Extreme Positioning in Stocks vs. Bonds

By Callum Thomas

As I was updating my various charts and models, something weird caught my eye.  This peculiar chart shows speculative futures positioning in equities (aggregated across all US index futures) and bonds (US 10 year treasury futures)… and most notably, the spread between them.  With bond traders the most crowded short in recent history, the spread between bonds vs equities positioning is at an extreme.

So what?  Let’s break it down: if traders are short bonds they expect yields to rise (which usually happens as a result of higher growth and inflation outcomes), and if traders are long equities they expect stocks to go up (which similarly hangs on a supportive growth backdrop).  So basically what we’ve got here is traders doubling down on a view that growth and inflation heats up even further from here.  They may be right.  But if they’re wrong, there will be a lot of scrambling to cover positions (aka the long awaited return of market volatility).  So if you’re looking for latent pressure building up in the markets, you’ve found it in this chart.

 

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Midsummer Walkabout

By Tim Knight

I actually like it when we get past June 20. Knowing that each day has less sun is like a gift to me. I can’t say why. It just feels like a sense of relief.

Let’s look at some ETFs together. It would make a better narrative for me to order these differently, but I’m going to be lazy and leave them alphabetical.

First is commodities, which I think will roll over beneath the red horizontal I’ve drawn. Crude oil, in particular, I believe will drag this lower.

The diamonds remain in a long-term and intermediate-term uptrend. Short-term, it’s starting to gently turn lower, but as you can see from the moving averages, it’s going to take a LOT of damage to break this bull run.

Continue reading Midsummer Walkabout

Inversion Alert! Treasury Slope Plummeting Towards 0 BPS

By Anthony B. Sanders

Corporate Debt To GDP May Be At Credit Cycle High

One of the effects of The Federal Reserve’s zero interest policy (ZIRP) was the massive expansion of both consumer and corporate debt. The US may be at a credit cycle peak (Corporate Debt-to-GDP).

corporate debt to gdp 2

Which brings me to the UST 10Y-2Y slope, plummeting towards inversion (now at 24.5 BPS). The last time we saw the 10Y-2Y slope so flat was in early August 2007, 4 months before The Great Recession began.

Continue reading Inversion Alert! Treasury Slope Plummeting Towards 0 BPS

The Next 7 Years

By Charlie Bilello

What returns are you expecting from stocks and bonds over the next 7 years?

This is a question that GMO (one of the largest and most respected asset managers) attempts to answer on a quarterly basis.

Their most recent forecast was downright depressing: -2.2% per year from large cap U.S. stocks and +1.9% per year from U.S. bonds. If correct, it would mean a 60/40 portfolio of U.S. stocks and bonds would generate a return of -0.6% per year over the next 7 years.

By comparison, GMO is expecting +3% per year from cash, implying that there is little to be gained today from taking risk.

Source: GMO.com. Note: Nominal Total Return derived from GMO’s real return and adding their inflation assumption of 2.2% per year.

Continue reading The Next 7 Years

The Current Message From the Most Useful Sentiment Indicator

By Steve Saville

As I’ve noted in the past, the Commitments of Traders (COT) information is nothing other than a sentiment indicator. Moreover, for some markets, including gold, silver, copper, the major currencies and Treasury bonds, the COT reports are by far the best indicators of sentiment. This is because they reflect how the broad category known as speculators is betting. Sentiment surveys, on the other hand, focus on a relatively small sample and are, by definition, based on what people say rather than what they are doing. That’s why for some markets, including the ones mentioned above, I put far more emphasis on the COT data than on sentiment surveys.

In this post I’ll summarise the COT situations for five markets with the help of charts from “Gold Charts ‘R’ Us“. I’ll be focusing on the net positioning of speculators in the futures markets, although useful information can also be gleaned from gross positioning and open interest.

Note that what I refer to as the total speculative net position takes into account the net positions of large speculators (non-commercials) and small traders (the ‘non-reportables’) and is the inverse of the commercial net position. The blue bars in the middle sections of the charts that follow indicate the commercial net position, so the inverse of each of these bars is considered to be the total speculative net position.

I’ll start with gold.

Continue reading The Current Message From the Most Useful Sentiment Indicator

IG vs. HY Redux

By Kevin Muir

Last week’s piece about the widening of investment-grade credit versus high-yield got so many intelligent responses, I thought instead of writing on a new topic today, I would take the lazy route and simply share the insights.

Quick recap – although most risk-on indicators are sitting near recent highs, investment-grade bonds have had a terrible six months.

So in no particular order, here are some of the explanations for this widening of IG OAS credit spreads:

Continue reading IG vs. HY Redux

The #1 Rule in Investing

By Charlie Bilello

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffett

With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the #1 rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.”

In fact, the entire notion is absurd. Anyone who has ever invested in the history of the world has lost money at one time or another. Buffett himself lost close to 50% on two separate occasions. Being in a drawdown is the norm, not the exception. That is the price you pay in exchange for a higher return than a risk-free savings account.

So what is the number 1 rule in investing? That’s an impossible question, but if I had to pick just one it would be the Peter Lynch line about “knowing what you own and why you own it.” For if you don’t get that one right, you won’t hold any investment long enough to reap the benefits of compounding. You can have the best assets/strategy in the world but if you don’t understand what it is you will abandon it at the first sign of trouble. And believe me when I tell you that there will be many times of trouble.

Most advisors nowadays focus on asset allocation for their clients, typically a diversified mix of stocks and bonds. This is a good start, for asset allocation is the most important determinant of portfolio returns.

Continue reading The #1 Rule in Investing

A West Coast State of Mind

By James Howard Kunstler

Driving south on I-5 into Seattle, the Cascadia Subduction Zone came to mind, especially when the highway dipped into a gloomy tunnel beneath Seattle’s relatively new skyscraper district. This fault line runs along the Pacific coast from north of Vancouver down into California. The western “plates” move implacably east and downward under the North American plate, building up massive tectonic forces that can produce some of the most violent megathrust earthquakes on the planet.

The zone also accounts for a chain of volcanoes that tend to produce titanic explosions rather than eruptions of lava and ash as seen in the hula movies. The most recent expression of this tendency was Mt. St. Helens in 1980, an impressive cataclysm by the standards of our fine-tuned complex civilization, but a junior event of its type compared to, say, the blow-off of Mt. Mazama 7,500 years ago, which left Crater Lake for the tourists. A publicity-shy correspondent writes:

Continue reading A West Coast State of Mind

Wrapping Up an Eventful Week in Bonds and Stocks

By NFTRH

US Treasury Bonds/Yields

On May 20 we presented a case in NFTRH 500 that the bearish bond play (bullish yields) was done, at least temporarily, from a contrarian perspective.

About Those Bond Yields

That was written before I realized – thanks to an alert NFTRH subscriber – that Thursday, May 31 would be another Fed SOMA (or QT) day, as bonds are allowed to hit maturity.*

The day after this bond maturation yields again went up (bonds down) as the stock market shook off the media-manufactured fears that ostensibly started in Italy but actually were destined to crop up regardless in one place or another (there was a lot of trade war noise this week).

See this NFTRH Premium update, now unlocked to the public, as it was presented in-day and in real time to give perspective for subscribers (and myself) as the media were scaring the herds into risk ‘off’ behavior and the perceived safety of Treasury bonds.

Continue reading Wrapping Up an Eventful Week in Bonds and Stocks

Why It’s Different This Time

By Steve Saville

One of the financial world’s most dangerous expressions is “this time is different”, because the expression is often used during investment bubbles as part of a rationalisation for extremely high market valuations. Such rationalisations involve citing a special set of present-day conditions that supposedly transforms a very high valuation by historical standards into a reasonable one. However, sometimes it actually is different in the sense that all long-term trends eventually end. Sometimes, what initially looks like another in a long line of price moves that run counter to an old secular trend turns out to be the start of a new secular trend in the opposite direction. We continue to believe that the current upward move in interest rates is different, in that it is part of a new secular advance as opposed to a reaction within an on-going secular decline. Here are two of the reasons:

The first and lesser important of the reasons is the price action, one aspect of which is the performance of the US 10-year T-Note yield. With reference to the following chart, note that:

a) The 2016 low for the 10-year yield was almost the same as the 2012 low, creating what appears to be a long-term double bottom or base.

b) The 10-year yield has broken above the top of a well-defined 30-year channel.

c) By moving decisively above 3.0% last week the 10-year yield did something it had not done since the start of its secular decline in the early-1980s: make a higher-high on a long-term basis.

Continue reading Why It’s Different This Time

Sentiment Snapshot: Bonds and Reflation

By Callum Thomas

This week I took a long hard look at the survey results and a series of other charts, because they all seemed to be challenging my medium term views and biases.  Not only that, they seem to be flying in the face of a range of crowded and consensus trades.  In short, the bond selloff is being called into question, and if you have questions on bonds, then you’re probably going to end up with questions on the whole reflation trade…

This series of articles looks at the results from the weekly surveys I run on Twitter which ask respondents to differentiate bullish vs bearish views on bonds and equities for fundamental vs technical rationale. I also add some of my other charts and indicators to round out the picture.

The key takeaways from the weekly sentiment snapshot are:

-Equity investors are reassessing the fundamentals outlook.

-Bond investors seem to be already well ahead of them on that front.

-Bond survey trends point to a counter-trend move in bond yields, and the macro momentum seems to line up.

-Questions on bonds may lead to questions on the reflation trade.

1. Equity Fundamentals vs Technicals:  Starting as usual with a look at the weekly survey results for equity “fundamentals” vs “technicals” sentiment (the survey asks respondents whether they are bullish or bearish for primarily fundamental vs technical rationale), technical net-bulls dropped slightly, but it was the drop in fundamental net-bulls that caught my attention this week.  You could say that based on the latest results investors are starting to reassess the fundamentals outlook.  As I noted in the latest weekly S&P500 #ChartStorm, the fundamentals (at least earnings) have been looking pretty decent, but the outlook is by no means baked in.

Continue reading Sentiment Snapshot: Bonds and Reflation

Gold, US Stocks and Bonds

By NFTRH

I’ll try to keep things simple with this recap of the 3 of the 5 major food groups (leaving aside commodities and currencies) for investors. No confusing you today with too many inter-market ratios, overly technical language or cute metaphors like the 3 Amigos (although it is notable that Amigo #2 is stopping exactly as we’d forecast, as you’ll see in the Bonds segment below).

So let’s take a technical look at larger picture of the 3 groups using weekly charts for gold and SPX and a monthly for 30yr bond yields, along with some thoughts. We’ll reserve the shorter-term technical management for subscriber updates and weekly NFTRH reports.

Gold

For the sake of your financial well being, continue to tune out inflation, trade wars, shooting wars, Ebola, China demand and Indian wedding season as reasons to be bullish the relic, it’s wilder little brother, silver and the miners. Continue to tune in to gold’s standing vs. stocks and other risk ‘on’ assets along with investor confidence, the economy, interest rate dynamics (including the yield curve) and to an extent, the state of your local currency.

Continue reading Gold, US Stocks and Bonds