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This note was originally published at 8am on February 10, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Every moment in business only happens once.”

-Peter Thiel

I started reading Peter Thiel’s Zero To One on the treadmill yesterday. That’s the opening sentence of one of the better intros I’ve read in a while on independent thinking:

“… it’s easier to copy a model than to make something new. Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1.”

If I didn’t passionately believe in creating something new here @Hedgeye, I’d have just gone back to doing what I did before. While a lot of people have asked me about that over the years, a lot less have asked lately. That means building this only happens once.

Zero To Something - zero to one

Back to the Global Macro Grind

Whether it’s the birth of your children or an entrepreneurial business strategy that is unique to you and those around you, this is why you get up in the morning – to find special moments in your life that only happen when preparation meets opportunity.

This is one of the core problems I have with being centrally planned. There is no creativity or progression in that. To think that some room full of bureaucrats can smooth non-linear economic realities like growth and inflation is downright regressive.

But no matter how creatively destructive we are in building our businesses, we have to deal with these people, for now. What happens when the Fed goes from 0% to n? And what are the unintended consequences associated with moving preemptively?

Post a rainbows and puppy dogs jobs report, both US stocks and bonds have been down for 2 days… Why?

  1. Interest rates shot straight up from 1.64% on the UST 10yr to 1.99% this morning
  2. Rate sensitive (aka #YieldChasing) sectors of the SP500 went straight down on that

I’m not sure what got rates to go up more:

A)     The short-term alleviation of fear that the US jobs picture has hit its cycle-peak

B)      Legitimate fear that the Fed raises rates during global #GrowthSlowing + #Deflation

As I’ve said many times, what the Fed SHOULD do with a CPI trending towards (and below) 1% and COULD do are two very different things. Can you imagine they signal a rate hike into jobs reports that get as bad as the last 6 were good?

It isn’t just #deflation that the Fed should be concerned about – it’s their broken forecasting model. Janet Yellen is using a carbon copy of what Ben Bernanke used. In forecasting growth, they overweight the most lagging of late-cycle economic indicators.

For those of you that don’t know that Non-Farm Payrolls (Employment) are the latest of late-cycle, please see today’s Chart of The Day where Christian Drake reminds you of when the cycle of payrolls peak à AFTER the cycle is already slowing!

Back to the Global #deflation risk that blew up plenty of portfolios between late-September 2014 and January 2015’s lows:

  1. China just printed a PPI (producer price index) of -4.3% year-over-year for JAN (vs. -3.3% FEB)
  2. Norway reported, get this, -12.4% year-over-year #Deflation in their JAN PPI
  3. Switzerland reported a new low in CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) of -0.5% year-over-year in JAN

Sure, Oil (WTI) was +2.1% yesterday and is +9.5% for the month of February alone – but that’s just a counter-TREND move within a nasty deflationary risk. My immediate-term risk range can get you $43 oil as fast as this bounce can stop at $54-55/barrel.

Then what?

  1. The USA is going to report decelerating CPI and PPI reports next week (JAN reports)
  2. And there’s plenty of risk that the February employment report isn’t what January’s was

Then what?

Ahead of the March 18th Fed meeting, we could very well be sitting here in early March as concerned about Global #Deflation risk as we were at the beginning of January!

Is it easier for the Fed to keep using the same model that has rendered its growth and inflation forecasts inaccurate almost 70% of the time since 2007 than to create a new one?

That’s a rhetorical question. Sadly, they’re going to go from zero to something – and there will be loads of cross asset class volatility associated with their own flip-flopping internally about timing that.

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

UST 10yr Yield 1.62-1.99%

SPX 1987-2075
VIX 16.06-21.44
USD 93.47-95.35

Oil (WTI) 43.07-54.88
Copper 2.42-2.62

Best of luck out there today,


Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

Zero To Something - Labor cycle table CoD