Asia Stocks Poised for Biggest Advance Since September (via Bloomberg)
Central Banks Spewing Cash Must Plan Exit Timing, Rohde Says (via Bloomberg)
WTI Oil Set for First Monthly Drop Since October as Supply Rises (via Bloomberg)
TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – February 28, 2013
As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 87 points or 4.42% downside to 1449 and 1.32% upside to 1536.
SECTOR AND GLOBAL PERFORMANCE
CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:
MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):
WHAT TO WATCH
COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)
The Hedgeye Macro Team
The Macau Metro Monitor, February 28, 2013
JUNKET OPERATOR NEPTUNE GROUP LINKED TO BO XILAI CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS CalvinAyre.com
Neptune’s name has surfaced in connection with Bo Xilai. Bo, who remains in custody awaiting his own trial, has been identified as having financial links to Lian Zhuozhao aka Lin Cheuk Chiu, the brother of Neptune chairman Lin Cheuk Fung. Chinese magazine Caijing claimed Lian was the real power behind Neptune and that Lian had helped numerous high-profile individuals launder money through underground banks.
Caijing claimed that Lian – dubbed “the king of gambling on the high seas” for his former role in running Neptune's casino-cruise line operations – had alleged ties to a number of prominent figures currently residing in Chinese jails. Caijing now reports that Bo Xilai, his wife Gu Kailai and assorted family members are being investigated over alleged ties to VIP gaming rooms linked with Lian.
Given that the Caijing story has been widely republished amid a variety of Chinese media, including acknowledged pro-Beijing newspapers, it seems Beijing is indeed trying to send a message ahead of incoming Party boss Xi Jinping’s official first day in office next month, but that message may be directed at corrupt officials more than junket operators.
MGM CHINA STARTS CONSTRUCTION IN COTAI Macau Business
It will include 1,600 hotel rooms, as many as 500 gaming tables and 2,500 slot machines. It is scheduled to open in mid-2016.
GAMING INDUSTRY EXPECTS ADJUSTMENT IN VIP/MASS MARKET RATIO, SAYS PANSY HO Macau Daily Times
MGM China's Pansy Ho said she believe the adjustment of VIP/mass ratio is a positive sign: “The gaming industry is expecting an adjustment in the ratio due to more facilities offered by casino-resorts. VIP has been growing much faster than the mass section but we can see a tendency that the discrepancy is narrowing and this is a positive development.... It doesn’t mean the VIP market will experience sudden changes (drops), but it’s not expected to maintain double-digit expansion.” She expects a faster growing pace by the mass market as casino-resorts continue to add more non-gaming elements into their business portfolio.
She believed the new project would not have serious problems finding croupiers to operate despite the fact that several major projects are starting up in the Cotai area in coming years. She expected the industry to coordinate in securing human resources. For the project as a whole, she estimated that 5,000 – 6,000 workers will be needed after its completion in 2016.
Pansy Ho did not comment on Beijing’s new leadership, reportedly taking tougher actions against Macau junket operators in order to prevent mainland officials or criminals from coming to the city and using the casinos for money-laundering purposes. She stressed that these are mere news reports so far and that there’s been no clear indication or assertion by the (central) government on possible controls.
Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough handpicks the “best of the best” long and short ideas delivered to him by our team of over 30 research analysts across myriad sectors.
“Evolution does not rely on narratives, humans do.”
That’s just a money quote from Taleb on page 207 of Antifragile. Apparently Jaime Dimon liked the book so much, he called his bank antifragile. I assume he wasn’t talking about the Bear Stearns part. If you’d like my review of the book, please send me a note.
Reviewing the Bullish Narrative for US and Asian stocks requires one to evaluate the bearish one. The big one our institutional clients debate with me comes from a player I respect, Francois Trahan. His Bearish Narrative is grounded in inflation concerns.
His call is a lot like mine was at the end of 2010. I get that inflation expectations rising would be bad. But our call is Strong Dollar will drive the opposite – Commodity Deflation. That’s not just a narrative; that’s precisely what we have been seeing for all of February.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Strong Dollar = Commodity Deflation? That’s also what we have been seeing for 2013 YTD:
Within the SP500’s +6.3% YTD return, the worst performing Sector ETF is Basic Materials (XLB) which is down -1.54% for February and underperforming badly at +2.34% YTD. If you want to be bearish on something, be bearish on Commodities and related stocks.
There’s also a Nouveaux Bear camp that thinks Commodities falling is the leading indicator that A) Global Economic Growth is going to slow and B) the US stock market is going down in flames. I have debated Dennis Gartman on this 2x on live TV in the last week.
Finally, there’s the central planning camp (led by Ben Bernanke) that is still bullish on the stock market’s “valuation”, and never thought we had the inflation we are deflating to begin with (Bernanke said in his testimony “I have the best track record on inflation since WWII”).
So, what is the Bearish Narrative?
A) Trahan: Debauched Dollar will drive us back to the bubble highs in Oil (2008), Gold (2011), and Food Prices (2012)
B) Gartman: Strong Dollar will drive Commodity Prices down, if Oil, Gold, Corn, etc go down, stocks are going down
C) KM: I’m actually just bearish on The Taro Aso and The Bernank lying to uninformed people
I usually have a decent Bearish Narrative on something (like the Yen here), but the bear case for Asian and US stocks is all over the place right now. Maybe that’s why the only down day for stocks in the last 4 came on a catalyst that none of these bears had to begin with (Italian Election). That’s not a research call, that’s being right for the wrong reasons (otherwise known as luck).
Another Q: KM, what about The Correlation Risk (inverse correlation vs USD) call that you used to trade Macro on during 2010-2012? First, Correlation Risks are not perpetual. And, second, our intermediate-term TREND correlation model is changing, big time, right now:
In other words, both the Americans and the Chinese are loving Strong Dollar in more ways than one. It’s taking down Energy and Food Inflation. And it’s a tax cut that our central planning overlords are unable to provide.
That’s great for the one thing we haven’t had, sustainably, under either the Keynesian Bush or Obama regimes – real (inflation adjusted) economic growth. Of course, the government is always my Bearish Narrative, but I think my bullish one for stocks is still intact.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, USD/YEN, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1, $110.67-112.68 (Oil is bearish TRADE and TREND now; a very bullish catalyst for the economy), $81.28-82.13, 91.71-94.67, 1.85-1.96%, and 1, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
This note was originally published at 8am on February 14, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!”
-Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts.
As I set about to find an appropriate theme for the Early Look this morning, I was reminded that it is Valentine’s Day. Now just how I was reminded of Valentine’s Day is interesting in and of itself; watching the news get interrupted by yet another commercial for Kay Jewelers pitching their seemingly endless collection of heart-shaped charms and sparkling pendants. Of course TV isn’t the only place I have been inundated with a Valentine’s Day message to exercise consumerism. All I had to do was to walk into my local pharmacy or discount store where I had to snake my way around displays of candy boxes in every shape, size, and assortment. Honestly, without these less-than-subtle reminders, Valentine’s Day might sneak up on me unnoticed and Hallmark might miss the sale of one additional card.
A lot of chocolates and gifts are bought for Valentine’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation, the average male will spend $175.61 this Valentine’s Day on gifts, jewelry, roses, chocolates, dates and more. Women will spend just less than $89. It is estimated that more than 58 million pounds of chocolate will be sold in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. All totaled, it is estimated that $13.19 Billion will be spent.
Those same commercials that last night reminded me of Valentine’s Day were also omnipresent both before and after Tuesday evening’s State of the Union message. Thinking about the marketing effectiveness surrounding Valentine’s Day, I wonder if a similarly unavoidable marketing reminder of the rising United States debt, the current Federal deficit, and pending sequestration cuts would drive more timely decision making by the male and female constituents of congress. I bet they made their respective Valentine’s decisions before today!
From candy and gifts to the State of the Union.
Tuesday evening’s address seemed to me a rambling list of the wonderful things this administration is hoping to set in place during the balance of Obama’s term in office. And whenever I hear “hope”, I am now conditioned to question the means behind the anticipated “hoped-for” event. The President spoke of expansive government involvement ranging from building roads and bridges to pre-kindergarten education for four year olds, and from Social Security and Medicare to energy independence. Very little discourse was aimed at the funding of these proposals. Like walking into displays of chocolates around Valentine’s Day, does it not make sense to discover which ones are favored by your sweetheart first? Certainly, buying every option in the store so as not to neglect that one special favorite is less than efficient, if not financially impossible.
Not knowing what chocolates are favored, would you elect to push off Valentine’s Day a couple months if you could? Would you kick the can down the road and address the decision later? What if Valentine’s Day could not be delayed or postponed? What then of your chocolate choices?
At Hedgeye, we tend to simplify our thinking wherever possible and bring complicated matters down to sporting metaphors where appropriate. In this case, I think of the Federal budget as the foundation of any game plan for our government. Pending decisions for our congressional leaders seem too easily kicked down the road. Congress has failed to pass a Federal budget since 2009! How should we expect our leaders to make decisions that potentially influence our enemies and allies alike, positively and negatively, without a game plan? I played for some Hall of Fame coaches in Herb Brooks and Bob Johnson. Like Keith and Daryl, I also played for the legendary Tim Taylor at Yale. Whether it was hockey, football, volleyball, softball, tennis, golf, or any other sport, there was always a game plan!
The Federal Debt level is fast approaching $16.5 Trillion. It is estimated that 2013 will add another $900 Billion-$1 Trillion. Rienhart and Rogoff will argue that “Countries with debt to GDP ratios above a certain level (90%) tend to experience slower economic growth.” It certainly appears that the U.S. has reached the point where our debt levels significantly dampen growth.
Of particular interest to me during the State of the Union speech were the President’s plans projecting out a decade and longer. At Hedgeye we talk about duration and believe projections longer than three years out are highly subject to forecasting error. Already the US economy is showing anemic growth. The most recent figures showed a decline of -0.1% in US GDP during the fourth quarter. The CBO office is projecting 1.4% growth for fiscal 2013. And projecting 2.6%, 4.1%, and 4.4% in ’14, ’15, and ’16 respectively. Unfortunately, much of the US expenditure projections are not as flexible or easily manipulated as the revenue and economic growth assumptions.
Just for reference, the average US GDP growth rate over the past ten years was 1.7%. What is the real plan and how does Congress make it flexible enough to adjust for the game changing and to embrace the unknowns?
And what about the sequester and Congress? Referring to Congress after the State of the Union speech by President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner stated, “None of them have ever lived under a sequester. For that matter, neither have I…This is going to be a little bleak around here when this actually happens and people actually have to make decisions.” A sobering thought during times when decisions have to be made that will affect the lives and finances of so many.
My Valentine’s wish is for Congress to develop a game plan; one with real metrics, transparent to voters, and offering accountability.
As for chocolate choices, I know yours will be easier than the decisions that face our Congressional leaders. My Valentine’s Day game plan is simple. My wife will wake to a card on the counter under a package of Reese’s Cups. And I am likely to read my card from her as I down a handful of plain M&M’s with my morning coffee.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, USD/YEN, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1641-1667, $116.98-118.91, $79.71-80.31, 92.78-94.46, 1.96-2.01%, and 1510-1526, respectively.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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