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Posts Tagged ‘Sense on Cents view of economy and markets’

Sense on Cents On Economy and Markets: Lets Look Back to Look Forward

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 23rd, 2009 8:50 AM |

The developments in our global economy are so large in scale that it is of paramount importance to develop a macro view. David Swensen, Yale’s head of investments and widely regarded as the top portfolio manager within college and university endowments worldwide, says as much in an interview reported by Bloomberg:

“The crisis forces you to think top-down in ways that would, I think, be unproductive in normal circumstances, or absolutely necessary in the midst of a crisis,” Swensen said. “You have to think about the functioning of the credit system. You have to think about the potential impact of monetary policy on markets over the next five or 10 or 15 years.”

I concur. In that spirit, let’s look back at my outlook from last October so that we can more clearly look forward as we navigate the economic landscape.

Excerpts, with current commentary, from The Economy – What Lies Ahead (originally published October 14, 2008):

1. Global Increase in Long Term Interest Rates – the massive amount of debt that will need to be issued will cause rates worldwide to rise even in the face of a likely significant economic slowdown. 

I still maintain this premise. The move down in the economy last Fall led to an initial move lower in rates on government bonds. Our central bank and other central banks have subsequently supported the economy via quantitative easing (central bank purchasing of government and mortgage-related assets). That said, we are now entering the stage where the global demand for credit is swamping investors’ and central banks’ ability to provide it and rates are moving higher. I believe this move to higher rates, especially in the government and mortgage sectors, will continue. Rates for municipal and corporate bonds should also be forced higher although not as much.

2. Financial asset deflation while hard goods and asset inflation. Why??
I can already hear the printing presses at work churning out currencies worldwide. The rise in interest rates will depress bond values. With slower worldwide economic growth and increasing unemployment, GDP prospects are not pretty for the foreseeable future. I think there is a very strong chance that we will see “stagflation.”
While financial assets have limited upside growth potential and significant downside even from here, hard commodities and assets will likely increase in value, or perhaps I should write will hold their value as financial currencies and financial assets lose value.

I continue to believe we will experience stagflation. Comments by Bill Gross of Pimco highlighting the potential likelihood of the United States losing its implied AAA credit rating adds fuel to this fire.

Individuals, corporations, and governments still need to delever (pay down debts) and will be forced to sell assets in the process. As such, while I think selected sectors of the equity market may hold up, I remain concerned about the overall market. I think the U.S. dollar and other currencies of overlevered (big fiscal deficits) nations will suffer. These developments are inflationary. To defend one’s portfolio from inflation, gaining exposure to TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) is prudent. Mr Swensen addresses this point in the aforementioned interview.

3. Where do you put your money??

Take what the market is giving you, and right now they are giving you security and guarantees in deposits in large money center banks . . . this also provides flexibility to provide liquidity for those in desperate need and you will see more and more of that occur both at a personal level and a corporate level . . . BE PATIENT . . . buy QUALITY . . . this market is very quickly separating the wheat from the chaff . . . well managed institutions will gain market share and it will be reflected in the value of their stocks and bonds . . . one has to fully understand an entity’s ability to generate cash flow to meet their debt service and to grow their enterprise.

While rates on CDs and other short term deposits have come down, I still believe it is prudent to remain defensively positioned at this juncture. As the liquidity needs increase – and they are – opportunities will develop in a wide array of markets. While it may be prudent to buy short term bonds of highly rated companies, I still think people should keep plenty of dry powder. Within equities, companies with pricing power (ability to increase prices in an inflationary environment) will outperform.

4. Other Highlights . . .

If the government accedes to the pressure being applied to suspend the mark to market accounting principle, I would expect that move would only prolong the underperformance of the economy . . . I view a suspension of the mark to market as the equivalent of an agreement to officially allow one to “cook their books.”

I very much believe this and maintain this viewpoint.

SELL RALLIES . . . while financial institutions have been feeling the pain of overleverage for the last 12 to 18 months, that pain is just now coming to bear on the consumer . . . given that the consumer represents app 70% of our GDP, the expected precipitous drop in consumption across a wide array of products and industries will be very painful . . . you will see a litany of corporations announcing layoffs on a regular basis . . . Pepsi did just that this morning.

I also maintain this premise. I believe we will experience double digit unemployment this year given the problems in the automotive (production, parts, and dealers), and municipal sectors (forced cuts as tax revenues plummet. California is the poster child!!). Retail sales will remain low keeping domestic production and imports also depressed.

Please share your thoughts and opinions. Each and everyday is a microcosm, but we need to maintain the macro view as we navigate the economic landscape!!

LD

Economic/Market Highlights 11/21/08: V-O-L-A-T-I-L-I-T-Y !!

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 22nd, 2008 4:10 PM |

The fact that the equity markets totally reversed yesterday’s 5-6% selloff is not the biggest story of the day. In short, 400-500 point swings either way have become so normal as to not be a big deal. But they are a big deal and I will explain why shortly.

At 2:30pm the equity markets were basically unchanged. By 3:45pm the equity markets had rallied by 5-6% primarily on the announcement of Tim Geithner, NY Fed chair, as the nominee to be Treasury Secretary, while the other candidate for that role, Harvard professor and former Tsy Secretary for Bill Clinton, Larry Summers will be a senior White House economic advisor. Well done by Barack to get both on the team.

The markets respect Geithner and he will be easily approved. Summers would have faced some grilling for sexist comments he made while President of Harvard as well as the fact that he has already been Tsy Secy and it would have been viewed as “the more things change the more they stay the same”. Geithner obviously knows where all the bones are buried on Wall St. having worked very closely with Paulson over the entirety of this financial fiasco. The transition should be seamless. Geithner and Paulson have different styles but both are respected by Wall St. even if Paulson is not fully liked by Main St. The markets respect Geithner and this is obviously very important.

Read more here as to “Obama Likely to Pick Fed’s Geithner for Treasury.”

While Geithner and Summers are obviously highly respected they are not Houdini and they will not be able to singlehandedly turn our economy or markets around based on their name alone. (more…)

Economic/Market Highlights 11/20/08: D-E-L-E-V-E-R-I-N-G !!

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 21st, 2008 7:55 AM |

There were major forced liquidations on the parts of hedge funds, asset managers, and insurance companies that went through the markets Thursday. Laszlo Birinyi, a noted market tactician whom I follow quite closely, indicated today that given the market price action that making investment decisions now is “strictly guesswork”.

Equity markets traded down another 5.5% to 6.5% Thursday with much of that selloff occurring in the last hour which is an indication that orders from asset managers and mutual funds built into the close. The delevering process (the selling of assets purchased with borrowed money) continues!! Volume on the NYSE was 8.8bln shares, 44% above average. Clearly a strong indication of massive liquidations. Oil and copper were down 6% and 4% respectively given continued expectations of economic weakness. When does OPEC come out and announce aggressive cuts in production?

Government bonds rallied by 30basis points in the 10yr (a huge move) in a “flight to safety” trade.

While the safest bonds rallied, bonds with a risk component (high grade corporates, mortgage-backed bonds, high yield) either did not move or in the case of high yield traded down in sync with equities. (more…)






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