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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing in autocracies

Which firms have monopoly - pricing power?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. David and I pondered this same issue a decade ago. Globalisation was flourishing, the shale revolution promised US energy independence and companies were expanding enthusiastically to capture market share among the new vibrant emerging market middle classes. We also worried about inflation because central bank money printing money was so prolific.



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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sahara solar could soon rescue Britain's broken energy system

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Netflix Breaks Own Rules as Subscriber Losses Batter Shares

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

Netflix Inc. is throwing out all of its old rules after losing customers for the first time in a decade, saying it will introduce an advertising-supported option and crack down on people sharing passwords.

The plans are intended to help staunch the loss of subscribers that pummeled the streaming service Wednesday, pushing the stock down as much as 29% in premarket trading in New York and potentially wiping about $43 billion from its market value. It the decline holds, it would put Netflix on course to be the worst performing stock of the year on both the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indices.

Co-founder Reed Hastings has said for years that he doesn’t want to offer advertising and had no problems with password sharing. But the company is changing course after losing 200,000 customers in the first quarter, the first time it has shed subscribers since 2011. Netflix also projected it will shrink by another 2 million customers in the current second quarter, a huge setback for a company that regularly grew by 25 million subscribers or more a year. Netflix also will curb its spending on films and TV shows in response to the customer losses.

Eoin Treacy's view -

S&P offers an investment grade rating, while Moody’s rates Netflix as the highest level of junk. That represents the widespread indecision about the company’s prospects. To some Netflix’s debt is a sound investment, to others it is no better than speculative grade. The yield on the 2028 bonds has doubled since the beginning of the year but stills trades at a price of 106. That premium is hardly justifiable as subscriber numbers contract.



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 19th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: bonds continue to sell off, oil, natural gas, gold, orange juice, sugar, coffee pullback, stocks begin to steady on a weaker Yuan and Yen. slowing global growth is negaitve for commodity demand but reduces the potential for interest rate hikes which supports stocks. 



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Credit Availability Is Still High

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Sinks as Dour IMF Forecast Sparks Global Growth Concerns

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Diamond Standard Market Outlook

I had the pleasure of speaking with the CEO of Diamond Standard, Cormac Kinney, last week and they kindly forwarded over their most recent market update. Here is a section: 

The announcement of diamonds as a regulator-approved investment product has resonated across the industry. The anticipated 1% to 2% growth in rough diamond production over the next five years will not keep up with accelerated demand, especially now that a much broader pool of investors are indirectly competing with the consumer jewelry market for diamonds.

Precious metals saw similar evolutions as their use expanded beyond the functional and decorative and into storing value. Investors now hold at least 15% of each above-ground precious metal. Early evidence of the impact of diamond investment assets indicates a shift toward the hands of investors similar to that of precious metals. Presently fewer than 1% of above-ground diamonds are allocated to investors.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is more institutional investment in bitcoin than diamonds. The primary obstacle to investing in diamonds has always been fungibility. No two stones are the same and the relative merits of colour, shape, size, cut, clarity and fluorescence mean pricing has always been inefficient and subject to interpretation. The inefficiency of the market has kept the market for stones opaque and deterred institutions from attempting to take positions.



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April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Affirm Research Reveals Generational Divide in Americans' Response to Inflation

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

As prices continue to rise amid inflation, so too does financial stress, according to new research from Affirm, the payment network that empowers consumers. The research found that 73% of Millennials / Gen Z consumers - and 66% of U.S. consumers overall - are concerned that rising costs will prevent them from being able to pay for the things and experiences they want to achieve this year.

The study asked 1,740 consumers about how inflation is affecting their spending habits and revealed three key trends around how Americans are responding to the pressure on their wallets.

A night out is off the table - instead, consumers are prioritizing the home as their happy place

Purchases for the home are the top category Americans plan to prioritize as costs rise (38%).
Going out to restaurants (53%), entertainment (47%), and beauty (34%) are the top categories consumers plan to deprioritize.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Buy-now-pay-later is the opposite of delayed gratification. The sector has surged in popularity over the last two years as homebound consumers splurged on anything to relieve the tedium of the pandemic. Lifestyle creep is a hard habit to break and is usually forced on people by a sharp reversal of fortunes.



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April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sri Lanka says it will default on its foreign debt as the cost of food and food imports spirals, report says

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

Nomura Holdings Inc. expects an “Ecuador-style debt restructuring” where the existing stock of bonds are exchanged into three longer-dated bonds with a reduction in coupon rates and some principal haircut, said Nicholas Yap, head of Asia credit desk analysts in Hong Kong.

Sri Lanka’s foreign-exchange reserves slumped 16% to $1.94 billion last month. The government was due to make a $36 million interest payment on a 2023 dollar bond April 18, as well as $42.2 million on a 2028 note, Bloomberg-compiled data show. A $1 billion sovereign bond was maturing July 25. 

The economic crisis has evolved into a political stalemate, potentially complicating efforts to negotiate aid. Mahinda Rajapaksa in a speech Monday night called on citizens to be patient as price surges and shortages worsen, while touting his family’s role in ending a decades-long civil war back in 2009. His brother, the president, has said he won’t resign under any circumstances. 

The government hasn’t yet named negotiators for the restructuring process or set a value for the debt recast, Finance Minister Ali Sabry said by phone. Sabry -- who has been in the job for about a week after cabinet resigned en masse -- will be part of Sri Lanka’s team attending the IMF’s spring meetings next week that would discuss a potential aid package.

“We have no choice,” he said, referring to the decision to stop payments. “This should have happened a long time ago.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sri Lanka has been heading towards a dire debt situation for much of the last decade. The massive debts taken on to accommodate China’s building of large port facilities at rates, which are multiples of what were available from the IMF, are no doubt part of the problem. The surging cost of imported commodities tipped the country over the edge. 



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April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 13th 2022

April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Big $hort

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

Paraphrasing Herodotus…

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

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

Luck is luck. Luck isn’t structural…

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

But not this time around…

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Energy Upheaval Threatens Years of Natural Gas Shortages

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

Already, natural gas spot prices are so high that the world’s top buyers in North Asia are choosing not to refill inventories with additional overseas purchases. They’re instead gambling that this summer will be mild, or a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine will result in a price drop, said traders, who requested anonymity to discuss private details.

LNG importers in China and India have drastically cut back spot purchases, and are instead maximizing domestic supply and consuming gas in storage, traders said. This strategy will help to save money, but comes with an enormous risk that allows little room for surprises -- a bet that hasn’t paid off recently. 

If there is a sudden spike in demand for gas, or if a contracted shipment isn’t able to be delivered due to a production issue, some of Asia’s top consumers may be short of gas this summer or next winter. They will be forced to go back into the spot market and buy very expensive shipments of the fuel, or curtail gas deliveries to customers at home.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Telling your rival what you are going to do before you do it is not good strategy. Europe has been telling the world it wants to be greener for years. They closed coal fired power stations and nuclear plants while intensifying reliance on imported gas. Russia could decide to curtail shipments to Europe at any time.



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April 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bank of Canada Delivers Jumbo Rate Hike With More to Come

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

Policymakers led by Governor Tiff Macklem increased the central bank’s overnight benchmark to 1% on Wednesday. Macklem said he expects rates will return to what they consider the “neutral range” of 2% and 3%, with policy makers prepared to move “forcefully” if needed. 

The bank also said it will stop purchasing government bonds later this month to start shrinking its balance sheet, another form of stimulus withdrawal.

“The economy can handle higher interest rates, and they are needed,” Macklem said at a news conference in Ottawa. 

Short-term bonds fell after the report, pushing Canada’s benchmark two-year yield to as high as 2.346%, before reversing those losses. The loonie strengthened, however, gaining 0.4% to C$1.2593 per U.S. dollar at 12:29 p.m. in Toronto trading. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

About a quarter of Canadian mortgages are floating rate. Rising government bond yields and the promise of aggressive rate hikes already bit into housing demand. Getting inflation back under control should be less worrisome for a major commodity exporter like Canada but it isn’t something that can be ignored either.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Rise as CPI Bolsters Bets on Inflation Peak

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shein's $100 Billion Value Would Top H&M and Zara Combined

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

A Chinese fast-fashion company without a global network of physical stores of its own is seeking a valuation that could be more than the combined worth of high-street staples Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA’s Zara.

Shein, an online-only retailer of inexpensive clothes, beauty and lifestyle products that pumps out over 6,000 new items daily, is in talks with potential investors including General Atlantic for a funding round that could value the company at about $100 billion, Bloomberg News reported Sunday.

Should Shein succeed with the round, it would make the decade-old brand about twice as valuable as Tokyo-based Fast Retailing Co. -- the owner of Uniqlo -- which last year had more than 2,300 outlets in 25 countries and regions. It would also make Shein the world’s most-valuable startup after ByteDance Ltd. and SpaceX, according to data provider CB Insights.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I wrote about the success of direct-to-consumer Chinese fashion brands in my 2015 China trip report. Back then I was impressed by the speed with which new SKUs were churned out. The injection of capital and internet marketing savvy has grown that business model to the point where every other fast fashion brand is struggling to compete.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DALL-E 2 is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language

This website may be of interest to subscribers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of natural language programming is a significant trend. It holds out the promise of broadening the spectrum of people who can use innovative tools to create useful products and services. At present this is still in relative infancy, but the pace of development is sufficiently fast to suggest real world applications within the next couple of years. It might be while (decades?) before we get to Star Trek levels of voice commands but it’s not impossible.



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April 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pension Funds' Billions Loom as Force to Cap Long-Term Yields

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

The unmooring of long-term Treasury yields just keeps gaining momentum. Yet there’s a wall of corporate cash lurking on the sidelines, which could curb further bond losses.

Demand from pension funds “should help cap the path of long-end rates ultimately,” Shahid Ladha, head of Group-of-10 rates strategy for the Americas at BNP Paribas SA, told Bloomberg Television Monday. “In terms of their appetite and possible support to U.S. fixed income, we have seen an average of $10 billion a quarter or $40 billion a year.” However, demand this month has been below average -- so it has room to pickup, he added. 

Ten-year U.S. rates climbed through 2.75% Monday for the first time since March 2019, following a wave of rising yields in Europe as traders intensified global bets on aggressive rate hikes from major central banks. While benchmark rates may climb even higher, likely breaking above the 3%, demand for Treasuries will probably resurface, Ladha said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When there was $17 trillion in negative yielding debt very few investors were worried about the surety of long-term losses. They were too interested in short-term momentum driven gains to give much thought to the long-term.



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April 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Two Oil Supertanker Giants Combine to Form World's Largest Fleet

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

Frontline Ltd. and Euronav NV are considering an all-stock merger that would produce the world’s biggest tanker fleet, just as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drives a recovery in the market.

The creation of a tanker behemoth -- capable of carrying the equivalent of about 100 days of German daily oil demand -- would come at an opportune moment. With shippers shunning Russian vessels, demand for other carriers is increasing, boosting a market that’s languished for more than a year.

Shares of both Frontline and Euronav have rallied this year, valuing a combined tanker company at more than $4.2 billion.

“A combination of Frontline and Euronav would establish a market leader in the tanker market and position the combined group for continued shareholder value creation in addition to significant synergies,” John Fredriksen, who owns a 39% stake in Frontline, said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index remains on a recovery trajectory since Russia’s fleet is having difficulty moving around. The Index hit a new 14-year high on Friday. Meanwhile Brent crude oil prices are back below $100 and likely to fall further as China’s demand outlook worsens. That begs the question how long the surge in tanker prices will last.  



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April 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Altcoins' Lead Crypto Lower as Bitcoin Drops to Three-Week Low

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

Cryptocurrency losses accelerated, with popular Defi tokens such as Cardano and Avalanche falling more than sector bellwether Bitcoin, as risk aversion sweeps through financial markets. 

Bitcoin dropped as much as 6.1% to $40,510, the first time the largest cryptocurrency by market value has been below $41,000 since March 22. Ether, the second largest, was down as much as 9.5%, dipping below $3,000. Altcoin, or alternative coin, Luna was down around 8.4%, while Avalanche was off 10% and Cardano slumped 11%. 

Since peaking at just above $48,000 in late March, Bitcoin -- and other tokens -- have been dragged lower by concerns about tighter monetary policy. Even the buzz around last week’s Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami wasn’t enough to reverse the trend. 

“Historically, altcoins have a tendency to over perform Bitcoin to the downside in strong bearish trading environments,” said Josh Olszewicz, head of research at crypto investment firm Valkyrie.  “Altcoin trading participants often have less longer-term conviction.” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Miami crypto conference concluded over the weekend with some very bullish forecasts for both the price and role of cryptocurrencies in the economy of the future. It’s not uncommon for big bullish gatherings like this to create demand for the sector. The challenge in the near-term is the market is very liquidity dependent. Bitcoin tends to do well when liquidity is both cheap and abundant. That’s not currently the case.



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April 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Is Crafting a Crisis Tool to Deploy If Bond Yields Jump

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

The ECB’s behind-the-scenes preparations hint at how officials are bracing for the moment when bond markets will need to cope without large-scale interventions for the first time after more than seven years of nearly uninterrupted asset purchases. 

Policy makers stopped emergency bond-buying last month and aim to halt regular quantitative easing in the third quarter.

The creation of a new crisis tool against a relatively benign market backdrop might mark a rare moment of the ECB getting ahead of the game rather than catching up under duress. By contrast, former President Mario Draghi’s OMT measure in 2012 and the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program in 2020 were unveiled after financial turmoil had engulfed the region. 

Already last year, policy makers discussed a precautionary instrument to prepare for so-called fragmentation risks, with officials from the region’s periphery lobbying for an unconditional purchase backstop, while peers from core countries insisted on some strings attached.

The debate was resolved when the Governing Council deemed in December that extra flexibility in reinvesting bonds maturing from its emergency portfolio would be sufficient. But the imminent end of QE and heightened uncertainty about the implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine has reignited concerns among some policy makers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Financial repression comes in many shapes and forms. At its simplest it means holding down interest rates, so inflation runs hot and reduces the burden of paying back fixed interest debt. When that is accompanied by lower government spending, it can erode debt relative to GDP quite quickly.



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April 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

London market blocks newly refined Russian platinum and palladium

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

Newly refined Russian platinum and palladium was suspended from trading in London from Friday, denying access to the metals’ biggest trade hub in the latest in a growing list of measures against Russian interests because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Prices of palladium surged as much as 11%, with traders fearing the move could worsen a shortage of the metal automakers use in exhaust pipes to reduce emissions.

Russia’s Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) produces 25-30% of the world’s palladium supply and about 10% its platinum, which is also used to curb vehicle emissions as well as in other industries and to make jewelry.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Palladium went on an epic bull run between 2016 and 2020 which took the price from $500 to $2500. The logic for the move was consumers were suddenly insensitive to price. Car companies would normally have spent the money to substitute in platinum long before the price hit $2500. On this occasion they instead spent money on retooling to build electric vehicles so there was no effort made to substitute demand for palladium.



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April 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

State of Venture

This report from CBInsights may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

$143.9B Total funding for Q1’22. Global funding to startups reached $143.9B in Q1’22, a 19% drop compared to the record-breaking Q4’21 — the largest percentage fall since Q3'12. However, Q1’22 was still the fourth-largest quarter for funding on record and its total was 7% higher than the same quarter in 2021.

113 New unicorns. Q1'22 saw the birth of 113 new unicorns globally — a 5-quarter low and a slight drop from the 115 unicorns born a year ago in Q1'21. US and Europe accounted for most of the new unicorns, with 67 and 20 unicorn births, respectively. The highest-valued new unicorn was the US-based visual collaboration company Miro, with a valuation of $17.5B.

49% Of all funding goes to the US. US-based startups received 49% of global funding in Q1’22, with a quarterly total of $71.2B. Despite accounting for almost half of all dollars invested, Q1’22 US funding marked a 5-quarter low for the country. US-based startups also drove a significant proportion of the deal activity, accounting for 37% of all deals in Q1’22.

160% Climb in valuations. So far in 2022, companies raising new financing have gained a median valuation increase of 2.6x compared to their prior financing rounds. Median valuations of early and mid-stage deals also trended up, reaching $34M and $343M, respectively. For late-stage deals, however, the median valuation dropped to $1,054M in 2022 YTD — barely above the $1B mark crossed for the first time in 2021.

-45% Drop in public exits. The number of exits via SPACs and IPOs decreased by 45% QoQ in Q1’22, while M&A activity remained elevated with 2,983 deals in total. US-based startups accounted for 40% of all exit activity in the quarter, followed by Europe at 34%.

120 Tiger funded cos. Top investor. Tiger Global Management continued to be the most active investor in Q1’22. The firm invested in 120 companies, up from 107 in Q4’21. The largest investment Tiger participated in was a $1B Series D round to Checkout.com with 12 co-investors.

91 IPOs in Asia, more than any region. Asia led globally in terms of IPOs, which were down for every region this quarter. Asia based companies accounted for 9/10 of the top IPOs in Q1'22, including 8 China-based companies. The largest IPO came from South Korean LG Energy Solutions, which exited at a valuation of $98B.

-30% Decrease in megaround funding. Mega-rounds accounted for less total funding and fewer deals this quarter, consistent with broader VC trends. At $73.6B, total megaround funding represented just over half of all venture dollars invested in Q1'22, down from 59% in Q4'21.

71% Jump in Philadelphia funding. Quarterly funding is down across all major cities and tech hubs in the US, except for Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas. Among them, Philadelphia and Atlanta based startups saw the largest jumps in funding at 71% and 30%, respectively.

20% Of funding goes to fintech. 1 out of every 5 dollars in funding went to fintech in Q1’22, despite investment in the sector shrinking quarter-over-quarter. The retail sector came second, accounting for 17% of all venture funding in Q1'22.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Discount rates don’t matter until they do. SPAC, IPO and every other “innovation” focused asset has experienced a deep pullback over the last six months. That’s entirely due to jumps in yields which reintroduced a discount rate to valuations.



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April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brookfield to Purchase CDK for $6.4 Billion in All-Cash Deal

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

Brookfield Business Partners agreed to buy CDK Global Inc., a provider of software for auto dealerships, in an all-cash deal with an equity value of $6.4 billion.

The investment company said it will pay $54.87 a share for Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based CDK, according to a statement Thursday. The price was 12% higher than CDK’s closing price Wednesday, and 30% above where CDK traded on Feb. 18, just before speculation surfaced regarding a potential sale of the company. CDK shares rose 11% to $54.50 at 9:45 a.m. in New York.

“CDK’s board of directors carefully evaluated a range of strategic and financial alternatives over several months and determined that this transaction is superior to all other available alternatives,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich said in the statement. 

Brookfield, which has about $690 billion of assets under management, said the CDK transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter. The deal’s enterprise value is $8.3 billion, according to the statement. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two parts to every private equity company. The first is what they already own and how the valuation for those holdings has been arrived at. The second is availability of fresh capital to make new purchases and the valuation of what they are in the market for acquiring.



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April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Sidesteps Sanctions to Supply Energy to Willing World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

One Trend Must Change Soon to Avoid a UK Recession

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

If the economy is going to avoid recession this year, consumers will need to dip into savings accumulated during the pandemic. So far, the evidence suggests this hasn’t happened. That’s worrying given the deep cost-of-living crisis facing the country.

It’s well documented that the combination of enforced saving during lockdowns and massive government income protection programs has seen household balance sheets to balloon over the past two years.

The cash, once seen as rocket fuel for the recovery, is now being viewed as a way for households to maintain the volume of goods and services they consume while inflation spirals.

That’s what made the latest credit data from the Bank of England all the more concerning. As yet, consumers have shown no willingness to dip into the 200 billion pound slush fund they have amassed even though inflation continues to run well ahead of income growth.

With inflation set to accelerate further those cash reserves will need to be drawn on if the economy is going to avoid falling off a cliff. In our forecast, we have assumed 10% of the stock of deposits is used over the next year, when the hit to spending power will be at its most intense. Consumption still contracts on a quarterly basis in 2Q and 4Q, but the economy avoids recession. About 25% of the pandemic savings are used over our whole forecast period to 2025.

Of course, it may be that as the squeeze on household budgets intensifies, it forces people to use the cash. It’s also possible that rather than run down assets, households borrow. For low income workers, who weren’t able to bolster their savings during the pandemic, that may be the only option if they want to maintain their spending. With that in mind, it was notable that the same credit data showed a big increase in unsecured net borrowing.

Still, with consumer confidence at levels that are normally associated with recessions, the worry is that caution prevails and the economy takes a far bigger hit than we expect this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Economic statistics are good at giving some visibility on aggregate numbers but terrible at displaying divergences in opportunity. £200 billion in excess saving ignores the fact most people do not savings. The reality is higher prices mean many people have to make hard decisions about consumption.



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April 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 8th 2022

April 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

If Stocks Don't Fall, the Fed Needs to Force Them

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

So far, the Fed’s removal of stimulus hasn’t had much effect on financial conditions. The S&P 500 index is down only about 4% from its peak in early January, and still up a lot from its pre-pandemic level. Similarly, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note stands at 2.5%, up just 0.75 percentage point from a year ago and still way below the inflation rate. This is happening because market participants expect higher short-term rates to undermine economic growth and force the Fed to reverse course in 2024 and 2025 — but these very expectations are preventing the tightening of financial conditions that would make such an outcome more likely.

Investors should pay closer attention to what Powell has said: Financial conditions need to tighten. If this doesn’t happen on its own (which seems unlikely), the Fed will have to shock markets to achieve the desired response. This would mean hiking the federal funds rate considerably higher than currently anticipated. One way or another, to get inflation under control, the Fed will need to push bond yields higher and stock prices lower.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Fed and ex-Fed officials appear to have all been given the same talking points. They are willing to break something if that is what is required to bring inflation down. Reactions of 20% have historically been enough to create deflationary growth fears and for the Fed to relent.



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April 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper: Supply meets demand concerns

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Ranging prices contribute to analysts hedging their bets of which direction prices are likely to breakout and how much they are likely to move. Nevertheless, by suggesting a strike on put options of $9750, which coincides with the trend mean, they are effectively saying give the benefit of the doubt to the upside provided it continues to hold that level.



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April 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Did That Happen?

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brainard Says Fed to Shrink Balance Sheet Rapidly as Soon as May

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

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard called the task of reducing inflation pressures “paramount” and said the central bank will raise interest rates steadily while starting balance sheet reduction as soon as next month.

The Federal Open Market Committee “will continue tightening monetary policy methodically through a series of interest rate increases and by starting to reduce the balance sheet at a rapid pace as soon as our May meeting,” Brainard said on Tuesday in remarks prepared for a speech to the Minneapolis Fed. 

“Given that the recovery has been considerably stronger and faster than in the previous cycle, I expect the balance sheet to shrink considerably more rapidly than in the previous recovery, with significantly larger caps and a much shorter period to phase in the maximum caps compared with 2017–19,” she added. Officials next meet May 3-4.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Quantitative tightening causes deflation. Everywhere it has been tried, that has been the result. If you have an inflationary problem, sucking liquidity out of the system is a good way to get it under control. Arguably, it is much more effective than raising rates. In the process, demand will fall, and growth will deteriorate. It will also reduce the number of interest hikes that need to be enacted.



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New York Jet Fuel Soars to New Height as Inventories Dwindle

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold, gold shares and Rolls Royce

Today, there is an unusual discrepancy between GDX (-1.43%) and GDXJ (-0.27%), usually it is the other way around. Gold futures are up 0.64%.

Is there something the "big money" (presumably in GDX) knows about upcoming developments in Gold or miners?

You have not talked about your position in RR? Just keeping indefinitely?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to subscribers. Gold continues to pause around the psychological $1900 level. In any range the bullish and bearish arguments return to equilibrium.

At present the competing arguments are that gold should do well because central banks have been backed into a corner by rampant money printing and will be unable to raise rates enough to fix the inflation issue. The competing negative view is gold faces an increasing headwind for rising yields.



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April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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



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April 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

California Wants to Pay Farmers to Not Farm This Year

This article from Modern Farmer may be interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

This year, California farmers have been given a financial incentive to not plant crops.

Much of the state is already experiencing extreme drought conditions. As part of a $2.9-billion plan to try to keep water flowing in California rivers, the state will pay farms to keep thousands of acres vacant this growing season. 

Both state and federal officials, as well as some major water companies in the region, signed the plan on Tuesday. Their hope is to keep upwards of 824,000 acre-feet of water every year in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The Capital Press explains that one acre-foot of water adds up to around 325,000 gallons of water—or typically enough to supply water to two households for a year.

The most impacted sector will be the rice industry, as the plan would leave 35,000 acres of rice fields in the northern Central Valley—adding up to about six percent of the yearly crop—unused.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The conversion of acre feet quoted above doesn’t appear to be accurate but reducing the acreage of rice planted by 6% is a significant event.



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April 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Barclay's $600 Million Blunder Follows Years of U.S. Run-Ins

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

Barclays Plc’s $600 million structured products blunder has little precedent on Wall Street. But the bank’s past misconduct may have set the stage for the paperwork fail it revealed this week.

A key issue at the heart of the regulatory breach appears to be its loss of the so-called well-known seasoned issuer status in 2017, a right granted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that allows banks to sell notes in the U.S. with fewer filing requirements. 

Since 2007, Barclays had faced the risk of losing this right at least five times in the aftermath of issues from dark pool disclosures to foreign exchange manipulation, an analysis by Bloomberg News shows. The bank had to repeatedly engage with the SEC over it and apply for waivers, so it didn’t lose this classification.

Barclays isn’t the only bank to have engaged in such back-and-forth with regulators, and the loss of the WKSI approval explains how a limit breach could happen. But the years-long battle to keep that status raises ever more questions over how it could have overlooked one of the most expensive clerical errors ever. 

The oversight is landing the bank with about 450 million pounds ($600 million) in expected expenses from buying back unregistered securities the bank sold, a halt to a booming U.S. business, possible regulatory fines that will deepen the pain, and a delay to a highly anticipated stock buyback.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The raft of additional regulatory hurdles imposed on banks following the credit crisis necessitates having an army of personnel on hand to make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed. It surprising how few banks have come in for active censure for failing to comply fully with regulations. Barclay’s is certainly being punished for its transgression by investors.



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April 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Supply Shock vs. Demand Destruction: Commodities Face Lose-Lose

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bloomberg analysts. Here is a section:

Commodities can be their own worst enemies when they get too far out over their skis, and we see 2022 risks akin to 2008's pump and dump. Energy prices may inch higher or collapse, the latter typical amid similar supply-shock spikes. What's different now is the U.S. paradigm shift to largest energy producer and net exporter from the top importer. Embracing technology is a primary reason, and the war and high prices should accelerate existing trends away from a world reliant on fossil fuels, notably from mercurial sources. Copper and base metals are subject to demand destruction and reversion risks along with crude oil, in addition to central banks fighting inflation. A record Corn Belt crop this year is likely, but it may not be enough to cover production lost to the war. Gold may be a primary beneficiary.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The oldest adage in the commodity markets is “the cure for high prices is high prices”. Under normal circumstances demand surges during prolonged periods of economic and supply struggles to keep up. The inflationary pressures high prices incur forces central banks to take action. Commodity bull markets often end with new supply reaching market at the same time as demand evaporates due to high interest rates.



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 31st 2022

March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia's Other War of Attrition Is Against Europe

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Central Bank Tempts Fate on Rates and Traders Follow Suit

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

The drop in Brazil’s swap rates goes against the move seen elsewhere in emerging markets, with yields rising across the board following the U.S. bond rout. Treasury yields surged recently with traders pricing in more tightening in the world’s biggest economy amid concern about rising prices. 

“BCB has raised rates almost 1,000 basis points in two years, so they are certainly willing to fight inflation,” said Brendan Mckenna, a currency strategist at Wells Fargo in New York. “There is little they can do to defend against external shocks, but at some point policy makers have to wait for the effects of tighter policy to materialize.”

Brazil’s policy makers defied analyst expectations when it said that a final 100 basis-point rate hike in May would be enough to bring inflation back toward the 3.25% target next year. The last central bank weekly Focus survey shows economists see consumer prices running at 3.8% next year.

“The central bank was being held hostage of the Focus survey forecasts and now it decided to follow its own views,” said Tony Volpon, chief strategist at Wealth High Governance and a former central bank director.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the developed world there is no prospect of raising rates to a level above inflation. Everyone understands growth would reverse well before that point is ever reached. Economies are so overburdened with debt that even modest interest rates will kill off demand.



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 30th 2022

March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Climbs From One-Month Low After Strong U.S. Jobs Data

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

Gold climbed from its lowest in a month as real yields declined following a strong U.S. jobs report that underlined inflationary pressures in the economy.

ADP Research Institute data indicated higher wages are helping fill a near-record number of vacancies in America, potentially stoking price pressures. Market-based measures of inflation expectations climbed after the report, trimming real bond yields and supporting gold.

The Federal Reserve’s increasingly aggressive approach to curbing inflation is still weighing on the non-interest bearing precious metal. Philadelphia Fed Bank President Patrick Harker said Tuesday that he expects a series of “deliberate, methodical” rate increases this year, but is open to a half-point move in May if inflation accelerates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The yield curve inverted during yesterday’s trading session. That started the clock on the beginning of the next recession. It’s a reliable lead indicator for future trouble with anything from a six to eighteen-month timeframe.



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March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taliban eye investment by Chinese

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

But the project got tied up in logistical and contract problems, and it never got past some initial test shafts before it ground to a halt when Chinese staff left in 2014 because of continued violence.

Months after the Taliban seized Kabul in August, consolidating power over the country, the group’s newly installed acting Minister for Mining and Petroleum Shahbuddin Dilawar urged his staff to re-engage Chinese state-run companies.

Ziad Rashidi, the ministry’s director of foreign relations, approached the consortium made up by MCC, China Metallurgical Group Corporation and Jiangxi Copper Ltd. Dilawar has had two virtual meetings with MCC in the last six months, according to company and ministry officials. He urged them to return to the mine, terms unchanged from the 2008 contract.

A technical committee from MCC is due in Kabul in the coming weeks to address the remaining obstacles. Relocating the artifacts is key. But MCC is also seeking to renegotiate terms, particularly to reduce taxes and slash the 19.5% royalty rate by nearly half, the percentage owed to the government per ton of copper sold.

“Chinese companies see the current situation as ideal for them. There is a lack of international competitors and a lot of support from the government side,” Rashidi said.

China’s ambassador to Afghanistan has said talks are ongoing, but nothing more. Acquiring rare minerals is key for Beijing to maintain its standing as a global manufacturing powerhouse. While stopping short of recognizing the Taliban government, China has stood out from the international community by calling for the unfreezing of Afghan assets and has kept its diplomatic mission running in Kabul.

For Afghanistan, the contract at Mes Aynak could bring in $250 to $300 million per year to state revenues, a 17% increase, as well as $800 million in fees over the length of the contract, according to government and company officials. That’s a significant sum as the country grapples with widespread poverty, exacerbated by financial shortfalls after the Biden administration froze Afghan assets and international organizations halted donor funds. Some have since resumed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Taliban needs cash and China needs resources. That suggests there is room for an agreement. China’s treatment of the Uighur minority is unlikely to get in the way of real politik. China has the capital, market and will to do what is necessary to get projects done.



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March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Dodges Nickel Crisis With Secret Deal to Get Supplies

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

“What Tesla has done with nickel is a hidden competitive advantage,” said Gene Munster, managing partner of Loup Ventures. “Tesla continues to be a couple of steps ahead of the rest.”

Musk has repeatedly flagged nickel supply as the company’s biggest concern as it boosts output, and the metal’s availability is a source of anxiety throughout the EV sector.

Battery-sector demand for nickel is expected to jump to about 1.5 million tons in 2030 from 400,745 tons this year, according to Bloomberg NEF.

“Please mine more nickel,” Musk urged producers on an earnings call two years ago. “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla’s management deserves credit for ensuring they have access to the resources needed to make production targets. Tesla’s vertically integrated business model is what the conventional auto sector used to do. Ford closed its last steel plant nearly thirty years ago. Selling steel to the major US automakers now represents the bulk of Cleveland Cliffs’ revenue.

As the geopolitical environment grows progressively more complicated, and competition for access to supply of copper, nickel, lithium, manganese and cobalt intensify, inventory management is going to become more important for major industrial companies.



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March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 29th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: inverted yield curve and recession probability within 18 months. oil and gold steady following initial declines, stocks rebound, led by the speculative sector, Europe continues to rebound with a stronger Euro, Dollar and bond yields ease. 



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March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Says Wait and See on a Russian Pullback

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

(Don't Fear) The Yield Curve, Reprise

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

It is not valid to interpret inverted term spreads as independent measures of impending recession. They largely reflect the expectations of market participants. Among various terms spreads to consider, the 2-10 spread offers a particularly muddled view. Especially in the present circumstances when the 2-10 spread is very much out of step with the near-term forward spread, which offers a much more precise view of market expectations over the next year and a half, it is difficult to concoct a reason to be concerned about the flattening of the 2-10 spread. In contrast, if and when the near-term spread does contract, we know that investors will then be expecting a cessation in monetary policy tightening. While such a shift in expectations could well be precipitated by future concerns about a recession, that need not be the case. A more benign cause would be a marked easing in inflation and inflation expectations that allow for a cessation of policy firming.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The benign outcome is more often referred to as a soft landing. The 10-2 year spread closed at 1 basis point and was inverted for a brief period intraday. The 10-year-3-month is at 189 basis points which is an historically wide diversion.



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March 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on miners

Having subscribed for 20 plus years, firstly many thanks for your excellent advice. A quick question, appreciating that you are not a tip sheet. I have followed your comments of late with observations on particularly copper and to a lesser extent nickel.

I have looked in the Chart library and there are records of trading in copper, but it seems few actual copper mines. I have in fact invested in two companies that have done very well.

I am just wondering if there are other operating mines that perhaps are not in the chart library, or perhaps some I have missed that might be alternatives to those I have invested in. Incidentally the two I have purchased, approx six months back are behaving very well!!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your long-term patronage and I am delighted to hear your investments are doing well. A while back, I partially recreated my favourites in the public portion of the Chart Library under the Eoin’s Favourites section. Here is a link.

You’ll find sections devoted to copper miners, small cap copper miners, nickel miners, lithium producers, battery materials companies and a host of additional subsectors.

 



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March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Private market transaction prices down -10%

This blog post from Forge may be of interest so subscribers. Here is a section:

In February, we reported that seller interest outpaced buyer interest on the Forge platform as the broader market downturn led more employees to inquire about selling their vested equity.

These trends now show up in completed transactions. On average, prices in February fell –10% for companies that traded on Forge Markets in both Q4 2021 and February 2022.2 Meanwhile, the Renaissance IPO ETF, which holds many of the newest public tech companies, lost –28.4% from the beginning of October through the end of February.3

Although some softening has started to appear in the private market, the overall picture does not suggest overreaction. Decreasing prices may be new territory for some pre-IPO shareholders, but they seem to be proceeding cautiously. For investors, more sellers participating in the private market may yield a better opportunity to land shares of pre-IPO companies at favorable prices.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Since the 2009 lows, the value of private companies has surged as successive waves of new money chased the promise of outsized returns. The persistence of the low interest rate environment and central bank willingness to increase money supply have been central factors in supporting valuations. 



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March 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOJ Steps Into Market to Cap Yields Amid Global Bond Selloff

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

The BOJ’s yield curve control framework aims to cap the 10-year yield, while allowing more flexibility for longer-tenor yields. There’s also talk among traders over whether the BOJ will act to bring down yields for longer-tenor bonds.

“Focus turns to whether the BOJ will also try to control 20- or 30-year maturities, but it’s likely the bank will tolerate the rise in these super-long yields,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo. “By firmly capping 10-year yields, the BOJ can send a signal that it’s keeping an eye on market developments.”

The 30-year yield matched a six-year high of 0.995% reached last month. 

The central bank has kept planned purchase amounts for all maturities including super-long bonds steady since July after tweaking operation schedule to quarterly from monthly. It will announce the April-June plan on Thursday.

The BOJ is expected to continue conducting unlimited fixed-rate bond buying particularly when there is risk of scheduled events of data driving U.S. yields higher after Tokyo session ends, such as U.S. jobs data due on April 1, minutes of FOMC’s March meeting and U.S. CPI.

“How high Japanese yields will rise depends on U.S. yields and the BOJ will likely automatically seek to cap yields if there are anticipated risks of overseas yields climbing,” Daiwa’s Iwashita said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Bank of Japan continues to target a single point on the yield curve, but every other portion is rising. At present, the curve’s shape remains steep and moving from lower left to upper right which is consistent with easy policy. That begs the question whether continued BoJ activity will create a belly in the curve. That could create an even more distorted picture of Japan’s rising inflationary pressures.



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March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Powell-Backed Yield Curve Gives Fed Cover to Go Max Hawkish

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

The near-term forward spread measures the difference between bets on where the three-month rate will be in 18 months’ time and that same rate today. That curve, along with the more traditional three-month, 10-year spread, has steepened to multi-year highs, spurred by expectations that a hawkish Fed may frontload interest-rate increases, taking the federal funds rate to about 2.8% at the end of 2023. 

A 2018 Fed research paper highlighted that the shorter-term yield curve eliminates complicating factors like the so-called term premium, and thus gives a cleaner read on market expectations for future monetary policy. In effect, the gauge would only invert when a large cohort of investors expected rate cuts on the basis of slowing growth. Previous Fed research has found it has a better predictive power than other parts of the curve -- a conclusion the chair endorsed Monday. 

History has shown that when the force of a Fed tightening cycle causes a yield-curve inversion, it foreshadows a pending recession as consumer spending and business activity increasingly buckles under the weight of policy tightening.

Campbell Harvey was one of the first to historically show the link, with his work on the three-month, 10-year spread -- which has inverted before each of the past eight U.S. recessions. These days, the professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is concerned about growing threats to the U.S. recovery, even though his beloved spread is not yet flashing “code red.”

High inflation and “geopolitical risk -- which we haven’t even felt the economic outcome of yet, besides at the gas pump -- is all acting like a tax,” Harvey said. “It all indicates slower economic growth.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cherry picking the one part of the yield curve that is not at danger of inverting seems to be intellectually dishonest to this observer. Instead, we should be attempting to answer the question why 3-month yields are so depressed.



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March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Worsening Virus Threatens Commodities Supply and Demand

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Revolution in British Meritocracy

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

Nowadays, Brampton Manor Academy regularly gets as many pupils into Oxbridge as Eton College, the alma mater of Cameron, Johnson and the majority of the privileged faces staring out from the 1987 photograph. It does this by dint of high-expectations and relentless discipline. Pupils arrive early in the morning and stay on into the evening in order to accumulate extracurricular activities. Slacking is not tolerated. Pupils are expected to be smartly dressed and always on the ball. Eton — the quintessential, privately-funded British public school — charges about £50,000 a year and selects from the whole world. Brampton Manor charges nothing and selects from one of the poorest boroughs in London. The majority of pupils are from ethnic minorities and one in five gets free school lunches because of their parents’ low incomes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Education is a contentious subject for politicians, because everyone wants the best for their children despite the fact levels of academic ability vary widely. That desire to secure the best opportunities for one’s offspring has to be married with society’s need to find and nurture the best brains.



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Year Ahead In Crypto

This note from Panterra Capital may be of interest to subscribers. It is more of a retrospective look at what happened in 2021 but includes some interesting copy on the broad macro environment. Here is a section:

The next step in their complicated minuet – after “taper” comes “run off”.  That’s not going to get it done either.  The Fed’s holdings make it impossible to fight inflation by waiting for higher interest rates based on runoff.  More than 97% of the $2.6 trillion in mortgage-backed securities owned by the Fed won’t mature for at least ten years.  Only 20% of the Fed’s $5.6 trillion in Treasury securities will come due in the next year.  42% have maturity dates longer than five years out.

And

“Inflation persistently below its goal”?  This is embarrassingly behind the curve.  Measured inflation is at 7.0%.  That includes the spurious owners’ equivalent rent of only 3.1%.  If real housing inflation were included it would be double-digits – all 1970’s style.  (The lagged effect of true housing inflation will show up in CPI over the next two years.)

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed is talking about accelerating pace of the balance sheet run off. With 20% of its holdings maturing in the next 12 months, that offers significant leeway to make run-off the primary tool for restricting inflationary pressures.



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Oil Crisis is Unfolding in Slow Motion

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Navy Growth: Massive Expansion Of Important Shipyard

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

The incredible growth of the Chinese Navy has seen several shipyards expanded already. Jiangnan shipyard, which is situated next to the new site, has itself been expanded massively in recent years. Added to this, new facilities to build large numbers of submarines has been set up near Wuhan. And the nuclear submarine facilities at Huludao have also been massively expanded. Now the new work at Jiangnan takes this further still.

The new facilities will dramatically increase capacity at the yard. It is expected to have a basin for fitting out ships and a large multi-berth dry dock.

A Fleet of 6 Aircraft Carriers

The U.S. Navy expects that the Chinese Navy may operate 6 aircraft carriers by 2040. Currently only two are operational, built at Dalian in Northern China. But the third, the improved and enlarged Type-003, is under construction at Jiangnan. It seems likely that one or more of the additional carriers will also be built at Jiangnan.

One hypothesis is that China will build nuclear powered aircraft carriers. These may be even larger still than the Type-003, which is anyway almost the same size as the U.S. Navy’s Ford Class. The larger ship, and new technologies involved, may dictate a new construction site. This is one explanation for the new site.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an abundance of evidence to suggest we are going to be living in a more volatile geopolitical environment for the foreseeable future.



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Treasury to Raise $36 Billion More Tax Despite Sunak's Cuts

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

The U.K. Treasury will pocket about 27 billion pounds ($36 billion) more a year in revenue than previously forecast despite eye-catching tax cuts on pay announced in its Spring economic statement on Wednesday.

The figures, buried in documents from the Treasury and Office for Budget Responsibility, leave Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presiding over the highest tax burden since Clement Attlee’s Labour government in 1949.

The record gave lobby groups across the political spectrum ammunition to criticise Sunak’s handling of the public finances at a time when households are facing their biggest cost-of-living squeeze in at least three decades. 

“The Treasury is taking with one hand to give away with the other,” said John O’Connell, chief executive officer of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a consumer pressure group. “Cutting income tax down the line will be easily offset by the upcoming national insurance hike and freezing income tax thresholds, leaving taxpayers out of pocket overall.”

In his statement to Parliament, Sunak increased the payroll tax threshold at a cost of 6 billion pounds reduced the basic rate of income tax to 19% from 20%, handing households 5 billion pounds from the 2024-25 fiscal year. 

Despite the giveaways, Sunak will raise 7 billion pounds more a year from taxes on wages than previously expected, the OBR said. The independent budget watchdog also assumes solid growth in corporate profits, which will generate an extra 6 billion pounds a year on average compared with October. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Inflation gives cover to governments to look like they are cutting taxes while in fact increasing them. If the tax bands are held steady and inflation rises more people fall into the higher brackets as wages play catchup. The fact wages don’t quite keep up with inflation means consumers come out worse off.



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Demands Ruble Payment for Gas, Escalating Energy Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Adobe's Lackluster Forecast Suggests Growing Competition

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

While Adobe is one of the industry’s longtime success stories, the maker of creative and marketing software has faced rare investor skepticism recently over fears that businesses are reducing their spending on such tools and rivals are making in-roads among new customers. The stock has dropped 18% since its last earnings report on Dec. 16, closing Tuesday at $466.45 in New York. Shares declined about 2% in extended trading.

Adobe is in the midst of revising prices for its signature creative suite, the first major overhaul since 2017, said Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen. The new structure will reflect features Adobe has added in the past five years, including new collaboration capabilities, executives said. The impact will be seen in revenue in the second half of the fiscal year, they said.

“It was time to take a very comprehensive look,” Narayen said on a conference call after the results were released. “We want to continue to attract hundreds of millions to the platform, but we also want to get value for the tremendous innovation we’ve provided.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Adobe transformed its fortunes with investors by adopting a subscription business model. The Photoshop service that used to cost thousands of dollars was suddenly much more accessible and every upgrade was instantly available to subscribers. The transition coincided with the evolution of ecommerce and the mobile telecommunications revolution and Adobe’s profits took off.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Now That Powell's Convinced Markets He Means It

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

Market-based expectations for how the Fed moves its target fed funds rate have also broken out. The shift in expectations has come with breathtaking swiftness. The following chart shows implicit expectations for rates after each of the next seven meetings as they stood on Dec. 31, where they had moved by the day the tanks entered Ukraine, and where they are now:

Bear in mind that as the year began, CPI had already topped 7% for the first time in four decades. It’s remarkable both how long it took for investors to come around to expecting a sharp monetary tightening, and how swiftly that realization has now taken root.

What does this imply for asset allocation? Higher bond yields tend to be bad news for stocks if they are part of a Fed tightening, and make high stock valuations harder to justify. However, expectations of a more aggressive Fed are even worse for bonds. The mathematics of the bond market on this point is
inexorable. If rates and yields are going up, then bond prices have to come down.

And, indeed, just as those who’ve been saying There Is No Alternative (to stocks) would have predicted, this news has been far worse for bonds than stocks, meaning that the returns for those who are long in stocks relative to bonds have surged to yet another new high:
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a significant anomaly developing in the bond markets. 2-year and 10-year yields are ramping higher on the expectation of future inflation and much higher rates. 3-month bills are also rising but at a much more sedate pace. The rate is currently at 0.5% which approximates the Fed Funds rate. That’s an oddity because investors are increasingly convinced a 50-basis point in May is a certainty.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Half-hearted sanctions against Russia have already failed

This article by Ambrose Evans Pritchard for the Telegraph may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Goldman’s deep-dive into the effect of sanctions ought to end all wishful thinking. The US investment bank forecasts that the Russian economy will contract by 10pc this year, a bad recession but not an economic breakdown.

Growth will then recover to 2.4pc next year and 3.4pc in 2024 as the country adjusts. Exports will be back to 98pc of prior levels by early next year. If so, Putin is not going to lose sleep over this.

Russia’s trade will mostly be diverted rather than destroyed. There may even be some short-term growth stimulus as Russia replaces western goods with home-made manufactures. Putin has been building a fortress economy ever since the annexation of Crimea. Net foreign funding is negligible. Total public debt is 18pc of GDP, one of the lowest ratios in the world. 

Over four-fifths of GDP come from sectors that import just 15pc or less of their inputs, falling to 7pc in the mining industry. This is a radically different economic structure from western states such as Poland.

“If Russia were fully integrated into global supply chains, restrictions on imports and exports would be immediately destructive. However, Russia largely exports goods that are almost fully produced locally,” said Mr Grafe.

Iran endured tougher sanctions without buckling. Cornell professor Nick Mulder, author of The Economic Weapon, said the country settled into a new equilibrium within a couple of months. “If Iran’s experience is any guide, Russia will survive and return to lacklustre growth,” he said.

“Historically, sanctions have hardly ever been successful in stopping wars,” he said. A rare exception was the Balkan ‘war of the stray dog’ in 1925. Needless to say, Putin’s war on Ukraine is not a border skirmish. It is a long-planned attempt to overturn the post-Cold War settlement and alter the world’s balance of power.  

European ministers once again grappled with a hydrocarbon embargo – the fifth package of sanctions – at an EU meeting on Monday. Once again the proposals ran into resistance from Germany, with Italy and others happy to tuck in behind.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia continues to make coupon payments. That indicates it has the capital available to do so and avenues are open. Without cutting Russia off from the financial system and banning energy purchases, the country can continue to operate effectively. Due to its size and dominance of several key commodity markets, Russia has ample scope to cause mischief on a grand scale.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ray Dalio's Bridgewater reportedly backing a crypto fund means the world's largest hedge fund and one of Bitcoin's former skeptics is taking it seriously

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

“It has been an amazing accomplishment for Bitcoin to have achieved what it has done, not being hacked, having it work and having it adopted the way it has been,” he told MarketWatch in December. 

“I believe in the blockchain technology. … It has earned credibility.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This might be a case of “if you can’t beat um, join um”. The reality is as bond prices decline, money is pulling out and is looking for a home where its value will hold versus the declining purchasing power of fiat currencies.



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March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 21st 2022

March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Surges With Growing Supply Fears as EU Considers Russian Ban

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email on the day on world hunger

*Almost certainly widespread famine within a year*: _15% of world’s calories come from wheat. 1/3 of all wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine…_

Russia has banned export of wheat; a lot of wheat supply blocked. Whole planet earth operates on a 90-day food supply. Once we stop making food the world runs out in 90 days. Most vulnerable nations lose the supply first; very quickly a massive bifurcation. Already have 1bn living on under 1200 calories…

The even bigger problem is the future planting season. Wheat spring planting season is right now; not a lot of planting going on…

This is because of the fertilizer problem. All fertilizer is made up of nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. All farmers must use this. Without fertilizer crop does not grow. Nitrogen is made from natural gas. Nat Gas prices have doubled. The price of nitrogen-based fertilizer has gone from 200 per ton to 1000 per ton. 10% of world phosphate and 25% pf potash is from Russia and that has been banned for export. Prices on phosphate and potash have sky-rocketed too. Now it is so expensive to grow crop that farmers are pulling out of production.

The world is “scrambling” for food right now, corn, soybeans etc. skyrocketing. Strategic reserves of food being released now…

A bad weather year can be disastrous. Regardless, it will be a humanitarian disaster within 12 months and we will see hundreds of millions will go starving (think famine)

We just don’t have enough food. The way supply chains are set up just don’t work.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wheat prices accelerated to test the 2008 peak near 1200¢ and paused over the last week. War in Ukraine and the slow start, or potential absence, of a planting season are obviously major considerations for its customers. Russia’s efforts to capture the entire Black Sea coast are an additional obvious headwind to exports.



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March 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Dirty Secret of Inflation: Corporations Are Jacking Up Prices and Profits

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

From CNBC: Oil giant BP reports highest profit in 8 years on soaring commodity prices

From Reuters: Cereal maker Kellogg Co. forecast full-year profit growth above market expectations on Thursday, riding on higher product prices that helped overcome labor strike disruptions and soaring input costs in the fourth quarter.

From The New York Times: Procter & Gamble’s sales jump as consumers brush off rising prices.

From The Ticker: McDonald’s to raise prices despite record revenue

From Yahoo Finance: Amazon stock soars 15% after earnings, will hike Prime membership fee

US Senator Elizabeth Warren put the pieces together when Fed chair Jerome Powell appeared last month before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Offering a lesson in what she referred to as “Econ 101,” the senator from Massachusetts led Powell through a series of questions related to inflation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bond prices continue to accelerate lower with 10-year Treasury yields jumping nearly 15 basis points today. Stock markets remain reasonably steady in what is a clear role reversal. Usually, bonds do well in times of economic stress and the stocks decline. Right now, inflationary pressures are weighing heavily on bonds, but stocks are steadier because companies have successfully raised prices.



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March 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Living With Yield Curve Inversion

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

US Rates | An inverted curve by design, not by conundrum We expect 2y,5y, and 10y yields to end 2022at 2.75%,2.50%, and 2.40%, respectively, and see inverted curves across the entire UST space. We think markets are learning to live with yield curve inversion, and not necessarily extrapolating it as a sign of recession, given (1) the market's willingness to price restrictive policy – a terminal rate above the neutral rate – consistent with an inverted curve, and (2) the significant distortions from pension demand, QE, and flight to quality, making the curve artificially flat. We think investors eventually will accept an inverted curve as a natural consequence of interest rate policy moving toward restrictive territory faster than balance sheet policy moves toward neutral territory. Discussions of an impending recession will continue, but we expect confidence in that view to wane over time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The US yield curve is exceptionally flat from 2-years out to 30-year. Earlier this week the 5-year traded above the 10-year. That was the first inversion of any part of the curve in this cycle. This is not the only measure that is beginning to signal signs of stress.



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March 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOJ's Kuroda Waves the Green Flag for Further Yen Weakness

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

Now that the Bank of Japan has suggested that it isn’t losing sleep over a weaker currency, the yen may gravitate even lower.

The yen has lost more than 3% against the dollar so far this year despite the war, highlighting how its fundamentals have superseded its haven status. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda remarked earlier Friday that it is “wrong” to think that a weaker yen is negative for the economy and that the monetary authority doesn’t have a need to run forex policy. With no verbal or actual intervention to stop it, the yen faces little hurdle in weakening further toward 120, consistent with a call MLIV made at the start of the year.

The BOJ has also reiterated for good measure that inflation reaching 2% -- led by a surge in commodity prices -- is different from its goal of kindling demand and that the current cost-push inflation will in fact weaken the economy. In other words, the BOJ isn’t remotely thinking of changing its policy in the face of what it legitimately sees as temporary factors. That essentially means that real-rate differentials will continue to worsen in favor of the dollar, sending USD/JPY to 120. In fact, colleague Vassilis Karamanis cites technical indicators to suggest that the pair is well set-up to reach the January 2016 high of 121.69.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Japan has been trying to stoke inflation in the economy for years. Now that it has what it wants, it is going to err on the side of caution and allow prices pressures to force consumers to spend. There is no country that needs to reignite consumer activity more than Japan. From their perspective this is good news.



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March 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Dash for Trash' Fuels Big Bounce for Money-Losing Growth Stocks

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

No earnings? No problem.

That was the message from investors this week who stormed back into the shares of faster-growing companies with little in the way of profits after months of chasing value stocks. While major benchmarks rallied, a Goldman Sachs index of unprofitable tech companies was up 18% over the five sessions. That compares with a gain of 6.2% for the S&P 500 and 8.4% for the Nasdaq 100.

“A straightforward dash for trash” is how Bespoke Investment Group described it when explaining why smaller companies with the lowest return on assets and no dividends were among this week’s biggest gainers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Ark Innovation ETF bounced this week in an emphatic manner from the region of the of the pre pandemic peak. In doing so it fully unwound the big bull market and the upside weekly key reversal suggests investors are willing to bargain hunt.



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March 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 17th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics duscussed include: quantitative tightening creates deflation, questions remain about the extent of China's stimulus, Renminbi is too fiirm for large stimulus and the dollar is too weak if the market actually believes supply is going to be constrained. stocks continue to stready. 



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March 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater Executive Says Markets Pricing In "Magical Scenario"

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

stock and bond markets are betting on a “magical scenario” where economic expansion continues even while the Federal Reserve raises rates to combat inflation, said Bridgewater Associates executive Karen Karniol-Tambour. 

“If you look at history, that looks pretty unlikely,” Karniol-Tambour, the firm’s co-chief investment officer for sustainability, said Thursday in a Bloomberg Television interview.

She recommended that investors buy Treasury inflation-protected securities as well as commodities to hedge against rising prices and said nominal bonds are the “worst possible thing” investors can hold. 

Last month, Karniol-Tambour said the Fed would struggle to contain inflation even if it decided to raise rates five times this year. The central bank hiked by a quarter of a point Wednesday and signaled it would raise rates at each of its six remaining meetings this year. 

She added that current economic and financial conditions echo those of the 1970s, when high inflation was coupled with a geopolitical shock. 

“It’s just not pleasant to be in the Fed’s shoes and tighten into an exogenous supply shock in commodities that has to do with geopolitical events,” she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If the Fed begins to reduce the size of its balance sheet next month at a faster pace than the last time they attempted it, deflation will follow. There have only been a couple of examples of central banks reducing the size of their balance sheets. Every one has resulted in deflationary fears and sharply lower growth.



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March 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trafigura Seeks PE Funding as Commodity Surge Triggers Margin Calls

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

Trafigura Group, one of the world’s top oil and metals traders, has been holding talks with private equity groups to secure additional financing as soaring prices trigger giant margin calls across the commodities industry.

Trafigura has in recent weeks stepped up efforts to seek new funding from beyond its traditional group of bank lenders, according to people familiar with the matter.

The trader held talks with Blackstone Inc. for an investment of around $2 billion to $3 billion in preference shares or a similar hybrid instrument, but those talks ended without a deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were private. Trafigura has also approached Apollo Global Management Inc., BlackRock Inc. and KKR & Co., the people said.

The discussions with private equity firms have been broad-based, ranging from financing for specific projects to raising funding at a company level, the people said. There’s no certainty any of the discussions will progress to a deal, they said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Trafigura emerged from the last commodity bull market as the leader in commodity trading. As investment banks closed desks, sold warehouses and ships, the trading house stepped in and took market share. Today, most of the big trading houses for commodities are privately owned. They also do not have the balance sheets of banks. When volatility steps out to multiple standard deviations, models go awry.



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March 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Moderna kicks off Phase 1 trial of 3 different mRNA HIV vaccines

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

“Finding an HIV vaccine has proven to be a daunting scientific challenge,” said NIAID director Anthony Fauci, in a statement announcing the Phase 1 trial. “With the success of safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, we have an exciting opportunity to learn whether mRNA technology can achieve similar results against HIV infection.”

The Phase 1 trial will enroll around 100 healthy adults, with the initial goal of evaluating the safety and immune responses to three different mRNA vaccine formulations. Each subject will receive three doses of their assigned mRNA formulation over a six-month period.

In the same way mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are designed to train the immune system to respond to the spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, these experimental vaccines focus on the HIV equivalent of the spike protein antigen target, known as an envelope glycoprotein trimer.

This protein on the surface of HIV particles is much more complex that the coronavirus spike protein, so Moderna has developed three different mRNA formulations to test, each encoding for a slightly different protein architecture.

The trial is expected to run until mid-2023. By that point it is hoped one of the three formulations will have demonstrated robust immune responses and Phase 2 trials can commence.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This announcement holds out promise that an intransigent health issue can be addressed with a shot. It also highlights the fact that rushed permitting for COVID-19 vaccines is not about to be repeated. If the trials schedule discussed in the above article is followed, it will be a decade before a potential solution reaches market. It is also likely to be held to a much higher standard of proof.



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 16th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Fed raises rates, gold and bonds steady, stocks rebound, China announces support measures to arrest the downward acceleration in the stock market and high yield bonds, Dollar eases, Euro and Renminbi steady, Hang Seng surges, Europe and Japan firm from 1000-day MA. 

Please note: I will be travelling tomorrow and in meetings all day, so the video will probably be recorded later than usual. 



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Spurs Frantic Stock Buying With Lifeline for China Market

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Lifts Rates a Quarter Point and Signals More Hikes to Come

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

“The American economy is very strong and well positioned to handle tighter monetary policy,” Powell told a press conference Wednesday following a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. “We are attentive to the risks of further upward pressure on inflation and inflation expectations.” He also said that officials could move faster on policy tightening if needed.

The hike is likely the first of several to come this year, as the Fed said it “anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate,” and Powell repeated his pledge to be “nimble.”

“I saw a committee that is acutely aware of the need to return the economy to price stability,” he told reporters, characterizing the mood around the table as policy makers debated the outlook. “It is determined to use its tools to do so.”

In the Fed’s so-called dot plot, officials’ median projection was for the benchmark rate to end 2022 at about 1.9% -- in line with traders’ bets but higher than previously anticipated -- and then rise to about 2.8% in 2023. They estimated a 2.8% rate in 2024, the final year of the forecasts, which are subject to even more uncertainty than usual given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and new Covid-19 lockdowns in China are buffeting the global economy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The market took the first hike in this cycle in its stride and not least because it has been fully priced in over the last four months. Remaining nimble is going to be essential. Uncertainties abound, not the least of which is China’s problem with containing the omicron variant is only just beginning. Predicting 1.9% by the end of the year implies at least a 25-basis point hike at every meeting. That seems ambitious in the extreme. 



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wait Times for Chip Deliveries Grow Again as Shortages Persist

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

Lead times -- the lag between when a chip is ordered and delivered -- increased by three days to 26.2 weeks last month, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. In January, the group reported that delays were getting shorter, the first sign of improvement since 2019.

Though the lag times have now increased again, they aren’t growing quite as quickly as during much of 2021. But certain sectors were hit worse than others. Delivery times for microcontrollers reached a high of 35.7 weeks in February, according to Susquehanna’s research. Lead times also increased by a week and a half for power-management components. Both are essential parts of many electronics, including car components.

The global shortage of semiconductors began in the first half of 2020, driven by pandemic-fueled demand for consumer technology and vehicles. The scarcity of chips has held back production of everything from smartphones to pickup trucks, leading to billions in lost revenue and contributing to inflation by raising costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ukraine is a major supplier of neon gas. It’s an essential component for the production of semiconductors. The war in Ukraine is therefore contributing to the shortfall in supply. At the same time, the increased demand for all sources, including military are inhibiting the balancing out of the market.



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for March 15th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: deep oversold conditions ahead of Fed meeting tomorrow suggest potential for a relief rally. Gold and oil at potential areas of support, bonds are also deeply oversold having priced in seven interest rate hikes. a dovish turn by the Fed would be positive for risk assets. 



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Ukraine crisis: what's at stake for investors?

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

Our analysis shows that every time the oil price surged 50 per cent above trend – as it has now – a recession followed. Even though the world is less reliant on oil than a generation ago, crude still makes up a substantial slice of global GDP and it drives inflation expectations and, in turn, consumer confidence.

The impact of these shocks won’t be evenly distributed. For instance, the euro zone’s dependence on energy imports from Russia – they represent 40 per cent of the region’s gas consumption – leaves it particularly vulnerable.

At the same time, large public sector budget deficits and high inflation rates leave limited, if any, headroom for additional fiscal or monetary stimulus from the world's major economies. The market still expects US interest rates to rise some 150 basis points this year. As for the euro zone, the market is discounting two rate hikes this year – down from three before the invasion. And while a European Central Bank intervention to support the euro zone can’t be ruled out, it would take a bad recession or spreads on Italian government bonds to move above 250 basis points for the ECB to launch fresh stimulus.

But even if the risks have clearly risen, it is important to highlight that geopolitical shocks tend to be short-lived. Typically, crises such as military conflicts trigger a 10 per cent decline in equities over a period of one to two months, only for that sell-off to give way to strong rally once a resolution begins to take shape.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gasoline prices are on everyone's lips at present and that has a psychological impact on purchasing decisions. For example, this graphic depicting spending on clothing over the last three months shows a steep decline for the poorer quadrant of the population. The correlation with the spike in energy prices must be at least partially to blame.



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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