Michael Lewitt is one of the most provocative writers I know. He consistently gives me something to chew on with his monthly letter. How he comes up with all those quotes (usually from sources I have never read but should have) amazes me. He has a unique view of the markets as he run Collateralized Debt Obligation funds and really understand the nitty-gritty of the bond and credit markets.
His work is subscription only, but he has graciously allowed me to use his latest piece as this week’s Outside the Box. For those interested in subscribing, you can go to his website at www.hcmmarketletter.com.
And if you haven’t already voted in the US, then do so. I am somewhat of a political junkie. My normal election night routine is stay up watching the various news channels, “Tivoing” what I am not watching so I can skip the commercials and watch at least three channels. Sadly, I will be getting on a plane Tuesday late afternoon to London so will not know what happens until I get to my hotel. Some quick news feed and then onto the office of Variant Perception where my co-author Jonathan Tepper and I will bury ourselves for four days finishing the book.
Your hoping the Rangers can pull it out analyst,
There is the strong possibility that policy makers in the US and UK will not time the transition from the current quantitative easing to a more tightened monetary policy. That is not because they are no competent. It is because the task is very tricky and there is no play book outlining the steps. This is not Tom Landry (former Dallas Cowboy coach) pacing the field with a play for every situation already planned and practiced well in advance.
The odds favor they will either be too late or too early. Getting it "just right." The Goldilocks play, would be more than fortunate. In fact, there may be no right play to call. They may be forced to choose between a slower economy and/or inflation/deflation. And as this week's Outside the Box authors note, there is also the possibility of yet another asset bubble, making the choices even more risky.
Those who are absolutely positive about which of a variety of outcomes will emerge have a level of clairvoyance with which I am not familiar. It makes risk asset (like stocks) investing particularly tricky right now. This is a time to be nimble and avoid creating opportunities for large losses if you are wrong.
We will start this week's OTB with a few paragraphs from the Bank Credit Analyst about the Great Depression and then move on to a piece from the London office of Morgan Stanley on the problems facing central bankers.
And on a less ominous but more important note, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has issued a warrant for my arrest which goes into effect on August 26th! I will be held at the PM Lounge in the Joule Hotel from 3-6. My bail is set at $2,400, which will benefit local families living with neuromuscular disease. No one person can set me free. It will take a little help from all of my friends, family, colleagues and enemies! Please use the link below to visit my Bail Page and help me post my bond by contributing in any way that you can. Thank you for having a big heart! And come see me in jail!
And now, the thoughts from BCA.
This week I offer something unusual for outside the Box, in that I agree on almost all points with my friend David Rosenberg, except he tells it so much better than your humble analyst. David was the former Chief Economist at the former Merrill Lynch (ah, Mother Merrill, we barely knew ye.) and is now Chief Economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., which is one of Canada's pre-eminent wealth management firms. Founded in 1984, they manage $4.4 billion. (For those who wonder, David left NYS to return home to Toronto. Much shorter commute time.) David looks at the recent stock market run-up, why he likes corporate bonds better than stocks, what is lagging with the consumer and a lot more. It is a very pithy read.
Have a good week, I am off to a beach in a few days, but there will be an e-letter this Friday. You are in good hands.
Your looking forward to reading with drinks with little umbrellas analyst,
I've been in this business a long time. Some days it feels like a very long time. But never in all the years that I've been in the financial markets have I felt like business per se has less impact on my investment decisions. Let me explain.
GM shares have gone from being a claim on earnings from car sales to being a call option on whether the US government will extend another lifeline. Banks' capital structures have gone from being the province of Boards of Directors and CFOs to the "expertise" of Congressional committees and appointed regulators. Used to be when I thought about Financial Centers New York and London came to mind. Instead now I have to think about Washington and Brussels.
My friend George Friedman and his team at STRATFOR are where I turn when I need help thinking about these new realities. George's team provides me context and understanding of the environment in which financial developments are going to take place. I may tweak him about his ties, but if you saw George speak at my conference in La Jolla, you know that he's an absolutely compelling speaker. And it's small wonder that his latest book spent those weeks on the New York Times bestseller list too.
Below you'll find STRATFOR's 2Q Forecast. I hope you find it as helpful as I do in formulating my plans. What I can tell you with certainty is that if you're not taking into account the impact of geopolitical events on the markets, it's no different than trading agricultural futures without a weather forecast. George and his team provide their Members - myself included - with forecasts and on-going analysis that's invaluable in understanding the seachange in the global economy. And in exchange for me not teasing him any more, he's offering my readers a special rate on a STRATFOR Membership. Click here to join STRATFOR at this special rate and get access to a full year of the same geopolitical intelligence I use in my strategic planning. You'll be glad you did.
The credit markets are in turmoil. This week I have asked Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital in Florida to tell us what is going on from his perspective. Michael has been watching the credit markets from the inside for a long time. So, this week we have a sort of insider's Outside the Box.
Michael is one smart guy with a deep understanding of the markets, especially the credit markets, and how they work. I really look forward each month to getting Michael's insights. The firm manages domestic and offshore debt and equity hedge funds and separate accounts. This may get more technical for some readers, but keep reading, as you can get a sense of what we are really facing.
Who should we blame for the problems in the credit markets? This week in Outside the Box my good friend Barry Ritholtz takes on the task of pointing his prodigious finger at the guilty parties. As he notes, there is plenty of guilt to go around. This is a problem that is going to stay with us more than a few weeks. As I wrote last week, it is not a problem of liquidity. It is a problem of credibility. Until investors of all types feel safe getting back into the structured finance market water, US mortgages and all sorts of consumer finance are going to be severely hobbled. There is plenty of money on the sidelines, but it is going to take some work to make investors feel comfortable.
Part of that process is to figure out what went wrong and how do we avoid getting into this mess yet again? How do we restore credibility? I offer a few quick thoughts on this at the end of Barry's work. And if you have the time, you should click on some of the links Barry has to various research, especially the first link which shows that housing prices could easily drop 15% (or more in some of the bubble areas!).
Finally, I should note that I am going to be speaking yet again at the New Orleans Investment Conference (October 21-25, 2007). This is always one of the great investment conferences of the year. You can click here to learn more.
This week in Outside the Box we turn our eyes on Japan and as promised offer a report by macro-maven and good friend Greg Weldon. Japan is the world's second largest economy and a major source of liquidity. While China has captured the headlines in Asia, Japan is still the big economic dog and supplier of capital on the block.
Greg argues that there is the potential for another asset bubble popping in Japan at the same time as we see our housing market and subprime mortgages implode. That could have considerable implications for world wide liquidity and the yen carry trade.
While this prints out longer than usual, it is mostly charts, as Greg likes to illustrate his thinking with lots of graphs. Follow his logic and reasoning. He is pointing out a potential problem that no one else I know is paying attention to. At the end is an offer for a trial subscription to his work, which I find quite valuable.
Will the market rebound this week or continue last week's slide? Will the credit markets stop their turmoil? These are all questions that investors are confronted with by the financial press. In today's "Outside the Box," we will focus our attention on a well-thought out piece by John Hussman, Ph.D. John is the President of Hussman Investment Trust where he manages the Hussman Strategic Total Return Fund - HSTRX and the Hussman Strategic Growth Fund - HSGFX.
In his Weekly Market Comment, John addresses the recent market volatility and puts it in historical perspective, comparing it in duration to that of previous market cycles. We have currently gone almost 1200 days without a 10% correction, the second longest such period on record.
So, how does a money manager with these views cope in today's market? I keep John's comments about what he is doing in his fund so you can see what this highly regarded professional to hedge his bets. I think you will find what he is doing to be instructive.
While most investors continue to watch their streaming ticker for new record highs, we are patiently waiting for the raw data to form our investment decisions. I believe you find this commentary to be both valuable and "outside the box."
I probably get as many questions about gold as I do any subject. The fascination with the yellow metal permeates all levels of investors, and opinions can be quite strong. But few are more informed than those of good friend and trader extraordinaire, Greg Weldon.
Greg has written a new book called "Gold Trading Boot Camp, how to Master the Basics and Become a Successful Commodities Investor." I highly recommend it for those wanting to get a grasp of how a successful trader's mind works. Greg is one of the best and maybe the most prolific commentators on market trends. Up well before dawn each day, he is a machine. Each day he produces 15-20 pages of in-depth commentary on a huge variety of topics, both fundamental and technical, that informs some of the top trading desks in the world.
I asked him to give us some idea of what his book is about and then give us a top down view of the market for gold as it stands today. For those of you who follow gold, or are merely curious, I think you will find this fascinating.
You can get the book at Amazon.com. It is very readable. Greg has an effortless, unique style that is fun, fast-paced and easy to comprehend with not a lot of technical jargon to make it hard for the beginner yet enough insights that the professionals will be taking lots of notes.
Get the book and enjoy this week's Outside the Box.
Here is a different view on derivates that can help you with a basic understanding of the problem in the market and a look at gold. This comes from the HCM Market Letter by Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital in Florida.
This is a private letter for his clients and Michael is one smart guy with a deep understanding of the markets, especially the credit markets, and how they work. HCM deals in this world on a daily basis, so they can offer a somewhat inside view of derivatives and that is why it was picked for this week's Outside the Box.