor of others.”

Back To The Global Macro Grind

No matter what your politics, you do have to make real-time decisions out there. What else are you supposed to do when politicians are changing the rules of the game on the fly? For the last decade, one of the main risks to growth has been government.

The outgoing Timmy Geithner says the timing of the #DebtCeiling D-Day is “mid-February.” At the latest, my research team has it in early March (coincidentally, March 1st is also when sequester kicks in). Now that it’s mid-January, that means this game of risk is on.

A game? Sadly, yes - a high-stakes game of political chess (they are playing with your money) that will likely require you to do up your chinstrap. Buying stocks in mid-January is hardly as easy as it was buying them in mid-November. Everything in markets has a time and price.

How is risk priced today versus 2-months ago (November 15th)?

  1. November 15th, the SP500 closed at 1353 = 8% LOWER
  2. November 15th, the Russell2000 closed at 769 = 13% LOWER
  3. November 15th, the US Equity Volatility (VIX) closed at 17.99 = 33% HIGHER

Back then (seems like forever ago you could have been long, no?):

  1. Global Growth was going from slowing to stabilizing  
  2. Fiscal Cliff Fear was all over consensus media
  3. The NHL was still on strike

Those were some pretty tough times! And today what?

  1. Global Growth has stabilized
  2. Oil is starting to break-out again
  3. Japan and the US are competing with who can “stimulate” the most with debt

And on and on and on the cycle of Big Government Interventionist policy goes….

But this should surprise no one at this point. This is what Keynesian Policy makers repeatedly do:

 

A)     They Shorten Economic Cycles

B)      They Amplify Market Volatility

Can you imagine what The Rest of Us will do if the #PoliticalClass just top ticked another market move at an all-time high in the Russell2000? What will The People do if their money manager jammed them into equities at the top of the “fund flows” news cycle?

On a cheerier note, Global Growth hasn’t slowed (yet) and by the looks of Lennar’s (LEN) backlog numbers this morning, our bullish call on US Housing remains intact. Risk never stops moving – it moves both ways.

We’ll corner all angles of this real-time risk debate on our Q1 2013 Global Macro Themes call today at 1PM (email Sales@Hedgeye.com if you’d like to join). Our Q113 Themes are:

1.       #GrowthStabilizing

2.       #HousingsHammer

3.       #QuadrillYen

The first two themes won’t sound new to any of you who read what we write every day. Our process is dynamic – as market prices, economic data, and risk management signals change, we try to. It’s never easy – but neither is excellence.

Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), Corn, US Dollar, EUR/USD, USD/YEN, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1644-1689 (covered our GLD short yesterday during the Obama speech), $110.32-112.82 (bullish breakout in Oil), $7.08-7.26 (shorted CORN yesterday), $79.29-79.98, $1.31-1.34, $87.43-89.41 (Yen oversold yesterday), 1.84-1.94%, and 1454-1475, respectively.

Best of luck out there today,

KM

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

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Government Habits - Virtual Portfolio