From Crypto To Qatar – These Were The Best & Worst Assets In 2017

2017 saw global central bank balance sheets explode almost 17% higher (in USD terms) – the biggest annual increase since 2011 – and while correlation is not causation, one can’t help but see a pattern in the chart below…
Global stocks up, Global bonds up, Global commodities up, Financial Conditions easier (despite 3 Fed rate hikes), and Dollar down (most since 2003)…
As we noted earlier, Craig James, chief economist at fund manager CommSec, told Reuters that of the 73 bourses it tracks globally, all but nine have recorded gains in local currency terms this year.
‘For the outlook, the key issue is whether the low growth rates of prices and wages will continue, thus prompting central banks to remain on the monetary policy sidelines,’ said James. ‘Globalization and technological change have been influential in keeping inflation low. In short, consumers can buy goods whenever they want and wherever they are.’
Still, the good times may not last: an State Street index that gauges investor risk appetite by what they actually buy and sell, suffered its six straight monthly fall in December, Reuters reported.
“While the broader economic outlook appears increasingly rosy, as captured by measures of consumer and business confidence, the more cautious nature of investors hints at a concern that markets may have already discounted much of the good news,’ said Michael Metcalfe, State Street’s head of global macro strategy.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

Global Stocks Rise, Copper Soars In Thin Holiday Volumes

European stocks are steady in post-Christmas trading if struggling for traction after a mixed session in Asia, amid trading thinned by a holiday-shortened week and ongoing worries about the tech sector; however a strong rally in commodities – including copper and oil – buoyed expectations for a strong 2018 and helped offset concerns over the technology sector triggered by reports of soft iPhone X demand.
U. S. equity futures nudged higher while the dollar weakened against most G-10 peers as investors await the release of U. S. consumer-confidence data, with much of the spotlight falling on commodity currencies. The OZ dollar holds onto gains as copper surges to a three-year high; oil retreats after reaching the highest close in more than two years following a pipeline explosion in Libya on Tuesday. Treasuries and core European core bond yields are a touch lower.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index edged lower, with tech stocks hit for the third day amid rumors of weak iPhone demand and leading the decline as chipmakers slumped after analysts lowered iPhone X shipment projections, sending the Nasdaq Composite Index lower overnight. While mining and oil stocks strengthened due to a surge in copper prices to a 3.5 year high (see below), the European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1% as European tech stocks tumbled on reports that demand for Apple’s iPhone X may be weaker than expected. The equity benchmark index is poised for an annual gain of 8.1%, the best advance in four years. Elsewhere, Volvo rose as China’s Geely bought Cevian’s stake in the truckmaker, making it Volvo AB’s largest stakeholder. IWG surged the most since 2009 after confirming it has received a a non-binding takeover offer from a consortium backed by Brookfield Asset Management and Onex.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Mises Explains The Santa Claus Principle

From “The Exhaustion of the Reserve Fund” in Human Action, Chapter XXXVI by Ludwig von Mises:
The idea underlying all interventionist policies is that the higher income and wealth of the more affluent part of the population is a fund which can be freely used for the improvement of the conditions of the less prosperous. The essence of the interventionist policy is to take from one group to give to another. It is confiscation and distribution. Every measure is ultimately justified by declaring that it is fair to curb the rich for the benefit of the poor.
In the field of public finance progressive taxation of incomes and estates is the most characteristic manifestation of this doctrine. Tax the rich and spend the revenue for the improvement of the condition of the poor, is the principle of contemporary budgets. In the field of industrial relations shortening the hours of work, raising wages, and a thousand other measures are recommended under the assumption that they favor the employee and burden the employer. Every issue of government and community affairs is dealt with exclusively from the point of view of this principle.
An illustrative example is provided by the methods applied in the operation of nationalized and municipalized enterprises. These enterprises very often result in financial failure; their accounts regularly show losses burdening the state or the city treasury. It is of no use to investigate whether the deficits are due to the notorious inefficiency of the public conduct of business enterprises or, at least partly, to the inadequacy of the prices at which the commodities or services are sold to the customers. What matters more is the fact that the taxpayers must cover these deficits. The interventionists fully approve of this arrangement. They passionately reject the two other possible solutions: selling the enterprises to private entrepreneurs or raising the prices charged to the customers to such a height that no further deficit remains. The first of these proposals is in their eyes manifestly reactionary because the inevitable trend of history is toward more and more socialization. The second is deemed “antisocial” because it places a heavier load upon the consuming masses. It is fairer to make the taxpayers, i.e., the wealthy citizens, bear the burden. Their ability to pay is greater than that of the average people riding the nationalized railroads and the municipalized subways, trolleys, and busses. To ask that such public utilities should be self-supporting, is, say the interventionists, a relic of the old-fashioned ideas of orthodox finance. One might as well aim at making the roads and the public schools self-supporting.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 25, 2017.

(Some) Commodity Charts are Breaking Out

Tonight I would like to update some charts for the commodities complex as we are starting to see some action in this sector. Back in the summer months when we first started to get long some of the different commodities sectors, we got many breakouts from some very nice H&S bases. After the initial move up came the first consolidation phase that has been going on for nearly four months or so. We are now starting to see some of these consolidation patterns breaking out which should lead to the next impulse move higher in most cases.
Lets start with BHP, one of the biggest miners on the planet, that shows a good example of where we are at in the bull market. Today the price action broke out with a gap above the top rail of an almost 5 month triangle consolidation pattern. A backtest to the top rail would come in around the 43.50 area.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 21 December 2017.

Coming Housing Boom Could Mean It’s Time to Add Raw Materials

In its November report, mortgage security firm Freddie Mac called 2017 the ‘best year in a decade’ for the housing market by a variety of measures. These include low inflation, strong job growth and historically-low mortgage rates. This assessment is very encouraging, not just for homebuyers and builders and the U. S. economy in general, but also for commodities, resources and raw materials as we head into 2018.
Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, it’s still instructive to look back at how materials performed the last time the U. S. was ramping up housing starts and mortgages. The last housing boom, which peaked in 2006, was accompanied by elevated commodity prices. We could see a return to these valuations over the next couple of years on higher demand, a stronger macroeconomic backdrop and cyclical fundamentals, as shown in the following chart courtesy of DoubleLine Capital:
***
Speaking on CNBC’s ‘Halftime Report’ last week, DoubleLine founder Jeffrey Gundlach said he thought “investors should add commodities to their portfolios’ for 2018, pointing out that they are just as cheap relative to stocks as they were at historical turning points.
‘We’re at that level where in the past you would have wanted commodities’ in your portfolio, Gundlach said. ‘The repetition of this is almost eerie. And so if you look at that chart, the value in commodities is, historically, exactly where you want it to be a buy.’

This post was published at GoldSeek on Thursday, 21 December 2017.

Goldman: These Are the Hottest Commodities in 2018

Goldman Sachs continues to ratchet up predictions for commodities, laying out a bullish case for commodities of all stripes in 2018.
The investment bank said that its forecast a year ago for higher commodity prices ‘played out much better than expected.’ The bank pointed to industrial metal prices, which are up 24 percent this year, plus the 13 percent increase in oil prices.
But looking forward, Goldman sees plenty of room to run. ‘The demand backdrop today is now even stronger than a year ago, with robust and synchronous global growth clearly evident,’ Goldman analysts, led by Jeffrey Currie, wrote in a December 11 research note. The extension of the OPEC deal also led the bank to revise up its forecast for oil prices, as inventories should continue to fall throughout 2018.
There are other reasons to be bullish on commodities. The investment bank argues that commodities tend to outperform other asset classes when central banks move to tighten rates. That is because rate hikes typically occur when demand is exceeding supply – the higher prices resulting from that mismatch are why central banks are trying to raise rates, but it is those higher prices that support the investment case into commodities.
The report concluded that “a positive carry in key commodity markets and already strong global demand growth across the commodity complex reinforces the case for owning commodities. And hence we maintain our 12-month overweight recommendation, now with a forecasted return of almost 10 percent.”

This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/15/2017.

Gundlach Reveals His Favorite Trade For 2018

One day after Stanley Druckenmiller confessional to CNBC that as a result of central planning and markets that make no sense, the legendary hedge fund manager had a “terrible” year, and his “first down year in currencies ever” (he also said many not very nice things about bitcoin), it was Jeffrey Gundlach’s turn to confess some of his more controversial views. And so, the man who two years ago correctly predicted the Trump presidency, first discussed his best investment idea for the new year. To those who listened to his latest DoubleLine investor presentation last week, the answer will hardly be a surprise: namely commodities, because they’re “historically, exactly where you want it to be a buy.”
“I think investors should add commodities to their portfolios,” Gundlach says on CNBC’s Halftime Report.
Gundlach said commodities are just as cheap relative to stocks as they were at historical turning points, while the macroeconomic backdrop also supports the case for commodities; he was referring to the following chart which he highlighted last week.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.

Australian Banks – First The Housing Bubble Bursts, Now A Public Inquiry

We keep returning to the subject of Australia and the growing signs that its bubble economy is bursting. Earlier this month, we discussed how the world’s longest-running bull market – 55 years – in Australian house prices appears to have come to an end. We followed this up with ‘Why Australia’s Economy Is A House Of Cards’ in which Matt Barrie and Craig Tindale described how Australia’s three decades long economic expansion had mostly been the result of ‘dumb luck’.
As a whole, the Australian economy has grown through a property bubble inflating on top of a mining bubble, built on top of a commodities bubble, driven by a China bubble.
Last week, in “The Party’s Over For Australia’s $5.6 Trillion Housing Market Frenzy”, we highlighted some scary metrics for Australia’s housing bubble – notably how the value of Australian housing is more than four times gross domestic product – higher than other nations with housing bubbles, e.g. New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Two days ago, we noted the number of Australians optimistic about the year ahead had plunged to a record low.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2017.