Much has been made of the upside technical breakout experienced by the US Dollar last week, but when I dissect the components of USD strength, I found that much of the breakout was attributable to Yen weakness. In fact, the other components of USD are all testing support, which suggests that the euro and commodities are poised to rally here.
At first glance, the USD breakout looks impressive, especially on the weekly chart:
(click to enlarge)
Now consider how weak the JPYUSD has been:
Now consider the EURUSD rate, which is testing technical support:
The commodity weakness story is well known. Disappointment over Chinese growth has been a principal driver, but the flip side of that coin has been USD strength. The commodity sensitive Aussie Dollar is also testing a key technical support zone:
So is its cousin, the Canadian Dollar.
One of the things I really hate about the current Wall Street environment is how so many people have been fooled into thinking that commodities are a necessary part of your asset allocation. I've been pretty hard on commodities over the years (see this detailed piece here). I think it's mostly just a ruse to sell another group of products and I think it's really dangerous. But even worse, I just think betting on commodities is fundamentally flawed thinking. Not only are you speculating in a zero sum game involving production-less input costs, but you're directly betting against human ingenuity. I don't like either of those bets.
If one actually takes a look at the long-term real returns of commodities you realize they're actually quite dreadful. Even if we cherry pick a decent period that includes a big boom like the last 20 years we still see pretty
Five years into the biggest money-printing exercise of all time, and commodities are (incredibly) approaching the status of being universally loathed. On Friday, gold provided a great illustration of one reason I always say that investors should have a position in diversified commodity indices. A Goldman Sachs report released a couple of days ago (with gold 20% off the highs) suggested that prices may have further to fall; more important to Friday's rout, though, was the increase in the European assessment of how much more money Cyprus will have to raise for itself (€6 billion, or about 35-40% of annual Cypriot GDP) to complete the bailout, and the speculation that Cypriot gold reserves will have to be sold.
Add to this the fact that Friday's economic data was weak with ex-Auto Retail Sales -0.4% and the Michigan Confidence figure showing a surprising drop. Clearly, investors believe this to