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December 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to Unveil Plan to Make Macau Finance Hub, Reuters Says

This article by Jihye Lee and Jinshan Hong for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The policies include establishing a yuan-denominated stock exchange, accelerating a yuan settlement center which is currently being developed and allocating land for Macau, Reuters said, citing unidentified government officials and company executives. The measures were intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the former Portuguese colony’s return to Chinese rule, an event that will bring Xi to Macau, the report said.

The bourse would focus on bond trading first to encourage local and mainland companies to issue debt in the city, Reuters said. The exchange would also focus on startups and target companies from Portuguese-speaking countries to avoid direct competition with Hong Kong or Shenzhen, it reported, citing six Macau executives and Chinese officials.

Xi will also announce Macau’s decision to join the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Future priorities will include tourism and finance, and for Macau to be used as venue to host international meetings like Singapore, an official told Reuters.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a none too subtle signal to Hong Kong that unless it gets its act together there is clear intention to excise the city from the broader plan to create a unified coastal economy which is to include Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The problem is that today some effort to offset reliance on Hong Kong’s dominance of the financial services sector is largely inevitable regardless of what happens because evidence of disruption is already in existence.



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December 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

SNB's Jordan Defends Negative Rate Policy as Criticism Mounts

This article by Catherine Bosley and Jan Dahinten for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Lenders in Switzerland and elsewhere say margins are under pressure. The Swiss Bankers Association has argued negative rates are no longer necessary, and a survey by UBS Group AG found that even export-oriented firms believed the policy was doing more harm than good.

Jordan spoke after the SNB left interest rates unchanged and reiterated its threat to intervene in currency markets if needed. He acknowledged the “challenges” of its subzero policy, but offered no sign he’s about to change tack anytime soon.

“We monitor the impact of negative interest precisely, and we take the side effects seriously. However, we remain convinced that the benefits it brings Switzerland as a whole clearly outweigh the costs. The negative interest rate and the willingness to intervene are currently the best instruments.”

The SNB’s latest forecasts bear out his concerns. Similar to their peers, Swiss policy makers have struggled to stoke price pressures, though their situation is complicated by the currency. They’ve long described the franc as “highly valued,” a key phrase they repeated on Thursday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Negative interest rates are something Switzerland experimented with during the gold bull market of the 1970s as a measure to try and keep the value of the currency under control. Today they are doing the same thing but instead of the Franc being backed by gold it is supported by the cashflows of some of the world’s largest companies.



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December 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for December 11th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Dollar susceptible to additional weakness, Precious metals firm, coffee accelerating, sugar steady, Australian Dollar steady, New Zealand Dollar firm, Swedish Krona breaking out, UK trading at valuation discount with potential for outperformance on favourable election result.  



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December 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Value Stocks Are in Position to Swamp Growth: Markets Live 2020

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

* If you’re upbeat about value companies, which are cyclical in nature, then you’re probably optimistic about the global economy. The good news is central bankers are doing everything they can to help the economy get back on track

* Fidelity’s sector strategist Denise Chisholm favors cyclical stocks now that the Fed and ECB are cutting rates at the same time. “That has happened only about 10% of the time since the ECB’s inception in 1998, and when it has, the U.S. market has surged in the subsequent 12 months. Cyclical stocks have fared especially well under these conditions, outperforming the market 71% of the time.”

* Even a limited resolution to the U.S.-China trade conflict should help a global economic revival by reducing uncertainty. That should release animal spirits by boosting new orders for
machinery, industrial supplies and energy. All that would make the case for value stronger than it’s been in years

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sometimes there is a difference between cheap stocks and value stocks. For over a decade a torrent of liquidity hitting the market has rewarded risk taking and favoured growth at any cost. By comparison the slow and steady business models pursued by many classic value companies has appeared staid. The additional complication of technological obsolescence has resulted in companies with low P/Es and high dividends languishing because investors fear for their survival.



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December 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chevron, Facing Fossil Fuels Glut, Takes $10 Billion Charge

This article by Christopher M. Matthews and Rebecca Elliott for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We have to make the tough choices to high-grade our portfolio and invest in the highest-return projects in the world we see ahead of us, and that’s a different world than the one that lies behind us,” Mr. Wirth said.

Chevron’s shares closed up less than a percentage point at $117.90 prior to the announcement Tuesday. Reaction to the news was muted in after-hours trading.

The sobering reappraisal by Chevron, one of the world’s largest and best-performing oil companies, is likely to ripple through the oil-and-gas industry, forcing others to publicly reassess the value of their holdings in the face of a global supply glut and growing investor concerns about the long-term future of fossil fuels. Particular pressure is falling on shale producers, especially those focused on natural gas in places like Pennsylvania, which are struggling with historically low U.S. prices caused by oversupply.

Chevron’s move follows a $5 billion write-down by Spain’s Repsol SA earlier this month and an impairment of $2.6 billion by the U.K.’s BP PLC in October. Industry executives and analysts anticipate that many more oil-and-gas companies will soon write down billions in value to comply with accounting standards because low commodity prices have undermined the economics of many projects.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In last night’s audio I was searching for the term high grading when discussing the performance of mining companies but it of course also extends to any commodity market where prices have declined to such an extent that many sources of supply become uneconomic.



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December 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Does corporate America have a debt problem?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Dan Heron, Ryan Primmer for UBS Asset Management 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. 

Corporations have jumped at the once in a generation opportunity to borrow at record low levels in record amounts. That has understandably increased leverage ratios. Equity is generally more expensive that fixed income as a source of capital, so buybacks have been a logical financial engineering solution to reduce the average cost of capital.



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December 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for December 10th 2019

December 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what's next for UK markets:

UK markets may rise after the election if the Corbyn treat goes away. But wouldn't there be significant differences between indices and companies?

If the pound rises it hurts profits earned overseas (when converted back into GBP), so the FTSE100 index and many of its companies may do less well than domestically focused companies. The FTSE 250 could out-perform. What's your view?

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Pound peaked well ahead of the Brexit referendum but it collapsed once the result was known. Ahead of the plebiscite $1.50 was an area of support, since 2016 it has represented resistance. The rate versus the Dollar at present is firming from the $1.30 area and has broken its almost two-year downtrend.



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December 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ramaphosa Cuts Short Trip as Power Crisis Grips South Africa

This article by Paul Vecchiatto and Liezel Hill for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa cut short a trip abroad to deal with an escalating crisis at the state power company, which imposed a sixth day of blackouts that threaten to tip the economy into recession.

The rand declined the most in a month Tuesday as Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said there’s a high likelihood of power cuts all week and mining companies including Sibanye Gold Ltd., the world’s biggest platinum producer, temporarily halted operations. Vodacom Group Ltd., the nation’s biggest mobile operator, said the outages are disrupting its service.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Eskom debacle is the result of graft running rampant following the end of apartheid and this is not the first time powercuts have been an issue in South Africa. The massive run-up in the price of platinum in 2007/08 was in no small part as a result of power being cut off to mines. When power was reinstated the price came back down.



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December 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Great Moscow Bank Shakedown

This is an interesting article by Anna Baraulina, Evgenia Pismennaya and Irina Reznik for Bloomberg. Here is a section:

Cherkalin’s case highlights the economic footprint of the security apparatus forged during Vladimir Putin’s 20 years in power. While it doesn’t show up in official statistics or reports, the reach of the FSB and other law enforcement agencies extends across the business landscape, distorting markets and sapping investment. The vast sums of money at stake go a long way toward explaining why Putin hasn’t followed through on years of pledges to rein in the appetites of his powerful security underlings. “They’ve become one of the key elements of the economy,” says Oleg Vyugin, a former senior official at the Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Finance. “Unfortunately, they’re an element that’s an obstacle to its normal development.”

For years the banking sector was a gold mine for the security services, combining huge, often-illicit flows of cash with plenty of leeway for officials to either turn the screws or look the other way. The numbers are big even by oil-rich Russian standards. Regulators—including the central bank—say managers stole some 7 trillion rubles ($110 billion) in assets from their banks in the past decade, and the central bank has spent more than 5 trillion rubles on bailouts or to pay off depositors at those that didn’t survive, according to Fitch Ratings. Bankers fleeing the country as their institutions failed have become such a problem that Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina asked Putin for the power to stop them at the border. He hasn’t granted it.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a well written, engaging informative piece providing facts and figures relating to the corruption of Russia’s regulatory infrastructure by the security forces. It provides a testament to how low standards of governance in Russia are and how important it is for companies to be on the winning side of an internal divisions that arise.



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December 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Eoin's personal portfolio: precious metals long initiated

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the most commonly asked questions by subscribers is how to find details of my open traders. In an effort to make it easier I will simply repost the latest summary daily until there is a change. I'll change the title to the date of publication of new details so you will know when the information was provided.



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December 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September stress in dollar repo markets: passing or structural?

This article from the Bank of International Settlements may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

This box focuses on the distribution of liquid assets in the US banking system and how it became an underlying structural factor that could have amplified the repo rate reaction. US repo markets currently rely heavily on four banks as marginal lenders. As the composition of their liquid assets became more skewed towards US Treasuries, their ability to supply funding at short notice in repo markets was diminished. At the same time, increased demand for funding from leveraged financial institutions (eg hedge funds) via Treasury repos appears to have compounded the strains of the temporary factors. Finally, the stress may have been amplified in part by hysteresis effects brought about by a long period of abundant reserves, owing to the Federal Reserve's large-scale asset purchases.

And

Since 17 September, the Federal Reserve has taken various measures to supply more reserves and alleviate repo market pressures. These operations were expanded in scope to term repos (of two to six weeks) and increased in size and time horizon (at least through January 2020). [icon]  The Federal Reserve further announced on 11 October the purchase of Treasury bills at an initial pace of $60 billion per month to offset the increase in non-reserve liabilities (eg the TGA). These ongoing operations have calmed markets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is easy to point the finger for the surge in repo rates last September at the feet of the big US four banks. However, that would be to ignore the fact banks have been forced, through the imposition of greater financial regulations, to hold more treasuries as insurance against another calamity. The low participation in the repo market by its traditional market markets created a dearth of liquidity. The US Treasury’s desire to increase its cash holdings, following the increase in Federal debt limit, was probably the catalyst for the subsequent squeeze.



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December 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Imagine 2030

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsch Bank’s Konzept team which may be of interest. Here is a section on India:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The easiest prediction to make is that by 2030 ten years will have passed. The 600 million people under the age of 25 now living in India will be ten years older and hundreds of millions of them will be in their prime productive years. The only country that has had a demographic boom of that scale is China. India’s population is larger and its standards of governance defined by minority shareholder interests, an independent judiciary and free press are more attractive to a long-term investor.



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December 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Jobs Are Affected by AI?

This report from Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

These new statistics suggest that the spread of AI will not just amount to “more of the same,” and that the onset of AI will introduce new riddles into speculation about the future of work.

Given their difference from previous analyses purporting to discuss AI, Michael Webb’s novel procedures demonstrate that we have a lot to learn about artificial intelligence, and that these are extremely early days in our inquiries. What’s coming may not resemble what we have been experiencing or expect to experience.

Webb’s machine learning statistics suggest AI could bring new patterns of impact across the labor market—ones fundamentally different from those brought by previous technologies.

It’s clear that past automation analyses—including our own, with its amalgamation of robotics, software, and artificial intelligence—have likely obscured AI’s distinctive impact. Based on expert familiarity, previous analyses have almost certainly been dominated by the ways robotics and software have been able to take over numerous routine, highly structured, and repetitive tasks.13

These analyses have tended to suggest that automation’s main effects will be to displace work across the middle of the skill and wage spectrum (such as factory workers and office clerks) while leaving the status quo more or less intact for both high-pay and low-pay interpersonal or nonroutine work (such as chemical engineers and home health aides, respectively).

However, the more refined empirical research presented here suggests that AI’s ability to employ statistics and learning to carry out nonroutine work means that these technologies are set to affect very different parts of the WHAT JOBS ARE AFFECTED BY AI? 23 workforce than previous automation. Most strikingly, it now looks as if whole new classes of well-paid, white-collar workers (who have been less touched by earlier waves of automation) will be the ones most affected by AI.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many better paying jobs rely less on expertise than on workplace protections. It is still mandatory to speak with an insurance agent in the USA when buying insurance. Many European countries dispensed with agents years ago. That single workplace rule which necessitates little more than a box ticking exercise with an agent, and the commissions that agent derives from the policy for every year it is active subsequently represent a massive cost to consumers.



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

M&G Freezes Flagship Real Estate Fund as Withdrawals Mount

This article by Lucca de Paoli, Jack Sidders and Nishant Kumar for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The asset management industry has been rocked by fears over daily-dealing funds that allow investors easy entry and exit, but hold assets that take far longer to sell. M&G’s freeze follows the shock collapse of star U.K. stock picker Neil Woodford’s empire this year, amid tougher scrutiny of managers who have been pushed to seek harder-to-sell assets in their hunt for yield.

“Woodford and M&G are different scenarios, but both point to the same thing,” Ben Yearsley, investment director at Shore Financial Planning said. “You shouldn’t hold illiquid assets in
open-ended funds.”

GAM Holdings AG, H20 Asset Management and Lime Asset Management Co. have also grappled with liquidity crises in the past two years.

The M&G money pool was one of seven major U.K. funds that halted trading in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote, when spooked investors demanded their money back. In a rush to sell properties quickly in order to raise cash, many funds disposed of buildings that remained attractive to buyers even after the Brexit vote, such as London offices or warehouses.

That’s left funds like M&G with a higher relative exposure to retail properties that have proven tough to sell. Retailers have been closing stores and seeking rent cuts in an attempt to compete with online rivals, sending retail property values plunging.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Pensions hold large weightings of fixed income so they can match assets with future liabilities. That means they need to have a better return on their other holdings to ensure the total grows enough to succeed in meeting those liabilities. The low interest rate environment over the last decade, and more, has represented a major challenge for the sector and its effect is cumulative. The longer interest rates stay low the greater the pressure on pensions to find alternative ways of boosting returns.



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Surges After Saudis Surprise Market With Additional

This article by Sheela Tobben and Alex Longley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The additional supply reduction would take the kingdom’s production down to levels not seen on a sustained basis since 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

After the announcement, Prince Abdulaziz predicted that Saudi Aramco, which just completed an IPO at a valuation of $1.7 trillion, would soon soar above the $2 trillion. The kingdom plans to pump 9.7 million barrels a day, he said. That’s a reduction of about 300,000 barrels a day from its output in November and 100,000 below the year-to-date average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There was always a risk that Saudi Arabia would attempt to massage energy prices in order to get the valuation for Saudi Aramco they desired. The IPO priced yesterday at $1.7 trillion which will represent a $25 billion windfall for the kingdom. If the price pops on the upside following the IPO that will give a windfall to the large numbers of domestic investors, many connected to the ruling class, who invested in the IPO. That is obviously a desirable outcome from a domestic perspective for Saudi Arabia.



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Food Inflation Rears Its Head in Chile and Brazil in November

This article by Mario Sergio Lima and John Quigley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In Brazil, the inflation pick-up comes as economists and company executives sound the alarm on rising meat prices due to dwindling supply. China, the world’s top meat consumer, doubled pork imports and shipped in 63% more beef in October than a year earlier as the country struggles to ease shortages due to African swine fever.

“The food price shock has arrived” in Brazil, said Leonardo Costa, an economist at Rosenberg Associados. “We’re increasing our 2019 inflation call to 4% because the increase in food and
beverage costs will be even stronger in December.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

If inflation is rising, and this appears to be a global phenomenon that will reduce the ability of central banks to continue to cut interest rates. That was certainly a factor in the RBI’s decision to hold rates steady in India today and similar decisions are likely across emerging markets as the full impact of higher food prices rolls through.



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2020 outlook for markets

Eoin Treacy's view -

The research departments of major asset managers are currently putting out their expectations for what to expect in 2020. There is a great deal of commonality in what is being predicted. The reality is many investors went to cash a year ago and were slow to reinvest. They continue to feel shy about being fully committed and still feel a great deal of uncertainty. That it being reflected in the views being espoused in predictions for 2020.



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December 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for December 5th 2019

December 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan Leans on Fiscal Stimulus to Keep Recession at Bay

This article by Toru Fujioka, Yoshiaki Nohara and Takashi Hirokawa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“In any country, the positive impact of extra monetary stimulus is limited, which is especially true in Japan and Europe where rates have turned negative. You have no effective choice but to execute fiscal measures to support growth,” said Harumi Taguchi, Tokyo-based principal economist at IHS Markit.

Earlier in the day, Abe described the stimulus as a three-pillared package designed to aid disaster relief, protect against downside economic risks and prepare the country for longer-term growth after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He said the stimulus would be funded by a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending in March, and special measures in the following year. The package outlines 4.3 trillion yen in funding for the measures in an extra budget this fiscal year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This stimulus helps to unwind some of the negative impact from the sales tax hike earlier in the quarter and is a further iteration of the global surge in fiscal stimulus as the expected positive growth effects of quantitative easing failed to materialise.



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December 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals: Turning around a historically unprofitable sector

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from RBC Capital Markets 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. 

The biggest takeaway from this report is RBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, is only now re-assuming coverage of the North American gold mining sector. Nothing signals a prolonged bear market like banks culling trading desks and firing analysts. As prices deteriorate, interest evaporates, liquidity declines and coverage disappears. When a new bullish story evolves it takes time for management teams to warm up to the idea of spending the money necessary to build a business unit to profit from it. The fact more banks are now engaging with the market suggests the sales effort is also going to receive a boost.



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December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for December 4th 2019

December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DoubleLine Joins IMF in Fretting About Dollar Loans Outside U.S.

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

The cost of dollar funding for non-American banks can change rapidly because it’s sensitive to monetary conditions in the U.S. and abroad. September’s repo turmoil showed the speed with which a spillover could occur between dollar funding and currency markets. Within a day of the sudden surge in the overnight rate on Treasury repurchase agreements that began Sept. 16, the cost to borrow greenbacks while lending euros for a week almost doubled.

For DoubleLine’s Campbell, “the analysis of currency mismatches and asset/liability funding mismatches is an integral part of our investment process as we evaluate these risks on a country-by-country and security-by-security basis.”

At issue is what might happen when foreign banks get caught in a liquidity squeeze, and their sources of dollar funding dry up quickly, he added.

“When we go through the next downturn, a lot of activities are going to be exposed as being problematic,” he said. “The risk is that it could contribute to an even bigger fall in economic activity.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The IMF first started worrying about the mismatch in Dollar funding requirements and supply back in June. The freezing up of the repo market in October vindicated the view that supply of Dollars was inadequate for the needs of the global economy. The willingness of the Fed to step in and provide $300 billion, to date, is a clear indication they are aware of the problem this condition represents and will act accordingly.



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December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day from a coffee insider

The estimate of the Brazilian coffee crop of 2019 is 49 million bags of 60 kg This means a 20 % drop from 2018, when Brazil produced a record crop of 62 million bags. This is a big difference. But it is due to the fact, first that Brazil is in the “off-year” of its two-year coffee production cycle, which alternates between years of high and low production cycles. The coffee trees are resting one in two years. Second, there has been irregular weather that was not good for the crop. And third, the farmers are diminishing the crop care because of prices that have fallen too low. This is happening after a bumper “on-year” which brought a collapse of prices. The influence of Brazil on the world coffee market is important because it is the largest producer. (62 million bags on a total world production of 175 million bags). But in the other countries the same causes have most of the time had the same effect.

What must be noticed also is that very low prices because of overproduction were normal to a certain extent, but as always, investment funds and speculators (or call these also investors with a euphemism) went about 51.000 contracts short (equals 12.750.000 bags) and then suddenly reduced these short positions to about 17.000. This of course amplifies the movements of the market, this time to higher but still not normal prices. In the meantime, the farmers are starving with a daily income of 3 dollars, flee their central American countries and try to get in the U.S. It’s a shame, a hard world. That’s why in my company we promote Fair Trade Coffee, now at about the double of the price of the market. We are making nearly half of our turnover with this coffee.

The Real is also an important parameter, but it is not the only one. The two charts of coffee and Real are often linked, but not always when such fundamental events are happening;

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this valuable insight into the machinations of the coffee market. The two-year cycle of coffee tree productivity is an important consideration when weighing the likelihood of a downtrend due to overproduction persisting. The fact farmers are walking off their farmers in Central America is an inhibitor to increasing supply but as you point out Brazil is the primary source of Arabica.



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December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West

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

The technology, which is also being developed in the United States and elsewhere, is in the early stages of development and can produce rough pictures good enough only to narrow a manhunt or perhaps eliminate suspects. But given the crackdown in Xinjiang, experts on ethics in science worry that China is building a tool that could be used to justify and intensify racial profiling and other state discrimination against Uighurs.

In the long term, experts say, it may even be possible for the Communist government to feed images produced from a DNA sample into the mass surveillance and facial recognition systems that it is building, tightening its grip on society by improving its ability to track dissidents and protesters as well as criminals.

Some of this research is taking place in labs run by China’s Ministry of Public Security, and at least two Chinese scientists working with the ministry on the technology have received funding from respected institutions in Europe. International scientific journals have published their findings without examining the origin of the DNA used in the studies or vetting the ethical questions raised by collecting such samples in Xinjiang.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This article from the Wall Street Journal details how the capturing facial recognition data is now mandatory when purchasing a new phone. Here is a section:

The new regulation gives the Chinese state, which backs the country’s three main telecom providers, the ability to better track people based on ethnicity and other factors, said Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based managing director at China Market Research Group.



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December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the colour of candle charts:

I hope all is well. I was wondering why if the S&P500 index fell the graphic is showing blue as per the attached screenshot? Could it be that it opened down but closed above that level and thus the chart records this as an up day? Thanks very much.

Eoin Treacy's view -

That you for this question which others may also have an interest in. Yes, that is exactly what happened. The S&P500 gapped lower off the open and improved modestly from that initial swoon.



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December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Aren't Wild About Crazy-Like-a-Fox Leaders

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

I originally used Occam’s Razor, and decided the likelier explanation lay in utter failure to understand the workings of currency markets and international trade. But it is just possible that Trump is being crazy like a fox.

Either way, stock markets disliked the new tariffs, which spoiled the good cheer that had been spread by surprisingly good Chinese manufacturing data announced over the weekend. The dollar fell, and bond yields rose. Global stocks had one of their worst days in a while, dashing the chance for the MSCI All-World index to set its first record since the January 2018 high. The index reached within 0.12% of the landmark before slipping:

On top of the Chinese news, there was also relatively encouraging news from the eurozone. Germany is particularly reliant on the auto sector, and on exports, and this has made it the most obvious victim of the trade war to date. But the latest Markit purchasing manager indexes for eurozone manufacturing show a pattern of clear recovery from a very low base. (As is usual, the indexes are set so that 50 should be the border between expansion and contraction):

All of this was enough to help European stock markets open a tad higher, and should have been enough to bring world stocks to their record. Then came the presidential tariff-by-tweet, followed by some deeply disappointing U.S. manufacturing data. Thanks to the U.S. consumer, the American economy remains in good health, but the manufacturing sector looks more and more as though it is in recession. There are some idiosyncratic factors to explain this (the troubled aircraft-maker Boeing Co. being the greatest one), but the PMI is now at 48.1, and has been below 50 for four months in a row. So far, this manufacturing downturn is comparable to the one at the beginning of 2016, which also lasted four months and bottomed at 48. That one ended with Chinese stimulus and a recovery, without a recession.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I don’t think there is any mystery to the way in which Donald Trump conducts policy. All one has to do is listen to what he is saying. He wants a level playing field for US exporters and he wants a weaker Dollar. He has said repeatedly he is not going to sign a trade deal that is not a net positive for the USA. It’s time we take him at his word. The problem is what he wants is quite disruptive to the status quo.



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December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe Set to Overhaul Its Entire Economy in Green Deal Push

This article by Ewa Krukowska and Nikos Chrysoloras for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The EU plan, set to be approved as the high-profile United Nations summit in Madrid winds up, would put the bloc ahead of other major emitters. Countries including China, India and Japan have yet to translate voluntary pledges under the 2015 Paris climate accord into binding national measures. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he’ll pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.

In a pitch of her Green Deal to member states and the European Parliament on Dec. 11, von der Leyen is set to promise a set of measures to reach the net-zero emissions target, affecting sectors from agriculture to energy production. It will include a thorough analysis on how to toughen the current 40% goal to reduce emissions by 2030 to 50% or even 55%, according to an EU document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Make It Irreversible
In the next step, the commission will propose an EU law in March that would “make the transition to climate neutrality irreversible,” von der Leyen told the UN meeting. She said the measure will include “a farm-to-fork strategy and a biodiversity strategy” and will extend the scope of emissions trading.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The EU’s political elite view the climate argument as a voter winner, a source of revenue for their constrained social services and an additional control on the economy that would be impossible under normal circumstances. It is also a response to the fact the region is a major energy consumer and has long had to deal with regimes it is politically at odds with because of its dependence on imports of energy commodities.



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December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on corruption in India:

Thank you for your wonderful service once again. My day starts every morning with listening in to your Video Commentary of the Day along with my tea. All other comments and blogs are seen much later after I reach office.

As I recall, from our first meeting in 2012 you have always had a strong positive view on governance in India. At a closer range the warts are more visible to us.

You may find a different viewpoint from your stance on the going-ons in India. This is an article published in the Times of India, the foremost newspaper in India and traditionally and currently pro- the current regime. You may find it interesting.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/Swaminomics/how-bjp-is-fast-becoming-like-congress-in-graft/

Hope all is well at your end.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind email and article on corruption in India. The issues of graft in Indian society did not evaporate with the election of Narendra Modi and might even be expected to increase because checks and balances are reduced when there is single party government.



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December 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Ties Brazil, Argentina Steel Tariffs to U.S. Farm Woes

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

Linking his trade agenda with his Fed criticism in an early morning tweet, he said the two South American countries “have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers.”

The president’s action amounts to retaliation against two nations that have become alternative suppliers of soybeans and other agricultural products to China, grabbing market share away from the U.S. Rural voters, including farmers, are a key constituency for Trump as he heads into the 2020 presidential elections.

While the steel tariffs could crimp trade, the Latin American countries gain much more shipping crops to Chinese buyers. In the first 10 months of the year, Brazil has shipped $25.5 billion in farm products including soybeans and pork to China. That’s more than 10 times the value of steel and iron product sold to the U.S.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This action is as much about the persistent strength of the Dollar as it is about pandering to farm voters in swing states. The US Dollar has been trending higher against the vast majority of international currencies for the last few years. The growth differential the USA has enjoyed has been one factor in that strength but the Fed’s policy of balance sheet contraction and hiking interest rates was more important.



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December 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Gambles That U.S. Shale's Golden Age Is Over

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

Perhaps the biggest problem for OPEC isn’t American shale but rising output elsewhere. Brazilian and Norwegian production is increasing, and will increase further in 2020. After several years of low prices, engineers have made many projects cheaper, and the results are clear.

Norway’s Johan Sverdrup oil field, the biggest development in decades in the North Sea, started up earlier this year, months ahead of schedule and several billion dollars under its original budget. And Guyana, a tiny country bordering Venezuela in Latin America, is about to pump oil for the first time.

“For OPEC, it remains a difficult first half of 2020,” Russell Hardy, Vitol’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “U.S. production is growing strongly this quarter and in the first half of next year we’ll add non-OPEC production from Norway, Brazil and Guyana.”

The cartel knows well that’s taking a gamble. The group’s own estimates show that if it continues pumping as much as it has done over the last couple of months -- roughly 29.9 million barrels a day -- it would supply about 200,000 barrels more crude daily than the market needs on average next year. The oversupply would be concentrated in the first half, when OPEC estimates it needs to pump just 29 million barrels a day to prevent oil stocks building up.

Still, OPEC officials, speaking privately, believe the world’s supply and demand balance could be tighter than many expect -- a big change from the past three years. They see non-OPEC output growth falling short of forecasts while global demand increases could be higher than expected.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The decade long commodity bull market that began in the early 2000s encouraged massive investment in additional supply. That new supply generally came in at a higher marginal cost of production which means that while $40 was previously a peak for price rallies, it now represents a floor.



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December 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Consumer Conference: Strategy Sector Views + Analyst Stock Picks

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley 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. 

The stock market is one of the best lead indicators we have. It is literally a discounting mechanism and yet a cottage industry has evolved attempting to predict when the next economic contraction is going to take place. The number of such indicators has proliferated over the last year with alarm being expressed from many corners that a recession is a virtual certainty in the near term. Let’s think instead what the consistency of the trend tells us.



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December 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on p&f charts

I am very pleased to see you resurrecting point & figure charting in your weekly commentary. A graduate of the Spring 1990 Chart Seminar, I cut my teeth on David's p&f charts, and still find them to be an extremely useful tool for filtering out the non-essential, "noisy" price movements that can cloud our judgement. As you Brits say, "well done you!"

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this supportive email and I intend to include p&f charts in the daily commentary when they provide valuable insight.



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November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

German Manufacturing Job Losses Top 100,000 With Daimler Cuts

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

The full effect of the cuts -- which also affect units of German companies abroad --- may not be felt immediately. Labor laws and powerful unions make it difficult to fire workers, and many large companies have agreements banning forced dismissals, meaning job-cut programs have voluntary elements and sometimes run for years.

Still, the deteriorating prospects for employment could turn into a headache for the German government, which has been considering following countries from China to the U.K. in beefing up investments to stimulate its economy.

Here is a rundown of the main job cuts announced since the beginning of the year by German industrial companies. The tally includes foreign corporations that have announced cuts affecting staff in Europe’s biggest economy. It excludes the financial industry, cuts that remain unconfirmed, and programs where companies have not yet specified how many jobs will go.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of the global automotive sector represents a major challenge for the Germany economy. Electric vehicles have fewer parts and therefore require fewer component suppliers. The battery is also the biggest constituent of the vehicle’s cost and Germany does not yet have its own production facility. In fact, it is unlikely to ever become a dominant force in the production of batteries considering China and South Korea’s already huge leads.



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November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Financial Warning Signs Are Flashing Almost Everywhere

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

From rural bank runs to surging consumer indebtedness and an unprecedented bond restructuring, mounting signs of financial stress in China are putting the nation’s policy makers to the test.

Xi Jinping’s government faces an increasingly difficult balancing act as it tries to support the world’s second-largest economy without encouraging moral hazard and reckless spending. While authorities have so far been reluctant to rescue troubled borrowers and ramp up stimulus, the costs of maintaining that stance are rising as defaults increase and China’s slowdown deepens.

Policy makers are attempting to do the “minimum necessary to keep the economy on the rails,” Andrew Tilton, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Among China’s most vexing challenges is the deteriorating health of smaller lenders and regional state-owned companies, whose financial linkages risk triggering a downward spiral without support from Beijing. A landmark debt recast proposed this week by Tewoo Group, a state-owned commodities trader, has raised concerns about more financial turbulence in its home city of Tianjin.

Concerns have popped up across the country in recent months, often centered around smaller banks. Confidence in these institutions has waned since May, when regulators seized control of a lender in Inner Mongolia and imposed losses on some creditors. Authorities have since intervened to quell at least two bank runs and orchestrated bailouts for two other lenders.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Two years ago China’s central banks Zhou Xiaochuan gave a speech where he talked about the risk of a Minsky Moment and what could be done to avoid it. A Minsky Moment is when asset prices experience a sharp reversal following a long and prolonged advance. That kind of risk evolves from deploying procyclical policies for a prolonged period.



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November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Is New Obsession for East Europe's Nationalist Leaders

This article by Andrea Dudik and Radoslav Tomek for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

Instead, he said he wanted to demonstrate the strength of his nation’s $586 billion economy -- the largest in the EU’s east. Poland has doubled its gold holdings in the past two years and now has the region’s biggest stockpile.

Hungary, though, has been an active buyer too. Gold reserves surged 10-fold last year, setting the clamor for the metal in the countries around it in motion. Serbia’s strongman leader Aleksandar Vucic took note, ordering the central bank to boost reserves and prompting the purchase of nine tons in October. Vucic said last week that more should be bought because “we see in which direction the crisis in the world is moving.”

The biggest nation to emerge from the breakup of Yugoslavia still keeps some of its gold abroad, the central bank said by email. The region is buying more of the metal because of global uncertainty over trade and politics, Brexit and low interest rates, it said.

Romania had also sought to relocate some of its gold reserves from the U.K., but those plans were put on hold when the government behind them was ousted in October.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The massive investments in new gold supply made during the commodity bull market, in the decade to 2011, have resulted in mined supply of gold rising steadily. One of the reasons the gold market has been able to sustain a breakout from its base formation is because much of that supply is being acquired by global central banks. They are attempting to insure themselves against the threat of a disorderly resolution to the looming debt mountains built up over the course of a forty-year secular bull market for bonds.



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November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on margin debt balances

Eoin wanted to know the source of the margin Debt issue. it's the Felder Report. 

And

The margin data is now published by FINRA - my inexperienced eye believes that the article has over-stated the reduction of margin somewhat. (It's Ha Ha) - marginal. 


FINRA took over reporting: https://www.finra.org/investors/learn-to-invest/advanced-investing/margin-statistics  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these educational emails covering an important subject. Margin debt balances had long been a useful indicator of appetite for risk in the markets but the NYSE stopped producing the data in 2017. Generally speaking, margin debt balances turn downwards, from a new high, ahead of a major reversal in the stock market. There has been a great deal of speculation recently about whether that is what we are seeing today.



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November 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Modi's Labor Reform Push May Remove Key Hurdle For Investors

This article by by Bibhudatta Pradhan and Vrishti Beniwal for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is finally attempting to overhaul India’s most controversial labor laws to attract investment and make it easier to do business in a country where changing archaic rules is a challenge for any government.

After a long struggle, his government will push a crucial industrial relations bill allowing companies to hire workers on fixed-term contracts of any duration. The legislation, to be tabled in Parliament’s current winter session, does not seek to change stringent laws on hiring and firing, but allows the government the flexibility to relax the conditions through an executive order.

Unlike his last term in power, when Modi decided against bringing this labor reform bill to Parliament, this time around he knows he has the numbers needed. The current changes are part of a process to streamline 44 different federal labor laws into four codes, another step to formalize the $2.7 trillion economy.

It comes on the back of several recent reforms announced by Modi’s government to boost investment, including aggressive cuts in corporate taxes, relaxation of foreign investor rules and the biggest privatization drive in more than a decade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Indian voters gave Modi the increased majority in both houses he asked for. India’s massive young, ambitious population is eager for change, and they knew that the only way to get it is to free the hands of government to push through much needed reform. No one is under any illusion that it will be difficult and there are going to be some vested interests in the bureaucracy who will be upset, but the need for reform is undeniable. The fact Modi is following through and tackling some of the country’s thorniest issues is about as positive sign of improving governance as anyone might hope for.



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November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biggest LNG Producer Targets 64% Jump in Capacity by 2027

This article by Simone Foxman and Verity Ratcliffe for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
 

Qatar’s plan for a 64% increase in LNG capacity is likely to intensify a global glut in the fuel. The nation is seeking to fend off competition from rival producers such as Australia and the U.S. that have ramped up production and eroded the Gulf state’s historic dominance of the market. Australia has exported about 70 million tons of LNG this year, compared with 71.9 million for Qatar, according to vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

The North Field holds more than 1,760 trillion cubic feet of gas, and state-run Qatar Petroleum will “immediately” start engineering work for two additional LNG production plants, or trains, for a combined capacity of 16 million tons annually, Al Kaabi said in a statement. Qatar will be able to produce about 6.7 million barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2027, said Al Kaabi, who also serves as QP’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The quantities of natural gas that can be brought to market, almost at will, are nothing short of astounding and suggest a price war is inevitable. With Australia now producing almost as much gas as Qatar and the USA exporting the bounty from shale wells the global market for gas is likely to continue to grow.



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November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

5G, Royalties, Chip Mix Turn Qualcomm to Growth

This note focusing on Qualcomm and 5G may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

THESIS: A strong position in 5G chips, coupled with expanded royalties, may position Qualcomm for sales and EPS growth in fiscal 2020. Higher-priced 5G handsets aid its royalty business, while increased use of its advanced 5G chips will drive up chip content and average prices. This content is further enhanced by a wider portfolio of radio-frequency chip offerings. The company is set up to gain from a richer 5G handset mix and pricing, as well as a higher-end chip mix and content expansion of its own portfolio. Royalty mix aids margin, expanding EPS faster than sales. A softer, slower global 5G ramp up, especially outside China, is the key risk.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Speed and lag are two of the biggest obstacles to moving more of the global economy online. 5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G and removes lag from the equation. China switched on a national 5G network earlier this month and the majority of major economies plan to move to full roll out in 2020. Samsung and some Chinese companies are producing 5G phones but the number of models on offer will also significantly increase in 2020.



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November 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 26th 2019

November 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biotech Rallies as Novartis' $9.7 Billion Deal Revives Optimism

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

Monday’s news continues a trend of large-cap drugmakers snapping up smaller developers in an attempt to refill their depleted pipelines. Even before the Medicines Co. announcement, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis had announced close to $16 billion of acquisitions since Vas Narasimhan took over as CEO in February 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., which receives milestone payments tied to Medicines Co.’s heart drug inclisiran as well as royalties on drug sales, jumped 7.6% pre-market Monday. That’s on top of last week’s 16% gain after it won FDA approval for a second drug.

Jefferies’ Yee highlighted that the $9.7 billion price tag implied a higher multiple on potential peak sales of inclisiran than historically has been seen in other biotech deals. On a deal value to peak sales comparison, he said the valuation is similar to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s acquisition of Celgene Corp., which closed last week.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Large pharmaceuticals companies have effectively outsourced research and development to the speculative biotechnology sector and are prepared to pay up for those that approach commercialisation.



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November 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Draws Bumper Demand for Multi-Tranche Dollar Bond

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

With the latest sale, China will have dollar securities outstanding with maturity dates ranging from 2022 to 2096 (the result of a small century bond sold in the 1990s). There will be an increasing variety of maturities off which Chinese corporate debt can price, with sovereign benchmarks at maturities from 2022 to 2048 of at least half a billion dollars each.

The total Chinese dollar bond market now tops $740 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and issuance so far this year has run at a record pace. On a single day in early November, some six property developers were selling dollar securities.

Earlier this month, China also sold euro debt, the first time since 2004 that it issued in that currency. That deal saw blowout demand, with a majority orders coming from European funds in a region that’s been beset by negative-yielding securities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The rapid growth of the China Dollar bond market was one of the primary reasons the Chinese central bank expressed worry about local government funding mechanisms in 2018. They quickly moved into a curtail the practice but that effort now appears to be over with demand for overseas debt increasing once more. 



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November 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Pre-Halvening Dump Could Spell Disaster

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

The halving occurs every 210,000 blocks and reduces the block mining reward by half—now 12.5 Bitcoin per block. Each of the adjustments is designed to continually manage inflation on the network.

The consequence of each halvening is a massive profit slash among miners, with just half the current block reward as revenue. This leads to a massive reduction in miners, with the weak hands being forced out.

However, as miners are no longer able to continue, the total hashrate on the network drops dramatically. This leads to a subsequent reduction in difficulty for each block mined, reducing costs for miners who make it through. In the end, the genius of Nakamoto shines.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The halvening has historically been a time which attracts bulls to bitcoin because it results in the halving of the reward for minting new blocks. That highlights the limited supply argument and automatically makes the bitcoin already in existence more valuable. At least that is how the logic has played out over the last few occasions. It is also worth remembering that cryptocurrencies are a little more than a decade old so drawing long-term conclusions is still something of a spotty endeavour.



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November 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 25th 2019

November 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Forces Win Landslide, Rebuking China

This article by Julia Fioretti, Iain Marlow and Fion Li for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Pro-democracy candidates won 86% seats of the 444 seats counted as of 9 a.m., official results showed, with eight seats still up for grabs. In the last election in 2015, they had won about a quarter of all seats. The pro-government camp won about 12% of seats this time around, versus 65% four years ago. The vote saw record turnout of 71%, with more than 2.94 million people casting ballots -- roughly double the number in the previous election.

The vote came at a time of unprecedented political polarization in the city, with divisions hardening as the protests become more disruptive and the government refuses to compromise. While the district councils are considered the lowest rung of Hong Kong’s government, the results will add pressure on the government to meet demands including an independent inquiry into police abuses and the ability to nominate and elect the city’s leader, including one who would stand up to Beijing.

“The government respects the results of this election,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement on Monday. “I am aware there’s lots of analysis about the results among the community, which said the results are a reflection of the public’s dissatisfaction towards the current situation and deep-seated problems in society. The government will listen to the public’s feedback with humility and reflect on it.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The success of pro-democracy candidates in the Hong Kong election puts to rest any argument the protests were not widely supported by the community. The challenge for protestors now is the absence of any real power for those elected.



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November 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why the Narratives around Oil Supply and Demand are Wrong

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

Investors remain very concerned about the impact of slowing economic growth on global oil demand. While Q2 did show some softening, there have been several very bullish developments that most investors seem to ignore. For example, analysts focused all of their attention on the IEA’s recent downward revision of 2020 global demand projections by 100,000 b/d over the course of the last three months. However, at the same time, the IEA quietly revised historical demand higher by 190,000 b/d in 2017 and 110,000 b/d in 2018–a fact that few people wrote about. Notably, Q4 of 2018 was revised higher by a very large 300,000 b/d.

Our models tell us that more revisions are forthcoming. As always, our analysis revolves around the “missing” barrels. For example, the IEA still claims after its latest set of historical revisions that global demand for all of 2018 equaled 99.3 mm b/d while total supply equaled 100.3 mm b/d. This suggests that inventories should have grown by 1 mm b/d or 365 mm b for the full year. Instead, the IEA reports that inventories were unchanged for the year. We refer to the “missing” barrels as oil that was produced but neither consumed nor put in storage. We have long argued that “missing barrels” are a clear indicator that the IEA will revise higher its demand figures and once again that has been correct.

The IEA has a long history of demand underestimation. In eight of the last nine years, they have been forced to revise global demand higher by 1.1 m b/d on average (a number that is creeping higher). Despite this chronic underestimation and the continued presence of “missing barrels,” investors continue to ignore the warning signs of stronger than expected demand.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The backwardation in the oil price curve suggests at least a near-term supply deficit relative to demand. That has been created either by the slowdown in the global economic which could have impacted demand growth or it is a combination of factors like the reduction in OPEC and Russia supply and the slowdown in unconventional onshore US production. Regardless of the argument, the backwardation doesn’t lie.



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November 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2020 Outlook What Investors Are Saying

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Michael Wilson for Morgan Stanley. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

It takes all kinds of views to make a market and that is particularly true when supply and demand have been in relative equilibrium for almost two years. When that amount of time has passed both the bullish and bearish arguments are well understood.



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November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater Bets Big on Market Drop

This article by Juliet Chung and Gunjan Banerji for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bridgewater paid roughly $1.5 billion for the options contracts, or just about 1% of the Westport, Conn., firm’s $150 billion in assets under management, according to people familiar with the matter.

The options contracts are tied to around $100 billion worth of the indexes, said people familiar with the matter. How much the firm stands to potentially make would depend on many factors, including the magnitude of any market decline and the timing of when the firm cashes in its bet.

It couldn’t be determined why Bridgewater made the investment. Several clients said it may simply be a hedge for significant exposure to equity markets the firm has built up. Funds often hedge, or take offsetting positions, against other exposure to protect against losses.

The massive size of the wager has prompted chatter among traders and caused the price of some options to rise.

There has been a surge in put options outstanding tied to the S&P 500 index. The number of S&P 500 put options outstanding hit the highest level in more than four years in September, according to data provider Trade Alert. There has also been growing interest in S&P 500 put options expiring in March, the data show.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ray Dalio stated today Bridgewater is not net short of the stock market. The firm’s investment strategy has long been characterised by risk parity which is aimed at capitalising on the continued correlation between stocks and bonds. The size of positions using such a strategy is tailored using volatility metrics. As volatility in one increases the weighting of that asset necessary falls and the weighting of a counterbalance increases and vice versa.



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November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Corbyn Leads U.K. Election Cyber War, But Tories Improve on 2017

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

The clearest difference between the parties is on how far their messages are spread by people sharing content voluntarily -- known as “organic” reach. Labour currently leads on this across the three most important social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Posts from the Facebook pages of Labour and Corbyn -- largely focused on issues such as the National Health Service and criticizing the government’s austerity program -- have been shared more than twice as many times as those from the Conservatives and from Johnson himself, according to data from CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool owned by Facebook.

Labour and Corbyn have also garnered about 100% more views of their videos on Facebook and Twitter than the Tories, according to CrowdTangle and a Bloomberg analysis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Knocking on doors has in many respects been replaced by tapping on phone screens and is arguably more effective considering the willingness of people to spend hours on their phones while being reluctant to open the door to anyone let alone politicians. Google and Twitter have been clear they do not see the risk of being accused of election interference as being worth the revenue from political parties. Facebook seems more willing to engage with politics. 



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November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Rush how the safe haven asset shines by enhancing portfolio returns and reducing drawdown risks

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Citigroup 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. 

Christine Lagarde’s first speech was today and she made a point to saying the EU’s governments need to step up and make a contribution to providing stimulus. The USA, UK, Australia, Canada’s provinces and China are already engaged in fiscal stimulus. The USA is also now inflating the size of its balance sheet and the total asset figure for the world’s major central banks is up by a commensurate amount suggesting the other central banks have not yet embraced the need for major additional asset builds.



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November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ailing Art Collector Faces a Very Modern Problem: Mountains of Debt

This article by Kelly Crow for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Today’s art-backed loans have gotten larger and riskier for collectors as the art market has started to shrink. U.S. collectors staked their art to borrow up to $24 billion this year, more than double the level a decade earlier, according to the latest data compiled by the Deloitte accounting firm and ArtTactic, an auction-database company. Some affluent borrowers tap their art like a piggy bank to fund living expenses. Others use the loans to buy more art.

But after a four-year rise, the global art market has started to retrench, with the value of sales down 22% at Christie’s auctions in the first six months of 2019 compared with the same period a year earlier. Last week’s $1.4 billion major fall auctions in New York were a third smaller.

If art values plummet, experts say, collectors may need to sell works for less than they are valued to pay down their loans—or add more pieces to their collateral pool to keep their loans square. If not, they could default on loans and forfeit their art altogether.

“If everyone is taking the same art as collateral—same artists, same bodies of work—and there’s a crisis, everyone may need to sell and you have a big problem,” said Adriano Picinati di Torcello, who issued the Deloitte-ArtTactic report last month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Borrowing against hard assets has been a major investment theme over the last decade. A friend of mine is even involved in assisting art owners to collateralise their wealth via cryptocurrencies which in summary leverage on leverage. I haven’t heard the term collateralised crypto obligation (CCO) yet but it is certainly a growing field.



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November 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 21st 2019

November 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Modi Makes Biggest Privatization Push in Decade to Spur Economy

This article by Anirban Nag and Vrishti Beniwal for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

On Wednesday, Indian authorities went into overdrive. The government decided to sell its entire stake in the country’s second-largest state refiner, and its biggest shipping company. It also approved a proposal to pare stakes below 51% in some companies and pushed for an introduction of a new industrial code bill. Meanwhile India’s central bank seized a troubled shadow lender to try and contain defaults from spreading in Asia’s third-largest economy.

“This is Modi’s renewed attempt to instill confidence in India’s economic potential,” said Priyanka Kishore, head of India and Southeast Asia Economics at Oxford Economics, Singapore.

She added it was imperative for the Modi government to announce these measures as it attempts to bridge a widening fiscal deficit following the dismal tax collections and cuts to corporate tax rates worth $20 billion. Earlier this month Moody’s Investors Service cut the country’s sovereign debt outlook to negative amid concerns over slowing growth and revenues.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cutting corporate taxes, privatising non-essential industries, finally intervening to stop the slide in nonbank lenders setting up a strategy so the country’s potential to become a manufacturing hub is not squandered are all very positive for the medium-term future of India. In fact, one might think of them as necessary components if the country is to continue to progress economically.



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November 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

South Africa Starts Post-Zuma Graft Crackdown With Arrest of Former Minister

This article by Paul Vecchiatto and Antony Sguazzin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo was arrested in a case related to bribery and state-owned companies. Bongo appeared in a court in Cape Town Thursday to face a charge of corruption.

“This is the first big arrest,” said Claude Baissac, the head of Eunomix Business and Economics Ltd., which advises on political risk. “It’s demonstrating that at long last some criminal charges are going to be brought against African National Congress members and clearly pretty senior ones.”

More than 500 billion rand ($34 billion) was stolen from state companies and government departments during the nine-year rule of President Jacob Zuma, according to Ramaphosa. While he has promised to fix the economy by curbing state costs and splitting up the indebted state power utility, a demand for arrests has been a constant refrain in the nation’s media and on radio talks shows.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Respect for minority shareholder interests, property rights, a free press and independent judiciary are the hallmarks of states with good governance. The extent to which these ideals and institutions are supported and improved dictates whether governance is improving. South African corruption has put all in jeopardy over the last decade and it is particularly good news the Ramaphosa administration is will to begin to do something about it.



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November 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Private markets come of age

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

Private credit. Private credit fundraising softened in 2018 (down 15 percent versus 2017), but its long-term growth trend remains intact. In fact, 2018 was the second-highest fundraising year in history for the asset class (Exhibit 5). Seven-year trailing fundraising has grown at an average of 9 percent per annum since 2013, outpacing both PE and closed-end real estate growth, on the back of sustained low interest rates and a long economic expansion. Annual returns for private debt have averaged around 10 percent since 2008, with higher yields than are available in public debt. This has been an attractive proposition to more and more investors. A good indication is high-yield spreads, which reached ten-year lows in 2018 before widening again in the fourth quarter.

Private credit funds (and hedge funds, which are not included in our data) are now filling a financing void for many middle-market and sponsor-owned companies, helping sectors and providing security structures avoided by banks. Private credit has also increasingly returned to covenant-light lending as the market has grown hotter: in a recent survey by the Alternative Credit Council, 38 percent of North American private credit lenders reported lower financial covenants in the past year, versus just 8 percent reporting higher covenants.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are obvious merits to investing in privately held companies. For one thing the reporting requirements are considerably less onerous but there is also cashflow and the ability to invest in growth at an earlier stage; thereby catching more of the base effect as businesses expand. The flip side is these advantages are well understood and the desire to capture yield has reduced returns and driven up prices.



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 20th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: geopolitical tensions rise over the Hong Kong protests but markets relatively muted, some consolidation of recent gains does look likely at this stage, oil firm, gold steady, Australian yields under pressure. 



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Accuses China of Torturing Ex-Hong Kong Consulate Worker

This article by Iain Marlow and Lucille Liu for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The intervention comes after Simon Cheng -- a Hong Kong resident who worked for the consulate’s business-development team before he went missing in mainland China for 15 days in August -- said on Wednesday he was beaten and forced to confess while detained by Chinese agents, who pressed him for information on participants in the city’s protests.

“Simon Cheng was a valued member of our team,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. “We were shocked and appalled by the mistreatment he suffered while in Chinese detention, which amounts to torture.” Raab said he summoned the Chinese ambassador in London to demand an investigation into the “brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China’s international obligations.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China claims anyone with Chinese heritage as its own, regardless of where they were born or what passport they hold. It’s what forms the basis for the greater China argument and is used to back up their territorial claims well beyond their land border. It also ensures that people who look Chinese tend to be treated as if they are Chinese when in custody. It’s questionable whether Simon Cheng would have been treated the same were he Caucasian.



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Has Seen the Future, and It's Here

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

HUAWEI
There were startlingly few references to Europe or Japan. The only time I heard the word “Brexit” was in a self-deprecatory comment from an Englishman. But China is front and center. There appeared to be little deep belief that a trade truce would create much of a reason to buy stocks or other risk assets. Instead, there is a concern about the deeper source of the U.S.-China conflict, over the safeguarding of intellectual property, and the notion that China has stolen American ideas and jobs. Huawei Technologies Co., the telecom equipment manufacturer, is the poster child for the dispute over intellectual property. Buzz words like the risk of a “Silicon Curtain” to divide the world as the Iron Curtain once did are also floating around.

What can investors do to protect ourselves? Most seem to think the U.S. and China are likely to survive relatively unscathed. Investing in companies that will benefit from a likely increase in spending on IT in China was an interesting idea from UBS’s Tan, who also suggests looking for beneficiaries of supply chain resets, such as Vietnam and other parts of emerging Asia. I would add Mexico, which has an obvious logistical advantage. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The consensus is very often wrong and predictions about what is likely to occur next year tell us more about what people are worried about now, and how they are positioned, than they do about the future.



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia to Fast-Track $2.6 Billion of Infrastructure Projects

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

Morrison has been loathe to provide stimulus that may jeopardize a promised return to surplus this fiscal year, even after the central bank urged his government to help facilitate spending on major projects.

Reserve Bank of Australia chief Philip Lowe has called for the government to tap record-low borrowing costs to ramp up investment in roads, railways and bridges to support economic growth and employment as the central bank’s conventional interest-rate ammunition comes to an end.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has so far resisted bringing forward additional income tax cuts, maintaining he’s already doing enough to support the economy. Morrison will maintain that stance in Wednesday’s speech.

“A panicked reaction to contemporary challenges would amount to a serious misdiagnosis of our economic situation,” Morrison will say in the speech. “A responsible and sensible government does not run the country as if it is constantly at DEFCON1 the whole time, whether on the economy or any other issue.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

While the ideal of a budget surplus is laudable, the government bond market is suggesting a lot more stimulus is required to reignite animal spirits. Easing mortgage rules, fiscal stimulus and lower interest rates are have all been implemented in the last few months to support growth but Australia has among the world’s highest consumer debt to GDP ratios. That suggests continued commitment to supporting the economy is going to be required if the expansion is to persist.



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November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 19th 2019

November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What future? It's the end of Hong Kong as we know it

This article by Alex Lo for the South China Morning Post may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section from the conclusion:

I get something else, too. If there is no hope, there is only the present. Things you do today will have no consequences. That, actually, can be a liberating realisation. If there is no tomorrow, then anything is possible, nothing is prohibited.

Violence is its own liberation – an ecstatic orgy of destruction alongside your comrades. It’s not a means but an end in and of itself. But you are not doing it because you are fighting for freedom and democracy, or against tyranny. You only say you are.

Maybe we self-serving old-timers have robbed our children of their future. But they are helping us dig our own graves. It’s not: “If we burn, you burn with us.” It’s: “We are all burning together.”

Well, dear young people, you now have your wish: we can all self-destruct together. It’s the end of Hong Kong as we know it, and many local people are fine with it.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hong Kong is the subject of a major transition. The great Pearl River Delta is the focus on a major industrial hub where Hong Kong has long acted as an interlocutor for international trade. The future as outlined by the central government is that the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau will form unified trading and financial hub aimed at rivalling the Bay Area in California. For Hong Kong that represents a major change because it is more a marriage of equals at best or at worst it represents the terminal decline of the island economy in preference to the mainland.



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November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Netherlands Headed For Unprecedented Crisis: Millions Of Retirees Face Pensions Cuts Thanks To The ECB

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

 

In some ways, the Netherlands has one of Europe's most generous retirement systems: at its core, it represents a basic pay-as-you-go state pension as well as employer-run pension scheme which together provide workers with about 80% of their average lifetime wages when they retire. The US and UK have similar systems, but Dutch pension funds are more generous and must use a lower risk-free rate to value their liabilities, forcing them to hold more assets.

Unfortunately, the lower Dutch risk-free rate is not low enough, and as a result about 70 employer-run pension funds with 12.1m members had funding ratios below the statutory minimum at the end of September, according to the Dutch central bank. And here lies the rub: if funds have ratios below the legal minimum for five consecutive years or have no prospect of recovering to a more healthy level, they must cut their payouts. Interest rates have rebounded slightly in recent weeks, but many funds are still facing cuts.

In other words, in making a select handful of European stockholders rich courtesy of NIRP and QE, Mario Draghi is threatening the pensions of hundreds of millions of retired European workers.

So what, if any, is the solution?

Last week, Rabobank reported that the Minister of Social Affairs is supposedly willing to prevent a large part of the pension benefit cuts of 2020, as the government is reportedly willing to lower the minimum coverage ratio from 100% to 90% for one year. This temporary measure can be seen as a pause button, which buys time for:

Pension funds to hopefully recover over the next year. For pension funds, a rise in their risk-free rate term structure which is used to discount their liabilities (EUR 6m swap rates) would be most helpful
Continuing to work out the details of the Pension Reforms announced in June 2019. Unions, employer representatives and the opposition parties were against pension cuts because this would undermine the goals set out in the Pension Reforms.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The logical result of negative yields is the holders of these assets eventually take a loss. Since pensions generally run a ladder of maturities in an attempt to match cashflows with liabilities the proverbial buck stops with them as the yield-to-worst loss is priced in.



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November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crispr Surges as Gene Editing Shows Promise in Blood Disease

This article by Bailey Lipschultz and Michelle Fay Cortez for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“While the data are early, we are quite excited about what we are seeing,” he said in a telephone interview. “This is a pretty significant milestone, not just for us as a company but for the entire field. This could be an important landmark in medicine, when we saw the first promise for providing cures for a number of diseases using a gene editing approach.”

The early findings may benefit rival companies also studying medicines based on Crispr technology, as they are the first results from publicly traded companies using the platform. Editas Medicine Inc.’s lead drug will be given to its first patient at the start of next year as a treatment for a form of blindness, while Intellia Therapeutics Inc. is on track to file for its first human trial by mid-year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gene editing deals in cures rather than treatments. That’s a major challenge for the traditional pharmaceuticals business. Chronic conditions which requite ongoing treatment but have no cure have been massive money spinner for the pharmaceuticals business for decades. Right now, the cost of cures is extraordinarily high because a one-shot solution has to load all of the revenue from a treatment into one bill rather than spacing it out with a chronic condition. However, as the sector moves out of the orphan disease sector and into the mainstream over the next decade the potential for costs to come down is quite compelling.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 18th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: impact of electric vehciles on oil spikes as a lead indicator of recession, Apple and Microsoft's combined market cap exceeds than of Consumer Staples. gold steadies, bonds firm, China steadies, 



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aramco Failure to Win Foreign Money Makes IPO Local Event

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

Most of the money is likely to be raised from domestic rather than foreign investors. This means that the proceeds won’t be a fresh inflow of foreign capital but an internal transfer from Saudi households and corporates to the government. --Ziad Daoud, Chief Middle East Economist for Bloomberg Economics

So poor is the international appetite for the deal, even at the lower valuation, Saudi Aramco decided at the last minute against marketing the IPO in the U.S., Canada and Japan -- three markets traditionally seen as a must-go destination for any big Wall Street deal. Instead of the planned approach to American investors, using what lawyers and bankers know as the 144A rule of the U.S. Securities Act, Aramco decided on Sunday the tepid interest meant it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russian and Chinese assets always appear at the top of value screens when sorting for value on a global scale. However, that ignores the geopolitical risk of investing in those areas. The same might now also be true of the Saudi Aramco IPO. The attack on Saudi Aramco’s infrastructure served to highlight how exposed it is to damage from conflict and that alone was probably enough to compress the valuation and deter interest ahead of the IPO.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ford Unveils Electric Mustang SUV to Challenge Tesla Dominance

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

The Mach-E will make a profit “on vehicle one,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “That’s surprising a lot of people because electrics have not had a history of making money. This will.”

Hackett said it will turn a profit because the vehicle “creates the passion that follows with Mustang” and prices start in the mid-$30,000 when U.S. subsides on electric cars are factored in. “So it’s attractive to customers.”

Ford is building it in Mexico because it had an open factory there and it needed to be overhauled to build an electric vehicle, Hackett said. “As we start to adopt more electric vehicles — we had capacity down there, we had no capacity in the United States — we’re going to have electric capacity here in the United States. They’ll be building other electric platforms.”

Still, it’s a high-risk gambit. The Mustang is Ford’s signature sports car, having sold more than 10 million units since it debuted in 1964 with simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek. When Ford decided to abandon the traditional passenger-car business last year, it spared only one model: The Mustang.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sports cars, pickups and SUVs represent the high margin portions of the auto industry. Many traditional manufacturers are racing to get electric SUVs and sedans into the market to compete with Tesla. Today’s Ford announcement is obviously aimed at competing with the Model 3, while Tesla’s debut for its pick-up, on Thursday, is aimed at competing with the F-150. The disruption in the auto sector is forcing massive investment in new manufacturing capacity and not all will survive. From listening to what Jim Hackett had to say about profitability, it sounds there is some creative accounting in making the claim the electric Mustang will be profitable on car one.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on Brexit In Name Only (BRINO)

Your recent comments that Boris Johnson's Brexit is really a BRINO have left me a bit puzzled. It's true that it's not the best deal, but to characterise it as worse than Theresa May's as some have done seems to me to be wide of the mark. Given the constraints of parliament, deadlines and Ireland - to mention just three - it seems to me that it's pretty good. 

I show a link below from an article by Martin Howe QC who is an informed commentator on Brexit and Chair of Lawyers for Britain. In it, he argues the case that it's not a bad deal which I think is well made. But it all rests on the Conservatives getting a good majority.

https://brexitcentral.com/if-boris-johnson-secures-a-majority-the-transition-period-will-not-be-extended-beyond-next-year/

As always, thanks for your invaluable commentary and insights.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The conditions of the transition agreement are the UK will honour all of its financial commitments with the EU and will not adjust tariffs and regulations to compete directly with the EU. That deal is due to expire at the end of 2020, because when it was originally negotiated there was about two years to run. Instead it is more likely there will be 11 months to negotiate a trade agreement by the time the deal is potentially approved by Parliament following the election. That is of course assuming the Conservatives win re-election with a working majority.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CECL Symposium Highlights: Still More Questions Than Answers

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Raymond James which is dated August 6th but makes a number of worthwhile points. Here is a section:

What is CECL?: CECL is a new accounting standard that modifies how companies estimate loan and lease losses, and affects all periods starting after December 15, 2019 (i.e., begins 1Q20). In the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) established the Financial Crisis Advisory Group (FCAG). FCAG believes it has identified a “weakness in current GAAP being the delayed recognition of credit losses that results in the potential overstatements of assets,” which ultimately led to its recommendation for this new standard. The new standard requires financial institutions to use a combination of historical information, current conditions and reasonable forecasts to estimate the expected losses over the life of a loan. This is a significant shift from the current methodology, which relies on incurred losses. We note on day one of implementation, there will be a balance sheet adjustment, creating additional general reserves for expected credit losses and negatively impacting capital levels, but implying limited income statement impacts.

Conclusion: We walked away with more questions than answers, and anticipate a significant amount of variability in disclosures amongst the banks given the latitude FASB has provided in the standards. While many questions remain, FASB officials, consultants and management teams alike continue to work through the issues and are refining models as overall understanding of the standards improves. Fortunately, we anticipate regulatory capital relief for the banks as necessary, since capital levels remain elevated and the intent of the new standards was not to increase capital levels at the banks. However, we believe there could be some unintended consequences and potential ripple effects that will create further disruption in the space, potentially shifting assets out of the banking space and into the non-bank space, which has continued to gain share. Ultimately, we remain concerned with the uncertainty around CECL, anticipated volatility around disclosures and capital impacts, as well as potential negative implications on industry demand will serve to provide one more reason for investors to not own the space.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) regime is another piece of regulation imposed on the banking sector which serves to ensure the overleverage and inappropriate risk management that characterised the industry ahead of the financial crisis is not repeated. One of the primary results of successive waves of regulation has been to pile compliance costs onto the banks but it has also reduced their ability to leverage their balance sheets which has unintended consequences.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

SoftBank Next 30-Year Vision

Thanks to a subscriber for this report which may be of interest.

This vision is designed with the time span of 300 years. The next 3 decades is merely the first step

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report contains a number of truly inspiring ideas. Everything from universal happiness, to the power of computers to far exceed the computing power of the human brain, to tripling longevity, to creating a management structure capable of surviving all of this radical change. Some of these promises are still in the realm of the science fiction, some are a lot closer to reality than we might realise.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amarin Fish-Oil Heart Drug Will Be Big, Could Be Huge

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

Part of that question was answered Thursday after a panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration reviewed Amarin's data. They voted 16 to 0 that Vascepa was safe and cuts cardiovascular events. The vote doesn’t bind the FDA, but the agency often follows panel recommendations, so it would be a surprise now if the drug isn’t made available to more Americans. That’s big news for Amarin — and for many patients. 

We still don't know exactly how good the news is, however, and won’t until the FDA makes a final decision by the end of the year. There was consensus on the drug’s overall effectiveness. Still, the panelists disagreed about how far that impact extends. Access for millions of additional patients and billions of potential sales are still up the air, which means there’s more volatility ahead for Amarin investors. The market seems focused on the positives for now: Amarin shares surged 7% in early trading Friday after rising more than 20% on Tuesday, when the FDA released briefing documents ahead of the panel that were seen as relatively supportive for the drug.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mrs. Treacy is genetically predisposed to pancreatitis during pregnancy and has had a couple of episodes in between pregnancies which have required hospitalisation. The cardiologist who implemented a treatment plan to contain her hypolipidemia during her last pregnancy prescribed a massive daily dose of fish oil and it worked. Every time since then she has found fish oil acts as a salve to pancreatic pain which has ensured she has not been hospitalised in six years.  



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 14th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Wall Street leading on the upside, China the epicentre of risk, industrial commodities and commodity currencies weak, negative rates increase scope for competitive currency devaluation, gold steadies. 



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November 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sputtering China Growth Underscores Need for Trade Reprieve

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

The investment data shows how cautious private companies have become, with their spending in the first 10 months of the year at the lowest level since 2016. The continued stability in spending by state-owned firms’ is preventing an even stronger drop in the headline data.

Investment in the property market is one bright spot, with spending by the manufacturing sector barely above the record low recorded in September. Infrastructure investment growth continued to bounce along around 4% as it has all year.

“I’m quite concerned with property investment, the only stable element in fixed-asset investment now,” according to Xue Zhou, analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd in Hong Kong. “Monetary policy needs to be more supportive on economic growth and there should be more cuts to banks’ reserve ratios to help smaller banks.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The first couple of months of the year are when the Chinese financial system gets its annual quota for lending and generally makes its full allocation by around Chinese New Year. That sends a surge of liquidity into the market in January and February but the broader question is how much of that is already priced in considering it is so predictable.



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November 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Luckin Coffee's Stock Shoots Up After Revenue Rises Above Expectations

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

Shares of Luckin Coffee Inc. (LK) shot up 7.6% in premarket trading Wednesday, after the China-based coffee seller reported wider third-quarter loss but revenue that rose above expectations. The net loss was RMB531.9 million ($74.4 million), or RMB3.60 per American Depository Share, after a loss of RMB484.9 million, or RMB2.24 per ADS a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, the adjusted per-ADS loss was RMB2.08, compared with the FactSet consensus for loss per ADS was RMB2.75. Revenue rose to RMB1.54 billion ($219.6 million) from RMB240.8 million, to beat expectations of RMB1.47 billion. Average monthly items sold were 44.2 million, up from 7.8 million a year ago, while the average monthly transacting customers grew to 9.3 million from 1.9 million. "During the third quarter, sales from freshly-brewed coffee drinks continued to maintain very strong growth, and we believe we will reach our goal to become the largest coffee player in China by the end of this year," said Chief Executive Jenny Qian. The stock. which went public on May 17, has tumbled 22.7% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has gained 5.7%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I wanted to try a Luckin Coffee while in Guangzhou over the summer but I was voted down by my daughters who could not get enough of boba tea. Since they discovered smores frappacinos the two alternatives are more balanced but they will always still choose a boba tea over a trip to Starbucks.



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November 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Is Wrong About Negative Interest Rates

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

Finally, there’s little evidence that negative rates have held back lending. A recent ECB working paper shows deposits with commercial lenders have increased since the central bank introduced negative deposit rates. At the same time, companies with large cash holdings have cut their deposits and invested more. That’s exactly the goal of this policy.

In fact, banks that pass on negative rates to customers appear to provide more credit than other lenders. This suggests that, contrary to what those Wall Street titans say, the problem with negative rates is that not enough banks inflict them on their clients.

It’s certainly possible that monetary policy becomes less effective as central banks cut interest rates deeper into negative territory. Gauti Eggertsson of Brown University and Larry Summers of Harvard have looked at Sweden, a pioneer in cutting rates below zero. They concluded that while its first two negative moves reduced lending rates, this wasn’t repeated after two later cuts.

However, similar diminishing returns are seen in other unorthodox measures, including asset purchases. The authors also acknowledge that the rate cuts might have boosted Sweden’s economy via other channels, for example by depreciating the krona, allowing the government to borrow more and boosting asset prices.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Forcing people into speculative activity when asset prices are already at record highs is not exactly a recipe for financial security over the medium to long term. In the short-term it greatly increases bubble risk.



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November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Photos: Hong Kong police and students are fighting a war in one of the city's top universities

This article by Mary Hui for Quartz may be of interest. Here is a section:

Continuing on from the hours-long siege yesterday (Nov. 11), when police fired tear gas at the school and made arrests on campus, protesters took their positions again this morning as they faced off with police stationed on a bridge just outside the school grounds. Shortly after 3pm local time, riot police charged onto the hilly tree-lined campus, deploying round after round of tear gas continuously for at least a quarter of an hour.

Just after sunset, police finally appeared to retreat as university vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan addressed a crowd after speaking with students and police separately. But tear gas was again fired soon after, breaking the momentary cease fire. Another attempt by pro-vice-chancellor Dennis Ng to broker a deal, with the school official speaking on the phone to the police commander as a student relayed the message in real time over a microphone to the crowd, similarly faltered. Clashes stretched late into the night, as students and police battled it out on a bridge that connects to campus from across a harbor.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no sign the protests in Hong Kong are moderating. In fact, the trend is towards further intensification which is obviously a challenge to Beijing’s policy to date of waiting it out. When schools are closed there are tens of thousands of students with nothing to do so many find themselves on the street. In such an emotional volatile situation there is ample scope for further escalation.



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November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Deepens Push for Financial Data With Citigroup Tie-Up

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

“We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools,” Google said in an emailed statement, adding that the accounts will carry federally guaranteed insurance.

The move is the latest sign of Silicon Valley’s determination to muscle in on financial firms’ territory, looking to expand their hold on customers and accumulate data on their finances. At the same time, it shows banks are more willing to pair up with technology companies in their quest to avoid getting shut out of the relationship entirely. In the Google arrangement, the financial institutions will handle most of the compliance requirements.

Google has spent years building out its payments capabilities, offering consumers the ability to send money to friends and check out both online and in stores through Google Pay. With the checking accounts, consumers will be able to receive their paychecks and transact solely inside the Google ecosystem.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple has teamed up with Goldman Sachs to branch into consumer credit while Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are planning on tackling the health care market. Google is partnering with Citigroup on consumer credit but Ascension on patient data. These stories highlight how eager tech companies are to branch into these data-rich sectors, where legacy players are ill-equipped to monetise the value, they have access to.



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November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Fed Is Losing Its Grip on U.S. Interest Rates Once Again

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

Last month, the Fed said it would buy Treasury bills to maintain a level of bank reserves at or above levels last seen two months ago.

“These actions are purely technical measures to support the effective implementation of monetary policy as we continue to learn about the appropriate level of reserves,” Powell said. Powell later told lawmakers that he thinks the Fed has contained the problem with the repo market. “I think we have it under control,” he said. “We’re prepared to continue to learn and adjust, but it’s a process and it’s one that doesn’t have implications for the economy or general public.” It appears, he added, that U.S. banking reserves need to be just under $1.5 trillion to maintain the peace.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

According to some of the research I’ve seen, before the tightening of banking regulation the sector provided in the region of $150 billion in liquidity to the repo market. The removal of that pool of liquidity represents a tightening the Fed has been forced to move in to fill. However so far it has had to add $300 billion to its balance sheet to grease the market. That’s not exactly an ideal scenario.



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November 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for November 12th 2019

November 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Some of the World's Richest Brace for a Major Stock Sell-Off -

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

Wealthy people around the globe are hunkering down for a potentially turbulent 2020, according to UBS Global Wealth Management.

A majority of rich investors expect a significant drop in markets before the end of next year, and 25% of their average assets are currently in cash, according to a survey of more than 3,400 global respondents. The U.S.-China trade conflict is their top geopolitical concern, while the upcoming American presidential election is seen as another significant threat to portfolios.

And

Still, it seems that wealthy investor caution is strictly for the short-term. Almost 70% of respondents globally are optimistic about investment returns over the next 10 years.

“The challenge is that they seem to want to respond” to short-term uncertainty “by really shortening their time horizons and shifting to assets like cash that are safe,” said Michael Crook, a managing director on the investment strategy team. Though with many of these people investing on a time horizon across decades and for future generations, that “seems like a mismatch.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The visceral experience of an almost 20% decline in the fourth quarter last year ensures people are eager to avoid a similar experience this year.



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November 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the outlook for the Pound and the UK

I can never understand the irrationality of the markets (I know, I can hear David's words, "the markets don't care what you or I think" ringing in my ears!) but surely a decisive separation from the EU, if necessary on WTO terms would eliminate uncertainty and settle the issue for good. The notion of a Brexit with the UK still subservient to the EU's protectionist policies and antidemocratic dogma will fester among the majority of the British public causing it to flare up again repeatedly in the years ahead.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this note which I believe accurately encompasses the emotional response many of us feel at the creeping slide in ideological purity the solution to success of the Brexit referendum represents.



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November 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CLO Selloff Flashes Warning Sign to Junk Bond Market

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

CLOs resemble the mortgage-backed bonds that imploded in 2008, but very few defaulted in the credit crisis, a key driver of their recent popularity. Prices for their shares and bonds, however, plummeted at the time, and holders who sold out took heavy losses.

Now some CLO bond prices are falling again. That is because the riskier loans the CLOs own are dropping in value as the companies that borrowed them start running out of cash. CLO bonds rated double-B, which are among the riskiest CLO securities, returned about 10% this year through June. But recent declines, especially last month, erased most of the gains, giving holders a roughly 1% return this year through October.

That contrasts sharply with high-yield bonds: Many of the same companies to which CLOs lend issue junk bonds, which returned about 12% this year through October, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“If you think that double-B CLOs are giving a warning sign, that says something about high yield,” said David Preston, head of CLO research at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s hard to see how both markets can be right.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The energy sector is where the majority of spread expansion has taken place as higher cost, more leveraged, issuers have come under pressure. The relatively stable oil price at present is not high enough to rescue these issuers and the existential crisis gripping Chesapeake Energy is an example of the stress coming to bear on higher cost producers, particularly in a low natural gas price environment.



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pound Jumps After Farage Promises Not to Contest Tory Seats

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

The currency’s focus on politics above all else was once again on show Monday, as the pound barely reacted to U.K. GDP growth, only to move close to 1% on the political developments. Strategists had said a coalition between the Brexit Party and the ruling Conservatives could have been the worst outcome for the pound, as Farage’s lawmakers would likely seek a more distant relationship with the EU and even push for a no-deal Brexit.

Still, though the news is positive for the U.K. currency, it’s not “a game changer,” according to Rochester. Even if the Conservatives were to keep all of their seats from last time, that would still mean a hung Parliament, and the Brexit Party still plans to stand in seats which were won by the opposition Labour party last time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Splitting the Conservative vote is the biggest risk to a market friendly outcome to the UK election. With the Brexit Party instead deciding to focus on Labour seats that removes a barrier to a Johnson majority. There is no doubt he is a divisive figure but he is also a personality that many voters can identify with. That increases the potential the next Parliament with deliver a much-needed majority.



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The next 6 months favor Cyclicals: Financials, Energy, Industrials, Tech, Materials

Thanks to a subscriber for this chart illustrated report by Barry Bannister for Stifel which may be of interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I have some sympathy with the view that when everyone is short, the risk of a short covering rally greatly increases. That’s particularly true if Saudi Arabia succeeds in encouraging OPEC to further reduce supply to bolster the valuation of Saudi Aramco ahead of the IPO.



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric cars are changing the cost of driving

This article by Michael J. Coren for Quartz may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

It’s difficult to know how representative this data is of Teslas overall, given that Tesloop’s fleet is small, but it likely includes a large share of the highest-mileage Teslas on the road—several are nearing 500,000 miles. Finding conventional vehicles to compare is virtually impossible since most fleet cars are typically sold off after 100,000 miles.

But the implications could be huge. Every year, corporations and rental car companies add more than 12 million vehicles in Europe and North America to their fleets (pdf). Adding EVs to the mix could see those cars lasting five times longer—costing a fraction of conventional cars over the same period—while feeding a massive new stream of used electric cars into the marketplace. Whether the future of fleets is really electric, however, depends on the data. And that’s still in short supply.  

The promise of EVs
Most commercial vehicle fleets still run on gasoline and diesel, David Hayward, a fleet expert with Deloitte consulting, said. But EVs are top of mind. “Everyone is excited about it and everyone wants it,” he told Quartz. “But there’s trepidation.” The potential savings are huge. Fleet owners’ biggest expenses after depreciation (44%) are fuel (22%) and maintenance and repairs (11%), according to Deloitte.  EVs could slash those by more than half.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The original electric vehicles that entered service about ten years ago have some of the lowest resale values and steepest depreciations of any car. Meanwhile the Tesla Model 3 was the car with the least depreciation of any vehicle this year. That is a function of both supply and built up demand but the success in limiting the erosion of the battery’s charge potential has reversed the economics of the electric vehicle market. If a car can comfortably drive 500,000 miles with little to no maintenance, other than tyres, the only limitation is range. Right now, a Model 3 has about a 300 miles range which more than enough for most people. My SUV will do around 480 miles on the highway to a tank but probably closer to 200 in the stop/go of the city so the range issue is less of an issue today.



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