Tag Archives: trade war

Everything Is Worse Now Than In 2007

Does anyone seriously believe that in the next global recession equity markets will not collapse? Do market participants really believe fiscal stimulus and helicopter money will save us from a gut-wrenching global bust that will make 2008 look like a picnic? Has the longest US economic cycle in history beguiled investors into soporific complacency? I hope not. – Albert Edwards, Market Strategist at Societe Generale

Friday’s 625 point plunge in the Dow capped off another volatile week. Three of the top 20 largest one-day point declines in the Dow have occurred during this month. Remarkably, the Dow has managed to hold the 200 dma 5 times in August. The SPX similarly has managed to hold an imaginary support line at 2,847, about 40 SPX points above the 200 dma. The Russell 2000 index looks like death warmed-over and it’s obvious that large funds are unloading their exposure to the riskier small-cap stocks.

The randomness of unforeseen events causing sudden market sell-offs is starting to occur with greater frequency. Friday’s sell-off was triggered by disappointment with Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole followed by an escalation of the trade war between China and Trump. Given the response of the stock market to the day’s news events, I’m certain no one was expecting a less than dovish speech by the Fed Head at J-Hole or the firing of trade war shots.

It’s laughable that the stock market soars and plunges based on whether or not the Fed will cut rates, and by how much, at its next meeting. At this point, only stocks and bonds will respond positively to the anticipation of more artificial Central Bank stimulus. And the positive response by stocks will be brief.

Morgan Stanley published a table of 21 key global and U.S. economic indices – ranging from the Market Global PMI manufacturing index to the Goldman Sachs US financial conditions index – and compared the current index levels to the same indices in September 2007. Every single economic index was worse now than back in late 2007. September 2007 was the first time the Fed cut rates after a cycle of rate hikes.

But there’s a problem just comparing a large sample of economic indices back then and now. By the time the Fed started to take rates down again in 2007, it had hiked the Fed funds rate 425 basis points from 1% to 5.25%. This time, of course, the Fed started at zero and managed to push the Fed funds rate up only 250 basis points to 2.5%. Not only is the economy in worse shape now than at the beginning of the prior financial crisis but the Fed funds rates is less than 50% as high as it was previously.  For me this underscores that fact that everything is worse now than in 2007.

The commentary above is an excerpt from the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal. Each issue contains economic and market analysis short sell ideas based on fundamental analysis, including ideas for using puts and calls to express a short view. You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal Information.

Thanks Dave for the TREE recommendation. I covered in the high $200’s for a very profitable trade after it cracked finally – subscriber “Daniel”

The Remarkable Resiliency Of Gold And Silver

The price of gold continues to hold up under the enormous selling in the paper derivatives markets on the Comex and LBMA.  This morning’s price attack is a good example:

The chart above shows December paper gold in 5 minute intervals. Typically the price of gold is taken lower leading up to the a.m. London “fix,” in which the “price fix” process is characterized with heavy offerings.  Lately the price bounces after that. And of course there’s the obligatory price-smack when the Comex floor trading commences (8:20 a.m. EST).  Check that box.  Then the “hey can I tell you the good news” item hit the tape about 4 minutes after the NYSE opened.  The hedge fund algos spiked the S&P 500 futures and dumped paper gold.

For the better part of the last 18 years, when this type of “market” action occurs, gold is down for the count. Not only does the initial “fishing line” sell-off hold, but the gold price moves lower throughout the day.  This snap-back action in the gold price after a price attack since early June is unique to the way gold (and silver) has traded over the last 18+ years.

Gold is at or near an all-time high in most fiat paper currencies except the dollar. This summer, however, it would appear that the dollar-based valuation of gold is starting to break the “shackles” of official intervention and is beginning to reflect the underlying fundamentals.  On the assumption that gold can continue to withstand serious efforts to push the price back below $1500 (the net short position in gold futures held by Comex banks is near a record high, for instance), we could see $1600 or higher before Labor Day weekend.

This price-action in gold is being driven by enormous flows of capital into both physical gold and gold “surrogates” or “derivatives.”  Yes, GLD is a derivative of gold – a device used to index the price movement in gold.  The action over the last two months is more remarkable given that the increased excise tax on bullion imports into India has largely stifled import demand beyond what gets smuggled into the country (in excess of 300 tonnes annually).

I have been told my someone who claims to be in a position to know that there’s a buyer of massive amounts of physical gold and silver on every dip in price and that’s what is driving the resiliency of the precious metals.

Make no mistake, even if by chance of a miracle a “trade agreement” is reached between China and the U.S., the underlying economic fundamentals globally have already deteriorated into a recession. And it’s getting worse. It has nothing to do with tariffs.  For the primary cause, research the amount of debt outstanding now vs.  2008…

Moreover, the randomness of unforeseen news events causing sudden market sell-offs and precious metals rallies is starting to occur with greater frequency. This is driving the flight-to-safety move into the precious metals. The mining stocks have lagged relative to the risk-adjusted percentage move since early June in gold and silver. I do not expect that to last for long…

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Inching Toward The Cliff – Why Gold Is Soaring

The global economy is headed uncontrollably toward the proverbial cliff. Although the Central Banks will once again attempt to defer this reality with more money printing and currency devaluation, systemic collapse is fait accompli.

Gold and silver are behaving in a way I have not observed in over 18 years of active participation in the precious metals sector. It’s quite possible that the is being driven by the physical gold and silver markets, with the banks losing manipulative control over precious metals prices using derivatives.

Silver Doctors invited me to discuss a global economy headed for economic and financial disaster; we also discuss the likely reintroduction of gold into the global monetary system:

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

A Global Race To Zero In Fiat Currencies…

…ushers in the restoration of price discovery in the precious metals market. The price of gold is at or near an all-time in most currencies except the dollar. This summer, however, it would appear that the dollar-based valuation of gold is starting to break the “shackles” of official intervention and is beginning reflect the underlying fundamentals. Gold priced in dollars is up over 14% since mid-November 2018 and over 44% since it bottomed at $1050 in December 2015. But those RORs for gold are inconvenient truths you won’t hear in the mainstream financial media.

The movement in gold from 2008-2011 reflected the fundamental problems that caused the great financial crisis. The gold price also anticipated the inherent devaluation of the U.S. dollar from the enormous amount of money and credit that was to be created in order to keep the U.S. financial/economic system from collapsing. But those “remedies” only  treated the symptoms – not the underlying problems.

Once the economic/financial system was stabilized, the price of gold – which had become
technically extremely over-extended – entered a 5-year period of correction/consolidation.
This of course was helped along with official intervention. Gold bottomed out vs. the dollar in late 2015. As you can see, the gold price is significantly undervalued relative to the rising level of Treasury debt:

This is just one measuring stick by which to assess a “fundamental” dollar price for gold. But clearly just using this variable, gold is significantly under-priced in U.S. dollars.

As mentioned above, the underlying problems that led to the systemic de facto collapse in 2008 were allowed to persist. In fact, these problems have become worse despite the  efforts of the policy-makers and insider elitists to cover them up. But gold is starting to sniff the truth.  I’ve been expecting an aggressive effort by the banks to push the price of gold below $1400 – at least temporarily. But every attempt at this endeavor has failed quickly.  This is the ”invisible hand” of the market that ”sees” the ensuing currency devaluation race, which has shifted from a marathon to a track meet.

Though the politicians and Wall Street snake-oil salesmen will blame the fomenting economic contraction on the “trade war,”  the system was heading into a tail-spin anyway – the trade war is simply hastening the process. As such, the only conclusion I can draw is that there’s big big money globally – over and above the well publicized Central Bank buying – that is moving into gold and silver for wealth preservation. In short, bona fide price discovery in U.S. dollar terms is being reintroduced to the precious metals market.

The Mining Stock Journal  covers several mining stocks that I believe are extraordinarily undervalued relative to their upside potential. I also present opportunistic recommendations on select mid-tier and large-cap miners that should outperform their peers.  You can learn more about this newsletter here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

Gold: BOOM Goes The Dynamite

After dancing around the $1350 level (August futures basis) the price of gold launched in three stages after the FOMC circus was over on June 19th. The first move enabled gold to break above and hold the $1360 area of resistance that has been referenced ad nauseum for the last three years. Then, two “reverse flash crashes” later on Thursday and Friday that week, gold powered well above $1400 before a “flash crash” at the end of Friday’s trading pushed gold back below $1400 for the weekend. On Monday afternoon (June 24th) gold broke free from  the shackles of official price containment and sustained a move over $1400 and ran up to $1440.

As I expected, a combination of profit-taking by the hedge funds chasing momentum higher with paper gold and official efforts to push the price of gold lower triggered a sell-off that tested $1400 successfully. Gold closed out the week (August futures basis) at $1412.

While I was expecting a move like this at some point in response to the Fed reimplementing loose monetary policy, I thought that it wouldn’t happen until the Fed signaled that it would begin printing money again. It’s not clear to me if this move is being fueled by fundamentals and a flight to safety or if it’s hedge fund algos chasing price momentum. It’s likely a combination of both.

Independent of any economic disruption that may or may not be caused by the trade war, economic activity globally is deteriorating rapidly. Every country around the world recklessly printed money and piled up debt which artificially revived economic activity after the 2008 de facto systemic collapse. Mathematically the world can’t print money and issue debt ad infinitum. We may have hit the wall in that regard over the last 12 months. The trade war is being used as a convenient scapegoat. It’s like blaming the start of World War I on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand…

I believe there’s no question that highly negative events are unfolding “behind the scenes” which are sucking liquidity out of the system. I believe these events will emerge in plain sight well before year-end. The yield curve inversions (Treasury, Eurodollar futures) are telling us there’s hidden explosives detonating that have been contained for now. I have no doubt that the troubles are connected to primarily to Deutsche Bank but also stem from the early stages of a subprime debt problem. The “secret” meeting held a couple weeks ago by Mnuchin and the Financial Stability Oversight Council concerning “alarms” in the junk bond market was a tell-tale as was the “bad bank” plan announced by Deutsche Bank, which was curiously devoid of any details on how it would be funded or what would go into it.

The systemic problems and geopolitical animosities percolating behind “the curtain” are not lost on those with an inside view of the action. I expect an aggressive attack on the gold price next week. The Fourth of July observance falls on Thursday, which means most Wall Street trading desks will be lightly staffed most of the week. Low-volume holiday periods are the favorite time for the bullion banks to stage a raid on gold. The success of this raid is crucial to maintaining the illusion that obvious systemic problems are manageable.

Any attempt to push the price of gold lower will be helped by the fact that official gold imports into India have stopped while the Indian public digests the recent surge in the price of gold. This is typical behavior by India after a sharp move higher in gold. Smuggling to avoid the import duty likely continues unabated. But the removal of India’s official bid from the physical gold market is a window of opportunity for the western gold price managers to make an effort to push bold back below $1400 using paper.

If any attempt to  manipulate gold back below $1400 fails in the next week or two, it means that unhealthy quantities of brown fecal matter are connecting with the fan blades – out of sight for now except for the signal coming from the gold.

Any sustained move higher in gold and silver will ignite a fire below the mining stocks, especially the historically undervalued juniors. My Mining Stock Journal covers several mining stocks that I believe are extraordinarily undervalued relative to their upside potential. I also present opportunistic recommendations on select mid-tier and large-cap miners that should outperform their peers. In response to subscriber requests, in the next issue released this upcoming week I’ll present an initial opinion on Great Bear Resources. You can learn more about this newsletter here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

Trump’s Dilemma And Refuting The Gold/Yuan Peg Theory

The following is an excerpt from my December 6th issue of the Mining Stock Journal:

Trumps Dilemma – The dollar index has been rising since Trump began his war on trade. But right now it’s at the same 97 index level as when Trump was elected. Recall that Trump’s administration pushed down starting in 2017 to stimulate exports and attempt to cut the trade deficit.  The dollar  fell from 97 to 88.  Gold ran from  $1125 to as high as $1360 – a key technical breakout level – by late April 2018.  Something had to be done to keep gold from moving higher…Trump started his Trade War in March, which  pushed the dollar higher.  Gold began tank.   Ironically, the trade deficit one again began to balloon.

If Trump wants to “win” the trade war, he needs to push the dollar a lot lower. This in turn will send the price of gold soaring. This means that the western Central Banks/BIS will have to live with a rising price gold, something I’m not sure they’re prepared to do. This could set up an interesting behind-the-scenes clash between Trump and the western banking elitists.

I’ve labeled this, “Trump’s Dilemma.” As anyone who has ever taken a basic college level economics course knows, the Law of Economics imposes trade-offs on the decision-making process (remember the “guns and butter” example?). The dilemma here is either a rising trade deficit for the foreseeable future or a much higher price of gold.

The other problem with pushing the dollar lower to stimulate exports – or at least attempt to stimulate exports – is the funding of Treasury debt. If foreign investors, who fund a large percentage of Treasury issuance, expect the dollar to decline it will significantly reduce the foreign funds that finance Trump’s spending deficit. That deficit – on-budget + off-budget – will likely end up somewhere between $1.5 – $2 trillion this year…

Refuting the yuan/gold peg theory – When the theory about the Chinese pegging gold to the yuan based on the chart correlation was floated, how come nobody bothered to check the other major currencies vs. the dollar and vs. gold? The dollar has traded higher as if on steroids since late-April. Gold was trading at $1360 in late April. Between now and then it has traded as low as $1170. The yuan began falling vs. dollar in late April. But so did the Swiss franc and yen. The euro began falling vs. the dollar in February.

The charts of the Swissy, euro and yen vs the yuan over the last 12 months are all largely flat over that time period. More to the point, the chart of gold vs all four of those currencies (yuan, Swissy, euro and yen) over the last 12 months looks very similar:

As the chart above shows, the price of gold in all four currencies – yen, yuan, euro, Swissy – has been correlated. The argument could be made that gold is “pegged” to any four of those currencies. The yen, euro, Swissy make up a large portion of the dollar index. Gold is thus not pegged to the yuan so much as it is trading inversely to the dollar,  which is expected.

The Trade War Is Not The Problem With The Global Economy

I chuckle when the hedge fund algos grab onto “positive” trade war headlines and trigger a sharp spike in stock futures.  Settlement of the trade war between the Trump Government and China will do nothing to prevent a global economic recession – a recession which will likely deteriorate into a painful depression.  The Central Bank “QE” maneuver was successful in camouflaging and deferring the symptoms of economic collapse.  Ironically, treatment of the symptoms made everyone feel better for a while but the money printing ultimately served only to exacerbate the underlying financial, fiscal, economic and social problems that blossomed after the internet/tech bubble popped.

Trade war “hope” headlines coughed up by Larry Kudlow last Friday morning were designed to offset the disappointing job report and sent the Dow up 156 points in the first 12 minutes of trading. But alas, the gravity of deteriorating systemic fundamentals took over and the Dow ended up down 558 points:

All three major indices closed below their key moving averages (21, 50, 200 dma). I wanted to show the chart of the Nasdaq because, as you can see, the 50 dma (yellow line) crossed below the 200 dma (red line) last week. This started to occur for the SPX on Thursday. The Dow’s 50 dma remains above its 200 dma, but that will likely change over the next few weeks.

The point here is that investors, at least large sophisticated investors, continue to use rallies to unload positions. The stock market has a long a way to fall before the huge disparity between valuations and fundamentals re-converges. This reality will not be altered even if Trump and China manage to reach some type of trade agreement. Nothing but a painful “reset” can correct the massive overload of fiat currency and debt that has flooded the global financial system over the last ten years.

I also believe that a massive credit market liquidity problem is slowly engulfing the system. This is a contributing factor in the yield curve inversion, which moved from the 3yr/5yr interval to the 2yr/5yr interval last week, thereby reflecting the market’s growing awareness of the percolating systemic problems. In 2008 the liquidity problem began with widespread sub-prime bond defaults and was compounded by derivatives connected to the sub-prime credit structures. This time, it appears as if the credit market problem is starting in the investment grade bond and leveraged bank/senior loan markets.

It was reported last week that $4 billion was removed from leveraged loan funds over the last three weeks. Although the loans are leveraged, these are typically senior secured “bank debt equivalent” loans. Money is leaving this segment of the loan market because of a growing perception that the leveraged senior loan market is becoming risky. Loan and bond investors are more risk-averse than stock investors. They thus tend to be more vigilant on the ability of debt borrowers to make loan payments.

Currently there’s a record high amount of triple-B rated corporate debt outstanding. This amount outstanding is higher than any other rating category. At some point, as the economy continues to weaken, a large percentage of this triple-B rated will be downgraded. Assuming cash continues to flee the loan market, and as a lot of low investment grade paper is moved into junk-rated territory, it will exert huge pressure on bond yields. It will also make it much harder for marginal credits to raise capital to stay alive.

General Electric losing access to the commercial paper market is an example of the market cutting off a source of liquidity to companies that need it. It’s also a great example of a company with a large amount of outstanding debt that is headed toward the junk bond pile (GE is one notch away from a junk rating – at one time it was a triple-A rated company). Ford is headed in the same direction – the stock of both companies trades below $10. If this is happening to a companies like GE and Ford, it will soon happen to smaller companies en masse.

The commentary above is an excerpt from the latest issue of the Short  Seller’s Journal.  Also included is an updated analysis on Tesla and why I am increasing my short exposure in the stock plus follow-up on my Vail Resorts (MTN) short presented a week earlier. You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal information.

 

Trump’s Trade War Dilemma And Gold

If the “risk on/risk off” stock market meme was absurd, its derivative – the “trade war on/trade war off” meme – is idiotic.  Over the last several weeks, the stock market has gyrated around media sound bytes, typically dropped by Trump,  Larry Kudlow or China,  which are suggestive of the degree to which Trump and China are willing to negotiate a trade war settlement.

Please do not make the mistake of believing that the fate the of the stock market hinges on whether or not Trump and China reach some type of trade deal.  The “trade war” is a “symptom” of an insanely overvalued stock market resting on a foundation of collapsing economic and financial fundamentals.  The trade war is the stock market’s “assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”

Trump’s Dilemma – The dollar index has been rising since Trump began his war on trade. But right now it’s at the same 97 index level as when Trump was elected. Recall that Trump’s administration pushed down the dollar from 97 to 88 to stimulate exports. After Trump was elected, gold was pushed down to $1160. It then ran to as high as $1360 – a key technical breakout level – by late April. In the meantime, since Trump’s trade war began, the U.S. trade deficit has soared to a record level.

If Trump wants to “win” the trade war, he needs to push the dollar a lot lower. This in turn will send the price of gold soaring. This means that the western Central Banks/BIS will have to live with a rising price gold, something I’m not sure they’re prepared accept – especially considering the massive paper derivative short position in gold held by the large bullion banks.  This could set up an interesting behind-the-scenes clash between Trump and the western banking elitists.

I’ve labeled this, “Trump’s Dilemma.” As anyone who has ever taken a basic college level economics course knows, the Law of Economics imposes trade-offs on the decision-making process (remember the “guns and butter” example?). The dilemma here is either a rising trade deficit for the foreseeable future or a much higher price of gold. Ultimately, the U.S. debt problem will unavoidably pull the plug on the dollar.  Ray Dalio believes it’s a “within 2 years” issue. I believe it’s a “within 12 months” issue.

Irrespective of the trade war, the dollar index level, interest rates and the price of gold,  the stock market is headed much lower.   This is because, notwithstanding the incessant propaganda which purports a “booming economy,” the economy is starting to collapse. The housing stocks foreshadow this, just like they did in 2005-2006:

The symmetry in the homebuilder stocks between mid-2005 to mid-2006 and now is stunning as is the symmetry in the nature of the underlying systemic economic and financial problems percolating – only this time it’s worse…

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The commentary above is a “derivative” of the type of analysis that precedes the presentation of investment and trade ideas in the Mining Stock and Short Seller’s Journals. To find out more about these newsletters, follow these links:  Short Seller’s Journal  information and more about the Mining Stock Journal here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

The Trade War Shuffle And The Fukushima Stock Market

The market is already fading quickly  from the turbo-boost it was given by the announcement that China and Trump reached a “truce” on Trump’s Trade War – whatever “truce” means.   Last week the stock market opened red or deeply red on several days, only to be saved by a combination of the repetitious good cop/bad bad cop routine between Trump and Kudlow with regard to the potential for a trade war settlement with China and what has been dubbed the introduction of the “Powell Put,” in reference to the speech on monetary policy given by Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday.

It’s become obvious to many that Trump predicates the “success” of his Presidency on the fate of the stock market. This despite the fact that he referred to the stock market as a “big fat ugly bubble” when he was campaigning.  The Dow was at 17,000 then. If it was a big fat ugly bubble back then, what is it now with the Dow at 25,700? If you ask me, it’s the stock market equivalent of Fukushima just before the nuclear facility’s melt-down.

Last week and today are a continuation of a violent short-squeeze, short-covering move as well as momentum chasing and a temporary infusion of optimism. I believe the market misinterpreted Powell’s speech. While he said the Fed would raise rates to “just below a neutral rate level,” he never specified the actual level of Fed Funds that the Fed would consider to be neutral (neither inflationary or too tight).

I believe the trade negotiations with China have an ice cube’s chance in hell of succeeding. The ability to artificially stimulate economic activity with a flood of debt has lost traction. The global economy, including and especially the U.S. economy (note: the DJ Home Construction index quickly went red after an opening gap up), is contracting. Trump and China will never reach an agreement on how to share the shrinking global economic pie.

While Trump might be able to temporarily bounce the stock market with misguided tweets reflecting trade war optimism, even he can’t successfully fight the Laws of Economics. His other war, the war on the Fed, will be his Waterloo. The Fed has no choice but to continue feigning a serious rate-hike policy. Otherwise the dollar will fall quickly and foreigners will balk at buying new Treasury issuance.

For now, Trump seems to think he can cut taxes and hike Government spending without limitation. But wait and see what happens to the long-end of the Treasury curve as it tries to absorb the next trillion in new Treasury issuance if the dollar falls off a cliff.  Currently, the U.S. Treasury is on a trajectory to issue somewhere between $1.7 trillion and $2 trillion in new bonds this year.

Despite the big move higher in the major stock indices, the underlying technicals of the stock market further deteriorated. For instance, every day last week many more stocks hit new 52-week lows than hit new 52-week highs on the NYSE. As an example, on Wednesday when the Dow jumped 618 points, there were 15 news 52-week lows vs just 1 new 52-week high. The Smart Money Flow index continues to head south, quickly.

For now it looks like the Dow is going to do another “turtle head” above its 50 dma (see the chart above) like the one in early November. The Dow was up as much as 442 points right after the open today, as amateur traders pumped up on the adrenaline of false hopes couldn’t buy stocks fast enough. As I write this, the Dow is up just 140 points. I suspect the smart money will once again come in the last hour and unload more shares onto poor day-traders doing their best impression of Oliver Twist groveling for porridge.

Silver, Trump’s Trade War, Mining Stocks And The Fed’s Gold

If you have gold, you have money – If you don’t have gold, you have a problem – Alisdair Macleod

With the massive net short position in both gold and silver Comex paper precious metals, offset by the historic net long position of the “commercials” (banks, mining companies, users, hedgers), numerous rumors are swirling around the precious metals market. For certain, the availability of physical gold bars in London that can be delivered to the large eastern hemisphere buyers who demand delivery is growing tight.  Apparently the retail silver coin/bar market is starting to feel supply strains.

Miles Franklin’s Chris Marcus invited me onto this podcast to discuss the precious metals markets, mining stocks, Trump’s Trade War and the status of the gold held in custody by the Fed on behalf of the American public:

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If you are interested in ideas for taking advantage of the inevitable systemic reset that  will hit the U.S. financial and economic system, check out either of these newsletters:  Short Seller’s Journal information and more about the Mining Stock Journal here:  Mining Stock Journal information.