The Euro Revisited

Back in December when we wrote our post “Is It Finally Time To Sort The Euro” we got a lot of flack for saying that the US Dollar was bottoming out and that the Euro was going to drop.  We received e-mails telling us about all of the problems with the US and why the Dollar is going down forever.  Our basic answer has been that while the US has tons, and by tons we mean trillions upon trillions, of problems the US Dollar is not going the way of toilet paper anytime soon.

While we knew of many of the problems in the EU when we wrote our post we had no idea how bad and how fast they would manifest themselves.  As you can see in the chart below since our post the Euro has broken down, consolidated at the 200-day moving average, and then broke down some more. (Click on cart to enlarge)

EUR/USD Daily Chart


So what do we see going forward?  In our earlier post we showed a chart of the EUR/USD purchasing power parity that showed the Euro as being 35% overvalued relative to the US Dollar.  As you can see in the chart below the Euro has narrowed the valuation gap considerably but is still 22% overvalued to the USD.  We would not be surprised to see the EUR/USD hit the 2008 lows around 1.25 before finding strong support.  (Click on chart to enlarge)



Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-In The Macro Trader newsletter we are short the EUR/USD

US Dollar Correlations Breaking Down

Over the past year one of the biggest themes has been to short the US Dollar and go long anything that is considered risky.  If you bought stocks, any grade of corporate bond, commodities, even real estate stocks and you would have made money.  Many strategists, The Macro Trader included, used the falling US Dollar as a reason to go long stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.  The reason of course is that since the March bottom the USD and the SP500 have been almost perfectly inversely correlated.  Well that relationship appears to be breaking down right now as the US Dollar has been rallying and other risk assets have not been falling in sympathy.

In the chart below you can see how as the US Dollar has fallen, the SP500 has risen.  In fact when there is a wiggle in the USD there is an opposite move in the SP500.  As you can see in the bottom right hand corner the USD is rallying while in the top right hand corner the SP500 is still looking strong. (Click on chart twice to enlarge)

US Dollar vs SP500


Of course if this inverse correlation is falling apart the correlation between the SP500 and the Euro is also falling.  Apparently, at least for now, you are able to be short the EUR/USD and still be long stocks and make money.  Looking at the chart below you can see almost the exact opposite of what we see with the US Dollar.  As the SP500 has moved higher the Euro has climbed as well until the last few weeks as the Euro has tumbled and equity markets as well as other risk assets have managed to remain strong and in many cases hit new highs. (Click on chart twice to enlarge)

Euro vs SP500


What do we take from this?  One thing is that the carry trade using the US Dollar was not as heavy as many people feared.  Another thing is that the market is always changing and that many intermarket relationships work well in some periods and fall apart in others.  As always it is important that we have solid risk management principles and that we are open to change.  For now we are short the EUR/USD and long equities…but that could change tomorrow.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-The Macro Trader is long several equity index ETFs such as IWF, EWZ, and MOO and we are short the FXE-Euro ETF.

If you’re getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us and mentioning The Macro Trader to friends and co-workers. Here’s the link information for this article:
Title: US Dollar Correlations Breaking Down

Is It Time To Buy The US Dollar?

Yesterday we wrote about how we feel that the Euro is headed lower due to overvaluation, the technical picture, and market positioning.  In light of that we thought that we would show the technical picture of the US Dollar index.

In the chart below you can see a chart of the US Dollar index all the way back to 1971.  In the lower panel we have plotted the distance from the 200-day sma shown as a percentage.  Not surprisingly the index rarely strays more than 10% away from the 200-day.  In fact since 1971 it has only gone above or below by 10% 11 times.  Since 1992 it has only breached the 10% level once back in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis. Right now we are close to the lower levels of a typical move.  Could it go lower?  Of course the answer is that yes it can, but if history is any guide we doubt that we have much lower to go before a decent sized bounce. (Click on chart twice to enlarge)

US Dollar Index


Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-In The Macro Trader newsletter we are currently short the EUR/USD

If you’re getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us and mentioning The Macro Trader to friends and co-workers. Here’s the link information for this article:
Title: Is It Time To Buy The US Dollar?

Is It Finally Time To Short The Euro?

We have been

Put hair It’s I’ve still bought noticed parabens me and up thing.

bearish on the EUR/USD for some time now. Some investors are convinced that the USD is going down forever and that the US is the next Zimbabwe. The reality is that while the United States has a ton of issues such as the huge and rapidly expanding deficit, the rest of the world is not exactly in great shape either.

One of the weaker areas of the world happens to be the European Union. They continue to have issues such as Spain and its almost 25% unemployment rate, the IMF estimate that EU banks have only written off 50% of their bad debt, and the potential for major defaults in Eastern European nations.

The timing for a short position is starting to look right. As you can see in the chart below on a purchasing power parity basis the Euro is 35% overvalued to the USD. In previous periods of over and undervaluation this is past the levels that are typically seen before a reversal of trend. (Click on chart twice to enlarge)



Another indicator that we follow is that of FX risk reversals. Risk reversals essentially show how option traders are positioned. A negative reading means that option traders expect a move lower and positive reading mean that they expect a move higher.

Typically we look for contrarian signals at the extremes, usually when the reading is very negative or positive the trade is crowded and the price goes in the opposite direction. This time however is a bit different as option traders are extremely bearish but the spot price has remained strong. Because of this we suspect that if the price breaks we could see a swift move lower.(Click on chart twice to enlarge)

EUR/USD 25R 3M Risk Reversal


Looking at the chart below of the Euro ETF you can see that the price has broken below its current trend line. In the lower panel you can also see that we also have had a momentum divergence during the last part of the advance.(Click on chart twice to enlarge)



All of these signs point to a lower Euro. We think that the timing is right to dip our toes in the water. If the trade starts to move in our favor we will be looking to add to it as it could move quite a bit lower due to how overcrowded the trade is, valuations, and the fact that the EU in our view is just as broken as the US.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-we are currently short the Euro in The Macro Trader newsletter.

If you’re getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us and mentioning The Macro Trader to friends and co-workers. Here’s the link information for this article:
Title: Is it Finally Time To Short The Euro?

Volatility Indexes, Risk Appetite, Mispriced Risk, And Where We Think We Are Headed

If over the past six months or so it has seemed as if you were partying like it was 1999 it might be time to reevaluate your stance.  One thing that we have been taking a closer look at lately is the pricing of risk.  Obviously when investors think that risks are low they will demonstrate risk seeking behavior.  We have seen this as the SP500 has climbed 56.6% from the March lows to the highs on 8/28/09.  With a rise like that you would think that 2008 never happened, of course if you believe that then you also believe  in a land of make believe with money trees, the fountain of youth, and SI models for all of us.

Of course some investors counter saying that while things could be better we are seeing the beginning of a recovery.  They then say that while the market will likely climb slower, that it will still climb higher.

While the above scenario is possible, anything is possible.  The more important question is to decide if the rewards outweigh the risk involved in being long equities right now.  Or even if at this point the better risk reward trade is to the downside.

Lets look at a few “risk gauges” or “fear indexes” as the press likes to call volatility indexes.  The first is of course the VIX.  After spiking to all time highs in October and November of 2008 we are already well on our way towards what was considered a “normal” level back in early 2008 before Bear Stearns.  The potential risks were obviously very mispriced at the beginning of 2008, are they mispriced again?  While likely not as off as they were at the beginning of 2008 we still think that there are a lot more real and potential risks then the market is currently pricing in. (Click on chart to enlarge)



What about foreign markets?  How do investors perceive the potential risks abroad?  Well if the VDAX is any gauge then investors see a rosy future in Europe as well.  Again maybe there are no big risks and maybe the EU is rock solid.  Then again maybe not.  With the complete lack of liquidity that businesses have had over the past several months in the EU it is really surprising that the VDAX is back to pre-crisis levels. (Click on chart to enlarge)

German DAX VIX


What about other asset classes?  What are investors saying about potential risks?  Using the MOVE Index which measures the range in which Treasury yields are expected to move over the next 12-months we can see that even here investors are becoming increasingly complacent.  What happened to the runaway inflation that we keep hearing is right around the corner?  Right now the market is saying that we will be in a 130 basis point range for the next 12-months. In The Macro Trader weekly newsletter we are long the TLT 20+ Year Treasury ETF and are expecting a bigger move then is currently implied via the MOVE index. (Click on chart to enlarge)

MOVE Index


Even in the currency markets we are seeing extreme complacency.  Apparently investors the world over are back to selling dollars in exchange for anything.  While the USD has its issues other currencies do to.  Right now the currency markets are not participating in the Keynes beauty pageant where you are trying to pick the girl that you think the judges will think is the beautiful.  No, with the current state of the global economy we are in the least ugly pig contest where we are only trying to find the least ugly.  That being said investors do not appear to see a lot of volatility any time soon. (Click on chart to enlarge)



Even the emerging market currency volatility index is showing complacency. What happened to the banking issues in Eastern Europe? Apparently they vanished, or at least that is what it seems as though the market is telling us.  (Click on chart to enlarge)

JPM Emerging Market FX VIX


Even commodities markets are pricing in realtively low risk. While the price history of the Crude Oil and Gold volatility indexes does not go back as far as we would like, you can get a feel for what is happening as both indexes are dropping at a very steady rate.  Do investors really think that volatility will stay that low?  What happened to the oil spike if demand comes back?  And what happens if gold breaks $1000 on fears of hyper inflation?  (Click on charts to enlarge)

Crude Oil VIX


Gold VIX


Another excellent tool to evaluate the blind risk taking happening right now in the stock market is the JunkDEX invented by Bill Luby over at VIX and More.  By taking an equal weighting of junk stocks AIG, FNM, C, CIT, and BAC you can see how crazy or composed investors are acting. While we have seen, and actually use, an index of high momentum stocks we had never thought of making an index that tracks junk stocks to gauge investors risk appetite.

As you can see in the chart of the JunkDEX below the junk led the market off the bottom and then lagged until the last month when the index shot up +157.36% in a little over a month.  While it has pulled back over the last two days we are still in awe that investors are dumb enough to buy this junk at these prices. (Click on chart to enlarge)

VIX and More JunkDEX* vs SP500


After looking at all of this we need to ask ourselves if the rewards outweigh the risk to stay long?  Or if we should be flat or short.  In case you have not guessed we currently think that the risk reward is pointing to the downside.

Looking at the QQQQ we have a setup with a solid risk to reward situation. As you can see in the chart below the QQQQ has rallied back to its 50% retracement level, its 200-week moving average, and its downtrend line extending from October 2007.  While it could of course rally higher we like the risk reward enough to have put on a modest short position in our weekly Macro Trader newsletter. (Click on chart to enlarge)



While not quite as nice of a setup as the NASDAQ 100, the SP500 also looks like a solid risk reward trade to the short side.  As you can see in the chart below of the SPY-SP500 ETF it has rallied up to the upper Bollinger Band and has already started to come back in.  We are looking for a move back to at least the $95-96 area. (Click on chart to enlarge)



Obviously anything can happen.  The market could go up every day for the next year, or it could go down every day, but our job as traders is to look for the best risk to reward scenarios that we can find and place trades on probable scenarios and right now we think the most likely scenario is for the market to at least have a pullback if not a correction back towards its 200-day moving average.  Of course if this happens we will see the volatility indexes tick upwards to more realistic levels given our current economic environment.

*Our JunkDEX differs a bit from the one you can see at VIX and More.  After looking into it we found that  we built the index by simulating a $1000 investment in the index and in the SPY and Bill built it by normalizing the index starting value so we have slightly different values.  But don’t worry as the chart looks essentially the same and shows the same investor insanity.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-In The Macro Trader newsletter as well as our accounts we are currently short some QQQQ-NASDAQ 100 ETF and long some TLT 20+ Year Treasury ETF.

If you’re getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us and mentioning The Macro Trader to friends and co-workers. Here’s the link information for this article:
Title: Volatility Indexes, Risk Appetite, Mispriced Risk, And Where We Think We Are Headed