"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


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Whiplash in Crude

If you ever wanted proof that the Federal Reserve has become the single largest source of market volatility, chaos and confusion, take one look at the following hourly chart of Crude Oil.

Notice that crude was moving higher prior to the announcement at the 1:00 PM Central Time hour. When they news hit about them standing pat, it rocketed higher, pulling gasoline along for the ride. The move was good for a full $2.00/barrel add on to the price.

Why did this happen? Because computer algorithms from the hedge funds started buying everything in sight without asking any questions. If it was not nailed down, they bought it. The so-called reason cited was that the policy not changing was inflationary.

Excuse me - but we have had 5 years of QE now and we still have yet to see the inflationary fruits of these policies. The reasons are numerous but most important is the fact that the jobs market in this nation is comatose. We are learning with the passing of each day the crippling effects of this most misnamed piece of legislation that was shoved down our throats, namely, the AFFORDABLE CARE act. What a pile of hooey!  Everywhere one looks health insurance costs are going up, not down and more and more we learn that employers are cutting hours and health care benefits as a result of this abomination. Hell, even the President's union buddies want no part of this monstrosity after they were among its loudest cheerleaders back in 2010.

The labor market is weak and consumers just do not seem to be in any mood to saddle themselves with loads of debt anymore. Low rates - courtesy of this QE help consumer borrowing ( as well as business borrowing ) but many consumers who are working several part times jobs to make ends meet  are in no hurry to bury themselves under a debt load again. Along that line I recently read somewhere that the NUMBER ONE dream of most Americans is no longer owning their own home but rather has become one of being debt free! That is a stunner and reflects just how pessimistic the nation at large has become as they watch the slow disintegration of their country.

Regardless, the crude oil market completely gave up any gains related to yesterday's fund buying orgy and actually lost ground sinking below the launch point generated by the FOMC release.

Here is the thing with crude as I see it - while some want to look at the crude oil market as a natural recipient of hot money playing the inflation psyche I see it as a huge drag on the national economy. Think about it - we have report after report, as noted above, of folks unable to obtain full time employment. So many are being forced to take two or even three part time jobs in order to pay their bills. What do you think happens to the spending habits of such folks when they pull their automobile or truck into the gasoline station to fill up and look with dismay at the rising price of gasoline which will not stay down for long? I have a buddy of mine up here who filled up his truck the other day with diesel ( it has duel tanks) and had the "satisfaction" of getting away with spending "only" $150.

That is money that has to be spent if he is to get around to work. That is a huge chunk of cash for most folks to have to plop down on the counter in order to keep their wheels turning. What is left over from their dwindling disposable income then must be stretched into paying higher medical insurance premiums which are now rising all across the country in every single state. You tell me that these things are somehow NOT A DRAG on the growth of the US economy! Of course they are.

The way I see this crude oil market is that it is the battleground for the war between the deflationists and the inflationists.

This is also one of the reasons I keep coming back to the overall commodity sector and watching the various commodity indices such as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index or as some prefer to watch, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB index. If the commodity complex as a whole cannot rally strongly and sustain those gains on the heels of this latest FOMC announcement, then I suspect gold is also going to be greeted with further selling on rallies once again as soon as the rash of short covering is finished.

Keep in mind something I have said here before - the recent gains in gold prior to the FOMC release of yesterday were driven PRIMARILY by large speculator short covering and NOT by the FRESH INFLOW OF NEW HOT MONEY. If gold is to maintain any rallies, and silver also for that matter, this must change. Speculators MUST feel the urgent need to acquire both metals at successively higher prices and be willing to commit wholeheartedly to their conviction if both of these markets are going to be able to sustain these rallies and actually trend higher.

While it is nice to see both metals moving higher, we are in no way out of the woods for either of them until we see some significant changes on the price charts, changes that involve the complete obliteration of overhead resistance zones that still loom quite large.

Let's give them some time before we render a verdict and watch the price action to see what we will get next before becoming too dogmatic. Personally I worry about gold when I see the HUI surrendering so much of yesterday's gains the very next day after the big FOMC-related rally. At the very least the gold mining stocks should have seen some upside follow through. Instead they sold off and moved lower. Until I see that 280 level give way on the chart of the HUI, call me a skeptic on these miners. I have that Missouri attitude - "SHOW ME"!

If at First you don't Succeed, Try, Try again

Okay - we knew this was coming but one day after the big FOMC announcement! Please, give me a break! What I am referring to is the new "call" from Goldman Sachs that Tapering will now start in December of this year. Yes, you read that right.

Remember, it was Goldman who just a short time ago came out with a prediction of a $10 billion "dovish" tapering (their words) in September and thus advised clients based on that to buy all dips in the US equity markets and the conditions for rising stocks would still remain in place in that sort of easy money environment.

Well, lo and behold this morning news greeted me that Goldman was predicting a Fed Tapering beginning with the December 18 meeting of the FOMC. They commented that there would be insufficient data at the October meeting to change the Fed's newly announced NON-TAPER but by December this year the Fed will move. They also are predicting a complete end of the program by September 2014.

This should be interesting to watch unfold to say the least. Goldman, as well as a lot of other large firms, received a major black eye as they completely misread the Fed. I guess watching stocks soar to new all time highs however is some pretty damned good consolation for them all!

By the way, give credit to those guys who did call for a non-action on the part of the Fed over at King World News, especially Egon for going out on a limb like he did.

I can tell you one thing as a trader - I simply get out of markets before major announcements like that. I can suggest possibilities but that is just what they are, possibilities. Trading on a guess is a quick way to the poor house. If you get it right - you are a hero. If you get it wrong, your account becomes a zero. That is not trading; it is gambling and there is a world of difference between the two things.