Every advisor is likely already aware of the huge ruction that occurred in money markets this week. A number of short-term stresses sent over-night borrowing rates up to 10% this week before the Fed had to intervene to inject tens of billions of Dollars of liquidity to calm things down. Most media outlets have explained this as a number of cyclical short-term factors, without really giving any specifics. The whole episode has been curiously vague. This has led to an unusually fertile environment for rumors and speculation.
FINSUM: So our readers will know that we have been reporting for years, and we must say that this has been one of the oddest, mostly poorly reported, and vague events we have ever covered. None of the cited reasons of this money market flare up make much sense relative to the scale of money the Fed has pumped in. One of the best rumors we have heard is that there may be a bank failure coming. Just before this market flare up, oil jumped almost 20% in a day, its single largest one-day move ever. That kind of black swan event could easily destabilize a large financial institution if it was positioned the wrong way, and ultimately led to the kind of short-term funding desperation we saw before the last Crisis. This analysis is probably all wrong, but the situation must be taken seriously.
Oil took a phenomenal turn lower this week as news came out that half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production had been taken out via drone strikes. Yemeni’s took credit, but many suspect it actually came at the hands of Iran. Oil moved in a big way, up 20% at one point, representing the biggest percentage move in three decades. The drone strike is hugely consequential, as it removed 5% of the world’s daily oil supply. Airlines stocks were hit badly on the news, and Amazon may be the next big victim as higher oil prices mean higher shipping costs.
FINSUM: This big change is going to filter through markets in different ways, but the threat to Amazon seems real and very meaningful.
The inverted yield curve has investors feeling down on their luck at the moment. What is the best way to play the turmoil and volatility? The answer may be in two seemingly unlikely places. The first is in energy ETFs, especially oil. Energy stocks have traditionally done very well during inverted yield curves, so an ETF like XLE seems like a good bet right now. Additionally, tech ETFs such as Vanguard’s VGT could be a good play, according to Bloomberg. Tech has often done well during inversions in the past.
FINSUM: Recommending a tech ETF right now is the height of contrarianism. Tech is basically caught in the middle of the trade war, and frankly, seems like a bad buy.
All the signs seem to point to commodity prices headed lower. Why you may ask? Pretty simple—the economy looks to be weakening, so demand will be lower at a time when supply will stay high. But no so fast, says Evercore, who argues that oil prices may be in for a counterintuitive rise of at least 19% by the end of the year. Evercore contends that production will be flat this year, as OPEC is curtailing output. At the same time, global monetary policy easing is likely to sustain demand, meaning the basic picture for oil may be more bullish.
FINSUM: We think this is an optimistic view that does not take full account of the worsening economic outlook.
The Chinese Yuan reached a landmark and worrying level today. It fell to below 7 versus the Dollar, marking its weakest point in 11 years. The weakening currency could help Beijing offset economic weakness from tariffs. “We will see a new wave of depreciation among Asian currencies in the foreseeable future, and there could be further risk-off movements in the global markets. It looks like a tsunami is coming”, said an economist at Commerzbank. This will have major implications for commodities as China is the world’s biggest consumer, and now that the currency is weaker, it will be harder to buy, meaning prices must come down.
FINSUM: Dollar prices for commodities (almost all are priced in Dollars) will need to come down commensurately with the Yuan in order for the Chinese to maintain their purchasing power.