This note was originally published at 8am on March 16, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“Moving things around is hard – really hard.”
In an excellent book that I just cracked open, The Accidental Superpower, Peter Zeihan wasn’t talking about Global Macro markets – he was referring to moving real stuff. And our centrally-muppeteered markets are getting less real, by the day.
Moving macro markets around is easy – really easy. And those with un-elected-central-planning-powers know that. So prepare for more, not less, of this. As their economy continues to slow, the Chinese were the latest to issue the almighty “stimulus” word to markets this weekend. The Shanghai Composite closed up +2.3% overnight on that to +6.6% YTD.
With the US stock market down -0.3% YTD, all Janet has to do at the Fed’s gravity-smoothing meeting this week is say that she is going to keep the word “patient” and she can fix those lousy relative and absolute US stock market returns. I mean, seriously, Yellen – Lithuania’s stock market is +65% YTD with Draghi burning the Euro – get with the market moving program!
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Do we have $100 on the US Dollar Index? Indeed, we do, fellow green-card holding Americans! With the US Dollar Index up another +2.8% last week, those of us paid in US Dollars have seen the purchasing power of our hard-earned currency rise +19.1% in the last 6 months.
Oh, dearest Janet, you must stop those of us who have large cash positions in America from getting paid…
Most people who are in the business of telling me that my being in some cash isn’t cool don’t look as cool as our YTD return in US Cash does. At +11.1% YTD and the US stock market down for 3 straight weeks, US Cash is king!
For those same people who didn’t know that a rip-roaring ramp in the US Dollar was going to crash both Foreign Currency and Commodity markets, worldwide – now they know. Here’s what that “stuff” has done in the last 6 months:
- Euros have crashed, losing -19% of their value for the European people who earned them
- Japanese Yens and Canadian Loonies have been devalued by -11.6% and -13.2%, respectively
- Brazilian Reals have crashed -28%
- Russian Rubles have collapsed by -39%
- Commodities (CRB Index, 19 commodities) have also crashed, -25.3% in 6 months
- Oil (WTI) has been bludgeoned, losing -50.3% of its “value”, over the same time period
In other non-stock-market news (i.e. economic data), Switzerland reported accelerated #Deflation of -3.6% year-over-year in producer prices this morning. No, that’s not good for the dude who is selling in whatever that is which is hard to move and produce…
And that currency-adjusted risk management thought has to be what is on the mind of many investors who have foreign currency risk to both revenues and earnings these days. That’s probably why the 15-day inverse correlations to USD currently look like this:
- SP500 -0.94
- CRB Index -0.75
- Gold -0.94
That, “folks”, is called #deflation - when the US Dollar goes parabolic as both US and global bond yields fall. Last week, the US 10yr Yield dropped -13 basis points to 2.11% taking it to down -6 basis points for the YTD.
Sovereign Bond Yields down was good for what really works during what we call #Quad4 Deflation:
- US Healthcare Stocks (XLV) up another +0.6% last week to +5.0% YTD
- REITS (MSCI Index) +2.4% last week to +1.1% YTD
And not so good for what doesn’t work during #Quad4 Deflation:
- Energy Stocks (XLE) down another -2.8% last week to -5.7% YTD
- Emerging Market Stocks (MSCI Index) -3.3% last week to -1.8% YTD
The sneaky thing is that as the world’s economy remains in #Quad4 (both growth and inflation, slowing, at the same time), the USA is in #Quad1 for another month (real consumption growth accelerating on real FX adjusted purchasing power, as inflation slows).
That’s the main reason why I’ve liked the Russell 2000 over the SP500 so far in 2015. It’s a purer play on the domestic economy, so it didn’t surprise me whatsoever that the Russell (IWM) was +1.2% last week to +2.3% YTD in a down tape for the Dow and SP500.
Moving asset allocations around isn’t easy. But if you get both the US Dollar and rates right, it gets less hard.
Our immediate-term Global Macro risk ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 2.01-2.22%
Oil (WTI) 43.26-49.03
Best of luck out there this week,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer