Anatomy of a Panic Selloff
Anyone reading this post already knows that palpable panic has set into equity markets over recent days. We present these charts to highlight the extreme nature of the selloff so far, and as a reminder of the rarity of these events. In times like this, it’s important to remind oneself that these kind of extremes are transient and often present, at the very least, unique tactical opportunities.
A Selloff, But Not An Actionable Low…Yet
Watching while the largest equity market in the world falls by a whopping 8% in four trading days brings us back to the 2008-2009 meltdown period of the financial crisis. Normally an 8% drop in such a short time frame would present an interesting intermediate-term buying or rebalancing opportunity outside of a recessionary environment.
What’s Behind the Breakout in Gold?
This week’s breakout in gold is an epic expression of our times in which potential economic problems are quickly followed by massive actual and expected responses by central banks and governments. The problem de jour (for both markets and the public) is of course the real and scary health and economic consequences of a further spread COVID-19.
New All-time Highs on Declining Breadth is Reason for Caution
There are a number of factors that have us tactically concerned about a period of over-exuberance among equity investors. Those include record low put/call ratios and extreme inflows into equity ETFs. But among the more troubling facts of late is the breakdown in breadth we are witnessing even as the equity markets rally to new cycle or all-time highs.
Strong 4th Quarter, Election Year Supports the Case for a Strong Q1
Unless something dramatically changes in the final few days of 2019, the 4th quarter for equity market performance will be one to write home about. The S&P 500 is currently on track to deliver about a 9% price return, which would be the second best quarterly performance in the last five and a half years.
Economic Growth Has Not Hit Bottom Yet
Even as left tail risks to US and global economic growth seem to have been mitigated over recent weeks (more accommodate financial conditions, rising of some PMI data, worst case trade outcome seemingly a lower probability now), incoming data continue to suggest the nadir of this slowdown cycle has not yet been reached.
Not So Fast on the Cyclical Chinese Recovery
Investors were unfortunately treated to a rather disappointing package of October Chinese economic data. Three of the most important hard data series were reported: fixed asset investment, industrial production and retail sales.
Technology & Materials: Do You Take the Over or the Under?
As each day passes and more evidence of some sort of bottom in economic activity emerges, the chances of market rotation into the more beaten down areas of the global equity market would seem to be rising.
If International Equities Outperform, Will You?
I wrote a week ago about how international equities may be finally getting the help they need to break the back of a long-term underperformance trend. It’s a trend that has caused international stocks to underperform US stocks in eight of the last eleven years.
EAFE Equities: Can they Ever Work Again?
EAFE stocks, those in the developed Europe and Asia regions, have underperformed US stocks in eight of the last eleven years. That batting average might be decent if you are a professional baseball player, but not so much if you are a professional investor.
Hard Data Gets Put to the Test
United States and indeed global economic data have been weak – at least that is the unabated message from the PMI data that were released this week on both manufacturing and services. At this stage everyone knows the survey data, or “soft” data, are weak.
International Value: Optionality on Reflation
At some point the global economy will get a dose of reflation. Whether that comes from the current central bank easing cycle, fiscal policy response, coordinated fiscal-monetary action, or a détente in the US-Sino trade dispute is not yet known.
Is the Bond Rally Over or is This a Correction in a Downtrend in Treasury Yields?
With interest rates on the 10-year US treasury bond having moved nearly 50bps higher over the last 10 days it is certainly worth asking the question if we’ve seen the low in interest rates or whether this is more of a correction in an ongoing downtrend in rates.
The Calculus for Fed Inaction is Getting Tougher by the Day
Over the last few days investors have been given a good amount of information to digest from incoming economic data, Federal Reserve meting minutes, and Fed speakers opining about monetary policy at the annual Jackson Hole conference. Even still, everyone is waiting on THE speech from Fed Chairman Powell tomorrow to set to the expectations for the Fed’s upcoming meeting in mid-September.
3 Reasons Why More Tariffs are Bullish for Government Bonds
Today’s news of 10% tariffs on the remaining $300bn of imports from China took markets by storm today with US stocks moving from a 1% gain to almost a 1% loss on the day. Meanwhile, gold closed at a 6-year high of $1445.
The Debt Ceiling Impasse Has Meant Mini QE Since May – Will Mean QT When Resolved
When the US government gets near its statutory debt limit, congress must lift the debt limit in order for the Treasury to continue to issue debt to pay for government expenses. Simple enough.
It’s Not Just Powell Pandering to Markets – Rate Cuts Are Necessary
We have been surprised over recent weeks to read a slue of commentary proclaiming that the economy is in great shape and Fed Chairman Powell is just pandering to markets by signaling rate cut(s) in July and beyond.
Risks For the Second Half of 2019 Are Mounting by the Day: Part 2
In today’s report, we will address one of the asset allocation implications of those factors, namely that long-term US Treasury bonds could have a substantial downside in yield even from these levels.
Risks For the Second Half of 2019 Are Mounting by the Day: Part 1
As we look into the second half of the year and into 2020, we are left with a fleeting feeling about the prospects for a cyclical uptick in growth and therefore earnings. The problem is not so much with the current pace of growth or incoming data (which by the way hasn’t been very good).
Which Way the US Dollar Breaks Will Have Major Asset Allocation Implications in Second Half of 2019
The US dollar is on the cusp of making a major move. The question is which way will it go, higher or lower? The directional movement of the US dollar will have significant asset performance implications once the tug of war between dollar bears and bulls is resolved.
Lumber and Copper Prices are Diverging – Which is Signal and Which is Noise?
The tale from some of the most cyclical and predictive economic indicators are telling investors two very different things at the moment. Copper, the metal with a PhD in economics is giving us the all-clear sign while lumber, which is perhaps only regarded as having a master’s or bachelor’s in economics, is saying, “be careful.”.
Housing Has More Downside, but Homebuilders Have More Upside
Investors have been given another slug of wanting housing data this week. First it was building permits which surprised to the downside and today it was pending home sales, which fell 4.9% YoY vs expectations of a 1.8% drop.
US Yields Could Still Have Quite a Bit More Downside
To the dismay of many observers, US treasury yields have been dead as a doorknob despite the 20% rally in stocks over the last three months. In fact, the US 10-year yield is on the verge of breaking below the 2.56% level it reached on January 4th when recession concerns were flaring.
The Trade Deficit Blowout is as Predictable as My Dog Begging for Food at the Dinner Table
The big news of the day relates to the continuation of a trend that has been going on since 2013: the widening of the trade deficit. The trade deficit in dollar terms at $-59.8bn in December and $-622bn for the year broke down to a new 10-year low.
Is the Economic Slowdown Over or Just Getting Started?
With US stocks up 11% YTD and nearly 19% since the Christmas Eve low, one could surmise that the economic slowdown that occurred in the back half of 2018 both globally and in the United States was a thing of the past, or at least would be over soon.
What Does a Humped Yield Curve Mean for Future Stock Market Returns
As many commentators have pointed out, the yield curve has developed a sort of humped form in recent months. That has led many to speculate about when the yield curve will invert, foreshadowing a recession. If, as the logic goes, the yield curve is about to invert then we all better take cover.
The Employment Report is Not All It’s Cracked up to Be
The “blowout” employment report, while strong in some respects, should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s important to remember that employment is a lagging indicator. Payroll employment often peaks either at the beginning or middle of recessions, so it provides virtually no warning of impending danger.
Five Indicators Suggesting 2000 may be a Better Analog than 1998
As a conceptual exercise, it may be useful to frame the current episode of market volatility (both upside and downside volatility) from the perspective of the stock market declines in 1998 and 2000.
There is Statistical Merit to this Oversold Condition in Stocks as Buying Opportunity
The oversold condition in stocks that has developed over the last several weeks is more than trivial. I highlighted on Christmas Eve the baker’s dozen reasons why equity markets could tactically rally from that point, showing extremes in a variety of indicators.
A Bakers Dozen Reasons Why Stocks Can Tactically Rally From Here
Stocks plunging to new lows on the year and to the lowest level since early 2017 is no way to bring in the holidays. Investors are in panic mode, with precious few precedence of this level of sustained selling outside of the 2008 meltdown.
Is 2019 Going to be the Year of the Profit Margin Problem?
2018 has been kind to corporate profit margins. In fact, the margin expansion we’ve seen so far in 2018 is unprecedented in a late cycle economic environment when wages are rising briskly, at least looking back over the last thirty years.
Was Today’s (11/28/18) Rally the All Clear Signal or More Noise?
The equity markets no doubt experienced a powerful move today on the back of Fed Chair Powell’s dovish remarks mid-day. Specifically, his comments laid the groundwork for a pause in interest rate hikes in the first quarter of 2018.