Touchdown Deflation

This note was originally published at 8am on March 09, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“When Gronk scores, he spikes the ball and deflates the ball.”

-Tom Brady

 

That’s what Brady said about his tight-end, Ron Gronkowski, in a now infamous interview from 2011. He went on to explain that he loves that “because I like the deflated ball, but I feel bad for that football.”

 

That’s an appropriate metaphor for how the masters of the central planning universe must have felt after Friday’s strong US jobs report. Touchdown! Bloomberg/CNBC celebrated - and markets got smoked. I feel bad for anyone who was long anything.

 

It wasn’t just the US stock market that deflated. It was the FX market, Commodities market, and Bond Market. Oh, and Emerging markets got crushed too. An inverse-correlation spiking of the US Dollar it was, indeed.

Touchdown Deflation - Fed cartoon 01.28.2015

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Get the US Dollar right, you tend to get a lot of other things right. While I definitely didn’t get the long-end of the US Treasury bond market right last week, our #StrongDollar Global #Deflation Theme remains firmly intact.

 

With the US Dollar Index up another +2.5% on the week to +8.3% YTD, here’s what else happened across Global Macro:

 

  1. Burning Euros were devalued by another -3.1% to -10.4% YTD
  2. Canadian Loonies lost another -0.9% of their value to -7.9% YTD
  3. Commodities (CRB Index) deflated another -1.8% to -4.3% YTD
  4. Oil slid another -0.3% (WTI) to -8.6% YTD
  5. Gold got crushed -4.0% to now down for 2015 at -1.7% YTD
  6. Copper resumed its #deflation, -3.1% to -7.6% YTD
  7. Wheat #deflation of another -5.9% puts it at -18.8% YTD
  8. Oranje Juice got sacked for another -4.3% at -17.7% YTD

 

Wheat and OJ? Really? Yes, some of us Gen-X guys pound both for breakfast (every morning) and quite like the Gronk action in those prices. It’s kind of like a tax-cut (even though most companies aren’t get cutting those end market prices)!

 

And in terms of what most people care on (unless their asset allocator has Gold, Commodities, FX, etc. in their pie chart portfolio), which are stocks and bonds, the week-over-week wasn’t pretty either:

 

  1. Latin American Equities led losers, -7.2% on the week to -9.7% YTD
  2. Chinese stocks dropped -2.1% week-over-week to +0.2% YTD
  3. US stocks (SPY) were down for the 2nd straight week, -1.6% to +0.6% YTD
  4. US Energy stocks (XLE) deflated another -2.8% on the week to -3.0% YTD
  5. US REITS dropped -3.7% week-over-week to -1.2% YTD
  6. US 10yr Yield ramped +25bps on the week to close at 2.24%

 

Yep, it’s been a while since REITS (VNQ), the Long Bond (TLT), and the SP500 (SPY) were anywhere close to flat-to-down for the YTD… but no matter where you go this morning, there those returns are (the UST 10yr Yield started 2015 at 2.17%).

 

Clearly the market is a little freaked out that the Fed might make a policy mistake and go for what John, the Wild Thing, Williams in San Francisco calls “liftoff.” Forget spiking the ball, for some of these non-athlete central planners, this is as intense as it gets!

 

So now it’s game time for the Fed. At their March 18th meeting, they’ll need to either confirm or fade on the obvious market expectation of a June rate hike. But they’ll also have to outline the data “dependence” plan between now and June.

 

  1. What if the March or April jobs reports are as bad as February was good?
  2. What if February was literally as good as a late-cycle jobs report is going to get?
  3. What happens if the stock market does what it did Friday, every Friday?

 

Lots of questions. Lots of non-linear and interconnected risks. It’s not like the late-cycle recovery in the US employment data is either new or going parabolic like the US Dollar is.

 

To put the Non-Farm Payroll print in rate-of-change context, it was +2.39% year-over-year vs. +2.32% in the prior month. That was the 6th consecutive month of what we’ve called “acceleration”, but 6 months ago the rate-of-change was 2.04%. #nothingness

 

And, most importantly, as you can see in the Chart of The Day, the payroll numbers are the most lagging of late-cycle employment numbers there are. Most of the time they peak, AFTER the economic cycle does.

 

Sorry football fans, this makes for a macro market that I think will make for a lot of what hockey players call “read and react.” Other than risk managing levels and calendar catalysts, until the Fed clarifies, what else would you do other than stay flexible?

 

While I had some big immediate-term oversold signals in things I like right now (on Friday in Real-Time Alerts I signaled buys in IWM, XLV, and EDV – Russell, Healthcare, and Long-term strips), a hawked up Fed can #deflate my confidence in those positions, in a hurry.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 1.91-2.28%

SPX 2064-2105
RUT 1205-1234
VIX 13.81-16.21
USD 95.60-97.92
EUR/USD 1.07-1.10
Oil (WTI) 48.05-51.95
Gold 1165-1201

 

Best of luck out there this week,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Touchdown Deflation - drake1


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