EARLY LOOK: Match Point

“I don’t have good luck in the match points.”
-Rafael Nadal

Shakespeare considered youth ambition’s ladder – I love that thought and I love watching winners play with confidence. If the younger players on my team don’t end up being better than me, it is I who has failed. Our congratulations to Spain’s Rafael Nadal for becoming the youngest player in the modern history of professional tennis to complete the Grand Slam.
The US stock market is all of a sudden starting to hit a few Grand Slams of its own. Yesterday the SP500 closed up for the 4th consecutive day and its 8th out of the last 9. At 1121, the SP500 has carried itself on the back of the Pain Trade (volume +25% day-over-day concentrated in 112 stocks) all the way back to the plus column for 2010 year-to-date.
To be clear, a YTD SP500 return of +0.5% isn’t even in the area code of challenging the 2010 global equity market leader-board (Sri Lanka leads with a +78% YTD gain, followed by Bangladesh and Latvia at +50% and +45% YTD, respectively), but it’s making the turn in the loser’s bracket that we call the Fiat Republic.

The structural impediment to long-term US economic growth isn’t very difficult to understand. It starts and ends with debt-financed-deficit spending that professional politicians call “stimulus.” We’ve beaten this Match Point into your inbox hard throughout the last few years. There is no such thing as luck when we unearth a Perceived Wisdom coming out of Washington, DC and take the other side. It’s called math.
The math in markets doesn’t lie; politicians do. As repetitive as that go-to baseline shot from the Hedgeye backhand is going to sound is as verbose as Paul Krugman is starting to sound trying to return it in bounds. There really is no refutation to the economic experience of the Fiat Republic of Japan – and the Big Government Spending fans of a former colony of “smart people” know it.
As a reminder, we have attached the most important global macro chart in Hedgeye’s current risk management slide deck this morning. This is the backhand that we want to see Krugman’s Kryptonite of piling-debt-upon-debt-upon-debt return. We call this chart “Crossing the Rubicon of Sovereign Debt” and overlay the growth of Japanese General Government Debt as a percentage of GDP with the Average Annual GDP growth of Japan by decade.
Here are the mathematical conclusions about growth in a losing country that saturates itself with debt:
1.      Japan Average y/y GDP growth: 1981-1989 = 4.6%

2.      Japan Average y/y GDP growth: 1990-1999 = 1.5%

3.      Japan Average y/y GDP growth: 2000-2009 = 0.8%

These last two decades have been pretty pathetic when you consider growth and innovation in this world like say, China and the Internet. In the moment however, how could Japanese bureaucrats being advised by Krugman in 1997 have known not to “PRINT LOTS OF MONEY”?
Our best answer to why is pretty straightforward – ambition’s ladder provided emerging global economies to take share from the world’s oldest and aging economy because it made itself most vulnerable to creative destruction. Capital chases yield – not zero growth, zero coupon, complacency.
Back to the Pain Trade that I mentioned earlier on but need to expand upon. When you read a missive like this, it’s pretty easy to get all beared up about America and its failed economic policy of printing moneys. That’s exactly the problem though. When something becomes this obvious, and it is, market participants tend to lean too far and too fast to the bearish side of the TRADE.
Since bear market bounces are usually more vicious than bull market ones, you need modern day risk management tools to defend against the machine like Nadals that are constantly going to grind you during every market minute of every market day. This isn’t to say managing money in modern days of an American Roman Republic that’s under siege is easy. This is just to say that this is the game that’s in front of you – so play it.
The Pain Trade is what’s carrying the US stock market higher, not some rah-rah speech from the Oracle of Government’s Got My Book. The America he built Berkshire out of didn’t have this debt. He has his own conflicts of interest. Don’t get upset about them – understand them, and take advantage of every market point you can get.
Understand the US stock market’s intermediate term bearish TREND has every opportunity to see smashing winners of bullish immediate term TRADEs. The TRADE (3 weeks or less) and the TREND (3 months or more) are two different Hedgeye durations and the real match points being made out there in the market every day have nothing to do with luck. They have everything to do with understanding Duration Mismatch.
Our intermediate term TREND line of resistance for the SP500 remains 1144, but a very convincing line of bullish immediate term TRADE support has asserted itself at 1085. Watch both of these lines very closely and play like a winner out there today.
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

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It was originally published at 8am this morning, September 14, 2010.  INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.