"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fed's Beige Book notes Competition for Rail Cars among Grain Growers/Users

Dow Jones is carrying a very short blurb this morning excerpting some comments from the Cleveland Fed's notes in the Beige Book citing, "concern about stress on the freight-transport system from this year's grain harvest, which is expected to be at a historic high". They also cite the Atlanta Fed which noted, "significant strengthening" in grain shipments in the Southeast.

Here is the exact line from the Fed's Beige Book which can be found on their website: This is from the Cleveland Fed:

Contacts from trucking and railroads observed that insufficient capacity is a major issue that is currently confronting the industry and that there is concern about stress on the freight-transport system from this year’s grain harvest, which is expected to be at a historic high.

And now the exact quote from the Atlanta Fed's contribution to the Beige Book:

Overall, transportation contacts reported an improvement in demand since the previous report. District railroads cited increases in total carloads, led by significant strengthening in shipments of petroleum products; grain; and military, machinery, and transportation equipment. Intermodal traffic continued to increase on a year-over-year basis. Ports in the District reported a notable increase in container traffic and substantial growth in overall cargo tonnage in September.

Essentially, the Beige Book is confirming what most in the industry are already well aware of; that this year's massive crop is going to test the capacity of our transportation system as well as our storage ability.

Incidentally, soybeans are trading higher today with the complex being led higher by the meal. That tight carryover from last year's harvest is the reason as processers scramble to secure what is left of available beans in some regions while they wait for the new crop to make its way into the pipeline. With an open harvest window apparently in the forecast for the next two weeks or so, we should see significant harvest progress which will begin to finally remedy that tightness from last year's crop. The beans are transitioning from one of tightness to one of abundance.

This is not your Daddy's Bond Market

Having been trading the bonds for many years, the recent volatility has really caught my eye. The extent of the price swings in this market has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Whenever you see a market make swings of this magnitude, know that someone is in serious trouble.

Take a look at this short term price chart and imagine the carnage being inflicted on some traders as they swing back and forth from such huge extremes.

Do you see those big volume spikes? Someone got obliterated!

Try to imagine that you are a risk manager for a large banking or mortgage interest and are attempting to institute some sort of hedges! How in the world do you even read a market that is doing this sort of thing? I can tell you that hedgers and speculators both have been run over in this market the last couple of days.

This is what I am referring to when I caution traders out there. These markets can clean you out faster than a package of Ex-Lax if you let down your guard. Either trade smaller or stay on the sidelines but do not try to play the hero right now. It is just too dangerous!

Making predictions, postulating this or prophesying that, in dogmatic terms is very foolish and speaks more to hubris than it does to sound judgment. What I do know is that the entirety of the markets is very unsettled right now with the VIX having rising sharply and with the currency markets having been thrown into turmoil. Until the currency markets calm down, be careful.

By the way, crude oil is managing to hold above $80 for now and the XLE is up today. Maybe crude has gone down enough? I don't know but am monitoring it very closely.