Category Archives: jay kaeppel

Good for Japan, Bad for US (Bonds)?

In the late 1980’s, Japan seemed destined to “rule the financial world”.  But when it comes to the financial markets – things don’t always pan out as they appear destined to.  The Nikkei Index topped out in late 1989, didn’t bottom out until February 2009 and has yet to return to its 1989 peak.

But it sure is trying.  This past week the Nikkei reached its highest level 1991.  So, hooray for the Japanese.  Back here in the US of A there may be a slightly different take.  For as we will discuss in a moment, what is good for Japanese stocks is (apparently) bad for US bonds.

Ticker EWJ

As our proxy for Japanese stocks we will use ticker EWJ (iShares Japan).  In Figure 1 you can the monthly action since the ETF started trading in 1996. 

Figure 1- Ticker EWJ monthly (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Since 1996 EWJ has broken in the $60 a share range on 5 previous occasions, only to be rebuffed.  You can see the latest upward thrust at the far right.  Will this be the time it breaks through?  It beats me and in fact that is not really the focus of this article.  The real question posed here is “what about U.S. treasury bonds?”  Huh?  Consider Figure 2. 

The top clip of Figure 2 displays a weekly chart of EWJ with a 5-week and 30-week moving average drawn.  The bottom clip displays a weekly chart of ticker TLT – the iShares ETF that tracks the long-term U.S. treasury bond. 

Note that – using highly technical terms – when one “zigs”, the other “zags.”

Figure 2 – EWJ vs. TLT (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

The thing to note is the inverse correlation between the two – i.e., when Japanese stocks advance, US treasuries tend to decline and vice versa.  For the record (and for you fellow numbers geeks out there) the correlation coefficient in the last 2 years is -0.45 (1 means they trade exactly the same, -1 means they trade exactly inversely).

For my purposes:

*EWJ 5-week MA < EWJ 3-week MA = BULLISH for US treasuries

*EWJ 5-week MA > EWJ 3-week MA = BEARISH for US treasuries

Any real merit to this? 

*The blue line in Figure 3 displays the cumulative $ +(-) achieved by holding a long position in t-bond futures ($1,000 a point) when the EWJ indicator is BULLISH (for U.S. bonds)

*The orange line in Figure 3 displays the cumulative $ +(-) achieved by holding a long position in t-bond futures ($1,000 a point) when the EWJ indicator is BEARISH (for U.S. bonds)

Figure 3 – $ + (-) for Treasury Bond Futures when EWJ indicator is BULLISH for bonds (blue) or BEARISH for bonds (orange)

Summary

Bond investors might keep a close eye on Japanese stocks for a while.  If the latest thrust higher follows through and becomes the move that finally breaks out to the upside, the implication would appear to be negative for U.S. long-term treasury bonds.  On the flip side, if Japanese stocks fail once again to break through and reverse to the downside, then things might look a whole lot better for the 30-year US treasury.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

Looking for Ideas “Off the Beaten Path”

For the record, I am an avowed “trend-follower.”  But I also know that no trend lasts forever.  So, while I have gotten pretty good at “riding along”, I do – like most people – like to “look ahead” since I do know that the landscape will forever be changing.

So, with the caveat that none of what follows should be considered a “call to action”, only as a “call to pay attention”, let’s venture out “into the weeds.”

AIROIL

Here is an ugly pairing – airline stocks and traditional energy stocks – yikes!  In Figure 1 you see an index that I created and followed call AIROIL comprised of three airline stocks and five “Big Oil” stocks.  During the pandemic meltdown this index fell to a level not seen since 2007 before “bouncing”. 

Editors Note: 

Jay's AIROIL Index is built using the AIQ Data Manager by creating a list andcreating a group ticker (in this case AIROIL).  Stocks are inserted under the ticker and the index is then computed using  Compute Group/Sector indices. 

Figure 1 – Jay’s AIROIL Index (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

In the bottom clip you see an indicator I call VFAA.  Note that when VFAA tops out and rolls over, meaningful advances in the index tend to follow.  In addition, VFAA is at a high level seen only once before in 2009. Following that reversal, the index rose almost 500% over the next 9 years.

So, is now a great time to pile into airlines and big oil?  One would have to be a pretty hard-core contrarian to pound the table on this one.  The airlines are in terrible shape due to the pandemic and vast uncertainty remains regarding when things might improve.  And “Big Oil” is about as unloved as any sector has ever been. 

So, am I suggesting anyone “load up” on airlines and oil?  Nope.  What I am saying is that I am watching this closely and that if and when VFAA “rolls over” I may look to commit some money to these sectors on a longer-term contrarian basis.

International/Commodities/Value

Also known of late as “the barking dogs”.  If you have had money committed to any or all of these asset classes in recent years you are shaking your head right about now.  These areas have VASTLY underperformed a simple “buy-and-hold the S&P 500 Index” approach for a number of years.

Is this state of affairs going to change anytime soon?  Regarding “anytime soon” – it beats me.  However, I am on the record as arguing that at some point this WILL change.  History makes one thing very clear – no asset class has a permanent edge.  So, given that the S&P 500 Index has beaten these above mentioned by such a wide margin for such a long time (roughly a decade or more) I am confident that one day in the next x years, the “worm will turn.”

Figure 2 displays an index that I created and follow that tracks an international ETF, a commodity ETF and a value ETF.  The VFAA indicator appears in the bottom clip. 

Figure 2 – Jay’s INTCOMVAL Index (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Now if history is a guide, then the recent “rollover” by VFAA suggests that this particular grouping of asset classes should perform well in the coming years.  Two things to note:

1. There is no guarantee

2. There is absolutely no sign yet that “the turn” – relative to the S&P 500 – is occurring

Figure 3, 4 and 5 are “relative strength” charts from www.StockCharts.com.  They DO NOT display the price of any security; they display the performance of the first ETF list compared to the second ETF listed.  So, Figure 3 displays the performance of ticker EFA (iShares MSCI EAFE ETF which tracks a broad index of stocks from around the globe, excluding the U.S.) relative to the S&P 500 Index.

When the bars are trending lower it means EFA is underperforming SPY and vice versa.  The trend in Figure 3 is fairly obvious – international stocks continue to lose ground to U.S. large-cap stocks. 

Figure 3 – Ticker EFA relative to ticker SPY (Courtesy: www.StockCharts.com)

If your goal is to pick a bottom, have at it.  As for me, I am waiting for some “signs of life” in international stocks relative to U.S. stocks before doing anything.

Figure 4 displays ticker DBC (a commodity-based ETF) versus SPY and Figure 5 displays ticker VTV (Vanguard Value ETF) versus ticker VUG (Vanguard Growth ETF). Both tell the same tale as Figure 3 – unless you are an avowed bottom-picker there is no actionable intelligence.  Still, both these trends are now extremely overdone, so a significant opportunity may be forming. 

Figure 4 – Ticker DBC relative to ticker SPY (Courtesy: www.StockCharts.com)

Figure 5 – Ticker VTV relative to ticker VUG (Courtesy: www.StockCharts.com)

Summary

Two key points as succinctly as possible:

*Nothing is happening at the moment with everything displayed above…

*…But something will (at least in my market-addled opinion) – so pay close attention.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

The Calm Before the Bond Storm?

The bond market was very quiet in the 3rd quarter.  Figure 1 displays ticker IEF (7-10 year treasuries ETF) in the to clip and ticker AGG (Aggregate Bond Index ETF) in the bottom clip. 

Figure 1 – Tickers IEF and AGG in narrow ranges (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Essentially the entire bond market has been flat since early June.  The market seems to be assuming that “the Fed will take of everything” and keep interest rates low and stable for the foreseeable future so…..ZZZZZZZZ.

But this type of activity often breeds complacency.  I am not making any predictions here but I do want to raise a question that investors might wish to ponder, i.e., “what would be more shocking that a spike in interest rates?”  OK, yes, I realize it is 2020 and it is pretty much hard to be shocked by anything anymore.  But still, on a relative basis how many investors are even thinking about the potential risk of higher interest rates at the moment?

Could it Happen?

The Bond Market VIX (ticker MOVE) recently fell to its lowest level ever (before spiking sharply higher on 10/5/20).  As you can see in Figure 2 this type of “quietness” often precedes a significant move in the bond market.  For the record, low readings in MOVE can be followed by large up moves in price as easily as large down moves in price.  So, a low MOVE reading is not “bearish” per se, but rather merely suggests that we are experiencing the “calm before the storm.”

Figure 2 – Bond Market VIX hit an all-time low (Courtesy Sentimentrader.com)

So why is my “Spidey sense” tingling?  Figure 3 displays the yield on 30-year treasuries (ticker TYX) on the bottom and an indicator I refer to as VFAA on the bottom (the calculation appears at the end of this piece).  VFAA is a derivative on a Larry William’s indicator he calls VixFix.

Figure 3 – 30-year treasury yields with VFAA suggesting a potential bottoming area (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

As you can see in Figure 3, peaks in the VFAA indicator often occur near intermediate term lows in bond yields (reminder: bond prices move inversely to yield, so a bottom in interest rates indicates a top in bond prices).  As you can also see on the far-right hand side, the stage clearly appears to be set for “the next go round.”

Why does this matter?  If interest rates do rise in the months ahead bond prices – particularly long-term bond prices can get hit hard.  To illustrate the potential risks, Figure 4 displays the action of treasury security ETFs of various maturity during a 5-month rise in rates back in 2016.

Figure 4 – Bond ETF action during rate rise in 2016

Summary

It is possible for long and short-term bonds to “de-couple”.  In other words, the possibilities are:

*Short-term rates remain stable (as the Fed keeps pumping) while long-term rates rise (as inflation fears arise as a result of all the Fed pumping)

*Short-term rates remain stable while long-term rates plummet (if the economy appears to be weakening).  This would result in gains for long-term bonds only

*None of the above

The bottom line: Bonds have fallen asleep – but DO NOT fall asleep on bonds. 

VFAA Formula

Below is the code for VFAA

VixFix is an indicator developed many years ago by Larry Williams which essentially compares the latest low to the highest close in the latest 22 periods (then divides the difference by the highest close in the latest 22 periods).  I then multiply this result by 100 and add 50 to get VixFix.

*Next is a 3-period exponential average of VixFix

*Then VFAA is arrived at by calculating a 7-period exponential average of the previous result (essentially, we are “double-smoothing” VixFix)

Are we having fun yet?  See code below:

hivalclose is hival([close],22).

vixfix is (((hivalclose-[low])/hivalclose)*100)+50.

vixfixaverage is Expavg(vixfix,3).

vixfixaverageave is Expavg(vixfixaverage,7).

VFAA = vixfixaverageave

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

Good Companies, Troubled Stocks and Potential Opportunity

Truth be told I am not much of a “stock picker”. Oh, I can pick ‘em alright just like anyone else.  They just to don’t go the right way as often as I’d like.  I also believe that the way to maximize profitability is to follow a momentum type approach that identifies stocks that are performing well and buying them when they breakout to the upside (ala O’Neil, Minervini, Zanger, etc.) and then riding them as long as they continue to perform.  Unfortunately, I’m just not very good at it. 

Back when I started out, there was such a thing as a “long-term investor.”  People would try to find good companies selling at a decent price and they would buy them and hold them for, well, the long-term.  Crazy talk, right? As I have already stated, I am not claiming that that is a better approach. I am just pointing out that it was “a thing.”

An Indicator

There is an indicator (I will call it VFAA, which is short for vixfixaverageave, which – lets face it – is a terrible name) that I follow that was developed as an extension of Larry William’s VixFix Indicator.  There is nothing magic about it.  Its purpose is to identify when price has reached an exceptionally oversold level and “may” be due to rally.  The code for this indicator appears later.

For the record, I DO NOT systematically use this indicator in the manner I am about to describe, nor am I recommending that you do.  Still, it seems to have some potential value, so what follows is merely an illustration for informational purposes only.

The Rules

*We will look at a monthly bar chart for a given stock

*A “buy signal” occurs when VFAA reaches or exceeds 80 and then turns down for one month

*A “sell (or exit) signal” occurs when VFAA subsequently rises by at least 0.25 from a monthly closing low

Seeing as how this is based solely on monthly closes it obviously this is not going to be a “precision market timing tool.”

Some “Good Companies” with “Troubled Stocks”

So now let’s apply this VFAA indicator to some actual stocks.  Again, I AM NOT recommending that anyone use this approach mechanically.  The real goal is merely to try to identify situations where a stock has been washed out, reversed and MAY be ready to run for a while.

Ticker BA

Figure 1 displays a monthly chart for Boeing (BA) with VFAA at the bottom.  The numbers on the chart represent the hypothetical + (-) % achieved by applying the rules above (although once again, to be clear I am not necessarily suggesting anyone use it exactly this way). 

Figure 1 – Ticker BA with VFAA (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

From March 2019 into March 2020 BA declined -80%.  It has since bounced around and VFAA has soared to 110.88.  VFAA has yet to rollover on a month-end basis, so nothing to do here except exhibit – what’s that word again – oh right, “patience.”

Ticker GD

Figure 2 displays a monthly chart for General Dynamics (GD) with VFAA at the bottom. 

Figure 2 – Ticker GD with VFAA (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Are these “world-beating numbers”?  Not really.  But in terms of helping to identify potential opportunities, not so bad. VFAA gave a “buy signal” for GD at the end of July. So far, not so good as the stock is down about -6%.

Ticker WFC

Figure 3 displays a monthly chart for Wells Fargo (WFC) with VFAA at the bottom. 

Figure 3 – Ticker WFC with VFAA (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

There are not many “signals” but the ones that occurred have been useful. Between 2018 and 2020 WFC declined -65%.  It has since bounced around and VFAA has soared to 102.44.  VFAA has yet to rollover on a month-end basis. But at some point it will, and a potential opportunity may arise.

VFAA Formula

Below is the code for VFAA

VixFix is an indicator developed many years ago by Larry Williams which essentially compares the latest low to the highest close in the latest 22 periods (then divides the difference by the highest close in the latest 22 periods).  I then multiply this result by 100 and add 50 to get VixFix.

*Next is a 3-period exponential average of VixFix

*Then VFAA is arrived at by calculating a 7-period exponential average of the previous result (essentially, we are “double-smoothing” VixFix)

Are we having fun yet?  See code below:

hivalclose is hival([close],22).

vixfix is (((hivalclose-[low])/hivalclose)*100)+50.

vixfixaverage is Expavg(vixfix,3).

vixfixaverageave is Expavg(vixfixaverage,7).

VFAA = vixfixaverageave

EDITORS NOTE: The AIQ Expert Design Studio code for the indicator is available to download from here. Save this file to your /wintes32/EDS Strategies folder https://aiqeducation.com/VFAA.EDS

Summary

One thing to note is that VFAA “signals” on a monthly chart don’t come around very often.  So, you can’t really sit around and wait for a signal to form on your “favorite company”.  You have to look for opportunity wherever it might exist.

One last time let me reiterate that I am not suggesting using VFAA as a standalone systematic approach to investing. But when a signal does occur – especially when applied to quality companies that have recently been “whacked”, it can help to identify a potential opportunity.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

Whither Apple?

OK, first off a true confession.  I hate it when some wise acre analyst acts like they are so smart and that everyone else is an idiot.  Its offensive and off-putting – not to mention arrogant.  And still in this case, all I can say is “Hi, my name is Jay.”

A lot of attention has been paid lately to the fact that AAPL is essentially swallowing up the whole world in terms of market capitalization.  As you can see in Figure 1, no single S&P 500 Index stock has ever had a higher market cap relative to the market cap of the entire Russell 2000 small-cap index. 

Figure 1 – Largest S&P 500 Index stock as a % of entire Russell 200 Index (Courtesy Sentimentrader.com)

So of course, the easiest thing in the world to do is to be an offensive, off-putting and arrogant wise acre and say “Well, this can’t last.”  There, I said it.  With the caveat that I have no idea how far AAPL can run “before the deluge”, as a student of (more) market history (than I care to admit) I cannot ignore this gnawing feeling that this eventually “ends badly.”  Of course, I have been wrong plenty of times before and maybe things (Offensive, Off-Putting and Arrogant Trigger Warning!) “really will be different this time around.”  To get a sense of why I bring this all up, please keep reading.

In Figure 1 we also see some previous instances of a stock becoming “really large” in terms of market cap.  Let’s take a closer look at these instances.

IBM – 1979

Figure 2 – IBM (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

MSFT – 1999

Figure 3 – MSFT (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

XOM – 2008

Figure 4 – XOM (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

AAPL – 2012

Figure 5 – AAPL (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

AAPL – 2020

Figure 6 – AAPL (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Summary

Small sample size? Yes.

Could AAPL continue to run to much higher levels? Absolutely

Do I still have that offensive, off-putting and slightly arrogant gut feeling that somewhere along the way AAPL takes a huge whack?

Sorry.  It’s just my nature.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

The Rally in “Stuff” Rolls On

In this article, dated 7/10/2020, I noted that my “Stuff” Index was coming on strong and that its performance may be a “shot across the bow” that some changes may be coming to the financial markets.  Since then, the trend has accelerated.

STUFF vs. FANG vs. QQQ

Figure 1 displays the performance of STUFF components since 7/10

Figure 2 displays the performance of FANG components since 7/10

Figure 1 – Price performance of Jay’s STUFF Index components since 7/10

Figure 2 – Price performance of FANG stocks since 7/10

For the record, the “high-flying” Nasdaq 100 Index (using ticker QQQ as a proxy investment) is up +4.0% during the same time.

Is this a trend – or a blip?  Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. But it certainly appears that there is something afoot in “Stuff”, particularly the metals.  Figure 3 displays the weekly charts for ETFs tracking Silver, Gold, Palladium and Platinum (clockwise from upper left). 

Figure 3 – The metals components of the Stuff Index (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

When it comes bull markets in metals, the typical pattern historically goes something like this:

*Gold leads the way (check)

*Eventually silver comes on strong and often ends up outperforming gold (check)

*The other metals rise significantly “under the radar” as everyone focus on – literally in this case, ironically – the “shiny objects” (gold and silver)

Again, while I had inklings that a bull market in metals was forming (and have held positions in them for several years, and still hold them), I certainly did not “predict” the recent explosion in gold and silver prices. 

Two things to note:

*Gold and silver are obviously very “overbought”, so buying a large position here entails significant risk

*Still it should be noted that both SLV and PPLT would have to double in price from their current levels just to get back to their previous all-time highs of 2011

So, don’t be surprised if “Stuff” enjoys a continued resurgence.  Note in Figure 4 that a number of commodity related ETFs are way, way beaten down and could have a lot of upside potential if a resurgence actually does unfold.

Figure 4 – Four commodity ETFs weekly (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

What is interesting – and almost not visible to the naked eye – is the action in the lower right hand corner of these four charts. To highlight what is “hiding in plain sight”, Figure 5 “zooms in” on the recent action of same four tickers as Figure 4, but in a daily price format rather than a monthly price format.

Figure 5 – Four commodity ETFs daily (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Despite the ugly pictures painted in Figure 4, it is interesting to note in Figure 5 that all four of these commodity related ETFs have rallied sharply of late.  There is of course, no guarantee this will continue.  But if the rally in “Stuff” – currently led by metals – spreads to the commodity sector as a whole, another glance in Figures 3 and 4 reveals a lot of potential upside opportunity.

Time will tell.  In the meantime, keep an eye on the “shiny objects” (gold and silver) for clues as to whether or not the rally in “Stuff” has staying power.

See also Jay Kaeppel Interviewin July 2020 issue of Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities magazine

See also Jay’s “A Strategy You Probably Haven’t Considered” Video

See also Video – The Long-Term…Now More Important Than Ever

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

When “Perfection” Meets “The Real World”

In this article I wrote about a signal called “Bull Market Thrust”.  The upshot is that since 1991 it has identified 8 “bullish periods”.  The start and end dates of those periods – and the price performance of several indexes during each period – appear in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – “Bull Market Thrust” bullish periods

One key thing to note is that – focusing solely on the Nasdaq 100 Index – 100% of the “bullish periods” witnessed a gain, i.e., “perfection.”  The average gain was +40%.

So that looks pretty good and pretty darned encouraging going forward since there was a new buy signal on June 8th of this year.  And indeed, if history is a guide the outlook for the Nasdaq (and the stock market as a whole) is favorable in the next year.  But there is one thing to keep in mind….

Jay’s Trading Maxim #33: When you have actual money on the line, the chasm between theory and reality can be a mile wide.

The bottom line is that even during “bullish periods” the market fluctuates.  And if one is focused on “news” there is plenty of opportunity to feel angst no matter how strong the market “should be.”  So, in an effort to “mange expectations”, the charts below display the price action of the Nasdaq 100 during each “bullish period” displayed in Figure 1.

Nasdaq 100 during “Bullish Periods” based on Bull Market Thrust signals

*All charts below are (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

*Each chart displays one of the “Bullish Periods” from Figure 1. 

*Each chart contains one or more red boxes highlighting a period of “market trouble”

THE POINT: the key thing to ponder is how easily it would be to allow yourself to get “shaken out” if you were focused on what the “news of the day” is telling you, rather than what the market itself is telling you.

Figure 2 – NDX: 1/29/91 – 2/28/93

Figure 3 – NDX: 6/5/2003-6/4/2004

Figure 4 – NDX: 3/23/2009-3/1/2011

Figure 5 – NDX: 7/7/2011-7/6/2012

Figure 6 – NDX: 7/9/13-7/15/2014

Figure 7 – NDX: 2/26/2016-11/17/2017

Figure 8 – NDX: 1/8/2019-1/17/2020

Figure 9 – 6/8/2020-?

The bottom line is that:

*Sometimes the market “took off” after the signal

*Sometime the market sold off shortly after the signal (see 2011 signal)

*In every case there was a drawdown of some significant somewhere along the way

The purpose of paying attention to things like “Bull Market Thrust” buy signals is not to “pick bottoms with uncanny accuracy.” 

In the real word, the purpose is to help strengthen our resolve in riding the exceptional opportunities.

See also Jay Kaeppel Interview in July 2020 issue of Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities magazine

See also Jay’s “A Strategy You Probably Haven’t Considered” Video

See also Video – The Long-Term…Now More Important Than Ever

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

How to Know When to Worry About Inflation

Inflation was a big deal – back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Since then it has been the subject of a whole lot of “the boy crying wolf” scenarios.  Take a look at Figure 1.  The red line displays the 12-month rate-of-change in the Consumer Price Index (i.e., the annual rate of inflation) since 1913.

Figure 1 – The Consumer Price Index (1913-2020)

Things to note, focusing on 1930 forward to the present:

*In the 1930’s we had deflation (actually much worse than inflation as the economy essentially spirals lower and slower) with the CPI reaching almost -10%

*There were peaks in the 15% range in the late 1940’s and late 70’s/early 80’s

*As you can see in the black box to the right hand side, inflation has been less than 5% annually for most of the last 35 years

As a result, most investors have been conditioned to not fret too much about inflation.  And any time spent actually worrying about inflation in the past several decades has been a waste of good anxiety.

But nothing lasts forever.  Especially in the financial markets, where things tend to move in a cyclical nature over long periods of time.  To illustrate this point with a random, yet related example, consider Figure 2 which displays the yield on 30-year treasury bonds since 1942.

Figure 2 – 30-year treasury bond yield (1942-2020) (Courtesy: www.StockCharts.com)

Since the early 1980’s, investors have been nicely rewarded for holding bonds – especially long-term bonds.  But from the mid 1950’s into 1980 the experience was much different (rising yields equate to lower bond prices).  Presumably someday rates will rise again and an entire generation of bond investors will have no idea what is happening to their investments (see hereherehere and here).  But for now, we are focusing on inflation.

How to Know When to Worry About Inflation

I’ll give you three things to follow. 

#1. Gold

In a recent paper co-authored by legendary trader Paul Tudor Jones (see here) the authors laid out the case for higher inflation in the years ahead and suggested gold bullion could reach $2,400 an ounce.  Is this a possibility?  Absolutely. 

Figure 3 displays from 2005 through 2012:

*ticker GLD (an ETF that tracks the price of gold bullion)

*my own index called ANTIGLD3 (components highlighted on right) with a Front Weighted Moving Average and a 55-week exponential moving average)

The ANTIGLD3 Index is a contrarian trend-following tool, i.e., when this index is in a downtrend it is bullish for gold and vice versa.

Figure 3 – Ticker GLD versus Jay’s ANTIGLD3 Index (2005-2012) (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Figure 4 displays the same tickers from 2012 into 2020

Figure 4 – Ticker GLD versus Jay’s ANTIGLD3 Index (2012-2020) (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

The key thing to note in Figure 4 is that after several years of whipsaws the two trend-following indicators applied to ANTIGLD3 are in a clear downtrend (since this is a contrarian index that means it is purportedly bullish for gold). 

So, is it off to the races for gold?  I can’t say for sure. But it appears to be trying. Also note that gold can rally significantly in price for reasons other than inflation (see 2005-2011 rally)

I have positions in gold and gold stocks but not huge ones.  For whatever reason, so far, I am “not feeling it.”  As you will see in a moment, some inflation trend-following “things” that I watch have yet to confirm that inflation is an imminent threat at this exact moment.

But I am holding my positions just in case gold itself is the actual “leading indicator” in this story.

#2. The Aussie Dollar versus its 24-month moving average

I covered this in detail here so will not get too in-depth here.  But you can get the gist of it pretty simply from Figure 5. The top chart is ticker FXA with a 24-month exponential moving average and the bottom chart is ticker GSG which tracks the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index.

Figure 5 – Ticker FXA (top) and ticker GSG (bottom) (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Long story short, commodities – or “hard assets”, are typically a good place to be during a period of sharply rising and/or high inflation – perform better when FXA is in an uptrend (i.e., above the 24-month EMA) than when below.  As of early July FXA has just moved above its 24-month EMA.  For the record, I usually only consider this at month-end.  So, check back after 7/31. 

If FXA establishes an uptrend, the likelihood of higher prices for commodities – including gold – rises. Thus, an uptrend for FXA would be another potential warning sign of impending inflation.

#3. TIPs versus Long-Term Treasuries

TIPs bonds are Treasury Inflation Protected securities, i.e., the principal can rise as inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index) rises (see here).  In other words, a TIP bond can gain value as inflation rises. Long-term treasuries on the other hand are the securities most likely to get hurt by a rise in inflation (as the rate of return is fixed once you buy the bond and a rise in inflation can reduce the future value and/or purchasing power of that fixed return). 

So, in a low inflationary period we typically see TIPs fall relative to long-term treasuries and during rising inflation we would expect to see TIPS rise relative to long-term bonds. 

Figure 6 displays the chart of ticker TIP relative to ticker TLT on a weekly basis (with a 200-wekk moving average) from www.StockCharts.com.

Figure 6 – Ticker TIP relative to ticker TLT (weekly) still trending lower (Courtesy: www.StockCharts.com)

The bottom line: While gold itself is attempting to breakout to the upside and the Aussie Dollar is trying to establish an uptrend, the TIP:TLT relationship is not presently indicating any meaningful inflationary concerns. 

Summary

Inflation has been low for about 35 years.  But as they say, “don’t go to sleep on it.” 

If you want to be objectively prepared, keep an eye on:

*Gold bullion (in an uptrend, confirmed by a downtrend in my “anti-gold index”)

*The Aussie Dollar (No trend at the moment, but trying to establish an uptrend)

*Ticker TIP versus ticker TLT (Nowhere close to an uptrend right now)

So one up, one down and one sideways.  But pay close attention going forward.

If and when all three establish uptrends, the game we’ve all been playing for several decades will likely change dramatically.

See also Jay Kaeppel Interview in July 2020 issue of Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities magazine

See also Jay’s “A Strategy You Probably Haven’t Considered” Video

See also Video – The Long-Term…Now More Important Than Ever

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

Financials – Danger or Opportunity? Or Both?

To say that there is has been and remains a great deal of angst in the financial markets is a bit of an understatement. This is especially true when it comes to the financial sector.  The financial sector has a fairly high correlation to treasury yields (ticker FSRBX – Fidelity Select Banking Portfolio has a 0.52 correlation to ticker TNX – which tracks 10-year treasury yields).  As yields have plummeted so has the financial sector.  During the recent decline, FSRBX plunged -51% from its December 2019 peak.  With little expectation of higher rates anytime soon a lot of investors are understandably wary of diving into this sector.

But much like with the energy sector, the old adage that the time to buy is when there is “blood in the streets”, should give one pause before they turn their back completely on the financial sector.  For the time being I am keeping my eye on a little-known indicator called “Vixfixaverageave” (yes, I agree it is a really bad name).  The calculations for this indicator appear at the end of this article.  The reason I am watching it right now is that it recently reached a very oversold level that has helped to highlight some useful buying opportunities for financials in the past.

Ticker FSRBX

Figure 1 displays a monthly chart for FSRBX in the top clip and the Vixfixaverageave indicator in the bottom clip.  Note that the indicator rose above 72 at the end of April 2020.  As you can see there have been four previous occasions when this indicator, a) exceeded 72 and then b) reversed lower for one month.  For arguments sake we will call that a buy signal.

Figure 1 – Ticker FSRBX with indicator Vixfixaverageave (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Figure 2 displays the 1 to 5 year % + (-) for FSRBX following the four previous signals.  As you can see, they all proved to be exceptional buying opportunities.

Figure 2 – FSRBX returns 1 to 5 years after signal

Now for the disappointing news: if you are thinking that all we have to do is wait for this indicator to finally top out and that big profits are “guaranteed” to roll in, you are making a mistake.  As they say, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”  (Sorry, I don’t make the rules).  So, when the Vixfixaverageave monthly reading for FSRBX does finally roll over, the proper course of action would be to:

*Decide if you really want to act based on the signal

*Decide how much capital you are willing to commit

*Decide how much of that capital you are actually willing to risk – i.e. will you stop out if a loss exceeds x%, or do you plan to simply hold it for 1 to 5 years regardless?

Summary

There are a million and one ways to trigger an entry signal.  The one discussed herein is just one more.  What really separates the winners from the losers is the answers to the three questions just posed.

Vixfixaverageave Calculations 

EDITTORS NOTE: The code sections can be copied and pasted into AIQ EDS or you can download the indicator code in an EDS file from here and save it to your /wintes32/EDS Strategies folder.

This indicator is based on another indicator called VixFix which was developed many years ago by Larry Williams.

hivalclose is hival([close],22).  <<<<<The high closing price in that last 22 periods

vixfix is (((hivalclose-[low])/hivalclose)*100)+50. <<<(highest closing price in last 22 periods minus current period low) divided by highest closing price in last 22 periods (then multiplied by 100 and 50 added to arrive at vixfix value)

vixfixaverage is Expavg(vixfix,3). <<< 3-period exponential average of vixfix

vixfixaverageave is Expavg(vixfixaverage,7). <<<7-period exponential average of vixfixaverage

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented represents the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.

The Ultimate Ugly Contrarian Play

They always say you should buy when there is “blood in the street.”  They also say, “buy them when nobody wants them.”  So, let’s consider today what could be the most unloved, bombed out, everybody hates it “thing” in the world – coal.

Ugh, just the mention of the word coal elicits a recoiling response.  “Dirty energy!”  “Climate change inducing filth!” “Ban coal!”.  And so and so forth.  And maybe they have a point.  But “they” also say “facts are stubborn things” (OK, for the record, I think it’s a different “they” who says that but never mind about that right now).

So here is a stubborn fact: coal supplies about a quarter of the world’s primary energy and two-fifths of its electricity.  As I write, two of the fastest growing economies (at least they were as of a few months ago) – China and India – are not only heavily reliant upon coal for energy, but are still building more and more coal-fired plants.  Now I am making no comment on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing but the point is, it most definitely is a “thing.”

So however one feels about coal, the reality is that it is not going to go away anytime soon.  Does this mean it will “soar in value” anytime soon – or even ever for that matter?  Not necessarily.  But as an unloved commodity it’s sure is hard to beat coal.  And as “they” (they sure are a bunch of know it all’s they?) say, “opportunity is where you find it.” 

Ticker KOL is an ETF that invests in coal industry related companies.  And what a dog it has been.  Figure 1 displays a monthly chart of price action.  Since peaking in June 2008 at $60.80 a share, it now stands at a measly $6.29 a share, a cool -89.6% below its peak.  And like a lot of things it has been in a freefall of late.

Figure 1 – Ticker KOL Monthly chart (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

So, is this a great time to buy KOL?  That’s not for me to say.  But for argument’s sake, Figure 2 displays a weekly chart of KOL with an indicator I call Vixfixaverageave (I know, I know), which is a version of an indicator developed a number of years ago by Larry Williams (Indicator code is at the end of the article).

Figure 2 – KOL weekly chart with Vixfixaverageave indicator (Courtesy AIQ TradingExpert)

Note that Vixfixaverageave is presently above 90 on the weekly chart.  This level has been reached twice before – once in 2008 and once in 2016.  Following these two previous instances, once the indicator actually peaked and ticked lower for one week, KOL enjoyed some pretty spectacular moves. 

To wit:

*Following the 12/19/08 Vixfixaverageave peak and reversal KOL advanced +252% over the next 27.5 months

*Following the 2/19/16 Vixfixaverageave peak and reversal KOL advanced +182% over the next 23.5 months

When will Vixfixaverageave peak and reverse on the weekly KOL chart?  There is no way to know.  One must just wait for it to happen.  And will it be time to buy KOL when this happens?  Again, that is not for me to say.  None of this is meant to imply that the bottom for KOL is an hand nor that a massive rally is imminent.

Still, if there is anything at all to contrarian investing, its hard to envision anything more contrarian that KOL.

Vixfixaverageave Calculations

hivalclose is hival([close],22).  <<<<<The high closing price in that last 22 periods

vixfix is (((hivalclose-[low])/hivalclose)*100)+50. <<<(highest closing price in last 22 periods minus current period low) divided by highest closing price in last 22 periods (then multiplied by 100 and 50 added to arrive at vixfix value)

vixfixaverage is Expavg(vixfix,3). <<< 3-period exponential average of vixfix

vixfixaverageave is Expavg(vixfixaverage,7). <<<7-period exponential average of vixfixaverage

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented does not represent the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.