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Messy Process

“It’s a messy process that involves doing a few things at once.”

-Patrick Lencioni


That was a solid leadership quote from a popular book I’m flipping through called The Advantage – “Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything In Business.”


Cheesy? Yes. Hence the flipping! But with the summer of 2015 coming to an end, I’m clearing my book shelf for what should be a scintillating September. Infrequently in my career have both complacency and short interest been so high.


Complacency: yesterday’s Total US Equity Market Volume (including dark pool) continued to crash (-26% vs. its 1yr average). Short Interest? I’ll get into how I look at that in the grind.

Messy Process - Volume cartoon 08.12.2014


Back to the Global Macro Grind


But first, since I’m getting back into the swing of things this morning, allow me to review a few critical #process points that make my risk management conclusions less messy:


  1. VOLUME – when price is rising on A) decelerating volume and B) rising volatility, that’s bearish
  2. OPTIONS – one key way we measure “short interest” is via non-commercial futures and options contracts


It’s taken me almost 17 years to refine the price/volume/volatility signal – and while I continue to refine it (and will until I retire), I feel as good as I’ve ever felt about our ability to #FadeBeta.


“Fading beta” means (sometimes) taking the opposite side of a market’s daily direction. This typically happens (in Real-Time Alerts) when PRICE is hitting either the low or high end of my immediate-term TRADE risk range.


You can also “fade options” activity by measuring the z-score of Global Macro positions. What I mean by that is buying/covering a market when A) PRICE = low-end of the range and B) the net SHORT position = high end of its range.


If you did that in US Equities (at last week’s lows), well done. Here’s how the net SHORT positions piled up:


  1. SP500 (index + Emini) net SHORT position was -146,132 contracts (that’s a 1yr z-score of -1.79x)
  2. Russell 2000 net SHORT position was -38,214 contracts (that’s a 1yr z-score of -0.47x)


In other words, after growth, inflation, revenue/earnings, etc. data slowed (at an accelerating rate both locally and globally) in July, US stocks corrected, and Consensus Macro players got shorter, lower, instead of getting longer.


Then, the no-volume (squeeze) bounce. And voila!


Inclusive of the Russell 2000 bouncing +1.6% off that 1205 AUG low last week (it was -7% from its YTD high prior to the bounce), last week’s US stock market bounce featured Style Factors that had been leading the market lower for a month:


  1. LEVERAGE – High Debt/Enterprise Value Stocks were +1.2% after being -3.6% in the month prior
  2. BETA – High Beta Stocks (another style factor) were +1.0% after being -5.6% in the month prior


And you saw some no-volume follow through on the same yesterday as well with High Beta Biotech (IBB) Stocks leading the day at +2.1% as the Russell 2000 added 1.0% to that bounce from 1205 to 1225.


But what’s next?


Well, if high-debt-leverage to commodity #Deflation and high-beta levered to too-high-growth-expectations got Consensus Macro run over after chasing their May-June 2015 highs, I think we have to ask ourselves what’s changed this morning?


In perpetually monitoring that, the Top 3 Things in my notebook this morning are as follows:


  1. CHINA – after telling the world “volatility in the Chinese stock market is over”, central planners got tagged with a -6.2% drop in the Shanghai Comp overnight – while mainstream isn’t on this, the rest of Asia is slowing, faster, too – in the last month: Taiwan -9.6%, Singapore -8.8%, Thailand -8.3%, Indonesia -7.0%, South Korea -5.8%
  2. #DEFLATION – “reflation” (and high beta, high leverage, style factors) helped stocks bounce off last Wednesday’s lows, but are right back in the soup this morning with both WTI (Oil) and Copper making fresh 3-month lows
  3. UST 10YR – yield of 2.14% this morning does the round trip (from June) – so what Mr. Macro Market is telling you is that even if the Fed does hike into a Q3 slowdown, probability is rising that growth and inflation slows faster in Q4!


Yes, my #process involves doing more than a few things at once. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of mistakes to get it to where it is now. No, it’s not perfect. But it sure beats the messy macro “process” of chasing charts (i.e. last price).


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.10-2.20%

SPX 2071-2109
RUT 1198-1231
Oil (WTI) 41.04-43.58
Copper 2.28-2.38


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Messy Process - z darius Chart of the Day

The Macro Show Replay | August 18, 2015


August 18, 2015

August 18, 2015 - Slide1

real-time alerts

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This indispensable trading tool is based on a risk management signaling process Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough developed during his years as a hedge fund manager and continues to refine. Nearly every trading day, you’ll receive Keith’s latest signals - buy, sell, short or cover.

Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month?

We continue to be of the view the Fed’s decision to set the stage for monetary tightening throughout 2015 seems incredibly politicized (i.e. raising rates for the sake of raising rates), rather than "data dependent". The preponderance of the data remains unsupportive, at best, calling into question the Fed’s increasingly likely desire to acquiesce to consensus expectations with a rate hike in September [insert “circular reference warning” here].


Click chart to enlarge.


Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month? - z1


Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month? - z2


Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month? - z3


Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month? - z4U.S. Economic Summary Table


In the face of these confounding dynamics, we will take this opportunity to reiterate our bearish bias on all things reflation (commodities, energy stocks, materials stocks and emerging market capital and currency markets in particular), as well as our bullish bias on Treasury bonds, utility stocks and REITs as yields continue to fall amid declining inflation expectations.


Is a Grave Policy Error Coming Next Month? - z5

MCD | Create Your Taste Experience

McDonald’s (MCD) is on the Hedgeye Restaurants Best Ideas list as a LONG.


Over the weekend we tried out the Create Your Taste experience at the newly remodeled McDonald’s location in Midtown East on the corner of 58th street and 3rd Ave. Walking into the newly remodeled MCD we were greeted by the brand new self-order kiosks with attentive staff there to assist you. Customers were very interested in using the kiosks, and everyone using them seemed to be having an easy time with it.


MCD | Create Your Taste Experience - Create your taste


The whole process from creating your own burger to getting your food was simple and seamless. The self-order kiosk is easy to follow, you can order from the entire menu and pay from the kiosk. We decided to build a custom burger, in which you scroll through different screens selecting from a wide variety of cheeses and toppings. I must note however that they were out of a select number of topping items, as they are working out the kinks since just starting the Create Your Taste two weeks ago. After paying you take an electronic GPS enabled disk to your table so that the server can locate you within the restaurant. The ordering process was a pleasant experience and I would say will lead to increased checks as it is very simple to just click on additions rather than staring at the big board at the main register. As you can see from our receipt above, the total came to $10.88 definitely not the average check that a MCD customer is used to.


As we ordered we sprung up a conversation with a couple of staff members to get a read on how the staff likes the new system. The two people we talked to had overwhelming positive reviews of how the kiosks increase efficiency in the restaurant, specifically the kitchen, and allow for orders to be entered quicker. When asked specifically about the Create Your Taste, they said they love the concept and haven’t experience any major difficulties with it.


It was time to head to our table, we found a comfortable spot upstairs kind of in the corner to test out the GPS location ability on the disk we picked up at the kiosk. The server found us with no problem, total time from payment to food on the table was about 9 minutes, which is right in the middle of their 8-10 minute range. Although they didn’t fill up our drink as they said they would, everything else was presented very well. The food was still warm and everything tasted good.


For it being only two weeks into the process we were very impressed by the efficiency and mastery the staff is already displaying. We plan to head back to the same McDonalds location in the next month and check on their progress.


Please call or e-mail with any questions.


Howard Penney

Managing Director


Shayne Laidlaw




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