- Oil is up over
- My TDI signal has just triggered. Yesterday my taxi driver said it was due to China slowdown. I wasn’t sure what was due to China as I wasn’t listening to that bit, only being triggered into awareness by the ‘due to China slowdown’ bit. Which was followed by a comment on oil prices. the Taxi Driver Indicator is a time honoured indicator of mine which has wonderfully predictive turn calling abilities and is used to confirm the 'Gone Tabloid' function, which in itself follows on from the "Armchair General Indicator' which the BBC's economic journalist Robert Peston triggered on Monday.
- Liquidity. My views on why illiquidity driven moves are as much an opportunity as trouble have been previously published here.
-VaR. If everything told you that the bottle of whisky I was offering you was genuine and you knew that the only reason I was selling it to you for 10p rather than £18 was because I couldn’t fit it in my flight luggage due to weight restrictions, would you refuse it because the price had just moved 99% lower so was very likely to move another 99% against you? - Because that is exactly what using value at risk (VaR) models results in. Just when you want to buy value, your volatility driven model says you can only buy a tiny amount.
As a quick aside I was pondering setting up a fund with a reverse VaR function and seeing how it got on. Of course all the fund consultants and allocators would have pink kittens at the very thought of allocating to such a fund, but I have the killer reason for them to do so - diversification. Diversification has kept many an appalling performing fund alive and I bet there aren't any funds out there offering diversification of risk in risk. (Make cheques payable to....)
Data - The data coming out from western economies is pretty strong. Though the market is anticipating a massive slowdown caused by China it isn't here yet and if it is anything like predicting the Fed, any interpretation of the future will be made irrelevant by new information emerging before the event arrives.
- Equity indices are through their original dead cat bounce highs. But expectations that this is just a bounce dominate. Expectations of SPX hitting 2050 again in the next 2 weeks appear minimal (update, well they might be now). The shake down we have just seen never had all the ingredients needed for a full scale collapse. The recovery in oil and commodities is solid and new ultra-doom calls based on China will most likely, as with Greece, need to be put back on the shelf ready to be brought down as bear food to justify any subsequent falls. China and Greece may be chronic but they are not acute.
Where are we? I don’t think the anatomy of this crash is truly crash like. Granted, we have China and commodity stories, but the part of the equation that doesn’t fit for me is the mood. Post financial crisis the mood has been one of perpetual doom with an expectation of each subsequent crisis being observed as ‘the big one’. Yet they never are. The last few years' stock rally has been the most fought rally I have ever observed. I still find it hard to believe that we are due a really big correction until we have had the exuberance phase where exuberance has leverage in tow. If something is believed to be such a sure fire bet then it is worth mortgaging the kids for.
Yes, various sectors have seen prices pushed to levels that are hard to justify using normal metrics, but they have not been employing enormous leverage. The rally over the last few years hasn’t so much been so much one of exuberance but more of one of reluctance driven by a desperation for yield.
Here's a map which represents the classic phases of an asset price.
We can ooh and aah at it and instantly suggest that it represents the Chinese stock market pretty well
But where the Chinese and Western stock markets differ is that the Chinese market went through the mania phase with leverage being prolifically employed by the general population and many a Chinese taxi driver piling in.
Western markets have not enjoyed the mania phase and general public leverage into the stock market is not being deployed. I have had it rightly suggested to me that the 2007/8 crash didn't see a stock mania before crashing, but it did see massive leverage unwound from society and the destruction of money in circulation. All crashes involve the unwind of leverage but there is little evidence of leverage in the stock market and I would imagine there is dramatically less after the actions of this week.
Instead I am suggesting that we are only at the bear trap in the 'awareness' phase of the map. We have the mania, leverage and completely stupid stock boom ahead of us.
I know that this is a pretty punchy call but the more derision it receives the more evidence I have that the market is not thinking it, let alone positioned for it.