Gold and Treasury yields decline as inflation weakens

US inflation. Core CPI is hovering below 2.0 percent but the 5-year inflation breakeven (5-year Treasury yield minus TIPS yield) suggests that inflation will fall. The recent slow-down in average hourly manufacturing earnings growth (production and non-supervisory employees) may just be statistical noise, but decline of either of these signals below 1.0% p.a. would be cause for concern.

5 Year Inflation Breakeven

Treasury yields remain weak, with the 10-year yield testing support between 1.85 and 2.0 percent.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index continues to range between 93 and 98. Falling inflation would favor an upward breakout. But flight to safety could drive the Dollar up (and yields downward). The biggest factor that may the Dollar down (and yields up), however, would be a Chinese sell-off of foreign reserves (largely Treasury investments) — to support the Yuan and/or stimulate their economy.

Dollar Index

Spot gold is likely to test primary support between $1080 and $1100 per ounce. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, with peaks below zero, signals a strong down-trend. Breach of primary support would offer a target of $1000/ounce*.

Spot Gold

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

Sen. John McCain on Russia’s airstrikes in Syria

Shades of Churchill in 1938:

Winston Churchill, denouncing the Munich Agreement in the House of Commons, declared:

“We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat … you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude … we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road … we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting”. And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

On 3 October 1938, Churchill added:

“England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame, and will get war.”

Japan abandons Fed-style inflation targeting and targets GDP growth instead

Scott Sumner quotes Marcus Nunes:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on Thursday to raise gross domestic product by nearly a quarter to 600 trillion Japanese yen ($5 trillion), pledging to refocus on the economy after the passage of controversial security bills that eroded his popularity. Abe unveiled the plan at a news conference marking his election to a second three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader and hence, premier. Abe stopped short, however, of setting a timeframe for the new GDP target, which could raise doubts about the goal.

System-based rules targeting (nominal) GDP growth are likely to deliver more stable and consistent economic performance than the discretionary monetary policy followed by the Fed. No matter how smart the people on the FOMC, they are reacting to imperfect data in a complex world. Many decisions, in hindsight, prove to be late. Sometimes with disastrous consequences.

For a detailed discussion, see Marcus Nunes: The “Rules debate” once again.

Read more at Japan adopts an NGDP target, Scott Sumner | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Gold: No flight to safety

US inflation remains subdued with core CPI hovering below 2.0 percent.

Core CPI

Treasury yields remain weak, with the 10-year yield testing support between 1.85 and 2.0 percent.

10-Year Treasury Yields

That gives a real yield, after deducting core CPI, of close to zero on a 10-year investment.

10-Year Treasury Yield minus Core CPI

Abraham Maslow wrote in the 1960s: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” His description certainly applies to the Fed who have used monetary policy extensively to fix a problem for which it was not intended. Interest rates were driven down to unsustainable levels, with questionable results. My concern is that maintaining rates close to zero for close to seven years could breed a host of unforeseen problems.

What is really needed is a Keynesian solution: government investment in productive infrastructure. But neither party is likely to succeed in winning approval for this.

The Dollar Index is ranging between 93 and 98. Increased interest rates or falling inflation would suggest an upward breakout. Flight to safety would drive yields downward. But the biggest factor that may drive up yields could be a Chinese sell-off of foreign reserves (largely Treasury investments) in order to support the Yuan or spend on infrastructure to revive their economy.

Dollar Index

There is no flight to the safety of gold as yet. The Gold Bugs Index, representing un-hedged gold miners, is testing primary support at 105. Twiggs Momentum (13 week) peaks below zero indicate a strong down-trend.

Gold Bugs Index

Spot gold fared a little better, but is likely to test primary support at $1080 per ounce. Again, declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum, with peaks below zero, signals a strong down-trend. Breach of support at $1080 would offer a target of $1000/ounce*.

Spot Gold

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

Crude at $30 per barrel?

Crude futures (Light Crude November 2015 – CLX2015) are testing short-term support at $44 per barrel. Breach is likely and would indicate another test of the recent low at $38.50. Failure of that level would offer a (long-term) target of $30*. Recovery above the descending trendline and resistance at $52 per barrel is unlikely, but would suggest that a bottom is forming.

WTI Light Crude November 2015 Futures

* Target calculation: 40 – ( 50 – 40 ) = 30

Deflation supercycle is over as world runs out of workers | Telegraph

….The world fertility rate has steadily declined to 2.43 births per woman from 4.85 in 1970 , with a precipitous collapse over the past 20 years in east Asia.

The latest estimates are: India (2.5), France (2.1), US (2.0), UK (1.9), Brazil (1.8), Russia and Canada (1.6), China (1.55), Spain (1.5) Germany, Italy, and Japan (1.4), Poland (1.3) Korea (1.25), and Singapore (0.8). As a rule of thumb, it takes 2.1 to keep the population on an even keel.

Read more at Deflation supercycle is over as world runs out of workers – Telegraph

Australia: Latest SMSF statistics | FINSIA

Key statistics to have come from the ATO’s latest quarterly SMSF report include:

  • The total number of SMSFs increased by 30,723 from 526,275 to 556,998.
  • The total number of SMSF members increased by 58,219 from 991,621 to breach the one million mark at 1,049,840.
  • The total value of SMSF assets decreased from $600,276 million to $589,911 million.
  • Total borrowings increased from $13,328 million to $13,496 million.
  • Total other liabilities increased from $4,556 million to $4,613 million.
  • Total net assets decreased from $582,392 million to $571,802 million.

Source: SMSFs prefer cash despite falling rates

Why Europe Failed

Dr Oliver Hartwich of The New Zealand Initiative discusses his new book, Why Europe Failed.

Over the past years, we have become used to Europe’s debt crisis. However, the fiscal problems of countries such as Greece are only the tip of the iceberg. Europe’s crisis has much deeper roots. Here, Dr Hartwich explains the causes of Europe’s decline.

Not much wrong with the US economy

Profit margins in the US are contracting, with the second quarter showing a 6.0% decine in profit per unit of real gross value added (Nonfinancial). Contraction of greater than 10% would be cause for concern, but we need to dig a little deeper.

Declining US Profit Per Unit of Real Gross Value Added (Nonfinancial)

Earnings per share for the S&P 500 Index declined for the last two quarters and is projected to decline for the next two quarters as well (Q2 which is 98.6% complete and Q3 2015).

S&P 500 Earnings Per Share

The sharp fall in index earnings is primarily caused by losses in the Energy sector. Other sectors are reasonably healthy.

S&P 500 Energy Sector - Earnings Per Share

Another cause for concern is bellwether transport stock Fedex. Commencement of a primary down-trend normally warns that economic activity is contracting. Freight revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter increased by only 1%, while ground revenue increased by 19%. Slower earnings growth due to a lag in fuel surcharges and integration challenges with the acquisition of TNT may both be weighing on the stock.


The Freight Transportation Services Index, however, has turned upwards.

Freight Transportation Services Index

And the LoDI Index continues to climb.

LoDI Index

The LoDI Index uses linear regression analysis to combine cargo volume data from rail, barge, air, and truck transit, along with various economic factors. The resulting indicator is designed to predict upcoming changes in the level of logistics and distribution activity in the US and is represented by a value between 1 and 100. An index at or above 50 represents a healthy level of activity in the industry.

Spending on durables remains promising, with light motor vehicle sales rising.

Light Motor Vehicle Sales

And construction spending (adjusted for core CPI) climbing steeply.

Construction Spending

The ISM Manufacturing PMI Composite Index remains above 50, indicating expansion, but is softer than it has been for a while.

ISM Manufacturing: PMI Composite Index

The Leading Index from the Philadelphia Fed, however, at a healthy 1.57%, continues to project a healthy economic outlook.

Philadelphia Fed Leading Index

Despite the falling Fedex stock price and softer PMI, there does not appear to be much wrong with the US economy. The positives outweigh the negatives. Analysts’ optimism about an fourth quarter upturn may be a little premature, but does not appear far off-track.

NYSE short sales easing

NYSE short sales and daily volume are trending lower, suggesting that selling pressure is fading.

NYSE Daily Volume & Short Sales

Gold: The next leg down

Spot Gold respected resistance at $1180/ounce and is headed for another test of support at $1080. Declining 13-week Twiggs Momentum with peaks below zero confirms a strong primary down-trend. Breach of support at $1080 would offer a target of $1000/ounce*.

Spot Gold

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

Barrick Gold, one of the largest global gold producers, has already broken support at $6.50, signaling another decline (with a target of $4.50).

Barrick Gold

The Gold-Oil ratio remains in overbought territory above 20, suggesting continuation of the bear market for gold.

Gold-Oil ratio

Long-term crude prices have resumed their fall, with June 2017 (CLM2017) futures headed for another test of support at $48/barrel after a bear rally respected the descending trendline. If long-term crude prices break support at $48, gold is not likely to hold above $1000/ounce.

WTI Light Crude June 2017 Futures

Marcus Miller & Eric Clapton

…with David Sanborn on saxophone.

S&P 500: Market risk remains elevated

NYSE daily volume and short sales declined Thursday & Friday, indicating selling pressure is easing.

NYSE Daily Volume & Short Sales

There is no sign yet on the daily chart, however, with 21-day Twiggs Money Flow respecting the zero line from below. Breach of support at 1900 would warn of another decline. Follow-through below 1870 would confirm. Recovery above 2000 is unlikely at present, but would suggest that the correction is over.

S&P 500

Daily VIX indicates market risk remains elevated.


The market is closed Monday 7th for Labor Day.

NYSE short selling rises

NYSE short sales and daily volume dipped slightly on Wednesday but remain elevated, warning of selling pressure.

NYSE Daily Volume & Short Sales

If we don’t understand both sides of China’s balance sheet, we understand neither | Michael Pettis

From Michael Pettis’ OpEd in the Wall St Journal:

History suggests that developing countries that have experienced growth “miracles” tend to develop risky financial systems and unstable national balance sheets. The longer the miracle, the greater the tendency. That’s because in periods of rapid growth, riskier institutions do well. Soon balance sheets across the economy incorporate similar types of risk.

….Over time, this means the entire financial system is built around the same set of optimistic expectations. But when growth slows, balance sheets that did well during expansionary phases will now systematically fall short of expectations, and their disappointing performance will further reinforce the economic deceleration. This is when it suddenly becomes costlier to refinance the gap, and the practice of mismatching assets and liabilities causes debt, not profits, to rise.

Read more at If we don’t understand both sides of China’s balance sheet, we understand neither | Michael Pettis’ CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

Volatile crude

Crude prices rallied sharply in the last few days, boosted by downward revision of US oil output and hints that OPEC may consider production cuts. October 2015 futures (Nymex Light Crude – CLV2015) tested resistance at $50/barrel before falling just as steeply on weak manufacturing data out of China.

Nymex WTI Light Crude October 2015 Futures

Expect another test of support at $38/barrel. Breach of support would offer a target of $26/barrel*.

*Target: 38 – ( 50 – 38 ) = 26

NYSE Short Sales

NYSE short sales and daily volume are only published 24 hours after the close of trade, but are still a useful indication of where the market is headed. Short sales over 500 million on Monday, remain elevated. Keep an eye out for any increase above 600 million this week — which would warn of rising selling pressure and a likely breach of support.

NYSE Daily Volume & Short Sales