This note was originally published at 8am on March 06, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words”
-Fred R. Barnard
While he later changed “one look” to “one picture”, the ad man Fred Barnard is attributed with the modern day adage, which he first used in the advertising trade journal Printers’ Ink on December 8, 1921 to promote the use of images in advertisements that appear on the sides of streetcars.
A year ago Hedgeye hired Bob Rich as our in-house cartoonist and illustrator. Formerly a staff illustrator for The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts and an editorial cartoonist for The New Haven Register, Bob has won numerous awards for his work. To say the very least, he has flourished in his role at Hedgeye. His creative and skillful ability to depict in a cartoon what we analysts spend hours trying to put into words is enviable. And through a recent desk reshuffle in the office, I also have the pleasure of sitting next to Bob, which selfishly affords me the opportunity to encourage him to do European related cartoons, my area of coverage on the macro team.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
With news of record inflows by investors into European securities; the EUR/USD at a 11 year low; and confirmation that ECB President Mario Draghi will once again do “whatever it takes” to expand the ECB’s balance sheet, to shore up risk (including Greece) and to maintain the existing Eurozone fabric, do you go all in on Europe?
Bob’s cartoons below tell it all – for us the mismatch between the Eurozone’s economic fundamentals and its financial markets still remains stark. And the rub between betting all in on Eurozone securities based on Draghi’s QE program versus the threat of blindly following him over the proverbial QE cliff, is THE risk management question.
With no crystal ball in sight, here are Hedgeye’s key Eurozone take-aways as we size up going all in on Europe:
- Our highest conviction investment signal is to stay short the EUR/USD
- Our Eurozone GIP (Growth/Inflation/Policy) predictive model shows a steady move from QUAD 1 to QUAD 4 to QUAD 3 over the next three quarters. This negative economic view should force the ECB to keep its foot on the QE funnel for longer than its original target [SEPT 2016] as growth surprises on the downside (see our Chart of the Day below), all of which should pressure the EUR/USD lower.
- We expect that Fiscal Consolidation and Structural Reforms across the region over the intermediate to longer term are unlikely to be carried out (or at the very least not within the ECB’s timeline) to promote economic productivity and job creation, further muting inflation and growth targets.
- And we expect a confluence of factors to support a strong USD, including 1). policy expectations surround when the Fed will hike rates, not IF, and 2). supportive commodity and business cycle dynamics (for more see my colleague Ben Ryan’s recent note)
- Our quantitative models show that the EUR/USD is broken across all durations (TRADE, TREND, and TAIL). We call this a bearish formation and do not see any long term TAIL support until $0.80.
- On Equities… Juiced By the Draghi QE Drugs: As risk managers we cannot turn a blind eye to the power of QE to propel equities higher, however we don’t have to be holding the proverbial bag on the way down either. We continue to recommend strong balance sheets at the country level, like Germany (etf EWG), and will tactically trade around QE’s influence on the peripheral markets . YTD we’ve already seen some monster moves across equity markets with the German DAX and Italian FTSE MIB indices each up over +17%.
- On Fixed Income… Low Yields Can Go Lower: In yesterday’s ECB press conference Draghi indicated a willingness to buy even government bonds with negative yields as low as the current deposit rate (-0.2%). This flexibility from the Bank, shows once again a commitment to “support” the Eurozone project at all costs. Further, his appetite to support the periphery specifically appears enormous. Again in his statements he suggested that so long as Greece can pass its reform review, the ECB will reinstate the waver on the conditionality that it will only buy investment grade paper. Yamas!
This coming Monday the ECB will commence its sovereign bond purchase program (€60 Billion/month of its ear-marked €1.1 Trillion package). While it’s tempting to point to the Fed’s QE impact to juice stocks higher, as risk managers we do not think it’s prudent to simply draw a 1-factor like-for-like comparison. This time may in fact be different.
As outlined, our highest conviction investment signal is to remain short the EUR/USD. That said, we’ll certainly be navigating the macro waters to trade around what influence Mr. Draghi’s QE wand has on European securities.
Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 1.89-2.18%
Oil (WTI) 48.20-52.04
Have a great weekend!