A time for caution, or contrarian buy signal?

Recently, a number of major investment banks have published warnings for the US stock market. The strategists at BoA, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley have issued either bearish or cautionary outlooks.  On the other hand, Ryan Detrick at LPL Financial documented the effects of strong price momentum on stock prices. History...

A rate hike roadmap

Now that a QE taper announcement is more or less baked-in for this year, the next question is when the Fed will raise rates. The July FOMC minutes highlighted the point that the criteria for a taper decision is entirely different from that for a rate hike.   Several participants emphasized that an announcement of...

Constructive value and reflation green shoots

One of my principal tools of market analysis is the use of trend-following techniques to spot changes in macro conditions. My models are seeing some early green shoots in the value and reflation trade. It began with the stronger than expected July Jobs Report. The subsequent tame core CPI print also helped to reinforce the...

The brewing crisis in Crypto-Land

There has been much debate over the usefulness and viability of crypto-currencies. Notwithstanding my opinion on the topic, the current crypto-currency ecosystem has an Achilles Heel of Lehman Crisis proportions.      It's called Tethers, which is a stablecoin used as a critical piece of plumbing in the offshore crypto markets. This week, I explain:...

Can stocks avoid the seasonal swoon?

Mid-week market update: Evidence of a negative seasonal pattern has been circulating on the internet for the S&P 500. As one of many examples, LPL Financial pointed out that the S&P 500 has typically topped out in early August and slides into late September.     While past performance is no guarantee of future returns,...

The remarkably resilient stock market

The Chinese markets panicked on the news of government crackdowns on technology and education companies. As well, Beijing has been working to restrict the flow of credit to property developers in order to stabilize real estate prices. In reaction, foreigners have been panic selling Chinese tech on high volume.     Despite all of this...

Seven reasons to fade the growth scare

It is astonishing to see the market narrative shift in the space of only a few months from "inflation is coming" to a growth scare. In late March, the 10-year Treasury yield topped at over 1.7% and the 2s10s yield curve was steepening. Today, the 10-year has decisively broken support and the yield curve is...

The Fed’s next challenge: Wage pressure

Stock markets were rattled by the Fed's hawkish tone in the wake of the FOMC meeting. Markets took a risk-off tone, but Jerome Powell walked back some of the hawkishness during his Congressional testimony the following week. The Fed Chair stuck to his familiar refrain that inflation is transitory, dismissed the idea of 1970s-style inflation as...

China rides to the rescue?

The headlines from last week sounded dire. It began when China’s May economic activity report was disappointing, with industrial production, retail sales, and fixed-asset investment missing market expectations.      Then the Federal Reserve took an unexpected hawkish turn. The statement from the FOMC meeting acknowledged that downside risks from the pandemic were receding as vaccination...

The market’s instant FOMC report card

Mid-week market update: It's always difficult to make any kind of coherent market comment on FOMC meeting days. The market reaction can be wild and price moves can reverse themselves in the coming days.   Nevertheless, experienced investors understand that it's not the announcement that matters, but the tone announcement compared to market expectations. Bloomberg...

The bond market tempts FAIT

Remember when I called for a bond market rally (see What a bond market rally could mean for your investments). The 10-year Treasury yield broke support last week and shrugged off a hot CPI print. Is the bond market tempting FAIT, or the Fed's Flexible Average Inflation Targeting framework?     Here are some of...

The inflation red herring

Rising inflation fears are all over the headlines. From a top-down perspective, inflation pressures are clearly rising.     The Transcript, which monitors earnings calls, documented companies reporting rising inflationary pressures from supply chain bottlenecks and commodity price strength, which have the potential to create margin squeezes.   “…the inflationary pressures, particularly surrounding some of...

How Powell, the Un-Volcker, is remaking the Fed

Jerome Powell may turn out to be the Un-Volcker Fed Chair. Paul Volcker wrung all the inflation expectations out of the system and convinced everyone that the Fed is an inflation hawk. By contrast, Jerome Powell is attempting a mirror image policy of convincing everyone the Fed is an inflation dove.   A considerable gulf...

Has the reflation trade become too crowded?

In light of last week's partial NASDAQ reversal, I had a number of discussions with readers about whether the reflation trade has become overly consensus and crowded. To be sure, bond prices have become wildly oversold while the cyclically sensitive copper/gold ratio has surged upward and appears extended.     Is the reflation trade, which...

The sum of all fears: Inflation! Inflation!

The latest BoA Global Fund Manager Survey shows that respondents believe the biggest tail-risks to be inflation and its effects on the bond market.     Are these worries overblown? How will these concerns affect asset prices?     How transitory are inflation pressures? Recently, there has been a spate of reports about rising supply...

Will rising yields sideswipe equities?

Jerome Powell's Congressional testimony last week made the Fed's position clear. Monetary policy will remain easy for the foreseeable future. Inflation dynamics change, but not on a dime. While Fed policy will leave short-term interest rates anchored near zero, the market's inflation expectations have been rising. Last week, the 10-year Treasury yield briefly breached 1.6%...

Debunking the Buffett Indicator

There has been some recent hand wringing over Warren Buffett's so-called favorite indicator, the market cap to GDP ratio. This ratio has rocketed to new all-time highs, indicating nosebleed valuation conditions for the stock market.     Worries about this ratio are overblown. Here's why.     Dissecting market cap to GDP Let's begin by...

Will Powell twist?

Jens Nordvig recently conducted an unscientific Twitter poll on the FOMC's action at the December meeting/ While there was a small plurality leaning towards a "steady as she goes" course, there was a significant minority calling for another Operation Twist, in which the Fed shifts buying from the short end to the medium and long...