Tag Archives: inflation

Gold Ratios Today; Ag-Au & Au-Pd

By Biiwii

A couple of our most recently watched gold ratios..

Silver-Gold ratio bounced today, keeping the hopes of the ‘inflation trade’ alive.

sgr

Gold was down hard today, but the problem for the Palladium-Gold ratio is that the cyclical metal, Pd was down harder.

pall.gold

Here’s the weekly view, showing what looks like a shoe-in that a negative macro signal is going to come about.

pall.gold.wk

<Insert here > the usual caveats about tolerances on timing and individual indicators not being taken in a vacuum; but if this indicator is going to work as it has before, it’s message is not a pleasant one.  And no, I don’t have a clue about how this squares with the bullish things I am seeing in the Semi Equipment sector, another ‘canary’ that chirped the post-2012 up cycle.

It’s why you’ve got to love this market I guess.  It’s wonderfully dysfunctional IMO mostly thanks to the historically vigorous levels of policy input post-2008.

Post-CPI

By Michael Ashton

Summary of My Post-CPI Tweets

Below is a summary of my post-CPI tweets. ou can (and should!) follow me @inflation_guy or sign up for email updates to my occasional articles here. Investors with interests in this area be sure to stop by Enduring Investments.

  • Core CPI prints +0.145…just misses printing +0.2, which will make it seem weak. We will see the breakdown.
  • y/y core goes to 1.73% from 1.81%. A downtick there was very likely because we were dropping off +0.23%
  • This decreases odds of Sept Fed hike (I didn’t think likely anyway) but remember we have a couple more cpi prints so don’t exaggerate.
  • Core goods (-0.3% from -0.2%) and core services (2.4% from 2.5%) both declined. Again, some of that is base effects.
  • fwiw, next few months we drop off from core CPI: +0.137%, +0.098%, +0.052%, and +0.145%. So y/y core will be higher in a few months.
  • INteresting was housing declined to 1.9% from 2.2% y/y. But it was all Lodging away from home: 0.96% from 5.1% y/y!
  • Gotta tell you I am traveling now and that reminds you the difference between rate and level. Hotels are EXPENSIVE!
  • Owners’ Equiv Rent +2.79% from 2.77%. Primary Rents 3.47% unch. So the main housing action is still up. And should continue.
  • Remember the number we care about is actually Median CPI, a couple hours from now. That should stay 0.2 and around 2.2% y/y.
  • At root, this isn’t a very exciting CPI figure. It helps the doves, but that help will be short-lived. Internals didn’t move much tho.

The last remark sums it up. While the movement in Lodging Away from Home made it briefly look like there was some weakness in housing, I probably would have dismissed that anyway. There’s simply too much momentum in housing prices for there to be anything other than accelerating inflation in that sector. We have a long way to go, I think, before we have any topping in housing inflation.

But overall, this was a fairly boring figure. While the year-on-year core CPI print declined, that was due as I mentioned to base effects: dropping off a curiously strong number from last year. (That said, this month’s core CPI definitely calms things a bit after last month’s upward surprise). However, the next few base effect changes will push y/y core CPI higher. While today’s data will be welcomed by the doves, by the time of the September meeting the momentum in core inflation will be evident and median inflation is likely to be heading higher as well.

Note that I don’t think the Fed tightens in September even with a core CPI at 2% or above, but the bond market will get very scared about that between now and then. Could be some rough sledding for fixed income later in the summer. But not for now!

Gold’s Ratio Signals

By NFTRH.com

A brief snapshot of counter-cyclical gold’s macro signals vs. other metals (and broad commodities) that are more positively correlated to economies, using weekly charts…

Each week NFTRH updates many charts of nominal US and global stock markets, commodities, precious metals and currencies over multiple time frames.  But we also cover economic data and indicators, with the first macro chart below (Palladium vs. Gold) still barely holding its economic ‘UP’ signal from January, 2013.  At that time a coming economic up phase did not seem likely, but PALL-Gold and fundamental information gleaned from a personal source in the Semiconductor Equipment sector gave us a good risk vs. reward on that stance.

While it can be argued that using an indicator like Palladium (positive economic correlation) to Gold (counter cyclical) is subject to the discrete supply/demand fundamentals of the two assets, it has worked to signal up and down economic phases, with the most recent shown in Q1 2013 (green arrow).  This indicator has been whipsawing since topping out a year ago and the moving averages are near a trigger point.

pall.gold

A related indicator is Gold vs. Commodities.  Gold-CRB made an impulsive rise in late 2014 as the global deflationary phase topped out.  As policy makers (ECB, BoJ, China Central Planning and US with ongoing ZIRP) continue to promote inflation 24/7, 365 Gold-CRB has dropped as it should when inflation is starting to ‘work’ and inflation expectations start to take hold.  But a problem for hopeful inflationists is that so far at least, counter-cyclical Gold-CRB appears to be in a bullish consolidation.

gold.crb

If cyclical PALL-Gold were to break down and counter-cyclical Gold-CRB to hold support and resume its uptrend the indication for the global economy would be negative.

Another chart worth considering is Gold vs. Copper, the traditionally cyclical red industrial metal.  A series of higher highs and higher lows began in late 2013 and is still in play.

gold.copper

To put perspective on this, behold how bearish nominal Copper is and has been by viewing this monthly chart similar to those we have reviewed in NFTRH for years now to maintain a big picture bearish outlook on this metal.  We have allowed for the current bounce/rally/bear flag, but until $3/lb. is exceeded and held, this is a very bearish picture.

copper

Finally, let’s review Gold vs. its primary running mate, Silver.  Actually, flipping Gold vs. Silver over to the Silver-Gold ratio works best visually at this time.

We are allowing for a bounce in Silver vs. Gold.  This could come about if the Fed rolls over again today and plays nice with its language.  Or it could just come about simply because it is due.  This would go hand in hand with a resumption of the mini inflation bounce implied in TIPs vs. regular Treasury bonds and in nominal Treasury bond yields.  The message of Silver-Gold however, is similar to the charts above on the bigger picture because it is locked below very strong resistance.

sgr.wk

Bottom Line

I consider Gold vs. Palladium and Gold vs. Copper to be indicators on the global economy whereas Silver vs. Gold is more an early indicator on inflationary pressure.

The conclusion is that the economy is in danger of decelerating (Pd-Au, Au-CRB, Au-Cu) amidst a dis-inflationary environment (Ag-Au).  The timing could be by this fall.  First, a resumed bounce in the ‘inflation trade’ has a chance to get reanimated.  But that is not the dominant longer-term trend.

Stocks Upbeat, US Dollar Downbeat

By Biiwii

US stocks poised for upbeat day as dollar slumps

Well okay, the media has its rationalization, but stocks were obviously at a bounce point yesterday.

Stepping away from the stupid noise that the media inject each and every day, there is a tie-in between the US dollars’s resumed correction, a speculated upon ‘C’ leg up in commodities, the fact that silver vs. gold has room to bounce (but is big picture bearish) and oh yes, this chart’s all-important message…

tyx

‘Inflation expectations’ appear to still be well in play.  But at around the time the ‘Continuum’ above reaches the limiter (AKA 100 month EMA), other indicators should also be at potential termination points.  We finely detailed the plan in an NFTRH update this morning, but for our purposes here, we’ll just note that all of this is counter-trend as it stands now.  So don’t get lost along the way.  Stay on your indicators.

Inflation Risks… Ahead

By Michael Ashton

Inflation Risks Behind, Beside, and Ahead

To be sure, it looks like growth slowed over the course of the difficult winter. The cause of this malaise doesn’t appear to me to be weather-related, but rather dollar-related; while currency movements don’t have large effects on inflation, they have reasonably significant effects on top-line sales when economies are sufficiently open. It is less clear that we will have similar sequential effects and that growth will be as punk in Q2 as it was in Q1. While I do think that the economy has passed its zenith for this expansion and is at increasing risk for a recession later this year into next, I don’t have much concern that we are slipping into a recession now.

Continue reading Inflation Risks… Ahead

Risk Behind Buffett…

By Biiwii

Thanks to reader Mary, an excellent article at Forbes by John Tobey…

The Risk Behind Buffett’s Advice

I found it interesting for several reasons.  One is the use of log scale charts and their value in viewing percentage based prices over very long (a Century in this case) periods.  I use mostly linear charts because I usually deal in 1 week to 10 year time frames.  But Mr. Tobey’s assertion that long-term investors should be interested in percentage performance is a good one.

Secondly, adjustments are made to the market (in this case, the Dow) for ‘inflation’ and ‘deflation’ using the CPI as the denominator.  CPI is noisy (e.g. faulty) on shorter time frames (it is not inflation, it is inflation’s effects), but over a century it is what it is after inflation and deflation have long since shaken out into the picture.

Here is his chart of the adjusted Dow.  But read the article.  It’s quick and to the point.

dow.cpi

Gold is Not a Play on “CPI Inflation”

By Steve Saville

I have never been in the camp that exclaims “buy gold because the US is headed for hyperinflation!”. Instead, at every step along the way since the inauguration of the TSI web site in 2000 my view has been that the probability of the US experiencing hyperinflation within the next 2 years — on matters such as this there is no point trying to look ahead more than 2 years — is close to zero. That is still my view. In other words, I think that the US has a roughly 0% probability of experiencing hyperinflation within the next 2 years. Furthermore, at no time over the past 15 years have I suggested being ‘long’ gold due to the prospect of a rapid rise in the CPI. This is partly because at no time during this period, including the present, has a rapid rise in the CPI seemed like a high-probability intermediate-term outcome, but it is mainly because gold has never been and is never likely to be a play on “CPI inflation”.

Gold is a play on the economic weakness caused by bad policy and on declining confidence in the banking establishment (led by the Fed in the US)← [edit: as NFTRH steadfastly continues to remind subscribers. We obviously agree 100% with Saville’s view]. That’s why cyclical gold bull markets are invariably born of banking/financial crisis and/or recession, and why a cyclical gold bull market is more likely to begin amidst rising deflation fear than rising inflation fear.

There are times when the declining economic/monetary confidence that boosts the investment demand for gold is linked to expectations of a rapid increase in “price inflation”, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. For example, the entire run-up in the gold price from its 2001 bottom to its 2011 peak had nothing to do with the CPI. Also, an increase in the rate of “CPI inflation” would only ever be bullish for gold to the extent that it brought about declining confidence in the economy or the banking establishment, as indicated by credit spreads, real interest rates, the BKX/SPX ratio and the yield curve. Since it’s possible for the CPI to accelerate upward without a significant decline in confidence, it’s possible that an upward acceleration in the CPI would not be bullish for gold.

The bottom line is that as far as the gold market is concerned, the CPI is more of a distraction than a driver.

[edit:  Once more we ask readers to tune out promoters going on about China demand, Indian Wedding Season, US wages and consumer price inflation, Greece this and Ukraine that.  Saville just very clearly explained why they have been wrong for the entire bear market]

Post-CPI Summary

By Michael Ashton

Summary of My Post-CPI Tweets

Below you can find a recap and extension of my post-CPI tweets. You can follow me @inflation_guy or sign up for email updates to my occasional articles here. Investors with interests in this area be sure to stop by Enduring Investments.

  • Core CPI+0.23% m/m is the story, with y/y upticking to 1.754% (rounded to +1.8%). This was higher than expected, by a smidge.
  • Core services +2.4% y/y down from 2.5%. But core goods -0.2%, up from -0.5% last mo and -0.8% two months ago. Despite dollar strength!
  • Core ex-housing rose to 0.91% y/y from 0.69% at the end of 2014. Another sign core inflation has bottomed and is heading back to median.
  • The m/m rise of 0.20% in core ex-shelter was the highest since Jan 2013.
  • Primary rents 3.53% y/y from 3.54%; OER 2.693% from 2.687%. Zzzzz…story today is outside of housing, which is significant.
  • Accelerating major groups: Apparel, Transport, Med Care, Recreation (32.1% of index). Decel: Food/Bev, Housing, Educ/Comm, Other (67.9%)
  • …but again, in housing the shelter component (32.7% of overall CPI) was unch at ~3% while fuels/utilities plunged to -2.26% from flat.
  • [in response to a question “Michael we have been scratching our heads on this one… is it some impact of port strike do you think?”] @econhedge I don’t think so. But core goods was just too low. Our proxy says this is about right.
  • @econhedge w/in core goods, Medical commodities went to 4.2% from 3.9%, new cars from 0.1% to 0.3%, and Apparel to -0.5% from -0.8%.
  • @econhedge so you can argue Obamacare effect having as much impact as port strike. But it’s one month in any case. Don’t overanalyze. :-)
  • Medicinal drugs at 4.46% y/y. In mid-2013 it was flat. That was a big reason core CPI initially diverged from median. Sequester effect.
  • @econhedge Drugs 1.70%, med equip/supplies 0.08% (that’s percentage of overall CPI). 8.7% and 0.4% of core goods, respectively.
  • Median should be roughly 0.2%. I have it up 0.21% m/m and 2.22% y/y, but I don’t have the right seasonals for the regional OERs.
  • Further breakdown of medical care commodities: the biggest piece was prescription drugs, +5.74% y/y vs 5.19%. The other parts were lower.

The main headline of the story is that core inflation rose the most month-over-month since May. After a long string of sub-0.2% prints (that sometimes rounded up), this was a clean print that would annualize to 2.7% or so. And it is no fluke. The rise was broad-based, with 63% of the components at least 2% above deflation (see chart, source Enduring Investments, and keep in mind that anything energy-related is not part of that 63%) and nearly a quarter of the basket above 3%.

abovezero

This is no real surprise. Median has consistently been well above core CPI, which implied some “tail categories” were dragging down core CPI. These tail categories are still there (see chart, source Enduring Investments), but less than they had been (compare to chart here). Ergo, core is converging upward to median CPI. As predicted.

distrib

The next important step in the evolution of inflation will be when median inflation turns decisively higher, which we think will happen soon. But that being said, a few more months of core inflation accelerating on a year/year basis will get the attention of the moderates on the Federal Reserve Board. I don’t think it will matter until the doves also take notice, and this is unlikely to happen when the economy is slowing, as it appears to be doing. I don’t think we will see a Fed hike this year.

Official CPI vs. Shadowstats CPI

By Steve Saville

The official CPI versus the Shadowstats.com CPI

Even the most well-meaning and rigorous attempt to come up with a single number (a price index) that reflects the change in the purchasing power (PP) of money is bound to fail. The main reason is that disparate items cannot be added together and/or averaged to arrive at a sensible result. For example, in one transaction a dollar might buy one potato, in another transaction it might buy 1/30,000 of a new car and in a third transaction it might buy 1/200 of a medical checkup. What’s the average of one potato, one-thirty-thousandth of a new car and one-two-hundredth of a medical checkup? The creators of price indices claim to know the answer, but obviously there is no sensible answer. However, in this post I’m going to ignore the conceptual problem with price indices and briefly explore the question: Which is probably closer to reality — the official CPI or the CPI calculated by Shadowstats.com?

Continue reading Official CPI vs. Shadowstats CPI

Post-CPI

By Michael Ashton

Summary of my Post-CPI Tweets

Below you can find a recap and extension of my post-CPI tweets. You can follow me @inflation_guy or sign up for email updates to my occasional articles here. Investors with interests in this area be sure to stop by Enduring Investments.

  • core CPI +0.157%, so it just barely rounded to +0.2%. Still an upside surprise. Y/Y rose to 1.69%, rounding to 1.7%.
  • y/y headline now +0.0%. It will probably still dip back negative until the gasoline crash is done, but this messes up the “deflation meme”
  • (Although the deflation meme was always a crock since core is 1.7% and rising, and median is higher).
  • Core ex-housing +0.78%. Still weak.
  • Core services +2.5%. Core goods -0.5%, which is actually a mild acceleration. So the rise in core actually came from the goods side.
  • Accelerating major cats: Apparel, Transp. Decel: Food/Bev, Housing, Med care, Recreation, Other. Unch: Educ/Comm. But lots of asterisks.
  • Shelter component of housing rose back to 3% (2.98%) y/y; was just fuels & utilities dragging down housing.
  • Primary rents: +3.54% y/y, a new high. Owners’ Equiv Rent: 2.69%, just off the highs.
  • In Medical Care, Medicinal Drugs 4.13% from 4.16%, but pro services +1.47 from +1.71 and hospital services 3.28% from 4.08%.
  • In Education and Communication: Education decelerated to 3.5% from 3.7%; Communication accel to -2.2% from -2.3%.
  • 10y breakevens +3bps. Funny how mild surprises (Fed, CPI) just run roughshod over the shorts who are convinced deflation is destiny.
  • No big $ reaction. FX guys can’t decide if CPI bullish (Fed maybe changes mind and goes hawkish!) or bearish (inflation hurts curncy).
  • Here’s my take: Fed isn’t going to be hawkish. Maybe ever. So this should be a negative for the USD.

Continue reading Post-CPI

CPI Ticks Up

By Biiwii

Up by .2% the BLS reports this morning…

Consumer Price Index Summary

Here is the graphical view of recent CPI history…

cpi

The US dollar has been correcting and over at NFTRH.com we showed some support parameters for Uncle Buck.

Also, as noted in the precious metals update for subscribers this morning, silver is making a move vs. gold and this will be a key indicator on whether or not a good old fashioned ‘inflation trade’ can get going.  It has not triggered a signal yet, but it is flirting.

The thing is, there has been a nice deflationary pull coming out of Europe and Asia that has played into the US Goldilocks scenario (strong US currency, strong stock markets and tamped down prices within the economy).  Europe is inflating its asset markets (i.e. trying like hell to boost prices)… Europe Fights Lower Prices.

[edit] Also see Euro Area PMI’s Continue Upward just posted at NFTRH.com.

Now, prices may be becoming an issue within the US economy as the global situation eases (literally).