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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“I have been passing my life in guessing what I might meet with beyond the next hill, or around the next corner.” Wellington, the British military commander who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo (“Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations”, ed. Robert Heinl, Jr.)
Cultural observers differ in their subjective perspectives, arguments, and conclusions regarding economic phenomena, including the prices of and variables relating to interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, commodity, real estate, and other marketplaces. They consequently develop and express a variety of personal views as to whether a given financial price or price relationship level (or trend), or an economic (commercial; business) or political situation substantially relevant to them, has reached or soon will attain a very important point or stage. Thus figuratively speaking, a marketplace (its level and trend) or an economic (or political scene) is or shortly will be at a crossroads. For example, the S+P 500, inflation, Federal Reserve policy, or the American federal fiscal situation can arrive at a crossroads.
Looking forward, people ask “what will happen from here?” People devotedly select, review, and weigh information to ascertain (develop personal opinions regarding) probabilities for a range of potential outcomes in the aftermath of this key situation. They differ in their views of “the” past and “the” present. In their forecasting (risk evaluation) process, some sentinels analyze the distance and duration a given price move has traveled or eventually (potentially) may move. In various fashions, prophets assess perceived interrelationships between interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, and other marketplaces.
Hence competitive financial arenas fill with diverse and enthusiastic bulls and bears (and neutral players) talking and acting in a variety of ways. Arrays of investors and speculators and traders and hedgers and risk managers ardently promote and behave according to competing viewpoints and probability assessments. Typically, each player views its own subjective analysis and outlook as “reasonable”, and probably at least as reasonable (intelligent, rational) as that of others. Consequently, we hear fervent rhetoric and see artful pictures relating not only to probabilities, but also patterns and trends, support and resistance, critical levels and turning points, breakout and breakdown, continuation and reversal, convergence and divergence, and lead and lags.
Many believe that some cultural situations are more difficult to predict than others. In any case, imagine future hypothetical (potential) events regarding a given marketplace (such as the S+P 500 or the United States Treasury 10 year note) or a particular economic or political battlefield (such as “the” US or global economy; American political wars). For some particular potential outcomes (including a related process creating it), many marketplace warriors will label the result as unlikely or very unlikely or unusual (against the odds; having little chance), or even unreasonable, irrational, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, astounding, surprising, crazy, impossible, and so forth.
Nevertheless, cultural history, including that of marketplaces, of course evidences that what many (or even the great majority of) clairvoyants viewed as very unlikely to occur indeed has happened. So in practice, many scouts look out for and consider so-called “tail risks” (subjectively highly unlikely outcomes) to some degree. A trader once said: “In commodities, the impossible happens at least once a year.” Besides, what will be highly unlikely or surprising to one cultural observer may not be so to another.
Let’s review several financial marketplaces which appear to be at or near a crossroads.
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Marketplace Crossroads (9-4-23)
A character in the film “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” reasons: “Now look, let’s be sensible about this thing. There’s money in this for all of us. Right? There’s enough for you, there’s enough for you, and for me, and for you, and there’s enough for…” [They all race to their cars]. (Stanley Kramer, director)
Sustained rising United States Treasury interest rates and a strong US dollar have played critical roles in creating the January 2022 price peak for and subsequent declines in the S+P 500. Increasing yields not only in America but also within emerging marketplaces, as well as the powerful dollar, assisted the construction of the earlier high (around February 2021) for emerging marketplace stocks in general. The ongoing UST and other yield climbs of recent months alongside the strong dollar have reestablished long run price and time convergence between the S+P 500 and emerging marketplace equities. The major trend toward higher US and other rates, alongside the high US dollar, and interrelating with the downward trends in the S+P 500 (and other advanced nation stocks) and emerging marketplace equities, probably have created summits for commodities “in general”.
The price spike in commodities (enlist the broad S&P GSCI as a benchmark) beginning in December 2021/early 2022 of course underscored inflationary fears, which assisted the rise in interest rates, thus helping to precipitate down moves in the S+P 500 and other stock marketplaces. However, the rising UST (and international) yield trend and strong dollar situation preceded the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.
For a long time, yield repression by the Federal Reserve and its central banking friends created negative real returns relative to inflation for US Treasury and many other global debt securities. This very easy money policy (assisted by gigantic money printing/quantitative easing) and enormous US (and other) government deficit spending (especially after the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020) generated enthusiastic quests for yield (adequate return) by investors and other traders in stocks, lower-quality debt instruments (such as corporate and emerging marketplace sovereign bonds), and commodities. This helped to produce monumental bull trends in these playgrounds. Wall Street and the financial media eagerly promoted the reasonableness of these yield hunts. The sleepy Fed watchdog and other virtuous central bankers were long complacent about inflationary dangers, labeling inflationary signs as temporary, transitory, the result of supply bottlenecks, and so forth. Nowadays, these more vigilant guardian bankers, alarmed by the highest inflation in several decades, have commenced a rate-raising campaign.
Thus the sunny “search for yield” landscape for the S+P 500 and associated stock, debt, and many commodity marketplaces has darkened. An anxious “run for cover” liquidation of assets by many investors and other owners probably has been underway. Compared to the time just prior to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic (and the 2007-09 global economic crisis), the Federal Reserve (and other central bankers) and the American and other national governments probably have much less ability to readily rescue the S+P 500 and other “search for yield” marketplaces.
Previous essays noted that the S+P 500 probably peaked on 1/4/22 at 4819. Looking forward, the S+P 500 probably will venture significantly beneath 5/2/22’s 4063 low. The bear trend in emerging stock marketplaces will continue. Over the long run, given the American (and global) inflation and debt situation, the yield for the US Treasury 10 year note probably will ascend above its recent high around three percent, although occasional “flights to quality (safe havens)” and thus interim yield declines may emerge. Remember that the dollar rallied from April 2008 to March 2009, alongside the S+P 500’s collapse from its important mid-May 2018 interim high (S+P 500 major high October 2007) to its major bottom in March 2009. However, and although it is a difficult call, the current bull trend for the United States real Broad Dollar Index probably will attain its summit in the near future. Commodities in general (spot; nearest futures basis) probably made a major high in early March 2022 and will continue to retreat, although there may be brief price leaps above previous tops in “have-to-have” (very low inventory) situations.
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Running for Cover- Financial Marketplace Adventures (5-3-22)