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Wednesday October 15, 2008 - 14:42:09 GMT
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The Die Seems Cast

Key News
• Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, on Wednesday warned about the health of China and said the slowdown in one of the world’s fastest growing economies had led the mining company to revise its capital spending plans.  Mr Albanese said there had been a marked reduction in Chinese commodity demand from the overheated levels of 2007 and added that the “vast majority of Chinese aluminium producers are now making operating losses.”

“After setting record lows in September, business conditions tumbled to new lows in early October, according to the industry analysts canvassed for the Morgan Stanley Business Conditions Index (MSBCI).  The headline index plunged to 11% – exactly half the previous month’s reading and, by far, the lowest measurement in our survey’s six-year history.  Underscoring this poor overall showing, every single component of the MSBCI declined in October.  In fact, even the advance bookings index – the only indicator to display noticeable improvement in September – erased its previous gains and collapsed to 24%.  Perhaps most glaring, the business conditions expectations index came in at an astounding 6% – sliding into single-digit territory for the first time and crystallizing an increasingly pessimistic outlook.”

    Richard Berner and David Cho, Morgan Stanley

FX Trading –   The Die Seems Cast

Recession dead ahead it seems.  So it’s just a matter of waiting in the tall grass for the right time to sell the dollar, right?  Well, we don’t think so. 

We’re not looking at this dollar rally as a gracious selling opportunity within a larger bear market. As bad as we think the recession may possibly become in the US, we think it could become a lot worse for both the Eurozone and UK. 

“In the Eurozone, the annual debt service for the new bailout debt could reach as high as 1% of GDP – about 2/3rds of potential GDP growth. For the US the added annual debt service could be as high as 0.3% of GDP or about 1/10th of potential GDP growth. The potential fiscal burden of these rescue packages is about 7 times as high for the Eurozone as they are for the US,” according to Criton Zoakos, editor of the Leto letter.

As we’ve highlighted already this week, plenty of indicators pointed towards a dollar correction. But given the reappearing breakdown in stocks, after not holding on to a two-day rally, we aren’t so sure the correction isn’t over.

In other words, if investors lack confidence to play risky investments then the corrective rallies might not last as long as we originally expect. It was hard enough to convince everyone that the Treasury needed to inject money into the system. Now it seems harder to see that the money promised to this initiative actually does what was intended of it.

Hasn’t exactly been a confidence booster so far.

As the Treasury and top CEOs hash out the details over where the money goes and what it ultimately gets used for, the S&P 500 is sinking.

 (Chart unavailable in text format.)

Yesterday’s reversal bar set the tone for today. Stocks are lower and the buzz surrounding Monday’s historic surge is all but forgotten.

The euro has become fairly tied to stocks, as we’ve mentioned before. If the euro does rally, we think it is a gift to sell it at higher prices. But if stocks continue to signal a market short on confidence, then the risk taking dynamic will undermine the euro as well.

The duration of corrections is nearly impossible to predict. In this environment it may make sense to play the euro’s next major downturn with put options on euro futures.

 (Chart unavailabe in text format.)

Jack and JR Crooks
Black Swan Capital LLC


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