Author Archives: Pater Tenebrarum

     

 

 

A Quick Look at a few Technical Yardsticks and Comparisons

We went through numerous charts and data over the weekend to provide a snapshot of where market currently stands. This is in context with our idea that sudden downturns in the form of mini-crashes are likely to happen with very little advance warning, mainly due to market structure issues (the vast increase in systematic trading strategies) and the unique post “QE” environment.

 

Bad hair can be dangerous! Shock-haired Pete and his bro Suck-a-thumb have been traditionally used to get children in Germany and eventually across all of Europe to behave by traumatizing them with some of the most frightening horror stories ever thought up. Everybody in Europe knows these characters, and everybody was scared out of his wits by these stories as a child.

 

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A Well-Established Tradition

Seemingly out of the blue, equities suffered a few bad hair days recently. As regular readers know, we have long argued that one should expect corrections in the form of mini-crashes to strike with very little advance warning, due to issues related to market structure and the unique post “QE” environment. Credit spreads are traditionally a fairly reliable early warning indicator for stocks and the economy (and incidentally for gold as well). Here is a chart of US high yield spreads – currently they indicate that nothing is amiss:

 

As this chart shows, credit spreads do as a rule warn of impending problems for the stock market, the economy or both. Not every surge in spreads is followed by a bear market or a recession, but some sort of market upheaval is usually in the cards. Since the stock market normally peaks before the economy weakens sufficiently for a recession to be declared, the warnings prior to market tops are often subtle – usually all one gets is a confirmed breakout over initial resistance levels, at which time yields will still be quite low. At the moment credit spreads suggest that nothing untoward is expected to occur for as far as the eye can see (a.k.a. the near future). Will something intrude on that enviable and stress-free combination of Nirvana, Goldilocks and the Land of Cockaigne, where everything seems possible, especially good things? Will Santa Claus remain a permanent fixture of the junk bond and stock markets, handing out gifts to all those prepared to spice up their portfolios with bonds bereft of covenants and light in yield, triple-digit P/E stocks, or even CUBE stocks (=completely unburdened by ‘E’)? Perhaps Fisher’s permanent plateau has materialized 90 years later than originally envisaged, but we don’t think so.

 

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Federal Reserve Credit Contracts Further

We last wrote in July about the beginning contraction in outstanding Fed credit, repatriation inflows, reverse repos, and commercial and industrial lending growth, and how the interplay between these drivers has affected the growth rate of the true broad US money supply TMS-2 (the details can be seen here: “The Liquidity Drain Becomes Serious” and “A Scramble for Capital”).

 

The Fed has clearly changed course under Jerome Powell – for now, anyway.

 

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A Surprise Rout in the Bond Market

At the time of writing, the stock market is recovering from a fairly steep (by recent standards) intraday sell-off. We have no idea where it will close, but we would argue that even a recovery into the close won’t alter the status of today’s action – it is a typical warning shot. Here is what makes the sell-off unique:

 

30 year bond and 10-year note yields have broken out from a lengthy consolidation pattern. This has actually surprised us, as we felt that the large speculative net short position in bonds and notes was prone to trigger a short covering rally. Alas, the opposite has happened.

 

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The Most Comprehensive Collection of Charts Relevant to Gold is Here

Our friends from Incrementum (a European asset management company) have just released the annual “In Gold We Trust” chart book, which collects a wealth of statistics and charts relevant to gold, with extensive annotations. Many of these charts cannot be found anywhere else. The chart book is an excellent reference work for anyone interested in the gold market and financial markets in general. A download link for the chart book can be found at the end of this post.

 

Turn of the tides: monetary expansion becomes monetary contraction

 

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Sarah Westall Interviews Claudio Grass

Last month our friend Claudio Grass, roving Mises Institute Ambassador and a Switzerland-based investment advisor specializing in precious metals, was interviewed by Sarah Westall for her Business Game Changers channel.

 

Sarah Westall and Claudio Grass

 

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The Most Expensive Tweet of All Time

He finally done did it this time – this is to say, he did himself in. It was already widely known that Elon Musk sent out one tweet too many in early August. But it seems now that what he posted on that fateful day may well end up as the most expensive sequence of nine words ever blasted over the intertubes. For those who haven’t followed the story, this is the tweet in question:

 

Elon Musk’s fateful tweet – here is a link to the thread on Twitter:  Taking TSLA private fantasy.

 

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A Rebound Gets Underway – Will It Have Legs?

Ever since the gold indexes have broken below the shelf of support that has held them aloft since late 2016 (around 165-170 points in the HUI Index), the sector was not much to write home about, to put it mildly. Precious metals stocks will continue to battle the headwinds of institutional tax loss selling until the end of October, to be followed by the not-quite-as-strong headwinds of individual tax loss selling in the final weeks of the calendar year – a fairly regularly recurring script in recent years. Nevertheless, recent developments make it worthwhile to take another look at the situation. Here is a daily chart of the HUI:

 

The HUI daily, plus two proxies for gold investors shortly after looking at their end-of-August statements. As the annotation indicates, one reason to take a closer look is the recent strong divergence between prices and momentum oscillators such as RSI and MACD. But that is not the only thing that is of interest.

 

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A Lengthy Non-Confirmation

As we have frequently pointed out in recent months, since beginning to rise from the lows of the sharp but brief downturn after the late January blow-off high, the US stock market is bereft of uniformity. Instead, an uncommonly lengthy non-confirmation between the the strongest indexes and the broad market has been established.

The chart below illustrates the situation – it compares the performance of the DJIA (still no new high since January, although it has come close), the NDX (one of the best-performing indexes, along with the Russell 2000/ RUT) and the NYA (our proxy for the broad market):

 

DJIA vs. NDX vs. NYA – this rather glaring and very lengthy divergence is a symptom of a narrowing market. The vast bulk of the uptrend in benchmarks such as the S&P 500 was due to the surge in the “FAANG” stocks (FB, AAPL, AMZN, NFLX, GOOGL) – but even this group of stocks is no longer in uniform tracking mode, as FB has fallen out of bed and NFLX and even GOOGL have begun to look wobbly lately. File under interesting trivia: AMZN and AAPL, the two strongest stocks of the group, reached their highest closing levels to date on September 4, the day after Labor Day  (the year-to-date closing high in the NDX was recorded on August 29). In 1929, Labor Day fell on September 2 and the DJIA topped out on September 3.

 

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Shifts in Credit-Land: Repatriation Hurts Small Corporate Borrowers

A recent Bloomberg article informs us that US companies with large cash hoards (such as AAPL and ORCL) were sizable players in corporate debt markets, supplying plenty of funds to borrowers in need of US dollars. Ever since US tax cuts have prompted repatriation flows, a “$300 billion-per-year hole” has been left in the market, as Bloomberg puts it. The chart below depicts the situation as of the end of August (not much has changed since then).

 

Short term (1-3 year) yields have risen strongly as a handful of cash-rich tech companies have begun to repatriate funds to the US.

 

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Maurice Jackson Speaks with Jayant Bhandari About Emerging Market Currencies, the Trade War, US Foreign Policy and More

Maurice Jackson of Proven & Probable has recently conducted a new interview with our friend and occasional contributor to this site, Jayant Bhandari, who is inter alia the host of the annual Capitalism and Morality seminar.

 

Maurice Jackson (left) and Jayant Bhandari (right)

 

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The Final Stage of a Crack-Up Boom

For economists the dire downward spiral of Venezuela’s economy holds the same fascination black holes hold for physicists. Both illustrate what happens amid the most extreme conditions imaginable. It is thought that this may potentially provide clues of a more general nature. The remnants of massive imploded stars are inanimate and many light years distant; regardless of how violent conditions in their vicinity are, they cannot touch us. Unfortunately, extreme economic conditions definitely involve a great deal of human suffering.

 

“We are the humanist socialism that will save the world”, from Venezuelan cartoonist Weil (he always draws the dear leaders with big wads of dollars sticking out of their pockets, making them look like otherworldly birds – look for his work on the intertubes).

 

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THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

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