Amid the choppy grind higher in US equities one key aspect for investors to look for is the prospect of the long-run relative bull market in small caps to end. If we look at the straight price ratio between the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 it is now close to an all-time low (only piped by the trough in 1984).
One of the themes that we have been highlighting this year is the growing bubble in corporate bonds. It is pointless in the first instance to discuss whether super easy monetary policy that has fueled this bubble is appropriate or not. The main thing for investors to countenance is that the current monetary policy regime is having unintended consequences through the formation of a bubble in increasingly scarce liquid fixed income instruments.
Our real narrow money index continues to decline and is sending an increasingly bearish cyclical signal for the global economy and commodity prices. Our real narrow money index has now declined for 4 months running and is now tracking below 7% for the first time since October 2010.
The economy and financial markets remain in the grips of the most easiest monetary policy the world has ever seen. The balance sheets at the Fed and the BOJ continue to expand at record pace and global real rates have been negative for over 3 years now. Negative real rates create tremendous incentives for borrowers to lever up and often create asset bubbles in debt, equity and property.
One of the most interesting developments across speculative positioning in the past weeks has been the reversal in net positioning in US stock futures. On an unsmoothed basis speculators most recently turned net short S&P 500 futures for the first time since October 2012 (although they increased their bullish bets slightly following the non-taper at the Fed). On a smoothed basis and including positioning in Dow Jones futures, net long speculative positioning has now declined for 5 months running.
In our latest thematic report, we look at how the unconventional monetary policies of the Fed et al are having distortionary effects on asset markets and increasing their inherent instability. In the classic film The Italian Job, Michael Caine berates…
The headline above is not a mistake; aggregate debt to GDP is now growing again in the US . This is evident if we look at the broadest measure of credit in the US which rose to a new high of $57 trillion USD in the first quarter of 2013.
Most of the talk on US equities is still centered around whether and when the Fed will start scaling back its asset purchases (let alone start raising rates). The point here is of course that if the Fed decides to remove the punchbowl, equities will take a dim view.