Which incidentally has nothing to do with stocks or bonds, and everything to do with all-important FX (which just happens to drive all correlation and risk pairs around the globe thanks to the far greater embedded leverage in FX, and is why all "modern" traders focus almost entirely on the USDJPY and EURUSD).
Specifically, as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes "we show on the front page chart what I believe to be the key chart investors should be focusing on at present. It shows the yen breaking down against the US dollar. This may be more than just a strong dollar story on the back of Fed tightening however, as it seems the yen has now also broken key support levels against the euro. This is a weak yen story. Though there are good fundamental explanations for recent dollar strength vis-à-vis both the yen and the euro, often commentators like to find a fundamental story to fit market events even when price movements have occurred without any clear fundamental explanation ? for we teenage scribblers (as ex-UK Chancellor Nigel Lawson dismissively called us) all have to fill those column inches of commentary."
Wait, Albert is now a chartist? So it would appear, with a few large caveats:
Sometimes it is very clear to me that instead of fundamentals driving prices, it is the charts or technicals that are important. Hence I have long been an advocate of keeping one eye on the charts to see if a major support or resistance has been broken. The very fact that the markets contain so many followers of technical analysis means that the soothsaying of chartists can actually be self-fulfilling. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of foreign exchange (FX) trading where fundamentals often play a peripheral role, even in the medium term. And in a world where momentum investing has become more ?fashionable?, FX is the one area where a clear market trend is especially seized upon with relish.
We couldn't agree more, since we ourselves enjoy point out, more often than not, when various algos activate momentum ignition strategies in the USDJPY to push the broader S&P 500 above (never below) key resistance levels. In fact, it was on Zero Hedge where we pointed out last night the extreme oversold level of the Yen. Edwards, however says to ignore this, and instead to focus on what may be historic weakness in the Yen, which in turn will clobber the global economy.
... if I am right and the yen runs sharply lower from here, then this will spell real trouble for the global economy. (Do not be fooled if there is now a pause in yen weakness or even a partial retracement from these levels, as the rapidity of recent moves means the yen is now extremely oversold against the dollar ? i.e. the daily RSI=88. This should be the pause that reinvigorates the new trend).
Why does a rapidly weakening yen spell trouble for the global economy?
First, because the Chinese economy will see a further rise in its already strong real exchange rate, especially if other Asian currencies are pulled down with the sliding yen. This will hurt the Chinese economy which, from August data, appears to be weakening again. The strengthening renminbi will also exacerbate deflationary pressures further.
Second, a weak yen spells trouble for the west as a wave of deflation washes in from the rapidly devaluing east. This reverses a decade long trend. I believe that profits growth is so anaemic in the west that this monetary tightening via strengthening exchange rates could in itself be sufficient to send US and European profits into outright decline and subsequently their economies into recession (via a contraction in the investment spending). That is why this FX technical break is so important
That's what could happen. Here is why Edwards believes, it will happen.
We have long believed that investors ignore Japan at their peril. Time and time again, investors have missed major global market trends that have been catalysed by Japan. We have felt for some time that a fragile Chinese economy could be pushed over the edge by a further yen devaluation – in many ways a replay of the Asian crisis of 1997. And just as the Chinese real economy data has taken a turn for the worse in August, the yen has slipped below a key 15-year support level against the dollar. This is probably the most important chart investors should focus on. The next phase of global currency wars may have begun.
We have written previously that Japan?s QE and the associated yen weakness could trigger a re-run of the 1997 Asian crisis, only this time sucking in the Chinese renminbi. The yen has just broken below a key long-term support and after a brief technical pull-back, its decline is likely to accelerate. This will trigger a wave of profit-crushing deflation flowing from east to west. Andrew Lapthorne has just written a great note on Japanese equities. He says yen weakness, not corporate self-help, is the key to Nikkei outperformance, with Germany looking particularly vulnerable. It looks as if yen weakness is what we've now got!
Staring long and hard at the Yen/$ chart, I think that, in the current circumstances, the yen/$ will head to 120 pretty quickly ? perhaps after a short reinvigorating retracement. And, if the dollar’s ascent is given extra impetus by the DXY also breaking out, a decline in the yen below Y120 will see an end to its 30-year uptrend – a trend that has relentlessly exported deflation from the west to Japan. Sound far-fetched? One of the few things I have learnt over 30 years in this industry is that when traders decide the yen/US$ starts to move it can jump by Y10 or Y20 very, very quickly indeed.
Remember that "shocking" CPI print from last week? If the SocGen strategist is right, prepare for many more such "stunners" as Japan makes deflation-exporting its only business model, one which could well crush the economies of Europe, China, and the US... and Japan! Case in point: recall what just happened to Sony last week. But the all important offset, a rising global stock market, should make it all better at least until the entire economic base is so hollowed out, not even algos can dismisses the record divergence between stock market myth and economic reality.
Edwards' bottom line: "If a clear break in the yen downwards against both the dollar and euro is occurring, not only will this spell trouble for the beleaguered Chinese economy and exacerbate deflation in the west, but it will also break the spell of German economic dominance."