Trades for 2018

2017 saw the dollar decline, vol nearly completely absent (i.e. equities grinding ever higher), yield curve flattening, and macro funds putting up positive single digits on average. Without further ado, here are trade ideas for 2018:

Short dollar via long EUR, JPY; commodity currencies if you don’t mind the tail risk. I expect a significant further move down in the dollar. Don’t pay attention to rates (a subject for a follow-up post), but rather the US twin deficits versus other DM twin surpluses, and then look at relative PPI changes over the past several years, both of which will continue to exert downward pressure. I prefer EUR, and will be buying dips. JPY is a bit tougher because it’s been so tethered to the Ten Year, but I expect the BOJ to lean more hawkish as inflation picks up a bit and for these to decouple. Still, I’m in wait-and-see mode in JPY. Longer term I’m targeting 1.35 in EUR, 11112 in JPY (I trade the futures), and similar moves in GBP in CAD, with smaller moves in AUD (waiting for a pullback), NZL, and CHF.

Short the US two year; put on a 2s/10s flattener if you want to hedge. My models suggest a move to as high as ~2.9% for the two year, but probably something in the mid 2s by the end of the year. Last week it sold off on the ADP number, which came in above expectations, and when NFP came out weaker than expectations, it still ended the day lower after the initial algo-driven rally. That is, it’s looking for any excuse to go lower. Sell every rally. If you want to hedge duration, buy the Ten. I expect the curve to invert by 2H.

Short Russel vs S&P: My initial thought was short Nasdaq vs S&P based on valuations but if we get a selloff I expect small caps to share the pain roughly equally with tech stocks, and if there’s a cyclical move lower in equities I expect the smarter small cap markets to lead, as they traditionally do. So, if Russel-S&P works it will work about as well as Nasdaq-S&P, and if it doesn’t work it won’t be as painful when Amazon goes to $2,000. This is my lowest conviction trade. I’m really torn on equities here because while I don’t see the business cycle precipitating a bear market this year it’s hard to ignore the ridiculous valuations. But as long as earnings are growing it’s difficult to see an end to the daily grinding higher.

Good luck this year. Happy hunting.

2 thoughts on “Trades for 2018”

  1. Hi there, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I like your short 2y idea. I’m a bit less sure about the curve inverting, but won’t rule it out. I don’t have a view on Russell vs S&P at current levels.

    It feels like the dollar is getting more debated than it’s been in a while. At least part of it is probably due to the disconnect vs rates as you’ve mentioned. The US twin deficits are certainly a factor, as you mentioned, but at these levels I think they are already in the USD price. Consensus forecasts for the twin deficits are not all that different from current levels – looks like only about 0.5% of GDP by the end of 2018.

    Having said that on AUD I am certainly cognizant of better China growth being an upside risk. With monetary and regulatory tightening continuing apace, however, I think risks are increasing that there is some sort of slowdown again. But I am trying to be open minded about risks on both directions.

    Carry on and good luck!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! AUD is my lowest conviction currency of the majors. Like you’ve said, China is a tail risk, and I think EUR, JPY, CAD, GBP offer a lot more upside as well.

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