2014 For Equities

Dow is up more than 5% five consecutive years now. A sixth such year has not happened before in history. A 5-year bull trend only occurred once before, in the 1990s, and was followed by 3 down years. Russell 2k rallies of similar size and duration to 2013’s (excluding accelerations from major bear lows) are shown below. In each case all the gains were given back the following year.

22dece1

Source: Fat-Pitch

2014 is the second year in the Presidential cycle, and is the weakest historically by returns, averaging flat. The logic for this is that is it a time for governments to deploy tougher, unpopular policies. The Investors Intelligence bull-bear ratio currently exceeding 40% also forecasts a flat return for the SP500 by the end of 2014, by averaging history, whilst the II bear percentage alone, around 15% the last 4 weeks, has historically produced returns of -5% to -20% over the next 6 months.

The Citigroup Panic/Euphoria Model, having crossed the Euphoria threshold, predicts an 83% chance of losses in 2014. Goldman’s analysis of performance following a year of 25% gains or more point to a median drawdown of 11% in the next 12 months.

Next is a chart highlighting a couple of previous occurrences similar to 2012 and 2013 where stock index rises were dominated by multiple expansion, not earnings growth.

22dece3Source: Fat-Pitch

In both instances the following two years saw better earnings growth. But notably the next two years were 1987, stock market crash, and 1999, at the end of which the Dow peaked, suggesting a common theme of pre-correction exuberance.

Both the following charts reveal that 10 year stock market returns are closely correlated to deviations from norms 10 years earlier. The first correlates average investor allocations and the second market cap to GDP. I have added the blue horiztonal line averages, revealing both are overvalued currently, but one more extreme than the other.

22dece4

Source: Philosophical Economics22dece5Source: Hussman

The logic behind both is that mean reversion always occurs. The bigger the deviation build the bigger the subsequent normalisation, as ‘this time is different’ each time is disproven. For US markets currently, we see the second highest market cap to GDP valuation outside of 2000, the 4th highest Q ratio valuation and 4th highest CAPE valuation in history. In all the other such historic outliers, a bear market followed to correct the extreme, there was no orderly consolidation of prices whilst the underlying fundamentals accelerated to catch up. ‘This time is different’ thinking argues that because the Fed has suppressed cash and bond yields, equities have to be revalued higher, so this valuation outlier doesn’t count, and there will be an orderly normalisation of valuation as earnings and GDP will accelerate and yields rise slowly, without any crash in equities.

Interesting to discover that the rally in the 1990s was also at the time considered to be Fed-induced and prolonged. Also interesting to find out that the rally in 1980s, where price also accelerated beyond earnings, was achieved in the opposite environment to today where bond yields were record high and twice as high as equity yields at the time. So for no risk, investors could choose bonds at twice the yield, but still went big into equities as they were at historically cheap valuations and were bought up to mean reversion. Today, investors can choose equities at higher yield than bonds, but equities are conversely at historically expensive valuations. No ‘revaluation’ was required in the 80s, so maybe none is required today and equities will be sold down to mean reversion.

Spikes in margin debt and net investor credit balances to extremes have never previously been resolved in an orderly manner, always leading to bear markets or sharp corrections (as in 2011).

20dece4Source: STA Wealth

If ‘this time is different’ we would need to see an orderly reduction in leverage whilst lots of new buyers come to market. But recall through demographics, net investor populations are shrinking across USA, Europe and China, and this is reflected in declining trading volumes.

11dece3We therefore have a gradually thinning investor population, which adds weight to the likelihood of the current leverage excess spike being resolved in the usual historic manner, namely a deep correction or bear market.

However, in the near term, we could yet see more equities allocation and potentially even more leverage. How much higher could equities run before a bear market or a proper correction erupts? I say proper correction, because none of the pullbacks in 2013 have displayed the usual correction characteristics in terms of depth, duration, and flush-out or spike in breadth and vix. They have been shallow pullbacks, with keen buy-up. To this prolonged lack of correction we can add the deviation in distance above the 200MA of the major indices, the excessive bullish sentiment and the current divergences in breadth, and history is fairly compelling in suggesting high risk of a sharp correction. But again, the question is when, and from how much higher?

The 2007 top in US equities was marked by a steeper ascent in the last 12 months of the bull, but this is beaten in steepness by 2013’s rally. In fact, stocks have moved into a parabolic pattern:

20dece12Source: Sy Harding

Parabolic rises are typically resolved in a crash of similar steepness and depth. Comparisons to 1929 are valid if we consider the parabolic ascent, exuberance extremes in valuations, leverage and debt extremes, and a ‘this time is different’ mantra. Where 1929 differs is that it was the culmination of an economic boom with a demographic dividend. The current episode is neither.

History suggests a combination of internals degradation, buyer exhaustion and one or more ‘triggers’ are the likely terminators of a parabolic bull. We see breath divergence, but this should yet degrade further. In a normal topping process, there would be thinnest participation at the final push, but if this is a parabolic top, then we should see increasing divergence as we move higher. There is evidence of buyer exhaustion in sentiment and leverage extremes. We lack the trigger or triggers for the shift in perception. One potential trigger is the earnings season in January, as negative guidance is at a record extreme. A second is that the boost in GDP due to inventory build is likely to be reversed ahead as inventories give-then-take. A third potential trigger is if we see evidence that the current pick up in growth turns out to be a peak in growth rather than a new dawn.

22dece6Source: Moneymovesmarkets

The above chart is derived from OECD’s leading indicators and predicts a peak in industrial output between Dec and Feb.

The case that we are in a new secular bull market for equities relies on growth picking up in a meaningful way from here. For forward earnings calculations to be valid, GDP next year would have to average over 3% for the year and earnings growth come in around 10%. If global growth were to pick up, then we would likely see relative outperformance in emerging market equities and in commodities relative to developed market equities, as both are at relative cheapness to the latter and both are beneficiaries of a growth theme.

However, the history of demographics suggest a sustaining economic revival is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future. Collective demographic trends in USA, Europe, other developed countries (aside Japan) and China are now both recessionary and deflationary, and we can see that in evidence below:

22dece9

Source: dattaman

22dece10

Source: Yardeni

The only G7 country in a positive inflationary trend is the only G7 country in a curent demographic tailwind window: Japan.

The demographic trends are pretty fixed on a medium term view, and historic evidence suggests that government / central bank intervention cannot force people to borrow or spend. Hence we see continued weakness in bank lending in Europe and the US, and real final sales of domestic product at previous recessionary levels.

5 years after the financial crisis, ZIRP is still in place across most of the developed world, and large QE programmes are still required in USA, UK and Japan. The global economy is fragile, and this puts it risk of rising bond yields and/or commodity price increases snuffing out any pick up in growth, as the former two tend to accompany the latter. The US cannot afford bond yields to rise much further because it would have a detrimental effect on interest sensitive sectors such as housing and autos (and also because of the servicing costs of its ballooning debt), whilst rising commodity prices, particularly energies, are input cost drags on all sectors.

To sum up, from a pure statistical perspective, removing any notion of the bigger picture, the probability for 2014 is at best a flat year for equities with a significant drawdown on the way, and at worst a significant down year. Stats are just a guide, but we see united predictions across a range of measures, drawn together at the top of the page.

However, when we look at similar episodes of stock market rises without earnings growth, similar outliers in stock market valuations to now (market cap to GDP, Q ratio, CAPE), similar historic spikes and extremes in margin debt, and similar extremes in bullish sentiment or euphoria as are currently in place, the same mirrors from history keep cropping up: 1929, 1987, 2000, 2007. Together, these signals point to something more historic and devastating at hand, and the ‘fundamentals’ for that occurring are provided by demographics. Yet the bullish momentum of the market and ‘this time is different’ thinking (Fed trumps all, equities need revaluing due to suppressed bonds and cash yields) are making for widespread complacency about (and dismissal of) the parallels.

Whilst we should not overly rely on any one indicator or discipline, it’s the collective case that gives me such conviction on the short side (disclosure: short stock indices). Now do me a favour and give me a convincing case below for why equities will rise in 2014.

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Charts To Start The Week

Last week, stock indices largely printed bearish shooting star candles (on a weekly view, up into and on FOMC output then reversal of gains Thu and Fri), which also looks like a potential lunar inversion, and a potential important Equinox reversal too. The Equinox was 22 September to be precise, and Gann found this date/event often marked major tops in history (on or very close). Chris Kimble has also produced this (hat tip Gary) below, and notes last week produced an all-time record for inflows into equity funds worldwide:

23sep20136

Source: Chris Kimble

As various stock indices were at important breakout levels, and ended Friday retesting those levels (having jumped above then fallen around the FOMC), then a breakdown in the first part of this week would make things look more bearish, because we would have a shooting star fake-out and more of a trend supporting lunar / equinox reversal.

Chris Puplava pointed out overbought signals as other reasons for a pullback (although he still sees no threat to the ongoing bull market). I have added vertical lines to his summary picture to view more clearly what happened to the SP500 on previous occurences, namely sharp uptrends gave way to more sideways ranges:

23sep20131Underlying Source: Chris Puplava

Leading indicators remain overall positive. For example, US CB and ECRI leading indicators were both good readings last week. This is supportive for stocks. On the flip side, we have seen some breadth divergences, which would be one topping process sign, and we know margin debt is at lofty levels.

Here is the latest geomagnetism forecast (with lunar oscillation). Overall flattish, but with a slight upward bias. I noted previously that the lunar positive fortnight from today plus the relatively benign geomagnetism could make me long-biased. However, if we have seen a lunar inversion then we could see down rather than up this week, which would negate that edge.

23sep20138Let me bring in commodities. When stocks retreated in July/August we saw commodities gain interest, which was also a potential sign of a topping process in stocks, as historically we have seen commodities rally last as (and after) stocks top out. Since then we have seen money flow back the other way. This is how we stand on the CCI and CRB commodity indices:

23sep20133

23sep20132Underlying Source: Bloomberg

Hopefully it is evident from the two charts combined that commodities have the potential to break into a bull rally here. However, it is just potential, and time is of the essence. If the CRB is to break upwards then it has to make the current backtest of the breakout stick, and pull upwards from here.

Here is the US dollar index. See how it has arched over and is now threatening breakdown. A bearish break would benefit commodities and provide one ingredient for that potential rally.

23sep20135Underlying Source: INO

Also, here is a chart from Chris Carolan showing how the Euro has the potential to escalate against the USD based on relative central bank money printing:

http://spiralcalendar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/092213eurbal.gif

As the Euro is the biggest component of the US Dollar index, that then is a possible breakdown catalyst.

Another factor for commodities is China, as their biggest consumer. Today’s Markit manufacturing PMI came in at 51.2, a 6-month high for China. The stock market has also picked up the last two months and has the potential to run up to the top of this channel:

23sep20134Underlying Source: Cobra / Stockcharts

The most bearish assets (in terms of public opinion) of the current period are corn, wheat, oats, soybean oil and coffee – all agricultural commodities. The volatiility index for stocks (Vix), and treasury bonds, are down with them at bearish extremes. So, if we are to see a mean reversion – which is likely, but the timing is the difficult part – then it would be into commodities and out of stocks (Vix rises).

Lastly on commodities, my solar maximum correlations remain potentially in play, if the smoothed solar maximum is ahead of us. Sunspots are back up to the 100-mark currently so the sun is showing some life again, and certain analysts predict another sunspot peak ahead around the turn of the year. I have established that experts typically agree on the solar maximum once the solar magnetic flip is complete on both poles. The sun’s north pole switched polarity in May 2012, but the south pole flip is still ahead and likely within the next few months. So we should know for sure by Q1 2014. Either an end of year sunspots rally will produce a new smoothed maximum for SC24, before the final polar flip, or the pole will flip and Feb 2012 will be cemented as the solar max. By my research, a commodities rally over the next 6 months to a new index peak would fit with the former, not the latter.

In summary, the research for this post has produced a bias against stocks and pro commodities. As you know I am long commodities so disclaimer as always. However, I was also net long equities and have taken some profits on the long side. If stocks rally to new highs this week, and on good breadth, then much of the bearish case would be negated. If commodities sag further into the end of September, the rally potential in the commodity indices would fade.

Weekend Research

Time for a more in-depth post.

1. SOLAR CYCLES

By my work the secular (more accurately demographic or anti-demographic) asset class should be bid to a peak in a solar-inspired speculation blow-off close to the solar maximum, which for this solar peak should be commodities to round off a decade long (plus) bull market. If the smoothed solar max has passed and was Feb 2012 and the CCI commodities index made its ultimate peak April/May 2011 then neither should now be exceeded. If this turns out to be the case in hindsight, once the solar max has been agreed, then the commodities peak would have occurred 9 months prior to the solar peak and would within normal parameters to continue to validate the theory.

24sep3

Source: Gary Tanashian / Stockcharts

If, alternatively, the solar peak is ahead late 2013 into early 2014 (which is SIDC’s second option, and also Leif Svalgaard’s prediction – shown below), then that 2011 CCI peak is too far away and if the theory is correct we should get another commodities peak closer to the solar peak, which would mean a higher peak in the CCI ahead. We have the possible seed for this in a fledgling CCI uptrend following a base established in July/Aug 2013 together with their historic performance as late cyclicals in what is possibly a cyclical topping process in equities occurring. However, this CCI uptrend is currently tentative, devoid of momentum and without broad participation thus far. The dips in oil and precious metals at the end of this week cast further doubt for now, but their drops coincided with money flowing back into equities. If equities are in a topping process then money should flow back to commodities in due course as they go outperform as late cyclicals. I would suggest the higher peak in CCI to be possible as speculative money pours in, under these easy money conditions globally. ZIRP and QE may not be able to generate growth but they can generate bubbles.

24sep4Source: Leif Svalgaard / WattsUpWithThat

If the first alternative turns out correct, and both the solar peak and commodities peak are behind us, then historically we have seen a new long term bull market in equities underway at this point, and the current easy money conditions could spell big momentum into equities (which would be the polar opposite to the second alternative of equities in a new bear and commoditites sharply rising, thus vital to call correctly). However, my demographic research shows that this is unlikely to be the case, at least not yet, as the positive demographic support for a new global secular stocks bull is absent. Indeed, the collective demographic trends of the major economies, bar Japan, are in an unprecedented collective downtrend.

2. DEMOGRAPHICS

This brings me to the question of whether central bank policy actions have been aggressive and potent enough to compensate for demographic headwinds. If that were to be the case then perhaps an enduring stocks bull and sticking economic growth could be achieved, albeit only whilst ZIRP and QE are maintained. I can very much recommend a read of the next link, which nicely summarises what QE can and can’t do and what Japan’s most-aggressive-to-date QE is likely to achieve:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/137092515/Richard-Koo-Quantitative-and-Qualitative-Easing-2013-04-16

In a nutshell, QE and ZIRP aren’t that potent as they cannot force people and companies to borrow or spend or invest. In the 1990s Japan tried to offset demographic downtrends with QE and ultra low rates and other stimulus tools. Even though most of the major economies were in demographic uptrends in that period (with booming asset markets and economies), this positive global environment AND these central bank actions were not enough to get people and companies to borrow, spend or invest.

I have overlaid the overall US demographic trend against Doug Short’s real US GDP growth chart here:

24sep1

Underlying Source: Dshort

The yellow dots reveal that real US GDP is currently lower than any previous recession start point. I suggest this shows the relative impotence of QE and ZIRP, and would argue that the demographic downtrend which should be in place for the bulk of this decade, suggests that real GDP growth level should fall negative again in the near future and another recession kick in. The question is whether this occurs with or without the tipping help of a speculative rally in commodities.

Here is the same for Japan: real GDP growth versus overall demographic trend.

24sep2Underlying Source: Economonitor

By demographics, Japan should be able to nurse along positive real GDP growth for the next few years. It should also be able to succeed in stopping price deflation:

23jun10Source: Andrew Cates

Note that both should be feasible by demographics alone, without ‘Abenomics’. The demographic trends for Japan mean that we should see underlying growth, price stabilisation, and rising asset markets, which I believe will be touted as positive results of Abenomics when in fact largely written by the demographic change of trend.

3. JAPANESE EQUITIES

So is Japan a buy? Not all recent economic data has been supportive, but manufacturing and service PMIs are indeed in runs of positive growth, revealing underlying economic improvement. The Yen and Japanese bonds both dropped sharply following the launch of Abenomics but have since retraced some. However, the Yen now appears to have broken down out of a bear flag, whilst Japanese bond yields are shaping for a higher low and a potential push on from there. The Nikkei also consolidated following the big run up earlier in the year, but has now broken upwards out of two consolidation patterns shown:

24sep6The line you can see coming into picture at the very top is the 2-decade declining resistance, the containment of the long term bear. I believe a retest of this should be on the cards and I have decided to add to playing Japan equities on the long side. However, if US equities are in a multi-month topping process and soon to enter a new cyclical bear market, then I would not expect Japanese equities to go their own way, only rather to relatively outperform, which would mean decline less. Nonetheless, a new bull market in Japanese equities is belated relative to demographics and I feel happy here trying to make profits on the long side – expecting any downside is more limited than other markets – whilst still trying to assess where US and global stocks are headed. The supporting evidence for Japanese equities to rise should come in real GDP, real economic improvement, and indeed an underlying bid in Japanese risk asset markets. So I will continue to watch the data releases.

4. USA

So back to the US. Here is the latest picture for ECRI leading indicator growth:

24sep7Source: Dshort / ECRI

ECRI leading indicator growth fell beneath zero prior to each recession shown in grey. The break into the negative often historically occurred close to the stock market topping, with stocks typically being a leading indicator of the economy. We can see there have been several breaks beneath zero that did not give way to a recession, not least the fairly deep fall in 2011 that helped ECRI (incorrectly) announce a recession. However, my take on the current reading of 4.1 is that we should see this fall towards zero if we are to see a cyclical bear erupt in equities and a recession to occur ahead. This growth measure has been in a declining trend since early 2013, so to add weight to an equities top being formed, we should continue to see this dropping. For now though, this leading indicator, and other leading indicators (such as Recession Alert or Conference Board) point to continued economic growth into year-end.

Weak but sustained growth and low rates are typically a good environment for equities, which would be a framework for equities to move higher and reveal the consolidation since May as digestion in an ongoing cyclical bull. In supportive of this, the Nasdaq is now convincingly at new highs for this cyclical bull, and the Dax is back testing its high-to-date (which is also the all-time nominal high). If other indices break up and away from the ‘topping range’ then we would be looking to 2014 for a cyclical top as a multi-month topping process would have to start over. As noted in a recent post we have some evidence for a topping process in play since May, but also some normal signs missing. This should be resolved one way or the other soon.

5. COMMODITIES AND BONDS

Which brings me to the two main threats to the economy and the equities cyclical bull: excessive inflation from sharp rises in commodity prices and/or excessive tightening from rising rates in escalating bond yields. Bond yields in the major economies continue to rise albeit from low levels. If economic growth persists further and the Fed begins to taper QE then we could expect yields to continue to rise. Historically, the tipping point has been when 10 year treasury yields hit 6%, however today’s demographic and debt interest pressures mean that trouble level is likely to be lower.

Regarding commodities, the most important is oil, as quick major escalations in oil prices have historically correlated with tipping the economy into recession, due to its importance as an input in so many processes. Despite the slack and weakness in the global economy, crude prices have hung around the $100 level the last 3 years. A speculative move into this asset, for any number of reasons, could under current easy money conditions swiftly lead to $125 oil, which I believe would really test a demographically-challenged weak global economy.

On the flip side, the same demographic trends could further erode commodity demand and also limit the exit from bonds. Further commodity price drops, together with yields stabilising relatively low, would again provide the backdrop for equities to march on and economic growth to persist – unless the potency of the collective demographic downtrends drag the economy down into recession on their own.

If Martin Pring’s normal historic topping order is playing out, then we have seen the top in bonds already, we should now see evidence of equities topping and of a transfer in momentum to commodities which should make a peak last as the economy rolls over. This would imply yields and commodities rise despite demographics, and for my work this would be a better fit if the solar peak were still ahead at the turn of 2013/14, with commodities making a final and bigger peak in the months around that.

I believe evidence in support of or against this could become clearer as soon as next week, watching the markets’ reactions to the FOMC output. Some mild tapering is being widely touted as a done deal, but the size and the wording we don’t know. Regardless, I expect a big reaction in the markets and it will be telling how commodities, precious metals and the US dollar, fare afterwards. If commodities are going to make a final big rally then the tentative uptrend of the last couple of months should cement and a US dollar breakdown out of its long term triangle (see HERE) would be a great partner for such a development.

6. TRADING

We are over 3/4 of the way through the year and my PnL is currently showing my worst year of performance to date since going full time, due to the run against commodities longs this year, particularly precious metals. This would repair itself if commodities did begin an uptrend in the last couple of months and now continue into year end, but it could yet go worse if they are in a bear market since 2011 and have further falls ahead. So I have decided to use the Autumn to do what I can to make sure of a good result by year-end. This means I am going to add shorter term trading to my game in this period, whilst running the more medium-term-focused global macro positions. Short trades are something I’ve done before, but not for some time due to success (and personal preference) with the longer term methods. So, I just wanted to share with you that this is what I’m going to be doing different. I am looking for liquid markets that I can play more aggressively for quick gains. So I am looking for candidates amongst the major markets that I can play confidently repeatedly either long or short (i.e. fundamentals/technicals align in favour of one way or the other), and this will include increasing exposure if movement goes the other way. One such play-thing is going to be the Nikkei on the long side, as mentioned above. I am going to pour over some other markets (stock indices, commodities, fx) to find others that I consider suitable, so will share when I decide. You may disagree with my choices and indeed the method, but I’m just sharing what I’m doing, and will let you know the results.

One last thing. Almost all my money is in sterling and I am looking to transfer this to Euros, now I am in Austria. The EUR-GBP exchange rate has therefore become part of my daily watch. A one cent movement in either direction makes a massive difference when considering the amount I am going to be transferring and getting this ‘right’ is as important as my other trading, in terms of the impact on my wealth. So I’ll share my current thoughts, but if any reader is more of a regular in the FX market, please step forward and share your knowledge.

EURGBP has been in a large declining channel since the start of 2009, with the last 3 year snippet shown below. In July of this year the Euro tried to break out, as the Eurozone recovery became more apparent, but it turned out to be a fake-out, and recently UK economic data has surprised to the upside, which has helped not only turn it back down into the channel but also break down beneath the rising Euro support shown. The Pound is fairly overbought now versus the Euro and EURGBP spent last week trying to base. However on Friday there was a further breakdown in favour of the Pound, taking the pair beneath 84. The latest UK inflation data is out this coming week which should influence the pair one way or another, however I believe that ultimately the Euro can drop further here against the Pound, given the technical developments and the change in the fundamental backdrop, and I’m going to hold out for 82- at this point and will review.

24sep8

Macro And Markets

It’s the start of the lunar negative fortnight today. I think this lunar downward pressure can be realised in price action in US equities, for these reasons.

1. Bonds may put in a rally here. Yields look to be arching over.

8aug20131Source: Sentimentrader

2. Rydex equities involvement and sentiment at contrarian levels:

8aug20133

Source: Sentimentrader

3. Diverging bullish percent over call put ratio – note the previous occurences here:

8aug20134Source: Stockcharts

4. Breadth divergence. There are a few indicators showing this such as % stocks above 50MA, Mclellan Summation index, and, here, advance-declines (making a double top versus the higher high in equity prices):

8aug20135Source: Cobra

No devastating decline in overall market internals. but enough to warrant a pullback. Countering this, the latest economic surprises, service PMI and manufacturing PMI, and overall earnings beat rate for the US have all been good. For a cyclical stock market top, we would need to start seeing some degradation in such data. However, if this is a topping process, then I expect we are only in the middle of it at this point, with a last push up to come ahead into September (assuming a decline can be realised over the next 2 weeks). By September I would then expect to see some macro reasons emerging to complete a topping process in equities.

I have doubled my short position on the Dow today and have specifically tallked about and targeted US equities because of the current divergence around the globe. The latest Markit PMIs really showed a vast difference between emerging and developed economies. Sober Look suggests this spread in economic cycle positioning:

8aug20137

Source: SoberLook

UK and Eurozone are looking particularly impressive and USA ticking along nicely. Australia has suffered since China lost momentum, and its central bank reduced rates again this week. This is the collective picture for the major central banks:

8aug20136

Source: Action Forex

Despite the QE tapering talk in the US, the graphic shows that we are still in an era of easing, with interest rate reduction still being pursued. As you know, I believe demographic trends are the source of the global economic weakness, ensuring we will be in an era of negligible rates for some time. Maybe the Fed will start to taper as early as next month, but I believe an end to QE and a renewed rate-increase policy will not be seen soon.

So, China has cracked, in my opinion, since its demographic trends reversed circa 2010. Those developing nations that boomed directly as China partners and those commodity-economies that benefitted from the long rising trends in commodity prices (through China demand) are currently suffering. This would include Brazil and Russia. India’s issues have been more internal and it needs reforms to help realise its demographic potential.

For most of the 2000s, this China plus emerging markets story was the fuel for the global economy, but now we are looking back towards the developed world to take the batton. Unfortunately, the US and Europe have significant demographic headwinds. I therefore don’t believe that we are now going to see sustained growth in the West. I continue to believe that either another rally in commodities will tip the world into a global recession, or the world is heading that way in a deflationary trend.

And that remains the key question for my account. Will my commodities longs prosper, or continue to sink? Right now, the commodities indices are potentially carving out a higher low than late June, which could spell an end to their downtrend. I believe this is the time for that to occur, because of my belief that equities are in a topping process. Historically they should now outperform and largely act as late cyclicals. I see this next month as critical for commodities. If they cannot make a higher low than June at this point, paricularly as the USD weakens, then it would look bearish for commodities.

Here is corn, showing a potential rally set up.

8aug20132Source: Sentimentrader

And copper looks to be breaking out following a month-long basing pattern.

To draw the above themes together, can emerging markets strengthen into year-end, positively-infected by current developed economy performance? If so, the commodities rally would appear more likely. If on the other hand developed markets begin to join emerging economies in weakness, then a deflationary downdraft would be more likely. The wildcards remain the solar cycle (if the peak is ahead, then a speculative push in commodities could occur with increased geopolitical conflict an associated input) and climate (drought, flood and very high historical temperatures remain very much in play – it depends whether we see a devastating coming-together at the critical time and global location for agricultural crops).

OECD leading indicators just released today are more supportive to the first scenario of emerging markets strengthening and joining developed nations, with Russia stabilising and India improving:

8aug20138

8aug20139Source: OECD

Top 10 Sites

A quick update. A reversal of a reversal yesterday in pro-risk, so let’s see if we now get a further reversal to increase the picture of a topping process, or whether we can reach higher into next week. The geomagnetic disturbance ended and no follow up is expected. II sentiment moved a little more bullish but still more neutral than extreme, whereas AAII sentiment dropped from the bullish extreme. Economic Surprises advanced again, both for the US and Major Economies. Greek CDSs have flared again, as we approach the debt payment deadline without a resolution, but optimism for progress has increased overnight. The Natural Gas price got a lift yesterday on declining inventories, and shows some evidence of a bottoming pattern. However, stocks remain excessive compared to historic ranges.

OK, I have compiled a list of my top 10 current sites that I draw upon for trading. It’s not definitive – I view and rate others too – and it’s not in any order. It’s also a fluid list – slightly different to this time last year and most likely tweaked again by this time next year. But it takes time to filter who is consitently reliable and who offers genuinely useful tools, so I share mine here, and hope that you’ll add in the comments below your own unmissables.