Yen for Emerging Markets

One of the things I do is “fool around” with various charts. Putting different things on the same graph to see if any correlation shows.

I’ve found a variety of them. Some more persistent than others. A couple of years ago there was an interesting inverse of Japanese Yen and some stock trades. The “Tell” was what looked like “settlement” of trade money flowing to / from Yen. As though some large Whale was using Yen. At that time, the Yen was way lower interest rate than anything else, so it was used for the “Carry Trade”.

In the carry trade, a major stock house borrows money at ‘as near nothing as it can get’ and invests it. Making profit on the difference between the cost of the money (nearly zero) and the return on the investment. Think of things like Oil REITS yielding 10% with asset appreciation in the oil… Or a drug company with a 4% dividend and growth. Nice.

But sometimes it looked like it wasn’t just Carry Trade, but perhaps High Frequency Trading.

Then The Fed cut US rates to nearly nothing and the relationship softened. As though some of the carry trade had packed it in and moved to $US loans of Carry Trade money and Treasuries as a parking place.

Now it looks like some of that Yen trade may be back. Especially of interest is how the higher volatility of Emerging Markets looks to have “called the ball” on the rollover first, and the Yen confirms nicely.

Here is a static chart as of today, with several stock ETF tickers on it along with TLT 20+ year treasuries ETF. This is a very large chart so click on it to get a much more readable version.

Yen vs TLT and Stocks 6 mo daily  16 May 2012

Yen vs TLT and Stocks 6 mo daily 16 May 2012

I find this chart interesting. Perhaps useful as well…

First off, notice that Yen and TLT tend to trade together, but with TLT being more volatile. So one quick idea is a “reversion to the mean” trade that buys TLT when below Yen or at the Yen line, then sells it for Yen when too far above and a Reversion To The Mean is likely. In the last two months that relationship breaks down a bit as TLT rises well away from Yen. Does that mean TLT and long duration bonds are “at risk” of a drop right now? Time will tell.

While stocks are rising in a fairly strong trend, both bonds and Yen drop. February and March. But Yen seems to have a bit of a lag to stocks at the start. TLT drops from a peak mid-Dec to a valley toward late January while Yen is mostly just wobbling.

Looking at various Emerging Market tickers (EEM, FXI China, EWZ Brazil) we see them ‘rolling off’ first. Weakness shows up first in the most risky tickers, last in the least risky / most cherished. So those bright yellow, orange red, and raspberry red lines; they start dropping in the start of March. SPY and other US Stocks hang on until April 1 to begin their drop.

During the ‘run up’ they are above the blue SPY line. (As are the RUT Russel 2000 and QQQQ Nasdaq 100). At the “failure to advance” point in US markets, the green RUT line cuts through the blue SPY to run below it. At the same time, the black TLT line “cuts up” and away from the Yen. Slightly before that “roll off” the Yen has a MACD crossover to positive (buy Yen) and DMI goes to “blue on top” – buy Yen. So “buy Yen, sell US Stocks” seems to be the relationship (with Emerging Market stocks moving first).

Right now, MACD looks to be making a crossover to “Red on top” and DMI has red rising and blue dropping, as though a crossover is due soon.

Does this imply the present stock run to the downside is going to “pause” and perhaps give us a couple of days of recovery? It ought to have a reversion to the trend bounce back to the middle of the SMA stack “soon”, but ‘when’ can be a bit variable. Still, the implication is “A bit late to short more, and a jump possible, which may then be evaluated for a fresh short”. Will the Yen indicators call that point first?

There is also an implication that WHEN we see the emerging markets start to rise toward the SPY / RUT; that may happen a bit before the US market bottoms and turns. (Though that is speculative. It may be that emerging markets lead down and lag up… we’ll need to “dig here” a bit more to sort that one out…)

What is clear is that there is a timing relationship here. “Risk Appetite” fades first in the more risky instruments. Bonds had already had a ‘failure to advance to the downside” at that May 1st date and the Yen had been rising for a week before SPY, RUT, and QQQQ rolled over and died. (Perhaps on the strength of that money leaving Emerging Markets?).

At any rate, it looks like the Yen has returned as an indication of Whales moving money and it looks like sorting markets by risk lets you spot a “risk on” vs “risk off” transition early for some classes of ETF (with less risk lagging more risk).

Here’s a live chart for watching for a few days to see if the relationships hold:

Yen and Emerging Markets vs US Stock ETFs and TLT bond fund

Yen and Emerging Markets vs US Stock ETFs and TLT bond fund

I’d noticed something a lot like this a couple of years back, but this example is even stronger. Realize that if such a “tell” is widely watched, folks change their behaviour such that it tends to stop working; so this may work for “a while” and then break down again. No indicators are forever and no process is permanent… so “use but verify” any indicator… and let the ‘stop loss order’ be your friend. ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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15 Responses to Yen for Emerging Markets

  1. adolfogiurfa says:

    Talking about speculation and speculators: It´s completely OK for them making all the money they possible can get….the problems begin when some of them start thinking they are “winners” and the best of the best, so they start thinking they can improve our lives and, in order to do that, they buy politicians and scientists. That´s the part that should be forbidden: Anyone making a lot of money should be forbidden of doing anything else, like meddling in other peoples´life: Remember lucky kids: WE LIKE SMOKING, WE LOVE EATING TRASH FOOD, WE DO NOT WANT GAY MARRIAGES, WE DO NOT WANT OUR WOMEN TO ABORT, etc.,etc,…..BTW we also LOVE CO2, and we do not want to be GREEN! , ENTIENDE?
    Ugly things will happen to you if you do not hear our complaints and act accordingly: You know what.

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Somehow I don’t see the connection to Yen and Brazilian Stocks… but then again, I’m not a Latin…

    Was it something I said? ;-)

    (BTW, I don’t like smoking; though think it is your right to do so if you wish.
    I really like natural whole foods cooked fresh at home, Twinkies not so much…
    I don’t want governments decided who ought to marry whom in any case; nor forcing anyone to perform services; yet think that if the Church Of The Holy Knit Sock wants to marry a “boy and his dog” or “three women and a very tired guy”, no skin off my nose. Also, IMHO, to abort or not ought to be entirely an issue between a woman and her doctor, God optional if she so believes, and no “guy” need be involved – so there is no “OUR women”… only “themselves”… Either SHE owns HER body or we are all slaves to another. Do love CO2 though ;-) But realize that there may be a bit more diversity here than expected… )

    So does anyone have any feelings about yen v.s. stock price movements? Or will every posting be a vehicle for political discussions? (Not complaining, just taking the temperature ;-) If the latter, I can just end each posting with “And what do you think about gay marriage, abortion, God in the classroom, evolution, and the war on drugs?” … 8-0 ;-)

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    It is good blog etiquette to at least mention the thread post to prove you read it. 8-) pg

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Well IF I was managing large amounts of wealth, I would be moving out of gold and bonds. Gold is a poor wealth creator as it produces no returns except appreciation, that is over. Bonds that are flaky or low interest producers now have the same problem. As SHTF the American stock market and the dollar are the last place that can produce safe investment income. Whale “investors” need cheap, safe, money as they move wealth around. So I see gold and bonds sold down. American stocks look to me to be the next balloon after a blow off. pg

  5. Sera says:

    @ Adolfo:

    There is nothing wrong with smoking gay trash eating women- everybody needs lovin’.

    One thing that astonishes me is why would some people buy small stocks of gold for safety when planning for an ‘end of days’ scenario. If the economy breaks down, as in Greece, won’t people resort to barter? What will gold be worth compared to food and water, and how is gold an asset during economic disaster?

  6. Mike Churchill says:

    E.M., almost all I know about practical investing is what I have learned from reading your blog for the last year or two. (For which I thank you.) Being economically literate but having no funds to invest, I pay attention to what’s generally going on in the markets but have never followed them really closely outside of your postings. With that set up, and tangentially related to this post (and more related to some daydreaming while driving and p.g.’s comment above), given the likelihood that our dear Fed is going to bugger the dollar severely in the next couple of years, what basic advice would you give to the next luck lottery winner whose ticket is “worth” say $1 million per year for 26 years or about 40% of that as a lump sum?

    As a middle-aged guy with no investment experience who doesn’t care about being “rich,” taking the money over time looks like the safe way to live a damn comfortable life so long as one doesn’t expect the California Lottery Commission (or its annuity provider) to go belly up and doesn’t expect true hyper inflation to occur. Looking at the stock market and your posts, I see a lot of ways to lose a big chunk of $10 million in the next couple of years if one takes the lump sum. On the other hand, one could take the lump and start buying assets, but which ones would you buy to provide both a secure store of value and a reliable income?

    Or is your lesson that there is no reliable “fire and forget” strategy and that the lucky lottery winner better educate him or herself into a sophisticated investor ASAP? (I assume you would not recommend placing blind [or even merely “unsophisticated”] trust in a professional money manager.)

  7. Pascvaks says:

    Imagine the BIGGEST, and many little traders, all try to find such “tricks-that-work”, and the successful ones know it doesn’t last long (though it might be useful to keep in their bag of tricks for future use or variation;-)

    A thought about Whales, can a whale be too big for the market, and if so, are there limits in place that protect the market from BIG WHALES? I can imagine some pretty BIG WHALES, the biggest on the planet –to me– right now is China, then there is the STUPID BIG (aka USofA) and the FLOPPING BIG (aka EU), working down the list I guess there are THE little BIGS, then farther down JPMorgan&Co, etc. Perhaps a misguided concern, if you were the BIGGEST WHALE on the planet would you be throwing your weight around and getting “yens for emerging markets” and doing things that disrupted STUPID and FLOPPING WHALES (if they weren’t already doing enough to screw themselves and their people)?

    @Adolfo –
    “..the problems begin when some of them start thinking they are “winners” and the best of the best, so they start thinking they can improve our lives..”
    Aren’t most of these the rare few with the guilty conscience who want to make amends for their sins? I have a feeling this is more an old popular myth than a reality. Would think most couldn’t care less about the political or social plight of others and would keep doing what made them who they are. Beware of a rich person; and, if you find one with guilty conscience, relax and enjoy the moment;-)

    @PG@Sera –
    Isn’t ‘gold’ supposed to be hidden in walls, mattresses, basements, and holes in the back yard? But when it comes to barter, I’m sure that someone will gladly take everything you have to offer and give you anything they have to offer for ‘gold’ -something about the color of it makes everyone an opptomist. But, if the situation is truly dire, of course you’re right; folks won’t barter for gold –but they will follow it into the night and dark shadows and kill for it.

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Pascvaks; very true about the list for gold. That is why I prefer things and services that people actually need. However people hate to pay for things they need but will pay anything for things they want. pg

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm….. BOTH Yen and Gold made big spikes up today.

    Sure looking like the place “Somebody” (or ‘some bodies’) are putting things when the rake the cash off the table. So ought to move counter to the “it” they are trading.


    In an actual crisis I’d rather have 400 lbs of beans, rice, and oatmeal in a closet than 10 ounces of gold. The first one will feed me for over a year. The second one will make nice ‘trinkets’ for the person who finds my dead dry bones near the empty refrigerator ;-)

    But having a few $Thousand worth of “bug out money” is always nice. Easier in “marginal” conditions to trade a few ounces for ship passage than try that with 200 lbs of rice…

    It’s not an ‘either or’ in my humble opinion.


    It doesn’t take much to be a large enough Whale to move a market. I have moved a ticker. It was a thinly traded property company in Florida. I saw the Market Maker playing games a little. I’d put in a ‘buy at price’ limit order, and he would move bid / asked away from that price, to try to induce buying higher with a ‘market’ order as I’d get frustrated waiting for a fill.

    So, I put in a larger SELL order just above his bid price and took off my buy order. If he moved up, I’d dump some stock on him…. He promptly move prices down from that order. I put in a ‘cancel’ on that order and at the same time a ‘buy at market’ and got my stock at a slightly lower price than I’d originally wanted ;-)

    He then blew his spread WAY out. Buy VERY low, sell VERY high. Big gap in between. He’d figured out that I’d “played him” and was pissed ;-)

    But if he had not been trying to play me, I’d have not bothered… so IMHO he simply got what he deserved.

    Now that was about a $3000 trade.

    What do you think would happen if I had $3,000,000 to put into that stock?

    For a very long time, the major roll of the Floor Broker and Market Maker was to assure that such effects were moderated and prices were more fair and stable during the trading day. If a buy order comes in ‘at market’ at 10 am and a sell order at 10:12 am the price ought not to move much between those two if no other orders happened.

    What has happened lately is that a variety of Whales have swapped from investing (where you want that stability as you ‘scale in’ your $Millions) to various kinds of trading (where you want to exploit that kind of instability…)

    In essence, when Hedge Funds were a fractional percentage of the market, it didn’t matter. Now that computer driven trades are about 3/4 of all trades; the odds are very high that the Hedge Funds and Whales are doing “Fire for effect”. IMHO that can be seen dramatically at market tops where a giant down day happens on large short selling. It is called a “Classical Bear Raid”. The “uptick rule” was created to dampen it. The removal of the uptick rule lets Fat Wallets drive any stock price down dramatically and create a panic where there was none.

    Looking at price and volume action in “hot stocks” vs backwaters, it is also quite clear that those “in the news” move differently from the ignored tickers. You can just SEE the Whales “playing” the larger tickers. The rise of ETFs has made it even easier. So they buy a chunk of “short SPY” and a bunch of thin S&P 500 stocks drop more than most as those baskets of sells hit. EVEN if the company is doing great and has great earnings. It’s in the basket, it gets abnormal selling pressure.

    Yes, there is a hierarchy of Whales. Sometimes you can even watch them fighting each other. As one tries to drive down a given ticker and another is ‘buying it cheap’. At tops, it is, IMHO, Hedge Funds and Bear Raiders that drive things into a crash with short sells. At bottoms, it is the Value Fund that starts doing value investing and props things up. In the middle, it is Investment Banks like G.S. issuing “buy” and “sell” recommendations to drum up a herd and drive it toward the desired effect.

    I see my job as spotting when each group acts, and what effect it has, so as to better choose how to avoid being trampled.. Now a Really Big Whale doesn’t really care if yen bobbles a little bit or even if it moves gold when it sells a few tons. Look at the Dead Cat Bounce. On any heavily shorted stock, when they start to cover, price will bounce up several percent. The shorts just keep ‘buying to cover’. They are too big to NOT move the price, so just accept that “slippage”. (Likely they have already bought call options that are making offsetting gains on that price rise. If you KNOW you are going to make the price rise with the “buy to close” the short position, it would be crazy NOT to buy calls first…)

    Every so often you get a couple of Whales talking in public about being on opposite sides of trades. Not often, but sometimes. Occasionally one will crow over trashing the other one.

    My job is to avoid being underfoot then…

    At any rate, IMHO, the market is widely and strongly moved by The Dance Of The Whales. It is NOT an ‘efficient market’ and the prices are not “equilibrium” prices. It is driven by fad, and by what a Whale can do to make it move.

    But as noted, it’s the only game in town ;-)

    @Mike Churchill:

    Glad you find it useful!

    I would always take the lump sum. Payments over time are “discounted” at rates far lower than I could earn with investments.

    For The Average Joe, they ought to buy 2 tickers. SPY and TLT (or shorter duration bonds). That makes a natural hedge and dampens a lot of the business / Fed cycling. As they learn more, they can diversify a bit more. As they learn to do major market swing identification, they can add 10% “Metals and related”, 10% REITS and real estate, and 10% “Emerging Markets”.

    There can never be ‘blind trust’ in anyone. It is simply imperative have some kind of “trust but verify”. And it isn’t all that hard. Look at this chart:

    Plot a line 1/2 way between SPY and TLT (S&P 500 stocks and 20 year treasuries). Notice that it has SOME wobble but mostly just goes up?

    Now look at SPY. Look at RSI. Buy when RSI at 20. Hold as long as MACD is above zero. Sell when MACD drops below zero.

    That took what, a minute?

    Now you are “set for life”. You’re welcome ;-)

    After that, you can work on timing entrance / exit from each of the little wobbles along the way. And adding other tickers.

    So no, there is no “Fire and Forget”. One simply MUST ‘watch and adapt’. But one can watch 2 to 4 things instead of 1000 and one can ‘adapt’ every year or two instead of every day…


    In any collapse, folks help each other. They form support groups with the neighbors. I intend to set up “Smith’s Kitchen” and share my beans and rice. Others will have gardens with greens, or a stock of ketchup, or whatever. We have an annual “Block Party” 4th of July pot-luck. Same thing will happen then.

    Somebody brings an ounce of gold to the party, they will be told “Hang onto that for later and grab a plate. You do get to wash the dishes, though ;-)

    During on large power outage I tossed a long drop cord to the neighbor so they could share the generator. IFF the can of gas had run out, he was to siphon a gallon from his truck. Didn’t get to that point though (but kept his freezer frozen…)

    I think that model is more accurate than the End Of Days Roving Bands Of Scavengers model. And I think showing up at the Beans & Rice feed with a large jug of Tobasco and Soysauce or some hotdogs and ketchup would be more effective than gold. Heck, just wheeling over the propane BBQ with full tank will likely get all the food you want…

    OTOH, if you want to get 5 gallons of gas from the station during a collapse, having a couple of sliver rounds would likely be more useful than a bit of paper money… and way more useful than a plastic credit card when the power is out.

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    The market will do what it does. “Expecting at” it doesn’t do much…

    With that said, I’d expect an inflationary effect to be like what we’ve seen before. Stocks wobble flat, mostly. (See the late ’60s / early ’70s ) and “stuff” goes up. Metals, land, stones, paintings, collectibles, etc. Stocks with inflation protection (like gold miners and oil REITS) hold up better. Stocks with inflation “aw shits” drop. (So things like Mortgage REITS with a lot of mortgage value being inflated away…)

    BUT, we’re not in inflation yet. We’re stuck in no man’s land. Pushing ‘liquidity’ like crazy, but the economy not ‘taking off’. IFF it ever takes off, we have inflation. BUT, iff it continues to wallow with job losses, we’re just holding deflation away during ongoing recession. Pushing more liquidity will prop up some asset classes (as the liquidity runs into them), but not inflation (as the offsetting unemployment sits as its own ‘dead hand’ on prices). See “the lost decade” in Japan. Interest rates near 1/4 percent and economy just wallows along. Stocks dropped from 44,000 to about 11,000 on the Nikkei average and just laid there for a decade.

    Basically, you can let the economy adapt, or you can do financial games that mostly screw it up or at best lock you into a dead hand economic stagnation.

    So IMHO it is better to ‘be engaged’ and find what is doing well rather than try to figure out what will be the fad in advance; or worse, try to find a ‘buy and forget’ investment.

    I’ve lived through a few business cycles and a couple of “real estate crashes” (remember the S&L Crisis of the ’70s anyone?…) and they all tell me one thing. “Moving and adapting” is better than “standing still and getting run over”.

    Don’t like that? Want to be lazy and not pay attention to that boring money stuff? Well, the market doesn’t care, but it will gladly take your money and let you have a nice nap…

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. In an actual crisis I’d rather have 400 lbs of beans, rice, and oatmeal in a closet than 10 ounces of gold….
    However, both would be better :-)

    Economy heterodoxy never worked and it will never work. Goods, like your beans, rice, and oatmeal…, and why not beer and whiskey and gold too, are REAL, paper is not.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Sure looks to me like somebody started shorting the market about 3 or 4 days ago and those sells are “settling” so the money is showing up in their accounts. At that time, the $US are converting into Yen and some being turned into Gold. Also on a metals chart both Platinum and Palladium shot up (silver too) while copper, tin and other base metals just laid there (so not just some ‘inflation’ effect).

    OK, the “trade” that I think is going on here is Some Whale (or a set of whales using an algorithmic method – some common CBT Computer Based Trading system) is trading broad market averages (most likely because that’s the only way they can get enough volume) in Yen terms (as it is ‘carry trade’ friendly) and putting their “profits” in gold when shorting (knowing that panic drives gold up).

    They started the trade on MACD cross to below zero on the SPY chart.

    To the extent that is true, we can expect this trade to continue for a while.

    On the 10 day hourly chart, MACD had crossover to ‘red on top’ Friday late. Monday opened down hard. So the actual trade entry may have been “set up” on the 1 year Daily chart as “time is soon” but with the actually ‘Press the shorts” happening timed on the 10 D Hr chart for maximum effect.

    shows it pretty nicely. Count back 3 days from the Yen / Gold spike up and we find a SPY gap down after a crossover late Friday on the start of a drop. It looks like TLT the bonds start to move even earlier. Perhaps the first funds go to bond positions and then later settlement goes into Yen and GLD?

    I’d guess the actual sell orders might have started in overseas markets or in options / futures markets prior to actual stock market open. Wonder if the futures market has any online trade and volume information….

    OK, so that becomes the “chart to watch” for a while. When is there a ‘tell’ in bonds or when does the stock market take a run up (on short covering) and then expect a few days later on “settlement” that Yen and Gold positions may need a bit of liquidation to cover.

    What’s clear is that this is NOT the time to be buying stocks. At some point that price will move back up to the middle of the SMA stack and that is a time to put on a short position (these things usually come in waves…) We can also watch for days with big down selloffs and count 3 days out. Buy GLD and FXY on day two ;-)

    Not liking this chart at all either:

    It is a 5 year chart of SPY vs Yen and Bonds.

    The curvature of each of the last three rises in SPY is compressing. We’re moving from bottom to top faster and with sharper breaks at the ends. It’s looking like a drop with little or no rise toward the SMA stack is quite possible.

    The width of the high volume spikes under the bottom ‘buy points’ is getting narrower too.

    Our “high” in this hump is only a tiny bit higher than the last one. That’s not good either.

    Looks to me like mostly down, and likely down hard, for a few months. (With sporadic wobbles upward… it is never a straight line.)

  12. R. de Haan says:

    Just another graph

  13. R. de Haan says:

    Just watched a recent documentary about entrepreneurs from Japan and Europe (UK) who transfered their production to China 10 years ago.
    Now they are movng their production lines back to Europe and Japan again.

    Why? Production costs in China are on the rise (about 8% per year) and productivity, planning, organization skills and concentration span of UK and Japanese workers is higher. (the opposite of what the main stream propaganda tells us for years).

    Intrerestingly enough both companies in the documentary produced in the market segment of shoes, cushions and clothing, one of the most ompetative branches.

    The cushions factory in the UK went into competition with it’s chinese competitor (with the same owner) and the UK factory won in terms of productivity, quality and price.

    Makes one wonder why we went to China in the first place.

    You can move some sowing machines back and forth quite easily but heavy industry….not so easy.

    The documentary concluded that bringing production back to Europe and Japan is a new trend.
    I am quite sure the same process is going on in the USA.

  14. Pascvaks says:

    From your last cmts I pick up impression that –as with the S&L’s, housing, Obamacare,etc. debacles– the Feds have screwed up the Market to favor the Whales and make high speed trades, risk, and volitility permanent and worsening facts of life. Gotta ask, when? who? why? Is this an area that, if he wins, Romney might do something to tune, fix, or is it a Joint Damnocrap/Gopper Platform Plank and won’t change anytime soon?

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