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Flash Call Friday: #Bubbles Or Bottom?

Flash Call Friday: #Bubbles Or Bottom?  - HE M bubblesbottom


#Bubbles or Bottom? Join the Hedgeye Macro Team, led by CEO Keith McCullough, for a 15 minute flash call tomorrow, October 17th at 1:00pm EDT. We remain bearish on both domestic and international equities. On the call we will highlight the best places to "hide out in" in order to weather the market volatility.  


Our industry-leading fundamental macro research and proprietary quantitative risk management systems suggest a heightened probability of a market crash over the intermediate term. When juxtaposed against the consensus narrative of, "where do I buy the dip?", we think this is a call no one can afford to miss.  




  • Toll Free Number:
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  • Conference Code: 149679#
  • Materials: CLICK HERE (The presentation will be available approximately 30 minutes prior to the call)

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Takeaway: The expectation for a supply/demand floor is not a catalyst for volatility-induced real-time market moves

The daily narrative these last few weeks following the sell-off in energy markets has anchored on the fundamental supply/demand dynamic in the energy space, and it’s been pretty simple:


There’s tons of supply hitting the market, and global growth appears to be slowing.


As a precursor to reading this note, the following is an over-simplified view of our risk management process (the sequence of relevant events is of importance in understanding how we contextualize the daily news flow in global macro): 


1         We quantitatively model global macro to front-run inflection points in the slope of growth and inflation which gives us the expectation for the current environment (#QUAD4: GROWTH SLOWING, INFLATION DECELERATING)

2         With this expectation, we lean on our research team for sector-specific alpha (which companies are better longs in a macro set-up where we would want to be long that sector?). In other words we look for the fundamentals to follow and confirm.

3         With an intermediate to long-term BULLISH view on a ticker (delta positive), we will use our immediate-term TRADE ranges to BUY on RED and SELL on GREEN


NOTE: A fundamental supply/demand dynamic in global energy markets follows the quant and market-based signals to confirm our view (market-based meaning PRICE, VOLUME, AND VOLATILITY signals):

  • We wouldn’t buy oil here on a fundamental catalyst when volume is 50%-100% above trailing averages over different durations on down days
  • OPTIONS COLOR: volume in WTI Jan 15’ expiry was 3:1 to 5:1 puts-call ratio on Tuesday at most strikes. 25 Delta put-call skew over the last week went from around 2 points historically to 7-8 points as the spike in volatility forces investors to pay-up for protection: #VOLATILITY ASSYMETRY        

Every mainstream financial news and media source this week supplied a myriad of quotes and one-off statistical arguments as to why prices can only go so low:

  • “OPEC will cut production”
  • “OPEC won’t cut production BUT Saudi Arabia and the other major players are deliberately making a stance not to cut production to squeeze higher cost North American shale plays” 
  • “Marginal Production costs will slow the supply flood: There’s resistance starting at $80/barrel, and this will step up as oil moves lower as more and more producers are squeezed”:
    • The Executive Director of the IEA reported this week that 98% of crude oil and condensates from the U.S. have a breakeven oil price below $80/barrel. She followed up with the estimation that 82% of these companies have a breakeven at $60 or less.


The supply-side of the equation is definitive. There’s tons of supply from newly developed sources flooding the market:

  • North-American oil and gas boom from newly developed, non-traditional sources
  • Stable production from OPEC countries
  • Continued E&P activity in Russia and the South China Sea





  • Global production increased ~+910K B/D in September (annualized) to 93.8M B/D (annualized) which is +2.8M higher y/y
  • OPEC producers have all verbally confirmed they have no plans to reduce output and several have cut prices to Asia and Europe:
    • OPEC’s largest producer, Saudi Arabia, usually leads the charge, became the first to cut prices to Asian end-markets (others followed):
      • Iraq is now following Saudi Arabia and Iran in cutting prices to Asia and Europe
      • Iraq (2nd largest OPEC producer) will sell its Basrah Light crude to Asia at the biggest discount since January 2009, the country’s State Oil Marketing Co. said this week.
  • Iran last week said it will sell oil to Asia in November at the biggest discount in almost 6 years, matching cuts by Saudi Arabia.   




Global growth is slowing and demand expectations have been downwardly revised..

  • The IEA significantly cuts global crude oil demand growth for 2014-15 this week:
    • Full-year 2014 global demand growth cut by -200K B/D to 900K
    • Full-year 2015 global demand growth cut -300K B/D to 1.1M B/D (93.5M total)


Many of the statistics are self-explanatory in suggesting that production cuts are inevitable to reach equilibrium. We will be the first one to tell you that fundamentals will play-out over the long-term (and they may, but it could be at much lower prices).


With that being said, we completely disagree with the argument that an expectation for fundamental equilibrium can somehow back-stop the real-time relative changes in price, volume, and volatility. The quant signals give us indications, and we look to the fundamental set-up to confirm.


Fed-fueled easy-money policy and low periods of volatility create a few big risks:

  • Leverage
  • Volatility Spikes

Managed money is forced to chase outperformance. Longer periods of time in a low volatility environment force leveraged beta-chasing. It also creates the behavioral assumption as to what volatility is, based on how it’s been, and how it’s expected to be.

In a recent note before Janet Yellen’s September speech, we outlined the correlation risk embedded in the assumption of continued tapering and the outlook for a stronger USD…. Oil Getting Whacked


In the note we highlighted the correlation inherent in a non-consensus policy response:


1.            When Fed heads use communication tools to talk up rate hikes (like Bernanke just did) USD and rates rise


2.              When USD and rates are rising, at the same time, commodities, oil, Gold, etc. go down


3.              The machines (quants) then chase macro correlations, and macro markets get overbought/oversold”


Point three addresses the immediate, real-time risk that can smack you in the face. When those looking to minimize large currency and rate exposure anchor on macro correlations for hedge-sizing considerations one-way, large positions create the execution risk block traders love to hate:

  • Anchoring: Tighter the correlation requires a bigger hedge
  • Volume: Larger positions create large capitulation risk
  • Sentiment: The “Commitments of Traders Report” from the CFTC shows a consensus position that is short the Euro, short long-duration treasuries, and longer (Than US) on U.S. growth.
  • Volatility: If a leveraged consensus trade is wrong, the volatility risk is greater in the FX, Gold, and Oil markets as robots and scalpers chase the large trades.
  • Risk: What is the probability of price moving to a certain level? We model it higher with this correlation risk. From an immediate-term TRADE duration perspective the bands/levels for identifying overbought/oversold exhaustion signals widen." 

Yellen kicked the can in Jackson Hole, but just last week she reverted in her commentary on the minutes from the September 16-17th meeting:   


A.K.A we are not hawks, and we’re not reverting on the ingrained beliefs for how monetary policy should intervene in the marketplace.

We have reiterated our expectation for this policy response all year in an environment with growth slowing and expectations for growth too high as it is an input into our macro modeling.  

A +160% move in VIX from the July lows is the follow-through from Fed-induced leverage in the system.  How many of the market participants in oil markets (or any derivative of oil markets, which is a much larger pool of investors) have any interest in the physical commodity over financial speculation anyway? What percentage of average daily trading volume?


Both BRENT and WTI are currently BEARISH from both an intermediate-term TREND duration. Our quantitative signals front-ran the fundamental supply/demand story which is taking shape. As always, we will continue to look to these quantitative signals and back-fill into the story.


WTI Set-Up:

BEARISH TREND (Intermediate-Term) : $94.63

BEARISH TAIL (Long-Term): $97.95


Please feel free to ping us with comments or questions on our current position here.


Ben Ryan



The domestic labor market has been an increasingly insular island of strength in a receding sea of global growth expectations the last couple months. 


Initial claims have continued to improve, the trend in aggregate income growth has been one of acceleration and monthly payroll gains have been solid. 


As our Financials team commented earlier today,


This morning's claims data suggests the recovery in the labor market is ongoing. In fact, the rate of improvement accelerated to the fastest clip we've seen YTD. Rolling NSA initial claims were better by 17.2% this week vs the prior year comp. Admittedly, the comps from last year were easier, making the significance slightly less, but the conclusion is still the same. The labor data suggests all systems go.


Source: Hedgeye Financials





PEAKS ARE PROCESSES:  Initial Claims have been a leading indicator for both the market and economy with peak improvement in the series occurring late in the cycle.  We’ve profiled the primary labor market metrics in the context of historical market/economic cycles a number of times (see, for example: Patience or Penury


Summarily, and assuming the prior seven (post-war) cycles are appropriate analogues (which is debatable), the pattern has been pretty consistent:  The trough (i.e. peak improvement) in claims occurs 4 to 9 months ahead of the economic cycle peak and a few months ahead of the market peak.


With rolling initial claims making lower lows, at present, we are still putting in the trough.  If cycle precedents hold, the implication is that the economic peak is still some months out. 


Timing of the market peak is more tenuous - particularly given the more recent hyper-democratization of information and the shift towards a more meritocratic investing landscape.








Labor drives income growth which supports household spending directly and indirectly via augmenting the capacity for incremental credit. 


Income and credit growth drive aggregate demand and if trends in both are positive/improving then the fundamental support for bullish equity exposure is there. 




As we’ve witness (again) in the last week/month, the equity and bond markets are not the domestic labor market, particularly in the short term and when volatility ramps, ROW is slowing and behavioral factors and price reflexivity predominate within an over-levered and illiquid market. 






I detailed how our macro process functions in integrating our (sometimes conflicting) fundamental macro view with our quantitative view of markets in an Early Look last week.  Please see  Early Look: Conflations and Incongruencies for a timely case-study of our process in action. 


Indeed, it’s the conflation of perceived fundamental trends into a convicted market call where economists-turned-strategists most often go awry.


We’ll be doing a flash call titled Bubbles or Bottom? tomorrow at 1pm updating our current view and 4Q14 Macro themes.  Details for the call will be sent out shortly. 



Christian B. Drake



Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.37%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.32%

Video | Daryl Jones Talks Market Peak on Fox Business

Hedgeye Director of Research Daryl Jones comments on investors reassessing growth forecasts after the market peak and struggles the consumer will face with Sandra Smith on Fox Business Network. Jones' remarks begin at 2:05 in the video above. 


Keith's Macro Notebook 10/16: Yen | Europe | Oil

PIGS Paper Shows Swift Reversal!

There’s a recent swift inflection in Eurozone peripheral yields and select Eurozone equity markets roll into crash phase!  #PrepareYourself

Despite the steady improvement (decline) in sovereign periphery bond yields on a year Y/Y basis, the inflection taking place on a D/D and W/W basis is significant.  Here’s a look at the 10YR yields:

  • Greece 8.91% (+105bps D/D ; +229bps W/W)
  • Portugal 3.67% (+38bps D/D; +71bps W/W)
  • Italy 2.59% (+17bps D/D ; +28bps W/W)
  • Spain 2.22% (+10bps D/D; +14bps W/W)

PIGS Paper Shows Swift Reversal! - z. zee yields


And Portuguese and Greek equity markets are down YTD -25.2% and -23.9%.

PIGS Paper Shows Swift Reversal! - z. divergence


Why the shift?  As we expressed in our Q4 Macro Themes playbook, not only is global growth getting a lot worse, but specifically in our #EuropeSlowing theme we stress that Draghi’s Drugs will not arrest deflation (currently at 0.3% Y/Y) nor produce sustainable economic growth. 

PIGS Paper Shows Swift Reversal! - z. deflated pigs 2


A second theme we continue to hammer home is that US economy has entered #Quad4, which is characterized by slowing growth and decelerating inflation.


And our last theme, #Bubbles, demonstrates that we see a significant number of market bubbles (including the SPX). Our call is “they don’t bounce”, or said another way, we’re recommending a 0% exposure (or short position if applicable) to the equity market, and not buy-in points.


Add on in recent weeks:

  • Global growth forecasts were taken down by the IMF (and by numerous individual countries/governments)
  • Persistent geopolitical risks (ISIS, Ukraine, and Hong Kong)
  • Ebola outbreak concerns

And there’s plenty of “juice” to send risk premiums higher. Specifically in Europe, we’re seeing a confluence of factors that are sending the risk trade (not growth trade) higher.

  • Greece:  Political uncertainty – Greek PM Samaras reiterated his belief that Greece would hold a general election in 2016, even though his government faces the prospect of losing the presidential vote in February
  • Greece:  Financial uncertainty – There’s backlash and investor uncertainty over Greece’s claim to be purely market funded. We believe the country will need to ask for another credit line from the EU when EU funds run out this year (note: Greece is still taking funding from IMF through 2016)
  • Italy:  Joins France on sending Austerity is Dead message with Italian PM Renzi presenting an expansionary, tax-cutting 2015 budget that ignores the concerns from the European Commission on meeting its original deficit reduction target.

If we’re right that Draghi won’t be able to bend gravity to arrest deflation and produce sustainable economic growth, we’d expect sovereign yields from the Eurozone’s weaker member states to move higher commensurate with a higher risk profile. We expect the stronger deflation in peripheral countries to persist and extend the time period to higher growth levels.


We direct you to recent work including Just Ugly Charts #EuropeSlowing and #EuropeSlowing – Austerity Is Dead? for more on our investment position, outlook on ECB policy, and country-specific commentary. 


Matthew Hedrick


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