Intent as the enemy of truth | On Line Opinion

From Jennifer Marohasy:

When all 1,655 maximum temperature series for Australia are simply combined, and truncated to begin in 1910 the hottest years are 1980, 1914, 1919, 1915 and 1940.

…..Considering land temperature across Australia, 1914 was almost certainly the hottest year across southern Australia, and 1915 the hottest across northern Australia – or at least north-east Australia. But recent years come awfully close – because there has been an overall strong warming trend since at least 1960, albeit nothing catastrophic.

……there is compelling evidence that the Bureau of Meteorology remodels historical temperature data until it conforms to the human-caused global warming paradigm.

I would like to see more open debate around this issue rather than the typical “trust me I’m an expert” or “the science is settled” response.

Source: Intent as the enemy of truth – On Line Opinion – 9/1/2017

Is Globalization to Blame? | Boston Review

From Dean Baker:

Among the many myths about globalization, the worst is that the loss of large numbers of manufacturing jobs in the United States (and Europe) was inevitable…..

Globalization need not have taken the course it did. There was nothing inevitable about large U.S. trade deficits, which peaked at almost 6 percent of GDP in 2005 and 2006 (roughly $1.1 trillion annually in today’s economy). And there was nothing inevitable about the patterns of trade that resulted in such an imbalance. Policy decisions—not God, nature, or the invisible hand—exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected…….

Source: Is Globalization to Blame? | Boston Review

Peggy Noonan | ‘Everybody’s Been Shot’

Wonderful column from Peggy Noonan:

There’s a small but telling scene in Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” that contains some dialogue that reverberates, at least for me. In the spirit of Samuel Johnson, who said man needs more often to be reminded than instructed, I offer it to all, including myself, who might benefit from its message.

The movie, as you know, is about the Battle of the Bakara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. In the scene, the actor Tom Sizemore, playing your basic tough-guy U.S. Army Ranger colonel, is in charge of a small convoy of humvees trying to make its way back to base under heavy gun and rocket fire. The colonel stops the convoy, takes in some wounded, tears a dead driver out of a driver’s seat, and barks at a bleeding sergeant who’s standing in shock nearby:

Colonel: Get into that truck and drive.
Sergeant: But I’m shot, Colonel.
Colonel: Everybody’s shot, get in and drive.

“Everybody’s shot.” Those are great metaphoric words.

Let me tell you how they seem to apply metaphorically. An hour before I saw the movie, I was with friends at lunch, and they filled me in on the latest doings in our beloved country while I was away. Cornel West is very, very angry at Larry Summers for suggesting that Prof. West shouldn’t essentially perp-walk his way through the halls of academe. A Secret Service agent—a presidential Secret Service agent!—had a hissy fit when an airline pilot refused to let him board a plane carrying his gun with dubious paperwork. The agent is not only threatening a lawsuit, he says he doesn’t want money when he wins. He wants the airline to be forced to give sensitivity training. I thought: I think someone needs sensitivity training all right, but I don’t think it’s the airline.

Just after the movie, I picked up Ellis Cose’s latest book, “The Envy of the World,” about the “daunting challenges” that face black men in 21st-century America. I read and thought, Earth to Ellis: Everyone faces daunting challenges in 21st-century America.

Because everybody’s been shot.

What does that mean? It means something we used to know. It means everyone has it hard, everyone takes hits, everyone’s been fragged, everyone gets tagged, life isn’t easy for anyone…..

Source: Peggy Noonan | ‘Everybody’s Been Shot’

Calvin and Hobbes: The problem with the future….

Best time to short commodities since 2012

From Vesna Poljak:

….China’s stimulus is finite and demand for raw materials will collapse without it.

Australian Atul Lele, the Bahamas-based chief investment officer of private wealth manager Deltec, says all monetary and fiscal stimulus has a natural conclusion – “it just ends” – and traditional indicators of commodity prices such as global growth and liquidity conditions have been outrun by prices already.

“Right now, commodity prices are consistent with 8 per cent global industrial production. If we saw that, ex of the financial crisis recovery, it would be the strongest rate of global industrial production growth since 1981, at least. Now I’m bullish global growth and more bullish than most people, but it’s not going to happen and even if it does happen, all you’ve done is justify current commodity prices. So why would you buy a resource stock now?”

China continues to inject stimulus to revive its economy but that is making its financial system increasingly unstable. Credit growth in excess of 30% of annual GDP warns of a banking crisis according to the BIS. And shrinking foreign reserves flag that the currency is under pressure.

China faces the impossible trinity. According to David Llewellyn-Smith at Macrobusiness, a country pegged to the Dollar can only achieve two out of the following three:

  • a stable exchange rate
  • independent monetary policy
  • free and open international capital flows

At present all three are under pressure.

Source: Best time to short commodities since 2012 says Deltec’s Atul Lele

China’s Day of Reckoning | The Market Oracle

From Michael Pento:

Therein lies China’s dilemma: Allow the yuan to intractably fall, which will increase capital flight and destroy its asset-bubble economy. Or, raise interest rates to stabilize the currency and risk collapsing asset bubbles that will crumble under the weight of rising debt carrying costs.

China embodies a Keynesian dystopia that results from central planning gone mad. It’s mirage of prosperity should soon be coming to an unpleasant end. The misguided belief any government can print unlimited amounts of money and issue a massive amount of new credit; while providing the conditions that are the antitheses necessary for viable growth, has one significant Achilles heel: eventually, it will destroy your currency. Currency is always the pressure valve that explodes in an economy that has reached the apogee of dysfunction. The Red nation isn’t the only offender on this front, but is certainly one of the worst. Therefore, China and the yuan may have finally run out of time.

Source: Chinese Yuan’s Day of Reckoning :: The Market Oracle ::

Will China’s Financial Bust Ever Come?

From Paul Panckhurst and Adrian Leung at Bloomberg:

China’s reading is the nation’s highest on record in the gauge released by the Bank for International Settlements. It’s the single most reliable indicator of looming financial crises, according to the BIS, which found in a 2011 analysis of 36 countries that a majority of banking crises followed readings higher than 10 percent.

The credit-to-gross domestic product “gap” focuses on the amount of credit provided to households and businesses as a share of gross domestic product. It shows when the ratio of credit to GDP is blowing out – suggesting a credit boom and the risk of trouble brewing.

It isn’t advisable to place total reliance on a single indicator, but the rate of credit growth in China is alarming — and unsustainable in the long-term.

Source: Will China’s Financial Bust Ever Come?

Nasdaq breaks its Dotcom high

Tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 broke through its all-time high at 4900, first reached in the Dotcom bubble of 1999/2000. Follow-through above 5000 would signal another primary advance. Bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow warns of medium-term selling pressure, possibly profit-taking at the long-term high.

Nasdaq 100

The daily chart of the S&P 500 also shows bearish divergence, but on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow, indicating only short-term selling pressure; reversal below zero would warn of a correction. Target for the advance is 2300*.

S&P 500 Index

* Target medium-term: 2100 + ( 2200 – 2000 ) = 2300

The chart below plots Forward PE (price-earnings ratio) against S&P 500 quarterly earnings. Apologies for the spaghetti chart but each line is important:

  • green bars = quarterly earnings
  • orange bars = forecast earnings (Dec 2016 to Dec 2017)
  • purple line = S&P 500 index
  • blue line = forward PE Ratio (Price/Earnings for the next 4 quarters)

S&P 500 Forward PE and Earnings

The recent peak in Forward PE was due to falling earnings. Price retreated at a slower rate than earnings as the setback was not expected to last. Forward PE has since declined as earnings recovered at a faster rate than the index. But now PE seems to be bottoming as the index accelerates. Reversal of the Forward PE to above 20 would be cause for concern, indicating stocks are highly priced and growing even more expensive, as the index is advancing at a faster pace than earnings.

Remember that the last five bars are only forecasts and actual results may vary. The only time that the market has seen a sustained period with a forward PE greater than 20 was during the Dotcom bubble. Not an experience worth repeating.

ASX risk off

The ASX 200 is retracing to test its new support level at 5500. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow warns of short-term selling pressure. Recovery above 5600 would signal a primary advance to 6000*.

ASX 200

* Target medium-term: 5600 + ( 5600 – 5200 ) = 6000

Small cap stocks, represented by the ASX Small Ordinaries Index, however, indicate the market is adopting a risk off approach at present. While institutional stocks advance, the small caps index is undergoing a sell-off, with Twiggs Money Flow reflecting strong selling pressure.

ASX Small Ordinaries Index

A line has formed over the last 7 weeks. Breakout below this level would warn of another decline (and a primary down-trend).

Asia: Japan surges while China ebbs

Japan is surging ahead, with the Nikkei 225 index headed for a test of 20000* after its breakout above 17500 four weeks ago.

Nikkei 225 Index

* Target medium-term: 17500 + ( 17500 – 15000 ) = 20000

India’s Sensex found support at 26000, but narrow consolidation and declining Twiggs Money Flow both warn of selling pressure. Breach of 26000 would indicate another decline, with a target of 23000*.

Sensex Index

* Target medium-term: 26000 – ( 29000 – 26000 ) = 23000

Shanghai Composite Index is undergoing another correction. Respect of support at 3100 would indicate a healthy up-trend, while breach of 3000 would warn of a reversal. Declining Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term selling pressure.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: 3100 + ( 3100 – 2800 ) = 3400

Sharply falling Money Flow warns of strong selling pressure on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index. Breach of support at 22000 would signal a primary down-trend with an initial decline to 20000.

Hang Seng Index

Gold falls as the Fed hikes rates

10-Year Treasury yields jumped above resistance at 2.5 percent after the latest Fed rate hike. Penetration of the long-term descending trendline warns that the secular down-trend is ending. Expect a test of the 2013/2014 high at 3.0 percent. Breakout would confirm the long-term down-trend has ended.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index respected its new support level at 100, signaling an advance to 107*.

US Dollar Index

* Target medium-term: 100 + ( 100 – 93 ) = 107

Gold continued its descent in response to rising interest rates and a stronger Dollar. Steps by the Chinese government to limit private gold purchases, in an attempt to support the Yuan, will also impact on demand. Target for the decline is unchanged at the December 2015 low of $1050/ounce. Retracement that respects the resistance level at $1200 would further strengthen the bear signal.

Spot Gold

Europe on the mend

Bellwether European transport stock Deutsche Post (DHL is a subsidiary) is in a primary up-trend, indicating rising economic activity.

Deutsche Post

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50, representing 50 mega-stocks in the Eurozone, broke through 3100 after a lengthy consolidation (or “line” as Dow would have called it). Breakout matches a similar pattern on the DAX and signals a primary advance with a target of 3500*.

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50

* Target medium-term: 3100 + ( 3100 – 2700 ) = 3500

The Footsie (FTSE 100) has also been making some headway but is running into resistance at the all-time high of 7100. Declining Twiggs Money Flow, above zero, warns of medium-term selling pressure. Breach of 6700 remains unlikely but would warn of a correction to 6500.

FTSE 100

Fed Raises Rates, Anticipates 3 Increases in 2017 | WSJ

From Harriet Torry at WSJ:

The Federal Reserve said it would raise its benchmark short-term interest rate for the first time in a year and expects to lift it faster than previously projected in the coming year.

Fed officials said they would nudge up the federal-funds rate by a quarter percentage point on Thursday, to between 0.50% and 0.75%, a move that could cause other household and business borrowing costs to rise as well.

They also indicated they see a brightening economic outlook and expect to raise short-term rates next year by another 0.75 percentage point–likely in three quarter-point moves.

I wouldn’t read too much into further rate rises at present. Rates will only be raised if the economy continues to grow. We are still in the “remove abnormally low rates” stage, which hopefully will take some froth out of the market. Monetary tightening by the Fed in response to rising inflation and wage pressures — which could hurt stock prices — still appears some way off.

Source: Fed Raises Rates for First Time in 2016, Anticipates 3 Increases in 2017 – WSJ

Factors that Could Derail Equity Markets | Bob Doll

Bob Doll

From Bob Doll at Nuveen Investments:

….Although we have a generally positive view toward the economy, earnings and equity markets, we think it is worth pointing out some possible risks given how quickly and how far markets have moved higher over the past month. To us, the main risk to equity markets is the surge in government bond yields and the rising value of the U.S. dollar. Higher bond yields could create a drag on equity valuations and a higher dollar could put pressure on corporate earnings.

If the current advances in yields and the dollar moderate, equity markets should not experience much damage ….we expect any equity market sell-off resulting from a possible yield/dollar spike to be short-lived.

We are also watching possible political negatives from Donald Trump’s presidency, such as escalating geopolitical turmoil, currency wars with China or anti-immigration/anti-globalization trends. Additionally, investors may become wary of improving sentiment and less attractive valuations.

….Unlike the period since the end of the Great Recession, market sell-offs have been brief and followed quickly by strong risk-on moves. As a result of this shift and a seemingly more solid economic and earnings backdrop, we think it makes sense to retain overweight positions in equities.

I am cautiously bullish. A lot of good could come out of Republican control of both Congress and the Senate, including a revision of the corporations tax code and a more cautious approach to globalization.

The dangers are high stock valuations, with the potential for a backlash if earnings falter or risk levels spike, and low business investment that could hurt future growth. I still consider a Trump administration an additional risk factor. Trump has made some solid appointments, like the highly-regarded Mike Mattis (pleased to see Michael McFaul, former Obama point man on Russia, supporting the appointment) but still has the potential to do some crazy stuff as Bob pointed out.

Source: Weekly Investment Commentary from Bob Doll | Nuveen

ASX: Steam or froth?

The ASX 200 broke resistance at 5500. Follow-through above 5600 would confirm a primary advance with a long-term target of 6000*. Rising Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term buying pressure.

ASX 200

* Target medium-term: 5600 + ( 5600 – 5200 ) = 6000

The ASX 300 Banks Index has followed through after breaking resistance at 8000. Expect retracement to test the new support level but respect is likely.

ASX 300 Banks

What could go wrong?

….Apart from a precarious property bubble in China fueling commodity exports, a property bubble in Australia fueled by record low interest rates and equally precarious immigration flows, declining business investment and slowing wages growth.

The ASX price-earnings ratio is close to historic highs, suggesting we are in Phase III of a bull market — where stocks are advanced on hopes and expectations of future growth rather than on concrete results. By all means follow the rally, but keep your stops tight.

China hits turbulence

Shanghai Composite Index is retracing from its recent high at 3300. A test of support at 3100 is likely. Rising Twiggs Money Flow indicates long-term buying pressure but this may be distorted by state intervention in the stock market earlier this year.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: 3100 + ( 3100 – 2800 ) = 3400

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index found support at 22000 but falling Money Flow warns of strong selling pressure. Breach of 22000 would signal a primary down-trend with an initial target of 20000.

Hang Seng Index

The best summary I have seen of China’s dilemma is from David Llewellyn-Smith at Macrobusiness:

…China’s choices are limited here by the “impossible trinity”, that a country [pegged to the Dollar] can only choose two out of the following three:

  • control of a fixed and stable exchange rate
  • independent monetary policy
  • free and open international capital flows

China has been trying to run this gauntlet by sustaining an overly high growth rate via loose monetary policy and recently liberalised capital markets plus exchange rate. But it can’t have stability in all three and so is in full reverse on the last two to prevent a currency rout and/or monetary tightening.

Rising interest rates in the US are likely to bedevil China’s monetary policy. A falling Yuan would encourage capital flight. Capital flight would damage the Yuan, encouraging further outflows. Support of the Yuan would deplete foreign reserves and cause monetary tightening. Loose monetary policy would encourage speculative bubbles which could damage the banking system. A falling Yuan and loose monetary policy would fuel inflation. Inflation would further weaken the Yuan and encourage capital flight. Restriction of capital outflows would end capital inflows.

I am sure that there are some very smart people working on the problem. But they are probably the same smart people who created the problem in the first place.

Footsie resurgence

The Footsie (FTSE 100) respected support at 6700 and a strong weekly candlestick suggests another test of the all-time high at 7100. A Twiggs Money Flow trough above zero would confirm long-term buying pressure. Breach of 6700 is now unlikely but would warn of a correction to 6500.

FTSE 100

India: Sensex

India’s Sensex rallied off support at 26000, but Twiggs Money Flow still warns of selling pressure. Breach of 26000 would indicate a test of 25000.

Sensex Index