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The appointment of the cabinet should provide some clues to the direction of policy. Here are some of the key appointments that I am watching.
How much foreign affairs knowledge and experience will the Secretary of State have? What about the national security advisor? How protectionist will the Secretary of Commerce, or the Treasury Secretary be? The omens look iffy. While Corker served as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gingrich has little foreign affairs experience. The outlook on the trade front are not good. Ross is known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles.
Many of these industries were highly exposed to foreign competition. Neither is likely to be a friend of China on the subject of tariffs. Nothing will happen until Donald Trump moves into the White House. While geopolitical risk could blow up at any time after the Inauguration, the consequences of any protectionist policy is unlikely to show up until late at the earliest.
Looking to the week ahead, the biggest question for traders is whether the positive price momentum can continue. I wrote about the Zweig Breadth Thrust setup last week see The market has spoken! The market has until next Friday to complete the ZBT buy signal in the day time frame. The market paused in its advance on Thursday and Friday, but did not decline significantly, which is a constructive sign. The fact that the Dow has already made an all-time high is testament to the power of this latest buying stampede. Next week is also November option expiry.
Rob Hanna of Quantifiable Edges shows the statistics for November OpEx below, whose profitability is roughly average compared to all of the other months.
Such a reading is contrarian bullish. On the other hand, I highlighted the elevated level of fear in the term structure of the VIX Index last week. In the wake of the election sparked rally, the term structure has normalized and fear has receded. My head hurts.
I am confused. My inner investor remains bullish on equities, but the risks are rising and he is getting skittish.
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My inner trader is nervously long. He is crossing his fingers and hopes for the best, while preparing for the worst. This interpretation was made evident by the rally in the cyclically sensitive industrial metals, even as gold prices fell. As the chart below shows, the market is showing the combination of a fear unwind, indicated by the normalization of the VIX term structure from an inverted state, and two days where TRIN has dipped below 0. Such momentum have either resolved themselves into periods of extended bullish momentum, or fizzled out within a few days.
I went back to and looked at past episodes where such circumstances have repeated themselves. In , TRIN fell below 0. The market rose for two days and stalled.
In and late , stock prices continued to rise for quite some time after the two signals. There were several instances of these signals in Most stalled within a few days, but the last one in October marked the start of a sustained advance in stock prices. The market bottom in and saw several instances of this signal. Some were decent trading signals with advances that lasted for about a week.
More importantly, the market saw such a signal when it made its possible generational bottom in March So where does that leave us? The historical evidence indicates that the combination signal of buying stampedes as fear fades yields sustainable advances about one-third of the time. One way is to trade these episodes is to get long, but with tight trailing stop losses. As price momentum is the main component of these advances, there is another possible buy signal that the market could be setting us up for, namely the Zweig Breadth Thrust see Bingo!
We have a buy signal! Steven Achelis at Metastock explained the indicator this way:. According to Dr. Zweig, there have only been fourteen Breadth Thrusts since The average gain following these fourteen Thrusts was Zweig also points out that most bull markets begin with a Breadth Thrust. As the chart below shows, the ZBT Indicator second bottom panel, bottom panel a real-time estimate moved off its oversold level last Friday, which was day 1. The market therefore has 10 trading days to get the indicator up to Readers who want to follow along at home can use this link to get a real-time update.
Should we see an actual ZBT buy signal, there will undoubtedly be lots of skeptics as the market will be challenging or breaking out to new highs. Many traders will think that it will be too late to be buying. However, momentum thrusts are funny that way, as their strength can extend a lot further than you think. My inner investor remains constructive on equities. My inner trader was fortunate not to get stopped out of his long positions at the open this morning.
He remains long equities. As I write these words, there is pandemonium in the markets. My 16 year-old Canadian daughter received an offer of marriage over the internet from an American. Arguably, fear levels have already spiked and any panic selling could be viewed as a buying opportunity for stocks. These are readings consistent with short-term bottoms rather than the start of a sustained bear leg.
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The common threads that are likely to spook the markets are:. On the first issue of trade, the key question for investor is whether a slowdown in global trade under a Trump administration be enough to spark a recession. FT Alphaville highlighted research from UBS showing that global trade volumes have been flat for much of this decade left chart.
A recent study by the European Central Bank revealed the reasons for the slowdown:. The change in the global income elasticity of trade between the pre-crisis period and more recent years is found to be mainly driven by two developments. One source of change arises from compositional effects, such as the shift of growth in trade and economic activity towards economies with lower trade intensity, and changes in the composition of aggregate demand factors towards less trade-intensive components. These shifts are not necessarily structural and could reverse in part over the medium term.
The other source of change relates to structural factors that are altering the fundamental relationship between trade and economic activity, such as the degree of trade liberalisation and the reliance on global value chains GVCs. These tend to be slow-moving changes reflecting fundamental shifts in the economy. The main difference between these two sources is that the latter fundamentally changes the relationship between trade and economic activity at the level of individual countries or demand components, while the former changes the global income elasticity of trade by shifting the weight of activity among countries or demand.
In other words, the world had already picked the low hanging fruit of globalization. Greater globalization policies were in effect mining lower and lower grade ore. The markets will undoubtedly react in a knee-jerk fashion to the prospect of greater American protectionism, but if the benefits of globalization are already mostly played out, will it matter that much?
If US allies cannot unconditionally rely on American military help, then the markets will start to price in a higher possibility of conflict in global flash points such as the Baltic states Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia and the South China Sea. As this Credit Suisse historical study of asset returns shows, war can be devastating to asset prices if they lead to the permanent loss of capital. In those instances, you would be lucky to escape with your life and the value of your savings might be the least of your worries. There are silver linings to this dark cloud overhanging the markets.