Slope of Hope Blog Posts
Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.
We Are Already Hyper Inflating
ForEx jocks make or lose coin by guessing the direction of EUR/USD. Stock pick aces
ride the wave and look good while trends remain in place. Commodity bulls can’t miss
until the next miss is eventually driven home with a loud crash. It seems as if everybody
is clinging to a conventional way of doing things, as if the world was not radically
changed in and around 2001, and as if the old rules of the previous secular bull market
still apply. They do not; it is the age of inflate-or-die, booms and busts.
As for deflation believers, while they may be diametrically opposed to the vast bullish
apparatus that depends on ever increasing debt levels and currency depreciation, they are
right there with their bull counterparts, generally playing to convention and playing by
rules they think they know; following breadcrumbs laid out for them to follow as they
issue dire projections about credit contraction and violent asset markdowns.
Let’s quiet the noise and look at the US Treasury bond market, which is arguably the
most important market on earth, as it is intimately tied to the world’s reserve currency.
The following chart shows the T-Bill yield (IRX), the broad US market (SPX) and the
CRB commodity index as measured against the beautiful continuum that is the well
behaved yield on the 30 year Treasury Bond (grey shaded area). The continuum is of
course framed by the declining 100 month exponential moving average and the lower red
dotted trend line that parallels it.
As applies to the current system, convention went out the window in late 2000 as the
S&P 500 took a dive (to conclude its secular bull market) and was promptly attended by a
crashing T Bill yield as Alan Greenspan goosed the curve, launching gold’s secular bull
market in the process. After a lag, general commodities followed gold higher as did
eventually, the SPX. With T-Bills at what we thought at the time was an outrageous 1%,
the system was re-liquefied.
This was Greenspan’s willful attempt to re-inflate the economy and we all know what
eventually happened; capital was created out of nowhere, and misallocated into the most
dangerous ‘investments’, overseen by the best, brightest and most connected on Wall
Street, who of course made a killing packaging newly engineered creations. The malinvestments
eventually manifested in an epic and terminal crash. The age of inflate-or-die
goes hand in hand with moral hazards being routinely mainlined into the system.
Looking at the chart, the lower red dotted trend line and the EMA 100 form the backbone
by which all of this surreal finance has been supported since the age of inflation
onDemand began its most intense phase, in 2000. Be aware that the shaded area format
of the monthly chart shows monthly closing data, so it does not show the several times
the yield pinged the critical EMA 100 intra-month before reversing lower.
Heck, let’s review our favorite chart below, illustrating the continuum. Pre-2000, the
system ran quite well by leveraging global confidence in Uncle Sam and his Treasury, as
Greenspan himself leveraged the goodwill force fed into the system by Paul Volcker,
who did the heavy lifting in deciding that the inflation problem of the 70’s would end on
his watch, no matter the cost. Sadly, his successor at the Fed had no such resolve as he
was given the gift of goodwill. The reason we now find ourselves in a metaphorical
Wonderland is because Ben Bernanke has amped up the inflation ante even though his
predecessor left him with no seed corn, no goodwill whatsoever. Yet still he inflates.
Post-2000, with the implosion of paper asset markets that had concluded a secular bull
market, and considering the inflationary policies in response, one might have expected
long term yields to become unruly as the precious metals and then the commodity
complex began to rise, sniffing out the creation of ‘funny munny’. Instead, the long bond
yield remained well behaved within the continuum as the free enterprise dominated US
and Communist China pursued a cozy relationship of convenience, which could best be
described as a macro economic vendor financing scheme (‘we will outsource our
industry, leverage confidence and credit and become your consumer engine if you will
convert your US currency reserves to Treasury bonds, helping us stay liquid’).
This was an epic pyramid scheme by which the US created paper (debt) and used it to
continue running its economy on the vaunted US consumer. All the while, PE ratios
were calculated, rosy projections were made and bountiful bonus seasons came and
went… all based on the lie that pretends productivity can be printed through debt.
In 2008, the continuum did something asymmetrical as the yield plunged into what
NFTRH calls Armageddon ’08. Time Magazine published a cover showing bread lines
and ‘Depression 2.0’ headlines and the conventional herd went absolutely hysterical.
This was to the benefit of the people who were able to remain calm and get bullish. The
deflation event was on and the most gullible deflation believers took the breadcrumbs.
Now a mature rebound in both asset markets and the bond’s yield brings us to a
crossroads and a question; will another red dot appear at the EMA 100 as inflation
expectations peak and the entire construct reverses into yet another deflationary episode,
or will it be different this time as the inflationary horse gets out of the barn due to a
saturation point at which the public no longer buys the deflation spook that Ben Bernanke
keeps pulling out of the closet? This would propel an equal and opposite upside reaction
to the lower channel buster that was the most recent green dot.
The script would typically call for the predictable (to contrarians) downturn into a new
deflationary episode, and that may well be in store. But we have to realize that
confidence has hit a saturation point, as outward signs of rebellion surface within
mainstream society. Meanwhile, the Fed chief and his sycophants continue full speed
ahead, scaring the crap out of most everyone with a modicum of economic acumen in the
process; but people are not afraid of deflation now. Inflation fears will break out if the
EMA 100 gives way. This would be uncharted territory for the current system.
Here are some money supply graphs for consideration. From the St. Louis Fed, M2:
From the excellent website Nowandfutures.com (see the description of the mechanics
involved in reconstructing M3 http://tinyurl.com/nftrh115a):
As a ‘bottom feeder’ biased chart guy, what I see in the green M3 line is a gentle, rolling
bottom. The kind of bottom I usually buy.
The US continues inflating and the bond is the confidence tool used to promote the
ongoing, systematic inflation that, other than benefiting those speculators who know how
to use the process, would stiff foreign creditors and tax the American people in a way
they are not generally yet up in arms about; the loss of purchasing power of the US
currency in which they are compensated and in which they conduct commerce.
Was the May ‘Flash Crash’ a surrogate ‘deflation’ event off of the modest peaks in MZM
and M3 (and the mere flattening of growth in M2)? This event certainly provided the
bullish fuel for the next leg up in markets, led by silver and the precious metals complex.
Was that the afterburner needed to propel the long bond’s yield into an upside channel
buster? Or will the bond be rigged in new and innovative ways as the Fed does its duty
as the buyer of last resort?
Are they the buyer of last resort? What about patriotic Americans and all that retirement
fund money just sitting there? Surely they could buy bonds as well, for the greater good.
IRA holders are in bed with Uncle Sam after all, as he sponsors these vehicles and defers
their taxes. We know one thing, somebody has got to buy enough bonds to keep the
pretense in place that things remain in control.
Summary: The ability to continue the inflation is centered on Treasury bonds.
Ironically, the ongoing inflation depends on widespread belief that deflation can happen
and must be fought. Deflation can happen all right, but it will be the FINAL deflation,
with no coming back from it, at least within the confines of the current system. So it will
be important to observe the yield’s approach of the EMA 100 and its subsequent reaction.
Will the yield turn down and continue the boom-bust continuum, or will it go channel
buster up in an inflationary signal that even the most casual observers will take note of as
a collective ‘Rut Roh!’ is emitted far and wide?
We do not have the answer yet and thus, risk is elevated for bulls and bears, inflationists
and deflationists. That is because we are once again at a flash point. Ben Bernanke is
trying like hell to keep the inflation going, and with the mind boggling trillions in still
increasing debt, there is only one politically expedient way out. That would be to keep
the scheme going as long as possible. But please do not tell me that here, on the doorstep
to 2011, sublime levels of unpayable debt in tow, we have not already hyper inflated. We
have, but the ongoing T Bond confidence scheme continues to cover it up… for now.
Now let’s proceed to the good stuff, the investment stance and vehicles used to capitalize
on this sad state of affairs…
[NFTRH then proceeds on with an extensive update of gold vs. currencies and commodities, precious metals technical analysis, portfolio structure (speculative portfolio +39% for 2010) and a sentiment view of the broad markets, which is at an extreme.]\
This gap-fill is almost too good to be true. It's from an ancient gap (July 2008!) and it's from a company I particularly enjoy shorting. The high from Friday was three pennies below the gap. Amazing. I think bears could do to this stock what the two young chaps below are thinking with respect to their companion.
Last week, I did this patriotic post on TLT, and I offered up the following speculation:
Here's where we are at so far:
So the prediction about the ride up to $94? Terrifying accurate. The prediction about the ride down from here? I dunno. We'll see. I've put a short position on, but I don't dismiss the possibility of a ride to 96.5 before this thing totally plunges.
I was asked an interesting question last night, and it was in response to my saying that we had been chopping around in the same area for a week, which is generally a good signal that a top is being made. I was asked how many such formations had turned out to be consolidations in the last two years on SPX and I estimated fewer than one in three. Looking at it this morning the correct answer is actually much fewer than that, if the formation is well above the daily 20 SMA when it forms:
We've also hit support on Vix on Friday on the daily chart, where the resistance trendline for the year to April 2010 has since been a strong support trendline:
That's not to say though that we can't rise a bit further and I see on the ES 15min chart this morning that a megaphone has formed overnight that indicates to the 1250 area on an upward breakout. It may just be an overthrow but it appears to be breaking up, and I see that ES has now reached a level slightly higher than the previous highs a week ago:
EURUSD was weak overnight and is stalling again at a level that looks very significant on the USD chart. If this resistance level on USD breaks then the way looks clear to rise to the next significant resistance level at 83.65:
TLT has reversed earlier than I expected, and looking at the chart this morning what I thought was a broadening descending wedge is resolving into a falling wedge. The upside target for this move up is therefore in the 96.5 area:
Which way am I leaning this week? Well if it wasn't Christmas week I'd be leaning strongly short. However it is Christmas week and it will be a low volume, heavy POMO week so I'm a bit doubtful about seeing much in the way of downside on equities until the week after Christmas which is a very different story. Last year there was a decent correction to the 20 SMA on SPX in the week after Christmas as you can see on the top chart. Meantime I am very aware that my rising wedge target on ES is in the 1265 area now and it's still just possible that could be reached. We'll see.
A chart pattern I always look at is when the lower bands of the 3 month LR intersect with the 6 month, with price. Below are three stocks that met that criteria, and decided to breakout. In fact I suggest a look at the entire sector, it looks constructive, near term. A failure of the 20 seems like a good place for stops.