The S&P 500 can be danced like a 3-count waltz: 1 (corporate profits), 2 (price of primary energy), and 3 (interest rates).
Last week, we analyzed the market sensitivity to rising interest rates, all other things being equal. However, rarely are all other things equal.
This week, we integrate the three rhythms, with the conclusion being the cost of primary energy is growing too fast.
Sometimes the stock market suffers from a divergent strabismus. Its left eye observes economic activity in the present moment, and its right eye the value of likely cash flows in the next ten years. Today the right eye is pointing to the ground as the resurgence of global inflation weighs heavily on stocks’ multiples. However, and since the end of last month, the left eye has been staring into the sky: our leading indicator of international trade announces a strong rebound in the next two months.
Which is the guiding eye for the global vision?
To hunt game, you must first track it on the trail. The same is true for the offshore dollar.
Since 2014, we lost track of our wild dollar with increasing perplexity. Not by a single dollar, but a trillion dollars. In this letter, we show how wild dollars escaped from the FED trap and are now nesting on the high branches… of the US stock market!
A ‘Giffen good’ is a strangeness. When its price increases, its demand does not fall, it rises. Simply because it is an essential good – not substitutable – which constitutes a significant part of the buyer’s income.
In times of economic stress, companies that produce Giffen goods are a safe-haven for the stock market investor.
We are now in a time of economic stress; here is an example of the Giffen portfolio, with seven good old essential stocks!
Inflation accelerating? Temporary. Supply chain disruptions? A passing moment. Market nervousness? Transitory.
The US suffered from 30 recessions in the last 150 years, and thus, 30 transitory times between recession and expansion. What can we learn from the past?
As Usain Bolt once said, “All I have to do is work on transition and technique.”
Ahhh, the simple scientific world of René Descartes! Single cause, single effect. In the economic world however, this unfortunately is not the case. One cause can even bring about two opposite effects.
A devaluation, for example, usually produces a deterioration in the external accounts first and then an improvement second. Economists call this phenomenon the “J-curve.”
However for more than 20 years, the financial policies of developed economies have turned the page upside down. The “J” has become an “η.” Immediate relief and pain for tomorrow.
The tapering in view of the US Federal Reserve now raises the question: Would “tomorrow” be the end of the summer?
Are there laws in economics as well as in physics? We say yes, absolutely. Just like gravitation, classical mechanics, thermodynamics, and even quantum mechanics.
To understand this phenomenon requires a bit of imagination. In particular, a new status of law, which does not find its foundation in an external Platonic world but rather the self-organization of individuals. Here, we state a new scientific law governing a living society: rats in a cage, or «The Law of Diving Rats.”
This example introduces Econophysics.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine lost his tennis racket on the highway. The racket fell right out of his bag attached to the back of his motorcycle. He quickly took the first exit, returned to the spot, pulled his motorbike into the emergency lane, and spotted his racket lying there on the highway. Did he end up crossing the road to retrieve it?
Managing risk does not mean forecasting.
Will the financial market crash?
This is anyone’s guess; the future is unpredictable. But what about the risk?
Given the inflationary shock on oil developing month after month, the odds of a 50% drawdown on the S&P 500 have been multiplied by a factor of 100.
For seven months in a row, Gavekal-IS macro, monetary, and behavioral models remained very equity-friendly, serene as a Tibetan monk. In the meantime, Gavekal-IS publications displayed a series of macroeconomic warning signals building up for a potential climax around August or September. See for instance February’s “Inflation: The Equity Nightmare,” and “US PE Expansion: Game Over!” publications, and May’s “Economic Boom and Financial Bust.”
Today, Gavekal-IS models crossed the Rubicon: criticality is ahead, risk-off!
Countries that have found the optimal balance between freedom and equality benefit today from the highest revenue per capita, as shown in our last publication, “Equality vs. Freedom.” They are all located in Northern Europe, slighting extending to Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg as well.
What is their secret?
Our previous publication, “The Equation of Willingness,” highlights a missing equation from the Modern Portfolio Theory driving economic performance. The equation balances economic freedom and market integration. The first term favors a Schumpeterian growth, while the second, a Ricardian growth.
In this letter, we experiment with the equation throughout the world to identify countries and economic zones that have found the optimal trade-off for value creation.
And the winner is… Northern Europe.