The Singapore Population Ponzi … Short SGD as funding FX

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Singapore has experienced the fastest rate of population growth anywhere in the world over the last 10 years.  However, if you go back in history to examine its rate of population growth and also literature on Total Factor Productivity, you will realise that there have been arguments from early 1990s levelled on the unsustainable and also myopic and unproductive utilisation of pure increase in labour as an input in Singapore to drive economic growth. http://www.nber.org/chapters/c10990.pdf

Asianmacro as a trader believes in the brevity of my musing & you can click on the above link to read in detail if you are interested in the paper by Prof. Alwyn Young from MIT published in 1992.  From the illustration above, we can see the close correlation between SGD appreciation and stock market (Straits Times Index – FSSTI) with Population growth % yoy.  It makes you wonder with the announced deliberate slowing down of the influx of foreigners by the Singapore government that drove this unprecedented pop in population, what will happen to SGD and FSSTI?

Anyway, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently concluded its semi-annual policy meeting in April 2014 without much fanfare http://www.mas.gov.sg/News-and-Publications/Speeches-and-Monetary-Policy-Statements/2014/Monetary-Policy-Statement-14-Apr-14.aspx .  For the longest time since 2008, SGD has unfailingly appreciated into and after each and every MAS policy meeting as a strong SGD policy (which is also the only policy tool MAS has that it uses) is trumped out time and again.  However, such an antiquated policy is long past its use-by date and it has been a case of weak USD against all major currencies in recent months rather than a strong SGD that resulted in $/SGD at 1.25 today.

Asianmacro will be very keen to established short SGD against GBP, AUD and EUR (*actually Asianmacro already have these positions for awhile and will add to them) on any potential SGD appreciation in May/summer if some mistaken belief by portfolio flows in SGD as a safe haven results in inflows over May/summer driving $/SGD to 1.2350-1.2450 levels.

 

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Sell in May & Go Away … the question is what?

It is May now and the famous ”Sell in May & Go Away!” mantra always resonate in financial markets.  The question this time is a challenging, what to really sell?

The top 10 & bottom 10 performers in global equity indices are shown here.  You will notice that the top performers are really those marginal frontier markets mostly that nobody really invest in a big way. While the bottom performers are some of the bigger markets that have sold down substantially already like Nikkei 225 (Japan) and Hang Seng (Hong Kong).

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Similarly in currencies below, besides NZD (New Zealand dollar) & Gold that have gained more than 5% against USD, the best spot returns are from relatively illiquid currencies that nobody owns much of; while major currencies like EUR, GBP, CHF are only 1% up for the year which is almost a rounding error.

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If there is something that I want really want to sell or short in May, I guess I am now looking at cheap downside bets in NZD, Gold and IDR.  Asianmacro never like the frothy levels of milk anyway and prefers soy latte rather than regular milk latte coupled with an exuberant Kiwi banking sector holding up the economy http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/05/06/new-zealand-banks-arent-playing-ball-with-rbnz/ .  For Gold, I can find more things that glitters like LED lights & the safe haven bid due to the Russian / Ukraine fears are overplayed.  Lastly in the case of IDR, well the Jokowi feel good effect in Indonesia is all but played out.  The follow on Presidential elections will take on a more complex Javanese shadow puppet play that will mean more uncertainty http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/05/05/prabowo-desperately-seeking-partners-jokowi-flexes-muscles.html that the markets will not like soon.

 

 

 

Making a home run

Asianmacro has not posted since the 1st week of May to smell the roses into early summer and also in travels across Europe.  Looking back in the past where I have been in the futures open outcry pit, a bank market maker and then proprietary trader, followed by stints as a hedge fund portfolio manager … I came to realise that the most amount of money is only made slowly over time when you can sit comfortably on a position and for your investment thesis to bear out (*assuming that you have correctly done your homework and not stopped out way beforehand).

This meant that position sizing must be such that for longer term trades to bear out and perform well to make that home run, it must not be over-leveraged such that you cannot sleep at night with all the gyrations and noise that the market will invariably move like a butterfly flapping its wings at the slightest breeze!

Notice how Warren Buffet always appear to be such an investment stud with most of his positions reaping home runs more often then not and covering his losses or ”mistakes” elsewhere.  Mr. Buffet has the ultimate advantage in having a ”cheap & almost free float” of investment capital via the perennial annuity premiums collected from his insurance business (where the cost is even lower than deposits obtained by banks who similarly will lever up to make loans & other investments).  This allowed him to almost ”never cut loss or stop out of his positions” and we all know that even a broken clock will tell the correct time twice in a day … Mr. Buffet can in fact be proven right most often than not as ”in the long run, we are all dead” does not apply to his investment style.

Asianmacro certainly do not have the good fortune of owning an insurance company and also with the capital size of Mr. Buffet.  Nevertheless, as highlighted above, from the 20 years of cutting my teeth and learning from the losses made while accepting with humility that I was probably more lucky than smart with my winners … In any given year, there are probably about 1-3 real serious tradable themes that you can express via a trade that is ”medium” term of 3-12 months of more in investment horizon that will be the 10-baggers.   Most of the other time when you are fiddling & twiddling your fingers, you should not be doing anything much unless you have the systems, tools, inclination and skills to do some short term noise & gyration trading … you could be expending more energy than ever for very small incremental returns.

If you look at my postings this year, my 3 medium term thematic trades consistently were:

  1. Long USD preferably via DXY futures on medium term U.S. economic recovery.
  2. Short AUD/USD where the lucky chaps down under end their spell of good fortune.
  3. Short China and/or underperformance of Asian equities.

They have all performed well YTD 2013 and there is no reason to close out the trades or a change in the theme.

Asianmacro will probably be eating, drinking, lazing and snoozing a lot more over summer.  But will try to wake up from my stupor now & then and post again (*on shorter term gyration noise opportunity) and potential medium term thematic trades as I start my re-assessment for H2 2013 into 2014 outlook in deploying my capital again.

Good luck!

 

 

 

*Asianmacro is a beach bum managing his own wealth. Besides deciding what to have for lunch (or hitting the gym sometimes), he is mostly found listening to loud music while trading and investing for himself. While every care has been taken in preparing the information in and/or materials, such information and materials are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied. In particular, no warranty regarding accuracy or fitness for a purpose is given in connection with such information and materials. The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate. In no event will Asianmacro be liable to you for any direct or indirect or any other damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your reliance on any information in and/or materials attached herewith. Asianmacro may already have or intend to have a trading or investment position in the financial instruments or products referred to in this communication. This is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument and Asianmacro may also have interests different from or adverse to your interests.

China Rumour Mongering on a Friday …

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Illustration 1: If CNY trading band is widened .. be careful what you wish for as CNY weakened previously!

Rumour #1: Heading into the G20 Finance Ministers meeting this weekend, the first rumour is that China will probably widen the yuan’s trading band within the next three days after central bank Deputy Governor Yi Gang signaled policy makers will loosen control over the currency.  China is always astute in playing its cards leading to any G20 Finance Ministers meeting to avoid being labelled as a currency manipulator and be in everybody’s good books.  Asianmacro think this is possible but do be mindful that it can also mean two-way volatility where CNY can also depreciate and not just appreciate in a straight line.

Rumour #2: There is report that MSCI has had a meeting with China SAFE & CSRC in allowing China A-shares to be included in MSCI EM index. With the recent CNY appreciation trend, the talk about pushing back RQFII approval process, the fully deregulation of QFII mechanism and the opening of capital account would still be a medium term event if not a long term occurrence.  The source of the rumour can be attributed to this article http://finance.sina.com.cn/stock/yjdt/20130418/213915196798.shtml. It is funny how rumours always starts on Friday and spread like wild-fire by brokers who work their phones tirelessly starting with the calls to their top clients and working down the list.  Do note that brokers are not necessarily there to ”warn” you of things but their incentive is to get you to do something and execute / trade more so that volumes are churned and they earn their commission dollars! Asianmacro think this rumour is long in the tooth and probably not today or any more likely in the near future ….

SHCOMP rallied and spike up higher on these rumours and dragged everything else along.  I will not be a buyer of these rumours especially #2 …. and will use any stupid spike up in risky assets to sell them short!

P.S. Will be looking at good levels to short CNY NDF and also add to DAX and SPX and AS51 shorts on rally due to the China rumours and feel good.

 

*Asianmacro is a beach bum managing his own wealth.  Besides deciding what to have for lunch (or hitting the gym sometimes), he is mostly found listening to loud music while trading and investing for himself.  While every care has been taken in preparing the information in and/or materials, such information and materials are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or  implied. In particular, no warranty regarding accuracy or fitness for a purpose is given in connection with such information and materials. The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate. In no event will Asianmacro be liable to you for any direct or indirect or any other damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your reliance on any information in and/or materials attached herewith.  Asianmacro may already have or intend to have a trading or investment position in the financial instruments or products referred to in this communication.  This is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument and Asianmacro may also have interests different from or adverse to your interests.

The EUR/AUD FX Cross and VXO alarm bells are ringing

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Illustration 1: EUR/AUD FX cross exhibit high correlation & R-square with VXO … predictive ability of unknown stresses ahead in financial markets when both heads higher?

There are a number of price movements of various financial instruments that Asianmacro had observed before that I simply do not have a logical explanation that satisfy either a scientific mathematical finance approach or a qualitative explanation.  Perhaps I do not have the eloquence nor knowledge of those strategists or economist in coming up with convincing arguments for everything that happens since my pursuit is simply on whether to buy, sell or hold in making profits as the sole objective.

One phenomena that I chance upon is the propensity for EUR/AUD FX cross together with VXO (http://www.cboe.com/micro/vxo/) to always head higher when markets enter into some uncertainty especially when negative events start occur or develop in the financial markets.

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Illustration 2: EUR/AUD FX cross heads higher post Gold collapse since 12 April 2013 & Boston bombings …. sign of potential further negatives ahead to develop in markets?

I will be very cautious and on a somewhat ”sell risk on rally” mode across various asset classes especially stocks and commodities as this unexplained EUR/AUD & VXO indicator is flashing on my radar screen.  Whether it is due to AUD/USD coming off and under pressure due to poor China economic data (http://www.scmp.com/business/money/markets-investing/article/1215611/investors-dump-stocks-poor-china-economic-data) …. or EUR/USD heading higher … Damn how can that be with uncertainty in EU still smarting from Greece, Cyprus, …… ?  It does not matter … I rather be lucky than smart!

 

 

*Asianmacro is a beach bum managing his own wealth.  Besides deciding what to have for lunch (or hitting the gym sometimes), he is mostly found listening to loud music while trading and investing for himself.  While every care has been taken in preparing the information in and/or materials, such information and materials are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or  implied. In particular, no warranty regarding accuracy or fitness for a purpose is given in connection with such information and materials. The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate. In no event will Asianmacro be liable to you for any direct or indirect or any other damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your reliance on any information in and/or materials attached herewith.  Asianmacro may already have or intend to have a trading or investment position in the financial instruments or products referred to in this communication.  This is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument and Asianmacro may also have interests different from or adverse to your interests.

Time to OZ …. AUD has probably lucked out!

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Illustration 1: AUD/USD vs. IMM Commitment of Traders (Non-Commercial) positions vs. AUD/USD 1-month risk reversal vol skew … all points to AUD at risk of correction lower

Asianmacro has previously opined on Australia and AUD .. the lucky country that happened to have all the minerals underground that China and the rest of the world needed http://tradehaven.me/2013/02/12/to-oz-or-not-to-oz/.  The range for AUD/USD is 1.03 – 1.05 on the narrow with risk of overshooting on either side especially the lower bound on any significant China flu or global risk off.

Australia employment report is out this coming Thursday 11 April 2013 and I don’t know about you but with all the global economic data hitting a softer patch especially on the employment front, and with commodities (precious, base and softs) correcting lower over the past month, I will be damned surprise if Australia can be so lucky again !  From Illustration 1: the market in AUD/USD still seem pretty long from the IMM CFTC commitment of traders report (non-commercial).  In addition, there is still a skew to calls over puts in the options market.  There exist relatively cheap opportunities to be playing Australia turning on its luck via outright short AUD/USD or put options spreads and strategies like 1.035 put RKO (reverse knock out) 1.0550.  We target 1.01 level in the next 1 month if this plays out well enough for us.

The nail in the coffin I think for Australia is the recently announced changes to the Superannuation plan where new taxes (where there wasn’t are introduced) to rob the chaps down under.  *Please see summary below (where essentially Superannuation contribution are after your earned income already already taxed and now you are taxed again on your returns from your superannuation that is supposed to support your retirement!)

Superannuation changes

  • From July 1 2014, earnings on superannuation pensions and annuities of more than $100,000 annually will be taxed at 15 per cent, instead of being tax-free.
  • Superannuation earnings below $100,000 a year will remain tax-free and this threshold will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index.
  • The change will not apply at the accumulation stage.
  • The Government says around 16,000 people will be affected by this reform, which will save around $350 million over the four-year forward estimates period.
  • From 1 July 2013, people aged 60 and over will see increased concessional caps from $25,000 to $35,000.
  • Excess concessional contributions will be taxed at the individual’s marginal rate, plus an interest charge.
  • The Government says this will mean individuals are taxed on excess concessional contributions in the same way as if they had received that money as salary or wages.

There are some opinion on this matter http://www.afr.com/p/business/financial_services/super_tax_may_hit_accounts_under_3xxgtzhxnNCaKTJU67cMHP.  If I am a chap down under, I will find various ways and means to get all my money out of the country before it is rounded up unfairly by the Australian government … no surprises why so many Australian billionaires have or are thinking of moving to Singapore!

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/120609/australian-economy-billionaire-nathan-tinkler-singapore-tax-rate-asia#1

http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2012/08/01/australian-billionaire-sets-new-property-records-in-singapore/

And we definitely expect to see more Aussie names in the richest Singapore residents list shortly http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/top-singapore-richest-list.html

 

 

*Asianmacro is a beach bum managing his own wealth.  Besides deciding what to have for lunch (or hitting the gym sometimes), he is mostly found listening to loud music while trading and investing for himself.  While every care has been taken in preparing the information in and/or materials, such information and materials are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or  implied. In particular, no warranty regarding accuracy or fitness for a purpose is given in connection with such information and materials. The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate. In no event will Asianmacro be liable to you for any direct or indirect or any other damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your reliance on any information in and/or materials attached herewith.  Asianmacro may already have or intend to have a trading or investment position in the financial instruments or products referred to in this communication.  This is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument and Asianmacro may also have interests different from or adverse to your interests.

The Schizophrenic EUR … Time to Short the Spike !

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Illustration 1: EUR/USD schizophrenic 2 big figure range on 4th April 2013 .. initial plunge followed by spike

The FX market is always taken to be the most efficient in discounting news ahead of all other asset classes.  However, Asianmacro having cut his teeth on the FX and rates market years ago only understand too well that it is also a fallacy since the FX market tends to over simplify things based on ”sound bites” and it often over-reacts.  FX markets are always about daily to intra-day short term momentum and ”’hunting of stops to trigger” in each hour and never about medium term (and God forbids any association with long term valuation discovery!).  As such, from Illustration 1, the schizophrenic plunge and then spike in EUR/USD around the ECB press conference yesterday is just another day in the park.

Asianmacro does not believe that ECB will not at some point find ways to drive EUR weaker as the Central Banks of the world are engage in competitive devaluation ”currency wars” whether openly like BOJ or stealthily like the U.S. Federal Reserve in the past.  Europe cannot afford a strong EUR and short of allowing a breakup and letting the Lira, Peseta and Franc back to the realm, the EUR needs to be weak again to give the mix bag of countries in EU any chance of staying together.

 

 

*Asianmacro is a beach bum managing his own wealth.  Besides deciding what to have for lunch (or hitting the gym sometimes), he is mostly found listening to loud music while trading and investing for himself.  While every care has been taken in preparing the information in and/or materials, such information and materials are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or  implied. In particular, no warranty regarding accuracy or fitness for a purpose is given in connection with such information and materials. The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate. In no event will Asianmacro be liable to you for any direct or indirect or any other damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your reliance on any information in and/or materials attached herewith.  Asianmacro may already have or intend to have a trading or investment position in the financial instruments or products referred to in this communication.  This is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument and Asianmacro may also have interests different from or adverse to your interests.