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September 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

House Sales Collapse as UK Lenders Withdraw Mortgage Offers

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

Deals for house purchases are collapsing after lenders pulled mortgage offers in response to soaring interest rates.

Smaller lenders such as Kensington, Accord Mortgages and Hodge were among those to say they were withdrawing products Tuesday. That follows the decision by Lloyds Banking Group Plc -- the UK’s biggest mortgage provider -- on Monday to halt some offers, while Virgin Money UK Plc temporarily stopped offering home loans to new customers.

Major firms weighed in later Tuesday. HSBC Holdings Plc told brokers it was removing new mortgage products for the rest of the day while Nationwide Building Society announced that it was increasing rates across product ranges starting Wednesday. Banco Santander SA said it was removing some products and increasing rates on many others.

Jessica Anderson, a 33-year-old who works in publishing, was set to buy a house in Walthamstow, east London, with her husband until the seller pulled out last week.

“We’re in an uncertain position where we’re not sure whether it still stands,” she said, regarding the couple’s mortgage offer. “Since the approval there have been two interest rate increases.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The UK housing market is at a significant point of peril because of interest rate uncertainty. Fixed rate loans typically trade at a 100-basis point premium over the 5-year government yield. At present that implies a mortgage rate of 5.7%.



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September 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Raises Gas Pressure as He Moves to Annex Ukraine Regions

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

Russia threatened to cut off the last gas pipeline to Ukraine’s European allies and moved to annex a large chunk of Ukrainian territory amid a string of military setbacks in the seven-month-long war.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Battlefield setbacks for Russia increase potential for them to cut off supplies of gas to all of Eastern Europe. That’s much more likely that the nuclear option.



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September 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC, SPR May Make $80 the New $60 for Oil

This note from Dow Jones may be of interest.

Tightly managed supplies by the OPEC-plus group and signs Washington will start restocking crude siphoned off from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve if oil falls to $80 suggests oil prices will stay relatively high despite a global economic slowdown, BofA Global Research says. "As spare capacity dwindles and capex lags, we think $80/bbl is now the new $60 for Brent crude oil," it says in a note. "Said differently, the 'OPEC-plus put' on average oil prices is higher today." It adds that a recent signal by OPEC-plus to reduce production even as oil traded above $90 was unprecedented, and a good indication it'll do what it takes to keep a floor on prices.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The USA is now an energy exporter. It no longer has a vested interest in permanently lower prices. Viewed from that perspective, the Norwegian policy suite comes into sharper focus.

Norway relies on hydro for most of its electricity production. That option is not open to the USA but domestic demand for natural gas will increasingly have to compete with global demand as LNG becomes a globally fungible commodity. That will be doubly true as new exporters become less reliant on fixed term contracts. Afterall, that was the practice more than a decade ago when consumers needed to be convinced of the need to build the necessary infrastructure. Today, the need is self-evident.



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September 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany Tightens Control Over Industry With Russian Oil Grab

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

Germany seized the local unit of Russian oil major Rosneft PJSC as Berlin moves to take sweeping control of its energy industry, secure supplies and sever decades of deep dependence on Moscow for fuel. 

Alongside its move for the Rosneft unit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration is in advanced talks to take over Uniper SE and two other major gas importers, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Germany is pressing ahead with an historic overhaul of its economy just two and half years after the Covid-19 pandemic, grabbing control over a huge chunk of its industrial base to prevent shortages and blackouts this winter. 

A decision on the next moves could come within days. The need for action is urgent with Uniper losing 100 million euros ($99.7 million) a day as it tries to replace Russian gas to maintain deliveries to local utilities and manufacturers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Germany took over all of the landesbanks during the Eurozone’s sovereign wealth crisis. Shorting individual stocks is frowned upon, with several bans being introduced over the last decade. The state has also waded into the market for failing companies, like Wirecard, and banned naked shorting. Therefore, it is not such a logical leap to think Germany will have fully nationalised the domestic gas industry within the year.



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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. 



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September 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Coming Global Crisis of Climate Policy

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

Politicians are happy to blame Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine invasion for the current energy disaster. But what transformed that one-off shift in the relative price for energy into a global disaster was two decades of green-energy policy beforehand. In Europe, that includes a fixation on renewables incapable of powering industrial economies absent battery technologies that don't exist, a refusal to tap domestic fossil-fuel reserves such as shale gas, and a deep and irrational hostility to nuclear power in many parts of the Continent.

This has created an energy system of dangerous rigidity and inefficiency incapable of adapting to a blow such as Russia's partial exit from the European gas market. It's almost inevitable that the imminent result will be a recession in Europe. We can only hope that it won't also trigger a global financial crisis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The tide has certainly turning against the revisionist green movement. This article is very representative of the growing groundswell of disillusionment with how electricity grids and generation has been managed.



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September 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Greed & Fear Negative SPX, Sees $130-$150 Oil Price

Thanks to a subscriber for this note summarizing the recent Raymond James Conference presentation by Christopher Wood. Here it is in full:

A few key takeaways (ask for replay)
a) has been negative USA , SPX P/S still very expensive at 2.5x, US M2 has risen by 40% in absolute terms since March 2020 (annualised rate of 15%), has slowed to an annualised rate of just 0.6% in the six months to July.
b) USA CPI ex-energy has been flat, while headline CPI down (due to oil price)
c) we see OIL price rising back to $130-$150, which would mean inflation expectations would rise too (0.80 correlation)
d) fossil fuel still 82% of global energy consumption
e) reminder EM equities vs US dollar index : 0.72 negative correlation
f) Indonesia has been our favorite market this year, credit growth rising
g) China property market woes outweigh infrastructure stimulus
i) we are neutral China
j) if YEN breaks 150 and we see 3% inflation in Japan, then base case is focus will be put on defending further Yen weakness
k) YEN is cheapest since 1971
l) India remains our favorite market on a 10 year view , we are heavy financials & property in India, housing affordability good
m) very underweight Australia (though + energy). Negative Australia housing as interest rates rising, home price declines accelerating

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a lot of discussion in the media about the outlook for rates, the war in Europe and the region’s energy crisis, the new UK administration, and the lockdowns in China ahead of the Party Congress. For me the one thing that was front of mind this morning was it is easier to make money on the short side than by going long. That tells us a lot about the wider environment. 



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September 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Energy Trading Stressed by Margin Calls of $1.5 Trillion

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

Aside from fanning inflation, the biggest energy crisis in decades is sucking up capital to guarantee trades amid wild price swings. That’s pushing European Union officials to intervene to prevent energy markets from stalling, while governments across the region are stepping in to backstop struggling utilities. Finland has warned of a “Lehman Brothers” moment, with power companies facing sudden cash shortages. 

“Liquidity support is going to be needed,” Helge Haugane, Equinor’s senior vice president for gas and power, said in an interview. The issue is focused on derivatives trading, while the physical market is functioning, he said, adding that the energy company’s estimate for $1.5 trillion to prop up so-called paper trading is “conservative.”

Many companies are finding it increasingly difficult to manage margin calls, an exchange requirement for extra collateral to guarantee trading positions when prices rise. That’s forcing utilities to secure multi-billion euro credit lines, while rising interest rates add to costs.

“This is just capital that is dead and tied up in margin calls,” Haugane said in an interview at the Gastech conference in Milan. “If the companies need to put up that much money, that means liquidity in the market dries up and this is not good for this part of the gas markets.”  

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB is looking primed to begin hiking rates while at the same time it will also be prevailed upon to provide significant additional liquidity. This is akin to taking with one hand and giving with the other. Even that’s a stretch.



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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%.



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August 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on European electricity prices

I wonder if it's possible to add the French and German electricity contracts in the chart library? thanks!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this suggestion. European energy has certainly become topical this year. Historically we have only updated prices for Nordpool contracts because so many Danish and Swedish electricity traders have come to The Chart Seminar. I do hope they remember acceleration is a trend ending. 



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August 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The UKs ã12 Billion UK Call May Be About to Jolt Inflation's Path

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

Deutsche Bank estimates that subtracting the rebate will reduce the Retail Prices Index, which determines payments on UK inflation-linked debt, by about 2.7 percentage points. That would lower the debt interest bill by around £14 billion this year, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Office for Budget Responsibility data. RPI is also tied to some consumer products, such as mobile phone tariffs.

Such savings would be welcomed by the government, which is under intense pressure to spend even more in response to the surge in energy costs. A similar reduction in the Consumer Prices Index, and a potentially lower path for interest rates as a result, could also save the government billions.

Based on CPI, UK inflation is already above 10%. The Bank of England forecasts that it will top out just above 13%, although a surge in gas prices in recent weeks mean officials will almost certainly have to increase that forecast. That means the ONS decision may impact the peak rate this winter, but not change the direction of the outlook for prices. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Persistent inflation has a long tail. The longer it lasts, the greater the effects for government finances in future. Index-linked pensions, tariffs and utilities all push higher with a lag from a current bout of inflation. That’s both a near-term headache and medium-term challenge for most governments. That greatly increases potential for government intervention. It is starting with subsidies and will quickly transition to price caps if prices fail to decline.  



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August 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iran May Drain Offshore Oil Cache If Nuclear Deal Reached

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

About 93 million barrels of Iranian crude and condensate are currently stored on vessels in the Persian Gulf, off Singapore and near China, according to ship-tracking firm Kpler, while Vortexa Ltd. estimates the holdings at 60 to 70 million barrels. In addition, there are smaller volumes in onshore tanks.

“Iran has built up a sizable flotilla of cargoes that could hit the market fairly soon,” said John Driscoll, chief strategist at JTD Energy Services Pte. Still, it may take “a bit of time” to iron out insurance and shipping issues, as well as spot and term sales post-sanctions, he said.

And

The focus for diplomats is the revival of a multinational accord that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of related sanctions, including on oil flows. The original deal collapsed after then-President Donald Trump abandoned it. Last week, the US sent its response to the latest proposal, boosting speculation an agreement may soon be struck, although Tehran said Sunday that exchanges will now drag on into September.

Iran’s offshore crude hoard compares with average daily global supply this year of about 100 million barrels a day, according to an estimate from the International Energy Agency. In the US, President Joe Biden has been releasing about 180 million barrels from the SPR over a six-month period.

And

Longer term after any deal is struck and the offshore cache is drained, Iran would seek to rebuild production and step up overseas sales. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is skeptical about a breakthrough in the near term, said even if a deal is reached, these wouldn’t begin until 2023, according to a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bringing Iran’s oil supply onto the market is desirable for consumers faced with restricted supply from Russia. The price is re-admitting the biggest state sponsor of terrorism back into the global market. That’s obviously controversial for countries across the GCC and Israel. It’s a high price to pay for boosting supply in the near-term. Spending more on developing alternative assets should really be taking priority.



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August 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Lane Urges 'Steady Pace' of Rate Hikes to Minimize Risks

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

Officials attending the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole gathering signaled the ECB is prepared to at least repeat the 50 basis-point hike enacted in July, with some not excluding an even larger increase. Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel urged “strong determination to bring inflation back to target quickly.”

While Lane didn’t spell out whether he’d oppose a 75 basis-point step, his comments suggest officials would need to see the need for a higher “terminal rate,” or high point of the current hiking cycle, for him to support such a move.

The Irish official said a “multi-step adjustment path towards the terminal rate also makes it easier to undertake mid-course corrections if circumstances change.” If new data called for a lower terminal rate, “this would be easier to handle under a step-by-step approach,” he said. 

Among the more cautious voices on the Governing Council is Executive Board member Fabio Panetta, who said last week that policy maker must tread carefully as a significant economic slowdown would ease inflationary pressure. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has one of the most out of control inflation problems in the world. The pressure being exerted on the region from Russia’s energy war is not about to disappear. However, the successful filling of gas storage facilities ahead of schedule will moderate the risk of shortages this winter.  



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August 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

War and Industrial Policy

This report from Zoltan Pozsar at Credit Suisse may be of interest. Here is a section:

More broadly, the three “moments” of reckoning we discussed above mean that global supply chains, whether they produce military or civilian goods, are facing a Minsky Moment – a Real Minsky Moment. Paul McCulley’s term referred to the implosion of the long -intermediation chains of the shadow banking system that marked the onset of the Great Financial Crisis. Today, we are witnessing the implosion of the long -intermediation chains of the globalized world order: masks, baby formula, chips, missiles, and artillery shells, for now. The triggers aren’t a lack of liquidity and capital in the banking and shadow banking systems, but a lack of inventory and protection in the globalized production system, in which we design at home and manage from home, but source, produce, and ship everything from abroad, where commodities, factories, and fleets of ships are dominated by states – Russia and China – that are in conflict with the West.

Inventory for supply chains is what liquidity is for banks. In 2007 -08, big banks ran on “just -in -time” liquidity: the dominant form of liquidity was market liquidity, for which you could always sell assets into a deep market without moving prices, so you did not have to have liquidity reserves at the central bank. Similarly, big corporations today run “just -in -time” supply chains for which they assume that they can always source what they need without moving the price. But not really: the U.S. military has to wait a little bit as Raytheon “will take a little while”; Taiwan and Saudi Arabia have to wait as well until the conflict in Ukraine is over; and if your washing machine broke recently, you’ll have to wait a bit too until defense contractors are done buying them up to rip chips out to make missiles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In propagating the Belt and Road Initiative, China has long complained that the USA’s policy towards it is one of containment. That has become more much overt since 2016. Sanctions on chip manufacturing capacity are an escalation. The rationale for such moves is obvious. The USA and Europe need time to rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity.



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August 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Heard on the Street: Tesla Rival Finds Its Lane

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

BYD is scouting lithium mines to protect itself from surging prices of the essential battery metal. Despite rapid sales growth, BYD's margins were hammered last year due to high raw material prices. Net margins fell to 1.4% in 2021 from 2.6% a year earlier, according to FactSet. That compares with Tesla's 10.3%.

There is some hope of that reversing however, as commodity prices retreat again and new, pricier models hit showroom floors: The models in BYD's launch pipeline are twice as expensive as prior ones, according to Goldman Sachs. The bank expects BYD's net margin to expand to 2.2% this year and 2.5% in 2023.

BYD has paid down debt rapidly in recent years and as of December had more cash and short-term investments on hand than debt according to FactSet -- a reverse of the situation as recently as June last year.

In the downside scenario of a nasty Chinese recession, that could prove to be an important cushion.

One obvious challenge at home will be getting buyers to pony up for pricier cars with China's economy, potentially at least, deep in the doldrums. But for now at least, the company seems confident. BYD, which reports on Aug. 29, said in July that first-half net income could climb as much as 207% to 3.6 billion yuan, equivalent to about $528 million.

Sustaining such heady numbers will be a challenge but with strong, cost-effective technology, an integrated supply chain and Beijing's determination to dominate the sector, it would be a mistake to count BYD out.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chinese lithium carbonate prices are still close to CNY500,000 a tonne. Significant investment and political will are being devoted to boosting supply of the metal but that is a medium-term objective. Meanwhile, nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese have all retraced much of their initial price spikes. That’s more about less demand than a sudden increase in supply.  



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August 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rechargeable aluminum: The cheap solution to seasonal energy storage?

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

Researchers from Switzerland's SPF Institute for Solar Technology have been studying aluminum redox cycles for many years now, and with funding from the EU's Horizon Europe program and the Swiss government, they've just kicked off a research project called Reveal, drawing in nine different partners from seven European countries, to develop what looks like a very promising idea.

As a 2020 report from the SPF team states, a single, one cubic meter (35.3 cu ft) block of aluminum can chemically store a remarkable amount of energy – some 23.5 megawatt-hours, more than 50 times what a good lithium-ion setup can do, or roughly enough to power the average US home for 2.2 years, on 2020 figures. That's by volume – going by weight, aluminum holds a specific energy of 8.7 kWh per kilogram, or about 33 times more than the batteries Tesla uses in its Model 3.

Big fat blocks like that aren't exactly practical to work with, though, so the Reveal team proposes using 1-mm (0.04 in)-diameter balls of aluminum instead. Naturally, you lose some volumetric density here, but you're still coming out over 15 MWh per cubic meter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Redox flow batteries where the electrolyte transports free electrons during the reduction and oxidation reactions have been in the works for years without gaining critical mass.



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August 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia's Pensions Suffer Worst Year Since Financial Crisis

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

Australia’s pensions posted their worst annual performance since the global financial crisis as markets were roiled by central banks’ aggressive rate hikes and the war in Ukraine.

Guardians of the world’s fifth largest pension pot shed A$92.8 billion ($64 billion) on investments in the fiscal year through June 30, the biggest loss for the period since 2009, according to Australian Prudential Regulation Authority data released Tuesday. That saw the pool of savings fall to A$3.3 trillion, wiping out a year’s growth. 

The performance was largely due to a A$140 billion loss in the June quarter as equity markets were roiled by fears of a slowing global economy. The funds had boosted their stocks allocations toward the end of last year, before global equity markets slumped following Russia’s war in Ukraine and central banks’ efforts to stamp out rampant inflation. 

Australia’s pensions are bracing for more volatility in anticipation that the global economy could be heading into recession. They’ve lifted their holdings of fixed income and cash, while their stock allocations are now at the lowest level since December 2020.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia’s pension system is the envy of anyone who cares to look at such things. However, that does not insulate it from the universal challenge of bonds and equities falling in tandem. That’s something every pension fund has had to contend with this year. The biggest question by far is whether this is an anomaly or something we should be prepared to deal with for much of the next decade?



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August 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudi Arabia Makes a Push for $100 Oil

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

For long, Saudi Arabia pretended it didn’t target oil prices. The job of OPEC+ was all about matching supply with demand. Focus on fundamentals, and leave prices to the market, it used to say.

On Monday, in an unusual intervention, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman indicated he didn’t like the yo-yo pricing he saw in the oil market. The problem, he said in a written interview with Bloomberg News, is that the physical and financial markets have “become increasingly more disconnected.”

Left unsaid, but clearly implied, is the real concern: oil prices were getting too low – and in the view of Riyadh, for no good reason.

With Brent falling toward a six-month low of $90 a barrel last week, Prince Abdulaziz said “cutting production at any time” was an option for OPEC+. The Saudi royal is a veteran policymaker, who knows very well the impact of those words. If there was any doubt, when the state-run Saudi Press Agency published its own version of the interview, it elevated the “cutting production” remark into the headline.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The release from the USA’s strategic reserve began in March and is due to end in early October; less than six weeks from now. On Monday, the reserve hit its lowest level since 1985. That suggests ability of OPEC+ to influence the market will improve soon and the USA will need to buy a lot of oil when prices are cheaper to rebuild the reserve.



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August 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

UK Inflation Hits Double Digits for the First Time in 40 Years

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

“UK CPI inflation surged in July amid rising food prices that helped lift the rate above market expectations. The peak is still likely come in October, when energy prices are due to be increased again -- we see annual CPI moving to a little below 13% at that point. With inflation now more than five-times the Bank of England’s target, the question isn’t whether the central bank will tighten, it’s by how much? Today’s reading makes it more likely than not that the BOE lift rates by 50 basis points in September -- our baseline ahead of the data release was for a 25-bp move.”

Economists are growing increasingly pessimistic about the UK, with the risk of a recession now seen as far more likely than not due to rising cost pressures. The BOE expects a recession to start in the fourth quarter, lasting into the early part of 2024.

The central bank expects inflation to surpass 13% later this year when regulators allow energy bills to rise again. That would mark the worst reading since September 1980, when Margaret Thatcher’s government struggled to bring a wage-price spiral under control.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the normal course of events UK inflation should have peaked already. Money supply growth peaked on a year over year basis 18 months ago and on a month over month basis is now negative. At the same time the Bank of England has been raising rates, albeit modestly, for the last eight months and is now also talking about reducing the size of its balance sheet.



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August 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Zinc Surges as Trafigura-Owned Smelter to Halt Production

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

The decline in European zinc production has seen local LME stockpiles fall close to zero this year, while global inventories remain near the lowest in more than two years. 

“There will be a bit of capacity juggling going on,” said Tom Price, an analyst at Liberum Capital. “If the EU needs their metal, they will probably have to import more semi-refined material or the metal itself.”

Supply concerns are still being balanced by the impact of the energy crisis on demand, which has caused many economists to predict a recession in Europe. Economic data on Monday from China, the world’s top metals consumer, added to those fears as the nation struggles to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 curbs, the property slump and the recent heat waves.

China is also facing an energy crunch which could hit metals output. Soaring temperatures are stretching power supplies and drying up water for hydro-electricity, forcing key aluminum-hub Sichuan to vow it will prioritize electricity production for residential use.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The soaring cost of natural gas in Europe is contributing to demand destruction as well as impacting the ability of companies to supply products. That’s a recipe for a great deal of volatility.



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August 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Carbon Capture Could Get $100 Billion in Credit from US Climate Bill

This report from Bloomberg New Energy may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The new legislation raises the credits for captured CO2 that is used and stored to $60/tCO2 and $85/tCO2 respectively. However, project owners must meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements in order to qualify. If they do not, they will be paid a lower credit than the existing 45Q payment. Projects must be under construction by the end of 2032 to receive the credit

A new, much higher credit is available to direct air capture (DAC) projects. DAC currently costs around $600/tCO2. The credit pays $130/tCO2 for gas that is used, say, for enhanced oil recovery or to make synthetic fuels, and $180/tCO2 for CO2 that is stored permanently.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Regulatory arbitrage will ensure that some areas will continue to benefit from having less strict regulations than either North America or Europe. Meanwhile there is little to be gained from arguing about the sense behind carbon credit trading. We can only deal with the reality provided by the market. The regulatory regime continues to support taxes on emissions. 



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August 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany Slaps Levy on Households to Spread Pain of Gas Surge

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

“The levy is a consequence of Putin’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and the artificial energy shortage caused by Russia,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin. The government is working on a compensation package for consumers, because the levy presents a “challenge“ to them, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Oslo after a meeting with Nordic counterparts. 

The levy comes as Europe shifts its focus to curbing consumption in the face of a worsening energy crisis. German power prices climbed to a record amid mounting concerns the region may struggle to generate enough electricity this winter. That has pushed up inflation rates and threatened the industry.

Habeck said the levy -- which runs through April 1, 2024 -- would cost an average single household about 97 euros a year, a couple would pay about 194 euros more and a 4-person household would bear extra costs of about 290 euros.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Netherlands natural gas future was up another €10 today as it extends the acceleration. The measures underway to ensure Europe has enough gas for the winter are totally dependent on Russia continuing to supply the region. It is in their interests to pick the most inconvenient time possible to turn off the tap. With the war in Ukraine finely balanced, Russia will be keen to gain whatever benefit they can from asymmetric tools.



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August 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cooler Inflation Takes Fed's Rate-Hike Size "Down to the Wire"

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

“This is a necessary print for the Fed, but it’s not sufficient,” Pond said. “We need to see a lot more. You can think about this print as sort of like the weather -- it’s better today than it has been over the past few days. But it’s still summer. There’s still a lot of humidity out there. It’s not great. So it’s in the right direction. But we’re certainly not there yet.” 

For Diane Swonk, the chief economist at KPMG LLP, the Fed is now hedging against risk of future supply shocks as well as combating current inflation and will likely favor a 75 basis-point increase.

“The Fed is no longer willing to rest on their laurels on a one-month move,” she said. “The greater risk for the Fed is to stop too soon than stop too late. It will take a lot more cooling than this for the Fed to shift its decision rule, although in this economy, September seems an eternity away.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for investors is whether the Federal Reserve will focus on core or non-core items in how much they decide to raise rates in September. Commodity price inflation is less urgent today than earlier this year. Lumber prices have made a full round trip. Wheat has fully unwound the Ukraine invasion surge. Palm Oil is steadying in the region of the 2008, but the price has almost halved from the peak level. 



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August 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Assessing the Macroeconomic Consequences of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Moody’s. Here is a section:

Lawmakers appear close to passing into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The legislation is born out of the Build Back Better agenda that President Biden proposed more than a year ago. It raises nearly $750 billion over the next decade through higher taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals and lower Medicare prescription drug costs, to pay for nearly $450 billion in tax breaks and additional government spending to address climate change and pay for lower health insurance premiums for Americans benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (see Table 1). The remaining more than $300 billion goes to reducing the federal government’s future budget deficits (see Chart 1). Broadly, the legislation will nudge the economy and inflation in the right direction, while meaningfully addressing climate change and reducing the government’s budget deficits.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The renewable energy sector rebounded emphatically on the prospect of additional subsidies last week. Removing the limitation on EV rebates so every buyer gets a $7500 discount and reinstating the 30% tax credit for solar installations are both stimulative for their respective sectors.



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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.  



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August 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shale Profits Finally Blossoming After Decade of Steep Losses

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

US shale drillers are expected to post record second-quarter profits in coming days, reversing nearly a decade of debt-fueled losses. 

The top 28 publicly traded US independent oil producers generated $25.5 billion in free cash flow in the three months to June 30, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. In that space of time they’ll have made enough cash to erase one-fourth of what they lost over the previous decade. 

Fracking revolutionized global energy markets by enabling American drillers to harvest shale resources that had previously been untouchable. In the space of just over 10 years, the US went from a declining crude producer to the world’s dominant oil and gas source, but at an astronomical cost: the 28 companies lost about $115 billion in the decade leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Nothing about unconventional supply is cheap but it is a lot more cost effective than it used to be. The continual need for drilling and the quick abundant payback initially led to excessive enthusiasm. The business model has more recently evolved to be more sensitive to the cost of production, oil prices and economies of scale. That has finally translated into profits for the sector.



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July 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New US Climate Deal Could Make EVs, Energy Bills Cheaper

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

“This bill is going to open up a lot of avenues for Americans to contribute to the fight against climate change on an individual level,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, in an emailed statement. “Through a mix of rebates for electric appliances and efficiency retrofits and tax credits for technologies like heat pumps … it’s going to become a lot more affordable to do your part.” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The prospect of hundreds of billions in support for renewable energy solutions is a clear positive for that sector. However, the big near-term challenge is nothing in this bill will incentivize companies to invest in additional new oil and gas supply.



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July 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on energy prices

Fyi, have finally bit the bullet and fixed energy price with EDF for 2 years until July 2024.

The Nord Stream pipeline 1 issue over the last few days made me make the final decision.

Would welcome Mr Treacy comment about the recent events with Russia cutting supplies and short and medium-term implications. Will we ever see the energy prices normalize? His comments are always very insightful.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for sharing your experience and this question which may be of interest to the Collective. Russia has a clear interest in Europeans being uncomfortable this winter. Wars are expensive. Quick victories are always desirable. That’s not always how things work out but eventually every war ends with some form of negotiation or withdrawal.



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July 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Gains as Investors Weigh Growth Concerns; Palladium Jumps

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

“We are finally starting to see some weakness in the US dollar index, as gold bounces off an oversold level, recovering above $1,700 for now,” said John Feeney, business development manager at Sydney-based bullion dealer Guardian Gold Australia. “We now expect this initial flight to the US dollar to start rotating back into gold as investors search for a true and reliable hedge against inflation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Federal Reserve’s willingness to increase rates has been the standout event this year. Their attempts to regain investor confidence following the failure to anticipate sticky inflation has resulted in a rare confluence of weak bond, stock and commodity markets at the same time. That has played havoc with returns for institutional investors.



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July 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Farnborough Air Show Sizzles, Airbus Makes Expo a Slow Burner

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

“Boeing has been the biggest beneficiary at Farnborough to date,” said Sheila Kahyaoglu, an aviation analyst at Jefferies LLC.

Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury acknowledged in an interview Monday that business was “probably a bit less now than it used to be in the past because we are constrained by the supply chain.”

The Toulouse-based company has had to grapple with so-called gliders -- fully built aircraft sitting on the ground without engines that can’t be completed amid a shortage of components, from engines to computer chips The planemaker now has 26 planes without engines, six more than at the end of May, according to Faury, who said he’s optimistic the issue will be resolved by the end of the year.

Besides, the company came into the show with some major orders under its belt, including a deal from China for 292 airliners worth more than $37 billion just this month.

Even if Airbus has to cede the commercial bragging rights to Boeing this year, the European company can take solace in the fact that it has an order backlog stretching out years, giving it little reason to hunt for fresh deals. The company’s best-selling A320 family is sold out until 2027. Faury said his priority now is to serve existing customers and get the supply chain sorted.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Airlines are still buying planes with the expectation business will return to normal in due course. Of course, with the backlog of orders at Airbus and Boeing they are not under any pressure to take delivery in the short term. Meanwhile the most pressing issue is the oil price and staffing levels.



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July 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stuart Kirk tells FT investors need not worry about climate risk

This presentation by Stuart Kirk at a Financial Times conference in May is a notable discussion on subject of ESG and climate. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Kirk was afforded the opportunity to share his frank views and resigned from his position at HSBC less than a month later.

That helps to highlight how polarized the discussion on climate is. There is no room for a dissenting public voice. That’s despite the fact he did not deny climate change but instead suggested we need to adapt.



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July 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Summers Says Fed 'Let Us Down Quite Badly' and Still Unrealistic

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

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers issued one of his harshest criticisms yet of the Federal Reserve’s slowness in moving to raise interest rates, and warned that policy makers are still presenting forecasts that are unrealistic.

“In 2021, our central bank let us down quite badly,” hurting policy makers’ credibility, Summers said on Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week.” “It made mistakes in the core functioning of a central bank,” including in its failure to lean in against fiscal stimulus last year, he said.

Among the errors has been a “repeated poor forecasting record -- and I have to say that it’s not something that’s been fully fixed,” Summers said. The June median Fed official predictions showed inflation coming back toward the 2% target but unemployment only reaching a high of 4.1% by 2024 -- a “highly implausible” result, he said.

“Frankly I think in 2021 our central bank lost its way. It was talking about the environment, talking about social justice in a range of things,” Summers, a Harvard University professor and paid contributor to Bloomberg TV, said. “It was confidently dismissing concerns about inflation as transitory.”

Turning to Japan, which has seen its currency tumble to the weakest since 1998 as the Bank of Japan declines to join its peers in tightening policy, Summers said it’s likely to be a challenge to exit the current zero-yield targeting regime.

Dollar’s Impact
“Sooner or later they’re going to leave the yield curve control strategy and I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen when they do,” Summers said. “In the meantime, the pressures are likely to build,” with the potential for “an even weaker yen,” he said.

While some emerging markets are also suffering from a strengthening dollar, Summers said that he didn’t see a “systemic” crisis along the lines of 1998. Still, countries with “particularly unsound policies” including Turkey and Argentina are a concern, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world as it is, the reactions of traders to evolving stimuli, and the world as we would like it to be, are three very different places.

The reality of massive money supply growth in 2020/21, and the subsequent decline in supply growth represent the background for market. The absence of clear sources of new liquidity suggest it is unproductive to expect sharp rebounds on par with those seen in 2021.



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July 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany's Habeck Urges Canada to Help Thwart Putin on Gas

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

Germany’s vice chancellor made a public plea to the Canadian government to release a turbine that’s caught up in sanctions against Russia and critical for gas flows to Europe. 

Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Bloomberg that the turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline needs to be returned before maintenance work begins on Monday. Releasing the component would remove an excuse for Russian President Vladimir Putin to keep the conduit closed.

“I’ll be the first one who will fight for a further strong EU sanction package, but strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy,” Habeck said in a phone interview late Wednesday. “Therefore, I ask for understanding that we have to take this turbine excuse away from Putin.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Germany has begun rationing gas. That’s aimed at doing whatever is necessary now, so they have adequate reserves for the winter. Even then it is going to be a tight market environment.



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July 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ruble Halts Longest Series of Losses Since April: Inside Russia

This note from Bloomberg may be of interest. 

Russia’s currency is set to end four days of losses against the greenback as demand for foreign currency declined in Moscow. The country’s main stock index drops for a second day.

Ruble gains 0.1% to 63.2800/$; adds 0.9% versus euro to 64.1850

USD/RUB rate might correct to 55-60 range in the near future, George Vaschenko, head of Russian trading at Freedom Finance in Moscow, writes in a note

“Ruble weakening was not accompanied by significant trade volumes; the weakening of demand will lead to a decline in the exchange rate”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Ruble has been supported by the strength of Russian energy exports. The $20 pullback in oil prices from between June 30th and yesterday had a knock-on effect for the currency. Despite the fact the Euro was breaking down against the Dollar, the Ruble fell faster. That’s a clear sign of how dependent Russia is on high energy prices to sustain the value of the currency.



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July 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boris Johnson fights on but hit by new wave of resignations

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

New chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has urged unity after his predecessor, the health secretary, and several junior ministers walked out.

But the prime minister has been hit by six further resignations, taking the total to 16 in the past day.

It comes as he prepares for PMQs later and a grilling by senior MPs.

Mr Johnson's premiership has been plunged into crisis following the dramatic resignations of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

They quit within minutes of each other on Tuesday following a row over Mr Johnson's decision to appoint Chris Pincher deputy chief whip earlier this year.

Their departures triggered a wave of resignations from more junior roles that has continued on Wednesday.

In six further departures ahead of PMQs, education ministers Will Quince and Robin Walker, Justice Minister Victoria Atkins, Treasury minister John Glen, and ministerial aides Laura Trott and Felicity Buchan have all walked out.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Boris Johnson is a proven vote winner, but it was widely reported when he became Prime Minister that he is not well liked by his party colleagues. That later point is now becoming relevant as demand for solutions to unfolding economic issues are in high demand. Regardless of efforts to remove him, the range of possible options to mounting economic, inflationary and energy challenges will be the same.



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July 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU parliament backs labelling gas and nuclear investments as green

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

The new rules will add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU "taxonomy" rulebook from 2023, enabling investors to label and market investments in them as green.

Out of 639 lawmakers present, 328 opposed a motion that sought to block the EU gas and nuclear proposals.

The European Commission welcomed the result. It proposed the rules in February after more than a year of delay and intense lobbying from governments and industries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I wonder if we are seeing the end of an era of idealism and the return of harsh Cold War realism. This is particularly relevant for Germany’s Green Party. The decision by the European Parliament gives cover to the Greens to embrace nuclear as a suitable alternative to coal. That’s not to ignore the fact that it would be a monumental step. However, since Annalena Baerbock is both the leader of the Green Party and is also the German foreign minister, she has firsthand experience of the lengths Russia will go to achieve its geopolitical aims. If the Greens are to embrace nuclear, now would be the ideal time.



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July 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Euro Tumbles to 20-Year Low, Putting Parity With Dollar in Sight

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

“It is hard to find much positive to say about the EUR,” said Dominic Bunning, the head of European FX Research at HSBC. “With ECB sticking to its line that we will only see a 25bp hike in July – at a time when others are hiking much faster – and waiting for September to deliver a faster tightening, there is also little support coming from higher yields.” 

Money-market traders are betting ECB will deliver around 140 basis points this year, down from more than 190 basis points almost three weeks ago. The repricing gathered pace after a string of weak economic data last week, with traders trimming bets again on Tuesday after French services PMI was revised lower. 

Investors have also been more cautious on the euro due to the risk of so-called fragmentation, when economically weaker nations see unwarranted spikes in borrowing costs as financial conditions tighten. The ECB is expected to deliver further details of a new tool to backstop more vulnerable countries’ debt at their policy meeting later this month.

The losses Tuesday were compounded by poor liquidity and selling in euro-Swiss franc, according to three Europe-based traders. The euro fell as much as 0.9% against the Swiss franc to 0.99251, the lowest level since 2015. 

“The FX market is not back up to full liquidity given the US holiday,” said Mizuho’s Jones. “Any given size of trade is likely to have a greater impact on market movement.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia’s calculus is simple enough. They are betting the economic pain European countries are enduring because of their support for Ukraine will be so great they will be willing to make a deal sooner rather than later.



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July 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iran Slashes Cost of Its Oil to Compete With Russia in China

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

Russian exports to China surged to a record in May, with the OPEC+ producer overtaking its cartel ally Saudi Arabia as the top supplier to the world’s biggest importer. While Iran has cut its oil prices to remain competitive in the Chinese market, it’s still maintaining robust flows, likely in part due to rising demand as China eases strict virus restrictions that had crushed consumption.

“The only competition between Iranian and Russian barrels may end up being in China, which would work entirely to Beijing’s advantage,” said Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights in Singapore. “This is also likely to make the Gulf producers uneasy, seeing their prized markets taken over by heavily discounted crude.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

An emerging disparity between the price of oil available outside of NATO and within NATO is not sustainable over the long-term. Eventually, that arbitrage will close. In a short-term scenario, Europe will economise, everywhere else will do whatever is necessary to boost supply. That would mean building pipelines, offshore drilling and relaxation of environmental concerns. At the same time, alternatives like new nuclear will need to be unabashedly championed. Without that concerted effort, a long-term scenario is industrial capacity will migrate to where energy is cheapest. That would gut Europe’s export model.



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June 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil at $150 May Be Closer Than You Think

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

The global oil market is so tight on the cusp of the second half that a single, powerful jolt could unleash the furies and power prices toward $150/bbl within a few swift, brutal days. This is a high-risk environment for crude, as well as for global growth, inflation, and by extension for assets from equities to bonds.

Brent eased in June as the Fed stood up, recession angst built, and one or two faint signs of demand destruction crept into the mix. But the benchmark remains well up in 2Q, and wherever you look, market signals -- both esoteric and mainstream -- testify to extraordinarily tight conditions. Also of note, US stockpiles at the Cushing hub just hit the lowest since 2014, and OPEC+ (which meets today to assess policy) has scant spare capacity.

To say that a spike toward $150/bbl is entirely possible is not to say that the milestone will come to pass. But these are strange and rare times in energy markets that are being addled by war, sanctions, monetary-policy ructions, pandemic recovery, and the legacy impact of scant industry investment. Add to that roster of drivers, elevated weather risk, as well as scope for disruptions beyond those seen this week in Libya and Ecuador.

To get a sense of how much tension the market has, look at what sober-minded folk are saying. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden swung through Singapore this week and said the world is set for a “turbulent period” as spare energy production capacity is running “very low”. Significantly, he talked of a “fear factor” as a result of an “ever-tighter market”. Buckle up for the coming quarter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no doubt inventories are tight and the dearth of investment means additional new supply will be slow to come online. It is, however, worth remembering the world is not running out of oil. Offshore exploration has all but disappeared. The reason there is a supply shortage is because much of the world has decided to stop attempting to produce more.



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June 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Permian Basin Facing Pollution Rules That Could Curb Drilling

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

The Biden administration is considering triggering tougher anti-smog requirements that could curb drilling across parts of the Permian Basin, the world’s biggest oil field that straddles Texas and New Mexico.

The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing labeling parts of the Permian Basin as violating federal air quality standards for ozone -- a designation that would force state regulators to develop plans for cracking down on that smog-forming pollution. The move, outlined in a regulatory notice, could spur new permitting requirements and scrutiny of drilling operations.

Ozone levels in the basin have surpassed a federal standard “for the last several years -- really since the fracking boom took off in the Permian,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. The conservation group formally petitioned EPA for the so-called non-attainment designation in March 2021 and, roughly six months later, warned the agency it intended to sue to force action. The designation “basically says you’ve got to clean up this mess or the consequences are going to get even more severe as far as restricting your ability to permit more pollution and more development,” he said. 

While Texas does not have monitors taking ozone readings on its side of the Permian, monitors just over the border in the Eddy and Lea counties of New Mexico have recorded average ground-level ozone levels exceeding the 2015 standard of 70 parts per billion several years running. Even at low levels, ozone can worsen asthma, emphysema and other respiratory illnesses.

If the region is deemed in violation, state regulators would have three years to develop plans for lowering ozone levels, including by preventing new industrial facilities from worsening air quality and ensuring existing sites deploy technology to keep pollution at bay.

The resulting uncertainty could constrain energy development in the region, said Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. “Creating uncertainty on permitting and inserting unnecessary regulatory barriers will only negatively impact the production necessary to meet the needs of consumers."

Eoin Treacy's view -

This a good example of how the trend of environmental legislation is an inhibiting factor to the continued supply growth of conventional fossil fuels like oil and gas. It appears unlikely the Biden administration will intervene to avoid intervention that could deter production.



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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.



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June 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden to Urge Gasoline Tax Pause as Prices Drag on Democrats

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

President Joe Biden will ask Congress to suspend the federal gasoline tax for three months, after his administration’s previous efforts failed to curb soaring pump prices that weigh heavily on his party’s political fortunes.

Biden will call for a pause in tax collections through September in a speech scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday in Washington, senior administration officials said. The national average gasoline price hit a record this month above $5 a gallon, even after Biden ordered a historic release from US reserves earlier this year.

Any pause, however, is fraught with contradiction. Lowering the price of gasoline may spur demand, potentially exacerbating supply imbalances already roiling markets. Biden entered office describing climate change as an existential threat and pledging to scale back US drilling; he’s now calling for measures to make fossil fuels less expensive, while all but begging oil companies to boost production and refining.

And it’s unlikely Congress will heed the president’s request, as many Democrats have concerns about the move and Republicans aren’t inclined to help Biden with his biggest political liability ahead of a critical election in November.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I tuned in to watch Jay Powell’s testimony in front of the Senate today. I was struck by how partisan the questioning was. Democrats are eager to shift blame for high prices and Republicans are eager to the pin the blame for high prices on the current administration. Tomorrow he speaks to Congress where a lot more people are up competing for re-election this year so the tone of the questioning is likely to be more aggressive. The tax holiday on gasoline is a crowd-pleasing measure which is unlikely to implemented. Meanwhile oil prices extended their decline as traders price in falling demand amid slowing growth.



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June 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany turns to coal as Russia cuts gas supplies

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

The Greens party minister also said the country will rely more on coal-fired power plants to produce electricity. A bill providing the legal basis is making its way though parliament and should take effect quickly after discussions in the upper house on July 8. 

Using more coal to generate power is “bitter, but it’s simply necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption,” he said. “We must and we will do everything we can to store as much gas as possible in the summer and fall.” 

Siegfried Russwurm, president of the German industry lobby group BDI, said the country should “stop gas-fired power generation now and get coal-fired power plants out of reserve immediately,” in an interview with Funke Mediengruppe published Saturday. Importing electricity from neighboring countries has its limits, he said.

Savings will also have to be made by the industry. An auction model will begin this summer to encourage industrial gas consumers to save fuel, which can then be put into storage, Habeck said, adding that the government is ready to take further measures if needed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a lot of discussion in the financial media about the possibility the Eurozone will break up. I don’t see that as a realistic possibility. Europeans understand they are in a better position to oppose foreign adventurism together than apart. Putting cherished climate goals on the long finger is an example of the lengths they are willing to go to protect national interests.



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June 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia's Gazprom continues cutting natural gas supplies to Europe just as customers try to build up inventories for winter

This article from Business Insider may be of interest to subscribers.

Gazprom said Thursday it was further cutting gas flows to Europe citing more technical issues with its Nord Stream pipeline, Reuters first reported. 

Russia's state-run supplier's latest reduction, the second in just two days, edges the Nord Stream's pipeline's capacity down by 40%. The move comes as European countries try to bulk up gas storage in anticipation of winter. European stores are currently 56% full, Reuters said. 

Gazprom said issues with a gas compressor lead to the initial reduction. The company said that a delay in equipment sent to Canada for repairs is to blame for Thursday's reduction in flows, a claim that Germany disputes as a reason to push gas prices higher.

European natural gas prices climbed as much as 30% Thursday morning on the news. Norway, Europe's second-largest supplier behind Russia, has increased exports to make up for a curb in Russian gas in light of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. The EU pledged to be 90% rid of Russian supply by the end of 2022, and fully exit from Moscow-sourced fossil fuels by 2027. 

The EU has also turned to liquefied natural gas to make up for supply shortcomings in light of its sanctions against Russia, although a fire in Texas last week at a key export hub lowered supply expectations. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia’s energy/economic military strategy will be most effective if it can prevent Europe from rebuilding inventories over the summer. The rationale is European politicians will be much more amenable to make concessions if their populations are cold and miserable this winter.



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June 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Natural Gas Slumps as LNG Plant Shutdown Strands Supplies

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

US natural gas futures plummeted and European prices surged after the operator of a key Texas export terminal said it may take three months to partially restart the facility following a fire last week. 

Gas for next-month delivery in New York tumbled as much as 19% to $7.008 per million British thermal units as the shutdown threatens to leave supply stranded in US shale basins. European futures on the Title Transfer facility hub in Amsterdam jumped 18% to $30.14.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The role of LNG in smoothing out the arbitrage between the North American and European gas is probably under appreciated by investors. The transatlantic LNG market did not exist five years ago. Today it is expected to compensate for Europe’s reluctance to continue to buy Russia supply. The loss of one plant, even temporarily highlight just how tenuous that plan is.



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May 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Norway Targets Record Gas Sales This Year as Europe Shuns Russia

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

Norwegian gas sales are on course to test a record high this year as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on top supplier Russia as soon as possible. 

Total exports from fields in the Nordic nation are poised to jump about 8% this year to 122 billion cubic meters, the government said in its updated outlook on Wednesday. The country sold similar volumes in 2017, a record year for exports.

The continent’s second-biggest supplier is pumping at full tilt, benefiting from record prices and higher demand than ever for its fuel. The European Union aims to curb imports from Russia by two thirds this year because of the war in Ukraine.

European prices spiked after Russia’s invasion in late February, deepening an energy crisis that started last year. Costs have since eased but they remain historically high and traders remain on the edge because of the uncertainty of flows and payment regimes. 

“High prices give the companies strong incentives to utilize the production capacity on the fields,” Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said. “Companies are producing at full, or near full capacity.” 

Norwegian producers have tweaked operations at some fields, including reducing gas injections for oil recovery. Energy major Equinor ASA will also restart its Hammerfest LNG plant this month. The facility has been shut after a fire in late 2020.  

The extra volume would amount to an increase of about 9 billion cubic meters this year compared with 2021 sales. While every molecule counts, it’s just a fraction of Russia’s flows to the European Union, which exceeded 155 billion cubic meters last year. That was about 40% of the bloc’s total consumption. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe has a chronic need to boost energy security. Importing from a friendly country, with a long history of sound governance like Norway, is infinitely preferable to relying on Russia. That’s great news for Norway’s balance of payments.



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May 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ride of the 'Volkyries'

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Zoltan Pozsar for Credit Suisse. Here is a section:

As I see it, the risk of recession, whether it is real or merely implied by an inversion of the yield curve, won’t deter the Fed from hiking rates higher faster or from injecting more volatility to build up negative wealth effects, and signs of a recession might not mean immediate rate cuts to ramp demand back up …

…cuts may have to wait until the Fed is certain that inflation is surely dead.

Back to the level of the stock market under the Fed call.

According to President Daly’s comments, the recent stock market correction and the rise in mortgage rates is “great”, but not enough (“want to see more”). Chair Powell also noted in his press conference that he wants to see further tightening in financial conditions still. At face value, that implies that the Fed won’t stop shaping expectations until we see more damage to stocks and bonds.

Rallies could beget more forceful pushback from the Fed – the new game…

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

This is a welcome elucidation of the “chicken and egg” argument I have been talking about the audio/video commentary.
 
If the stock market and other financial assets sell off, the Fed will believe their policies are working which reduces the need for further tightening. However, if investors believe tightening is less likely they will buy the dip which will convince the Fed their policies are not sufficiently tight.



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May 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dollar Won't Be Haven Currency of Choice for Long

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

This in turn takes us to an interesting observation by George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank AG’s global head of currency research, who says that “we are perhaps now reaching the tipping point where further financial conditions tightening will start to place more severe headwinds to how much more we can reprice the Fed.” This will result in the dollar becoming less responsive to risk-off due to more dovish implications for the Fed path. And while it’s still early stages, Saravelos argues that “the market is starting to behave as if we may be approaching this tipping point.”

Now, even if inflation does peak this year, that won’t mean central banks will exit their tightening path, but will adjust it accordingly. Just look at the Bank of England’s latest forward guidance and the divide within the voting committee. At the same time, and if we talk stagflation or recession, we should consider that the yen may attract haven flows once again given its low inflationary readings, Japan’s current surplus and so forth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Today’s month over month CPI figure was 0.3%. Analysts expected 0.2% but the prior reading was 1.2%. That’s still a moderation in near-term inflation, even if it is still rising. Year over year the rate is still 8.3% which is in the middle of what was expected and the last reading.



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May 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Squeezes Hard on Russia, Sweeping In Oil, Bank, Business

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

The European Union plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end

of the year as part of a sixth round of sanctions to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

“This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in remarks to the European Parliament. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets.”

Hungary and Slovakia, which are heavily reliant on Russian energy and had opposed a sudden cut-off of oil, will be granted a longer timeframe -- until the end of 2023 -- to enforce the sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A rumbling argument in the oil market is contributing to the evolving wedging characteristic in prices. For the bulls, the dislocation caused by Western Europe’s efforts to stop buying Russian oil, as well as leaning on other countries to do the same, is a clean support for prices. The bears believe the impending global slowdown will kill off demand, and the market will turn to surplus faster than many people expect. 



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April 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GS, Doosan and Samsung to Cooperate in SMR Power Plant Business

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

A signing ceremony was held at GS Energy Headquarters in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, on April 26 with the presence of representatives from the four companies. They included GS Energy president Huh Yong-soo, Doosan Enerbility vice president Na Gi-yong, Samsung C&T vice president Lee Byung-soo, GS Energy vice president Kim Seong-won, and NuScale Power president John Hopkins.

NuScale’s SMR is the only one of its kind to receive design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). It is regarded as the most advanced SMR in the world. It can be used for hydrogen production, seawater desalination, and heat supply to industrial complexes in addition to electricity generation.

The MOU is expected to generate huge synergies by combining NuScale’s SMR technology, GS Group’s power plant operation capabilities, Doosan Enerbility’s expertise in nuclear power plant equipment production, and Samsung C&T’s power plant construction capabilities.

A power plant using NuScale SMRs will be built and put into commercial operation in Idaho of the United States in 2029.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Last month Samsung also signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building Seaborg’s modular self-contained molten salt reactors for nearshore power production. In addition to taking a minority stake in NuScale last year, this represents a significant bet on small scale nuclear construction. It’s not an exaggeration to think South Korea is aiming to dominate the construction of small modular reactors.



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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sahara solar could soon rescue Britain's broken energy system

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

Such long cables would have leaked too much power to be viable in the past. Modern HVDC technology at 515 kilovolts has shaved the total loss to 15pc, including the conversion of electricity at both ends.

The coming generation of 800 or 1,000 kilovolts will shave the loss rate further. New methods of laying cables will open up the most direct deep-sea routes instead of having to hug the coasts, cutting transmission lines from Morocco by a quarter.

“We are going to see an explosion of long-distance interconnectors criss-crossing the seas. You could even link up the US and UK, since it is a similar cable distance,” said Mr Morrish.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Covering the Sahara in solar arrays has been discussed for years and very little progress has been made. It’s not exactly the most politically stable place in the world, even if Morocco is less volatile than some of its neighbours. European countries have also probably had enough of being beholden to the Middle East and oil. Transferring dependence to solar and North Africa was viewed as less than appealing. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may change that calculus and introduce urgency into the discussion.  



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Credit Availability Is Still High

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the weekend I participated in a sales presentation for solar panel installation. The cost to the consumer has not come down all that much over the last few years, which suggests manufacturing efficiencies are not being passed on to consumers. However, financing for the panels is unusually attractive.

I was offered a 25-year fixed rate loan for $65980 at 1.49%. 20-year yields are at 3.17% and 30-year yields are at 2.99% so it begs the question where are they getting the cash to lend at 1.49%?



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Sinks as Dour IMF Forecast Sparks Global Growth Concerns

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

Oil extended losses after the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global growth forecast, intensifying market concerns of an economic slowdown in the wake of hawkish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials.
 
West Texas Intermediate fell more than $5 on Tuesday to trade below $103 a barrel, the sharpest drop in more than a week. The IMF slashed its world growth forecast by the most since the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and projected even faster inflation. The market opened on a downbeat after Fed Reserve Bank President James Bullard said late Monday the central bank needs to move quickly to raise interest rates to quell inflation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Global growth is slowing amid tighter monetary and fiscal policy, the war in Ukraine and China’s determination to persist in its zero-Covid policy. At the same time major oil companies are flush with cash. Development and exploration budgets have been slashed over the last few years because politicians have been so eager to appease the green movement. That means the windfall from higher prices will result in large companies booking record profits.



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April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Big $hort

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Zoltan Pozsar for Credit Suisse. Here is a section from the conclusion:

Paraphrasing Herodotus…

…”circumstances rule central banks; central banks do not rule circumstances”.

Inflation is a complex phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with DSGE models. Free-flowing commodities and commodity traders guarantee price stability, not central banks, and deflationary impulses coming from globalization shouldn’t be mistaken for central banks’ communication skills as anchors of price stability.

Luck is luck. Luck isn’t structural…

Luck is running out; central banks were lucky to have price stability as a tailwind when they had to fight crises of FX pegs, par, repo, and the cash-futures basis. Those were the easy crises. The ones you can print your way out of with QE.

But not this time around…

Inflation borne of shortages (commodities [due to Russian sanctions], goods [due to zero-Covid policies], and labor [due to excessive positive wealth effects]) is a whole different ballgame. You can’t QT or hike your way out of it easily…

…and if you can’t, credibility gets damaged, a decline of the U.S. dollar is inevitable, and shorting U.S. rates, the U.S. dollar, and some FX pegs make logical sense.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are a lot of moving parts in the markets today. Everyone is eager to come up with a narrative that cuts through the verbiage and illuminates a path to security and stability of mind and purpose. It’s not easy because there are so many conflicting ambitions. Most people can’t shake the feeling momentous events result in momentous, not necessarily fortuitous, outcomes.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Rise as CPI Bolsters Bets on Inflation Peak

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

While the U.S. consumer-price index climbed by the most since late 1981, excluding volatile food and energy components, the gauge increased 0.3% from a month earlier and 6.5% from a year ago -- due in part to the biggest drop in used vehicle prices since 1969. The March CPI reading represents what many economists expect to be the peak of the current inflationary period, capturing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Comments:
“There were some green shoots in the data that suggest March could potentially be the peak for inflation,” said Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist for Ally. “When you couple this with the recent retreat in oil prices, improving shipping costs, a potential reduction in demand from higher prices, and the cycling of higher inflation comparisons, it’s possible that inflation could be topping out.”

“While today’s inflation print hit a four-decade high, there was a sigh of relief as some components of core inflation weakened,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “Regarding peak inflation, we have been at this juncture before where subtle shifts within the data make it appear that the level of inflation has reached its peak for the cycle only to keep marching higher.”

“It’s a red-hot number, but the market’s reaction for now suggests it’s priced in, especially with the month-over-month core read coming in below expectations,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade from Morgan Stanley.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The above headline was a bit premature as early rises were later reversed.

Used car prices have an outsized effect on the USA’s official inflation measure because they don’t look at either food or energy. The Index rallied 57.3% between June 2020 and January 2022. It is now declining. Used cars cost about the same as new vehicles with the only difference being you can get a used car today but wait for a new one. The wait is increasingly preferrable to consumers as monetary conditions tighten.



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April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Sidesteps Sanctions to Supply Energy to Willing World

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

With Russia regrouping for a fresh offensive in eastern Ukraine, China is preparing to receive the first commodity shipments from Moscow paid for in yuan since several Russian banks were cut off from the international financial system. 

Russian crude that would normally end up in refineries in Europe or the U.S. is heading for Asia, where buyers, particularly in India, are taking advantage of steep discounts. Shipments from the Black Sea and Russia’s Baltic Sea ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga started heading to India in March, following earlier cargoes from the same terminals to China.

EU foreign ministers are likely to discuss imposing an oil embargo on Russia when they meet next week, said Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief. Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Borrell said that a ban on oil is not in the latest sanctions package, though he expects ministers will tackle it on Monday, “and sooner or later -- I hope sooner -- it will happen.”

Russia’s natural gas supplies, which like oil have yet to be sanctioned by the EU, continue to flow freely as Europe faces an energy cost crunch that’s prompting governments to think twice before taking any action that might see prices rise further. 

Italy, one of the biggest buyers of Russian gas, said Wednesday that it would support a ban if the bloc was united behind the idea, a move that Germany among others has so far opposed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Russian regime calculated correctly that it would be impossible for Europe to avoid importing its oil and gas for the next few years. They may also have bet that the jump in prices for its exports would come close to compensating for the decline in exports to the OECD. Revelations of war crimes are hard to watch but that doesn’t change the fact Europe is not yet in a position to cut itself off from Russian imports.



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New York Jet Fuel Soars to New Height as Inventories Dwindle

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

Wholesale jet fuel prices in New York continue to soar unabated, touching a fresh record for the second consecutive trading day.  

Jet fuel on the spot market added another 93 cents, surging to $7.61 a gallon on Monday, a new high since Bloomberg started publishing these prices in 1988. Regional stockpiles are at their lowest for this time of year since 2015.

For much of the pandemic, U.S. refiners prioritized making other fuels such as gasoline and diesel with air-travel demand lagging the pace of recovery in other oil markets. Fuel makers began raising jet fuel production in late March as prices suddenly soared above diesel for the first time since Jan. 2020. Fuel accounts for up to a third of operating costs for airlines. Some airlines were already cutting flights as a result of expensive fuel back in early March.

Potentially bringing some relief to East Coast inventories, a jet fuel cargo was diverted mid-voyage to New York from Spain with an estimated arrival next week. Wholesale jet fuel prices have more than doubled within the past month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Traders must be wondering whether it is advisable to simply buy every commodity contract that has not yet accelerated. Afterall, the number of commodities that have gone from quiescence to fame in the last year continues to grow. 



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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.



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia's Other War of Attrition Is Against Europe

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

In a provocative but persuasive column for the New York Times, Bret Stephens suggests that Russia’s war aim is not preventing NATO enlargement, or rebuilding the Soviet empire, but cementing its status as an energy superpower:

Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s). Combine that with Russia’s previous territorial seizures in Crimea (which has huge offshore energy fields) and the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk (which contain part of an enormous shale-gas field), as well as Putin’s bid to control most or all of Ukraine’s coastline, and the shape of Putin’s ambitions become clear. He’s less interested in reuniting the Russian-speaking world than he is in securing Russia’s energy dominance.

Even if this is not the aim, the possibility of entrenching Russia’s energy power is now at the center of the broader conflict between Putin’s Russia and the West. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’ve been arguing from the outset that the idea Russia acted irrationally does not make sense. Securing energy assets now so they can never be used to decrease European natural gas reliance on Russia offers an elegant explanation for the aggression. From their perspective it is better to act now, to forestall the certainty Ukraine energy resources would be developed, and risk destroying a supply relationship than to endure a loss of influence of time.



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March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Says Wait and See on a Russian Pullback

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

Ukraine and Russia failed to clinch a cease-fire in talks that ended in Istanbul on Tuesday, with Moscow saying it will reduce military operations in areas where its forces are being pushed back and Kyiv calling for security guarantees from European Union and NATO members.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he’ll see how Russia acts on a pullback and “see what they have to offer” in further talks with Ukraine.

A Ukrainian negotiator said his country is seeking guarantees for territory that doesn’t include Russian-controlled areas and that Kyiv is willing to discuss the status of occupied Crimea. Russia indicated a meeting was possible between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Russia’s delegation left Istanbul, and no date or time was set for any potential future talks, according to a person close to the Moscow delegation. European nations expelled more Russian diplomats from their capitals, even as stocks rose and oil fell on optimism for progress in the negotiations.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This brief history of Finland’s fight against the Soviet Union in 1939 and again in 1944 bears some striking similarities to what is going on in Ukraine today. The most likely outcome remains that Russia will hold the territory it has already won and will negotiate hard for a land bridge to Crimea. In return Ukraine will receive new security guarantees, adopt a neutral foreign policy and will eventually be allowed to join the EU.



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March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Barclays VIX ETN Turmoil Looks Linked to $591 Million Note Error

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

While the issuance halt initially triggered outsize moves for VXX -- including a 45% jump then reversal in a single session -- the ETN has been calmer as volatility across U.S. stocks retreated, helping prevent a potentially vicious short squeeze in the product. 

All the same, since new cash can’t be added to either note the distortions can be significant. VXX closed at a record 24% premium on Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. OIL has swung between a premium and discount amid major moves in the crude market in the past two weeks. It closed Friday at a 1.1% discount to assets.  

VXX gained 2.4% in early trading as of 9:02 a.m. in New York. OIL was 3.2% lower.

“This is a rare case of an exchange-traded product issuer dropping the ball and mismanaging their products,” said Todd Rosenbluth, head of research at ETF Trends. “Although it is no more likely to occur again this is another red flag for trading ETNs and not ETFs.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

ETNs were created to offer exposure to portions of the market that are difficult for ETFs to access. This comes with additional counterparty risk. The times when ETN products go awry is generally when there is significant credit market volatility like we have seen recently.



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Oil Crisis is Unfolding in Slow Motion

This article from Goehring & Rozencwajg which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

If an EROEI of 10:1 resulted in de minimis economic growth, what can we use this 10:1 number to infer about how high oil prices can go today? An EROEI of 10:1 means that 10% of all energy goes to sustain the energy supply. If energy is a good proxy for general economic activity, then an economy should stagnate once 10% of its GDP goes towards producing (and by extension consuming) energy. Evidence backs this up. Many academic studies suggest an economy will fall into recession once energy takes up 10% of total GDP – an empirical result that agrees with our theory.

In 2008, energy prices were approximately 10% of GDP right before the global financial crisis. If oil represents about half of all energy consumed, this means an economy will stall when oil represent about 5% of GDP. In 2008, the US consumed 18.8 m b/d. At $120 per barrel that equated to $823 bn or 5.6% of the $14.7 tr US GDP. The economy fell into recession shortly thereafter. In 2012-14, oil consumption never exceeded 3.5% of US GDP and prices stayed between $90 and $100 per barrel with no impact on either demand or economic activity.

Today, oil represents less than 3.3% of US GDP and would have to rise to $140 per barrel before approaching the critical 5% threshold. Why do we focus only on the US? Demand is the most elastic in wealthy countries with high energy intensities and the least elastic in developing countries that need energy to fuel their ongoing development. In 2008, prices spiked as high as $145 per barrel albeit temporarily. In this cycle, we believe oil prices will at some point reach, and potentially significantly exceed the previous $145 per barrel peak before we begin to see evidence of demand destruction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How high do prices have to go to limit demand might not be the correct question. It’s well understood that oil spikes are one of the leading causes of recessions, because energy is a tax on consumption. That suggests the speed of the price rise is at least as important as the headline rate.



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Demands Ruble Payment for Gas, Escalating Energy Conflict

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

“Gazprom would need to ask buyers to agree to change the payment terms in contracts,” said Trevor Sikorski, head of natural gas, coal and carbon at Energy Aspects Ltd. “It reopens the contracts, and buyers could ask for shorter-terms for instance.”

Some 58% of Gazprom’s gross gas sales abroad were in euros as of the third quarter of last year, according to the producer’s most recent bond prospectus. Another 39% were in U.S. dollars. The press office of gas giant Gazprom PJSC declined to comment on whether its long-term supply agreements allow a switch to ruble payments.

Russia announced earlier this month a list of 48 states deemed hostile. They included the U.S., Japan, all European Union members, Switzerland and Norway. As a result, the bulk of Russian gas exports now go to “unfriendly” nations.

“At the same time, I want to emphasize that Russia will definitely continue to supply natural gas in line with the volumes and prices and pricing mechanisms set forth in the existing contracts,” Putin said.

In the first 15 days of March, Gazprom exported an average of 500 million cubic meters per day to countries outside the former Soviet Union, including those in the EU, China and Turkey. Of the total, flows toward Europe averaged 384 million cubic meters per day, the producer’s data showed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This change of policy serves the short-term requirement of creating demand for the Ruble which will make enforcing sanctions even more difficult. That suggests the recent low of the Ruble near RUB120 is likely to be a medium-term nadir.



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March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Surges With Growing Supply Fears as EU Considers Russian Ban

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

In weeks prior, the EU sanctioning Russian oil “seemed unrealistic given their reliance on Russian energy supply,” said Rohan Reddy, a research analyst at Global X Management, a firm that manages $2 billion in energy-related assets. If sanctions were instilled, “it would basically shave off a full 4-5% of global oil supply,” as “Europe bought up around 40-45% of Russia’s total oil production in 2021.”

The global oil market has been thrown into turmoil by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the U.S. and Europe imposing sanctions on Moscow and crude buyers shunning the country’s cargoes. Brent neared $140 a barrel earlier this month to hit the highest since 2008, before seeing a massive pullback that briefly put the market into bear territory. Prices have seen unprecedented volatility, with frequent intraday swings of about $10 and broader commodity markets seizing up amid a widespread liquidity crunch.

The rally in oil prices has spurred importing nations to pressure other producers to step up supply, including members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. During the weekend, Japan urged the United Arab Emirates to increase exports. Meanwhile, oil giant Saudi Aramco plans to raise spending as it seeks to boost output.

Saudi Arabia said it cannot be held responsible for any drop in oil output if it doesn’t get more help to deter attacks from Yemen. Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked at least six sites across Saudi Arabia late Saturday and early Sunday, including some run by Aramco. Saudi Arabia has been facing calls from oil-consuming nations such as the U.S. to increase supply output.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cutting demand for oil is not easy. It doesn’t usually happen by choice. Prices rise to a point where it is unaffordable and demand falls. That usually means a recession. Therefore, any effort to manage prices must rely on increasing supply.



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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.



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powering Up

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

For the grid to work, supply must match demand – all the time. “There are already times when we produce so much green electricity, we don’t know what to do with it,” says Hartman. “That can be in the middle of the day when the sun is shining, or in the middle of the night when we are not using so much electricity, but we are producing a lot from wind turbines.” At certain times, energy goes to waste; producers are paid to take capacity offline.

On the other hand, the vagaries of the weather mean generation can fall short of expectations as well. For instance, on rare occasions both Germany and the UK have experienced ‘not much sun’ and ‘not much wind’, so respective energy outputs slumped at the same time. Hence the hive of research activity around energy storage. Behind it is a key idea: if storage can be made cheap enough, dense enough and extensive enough, it becomes viable to operate an energy mix with a much higher percentage of renewables.

This is driving deployment of grid-scale storage; something companies like Tesla, LG Chem and Samsung are anticipating as they construct battery megafactories around the world15 (see Figure 4). Combining renewables with large, preassembled battery units to store excess power, with energy fed back into the grid when demand requires it, has taken off.

The relative attractiveness of this has shifted “seismically” recently, according to energy consultancy Wood MacKenzie.17 Producing energy using solar and wind power already undercuts natural gas on a levelised cost basis (see Figure 5) and recent discoveries suggest further efficiency gains are possible.

Henry Snaith, professor of physics at the University of Oxford, describes solar “being in 1965 in silicon technology terms,” for example, with “lots of room to improve”. (In Search of Wild Solutions has more details.) Now battery costs have fallen rapidly as well, so ‘solar PV + large-scale battery storage’ are cheaper than ‘solar PV + natural gas’ as back-up to meet peak demand.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Large numbers of battery factories are under construction. When they come on line, it will represent a voracious appetite for everything from copper, nickel, manganese and lithium to steel and aluminium. Between now and then there is still time to argue about the extent of the bull market.



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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.



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March 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden's Demands for Oil Collide With Drillers Reining In Output

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

U.S. shale producers expect the oil price spike to be short-term, and shareholders don’t want companies investing capital in robust drilling programs delivering new production in 18 months, Pioneer Natural Resources Co. Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield said Wednesday. Oil futures indicate companies would get lower prices for crude that begins flowing in 12 to 18 months. 

The administration’s approach assumes oil producers will turn on a dime in response to pleas from the same people “telling everybody that they are going to be obsolete in 30 or 40 years,” said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets. 

Investors in shale also have brushed aside arguments that drillers should crank up production because it’s their patriotic duty. Many still bear scars from the last boom-and-bust cycle, when companies chased production growth, ultimately contributing to a glut that drive down prices. 

“The upstream industry is not a public service industry,” said Ben Dell, founder of Kimmeridge Energy Management. “For 10 years we made no money. The industry is profitable for two months, and the argument is that we’re supposed to price down the product or give away margins to support the consumer.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Shale drilling is capital intensive. The days when money would be thrown at the sector with little concern for profitability are over. Investors now demand returns. Unconventional wells require constant drilling to sustain production. Within months of the cessation of drilling, volumes shrink. That means these kinds of wells are price sensitive. It is possible to ramp up production provided future production can be hedged at attractive prices.  



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March 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A New World Energy Order Is Emerging From Putin's War on Ukraine

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

“The U.S. can try to make Saudi Arabia increase production, but why would they accept a break in the alliance, which is key for them?” said Paolo Scaroni, former chief executive officer of Italian oil company Eni SpA. 

There’s a political dynamic at play to explain the kingdom’s fidelity to Moscow beyond the gusher of oil revenue. 

Where Donald Trump cultivated a particularly friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia — making his first foreign trip as U.S. president to Riyadh — ties have turned colder under President Joe Biden. On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to make the kingdom a “pariah,” in part because of the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He will only deal with the elderly King Salman, relegating Mohammed bin Salman to interact with more lowly officials despite being the kingdom’s defacto ruler. 

By contrast, Riyadh’s OPEC+ partnership with Moscow calmed years of distrust between the two oil rivals, and saved the kingdom from relying exclusively on Washington.

“Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to switch horses mid-race when they do not know if the other horse is actually going to show up,” said Helima Croft, chief commodities strategist at RBC Capital Markets. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The USA going cap in hand to countries like Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia this week, with the request to boost oil supplies must have been both humbling and galling for the Biden administration. For the all the talk of a more enlightened foreign policy the arrogance, even so-called allies, have been treated with is pretty astounding. International rulers will be told not to take it seriously. Afterall they were working in service to the higher cause of abating climate change.



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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.



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March 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Satellite outage knocks out thousands of Enercon's wind turbines

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

Germany's Enercon on Monday said a "massive disruption" of satellite connections in Europe was affecting the operations of 5,800 wind turbines in central Europe.

It said the satellite connections stopped working on Thursday, knocking out remote monitoring and control of the wind turbines, which have a total capacity of 11 gigawatt (GW).

"The exact cause of the disruption is not yet known. The communication services failed almost simultaneously with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine," Enercon said in a statement.

The company said it had no further information on who or what may have caused the disruption.

Enercon has informed Germany's cybersecurity watchdog BSI and is working with the relevant providers of the satellite communication networks to resolve the disruption, which it said affected around 30,000 satellite terminals used by companies and organisations from various sectors across Europe.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Priorities change. When prices are low consumers value choice and comfort. When prices are high, they value efficiency. When supply is threatened, they will value resiliency.



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March 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Shocks and Recessions

Eoin Treacy's view -

The two things anyone seeking to predict future trouble in the stock market looks at are the yield curve spread and oil prices.

The spread the 10-year and the 2-year is down to 23 basis points, from 120 in October. At the current pace of compression, it could be negative by the end of the week.

The 10-year - 3-month has generally moved ahead of the 10-2 spread but is not doing so on this occasion. That is because bond funds are focusing on short duration bonds because inflationary pressures take a bigger toll on long-dated issues.



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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.



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March 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on The Chart Seminar and a uranium ETF

hello Eoin 1) could you please suggest a trustworthy ETF on Uran, with a well balance geopolitical profile 2) I would very much welcome a chart seminar, I hope you will be able to organize one in the not too distant future.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We are currently looking at June 6th and 7th for The Chart Seminar in London. Sarah is in the process of securing a venue at present and as soon as the location is confirmed we will begin taking bookings. I am very much looking forward to meeting subscribers in person after an internval that has been far to lengthy. 



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March 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chevron Doubles Buyback as Spending Cap Helps Lift Cash Flow

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

As a result, operational cash flow per share, a key metric watched by analysts, will grow 10% every year through 2026 with Brent crude at $60 a barrel, Chevron said. The international oil benchmark rose as much as 5.4% to $103.22 a barrel on Tuesday.

Chevron’s plans will mean repurchasing shares at elevated price levels. The stock touched a record high Monday after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent crude surging. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth has said the company will maintain the buyback even if oil prices dip. It’s part of his pledge for shareholders to reap the benefits of $100 oil in contrast to previous upturns a decade ago when spending on mega-projects to grow production was the priority.

Chevron is also using its rising cash flow to invest in the energy transition. It announced the $3.1 billion purchase of biofuel maker Renewable Energy Group this week, a deal that will make it one of North America’s biggest producers of renewable fuels.

But that’s doesn’t mean Chevron is moving away from fossil fuels. It expects oil and gas production to grow to more than 3.5 million barrels a day by 2026, about 13% higher than last year, the company said Tuesday. Most of that growth will come from shale production in the Permian Basin and the giant Tengiz development in Kazakhstan.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The largest independent energy producers have put spending caps on their production. They are focusing instead on repaying investors who have continued to support them despite the lashing legacy energy producers have taken in the press.



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February 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Solar Stocks Rally as Tariff Expiration Nears With No Decision

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

Solar stocks rally Monday, with Enphase Energy and SolarEdge among the 10 best performers on the S&P 500 Index amid a broader rebound in growth stocks.

“The solar industry faces short-term volatility as political pressure mounts around the expiration of U.S. solar duties on Feb. 6,” writes Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Clelia Imperiali

It’s likely that President Joe Biden will renew the tariffs, which would support the domestic upstream solar industry but penalize downstream players that import solar cells and modules, she writes in a note

A key impact of the tariffs has been to ease competition for domestic producers like First Solar (up 4% on Monday)

* The Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) is up 4.3% at 10:33 a.m. in New York, with the top gainers including Shoals Technologies +12%, Canadian Solar +9.3%, Daqo New Energy +7.6%, Array Technologies +7.2%, Beam Global +7.2%, Enphase +7.1%

Eoin Treacy's view -

The solar sector is split between residential and commercial operators and then between those that offer utility scale electricity generation and those providing residential rooftop services. The efficiency of these products is good enough for commercial reality. It can get more efficient and/or durable but the products available today are fit for purpose.



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February 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Invasion of Ukraine Is a Tragic Sin

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

I have met Putin, and I have watched him as a journalist since before he became president. My analysis of his actions was always based on the assumption of his rationality. There was always something to gain, a manageable risk of losing. Perhaps I was wrong from the start. Perhaps Putin has changed in recent years as his close circle narrowed and negative selection expelled people with a broader vision from the ranks of his advisors. Quite likely, Ukraine has long constituted an exception from Putin’s rationality, as most of its people time and time again chose the Western path, away from Putin’s vision of the Russian World.

I left Russia after the Crimea annexation because I couldn’t accept it and felt it was a great historical wrong — both for Ukraine and for Russia. But I ended up returning to that assumption of rationality. I analyzed Putin’s moves from a cost and benefit perspective. I have a lot of rethinking to do.

The invasion is an irrational move. It makes any further negotiations with Putin and his clique pointless: There is, quite clearly, nothing he won't do, no line he won’t cross, no matter what he says or what deal he makes. From this point on, autarky is the only feasible economic choice for Russia, and a retreat into isolation is the only remaining cultural and political choice. At the same time, Russia's dependence on China, which has grown in recent years, is no longer a matter of choice. Any security benefits from turning Ukraine — and neighboring Belarus, from whose territory Putin also attacked — into a buffer state are illusory since Russia also borders actual NATO member states, which now will arm themselves as heavily as possible. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was not expecting a full-scale invasion, but my positions benefitted anyway. I agree we are now in a new environment and it will be years before Russia’s relationship with most of its biggest trading partners is repaired.



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February 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Plunge, Oil Prices Surge After Putin Orders Troops Into Eastern Ukraine

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

Stocks tanked amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.3%, over 400 points, while the S&P 500 lost 1% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 1.4%.

Global stock markets took a hit after Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to recognize the separatist states of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, ordering Russian troops to move into the region in order to “maintain peace.”

The move was widely condemned by the West, with the European Union and United Kingdom both unveiling economic sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, while the United States will reportedly release a new round of sanctions later in the day.

Many western officials continued to warn that Russian troops moving into eastern Ukraine to keep the “peace” could be a not so subtle pretext for a full invasion, with U.K. Health Minister Sajid Javid saying on Tuesday that “the invasion of Ukraine has begun.” 

Oil prices surged on the news, with Brent crude rising to more than $94 per barrel amid concerns that Russia’s energy exports could be disrupted.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Granting official recognition to, and moving troops into a region that has been ruled independently of Ukraine since 2014 is an escalation of tensions. However, it still falls into the brinksmanship category regardless of claims to the contrary. Russia appears to be serious about their demands that Ukraine not join NATO. They are also adamant that missile batteries not be placed within its neighborhood. 



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February 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lithium Stock Livent Is Soaring. Strong Earnings and Guidance Looked 'Easy

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

Looking ahead for 2022, Livent expects to generate about $180 million in Ebitda, short for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, on about $570 million in sales. Analysts were projecting closer to $160 million in Ebitda on $515 million in sales.

“Sometimes it’s really that easy,” wrote Evercore ISI analyst Stephen Richardson in a Thursday report. He was referring to the relatively clean quarter Livent just reported.

Albemarle’s quarter wasn’t as easy to digest. Richardson wrote earlier on Thursday that Albemarle’s volume and earnings guidance was better than he expected, but that the company’s guidance for costs and capital spending would be a drag on 2022 cash flow.

He is staying positive on both stocks. He rates Albemarle stock at Buy with a $295 price target. He didn’t adjust he price target after the company’s quarterly hiccup. Richardson actually put Albemarle stock on his “tactical outperform list” Friday.

“The confusion from [Albemarle] investors came largely on the cost line which lead some to believe this was a structural step-up in costs [and] lower margins, and was a new permanent aspect of the business,” wrote the analyst. “We think none of this is indeed true.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lithium price has been accelerating higher. It’s a classic supply inelasticity meets rising demand market. Growing demand for electric vehicles and energy storage solutions is bumping up against a slow supply response.



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February 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Supply Shortfall May Push Oil Price Higher, IEA Warns

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

“If the persistent gap between OPEC+ output and its target levels continues, supply tensions will rise, increasing the likelihood of more volatility and upward pressure on price,” the Paris-based agency said in its monthly report.

Still, the economic shock could be averted if those members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that possess extra reserves deploy them.

“These risks, which have broad economic implications, could be reduced if producers in the Middle East with spare capacity were to compensate for those running out,” the agency said.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, holds the bulk of the group’s spare capacity. It has so far resisted the idea of tapping those reserves more quickly, contending that the individual quotas set by the OPEC+ agreement should be respected. 

Despite the IEA’s warnings, its forecasts still indicate that world oil markets will tip back into surplus for the rest of this year as supplies outside of OPEC+ pick up. The agency revised up its forecast for U.S. oil supply growth in 2022 by 240,000 barrels a day to 1.2 million barrels a day.

The agency also made substantial increases to its historic demand estimates for the past few years, with an upgrade of 1 million barrels a day for 2021. The revision helps account for a discrepancy between the IEA’s theoretical estimate of changes in stockpiles and what could be detected.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Major oil producers appear to be in no hurry to increase supply. That’s particularly true when the announcement of any plan to expand production is greeted by media coverage akin to the murder of innocents. What is perhaps more important is governments are increasingly walking back their commitments to an energy transition agreed to at COP26. This is one more example of incompatible trends. The world cannot both use more oil and gas, and produce less.



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February 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on gold, governance, trading, and uncertainty

A bad back currently prevents me golfing, walking the dog, or driving the car and, in my opinion justifiably, I am feeling a grumpy.

So here are a few gripes for you:

First gold:
For several years you taught us that the gold price follows an approximate 35-year cycle between highs, although the gold price could outpace stock indexes for short periods in between those highs. We’ve not heard too much about the 35-year cycle for a while, the message now being that it is not unusual for gold to trade in a boring range for up to 18 months or so before breaking out conclusively up or down. You believe it will break to the upside taking out previous highs (which runs contrary to your 35-year cycle theory). I hold a fair chunk of gold and silver miners in ETFs but regard the holding as a hedge rather than representing a belief that gold will imminently break to the upside. It might and it would be nice if it did but I doubt it. As David said, investment options are similar to a beauty parade and for the foreseeable future, many options are likely to look superior to gold.

Second India v China:
You are very hard on China and its political system. Having lived most of my life in Asia I take a less severe view. Like most observers I was disappointed to see that XI, the reformer, had no intention of political reform but on reflection, I think he’s probably right to opt for political stability at a time when China is still struggling to bring modernity to all its people and regions; when lightening-speed technological change is taking place across the globe and when it finds itself in an inevitable struggle to assert what it regards as its rightful influence on global institutions and practices. On a smaller scale in Singapore Lee Kuan Yew did much the same thing and while there is now a little more political tolerance in Singapore than there was, the Government – and most of its people – believe that full-throated democracy would lead to economic and societal break-down. That would be Xi’s worst nightmare.

My grouse is not so much with your view on China but with your uncritical view of India. I agree with you that India should do well given its demographic advantage and talents of its people. However, I think the Modi government is quite repugnant in its covert – and not so covert – support of extremist Hindu nationalism represented by terrorisation of the Muslim and Christian communities, and by its appalling failure to do much about the abuse of women, also fuelled by Hindu extremists. In the medium term, I fear this, together with over-dependence on coal, will limit India’s investment appeal and therefore its economic potential.

To declare my investment positions, I have reduced my exposure to India and wait for an opportunity to reinvest in China. My favourite Asian market currently is Vietnam.

Third, the purpose of your ‘service’:
Under David’s direction, Fuller Money provided objective macro oversights together with some trading suggestions/recommendations and some investment suggestions/recommendations. He often put his money where his mouth was and invested in his recommendations. Towards the end of his career, he stopped publishing his investment portfolio which I regarded as a pity. Under your direction, Fuller-Treacy Money continues to provide objective (if sometimes convoluted and long-winded) macro oversights, but I find it difficult to work out whether beyond that you are offering trading hints or investment hints. I use the word ‘hints’ rather than ‘suggestions’ because in this aspect you are far more non-committal on specifics than was David. The details you provide of your own investment activities suggest that you are a trader with long(ish) term investments in gold bullion, gold miners and Rolls Royce. I made several profitable purchases based on David’s recommendations but so far have identified none under your watch.

Fourth Daily Audio and Video:
From emails you have referred to from other subscribers, I am confident that I am not alone in being irritated by several of your constant refrains. Three which particularly annoy me are ‘The big question is ….’ (to which we never get an answer); ‘[Gold (for example) has a lot of work to do’ (which is a nonsense, better to identify factors which might influence buying/selling decisions) and; ‘I can’t talk and chew gum at the same time’ (which sounds quite catchy heard for the first time, but grates increasingly after many repetitions).

So, getting that off my chest makes me feel slightly less out of sorts. I shall be renewing my subscription in March. It’s been part of my routine for too long.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email, your long-term support and I hope you back feels better soon. If it is muscular, rather than a herniation, I strongly recommend Yunnan Baiyao. I’ve pulled muscles in my lower back on several occasions either playing tennis or lifting. If it is taken quickly after injury, it provides a powerful, quick solution with no side effects I have experienced. 

I began questioning the wisdom of relying on the Dow/Gold ratio during the early stages of the pandemic. Here is a link to Comment of the Day on April 24th 2020. It includes a large number of long-term ratios and concluded that the Dow Jones Industrials Average is no longer the best way to look at the long-term ratio, confirmed concentration of attention in the growth sector, predicted the recovery in oil prices, higher wages, and the return of inflation.



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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.



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February 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Is Said to Prepare for Potential March Policy Recalibration

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

European Central Bank policy makers can envisage recalibrating their outlined policy path in March, according to officials familiar with their thinking.

The Governing Council agreed on Thursday that it’s sensible not to exclude the possibility of an interest-rate hike this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because their discussions are private. 

An end of bond-buying under the ECB’s regular program, the APP, is possible as early as the third quarter, the officials said. No decisions have been taken. 

An ECB spokesman declined to comment. ECB President Christine Lagarde refused to repeat at her press conference that a rate increase was very unlikely this year, highlighting more persistent-than-expected inflation pressures in the 19-nation bloc. Investors brought forward bets on a liftoff while she spoke.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This graphic from the Nordea highlights the fact that European inflation is all about energy. Raising interest rates doesn’t do much more to curtail demand than high prices are doing already so the ECB is understandably reluctant to rush into action.



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January 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Analysts See Inflation Further Above Central Bank Target

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

Brazil analysts raised their 2022 inflation expectations further above target for the third week in a row as the central bank prepares to lift its interest rate into double digits at Wednesday’s policy meeting.
Inflation will hit 5.38% in December, above the prior estimate of 5.15%, according to a weekly central bank survey published on Monday. Analysts also lifted their 2023 year-end consumer price forecast to 3.50% from 3.40%. 

Policy makers led by Roberto Campos Neto are expected to deliver their third consecutive 150-basis point rate hike this week, lifting the benchmark Selic to 10.75%. Inflation slowed less than expected in mid-January, as factors including global supply-chain disruptions pressured prices of transportation and
durable goods. Analysts see borrowing costs at 11.75% in December. 

The central bank risks missing this year’s inflation target of 3.5%, which has a tolerance of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brazil has some of the highest short-term interest rates in the world and they are about to get even higher. Emerging markets do not have the luxury of time to wait and see what happens. They have much more recent history of inflationary problems and have tended to act much quicker to curtail growth opportunities to bring inflation under control. That’s exactly what Brazil is doing with its aggressive hikes.



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the green revolution

Thanks for the great service pulling the noise out of market trends for us. We especially enjoy what my wife affectionately calls the “Big Picture Long-Winded” Friday recordings. Regarding the possible rotation into the renewable/green economy do you have any ideas on Industries/companies that could benefit from the build out? Or would the safer play be directly in the commodities needed for the grid, vehicles, batteries, and such? Hoping to get to another Chart Seminar before too long.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. A former delegate at The Chart Seminar once described my sense of humour as “impish” and I can’t argue with that. Your better half’s turn of phrase certainly tickled me. The Friday broadcasts are often a delicate balance between trying to be pithy and attempting to cover the relevant arguments. I’m looking at a late May/early June date for a London seminar and I hope to see you there.

The question of the future of the zero carbon/green revolution/energy transition is a big one. On one hand we have high minded projections of a utopian future where the air is pristine and no economy is dependent on carbon emissions for growth. Promises of hundreds of trillions being spent to achieve that goal were a major feature of international conferences in 2021.



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

French Nuclear Giant's Fall Risks Energy Security for All Europe

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

Nuclear power is dwindling elsewhere in Europe too. EDF has shut down some reactors in the U.K. earlier than planned because of other safety issues, while Germany will permanently close its three remaining reactors by the end of the year, after shutting down three others a few weeks ago. Belgium will also close a reactor in October, and halt its six others by the end of 2025. 

At the same time, those countries are adding large amounts of wind and solar generation, filling the gap left by nuclear but increasing their energy systems’ dependence on the whims of the weather. Without reliable baseload power exports from EDF, a cold and windless winter day will become a potentially stressful scenario. 

“The dependency on France is likely to increase with Germany getting out of coal and nuclear,” said Johannes Pretel, head origination for Germany at Swiss utility Axpo Holding AG. “This winter we still had all of our capacity, next winter we don’t have it anymore because the last nuclear plants will be out.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe stopped building reactors thirty years ago. Today there is little appetite to invest in the infrastructure required to maintain aging plants or to build new ones. The loss of the primary source of base load electricity is going to be felt across the continent for years to come. Even if they decided to spend the money today, it would still be a decade before new reactors come into service.



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January 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Commodities Boom Sends Industry Titan Glencore to Decade High

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

Commodities giant Glencore Plc hit the highest in almost a decade, driven by rallies in everything from metals to coal and optimism for a years-long supercycle.

The world’s biggest commodity trader surpassed its 2018 intraday peak on Tuesday, valuing the Swiss company at about $74 billion. Like its mining rivals, Glencore has benefited from massive global stimulus measures that have stoked demand for raw materials, and has also been a big winner from an energy crunch that sent coal prices to a record high. 

A Bloomberg gauge of spot commodities has doubled since early in the pandemic -- reaching an all-time high in October -- as government measures to bolster economies underpinned demand while supply curbs further tightened metals markets. At the same time, a green revolution is boosting long-term prospects for metals including cobalt and nickel for products like batteries.

Glencore is expected to deliver record profits and a bumper dividend when it reports earnings in February. And as the boom draws more investors into commodities, many analysts forecast prices to remain high. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said that a commodities supercycle has the potential to last for a decade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The London Metals Index is testing the 2007 and 2011 highs. Those were bumper years for mining profits so this year is likely to be no different. The challenge for investors is those peaks also represented major climaxes ahead of a rapid tightening of monetary conditions and slowing global growth. The question is whether this time is different?



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January 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft to Buy Activision Blizzard in $69 Billion Gaming Deal

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

Microsoft Corp. said it’s buying Activision Blizzard Inc. in a $68.7 billion deal, uniting two of the biggest forces in video games.

In its largest purchase ever, Microsoft will pay $95 a share in cash for one of the U.S.’s biggest gaming publishers, known for titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft but which is also grappling with a cultural upheaval over its treatment of women. Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick will continue to serve in that role, Microsoft said. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, who heads Microsoft Gaming.

Adding Activision’s stable of popular titles will help Microsoft expand its own offerings for the Xbox console and better compete with rival Sony Corp.’s PlayStation. Activision has a long history with the Xbox. The publisher’s largest franchise, Call of Duty, became successful largely due to Microsoft’s innovative online platform Xbox Live, which allows players to connect for multiplayer matches. Most of Activision’s games are published on Xbox consoles.

“This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse,” Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday.

One of the industry’s most legendary publishers, Activision has been mired in controversy for months amid several lawsuits over allegations of gender discrimination and harassment. Kotick, who has led the company for three decades, has been under pressure from employees to resign. The scandal has taken a toll on a company already struggling to adapt to the end of a pandemic-fueled video game boom. In November, Activision delayed two of its most anticipated games and gave a sales forecast for the fourth quarter that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, sending the shares plunging. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Activision’s culture of ignoring and covering up sexual harassment has been the central factor in the share losing so much of its value over the last 12 months. It poisoned the brand from the perspective of female gamers. News yesterday that a large number of executives were fired was probably a condition set by Microsoft for the purchase. They will certainly wish to begin the merger with a clean slate.



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January 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Selling Out

Thanks to a subscriber for this latest memo from Howard Marks which concentrates on selling. Here is a section:

Many people have remarked on the wonders of compounding. For example, Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” If $1 could be invested today at the historic compound return of 10.5% per year, it would grow to $147 in 50 years. One might argue that economic growth will be slower in the years ahead than it was in the past, or that bargain stocks were easier to find in previous periods than they are today. Nevertheless, even if it compounds at just 7%, $1 invested today will grow to over $29 in 50 years. Thus, someone entering adulthood today is practically guaranteed to be well fixed by the time they retire if they merely start investing promptly and avoid tampering with the process by trading.

I like the way Bill Miller, one of the great investors of our time, put it in his 3Q 2021 Market Letter:

In the post-war period the US stock market has gone up in around 70% of the years . . . Odds much less favorable than that have made casino owners very rich, yet most investors try to guess the 30% of the time stocks decline, or even worse spend time trying to surf, to no avail, the quarterly up and down waves in the market. Most of the returns in stocks are concentrated in sharp bursts beginning in periods of great pessimism or fear, as we saw most recently in the 2020 pandemic decline. We believe time, not timing, is the key to building wealth in the stock market. (October 18, 2021. Emphasis added)

What are the “sharp bursts” Miller talks about? On April 11, 2019, The Motley Fool cited data from JP Morgan Asset Management’s 2019 Retirement Guide showing that in the 20-year period between 1999 and 2018, the annual return on the S&P 500 was 5.6%, but your return would only have been 2.0% if you had sat out the 10 best days (or roughly 0.4% of the trading days), and you wouldn’t have made any money at all if you had missed the 20 best days. In the past, returns have often been similarly concentrated in a small number of days. Nevertheless, overactive investors continue to jump in and out of the market, incurring transactions costs and capital gains taxes and running the risk of missing those “sharp bursts.”

As mentioned earlier, investors often engage in selling because they believe a decline is imminent and they have the ability to avoid it. The truth, however, is that buying or holding – even at elevated prices – and experiencing a decline is in itself far from fatal. Usually, every market high is followed by a higher one and, after all, only the long-term return matters. Reducing market exposure through ill-conceived selling – and thus failing to participate fully in the markets’ positive long-term trend – is a cardinal sin in investing. That’s even more true of selling without reason things that have fallen, turning negative fluctuations into permanent losses and missing out on the miracle of long-term compounding.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The arguments against selling become progressively more compelling the longer prices move up and to the right. It would have been a mistake to sell everything in January 2020 when news of the coronavirus was breaking unless you were equally committed to buying it all back at the first sign of bottoming in March. That visceral experience has acted as a learning experience for many investors who will have resolved never to sell. That is most particularly evident in the crypto markets where faith in the bullish hypothesis has been rewarded time and again.



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January 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nickel Hits Seven-Year High as Hunt for Battery Metals Heats Up

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

Nickel rallied to the highest in more than seven years as surging sales of electric vehicles leave carmakers racing to lock in supplies of the critical battery metal. 

Prices of the metal jumped as much as 3.4% to $21,500 a ton, the highest since May 2014, as Tesla Inc. moved to secure future supplies from Talon Metals Corp. That added fresh impetus to a rally built on surging sales of electric vehicles, which has also pushed other battery metals including lithium and cobalt sharply higher. 

In other major investments in the battery sector, chemicals maker LG Chem also said Tuesday it will spend 500 billion won ($420 million) by 2025 to build a battery materials plant, while BHP Group on Monday said it will pay $100 million to take a stake in an early-stage nickel project in Tanzania.  

While the race to secure future supplies is heating up, there are also growing signs of limited spot availability on the London Metal Exchange. Inventories tracked by the bourse fell for a 50th consecutive day on Tuesday, in the longest run of declines since 2000. 

“We have so many stories all pointing in the same direction,” Michael Widmer, head of metals research at Bank of America, said by phone from London. “People do realize that there is potentially a tightness in supply going on, and that is taking prices ultimately higher.”

Nickel prices traded 2.8% higher at 12 p.m. local time on the London Metal Exchange, reaching $21,375 a ton. Copper, aluminum and tin all gained.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Nickel contributes to battery energy density but also to combustibility. Tesla may be securing additional nickel supplies and BHP is investing in new production in Tanzania but Tesla is also now selling lithium/iron/phosphate batteries in the USA which are less energy dense but do not need nickel or cobalt.



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January 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

European Gas Falls After Netherlands Says It May Boost Output

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

European natural gas erased earlier gains, after the Netherlands said it may boost production at its biggest field this year.

The announcement halted a rally that’s seen prices jump about 30% this week, topping 100 euros a megawatt-hour earlier Friday. It brings some relief to a market where benchmark contracts are still almost three times higher than they were just six months ago, with Russia continuing to limit flows to Europe.

Output from the Dutch Groningen field may total 7.6 billion cubic meters in the 12 months through September, up from an earlier forecast of 3.9 billion cubic meters, according to data from grid operator Gasunie. The deposit is still due to be shut down later this year, after decades of extraction triggered earthquakes. Separately, booked capacity for Norwegian gas to Europe rose for a second day.

Benchmark European gas futures declined 6.4% to 90.285 euros a megawatt-hour by 3:33 p.m. in Amsterdam, after earlier climbing as much as 6.7%. The equivalent U.K. contract for February was down 6.5% at 220 pence a therm.

Extra supply would be welcome news for the region, where prices had rebounded this week after easing in late December. The recent price surge has been underpinned by a lack of sufficient supply from Russia, whose Yamal-Europe pipeline has been flowing in a reverse direction for more than two weeks -- sending gas east instead of west. Russian flows via a key route through Ukraine also remain low.

Europe is drawing on depleted gas storage, raising concerns of a repeat of the current supply crunch next winter, consultant Inspired Energy said in a research note.

The continent has sought increased shipments of liquefied natural gas to ease the pressure. Regasified LNG entering the grid from European import terminals has jumped during the first week of January, network data show.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe is scrabbling for gas supplies and is praying for a mild winter. That has boosted the appeal of the region for LNG shipments. It is also forcing efforts to temporarily boost supply; like the Dutch announcement today. The high price of energy in central Asia was the catalyst for protests in Kazakhstan and that’s for a country which is a major energy exporter.



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January 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Fed Minutes That Shook the World

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

Why such angst? There’s a lot in the minutes, with much useful information for students of the economy and monetary policy. You can find the full version here. For those less interested in such studies, the passage of three sentences that accounted for more or less all of the market reaction read as follows:

it may become warranted to increase the federal funds rate sooner or at a faster pace than participants had earlier anticipated. Some participants also noted that it could be appropriate to begin to reduce the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet relatively soon after beginning to raise the federal funds rate. Some participants judged that a less accommodative future stance of policy would likely be warranted and that the Committee should convey a strong commitment to address elevated inflation pressures.

This commits the central bank to nothing, but the notion that there were hawks on the committee who thought that the Fed should reduce the size of its balance sheet (in other words, start to sell off its huge bond holdings in a move that, all else being equal, should raise yields) came as an unpleasant surprise. Those words are there for a reason. The Fed thought it a good idea to plant a reminder of hawkish intent just as markets were ramping up again after the New Year break, and it seems to have worked.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed Minutes were the catalyst for the sell-off in bonds yesterday which contributed to the weakness in the growth sector. I suspect talk of being more aggressive in quantitative tightening than the 2018/19 period was the primary reason investors took fright.



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January 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crackdown Deepens as Russian Troops Arrive

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

Kazakhstan’s top uranium miner, Kazatomprom, said supplies of the radioactive metal used for nuclear fuel haven’t been disrupted by the unrest and work at all company units has continued. Kazakhstan produces more than 40% of the world’s uranium; prices for the metal jumped.

“We are fulfilling all our obligations easily, there are no problems with uranium shipments and we will meet all delivery deadlines,” Kazatomprom Chief Commercial Officer Askar Batyrbayev said in a phone interview.

Russian Foreign Ministry Says Unrest ‘Inspired From Outside’ (1:51 p.m.)
The unrest in Kazakhstan is “an attempt inspired from outside to violently undermine the security and integrity of the state with the use of organized and trained armed units,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday in a statement.

The ministry didn’t offer further details on who was meant by outside forces. A senior Russian legislator, Konstantin Kosachyov, blamed terrorist groups from Afghanistan and the Middle East, without providing evidence.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Arab Spring began as a series of popular protests in Tunisia, in response to the rising cost of bread. Eventually, the popular movement toppled Egypt’s government and created strife everywhere in the region. It appears likely Russia and its satellites have learned the lesson. Allowing protest movements’, a toehold can have a disastrous impact on the ability of a regime to retain control. China’s efforts to control all public discourse are also informed by the results of the Arab Spring.



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January 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Byron Wien and Joe Zidle Announce the Ten Surprises of 2022

Here is a link to this year’s 10 potential surprises from Blackstone. Here is a section:

6.The price of gold rallies by 20% to a new record high. Despite strong growth in the US, investors seek the perceived safety and inflation hedge of gold amidst rising prices and volatility. Gold reclaims its title as a haven for newly minted billionaires, even as cryptocurrencies continue to gain market share.

7.While the major oil-producing countries conclude that high oil prices are speeding up the implementation of alternative energy programs and allowing US shale producers to become profitable again, these countries can’t increase production enough to meet demand. The price of West Texas crude confounds forward curves and analyst forecasts when it rises above $100 per barrel.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the big lessons from The Chart Seminar is “ranges are explosions waiting to happen”. The longer a range persists for the lower expectations for future potential become. Even so the range stores up potential for a breakout like a spring under compression. A breakout unleashes waves of new buying and price continue to rise until a new balance is found with sellers.



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December 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Water Shortage Is Scary for Its Neighbors

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

Yet China’s natural abundance is a thing of the past. As Michael Beckley and I argue in our forthcoming book, “The Danger Zone,” Beijing has blown through many of its resources. A decade ago, China became the world’s largest importer of agricultural goods. Its arable land has been shrinking due to degradation and overuse. Breakneck development has also made China the world’s largest energy importer: It buys three-quarters of its oil abroad at a time when America has become a net energy exporter.

China’s water situation is particularly grim. As Gopal Reddy notes, China possesses 20% of the world’s population but only 7% of its fresh water. Entire regions, especially in the north, suffer from water scarcity worse than that found in a parched Middle East.

Thousands of rivers have disappeared, while industrialization and pollution have spoiled much of the water that remains. By some estimates, 80% to 90% of China’s groundwater and half of its river water is too dirty to drink; more than half of its groundwater and one-quarter of its river water cannot even be used for industry or farming.

This is an expensive problem. China is forced to divert water from comparatively wet regions to the drought-plagued north; experts assess that the country loses well over $100 billion annually as a result of water scarcity. Shortages and unsustainable agriculture are causing the desertification of large chunks of land. Water-related energy shortfalls have become common across the country.

The government has promoted rationing and improvements in water efficiency, but nothing sufficient to arrest the problem. This month, Chinese authorities announced that Guangzhou and Shenzhen — two major cities in the relatively water-rich Pearl River Delta — will face severe drought well into next year.

The economic and political implications are troubling. By making growth cost more, China’s resource problems have joined an array of other challenges — demographic decline, an increasingly stifling political climate, the stalling or reversal of many key economic reforms — to cause a slowdown that was having pronounced effects even before Covid struck. China’s social compact will be tested as dwindling resources intensify distributional fights.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China, India and neighbouring countries are some of the most densely populated areas of the world. As living standards improve resource consumption tends to rise. That is particularly true for water as sanitation and agricultural demand increases. It is reasonable to expect that resource competition will increase significantly over coming decades and it could easily become a source of conflict if droughts were to become more commonplace or agricultural yields are affected.



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December 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

European Gas Plunges 20% as Rally Lures Flotilla of U.S. LNG

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

European natural gas prices plunged more than 20% on Thursday as this year’s stellar rally attracted a flotilla of U.S. cargoes.

At least 10 vessels are heading to Europe, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Another 20 ships appear to be crossing the Atlantic, but are yet to declare their final destinations. U.S. cargoes of liquefied natural gas will help offset lower flows from Russia, Europe’s top supplier.

Gas prices in Europe have surged more than sixfold this year as Russia curbed supplies just as pandemic-hit economies reopened, boosting demand. Delayed maintenance work and power-plant outages also contributed to the rally. Prices in Europe are 13 times higher than in the U.S. and the market is also trading at a rare premium to Asia, making the continent a prime destination for LNG.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Today’s move in European gas was exacerbated by forecasts for mild weather. Large numbers of cargoes will need to be delivered to improve the low reserves condition currently present in Europe. The market remains at the mercy of the weather so we can anticipate a great deal of volatility over the coming months. Today’s downward dynamic suggests at least a near-term peak.



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe's Power Crunch Shuts Down Factories as Prices Hit Record

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

Electricite de France SA said last week it will halt four reactors accounting for 10% of the nation’s nuclear capacity, straining power grids already faced with the prospect of a spell of cold weather. At the beginning of January, almost 30% of France’s nuclear capacity will be offline, increasing the country’s reliance on gas, coal and even oil.

“If we have a very, very cold day, it could be problematic, especially if we have to import and our neighbors have problems as well,” said Paris-based Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “This is the domino effect we need to fear. But electricity will be expensive, there’s going to be a cost to pay.”

German power for next year jumped to a high of 335 euros a megawatt-hour, following a 25% rally on Tuesday, before slipping back. The French equivalent rose as much as 2.5% to record of 408 euros. Prices gained amid thin holiday trading even as gas declines. There was also speculation some traders may be closing short positions due to rising capital requirements from exchanges.

“The strength in the French market has been the main engine -- aside from gas prices -- of strength in neighboring markets, including Germany, in recent days,” said Glenn Rickson, head of European power analysis at S&P Global Platts.

“I also suspect that any big moves ahead of the run-up to Christmas have as much to do with the thinness of the market and traders needing to close short positions ahead of shutting down for the holidays as anything else.”

Soaring gas and power prices have already forced European utility giants from RWE AG to Uniper SE to boost liquidity requirements. Many smaller suppliers didn’t have the same option, with more than 20 going out of business in the U.K. alone.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Half of the UK’s energy traders/providers have gone out of business since the spike in natural gas prices began. The survivors will be the best capitalised companies that can ride out this volatility. They will also benefit in future from capturing market share during this tumultuous period. 



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December 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Equinor Wants the World's Last Drop of Oil to Come from Norway

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

Equinor’s Johan Sverdrup oil field is already fully electrified. It started production two years ago and is expected to operate for more than 50 years. The process of extracting the crude emits 0.67 kilograms (1.5 pounds) of carbon dioxide per barrel, compared with the company average of 9 kilograms. The global average is 18 to 19 kilograms.

Yet Norway isn’t the only country with this idea. Saudi Arabia, leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, also says it wants to pump the world’s last barrel. The carbon intensity of the kingdom’s crude matches that of Equinor, at 9 kilograms a barrel, according to Oslo-based consultant Rystad Energy A/S.

There’s also the question of whether it will remain politically possiblefor Norway to remain as a major exporter of carbon-based fuels even as it implements its own emissions reductions, and strives for leadership in areas such as electric cars. Its neighbor the U.K. is already facing stiff opposition to new oil and gas developments on climate grounds, contributing to the shelving of the Cambo field earlier this month. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Conventional oil wells tend to have lengthy production profiles but even these eventually peak and need to be replaced. For unconventional wells the requirement for fresh drilling is much more urgent because of the steep initial production profile and early peak. The major oil companies are attempting to evolve in an environment where they are going to be judged on their carbon emissions. That’s expensive but ultimately favours the lowest cost producers like Equinor and the GCC.



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December 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on charging station stocks

Additionally, while individuals do not have gas pumps installed at their home, they can have a level 2 ev charger installed that would seriously compromise the market share of a commercial charging station.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to the Collective. The challenge for investors is in differentiating between the addressable market depicted in glossy pitchbooks and the real-world potential for a sector.



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