Monthly Strategy – August 2011

Global economic growth is clearly slowing down.

Economic Growth

U.S. is on a brink of returning to a recession. All major pieces of economic data are deteriorating. It’s hard to expect that during a pause in monetary stimulus and in a time when policy makers are disusing austerity and tax increases we will experience a self-sustained return to pre-crissis growth levels. The odds of some kind of additional monetary stimulus are rising. An unsustainable budget deficit and rising debt level are also problems that are moving into the spotlight and will gain in importance.

Developed Europe way of solving peripheral Europe debt problems is only a continuation of ‘kicking the can further down the road’ policy. This is becoming a factor that puts the sole existence of the common currency into question. In contrast to U.S, European counties have taken more prudent route and have chosen to moderate their expansive fiscal and monetary policies and this will take it’s toll with lower (than U.S.) economic growth.

Earthquake and tsunami stricken Japan deployed massive monetary stimulus. Rebuilding efforts will need massive financing which will mean more debt issuance. In the short term this will spur growth and revive the economy, but the consequences for the long term (Japan debt burden is already beyond anything labeled normal) could be dire…

Emerging markets are clearly two tiered. We have China as a global manufacturing power house and a massive commodity importer and on the other side rest of the Brasil and Russia which are big beneficiaries of China commodity expansion. So it all comes down to China.

China is tightening monetary policy both with rising bank reserve ratios and increasing key interest rate. Economic growth has clearly slowed. Rising interest rate do not bode well with real-estate bubbles, with fixed asset investment based economies, or with any kind of speculation… So, I would be very careful on China.

I think they there is a threat that monetary tightening will bring the economic growth bellow the threshold needed to keep the ponzi scheme fixed investment based economy running.  The alternative is to return to monetary expansion and suffer high inflation.

To sum up: All kind of headwinds ahead of the global economy. If we have rising commodity prices coupled with expansive monetary policies spurring inflation and anemic economic growth the result is my new mid-term base scenario – stagflation.


Everything is skewed to the downside. FED future actions will be a major factor.


I think that Mr. Bernanke game plan is to have interest rates low longer than anyone expects (I don’t expect a rise in 2011). I expect principal reinvesting will continue. I expect “extended period” formulation will be kept for a while.

I expect FED will announce further monetary measures aimed at keeping short term interest rates low. For the time being I expect FED will be successful.

Further down the road, inflation is a big threat…. Longer term bonds and inflation do not go hand by hand.


Potential inflation is a big generator in commodity investment flows with precious metals being the prime beneficiary.

Energy Commodities

Crude Oil – with Libya being out of the markets the excess capacity is almost nonexistent and when we couple this with loose monetary policy and declining dollar we have strong arguments to be bullish. On the other side we have a possible major risk-off event. I have neutral stance here.

U.S. natural gas – the supply/demand balance is bad. The only hope is that redirection of LNG cargoes to Japan will bring the supply down. Storage smaller than expected in last couple of weeks. Could become interesting this fall…

Industrial Commodities

This is the weakest link in the commodity universe. I’m continuously puzzled by aluminium strength.

Copper – one of rare commodities with deficit in production. On the other hand price is pressured by large  (Chinese) stockpiles.

Agricultural Commodities

Apparently China has started to boost its inventory of agricultural commodities. This means long all the way.

Precious Metals

I am not buying the conspiracy theories surrounding the precious metals complex (especially silver), but I think that no one can refute scarce physical supply. Long all the way.


I think the U.S. dollar is undervalued, but  ECB key interest rise is a strong factor in prolonging the time to the trend reversal.

I believe Yen is set to weaken on massive Japanese QE  and subsequent resumption of the world’s favorite carry trade.

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