What the Markets Are Telling us About Russia and Ukraine
Listening to the smart money is a lot easier than listening to the media. Money moves in secret, like a vote. You do what you really want when nobody is watching. The people really in the know are telling us volumes about the situation in Ukraine.
When I was a kid, I campaigned for candidate Bill Clinton in 1992. Whenever I said that, everyone would volunteer their opinion on the election of 1992.
Coming from a Wall Street family, it was funny how everyone was for Clinton. They thought the republicans were “unfair.”
Suited me fine. Clinton won the election and was set to take office that January. A month later, in December, everyone I knew was super stressed out.
I asked my dad, and he said, “year end bonuses.”
“But it’s the beginning of December. Nobody gets this way for another two weeks.”
“Well, that’s what you get for voting this guy in David.”
“Listen. We all know he is going to raise taxes on the rich. That’s all these guys you see at our party. Everyone requested from their boss to get their bonus a week early
so they could have it in December 1992 instead of January 1993. They prefer to pay Bush’s taxes.”
“You mean all these people that talked about voting Clinton to help the poor, when it comes to actually doing something, are hiding their money?”
“Welcome to real life, son.”
My father smiled slyly.
“Now, out of all these Clinton lovers, how many of them you think actually voted for the guy once they were inside the ballot box?”
What We do In Secret Speaks Volumes
Nobody knows what we do with our money just like nobody knows who we cast with our vote.
Even hedge funds that have to disclose their holdings, do it at least 90 days after the fact. By then, the information is pretty worthless.
People will do one thing with their opinions, because they are held accountable to them right away. They will do another thing with their money.
Everyone knows their opinion, but nobody knows what they are invested in.
A Congressman, activist, even candidate is held under a magnifying glass for everything he or she says and does.
An investor is not held to such standard. He or she can put their money anywhere and nobody will know. Most of us won’t care.
That’s why the stock market tells you more about what’s going on than the media. The media makes their money on drama and emotion.
The people in the industry make their careers by following orders to toe the party line.
Just Like Gaza
It’s just like the Gaza Strip. How do journalists get into Hamas controlled Gaza and give interviews without their heads being chopped off?
They go to a senior terrorist and ask for permission to ask questions.
The terrorist says yes, as long as they speak to the right people and ask the right questions.
If they do that, the whole world can watch them be the only “brave” and “fearless” journalist daring to ask questions inside the ganglands of Gaza.
If they don’t, they will get killed. Even worse, they will never be allowed back. This promising path to their fame and fortune will be lost.
Can you really trust the media?
Biden and Trump aside, when it comes to issues that aren’t about presidential politics the same bias exists.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a Hollywood style actor for 22 years. Vladimir Putin is accused of putting President Donald J. Trump into power.
I wonder who they will be biased for?
This matters because we need to make investment decisions based on facts, not narrative.
Where do we find some scent of reality behind all the media smoke?
The smart money.
Follow Where the Money Is
As we speak, stock markets are still higher than the Feb 23 close of 33,131. That’s where it traded right before the invasion.
Same with the Nasdaq. It closed on Feb 23 at 13,037. It’s still trading higher.
The smart money sees Russia making short work of Ukraine.
As of yesterday, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has stated everything is going to plan.
We have no reason to doubt him.
Even the American military is saying the same.
We see in equities that there are no surprises. Smart money is betting on a successful, and rapid takeover of Ukraine.
Nothing has changed in equity prices to challenge that assumption. As long as that holds, stocks will be stable.
Follow Where the Money is going
Now, take a look at commodities. That tells a different story.
Stocks are looking at Russia vs Ukraine. Oil and Gold is looking at the broader picture.
Behind the hot war between the two countries is an economic war, a financial war, and a diplomatic war between Russia and NATO.
Sanctions mean countries get cut off from Russian Oil and Gas. It means there will be less transactions in the dollar. It means solutions may be devised to undermine the dollar.
In real currency, gold, the dollar is falling.
Oil is rising. That implies any hope of inflation slowing down in the second half of 2022 is unlikely.
Maybe Putin knows America’s underbelly and thinks he can bring it down with untenable oil prices.
What do you do if you are Biden, and your presidency may have only 8 months left unless you do something?
You scream fancy rhetoric. You cheer on Zelenskyy. You do nothing to actively support him.
You wait for Putin to swallow up Ukraine.
Then you cut a face-saving deal with the Russian monarch. Relieve sanctions. Get oil back down.
Or, you cut a deal with Iran. They can have their nukes as long as America can have their oil.
That’s about where we stand right now.