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October 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review October 4th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.



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October 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We are living today in a world that was previously unimaginable. Negative interest rates have been with us for a decade and about $7 trillion has negative yields. Investors would literally rather pay to own bonds. Meanwhile some of the largest privately held companies continue to attract tens of billions in capital with little prospect of near-term or even medium-term profits. Therefore, I find it hard to fathom why people are so reticent about embracing the possibility that even more drastic action will not be embraced if the current suite of policy tools is exhausted.  



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October 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The US administration imposed 10% tariffs on Chinese imports and the Renminbi dropped by about the same amount. If we are to conclude this is the market being particularly efficient then so be it, but Ockham’s Razor suggests the Chinese administration is managing the currency lower. That might be justified based on the slowing growth trajectory of the economy but the bigger issue is the Renminbi is weakening and that is putting downward pressure on just about all regional currencies.

Thanks to a subscriber for Russell Napier’s latest missive which may be of interest. Here is a section:



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October 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasuries Slide Pushes 10-Year U.S. Yield to Highest Since 2011

This article by Liz Capo McCormick for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
 

The yield on 10-year Treasuries, a benchmark for global borrowing, rose to the highest level since 2011 amid growing optimism about the U.S. economy. The rate on 30-year securities reached a four-year high and the dollar gained.

Improved investor appetite for riskier assets drove the leap in yields, with stocks rising toward records on upbeat news about American jobs and ebbing concern about the fiscal situation in Italy. The jump in yields Wednesday, which pushed them above previous 2018 highs set in May, followed stronger-than-anticipated reports on U.S. services and private payrolls and came after the Federal Reserve lifted interest rates last week.

The government reports payroll figures for September on Friday, and economists forecast a decline in the jobless rate to 3.8 percent. It hasn’t been lower since 1969.

Treasuries are extending a September swoon that was triggered in part by quicker-than-forecast wage growth in employment data released early last month.

“This started overnight with the Italian risk-on trade and the U.S. data today was definitely stronger” than forecast, said Justin Lederer, an interest-rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. “After last month’s payroll, the market started to catch up to the Fed and it’s a continuation of that. There is reason to be believe we can continue to trickle to higher yields.”

The yield on the 10-year borrowing benchmark climbed as much as 7 basis points Wednesday to 3.1343 percent, surpassing the May intraday high of 3.1261 percent. The yield on the 30-year increased as much as 7 basis points to 3.29 percent.


Money-market traders are now pricing in more than two Fed hikes in 2019, seeing about 0.54 percentage point of tightening, approaching policy makers’ projections for three rate increases next year. About two months ago, the market saw just slightly
more than one increase.

The yield curve, which has been on a flattening trend for much of this year, steepened sharply amid Wednesday’s break-out in long-term yields.

The gap between 2- and 10-year yields surged more than 3 basis points to about 28 basis points, reaching its steepest since August.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The yield curve spread popped on the upside today with the yield on the 10-year breaking out. The last 10 basis point rally was between April and May so right now this is an equal sized rally within the downtrend but it will likely be enough to allay fears on an imminent inversion.



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October 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review August 15th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Let me first set up the background; I believe we are in a secular bull market that will not peak for at least another decade and potentially twice that. However, it also worth considering that secular bull markets are occasionally punctuated by recessions and medium-term corrections which generally represent buying opportunities. 



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October 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy Contagion Fears Bubbling Beneath Surface of Apparent Calm

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

For others, Italy’s euroskeptic government is just the embodiment of the populist sentiment taking root across Europe, which could threaten the bloc’s future and weigh on the euro for the months or even years to come.

Borghi, head of Italy’s lower house budget committee and a well-known euroskeptic, said in an interview on Radio Anch’io that “Italy, with its own currency, would be able to resolve its problems.”

“The comments about Italy having its own currency have touched a sore point,” said Jane Foley, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Rabobank International. “While the return of the lira would be almost impossible and hugely inflationary even if it could happen, the fact that the remarks can be read as anti-EMU sentiment are worrisome.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The response of the market to the Italian government’s decision to splurge on its budget has been predictable and yields broke out to new recovery highs today. Populist rhetoric has been very vocal in saying they are not afraid of the spread but they have not yet had a taste of what higher borrowing costs will mean for the economy.



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September 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy's government agrees sharply higher public spending plan

This article by Miles Johnson and Davide Ghiglione for the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Mr Di Maio hailed the agreement as a “historic day”. “We made it!,” he said as he emerged from a balcony at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi, where the meeting took place.

“Today we have changed Italy! . . . For the first time the state is on the side of the citizens,” he said as ministers and members of parliament from his party hugged each other on the square outside.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the hard right League, part of the coalition and deputy prime minister alongside Mr Di Maio, also welcomed the agreement on spending, saying he was “fully satisfied with the objectives achieved”, which would include his party’s pledges for tax cuts and a reversal of unpopular pension reforms dating back to 2011.

Mr Tria, who is not affiliated with either party and was installed only after Italian president Sergio Mattarella rejected the coalition’s first choice for finance minister, had been pressing for a deficit number as low as 1.6 per cent of GDP going into the meeting.

A 2019 deficit of 2.4 per cent of GDP would represent a significant fiscal expansion from the 1.6 per cent target for this year agreed by the last centre-left government, and would be three times the 0.8 per cent number previously planned for next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Italy’s debt is BBB, which is still investment grade, but the yield trades like it is rated BB which is not investment grade. The populist administration has stated they are not afraid of the spread but one wonders if they have any conception what a downgrade to junk would do to demand for Italian debt. Large pension funds which have been gobbling up Italian debt to capture the higher yield would be forced to sell in the event of a downgrade. Meanwhile the ECB is winding down its purchase program so there will be a hole in demand for the bonds.



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September 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Neutral Fed Funds, Dead Ahead

This article from Bloomberg’s economists may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Given the lagged and variable impact of monetary policy on economic conditions -- further complicated in the current cycle by the Fed’s balance-sheet unwind -- policy makers will need to navigate with caution when in the proximity of neutral. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, in his Jackson Hole speech, sounded dual warnings about this: First, he stressed economists’ inability to estimate the neutral level of interest rates in real-time and cautioned against the “mistake of overemphasizing imprecise estimates of the stars”; second, he invoked the Brainard principle, which advocates moving conservatively on policy when the effects of action are unknown.

If growth is moderating toward trend and inflation appears to be centering around policy makers’ objective as the fed funds rate probes neutral territory, a significant portion of the FOMC should be willing to slow -- if not pause -- the pace of interest-rate increases in order to assess economic conditions. Policy makers may not be able to precisely identify the neutral policy rate in real time, but a continual decline in the terminal fed funds rate over the past several tightening cycles (shown below) serves as a cautionary reminder that, as Powell quipped at Jackson Hole, a “smaller dose” of normalization may prove adequate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The PCE Core inflation gauge, which is the Fed’s preferred measure currently stands at 2%. Chained PCE inflation is at 2.3%. The Fed’s Funds rate is now 2.25% so it is becoming increasingly clear that after 8 rate hikes policy is moving from accommodative to neutral.



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September 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Draghi Sees Vigorous Pickup in Core Euro-Area Inflation

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

Mario Draghi said he sees a “relatively vigorous” pickup in underlying euro-area inflation, signaling
that the European Central Bank is well on track to raise interest rates late next year.

In testimony to the European Parliament, the ECB president said while headline consumer-price growth will only average around 1.7 percent a year through 2020, still below the goal of just under 2 percent, that stable outlook “conceals a slowing contribution from the non-core components” such as energy and food prices.

“Underlying inflation is expected to increase further over the coming months as the tightening labor market is pushing up wage growth,” he said in Brussels on Monday. “Domestic price pressures are strengthening and broadening.”

The euro jumped half a cent on the remark, reaching the highest level since June. It traded at $1.1800 at 3:16 p.m. Frankfurt time. Bunds extended losses and the Stoxx 600 index fell to a session low.

The ECB will end its bond-buying program in December and expects to keep interest rates at record lows at least through the summer of 2019. Policy makers have acknowledged market expectations for a hike around the final quarter of next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has taken on a lot of additional responsibilities since the credit crisis but its one core mandate is to target an inflation rate close to 2%. With inflation rising and the ECB’s quantitative easing program ending the big question is whether the European economy will be able to grow quick enough to absorb inflationary pressures or whether stagflation is more likely?



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September 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dollar Tumbles to Lowest Level Since July as Euro Surges

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

The market views a 25 basis point Fed rate hike next week as a near certainty, based on fed fund futures. Contracts on Thursday showed more than 45 basis points of total tightening by the end of 2018. Focus is increasingly shifting to the outlook for next year, with investors moving closer to the central bank’s projected path of three rate hikes for 2019.

That won’t be enough to prop up the greenback, according to Noelle Corum, an Atlanta-based portfolio manager in Invesco Ltd.’s fixed-income group. As global growth improves and market participants start to speculate about policy changes from the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, the dollar’s support from Fed hikes and trade tensions will wear off, she said.

“Going into year-end, we would expect fundamentals will begin to drive markets again, and this will drive the dollar weaker,’’ said Corum, whose group manages $235 billion. She forecasts the greenback will depreciate to $1.20 per euro and weaken to 104 yen per dollar by year-end.

Eoin Treacy's view -

US Treasury yields popping above 3%, not least because of the dearth of demand following the front loading of pension contributions that ended on September 15th, has been a catalyst for both bond and Dollar weakness this week.



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September 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The End of the Incessant U.S. Big?

This article by Kevin Muir at East West Bank may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

According to Bloomberg’s Brian Chappatta, Friday was the last day U.S. corporations could deduct pension contributions at the 2017 corporate tax rate of 35 percent and will now only be eligible for the new 21 percent rate.

There has been considerable debate amongst the fixed-income community regarding the amount of curve flattening that has been the direct result of corporations accelerating their pension contributions. In fact, Brian’s article is named, “The Yield Curve’s Day of Reckoning is Overblown”and is mostly a rebuke of the idea that this factor has been the driving force to the recent flattening.

I don’t agree with all of Brian’s conclusions - but hey - that’s what makes a market!

The U.S. has been flattening at a vicious pace, while most other major bond market curves have been treading water.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The yield curve spread has widened from 20 basis points to 26 over the last week. That is not enough to break the downtrend but it does suggest a moderation in the trend of curve flattening. The transition from being able to write down 35% of pension contributions to 21% is a significant evolution for corporations and it makes sense that they would accelerated contributions to plans ahead of the move. The biggest question is how many people were buying treasuries in sympathy with the view that pension contributions were supporting the market?



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September 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Venezuela on the Med:

There is an increasing number of commentators in Italy that have drawn to the conclusion that the current government (still supported by a vast majority of Italians, ~60% according to latest polls) is determined to leave the Euro area and the EU. I am now convinced about this too.

Since there is no legally viable way of achieving this, the path to be followed will be that of an "accident" on the financial markets: the delivery of the promises of universal income and lower taxation, will push the fiscal deficit to "breaking point", while the ECB (unelected enemy of the people #1) will start withdrawing the bond buying program. 

With the spread uncontrollably high and seized credit (banks are also notorious enemies of the people), the only solution left (so the people will be told) will be the reintroduction of the Lira, overnight. The country will default and withdraw from international markets. Most activities nationalised. 

The motivation for doing this for those currently in power is clear: seizing unrestrained power (forget ideology, or patriotic instincts... those are facades). A country with universal income (assuming that functions) ceases to be a democracy anyway. The sponsor for all this comes from the East.

Interesting (Venezuelan) times ahead. 

The conclusion: don't touch Italian domestic names, not even with a barge pole from far away. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your interpretation of a potential outcome to the introduction of a populist coalition in Italy which I think we can both agree is a doomsday prediction for Italy, the ECB and the nations responsible for funding the central bank. Let’s take the argument back to first principles.



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September 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

HNA's Missed Payments Show Deutsche Bank Exit Won't Be Enough

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

Despite HNA Group Co. having sold more than $17 billion in assets this year, one of its units still missed payments on a $44 million loan this week, illustrating how the once-acquisitive Chinese conglomerate will need to unload more properties and shares to overcome its liquidity challenges.

Signs abound that the selloff will continue: It’s planning to get out of Deutsche Bank AG, seeking a buyer for its container-leasing Seaco business, surrendering eight floors of office space in Hong Kong and selling stakes in various Chinese units, people familiar with the matter have said since last week. What’s more, HNA is said to be dangling billions of dollars in real estate in the U.S., London and China to prospective buyers.

All in all, the company that was once at the forefront of China’s massive global buying binge has more than $17 billion in further asset sales planned, according to a tally by Bloomberg, as HNA tries to shrink back to its aviation roots. But as the missed payments show, there’s plenty of turbulence lying ahead for the conglomerate, which is saddled with one of the biggest piles debt in corporate China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chinese investment in US commercial property turned negative for the first time in a decade last month not least because HNA Group is a panicky seller. The fate of the group is tied up with the program for international expansion that characterised the first portion of Xi Jinping’s rule and which has now been reversed in response to a debt load which was getting out of control. 



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September 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Financial panic and credit disruptions in the 2007-09 crisis

This article by Ben Bernanke for the Brookings Institute may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Although the Balance Sheet factors do not forecast the acute phase of the economic downturn in my setup, that does not mean they were irrelevant. Of course, the bursting of the housing bubble was the spark that ignited the panic in the first place. Moreover, much other evidence (by Mian and Sufi and others) is consistent with the view that household deleveraging contributed both to the initial downturn in spending and to the slowness of the recovery. It may well be that household balance sheets evolve too slowly and smoothly for their effects to be fully accounted for in the type of analysis used in my paper, which tends to emphasize shorter-term fluctuations. But my results do suggest that, in the absence of the panic, the declines in employment, consumption and output in the early stages of the Great Recession would have been significantly less severe.

The panic of 2008 differed from the Great Depression of the 1930s in that the runs on the financial system during the recent episode were on wholesale funding, and occurred electronically, while in the 1930s retail depositors lined up in the streets.  But the overall effect was the same:  A loss of confidence in credit providers caused the supply of credit to plummet, the external finance premium to spike, and the real economy to contract rapidly.  Macroeconomic analysis and forecasting needs to take into account how disruptions to credit markets, in ordinary recessions as well as in financial panics, can damage the real economy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lesson policy makers are likely to have learned from the Lehman bankruptcy and the ensuing panic in credit markets is liquidity has to be made available at whatever cost early in order to avoid a worse outcome later.



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September 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ray Dalio Spells Out America's Worst Nightmare

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

“We have to sell a lot of Treasury bonds, and we as Americans won’t be able to buy all those Treasury bonds,” Dalio said. That means foreign investors will have to step up. And they probably would, as long as the dollar remains strong.

Otherwise, Treasury’s dollar-denominated interest payments to buyers in China, Europe and Japan will be worth less and less.

But, to Dalio, that’s not going to happen. “The Federal Reserve at that point will have to print more money to make up for the deficit, have to monetize more and that’ll cause a depreciation in the value of the dollar,” he said. Pressed by interviewer Erik Schatzker, he said “you easily could have a 30 percent depreciation in the dollar through that period of time.” For context, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 8.5 percent in 2017, and that was considered massive.

It all leads up to this critique of how the U.S. has gone on a borrowing binge in recent years. Remember, the $15.3 trillion Treasury market was the $4.9 trillion Treasury market a decade ago.

“We have the privileged position of being able to borrow in our own currency because we have the world's leading reserve currency. We are risking that by our finances — in other words, borrowing too much.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unfunded liabilities are not only a US problem but are something that governments right across the OECD will need to eventually address. Ray Dalio’s view that the rise in populism we are seeing today is a symptom of a wider problem gels with my own. Considering we are seeing this disaffection with the status quo during an economic expansion where unemployment is low, it is likely that the jump to the fringes of the political spectrum will only intensify during a recession.  



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September 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wage Growth is breaking out

September 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Honey, I shrunk the stock market

This report from Navallier Calculated Investing is a promotional piece but it contains a number of interesting charts and statistics relating to share buybacks. Here is a section:  

Apple had completed $200 billion in share buy-backs since 2012. Apple’s cash hoard is so monstrous that six out of the 10 biggest share buy-backs in U.S. history were done by Apple. The $200 billion they’ve bought since 2012 is enough cash to buy all of Verizon, Coca-Cola, or Boeing. Chew on that for a minute.

Now, contemplate this: U.S. companies announced $201.3 billion in stock buybacks and cash takeovers in May 2018 alone. That’s a record monthly amount. Apple represents nearly half of that! Apple recently said it would buy back $100 billion more of its own stock. They didn’t specify when or how long that would take, but that’s about 10% of the market cap, currently at $1 trillion, the first trillion-dollar stock.

The buy-back announcements keep coming:
Broadcom (AVGO) pledged a $12 billion buy-back.
Micron (MU) pledged a $10 billion buy-back.
Facebook (FB) pledged a $9 billion buy-back.
T-Mobile (TMUS) pledged a $7.5 billion buy-back.
Qualcomm (QCOM) just upped the ante on their previous announcement to buy back $8.8 billion. On July 25th, 2018 QCOM said they would buy back $30 billion, more than 30% of the float!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Social media companies led an early pullback on the Nasdaq today as Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet were grilled in Washington. The questions being asked of these companies with regard to how they police their forums and the nature of the advertising being served to consumers/voters is understandably weighing on their performance. It is also leading to headlines along the lines of “technology stocks collapse” which if we look at the Nasdaq is clearly a case of hyperbole.



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September 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy Leaders Whipsaw Markets With Vows of Defiance, Reassurance

This article by Jerrold Colten and Kevin Costelloe for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The coalition government’s fiscal plans have been an investor focus all summer, with bond yields pushed higher in response to the coalition government’s expensive election promises. On Friday, Fitch Ratings cited budget concerns as it changed its outlook on Italy to negative from stable -- the overall grade remains two notches above junk.

Salvini said Monday afternoon that the budget would lower taxes and respect “all the rules,” toning down his earlier rhetoric challenging the European Union’s restrictions. The Italian 10-year bond immediately rose, sending yields down about 5 basis points to 3.18 percent. That compares with 2.7 percent on June 1 when the government was sworn in.

Finance Minister Giovanni Tria is fighting to contain public spending and he said in an interview with La Repubblica that bonds will rise further when investors see the details of the 2019 budget.

“Budget stability will be respected,” he said. Tria, an economics professor drafted at a late stage of the coalition negotiations, is trying to rein in the ambitions of Salvini and Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, though he lacks the political muscle of the two populist party leaders. The government is due to set new public- finance and economic-growth targets by Sept. 27 and submit a draft budget to the European Commission by Oct. 15.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I can’t help but think of the exchanges going on in Italy between the leaders of the two populist parties and their finance minister as the equivalent of a British Christmas pantomime. “Oh yes, we will” to which the only riposte is “oh no you won’t.”



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August 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Morning Tack "Leon Tuey Speaks!"

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Raymond James which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

The classic yield curve referred to in the above segment is the difference between the 30-year and the 3-month yields. The more popular measure is the 10year – 2-year spread. If we compare the two measures the former tends to be less volatile and the exact timing of when they invert also tends to be somewhat different with the longer-term spread being later. However, they are both reliable lead indicators of future recessions.



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August 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Atlanta Fed Chief Pledges to Oppose Hike Inverting Yield Curve

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

Investors see a 90 percent probability of a rate hike at the Fed’s meeting next month and around a 60 percent chance of a fourth move when officials gather in December, according to prices in interest-rate futures markets. As the view that the Fed will keep raising rates has grown, the yield curve has flattened, with short-term yields rising more than long-term ones.

Bostic, together with several other regional Fed chiefs including St. Louis’s James Bullard, Robert Kaplan in Dallas and Minneapolis’s Neel Kashkari, have used this year’s flattening curve to argue that the central bank should tread warily in raising rates all that much further to avoid an inversion.

History is on their side: Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has always tumbled into recession within a year or two of the curve flipping.

“There are many, many signals in the economy and we have to pay attention to all of them,’’ Bostic said. “This yield curve will be one.’’

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question facing central bankers as they retreat from extraordinary monetary stimulus is whether the next recession will be a recuperative measure which would help unwind excesses or whether it would represent the dawn of another credit crisis?



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August 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stock Bulls Often Return When Emerging Markets Get This Cheap

This article by Srinivasan Sivabalan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

When emerging-market stocks trade this cheap relative to U.S. equities, a rebound is normally in order.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has traded at a discount to the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index since 2006, but for the past five years its relative valuation has held within a range, with its price-earnings ratio fluctuating between 25 percent below the U.S. gauge at the best of times and 33 percent during the worst.

The index, the benchmark gauge of developing-nation equities, typically bounces back in a matter of weeks once it reaches the floor. That was certainly the case on three previous occasions: at the height of the Russian currency crisis in 2014; in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s December 2015 decision to raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade; and at the end of the technology sell-off last year.

The index closed at a valuation ratio of 66.37 percent on Friday, or a discount of 33.63 percent to U.S. stocks based on price-to-estimated earnings. On Monday, it rallied 1 percent, the best one-day gain in six weeks.

Still, past rebounds are no guarantee of future performance and the environment remains fragile for emerging markets.

Investors can’t know how ugly the U.S. trade war might get, how deeply Fed interest-rate increases will affect developing-nation currencies or where the next political shock will come from.

But for those convinced of the investment case for emerging markets and willing to wait for the right valuation to resume buying, this could be the moment. Stocks are as cheap now as at any time in the past five years.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Relative comparisons are always tempting to look at because of historic comparisons but ratios can self-correct in a number of different ways. To say emerging markets are at close to record lows against Wall Street today say as much about how high Wall Street is as it does about the rout in emerging markets.



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August 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Builders Tap Local Bonds at Record-Low Rates on Easing

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

Combined bond maturities in onshore and offshore markets for the sector amount to $76.5 billion through the end of 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Builders are expected to tap both markets to meet the refinancing needs.

"We expect onshore issuance will remain strong after a pick-up in recent months," said Franco Leung, property analyst at Moody’s Investors Service. "Offshore issuance slowed recently, but we expect issuers will continue to tap the offshore bond market given the maturity walls in the coming 6 to 12 months.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China came down hard of local currency debt issuance from 2015 when it looked like the pace of property market price appreciation was going to cause a bubble from already elevated levels. That action was the causal factor behind the growth of the shadow banking system and the massive growth in foreign debt sales.



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August 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A dangerous bubble in corporate debt

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from the New York Times which may be of interest. Here is a section:

To help pay for its recently completed $8 billion buyout of the margarine and spreads business of Unilever — since renamed Flora Food Group — KKR, the private equity firm, offered investors 1.1 billion euros (about $1.3 billion) of senior notes with a minimal covenant package. Moody’s rated it 4.99 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the weakest. Nevertheless, investors gobbled them up.

Or consider the mighty AT&T — now stuffed to the gills with an estimated $180 billion in debt following its $85 billion acquisition of TimeWarner. It is, according to Moody’s, the “most indebted, nongovernment controlled, nonfinancial rated corporate issuer” and one now “beholden to the health of the capital markets.” In other words, the company is so indebted that chances are high it will need continuing access to the credit markets to refinance and pay back its mountain of debt as it becomes due.

So-called junk bonds — issued by companies with poor credit ratings — historically have yielded around 10 percent or more, to compensate investors for taking the risk of buying the debt of such companies. These days, junk bonds yield around 6.25 percent, meaning that investors — still desperate for yield — have overpaid for these bonds sufficiently to drive down their effective yields to levels that fail to compensate them for the risks they are taking.

When junk bond yields return to more normal levels, as interest rates rise and investors’ yield-fever breaks, the price of the bonds bought during the feeding frenzy will fall and billions of dollars stand to be lost — by endowments, pension funds and high-yield funds, among others — as bonds across the board are repriced by the market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A quip from my time at Trinity College was “you go to university to drink from the fountain of knowledge, and you drink and you drink and you drink” When I think about the influence quantitative easing has had on corporate treasury activities that is what I am reminded of.  



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August 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Must Shield Periphery From Speculation, Italy's Borghi Says

This article by Lorenzo Totaro for Bloomberg highlights some of the anxieties the Eurozone’s periphery are experienced as the ECB’s bond purchase program winds down. Here is a section:

With investors turning against Turkey, the government in Rome is trying to avoid Italy being next in line. Italy has had contacts with the ECB to discuss the risk of a speculative attack on its debt, a person familiar with the situation said earlier on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio sought to tamp down concerns of a selloff. “I don’t see a real risk that this government will be attacked, it’s more a wish of the opposition,” Di Maio said in an interview with newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“All know the fence that protects the prey will soon be lifted and the financial speculation easily sees the periphery’s debt as an easy target and is positioning itself ahead of the next developments,” lawmaker Borghi said. "It is significant that an external event like Turkey that has nothing to do with Italy unleashes such an effect.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Italian bond yields are an outlier within the Eurozone not least because the populist government has been signalling it wants to break the ECB’s fiscal deficit rules and its bonds have been punished accordingly. 



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August 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia Holds Key Rate as Central Bank Sounds Caution on China

This note by Micheal Heath for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:  

The RBA has kept rates low in expectation the stance will gradually tighten the labor market and spur wage gains sufficiently to drive faster inflation. But outside strong economic growth and increased demand for construction workers amid an infrastructure boom, there are few signs of this emerging.

“The bank’s central forecast for the Australian economy remains unchanged,” Lowe said. “GDP growth is expected to average a bit above 3 percent in 2018 and 2019. This should see some further reduction in spare capacity.”

The RBA maintains its next move is more likely to be up than down; Lowe, since taking the helm in September 2016, has consistently said that an increase will only come once the economy is near full employment and inflation closer to the central bank’s 2-3 percent target midpoint. Markets aren’t pricing in a rate increase for at least another year, according to bets by swaps traders.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia’s population hit 25 million this year which highlights how quickly the numbers of migrants reaching the country have risen. That inward flow of migrants coupled with robust demand from China for the country’s primary exports has helped to keep Australia’s growth trajectory on an expansionary path for decades.



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July 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review July 17th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.



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July 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jeffrey Gundlach Says We're Getting Closer to a Recession

Thanks to a subscriber for this interview of Jeff Gundlach which appeared in Barron’s and may be of interest. Here is a section:

We are getting closer to a recession. When the curve goes flat from the two-year Treasury to the 10-year [meaning that the yields are identical], the recession risk is at least a year away. Recently, that spread was 28 basis points [hundredths of a percentage point], which is pretty close to being flat. It is flashing yellow. It needs to be respected. The other reason to think 2019 might be more problematic is that quantitative tightening has just started. The Fed has started to let bonds roll off its balance sheet [the central bank isn’t buying new bonds when many current holdings mature]. Several billion dollars of bonds per month are coming due, but by October the amount will be up to $50 billion per month.

At the same time, the Fed has said it intends to keep raising interest rates, probably twice more this year. That, together with the signal from the yield curve and perhaps $600 billion of quantitative tightening, and a budget deficit that is growing, is an issue. The strangest thing is that Congress passed a $280 billion tax cut and spending increases so late in the cycle, and with interest rates rising. It’s like a death wish. The U.S. is taking on hundreds of billions of dollars of debt while raising rates, which means our debt-service payments are going to be under serious pressure to the upside.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A PDF of the full article is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The simple conclusion is often the most useful. The Federal Reserve, and other central banks, are taking away the proverbial punch bowl and that will eventually lead to a recession. Central bankers are generally a cautious group of people so they usually wait until they have ample evidence to support the view that their stimulative measures worked before raising rates. That often means they are late in tightening and have to play catch up.



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July 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Strategy Q3 2018

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Erste Group which may be of interest. Here is a section on the Eurozone:

We expect GDP growth in the euro zone to stabilize in the second half in range of around +0.4% to +0.5% q/q. The recent weakness in the euro should support export growth, even though the trade dispute is certain to weigh on foreign trade. A sustained steady uptrend in credit growth in the household and corporate sectors should support growth in domestic demand and investment spending in H2. We are forecasting GDP growth of +2.3% for the euro zone in 2018. 

We expect consumer price inflation in rise moderately in 2018 to an average of +1.6%. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the extent to which the ongoing recovery will be reflected in higher core inflation rates. The trend in core inflation was at times below expectations, inter alia due to the regional fragmentation of the labor market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

It is arguable whether the European Union is ready for the end of quantitative easing but the ECB is ending its quantitative easing program anyway. It has legitimate concerns about the distorting influence of negative yields on both the economy and the bond market. However, it is quite likely that the end of purchases will have deleterious effect on the economy and most particularly for the peripheral economies.



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July 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review June 22nd 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

I realise this summary at 4600 words is getting rather lengthy which is why I decided to right another book to more fully explore the issues represented by the rise of populism and what that means for markets and the global economic order. I’ve agreed an August/September deadline so hopefully it will be available this year.



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July 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China in Ten Charts A New Impossible Trinity

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from ANZ which may be of interest. Here is a section:

However, China faces a new policy trilemma: if President Xi Jinping truly prioritises reforms over growth, we must see more corporate defaults or foreign borrowing. But if the government does not want higher offshore USD debts, they must sacrifice some growth. They can’t have all three. 

Removing the implicit government guarantee is a necessary evil. Since the national fiscal audits in 2013 and 2015, the central government has tried to detach itself from ill-defined liabilities, notably the local government financing vehicles (LGFVs). 

This is done via taming shadow lending (slide 5). Since these activities were a key funding source for LGFVs, SMEs, and other borrowers which major banks do not serve, we must see credit spreads surge as a result of the deleveraging process (slide 6).

Many corporates opted to borrow from offshore (slide 7) in 2017. However, the rapid rise of foreign debt has triggered policymakers’ concern (slide 8). In Q1 2018, China’s foreign liabilities hit a record high of USD1.8trn (29% y/y), extending its uptrend since Q1 2016. 53% of it was USD debt and 64% were short-term debt. Meanwhile, Q1 also saw China’s first current account deficits since 2001 (slide 9). Going forward, the outlook for China’s FX reserves position deserves attention. 

We believe that slowing GDP growth is not a risk; the temptation to pump prime the economy is. The RRR cuts in April and July are unlikely to be monetary policy responses to growth risks. Any impact from the US-China trade war is still insufficient to halt the deleveraging process (slide 10). Thus, we believe the cuts are a response to the normalised ‘M1-M2 gap’ (slide 11) which indicates shadow lending is under controlled. Chinese regulators are tackling credit allocation on banks’ balance sheets under the flag of ‘structural deleveraging’. GDP growth will still slow (ANZ: 6.3% for H2, slide 12). Market sentiment will be poor. But targeting growth over reform will be worse, in our view.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to full report and section from it is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China has banned borrowing in US Dollars and it is closing off funding to highly leveraged regional governments, infrastructure projects and businesses. At the same time, it is allowing the default rate to rise. If we were asking where borrowers are supposed to get the funding they need to refinance or continue operations, we have our answer. Defaults are going to rise further.



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July 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Tesla is doing everything to get Model 3 cars out the door

This article by Dave Gershgorn for Quartz may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In an effort to drastically ramp up production, Tesla employees are now tinkering with the core designs of the Model 3 car and the production process, detailed by a New York Times report (paywall), something that experts say is unprecedented. Executives at Tesla decided that the car didn’t need so many spot welds holding the underbody together, so engineers found 300 “unnecessary” welds and reprogrammed the welding robots cut them from the production process.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla made its 5000 cars a week target but if the company is cutting corners in manufacturing what are the safety implications of that decision going to be for the thousands of people waiting in line for the Model3?



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June 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Now Merkel's Adversaries Face Ultimatum to Back Down on Migrants

This article by Arne Delfs, Birgit Jennen and Patrick Donahue for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Merkel and other European Union leaders defied expectations to forge an accord early on Friday, putting the onus on Bavaria’s ruling CSU party that sought the clash. Its leaders must now decide at a meeting Sunday whether to risk a historic breakup of the party bloc that’s governed Germany for most of the time since World War II or beat a face-saving retreat.

With migration hard-liners Italy and Austria backing a coordinated European approach at the summit, the CSU appeared increasingly isolated before deciding whether to defy Merkel and start sending back asylum seekers at the German border who already registered in another EU country. Polls suggested public support for the Bavarians’ stance is waning.

“At this point, the CSU can’t afford to dig in against a compromise,” Juergen Falter, a political scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, said by phone. “They’d come across as troublemakers.”

As investors welcomed the summit result, the CSU said the deal addressed concerns about migration it has raised for a long time. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the biggest party in her governing coalition, rallied behind the chancellor.

“Now these measures actually need to be implemented,” Alexander Dobrindt, the CSU caucus leader in the German parliament, said in a statement. The Bavarian party will review the summit deal “very thoroughly,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no more useful political manoeuvre than the “bait and switch”. It seems any politician who wants to stick around needs to master it and Italy’s populists are obviously quick studies.  By focusing on immigration rather than tax cuts and spending, the new Italian administration threw focus onto Angela Merkel’s less than comfortable position on the topic of migrants and diverted attention from the looming wall of debt Italy needs to refinance.



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June 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the yield curve spread:

Article in yesterday’s NYT. Is this the predictor of a recession that will follow trade wars?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this article which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

There is an argument to be made against reading too much into the yield curve’s moves — and it hangs on the idea that, rather than the free market, central banks have had a big influence on both the long-term and short-term rates.

Since the last recession, central banks bought trillions of dollars of government bonds as they tried to push long-term interest rates lower in order to lend a helping hand to the economy.

Even though they’re reversing course now, central banks still own massive amounts of those bonds, and that may be keeping long-term interest rates lower than they would otherwise be.

Also, the Federal Reserve has been raising short-term interest rates since December 2015 and has indicated it will keep doing so this year.

So, if long-term rates were pushed lower by central bank bond buying, and now short-term rates are being pushed higher as the Fed tightens its monetary policy, the yield curve has nowhere to go but flatter.

“In the current environment, I think it’s a less reliable indicator than it has been in the past,” said Matthew Luzzetti, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank.



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June 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on central bank balance sheets:

Thanks for a wonderful service Eoin. I'm probably splitting hairs here but one thing has been bothering me lately: to me you seem a bit early in declaring the central banks' total balance sheets as contracting. The US is on a modest reducing mode while the rest are steady/still increasing. The total balance chart is USD denominated, which explains the decline that shows on the chart when dxy has rallied over the last few months. On a bigger picture scale, CB balances tend to increase as the underlying economies grow. Or am I missing something here? All the best.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which highlights some important points. There is little doubt that the US Dollar has been resurgent over the last few months and that will certainly have played a role in the contraction of the total assets on central bank balance sheets.



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June 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Baby Boomers Strains U.S. Welfare Programs

This article by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The surge of retiring baby boomers is reshaping the U.S. into a country with fewer workers to support the elderly—a shift that will add to strains on retirement programs such as Social Security and sharpen the national debate on the role of immigration in the workforce.

For most of the past few decades, the ratio of retiree-aged adults to those of working age barely budged. In 1980, there were 19 U.S. adults age 65 and over for every 100 Americans between 18 and 64, census figures show. That number—called the old-age dependency ratio—barely edged up over the next 30 years, rising to just 21 retiree-aged Americans for every 100 of working age in 2010.

But there has been a rapid shift since then. By 2017, there were 25 Americans 65 and older for every 100 people in their working years, according to new census figures released Thursday that detail age and race for every county. The ratio would climb to 35 retiree-age Americans for every 100 of working age by 2030, according to census projections released earlier this year, and 42 by 2060, though currently unforeseen factors could alter that.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Labor Force Participation rate has been relatively static for much of the last couple of years and that is despite the pick-up in economic activity from the tax cuts and the tightness in the labour market. The retirement of baby boomers is a logical explanation for why the measure is not rising.



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June 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review May 16th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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June 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Truckers Protest High Gas Prices in Spotty Strikes Across China

This article by Te-Ping Chen for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

While trucker protests in China have occurred in the past amid complaints of road tolls, fuel prices and excessive fees, Geoff Crothall, spokesman for the labor monitoring group, said he couldn’t recall trucker protests of a similar scale. He estimated thousands of truckers participated.

As they have the world over, gas prices have risen in China this year, by 8.6%, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Taxes and other fees generally make gas more expensive in China than the U.S., and on top of that the government sets the prices, lagging changes in international oil markets by 10 days or more.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission, which sets those prices, announced Friday that it would cut the retail price of gasoline and diesel by 130 yuan ($20.29) per ton for gasoline and 125 yuan per ton for diesel. The new prices, effective this past Saturday, reflect a recent retreat in global oil prices. In the central province of Anhui, a transportation hub where protests occurred, gasoline now costs $3.99 a gallon, and diesel $4.04 a gallon.

Rising fuel costs have elsewhere prompted worker frustrations to spill over, most notably in Brazil, where protesters blocked highways and halted shipments of food, fuel and medicine before the government called in the military to help end the strike. Other trucker protests have also recently broken out in Iran.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Trucking has been all over the news recently with strikes in China and Brazil over high fuel prices and low pay while the USA is in dire need of 50,000 drivers.  These trends point to the fact the USA is close to full employment so attracting workers is becoming an issue while all three countries share upward pressure on wages. Higher shipping rates are inflationary because it will put pressure on companies to cover the increasing costs by raising prices for the end customer.



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June 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Indian inflation

Hi Eoin Like most of your subscribers I avidly follow your video commentaries. In yesterday’s broadcast while discussing India I was a little surprised that you did not mention the effects of the Monsoon on the economy which is starting now. Latest predictions are for an above average monsoon which is of course highly significant for food prices and thus for inflation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email which may also be of interest to the Collective. The RBI raised rates today for the first time since early 2015 signalling what appears to be the beginning of a new tightening cycle. It is to be hoped that the monsoon will in fact come in above par which would moderate inflation, but I believe the more pressing issue right now is the relative stability of the currency which as recently as mid-May was testing its all-time lows.



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June 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB bond buying under scrutiny from Rome

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from the Financial Times confirming the ECB has reduced purchases of BTPs following the Italian election. Here is a section:

The central bank purchased a net €3.6bn of Italian government debt under its long-running programme in May, new figures show. Although this is higher than the amount it bought in some recent months, such as March and January, it was smaller as an overall proportion of its net purchases.

The ECB insisted that the reduced Italian share had nothing to do with political events, and was purely linked to practical issues such as the need for the bank to reinvest in German bonds after a chunk of its holdings matured.

But the numbers were nonetheless seized on by members of Italy’s new governing parties, who have been arguing for weeks that the eurozone’s central bankers have been putting pressure on them to adopt more conventional economic policies.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Italy is understandably sensitive to the actions of the ECB. Not only has the ECB’s bond buying program contributed to Italy benefitting from negative yields on the short end of the curve but it has reduced borrowing costs right across the curve.



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May 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Italy

I have read with interest many comments regarding the difficult situation that has developed in Italy, and I feel I have to make a couple of points which I hope will help clarifying some aspects of it:

1/ of the 2 so called populist parties (Lega and M5S) only the former had an explicit anti-EU bias during the election campaign, while the latter had moved to a pro-EU stance; the alliance formed past the elections included a marked anti-EU stance (specifically through the appointment of an anti-Euro candidate to the Ministry of Finance); This is of course unacceptable (the coalition has no anti-EU mandate), hence the decision to appoint someone else with a short mandate to take the country to new elections where Italy's position in the EU is openly and explicitly debated. Was an anti-EU coalition to be elected of course they would be in power, there is no shadow of doubt about that. So, no democratic deficit here, in fact there is an extremely robust democratic process in place.

2/ There is no doubt the current events are an existential threat to the Euro area; it will be difficult to navigate, as a "quitaly" would have an extremely dramatic impact on the lives of many people in the country. I hope qualified majorities will be required to take the most important decisions, but given the pressure from financial market I doubt it will be possible; on the other hand, was a government to unilaterally pull the plug on the Euro and re-introduce the Lira, I think it would be nothing short of a coup.

With no further EU reforms, I think the spreads we have seen opening between BTPs and Bunds are deemed to stay. The ECB won't add additional risk to that already present into its balance sheet. However, I do not see how any reform could take place given the current anti EU climate. I am very pessimistic.

Finally, 2 interesting articles I wanted to share with you, one from the FT suggesting there is convenience for leaving the Euro (I share this view 100%, completely absurd), and another suggesting some reforms the EU could do. I hope they can be of interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this educative email. I found the analysis of the competing desires of the League and Five Star Movement to be highly instructive. I agree there is an internal conflict between an openly Euro-sceptic party and one which wishes to remain inside the EU, but the Italian president is taking a serious risk in shooting down the proposed candidate for finance minister.



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May 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How to Save Europe

This transcript of a talk George Soros gave for Project Syndicate may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But since the financial crisis of 2008, the EU seems to have lost its way. It adopted a program of fiscal retrenchment, which led to the euro crisis and transformed the eurozone into a relationship between creditors and debtors. The creditors set the conditions that the debtors had to meet, yet could not meet. This created a relationship that was neither voluntary nor equal – the very opposite of the credo on which the EU was based.

As a result, many young people today regard the EU as an enemy that has deprived them of jobs and a secure and promising future. Populist politicians exploited the resentments and formed anti-European parties and movements.

Then came the refugee influx of 2015. At first, most people sympathized with the plight of refugees fleeing political repression or civil war, but they didn’t want their everyday lives disrupted by a breakdown in social services. And soon they became disillusioned by the failure of the authorities to cope with the crisis.

When that happened in Germany, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) rapidly gained strength, making it the country’s largest opposition party. Italy has suffered from a similar experience recently, and the political repercussions have been even more disastrous: the anti-European Five Star Movement and League parties almost took over the government. The situation has been deteriorating ever since. Italy now faces elections in the midst of political chaos.1

Indeed, the whole of Europe has been disrupted by the refugee crisis. Unscrupulous leaders have exploited it even in countries that have accepted hardly any refugees. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán based his reelection campaign on falsely accusing me of planning to flood Europe, Hungary included, with Muslim refugees.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The expansion of social programs and rising debt commitments to help pay for them over the last thirty-five years resulted in a narrowing of political choice with parties in power bunching around conventional centrist policies.  The response of the status quo to the credit crisis was to double down on the policies they had employed over the last decades which was to massive increase debt and foist private sector responsibilities onto the sovereign.



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May 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy Bond Rout Driven by Liquidity Vacuum as Buyers Vanish

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

“This isn’t a deep liquid market anymore,” said Peter Tchir, the New York-based head of macro strategy at Academy Securities Inc. “Everyone was overweight, positioned long Italian debt and the price declines created a hot potato down in prices. The volatility was so insane that people’s risk managers likely just told them you have to cut these positions.”

Helping to escalate investor fear was the fact that the European Central Bank, the region’s most captive and price-insensitive buyer, may be stepping away from the market later this year, Tchir said.

BlackRock’s Scott Thiel, who has been short Italian bonds, or BTPs, since before Italy’s March 4 vote, on Tuesday cited poor trading volumes as being behind the “extraordinary” moves in the securities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The slew of regulation that has curtailed proprietary trading at major investment banks while boosting the ranks of compliance officers means that banks are less well equipped to offer support during times of market stress when a big balance sheet is required to take the other side of a trade. Right now, the ECB is the buyer of last resort in the Eurozone.



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May 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

They're Whispering the D-Word in Asia's Junk Market

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

Actually, it’s China’s fault: Non-investment-grade issuers from the mainland have already raised more than $30 billion, following a record $77 billion last year. China Inc. now has half the weighting of the Bloomberg Barclays Asia USD High-Yield Bond Index.

So if China sneezes, the rest of Asia gets sick. Global fund managers hesitate to deviate substantially from their benchmarks; the most likely action is fleeing the asset class altogether. Already, in the last month, global funds pulled more than $5 billion from emerging-market bonds, data provided by Jefferies Group show. 

And it looks like China may be catching something worse than a little cold: The feared D-word is being whispered. Beijing has already allowed China Energy Reserve & Chemicals Group Co. (which counts state oil behemoth China National Petroleum Corp. as a major stakeholder) to default, as well as a financing vehicle in Inner Mongolia. Will the authorities blink if private-sector enterprises miss their obligations? 

China is now on track to achieve an unhappy annual record. There have already been 19 bond defaults this year, totaling $3.1 billion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China needs to allow defaults. The environment that existed previously where the government back stopped just about every form of egregious lending created an unsustainable level of risk in the shadow banking sector. Allowing defaults is a big part of trying to institute discipline in investors minds.



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May 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Petrobras Punished by Wall Street for Caving on Fuel Prices

This article by Peter Millard for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The reaction was swift and severe. Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente woke up this morning to a wave of downgrades from the same Wall Street analysts who had been praising him since he took the helm of the state-controlled oil producer two years ago.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG all cut their recommendations after Parente announced a 10 percent cut in wholesale diesel prices late Wednesday to help the government negotiate an end to a nationwide truckers strike that has wrought havoc on Latin America’s largest economy.

“The just announced diesel price reduction in response to truckers’ protest is likely to materially damage Petrobras’ perceived independence in a way that may be difficult to recover,” Frank McGann, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, wrote in a report where he cut his recommendation on the company’s American depositary receipts to neutral and his price objective to $17.

“We think that the investment case for Petrobras has been seriously damaged, and the risk profile has risen.”

While Parente said Petrobras isn’t bowing to pressure and that the temporary measure doesn’t mean a change in its pricing policy, shares extended losses in after hours trading to as low as $13.40 in late New York trading.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Petrobras is a major constituent in global high yield benchmarks so its decision to cut price against a rising oil price environment is not especially good news. Along with Turkey and Argentina, the risk in the high yield sector has increased this year.



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May 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interesting charts May 23rd 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

10-year Treasury yields fell back to test the psychological 3% today. The Fed’s Minutes highlighted less urgency to tackle the inflation rate coming in mildly ahead of target. That eased fears the yield would surge higher imminently. An overextension relative to the trend mean is evident, so there is scope for an additional pause in this area but a sustained move below 2.7% would be required to question supply dominance.



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May 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Turkey Central Bank Raises Interest Rates to Halt Lira's Slump

This article by Onur Ant and Benjamin Harvey for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Turkey’s central bank raised interest rates to halt a slide in the lira that’s seen the currency post a series of record lows.

The central bank raised its late liquidity window rate by 300 basis points to 16.5 percent, after an extraordinary meeting of its monetary policy committee on Wednesday to “discuss recent developments.” It kept other rates unchanged, describing the move as a “powerful monetary tightening” and saying it’s ready to continue using all instruments.

The lira reversed Wednesday’s losses after the bank’s move. It was trading 0.7 percent stronger at 4.6367 per dollar as of 7:32 p.m. in Istanbul. The currency earlier fell as much as 5.5 percent.

The central bank acted after three weeks of turmoil on Turkey’s currency markets. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s seeking re-election next month, has publicly opposed any moves to raise interest rates, while investors and economists argued that was the only way to halt the rout.

Erdogan told Bloomberg in an interview this month that he’ll seek more control over monetary policy if he wins the vote.

The central bank’s rate-setting committee hadn’t been scheduled to meet until June 7. After news broke of its emergency session on Wednesday, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Twitter that it’s time to restore the credibility of Turkey’s monetary policy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Lira has been accelerating lower and dropped to test TRY5 to the US Dollar this morning, before the central bank finally intervened by raising the interest rate. 16.5% represents a substantial premium over anything available in Europe and is aimed squarely at stemming foreign capital flight.



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May 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Campbell Soup May Be Downgraded by Moody's Amid CEO Departure

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

Moody’s Investors Service said it may cut Campbell Soup Co.’s credit rating after the company posted a steep drop in profitability and its chief executive officer suddenly stepped down.

All of the company’s ratings are under review, including its Baa2 senior unsecured rating, Moody’s said in a report Monday. That’s only two steps above speculative-grade. Moody’s did not say how many levels the downgrade could amount to.

Campbell Soup has short- and long-term debt of $9.84 billion and its leverage as measured by debt-to-Ebitda -- earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization -- was about five times at the March closing of the Snyder’s-Lance Inc. acquisition. Moody’s says it’s now doubting that the company can meet its expectations to reduce that metric to below four times within two years via cash flow and cost savings.

“The sharp and unexpected decline in profitability in the third quarter casts serious doubt that Campbell will be able to meet its deleveraging plans following the Snyder’s-Lance acquisition,” Moody’s analyst Brian Weddington said in the report. “Additionally, the departure of the CEO adds further uncertainty about whether the company will respond successfully to its operating challenges in the near term.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Campbell Foods is not a dividend aristocrat because there have been occasions in the last 30 years when it cut the dividend. On each of those occasions it stopped raising the payout before the decision to cut. That is at least part of the reason that the share has been falling over the last year but does not explain the fall from the peak in 2016.



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May 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy's President in Spotlight as Government Quest Turns Chaotic

This article by John Follain for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

Italian President Sergio Mattarella takes center-stage as he weighs whether to give law professor Giuseppe Conte a chance to lead a populist government following a last- minute wobble over the candidate’s suitability for the post.

Mattarella is due to announce his decision as early as Wednesday after Conte, 53, was put forward by Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant League. A flurry of reports in Italian media cast doubt on Conte’s premiership before it even began, prompting Five Star and the League to reaffirm Conte’s candidacy on Tuesday evening.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The marriage of two populist parties which are essentially from the two opposing extremes of the populist field i.e. cut taxes versus boost benefits, is proving more fraught with difficulty than might initially have been apparent. They are still likely to try and install a compromise candidate but there is no doubting that strong personalities are to the fore.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on valuations, Dow/Gold and anti-trust:

Thanks for your comments which are very interesting, especially your focus on technology and its potential to alter radically the investment landscape.

I have 2 points of my own to make. Using gold as the standard of value for stocks is interesting but I would think valuation metrics are more useful. As you know the Shiller PE, derived by comparing the S&P to the 10-year moving average of real corporate earnings- GAAP (not adjusted)- is at the highest level since the TMT bubble popped in 2000. The ratio of market value (the Wilshire 5000+) to GDP was at all-time highs in January. We have lived through a decade of extraordinary monetary policy (almost zero interest rates and QE), which is now being reversed. I think S&P market value to S&P sales may also be at all-time highs, but I may be wrong about that.

So the starting point is pretty rich. The PE is at 25 times 4 quarter GAAP earnings, implying a 4% earnings yield. The Moody's Baa 20-year bond yield is around 4.6% so the equity premium has been negative the last 5-6 years for the first time since 1961 when the Bloomberg series started. On average equity holders over this period have earned a premium of 1.62% to reward them for investing in the riskier part of the capital structure, but now they must pay for the privilege.

However, this does not address your major point about the enormous earning potential of companies involved in future technology. Now a standard criticism of your point is that competition between businesses will reduce the excess profits to "normal profits". What economists call "consumer surplus" consists of the extra value that is transferred from businesses to consumers for free due to the operation of the competitive market which eliminates excess profits.

This flows from the ideal world of independent competitive enterprises. Anti-trust laws in the USA have been around since 1890 (Sherman Anti-Trust Act) and were designed to cause real world behaviour to better approximate the theoretical. 

What I have found interesting is that Anti-Trust is no longer as big a deal as it was when I was a student. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg testified he named 5 or 6 tech companies that are competitors of Facebook's. In this list he mentioned WhatsApp and another company (Telegram?) that he has already bought and perhaps one or two others. He also mentioned Skype, which Microsoft has bought. The big tech companies have the where with all to buy smaller rapidly growing companies and maintain tight oligopolies and thus earn outsize profits. I doubt whether many of these purchases would have passed muster from the Department of Justice's Anti-Trust division one or two generations ago.

So the key may be to watch politics and see whether the populists at some point turn their attention to Anti-Trust.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email which has given me much food for thought. As you point out there is a tendency among the producers of widgets to encounter competition which reduces the price to often unprofitable levels. At that point some of the weaker producers go out of business and a process of consolidation unfolds. The competitive Amazon marketplaces is a good example of this where producers of widgets compete on price to gain market share only for many to disappear after a relatively short time to be replaced by lower cost producers.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day another email on the CAPE and the merits of cash

In your 30th April response to my email, you say as follows "The only problem I have with comparing the current environment to that which prevailed from the early 1960s is that the market spent 13 years ranging from 2000 to 2013 so it would be unusual to begin another similar range so soon after the last one ended"

My response:  Yes, it is true that it would be unusual to "commence a similar such range so soon after the last one ended."  However, in this circumstance, there are a range of other very unusual related circumstances.

In the last 10 years, we have had a unique period of historically extreme money printing with very little consumer prices inflation as measured by the official CPI number, but this extreme period of money printing has caused very high asset price inflation - pushing many sectors back up into fairly extreme valuations as measured by historical norms.

We can also look at this phenomena from another. If we look at Professor Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio series commencing 1880, we can see that secular bear markets have typically ended with a single digit CAPE - at the end of a secular bear market, the cyclically adjusted P/E has been in the range of 5-7 in 1982 and 1921.

By contrast, the January 2018 peak in the US cyclically adjusted P/E of 33 was the second highest instance since 1880 - only being surpassed by the dot com peak in 2000 but surpassing the 1929 peak by a small margin.

So, by this (Shiller CAPE) normally fairly reliable valuation measure, the US share market on broad averages is at a fairly extreme level. I think it is fair to say that if you buy expensive assets, you should expect poor to bad average real returns over the following 10 years or so.

One last point to you 30th April comments, to the section where you say "The stock market is a better hedge against inflation than bonds because companies have the ability to raise prices and therefore dividends while bond coupons are fixed."  In a period of rapidly rising inflation like the 1970s, all listed securities including shares and bonds tend to do poorly because of the rapidly rising discount that needs to be applied when valuing such assets. By contrast, in Australia at least, during the 1970s, cash and hard assets like gold and commercial property were better investments. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this riposte to my answer to your original question posted in Comment of the Day on April 30th.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beyond the Dollar Everything's Just Noise for Emerging Markets

This article by Netty Ismail, Ben Bartenstein, Lilian Karunungan and Alex Nicholson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The combination of higher debt levels and share of debt denominated in foreign currency means many emerging markets are now more exposed to dollar appreciation than in 2009, amid signs the robust growth in developing economies may be slowing, the Institute of International Finance said in a May 17 note.

While the U.S. Treasury will sell some of its largest offerings since 2010 this week, a slew of Fed speakers may reiterate plans for gradual rate increases.

The selloff in developing nation currencies is hurting other assets.

Emerging-market local-currency government bonds declined for a sixth week, the worst run since 2016. Developing-nation stocks retreated 2.3 percent last week.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The last time there was angst expressed at the impact a resurgent Dollar would have on emerging markets was in 2015. The same arguments are being made today and it appears that the figures for US Dollar denominated debt are even higher.



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hands Tied and Swords Bent, Emerging Markets Battle the Dollar

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

But that’s not the ominous undertone. It’s about how the traditional fortifications of emerging markets -- strong oil and commodity prices -- are failing to protect developing-nation currencies from the onslaught of a stronger dollar.

Look at the chart below. In January, developing-nation currencies and commodities fell together and rose back in tandem. But this time, while the Bloomberg Commodity Index is extending gains, currencies have collapsed. This divergence suggests that a strong U.S. dollar is more decisive for risk appetite than commodity prices.

That’s bad news for countries such as South Africa and Russia. The ruble, for instance, is now moving in the opposite direction to oil even though it’s the country’s biggest export earner. Their usual positive correlation was destroyed by a four-day decline in the currency in the wake of enhanced U.S. sanctions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Dollar’s rally is resuming with some of the most pressured emerging markets being forced to raise rates aggressively to stem declines. Argentina’s 40% repo rate is beginning to have the desired effect but it is one of a very small number of currencies that was able to squeeze out a rally against a resurgent Dollar today.



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review April 10th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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May 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Villeroy Sees Rate Hike Quarters, Not Years, After QE

This article by Piotr Skolimowski, Jana Randow and Alessandro Speciale for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

European Central Bank policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the institution’s first interest-rate increase could come “at least some quarters, but not years” after policy makers end their bond-buying program.

In an interview in Paris, the French central banker played down concerns about the euro area’s first-quarter economic slowdown and signaled that the ECB is still likely to halt quantitative easing this year. He said inflation will resume its acceleration in coming months, with underlying price pressures set to strengthen as the bloc’s temporary weakness passes.

“We will probably give additional guidance for the end of the year for the timing of the rate hike and the contingencies,” Villeroy said in a Bloomberg TV interview with Francine Lacqua.

“We’ll see exactly how we formulate it. We’re predictable, and it’s a clear virtue of our gradual normalization path, but we are not precommitted.”

ECB policy makers have yet to formally discuss the future of their QE program. Purchases are currently scheduled to run until at least September, totaling more than 2.5 trillion euros ($3 trillion), and officials expect interest rates to stay at current record lows until “well past” the end of net buying. Maturing debt will be reinvested.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It could be argued Germany, Netherlands and maybe Austria are ready for higher interest rates. Since together they make up a substantial proportion of the Eurozone economy that is what the focus of ECB actions is likely to be.



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May 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy Set for New Government -- Then a Snap

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

5. Who would likely win?
Opinion polls show the League -- the rebranded, formerly secession Northern League, once known for deriding residents of the country’s south as beggars, thieves and good-for-nothing rednecks -- has gained the most from two months of bargaining. Its support rose to 24.4 percent from 17.4 percent in the March vote, according to an SWG opinion poll carried out May 3-6. Five Star is still the biggest single party, slipping half a percentage point to 32.2 percent. (A center-right alliance including the League and the Forza Italia party of Silvio Berlusconi, the four-time former prime minister, rose to 38.5 percent from 37.1 percent.) If Salvini’s League strengthens in the next election, he could decide to break with Berlusconi and finally form a coalition with Di Maio. This time around, Di Maio’s insistence on excluding Berlusconi was a primary obstacle to a populist coalition government.

6. Why does this matter?
Italy is facing political decisions and economic problems that affect other nations too. At more than 130 percent of gross domestic product, Italy’s debt is second-highest in the euro area, after Greece. The European Commission called the debt “a major source of vulnerability” for Italy and has been overseeing the country’s efforts to reduce spending. Underlying problems remain in Italy’s banks, including cronyism with many lenders too entwined with politicians, unions and foundations of all shapes. Mattarella has warned that the timing of the next elections could jeopardize the 2019 budget, which has to be approved by the end of the year, and unsettle financial markets. And nobody’s fully forgotten Five Star’s past talk of a referendum on leaving the euro.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Small political parties seem to have learned that the only way they will ever succeed in ousting the status quo is to refuse to be co-opted. If we look at the history of coalitions, the insurgent party does well until they give up on their ideals for a chance to hold power. They then get lumped in with the status quo for any egregious activity that occurs during government and subsequently get annihilated at the next election because their support base feels betrayed. The Five Star Movement’s refusal to enter government with Silvio Berlusconi is an example that they have learned this lesson.
 



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April 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the long-term outlook and potential for inflation

In your 10/April long-term themes review, you said: "So, the big question many people have is if we accept the bullish hypothesis how do we justify the second half of this bull market based on valuations where they are today? ..... However, the answer is also going to have to include inflation. "

My thoughts, not in any particular order:

If we look at Robert Shiller's research ~1870-now, on the US share market, his studies show that historically, extreme valuations in the US share market (as assessed by cyclically adjusted P/E ratio) have always been followed by poor average real return over the following 10-20 years."
You point to inflation as to how a secular bull market (in nominal terms implied) can now occur for the US share market (by implications I think you are reflecting on the US share market) over say the next 10-15 years (say).  You use the experience of Argentina and Venezuela as justification for your argument - where from memory, there was hyperinflation in the periods to which you refer.

First, I do not think you are suggesting hyperinflation for the USA .... mismatch 1.
For Argentina and Venezuela, I think their currencies also crashed. I do not think you are suggesting the US dollar is going to crash. Possible mismatch 2.
Rather than a comparison with Venezuela and Argentina, perhaps a better analogy is to the period in the USA following the late 1960s, when US share markets where at quite high valuations (though not nearly as expensive as now on a CAPE basis). Following the peak valuations of the late 1960s, the US share market went sideways (with some large dips) over the next 16 years or so.

In summary, I am not sure that your argument is particularly robust.  Yes, the technological revolution is a critically important new phase which will have a huge impact over the next 10 and 20 years..... and there may well be a secular bull market in that sector ... but does that really mean that the technology sector by itself will take the whole S&P500 with it in a secular bull market for the next 10 or 20 years?

Your thoughts?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which gave me plenty of room for thought. My first reflection is that one of the benefits of this service is the Socratic dialectical method unfolds in real time as these big topics offer endless room for discussion and revision. I spent a good deal of time talking about long-term cycles in the Big Picture Video on the 27th which you may find of interest. 



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April 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why High-Flying U.S. Home Prices Are About to Get Another Jolt

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

The framing of homes, or putting up roofs and walls, accounts for 15 percent of the cost of construction. A composite measure of the cost of lumber for framing rose 16 percent from December to March, according to data from Random Lengths, a publisher of information on wood products.

And it’s not just lumber. A Labor Department gauge of prices paid at the producer level for construction inputs -- everything from particleboard and plumbing to concrete and insulation -- was up 5.1 percent in March from a year earlier, the biggest annual advance in nearly eight years.

So far, neither higher home prices or a four-year high in mortgage costs have been enough to dissuade buyers. Results of the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index on Tuesday showed 1.7 percent of the group’s respondents in April planned to purchase a new home in the next six months, matching the highest share in this expansion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The falling cost of mobile phone tariffs are what helped to keep inflationary pressures under wraps last year. However, that effect will fall off the gauge for the March reading which will be released on May 1st. Meanwhile, the range of new inflationary pressures on the horizon continue to increase.



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April 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Quarterly Review and Outlook

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Hoisington Investment Management which doubles down on a bullish bond view. Here is a section:

The law of diminishing returns is already evident in all major economies as well as on a global scale (Table 1). Global GDP generated per dollar of total global public and private debt dropped from 36 cents in 2007 to just 31 cents in 2017. Diminishing returns is even more apparent in the case of China’s public and private debt, largely internally owned. In terms of each dollar of debt, China generated 61 cents of GDP growth in 2007 and only 33 cents last year. In other words, in the past ten years the efficiency of China’s debt fell 45%. Thus, even in a command and control economy, the law of diminishing returns prevails. The most advanced sign of diminishing returns is in Japan, the most heavily indebted major country, where a dollar of debt in the last year produced only 22 cents of GDP growth. This economic principle applies equally to businesses.

All economies rely heavily on the business sector to lead the growth process. Yet, a sharp decline in GDP per dollar of business debt occurred in the U.S. during the past nine years, reinforcing the underlying trend since the early 1950’s. In 1952, $3.42 of GDP was generated for every dollar of business debt, compared with only $1.39 in 2017. In the corporate sector, where capital as well as technology is most readily available, GDP generated per dollar of debt fell from $4.50 in 1952 to $2.50 in 2007 to $2.21 last year. The dismal trend in productivity confirms this conclusion. The percent change for productivity in the last five years (2017-2012) was equal to the lowest of all five-year spans since 1952. It was also less than half the average growth over that period.

Conclusion Important to the long-term investor is the pernicious impact of exploding debt levels. This condition will slow economic growth, and the resulting poor economic conditions will lead to lower inflation and thereby lower long-term interest rates. This suggests that high quality yields may be difficult to obtain within the next decade. In the shorter run, in accordance with Friedman’s established theory, the current monetary deceleration, or restrictive monetary policy, will bring about lower long-term interest rates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This is the most commonly espoused view for why bond yields cannot rise. After all, with so much debt, the potential for growth to underperform and quantitative tightening there is a logical argument for why interest rates should stay lower for longer. However, there are other factors at work which this view does not take account of.



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April 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBoC cuts RRR to avoid over-tightening

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

The PBoC announced it will cut reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 1 ppts for most banks by next week. RRR will be reduced to 16% for big banks and 14% for mid and small banks (Figure 1). This will inject some 1.3tn new liquidity into the banking system. Banks are asked to pay off some 900bn balances from the medium-term lending facility (MLF) on the same day. Net liquidity injection of about 400bn will largely go to small city and rural banks. Lastly, the PBC asks these banks to use the new funding mainly for lending to small businesses.

We believe the RRR cut should not be seen as a change of monetary policy stance. The economy is doing well; growth stayed strong at 6.8% in Q1, supported by consumption and property investment (see our note here). Hence there is no need to loosen monetary policy. Indeed the OMO rates were raised just last month (Figure 2). We do not expect PBC to cut policy or OMO rates in the coming months. If anything, OMO rates may be raised further.

The main purpose of the RRR cut, in our view, is to avoid over-tightening on small banks and small businesses. The PBoC will continue to tighten financial regulations and deregulate interest rates under the leadership of the new government. This will lead to higher funding costs, particularly for smaller banks who do not have large deposit base and rely on wholesale funding. Meanwhile, tightening financial regulations, including the expected new regulation on asset management, will affect the shadow banking business. Banks are pressured to move their off-balance sheet lending back on balance sheet (Figure 3). Small businesses are more severely affected in this process, as they have limited access to regular bank loans and rely more on shadow banking. The RRR cut will mainly benefit smaller banks and, with the guidance on lending, will help relieve financing difficulties faced by small businesses.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This statement is the first signal since Xi became dictator that the Chinese administration is paying attention to the market and role of investors in reflecting the outlook for the economy. The cut to the reserve requirement demanded of banks is a positive step for the sector since it has been in a corrective phase since the beginning of the year.



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April 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on inflationary expectations

I'm starting to think more and more that we are likely heading into an environment of inflation and slow growth - Stagflation. I emailed you back on February on this topic. Thought you would enjoy this interesting note attached from Ben Hunt’s “Epsilon Theory”.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this edition of Ben Hunt’s letter which is always an entertaining read. Here is a section I found educational:

The inflation narrative hit markets in force after the January jobs report of February 2, where wage inflation came in “hot”. It subsided with the “Goldilocks” jobs report of March 9, where wage inflation was “contained”, and the jobs report of April 6 did little to reignite the inflation narrative. But here’s the thing. The wage inflation numbers for the past two months are wrong, crucially flawed by random differences in work-week hours from last year to this year (for more, read “The Icarus Moment”). On an apples-to-apples basis (average weekly earnings, not average hourly earnings), wage inflation in February was 2.9%, not the reported 2.6%, and wage inflation in March was 3.3%, not the reported 2.7%.

My view: the inflation narrative will surge again, as wage inflation is, in truth, not contained at all.



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March 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric Cars May Be Cheaper Than Gas Guzzlers in Seven Years

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

Electric cars may be cheaper than their petroleum counterparts by 2025 if the cost of lithium-ion batteries continues to fall.

Some models will cost the same as combustion engines as soon as 2024 and become cheaper the following year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. For that to happen, battery pack prices need to fall even as demand for the metals that go into the units continues to rise, the London-based researcher said on Thursday.

The clamor to roll out electric vehicles has grown louder as countries and companies race to clean up smog in their cities and hit ambitious climate goals set by the Paris Agreement. U.K. lawmakers started an inquiry into the market in September, probing the necessary infrastructure and trying to determine whether to bring forward the 2040 deadline to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has one major undeniable achievement to its name. It made electric cars sexy. Before Elon Musk delivered his roadster, electric vehicles were a hard sell, plagued by perceptions of inconvenience. However, in little more than a decade, they have become so desirable that just about every car company is planning on investing billions in manufacturing capacity.



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March 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Higher Libor-OIS Is New Normal But Don't Fret, Says CS' Pozsar

This article by Liz Capo McCormick for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“BEAT is forcing foreign banks to substitute FX swaps with unsecured funding and also leads to temporary overfunding on the margin,” he wrote. “BEAT explains why cross-currency bases are tighter while Libor-OIS is wider, and also introduces upside risks” to the forward Libor-OIS spread, he wrote.

The gauge measuring where Libor-OIS is seen moving in coming months -- the June FRA/OIS spread -- reached about 54 basis points this month, from around 18 at the end of last year. It retreated to 44 basis points Friday.

The impact is strongest in foreign-exchange swaps because the shift is creating excess funding for those headquarters.

That cash is being lent into the foreign-exchange swaps market, preventing the basis from narrowing for now, wrote Pozsar.

Total excess funding that may build up at headquarters of European, Japanese and Canadian banks with branches and broker- deal affiliates in the U.S. could tally as much as $450 billion, he estimates. To the extent that this money had been raised in FX swaps at headquarters, the change may reduce demand for dollars via the basis swaps market, he says.

Even without the tax effect, Libor has been rising amid a deluge of Treasury-bill issuance since the U.S. debt ceiling was raised in February, which has helped drive bill rates to the highest since 2008. The increase has forced banks to boost commercial paper rates to lure buyers.

“BEAT is redistributing pressures from the cross-currency basis to the Libor-OIS basis,” Pozsar wrote. “The pressures we should be seeing in cross-currency bases from bill issuance are showing up in the Libor-OIS basis instead. This suggests Libor- OIS could widen more from here.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The pop is overnight index swap spreads since the beginning of the year has a lot of people thinking about what this all means. The most visceral memory everyone has of the LIBOR-OIS, or the FRA/OIS spread which is the equivalent, is the surge in unsecured paper funding costs that were associated with the credit crisis back in 2008. So, the big question is whether that is relevant today?



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review March 7th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a brief summary of my view at present.



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March 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality

This report from Bain & Co. by Karen Harris, Austin Kimson and Andrew Schwedel may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

We expect the magnitude of workforce change in the 2020s to match that of the automation of agriculture from 1900 to 1940. However, the transition of farm workers into the industrial sector was spread out over four decades. In the case of the automation of manufacturing, the impact was over a shorter time period (roughly 20 years), but the share of labor force in manufacturing jobs was relatively small in the US. Investment in automation is likely to proceed moderately faster than agricultural automation or manufacturing automation unless other forces act to impede its progress, and it will affect a larger percentage of the total workforce.

The tension between the push to offset slowing labor force growth with automation and the pull to slow automation's rollout to prevent massive disruption will play out over the next 10 to 20 years. But once the first companies begin deploying new forms of automation, others are likely to follow suit rapidly to stay competitive.

The base-case scenario
Based on the magnitude and speed of change, our base-case scenario could result in about 2.5 million jobs per year lost or not created because of automation. Previous transformations provide an interesting comparison. The automation of agriculture transformed national economies and disrupted labor markets, culminating in the Great Depression. But if that event occurred today, scaled to the current population and labor force, it would displace 1.2 million workers per year. The rate of reabsorption from the automation of agriculture was about 700,000 workers a year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Technology is disruptive and inherently deflationary. The rise of the robot represents a significant secular theme and for the millions of workers who are going to be affected their only resource is likely to be at the ballot box.



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March 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pimco Sells Australia Banks, Property Bonds as Risks Climb

This article by Ruth Carson and Andreea Papuc for Bloomberg market be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Risk assets are vulnerable to a correction as valuations approach fair value, Thakur and John Dwyer, vice president and credit research analyst, wrote in a report.

“This risk becomes more important as we transition to a period of gradual tightening of monetary policy by global central banks,” according to the report. Asset prices offer little buffer to the risk of possible shocks resulting from negative growth surprises or higher-than-expected inflation, they said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australian government yields share a high degree of commonality with those of other developed market nations. The 10-year has been ranging below 3% since 2015 and over the course of the last month has pulled back to test the region of the trend mean. With inflationary pressures being more of a fear than a reality at present there is scope for some further steadying in the market.



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March 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gundlach Disagrees with Mnuchin and Powell

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Robert Huebsche for Advisor Perspectives summarizing Jeff Gundlach’s talk for DoubleLine clients yesterday. Here is a section:

He said that deficits have historically shrunk in non-recessionary periods and risen during recessions. “We are late in the economic cycle,” he said, “and it is unusual that the deficit is expanding.” He said that this is driven by political reasons, and noted that the fact that we are adding stimulus “has never happened before.”

Deficit problems will move to the forefront by the end of this year, he said. The deficit is getting a lot worse and there will be “a lot of bonds supplied to the market,” he said. The supply of bonds was about $650 to $700 billion in 2017, he said. It will be $1.2 to $1.3 trillion in 2018, in addition to quantitative tightening (QT) as the Fed contracts its balance sheet, according to Gundlach. There could be another $600 billion in tightening, he added.

If there is a recession the deficit will get worse, he said, but QT will stop. Either way, investors should expect $2 trillion in supply.

”If quantitative easing (QE) was a tailwind for financial assets, then QT must necessarily be a headwind,” he said.

The unique conditions that prevailed in 2017 are over, Gundlach said. The VIX is above 17, he said, which is higher than at any time in 2017. “We have lived the entire last month and a half at VIX levels higher than in 2017,” Gundlach said. As a result, the markets turned in the greatest Sharpe ratio ever in 2017, but he said that has flipped in 2018.

“We’ve gone from an easy to a very tough investing environment,” Gundlach said.

Gundlach predicted that the S&P 500 will have a negative rate-of-return this year. “My conviction is high,” he said, “higher than that the 10-year yield will break to the upside.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full deck of Gundlach’s slides is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The S&P500 is currently up 2.88% this year but it hit at least a near-term and potentially medium-term peak in January following a brief acceleration of the two-year uptrend.



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March 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bigger U.S. Auctions in Shorter Time Seen Boosting Yields

This note by Brian Chappatta for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bond traders have to contend with both larger auction sizes and a condensed schedule when the U.S. Treasury sells $28 billion of three-year notes and $21 billion of 10-year notes on March 12. To JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists, that combination signals a weak reception. Last month’s offerings, the first since 2009 to increase in size, priced at yields higher than the market was indicating heading into the sales. The 3- and 10-year auctions are usually spaced out over two days, but when they came on the same day in December, yields also missed higher.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bull markets don’t often end because demand evaporates. They usually end because the surge in prices encourages supply into the market and that eventually overwhelms demand. There is no shortage of new supply, in fact the USA’s decision to double its deficit is the latest in a long line of issuers who have been locking in low rates. The fact that one of the biggest buyers, the Fed, is now a net seller, should be giving investors pause when thinking about the value represented by bonds at close to 3%.



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March 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Draghi Says Euro-Area Turnaround Warrants Policy Dial-Back

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

The European Central Bank unexpectedly dropped a pledge to ramp up bond buying if the economy deteriorates, saying the turnaround in the outlook has given it to confidence to change a key part of its monetary-policy guidance.

In what the ECB President Mario Draghi said was a unanimous decision, policy makers in Frankfurt surprised investors by ending an easing bias on quantitative easing, effectively a conditional promise to increase debt purchases in “size and/or duration” if needed. But he said downside risks remain, and added rising trade protectionism to the list of threats.

“These are unlikely contingencies now, the ones that would suggest that we would activate this easing bias,” Draghi said Thursday. The language “was introduced in 2016 -- think about how different the situation was at that time.”

The revision coincided with an upgrade to the ECB’s outlook for 2018. At the same time, Draghi emphasized that, currently scheduled to run at a monthly pace of 30 billion euros ($37

billion) until at least the end of September, will continue until inflation is solidly back on track toward its goal.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB is edging towards the exit of quantitative easing. First, they put an end date on purchases, now they are removing the proviso that purchases will be increased and in September they will cease to add €30 billion to their balance sheet. This timetable is subject to the belief that the economy will continue to improve.



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March 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the yield curve spread and medium-term outlook for bonds

I just have a couple of queries for you:

Where can I find the US yield curve spread chart (10yY-2yY) in your chart library?

Based on expected MT to LT yield rising environment, should I keep my PIMCO income Fund (Global Investor Series Plc), or dispose of it? 

Thank you and best regards 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which may be of interest to other subscribers. I created this video to discuss both how to create the chart and save it as a preset template for when you want to find it later which I hope will be of use to you. 



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March 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Paul Tudor Jones on Jerome Powell

Thanks to a subscriber for this note which may be of interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to Tudor-Jones comments are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The market has long relied on the assumption that in a crisis the Federal Reserve will wade in to the rescue by boosting money supply and helping to reflate asset prices. However, it is not until a crisis occurs that investors truly knew whether Greenspan, Bernanke or Yellen had their backs. Jerome Powell is a lawyer, rather than an economist by training, and has yet to be tested. Therefore, investors do not know how he will react in a time of market stress. That remains an uncertainty that is being priced into this market.



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March 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dogmas of the Quiet Past, Why Higher Rates are on the Horizon

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Pamela Rosenau which appeared in Forbes. Here is a section:

For starters, history tells us that the dynamics of the supply and demand for money are relevant for determining an appropriate level for interest rates. The Federal Reserve is decreasing the supply of money by tapering their balance sheet, while the demand for money will increase with the latest bout of expansionary fiscal policy (i.e. tax reform). Professor Lars Oxelheim of the Financial Times, recently wrote how historical precedence has shown how this supply/demand shift can lead to significantly higher interest rates over a short period of time. Of course, this would impact the valuation of all asset classes as discount rates head higher. Market strategist Dave Rosenberg recently added that “we have a government policy that is aimed at pushing fiscal deficits higher and pulling trade deficits lower. Say this over and over again – these two goals can only co-exist with rising interest rates.”

Also, who is going to stroll in on their white horse and be the new big US treasury bond buyer? We know that the Fed is pruning their bond portfolio. After all, newly installed Fed Chairman Powell showed his true colors six years ago when he warned of the “Greenspan put” and its implicit encouragement of risk taking. Considering his concerns back then, I cannot imagine him being overly dovish given the valuation excesses in our environment today. Furthermore, the Chinese could play monetary hardball as a response to any hostile U.S. trade actions and choose to mitigate their participation in our auctions, thus causing a sudden spike or pernicious reset in interest rates. Frankly, Xi Jinping has a license to do whatever he wants at this point.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Let’s lay aside for a moment the arguments about whether inflation is in fact rising or not, or whether we can expect all of the deflationary forces that have contributed to the decades long decline of yields to continue. Let’s just devolve to the first principles of markets. There are more sellers than buyers.



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March 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Italian Elections Matter: A New Type of Populism Is Rising

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

The election is likely to prompt a question that could force 5 Star to define its future—and potentially that of Italy, too. Is it a governing force or simply a protest movement?

On one side are members, including Luigi Di Maio, the party’s 31-year-old candidate for premier, who are pushing it to join an alliance with mainstream parties. According to polls, 5 Star would receive about 27% of votes—not enough to govern alone, but potentially enough to play a major part in a coalition government.

Mr. Grillo has roundly rejected that scenario, saying that unless 5 Star wins an outright majority, it should remain an opposition party. Joining a coalition government is “like saying that a panda can eat raw meat,” he said in January. “We only eat bamboo.”

If no single party or coalition emerges with a parliamentary majority, Italy’s president could ask parties to attempt to form a grand, cross-party coalition that could have a limited lifespan.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This history of protest parties that enter government as part of a coalition is not favourable so Grillo is exhibiting political savvy in eschewing the temptation to enter power without a majority. However, Italy’s political system is so fractured that receiving a majority is a tall order which suggests the most likely scenario is another coalition that supports the status quo or limited reform at best. Nevertheless, until the event has passed it will continue to represent an uncertainty.



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February 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Poison We Pick

This article by Andrew Sullivan for the New Yorker offers a particularly lucid account of the opioid epidemic in the USA. Here is a section: 

One of the more vivid images that Americans have of drug abuse is of a rat in a cage, tapping a cocaine-infused water bottle again and again until the rodent expires. Years later, as recounted in Johann Hari’s epic history of the drug war, Chasing the Scream, a curious scientist replicated the experiment. But this time he added a control group. In one cage sat a rat and a water dispenser serving diluted morphine. In another cage, with another rat and an identical dispenser, he added something else: wheels to run in, colored balls to play with, lots of food to eat, and other rats for the junkie rodent to play or have sex with. Call it rat park. And the rats in rat park consumed just one-fifth of the morphine water of the rat in the cage. One reason for pathological addiction, it turns out, is the environment. If you were trapped in solitary confinement, with only morphine to pass the time, you’d die of your addiction pretty swiftly too. Take away the stimulus of community and all the oxytocin it naturally generates, and an artificial variety of the substance becomes much more compelling.

One way of thinking of postindustrial America is to imagine it as a former rat park, slowly converting into a rat cage. Market capitalism and revolutionary technology in the past couple of decades have transformed our economic and cultural reality, most intensely for those without college degrees. The dignity that many working-class men retained by providing for their families through physical labor has been greatly reduced by automation. Stable family life has collapsed, and the number of children without two parents in the home has risen among the white working and middle classes. The internet has ravaged local retail stores, flattening the uniqueness of many communities. Smartphones have eviscerated those moments of oxytocin-friendly actual human interaction. Meaning — once effortlessly provided by a more unified and often religious culture shared, at least nominally, by others — is harder to find, and the proportion of Americans who identify as “nones,” with no religious affiliation, has risen to record levels. Even as we near peak employment and record-high median household income, a sense of permanent economic insecurity and spiritual emptiness has become widespread. Some of that emptiness was once assuaged by a constantly rising standard of living, generation to generation. But that has now evaporated for most Americans.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The hollowing out of the middle class might be a handy soundbite but what if it can be taken literally? Escapism is part of the human condition and the spectrum of distractions we pursue is indeed influenced by the health of our individual social settings. 



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February 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Will Quantitative Tightening (QT), which is deflationary in theory, be inflationary in practice?

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Viril's Sokolof for 13d.com which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

It is equally noteworthy that most of the peaks in M2 velocity shown in the prior chart, with a couple of exceptions, occurred when the U.S. dollar was in protracted bear markets from 1972 to 1980, 1985 to 1995 and 2002 to 2008. Moreover, the first and third of those down-cycles was marked by generally-rising yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries. In other words, one could argue that rising UST yields were a symptom of capital flowing out of the dollar, which contributed to a higher cost-of-money and higher inflation.

These relationships shed some insight into the idea that tighter monetary policy — reflected in the slowing growth rate of M2 and the onset of the Fed’s balance-sheet reduction — is likely to be inflationary in practice. When money supply growth slows and the demand for funds increases — such as with the $1 trillion-plus fiscal deficits we wrote about last week — the conditions are ripe for an inflationary surge and a falling dollar. One could also argue that this will be good for real assets (which were hurt by QE during 2010 to 2016) but bad for financial assets (which benefited from QE).

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Velocity of Money is reported quarter in arrears so it tends to be a lagging indicator but it did turn upwards at the last reading in December. It stands to reason that if the economy has less slack and the government is about to blow out its deficits then inflationary pressures rise. 



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February 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the potential for downtrends

Your recent assessments of the markets appear to be that a period of ranging is likely to be followed by markets going up again. Of course, whilst no one knows what the future will be, I wonder why you don't see the greater likelihood of markets turning down after some consolidation. With the amount of US debt increasing, interest rates increasing, and stock market levels already high by historical standards, are you not more concerned that markets, being forwards looking, might be more likely to head down than up? Esp. since markets struggle when interest rates go above 3%? I appreciate your talk of share rotation, but a rising tide lifts all boats and surely the opposite is true when markets tank?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which I think everyone asks from time to time. For someone in our position of attempting to forecast the outlook for markets the most important thing we have to remember is that markets rise for longer than they fall but when they fall they often do so quite quickly. However, they do not fall without first exhibiting topping characteristics. 



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February 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on stagflation

I have been a long-time subscriber and attended the Chart Seminar around ten years ago. Back then you were a young kid and David led the show. Showing no disrespect for David who admire greatly, you have become at least an equal when it comes to your daily audios. I found this weekend's long-term picture very interesting and well done. I think you have properly described where we are at presently and the likely outcomes in the medium and longer terms. I do get the sense over here in the US that we may be facing an environment of Stagflation. With rising inflation and what now looks like slower growth in the near term, combined with a shrinking Fed balance sheet and rising rates, we could be facing some real headwinds for equities. Can you share your insights on an environment of stagflation and what asset classes would generally over-perform and underperform if the past is a guide? Thank you and keep up the great work!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. David is a visionary I can only hope to emulate. Luckily, the reason we have always gotten along so well is because we share a very similar world view.

Tax cuts funded with debt, a potential infrastructure bill funded with debt and the prospect of tariffs on steel and other basic commodities all represent inflationary pressures. 



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February 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Low Will Retail Go? Look at the Railroad

This article by Stephen Mihm for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers

And that is the likely fate of conventional retail. Like the railroad, there’s an extraordinarily surfeit of retail space built with little consideration of what the market will actually sustain; recent declines in the retail revenue per square foot in brick-and-mortar stores suggests that things are getting worse, fast. And like the railroad, there’s a new way of doing business on the block, except that instead of changing how we move people and goods, online retailing promises a new way of delivering them to the end consumer. 

If the per capita retail footprint declined as much as the railroads did, it would fall all the way down to 2.82 square feet per capita. That’s a lot of empty malls and defunct big box stores, but retail won’t disappear any more than the railroads have gone extinct.

In fact, in 2014, the inflation-adjusted revenue that railroads earn per mile of track is 2.7 times what it was a century ago. More startling still, the so-called “ton miles” of freight carried on the nation’s railroads (a ton mile is one ton of freight carried one mile) has tripled since 1960, even as the total size of the operational railroad system has declined dramatically.

That points to the likely future of conventional retail: a drastic reduction in the per capita footprint, with the remaining stores capable of earning far more money per square foot. It’s not the brightest of futures. But it’s also not the end of the world.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Near where I live in Los Angeles, a large mall is close to shutting since it’s primary tenants, Macys and Nordstrom, have decamped to the newly refurbished Westfield mall in Century City near Beverly Hills. The two malls are about a mile apart but until a couple of years ago Macys seems to have been comfortable with the idea of having two large stores within close proximity of one another. In between the two malls the only businesses that have survived are universally service oriented. So, what is going to be done with all the empty commercial space sitting on valuable pieces of real estate?



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February 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiscal impulse update: Uncle Sam goes on a spending spree

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Dollar is weak, wages are rising, the participation rate has bottomed and unemployment is due to fall further. That is a recipe for inflation.

The surge in supply of Treasuries due over the course of the next few months and years, while the Fed is planning to further reduce the size of its balance sheet, represents additional downside pressure on Treasury prices over the medium term. 



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February 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cover title, initial cap only, goes

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from White & Case, focusing on the European leveraged debt market which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cult of the equity is largely a US, UK and Australian phenomenon. In Europe, bonds are still a popular asset class for retail investors. Retail investors in Italy will remember the reverse convertible products peddled by banks over the last couple of decades. The quantity of such products on the books of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena was one of the primary contributors to the bank’s eventual demise. If anything, this helps to emphasise the point that there is no shortage of dodgy products in both the bond and equity markets that tend to gain popularity when there is a dearth of yield.



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February 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The EU's Real Rule-of-Law Crisis

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

Northern European countries will argue that the key to making the EU more resilient is to ensure that existing rules are more effectively enforced. For example, the German, Dutch and Finnish governments have called for changes to the way the EU budget is administered to make future EU funds conditional on member states undertaking reforms that would boost economic convergence.

That will put them on a collision course with countries in Eastern Europe who fear that the EU budget will be turned into another tool to allow Brussels to interfere in their domestic politics.

It will also put them on a collision course with the French government, which believes that simply relying on stricter enforcement of rules to rebuild trust isn’t sufficient.

French officials argue that the answer is deeper political integration based less on rules and more on institutions. They point to the creation of the European Central Bank as an example of a significant pooling of sovereignty that was greeted with suspicion at first but has won broad public trust by operating independently and decisively. They say that a similar leap is needed now.

But to succeed, France will need to convince skeptical partners that any new institutions can be trusted to apply EU rules consistently and ensure member states respect their obligations—rather than deepen what has become the EU’s true rule-of-law crisis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The European Union has one set of rules for large countries and quite another for small countries. At the same time the national champions of large countries can act with impunity while just about everyone else is expected to abide by the mille feuille of bureaucracy spewing from Brussels. 



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February 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Faces Several 'Irreversible Negative Catalysts

This note by Esha Dey for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Tesla now faces a steady stream of severe and largely irreversible negative catalysts, including tax- credit expiration, broad competitive entry and platform quality issues, Hedgeye writes in a note.

Says TSLA’s demand is at risk; while the bull story is that "people want these cars," delays, competition and reliability are likely to jeopardize this assumption

Notes battery degradation, quality issues; says aging platforms are likely to become an increasing issue for would-be buyers

TSLA shares have dropped 11% since reporting 4Q results on Feb. 7 post-market vs the S&P 500 Index (SPX) falling 2.9% over the same period.

TSLA short interest 21.6% of free float vs year-low of 18.8% in Oct., high of 29.2% in April: Markit data

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla doesn’t make money so every source of fresh capital is important to the company. Having tapped the bond and equity markets the company began taking deposits for its Model 3 which the company counts as revenue. One might rightfully question the accounting integrity of that decision since these are deposits based on the assumption a car will be delivered. 



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February 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Key to Tesla's First-Quarter Output Goal Is Still in Germany

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

Tesla Inc. has all the tools to meet its planned Model 3 production rate in the first quarter. The only problem is they’re still in Germany.

The electric-car maker -- which is still targeting about 2,500 of the cars a week by the end of March -- has designed a new automated system for module production for its battery factory near Reno, Nevada. The line’s already working at its German Grohmann unit but it needs to be shipped to the U.S. next month before it can go into use, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said.

“That’s got to be disassembled, brought over to the Gigafactory, and re-assembled and then brought into operation at the Gigafactory. It’s not a question of whether it works or not. It’s just a question of disassembly, transport and reassembly,” he said on a conference call Wednesday. Once that milestone’s completed, Tesla will next need to fix material handling constraints at its Fremont, California, assembly plant before it can reach its 5,000-a-week goal by the end of June.

Tesla -- which has pushed back its Model 3 production targets several times -- is banking on the more affordable model to propel it from niche electric-car maker to mass-market manufacturer. The slower ramp means less money is coming in the door from customers taking delivery, and Wall Street is watching closely for any signs the targets could slip again.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The launch of the SpaceX' super heavy rocket was delayed on multiple occasions but suddenly everything seemed to go right ahead of the earnings announcement the day after. I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t see this as a coincidence. Tesla is attempting to build a world class heavy manufacturing centre from scratch which is no simple task and in doing so faced much greater competition than SpaceX does in launching rockets.



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February 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gilts Tumble as Bank of England Signals Faster Hiking Pace

This article by Charlotte Ryan and John Ainger for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The central bank left its rate at 0.5 percent as expected and raised growth and inflation forecasts. While the pound was boosted by the central bank’s tone, sterling could see gains tempered by the fact the BOE’s policy path remains closely tied to progress in the Brexit talks, according to Viraj Patel, a currency strategist at ING Groep NV.

In a press conference, Governor Mark Carney said that while the bank sees more tightening than it did in November, this was a “crucial” year for the Brexit negotiations and everyone would be better informed next year, which would have an effect on the central bank’s thinking. Rises will be gradual and the bank is not tied to a specific rate path, he said.

It was a “Brexit-contingent hawkish signal,” said Patel, among the most bullish forecasters on the pound. The greater prospect of a rate increase in coming months “reinforces our $1.45 target for cable in the first quarter of 2018.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Jacob Rees-Mogg has the wonderful luxury of not holding a ministerial position and can therefore say whatever he wishes. That straight-talking manner has made him a champion of the Conservative’s Brexit camp. Theresa May continues to walk a fine line between appeasing warring factions within her own party while also needing to keep Northern Ireland’s DUP onside in order to maintain her majority. 



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February 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Market's Long-Dormant Term Premium Is Finally Reviving

This article by Liz Capo McCormick and Luke Kawa for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

 

“We remain of the view that the U.S. term premium is still too low when conditioned against the macro outlook, and the uncertainty around it,” Francesco Garzarelli and his fellow strategists wrote in a note Tuesday. “We recommend preserving a short duration exposure and expect the rebuild of the term premium to lead to a steeper” U.S. yield curve.

Goldman Sachs issued a short recommendation for 10-year Treasuries in November, which the strategists maintain. The firm’s model for fair value -- given economic fundamental and the expected pace of Fed tightening -- has the note at 3.09 percent, compared with about 2.8 percent now.

The term premium is the extra compensation that buyers demand to hold longer-maturity debt instead of a succession of short-term securities year after year. A widely used valuation tool, it tumbled across world markets in the wake of the financial crisis as the Fed and its counterparts bought debt as part of stimulus measures.

The 10-year Treasury term premium is negative 0.29 percentage point, up from a record low of negative 0.84 percentage point in 2016. As the name implies, it’s normally positive.

Its increase in 2018 marks a departure from its typical downward trend during Fed tightening cycles. But much is different this time around -- namely, the central bank’s balance-sheet tapering.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed is buying fewer bonds and the Treasury is attempting to issue more. That is a recipe for yields to move higher. The imposition of deficit fueled tax cuts has reignited the prospect of the bond market taking issue with fiscal profligacy while the prospect of an additional infrastructure bill is likely to have an even greater deleterious effect. 



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February 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Risk Parity and new Central Bankers?

Eoin Treacy's view -

On Friday the bond market pulled back and so did the stock market.

That’s doesn’t happen very often.

Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater, one of the most successful hedge funds in the world, originated ‘risk parity’ to take advantage of the fact that bonds and the stock market seldom move in the same direction.

The whole rationale for the strategy is that when the stock market pulls back, investors will naturally seek a haven in the bond market. Dalio might have pioneered the approach but it has subsequently been employed across a wide swathe of the financial sector. A conservative estimate is more than $500 billion is devoted to this strategy.  



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January 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How have traditional safe haven assets been performing?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Three points agitated investors on the 30th and contributed the largest decline on the stock market seen in months. Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway announcing a plan to reduce healthcare costs for their employees hit the healthcare sector, there were fears that President Trump’s State of the Union address would focus on trade, the Dollar and China but the speech was noticeably light on these topics. Meanwhile any investment manager looking to sustain a 60/40 split in bonds to equities had until today’s close rebalance some of their overweight equities into bonds. 



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January 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what to do in the third psychological perception stage of a bull market:

After listening to the latest Long-Term Outlook broadcast in which you reiterated your view that we were in the final phase of a cyclical bull market and that while it was a time to be watchful, it was not a time to sell, I could not help thinking back to 2008 when David, in his daily audios, said on several occasions that he did not think the sub-prime crisis would amount to much.

Unless I'm much mistaken, he continued to make this comment until at least June. Around June 2008, I bought Citibank at $33 (equivalent to $330 today) yielding 7.5% - a bargain. They fell to $27 and I bought some more. Unfortunately, I lacked the guts to buy when they fell to $1 but I did add to my holding as the price steadied and rose - not much because I remained cautious (scared to death to be more truthful). Only this year has my Citibank investment moved into profit. I make these comments because as Sam Goldwyn famously said, 'forecasting is difficult, particularly when it's about the future'.

Like anyone else, I have no clue as to the timing, the depth or the length of the next correction or crash. However, without income flowing in from any source other than investments, I am now beginning to prune - or intending to prune: selling, as you know, is harder than pulling hens' teeth.

Why do I want to prune now? Because I do not want to be trying to raise cash when markets are plummeting. Some would argue that one should just hold through the corrections and crashes and I would agree with that - to an extent. My caveat would be that one must have cash to take advantage of the market swoons when they occur. If one remained fully invested from 1999 to the current time and lacked cash to add to the market in 2009 or 10, one's returns would not look overly good. So, I intend to increase my cash reserve now, probably top slicing tech, resources and China. If I wait for someone to ring a bell, or point out that chart patterns are deteriorating, the probability is that it will be too late.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this generous email which highlights a range of emotions and experiences that I believe will be valuable to the Collective. I agree breaking up is hard to do but the best time to take profits is when the market is accelerating higher. At least when you are taking profits, you are not buying more which is one of the biggest mistakes a long-term investor can make in an accelerating market. 



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January 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asia Outlook Rising Momentum, inflation emerging

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The USA led the world into recession in 2008 and out of it onto an historically lengthy expansion in 2009. The Federal Reserve started out on the road to normalizing policy last year and fiscal stimulus will be picking up some of the slack in monetary accommodation this year. The above statistics suggests at least some Asian countries are now following a similar trajectory. 



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January 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

German Yields Surge as Draghi Avoids a 'Strong Swipe' at Euro

This article by John Ainger for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full: 

German benchmark yields climbed to the highest level in more than two years after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi disappointed investors who had expected him to take a tough stance against recent euro strength.

Peripheral sovereign bonds led declines across the currency bloc as Draghi warned that foreign-exchange volatility required monitoring, but also noted that economic growth could surprise to the upside. With comments on the shared currency identified as the main barometer of the ECB’s thinking before the meeting, Draghi’s reluctance to take a tougher stance on the euro triggered the selloff in government securities, according to Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Draghi didn’t take a “strong swipe at euro strength” and “that has bled into rates,” said Richard Kelly, Toronto- Dominion’s head of global strategy. “He upgraded growth and hasn’t yet said anything new on inflation. So it all adds up to a slight drift higher for rates.”

German 10-year bund yields climbed four basis points to 0.63 percent as of 2:34 p.m. in London, after touching 0.64 percent, the highest since December 2015. Those on Italian peers increased six basis points to 1.96 percent, while comparable Spanish yields jumped six basis points to 1.42 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s a testament to how low yields are when a 2-basis point move can be described in headlines as a surge. Bund yields are now testing the upper side of a yearlong range and will need to sustain the move above 0.6% to confirm a return to demand dominance.



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January 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bond ETFs Awash in Pain May Be Red Flag for Risk Appetite

This article by Dani Burger and Sid Verma for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

“The tax package is probably giving institutional investors more confidence about the shape of corporate balance sheets,” said Matt Maley, a strategist at trading firm Miller Tabak + Co. “Thus they might be making up for the selling that is coming from these products geared towards individuals, who are worried about the rise in government yields.”

U.S.-listed corporate bond ETFs are headed for a second consecutive month of outflows, the first time that’s occurred in at least seven years. The pain is across ratings. The iShares iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF, LQD, had the biggest day of losses last week since 2016, while BlackRock’s high-yield equivalent, HYG, is in the midst of its biggest two-month outflows on record.

If the withdrawals are a symptom that retail funds are losing their taste for fixed-income, the impact could be far-reaching. A tweet from DoubleLine Capital LP co-founder Jeffrey Gundlach Thursday -- who has previously warned underperformance may portend a selloff for risk assets -- noted the gap between junk ETF prices and stock gains.

Eoin Treacy's view -

On Bloomberg TV yesterday I was asked to comment on the uptick in high yield spreads. It was unfortunate that I did not have access to the chart, because I was speaking into a camera, so I had to rely on memory. However, I find it interesting that the junk bond market is garnering attention right now because the move has been so minor.  



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January 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Doubling of U.S. Bond Supply Seen as a Threat to Global Rally

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

A “dramatic” increase in U.S. bond supply over the next year risks unhinging global markets from their bullish foundations, warns Torsten Slok at Deutsche Bank AG.

The supply of U.S. government debt will almost double to $1 trillion this year to finance a widening budget deficit as the Federal Reserve whittles down its holdings. Unless new buyers emerge, the overhang could be far-reaching.

“If demand for U.S. fixed income doesn’t double over the coming years then U.S. long rates will move higher, credit spreads will widen, the dollar will fall, and stocks will likely go down as foreigners move out of depreciating U.S. assets,” the chief international economist at the German lender wrote in a note Tuesday. “And this could happen even in a situation where U.S. economic fundamentals remain solid.”

Those fears aren’t shared widely on Wall Street, where spreads on corporate bonds have sunk to 2007 lows and bullish indicators abound. The rally in credit appears relentless, retail demand for bonds is insatiable and tax cuts may reduce corporate borrowing.

Commercial banks, emerging-market reserve managers and pension funds are all set to plug the $1.1 trillion hole in global bond demand left by central banks this year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The US Treasury has a great deal of debt that matures in 2018 as we approach the 10-year anniversary of the global financial crisis. That is at least part of the reason the Federal Reserve is paring its holdings of debt, with plans to roll-off about half of the total maturing this year. Nevertheless, that still represents over $200 billion, in addition to whatever is required to fund the deficit, that needs to be absorbed by the market this year. 



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January 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Just Markets

It was a pleasure to tune in to this conference call with Jeff Gundlach at DoubleLine and the firm kindly sent along the slides. 

January 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day China, Currencies, Inflation and Gold

In the video today, you emphasized the significance of recent moves by China regarding its currency and inflation.  These issues were discussed in length in a Mises Institute report which will be of interest to many readers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting article which is representative of monetary conservativism that is a central theme in decrying the loss of purchasing power in fiat currencies since the abandonment of gold as a monetary base. 



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January 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Euro Tests Three-Year High as End-of-Stimulus Fear Batters Bonds

This article by John Ainger and Samuel Potter for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The currency jumped, sapping stocks, and bonds slid as a slew of data signaled a potential uptick in inflation in the euro area, after manufacturing growth accelerated to a record in December. The numbers followed comments at the weekend from European Central Bank policy maker Benoit Coeure, who said that unless inflation disappointed there’s a “reasonable chance” the central bank’s extension of QE in October could be the final one.

While Coeure didn’t mention the exchange rate, his comments were a boon for euro bulls and coincided with a period of ongoing dollar weakness. The common currency’s strength is translating into a painful start to the year for Europe’s export-heavy stock markets, while bonds have picked up where 2017 left off, with benchmark German bund yields rising to the highest since October.

“The ECB suggestion that bond buying will not be extended is likely behind the recent push higher in the euro,” said Neil Jones, head of currency sales at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in London. “My sense is the euro will extend beyond its three-year high in the next two weeks.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

If I had to pick one market to watch on a daily basis in 2018 it is German Bunds. Germany has benefitted enormously from the ECB’s bond buying program and has enjoyed borrowing costs that were previously unimaginable. With negative yields on bonds out to seven-year maturities there is significant scope for re-rating when the ECB eventually exits its program. 



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December 28 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Italy's Gentiloni Says Election Campaign Is 'Imminent'

This article by John Follain, Lorenzo Totaro and Chiara Albanese for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The euro zone’s third-biggest economy, whose recovery is trailing most of its peers, risks a hung parliament after the ballot. Opinion polls show the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which wants a consultative referendum on abandoning the euro if European Union treaties aren’t renegotiated, leading Gentiloni’s Democratic Party and groups in a possible center- right coalition that would include former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

But neither Five Star, the Democrats headed by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, nor the center-right bloc would win a parliamentary majority, according to the surveys. A possible “grand coalition” of the Democrats and Forza Italia would not have a majority either.

“It’s virtually certain that we won’t have a clear majority,” said Sergio Fabbrini, director of the school of government at Luiss University in Rome. “The talks to verify whether a new majority can be formed could last until the summer. In Germany, the talks have dragged on for ages, and in Italy we may end up with about twice as many parties in parliament as in Germany.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Political sclerosis is nothing new for Italy. With little chance of a clear winner from elections, the country will continue to be rule taker rather than a leader in the discussions about how the EU can be reformed, which Macron wants to get started. 



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December 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

When Will the ECB Pull Its Trillions From the Markets?

This article by Jana Randow, Jeremy Scott Diamond and Hayley Warren for Bloomberg from a month ago is equally relevant today and piqued by interest. Here is a section: 

After three years of asset purchases, negative interest rates and cheap loans, the European Central Bank is finally confident that it has beaten the risk of deflation in the euro area. Now it’s time to start thinking about how to unwind those extraordinary measures.

It won’t be simple. The ECB’s mandate is to keep inflation just below 2 percent, but to judge its progress it looks at a range of key economic and market indicators.

In the first step toward the exit, policy makers decided to reduce monthly asset purchases by half starting in January and extend it for at least another nine months.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Federal Reserve is now shrinking its balance sheet, albeit slowly. The Bank of Canada has raised rates, the Bank of England reversed an interest rate cut while the ECB is tapering, China is holding at neutral policy on aggregate while Japan is the only major economy still engaged in monetary and fiscal stimulus. It is reasonable to say that synchronized global economic expansions is one the way to replacing synchronized global monetary expansion. 



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December 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Financial Markets in 2018: The Times They Are A Changing

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Pamela Rosenau for Forbes which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

As correlations among stocks and other assets classes break down, there will be a significant divergence in the performance of “quality” assets versus “junk” assets.  A prudent money manager should be prepared for this market shift by focusing on shorter duration assets, which goes for both credit and equities.  I expect longer duration equities, such as growth stocks with lower near-term earnings to underperform more value oriented stocks such as consumer staples, telecom, and energy sectors, on which I have focused.  Today’s market appears to be the inverse image to the early 1980s.  Back then, investors were misled into hiding out in cash as stocks were perceived as too expensive in a high interest rate environment.  Today, very few hold cash as stocks appear cheap relative to low bond yields.  This is a backward looking strategy derived from a relative value argument that is no longer operable.  I suggest more than a little risk aversion, as I have maintained, would be prudent in times like this.  As I have often said -- preserving capital is paramount, not winning friends. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Money has been pouring into ETFs over the last couple of years which is a testament to the success of the low fee argument, against a background where the success of momentum strategies has reduced the allure of stock picking. The success of the ETF business has contributed to the consistency of the trends evident on the primary Wall Street indices and the low volatility condition that has prevailed over the last six months in particular. 



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December 19 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Weidmann Predicts Wage Gains as He Seeks QE End-Date

This article by Jana Randow and Paul Gordon for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

European Central Bank policy maker Jens Weidmann reiterated his call for a definite end-date for the institution’s bond-buying program, a refrain that looks likely to gain traction among his colleagues next year.

Saying that domestic price pressures should strengthen as wage growth improves, he said they are “therefore on track toward our definition of price stability.”

While policy makers meeting last week reaffirmed their commitment to buy debt until September “or beyond,” officials including at least half the six-member Executive Board have signaled they’re willing to rein in expectations for another extension. The euro area is currently undergoing the broadest economic expansion in its history, and the ECB this month upgraded its growth forecasts for the bloc.

“A faster conclusion of net asset purchases and a clearly communicated end date would have been reasonable,” Weidmann, who also heads Germany’s Bundesbank, told reporters in Frankfurt late Monday.

Despite the upturn, the ECB remains well short of its inflation goal of just under 2 percent -- and Germany is a prime example of the conundrum. There, record-low unemployment and economic growth above its long-term potential has still failed to generate much in the way of wage growth. Weidmann said he’s confident that will soon change.

“We don’t get involved in wage bargaining and respect the independence of bargaining partners. But we expect that the increased capacity utilization and regionally appearing bottlenecks in some labor markets will lead to somewhat higher wage pressure,” he said. “That’s a projection, not a recommendation.’’

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s considered toeing the party line for a German central banker to talk about curtailing quantitative easing and raising interest rates. However, there is no denying that the European economy is benefitting both from the ECB’s purchase program and the return to synchronized global growth. A partial counter to that argument is Europe has some of the oldest average populations in the world which represents a challenge for stoking inflationary pressures. 



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