Head and Shoulders
The United Stated economy is hanging on tight in preparation for the looming apocalypse that is the fiscal cliff. Just feet from the edge and a decision was made to… You guessed it, push back the deadlines. You know that progress is weak when the U.S. Government keeps coming to the conclusion that the best decision is to remain in a state of indecision.
For those who want to get a sense of who the leading candidate in Italy is, at least based on concurrent mentions on Twitter, here is an application that tracks candidate references in real-time. Needless to say, Grillo and Berlusconi are head and shoulders above the rest.
Here is a weekly over view of the currency market from a technical perspective. The divergence between the performance of the dollar against the euro-bloc, with the exception of sterling, and the other major currencies is noteworthy. In the analysis, I suggest a few opportnities for near-term contrarians. I fully appreciate that some readers eschew technical analysis and regulate it to the same space as numerology and witchcraft. Yet, even still, it is useful to recall Keynes' view that the markets are like a beauty contest and the trick is not to pick who one thinks is the most beautiful, but to pick who others will think most beautiful. Moreover, technicals allow one to quantify how much one is willing to lose in a way that fundamental macro-economic analysis doesn't. It is a tool then for risk management.
The chart below illustrates why the U.S. economy is so dependent on the wealth effect generated by asset bubbles. It’s stunning to think that average real earnings in the U.S. are almost 11 percent lower than where they were in 1973. Policymakers’ focus should be on increasing worker productivity through: 1) reforming the country’s education system; 2) unleashing entrepreneurship; and 3) in the words of ECB chief, Mario Draghi, “doing whatever it takes” to empower small businesses. But, this is tough political business, however, so we take the easy way out. The political pandering increases budget deficits, forcing the Fed to repress interest rates and print money to drive up asset prices. The boom side of the cycle is sustained longer than most expect because of the reserve currency status of the dollar. This temporarily generates artificially inflated demand (i.e, fake) through the wealth effect, which eventually collapses when asset markets crash. This is not a good long term economic strategy and sustainable path for permanent wealth creation
In July European unemployment rose to 11.3% - a record post-Euro rate, and the highest since 1990 for the constituent countries. While this was in line with estimates, what surprised the market, and has sent the EUR paradoxically higher (paradoxically, because all a continent in stagflation, which Europe by now most certainly is, is to have its currency rise just when it needs to export more goods, in the process entrentching its economic plight even further) is that inflation in August picked up from 2.4% to 2.6%, beating expectations of a 2.5% increase, allowing the European misery index to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the world.
As I’ve outlined in earlier articles, Spain will be the straw that breaks the EU’s back. The country’s private Debt to GDP is above 300%. Spanish banks are loaded with toxic debts courtesy of a housing bubble that makes the US’s look like a small bump in comparison. And the Spanish government is bankrupt as well.
The technical guys are feeling bearish.
While gold is now negative year to date in dollar terms, it remains 0.7% higher in euro terms. Gold prices dropped 3.7% last week and silver fell 5.1% to $28.89/oz. The smart money, especially in Asia, is again accumulating on the dip. Demand for jewellery and bullion in India has dipped in recent weeks but should resume on this dip – especially with inflation in India still very high at 7.23%. Also of interest in India is the fact that investment demand has remained robust and gold ETF holdings in India are soon to reach the $2 billion mark. This shows that recent gold weakness is primarily due to the recent bout of dollar strength. Morgan Stanley has said in a report that gold’s bull market isn’t over despite the recent price falls. Morgan Stanley remains bullish on gold as it says that the ECB will take steps to shore up bank balance sheets, U.S. real interest rates are still negative, investors have held on to most of their exchange traded gold and central banks are still buying gold.
All you need to read and some more.
We all have had our fair share recently of Gartman the "market timer" (here and here). However, little have we experienced of Gartman "the historian". Here he is, by way of Art Cashin, being off by 300 years notwithstanding, describing something that he has intoned on recently in his ever-so-frequent appearances on CNBC: the "they" who are in control, or in this case the central planners whose decisions ultimately lead to nothing but ruin.
But anyway, the big thing is liquidity right now, not whether or not you have a job.
The following chart from Bank of America captures the past three years of American "recovery" quite starkly: the US economy, as measured by the ISM has so far not double but triple dipped, and the result would have been far more pronounced had the Fed not stepped in after each of the prior two local maxima and injected trillions into the economy. Following peaks in mid 2010 and early 2011, we are "there" again - how long until the Fed has to jump in? And would it have already done so if it wasn't an election year? Which brings us to our question: third time is the charm? Or head and shoulders?
Listen up you Muppets!!!!! I'm rehearsing from my Goldman Interview, applying for retail stock broker, pushing Apple inventory :-)
I believe the EUR/USD is going to approach parity within the next year. All the nonsense we've seen in Europe over the past couple of years is going to start giving way to reality, and even with Helicopter Ben's efforts to devalue the US dollar, the Euro is going to do a better job pushing its way down.
The bullishness is rather interesting considering the notable headwinds that exist in the European sovereign debt markets, the geopolitical risk seen in light sweet crude oil futures, and the potential for a recession to play out in Europe.