Everything and the Kitchen Sink

After the first inter-meeting rate cut in early March, we opined that further rate cuts were a near certainty and that “not-QE” would swiftly morph into “QE, next iteration” (see Rate Cutters Unanimous for the details). As it turned out, the monetary mandarins did not even wait for the official FOMC meeting before deciding to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the markets. Not only were rates insta-ZIRPed, but “not-QE” became “QE on steroids, plus”.

 

The federal debt monetization machinery goes into orbit. Moon landing next?

 

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Easy Money Becomes Even Easier

Last week the FOMC surprised the markets with a rare inter-meeting rate cut. As the FOMC statement released on the occasion reveals, the decision to cut the  federal funds rate by a hefty 50 basis points was unanimous. The much-lamented “zero bound” is coming closer rather quickly.

 

A happy little money tree… from “The Joy of Printing”

 

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Containment Fail

We want to share a few observations about the growing COVID-19 epidemic, based on what we have seen so far. It has been obvious for a while now that the attempt to contain the spread of the virus has essentially failed. Ever since case numbers started to soar in South Korea, Italy and Iran, it was clear that hopes that the outbreak would remain confined to China were misplaced.

 

Doubleplus-ungood micro-organism COVID-19 looking for cells to infect

 

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Big Moves, Widening Spreads

The big news this week was the drop in the prices of the metals (though we believe that it is the dollar which is going up), $57 and $1.81 respectively.

 

Despair at the Unjustly Injured Gold Bugs Anonymous meeting… [PT]

 

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Post Hoc Fallacy

On Tuesday, at the precise moment Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell commenced delivering his semiannual monetary policy report to the House Financial Services Committee, something unpleasant happened. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) didn’t go up. Rather, it went down.

 

The Fed chair and His Magnificence, God Emperor, Field Marshall & Stable Genius, POTUS Donald J. Trump: a complicated relationship. [PT]

 

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A Review of Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, Vol. 5

Holy Writ

The posthumous release of Murray Rothbard’s fifth volume of his early American history series, Conceived in Liberty, is a cause of celebration not only for those interested in the country’s constitutional period, but also for the present day as the nation is faced with acute social, economic, and political crises.

 

Murray Rothbard, the foremost representative of the “American branch” of the Austrian School of Economics was not only an accomplished economic theorist, but also a great historian and political philosopher, who provided us with highly valuable insights and critical rebuttals of what is considered established and “acceptable” opinion these days. [PT]

 

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An Example of Strong Single Stock Seasonality

Many individual stocks exhibits phases of seasonal strength. Being invested in these phases is therefore an especially promising strategy.

 

Danish drug company Novo Nordisk

 

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Historic Misjudgments in Hindsight

Viewing the past through the lens of history is unfair to the participants.  Missteps are too obvious.  Failures are too abundant.  Vanities are too absurd.  The benefit of hindsight often renders the participants mere imbeciles on parade.

 

The moment Custer realized things were not going exactly as planned. [PT]

 

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Bonanza Season

In the 18 December 2019 issue of Seasonal Insights I discussed the strong seasonal advance in precious metals around the turn of the year. In silver it begins in mid December and continues until the end of February. A roughly similar pattern can be observed in platinum and palladium, while seasonal buoyancy is at least to some degree evident in gold as well.

 

Long-term silver and platinum seasonal charts from the late 2019 issue of Seasonal Insights : the seasonally strongest phase lasts from mid December until late February. [PT]

 

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Market Drivers

The recent outbreak of a dangerous respiratory illness caused by a new Corona virus in China was widely blamed for the stock market sell-off on Monday last week. It is undoubtedly true that the epidemic has the potential to severely disrupt economic activity, although it is too early to come to a definitive conclusion about that. Be that as it may, the event actually serves as an excellent example illustrating that the news of the day are incidental to market action rather than causing it.

 

S&P 500 Index, 10-minute chart. A fairly strong sell-off on Monday last week, a vigorous rebound on Tuesday.

 

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Trepidation Nation

This week, while you were busy working, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, took time out from rubbing elbows with fellow movers and shakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to share his trepidations:

 

“The only thing I have trepidation about is negative interest rates, QE, and the diversion between stock prices and bond prices and yield and stuff like that…  I think it’s very hard for central banks to forever make up for bad policy elsewhere, that puts them in a trap.  We’re a little bit in that trap today with rates so low around the world.”

 

Jamie Dimon having nightmares in his money bunker [PT]

 

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An Unloved Sector

We rarely discuss individual stocks in these pages, but we make an exception now and then when we spot exceptional opportunities. This time the reason is actually more mundane: the vast majority of gold exploration stocks failed to benefit from the rally in precious metals prices last year. As a result many of them came under even greater pressure in the tax loss selling season at the end of the year. We made a list of such stocks late last year – a download link to the PDF document is provided below this post. Here is an example of such a stock:

 

ATAC (ATADF), one of many exploration stocks that came under selling pressure in last year’s tax loss selling period.

 

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