“I don’t really make decisions, I go with the flow.”
For most, Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman requires no introduction; in this analyst’s humble opinion, her role as Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever should forever be remembered as one of cinema’s all-time great damsels in distress.
Lacking adequate contextualization for her quote above, we thought we’d spend some time this morning discussing “flow” in a more relevant context: investment ideas.
Be it the Surf Lodge in Montauk or the White Briar/Princeton combo in Avalon, NJ, I’ve done my fair share of “going with the flow” this summer. In fact, how I’ve approached social life in my late-twenties is not unlike how I’ve approached generating investment ideas – by remaining open-minded and gravitating towards those destinations that others are also likely to find most attractive.
That’s easier said than done, however, especially in the context of investing. How does any investor – fully equipped with his or her confirmation biases – remain open-minded enough to consistently and presciently spot those attractive destinations? While I’m sure asking 20 different analysts and portfolio managers will net about 19-20 different responses, my answer to that omnipotent question is simple: by doing the same thing each and every day.
Back to the Global Macro Grind...
My repeatable process commences each morning by writing down 186 unique, color-coded quantitative signals into my notebook. These signals can be anything from the MoM delta in India’s OIS spread, to the SPY’s Volatility-Adjusted Multi-Duration Momentum Indicator (VAMDMI) score per our Tactical Asset Class Rotation Model (TACRM), to the top-20 and bottom-20 VAMDMI scores across the universe of global macro ETFs. It culminates with absorbing all of the relevant economic data and policy rhetoric in my geographical coverage area and categorizing the deltas as sequential accelerations, decelerations, tightenings and/or easings.
While this process is far from perfect, it does tend to afford me a consistent opportunity to kick the tires on many developing investment themes and ideas. From there, we apply a healthy dose of “secret sauce” to determine whether or not a particular theme or idea is worthy of communicating to our subscribers.
For those of you who with the ability to invest capital internationally, we thought we’d create the table below to help synthesize and hold accountable our investment ideas across the Asia, LatAm and EM space, which is my primary coverage responsibility for the team. In addition to updating you on the active recommendations therein, we are also taking this opportunity to provide post mortem on our closed ideas over the TTM.
Active Long Ideas:
- FXI: We continue to think the shaky foundation on which the Chinese economy currently resides will force officials to ease monetary and fiscal policy, at the margins. This should be supportive of industries tethered to China’s fixed asset investment bubble. (TREND duration)
- EPI: If we could LBO a country, India would be our top choice. The country’s new “management team”, led by RBI Governor Dr. Rajan and Prime Minster Modi, is implementing the kinds of policies needed to structurally elevate India’s growth potential. (TREND and TAIL durations)
- EEM, EMB, EMLC and CEW: When we were making the opposite call ~18M ago, there were not a lot of investors who agreed with us that US monetary policy was the driving factor behind capital flows, monetary conditions and asset prices in emerging markets. Now everyone gets it and the fundamentals (i.e. US #GrowthSlowing) and quantitative signals (see slide #4 of TACRM deck above) support remaining long of EM assets here. (TREND duration)
- EIDO: Definitely long in the tooth as it relates to Jokowi hoopla, but the comps in our GIP (i.e. Growth/Inflation/Policy) model portend a favorable investing environment for at least the next 2-3M. (TREND duration)
Closed Long Ideas (TTM):
- ARGT: Booking the loss here. Loose fundamental thesis on our part with even looser results.
- EWT: Great trade. Semiconductor stocks (SOX Index) have done nothing but go straight up over the past two weeks; a failure to make a higher-high would auger negatively for the consensus storytelling about a sustained recovery in CapEx.
- ENZL: Decent timing on booking the gain. It’s been lower-highs and lower-lows for New Zealand for ~3M now amid marginally dovish monetary policy.
- EWZ, BZF and PBR: Great [near] bottom-tick back in FEB; booked the alpha too early amid fears of a growing probability of a Rousseff reelection. Silva’s entrance into the presidential race throws a wrench in the trade, but we think Brazil is setting up to be a nice short heading into 2015 if either of the female candidates emerges victorious.
- FXY: Not much to see here; we merely traded around what we saw as likely consolidation amid a fiscal and monetary policy vacuum in Japan.
- CQQQ and CHIQ: Great trade. Our long “New China”/short “Old China” theme would’ve returned +1,154bps on an equal-weighted basis.
- EPI: Booked substantial alpha ahead of the election, fearing consternation. Rotated back into it a few weeks later and haven’t looked back since.
- DXJ: Calling for Japanese equity reflation to occur concomitantly with aggressive yen debasement back in 4Q12 remains one of the hallmark calls of my analytical career.
Active Short Ideas:
- FXA: While his latest guidance on rates isn’t necessarily supportive of our view, it’s clear that RBA Governor Glenn Stevens wants a lower Aussie dollar, citing Australia’s deteriorating labor market. Just wait until Aussie CPI decelerates for the next 1-2 quarters, which is something our GIP model currently identifies as the most probable outcome.
- General commentary: You’ll note that there aren’t a ton of active short ideas here. That’s by design, as both the bottom-up fundamentals and top-down quantitative signals continue to support a long bias towards EM assets at the current juncture.
Closed Short Ideas (TTM):
- KRW: Booking the loss here. We couldn’t have been more right about South Korea’s deteriorating GIP dynamics or the aggressive spate of fiscal and monetary easing we’ve seen in recent months. Conversely, inflows from international equity investors have buoyed the won – likely well above where the BoK and Finance Ministry want it to trade.
- EWA: Booking the absolute return loss/relative return alpha here. The glass half-empty reads: we underestimated the resiliency of the Aussie housing market and the Aussie consumer. The glass-half full reads: Australia’s substantial underperformance relative to global equities highlights some of the structural headwinds we were calling for back in mid-2012.
- DXJ: Good trade. As we predicted, Japan did not participate in the rally across global equities from the early-FEB lows through our late-MAY note to stop fading consensus on the “Abenomics Trade”.
- CHIX and CHXX: See commentary above RE: CQQQ and CHIQ.
- EPHE: A bad play by us that could’ve been much worse. The EPHE ETF has appreciated +15.5% since we turned broadly positive on EM assets earlier this year – inclusive of backing away from the short side of Filipino equities.
- CLP: A decent play by us that could’ve been much better, had we stuck with it. The Chilean peso has declined an additional -5% versus the US dollar since we backed away from it on the short side.
- EWZ: Outstanding call. Not much more to be said.
- EEM, EMB, EMLC and CEW: This round of #EmergingOutflows was far less severe than the first (see below).
- FXY: This is the centerpiece of the aforementioned Abenomics Trade (i.e. short yen/long Nikkei) and one of the best calls of my analytical career. We more-or-less top-ticked the all-time lower-high in the Japanese yen. It’s been mostly straight down ever since – and by a lot!
- CHIX: Great thesis; terrible timing. Reminded us of the one thing many investors forget when they ponder Chinese tail risk: China is a state-run economy. At the drop of a dime, they can manufacture both liquidity and economic growth. While reflation policies are obviously unsustainable over the long term, they can be a lot more sustainable over the near-term than the P&L of anyone trying to short China at such favorable turns in policy.
- EEM, EMB, EMLC and CEW: Another one of the hallmark calls of my analytical career. Turning bearish on EM assets when we did was greeted with a substantial amount of disbelief and contempt from investors – until after they went down in price… by a lot!
Obviously the nuggets above are intended to be brief, so please feel free to reach out if you’d like additional color on anything you see above.
Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 2.34-2.46%
Keep your head on a swivel,
Associate: Macro Team