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FOMC, the day after...

Macro 6 minutes to read
Kay Van-Petersen

Global Macro Strategist

Summary:  Saxo Head of APAC macro strategy Kay Van-Petersen reflects on yesterday's pivotal FOMC meeting and how it has set the stage for a shift in trading conditions across a broad sweep of financial assets.

I’ve been speaking to a lot of clients, peers, friends, frenemies and other Macro Padawans this morning in Asia. I have to be honest, I was a bit struck by how… relaxed folks seem to be on the Federal Open Market Committee overnight. With comments such as ”boring”, “nothing to do here”, etc. Now granted sometimes that is just positioning speaking because folks have been struggling on conviction – which to be fair… it been a tough few years in global macro… not just a tough few months. 

So I thought I would just reiterate a few of my current top-of-mind thoughts – for better or worse. I have also attached the latest Fed statement, a comparison sheet between the June & May statements, as well as a link to the press conference. 

So, a few points:

The consensus “view” (including my own) going into the FOMC was that the market was expecting way too much dovishness and that seems to have been the trend pretty much from the back end of Q4-2018 to today. Yet as a savvy macro trader I know – let’s call him Stratos – said, despite expectations, the Fed always seems to deliver to the market… even if it’s maybe not its intention.

Whilst the Fed kept rates unchanged, the tweak in wording (including taking out “patient”) and most notably (to me at least), the abstaining from a collective agreement – with Bullard advocating a 25 basis point cut – suggest that the likelihood of what could be a Fed cutting cycle will kick off at the next meeting on Jul 31 (Asia Aug 1, at 2am SGT/HKT/CST)

Note even though this video from John Hardy was a preview to yesterday’s FOMC, it still does a brilliant job of thinking about possible scenarios for the next Jul 31 Fed meeting. 

The two big levers that the hawks and bearish oriented tribes have are: 

 Current level of elevated equity markets, we lifted +30bp o/n to close at 2927 on SPX cash (not  far from ATH of 2954)

 The chance of some kind of US/China deal being struck before the Fed July meeting. The delta of this was quite low just 48 hours ago – yet since then, we’ve seen Trump tweeting that him and Xi are back to best pals status. And both teams are back at it. As low a probability of a ‘real deal’ being made is… it’s worth bearing in mind, that Trump is the master of spin (while I think his whole 2020 election strategy is on tariffs, trade wars and potential conflicts in the Middle East), and he could window dress any kind of agreement. If there is one thing Trump has proved time and time again, is there is literally no accountability and transparency surrounding politicians and policymakers.

Currently the market is pricing the Fed July meeting at 100%, soon the conversation will be about whether it could be a 50 bps cut of a 75 bps cut.

Love it or hate it, note some of the key big-time structural breaks we are seeing on a cross asset basis:

 This morning Asia US10s got sub 2.00% to 1.9719 & US 30-yr bonds got to 2.4782. Remember the Fed is at 2.50%

Whilst tactically we could see and should see some position liquidation and profit taking that could push yield back…

…structurally the bar for a big move back higher in yields seems to be bigger and bigger (i.e. need huge pickup in growth and inflation from the likes of the US and China). We are likely going to be making ATL levels on yields… across ALL MAJOR sovereign bond markets… you thought 2016 was crazy… just wait… and that’s with US10s at these 2.50% levels, Bunds at -30 bps and JGBs at -17bp

In Australia we have gone from +2% on both 5s and 10s at the start of the year… to 10yr Aussie bonds yielding 1.295% now. And this is before the inevitable recession that will come, after close to three decades… I can see a pathway where Aussie 10s will need to get sub 25-50bp before all this is over… 

 Gold is on fire and breaking out higher (awesome call by our CIO and Chief Economist Jakobsen), we are at $1,380 which is above that $1,350 level that has been crucial resistance (a close above $1,350 on the weekly should open us up for the $1,400/$1,500 levels). Again, historically speaking the precious metals miners are some of the few sectors trading at multi-year low valuations relative to the markets [ETFs such as GDX, GDXJ, SIL)

 Dollar/yen is sub 108.00 at 107.67 down -40bp… the Bank of Japan does not have an answer for an easing Fed… and whilst Japan will almost certainly not take up the Sales Tax issue in October, the convexity on USDJPY crosses still feels like 105 is higher probability than say 109.50… and even 103 & 100 cannot be ruled out on a 6-12m horizon (think of US election scenario where Trump is going to lose and Enron accounting maths from the likes of Bernie or Warren come into play… )

 US equities and equities in general are liking all this, salivating at the “race to the bottom theme” (seen Draghi, Trump and Lowe comment on all this, in the last 24hrs) and betting that the lower yields go, the more justification for owning equities – and you know what? So far that has worked in this cycle.

 Remember it’s not about being right or wrong… it’s about consistently making money over time. There are always profitable opportunities out there, times to stay on the side, times to stick to core positions and times to be tactical… I’m looking at the divergent trends that will occur regardless of US/China (i.e. Australia downside, Norway upside, EM demographics, global healthcare spend, single stock macro like plays such as BYND, etc).

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