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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US ELECTION 2016: ROLLING AND TUMBLING © Leo Haviland November 6, 2016

Muddy Waters’ blues song “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” declares:
“Well, I rolled and I tumbled, cried the whole night long
Well, I woke up this mornin’, didn’t know right from wrong”



Who will or should be the next American President? Will the Democrat camp, the Republican crew, or neither party, capture both the Senate and the House of Representatives? In the aftermath of 2016’s fevered campaign, will the apparently defeated Presidential candidate seriously complain of rigging or request recounts?

In any case, America’s Election Day 11/8/16 results probably will not repair, remedy, or resolve the nation’s severe political and other cultural divisions. In contrast to such ideological and practical splits, marketplace preachers generally agree the Presidential (especially) and Senate/House voting outcomes probably will have important price consequences for American (and related) stock and interest rate arenas as well as the United States dollar and many commodities. Yet financial wizards (as do politicians) differ in their perspectives and gospels. Thus assorted monetary apostles and their devoted partisans nevertheless heatedly debate what the near term and long run financial and other economic repercussions of US Election 2016 will be for America and around the globe.

Despite the uncertainty of US 11/8/16 political outcomes and the variety of competing viewpoints and rhetoric regarding related economic (commercial, financial) implications, why not offer an opinion regarding important price levels to watch in several key marketplaces? That price framework offers subjective guidance for monitoring, assessing, and dealing with intertwined political and economic results, trends, and risks.


The record high for the S+P 500 is 8/15/16’s 2194 (a 20pc rally from 2/11/16’s bottom at 1810 is 2172; 1/20/16 low 1812). A five percent rally over this is about 2304. The important 5/20/15 high was 2135. A five percent fall from 8/15/16’s plateau is 2084 (note 11/4/16’s close at 2085); 2082 was 12/19/15’s notable drop-off point. A 10pc retreat from the August 2016 summit gives 1975 (1992 was the 6/27/16 low; the UK held its Brexit referendum on 6/23/16), and a 20pc dive 1755. Note the price gap around 2040 (6/28/16 to 6/29/16). Support also may emerge around 1870 (8/24/15 low 1867; 9/29/15 trough 1872).

The shocking Brexit “Leave” result did not merely reflect populist gains. The S+P 500 responded with a sharp (although brief) 5.7pc breakdown (6/23/16 at 2113 to 6/27/16’s low).


“Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” (1837), referring to the first shot of the American Revolutionary War


Though America’s official Thanksgiving Day arrives 11/24/16, many Americans and others will be thankful with the departure of Election Day 11/8/16.

Suppose Clinton wins the Presidency. Her campaign proposals include increasing taxation on the top-earning “haves” and a more burdensome capital gains tax regime. Suppose Trump triumphs. Most experts believe his tax and spending proposals, if enacted, will result in massive budget deficits. And whoever prevails, a substantial potential for ongoing sectarian conflict and legislative gridlock remains.

Most cultural observers would characterize Clinton’s victory as one for the “establishment” congregation. Some would deem a Trump win revolutionary (or reactionary). In any case, the widespread support for Trump and Sanders indicates that American “populist” viewpoints, whether within the so-called right wing/conservative domain or the left wing/liberal realm, probably will not lose much of their attractiveness or fervor anytime soon.

Besides, significant populist movements (whether rightist, leftist, or some other label) exist in Europe and elsewhere. Therefore populist enthusiasm probably will continue to cause some nervous days and sleepless nights for much of the international economic and political establishment (elite). Political and economic divisions, turmoil, and fears will continue to produce occasional dramas within entangled stock, interest rate, currency, and commodity (and real estate) marketplaces.

Suppose persuasive populist parties campaigning on a platform of “Change” win overall national power (or at least substantial practical influence) in one or more key countries. To what extent would such success encourage or confirm a dramatic shift in long run patterns for many marketplaces?

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US Election 2016- Rolling and Tumbling (11-6-16)

PLAYING IN THE BAND: OPEC AND OIL PRICES © Leo Haviland October 25, 2016

Not long after July 2008’s major peak in crude oil prices, the European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, declared that “predictions of the future prices of commodities are probably the most difficult exercise you can imagine.” (“Introductory Remarks with Q&A”, 8/7/08)



OPEC, finally fearful of sustained low petroleum prices and renewed price slumps, troubled by elevated oil production and lofty inventories, formally met 9/28/16 in Algiers. The ministers established a crude oil production target range of 32.5 to 33.0 million barrels per day, beneath estimated September 2016 production of around 33.5mmbd. This agreement reflects a Saudi Arabian policy shift. That nation and its allies apparently will no longer countenance (risk) benchmark Brent/North Sea crude oil prices under around $35 to $40 per barrel for an extended period. OPEC ministers have engaged in dialogue with non-OPEC oil producers regarding output schemes. OPEC gathers 11/30/16 in Vienna. Output apparently will not be cut prior to the November meeting (Financial Times, 9/30/16, p20).

OPEC’s rhetoric and general policy approach likely will help support Brent/North Sea at prices around a $35-$40 range. However, for the near term, OPEC’s actions thus far in the context of the global supply/demand picture probably make it challenging for petroleum prices to sustain elevations more than a few dollars above their mid-October 2016 levels (on a nearest futures continuation basis, Brent/North Sea crude oil around $54, NYMEX around $52). Why? First, OPEC has not adopted specific country-based output reductions. Moreover, given ongoing quarrels within the organization, whether it will do so in November 2016 or even implement them in practice is uncertain.

In addition, actual OPEC crude production of 32.5/33.0mmbd probably will begin cutting oil stockpiles only by sometime around mid-2017.

Ongoing serious dialogue with crucial non-OPEC producers such as Russia represents a victory for OPEC. Suppose production cuts by notable non-OPEC nations combined with genuine OPEC discipline; that probably would help to rally prices above recent highs. The Saudi Arabian oil minister claimed that many nations will join OPEC in cutting production (Bloomberg, 10/19/16). However, he did not name names. If non-OPEC countries support OPEC measures, it is not nearly as clear as the Saudi minister claims that non-OPEC lands will slash output. A production freeze by Russia (and perhaps Mexico and other emerging marketplaces) is more likely, but even that is not certain. Russia’s President suggests his country is “ready to join the joint measures [freeze or production cut] to cap production” (Financial Times, 10/11/16, p20). Recall the 2/16/16 output freeze conversation between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela, and Russia did not result in a production cut.


Key resistance for NYMEX crude oil (nearest futures continuation) is the $51 to $52 band. The recent high was 10/19/16’s $51.93. This inched over 6/9/16’s $51.67 and represents nearly a 100 percent rally from February 2016’s $26.05 bottom. Brent/North Sea’s (nearest futures) high was 10/10/16 at $53.73 (6/9/16 top $52.86). Although petroleum and American natural gas do not always travel in similar fashion (“move together”), this crude oil timing parallels 10/13/16’s NYMEX natural gas top around 3.37. Although NYMEX crude oil prices have not fallen far from 10/19/16’s elevation, a five percent drop gives about $49.35, a ten pc one around $6.75.

Remember that OPEC, despite its enthusiastic September 2016 wordplay, and despite its making progress in dialogue with some non-OPEC members, does not have a well-defined (specific) production agreement (with specific quotas) yet. Its current crude oil output remains high.

A weaker US dollar arguably assists petroleum price rallies. But although the broad real US TWD (monthly average, Federal Reserve, H.10) is moderately weaker than its January 2016 pinnacle, the TWD remains strong. At 97.9 in September 2016, it stands above March 2009’s 96.8 major top (S+P 500 major low in March 2009).

The new record high in the S+P 500, 8/15/16’s 2194, surpasses 5/20/15’s noteworthy pinnacle at 2135, but not decisively (only by 2.8pc). The MXEF (emerging stock marketplaces) remains beneath its 4/27/15 top at 1069 (as well as previous highs in its downtrend: 1212 on 4/27/11 and 1104 on 9/4/14).

There are some signs of rising government interest rates, at least in the United States. The UST 10 year note is around 1.75 percent, up from 7/6/16’s 1.32pc. See “Running for Cover: Foreign Official Holdings of US Treasury Securities” (10/13/16). Although the Fed probably will not raise the Federal Funds rate in its 11/1-2/16 meeting (prior to the 11/8/16 US election), it may elect to do so in its 12/13-14/16 gathering.

Global economic growth remains relatively sluggish. Significant sovereign or corporate debt problems exist in many important countries.


Sometimes significant patterns and heights in net noncommercial petroleum positions can be in rhythm with important oil price trends. The current net noncommercial long position in petroleum is extremely substantial and probably is vulnerable to liquidation. A widespread run for the exits by such noncommercial longs likely would undermine petroleum prices.


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Playing in the Band- OPEC and Oil Prices (10-25-16)



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)

US NATURAL GAS: ON THE ROAD © Leo Haviland August 2, 2015

The probable avenue for the United States natural gas marketplace (NYMEX nearest futures continuation basis) for the next several months is a range between 2.15 and 3.40. The major bear trend that followed 2/24/14’s major peak at 6.493 attained a key bottom with 4/27/15’s 2.443 low. Was this a major low? Perhaps, but prices probably will challenge that level again and perhaps modestly break it over the next several months.

But why? After all, assuming normal weather, current and anticipated upcoming natural gas days coverage through winter 2015-16 tend to support prices, particularly in the context of NYMEX natural gas prices well under 4.00. Historical analysis indicates the bear trend from February 2014 to April 2015 travelled sufficiently far in price and duration terms to justify a shift to a neutral to bullish outlook. Also, the last prior major low, 1.902 on 4/19/12, likewise occurred in calendar April. Many key bottoms have occurred around contract expiration. In addition, many significant marketplace trend changes in natural gas (and petroleum) roughly coincide with very elevated net long or short noncommercial positions. From the historical perspective, the net noncommercial short position was very large around the time of April 2015’s low; the net noncommercial length likewise was substantial around the time of the February 2014 peak.

Natural gas prices often travel substantially independently of both petroleum (and commodities “in general”) and so-called “international” or “financial” factors. However, especially since mid-to-late June 2014 and into calendar 2015, bearish natural gas price movements have intertwined with those in the petroleum complex and the bull move in the broad real trade-weighted US dollar. The retreats since their spring 2015 highs in the commodities complex in general and petroleum in particular fit with similar slumps in natural gas. Petroleum likely will remain weak and the US dollar will remain strong for the near term, which will be bearish factors for American natural gas prices.

Quite a few marketplace observers believe the US natural gas marketplace will have massive inventories at the end of calendar 2016 build season (end October). This bearish perspective also weighs on prices. Although such oversupply probably will not occur (assume normal weather), such views are not unreasonable.

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US Natural Gas- On the Road (8-2-15)