New Discoveries

“Our interdisciplinary approach sets us apart and gives us a chance to lead new discovery.”

-Leon Cooper

 

While he won’t lead you to where the latest Air Asia flight went this morning, 84 year old Nobel Prize winning physics professor Leon Cooper has had his fair share of discovery in his lifetime. From synaptic plasticity to superconductivity, being first (and right) is how you get that done.

 

This weekend I learned about Cooper’s interdisciplinary research while reading about one of my favorite topics (#monkeys) in a book called The Medici Effect, by Frans Johansson: “Tiny implanted electrodes read signals from the monkey’s brain cells… data from the brain could now be translated into what the monkey was thinking… turning thoughts into action in real time.” (pg 12)

 

Now if only Cooper’s team at Brown University could send us a real-time feed on what 50,000 fund managers were thinking during 5-10% corrections in stocks (in December) that are followed by sharp v-bottoms and epic no-volume ramps to new highs… oh, while commodities and global bond yields crash…

 

New Discoveries - m5

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Thankfully, I learned a long time ago that making a living trying to call what SPYs are going to do next is no way to live. That’s why I built our Global Macro Risk Management #Process to be both multi-factor and multi-duration, across asset classes.

 

If you do macro the way we do, you don’t have to be one-dimensional. You don’t have to have as many blind spots as I used to have either. From a research perspective, there’s always a new discovery to be made on both the bullish and bearish sides of markets.

 

In our research process, new discoveries are driven by what many probability theorists would call Bayesian Inference. That basically means that what we learned yesterday might change what we think about today.

 

Discoveries don’t always have to be progressive or regressive – sometimes they should just stop you from doing anything at all. While you may think you know your “companies” better than anyone on earth (and I genuinely hope you do), it’s next to impossible to have that kind of conviction on global macro risks.

 

If you had to pick one major new discovery (if you’re long Energy stocks, Emerging Markets, Junk Bonds, etc., it’s probably in your “diversified portfolio”!) in global macro risk that you should have proactively prepared for in the last 3-6 months, would it be?

 

A)     Global #GrowthSlowing

B)      Global #Deflation

 

Since the dogmatic +3-4% US growth forever bulls are still staring at non-year-over-year GDP growth data for Q3 (newsflash: it’s the end of Q4, and Q314 was +2.7% y/y, not +5.0), and inflation expectations continue to get hammered, I’ll take B).

 

While the causal factor for #deflation may be global #GrowthSlowing (think demand), for the last 3 days of the compensation calendar, who actually gets paid to care? What most of you really care about is the score, and here’s how that risk looked last week:

 

  1. US Dollar up another +0.5% week-over-week with Burning Euros and Yens down around the same
  2. CRB Commodities Index (19 commodities) down another -2.3% last week to -16.2% YTD
  3. Oil (WTI) continued its #crash -4.2% week-over-week to -40.1% YTD
  4. Copper down another -2.4% last week to -16.0% YTD
  5. US 5yr Breakeven Rate hit fresh YTD lows of 1.19% last week (-65 bps, or -35% YTD)

 

For those of you who don’t know that breakevens are a leading indicator for the rate of change in inflation expectations, now you know. For all of you who know that falling bond yields and flattening yield curves are leading indicators for #GrowthSlowing, well, you still know that… but need to ignore it on low-volume SPY ramps into your year-end!

 

In the last 6 months, what we (and physicists like Cooper) call a phase transition (from bullish to bearish) in #deflation has been much more pronounced than the macro market acknowledging it as a #deflation risk in the 1st 2 weeks of December. To put that in time/price context, check out these 6 month moves:

 

  1. Japanese Yen -15.5% vs. USD (yes, that was on Japanese #GrowthSlowing to the point where they needed more QE)
  2. Euro -10.5% vs USD (as the Draghi devalued in response to #GrowthSlowing)
  3. CRB Commodities Index #crashed -24.8% in the last 6 months
  4. Oil (WTI) #crashed -45.7% in the last 6 months
  5. Natural Gas #crashed -34.3% in the last 6 months

 

And 5yr breakevens were actually down a lot more in the last 6 months (-90bps, or -43%) than they’ve been for the YTD (remember when late-cycle inflation accelerated in the first half of 2014 and the perma growth bulls just called that bullish for consumers too?).

 

While the growth bulls finding a new narrative at all rates of change in prices doesn’t surprise me, what will definitely surprise me when the macro market’s volume comes back next week is if #deflation isn’t a marked to market risk for high yield debt.

 

On the bullish side, with the macro market marking up everything US consumer assets (Consumer Discretionary, XLY +1.9% last week vs Energy, XLE -0.6%) on the “down gas prices” theme, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Russell (domestic pure play) continued to outperform Emerging Equity Markets linked to #deflation either. With new discoveries come new positions in the new year.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.05-2.31%

SPX 1

RUT 1131-1235

YEN 119.20-121.97

Oil (WTI) 54.01-57.43

Copper 2.80-2.88

 

Best of luck out there this week,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

New Discoveries - 12.29.14 chart


Another French Revolution?

"Don't be complacent," writes Hedgeye Managing Director Neil Howe. "Tectonic shifts are underway in France. Is there the prospect of the new Sixth Republic? C'est vraiment possible."

read more

Cartoon of the Day: The Trend is Your Friend

"All of the key trending macro data suggests the U.S. economy is accelerating," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough says.

read more

A Sneak Peek At Hedgeye's 2017 GDP Estimates

Here's an inside look at our GDP estimates versus Wall Street consensus.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Green Thumb

So far, 64 of 498 companies in the S&P 500 have reported aggregate sales and earnings growth of 6.1% and 16.8% respectively.

read more

Europe's Battles Against Apple, Google, Innovation & Jobs

"“I am very concerned the E.U. maintains a battle against the American giants while doing everything possible to sustain so-called national champions," writes economist Daniel Lacalle. "Attacking innovation doesn’t create jobs.”

read more

An Open Letter to Pandora Management...

"Please stop leaking information to the press," writes Hedgeye Internet & Media analyst Hesham Shaaban. "You are getting in your own way, and blowing up your shareholders in the process."

read more

A 'Toxic Cocktail' Brewing for A Best Idea Short

The first quarter earnings pre-announcement today is not the end of the story for Mednax (MD). Rising labor costs and slowing volume is a toxic cocktail...

read more

Energy Stocks: Time to Buy? Here's What You Need to Know

If you're heavily-invested in Energy stocks it's been a heck of a year. Energy is the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 year-to-date and value investors are now hunting for bargains in the oil patch. Before you buy, here's what you need to know.

read more

McCullough: ‘My 1-Minute Summary of My Institutional Meetings in NYC Yesterday’

What are even some of the smartest investors in the world missing right now?

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Political Portfolio Positioning

Leave your politics out of your portfolio.

read more

Jim Rickards Answers the Hedgeye 21

Bestselling author Jim Rickards says if he could be any animal he’d be a T-Rex. He also loves bonds and hates equities. Check out all of his answers to the Hedgeye 21.

read more

Amazon's New 'Big Idea': Ignore It At Your Own Peril

"We all see another ‘big idea’ out of Amazon (or the press making one up) just about every day," writes Retail Sector Head Brian McGough. "But whatever you do, DON’T ignore this one!"

read more