GLOBAL ECONOMICS AND POLITICS

Leo Haviland provides clients with original, provocative, cutting-edge fundamental supply/demand and technical research on major financial marketplaces and trends. He also offers independent consulting and risk management advice.

Haviland’s expertise is macro. He focuses on the intertwining of equity, debt, currency, and commodity arenas, including the political players, regulatory approaches, social factors, and rhetoric that affect them. In a changing and dynamic global economy, Haviland’s mission remains constant – to give timely, value-added marketplace insights and foresights.

Leo Haviland has three decades of experience in the Wall Street trading environment. He has worked for Goldman Sachs, Sempra Energy Trading, and other institutions. In his research and sales career in stock, interest rate, foreign exchange, and commodity battlefields, he has dealt with numerous and diverse financial institutions and individuals. Haviland is a graduate of the University of Chicago (Phi Beta Kappa) and the Cornell Law School.


 

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CRITICAL CONDITIONS AND ECONOMIC TURNING POINTS © Leo Haviland February 5, 2020

“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”, a Mickey Newbury song performed by Kenny Rogers

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CONCLUSION

With the passage of time following 2007-09’s global economic disaster, memories regarding the accompanying bloody bear trend in America’s stock marketplace benchmarks such as the S+P 500 gradually yet significantly faded. As the S+P 500 ascended, and especially as it advanced to and sustained record highs, widespread sermons declared that we should “buy the dip”. This aligned with the venerable proverb regarding the reasonableness of buying and holding United States stocks for the “long run”. What constitutes a “dip” or the “long run” is debatable, a matter of subjective perspective (opinion). How substantial a drop from some key elevation justifies buying? Is it one percent, five percent, ten percent, or twenty percent or greater? Is the long run one year, five years, or ten or more?
Of course since the S+P 500’s major bottom on 3/6/09 at 667, a few bloody stock price slides in that signpost (and “related” global equity yardsticks) terrified stock “investors” and their allies, including central banks such as the Federal Reserve, American politicians, and the financial media. Yet as the S+P 500 achieved a record height quite recently with 1/22/20’s 3338 (2/5/20’s level matched this), such advice definitely looked excellent to many stock owners and observers! Besides, as they have numerous times over the past eleven years, won’t beloved central bank physicians such as the Federal Reserve Board (under the guise of fulfilling their mandate), European Central Bank, the Bank of England, China’s central bank, and the Bank of Japan rescue stocks and generate rallies in them? Not only soothing rhetoric, but also yield repression and quantitative easing (money printing) remain antidotes for stock price drops, right? And politicians might assist via new tax cuts, boosts in infrastructure spending, or similar schemes. Thus the majority of US stock marketplace players have focused more on the rewards of owning than the dangers of doing so. Substantial complacency reigns regarding the potential for noteworthy American and other stock marketplace price declines.

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The recent emergence within China of a deadly coronavirus and its spread elsewhere around the globe helped to push US and other equities downhill. Whether this medical problem will injure the S+P 500 and other global stocks significantly (and for a sustained period of time) remains uncertain. Government actions to prevent the spread of the virus will tend to hamper economic growth. Fearful consumers and nervous corporations may slow their spending. The wider the reach and the longer the persistence of the ailment, the greater the economic damage. And economic (financial) weapons such as money printing and yield repression available to the Fed and its friends obviously do not halt epidemics or cure diseases (or fears of them).Though the S+P 500 descended to 3215 on 1/31/20, the index recovered, touching 3338 again on 2/5/20.

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Critical Conditions and Economic Turning Points (2-5-20)

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: US AND OTHER GOVERNMENT NOTE TRENDS © Leo Haviland January 6, 2020

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.” T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Burnt Norton”

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CONCLUSION

Since summer 2016, the marketplace yield trends for government 10 year notes of the United States and many of its key trading partners generally have resembled each other. Given today’s interconnected global economy, the crucial role of the United States within it, and the roughly similar central bank policy strategies for these nations, this pattern probably will continue.

Over the past three and one-half years, at times some moderate divergence appeared within that group. For example, yield highs for China’s 10 year government note (11/27/17’s 4.04 percent) and the German Bund (2/8/18’s .81 percent) preceded America’s critical yield top on 10/9/18 at 3.26 percent. But even when yield highs (lows) occurred at different times for some sovereigns relative to others, directional shifts in yield for the entire group tended to happen around the same time. Thus China’s 9/21/18 interim high at 3.71 percent and Germany’s on 10/10/18 at .58pc align with the UST yield pinnacle on 10/9/18.

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The United States Treasury 10 year note yield completed a triple bottom during this era. Recall 7/5/12’s 1.38 percent trough. Then see 7/6/16’s 1.32 percent major low and 9/3/19’s 1.43pc. September 2019’s UST depth probably commenced an extended period of rising government (as well as other) interest rates for America and its important trading partners “in general”. Widespread and determined devotion by leading central banks to a gospel of sufficient inflation (the Federal Reserve’s two percent target is a key benchmark) and adequate GDP growth (and low unemployment) encourages this. Given America’s great importance within the world economy, its large current national debt and looming massive future fiscal deficits tend to propel UST interest rates (and thus American corporate yields) upward, and thereby help to raise government yields of many of its global trading partners.

Current central bank caution (including maintaining some yield repression and quantitative easing/money printing) may inhibit a rapid and large yield ascent for the US Treasury 10 year and its companions. In addition, rate climbs for the assorted 10 year government notes will not all necessarily be the same in distance or speed terms. And fearful “flights to quality” at times can depress government debt yields of “safe haven” nations such as America and Germany. For America’s 10 year Treasury note, significant resistance exists around two percent.

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Ringing in the New Year- US and Other Government Note Trends (1-6-20)

EMERGING MARKETS, COMMODITIES, BITCOIN, AND THE S+P 500: TRAVELS AND SIGNS © Leo Haviland December 3, 2019

The movie “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (Sydney Pollack, director) depicts a Depression Era dance contest marathon with a noteworthy monetary prize for the winning couple left standing. The master of ceremonies declares: “And believe me, these wonderful kids [the “kids” are all adults] deserve your cheers, because each one of them is fighting down pain, exhaustion, weariness, struggling to keep going, battling to win. And isn’t that the American Way?”

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OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION

Since around first quarter 2018, the price trends in emerging marketplace stocks “in general” and emerging marketplace sovereign debt securities in general have made important highs and lows at roughly the same time. Thus, for example, around year-end 2018, prices (not yields) for sovereign emerging marketplace bonds attained important lows (yields had been rising) alongside troughs in emerging marketplace stocks. United States high-yield corporate bonds have moved in a similar pattern over that time span. Key commodity sectors such as the petroleum complex and base metals likewise have established important highs (lows) around the same time as those in emerging marketplace equities and sovereign debt. The timing of these assorted shifts of course is not always exactly the same, only approximately so. 

Unlike emerging marketplace stocks, during calendar 2018 and calendar 2019, America’s S+P 500 has marched to new highs. Despite this price divergence, many key turns in the interim trends for the S+P 500 occurred “around” the same time as those in emerging marketplace stocks, as well as in emerging sovereign marketplace debt (in both dollar-denominated and local currency arenas), US high-yield corporate bonds, and commodities. 

As the S+P 500 was sinking lower in late 2018, the Federal Reserve Board lifeguard jumped to the rescue and unveiled its monetary “patience” doctrine. It cut the Federal Funds rate three times during calendar 2019. Central banking allies such as the European Central Bank enhanced or maintained existing easy money schemes. Beginning around end-year 2018, this accommodative monetary policy (encouraged by widespread negative yields in advanced nation government debt domains), inspired waves of “investors” (speculators, traders) to hunt, more avidly than ever, for sufficient (good, reasonable, acceptable) “yields” (“returns”) in other provinces. These districts around the globe included emerging marketplace securities, high-yielding corporate debt, and even commodities. 

The exciting cryptocurrency frontier, which includes stars such as Bitcoin, attracts interest from assorted financial pioneers and the economic media (and even central bankers at times). In the opinion of some observers, Bitcoin belongs to some variety of “asset” class. In any case, since “around” first quarter 2018, despite Bitcoin’s wild price adventures, critical turns in its price action have occurred around the same time as in emerging marketplace securities, high-yield US business debt, commodities (petroleum and base metals), and even the S+P 500. 

During 2019, the S+P 500 continued its heavenly climb. Nevertheless, at various points during calendar 2019, emerging marketplace securities, US corporate debt, commodities, and Bitcoin established interim highs and began to retreat. For example, note Brent/North Sea crude oil’s 4/25/19 summit at $75.60 (S+P 500 interim top 5/1/19 at 2954). Thus the run-up in these asset prices which commenced around end calendar 2018/early calendar 2019 probably is over. 

Significantly, emerging marketplace stock, emerging marketplace sovereign debt securities, high-yield US corporate debt, and petroleum and base metals (still “trading together”) renewed their price declines in September 2019. Take a look at Bitcoin too. Given that global economic (and political) spheres intertwine, this pattern signals a top in the S+P 500 and the probability that the S+P 500 (and other advanced nation stock battlefields) will decline alongside (converge with ongoing bearish price patterns in) emerging marketplace securities and related domains such as commodities. 

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The United States dollar, as measured by its broad real effective exchange rate, has remained sufficiently strong to be a factor tending to undermine prices in dollar-denominated emerging marketplace sovereign debt securities as well as dollar-denominated emerging marketplace corporate debt instruments. Rising dollar-denominated yields, especially as the United States dollar generally has remained strong in recent months, tends to push emerging marketplace equity prices lower. Related to this, prices also gradually have fallen since early September 2019 in the US Treasury 10 year note (low yield 1.43 percent on 9/3/19). Also, US corporate earnings have been relatively flat for calendar 2019 year-on-year, suggesting that the joyous tax “reform” enacted at end calendar 2017 is losing power and thus the capability to propel the S+P 500 even higher. Even if America and China agree on a partial trade deal in the near future, will trade conflicts involving them and others disappear? 

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Emerging Markets, Commodities, Bitcoin, and the S+P 500- Travels and Signs (12-3-19)

TRADE WARS AND CURRENCY TRENDS IN THE TRUMP ERA © Leo Haviland November 7, 2019

“All I ever asked for was an unfair advantage”, said an oil trader to me many years ago.

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The United States dollar, as measured by its broad real effective exchange rate, probably has started a bear trend and will decline a notable amount from its recent high.

The United States dollar’s glorious bull charge has lasted for a very long time, over eight years, dating back to July 2011. Marketplace history is not marketplace destiny, but the duration of and the distance travelled in the dollar rally is comparable to other extensive ones of the past few decades.

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Trade Wars and Currency Trends in the Trump Era (11-7-19)