Two rate hikes since last year have weakened the dollar. Why is that, and what’s ahead for dollar, currencies & gold? And while we are at it, we’ll chime in on what may be in store for the stock market…
The chart above shows the S&P 500, the price of gold and the U.S. dollar index since the beginning of 2016. The year 2016 started with a rout in the equity markets which was soon forgotten, allowing the multi-year bull market to continue. After last November’s election we have had the onset of what some refer to as the Trump rally. Volatility in the stock market has come down to what may be historic lows. Of late, many trading days appear to start on a down note, although late day rallies (possibly due to retail money flowing into index funds) are quite common.
Where do stocks go from here? Of late, we have heard outspoken money manager Jeff Gundlach suggests that bear markets only happen if the economy turns down; and that his indicators suggest that there’s no recession in sight. We agree that bear markets are more commonly associated with recessions, but with due respect to Mr. Gundlach, the October 1987 crash is a notable exception. The 1987 crash was an environment that suffered mostly from valuations that had gotten too high; an environment where nothing could possibly go wrong: the concept of “portfolio insurance” was en vogue at the time. Without going into detail of how portfolio insurance worked, let it be said that it relied on market liquidity. The market took a serious nosedive when the linkage between the S&P futures markets and their underlying stocks broke down.
The failure of the world’s financial leaders to agree on resisting protectionism and support free trade marks a setback in the G20 process and poses a risk for growth of export-driven economies such as host Germany, economists said on Sunday.
Acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting in the German town of Baden-Baden, the finance ministers and central bank governors of the 20 biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open.
Instead, they only made a token reference to trade in their main communique by saying the G20 would work together to strengthen the contribution of trade to their economies.
“The weak wording on trade is a defeat for the German G20 presidency,” Ifo economist Gabriel Felbermayr told Reuters.
“This is particularly true in the light of the fact that Germany is one of the world’s strongest export nations and relies on open markets to maintain its prosperity like hardly any other country.”
One day after yesterday’s at times painfully uncomfortable first official meeting between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump, it will hardly come as a surprise that during today’s G-20 meeting in Baden Baden, Germany- the first for the Trump administration, whose delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – where the dominant topic is trade, and specifically globalization vs protectionism, that a row would break out over how the post-Trump world will deal with trade.
At stake is the language in the official communique to be released later on Saturday and which is expected to serve as the blueprint for future trade relations, which pressured by Trump may be increasingly transformed from multi-lateral to bilateral.
As Bloomberg reports, at the heart of the disagreement are globalist (and mercantilist) powers such as Germany (and China) defending the existing rules-based system, on the other the U.S. is calling for a recognition that trade must be “fair” without however explicitly stating what that means. Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie said in a Saturday statement that the G-20 should be “adamantly against” protectionism. According to reports, China has been the most insistent on a commitment to the current system that the World Trade Organization represents, which is understandable: together with such exporting powerhouses as Germany and South Korea, China has the most to lose from a dramatic overhaul of the status quo.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook expressed support for globalisation and said China should continue to open its economy to foreign firms, while speaking at a forum in Beijing on Saturday.
“I think it’s important that China continues to open itself and widens the door if you will,” said Cook, speaking at the government-sponsored China Development Forum.
Cook’s comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China, with protectionist rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump sparking concern of increased trade friction between the two countries.
“The reality is countries that are closed, that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people,” said Cook, in a rare public speech.
Apple said on Friday it will set up two new research and development centres in Shanghai and Suzhou in China.
It has pledged to invest more than 3.5 billion yuan ($508 million) in research and development in China.
Apple has been singled out in Chinese media as a potential target for retaliation in the event of a trade war.
The Global Times warned last November if Trump triggered a trade war with China, Beijing would then target firms from Boeing to Apple in a “tit-for-tat” approach.
Article 50 is coming. How to trade GBP when the headlines hit
Article 50 has hung like a anvil around the neck of the pound over the past eight months. The looming exit from the EU was an uncertainty and potential headline shock that stunted bounces in cable.
But as dismal as the bounces have been, there have been a series of higher lows since October. That’s often the sign that something is trying to carve out a bottom.
On top of that, UK data has been much better than economists assumed they would be after the vote.
It’s like the election of Donald Trump. It all has the feeling of something ominous but once it happens, the market can start to look ahead and see things a bit more constructively.
Two things make me believe that a short squeeze could be coming. One is the weekly CFTC positioning data. Obviously, it’s not a definitive picture of market positioning but it’s a good snapshot and shows a crowded short trade.
Second is the bump today. There’s no great reason for it. Scotland is making more waves about another referendum. I think it’s some of those shorts worried about a reversal after Article 50.
In a report released this morning by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development titled “Will risks derail the modest recovery? Financial vulnerabilities and policy risks” the OECD warns the global economy may not be strong enough to withstand risks from increased trade barriers, overblown stock markets or potential currency volatility, and adds that the “disconnect between financial markets and fundamentals, potential market volatility, financial vulnerabilities and policy uncertainties could derail the modest recovery.“
The OECD projects global GDP growth to pick up modestly to 3½ per cent in 2018, from just under 3% in 2016, boosted by fiscal initiatives in the major economies, a forecast which is broadly unchanged since November 2016 and notes that while confidence has improved, “consumption, investment, trade and productivity are far from strong, with growth slow by past norms and higher inequality.“
China’s top economic official trimmed its growth target and warned Sunday of dangers from global pressure for trade controls, as Beijing tries to build a consumer-driven economy and reduce reliance on exports and investment.
In a speech to the national legislature, Premier Li Keqiang Li promised more steps to cut surplus steel production that is straining trade relations with Washington and Europe. He pledged equal treatment for foreign companies, apparently responding to complaints Beijing is trying to squeeze them out of technology and other promising markets.
Li’s report set the growth target for the world’s second-largest economy at “around 6.5 percent or higher, if possible.” That’s down from 6.7 percent expansion last year but, if achieved, would be among the strongest globally, reflecting confidence that efforts to create new industries are gaining traction.
Li called for attention to the risks of China’s surging debt levels, which economists see as a rising threat to growth. He announced no major initiatives, but that was widely expected as the ruling Communist Party tries to avoid shocks ahead of a congress late this year at which President Xi Jinping is due to be given a second five-year term as leader. Analysts expect Chinese leaders to use the legislative meeting to emphasize reducing financial risks and keeping growth stable.
At a time of demands in the United States and Europe for trade controls, Li warned China faces “more complicated and graver situations” at home and abroad.
Anyone who has taken their children to Disney world in the U.S. has felt the pressure to go on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Based on the character from the children’s classic, “The Wind in the Willows,” Mr. Toad is the reckless scion of the largest building in the forest, Toad Hall. Fabulously wealthy, he buys a car to impress his friends, although he has no idea how to drive. He loads his companions into the vehicle, liberally honking the horn as he careens on a path of destruction, heedless of the damage he does and exhilarated by the fear he engenders.
U.S. trade policy is now on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” with the difference being that the Disney version ends where it began, with no harm done. The Trump administration’s lack of predictability and indifference to global risk is the new normal. Nowhere does President Donald Trump’s trade policy carry a greater risk than in the interplay of the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China.
Out of disbelief or disorientation, markets have examined the Trump challenge to U.S.-China trade and concluded it is manageable. That conclusion ignores the consequences of a decisive turn in U.S. policy toward Trump’s version of “America First” isolationism and trade protection, coupled with his apparent animosity toward China and his failure to view the relationship within a wider context. Further, it rejects the belief that the direction of Trump’s China and trade policy is real and durable, even though it was central to the argument that won him the presidency.
Even before he seeks new legislation from Congress, Trump has an impressive range of options in dealing with Chinese trade issues. These include:
Three destructive habits that will kill your trading day, week, month, or career.
Not having a plan. Get a plan, who cares if it is bad, start with something. You can build off of it and refine it. You have to be willing to spend the time to make the plan yours. You do not start anything without some level of planning. Trading is hard; your brain spends a lot of time in fast forward, affecting your memory. You can slow it down by having a plan and increase your brains ability to remember. A plan makes it possible to improve. Most importantly, a plan gives you a chance at removing emotion.
Forgetting why you are trading. The purpose of trading is to make money. Every action should bend to that goal. That does not mean every trade makes money. It means every trade gets to closer. If you are looking for comfort, get a teddy bear. If you are looking to be right, play trivial pursuit. If you want excitement, drive fast.
Letting it go. It is really important to separate what happened from how you felt. The more distance between the two the less time it takes to learn from that situation. Admitting you made a mistake or are wrong are necessary for letting it go. Unlike life, you get no credit for admitting you are wrong, it is just a part of trading. Neither matter unless you take action.