Eurozone, #CrudeOil, China

Client Talking Points

Eurozone

It’s almost daily now that we get confirmation that the #BeliefSystem (Q2 Macro Theme) in the Eurozone is broken.Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem was out yesterday in a speech at the Peterson Institute saying: “The current low interest rate environment acts as a tailwind for our economy, it supports the economy in the short run, but the effect is short-lived, it simply cannot foster a sustainable recovery if underlying structural problems are not addressed".  We remain bearish on the region, grounded by our GIP (growth, inflation, policy) model that spells Quad 4 pressure in back half of this year.

#CrudeOil

Whether it’s output cut rumors into this weekend’s meeting or declining U.S. production, the “bottom is in” headlines are at the top of commodities feeds from every major news source with WTI +40% in the last 3 mths. Looking at contract positioning shorts a crowded consensus short positioning has been washed out (crude, nat. gas, gold, silver positioning all registering z-scores >1x on a TTM basis) with money betting on a continued decline in the U.S. dollar. A supply side floor argument is a fundamental story, but not a catalyst, and we would reiterate that the credit risk priced into commodity leveraged fixed income is considered all but gone in market-price terms.   

China

The week concludes with a made-up data dump out of everyone’s favorite communist economy. Chinese GDP growth allegedly ticked down -10bps to 6.7% YoY in Q1 and the quarter allegedly ended on a positive note with Retail Sales, Industrial Production, Fixed Assets Investment, Money Supply and Total Social Financing growth all accelerating sequentially in March. While we’ve been right on our call for both the Chinese economy and Chinese yuan to avoid falling off a cliff over the intermediate-to-long term, a lot of the reprieve in Chinese capital outflows and slowing growth on the mainland has been perpetuated by a reversal of the trend of depreciation in the PBoC’s yuan fixing. But now that the U.S. dollar appears to making a series of higher-lows vs. peer currencies, we expect a meaningful increase in pressure on the CNY and CNH from here. That should propagate another bout of global deflation fears over the next 3-6 months.

Asset Allocation

CASH 64% US EQUITIES 0%
INTL EQUITIES 0% COMMODITIES 6%
FIXED INCOME 26% INTL CURRENCIES 4%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
MCD

McDonald's (MCD) hit another all-time high last week. As we continue to reiterate, the company has all the style-factors that we like – high market cap, low beta and liquidity. Stick with it.

 

We are going to be looking at a much different company 1-3 years from now. Urgency has been instilled from the top down by new CEO Steve Easterbrook. He wants more speed and is encouraging people to get things done faster. The food and experience provided to the customer will greatly improve over the coming months as “Experience the Future” is implemented across the system. It won’t be instantaneous though, as MCD has a lot of work to do around changing the perception to bring back customers it may have lost.

 

Things like All Day Breakfast, responsibly sourced ingredients, and bringing back the value proposition will lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction. While this company is too big to be completely fixed overnight, management has the right plans in place. We are confident in where they are headed.

CME

We recently completed a granular, deep dive study demonstrating that all classes of volatility including equity, fixed income, and FX have been managed lower by a U.S. Central Bank engineering a historically abnormal quantitative easing policy over the past 7 years.

 

What does this mean and what are the implications? Well, with Quantitative Easing over (for now) and the Federal Reserve on a rate hiking policy path (for now), for the first time in a long time there is a reason to hedge bond and equity exposure. CME is one of the few venues that allows both institutional and retail investors to do exactly that. The company manages the entire Treasury futures curve and also most of the equity index futures in the U.S.

 

In this late cycle economic environment, CME Group (CME) has a solid earnings trajectory. The exchange continues to benefit from all 3 legs of the exchange stool including incremental volatility; incremental participants coming into its markets; and also new product introduction. Over the course of the next 12 months, we think the earnings opportunity will jump and the path to more than $5 per share in earnings will become more obvious.

TLT

We outlined our expectation and outlook moving into Q2 last Thursday in our quarterly macro themes presentation for institutional clients. The first of the three themes was labeled #TheCycle:

 

With the recessionary industrial data ongoing, employment, income and consumption growth decelerating, corporate profits facing a 3rd quarter of negative growth and Commercial and Industrial credit tightening, the domestic economic, profit and credit cycles are all past peak and continue to traverse their downslope. With this cyclical backdrop, the U.S. economy faces its toughest GDP comp of the cycle in 2Q16”….

 

The takeaway is that the economy faces a difficult GDP comp (growth rate) in Q2 within the continued late-cycle slowdown. 

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

*NEW VIDEO* The latest installment of "About Everything" w/ @HoweGeneration https://app.hedgeye.com/insights/50271 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Carry the battle to them.  Don't let them bring it to you.  Put them on the defensive and don't apologize for anything."

           - Harry S. Truman

STAT OF THE DAY

Wade Boggs batted .328 over the course of his 18 years in baseball but only hit 118 home runs.