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JohnDFX

DFX Market Analyst
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Everything posted by JohnDFX

  1. From the Data, Growth is Top Concern Again If we were to gauge how much market movement is arising from scheduled event risk relative to those unexpected winds from the headlines, I would put greater emphasis on the latter. That can make for difficult trading conditions considering updates like the coronavirus spread do not abide a clear time and distinct categorical outcomes. In this kind of environment, it is more difficult to establish clear and productive trends as there is not a clear thread to be draw enough interest to hit critical mass. Instead, we are left with the risk that oth
  2. An Economic Update on the Calendar and In the Public Eye Concern over the course of the global economy was revived this past week with a few troubled indicators raising awareness, but the real interest was what arose in the market-based measures. With the recovery in capital market measures, the meaningful divergence in performance from growth-sensitive assets like copper and crude oil (with a 13-day consecutive drop and 13-month low respectively). In fact, the 60-day correlation – a three-month relationship – between WTI crude oil and my preferred baseline of speculation, the S&P 500
  3. The Economic Costs Versus the Sentiment Costs of the Coronavirus Interest in – or really, fear of – the spread of the Wuhan China-based coronavirus ballooned this past week. We could take an anecdotal peruse of the headlines, but I prefer something a little more quantitative. The global, financial-related search for ‘virus’ this past week hit its highest level in over 15 years according to Google. Their data only goes back to 2004, but there is a good chance that the SARS epidemic the year before gave it a run for the proverbial money. This level of attention will naturally draw out the
  4. Coronavirus Adds Another Wild Card for Sentiment to Absorb When it comes to the standard themes I have been following closely these past few months – growth fears, trade wars and monetary policy effectiveness – there have been frequent updates and it hasn’t been particularly challenging to take their temperature at any particularly time. While the threat of a recession or trade war that threatens to encompass much of the world will not exactly inspire confidence among investors, the knowledge that there are regular updates along the way offers at least some relief. And, as we have seen t
  5. Will the White House Pick a Fight with Europe? The long-awaited first step towards de-escalating the most taxing trade war in modern financial history – between the US and China – took place this past week. Representatives for both countries, US President Trump and Chinese Premier Liu He (notably not President Xi) participated in a very long signing ceremony. The contents of this first stage for finding a long-term and full compromise is important as is stands as the symbolic doorway with which these two superpowers can continue to work towards a true compromise that sees all the steep t
  6. Two Important Trade War Votes and A Lurking Threat We have had a few weeks of relative respite from the 2019’s constant headline generator: trade wars. That hiatus is past, however, as we are expecting key updates on global trade relations over the next few weeks. In an unusual twist though, the developments may be positive ones. Dead ahead on Wednesday January 15th we are expecting two opportunities to improve the collective growth trajectory. The most prominent of these is the planned signing of the Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China in Washington DC. Though this dea
  7. The Return of Geopolitical Risk (the US and Iran Again) For almost the entirety of this past year, the dominant force of motivation among investors fit within a rotation of just three major themes: trade wars, growth concerns and monetary policy. Even when these matters weren’t under full steam, their influence and too many instances of sudden changes in the fundamental weather meant that they lack of bearing led to a similar absence of conviction in speculative performance – momentum if not direction. All three of these matters stands to hold considerable influence over the global market
  8. Opening Week Liquidity – We are heading into the first trading days of the new year though it is not the first full trading week of 2020. That is an important distinction for those keeping tabs. Consider the throttling in activity and speculative appetite through the past week. The holiday conditions of the Western World drained market depth to effectively hobble any effort at establishing or extending trends – though there were a few notable sparks of volatility that were the result of the same illiquid backdrop. That is going to be even more pronounced in the week ahead. New Years is a
  9. What Was and Was Not Announced in the US-China Phase 1 Trade Deal Release the doves. The US and China announced last week that they finally were able to come to terms on the their long contentious Phase 1 trade deal. It seems to have conveniently slipped the market’s collective mind that the first stage of the promised reversal to the trade war was announced back on October 11. No tangible change had been put into place between then and now, but that didn’t slow the climb from risk benchmarks like the Dow. There is very good reason to be skeptical about how committed the two governments
  10. Anticipation and Scenarios Into the Sunday US Deadline for China Tariff Escalation The active week of trade ahead will be pocked by a few very high profile events which will tap into key themes. Monetary policy and Brexit updates – both with explicit growth implications – are top listings while liquidity is readily available. Yet, one of the most potent potential events ahead has a deadline that occurs over the weekend. The United States warned some months ago that it would increase the tariff list on Chinese imports if the two countries had not reached a meaningful compromise. Though th
  11. What Matters More to Risk: Healthy Growth or More Stimulus? This seems like it would be a simple question to answer from a textbook perspective; but if you’ve been active in your investment these past years, reality has clearly deviated from the theoretical. We have seen economic activity the world over progressively struggle for traction. This is not a question of interpretation or the reliability of the signals being triggered. There have been far too many realized indications of strain (global GDP, PMI activity reports and investment figures among many others) while warnings over the
  12. Trump Threatens to Move Forward With Dec 15 Tariff Escalation, Considers Section 301 There have been a few critical developments these past few weeks that could have significant deescalated the daunting momentum of global trade wars. However, with each small improvement, we are met with an asterisk that could quickly undermine the good will as well as an alternative stab to weaken the outlook for global trade. For the US-China engagement, the White House backed off of the planned tariff escalation scheduled for October 15th after the countries agreed in principal on a Phase One trade dea
  13. We Have Unresolved Trade War Issues Guided by Rumor or Complete Blackout We closed out this past week to a broad swell in risk appetite. This enthusiasm wasn’t consistent for the global markets throughout the week, however, with most of the asset benchmarks that I follow for scope were struggling until the Friday pop. The exception to the rule was once again the seemingly impervious US equity indices. Whether you were evaluating sentiment for the Dow and S&P 500 through the week or the global bump on Friday alone, the popular justification seems to have been the same: improvement on
  14. The Cost of Drawing Out Trade Wars, Even If They Lift As with most global military wars of the past, economic engagements exact a toll on the participating countries – and their peers – long after the ceasefire is struck. That is what we need to remember as officials on both sides of the table in the US-China negotiations offer rhetoric that attempts to keep local confidence buoyant. In reality, both governments are trying to walk the fine line whereby local consumers, businesses and investors do not abandon the economy while still resonating a toughness such that their counterparts feel
  15. Critical Fundamental Themes to Keep Watch For Next Week: Volatility Slipping Back into Habit of Complacency as Liquidity Fills [Indices, VIX] US-China Trade War – Beyond the Point of De-Escalation? [AUDUSD, USDCNH, Indices] A Climb in Risk Appetite as More Fundamentals Fall Away [S&P 500, Dow] Recession Warnings In the Market Converging with Those in Data [Indices, Yields, Gold] Monetary Policy Ability to Stabilize Growth, Markets [EURUS, ECB, Fed, BOJ, Gold] Politics Increasingly Core to Market Outlook [S&P 500, Yields, Gold] Natural Growth
  16. Market Conditions in Data Overload Markets often struggle for traction when there is a lack of a clear motivator such as meaningful event risk or an evolving systemically important theme. On the other hand, there are times when a surfeit of important events, indicators and headlines overwhelm the clear speculative picture, leaving us with an abundance of volatility without the benefit of a reliable course. We have dallied with this latter scenario these past weeks, but the constant redirection of our attention will be in special form in the week ahead. There is a near constant run of hig
  17. UK Parliament Votes to Delay Brexit Deal, Now What? Heading into the weekend, overnight implied volatility behind the Cable and other Pound crosses had charged to their highest level in over two years. That reflected well the fundamental weight represented by the first Saturday sitting in the Commons in 37 years. Parliament convened to debate the government’s withdrawal agreement bill which Prime Minister Boris Johnson managed to hash out with European negotiators during the EU leaders summit. The compromise came at the last possible moment as the law passed by MPs before their proroguin
  18. Is This a US-China Trade War Turn We Can Rely In? The market was struck with a broad sense of enthusiasm through the second half of this past week. There were a number of developments – or expectations for forthcoming events – that contributed to this buoyancy. The theme stirring the most optimism was anticipation that the United States and China were finally making progress in their 15-month trade war. Just before the New York close on Friday, officials announced that indeed they had found some middle ground for compromise. The question global investors should be asking is whether this
  19. The Trade War Spreads to More Critical, Global Growth Organs We have been unofficially engaged in a global trade war since March 2018. That is when the United States moved forward with a tariff on imported metals (steel and aluminum) from any destination outside of the country. Since this opening salvo, there have been small actions against countries outside the singular focus of China, but the incredible escalation between Washington and Beijing has drawn most of the global attention. With tariff rates running as high as 30% on over $350 billion in goods between the two economies, it is
  20. Politics and Markets There are numerous, open political fissures around the world – including the approaching Brexit deadline; the ongoing flux of Euro-area stability and Chinese social pressure arising from economic concerns. Each of these represents significant headline fodder both within their respective country as well as in the international press. Yet, as many newspaper column inches or top headlines in online news aggregators these issues may represent, they don’t naturally adapt to clear economic or market impact. Evaluations are made over the prevailing trends and assumptions ap
  21. What are Central Banks Attempting to Achieve at This Point? Over the past two weeks, we have seen major central banks loosen the reins on monetary policy or otherwise set the stage to move further into unorthodox policies. The most notable moves were made by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Federal Reserve. The latter cut its benchmark by 25 basis points to bring its range down to a high level of 2.00 percent – though it maintained its increasingly dubious position that it expects no further reductions this year. The former took more dramatic action. The 10 bp rate cut lowered its dep
  22. And Now, the Fed The market has monetary policy on its mind heading into the new trading week thanks to the actions of the European Central Bank (ECB) this past Thursday. One of the world’s largest central banks, the group is making a bid – perhaps unintentional and perhaps not – to be the most accommodative group of its size. Already sporting a negative rate, a large balance sheet and a T-LTRO program; President Draghi steered his team back into an expansionary phase of dovishness despite his retiring in a few months. Testament to their forward guidance efforts, the market largely expect
  23. The Global Importance of the ECB Rate Decision Top event risk - both for concentrated volatility potential for its local currency and global influence via systemic means – over the coming week is hands down the ECB (European Central Bank) rate decision. Under normal circumstances, the monetary policy decision by the world’s second largest central bank is occasion for significant response from local currency and capital markets. For the Euro, the event is made far more potent at this particular meeting owing to the market’s aggressive speculation for a further infusion of support to their
  24. Is Trump Responding to the Dow – and Would He Prioritize Index Over Dollar? This past week generated another heavy round of criticism from the US President. In both ad hoc press conferences and tweets, Donald Trump scrutinized a number of economic and financial hurdles that he believes is threatening the health of the US economy. The most familiar critique continued to target the Federal Reserve and specifically its Chairman, Jerome Powell. Trump took to the wires to levy blame against the monetary policy authority essentially every day. His specific accusations were of a familiar flavor
  25. Reckless Acceleration of the Trade War With the global (including the US and China) economy already straining under the weight of the ongoing trade wars, the two largest individual economies too steps this past week to leverage the pressure even higher. As expected, China felt it necessary to respond to the upgraded efforts announced by President Trump on a staggering $300 billion more in Chinese goods – the ‘rest’ of the country’s imports that weren’t already facing a tax. It seems the White House considered the phased application of the 10% duty between September 1 and December 15 was
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