October 2008 - Daily Pfennig

A free, quick-reading daily e-letter on world currencies, economic trends, and the occasional baseball score.

Daily Pfennig

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  • GDP Goes Negative...

    * Currency rally fizzles out... * Bank of Japan cuts rates... * Tracking David Walker... * A major shift change on spending... ** GDP Goes Negative... Good day... And a Happy Friday to one and all! A Happy Halloween Friday to boot! Boy, to be a kid again, and have what is forecast as a 70 degree day on a Friday for Halloween! We've been so busy at the Butler house that we didn't even decorate our front yard with Halloween stuff this year. UGH! But, that's OK, I guess, Alex is older now, and little Delaney Grace would probably freak out with the ghost that would fly across the front of our house, etc. Well... The fog that was lifted from the markets came back with a vengeance yesterday, and once again it was the deep, dark, dangerous U.S. economy leading the charge. 3rd QTR GDP printed yesterday and even though it was forecast to be negative, when it actually printed negative, the trading theme returned. 3rd QTR GDP goes negative (and if you throw in inflation for good measure growth was REALLY negative!) and the dollar rallies... It's the trading theme of the decade! (Ok, I exaggerate a bit there, as it has only been in place for 3 months now!)...
  • Heading Towards Zero...

    * Fed cuts rates 50 BPS! * Currencies rally Big! * 3rd QTR GDP to go negative? * I.O.U.S.A. ** Heading Towards Zero... Good day... And a Tub Thumpin' Thursday to you! It certainly was a Tub Thumpin' Wednesday for the currencies, foreign stocks, commodities, and the Philadelphia Phillies! This by no means that the deep dense fog that has hung over the markets for 3 months has lifted for good... It did, however, lift for one day, and what a day it was! Oh, and the Fed did indeedly do cut their Fed Funds rate to 1%, which works out great since Fed Funds had been trading at 1% anyway! I had a reported from Dow Jones call me a few minutes after the rate cut and ask me my opinion on what the dollar was doing, which at the time was rallying back a bit... I said it looked like a classic case of buy the rumor sell the fact, that enough speculators were pushing the dollar lower ahead of the rate cut in hopes that a larger cut would be made. That, however, was not the case, and the dollar rallied... But only for about 20 minutes, and then it took a rid on the slippery slope, with the euro pushing to the 1.29 handle as I left for the day....
  • A Currency Bounce...

    * U.S. stocks soar! * Currencies rally! * Consumer Confidence at an all-time low! * Getting off the bench! ** A Currency Bounce... Good day... And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! The fall chill has really set in here as witnessed by my need to throw on a jacket and my Missouri Tigers baseball cap each morning! When you are basically bald like me, the cold air is not a friend to you, thus the need for a baseball cap from now until late spring! Well... The trading theme remained in place yesterday, but this time it was reversed. For those of you new to class, or any of you who have been playing horse hooky, the trading theme that has gripped the markets since August is: The deeper, darker, and more dangerous the U.S. economy and financial meltdown, including the credit market's locked status, the dollar gets bought... If there is any sign of light to all this mess, the dollar gets sold, for whenever the markets get their minds off the mess, they are reminded of awful fundamentals for the dollar....
  • FOMC Meeting Begins Today...

    * Mini-currency rally is cut short * Is it Japan or U.S.? * Gold stages a rally... * Swiss francs remain well bid... ** FOMC Meeting Begins Today... Good day... And a Terrific Tuesday to you! Well... We saw some profit taking in the currencies yesterday, which meant a mini-rally in non-dollar currencies for the first time in what seems to be a month of Sundays! At one point in the day, the euro had added more than 1-cent to its figure dragging sterling, Swiss, Canada and a host of others along. But, that didn't last in the overnight markets, and we're right smack dab back on square one where we left off yesterday. This morning we'll listen in on former Fed Chairman Volcker's speech, which ought to be a good one, don't you think? I mean, this is the guy that said a couple of years ago that the U.S. could see a currency crisis... And didn't it? OK, it's not now, but turn your clocks back to June, and you'll see what I'm talking about here. Volcker is a "hero" of mine in how he took on the inflation of the late 70's early 80's and didn't dance around the dance floor with it... He whipped it into shape, and then left it all in good shape for Big Al Greenspan... We all know what happened after that!...
  • The Trading Theme Remains In Place...

    * Heeee's Baaaaaacccckkkkk... * Carry Trade Depth... * RBA intervenes... * Oil weighs on the loonie... ** The Trading Theme Remains In Place... Good day... And a Marvelous Monday to you! It's been a long time, now I'm coming back home, I've been away now, oh how, I've been alone... Two weeks gone by the wayside! This Friday is Halloween! WOW! Where did the month go? Airports, hotels, and taxi cabs, that's where! But, I did it... The Currency Tour is finished... Time well spent I might add, but very taxing on me... Of course, my beautiful bride tells me if I were in better shape, it wouldn't be so taxing! Well... As I look at the currency screens this morning, I see that nothing has changed... The Trading theme I left you with is still in place, as the more deeper, darker, dangerous outlook for the U.S. becomes, the more the dollar gets bought... Things look better, and the dollar will get sold... The dollar has become the new Japanese yen!...
  • Chuck finally heads back home...

    * Chuck's thoughts... * US housing still a drag... * Rate cuts push currencies lower... * Yen rallies and is joined by some odd partners... ** Chuck finally heads back home.. Good day...Another big move up by the dollar and the Japanese yen last night. Really just another repeat of what we have been seeing each day of this week, dollar down, gold down, and oil down. And with the stock market falling dramatically yesterday, all of us on the desk were searching for something that was actually up yesterday. Our bond trader, Don Reis let me know that muni bonds rallied dramatically, along with US treasuries. So I guess investors are just continuing to park funds into the US fixed income markets. Chuck is headed back home this afternoon, after spending the past two weeks traveling the country with FX University. I'm sure he will be happy to get to sleep in his own bed again tonight, and will catch up on his rest tomorrow. He sent me the following note to share with readers....
  • Deleveraging pushes the US$ up...

    * Deleveraging continues to push $ higher... * Pound Sterling tumbles... * Canada cuts rates... * Argentina spoils appetite for emerging markets... ** Deleveraging pushes the US$ up... Good day... Wow, another unbelievable day/night in the currency markets. The dollar continued to run up vs. most of the currencies yesterday and last night as investors brought money back into the US. We continue to get calls from WorldMarket investors asking us what was pushing this dollar up, as all of the data seems to be negative for the US$. The only explanation which seems to make sense is the global deleveraging of investors. Here is as good an explanation as I can give. Over the past several years money was extremely cheap and investors took advantage of these cheap loans. Hedge funds, corporate investors, and even some individuals borrowed funds and placed them into higher yielding investments to earn the 'carry'. This occurred not only in the currency markets, but across the entire spectrum of asset classes. These investors were rewarded with incremental yields over 'cash' investors, and banks were more than willing to lend, so the amount of leverage continued to increase to absolutely absurd levels. Everything was fine until the housing market here in the US turned and losses started to show up on the books of some investors....
  • Bernanke looks to spend some more of our $...

    * Bernanke asks for more $... * Credit markets start to thaw... * Iceland may get help from the IMF... * Goldman sees value in some currencies... ** Bernanke looks to spend some more of our $... Good day... The dollar moved higher yesterday as Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged Congress for another stimulus package. Yes, Bernanke wants to spend a few more of our taxpayer dollars to try and keep Wall Street afloat. "With the economy likely to be weak for several quarters, and with some risk of a protracted slowdown, consideration of a fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate," Bernanke told a congressional panel. Others at the Fed echoed Bernanke's gloomy outlook, saying that the global credit crisis will chill US economic growth well into next year. Bernanke is looking to Congress to send out additional stimulus checks in the hope that they will 'prime the pump' and get US consumers spending again. The govt. sent out about $100 billion in tax rebate checks over the summer to consumers, but consumer spending has struggled since then. Retail sales fell for three consecutive months through September. Bernanke says the moves to shore up the global financial systems seem to be working, but we now need to concentrate on getting the US economy growing again. "The stabilization of the financial system, though an essential first step, will not quickly eliminate the challenges still faced by the broader economy," he said. The FOMC which meets next week is expected to lower US interest rates to further stimulate the economy....
  • Credit Fears Ease...

    * Credit fears ease... * Chuck's thoughts from the road... * India cuts rates... * China growth slows, but is still 9%... ** Credit fears ease... Good day...And welcome to what should be another volatile week in the markets. Credit worries eased somewhat over the weekend, which helped push money back into the higher yielding currencies. Today Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will head to Congress to share his view on the economy. Should make for a pretty interesting day of trading. Hope you are sitting down and holding on, it looks like we are going to take another lap on the currency roller coaster! The yen fell over the weekend as investors began moving funds back into the higher yielding currencies of Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia. I won't go into the whole explanation of the carry trade again, but suffice it to say that these moves haven't proven to have much staying power. But I do like the news that the credit markets may be calming down a bit after the government moves to shore up the big international banks....
  • Comfortably Numb...

    * Comfortably numb... * Data confirms the US slowdown... * NZD and AUD end the week with gains... * Hungarian forint stabilizes... ** Comfortably numb... Good day...These dramatic swings in the markets are becoming so common place that a move of 400 pts by the Dow doesn't really garner much notice. After all, in the past five days, the Dow Jones average has had a trading range of almost 2,000 points, but after five dramatic days the stock market is trading almost exactly where it was a week ago. And the volatility in the equity markets has carried over to the currency markets, where we continued the roller coaster ride which began a few weeks ago. Yesterday, the dollar began the day with a strong move up in early European trading. But a plethora of bad data released here in the US caused the greenback to reverse course, and it wiped out all of its earlier gains. But the bargain hunting rally in the stock market during the afternoon pulled the dollar along with it, and we ended the day with a dollar index which was slightly higher than the day before. Today is shaping up to be a similar trading pattern, as Europe has begun the day buying dollars vs. most of the major currencies....
  • Here we go again...

    * Here we go again... * US numbers show further slowdown... * Norway cuts rates... * Switzerland moves to shore up UBS... ** Here we go again... Good day...The dollar rallied and the equity markets plunged yesterday as investors again pulled their money away from the markets. As we have seen over the past several weeks, when investors get worried about the state of the global economy, they rush back into cash, and in the world of cash the US$ is still king. Chuck has been talking about this trading pattern during his FX University presentations, and I'll start this morning's Pfennig off with his thoughts from Philadelphia, where he is hosting another day of FXU: Here we go again! The recession trap door gets sprung under the stock market, and things begin to look really bad in the U.S. again, and guess what? The dollar rallies... This just plays the trading theme over and over again... And Yen? It's back below 100! Risk gets taken out, and whatever carry trades that were brave enough to go back on after Monday, have been wiped out! Wiped out like the rally in Aussie dollars, which had rallied to +70-cents after Monday... And lost 5-cents today......
  • Rescue plan not an instant fix...

    * Rescue plan to take time... * Pound sterling rallies (for now)... * Brazil supports the real... * Iceland cuts rates... ** Rescue plan not an instant fix... Good day...Another roller coaster of a day, as the dollar continued to slide through lunch but then rallied back up in the afternoon. As I walked out the door last night, most of the major currencies were trading right about where they were when I turned the screens on. The dollar has started to fall again in overnight trading, so the up and down of the past few weeks looks to continue. The news stories coming across the wires this morning seem to be as volatile as the currencies. I have now counted three different stories which state the markets are moving back into higher yielding currencies and riskier investments after the coordinated bank bailout plan which was announced yesterday. But several other stories are talking about how investors are moving out of the higher yielding assets because of concern that the bank rescue will take too much time to unfreeze global credit markets. I tend to agree with the latter of these....
  • Govt to follow Buffet's lead...

    * Govt to follow Buffet's lead... * Aussie $ has biggest gain ever... * Yen reverses on carry trades... * China's currency reserves rise... Good day...And what a day it was! As I stated in yesterday's Pfennig, Columbus day is just sort of a holiday for the markets. These 'semi-holidays' can create some volatile trading, as not all of the markets are open and many desks are short staffed. So with the Federal Reserve and the banking system closed, the equity markets had the largest one day gain in over seven decades. I guess the stock jockeys figured they weren't going to get any bad news out of the credit markets, which were closed, so no news is good news!! The rally was certainly welcomed, and hopefully some of the gains will stick today as we return to a normal trading environment. And I guess some of the credit for the stock rally has to go to finance ministers around the globe who finally agreed on a plan which seems to be able to work. The leaders of a majority of the worlds largest economies borrowed a page from Warren Buffet's playbook and decided to invest directly into some of their largest financial institutions. The Bush administration announced it would invest $125 billion in nine of the biggest US banks. The US move came after France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria committed $1.8 trillion to guarantee interbank loans and take equity stakes in European banks....
  • Fed floods the markets with US$...

    * Bernanke gets help opening the spigot... * Euro and Pound rally... * Yen to continue to benefit from carry reversals...* Aussie $ rallies... ** Fed floods the markets with US$... Good day...and happy Columbus day! This is an official bank holiday here in the states, so all of the banks are closed, but the stock markets are open. We will have a half day here on the desk to try and catch up with all of the work which has been piling up the past few weeks. The phones are turned off, since it is an official bank holiday, but we will be checking messages and try to get back to everyone as quickly as possible. It is a very unusual holiday, as the banks are all closed with no funds transfers possible, but the stock markets are open. Currency desks are lightly staffed, so we will have to really work to get the trades done this morning. These strange holidays usually can lead to some real market volatility, and with today will probably be another rollercoaster. In an all out effort to ease the credit freeze, the Federal Reserve recruited help from the ECB, Bank of England, and the Swiss central bank to flood the market with US$. These central banks will auction unlimited dollar funds with maturities of seven days, 28 days, and 84 days at a fixed interest rate. This move is unprecedented, as all previous dollar swaps were capped at a maximum amount while these auctions will be for unlimited funds....
  • Who Owes Who?

    * Trading theme pushes yen higher... * Settlement day for Lehman CDO's... * Oil price fall hurts loonies... * Gold climbs back above $900... ** Who Owes Who? Good day... And a Happy Friday to one and all! It certainly doesn't look as though it will be a Fantastico Friday in stocks, as yesterday was a bloodletting, and overnight the Japanese stock market sold off 11%, and Europe is down about 9% at this point. UGH! This is getting quite ugly... But remember what I've been saying this week about the currency trading theme... When things look bleak, the dollar goes up... And when it looks as though all the stimulus might work, the dollar sells off... This has been quite evident in Japanese yen overnight, as stocks sold off 11%, the currency rallied to a 98 handle from 101 yesterday... And... Then in dollar trading, other than yen, the dollar is stronger this morning, pushing the euro back to the 1.35 handle. The high yielders, which enjoyed a day in the sun yesterday before U.S. stocks took a turn on the slippery slope, got whacked hard overnight! UGH!...

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