Here Comes the Summer Rally Friday, Jun 10 2011 

Here Comes the Summer Rally

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Technical Commentary – September 13th Monday, Sep 13 2010 

Dow Jones Industrial Average – We have had a nice move up over the past two weeks bouncing off support and now we find ourselves in a virtual no mans land between the 50 and 200 day moving averages. Technicals are positive but inconclusive as we wander in this trading range between 10400 and 9800.

Traders and fund managers return this week and there are some items which should dominate headlines namely concerns out of Europe, 3rd Quarter corporate profits, important economic reports namely CPI, PPI, Capacity Utilization, Industrial Production, and the upcoming mid-term elections.

Caution is warranted here unless we can break above the 200 day moving average and clear the 10500 level. It is possible that we start the week with a rally but have it lose strength as the week goes on.

Longer-term we need to move above the 50 week moving average to move back to the 200 week moving average.

I would be hesitant to put any new capital to work on the long side until we have a confirmed breakout above resistance and the trend establishes itself.

Dow Jones Utility Average (UTIL) – The Utilities were added because there is something interesting on the daily chart relative to the Industrials. Check the RSI and MACD as they seem to be in the process of rolling over while Friday’s down volume was heavier than normal.

This bears watching as the week goes on as the Utilities may be leading the market and flashing a sign.

Canada (TSX) – The TSX is in a long basing pattern. Economic reports over the past week gave investors some pause with the possibility of 3rd Quarter growth coming in weaker than expected due to a slowdown in the US. Technical indicators look overbought and investors would be well served to hold off on any buying in the event the TSX pulls back in the coming weeks.

A move above 12250 would signal a breakout and move higher.

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

The Hindenburg Omen – A Potential Fat Tail Event on the Horizon? (revised) Tuesday, Aug 24 2010 

The S&P 500 has been flashing a number of technical signals to the market over the month of August. Amongst the various signal we had an inverse head and shoulders and an ascending wedge giving investors bullish and bearish signals. August 11th provided a resolution with the ascending wedge breaking down and the market moving significantly lower. More troublesome was the market’s action the next three trading days. After large moves in one direction the market typically consolidates in the opposite direction as short term traders look to book profits and others buy on dips/sell into strength. What we had was the opposite, a market that could not move higher and instead drifted lower.

On August 12th, a Hindenburg Omen signal was triggered. A Hindenburg Omen is a statistical sign made up of market indicators which foreshadows a move to the downside. Just one Hindenburg Omen is not enough as there needs to be confirmation of the first signal within 36 days. If this signal is not confirmed then the signal is not valid.

The Hindenburg Omen has 5 criteria which must be met.

1. The NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
2. The McClellan Oscillator is negative on that same day.
3. The new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs.) This is a mandatory condition.
4. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day with
5. The smaller of the two numbers being greater than or equal to 69.

Delving into these criteria what we find is an indicator which attempts to signal the possible occurrence of a fat tail event.

First, we have a rising NYSE 10 Week moving average which suggests a market trending upward followed up by a fair portion of stocks making new highs.

But underneath the surface there is trouble. The McClellan Oscillator, used by traders to gauge market breadth, is negative signaling that more stocks are falling than rising. This is a sign that a correction may be approaching.

Next we have the 52 Week Highs and Lows. In an rising market one would expect significantly more new 52 Week Highs than new 52 Week Lows. But here the number of new 52 Week Lows are close to the number of 52 Week Highs, relatively speaking.

The number of 52 Week Lows are also more than 2.2% of the total NYSE issues traded that day. This sends a signal that the 52 Week Lows tail is getting fatter, a sign of underlying weakness.

What we find is that while the market appears calm, there is significant turmoil and weakness underneath the surface.

While a Hindenburg Omen does not mean the market will crash it is a signal that a fat tail event may be approaching in terms of a market pullback.

Thursday and Friday of last week provided a confirmation of the original signal. According to the Hindenburg Omen there should be a move to the downside in the next 40 days.

This does not mean there will be a crash. The downside move could only be as small as 5.5% for the signal to be accurate.

It is not my belief that we are heading for a second stock market crash but investors should tighten stops on long positions and/or hedge long positions until the danger passes.

The underlying market weakness following the markets drop on August 11th combined with weak economic reports should give investors pause. The inability of the market to move higher indicates a lack of buyers as investors seem to be waiting on the sidelines.

Now there is good news to report. This drop, should it occur, would put in a major low for the four year Presidential cycle leading to a solid rally into 2011. In other words, protect your long positions and get your cash ready to allocate so you can buy at the bottom.

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

The Week in Review, August 20, 2010 Saturday, Aug 21 2010 

The week was filled with disappointing economic reports from the advanced figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims jumping up to 500k and the Philly Fed Survey showing negative growth. If the ISM Manufacturing PMI confirms the Philly Fed Survey we are looking at a contraction in the manufacturing sector as it appears the underlying economy is much weaker than expected and the idea of a V shaped recovery might be put to rest.

On Monday, an article appeared on Bloomberg where Yu Yongding, part of a foreign-policy advisory committee and former adviser to the People’s Bank of China, stated that China has been a buyer of European bonds. Japan’s Ministry of Finance also stated that China was a buyer of Japanese debt during the first half of 2010. The US Treasury announced that China’s holdings of US debt were cut by $100 billion from June of last year. There was no word if the cuts were sales or maturation of debt with the proceeds being reallocated to Japan and Europe. 1

HP’s drop also weighed on the Dow as traders and managers weighed the future of the company.

The VIX traded flat for the week and is pushing up against a resistance level around 27. A move above this level would signal a coming correction in the markets. The weekly charts have a bearish tilt with the possibility that the we may see a move up but this is a difficult chart to read and the VIX is often oversold here for long stretches of time.

North American markets acted accordingly with the S&P selling off after putting in a possible short-term top at 1100. The S&P 500 seems range bound between 1070 and 1100 after last weeks shock. The 50 day moving average is at 1089 and we seem so be yo-yoing around this area looking for a resolution.

Canadian markets showed a bit more strength closing above its 200 day moving average but traders are fearful of what weakness in the US would mean for its largest trading partner. The BHP offer for Potash has everyone excited over more large M&A transactions coming on the heels of the Kinross-Red Bank merger.

Over in Asia markets were mixed with Japan showing signs of a slowdown while Taiwan is steaming ahead. GDP from Taiwan grew 12.53% in the second quarter, beating estimates of 10.15%, and only slightly down from 13.71% during the first quarter.

Hong Kong government took further steps at tightening as they extended the 40% downpayment requirement to apartments costing HK$12 million in an attempt to stabilize price appreciation. The prefectures government is under pressure to cool the market as the Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar and the ZIRP policy in the US is causing a real estate boom. Mortgage rates in Hong Kong are as low as 70 basis points above the Hong Kong interbank offered rate (0.22%) or just under 1%.

The Baltic Dry Index has fallen by more than 50% during the June 1 to July 15th period signaling concerns that the global economy may be slowing down. One factor to consider is that China ended export tax subsidies in July which more than likely push a lot of export shipments into June.

Next week:

Monday: German Manufacturing PMI
Tuesday: Existing home sales in the US
Wednesday: Durable Goods in the US and Trade Balance in Japan
Friday: 2nd Quarter US GDP Estimate, U of Michigan Confidence, Household Spending in Japan
All Week: Speeches by Federal Reserve Governors

1.

Hindenburg Confirmation and Political Comment Friday, Aug 20 2010 

For readers wondering about my political views, I am an independent voter with conservative leanings. When looking at politics in the context of investment decisions I place the political news in a box and set my personal feelings to the side in order to look at the political machinations with a clear eye and mind while searching for how it will affect the markets. With the invisible hand becoming more pronounced in the Treasury markets it helps to understand and watch how things unfold rather than letting something negatively color your viewpoints and potentially ruin a trade. Politics and investing are like oil and water, they do not mix well and it helps to keep both separated. When they do mix watch how they settle and let Mr. Market do the talking.

Today’s drop on weak economic news triggered the first confirmation of the Hindenburg Omen. The 10 week moving average is still rising, the McClellan Oscillator turned negative, New Highs were above the minimum level and the New Lows just barely beat the minimum of 69 new lows by 1 with 70 New Lows on the day. Both New Highs and New Lows were above the minimum and the New Highs were not twice the New Lows.

While the Hindenburg Omen does not guarantee a stock market crash the closer they signals are together and the number of signals should send a warning to investors. That said, I will repeat what I said earlier this week:

“While a Hindenburg Omen does not mean the market will crash it is a signal that a fat tail event may be approaching in terms of a market pullback.

It is not my belief that we are heading for a second stock market crash but investors should tighten stops on long positions and/or hedge long positions until the danger passes.

The underlying market weakness following Wednesday’s drop combined with weak economic reports should give investors pause. The inability of the market to move higher indicates a lack of buyers as investors seem to be waiting on the sidelines.

Now there is good news to report. This drop, should it occur, would put in a major low for the four year Presidential cycle leading to a solid rally into 2011. In other words, protect your long positions and get your cash ready to allocate so you can buy at the bottom.”

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

The Hindenburg Omen – A Potential Fat Tail Event on the Horizon? Tuesday, Aug 17 2010 

Last week the S&P 500 had been flashing a number of technical signals to the market. Amongst the various signal we had an inverse head and shoulders and an ascending wedge giving investors bullish and bearish signals. Wednesday provided a resolution with the ascending wedge breaking down and the market moving significantly lower. More troublesome was the market’s action the next three trading days. After large moves in one direction the market typically consolidates in the opposite direction as short term traders look to book profits and others buy on dips/sell into strength. What we had was the opposite, a market that could not move higher and instead drifted lower.

On Thursday, a Hindenburg Omen signal was triggered. A Hindenburg Omen is a statistical sign made up of market indicators which foreshadows a move to the downside. Just one Hindenburg Omen is not enough as there needs to be confirmation of the first signal within 36 days. If this signal is not confirmed then the signal is not valid.

The Hindenburg Omen has 5 criteria which must be met.

1. The NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
2. The McClellan Oscillator is negative on that same day.
3. The new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs.) This is a mandatory condition.
4. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day with
5. The smaller of the two numbers being greater than or equal to 69.

Delving into these criteria what we find is an indicator which attempts to signal the possible occurrence of a fat tail event.

First, we have a rising NYSE 10 Week moving average which suggests a market trending upward followed up by a fair portion of stocks making new highs.

But underneath the surface there is trouble. The McClellan Oscillator, used by traders to gauge market breadth, is negative signaling that more stocks are falling than rising. This is a sign that a correction may be approaching.

Next we have the 52 Week Highs and Lows. In an rising market one would expect significantly more new 52 Week Highs than new 52 Week Lows. But here the number of new 52 Week Lows are close to the number of 52 Week Highs, relatively speaking.

The number of 52 Week Lows are also more than 2.2% of the total NYSE issues traded that day. This sends a signal that the 52 Week Lows tail is getting fatter, a sign of underlying weakness.

What we find is that while the market appears calm, there is significant turmoil and weakness underneath the surface.

While a Hindenburg Omen does not mean the market will crash it is a signal that a fat tail event may be approaching in terms of a market pullback.

It is not my belief that we are heading for a second stock market crash but investors should tighten stops on long positions and/or hedge long positions until the danger passes.

The underlying market weakness following Wednesday’s drop combined with weak economic reports should give investors pause. The inability of the market to move higher indicates a lack of buyers as investors seem to be waiting on the sidelines.

Now there is good news to report. This drop, should it occur, would put in a major low for the four year Presidential cycle leading to a solid rally into 2011. In other words, protect your long positions and get your cash ready to allocate so you can buy at the bottom.

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

Why I am Bearish on Financial Stocks Friday, Aug 28 2009 

After seeing quite a large rally from the March lows the market appears to be extended and indicators (stocks above 200 day moving average, market PE, bullish/bearish %’s) are signaling some rough seas ahead. While stock could conceivably move higher there are a few reasons why I am bearish at the present time.

Harkening back to 2007, I would like to give credit and thanks to Credit Suisse for the following graph.

As one can see the initial tsunami of bad loans has receded and financial stocks have been licking their wounds and repairing their balance sheets but we are at the beginning of the second wave. This second wave of option reset mortgages will do more damage because of the already weakened state of banks.

The relaxing of mark to market rules has helped repair balance sheets but there will continue to be problems throughout 2010 and into 2011 until the 2nd wave of resets recede.

As the resets continue, non-performing loans continue to rise, causing additional strain on an already weakened banking sector. It is unlikely that we will see a significant drop off in non-performing loans until the bulk of the option resets are completed.

Bank failures continue on a weekly basis with the problems being felt mainly by small and medium sized institutions. Some larger weakened institutions have succumbed to the pressure as well. Recent comments that the FDIC may need additional capital should sound a warning bell across the financial space.

While the housing data has been bullish due to buyers assistance programs, one needs to keep in mind that the reported figures are month-over-month data, not year-over-year. As we get into the fall and winter months the MoM figures will decrease as seasonal patterns take place.

Housing inventories continue at a high level, with many homes being taken off market and rented until the selling climate improves. As we continue through the resets, it is likely that inventories stay high until the potential overhang from option and agency ARM’s clears. Any spurt in new home construction will slow the housing inventories from being worked off in a timely manner.

Retail sales numbers continue to be disappointing, although we are entering a period where comparisons will be much easier. The year over year data shows a 9.4% decline in June and an 8.3% decline in July. Again the YoY data is more telling than the MoM data.

High levels of unemployment will constrain spending and GDP growth into 2010 and later. Government stimulus programs will provide the necessary counterbalance to weakness in consumer spending helping to guide the economy through this difficult period.

This is not an approval for the governments polices but one needs to note that a similar path is followed in every recession. The authors problem lies in the wasteful programs and high deficit levels that state and federal governments carried coming into the recession which only exacerbates the problem going forward. Spending that is targeted at areas to provide future growth is preferred over the construction of dog parks.

So while global economies are likely to come out of the recession without much problem (Japan will be an exception) GDP growth in the US is likely to be below normal levels.

Inventory restocking will give a bump to GDP growth in the coming quarter as will government stimulus programs. This combination will set the stage for renewed consumer and business confidence in the coming years but first we will need to get through the a possible double dip recession in 2010.

So while the market itself may move higher I see better value and higher upsides in the precious metals and agriculture sectors where there are some very interesting values globally. Quite often the best values are off the beaten path.

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

Investment Thoughts (August 3rd, 2009): Monday, Aug 3 2009 

Not going to chase the market for a number of reasons, but most of all we should see a retest of the March lows sometime in the distant future, maybe a year or so. The US banking sector is still not healthy and has been propped up by regulatory rule changes.

So while financial stocks may be doing well at the present time they will not be the leaders in the new cycle for a variety of reasons. Among them are the mark-to-market rules, increasing non-performing loans, and difficulty in earning a solid NIM in a 0% cost of funds environment.

In order for a new bull market to begin, a new sector must take up the leadership mantle. The leaders from the previous cycle do not lead in the new cycle.

Technology is unlikely to provide leadership as R&D budgets continue to get cut. Businesses are unlikely to commit to major capital spending programs, despite a 0% interest rate environment, amidst falling revenues and uncertain consumer demand. Consumer uncertainty about the future will translate to a cautious business environment going forward.

It may sound strange to say this but with top line revenue growth falling and earnings estimates being met by cutting employees and R&D budgets, this is not a healthy sign for the future.

Without top line revenue growth earnings momentum will be difficult to maintain. You can only cut so much staff and R&D. At some point revenues need to grow and that will only come through increased consumer confidence.

When you combine an US unemployment rate that has gone from 5% to 9% and 70% of US GDP being made up of personal consumption, it is no surprise that consumer demand is weak and consumers are tightening their budgets. We will need to see strong hiring in order to get consumers feeling better about the future and opening their pocketbooks.

I am not a proponent of massive budget deficits but right now government spending is propping the US economy from falling off a cliff. This happens in every recession so there should be no surprise here.

Government spending is adding a couple of percent to GDP at the current time. A significant portion of the stimulus money is targeted to be spent in the coming years which should help the recovery. The question is how much will it affect hiring which should translate into higher tax collection as well and possibly allowing the government to meet their optimistic projections for the 2011-2012 time frame, although it is not the authors opinion that the overly optimistic projections will not be met.

The biggest question concerning the recovery should come from the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve. It is Mr. Bernanke’s intention to begin shrinking the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve in the coming years bringing it back down to a reasonable level.

The largest problem is how much will the shrinking balance sheet constrain the economic recovery. In order for the Federal Reserve to sell the securities it now holds there needs to be a buyer on the other side of the transaction. It is unlikely that the capital will come from drastically higher leverage levels at hedge funds and banks. This means the capital needs to come from either foreign governments or the private sector. Capital coming from the private sector will mean less capital for investment purposes. Capital coming from foreign governments means competition for Treasury sales.

Any recovery will be slow and grinding which is not what the bull camp wants to hear.

So what am I doing right now? Sitting on the agriculture purchases I have made over the last six months. Farmland, fruit, vegetable, and sugar production has provided a nice hedge and decent returns. There is tremendous value in the sector with some stocks already surpassing pre-crash highs.

Gold and silver should begin moving to the upside in the next few months but I am content to wait for a washout correction. This should occur about the time we get either a peak in the US Dollar, the US equity market, or both. We have yet to see a 50% retracement from last years lows which is giving me pause, although there are some interesting trades in the large cap sector.

Disclaimer
Communications are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made should not be construed as an endorsement, either expressed or implied. This article and the author is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. This article may not be reproduced without credit or permission from the author. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided “AS IS” without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.
PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN THE STOCK, BOND, AND DERIVATIVE MARKETS. WHEN CONSIDERING ANY TYPE OF INVESTMENT, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.
Before making any type of investment, one should consult with an investment professional to consider whether the investment is appropriate for the individuals risk profile. This is not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to purchase any of the securities listed here. I will not be held liable or responsible for any losses or damages, monetary or otherwise that result from the content of this article.

Everything is Getting Better Tuesday, May 12 2009 

Back in the middle of the financial meltdown last October I penned a quick article entitled [url=”http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/urban/2008/1016.html“]Everything will be All Right in the End[/url]. At the time the world seemed to be falling apart but it is important to understand that although the skies seemed dark at the time, there is a light on the horizon.

Since then the banking industry has undergone stress tests, the creation of various governmental funding mechanisms, and the thinning of the herd in terms of smaller weaker banks being acquired by larger organizations. A sense of normalcy is slowly returning to the industry and as banks spend the appropriate time in recovery.

We are currently at the point where lending standards have tightened and banks feel that the risk/reward ratio is tilted in favor of holding government and corporate bonds rather than making loans. Good people with good credit can get loans in this environment however people who have no income and no job will have no access to credit as it should have been over the past five years. This has been lost in the noise about banks writing off mortgage balances and foreclosures.

We are in the same position today in terms of lending standards as we were at the bottom of every credit cycle going back as long as records are kept. What makes this cycle different from the rest was the movement of mortgages on the edge of the lending bell curve to the mean. Because these mortgages were securitized into illiquid MBS and then chopped and diced into even more illiquid securities the healing process in the banking system will take longer than normal.

So where do we go from here? The healing process will take a number of years as banks continue to deal with problem loans and rebuild their capital structures. The key is loss recognition. The quicker losses are recognized and put behind the bank the quicker they can move forward in terms of rebuilding the capital structures.

Once the capital structures are rebuilt, banks will continue to choose to hold bonds over making loans to less than creditworthy clients until the risk/reward ratio favors making loans to those clients. Any efforts by the government or private sector to return to the lending practices in the middle of this decade should be looked at as a worrisome sign. Even more worrisome would be a return to these lending practices by banks of their own accord.

One recommendation would be to allow Canadian banks, who have very strong capital bases, to acquire weaker banks in the United States. TD Bank made a sizable acquisition in acquiring Commerce Bank but other Canadian banks should be allowed to make acquisitions as well. After speaking with a number of professionals in Canada, they are showing a keen interest in expansion south of the border. Given the strong capital base and risk management practices employed in Canada, where the banking sector was recently rated the strongest in the world, the US government should be opening doors for our neighbors to the north. This would only strengthen the US banking system as a whole and strengthen any economic recovery.