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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Chuck Berry sings in “’Round and ’Round”:
“Well, the joint started rockin’
Goin’ round and round,
Yeah, reelin’ and a rockin’,
What a crazy sound,
Well, they never stopped rockin’,
’Till the moon went down”.



Many marketplace high priests enthusiastically proclaim proverbs on price relationships. For some heralds, these adages are only guidelines; however, for others, they represent high (or very high) probabilities. Such aphorisms include the links between the United States dollar and commodities “in general”, or between the US dollar and the S+P 500 or other stock indices. For example, one widely popular chant: “weak dollar equals strong commodities”, “strong dollar equals weak commodities”. For some, the word “equals” in this formula implies “is connected to”, or “associated with”.

Observers differ, often substantially, in their choice between as well as the assessment of the supposedly relevant variables (data, evidence) and analytical time horizons. Perspectives on past, current, and future convergence and divergence (lead/lag) relationships between financial marketplaces (and factors influencing them) likewise can vary significantly.

In practice, viewpoints regarding the role of the dollar in determining commodity price levels, trends, and turning points nevertheless differ, and often a great deal. After all, other financial marketplace realms (such as interest rates and stocks), diverse economic and political theaters, and a wide range of other phenomena interrelate with both the dollar (and other currencies) and assorted members of the commodities world. So a variety of competing stories and predictions about the dollar, commodities (whether in general or in regard to individual sectors such as petroleum or base metals), and other marketplaces exist and change.

Moreover, historical review indicates that trends for commodities “in general” can intertwine in various fashions with currencies (such as the United States dollar), as well as with interest rate benchmarks (picture the US 10 year government note), and stock playgrounds (the S+P 500 and related indices of advanced nations; emerging marketplace signposts). Moreover, marketplace history, whether for a given arena or the relationship between two or more fields, is not marketplace destiny.

For further related marketplace analysis of stock, interest rate, currency, and commodity fields, see other essays such as: “Global Stock Marketplaces: Winter of Discontent” (3/5/18); “There Will Be Blood: Financial Battlefields” (2/9/18); “Busload of Faith: Financial Marketplaces” (1/15/18); “Marketplace Vehicles: Going Mobile” (12/13/17); “History on Stage: Marketplace Scenes” (8/9/17).


In any case, let’s now focus on the historical relationship between the broad real trade-weighted US dollar (“TWD”) and commodities in general over the past several years. The table below underlines that players should be on the watch for a fairly close coincidence in timing of major or other important turning points in those two wide realms. However, in the current context, they also should monitor TWD moves in relation to the critical height around 96.0. The broad real trade-weighted US dollar (“TWD”) recently fell decisively beneath crucial support around 96.2 to 96.6. The broad real TWD high during the global financial disaster was March 2009’s 96.6.


What does an investigation of the petroleum, base metals, and agricultural commodity groups since their first quarter 2016 major lows unveil? Many marketplace turns have occurred around the same time. All these commodity battlefields made important highs in first quarter 2018; so did the S+P 500 and other important advanced nation and emerging marketplace stock indices.

Yet not all commodity sectors (or members within a group) necessarily dance (make turns) together. In principle and practice, potential divergence can develop and persist within the commodity universe.

However, whereas petroleum arguably very recently threatened to exceed its 1Q18 barriers, base metals and agriculture apparently did not. Determined and sustained crude oil output restraint by OPEC and its non-OPEC allies such as Russia has helped to draw down OECD petroleum industry inventories. Fears of supply interruption (Middle East tension, including the Iran nuclear issue; Libya; Nigeria; Venezuela) exist. Numerous prophets assert the world economy will remain robust. The further weakening of the dollar since around mid-year 2017 has inspired some petroleum bulls.

The net noncommercial long position of petroleum players (see the CFTC Commitments of Traders) expanded massively since mid-2017, and this net noncommercial buying probably played an important role in rallying oil prices. It remains very large and is vulnerable to liquidation.

Prices for the oil group probably will not break above their first quarter 2018 highs by much if at all. Neither will broad commodity indices such as the broad S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index or the Bloomberg Commodity Index. The 1Q18 peaks in the S+P 500 and MXEF stock indices are two year diagonal bull time moves from their 1Q16 major troughs. The GSCI and BCI’s first quarter 2018 highs likewise are two year diagonal ascents from their major bottoms of 1Q16.

Yet suppose the petroleum complex does attain new highs relative to those of 1Q18. As petroleum is an important part of many widely-watched commodity signposts (especially the broad S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index), that may boost such broad indices to levels above first quarter resistance.

It is important whether or not the base metals crew (copper, aluminum, zinc, and others) also achieves new highs, for both base metals and oil link closely to international economic growth trends (and arguably more “immediately” than agriculture does).

Many major highs (lows) for commodities “in general” have roughly coincided with major peaks (bottoms) in the S+P 500. But not all have. The 2007-2009 global economic disaster era displayed an exception. The major high in the S+P 500 (10/11/07 at 1576) preceded the GSCI’s pinnacle (7/3/08 at 894). However, the S+P 500’s final top, 5/19/08’s 1440, bordered the July 2018 commodities summit.


Regardless of whether or not key commodity indices achieve highs above their first quarter 2018 plateau, the first quarter 2018 resistance for the S+P 500 and other advanced and emerging marketplace equity benchmarks probably will remain in place. As “There Will Be Blood: Financial Battlefields” (2/9/18) stated: “The S+P 500’s recent high, 1/26/18’s 2873, probably was a major top.”

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As the Financial World Turns- Commodity and Other Marketplace Domains (4-2-18)

CHINA: BEHIND THE GREAT WALL (c) Leo Haviland June 7, 2016

“Seek truth from facts.” Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping


China’s era of miraculous economic growth has marched into history. Yet China’s real GDP output in the past few years, and even 2015, has been robust in comparison to that of most other nations. The majority of international financial wizards faithfully proclaim that Chinese GDP likely will remain strong, at over six percent for the next several years.

China’s GDP strength over the past three or four years nevertheless derived significantly from its widespread national willingness to boost debt (leverage) levels substantially. This significant debt expansion coincides with the current unwillingness or inability of the nation’s political and economic leadership to do much to subdue the debt issue. China’s continued debt building (perhaps assisted by other factors) perhaps will achieve its praiseworthy growth levels, at least for a while.

And trend shifts during first quarter 2016 in various stock (both advanced and emerging), interest rate, currency, and commodity marketplaces (particularly dramatic rallies in the S+P 500 and the petroleum complex) inspire optimism regarding global growth prospects. Despite potential for small rate increases by the widely-admired Federal Reserve, monetary policy in America and elsewhere likely will remain highly accommodative, thereby assisting expansion in developed nations and China.


However, review the patterns in China’s stock, central government 10 year note, and currency marketplaces. Those domains, when interpreted together and alongside a broad array of other key global financial marketplaces, not just the S+P 500 and oil, on balance nowadays suggest Chinese growth over the next few years probably will be less than most gurus expect. In today’s interconnected economic world, slower than anticipated Chinese economic expansion probably will be reflected by more sluggish growth elsewhere than generally forecast.

Politics and economics entangle in both advanced and emerging/developing nations. China’s political elite (notably its Communist party chiefs) seeks to ensure its own power and overall national political, economic, and social stability. Insufficient GDP growth and related widespread popular fears regarding income levels and economic inequality probably endangers these goals.

What do the political rhetoric and actions over the past few years (including recently) by China’s leaders reflect? Quite significantly, they portray increasing concern about their nation’s current and prospective economic situation, particularly its growth level and outlook.

To deflect and dilute growing popular concern about a weakening economic situation (slowdown; feebler growth than desired), and to maintain their political power and influence, China’s political leaders have acted vigorously on both the external and internal fronts. In the foreign sphere, they increasingly quarrel with other nations; on the internal landscape, efforts to control political and other social activities and dialogue have increased. These policies from China’s authorities tend to confirm the trends of slowing Chinese (and global) growth.

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China- Behind the Great Wall (6-7-16)



In the commodities constellation, base metals such as aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, and tin usually attract much less attention than the alluring stars of the petroleum complex. Nevertheless, base metals hold an important position in the global economic universe. Not only are they especially important for the economies of many emerging/developing countries (think of China, a huge base metals consumer), but also for several so-called advanced nations.

Of course history is not destiny. However, history reveals that major moves (trend changes) in the base metals complex (use the London Metal Exchange’s base metal index, “LMEX”, as a benchmark) nevertheless can offer important guidance for significant shifts in other marketplaces. Often LMEX major moves precede those in other financial realms.

The bear marketplace trend for base metals “in general” began in early 2011 and accelerated in 2014 and 2015. Base metals established an important bottom in mid-January 2016. This occurred alongside, though shortly before, troughs in commodities in general (and the petroleum complex in particular) and key lows in the S+P 500 and emerging marketplace stocks. The LMEX bottom also preceded the peak in the trade-weighted United States dollar and a significant yield low in the US Treasury 10 year note.

Emerging and developed countries closely interconnect in today’s international economy. So the base metals price rally since its first quarter 2016 low helped to spark optimism about improved global economic growth. However, the upward walk in base metals has been very modest compared to the sharp petroleum climb. In addition, recent LMEX highs roughly coincide with the April 2016 ones in the S+P 500 and emerging marketplace stocks. And US Treasury note yields have slipped lower since mid-March. Suppose noteworthy renewed weakness in base metals appears, with 1Q16 lows challenged or broken. This probably would signal (confirm) further slowing in real GDP expansion rates not only in China, but around the globe.


Admittedly, in a review of several very important marketplace domains during the 2007-09 global economic crisis era, a notable time lag between the achievement of a crucial price point turning level (major high/major low) in a given arena in relation to those of various other arenas sometimes appears. Nevertheless, many significant trend changes in the LMEX base metal index, the broad Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, emerging marketplace stocks “in general”, the S+P 500, the broad real trade-weighted dollar, and the US Treasury 10 year note occurred around roughly the same time. Given the preceding analysis of the 2011-present period, this underscores the importance of watching base metals as a guide to (confirming indicator for) significant trend changes in these financial arenas.

The LMEX’s lofty May 2007 pinnacle preceded major highs in the broad GSCI (7/3/08 at 894), MXEF (11/1/07 at 1345), S+P 500 (10/11/07; 1576), and Shanghai Composite Index (10/16/07 at 6124), as well as the broad real trade-weighted dollar’s April 2008 major bottom. The LMEX’s high in early February 2011 also occurred prior to (although not long before) major peaks in the broad GSCI and MXEF. And quite significantly, the LMEX’s March and July 2008 very important secondary tops occurred close in time to the major low in the TWD, the final highs in the S+P 500 (5/19/08; 1440) and MXEF (5/19/08 at 1253), and the broad GSCI’s peak. In addition, the LMEX’s December 2008 major low occurred relatively near in time to turns in these marketplaces.

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Base Metals and Other Marketplace Travels (5-16-16)


Base metals such as aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, and tin capture far fewer headlines than the alluring stars of the petroleum complex. Nevertheless, base metals play an important position in the global economic game. Base metals are very significant not only to the economies of emerging/developing countries (think of China), but also to numerous so-called advanced nations. Despite assorted twists and turns, base metals “in general” (use the London Metal Exchange’s base metal index, “LMEX”, as a benchmark) have been in a bear path since early 2011. The renewed price meltdown in base metals over the past several months underscores recent and probable future slowdowns in real GDP growth rates in developing nations such as China. However, as emerging and developed nations closely interconnect in today’s international economy, base metal weakness probably also points to reductions in future output rates for advanced nations.

In the 2007-09 global economic crisis era and its aftermath up to the present, many significant trend changes in base metals, gold, the broad Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (and the petroleum complex), and the emerging marketplace stocks arena “in general” have occurred around roughly the same time.

The broad real trade-weighted United States dollar’s trend does not lock base metals prices, or those of any other playground, into a particular pattern. Nevertheless, the gradual strengthening of the dollar since mid-2011 roughly intertwines with the large bear move in base metals, gold’s bloody stumble since its September 2011 peak, and monumental declines in the broad GSCI (and the petroleum complex).

Emerging marketplace stocks in general, like benchmarks for base metals and commodities in general, have slumped in recent months. Further declines in the LMEX and the broad GSCI, especially when accompanied by US dollar rallies, will be a bearish warning sign (confirmation) for emerging marketplace stocks. Further noteworthy erosion in emerging marketplace stock prices likewise will be ominous for stock marketplaces of advanced nations.

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The Metals Marketplace Game-Touching Base (March 16, 2015)