After consensus was calling for a “rate hike”, the latest bull case for U.S. stocks is that the Fed doesn’t hike – got it? Roger that. After New homes, Durable Goods, and Consumer Confidence all slowing this week, UST 10YR Yield = 2.03%.
Oil was slammed by ECB President Mario Draghi’s Devaluation, closing down another -1.8% yesterday (WTI), taking it to -5.2% in the last week alone. Oil is still very much in crash/deflation mode down -47% year-over-year; carnage in Oil & Gas stocks (XOP) -2.9% yesterday too.
Apple is slowing in China, but Chinese GDP is 6.9% right? Right. The Shanghai Composite failed (like most things EM have in the last week) @Hedgeye TREND resistance and closed -1.7% overnight (#Deflation = bear market in EM).
***Keith McCullough will host a LIVE + INTERACTIVE online event today at 2:10pm ET offering immediate market reaction and commentary to the Fed. CLICK HERE to watch.
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What week it was for MCD shareholders! Shares finished the week up 7.3%. We have been saying all along that the third quarter of 2015 would be the inflection point for the McDonald’s (MCD) turnaround. After this print, it appears that the heartache is finally over at McDonald’s, as this quarter marks the first good quarter the company has had in two years.
From here, the upside in the stock price lies with the growth of All Day Breakfast, additional G&A cuts, national value offering implementation, reimaging of restaurants, commodity deflation, especially in beef and increased operational efficiencies, among others. In addition, the REIT is a potential driver of incremental value but not crucial to the long-term success of this call. With Steve Easterbrook at the helm we are confident this company will be better managed than it has been in a long time.
RH unveiled a full floor of Modern product in their New York Flatiron store this week. The new concept sits on the first floor of the 21k sq. ft. store and marks the 3rd property in RH’s fleet (along with Denver and Atlanta) to carry the new product line.
Fundamentally and financially, we’re about to see growth at RH go on a multi-year tear. We think this stock is headed to $300 over the next 2-3 years. We’ve been patient for the catalyst calendar to begin, and the waiting is finally over.
As devaluation and global currency war jockeying from central bankers around the world continues, the acknowledgement of growth slowing continues to push yields lower. The long-bond was up on Thursday, after the ECB meeting, despite an easing-fueled rip in equities. The bond market doesn’t believe in the growth storytelling and we expect it to continue.
Remember that Down Euro Devaluation is a global TIGHTENING event because the world’s biggest asset price #deflation risk is that the world’s inflation expectations (commodities, debt, etc.) are DENOMINATED IN DOLLARS. That has implications for gold (risk to being long), but we want to get through the Fed meeting and GDP data next week before we pivot on a gold view. Stay tuned.
SPECIAL EDITION: McCullough Answers 4 Macro Questions From Elmo https://app.hedgeye.com/insights/47160-special-edition-mccullough-answers-4-macro-questions-from-elmo… via @KeithMcCullough
Everyone has a fair turn to be as great as he pleases.
The Durable Goods headline number for September was down -1.2% and the August figure was revised from -2% to -3%. Notably, down -3.0% year-over-year with year-over-year growth negative for the 8th consecutive month and in 10 of the last 11 months.
In case you missed it... Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough and macro analyst Darius Dale hosted a LIVE + INTERACTIVE online event offering market commentary following the latest FOMC statement. McCullough also distilled the biggest global economic risks and explained how to position your portfolio going forward.
Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough handpicks the “best of the best” long and short ideas delivered to him by our team of over 30 research analysts across myriad sectors.
From NYC/CT to California to Chicago, Keith and I have been on the road facilitating discussions with clients and prospective clients for much of the ~3 weeks since our Q4 Macro Themes Call. As always, the discussions were candid and brimming with thoughtful analysis on both sides of the bull-bear debate. In terms of aggregating sentiment, I find that gauging buyside consensus is substantially easier now than it has been at any point over the past few years:
Hopefully this synopsis is helpful, but to the extent you view these summaries as known-knowns, you may find additional value in our responses to what our team viewed as the key points of contention to our existing views:
See below for our detailed responses to each question. As always, feel free to reach out with any follow-up questions.
Best of luck out there,
Q: Great call nailing the domestic and global growth slowdown, but with the S&P 500 now down only a few percent from its all-time high, was everything you called for priced in at the August lows?
A: Fair question, but we continue to think we are in the early innings of a series of lower-highs for the U.S. equity market.
Moreover, it’s a mischaracterization to cite the S&P 500’s minimal draw-down as indicative of the pain being felt by the preponderance of investors. For example, the HFRX Equity Hedge Fund Index is down nearly -6% from its YTD high in April. Moreover, 62% of stocks in the Russell 3000 Index (~98% of investable public equity market cap) are below their 200-day moving average (CHART). Worse, the mean and median YTD-peak-to-present drawdown of these 3,015 tickers is -25.2% and -20.2%, respectively (CHART). Recall that we initially warned of the dour implications of declining breadth in our 7/20 note titled, “Dangerous New Highs for the Market?”.
All told, we think it’s risky for investors to assume the coast is clear as a result of navel-gazing at the S&P 500, DOW or NASDAQ when the preponderance of single names are resoundingly signaling incremental deterioration of both top-down and bottom-up fundamentals.
Like Rome, this bear [market] wasn’t built in a [trading] day…
Q: Why won’t bad news continue to be good news for risk assets?
A: Given the pervasive level of bearishness I mentioned at the onset of this note (largely perpetuated by the terrible SEP Jobs Report), “risk assets” are once again trading inversely to policy rate expectations after a lengthy hiatus (CHART). Investors are clearly betting that their returns will be spared by a continuation of dovish policy and/or guidance out of the Federal Reserve.
But is the “don’t-fight-the-Fed” mantra an appropriate risk management overlay in every scenario? Historically speaking, the Fed has proven to be impotent at arresting #Quad4 deflationary pressures and/or the general credit risk associated with slowing economic growth (CHART, CHART). Moreover, the ECB and BoJ’s entry into the global currency war has made it much harder for the Fed to sustain #DownDollar asset price reflation (CHART, CHART). Lastly, the Fed has yet to prove it can suspend gravity during an actual economic downturn (CHART, CHART).
Importantly, our work continues to point to a rising, not falling, probability of the aforementioned bearish catalysts materializing:
All told, we think the economic cycle ultimately wins out. While betting on QE to carry “risk assets” to new highs has proven to be a profoundly profitable exercise for investors during an economic expansion, we don’t recommend holding the bag when the growth music stops during what are now precariously illiquid securities markets (CHART). Most investors failed to forsee the 2000 and 2007 market tops and we expect most investors will continue to miss their opportunity to risk manage the 2015 vintage.
Tops are processes, not points. It’s never obvious to the crowd until it’s far too late…
Q: In the U.S. household balance sheets are healthy, house prices are accelerating and gas prices are falling. Why won’t the U.S. economy and the domestic equity market weather the storm of international growth and earnings headwinds – much like they did in 1998?
A: First and foremost, we would be remiss to do anything other than concede the aforementioned premises:
That said, however, the U.S. economy had something working for it in 1998 that is now decidedly a headwind to consumption growth surmounting a demonstrable acceleration to cycle-peak base effects in the four quarters ending in 2Q16 (CHART) – demographics.
Specifically, U.S. consumption growth (and ultimately the U.S. economy) was able to remain resilient in 1998 largely due to rising demand from baby boomers “graduating” up the life-cycle consumption and income curves (CHART, CHART). Now the U.S. consumer at large is decidedly scaling down the backside of that curve with no reprieve from the millennial generation until 2019.
Perpetual 2.0-3.5% population growth in the 35-54 year-old cohort during the 1980s and 1990s might just be the greatest demographic dividend ever experienced in the western hemisphere. From the longest of long-term perspectives, “comping” that “comp” might just be the most damning component to Consensus Macro’s perpetual expectations of 3-4% U.S. GDP growth.
Now with employment growth slowing on a trending basis (CHART), investors have no choice but to wonder how where incremental [sub-prime] auto loan demand is going to come from. The risk to investors is that many failed to realize just how good the current cycle has been amid perpetually misguided expectations of a return to prior peaks.
All told, real household consumption growth has already negatively inflected (CHART) from its cycle-peak growth rate and growth in the [much-larger] services side of the U.S. economy appears likely to follow the manufacturing and export sectors lower in the coming months (CHART, CHART, CHART, CHART, CHART, CHART).
Lastly, let us not forget the inconvenient truth this is the S&P 500 experiencing a near -20% crash during 1998 (CHART). The SPY would have to drop roughly -17% from today’s closing price for the “it’s 1998, not 2000 or 2007” bullish narrative to get fully priced in…
Q: When citing your economic cycle timing indicators, how do you know that current signals aren’t false positives, rather than soundly in support of your view that the probability of a U.S. recession commencing by mid-2016 is high and rising?
A: We don’t. The entire point of investing would appear to be betting on what one’s analysis labels as a probable outcome becoming increasingly probable and ultimately getting priced into the market by other investors who subsequently arrive at a similar conclusion(s). It would seem silly for a bottom-up analyst to do a ton of work on a name only to take the other side of his/her own analysis. Macro investing isn’t any different…
This we do know:
The confluence of the factors listed above support maintaining our current defensive posture with respect to our active Macro Themes and preferred factor exposures on the long and short side. When the fundamental, quantitative and behavioral inputs are no longer supportive, we will adjust accordingly.
***An asterisk denotes current Macro Playbook exposure. Long Housing (ITB), Short S&P 500 (SPY) and Short Spain (EWP) round out the list.***
All told, we aren’t raging bears. We aren’t calling for Lehman-style a collapse in asset markets. We are simply calling for a run-of-the-mill #LateCycle Slowdown in which inflation and capital expenditures peak and roll first, followed by employment growth and ultimately by consumer spending.
Takeaway: The economic data continues to disappoint and signal recession ahead.
On The Macro Show this morning, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough and Macro analyst Darius Dale discussed why we're likely headed for a recession. Here's McCullough on the sequence of events typical of most economic cycles:
"This is what happens when the Deflation Dominos start to fall. First inflation falls off, then capex, industrials and cyclicals, then the consumer and, at the end of that, employment."
Look no further than September's soggy durable goods orders report released this morning. While the media focused on the dismal month-over-month decline of 1.2%, after being down 3% in August, McCullough honed in on the year-over-year data which "went recessionary in February."
Other indicators are similarly flashing red...
Like today's Consumer Confidence reading... it came in at 97.6 for October versus September's 102.6. According to Dale, consumer confidence may have reached an inflection point that has preceded a recession in the last three economic cycles.
Next up, new home sales... they were off 11.5% from the previous month, August, which was also downwardly revised.
And then there's Industrial Production... which also appears to have peaked.
(Anecdotal evidence of this industrial recession continues to roll-in as companies report earnings. Shares of engine manufacturer Cummins are down 9% today after lowering its full-year revenue and earnings guidance. In a statement, the company noted "weak demand" and a "slowdown in global markets.")
So what does all this mean for investors? Only those who have been patient on #Deflation and #GrowthSlowing have been winning in 2015. In other words, we will stick with "the most bullish call on Wall Street." Long TLT.
Slow and steady wins the race.