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“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
-James Dean
Fatally dying in a car crash at the age of 24, James Dean lived a very short, but influential life. Dean’s life reminds me that risk management starts when I get in the car every morning. Penning my morning missive doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
When some people in this business think of risk management, they don’t think of their returns dying today. Some hope. Some dream. Some wakeup having made so much money that they are numb to the mortality of living a life levered long.
I wake-up at 4AM. I fill my thermos with coffee. I play the macro game that’s in front of me.
I don’t need to be bullish. I don’t need to be bearish. I don’t need to crash.
Today starts with yesterday. My feet are on the floor early. My coffee tastes the same. On 9/24 I called it an Outside Reversal. Today, I’ll call yesterday a major immediate term TRADE line breakdown. Combined, these two mathematical realities are bearish. If you’d like to dream that a +58% rally from the March lows is going to live forever, dream on…
The SP500 is -4% off its 2009 YTD high, and Japan’s Nikkei is down -4% in the last 48 hours. The two largest cars in the world’s economy (USA and Japan) have just had immediate term price momentum car crashes. Now is not the time to “buy and hold.” Now is the time to proactively prepare for potential collateral damage…
In “Rebel Without a Cause”, James Dean played a teenager with some serious angst. Don’t be that teenager this morning. Be an adult. Remove the emotion, and deal with the risk management lines that matter:
1.      SP500 immediate term TRADE support is now resistance at 1040 (Nikkei TRADE line resistance is up at 10,343)

2.      SP500 intermediate term TREND support is down at 981; that’s -4.7% lower and in play for the 1st time in 13 trading days

3.      US Dollar immediate term TRADE resistance = $77.24; support is at a higher-low = $76.08 (higher-lows of support for the Burning Buck is brand new)

Before they came public, some of the Partners at Goldman would ask, “can you make money by yourself, alone in the room?” That’s a really good question, and whenever I am on a bad performance run, I always ask myself the same…
If you were to lock me in a room and only give me one live market quote that I could use to manage the risk associated with the US stock market, it would definitely be that of the US Dollar.
What if the Buck stops Burning? What happens to all of the REFLATION trades? Well, rather than have a qualitative discussion about this, let’s look at yesterday’s math:
1.      The US Dollar was up +0.71%

2.      The SP500 was down -2.6%

3.      The SP Sector Financials (XLF) were -4.4%, and Basic Materials (XLB) -3.9%

There’s your risk. Car crashes are easy to see after they occur. Everything Burning Buck has been a buoy for everything priced in those bucks. Whether they be the US Dollar denominated toxic debts or Dr. Copper’s leverage to a down Dollar’s price, it’s all one and the same. If you want to play chicken with this next oncoming car, go right ahead. But I am warning you that objects in this inverse correlation’s rear view mirror are much closer than they appear.
Other than ultimately ending this non-scientific Greenspan/Bernanke Doctrine of ZERO percent returns on the savings accounts of this country’s citizenry, what else can get the Buck to stop Burning?
1.      The Fed’s Balance Sheet: it stopped going up this week! That’s the 1st week in the last 8, dropping by -$17.6B to $2.14 Trillion

2.      Federal Reserve Hawks: add Richmond Fed Head, Jeffrey Lacker, to the growing list of those who have made US$ bullish comments in the past week

3.      Unemployment: something better than a jobless recovery is Buck Bullish

But my oh my, Keith – ‘some of these things just won’t be good for my equity portfolio tomorrow’… or will they be?
We live in a time where we submit that crashing our currency is going to end well. We live in a time where we calculate the health of the economy using the price of a stock market. We live in a time of US Equity centric bull market dreamers….
It’s time to start living for our clients, as if the returns associated with a Burning Buck of the last 6 months can die today.
It is said that James Dean’s last words were, "That guy's gotta stop… He’ll see us…”
Mr. Macro Market doesn’t need to see any of us, and he crashes versus expectations, both ways…

Best of luck out there today,


EWG – iShares Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel won reelection with her pro-business coalition partners the Free Democrats. We expect to see continued leadership from her team with a focus on economic growth, including tax cuts. We believe that Germany’s powerful manufacturing capacity remains a primary structural advantage; with fundamentals improving in a low CPI/interest rate environment, we expect slow but steady economic improvement from Europe’s largest economy.

CAF – Morgan Stanley China Fund
A closed-end fund providing exposure to the Shanghai A share market, we use CAF tactically to ride the more volatile domestic equity market instead of the shares listed in Hong Kong. To date the Chinese have shown leadership and a proactive response to the global recession, and now their number one priority is to offset contracting external demand with domestic growth. Although this process will inevitably come at a steep cost, we still see this as the best catalyst for economic growth globally and are long going into the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic.

We bought back our long standing bullish position on gold on a down day on 9/14 with the threat of US centric stagflation heightening.   

XLV – SPDR Healthcare We’re finally getting the correction we’ve been calling for in Healthcare. We like defensible growth with an M&A tailwind. Our Healthcare sector head Tom Tobin remains bullish on fading the “public plan” at a price.

CYB – WisdomTree Dreyfus Chinese Yuan The Yuan is a managed floating currency that trades inside a 0.5% band around the official PBOC mark versus a FX basket. Not quite pegged, not truly floating; the speculative interest in the Yuan/USD forward market has increased dramatically in recent years. We trade the ETN CYB to take exposure to this managed currency in a managed economy hoping to manage our risk as the stimulus led recovery in China dominates global trade.

TIP – iShares TIPS The iShares etf, TIP, which is 90% invested in the inflation protected sector of the US Treasury Market currently offers a compelling yield. We believe that future inflation expectations are currently mispriced and that TIPS are a efficient way to own yield on an inflation protected basis, especially in the context of our re-flation thesis.

USO – US OIL Fund We shorted oil on 9/30. The three Fed Heads just put rate hike rhetoric right on the table. If the Buck stops Burning, Reflation stops working.

XLP – SPDR Consumer Staples Looking for low-beta short exposure to US Consumer spending. Consumer Staples short interest is low, and the stocks are over-owned.  

LQD – iShares Corporate Bonds Corporate bonds have had a huge move off their 2008 lows and we expect with the eventual rising of interest rates that bonds will give some of that move back. Shorting ahead of Q4 cost of capital heightening as access to capital tightens.

DIA  – Diamonds Trust In the US, we want to be long the Nasdaq (liquidity) and short the Dow (financial leverage).

EWJ – iShares Japan While a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party of Japan has ended over 50 years of rule by the LDP bringing some hope to voters; the new leadership  appears, if anything, to have a less developed recovery plan than their predecessors. We view Japan as something of a Ponzi Economy -with a population maintaining very high savings rate whose nest eggs allow the government to borrow at ultra low interest levels in order to execute stimulus programs designed to encourage people to save less. This cycle of internal public debt accumulation (now hovering at close to 200% of GDP) is anchored to a vicious demographic curve that leaves the Japanese economy in the long-term position of a man treading water with a bowling ball in his hands.

SHY – iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bonds
 If you pull up a three year chart of 2-Year Treasuries you'll see the massive macro Trend of interest rates starting to move in the opposite direction. We call this chart the "Queen Mary" and its new-found positive slope means that America's cost of capital will start to go up, implying that access to capital will tighten. Yields are going to continue to make higher-highs and higher lows until consensus gets realistic.