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TheStreet Open House

Extreme Movers: Investors Run Scared, Buy Bonds

"The sky was clear -- remarkably clear -- and the twinkling of all the stars seemed to be but throbs of one body, timed by a common pulse." -- Thomas Hardy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It has been a wild November, as Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. elections, Europe, China and our nation's fiscal cliff dominated the headlines.

The correction, which I had said was likely to begin in September, has accelerated following the worst October in four years. Investors are deeply disappointed post-QE3. The environment has kept people away from riskier assets, and I myself am surprised by the extent of weakness. It is as if QE3 marked the end of positive intermarket trends that pushed stocks to strong returns.

So how have prices behaved in this period? Every week, I run a screen on more than 1,000 ETFs/ETNs to identify which types of assets or industries are exhibiting extreme price behavior relative to their 20-day moving average. The idea is to see if there is a message beneath the surface by looking at the opposite ends of winners and losers over a rolling one-month period. Take a look below for the latest results.

The extreme winners this week are screaming one word and one word alone: deflation. The fact that the most extreme winners are low-volatility bonds tells you just how severe market internals have become. Treasuries across the board with ETFs such as EDV, TLO, and VGLT are among the biggest winners, and municipal bonds such as MUB and tax-friendly MLN are getting a bid due to the threat of increased taxes on the wealthy. Shorting bonds has been one of the most amazing "widowmakers" all year, as yields continue to stay depressed on persistent deflationary fears.

As to the extreme losers, the breakdown seems to be entirely a story about energy as ETFs such as URA, PBW and TAN fall apart. The smart money may be betting that the U.S. won't be as oil friendly under another four years of Obama, although this does not explain why alternatives have performed so poorly. Rather, I suspect this is a decline specifically due to the return of the global deflation pulse, which hurts commodities in general.

The bottom line? The acceleration of the deflation pulse has spooked markets across the board, and bonds remain the ultimate safe haven, along with the dollar (UUP). Caution remains warranted. Our ATAC models used for managing our mutual fund and separate accounts remain fully out of equities until conditions improve internally in the market.

Positions: none.

This writing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction, or as an offer to provide advisory or other services by Pension Partners LLC in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Pension Partners LLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information on this writing.

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