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Tuesday February 2, 2010 - 14:23:52 GMT
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Think about a Rethink

Not so fast ... hold on a second ... on the other hand ... in hindsight ... although ... looking back ... but considering the fact ... in light of ...  
Yeah, rethink just sounds a whole lot better. And I bet there are a few out there who’d agree. Let’s look at the central banks.
The Reserve Bank of Australia earlier today had a rethink moment. Markets expected they’d hike interest rates by at least 25 basis points. Ooooh, yeeeaaahh – I’m just not so sure about that right now. The RBA decided to hold off, making no change to rates.
Of course, they reassured everyone that their tightening cycle was not coming to an end; this was a mere pause. Ok, sure. But the mere pause screamed “but considering the fact ...” and “not so fast ...” 
That’s because a pause at this juncture, regardless of the reason (China clamping down on lending, maybe), buys time for an even greater change of heart from the RBA. When investors and traders are anticipating and betting on a rifle-shot to 4.75%, they don’t want to see this monetary hesitation from the RBA. 
AUDUSD Hourly [Chart not available in text format.]

Whoooop. The surprise hold by the RBA sparked a quick move to hourly support, leaving it vulnerable to further downside on a break of this level. But overall risk appetite seems to be on right now, and the Aussie will likely need to see an accompanying sell-off in risk appetite before moving substantially lower today.

In Norway we’re seeing a very similar dynamic. We’ve got a country that’s performing rather well economically (like Australia) and whose central bank has already begun a series of monetary tightening.
But again, the Norges bank is seen to be on hold this time around. Is it a mere pause? Or is it a “not so fast ...” and “in light of ...” moment for these central bankers? I mean, there’s a pretty nasty storm (courtesy of Zeus) blowing through Europe that Norway is at least watching from their front porch.
Granted, there have been a host of monthly economic indicators, no matter where you look, that seem to point to better prospects for developed nation economies. But they’re arriving alongside two other items:
1) A rather sharp decline in stocks, shown a la S&P 500 below ... [Chart not available in text format.]

And ...
2) A rather steady pick-up in fundamental think-pieces (or rethink-pieces, for the sake of this article.) Analysts and economists – at least the ones I read! – seem to expect a combination of forces still exist to hamper the magnitude of economic recovery and quite possibly keep most major economies wrapped up in deleveraging and deflation or some extension thereof.
Do these two points – risk sell-off and growing expectations for lingering stagnation – warrant a rethink even though the official numbers are improving?
You can bet we won’t be calling for a new all-time low in the US dollar anytime soon. The recent strength in the buck has (not surprisingly) mirrored the sell-off in risk. Below is the same chart as above with the US dollar index added in red:
S&P 500 vs. US Dollar Index [Chart not available in text format.]
The numbers may keep improving, but at the very least this article may give you something to rethink about.
John Ross Crooks III
Black Swan Capital LLC 

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