When Everyone Agrees

Here is a short blog today as we are currently writing our end of the year letter and formulating our investment thesis for 2017. Bob Farrell was an absolute legend during his 5 decades on Wall Street and finished his career on the Street as the Chief Strategist at Merrill Lynch. Farrell encapsulated his 45 years of experience in his widely distributed 10 Rules for Investing.  As our thoughts turn to what is going to happen in 2017 we find ourselves turning to his sage like wisdom. While they are all of equal importance we find ourselves drawn to #9 as 2017 dawns.

  1. Markets tend to return to the mean over time.
  2. Excesses in one direction will lead to an opposite excess in the other direction.
  3. There are no new eras — excesses are never permanent.
  4. Exponential rising and falling markets usually go further than you think.
  5. The public buys the most at the top and the least at the bottom.
  6. Fear and greed are stronger than long-term resolve.
  7. Markets are strongest when they are broad and weakest when they narrow.
  8. Bear markets have three stages.
  9. When all the experts and forecasts agree, something else is going to happen.
  10. Bull markets are more fun than bear markets.

Seemingly, every single investing professional that we read or talk has the same expectations for 2017. Experts see a January dip being bought and Wall Street’s best and brightest see 2017 returning a rather staid 5% on average according to Barron’s. We have a funny feeling that isn’t quite how it’s going to work out. When everyone agrees – something else will happen. We will be back next week with our thoughts on how we feel it is going to work out. Hope you have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017!!

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

 

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

 

Buckle Up

In the 1st Quarter of 2017 it will mark 8 years of the bull. Valuations are elevated to say the least but new policies from the White House and Republicans may give another boost to the market. A new resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can introduce risk to the market. A new leader in the Executive Office may prefer to take a recession or market rout early on in their term in order to blame the other guy. But this new leader seems to be unlike any other we have ever seen. In the short term moving into Q1 we think that there may be some buyer’s remorse on the Trump win. Not in relation to Trump (we are agnostic politically in terms of making investment returns) but in relation to getting those policies of decreased regulation, lower taxes and the repatriation of funds actually passed. The Supreme Court may have to come first.

January could find some bumps in the road but once a bull market gets this far we expect it to end in spectacular fashion. Two years come to mind that took place in a rising interest rate environment – 1981 and 1987. In 1981 Ronald Reagan came into the Oval Office with great expectations and saw stock prices up 5% in the first quarter of his Presidency.The market then fell over 19% in Reagan’s first nine months in office. While this does rhyme somewhat with the Trump Rally the landscape was very different in 1981. Although 1981 was a period of rising interest rates we saw a nation that was struggling with a 14 year bear market and an economy that was treading water with Fed Fund rates in the early teens and rising. 1981 was an environment of low valuations and high interest rates which is just the opposite of what we have today.

A year that might have more significance would be 1987. At the dawn of 1987 share prices had appreciated more than 100% from the lows put in 5 years earlier and the year began with a bang. The Dow Jones would be up 35% by August of that year. While the Federal Reserve was raising rates euphoria ran wild on Wall Street with seemingly daily mergers creating wealth for shareholders. “Animal Spirits” of a rising stock market took hold and shares ran higher with investors fearing that they were being left behind and easy money was being made on Wall Street. 2017 could bring something very similar. Investors are anxious as valuations are historically elevated and, while not wanting to take on added risk, there is a fear of being left behind. According to Sir John Templeton bull markets die in euphoria. We are at the point where we think this market is close to euphoria and it being more likely that this bull move ends with a bang and not with a whimper. While valuations have us cautious and protecting against negative shocks to the system what we could see is a shocking move higher.  

In Jeremy Grantham’s work on bubbles he postulated in June of last year that the market could run up to close to 3000 on the S&P 500 before breaking under the weight of excessive bubble – like valuations. That would be about 30% from here.

This week it became evident that Trump’s win could give rise to policies that would provide the Fed the cover that it needs to be more aggressive in raising rates. In their first post election meeting Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve are predicted 3 interest rates hikes in 2017 rather than the 2 expected previously. While we all know the Fed is notoriously inept at predicting anything its current projections show a more aggressive hawkishness from its previous stance. This could help normalize interest rates into the range of 2-5% that the Fed prefers. This would be healthy from a longer term perspective and give the Federal Reserve ammunition should another crisis arise but it may produce some bumps in the road near term. We think that this normalization would be a net positive by giving business owners more confidence and more impetus to invest in their organizations which in the long term would be supportive to jobs and the economy.  

US Treasury rates on the 10 year are hovering around 2.6% as they seemingly stabilized this week. As far as equities go investors kept their wallet on their hip this week and did not drive the market into further overbought territory. There is some angst over the end of the year and the memory of the last several January’s which saw equities move lower. We expect investors are ready and willing to buy the next dip. That dip will probably not be pronounced and may provide kindling for the animal spirits to drive the market higher in 2017.   

Chinese may be struggling as they saw had debt and currency issues this week. Their currency is falling rapidly as they try to maintain control. China’s economy and their relationship with the US is shaping up to be THE story of 2017.The Saudi’s still wish to see a higher oil price at least until the Aramco IPO gets floated in 2017. They will try and keep oil stable and rising until then. Watch the Aramco IPO for clues as to oil’s direction. Markets are still overbought and Santa has not even arrived yet. Market pundits are seemingly all calling for a low return year. What you expect is not usually what you get when it comes to the stock market. When everyone is leaning one way we lean the other. We see volatility coming back and some wide swings up and down. Buckle up.   

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Bulletproof

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. – Herbert Stein American Economist

Herbert Stein was an American Economist who worked in several White House administrations and was, more famously, the father of the actor Ben Stein. (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – “Bueller? – Bueller?”) If Mr. Stein were still with us he might find his famous quote useful this week. What we had was another 5 days of trading and another 3% higher for the S&P 500. Investors continue to plow into financials, industrials and materials while moving away from bonds and bond like equities such as utilities and real estate. Investment professionals are afraid of being left in the dust and having clients see that their portfolios don’t include the latest outperformers so they are adding them at a heady clip. It is the time honored tradition called “Window Dressing”.

Trees don’t grow to the sky and what cannot continue – won’t. David Rosenberg from Gluskin Sheff was quick to note this week that Reagan’s honeymoon lasted 6 months and 6% before seeing the market fall 25% over the next two years in the face of a rising dollar and rising bond yields. Sound familiar?

Monetary policy has been responsible for the majority of the gains in the stock market since the crisis began in 2008. The Federal Reserve pulled forward returns in seeking to engage “animal spirits” in the stock market to raise valuations. The belief was that rising asset prices would help the economy by shoring up balance sheets with higher valuations and by engendering decision makers with the confidence that higher prices would bring. Fast forward 8 years and we are truly seeing “animal spirits”. Our overriding question over the last 8 years is what happens when the monetary policy accommodation rug gets pulled out from underneath the investor? A decrease in monetary accommodation here in the US will only send the US Dollar higher, decrease asset values, and exacerbate geopolitical uncertainty in emerging markets while increasing volatility in asset pricing around the globe. We are starting to see central bankers around the world attempt to withdraw accommodation. File this one under” be careful what you wish for”.

Two things are being bandied about as fact. One thesis that traders seem to be buying into is the “Inauguration Day Trade”. Traders believe, as proffered by Jeff Gundlach, that this rally will peak before Inauguration Day. The second is that bond yields in excess of 2.75% on the 10 year will cause stock prices to fall. Keep an eye on both the yield and the calendar.

Dow Theory kicked in on Wednesday. Transports are up almost 50% from their lows in January to eclipse the all time highs of late 2014. Up 17% in the last month!! This has all the earmarks of a blow off top and we may not be finished yet. We have speculated for some time that this would be how this bull market ended – Straight up in spectacular fashion. While we have been cautious on the valuations of this market for some time the missing ingredient to a top in the market has been investor euphoria. Well, the Trump win may have provided just that. Hang on tight.

Markets are overbought. Santa may have arrived early. January may see some reversal of fortune but it looks like the trade is in place for now. Out with bonds and bond like equities and in with financials, industrials and materials. Market continues to shrug off major geopolitical financial events at an ever faster pace. The Italian Referendum was shrugged off in minutes. Ego kills when it comes to investing. Bulls are feeling bulletproof.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Published in: on December 10, 2016 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Trump Rally Meets The Swamp

The Trump Rally while rooted in ideology and investment theory is not necessarily rooted in reality. While tax reforms, reduced regulation and fiscal stimulus could make for a powerful combination stoking the economy and inflation it is not certain this combination will actually happen and if it does happen it will not happen for some time. Expectations are running a bit too high and this is still Washington DC after all. The roots of the Trump Rally are bound to get stuck in the mud of the Swamp.

Interest rates and the US dollar are rising which can be a dangerous combination. The market can rally with rising interest rates and we believe that it is healthy for interest rates to rise from here and that low interest rates were actually inhibiting growth in the economy. Some semblance of higher interest rates are good for the economy. But for the stock market the current high level of valuations were predicated on TINA (There Is No Alternative). At some point, bonds, real estate or other asset classes become an alternative. The high levels of asset valuations were predicated on low interest rates as all investments are evaluated versus the risk free rate of the 10 year Treasury. A rising ten year means that models may have priced assets too richly.

As you know we follow certain financial leaders and Jeff Gundlach at DoubleLine is one we find most open with his thoughts. Gundlach is on record saying that the 10 year could go to 6% in the next 4 or 5 years. We are of the same thought although not as drastic. In the near term we believe that yields have gone too far too fast along with equities in the post Trump win world. Gundlach spoke to Reuters this week and caused markets to pause as he said much the same. Gundlach feels that the bond selloff has seen its low for now and stocks will take a breather before Inauguration Day. After he spoke bonds rallied and stocks fell. Evidently we are not the only ones listening intently to Gundlach’s views.

Another one of our favorite investing legends is Stanley Druckenmiller. He spoke this week at the Robin Hood Conference in NYC. Druckenmiller does Gundlach one better. He believes that the yield on the 10 year will rise to over 6% in the next year or two!! Druckenmiller is shorting the Euro and the Yen and he believes that if the 10 year rises above 3% then the stock market could see a 10% correction. Let’s face it. The stock market can face a 10% correction if someone sneezes in the Middle East.  A 10% correction is not something to be feared but anticipated. I think that the real takeaway is that at some point the yield on the 10 year becomes more enticing to investors than being in the stock market. The pendulum will swing and bonds will usually give you the correct signals. Keep an eye on the 10 year for hints as what stocks will do.

This Sunday’s referendum in Italy is the markets next boogeyman. Journalist and pundits are predicting the next great financial calamity if there is a “No” vote in Italy. Where have we heard this before? Italy has had 67 governments formed in the last 70 years. Why should 2017 be any different? We don’t mean to diminish the battle that is going on with bad loans at some of Italy’s biggest banks but somehow after seeing the predictions that Brexit would be bad for markets and Trump would be bad for markets we have a hard time believing the next great financial calamity follows the next populist regime change. The Italian Referendum should be another interesting vote. It might be time to become familiar with the name – Beppe Grillo.

Market is working off its collective over bought and oversold conditions. The 10 year closed Friday at 2.39% and should see resistance at the 2.5% level. Stocks have relieved some of their overbought condition but the Trump Rally is seeing some buyer’s remorse at 2200 on the S&P 500. Keep an eye on Italy this weekend.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

The Market’s Violent Transition

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” 
― 
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

This was another busy week for the markets in the aftermath of the Trump victory. There has been a sea change in the outlook for markets going forward which is much more predicated on the House, Senate and White House being controlled by Republicans than it is solely about Trump. A stranglehold on DC by the Republicans will enable them to pass legislation to help stimulate the economy and perhaps stoke the fan of inflation. We had some bright minds check in with their thoughts this week. Ray Dalio proffered his thoughts on LinkedIn this week on the Trump win and where that takes the investing landscape. Dalio feels that we are at a major reversal point that may last a decade.

As a result, whereas the previous period was characterized by 1) increasing globalization, free trade, and global connectedness, 2) relatively innocuous fiscal policies, and 3) sluggish domestic growth, low inflation, and falling bond yields, the new period is more likely to be characterized by 1) decreasing globalization, free trade, and global connectedness, 2) aggressively stimulative fiscal policies, and 3) increased US growth, higher inflation, and rising bond yields. 

As for the effects of this particular ideological/environmental shift, we think that there’s a significant likelihood that we have made the 30-year top in bond prices. We probably have made both the secular low in inflation and the secular low in bond yields relative to inflation. 

 The question will be when will this move short-circuit itself—i.e., when will the rise in nominal (and, more importantly, real) bond yields and risk premiums start hurting other asset prices. 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/reflections-trump-presidency-one-week-after-election-ray-dalio?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

The key to success here will asset allocation. The early winning sectors out of the gate are financials, materials and industrials. The losers are bonds, utilities and REIT’s. We will be looking towards oil as we have been writing about for several weeks. The bottom may be in for oil as $60 a barrel looks far likelier than a revisit to the lows of $20 a barrel. US Treasuries have been absolutely hammered since the election and we suspect while the 30 bond bull market in bonds is dead but a trade-able low in bonds may be at hand as bonds are oversold.

We have been prepared for this upward move in bond yields as we sought cover by lowering our duration for our investors. We believe the 30 Year could move to 5% over the next five years. We were shocked to hear Jeffrey Gundlach, whose prescient calls we follow in the bond market, is predicting a move in the 10 Year to over 6% in the next five years. A move of that magnitude is what Dalio is speaking of when he relates that at some point bond yields will move too high for stocks. At some level investors will prefer bond yields to stocks and stocks will falter. At what level that occurs is the current $1 Trillion dollar question.

 Future inflation expectations are soaring. We believe in the sea change that Dalio and Gundlach are espousing with regards to inflation and higher bond yields. In the short term it appears as if everything is currently either overbought or oversold as we have entered this violent rotation out of bonds and bond like instruments into equities. The markets going forward may soon turn their attention to an exit from the EU by Italy as their referendum is fast approaching. For now, 2190-2200 on the S&P 500 is resistance while support is anywhere lower as the buy the dip crowd is back, although, investors will be buying financials rather than utilities. Things may have moved too far too fast. We think that bond yields will soon revert lower if only to relieve their oversold condition but it appears the 30 year trend has changed.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Shock Waves

 “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

What the heck was that? An unexpected Trump victory sent shock waves through markets this week. What was once up is now down and what was down is now up. You have probably heard various explanations to this weeks 5% rally in the stock market. Here is my take. While many predicted that markets would sell off 5-10% in light of a Trump victory traders took their hints from the Brexit vote back in June. After the Brexit vote markets sold off but then rallied furiously. So this time, traders never let them sell off. Thinking like an old floor trader we saw many investors get caught offside. When everyone is on the same side of the boat the exits get small.

As we have written before Wall Street is agnostic when it comes to the election. They just want to know which way to bet. They got it horribly wrong and that wrong-footedness contributed to the volatility that we saw this week. Longs needed to be sold and shorts bought. The deflation trade was sold and the inflation trade was bought. Bonds, REIT’s and utilities got pummeled while financial stocks and biotechnology ran higher reversing their courses from the past year.

Going forward the street is betting on US dollar trades and less on globalization of trade. They also see inflation coming back with the Republicans running fiscal deficits and increasing spending on infrastructure while controlling both Houses of Congress and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Market internals tell us that something is amiss. While markets ran up 450 points after FBI Director Comey cleared Hilary Clinton and what seemed to be her path to the White House markets rallied 500 points when Trump sailed to victory. Also, declining stocks have been higher than advancing stocks while the market hits new highs. According to Arthur Cashin at the NYSE the market saw the largest number of simultaneous new highs and new lows in nearly 50 years. Not a sign of strength.

We believe that the path going forward is to continue to follow the aftermath of Brexit on British markets. While a honeymoon period is to be expected we believe that, as has been the case in Britain, as the honeymoon ends equity markets will begin to consolidate their gains post election and gravitate towards their lows of election night. Market closed on Friday at 2164 on the S&P 500. For now, resistance is at 2170 and then 2190. Market is now overbought and should take a breather here. Lots to come in the next month with the forming of a Trump Cabinet, an Italian referendum that could spell further problems for the EU and a likely rate increase here in the United States.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Published in: on November 12, 2016 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Controlled Burn

I believe risk is most when we feel it least and the risk is least when we feel it most. -Steve Blumenthal CMG

I read Steve Blumenthal’s weekly blog On My Radar every week. I don’t always agree with Steve but he always makes me think. His take on risk really struck a chord with me. I read it over several times. When the wine if flowing and markets are rising we don’t notice that risk is rising. Market moves lower create sheer panic. That gets our attention. It is then that risk is lower. Tops may or may not be forming but the signs are there. Investor complacency. Mega deals. High valuations. Be on guard.

http://www.cmgwealth.com/ri/radar-youve-got-remember-two-things/

Oil has taken a beating over the last week. The negotiations between the OPEC nations have seen more posturing and negotiating and that has oil backing away from $50 a barrel. We think that they are closer to the end of the negotiations than the beginning. Things for the Saudi’s at home are running a little tight and they need higher oil prices. The Saudi’s are looking for cooperation and we think they will make a deal. Right now oil is in a bit of a panic selloff and may seek to retest the lows. Goldman Sachs has piled on by calling for lower oil prices. Doing the opposite of what Goldman says publicly has been a great strategy for years.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-01/goldman-warns-oil-headed-low-40-declining-probability-opec-deal

Arthur Cashin pointed out on Friday morning that the market is on an extended losing streak and it has been picking up steam since breaking through the 2130 level we warned about.

The negative close made it eight down sessions in a row something the S&P hasn’t done since October of 2008 in the days following the Lehman collapse. The severity of the selling was far sharper in 2008. That eight session sell off dinged the S&P for 23% while this move has only sliced 3% from the S&P. 11/4/2016

Friday’s close made it 9 down sessions in a row. That makes for the longest losing streak in 36 years. The market is down only 4.9% from its all time high so this is acting as a very controlled burn. A Trump win could make for more downside but another 5% would be a very healthy 10% correction which we haven’t seen in a while. The big question is will the Federal Reserve still raise rates if Trump wins? That could help propel the selloff. We have our doubts that the Fed will have the stomach for it. If they do we could see cheaper prices. We have had heavy cash positions for some time. One year returns have gone negative on the S&P. Valuations have been high and that justified our cash position. History tells us that markets have struggled to rise from these valuation levels. The market has been stuck in a rut. We would love to see cheaper prices.

Market closed at 2085 which is just above our support level of 2080. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. A break of 2080 brings 2040 into play but markets are very oversold and looking for a bounce. 2080 is support for now. We would not be surprised if we do not have a winner on Tuesday night. Gore v Bush. Hold all tickets!

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

 

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

 

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

 

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 5, 2016 at 8:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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You’ve Got Mail

Just when I thought I was out. They pull me back in.

 – Michael Corleone Godfather III

Was it Michael Corleone or James Comey Director of the FBI? Comey has to be thinking the same as the Godfather as Anthony Weiner’s emails have pulled Comey back into the Clinton investigation and thrown the election and markets for a loop. The S&P 500 was holding support above the 2130 level that we spoke of last week until the explosive news of a reopening of the Clinton email investigation hit the tape on Friday. Markets closed under 2130 for the second time triggering Jeffrey Gundlach’s warning. Monday is going to be a very important day for the short term direction of the market.

Mega mergers are not typically seen as very good for markets. In fact they usually serve as a warning post and signs of a potential top. We were served up with the news of three merger/takeovers last Monday morning. The largest being the ATT Time Warner deal. The AOL Time Warner deal served as the warning bell at the top of the 2000 bull market and the subsequent tech crash. When large companies have squeezed the last drop of growth out of their companies and the business cycle is near the top the playbook calls for buying growth. At the end of the business cycle the only thing left to do is acquire the growth that is not obtainable organically. ATT has recently seen a slowdown in the growth of subscribers. Is this the Hail Mary Pass for ATT? The AOL Time Warner merger is now studied in business classes as the classic failed mega merger. How will history see the ATT Time Warner merger? Better we suspect but sometimes they do ring bells at the top.

As far as the technicals go the 50 Day Moving Average (DMA) on the S&P 500 is now declining. Also, the last two weeks have seen market swoons instead of rallies at the end of the market day. Both serve as warning signs for a tired market. We are entering, which is historically, the best part of the year for stocks. The election and the Federal Reserve may have something to say about that. We are now staring at an election in chaos and a Federal Reserve committee meeting in December where they have all but promised the market that they will raise rates. Will they still raise rates if Trump wins and markets swoon? 2130 is being tested. Pass or fail?

The S&P 500 has now closed below its 100 day moving average for the third straight week. If 2130 fails then the next real level of support is the always critical 200 day moving average at 2078 on the S&P 500.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Heavyweights

Two heavyweight investors took to the airwaves this week to give their views on current markets and Federal Reserve actions. David Tepper who manages Appaloosa Management and is one of the more successful hedge fund managers noted that he is “pretty light in the market and we have a lot of cash”. He is “pretty cautious “on the market right now and he points towards the election for that caution. He feels that if the election provides a shock to the market it could put the Fed on hold. If the market is not shocked by the election we could get a relief rally. It appears that he, like everyone else, is looking for fiscal spending to ramp up.

If the market goes down because of the election, Tepper said the Federal will also be less likely to raise its benchmark federal funds rate. But if the market holds at current levels, Tepper said the central bank will likely raise rates because the economy is “at a point where they should raise rates.”

“But if you do get some sort of mixed government or something that’s near what’s going on right now … then you’ll get some relief after this election’s over. I think they have to anticipate business investment going up, especially if you have more or less of a status quo economically,” Tepper said. This would include the Republicans retaining their control over the House, he added.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/17/billionaire-david-tepper-im-generally-pretty-cautious-on-the-market.html

Jeffrey Gundlach was the other heavyweight investor to weigh in this week. Gundlach manages over $100 billion at DoubleLine Capital and we find him to be the single most valuable investment opinion to follow. He has given some prescient guidance since the crisis of 2009 and we have invested with great confidence in Double Line. While Gundlach is mainly known for his bond acumen he also espouses his views on equities. He gave an interview this week noting a critical support level of 2130 on the S&P 500. We closed below that level on Monday of this week. According to Gundlach, we need a second close below it to confirm more downside to the market.

Wiki leaks continue to drip. Denial of service attacks on the East Coast put a slight chill into markets. Pressure continues to build. The S&P 500 has now closed below its 100 day moving average for the second straight week. The next real level of support is the always critical 200 day moving average at 2070 on the S&P 500. Keep an eye on 2130.

Is this long national nightmare over yet? Vote early and vote often.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

 

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

 

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.

Yellen – More Punch Anyone?

“By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens”.– John Maynard Keynes

Central bankers have an obsession with inflation. Inflation is the central banker’s temperature gauge for the economy. Inflation above a certain level is too hot and deflation is way too cold. The natural question is at what level is inflation too hot? Currently, the US Federal Reserve thinks that above 2% is too hot, so 2% is their target.

On Friday, in a speech in Boston, Janet Yellen, Chairperson of the Federal Reserve, stated that it might be wise to consider the upside of a “high pressure economy”. While the FOMC has targeted a 2% inflation rate it appears that they are preparing us to accept a higher than normal inflation rate in order to “heal” the economy. One is very quickly reminded of the Weimar Republic. Prophetically, our good friend Arthur Cashin from the NYSE had this to say in his blog this week.

Originally, on this day in 1922, the German Central Bank and the German Treasury took an inevitable step in a process which had begun with their previous effort to “jump start” a stagnant economy. Many months earlier they had decided that what was needed was easier money. Their initial efforts brought little response. So, using the governmental “more is better” theory they simply created more and more money.

In 1920, a loaf of bread soared to $1.20, and then in 1921 it hit $1.35. By the middle of 1922 it was $3.50. At the start of 1923 it rocketed to $700 a loaf. Five months later a loaf went for $1200. By September it was $2 million. A month later it was $670 million (wide spread rioting broke out). The next month it hit $3 billion. By mid-month it was $100 billion. Then it all collapsed.

By October of 1923 German citizens were burning cash instead of wood for heat. It was easier to get and less expensive.

In a normal environment it has been said that it is the Federal Reserve’s job to take away the punchbowl just as the party has started. On Friday, it appeared that Yellen not only doesn’t want the party to end she wants to spike the punchbowl.

We do not believe that the November meeting of the FOMC is live and that they will not raise interest rates at that time. Not days before a Presidential election. Traders are betting that there is a 65% chance that they raise rates at the December meeting. If they raise rates in December it could make for another rocky start to the New Year.

One of the most astute investors that we know is a long time friend who pops in on us time to time. He is a very patient investor and quite prescient in his market calls. He called us out of the blue this week. He senses caution and is taking money off of the table. When he speaks we pay heed.

Technical analysis, while voodoo for some, is a way of quantifying the current state of market psychology. The market has been forming what is called a wedge. A wedge is a state of an increasingly tighter price range. This tells us that the market has been forming pressure much like a volcano or earthquake fault line. The market may have broken out of that range this week. The market has been below its 100 day moving average for the last two weeks. What was once support for the market is now resistance. The next real level of support is the always critical 200 day moving average at 2070 on the S&P 500. That is about 3% lower from the close of 2133 on Friday. The market is currently up 4.6% Year to Date (YTD). Investors, and professionals who looking to keep their bonus checks, could get very anxious if this year’s gains are put at risk in an October swoon. Keep an eye on 2070.

I think we aspire less to foresee the future and more to be a great contingency planner… you can respond very fast to what’s happening because you thought through all the possibilities, – Lloyd  Blankfein

To learn more about us and Blackthorn Asset Management LLC visit our website at www.BlackthornAsset.com .

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill

Disclosure: This blog is informational and is not a recommendation to buy or sell anything. If you are thinking about investing consider the risk. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Consult your financial advisor.