Monday, October 26, 2009

Interest Rates Break Out

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

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Almost everything went down last Friday, everything except the U.S. dollar of course. Continuing the pattern that has been very noticeable since this March, stocks and commodities both retreated as the dollar went up. Looking back at a 10-year chart, you will notice that the stock market and the U.S. dollar used to move together. Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, the pattern changed and they started moving in opposite directions. The pattern actually only became more exaggerated this spring. 2003 was when the Fed lowered interest rates to one percent, which in turn made the real estate bubble take off.

Liquidity is driving this pattern. Liquidity has also made it possible for interest rates to remain low during the last several years. During 2009 however bond prices have only been kept high because the Fed is buying a boatload of treasuries with freshly printed money (note: interest rates go down when bond prices go up and vice versa) while keeping overnight rates around zero. While the Fed has extended its purchase of Agency debt (mostly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) until March 31st, it is supposed to stop its quantitative easing program for treasuries on Oct 31st. It remains to be seen how long they will be able to stay out of the bond market. My guess is the printing presses will not remain idle for too long.

Bonds also sold off on Friday. Interest rates bottomed last December, with rates for the 10-year bond falling to around 2.00% and on the 30-year bond to 2.50%. By June, interest rates had approximately doubled to 4.00% and 5.00% respectively. Bonds rallied since then (and interest rates came down). Early this month both the 10-year and 30-year interest rates (not prices) bounced off their respective 200-day moving averages. This was the buy point, although some market watchers claim that 3.48% and 4.30% are the key rates that need to be broken for the 10 and 30-year bonds to be shorted. The 10-year yield closed at 3.48% and the 30-year at 4.29% on Friday, but were at 3.52% and 4.32% this morning - both above their key resistance. To see the interest rates charts on Big Charts ( use $TNX and $TNY for the ticker symbols.

I have already been buying TBT, the 200% leveraged short 20 to 30 year bonds ETF, for awhile now. This has a place at the moment in inflation sensitive portfolios, but should not be a huge position. Silver is my biggest holding and its strength on Friday was impressive. Almost by itself silver managed to buck the selling tide and punch higher. Gold is my next largest holding and I have 200% long silver and 200% long gold in an approximately 60/40 ratio. Mining stocks and the ETF GDX are next. I am trying to move agricultural commodities to become my 4th largest positions and hope to accumulate more GRU on a sell off this week (I already have all the RJA I wish to hold). TBT may wind up in the 6th or 7th place. All of this is likely to change early next year, when I anticipate exchanging a certain amount of my precious metals holdings for oil positions and other portfolio revisions will need to be made.

NEXT: Central Banks Support the Dollar

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

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