Signs of The Times:
"Default, Depreciation and Disorder; the Three Scourges of a Raw-Material- Producing Debtor Country"
While this may soon be a valid observation in real time, it was the headline of a Barron's editorial in 1933.
The focus was copper-producing Peru, and the piece continued with "Banks and individuals in this country [U.S.] and abroad were apparently mislead by the "New Era..." and did not attach sufficient weight to the country's dismal debt record, unstable finances and doubtful risk."
Indonesian spread widening and soaring interest rates have been suggesting a developing financial crisis. Although spreads have narrowed a little this week, industrial and agricultural commodities are important exports for the country.
As we have been noting, as with the start of the Asian Crisis on July 1, 1997, this is shouting caution. This is being amplified by weakening commodity prices.
Stock Market: "For the first time [in history], the business men of all nations are supplied with statistical information, together with some understanding of the laws of economics. For the first time, we have sound centralized banking systems in all the countries and close cooperation between those systems internationally. Because all these factors are favorable, and because of the universal stirring of desire and ambition to which I have already referred, I believe in the "industrial renaissance". We are already seeing something of it in the United States." June, 1929 Bernard Baruch
Is China enjoying an industrial and commercial renaissance? Is it being kept a secret?
A probable time window for the top of this cyclical bull market was from August 1 to mid-September. Important highs were set in early August, from which the declines have been noticeable.
There have been a number of technical models that refine the mid-September rollover to next week. These include cycle days, Fibonacci day-counts, etc.
This is now an old and tired bull market that is coming off record bullish sentiment. The Warnings Department has suddenly become very strident. Base metal prices are plunging and the treasury curve has reversed to steepening.
Sector Comment: Our proprietary Bank Trading Guide climbed from 122 in June, 2003 to the high of 181 on June 1. On the week of August 18, the technical reversal provided the "sell" signal.
The Guide declined to 153 on August 26, from which it recovered to 158 on September 7. At 154 today, falling through 153 would extend the downtrend.
As concluded last week, it is appropriate to increase the pace of selling financials and when the trend extends sell more aggressively.
The Long Bond has slumped from 118 1/2 on August 31 to 115 1/2 today.
While a brief pop is possible on weakening commodity prices, the message is that the treasury curve has reversed to steepening.
During the summer, our advice for investors was to sell the rallies and by September to be defensive. The 4 to 5 year term could be ideal for the post-boom contraction.
For traders, we hung on waiting for the 119 1/2, but that has now changed to selling the next pop.
Credit Spreads have narrowed a little, perhaps with positive vibes for the stock market likely to revive into mid-September.
The high-yield has come in from 337 bps on September 2 to 321 bps on September 12.
Breaking through 320 bps on August 30 resumed the widening trend and through 340 bps will extend it. Yesterday's number was 321 bps.
At times, spreads coordinate with our Bank Trading Guide and its breakdown number is 153.
The Dollar Index could drift down to the 85-86 window.
As we like to contemplate, the very worst thing that could happen to policymakers would be a firming dollar.
This is based upon the doctrinaire practice of depreciation, which has been the universal remedy for any official concern. So if depreciation is good, appreciation is bad - particularly if the world is massively short dollars and long highly inflated asset prices.
The problem, as any speculator knows, is that the debt stays when prices suddenly fail. Typically, this then urgently compels offside players to sell assets to cover debt that suddenly makes cash (dollars) more important than formerly hot stories.
On the dollar relative to currencies, our view is that as the majority of the global debt issued (there has been a debt bubble) has been underwritten in New York and payable in dollars.
This has also been the condition when sterling was the senior currency and London was the financial centre. Following previous great asset inflations, the problem became servicing debt into a firming senior currency.
After all, the majority of global debt during those melancholy contractions was obliged to be serviced in sterling. Selling other currencies or raw materials to meet those obligations tends to make the "owed" currency relentlessly strong.
In the 1550s, Thomas Gresham discussed this acute problem as financial agent and advisor to the government of Elizabeth I.
In yet another century, actually the 20th, Ludwig von Mises wrote a concise essay on the post-boom credit contraction - The Dearth Of Credit is below.
A low of around 85 for the dollar index has been possible in September. After that, the uptrend that started last December can resume.
The Canadian Dollar has been likely to firm as crude oil completes its seasonal high in early October and Natgas sets its high - perhaps in November.
After that, it could decline a little against generally weaker commodities and widening credit spreads.
COMMENTS FOR METAL AND ENERGY PRODUCERS
Energy Prices: As mentioned above, crude could set a critical high in early October. Typically, natural gas makes an important high late in the year.
The ChartWorks has been expecting the uraniums to outperform the oils and it has started already.
Base Metal Prices: We have been looking for base metal prices to conclude their cyclical peak as the stock market does.
A final leg up for both was possible into early September and metals have slumped this week. Indeed, the break amounts to 9% for our index in only 8 trading days, which is impressive. Within this, nickel plunged 11% as copper fell 6%.
Last week, we noted that one negative was that U.S. credit spreads had resumed widening and that the treasury curve was close to reversing to steepening. As it turns out, the latter started at the end of August.
It seems that the key signatures for the start of a cyclical bear market for base metals have been accomplished.
Golds: The August 17 edition of ChartWorks noted that on the expected weakening of the dollar index, gold could spike up. Also noted was the "For the market to remain healthy, prices cannot close below $438."
On August 18, it slipped below this and the low close was 430.3 on August 30. The recovery since has carried to today's 455.
The advice from this page on August 25 was "We wouldn't chase any [share] rallies, but would buy any selloffs.".
To get some variety into the phrasing, the message on September 1 was to "buy the dips." Bereft of innovation, the advice of September 8 was to "buy the dips."
This was based upon the real price (gold/commodities) rallying to 202, which was the breakout level. That week's observation was that the golds had performed immediately very well as our index rallied off a low of 183 in late September, 2000.
The attached chart shows the low for the HUI at 36 on November 4, 2000. Also note that this had almost doubled as the gold/commodities index made its impressive rise into February, 2001, well before the nominal price broke above 272.
Essentially, the critical decline in the real price began in 2003 and set up a huge double bottom with the low of 185 on June 1 ending the bear.
After setting an enthusiastic high in late 2003, both senior and exploration gold stocks began a cyclical bear market. For the seniors, this wasn't realized until they rolled over and died earlier this year.
As it is turning out, the senior golds (HUI) concluded the bear market in May, as did the exploration stocks (www.goldcolony.com has a good representative index of 50 stocks).
Last week's edition reviewed that on its bull market out of the Fall, 2000 low, the real price advanced 35% and on this cyclical bull market a 50% gain was possible.
The correlations may not be carved in stone, but if the HUI soared over 600% on a 35% increase in our gold/commodities index, what will it do on a 50% gain?
Even more - what will the exploration index do?
Senior golds could retreat as the stock market sells off. By November, investors should be fully invested.
Real Price: On the attached chart (bottom clip), note the huge double bottom and breakout above the resistance line at 200.
More specifically, the break above 202 was accomplished on September 8 and the high, so far, has been 210 yesterday.
Clearly, the low of 185 on June 1 set the end of the cyclical bear market and the recent breakout defines the beginning of a cyclical bull market. As concluded last week, the 50% gain would take the gold/commodities index to 278 in about two years.
Investment Demand: We rarely mention supply-demand stuff, but gold's physical off-take has been impressive. Moreover, financial conditions have now changed in a manner that in the past have been associated with an increase in investment demand.
The most timely one has been the treasury curve reversing from flattening with the business boom to steepening with the pending contraction.
The curve (from 10-year to 2-year) has steepened from 12 bps on August 29 to 33 bps today. While the relation is variable, often a turn to steepening anticipates a rally in gold by up to two weeks. Gold's low at 430.3 on August 30 was simultaneous.
An increase in investment demand should also show up with gold advancing against most currencies, not with the orthodox BS about "dollar down - gold up."
The full understanding of credit and its cycles has been provided by the Austrian School of Economics. Its leading exponent has been Ludwig von Mises and some of his comments bear witness to today's one-way excesses. It is imperative to have an understanding of credit that works in both financial and tangible asset booms.
The Austrians did not distinguish between financial and tangible asset booms, did not provide any examples or a forecasting model.
PIVOTAL EVENTS - SEP 15, 2005
in this report are solely those of the author. The information
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