This last week was full of reports of wide spread over valuations across the gamut of both global equity markets as well as global bond markets, especially Europe. Now we aren’t talking about some bobble headed main stream media types, we are talking about titans, the likes of Ray Dalio, Stan Drunkenmiller, Jeff Gundlach all relaying the same theme, “well above historical norms.” We even read a great piece on the PEG ratio from Fasanara Capital, which stated that the PEG, which is a statistical measure of how expensive a stock is relative to its ability to generate earnings, is well above 1999 highs and probably rightfully so given the plethora of cheap financing from zero rates, unprecedented HY rates and of course continued tax breaks. All that said, the pressure from the rhetoric from the guys we just mentioned should begin to mount, as they most certainly have an agenda attached to such warnings.
The FOMC decided to raise rates another 25bp to a high mark range of 2.25%. We applaud the continued move; however, we feel that we could be doing more and doing it faster. Holding interest rates or real rates still negative, some 10 years after the 2008 crisis is deeply concerning. All too often people focus on the Fed Funds rate, but the real rate, the FF less inflation, is still negative. Rates are still very accommodative...although the FED left that word out of the statement today. Watching Powell is like watching your Accounting professor discuss reconciling the balance sheet on a late spring afternoon. He and the FED continue to use words like transitory, gradual and appropriate, a decade into a recovery and we are still using these words. The dot plots are all calling for continued hikes peaking around 3.25/3.65%. We view this as highly opportunistic and we do not think the global economy nor the domestic economy will be able to absorb such a short rate given the sheer size of global debt growth. For those that haven’t seen, we often use our own “dot plot” picture:
We are going to keep this week’s letter short and to the point. We are sick and tired of the political charade that is ongoing in DC with the tariffs and the SC vote. For us general Americans deserve better and we will just leave it at that. As for the markets, US Treasury yields have risen above the 3% threshold and in no doubt in further anticipation of next week’s FOMC 25bp hike. We aren't a big fan of the FEDs slow drip process, we would rather they just hike the FED FUNDs above the 10yr rate and be done with it. With the ECB and BOJ firmly entrenched in continuing QE operations, the world will certainly absorb a relatively hawkish FED. Further evidence is mounting that the FED itself has become somewhat impotent and that these 25bp hikes amount to nothing more than buying time till the next crisis. Where they will most certainly peg long rates below 2.5%. Anyway, the global corporations have done their own fair share of monetary printing.
Just a quick note this week on a few of the things that stood out to us. Before we delve into the markets, we want to note that we lost someone special this week and our time has been devoted to celebrating a life long lived dedicated to helping those in need on Chicago’s west side. For nearly 60 years this man dedicated his life to medicine, surgery and the city in which he loved. He was inspired to come here after the US Army liberated his country and from then on, he knew he had a much larger purpose in life. That purpose, was to give back all he could, when he could and at any cost, he will be missed by many.
So let’s get to it, what did we learn over the past week? We were informed by Intel that its computer chips were affected by a bug that makes them vulnerable to hacking. All computers with Intel chips from the past 10 years are affected. Considering that computer chips are basically the backbone and brain behind everything electronic including the entirety of the internet itself, this should be very alarming news. We can’t say that we are surprised, we have said in many past writings that the internet itself will have to adapt to these internal threats. Not to mention the internet security threats that future quantum computing presents. To say that this news out of Intel is alarming, is quite an understatement and it’s why the future of technology will need to be completely and openly discussed by all major stakeholders. This will take a collaborative effort, one by which profits will need to be set aside for the greater good. Whether or not this can be achieved is another thing, but the viability of the internet, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence comes completely into question now. Intel’s stock price barely fell 5% and why should it, if these things need to be replaced, that means more sales and of course no rebates.
Also out this week the AP reported that the FED projects $80.2 billion in remittance back to the Treasury Dept. Here is a chart of the last decade in remittance. As you can see the FED has paid back billions to its enabler, is it safe to say this is like a drug kingpin and his pushers…maybe that’s too harsh…Anyway the charts show 3 years in a row of declining remittance and one thinks we can just continue to raise rates, can you imagine this levered behemoth and its Dv01 crushing leverage if equities turn and interest rates rise?