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June 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Permian Basin Facing Pollution Rules That Could Curb Drilling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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June 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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June 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden to Urge Gasoline Tax Pause as Prices Drag on Democrats

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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June 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany turns to coal as Russia cuts gas supplies

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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June 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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June 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Natural Gas Slumps as LNG Plant Shutdown Strands Supplies

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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May 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Norway Targets Record Gas Sales This Year as Europe Shuns Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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May 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ride of the 'Volkyries'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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May 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dollar Won't Be Haven Currency of Choice for Long

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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May 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sahara solar could soon rescue Britain's broken energy system

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Credit Availability Is Still High

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Sinks as Dour IMF Forecast Sparks Global Growth Concerns

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Big $hort

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

Paraphrasing Herodotus…

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

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

Luck is luck. Luck isn’t structural…

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

But not this time around…

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Rise as CPI Bolsters Bets on Inflation Peak

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Sidesteps Sanctions to Supply Energy to Willing World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New York Jet Fuel Soars to New Height as Inventories Dwindle

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia's Other War of Attrition Is Against Europe

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Says Wait and See on a Russian Pullback

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Oil Crisis is Unfolding in Slow Motion

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Demands Ruble Payment for Gas, Escalating Energy Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Surges With Growing Supply Fears as EU Considers Russian Ban

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powering Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Satellite outage knocks out thousands of Enercon's wind turbines

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Shocks and Recessions

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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March 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review March 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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

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



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March 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chevron Doubles Buyback as Spending Cap Helps Lift Cash Flow

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Solar Stocks Rally as Tariff Expiration Nears With No Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Invasion of Ukraine Is a Tragic Sin

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

So here are a few gripes for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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February 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review February 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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

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

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



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February 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Is Said to Prepare for Potential March Policy Recalibration

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Analysts See Inflation Further Above Central Bank Target

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the green revolution

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Commodities Boom Sends Industry Titan Glencore to Decade High

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft to Buy Activision Blizzard in $69 Billion Gaming Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Selling Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

European Gas Falls After Netherlands Says It May Boost Output

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Fed Minutes That Shook the World

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crackdown Deepens as Russian Troops Arrive

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Byron Wien and Joe Zidle Announce the Ten Surprises of 2022

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Water Shortage Is Scary for Its Neighbors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on charging station stocks

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Plans Giant Battery to Manage Surge in Offshore Wind

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

The first phase of the Teesside battery is due to be completed by 2023, a Sembcorp spokeswoman said by phone, adding that the investment required would be in the “hundreds of millions” of pounds.

“Flexible energy sources play an increasingly important role in maintaining secure and reliable energy supplies,” Andy Koss, Sembcorp’s chief executive officer for the U.K. and Middle East, said in the statement. With a growing reliance on renewables, the U.K. energy system must be “able to respond

quickly to changes.”

The new storage site is expected to top the largest current planned battery -- a 100-megawatt facility by Zenobe Energy Ltd. Sembcorp said its total U.K. battery pipeline is now almost half a gigawatt. It already operates 70 megawatts and has a further 50 megawatts due to come online in early 2022.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In just the same way that fossil fuels require storage facilities, renewable energy requires batteries and storage solutions for when demand spikes amid slower supply. The building of industrial utility-scale batteries reflects a doubling down of government policy on renewable energy. That trend has been underway for a decade; since the refusal to reinvest in the Rough storage facility in 2012. 



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December 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on carbon sequestration

Montreal company Carbicrete has developed a method for sequestering carbon in concrete, claiming its product captures more carbon than it emits. The technology cuts out the need for calcium-based cement, a key ingredient in traditional concrete that is responsible for around eight per cent of all global CO2 emissions. I thought you might be interested in this.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email. There is a clear incentive for innovators to come up with ways to profit from the rising cost of carbon emissions. The COP26 agreement will create a global market for emissions and will broaden the number of companies subject to carbon restrictions. That is all aimed at creating a market for alternatives in much the same way that subsidies fostered the solar and wind sectors.



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December 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Shortage of Fertilizers Sends Demand for Dung Soaring

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

“The arable area still requires significant tonnage of synthetic fertilizer, but this is reduced by the use of manures,” Butler said. Since the animal waste from his farm is not enough, he has been buying biosolids from utility Thames Water, which produces over 750,000 meters squared of sludge each year for farmers across Britain’s southeast. 

However, Butler said that it’s increasingly difficult to source human excrement as “there is more demand than supply for biosolid materials.”

In the U.S., biosolids are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and in Europe, biosolids have been in use since 1986 when it received regulatory approval from the European Union. 

While manure is an inexpensive alternative to pricey synthetic fertilizers, it is a “poor replacement for those accustomed to traditional fertilizer products,” said Alexis Maxwell, an analyst at Bloomberg’s Green Markets. For example, the fertilizer diammonium phosphate has six times the nitrogen and 15 times the phosphate as manure on a per ton basis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The farmer a mile from my old home in Ireland had a contract with the sewage treatment plant to buy waste. It made for a very smelly couple of days when he was spreading it on his land. However, it also meant he was not spending on costlier imports. That kind of business model has a lot more competition today, because of the surge in European natural gas prices which continue to recover from the October correction.



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December 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

SEC probes Tesla over whistleblower claims on solar panel defects

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

Henkes, a former Toyota Motor quality division manager, was fired from Tesla in August 2020 and he sued Tesla claiming the dismissal was in retaliation for raising safety concerns. Tesla did not respond to Reuters' emailed questions, while the SEC declined to comment.

In the SEC complaint, Henkes said Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose its "liability and exposure to property damage, risk of injury of users, fire etc to shareholders" prior and after the acquisition.

Tesla also failed to notify its customers that defective electrical connectors could lead to fires, according to the complaint.

Tesla told consumers that it needed to conduct maintenance on the solar panel system to avoid a failure that could shut down the system. It did not warn of fire risks, offer temporary shutdown to mitigate risk, or report the problems to regulators, Henkes said.

Tesla shares fell 5.5% at $960.25 on Monday after the Reuters report.

More than 60,000 residential customers in the U.S. and 500 government and commercial accounts were affected by the issue, according to his lawsuit filed in November last year against Tesla Energy over wrongful termination.

It is not clear how many of those remain after Tesla's remediation program.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elon Musk’s Teflon-like ability to bait officialdom, and avoid censure, has been part of his appeal for years. He has actively cultivated the persona of a bad boy as a means of personifying the “move fast and break things” culture of Silicon Valley. So far, it has worked and by attracting legions of retail investors he has a solid backing on social media to support him if the strategy goes sideways.



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December 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on lithium mining

a contact living in northern Portugal has informed me of the ecological disaster there being caused by Lithium mining. In the attached article we can read that thousands of protesters are marching in Serbia in opposition to Lithium mining there. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/05/rio-tinto-lithium-mine-thousands-of-protesters-block-roads-across-serbia Regards A.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no getting around two important facts. Mining, all mining, is destructive. It is also absolutely necessary to further the goal of global economic development of every kind. There is a good reason that most mining takes place in sparsely populated areas and most particularly in emerging markets. No one wants a mine in their backyard.



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December 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review December 3rd 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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November 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Euro-Area Inflation Tops All Forecasts With Record 4.9%

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

Anticipating a spike in inflation this month, ECB officials have redoubled efforts in recent days to reassure citizens that they are facing a once-in-a-generation cost-of-living squeeze that won’t endure, driven by energy and a series of one-time factors.

While President Christine Lagarde is sticking to that script, some colleagues are warning that price pressures might take longer to subside, stoking speculation about the future course of monetary policy. 

At a Dec. 16 gathering, the Governing Council is set to announce the end of its pandemic bond-buying plan and outline how regular purchases and interest rates will develop as the economy continues its recovery.

“While energy costs and statistical effects can explain the bulk of this month’s jump, today’s reading also revealed some stronger than anticipated underlying pressure. That will add to concern over upside risks to the outlook, but the ECB is still likely to see inflation falling below 2% by the end of next year.” - Maeva Cousin, senior euro-area economist. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The spike in Eurozone inflation was expected even if the headline number was higher than estimates. The ECB believes inflation will drop back towards 2% once the pandemic subsides. At least they are dearly hoping that will be the case.



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November 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Doctor Who Saw Omicron Early Says Symptoms Milder Than Delta

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

South Africa announced the identification of a new variant on Nov. 25, saying a few cases had first been identified in neighboring Botswana and then others had followed in Tshwane, the municipal area in which Pretoria is located. The announcement caused a global panic, roiling markets and resulting in travel bans on southern African nations.

Scientists advising South Africa’s government told a media briefing on Monday that while omicron appeared to be more transmissible, cases appeared to be very mild.

Coetzee’s patients have been relatively young. A vaccinated 66-year-old patient did return a positive test on Monday but was only mildly ill, she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Everything we have been led to believe over the last couple of years is that cold and flu viruses mostly evolve to be more transmissible because that furthers the urge to replicate all organisms share. Becoming less deadly is often a part of that because it aids in replication. That part of the argument is complicated by the fact that COVID does not kill before it is has ample time to replicate and disperse.



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November 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What We Know About the Virus Variant Rocking Markets

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

6. How worrisome is this variant?
It’s too early to say. The World Health Organization said there are fewer than 100 whole genomic sequences of the new strain available, which could add to the time it takes to study how it compares to previous strains and its impact on Covid therapies and vaccines. Viruses mutate all the time, with the
changes sometimes making the virus weaker or sometimes making it more adept at evading antibodies and infecting humans. Covid vaccines have shown they are effective against previous variants and pills being developed by Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc. may also provide new treatments. 

7. What should we look out for next?
In the U.S., which recently lifted a year-long ban on tourism from much of the world, top medical adviser Anthony Fauci said he wants to see more data. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control assigned the variant -- first detected in South Africa and Botswana -- the category “Variant of Concern.” BioNTech expects the first data from laboratory tests about how it interacts with its vaccine within two weeks.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is the most important chart from the above article. It highlights how transmissible this variant it. From the available data, it is much more transmissible than the Delta or Beta variants and is already approaching dominance of South Africa cases. That implies it will spread around the world rapidly and within a month or at most two will be the dominant global strain.



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November 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Advances With Global SPR Release Smaller Than Expected

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

Futures in New York rose as much as 2.6%, erasing earlier losses, after Tuesday’s statement from the White House. While the headline size of the U.S. release is large, a significant chunk of the crude will be borrowed -- to be returned later -- leaving traders expecting tighter balances down the line. The U.S. is making the move in concert with China, Japan, India, South Korea and the U.K.

Oil prices have hit multiyear highs in recent months amid a global energy crisis that’s added hundreds of thousands of barrels a day to consumption, while the world economy is grappling with surging inflation. The decision puts major consumers on a collision course with OPEC+, which views such a release as unjustified and may reconsider plans to add more supply at a meeting on Dec. 2.

“From OPEC’s perspective, a cautious ramp-up is still the way to go,” said Damien Courvalin, the head of energy research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc,, in a Bloomberg Television interview on Tuesday. “OPEC has no incentive to increase production aggressively and the SPR release probably comforts them.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

COVID-19 numbers are ramping higher in Europe again. That holds out the prospect of rising case numbers in other regions as well. Against that background OPEC would be foolish to commit to spending on additional supply when it may not be used.



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November 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Warns of Response as Biden Poised for Oil Reserve Release

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

OPEC+ officials warned they’re likely to respond to plans by the world’s largest oil consumers to release oil from their strategic stockpiles, setting up a fight for control of the global energy market.

President Joe Biden is set to announce a plan to release reserves from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve on Tuesday in tandem with China, India, Japan and South Korea, according to officials briefed on the matter. The move, weeks in the planning, is designed to ease this year rise in fuel prices for drivers and businesses.

OPEC+ delegates said the release of millions of barrels from the inventories of their biggest customers is unjustified by current market conditions and the group may have to reconsider plans to add more oil production when they meet next week.

The tussle threatens the biggest ructions in the geopolitics of oil since the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia in early 2020. At stake is the price of the world’s most important commodity as politicians and central bankers contend with the strongest inflationary surge in more than a decade. It also shows the strained relationship between Washington and Riyadh, traditionally a cornerstone of U.S. relations in the Middle East.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Releasing supply from strategic reserves is supposed to be limited to times of emergency, not to serve political purposes. The whole purpose of having a strategic reserve is so it can be a short-term fix until a crisis passes. It is not designed as a weapon to go head-to-head with the world’s largest producers. Even a coordinated release will only inject volatility into the market and leave consumers even more exposed to supply shocks in the future.



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November 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Solar demands to normalize in 2022, polysilicon price likely to remain high

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

While some factories have already resumed operation after the mandatory power rationing expired, for instance GCL-Poly revealed that their 36,000 tonnes polysilicon factory has already restarted production after making use of the 2-week suspension period to undergo repair and maintenance, most solar materials have also witnessed significant price increase under the adverse effect of supply reduction. One of the clear examples is the sharp price rally of silicon raw material, which is the major material for making polysilicon and on average account for 40% of polysilicon’s production cost. The silicon raw material price rose sharply from USD 2.4/kg in Aug-21 to the peak of USD 10.4/kg in late Sep-21, before gradually normalizing to USD 6/kg in Nov (See Exhibit 3), especially after the Yunnan government decided to restrict the utilization of most energy-intensive production, including silicon raw material, by 90% starting from Sep in 2021. It is noteworthy that Yunnan accounts for 20% of total silicon raw material production in China, while Xinjiang and Sichuan’s market shares are 40% and 15% respectively. In our view, the cost pressure originated from silicon raw material price rally would gradually pass down the supply chain, implying subsequent solar material price hike would continue to emerge in other segments.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has historically been willing to do whatever it takes to capture market share in emerging industries. That helped it dominate the entire supply chain for solar panels in the last decade. Deploying excess energy from coal fired power stations into polysilicon production was a big part of that strategy.



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November 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cargill CEO Says Food Prices to Stay High on Labor Crunch

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

MacLennan said in September that soaring food costs would prove transitory and should dissipate in time. Since then, the rally in energy prices and continued supply-chain snarls have made markets “a lot tighter,” he said.

“When you have limited supply, that can lead to higher prices,” MacLennan said. However, he noted that China hasn’t been buying crops as aggressively as it did last year, while North American harvests are robust. “That takes some pressure off the system.”

A search for greener airplane fuel and biodiesel is also pitting food against energy production, leading to tighter edible oil supplies. Prices for palm oil, the world’s most consumed vegetable oil, have soared about 50% in the past year, while soybean oil is up 60%. Canola, also used to make oil, is near a record.

The food-versus-fuel tension will become more intense than it’s ever been in the last 15 years, MacLennan said. The day will come when more agricultural products will be used for energy than food, so it will be incumbent upon the farmers of the world to innovate and become more productive, he added.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Using food for fuel should be a much more controversial practice. We are literally substituting political idealism for the wellbeing of millions of people. The fact that palm oil demand is soaring because of its use as both a food ingredient and a fuel is a useful example of how the environmental lobby often does more harm than good.



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November 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

European Gas Prices Jump on Delay to New Russian Pipeline

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

The German regulator said Tuesday it suspended the certification procedure for the Nord Stream 2 project because the operator of the pipeline decided to set up a German subsidiary, which will be the owner of the section of the pipeline in the country. The permitting process has been halted until assets and people are transferred to the new unit.

Benchmark European gas prices surged as much as 12% after the announcement as it adds to the uncertainty over how much gas the energy-hungry market will have this winter. Many in Europe expect Russia to significantly increase supplies only when the pipeline is approved.

“This is potentially a good thing for the project for the long term, as the changes could mean it would be eventually approved,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S. “But it’s not helping the short-term outlook for the market where a bad, cold winter could leave us short.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no doubt the Nordstream 2 pipeline will eventually be permissioned. However, that is not going to happen until German regulators have had the opportunity to feign independence in making the decision. No one likes to admit they are beholden to a foreign power but unfortunately, Europe is completely dependent on Russian gas. They need that pipeline as much as Russia wants it and therefore it will be permissioned eventually.



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November 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

4 Million Tons a Day Show Why China and India Won't Quit Coal

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

Meanwhile, mines across China and India have been ramping up production in recent weeks to ease a supply crunch that’s caused widespread power shortages and curbs on industrial activity. China’s miners have beaten a government target to raise output to 12 million tons a day, while India’s daily production is close to 2 million tons.

“The power cuts since mid-to-late September show that we are still not prepared enough,” Yang Weimin, a member of the economic committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and a government advisor, told a conference in Beijing on Saturday. Additional funding is needed to ensure coal plants can be used to complement a rising share of renewables, he said.

Coal’s share in global electricity generation fell in 2020 to 34%, the smallest in more than two decades, though it remains the single largest power source, according to BloombergNEF.

In China, it accounted for about 62% of electricity generation last year. President Xi Jinping has set a target for the nation to peak its consumption of the fuel in 2025, and aims to have non-fossil fuel energy sources exceed 80% of its total mix by 2060.

For India, coal is even more important, representing 72% of electricity generation. The fuel will still make up 21% of India’s electricity mix by 2050, BNEF analysts including Atin Jain said in a note last month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The focus on attention right now is on the willingness and potential of both India and China to eventually limit their use of coal. Much less attention is focused on Africa where the bulk of population growth is occurring. The next couple of billion people will mostly be born in Africa. That means increasing demand for power and higher standards of living as the continent urbanises



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November 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inflation in U.S. Builds With Biggest Gain in Prices Since 1990

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

“We haven’t seen, I’ll say, any more resistance to our price increases than we’ve seen historically.” -- McDonald’s Corp. CFO Kevin Ozan, Oct. 27 earnings call

“Looking at Q4, we expect our selling price actions to continue to gain traction, as we work to mitigate the raw material and logistics inflationary pressures we have experienced throughout the year.” -- 3M Co. CFO Monish Patolawala, Oct. 26 earnings call

“We feel very comfortable that any inflation that is affecting our margin today, we have the ability to offset it.” - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CFO John Hartung, Oct. 21 earnings
call

“We have now announced pricing in nine out of ten categories, so very broad based.” -- Procter & Gamble Co. CFO Andre Schulten, Oct. 19 earnings call

While most CPI categories rose, the cost of airfares declined for a fourth month and apparel prices were unchanged. Wages have strengthened markedly in recent months -- with some measures rising by the most on record -- but higher consumer prices are eroding Americans’ buying power. 

Inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings fell 1.2% in October from a year earlier, separate data showed Wednesday.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ability of companies to pass on inflation is a good reason why the stock market generally does well in the early portion of an inflationary cycle. The big question therefore is not whether they can successfully pass on one price increase but whether they can continue to pass on price increases should inflationary pressures trend higher.



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November 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasuries Surge Despite Strong Jobs Data, Pricing In Slower Fed

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

Gains in Treasuries may be partly driven by short-covering, which appears to have contributed to Thursday’s U.K.-led rally. CME Group Inc.’s preliminary open-interest data for Treasury futures show steep declines, in particular for the two-year note contract. Open interest in two-year note futures fell 2.3%, its biggest drop in three weeks.

Fed officials continue to emphasize that inflation is too high even as they hope to foster labor-market recovery by keeping interest rates low.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George Friday said “the risk of a prolonged period of elevated inflation has increased,” and “the argument for patience in the face of these inflation pressures has diminished.”

The declines in 10- and 30-year yields -- which fell as much as 6.5 basis points to 1.899%, the lowest since Sept. 23 -- come despite next week’s auctions of those tenors. The auctions, whose sizes were announced on Nov. 3, are smaller than the previous new-issue auctions in August, however. The reductions were the first since 2016.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The longer-term inflationary trend is being driven by wage demand growth and the upward pressure on the cost of housing and rents. However, it does not all happen at once, and some of the supply inelasticity factors that contributed to inflation over the last year are easing.



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November 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

On Target #273

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

The key inefficiency is intermittency. When winds don’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, electricity has to be found elsewhere. In July there was so little wind driving the turbines on which Britain depends for a quarter of its power supplies that they operated at less than 5 per cent of their capacity for 314 hours. We’re told that we’ll eventually have battery farms on such a scale storing back-up energy to overcome the intermittency problem with the renewables that will replace fossil fuels. But the figures don’t add up. A friend who has analyzed them tells me that, using reasonable assumptions, to replace the 1,400 Terawatthours of electricity used in the European Union each year and currently coming mainly from natural gas and coal will require battery storage back-up of some 273 million tonnes of batteries. Assuming battery prices continue to fall, that will nevertheless cost say $8.2 trillion – double that taking into account necessary peripherals -- and need about 25 years’ mining of lithium carbonate. And you’d need to replace the entire stack of batteries every few years as their charge holding capacity erodes. As my friend says: These are “insanely prohibitive costs.” Activists argue that the current energy crisis must be used to intensify the transition to renewables. That is, more of one of the root causes of the crisis. More inefficiency, more malinvestment and more demand for relatively scarce materials such as copper.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The willingness of the environmental lobby to drive investment towards renewables remains unabashed particularly as we look at the verbal commitments being made as part of the COP26 discussions. The viability of these commitments rests squarely on developing new battery chemistries that are more efficient, cheaper and less resource intense. It’s a tall order and, even then, will only form part of the wider energy mix.



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October 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Higher For Longer Oil Prices?

This podcast from Morgan Stanley may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Underlying our structurally bullish view on EEMEA is an assumption of higher for longer oil prices due to supply constraints on the path to net zero. Marina speaks to Martijn Rats about his bullish near-term and long-term outlook for oil and the questions EM investors have been asking on this theme.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The shock of negative prices during the pandemic killed off speculative appetite among exploration and production companies in the oil sector. Few new wells were dug and the sector has been relying on the stock of drilled but incomplete wells over the last intervening year. That has curtailed the sector’s ability to respond quickly to higher prices.



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October 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Carbon Markets

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

The world is a mess when it comes to carbon regimes — there are currently 64 carbon pricing systems globally, with another 30+ in development. Thirty of the existing systems are carbon markets, with the remaining 34 carbon tax regimes. Not only is there no agreement on a mechanism, but the prices within these regimes vary from the meaningless $0.10/tonne to an eye-watering $142.40/tonne — against a price widely seen as necessary now for Paris-alignment of $40-$80/tonne. This fragmented approach is clearly inefficient, and evidence tells us that so far, it is proving ineffective at a global level. Accordingly, to achieve real progress, we must find some way of integrating these individual regimes into one globally-fungible system. There are essentially four ways we could achieve this, using one, or a combination, of the methods mentioned below:

The first option is essentially via command and control directives, where governments/regulators simply mandate the amount of emissions that are allowed when and from which industries, with non-compliance penalized severely. While potentially effective, this is unlikely to be efficient, and almost certainly would not provide the lowest cost solution. This leads us to the three other, market-based solutions (which, it should be pointed out, are not mutually exclusive):

The first of these is a carbon tax on emissions, which could either be applied as a flat rate globally, or with differing rates for emerging and developed markets, potentially with differing ratcheting up speeds, to eventually bring the world into alignment.

The second option involves cap and trade systems, whereby allowances for emissions are granted and/or auctioned up to a (reducing) limit, with parties showing faster than prescribed progress allowed to sell their excess allowances to other slower moving parties — while still reaching the same cap.

The third option involves baseline and credit systems, whereby parties earn credits for reducing emissions, which could be sold to others in deficit, potentially within one of the two preceding mechanisms.

Each of these is fraught with complexities, both technical, and perhaps more importantly, political. Discussion of the pros and cons of each of these methods, the pitfalls and stumbling blocks, as well as how they might be implemented, forms the basis of this report.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

With the latest big climate conference scheduled for this month there is a great deal of speculation about the possibility of world changing regulations being implemented. If the past conferences are any guide, the possibility of the world’s governments agreeing on an achievable zero- carbon goal by 2030 has to be treated as a low probability outcome.



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October 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nuclear Stocks are Making a Comeback

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Brendan Coffey for Cabot Wealth which may be of interest. Here is a section:

HALEU is in between, with 5% to 19.75% of the uranium mass that power-source isotope. As an added bonus, HALEU can be made from down-blending the used, military-grade uranium. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is so excited by HALEU that it’s close to approving a new generation of reactor designs it says “will completely change the way we think about the nuclear industry.” Power plants will be smaller, more efficient, produce less waste uranium and they won’t need their cores replaced for 20 years, unlike every 18 to 24 months for current reactors. At the moment, the DOE is in the process of deciding on the next generation reactor from 10 finalists; nine of them are designed to use HALEU.

The first market for HALEU will be micro-reactors for the military. The Pentagon is seeking to remove domestic bases from the wider electrical grid as part of its climate change-related plans to keep bases operational under increased extreme weather events. A Defense Department prototype reactor, Pele, should be available by 2024. Perhaps 130 reactors will be deployed. By mid-decade, utility owned micro-reactors will start rolling out for remote locations like interior Alaska and far-flung islands. They’ll generate perhaps 10 megawatts (MW) of energy with a one-time upfront fueling to last 20 years. More powerful, advanced utility reactors could come to market by 2030. Even current reactors will be able to use HALEU in place of the low-enriched stuff.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Militaries pioneered small modular reactors for use in aircraft carriers and submarines so they are also likely to be the first to deploy small reactors for use in other applications as well. The US military’s answer to climate change is to double down on nuclear reactor technology by taking bases off the grid and creating options for power in remote locations like Alaska and forward operating bases. 



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October 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Gas, Power Tumble After Russian Signals to Add More Fuel

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

It’s the latest intervention in the market from Putin to talk down gas prices, even as some European officials suspect he’s been holding back supply to pressure Europe into approving Nord Stream 2, the controversial new pipeline linking Russia to Germany. Russia is also concerned that excessively high prices could destroy demand, and would like to see them fall by about 60%, according to people familiar with the situation.

Higher Norwegian gas flows and a drop in Chinese coal prices are also putting downward pressure on prices, Engie EnergyScan said in a note. Norway’s Equinor ASA promised Wednesday to boost exports. Maintenance at its giant Troll field in December will be shorter than previously planned, system operator Gassco said Thursday, also a bearish factor.

Tom Marzec-Manser, an analyst at pricing agency ICIS, said the timing of Putin’s comments on adding fuel to Gazprom’s storage sites in Germany and Austria could be connected to Germany’s Economy Ministry saying on Tuesday that certification of Nord Stream 2 wouldn’t pose any risks to security of supply.

Eoin Treacy's view -

UK natural gas futures extended their pullback on the above news. That further supports the view that a peak of medium-term significance has been reached. The bigger question is how much prices will fall as the bottlenecks ease? Generally speaking, it is unusual for commodity prices to trade back down into their base formations once breakouts occur. Significant sources of new supply would be required for that to happen.



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October 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia sharply raises key rate as prices soar

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.

Russia's central bank aggressively raised its interest rate for the sixth time in a row Friday in an
effort to slow soaring food prices, and did not rule out further hikes.

Rising prices, falling incomes and a lack of tangible government support during the pandemic have been eroding popular support for President Vladimir Putin's two-decade rule, and authorities are under pressure to ease inflation.

At a meeting on Friday, the Bank of Russia increased its key rate by 0.75 percentage points to 7.50 percent, surprising many analysts who had expected a smaller hike.

The bank said that more hikes could follow and revised up inflation predictions.

"Inflation is developing substantially above the Bank of Russia's forecast and is expected to be within the range of 7.4-7.9 percent at the end of 2021," the bank said.

The Bank of Russia said that as of October 18, inflation stood at 7.8 percent but was expected to return to 4.0-4.5 percent next year.

"The central bank continues to act decisively and proactively," Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, said in a note to clients.

After months of historically low inflation, consumer prices began to climb in March 2020, driven by a drop in the ruble's value in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The central bank started raising its historically low rate the same month. Its next rate review meeting is scheduled for December 17. In September, the bank raised its interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to 6.75 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia is a major grain producer but is also reliant on imports for many additional food stuffs. That offers a graphic representation of how everyone is susceptible to the fragility of the global supply chain. Shutting the whole world down eighteen months ago had a dire effect on the ability of producers to manage their operations. The ensuing volatility has taken much longer than anyone thought to iron out and it is not over yet.



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October 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on UK renewable energy listings

It seems difficult to buy many of the ETFs you mention in the UK. For instance, FAN and TAN. Is there a copper mines ETF that a UK investor can buy?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to the Collective. The UK equivalent of the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) is the Invesco Solar UCITS ETF (ISUN). Unfortunately, it is illiquid with only $2.25 million under management.



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October 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Radiant aims to replace diesel generators with small nuclear reactors

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

Radiant says its fuel "does not melt down, and withstands higher temperatures when compared to traditional nuclear fuels." Using helium as the coolant "greatly reduces corrosion, boiling and contamination risks," and the company says it's received provisional patents for ideas it's developed around refueling the reactors and efficiently transporting heat out of the reactor core.

Radiant joins a number of companies now working on compact nuclear reactors, and a smaller number focusing specifically on portable units, which would include the floating barges proposed for mass-manufacture by Seaborg. It'll be a while before we see one up and running, but a clean, convenient, low-cost, long-life alternative to diesel generators would be very welcome.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of small modular reactors and the increasing volume of space traffic point towards secular growth trends for helium. The terminal decline of helium supply from North America’s major source of production in Amarillo Texas was highlighted in 2018 as a major supply bottleneck. It had the potential to be a major supply inelasticity trend, as new sources of demand emerged. With so much enthusiasm about nuclear reactors in the market today, I thought it might be worth revisiting.  



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October 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fertilizer Woes Paint Bleak Outlook for the Pantry

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

Fertilizer plant shutdowns in the U.K. highlighted how critical the situation is, because it cut off supplies of carbon dioxide, a byproduct that’s needed for everything from slaughtering animals to packaging food. A deal was struck this week to maintain output in the coming months, averting more chaos for the sector.

The risk is that it’s just a quick fix. The owner of the British plants, CF Industries, said that CO2 users need to look for new sources of supply. An industry group also warned that temporary fertilizer-plant closures in Europe could become permanent.

It’s a worrying sign for future harvests a time when global food prices are at a 10-year high. There are concerns that farmers in France, the European Union’s top wheat grower, may find it hard to source fertilizers next spring, regardless of the price.

In Brazil, where a lot of farmers haven’t secured their fertilizer needs or locked in prices yet, worries of non-delivery are increasing. President Jair Bolsonaro has said the nation faces the risk of fertilizer shortfalls next year due to falling Chinese output in the wake of high energy costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Substituting coal for natural gas is the most common-sense solution to reduces carbon emissions. Unfortunately, that is not nearly ambitious enough to satisfy the demands of carbon fanatics. The result is there is resistance to increases supply from any and all sources. That’s putting pressure on fertiliser, carbon dioxide, heating and transportation costs.



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October 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Uranium ETFs Roaring Back After $1 Billion Influx on Nuclear Bet

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

That view has been buttressed by some recent announcements. On Tuesday, the French government said it will help a state-controlled utility company develop so-called small modular nuclear reactors by 2030, a move President Emmanuel Macron signaled as key to reducing global carbon emissions. Japan’s new prime minister said that the nation should replace aging nuclear power plants with such module reactors. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

This graphic, from the 1960s, depicting German expectations for how nuclear would become the dominant supplier of electricity is particularly noteworthy. It helps to highlights how wrong expectations for the future can be, particularly when linear extrapolations are relied on. It also highlights uranium has had plenty of false dawns over the decades.



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October 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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October 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global: The one on Tsars, Muftis, Weathermen and Energy Prices

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

How low are inventories? Germany is already under water
German inventories of natural gas are scarily low ahead of the winter. We have taken a deep look at Gazproms major storage sites in Germany (Katharina, Jemgum, Redhen and Etzel), and were almost shocked by the severity of the issue. Current inventories will run frighteningly close to zero by Mid-March 2022, if usual seasonal patterns unfold over winter.

The current 16900 MCM/D inventory in Gazproms German facilities is barely enough to survive the winter, as the inventories usually drops by between 17500-20000 MCM/D between late October and mid-March. This is too much of a knife-edge situation to be truly comfortable with. Remember that natural gas makes up around 25% of the total energy consumption in Europe still. We are counting on you Vladimir!

The situation is about as bad in China, if we just replace natural gas with coal in the charts, which could prove to be even more problematic as coal makes up around 60% of the energy consumption in China. Per anecdotal evidence China has now re-allowed Australian coal shipments to reach Chinese land-territory despite the ongoing geopolitical dispute between the two countries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

A topic I discussed in yesterday’s audio was the current energy crisis in Europe and China highlights an important logical inconsistency for environmentalists. If one believes the climate is going to change in an unpredictable fashion, then building an alternative energy future which depends on weather patterns remaining constant does not make sense.



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October 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beijing Blinked First in China's Energy Crisis

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

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

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

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

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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October 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil jumps 2%, hits 3-year high as OPEC+ sticks to output plan

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

Despite the pressure to ramp up output, OPEC+ was concerned that a fourth global wave of COVID-19 infections could hit the demand recovery, a source told Reuters a little before the vote.

"The (price) move looks a bit outsized given the ministers just reaffirmed the decision announced in July, but it shows how tight the market is, reinforcing our view of asymmetric price action with risks skewed to the upside at these inventory levels," Barclays said in a note. 

Investors will closely watch Wednesday's crude inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for further direction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

OPEC has a clear interest in sustaining reasonably high prices but not so high that significant additional supply is encouraged back into the market. At prices above $80, a lot of marginal supply becomes economic and it takes about 6 months to bring significant volumes online.



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October 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's biggest clean energy project to power Singapore from Australia

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

The Australia-Asia PowerLink project, led by Australia's Sun Cable, plans to create a mammoth "Powell Creek Solar Precinct" on 12,000 hectares (29650 ac) of arid land about 800 km (500 miles) south of Darwin. The site, chosen because it's one of the most consistently sunny places on Earth, would be home to a mind-boggling 17-20 gigawatts of peak solar power generation and some 36-42 GWh of battery storage.

To give you a sense of scale, that's nearly 10 times the size of the world's current largest solar power installation, the 2.245-GW Bhadia Solar Park in India, and more than 30 times more energy storage than the last "world's biggest battery" project we covered in February. It's a bit big.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Not all that long ago spending more than $20 billion on a first of its kind project was considered completely unreasonable. Today, $20 billion is a rounding error compared to the quantities spent on stimulus.

The market for High Voltage Direct Current lines has been growing for more than five years. The first report of a feasibility study for an Australia - Indonesia connector is from 2016.



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October 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review October 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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September 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on China's energy challenges

You mentioned the energy shortages in China. These two articles from the Daily Telegraph spell out the scale and the implications globally. Best wishes to you and family

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for the wishes and both these articles. Here is a section from Ambrose Evans Pritchard’s and here is a link to the other: 

The property squeeze is compounded by a parallel squeeze on carbon. Xi has promised peak CO2 emissions by 2030, a 25pc cut per unit of GDP by 2025, and a 3pc cut in energy intensity this year.

He knows that China is paying a high credibility price for foot-dragging as Europe and the US launch green deals (nobody can hide behind Trump any longer), and may soon face a carbon border tax in its top markets if it is not careful.

Energy-saving edicts are raining down. Party cadres have been mobilised to pursue CO2 crimes, and are reportedly doing so with the zeal of the Cultural Revolution. The state planner (NDRC) says 20 Chinese provinces have failed to meet this year’s goals on cutting energy intensity.

Nomura says nine have received “Level 1 warnings”, including Guangdong and Jiangsu, 35pc of China’s economy between them. Woe betide the Party officials responsible.

The steel, cement, and aluminium industries face production caps by the industry ministry (MIIT). They stole part of their allowance over the first half, and must cut back this half to compensate. That means drastic falls in steel output. It has already begun and is hammering iron ore prices, along with miners such as Vale and BHP Billiton.

I wonder does anyone remember the butter mountains and the wine lakes of the late 1980s and early 1990s? They were a political embarrassment, but prices were low. The EU and North America were overproducing because they subsidized farmers and low prices meant third world country farmers were impoverished and could not compete. The result was the abandonment of subsidies, much higher prices, still impoverished global farmers and a migration of market dominance to Brazil. I mention it here to emphasise that no good intention is left unpunished in the commodity markets.



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September 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing for inflation:

Dear Eoin, Many thanks for your comment on inflation as a solution for the massive public debts. In these circumstances how would you structure your portfolio? In which sectors would you invest your funds?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to subscribers. This is a very big question because the stocks that have done best over the last decade have benefitted enormously from the massive availability of liquidity and very low rates. Divesting from the best performers runs contrary to most people’s instinct to run their winners so monitoring the consistency of their price action is particularly relevant to all portfolios over the next decade.



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September 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on slower Chinese growth:

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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September 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

IEA Says Russia Could Do More to Boost Europe's Gas Supply

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

Europe is facing gas shortages, but Russia has a crunch of its own. Gazprom has boosted production this year, but it’s directing the additional output to refill depleted storage sites at home. Russia has been producing close to its maximum capacity, but its domestic needs have curbed availability to Europe, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

“Russia is not running out of gas and its prolific gas reserves allow Russia to meet much higher overall demand, but this requires time, money, and contractual assurances of offtake,” said OIES Senior Research Fellow Vitaly Yermakov.

Some analysts have argued that Russia has capped flows to Europe as a way to get its controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany online. Flows through the link could improve supplies, but the start of commercial operations will depend on regulatory certification -- first in Germany, then at the European Commission. That could run well into next year. U.S. sanctions have also created challenges for the project.

The IEA stressed that it’s wrong to blame the shift away from fossil fuels for the surge in gas prices. The comments came a week after Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate chief, warned that the record spike in energy prices must not undermine the European Union’s resolve to cut emissions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Could Russia do more to ease the supply shortage of gas in Europe? Probably. Will it? That’s going to be a strategic decision and it will probably come with caveats. Natural gas is not oil. The network for mass transportation across oceans is still immature. Pipelines remain the preferred transportation network. Russia has a clear interest in opening its Nordstream 2 pipeline in a timely manner. That will need to be weighed against the need to bolster its reputation as a reliable supplier.



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September 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lucid Air blows past the competition (Tesla) with 520-mile EPA range

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

When Lucid Motors first announced its Air sedan would return 517 miles (832 km) on a single charge, it sounded too good to be true. But Lucid didn't think so, having hired an independent test firm to run it through the EPA cycle. A year and change later, Lucid's best-in-market electric car range stands. The official EPA numbers are out and show that the first 2022 Air models will all surpass the 405-mile (652 km) EPA benchmark set by the 2021 Tesla Model S Long Range, with the longest-distance variants breaking 500 miles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The gauntlet has been thrown down. The Lucid vehicle has a longer range and charges faster than Tesla’s best in class vehicle. Right now, it costs about double what a Tesla does and deliveries are only just starting but the equivalent of an electric vehicle arms race is beginning.



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September 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Key U.K. Power Cable Will Be Partly Knocked Out Until March

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

A key U.K. power cable knocked out by a fire will stay partly offline until March, National Grid Plc said, deepening the energy crisis threatening Britain as it heads into winter.

The timing couldn’t be worse. The U.K. is already struggling with shortages, with gas and power prices breaking records day after day. The energy crunch is fueling concerns about inflation and a potential hit to businesses just as the economy emerges from the worst impact of the pandemic. How the U.K. fares through the winter now hinges in large part on the weather.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One has to question how long it will be before the population wakes up to the reality that wind and solar are not base load suppliers of electricity. Placing one’s faith on an intermittent source of power is inevitably going to result in blackouts when the system breaks down.



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