Junk Spreads Are Talking

One group of indicators that we follow quite closely are yield spreads. They work as great risk indicators as well as economic indicators. In the case of junk spreads they tend to lead rather than coincide or lag the overall economy. One area where they really shine is at the darker end of the economy. As you can see in the chart below junk spreads tend to lead the initial unemployment claims by anywhere from two-five months. For the past four months junk spreads have been inching higher and higher as the economy has noticeably weakened. What does this mean? Well if the correlation holds up then we would expect initial claims to move higher. This would go along well with most of the indicators that we are seeing such as the various manufacturing indexes pointing lower, with the exception of the Chicago PMI, as most indicators whether economic or market are pointing to a weaker economy. (Click on chart to enlarge)

Junk Spreads and Initial Unemployment Claims

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-We are long US Treasuries and Gold.

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Gold Is A Currency Trade

So hopefully it is fairly obvious that we are in deflation or at least disinflation.  If that isn’t obvious enough then read our previous posts.  If nothing else you will see that it has been our view since at least June of 2009 is that we are in deflation.  That being said we are currently long gold.  Some of you might be thinking that we must be smoking crack, after all how can we be long gold if we dont see inflation anytime soon.  Because of the general perception that gold is an inflation trade we thought it would be useful to look at the current situation.

Currently the situation in Europe is pretty bad.  The EU is essentially in complete disarray as new problems seem to surface every couple of weeks.  Everyone but the EU knew that the PIIGS had problems but now Hungary, Belgium, and even France are coming up in the news as problem areas.   We are seeing currency issues, debt issues, liquidity issues, structural issues, etc.  The EU right now is like the Lindsay Lohan of regimes with all of its issues.  All of this adds up to what is the largest fear, a sovereign default.  If this were to happen, or when it happens we will see some major turmoil across all markets.

So what are investors doing right now?  The have been fleeing the Euro and Euro denominated assets.  No one wants EU based stocks, bonds, or the Euro.  As they leave the Euro they have been going into the US Dollar, US Treasuries, and into gold.  Yes, they are leaving the Euro to buy gold.  While investors across the world have been buying gold the trend has been especially obvious in the EU and its neighbors.  We can see this in the following charts.

Here is GLD the gold ETF.  As you can see it has been steadily moving higher but only recently started hitting new highs as it sold off back in December and took a long time to consolidate.



For real evidence that gold is going up on worries of a sovereign default we need to look at gold priced in Euros.  As you can see in the chart below gold in Euros consolidated but has barely even pulled back during the past year and has really accelerated to the upside over the last few months.

Gold in Euros


Being very tied to the mainland Europe, and having a weak economy as well many UK investors have also been buying gold to get out of Pounds.  While not quite the move of the Gold/EUR this has been a strong and steady move.

Gold in Pounds


Finally lets look at gold in Swiss Francs.  As you an see the trend has been pretty much the same with a steady move higher and very tight consolidation.  One thing worth noting with the Swiss Franc is that in a normal crisis investors would be taking their money out of their regular bank and putting it in Swiss banks.  This time around Switzerland gave up their role as the ultimate bank by giving away their client list to the I.R.S.  We think that Swiss Banks will be looking back and shaking their heads at that move.  This is not the only reason (the Swiss want a weak currency for example) for the relatively poor performance of the Swissy but it does not help, especially in the long term.

Gold in Swiss Francs


Comparing gold in US Dollars to gold in European currencies it is obvious that people want out of the Euro and see gold as a reasonable substitute.  Hopefully this helps answer why gold can be a good investment even if we are in a deflationary environment.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-We are long GLD

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Goldollar Index

One important indicator for gold is the Goldollar index.  The Goldollar index is formulated by taking the price of gold and multiply it by the US Dollar Index.  This has the effect of giving us the trend of the price of gold isolated from movements in the US Dollar.  As far as we know the Goldollar index was devised by the McClellans of McClellan Oscillator fame.  Just as the developers intended we use this index to help forecast and confirm what the price of gold is likely to do and what it is currently doing.  If the Goldollar index breaks out to the upside gold usually follows, and if it tanks then gold follow to the downside as well.  While it is not perfect it has definitely aided us in our trading.

So what is the Goldollar index showing us right now?  As you can see in the chart below the Goldollar index in the lower pane looks similar to the gold chart in the upper pane.  The main difference is that the Goldollar index has broken out from its consolidation and is right at its highs and gold is not.  While not the holy grail, and therefore sometimes wrong this would indicate to us that in the relatively near future gold will be moving higher. (Click on chart to enlarge)

Gold and Goldollar Index


Disclaimer-currently hold no position in gold but that is likely to change soon

Happy Trading,

Take a $1 trial of The Macro Trader to receive unbiased actionable research.

Gold and TIPS Diverging

Since the Match 2009 bottom many correlations have held extremely well.  We covered one in a previous post titled “US Dollar Correlation Breaking Down” and other ones here.  We can now add one more broken correlation to the mix.  TIPS and GOLD have been trading very much inline with each other over the last nine months or so.  The primary reason for the correlation is that since they are both seen as inflation hedges they should trade together.

As you can see in the chart below gold and TIPS have trade very much in line for most of the last nine months.  Over the past two weeks however the two instruments have diverged with TIPS going higher and gold going lower. 



So the big questions are why are these diverging and how can we make money from it.  You irst have to decide if you think inflation is going up or down and if you think TIPS and Gold are good inflation hedges.  If gold is a good hedge and you think that inflation is going to increase then you would want to be a buyer of gold.  If you think that inflation is set to decrease or that inflation expectations are overdone then you would likely want to short TIPS.  The other main way to trade this is to bet on a convergence and a return to correlation.  To take advantage of this you could buy gold and short TIPS.

Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-No positions in the securities mentioned.

One Question, One Sentence Answer, and One Chart

Why are bonds going up at the same time that gold is climbing? Real yields are the highest that they have been since the late 1980’s and the third highest in the last 100 years, investors expecting slow to negative inflation and growth are buying and will keep buying as they grasp for yield. (click on chart to enlarge)

10-Year T-Note Real Yield


Why has the SP500 continued higher even when earnings have been weak and unsustainable and demand has been virtually non-existent? There are several contributing factors such as the oversold condition, sentiment, etc. but our favorite one is that the Government is debasing our currency and in the process it is driving asset prices but not their actual values higher, if your investment in the SP500 is up but the actual value of your dollar is equally low then have you actually made any money? (click on chart to enlarge)

SP500 and US Dollar Index


If we are in a deflationary environment then why is gold climbing higher? No one wants to hold the US Dollar so instead of being a inflation/deflation play the current move of gold is based more on the devaluation of the US Dollar than anything else-It’s a currency trade. (click on chart to enlarge)

GLD-Gold ETF and US Dollar Index


If housing is cheap, interest rates are low, and everyone wants to trade their US Dollars for other assets than why aren’t housing sales going through the roof? While your mortgage broker may be calling and saying that rates are at or close to all time lows the reality is that real rates are at their highest levels since 1987, cheap money my #%$. (click on chart to enlarge)

Real 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates


If demand is so weak than why has oil been so strong? Once again it gets back to not wanting to hold US Dollars, when the USD bounces oil will likely get hit hard. (click on chart to enlarge)

West Texas Crude Oil and US Dollar Index


Happy Trading,

Disclaimer-We are long some

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Title: One Question, One Sentence, and One Chart Answers