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Friday October 17, 2008 - 13:28:33 GMT
Black Swan Capital -

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Key News
• Singapore's non-oil exports fell for a fifth month in September from a year earlier as a global economic slowdown cut consumer demand for electronic goods from the city-state. (Reuters)
• Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says he won't step down despite growing calls for his resignation in the wake of a deadly confrontation between police and protesters last week. (AP)
• Financial Crisis Snapshot: "There's no chance of a 1929-1933 depression. We know the lessons and we know how to stop it happening again," – FSA chairman Adair Turner. (Reuters)

Key Reports (WSJ):
8:30a.m. Sep Housing Starts: Expected: -1.1%. Previous: -6.2%.
10:00a.m. Mid-Oct Reuters/U Mich Sentiment Index: Expected: 65. Previous: 73.1.
“Blaming speculators as a response to financial crisis goes back at least to the Greeks. It's almost always the wrong response.”
          Larry Summers
FX Trading – Hodgepodge

An L-shape recession is our guess

Global shift in consumer sentiment and an unknown quantity of toxic paper still buried make us believe any recession will be more L-shaped rather than V-shaped recession. 

From Morgan’s Joachim Fels:

“While decisive fiscal, monetary and regulatory action is likely to prevent a 1930-style depression, we think that a recession in the industrialised world is still in the cards.  Most of the damage pushing economies over the brink had already been done before the financial turmoil intensified in recent months, namely by declining house prices, the past tightening in credit conditions and the run-up in oil prices and inflation until the summer.  Three additional factors are likely to weigh down on growth in the rich countries:

• First, growth in many EM economies has slowed sharply recently, dampening export growth in the advanced economies.

• Second, we look for a substantial hit to consumption from the negative wealth effects associated with the decline in equity prices this year.  Despite the relief rally this week, most developed-market stock indices are still down 30-40% since the start of year. This could shave around one percentage point off GDP growth in the US, and around half a point in Europe.

• Third, as we discussed already a few weeks ago, the rise in government debt associated with the various rescue plans and other, more traditional fiscal stimulus measures is likely to weigh down on consumer spending in the next several years as consumers will start to save more and spend less in anticipation of higher future taxes.”

Is it lights out for Gold?

Back under $800 per once this morning!  If gold couldn’t muster a better run than we’ve seen at a time of incredible global panic, one wonders the point in owning the barbarous relic.  If our multi-year dollar bull market call proves correct it could very well be lights out for gold.  The only alternative scenario we can see that would support gold in the face of a rising dollar is a hike of in the panic level beyond what we’ve already seen.  But, if the credit markets slowing normalize, the panic premium in gold will vanish.  Thus, gold will normalize with the world’s money—the US dollar—and get on the see-saw sinking as the buck rises.

Gold vs. US$ Index Weekly:
 (Chart unavailable in text format.)

A round trip in the Emerging World – It’s not different this time!

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Before all this stuff got going, the emerging market cheerleaders emerged consistently on Tout TV to tell us things would be different this time and markets would “decouple” from the US.  There was little need for US demand now that the emerging world has grown up many pundits proudly pontificated.  So keep putting that money to work in my emerging market mutual fund. 

The theory at the time was based on the belief that rising FX reserves and improving balance of payments positions in the emerging nations would pull them through even if Uncle Sam caught a cold.  All those reserves meant no external funding from the developed world needed, said the seers.

As you can see from the chart of the MSCI Emerging Market Stock Index below, it seems the US cold is catchy; one might even call it a flu based on the symptoms, a 53.7% decline year-to-date:

 MSCI Emerging Market Stock Index
 (Chart unavailable in text format.)

When this carnage will cease we do not know.  But we do know the original premise of high FX reserves saving the day isn’t happening.  We also know that current account deficits are now consistent and rising in the emerging world; and should continue to rise fast as export growth everywhere sags.  Not exactly what the cheerleaders expected.  Then again, who could have expected what we’ve witnessed in this cycle. 

 Options Expiration Friday…

…so it could be volatile for the dollar, as the dollar seems locked arm and arm, negatively correlated with stocks. 

 (Chart unavailable in text format.)

Have a great weekend and be careful out there.

Jack Crooks
Black Swan Capital LLC


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