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

    A Tiger Cub's Huge Margin Call Means More Pain Ahead

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

    A market optimist might brush off Friday’s massive liquidation as a one-off event — a huge stumble by a fabled player now in decline. But this is no time to be optimistic. Hwang is representative of, not distinct from, the rest of the hedge fund crowd. His bets are also their bets. He may have gotten margin calls faster because he was more leveraged. But his positioning is by no means unique — and that commonality is where trouble may lie. 

    Take the trades involved. Media companies such as ViacomCBS and Discovery have net exposures that are the “highest level we have seen since 2016,” according to a recent note from the prime brokerage unit at Morgan Stanley, which, alongside Goldman, managed some of the block trades on Friday. Last week, when ViacomCBS was using the steep run-up in its stock to sell new shares and bolster its balance sheet, the pressure on leveraged hedge funds must have been intense. 

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    The return of the inflation spectre

    Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Martin Wolf for the FT. Here is a section:

    Manoj Pradhan in The Great Demographic Reversal. The economic regime that began in the 1980s is, they argue, coming to an end, with rising protectionism and rapid ageing in all the important economies, including China.

    As labour forces shrink, this book suggests, the number of consumers will rise relative to the number of producers, thereby raising prices. Fiscal pressure will rise inexorably, as the population ages. If governments have to choose between inflation and fiscal tightening, they will choose the former. Finally, if interest rates rise too high for comfort, governments will force central banks to lower them.

    Ultimately, then, these pressures would end in another era of high inflation. Some will note, against this view, that this is not how things have ended up in Japan, where decades of easy money has failed to ignite inflation.

    Maybe, that will now happen in the world as a whole: we will all end up Japanese. Certainly, history never repeats exactly.

    The stagflation of the 1970s, especially the squeeze on profits and stock market collapse, were due to features of the economies of that time, especially the political strength of labour. So, things may play out quite differently this time.

    Inflation has not come back. It may never do so. But the political and policy shifts we are seeing today, after Covid, together with the longer-term changes in the world economy, have raised the chances of an inflationary shock of some kind. Investors must take this possibility into account.

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    The Giant Ship Blocking the Suez Canal Is Finally Freed

     This article by Jack Wittels and Ann Koh for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Egyptian authorities were desperate to get traffic flowing again through the waterway that’s a conduit for about 12% of world trade and about 1 million barrels of oil a day. This has been the canal’s longest closure since it was shut for eight years following the 1967 Six Day War.

    Firms including A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and Hapag-Lloyd AG were forced to reroute their ships via the southern tip of Africa, which can add two weeks on to a journey between Europe
    and Asia.

    Shipping experts anticipate that the disruption will last for months because of schedules being upturned and the uneven wave of cargo that will hit ports down the line.

    While the hit of the canal’s $10-billion-per-day closure will likely be small given that global merchandise trade amounts to $18 trillion a year, the prospect of hundreds of ships being thrown off schedule will ensure cargo delays in the weeks if not months ahead. The dozen or so container carriers that control most of the world’s ocean freight capacity are already charging record-high rates on some routes, and shortages of everything from chemicals and lumber to dockside labor already abound.

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    Rio Tinto to deploy Heliogen's AI-powered industrial "solar refinery"

    This article by Loz Blain for New Atlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    That temperature can be used to generate steam and turn turbines to produce electricity, or the heat can be stored for later use outside daylight hours. It's also hot enough to be used in cheap hydrogen production – Heliogen's Bill Gross told the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021 conference in January that a 600 x 600-m (656 x 656-yd) plant could produce around a million kilograms (2.2 million lb) of green hydrogen per year at an impressively low cost around US$1.80 per kilogram (2.2 lb) – lower than the average price of dirty hydrogen today.

    Rio Tinto's boron operation, rather fittingly located in Boron, California, currently uses natural gas co-generation and boilers to produce steam for its processes. The Heliogen installation will contribute up to 35,000 lb (15,876 kg) of steam per hour to the plant day and night thanks to energy storage, and Rio Tinto says this has the potential to reduce total plant emissions by about 7 percent – "equivalent to taking more than 5,000 cars off the road," says the company, neatly sidestepping the fact that it's leaving more than 70,000 cars on the road in this metaphor.

    This is just a pilot, though; should it prove viable, the company will assess whether to upgrade the facility to more than three times its current production rate, and the state intention here is to pilot the technology with a view to replicating it at other Rio Tinto facilities around the world where there's enough sunlight.

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    On Target March 2021

    Thanks to Martin Spring for this edition of his letter which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia. is expected to see 67 per cent growth of its people becoming ultra-high-net-worth over the next five years, according to British property consultancy Knight Frank.

    That’s those with personal wealth, including the value of primary residence, of more than $30 million. It’s not just the super-wealthy who are doing well. According to the World Bank Indonesia’s middle-class consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 12 per cent since 2002 and now accounts for almost half all household consumption.

    The richer Indonesians get, the more they spend on cars, health, education and other services. Asia is the region where personal wealth is growing fastest and is already home to more billionaires than any other – 36 per cent of the world’s.

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    WeWork agrees to $9 billion SPAC deal in new path to go public

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

    The company disclosed to prospective investors it had lost about $3.2 billion last year, the Financial Times reported earlier this week. The documents also show that occupancy rates fell to 47% at the end of 2020, down from 72% at the start of the year, before the pandemic hit, according to the newspaper.

    In the interview in January, Claure argued the pandemic was helping WeWork. He said the work-from-home situation benefits the company and would continue to do so as people return to the workplace. “This is where WeWork suddenly becomes an incredible value proposition,” he said. “New habits have been developed during this pandemic.”

    Mathrani will continue to lead the company after the deal. Vivek Ranadive of BowX and Insight Partners’s Deven Parekh will join the board.

    BowX Acquisition Corp. is managed by Ranadive and Murray Rode, both former executives at TIBCO Software and co-founders of venture firm Bow Capital.

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    Message Received, Loud & Clear

    This report from CIBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The Bank of Canada is seeing enough progress in the economy that it feels it can begin reducing outdated programs, as well as slowly begin to remove some of the considerable stimulus in the system. There should not be too much impact from the cessation of select market functioning facilities directly. The bigger news today is the strongest signal yet that the Bank is ready to conduct a taper, and begin ‘right sizing’ the QE program. This is also the first time we have been shown what the future sequencing looks like, which is: i) taper to a net-zero purchase profile; ii) enter a reinvestment phase, and; iii) normalize rates. The best trades to take advantage of this are micro in nature, though also put ‘bigger’ macro trades like receiving 2yr-to-4yr forwards versus the U.S. at risk.

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