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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Charts That Make You Go Hmm…

10-Yr Swap Spreads hit their lowest level since 1988 on 3/9/10 hitting 3.25.  How many more days until they go negative? (Click on chart to enlarge)

10-Yr Swap Spread


Go short Treasuries, its the most obvious trade ever right?  While they might go up or down the MOVE Index continues to forecast less and less volatility, which at least to us indicates that the market is not expecting yields to change a whole lot anytime soon. (Click on chart to enlarge)

MOVE Index


Not sure if Chanos is right on China being in a huge bubble, but looking at the chart it appears as though at least a few investors are less than bullish. (Click on chart to enlarge)



We just crossed the one year anniversary of the current rally/bull market the other day.  Over that time on a weekly closing basis the SP500 is up over 66%.  This has been the largest one year rally in over 60 years.  We are starting to hedge our long exposure as we are currently cautiously bullish. (Click on chart to enlarge)

SP500 1-Yr Rolling Returns


Back in December we shorted the Euro on the basis of the EU being weak, overvalued, and sentiment becoming far too one sided.  In these pages we also looked at buying the USD on a technical basis. Looking at the USD and T-Bills however shows another reason for the USD rally. (Click on chart to enlarge)

US Dollar and T-Bill Yield


Happy Trading,

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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.

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Title: US Dollar Correlations Breaking Down

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

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: One Question, One Sentence, and One Chart Answers