“What’s in Store for 2010”

By Bruce Krasting, a former foreign exchange and derivatives trader and hedge fund manager.

Mohammad said, “One cannot foretell the future”. I think he was on to something. What looks predictable rarely happens. There are always surprises. I have been tripped up so many times. The following are not predictions of things that will happen. Just some thoughts on what might happen in 2010.

-Tim Geithner will resign as Treasury Secretary. Sheila Bair will replace him.

-AIG will be dismantled. What is good will be sold, what is bad will be shuttered. The end result will be a loss to the US of $40 billion.

-The Mid term elections will go to the Republicans. A surprising number of independents will be elected. The Democrats will still have a narrow majority. The end result will be legislative deadlock.

-Gold prices will trade as low as $900 and as high as $1,400. $1,400 will come first.

-Fourth quarter GDP will be at -1%.

-Unemployment will fall from 10% as the 800,000 census workers are hired. Outside of that there will be no growth in employment. Ex the census impact and other government hiring, job creation will be negative.

-Fiat/Chrysler will introduce some sexy new fuel-efficient cars. They will sell well. GM’s Volt will not be in full production. Demand will not be there.

-Boeing will finish a few Dreamliners but they will face many delays and problems.

-Apple will trade at $300 (tablet) and Google at $750. Amazon’s stock will be lower over the full year.

-Oil will trade at $100 by midyear, but it will be closer to $75 by year-end as the global slowdown re-emerges.

-The La Nina conditions will revert to El Nino conditions. This will result in a significant increase in Hurricane activity. Four named storms will hit the US coastlines. Total damages will approach $50 billion. There will be no CAT 5 hits on the mainland. But the Yucatan Peninsula is hit with a big one. Storm activity will interrupt Gulf gas production. Nat Gas will trade at $9 at one point in the fall.

-Typhoon activity in Asia will fall from the pace seen in 2009. The result will be a significant increase in Pacific Ocean temperatures.

-2010 will see another significant increase in ice melt. No meaningful steps will be made toward a global response to climate warming.

-Fannie and Freddie will convert their outstanding Preferred stock into common shares at a ratio of 3 to 1.

-After the Preferred conversion the shares of the Agencies will be delisted. Shareholders will be thrown a bone. They will get a beneficial interest in the REO owned by the Federal government. This could be in the form of a trust or individual transactions where old shares are tendered for individual properties. (Hotels/big stuff). The objective of this will be to remove these properties from the market for a meaningful period of time. The result will be that medium priced homes will stabilize in value. Rental costs will fall.

-High-end home prices (+$1mm) will continue to fall in value. In some areas the decline will be 20%. The absence of a viable mortgage market for these homes is the culprit for these declines. Prime defaults will rise to 8%.

-On September 1, 2010 the Federal Funds target will be at ½%. The 10-year bond will be at 4.5%. During the course of the year the ten-year will trade at 3.5% and also 5%. Interest rates will be lower at the end of the year than they will be on September 1st. There will be no meaningful reduction in the Fed’s balance sheet.

-At some point in 2010 there will be a test in the bond market for a government auction. At that time the Federal Reserve will, without hesitation or consent, re-establish a form of the QE policy. They will not permit a “failed’ auction.

-The Federal Reserve will become active in the foreign exchange markets. At different times of the year they will both buy and sell dollars. Their objective will be stability. These efforts will be referred to as “smoothing operations”.

-Volatility for all exchanges and commodities will increase from current levels. Intra-day moves greater than 2% will become common.

-The Sovereign Risk Story will continue to be a major theme. Italy and the UK will be lumped into the status of Greece, Spain and Portugal. Eastern Europe will see negative growth.

-There will be no breakup of the Euro. Greece will not pull out. The strong members will provide some relief for the weak. But the problems will not go away and the possibility of some form of two-tiered Euro will be a matter of open discussion. It is in this context that the Fed’s FX intervention takes place.

-There will be no meaningful overhaul of Social Security. This topic will be more controversial than Healthcare. It is too hot a potato for a bi-election year. As a result the SS Trust Fund will be at cash flow breakeven for all of 2010. Down from a surplus of +$200 billion in 2006. This reality will impact bond yields.

-The dollar will trade as high as 1.35 vs. the Euro. The low for the year will be at 1.60. At some point the Yen could weaken to as low as 110 to the dollar. Trade the extremes.

-China will surprise us all and revalue the Yuan by 10%. The currency will still be undervalued. China’s GDP will grow at 10% for the year. But the prospect for 2011 will be in doubt. China will not lose its rank as number 2 in global GDP.

-Mexico will devalue the Peso by 15% and Brazil will revalue the Real by the same amount. The Canadian Dollar will exceed 1 to 1 versus the US dollar.

-The Treasury will not sell the 10 billion of Citicorp shares that it holds. The argument put forth will be to maximize the value of the holdings.

-Some of the folks from Bear Sterns and Lehman will form a Boutique. It will be a success.

-The debate over Glass-Steagall will linger. It will not happen. It is not practical at this point. This creates a dilemma for Goldman Sachs. Can they go private and then just ignore all the noise?

-Fannie and Freddie will be merged. Their troubled assets will be transferred to a workout trust. There will be talk of returning the cleaned up entities to the private sector. The cost of these steps will bring the total losses to $500 billion.

-FHA will receive a $40 billion equity infusion from Congress. This capital increase will be necessary as it will be determined that the FHA model is the best approach for Government involvement in the mortgage market. FHA will use the new capital and substantially increase its lending activities. This step will avoid the necessity of a bailout of FHA. These actions will marginalize Fannie and Freddie.

-In 2010 over 90% of all new mortgages will come from or be supported by the government.

-There will be spot shortages of all manner of things. Soy oil, diesel fuel, specialty steel, industrial chemicals, ball bearings, replacement parts etc. This is an inventory problem. It will result in price jumps for things. This will be a global story.

-There will be several occasions when it will appear that we are about to fall off a cliff (or soar to the moon). Beware of these conditions. It is more than likely that the markets will be oversold and over-worried (or too enthusiastic).Take profits at these points. Do not stretch a bet too far. If you have some winnings in the jar consider counter trading big market moves on the day that the issue at hand gets front page coverage in the NY Times.

-Japan will not get out of recession. They will have to confront the issue of deficit spending and their debt to GDP ratio. Their response will be to sell reserve holdings to fund the deficit. The amounts involved will be small but the change in direction will be perceived to be significant.

-We will pay significantly more for virtually everything that we consume. The CPI and COLA numbers will be modest. We will be poorer as a result.

-American’s distrust of their financial institutions and our financial leadership will deepen. The whole notion of “I Promise to Pay” will come into question. As a result, the availability of consumer credit will continue to dry up.

-There will be no curbs placed on Dark Pools or flash trading. The short sale rule will not be re-introduced. There will be no regulated futures market for CDS. The Securitized Market will not recover.Nothing will change.

-The “Flight to Quality Trade” will be a dominant theme for the markets throughout the year. At some points this topic will drive the big capital flows. A month later they will have been reversed. This instability is driven by the conclusion that there really is no ‘Quality’ that the capital is Fleeing to. It is just the constant movement of the deck chairs. This creates good trading markets. Great opportunities to make and lose money will present themselves. It should be a fun year. Enjoy it.

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  1. michel

    Yes, there will be no coordinated global action on CO2 emissions, but no, global temperatures will continue to cool and no, this year’s ice extents in the Arctic will be considerably larger than in recent years. There will not only be no dramatic melt, on the contrary, there will be lower than usual melting. Storms? Probably much the same as this year, that is, in line with the declining trend, but there is large individual variation between years, so one is just guessing on this, and if there are more next year than this, its not very significant.

    However, yes, this will all be due to Global Warming and it will remain critically important for the world to take action to stop the planet from warming further, and there will be a further meeting to this effect, probably scheduled for the NH winter, and probably somewhere warmer than Copenhagen.

    1. Doug

      Al Gore said at the blizzard besieged Copenhagen that within 5 years there will be no ice in the Arctic in the summers!

      “New computer modeling suggests the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014, Al Gore said Monday at the U.N. climate conference.”

      “It is hard to capture the astonishment that the experts in the science of ice felt when they saw this,” said former U.S. Vice President Gore.

      It appears that China has something to do with this.

      To put these numbers numbers in perspective, China built at least 78 gigawatts of energy capacity in 2007 alone, which brought the country over 700 gigawatts of total capacity. The vast majority of that increase, of course, came from coal fired power plants. (US capacity is around 900 gigawatts.)



    2. David

      You just said that global cooling will continue, then that global warming will continue. Pick one, please.

  2. craazyman

    More predictions . . .

    The Obama administration will announce that 2010 will be renamed 2009, giving us another year of leeway to recover from the crisis. The move will make Obama’s poll ratings soar, as everyone would love to turn back the clock on their lives. “It’s just like daylight savings time, but in reverse,” the president will say.

    Scientists will invent a new liquid that combines with ethanol and gasoline to boost the efficiency of car engines to 100 miles per gallon. The liquid will also be sold in stores as a fruit punch. This will sponsor a new economic boom.

    Tiger Woods will apologize to all the cocktail waitresses in big city night clubs worldwide. His wife will host a new TV talk show and Tiger will eventually appear as a guest.

    There will be 19 full moons, shocking astronomers but gaining little notice from the general public, who will be too busy working to look up.

    Barbara Streisand will go on tour with Paul McCartney.

    The Chinese economy will become disconnected from any and all forms of quantification. No one will know where it is or what it is doing. It will eventually float over the western U.S. as a massive cloud of dust particles.

    There will be a communist revolution in Greece, but it will bring no noticable change to its economy, politics or job market.

    There will be a true second coming of the Messiah, but press coverage will be limited to CSpan and PBS. Only Ivy League liberals will know about it.

    Vladimir Putin will make a weightlifing video for sale worldwide, and ask former American President George Bush to be Vice President of Russia. Bush will accept on the condition that he can remain in Texas and never have to travel out of the state.

  3. i on the ball patriot

    These are the best predictions that I have seen yet and I agree with them all except for the one about Streisand and McCartney. I think Streisand will go on a come out of the closet tour with Lady GaGa and they will both become commies in Greece.

  4. AP

    What are the criteria for gold trading down @ $900.00?

    I read somewhere that what was once a 70 trillion dollar economy is now a 40 trillion dollar economy and that prices will adjust accordingly for everything.

    I’m admittedly naive, but I don’t understand how exactly an adjustment like this would drive the value of commodities down. In my mind, it would do exactly the opposite…

  5. emca

    Man, when you make predictions, you don’t hold back. (although no substantial progress inresponse Climate Warming is not a prediction, but a given).

    For my two cents I’ll add; the time is indeed right for the shrewd (dare I say wily) small investor, but you will find guidance askance the predictions of market gurus by reviewing pages and bits of oddball and many times financially unrelated articles to gleam some idea of the undercurrent of human events and if so inclined, can then extrapolate your own version of investment success.

    A prosperous and full New Year, Charles Krasting.

  6. Vinny G.

    I’d like to add that in 2010 Goldman Sucks will award the first trillion dollar bonus to its CEO. The bonus will be delivered on December 31, 2010, 10 minutes before midnight, when everybody will be too drunk to notice or care.


  7. Steve2241

    “The Canadian Dollar will exceed 1 to 1 versus the US dollar.”

    Ditto for the Australian dollar.

    It won’t be a first for Canada; for Australia, don’t know.

  8. leftback

    “The Canadian Dollar will exceed 1 to 1 versus the US dollar.”

    Are you serious? You know that Canada and Australia have housing bubbles? This is a global readjustment. We were first, others will follow. It’s not over.

    The whole decoupling, dollar going to zero thing is really insane.

  9. Steve2241

    The decoupling myth took flight during the bubble mania. Nevertheless, some will plummet farther and faster than others. It’s all relative. Even with Competitive Devaluation, currencies aren’t going to move in lockstep. If I’m remembering correctly, Australia is one of the few countries with a trade surplus. Their dollar pulled back recently, but it was lunging towards parity with the USD. Then again, something called a “double dip recession” could come raining down in America. That might blow a hole in this currency “bubble” thesis.

  10. jane hay

    One prediction won’t stand. El Nino suppresses hurricanes. If we have a moderate to strong El Nino this year, there will be far fewer, if any, hurricanes on the Atlantic side. There will be, however, a lot of rain in the Southwest and Cali.

  11. Thisson

    2010: China will realize that it has been in an overbuilding bubble and will stop importing so many commodities, leading to a crash in the BRIC economies.

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