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Information Surprise

This note was originally published at 8am on August 26, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Information itself is best defined as surprise.”

-George Gilder

 

The first four chapters of George Gilder’s Knowledge and Power are right up my alley: “The Signal In The Noise”, “The Science of Information”, “Entropy Economics” – yes, someone else is talking “entropy” in the same sentence as markets! #beauty

 

On #OldWall, Gilder nails it: “The war between the centrifuge of knowledge and the centripetal pull of power remains the prime conflict in all economics.” And on risk management: “It is an economics of surprise that distributes power as it extends knowledge.” (page 5)

 

Think that through. In our profession, new information is surprise. If it wasn’t, why did so many risk going to jail? There is no easier way to generate returns than having inside information. Perversely, the road less travelled is the legal one. That’s why the 2.0 processes are taking mind share. We win and lose in an open forum of transparent information flow. We thrive by Embracing Uncertainty.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

If many pieces of information aren’t surprising you throughout your risk management day, you probably don’t have enough factors in your model. Price is surprise. So is data. Information surprise is everywhere.

 

So how do you absorb it all and remain sober? The answer is it’s a grind. Multiple-factors, multiple-durations – the market waits for no one. Being proactively prepared to contextualize the most immediate-term of surprises is only the beginning.

 

Bucketing the big stuff into intermediate-term TREND macro themes helps, provided that your process is flexible enough to acknowledge that TRENDs can change. But what is change? In Chaos Theory speak, can a major macro phase transition be undone?

 

Of course, in the intermediate-term, everything and anything can be undone – this is the fulcrum principle of central planning! In the long-run, gravity takes hold of anti-dog-eat-dog-cycle-smoothing though. So you want to be on the lookout for that!

 

There is a massive phase transition that is being baked into market expectations right now. The causal driver of that expectation shift is whether or not the US Federal Reserve is done with its anti-gravity policy to devalue the US Dollar and monetize the USA’s debt.

 

The main regime changes in a #RatesRising environment (versus one discounting 0% rates in perpetuity) are as follows: 

  1. Growth (as an investing style) outperforms slow-growth Yield Chasing
  2. Strong Currency countries outperform Currency Crisis countries 

That’s basically what happened again last week:

  1. Nasdaq and Russell2000 (growth indices) were +1.5% and +1.4%, respectively
  2. US Consumer Staples Stocks (XLP) were -0.2% on the wk (-2.85% for the AUG to-date)
  3. Asian (ex-Japan) Equities were -3.3% (down -8% for the YTD)

Parts 1 and 2 of that are pretty straightforward – unlevered US domestic innovation (growth stocks) are absolutely ripping this year versus a basket of pretty much anything slow-growth. That’s not new as of last week either. That’s been the TREND since June.

 

In June, #RatesRising ripped a massive amount of entropy into markets. Most people get that by now. What less people have realized is how powerful a combination A) #RatesRising  and B) #StrongDollar can be versus Emerging Markets (both equity and debt).

 

USD didn’t go down for the 2nd week in a row last week, here’s how that new information flowed to Indonesia, Chile, etc.:

  1. Emerging Markets (MSCI Index) = -2.6% on the wk to -11.6% YTD
  2. Emerging Markets Latin American Index (MSCI) = -1.5% on the wk to -17.2% YTD

Now, to be fair to the Chileans, they are also right levered to another major macro risk factor that comes into play during #StrongDollar and #RatesRising regimes – we call it #CommodityDeflation (the CRB Commodities Index = -0.6% last wk = -1.4% YTD).

 

Since #StrongDollar was more of a 1st six months of 2013 story doesn’t mean that the #CommodityDeflation risk ceases to exist (Coffee prices were -5.3% last wk to -25.2% YTD). Again, looking at the YTD scoreboard:

  1. Peru (metals/mining represents over 1/3 of the index) is the worst country in Global Equities at -19% YTD
  2. Chile and Brazil (both resource heavy indices) are 3rd and 4th worst in the world at -15% and -14% YTD, respectively
  3. Gold: despite its +4.5% month-over-month bounce off the lows, it is still -17.2% YTD

Ostensibly, there is new immediate-term TRADE information here to consider. If the US Dollar continues to weaken like it has from its July 2013 YTD highs, why can’t commodities and their related country stock market indices continue to re-flate?

 

Alternatively, the USD could be doing more of the same (building a gigantic base of higher-40yr-lows that were caused by the US cutting rates to zero), and this bullish Consumption (Growth) vs. bearish Commodities (Absolute Return Yield Chasing) theme remains intact.

 

The beauty of modeling macro the way that we do is that we don’t have to be certain about any of the answers to these questions. We simply have to absorb all of the information surprises we receive within the context of multiple durations, factors, and cycles – and make the highest probability call we can from there.

 

Our immediate-term Macro Risk Ranges are now as follows:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.72-2.95%

SPX 1642-1671

VIX 12.17-14.98

USD 80.89-81.76

Euro 1.32-1.34

Gold 1337-1406

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Information Surprise - chart

Information Surprise - positions


September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013 - dtr

 

BULLISH TRENDS

September 9, 2013 - 10yr

September 9, 2013 - spx

September 9, 2013 - nik

September 9, 2013 - dax

September 9, 2013 - dxy

September 9, 2013 - oil

 

BEARISH TRENDS

September 9, 2013 - VIX

September 9, 2013 - yen

September 9, 2013 - natgas

September 9, 2013 - gold
September 9, 2013 - copper

 



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Congress, Save Us!

“For God’s sake declare the colonies independent at once, and save us from ruin.”

-John Page

 

That’s what Page said to Thomas Jefferson in the Spring of 1776. By September (on this day in fact), the Continental Congress officially named its union of independent states, the Unites States.

 

And the rest is history (sort of). We’re a long way from Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty, or give me death” speech from Virginia (March of 1775).  At this point, Congress is the butt of most jokes. But in these Unites States, anything can happen – there’s always a chance!

 

Imagine Congress saves us from seeing $6 at the pump? My simpleton read-through of Obama’s QA from St Petersburg last week is that he’ll respect Congress’ wishes if he can’t sell action in Syria. A no-action vote could save the American Consumer from ruin.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

There is no greater threat to this country than empowering both the almighty petro-dollar and/or the conflicted and compromised overlords who get paid by it. One of the most misunderstood realities of the 2008 crisis was $150 oil. Never forget that.

 

Since they are now front-running Obama with weapons of manic media, do you think Putin or Assad (or any of these whack jobs in Latin America or the Middle East) would stand a chance if the President of the United States started pulverizing them with a Weapon of Mass Currency Appreciation?

 

Both Reagan and Clinton seemed a lot stronger versus the Ruskies than Bush or Obama have been. Have you ever thought to yourself whether or not $20 oil had anything to do with that? How about the +4% US GDP growth rips of 1983-89 and 1993-99? Both were #StrongDollar, Strong America periods for both our Presidents and people.

 

“Our” – I keep saying our – and I am Canadian! For God’s sake Americans, stand up to this.

 

While both the US Dollar and US stock market seem to be sniffing out a no-action vote on Syria, they haven’t gone after the price of oil, yet. Check out last week’s most speculative lines on Middle Eastern conflict (commodities):

  1. Crude Oil’s net long position (futures and options contracts) just off its all-time high to +386,982 contracts
  2. Gold’s net long position was up another +3.6% w/w to +101,396 contracts = highest since January

That’s right Sons of Washington, when Wall Street wants to roll the bones on geo-political risk, they opt for the asset class with the highest beta, and then lever up those bets with options contracts. That’s why they’re great contra-indicators as they peak.

 

Gold peaked when speculation peaked that the USA would use the only other weapon of mass currency destruction that’s more dangerous than the Taliban – The Federal Reserve’s Dollar Debauchery campaign.  That was 2011-2012.

 

So when will oil peak? (*hint, it already did in 2008)

 

If we don’t do Syria, oil prices have plenty of intermediate-term downside – and, as a result, the US Consumer has plenty of intermediate-term upside.

 

Across our core risk management durations, here are the lines of support for WTI and Brent Oil that matter to me most:

  1. BRENT: immediate-term TRADE resistance = $117.98; intermediate-term TREND support = $108.35
  2. WTI: immediate-term TRADE resistance = $110.86; intermediate-term TREND support = $102.89

In other words, the opportunity for Obama here is to back off Syria and give Americans a 7-8% back-to-school tax cut (to TREND support) at the pump.

 

God forbid he drives a #StrongDollar move above and beyond a no-action call on Syria (i.e. hires Summers to taper and tighten). Oil prices could crash.

 

That’s what I’m talking about! Oh yeah – a little more red, white, and blue pin action for the only community of investors who are killing it in 2013 YTD – Growth Investors.

 

Last week’s Hedgeye Risk Management Style Factors were screaming growth:

  1. Top 25% (SP500 Quartile data) EPS Growers = +24% YTD (vs +15.5% YTD for the bottom 25% quartile)
  2. Low Yield (i.e. higher growth) Stocks = +26.4% YTD (vs +11.0% for High Dividend Yielding stocks)
  3. Consumer Discretionary (XLY) = +1.7% SEP and +23.6% YTD vs Utilities (XLU) -0.9% SEP and +5.9% YTD

“Screaming” – yes, Patrick Henry style - keep screaming at the government to strengthen the Dollar. That includes cutting defense spending from the all-time USA high Obama established in 2011.

 

Never, ever, forget that the government of these United States works for you – not the other way around.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.83-3.01%

SPX 1

VIX 15.07-17.49

USD 82.02-82.91

Brent 114.66-117.89

Gold 1

 

Best of luck out there this week,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Congress, Save Us! - Chart of the Day

 

Congress, Save Us! - Virtual Portfolio


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – September 9, 2013


As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 22 points or 0.74% downside to 1643 and 0.59% upside to 1665.                   

                                                                                                            

SECTOR PERFORMANCE


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 1

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 2

 

EQUITY SENTIMENT:


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 10


CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:

  • YIELD CURVE: 2.47 from 2.48
  • VIX  closed at 15.85 1 day percent change of 0.51%

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 11am: Fed’s Williams speaks in San Francisco
  • 11am: Fed to buy $1.25b-$1.75b in 2036-2043 sector
  • 11:30am: U.S. to sell $30b 3M, $25b 6M bills
  • 3pm: Consumer Credit, July, est. $12.3b (prior $13.8b)
  • 4pm: USDA crop-conditions report

GOVERNMENT:

    • Congress returns from summer recess
    • Senate, House convene at 2pm; Senate will proceed to consideration of joint resolution to authorize limited use of U.S. Armed Forces against Syria
    • National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Dir. of Natl Intelligence James Clapper, Sec. of State John Kerry, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, and Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel brief House on plan to use military force in Syria, 5pm

WHAT TO WATCH:

  • Obama expands push to sell Syria attack in war-weary U.S.
  • Assad in interview said to deny using chemical weapons
  • Neiman Marcus said to be near $6b sale to Ares Management
  • Shuanghui, Smithfield deal obtains CFIUS clearance
  • China may cut annual growth target to 7%: state economist
  • China’s export growth beats ests. for a 2nd month
  • Suntory to buy Glaxo’s Lucozade, Ribena for $2.1b
  • Google made new offer to settle EU antitrust probe
  • Nasdaq tweaks IPO cross rules with “pre-launch period”
  • NYSE buys stake in private-placement startup ACE
  • Tokyo winning 2020 Olympicsis seen aiding eco. recovery
  • Monte Paschi wins backing from EU’s Almunia for aid plan
  • Vodafone may not get approval for Kabel Deutschland offer: FT
  • “Riddick” tops U.S./Canada box office w/ $18.7m

EARNINGS:

    • Casey’s General Stores (CASY) 4pm, $1.26
    • Five Below (FIVE) 4:01pm, $0.09
    • HD Supply Holdings (HDS) Aft-mkt, $0.31
    • John Wiley & Sons (JW/A) 8am, $0.43
    • Palo Alto Networks (PANW) 4:03pm, $0.06
    • PVH (PVH) 4:02pm, $1.37

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)

  • Gold Sales From Perth Mint Drop in August as Fed Nears Taper 
  • Hedge Fund Gold Bets Climb to Highest Since January: Commodities
  • Gold Declines on Speculation Federal Reserve Will Curb Stimulus
  • Indonesia Seen Exporting Some Tin This Month by Trade Official
  • Copper Rises for Third Day as Chinese Exports Exceed Estimates
  • WTI Falls From Two-Year High as Obama Presses for Syria Action
  • Robusta Coffee Falls to 2-Month Low on Vietnam Crop; Cocoa Drops
  • Jiangxi Copper Sees Treatment Fees Advancing as Ore Supply Rises
  • Bullish Diesel Bets Spurred as U.S. Fuels World: Energy Markets
  • Soybeans Rise for Third Day as Midwest Dryness Curbs Crop Yields
  • U.S. Natural Gas Rebounds After First Weekly Loss Since Aug. 9
  • Chinese Zombies Emerging After Years of Solar Subsidies: Energy
  • Gradually Rising Capacity Rates Bullish for Steel: Bull Case
  • Gold Inventories Plummet 36%, Leverage Is Highest in Nine Years

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 5

 

CURRENCIES

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 6

 

GLOBAL PERFORMANCE

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 3

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 4

 

EUROPEAN MARKETS

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 7

 

ASIAN MARKETS

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 8

 

MIDDLE EAST

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 9

 

 

The Hedgeye Macro Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS

Friday’s jobs report was a mixed bag and the narrower data sets released this morning followed suit.  The largest acceleration in employment growth came from the 20-24 YOA cohort, which suggests that sales at quick-service and fast casual restaurants are likely to remain strong through the rest of 3Q.  

 

Highlighted in the following charts, there is a notable inverse correlation between rolling initial claims and the performance of stocks within our space. 

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - QSR Index

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - CD Index

 

 

Below, we discuss employment by age and restaurant industry employment.  These serve as proxies for demand and operator confidence, respectively, in our models.

 

 

Employment by Age (demand)

 

Employment growth by age skewed negatively in August as the 20-24 YOA cohort saw growth accelerate to +338 bps from +205 bps in July, the 25-34 YOA cohort saw growth decelerate to +185 bps from +204 bps in July, the 35-44 YOA cohort saw growth accelerate to +59 bps from +53 bps in July, the 45-54 YOA cohort saw growth slow at an accelerating rate to -113 bps from -94 bps in July, and the 55-64 YOA cohort saw growth decelerate to +257 bps from +348 bps in July.

 

Employment by age is an important metric for the restaurant industry.  Given the discretionary nature of casual dining expenditure, and the highly-competitive nature of the industry, we infer that sustained employment growth in core demographics is necessary for continued comp growth in the absence of new unit growth or income per capita growth.  The sequential acceleration in growth slowing in the 45-54 YOA cohort and the deceleration in the 55-64 YOA cohort reflect negatively upon casual dining companies, indicating that we could see weakness persist within the sector.

 

Within the QSR segment, we continue to find that the majority of management teams we track are consistently highlight the importance of employment growth to the success of their business.  The strong sequential acceleration in the 20-24 YOA cohort, offset marginally by the small deceleration in the 25-34 YOA cohort, should sit well with quick-service and fast casual restaurants.

 

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - Employment chart1

 

 

Restaurant Industry Employment (confidence)


The Leisure & Hospitality employment data, which leads the narrower food service data by one month, suggest that employment growth in the food service industry decelerated sequentially in August.  Leisure & Hospitality employment data did, however, register a month-over-month gain of +27k (second chart below), an acceleration from July’s +13k month-over-month gain.

 

The more narrow restaurant-focused data sets paint a less clear picture.  Limited-service employment growth decelerated sequentially in July, while full-service employment growth accelerated sequentially in July.

 


Sequential Moves


Leisure & Hospitality: YoY employment growth at +3.08% in August, down -14 bps versus July

 

Limited Service: YoY employment growth at +4.9% in July, down -3 bps versus June

 

Full Service: YoY employment growth at +2.97% in July, up +34 bps versus June

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - YY employment growth

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - Knapp Comps

 

EMPLOYMENT DATA MIXED FOR RESTAURANTS - Leisure and Hospitality

 

 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 


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