15 August 2008

Four Scenarios for the US Dollar and Equity Rallies

As you may have noticed we have been experiencing a powerful counter-trend rally in the US dollar and financials assets including stocks, especially the financials and the broader indices like the Russell, and the US Bonds. Certain commodities like oil, gold and silver have gotten beaten like a rented mule. Why has this occurred with such sudden power?

Here are several scenarios worth considering.

  1. Short Squeeze and Forced Liquidation: The "sell dollar and buy energy and metals" trade had become vastly overdone, the big players noticed this, and are using their Wall Street ways to force out the funds and specs that were holding this trade. We consider this a high probability because of the sharpness and violence of the move which has all the hallmarks of a forced liquidation and short covering. Considering that this move has been progressing on low summer volumes during the Olympics in China lends credibility to a calculated trading gambit.

    There may also be some government intervention involved over the short term as a 'spark.' There is a disinformation effort tied to specific objectives, such as option expiration and unloading 'dog stocks' along with the usual mindless optimism of the prompter readers. The banks may be intentionally crowding out the hedge funds from short term liquidity for a trade, since they don't have many other sources of income and they require the capital anyway. 'Betraying your customer when the chips are down' is a time honored tradition on the Street, face-ripping-wise. And most importantly so far the moves are well within the parameters of corrective rallies on most of the charts, especially the dollar, stocks and gold.

  2. Government Sponsored Reflation: In contrast to a simpler government intervention, a government sponsored reflation is a longer term effort to lift the markets against the tide through the judicious application of liquidity in repetitive tranches of less than three months overlapping. On our long term Dow chart we have identified a couple periods after the 2000-2002 tech bust that we consider reflationary attempts by the US Treasury and the Fed that inflated bubbles in various markets including stocks and housing. This is a medium probability.

    It will increase in probability if the market continues to rally with liquidity efforts and new asset bubbles begin to appear. The rallies coincidence with the operation in Georgia which had the marks of a Bushco calculated event lends some credibility to this as well as the first scenario.

  3. Goldilocks is back in town: The US economy is ahead of the rest of the world in getting past its credit crisis and restoring soundness to its financial system. The recession will be mild and short lived. The markets are anticipating the US advantage of grossly distorting its economic statistics versus Europe's relative honest reporting. This is a low probability.

    The data just does not support an improving economy in the forseeable future. Ben and Hank will botch the rescue effort required for this scenario and activate scenario 2, handing the next president a serious problem. If its McCain we'll just go to war to take our minds off our problems. If its Obama, we'll have a lot of fireside chats to keep us warm in the winter winds that blow through our ruined economy.

  4. Prelude to a Crash: It is a little premature to discuss this scenario further with charts and examples unless the stock market reverses hard in a 'rally that fails.' We're keeping a close eye on it. The probability may move very quickly from low to high if we see the 'right moves.' It has a nice cynical irony of betrayal of the public trust once again by the financial sector as well. But it is unlikely as of now. But we wanted to make you aware of it, because the elements for this to form are all there, despite the oncoming Presidential election.
We'll have to see what happens to assess the situation further. But it is apparent that the US financial system is badly in need of reform and responsible adult supervision. Truth, accountability, and vigilant justice are among the commodities in the shortest supply.