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Posts Tagged ‘devaluation of dollar’

The New World Order

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 12th, 2010 8:12 AM |

After three years of economic turmoil, why do I believe we are just now entering the second phase of a protracted economic drag here in the United States? While many economists and analysts would like to parse each and every bit of data that comes across the tape—that is what they do for a living—I believe we are better served to focus on the larger waves and currents at play across our global economic landscape. What do I see? A New World Order.

Do not think for a second that this reality does not have real long term implications for our economy and our people. I am not saying that there will not be enormous economic opportunities for individuals and businesses alike, but the skeletons in our American closet can only be hidden so long. Let’s navigate. (more…)

October 24, 2009: Month to Date Market Review

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 24th, 2009 7:32 AM |

Did the market merely take a breather this week or is the ‘little engine that could’ getting tired? Are we distinguishing the winners from the laggards? Are the cracks in our economic foundation repairing or are some just too large to hold back the flow of red ink, i.e. embedded losses? Perhaps we are experiencing all of the above as we continue our journey along the new and varied trails of our economy. Let’s review the major economic statistics for the week, along with the month to date returns across a wide array of market segments.

I thank you for reading my work, and now let’s collectively ‘navigate the economic landscape,’ the mission of Sense on Cents. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

ECONOMIC DATA

I largely discount positive news on the housing front as I view them largely manipulated by Uncle Sam while delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures move ever higher. This may be an oversight on my part, but so be it.

Aside from that, I believe the most meaningful news this week was the GDP report from the UK. Please see my Friday morning commentary highlighting how the UK remains mired in recession.

Let’s move along to market performance. The figures I provide are the weekly close and the month-to-date returns on a percentage basis:

U.S. DOLLAR

$/Yen: 92.08 versus 89.68, +2.7%
Euro/Dollar: 1.500 versus 1.4635, +2.5%
U.S. Dollar Index: 75.44 versus 76.72, -1.7%

Commentary: the overall U.S. Dollar Index declined marginally this week. The dollar has improved versus the Japanese yen, but remains decidedly weak versus the Euro. The U.S. Dollar Index did break below 75.00 at one point early Friday. The correlation between the U.S. Dollar Index and the equity markets remains quite high. Both markets ended the week close to unchanged. Have too many people bought equities and commodities while having sold the U.S. greenback? I have been asking that question for the last month so no reason to stop now. The biggest impact of the weak dollar is seen in the commodity markets and long term interest rates. Commodities continue to trade with a firm tone while interest rates move higher.

I reiterate my comment from previous weeks: while I think Washington is not disappointed in a relatively weak dollar, although they should be (“Dollar Devaluation Is a Dangerous Game”), other countries are not overly keen about further dollar weakness. Why? A weak dollar puts those countries in a marginally less competitive position in international trade. On this topic, please read “Brazil Wants A ‘Real’ity Check.”

COMMODITIES

Oil: $79.65/barrel versus $70.39, +13.1% REMAINS VERY FIRM
Gold: $1055/oz. versus $1008.2, +4.6%
DJ-UBS Commodity Index: 137.32 versus 127.683, +7.5%

Commentary: I repeat from last week, unless you grow your own crops or have your own source of energy, you should expect to get increasingly squeezed as prices at the supermarket and gas station are likely to head higher. While Washington will not address this development, these price moves are directly correlated with Washington’s weak dollar policy. The banks and others able to borrow cheap money for trading and investing benefit from the weak dollar. American consumers and savers get stuck with the bill.

The  Baltic Dry Index once again moved higher and got back above the 3000 level. Is the improvement in the non-Japan Asian economic bloc for real? Certainly the economies in Europe and North American remain decidedly challenged.

I continue to believe these commodity tea leaves are an indication of inflationary expectations in these ‘inputs,’ while we encounter deflationary pressures in wages and real estate. (more…)

October 10, 2009: Month to Date Market Review

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 10th, 2009 10:12 AM |

We are reaching a point in our new “Uncle Sam” economy where rhetoric from Wall Street, Washington, and global financial centers seems to be having greater impact than true market and economic fundamentals. Why? Our financial and political ‘wizards’ are working overtime to reconnect the great ‘disconnect’ between Wall Street and Main Street. While we receive glimmers of hope in certain economic statistics, the dark clouds in employment and housing remain daunting.

Are the ‘Washington wizards’ (Bernanke, Geithner, Summers) providing hints of support for our greenback while truly hoping for a manageable decline? I believe they are, and I believe this financial engineering is a very dangerous game.

I thank you for reading my work, and now let’s collectively ‘navigate the economic landscape,’ the mission of Sense on Cents.

ECONOMIC DATA

Non-manufacturing Institute of Supply Management: this report rose above 50 (an indication of growth) with a positive development in new orders (this is clearly good), but with no signs of improvement in employment and pricing power by manufacturers.

Redbook: indications of slight improvement in same store sales although next week’s Retail Sales report will likely look exceptionally weak as it incorporates an end to the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program. Overall signs point to what is expected to be a weak holiday retail season.

Jobless Claims: overall claims declined, which presents a sign of stability within employment. That said, it is hard to be optimistic on the employment front on the heels of the employment report released on October 2nd (embedded within the Equity section of this commentary).

Trade Deficit: this deficit surprisingly narrowed, with a slight increase in exports combined with a slight decrease in imports. All other things being equal, this report would be positive for our dollar but the noise surrounding our currency is overwhelming the focus within this one month reading.

I would typically lead my review with focus on the equity and bond markets, but those sectors are actually following developments in the currency and commodity markets so let’s shift our focus accordingly.

How did the markets handle the Fed-speak, the data, and technical flows? Let’s continue navigating. The figures I provide are the weekly close and the month-to-date returns on a percentage basis.

U.S. DOLLAR

$/Yen: 89.78 vs. 89.68
Euro/Dollar: 1.4709 vs. 1.4635
U.S. Dollar Index: 76.35 vs. 76.72

Commentary: the overall U.S. Dollar Index has declined by approximately .5% this month, but the volatility and focus on movements in this space have been tremendous. Precipitated by an increase in rates by the Australian Central Bank midweek, the U.S. Dollar Index plunged below 76 which represents multi-year lows. The dollar weakness led to a move higher in global equities as traders, investors, and speculators were emboldened to enter into more ‘positive dollar carry trades.’

While I think Washington is not disappointed in a relatively weak dollar, although they should be (“Dollar Devaluation Is a Dangerous Game”), other countries are not overly keen about further dollar weakness. Why? A weak dollar puts those countries in a marginally less competitive position in international trade. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet voiced his concerns on this topic. Rest assured, the Asian nations feel the same way although they are careful in their comments. Adding further fuel to dollar weakness was speculation that the trading of oil and a basket of other commodities, which are currently transacted in U.S. dollars, would shift trading away from being dollar-based. On that note, let’s review the action in commodities.

COMMODITIES

Oil: $72.29/barrel vs. $70.39
Gold: $1050.1/oz. vs. $1008.2   !!!! THE BIG WINNER !!!!
DJ-UBS Commodity Index: 129.177 vs. 127.683

Commentary: I view this segment of the market to be the STRONGEST indicator of the global economic pulse. Additionally, the price action in commodities is likely a strong indication of the ‘positive carry’ trade put on by hedge funds and other traders.

The overall commodity index has moved higher by approximately 1.2% on the month, but the movements within specific commodities is gaining the real focus. Gold specifically has soared by over 4% this month. Why? Market speculation about a potential further slide in the greenback would be inflationary.  Oil and other commodities also benefited from the story I referenced above. The conundrum I find in this space revolves around overall levels of international trade. Are these commodities moving higher truly because of an increase in demand or merely because of speculative investing and trading? Where do we go to get a pulse on that? The Baltic Dry Index. How is our friendly indicator of global shipping activity doing?

The  Baltic Dry Index continues to move marginally lower. Can global equities in general and commodities specifically increase in value if the major indicator of global trade, that being the BDI (Baltic Dry Index), is in a downtrend? I think not for the long haul, but for a period of time a cheap funding vehicle, that is the U.S. dollar, can override market fundamentals.

I read these commodity tea leaves as sign of inflationary expectations in these ‘inputs’ while we encounter deflationary pressures in wages and real estate. What a world.

EQUITIES

DJIA: 9865, +1.6%
Nasdaq: 2139, +0.8%
S&P 500: 1071, +1.3%
MSCI Emerging Mkt Index: 946, +3.6%
DJ Global ex U.S.: 197.6, +1.5%

Commentary: equities regained momentum after last week’s selloff. Recall how just one week ago, we faced a remarkably weak and disappointing Unemployment Report which culminated a week in which equities had given up approximately 2%. Well, we not only recaptured that decline but rallied further by another 1-2%. This past week accounted for the strongest advancement in equities since early July. Are we poised for a breakout past 10,000 on the Dow? Well, we need to remain focused on what is driving the market . . . and that is the weak greenback.

Indications of economic strength in Australia compelled the Australian Central Bank to raise rates which drove the Aussie higher and the dollar to new lows. In the process, the ‘dollar carry trade’ gained momentum propelling global equities higher.

The initial earnings reports released continue to show no real signs of improvement in top line revenue generated by increased sales while the bottom lines have improved given ongoing cost cutting progams. If a company cuts ALL its costs, will its stock still go higher? Rising stock values ultimately need to be driven by ‘growth.’

BONDS/INTEREST RATES

2yr Treasury: .97%, an increase of 2 basis points or .01% 
10yr Treasury: 3.39%,
an increase of 9 basis points

The yield curve steepened (longer maturities underperformed shorter maturities) under the weight of another Treasury refunding (3yr, 10yr, and 30yr). The 30yr auction on Thursday was disappointing which precipitated the selloff. The bond market has been trading in sync with equities for the last few months. That price action is an anomaly as typically bonds will trade in an inverse relationship with equities. Comments by Bernanke in the latter part of the week about an eventual and timely increase in rates by the Fed did take the wind out of the bond market’s sails.

COY (High Yield ETF): 6.64, +3.8%
FMY (Mortgage ETF): 17.85, +0.3%
ITE (Government ETF): 57.77, -0.3%
NXR (Municipal ETF): 14.46, +0.1%

Commentary: while interest rates did move marginally higher over the week, overall they remain at remarkably low levels. The high-yield market remains on fire as that sector is benefiting from a lot of hedge funds allocating capital via the ‘dollar carry trade’ referenced previously.

Summary/Conclusion

The game continues. The disconnect between the overall domestic economy and the price action in the markets presents what one noted investor described as ‘the greatest experiment’ in modern finance. To the extent that people are putting money to work, I would focus on buying quality and utilizing ‘dollar cost averaging’ techniques.

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Thoughts, comments, questions always appreciated.

Have a great day and weekend.

LD






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