"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Godzilla Destroys Tokyo

I thought that might be a catchy title because what happens across the markets, whenever we get one of these Fed Chair Testimony days, is more like what happens to Tokyo every time Godzilla goes on one of his rages.

Most people think they know what is going to be said and when the Fed Chair surprises or disappoints, then we get all sorts of market reactions.

The "surprise" today ( and I am hesitant to call it that) was that Janet Yellen and the rest of the Fed do not seem particularly worried about inflation. Ms. Yellen rightfully ( in my opinion ) pointed to the labor markets and the slack that remains in there. Frankly I wonder why anyone was the least bit surprised about that. It is widely known that while the labor markets are slowly, incrementally improving, they are anything but robust right now.

Also, take yet another look at the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, which I have been keenly focusing on for the last week or so. It is plunging lower.

With the collapse in grain prices, and now with the crude oil complex surrendering much of its "geopolitical or fear" premium, energy prices are moving lower.

Those two big sectors have pulled the entire commodity index into negative territory on the year. With slack remaining in the labor markets and with sinking commodity prices, it is difficult to make the case that inflation is a serious concern.

This is what has concerned me about gold. It has moved higher recently solely based on geopolitical fears ( I am including the Portuguese bank situation in there) but as far as an inflation hedge, how can one argue that one needs to buy gold to protect against inflation right now when the commodity sector as a whole is moving lower? Those geopolitical events can provide support for the metal but once those events fade from traders' minds, then there is not much left to support these higher prices.

You can point to the Dollar but like so many of the major currencies right now, it is stuck in a range trade and is certainly not collapsing lower.

Some will buy gold as protection or a type of safe haven against falling equity prices but so far, stocks while they have bent, have not broken.

As to be expected on a day during which gold is falling in price, we will get the usual " someone is dumping huge quantities of gold" nonsense, as if somehow that is evidence that the feds are knocking the gold price lower,  but if the market perception, aided by the Fed Chairwoman, is that inflation is not a serious problem, then it is to be expected that gold would be sold off. If the entire commodity complex is moving lower, why not gold? We could all make the same breathless exclamation, "Someone is dumping huge quantities of crude oil on the market". Does that imply that some nefarious evildoer is working to depress the price of crude oil? Of course not!

These continuous, simplistic notions that pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain every single time gold makes a sharp move lower, do a huge disservice to objective market observers and betray a naivety that borders on ignorance. Markets are constantly in a state of flux and perceptions change daily, sometimes within the day. Why should we expect markets to be stagnant? That is what makes trading/investing so very challenging. Perceptions are constantly changing and we have to adjust to these changes if we are to be successful. One gets the idea in reading the stuff from some of the gold perma bull sites, that nothing ever changes in markets in regards to how players see things on any given day.

When markets change - good traders change. It is that simple.

Take a look at the weekly chart of corn and you will see what I mean when I speak of falling grain prices. Corn prices are at a near 4 year low. There is a good possibility that they could fall even further as it has now entered what was a former congestion zone back in 2010. The bottom of that zone is near $3.40.

This will have big implications for food costs as it will work to eventually bring down meat and poultry prices later this year and certainly by Q1 2015.

Crude fell below the psychologically important $100/bbl level today. It just so happens that this level coincides very closely to the 200 day moving average, a big technical level, so the downside breach of $100 is not only a psychological blow to this market, but it is also a big technical blow. Crude is currently holding in the first support zone noted. If it loses the lower edge of that and cannot recover it, it should fall another $1.00.

I will get some more up later on... it is a bit busy right now....