“Understanding the errors may afford new light.”
As I was banging around NYC client meetings yesterday, the US stock market was hitting fresh September highs (new YTD high of +23.5% for the Nasdaq), and the sun was shining. It was a great day. It’s been a great year.
On this day in 2001, many of us were devastated. My thoughts are with all my friends and those families who are still feeling that pain. While it will always be there, we still need to find the courage to carry on. We can only do that together.
As families, friends, and firms, we share that opportunity every day. It’s an opportunity to listen to one another and learn from our many human mistakes. Risk managing markets is a lot like life that way. For the open-minded, there is always a light to be found somewhere. Her virtues are time, patience, and change.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
One of the most obvious changes I’ve had the pleasure and privilege in seeing in our client base over the course of the last 5 years is dismissing many of the economic dogmas of academia. You (as in the buy-side) are way ahead of the world on that.
Yes, these are early days. Change takes time. But we are finally getting broad-based and cross-disciplinary support on this front from some of the most coincident indicators there are – books.
Whether it’s from the behavioral side of economics (Dan Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, and Slow) or the more recent applications of Chaos Theory to market-based economics (George Gilder’s Knowledge and Power) it’s getting out there – and the new light I wake up to every morning certainly feels good.
In Chapter 7 of Knowledge and Power, Gilder does a great job summarizing the history of economic theory:
“During much of the century, they clustered in tribes around three or four major totemic light sources: Adam Smith, with his magical self-extending markets; John Maynard Keynes, with his amazing self-fulfilling demand… Meanwhile Hayek and Samuelson defended the spontaneous order and equilibrium of Walras and Marshall.” (pg 62)
All the while, the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalists crushed Smith’s invisible hand; Keynes government spending ideas morphed into multipliers of mass currency destruction; and some people who gave up on both Smith and Keynes just decided to be Hayekian because they had no idea what else to sign up for…
Like most fictional stories in human history, enlightenments like the one we are experiencing in economics put all of these dogmas to bed. Eventually, everyone who gets it moves on. And we have the opportunity to start growing intellectually again.
I don’t worship at the altar of a social science. I’m not a Hayekian. I’m no Keynesian either. I am Mucker. I have my own team and market based models. Here’s what Mr. Market has been telling me to think about for the last 10 months:
- Bullish on the US Dollar
- Bullish on US Growth Stocks
- Bearish on almost everything Slow-Growth (Gold, Bonds, etc)
In our multi-factor, multi-duration model, the 2nd derivative matters most (visually speaking, it’s the slope of the line). That’s why we’ve been bullish on US #GrowthAccelerating. A #StrongDollar and #RatesRising perpetuate that.
For those of your friends who are still locked-down in the dark ages by their textbooks and compensation structures, here’s a friendly fact for them on how impactful a “weak currency” was to “export growth”:
- US Dollar Index hit a 40yr low in Q2 of 2011 (post Nixon abandoning the Gold Standard in 1971)
- US Net Exports in Q4 of 2011 were down (as in negative) -0.6% in terms of their quarterly contribution to US GDP
In other words, a strong currency coincides with a strong country. Strength in currency = strength in consumption, confidence, and character. This is not a new light I am shining on our failed academic institutions this morning. This is economic history.
And yes, after moves like we’ve had to start September (the US Dollar has been up for 4 weeks in a row and the SP500 is up +3.12% for the month-to-date), it’s scary to be chasing the stocks you could have bought with the VIX 20% lower in August…
So don’t do that – the SP500 and QQQ’s are immediate-term TRADE overbought (within their bullish TREND), so sell some of what you bought when everyone was whining about another opportunity to buy things on sale. And enjoy the rest of your day.
UST 10yr 2.86-3.03%
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer