This is more of a brain dump to encourage discussion, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Something strange happened this week.
Stocks fell off - mostly Japanese stocks, but equity markets everywhere suffered nasty losses. The S&P 500 shat a nasty reversal candle on Thursday, and the Nikkei posted one of its largest falls in history on Friday.
At the same time bonds fell (yields rose). The US Dollar also fell.
That's not how it's supposed to work.
When stocks fall, bond yields fall (bond prices rise) because more people buy them. Where the hell was the money going?
Into the Yen and the Swiss Franc, mostly. The Yen because most of the action was in Japan. The USD/JPY and Nikkei 225 are HEAVILY correlated. I can't tell if the fall in stocks preceded the fall in USD/JPY (and AUD/JPY, which many say led the way), or if it was the other way around, but either way we had classic risk aversion kicking in.
USD/JPY posted its largest weekly decline since 2011.
There was some jawboning, and data from Japan to suggest that the new QE measures are working. But wait a second:
they've only just started. That money hasn't really filtered down to anywhere where it's actually being used to power the economy. The only real effect so far has been a massive uplift in stocks. This is because a lot of the Nikkei 225 is made up of exporters and multi-nationals, and a falling Yen boosts their expected
profits - nobody's actually made any money yet.
The technicals still only say "retracement", not "reversal", but we're hanging in by a thread - especially USD/JPY
. If we break Friday's low, 100 is in sight. If this break is for real, this psychological barrier will mean absolutely nothing.
After this 97.00 is next, then 95.00/94.50, then 92. I don't think any fall would get down to 92, or even 94, but 97 is highly possible by the end of this week - and if we get there, it could be in a matter of minutes. Before I go on, COT data (For newbie traders, COT means Commitment of Traders, and it's a series of complicated charts showing net speculative futures positioning. When you overly it onto price data, you will find that extremes of short positioning tend to precede massive rallies. This is because a LOT of people get increasingly short as price starts to fall, which reaches an extreme as it continues to fall. Price starts to come back up, and the extreme extends a little bit more, before you get a short squeeze and everyone buys furiously to get out of unprofitable short positions)
Aussie COT showed a massive extreme in short positioning: http://stocktwits.com/message/13774559
So did the Japanese Yen: http://stocktwits.com/message/13774580
The most telling is the S&P500: http://stocktwits.com/message/13774599
The light blue line says that the big money is getting more and more out of stocks (or since it's futures positioning, they're starting to bet it will fall)
All other things being equal, this means these two are probably due a large correction. All other things might not be equal, however. Extremes in quiet times can become the norm in unusual circumstances - bear this in mind. This is the scenario if Asian stocks lead the fall.
Longs are clearly nervous, but the docket is light this week. This alone could be enough - with minor bad news sparking panic selling. The US Dollar could see some initial selling purely on USD/JPY, pushing the majors higher. This will happen during the Asian session. If it happens in the morning, you will see European markets open lower, and we might get early USD weakness as USD/JPY sells off.
But it won't last. The risk aversion will spill into European and US stocks as these markets open, and they may gap significantly lower. In this case the Swiss Franc will strengthen first, followed by the US Dollar. So I don't like USD/CHF so much here. The US Dollar will almost certainly surge once US markets open.
If this is the real deal, (and that is the biggest fucking "IF" ever
because many have called this reversal lots of times and have given up after being wrong repeatedly) this dollar surge will be enormous. The world will be waking up from its dream of a fragile recovery that has been overblown by surging stock markets. Stock markets have been rallying for mixed reasons.
Some of it is investor confidence, but most of it is simply the search for yield, which most cash investments can't provide at the moment. Dividend yields in stocks are good, and fund managers have been buying them because they need to beat indices, which are rising more quickly than the values of their portfolios. This cycle has fed itself, and stocks have risen, even though demand for those companies' products and services has remained tepid.
If this happens, the Yen crosses will be blown to bits, as will the majors. But don't just go short everything if you see it falling. It will be difficult to know whether it's the real thing, and you'll have to be in front of your trading screen at the time (unless you want to set breakout orders) We are seeing all the signs of a minor bubble bursting.
The headlines have been all about markets hitting new highs, and everybody buying stocks. That is usually a sign that the smart money has started selling their large holdings to incoming retail investors, and that a lot of the profit from the bull run has been made. If stocks start to look wobbly up here, the last ones in will be the first ones out.
Look at USD/JPY or the other Yen crosses zoomed out to 2005. The rise is absurd. I showed it to my girlfriend, who doesn't know the first thing about Forex, and she said it looked unnatural and if she had to guess, the next move would be "down a bit". This kind of woke me up a little - it was so obvious because the move up seems to be against the laws of nature, even if backed by fundamentals. Humans are good at pattern recognition, and even she could look at previous price action and recognize that a sharp rise like this almost never happens without a bit of falling.
It all depends on where you bought.
For example, if you had held USD/JPY since 92.00, and you planned to hold it for the rest of the year, you wouldn't worry so much about a drop to 97 (though it would be annoying). If you were long on a break of 100.00, you would be getting the fuck out. Your stop might be at 100, or maybe you'd locked in 50 pips. The point is that longs are now nervous, and bids will be hard to find below 100. Most people are probably prepared to take a chance buying a dip into around 100 (I know I am), but not below there. Below there are stop losses. Hundreds of millions of them.
So that's my take on things. I'm not saying the world will end this week, but we all know that what goes up very quickly when there isn't a good reason to do so, usually comes down pretty quickly as well.
Others would argue with my fundamentals. I've seen articles saying that the rise in stocks can be attributed to companies holding on to cash reserves and paying high dividends, because they are worried that the recovery might not come. When they finally do see it coming, they will start spending that cash on growing and employing people - so maybe stocks are leading the global economy in this recovery. I say horse shit.
Demand has to precede supply, and right now the powerhouses of the global economy have more supply capacity than there is demand for. We have got into this situation because corporate profits have stayed very good during the last few years, but household incomes have fallen in real terms, and the average consumer is no better off, even though central bank governors are starting to say otherwise.
You and I are still earning far less money than we should be, and spending proportionally more and more of it every year as wage growth struggles to keep up with inflation, which is already low in most developed countries. Corporate profits continue to do well, but this money is not being spent in the real economy and used to create jobs.
I'm not going to go all marxist here for my last thoughts, but it is important to realise that there is a continuing and growing concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. They might say that they are the job creators, and many of them are. But for the most part they are the wealth hoarders. That money goes into things that cause the economy to appear to be growing
, but do not actually grow the real economy - company stock, large assets, investments.
They also buy things from companies that are seeing their profits grow faster than the wages they pay. Where a dozen board executives get huge bonuses and a hundred thousand shareholders see their balance sheets grow, the people who are actually spending their portion of that company's profits (the employees) don't have any more money to inject into the economy than they did last year.
These market forces are going to collide sooner or later. Either:
- Wage growth and unemployment suddenly improves, and the middle and working classes will actually be able to provide the demand that the supply side needs to see to continue growing, or
- the middle classes will start to spend money they don't have as a result of stimulus programs, which will kick in as central banks realise that they are failing to restart economies through austerity. This will sustain the recovery and it might work, but sovereign balance sheets are already stretched ridiculously far, or
- stocks will crash before that happens, causing a resurgence of widespread unemployment.
I'm not saying it will happen this week, or at all. All I'm saying is that stocks are rising very quickly on not much at all. There are precedents for this throughout history, and it never ends well. When you hear hoof beats, don't think zebras. TL;DR
Forecast is choppy, with a light chance of apocalypse
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