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Strong Dollar Will Fuel Strong Rally in Russell 2000

This is my third piece in a series of columns about the compelling investment thesis that is currently unfolding with regard to getting long in the Russell 2000. It also will be my last set of thoughts on this topic, because after this week, it’s my…

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This is my third piece in a series of columns about the compelling investment thesis that is currently unfolding with regard to getting long in the Russell 2000.

It also will be my last set of thoughts on this topic, because after this week, it’s my view that the train will indeed have left the station. And it’s a non-stop train that likely won’t pull into the next station until it has sped ahead by 40-50%.

That’s both a fundamental and technical forecast. Let’s look at the fundamental side first. The world is awash in liquidity and quantitative easing (QE) is still rapidly expanding. At the most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stated the tapering process will involve a $15 billion monthly reduction from the current $120 billion a month the Fed is currently purchasing.

The buying of Treasuries and mortgages to the tune of $105 billion per month in QE is still a huge amount of stimulus, even with the Fed slowly taking its foot off the gas. On the current schedule, the reduction in bond purchases will conclude around July 2022. Fed officials have said they don’t envision rate hikes beginning until tapering is finished, and projections released in September indicate one increase, at most, is coming next year.

But much has happened since September, when the world was on a strong trajectory to rid itself of COVID-19 due to rising vaccination rates and lower trending caseloads, hospitalizations and mortality rates. Within the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases is once again spiking, primarily across Europe, prompting the re-imposition of a national lockdown in Austria and mandatory vaccinations.

The latest wave of COVID-19 cases is hammering Europe, with a number of countries seeing record numbers of daily infections, resulting in the imposing of partial lockdowns and more restrictions on unvaccinated people. In Germany, more than 65,000 new cases were reported, a new daily record, with health officials warning that the true number of cases could be double or triple that number. And both the Netherlands and France are reporting either record new cases or levels not seen since the peak of the pandemic.

Any plans that the European Central Bank (ECB) might have had about its ideas to taper QE are now on hold, as economic activity is at risk of witnessing a sudden slowdown. It is deja vu all over again in Europe, and this, heading into the winter months, only complicates the matter regarding the transmission of the virus. The obvious fear that is arising out of Europe is the potential impact on the United States at some point in the not-too-distant future, given the loosened travel restrictions.

The point here is that as attractive as Europe might have appeared as a place to which one would allot investment capital to — it is now not so appealing, when the risk of a widespread pause in the reopening of that region has materially increased. Hence, the U.S. market, and specifically those companies whose business models serve the domestic economy, remains the safer haven for more predictable returns — that being small to mid-cap stocks.

Then, there is the bullish move in the dollar that deserves comment. Both gradual tapering and incrementally higher bond yields are driving the value of the dollar higher relative to other major currencies. The dollar index (DXY) formed a formidable double-bottom between January and June, put in a high flag pattern during late September through October and subsequently broke out to the upside in November.

A strong dollar is a major headwind for the profit margins of multi-national corporations, especially those that generate more than 50% of revenues from outside the United States. As the Fed continues to move down the path of nominal tapering and rates creep higher, the path of least resistance for the greenback remains higher. This structural dynamic is also bullish for companies where the majority of business is dollar-based and where goods and services are sold within the U.S. – specifically, small to mid-cap companies.

Lastly, inflation is still a problem, much of it still caused by snarled global supply chains and tight labor markets. Last week, Walmart noted in its earnings release that it and other companies are “managing supply chain issues by rerouting products to less congested ports and extending overnight hours to unload cargo, and that while higher labor costs were adding to expenses, they were being offset by sales growth.” Here, too, a strong dollar means greater buying power when importing raw materials and goods. Once again, this foreign exchange variable skewed to a strong dollar favors the interests of domestic companies serving markets inside the United States — small to mid-cap companies, to be precise.

There are a few ways to play a potentially bullish U.S. small-cap rally using the Russell 2000 Index. The first fund to buy is the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM), as this is the most conventional avenue to get long in the index. More aggressive investors will trade leveraged instruments, like the Direxion Daily Small Cap Bull 3x Shares ETF (TNA), which provide three times the reward, but also three times the risk. For income investors, the Global X Russell 2000 Covered-Call ETF (RYLD) and its lofty 11.30% yield, coupled with a monthly payout, might be of interest. (I have no personal position in IWM, TNA or RYLD).

The chart of IWM above is one of the most pristine technical charts investors could hope for in buying an index. Following nine months of consolidation, IWM broke out earlier this month and has back-and-filled 50% of the recent gain. If the charts don’t lie, and normally they don’t, then Christmas could come early for those that take this breakout in the Russell 2000 to heart. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The post Strong Dollar Will Fuel Strong Rally in Russell 2000 appeared first on Stock Investor.

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Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel’s Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of…

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Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel's Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of the country to foreign travel. The ban will tentatively be in effect for the next two weeks.

Already Israel has banned all foreigners arriving from the majority of African countries in recent days on fears that the highly-mutated Omicron coronavirus variant, which first emerged in South Africa, could be the next deadly wave - and with the vaccine possibly doing little to stop it.

AFP/Getty Images

The greatly tightened travel and tourist restrictions are expected to be announced late Saturday night or early Sunday. It's expected to also include a new mandatory quarantine of three days or more for vaccinated Israeli citizens who've returned from traveling abroad. For unvaccinated inbound Israeli citizens the quarantine will be a week.

The fresh travel rules come as authorities scramble to do contact tracing on exposures related to at least one confirmed Omicron case:

Authorities are scrambling to locate 800 Israelis who may have been exposed to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, a defense official said Saturday.

The Health Ministry confirmed one case of the new variant in Israel, and said there were seven other suspected cases who were awaiting test results.

Four of the suspected cases returned to Israel recently from international travel, and three had not traveled, raising fears of community transmission in Israel.

Prime Minister Bennett ahead of the vote said the government is "preparing for any scenario." And concerning the new still somewhat mysterious variant, the country's interior minister said, "It looks like it might be more infectious, so we’re taking action as fast as possible."

Just days ago the health minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that Israelis will likely have to get a fourth shot, also as children between the ages of 5 to 11 have begun receiving the jab. Ironically the foreign tourist ban is now being re-imposed for one of the most highly vaxxed nations on earth.

At least 80% of all Israelis 16 and older are now considered fully vaccinated.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:15

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“The Omicron Variant” – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.

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"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.

This was as entirely predictable as it is completely meaningless. The “variants” are just tools to stretch the story out and keep people on their toes.

If you want to know exactly how the Omicron variant is going to affect the narrative, well The Guardian has done a handy “here’s all the bullshit we’re gonna sell you over the next couple of weeks” guide:

  • The Omicron variant is more transmissable, but they don’t know if it’s more dangerous yet (keeping their options open)

  • It originated in Africa, possible mutating in an “untreated AIDS patient” (sick people are breeding grounds for dangerous “mutations”)

  • “it has more than double the mutations of Delta…scientists anticipate that the virus will be more likely to infect – or reinfect – people who have immunity to earlier variants. (undermining natural immunity, selling more boosters, keeping the scarefest going)

  • “Scientists are concerned” that current vaccines may not be as effective against the new strain, they may need to be “tweaked” (get your boosters, and the new booster we haven’t invented yet)

  • “Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, will work as effectively against the new variant” (more on this later)

  • It’s already spreading around the world, and travel bans may be needed to prevent the need for another lockdown

We’re already seeing preparations for more “public health measures”, with the press breathlessly quoting “concerned” public health officials. We’re being told that a new lockdown won’t be necessary…as long as we remember to get boosted and wear masks and blah blah blah.

Generally speaking, it’s all fairly boilerplate scary nonsense. Although it is quite funny that the Biden administration has already put a bunch of African nations on a travel ban list, when Biden called Trump a racist for doing the same thing in 2020.

AFRICA

It’s interesting that the new variant has allegedly come from Africa, perhaps “mutating in the body of an AIDS patient”, since Africa has been the biggest hole in the Covid narrative for well over a year.

Africa is by far the poorest continent, it is densely populated, malnourishment and extreme poverty are endemic across many African nations, and it is home to more AIDS patients than the entire rest of the world combined. And yet, no Covid crisis.

This is a weak point in the story, and always has been.

Last Summer, the UK’s virus modeller-in-chief Neil Ferguson attempted to explain it by arguing that African nations have, on average, younger populations than the rest of the world, and Covid is only a threat to the elderly. But five minutes of common sense debunks that idea.

The reason Africa has a younger population, on average, is that – on average – they are much sicker.

There are diseases endemic to large parts of Africa that are all but wiped out in most of the Western world. Cholera, typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria. Access to clean water, and healthcare are also much more limited.

And while it has been nailed into the public mind that being elderly is the biggest risk factor for Covid, that is inaccurate. In fact, the biggest risk factor for dying “of Covid” is, and always has been, already dying of something else.

The truth is that any REAL dangerous respiratory virus would have cut a bloody swath across the entire continent.

Instead, as recently as last week, we were getting articles about how Africa “escaped Covid”, and the continent’s low covid deaths with only 6% of people vaccinated is “mystifying” and “baffling” scientists.

Politically, African nations have shown themselves far less likely to buy into the “pandemic” narrative than their European, Asian or American counterparts. At least two “Covid denying” African presidents – Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and John Magufuli of Tanzania – have died suddenly in the last year, and seen their successors immediately reverse their covid policies.

So maybe the Omicron Variant is a way of trying to fold Africa into the covid narrative that the other continents have already fully embraced. That will become clear as the story develops.

Of course, it’s also true that being “African” is media shorthand for being scary, relying on the deeply-seated xenophobia of Western audiences. See: “Africanized killer bees”.

But, either way, Africa is the long game. There’s a more obvious, and more cynical, short term agenda here.

THE MAGIC PILLS

Let’s go back to the Guardian’s “Omicron” bullet points, above:

  • Scientists are concerned by the number of mutations and the fact some of them have already been linked to an ability to evade existing [vaccine-created] immune protection.

  • Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, [will work effectively] against the new variant

The “new variant” is already being described as potentially resistant to the vaccines, but NOT the new anti-viral medications.

Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer are both working on “Covid pills”, which as recently as three days ago, were being hyped up in the press:

US may have a ‘game changer’ new Covid pill soon, but its success will hinge on rapid testing

In the US, an emergency use authorisation can only be issued if there is no effective medication or treatment already available, so the vaccines not being proof against Omicron would be vital to rushing the pills onto the US market, at least.

If Omicron is found to be “resistant to the vaccines”, but NOT the pills, that will give governments an excuse to rush through approving the pills on an EUA, just as they did with the vaccines.

So, you bet your ass that testing is gonna be “rapid”. Super rapid. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapid. Rapid to the point you’re not even sure it definitely happened. And now they have an excuse.

Really, it’s all just more of the same.

A scare before the new year. An excuse to make people believe their Christmas could be in peril. An exercise in flexing their control muscles a bit, milking even more money out of the double-jabbed and boosted crowd, now newly terrified of the Omicron variant, and a nice holiday bump to Pfizer’s ever-inflating stock price.

At this point either you can see the pattern, or you can’t. You’re free of the fear machinery, or you’re not.

There is one potential silver lining here: It feels rushed and frantic. Discovered on Tuesday, named on Friday, travel bans on Saturday. It is hurried, and maybe that’s a reaction to feeling like the “pandemic” is losing its grip on the public mind.

Hopefully, as the narrative becomes more and more absurd, more and more people will wake up to reality.

It has been pointed out that “Omicron” is an anagram of “moronic”.

One wonders if that’s deliberate and they’re making fun of us.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:45

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Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot “Remain In Mexico” Program

Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot "Remain In Mexico" Program

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Mexican authorities have laid out a series of conditions for reviving the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Trump-era…

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Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot "Remain In Mexico" Program

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Mexican authorities have laid out a series of conditions for reviving the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Trump-era framework under which asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico to await the processing of their claims, with the development coming in context of the Biden administration’s plans to reinstate the policy following a court order.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a Nov. 26 announcement that talks have “intensified” with the United States on rebooting the program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), but that Mexican authorities are waiting for a formal response from the Biden administration on a number of concerns.

“The government of Mexico … has raised various concerns of a humanitarian nature regarding the asylum procedure in the United States,” the ministry said, adding that it has “highlighted the need to improve conditions for migrants and asylum seekers, so that they have better legal advice” regarding the processing of their clams, which Mexico said, “must be carried out as expeditiously as possible.”

One of the conditions is for the United States to accelerate development programs for southern Mexico and Central America in order to address the root causes of migration.

Another is for Washington to offer individuals deported under the MPP program medical care and vaccination against COVID-19 “to protect their right to health and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities on both sides of the border.”

Mexico has also requested that the United States respect designated return points, taking into account local security conditions and the capacity of Mexican authorities “to provide adequate care to migrants.”

Another “essential” request is for Washington to provide funding for shelters and non-government organizations “in order to improve conditions for migrants and asylum seekers in a substantive way.”

The demands come as talks between the two countries continue on reimplementing the MPP program after a court in August ordered that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reverse its June decision to halt the policy.

“In compliance with the court order, we are working to reimplement MPP as promptly as possible,” DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa told Axios.

”We cannot do so until we have the independent agreement from the Government of Mexico to accept those we seek to enroll in MPP,” Espinosa added.

“We will communicate to the court, and to the public, the timing of reimplementation when we are prepared to do so.”

The Biden administration is facing an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration that critics say is fostered by its lax enforcement policies, including halting MPP and curtailing the use of Title 42, which is used to expel illegal immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 16:45

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