“Defense is superior to opulence.”
Thankfully, I didn’t waste much of my time this weekend listening to professional politicians at the IMF meetings in Washington make their proactively predictable protectionist comments about global currencies. As the aforementioned Scottish moral philosopher aptly put it, “all money is a matter of belief.”
Neither Adam Smith’s ideas about free market capitalism, nor his citations from “The Wealth of Nations” get much air time in the manic media these days. US stock market cheerleaders are much more focused on “New Keynesian” economic theories of Big Government Intervention that are allegedly going to help policy makers save themselves from adhering to the laws of gravity.
Rather than engage in a philosophical or ethical debate about ideas coming out of the Scottish Enlightenment this morning, I’m going to give you some advice in modern day plain English – Defend Yourself. That’s right and that’s it – defend yourself because, unless you have a legitimate Global Risk Manager managing your money, no one else will.
Notwithstanding the obvious protectionist commentary coming out of the world’s top 3 economies this morning (USA, China, and Japan), here are a few other representative central banker quotes that came out of the IMF meetings:
- Brazil: “Brazil won’t pay the price for several countries’ imbalances. Our position is: Brazil will protect its economy regardless.”
- Philippines: “In the face of possible further weakness in the US Dollar, the central bank continues to assess investment diversification options.”
At the end of the day, the world is still too long of the US Dollar and the broken promises that back it. This isn’t new (we’ve been short the US Dollar since June 7th). It’s simply becoming consensus. And, unlike stock market consensus, global political consensus is much more difficult to reverse.
The “consensus” 2-2.5 month direction of the US stock market has been often reversed in 2010. Students of the Real-Time Market Enlightenment get this. As a result, they will likely continue to profit from the Mathematical Enlightenment called mean-reversion.
Since we made our call for May Showers on April 16th, I haven’t seen such obvious signals to suggest you defend yourself from a US stock market exposure perspective. Never mind what the dude at Citi thinks about our levels, Newton and Einstein would most likely love this call as our Hedgeyes are intensely focused on measuring both time and space.
Time (duration) and price (space) aren’t very useful for economic theoreticians who have never traded a market in their life. Today’s selling opportunity is really amplified by the Academic Dogma that is driving US political consensus that QE2 is going to end well. As your local professional politician Burns the Buck, global politicians are becoming increasingly protectionist about what it means for their constituencies.
Admittedly, we were a little early with the April Flowers/May Showers macro call by about a week (the SP500 topped for 2010 YTD at 1217 on April 23rd). But early is as early does – seeing something coming before it actually occurs and having the patience to wait for your entry point (or in this case, selling point) is easily the most challenging aspect of my risk management day.
In the spirit of keeping the accountability pants on, as a reminder here are the market factors I’ve been looking for since the morning of September 29th when I wrote a note titled “A Heavier Crash”:
- We need to see the SP500 get squeezed one more time in the next few weeks to a price north of 1164.
- We need to see volatility (VIX) get oversold towards 20.
- We need to continue to see the world’s said “reserve currency” lose its credibility.
And no matter where we go this morning, here we are. Check, check, and check on the levels. Fellow Risk Managers, ‘tis time to defend yourself.
I started buying protection by investing in volatility (VXX) on Friday. I get that it’s not a perfect instrument when considered alongside the volatility index (VIX), so we model the risk/reward and probability in the VXX from the bottom-up on its own historical price, volume, and volatility merits.
I have not yet shorted the SP500 (SPY) as my risk management model was flashing amber lights on Friday to wait and watch for the 1169 line in terms of the US stock market being immediate term overbought.
Yes, Dear Theoretical Dogmatists, Hedgeye reserves the unalienable right to change our game-plan as the game changes. Defending ourselves against your Ivory Tower economics is our advice as we drift ominously higher toward 3 more Fridays in October.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer