Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Update on the 2nd Global Financial Crisis

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.

It's Monday May 17th and the Euro is heading lower, having broken its low from Friday. The trade-weighted dollar has hit new highs for this move. European stocks are having a mild rally, while U.S. stocks are mostly flat. Asian stocks sold off on Sunday night. The ECB is withdrawing liquidity from the market and this should be a negative for stocks going forward.

If there is to be a near-term recovery in world stock markets, it is important that the euro rallies back to and above the 125 level - its low during the Credit Crisis.  The euro (FXE) traded as low as 123.24 on Friday and today has been as low as 122.71 in New York morning trade. A significant break in support has taken place and this is a major development. In all likelihood it indicates a much lower low in the future. What that low will be and when it will take place are of course the key questions that need to be answered. The euro's next support is at 1.20, and it is now heading to that level. That support is relatively minor however. A number of technicians claim better support around 1.07. The equivalent strong support that existed at 1.25 would be at 1.00 however. What unfolds in the future depend on how the EU continues to handle matters affecting the currency. Up to this point, we have only seen world-class ineptness coming out of Brussels.

For its part the ECB (European Central Bank) announced that it would launch a program on Tuesday to re-absorb the liquidity that it pumped into the market early last week. They intend to withdraw $21 billion (16.5 billion euros) through this operation. If the liquidity injection was good for stocks (the market did indeed have a huge rally coincident with the ECB's move), investors should consider the withdrawal of liquidity should be bad for stocks.

In Asia the Nikkei in Japan was down 2.17% last night and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 2.14%.  European markets had a modest rally today, with the FTSE in England and the DAX in Germany rallying about half a percent. U.S. markets were basically flat in morning trade (they turned down dramatically just around noon). The trade-weighted dollar (DXY) was as high as 87.06.  The U.S. markets had a massive gap up on Monday May 10th. This can be seen most clearly by looking at Nasdaq, where no specialists delay the open to balance buying and selling. Prices fell into the gap on Friday and the very short-term technicals in the day's trading were ugly. The rule of thumb it that once a gap is partially filled, it will be completely filled (prices will go down to the bottom of the gap in this case).

Investors need to realize that the world's central banks are well aware of this crisis. How much comfort this should be to them is open to debate. The central banks all saw the global financial disaster that resulted from Lehman's failure in the fall of 2008. They all know that a small currency crisis in Thailand in 1997 spread throughout Asia and then damaged world stock markets for more than a year thereafter. This knowledge though didn't prevent the ECB from sitting on its hands for more than six months while the situation in Greece escalated into an international problem. The central banks then finally acted with a trillion dollar bailout (likely to be just the beginning). So, we can conclude the central banks haven't learned to react in time to prevent a future crisis, but they do know how to print money - a talent that has some serious downside risks if you don't like inflation.

Disclosure: No positions.

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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