Don't Mind Expectations

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

-Dr. Seuss


I got a lot of feedback early last week that I was being too hard on myself. I don’t think I was. For a few trading days the Thunder Bay Bear was getting beaten up by the bulls. I like to call it for what it is that everyone out there sees. There is no hiding from the real-time score.


After Friday’s smack-down close, the US stock market is right back in the fetal position, down -12.7% from its April 23rd cycle-peak and down -32% from its 2007 Levered-Long high. Friday’s earnings out of Google, Bank of America, and General Electric looked nothing like those that we saw from Intel earlier in the week. Across the board, all of these stocks look a lot like the SP500 does from and intermediate term TREND perspective – bearish.


Earnings are cool. They are catalysts that everyone stares at and they can get you paid on both the long and short side. Getting stocks and earnings right are two completely different risk management exercises however - the difference is usually explained by expectations.


At the heart of our American Austerity theme for Q3 of 2010 are the following forecasts about expectations:

  1. US economic growth expectations for the back half of 2010 are too high.
  2. US Dollar weakness (from debt and deficit spending) is a leading indicator for US stock market weakness.
  3. Consensus about US growth, the US Dollar, and US stocks is not yet Bearish Enough.

As of Friday’s closing price of 1064, the SP500 is broken again across all 3 of our core risk management durations (TRADE, TREND, and TAIL):

  1. Long term TAIL resistance = 1096
  2. Intermediate term TREND line resistance = 1144
  3. Immediate term TRADE resistance = 1078

What’s most interesting about this risk management setup is that last week’s closing highs were right at the long term TAIL line (1096). When considered within the framework of longer term expectations, we don’t think earnings season is going to trump the intermediate term slowdown in US growth. Don’t forget that as you get deeper into US earnings season, the earnings get more consumer discretionary (they report last). And as the US consumer goes…


By all measures of consensus expectations, Friday’s Michigan Consumer Confidence reading was a bomb (66.5 vs. 74.5E). For the bears however, it was very much consistent with the continuing intermediate term TREND story line that Americans aren’t as dumb as their government expects them to be.


Dumb? Yes, that’s what Professional Politicians in Washington must think Americans are when they expect consumers to run out and lever themselves up with another mortgage loan. Every day that the Krugman Empire fear-mongers the citizenry into believing we’re going to have another “great depression” is another day when Americans might actually adjust their spending in anticipation of one!


This week’s macro catalyst calendar isn’t going to make Americans any more confident:

  1. Wednesday – Ben Bernanke will issue his semi-annual report to the Senate Banking Committee and likely downgrade his forecast.
  2. Thursday – Bernanke will repeat the same doom and gloom forecast (that doesn’t match up with his GDP forecast) to the House.
  3. Thursday – Existing US Home Sales for the month of June will continue to rattle the cages of the housing bulls (see our 101 slide presentation).

On Friday, European politicians will be trumpeting the results of a made-up “stress test” that already had a prescribed outcome. That could be a positive catalyst, but maybe more so for Europeans than Americans…


You see, the Europeans are doing exactly what American politicians taught them to – make up some healthy “test” results for their banks and hope that the market buys into it. This will continue to provide a bullish intermediate term tailwind for the Euro (bullish intermediate term TREND support = 1.27) and a bearish intermediate term headwind for the US Dollar (bearish intermediate term TREND resistance = 84.74).


Having been a Euro bear for the first 6 months of 2010, I don’t mind consensus expectations for “Euro Parity.” The Parity Parrots all came to the risk management party just in time for us to cover our Euro and European stock market short positions and shift to shorting the currency and equity markets with more relative downside – those in the USA.


We remain short both the US Dollar (UUP) and SP500 (SPY) in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio. My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are now 1032 and 1078, respectively.  


Best of luck out there this week,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Don't Mind Expectations - bear

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