Ambition and Avarice

This note was originally published at 8am on November 01, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men.”

-Benjamin Franklin

 

And, in case you wondered whether or not your central planning overlords in Washington have yet to eliminate those two passions, they have only amplified them: “These ambitions are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money.”

 

Franklin went on to add that, “separately each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men, a post of honour that shall be at the same time a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.” (The Liberty Amendments, pg 23)

 

That’s why we all have no choice other than to Embrace Uncertainty in macro markets. There is nothing normal about a man from an un-elected US post moving your entire risk exposures with a whisper to the Wall Street Journal. Therefore you should not invest “normally.” Either #GetActive and do real-time macro or, as Dan Och recently said, “macro will do you.”

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

BREAKING: Budget Deficit In US Narrows To 5 Year Low on Record Revenues –Bloomberg News

 

Not to be confused with the fear-mongering headlines Bloomberg/CNBC were running about how a US debt “default” could spell the 6th #EOW (end of the world) event of 2013, the fine folks in NYC’s groupthink tank finally nailed it.

 

Eleven months ago, we got ragingly bullish on the US Dollar because the only 2 factors in the (P) part of (POLICY) in our GIP (Growth, Inflation, Policy) Model @Hedgeye were Dollar Bullish:

 

1. FISCAL FACTOR: US Deficit/GDP was going to get cut in half to 4% (it was just reported at -4.1%, so we were off by a bit) because A) sequestration is good (spending down) and B) US #GrowthAccelerating would drive the denominator (GDP) up


2. MONETARY FACTOR: US #GrowthAccelerating would surprise those anchoring on last year’s Q412 GDP report of 0.14%, the Fed would fall behind the curve, #RatesRising would surprise to the upside, and tapering expectations would take hold

 

So easy a hockey head can do it. Then, sadly, the Fed gave into the mega Bond Bull Lobby on September 18th, 2013, smoked the Dollar, took rates back down, and the MONETARY FACTOR for USD Bulls was lost (again).

 

But the FISCAL FACTOR (which can only be obfuscated by the Fed as opposed to arrested like Bernanke did with USD and Bond Yields) continued along its path of least resistance and US Government Revenues were +15.2% year-over-year in September (not a typo)!

 

Oh, and the SP500 ripped the front-teeth out of all those #OldMedia mouth-pieces who shorted the October 2013 fear-mongered low about a US default when the US credit position was in its best position in half a decade. #NewAllTimeSPYHighs

 

And so it begins, after all-time SP500 and Russell2000 highs in October (SPY = +4.5% OCT 2013), it’s November. What in god’s good name are we supposed to do next?

 

To answer the question in any country, I always go back to the playbook:

 

  1. USA: FISCAL = hawkish (bullish USD); MONETARY = dovish (bearish USD)
  2. EUROPE: FISCAL = hawkish (bullish Euro); MONETARY = hawkish (bullish Euro)
  3. UK: FISCAL = hawkish (bullish Pound); MONETARY = hawkish (bullish Pound)

 

And to be clear, when I say hawkish or dovish, I mean what’s happening from a 2nd derivative perspective (i.e. what’s happening on the margin relative to the last 3-6 months).

 

This is why we’re #EuroBulls (see our Q413 Global Macro Theme deck) relative to being as bullish as we were, literally up until September 18th (shame on you Bernanke), on US growth. Same playbook; different relative pick.

 

Everything in macro is relative. Every asset allocator has a choice. And when push comes to shove in the coming 3-6 months, what will it be, German stocks or US stocks?

 

While the Russell2000 dropped -1.9% from its all-time performance chasing high in the last 2-days, German stocks hit a fresh all-time high. Fortunately, Mr. Market keeps score; not you or me. He gets it.

 

Since I’ve been bearish on Commodities and Fixed Income relative to Equities for the better part of a year now, I consider this shift to European Equities vs US Equities within an asset class that I like. If the Fed leans on the long-end of the curve, you can still be long US Equities, just not the Equities that worked best in 2013. The Growth Style Factor gets repressed by Bernanke’s intervention.

 

Having had an asset allocation to Commodities of 0% all year (CRB Commodities Index is 19 Commodities and it’s -6.1% YTD, on its YTD lows), getting long Gold for the 1st time in a long time gets interesting here too. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but front-running the next Hilsenrath article is a compelling catalyst.

 

How would that work? On a Friday, Bernanke’s boys float a headline to the WSJ that there won’t be a December taper, the Dollar gets slammed, Rates fall, and Gold rips. Oh yes, ambition and avarice matters in the land of the conflicted and compromised. And we aren’t yet dumb enough to not front-run proactively predictable behavior.

 

Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.48-2.60%

SPX 1740-1771

DAX 8971-9061

USD 79.21-80.35

Euro 1.35-1.37

Gold 1314-1341

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Ambition and Avarice - Chart of the Day

 

Ambition and Avarice - Virtual Portfolio


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