IndiaCharts

Guest Contributions

This New Category Publishes Analytical work from Guest contributors on Marco Market Analysis. Macro analysis is in depth work that connects the dots between markets with what is happening in the economy or specific Macro trends in the Equity Commodity or Currency markets in India and Around then world. These come from people with skin in the game and whose work is found to be worth sharing with the intent of giving readers a fresh perspective of the affairs impacting the market. These are not recommendations to trade but will add great Value and Knowledge to your Decision Making Process.

In The End

IN THE END

by Shashwat Panda

The author is a Partner at Pureheart Capital. Opinions expressed are personal.
The language used is intentionally colorful because the world already has more than enough bloodless annual

reports to wallow in. Those objecting need to get out in the sun more often.

I believe that the Indian Rupee (INR) and the Indian asset markets are headed into a
large drawdown. In terms of timing we are fairly close, as some of the technical and
fundamental developments which were anticipated are beginning to materialize.

I'VE PUT MY TRUST IN YOU;
When I was a young strapping lad, all of 8 years old, I was in a horrific fender-bender and ended up
dislocating both my shoulders. Between bouncing off my surprisingly elastic head and somewhat before
planting face-first in the shrubbery, was probably one of the pivotal moments of my life. Even though I
would not know it for years, but it was in that gloriously concussed and befuddled state that I had decided to
go into the hedge fund business.
I mean who doesn’t want to go through most of their life thinking that they are an utter and complete moron.
Trapped inside an amorphous, existential limbo-land where certainties of space and time have been replaced
by self-referential price fractals which are impervious to scale? What Fun! Sign me up please!
Causality runs simply in real life i.e. I taunt Kim, Kim shoots me, I am dead: Elementary stuff really! In the
markets, the causality is less precise: I taunt Kim, Kim tests H-Bomb, H-Bomb along with the solar eclipse
cause a tectonic shift, the shift causes six earthquakes, one quake unseals a cave releasing an unknown strain
of anthrax virus, in the ensuing apocalypse I am slain by an uprising of angry badgers over a bag of nuts.

PUSHED AS FAR AS I CAN GO;
I have always maintained that those who survive in this business are closeted masochists. It is quiet unlikely
that normal folks would ever stomach this kind of existential dread for a few instances of temporary
comeuppance. Every day I ask myself if I am getting too old for this gig. But it is not only the love of the
game that keeps me going, it is also the desire to one day wag my finger to the world and say “I told you so!”


My family contends I am a Nihilist. I contend that I am a realist who does not drink the kool-aid. As a fatalist
realist hedge fund guy, I have an unhealthy fascination for the upcoming Armageddon. In my defense, the
logic of math is on my side. Successful compounding of wealth necessitates avoidance of big draw-downs.
So a laser like focus on the downside really helps out, along with weekly bouts of paranoia.
I believe that the Indian Rupee (INR) and the Indian asset markets are headed into one of these manic decline
phases. I believe that the timing is fairly close, as some of the technical and fundamental developments have
accelerated. I am aware, that usually this kind of bravado and bluster ends in miserable failure. But I can’t
help myself, I landed on my head. What’s your excuse?

FOR ALL THIS, THERE'S ONLY ONE THING YOU SHOULD KNOW;
It is very easy to be bullish on India for the long term, for all the reasons that are well known. You have to be
an imbecile not to appreciate the economic prospects of a young English speaking democracy of a billion
people, with tolerable rule of law, still struggling to get the basic infrastructure in place. Enormous growth
prospects in India are easily spotted.
And yet, in keeping with my self-destructive tendencies, I will admit that I have been bearish on Indian
equities for a few years. It has been neither good nor bad, just plain boring! There have been better places to
put capital to work in that timeframe.
I agree with the long term story on India. But as a wise man once said: The long run is always a series of
ensuing short runs. This particular moment might not be where you would want to begin the bean-counting.
It is my opinion that the Indian Rupee is way too overvalued, and the tailwinds have become headwinds. If
you understand the inverted nature of the Indian asset markets, stuff is about to go boom in the night.

gc01

Source: Bloomberg: SENSEX priced in USD

I TRIED SO HARD;

The INR suffered a massive devaluation from the fall of 2011 to 2013 when it fell from 44 INR/USD to 68
INR/USD. The backdrop itself was some modest strength in the dollar prices. As a matter of fact, for the
most vicious part of the move in 2013, the dollar index was also weakening.

gc02

Source: Bloomberg: USDINR and Dollar Index

This drastic INR weakness was caused by a rapid buildup of the twin deficits on the current and the fiscal
account which deteriorated from 3.5% in 2008 to 11% by 2013. This was partly due to fiscal stimulus
delivered by the NPA government in 2009/10 and worsening current account deficits. Later on, the
perception that the government in power was...umm... impotent clearly did not help. The dual deficits have,
since then, fallen to 4% in 2017.

gc03

Source: Bloomberg: India Fiscal Deficit as % of GDP + Current Account Deficit as % of GDP

AND GOT SO FAR;

The story after 2014 has had a redemptive arc. Indian voters kicked out the incumbents and gave an
unprecedented mandate for change to the new Prime Minister Mr.Modi. Promising that good days were
round the corner, the new PM went on a global blitzkrieg to raise funding for India Inc. Fiscal deficit and
inflation were controlled. The Rupee got stronger, the SENSEX soared and everybody lived happily ever
after.
Well, not quite. The record is somewhat mixed. Even though there have been notable improvements, there
were two fortuitous events that really helped along the way.
India imports a lot of commodities, especially Crude and Gold. Global gold price crashed in the mid 2013
reducing import bills and investor demand. Crude crashed in 2014, reducing the current account deficits to
less than 1% of GDP, lowest in 10 years.
Since 2014, the INR has been a strong currency. As per the data from Bank of International Settlements
(BIS), in relative terms, INR is the most expensive with respect to 60 other currencies since 1994.

gc04

Source: BIS: INR Real Effective Exchange Rate against 60 countries (Broad Index)

BUT IN THE END;

Since July 2016, in these pages I have argued that the deflationary epoch is changing, and secular inflation is
taking hold (email me for copy of previous reports). I have made the case for a secular bottom in
commodities, sovereign rates and a secular peak in the dollar. The last note specifically dealt with Crude oil,
which I believe, will get a lot stronger from its year to date low of 42$/barrel.
While the price action leaves much to be desired, the call still stands. As expected, the US crude production
is beginning to flat line and there are signs of decline in the all important Permian Basin. If the Crude price
shoots up to 75$ as I expect, one of the wheels would come off the strong INR bandwagon. Estimates of
current account deficits are on the rise as the terms of trade deteriorate.

gc05

Source: Bloomberg: Citi Terms of Trade Index for INR (UP is Net export terms getting better and vice versa)

IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER;
All this is run-of-the-mill bearish stuff, where is my free differentiated quality content you ask? Here it
comes, so brace yourself.
Ever since demonetization in the late 2016, the Indian bond markets have taken off like a scalded cat. Last
year while the global sovereign yields were going up, Indian yields were crashing as all the surplus cash
collected by the banks was recycled into sovereign bond market by the government banks.
The bond mutual funds did so well in 2016 that as a group, they outperformed the mid-and-small cap equity
mutual funds. All this is over and above the ongoing emerging market bond feeding frenzy / reach for yield.

gc06

Source: Bloomberg, Sovereign Yields in 2016

The central bank (Reserve bank of India) in all its infinite wisdom imposed a limit on total foreign ownership
of government bond market. So the feeding frenzy shifted to the corporate bond market and exhausted the
foreign limits there. As I write this, infrastructure bond limits have been exhausted and foreign capital is
flowing into bond proxies like Infrastructure REITs.

gc07

Source: Bloomberg, Foreign Limits reached in the Indian Corporate bond market

Demand always creates its own supply. So enterprising Indian Bankers put together endless number of debt
mutual funds with Indian bonds (both sovereign and corporate) as the underlying assets. These mutual funds
were then marketed exclusively to the foreign investors who lapped it up. The clear purpose of these vehicles
is to sidestep the RBI imposed foreign limits. But hay, as long as music is playing, you have to dance right?
The inflows have been so strong and persistent that INR hedging costs, which usually were in 5-7% range,
have fallen to 2-3%. All in all, I expect approximately 70 to 75 $billion of restless capital is currently nesting
in the Indian bond markets. Breathing is slow, tension palpable and silence is pin-drop. And the great exodus
is about to begin as the first frog drops from the sky.

I HAD TO FALL;
Indian macro is incomplete without a discussion of its colorful political environment. As I mentioned before,
current account deficits are on the rise. The second wheel on the strong INR bandwagon has been the fiscal
restraint. The political imperatives are about to break the same in the very near future.
India goes to polls again in 2019, which usually implies that the government is going to be spending like a
drunken sailor at the Moulin Rouge. But this year is somewhat special.
Clearly, de-monetization did not achieve its goals, whatever they were. The best argument that was put
forward was that it was a back-door bailout of the PSU banks. It is at best a temporary reprieve. As cash
begins to circulate in the economy, the volumes electronic and digital payments are reducing. With time,
credit-to-deposit ratios will revert to the old normal.
GST is an even bigger disruption. GST is first and foremost, a tax hike on everything which will increase
inflation. And the whole system will move from one crisis to another for 4-6 quarters till it stabilizes
operationally.
If a cancer patient who just recovered from chemotherapy (de-monetization) had every bone in his body
broken (supply-chains disrupted by GST) in how much time will he recover? It is hard to expect GDP growth
under these circumstances: the latest print was lowest in 10 years.
And the credit growth in India is at a 60 year low! The last two remaining Austrian economists in the room
will gasp in horror at this statistic. The credit growth is approximately 3% lower than effective interest rates,
implying that the real economy is brutally deleveraging. No wonder then that Gross Fixed Capital Formation
(Gross Investments in the economy) has completely stalled.

gc08

Source: Times of India

TO LOSE IT ALL;
Weak GDP growth going into an election cycle is not a great polling strategy, as Mrs. Clinton can testify. I
am sure PM Modi is well aware of the fact that the odds of a regime implementing GST and then getting
back to power in the next election cycle are slim in emerging markets, as borne out by several historical
instances in Latin America.
Also, the core supporters of his party, the small businessmen, have been deeply affected by both
Demonetization & GST and are expecting fiscal concessions. I expect the political imperatives will dominate
over any feeble impulse to be fiscally prudent, as they always do. “Print baby print” will be the name of the
game for the next 2 years.
Fun fact: the central government has already blown through 94% of its fiscal budget 6 months into the
financial year. And as of yesterday (21st September 2017) the government was contemplating a temporary
reprieve from its short term fiscal targets.
So if the fiscal and current account deficits turn higher along with inflation, the MoMo chasers and carry
traders who have piled into the Indian bond markets are about learn a painful lesson on of how small the exit
doors can be in emerging economies.

A section of the restive population has already figured it out and piling into physical gold (there might be
some elements of tax arbitrage in these numbers due to recent GST implementation). But, it is interesting
that the previous spike in unseasonal gold buying came just in before the spike in USDINR.

gc09

Source: Vivek Kaul, Volume of gold imported from April to July (https://teekhapan.wordpress.com/)

On a side note, India’s love for Gold confuses a lot of Ivy League types. I guess it takes a PhD in Economics
get confused about a 50 year bull market, which is a direct result of actively inflating away the government
debt stock held domestically, resulting in chronic devaluation of currency.

BUT IN THE END;
If we get the kind of bum-rush out of INR that we got in 2013, a devaluation of up to 50% over 18 months is
not unthinkable. I would look-out for a minimum 20 – 30% move which will stick after the volatility is over.
The implication for the bond markets are left to your imaginations as they are contingent on RBI policy
moves. A QE is not out of the question. And printing of money to bail out the PSU banks is a near certainty
in a crisis; as their paper trading profits from last year dissipate.
The equity markets have seen torrential inflows from the domestic retail investors this year. With the broad
market valuation already stretched, the market is chock-a-block full of weak hands itching for a tryst with
destiny. Low quality, small-cap names have seen a massive acceleration in prices. Seven of the top eight
private life insurance companies have scheduled their IPOs in the next one month.

gc10

Source: CLSA, Money Control

All the while, the foreign investors, who used to drive the market, are hastily exiting stage left. I believe the
meltdown of INR will provide that spark, which will initiate the endgame for this messy situation.

gc11

Source: Bloomberg, Foreign Limits reached in the Indian Corporate bond market

IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER.

This note makes me sound like a Perma-Bear on India. I can assure you that I am not. I think for the next 20
years, the return from the Indian equities will be world beating. But it needs stronger foundation than we
have currently.
The banking system desperately needs to be fixed, the NPAs are too large to take care of themselves,
infrastructure needs to be built and systemic friction (like these high NIMs all analysts salivate over) needs to
be reduced.
There is a lot of work to be done to get to the sustainable growth phase. But the first step is always to
recognize the problem. Right now, the truth is hidden behind a deluge of liquidity. If it is not recognized, it
will not be fixed.
As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So embrace the crash. If you
survive, you will be wiser and will see much better days ahead.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you enjoyed this piece and have any questions use the disqus box on the website on this article to ask them

Stay Tuned for more : Truth About the Markets

www.indiacharts.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DIVINE COMEDY

DIVINE COMEDY 

by Shashwat Panda

 

The author is a Partner at Pureheart Capital. Opinions expressed are personal. 

The language used is intentionally colorful because the world already has more than enough bloodless annual reports to wallow in. Those objecting need to get out in the sun more often. 

It has been roughly a year since I started writing these investment commentaries. It endeavors to be a sporadically timed, tongue-in-cheek take on a critical juncture in our shared financial history. A chronicle in and of its times, tracking the market hive-mind as it remorsefully and lethargically shifts from a profoundly deflationary to a predominantly inflationary zeitgeist. 

These turning points are important, infrequent and misunderstood. These points also provide enormous opportunities for accumulation or destruction of capital, in turn giving birth to trends that last decades and define the new epoch. These notes are my modest attempts at contemplating the unthinkable. Calling it “The Journal of Existential Dread” would have been more apt, but the name was already copyrighted by Divine Comedy Inc. and the board of directors (the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost) refused to let it go.

The first note, written in June 2016 (Pre-Brexit) and rather pompously titled “Lessons of History”, made the case for a bottom in commodities and top in the developed economy bond markets. The second note, written in April 2017 and titled “Dollar Doldrums”, made the case for a peak in the USD bull market (DXY). (Please mail in to request for copies). Both stand the test of time fairly well. 

This is now the third note in the series, where I examine these nascent inflationary trends as they develop and challenge the deflationary psychosis that currently holds sway in the markets. We examine the prevalent narratives, especially from the perspective of what could go wrong. Because as Father Murphy taught us, whatever can, eventually will. 

We return to the subject of the dollar and the interest rates, but first we discuss Mr. Inflation itself – Crude oil. 

AN ENIGMA WRAPPED IN A RIDDLE SHROUDED IN MYSTERY  

Over the last few years, the crude market has been a battlefield. US Shale plays have become the global swing producer, dethroning Saudi Arabia. Demand has been weak, production stable and inventories high. OPEC jawboning hasn’t worked, neither have the production cuts. 

In the last few months, both Shell and Rosneft have mentioned separately that oil price will be lower for longer, and that they are preparing for it. “Oil God” Andy Hall has thrown in the towel and shut down his fund. News on the whole has been stunningly downbeat, and bearishness so thick, you could cut it with a knife.

Yet the WTI oil futures started the year at $54, dropped to $42 and are trading around $50 per barrel as we type this. What gives?

gc1

Source: Bloomberg, WTI Crude 

 

Now I have a confession to make. In the early half of the noughties, I wasted a lot of time at an institution of some repute, waiting for some sense to accidentally get knocked into me. Of course it was futile exercise. Of course they eventually chucked me out. I was on the street but with two parting gifts: a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in “Thermal & Fluids Engineering” (The ladies love it!). And I have been skeptical of “the miracle of shale oil” ever since. 

The dilemma is this: to get the conventional “OPEC” oil, you have to dig a hole in the ground, then utilize huge pumps to get the oil out. Sometimes you also have to push in some water to pump up the crude but hey, what’s pumping a few million barrels of water amongst friends? The Energy returned on energy invested, EROI, is about 8 - 10x now (it was 100x at the turn of the last century).

Shale oil is completely different. Conceptually, you take a bit of shale rock and slap it hard till it pukes its guts out, and then you lap up ooze. Practically, you use high pressure water & sand solution as a fracking agent, apply heat to the shale bed AND employ an “ice wall” around the whole shindig to avoid contamination of the ground water. And after all this effort, 85% of the fluid you pump out, is water again. Fun! 

The process is highly energy intensive. Shell estimated that best case EROI for Shale oil is about 4x, in reality you would be very lucky to get 3x. How does this process compete with literally putting straws in the ground?

gc2

Source: Wikipedia

Another burning question to ponder this hour is: why does Shale remain predominantly a US phenomenon? Geology is an obvious limitation, but nowhere in the world is the formation similar or better? This is not a “new” technology despite all the hype. The first shale patent was granted in 1684. The current process was devised back in 1970s. To my untrained eye, it looks like US has 3 sticky advantages: Property rights, free money (via QE) and cheap alternative energy sources. 

gc3

Source: EIA, as of 2014 only 4 countries were producing commercial volumes from shale formations 

The first two advantages are fairly obvious, but still do not explain why China is not yet a big shale oil power (All land belongs to the government and money is basically free for the SOEs. They can easily pay for the technology as it predominantly exists in the private domain). 

gc4

 

Source: EIA, Share of US Electricity generation as of 2016 

As discussed before, Shale oil basically converts one form of energy (Electricity) to another (Light Sweet Crude) which is worth much more in the global markets. Basically shale gas, which is cheap, abundant and difficult to transport, is first converted to electricity, then to oil which is liquid, easy to handle and also was relatively expensive till 2015 happened. 

But as they say, a cure for low prices is low prices. US production of natural gas has flatlined along with higher prices. The price action in the market looks bullish. A sea change is at hand, Mortimer!   

gc5

Source: Bloomberg, US Natural Gas Production volume & price 

With low crude prices and high debt levels, the shale companies have all the incentive to dig at the juiciest spots first. They also probably under-report the costs, and over-state the “technological edge” in order to feed the techno-centric narrative of this epoch and raise more capital from Investors. 

gc6

Source: Bloomberg, Gross margin for Schlumberger  

Yet another overlooked point is that the oil servicing companies have massively cut pricing due to reduction in oil capex & exploration and corresponding reduction in capacity utilization. Gross margins for oil servicing bellwether Schlumberger is lowest

ever.  All factors put together indicate that the low is in for the production cost on shale oil. This is it folks, this is all there is. 

I then came across a few pieces written by Russell Clark of Horseman Capital on the American Shale industry. It is well worth a read:

  1. 1.https://www.horsemancapital.com/marketviews/russell-clark/2017/05/the-capitaldestructive-nature-of-the-us-shale-industry
  2. 2.https://www.horsemancapital.com/marketviews/russell-clark/2017/07/the-end-of-thetexas-tea-party

gc7

Source: EIA monthly reports, US Shale oil production by Region 

To summarize their thinking:

  • Shale drillers reacted to low oil prices by limiting oil extraction to only the best areas, while also maximizing new well extraction in these areas by increasing the number of wells per rig, and drilling much longer pipes (laterals) 
  • The biggest cost for the producers is now land cost, not the cost of the rigs. Land values have shot up in line with the production potential
  • Since more than 50% of production is extracted in first 18 months, the companies constantly need to raise capital due to high depreciation rates
  • The Shale oil production is increasingly dominated by key areas in the Permian basin. Permian rigs are now 50% of all rigs 
  • High decline rates also mean that to increase the aggregate production, the companies need to keep drilling new wells faster than the legacy decline 
  • There are signs that productivity gains in the Permian are becoming more difficult to attain. EIA is projecting a decline in productivity over next few months 
  • Texas Railroad Commission data on operating wells is showing a historically unusual drop in the number of operating wells in the Permian counties
  • The unusual drop in operating wells has happened at a time when the number of completed wells has been increasing. This suggests that a large number of legacy wells are no longer producing oil
  • They suspect that frac-hits (new wells interfering with legacy wells) are causing decline rates to accelerate and costs to increase, hence reducing the number of operating wells

My takeaway from these articles is that all the juicy spots in the Permian basin already seem to have been thoroughly dug up like Swiss cheese and that the oil production is set to decline irrespective of the price. (On August 2 2017, Pioneer Natural Resources, a prominent shale oil producer in Permian Basin, reduced its 2017 crude growth target to 17-18% from the previous forecast of 24-28% and the stock crashed 16%.) The other shale plays are either geologically not attractive enough at this price (Eagle Ford) or, have already seen their best days (Bakken). 

Since Permian is where all the production growth has come from for the last two years, US oil production is about to decline. 

This has profound implications for both US interest rates and the US dollar.

BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE & MEN 

In 2012, IEA projected forward the production of Shale Oil in the US and estimated that it would peak by 2020. The technology has improved since then, but as with all the natural systems, the improvement is incremental not exponential. Unless there is a completely new way of doing things, there exist natural limit to incremental innovation (The whole shale "revolution" is an incremental evolution, predicated on high oil prices). 

Similarly, as long as Tesla is dependent on the Lithium Ion battery technology, they will never be able to achieve the energy density they desire. Natural systems and chemical reactions don't scale exponentially. 

Also, extractive technologies do not create more reserves, they just accelerate the rate of extraction so you burn through your reserves faster. It is quite possible that we will hit the production plateau a few years before 2020, as projected. 

gc8

Source: EIA 2012 report 

Also due to the “shale revolution”, the conventional producers of Crude Oil have drastically cut their capital expenditure and exploration spending. In the previous years, a down year in capex implied a 100% rally in Crude oil in the subsequent years due to a fall in production volume. But previously, we had never had two consecutive down years in capex, so clearly we are not in Kansas anymore. Timing remains uncertain, but we might be looking at a massive decline in conventional oil production just as shale production is also about to decline. 

gc9

Source: EIA 2016 report 

Usually the oil futures market is liquid up to 6 Months forward. It has already been 6 months from higher oil prices at the beginning of the year. The aggregate hedged book should be rolling off, and this would depress future production, unless crude rises significantly and the hedges are rolled back on.

gc10

Source: Bloomberg, WTI Option Skew  

If the Horseman Capital prediction for lower production from Permian field comes to pass, then we are looking at an extraordinarily mispriced scenario for crude oil going forward. 

The markets, forward looking as they are, should start discounting the 2020 tightness in the crude market by 2018. I would not be surprised if the WTI crude refuses to break below $42. If it does break the trading range on the upside, I would expect an acceleration in prices to the underside of the previous resistance line which is at $80. 

At the very least, downside is limited as the USD strength, which aided the previous oil crash, has all but dissipated. 

gc11

Source: Bloomberg, WTI Crude & Bloomberg Dollar Index Inverted

I have not even discussed the real black-swans: instability in Venezuela, possible war in the Korean Peninsula, the Qatar pivot and the redrawing of political alliances in the middle-east.  Odds are high that we have seen the intermediate lows in the crude market.  

 

WHO’S SCARED OF A CRUDE RALLY? 

It is the dirty secret of the bond markets that 5Y-5Y forward inflation breakeven rate (Market expectation of the rate of inflation 5 years from now, for the subsequent 5 years) has a very high correlation with current commodity prices. 


This has always flummoxed the Macro-mavens. They portend that the bond markets tend to “over-interpret” the current price trend of commodities. 

My contention is that it is better to over-interpret a living-breathing market price than bash your head against “hedonically adjusted” price estimates of “owner’s equivalent rent”. The market can do much, much worse than using the current commodity prices.

gc12

Source: Bloomberg, WTI Crude & 5Y / 5Y Forward Inflation breakeven rates

The crude price has about 50% correlation with 5Y-5Y inflation forwards, as does copper. Both are indicating steeper curves and higher long dated treasury rates going forward. 

gc13

Source: Bloomberg, Copper & 5Y / 5Y Forward Inflation breakeven rates

 

DIVINE COMEDY

As I noted in my previous note “Dollar Doldrums”, the dollar bulls have one argument going for them: that the supply of dollars outside America is shrinking. There are many regulatory and economic reasons for the same which I will not get into here. My counter argument has been that most of it had already been priced into the market after years of strongly trending prices. The price action since then supports this thesis.

gc14

Source: Bloomberg, Bloomberg Broad Dollar Index  

The standard narrative has been that shrinkage in the US current account deficit due to the “shale revolution” reduces the supply of dollars that flow into the global economy. If our expectation of a shrinking US oil production is correct, this trend is about to reverse. As an important leg of the bullish argument breaks, the USD market might be horribly mispriced still.

gc15

 

Source: Bloomberg, US Current Account Balance as a % of GDP  

WILL IT BE A GENERATIONAL TOP, IF EVERYBODY KNOWS IT’S A GENERATIONAL TOP?

At the risk of putting my foot in my mouth, I contend that a generational top in the USD was ushered in with the Trump election. There are many reasons: fundamental, technical and geopolitical which I shall hold on to for another note, if the view proves plays out further. 

The psychology of the market is extremely interesting. There have been many lines in the sand recently when it comes to the DXY. When I published my note back in April, there was an expectation of a bottom at 98. The bulls then regrouped around 96. I was then then told “I don’t expect it, but if dollar falls beyond 94, I will change my mind.” 94 then come and went changing zilch. Now I hear that 92 “has to, has to” hold. 

Many of the fellow bears at the top have now turned bullish and expecting a countertrend rally. The bulls are looking at the commitment of traders (COT) data to convince themselves of their contrarian stance.  COT data usually works as a contrarian given that the markets are “normal” (2015-16). But the markets were not “normal” in 2014 when dollar was getting repriced, they are not “normal” now with the carry trades unwinding. The investment / trade flows will overwhelm COTs every single time. 

gc16

Source: Bloomberg, DXY dollar index   

This reminds me of the following anecdote published by 13D Research

We frequently tell the story of the late David Bostian. He was a brilliant strategist and a very good friend. On August 12, 1982, with the Dow at 776.92 — the exact low of the long U.S. equity bear market — he turned bullish, forecasting Dow 3,000 by 1987. One of the great U.S. investors, a client of Bostian’s, gave him money to invest in the bull market that he so wisely predicted. Unfortunately, and against our advice, Bostian bet on corrections against the primary trend, and lost it all.” 

Because the market has reacted with such stubbornness and disbelief, my assessment of the probability of success on this rather bold call has inched up to better than even at the moment. 

92 looks like the last good support. Since most market participants expect a bounce from this level, it will probably not hold. Most of the decline so far has been fairly orderly, and we need an emotional exhaustion phase before the prices can find an intermediate bottom (my guess: 84–86 range). But my recommendation remains that you sell the rallies and the bounces, as the larger trend has changed for good. 

 

You are here: Home Guest Contributions