The interaction among the 10-Year Treasury Note’s market participants provides a great example of how the commercial traders’ actions, as categorized in the weekly Commitments of Traders report, can be predictive of future market movement. More importantly, this information can provide keen insight ahead of major market news events like the September FOMC meeting.
By Dr. Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington
The Separate Constraints of Deficit Spending and Debt
Real per capita GDP has risen by a paltry 1.3% annualized since the current expansion began in 2009. This is less than half of the 2.7% average expansion since the records began in 1790. One of the most persistent impediments to growth has been the drag from fiscal policy, a constraint that is likely to become even more severe in the next decade. The standard of living, or real median household income, has only declined in the 2009-2016 expansion and stands at the same level reached in 1996.
Last week, we noted that the declining volatility of option prices ahead of this Wednesday’s FOMC meeting was curious, to say the least. As we dug in, we noted the broader scope of this trend towards declining option volatility. Today, I’ll show you another way of using the Commitments of Traders report to track investor sentiment and in this case, why the correspondingly bullish put/call ratio via the large speculators is probably bad news for the stock market.
Our focus on the commercial trader population within the Commodity Futures Trading Commissions’ (CFTC) weekly Commitments of Traders (COT) report is based upon the premise that these people are some of the most well connected members of today’s financial world. Much of the weight we give them is based on years of watching their positions build and decline in conjunction with the economic news of a given market. Their timing is uncannily accurate. Therefore, when their actions forecast a given scenario ahead of an important news event, we take note. When the news, like this morning’s unemployment report, moves the market further against their position, we REALLY take note.
The interest rate sector has been spooked back and forth between the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) desire to raise domestic interest rates and the global economy’s seeming inability to gain any significant traction. This has led to the conundrum we face as the FOMC raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade while, simultaneously, more of the First World’s economic powers slip deeper into negative interest rates. This begs the question, “How can an individual determine the path of interest rates even as the world’s most connected bankers and governments argue vehemently among themselves regarding the same topic?” Our answer in times like these has always been the effective implementation of commercial traders’ consensus combined with good old-fashioned technical analysis.
The U.S. Treasury Bond market has been held hostage for the last year as the developed world argues about economic stimulus. The argument began to grow back in December of 2014 as Janet Yellen and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) stated, “The committee considers it unlikely to begin the normalization process for at least the next couple of meetings.” This sent rates plummeting and Treasury Bond and stock prices screaming higher. This move was widely anticipated and was perhaps, the last choreographed move between the Treasury and its markets’ participants as market participation since then has declined dramatically. This has left the biggest traders in the deepest markets debating domestic Fed policy in a world of increasingly negative interest rates, while raising domestic rates for the first time in nearly 10 years.
It is time to look at alternative ways to hedge against rising interest rates. Unfortunately, with the huge increase in volatility due to so many headline issues from Greece to trading halts on the NYSE, that it makes it tough to hold onto positions. Fortunately, the most liquid interest rate market is structured in such a way that hedging against inflation can be done with a reasonably fixed amount of risk.
We focused on two main themes this week. First, we looked at selling the Euro currency for TraderPlanet and followed it right up with a look at the Dollar Index on Tuesday for Equities.com. Meanwhile, our main piece focused on the grain markets ahead of Tuesday’s USDA Acreage Report.
Indecision, fear and uncertainty continue to strengthen their grip on the markets as we head towards the Federal Open Market Committee’s FOMC meeting beginning today as well as a possible Greek default by the end of the month. Faced with the possibility of correctly forecasting the actual events of the FOMC and the Greeks versus trading the reality of the markets’ collective reactions, investors are taking chips off the table. Here’s a brief look at why chips are stacked a bit differently than they have been since the ’08 economic collapse and the one pocket of the interest rate sector that could benefit substantially should indecision, turmoil and volatility be the effects of this month’s economic announcements.