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A Liquidity Trap

Client Talking Points

VIX

The front-month frustration smashed right back to its year-to-date lows (not a buy signal). Last time VIX touched this level was August 2013 – the SPX dropped -3.5% in less than 2 weeks from there.

VOLUME

The giant sucking sound of a liquidity trap continues to manifest. Total US equity market volume was down -9% and -31% versus one- and three-month averages yesterday. TREND continues of volume DOWN on up-days and UP on down-days.

EUROPE

Equities continue to signal lower-highs as the PMI data slowed sequentially – rate of change model matters. Italian stocks (led gainers January-April) now lead losers on down days, down -0.9% this morning for MIB Index, breaking our TREND line.

Asset Allocation

CASH 32% US EQUITIES 0%
INTL EQUITIES 6% COMMODITIES 18%
FIXED INCOME 24% INTL CURRENCIES 20%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
HOLX

Hologic is emerging from an extremely tough period which has left investors wary of further missteps. In our view, Hologic and its new management are set to show solid growth over the next several years. We have built two survey tools to track and forecast the two critical elements that will drive this acceleration.  The first survey tool measures 3-D Mammography placements every month.  Recently we have detected acceleration in month over month placements.  When Hologic finally receives a reimbursement code from Medicare, placements will accelerate further, perhaps even sooner.  With our survey, we'll see it real time. In addition to our mammography survey. We've been running a monthly survey of OB/GYNs asking them questions to help us forecast the rest of Hologic's businesses, some of which have been faced with significant headwinds. Based on our survey, we think those headwinds are fading. If the Affordable Care Act actually manages to reduce the number of uninsured, Hologic is one of the best positioned companies.

OC

Construction activity remains cyclically depressed, but has likely begun the long process of recovery.  A large multi-year rebound in construction should provide a tailwind to OC shares that the market appears to be underestimating.  Both residential and nonresidential construction in the U.S. would need to roughly double to reach post-war demographic norms.  As credit returns to the market and government funded construction begins to rebound, construction markets should make steady gains in coming years, quarterly weather aside, supporting OC’s revenue and capacity utilization.

LM

Legg Mason reported its month ending asset-under-management for April at the beginning of the week with a very positive result in its fixed income segment. The firm cited “significant” bond inflows for the month which we calculated to be over $2.3 billion. To contextualize this inflow amount we note that the entire U.S. mutual fund industry had total bond fund inflows of just $8.4 billion in April according to the Investment Company Institute, which provides an indication of the strong win rate for Legg alone last month. We also point out on a forward looking basis that the emerging trends in the mutual fund marketplace are starting to favor fixed income which should translate into accelerating positive trends at leading bond fund managers. Fixed income inflow is outpacing equities thus far in the second quarter of 2014 for the first time in 9 months which reflects the emerging defensive nature of global markets which is a good environment for leading fixed income houses including Legg Mason.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

JAPAN: Nikkei +2.1% after being down 5 of the 6 sessions prior - still -11.3% YTD #hooray @KeithMcCullough

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale

STAT OF THE DAY

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is offering an up-close-and-personal visit with its 8-month-old giant panda Bao Bao. For $6,000, zoo-goers can take a behind-the-scenes tour to meet Bao Bao and her mother, Mei Xiang, as a part of the zoo's VIP package for their annual fundraiser.  (USA Today)


So, Challenge Their God

This note was originally published at 8am on May 08, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“It was fortunate that the Commodore was not educated; for had he been, he would have been a god.”

-New York Sun, April, 1878

 

You know I love 19th century American Capitalist history. You know I love the epic story of Cornelius Vanderbilt too. The aforementioned quote comes from Part Three of The First Tycoon (pg 333). We should all thank our respective gods that Vanderbilt wasn’t an Ivy League economist.

 

Counter to popular Marxist beliefs in this country, the capitalists built the steamships and rails. They blew themselves up trying to make money plenty of other ways too – and they liked it. That’s the only way to learn and evolve – having a very real chance that you can fail.

 

Yesterday, Janet Yellen failed to convince me that she isn’t the ideologue that her partner in pulverizing America’s poor was. I don’t think she’s going to persuade anyone who doesn’t get paid by QE either. That’s at least 80% of the country, fyi.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

So, Challenge Their God - Titanic 03.31.2014 

No worries about the long-term in this country. When I am long dead, maybe my son, daughters, or theirs will have an opportunity to live an American life that doesn’t included an un-elected academic droning on like Charlie Brown’s teacher about how the Fed hasn’t perpetuated all-time highs in asset price inflation.

 

Cost of living in this country is bubbling up to all-time highs. And instead of talking about that yesterday, Yellen was more concerned about what we have been signaling now for months – a redo of a US #HousingSlowdown.

 

“So” (in classic groupthink lingo, she prefaced every Keynesian comment she made yesterday with that), instead of following the money, follow how her Policy To Inflate Housing Prices plays out from here:

  1. She starts to talk down Housing’s recovery and, in doing so, rhetorically un-tapers…
  2. As she un-tapers the hybrid tightening (tapering), the currency and bond markets look more and more right…
  3. US Dollar Down, Rates Down = Moar Commodity #InflationAcceleraring, and Moar Real #ConsumerSlowing

That’s right. As the cost of living ramps, 80-90% of this country has less dollars to spend. Inflation is real-time, whereas your wages (if you are lucky) adjust on a 1yr lag… and things like rent inflate on a 12-18 month lag to home price appreciation (US Home Prices were +12-13% nationally last year).

 

“So”, if you are in the 30% (and climbing) of Americans who rent (that’s 1/3 of the cost of living for the median US Consumer – see our Q2 Macro Themes slide deck on the math), Yellen’s narrative on how 0% “is good for housing” is really good for you, right? Yeah, a really good kick in the teeth.

 

David Einhorn challenged Yellen’s god (Bernanke) on this at a dinner recently (see yesterday’s Bloomberg story: “Einhorn Finds Dinner Chat With Bernanke Frightening”), “so”, take his word for it if you can’t take mine.

 

Einhorn is obviously a lot smarter than I, but he and the Thunder Bay Bear have a few things in common:

  1. We were raised in the 1970s (Nixon/Carter bipartisan support to Burn The Buck – i.e. The Policy To Inflate)
  2. We both learned linear Keynesian economics at Ivy League schools (Cornell and Yale)
  3. We both learned, as young hedge fund managers in 2000-2001, what Fed bubbles that pop look like when they are popping

“So”, call our paths experience… or something like that. But don’t call us the guys who were buying-the-damn-bubble-stocks on January 1st, 2014. By the way, Twitter (TWTR) is up +3% this morning. “So”, if you bought it JAN 1, you’re down 50%, and only need to be up another +98% from here to breakeven.

 

In hedgie land (the difference between a hedgie like Einhorn and a Hedgeye is that he runs money and I run my mouth), we call blowing up in names like Zooolilly (ZU) or Fireye (FEYE) or YELP! “drawdown risk.” For the high-multiple momentum bulls, that risk is #on.

 

“So”, the real reason why Yellen wouldn’t call anything a bubble yesterday – or why Bernanke didn’t call the all-time highs in Housing (2006-2007), Oil (2008), Gold (2011), Food (2012), Bonds (2012), or Junk (2014 – I think Janet called that “high yield”) bubbles, is that they are bubbles.

 

So, Challenge Their God - Chart of the Day

 

The only way to prevent a bubble from popping is to: A) not call it one and B) rhetorically signal why you should buy moarrr of it. Or so the Fed thinks. “So”, I think you should take your time observing this gong show and challenge The Fed’s ideological god by shorting the bubbles that start to pop, with impunity.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.56-2.65%

SPX 1861-1890

RUT 1101-1121

VIX 12.83-14.52

USD 79.01-79.59

EUR/USD 1.38-1.39

Pound 1.68-1.70

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


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May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014 - 1

 

BULLISH TRENDS

May 22, 2014 - Slide2

May 22, 2014 - Slide3

May 22, 2014 - Slide4

May 22, 2014 - Slide5

May 22, 2014 - Slide6

May 22, 2014 - Slide7 

BEARISH TRENDS

 

May 22, 2014 - Slide8

May 22, 2014 - Slide9

May 22, 2014 - Slide10

May 22, 2014 - Slide11
May 22, 2014 - Slide12



Inflation Is a Lie

“Inflation is taxation without legislation.”

-Milton Friedman

 

It’s a good thing for Janet Yellen that Milton Friedman isn’t around to call her out. Ben Bernanke can get paid another $400,000 to spew to a bunch of head-nodders that there’s no inflation at $110/barrel oil and the all-time high in US rents too, I guess.

 

Friedman also said that a “government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” #Agreed. But the Federal Reserve is becoming a much larger problem than that. These people aren’t even elected.

 

“So”, after Soybeans, Oil, and Orange Juice prices inflated another +2.4%, +1.7%, and +1.3%, respectively, yesterday, Mr. Macro Market took the Fed’s commentary (Federal Reserve Minutes were released intraday) that there is no #InflationAccelerating risk as a sign to buy more inflation. 

Inflation Is a Lie - Inflation 04.29.2014

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

On US rents (34% of Americans have to rent, and like it) and cost of living hitting all-time highs this week, this is what one of the most uninformed members of the US Federal Reserve, Bill Dudley, had to say:

 

“prices look likely to firm, somewhat”

 

Thanks for coming out Bill. And yes, I’m calling you out. When our kids look back on this period of US economic history, they’ll call you a lot worse than that. They might even call guys like you Jimmy Carter.

 

While it’s part of winning a hockey game, name-calling is no way to win a debate. Alongside #RentRipping, here’s more YTD #InflationAcclerating data:

 

  1. CRB Foodstuffs Index +21.9% YTD
  2. CRB Commodities Index +10% YTD
  3. Coffee +57.6% YTD
  4. Nickel +42.1% YTD
  5. Lean Hogs +28.3% YTD
  6. Soybeans +19.2% YTD
  7. Cattle +15.4% YTD
  8. Palladium +15.4% YTD
  9. Orange Juice +10.9% YTD
  10. Oil +7.9% YTD

 

Oh, right. Oil is only +8% YTD vs. US growth stocks (Russell 2000) and US Consumer Discretionary (XLY) down -5.7% and -3.9% YTD, respectively. No worries. Ben Bernanke said there was no inflation with Oil at $150 in Q2 of 2008 either.

 

It’s one thing for me to rant about this using real-time prices paid. It’s going to be an entirely different thing when the 80% of people in this country getting jammed by the Fed’s Policy To Inflate revolt.

 

As the late Robert Heinlein astutely observed, “there is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” But he’s dead now too. So Janet doesn’t have to deal with him either.

 

Inflation Is a Lie - Chart of the Day

 

In other real-time (price, volume, volatility) news:

 

  1. PRICE – SP500, Nasdaq, and Russell all bounced to lower-highs (down -0.6%, -5.2%, and -8.7% from their bubble highs) yesterday
  2. VOLUME – total US Equity market volume was DOWN again on the UP-day (-9% and -31% versus its 1 and 3 months averages)
  3. VOLATILITY – front month VIX got smashed to a fresh YTD closing low of 11.91

 

And you buy stocks when volatility is at its oversold lows, right? Only if you are doing it with other people’s money! Must #chase daily #performance. Must short low and cover high. Must bang head against Old Wall.

 

No thanks.

 

If you bought US stocks at this level in the VIX in August of 2013, you were down -3.5% (in the SP500) in less than 2 weeks after that. The most recent time-spanking you’d have had buying US growth stocks (Russell 2000) with a “low VIX” in Jan-Mar 2014 is more like -7-9%.

 

But, if you play this game with real-ammo, you already know that.

 

Other than front-month-frustration for growth bears trying to express their fears in VIX (which has not been a recommendation in the Hedgeye Macro Theme playbook in 2014 due to 6,000 hedge funds trying to do the same, at the same time), where is US stock market sentiment at?

 

  1. II’s Bull Bear Survey just flashed a fresh new Q2 high in consensus bullishness
  2. After another no-volume bounce, Bulls have chased back up to 57.2% (from low 50%s at the YTD lows)
  3. The Bull/Bear Spread has widened +30% to the Bullish side since mid-April to +3890 basis points wide

 

In other words, the point here isn’t that 65-70% of people are bullish. It’s that only 17-19% will admit they are bearish! Do not underestimate the #behavioral risk to this US stock market that is called career risk management.

 

Not only has the Fed implicitly imposed a short-term performance chasing hyperactivity on equity fund managers being forced to chase yield, bubbles, etc., they’ve made a large % of the hedge fund business a levered long beta strategy.

 

But I digress. Having someone at the Fed explain what that means to Maxine Waters will be as difficult as these people trying to convince you that cost of living isn’t at all-time highs. While lies about inflation in Washington can most definitely live, they can’t live forever.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

RUT 1085-1121

VIX 11.84-14.02

USD 79.61-80.23

Brent Oil 109.05-110.99

Gold 1

Copper 3.08-3.19

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.

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