Commodities, aside from gold, mostly had a bad year. Figure 3 shows how commodities have developed in comparison to the US stock market. The essence is that commodities have never been worth so little in comparison to equities and after each crisis, there was a huge turning point. The worst start in 2020 certainly had oil, whose futures (WTI Crude) went negative when the crisis picked of steam in developed economies, which was thought to be impossible. It then recovered fairly quickly and stabilized at $40 for WTI Crude ever since, which was the case for most commodities. Towards the end of November, it started to surge again and continued to do so in December and is currently at $47 per barrel. A major driver for this development is certainly the start of vaccinations and the expectations of going back to normal relatively soon. Brent crude oil experienced a similar rally, although it started to soar earlier and thus gained a bit more than WTI. Brent Crude is now trading at $50 per barrel. Another commodity that has recovered very well is copper. It is trading at 7,068$/mt and has just slightly surpassed its highs from early 2018. During the crisis, it was trading at around 5,000$/mt. Furthermore, the price of copper is unlikely to decrease in the near future, as the stockpiles have not been as low since 2014
DeFi is probably the topic in the crypto space in 2020 and its steep rise during the summer. DeFi started with a total value locked in the area of millions in the year and is (as of November) at around $12.5bn. This development is also not expected to fade away towards the end of 2020, although it seems possible that there will be a decrease in growth compared to the summer. Figure 14 shows the DeFi ecosystem separated in sub-categories.
Macro and Political Outlook November 2020 by Macro Eagle
Should we get a Blue Wave, then the “consensus trades” are rotation from Growth into Value (on stimulus), overweight infrastructure/green-energy, short Treasuries (rising yields), short US Dollar and long selected Emerging Markets (like Mexico). The biggest risk in the short-term would be a sell-off due to fear of change in tax policy (wealthy Americans locking in “Stepped-Up Basis”, capital gains rate and/or Tax Loss Harvesting). The medium-term risk are higher US yields/curve steepening on the back of stimulus. For a quick overview of the other scenarios (already amply covered elsewhere) see short summary below. Also important to keep the portfolio on the right side of what won’t change, whatever the outcome: (1) More stimulus and hence higher yields; (2) China bashing; (3) Big Tech under political pressure and (4) the green-energy transition. The latter obviously turbo-charged if Biden comes in.
Macro and Political Outlook October 2020 by Macro Eagle
Packed calendar ahead. This week we get employment in the US, while China goes on holiday for week (mid-autumn festival). Next week we have the only VP debate, plus we will find out if Congress manages to pass another relief-package before the recess starts on Columbus Day (Oct 12th). Then, the Third Week promises fireworks with the EU Council meeting battling over the recovery fund, the EU budget and Brexit. We also get the 2nd Presidential debate, the start of Q3 Earnings and tons of economic data. After that, the Fourth Week brings us the 3rd Debate. Interestingly, on the same day, the FDA will hold a “vaccine update committee”, which makes me think that this could provide a platform for Trump to announce a tactical “huuuuge breakthrough – biggest ever”. Finally, the Fifth Week will feature the ECB (strategy review, PEPP, maybe AIT) while everybody else is counting the days to Election Day the week after. With the al-fresco days of summer now officially over, the start of the “normal” Northern flu season is upon us, so before we talk about the US election, let us quickly turn to Covid.
September PREVIEW by Macro Eagle
Famously, September is the cruellest month for equity markets, with the Dow down 41/70 times since 1950. Apart from the ongoing issues mentioned above the key events in the month ahead are: Treasury issuance and unemployment figures this week. ECB and Russian regional elections next week. New Japanese PM, TikTok deadline and FOMC during the 3rd week. Italian election during the fourth week. And the first US presidential debate in the last week. All while capital markets get hit by an avalanche of IPOs (Airbnb, Ant Financial, DoorDash, etc.). And don’t forget NATURE. In August we got fires and blackouts in California, hurricanes hitting the Gulf (Laura and Marco), the last ice shelf in Canada’s Artic breaking up and China/North Korea being hit by floods. But it is September when the hurricane season normally peaks.
Fed Wants Optionality - and that Is Bullish for Vol! by Aquila Markets
*Fed creates optionality around Yield Curve Control and its “now in doubt” September review – which by definition creates volatility
*We are watching with interest to see if USD higher / risk lower persists, but we do not think the “highs” are in
*We believe the market is yet to begin considering a potential sweep by the Dems – this is a core theme on the radar for the Autumn
Despite having been quite sanguine about the Fed, the golden rule of the Fed “creates” volatility worked once again. There is clearly pushback within the FOMC itself to Yield Curve Control, recognising the upside of entering into a policy that the market is defacto already following is limited. Instead, the Fed has created optionality for itself. Additionally, the market started to question whether the results of the Fed’s policy review would indeed be presented in September, where average inflation targeting – ie letting inflation run Hot – would be a core part.
The timing of such a big announcement is creating an issue for the Fed, given the election, the recovery and the situation with the virus. September we believe will be entering a period of max uncertainty on the those three issues, which makes commitment to long term plans hard to justify, and it may be the Fed it trying to – again – create optionality for itself by delaying until, let's say, December.
But given the correlations we have been highlighting between rates, equities, commodities (Gold is correlating strongly with TLT, for instance) and realised volatility, any sense that rates COULD go higher caused the spill lower in stocks, especially given the horrendous breadth in US equity leadership, weakness in Asian stocks and a stalling in European markets.