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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“I have been passing my life in guessing what I might meet with beyond the next hill, or around the next corner.” Wellington, the British military commander who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo (“Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations”, ed. Robert Heinl, Jr.)
Cultural observers differ in their subjective perspectives, arguments, and conclusions regarding economic phenomena, including the prices of and variables relating to interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, commodity, real estate, and other marketplaces. They consequently develop and express a variety of personal views as to whether a given financial price or price relationship level (or trend), or an economic (commercial; business) or political situation substantially relevant to them, has reached or soon will attain a very important point or stage. Thus figuratively speaking, a marketplace (its level and trend) or an economic (or political scene) is or shortly will be at a crossroads. For example, the S+P 500, inflation, Federal Reserve policy, or the American federal fiscal situation can arrive at a crossroads.
Looking forward, people ask “what will happen from here?” People devotedly select, review, and weigh information to ascertain (develop personal opinions regarding) probabilities for a range of potential outcomes in the aftermath of this key situation. They differ in their views of “the” past and “the” present. In their forecasting (risk evaluation) process, some sentinels analyze the distance and duration a given price move has traveled or eventually (potentially) may move. In various fashions, prophets assess perceived interrelationships between interest rate, stock, foreign exchange, and other marketplaces.
Hence competitive financial arenas fill with diverse and enthusiastic bulls and bears (and neutral players) talking and acting in a variety of ways. Arrays of investors and speculators and traders and hedgers and risk managers ardently promote and behave according to competing viewpoints and probability assessments. Typically, each player views its own subjective analysis and outlook as “reasonable”, and probably at least as reasonable (intelligent, rational) as that of others. Consequently, we hear fervent rhetoric and see artful pictures relating not only to probabilities, but also patterns and trends, support and resistance, critical levels and turning points, breakout and breakdown, continuation and reversal, convergence and divergence, and lead and lags.
Many believe that some cultural situations are more difficult to predict than others. In any case, imagine future hypothetical (potential) events regarding a given marketplace (such as the S+P 500 or the United States Treasury 10 year note) or a particular economic or political battlefield (such as “the” US or global economy; American political wars). For some particular potential outcomes (including a related process creating it), many marketplace warriors will label the result as unlikely or very unlikely or unusual (against the odds; having little chance), or even unreasonable, irrational, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, astounding, surprising, crazy, impossible, and so forth.
Nevertheless, cultural history, including that of marketplaces, of course evidences that what many (or even the great majority of) clairvoyants viewed as very unlikely to occur indeed has happened. So in practice, many scouts look out for and consider so-called “tail risks” (subjectively highly unlikely outcomes) to some degree. A trader once said: “In commodities, the impossible happens at least once a year.” Besides, what will be highly unlikely or surprising to one cultural observer may not be so to another.
Let’s review several financial marketplaces which appear to be at or near a crossroads.
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Marketplace Crossroads (9-4-23)
Kenneth Burke remarks in “A Grammar of Motives”: “And so one can seek more and more money, as a symbolic way of attaining immortality.”
CONCLUSION AND OVERVIEW
In both stock and debt marketplace domains (and especially in stock arenas), securities owners (particularly “investors”) and their central banking, political, and media allies adore bullish price trends and employ artful rhetoric to promote them. Bullish enthusiasm for low yields in debt marketplaces of course has its limits. Central bankers (and stock investors and Wall Street and Main Street) do not want recessions or deflation and consequently “too low” interest rates, which are “bad” for (reflect or portend feebleness in) “the economy” and equities. But sometimes even negative nominal yields for government debt of leading advanced nations (such as Germany) allegedly are reasonable and praiseworthy. Moreover, for stock marketplaces, bull moves almost always are joyful and good!
All else equal, for equity realms such as America’s S+P 500, low (but not overly depressed) arithmetic interest rates and widespread faith that this rate pattern probably will persist for the foreseeable future tend to give birth to and sustain bullish stock trends. Over the past several years (and despite the horrifying stock price crash in first quarter 2020), ongoing and successful yield repression (enhanced by money printing and fortified by accommodative sermons) by the revered Federal Reserve Board and its trusty friends, and often aided by massive government deficit/”stimulus” spending, encouraged major bull climbs in the United States stock marketplace. In addition, low interest rates (often negative in real terms) in advanced countries such as the United States inspired financial pilgrims avidly searching for adequate “yield” (return) to purchase corporate debt securities and other “asset classes” such as commodities.
Previous essays discussed key stock, interest rate, currency, and commodity marketplaces and their relationships, as well as the political scene. See essays “Emerging Marketplaces, Unveiling Danger” (12/2/21); “Hunting for Yield: Stocks, Interest Rates, Commodities, and Bitcoin” (11/7/21); “Rising Global Interest Rates and the Stock Marketplace Battlefield” (10/5/21); “America Divided and Dollar Depreciation” (9/7/21); “Great Expectations: Convergence and Divergence in Stock Playgrounds” (8/14/21); “Financial Fireworks: Accelerating American Inflation” (7/3/21); “Marketplace Rolling and Tumbling: US Dollar Depreciation” (6/1/21); “American Inflation and Interest Rates: Painting Pictures” (5/4/21); “Financial Marketplaces: Convergence and Divergence Stories” (4/6/21); “Truth and Consequences: Rising American Interest Rates” (3/9/21).
Several months ago, that analysis concluded that the signpost United States Treasury 10 year note yield had established a major bottom. Essays emphasized, in contrast to the opinion of the majority of central bankers, the likelihood that substantial global inflation likely would persist. Higher inflation alongside massive and increasing international debt burdens probably would encourage higher interest rates around the world.
Also, long run United States interest rate history (use the UST 10 year note as a benchmark) reveals that noteworthy yield increases lead to peaks for and subsequent declines in American stock benchmarks such as the S+P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Investigation pointed to rising rates for high-quality government debt outside of the United States, as in Germany. A pattern of higher yields in the United States corporate sector as well as in lower quality emerging marketplace sovereign debt appeared. Thus a rising rate environment has become a global phenomenon. Given not only the upward march of yields in the UST 10 year note, but also the international trend of rising rates, the probability of a peak in the S+P 500 and related leading nations increased.
America’s S+P 500 and stocks in other advanced nations soared to new highs after February 2021 while emerging marketplace equities have marched downhill (price divergence). However, the chronicle of those two broad marketplace realms at least since the Goldilocks Era of the mid-2000s reveals that their price and time trends tend to coincide. Over the long run, these landscapes are bullish (or bearish) “together”. In the current constellation of rising American and international yields, in both government and corporate areas, that warned of eventual price convergence between the S+P 500 and emerging marketplace stocks. The S+P 500’s record high in early January 2022 occurred near in time to interim highs in developing nation equities.
“Emerging Marketplaces, Unveiling Dangers” (12/2/21) concluded: “These intertwined patterns warn that the S+P 500 probably has established a notable top or soon will do so”.
The longer run viewpoints of “Emerging Marketplaces, Unveiling Dangers” and related recent essays remain intact. The paradise of low interest rates in the United States and around the globe will continue to disappear. This ominous upward yield shift in the UST 10 year note and elsewhere endangers the heavenly bull move in the S+P 500 and related stock marketplaces. The S+P 500’s stellar high, 1/4/22’s 4819, probably was a major peak; if its future price surpasses that celestial height, it probably will not do so by much.
The UST 10 year note yield probably will ascend to at least the 2.50 to 3.00 percent range, with a substantial likelihood of achieving a considerably higher elevation. The Federal Reserve and other high priests of central banking probably will not engage in substantial actions to rescue the S+P 500 unless it tumbles around twenty percent or more from a prior pinnacle.
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Paradise Lost- the Departure of Low Interest Rates (2-9-22)
“I think I’ll go to sleep and dream about piles of gold getting bigger and bigger and bigger.” Fred C. Dobbs, in the 1948 movie, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (John Huston, director)
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. Apparent convergence/divergence and lead/lag patterns between currency, interest rate, stock, and commodity marketplaces nevertheless offer guidance to players seeking to explain, predict, or profit from financial price movements. Marketplace history need not repeat itself, either entirely or even in part. Thus these relationships can change, sometimes dramatically. Fundamental supply/demand factors and trends are not written in stone. And competing historians and clairvoyants do not necessarily share the same perspectives or tell the same stories regarding either a given financial playground or its relationships to other arenas.
The relationships between gold and the US dollar, as well as those between gold and other commodities and stock and interest rate marketplaces, are complex. Often, gold prices travel in roughly similar fashion to those of base metals in general and the overall petroleum complex. Yet sometimes substantial fears regarding financial meltdown (asset value destruction) or striking worries about political evolution or disruption also can influence gold’s supply/demand and price profile, and thereby gold’s interrelations with commodities as well as currency and securities marketplaces. In any case, significant gold price trend changes often precede or roughly coincide (or “confirm”) those elsewhere.
Gold probably established an important low not long ago, at $1124 on 12/15/16. Suppose this gold rally continues for at least the near term. The gold ascent probably warns of peaks in the broad real trade-weighted United States dollar (“TWD”) and the S+P 500. The current divergence between the S+P 500 and emerging marketplace nation stocks in recent months likewise warns of these trend shifts. Relevant to this viewpoint, the 10 year United States Treasury note yield established a major low at 1.32 percent on 7/6/16. In addition, suppose gold’s recent climb eventually coincides with a renewed slump in the LMEX base metals index (London Metal Exchange) from its 11/28/16 top at 2857, and at least a modest tumble in benchmark petroleum prices. That probably will interrelate with this scenario of US dollar weakness and erosion of S+P 500 and emerging marketplace stock prices.
The American political theater is relevant to this outlook for gold price and its relationship to the US dollar and other marketplaces. Trump’s remarkable Presidential victory and his likely policies probably have increased fears in both American and international domains regarding the quality of America’s political leadership and the consequences of its economic (political) philosophy. Moreover, the nation’s various sharp cultural divisions and related partisan political conflicts will not disappear anytime soon.
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Gold and Goldilocks- 2017 Marketplaces (1-10-17)