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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Bob Dylan says in “The Times They Are A-Changin’”:
“There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’”
Marketplace history of course is not marketplace destiny, whether for one financial realm or the relationships between assorted domains. Although traditions and the analytical time horizon and the scope of allegedly relevant variables remain critical, the cultural past in its major fields such as economics and politics need not repeat itself, either completely or even partly. Yet sometimes current and potential economic and other cultural situations apparently manifest sufficient important similarities to “the past” so that many observers can perceive patterns helping to explain “the present” and to forecast future probabilities. Thus from the standpoint of many subjective perspectives, marketplace history (like other history) often does recur to a substantial extent. Such alleged historical similarity, as it is not objective (scientific), also consequently permits a great variety of competitive storytelling about it.
The 2022 landscape for the United States dollar, the US Treasury 10 year note, commodities “in general”, and the S+P 500 resembles that of around early 2020. The United States dollar currently hints that it may have established an important peak or that it will soon do so. The real Broad Dollar Index’s height (see the Federal Reserve Board, H.10) borders its March/April 2020 highs. Arguably commodities in general began a notable decline in early 2022. Using the broad S&P GSCI as a benchmark, the spot/physical/cash (as well as the nearest futures continuation) commodities complex (including the key petroleum arena) peaked in early January 2020 alongside a strengthening US dollar. A pattern of increasing US Treasury yields (take the 10 year note as the signpost) preceded the early 2020 stock pinnacles (S+P 500 on 2/19/20; emerging marketplaces in general on 1/13/20) as well as the commodities one. Marketplace chronicles unveil a significant yield increase in the UST 10 year note (and other important debt security benchmarks) prior to (and following) the S+P 500’s very significant high (perhaps a major top) 1/4/22 at 4819. As in 2020, the 2022 highs in stocks and commodities entangled with both rising yields and a strong dollar.
In summary, although their future levels and trends admittedly are cloudy and uncertain, what are probable trends for these marketplaces? The United States real Broad Dollar Index probably has attained its pinnacle or will do so 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 it is a difficult call, the S+P 500 likely peaked in January 2022, and it probably will venture beneath late February 2022’s 4115 low. Over the long run, given the American (and global) inflation and debt situation, the yield for the US Treasury 10 year note will ascend above its recent high around 2.55 percent, although occasional “flights to quality” and thus interim yield declines may emerge.
Arguments in marketplaces and elsewhere in cultural life that “this time is different” are inescapable and often persuasive. Of course the coronavirus pandemic played a major role in the first quarter 2020 collapse in global stocks and commodities. However, the rising interest rates and strong dollar variables still played an important part in those 2020 marketplace declines. And the American and international inflation and debt troubles of 2022 (“nowadays”) far exceed those existing around January 2020. The Russian invasion of Ukraine obviously makes aspects of the recent commodities situation different from 2020; global petroleum prices, for example, though “high” prior to the Russia/Ukraine conflict, probably would not have skyrocketed in its absence. And in regard to historic and potential future marketplace relationships and related risk assessments, we should not forget 2007-09, the ending of the Goldilocks Era and its dismal aftermath, the global economic disaster. The S+P 500’s summit (October 2007) diverged for several months from the peak in commodities in general (July 2008), although the trends of those two financial sectors thereafter converged. Also, as US and other stocks began their terrifying descent in spring 2008 until March 2009, the dollar rallied.
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Marketplace Trends and Entanglements (4-4-22)
“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.” H.G. Wells, “The Time Machine”
OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION
Cultural observers inevitably select between and analyze diverse variables to explain and predict economic, political, and social history, including relationships and trends and outcomes, in a variety of often-competing fashions. So marketplace and political visionaries inescapably interpret and forecast probable consequences for Trump’s landmark Presidential triumph in America’s 11/8/16 national election, in which Republicans also captured control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, in various ways. And of course in today’s interdependent world, the American political and economic domain intertwines closely with realms elsewhere.
The extent to which important financial playgrounds intertwine and their alleged trends converge or diverge (or, lead or lag) are matters of opinion, as are perspectives on and reasons for such relationships and movements. And marketplace history need not repeat itself, either entirely or even partly. Convergence and divergence patterns can change, sometimes dramatically.
Let’s focus on several key global financial marketplace playgrounds. Review relationships in recent years between the United States Treasury 10 year note, the broad real trade-weighted US dollar (“TWD”; Federal Reserve Board, H.10; monthly average, March 1973=100), the S+P 500, emerging marketplace stocks (MSCI Emerging Stock Markets Index, from Morgan Stanley; “MXEF”), and commodities in general (broad S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index; “GSCI”).
In the aftermath of America’s November election, it is noteworthy that whereas the S+P 500 has ascended to all-time highs, the MXEF lurks below its pre-election interim high, 9/7/16’s 930 (and 11/9/16’s 907; 11/14/16 low 837). In addition, the MXEF’s September 2016 top stands beneath its important 4/27/15 high (1069), its 9/4/14 elevation (1104), and earlier major tops. (1212 on 4/27/11; 1345 on 11/1/07).
This current divergence between the S+P 500 and MXEF recalls (resembles) the similar disparate major trends in those marketplaces from spring 2011 through spring 2015. During that span, whereas the S+P 500 continued its major upward trend, the MXEF did not. Afterwards, from spring 2015 highs down to first quarter 2016 troughs and up to around mid-summer 2016 (S+P 500 summer 2016 high 8/15/16 at 2194), the S+P 500 and MXEF “traded together”.
It is also significant that since America’s election departed, UST 10 year rates have continued to march upward and the TWD has climbed to new highs. These interest rate and currency patterns, should they continue further, and when viewed alongside the divergence between the S+P 500 and the MXEF, warn of eventual S+P 500 weakness. Marketplace history of course is not marketplace destiny. But it is particularly significant that TWD breakouts in 2014 and 2015 above critical resistance barriers eventually accompanied S+P 500 weakness. Thus at some point the advance of the TWD above its January 2016 plateau may interrelate with an important interim (and perhaps a major) high in the S+P 500. If the S+P 500 indeed weakens, the MXEF probably will slump alongside of it (as occurred from spring 2015 to the 1Q16 bottoms).
Many money (“investment”) managers in the equity sphere have their performance evaluated on a calendar year basis. As the S+P 500 upswing has persisted after the election, perhaps some of these players are choosing to move cash in their portfolio into US stocks as end December 2016 approaches. To some extent, the ongoing rally in the S+P 500 probably reflects the relatively strong American economy. Compare European economic growth, for example. Share buybacks and still relatively low interest rates remain among the relevant bullish factors for the S+P 500. To some extent, perhaps the ongoing dollar strength reflects faith in America’s economy, at least relative to that of many other regions. Washington’s recent regime change, as it promises substantial infrastructure spending and some hefty tax cuts, likely represents and will result in a more expansionary fiscal policy, which could enhance corporate earnings, particularly for American-based firms.
The relative strength of the S+P 500 benchmark in comparison to (its price divergence from) the emerging stock marketplace’s MXEF signpost in part may reflect the relative economic and political stability of the United States (despite America’s notable internal divisions).
However, also look at the Presidential winner’s slogan, “Make America Great Again!” (Compare “America First”). Such ardent “populist” wordplay joins to rhetoric which promotes nationalist (American) objectives considerably more strongly than the globalist/internationalist ideologies embraced by “the establishment” (elites). Even if over time advanced as well as emerging/developing nations benefited substantially from globalism and increasingly free markets and free trade, arguably developing nations (especially net exporters) particularly profited. The incoming American President and many of his allies not only are more hostile in general to globalism notions than the preceding Administration, but even have spoken of renegotiating (or walking away from) trade agreements and imposing (or raising) tariffs. Therefore, the renewed divergence between the S+P 500 and MXEF in recent months also probably partly reflects the declining popularity of globalist/internationalist dogmas (free market, free trade) in the US and many other nations.
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Back to the Future- the Marketplace Time Machine (12-13-16 )