Wall Street Unplugged
Episode: 906June 14, 2022

The Fed is holding the markets hostage

cash currency

Frank is on the road, so I (Daniel) am behind the mic to break down the extreme market volatility…

I review last Friday’s higher-than-expected Consumer Price Index (CPI) reading… the resulting selloff… how the Fed is rattling the markets… and what to expect from tomorrow’s Fed meeting (where we should expect more aggressive rate hikes).

Turning to the selloff in cryptocurrencies, I highlight what’s causing investors to panic… and two crypto bulls handling the negativity the right way.

Inside this episode:
  • The real reason behind Friday’s selloff [1:15]
  • Why extreme volatility is the new normal [5:50]
  • How to take advantage of bear market rallies [8:25]
  • What to expect from the Fed meeting tomorrow [13:15]
  • What’s causing panic in the crypto markets? [18:30]
  • Pay attention to this crypto CEO [21:40]

Wall Street Unplugged | 906

The Fed is holding the markets hostage

Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged looks beyond the regular headlines heard on mainstream financial media to bring you unscripted interviews and breaking commentary direct from Wall Street right to you on main street.

Daniel Creech: How’s it going out there? It’s Tuesday, June 14th, and you’re listening to the Wall Street Unplugged podcast. It’s great to have you here. Hello, I am your guest host, Daniel Creech, senior analyst here at Curzio Research. I’m the one that’s filling in for the one and only Frank Curzio, who normally hosts this podcast Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. He is once again on the road. I believe he’s in Orlando, or maybe even further south than Orlando, but he’ll be out, quick programming note. He’ll be out today, Tuesday, and also Wednesday. So, you wonderful listeners are stuck with me yet again, to listening to the world according Creech.

Daniel Creech: I’ll break down a few things on why you need to give a flying Florida about it, and how to navigate this goofy chaos, and don’t lose your cool, don’t panic. I know that goes without saying, that’s never a good idea, but it’s very easy to do so as we see market indexes move several percentages a day every trading day. And I want to start with last Friday, June 10th, when the Consumer Price Index came in a little hotter than expected. And this is important because… And Frank does a great job about talking about this, and we try to on Wednesdays when I join him, we try to talk about investors and sentiment, and what to look for, and kind of how to navigate and go through the emotions, and everything else.

Daniel Creech: Because you have gone from this wording and outlook from the leaders, Fed policy leaders, government policy leaders, presidents, our president, excuse me, his cabinet things. And we’ve moved away since the end of last year towards inflation being transitory to, “Oh goodness, it’s a lot higher than expected. We’re 40-year highs, now we got to stop it.” Well, the way to stop that is to raise interest rates. And what Frank has been talking about is what the market wants to see or hear.

Daniel Creech: Remember, the market is always forward-looking, and the unknown is one of the scariest things to investors. And what that leads to is when you get nervousness and unknown and goofy policies, you get asked questions later, hit the cell button right now as we’ve seen. So Friday, the Consumer Price Index came in a little hotter than expected. And this is key because what the market was hoping to see… Hope, used by Janet Yellen, a lot like I talked about last week when it comes to inflation, is not a strategy.

Daniel Creech: And as Frank has talked about, if you have at least a leveling off of inflation prices the way they calculate them, they being the government, statistics then you can at least start thinking, “Okay, prices are high. They’re going to remain high. But as long as we’ve peaked, we can look forward to the forward-looking mindset will be, “It’s going to get better from here.”

Daniel Creech: It’s exhausting to know that the market pullback across indices, the NASDAQ down over 30%, the S&P 500 is now in “bear market,” which is a great headline to sell down over 20%, and many stocks moving well over 40% lower. If you just had the notion that, “Okay, it’s going to get better from here,” you would see a slight bounce, but that wasn’t the case. And the inflation numbers weren’t drastically higher than expectations. They were about a 10th of 1%. I think it came in at 8.7 versus 8.6 year-over-year, or 8.6 versus 8.5.

Daniel Creech: And not the details don’t matter, but in the example I want to make and I want to talk about is that it was just remained elevated, it was still higher. So now, we have to wait further months into different readings about, “Hey, inflation.” We have to listen to the Fed meetings this week, which this is going right along here because Friday, you have a huge market sell-off because of the hotter inflation numbers. You have a great weekend, hopefully, after a Friday like that. Monday comes, and now the Wall Street Journal and everybody else is talking about how since inflation is so high, you’re going to have to have the Fed, which has its meeting tomorrow.

Daniel Creech: Again, you’ll have me as a guest tomorrow. They are going to anticipate that they’ve already forecasted or shadowed that they’re going to raise 50 basis points this week and 50 basis points next month during their meeting. Well, after the hot reading on Friday and the market downturn, the Wall Street Journal, I believe JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are both expecting now a 75 basis point hike tomorrow instead of 50. And if that seems odd to you, and that is an increase. What that signals is, in reality, it’s raising from 0.5 to 0.75 in one meeting.

Daniel Creech: No. That’s obviously going to have an impact. Nobody’s sugar coating that. The interesting thing is that that notion triggered a market move of 4% in the S&P 500 yesterday and worse than that in the NASDAQ. I think I read a stat something like week-over-week from yesterday, Monday to the previous Monday, I think the S&P is down 10% give or take. That’s a massive move in a week. And now, you have as the individual investor, me included, you look at that and say, “Okay, what is that signal that the Fed may have to go from 0.5 half of a percent to three quarters of a percent?”

Daniel Creech: And the impact that had wiping out 4% across the markets, is that justifiable? Well, it’s our reality, so it really doesn’t matter. But if it doesn’t make sense, if you think it’s ridiculous you’re absolutely correct, it is. But how do you get here? How do you get in a situation where you have ridiculous as the norm? Well, you have policies and you have something, and I’ve alluded to this over several podcasts over time, we basically have policies between the Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. And that’s how you get when you have excess money, and everybody’s to blame here in politics, don’t get me wrong.

Daniel Creech: But when you have such loose monetary policies, flooding the system, and then that increased dramatically during the COVID lockdowns, now you have inflation, and the only way to do that is to get interest rates up. And everybody’s just coming around to that. Well, you have so much sloshing around that, you’re going to have violent, violent volatility like we’ve been seeing. I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here, but you need to prepare and continue for these moves like this.

Daniel Creech: At some point, it will reverse, but obviously, inflation has not peaked just yet, and you need the mindset of sustained and higher inflation going forward. And just to show you how markets can react in just on any positive or less than bad news, fast forward to today Tuesday, the Producer Price Index came out. And again, I don’t want to get too caught up in numbers. I know those are kind of hard to follow on audio. Once I get on video when I’m doing solo, it’ll be much easier to follow, but the core Producer Price Index moved higher by 0.5% and that was versus a 0.6 expected. So, the headline can read, “Hey, this is better than expected.” And that in addition to yesterday’s huge market sell-off, futures bounced a little bit today.

Daniel Creech: Now, before the open programming note, you know we do these earlier in the morning to try to be timely and get them turned around, and published in the evening. The downside for me filling in here is that we’re talking about the past now, the expectations for tomorrow’s rate hike, and yet, I’ll have to record tomorrow morning before the Fed… I believe at two o’clock or 2:30 in the afternoon, makes their announcement. So, we’re going to be shooting in the dark here just a little bit, but we’ll get through it just fine because the macro sense stays the same.

Daniel Creech: And then, the May PPI. So, you have core PPI, just like you have core that strips out food and energy on the Consumer Price Index, going back and forth here. The point was is that that came in slightly higher, and then the May PPI of 0.8 was in line with expectations of 0.8. That is good news. And you got a little bit of relief rally. Going forward here for at least the next several months, if you have these rallies in the stock market, I know Fridays… And last Friday and Monday were awful, so I’m not sugar coating. We’ve stopped out of a few things in our portfolios just this week. It’s painful. I have holdings that are down. I’ve talked about Galaxy Digital. I’m going to get to crypto here in just a minute on its continued sell-off.

Daniel Creech: But any rallies that you see in the stock market of a few percent stretched out over days or whatever, that’s when you want to look to lighten up on things that aren’t set up for the next several months to several years as the paradigm shift from the Fed has happened. And what I mean by that is, I don’t care what you have: Tech, bonds, alternative assets, gold, silver, reevaluate everything and kind of start over from scratch and say, “Hey, during the last 10 years or so, just to round off, we’ve had easy money policies, low interest rates.” That is now changed, and the Fed is going to increase rates at least by 50 basis points, maybe 75. There’s rumors out there about a percent this week. Who knows what they’re going to signal in their comments for next month.

Daniel Creech: That’s all going to cause massive volatility. The easiest path is for market indices to continue lower, but you will have sectors that do well. We’ve talked about energy. You will have bear market rallies. That’s when you want to reevaluate and starting to lighten up or get out of those positions that you don’t feel comfortable withholding for whatever your timeframe is. One year, five years, 10 years or longer, depending on your age, depending on your needs.

Daniel Creech: I point this out because that is the new normal, and that is the complete reversal from what everybody has been used to for so long, this buy the dip mentality worked because of Fed policies. Now that has changed, and until that’s changed in reality with them taking action and raising rates. And until they stop that and start quantitative easing again, either pausing and holding rates where they are or cutting rates and starting to increase liquidity, starting to print more money, buy bonds and all that kind of stuff that they’ve been doing. Until they signal that or actually do that, that’s the only thing that matters from a macro standpoint. And that is why you want to focus on great operating companies.

Daniel Creech: And it is now time to be boring. It’s been time to be boring, but it’s getting more clear by the day. And I’ll get into this more tomorrow since I have the luxury and the benefit of doing this back to back days. I’ll point out a few things, and I’ll give this away like Target and FedEx. There’s been some negative headlines around shipping and cost, and Target warning and things, but recent actions have made significant dividend increases.

Daniel Creech: Now that’s not going to get you rich overnight, but it’s something to look at from an investor standpoint when you know the environment is going to be choppy and difficult as far as investing and making money, you want to focus on great operating companies with great management teams that can afford and will reward shareholders. Because that will attract a lot of money going forward as everybody else comes to the conclusion and the awareness that the buy the dip mentality that we’re used to, the old way, this time is different because you have a fundamental difference in interest rates rising and things like that.

Daniel Creech: That’ll ripple across many different sectors, but again, energy is still performing well. Yet, what happened on Monday and energy stocks? Well, it got thrown out. The baby got thrown out with the bathwater because when you have market indices moving down 4%, you’re going to have damn near everything. In fact, I saw a great headline, great tongue-in-cheek headline just to point out how wild things are. At one point yesterday on Monday the 13th, there was headlines that every stock in the S&P 500 was trading lower at one point.

Daniel Creech: Now, I’m not saying they all closed lower. I’m sure out of 500 or whatever the hell there is, it’s not as simple as the name. It’s like the Big Ten Conference in football. There’s not 10 teams. I don’t think every single company closed down, but at one point during the day, everything was trading lower, meaning a sea of red. That’s just a washout. And unless you have protection and puts or short, you’re not going to sidestep that.

Daniel Creech: But that’s okay in the sense of when you know what you own, when you own great operating businesses and such like that, I’ll get into it a little bit more tomorrow with like I said, the dividend raises and what to look for and some characteristics. But I continue to like even though I’m down personally, I continue to like the Berkshire Hathaway just because that’s the most big boring stock that I believe is set up for inflationary times through hard assets, pricing power, cash flows, et cetera, et cetera.

Daniel Creech: That’s how we got here with, “Hey, these got crazy policies so where are we going?” Well, we’re definitely headed for harder times, and we’ll have to wait and see on what the Fed does and what kind of guidance it gives. The Fed, to their credit, and what they’re trying to do is, they’ve tried to steer this, and they’ve been very forward. So again, because I don’t have the luxury of getting to host this when the news actually breaks, I’ll give you my opinion. The 75 basis points increase that is now expected up from 50 basis points I read, I believe it was just a month or so ago there was less than a 5% chance of that increase. And now, it’s like a 95% chance so word has gotten out or something.

Daniel Creech: So now, I would be more shocked than not if they didn’t raise by 0.75 tomorrow instead of a half. I think their language needs to be that, I think they’ll signal a 1% increase next month in the minutes or the conference transcript that comes out. And I think that would be a good thing because they’re trying to, like I said in the past, they absolutely pay attention to asset prices. They don’t want to be responsible for market crashes. Nobody likes the heat that takes or will be caused by headlines and government officials and everything else.

Daniel Creech: The blame game is going to be continued on for a long time, because there’s a hell of a lot of blame to pass around. So, just be prepared for that going forward, and you’re kind of this wait and see moment. And it’s okay to have cash on the sidelines, it’s okay to trim positions because you have to be emotionally ready to be able to see wild, wild swings across market indices.

Daniel Creech: And one final point on why this is going to continue is because at the policy level, you’re not having any policy changes that are going to affect the reality of higher prices. And I talked about this some last week, and I’ll get more into this tomorrow with some articles, but as long as you still have government officials and policy blaming others and not talking about the core change. For example, on Friday, the 10th last week when the Consumer Price Index came out higher, Biden was out in LA I believe at a port. He called out, and he was viscerally angry. And seeing that guy viscerally angry. He said, “You find out something and you want to pop them you get so mad.”

Daniel Creech: I think he was alluding to punching them. And he was talking about how there’s nine global carriers for shipping around the world. And they basically made three good old Boys & Girls Clubs, and they’ve jacked up prices over 1,000% recently. And that’s it. That was the great soundbite that everybody took and ran with and for good reason, because that’s telling you there’s nothing easing about shipping costs. There’s nothing easing about energy costs or gas prices, because he still blames everybody else instead of opening up more drilling here. That’s just the most simple takeaway you can have.

Daniel Creech: And look at the wording and the narrative around what’s coming up. President Biden is about to go over to Israel and Saudi Arabia. There was a release today from the White House, and it made a point to say that he was invited by the king in Saudi Arabia. And he’s not even really concerned about energy prices or talking about that. He’s talking about other things. It’s continuing to be a political game, and you just have to accept that and understand it. Don’t let it drive you crazy, figure out what they’re doing, why if you can try to understand the why and position yourself to benefit that.

Daniel Creech: That’s why we’ve been big on energies and different things like that, energy companies, Devon, Exxon. Well, I’m so excited here. You just wouldn’t believe the adrenaline and endorphins and all the fun stuff that comes from getting to host a podcast. But Harold Hamm has made an offer. He already owns the majority of stock, of course, in Continental Resources. But just today, he’s made an offer. I think he owns 80-some percent of the stock, if not more than that, 80 to 83. And they’re offering to about a 10% premium give or take to buy the remaining shares of Continental Resources, and that would be valued at about a $25 billion deal.

Daniel Creech: Now the funniest thing about him tongue-in-cheek is that if you Google Harold Hamm, the image is probably going to come up of the divorce check he had to write when he literally had to take up all the borders and basically every square inch of his space to write out, because he had to write out so much money. This kind of deal going forward is going to happen more and more often, when you’re going to see private companies look at public companies to take them out private, that’ll give investors some opportunity and we’ll dig into that. You want to look at huge insider ownership, the ability or the idea if they’re going to want to take those over and things like that, but you don’t see a deal like this going on. I doubt if Harold Hamm is.

Daniel Creech: Obviously, he doesn’t think that the public markets are going to benefit him as much as what this could taking it private, when he’s a majority shareholder and he’s going to raise this $25 billion a deal. Just a fun stat going on around turmoil and things like that. To wrap up here, let’s turn onto one more thing, and that is the cryptocurrency sell-off or market crash as of Friday the 10th, just this past weekend, Bitcoin was give or take 30,000, 31,000. You look at it on Monday, and it’s down to 24. It briefly went under 21. I don’t even know where it is right now, but this is great ammo and low-hanging fruit for the haters, and the Bitcoin bears, and deservedly so.

Daniel Creech: So, they should be taking victory labs because just like regular markets and investors hate uncertainty, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the crypto space around regulatory issues and all that. I do think, I agree that I’ve heard others say it. I think the idea about it being banned in the US or anything like that, cryptos and Bitcoin is past that, especially Bitcoin. However, there’s still a lot of unknown regulatory issues going on, who’s going to enforce it, which government group is going to oversee them, et cetera, et cetera. I’ll get into some more of those bills tomorrow.

Daniel Creech: Remember, you have me for two days. This is just part one. Yet, when it boils down to it, the low-hanging fruit and the easy Target is the leverage and the worrisome over margin calls and leverage. And to just give you a heads up on this, the Celsius Group, the lending platform that had to stop withdrawals, and they had 11, I think they had 10 or $11 billion in loans and things like that, according to their website. They have to come out with a headline saying, “Hey, because of these crazy, unusual market circumstances or hectic circumstances, they had to halt withdrawals.”

Daniel Creech: Now, there has to be a lot of leverage in these decentralized finances, where you don’t have one main hub and everything is spread out, you don’t have a controlling entity. That’s all great in theory. And I’m not saying it can’t work in situations. I’m simply pointing from a macro view that there has to be a lot of leverage inside these systems and because of the rates they’re paying. So, you could park cryptocurrencies in these asset classes, these funds, these protocols, what have you and earn five, six, 8% or more a year.

Daniel Creech: Now in a world where 0% interest rates have been dominating until very recently, and even now, with interest rates rising, your checking account isn’t paying you anything impressive or nothing like that yet. So, you always have to go into that very, very cautiously when somebody is promising you much, much higher rates, there has to be risk there, there has to be leverage. And without getting into the details, I’m still reading about it more so I can understand it and break it down in layman’s terms. But the short notes or the Cliffs Notes version of this is when you put out the word about, “Hey, we have to halt withdrawals.” What do you think that’s going to do? That’s going to cause absolute panic and that their token or Celsius’ token I think drops 70% very, very quickly as you can imagine.

Daniel Creech: To make matters even worse, not many people have heard of that name probably unless you’re really into crypto, but Binance had to withhold withdrawals for Bitcoin as well. And what you want to see when stuff hits the fan is how the leaders react, so CZ, is what he goes by, the founder and CEO of Binance, was putting out tweets over the last couple days about, “Hey, we’re having this issue we got.” You can go to his Twitter account and read these tweets. And while it doesn’t make the pain any less, when you see your asset values tanking, the issue with Binance and the withholding it was only affecting one area, where you could pull Bitcoin and they point that out.

Daniel Creech: CZ was pointing that out on his Twitter account saying, “Hey, yes, it’s screwed up here, but you can still go here. The funds are safe.” He was trying to put the fire out. It didn’t happen because everything continued to sell-off. And then, they got their issue resolved, not nearly in the 30 minutes that they foreshadowed for or put out there, but at least they got it resolved. And as of now, when I’m taping this Tuesday morning, it is resolved. Well, I said leverage, I said margin. Margin because MicroStrategy and Michael Saylor, CEO, who is one of the most well-known people in crypto, now there’s headlines around, “Hey, they’re down about a billion dollars or more on their crypto holdings. They hold it on the book.”

Daniel Creech: He has been a trailblazer for corporate America to try to convince people and CEOs to hold Bitcoin on their balance sheet. And now, the industry is saying, “Hey, you know of the roughly 129,000 Bitcoins that they hold 20, 26, 30,000 of those-ish give or take are subject to margin loans and things like that.” I believe I read 96,000 of those aren’t under-collateralized or subject to margin calls, but we’ll see. And then again, what do you want to see? The leader Michael Saylor put out a statement saying, “Hey, we don’t expect to get anything on margin calls.” And when you look at his Twitter account, he’s still acting like you would never know that Bitcoin is down 66, 60 7% from its previous highs of damn near 70,000 listening to this guy.

Daniel Creech: That doesn’t mean that he’s right and everything’s going to be rosy and things are going to reverse right now and go back up. But it’s somebody you want to pay attention to that has a lot of skin in the game and makes a lot of great points. I’m not saying he’s completely right, but I’m sure as hell not ready to admit he’s completely wrong with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general either. I don’t want to put words in Frank’s mouth, but I know he’s still very bullish on it. We talked just last week why we still have a lot higher price target on Bitcoin and send this to your feedback.

Daniel Creech: You can yell at us. You can vent at us specifically me if you’re going to send us a bad email, daniel@curzioresearch.com. That’s daniel@curzioresearch.com, because in the short-term, in the right now, in the next 24 hours or a month, who knows what’s going to happen? We have so much chaos going on because of the goofy policies we’ve had for so long that it’s going to take time to play out. And unfortunately, cryptocurrencies, stock markets, the unknown, and we have to wait and see on the Federal Reserve what they do and what they hint at doing in the coming months before you can really grasp.

Daniel Creech: So, don’t stress on needing to do something today. I know a lot of positions are down. If you’re emotionally attached that much or you’re that upset, then maybe you have too much exposure and look to trim those. Some of the best advice I got from a brilliant gentleman was, “Think in terms of a third.” So, whether good news or bad news is happening, whether stocks are going up, stocks are going down, assets are going up, assets are going down. If you’re buying or selling a third at a time, that’s really going to help you manage your emotions and think clearly to try to navigate what’s going on.

Daniel Creech: That’s some of the best advice I can give you as well, and I’m just passing that along. Don’t give me credit for that. All right, look at the time. Time flies when you’re having fun. Again, more excited than ever to have back to back days. So, send me your feedback, questions, anything else, daniel@curzioresearch.com. And we will wait and see what the Fed changes their mind on between… Well, we’ll see if anything leaks tonight, Tuesday, into tomorrow’s podcast ahead of the Fed meeting, and all that kind of such.

Daniel Creech: But hang in there, do not panic. The world is not ending. And if it does, you have nothing to worry about anyway. So have a cold one, relax, take a few deep breaths, and we’ll be right back here again tomorrow to navigate it and help you find great ideas to help make you some money. Cheers.

Announcer: Wall Street Unplugged is produced by Curzio Research, one of the most respected financial media companies in the industry. The information presented on Wall Street Unplugged is the opinion of its hosts and guests. You should not base your investment decision solely on this podcast. Remember, it’s your money and your responsibility.

Avatar photo
Daniel Creech is a Curzio Research analyst with over a decade of experience. He writes on macro trends, large- and small-cap stocks, and digital securities. He’s a regular contributor to Wall Street Unplugged, Curzio Crypto, Curzio Research Advisory, and The Dollar Stock Club.

Editor’s note:

She’s done it again…

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Her sixth 100%-plus gain so far in 2022.

That’s right, while other investors have been losing their shirts, Genia’s been averaging a triple-digit winner per month.

Want to know how she does it?

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