Investment Themes - China

Search all article by their themes/tags in the search area
below for example “Energy” or “Technology”.

Search Results

Found 711 results in China
September 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Unspoken Rules

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have been thinking a lot about the aspects of the market we all tend to take for granted. The types of conclusions we have been conditioned to draw, because that is always how markets work. It strikes me as a big question because we should be asking if these market norms are the result of the decades-long process of disinflation or are they rules that transfer between big secular themes.

The basic working hypothesis of the markets is the Fed will rescue its stock market. The EU will rescue its bond market and China will rescue its property market. The rationale for all three is the same. That’s what they have always done because those are the biggest asset classes owned by consumers in all three jurisdictions.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tycoon Running a Quarter of China's Copper Trade Is on the Ropes

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

 

Much as He’s rise was a microcosm of China’s economic boom, his current woes may mark a turning point for commodity markets: the end of an era in which Chinese demand could only go up.

“In some ways Maike’s story is the story of modern China,” said David Lilley, who started dealing with Maike in the 1990s, first as a trader at MG Plc and later as co-founder of trading house and hedge fund Red Kite. “He has skillfully ridden the dynamics of the Chinese economy, but no one was prepared for the Covid lockdowns.”

This account of He’s rise to the pinnacle of China’s commodities industry is based on interviews with business associates, rivals and bankers, many of whom asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

“Never mistake a bull market for brains” is one of the most useful adages in the markets. The challenge is that to make truly life changing money in a bull market one has to act as if it will never end. That implies loading up on leverage, making big bullish bets and never giving into doubt. In bull markets that last for a decade or more, the biggest gamblers look like prophets and are treated as such by the market. When liquidity conditions eventually change, that business model experiences significant duress.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Economy Shows Signs of Recovery as Stimulus Ramps Up

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

China’s economy showed signs of recovery in August as Beijing rolled out stimulus measures to counter a slowdown, although a property market slump and Covid outbreaks continue to weigh on the outlook.

Industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment all grew faster than economists expected last month. The urban jobless rate slid to 5.3%, while the youth unemployment rate fell from a record high.

The boost to retail sales was partly due to a lower base of comparison from a year earlier and a surge in car sales after Beijing gave buyers subsidies on electric vehicles. Industrial output was also supported by a big spike in electricity production during August’s heatwave, a rebound that’s unlikely to be sustained. 

Despite signs of improvement, the recovery remains fragile as Covid outbreaks spread to more parts of the country and the government tightens curbs to contain infections in the run-up to the Communist Party’s twice-in-a-decade leadership congress next month. A property market slump also shows no sign of easing, with separate data on Friday showing home prices have now declined every month in the past year, with the contraction in August bigger than in July. 

“While today’s data are better than expected, it’s unlikely to change the prevailing pessimism toward China, given the multiple headwinds underway including zero-Covid, property rout and the lack of decisive policy moves before the Party Congress,” said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group Inc. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s administration knows better than anyone that a property crash would represent an existential crisis for social cohesion. At the same time, they don’t want to allow a bubble to expand any further and have been trying to stamp out speculation. The conflict arises in the fact you can’t have a bull market without people willing to take risks. Building in the hopes of selling at a profit is speculative by nature.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future of Copper

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from S&P Global which may be of interest. Here is a section from the conclusion:

Notably, neither scenario assumes that the growth in new capacity—expansions and new mines—speeds up. Absent a major policy shift, however, regulatory, permitting, and legal challenges, combined with long timelines for new mines to come onstream, will continue to dampen the pace of supply increases. This supply-demand gap for copper will pose a significant challenge to the energy transition timeline targeting Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. The challenge will be compounded by increasingly complex geopolitical and country-level operating environments. These include

The strategic rivalry between the United States and China—over a projected period in which China will remain the dominant global supplier of refined copper, while the United States depends on imports for well over half its copper.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its cascading effects on the commodities markets and energy security, which have highlighted the vulnerability of supply chains. “Supply chain resilience” policies aiming to secure reliable supplies of the materials needed for energy transition—and economies in general—are likely to be a central feature of the emerging geopolitics.

A growing tension between energy transition, social license, and ESG objectives that dramatically increase the need for minerals like copper on one hand, while raising the compliance, legal, and operational costs of mining those minerals on the other.

The risk of a significant, structural increase in copper prices as the supply-demand gap increases, with a potentially destabilizing impact on global markets and industry. While structurally higher prices incentivize international investment in new capacity, governments in sourcing countries are likely to seek to capture domestically a rising share of revenues.

The fragmenting of globalization and a resurgence of resource nationalism. The resulting challenge for all actors involved with the energy transition will be to manage often competing and seemingly contradictory priorities. It is clear that technology and policy innovation will both be critical to reducing the supply-demand gap for copper in order to help enable the net-zero goals

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every major bull market which climaxes in a mania exhibits contradictory arguments. We are fully aware of the earnings don’t matter claims from the 1990s or house prices only go up ahead of the GFC. The difficulties with fulfilment of the renewable energy idealistic dream are a fresh contradiction. It is impossible to double copper production within 13 years. Therefore, there is no possible way the zero carbon ambitions of the green lobby can be realized. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Currency Struggles Spell Trouble Across Emerging Markets

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

“With the yuan set to weaken further, other emerging markets will face downward pressure on their currencies,” said Per Hammarlund, the chief emerging markets strategist at Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB. “The impact will be felt the most by nations which compete directly with China on exports.”

The yuan declined for a sixth consecutive month in August, capping the longest losing streak since the height of the US-led trade war in October 2018. It will fall even more and cross the psychological mark of 7 per dollar this year, banks including Societe Generale SA, Nomura Holdings Inc. and Bank of America Corp. say.

It’s a stunning reversal for a currency that stood out for its resilience at the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In the days following the Feb. 24 invasion, the yuan was the only emerging-market exchange rate to avoid a decline, trading at an almost four-year high against MSCI Inc.’s benchmark index. Global demand for it deepened -- from countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia looking to reduce their reliance on the dollar to US bond investors seeking new havens.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the destination for most industrial commodity exports, so a weaker currency boosts domestic inflation. At the same time many countries in China’s hinterland compete with it for exports. A cheaper Renminbi forces them to also depress their currencies.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

We Own It: The Chinese Homeowners Squatting in Unfinished Buildings

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

As much as 5% of new residential developments in China’s major cities — or 71.5 million square meters of apartments — are in limbo as a result, the Shanghai Yiju Real Estate Research Institute found in a survey conducted during the first half of 2022.

The crisis is leaving buyers in a dire situation. Many are paying mortgages on properties that are still empty shells. Others have poured their life savings into a down payment on a home that may never be completed.

Jinling Apartment is an example of how desperate things can become — and how difficult it can be for homeowners to protect their rights. 

Wang, Zhou, and the other homeowners have been waiting for the developers to deliver their homes for over five years. They have tried pleading with the companies to complete the construction, asking the authorities to intervene, and taking the firms to court. None of it has worked.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tens of thousands of people losing their life savings by paying for properties before they are even built is not exactly good optics. It’s a problem, the central government will have to tackle. So far, the response has been very measured and unsuccessful. Property developers are still going bust. More robust action risks reinflating the property market.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Entering The Superbubble's Final Act

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Jeremy Grantham. Here is a section:

My theory is that the breaking of these superbubbles takes multiple stages. First, the bubble forms; second, a setback occurs, as it just did in the first half of this year, when some wrinkle in the economic or political environment causes investors to realize that perfection will, after all, not last forever, and valuations take a half-step back. Then there is what we have just seen – the bear market rally. Fourth and finally, fundamentals deteriorate and the market declines to a low.

Let’s return to where we are in this process today. Bear market rallies in superbubbles are easier and faster than any other rallies. Investors surmise, this stock sold for $100 6 months ago, so now at $50, or $60, or $70, it must be cheap. Outside of the late stage of a superbubble, new highs are slow and nervous as investors realize that no one has ever bought this stock at this price before: so it is four steps forward, three steps back, gingerly exploring terra incognita. Bear market rallies are the opposite: it sold at $100 before, maybe it could sell at $100 again.

The proof of the pudding is the speed and scale of these bear market rallies.
1. From the November low in 1929 to the April 1930 high, the market rallied 46% – a 55% recovery of the loss from the peak.
2. In 1973, the summer rally after the initial decline recovered 59% of the S&P 500's total loss from the high.
3. In 2000, the NASDAQ (which had been the main event of the tech bubble) recovered 60% of its initial losses in just 2 months.
4. In 2022, at the intraday peak on August 16th, the S&P had made back 58% of its losses since its June low. Thus we could say the current event, so far, is looking eerily similar to these other historic superbubbles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Have we seen the secular peak in this market? That’s the only real question investors need to concern themselves with. The above statistics are certainly compelling, but the size of the rebounds should also be considered relative to the size of the initial declines from the peaks. Let’s round out that data.

1. The Dow Jones Industrials Average accelerated to the peak on September 3rd 1929. It fell 47.87% to the initial low on November 13th
2. The peak in 1973 was a failed upside break from a range that had been forming since 1966; with the Dow failing at the psychological 1000 on several occasions. That failed upside break resulted in a deeper pullback than any (25% & 36%) posted during the ranging phase. The failed downside break in 1974 resulted in a 75% rebound. It was another six years before a breakout to new highs was sustained.
3. Between March 10th and May 26th 2000 the Nasdaq Composite fell 40.72%.
4. Between January 7th and the low on June 17th the S&P500 declined 24.52%.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper and Aluminium Pace Metals Retreat on China Lockdown Fears

Copper and aluminium futures tumbled along with other industrial commodities on concerns that virus lockdowns in China will hurt demand and as supply constraints in the Asian powerhouse eased.

Beijing’s ongoing battle to contain virus outbreaks is damaging confidence in the nation’s economy, with the Covid Zero policy causing many US companies to delay or cancel investments. That’s on top of a property crisis that’s taken a hefty toll on metals demand in the top consumer. 

Prices of copper, seen as a bellwether for economic growth, have wavered in recent weeks after recovering from a 20-month low in July as traders weigh supply constraints against a darkening outlook for demand. Outside China, Europe’s energy crisis is set to undercut consumption, while higher US Federal Reserve interest rates are pressuring non-yielding assets like metals.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Predictably, China is having just as much difficulty containing the new more transmissible strains of COVID-19 as everywhere else. There are lockdowns in place in every Chinese province at present. Meanwhile the Communist Party Congress is now slated for mid-October. Between now and then we can expect much tighter controls on movement which will have a knock-on effect on the wider economy.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Talks Tough, Says Rates Likely to Stay High for Some Time

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

“Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time,” Powell said Friday in remarks at the Kansas City Fed’s annual policy forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.”

He said restoring inflation to the 2% target is the central bank’s “overarching focus right now” even though consumers and businesses will feel economic pain. He reiterated that another “unusually large” increase in the benchmark lending rate could be appropriate when officials gather next month, though he stopped short of committing to one.

“Our decision at the September meeting will depend on the totality of the incoming data and the evolving outlook,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In very simple terms, the Fed has two mandates, price stability and full employment. Right now, they have full employment and robust business capital investments. They don’t have price stability or anything approaching it. That’s a recipe for tighter monetary conditions and higher rates until downward pressure on employment becomes problematic. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on delisting Chinese shares from the US

Any opinion of BABA US delisting or Chinese Tech Stocks delisting and impact to their stock performance in HKEX

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which raises an important consideration. This article from Reuters on August 1st may also be of interest. Here is a section: 

The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA) is intended to address a long-running dispute over the auditing compliance of U.S.-listed Chinese firms.

It aims to remove foreign companies from U.S. exchanges if they fail to comply with American auditing standards for three consecutive years.

Alibaba on Monday said being added to the list meant it was now considered to be in its first 'non inspection' year.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing Faces 'Liquidity Trap' as Lending Collapses

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

Three things we learned last week: 

1. Shockingly weak Chinese credit growth shows that monetary policy is pushing on a string. Friday’s data showed aggregate financing, a broad measure of credit, was almost half of what economists expected. Bank loan growth slowed to 11%, near the historical low. That’s occurring at a time when the financial markets are flush with cash and interbank interest rates are falling well below the central bank’s benchmark.

In other words, money is aplenty, but no one wants it. It reflects weak confidence among businesses and households amid the housing slump and the Covid restrictions. It’s “a classic sign of a liquidity trap,” Craig Botham at Pantheon Macroeconomics remarked.

What’s more, Beijing is facing a fiscal cliff as the local governments have pretty much used up their special bond-issuance quota for the year. Unless Beijing makes more funding available, the fiscal support may be waning.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s exporters are feeling the pain from slowing demand in Europe and North America. That’s adding to the downward pressure on the economy from the emerging real estate crisis. The PBoC signaled last week they are keen to avoid the inflationary problems other major economies are dealing with. Over the weekend, political priorities led to the Medium-Term Lending rate being shaved by 10 basis points while the central bank withdrew liquidity to sanitise it.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Orders Surprise Audit of $3 Trillion Trust Industry

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

These investors have joined homebuyers and bond fund managers in feeling the pain of a liquidity crisis that’s driven dozens of developer defaults and frozen construction of hundreds of projects across the country.

China’s trust industry, after at least six rounds of restructuring since its inception in 1979, combines characteristics of commercial and investment banking, private equity and wealth management. Firms in the sector pool household savings to offer loans and invest in real estate, stocks, bonds, commodities, and even bottles of sorghum liquor. No other firms in the financial industry operate across all these asset classes.

Trusts were once a popular avenue of funding for the property sector. Until recently, trust products were seen by wealthy Chinese individuals and institutions as a safe place to park their money.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trust sector in China is dominated by wealthy families which benefitted enormously from the growth of the economy over the last forty years. In many cases that was achieved through relationships with government officials that ensured preferential access to markets or property ventures. The fact many trust clients are members of the establishment themselves can be taken for granted. Therefore it is particularly noteworthy that it is not the subject of investigation.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOE Gives a Lesson in Honest Central Banking

This article by Mohamed El-Erian for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The Bank of England is reminding the world what a politically independent central bank can and should do: act as a “trusted adviser,” willing to share analytically honest views that other more politically sensitive institutions are either unable or unwilling to do.

Of course, this is not a risk-free approach. Such honesty — rather than catalyzing appropriate responses from policy-making agencies that lead to better economic and social outcomes — can provoke household and corporate behaviors that accelerate the bad outcomes. Yet the risks involved are worth taking, especially when the alternative is a central bank that loses institutional credibility, sees the effectiveness of its forward policy guidance erode and becomes even more vulnerable to political interference.

It should also be noted that the UK’s situation differs in some important way from those of other countries. The country’s economic challenges are complicated not only by the energy price catch-up but also by the political transition and the changing nature of the country’s relations with its trading partners.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the last six weeks gilt yields have pulled back aggressively from 2.75% to test the region of the trend mean around 1.75%. This is the first area of potential resistance and is the point at which traders will begin to question how likely a long-term low interest rate environment is.  



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pelosi's Roundabout Flight to Taiwan Shows China's Long Reach

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

Instead of traveling northeast from Kuala Lumpur directly across the South China Sea -- a journey that might have brought her jet close to Chinese military facilities built on reclaimed land on islets and reefs including in the Spratly Islands -- Pelosi’s plane flew southeast over the Indonesia part of Kalimantan, or Borneo, before turning north and then to the east of the Philippines, according to imagery provided by Flightradar24. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Accidents happen when an abundance of care is abandoned. As great power politics unfolds and gels with domestic priorities in both China and the USA, there is potential for a crisis inducing accident. The heavily choreographed travel plans of politicians are less likely to provide a catalyst because of the size of the potential repercussions.  



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
August 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

India's GDP can grow to $40 trillion if working-age population gets employment: CII report

This article from The Hindu.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“The golden period of 30 years between 2020-50 where our working age population will bulge can be an important horizontal enabler to bolster growth, even as the developed world including China ages,” the report notes.

The report adds that over the years, India has experienced rising literacy rates, but level of vocational training/skilling is low, which gets reflected in the high unemployment rate among the educated. “Closing the skill gaps of its qualified workforce will be critical, as India depends more on human capital than its peer countries that have a similar level of economic development,” it said, adding that skilling and reskilling require a coordinated response from the government, industry, academia even as COVID continues to cause structural changes to the workplace.

“The reversal in India’s structural transformation back toward agriculture is a sign of fall back to subsistence employment. Enhanced safety nets through PM-KISAN and the MGNREGA will be critical investments needed to ensure that incomes of small and marginal farmers are protected and their basic needs are met… But manufacturing and services will still have to be the two key growth engines going forward,” it said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Given the trajectory of emerging market development over the decades, it is stating the obvious that India needs to do whatever is necessary to improve employment opportunities for its millions of young people. The fact the conversation is taking place is at least a good starting point.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Mulls Seizing Builders' Idle Land to Fund Frozen Projects

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

The proposal, which is still under discussion and could change, would take advantage of Chinese laws allowing local governments to wrest back control of land sold to real estate companies if it remains undeveloped after two years, without compensation. That would give authorities more leeway to direct funds toward uncompleted homes, potentially to the detriment of creditors who would lose claims on some of developers’ most valuable assets.

While officials would have bandwidth to adjust the process to suit local conditions, a typical scenario would involve seizing land from a distressed developer and giving it to a healthier rival, which would in turn provide funding to complete the distressed developer’s stalled projects, the people said. The government could also rezone the seized land in some cases to increase its value, the people added, asking not to be named discussing private information. 

The proposal is one of several measures under consideration as Xi Jinping’s government tries to prevent turmoil in the housing market from fueling social unrest and derailing the broader economy. The focus on completing projects is the latest sign that policy makers are prioritizing homeowners over bondholders, who have been burned by a record number of defaults by real estate giants including China Evergrande Group.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Placating the people who have paid deposits and have not taken delivery of their apartments is a national priority as protests spread. Funding property development has been a challenge of the last decade as the government has closed off routes to speculation. Worries about overvaluation have been present for years but the government has not found a way to deflate the bubble with toppling the economy.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Capital Outflows From China Sovereign Bonds Just Hit $30 Billion

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

The publication of the June bond figures by China Central Depository & Clearing Co. took place about a week later than in previous months. Interbank-bond-market figures released by the central bank’s Shanghai head office on Friday were also delayed, as they are typically sent out in the first half of each month. In May, China’s bond-trading platform for foreign investors quietly stopped providing data on its transactions.

Foreign investors still held 2.32 trillion yuan of Chinese debt at the end of June, well above the 221 billion yuan they owned in 2014. The opening up of China’s capital markets and the inclusion of the nation’s debt in more global bond indexes has attracted central banks and global investors eager to tap its higher yields.

“The bulk of the remaining foreign holdings of Chinese fixed-income assets reflects reserve manager, sovereign wealth fund and index tracking demand,” said Lemon Zhang, a strategist at Barclays Plc in Singapore. Looking ahead, large inflows are unlikely as investors aren’t optimistic on duration or China’s currency, while higher global yields provide alternatives, she said.

Demand for Chinese bonds has waned in recent months as US 10-year yields surged above 3%, while similar-maturity yields in China remained stuck in a range of 2.7% to 2.85% due to the People’s Bank of China’s accommodative monetary policy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There has been a popular belief among institutional investors that China was for bonds and the US was for equities. The logic is that China is a creditor nation with vast reserves, strong growth and low debt/GDP ratios while the US is encumbered with massive debts and seems incapable of correcting the gaping deficit.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nancy Pelosi to Visit Taiwan Despite China Warnings, FT Reports

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

On Tuesday, European Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer began a three-day visit to Taipei -- leading the most senior EU legislative delegation to visit Taiwan. Beer told reporters after her arrival that the “family of democracies” need to support Taiwan after China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

No ‘Blind Eye’
“We won’t have a blind eye on China’s threat to Taiwan,” Beer said. “Europe was late for Hong Kong. We won’t be late for Taiwan. There is no room for Chinese aggression in democratic Taiwan. For the moment, we witness war in Europe. We do not want to witness war in Asia. And so now it’s the moment to stand firm on the side of Taiwan.” 

China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has complicated its efforts to shore up relations with the Europe Union. Top European leaders haven’t responded to an invitation from Xi to meet him later this year in Beijing, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a major escalation of rhetoric from Europe and the USA. China will bristle at what they consider direct interference in a domestic matter. The One China policy is the biggest red line the Communist Party has.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Readies $1.1 Trillion to Support Xi's Infrastructure Push

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

However, there’s a chance that despite the fiscal largess, overall infrastructure investment growth could still disappoint. First, while Beijing is letting local governments issue more bonds, it’s still telling them to reduce so-called “hidden” debt -- off-balance sheet borrowing from banks by state-owned companies, which has financed a large chunk of China’s infrastructure over the last decade.

Second, fiscal funds need to be supplemented by lending from commercial banks and private investors -- both of which may be reluctant to lend in a risky environment. Finally, local governments in recent years struggled to find infrastructure projects that could generate returns large enough to repay the special bonds. Some economists estimate local governments left 2 trillion yuan of funds unspent last year. 

While Beijing is telling local authorities to speed up spending, it remains to be seen if attitudes will shift.

“Funds are less of a constraint for infrastructure investment this year, while the bottlenecks lie mainly with project pipelines and government incentives,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists including Xinquan Chen wrote in a note last week. In a sign that the fiscal push is yet to rev up construction, sales of excavators in China have been sinking since April last year. In January-June, the sales plunged 53%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Arguing China needs more high-speed railways is a bit difficult when the national railway already has almost $1 trillion in outstanding debt and no passengers. That begs the question whether the new debt being issued will be used to retire/bring off balance sheet on balance sheet or on new projects.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Homebuyers Across 22 Cities Refuse to Pay Mortgages

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

The payment refusals underscore how the storm engulfing China’s property sector is now affecting the country’s middle class, posing a threat to social stability. Chinese banks already grappling with challenges from liquidity stress among developers now also have to brace for homebuyer defaults.  

Now is “a critical time for social stability,” said Chan, adding that “the forgoing of down payments may bring social instability.”

A drop in home values hasn’t helped. Average selling prices of properties in nearby projects in 2022 were on average 15% lower than purchase costs in the past three years, according to Citigroup’s research. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

How much do prices have to fall before consumers give up hope they will ever recoup their down payment through a sale? I guess we have the answer in China where many of the home purchases are speculative to begin with and tens of millions of apartments stand vacant at the best of times.
 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Drop Most in a Month on Covid Flareups, Tech Fines

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

Chinese stocks had their worst day in about a month as a Covid resurgence, combined with fresh fines for the country’s tech giants, sent investors running for the door.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, a gauge tracking mainland firms listed in Hong Kong, slumped 3.1%, its biggest loss since mid-June. Tech heavyweights, property developers and electric-vehicle makers were among the biggest drags. 

A slew of bad news hit the Chinese market over the weekend and Monday morning, including regulatory fines on past transactions done by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., a rejection by China Evergrande Group’s bondholders on a proposal to extend debt payment, and a warning by a prominent investor’s wife that a key lithium maker’s stock is overvalued. 

The selloff is a reminder that the nation’s Covid Zero policy and lingering uncertainty toward tech crackdowns remain key risks for investors betting on a sustained rebound in Chinese shares. The Hang Seng China gauge has recorded just one positive session in the last eight after rallying nearly 30% from a March low.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

The pandemic continues to be a major factor in the daily life of China, even as the rest of the world moves on. The reality of a large population with little immunity and the threat of rapidly evolving strains are growing more infectious suggests the quarantine system will slow the advance but can never overcome it.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Tries to Tamp Down Nationalist Fervor Over Abe Shooting

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

The Foreign Ministry struck a softer tone on Friday. China was “shocked” by the attack, spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing in Beijing just before news that Abe had died, saying the nation hoped he would recover soon.

“This unexpected incident should not be linked with China-Japan relations,” Zhao added. When asked about some nationalist voices in China cheering the shooting, Zhao declined to “comment on the remarks of net users.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese administration has been fostering a domestic nationalistic movement for years. That helps fuel domestic support for extraterritorial ambitions amid the government’s significant militarization efforts.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
July 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Might Soon Ease Chinese Tariffs, in a Decision Fraught With Policy Tensions

this article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Mr. Biden himself has said in recent weeks that he is considering a tariff cut, noting that the levies were introduced by the previous administration.

The U.S. and China signed a trade deal in 2020, but the U.S. kept most levies on Chinese imports as a means to ensure compliance with the accord's provisions, including promises to increase purchases of U.S. goods.

Beijing has fallen far short of that purchase commitment.

Ms. Tai, who was appointed by Mr. Biden, has repeatedly defended the tariffs as a useful tool in confronting China over its trade practices.

"The China tariffs are, in my view, a significant piece of leverage, and a trade negotiator never walks away from leverage," Ms. Tai told a Senate subcommittee meeting on June 22.

China has long pressed the U.S. to ease the tariffs, contending they hurt both countries.

"With inflation rates running high across the globe, the U.S. needs to lift all the additional tariffs imposed on China, as this will serve the interests of businesses and consumers and benefit both countries and the world at large," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a June 15 press conference.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Biden administration is panicking about inflation if they are truly considering removing sanctions on China. The one hallmark of this government has been the continuity of policy with regard to China so a change would likely be viewed by markets as positive and particularly so for China since they would be under much less pressure to comply with trade agreements.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
June 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Approach Bull Market as Investors Catch Up on Gains

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

Adding to a growing number of market participants turning more positive on Chinese shares, abrdn plc’s regional chairman Hugh Young said they look to be the best home for fresh money in Asia amid a tough investment environment.

“We are inclined to put more money into China again, depends on the portfolio,” Young said in an interview on Monday, adding that the firm underweights the country’s shares in portfolios. “It’s very hard to be super bullish about anything at the moment” but valuations in China are reasonable and the investing landscape could improve.

Deutsche Bank AG’s private bank global chief investment officer Christian Nolting said last week he was considering turning overweight on Chinese stocks and Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Jefferies Financial Group all ramped up bullish commentary this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Xi Jinping’s statement that China will hit its growth target has been greeted with enthusiasm by investors. While COVID zero represents a challenge for growth, it increases the potential more liquidity will be made available. At present concerns about further inflating asset bubbles are on being downplayed.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
June 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CATL Unveils EV Battery With One-Charge Range of 1,000 Kms

This article may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. unveiled an electric-car battery it said has a range of over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) on a single charge and is 13% more powerful than one planned by Tesla Inc., a major customer. 

CATL, as the world’s biggest maker of electric-car batteries is known, will start manufacturing the next-generation “Qilin” next year, according to a video the Chinese company streamed online Thursday. The battery charges faster than existing cells, and is safer and more durable, CATL said. 

The Qilin battery, named after a mythical Chinese creature, has an energy density of up to 255 watt-hour per kilogram, Ningde, Fujian-based CATL said. 

“It’s an important advancement for CATL as it keeps them at the forefront on the innovation side,” said Tu Le, managing director of Beijing-based consultancy Sino Auto Insights. “Being the lowest cost provider isn’t enough to command loyalty, there needs to be more to it -- and that seems to be the Qilin battery for CATL.”

CATL’s shares climbed 5.9% in Shenzhen, closing at the highest since Feb. 9. 

The company said Wednesday it raised 45 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) in a private placement of shares, with the proceeds intended for production and upgrade of lithium-ion battery manufacturing in four Chinese cities, as well as research and development.

CATL has experienced a wave of volatility this year, grappling soaring prices of raw materials as well as rumors of trading losses. Its first-quarter net income slid 24% from a year earlier to 1.49 billion yuan. The company hasn’t explained a 1.79 billion yuan derivatives liability, the first such charge since it listed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The massive run-up in battery metal prices has put significant pressure on companies dependent on buying them to support their businesses. Lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel prices have surged this year as projections for future demand and low available supply created an inelastic trading environment. That created problems for nickel traders which resulted in a short covering price spike and lithium prices also surged to previously unimaginable levels.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
June 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Developer Accepts Wheat, Garlic as Payment to Woo Buyers

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

As China’s property slump persists, one developer is trying to entice farmers to buy homes by accepting their crops as payment. 

Central China Real Estate Ltd. is offering to pay farmers as much as 160,000 yuan ($24,000) for their wheat to offset down payments for homes in its River Mansion residential project in Shangqiu, a city in Henan province, according to a Monday marketing post. Weeks ago, it offered to accept garlic from growers looking to buy homes in another project in Kaifeng city.

The move reflects how far some developers are willing to go to attract wary homebuyers as the economy slows and the industry endures a crippling cash crunch. Central China, the country’s 37th-largest builder, recently sought state support when its parent company agreed to sell a stake to the provincial government. 

Its perk to farmers appears aggressive. Central China was offering to buy wheat at 4 yuan a kilogram, higher than the record 3-3.1 yuan that China’s state stockpiling company was purchasing the grain for earlier this month. 

Landlocked Henan is China’s largest wheat-producing area. The country just had another bumper harvest of winter-sown wheat. 

Similarly for garlic, Central China offered to pay 10 yuan a kilogram last month. That’s higher than the 6.92 yuan wholesale price as of June 10, according to weekly data released by the commerce ministry. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Property manias tend to start in prime areas and move progressively further into the hinterland. During a crash it is usually the third tier cities and far flung suburbs that see the most aggressive selling pressure. Eventually, even the prime areas take a hit. China’s tier 3 cities have seen an epic bull market in housing as capital fled the exorbitant prices in the tier 1 cities. It is a measure of how desperate the company is to make sales that it is now willing to accept volatile commodities rather than insist on cash.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
May 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Interest Rates in Aggregate

Eoin Treacy's view -

As inflation has continued to surprise on the upside, countries all over the world are accelerating their efforts to raise rates. Brazil’s Selic Target rate is now 12.7% and the EU is beginning to talk about moving deposit rates out of negative territory.

We tend to think of interest rates as barometers of efforts by central banks to control domestic factors. However, there is also the additional point that if interest rates are rising everywhere, the availability of cheap cash is declining and competition for what is available becomes more fervent.  



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
May 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Economy Czar Vows Support for Tech Firms After Crackdown

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

China’s top economic official gave an unusual public show of support for digital platform companies Tuesday, suggesting Beijing may be ready to let up on a year-long clampdown on technology giants as it battles a slowing economy.

The government will support the development of digital economy companies and their public listings, Vice Premier Liu He, who is President Xi Jinping’s most senior economic aide, said after a symposium with the heads of some of the nation’s largest private firms. Baidu Inc. founder Robin Li, Qihoo 360 Technology Co.’s Zhou Hongyu and NetEase Inc. chief William Ding were among the tech luminaries spotted at the forum, according to a video posted online.

Liu’s remarks reported by state media were short on detail but signal further easing of the regulatory risk for China’s technology behemoths including Baiduand Tencent Holdings Ltd., as investors await clues on whether a rout in their shares is near an end. The Hang Seng Tech Index rallied as much as 6% Tuesday on optimism the meeting would affirm Beijing’s intention to dial back some of its restrictions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s 7-day repo rate continues to trend lower. That’s supports the view the government is supporting the economy in a tacit manner. Liu He turning up to the symposium was already good news for the tech sector. Receiving overt verbal support was a bonus. Together with the supports for first time home buyers announced yesterday, this suggests China is aware of the risks from tightening too much and is ready to be more generous.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
May 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Patience through Bumpy Final Leg of Bear Market

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley 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.

COVID cases are finally coming down in Shanghai which is positive news for the domestic economy. China remains exposed to the risk of further outbreaks because of the size and age of the population and the reluctance to be vaccinated. That holds out the prospect of continued lockdown phases for the foreseeable future. That’s a recipe for volatility. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
May 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Politburo Brightens Mood for China Stocks After Gloomy Month

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

“The meeting addressed most of the pressing issues in the economy and is intended to boost confidence and turn around negative sentiment,” said Xiong Yuan, chief economist at Guosheng Securities. “It’s a rare exception that the Politburo publishes the statement during the trading day. Clearly it’s meant to incentivize investors to hold on to positions ahead of the holiday.

China’s top leaders responded to calls from investors and analysts alike to revive an economy hurt by Covid lockdowns that this week spread to Beijing and Yiwu, disrupting business operations and roiling global supply chains. The Politburo’s readout -- which was released at the earliest time of day of any since at least January 2017 -- came ahead of a five-day break for onshore markets.

While headwinds for China’s economy and markets still remain, in particular the government’s adherence to Covid Zero, traders are now asking whether this can be the long-awaited market bottom. 

The CSI 300 Index jumped 2.4% Friday, trimming this year’s loss to 19%. That still makes it one of the world’s worst performing national benchmarks, far outpacing the 13% decline in MSCI Inc.’s Asia Pacific gauge.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mainland Chinese stock markets are closed until Thursday for the May holiday, but Hong Kong reopened today. Faced with the political impossibility of altering the COVID-zero program, the central government have little choice but to cede some ground on its recalibration of the economy. That should represent further progress in supporting the trend of the credit impulse.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Will China lead the world into another 2008 crisis or will they spend their way out of trouble?

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

Weijian Shan, whose group PAG manages more than $50bn, said his fund had diversified away from China and was being “extremely careful” about its portfolio in the country.

“We think the Chinese economy at this moment is in the worst shape in the past 30 years,” he said in a video of a meeting viewed by the Financial Times.

“The market sentiment towards Chinese stocks is also at the lowest point in the past 30 years. I also think popular discontent in China is at the highest point in the past 30 years.”

In the video, Shan said that large parts of the Chinese economy, including its financial centre Shanghai, had been “semi-paralysed” by “draconian” zero-Covid policies and that the impact on the economy would be “profound”.

“China feels to us like the US and Europe in 2008,” Shan added. “While we remain long-term confident in China’s growth and market potentials, we are very cautious towards China markets.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It seems like every central bank is chasing a soft landing. China used the pandemic induced boom in demand for exports to initiate a cleansing of the Augean stables. By clamping down on property development and private equity investment in technology, they hoped to reorient the economy to sectors that would further the dream of becoming a self-reliant global superpower.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

I helped build ByteDance's vast censorship machine

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

Our role was to make sure that low-level content moderators could find "harmful and dangerous content" as soon as possible, just like fishing out needles from an ocean. And we were tasked with improving censorship efficiency. That is, use as few people as possible to detect as much content as possible that violated ByteDance's community guidelines. I do not recall any major political blowback from the Chinese government during my time at ByteDance, meaning we did our jobs.

It was certainly not a job I'd tell my friends and family about with pride. When they asked what I did at ByteDance, I usually told them I deleted posts (删帖). Some of my friends would say, "Now I know who gutted my account." The tools I helped create can also help fight dangers like fake news. But in China, one primary function of these technologies is to censor speech and erase collective memories of major events, however infrequently this function gets used.

Dr. Li warned his colleagues and friends about an unknown virus that was encroaching on hospitals in Wuhan. He was punished for that. And for weeks, we had no idea what was really happening because of authorities' cover-up of the severity of the crisis. Around this time last year, many Chinese tech companies were actively deleting posts, videos, diaries and pictures that were not part of the "correct collective memory" that China's governments would later approve. Just imagine: Had any social media platform been able to reject the government's censorship directives and retain Dr. Li and other whistleblowers' warnings, perhaps millions of lives would have been saved today.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The thing I find most interesting is how these kinds of stories are proliferating. It’s not like Chinese censorship of ideas is new. It is a measure of how much the West’s relationship with China has soured that the appetite for this kind of critical content is sustaining large numbers of articles.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Puts Ideology Before Economy With Market-Busting Lockdowns

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

China’s worst equity selloff since early 2020 reflects a growing concern about President Xi Jinping: He
can’t afford the political costs of shifting from a Covid Zero strategy that is pummeling the economy. 
In Shanghai, a weekslong Covid-19 lockdown got even worse, with workers in hazmat suits fanning out over the weekend to install steel fences around buildings with positive cases. In Beijing, the process is just getting started, as authorities on Monday began shutting down a bustling district in the capital to
quash fresh outbreaks. 

The threat of paralyzing China’s two largest and wealthiest cities with a strategy abandoned by most countries helped push the CSI 300 down 4.9%, the gauge’s steepest one-day drop since the first such lockdown in Wuhan two years ago. The spreading lockdowns have investors worried that Xi is sacrificing the Communist Party’s reputation for pragmatic economic management to defend a political narrative that portrays him as the world’s most successful virus-fighter.

“This Covid situation is really putting China into a very dark moment, perhaps the darkest moment in economic terms for the last couple of decades,” Junheng Li, JL Warren Capital founder and chief executive officer, said of the Shanghai lockdown during an interview on Bloomberg TV. “It’s a confidence
crisis in a sense that you’ve got the most affluent city in China with this consensus disappointment and resentfulness towards a very non-sensible policy.”

“People really don’t know, what’s a clear path to get China out of this Covid situation,” Li said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Democratic capitalist systems focus on the health of the corporate/financial system to achieve social cohesion and rising living standards. Communist systems focus on sustaining political stability to achieve the same ends. That difference doesn’t become obvious until a crisis challenges it.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Plunge as Xi Offers No Respite From Covid Lockdowns

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

In a sign that authorities are keen for the slide to end, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said that on Thursday it met with institutional investors such as the National Social Security Fund, banks and insurers to ask them to boost their equity investments.

Lockdowns in major cities across the country, coupled with capital outflow risks as the Federal Reserve hikes rates, have dampened sentiment toward local Chinese shares. Investors who had expected authorities to ramp up stimulus have since been underwhelmed, with Wednesday’s decision by banks to keep lending rates unchanged serving as another setback.

“The market is flooded with pessimism,” said Wu Wei, fund manager at Beijing Win Integrity Investment Management Co. “While there have been some policies since Liu He, the greater weight on people’s minds now is the virus. No one can accurately guess the bottom. Judging from the virus situation, we could still see a further slide.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

As predicted early this year, China’s covid problem was the wildcard no one was properly prepared for. Politics is the primary concern of every Communist administration. The leadership question will be settled at the Party Congress in November. There is no chance of the Covid-zero policy being abandoned before then.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Yuan Extends Drop to Six-Month Low as U.S. Yields Rise

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The yuan slipped to its weakest level in six months, pressured by concern surrounding China’s growth outlook and a surge in U.S. Treasury yields.

China’s offshore currency weakened by as much as 0.7% to 6.4198 per dollar in New York trading, its weakest since October 2021. The decline comes as traders eye the risk that the world’s second-largest economy is becoming snarled in lockdowns, quarantine and testing rules. The yuan was also pressured by a rise in U.S. yields and the greenback on odds of even more aggressive Federal Reserve tightening. 

On Monday, China’s central bank unveiled nearly two dozen measures and promises intended to boost lending and support industries that have been beaten down by recent Covid lockdowns, including a pledge to guide banks to expand loan extensions.

“This is the strongest signal yet from Chinese authorities that they are concerned over growth conditions,” said Simon Harvey, head of currency analysis at Monex Europe. “Coupled with regulatory tightening in the tech sector, the increased level of concern over domestic growth suggests a poor year for Chinese equity returns. Today’s currency reaction is reflective of this.”

Although first-quarter GDP data showed a pick-up in growth, a deceleration in production and retail data in March as economists further worried about China’s growth outlook amid damage from lockdowns. 

In the U.S., meantime, investors are ramping up bets for the size of the Fed’s next interest rate hike. While markets are generally pricing in a 50-basis-point hike, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Monday that hikes of as much as 75 basis points shouldn’t be ruled out. Treasury yields surged across the curve on Tuesday, with the benchmark 30-year bond rising above 3% for the first time in three years.

That likely deepened losses for the yuan, which on Tuesday breached the key support level of its 200-day moving average. Japan’s yen also plunged, set to extend its longest losing streak in more than half a century.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Slowing consumer spending is beginning to weigh on the Chinese economy and not least as house prices post negative performance. The Chinese government has been very slow to act because they are aware of how overt stimulative action inflates asset bubbles, and prices are already high. Nevertheless, they probably fear social unrest from high unemployment and negative growth more.  



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Did That Happen?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Bill Spitz for Diversified Trust which may be of interest. Here is a section:  

As shown, the working age population in the U.S. is expected to be relatively flat whereas both Europe and China will likely experience a significant decline. The key point is that economic growth is equal to the sum of growth in the working age population and productivity growth. Therefore, unless China can stimulate significant productivity growth, it can expect a significant slowdown in economic growth. While not top of mind for most Americans, this likely slowdown has important implications for the U.S. First, slower economic growth may cause socio-political issues for the Chinese government which may further complicate already tense international relations. Second, a shrinking workforce in China will likely result in higher wages which may import inflation to the U.S. given our dependency on China for the manufacturing and assembly of so many types of goods. Third, recent supply constraints in the U.S. will likely continue on a sporadic basis. Finally, a maturing population in China will consume internally more of what it produces. This example is so fascinating because the unintended consequences of a forty year old policy decision are currently impacting the entire globe.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

This chart included with this report highlighting the reversal of working age population growth in China, Europe and the USA is particularly relevant. It suggests a migration of manufacturing and labour-intensive activity to lower median age countries is inevitable over the coming decade.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday or Monday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

“Play along to get along” has been the default strategy for global peace over the past thirty years. The default proposition was that if we concentrate on commerce, and all grow wealthy together, there was no real need to focus on our political differences. Under that system globalization flourished.

A just in time global supply chain allowed components to be made in a host of different countries, assembled in China and exported to the world. The demise of subsidy regimes allowed commodities, particularly agriculture products, to be produced in the lowest cost regions and exported to the globe. The internet has allowed the dissemination of know-how and services like never before.

In attacking Ukraine, Russia expressed a willingness to risk being cut off from much of the global economy. Regardless, of any other motive, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a gamechanger for the global order. With evidence of war crimes emerging, the chances of Russia being welcomed back into the global trading community are growing progressively more distant. We are back in an “Us versus them” global environment.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Stocks in the U.S. Drop as Audit Dispute Drags On

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

Chinese stocks listed in the U.S. fell Thursday after Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler dialed down prospects of an imminent deal to allow Chinese firms to keep trading on American exchanges.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index dropped as much as 4.9%, with iQIYI Inc. and Baidu Inc. sinking more than 6% after being added late Wednesday to SEC’s growing delisting watch list. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. fell 4.6%, while its e-commerce rivals JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. slid more than 7%.

U.S.-listed China stocks have steadied in recent trading after authorities signaled support to overseas listings and financial markets, yet investors remain on edge amid a long-standing dispute over whether American regulators can get full access to U.S.-traded Chinese company audits. In response to the SEC chair’s comments, China said talks with the U.S. accounting
watchdog will continue.

Under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the SEC started publishing a provisional list of companies identified as running afoul of requirements with the first
release in early March.

“The growing provision list is a reminder that there’s a risk” and a reminder to do a risk check, TH Capital analyst Tian X. Hou said in an interview, noting that as investors become more familiar with the delisting situation, they will realize this is a routine check by the SEC under the new rules.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Even at the best of times, auditors miss signs of trouble in the balance sheets of companies. They are a regulatory burden designed to ensure companies follow the rules and yet whenever a crisis develops, the conflict-of-interest argument arises because auditors missed obvious transgressions.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Worsening Virus Threatens Commodities Supply and Demand

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

Almost 80% of the Chinese economy has been affected in some way by the worst outbreak of Covid-19 in two years, straining the supply of commodities and posing an increasing threat to demand.

China’s restrictions to contain the fast-spreading omicron variant have primarily hit travel over both short and long-distances, which is a direct drag on fuel consumption and a complication for supply chains.

The longer that Beijing persists with its Covid Zero policy, the greater the impact will be on the consumption of commodities as purchases are deferred -- think copper for electronic goods or steel for cars. Production is also at risk as inventories of raw materials dwindle and workers stay at home.

Widespread outages at metals processors, for example, could further lift markets that have already hit record highs in recent weeks because of the war in Ukraine. That would set the inflation-hawks at the central bank and economic planning agency on edge. Still, demand is also likely to shrink at some point, which would leave the net impact on prices uncertain.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The coronavirus might be a medical issue, but pandemics are political. That is truer for China than most countries. They were the first country to experience it and adopted one of the most stringent quarantine regimes. That successfully contained the infection rate. Factories and ports remained open in 2020 because the problem was contained to Wuhan and the surrounding area.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Spurs Frantic Stock Buying With Lifeline for China Market

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

In a brief statement carried by state media, China’s top financial policy body vowed to ensure stability in capital markets, support overseas stock listings, resolve risks around property developers and complete the crackdown on Big Tech “as soon as possible.” Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, followed with a statement saying the central bank would help implement the policies, as did the banking watchdog.

While the pledges from President Xi Jinping’s government offered little clarity over what authorities may do to achieve their goals, it was the first time China publicly addressed investors’ top concerns in one coordinated swoop. The move underscored Xi’s focus on ensuring economic and financial stability before a Communist Party congress at which he’s expected to secure at least another five years in power.

By the time trading ended just after 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was up 12.5% in its best session since October 2008. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. surged 27%, while JD.com Inc. jumped 36%. Property stocks rallied the most in more than a decade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors have been fearful of buying Chinese securities because of uncertainty about the commitment of the government to do what is necessary to protect the economy. Now they have an answer, government officials do not like volatility and China’s stock markets have been falling in a very panicky manner. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudi Arabia Considers Accepting Yuan Instead of Dollars for Chinese Oil Sales

This article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Saudi Arabia is in active talks with Beijing to price its some of its oil sales to China in yuan, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would dent the U.S. dollar's dominance of the global petroleum market and mark another shift by the world's top crude exporter toward Asia.

The talks with China over yuan-priced oil contracts have been off and on for six years but have accelerated this year as the Saudis have grown increasingly unhappy with decades-old U.S. security commitments to defend the kingdom, the people said.

The Saudis are angry over the U.S.'s lack of support for their intervention in the Yemen civil war, and over the Biden administration's attempt to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Saudi officials have said they were shocked by the precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

China buys more than 25% of the oil that Saudi Arabia exports. If priced in yuan, those sales would boost the standing of China's currency.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold is a monetary metal because it is the barometer against which we can compare the performance of fiat currencies. However, gold stopped being a currency when President Nixon took the USA of the gold standard in 1971.

By 1973, the surge in oil revenues created an excess reserve issue for Gulf states and recycling savings into Treasuries made sense. That created the so-called petrodollar system. Since oil is used in every country in the world it is also used as a unit of account.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple Supplier Foxconn in Talks to Build $9 Billion Factory in Saudi Arabia

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

The Saudis are conducting due diligence and benchmarking the offer against others that Foxconn has made for similar projects globally, one of the people said.

Besides Saudi Arabia, Foxconn is also talking with the United Arab Emirates about potentially siting the project there, one of the people said.

The Taiwan-based company has looked to diversify its manufacturing sites amid rising tensions between China and the U.S. that put it in a potentially vulnerable spot.

Riyadh wants the company to guarantee that it would direct at least two-thirds of the foundry's production into Foxconn's existing supply chain, one of the people said, to ensure there are buyers for its products and the project is ultimately profitable.

Foxconn is seeking large incentives including financing, tax holidays and subsidies for power and water in exchange for helping set up a high-tech manufacturing sector in the kingdom, the people said, as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy away from oil.

The Saudis could offer direct equity co-investment, industrial development loans, low-interest debt from local banks and export credits to compete with other jurisdictions that Foxconn might consider, said another person familiar with the talks.

Saudi authorities and Foxconn didn't respond to requests for comment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Pandemic exiles leaving Hong Kong brought COVID-19 with them to Shenzhen. The city and its environs have been locked down which is impacting the ability of component suppliers to perform at peak capacity.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volatility Grips Chinese Tech Shares Again as Traders On Edde

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

Chinese tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in the past year. Beijing’s clampdown on private enterprise appeared to intensify in recent weeks after authorities required food delivery platforms to cut fees they charge restaurants and warned of risks in investing in products
linked to the metaverse.

Since its February 2021 peak, the China tech gauge has slumped nearly 60%. Adding to the fragile sentiment are concerns about a potential interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve next week and elevated commodity prices fueled by the war in Ukraine.
 
“Investors may be looking to sell growth names into the brief rallies to reduce their risk exposure, given multiple headwinds including Russia and the upcoming rate hikes,” said Vey-Sern Ling, a senior analyst at Union Bancaire Privee.

Eoin Treacy's view -

JD.com reported strong 2021 earnings but guidance was the share’s downfall today. This is a trend which troubled many US growth companies during earnings season as well. Keeping up pandemic era growth when liquidity is less available, and the real world is competing for attention versus screens, is a tall order. JD.com broke lower on the news.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ukraine Open to Neutrality But Won't Yield Territory, Aide Says

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

Ukraine is open to discussing Russia’s demand of neutrality as long as it’s given security guarantees, though it won’t surrender a “single inch” of territory, a top foreign policy aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

“Surely, we are ready for a diplomatic solution,” Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. 

The aide reinforced Ukraine’s demand for security guarantees “from the U.S., from Great Britain, from Germany” and others -- “only security guarantees from Russia will not be enough,” though he declined to spell out what those measures would entail. 

Preconditions for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, Zhovka said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When the war is over, Ukraine is most likely to follow a Finland-type solution. They may apply for membership of the EU, but not NATO. They will receive security guarantees from their neighbours, but will need to retain a significant military and constant vigilance nonetheless. Relations with Russia will be irrevocably damaged and portions of Ukraine will likely become part of Russian territory. However, the fact remains many of Russia’s pipelines flow through Ukraine’s territory. Trading relationships will be necessary.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Says U.S. Will Ban Russian Fuels to Pressure Putin on War

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

President Joe Biden said the U.S. will ban imports of Russian fossil fuels including oil, a major escalation of Western efforts to hobble Russia’s economy that will further strain global crude markets.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said Tuesday at the White House. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”

The U.S. move will be matched in part by the U.K., which will announce a ban on Russian oil imports on Tuesday, though it will continue to allow natural gas and coal from the country. Other European nations that rely more heavily on Russian fuels will not participate. The scope of Biden’s action was not immediately clear, including exceptions and the impact on shipments already in transit.

Biden’s move is a significant step in his sanctions campaign against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. While so-called self-sanctioning by the oil industry has limited some purchases of Russian barrels, an outright U.S. ban would further weigh on the market and increase volatility.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If sanctions are to work, they need to hit the target where it hurts. If Russia is to be chastened, more of the world needs to stop buying its products. That’s going to come with massive dislocations to the global economy. It’s a necessary sacrifice because appeasement does not work.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Ambitious GDP Goal a Boost to Slowing World Economy

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

“What China publishes as a target and what they actually aim to achieve are two separate things,” said Freya Beamish, head of macro research at TS Lombard. “The actual number will be published close to the target. But the reality could be significantly weaker.”

China’s economic links with Russia and Ukraine are a small part of its overall foreign trade and investment, so Beijing may calculate that it can largely insulate its economy from global instability, as it did during the global financial crisis and coronavirus pandemic.

“China has tended to capture larger shares of global trade when there are global problems,” Huang said. “They may have been lulled into a feeling that the Ukraine situation won’t hurt them.”

Beijing has pledged to accelerate fiscal spending without increasing debt by using unspent funds from previous years and state-owned enterprise profits. The funding from such sources mean the stimulus will be relatively small-scale.

“The government’s growth target is probably the upper edge of what China can reasonably achieve without large-scale stimulus,” said Adam Wolfe, an economist at Absolute Strategy Research in London. “It’s much more of a stretch target than last year’s.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s growth target will need to be supplemented by liquidity provision if it is to be achieved. That’s particularly true given the macro background of undefinable ripple effects from cutting Russia off from Swift.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
March 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review March 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

When Wall Street indices were breaking out to new highs in 2012/13 the world looked to be on the cusp of a golden era of globalisation, co-operation, and the inevitable rise of the middle class. Higher living standards would breed a more tolerant society with greater respect for the environment and for our fellow global citizens.

In predicting a secular bull market, we were correct about the market call. Wall Street and the FANGMANT stocks have outperformed global indices by a wide margin over the last decade. It was also correct to expect oil to underperform because of the bounty arising from shale oil and gas. Predicting a decade ago that the USA would become energy independent was seen as maverick. Today it’s a fact.

The social upheaval that began with the monetary and regulatory response to the credit crisis represents a significant threat to the utopian ideal of the everyman. Exporting job security in return for cheap products has hollowed out the middle class in most developed countries. The evolution of the subscription business model has also reduced individuals to cash flows; where ownership of hard assets is marketed as an outdated concept. This has contributed to significant social upheaval and the response to the coronavirus pandemic amplified it.  

At the same time, the trend of geopolitical tension continues to rise. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of people, companies and countries is creating greater competition. China is much more active in staking its claim to global trade than in the past and Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine is reflective of a desperate need for both security and relevance in a world that is actively working to use less of its primary export; oil.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
February 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Quashes Talk of New Crackdown as Tech Wipeout Deepens

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

Chinese technology shares had their worst two-day drop since July due to renewed fears Beijing may roll out more restrictions for private enterprise. Traders pointed to everything from regulatory warnings over the weekend about scams in the metaverse -- a virtual-reality based social media concept -- to unsubstantiated talk about more curbs on the gaming industry. Tencent is a leader in metaverse development.

On Monday, a screenshot detailing the alleged new gaming curbs made waves on China’s internet. But Wang Guanran, an analyst with Citic Securities, clarified that the content was originally posted by him last year when regulators hosted study sessions on gaming regulations.

“I didn’t post anything today,” he said on his WeChat. The screenshot flagged more oversight of violent genres and concepts like anime and religion and limits on player spending on loot boxes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Protestations that Tencent does not expect additional curbs on its primary business lines would be more convincing if the government were not asking banks to disclose their relationships with Alibaba’s ANT Financial. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
February 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Challenges

This article from Project Syndicate by George Soros may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The Winter Games are of course Xi’s prestige project, so the administration is going to incredible lengths to make the event a success. While the competitors will be isolated from the local population, continuing the effort after the Games are over makes little sense. City-wide lockdowns are unlikely to work against a variant as infectious as Omicron. This is evident in Hong Kong, where the outbreak looks increasingly serious. Yet the cost of zero-COVID is rising every day as the city is cut off from the rest of the world, and even from China.

Hong Kong highlights the wider challenge Omicron represents for Xi. He tried to impose total control but failed. As Omicron spreads, opposition within the CPC will grow stronger. Xi’s carefully choreographed elevation to the level of Mao and Deng may never occur.

It is to be hoped that Xi may be replaced by someone less repressive at home and more peaceful abroad. This would remove the greatest threat that open societies face today. Their task is to do everything within their power to encourage China to move in the desired direction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When state media is under total government control, nothing we hear about happens by mistake. It is worth remembering that when we assess what signals are being sent by China’s media.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
February 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PBOC Pumps in More Liquidity, Spurring Gains in Chinese Stocks

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

The People’s Bank of China is catching its breath after it cut the one-year medium-term lending facility rate last month -- the pause won’t last long. The central bank has signaled it’s ready to deliver more support to prop up growth. We expect the next cut as soon as the second quarter, and see the PBOC delivering another one in 3Q -- part of a broader array of easing measures to counter the slowdown.--David Qu and Chang Shu, China economists

Despite the decision to hold the one-year policy loan rate steady Tuesday, the PBOC’s easing stance has set it apart from other major central banks including the Federal Reserve, which are tightening monetary policy to tame soaring inflation. The possibility that the Fed will accelerate the pace of rate hikes could restrict China’s room for further easing later this year as it could accelerate outflows. 

Global demand for Chinese bonds has already slipped amid their shrinking yield premium. The yield gap on China’s 10-year sovereign bonds over similar-maturity Treasuries narrowed to 73 basis points last week, the least since 2019.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China wishes to put an end to the pattern of booming asset prices every time it eases policy. The kneejerk reaction of Chinese investors has always been to rush into property when liquidity eases. It has been the best performing asset, but prices are now also very high and affordability is an issue.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
February 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iron Ore Smashes $150 After Beijing Eases Steel's Green Targets

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

China offered its huge steel industry five extra years of rising carbon emissions, sending iron ore soaring as investors saw the move as a renewed focus on propping up the economy.

Steelmaking accounts for about 15% of China’s carbon emissions. On Monday, the government set 2030 as the new deadline for peak-emissions for the sector, against an earlier target of 2025. That adds to signs that Beijing is recalibrating its climate strategy in light of last year’s commodity price spikes, and priming the economy for a more powerful, carbon-intensive stimulus. 
“This is a big adjustment to the timetable, which gives more room for the steel sector to reach peak emissions in an orderly way,” said Xu Xiangchun, an analyst with researcher Mysteel. A rush to meet carbon goals could lead to “unbearable economic costs”, he said.

The policy pivot is another sign that Beijing is changing the trajectory of its decarbonization plans to ensure industrial changes don’t result in damaging inflation or shortages. President Xi Jinping said last month that climate targets shouldn’t compromise supplies of commodities that “ensure the normal life of the masses.”

Iron ore surged past $150 a ton, with expectations rising for more infrastructure to soften China’s economic slowdown. More construction activity tends to means higher steel output, which in turn raises iron ore demand but means more greenhouse gases.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Xi Jinping announced a change of emphasis ahead of the Lunar New Year Holiday in saying carbon reduction would need to take a backseat to ensuring living standards are protected. Today, there was also news that the State investment fund is buying stocks to support prices and that curbs of property market loans are being removed. That’s all supportive of the view China is actively putting a floor under asset prices.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
February 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review February 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The biggest trend in the world isn’t bitcoin or the FANGMAN stocks. It’s bonds. Yields peaked in 1980 and the cost of borrowing has done nothing but decline since.

That’s enabled the steady rise of leverage, debt accumulation, asset price appreciation, speculation in all manner of public and private assets and every other bull market too.

The exact mix of where the debts have accumulated most is different in each country. For the USA, fiscal excess and unfunded liabilities are the biggest debt issue. The large number of companies surviving with no profits is the second biggest debt issue.

In Australia, Canada and the UK, consumer debt ratios, household debt and property debt are the pain points. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s reluctance to raise rates, despite inflation, is a symptom of the economy’s reliance on property prices.

For China, the accumulation of debt in the property sector has been epic. The sector represents 30% of GDP. At least in Japan, the massive quantity of debt is held domestically but it is a significant hurdle to raising rates.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
January 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Rushes to Deliver Stimulus as Fed Pulls Back in New Era

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

And having avoided the all-out stimulus of Western peers when the Coronavirus first struck in early 2020, the PBOC finds itself with dormant consumer prices and room to “open the monetary policy tool-box.”

For China, that sets the stage for a triple dose of support from increased lending, lower borrowing costs and — potentially — a weaker yuan that would boost exports. The PBOC has already made a down payment on rate cuts and most economists expect more to come.

By China’s normal standards, the prize for successful stimulus will be small — more preventing a continued slide in growth than driving a fresh acceleration. And past policy errors — allowing a debt bubble to expand to enormous size — add risk to the outlook and a constraint on the PBOC’s freedom of maneuver.

If Yi and his team can pull it off, though, the boost from PBOC stimulus should offset at least some of the drag on global growth from Fed tightening. International Monetary Fund projections show China is set to contribute more than one-quarter of the total increase in global gross domestic product in the five years through 2026, exceeding the U.S.’s roughly 19% share.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China avoided overstimulating the economy during the pandemic because they didn’t have to. Most factories have attached dormitories. That ensured production hummed even as much of the country was locked down. Instead, they used the massive surge in export revenue as catalyst to reshape the economy. Clamping down on property developer leverage and reshaping innovation priorities in the tech sector were top of the list.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
January 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Massive Current Account, Capital Surpluses Underpin Yuan

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

Overseas investors boosted their holdings of Chinese sovereign bonds by 575.6 billion yuan ($90.9 billion) in 2021, the fastest pace on record compared with previous years, according to Bloomberg calculations of Chinabond data. 

Foreign exchange settlement under securities investment in the capital account, which reflects offshore investors’ buying of onshore equities and bonds, surged to $23 billion in December, the highest since records began in 2010.

Ken Cheung, chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd., said the high returns of yuan-denominated assets and the stability of the yuan exchange rate are attractive to foreign capital. 

However, the narrowing U.S.-China yield spread will lead to slower inflows into the onshore bond market, and direct investment next year could ease, considering multiple factors, including regulations, U.S.-China relations and China’s slowing economy, Cheung said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Renminbi has been slowly appreciating versus the Dollar since early 2021. That reticence of the Chinese government to deploy massive monetary and fiscal stimulus during the pandemic have contributed to the strength of the currency and the relative attraction of Renminbi bonds.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
January 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Stocks Rally With Tech, Property in Lead Amid Easing Bets

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

The Hang Seng Tech Index jumped 4.5%, with Meituan and Tencent Holdings among those leading gains. The gauge has started 2022 with an advance after losing about a third of its value last year amid Beijing’s clampdown on tech companies. 

The rally followed clarification from China’s internet regulator late Wednesday that it’s not asking to approve all investments or fundraising by big tech companies, denying an earlier media report.  

A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of Chinese real estate developers advanced 3.6%, following reports that the government may ease access to some funds. The sector’s gains came even as Thursday’s cut in the five-year loan prime rate left some market watchers disappointed.    

Shares of Country Garden Services Holdings Co. and Sunac China Holdings Ltd. surged more than 10% each. The unwinding of some short positions also likely aided the rally in property stocks, traders said.  

Agile Group, Shimao Group and Guangzhou R&F have about 20% of their free-float shares sold short, among the highest in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, according to data from IHS Markit. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chinese New Year is on February 1st and will be followed by a week-long holiday for mainland markets. At the same time the winter Olympics begins on the 4th which will focus the sporting media’s attention on Beijing. The central bank is making sure its messaging is clear ahead of the shutdown. That’s also aimed at instilling some confidence in investors that the squeeze on private property developers will be limited to that sector.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
January 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Cuts Interest Rate as Growth Risks Worsen With Omicron

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

“Consumption remains the weakest link in China’s growth story at the moment and that will by and large continue for much of this year,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics. “We think Beijing has a bottom line of around 5%. As is the case at the moment, if growth is weaker than that, they’d feel strongly motivated to pursue more policy easing.”

Economists expect more policy action from the PBOC in coming months. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said there’s a possibility the central bank will allow banks to lower the five-year loan prime rate, a reference for mortgages, on Thursday. The one-year rate was already cut in December. Economists at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and BNP Paribas see the likelihood of further reductions in the reserve requirement ratio for banks.   

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for liquidity dependent stocks is where the next big source of liquidity is going to come from. The US government is struggling to get additional spending measures passed. The Fed expects to be done with QE tapering in a couple of months and both Europe and Japan are not significantly increasing their programs. The potential for China to do more to support flagging growth is one of the few realistic possibilities for ample additional liquidity in the near term.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
January 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The China Upswing

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley 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.

Capital is both global and mobile. China demurred from opening the monetary and fiscal spigot during the early portion of the pandemic. It didn’t need to. Demand for its exports took off and it was possible to keep factories open because of the country’s strict quarantine regime. Using a period of outsized growth in its balance of trade to tighten up on overleverage in the property sector was a sound countercyclical policy.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Post Biggest One-Day Surge Since 2008

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

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index rallied 9.4%, its largest climb since 2008. Electric-vehicle maker Nio Inc. and Tencent Music Entertainment Group were among some of the best performers Thursday, climbing 15% each. Alibaba Group Holding rose 9.7%, while Tal Education Group advanced 15%.

“It’s finally time to buy Chinese equities,” Vital Knowledge analyst Adam Crisafulli wrote in a research note. The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index is back at levels that have acted as solid support going back over the last several years, he said.

U.S.-listed Chinese stocks have experienced a brutal selloff in 2021 as regulators in Beijing mounted a sweeping crackdown on the nation’s companies. That rout erased more than $1 trillion in value since February as authorities in the U.S. and China continued to put pressure on the firms. Despite Thursday’s rally, the group is still down about 42% this year and about 57% lower from its February peak.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Golden Dragon China Index had a dismal 2021. It was dragged lower by fears of nationalisation of China’s champion companies, the equivalent of a seismic event in the regulatory environment and the threat of shares needing to delist from US exchanges. That all occurred against a troubling backdrop of deteriorating sentiment that the trade war will ever end.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Our Market and Economic Observations Heading into 2022

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

Equity team co-heads Atul Narayan and Erin Miles on other equity markets catching up with the US: Looking ahead, it feels that things are primed for the equity markets that have lagged the US (China, Japan, the UK, Europe, etc.) to catch up. There are several factors at play. First, COVID has been a material relative support to US equities from all channels—favorable sector tilt, less virus economic impact, more support from falling rates (versus, say, Japan, where yields are pegged), and compressing risk premiums, given safe-haven appeal for US equities, especially the FAANMGs. We would expect the COVID impact to gradually fade in the coming year and this to be a relative support for the markets outside the US.

Second, China is showing early signs of moving toward easing after a year when the structural goals (deleveraging, rebalancing, common prosperity, etc.) were prioritized. This again will be a bigger relative support for economies like Japan, Europe, and EMs that are a lot more exposed to China. Finally, if you look back over the last 100 years, it’s almost always been the case that the winners of a given decade end up being laggards in the next one because of the degree of exuberance (and pessimism) that gets priced in following the winning (and losing) stretch. Given how stretched the relative positioning and pricing is today (for logical reasons), we expect the US versus rest of world diff to finally start to revert after a decade-long off-the-charts performance. The main things we are watching closely are the evolution of COVID globally, China’s policy stance, and the retail flows in the US, which were the biggest support for US equities over the past year and a half.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Based on valuations alone, there is a strong risk-adjusted argument for favouring ex-US assets. I also find the argument that a recovery for China’s economy would have a more positive effect on the Ex-US basket to be reasonable. However, momentum remains a tailwind for Wall Street which has been supported by the relative strength of the Dollar all year.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Three Sinovac Doses Fail to Protect Against Omicron in Study

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

While much is still unknown about how Sinovac’s shot holds up to omicron -- including how T cells, the immune system’s weapon against virus-infected cells, will respond -- the initial results are a blow to those who have received CoronaVac. There have been more than 2.3 billion doses of the shot produced and shipped out, mostly in China and the developing world. 

With omicron seen to be about 70 times more transmissible than the delta variant, the prospect of having to roll out different boosters or even re-vaccinate with a more omicron-specific vaccine will set back the world’s efforts to exit the pandemic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Evidence has been emerging for months that the primary Chinese made vaccines are ineffective against variants like Delta or Omicron. This article from Reuters focuses on China’s lockdown of Xi’an but highlights that none of the 200 cases found to date are from the Omicron variant. That suggests it is only a matter of time before the newer variant arrives despite the already strict measures to contain the threat already in place.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Developer Stocks Jump Most in a Month

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

Developers on mainland and Hong Kong bourses have diverged in recent weeks, with typically stronger firms listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen outperforming. A move by authorities encouraging lenders to fund acquisitions of projects held by distressed developers may benefit larger, often state-owned firms most. A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of Chinese property companies mostly traded in Hong Kong closed on Monday near a five-year low before rising 3.4% on Tuesday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The most likely scenario is many of the private property developers are going to be taken over by state-owned companies. Since that is the most likely result, the state-owned sector will be the primary beneficiary of the rationalisation of the property developers’ sector. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Economic Slump Fuels Calls for More Stimulus

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

The weakening of retail sales surprised analysts who were expecting a boost from the annual online “Singles Day” shopping festival. Spending in the restaurant and catering sector fell year-on-year in November, while car sales dropped for a fifth straight month. 

China has been facing persistent outbreaks of the delta-variant and recorded its first cases of the more-contagious omicron variant this week, adding to pressure on authorities to implement local lockdowns.

What Bloomberg Economics Says...
China’s November activity data suggest the economy is still under strain, though the production side appears to be stabilizing. The pressure on the demand side was clear, with growth in both fixed-asset investment and retail sales extending slowdowns. We expect fiscal and monetary policies to become more supportive in the months ahead.

The central bank refrained from easing monetary policy on Wednesday. It kept the interest rate for one-year loans to banks unchanged and only rolled over about half of the maturing debts, withdrawing liquidity from the banking system. A recently announced cut to the reserve requirement ratio for banks takes effect from Wednesday, which should make it cheaper for them to extend new loans.

There was limited reaction in financial markets to the data. The CSI 300 Index was down 0.6% as of 1:45 p.m. in Shanghai. The yield on 10-year government bonds was flat at 2.88% and the yuan strengthened less than 0.1% to 6.3644 per dollar.

A weak labor market further worsened the outlook for consumer spending. The surveyed jobless rate inched up to 5% while the average number of hours worked per week fell slightly from the previous month.

“Domestic consumption remains weak with retail sales disappointing,” said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “The incremental increase in the jobless rate is concerning. The authorities should pledge more support and offer a stronger signal to the market.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The contrast between China and the rest of the world is growing increasingly stark. The demand surge during the pandemic has not yet ebbed in much of the rest of the world but is quickly receding in China. The key variable is liquidity. The USA and Europe spent inordinate sums to support their economies. China clamped down on personal freedoms and did what was necessary to ensure factories were operational, but did not engage in anywhere near the same level of monetary and fiscal accommodation.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evergrande Declared in Default as Huge Restructuring Looms

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

While Evergrande bondholders face deep haircuts in a restructuring that could take months or even years to resolve, there were few signs of financial contagion on Thursday. That’s partly because investors had been anticipating a default for months, but also thanks to a flurry of activity by China’s government to cushion the blow.

Policy makers have in recent weeks cut lenders’ reserve requirements, signaled an easing of real estate curbs and rolled out measures to ensure higher-rated developers retain access to funding. They’ve also taken a leading role in Evergrande’s restructuring, appointing officials from the developer’s home province to help oversee the process. 

While that’s likely to help prevent nightmare scenarios of an uncontrolled Evergrande collapse, authorities have made it clear they have no intention of bailing out the property empire started by billionaire Hui Ka Yan 25 years ago. In a pre-recorded video message at a seminar in Hong Kong on Thursday, People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang described Evergrande’s situation as a market event that should be dealt with in a market-oriented way. 

The Shenzhen-based developer, which disclosed more than $300 billion of total liabilities as of June, said in a brief exchange filing on Dec. 3 that it will “actively engage” with offshore creditors on a restructuring plan. But with Chinese authorities now calling the shots, the developer has stayed largely silent on details of what its restructuring might look like. 

Even Fitch has struggled to get information from Evergrande, noting on Thursday that the developer didn’t respond to its request for confirmation on this week’s coupon payments. “We are therefore assuming they were not paid,” Fitch analysts wrote in a statement. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that bondholders hadn’t received the money.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The long-expected default of China Evergrande is now underway and was preceded by the Kaisa’s default. Aoyuan’s difficulties are now also making headlines. Against a background of sensationalist media coverage, the Chinese administration is making enough liquidity available to support the wider property sector. They are also engaging in a forensic audit of local government off balance sheet vehicles to find out just how big the problem is.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gundlach Sees 'Rough Waters' for Market as Fed Pursues Taper

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

Gundlach, 62, said the reason why Fed Chair Jerome Powell characterizes the economy as strong, but not strong enough to allow for a rate hike at this point, is that the underlying condition is in fact weak -- artificially propped up by an unprecedented degree of stimulus.

Here are some other takeaways from Gundlach’s remarks:
He focused heavily on inflation, saying the annual pace of gains in the consumer price index could hit 7% in the next month or two. He ran through numerous inflation measures and pointed out that shelter costs have climbed significantly. He also said it’s possible that the CPI inflation gauge won’t drop below 4% throughout 2022.

Markets could face more volatility now that the Fed has said it might quicken its tapering program.

Gundlach reiterated that he bought European stocks for the first time in 12 years, which he disclosed a few months ago. He still owns some of those and they’ve done just OK until recently. He didn’t own emerging-markets equities, though he envisioned a scenario when they might outperform U.S. firms. “We’re looking for major opportunities” and emerging markets could be one over the next few years, he said.

The dollar has been in structural decline since 1985, he said, reiterating that the twin-deficit problem (that’s the current-account gap and the federal budget deficit) will cause the greenback to fall over time, which bodes well for emerging markets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’ve been saying for most of this year that the Dollar is the lynchpin for a migration away from US Dollar assets. Wall Street has outperformed by a wide margin from the perspective of international investors since 2008.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review December 3rd 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

A year ago, I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Monday every month. The last was on October 1st. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

One of the most basic truisms in the financial markets is it is easier to make money in a bull market. The bull market that began in late 2008 and early 2009 has been liquidity fuelled. That was not obvious to everyone a decade ago but now everyone gets the message. Money printing inflates asset prices. As long as central banks are printing, we will have bull markets and the most speculative assets will perform best.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
December 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to Close Loophole Used by Tech Firms for Foreign IPOs

Companies currently listed in the U.S. and Hong Kong that use VIEs would need to make adjustments so their ownership structures are more transparent in regulatory reviews, especially in sectors off limits for foreign investment, the people said. It’s unclear if that would mean a revamp of shareholders or, more drastically, a delisting of the most sensitive firms -- moves that could revive fears of a decoupling between China and the U.S. in areas like technology. Details of the proposed rules are still being discussed and could change.

The overhaul would represent one of Beijing’s biggest steps to crack down on overseas listings following the New York IPO of ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc., which proceeded despite regulatory concerns. Authorities have since moved swiftly to halt the flood of firms seeking to go public in the U.S., shuttering a path that’s generated billions of dollars for technology firms and their Wall Street backers.

It’s all part of a yearlong campaign to curb the breakneck growth of China’s internet sector and what Beijing has termed a “reckless” expansion of private capital. Banning VIEs from foreign listings would close a gap that’s been used for two decades by technology giants from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. To Tencent Holdings Ltd. to sidestep restrictions on foreign investment and list offshore. It potentially thwarts the ambitions of firms like ByteDance Ltd. contemplating going public outside the mainland.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The era of China’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” regulation of the equity market is over. The government has been suspicious of the ease with which companies were raising capital overseas for years. The most particular concern is that foreign interests are gaining control of boards and companies are too independent from government oversight. That’s particularly true as plans become more ambitious and require national focus. Didi’s sneak listing, while regulators were away from the office, brought the issue to a head.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Nazi Inspiring China's Communists

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

Jiang is also widely credited with authoring the 2014 Chinese-government white paper that gives Beijing “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong. In a nod to Schmitt, the paper claims that the preservation of sovereignty—of “one country”—must take precedence over civil liberties—of “two systems.” Using Schmitt’s rationale, he raises the stakes of inaction in Hong Kong insurmountably high: No longer a liberal transgression, the security law becomes an existential

Chen and Jiang are “the most concrete expression thus far of [China’s] post-1990s turn to Schmittian ideas,” Ryan Mitchell, a law professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote in a paper in July. They are the vanguard of the statist movement, which supplies the rationale for the authoritarian impulses of China’s leaders. And though it is unclear precisely how powerful they are in the upper echelons of the party, these statists share the same outlook as their paramount leader. “Xi Jinping’s big project is on reinventing and revitalizing state capacity,” Jude Blanchette, China chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “He is a statist.”

Why has a Nazi thinker garnered such a lively reception in China? To some degree, it is a matter of convenience. “Schmitt serves certain purposes that Marxism should have done, but can no longer do,” Haig Patapan, a politics professor at Griffith University in Australia who has written on Schmitt’s reception in China, told me. Schmitt gives pro-Beijing scholars an opportunity to anchor the party’s legitimacy on more primal forces—nationalism and external enemies—rather than the timeworn notion of class struggle.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It has been apparent for years that China is increasingly adopting a fascist doctrine of state supremacy. In just the same way that Nazi Germany was a rule by law society, China is emulating that progression.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jamie Dimon Jokes, but Will China's Leadership Laugh?

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

“The Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year — so is JPMorgan,” the bank’s chief executive officer, Jamie Dimon, said Tuesday at a panel discussion at the Boston College Chief Executives Club. “I’d make a bet we last longer,” reported Bloomberg News. 

And

In China, business dealings often come down to narrative. One day, a foreign bank is welcome, and its presence is seen as helping China improve its financial industry. The next day, the same enterprise could be painted as a predatory vulture. Words matter, and harmless intent or humor can be misconstrued in translation. Jamie Dimon has every right to tell a joke, but it always helps to know your audience.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The longevity and persistence of the Party are not topics of conversation in China. Jamie Dimon may as well have been using cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in his PowerPoint. That’s the closest parallel for the gaffe committed yesterday. It is reasonable to expect JPMorgan’s prospective Chinese private banking clients to think twice before the starting a relationship. Retribution may not happen immediately but it will come.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Prudent to file 'loss of state-owned assets' allegations despite public discontent against Lenovo continues

This article from the Global Times by Hu Xijin may be of interest. Here is a section:

However, Lenovo actually derailed from the route of trade, industry and technology. Instead of making real efforts to scientific and technological innovation after original accumulation, it gradually withdrew from the front line of national scientific and technological progress, and made fewer contributions to China's core competitiveness. Many people felt that this failed to live up to their expectations on Lenovo as a well-established enterprise.

In particular, it has been eclipsed by tech companies such as Huawei that have suffered from US crackdown, and was not as innovative in patterns compared with emerging companies such as Xiaomi. But Liu and Yang, and their likes still enjoy a high salary of hundreds of millions of yuan in the partially state-owned enterprise. As a result, both the public image of the whole company and their own personal images have become fragile. In fact, doubts emerged a long time ago.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Calling out a publicly owned company for its failure to live up to its responsibility to the state’s expectations is a warning shot from the perspective of investors in the share.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Outlook Disappoints After China Slowdown Hurt Sales

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

Revenue growth at a plethora of divisions including its Cainiao logistics arm and local on-demand services underperformed expectations, while bread-and-butter customer management revenue from platforms like Taobao and Tmall grew just 3% -- the slowest in at least five quarters.

Competition is intensifying just as China grapples with the widest Covid-19 outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan. Rivals like JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. are stepping up investments to win over Alibaba’s users, just as a resurgence in coronavirus cases dents consumer spending. Gross domestic product expanded 4.9% in the September quarter, cooling from the 7.9% growth in the previous period, partly because of lockdown measures across many cities.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to invest heavily into three growth engines of domestic consumption, globalization, cloud computing and data intelligence,” Zhang told analysts on the call.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s growth has slowed meaningfully as the housing market shock therapy imposed in response to Evergrande’s overleverage has weighed on sentiment. As more credit is made available to property developers, speculative interest should begin to recovery over coming quarters.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mobius Bets on '50-Year Rally' in Indian Stocks as China Slows

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

“India is on a 50-year rally,” even if there are short bouts of bear markets, Mobius said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “India is maybe where China used to be 10 years ago,” he said, adding the government policies of unifying rules across states will help the country in the long run.

Mobius’ bullish view on India clashes with those of analysts at Morgan Stanley and Nomura Holdings Inc., who have downgraded the stock market after the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex Index more than doubled from a March 2020 low.

Emerging-market equities have trailed behind their developed-nation peers this year, held back by losses in China as the government has roiled markets with a widespread regulatory crackdown.

“People say emerging-markets look bad because China is dragging down the index, but they have to look at other areas such as India that are going up,” said Mobius…

Eoin Treacy's view -

Saying that India could be on a 50-year bull market is not incompatible with the risk of a reversion towards the mean which would correct the short-term overvaluation.

India represents a significant growth opportunity but is also subject to volatility. The Nifty Index remains in a reasonably consistent uptrend but is best bought following inevitable occasional setbacks.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Inflation Risks Build as Producers Pass on Costs

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

The producer price index climbed 13.5% from a year earlier, the fastest pace in 26 years and above economists’ median forecast for a 12.3% gain, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Wednesday. The consumer price index rose 1.5%, the highest since September 2020 and exceeding the projected 1.4% gain.

Producer prices in China have been rising rapidly in the past few months, first due to the global commodity price rally and then output curbs caused by a power crunch. Consumer inflation is also starting to pick up as weather-related supply problems push up food prices and manufacturers pass on higher costs to retailers. 

The data “implies broad-based inflation pressure on both the production side and the consumer side,” said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong Ltd. “Inflationary pressure and the more hawkish stance of monetary policy in other major economies will likely limit China’s room to maneuver for monetary easing.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China exported deflation for much of the last twenty years, with a steady flow of cheaply manufactured goods flooding the global market. That boosted consumption as well as created the impression prices would never again rise in an unexpected matter.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Developers Repay Bonds Early as Contagion Spreads

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

As stress among Chinese developers mounts, some firms are telegraphing their ability to meet debt
obligations.

On Monday, Zhenro Properties Group Ltd. said it informed a bond trustee it will redeem its 5.95% dollar notes early in full on Nov. 16. Central China Real Estate Ltd. on Tuesday said it has remitted funds to a trustee for payment of its 6.75% dollar bonds, which are due Nov. 8.

“Central China Real Estate becomes one of a string of developers publicly setting aside money to redeem offshore bonds in apparent attempts to set themselves apart from weaker firms,” said Daniel Fan, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Property companies need to do all they can to restore investor faith. Yields on Chinese junk dollar bonds -- dominated by real estate firms -- surged to more than 20% on Monday, the highest in at least a decade. Credit assessors are downgrading the industry’s companies at the fastest pace on record. At least four developers defaulted last month and others sought to delay near-term bond payments as contagion sparked by China Evergrande Group spreads.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s property developers are in a fight for survival. Regardless of how leveraged or otherwise their business models are, they all require access to liquidity. That’s creating a rush to put distance between themselves and China Evergrande, which is in a state of terminal decline.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
November 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Urges Winter Food Stockpiling, Prompting Online Worry

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

China’s bracing for a cold snap this week, with temperatures in some regions forecast to fall by as much as 15 degrees Celsius. Vegetable prices typically rise when the temperature drops in winter and supply is unable to catch up with increasing demand before the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Monday statement told local commerce departments to coordinate more to improve local and inter-provincial supply chains for vegetables and also to strengthen monitoring of the prices of key staples such as vegetables and meat. 

Major agricultural distributors were encouraged to sign long-term contracts with producers, while provinces in both southern and northern China were told to improve their vegetable reserve systems and also release meat and vegetables from the reserves in a timely manner to replenish supplies. 

The call to stock up on food comes less than two weeks after a different government department told companies not to hoard food. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Food prices are rising everywhere and that is putting everyone on edge. The experience of empty supermarket shelves was isolated to only a few household items during the pandemic while supply of staples was relatively constant. We’re still eating the rice we bought in January 2020 as a precautionary measure for example. (The chocolate is long gone).



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Macro Case for Precious Metals

Thanks to a subscriber for this chart-laden article from Crescat Capital. Here is a section:

As inflation continues to develop in the economy, see below the incredible link between gold and CPI since the GFC.

Note how after the pandemic lows, gold front ran the potential risk of a rise in consumer prices and the entire precious metals market appreciated sharply.

It is important to remember that before recently peaking, gold had been going on a streak for two years already.

The metal was up more than 75% from August 2018 to August 2020 and even reached historical highs during this period.

Back then, with CPI around 1%, very few investors foresaw inflation as a risk to the economy. Now it is a real problem.

We think gold likely appreciated too quick and too fast becoming what some thought as an obvious trade.

Extreme sentiment probably explains the reason for its recent weakness after signaling way earlier than any other asset the possibility that an inflationary environment could be ahead of us.
We are now on the other side of this extreme.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have a lot of sympathy with the view that gold ran ahead for almost two years so it was due a pause. We also know that medium-term corrections in gold can last up to 18 months so it is a good time to start looking at the sector again since the peak was in August 2020.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Urges Evergrande's Hui to Pay Debt With His Own Wealth

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

Chinese authorities told billionaire Hui Ka Yan to use his personal wealth to alleviate China Evergrande
Group’s deepening debt crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

Beijing’s directive to the Evergrande founder came after his company missed an initial Sept. 23 deadline for a coupon payment on a dollar bond, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. Local governments across China are monitoring Evergrande’s bank accounts to ensure company cash is used to complete unfinished housing projects and not diverted to pay creditors, the people said.

The demand that Hui tap his own fortune to pay Evergrande’s debt adds to signs that Beijing is reluctant to orchestrate a government rescue, even as the property giant’s crisis spreads to other developers and sours sentiment in the real estate market. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on the billionaire class as part of his “common prosperity” campaign to reduce the country’s yawning wealth gap.

It’s unclear whether Hui’s fortune is big and liquid enough to make a sizable dent in Evergrande’s liabilities, which swelled to more than $300 billion as of June. The developer’s dollar bonds are trading at deep discounts to par value as investors brace for what could be one of China’s largest-ever
debt restructurings.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bailing out troubled lenders during the credit crisis and letting their senior management walk away with golden handshakes helped to seed a populist backlash against the status quo in the USA. That was exacerbated by a foreclosure crisis that saw millions of people kicked out of their homes. China appears to have learned from that mistake and Hui Ka Yan is unlikely to escape Evergrande’s dissolution unscathed.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Vows to Keep Property Curbs, Evergrande Risk Seen Limited

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

The property controls have achieved good results and the government will refrain from using the real estate sector as a short-term economic stimulus measure, Liu Zhongrui, an official at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday. Evergrande is an “individual” case and won’t hurt the overall credibility of Chinese firms, which is backed by the country’s economic stability, he said.

Property controls to stamp out speculation in the housing market have weighed on the country’s indebted developers, which are now seeing sales plunge and home prices snapping a years-long streak of increases. While officials have told banks to speed up mortgage lending again, the central bank has indicated that contagion risks from Evergrande are “controllable” and unlikely to spread.

Property lending growth at Chinese banks slowed to 8.6% this year through September, Wang Zhaodi, a spokesman at the CBIRC, said. That’s down from 12% in the first quarter, which was the slowest pace in eight years.

New-home prices in 70 cities fell 0.08% in September, the first drop in six years, official data showed this week, posing a potentially big blow for an economy that counts on property-related industries for almost a quarter of its output.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China Evergrande was ordered not to default on its US Dollar debt, so it has made a last-minute payment to avoid that outcome this weekend. It has late payment deadlines on two additional bonds due before the end of the month. Since it has so far failed to reach agreements on asset sales, it begs the question how long more can this go on for?



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Falling Home Prices Cast Another Shadow Over Economy

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

There are “individual problems” in the real estate market, but the risks are controllable overall, Vice Premier Liu He said at the same event, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Reasonable funding needs in the sector are being met, Liu was quoted as saying.

Some analysts expect the current real estate slump to be less harsh than previous ones because inventories remain relatively small. Developers have been more rational about building projects in coastal cities where demand is higher, said Chen Long, a partner at Beijing-based consultancy Plenum.

“The relatively low stock of unsold housing limits the risk of a major downturn,” Oxford Economics said in a note on Wednesday. “We think the most likely scenario is a contained short-term downturn.”

Still, any recovery will be difficult until home values resume rising. 

“If property prices stop growing, we won’t buy,” said Jack, a tech worker in Shenzhen who didn’t want to be identified by his surname for fear of reprisals from his company. “Right now, I’ll sit and watch.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Federal Reserve is sensitive to equity prices because it is the most favoured asset class of US citizens. For the same reason the ECB is more concerned with bond prices than other asset classes. In China the vast majority of savers have some exposure to property prices so it is reasonable to ask how much pain can the government tolerate before they bend to market pressure?



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Quarterly Global Outlook 4Q 2021

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from UOB 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. 

Every country had to break the piggy bank to deal with the pandemic. That helped to boost economic activity and demand for just about everything over the last 18 months. Going back to less profligate ways will be a challenge everywhere, but emerging markets have the benefit of growth to ease the challenge. They also have more recent experience of doing what is necessary to combat inflation which should be a useful skillset going forwards.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Breaks Silence on Evergrande, Says Risks Controllable

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

Zou also said:

China’s government has insisted that property not be used as a short-term stimulus for the economy
Cities have seen an excessive surge in property prices, which mortgage restrictions helped to curtail
Property investment has slumped recently after some developers faced credit problems, but this is a normal market phenomenon
Some banks have misunderstood macroprudential policies regarding the property sector.

“This is the strongest signal yet that authorities won’t come to the rescue of creditors of Evergrande and other developers,” said Travis Lundy, a special situations analyst who publishes on Smartkarma. They are sticking to the stance that there won’t be any property-boosting measures, aside from small steps such as faster home-loan processing and efforts to alleviate mortgage limits at banks, he added. 

Financial regulators have told some major banks to accelerate approval of mortgages in the last quarter, Bloomberg reported earlier Friday. Lenders were also permitted to apply to sell securities backed by residential mortgages to free up loan quotas, easing a ban imposed early this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s ironic that when China talks about market principles it means they are no longer willing to bailout failed ventures but are more than willing to curtail growth in successful ones; that do not gel with policy. The number of defaults has been trending higher since they were allowed a few years ago, and will surge this year.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Bonds Slide Most Since August as Bets on Easing Unravel

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

Bonds fell after the central bank withdrew a net 190 billion yuan ($29.5 billion) of short-term funds from the banking system Monday after draining the most since January on Friday. The likelihood of a rate cut in the near term is low and the timing of a reduction in the reserve requirement ratio is uncertain, state-backed China Securities Journal said.

China’s benchmark 10-year yields climbed five basis points to 2.95% on Monday, the highest close since July. 

The jump in 10-year yields sent them out of the 10-basis-point range where they had been since the start of August, suggesting traders are giving up bets on aggressive monetary easing. The selloff also followed losses in other global bond markets amid a surge in inflation expectations due to rising energy prices and central-bank progress toward normalization.

The selloff is far from over, analysts at Guotai Junan Securities Co. led by Qin Han in Shanghai wrote in a research note. “All the factors, apart from weak economic growth, are negative for the bond market. The adjustment in China’s bond yields in the fourth quarter may be more drastic than expected.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The PBoC actively supplied funds to the banking system ahead of the mid-Autumn festival holiday. That helped to allay fears of outright contagion to the wider market and supported the view the administration is fully aware of the risks the property market slowdown entails. By taking some of that money back out, the PBoC is trying to signal they have no intention of bailing out the whole world, like they did following the credit crisis. They might not have a choice. 



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lumber prices have risen 50% since August, and 2 experts say the resurgence will continue through early 2022

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

A reason for the price increase in lumber is a modest increase in renovation demand after price-sensitive buyers proceeded with home improvement projects now that wood prices have seen a substantial correction, Dustin Jalbert, senior economist at Fastmarkets, told Insider.

Though Jalbert does not expect the kind of runup in lumber prices seen earlier this year - a period when there was a backlog of homes waiting to be built and a shortage of key construction supplies - as pandemic-related supply constraints continued to ease.

"The market has finally transitioned to a more balanced state compared with being severely oversupplied in the summer months, which ultimately drove the massive correction in prices from record-high levels set in May," Jalbert told Insider.

And even if Americans wanted to build and renovate homes, the field consumption of lumber is being bogged down by shortages of other complementary materials such as windows, siding, cabinet appliances, and garage doors, he added.

The supply side, meanwhile, continues to face challenges, Jalbert said. Log costs in British Columbia, which accounts for about 16% of North American lumber capacity, remain elevated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Commodities tend to remain in well-defined ranges for years before breaking out and rallying in a profound manner that creates an uncomfortable feeling for consumers and sets new price expectations for sellers. Lumber spiked higher between 1991 and 1993. It subsequently gave up most of the advance but never dropped back into the preceding range.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba, Didi, and Other Chinese Tech Stocks Surge as U.S.-China Relations Brighten

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

The U.S. and China agreed Wednesday that President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping would meet before the end of the year. It will be a virtual meeting and follows a call between the two leaders that was held in September -- that was their first in seven months.

The virtual summit was announced shortly after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met a senior Chinese foreign policy advisor, Yang Jiechi, in Zurich, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"While we expect minimal material improvement in the tone or substance of their relationship in the coming months, we still see investment opportunities on both sides, especially in the areas of capital markets, technology, cybersecurity, and climate change," said strategists led by Mark Haefele, the chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

"In our view, investors should avoid taking sides. The best long-term approach is to seek exposure to the different economic cycles, growth opportunities, and sectoral trends offered by both countries," the team at UBS said.

Strategists at the Swiss bank noted speculation around possible topics for discussion included trade, Taiwan, and climate issues.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Churchill’s “Jaw-Jaw is better than “War-War” comes to mind. It also begs the question whether the Biden administration is willing to make concessions on Taiwan’s independence for better trading conditions? That was certainly the case during the initial negotiations with China 50 years ago and not a lot has changed in terms of China’s priorities.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing Blinked First in China's Energy Crisis

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

It looks like the government has blinked first. Miners, after months of being ordered to stick closely to capacity limits, are now being ordered to produce as much as they can, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. That should help to take the wind out of surging thermal coal prices and prevent the current crisis from extending into the winter, when sufficient energy supply can be a life-or-death matter.

There is, to be sure, an attempt to make this retreat look like a withdrawal. The latest advice from Beijing’s economic planners last week focuses on protecting individuals but continuing the crackdown on industry, especially when it’s most energy-intensive and polluting. Allowing generators to raise prices to end-users, as is happening in Guangdong province, will also help create a more commercial power market. Electricity consumption controls have even been loosened in a way that would permit potentially unlimited volumes of cheaper renewable power into the market.

The risk, as with the rapidly fading fears over Evergrande, is that Beijing has simply deferred a pressing problem again. If China doesn’t reform a system that refuses to face up to its internal contradictions, the problems of an economy fed by credit and carbon will only fester and grow. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Self sufficiency is Chinese government policy. Coal imports do not gel with that ambition so efforts to defray demand are likely to persist in a piecemeal manner subject to necessity. However, the reality is winters north of the Yangtze River are harsh and most communities rely on coal to heat homes, factories and run electricity.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
October 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review October 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”

Supply Inelasticity Meets Rising Demand was the phrase David coined to explain the last commodity-led bull market. After decades of underinvestment in commodity supply infrastructure, the market was not prepared for the massive swell of new demand from China; as it leaped from economic obscurity into one of the largest economies in the world. A decade of investment in new production was needed to supply China and that crested ahead of the credit crisis in 2008.

Today, we also have extreme example of supply inelasticity, and demand is breaking records for all manner of goods and services. The factors contributing to these trends are quite different from a decade though. Some will be resolved relatively quickly. Others will take years.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Keeps Cash Engine Running in Ninth Day of Injections

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

The central bank has added a total net 750 billion yuan via open market operations since Sept. 17. When onshore markets reopen on Oct. 8, 340 billion yuan of 14-day reverse repurchase agreements will fall due. Later in the month, 500 billion yuan of medium-term lending facility is set to expire. 

Overnight interbank funding costs slid 43 basis points to 1.48%, the lowest since May, after the cash infusion. The seven-day repurchase rate, which covers the week-long break, rose 36 basis points to 2.55%, a level last reached at end-June. 

The injection is also expected to allay fears of a contagion stemming from Evergrande’s debt problems. In a bid to contain the fallout from the property developer’s woes, China has stepped in to buy a stake in a struggling regional bank from Evergrande.

“The purpose of liquidity injection is mainly to give market confidence amid the Evergrande crisis,” said Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Hong Kong Ltd. “Having said that, there is still a possibility of a RRR cut in October due to a slowdown in economic activities caused by supply constraints and slower export growth.”

Speculation of an easing comes after recent data indicated that the pace of expansion in the world’s second-largest economy is slowing. A power crisis is adding to the strain and economists from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among those who have slashed their growth projections for this year.

China’s 10-year sovereign bond yield fell one basis point to 2.86% on Wednesday. It sank to a 14-month low after the PBOC unleashed 1 trillion yuan of liquidity into the system via a reduction in the RRR in July. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

For China watchers, the big question over the last year was when would the credit cycle turn. It is looking increasingly likely that the China Evergrande default is the catalyst for additional infusions of liquidity that will likely last for at least the next year and potentially longer.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dollar Tree to Add Products Above $1 in Dollar Tree Plus Stores

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest. Here it is in full: 

Dollar Tree said it plans to begin adding new price points above $1 across all Dollar Tree Plus stores.

To test additional price points above $1 in selected legacy Dollar Tree stores
On track in 2021 to have 500 Dollar Tree Plus stores by fiscal year-end
Another 1,500 stores are planned for fiscal 2022; at least 5,000 Dollar Tree Plus stores are expected by the end of fiscal 2024
Currently has 105 Combo Stores; expects to add 400 Combo Stores in fiscal 2022
Sees potential for up to 3,000 Combo Stores over the next several years

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rising shipping costs, power cuts in major manufacturing centres and rising commodity prices all point towards margin compression for the sellers of low-priced items. They have no choice than to pass that inflation along to customers. The temporary shutting down of port facilities outside Shanghai will also have had the knock-on effect of putting upward pressure on prices because so much manufacturing capacity of low-cost items comes from Zhejiang.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Solar ETF Drops Most in Four Months as China Rattles Sector

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

Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) falls as much as 6.5% intraday, the most since May 4, amid growing investor jitters about China’s real estate crackdown potentially sparking a financial contagion. 

Among individual stocks, JinkoSolar down as much as 10.6% during the session, Beam Global -9%, Daqo New Energy -10%, First Solar-9.3%, Canadian Solar -7.8%

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is by far the largest manufacturer of solar panels. Silica is a major component for the sector and production is being hampered by electricity supply disruptions. That’s taking a toll on the solar sector. At the same time the upward pressure on government bond yields threatens the business model of many domestic installation businesses.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on slower Chinese growth:

Think, you may find interesting this Financial Times story that looks into the longer-term consequences of Evergrande saga - https://on.ft.com/3io45gH (open link). It seems that the Chinese real estate market finally (at long, long last) is crumbling, not without help of the country leaders. If it is so and given the fact that the property market accounts for 29% of the Chinese GDP (and land sales to developers, for the third of local governments’ revenues), the economic growth seems to slow dramatically in the coming years. What could be implications, in your view? We all remember that China and its industrialization were the major drivers of the global commodities supercycle in the 21st century. Also, every time China has got into trouble, the Communist party used the same recipe “more investments in infrastructure and construction, more leverage. If now China and its property sector grow much more slowly, not to mention possible contraction of the latter, it will need much less metals and materials, and also possibly less gas (to power plants and send it to homes) and even oil (fewer working trucks and construction equipment). What do you think?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email which may be of interest to the Collective. Here is a section from the FT article:

An even more consequential trend for China’s political economy is the collapse in land sales by local governments, which fell 90 per cent year on year in the first 12 days of September, official figures show. Such land sales generate about one-third of local government revenues, which in turn are used to help pay the principal and interest on some $8.4tn in debt issued by several thousand local government financing vehicles. LGFVs act as an often unseen dynamo for the broader economy; they raise capital through bond issuance that is then used to fund vast infrastructure projects.

The property market has funded local governments for decades. Without a solid trend of land sales municipal governments face bankruptcy. There is just no way the central government can let that happen. The first order solution will be to avert contagion into the rest of the property market following Evergrande’s demise.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evergrande marks the end of China's economic miracle

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Ambrose Evans Pritchard for The Telegraph. Here is a section:

Harvard Professor Ken Rogoff and Yuanchen Yang (now at the IMF), say Chinese property and construction amount to 29pc of GDP when all ancillary sectors are included. Housing makes up four fifths of personal wealth and land sales make 40pc of local government revenues.

They argue that this extreme dependence on the property nexus has not been tested because super-charged growth rates hide all sins. But China is no longer growing fast. Xi Jinping’s neo-Maoist ideology of “common prosperity” marks a profound break with the Deng Xiaoping catch-up model.

“We find that a 20pc fall in real estate activity could lead to a 5-10pc fall in GDP, even without amplification from a banking crisis, or accounting for the importance of real estate as collateral,” they said.

The US Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke once famously said “we’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis” and nothing had substantially changed. But it had changed. The national Case-Shiller index would soon fall by 36pc.

The Rogoff-Yang paper said nothing should be assumed in the case of China either. “Even the very cautious pragmatic Chinese regulators may not yet be fully anticipating the depth of the possible fall in China’s housing prices,” it said.

Deflating an economy that is so hyper-leveraged to property is going to take years and will be untidy. China will almost certainly avert a Minsky crisis but it may not avert a long grinding semi-slump that profoundly changes the world’s perception of the country.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This conclusion makes sense to me. We are probably at the peak of speculative interest in the Chinese property market. The Party understands that the property sector will represent a threat to its rule if there is a collapse but also if prices accelerate further from here. That suggests progressively more measures to reduce leverage in the system. At a minimum that implies smaller companies and less construction activity.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Traders Given Evergrande Reprieve as PBOC Adds Liquidity

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

China’s central bank boosted its gross injection of short-term cash into the financial system after concern over a debt crisis at China Evergrande Group roiled global markets. 

The People’s Bank of China pumped 120 billion yuan ($18.6 billion) into the banking system through reverse repurchase agreements, resulting in a net injection of 90 billion yuan. That matches the amount seen on Friday, and was just below that of Saturday. Sentiment was also boosted after Evergrande’s onshore property unit said it plans to repay interest due Thursday on its local bonds. 

“The PBOC’s net injection is probably aimed at soothing nerves as the market worries about Evergrande,” said Eugene Leow, a senior rates strategist at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “While the aim may be to instill discipline, there is also a need to prevent contagion into the real economy or to other sectors.”

The need to calm market jitters is pressing amid losses in China-related equities worldwide over recent days amid concern over Evergrande’s debt woes. The benchmark CSI 300 Index fell as much as 1.9% Wednesday after the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index -- a gauge of Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong -- slid the most in two months on Monday. Losses came even as Wall Street analysts sought to reassure investors that Evergrande won’t lead to a Lehman moment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Any way we look at it, China will need to print more money. If the Evergrande issue is resolved through restructuring in a timely manner it will be less. If the issue is fudged and the hit to the economy is deep, it will be more. Following the announcement that a domestic bond coupon will be paid, there is only one question. What about international investors?



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is Evergrande a risk for global financial markets?

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

September 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Market Contagion Tests Xi's Resolve on Evergrande, Property Curbs

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

The response so far has been largely limited to the People’s Bank of China, which injected a net 90 billion yuan into the banking system on Friday. It added another 100 billion yuan on Saturday.

Evergrande has around $300 billion worth of liabilities, more than any other property developer in the world. It’s a whale in China’s high-yield dollar bond market, accounting for about 16% of outstanding notes. Some $83.5 million of interest on a five-year dollar bond comes due Thursday, and failure to pay within 30 days may constitute a default. Evergrande also needs to pay a 232 million yuan ($36 million) coupon on an onshore bond the same day.

Evergrande’s shares lost as much as 19% on Monday, briefly taking its market value to the lowest on record. The stock closed 10% lower.

“With policy makers showing no signs of wavering on property market deleveraging, the latest headlines regarding Evergrande likely suggest that housing activity may deteriorate further in the absence of the government providing a clear path toward an eventual resolution,” Goldman economists led by Hui Shan wrote in a Sunday note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world is finally waking up to the contagion risk represented by China Evergrande. The big question which still needs to be addressed is who owns the company’s debt. Most of the $300 billion in US Dollar bonds were sold to international investors, while there is also an undisclosed sum in off balance sheet liabilities.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How China's Pollution Fight Is Roiling Commodities

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

The growing importance of the environment in Beijing’s policy mix has left commodities markets caught between decelerations in both supply and demand. Iron ore prices more than halved between mid-May and mid-September as the steel production limits slashed demand for the steel-making ingredient. Aluminum, meanwhile, has jumped 46% so far this year as Chinese production -- more than half the world’s total --  of the energy-intensive metal is cut. The curbs on coal are particularly eye-catching because China has been wrestling with an unprecedented spike in the cost of the fuel. Coal futures in Zhengzhou hit a record in September, defying what should be a seasonal slowdown in demand. Any further cutbacks on output would run counter to the government’s pledges to stabilize prices by encouraging more domestic supply. It also would make another round of power rationing for industry more likely. Since coal is the major energy source in China for the production of fertilizer, its price has also soared.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for many commodity investors is how serious is China about curtailing emissions? Perhaps a better question is how important is it to China’s leadership that the country look good ahead of the Winter Olympics in less than five months? Very important, is probably an understatement.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Tech Crackdown, a short-term pain for the new growth phase?

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

As there is still no indication of the regulatory crackdown, investing in the tech sector at this current juncture could result in a high risk of catching falling knives. On the flipside, the attractive valuation and rapid growth of these China Tech companies may strike as a good bargain to long-term investors. The sell-off of some tech stocks were not a result of any fundamental changes, but rather investor sentiment, which could change again in a flash. First, we must understand the short and long-term impact of the crackdown. Here are 3 fundamental factors you may want to consider if you decide to buy the dip:

1. Will policy changes cause structural change to business’s model?
2. Companies’ valuation
3. Companies’ growth

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for investors is whether the pullback in Chinese tech companies is just another short-term purge prior to re-establishing the prior growth trajectory or whether it represents deeper issues.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Banks Are Dumping Dollars in Swap Markets, Traders Say

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

The PBOC is expected to conduct its monthly MLF operation on Wednesday, with 600 billion yuan due. Last week a central bank official said that interbank liquidity should remain balanced in the coming months, damping speculation that there’ll be another cut in the required reserve ratio soon. 

Money market traders are more cautious this month as cash demand could rise due to quarter-end regulatory checks and before China’s Golden Week holiday in early October. If the maturing MLF is not mostly rolled over or covered by another liquidity injection, market sentiment is likely to be further impacted, said Frances Cheung, rates strategist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. 

Evergrande Woes
Concern about the property sector amid the potential restructuring of China Evergrande Group -- the world’s most indebted developer -- could also be impacting swap rates. 

Market participants might be preparing for “the liquidity squeeze in crisis mode,” Mizuho Bank Ltd. chief Asian FX strategist Ken Cheung wrote in a note.

“Rising property sector concerns and specific credit concerns around Evergrande are raising pressure on banks’ liquidity management,” Eddie Cheung, senior EM strategist at Credit Agricole, wrote in a note. He expects onshore yuan liquidity conditions to remain tight in the near term.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the May holiday weekend, Didi snuck through an IPO in the USA while the Chinese regulators were away from work. That allowed the original investors to divest of at least some of their position before the company is dissected. As we approach the Mid-Autumn Festival Golden Week festival, where everyone will be on vacation for a week. and the stock market will be shut, it seems like an ideal time for creditors to make a move on Evergrande.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shanghai Copper Stockpiles at Lowest in a Decade, Nickel Jumps

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

Copper inventories extend a drop to the lowest level in almost 10 years, while aluminum holdings also fell and nickel inventories climbed, according to weekly data from Shanghai Futures Exchanges.

Copper -11% to 61,838 tons, lowest since Dec. 2011
Aluminum -1.6% to 228,529 tons, lowest since Dec.
Lead +3.3% to record 204,008 tons
Nickel +45% to 8,608 tons, following a more than 30% gain the previous week

Eoin Treacy's view -

The realisation that contagion risk in the property sector could bring down the whole economy has refocused the attention of the Chinese administration on easing up on liquidity tightening measures. That has helped to stabilise the high yield sector and is also helping to improve the outlook for industrial resources.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on China Evergrande's impending bankruptcy.

Hello Eoin, I really like your audios and try to listen to them almost every day and I find today's audio especially interesting because of your focus on Evergrande...and this is something I don't understand: how is it possible that a company of this size, being on the brink of bankruptcy, with a huge amount of USD debt (of which one can be sure it's on the books of big international players), keeps out of sight of the financial press...I can find almost nothing on this topic..and secondly: what do you think of the idea that the sudden drop of crypto was generated by the fact that Tether has usd evergrande bonds on its books...this seems to me a logical catalyst for this flash crash...

thank and keep up the good work...

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and this email which I believe will be of interest to the Collective. The reality is most journalists pay scant regard to the credit markets. On top of that writing negative, or cautionary, copy about China is dangerous for one’s career and particularly so if you happen to live in Hong Kong.    



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review September 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Wall Street is behaving like it is in a bubble. The most important thing is the bubble is still inflating.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top
September 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evergrande Contagion Fear Returns as Bonds Tumble Below 30 Cents

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

One of the company’s most widely held bonds plunged by 6 cents on the dollar to 28.5 cents on Wednesday, a record low. The rout -- triggered by Evergrande’s warning of a potential default if its asset-sale plans fail to materialize -- accelerated during European market hours as private banks offloaded positions, traders said.

The collateral damage was concentrated in junk-rated developers including Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd., Fantasia Holdings Group Co. and Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. The latter company’s dollar notes due 2024 tumbled 4.1 cents to 66.8, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. Declines in the broader Chinese high-yield space reached as much as 2 cents on the dollar, halting a tentative rally over the past few days. 

Investors in China’s $12 trillion bond market have become fixated on Evergrande as they weigh the ramifications of a potential default by the world’s most indebted developer. With bondholders, banks, suppliers and homebuyers exposed to the real estate giant, any collapse could roil China’s economy. While regulators urged the company to resolve its debt woes in a rare public rebuke earlier this month, they have said little about whether state support is forthcoming. President Xi Jinping has been trying to wean the Chinese financial system off implicit government guarantees that fueled years of outsized borrowing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China Evergrande is the biggest issuer of US Dollar denominated debt in the emerging markets. The financial markets are floating on a sea of Dollars. There are so many dollars in circulation that cross currency swaps are close to moving into a positive spread for the first time in years. Therefore, Evergrande’s problems are not arising because global liquidity is tightening. Instead, they are the result of government efforts to contain leverage ratios in the Chinese property market.



This section continues in the Subscriber's Area. Back to top