With both the S&P and global stocks once again inching back to all time highs, here are some gloomier observations from Bloomberg’s EM commentatory Garfield Reynolds, who has covered and traded FX, bonds and commodities over two decades.
Down Under Doldrums Challenge Global Growth Hopes: Macro View
The latest burst of chatter that global growth is finally gathering momentum seems overdone in a world beset by geopolitical nightmares of war and debt deadlock, as well as the nagging concern of demographic-driven disinflation. And the recent slump for the key risk proxies among the G-10 currencies — the Aussie and kiwi dollars — shows the need to be careful we don’t get dizzy with thoughts of success.
The two countries backing these tenders are beholden to raw materials exports, and they straddle a decent cross-section of the key non-oil commodities — iron ore, coal, gold for Australia; milk and wool for New Zealand.
Accelerating world output should be driving up demand for at least some of this stuff, and yet the Aussie and the kiwi languished at the bottom last month among the major G-10 currencies… along with the Brexiting pound.
The Aussie fell for the first time in three months, and risk reversals dropped by the most since September last year.
The kiwi dropped more than 4% for its worst performance since January 2016 and speculators trimmed net longs for three straight weeks.
The fact that all this came as base metals staged a massive rally signals that there’s a disconnect going on under the surface.
Stocks are climbing again and volatility is subsiding now that the Korean missile panic fades and as markets seem to trust that Donald Trump and Congress can pass a key piece of legislation on a very tight timetable.
Meanwhile U.S. GDP and China’s PMIs are being cited by the optimists as proof that this year’s rallies in equities, emerging markets and junk bonds are due to accelerate again.
The recent advances in risk assets have a slightly feverish, twilight-of-the-bull-run feel.
The MSCI All- Country World Index just completed a 10th straight month of gains with a 0.17% climb that was the smallest of the lot. And that’s the longest winning streak since a record 11-month stretch that ended in February 2004.
The S&P 500 index also just barely managed to post what was its fifth straight month of gains and the 2,500 level is looming as a much tougher barrier than 2,000 ever was.
And then there’s central banks and the rates markets that track them, which shows the bullish bias toward tightening that exploded out of Portugal in June has long been scattered by the winds of disinflation. The Fed is seen by OIS traders raising once at most within a year, and the same goes for every major developed economy outside Canada and Sweden.
The Bloomberg Commodity index is still more than 5% below its 2017 peak and Treasuries are looking at 2% as the next stop, not 2.5%.
That light at the end of the tunnel may in fact be an oncoming train.