October 5, 2016, 4:15pm EST
As you might recall, since I’ve written this daily note starting in January, I’ve focused on a few core themes.
First, central banks are in control. They’ve committed trillions of dollars to manufacture a recovery. They’ve fired arguably every bullet possible (“whatever it takes”). And for everyone’s sake, they can’t afford to see the recovery derail – nor will they. With that, they need stocks higher. They need the housing recovery to continue. They need to maintain the consumer and growing business confidence that they have manufactured through their policies.
A huge contributor to their effort is higher stocks. And higher stocks only come, in this environment, when people aren’t fearing another big shock/ big shoe to drop. The central banks have promised they won’t let it happen. To this point, they’ve made good on their promise through a number of unilateral and coordinated defensive maneuvers along the way (i.e. intervening to quell shock risks).
The second theme: As the central banks have been carefully manufacturing this recovery, the Fed has emerged with the bet that moving away from “emergency policies” could help promote and sustain the recovery. It’s been a tough road on that front. But it has introduced a clear and significant divergence between the Fed’s policy actions and that of Japan, Europe and much of the rest of the world. That creates a major influence on global capital flows. The dollar already benefits as a relative safe parking place for global capital, especially in an uncertain world. Add to that, the expectation of a growing gap between U.S. yields and the rest of the world, and more and more money flows into the dollar… into U.S. assets.
With that in mind, this all fuels a higher dollar and higher U.S. asset prices. And when a dollar-denominated asset begins to move, it’s more likely to attract global speculative capital (because of the dollar benefits).
With that in mind, let’s ignore all of the day to day news, which is mostly dominated by what could be the next big threat, and take an objective look at these charts.
Clearly the trend in stocks since 2009 is higher (like a 45 degree angle). Since that 2009 bottom in stocks, we’ve had about 4 higher closes for every 1 lower close on a quarterly basis. That’s a very strong trend and we’ve just broken out to new highs last quarter (above the white line).
This dollar chart shows the distinct effect of divergent global monetary policy and flows to the dollar. You can see the events annotated in the chart, and the parabolic move in the dollar. Any positive surprises in U.S. economic data as we head into the year end will only drive expectations of a wider policy gap — good for a higher dollar.
We looked at this breakout in oil last week after the OPEC news. Oil traded just shy of $50 today. That’s 17% higher since September 20th.
Oil trades primarily in dollars. And we have a catalyst for higher oil now that OPEC has said it will make the first production cut in eight years. That makes oil a prime spot for speculative capital (more “fuel” for oil). And as we’ve discussed in recent days, weeks and months… higher oil, given the oil price bust that culminated earlier this year, is good for stocks, and good for the economy.
What’s the anti-dollar trade? Gold. As we discussed yesterday, gold has broken down.
If we keep it simple and think about this major policy divergence, we have plenty of reasons to believe a higher dollar and higher stocks will continue to lead the way.
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