Earlier in this month’s sentiment overview, I mentioned a lesser known sentiment indicator called the “Daily Sentiment Index” (DSI). It is compiled and disseminated by Jake Bernstein’s firm through various “proprietary data collection methods” which include internet, telephone and/or email.
Since the objective is to arrive at a contrarian signal, pains are taken to only access retail traders and investors and to avoid professional traders. Also according to Bernstein, they do their best to survey the same base as much as possible. The resulting data is available daily on major global indices and commodities without lag by 4pm the same day. Overall, it has proven itself to be a very good contrarian measure.
Here is a recent chart of the US Dollar index along with its DSI:
Similar to other, more well known sentiment indicators (such as the AAII weekly sentiment survey), a simple question is asked: are you bullish, bearish or have no opinion. But unlike the AAII survey, the DSI is a considered ‘a proprietary indicator’ and there is no detailed disclosure of its exact nature or methodology. While you might think this opacity would make people reluctant to rely on it, the DSI has a large and loyal following, especially among the institutional crowd who don’t balk at paying almost $2,000 a year for a subscription. You can get more information on the DSI at Bernstein’s website.
Right after being dubbed the “Super Dollar” by the media in the early to mid 1980’s, the US dollar topped out and fell into a protracted bear market. The US Dollar index is a geometrically weighted index of the US dollar against a basket of currencies (Euro, Yen, Pound Sterling, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and the Swiss franc). At its inception in March 1973, the index was 100 and it has long term support in the 80 level.
Most recently, this level was broken to the downside but it would seem that was a very nasty bear market trap. Right now the US dollar index seems to be trying to find support yet again around the 80 area. And with the help of the extremely bearish sentiment it just may do that.
Upside Down Carry Trade
The resulting injection of liquidity and the lowering of interest rates globally has been an inversion of the carry trade. Now the world seems upside down as the carry trade has flipped from the Yen to the US dollar. One scenario would have the carry trade become extinct (at least temporarily) as interest rates reach an equilibrium which removes any incentives to borrow in one and invest in another. Another scenario would be the Japanese monetary policy tightening even slower than the US which would shift demand back to the dollar.
Can the Fed pull a rabbit out of its hat? That is to say, can they strike the balance between protecting a resurgence of economic activity while not nuking the dollar? If they do, it will be among precious few achievements on their mantle. Right now sentiment is skewed severely towards bearishness on the dollar and a disbelief in any outcome other than one in which the US dollar is laid to waste. Given everything we know, this may seem to be the most rational way to think about things. But you have to wonder when so many are taking the same side of a trade.
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