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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In “Satisfaction”, The Rolling Stones sing: “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
CONCLUSION AND OVERVIEW
“Economic” confidence and satisfaction levels and trends interrelate with patterns of and anticipations regarding “economic” performance. These variables entangle with and influence price trends in stocks and other financial marketplaces. Thus consumer (Main Street) confidence and similar measures can confirm, lead (or lag), or be an omen for future movements in GDP, inflation, the S+P 500, interest rates, and so on.
Declines in American economic confidence in recent times confirm deterioration in the nation’s (and global) economic condition. The severity of those confidence slumps probably warns of further ongoing economic challenges in the future. These looming difficulties include not only the perpetuation of relatively high inflation for quite some time, but also slowing and perhaps even falling GDP growth. Since America is a leading economic nation in the intertwined global economy, what happens there substantially influences and reflects economic performance elsewhere.
Regarding and within cultural fields, definitions, propositions, interpretations, arguments, and conclusions are subjective (opinions). So-called “economic” (financial, commercial, business) arenas and analysis regarding them are not objective (scientific). In any case, as they are cultural phenomena, economic realms are not isolated from “political” and “social” ones. They interrelate with them, and sometimes very substantially.
Evidence of substantial (and in recent times, increasing) “overall” (including but not necessarily limited to political or economic) dissatisfaction within America are not unique to that country. However, since overall and political measures of declining confidence within and regarding the United States both include and extend beyond the economic battleground, at present they consequently probably corroborate current and herald upcoming economic troubles (economic weakness; still rather lofty inflation) for the US.
Marketplace history is not marketplace destiny, either entirely or even partly. Relationships between marketplaces and variables can change, sometimes dramatically. Nevertheless, keep in mind that if prices for assorted “search for yield (return)” marketplaces such as stocks (picture the S+P 500) and lower-grade debt can climb “together” (roughly around the same time), they also can retreat together.
“Runs for cover” in recent months increasingly have replaced “searches for yield” in the global securities playground by worried “investors” and other nervous owners. Price declines in American and other stock marketplaces have interrelated with higher yields for (price slumps in) corporate debt securities and emerging marketplace sovereign US dollar-denominated notes and bonds.
The devastating price collapse in Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies surely has dismayed many yield-hunters on Main Street.
Declines in American confidence and satisfaction assist and confirm the price falls in recent months in the S+P 500 and other “search for yield” playgrounds such as corporate and low-grade sovereign debt. Thus confidence destruction has interrelated with capital destruction (loss of money) by “investors” and other owners) in stock and interest rate securities marketplaces. From the historical perspective, slumps in as well as very low levels for some of the confidence (“happiness”; optimism) indicators probably signal further price drops in the S+P 500 and interconnected search for yield marketplaces.
The beloved Federal Reserve and its central banking friends finally recognized that consumer price inflation is not a temporary or transitory phenomenon and have elected to raise policy rates (end, or at least reduce, yield repression) and shrink their bloated balance sheets. Yet inflation probably will not drop significantly for some time. Besides, how much faith exists that the Federal Reserve will (or can) control and even reduce consumer price inflation anytime soon? How much trust should we place in the Fed’s abilities? The Fed helped to create inflation (and not just in consumer prices, but also in assets) via its sustained massive money printing and ongoing yield repression, and the Fed did not quickly perceive the extent and durability of consumer price inflation.
Long run history shows that significantly rising American interest rates for benchmarks such as the US Treasury 10 year note lead to bear marketplaces in the S+P 500.The US stock marketplace has declined significantly since its January 2022 peak. Home price appreciation, a key factor pleasing many consumers, probably will decelerate, and perhaps even cease. The Ukraine/Russia war continues to drag on. Despite recent declines from lofty heights, prices for commodities in general remain elevated from the pre-war perspective. Global government debt is substantial, and fearsome long-run debt problems for America and many other countries beckon. American and international GDP growth has slowed. Stagflation and even recession fears have increased. The coronavirus problem, though less terrifying, has not disappeared.
Therefore many American Main Street confidence indicators probably will decline, or at least remain relatively weak, over at least the next several months.
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We Can't Get No Satisfaction- Cultural Trends and Financial Marketplaces (7-13-22)
“All I ever asked for was an unfair advantage”, said an oil trader to me many years ago.
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)
“All poker is a form of social Darwinism: the fit survive, the weak go broke.” A. Alvarez, “The Biggest Game in Town”
OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION
The Bank for International Settlements provides broad real effective exchange rates (“EER”) for numerous currencies around the globe. Within the BIS statistics are several nations who are important exporters of widely-traded commodities such as petroleum, base and precious metals, and agricultural products such as soybeans. Concentrating on and comparing the broad real effective exchange rates of eight freely-traded currencies widely labeled as “commodity currencies” offers insight into assorted interrelated financial marketplace relationships. The overall patterns of this array of assorted export-related commodity currencies often has intertwined in various ways with very significant trends in broad commodity indices such as the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (“GSCI”) and the Bloomberg Commodity Index (“BCI”), the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar (“TWD”), emerging marketplace stocks in general (as well as the S+P 500), and key interest rate benchmarks such as the 10 year US Treasury note.
In assessing and interpreting the role of and implications indicated by the commodity currency platoon in financial battlefields, marketplace guides should highlight several preliminary considerations. The various commodity currencies (“CC”) do not all move at precisely the same time or travel the same percentage distance in a given direction. Although they generally move roughly together within an overall major trend for the group, an individual member may venture in a different direction for quite some time. Although the path in recent months of the various CCs “together” generally has been sideways, their individual movements have not been identical.
Of course the various commodity currency countries are not all alike. So a given guru can tell somewhat different stories about each of them and their currency. Not all CC nations are equally important within the international trade arena. The various domains do not rely to the same extent on commodities within their export packages. And not all are reliant on a given commodity sector (such as petroleum) as part of their commodity output. Some CC nations produce notable amounts of manufactured goods. In addition, some countries probably are more vulnerable to currency and trade wars than others.
Moreover, the intertwined relationships between currencies (whether the CC EERs or others such as the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar), commodities “in general”, stock marketplaces (advanced nation signposts such as the S+P 500; the emerging marketplace field in general), and interest rates can and do change. Relationships between CC EERs and the broad real trade-weighted dollar (“TWD”) can shift. The TWD’s intertwining and relationship to interest rate, equity, and commodities in general is complex. In addition, although subjective perspectives identify apparent convergence and divergence (lead/lag) relationships between financial territories, these connections (links, associations) can alter, sometimes substantially. Marketplace history is not marketplace destiny, whether entirely or even partly.
Commodities “in general” surpassed their first quarter 2017 peaks in first quarter 2018 (and April 2018), rapidly climbing from a notable mid-year 2017 trough. The majority of commodity currencies established an EER top in (or around) 1Q17. In contrast to commodities in general, the effective exchange rates of the various commodity currency club members either have not exceeded that top established in (around) 1Q17, or have not done so by much. In addition, the CC group’s EERs generally did not climb much, if at all, from around mid-year 2017. This CC EER pattern (some divergence from commodities in general) warns that a significant top in commodities probably is near. In the past, highs for the commodity currency EERs linked to highs for commodities in general.
Relevant to this marketplace viewpoint regarding the commodity currency EERs and commodities “in general” is the upward trend in US Treasury note yields. Recall not only the major bottom in the UST 10 year note around 1.32 percent on 7/6/16, but especially underline for the CC (and global stock marketplaces) the yield climb from its 9/8/17 interim trough at just over two percent. The Federal Reserve Board has been raising the Federal Funds rate and gradually reducing the size of its bloated balance sheet. The UST 10 year note broke out in first quarter 2018 above critical resistance at 2.65pc; the UST 10 year recently bordered 1/2/14’s 3.05pc barrier (3.03pc on 4/25/18; the two year UST note also has climbed, reaching 2.50pc on 4/25/18). Also supporting this outlook for commodities is the 1Q18 peak in the S+P 500 (1/26/18 at 2873) and the MSCI Emerging Stock Markets Index (from Morgan Stanley; “MXEF”; 1/29/18 at 1279).
Yield repression (very low and even negative interest rates) promotes eager hunts for yields (return) elsewhere. These include buying commodities as an “asset class”. What happens to commodities when key central banks begin to end their beloved yield repression schemes, or hint that they will do so?
Marketplace history indeed shows that sometimes there has been divergence between commodities “in general” and stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500 for a while. Recall the 2007-09 global economic disaster era. The S+P 500 peaked 10/11/07 at 1576 (MXEF summit 11/1/07 at 1345), prior to the broad GSCI’s pinnacle in July 2008 (7/3/08 at 894). Yet recall that the July 2008 GSCI peak occurred close in time to the noteworthy S+P 500 interim high on 5/19/08 at 1440, as well as the lower S+P 500 tops of 8/11/08 (1313) and 9/19/08 (1265). And note the timing linkage between the broad GSCI and S+P 500 in the past couple of years. Not only did they make major lows around the same time in first quarter 2016 (broad GSCI at 268 on 1/20/16; S+P 500 on 1/20/16 at 1812 and 2/11/16 at 1810). They both accelerated upward in their bull moves around the same time in mid-year 2017; the GSCI low was 351 on 6/21/17, with that in the S+P 500 6/29/17’s 2406 (8/21/17 at 2417). The broad GSCI slumped from its initial high at 466 on 1/25/18, which linked to the S+P 500’s high on 1/26/18; although the GSCI since has hopped over its 1Q18 interim top, it thus far has not done so by much (480 on 4/19/18).
Thus the failure of the EERs for the CC group as a whole to advance much over the past year and especially since mid-year 2017 (with no decisive overall new highs for the group in general in 1Q18) probably has implications for both commodity and equity trends.
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Commodity Currencies in Context- a Financial Warning Sign (5-1-18)