India: Sensex advance

India will also benefit from lower oil prices. The BSE Sensex broke resistance at 29000, signaling a primary advance to 31000*. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow troughs above zero signal strong, long-term buying pressure. Retracement to test the new support level at 29000 is a possibility, but breach of support is unlikely.

Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 27000 ) = 31000

Gold resurgent despite stronger Dollar

The Fed has signaled a “patient approach” to raising interest rates, causing long-term yields to fall. Ten-year Treasury Note yields broke primary support at 2.00%, signaling another test of the 2012 low at 1.40%. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum below zero confirms continuation of the down-trend. Recovery above 2.00% is unlikely, but would warn that the down-trend of the last 12 months is ending.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index is headed for a test of long-term resistance at 100. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum signals a strong (primary) up-trend. Retracement to test support at 90 remains a possibility, but the likelihood of reversal below this level is remote.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 90 + ( 90 – 80 ) = 100

Gold

Despite the rising Dollar, Gold continues to test resistance at $1300/ounce. Breakout would signal a rally to $1400/ounce, but trend reversal is unlikely. Retreat below $1200 would confirm a long-term target of $1000*.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

The Gold Bugs Index, representing un-hedged gold stocks, displays a similar picture. Breakout above 200 would signal a rally to test the declining trendline around 250, but reversal of the primary down-trend is unlikely.

Gold Bugs Index

Crude still has further to fall

West Texas Crude has been falling since breaking support at $75/barrel, following through below $50/barrel. A test of 2009 lows at $30/barrel is likely unless there is major disruption to supply.

WTI Crude Monthly

When we adjust crude prices for inflation, they remain high by historical standards. Prior to the China boom of the early 2000s, the ratio of WTI Crude to CPI had seldom ventured above $20/barrel when measured in 1982-1984 dollars (shown as 0.2 on the chart below). After the dramatic fall of the last 3 months, the adjusted price at the end of December 2014 (in 1982-1984 dollars) is still $25.20/barrel (0.252 on the chart) — well above the former high.

WTI Crude adjusted for inflation

Russia terror alert | Kyiv Post

Kyiv Post quotes Markian Lubkivskyi, an adviser to SBU head Valentyn Nailyvaichenko on the rise of terrorism outside of Eastern Ukraine:

“(Terrorists) are aiming to undermine Ukraine from within,” Lubkivskyi told the Kyiv Post, adding that terrorism is one of Russia’s tools in the war against Ukraine. “This is definitely a planned set of linked actions carried out to demoralize people, scare them, spread chaos and create protest moods.”

One of the latest incidents occurred on Jan. 20, when a bridge near the village of Kuznetsivka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast collapsed under a cargo train that was carrying iron ore to Volnovakha in Donetsk Oblast. As a result, 10 cars derailed.

This was the fourth railway explosion over the last two months.

In January, three fuel tanks on a freight train were set on fire at the Shebelynka station in Kharkiv Oblast, and a bomb blew up a freight tank with petrochemicals at the Odesa-Peresyp railway station. On Dec. 24, explosives hidden under the railways hit a train at the Zastava 1 railway station, also based in Odesa.

Odesa has become the main target of attacks in the last two months.

The word terrorism is widely misused. What we are dealing with is state-sponsored terrorism or war by proxy. Without state sponsorship — in the form of training, weapons, logistics and financial support — most terrorist organizations would shrivel up and die. The level of proxy warfare increased hugely since World War II, when direct confrontation between major powers became dangerous because of the advent of nuclear weapons. Instead of direct confrontation these powers resorted to deniable aggression, by proxy, in order to weaken their enemies. The former Soviet Union was a major sponsor of proxy wars, from Korea and Vietnam to support for guerrilla wars elsewhere in Asia, Africa and South America. It appears that Vladimir Putin has adopted a similar strategy and is expanding its use into Eastern Europe.

It is difficult to win a guerrilla war where there are few conventional battles. The lesson from Vietnam is that you can win every battle, but still lose the war. Far better to identify and attack the sponsor through unconventional (asymmetric) means such as sanctions. Make sure that the cost outweighs the benefits of proxy warfare.

When we read the word “terrorism” in popular media, our first question should be: who is the sponsor and how can we make them desist?

Read more at Russia terror alert.

Gold is rising despite a strong Dollar

Gold is strengthening despite falling oil prices and the rising Dollar.

The Dollar Index is advancing toward a long-term target of 100 after breaking resistance at 90 in December.
Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 90 + ( 90 – 80 ) = 100

Spot gold is testing resistance at $1300/ounce after breaking through $1250. Expect a rally to test resistance at $1400, but a change in the primary trend is unlikely. Reversal below $1200 would warn of a decline to $1000*.
Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

The most likely explanation for gold strength is the prospect of significant quantitative easing by the European Central Bank. Mario Draghi has called on the ECB to purchase € 50 billion of securities per month until December 2016 according to Bloomberg. With Japan and China already following the path of monetary expansion, concerns over the potential for a “currency war” are growing.

Robert Wright: Progress is not a zero-sum game [video]

Thought-provoking presentation by Robert Wright, best-selling author of Nonzero, The Moral Animal and The Evolution of God. Progress is not a zero-sum game — the network of linked fortunes and cooperation that has guided our evolution to this point can help us save humanity today.

Some thoughts:

Terrorism is a negative-sum game. The perpetrators commit atrocities to protest their sub-human treatment. The atrocities convince by-standers that these people are sub-human and deserve to be treated as such.

Non-violent protest is a testament to the moral/intellectual leadership of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi. Stoic acceptance of violence without retaliation convinces observers that the protestors are not sub-human and do not deserve such treatment.

China: Will history repeat itself?

China’s Shanghai Composite retreated from resistance at 3400, but this is a long way from signaling a down-trend.
Shanghai Composite Index

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has shown much stronger gains over the last 3 years, but diverged in the second half of 2014, falling while the Shanghai Composite soared. Breach of support at 22500, and the rising trendline, would warn of a primary down-trend.
Hang Seng Index

This opinion by Andrew Sheng highlights some of the challenges facing the Middle Kingdom:

It is hard to find earlier examples of economies which experienced similar growth spurts to that enjoyed by China over the last decade. The closest are probably the US in the 1920s and Japan in the 1980s. Both of these should serve as a warning that times of rapid growth can generate vast imbalances within an economy that inevitably lead to periods of painful adjustment.

Corporate profits and employee compensation

Employee compensation as a percentage of net value added by nonfinancial corporations has been falling since its Dotcom peak in 2000 and is now approaching lows last witnessed in the 1960s. Both rising productivity, through technological advances, and offshoring of blue-collar jobs have contributed to the fall.

Net Value Added: Employee Compensation & Corporate Profits

Corporate profits (as a percentage of net value added by nonfinancial corporations) have shown a corresponding rise for the same period, demonstrating an inverse relationship over the last half-century. Rises and falls in both employment costs and corporate profits (as a percentage of net value added) are most likely attributable to fluctuations in output per employee (productivity) rather than fluctuating wage rates.

The question is: are rises in corporate profits and corresponding falls in employee compensation, as a percentage of net value added, sustainable? Is this time different, or are we likely to witness a peak followed by a sharp fall as in the 1960s? Productivity improvements through offshoring jobs are likely to continue for as long as the Dollar remains strong relative to Asian exporters. In other words, a very long time. Technological advances such as automation may also reduce employment costs per unit of output. But there is no clear answer as to how far profit margins will be eroded by increased competition from Europe and Asia. All we can do is monitor the relationship between employee compensation and net value added for nonfinancial corporations for clues. So far, there is no indication that the decline is reversing.

Health Care (Australia)

A chart of Australia’s ASX 200 Health Care [XHJ], compared to Financials-x-Property [XXJ] and the overall index [XJO] over the last 15 years, shows that outperformance of the Health Care sector is not just a recent occurrence.

ASX 200 Health Care

The sector also proved resilient during the GFC.

Health Care

One of the top-performing sectors, both in the US and Australia, is Health Care.

DJUS Health Care

The strength of a momentum strategy is the ability to identify and concentrate investment in outperforming sectors like this. Our S&P 500 Momentum strategy is overweight (40%) in this sector, with investments in Pharmaceuticals, Health Care Supplies and Biotechnology stocks.

Gold finds support at $1200

Spot gold recovered above the former primary support level at $1200/ounce despite low inflation and the stronger Dollar. I would attribute demand to rising uncertainty in the global economy, with falling oil prices, political turmoil in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and the potential for a currency war with competing currency debasement (QE) between Japan, China and the EU.

Spot Gold

Bullish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Momentum suggests a recovery. Breakout above $1250 would indicate a rally to $1400. But reversal below $1200 remains as likely and would warn of a decline to $1000. Respect of the TMO zero line (from below) would strengthen the bear signal.

Dollar rises as yields fall

Flight to safety is driving demand for the Dollar, with the Dollar Index breaking resistance at 90 to signal a long-term up-trend.

Dollar Index

Long-term Treasury yields are falling in response to a lower inflation outlook. But foreign Treasury purchases may also be a contributing factor, with China seeking to protect its advantage in export markets.

10-Year Treasury Yields

Expect strong support at 1.40 to 1.50 percent. Yields are unlikely to fall below that level unless there is a serious risk of deflation. Recovery above 3.0 percent appears some way off, but would warn that the 30-year secular bull market in bonds is coming to an end.

Great golf swings: Adam Scott

Adam Scott, 2007. 3-Wood off the tee at St Jude.

Note how Adam anchors the left side of his body. I don’t agree that his down-swing starts with his hips. Watch his right shoulder.

Gold and Inflation

The Dollar Index is testing long-term highs at 90. Breakout is likely and would suggest a strong bull trend.

Dollar Index

One reason is falling inflation expectations, with the Breakeven Rate (5-year Treasury yield minus equivalent TIPS yield) testing its 5-year low. Further falls would increase pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates.

Breakeven Rate

A strong Dollar and low inflation both weaken gold prices. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, below zero, suggests a strong down-trend. Follow-through below $1180/ounce would confirm this.

ASX 200 daily

Markets back on track

Threat of a Russian collapse roiled markets in early December, but the immediate crisis now seems to have passed.

Recovery of the S&P 500 above resistance at 2080 would indicate another advance , with a target of 2150*. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow troughs indicate long-term buying pressure. Reversal below 2000 is most unlikely.

S&P 500 Index

* Target calculation: 2000 + ( 2000 – 1850 ) = 2150

A 10-year view of CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) suggests low to moderate risk typical of a bull market.

S&P 500 VIX

My favorite bellwether, transport stock Fedex, also underwent a correction. The long tail suggests buying pressure and breakout above the recent high would confirm a strong bull trend, indicating rising economic activity.

Fedex

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 found support at 3000 and is likely to test 3300. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates buying pressure, but the index is likely to continue ranging between these two levels until tensions between Russia and Eastern Europe are resolved.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50

China’s Shanghai Composite Index is in a strong bull trend, having broken resistance at 2500, and is likely to test the 2009 high at 3500. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates strong (medium-term) buying pressure.

Shanghai Composite Index

I continue to question China’s ability to sustain this performance, given their poor economic foundation.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index breakout above its 2007 high of 18000 would signal an advance to 19000*. Rising 13-Week Twiggs Money Flow indicates strong buying pressure. Index gains are largely attributable to rising inflation and a weaker yen.

Nikkei 225 Index

* Target calculation: 18000 + ( 18000 – 17000 ) = 19000

India’s Sensex found support at 27000. Recovery above 28000 would suggest another advance. Breakout above 29000 would confirm a target of 31000*.

Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 27000 ) = 31000

ASX 200 performance remains weak. Breach of the recent descending trendline suggests that the correction is over, but only breakout above 5550 would complete a double-bottom formation, suggesting a fresh advance. Rising troughs on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicate medium-term buying pressure. Reversal of TMF below zero, or breach of support at 5000/5150, is now less likely, but would warn of a down-trend.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 5500 + ( 5500 – 5000 ) = 6000

Stille Nacht / Silent Night

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of a momentous day during the First World War. By December of 1914 the war had already drawn to a stalemate with huge loss of life on both sides and appalling conditions in the trenches. Many of the dead could not be retrieved and were abandoned in No-Man’s land. The war that was supposed to be over by Christmas stretched interminably ahead.

Temperatures fell below freezing and snow began to fall on some parts of the line. German troops decorated the parapets of their trenches with small conifers, resembling Christmas trees. On Christmas Eve they lit candles and sang carols.

The Germans lit candles and in beautiful harmony sang “Silent night…Holy night.” So moved by their cheer, the British soldiers responded with carols of their own. This goodwill inspired many soldiers on both sides to toss gifts of food over into their enemy trenches. The German side applauded the British singing then the Brits cheered and applauded the Germans. One miracle act of goodness led to another, then another….. [1]

Informal truces were negotiated by officers despite warnings from British High Command that the enemy may be planning an attack.

WWI Christmas Truce: German and British Officers

Some of the more adventurous on both sides left their trenches and exchanged small gifts, swapping chocolate for sauerkraut and sausages.

“What a sight; little groups of Germans and British extending along the length of our front. Out of the darkness we could hear the laughter and see lighted matches. Where they couldn’t talk the language, they made themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely. Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill ”
~ Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders.[2]

WWI Christmas Truce: German and British Troops

Christmas Day started with unarmed German and British soldiers collecting their dead from No-Man’s Land.

WWI No-Man's Land: Collecting the Dead

Fraternization continued throughout Christmas Day and the informal truce extended in some parts of the line until after New Year’s day. Regimental records of the 133rd Saxon Regiment report a football match against the British which the Saxons won 3-2.

Roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in the unofficial cessation of hostilities. Similar exchanges were reported between German and French troops. On the Eastern front, an unofficial ceasefire was recorded between Austrian and Russian troops the following Easter.

Overtures in later years were less successful after Allied Command ordered artillery barrages to discourage communication. Attempts at fraternisation with the enemy and negotiation of local truces to collect the dead between the lines faced severe punishment.

Company commander, Sir Iain Colquhoun of the Scots Guards, was court-martialled for defying standing orders to the contrary. While found guilty and reprimanded, the punishment was later annulled by General Haig and Colquhoun remained in his position.[3]

The Christmas truce of 1914 was a triumph of the human spirit over adversity and is a symbol of man’s humanity towards his fellow man. When we recognize that the enemy is not some faceless devil, as some leaders would have us believe, but much like us — with mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters — we will find it easier to resolve our differences without waging war.

Scène du film “Joyeux Noël” (Version Française)

Wishing you peace and goodwill over the Christmas season and prosperity in the year ahead.

Thanks to:
[1] http://professortaboo.wordpress.com/tag/1914-christmas-truce/
[2] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/christmas_1914_and_world_wa.htm
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce

Apologies for my absence

Apologies for my absence over the last week. My computer was damaged during a thunderstorm. Even though I unplugged and powered off, it was dead as a dodo when I tried to turn it back on. Backups are only as good as the recovery software unfortunately (in future I will take mirror images of my hard disk), so I am going through the tiresome process of setting everything up manually.

Regards, Colin

Murray has endorsed macroprudential | Macrobusiness.com.au

Posted by Houses and Holes
At 12:52pm on December 8, 2014
Published with permission from Macrobusiness.com.au.

From Callam Pickering:

The one glaring problem with the Financial System Inquiry is that it didn’t push hard for the introduction of macroprudential policies. That takes the heat off both the RBA and APRA.

The truth is that higher capital requirements — combined with higher risk weighting on mortgages and tax reform — would have a similar (potentially larger) effect as macroprudential policies. In the long term financial system and tax reform is clearly the better approach to creating an efficient and sustainable housing and financial sector, but these reforms will take longer to implement.

That’s right. Murray’s principle recommendations are macroprudential. APRA is now free (and is being urged) to implement higher capital requirements. They do not require anything from government to go ahead. This is basically the model of MP envisaged by Prof Ross Garnaut.

A more interesting question is whether or not APRA will still act on specific areas of risk such as interest-only loans. These are a menace, as the US bust showed, and are surging. Murray did not mention them, being too granular, but said the following on MP more particularly:

The global financial crisis (GFC) prompted policy makers and regulators around the world to reconsider their approach to maintaining financial stability. Some countries at the epicentre of the crisis have since expanded their prudential perimeters and adopted more formal and centralised institutional arrangements. This includes establishing single entities with responsibility for macro-prudential regulation. Australia has long adopted what could be called a ‘macro-prudential’ approach to supervision under the rubric of financial stability. Yet, Australia’s institutional structure is relatively informal and decentralised. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and APRA each have responsibility for financial stability. However, most macro-prudential tools can only be deployed by APRA. This places a strong premium on cooperation between the two agencies.

Against the background of developments overseas, the Inquiry has considered whether Australia should change its institutional arrangements for making and implementing financial stability policy.

However, the Inquiry does not see a strong case for change in this area. Although approach has advantages and disadvantages, alternative institutional approaches are yet to be tested — as indeed is the effectiveness of many macro-prudential tools. For this reason, the Inquiry recommends no fundamental change to the current institutional arrangements for financial stability policy and no change to the prudential perimeter at this time.

That is neither here nor there and APRA will still be free to raise capital requirements for specific loans if it sees fit.