Thursday, December 18, 2008


This is a vertical drop on the USDX chart; which seems to have accelerated after the FED rate cut announcement.
The currency charts below are 3month and 1year charts of the respective currencies, with the 1 year chart commencing mid December 2007
The charts are from the CNBC Currency webpage:
The Japanese Yen strengthened consistently through 2008, as carry trade unwinding and the sell off across asset classes intensified.

The EURO and the Swiss Franc (CHF) have rebounded strongly this past fortnight. Is the ECB going to be next in line with aggressive rate cuts? Also now that the Fed is ready to buy anything and everything, (by doing whatever it takes to sort things out) is the ECB too going to get into the act?

The British Pound (GBP) has struggled this year, and as the UK housing market continues to deteriorate; 2009 is going to be particularly difficult for the British economy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Well, the Federal Reserve cut the main U.S. interest rate to a target range of between 0 - 0.25 %
Clearly the FED is now ready to do whatever it takes, even if it means bailing out all the incompetent or greedy or 'too big to fail' entities there are out there!!!
Makes me wonder why the auto bailout is still on hold?????

Sooner or later we will reach a point when there are going to be just too many to bailout/save.
Remember the days when a $700Bn bailout was a Wall Street stunning event! ( actually that was as recently as Sept 2008; we clearly have come a long way !)
Right now, the FED promises to buy MBS and Agency Debt, in order to finally stabilize the US Housing market, even as the USD continues to slide against major currencies, continuing the trend of recent days.
As I write this, Gold is up $ 20 at $855.60 and the DJIA is up over 334 POINTS AT 8900!

Somethings gotta give. Its just a matter of when not if.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


In recent posts, I noted that the USD had started to lose ground against a basket of currencies.
Here's the background on the USDX.
Since the USD bottomed out in mid July 2008, it has been in quite a steep uptrend, that is quite visible on the 3 year USDX chart.

According to some technical analysts, the USDX index has formed a head and shoulders trading pattern, and thus the next move will be DOWN ! Is this going to be a decisive move, or just a minor pull back after the recent USD rally? Gold meanwhile has been trading in the mid $830s.

Stockmarkets globally have recovered from recent lows, but are trading nervously ahead of the FED meet later today.
The '''Madoff scandal & ponzi scheme''' is yet another sign of the irrational excesses, lax regulation and manipulation of recent years.
Here's a an interesting take on the Madoff scandal by James West of the 'Midas Letter',

Monday, December 15, 2008


Things don't look too good. Upcoming factory shutdowns and layoffs in 2009 are going to add to the pain!!
And yes........the NBER has recently recognized the US Recession, as indicated by the shaded area in the chart.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


When you look at a chart that has witnessed an almost vertical drop, you know that its worth a second look!!!!! As the CRB Commodity Index shows, gains accumulated over the last 3 years were wiped out in 4 months!!
This deleveraging commodity meltdown has been much faster than most expected, as speculators and leveraged hedge funds have bailed on this once '''must have sector'''. Now that the'weak hands' have been forced out, commodities look interesting again!!!
Welcome to Commodities round 2!

While I am not a big fan of Base metals/metal ores, even these commodities have seen a sharp selloff! Given the global slowdown and recession we are in, industrial metals and ores could take a while to recover.
GOLD - meanwhile has held its own amidst all the turmoil in the credit markets, stock market and in the real economy. I repeat that Gold IS NOT A METAL, but a currency that is a true store of value.
It is one of the most liquid mediums of exchange; something that many high networth individuals who are trapped in ILLIQUID HEDGE FUNDS may now realise!

I continue to be quite optimistic on soft commodities, such as corn, wheat, soybean and other agriculturals, which continue to see growing demand in emerging markets along with the alarming possibilites of reduced acerage and farmer bankruptcies on the back of the recent food grain price collapse.
I have never been a supporter of using 'food for fuel', but irrespective of the meltdown in the ethanol industry, these food crops look interesting at this stage.

Coming to Crude Oil, although the selloff has been sharp, in the near term a demand slowdown can cap any attempts of a rally here. However you must remember that the recent strength in the USD has been showing some sings of weakening lately, and any USD currency volatility / crisis in 2009 will support crude oil prices even if demand fails to recover.
Longer term I remain an oil bull, given the lack of fresh capacities added, as also growing consumption in Asian economies.

Will post more on Crude Oil and Soft Commodities in coming weeks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Don’t quite know what to make of this, but if rumors are to be believed, the IMF is about to flood the gold market with Gold!! Upto 3000 Tons of it!!!

Also, saw this other crazy headline- US FED to issue debt!!!
Don’t quite know what to make of that either!!

While I put up the above mentioned links, that I came across in my daily scan of global financial news, I must state that I have no idea that such events are about to occur or have been planned.

Here's what I do know!
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past few months, it is the importance of the concept of ‘mean reversion’, something that everyone seems have forgotten after the extraordinary global growth over the last 5 year, albeit financed by ‘easy money’.
Also, give the excess manufacturing capacity (think China!) and excessive debt and overleveraging ( think U.S. Consumer and Investment banks) in the system, this deleveraging downturn is far from over!

P.S.: Gold is up $32 as I write this, currently trading at $ 808.20.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ABX - NEW LOWS- Update 4

Every time I write about the ABX Indices, I am shocked at the extent of the fall!
News lows—This is one mega subprime mess!

'The ABX Index is a series of credit-default swaps based on 20 bonds that consist of subprime mortgages.ABX contracts are commonly used by investors to speculate on or to hedge against the risk that the underling mortgage securities are not repaid as expected.'
8 DEC 2008

29 AUGUST 2008
March 24, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008


Simply stunning!!! We are either headed for a catastrophic 2009 where job losses are going to escalate and growth rates are going to turn sharply negative, or the world economy is in a state of 'irrational panic'.

Yields on 3 month U.S treasuries are near zero!!!
Points to note:

  • Is this a US Bond market bubble, as risk aversion has pushed international central banks to favour U.S. Treasuries over GSE debt?
  • Has this bond market bubble been supporting the USD?
  • As Crude Oil prices have corrected substantially, the Middle East nations are going to be less aggressive buyers of U.S. Treasuries.
  • Asian Central Banks are using their accumulated Forex Reserves to stimulate local economies by funding infrastructure projects, supporting their local banking industry and aiding sectors of the economy that are witnessing slowing growth; this is going to slow down purchases of US Treasuries. China, Russia and India are cases in point!
  • Lastly, when the 'shorts' sense overvaluation in any market, and once selling kicks in; beware a stampede out of this 'safe' haven.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Looking at these charts, its easy to see the similar manner in which markets fell, after hitting all times highs, in 1929 and 2007. (Click on the charts for a closer look)
While no two crises are identical, and government policy responses in 2007-2008 have been far more aggressive, as compared to actions taken in the aftermath of 1929, no one can guarantee that this is the ultimate solution that will solve all our troubles. (Do Paulson & Bernanke actually have things under control!!!!)

Jesse Livermore the legendary stock market speculator once said, ‘‘ The average man doesn’t wish to be told that it is a bull market or a bear market. What he desires is to be told specifically which particular stock to buy or sell. He wants to get something for nothing.’’

While I’m not saying that we are headed for another great depression, the question I’m trying to address is – ‘What’s an investor to do now?’

For example, if the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJIA) were to come down to a level of 7000 ( Yesterday's close: 8419.09), it would imply a further drop of almost 17%.
The DJIA at 7000 would mean a crash of almost 50.58 % from the record highs.
Impossible? Here’s an analysis.

In the initial fall of the 1929 Crash, the DJIA witnessed a similar vertical drop. The current crash in the DJIA occurred over a longer time frame, with the all time high being 14,164.53 on 9th October 2007. It must be noted however, that the DJIA was trading at around the 13,000 levels as recently as May 2008.

As an investor or a speculator, would you play for a bounce or a sustainable long term recovery now? Fundamental news continues to deteriorate, take for example the fall in auto sales announced yesterday, or Bernanke’s comments that further rate cuts (without more bailouts) may not be enough to save the day!!

Should a long term investor buy in now or wait?
It’s important to consider the possibility of things really taking a turn for the worse.
I mean, some people who bought stocks in 1932 actually made money in a depression, as compared to those who bought in November 1929.

Do you sell out now?
For those that are stuck with stocks bought at much higher prices- Analyse your reasons for buying the stock in the first place. Has there been a significant deterioration in the company's business or industry fundamentals. Is the company struggling to raise debt or meet interest payments?
Lastly, do you sell out now, or wait for the illusive bounce which could be on the cards?

The answer to these questions will depend on your individual risk profile, investment/trading time horizons and ability to survive the ongoing financial storm. Yes even good businesses and companies with stong cash flows and fundamentals will see their stock prices crash in such a meltdown. Decisions must be taken by considering the adequate margins of safety you need, and the maximum losses that you are willing to take if the situation continues to deteriorate.
REMEMBER : Your LIQUIDITY position will determine your success or failure rate.
You must be able to buy, when everyone is forced to sell-----(Yes easier said than done, considering its impossible to ever call a bottom for any market).This has been the hallmark of all the great investors, traders and speculators, be they Warren Buffett, Jim Rogers, Marc Faber or George Soros.

Here’s what I’m doing now.
In my personal portfolio in India, I continue to hold on to core long term holdings. For the record,I have never held Real Estate stocks or stocks of Brokerage firms, whose values in my opinion may never ever reach their all time highs, much like the Nasdaq post 2000. I do believe that the broader market and certain stocks in particular, appear to be oversold here, so I am not a seller at these lows.
I am compiling a list of stocks I would like to buy, and am also considering investing in Index funds to play this oversold situation, for a bounce.
But as always, I will continue to add to gold positions on declines, and will use any significant stock market declines that trigger margin calls and cause selling in gold, to do so.

Lastly, as my disclaimer says 'Investors must carry out their own research & make their own informed investment decisions, using qualified independent advice. Always invest with an adequate margin of safety and know your own investment risk profile. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation to buy or sell any securities nor investments.'