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.


Subscribe to Leo Haviland’s BLOG to receive updates and new marketplace essays.

RSS View Leo Haviland's LinkedIn profile View Leo Haviland’s profile

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: FINANCIAL ARENAS © Leo Haviland December 1, 2020

“The Great Game: the Story of Wall Street….An original two-hour documentary event that spans the 200-year history of American capitalism.” NYTimes (over 20 years ago; 5/28/00; p13) regarding a CNBC television program broadcast 5/29/00


Financial marketplace investors, speculators, traders, hedgers, analysts, risk managers, and media have enjoyed, endured, or suffered an adventurous 2020! Substantial ongoing political and other cultural divisions and associated conflicts in the United States and elsewhere intertwined with and often enhanced the marketplace circuses. The coronavirus pandemic and the feverish economic (political) responses to its actual and potential ravages of course magnified agitation within marketplace playgrounds.

What are several key existing marketplace patterns worth watching by marketplace players as 2020’s finish line nears and calendar 2021’s competitions beckon?

First, prices in the S+P 500 and other benchmark US and global stock indices, lower-grade interest rate instruments within corporate fields ( and low-quality foreign dollar-denominated sovereign debt), and commodities “in general” often have risen (or fallen) at roughly the same time. They generally have climbed in significant bull ascents (and fallen in noteworthy bear retreats) “together”. These entangled domains thus have alternatively reflected joyous bullish enthusiasm as “investors” and other traders hunted for adequate return (“yield”), and scary bearish scenes as they scrambled frantically for safety. Whether the existing bull trend for American stocks in general (use the S+P 500 as a benchmark) persists is especially important for these connected landscapes.

Despite strenuous yield repression by the Federal Reserve Board and its central bank teammates, United States Treasury yields, using the UST 10 year note as a signpost, probably have commenced a long run increase. Despite widespread global desires for a sufficiently feeble home currency to promote economic recovery and growth, and the related willingness to engage in competitive depreciation to accomplish this, spring 2020 unveiled the onset of substantial US dollar weakness. Although the US dollar (using the Fed’s “Broad Dollar Index” as the yardstick) already has dived about ten percent from its peak, its long run pattern probably will remain down.

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW to download this article as a PDF file.
Games People Play- Financial Arenas (12-1-20)


In the novel “The Gilded Age” (chapter 7), by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, Colonel Sellers exclaims: “Si Hawkins has been a good friend to me, and I believe I can say that whenever I’ve had a chance to put him into a good thing I’ve done it, and done it pretty cheerfully too. I put him into that sugar speculation—what a grand thing that was, if we hadn’t held on too long.”



Diverse, changing, and interrelated marketplace variables of course encourage price rallies and declines in assorted financial domains. Central bank monetary policies, national deficit spending and debt levels, currency trends, and the recent coronavirus pandemic of course are on the list.

Yet focus on United States Treasury rates only slightly above or beneath benchmark inflation indicators such as consumer price or personal consumption expenditure indices. In other leading government rate realms, such as German ones, note negative nominal interest rates. During the era of global central bank policy yield repression by America’s beloved Federal Reserve Board and the friendly central banks of other major advanced nations, “investors” and other traders generally have engaged in ravenous searches for adequate return (“yield”) in assorted financial marketplaces. These playgrounds include United States and other stocks, lower-grade foreign dollar-denominated sovereign debt, corporate notes and bonds, and commodities.

During this repressive policy yield environment, and often encouraged by massive money printing (quantitative easing) and other accommodative monetary programs, price trends in the S+P 500 and these other marketplaces frequently have been similar. They have risen in bull markets (and fallen in bear markets) “together”. Convergence and divergence (lead/lag) relationships between fields such as the S+P 500, US corporate bonds, and crude oil are a matter of subjective perspective. The connections and patterns are complex and not necessarily precise; they can modify or even transform. But in recent years, prices in these benchmark stock indices, lower-grade interest rate instruments, and commodities often have risen (or fallen) at roughly the same time. For example, prices for US stocks and other financial domains enjoyed glorious rallies which peaked in early to mid-first quarter 2020. Their murderous bear crashes commence at around the same time; numerous investors and other buyers (owners) frantically ran for cover and pleaded for help. The ensuing price rallies in these assorted key generally embarked around late March 2020, and their subsequent bullish patterns thereafter have intertwined.

However, various phenomena indicate that these marketplaces are at or near important price highs and probably have started to or soon will decline together. These bearish factors include the probability of a feeble global recovery (the recovery will not be V-shaped), the persistence of the coronavirus problem for at least the next several months, and lofty American stock marketplace valuations (and the substantial risk of disappointing late 2020 and calendar 2021 corporate earnings). Also, the Democrats probably will triumph in the 11/3/20 American national election, which portends a reversal of the corporate tax “reform” legislation as well as the enactment of increased taxes on high-earning individuals and the passage of capital gains taxes. Also on the US national political scene, fears are growing of a political crisis if President Trump disputes the November voting outcome.

Other warning signs of notable price falls in the S+P 500 and various related marketplaces include vulnerable US (and other) households (reduced consumer spending) and endangered small businesses, massive and rising government debt, a greater risk of rising US interest rates (at least in the corporate and low-quality sovereign landscapes, and even with ongoing Fed yield repression) than many believe, and the recent weakness in the US dollar. The likelihood of a substantial new US Congressional stimulus package has ebbed.

The S+P 500 (and especially “technology” stocks; see the Nasdaq Composite Index) probably has been the bull leader for the various asset classes “as a whole” since its 3/23/20 bottom at 2192. For US equities, laments of “where do I put my money?” enthusiastic comments that “there’s a lot of cash around looking for a home”, and venerable rhetoric regarding the reasonableness of buying and holding United States stocks for the “long run” persist. Gurus as well as media cheerleaders still say: “buy the dip” and “don’t miss the train.” Yet such aphorisms and even massive money printing do not inevitably keep asset prices rising.

Despite the Federal Reserve’s late August 2020 promulgation of a revised and even more accommodative policy doctrine, it essentially codified rather than changed the practice of its easing policy of the preceding months. See the Fed’s 8/27/20 “Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Strategy” and the Fed Chairman’s speech, “New Economic Challenges and the Fed’s Monetary Policy Review” (8/27/20). In any case, the Fed guardian is unlikely to race to the rescue of the US stock marketplace with the S+P 500 hovering around its all-time high.

For detailed further discussion of stock, interest rate, currency, and commodity marketplaces and the political scene, see other essays such as “Dollar Depreciation and the American Dream” (8/11/20); “Divergence and Convergence: US Stocks and American Politics (7/11/20); “US Election 2020: Politics, Pandemic, and Marketplaces” (6/3/20); “American Consumers: the Shape We’re In” (5/4/20); “Crawling from the Wreckage: US Stocks” (4/13/20); “Global Economic Troubles and Marketplace Turns: Being There” (3/2/20); “Critical Conditions and Economic Turning Points” (2/5/20); “Ringing in the New Year: US and Other Government Note Trends” (1/6/20).

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW to download this article as a PDF file.
Marketplace Maneuvers- Searching for Yield, Running for Cover (9-7-20)(1)


As Thanksgiving Day approaches and many prepare for holiday gatherings and festive feedings with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, several less-noticed marketplace courses deserve attention from marketplace travelers. United States Treasury International Capital (“TIC”) data reveal that gaping American federal fiscal deficits probably will find it difficult to lure sufficient foreign funds. Recent TIC evidence may warn of stock marketplace trend changes. Also, do foreign visitors find direct ownership (“investment”) in America highly appealing these days? What do New York Stock Exchange margin data unveil about major equity moves? Commodity Futures Trading Commission information on agricultural Index Traders not only offers a window on commodity price patterns in general. Perhaps surprisingly, that Index Trader information can illuminate and confirm marketplace voyages by stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500.

Since its 2009 depth, the high for agricultural Index Trader net long open interest occurred in 2010, at about 1.63 million contracts on 8/10/10. However, this quantity is not much above the more recent high net long position of 1.53mm on 4/26/11, which was close in time to the S+P 500 and broad GSCI elevations. By 10/4/11, the date of lows in the S+P 500 and the broad GSCI, the net IT long open interest had fallen to around 1.30mm. This equals about a 14.9pc dip from the 4/ 26/11 height. On 11/15/11, net IT was about 1.33mm contracts.

The recent percentage decline in IT length of nearly fifteen percent is fairly close to the initial fall of 16.7pc during 2008 (from 5/13/08 to 9/16/08). What would a sharp and sustained decline in the net IT long position under its 10/4/11 level indicate? It probably will coincide with declines in commodities in general and stocks, thus confirming a worsening of the worldwide economic crisis.

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW to download this market essay as a PDF file.

Thanksgiving Marketplaces – Several Servings (11-22-11)