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On FX and Notes from D.C.

Reposted from Bruce Krasting’s blog with his permission.

Three weeks ago (Link) I put on a short EURUSD position at 1.3115. It worked for a few hours, and then went south. I sucked wind and damn near got to where I had to cut it at a loss. Today the market got back to where I entered, so I dumped it. While I was at it, I cut half of my long USDYEN position that I’ve had on since the mid 77s. So I took a few bucks off the table.

This was a gutless decision as I am still a believer in the short side of the Euro. But I’m worried about event risk the next few days as the Greek deal goes to completion or disaster. My current thinking is that the deal gets inked, but it doesn’t matter, because the country will go bust by June.

I hope to reload a short Euro position at a better level. The market Gods don’t look kindly on that type of thinking; to punish me for being a wuss, the EURUSD could just as easily make a beeline for 1.25.

Folks have asked me about where I set stops. The answer is I don’t leave stops. They result in bad fills. I do set mental levels where I will take a gain or a loss and I almost always execute my original plans.

I try to play FX with a goal of making 5% or losing 2%. I try to ride winners; I’m good about taking losses. This is a winning strategy in a trending market. It’s a cold loser when markets trade sidewise. The hard part is to be disciplined and stay out of the markets when there is no action.

I’m not going to report on my FX trades any longer. When and if I have something to say about the FX market, I’ll write about it. You can assume that I’m talking my book.

Out of D.C. Today

#1 Smoot-Hawley Redo

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is obligated to review and “score” the financial consequences of any proposed legislation. It came out with a report on H.R. 4105. The title page of the Bill:

This legislation is about tariffs on China. The CBO concluded that the US Treasury will collect $160 billion over the next ten years if the law is passed. That may sound good to some; I see it as a disaster in the making. If H.R. 4105 passes, it will cost the country Trillions. The history books say that is so.

H.R. 4105 “Applies the duty provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930.” The 1930 legislation that H.R. 4105 is relying on has a different name in the history books. It is called the Smoot-Hawley legislation. It was the dumbest legislation that could have been passed. It insured that America would remain stuck in a depression for another four years.

Smoot-Hawley worked as intended. From 1930 to 1934 imports fell by 65%. But damn near every trading partner, including England and Canada, retaliated by putting up their own tariffs. The depression spun around the globe as a result.

This time around will be no different. China will retaliate. Too bad the guys in D.C. don’t read history books.

#2 Stupid Proposal

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) decided to try to get Edward DeMarco, the Acting Director of FHFA fired:

The CPC has a point. Edward DeMarco is preventing Fannie and Freddie (F/F) from intering into massive write-downs of mortgages. If it were not for DeMarco, Obama would have done this a year ago.

Fannie and Freddie are sitting on (at least) three million underwater mortgages. Assuming the average size is $250k,  and being under water by 30%, the cost of the write-downs would be $250 billion. That’s massive. But we spent $900b on the banks, the Iraq – Afghanistan wars have cost $1.5 Trillion, spending of Social Security will top $700B this year. The one time charge on ~60% of all underwater mortgages is not so big compared to those other numbers.

But where is the “fairness” in this proposal? The $250b is just more borrowed money. This plan passes the buck to the next generation when the debt comes due. What about the 40% who don’t have a mortgage with F/F? What about renters?  Have they no rights at all?

The CPC will fail. DeMarco is sticking around until December. But if Obama wins big, and the Senate turns a deeper Blue, then DeMarco will be sacked. A “more friendly” Director of the FHFA will be installed.

This is an emotive topic. I’m interested in your thoughts. So are the “watchers” in D.C.

#3 Crony Capitalism

These charts shows where the $24B of federal subsidies to energy projects went in 2011 and comparisons over the past 35 years:

With his focus on alternative energy,Obama has ramped this number up to levels not seen before.

This strategy is a payoff to environmentalists. Obama will tout his spending record this fall. This is a “positive” message; and will probably get him votes.

The flip side is that many of the alternative energy investments are connected to characters that are having swell parties to raise money for O. Think Solyndra.

When Obama does play the “I’m green” card, the Republican PACs will have a field day. The ads won’t stop. We might see the “ugliest” election in history.


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