Now that we have had a chance to see how the dust settled after this historic day in the markets, there are some observations I would like to make.
I want to start out first with the junior mining shares, as evidenced by the GDXJ. The readers know that I have expressed concern over the fact that this group has been lagging the performance of the actual metal. Typically, in a strong upside run in gold, that is not the case as this index tends to outperform the metal itself.
Today, ECB president Mario Draghi announced his much awaited QE program that will allegedly save Europe from the imaginary perils of price deflation. See Deflation Bonanza! (And the Fool’s Mission to Stop It).
Stocks are up a bit, the dollar is up a bit, the yen is up a bit, and gold is up a bit. Oil is down a bit.
The details are more or less along the lines most thought, not the celestial “big bang” that everyone hoped.
Today the European Central Bank acknowledged that the currency it manages is being sucked into a deflationary vortex. It responded in the usual way with, in effect, a massive devaluation. Eurozone citizens have also responded predictably, by converting their unbacked, make-believe, soon-to-be-worth-a-lot-less paper money into something tangible. They’re bidding gold up dramatically.
Good News Or Bad News?
Once upon a time something good happened for Europe. The price of oil went down dramatically. When the oil price halved in the last months of 2014, there was no way for the European Central Bank (ECB) to fulfill its mandate of keeping price growth close to 2 percent a year. The ECB painted itself into a corner by targeting headline inflation, not core inflation, which excludes food and energy. Left with no choice, the ECB announced on 22nd January 2015 that it would begin printing digital money in large quantities, ie, start Quantitative Easing or QE in the near future. Contrary to popular myth, QE doesn’t fight ‘deflation’, it rather causes it by keeping zombie banks alive. Why? Quantitative easing simply buries money in commercial bank vaults, by bolstering their balance sheets, when it is cash in circulation that is desperately needed.
Gold ended 2014 essentially breakeven, being slightly down (1½%). It was a choppy year for gold and a bad year for gold shares.
But it looks like the bear market may now be coming to an end. In fact, it could happen at any time.
The seemingly never ending fall in the oil price, the plunging euro and petro currencies, and weaker stocks all pushed safe haven buying to bonds and gold as the new year got started.
Dr. Kent Moors writes: As we shift into the “post-oil age,” one thing is very clear: This is no longer a zero sum game.
While crude will continue to be the star, other sources of energy will start to gain market share.
A new energy balance will begin to take hold, and it will have less and less to do with crude.
Shah Gilani writes: Pssst! Do you want to make some money trading some initials? Real easy money?
For real. I just made my subscribers 382% trading these initials. And we’re not done. After closing out our 382% gain, we’re in the same trade again, and we’re up 180% in just a few weeks – and still going.
We’re also in a conservative trade, trading the same initials mind you, and we’re up 41% there.
Jared Dillian writes: This week’s big news, of course, continues to be the massive revaluation of the Swiss franc (CHF). It’s perhaps the first instance of a G10 currency going up 16% in a single day.
From a strategy standpoint, there really is only one way to interpret this, as many people already have: it’s the end of central bank omnipotence.
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Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle today at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Fink discussed the European Central Bank’s asset-purchase plan and the outlook for the euro-dollar exchange rate, Federal Reserve policy and the U.S. economy. He also spoke about the Swiss National Bank’s decision to abandon its currency cap.
Reacting to the ECB’s quantitative easing announcement, Fink said: I think we’ve seen over the last few years you have to trust in Mario…the market should not doubt Mario. He’s been able to pull this through…This monetary policy is going to keep the euro weak. And I think a weakened euro will allow European companies to improve. So I do think the European economies will be marginally better this year than last year."
As recently as a few weeks ago, the European Union directed its member nations to draft their own independent legislation for dealing with the resolution of a failed G-SIFI (Globally Significant Financial Institution). At the same time, we have all sorts of seams opening in the currency, bond, and commodity markets. The Swiss Franc is now un-pegged from the Euro, there have been wild swings in the bond markets in Europe due to the aforementioned action, and oil is in an absolute free-fall. There are many geopolitical (and likely criminal) maneuverings behind all of these phenomena, however the chaos in the financial world thus far has been remarkable in that there hasn’t been much given everything going on.
Marc Lichtenfeld writes: Last Thursday, the front page headline of the USA Today Money section read “Stock Plunge Digs Deeper.” Above it was a graphic showing that since December 31, 15 days earlier, the Dow Jones Industrials had fallen 2.2%.
The article went on to recount the prior day’s trading when the Dow fell 187 points, or 1.1%. A poor showing for sure, but hardly anything to get excited about.
Dr. Steve Sjuggerud writes: "Today may be the very top in the U.S. dollar," I told Liz Claman on Fox Business’ "Countdown to the Closing Bell" last Friday.
The U.S. dollar has soared over the last several months. And it has now become a crowded trade. I told Liz that no one expects the dollar to fall today… but that’s what I’m betting on.
Why is the Fed threatening to raise interest rates when the economy is still in the doldrums? Is it because they want to avoid further asset-price inflation, prevent the economy from overheating, or is it something else altogether? Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see why the Fed might want to raise rates prematurely. It all has to do with the sharp decline in petrodollars that are no longer recycling into US financial assets.
Briefly: In our opinion, no speculative positions are justified.
Our intraday outlook remains neutral, and our short-term outlook is neutral:
Intraday (next 24 hours) outlook: neutral
Short-term (next 1-2 weeks) outlook: neutral
Medium-term (next 1-3 months) outlook: neutral
Long-term outlook (next year): bullish
Rajveer Rawlin writes: While the financial media is absolutely infatuated with stocks hitting new highs everyday, we would do well to pay attention to some ongoing bear markets:
1) Japanese stocks continue to languish under the effects of deflation following a well over 26 year old bear market, down over 50% from the highs set in 1989.
Although the crisis in Ukraine continues to focus attention on Russia’s western border, Moscow is seeking to exploit a more lucrative prize along its vast northern frontage: the Arctic Circle. Melting ice has opened up new transit routes and revealed previously inaccessible oil and mineral deposits. Facing a year of harsh economic constraints, securing exploitable energy reserves remains a top priority for Moscow. The planned militarization of the Arctic is already underway, and funding is secured through 2015 (the Ministry of Defense was the only Kremlin ministry not to be curtailed in the most recent budget.) With Russia aiming to consolidate its strength by the end of the year, surrounding countries are already reassessing their positions in the face of an overwhelming regional force.
Michael E. Lewitt writes: My continuing search for sectors of the stock market that are trading cheaply and offer the potential for gain has led me to a controversial slice of the market: bank stocks.
Looking at the “Big Four” in the U.S. banking sector, it’s easy to conclude that the sector is undervalued…
But that conclusion may be a bit misleading.