Central banking, Economics, History, Inflation, Monetary reform, Stock market

Asset bubbles and their human toll

Bursting of an asset bubble can have grave consequences for the economy and the society at large – so grave, it’s worth paying attention at this point. I’ll elaborate.

In only six trading sessions from the 20th February peak, the S&P500 shed more than 12%, one of the fastest declines on record for the index (only the 1987 black Monday was worse). Only a week before this event I posted the article, “Bubbles Always Burst…”on SeekingAlpha, warning about the risk of this happening.

Whether last week marks the beginning of the bubble’s bursting remains to be seen, but this is only a matter of time. Bubbles always burst, no exceptions. But what’s important to understand is this: bubbles are meant to be burst! For guidance, let’s look again at the bursting of Japan’s own everything bubble of the 1980s. Continue reading

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Economics, Energy crisis, Inflation, Market research, Market trends, Oil market, Policy, Risk management, Stock market, Trend following

Perfect storm gathering: the three converging disruptions

In the near future, we are likely to experience severe consequences of three converging disruptions:

  1. Stock market crash
  2. Oil price shock
  3. Inflation

Since the last recession we’ve enjoyed the longest ever period of economic expansion with low interest rates, low inflation and subdued commodity prices. But this all could be coming to an end.

Bursting of the “everything bubble”

Throughout the west, unprecedented government and central bank stimulus programs helped inflate the current “everything bubble.” This is not a new phenomenon; monetary expansion always creates asset bubbles. The one thing we know is that without exception, asset bubbles ultimately burst. The examples are many and some of them made a mark in the collective conscious of entire generations, from the 1630s Tulip Mania to the 1990s dot-com bubble. Continue reading

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Asset management, Central banking, Economics, Inflation, Market trends, Stock market, Trading, Trend following

The one force moving stock prices and what it tells us about the future

Back when I traded stocks in late 1990s, I got a gnawing suspicion that beyond the nonstop noise of the news flow, there was some force pushing the rising tide, but I couldn’t discern what it was. By today I think I worked it out. The most surprising thing about it is that it’s been so hard to work out.

Stocks are principally driven by money supply

The first time I encountered an explicitly formulated hypothesis that justified my suspicions was years later while I researched for my book, “Grand Deception.” The hypothesis, relating to Russian stocks, was articulated by Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management in his 2006 HedgeWeek interview: Continue reading

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Commodity risk, Economics, Energy crisis, Market research, Oil market

The oil price shock: has it arrived?

Experts seldom expect surprises. In spite of the ever deepening economic and political uncertainties gripping most oil producing and oil consuming regions, most market experts surveyed last year predicted that oil price would fluctuate between $65 and $70 through 2023.

That forecast assumes that nothing unforeseen would happen over the next five years. Such an assumption, to put it politely,  is unjustified and the list of reasons is long and complex, and it can be neither ignored nor wished away. Over the recent months I’d written a handful of articles on the subject of the ‘coming oil price shock.’ Here are the last three: Continue reading

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Asset management, Behavioral finance, Commodity price, Economics, Hedging, Market research, Market trends, Oil market, Risk management, Trading, Trend following

Failure of price forecasting: the unit of account conundrum

In addition to the better understood challenges of market analysis, like access to timely and accurate data, there is another – rather massive, but usually completely ignored – problem that renders forecasting largely an exercise in futility.

Over the years I’ve written quite a bit on the unreliable nature of price forecasts based on the analysis of market supply and demand . Most recently, in “Market fundamentals, forecasting and the groupthink effect,” I discussed the problem of data quality as well as the very real problem of groupthink among leading analysts, providing an example of a staggeringly wrong oil price forecast they produced. Some of the very same experts later produced this gem: Continue reading

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Commodity price, Commodity risk, Complexity, Economics, Expertise, Hedging, Market psychology, Market research, Market trends, Oil market, Risk management, Trend following

Market fundamentals, forecasting and the groupthink effect

Last month I had the privilege of meeting with Jaran Rystad of Rystad Energy to discuss strategic cooperation between our companies. On the occasion, he gave me a rather detailed presentation of his firm’s energy intelligence database. I must say, in my 20+ years trading in commodities markets this is by far the most impressive product of its kind I’ve ever seen. Even from the software engineering point of view, I was very impressed. For full disclosure, nobody asked nor encouraged me to write this. Much as you’d recommend a restaurant where you ate well or a doctor you respect, I wholeheartedly recommend Rystad Energy as a provider of energy market intelligence as a matter of giving credit where credit is due.

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Monaco, June 2019 – with Jarand Rystad

However, even with top notch data on economic supply and demand fundamentals, divining the future remains difficult and unlikely. John von Neumann rightly said that forecasting was “the most complex, interactive, and highly nonlinear problem that had ever been conceived of.” Continue reading

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Asset management, Central banking, Economics, Inflation, Market research, Market trends, Policy

US jobs: everything is awesome! Is it? Let’s take another look.

A few years back in an interview with Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” program , Elliott Management’s Paul Singer said that his greatest worry was the rise of inflation that could appear suddenly. He suggested that this could come about with small changes in perception of inflation risk. Specifically, “The first whiffs of either commodity inflation or wage inflation,” said Singer, “may cause a self-reinforcing set of market events … which may include a sharp fall in bond prices, … fall in stock prices, rapid increase in commodities…

Continue reading

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