By Bryan Rich

June 10,  5:00 pm EST

Last week we had signals from the Fed Chair that they were prepared to cut rates if needed.

That’s all the market needed to hear to fuel a bounce back in stocks.  And that bounce accelerated when the weak jobs numbers report hit on Friday.

This is the “bad news is good news” dynamic.  Souring economic data gives more impetus for the Fed to move.  And expectations for lower rates are fuel for stocks.

So, the market is now pricing in an 80% chance of a rate cut at their Julymeeting. But I suspect that’s not soon enough.

If stocks continue the strong recovery, on the expectation of rate cuts coming down the pike, the likelihood of the Fed actually delivering on rate cuts diminishes greatly.  To put it simply, the better stocks do, the less likely it is that the Fed will cut.  The stock market matters.

Remember, this overhang of concern in markets is less about what’sactually happening in the economy, and more about what might happen (i.e. the prospects that the U.S. economy and global economy may deteriorate IF the stalemate with China continues indefinitely).

I suspect that Trump wants and needs a move from the Fed at their Junemeeting, which is just seven business days away.  The G20 meeting comes later this month (June 29-30) where Trump and Xi are expected to have a sit-down to discuss the trade deal.  With a rate cut under his belt, Trump might feel more compelled to claim victory on the China trade talks and do the deal, giving himself enough runway into the 2020 elections to have a booming stock market and booming economy.

With the above in mind, it makes since for Trump to ramp up the trade rhetoric (and any other threatening rhetoric) ahead of that June Fed meeting (keeping pressure on stocks), in attempt to force the Fed’s hand, sooner rather than later.

This would explain why he called into CNBC this morning.  Reminding everyone of his hardline stance on China (his indifference on hammering them with tariffs indefinitely), is perhaps his way of trying to tame the stock market recovery.  It may sound like a crazy theory (Trump leveraging a monumental trade deal to manipulate Fed policy, in effort to surgically optimize the economic outcome going into the election), but I think it’s happening.  And he’s doing it because he can.  He’s in the driver’s seat.  He has the leverage and he is pulling the levers.

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By Bryan Rich

June 7,  5:00 pm EST

We had the jobs report this morning. As we discussed on Wednesday, the weak ADP report was telegraphing a “below expectations” government jobs report.

Indeed, that’s what we got this morning.

And, while a bad job number is typically seen as bad news for stocks, in a world where the Fed has been on the hot seat to deliver a rate cut, it increases the likelihood of that happening. A rate cut is fuel for stocks, and with that, stocks continued the very strong bounceback, closing near the highs of the week.

What problems would a rate cut solve? It would mostly improve sentiment. A yield curve inversion has been spooking markets now for a while (as it has a record of predicting recessions). Perhaps contrary to what some may think, a rate cut by the Fed should steepen the yield curve. It would not only lower the front end of the curve (shorter term rates), but likely increase longer term rates by improving sentiment (i.e. higher long-term rates on the optimism that the Fed isn’t going to kill the economy through overly-tight monetary policy).

Now, while stocks have continued with a very persistent march higher this week, gold has also marched higher, and the dollar has fallen, and rates have remained near dead lows. What’s going on?

Is it the threat of tariffs hitting Mexico on Monday? I don’t think so. Stocks have well recovered and surpassed the levels prior to Trump’s tweet that threatened Mexico.

There may be something bigger happening.

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at this technical reversal signal in the dollar (chart below) and talked about the prospects of the trade war with China ending in a grand and coordinated currency agreement. The dollar has since been on the move (lower).

What do I mean by a currency agreement? There are a lot of similarities between the U.S/China standoff and that of U.S. and Japan in the 1980s. That was ended with the “Plaza Accord” — an agreement between the U.S., Japan, Germany, England and France. The Plaza Accord was a plan to balance global trade, through a 50% depreciation of the dollar (vs. the yen and d-mark).

As I said a couple of weeks ago, we may wake up one day and find a similar agreement has been made between the U.S. and major global trading partners (which may include China, or not). It might be a deal between the U.S. and China to “revalue” the yuan (i.e. strengthen it). Or it may exclude China (just G3 economies). With the behavior in markets the past few days, it smells like something is cooking.

By Bryan Rich

June 5,  5:00 pm EST

It’s jobs week.  We’ll get the May jobs report on Friday.

As we’ve been discussing, the market is on Fed watch, looking for a rate cut from the Fed.  And as the Fed says, they are closely watching the data for signs of deterioration in the economy.

On that note, there are few data points more scrutinized than the jobs data.

This morning we had a glimpse of what the Friday report might look like.  The May ADP jobs report today showed just 27k jobs added.  That was a huge miss.  The expectation was 180k.  The government report due on Friday is expected to show 185k new jobs.  If that number comes in much lower (i.e. slower job creation), is that enough to prompt a June rate cut?

Maybe.

Equally, if not more important to the Fed, is the sharp decline that continues in crude oil.    As I said last week, there are two clear influences on Fed policy over the past few years. Stocks and crude oil.

As for oil prices, the Fed has a history of acting when prices move sharply lower. Low oil prices weigh on inflation, and inflation is already running at very soft levels.

Why is that a bad thing?  Inflation that’s too weak, can threaten deflation.  They have the tools to deal with inflation.  They raise rates.  But the tools are limited to deal with deflation.  They cut rates.  But when rates hit zero, they have to get creative (like QE, negative rates, etc.).  And the consequences of losing the deflation battle are big.  When people hold onto their money thinking things will be cheaper tomorrow than they are today, that mindset can bring the economy to a dead halt. It’s a formula that can become irreversible.

Adding to the deflation threat, there is a global financial stability threat that comes from low oil prices. As we found in 2016, when oil prices crashed, the shale industry is very vulnerable.  Defaults started lining up in the industry, which makes banks vulnerable.  When banks are vulnerable, credit tends to tighten and the financial system can quickly become unstable.

So, what is the magic number for oil?  $50.  A recent Dallas Fed survey has the breakeven level for shale producers at $50.  Crude traded as low as $50.60 today.

If you haven’t signed up for my Billionaire’s Portfolio, don’t delay … we’ve just had another big exit in our portfolio, and we’ve replaced it with the favorite stock of the most revered investor in corporate America — it’s a stock with double potential.

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By Bryan Rich

June 4, 5:00 pm EST

We’ve talked about the build up to a Fed rate cut.  On that note, we heard from the Fed Chair this morning (more in a moment).

As we’ve discussed, the market has been bullying the Fed for a rate cut, with a 10- year yield sitting near the lowest levels since late 2017 – almost 120 basis points lower than the levels of just six months ago.

Here’s what that looks like on a chart … 

For perspective, the last time the U.S. 10-year government bond yield (the benchmark “market determined” interest rate) was here, the Fed determined benchmark interest rate was only 1.25%.  The Fed is now at 2.50%.

Is the Fed listening to the message from the interest rate market?  The good news: It seems so.

We’ve heard from Fed officials (yesterday and today), acknowledging that they (the Fed) have the flexibility (with low and tame inflation) to cut rates as an insurance policy against an economic slowdown.

The Fed Chair himself said as much this morning in prepared remarks for his scheduled speech at a Chicago Fed conference.  Here’s what he said…

“I’d like first to say a word about recent developments involving trade negotiations and other matters.  We do not know how or when these issues will be resolved.  We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion…

So, we had a tone-deaf Fed in December, hiking rates into falling stock markets and growing global economic risks.  And now it appears the Fed is hearing more clearly.

With that, we get a big bounce back in stocks over the past 24-hours.  And, importantly, the S&P 500 has recovered back above the 200-day moving average (the purple line).

And, as you can see in the chart of 10-year yields above, we’re also getting big technical support at the lows yesterday in interest rates.  Both charts support the scenario of recovery/bounce.
If you haven’t signed up for my Billionaire’s Portfolio, don’t delay … we’ve just had another big exit in our portfolio, and we’ve replaced it with the favorite stock of the most revered investor in corporate America — it’s a stock with double potential.

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By Bryan Rich

May 31, 5:00 pm EST

We end the month of May today.  Things were going quite well for markets, with stocks sitting on record highs, until Trump did this over the first weekend of the month …

 

 

With the above in mind, let’s look back at my May 6th note: “Why would Trump risk complicating a deal, even more, by threatening China with a deadline/tariff increase? Because he has leverage. He has a stock market near record highs, and a strong economy and the winds of ultra-easy global monetary policy at his back …

So, Trump has a winwin going into the week. If the threat works, he gets a deal done, and likely gives less to get it done. If China backs off, stocks go down, and he gets the Fed’s rate cut he’s been looking for–stocks go back up.”

As we know, China walked.  And Trump is now using a similar position of strength to influence policy with Mexico.  As such, stocks have now fallen nearly 7% from the highs. And the prospects for a Fed rate cut are looking very strong.

How strong?  The interest rate market is pricing in a 90% chance of a rate cut by year end, and a 60% chance of a two rate cuts.  But despite the sharp decline in global interest rates, the market seems to be well underestimating the chances for a Fed rate cut this month — at the June 19 Fed meeting.

There are two clear influences on Fed policy over the past few years.  Stocks and crude oil.  The latter weighs on inflation.  While the Fed claims to ignore the influence of food and energy in their inflation measure, they have a history of acting when oil moves sharply.  And inflation is already running at very soft levels.  On that note, what was the biggest loser for the day, week and month?  Crude oil.  Crude was down 7.5% today, 10% for the week, and 16% for the month.

If you haven’t signed up for my Billionaire’s Portfolio, don’t delay … we’ve just had another big exit in our portfolio, and we’ve replaced it with the favorite stock of the most revered investor in corporate America — it’s a stock with double potential.

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By Bryan Rich

May 30, 5:00 pm EST

The first revision of Q1 GDP came in this morning, in-line with expectations (at 3.1%).  As yields swoon, and stocks have given back some gains for the month, this growth number today is good reminder that the state of the U.S. economy is good. 

Remember, back in April, the first look at Q1 GDP came in as a huge positive surprise (at 3.2%).   Many were expecting it to be a terrible quarter.  Goldman Sachs thought the quarter would produce just 0.7% growth.  They were wrong, and they weren’t alone.  At the end of the first quarter, the Atlanta Fed’s GDP model was estimating that the economy grew at only 0.3% in Q1.

With that in mind, don’t get too caught up in the souring growth story.  At the moment, the consensus view on Wall Street is for Q2 growth to come in at 1.8%.   And the Atlanta Fed model is looking for 1.3%.  Both are well lower than the White House envisioned 3%+ growth trend.

But, for perspective, there are some clear factors working in favor of the higher (not lower) growth case.

The job market is strong.  We have monthly new jobs running at a 12-month average of 218k.  That’s well above pre-financial crisis average monthly job growth. The unemployment number at 3.6% is the lowest since 1969.

Most importantly:  Wage growth has been on the move for the past 18 months, now sustaining above 3%.  And Q1 productivity came in at 3.6%, the hottest productivity reading in almost a decade.  The economy can grow by expanding the size of the workforce or the productivity of the workforce.  We’re finally getting solid productivity growth.

 

By Bryan Rich

May 16, 5:00 pm EST

There’s a lot of chatter about China offloading of U.S. Treasuries.

China is the largest foreign holder of Treasuries, with a stake of $1.1 trillion.  And the latest report from the U.S. Treasury showed China, as Reuters puts it, selling “the most U.S. Treasuries in nearly two-and-a-half years.”  Sounds scary.

The dark scenario of China dumping our treasuries is not a new one.  It has been talked about for a long time as existential threat.  Surely, an increase in tariffs and a tough negotiating position from the U.S. would set this into motion. Right?

Let’s take a closer look at this threat. 

 

Above is a snapshot of the recent TICs report.  You can see that China has sold over the past twelve months, $67 billion worth of Treasuries.  You can also see that any sign of “systematic selling” was short-lived (five months) last year.  It came to a halt when the sell-off in global stocks elevated the risks to global stability (i.e. when risk rises, they and everyone wants to own Treasuries — the safest parking spot for global capital).

You can also see that, over the past twelve months, the other biggest holder of U.S. Treasuries, Japan, was a net buyer (of $34 billion) – as was most of the rest of the world (to the tune of $250 billion).

The take away:  Even if China were to “dump” Treasuries there are plenty of buyers.  Don’t forget, the Bank of Japan is printing yen to buy assets (domestic and global). They could buy unlimited Treasuries.  The Fed can buy more Treasuries (they already own $2 trillion worth).

As we’ve discussed, China’s tool to fight tariffs isn’t the U.S. Treasury market, it’s their currency.  And devaluing the yuan increases the value of their dollar-based Treasury holdings (in yuan terms).  But any big one-off devaluation of the yuan would likely get China’s other global trading partners more visibly into the fight.

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By Bryan Rich

May 14, 5:00 pm EST

Yesterday we looked at the big technical support level for the Dow — the 200-day moving average.

That level held beautifully, and stocks bounced aggressively today.

Here’s a look at that chart now ….

 

With stocks bouncing after a quick 5% correction, we also have a big technical area of support holding in the interest rate market.  As you can see in this next chart, the 10-year yield is holding this big trendline into 2.40%.

So, we have a stronger dollar today, strong commodities prices, higher global stocks and higher rates.  What’s different today, relative to yesterday?  Nothing.

We have a market underpinned by better than expected economic data and earnings. And (different than December) we have a Fed that is in a relatively accommodative stand, promising to do nothing to disrupt the trajectory of the economy and stock market.  That makes stocks a buy on dips.

By Bryan Rich

May 13, 5:00 pm EST

As we discussed last week, the Chinese government will use the yuan to counterpunch tariffs.

They’ve now weakened the yuan by 3% since last month.

If China were to move the currency back to it’s pre-managed float levels (i.e. the peg, which stood at 8.27 against the dollar from the late 90s through 2005), that would be about a 20% devaluation in the yuan (to offset a 25% tariff).

.

 

That’s unlikely.  It would set off a response from more of the trading partner universe (which has been quiet, and happy to let the U.S. do the fighting for them).  Will the Chinese government move it back above 7 (maybe mid 7s) yuan to the dollar? Likely.

And with that dynamic at work, and an outlook of a worsening economy, the Chinese people will use any means possible to get money out of China.

Remember, China forbids it’s citizens to move more than $50,000 out of the country per year.  The rich have gotten around that in the past through buying expensive foreign real estate, creative foreign investments, invoice schemes, even forcing employees to transfer money for them to foreign bank accounts.  But in 2017, China cracked down on the capital flow exodus.  And as we discussed last week, the Chinese then discovered Bitcoin.  The value skyrocketed from $1k to over $19k.  China cryptocurrency exchanges were said to account for 90% of global bitcoin trading.

But in late 2017, the Chinese government cracked down on Bitcoin — banning cryptocurrency exhanges. That set off the crash, from $19k to $3k.

Owning and buying Bitcoin in China is not banned – though it is more difficult now.  But we may now be seeing the effect of the Bitcoin futures market and off-exchange (peer-to-peer) trading as liquidity sources for Chinese citizens to respond to potential devaluation in the yuan.  Bitcoin is on the move, big-time — up 25% since Friday afternoon!

Here’s a look at that chart today …

What about stocks?  Stocks have now fallen over 5% from the highs.  That’s leaves the S&P 500 still up 13% year-to-date.  The Dow is up 9%.  Importantly, today we ran into a big technical level on the Dow– the 200-day moving average.  That level marks a 5.5% decline from the highs of the year in the Dow.  This is a level to buy, not sell. 

If you haven’t signed up for my Billionaire’s Portfolio, don’t delay … we’ve just had another big exit in our portfolio, and we’ve replaced it with the favorite stock of the most revered investor in corporate America — it’s a stock with double potential.

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By Bryan Rich

May 10, 5:00 pm EST

We end the week with continued stalemate on a trade deal.  Given that trade talks will continue (despite the tariff escalation), it’s not considered a “no deal.”  That’s a relative positive for markets.

As we discussed, as long as Trump will keep the door open, the Chinese will keep talking, and will (in the meantime) protect their exports by weakening the currency.  The yuan is now trading at its weakest level since early January, when trade talks were re-opened after a month long stalemate.

Now, let’s talk about the Uber IPO today …

It didn’t go well for Silicon Valley.  Uber started trading publicly below the range they expected, and instead of getting a huge opening day “lyft”, it traded down on the day.

We’ve talked quite a bit about the IPOs coming from the Silicon Valley hype machine.  Lyft got it all started, and here’s what that chart looks like now…

 

With this above chart in mind and the performance of Uber today, let’s revisit an excerpt from my note from last month …

Pro Perspectives – April 16, 2019

Lyft and Uber, dumping shares on the public at a combined $140 billion plus valuation, may mark the end to the Silicon Valley boom cycle.

As we know, Lyft was valued as high as $25 billion when it started trading publicly.  Some paid a $25 billion valuation for the privilege of owning a company that did a little over $2 billion in revenue, while losing almost a billion dollars — with slowing revenue growth and widening losses. It has now shed about $9 billion in market cap in thirteen days.

Uber is on deck.  Uber filed its S-1 this week.  In this public disclosure document, we find a company that has privately raised $24 billion, valued at $68 billion in the private market, that has been thought to float shares at as much as $120 billion valuation.  This is a company that (like Lyft) also with slowing revenue growth and widening losses.  Losses?  The S-1 shows a swing from $ 4 billion loss in 2017, to a near $1 billion profit in 2018.  But if we back out the a couple of unusual items (like the gain of a divestiture of some foreign businesses and an unrealized gain in an “investment”) the company lost $4.2 billion on $11 billion in revenue.

As we discussed last month, the hyper-growth valuations on these perceived hyper-growth companies, are unlikely to get hyper-growth at this stage.  That will be a problem for those taking the bait on the IPO.”

If you haven’t signed up for my Billionaire’s Portfolio, don’t delay … we’ve just had another big exit in our portfolio, and we’ve replaced it with the favorite stock of the most revered investor in corporate America — it’s a stock with double potential.

Join now and get your risk free access by signing up here.