By Michael A. Gayed
"Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes." - Zig Ziglar
The mythical jackalope is a fearsome animal hybrid in North American folklore. More dangerous than Chuck Norris in the most violent of fights, the jackalope is legendary not only because of its ability to gore the unsuspecting, but also because it mimics the human voice. While the jackalope doesn't exist (as far as we know), it is not uncommon to find taxidermy heads of the fictional animal in bars across the country. After all, nothing impresses people more during a drunken night of storytelling than how a particular hunter risked his or her life to kill the notorious creature.
Today's equivalent of the fabled jackalope is Greece, which is as fearless and as dangerous as the hybrid animal. When you have nothing left to lose, you have all the power. Greece /zigman2/quotes/208159440/composite GREK +1.74% is in that position now. An exit from the eurozone, once deemed unthinkable, is now the base case for many. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/209901640/composite SPY +2.48% never priced in such a scenario, despite it being talked about continuously for the past several years.
I would argue the stock market still doesn't believe that this scenario is highly probable. An exit by Greece is mythical, spoken of by many greats in the investment management business with hypothetical thought experiments on what happens upon such a monumental event. Yet, despite all the talk, the jackalope is more a point of conversation than something to get your hunting gear ready for.
However, the bond market doesn't seem to think the jackalope of Greece leaving the euro is so fictional after all.
Take a look below at the price ratio of the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund ETF /zigman2/quotes/206026314/composite TLT +0.03% relative to the Pimco 7-15 Year U.S. Treasury Index ETF . As a reminder, a rising price ratio means the numerator/TLT is outperforming (up more/down less) the denominator/TENZ. This is an important intermarket relationship documented in the award-winning paper I co-authored .
Long-duration Treasurys have only just begun to gear up, prepping for a potential Greek exit and severe volatility that could come in the lead up. This is no longer just a hypothetical scenario, but a very real one that has the potential to gore unsuspecting bulls who think the jackalope doesn't exist in real life, despite all of our awareness of the animal around us.
For the Fed, Greece is the jackalope they don't want to find out is real. Any kind of disruption in Europe will make it unlikely the Fed raises rates anytime soon. For those awaiting normalization in interest rates, good luck should Greece exit. We can no longer just talk about a Greek exit and talk about how dangerous it is. We can no longer just joke about Europe's dysfunctionality relative to the U.S. which has been resilient to volatility overseas.
Is 2015 the year of the jackalope ?
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