David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Email of the day on the effects of a weaker Rupee

    Is a crashing Rupee good or bad for India? Big debates here. Exports more competitive, of course, but how far is these external accounts a driver of Indian growth? Isn't India one giant domestic economy and isn't therefore a stronger Rupee good in the shape of lower oil and energy prices (rural villages) and overall business and consumer confidence? Happy for the community to discuss

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    Tumbling Car and House Sales Pose Fresh Challenge to Chinese Markets

    This article by Joanne Chiu for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    China Galaxy International analyst Tony Li said the U.S.-China trade dispute and a stock-market selloff were weighing on consumer sentiment. “Consumers have turned more cautious and are less willing to spend much on luxury items,” he said.

    The holiday slowdown was bigger than expected, and investors should closely watch for any further weakening this year, he added.

    Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs said escalating trade tensions, slowing growth and policy uncertainty have weighed on Chinese stocks. In a pessimistic case, if annual growth slows to 6% and the yuan falls a further 5% against the dollar, shares could decline 10% more, the bank said.

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    The next recession

    This article from the Economist may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Yet this is where the bad news comes in. As our special report this week sets out, the rich world in particular is ill-prepared to deal with even a mild recession. That is partly because the policy arsenal is still depleted from fighting the last downturn. In the past half-century, the Fed has typically cut interest rates by five or so percentage points in a downturn. Today it has less than half that room before it reaches zero; the euro zone and Japan have no room at all.

    Policymakers have other options, of course. Central banks could use the now-familiar policy of quantitative easing (QE), the purchase of securities with newly created central-bank reserves. The efficacy of QE is debated, but if that does not work, they could try more radical, untested approaches, such as giving money directly to individuals. Governments can boost spending, too. Even countries with large debt burdens can benefit from fiscal stimulus during recessions.

    The question is whether using these weapons is politically acceptable. Central banks will enter the next recession with balance-sheets that are already swollen by historical standards—the Fed’s is worth 20% of GDP. Opponents of QE say that it distorts markets and inflates asset bubbles, among other things. No matter that these views are largely misguided; fresh bouts of QE would attract even closer scrutiny than last time. The constraints are particularly tight in the euro zone, where the ECB is limited to buying 33% of any country’s public debt.

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    Plenty of Oil, Just Not in the Right Places

    This article by spencer Jakab for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest. Here is a section:

    The market isn’t tight everywhere, though. As evidenced by prices, there are localized gluts and producers who would gladly put more supply on the market if logistics would oblige. U.S. benchmark crude futures, priced at Cushing, Okla., are $9.00 a barrel below Brent and cash prices in the prolific Permian Basin are even cheaper. A lack of pipeline capacity is to blame.

    None of that holds a candle to western Canada at the moment. Western Canada Select crude cash prices are now $46 a barrel below Brent. Pipeline and rail capacity already was stretched and, according to JBC Energy, a gas pipeline incident in the Pacific Northwest has worsened the situation significantly. Refineries in the region have had to scale back operations and thus crude purchases.

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    Email of the day on the sustainability of electric vehicle batteries

    I find little information published about the lifespan of a battery pack. Today’s IC engines easily last for 10 years or 150,000 mi., frequently longer. I've seen no comparable information for battery packs or what the rate of decline in charge acceptance is over time. If that lifespan is considerably less than that of an IC engine, that price difference would have to be significant to be economic.

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    Tesla's Model 3 Sedan Production Cruises Past the 100,000 Mark

    This article by Tom Randall for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Expanded production comes with downsides, however. Tesla posted on its website Friday that buyers must place their orders by Oct. 15 to get their car by the end of the year and qualify for the expiring U.S. federal tax credit. Tesla was the first company to sell 200,000 electric cars cumulatively in the U.S., which triggers the gradual phase-out of the subsidy. The $7,500 credit will drop by half for Tesla on Jan. 1.

    Musk boasted in 2016 that Tesla would make more than 100,000 Model 3s by the end of 2017. It didn’t work out that way. As often happens on Musk time, Tesla arrived late to an impossible goal. But Model 3 production now appears to be cruising—from the first cars off the line in July 2017, it took about 14 months for the company to build the initial 100,000 Model 3s. At the current rate of production, it will build the second 100,000 in less than six months.

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    U.S. Treasury Staff Said to Find China Isn't Manipulating Yuan

    This article by Saleha Mohsin and Jenny Leonard for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Treasury said in its April report that it is considering expanding the number of countries it examines from 13, with analysts speculating that the number could go as high as 20. Such a move would be a sign of the Trump administration ramping up its use of the currency channel to negotiate better trade deals for the U.S.

    Mnuchin has said since July that Treasury is concerned about the yuan’s recent drop. The currency has slid more than 9 percent against the dollar in the last six months, raising speculation that China has been deliberately weakening its currency as tensions with the U.S. escalate.

    The Trump administration has pivoted to a more aggressive stance toward China since the president said last month the country is interfering in U.S. elections. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech last week in Washington signaling a firmer U.S. push-back against Beijing as trade anxiety weighs on the looming midterm congressional elections.

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    Fear Not, ETFs Control the Price of Gold

    This article by David Fickling for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    That matches the big picture portrayed in demand statistics from the World Gold Council, an industry group. Bar and coin investors, industrial users and jewelry buyers purchase the yellow metal year-in and year-out; and central banks have been doing the same thing ever since they gave up their selling spree in 2009. As a result, ETFs and related funds are the key swing factor in the gold market, driving its slump from 2013 through 2015 when they became net sellers, and helping support its modest revival by turning into buyers in the years since.

    That relationship seems to have intensified of late. The raw beta when gold is the dependent variable jumped to 1.65 in the past three months, suggesting moves in ETF holdings are now having an even bigger influence on the spot metal than usual. 

    In some ways this doesn’t change the old argument for investing in gold, which is that the important beta isn’t related to ETF holdings but to stock-market returns. When fear rises and the value of your equity portfolio falls, the yellow metal still has a mild tendency to climb and offset the losses

    Still, those who look on gold as a refuge from the madness of crowds shouldn’t get ahead of themselves. These days, the crowds are in the driver’s seat.

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