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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“For, you see, so many out-of-the way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.” Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (Chapter I)



Concentrating on and comparing exchange rates of “commodity currencies” offers insight into assorted interrelated marketplace relationships. Since the shocking eruption and terrifying acceleration of the global economic crisis in late 2007/2008, the major price trends for eight “commodity currencies” roughly (and of course not precisely) have ventured forward in similar fashion on a broad real effective exchange rate (“EER”) basis. Over that time, this basket of assorted commodity currencies generally has intertwined in various ways with very significant trends in the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar (“TWD”), emerging marketplace stocks in general, and broad commodity indices such as the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (“GSCI”).

The substantial rally in the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar (“TWD”) that embarked in mid-2011 played a key part in encouraging (confirming) and accelerating bear movements in emerging marketplace stocks and commodities “in general”. The S+P 500’s monumental rally over its spring 2011 interim high diverged for about four years from the trends in emerging equity realms and commodities. However, the TWD’s late 2015 ascent above its March 2009 peak was a crucial event. This dollar climb helped propel the S+P 500 downhill following 5/20/15’s 2135 pinnacle in conjunction with the emerging stock marketplace and commodity trends.

In January/February2016, these linked price patterns reversed. The TWD has depreciated modestly and stocks (emerging marketplaces as well as those of America and other advanced nations) rallied. Commodities (particularly oil) jumped. The benchmark United States Treasury 10 year note yield initially ascended from its 1Q16 low. This relatively unified reversal across marketplace sectors paralleled the entwined moves since mid-to-late 2015. These current marketplace interrelationships (“roughly trading together”) probably will persist for the near term, regardless of whether the pattern of mid-2015 to first quarter 2016 resumes or that since mid-first quarter 2016 continues. Marketplace history of course need not entirely or even substantially repeat itself.


Commodity currencies, associated with countries with large amounts of commodity exports, are not confined to developing/emerging nations. Because commodity exports are important to the economies of advanced countries such as Australia, Canada, and Norway, the currencies of these lands likewise can be labeled as commodity currencies.

The bearish currency paths (effective exchange rate basis) of key emerging and advanced nation commodity exporters up to first quarter 2016 resembled the similar trends among them during the 2007-09 worldwide economic disaster era. However, these commodity currencies depreciated notably more in that recent dive than during 2007-09’s extraordinary turmoil. In addition, the lows attained by most of them decisively pierced the floors achieved about seven years previously. Moreover, the TWD rallied more sharply in its bull leap to its January 2016 elevation than it did during the past crisis.

The feebleness up to the 1Q16 lows for the commodity currency group, as it involved both advanced and emerging marketplace domains (as it did in 2007-09), reflected an ongoing global (not merely emerging marketplace) crisis. Substantial debt and leverage troubles still confront today’s intertwined worldwide economy. The bear trip of many commodity currencies into early first quarter 2016, especially as it occurred alongside big bear moves in emerging marketplace stocks (and in the S+P 500 and other advanced stock battlefields) and despite long-running extremely lax monetary policies, underlined the fragility of the relatively feeble global GDP recovery.

Therefore key central bank wizards, concerned about slowing real GDP and terrified by “too low” inflation (or deflation) risks, have fought bravely to stop the TWD from appreciating beyond its January 2016 top and struggled nobly to encourage rallies in the S+P 500 and related stock marketplaces. Yield repression (very low and even negative interest rates) promotes eager hunts for yields (return) elsewhere. Indeed, rallies in the S+P 500 (and real estate) may help inflation expectations (and inflation signposts monitored by central banks such as consumer prices) to crawl upward. Given their desperate quest to achieve inflation goals, central banks probably approve of at least modest increases in commodity prices as well as appreciation by commodity currencies in general.


Noteworthy rallies in these commodity (exporter) currencies from their recent depths tend to confirm (inspire) climbs in commodities in general and emerging (and advanced) nation stock marketplaces. Renewed deterioration of the effective exchange rates of the commodity currency fraternity “in general” likely will coincide with renewed firming of the broad real trade-weighted US dollar. Such depreciation in the commodity currency camp probably will signal worsening of the still-dangerous global economic situation and warn that another round of declines in global stock marketplaces looms on the horizon.


“He was an honest Man, and a good Sailor, but a little too positive in his own Opinions, which was the Cause of his Destruction, as it hath been of many others.” “Gulliver’s Travels”, by Jonathan Swift (Part IV, “A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms”, chapter 1)


Looking forward, numerous entangled and competing economic and political variables generate a substantial challenge for explaining and predicting the interconnected financial marketplaces in general, including the commodity currency landscape. The commodity currency group as a whole (“CC”) has appreciated roughly twelve percent from its late calendar 2015/first quarter 2016 depth. What does a review of the adventures in commodity currencies since the assorted late 2015/1Q16 bottoms in the context of other marketplace benchmarks portend? Commodity currencies in general probably are establishing a sideways range. The overall camp of EERs (apart from what may happen to individual ones) will not rally much (if at all) above recent highs. The CC camp eventually likely will renew its overall depreciation, with the various EERs heading toward their noteworthy lows attained several months ago.

Although the CC rally since its 1Q16 bottom retraces some of its prior collapse, the TWD itself has dropped only modestly from its peak and thus remains quite strong. Moreover, note the fall in the broad GSCI (and the petroleum complex) since early June 2016. A still-robust TWD not only underlines potential for renewed weakness in the CC complex, but also confirms commodity feebleness and warns of risks to the recent bull move in emerging marketplace stocks (and even to the astounding S+P 500). China is a key commodity importer. As China’s EER continues to ebb (while Japan’s has strengthened), the ability of the CC clan to produce only a moderate overall percentage rally in their collective EER to date hints that world economic growth remains sluggish. Emerging marketplace stocks in general, despite their rally since 1Q16, remain substantially beneath their September 2014 summit.

Although leading global central banks devotedly retain highly accommodative policies such as yield repression and money printing, the inability of US Treasury 10 year note yield to rise much above its 7/6/16 low at 1.32 percent tends to confirm this picture of unimpressive (and even slowing) global expansion. Optimists underscore the S+P 500’s rally to a new peak on 8/15/16 at 2194 from its 1Q16 trough. Yet that new record elevation merely neighbors May 2015’s plateau, exceeding it by just 2.8 percent.


There is significant marketplace and political talk of trade wars, growing protectionism, and anti-globalization. Much of this wordplay links to populist challenges to the so-called establishment (elites). But even some establishment politicians have become less enamored of free trade. Fears of trade conflicts and protectionist barriers weigh on the CC domain as a whole.

For commodity currencies, much depends on Federal Reserve policy. At present, although the Fed did not boost rates in September, it currently seems fairly likely to do so in December 2016 (assuming no dramatic drop in stocks occurs before then). Especially as the European Central Bank, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan remain married to their highly accommodative schemes, this Fed action will help to rally the TWD and thus tend to weaken the CC armada. Nevertheless, the Fed and other central banks probably will fight to keep the dollar from surpassing its 1Q16 summit; doing so helps to protect stock (and real estate) prices and thus to reduce populist political advances.

The result of the US Presidential election on November 8 naturally remains uncertain. Unlike the EERs of the other seven commodity currencies, the Mexico EER has slumped beneath its first quarter 2016 low. Mexico faces severe domestic political challenges, and ongoing low oil prices wound its economy. However, the increasing potential for a Trump victory and resulting trade conflicts and immigration disputes also have helped to push Mexico’s EER downhill. The Mexican peso crisis of the early 1990s should not be forgotten.

Significant ongoing American political divisions risk further weakness in the US dollar, regardless of who wins the exciting Presidential sweepstakes. The US has a long run budget challenge regardless of who emerges victorious. Though the TWD issue is complex, a Trump victory likely is more bearish for the TWD than a Clinton one. Comments from overseas (and numerous domestic) leaders suggest lack of confidence in Trump’s abilities and policies, which arguably would be reflected in reduced acquisition (or net selling) of dollar-denominated assets such as US government securities (and corporate debt) and American stocks. Trump’s budget proposals, if enacted, will likely expand the deficit considerably and thus probably would encourage interest rate rises. A Trump triumph likely would be bearish for the US dollar in general, even if the dollar rallied against the Mexican peso on a cross rate basis. However, though numerous respected forecasters predict a close outcome, Clinton probably will defeat Trump. In any case, all else equal, a Democratic victory increases the odds of a Fed rate hike in the near term.

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Adventures in Wonderland- Commodity Currencies (9-26-16)


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verse 1 (King James Version)



To spark and sustain the worldwide economic recovery that began around first half 2009, the Federal Reserve Board and other major central banks warmly embraced highly accommodative monetary policies such as yield repression and money printing (quantitative easing). Who would want to repeat the horrors of the hellish worldwide economic disaster that erupted in 2007 and worsened dramatically after mid-year 2008? Therefore, often in recent years, after significant hints of feeble growth (or recession) or insufficient inflation (or signs of that evil, deflation) appeared, these high priests of the economic system offered further rhetoric or additional (or new) action to accomplish their aims and restore confidence. Such central banking efforts often succeeded. In any case, financial congregations (especially in American and other stock marketplaces) generally loudly hoped for, fervently encouraged, and joyfully praised such central bank rescue efforts.

However, around mid-2015, advanced nation stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500 peaked. Moreover, despite central bank wordplay and vigorous policy action, bear moves in these stock domains have persisted alongside renewed signs of economic weakness and “too low” inflation. Ongoing collapses in emerging marketplace stocks “in general”, the major bear move in commodities in general, and falling yields in the 10 year United States Treasury note accompanied tumbles in the S+P 500 and other advanced nation equities. The major bull move in the broad, real trade-weighted US dollar, which began in July 2011, has played a key role in these intertwined trends.

In the past few weeks, key global central banks once again preached sermons or engaged in actions aimed not only at creating sufficient inflation (defeating deflation) and ensuring sustained economic recovery. Stock marketplaces initially ascended higher after these recent efforts (recall their lows around January 20, 2016), and the US dollar weakened somewhat. The Federal Reserve Board and other guardian angels probably did not want the S+P 500 and related stock marketplaces to crash under their January 2016 lows. In addition, they probably did not want the United States dollar bull move to extend much (if at all) beyond its January 2016 high.

However, and although not much time has passed since these recent ardent central bank efforts, the S+P 500 and other stock landmarks have resumed their slumps. Ominously, many stock marketplaces have fallen under their August/September 2015 lows. In addition, the dollar still remains strong, commodities weak (despite talk about and hopes for OPEC petroleum production cuts), and US government yields (in a flight to quality) depressed. This vista warns that the Fed and other revered central banks are finding it more and more difficult to accomplish their various policy aims. It suggests that people (including devoted investors in US stocks) increasingly are losing faith in the ability of central banks to produce desirable outcomes.

Although it is a difficult marketplace call, these ongoing and interwoven marketplace trends probably will continue for a while longer. Admittedly, if these marketplace patterns persist and especially if they extend, watchers should beware of even more dramatic (and perhaps coordinated) central bank rescue action.


For additional currency, stock, interest rate, and commodity marketplace analysis, see essays such as “The Curtain Rises: 2016 Marketplace Theaters” (1/4/16), “Japanese Yen: Currency Adventures (2007-09 Revisited)” (1/14/16), “US Natural Gas” Caught in the Middle” (especially pp2-3), “America: A House Divided” (12/7/15), “Two-Stepping: US Government Securities” (12/1/16), “Commodities: Captivating Audiences” (10/12/15), and “Déjà Vu (Encore): US Marketplace History” (10/4/15).

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As the World Burns- Marketplaces and Central Banks (2-8-16)

JAPANESE YEN: CURRENCY ADVENTURES (2007-09 REVISITED) © Leo Haviland January 14, 2016

In Akira Kurosawa’s famous film “Yojimbo”, a farmer remarks: “Everybody’s after easy money.”



In recent months, much marketplace and media attention regarding foreign exchange arenas has focused on the travels of the United States dollar, the Chinese renminbi, the Euro FX, and an assortment of emerging marketplace currencies. The Japanese Yen has captured relatively little of the limelight. But it should.

Marketplace history of course need not repeat itself, either completely or even partly, but players should not overlook or dismiss parallels. The Japanese Yen’s rally in the past few months reflects current (and points to further) worldwide economic weakness. Recall the Yen’s rally during the worldwide economic crisis of 2007-09.

During the acceleration of the global economic disaster of 2007-09, both the Japanese Yen and the United States dollar made major bull moves on a broad real trade-weighted (effective exchange rate) basis. The Yen tumbled dramatically from its 2011/2012 summits. But that bear move probably ceased in mid-2015. The modest rally in the Yen since June 2015 has coincided with the continued advance of the dollar’s broad real trade-weighted major bull move. Moreover, as during the 2007-09 crisis span, the Yen’s effective exchange rate climb has accompanied a rally in its cross rate against the dollar.

Not only is the current Yen bull trend a bearish sign for world economic growth. It also is a bearish indicator for the Nikkei, S+P 500, and other key stock benchmarks. As massive Yen depreciation alongside quantitative and qualitative easing (QQE) helped to propel the Nikkei (and thereby other stock marketplaces such as the S+P 500 higher), growing Yen strength (all else equal) tends to push the Nikkei and other stock realms lower. The Yen march upward since June 2015 coincides with slides in equities, a drop in the US Treasury 10 year note yield, and renewed sharp falls in commodities “in general” (and petroleum in particular).


On 1/14/16, the S+P 500 touched a low at 1879, very close to its 8/24/15 low at 1867. It then rallied, closing around 1922. The Nikkei’s 1/14/16 low at 16944 hovers right above its 9/29/15 trough. What about the Shanghai Composite? Its low on 1/14/16 at 2868 neighbors its 8/26/15 depth at 2851.

Previous essays have discussed the Federal Reserve Board’s effort to slow, halt, or reverse marketplace declines in the S+P 500. For example, see “Playing Percentages: Stock Marketplace Games” (7/13/15). In the current environment, stock slumps of around ten and 20 percent from an important plateau (such as the May 2015 one) are important guideline levels for the Fed. The Fed’s preferred method to stop downward moves of around ten percent is talk (wordplay) rather than action. Falls of around 20 percent (or more) increase the odds of action (perhaps even renewed quantitative easing).

Thus today’s speech from James Bullard, the President of the St. Louis Fed, is rhetoric aiming to support US (and perhaps other) stocks (“Oil Prices, Inflation and U.S. Monetary Policy”).

Such charming wordplay from the Fed (and its central banking allies) can induce rallies in the S+P 500. However, it probably will not stop the S+P 500 from resuming its bear move and breaking beneath its August 2015 bottom. The Nikkei will fall under its 9/29/15 low, and the Shanghai Composite will venture beneath its late August 2015 bottom. The broad real TWD will remain strong for at least the near term; the Japan EER will continue its modest rally, as will the Yen’s advance against the US dollar.


For additional currency, stock, interest rate, and commodity marketplace analysis, see “The Curtain Rises: 2016 Marketplace Theaters” (1/4/16) and earlier essays.

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Japanese Yen- Currency Adventures (2007-09 Revisited) (1-14-16)



Not only have emerging marketplace growth rates slowed. Many sentinels fear the substantial fall in emerging marketplace equities and currencies has “reached crisis proportions”. (Financial Times, 9/8/15, p3; citing the Institute of International Finance). The World Bank’s chief economist warned the Federal Reserve risks creating “panic and turmoil” in emerging marketplaces if it raises rates in its September 2015 meeting (Financial Times, 9/9/15, p1). However, in today’s globalized economy, central bankers and other important regulators and politicians also fear insufficient growth in many advanced nations. They also worry about further substantial increases in the United States dollar and drops in stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500. Some probably dread that an international crisis akin to the 2007-09 one, even if much less devastating, is underway or may soon appear.

The verbal barrage recently unleashed since late August 2015 by key central bankers and their comrades displays their fears and goals regarding these financial fronts. In any case, their enthusiastic wordplay at times raises marketplace hopes significantly. Their windy talk perhaps for the near term will stabilize the dollar around its recent highs and stop benchmark stock marketplaces from substantially breaching the lows reached in the past few weeks.

However, the foundations of worldwide growth nevertheless remain shaky, despite about seven years of highly accommodative monetary policy by the Fed and its allies. In addition, substantial debt and leverage troubles still confront today’s intertwined global economy. Consequently, this magnificent rhetorical display aiming to boost real global economic growth, significantly alter currency patterns (reverse the dollar’s strength, or at least significantly slow its appreciation) and substantially rally (or at least successfully support) stocks probably will not achieve long-lasting success.


The sustained rally in the broad real trade-weighted US dollar since mid-2011, and particularly its recent climb slightly beyond March 2009’s crucial peak, has played a key part in encouraging (confirming) weakness in emerging marketplace stocks and commodities “in general”. The S+P 500’s slide since its 5/20/15 pinnacle indicates that its major trend probably will not diverge significantly from those of emerging equity marketplaces.

Focusing on the trials and tribulations of emerging/developing countries and their stock and foreign exchange playgrounds indeed helps analysis of other marketplaces around the globe. However, concentrating on and comparing exchange rates of “commodity currencies” offers additional notable insight into various interrelated financial marketplace trends. “Commodity currencies”, associated with countries with large amounts of commodity exports, are not restricted to emerging nations. Commodity exports are significant to the economies of advanced nations such as Australia, Canada, and Norway, so they likewise can be labeled as commodity currencies.

Paying attention to the currency trends of important emerging and advanced nation commodity exporters highlights the similar trends among them during the 2007-09 worldwide economic disaster era as well as nowadays. Such past and current collective effective exchange rate weakness contrasts with the robust strength of the trade-weighted US dollar. The feebleness both in 2007-09 and in recent times for the commodity currency group, as it involves both advanced and emerging marketplace domains, hints at global (not merely emerging marketplace) crisis. The exchange rates of many commodity exporters are at or near their lows achieved during 2008-09.

Thus noteworthy rallies, if any, in these commodity (exporter) currencies from their recent depths will tend to confirm (inspire) climbs in commodities “in general” and emerging (and advanced) nation stock marketplaces. Renewed deterioration of the effective exchange rates of the commodity currency fraternity “in general” probably will coincide with renewed (additional) firming of the US dollar. Such depreciation in the commodity currency camp likely will signal worsening of the current dangerous global economic situation and another round of declines in global stock marketplaces.

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Marketplace Twists and Shouts- as the World Turns (9-10-15)