What Recession?!

Takeaway: We reiterate our #USRecession and #CreditCycle themes in the context of the latest data -- namely Q4 GDP.

Earlier today, we received the following question from a very thoughtful [and successful] investor: 


"So what are your quarterly GDP estimates for this year, and will we see a negative print and/or two quarters of negative growth?  I appreciate that it is somewhat irrelevant if we have a technical recession by definition, but you guys are making the recession call, no?"


Given it's obvious relevance and our interest in continuing to broadly own the U.S. economic debate, we thought we'd share our response with a broader audience:


"Hi Tim,


Regarding your question on when, where and how a recession will occur in our U.S. GDP model, it’s important to note that it’s impossible to model in negative GDP prints from where U.S. economic growth is tracking currently – either econometrically or quantitatively.


Our #LateCycle view that has since morphed into our #USRecession and #CreditCycle themes has always been centered on the high and, most importantly, rising probability of a recession commencing in/around mid-2016. It’s not about ascribing a round (or not-so-round) probability estimate to that [broadly undesired] outcome. It’s actually about whether investor, business and/or consumer expectations for an outright recession are rising or falling.


And much like expansions on the way up, a rising probably of recession is reflexive on the way down from the peak in economic growth. Recall that those peaks occurred in 2H14 for manufacturing and capex growth and in 1H15 for consumption and employment growth, respectively.


Modeling in a U.S. recession would be like modeling in +1% revenue growth for AAPL at this time last year – which would’ve obviously been too far out of the band of probable outcomes for even the most ardent bear. The point of our Bayesian inference modeling process is to constantly shock our GDP and CPI models with relevant Bayes factors (i.e. high-frequency economic and financial market data) in order to appropriately adjust our estimate from the reported base rate as implied by the base effects themselves, as well as per trends in high-frequency economic data.


Bayes factors:

What Recession?! - United States Econ Summary


What Recession?! - 1

What Recession?! - 2


Base effects:

 What Recession?! - GDP COMPS


What we’ve learned from Dr. Daniel Kahneman’s work on Prospect Theory is that the market prices in those adjustments (i.e. rates of change) from the base rate, rather than the final outcomes (i.e. absolute states). As such, we don’t start with a desired outcome (i.e. “GDP feels like it’s going to be 3-4%”); we let the data guide our forecasts higher or lower – purely in differential terms.


It sounds overly complicated, but we can assure you it really isn’t; it’s just overly differentiated from competing GDP and CPI models. How we model the economy is not at all unlike how any good bottom-up investor would model a company.


So to answer your question(s) specifically:


  • Yes we still believe a recession commences in/around mid-2016 – if not sooner. But as we explain above, that’s actually not the point. It’s all about the rate-of-change in that probable outcome trending higher or lower, and, per the latest economic and financial market data, that probability continues to rise.
  • For now (we can’t stress that enough in a Bayesian inference framework) our quarterly GDP estimates for 2016 are: +1.7%, +1.0%, +1.1% and +1.4%, which takes us to +1.3% for full-year 2016 from a previous estimate of +1.5%.
  • NOTE: those are YoY deltas. For what it’s worth, our headline GDP estimate (i.e. QoQ SAAR) for 1Q16 is +0.2%. As we discussed at length in our 9/2 Early Look titled, “Do You QoQ?” it’s beyond a fool’s errand to model headline GDP any further out than ~3 months. The chart below highlights just that.


What Recession?! - Bloomberg Consesus Real GDPTracking Error


All told, we reiterate our #USRecession theme in the context of the latest data. Our refreshed U.S. GIP model, GDP and economic summary tables are below. Feel free to email with any follow-up questions."


What Recession?! - UNITED STATES


What Recession?! - U.S. GDP Summary Table


Have a great weekend,




Darius Dale


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers

Takeaway: The exchanges are just in-line performers when vol is low but act as shock absorbers in high volatility environments.

The exchange stocks historically have acted as shock absorbers in high volatility environments kicking off relative outperformance against the broader financial sector. The calm of 2012 through mid-2014, put the exchanges at just inline performers versus the XLF as both baskets of financial stocks rose in lock-step. However the high VIX environment of 2009-2011 displayed the worth of these techology driven, agency mechanisms, as the Dow Jones Exchange Index (DJGEX) consistently outperformed the Financials sector SPDR. With the VIX (magenta line, left scale) again breaking out of its base with higher highs and higher lows entering 2016, we expect the start of a divergence between the DJGEX and the XLF to continue. Only at very high levels of VIX (north of 40) do exchange equities also get shaken out to lower levels historically.


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - Exchanges Weekly



Weekly Activity Wrap Up

With volatility easing, exchange traded volume slacked off this week, although the week's average daily volumes (ADVs) in cash equities and futures still exceeded their year-over-year comps. Cash equity volume came in at 8.6 billion shares traded per day this week, bringing the 1Q16TD ADV to 9.3 billion, up +34% Y/Y. Futures activity at CME and ICE came in at 21.5 million contracts traded per day this week, bringing the 1Q16TD ADV to 24.0 million, up +20% Y/Y. CME in particular is setting an all-time trading volume high with 18.1 million contracts per day on average this month, taking out the former high of 17.5 million in ADV in October 2014 on the potential for a Greek exit from the European Union. Options did not have as strong a week, coming in with 15.3 million contracts traded per day, but that still brings the 1Q16TD ADV to 19.1 million, up +23% Y/Y.



HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon1


U.S. Cash Equity Detail

U.S. cash equities trading came in at 8.6 billion shares per day this week, bringing the 1Q16 average so far to 9.3 billion shares per day. That marks +34% Y/Y and +31% Q/Q growth. The market share battle for volume is mixed. The New York Stock Exchange/ICE is taking a 24% share of first-quarter volume, which is consistent with the prior quarter and year-ago quarter, while NASDAQ is taking a 19% share, +62 bps higher Q/Q but -86 bps lower than one year ago.


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon2


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon3


U.S. Options Detail

U.S. options activity came in at a 15.3 million ADV this week, bringing the 1Q16TD average to 19.1 million, a +23% Y/Y and +20% Q/Q expansion. In the market share battle amongst venues, NYSE/ICE has been trending downward at a moderate pace, but at an 18% share it is +135 bps higher than the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, NASDAQ's recent declines bring it -445 bps lower than 1Q15. CBOE's market share is down -131 bps Y/Y but has improved recently; its 27% share of 1Q16TD volume is up +147 bps from 4Q15. BATS and ISE/Deutsche have been taking share from the competing exchanges, with BATS up to a 10% share from 9% a year ago and ISE/Deutsche taking 16%, up from 13% a year ago.


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon4


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon5


U.S. Futures Detail

15.5 million futures contracts traded through CME Group this week, bringing the 1Q16TD average to 18.1 million, a +21% Y/Y and +37% Q/Q expansion. CME open interest, the most important beacon of forward activity, currently tallies 107.2 million CME contracts pending, good for +17% growth over the 91.3 million pending at the end of 4Q15, an improvement from last week's +14%.


Contracts traded through ICE came in at 6.0 million per day this week, bringing the 1Q16TD ADV to 5.8 million, +17% Y/Y and +22% Q/Q growth. ICE open interest this week tallied 66.7 million contracts, a +5% expansion versus the 63.7 million contracts open at the end of 4Q15, consistent with last week.


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon6


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon8


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon7


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon9 


Monthly Historical View

Monthly activity levels give a broader perspective of exchange based trends. As volatility levels, measured by the VIX, MOVE, and FX Vol should rise to normal levels after the drastic compression this cycle, we expect all marketplaces to experience higher activity levels.


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon10


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon11


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon12


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon13


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon14

HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon15


Sector Revenue Exposure

The exchange sector has broadly diversified its revenue exposure over 10 years as public entities with varying top line sensitivity to the enclosed trading volume data. The table below highlights how trading volumes will flow through the various operating models at NASDAQ, CME Group, ICE, and Virtu:


HEDGEYE Exchange Tracker | Financial Shock Absorbers - XMon19 3



Please let us know of any questions,


Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT 




 Joshua Steiner, CFA





Central Planners Gone Wild! Delusions, Hallucinations & Pipe Dreams

Takeaway: Central planners at the Fed, BOJ & ECB have consistently underestimated the challenges they face and overestimated tools in their arsenal.

Central Planners Gone Wild! Delusions, Hallucinations & Pipe Dreams - central banker house of cards


Do central planners worldwide have any credibility anymore?


This past Wednesday's Fed's FOMC announcement amounted to little more than a shoulder shrug. Apparently, the members will be...


"... monitoring global economic and financial developments and is assessing their implications for the labor market and inflation, and for the balance of risks to the outlook."


Thanks for coming out.


To be clear, today's U.S. GDP report was unequivocally awful. We're holding our breath in anticipation wondering what Yellen & Co. will have to say about it. Unfortunately, we'll likely have to wait until at least February 10th when Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill.


Meanwhile... outside these fifty states, central planners abroad are doing their best to screw things up too. Here's analysis from our Macro team on Japan in a note sent to subscribers this morning on the BOJ's decision to pursue a negative interest rate policy.


Central Planners Gone Wild! Delusions, Hallucinations & Pipe Dreams - kuroda


"News of the morning = Japan goes NIRP – and the Yen goes >120, 10Y JGB’s trade down to 0.09% (as in “nine” basis points) and along with the balance of global yields, U.S. 10Y treasury yields followed suite and are trading down -6bps to 1.91% as the yield curve (10’s-2’s) compresses to another new low.


Together with yesterday’s durable goods disaster, this morning’s slowing GDP report and more rumors of stimulus out of China the global #GrowthSlowing data remains conspicuous. Resurgent central bank interventionism is not a function of improving macro fundamentals. "



Central Planners Gone Wild! Delusions, Hallucinations & Pipe Dreams - Draghi cartoon 01.08.2015


Heading over to Europe...


"The ECB’s Jens Weidmann (also President of the Bundesbank) warned fellow policy makers that the ECB should not go too far with the QE program, but will President Mario Draghi listen?  We doubt it!  Weidmann rightly points out that the ECB needs to lower its inflation forecast for 2016. A 2% target is after all a pipedream!"


Watch Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough discuss central banking in the video below.


... So back to our original question, "Do central planners have any credibility?"


The answer ... a resounding NO.

Early Look

daily macro intelligence

Relied upon by big institutional and individual investors across the world, this granular morning newsletter distills the latest and most vital market developments and insures that you are always in the know.

McCullough: ‘Aggressively Sell Any Market Rally’


In this excerpt from The Macro Show, Hedgeye Gaming Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan explains why you don’t want to be long his sector heading into a recession. Meanwhile, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough explains how investors should play our dour economic outlook.

0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP

We’ll leave it to others to review & opine in the internal minutiae of this morning’s GDP report.  We’d highlight a few tangible takeaways:    


  • GDP | #GrowthSlowing, 3 Qtrs & Counting ….   On a year-over-year basis,  growth slowed -30bps sequentially in 4Q15 to 1.80% YoY, marking a 3rd consecutive quarter of deceleration and the slowest rate of growth in 7-quarters.  Sequential deceleration was largely ubiquitous across all expenditure types and sub-aggregates (see summary table below).  It’s not incidental that employment growth, income growth & consumption growth all peaked in 4Q14/1Q15 and have since decelerated alongside headline growth.  We are late cycle in the current expansion and negative 2nd derivative changes across labor, consumption, investment, and credit growth shouldn’t be particularly surprisingly – it’s how the temporal procession of the cycle manifests and 2nd derivative trends naturally precede first derivative changes. 
  • Comps | It Gets Tougher:   Comps only get tougher in 1Q16 and given the base effects in combination with the prevailing trajectory of current domestic and global macro data we expect the trend toward deceleration to extend another quarter or two, at least. 
  • Slow and UnSexy:  Slowing growth puts us in Quad #3 (slowing growth and Inflation) or Quad #4 (stagflation) in our GIP model over the coming quarters.  $USD’s, Bonds and Utilities work under either scenario.  It's not sexy and it's as boring as its been profitable over the last ~6-months but we continue to like those slow growth exposures.  See this mornings Early Look for a further discussion. 
  • NIRP  Action out of the BOJ this morning and the resultant downward shifting of the global yield curve serves to edify our bullish view on bonds.  Divergent central bank policy and an active OUS currency war race-to-the-bottom is supportive of $USD allocations and a perpetuation of the Strong Dollar deflationary trends that have characterized much of the past year.  Resurgent central bank interventionism is not a function of improving macro fundamentals. 


 0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP - GDP


0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP - Income   Consumption Past Peak


0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP - PCE LT


0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP - Cred


0-Handle | 4Q15 GDP - Eco Summary




Christian B. Drake



BREAKING: Hedgeye Macro Team Nails U.S. GDP (Again). Consensus? Not So Much

Takeaway: Old Wall economists completely missed economic reality once again.

BREAKING: Hedgeye Macro Team Nails U.S. GDP (Again). Consensus? Not So Much - GDP cartoon 05.29.2015 large


BREAKING: US GDP hit the 0.7% Hedgeye forecast. We maintained our forecast of between 0.5% to 1.7% Q-o-Q for fourth quarter 2015 GDP all year, even while Old Wall consensus consistently ratcheted it back from 3% in July. 


Here's the inglorious breakdown: 

BREAKING: Hedgeye Macro Team Nails U.S. GDP (Again). Consensus? Not So Much - wall street 4q15 


In other words, our non-consensus macro team nailed the last five GDP reports while economic reality still confounds Wall Street's pundits. We'll say it again #GrowthSlowing





Here's the breakdown of today's GDP release via Hedgeye U.S. Macro analyst Christian Drake. Note all the red in the right-hand column. (That's bad.)



It's funny. Supposed "blue chip" economists can hold up personal consumption expenditure (PCE) as an economic "bright spot" all they want. But staring at the absolute number of any data release tells you nothing about where we're headed.


At Hedgeye, our analysis is more dynamic and based on the year-over-year rate of change. By this measure, PCE is slowing. (That's also bad.)



The preponderance of economic data – from employment to incomes to PCE growth – is rolling over on a rate-of-change basis. We'll throw in one more metric for good measure: Credit growth.


See the chart below. (Again, bad.)


Interesting. All of these economic indicators peaked in 1Q 2015. 


Coincidence? We think not.



For investors (particularly long-only investors), the current macro environment presents an especially tough setup. Our Macro team has been highlighting the increasing likelihood of a U.S. #Recession in the 2Q or 3Q of this year.


Moreover, as Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough continues to reiterate, regardless of whether our #Recession call is right or not, the U.S. stock market is headed for a 20% correction. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.


How do you play it?


Here are our top Macro ideas: Long bonds (TLT) Utilities (XLU)



In the meantime, stay (far) away from consensus forecasts.



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