Friday, February 25, 2011

Is that a Pink Flamingo I See?

TMM are reminded of Macro Man’s words regarding Pink Flamingo’s at this point in time:

Recent market price action has started to remind Macro Man of an episode from his distant youth, nearly 30 years ago. People did strange things in the 1970's, and he remembers a "game" played by various households in his neighbourhood in what must have been 1979 or so. One family bought a pink lawn flamingo, such as that pictured to the left, and stuck in the lawn of a neighbour. There followed several months of "pass the parcel", wherein the flamingo would magically appear on the front lawn of a different house every few days or so.

And it seems to have been for macro thematic trades, where the "pink flamingo" of position unwinding has been passed from market to market.

With Libya looking increasingly like it is descending into a tribal civil war TMM have come to the conclusion that recent events in the markets have moved so fast and so unexpectedly that the thematic trade unwind - Qaddafi assassination/SPR rumours and equity bounce notwithstanding - is likely to continue into the weekend and month end, and arguably the next few weeks. Long oil and the EM/DM thing were arguably quite “owned” by the fast money set but the massive blow in front end crude vol and decline in E-minis these last few days are indicative of the “get me a chopper and get me out of risk fast” trade.

In the E-minis TMM note that over the last few days the JBTFD crew has been out in force only to see them fade into the afternoon. Indeed, they find it remarkable that despite Oil trading ten Bucks or so off its highs that equities have not really managed to bounce in any material way. To that end we are expecting a lot of very crowded thematic trades to start unwinding if they have not done so already including – but not limited to the following.

1) Super Growthy Tech Names: For this TMM can give no better example than Baidu. It trades at about 78x trailing earnings and aside from being expensive it has also had two very, very bad things happen to it for those who know much about China: a government sponsored entity has become a competitor to it, and it has started to receive a number of anti-monopoly suits that are being reported in the media. TMM know that this is not Baidu’s first day in court but the play these cases are getting in state media may be indicative of something more sinister. The whole street assumes Baidu keeps its 80% stake in search going forward so there is plenty of room to disappoint and with 7%+ of the company owned by hedge funds thoughts of disorderly exits from burning theaters have crossed TMMs minds. Netflix, with the launch of Amazon Prime video streaming is probably in this bucket too – catalyst + prospect of oil shock recession = not a whole lot is going to trade at >50x PE.

2) Japan Equities are About to Get Slugged by Oil: Japan is incredibly dependent upon oil and it imports most of it from the Middle East. The BP Statistical review has this snappy chart you can see below.

Much of Japan’s recent recovery has been driven by consumption and unusually low savings rates – one can safely assume that if oil stays high more of that income is going to get spent on oil and general economic conditions will deteriorate. It also does the trade balance now good, which makes TMM think that the JPY rally is more panic driven – once the panic subsides and people realize that Japan is a major importer with a lot of other structural issues the buying should abate. The rest of Asia will be affected too but they are likely to respond by revaluing their currencies up. The recent outperformance in the Nikkei is likely over until further notice and the JPY is likely not far behind it. NOKJPY is the usual way this one is played though it was doing well before Gaddafi turned out the lights on Silvio’s court proceedings by shutting off the gas to Italy. The recent rally JPY on the back of this is further proof of TMM’s prediction that trading JPY this year was not going to be easy.

3) MXNZAR: Somewhat obscure cross but basically long a US growth proxy and short a basket case country with a central bank that is dovish. Sadly aforementioned basket case is the world’s largest gold producer, Mexico’s oil reserves are depleting and US growth isn’t looking so great here. Unwind well underway.

4) Long Ags: A crowded trade that has likely seen its best – front end contracts in wheat are already taking a pummeling and cotton is ending the only way it could – badly. The one to watch of course is corn which can, using a combination of wastefulness, human stupidity and enormous subsidies into a combustible fuel.

TMM have no doubt that there are others and we would like to hear from you. One thing is for sure – with a lot of crowded consensus trade and lot of unwinding to do it is going to be a very ugly month and likely quarter end for a lot of people.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Flamingo watchlist in addition to those already outlined.

cad/jpy.
2/10 flattener in Europe
eur/pln
usd/sgd
erm1 98.75calls - not necessarily widely owned but 1 player who shall remain nameless sure likes owning it in various structures

Anonymous said...

HY credit on revised assumptions for DM/US growth

Nic said...

Hello, long time.
I don't know if they were unwinding or puking on each other in Silver yesterday. Would not be surprised to see a pink flamingo in that market.

Anonymous said...

the "cloud" ... seems just like solar. great idea but lofty valuations and only a few real winners (most likely not the companies but the users)

FX said...

I'm to busy stalking Betty,no flamingo,I know,but what can I say,I love it,.

Anonymous said...

palladium!
em credit - arg
usdrub

Leftback said...

HK real estate operations
Uranium miners
US retail - $gaso rising, recovery slowing

Anonymous said...

gotta hate betty

Anonymous said...

Pavlovian response in JPY + "how the f***" is a hiking cycle positive for this debt-ridden country" = dooown goes Bettyen.

CV said...

Ahh good, I was wondering when we would hear about them pink flamingos. What about the USD in general ... shouldn't the Greenie have rallied strongly on this week's risky asset gore show (some pick up today, but still) ...

Claus

Anonymous said...

CV
That's exactly what's struck me.The $ saw no uplift.Either oil and Lbyia just was not exciting enough to really worry the market,or the market just decided that the $ is not worthy of consideration has a safe haven anymore.

CV said...

Thanks Anon @ 4.26 PM ... I am happy that I am not the only one. You may be right about the USD, but as I noted to my colleagues yesterday ... a put option on the AUDUSD to sell at 1.01 (and a tad) seems a mighty good insurance policy at this point and one which should come in handy if the world goes belly up ..

(assuming of course the USD will reassert itself ;))

Claus

Leftback said...

Chaps

BUCKY can't rally right now, not while lots of hedgers are buying oil futures in dollars in large size. Which includes most of the world's airlines, among others.

A sharp rally in USD will accompany the eventual unwind of this oil spike and disrupt a number of carry trades. A sort of 2008 in miniature.

Flamingo: Muammar Ghaddafi March calls.

Nemo said...

Some really good suggestions here -

1) Yes viz the cloud this is just going to get commoditized hence why there is a spot market emerging for computing power. All it is going to do is allow super dooper low entry costs for products that exist in the cloud and without some way for Amazon to launch the "cloud store" its hard to see that panning out. I do think the equilibrium here is for the rents to go to the producers of the content - god knows they've been waiting a long time for the economics to pan out as such.

2) On all things xxxJPY I was at GS's macro conference this week and Perry's Alp Ercil had a good point about JPY and JGBs - the only bid for these has been the domestic banks since net saving has been on a slide for some time but banks went to JGBs for yield and safety during the recession. Any further recovery could lead to them selling and precipitating the much awaited Japanese fiscal crisis. That combination of recovery and then monster rate rise could be one hell of a ride.

3) No $ uplift.... yup. Anecdotally Voldy and the gang have been v quick to offer out treasuries and "diversify".

4) Uranium Miners: FML these things are expensive. I just don't get it - great future for the market but fuel reprocessing and the millions of tons of proven reserves really should keep a cap on this stuff.

Anonymous said...

How on earth do minuscule flows into oil futures from airlines (which are *always* hedging completely unrelated to geopolitics) impact the world's largest market (USD FX)? Oh well, these theories, if you can call them that, are always good for a chuckle.

CV said...

Yes, Japan is getting a lot of attention at the moment vis a vis this

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/02/worlds-largest-pension-fund-needs-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MishsGlobalEconomicTrendAnalysis+%28Mish%27s+Global+Economic+Trend+Analysis%29

BUT remember, corporate savings are still high and growing and of course, the end game will be the BOJ stepping in to do the bid ... so, yields in Japan will stay where they are ... low. I think this will become a very imminent strategic objective for the BOJ very soon.

Claus

Leftback said...

Anon @ 4:42's comment appears to be a superficially sophisticated putdown that actually reveals a lack of understanding of how all markets are interlinked (isn't that why we read this blog?). Allow me to educate you, Mighty One...

Many large markets are primarily momentum driven and have as participants extremely large automated trading operations. When these markets are at the tipping point (equal flows), a lot of interesting things can happen.

For example, let's postulate a sudden sharp rise in crude prices triggers buy programs in energy stocks at a huge number of hedge funds that use leveraged dollar carry trades, so even modest flows in crude futures can move the direction of FX via the associated markets that are linked to FX.

This isn't really brain surgery, old chap.

Anon @ 4:42 said...

Thanks for that... So it's really the bloody airlines who drive the dollar exchange rate per your convoluted crude -> FX causality model.

I'm glad we have someone who has a definitive knowledge of all market mechanics, and even knows what markets "will" do in the future.

You must be the richest man in the world...

Anonymous said...

very good point on Jap equities, I am not sure why Asia ex-Jap should be spared; these folks have inflation but they like the chinese are grappling with rapidly declining competitiveness vs eastern europe. On an inflation adjusted basis, even without any further appreciation, most Asian currencies (except the vietnamese dong which have stayed the same thanks to opposite effect of inflation and devaluation) have already gained 10% in cost vs the euro and other currencies, and that includes China which the Asians use as benchmark. Asian stocks' rebound yesterday looks like a good entry short to me, especially if it retraces up to 2/3 of its recent losses.

Jim said...

Great post, and Claus right on - I was thinking the same thing, Dollar should have been much stronger Wed-Thurs. We'll see what happens with Euro (versus all save the USD) next week... big downdraft baby let's see it!

Polemic said...

Maybe its the reverse re usd.. look at aud/usd. Near highs and the market is actually flatter than it's been relative to price highs for ages. As for what "should" happen.. that's the whole point, market correlations have broken down everywhere. We have ended up with all correlation plays over two weeks of risk carnage saying and trading aud/usd for a dump, but it hasn't. So what next? An updraft to new highs I reckon.

Anonymous said...

you can look at the CAD too. It seems like to a lot of folks the resource twins somehow replaced America as the 'safe heaven.'
So good luck to all their non-resource exporters, especially Canada.

Anonymous said...

Nomura had an ok piece in their fx weekly on why prior oil spikes have been $ bearish and thus rationale for why risk-off this time hasn't given the buck a bid.

Anonymous said...

so smashing betty is long term trade or what ? like from last year lows ?