Blinking Red

“The system was blinking red.”

-George Tenet


That’s what the 9/11 Commission Report told us, after the fact. That’s what I’ll tell you after the next “risk on” move happens in markets like it did in early October. It’s all part of a signaling process I use to identify phase transitions in markets.


This is also the #process that my friend Jim Rickards applied to tracking terror related events in markets. As Rickards writes in The Death Of Money, “no one trades in isolation.” And there is plenty of market wisdom in that.


Jim says he’s “careful to document and time-stamp the signals and analysis in real-time… it would not be credible to look at the tape in hindsight… we wanted to see things in advance.” (Rickards, pg 36). That’s what I do, every market day.


Blinking Red - 47


Back to the Global Macro Grind


But, but… the “market won’t go down on that anymore. What is the next catalyst? How do we know it’s going to go down?” I get some version of those questions all of the time. The answer is that the “market” isn’t just some naval gazing US equity index.


To review the #process:


  1. I write down and document (#notebook) every timestamp and market signal that matters to the “market” every morning
  2. I contextualize time/price within a multi-factor (global equities, FX, etc.) and multi-duration picture (TRADE, TREND, TAIL)
  3. I always assume market dynamism, duration mismatch, and non-linearity – the macro market is a complex ecosystem


Within a dynamic ecosystem of colliding, non-linear factors, I’ll almost always register #divergences. In your natural ecosystem of life, a divergence would be that it’s snowing 10 miles from where you see no precipitation.


Here are some of last week’s most notable equity market #divergences in my notebook:


  1. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index down -1.9% vs. Japan’s Nikkei stock market index +2.8%
  2. The Dow +1.1% vs. Italy’s MIB Index down -3.5% week-over-week
  3. Brazil’s Bovespa Index down -2.8% vs. the Russell 2000 flat on the wk


Meanwhile you saw big time bearish divergences in Emerging Market Equities versus something like the SP500 which closed +0.7% on the week at its all-time high:


  1. MSCI Emerging Markets Index down -2.4% on the week to -1.1% YTD
  2. MSCI Latin American Index -4.5% on the week to -5.8% YTD


Emerging Markets have looked a lot like the Russell 2000 (a US growth index) and the 10yr Treasury Yield (another US economic #GrowthSlowing proxy) as of late – and that shouldn’t surprise anyone who realizes that global growth continues to slow.


But but, if your “market” is simply what the SP500 is doing, I can show you #GrowthSlowing divergences there too:


  1. Consumer Discretionary (XLY) stocks were down -0.1% in an “up SP500 market” last week
  2. Slower growth, Consumer Staples (XLP) stocks beat “the market”, closing up another +2.2% on the week


Since our #Quad4 deflation playbook says you buy Consumer Staples (XLP) and Healthcare (XLV), last week’s divergences at the sector level certainly made a lot more sense to us than the consensus “gas prices are down, so buy the consumer” meme.


Growth and inflation expectations are obviously causal to market prices. But so are central planners burning their respective currencies at the stake.


While many US only “market” people think the US Dollar’s rise is a sign of their savior, it’s not (if you had #RatesRising it might be, but they fell again last week to 2.30% on the UST 10yr Yield). It’s a sign of global economic duress.


Last week had both the Japanese and European central planners devaluing their currencies, at the same time:


  1. Euro (vs USD) down another -0.6% on the week to -9.4% YTD
  2. Yen (vs USD) down another -2.0% on the week to -8.1% YTD


By any long-term measure, these are massive annualized currency moves.


And since the market I look at is coming off all-time lows in cross asset class volatility (FX, Equities, Commodities, Fixed Income – see our #VolatilityAssymetry slide deck from July of 2014), I see the FX market as the biggest blinking red light of all.


It’s warning the world that this grand central planning experiment is failing where it matters most, in economic growth terms.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.26-2.38%


RUT 1134-1181

EUR/USD 1.23-1.25

Yen 111.16-117.24

Gold 1132-1205


Best of luck out there this week,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Blinking Red - 11.10.14 Chart

November 10, 2014

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Don't Call It Bad!

This note was originally published at 8am on October 27, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Don’t call it a beachhead…”

-Adolf Hitler


That’s what Hitler told his field marshals after the Allies took the beaches of Normandy in 1944. He called it the “last French soil held by the enemy… and that Cherbourg was to be held at all costs.” (The Guns At Last Light, pg 105)


Evidently, it was a beachhead.


Don't Call It Bad! - EL chart 2


Back to the Global Macro Grind


A reporter from Marketwatch pinged me this morning asking what I thought the “biggest lie is that investors are telling themselves?” After reading a few consensus Bloomberg headlines that “deflation is good” my answer was simple:


The biggest lie US stock market centric investors are telling themselves right now is that the bond market has it wrong, and US growth isn’t half of what they thought it would be 10 months ago.


But , whatever you do, don’t call it bad. The same consensus that said the upside surprise in #InflationAccelerating from JAN-JUN was “good for stocks” are now saying that the #Quad4 deflation of that inflation is “good” too.


Like two bad golfers who are staring down breaking bogey puts from 9 feet in the rain and wind, it’s all “good, good.”


Back to reality…


Is 1 up week in the last 5 for the SP500 good? How about 2 in the last 8 weeks for the Russell 2000? What about both bond yields (10yr -25% YTD) and Oil prices crashing -25% since June? Oh, and 3 of the 4 BRICs falling like the real ones (Brazil,  Russia, China) - all good?


You show me one of the many consensus economists, strategists, etc. whose 2014 call for - 3.25% on the 10yr; +10-15% on the Dow, SP500,  Russell; and +3-4% GDP growth – was based on worldwide #deflation, and I’ll send them a Hedgeye hat.


Confirmation bias in being bullish on growth all of the time is what it is, but it’s not getting people paid this year. Looking at last week’s #Quad4 deflations (that continued, despite the Russell 2000 bouncing +3.4% to down -3.9% YTD):


  1. WTI crude Oil -1.3% to -12.6% YTD
  2. Russian Stocks -3.4% to -28.1% YTD
  3. Brazilian Stocks -6.8% to +0.8% YTD


And with Dilma Rousseff winning Brazil’s presidency this weekend (stock market indicated down another -5-6% pre-open), it appears that the anti-dog-eat-dog-socialist contract #deflation in that part of the global demand construct isn’t good either. It’s bad.


In Hedgeye #process speak:


  1. Quad 1 (inflation slowing and growth accelerating) is good
  2. Quad 4 (both inflation and growth slowing, at the same time) is bad


That’s it. We’ve already constructed a framework to talk about these trivial matters so that the people I used to pay on the sell-side can be held to account. If both growth equity bulls and bears agree that inflation is deflating, the only debate left is on growth.


If you’re in the #Quad4 camp (and you have to buy stocks) there are only 3 S&P Sector allocations you’d be net long of right now:


  1. Healthcare (XLV)
  2. Consumer Staples (XLP)
  3. Utilities (XLU)


And I’d weight them in that order. Since Healthcare stocks (XLV) led last week’s rally (+6.6% on the week to +17.6% YTD vs. something like the Dow which was only +2.6% on the week to +1.4% YTD), that was only confirmation that we are in #Quad4.


If we were in Quad 1 (and growth was accelerating again), early cycle stocks like housing and consumer discretionary would be leading to the upside (and big things like Retail Sales and New Homes wouldn’t be missing). Consumer Discretionary (XLY) lagged last week and is still down -0.7% YTD.


I’m not saying we’ll never be in Quad 1. That’s where markets went in the 1st half of 2009 and there were very few macro strategists who shifted from bearish on #deflation to bullish on consumption back then. Most were forced to call #Quad4 bad, after missing it the whole way down. Timing matters.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.12-2.31%

SPX 1835-1967

RUT 1055-1127

DAX 8501-9143

VIX 14.34-27.86

WTI Oil 80.05-83.78


Best of luck out there this week,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer



Don't Call It Bad! - Chart of the Day

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Takeaway: We agree that November won't be as bad as October but December may be

Fairly negative commentary overall but a ray of hope: "October was an anomaly"




  • November trends:  more normal.  Still tough but October was 'an anomaly'
  • Gaming revenue affected by changes in Mainland China regulatory policies
  • 3Q dividend:  22 cents/share; dividend policy:  pay no less than 50% of profits
  • Cutback in luxury goods and gambling budgets
  • Other factors:  Visa restrictions, increased funding costs in junkets and increased scrutiny on UnionPay transactions (cannot be in casinos)
  • October:  continuation of trends in past summer 
  • Mass market affected in October:  partial smoking ban and HK protests
  • Grand Lisboa tables:  
    • Going to reconfigure Grand Lisboa to accommodate mass market by shifting 5 tables to mass market 
    • Expect more tables from govt (have applied for 45 tables - 35 tables allocated to Legend, 10 tables to Grand Lisboa) 
    • Adding new premium mass space in January (shift VIP to mass - 15 tables in Grand Lisboa) 
  • Grand Jai-Alai will open in 2015
  • SJM Cotai on schedule to open in 2017
  • 1 item items in 3Q:  higher staff costs (14th month bonus - $43m; $5-6m incremental costs for rest of year), change in marketable securities value ($20m)
  • 3Q EBITDA margins:  have normalized;  declining VIP volumes have had high adverse impact on margins
  • Occupancy Grand Lisboa:  40 rooms being refurbished (process will take 2 yrs)
  • Smoking ban: have impacted player time on tables; saw more impact on slot side than table side
  • VIP business at old Lisboa was very soft
  • Oceanus will be impacted by Grand Prix
  • Grand Lisboa visitation:  visa restrictions had impact on premium mass segment.  October visitation was down 8%.
  • Mass reclassification:  have not reclassified any tables in October; do not have any current plans to reclassify
  • Grand Lisboa:  have placed 7 smoking areas

Investing Ideas Newsletter

Takeaway: Current Investing Ideas: EDV, GLD, HCA, MUB, RH, TLT and XLP.

Below are Hedgeye analysts’ latest updates on our seven current high-conviction long investing ideas and CEO Keith McCullough’s updated levels for each.


*Please note we added HCA on Friday. We will be sending out a brief report outlining our bullish rationale in the upcoming week.


*We also feature two pieces of content from our research team at the bottom.


Investing Ideas Newsletter      - image001 


Trade :: Trend :: Tail Process - These are three durations over which we analyze investment ideas and themes. Hedgeye has created a process as a way of characterizing our investment ideas and their risk profiles, to fit the investing strategies and preferences of our subscribers.

  • "Trade" is a duration of 3 weeks or less
  • "Trend" is a duration of 3 months or more
  • "Tail" is a duration of 3 years or less



Investing Ideas Newsletter      - Burning money cartoon 10.31.2014 3

This central planning currency burning party is going to get really ugly.




Bonds Finish a Tough Week Like Champs

Thank goodness the midterm election came and went; fortuitously for bond investors, this allowed the government to finally stop fudging the growth data. Today was the most important day in that regard, with the OCT Jobs Report being the key economic release:


  • Net payroll gains slowed sequentially to +214k MoM from an upwardly revised +256k in SEP… Good number, but has the trend of improvement inflected?
  • The YoY growth rate was essentially flat at +1.9% and holding at the peak level seen in the last cycle… Is this as good as it gets? Is the economic cycle cresting?
  • Private payrolls slowed sequentially to +209k MoM from an upwardly revised +244k in SEP... Much like the headline number, growth in private payrolls slowed on a 3MMA and 6MMA basis as well.


Investing Ideas Newsletter      - dd1


As it relates to the timing of an interest rate hike out of the FOMC – which we all know may never actually occur – the only thing that spooks the Fed into pushing out its “dots” more quickly than a -10% draw-down in the SPY is a deteriorating labor market. It’s important to contextualize the labor market properly in this regard (per Christian Drake, our senior U.S. economist):


  • The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.8% and the U-6 rate declined to 11.5%, dropping the most in 7-months.
  • Alongside the decline in the U-6 rate, the share of ST unemployed continues to rise, the trend in NFIB’s Jobs Hard to Fill and Compensation Indices remain positive, and available workers per job opening is back to pre-recession averages.
  • The employment-to-population ratio for 25-34 year olds ticked up again as employment growth for the cohort accelerated +70bps to +3.2% YoY – the fastest rate of growth since well before the start of the Great Recession.
  • Does a sequential slowdown in NFP signal a negative inflection in the domestic labor market – particularly given a negative birth-death drag, squirrely seasonals, a hard comp, declining slack and improving household survey metrics? I don’t know, but that feels like a stretched read-through on a single month of data.


Conclusion: The labor market, which is the most lagging of all economic indicators is pretty darn strong.


If for no other reason than the combination of duration (65 months into expansion) and slowing consumption growth, our work says we’re nearing the peak of the economic cycle and the Fed Funds Rate could be stuck at ZERO percent by the time the next recession rolls around.


So what do you do with that?


You buy bonds (TLT, EDV, MUB) and stocks that resemble bonds (XLP). All year, the bond market has sniffed this out and today was a continuation of that trend – after a difficult week performance-wise, nonetheless:


  • TLT: +1.2% DoD; -1% WoW
  • EDV: +1.3% DoD; -0.7% WoW
  • MUB: +0.2% DoD; -0.4% WoW
  • XLP: +0.4% DoD; +2.5% WoW


And, oh yeah, crashing oil prices aren’t exactly helping the Fed achieve its +2% “price stability” mandate either:


Investing Ideas Newsletter      - dd2



The follow-through from Friday’s jobs report is evidence of the market’s expectation with each growth slowing data point (Bad # = Bullish because there may be more monetary "cowbell." Everybody is doing it.)


  • October Non-Farm Payrolls miss: +214K vs. +248K prior (+235K expected)
  • 10-Yr -7bps back down to 2.31%
  • Gold +2%
  • Energy +1.3%


Real-time prices moved in a short-sighted manner with one data point moving prices in QUAD#3 fashion (GROWTH SLOWING, INFLATION ACCELERATING) manner like the first half of 2014.


As Hedgeye's U.S. macro analyst Christian Drake pointed out in his note post-report, one data point does not make a trend, and we are still positioned in a #QUAD4 deflationary set-up despite the pop in yield chasing asset classes on Friday (bonds, energy, gold):


“Does a sequential slowdown in NFP signal a negative inflection in the domestic labor market – particularly given a negative birth-death drag, squirrely seasonals, a hard comp, declining slack and improving household survey metrics?


I don’t know, but that feels like a stretched read-through on a single month of data.”


With the labor market showing continued signs of modest improvement as a whole, we expect a continuation in similar trends to support the Fed’s current policy path.


We look at activity in every market over multiple durations, and Gold is no different. The intermediate-term deflationary environment domestically is certainly bad for commodities and bullish for the U.S. dollar, but we have no question monetary policy could turn right back down devaluation road over the intermediate and long-term if it was data-supported.


From a quantitative perspective gold looks exhausted to the downside and found support at the low-end of the risk range Friday. We’ll watch the follow-through into next week.



Restoration Hardware is on track to open the first Full Line Design Gallery in Atlanta on November 21st. At 45,000 selling sq. ft. (with an additional 20,000 sq. ft.) of outdoor selling space, it will be the biggest RH store to date. The new 6 story store will have an increased SKU count across it’s traditional categories and two dedicated floors, one to Small Spaces and the other to Baby and Child.


Product diversification is key to the RH story, as new categories generally experience a 50%-150% lift in sales across channels (both in stores and online) when displayed within a company’s retail locations.


But this isn’t just about the top line. One of the key components of the real estate transformation is the occupancy leverage the company realizes as it moves into spaces 6x-8x the size of its legacy stores at rent terms just 25% of the current rate per square foot. This is the big driver behind the Gross Margin expansion we should see over the next 5 years.


Investing Ideas Newsletter      - RH atlanta


* * * * * * * * * * 


CAT: 5 Reasons to Stay Bearish into 2015

"There are more than five reasons (on Caterpillar)," writes Hedgeye Industrials analyst Jay Van Sciver. "But we will start with these."

Investing Ideas Newsletter      - c2

Putin on the brink? Top Russia Insider Discusses developments, what may occur next in moscow

Our Macro Team hosted a special “Behind the Curtain” conference call with Michael McFaul, one of the world’s foremost experts on Russia and Vladimir Putin. Until earlier this year, McFaul was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia and held closed-door meetings with Putin and his top lieutenants before finally stepping down out of concern for his family and his own safety. 

Investing Ideas Newsletter      - 5

Commodities: Weekly Quant

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart1 divergences

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart2 deltas

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart3 USD Correls

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart4 S P correls

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart5 volume

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart6 implied vol

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart7 sentiment

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart8 1 mth correls

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart9 3 mth correlws

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart 10 6 mth correls

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart11 1 yr correls

Commodities: Weekly Quant - chart12 3 yr correls


Ben Ryan 


investing ideas

Risk Managed Long Term Investing for Pros

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough handpicks the “best of the best” long and short ideas delivered to him by our team of over 30 research analysts across myriad sectors.