Sunday, April 15, 2018

Buy gold for the late cycle inflation surge?

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses the trading component of the Trend Model to look for changes in the direction of the main Trend Model signal. A bullish Trend Model signal that gets less bullish is a trading "sell" signal. Conversely, a bearish Trend Model signal that gets less bearish is a trading "buy" signal. The history of actual out-of-sample (not backtested) signals of the trading model are shown by the arrows in the chart below. The turnover rate of the trading model is high, and it has varied between 150% to 200% per month.

Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here.

The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.

Late cycle expansion = Inflationary revival
The missiles have flown, and the bombs dropped. Inflationary pressures are rising. Is this the time for gold to shine?

Notwithstanding the short-term effects of geopolitical tension, consider the longer term inflationary pressures, which are building not just in the US but globally. Ned Davis Research recently pointed out that roughly two-thirds of countries are growing above their long-term potential. Unless these countries can increase their potential through faster labor force or productivity growth, inflationary pressures begin to build, followed by central bank tightening. We could reach recessionary conditions in the next year or so.

This suggests that the economy is undergoing a late cycle expansion characterized by capacity constraints, which would lead to an inflationary revival. Gold prices are currently testing a key resistance level. Should it stage an upside breakout, who know how far they could go.

The macro bull case for gold is easy to make. Gold is an inflation hedge, and inflation momentum is rising.

J C Parets of All Star Charts highlighted a washout in the silver/gold ratio as an indicator of precious metal risk appetite. A rising silver/gold ratio would indicate that animal spirits have taken over the precious metal complex, which would be highly bullish.

Tiho Brkan pointed out that hedge funds are in a crowded short in silver futures, which is bullish for silver, and for gold by implication.

In short, sentiment models indicate that silver prices are poised for a powerful rally. The combination of rising geopolitical tensions, and possible strength in silver prices would  be highly bullish for gold and other inflation hedges.

Does that mean that investors and traders should pile into precious metals in anticipation of a late cycle inflation surge? Not so fast! There are two sides to every story, and the bull case for gold may be too facile to be true.

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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