Archive for June, 2011

Defensive Assets Take A Step Back

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

We remain concerned about the lack of leadership in the markets. On June 29, we purchased some SPY (S&P 500 ETF) to gain some additional exposure to risk. We would like to see more from this rally before we broaden our horizons beyond the realm of the S&P 500 Index. If market interprets the outcomes in Greece favorably, we are well prepared to reinvest more cash. A close over 1,317 on the S&P 500, especially in a convincing manner, would make us feel more confident about the current advance.

The terms of any rollover proposal for Greek debt are very important. If the market believes bondholders are being given little, if any, choice then a “solution” may be interpreted as a default. Bloomberg reported on June 30:

Germany’s biggest banks and insurers and the government have agreed on a draft proposal to roll over Greek debt holdings, people familiar with the plan said. The financial firms will commit to providing financing for a Greek aid package and an announcement is planned this afternoon, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.

Looking at how an asset class is performing relative to the S&P 500 Index is an excellent way to understand the market’s current appetite for risk. Defensive assets, such as gold and the VIX, recently broke their S&P 500 relative strength trendlines in a bearish manner (see orange arrows below). These breaks tell us the desire to own the VIX, or the Fear Index, is waning relative to the desire to own stocks. While the changes shown below are short-term in nature, they do indicate an improving tone in the stock market.

Defensive ETFs Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

Yesterday, we showed the three steps required for a trend change in stocks using a very short-term time horizon. Market analysis becomes more meaningful when developments occur in short, intermediate, and longer-term time horizons. The chart below shows two long-term forms of possible support for stock prices. The green line and lower blue line intersect somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,270 and 1,283. The S&P 500 did dip below these levels, which leaned bearish. However, it is not uncommon for support levels to be violated for short periods of time. In this case, the S&P 500 was able to fight back above 1,283.

 Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The slope of the Summation Index has also improved which shows some conviction from buyers as measured by intermediate-term market breadth (percent of stocks advancing).

Market Breadth Summation Index Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The S&P 500 still has to contend with (a) the 50-day moving average which sits at 1,317, and (b) the cluster of possible resistance shown below from the now tight band of moving averages ranging from the 15-week to 22-week; they sit between 1,314 and 1,317. The length of the candlestick on the far right side of the chart indicates significant interest from buyers. A more hesitant market and candlestick may be in the cards as we approach 1,317. If we get a bullish candlestick on the other side of 1,317, that would be a very good sign in terms of the market being able to rally further.

Moving Average Resistance for Stocks Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The term default has been heard quite a bit recently, which never sits well with bondholders. The Aggregate Bond Index ETF (AGG) looks vulnerable to some additional downside.

Bonds have been weak Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

Bullish Case Prior To Geek Vote

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

If you do not follow the financial markets closely, you may not have an appreciation for the risks associated with the votes taking place in Greece this week. If the Greeks fail to pass austerity measures, every bullish argument and chart below will become irrelevant. If the markets are a forecasting mechanism, the general read is the market believes the vote will be a favorable one. Markets can be wrong; so from a risk-reward perspective it is very prudent to take a somewhat measured approach until the outcomes in Greece are known (and the market’s reaction).

If you are concerned about our high cash levels and beating the S&P 500 this year, you may want to read Todd Harrison’s take on the risks associated with the problems in Greece. Here is an excerpt:

If Greece is deemed a “credit event”—if it defaults (it owes roughly €26 billion by the end of August), it will trigger a chain reaction not unlike what we saw with stateside financial institutions a few years ago. In this case, global investors will be much quicker to connect the dots from Greece to Germany to European banks to US financial institutions.

We are paid to manage risk. If we miss upside with some of our cash for a few days, it is well worth it from a risk-reward perspective. If Greece votes in a favorable manner, the intermediate-term risks may improve. If they vote down the austerity measures, the risk of credit problems spreading around the globe is significant and greatly underestimated by many. This is not a time to be worried about beating the market. Our current position in cash is appropriate given the uncertain outcomes in Greece. The market’s reaction to the events in Greece will be very telling.

We have covered the bearish case extensively in recent weeks. Today, we look at the bullish perspective. The recent improvement in the markets prompted us to re-evaluate the 220 exchanged traded funds included in the CCM Asset Allocation Model. Last night we reduced the list of 220 down to the top 46 options. If the outcomes in Greece are favorable, we are well prepared to reinvest cash.

We have we seen numerous things recently that make us more encouraged about the stock market, including:

  • A set-up for a bullish change in the short-term trend.
  • A positive turn in market breadth.
  • Stocks held above key levels and their 200-day moving average.
  • An important weekly level has been retaken this week.
  • Stocks are trying to firm up at a logical level dating back to 2006.
  • Our three primary market models are producing favorable risk-reward readings.

Looking at the S&P 500 from a very short-term perspective, the June 28 close of 1,296 exceeded the level below, which completed step three of three in terms of what is needed for a probable change in the short-term trend.

Stocks Short Term Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

As we mentioned on June 28, our approach will be somewhat measured as long as the S&P 500 stays below 1,315 to 1,317. The weekly moving averages shown below and the 50-day moving average may act as significant resistance. A convincing move above 1,317 would have us consider a sizable reduction to our cash position. A failure to break 1,317 would reaffirm our current defensive stance.

Stocks Short Term Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

We have been patient looking for market breadth to improve from an intermediate-term perspective. We wanted to see a turn in the Summation Index; we got the turn after the close on June 27. Any rally that does not see a positive turn in intermediate-term market breadth is ripe for failure.

Stock Breadth Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

On June 24, we mentioned that from a tactical and defensive perspective some patience is in order as long as the S&P 500 can remain above 1,258.

200 day moving average Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

We have presented the chart below on several occasions noting 1,275 is an important level on a weekly chart. We dipped below 1,275 recently, but stocks have retaken that level. A close above 1,275 on weekly basis makes the move more relevant from a bullish perspective.

Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

Taking a long-term view the S&P 500 has found some traction at a logical level based on trendlines dating back several years.

Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The CCM Bull Market Sustainability Index (BMSI) has stabilized over the past few trading sessions. The CCM BMSI remains in bull market territory. The risk of a bear market comes into play when the BMSI flirts with negative territory. The current level of 3,280 tells us the odds still favor the bulls, especially over the next one to twelve months. As we have said in the past, BMSI readings mean little during a correction until the market begins to show some signs of stabilization. As noted in the charts above, we now have some signs of a possible change in the market’s tone. In the table below, higher numbers represent more favorable investment conditions.

CCM BMSI Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The CCM 80-20 Correction Index also remains in bull market territory. The risk-reward profile of the stock market is currently well above average for a bull market looking out three to twelve months.

Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The CCM End of a Correction Model has now checked off 88% of the things we would expect to see at the onset of a new rally. These conditions obviously do not guarantee anything, but they do tell us that the risk-reward ratio associated with redeploying some of our cash has become more favorable.

We may do nothing with our cash in the coming days. Our decision will be heavily dependent on the market’s reaction to developments in Europe. We remain defensive, but we have seen enough to pay attention with an open mind.

Stocks Try To Make Short-Term Turn

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Two of the three things have happened for stocks to make a possible short-term change in trend: (1) a break of trendline and (2) a higher low was made relative to the previous low. A close on the S&P 500 Index above 1,295.52 would “confirm” the short-term shift or increase the odds of a more sustainable move taking place.

Stocks Short Term Trend - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

As mentioned this morning, resistance sits between 1,300 and 1,315. Below is an updated and close-up version of the weekly moving averages we showed this morning. The 15-week moving average (in blue) is trying to turn up. A rally has to start somewhere. A close above 1,295.52 would be a step in the right direction.

Stocks Today - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

We are in the process of updating our CCM Asset Allocation Model. As we pare down the list of 220 ETFs, we learn a lot about the health of the general market. When we did a complete update two weeks ago, things did not look all that promising. The CCM End of Correction Model has checked off 77% of the things we would expect to see at the end of a corrective period within the context of a bull market. If the market gives us an good risk-reward entry point, we will be ready to take action.

The Intermediate-Term Trend Is Not Your Friend

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

While the charts in this article look complex, the concepts illustrated are easy to understand and may be helpful in terms of gaining a better understanding of the stock market’s probabilistic outlook. From a portfolio management perspective, when the odds favor bullish outcomes, it is prudent to take more risk. When the odds favor bearish outcomes, increasing your cash position is a logical response.

Summary of the findings below:

  • The stock market’s current intermediate-term outlook is bearish-to-neutral
  • Potentially significant resistance for the S&P 500 sits between 1,300 and 1,315.
  • Until we see improvement in the areas highlighted below, our bias should remain defensive.
  • A break above 1,315 on the S&P 500 would greatly increase the odds for more favorable outcomes.

Moving averages help us smooth out trends or reduce the noise associated with the day to day volatility in the markets. We call the thin colored lines in the charts below a “moving average band”. The band is labeled on the left side of the chart below. The band contains moving averages for the S&P 500 ranging between 15 weeks and 30 weeks.

The moving averages break the current bull market into three basic phases. Phase A was the initial surge off the March 2009 lows. In phase A, the S&P 500 never closed below the moving average band on a weekly basis. The green arrows show where the moving average band acted as support. In phase B, the flash crash correction period, the S&P 500 never closed above the moving average band, which indicated a bearish bias. The red arrows show where the band acted as resistance. Notice the performance of the S&P 500 after the initial break back above the moving average band in September 2010 (early in phase C). The take away is when the S&P 500 is above or in the band, the odds favor bullish outcomes. When the S&P 500 is below the band, the odds favor a bearish period or period of sideways consolidation.

Bull Market Phases- Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

In the chart below, we have zoomed in to the transition from phase A (bullish) to phase B (bearish). In phase A, the slopes of the moving averages are positive, which tells us the general trend in the market is up. In early May 2010 (left side of phase B), the slopes of the moving averages started to roll over in a bearish manner – notice the performance of the S&P 500 after the bearish turn in the moving averages. The take away is when the slopes of the moving averages are positive (pointing up); the stock market has a bullish bias. Conversely, when the slopes of the moving averages are negative (pointing down), the stock market has a bearish bias.

Bull Market Phases- Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

If we apply the concepts illustrated above to the present day market, we see some troubling signs. In early May 2011, the moving averages temporarily acted as support (see the “stalled” notation in chart below). During the first week of June 2011, the S&P 500 broke below the band of moving averages, which told us the market’s bias had shifted in a negative manner. The more concerning development in the chart below is that the moving averages are in the process of rolling over in a bearish manner, or their slopes are shifting from pointing up to pointing down.

Bull Market Phases- Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

If the market can rally in the coming days, we would expect the moving average band to act as resistance just as it did on the first two rally attempts in 2010 (see red arrows in the 2nd chart). The current area of potential resistance is marked SR in the chart above. The tight cluster of the moving average band near SR tells us the resistance in that area may be quite strong. The levels where the resistance may come into play are between 1,300 and 1,315. The resistance near 1,315 makes any rally attempt somewhat difficult to participate in between 1,280 and 1,315 since the move may be short-lived.

If the S&P 500 can break above the top of the moving average bands (near 1,315), especially in a convincing manner, then our concerns would be alleviated a great deal. A convincing manner would include strong trading volume during the break and broad market breadth (percent of stocks advancing).

Commodities and Market Internals Concerning For Stocks

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Our global economy still faces significant balance sheet problems (assets vs. liabilities) at numerous points in the economic food chain. Consumers are still hurting from the reverse wealth effect created by falling asset prices. Numerous countries, including Greece, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S., are burdened by mismatches between government spending and revenue. Falling asset prices make problems with balance sheets worse and are not good for revenues from ad valorem taxes.

Global central bankers have been trying to stem the deflationary forces of excess capacity and tepid demand for big ticket items, such as housing. In theory, inflation, which includes rising asset prices, can help impaired balance sheets.

The commodity market is not giving market participants a lot of confidence that inflation is winning out over deflation at the present time. The charts below compare the performance of the CRB Index, a basket of commodities, during the 2010 summer lows and the current market. At point A in the chart below, commodities consolidated for a month before breaking out to the upside in early June 2010. The higher low that followed in early July 2010 (first green arrow) foreshadowed stabilization for the stock market.

The second chart below shows the recent performance of commodities, which is not foreshadowing inflationary outcomes at the present time. Deflationary outcomes or a reduction in inflation expectations are not positives for asset prices, including stocks and homes. Near point B below, notice how commodities consolidated for almost two months forming what is known as a base. The recent break below the base (see red arrow), means we should continue to err on the side of protecting capital until we see noticeable improvement in the markets.

Commodities Bearish - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

On Friday, we further reduced our already relatively small exposure to commodities by selling broad-based positions, such as DBC. We will be watching DBC, copper (JJC), and silver (SLV) for signs of strength, which may come before we see strength in stocks. If the markets can stabilize, we would tend to use broad-based investments, like DBC and SPY (S&P 500), to reinvest a portion of our cash.

Turning directly to the stock market, we often look at “market internals” to gain a better understanding of possible inflection points for equity prices. Market internals include numerous indicators with most being centered around market breadth. Market breadth measures the number of stocks participating in the general market’s trend. Healthy markets have a high percentage of participation; weaker markets have what is known as “narrow breadth”.

The Summation Index, shown below, is an intermediate-term measure of market breadth. Unfortunately, the Summation Index turned down again late last week, which is not what the bulls want to see. When the stock market started to show signs of finding a bottom during the flash-crash correction in 2010, market breadth made a sharp turn higher in early June 2010 (see steep slope). The positive turn in breadth was followed by a higher high, which was another sign of a possible bottom in stock prices.

Stock Market Internals Weak - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The CCM Bull Market Sustainability Index (BMSI) uses numerous breadth indicators, including the Summation Index. Some breath indicators are showing some signs of stabilization, but nothing to get too excited about yet. The BMSI closed Friday at 2,995, which has historically produced mixed outcomes for stocks over the following month, but excellent returns from a risk-reward perspective over the next twelve months.

CCM BMSI - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

While the markets are telling us to remain in a defensive posture, the CCM BMSI reminds us to keep an open mind about positive outcomes in the next twelve months. The current BMSI reading means little until we see improvement in the market and the market’s internals.

As we mentioned on June 22, investors who left the markets completely between May 2010 and August 2010 missed the QE2-induced rally off the summer lows. While things look negative for asset prices at the present time, the Fed will most likely step in again in the coming months.

Dollar’s Move Relative to Commodities Bearish for Stocks

Friday, June 24th, 2011

It is common knowledge for market participants that all things being equal, a strong U.S. dollar tends to be bearish for stocks and commodities. Stocks (SPY) and the dollar (UUP) can rise in unison, but it is not as common as having them move in opposite directions.

Commodities (DBC) have two major investment components: (a) as materials to make goods, and (b) as a currency alternative to fiat or paper currencies. When commodities are in demand, it can be a reflection of a strong economy. Rising demand for commodities can also signal inflationary forces and winning out over deflationary forces. If you own stocks or commodities, deflation is not your friend.

What are these markets telling us today? The short answer is “be careful”. The chart below shows the U.S. Dollar Index relative to the CRB Index (commodity basket). It is obvious the trend in the chart below was down from mid November 2010 until late April 2011, which tells us the dollar was weakening relative to commodities.

When the dollar began to strengthen in late April, it was not overly concerning since countertrend rallies are common and do not signal a change in trend. A fairly reliable way to look for a possible change in a trend is to look for three things (see chart below). At point 1, the ratio broke above the downward sloping trendline. At point 2, a higher low was made relative to the previous low. The trifecta was completed at point 3 when the ratio made a higher high.

Dollar relative to Commodities - Ciovacco

The change in trend above is not the end of the world since it could be short-lived, especially since the dollar’s 200-day moving average may come into play soon, acting as possible resistance. However, it does signal a meaningful shift in demand for U.S. dollars (“safe haven”) relative to commodities (economically sensitive). The current trend is deflationary, which is a yellow flag for asset prices. As long as the current trend remains in place, we will err on the defensive side in terms of holding cash and raising additional cash.

Looking at a more bullish chart, the ratio of the dollar ETF (UUP) to the gold ETF (GLD) has not seen a change in trend. However, the Rate of Change (ROC) indicator, shown at the top of the chart, has completed all three steps needed for a change in trend. The move in ROC may be foreshadowing a change in trend for the ratio, which leans bearish for stocks and commodities. Silver (SLV) is in the same boat with the third step not yet completed relative to the greenback.

Dollar relative to gold - Ciovacco Capital Atlanta

As of the close on Thursday, the S&P 500 was trying to make a stand above its 200-day moving average. A break below the 200-day, which sits at 1,263, could trigger numerous sell programs. From a bullish perspective, if the market can hold above the 200-day and show some strength, it may bring some cash off the sidelines since buying near the 200-day tends to be a good risk-reward trade during a bull market.

Stock Market - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

Greece Story Stems Market’s Slide (Updated)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

We did some moderate selling today in the commodities space. With the 200-day moving average in play and the S&P 500 rallying to close above both 1,273 and 1,276, it is prudent to see how we close out the week tomorrow before making any significant allocation changes.

From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Greece’s representative to the International Monetary Fund said he expected a deal to be reached on Thursday between the Greek government and an EU-IMF delegation on the terms of an austerity plan.

Playing Defense Until Fed Is Forced To Act Again

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Prior to the Fed’s June 22 statement, there were enough positive technical developments to justify a belief that Chairman Bernanke would give the markets a much needed push. The market wanted some signal the Fed is willing to implement some form of additional quantitative easing (QE) sooner rather than later. That is not what the market got.

We are not in favor of money printing/asset purchases/quantitative easing. However, if you are going to use QE as a policy tool, it should be done before asset prices start to plummet again. Why did QE2 come into play? Asset prices began to fall in the flash-crash correction of 2010. It looks as if the Fed is willing to wait for asset prices to fall again before taking additional policy steps. That means we must continue to err on the defensive side in the coming weeks.

S&P 500 Index Chart - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

Market charts have looked concerning in recent weeks, but with some hope for a Fed-induced turn. Based on the their June 22 statement, the Fed-induced turn in stocks (SPY), precious metals (GLD), and commodities (DBC) is not in the cards for the short-term. We have not held silver (SLV) or copper (JJC) for some time. We still have a small position in a basket of commodities (DBC), which may be the next to go. For now, we will hold our relatively small position in gold, but even that is subject to review in the face of more deflationary-like markets.

Thinking a few moves ahead, the Fed did signal QE3 is a possibility if things get bad again. This means another Fed-induced rally in inflation-protection assets could be coming sometime in the next few months. Investors, who left the markets completely between May 2010 and August 2010, missed the QE2-induced rally off the summer lows. Given what we know today, the proper game plan may be to continue to add to our substantial cash position, but do so with the understanding the Fed may give us an excellent re-entry point in the not too distant future.

The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate…The Committee will monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will act as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.

Will QE3 inflate the markets again if it comes into play? We think it will for at least a time, but it will most likely do so in a much more volatile/fits-and-starts manner. In a global economy dependent on balance sheets and stable/rising asset prices, the odds are extremely high that QE3, or some form of money printing, will impact the markets again in the coming months (see video). We will have to see how the markets react to hints on QE3 and allocate accordingly.

From Bloomberg’s take on the Ben Bernanke press conference.

The Fed would be “prepared to take additional action, obviously, if conditions warranted,” including the purchase of more Treasury securities, Bernanke said yesterday after U.S. central bankers met in Washington. The economy will probably overcome constraints from elevated energy prices and Japan- related disruptions to manufacturing, he said. Still, declining home prices, high unemployment and weaknesses in the financial system may restrain the recovery in the longer term, he said.

Fed Statement Full Text June 22 2011

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Release Date: June 22, 2011
For immediate release

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April indicates that the economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly than the Committee had expected. Also, recent labor market indicators have been weaker than anticipated. The slower pace of the recovery reflects in part factors that are likely to be temporary, including the damping effect of higher food and energy prices on consumer purchasing power and spending as well as supply chain disruptions associated with the tragic events in Japan. Household spending and business investment in equipment and software continue to expand. However, investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector continues to be depressed. Inflation has picked up in recent months, mainly reflecting higher prices for some commodities and imported goods, as well as the recent supply chain disruptions. However, longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The unemployment rate remains elevated; however, the Committee expects the pace of recovery to pick up over coming quarters and the unemployment rate to resume its gradual decline toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate. Inflation has moved up recently, but the Committee anticipates that inflation will subside to levels at or below those consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate as the effects of past energy and other commodity price increases dissipate. However, the Committee will continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.

To promote the ongoing economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee continues to anticipate that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. The Committee will complete its purchases of $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of this month and will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.

The Committee will monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and will act as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Charles I. Plosser; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen.

2011 Monetary Policy Releases
SOURCE: www.federalreserve.gov

Europe, Gold, And The Fed

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

With the Fed due to issue a statement at 12:30 p.m. EDT and Ben Bernanke scheduled to meet with the press at 2:15 p.m., trading may be somewhat muted for a good part of the day. The deflationary debt problems in Europe will come to a head at some point according to a Bloomberg story:

Greece is “essentially bankrupt” and any attempts to solve its sovereign crisis with a new bailout will be like “kicking the can down the road,” said Andrew Balls, Pacific Investment Management Co.’s head of European portfolio management.

In a separate story, Bloomberg reported that Greece is not the only pressing concern in Europe:

“The repair of the economy is incomplete and risks are considerable,” the Washington-based IMF said in its annual appraisal of Spain yesterday. There must be “no let-up in the reform momentum” to bolster the recovery and reduce a 21 percent unemployment rate that is “unacceptably high,” the fund said.

One of the reasons we have such a large cash position at the present time is the continuing weakness in the commodity markets.

CRB Index Chart - Short Takes Stock Market Blog Ciovacco

The Wall Street Journal made some comments previewing today’s Fed announcement:

The market is looking for the Federal Reserve to maintain its balance sheet at $2.8 trillion, which is the level it will be at after the second round of quantitative easing is completed, Pawlicki said. “If the Fed maintains its balance sheet at these levels, the gold market will likely not look at it as a tightening.” Wider supportive market conditions such as economic uncertainty in Europe, slower global growth and rising inflationary pressures have continued to underpin gold, which is considered a store of value in times of high inflation and currency volatility.