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?”
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.
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)