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Are the Roaring 20's Back? Ed Yardeni Thinks They May Be.

Are the Roaring Twenties Back?

Ed Yardeni, former chief investment strategist at Deutsche Bank thinks they may be in a recent interview with Bloomberg senior columnist Merryn Somerset Webb. Ed Yardeni is a well-respected wall street veteran of 40+ years who has served as Chief Investment Strategist of Oak Associates, Prudential Equity Group, and Deutsche Bank. He was also the Chief Economist of C.J. Lawrence, Prudential Securities, and E.F. Hutton.

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What The HEC’onomy! Deciphering What is Actually Happening in The Economy and The Potential Implications - Part Two

In this second installment of "What the Hec'onomy. Deciphering what is going on in the economy and markets" we will examine what the impact of rate hikes have been to date as well as other market forces at work in the economy.

The Residential Real Estate Market

Let us start by looking at the residential real estate market. If you were a homeowner with a mortgage during the close to zero interest rate era, it is likely that you would have taken advantage of refinancing your home when 15- and 30-year fixed mortgage rates were in the 1.7-3.25% range. At today’s mortgage rates of 6-8% you are less likely to move if you do not have to for work or other pressing reasons. For homeowners in this category, mortgage related costs have not gone up, which means that their overall purchasing power has been less impacted.

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What The HEC’onomy! Deciphering What is Actually Happening in The Economy and The Potential Implications - Part One

If you are perplexed trying to understand the health of the economy and the impact of two wars, a growing national debt, inflation, and interest rate policy on markets this article looks at the confluence of all these issues and what is going on in the economy and markets.

Let’s start with the Federal Reserve and Chairman Powell. During the press conference at their September meeting, Powell stated that they would be pausing rates and were perhaps close to the end of their hiking campaign. Other governors including Mary Daly, head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, also weighed in saying that long term rates of the 10 years plus US Treasury Yields would add to restricting monetary conditions and that this, in addition to interest hikes to date, might accomplish one of their core mandates in bringing core inflation down to their targeted 2% acceptable level.

A rise in bond yields may substitute for a rate hike, Fed’s Daly says.

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The China Conundrum. Separating Fact from Propaganda

The China Conundrum. Separating Fact from Propaganda

A “conundrum” is defined by the Collins dictionary as a problem or puzzle which is difficult or impossible to solve.

How do you make authoritarianism, communism, and capitalism work together? Attempting to bring fundamentally opposing economic and cultural value systems together in a comprehensible and effective mix seems a near impossible task. However, this is what the modern Chinese economic and cultural experiment has been about.

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Understanding Economic Cycles, Sentiment and Valuations

"Nothing is so treacherous as the obvious" observed Joseph A Schumpeter the famous Austrian political economist who is regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest intellectuals and best known for his theories on business cycles and the development of capitalist economies as well as for introducing the concept of entrepreneurship.

Cycles, whether they be seasonal, economic, or personal, are inextricably tied to life. History has proven that economies rise and fall, and asset prices rise and fall as sure as night follows day. An economic cycle for example is defined as consisting of four distinct phases: expansion; peak; contraction; and trough. Each economic cycle comprises of these four phases. It is also fair to say that one can observe larger economic cycles within which several economic cycles may play out. If you could anticipate, plan, and organize around each stage of these cycles you would inevitably become more astute in any number of professional fields that require the purchase and sale of any asset, service or commodity. If economic cycles are inevitable which they are, why are they not then more predictable? This brings us back to the opening quote in this article by Joseph A. Schumpeter "Nothing is so treacherous as the obvious". How often do we grapple with an issue - any issue - only to say after days. months or years have gone by that the answer or solution had been staring us in the face, except for the fact that we did not see it.

The obvious is sometimes anything but and can be easily obscured by the very human attributes that make us...human. Whether it is hope, denial, greed, doubt, disbelief, attachment to an ideal, theory or assumption that we learnt or inherited in our past or took at face value from an expert, any of these factors can obscure the "obvious".

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Fed Now and The Crossroads to a Global Digital Payments Economy

The Biggest Upgrade to the US Financial Payment Rails Since SWIFT

The biggest upgrade to the payment rails of the US financial industry - since the SWIFT system was introduced in 1973 - is going to be unveiled in July 2023. The system known as FED NOW will enable instant payments that take seconds to complete and can occur 24/7, 365 days a year, all with integrated clearing functionality allowing financial institutions to deliver end-to-end instant payment services to their customers. This means the recipient of funds will have immediate availability and access to utilize these funds. To put this in perspective ACH transfers typically take anywhere from one to three business days to complete, domestic wire transfers can take 24+ hours to complete and international wire transfers can take up to a week to complete. Fed Now will not replace the Automated Clearing House Network (ACH) - at least not anytime soon - and is expected to complement ACH services. However, the writing is clearly on the wall as Fed Now grows its track-record, adoption, sophistication, and capacity.

Instant payments are digital payments which have the capacity to be "programmable" and generate rich data. What is rich data? Rich data is the process of compiling data to determine when and where a person is most likely to buy something, as opposed to relying on trend forecasts. Rich Data is used to predict consumer behavior. While this may sound like a godsend to businesses of all types as well as the Federal Reserve and other agencies who rely on financial data for forecasting and decision making, this "potential to invade privacy" will simultaneously cause consumers to sound the "alarm". Who wants their every transaction to be trackable?

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The Three Interests Shaping The Economy

THE THREE INTERESTS SHAPING THE ECONOMY

Self Interest, Government Interest & The Inverted Yield Curve Interest

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AI, The Singularity & Quantum Leap Beyond

In this article we are going to discuss the evolution of AI, its origins and development to here and where it may be heading. Many books have been written on the subject, so this is going to be a short but hopefully informative and abbreviated history to here and a peak into the beyond. We will continue to write about the evolution of AI in our blog and bi-monthly newsletter and build upon this article.

The Singularity

We are entering a period of technological accelerated change over the next 3-20 years, the likes of which has never been experienced by humankind. Some technologists have identified or labelled the culminating point to which this accelerated change will lead as "The Singularity" which can be viewed as the "end of the beginning" after which the singularity epoch of human history begins. What exactly is "The Singularity"? The “Singularity” is a projected future point in time when exponential developments in computer (artificial) intelligence and computational power result in the most dramatic and irreversible change in human history. The origins of the term lie in physics where "The Singularity" is described “as a point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as at the center of a black hole. “The emphasis in this sentence is "takes an infinite value".

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The Debt Ceiling, Politics and the Unknowns

LET US PRAY...

"All we can do I think collectively is to pray that everyone in the United States understands how important the sanctity of the sovereign signature of the leading currency, of the leading bond market, of the leading economy in the world is" Phillip Hildebrand, Vice Chairman of Blackrock

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The Credit Squeeze, Banking Crisis & Resulting Economic Headwinds

The impact of the banking crisis is still unfolding despite assurances from the Federal Reserve and the Big Banks that the banking system remains strong and resilient. With over 100 banks in similar situations as SVB the mismanagement of "duration" risk is clearly widespread among many regional banks. In addition to the current "risks" that have the headlights focused on them are the significant commercial paper "risk" that regional banks hold and will need to be refinanced in the coming years. These are valued in the trillions of dollars. A significant portion of this debt was financed when interest rates were around zero. As this debt rolls over and needs to be refinanced there is a high probability this will occur in a market with higher than zero interest rates, lower property values and less liquidity in the short term, due to the banking failures and call for tighter regulation of regional banks.

COVID accelerated a comprehensive change in employee remote work arrangements. While the trend has generally moved towards a hybrid approach of remote and in-office work arrangements, companies are down-sizing their office space requirements as they consolidate use with shared employee spaces. This trend will impact demand for commercial office space. The commercial real estate market is struggling as a result. Before the pandemic, office space occupancy was close to 95% whereas last December it was at 47%.. Lower rental income equates to declining values. An office building in San Francisco for example that sold for $397 million in 2019 was on the market in December 2022 for $155 million.

Regional banks carry significant risk exposure to commercial paper and commercial real estate companies that are in a market downturn and this will be or should be a forward looking concern to investors and depositors. Columbia Property Trust’s default on a $1.7 billion floating-rate loan, and Brookfield Asset Management’s default on $750+ million in debt in Los Angeles are early warning signs. Commercial real estate leases can span several years so it will take approximately a couple of years for this to unfold during which millions of leases will expire. Companies renegotiating their leases will have the upper hand. They may lease less space or no space attall. Either way, this trend will impact the value of commercial real-estate if rental occupancy and rates decline. This in turn will impact the value of commercial loans on regional banks books and impact their capital ratios.

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Navigating The SVB Collapse and The 2023 Global Banking Crisis

This week's news has been dominated by the crisis in banking and the second biggest banking failure in US history. If one had to point to the root of the current global banking crisis, it would be the "mismanagement of risk", fuelled by a significant dose of depositor and investor fear. This is the common denominator at all the banks that were and still are most impacted.

Silicon Valley Bank did not adequately hedge it's treasury bond and mortgage backed securities portfolio which had been purchased during the zero interest 2020-2021 environment, leaving it with significant growing unrealized losses as interest rates rose. Under normal banking and economic conditions this would not have been a significant risk. However under significant stress and difficult economic conditions with depositors withdrawing significant funds, the bank could be exposed to having to raise funds to meet withdrawal demands and in order to do that it would have to sell its bonds and mortgage backed securities at a significant loss.

Banks are meant to be in the business of managing risk and mitigating for exactly these types of scenarios. Instead of hedging that risk one must assume that it considered that risk to be an outlier. In either case, one would be right in questioning the judgement of management. As depositors withdrew funds, SVB had to sell its portfolio of bonds and mortgage backed securities for a loss of approximately $1.8bn. When SVB announced this fact to the market - a market that was already on edge - along with the need to raise additional capital, large Silicon Valley VC's began pulling their funds out of the bank which combined with dire messaging amplified through the megaphone of Twitter turned into a stampede. Over $40 billion dollars was withdrawn in 3 days causing the second largest banking failure in US history and new management - that is, the FDIC - to step in.

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Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Kill Inflation?

Inflation was up 0.5% in January and the CPI was up for 6.4% from the same period last year. Both numbers were higher than expected and have predictably caused the Federal Reserve to reflect and take a more hawkish stance. Shelter, Food and Energy remain the primary culprits boosting inflation numbers, of which shelter represents approximately 50%. While the markets anticipate a decline in shelter costs over the year this has proved stubbornly resilient to date. The next meaningful economic data announcements this month include "retail sales", the "monthly jobs report" and the consumer price index report for February.

You may be wondering why this article is titled "Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Kill Inflation" and that is because we are on the cusp of paradigm shifting innovations which will unleash a "productivity revolution" unlike anything that has come before it. The combination of AI, Robotics and Quantum Computing to mention just a few will reinvent what is possible. The current Quantum Computer in development at Google is purported to be 158 million times faster than the fastest supercomputer on the planet. That is an unfathomable leap. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is expected to double in its capacity every 6 months. At the most rudimentary level, these technologies combined with advanced micro-devices that have the potential to monitor every item and point on any supply chain, will not only address "supply chain" imbalances but altogether drive logistical, material and sustainable efficiencies across entire industries. By addressing supply chain issues, one of the main contributors of inflation, we will see these technologies contribute powerful disinflationary forces.

However, while we are on the cusp of this 4th industrial revolution which has the potential to dwarf every previous industrial revolution combined, the current impact is in its infancy. Over time, the combination of the technologies mentioned, and many others have the power for generating exponential innovation and one of these changes will be a generative global disinflationary economic impact.

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Mixed Signals as the Federal Reserve Shifts into Second Gear

In a widely anticipated move Federal Reserve Chairman Powell announced the slowdown in the magnitude of rate hikes to .25%. While the markets were waiting impatiently for a signal that the Federal Reserve will lower rates later in the year, they did not receive this gratification. Chairman Powell is right to be cautious. While early signals do suggest the desired impact of raising rates is leading to disinflation, it is still too early to say for sure. The Federal Reserve's caution and prudence is warranted and a signal to the markets that they are trying to get this right without unnecessarily sending the economy into recession. A wait and see mode makes sense.

Today's unemployment report only underscores this fact. The Bureau of Labour reported that the unemployment rate fell to 3.4% and the economy added 517,000 jobs exceeding the most optimistic forecasts. While some debate how accurate these numbers are, the labour market remains strong, the strongest it has been since 1969.

This presents challenging issues for the Federal Reserve as part of their desired impact from rate hikes is a weakening in the labour market to stifle wage inflation. The markets are having to digest conflicting data and discern the future. January wage growth for example has cooled with average earnings dropping from 4.8% in December to 4.4% in January. Until the signs of the wage push inflation cooling are more clearcut, the Federal Reserve will continue to wait, watch and act.

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Are You Paying Attention to the Advance Decline Indicator?

How useful is the Advance Decline (A/D) indicator and what can it tell us? The A/D indicator is a breadth indicator and signal used for determining a shift in the directional trend of aggregate markets. It measures the difference between the number of advancing and declining stocks on a daily basis. In doing so, it can provide insight into market sentiment. A rising line signals the cumulative strength of rising stocks in proportion to declining stocks and conversely a falling trend line shows the preponderance of stocks falling in proportion to stocks that are rising. As with every signal there are nuances to understanding the data outputs of the signal itself which in turn can require evaluation in combination with other technical indicators.

As mentioned, when an index is rallying and the A/D line is rising it reflects strong participation among companies in the trend. However, if the index is rising but the A/D line is rising only marginally or remains unchanged, it could indicate that the rally in the index is due to the rise of only a small number of market leaders. Conversely, if indexes are falling but the A/D line is steady or even rising, it can indicate that fewer stocks in aggregate are declining.

On Thursday January 12th 2023, the ratio of advancing to declining stocks on the NYSE closed above 1.97. The last time this happened was in June 2020, when stocks were rallying out of the COVID-induced bear market. This is the 25th time that this has occurred in the last 75 years. In all 24 prior instances the stock market was higher 12 months later. There are no guarrantees of course that the same will happen in this instance. History can signal probabilities but every market cycle and time in history has its own unique attributes.

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Life Expectancy, Social Security & Retirement

Happy New Year! We hope that you enjoyed the festive season and time with family. As we begin another year it is worth reflecting on our good fortune that we are living in an era of remarkable advances in health care that have prolonged the average lifetime. In 1875, the average life expectancy in the USA was 40 years old. By 1960 (85 years later) the average life expectancy in the USA was 69.77years and in 2019, it was 78.79 years. Life expectancy has almost doubled since 1875. It has fallen since 2020 due to the increase in mortality rate resulting from COVID and currently stands at 77.28 years in 2022. Men typically on average have a lesser lifespan reaching approximately 74 years of age whereas women on average live to about 80 years. As medicine advances at an exponential rate with the convergence of quantum computing, biotechnology, genomics, regenerative medicine, research and many other related disciplines, the pace at which healthcare is advancing is accelerating and we can expect the average life expectancy to keep rising alongside these advances.

This is, of course good news for human beings but it also means we need to plan for living longer. As we live through the great inflation since the advent of COVID and a challenging bear market, it's important to revisit retirement plans on a regular basis and re-calibrate if needed to realize the retirement you are planning for.

An important factor that will influence your retirement income are social security benefits and the age you start claiming them.It is important to understand the financial implications  of when you choose to claim social security. For example, it is estimated that overall benefits, on average, will be approximately 76% higher (inflation adjusted) if you start claiming social secuirity at the age of 70 versus the age of 62. That may be counter-intuitive but when you factor in the early-retirement reduction penalty and conversely the delayed retirement credits (DCR's) that increase your retirement by 8% per annum for each year through the age of 70, this is not the case. Only 7% of all retirees wait to claim social security until the age of 70 despite this.

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Proof Positive or Not? The Fed, Rate Hikes and Disinflation

Has the inflation tide turned? Core CPI was forecast to increase 0.3% month-over-month and 6.1% for the year but came in recently at 0.2% and 6% respectively. Food on the other hand (which is not part of Core CPI) has continued to rise as have the costs of shelter.

In the bond market, long-term Treasury yields are starting to fall. Analysts are projecting that these will continue to fall into 2023. The 10-Year Treasury yield topped out at 4.3% a few weeks ago and finished at 3.49% a few days ago, down more than 80 basis points from its peak.

Also of note: The U.S. ISM Manufacturing PMI has declined over the last few months into territory below 50 which signals falling demand. Each time the index has fallen below 50 - over the past 50 years - the 10-Year Treasury yield has proceeded to fall over the following few quarters, notably this also occurred during the era of high inflation of the 1970's. Falling treasury yields have an inverse correlation in the past with higher risk beta stocks rising

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Mid Year Elections and Markets

It is interesting and worth noting that since World War II, stocks have not sold off in the year folowing a midterm election. There are no guarrantees that history will repeat itself but in the 20 midterm elections since World War II, stocks have risen the following year between 5% - 32% depending on the year. In 14 out of the 20 years following the mid-term election cycles the markets have risen by more that 10%.

Why is this? "Post-election outperformance is often driven by the market's expectation of increased government spending from a new Congress," says Liz Ann Sonders, Schwab's chief investment strategist. "But an additional infusion of funds seems unlikely this year, given the government's historic levels of spending and stimulus in response to the pandemic" 

Other perspectives say that equities tend to disappoint in the years before the election and that once anxiety about potential policy changes post-election subsde that there is a reversion to the mean. 

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Market Forces, Cycles and Financial Mechanics

Markets are cyclical. That is an undisputed fact backed up by hundreds of years of statistical proof. Capitalism is known for it's boom/bust cycles, periods of market expansion fuelled by cheaper credit followed by recessionary forces, tightening fiscal conditions and economic contraction. In recent years we have seen the lowest rates in US history coupled with the greatest injection of money into the economy in US history to avert the COVID induced economic global crisis.

The impact of supply chain disruptions, demand/supply imbalance, labor shortages, higher wages and QE squared has been the most feared outcome of all to economists, namely "Inflation". Inflation left unchecked destroys the economic fabric and "value" of currency in a country. As the word's reserve currency, the Federal Reserve will do whatever it takes to bring inflation to heel.

We have gone from record low interest rates of less than 1% to over 4% in a comparatively short period. 30 year mortgages have hit a new recent high of 7%. Just over 18 months ago you could get a 30 year mortgage for 2 -3% depending on your credit. The substantial rise in rents, food, energy, cars and most goods and services over the last three years are not a mirage. The poor and middle classes are significantly affected by this.

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Is the Economy Slowing? Realistic Interest Benchmark Forecasts May Signal the Beginning of a Reset

The end of "hope" may be a net positive when it comes to market expectations in a bear market. Up until recently the markets have been relying on a constant drip of an illusory - any moment now - "Fed Turnabout Cocktail". Each time the Federal Reserve dissappoints with renewed commitment to its hawkish policy, the markets pout. Volatility is the ineivtable result with almost daily commentary about the latest thoughts of the members of the Federal Reserve and upcoming economic indicators.

The markets have now - at last - factored in benchmark rates of between 4.9-5.4% which is closer to what the Federal Reserve has indicated as potentially possible. While markets and media talk about a pending recession in lock step with Federal Reserve policy, some argue that we are already in a recession. The markets are now factoring in or discounting the future on a more realistic basis which means a greater acceptance of what is likely and less hopeful about any imminent Federal Reserve policy turnabout. 

Federal reserve actions are slow to filter into the economy but as we mentioned in our previous article, there are signs of demand slowing appearing in the economy. Container prices which are seen as a more current indicator of economic demand have dropped from sky high prices of around $20,000 during the peak COVID era to the low $2-3,000 range today. Job openings are down substantially. Residentail real estate prices are falling. Commodity prices from lumber to copper are down from their recent highs. If it takes 260 hours for the world's largest supertankers to turn around, how much time does it take for the worlds largest economy?

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Recent Trends in GDP and Consumer Demand

The Fed Reserve and inflation have been primary market talking points. Today we will take a look at recent trends in GDP and consumer demand. While the Fed is doing all it can - with its tools - to put the breaks on consumer demand and inflation, the data - across multiple key indicators - shows clear signs that the economy is starting to slow.

After two consecutive negative GDP growth quarters, The GDPNow forecast for the the third quarter of 2022 has been falling steadily since August when it was projected at 2.5% to sub 0.3% as of last week, Tuesday. We will have a better estimate of GDP for the third quarter by the end of October. The trend and forecast shows consecutive declining growth.

The trend in slowing growth is also reflected by declining activity in inbound containers at major US ports. This is considered a coincident demand indicator and reflective of immediate shifting trends in consumer demand. Global commodity and food prices are showing some signs of price easing but remain high year over year. Jonathan Golub, Credit Suisse;s chief U.S. equity strategist maintains that: "Futures indicate that Food and Energy prices should fall -5.7% and -11.8% by year end 2023, while Goods inflation has declined from 12.3% to 7.0% since February,” he wrote. “Over the past year, Services and Rents are up less than Headline CPI (5.5% and 5.8% vs. 8.5%).”

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How Much Medicine is Enough to Shift Away from the Inflation Narrative?

"Inflation" numbers predictably continue to shape the market narrative. As you may have read in our previous blog posts we continue to see this being the case until the economic data starts to show a consistent declining trend. While markets will look for early signs that the tide is turning, only consistent data will mark a tangible shift in the markets and a change in Fed sentiment.

Until that time, the Federal Reserve will continue to hike rates aggressively. They have made it abundantly clear that this is their number one priority and while they would like to avoid a recession that is not going to sway their intent to bring inflation into their acceptable orbit of less than 2% per year. Given the significant monetary forces that were put in motion since the inception of COVID it may take more time and hikes than anyone would like or anticipates.

A good analogy is being at the dentist for an unpleasant procedure that takes more time to resolve. We want it to end but it won't until the dentist is satisfied they have done the job. The Fed dentist wont be done until they meet their objective.

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Will The Fed Doctors Administer More Medicine to Cool the Economy?

It appears that the Fed Doctors are leaning in the direction that more medicine is needed to keep the economy cool and inflation more tame.

We have maintained for many months now that this would be the Federal Reserve stance until the signs of inflation have shown a pattern of consistent decline. They failed miserably in quantifying the impact of their actions, inundating the economy in a sunami of close to zero interest funds and trillions of stimulus and now they cannot be seen to fail in bringing down "the inflation monster" they contributed in large part to create.

We expect the Federal Reserve to maintain a hawkish stance through this year and into the first half of the next year with the possibility of cutting the size of interest rate hikes as economic signs dictate. We then anticipate the Federal Reserve holding rates steady until a demonstrable period of time has passed indicating that inflation is more tame.

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Earnings, Markets & The Economy

A recent research report released by Absolute Strategy Research revealed that 37% of money managers (who collectively oversee $5.2 trillion in assets) expect earnings to be higher a year from now. 63% expect earnings to be lower. That’s the lowest reading since late 2015.

The economic outlook is fraught with issues that we have discussed at length in prior articles.

a) Consumer sentiment has hit a 10 year low. This is correlated with more cautious consumer behaviour and a decline in spending which will impact earnings.

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The Fight to Bring Down Inflation Will Continue to Shape the Market Narrative

Inflation numbers continue to be the central issue shaping the market narrative. Last week’s market rally is based on the "not yet substantiated" narrative that inflation numbers will come down sooner and will necessitate less drastic action on the part of the Federal Reserve. In the short term, it's a speculative narrative.

The markets are forward looking so speculation is inevitably a component of how markets operate. However, the real determining factor will be the hard inflation numbers. Is inflation trending downwards? To answer this question will take several consecutive months of declining data to validate. Until such time, the Federal Reserve has no incentive - after miscalculating this issue through 2021 - to operate less hawkishly. Its credibility is on the line. As a result, they will look to declining inflation numbers over several consecutive months until they lighten their rhetoric and along with it, rate hikes. Until then, the Federal Reserve has no reason to veer off its already communicated path of more aggressive interest rate hikes.

The daily question and commentary that is in the news headlines - whether we will see a recession or not - is largely dependent on the still "unknown" question of "how long" it will take to bring inflation down and "how high do rates need to go for that to occurr"?

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When Markets Fall, Who do you Listen to?

When markets fall, who do you listen to? This may seem like an odd title for a blog post, but it is an important one from a pyschological, health and financial well being standpoint. When markets fall and the economy experiences a down turn, the mainstream media highlights worst case scenarios and how bad everything can get. It can make your stomach churn if you have money in the markets, even if you have gone through such events in the past. The media is highly trained on how to illicit response with headlines that make you want to read them. That is how they make their money. It is also built into human pyschology that any danger signals trigger the pre-historic or primordial functions of the brain that are about survival. Add a terrible war in Ukraine and ongoing economic cold-war with China and you have a recipe for doom and gloom.

Reading the daily media headlines can be bad for your health. As Baron Rothchild once said "Buy when there is blood in the streets". That is of course much harder to do for the very reasons we are just referencing. Our brains and bodies are trained to "flee" danger, and not walk into it for good reason!

Who do you listen to or turn to when markets are falling is an important question. When you have a professional seasoned financial advisor, you have an objective party to speak with who can share their perspectives about bear and bull markets over decades of experience. When you are in the midst of a bear market, it seems like it will never end. Likewise when you are in a bull market it seems like it will never end. Both statements are false however. No Bull or Bear market is permanent.

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Recession or Not? That is the Question

The speed at which the economy has nose-dived from optimism to pessimism has taken a lot of people by surprise. That's the impact the Federal Reserve can have on the markets. Consumer confidence is fickle so when the daily news is filled with fears of recession and declining markets it impacts people in a way that causes people to spend less: The Nasdaq is down over 31% from it's highs and this along with all the media headlines of "recession" is generating a more fearful and less optimistic mood.

SNAP just anounced a significant revision in its profit forecasts due to macro economic conditions. Advertising revenue is down.

The mood on the street is somber and consumers are concerned. The critical question is what impact will this decline in consumer confidence and demand have on inflation? Will inflation numbers trend down? If they do, the current economic news may provide sufficient impetus for the Federal Reserve that they need to walk and talk a softer line and send some easening signals, such as for example, that rate increases may be sufficient.

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A Federal Reserve in Reverse. How Far Will It Need to Go?

The markets were riveted on one man on Wednesday as 2.30pm EDT rolled around. Chairman of the Fenderal Reserve, Jerome Powell was to provide a state of the market or more to the point "a state of inflation" update. A 0.5% increase in interest rates was already baked in. The unknown was whether the tone of the Federal Reserve Chairman was going to be increasingly hawkish or more in line with market expectations.

As we have said in previous blog articles, the goal of the Federal Reserve is to curb spending and bring inflation back down into its 2% per annum goal. The Federal Reserve is well aware that acting too hawkishly could send the economy into a recession and not acting agggresively enough could let inflation run amock. They are are having to walk an intricate balancing act to send the message that they will take aggressive action while at the same time keep an eye on the health of the economy.

In summary, Powell communicated exactly that on wednesday and that their primary intent is to dampen demand to bring inflation down while at the same time allowing the economy enough bandwidth to keep growing. At this juncture, the Fed projects a target of 2.4 percent by year's end. The markets responded by continuing to sell-off as they try to digest the impact of rising rates on the economy. A more pessimistic outlook will need to be swayed by market forces that point to "more light" at the end of the tunnel.

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Technical Analysis - Volume Metrics

We have covered a number of technical analysis indicators in our blog articles. Today, we are going to look at a volume indicator that measures the quantity of buy orders or volume versus the quantity of sell orders or volume.

One such indicator is "On Balance Volume" which as it's title suggests is measuring a running total of buy and sell volume that translates into a trend line that is moving up or down and can be used to correlate or measure against price. It can also be used to spot trends in price as well as price reversals.

For example, if price is moving up but the "on-balance-volume" is trending down - meaning their is more selling volume than buying volume - this may indicate a potential "price" reversal. The same is true in reverse. If "price" is moving down but the "on balance volume" indcator is trending up this can indicate a potential reversal in price.

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Navigating The Rising Tide of Interest Rate Hikes

The Fed is Waking Up and Is putting its foot on the brakes!

“Hindsight says we should have moved earlier. . . . But there really is no precedent for this.”  Fed Chair Powell, March 3, 2022

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Fear of Recession and The Yield Curve

The Yield Curve inverting has been the most accurate predictor of the economy tipping into a recession for the last 50 years. Typically, it takes about 6 months from the time the Yield Curve inverts for a recession to kick in. So, what exactly does an "inversion of the yield curve" mean? An inversion of the yield curve is looking at and referring to the differences in interest rates being charged by banks over a 2 and 10 year lending horizon. Economists also look at the 3 and 10 year lending rates as well.

Typically banks will charge a lower interest for a short term loan than for a longer term loan. Banks are incentivized to lend out at higher interest rates over a longer term loan period. However, when the 10 year interest lending rate is less than the 2 year lending rate, banks have less incentive to lend. This is known as the "yield curve inversion" when the longer term 10 year lending rate is less than than the 2-year rate. It does not happen often but when it does, it has been a good predictor of an upcoming recession for over 50 years. 

The spread between 10-year and 2-year Treasuries has fallen from 0.89% in early January to just 0.18% on March 21. So while we are close, we are not there yet.

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The 50 Dollar Sandwich Economy

If you are walking into The French Laundry, a 3 star michelin restaurant in Napa, you may well expect to pay $50 plus for a sandwich extraordinaire. Not so, when you walk into your average sandwich place. I almost fell out of my chair when the person cutting my hair told me she was going to be charged $50 for a chicken sandwich at a local eatery in Walnut Creek, La Fontaine. She had paid $20 for a sandwich one day, $30 the next and then a few days later was presented with the $50 price tag. She declined the sandwich. 

While this may be an extraordinary tale of sandwich inflation and who knows what else, the reality is that the cost of eating out has gone up significantly, but this is sandwich madness. Yes, Russia and Ukraine are two of the largest exporters of wheat and there will be supply shortages that impact prices worldwide. The Russia-Ukraine situation has also sent gas prices soaring. Gas prices have risen to some of the highest in recent USA history. However, has America stopped growing its own wheat and raising it's own chickens? Of course not. So, why is a local sandwich shop in Walnut Creek charging $50 for a chicken sandwich? Is it the best chicken sandwich in Walnut Creek? Probably not.

The supply chain issues have given opportunity for corporate and business greed to inflate as well. While some price increases may be justified, of course, some price increases across a range of industries ranging from 50-500% are quite litterally "out of this world" and unjustified by any rational commercial standards.

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Russia, Putin and The Impact of War on the Global Economy

Authoritarian leaders have many things in common: A need for self-glorification, self-preservation, vanity and power are four of many. They can never get enough of these. One person dictates the future of millions held captive by fear and repression and effects millions in the Ukraine by what ammounts to an open decleration of war. On the one hand, Putin's agenda appears to be founded in reclaiming a long gone era of Russian influence and power and countering his fear of NATO expansion to Russia's borders. While this is no doubt influencing his decisions and causing mayhem with his fragile ego, one can also infer that what is motivating Putin - under the guise of a strongman - is fear for his own political surivival and his legacy with the West encroaching on his doorstep, a Russia that has been broken up and is only a part of it's former empire.

This is Putin's war, not Russia's war. Putin's strategic plan, if he follows through into Ukraine which looks more probable at this juncture, will have severe financial repercussions for Russia. Not only will maintaining a war be costly for Russia, the economic sanctions will - once fully implemented in the event of a full scale invasion of Ukraine - be crippling. The Ukraine will not sit idle with its 200,000 person army plus reservists joining them and funding from the west.

Russia's allies are few and not surprisingly are authoritarian leaders with their own empire building or reclaiming agenda's. China while overtly supporting Putin treads a fine line. It will be wary of supporting Russia too much as it still needs America as a trading partner and will therefore not want to further alienate the USA.

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War, Inflation and Market Jitters

The possibility of war looms as Russia's build up of troops and tanks grow on the Ukranian border. As if that were not enough, inflation stats coming in at 7.5% provides continued proof of how wrong the Federal Reserve has been. Markets hate uncertainty and "uncertainty" is the flavor of the current moment. Russian-Ukranian tensions have been on the rise for weeks now. That is not news. A diplomatic resolution vs a military invasion has been the more expected outcome and that is now in question. Has that been fully discounted by the markets. Some say no.

A military build up of such magnitude is cause for alarm and certainly a strategic move by Putin to force an outcome whether that is to enter into negotiations and reach a new military understanding between Europe, Russia and the USA or potentially, an invasion. An invasion is costly on many fronts for Russia, not least of which will be the heavy sanctions that will be imposed on them by USA and Europe. War is costly and it is questionable whether Russia can afford such a prolonged entanglement. As such, it seems a high risk option for Putin and therefore less likely of an outcome to us. However, if the strategic goals for the build up were originally to negotiate a new military understanding in the region and these completely fail from Putin's vantage point, who knows what his next move could be.

In the midst of this, inflation continues to rear its ugly head. Supply chain issues abound. The Fed has to act and based on the most recent data, the market worries it will have to act even more aggressively. As we have said before in previous blog posts, we believe the Fed will act and a rate increase of at least 25 basis points is all but assured in March. It is again unlikely in our estimation that the first rate hike will be more than that. Based on our research supply chain issues will start to be addressed in the second half of 2022. However, progress may not materialize until later than the market would like. In this sceanrio more pressure will be put on the Fed to keep raising interest rates which they will probably do.

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Are Higher Interest Rates The Harbinger of Gloom for Stocks?

Are higher interest rates the harbinger of gloom for stocks? That is what the market news headlines are wanting everyone to believe. Well, how true is it though? Yes, interest rates have been at historic lows and this fuelled high growth stocks in 2021 to historically high valuations. The Fed's "temporary inflation" outlook proved less transitory and more embedded in the economy and so the time had arrived to deal with this using the two tools at the Fed's disposal: raising interest rates and tapering or reducing its purchase of central bank assets, essentially a reversal of its quantitative easing policies and removing liquidity from the markets.

The markets reaction was immediate and high growth stocks sold off starting in November. The Nasdaq fell from a high of 16,764 in the second half of November 2021 to 13,724 in January, a fall of just over 20% and now sits at about 14,930 today, the last day of January 2022.

"Pending higher interest rates and Fed tapering required a re-valuation of tech stocks" was the communication coming out of every media outlet. In reality, it prompted a move out of yes, highly valued tech stocks into "value" stocks that had been left behind to that point in time. A sound strategic move, one can argue.

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Markets are on Edge. Are you?

The markets are on edge. The Fed has signalled it will use its tool box to curb inflation which includes raising rates and tapering. The market has shuddered. "Don't fight the Fed"! is the prevailing market wisdom. The market pundits and the news media are pronouncing that rising rates combined with less liquidity is going to be bad for stocks and that this could be the end of the historic bull market.

First of all, this movie has played out before. Between late 2016 and 2018 the Fed started to signal it was going to raise rates and high growth stocks sold off as they are the most rate-senstitive. Investors rotated into defensive stocks with strong earnings. However once rate hikes happened the same growth stocks that were now priced for those rate hikes, performed really well, while the defensive stocks did not. A good case can be made that we will see a repeat of the same pattern. Earnings remain robust, supply issues are likely to turn around in 2022 and inflation will eventually come down from it's current highs.

Likewise, the economy continues to find its way through the disruptions of COVID and while this may take more time than people think, we will move past COVID as the rest of the world begins to get vaccinated and build immunity. However, it would be foolish to discount new variants emerging over the coming 12 months - and more disruptions to global economies - while over 90% of the developing countries are still unvaccinated.

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2022 is Almost Here, So What's in Store for The Year Ahead?

We first want to wish all our readers and clients a Happy New Year!

As we say goodbye to a tumultous 2021, we look forward and to 2022 and what it may have in store for investors. 2021 saw inflation run away to heights not seen for decades. The Fed completely under-estimated this and shifted gears stating it was going to get serious about tackling inflation by tapering its bond buying and raising interest rates in 2022. The markets are re-calibrating. How big an issue is "inflation" and how soon can it be brought under control? These are the key questions as they will influence how aggressive the Fed is with respect to raising interest rates.

The key determining factors with respect to taming inflation are:

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Omicron and Inflation Set Off Market Concerns. How Valid Are They?

Omicron and Inflation are the boogeymen out to spoil the Holiday Season. Should you let them?

Markets are souring as news of record inflation numbers rebound across the globe alongside the emergence of a markedly different strain of the coronavirus out of South Africa. Wall Street is worried about the potential severity and impact of Omicron on the economy and how it may stall a potential recovery. The inflation concern is principally tied to worries regarding potential hikes in interest rates in 2022 and their impact on valuations and the stock market altogether.

These are real concerns. The question is how "real" and the answer to both of these issues is "unknown" at this juncture. The studies on Omicron and the efficacy of the various vaccines to thwart or limit it are still in process. Initial reports suggest that the impact of Omicron is less mild disease than the current Delta variants, but it is simply too early to tell if this is true. Markets are waiting for scientifically backed data and news.

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Bollinger Bands. What Are They and Can They Be a Useful Tool for Investment Decision Making?

What the heck are Bollinger Bands?

Bollinger Bands were developed by John Bollinger. They are envelopes (or could be thought of as sandwiches with the moving average of price as the filling) plotted at a standard deviation (which can be adjusted) above and below a simple moving average of the price. As the distance apart of the bands is based on standard deviation, the bands naturally adjust to swings in the underlying price being measured.

The width of the bands and underlying trend can be indicative of pending shifts in price. For example when the bands are narrow and remain narrow for a period of time which is indicative of a period of low volatility it can portend a more significant future price movement up or down which in turn would require other technical indicators to evaluate alongside it. The timeframe over which Bollinger Bands are observed or utilized is likewise an important factor to take into account and can also weaken or strengthen their validity or usefulness. If you are observing these over hourly, daily, weekly or monthly time frames they will yield different value.

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The Infrastructure Bill and Implications for The Clean Energy Sector

Some bad news for Democrats in Virginia prompted some much needed urgency and positive action on the legislative front and the resulting upgrading of America's deteriorating infrastructure. The "Build Back Better" or $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill passed through Congress yesterday and is now waiting to be signed into law by the President.

$1.2 Trillion is a number that is hard for most mortals to comprehend. It is a gargantuan ammount of money, the largest sum ever dedicated to the revamping of America's infrastructure.

So, what are the implications of this massive investment program for american companies. Who stands to benefit the most?

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The Case for an Extended Bull Market

We have often written about the "asset inflation" bubble caused by a trifecta of near zero interest rates, record levels of money printing not seen in american history and the federal reserve acting as a backstop for everything! Well maybe not everything, but again more than ever before. The "relative value" of the dollar continues to fall against this backdrop. a trend that has continued over a 50+ year period. The purchasing power of the dollar has fallen by 92% over the last 50 years. Let that sink in for a moment. The only saving grace is that other westernized countries are not faring much better yet none have the size of national debt of the USA. It helps to be the worlds reserve currency!

In the midst of a historic "asset bubble" of "everything" where many fund managers are cautious, there are well respected fund managers talking about a continuation of the bull market into 2038, one that is fueled by the "millennial" generation. The arguments are compelling and we wanted to share some of them in this article.

Cathie Wood, the architect of Ark’s comprehensive range of ETF's sais: “So this is the echo of the baby boom,” in reference to the millennial investors being the new drivers of an extended bull market into 2038 to mirror the baby boomers who fueled a 20-year bull market in stocks during the 1980's and 1990's.

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Oscillators as Indicators

We have discussed Oscillators as indicators that will depict oversold and overbought conditions over different time periods. Oscillators will vary in what they depict depending on the inputs. In general they will map the trend of a given stocks price movement but depending on the inputs you can amplify the trend or conversely you can soften the overall trend. For short term investors amplifying the trend may provide more accurate short term signals for either entry or exit points and likewise for long term investors reducing the sensitivity of the signal will more accurately depict the long term momentum in price cycles and growth. Longer term investment horizons allow for more underlying data and therefore technical analysis will provide more reliable information for interpretation and analysis than short term investment horizons.

If investors believe in the long term growth prospects of a stock or fund (basket of companies) then buying at those times when price oscillates to the lower bands of the stochastic oscillators numeric ledger, usually 0-20 (which signals oversold conditions) can be on approach to steadily acumulate a position over time. Investors looking to rebalance their portfolios on a stock or fund that has outperformed the market for years may look at a long term oscillator top range, usually above 80 (which signals overbought conditions) as one of many different signals to assess when to exit a portion of their position and re-balance their portfolio. The chart on the right shows Amazon's monthly stock price movements and points to 2 moments in time when the stochastic oscillator was at a low. If you believed in the long term growth prospects of Amazon, both these moments in time would have provided good entry points to accumulate stock.

Technical analysis used in conjunction with macro analysis can provide a more balanced and objective perspective for purposes of portfolio management, entry and exits, investment and rebalancing decisions whether that is for an individual investor or asset manager over different time periods. Technical analysis is a tool which requires context and experience to assess and use. That context is based on the investment goals of an investor or fund manager. 

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Technology Disruption in Finance and Everything Else!

We have talked about the blockchain in prior articles. Many people associate the "blockchain" with "Bitcoin" but the blockchain is far more than Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a counter financial cyclical innovation that arose directly after and as a result of the 2007/8 financial crash and depression. We refer to it here as counter-cyclical because it has a deflationary monetary supply built into the code. It is not subject to human, governmental or political motivations that can inflate the money supply to unprecedented levels of indebtedness - in a monetary experiment - that devalues the worth of the currency, causes inevitable inflation and arguably impacts those who are the least well off, the most, over the mid to long term. Bitcoin's supply is fixed and known. It is finite. It is often referred to as a "store of value" - the equivalent of digital gold, except more easily stored on a comparative basis, more liquid and transportable, not to mention an increasingly globally accepted currency and asset class in the westernized world.

Bitcoin is however just the tip of the iceberg of changes and innovations spurred by the blockchain that will sweep the world and impact every industry on the planet. The biggest disruption in finance in the last two hundred years is unfolding now. It will be commonplace soon to be able to send monies for free or fractions of a cent 24/7 to anyone in the world. Businesses will be able to accept payments for cents vs paying 2-4% in fees for every sale. Individuals can access fair market interest rates in exchange for depositing monies with crypto banks. You can do that right now. Yes, these do carry more risk but with over $250 billion dollars accessing the decentralized financial markets today these risks will become more manageable. Insurance products are already being created to manage this risk. This industry is still in its early evolutionary phase and as the products and technology mature so will the ease of use, accessibility and safety.

Another industry that is being reinvented on the blockchain is the gaming industry. In one year, Axie Infinity, a blockchain gaming company is generating more revenue than some of the largest gaming companies in the world. More, many more such ventures are coming. The economics or tokenomics of these ventures allows users to also interact financially whether it is to secure the network, purchase games, buy/sell various items within the gaming ecosystems, compete and generate income.

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China, Evergrande and The Boom & Bust Cycles of Capitalism

The recent headlines in the markets are all about China's "Evergrande" which may require a name change before the dust finally settles. China's quasi capitalist front - the business class - which is under the umbrella of Communism is under fire on many fronts. Let's discuss the economic front first. Evergrande - you may not have heard of the company until now - is China's largest property developer and has been a company at the forefront of China's economic boom and phenomenal new city development and expansion. As can be the case in an economy that has been booming and expanding for decades, it is easy for companies to lose sight that "booms" always come to an end. The economic cycles in Capitalist societies are inevitable, in spite of trillions in government "funding" intervention in the last decade. China is not a capitalist society - at least not culturally - and the interesting juxta-positon between capitalism and communism under one roof is playing itself out now with "Communism" asserting itself in ways that those who have heavily invested in china are now discovering to their detriment.

Evergande's booming business was fuelled by increasing debt and leverage. As can happen, that debt to debt servicing ratio was not properly managed and the banks - yet again - failed in their fiscal due dilligence and evaluation of the company. The US equivalent often cited in the media is "Lehman Borthers". The bottom line is that "Evergrande" is teetering and on the cusp of failure, unable to service its debt with no immediate convincing plan to lower its $300 billion debt mountain. It missed it's interest payment to bond holders yesterday - thursday September 23rd - and now has a 30 day grace period to make good on this or officially be in default. The writing is on the wall. It has effectively lost the little negotiation power it may have had. It's unlikely - not impossible - that the company will survive in its current "Evergrande" form. Will the chinese state intervene? Given the millions of livelihoods at stake and economic repercussions for the region, there is a high likelihood the government will intervene in some way. In wake of China's clamping down on "businesses" that have grown too big and too powerful for the State's liking and its emphasis on the welfare of the people, we see a strong possibility that state financial aid will come, but with caveats or demands that the company be broken into several companies and assets sold off to pay down bondholder and retail buyer debt.

As we have already mentioned, we believe it is unlikely that "Evergrande" will survive in its current form.

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What is a Head & Shoulders Pattern?

In this installment of our technical patterns education series, we will explore what is known as a "Head and Shoulders" pattern. This pattern can signal a shift in trend whether at the top of a price discovery trend or at the bottom (when it is referred to as an "inverse head and shoulders bottom" pattern).

As the name suggests, a head and shoulder pattern comprises of left shoulder that corrects only to move higher to form the "head" typically the highest price point in the prevailing price trend (or the lowest price point in the case of an "inverted head and shoulder bottom pattern" after which it will correct while only to rally again but not as high as the previous "head". This point marks a trend reversal, down in the case of a traditional head and shoulder pattern and up in the case of an inverted head and shoulders bottom pattern.

The chart to the left provides a classic example of a head and shoulders pattern whereas the chart below of Cisco in 2000-2001 shows how these can play out in real markets.

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A Window into Institutional Adoption of Digital Currencies

Institutional adoption of digital currencies and payment methods is on the rise. We are seeing a tectonic shift in the payments landscape along with the rise of Bitcoin. However, behind Bitcoin, blockchain companies and projects are looking to reinvent the way individuals and entire industries transact across the entire global industrial landscape.

One of the the core concepts behind blockchain is "trustless" transactions which essentially means transactions between two parties that are controlled by a piece of computer code "A smart contract" that is programmed to embody the transactional details and execute automatically. Essentially any "exchange" of property or digital property can be programmed accordingly removing the need or reliance on centralized parties or intermediaries to broker an exchange for fees. The movement to decentralised finance for example aims to remove "banks" and "brokers" as intermediaries allowing what is known as "peer" to "peer" transactions. Individual A can buy a stock or any asset directly from Individual B in a secure and trustless manner or Individuals can send monies "peer to peer" directly to one another without a bank as an intermediary.

Every transaction on the blockchain is recorded in a tamper proof ledger. No one can go back in time and modify the ledger which makes blockchain one of the most secure and transparent technologies in history to date.

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The Import of Volume - Technical Indicator Series

Volume is a measure of how much stock or how many contracts (if options) or barrels (if oil) are traded in a given day, week, month or quarter. Changes in volume traded can signal a change in price trend and relative strength either up or down. A marked shift in average daily volume alongside an increasing or decreasing price trend is a signal that should be carefully assessed as part of any trading strategy whether short, mid or long term.

Some volume trends worth noting include:-

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RSI Technical Indicator

RSI otherwise known as the Relative Strength Index is a measure of strength or momentum in the price action of a stock, commodity, ETF or other tradeable instrument. It measures the magnitude of price action strength on a relative scale and is displayed as an oscillator with a measurement parameter between 0 and 100. The top range e.g. 70-100 typically indicates relatively overbought conditions whereas the bottom range 0-30 can indicate oversold conditions within a given or chosen timeframe. The longer the timeframe over which this is measured the stronger the signal as a function of trend.

Investors and traders will use this signal to gauge - over different timeframes - from days to years, potential buy and sell decisions or portfolio rebalancing decisions. As with all technical signals they should be used in concert with other technical signals to confirm the probability or weighting of that signal's validity. Technical analysis can provide probability weightings for buy sell decisions providing a statistical bell curve that will indicate how often a signal or combination of signals in a given market, under various economic conditions and different timeframes is accurate with respect to signalling a change in trend.

As you can see on the diagram in the left, the yellow circles show corresponding lows and highs in the weekly stock price of SESN as well as a corresponding RSI indicator below 30 and above 70. RSI indicators can show multiple signals above 70 or below 30 so the first time the line crosses over these values does not necessarily mean a low or high has been reached which is why it is best to use technical analysis in combination with a range of different signals to get a higher probability signal or confirmation of whether a shift in price trend - up or down - is pending.

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The Case for Negative Interest Rates - Rationale, Risks and Origins

Why on earth would a bank charge negative interest rates? It's so " upside down" and counter-intutive we thought it would be a good idea to cover the topic in this weeks blog post.

During times of economic uncertainty central banks lacking in policy alternatives to stimulate the economy have turned to unconventional policies such as negative interest rates to stimulate the economy. The use of negative interest rates is a tool to counter potential deflationary spirals where - in times of economic uncertainty - there is less incentive on the part of businesses and consumers to spend and therefore less investment, growth, profits and a higher propensity for unemployment which in turn creates a negative feedback loop. By offering negative interest rates banks disincentivize individuals and businesses to hold cash at banks as it now costs depositors money to do so (which turns the traditional banking model on its head) and encourages businesses and individuals to borrow money by actually being paid to borrow by the banks.

Sweden was the first to experiment with negative rates in July 2009 when the Reiksbank cut interest rates to -.25%. The ECB (European Central Bank) did so in 2014 lowering its interest rate to -0.10%. Other European countries and Japan have done likewise with over $10 trillion in government debt carrying instrument with negative yields by 2017. The objective is to encourage banks to lend money rather than hold reserves at the central banks (where they are now charged for the privilege). Another objective is to use negative interest rates to devalue a currency and in essence make it more competitive, stimulating the economy through demands for export of goods and thereby encouraging business expansion.  This has been one of the objectives of the ECB.

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28 Trillion Reasons to be Vigilant

$28 Trillion - take a moment to reflect on this number - is the current total of the US National Debt. As of June 17th it is precisely $28,311,074,615,442.85. We titled this blog post "28 Trillion reasons to be vigilant" because this number is not going down, has not gone down in the last 15 years and is unlikely to go down. So, what does this mean for the USA and for you?

1.The cost of servicing the national debt as a percentage of US revenue is going up.

2.If interest rates rise significantly, even as high as 3-4%, how sustainable is servicing the national debt? The Fed has a significant incentive - 28 trillion incentives - to keep interest rates as close to zero for as long as possible without going into negative yield territory. This would very likely have been the case had COVID never happened. COVID however has provided the US a perfect storm to do keep interest rates at all time lows and inject $6 trillion and counting into the economy. This serves several national purposes: It provides massive liquidity to withstand the shock of COVID, it devalues the US dollar by doing so, which in turn dilutes the national debt value, it keeps interest payments on the national debt as low as possible and it allows for the most optimum conditions for the economy to return to pre-COVID employment numbers.

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Identifying Trends and Moving Averages

Stock, Commodity or Bond prices do not move in a straight line. All fluctuate with changing variables including but not limited to economic, political, competitive, human or technological factors. Identifying price trends is the underlying basis of technical analysis and critical to traders and investors whether it is over a short, medium or long term basis. To do this, the technical analyst has hundreds of technical indicators at their disposal that are now also woven together in trading algorithms, AI (artifical intelligence) and trading BOT's that operate independent (largely) of any human.

Today we are going to discuss 'moving averages" which track trendlines. There are only 3 potential trendlines for any security which is Up, Down or Sideways. Moving averages track and chart prices - over different timelines - and with different formulas. For example, a simple moving average charts the closing prices of stocks over periods such as 20, 50, 100, 200 or 400 or more days. An exponential moving average places more emphasis and wieght on recent price changes than past price changes. These moving averages can be used to track micro, medium and macro trends and trends within trends. Certain moving averages are better suited or more accurate depeding on the timeline being measured. As the name suggests "moving average trend lines track "averages" which inevitably do not account for unexpected sudden events. They are "reactionary" pattern indicators and predictive only to a certain extent. As such they have value for investors or traders but they are not absolute.

Moving indicators track trends and the convergence of various moving indicators can provide "confirmatory strength" signals of a trend or additional weighting to the preponderance of a trend. Again, while no signal is written in stone, they must be understood in the context of "probability analysis" and historic metrics which in turn provide "odds". On a relative basis, these odds can determine risk and positioning in time and over time. For example if a 20 day average crosses a 50 day moving average or a 50 day average crosses a 200 day moving average to the upside or the downside, these can be indicative of a supporting trend and it's strength or weakness.

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