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November 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the next crash

Dear Eoin, could you comment on Niall Ferguson's market prediction in the Sunday Times: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this article which may be of interest to subscribers. It is always a useful exercise to contemplate the end of the financial world but in the full knowledge it doesn’t happen all that often. Niall Ferguson does a good job of articulating the potential causes of future problems in this article which is sure to garner attention for his new book. 



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November 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From The Oil Patch November 21st 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting, and occasionally controversial, report for PPHB. Here is a section: 

Between 2010 and 2016, coal’s share of U.S. energy fell from 23% to 15.8%, while renewables’ share climbed from 1.7% to 3.7%.  In the EU, coal’s share fell from 16% to 14.5%, and renewables more than doubled its share, going from 3.9% to 8.3%.  This emissions and economic progress by the EU is in jeopardy following the election of President Trump who is determined to boost U.S. oil, natural gas and coal industries, and push back on green mandates and subsidies.  The EU’s response has been to isolate the United States for its climate position.  Their strategy for overcoming high energy costs and exposure to energy disruptions is to make people choose expensive renewable energy in the guise of it being the only logical choice when confronted with the alternative of a disastrous environmental outcome if we continue burning fossil fuels.  

As the EU’s strategy seems not to be working as well as planned, it has become more radical with governments seeking to ban internal combustion engine cars.  This, its leaders believe, will force American auto companies to compete in the marketplace of zero-emission vehicles.  Little is mentioned about the fact that the carbon emissions legacy associated with building electric cars requires years of driving them before it is neutralized.  Electric car promoters also never mention the environmental and social costs of mining the rare earth minerals required in rechargeable batteries.  If fairly presented, people might question whether there are other alternative solutions that are less-costly and do more to mitigate the environmental hazards of electric batteries and renewable energy sources.  

While the goal to level the economic playing field with respect to energy’s cost in manufacturing remains an EU objective, the path to achieving that goal has changed.  The choice presented is impending environmental disaster with continued use of fossil fuels versus feeling good about saving the planet with high cost renewables and zero-emission electric vehicles.  Expect more of rhetoric as we move forward.  Maybe President Trump understands that the climate change movement is really an economic war in the guise of climate change.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The simple fact is the EU imports a lot of its energy and the USA is close to being energy independent. Quite whether the EU is so cynical in its attempts to pioneer high cost power is questionable, but if everyone were to adopt the same cost base for energy production it would certainly create a more level playing field for a lot of important industries and help European competitiveness.  



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November 21 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ASEAN: The infrastructure push

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

Infrastructure plays a crucial role in the region’s economic, social and environmental development, including boosting regional connectivity. Greater connectivity of the transport infrastructure enhances logistical efficiency and supports the growth of investment, trade and commerce while reducing business costs. While countries have invested in infrastructure to varying extents over the years, development has been gaining momentum, with more than US$275bn key pipeline projects across ASEAN, as we detail in this report.

Singapore: To fulfil Singapore’s 6.9mn population target (+25% from the current size) by 2030, the government is steering infrastructure development towards greater public network connectivity, usage of personal mobility devices, as well as usage of digitalisation to transform the city state into a Smart Nation. These infra developments, amounting to US$44bn will help Singapore cope with population increase and prevent traffic congestion.

Malaysia: In the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), the government highlighted its commitment to infrastructure development. One focus is on building railways (MRT 2, MRT 3, LRT 3) to alleviate traffic congestion. Another focus is on connecting rural areas to urban clusters to ensure equitable development through the Pan Borneo Highway. Infrastructure growth is driven by China, having committed US$34bn (RM144bn) to infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Rail Link, Kuantan Industrial Park and Melaka Gateway. 

Indonesia: In the post-Suharto era, infrastructure development stalled and has not been able to keep up with economic growth amid the commodities boom. The inefficient transport network has resulted in acute distribution bottlenecks, driving up logistics cost. When President Jokowi took office, he diverted a portion of the energy subsidies to infrastructure development. Through priority infrastructure projects totalling US$41bn, the government seeks to boost connectivity in the archipelago to increase business competitiveness.   

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

In a period of synchronised economic expansion it is natural for emerging markets to engage in infrastructure development since credit is generally still accommodative and the need remains compelling. That will also help to lay the foundation for future growth as the region evolves economically amid a trend of generally improving standards of governance. 



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November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 20th 2017

November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Chart Seminar

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is always a pleasure to meet subscribers but doubly so when we get to spend two days together discussing the outlook for psychological makeup of the market, where we are in the big cycles and which sectors are leading and which are showing relative strength. I had three big takeaways from last week’s seminar in London.

As anyone who has attended the seminar will know, I do not have examples but offer delegates the opportunity to dictate the direction of the conversation. That ensures the subject matter is relevant to what they are interested in and also highlights the fact that subject matter is applicable to all markets where an imbalance between supply and demand exists. The second benefit of allowing delegates to pick the subject matter is that it is offers a window into what is popular in markets right now and what might be getting overlooked. 



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November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Merkel Says She Prefers New Elections Over Minority Government

This article by Birgit Jennen and Rainer Buergin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would prefer to go ahead with new federal elections rather than try to form a minority government, as Europe’s most powerful leader weighs her options after the collapse of four-party coalition talks late Sunday.

Seeking her fourth term, Merkel is “skeptical” about a minority government as it may not bring about necessary stability and is open to another so-called grand coalition with the Social Democratic party, she said in an interview with ARD television. In the absence of an agreement to secure a majority in Germany’s Bundestag, “I’m certain that new elections are the better way,” she said.

Disputes among parties over migration and other issues led the Free Democrats to walk out of the talks. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the country’s political parties to return to the negotiating table, saying “those who seek political responsibility in elections must not be allowed to shy away from it when they hold it in their hands.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Small parties face difficult choices when they enter government. If they are to ever have a chance of achieving the change they seek, they have no choice but to enter a coalition. However, they seldom get everything they wanted and are often seen by their voters as sellouts when they fail to achieve lofty goals. Therefore, the fate of small parties is often to taste power but to have their support evaporate at the following election. That is as true of the Liberal Democrats in the UK as it is of many small parities in the Eurozone. 



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November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Goldman Sachs Sees Four 2018 Fed Rate Hikes as U.S. Growth Gains

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

The U.S. jobless rate, which was 4.1 percent in October, may reach 3.5 percent in late 2019, Goldman predicted. That would be the lowest level since the late-1960s.

“Our projections would imply an evolution over the current cycle from the weakest labor market in postwar U.S. history to one of the tightest,” the economists said in a summary of their report. “We expect that a tight labor market and a more normal inflation picture will lead the Fed to deliver four hikes next year.”

That’s one more rate increase than the median forecast of Fed officials, and more than financial markets are currently pricing in. One of the reasons why Goldman Sachs economists said they disagree with market expectations is “we see little evidence that soft inflation is structural in nature.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The USA’s economic expansion might be modest by historical standards but it is still one of the longest in history. The prospect of adding a fiscal stimulus when growth is already mature and unemployment low is the epitome of procyclical policy and increases the likelihood that inflation will increase. 



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stronger enforcement, improving cashflow

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on the Chinese Environmental sector. Here is a section:

The sector’s valuation looks attractive at current levels compared with its own trading history and also with the index. The P/Es of most stocks are below/close to their average minus one standard deviation since 2015, in terms of both their own PE and also relative PE to MSCI China. We think that the sector’s current valuation offers decent safety margins to buy into most stocks.

China usually strengthens environmental enforcement during the last three years of Five-Year Plan periods as the country gets closer to assessment deadlines. We expect the same to take place from 2018, especially as the CPC's 19th National Congress recently mentioned that China plans to set up a "National Natural Resources and Ecology Administration" soon. We expect these factors to benefit this laggard sector, together with improving cashflow profile/earnings quality with selective companies over the next few years

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

By all accounts New Delhi’s pollution is quickly catching up with Beijing’s but China is further along on its development track that India. The thick soup of smog that clings to Northern China during the winter is a political liability as the middle class evolves and demands better conditions. The closing down of inefficient production facilities and fabricators is driven both by a desire to cut back on overcapacity and to tackle nonperforming loans. Improving the environment at the same time is a bonus.



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russell Napier: Debt Deflation Worries Are Starting to Rise Again

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Financial Sense which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section on the Velocity of Money: 

Though there is an overall tendency for velocity of money to fall over time, Napier noted, the accelerated decline we’ve seen in recent years is due to the nature of the money that is being created. This money primarily takes the form of bank reserves, which are not inherently fungible and are now stuck in the banking system.

Banks have chosen not to increase the size of their balance sheets and create deposits, which is the money that circulates in the actual economy, as opposed to the asset economy. This is why Napier thinks the velocity of money has fallen.
“There’s a form of money there that is stuck in the ‘asset ghetto,’ if you like, and not yet spreading out to normal GDP,” he said.

This plays in part into the assumption most people make that the world is awash in money. While there is a lot of money in the asset markets, the reality is that M2 growth in the United States is 5 percent, which is one of the lowest levels recorded in the past 30 years, Napier noted. Apart from the 2008 to 2009 crisis, we’re back to very low levels of total money creation.
This is true of other countries, as well. China is close to a new record low in the growth of its money supply. India is also showing levels of growth in its money supply not seen since 1963.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Velocity of M2 is at a record low based on the last update of September 30th. If Russell Napier’s contention the Index has plumbed new depths since 2010 because of stranded reserves at banks then the reduction of the Fed’s balance sheet could have a positive effect by pushing responsibility for credit creation onto the banking sector.  



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Surprising Airbnb Adoption Slowdown in US/EU, and What It Means for Hotels and OTAs

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

Two Reasons Adoption Is Slowing... First, the benefits of growing awareness among online consumers in the US/Europe are slowing/topping out, as Airbnb awareness among our survey respondents increased by only 800bps to 80% in '17 (vs. a 2,000bps increase in '16). We see awareness as a smaller driver going forward. Second privacy/safety are material and growing barriers to adoption, as the percent of non Airbnb users citing these factors to not use it increased by ~700bps/400bps, and the absolute number of people concerned about these issues increased by 10%/25% Y/Y. This, in our view, could speak to two potential truths: 1) How Airbnb/sharing lodging could be more niche than previously expected, and 2) How the lobbyists/opponents of Airbnb may be gaining traction.

...Causing Us to Lower Our Airbnb Forecast...This slowing adoption causes us to reduce our forward user/room night forecast for the US/Europe, now expecting ~12% '16-'20 room night growth, vs 29% previously. We now model Airbnb to grow to 6% of lodging demand across US/Europe by '20, vs. 9% previously.

...Making Us Incrementally More Bullish on the Lodging Space... While surveyed hotel cannibalization inched up slightly to 51% from 49% (and expected to be 54% in '18), a slowing user adoption curve suggests Airbnb is less of a threat to hotels. We estimate that Airbnb had a 50bps impact to '17 RevPAR growth across US/Europe, down from our prior estimate of 90bps. We now forecast it will have another 50bps impact on '18 RevPAR growth, down from our prior 80bps impact. As such, we expect US RevPAR to be relatively stable at +2.3% and +1.6% growth in '18 and '19, respectively.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The travel sector is likely to get a boost from the expansion in the number of airlines, signalled by impressive sales at the Dubai Air Show. That should be positive for hotels and particularly so if AirBnb’s penetration is peaking. Personally my experience with AirBnb has been mixed and I suspect many people have had similar experiences. 



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

House Passes Tax Bill in First Step Toward Historic Overhaul

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

The Senate plan also departs from the House bill by delaying the corporate tax-rate cut by one year. And it includes a proposal to repeal a key provision of the Obamacare law -- saving the government $318 billion over 10 years to help pay for the tax cuts, but leaving 13 million Americans uninsured by 2027, according to official estimates.

Many of the Senate provisions are designed to cut the bill’s cost and meet budget rules that will allow GOP leaders to pass a bill with only Republican votes. Differences between the House and Senate legislation will have to be worked out between the chambers -- and then both the House and Senate will have to approve the final result.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said he’s going to focus on preparing for a conference committee with the Senate. He added that lawmakers were working to improve provisions related to international taxation, address specific industries’ concerns and try to work with lawmakers from high- tax states.

“This is certainly not the last step in our tax reform journey,” Brady said after the vote. But he pledged lawmakers will “make this better every step of the way.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Optimism about the prospect of tax cuts has been flagging over the last 10 days so today’s vote was greeted with enthusiasm by markets with the major Wall Street indices all finishing in positive territory and the VIX index pulling back from the 14 area. 



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's Biggest Wealth Fund Wants Out of Oil and Gas

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

 

Norway, which relies on oil and gas for about a fifth of economic output, would be less vulnerable to declining crude prices without its fund investing in the industry, the central bank said Thursday. The divestment would mark the second major step in scrubbing the world’s biggest wealth fund of climate risk, after it sold most of its coal stocks.

“Our perspective here is to spread the risks for the state’s wealth,” Egil Matsen, the deputy central bank governor overseeing the fund, said in an interview in Oslo. “We can do that better by not adding oil-price risk.”

The plan would entail the fund, which controls about 1.5 percent of global stocks, dumping as much as $40 billion of shares in international giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The Finance Ministry said it will study the proposal and decide what to do in “fall of 2018” at the earliest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Norway’s proposal to diversify its exposure to the oil sector makes sense but the timing of the decision, ahead of the proposed Saudi Aramco IPO and after the successful sale of Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc retail gasoline stations’ business says more about the trauma of the crash lower from above $100 than the state of the sector at present. 



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November 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia used Twitter bots and trolls "to disrupt" Brexit vote

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

Most of the tweets seen by this newspaper encouraged people to vote for Brexit, an outcome which Russia would have regarded as destabilising for the European Union. A number were pro-Remain, however, suggesting that the Russian goal may have been simply to sow division. “This is the most significant evidence yet of interference by Russian-backed social media accounts around the Brexit referendum,” said Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the digital, culture, media and sport select committee. “The content published and promoted by these accounts is clearly designed to increase tensions throughout the country and undermine our democratic process. I fear that this may well be just the tip of the iceberg.”

On Monday Theresa May accused Moscow of using fake news to “sow discord” and of meddling directly in elections. President Trump has said that he believes Mr Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the American presidential race.

The Swansea and Berkeley paper says that a “massive number of Russian-related tweets was created a few days before the voting day, reached its peak during the voting and the result and then dropped immediately afterwards”. Tho Pham, one of the paper’s authors, said that “the main conclusion is that bots were used on purpose and had influence”.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia and China invest significant sums in attempting to influence Western public opinion whether it is to co-opt university professors, fund socialist/communist/reactionary/militant organisations, create so-called Confucius Institutes and more recently Twitter and Facebook posts. 



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 15th 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to today's video is posted in the Subscriber's Area.
 
Some of the topics discussed include: Wall Street continues to exhibit relative strength but consolidation is underway in stock and commodity markets generally. The dollar firmed somewhat and gold was unable to hold its earlier rally. Bitcoin rebounds in emphatic fashion. 



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

After The Long Rally: S&P 500 Outlook

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

The trajectory of the S&P 500 has been extremely closely tied to that of earnings during the course of this recovery and remains so. Following the ECB’s move to negative rates in mid-2014 and the subsequent dollar and oil shocks, earnings growth First slowed then turned negative and equities became range bound for a year and a half. In the context of the trend channel, the range bound S&P 500 moved from the top to the bottom of the trend channel, falling briefly below during the Q1 2016 growth scare and the trough in earnings. Following the Q1 2016 bottom in earnings, equity prices began to rise, briefly breaking their 1½ year range to reach a new peak in mid-2016; then paused as is typical in the run up to close Presidential elections before rebounding strongly after.

The trajectory of the S&P 500 year to date has continued to closely track that of earnings. Indeed the market rallied in the first half of the year only during earnings seasons which saw well above average beats and paused between reporting seasons. Trailing earnings were up 10% through Q3, held back in the quarter by the impact of the unusually severe hurricane season, while our estimate is for 12% growth through Q4.

The S&P 500 trailing multiple meanwhile fluctuated in a relatively narrow range of 3.5% until September before moving up by a modest 2%. The rise in the multiple in late September though is consistent with the market simply looking through the impact of the hurricanes on earnings, ex which they would have grown for a third quarter in the solid double digits.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

In the normal run of a trend we expect the consistency to improve as it progresses. The simple reason for this is that as buy and hold investors are vindicated in their resolve available supply decreases, meanwhile continued headlines about stellar persistent performance encourages more people in off the side-lines. The gap between supply and demand expands and the trend therefore becomes more consistent. 



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

On Target November 2017

Thanks to Martin Spring for this edition of his letter. Here is a section Japan:

“The MSCI Japan Index now trades on 15.1x 12-month forward earnings, or an 18 per cent discount to the MSCI USA Index’s 18.4x,” Wood reports. “It is also a major structural positive that earnings growth is increasingly coming from domestic-focused [rather than export-focused] corporates.” That means shares generally are less dependent on favourable moves in the yen-dollar exchange rate. 

The worsening labour shortage should lead sooner or later to accelerating wages, boosting consumption. 
“This dynamic has already been evident for some time in the case of temporary workers. But to the longstanding frustration of both the Abe government and the Bank of Japan, wage rises for permanent employees have remained minimal, primarily because the trade unions have been more concerned about keeping their employees “permanent”, since such permanent full-time staff, on average, still earn 1.8 [times] the hourly wage for part-time workers.”  

Companies have been keeping a tight grip on pay increases – one reason why listed firms are enjoying record profits and sitting on record amounts of cash, even allowing for the effect of increasing share buybacks. 

There is a long-term trend for Japanese companies to be more generous with their dividend payouts to shareholders. Back in 2004 the payout ratio (dividends as a proportion of earnings) for the Topix index was only 17 per cent. Now it’s up to 30 per cent.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Japan’s economy is recovering momentum and the uptick in performance by domestic companies has been readily observable in the performance of the Topix 2nd Section Index. This revolution has been enabled both by the Bank of Japan’s quantitative easing program and that government’s willingness to run simultaneous fiscal stimulus.



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold makes some recovery on fresh demand, global events

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

Globally, gold prices rose for a third day, helped by a weaker dollar and falling US bond yields ahead of inflation data later that could influence how quickly the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Palladium continues to outperform in the precious metals sector because of its relationship to the gasoline market and continued ambivalence towards diesel engines. However, gold, silver and platinum have been much quieter as they waited for a catalyst to reignite interest. Some consolidation on stock markets may be signalling a flip to risk-off trading which should be positive for a safe haven like gold. 



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

48th Year of The Chart Seminar

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chart Seminar 2017 

Our remaining venue for the 48th year of the seminar is:

London November 16th and 17th at The Caledonian Club

If you are interested or would like to suggest a venue please contact Sarah at [email protected] 

The full rate for The Chart Seminar is £1799 + VAT. (Please note US, Australian and Asian delegates, as non EU residents are not liable for VAT). Subscribers are offered a discounted rate of £850. Anyone booking more than one place can also avail of the £850 rate for the second and subsequent delegates.



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November 14 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 14 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government

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

Hughes is no basic income purist. He believes, for instance, that for this economic moonshot to be politically palatable, it would have to be tied to work. “Not just because it seems more intuitive for people,” he says, “but because work is a key source of purpose in our lives.” But the changing nature of work, particularly among top tech employers, is still a critical problem for the American workforce. One illuminating New York Times article illustrated how the men and women who scrub toilets and do other low-skilled work for companies like Apple are hired from contracting companies which set the terms of their employment. Those workers are cut off from the benefits and upward mobility that the company’s engineers and marketers enjoy. Because the workers are contractors, the big tech companies feel no pressure to raise their wages, and aren’t responsible for offering health-care coverage. In 2015, Facebook’s bus drivers voted to unionize in order to secure themselves the kind of worker protections that the social networking giant refused to provide.

Looked at in this light, the tech-led efforts to push a basic income can appear hypocritical. In a new economy that mints billionaires overnight, giving millions of dollars away for experimentation is the easy part. It’s taxpayers, after all, not individual tech companies, who would have to pay for a basic income should one ever come to pass.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I think I need to do some self-reflection because of the sense of anger I feel bubbling up whenever I hear the idea of Universal Basic Income being lionized in the media. It’s not healthy to have such a visceral reaction to the idea of giving everyone a stipend, especially when it is being proposed with increasing frequency. I read the opening of this article and almost stopped but it proved to be quite measured in its conclusions and time well spent. Let’s attempt to unpack the idea and what it represents. 



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November 14 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Breakfast with Dave November 13th 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by David Rosenberg for Gluskin Sheff. Here is a section:

Indeed. And what we’re referring to is the High Yield bond market which tends to lead equities. Junk bond spreads have widened out to a two-month high of 380 basis points. That is over a 40 basis point widening in barely more than two weeks (and the selling have been taking place on rising volume too…to nearly a two-year high in junk bond ETFs. 

As the weekend WSJ aptly pointed out, the bubble hit its peak a couple of months ago when “money losing” Tesla offered up an eight year $1.8 billion with a puny 5.3% yield – which was so oversubscribed in an income starved world that the issue was boosted by $300 million. We are talking about a B3 rated company here. And now in a classic signpost of late cycle behavior, these bonds are trading at 94 cents on the dollar (from par in August). 

For the first time in years, planned bond sales are being pulled. And we also are seeing some big redemptions - $2.5billion have withdrawn in the past month. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The rally from the 2009 lows was liquidity fueled as central banks flooded the market with new money and bought up bonds to depress yields. That allowed companies to refinance debt at highly accommodative rates and buy back shares with borrowed money. This trend suggests the equity market is uniquely sensitive to credit flows so high yields spreads are worth watching. 



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November 14 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nickel Plunges in Metals Selloff as Mood Turns Sour in Shanghai

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

Nickel slumped by the most in almost two months as a late-night selloff in Chinese metals spilled over to the London Metal Exchange.

Prices dropped as much as 5.9 percent to $11,755 a metric ton, the biggest drop since September. A slump that big has happened only a handful of times in the past five years.

Nickel bore the brunt of selling in metals, with volumes traded electronically surpassing aluminum, usually the LME’s most liquid contract. The slump came after data showing weaker Chinese industrial production and fixed-asset investment.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Stock markets have at least paused and outside of Wall Street are increasingly engaged in mean reversion. That evolving risk-off environment took its toll on commodities today with oil copper and nickel pulling back. 



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November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ubisoft's Microtransaction Revenue Just Beat Digital Sales for the First Time

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

Microtransactions have been hotly debated since they began debuting in mobile games almost ten years ago. While they’d been used sporadically in various games for years, the rise of mobile games and their extremely low-to-free pricing made them a functional necessity for developers working in Android or iOS. The AAA PC gaming industry quickly took notice of this, and began offering games with microtransaction options. There’s been a great deal of pushback from the community at various points (Dead Space 3 got hosed for it, as did Bethesda and its horse armor), but microtransactions are clearly here to say. Ubisoft just reported that it took in more money in microtransaction sales than it did in game sales for the first time ever.

Over the past few years, Ubisoft has seen a notable shift in its earnings for various titles, SeekingAlpha reports. Game sales were buoyed this year by South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but microtransactions shot up even further, growing 1.83x in 12 months compared to 1.57x for game sales. Ubisoft also got a boost from the Switch, but even with Nintendo’s new platform, microtransactions brought home the bacon.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Once upon a time you bought a computer game and it included everything you would ever need to play that game. I started playing Diablo 2 as a teenager and the game is still available online with access to the Battlenet server, so players can join and play with or against others. It’s still free after more than 20 years. The updated version of the game, Diablo 3, has downloadable content (DLC as my daughters refer to it), and additional characters you can pay for. Overwatch, Activision Blizzard’s newest hit game releases animated shorts to build interest in characters, has built in loot boxes for extra gear and additional outfits for your favourite characters all of which represent additional revenue streams. 



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November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

From Lost Decade to Golden Years: Euro-Area Economy Picks Up

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

In a report on Monday, the International Monetary Fund said growth across the European region -- which includes the euro area as well as developing economies in central and eastern Europe -- is having a positive spillover effect on the rest of the world. It also said those brighter prospects accounted for the bulk of the upward revision to its global outlook in October.

For the euro area, economists surveyed by Bloomberg have raised their growth forecasts eight times this year. Data due Tuesday is predicted to show the region gained more momentum in the third quarter by expanding 0.6 percent, faster than the long-term trend, according to Bloomberg Economics.

“More than four years into the current expansion, most indicators signal the euro-zone economy is still somewhere around mid-cycle,” Talavera said. “Absent an unexpected shock, we should see several more years of economic growth.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has bought €2.373 trillion of government and corporate bonds since late 2014 and is only now beginning to talk about tapering. Government bond yields are at rock bottom levels and German yields are still negative out to 7-year maturities. The Euro collapsed as the introduction of QE was priced-in and even after an impressive breakout this year, it is still only a fraction of where it traded before 2014. 



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November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Theresa May's Tories Are Engaged in Open Warfare

This article by Flavia Krause-Jackson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“In every negotiation, each side tries to control the timetable,” Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Sunday. “The real deadline on this, of course, is December.” That’s when EU leaders will meet to decide whether the U.K. has made sufficient progress to move on to the next stage of talks. The EU wants May to improve her offer on the divorce bill by the end of the month.

The twists and turns of the Brexit legislation only serve to magnify May’s difficulties and provide an opportunity for her political enemies to make trouble for her -- not just those in her own party.

The main opposition is seeking a route to power with polls showing Labour ahead. Exploiting Tory divisions on Brexit and testing May’s slim working majority is one way for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to score political points.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The UK knows it has one big card to play which is its contribution to the EU’s coffers. The EU knows the UK needs a trade deal so it has every intention of squeezing as many concessions as possible from the UK. There was never a prospect that these negotiations would not come down to the wire because it is in neither party’s interests to concede early.



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November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudi Arabia Is Putinizing, Not Modernizing

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

There's a strong temptation for Western commentators, especially U.S. ones, to portray MbS as a reformist trying to bring the House of Saud into the modern world and Putin as a retrograde dictator taking Russia into the past. But the only reason this temptation to differentiate exists is that Saudi Arabia is a traditional U.S. ally, and the enemy of an old enemy -- Iran. In reality, there are far more similarities than differences between the world's two most important oil dictatorships. Their interests align on their most important market. Together, they've talked up oil prices to a level that allows them to maintain spending on defense and mega-projects. Their geopolitical interests don't align today, but that won't stand in the way of their natural mutual attraction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Absolutism, dictatorship and monarchy do indeed share many similar characteristics. The natural recourse for someone seeking to solidify a potentially tenuous grip on power is to pump up historic grievances, towards a domestic or foreign enemy, and to pursue a bread and circuses domestic policy which boosts morale if not necessarily living standards. In that context Russia and Saudi Arabia are quite similar. 



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November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Therapeutic Categories Outlook: Comprehensive Study

Thanks to a subscriber for this encyclopedic 2534-page (95.7mb) report focusing on evolving trends in the biotech sector. This is a very detailed report which I recommend downloading and saving because I anticipate it being a reference guide for me over the next year and possibly longer. Here is a section on pain medication: 

There are so many lawsuits against opioid manufacturers that it is hard to keep track of all of them. These suits stem from all levels of government (cities, counties, states), as well as private parties and organizations (e.g. NFL). Opioid manufacturers today are viewed similarly in public opinion to cigarette manufacturers in the 1990s. 

In October 2015 for the first time a doctor was convicted of murder for patient opioid overdose and was sentenced to 30 years. Other similar suits are in progress.

Insys’s Subsys (sublingual fentanyl spray) began to decline after experiencing strong sales growth over the first few years since launch. In December 2016 several senior executives were indicted over fraudulent sales practice.

The FDA has already approved one immediate release and nine extended-release opioids with abuse deterrent claims; with more likely on the horizon. As such, the field is becoming very competitive.

Market leader OxyContin has been in decline for the last two years, from ~450k scripts/month to ~260k scripts/month currently.

Newly launched abuse deterrent opioids are priced at 2-4x that of OxyContin before adjusting for discounting.
In a July 2017 report, ICER found abuse deterrent opioids to not be cost effective.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The USA’s opium epidemic has received a lot headlines, not least because on a per capita basis the USA consumes three time more opiates than Europe and six times more than Asia. This is not an issue specific to opiates but to prescription drugs in general. I remember arguing with pharmacists in Ireland about needing to buy 12 ibuprofen tablets instead of 6, whereas in the USA they are truly an over the counter drug and packages of 1000 are the norm. 



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November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Foreign Banks Invited to End of the Credit Party

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

In the 2000s, China invited foreign banks into the domestic market, as it tried to manage down a legacy of bad loans. HSBC bought a share of Bank of Communications, Royal Bank of Scotland took a minority stake in Bank of China and Bank of America purchased a piece of China Construction Bank – helping them on their way to listing. Fast forward to 2017 and the bang is bigger. Based on an announcement Friday, limits on foreign ownership of Chinese banks and asset managers will be removed, and foreign firms will be able to take a 51% stake in securities and life insurance firms. But the aim is the same – helping clean up a financial mess, and prevent it from happening again.

Bloomberg Economics had flagged financial market opening as one of the possible deliverables from this week’s U.S. - China summit. Recognizing that the devil will be in the as-yet-unknown details, here’s our take on the implications:

There’s potential for a grand bargain here. China’s financial system will receive an influx of foreign capital and expertise.

That will help deal with the aftermath of a credit binge that has seen debt swell to 259% of GDP, and engineer efficiency gains that may help prevent a repeat occurrence. After paying the price of entry, foreign firms will get a piece of the Chinese market – the second largest and fastest growing in the world.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has taken on a great deal of debt over the last couple of decades as the pace of infrastructure development has beaten all records. Quite what to do with it is a big question and there are three answers. However, perhaps the biggest takeaway is that the administration is taking substantive measures to tackle the problem.  



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November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Falls as Cancellation of Upgrade Prompts Misgivings

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

While bitcoin soared to a record $7,882 within minutes of news that it would avoid another split on Wednesday, the gains have evaporated. Bitcoin is now trading more than $1,000 below where it was after a faction of the community scrapped plans for a so-called hard fork. Bitcoin was down 8 percent to $6,575 at 2:19 p.m. in New York.

Some speculators are disappointed they won’t get the additional coins that would have been created by a hard fork. While bitcoin splits are potentially disruptive, they’ve so far amounted to free money for holders of the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin Cash, the result of a hard fork in August, has climbed to about $900 from as low as $565 on the day the split was canceled, while bitcoin has slipped almost 10 percent after touching a record right after the news.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin is still a largely unleveraged market so when exchanges eventually begin to offer futures and options that is likely to be a powerful catalyst for speculative interest. Right now, the cancelation of the latest fork means present holders will not receive an equal number of new coins so there is less urgency to buy. 



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November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

America's "Retail Apocalypse" Is Really Just Beginning

This article by Matt Townsend, Jenny Surane, Emma Orr and Christopher Cannon for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Until this year, struggling retailers have largely been able to avoid bankruptcy by refinancing to buy more time. But the market has shifted, with the negative view on retail pushing investors to reconsider lending to them. Toys “R” Us Inc. served as an early sign of what might lie ahead. It surprised investors in September by filing for bankruptcy—the third-largest retail bankruptcy in U.S. history—after struggling to refinance just $400 million of its $5 billion in debt. And its results were mostly stable, with profitability increasing amid a small drop in sales.

Making matters more difficult is the explosive amount of risky debt owed by retail coming due over the next five years. Several companies are like teen-jewelry chain Claire’s Stores Inc., a 2007 leveraged buyout owned by private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, which has $2 billion in borrowings starting to mature in 2019 and still has 1,600 stores in North America.

Just $100 million of high-yield retail borrowings were set to mature this year, but that will increase to $1.9 billion in 2018, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. And from 2019 to 2025, it will balloon to an annual average of almost $5 billion. The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s. The surge in demand for refinancing is also likely to come just as credit markets tighten and become much less accommodating to distressed borrowers.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of Warren Buffett’s most colourful adages is “you don’t know who has been swimming naked till the tide goes out” A great many companies have survived with high debt loads because liquidity was abundant, interest rates were at rock bottom levels and access to credit was easy. Until recently, refinancing has been easy which allowed companies to pile on additional debt. An obvious point is that highly leveraged companies are heavily exposed to refinancing issues as interest rates rise. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 9th 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to today's video is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Some of the topics discussed include: Volatility does not hold its intraday peak in Japan or Wall Street, continued evidence of quantitative and risk parity strategies. bond volatility pauses in its decline, oil continues to hold the move above $60.



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volatility Spikes as VIX Tops 2017 Average Amid Tax Uncertainty

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

Volatility roared back into the U.S. equity market as fresh concern about the prospects for tax reform sent the Cboe VIX Index to its biggest surge since August.

“In terms of how we see the world and the impact to our strategy, to the extent this reform causes some uncertainty, that could lead to a pickup in volatility,” said David Jilek, chief investment strategist for Gateway Investment Advisers. “But we don’t have any keen insights as to how the politics is going to play out.”

In a year that’s been characterized by record calm, Thursday’s two-point intraday jump in the VIX was enough to push it above the average level for 2017. The gauge, which uses options-trading data to measure implied volatility of S&P 500 stocks, still sits below the bull-market average of 18.3.

Major U.S. equity benchmarks slid from record levels, with losses widening after the Senate revealed that its tax plan would delay lowering the corporate rate until 2019.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wall Street has been rallying on speculation the Trump tax cuts would benefit corporations and boost consumer sentiment. News yesterday that the Senate proposal would defer tax cuts until 2019 was not greeted with optimism and introduced doubt about exactly what, if anything, will eventually get passed. 

 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rio Tinto joins race for stake in world's largest lithium miner

Rio Tinto joins race for stake in world’s largest lithium miner – This article by Cecilia Jamasmie for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

 

El Mostrador suggested Tinto Rio had already made a bid, potentially trumping Chinese companies Sinochem, Tianqi and GSR Capital, all of which had also expressed interest in SQM.

The news came on the heels of PotashCorp and Agrium announcing Tuesday that China’s ministry of commerce had approved the merger, but required the sale of PotashCorp’s minority holdings in Arab Potash Company and SQM within 18 months of closing, and Israel Chemicals Ltd. within nine months.

SQM, which has a market value at just over $15 billion, produced roughly 44 million tonnes of lithium carbonate last year and is developing new projects in Chile and Australia.

Rio's current incursion in the lithium market is mostly limited to its 100%-owned lithium and borates mineral project in Jadar, Serbia, which is still in the early stages of development.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rio Tinto generates 68% of its revenue from iron-ore and aluminium. Diamonds and minerals, copper and energy make up the balance of its operations in that order. Despite enthusiasm about lithium SQM generate about 26.5% of its revenue from the metal, with plant nutrition (32.2%) and potassium (20.8%) also representing major businesses for the company. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on feudalism in the modern era

I was thinking back to our dinner at the club in LA, and remembering that you stated that the Princes of the Sauds owed allegiance to their King, comparing them to the Barons of Europe in the middle ages. You said that sooner or later, the finances of the Kingdom would have to be enhanced, and that the Princes would be called upon to do so, just as the Barons of long ago were required to collect taxes and give treasure to the Crown. The parallels between today in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and those days so long ago are amazing!

We have now seen the first round of the tax collection begin, and those who were arrested were quite likely opposing the new "taxes", if not plotting actual rebellion (in which case they will almost certainly be executed). There is a clear message here for the rest of the Princes...

Now this is the stuff that historians truly love. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Saudi Arabia has been held together by a series of transfers and concessions to families and tribes that agreed to set aside their enmity in return for a share in the nation’s oil wealth. That worked well as long as the population was small and oil revenues trended higher amid a century of oil’s dominance of the global economy. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Britain risks a nuclear dead end by spurning global technology leap

Thanks to a David for this article from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph. Here is a section: 

A few million will be put aside for ‘blue sky’ research but the real money will go to a consortium led by Rolls-Royce to develop a series of 440 megawatt SMRs for £2.5bn each, drawing on Rolls’ experience building PWR3 reactors for nuclear submarines. The company bills it as part of a “national endeavour’ that will create 40,000 skilled jobs. It requires matching start-up funds of £500m from the state. 

I find myself torn since these ambitions are commendable. They revive a homegrown British sector, akin to the success in aerospace. It is exactly what Theresa May’s industrial strategy should be. Rolls-Royce is a superb company with layers of depth and a global brand. It could genuinely hope to capture an export bonanza.  

Yet the venture looks all too like a scaled-down version of Sizewell, plagued by the same defects as the old reactors, less flexible than advertised, and likely to spew yet more plutonium waste.  

Rolls Royce insists that the design is novel and can slash costs by relying on components small enough to be manufactured in factories. “Everything can be cut down to size and put on a lorry,” said a spokesman.  

Rolls-Royce has said the design can slash costs by relying on components small enough to be manufactured in factories It aims for £65 MWh by the fifth plant, dropping to £60 once the scale is ramped up to seven gigawatts (GW), with exports targeting a putative £400bn global market.  

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A decade ago the UK went from being an oil and gas exporter to an importer, as the North Sea oil fields hit peak production, and the cost of production began to rise. That represents a considerable headwind to growth from a sector which had been a tailwind for decades previously. When people bemoan declining living standards and the rising cost of living, one of the first places to look has to be the energy sector and absence of a clear strategy to promote energy independence. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 8th 2017

November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iron Ore Imports Collapse as China's Great Cleanup Kicks In

This article by Jasmine Ng and David Stringer for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Purchases dropped to 79.49 million tons in October, according to customs data on Wednesday. That’s down from September’s 102.8 million tons, and is the lowest amount since February 2016. Over the first 10 months, imports by the world’s top buyer still expanded 6.3 percent to 896 million tons.

Iron ore users and investors have been tracking China’s bid to rein in pollution this winter by imposing restrictions on mills’ production, in addition to curbs on other industrial activity. The drive has buttressed prices of higher-quality ores that are more efficient, while spurring speculation about a demand roller-coaster, with weaker consumption seen near term before a possible snapback in spring. At the same time, miners in Brazil and Australia have added supply.

The decline in China’s iron imports was the standout item amid a broader weakening of purchases, Daniel Hynes, a senior commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said in a note. “The closures of steel mills due to environmental concerns were behind the fall,” he said. Demand for raw materials imports is likely to rebound, according to the bank.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s pollution problem is a political liability. That fact highlights the evolution of a middle class, but it also reflects the transition underway as the consumer takes over as the engine for growth. China is gradually moving away from highly polluting industries while at the same time focusing on continued urbanisation and more value-added products. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Venezuela Will Seek to Restructure Debt, Blaming Sanctions

This article by Katia Porzecanski, Patricia Laya, Ben Bartenstein, and Christine Jenkins for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Prices on PDVSA’s $3 billion of bonds maturing in 2027 were quoted at 20 cents on the dollar at 9:23 a.m. in London, according to pricing source CBBT. Venezuelan government bonds maturing in 2018 slid 16 cents on the dollar to 63 cents, while longer-maturity debt was little changed.

Even after the oil producer known as PDVSA made an $842 million principal payment Oct. 27, the nation is behind on about $800 million of interest payments. All told, there’s $143 billion in foreign debt owed by the government and state entities, with about $52 billion in bonds, according to Torino Capital.

Sanctions imposed in August by the U.S. have made it difficult to raise money from international investors, and effectively prohibit refinancing or restructuring existing debt, because they block U.S.-regulated institutions from buying new bonds. It’s an unprecedented situation for bondholders, who have limited recourse as long as sanctions are in effect.

“I decree a refinancing and restructuring of external debt and all Venezuelan payments,” Maduro said. “We’re going to a complete reformatting. To find an equilibrium, and to cover the necessities of the country, the investments of the country.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

$60 is a big level for many higher cost private sector oil producers. It’s a number many companies have quoted as they struggled with cutting costs while prices traded below economic levels. Their fortunes are improving now that prices are at two-year highs. Venezuela’s breakeven is well above current levels so the recent rally is less of a salve, while bond payments are a constant drain on revenues. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ride is not over after Uber catalyst

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on ride sharing investments. It’s dated July 14th, but the points made are equally relevant today. Here is a section:

Specific financial disclosures around the new JV are limited, but management did note that NewCo will 1) be able to enter new markets outside of the current six country region, 2) the new entity has a current gross bookings run rate of $1.578B and a 5-6% penetration rate of the taxi market across the six markets and 3) that UberEATS and other logistical opportunities will be a part of this new operation. Assuming no unforeseen regulatory hang-ups, management anticipates they will have regulatory approval for the deal in 4Q17 and commence operations as planned shortly thereafter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Ride sharing is one of the largest emerging new sectors but has so far been difficult for regular investors to participate in. Low interest rates, abundant liquidity and a dearth of yield have resulted in private companies managing to stay private much longer than anyone would have expected a decade ago. The result is that when they do eventually seek a listing what is being sold to investors is a much more mature company with less potential upside from growth. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interesting charts November 8th 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

Palladium rallied successfully through $1000 today for the first time since 2001. The last time it traded at this level was following a massive rally spurred by a supply shortage. On this occasion the move might be somewhat overbought relative to the trend mean but is looks better supported. A break in the progression of higher reaction lows, currently near $950, would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Good Morning November 8th 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Anthony Peters missive which today discussed Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty”. Here is a section:

Looking at the world around us this morning and the events from Catalonia to Riyadh, from Brexit to quantitative easing, from blockchain to the Paradise Papers many of the issues which are at the centre of the respective debates and actions can and should be held up, looked at and then filtered through the Berlin’s weighing up of positive and negative liberty. In his paper Berlin distilled the essence of socio-political dialectic around the thesis and antithesis of freedom to and freedom from. 

It might be ironical that I am chewing over Berlin’s seminal paper on the somewhat forgotten, especially in Moscow, 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. I was born less than 40 years after the Bolshevik take-over of Russia and the creation of the Soviet Union and I grew up very much in the shadow of the daily threat of nuclear conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, themselves some form of incarnation of freedom to and freedom from. I mentioned in a recent column a comment which had come out of Poland which, with the UK leaving the EU, becomes the next truculent child. The line had been that Warsaw had not fought to free itself from the diktat of Moscow only to find itself subject to equally stringent controls out of Brussels.

On September 11th 1990 – eleven years to the day before the attack on the Twin Towers, now known simply as 9/11 – President George Bush Sr gave a speech titled “Towards the new World Order” in which he embraced the polices of Mikhail Gorbachev and the dismantling of the Soviet empire. The dreams of democracy and self-determination for which NATO had stood and which were being pursued by way of the opening of borders across Europe though the structures of the EEC were in the ascendant. Twenty seven years later with the EEC having been replaced by the EU, with membership of 12 having been expanded to 28 and with the first ever member in the process of leaving again, the union looks ossified and in many respects now looks and behaves more like Soviet Moscow than it does like the old EEC. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

When I talk to people I meet in London and around the UK they seem to have a clear vision for what they want for the country. Self-determination, respect for property rights, acceptance that the nation was built on global trade and a desire for a more equitable society all feature highly. So, does the concern that the financial sector accounts for a substantial proportion of the economy and needs to be protected. 



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November 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 7th 2017

November 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From The Oil Patch November 7th 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ everinteresting report for PPHB which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

The euphoria that greeted the production cut agreement announcement lifted oil prices above $50 a barrel, a critical threshold for market confidence.  As global oil inventories failed to drop as the market expected, investors turned on the commodity as well as energy stocks, sending their prices lower.  Since the oil price drop in early 2007, prices have largely traded between the low $40s a barrel to now above $54, with a brief excursion as low as $26.  The narrow price range reflected global oil inventories remaining relatively flat, until recently.  As oil inventories started falling a few weeks ago, we are now in a period favorable for higher prices.  

Today, we are firmly planted in an oil market reflecting positive price momentum.  Better projected oil demand growth seemed to be the initial factor that helped lift the oil market.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) upped its demand growth estimates for the second half of 2017.  About the same time, U.S. shale producers began shedding oil drilling rigs in response to weakening oil prices and as they sensed a need to rebuild investor confidence in their financial health.  Producers had to dispel the image of exploration and production (E&P) companies as destroyers of capital, a label the industry’s record seemed to warrant.  Disciplined capital spending, meaning living within a company’s cash flow in order to not have to borrow money or sell more equity to fund the overspending, appears to be the new mantra for E&P companies.  The latest survey of E&P company spending plans versus cash flow demonstrates that overspending remains high.  This may signal that it will take time for companies to generate positive cash flow.  

In recent weeks, as Brent oil prices have risen at a faster rate than WTI oil, the forward oil price curve moved into backwardation, meaning that barrels of oil able to be delivered immediately are worth more than if they are stored and delivered in the future.  This price disparity is further impacted by the cost of storing the oil.  Backwardation encourages holders of oil in storage to begin selling those barrels, which has accelerated the shrinking of global oil inventories.   

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



Comparing these two futures curves for Brent Crude oil and West Texas Intermediate we see that the backwardation is most acute in Brent while West Texas Intermediate is in contango over the first four contracts. That highlights the continued incentive domestic US suppliers have, to pump and export into the global market; picking up a more than $5 spread in the process. 



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November 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Switzer Report

Thanks to a subscriber for this report concentrating on the Australian market. Here is a section on retail:

Longer term, the fortress shopping malls are fabulous assets. A prime shopping centre, such as Chadstone in Melbourne, or Westfield Bondi Junction, is impossible to replicate at the location. As they attract more service outlets, such as fancier restaurants, consumers are visiting the mall as much for entertainment as to buy basic products.

In time, newer fortress shopping centres will offer upmarket housing accommodation and hotels, as integrated property developments. Westfield is embracing this trend offshore.

The changing retail mix at fortress malls will lead to a higher average spend per customer, per visit, in the next five years. More people will eat breakfast at the mall when they shop early; or dinner when they go to a movie there. We’ll buy more goods and services at fortress malls and fewer at strip shopping malls and sub-regional (or second-tier) malls.
It’s no surprise that Westfield is rationalising its US, UK and European portfolio away from second-tier assets to fortress centres. The shopping-centre giant wants to own the world’s premium shopping-centre portfolio and is investing billions to get there.

Westfield is a story of short-term pain for long-term gain. Its shopping-centre redevelopment will drag on earnings as rents are foregone during construction. But the medium-term effect should be faster growth in Westfield’s net tangible assets and a rising share price.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Westfield is not the best reflection of the Australian market because so much of its revenue is concentrated in the US and UK, where it has successfully developed experiential shopping focusing on restaurants and gyms etc. With Amazon now opening in Australia, albeit with only a single warehouse right now, Australia’s relatively high cost retail market will likely face increasing competition which is good for consumers. 



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November 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Don't let the EU dictate Brexit if you want a speedy US trade deal, Trump adviser warns UK

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

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, Mr Ross said his trip to the UK allowed him to “address with the UK some concerns we have that they may be tempted to include (provisions) in their agreement with the European Commission (EC) that could be problems for a subsequent FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the US".

While he struck a friendly tone, he also issued a veiled warning that talks with Washington could go off the rails if Theresa May, the Prime Minister, aligned too closely with Brussels in designing the post-Brexit settlement.

It is a reminder that Britain risks having to pick sides between two trade superpowers with starkly different demands.
Mr Ross accused Brussels of imposing higher tariffs than the US across the “vast majority” of traded goods – including a 10 per cent charge on cars, compared to America’s 2.5 per cent – and trying to enforce its regulatory codes on third countries rather than allowing an open global system.

“While the EU talks a lot of free-trade rhetoric, it is really quite protectionist,” he said.

He vowed to avoid “tit-for-tat” bargaining when it came to negotiating a trade deal with Britain but left no doubt that there would be trouble if the UK signed up to core elements of EU ideology deemed most aggravating in Washington, not least the EU curbs on chlorinated chickens and – far more important – genetically modified foods.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The UK is busy employing thousands of bureaucrats to beef up the nation’s ability to handle its own enforcement of regulations and negotiations for trade, defence, fisheries, agriculture, finance, services etc. Considering the ambitions of the administration for new trade deals following the UK’s exit from the EU they are going to have a busy time. It has been our view at this service for over a year that negotiating trade deals does not need to take a decade as suggested by naysayers. However, a shortened timeline does require an energetic attitude on both sides of the table to reach agreement. 



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November 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Melbourne Cup: Quant Style Going Max Active

Thanks to a subscriber for this report which arrived a day too late for me to post before the “race that stops a country”. Here’s to next year. This section may be of interest:

As the Melbourne Cup rolls around again for 2017, we turn our attention back to that most worthy and intellectually satisfying of pursuits: Figuring out how to take a good punt at the races. Despite the lacklustre performance of the Macquarie Quant Halpha Model at the 2016 Melbourne Cup, we believe that fundamental approach behind the model – to pick undervalued horses rather than those with the greatest absolute probability of winning – remains the rational objective for the fiscally minded punter. Our model does this by identifying factors that other punters systematically overvalue. 

For example, punters tend to over-value the form of a horse. Hence, while horses with good form are indeed more likely to win, the odds offered on these are typically too short to justify them as a systematically profitable bet. As with our standard Macquarie Quant Alpha Model, the Halpha model is designed to statistically capture inherent biases in the preferences of other market participants. These biases skew both betting odds and stock prices away from fair valuation. Quantitative models such as the Quant Halpha Model (and our regular Alpha Model) then takes advantage of these inefficiencies by betting (or trading) against the direction of the skew.

In order to improve the confidence and robustness of the Halpha model, this year, we have a (not-so-secret) secret weapon: More data. Thanks to Luke Byrne and Jared Pohl, the fine folks behind Kaggle’s Horses for Courses dataset, we have been provided access to data for an additional 3,700 horse races from 2017 to complement the existing dataset of 3,400 races from 2016. The expanded data sample both allows a larger training set to construct the Halpha model, and enables us to partition out-of-sample validation and test sets.

While inventing strategies for horse-racing betting markets is mostly just for a bit of fun, the quantitative processes we apply here (i.e. identifying the forecast parameters and detecting pricing inefficiencies) largely reflect those used to address more sophisticated cash equity markets. In comparison to the latter, betting markets provide a cleaner prediction environment based on behavioural biases with less interference from macroeconomic cycles and idiosyncratic news-flow. As such, the Halpha model provides a useful didactic tool for exploring underlying concepts behind quantitative equities models.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I have fond memories of the Melbourne Cup from my time living downunder in 1999/2000 and thought this report would offer a retrospective look at might have worked and how to plan for next year’s speculation. Max Dynamite placing in today’s race will have proved at least a particular comfort for the Macquarie team’s buy low strategy. 



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November 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 6th 2017

November 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A resignation, detentions and missiles: 24 hours that shook the Middle East

This article by Tamara Qiblawi for CNN may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Saudi Arabia was still putting out the fires caused by the missile attack when state TV announced the onset of an anti-corruption crackdown led by the crown prince. Over 17 princes and top officials were arrested on graft charges, according to a list obtained by CNN and cited by a senior royal court official.

The list includes billionaire business magnate Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which holds stakes in global companies such as Citigroup, Twitter, Apple and News Corp.

The list also includes formal head of the royal court Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi media mogul Waleed Al-Ibrahim and Prince Turki Bin Nasser.

"Some of the wealthiest figures in the Arab world are in apprehension today," said military analyst Riad Kahwaji.
"This is unprecedented. We're seeing it for the first time and it's definitely causing shockwaves across the region."

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

On October 19th 2015 I wrote this: 

To think of Saudi Arabia as having to go to the market for money is a misrepresentation of just how much capital the kingdom has. Let’s think of the country more as a feudal kingdom than the democracies we are accustomed to. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the various princes who have accumulated impressive wealth based on the largesse of the crown could be called upon to supply the state with arms, capital or soldiers in just the same way that dukes and earls would have done in feudal Europe.

 



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November 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How To Diversify Your Portfolio and Transfer Wealth Across Generations Without Financial Advisory

Thanks to Bernard Tan for this note which offers an interesting perspective on why truly global companies, that dominate their respective niches, with long track records, tend to outperform over time. Here is a section:

I’m going to use 3M to illustrate the following points. 

1. Equities as an asset class is often perceived as riskier than others but there is one sector within equities that I will argue is safer than everything else including fixed income and real estate. 

2. If you invest in a world class, global scale company that is from this sector, you are already fully diversified, hedged and all the macro economic issues and challenges taken care of. 

3. This sector is resilient in the face of even a global financial crisis because frequently, these companies do not have high financial leverage. (Caveat: In recent years, it has become less true in the US and Europe) 

What is 3M really? It is a deep physics, chemistry and material science company. Everything they do is about manipulating the atoms and molecules of nature to create functional materials that we can use in our daily lives.  

With each passing year, 3M piles on more patents, a bigger library of chemicals and processes, more knowhow. All this knowledge is cumulative. The company is now 115 years old. All that accumulated intellectual property is practically unassailable. There will never be another company like 3M anywhere else in the world. Certain segments of their business can be separately attacked but there will never be another company that can challenge 3M on most fronts simultaneously.  

This is the nature of science and intellectual property. The strength is cumulative over time. In contrast, for real estate companies and banks, big or small has no bearing on vulnerability to debt crisis storms, as we all learnt in 2008. The underlying strength is not cumulative over time, not the way it is for a science and intellectual property company.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full note is posted in the Subcsriber's Area.

When I click through the constituents of the Autonomies section of the Chart Library 3M always comes out first because they are listed in alphabetical order. However, the reason the company is included in the list of Autonomies is because it fulfils every qualification for membership. It is a truly global company with operations everywhere and generates 60% of revenue from outside its home market. 



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November 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Offshore Trove Exposes Trump-Russia Links And Piggy Banks Of The Wealthiest 1 Percent

This article from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In addition to top-flight international banks such as Barclays, Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas, other elite Appleby clients have included the founder of one of the Middle East’s largest construction conglomerates, the Saad Group, and the Japanese company operating the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

The files reveal that America’s most profitable company, Apple Inc., shopped around Europe and the Caribbean for a new island tax shelter after a U.S. Senate inquiry found that the tech giant had avoided tens of billions of dollars in taxes by shifting profits into Irish subsidiaries.

In one email exchange, Apple’s lawyers asked Appleby to confirm that a possible move to one of six offshore tax havens would allow an Irish subsidiary to “conduct management activities . . . without being subject to taxation in these jurisdictions.” Apple declined to comment on details of the corporate reorganization but told ICIJ that it explained the new arrangements to government authorities and that the changes did not reduce its tax payments.

The files also reveal how big corporations cut their taxes by creating offshore shell companies to hold intangible assets such as the design of Nike’s “Swoosh” logo and the creative rights to silicone breast implants.

One of Appleby’s top corporate clients was Glencore PLC, the world’s largest commodity trader. The files contain decades of deals, emails and multimillion-dollar loans to bankroll ventures in Russia, Latin America, Africa and Australia.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Panama Papers were conspicuously short on details of US citizens and corporations. The New Paradise Papers are loaded with details of the dealings, all legal, of major US corporations, politicians as well as the Queen of England. 



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November 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on suggested allocations to stocks by Wall Street analysts

The US Stock Market Allocations Stocks Index (STALSTOX INDEX) Has stopped updating. Is it possible to correct that?

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’m afraid Bloomberg stopped updating this Index at the end of last year. I guess after it because popular the low suggested weighting to equities, which was probably a hangover from the aftermath of the credit crisis, was becoming an embarrassment for the firms contributing their views. 



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November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fossil-Fuel Friendly Tax Plan Spares Oil, Not Solar or Tesla

This article by Alex Nussbaum, Brian Eckhouse and Emma Ockerman for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The House proposal protects three provisions that save explorers billions of dollars annually, while chopping a few others.

The legislation preserves the use of last-in-first-out accounting rules, also known as LIFO. The rules let companies value crude stockpiles at the price they’re selling for, rather than the original purchase cost. The bill also allows continued deductions of so-called intangible drilling costs and preserves a measure that lets explorers reduce taxable income to reflect the depreciation of reserves.

All three were thought to be in jeopardy as Republicans searched for offsets to pay for lowering taxes elsewhere.
Eliminating the drilling and depletion provisions alone would force energy companies to pay about $25 billion in additional taxes between 2016 and 2026, Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated last year.

The House bill would also end two smaller breaks for “marginal" oil wells and enhanced oil recovery projects, which involve older oil and gas fields. That would cost drillers about $371 million over ten years, the committee estimated.
The plan spares “the Holy Grail of E&P tax breaks" by maintaining the intangible drilling costs provision, analysts at Houston investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. said in a research note Friday. Between that and a plan to cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, the legislation would be “a net positive for oil and gas," they wrote.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The US oil and gas business represents a major opportunity for the economy to reduce its trade deficit with oil producers or even to become a net energy exporter. Renewables represent an equally important part of that goal since every barrel of oil not consumed at home is available for export. It therefore makes sense from a strategic perspective to support both from a regulatory and tax perspective. However, energy is about the most politically charged of all sectors, not to mention being competitive between source and others. Therefore one tends to be favoured over the other depending on the tone of the administration in power. 



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November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The World Stands in Line as the iPhone X Goes on Sale

This photo montage captures the enthusiasm for Apple’s iPhone X. Here is a section: 

The $1,000 price tag on Apple Inc.’s new iPhone X didn’t deter throngs of enthusiasts around the world who waited—sometimes overnight—in long lines with no guarantee they would walk out of the store with one of the coveted devices.

Apple briefly became the U.S.’s first $900 billion company on the day the new smartphone went on sale.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Consumers have understandably been delaying purchases until the X was launched. After all why fork over $700 for a second-rate version when the feature laden anniversary edition is only six weeks away. Glass on front and back and rumours that the augmented reality has been toned down to speed up production are unlikely to deter initial enthusiasm for the device not least as the new emoticons are designed to appeal to the young hip crowd. 



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November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Breakfast with Dave November 3rd 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff which may be of interest. Here is a section:

I would have to say that if there is a market that has broken out of a 25-year secular downtrend, and where the economic and political tailwinds are significant, it is in Japan. I get told all the time that Japan’s population is declining, but we are buying companies, not bodies, and the bottom line is that even with this declining population, earnings momentum is on the rise and profit margins in Japan are on an impressive expansion phase, and not nearly priced in, In fact, Japan is one of the few markets globally that is not trading at premium multiples relative to its history and is an under-owned market both globally and locally. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Japan is one of the few major economies running both easy monetary and fiscal policy. That is contributing to asset price inflation which has resulted in the market breaking out of 25-year+ base formations. 



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November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on market cap to GDP

Warren Buffett uses the ratio of the market capitalisation of all listed US equities to US GNP (or is US GDP?), as a measure of the under or overvaluation of listed US equities in an overall sense. Where would such a ratio, and its long-term historical chart, be easily available in the internet? How about showing the chart in the Chart Library? Thanks in advance.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this suggestion which is already in the Chart Library. One consideration however is that while market cap data for the US market is updated regularly it is only available from 2003 on Bloomberg so that limits the historical perspective we can access. Additionally, GDP is updated quarterly in arrears so it is going to be a lagging indicator at best. 



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November 03 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The story of Ethiopia's incredible economic rise

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

In 2000, Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa, was the third-poorest country in the world. Its annual GDP per capita was only about $650. More than 50% of the population lived below the global poverty line, the highest poverty rate in the world.

What has happened since is miraculous. According to IMF estimates, from 2000 to 2016, Ethiopia was the third-fastest growing country of 10 million or more people in the world, as measured by GDP per capita. The country’s poverty rate fell to 31% by 2011 (the latest year Ethiopia’s poverty level was assessed by the World Bank).

The outlook for the next five years is bright. In its latest global forecast, the IMF projected that Ethiopian GDP per capita would expand at an annual pace of of 6.2% through 2022—among countries with 10 million or more people, only India and Myanmar are expected to grow faster.

Any country making such progress would be cause for celebration, but because of its size, swelling population, and the depths of its poverty, Ethiopia’s gains are particularly heartening. By 2050, the UN expects the country to grow to 190 million people, from around 100 million today, making it among the fastest-growing large countries in terms of population, too.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

It has been an adage at this service for decades that in emerging markets governance is everything. In the last decade we truncated it to simply governance is everything because that is as true of highly developed markets as of anywhere else. For a country with a population that is expected to just about double in the next 30 years an trend of improving standards of governance is essential if famine and civil unrest is to be avoided. 



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November 02 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 2nd 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to today's video is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Some of the topics discussed include: reaction to the Bank of England's interest rate hike, Pound weak, FTSE firm, Bitcoin surges to new high, VIX back below 10 while Wall Street at new highs, Nikkei-225 continues to surge higher, Yen testing its range lows, Brent crude holds $60.  



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November 02 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Today's Interesting charts November 2nd 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Pound pulled back sharply against the Euro from the region of the trend mean to confirm the integrity of the medium-term progression of lower rally highs. Mark Carney reiterated the market’s view that the Bank of England will pursue a gradual interest rate hiking policy suggesting it could be some time before the next move is made. 



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November 02 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Constructive on structural and cyclical growth outlook

Thanks to a subscriber for this report for Deutsche Bank highlighting some of the achievements India has made in improving governance. Here is a section:

 

While the long term structural macro outlook remains unambiguously positive, we think India is also poised for a cyclical upturn in growth, and that the worst of the growth-slowdown, caused by temporary disruption and technical factors related to external trade, is behind us. The economy has already started to stabilize post GST and high frequency indicators are showing a rebound, which should eventually reflect a recovery in July-Sep’17 GDP growth (DB estimate 6.4%). While we expect growth to average around 6.6% during FY18, we are more optimistic about the outlook for FY19 and beyond.

We also note that growth momentum generally improves in the year prior to the elections (India’s next general elections are to be held in May 2019 or earlier), which is likely to play out in this cycle as well. We think given the various reforms that are operational at this stage and that have been implemented by this government so far, it is reasonable to expect growth to return close to 8.0% by FY20, absent any external shock that could jeopardize this baseline outlook.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

At a talk I gave for the CFA in San Francisco in 2013 I made the point that rather than comparing India to China it was probably more appropriate to compare India’s development to the UK’s and China’s to the USA. The reason for this was because the USA built its infrastructure and cities on a grid system with clear delineation between public and private responsibilities which to one extent or another China has followed. 

 



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November 02 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Surges Past $7,000 to Extend Record Rally

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

“It is simply remarkable how resilient bitcoin has been in the face of significant negativity,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at ForexTime, in a Nov. 1 note to clients. “The price action suggests that bulls have a very firm grip.”

In a blog post this week, Themis warned CME is “caving in” to pressure from clients and placing a seal of approval around a “very risky, unregulated instrument that has a history of fraud and manipulation.” The products planned by CME “remind us of the collateralized debt obligations which were peddled during the financial crisis,” the post said.

Asked whether he’s concerned about a potential bubble, CME Chief Executive Officer Terry Duffy said on Bloomberg TV on Nov. 1 that the firm’s job is to “manage risk, not decide what the price of a product is.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin is considered by advocates to be a global phenomenon and it might get there eventually with progressively more countries legislating for its inclusion as an investment vehicle within their domestic markets. 



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November 02 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Caps $250 Billion Rally With Accelerating Sales Growth

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

Alibaba Caps $250 Billion Rally With Accelerating Sales Growth – Alibaba’s “new retail” plan carries a simple premise -- to combine its online merchants with a vast swathe of physical stores now divorced from the internet, stripping out layers of profit-sipping middlemen and boosting Alibaba’s e-commerce in the process. Those outlets double as storage and delivery centers.

But the execution involves a battery of expensive and time-consuming investments: buying into department stores such as Intime, setting up “smart” grocery stores like Hema, investing $15 billion into expanding its delivery network into remote regions, and enlisting some half-a-million mom-and-pop stores that now serve the countryside.

Alibaba is trying to transform the way retailers large and small manage their inventory based on real-time demand. And drawing more physical customers into its network boosts its own online orders and provides abundant data to target future consumers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Guangzhou’s old town is a picture of the commercial reality represented by the marriage of social media and physical stores. There are coupons available for almost every purchase on WeChat, JD.com or Alibaba that can only be redeemed in store. This has delivered almost overnight a realization that customer service is what drives customer flow. Coupled with on demand manufacturing China is rapidly advancing a modern shopping experience that retailers in the rest of world need to pay attention to. 



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November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 1st 2017

November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nickel Rallies Most in Five Years on Promise of Electric Cars

This article by Yuliya Fedorinova and Martin Ritchie for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The nickel market has caught fire, with prices posting the biggest two-day advance in five years.

Nickel rose as much as 6 percent to $13,030 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, the highest since June 2015. That added to Tuesday’s 5.3 percent gain after Trafigura Group Pte joined Glencore Plc in unveiling bullish usage forecasts. In Shanghai, prices climbed by the daily limit.

"Such breakthrough has been cooking long, backed by relative value and EVs," Richard Fu, head of Asia Pacific at Amalgamated Metal Trading Ltd., said by email.

Nickel sulphate, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, will see demand increase by half to 3 million tons by 2030, Saad Rahim, chief economist at Trafigura, said in an interview. That echoes bullish views from miner and trader Glencore. Batteries are likely to use more nickel and less cobalt in future, Rahim said.

Nickel is now up 28 percent for 2017, vying with aluminum for the title of top base metal of the year.

Chinese investors piled into Shanghai futures at the start of morning session, and prices were locked up by the limit just short of 100,000 yuan a ton, the highest intraday level since November.

MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, which competes with Vale SA as the world’s top nickel producer, has warned that the market may have become too bullish too quickly. The company sees this year’s nickel demand from batteries at about 65,000 tons, compared with total usage of 2 million tons, according to Anton Berlin, head of analysis and market development. It will take a few years for EVs to become a significant consumer, he said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The London Metals Index has been on a recovery trajectory for more than a year with five of the six constituents rallying impressively in 2016 and again more recently. Nickel has been something of a wallflower in that time because it was plagued by oversupply and lacked a clear bullish catalyst for demand dominance. 



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November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ford Leads Truck Boom as U.S. Auto Sales Seen Beating Estimates

This article by Jamie Butters, Keith Naughton and David Welch for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Ford F-Series deliveries surged 16 percent for their best October since 2004, and the automaker’s total U.S. sales beat analysts’ estimates. Demand also jumped for GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Ram pickup and Nissan Motor Co.’s Titan full-size trucks.

The strong showing by pickups is a positive indicator both for carmakers’ profits and the U.S. economy. Companies added more workers than forecast to U.S. payrolls last month as employment in the construction industry -- a sector closely tied to truck sales -- climbed to the highest in more than a decade. Automakers also are benefiting from consumers in Texas, the nation’s top truck market, continuing to replace vehicles damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

“We did see continued hurricane replacement at the beginning of the month,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst at car-shopping website Autotrader, said by phone. “The economic factors are also in trucks’ favor. People are back to work and construction activity is up, which is good for truck sales.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A lot of vehicles were totalled in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma and continued positive economic data is a bonus for truck manufacturers. The fact the hurricanes hit two states where truck ownership is high suggests demand will continue at least through the end of the year as some insurance checks take longer to arrive than others. 



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November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on low interest rates driving the stock market

I was listening to a podcast at Epsilon Theory and they were discussing their observation of S&P EBITDA growth being significantly lower than Net Income growth. This would signify that the artificially low interest rates being the prime driver of earnings which poses a scary scenario. I can't seem to find an updated chart. Can you add to the Chart Library? Thank you!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question but I’m afraid the universe of fundamental statistics we have available to post in the Chart Library is rather limited so creating the spread between EBITDA and Net Income is not possible. 



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October 31 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 31 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOE Rate Increase May Not Be Enough to Revive Brexit-Vexed Pound

This article by Charlotte Ryan for Bloomberg which offers a summary of thinking on the Pound heading into the BoE meeting on Thursday. Here it is in full: 

The Bank of England may increase interest rates this week for the first time in more than a decade, but that won’t be enough to buoy the pound, according to strategists.

Markets almost fully price in a 25-basis-point increase in the BOE’s key rate on Thursday, meaning investors are ill- prepared for a disappointment. Should Governor Mark Carney and fellow policy makers keep policy on hold, or deliver a one-time hike that merely reverses the emergency cut after the Brexit vote, sterling could add to the last two weeks’ declines, according to Ross Walker, an economist at NatWest Markets.

The U.K. currency has declined 1.8 percent against the dollar during October as concerns about the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations weighed on investor sentiment. It snapped a two-day decline on Monday, gaining 0.3 percent to $1.3161 as of 9:11 a.m. The yield on 10-year U.K. government bonds fell 1 basis point to 1.34 percent.

“Sterling needs a hawkish hike in order to rally,” said Walker. “The pound could come under pressure” otherwise, he said.

While money-market pricing suggests an 89 percent probability that the Monetary Police Committee will tighten on Thursday, banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and Barclays Plc expect a “one-and-done” move. Investors will look to the language of the MPC minutes, vote split and the quarterly Inflation Report to gauge the policy outlook further ahead.

“I’d prefer to go into the meeting” with a short position on sterling, said Steven Barrow, head of currency strategy in London at Standard Bank. “There is a reasonable enough chance they don’t raise rates. We’ll have to see what comes out from the statement the bank puts out.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The bond market has pretty much priced in the potential for the Bank of England to raise rates this week, with 3-month yields rising from a low in July of 0.12% to 0.41% today. Perhaps the biggest question is not so much whether they will raise rates but rather will they manage to sustain the hike and whether they will raise again? 



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October 31 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Millennial State of Mind

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bain and Co. which focuses on the luxury goods sector and may be of interest. Here is a section: 

The luxury industry has entered a “new normal,” characterized by lower growth. To succeed in the next decade, brands will need to refocus on their customers to better anticipate and cater to their needs. The younger generation will be key: New research by Bain & Company and Farfetch estimates that millennials will represent 40% of the global personal luxury goods market by 2025.

• The characteristics of millennial behavior are already seeping through to older generations - which accounted for 73% of luxury purchases in 2016.

• This generates a widespread “millennial state of mind” that requires brands to act. It is characterized by three main traits:
– Uneasiness. Digital interaction with peers is on the rise when choosing to purchase a product.
– Urgency. “I want it fast and I want it now.” The time to make a purchase is decreasing, with younger customers taking one-third less time than older customers to make decisions.
– Uniqueness. Consumers now expect brands to align with their personal values and passions.

• Today, 70% of luxury purchases are influenced by online interactions, which means at least one digital interaction has taken place with the brand or the product before those purchases.
– 14% of consumers from the ages 18 to 24 complete their first luxury purchase online. – Digital traffic to websites of luxury brands is double the amount of store visits.

• By 2025, online and monobrand stores will become the two largest channels for luxury sales, each accounting for 25%.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Supreme’s continued success in using a limited supply model to drive demand for its products highlights the fact that the millennial generation is as interested in differentiating themselves along exclusivity, social and wealth lines as any earlier generation. In fact, it is reasonable to argue the cult of conspicuous consumption and vanity took on an added dimension with the evolution of Instagram and the selfie culture. 



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October 31 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Futures Could Open Floodgates Into Crypto Markets

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

Bitcoin is spiking to a record after CME Group Inc. said it’s planning to launch bitcoin futures as the move could open the floodgates of investors who have been standing on the sidelines as bitcoin soared over 500 percent this year.
The cryptocurrency jumped as much as 5.2 percent to $6,416.39 after the CME said it will start offering trading the derivatives in the fourth quarter. Futures will be settled in cash based on a bitcoin index that CME started calculating in November. 

The move comes after the Chicago Board Options Exchange said in August it’s exploring bitcoin derivatives opportunities, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in July registered cryptocurrency trading platform LedgerX as the first federally regulated cryptocurrency derivatives exchange and clearinghouse.

With bitcoin futures becoming mainstream, the next logical step seems to be a bitcoin exchange-traded fund, as the Securities and Exchange Commission had cited the lack of derivatives as one of the reasons for rejecting approval of the funds. ETFs and derivatives are likely to make bitcoin trading a lot more palatable for hedge funds and mutual funds, as the instruments will allow them to hedge for the digital asset’s volatility and avoid some of the hassles of investing in bitcoin directly.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Right now bitcoin is a market worth about $100 billion but trading is for, the most part done, without access to market leverage. I’m sure there are people putting purchases on their credit cards etc., but bitcoin is primarily an unleveraged market. That is about to change.



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October 31 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook, Twitter, Google to Tell Congress How Russia Meddled

This article by Steven T. Dennis, Sarah Frier and Gerrit De Vynck for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Lawmakers are focused on whether there was any overlap between the Trump campaign and the massive Russian effort to flood Americans’ social media feeds with fake news and fake ads.

Facebook plans to tell lawmakers that 80,000 posts came from 470 fake Russian accounts and that it closed 5.8 million fake accounts from all sources in October 2016 alone. Fake Russian accounts on Facebook’s Instagram posted an additional 120,000 pieces of content, the company will tell lawmakers.

At the same hearing, Twitter Inc. will say it has suspended 2,752 Russian-linked accounts, far more than it previously disclosed, according to testimony obtained by Bloomberg News. Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to say the impact on its sites was much smaller, with $4,700 worth of Russian-linked ads, compared to the $100,000 Facebook disclosed.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no doubt that foreign interference in the electoral process of another country is almost universally going to be greeted with hostility and not least when it is so openly pursued. Russia was probably betting that it could pursue its geopolitical goals with less interference from a Trump administration than a Clinton one but that was a risky strategy when it must have known what the political blowback would be when it actions were discovered. 



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October 30 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 30 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan is the 'most under-owned stock market on the planet,' and David Rosenberg says buy it

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

"The one part of the world which looks very good to me right now, a great turnaround story that's under-owned, is Japan. The Nikkei is breaking out," said Rosenberg said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

He added: "I think even a child could see that the 30-year secular downtrend has been broken over the course of the past couple of months."

The Nikkei 225, Japan's benchmark stock index, has soared nearly ten percent over the past three months. It's now up 15-percent so far this year. But it's still about 56 percent way from its all-time high hit in 1990.

According to Rosenberg, Japan has one of the few markets that isn't trading expensively to its historical price earnings ratio — noting "almost everybody else in the world is." 
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Japan has been a disappointment for so long that when it breaks out to new highs it is tempting to think that this will be just another failed upside break. However there is an important point that should not be ignored when making that decision. It is one of the few countries in the world running simultaneously easy monetary and fiscal policy. Considering the magnitude of the Bank of Japan’s debt it needs to generate inflation if it is to ever have any hope of paying them back. That is also why it is buying stocks, as part ownerships in companies they represent income streams outside the taxation power of the government. 



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October 30 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video Game Software Industry Primer; Surpassing $100bn in 2017

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Here is a section:

Sony maintaining lead over Microsoft, Nintendo rebounding Sony has enjoyed a strong lead over Microsoft with 50mn estimated PS4 units sold vs. 23mn sold for the xBox as of 2016. We expect Sony to maintain this lead, but will likely lose some market share to Nintendo given the success of the Switch. We forecast total hardware unit sales in this cycle to reach approximately 46mn for the xBox, 112mn for the PS4 and 55mn for the Switch by 2020. With the Sony PS4 Pro driving a modest increase in retail sales, and the xBox One to come, we expect the high-definition console base (which is key to US publishers) to remain relatively stable over the next four years. We assume a higher obsolesce rate as consumers upgrade their existing consoles, but the overall active PS4/xBoxOne console base to remain steady at around 100-105mn units.

We think that the Switch will have appeal with casual players who do not currently game on PS4 and xBox One and are fans of Nintendo franchises (Mario, Zelda, etc). Based on these assumptions, we are forecasting the total console base to grow to 155mn by 2020, with Gen 9 base flattening and the Gen 10 (Switch) casual user base driving growth.

Looking out to our 2020 forecasts, we expect Nintendo to drive over 39% of hardware unit shipments in ’17-‘20. We believe Sony could come out with a new or upgraded console by 2019 or 2020 to compete with the xBox One X if the One X gets traction.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I spent much of Saturday at Stan Lee’s ComicCon in Los Angeles where my daughters were in 7th heaven meeting up with Youtube artists they watch, meeting up with cosplayers and have their photo taken with them. My eldest was delighted to have one of her questions answered by the actor who did the voiceover for one of the characters in her favourite game, Overwatch. 



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October 30 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

LME Considers New Nickel Contract to Tap Boom in Electric Cars

This article by Mark Burton and Jack Farchy for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The LME is considering starting a nickel sulphate contract as part of a trio of new products that take advantage of growing demand for battery metals, according to Chief Executive Officer Matthew Chamberlain. The launch is 18 months away at best, he said in an interview Friday, ahead of the metal industry’s annual gathering in London.

“Electric vehicles are clearly the growth story for our industry,” Chamberlain said. The bourse will meet with stakeholders in the electric vehicle market during LME Week to firm up plans for new nickel, cobalt and lithium chemical contracts, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I posted a report from Vale on October where they made clear how they see the growth in the nickel market is likely coming from batteries and additionally how much additional investment is going to be required to develop the resources necessary to deliver the quality of nickel required to supply the market. That suggests nickel is evolving into a supply inelasticity meets rising demand market; provided of course the futures markets evolves along with it. 



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October 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon Threat Causes Shakeout in the Health-Care Industry

This article by Robert Langreth, Jared S Hopkins, and Spencer Soper for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Analysts have speculated that Amazon could soon enter the business of selling prescription drugs, threatening to disrupt retail drugstores, drug wholesalers, and the pharmacy-benefits management business. While Amazon has never publicly commented on what its plans may be, CNBC reported this month that the Internet giant could make a decision about selling drugs online by Thanksgiving. The network didn’t name its sources.

McKesson slid 5.2 percent at 4 p.m. in New York, while AmerisourceBergen shares fell 4.2 percent and Express Scripts sank 3.7 percent following the report on Amazon’s state licenses by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Bloomberg News confirmed that Amazon had obtained wholesale-pharmacy licenses in at least 13 states, including Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon, Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Utah and Iowa. An application is pending in Maine. Some of the licenses were obtained late last year and some this year.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amazon doesn’t make money from shipping products in the USA and makes a loss on doing the same elsewhere which helps to explain why it can continue to grow market share at the expense of conventional companies. It depends on its webservices business to provide profits even though the online retail business accounts for the vast majority of turnover. However, it is the fact that Amazon has leeched earnings from other sectors to feed its revenue growth which is what investors are betting on which has contributed to the consistency of the advance since 2015. 



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October 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asia Local Markets Weekly - Slippery slope

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

Away from the debate on whether the recapitalization bonds will – and should – be treated as an ‘above the line’ item in the Budget or not, and hence the optics on the Budget Deficit;

the issuance of such a large quantum over a period of 12 months will pressurize an already weak technical position for the bond markets by detracting from the public sector bank appetite for general government issuance (center and state). The specifics of the recap bonds (whether eligible for SLR, whether marketable etc.) will determine the extent of substitutability between recap bonds and other government paper. Note also the backdrop of recent lowering by RBI of both the mandatory SLR for banks, and the limit on SLR securities held under the HTM category, which should reduce the overall appetite from banks for SLR paper – and in particular for duration. There are two mitigating factors to consider though – a) that the banking system remains flush with liquidity (as obvious in the money parked with RBI) created by the demonetization exercise from late last year, and b) possible reduction in RBI OMO sales given that this recap bond issuance will, at least temporarily, take some surplus liquidity out of circulation. The net sum though, we expect, to still be negative for the demand technicals of the markets. Comes as this does together with increasing likelihood of slippage in deficit for the current FY (unless the government manages to get additional dividends from PSUs) – and likely putting at risk the FRBM Committee recommendation for 3% target for next FY – the technical picture overall points to risk of higher rates and steeper curves still in India. We stay underweight in our exposure to duration.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Indian 10-yr government bond yields contracted from 9.5% in 2013 when the Rupee was among the weakest currencies in the world to lows of 6.2% in late 2016. The yield has broken its downtrend over the last year and a sustained move below 6.5% would be required to question support building. 



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October 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brent Oil Tops $60 for First Time Since 2015 Amid OPEC Optimism

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

Both the global benchmark and its U.S. counterpart have rallied in October amid increasing belief that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will agree to cut output later into next year, helping to work down global inventories. Statoil ASA’s Chief Executive Officer Eldar Saetre said in a Bloomberg Television interview that he continues to see strong demand and the oil market is “definitely balancing.”

“People are starting to price in the OECD inventories moving back towards normalized levels into later 2018,” Brad Hunnewell, senior equity analyst at Rockefeller & Co., said by telephone.

U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State said in a Twitter message Friday that he “incorrectly” said in an interview with Kurdish Rudaw news agency that there was a cease-fire between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. A rally in WTI immediately followed his message. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi suspended operations by federal forces for 24 hours in disputed areas to allow a joint Iraqi and Kurdish team to deploy forces, Sumaria TV reported.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Synchronised global economic expansion is generally positive for commodity prices. With OPEC at least limiting supply that is helping to support prices. Saudi Arabia also has a vested interest in getting prices as high as possible over the next year as it burnishes the appeal of the Saudi Aramco IPO. 



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October 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the legacy of The Chart Seminar

Dear David - see attachment!

You are mentioned in this week's Investor's Chronicle.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thousands of people have participated in The Chart Seminar over its 48 years and while markets change, the investment crowd shares the same aptitude for extreme emotions as they ever have. I look forward to welcoming delegates at our next venue for the seminar in London on November 16th and 17th. 



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October 26 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for October 26th 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to today's video commentary is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Some of the items discussed include: ECB announces tapering, Euro and Pound fall but European stock markets breakout, India extends breakout, China steady, Australia testing its range highs, gold weak, oil testing the $60 area. US Treasury yields extend break above 2.4%. 



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October 26 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Draghi Calls for Caution as Flagship Stimulus Heads to Exit

This article by Carolynn Look and Alessandro Speciale for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Mario Draghi warned that the European Central Bank will remain cautious even as he put his signature stimulus measure on the road toward an exit.

Starting in January, the ECB will take a step toward ending one of its more controversial tools by cutting monthly purchases of public and private debt to 30 billion euros ($35 billion), or half the current pace. The shift in stance comes six years into Draghi’s presidency, a new phase after his unprecedented actions to prevent the breakup of the euro area and stave off deflation.

The decision “reflects growing confidence in the gradual convergence of inflation rates towards our inflation aim on account of the increasingly robust and broad-based economic expansion,” he said in a press conference after Thursday’s Governing Council meeting. “At the same time, domestic price pressures are still muted overall, and the economic outlook and path of inflation are conditional on support from monetary policy.”

While Draghi toned down his language, saying the euro area still needs “ample” stimulus instead of the “substantial” used in previous statements, he emphasized the need to tread carefully as long as consumer prices remain weak. QE will be extended again if needed, even if only to draw it to a gentle halt, and will take total holdings to at least 2.55 trillion euros.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has added 2.3 trillion to its balance sheet in less than three years. That’s a substantial sum and in tandem with the Bank of Japan, has been responsible for the continued flow of liquidity into global financial markets. 



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October 26 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Finally the Indian TARP

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

We expect the stocks to trade above their historical averages on P/BV given cleaned-up balance sheets and lack of foreign ownership. Hence, we assign core F19e multiples of 1.1x for SBI and BOB and 1x for PNB . This compares to the three-phase residual income model approach we previously used to value corporate banks. The table below summarizes our key assumptions for these banks: cost of equity (no change), sustainable RoE (no prior assumptions because we used RI models),and long-term growth (no prior assumptions because we used RI models). We leave the valuations of non-bank entities and cost of equity unchanged. This drives the price target and scenario value changes at these banks. We double upgrade SBI and PNB to OW. We upgrade BoB to EW. 

Both ICICI Bank and Axis have been affected by continued NPLformation and inability to get ahead of the problems. These banks are not the direct beneficiaries of the government's move. However, they should benefit in two ways: 

1. With SOE banks properly capitalised, they can finally see proper clearing of NPLs in the system.

2. This makes it easier for the RBI to implement IND-AS in F19 as SOE banks will not be constrained by capital from taking the necessary hits. The implementation will allow private lenders to recognise losses in the transition period, raise capital (if needed),and potentially move to normalised provisioning from F19 itself.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

India has hundreds of millions of young people entering the workforce over the next decade and has one of the lowest average aged populations in the world. In order to deliver a path to a better standard of living, which can ensure social cohesion, it is going to need credit growth. 



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October 26 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

FAAMG: A Bubble In The Making?

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

FAAMG: The music continues to play We continue to be bullish on the global Information Technology (IT) sector, mainly due to our positive view on the semiconductor and software sub-segments. Global IT is benefiting from a macro environment, which is characterised by accelerating growth and rising rates that support IT companies due to their low financial leverage and high operating leverage. Global IT stocks are trading at a forward P/E of around 18x, broadly in line with the sector’s long-term historical valuation multiple average. As a result, we believe that the good growth perspectives of the sector are not yet fully reflected at current levels.

However, within the IT segment, we would like to take a closer look at the FAAMG group (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google). Those five stocks have been the main performance drivers of the underlying IT and consumer indices and now represent around 13% of the S&P 500, roughly the same weighting as the US energy sector.
 
A recession would be needed to trigger a bubble burst. 
While we agree that the share price performance of the FAAMG group may look like a bubble in the making, we would stress the fact that bubbles only tend to burst when the underlying market moves into a recession. According to our economists, global growth should accelerate towards the end of the year and stabilise at current levels in 2018. Leading indicators in all major regions around the globe support this forecast and thus a recession looks highly unlikely in the foreseeable future.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The US technology sector continues to represent some of the clearest beneficiaries of the evolution of the digital economy where data is a valuable asset. While companies like Microsoft and Facebook look quite different on the surface they both see their growth deriving from gathering, parsing, interpreting and selling data. The evolution of the home speaker/digital assistant market being simultaneously pushed by Apple, Amazon and Google are all symptomatic of their desire to secure consumer cashflows by being the conduit for data. 



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October 26 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New CRISPR tools enable extraordinarily precise gene editing in human cells

This article by Rich Hardy for Newatlas.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In the team's early experiments with base editing a specific mutation associated with the disease hemochromatosis was successfully fixed. No unwanted off-target effects were identified and the base editor enzyme operated with greater than 50 percent efficiency.

"We are hard at work trying to translate base editing technology into human therapeutics," Liu says.

The second new CRISPR innovation revealed recently comes from a collaborative team of Broad Institute and MIT scientists. For the first time the team discovered a way to accurately edit RNA base pairs in human cells.

Dubbed "REPAIR" this system also focuses on base editing but this time is targeted at RNA. Unlike permanent changes to DNA, RNA is much more ephemeral and even reversible. The ability to edit RNA in human cells opens up an entirely new world of disease treatments targeting conditions including diabetes and IBD.

"REPAIR can fix mutations without tampering with the genome, and because RNA naturally degrades, it's a potentially reversible fix," explains co-first author David Cox.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

CRISPR represents a paradigm shift for the genetics industry because it reduces the cost and time required to experiment with how to edit DNA. When I visited the MIT genetics labs a year ago it was clear that what was next to near impossible five years ago is now something doctoral students can achieve with ease on a daily basis.  

 



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October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Markets, Moody's Applaud $32 Billion Bazooka for India Banks

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

India’s government has won a resounding reception from investors and credit-rating firms for its unprecedented pledge of 2.11 trillion rupees ($32 billion) in capital for the country’s beleaguered state banks.

The move, which drove an index of government-run banks up as much as 26 percent, is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to help lenders meet tighter capital-reserve requirements, as slower economic growth and falling demand erode borrowers’ ability to repay loans. Soured debt is now the highest since 2000, hampering credit expansion that’s needed to spur Asia’s third-largest economy.

“The proposed infusion is a sizable jump over what had been pledged before as India is seeking to plug a large part of the core equity gap at the state-run banks,” said Jobin Jacob, a Mumbai-based associate director at Fitch Ratings Ltd. This addresses “weak core capitalization, one of the key drivers for our negative outlook on the South Asian nation’s banking sector.”

Moody’s Investors Service analyst Srikanth Vadlamani said the move is a “significant credit positive” for India’s state- run banks. The amount of capital pledged is enough to address the lenders’ solvency challenges and recapitalize them adequately, Vadlamani, who is vice president of the financial institutions group at the unit of Moody’s Corp., said by phone.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Non-performing loans have been one of the biggest concerns of international investors in India over the last few years. Despite the obvious benefits of digitisation of the economy, the upgrading of mobile networks from 2G to 4G and the slow and steady pace of reform, the parlous condition of the banking sector was the one reason I heard more than any other that deterred investors from participating in the Indian market.  



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October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Jinping Unveils China's New Leaders but No Clear Successor

This article by Chris Buckley for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The five new Standing Committee members are party leaders with long careers in Chinese politics, including one of Mr. Xi’s longtime allies and a scholar of international relations. But the party declined to name a younger leader to the committee who might succeed Mr. Xi when his second term as president ends in 2023.

That was a departure from China’s carefully scripted transfers of power in recent decades and a possible signal that Mr. Xi intends to govern beyond this next five-year term. Mr. Xi may also want more time to test possible successors, while avoiding lame duck status with an heir waiting in the wings.

But by discarding the unspoken conventions that have ensured relatively stable leadership changes in recent years, Mr. Xi has pushed Chinese politics into new territory that critics have warned could lead to turmoil, or a cult of personality with echoes of Mao.

“If Xi goes for broke and breaks precedent by not preparing for an orderly and peaceful succession, he is putting a target on his back and risking a backlash from other ambitious politicians,” Susan L. Shirk, the chairwoman of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego.

“By taking such a risk, he shows himself to be more like Mao than we originally thought — he demonstrates his power by overturning institutions,” said Professor Shirk, a former State Department deputy assistant secretary for China policy.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Xi Jinping is 64 years old which means he will be older than the “unofficial” retirement age of 68 when the next Party Congress is next held in 2022. He has not anointed a successor so there is going to be a hiatus in promotions for ambitious party cadres over the next five years. Meanwhile the trajectory of his rule points towards his desire to extend his tenure beyond two consecutive terms.



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October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Robotics in the running for Nike's factories of the future

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Jennifer Bissell-Link which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Since 2015, Nike has been working with Flex, the high-tech manufacturing company better known for producing Fitbit activity trackers and Lenovo servers, to introduce greater automation into the otherwise labour-intensive process of making a shoe.

Flex’s facility in Mexico has become one of Nike’s most important factories, responsible not just for a growing slice of the company’s production but also for a string of innovations to be rolled out across Nike’s supplier base, such as laser-cutting and automated gluing.

For Nike, the shift to greater automation has two huge attractions. By driving down costs, it could lead to a dramatic improvement in profit margins. It would also allow the company to deliver new designs more quickly to fickle, fashion-conscious customers at a premium. A pair of Nike Roshe shoes costs $75 without Flyknit uppers, compared to as much as $130 with Flyknit. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Nike has been talking for at least five years about its plans to introduce greater automation into the process of making shoes. The fact it has taken this long to get a factory up and running attests to the complexity of achieving its objective but also to the inevitability of the process. 



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October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 25 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin splits again, creating a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin gold that then plunged 66%

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

There are differences of opinions within the bitcoin industry as to whether a fork is good or bad.

"These forks are very bad for bitcoin. Saturating the market with different versions of bitcoin is confusing to users, and discredits the claim that there are a limited number of bitcoins — since you can always fork it and double the supply," Sol Lederer, blockchain director at Loomia, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

But some have said forks are a good part of any cryptocurrency ecosystem.

"If a crypto-community has irreconcilable differences, then you can go your separate ways and that is just fine," Bob Summerwill, chief blockchain developer at Sweetbridge, a company creating blockchain solutions, said in a statement Tuesday.

Still, there is bullishness around bitcoin. A survey carried out by CNBC last week asking where the bitcoin price was headed found that 49 percent of the 23,118 people who voted answered "above $10,000."

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a certain Darwinism to the evolution of Bitcoin where mutations split off and are weighed individually by the market. The two hard forks since July resulted from intractable disagreement about the nature of what the evolving market for Bitcoin should be. 



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