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February 07 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Sends More Oil by Sea, But Kremlin's War Chest Pressured

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

The European Union’s import ban on Russia crude has led to much longer voyages for shipments, with journeys now taking an average of 31 days from Baltic ports to India, compared with just seven days from the same terminals to Rotterdam and about half that to Poland. That’s putting more pressure on the dwindling fleet of ships whose owners are willing to haul Russian cargoes. A similar pattern is expected to emerge in Russia’s refined products trade.

The country is increasingly reliant on its own tankers and a so-called “ shadow fleet” of usually older ships owned by small, often unknown companies that have sprung up in recent months. European-owned vessels can still carry Russian crude, as long as it is sold at a price below a $60-a-barrel cap, introduced at the same time as the import ban. The level of that cap is due to be reviewed in March. 

There has also been a resurgence in ship-to-ship transfers of cargoes in the Mediterranean, with loads either being combined onto larger vessels or shifted from ice-class tankers to others in order to free up those ships needed for operations in the Baltic in the winter months.

Tankers hauling Russian crude are becoming more cagey about their final destinations. Vessels carrying more than 41 million barrels of Russian crude, the equivalent of 1.45 million barrels a day of exports, left port showing no clear final destination in the four weeks to Feb. 3.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The prospect of buying oil at a discount will ensure there is ample demand for Russian exports of crude. The rewards are more than ample to compensate for the risks. Transfers between ships off the Malaysian coast have been ongoing for more than a year and that is unlikely to change while there is such a wide arbitrage. 



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February 03 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell Isn't Looking for Big Deals as Debt Shrinks, Profits Soar

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

Shell Plc isn’t planning to use its growing cash pile to pursue big acquisitions, aiming instead to deliver greater value for shareholders. 

That was the message delivered by new Chief Executive Officer Wael Sawan and Chief Financial Officer Sinead Gorman at a meeting with analysts on Friday morning, following their announcement the day before of record profits of nearly $40 billion in 2022 and the lowest level of indebtedness since 2015.

The company’s management is trying to boost Shell’s value, which has lagged American peers that stuck more closely to their fossil-fuel core instead of diversifying into cleaner energy.

Shell’s shrinking debt could give investors “some nervousness around the potential for large-scale M&A,” Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note on Friday about the meeting earlier in the day. “Wael clearly stated this was not on the agenda, with focus more on performance of the asset base and driving higher returns.”

Shell said at the meeting that big acquisitions of around $10 billion are unlikely in low-carbon energy because there aren’t good opportunities, according to analysts at Barclays Plc led by Lydia Rainforth. 

There could be smaller-scale investments in that area, particularly in hydrogen. Last year Shell spent $2 billion to buy Danish company Nature Energy Biogas A/S and reached final investment decision on Europe’s largest green hydrogen production site.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Berkshire purchased a chunk of Occidental Petroleum in December 2022 for $10 billion. That reflected a conscious decision to boost exposure to the conventional energy sector. Meanwhile, energy majors have been shy about increasing exposure and have instead become much more conservative. The majority of their spending has been either been in onshore domestic US production. They have also been open to high probability overseas exposure with close access to major markets like Exxon’s Brunei/Malaysia production. 



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February 02 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil's Pipe Dream

This article for Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here it is full: 

For years, energy experts modeling the impact of 2050 net zero targets on oil demand had the advantage that the deadline, and the incremental steps to getting there, were a long way off. If time proved their scenarios wrong, they’d be long forgotten anyway. 

But now, those first intermediate waymarks are around the corner, and they look increasingly farfetched.

Earlier this week, BP Plc published its annual Energy Outlook, presenting three scenarios — not forecasts — for how oil demand may evolve. The Net Zero path, broadly in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, is difficult to reconcile with current trends.

In such a narrative, BP’s model shows global oil consumption collapsing to 21 million barrels a day by midcentury, down from about 98 million today.

Ignore 2050 and focus instead on the intervening milestones, starting with 2025. In just two years’ time, BP’s Net Zero scenario sees oil demand 4 million barrels a day lower than it is now. That would mean removing the equivalent of Germany’s entire consumption in 2024 and repeating that feat again the following year. 

Every oil forecast I’ve seen shows demand rising in 2023, and the few 2024 projections already published — including one from the US government — see growth continuing.

Looking further ahead, BP’s Net Zero readout suggests demand would need to plunge a further 9 million barrels a day from 2026 to 2030, falling to 85 million a day by the end of the decade. That equates to eliminating the consumption of France each year and, on the final year, striking out Italy as well.

Then the really difficult period starts. The scenario sees the world using just 70 million barrels a day in 2035, requiring the annual removal of 3 million a day. That equals the demand of Japan, currently the world’s fourth-largest consumer.

Net zero models look increasingly at odds with short-term trends. It’s possible oil demand can sink by 2050, but is it going to plummet in a matter of months and keep falling precipitously every year for the next decade? No.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Politicians talk a good game on containing carbon emissions, but have no real solution for how to avoid massive cuts to living standards in achieving them. Environmentalists have been inveighing against the evils of coal for decades but global consumption continues to hit new highs. Is there any reason to expect oil to be any different? That suggests demand will migrate to less well off countries where the reality of survival trumps environmental concerns.



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January 26 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Made-in-China Cars Are Primed to Conquer the Global Market

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

“To fight the Chinese, we will have to have comparable cost structures,” Stellantis NV CEO Carlos Tavares said on Dec. 19, speaking to reporters at a powertrain plant in Tremery in northern France. “Alternatively, Europe will have to decide to close its borders at least partially to Chinese rivals. If Europe doesn’t want to put itself in this position, we need to work harder on the competitiveness of what we do.”

And

The growth in the supply chain in China has also kept pace with car manufacturing. Domestic companies now make almost all parts, including those they used to import until about a decade ago, such as high-strength steel and reinforced fiberglass. As a result, China ran a trade surplus in vehicles and vehicle parts for the first time in 2021. The assembly lines still depend on advanced machines from Japan and Germany, though.

“There seems to have been a step change,” Dyer says. “The long-term trend is for increasing sales of Chinese brands around the world.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

A decade ago it was obvious China was moving up the value chain in manufacturing. It might have not have reached heights of 3nm chip production but planes and automobile parity is now a reality. That’s as much of challenge for Airbus and Boeing as it is for Toyota, Hyundai, Volkswagen and GM. 



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January 24 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future of Uncertainty

Thanks to a subscriber for this transcript of 3rd Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture delivered by Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan of Singapore in New Delhi yesterday. Here is a section: 

First, no country can avoid engaging with both the US and China. Dealing with both simultaneously is a necessary condition for dealing effectively with either. Without the US there can be no balance to China anywhere; without engagement with China, the US may well take us for granted. The latter possibility may be less in the case of a big country like India, but it is not non-existent.

Second, I know of no country that is without concerns about some aspect or another of both American and Chinese behaviour. The concerns are not the same, nor are they held with equal intensity, and they are not always articulated – indeed, they are often publicly denied -- but they exist even in the closest of American allies and in states deeply dependent on China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This perspective gels very well with the reality on the ground I observed in Saudi Arabia on my last two visits. The simple reality is China is the country’s biggest customer and the USA the country’s greatest geopolitical ally. There is no way to play favourites the greatest risk for any country is to be taken for granted because that greatly enhances the scope for one’s interests to be trampled. 



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January 23 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Giant Fund Buys Up Tesla and Plug Power Stock, Sells GM

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

DNB Asset Management materially increased investments in EV maker Tesla (ticker: TSLA) and Plug Power (PLUG), a hydrogen fuel-cell technology company, while slashing its stake in General Motors (GM) in the fourth quarter. The unit of Norway's largest financial-services firm, DNB, disclosed the stock trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Norway’s commitment to renewables is a very vocal and not least because it is such a large exporter of oil and gas. Nevertheless, one cannot argue with the timeliness of these purchases. Tesla lost 75% of its value in little more than a year. That’s a sufficiently large drop to encourage some value oriented interest. 



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January 14 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Futures Minerals Forum Update Part 2

Eoin Treacy's view -

I posted the first part of this update on Wednesday and saved the second part of today. The number one theme in emerging markets is governance. That’s where Saudi Arabia is clearly attempting to make an impression.

In speaking with the junior minister for investment, the decision to give opportunities to young people is very intentional. They know the only way to achieve the progress they need is through harnessing the productive capacity and thirst for invention of the young.

It’s incredibly refreshing to meet so many tenacious young people with ambitious dreams for the future. The fact they have a route to achieve their goals is even better.



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January 11 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chevron-Booked Ship Laden With Venezuelan Crude Sails to US

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

The Aframax Sealeo is on its way to the US after receiving Venezuelan crude in a ship transfer off Aruba, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Sealeo received Hamaca crude oil from tanker Caribbean Voyager in a ship-to-ship transfer ~Monday

Caribbean Voyager loaded ~500k bbl Hamaca ~Jan. 6 at the Venezuelan government-controlled port of Jose

Sealeo signals Pascagoula, Mississippi, as destination; Pascagoula is the site of the Chevron Pascagoula refinery, a facility designed to process heavy sulfurous oil like the types produced by Venezuela

Cargo is first to sail to US after the country eased sanctions against Venezuela in November

Last time US received Venezuelan crude was in May 2019 when Motiva Port Arthur refinery in Texas took ~350k bbl of Diluted Crude Oil: AHOY data compiled by Bloomberg

Other Chevron tankers sailing to/from Venezuela:

Kerala, which loaded 250k-300k bbl Boscan crude for Chevron, is currently anchored off Lake Maracaibo awaiting orders

UACC Eagle, which is bringing ~620.4k bbl of US heavy naphtha to Venezuela, is currently moored at the port of Jose to discharge.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The less remarked upon result of the shale oil revolution is it is predominately Texas light sweet. Most of the refining capacity on the Gulf coast is set up to handle heavy crude; mostly from Canada and Venezuela.



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January 10 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia to Try to Limit Oil Discounts With Market Principles

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

The Urals grade, by far the country’s top export stream, was $37.80 a barrel at the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk on Friday, according to data provided by Argus Media. That was less than half where Brent futures settled on the same day.

The ballooning discount follows the European ban on almost all seaborne crude imports from Russia that imposed from Dec. 5. Simultaneously, the European Union joined with the G-7 industrialized nations in imposing a cap on the price of Russian supply. Anyone wishing access to Western services — in particular industry standard insurance, but also an array of other things — could only do so if they paid $60 of less.

The western price cap is “illegal” and will affect stability of the global energy supply, requiring “significant cooperative effort by responsible countries to remedy,” the ministry said, reiterating earlier statements by President Vladimir Putin and top Russian energy officials.

Russia is prepared to cut its crude production by 500,000-700,000 barrels a day in response to the threshold, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said last month. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The energy markets remain in a state of flux. Europe wants cheaper energy but the USA is now an exporter with a government willing to buy at around $70. Meanwhile the perennial issue of sustaining sufficiently high prices to balance bloated budgets among OPEC members has not gone away. Russia has a challenge in reducing supply because many of its wells are in permafrost. Once shut down, these wells cannot easily be turned back on.



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January 04 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil's New Year Slump Deepens Below $75 as China Concerns Grow

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

Crude’s dwindling levels of open interest have left it open to sharp swings in recent months, and a failed attempt to break above its 50-day moving average this week has done little to improve the technical picture. While sanctions against Moscow over Russia’s war in Ukraine dragged its oil flows to 2022 lows late last month, that’s been of little relief to bulls so far this year. 

The impact of a pre-Christmas freeze that hobbled refinery capacity in some parts of the US should also become clearer in inventory data this week, with the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute’s figures due later. In the short-term, that has lowered crude processing capacity in North America and is also weighing on prices. 

“We’ve seen these big freeze-offs in the US and that has meant that the crude balance has actually weakened,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd., said in a Bloomberg TV interview, referring to US refinery closures due to cold weather. “There’s a few more weeks of softness I would think.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The weakness in the oil sector has little to do with Chinese demand questions. Instead, the illiquidity of the futures market is an increasingly troubling issue because it increases volatility. Open interest in front-month Brent Crude contracts is back at 2015 levels and trending lower.



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January 03 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

War and Currency Statecraft

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

December 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dirty Energy Is the Lone Junk Winner in Credit's Brutal Year

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

Junk-bond investors had almost no way to avoid losses this year, and shunning dirty energy only made the pain deeper. The best return -- one of very few gains -- was in coal, highlighting challenges for investors who need to perform but also want to be sustainable.

Junk’s 11% loss this year -- the worst since the global financial crisis -- was led by communications and consumer non-cyclical bonds, down 15% and 13%, respectively. Energy performed best in the US high-yield index, down about 5% overall.

Coal -- albeit a very small chunk of the corporate bond market -- is up 3.2%, while oil and gas services debt gained 1.7%. That compares with a global credit market that’s down double digits in most market segments this year, with particularly steep losses for longer-dated debt.

Credit markets are forecast to see a broad-based rebound next year and with many sectors trading cheap to history, junk energy probably won’t be the best again in 2023. But so long as oil prices stay supported by conflict and reopening, it should at least be a buttress for bond portfolios likely to take another beating from inflation next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The energy sector has been the best performer in S&P500 for two consecutive years. The fact it is also leading performance in the junk bond market is a testament to the strength of commodity prices in a geopolitically tense environment.



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December 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Covid Pivot Set to Worsen the Global Energy Crunch

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

China’s pivot away from Covid Zero is poised to boost natural gas demand in the world’s biggest importer, potentially curbing supply to Europe and other Asian nations.

China National Offshore Oil Corp. is now looking to secure more shipments of the super-chilled fuel for next year. The return to the market of one of the nation’s largest liquefied natural gas buyers follows a period of subdued demand, due to virus curbs suppressing economic activity, and may herald a rebound in imports. 

Beijing’s move to reopen its economy and live with Covid-19 has seen most internal restrictions being dismantled over the last few weeks. Provided that’s not rolled back as cases surge, that will increase the challenge for Europe next year as it prepares for the winter of 2023/24 with little or no natural gas from Russia. 

Chinese gas imports are likely to be 7% higher in 2023 than this year, according to Wang Zhen, president of Cnooc’s Energy Economics Institute.

The forecast belies still-weak industrial demand. Many factories will send workers home earlier-than-usual for the Lunar New Year holidays, while local production and Russian pipeline flows are rising.

There are already signs China will need to increase LNG purchases to prepare for next year, however. Inventories at northern ports are depleting faster than normal amid cold weather and have dropped to the mid-to-low level, according to ENN Energy’s research group, while domestic LNG prices are trending higher.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese economy is going to experience significant issues as COVID cases ramp higher. The sheer volume of ill people will mean lower productivity over the first quarter. However, peak infections will likely be reached within 10 weeks. After that, there is clear scope for the fiscal measures already introduced to support the property market will become evident.



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December 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Stock Is the Cheapest Ever After This Year's 52% Slump

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

“My biggest concern is the slowdown they’re seeing in China,” Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co. said, adding that “as long as Elon Musk is spending a lot of time with Twitter, it’s going to keep a lid on the stock.”

Bloomberg News reported Friday that Tesla plans to suspend output in stages at its Shanghai electric car factory from the end of the month until as long as early January, amid production line upgrades and slowing consumer demand. 

Meanwhile, Twitter is more than a distraction. Musk’s bankers are considering replacing some of the high-interest debt he layered on Twitter with new margin loans backed by Tesla, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.   

Eoin Treacy's view -

I saw in another article that SpaceX is valued at approximately $140 billion. The purchase of Twitter has stretched both Elon Musk’s time and finances. If his creditors impose a margin loan there is clear scope he will be denuded of his Tesla holdings if Twitter does not turn around quickly. That may result in a rush to IPO SpaceX to raise cash.



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December 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CATL to Deepen Ties With Honda on Battery Development

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

China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world’s biggest maker of electric-car batteries, signs a global partnership agreement with Honda Motor, according to an exchange filing to Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has worked hard to capture the market for EV batteries and that is now paying dividends. Traditional car companies all now want to be EV companies but are years behind in building their own factories and supply chains. That is most especially true for batteries. China has a dominant position in mining and processing the respective raw materials. The implication is clear, there is no way for car companies to achieve their EV goals without outsourcing at least part of the process to Chinese companies.



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December 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Seeks Halt to Oil-Reserve Sales to Refill Depleted Stockpiles

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

The Biden administration is seeking to stop sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve mandated by Congress so it can refill the emergency reserve, a move that could impact the release of 147 million barrels of crude oil.

The Energy Department is seeking to cancel or delay sales mandated by Congress in fiscal years 2024 through 2027 so that it can move forward with a White House plan to refill the oil reserve when crude prices reach around $70 a barrel, an agency official told a Senate committee Thursday. Congress has mandated the sale of 147 million barrels of oil to pay for unrelated legislative initiatives during that time frame, including 35 million barrels in fiscal 2024, according to data compiled by research firm ClearView Energy Partners. 

“It doesn’t make sense for us to be releasing oil while we’re trying to refill the SPR,” Doug MacIntyre, the department’s Deputy Director for the Office of Petroleum Reserves, said in testimony before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We can’t fill and release from the same site at the same time.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It would be easy to conclude the US government had never heard the maxim “buy low, sell high” when they decided to put the floor for purchases at $70. Of course, if we instead think of the USA as a major energy producer, with an administration that is attempting to force a migration away from dependence on oil, higher prices for longer make sense.



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November 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the big turn:

Since returning from the Chart seminar in London I have spoken to several people who work in the Israeli high-tech industry, They all tell me that about 10% of their colleagues have lost their jobs recently. Today you referred to your MIIN index. How can we invest in these countries?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this additional insight. The market for big ideas ballooned with the delivery of free money. Suddenly, no idea was too grand, or time to delivery/commercialization too long. That trend was looking tired in 2019, as the Federal Reserve’s quantitative tightening was siphoning liquidity from the global economy.



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November 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Is Hooked on Russia LNG and Paying Billions to Keep It Coming

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

“Russian LNG has to continue to flow,” said Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a researcher at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “We need that on the global LNG balance: it is already tight enough as it is. I think most European countries are indeed happy to turn a blind eye on this.”

Among European nations, only the UK and Baltic states have stopped buying Russian LNG. By contrast, Russian oil has been widely shunned by buyers across the region, and an EU ban is set to come into force on Dec. 5.
 
A complete embargo on Russian gas has never been seriously considered, given the scarcity of global supply and the potential for an even tighter market next year. Yet the EU has made efforts to find alternative supplies. In March, the bloc pledged to replace almost two-thirds of its gas imports from Russia this year, with most of the new volumes coming in the form of global LNG.

Russian gas now makes up less than 10% of the region’s supply of the fuel, down from more than a third last year, but the share of LNG in Russia’s deliveries is close to half.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a great deal of discussion about the prospect of a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports. This is the alternative to a full embargo on Russia imports which are slated to go into effect next week. Since Europe still relies on Russia for 10% of its gas, the “price cap” is a virtual necessity to keep economic activity moving even if it is impossible to enforce effectively. That suggests a deal will be reached in coming days.



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November 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

J.P.Morgan sees global bond yields dipping in 2023

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

Global bond yields will likely fall slightly in 2023 as the balance between demand and supply will improve by $1 trillion, strategists at J.P. Morgan said in a note.

There will be a $700 billion contraction in global bond demand next year compared to 2022, while bond supply will likely drop by $1.6 trillion, J.P. Morgan strategists, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, estimated in the note issued on Thursday.

"Based on the historical relationship between annual changes in excess supply and the Global Aggregate bond index yield, a $1 trillion improvement in the demand/supply balance would imply downward pressure on Global Aggregate yields of around 40 basis points," the Wall Street bank said.

J.P. Morgan said that while major central banks trimming their balance sheets in 2022 was the single largest contributor to deterioration in bond demand, sell-offs by commercial banks and retail investors were also much higher than estimates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a strong likelihood inflationary pressures will fall next year. There are three major reasons for believing that.



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November 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Equinor Says EU Price Cap Unlikely to Limit Natural Gas Exports

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

Equinor ASA, Norway’s biggest energy company, said a European Union proposal to cap natural gas prices is unlikely to dampen exports of the fuel to the region.

“The intention behind the proposed mechanism is to avoid episodes of excessively high gas prices and not to implement a permanent intervention in market mechanisms,” Equinor spokesperson Magnus Frantzen Eidsvold said in an email Wednesday. “Our immediate assessment is that this will not have substantial consequences for our exports.”

Norway is Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, after Russian flows were slashed following the invasion of Ukraine. Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in October that the country expects to sell about 8% more gas this year than it did in 2021, much of it to continental Europe.

After months discussing how to prevent gas from skyrocketing again, the European Commission on Tuesday proposed an emergency brake on prices. However, the cap is only triggered when benchmark Dutch futures exceed €275 per megawatt-hour for two weeks and the gap between TTF and liquefied natural gas prices is greater than €58 for 10 trading days.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Dutch futures are currently trading at €130 which is a fraction of the peak values over €300 in August. The big question going forward is whether the price cap will be enforceable in the event of a fresh energy crisis. Additionally, the reliable suppliers like Norway would also be penalized through no fault of their own.



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November 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudis Deny Report of Discussion About OPEC+ Oil-Output Hike

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

Saudi Arabia denied a report that it is discussing an oil-production increase for the OPEC+ meeting next month, and said it stands ready to make further cuts if needed. 

Crude futures pared earlier losses, trading 1.8% lower at $86.04 a barrel as of 5:18 p.m. in London. 

“The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a statement via the Saudi Press Agency. “If there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.”

Oil futures earlier dropped as much as 6.1%, dipping below $85 a barrel for the first time since September, after the Wall Street Journal reported that the kingdom and other members of the group were considering raising output by as much as 500,000 barrels a day. 

That would have been a major reversal after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies decided in October to cut production by 2 million barrels a day. US President Joe Biden has slammed the move, saying it endangers the global economy and aids fellow OPEC+ member Russia in its war in Ukraine.

After an initial rally following the cuts agreement, crude prices have declined as the economic outlook deteriorates and China continues to grapple with Covid-19 outbreaks. OPEC twice reduced its forecasts for global oil demand, and Prince Abdulaziz has said the group will remain cautious due to “uncertainties” about the health of the global economy. 

Saudi Arabia has already cut oil exports sharply this month to deliver on the OPEC+ agreement, according to data from energy analytics firm Kpler Ltd. The cartel’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The oil market is very finely balanced so it is unlikely there will be a unanimous agreement to cut or increase supply. The global economy is slowing and China will be grappling with the coronavirus for at least the next 18 months. At the same time, European sanctions on Russian oil are due to go into effect in the next coupe of weeks and that is likely to be a significant source of volatility.



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November 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

LNG Is Proving a Pricey Alternative to Russian Gas Supplies

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

The disruption to oil flows caused by Moscow’s missile attack on Ukraine underscored the need for Europe to find alternative sources of energy. But the LNG that the continent is seeking as a long-term replacement for Russian natural gas won’t come cheap.

There’s already a shortage of vessels to deliver liquefied natural gas due to a surge in demand, and a cold snap would increase global competition for tankers. Traders are paying at least 50% more to secure the ships, meaning higher costs for importing nations. Some of the newest, energy-efficient vessels are reportedly fetching up to $200,000 a day - almost double current rates.

A record 40 LNG tankers are now at sea, waiting for European prices to increase once winter sets in, according to shipowner Flex LNG Ltd. There are already bottlenecks at some ports, mainly in the UK and the Netherlands. That’s due to a limited number of facilities to handle the influx and storage tanks that remain near full with mild weather muting demand.

This congestion has caused ships to be tied up in floating storage, removing tankers from the spot market, Flex LNG Chief Executive Officer Oystein Kalleklev said.

Germany is one step closer to providing some relief for the continent. On Tuesday officials said work was complete on the first jetty for a floating terminal near Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea. Firms including energy giant Uniper SE are now doing additional construction, with the idea of having the terminal operational this winter.

Still, supply could be tight during the coming months, just when Europe needs it most. The continent has relied on the US for much of its imports, and the return of Freeport LNG facility in Texas - following an explosion in June - was set to provide some relief. Now, it looks like the facility will remain offline as repairs continue and it awaits regulatory approvals to restart.

An extended outage at an LNG complex in Malaysia could further tighten the market, increasing spot cargo demand from North Asia. Spot LNG prices in the region surged Wednesday on higher freight costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Replacing reliable pipelines supplies with ship borne cargoes is far from ideal but it is a necessity for most of Europe. Even if the war in Ukraine ended tomorrow, politicians have learned their lesson, overreliance on a single suppler is ill advised. That ensures LNG will be a well-supported market in Europe regardless of any other events over the next decade.



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November 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Euphoria Sweeps China Stocks as Signs of Covid Zero Pivot Emerge

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

Traders who have for long been seeking clear signals of a pivot away from the staunch Covid Zero policy cheered the slew of changes announced on Friday, which included a cut in the amount of time travelers and close contacts must spend in quarantine, and a pullback on testing. The decisions by the National Health Commission followed a meeting by the nation’s top leaders on Thursday, where a more targeted approach was encouraged to tackle outbreaks.

“This is a huge positive for the market,” said Wang Yugang, a fund manager at Beijing Axe Asset Management Co. “Of course how much efficacy these measures have for the economy we will need to observe.”

In a display of broad market optimism, every stock on the 50-member Hang Sang China gauge was up on Friday. On the mainland, the CSI 300 Index ended 2.8% higher.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese government is wrestling with the opposing challenges of rising cases and the slowdown in the economy. The reality is quarantines cannot stop the spread, only slow it down, when COVID is endemic everywhere else. At some stage China will have to grasp the nettle and tolerate higher numbers of infections for longer. How willing they will be to tolerate millions of cases a day remains an open question. Of course the answer, supplied by India’s experience, would be to simply stop counting.



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November 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

JPMorgan, Citigroup Maintaining Some Russia Ties Due To U.S. Government Instructions

This note from Dow Jones may be of interest to subscribers.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are maintaining some ties with Russian companies for strategic reasons on directives behind the scenes from the U.S. State Department and Treasury Department, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The country's biggest banks are caught between Congress, which is pushing for strict sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and the Biden administration, which has urged banks to continue doing business with strategic Russian companies, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Nnedinma Ifudu Nweke, a lawyer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP who specializes in economic sanctions, told Bloomberg that some pockets of business are still allowed with Russia, particularly in the humanitarian space as well as facets of the financial system that would pose a systemic risk. A spokesperson from the Treasury Department told Bloomberg that it has issued guidelines to banks to assure that humanitarian aid, energy and agriculture activities continue.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This would be a news grabber on its own but when it comes in tandem with the story that the USA asked Ukraine to at least act like they are open to negotiations with Russia it is potentially even more significant. 



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November 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Metals for Your EV Are Stuck in a 30-Mile Traffic Jam

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

Zambia, too, has ambitious expansion plans. The region could add nearly 1 million tons of annual copper production over the next decade, according to Adam Khan, copper supply analyst at CRU Group, and others are more optimistic still.

“Copper is the new oil,” Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said in an interview. “This is a very good opportunity for us.”

There’s no doubt that the region’s copper will be needed. To meet the global target of net-zero by 2050, the world may need to double supplies of what S&P Global calls “the metal of electrification.” “The green-energy transition is the biggest purchase order in history for the commodities industry,” said Benedikt Sobotka, chief executive officer of miner Eurasian Resources Group.

To be sure, logistics are not the only impediment. Corruption is rife, and disputes with governments are common. One of the largest copper and cobalt mines, Tenke Fungurume, hasn’t been allowed to export any material since July because of a dispute between its owner CMOC Group and Congolese state mining company Gecamines.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The COP27 Conference opened in Egypt today and the number of articles highlighting the plight of climate affected populations both domestically and internationally has increased significantly over the last week. The above article focuses on the supply issues of transporting resources to the coast and the additional challenge posed by the plans to increase supply before infrastructure has been built. Meanwhile Glencore was fined £281 million for bribing officials in Africa. Never mind that it is impossible to do business in the region without local partners.



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October 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell Hasn't Been Paying UK Windfall Tax as Profits Double

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

doubled to $9.45 billion, because it was making big investments in North Sea fields. 

The fact that Shell wasn’t liable for the levy, which was designed to allow companies to reduce their payments if they invest in new production, nevertheless threatens to amplify the controversy about record oil-company earnings at a time when most people are struggling with soaring energy bills. 

There are growing calls for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who imposed the windfall tax in May when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, to hit the sector with additional levies as he tries to fill a £35 billion hole in the country’s finances. Even Shell’s boss acknowledged the possibility of further government intervention. 

“They will be looking at companies like us, who benefit of course from the volatility and the prices that we see, to fund the programs that they are rolling out,” Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on a call with reporters Thursday morning. “We have to accept it and we have to embrace that.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the first measures Rishi Sunak took when he became prime minister was to reimpose the ban on fracking. That’s putting more focus on boosting oil and gas supply from the North Sea. Shell expects to spend £23-27 billion on capital expenditure this year which is at least 20% more than last year and on par with years like 2018 and 2019.



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October 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GM Rides Full-Size Pickups, Luxury SUVs to Big Earnings Beat

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

“We’re delivering on our commitments and affirming our full-year guidance despite a challenging environment because demand continues to be strong for GM products and we are actively managing the headwinds we face,” GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said in a letter to shareholders.

Shares of the carmaker rose 2% to $36.45 as of 9:35 a.m. in New York. The stock is down about 38% this year. 

GM reported adjusted profit of $2.25 a share on Tuesday, surpassing analysts’ projection for $1.89 a share. It also maintained guidance for full-year adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $13 billion to $15 billion, or $6.50 to $7.50 a share. 

“GM yet again affirmed the strong and until now mostly disbelieved full-year total company EBIT outlook it has maintained since introduction in February,” J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman said in a research note. “GM is now well on the path to achieving its full year goals, despite the tougher consumer and cost backdrop.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Auto manufacturers talk a good game of expanding EV production with stated expectations of massive increases in the number of electric vehicles manufactured. However, they continue to sell SUVs and pickup trucks. Companies like GM and Ford don’t sell large numbers of sedans so the commitment to selling EVs is moot.



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October 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Texas Natural Gas Prices Drop Toward Zero as Supplies Boom

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

Insufficient pipeline capacity has actually been a long-term problem that has dogged Permian Basin gas producers for years. The choke points worsen when pipeline operators must perform repairs and preventative maintenance work that forces temporary reduction in pressure or halts to shipping. 

Permian pipeline constraints “have never been relieved,” making the region more susceptible to sudden gluts and price volatility, said Campbell Faulkner, chief data analyst at OTC Global Holdings LP.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world is not running out of natural gas. What we are dealing with at present is a supply bottleneck. These kinds of problem can be solved. It would be a lot worse if there was a genuine shortage of global natural gas supply. However, to bring prices back to acceptable levels significant investment in pipeline, LNG import and export facilities, and shipping will be required.



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October 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lula Losing Brazil' Biggest State Forces Urgent Campaign Rejig

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

Inside Lula’s campaign, the result in Brazil’s most populous state — the birthplace of his political career, and containing about 25% of the entire electorate — was compared to a plane crash, where a confluence of small factors leads to catastrophe. At his team’s first post-election meeting, the talk was of frustration and failure. 

Edinho Silva, the former president’s campaign coordinator, may have had an inkling of what was to come, saying in an interview on the eve of polling that Sao Paulo had become a center of hard-core support for Bolsonaro’s brand of right-wing identity politics. 

“We have a percentage of Brazilian society that, unfortunately, is racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, and doesn’t accept the social ascent of the lower classes,” he said. “And a significant part of Brazil that thinks in this way lives in Sao Paulo.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Here is a novel idea. Perhaps Brazilian voters are not prepared to install a man who squandered the bounty from the last commodity boom on vanity projects. As if that were not enough, he  led an administration that was the most corrupt in the country’s history, and that is saying something. Lula was jailed for corruption and was only allowed to run because he was offered a politically motivated dispensation.



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October 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mini-Budget Torched, Now Hunt Must Balance the Books

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

Our latest assessment, taking on board the change in borrowing costs since Hunt’s announcement and the policies in the statement, is that a further £13 billion will still need to be found to just get debt falling relative to GDP. It would take more like £36 billion of consolidation to put it on the same trajectory as we projected before the mini-budget was published in September.

Debt Still On Explosive Path
Finding a package of spending cuts that are politically viable and deliverable will be extremely challenging -- much of the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. Hunt faces an uphill struggle to win the faith of markets as he formulates a budget, to be delivered on Oct. 31.

Hunt also said that the universal household energy price cap will be replaced from April 2023 with more targeted measures. It’s not clear what those measures will be but removing the government cap altogether and reverting to Ofgem’s methodology from April would imply a 75% rise in energy bills for households. Inflation would jump to 11.6% in April, against 6.4% under the cap.

The combination of austerity and less support for households next year means the risks to our forecast for a 0.4% drop in GDP in 2023 have shifted to the downside. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Jeremy Hunt introduced a reset over the weekend which puts the UK government’s finances back to where they were two weeks ago. As a result the Pound is back to where it was on September 20th. Deficits are wide but the assumption is the universal energy price cap is assumed to be temporary. The reality is price controls are difficult to remove once installed and are always expensive to maintain.



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October 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil prices rise 2% on low diesel stocks ahead of winter

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

The U.S. Energy Secretary in August urged domestic oil refiners to refrain from further increasing exports of fuels like gasoline and diesel, adding the Biden administration may need to consider taking action if the plants do not build inventories.

The EIA warned this week that most U.S. households will pay more to heat their homes this winter. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that U.S. gasoline prices remain too high and he will speak next week about lowering the cost. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’ve seen a lot of commentary predicting an oil price spike is imminent, that the winter is going to result in a chronic shortage of every form of distillate and there is nothing being done to solve the issue. Meanwhile, the number of drilling rigs in service continues to trend higher and the economic activity is likely to moderate everywhere in response to higher rates. Energy is mostly about supply but at economic turning points it is about demand.



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October 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Says All Infrastructure at Risk After Nord Stream Hit

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

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said any energy infrastructure in the world is at risk after the explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

The attacks were an act of terror that set “the most dangerous precedent,” the Russian president told a Moscow energy forum on Wednesday. “It shows that any critically important object of transport, energy or utilities infrastructure is under threat” irrespective of where it is located or by whom it is managed, he said.

Putin blamed the sabotage on the US, Ukraine and Poland, calling them “beneficiaries” of the blasts that caused major gas leaks in the Baltic Sea. The US and its allies have rejected those allegations and suggest Russia may have been behind the underwater blasts.

The attacks on two strings of Nord Stream and one string of Nord Stream 2 at the end of September have raised concerns over the future of Europe’s gas supplies. Other critical infrastructure in the region has also suffered damage in recent weeks. 

Earlier this month, an act of sabotage halted train services across northern Germany and the government has said it can’t rule out foreign involvement. A pipeline that carries Russian oil through Poland was found to be leaking on Tuesday. Investigations continue, and Poland’s top official in charge of strategic energy infrastructure said he assumed it was an accident.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a none too subtle threat to expect escalation of attacks on energy infrastructure for as long as the EU is supporting Ukraine’s resistance efforts. The sabotage of Germany’s rail network with specialized interruptions conducted simultaneously at locations 200km apart is a display of Russia’s extraterritorial ability to sow disruption.



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October 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Great Progression 2025-2050

This lengthy article by Peter Leyden for Wired’s bigthink.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

We’re living through an extraordinary time in American history, and really in all human history. Once you take that big-picture historical perspective, once you look at the whole forest rather than the individual trees, the real story of our times starts to make more sense. We happen to have arrived at a juncture between two very different historical eras and that makes everything on the ground very confusing, and very traumatic.

One way to understand this is that for the last 40 years America and the world have been operating within a series of interconnected systems that add up to one mega-system. Our energy system was rooted in carbon, and our transportation system was based on the internal combustion engine. Our culture was dominated by the huge Baby Boom generation and our politics tended to be more conservative. Our economics was all about unleashing the private sector and maximizing shareholder capitalism. Work was done in physical places and production was primarily industrial. Our uber-challenge was terrorism, and our geopolitical focus was the Middle East, which made sense because we needed to keep the carbon energy flowing to keep the whole flywheel of this mega-system spinning.

That whole mega-system, and all the subsystems, arguably are now breaking down and often causing more problems than they are solving. This world that older people spent their entire careers and lives mastering is coming to an end. This world that younger people were taught is “just the way things are” increasingly does not make sense. This world that politicians proudly had policies for, and that the media confidently analyzed and explained, is soon going to be over.

Every one of those systems arguably is being superseded by new systems much better suited for the 21st century. Our uber-challenge is now climate change and so our energy system must shift to clean power and our transportation system to electric. Our culture now is dominated by the huge Millennial generation and our politics are becoming more progressive. Our economics is raising the role of the public sector and capitalism being pushed to include all stakeholders. Work is now taking place much more virtually, and production is on the cusp of becoming biological. And our geopolitics is recentering on Asia, and in particular on the new superpower, China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two important cycles investors need to be aware of. First you have the technology cycle. Time marches to a different beat inside universities and labs all over the world. The market may go up and down but smart people, beavering away on their pet idea, will eventually lead to technological innovations that take everyone by surprise.



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October 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Malaysia LNG declares force majeure on supply to customers -Mitsubishi

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

The possible disruption comes at a time when Japan and many other countries in Europe are scrambling to ensure gas supply for the peak winter demand season as they face the threat of an energy cut-off from Russia amid the war in Ukraine.

The force majeure was due to a leak on the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline on Sept. 21, the Mitsubishi spokesperson said, adding it was assessing the impact from the action.

"We have already strongly requested that Malaysia LNG take all possible measures to examine and respond to the impact," he said.

"We will closely monitor the situation and provide full support to Malaysia LNG in order to minimize the impact on the Japanese market," he said, adding there would be limited impact on its earnings.

The spokesperson declined to give details such as the dates of declarations and volume of the supply that may be affected or how long the supply disruption could last.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We are in a tight supply environment so every pipeline or processing facility interruption makes global headlines. Nevertheless, there is still potential that the explosion at the Freeport terminal in Texas, the Nordstream pipeline explosion and the Petronas leak are related events. Regardless of whether these events are the result of malicious intent, the argument for any measure that supports energy independence is more convincing than ever.



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October 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

LNG Market Supply to Remain Tight for Years, Top Producers Say

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

Liquefied natural gas will be in short supply in the coming years as production lags behind surging demand from Europe, according to the world’s top producers of the fuel.

Global LNG demand is unlikely to peak for another 20 to 30 years, Qatar Energy Minister Saad Al-Kaabi said at the Energy Intelligence forum in London. Meanwhile, supply will remain “structurally short” until there’s significant new production capacity, which will be 2026 at earliest, Meg O’Neill, chief executive officer of Australia’s Woodside Energy Group Ltd., said at the event.

Their comments add to a growing chorus warning that Europe’s worst energy crisis in decades is unlikely to end soon. While the continent looks set to cope this winter, it’s next winter when the supply shortage will really bite as Europe tries to replenish its stockpiles without Russian imports.

“Next winter is going to be the problem,” Al-Kaabi said. “It doesn’t look like it’s getting better.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The opinion that Europe will cope this season is implied in prevailing prices of natural gas. It is not reflected in media coverage which continues to paint a dire picture of what this winter will feel like for many consumers.



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October 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on looking at lots of charts

Dear Eoin, In the 1960s and 1970s subscribers to the David Fuller Chart Service received a booklet containing hundreds of charts each week or each month. I used to come into the office at 6a.m. and complete the point and figure charts each day. Thanks to this work, I gained a reputation among my colleagues for being the first one to spot changes in the long-term trends of both overall markets, sectors and individual shares. As of this morning, I am getting up one hour earlier and I will start by looking at all the daily charts of the Autonomies in the Chart Library. Let's hope that this will produce the same result. This morning's work show very small blue upward marks in almost every chart. These are tiny upward movements in the year-long major decline in all these share prices. This "summer's swallow" has not yet started chirping. Regards,

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this account. David was still having chartbooks printed in 2003, when we began working together. By that stage they were a very niche product that had become obsolete with the development of charting software. Nevertheless, the practice of looking at lots of charts is as useful today as it has ever been.

In following your program of activity, I would suggest taking one day to look at point and figure charts. They will give you clear confirmation of a change of trend.



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October 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Freeport LNG Paradox

This article from Goehring & Rozencwajg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is the conclusion:

With the announcement that Freeport will likely resume exports in October, much sooner than originally planned, combined with low inventories and a gas supply that has shown little in the way of growth, we believe the risk of a Q4 price spike in North American natural gas is once again high.

Natural gas has quickly gone from relative obscurity to geopolitical lynchpin. In the summer of 2020, seaborn LNG reached a low of $1.90 per mmcf while oil prices turned negative. Together, this represented the lowest energy costs in human history. Two short years later, LNG has risen 30-fold to $58 per mmcf, representing the highest energy costs in human history. Such is the result of a decade of underinvestment. Given the fragility of the world’s energy supply, it is no wonder tyrants and despots are moving to weaponize fuel sources. We do not expect this trend to stop and recommend investors position themselves accordingly. We remain extremely bullish on North American natural gas and recommend investors continue holding their natural gas related equities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Some of information quoted in this report is not accurate. For example, Rhine river levels could approach normal depths this week, and France changed the rules on nuclear power heating of river water in August. European coal prices peaked in March and continue to unwind an overbought condition.
 



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October 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

UK Seeks 20-Year Gas Deal With Norway to Avoid Winter Blackouts

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

The UK is in talks with Norway to secure a natural gas contract of potentially 20 years in a bid to stave off the risk of winter blackouts, a person familiar with the matter said.

Ministers are discussing a price with their Norwegian counterparts, according to the person, who asked not to be named discussing sensitive matters. The business department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Because of the length of contract under discussion, there’s a risk that locking in long-term gas contracts now might leave the UK exposed to high costs in years to come. Current volatility means producers could demand higher prices to guarantee strong profits as it’s unclear how much money they could make by selling on the spot market in the future instead.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Forced buyers are never going to get the best price regardless of how amicable the relationship is between Norway and the UK. However, if that is the only way to ensure security of supply over the coming couple of years, it may be a price worth paying.



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October 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazilian Assets Soar as Presidential Race Goes to Runoff

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

Brazilian assets jumped after President Jair Bolsonaro secured his way to a runoff election against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as investors cheered on the incumbent’s better-than-expected showing and bet his leftist challenger will be forced to moderate his stances in the second stretch of the race.   

Lula, as he is universally known, took 48% to Bolsonaro’s 43%, Brazil’s electoral court said, with almost all votes counted.

That tally left Lula without the simple majority needed for an outright victory, as some opinion polls had suggested, and set the two up for a bruising face off in what has already been a divisive election campaign.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Brazilian iBovespa is the only major global index in positive territory this year; in both nominal and currency adjusted terms. 13.75% short-term interest rates, up from 2% in March 2021 have successfully got inflationary pressures under control. The central bank expects to be cutting rates by the end of the year or early in 2023. 



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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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