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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 26th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: coronavirus containment versus contagion, stocks remain weak with many indices in the region of their trend means, oil at a new low, gold steady, bonds remain firm, South Korea Banks accelerating lower, hong introduces helicopter money. 



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold-Backed ETFs Have Never Seen a Run of Inflows Like This

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

Global investors are stashing more and more assets into gold as the coronavirus outbreak spreads and appetite for risk takes a hit.

The global tally of bullion in exchange-traded funds swelled by the most in more than a month on Tuesday as equities sank. That was the 25th consecutive day of inflows, a record. At 2,624.7 tons, the holdings are the largest ever.

After surging 18% last year, gold has extended its rally in 2020, with prices hitting the highest since 2013. The haven has been favored as the virus outbreak has spread beyond China, threatening a pandemic and slower growth.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has said that should the disruption from the disease stretch into the second quarter, prices may rally toward $1,850 an ounce. Spot bullion was last at $1,644.67, up 0.6%. It touched $1,689.31 on Monday.

A global recession is likely if the coronavirus becomes a pandemic, according to Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. The odds of that outcome now stand at 40%, up from 20%, he said in a note.

The threat of a prolonged downturn in growth due to the impact of the virus may keep gold elevated, according to Morgan Stanley. Further ETF inflows are likely as long as real interest rates remain negative, it said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Total Known Holdings of Gold in ETFs hit a new all-time high yesterday. The most significant point about the advent of ETFs as a major holder of bullion is even during the bear market for gold, ETFs still held 45 million ounces. Today it’s almost 85 million ounces.



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Confirms Coronavirus Case, the First in Latin America

This article by Simone Iglesias and Fabiola Moura for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A 61-year-old Brazilian man who lives in Sao Paulo was infected during a recent trip to Northern Italy and tested positive upon returning to the country, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said Wednesday at a news conference in Brasilia. The patient, who traveled via France on the way back to Brazil, is doing well and is at home, a Sao Paulo state official said.

“We’ll have to see how the virus reacts in a tropical country in the middle of summer,” Mandetta said. “We still can’t say how lethal this virus will be.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Maybe they should ask how Singapore has successfully contained the spread of the virus? The stock market lost now time pricing in the fear of a wider spread with the iBovespa dropped nearly 8% to test the region of the trend mean and the four-year sequence of higher reaction lows.



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Berkshire Hathaway Inc Shareholder Letter

Thanks to a subcsriber for this letter by Warren Buffett. Here is a section on utilities:

Berkshire Hathaway Energy is now celebrating its 20th year under our ownership. That anniversary suggests that we should be catching up with the company’s accomplishments.

We’ll start with the topic of electricity rates. When Berkshire entered the utility business in 2000, purchasing 76% of BHE, the company’s residential customers in Iowa paid an average of 8.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Prices for residential customers have since risen less than 1% a year, and we have promised that there will be no base rate price increases through 2028. In contrast, here’s what is happening at the other large investor-owned Iowa utility: Last year, the rates it charged its residential customers were 61% higher than BHE’s. Recently, that utility received a rate increase that will widen the gap to 70%.

The extraordinary differential between our rates and theirs is largely the result of our huge accomplishments in converting wind into electricity. In 2021, we expect BHE’s operation to generate about 25.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity (MWh) in Iowa from wind turbines that it both owns and operates. That output will totally cover the annual needs of its Iowa customers, which run to about 24.6 million MWh. In other words, our utility will have attained wind self-sufficiency in the state of Iowa.

In still another contrast, that other Iowa utility generates less than 10% of its power from wind. Furthermore, we know of no other investor-owned utility, wherever located, that by 2021 will have achieved a position of wind self-sufficiency. In 2000, BHE was serving an agricultural-based economy; today, three of its five largest customers are high-tech giants. I believe their decisions to site plants in Iowa were in part based upon BHE’s ability to deliver renewable, low-cost energy.

Of course, wind is intermittent, and our blades in Iowa turn only part of the time. In certain periods, when the air is still, we look to our non-wind generating capacity to secure the electricity we need. At opposite times, we sell the excess power that wind provides us to other utilities, serving them through what’s called “the grid.” The power we sell them supplants their need for a carbon resource – coal, say, or natural gas.

Berkshire Hathaway now owns 91% of BHE in partnership with Walter Scott, Jr. and Greg Abel. BHE has never paid Berkshire Hathaway a dividend since our purchase and has, as the years have passed, retained $28 billion of earnings. That pattern is an outlier in the world of utilities, whose companies customarily pay big dividends – sometimes reaching, or even exceeding, 80% of earnings. Our view: The more we can invest, the more we like it.

Today, BHE has the operating talent and experience to manage truly huge utility projects – requiring investments of $100 billion or more – that could support infrastructure benefitting our country, our communities and our shareholders. We stand ready, willing and able to take on such opportunities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I found this to be an enlightening discussion of the utilities sector. The long-held perception is that these kinds of businesses can afford to pay out the majority of free cashflow in dividends because they are charging rents on established pieces of infrastructure with easily forecastable maintenance and renewal trajectories. As Berkshire’s experience with wind demonstrates, this ignores the long-term risk of exogenous shocks, technological innovation, changing regulation and infrastructure reaching the end of its useful life.



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Reddit's Profane, Greedy Traders Are Shaking Up the Stock Market

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

The do-it-yourself traders of r/WSB are waging a kind of guerrilla warfare in the markets, trying to exploit what they see as weaknesses in the system to move prices where they want them. For anyone who wondered about where the small day traders who made the 1990s so wild went, meet the 2020 version. After years of indifference, individual investors seem to be finding their way back to stocks, for better or worse. They’re flexing muscles in ways that can easily call to mind excesses from the dot-com era.

“There is no denying the fact that in the month of February 2020, the public is back,” says Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivatives strategist at BTIG LLC. He thinks the S&P 500 can jump an extra 10% because of small-investor enthusiasm. “This bull market is not going to end until the public falls in love with stocks, and that process may just be beginning.” Of course, timing the moment when irrational exuberance gives way to a mass exit isn’t so easy. Chatrooms where stocks were hyped are seminal artefacts of the 1990s boom and the following bust. They were a setting for bare-fisted digital brawls among all manner of hustlers and promoters, many of whom could move shares on a dime—sometimes just enough so they could get out and leave others holding the bag.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Back in the ‘90s an aspiring day trader needed to go to an internet café or dedicated trading location to get multiple trades done intraday. Today it takes nothing more than a phone app and can be done anywhere at any time.

It used to be a monumental decision on whether to quit one’s job to pursue trading because it was considered impossible to do both fruitfully at the same time. Today that decision is not as relevant although anyone who thinks trading is easy is in for a hard lesson. The temptation in a momentum driven move is to mistake a bull market for brains. Actively participating in online forums, while trading around the edges is easily done without the need to make big decisions about one’s personal life, other than with one’s money of course.



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coronavirus threatens the global economy with a 'sudden stop'

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

Contagion experts Peter Sandman, Ian Mackay, and Jody Lanard sum up my view in this passage from Past Time to Tell the Public: It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now:

“We are near-certain that the desperate-sounding, last-ditch containment messaging of recent days is contributing to a massive global misperception about the near-term future. One horrible effect of this continued 'stop the pandemic' daydream masquerading as a policy goal: it is driving counter-productive and outrage-inducing measures by many countries against travellers from other countries, even their own citizens back from other countries.

“But possibly more horrible: the messaging is driving resources toward 'stopping' and away from the main potential benefit of containment – slowing the spread of the pandemic and thereby buying a little more time to prepare for what’s coming.”

For readers who can spare the time, I suggest tuning out media noise – much of it dwelling on the malevolent distraction of which individual may have been spreading Covid-19 – and going straight to research papers being released daily by PubMed Central, the data bank of the US National Library of Medicine.

That way you avoid the sort of misunderstanding I just heard on the BBC, which stated that the death rate is comparable to flu. No, it is not. The average morbidity of flu annually is 0.1pc; Covid-19 is an order of far greater magnitude.

The latest tracking data as of Feb 22 (unreliable, but the best we have) is that the mortality rate is 4pc in Wuhan, 2.8pc in Hubei, and 0.8pc in other regions of China, though all figures are creeping up as slow deaths hit the data.

There can be long lag times after infection so it is too early to infer ratios from South Korea, Italy and Iran, but this is surely more like the Spanish Flu of 1918 than anything we are used to. Chinese data suggests that roughly 14pc of those infected over the age of 80 are dying.

You can read most of the PubMed abstracts free and can see what is coming out of labs in China – some of them excellent – or in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Europe and North America. There are already 80 peer-reviewed papers. The unfiltered findings are arriving almost in real time. They give you an extra edge.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The annual seasonal flu becomes a pandemic every year. The coronavirus shares enough similarities with the flu in how it spreads to become a pandemic. Meanwhile, it is far more deadly.

This graphic, produced by the New York Times a few weeks ago gives us a good picture of what we are dealing with. The mortality rate is anything from 8 to 40 times more deadly than flu while the transmission or contagion factor is about the same or higher.   



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Exxon Drops to 15-Year Low Ahead of Annual Strategy Presentation

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

 

Exxon Mobil Corp. fell to a 15-year low on Monday amid a broad selloff in equity and commodity markets and just over a week before Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is scheduled to present the oil explorer’s long-term strategic plan to investors and analysts.

The shares have been under pressure since Exxon disclosed disappointing fourth-quarter results in late January and prospects for a near-term recovery were dimmed by the spreading coronavirus. Excess supplies of natural gas, chemicals and motor fuels also weighed on the oil supermajor.

Exxon fell 4.7% to close at $56.36 on Monday in New York as Brent crude tumbled to about $56 a barrel. The last time the Texas-based driller’s stock traded at this level was the end of 2005, when crude fetched $59.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Exxon Mobil is one of the original cast of S&P500 Dividend Aristocrats. It has been decades since it cut its dividend so investors are looking on eagerly to hear how the company plans to retain a strong position in the global energy market that will allow it to sustain pay outs.



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU's Barnier Hits Boris Johnson With Brexit Trade Ultimatum

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

“Our overriding priority is to retake control of our laws,” Slack told reporters in London as Barnier spoke in Brussels. “The British public were promised we will take control of our fishing waters and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The EU does have level playing field conditions in other trade deals -- including its tariff-free agreement on goods trade with Canada that the U.K. wants to replicate -- but they aren’t as stringent. The EU says it needs to be tougher with the U.K. because the British economy is so close and so large.

That is reflected in the final negotiating mandate European ministers approved on Tuesday. In it, the bloc requires the U.K. to broadly follow any future changes in EU rules on competition policy, environmental protections, tax, and labor law.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Access to the UK’s, and Ireland for that matter, fisheries is worth billions to the Spanish and French economies every year. It is logical that allowing access should form part of any trade negotiation between sovereign entities. The UK deserves a significant reward for granting that access and financial services are likely to be part of the price.



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 24th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: Coronavirus spread accelerating outside of China, stock markets in risk off mode, carry trade currency steady, gold extends advance, gold shares break out, bond yields at record lows, bond - equity yield spread back at prior support.



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Risk Parity Nirvana; Buyer's Compendium - 9 Screens Across Growth & Value

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Mike 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.

“The Fed has got your back and they will do whatever is necessary to support asset prices” That is the mantra of stock market investors who have been following a diversified or balanced investment strategy for the last decade. In between there have been occasions when the mantra was challenged, particularly following Jay Powell’s appointment as Fed chair. However, the pivot to easier policy and the response to the repo tightness in Q3 have reasserted belief in the mantra.



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

With Gold Up, Miners Face Payouts Versus Production Dilemma

This article by Justina Vasquez, Danielle Bochove and Steven Frank for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Gold producers are “gushing cash,” said John Hathaway, senior portfolio manager at Sprott Asset Management, in support of the higher dividends. “They are in a position to raise their dividend,” he said. “And there will be boardroom pressure and shareholder pressure to do that.”

The industry has been blasted in the past for underspending on production, overspending on acquisitions and piling up debt. Now, though, after years of fat-trimming, miners and their investors are well-positioned to gain from the higher prices. That’s allowed companies including Barrick and Newmont to boost free-cash flow and, to varying degrees, reward shareholders.

Earlier this month, though, Mark Bristow, Barrick’s chief executive officer, sent a warning shot across the bow of the industry. Even if all current projects work out, he said, gold supply will still fall 30% globally by 2029. While sinking supply would be bullish for bullion prices, margins and revenues could be hit if companies are forced to mine lower-grade or hard-to-access deposits.

Eoin Treacy's view -

All-In-Sustaining-Cost estimates were introduced following the gold crash because investors were tired of seeing every available cent poured into investments in new production. It’s easy to see why miners were anxious to invest. The gold price had been in a bear market for decades and they had not been able to source capital for exploration or new projects. Higher prices ensured the survival of the sector but it came at the expense of stock market performance.



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gilead Surges After WHO Comments on Coronavirus Drug Testing

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

Remdesivir is the “one drug right now that we think may have efficacy,” Bruce Aylward, an assistant director-general at the World Health Organization, said at a briefing in Beijing. WHO officials and international scientists are in the country assessing the outbreak.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The spread of the coronavirus accelerated internationally over the weekend with exponential growth in South Korea and Italy. Right now, there are no cures for the ailment and therefore any whiff of a successful treatment is likely to be rewarded with investor interest.



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February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan Limits Large Gatherings to Thwart Coronavirus

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

Masahiro Kami, an infectious diseases expert, said he was skeptical that the suspension of some public events would have a significant impact on the spread of the virus. “Commuting on a packed train, for instance, is way worse than taking part in the Tokyo marathon,” he said.

Dr. Kami, who heads a nonprofit organization called the Medical Governance Research Institute, said a media focus on the few cases of serious illness from coronavirus infection in Japan had created a panic over the need to cancel events.

While Japan initially had a handful of cases involving people who had come from Wuhan, the center of the epidemic in China, or had direct contact with someone from Wuhan, a surge of cases in the past week included many whose path of infection wasn’t clear. The cases span from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the far south.

More than 1,000 people disembarked from the Diamond Princess cruise ship between Wednesday and Friday, and they entered Japan without restrictions on their movements. All of those passengers tested negative for the virus, but in some cases people have tested positive after a negative test—including two cases reported Friday in Australia, which sent a flight to Japan to repatriate citizens who had been on the ship.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The coronavirus popping up in unrelated areas in Japan is not exactly good news. Additionally, the lax quarantine imposed on the passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise liner greatly increases the potential for the virus to spread even further. At a minimum the potential is for much tighter measures to contain the spread across Japan and other countries. This is also going to create a headache for Abe’s government.



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February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The World's Biggest Economies Get a Jolt of Government Spending

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

In more than half of the world’s 20 biggest economies, analysts now expect looser budgets this year — in other words, bigger deficits or smaller surpluses — than they did six months ago, according to a Bloomberg survey of economist forecasts.

Asian economies like China and South Korea are using fiscal policy to counter the menace of the coronavirus, which has shut down swaths of industry and devastated supply chains, while governments in the U.K. and Russia have ditched long-held commitments to austerity.

The world remains far from an across-the-board easing. Japan recently raised sales taxes, Germany still holds its surplus sacred, and U.S. policy is gridlocked by upcoming elections. And some of the change in budget forecasts are a consequence of weaker growth expectations, rather than higher spending or lower taxes.

As finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies prepare to meet in Riyadh, here’s a roundup of budget forecasts and recent policy shifts in some key countries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The only real question is going to be the magnitude of the central bank response to the coronavirus. A handful of countries have cut interest rates over the last couple of weeks. Meanwhile emergency spending plans will lead to wider deficits in the majority of countries.



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February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mom and Pop Are On Epic Stock Buying Spree Fueled by Free Trades

This article by Lu Wang and Vildana Hajric for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.  Here is a section:

“When you take a bull market and juice it with zero commission trading, we can expect it to generate interest among retail accounts. That, it did,” said Jason Goepfert, president of Sundial. “Retail traders have become manic.”

Individual investors were seen as indifferent participants for much of the 11-year bull market. No more. The latest leg of their emergence times closely with October, when E*Trade, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade slashed commission fees to zero. Not that it’s firm proof of anything, but since the start of that month, the S&P 500 is up 13% and the Nasdaq 100 has surged 24%.

Conversations with a handful of clients found lots of praise for zero-commission trades but mostly conservative purchases -- index funds and blue chips. Matt Hermansen, 23, who works for a concrete company in Oakland, California, said the absence of fees makes him more willing to trade.
“I’ll invest smaller amounts. Before I never really invested anything less than $1,000, $500 minimum,” he said in a phone interview. “Now if I have enough to buy an extra share, I’ll do it. I’ll do like $300.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Welcome back! Remember Caveat Emptor! Retail investors have been absent for the majority of this bull market because they did not have the financial wherewithal to participate. Zero fee trading and accelerating trends are exactly the kind of combination that spurs retail interest in the stock market. Concurrently, low interest rates, the mortgage refinancing boom that began in Q4 and full employment mean retail investors increasingly have the available cash to participate. The downside is the return of retail investors, in force, is a late cycle phenomenon.



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February 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 20th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: gold extends its breakout, bond yield compress, the green bubble continue to inflate, Wall Street increasingly overextended, clear trend of competitive currency devaluation and parallels with late 1990s.



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February 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Climbs to Seven-Year High as Virus Spurs Hunt for Havens

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

“The minutes suggest that the bar to ease policy is clearly lower than to lift rates,” Colin Hamilton, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, said in an emailed note Thursday. “In particular, they back up Powell’s recent comment that policymakers would not tolerate continued below-target inflation. This commentary was viewed as supportive gold.”

Spot gold advanced for a third straight day, rising as much as 0.7% to $1,623.73 an ounce. Holdings in global exchange-traded funds backed by bullion have risen to a fresh record, and are on course for a sixth weekly expansion, the longest streak since November.

“It looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said ABN Amro Bank NV strategist Georgette Boele. As prices broke out, the move has attracted more investors into gold, she said.

Gold could reach $1,650 over the coming weeks, according to UBS Group AG’s Global Wealth Management unit. “With U.S. equity valuations elevated, any further upsets could see another bout of volatility, a further rally in government bonds and a higher gold price,” analysts Wayne Gordon and Giovanni Staunovo said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors are accustomed to the fiction of China’s economic statistics and therefore have little faith in the reliability of their reporting of the number of viral infections either. The one thing we can monitor with some accuracy is the success of containment efforts outside of China. So far these have been relatively successful in containing an exponential spread of the disease. The big question is how much of a toll is it taking on the Chinese economy and how much stimulus will be required to revitalise consumer demand.



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February 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Vanishing Spreads Are Ringing Alarms in Risky Debt Markets

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

“What do you do with your cash?” said Luke Hickmore, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments in Edinburgh, where he helps run a number of bond funds. “Leaving it standing there makes no sense and the experience over the last 10 years is that there is no pain in buying bonds. Learnt behavior is that it is safe. Inflation is nowhere and central banks start buying every time yields go higher.”

Heavy demand for tax-exempt income drove yields on even the riskiest municipal bonds to 3.58% on Friday, the lowest since Bloomberg’s records began in 2003. The influx has compressed spreads across the country and caused some debt in high-tax states like California and New York to yield less than top-rated benchmark securities. Municipal mutual funds have reported inflows for the 58th straight week on Feb. 13.

Eoin Treacy's view -

With 30-year debt yielding 1.92% in the USA, 1.59% in Australia, 1.42% in Canada, 1.05% in the UK. 0.36% in Japan and 0.04% in Germany bond investors, and particularly pension funds, are at a loss for where to invest to generate the returns necessary to meet their future liabilities.



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February 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

British Tycoons, Cerberus in Talks to Acquire Yes Bank Stake

This article by Baiju Kalesh and Suvashree Ghosh for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The beleaguered Indian lender has been struggling to raise capital for the past few months, amid concerns about the quality of its assets and its exposure to the stressed shadow banking sector. Firms including JC Flowers & Co., Tilden Park Capital Management, Oak Hill Advisors and Silver Point Capital have submitted non-binding expressions of interest, Yes Bank said in a stock exchange filing in Mumbai on Feb. 12.

Shares of Yes Bank rose 0.4%. The bank’s 2023 dollar bond climbed about 1 cent to 84.5 cents, according to Bloomberg- compiled prices.

“A high pedigree long-term investor could make all the difference for the bank which is under investor scrutiny,” Kranthi Bathini, an analyst at WealthMills Securities. “The ball is in the regulator’s court now.” The Hindujas already hold a stake in IndusInd Bank Ltd., another Indian private lender.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Yes Bank is India’s fourth largest lender. The predicament it finds itself in is quite similar to the policy which led to Standard Charter’s decline a few years ago. In that case Standard Chartered made big loans to commodity producers and infrastructure developers on the assumption Chinese growth would accelerate indefinitely. When those loans turned bad it shaved near 80% off its share price.



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February 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 19th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Yen and Euro weakness fuel carry trades while the prospect of Chinese stimulus fuels speculative interest. Gold and precious metals breaking out, oil following through on the upside, Wall Street firm, high valuation companies surge, 



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February 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Companies Say They Can't Afford to Pay Workers Now

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

“A week of unpaid leave is very painful,” said Jason Lam, 32, who was furloughed from his job as a chef in a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood. “I don’t have enough income to cover my spending this month.”

Across China, companies are telling workers that there’s no money for them -- or that they shouldn’t have to pay full salaries to quarantined employees who don’t come to work. It’s too soon to say how many people have lost wages as a result of the outbreak, but in a survey of more than 9,500 workers by Chinese recruitment website Zhaopin, more than one-third said they were aware it was a possibility.

The salary freezes are further evidence of the economic hit to China’s volatile private sector -- the fastest growing part of the world’s second-biggest economy -- and among small firms especially. It also suggests the stress will extend beyond the health risks to the financial pain that comes with job cuts and salary instability. Unsurprisingly, hiring has all but ground to a halt: Zhaopin estimates the number of job resumes submitted in the first week after the January outbreak was down 83% from a year earlier.

“The coronavirus may hit Chinese consumption harder than SARS 17 years ago,” said Chang Shu, Chief Asia Economist for Bloomberg Intelligence. “And SARS walloped consumption.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The knock-on effect of meeting payroll when there is no money coming in is no laughing matter for the service sector; particularly when it is fuelling growth. The gravity of the threat means the range of policy options being explored is open-ended. Everything from direct payments to employees, tax holidays, relaxing regulations, cutting interest rates and boosting money supply are possible and probable.



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February 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interview with Ronald Stoferle

Thanks to a subscriber for this interview from Claudio Grass’ website may be of interest. Here is a section:

The massive policy U-turn by the Fed certainly played a part, and so did the move by the ECB to resume its own easing policies and monthly asset buying spree. We have officially returned to loose monetary policies across the board, and not only did this provide a boost to precious metals until now, but I also think it will persist into 2020, along with balance sheet expansion. I think another important factor was the renewed interest in gold by institutional players, as demand from that side of the market also picked up significantly.

Nevertheless, let us not forget that what we’ve seen over the past few months is just a gold breakout in USD terms. It is, of course, very noteworthy, but it is important to remember that gold has already been in a bull market in other currencies for quite some time. This bull market has started much earlier, but went mostly unnoticed, because everybody is just staring at the USD price of gold. All the while, in EUR, AUD, CAD terms, gold has been trading at or near all-time highs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold does best when it is appreciating in all currencies. As a monetary metal, the times when it is rising in all currencies generally coincide with a loss of confidence in the purchasing power and integrity of fiat currencies. The efforts underway to support the Chinese economy and the knock-on effect for countries relying on exports to China suggests competitive currency devaluation is well underway.



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February 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Cybertruck Pre-Orders Unofficially Top 500,000

This article by Tony Owusu for TheStreet may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report was roundly criticized when it debuted the Cybertruck back in November thanks to the pickup truck's unconventional design and a failed durability test that left the demonstration vehicle with a cracked window.

But three months later, the company’s gamble on the vehicle could be paying off as the unofficial Cybertrucks Owners Club released numbers suggesting the vehicle has received 522,764 preorders in just three months.

The group also compared Cybertruck preorders to Model 3 preorders, saying the Model 3 only received around 518,000 total reservations between its unveiling in April 2016 and August 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is probably an accurate representation of interest in the cybertruck not least because the deposit required was a $100 versus $1000 for the Model 3. That allowed a lot more people the opportunity to express interest with a relatively modest sum but it is a much bigger question whether they will translate into sales in the same way the Model 3 did.



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February 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 18th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Asia weak following Apple earnings but Wall Streets recovers on Wal-Mart guidance, gold breaks out, palladium breakouts, coronavirus priced for perfection amid increasing evidence of a peak in new cases. 



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February 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BHP Sees Next Six Weeks as Key For Virus Hit to Commodities

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

If the impact of the outbreak can’t be contained this quarter, annual growth forecasts will need to be revised down, Huw McKay, BHP’s vice president of market analysis and economics, said Tuesday in a blog post. “This would then flow directly through to lower commodity demand and price expectations.”

BHP forecasts China’s growth to slow to about 6% this year and as low as 5.75% in 2021 based on a swift recovery from the virus outbreak. In a worst-case scenario that combined a lingering impact from the virus and a re-escalation of trade war tensions, the nation’s economic expansion this year could slip to 5.5%, the miner said.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Macquarie Group Ltd. are among banks who’ve cut China growth forecasts for both the first quarter and the full year as a result of the outbreak. China’s gross domestic product will grow 4% in the first quarter, according to the median of 18 forecasts since Jan. 31, which would be the lowest level since 1990.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The working assumption most investment models are relying on is the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak and recovery is going to follow that of SARS. Even though the number of cases and deaths is larger and the coronavirus is more contagious, the measures taken to contain it have been much more aggressive. Therefore, the majority of investors have concluded that a V-shaped recovery is the most likely scenario.



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February 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on palladium's acceleration

I hope you are well. What on earth is going on with Palladium? It goes higher every day but yet surely it is correlated to industrial activity which should be going down with the CV? Please could you elaborate. Many thanks,

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I think is puzzling a number of investors. There is a brisk trade right now in stolen catalytic converters with thieves cutting them out of cars. The logical conclusion is there is just not enough of the metal around but there are some additional factors which are worthy of consideration.



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February 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Not Random: The Gold-Silver Ratio

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Wheaton Precious Metals. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The gold/silver ratio traded above 90 for a brief time in the summer before dropping to break its sequence of higher reaction lows. That prompted breathless speculation that a major reversal was underway, only for the ratio to pop back up and test the high. The big question now is whether than move can be sustained.



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 17th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: potenital for synchronised monetary and fiscal stimulus continues to support asset prices, it is also feeding short positions in the Euro and Yen while supporting the Dollar, gold and treasuries. 



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Coffers Are Depleted Just as Virus Spurs Spending

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

China’s top leaders have kept their official deficit target below 3%, partly through belt-tightening, as a gesture to deter excessive borrowing as the nation fights debt on multiple fronts. Yet it has also given way to all types of off-balance sheet borrowing, a problem S&P Global Ratings said may re-emerge this year.

Signs of more proactive fiscal policy have already appeared. The Ministry of Finance allowed local governments to sell more than 1.8 trillion yuan ($258 billion) of debt before the annual budget has been approved. The ministry has also announced targeted tax cuts to help companies and households hit by the virus, partially waived social security premiums or delayed taxes.

“Fiscal policy ought to be counter-cyclical, and the tension between revenue and expenditure shouldn’t be a reason to constrain it,” said Xu Gao, chief economist at BOCI Securities Ltd. in Beijing. “The government should increase the fiscal deficit to cope with the virus, and ease spending pressure by selling more debt.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Economic activity in much of China has ground to a halt. Factories are struggling to get back to full capacity, where they can open at all, and consumer confidence has taken a significant hit so discretionary spending is cratering. That is particularly true in the leisure and travel sectors. There was news today that casinos in Macau are now allowed to open again but it will be a while before consumers have the confidence to go back. We were at lunch with another expat Asian couple yesterday and they are going to skip visiting Asia this year. That’s a pretty common reaction to the evolving scenario. Most people’s conclusion is why take the risk?



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Fires Broadside at EU Before Future-Ties Talks Even Begin

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

The EU says any agreement hinges on the U.K. signing up to commitments to prevent it undercutting the European economy. But  the U.K. says sticking to the EU’s rules -- known as the “level
playing field” because it would force Britain to accept EU standards in areas such as public subsidies, environmental rules, and labor conditions -- is unfair and goes beyond the conditions the EU imposed in other trade deals.

“It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us -- to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has,” Frost said. “To think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing. It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure -- it is the point of the whole project.”

Under Johnson, the U.K. is taking a less conciliatory approach to its EU negotiations than under his predecessor Theresa May. Frost’s outlining of Britain’s strategy in public contrasts sharply with the secretive way the government conducted talks from 2017-2019 on the country’s withdrawal.

The EU is still concluding its own position on the negotiations, with a series of internal discussions by diplomats scheduled to end on Wednesday. The bloc is considering demanding the U.K. stick to EU rules -- and, in some cases, make them tougher if the EU does -- in a whole host of areas from food hygiene to data protection to labor law.

In a signal of where a compromise might eventually come, Frost said the U.K wants “open and fair competition provisions” based on precedents in other free trade deals.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If the UK is going to succeed in developing a successful economic model capable of competing with the EU and everyone else for that matter, then the ability to set its own rules, regulations and incentive programs is essential. It’s a good thing the current UK administration understands that but it is also a recipe for acrimonious negotiations where brinksmanship is to be expected. The deadline of December 31st ensures this is going to be a topic of conversation for the rest of the year.



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aureus Fund Plc Factsheet

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

The Aureus Fund (Ireland) plc. is an accumulating fund under Irish Law. The physical allocated gold investment will at all times between 51% and 60% of the Net Assets. Although the focus is on Gold, the Aureus Fund aims to invest in physical precious metals (Silver, Platinum and Palladium) to diversify risk. As an ancillary investment policy the investment manager has the option to invest in gold derivates for hedging and gold mining funds.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This fund popped up in a search I performed on Bloomberg of gold mining funds but it carried no additional details of holdings. My supposition on Friday that it is heavily weighted in platinum miners was incorrect and I am thankful to a subscriber for clearing up this misunderstanding. Instead, it has a heavy weighting in palladium; directly through its physical holdings. That has helped to supplement returns over and above the price if gold in Euro.



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold's upside potential

The long run outlook for gold is very encouraging. Even in the short run, competitive devaluations by CBs are supportive.  Coronavirus is also supportive.  Do you think that investing in a gold ETF is a reasonable hedge against a short-term correction on the S&P500? Are frightened investors likely to seek the security of gold or are they more likely to flock to cash?

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which may be of interest to other subscribers. Gold and the Dollar have been rallying together against a background of increasing virus-hedging activity. That suggests investors have a preference for classic hedges rather than cash at present.



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on personal hygiene habits as a best defence against viral infection:

Please take a few minutes to watch the attached video.  Great information to know if the epidemic ever comes our way.  Please share with others.  This could get worse before a solution is found

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks to a subscriber for this video which may be of interest. The prevalence of this kind of advice also tells us the risk from the virus is increasingly well understood and therefore increasingly priced into markets.



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February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Play Your Game

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

Today, we see the global capital markets through a different lens — one that is certainly less rose colored than the ones we were wearing last year. Indeed, unlike last January, we now think that the U.S. stock market has already priced in a robust economic recovery in the first half of 2020. By comparison, our predictive earnings model (Exhibit 4) suggests only a modest recovery occurring by the second half of this year. We also think that there may not be enough political risk priced into the U.S. market at current valuations, and believe the private growth markets still need to unwind further.

However, unlike the slowdowns of 2008, 2012, and 2016, credit conditions did not unravel during the recent economic turbulence that occurred in the second half of 2019 (when we essentially had a global manufacturing recession). In fact, during this period global central banks not only supplied ample liquidity to the market again but also expanded their balance sheets. These initiatives have, in turn, helped to suppress bond yields and support credit, leaving financial conditions today as favorable as they have been since the beginning of the prior decade, according to the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Renewed financial easing is an important input in our thinking because it ought to be a net positive both for economic growth and risk asset performance in the near-term.

So, what are investors to do? Despite mounting headwinds, our call is certainly not to head to the sidelines and wait for a major pullback. As we show in Exhibits 7 and 8, we forecast global liquidity to continue to improve consistently in 2020 at a time when our research shows that many individual investors and endowments are not yet at their target risk levels. Central bank balance sheets too should increase again (Exhibits 9 and 10). Moreover, while the cycle is running long in duration, the risk premium relative to the risk-free rate on quite a few asset classes, including Equities, is still attractive in many areas of the global markets. One can see this in Exhibit 75, which shows that the current earnings yield on U.S. stocks is just only now back to the historical average relative to the current yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The people where I am from in Ireland are often accused of answering a question with a question. I was reminded of that this morning because there is a persistent question asked by value investors which is “How can anyone justify paying close to record high cyclically adjusted P/Es for the stock market today?” The corollary is “Why is value underperforming so dismally?” the answering question is “How do you go about developing an algorithm that has any hope of performing in line with the market? 



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February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kraft Heinz Cut to Junk by Fitch Following Lackluster Earnings

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

Kraft Heinz Co. was downgraded to junk status by Fitch Ratings, which predicted the company’s leverage will remain high for an extended period as the maker of Jell-O and Classico pasta sauce works to stabilize declining sales.

The food company was cut to BB+ from BBB- by the credit-ratings company, with a stable outlook. Fitch said the company may need to divest a sizable portion of its business in order to reduce its debt.

The downgrade follows Thursday’s earnings report, in which Kraft Heinz reported a drop in fourth-quarter sales that sent its bonds and stock tumbling. It was the latest sign that the company’s turnaround plan still has a long way to go.

Kraft Heinz said Thursday it would release a more detailed turnaround plan around the time of its next earnings report in early May, though many investors and analysts had been looking for it sooner.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Kraft Heinz’ dividend was 62.5¢ in 2018, 40¢ in 2019 and is expected to be 20¢ in 2020. The decline in the share price has supported the yield, which is currently 5.98% but the outlook for additional dividend cuts puts that under question. The company is likely to be a case study in how intangible values cannot be used to underpin a credit rating during a time of technological and social upheaval.



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February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold miners:

I hope you are well & not working too hard!

Just completed the ‘corporate action’ required to take the shares for Sibanye. To me all your excellent recommendations are just exotic names & lines on a screen, and whatever spare brain processing power I have these days perhaps best left for other things.

Please may I ask a favour? Do you have any ideas for an ETF or even generalist fund which I could use to provide gold miner ‘sector’ exposure? In broad terms would you suggest something holding larger cos or junior miners? If you have any thoughts, I would be grateful. I know you cannot give advice & it would never be construed in that way.

On gold miners shares per se, can you clarify a point? I was talking to the manager of a UK listed investment trust the other day, managed on what used to be called an ‘absolute return’ basis, which actually has delivered a consistent return. They look at things very simply & believe that at some unknown point in the future, there will simply be a tipping point where the discount rate applied (across all asset class valuations) spikes.  They don’t speculate how this will unfold. I think I can guess what this will do to Netflix or Tesla but in broad terms, what happens to gold miners? Do you take the view that in essence the (future) value of their gold in the ground will likely mitigate a higher interest rate assumption? Perhaps what I am really meaning to ask is that if the equity bull market bubble bursts, do you have a view on what might happen to gold miners as a sector in terms of correlation?  

I really don’t like to ask you questions like this as you probably add me to the list of bears to assist with the calculation of your contrarian market indicators,

All the very best

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I believe will be of interest to other subscribers. I think you will agree that it is not hard work when you are doing something you love, though sometimes Mrs. Treacy may beg to differ.

 



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February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Coronavirus Is Bringing Alibaba to Its Knees

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

Yet investors ought to examine the December quarter because it gives clues about how the e-commerce giant was faring before the COVID-19 virus appeared on the scene. Although revenue continued to grow at a respectable 38%, that was the slowest in almost four years and the smallest beat against estimates in at least a year. Its earnings-per-share beat was the slimmest in more than a year.

Importantly, its bread-and-butter core commerce business, which accounts for 88% of sales, continues to weaken. This division was propped up by acquired units in the physical retail space. Stripping those out, customer management (advertising) revenue and commissions combined climbed 21%, almost 4 percentage points slower than the prior quarter and 5.5 percentage points less than a year ago. Bear in mind, the December quarter includes Alibaba’s big Nov. 11 Single’s Day bonanza, which is supposed to push revenue skyward. Clearly, this event is losing its luster.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Alibaba sells or facilitates the sale of all manner of stuff. That’s its primary business. The economic slowdown brought on by central bank tightening and the war on shadow banking were the reasons behind slower growth in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile the delay in factories reopening after the Lunar New Year holiday, justified fears about viral contamination, restrictions on travel and the impact on the migrant workers ecommerce companies rely on for deliveries are all going to weigh on earnings in the first quarter. So why is the stock so steady?



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February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Health insurer stocks surge as Bernie Sanders' primary win seen boosting Trump's chances

This article by Tomi Kilgore for MarketWatch may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Basically, Medicare for All would be bad for health insurers.

But as MarketWatch's Victor Reklaitis wrote Tuesday, Sanders' New Hampshire victory is like a double negative, as while it might appear as a negative for insurers, Wall Street seems to believe Sanders would lose to Trump in a general election, which would be a positive for insurers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire by a wide margin in 2016 and only by 4000 votes in 2020. That’s not a particularly encouraging signal. There is a historical comparison circulating that any candidate who won both Iowa and New Hampshire went on to win the Democratic nomination. I’m not convinced by that considering how many historical comparisons have been challenged over the last few years. The results from Super Tuesday in a few weeks will be a better picture.



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February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Record Car-Sales Slump Throws a Curve Ball on Palladium

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

Output in the world’s largest auto market could be cut by more than 1.7 million cars should the spreading virus resulted in more shutdowns of manufacturing facilities across China, lasting into mid-March, according to an IHS Markit estimate last month.

The auto industry accounts for more than 80% of demand for the precious metal, according to a Johnson Matthey report released Wednesday. That makes it difficult for the market to ignore the shutdowns in China.

“The effects on the wider, global supply-chain are also starting to show,” refiner Heraeus Holding GmbH said in a research note. “Plants across Europe and the wider Asia region are also at risk now because of problems sourcing Chinese-made parts.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The palladium market is another area where investors and traders are paying scant regard to the risk of a Chinese slowdown despite the fact prices are at elevated levels.



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February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

All Your Favorite Brands, From BSTOEM to ZGGCD

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

Almost half of top Amazon sellers — those selling more than $1 million in the U.S. — are in China; about a third of Amazon’s Chinese sellers overall are estimated to be in Shenzhen. (This according to Marketplace Pulse, which tracks e-commerce marketplaces.)

Amazon shuttered its Chinese store, Amazon.cn, in 2019, after it failed to crack a market dominated by domestic giants like JD and Alibaba.

But it has been much more successful in recruiting Chinese entrepreneurs to sell abroad, opening “cross-border e-commerce parks,” where sellers can get assistance with logistics, branding, and navigating Amazon’s platform. For the last five years, the company has also hosted summits for Chinese cross-border sellers. Last year’s conference, held in Shanghai, was attended by more than 10,000 sellers, many of whom see, in Amazon, an alternative to increasingly saturated domestic platforms like Taobao.

A seller in America might start with a brand idea and need to figure out how to get it manufactured; a seller connected to a factory in China’s manufacturing capital needs to figure out how to sell to Americans, which Amazon has been working hard to facilitate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The vast majority of household and personal use products sold in Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target and elsewhere are manufactured in China. Most of the electronics, clothing, and jewellery in stores come from Guangdong. The majority of paper bags, nuts and bolts, toys and other small items come from Zhejiang which is just outside the quarantine area. Manufacturing is also spread over the rest of the country. That suggests the ability of companies to fulfil orders is going to be spotty if they don’t get back to work soon.



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February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BP Sets Bold Agenda for Big Oil With Plan to Eliminate CO2

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

For BP to survive the energy transition in a world that’s gradually falling out of love with oil, it will need to make big investments in new sources of clean energy, ensure cash keeps flowing from its fossil fuel assets, while also funneling generous returns to investors. It’s a tricky balancing act that its closest peer Shell is already struggling to master.

BP’s commitment to do all this while still boosting free cash flow and shareholder returns is “really the key challenge,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Biraj Borkhataria.

The company announced structural changes alongside its emissions target. Looney will dismantle its upstream and downstream businesses and reorganize them into an entity made up of 11 new teams that will be more integrated and focused.

“For us the statement represents a step change in terms of vision for the company and one that moves the group toward the biggest reorganization and modernization in at least two decades, if not a century,” analysts at Barclays said in a note. “The magnitude and radical nature of this shift should not be underestimated.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trend of public opinion relating to climate change has put most conventional energy companies in a bind. They have been the subject of vitriol from the green lobby for as long as I can remember but that was manageable when the environment was not an election issue. Today, the situation could not be more different. Wild fires, everywhere, droughts, floods, extinction angst and teenagers lecturing world leaders all point to a very hostile backdrop for oil, gas and coal companies.



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February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Zombie Crypto Coins Beat Bitcoin During This Year's Resurgence

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

“There appears to have been a large mass of early investors (including many VC firms) who have a vested interest in seeing some of these tokens reach a certain price point so they can realize their gains or break even,” said Sid Shekhar, co-founder of London-based market tracker TokenAnalyst. “As such, with the overall market rally, there are definitely select institutional players who are effectively spurring price action.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin has tended to rally ahead of halvenings (the occasions when the reward for minting a new block halves). Even though there are any number of arguments about the sustainability of bitcoin’s first mover status it remains the biggest crypto market and all others tend to move in a high beta nature relative to it.



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February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 11th 2020

February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

3 Trillion Can't Buy China Out of Virus Trouble

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

Finally, the economic model underlying the reserves creates a complex financial interdependence between Asian central banks and advanced economies, termed the “fatal embrace” by the late Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve. Foreign-exchange reserves represent advances allowing the importing country to buy the exporter’s goods and services on credit. Withdrawing support would risk destroying the value of existing investments and damaging the borrowers’ real economy and export demand.

The interdependence runs deeper. Since 2009, the growth of developing-country reserves is highly correlated to the growth of the balance sheets of advanced-economy central banks, which has been driven by quantitative easing. Attracted by higher returns than available at home, investors moved capital into emerging markets, which in turn supported demand and economic activity in developed economies. This is evident in the increased reliance of many North American, European and Japanese businesses on emerging economies for growth and earnings.

Unfortunately, this cheap capital encouraged rapid rises in debt and increased the risk of future financial instability in many emerging countries. The solution lies in international co-operation to create a new international monetary system and for surplus countries to boost domestic demand.

In a world of rising political tensions, trade wars and adherence to debt and export driven economic models, the prospects for that may appear bleak. Still, this is unfinished business the world will have to return to — once it has got past the economic shock of the coronavirus epidemic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The strength of the US Dollar over the last ten sessions is at odds with the efforts by the US government and Federal reserve to increase the supply of the currency relative to just about all others. That suggests both repatriation of funds invested overseas as well as the proceeds of carry trades being invested in the USA are supporting the currency. This trend coupled with continued fears about the knock-on effects of the virus scare on economies dependent on China is weighing on Asian markets.



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February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saxo Q1 Outlook: The Great Climate Shift

This press release may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The long running argument against green energy investing has been that the cost and intermittency of supply do not come close to compensating for the ease of relying on fossil fuels. That meant the sector has long been confined to a high beta position relative to oil prices because it relied on high energy prices to justify investment. The question that now needs to be addressed is whether this valuation model is still relevant?



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February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease Response

This report from McKinsey & Company may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Leading indicators to monitor

Situation: Confirmation of sustained transmission outside of China
Implication: Most cases outside China have been linked to recent travelers. If evidence emerges of ongoing acquisition of disease in patients who did not travel or have contact with someone returning from China, the potential public health impact of the disease will rise significantly.

Situation: Rapid increase in case numbers in affected countries
Implication: Many unknowns remain. Rates of transmission in asymptomatic individuals, viral mutations, and decreased efficacy of protective measures, for example, could lead to increases in infection rates. Weaker health systems, in particular, could be at higher risk. This would increase uncertainty on potential recovery.

Situation: Signals of supply chain restart
Implication: Signals of supply chain restart in China would be an early sign of recovering markets. Early markers could include government reports, social media chatter, firms conversations and / or communications with their customers.

Situation: Changes in consumer spending indicators
Implication: In epidemic settings with containment measures, consumer spend decreases. Changes in consumer spending indicators, especially in China, India, and broadly globally, may point to potential recovery and / or protracted nature of the situation.

Situation: US treasury yield curve
Implication: Overall market fluctuations and associated treasury yield curve, especially in the US, will point to overall confidence in market and expected trajectory. Increasingly negative curves may hint to longer economical impacts.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The number of reported “official” cases continues to trend lower which is seen as positive by investors. The question of how much the official figures can be trusted amid a reclassification of how China defines a confirmed case does not appear to be priced into markets.



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Consumer Insolvencies Approach Record in Debt-Weary Canada

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

“I think we’re still going to see a slight increase in 2020,” André Bolduc, an executive board member at the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals, said in a phone interview from Ottawa. “We’re hoping the economy stays strong so that the increases stay healthy and it doesn’t become a crisis.”

On the less alarming side, adjusting the number of insolvencies to account for population growth shows the increase isn’t as dramatic. As a share of total debt, the rate of filings also appears to be more stable.

In addition, the lion’s share of the increase in the past decade has been so-called consumer proposals, where the debtor agrees with creditors to pay back a proportion of what’s owed. Proposals are considered less severe than bankruptcies, the other form of insolvency reported by the Ottawa-based OSB.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Canada depends on exports to both the USA and China for its prosperity. The slowdown in US manufacturing as a result of the trade war will have had some impact which should now be moderating from the signing of the USMCA. However, the knock-on effect from China’s freezing of economic activity on commodity demand represents a significant challenge that is only now being considered.



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Merkel Succession Crumbles, Blowing Open Race to Run Germany

This article by Arne Delfs and Patrick Donahue for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

AKK’s downfall was ultimately triggered when the CDU in Thuringia voted alongside the AfD to elect a state premier last week. Local leader Mike Mohring has been forced to back track, but other CDU officials in the east have signaled sympathy for his maneuver as he tries to maintain support for the party.

The CDU’s flirtation with the AfD is “very worrisome,” said Norbert Walter-Borjans, the co-leader of the Social Democrats, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, which is also searching for a candidate to lead its next national election campaign.

AKK told party colleagues at a meeting in Berlin that one reason for her decision is the unclear relationship between parts of the CDU and the far-right AfD and the anti-capitalist Left party. At a press conference in Berlin, she underscored her stand that the CDU needs to be strictly opposed to any cooperation with the two fringe parties.

Eoin Treacy's view -

So is the enemy of my enemy my friend or not? The far- left Die Linke party secured the most votes but the far right AfD supported the CDU candidate instead of its own to ensure Die Linke were defeated.



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rare earth metal miners

Maybe 18 months ago you were looking at Rare Earths outside China. One you mentioned in Australia - Alkane Resources - has recently perked up considerably on gold exploration but also on the likely demerger of its Rare Earths project at Dubbo. I'm a shareholder so noticed(!) You might like to re-visit some time as it is a happy graph for holders

Eoin Treacy's view -

Congratulations on taking the opportunity in Alkane Resources. The company found new gold in September, which was the reason for the initial break higher. Meanwhile the strength over the last couple of days is based on the appointment of a new managing director to the Dubbo project which is a step closer to developing the mine into a commercial reality.



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the coronavirus:

You will have plenty to read on this subject. But this does scare me:

Chinese financial shock gathers steam as world holds its breath on coronavirus

A major slowdown in China could trigger recession and defaults in other parts of the world

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/02/07/china-contract-europe-near-recession-world-holds-breath-coronavirus/

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this article which highlights the acute risk to market, particularly in Europe, which rely on Chinese demand. That is as true of the automotive sector as it is of luxury goods. Here is a section:

The disturbing feature is that the European Central Bank’s emergency rate cut and renewed quantitative easing in September have gained so little traction. While it was not literally the ECB’s ‘last throw of the dice’ there is precious little left to play with.

There must now be a serious risk that China’s coronavirus crisis - if prolonged - will push Germany, Italy, and perhaps France into a technical recession, and in so doing expose both the ECB’s credible limits and the eurozone inability to launch meaningful fiscal stimulus under its deflationary ideology and spending laws.

Markets have not yet looked so many moves ahead on the global financial chess board but they might do so within two or three weeks if the corona fever is not broken, and traders tend to shoot first and ask questions later once fear takes hold.

Everything depends on the spread rate and the doubling rate, 2.68 per case and 6.4 days respectively, according to a Lancet study last week. If these figures improve markedly (and can be believed), the storm should blow over. If they do not materially change, the global recessionary dynamic may become unstoppable within weeks.



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBA Sees Unemployment at 4.75% Next Year Amid Virus Concerns

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

The RBA reiterated Governor Philip Lowe’s comments Wednesday that the current balance in the economy favored a policy pause, but this could change in the event of a weakening in the labor market and inflation moving away from target. It acknowledged that coronavirus is “a significant near-term risk” to the outlook for China and Australia’s other key trading partners.

The currency ticked down to 67.23 U.S. cents after the release from 67.29 just prior, and was trading at 67.20 cents at 12:03 p.m. Traders are pricing in a less than 50% chance of a rate cut this half, before climbing to 55% in July and higher thereafter.

Australia’s linkages to China are broad and deep: it’s the biggest buyer of Australian iron ore and Chinese tourists and students lead those sectors, taking more than one-third of exports from Down Under.

The RBA is basing its expectations of a quick rebound from the virus on the SARS epidemic of 2003. But it is clear that this will require rapid containment of the outbreak.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Continued stimulus and a reluctance to raise interest rates not least in response to the impact of the wildfires and the need to rebuild are likely to ensure abundant liquidity for the Australian economy outside of the threat from the coronavirus and China.



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Monthly Inflation Eases More Than All Analysts Expected

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

Policy makers capped their easing cycle this week in a bet that aggressive borrowing cost reductions will help fuel growth without jeopardizing inflation control. Central bank President Roberto Campos Neto has said he’s comfortable with the consumer price outlook despite a recent spike in meat costs and possible pressures from a weaker real. Economists surveyed by the monetary authority expect inflation to ease well below target by year-end.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brazil cut interest rates this week and now has negative real interest rates. Water shortages in Rio de Janeiro are only going to make the case for additional stimulus more compelling since repairing vital infrastructure is unlikely to meet which much local opposition.



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - errata

I would just like to correct an error you made in today’s commentary. Ebola is not in the coronavirus family. Ebola is an RNA filovirus virus in the family Filoviridae, their natural carrier hosts in the animal world are African fruit bats.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email which certainly helped improve my knowledge. 



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on currency transfers

The question about money transfer services was interesting to me because I went through the same investigation back in 20215. My experience may be useful to other subscribers.

Although I was, of course, keen to avoid exorbitant Bank charges, the key issue for me ended up being the ability to do what I wanted. I looked at TransferWise and also tried CurrencyFair, but none quite did the job. I live in the UK but I have financial assets generating annual income in Canada. I have a simple deposit account there with CIBC, where that income is accumulated. From time to time I need to transfer cash from Canada to the UK. My requirement was to initiate from the UK but have the funds deducted automatically from the Canadian CIBC account and transferred to my account in the UK. Once set-up, I wanted this to be automatic from the point where I initiated.

I eventually found a service called OFX https://www.ofx.com/. 

Part of the transfer costs can arise from fees at the receiving bank when funds are from overseas. OFX gets around this by having 115 local bank accounts. There are no fees to retrieve the cash (in Canada) or to deposit in the UK.  Exchange rates are determined by spot prices when you initiate. Rates are locked once initiated and you can do forward pricing. Some other useful  facts about pricing at https://www.ofx.com/en-gb/faqs/whats-the-cheapest-way-to-send-money/

The setup is a bit more stringent and time-consuming because of the need to set up a Direct Debit facility (in Canada, a Pre-Authorised Debit) so OFX can access your account. The security checks are inevitable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_debit#Canada

However, once it's all done, I can say it works very well, and the OFX people are very helpful on the phone if there are questions. They have even been forgiving when I mistakenly tried to send more than the $50K per-transaction amount.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email. 



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February 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 6th 2020

February 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Warnings Grow Louder for Investors Defying Virus

This article by Cecile Gutscher and Anchalee Worrachate for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Pretty much every client we talk to wants to buy the dip,” wrote Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup Inc.‘s chief U.S. equity strategist in a note. “And that is not comforting.”

The S&P 500 edged higher Thursday, extending the week’s gains to more than 3.5%, as the Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed to a record and stocks soared in Asia. A gauge of European credit risk hit its lowest since 2007.

Yet the battle against the virus could suffer a setback as factories reopen in China in the coming days and more people come into contact with each other. On the other hand, if factories fail to reopen, the economic impact could prove much more severe.

At Robeco, money manager Jeroen Blokland is eyeing the rally warily. The head of multi-asset funds at the Rotterdam-based firm recently cut an overweight allocation to stocks to neutral because of the spread of coronavirus. He says it’s not yet time to dive back in.

“Every investor is looking for the bottom and wants to find it a little bit earlier than his neighbor,” he said. “We need a little bit more confirmation that the outbreak will be contained before moving again.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The stock market responds to liquidity because that has an influence on all asset prices and regardless of other short-term factors the Treasury yield is below that of the S&P500 which is generally supportive of the buy the dip strategy. Nevertheless, the stresses coming to bear as a result of the Wuhan Acute Respiratory Syndrome (WARS) are significant and need to be taken seriously.



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February 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan Seen Needing U.S. Help to Check China's Digital Yuan

This article by Yuko Takeo, Emi Urabe and Toru Fujioka for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section

“We sense the digital yuan is a challenge to the existing global reserve currency system and currency hegemony,” said Nakayama, a top member of the ruling party group that drafted the proposals. “Without the U.S., we cannot counter China’s efforts to challenge the existing reserve currency and international settlement system.”

The comments indicate the heightened concern among policy makers in Japan over the likely impact of a digitized yuan expected for later this year. China’s plan and Facebook’s efforts to launch its own Libra currency have sparked central banks around the world to get up to speed on how digital currencies would function and what their impact could be.

“There are 1.4 billion people in China, so within the one belt, one road digital economic framework, the digital yuan has a high likelihood of becoming the standard within that digital economy,” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no telling just yet how serious China is about setting up a digital currency system but the security and supply elasticity in how it is set up, together with how much it is used on the mainland will be determining factors is whether it is ultimately a success.



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February 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Goldman's Currie Likes Palladium on Potential Deficit in China

This article by Elena Mazneva, Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Palladium could be an interesting trade given potential supply disruptions to China because of the coronavirus, Jeffrey Currie, head of global commodities research at Goldman Sachs, told Bloomberg TV.

“The one I like right now that we are watching in the commodity market is palladium -- when palladium gets so tight that you actually start to shut down auto manufacturing.”

Yet, “you don’t know when you hit one of these physical shortages until you actually hit them.”

NOTE: Spot palladium traded near $2,412/oz Thursday, heading for a ~5% weekly gain after dropping a week earlier from record highs.

Currie said last month he sees the potential for palladium to test $3,000/oz, then slide.

Eoin Treacy's view -

With auto manufacturers shutting down production because of a lack of Chinese manufactured intermediate parts, the most bullish forecasts for palladium are being questioned.



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February 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on currency exchange sites:

Can you please add Trade Desk, TTD NAS, to the Chart Library? Any ideas on good economical services to use for transferring money (from AUD to GBP & the reverse)? (I suspect some sectors of the UK post Brexit economy to do well. Also, I've a son studying in Cambridge.)

Eoin Treacy's view -

- Congratulations on your son at Cambridge. Our family have spent the last few months applying and interviewing at high schools for my eldest daughter. The range of offerings and the difference in ethos between the schools is dizzying. It has occupied more time that I bargained for but thankfully we had our last interview today.

Our family’s income comes from both British Pound and US Dollar sources. Managing exchange rates is therefore something we are more than familiar with. One of the primary reasons Mrs. Treacy set up her online business was so she could recycle Pounds into inventory and sell it for Dollars which was a handy way to earn a return on devalued Pounds following the Brexit referendum.

The service I use to transfer money is CurrencyFair.com. It is a peer to peer matching service and has the tightest spreads for the quantities I deal in, I have been able to find. 



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February 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Tesla could become world''s first 10 trillion dollar company

This article from The Driven may be of interest. Since it was released yesterday the title has been edited to "Why Tesla could soon become world’s most valuable company"; reflecting a quick moderation of sentiment. Here is a section:

“There’s a lot of growth opportunities from that plant going forward,” Baron said on CNBC. “[Tesla] could be one of the largest companies in the whole world.”

A day earlier, Ark Invest suggested the stock could be worth $US7,000 a share within five years. That equates to a market value of around $US1.5 trillion – making it more valuable than the current top stocks, Apple and Saudi Aramco. (And there’s a lot of Apple in the way Tesla proposes to managed its EV and batteries).

Ark Invest’s reasons for this are worth repeating.

“Based on our updated expectations for electric vehicle (EV) cost declines and demand, as well as our estimates for the potential profitability of robotaxis, our 2024 expected value per share for TSLA is $7,000,” it wrote in a note to investors over the weekend.

This, essentially, is a massive bet on the success of Tesla’s Full Self Driving, and Musk’s dream of potentially turning every Tesla with the appropriate software into a robotaxi, and his own dreams of building a huge fleet of robo-taxis that will revolutionize the way we do road travel.

Stanford University’s Tony Seba has been talking about the arrival of self-driving for a few years now.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Analyst estimates for Tesla’s future potential upside have been significantly upgraded over the last couple of weeks. This might be tongue-in-cheek but some analyst expectations are now even above where the price is currently trading. In June there was a consensus the company was going broke and today there are some floating the idea it will be worth more than ten times what Amazon is currently trading at. I think it is safe to say the truth is somewhere in between.



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February 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump's Farmer Base Will Make More Money Thanks to Trade Deal

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

Still, a last taste of aid is creating a temporary buffer. Payments of the final tranche started in January, contributing to the gains for this year’s profit projection. The USDA forecasts farmers will receive $15 billion in direct government payments in 2020, down from $23.7 billion in 2019 but still above the $11.5 billion received in 2017, before the trade war started.

While the USDA’s estimates take into account the trade pact, they may not reflect the true scope of the impact, according to Carrie Litkowski, a senior economist with the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

The projected gain for income also doesn’t reflect any potential blow-back from the outbreak of the deadly coronavrius in China, the world’s biggest food importer. The health crisis has in recent days called into question whether the Asian nation will meet the purchase targets established in the trade deal.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Soybeans has been ranging mostly above 850¢ since 2018 and returned over the last month to test the lower side of its range. This area represents the lower side of the volatile trading pattern which has evolved since the breakout in 2007. Bull markets in commodities are defined by an increase in the marginal cost of production and prior to 2007 the price failed to hold moves above 850c. That suggests we are seeing a long-term example of past resistance offering future support.



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February 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Drug Patent Grab Makes Coronavirus Scary for Pharma

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

The coronavirus outbreak in China is already threatening to undermine the global economy. It may soon create a similar shake-up in the drug industry.

I’m not talking about pharmaceutical companies’ attempts to develop a vaccine, but about intellectual property. Chinese researchers have applied for a patent on an antiviral drug candidate called remdesevir owned by Gilead Sciences Inc. The drug is being tested in clinical trials in short order, but the company could eventually be cut out. 

If the patent is granted, it will confirm long-standing drugmaker fears about China’s commitment to IP protection, raising concern about the industry’s future in a crucial market. It also could further erode the already weak incentives for pharma to invest in drugs to combat emerging infectious diseases. The risks of seizing the patent may outweigh any benefit.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world is racing to help find a cure for the Wuhan virus with both pharmaceutical companies and philanthropists committing significant resources to finding a cure. That’s as much about helping China as it is about helping to contain the infection and creating the potential to be compensated for coming up with a solution.



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February 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on inverted yield curves

how is the Yield Curve inversion? The famous inverted US yield curve - only when measured by 3mth/10y (NOT 2y/10y) - has been a reliable predictor of US recession 12-24 months ahead when measured from start point and provided inversion lasted more than 3mths. So somewhere between May 2020-May 2021 we should expect recession. History suggests that this inversion always reverses well before recession arrives. Mainly because Fed eases short rates to avoid recession. So, déjà vu?? Regards

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. The question of the yield curve and how good a lead indicator it is tends to be discussed and dismissed before every recession. This occasion has been no different and it would be foolhardy to think boom and bust have been banished just because some Davos attendees have proclaimed it so.



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February 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Where a Brexit Trade Deal Matters Most to Boris Johnson

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

“The government is going to have to make sure these voters are looked after,” said Seamus Nevin, chief economist at MakeUK, the U.K.’s largest manufacturing organization. “Investment in our sector is going to be key.”

Britain’s business groups are already drawing up maps like these, hoping to gain leverage in the coming negotiations by showing the U.K. government how the lack of a deal, or one with only a limited scope, would cost jobs in what are now marginal Conservative seats, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Johnson hopes to secure a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal with the EU, similar to the bloc’s existing agreement with Canada. It would mean extra customs paperwork for importers and exporters—but it would avoid tariffs on goods. The problem is that Johnson has ruled out meeting the EU’s condition that the U.K. plays by its rules on state aid, workers’ rights and the environment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Negotiating with the EU is in no way easy. Right now, Boris Johnson has both a strong mandate and a long runway until the next election. He has every incentive to play hardball now so that any potential drawdown will be smoothed out by the time he needs to go back to the people for another election.



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February 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tech in 2020: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

This presentation by Benedict Evans may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a slide on where he thinks the next big thing is:

Eoin Treacy's view -

Structural layers are the foundations of new technologies so 5G which is being rolled out everywhere this year is a major event. In the just the same way that 4G delivered instant connectivity, social media, app-based banking, travel, gaming etc, 5G will build on top of that layer to deliver edge computing. That means data centre access to massive computing power at the touch of a finger.



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February 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 3rd 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Tesla clearly accelerating, oil prices break downwards, copper fails to hold intrady rally, CSI300 drops to mirror the decline in H-Shares last week, China ramps up liquidity, Wall Street steadies, Gold eases. 



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February 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Cuts Rates, Injects Liquidity as Mainland Markets Sink

This article by Tian Chen, Yinan Zhao and Miao Han for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We are fully capable and confident to minimize the impact of the epidemic on the economy.”

Lian also said that while the government would work to ensure the coronavirus didn’t spread further, it would encourage major projects and enterprises in good condition to resume work and production. Policy makers will also roll out measures to soften the impact of the epidemic on a case-by-case basis, especially to try to help industries that have been hit hard, Lian said.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Bingnan said at the same press conference that many exporters in China have been resuming production, and local governments have been issuing policies to help small and medium-sized companies.

Authorities have pledged to provide abundant liquidity and there seems to be more easing measures in the pipeline. In an interview with the PBOC’s Financial News newspaper, central bank adviser Ma Jun said he expects the PBOC to push the interest rate for new loans lower and to also cut the rate for medium-term funding in February if it uses that facility mid-month, as it usually does.

If that were to happen, it would be a change to a “rather strong” easing bias for the central bank, according to Peiqian Liu, China economist at Natwest Markets Plc in Singapore.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese CSI300 Index opened down 9.1% today with the majority of issues down the 10% limit. While this is a headline grabbing phenomenon, which draws parallels with the pullback in 2015 and also in 2007, the reality is the mainland market is just catching up with the H-Shares in Hong Kong following an extended break to trading.



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February 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saut Strategy February 4th 2020

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The impeachment argument was indeed a source of worry for the media but the market never seemed to pay it much attention for the simple reason the Republicans have a solid majority in the Senate. Therefore, the entire spectacle was nothing more than crowd pleasing electioneering which did little more than to further emphasise the trend of political polarisation



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February 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gas Rout Puts 60% of Output at Risk, Tudor Pickering Says

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

Almost two-thirds of U.S. natural gas production is at risk of being cut as prices tumble, according to Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

About 55 billion cubic feet a day of gas in basins from Texas to Appalachia could be curtailed, analysts at Tudor Pickering wrote Monday in a note to clients. That’s roughly 60% of current dry gas output, based on BloombergNEF estimates.

Mounting debt, a lack of access to capital markets and a drop in hedging will lead to a decline in drilling starting in the second half of this year, Tudor Pickering said. The energy-focused investment bank says only two or three companies, including Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., can afford to keep output flat with prices below $2.25 per thousand cubic feet, or about $2.17 per million Btu.

“We do expect to see a significant number of bankruptcies if gas prices stay this low,” Matthew Portillo, managing director of upstream research at Tudor Pickering, said by phone. Producers have no gas hedges in place beyond 2021, he said.

Gas has lost about a third of its value since early November, sinking below $2 per million British thermal units for the first time in almost four years as production from shale basins overwhelms demand amid a mild winter.

“What you’re starting to see is the forward curve not only in 2020 but in 2021-plus has moved to such a low price that companies are not able to drill within cash flow to hold drilling steady,” Portillo said.

Drilling in the Haynesville shale in Louisiana is set for a “significant collapse” if prices remain low, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unconventional supply is prolific but expensive. The vast majority of companies rely on continued high prices to support their drilling activities. That ensures the cyclicality of prices. The higher prices are the more oil and gas can be produced but declines in prices mean drillers can no long source funding and some will inevitably go bankrupt. That will temporarily withdraw supply from the market which will support prices and open the way for new drilling to take place.



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January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Says U.S. Response Harmful; Flights Halted: Virus Update

This summary of today’s news from Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

Chinese officials took issue with U.S. comments about the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and promised they would bring the infection under control.

“U.S. comments are inconsistent with the facts and inappropriate.” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in statement posted online Friday. The World Health Organization “called on countries to avoid adopting travel bans. Yet shortly afterward, the U.S. went in the opposite direction, and started a very bad turn. It is so unkind.”

U.S. officials said this week that they had difficulty getting specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the front lines of the outbreak in China, and late Thursday the State Department advised Americans traveling in China to come home. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday also said the outbreak may help bring jobs back to the U.S.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Chen Xu, said during a press conference in Geneva that the country had been transparent about the disease.

“We have conducted our business in an open and transparent manner with the outside world,” he said.

Xu said that China would work with the World Health Organization to bring the disease under control, following a declaration by the WHO that the outbreak was an international emergency. The declaration will “not only coordinate global prevention control measures but enables us to mobilize international resources to respond to the epidemic,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

“Official” figures are just below 10,000. This Lancet article suggests 76000 infections. The death toll is reported at around 200 but if that is the case why are crematoria running 24/7? The biggest challenge the Chinese administration has is their claims of full disclosure are being met with doubt because they have such a poor record of reporting accurate facts about any part of the economy. Little wonder that other countries are taking more forceful measures to isolate the country until the infection rate peaks and begins to decline.  



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January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Seven Market Gurus Answer the Seven Big Post-Brexit Questions

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

What will the U.K. look like after Brexit? Stephen Jen, CEO of Eurizon Slj Capital:

Britain will probably face a “J Curve” effect after Brexit, with challenges ahead before taking off.

The world is experiencing disruptive shocks that require countries to re-invent themselves and stay competitive. There is a big scope for the U.K. to achieve that outside the EU given that it will have a greater degree of freedom. It’s already number three next to the U.S. and China in terms of technology innovations such as AI, biomedicine and robotics. There is a good opportunity that it could leap-frog its competitors. I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination that it’s a very exciting future that the U.K. is facing.

As an investor, I would not focus on the negotiation status of various parties or quarter-by-quarter developments, but on the long-term vision of the U.K. government. We are now talking about a different set of considerations -- structural, strategic, forward-looking, institutional. Think Abenomics. Think Singapore-type vision. The government will have to put the country on a very different path than before.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I believe David would have been chuffed to see the UK leave the EU and today marks a momentous occasion for all Britons. Regardless of how one feels about the exit from the EU the real work is only about to get started. The UK needs a clear growth strategy and is going to require visionary thinking on energy, regulation, taxation, immigration and trade.



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January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon Set to Break Record for One-Day Gain in Market Cap

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

If its pre-market trading holds up, Amazon Inc. is about to break a bigger record than just its own peak share price.

The largest U.S. e-commerce company saw its shares jump by more than 10% after Thursday’s earnings report crushed Wall Street estimates. If that gain stands through Friday’s close of trading, the company could see its market capitalization surge by more than $90 billion, and push the total value above $1 trillion -- a level the stock has flirted with intraday, but never held through the market close. The company’s market capitalization gain stood at $91.7 billion as of 9:30 a.m. in New York when trading began.

That’d be the biggest single-day gain on record for a U.S. company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The previous record was $78 billion, set by Alphabet Inc. on July 26, after its shares surged on its own strong results and a $25 billion share-buyback program.

To be sure, with markets near all-time highs, marks such as this are bound to be challenged. But it’s also not every day that one of the largest companies in the world gains 10% or more in a single session. Over the last five years, the six companies in the S&P 500 Index with current market caps exceeding $500 billion have had just 10 such days combined. Today would be the 11th such occurrence, and the fourth time Amazon has done so, the most of any company in the group.

Even if it doesn’t break the market value record today, the company has already set another new high-water mark for itself. Shares opened trading $181 above Thursday’s closing price, its biggest ever gain in dollars per share.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amazon has been a notable laggard as both mega-caps and the equal weight S&P500 have broken on the upside over the course of the last month. Last night’s surprisingly good results highlight the robust position of the US consumer in the 4th quarter and Amazon’s success in implementing 1-day delivery.



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January 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for January 30th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: stock markets rebound following WHO announcement, Hong Kong shares extend pullback ahead of the mainland markets reopening Monday, Negative yielding debt total increases to $13 trillion, high yield spreads pop on the upside. oil and gold steady.



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January 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Carnival Ship in Italy Lockdown as Suspect Virus Traps 7,000

This article by Alberto Brambilla and Jonathan Levin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The ship was bound for La Spezia in the Liguria region, with 1,000 crew and 6,000 passengers, 750 of whom came from China, a port spokesman said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is looking like the ill person did not in fact have the coronavirus but the fact that 1/8th of the passengers are from China highlights just how influential Chinese tourists are for the global sector. The cancelling of flights both to and from China is going to have a material effect on all tourist destinations and the longer it lasts the greater the impact will be.



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January 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's First Sub-Zero 10-Year Sovereign Syndication Is Popular

This article by James Hirai and Hannah Benjamin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The order deluge meant Austria joined the likes of Spain and Italy in setting demand records this month as investors chase the safety of bonds. Fears that the spread of the coronavirus will derail an economic recovery have sent yields tumbling, fueling a huge jump in the world’s stockpile of
negative-yielding bonds.

Austria’s Treasury ended up placing 3 billion euros of the 10-year bonds Wednesday with a yield of minus 0.111%. For investors, that’s still more appealing than equivalent German debt trading at around minus 0.40%. The European Central Bank has a minus 0.50% deposit facility rate.

“Despite the negative interest rate, the issue was met with very strong demand and the transaction was 10-times oversubscribed,” Markus Stix, managing director of Austria’s Treasury, said in a statement.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The total of negative yielding debt continues to rebound, led by a surge in demand for Eurozone sovereign bonds. The total now sits above $13 trillion and has clearly broken the downtrend evident since August. 



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January 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell Dives With Scaled Down Buyback Program a Key Concern

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

Morgan Stanley (equal-weight, PT 2,270p) says 4Q results should trigger “a negative response,” as both earnings and cash flow were lower than consensus expectations and gearing increased on a quarterly basis

Analysts Martijn Rats and Sasikanth Chilukuru say that while integrated gas was largely hit by lower trading profits, margins within chemicals appear to have been hit more than expected by the weaker macro

Oil products and upstream seen benefiting from strong marketing results and higher production volumes, respectively

RBC (sector perform, PT 2,600p) says the decision to reduce the quarterly run rate for its buyback to $1b from $2.75b into 2020 was largely factored into the stock’s recent performance and the new rate “looks well covered,”

Given gearing is 29%, analyst Biraj Borkhataria says that “Shell is right to be more cautious”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Royal Dutch Shell took a big bet on natural gas and has succeeded in getting the product to market from its massive Australian offshore facility. The challenge is there is no intense competition in the LNG market as major producers vie for market share. Meanwhile Shell is also looking at lower oil prices and increasingly aggressive emissions regulations all over the world.



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January 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for January 29th 2020

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 eases, Hong Kong pulls back, gold pause, Bitcoin holds breakout, risk of further consolidation from slowing virus related economic activity but that also boosts the prospect of additional stimulus. 
 



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January 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Part 2: Fiat Money vs. Cryptocurrencies Private vs. Public digital currencies

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

5. Electronic money (E-MONEY) and cryptocurrencies (C-MONEY) vs. central bank money (CB-MONEY): the death knell for paper money? Credit cards or electronic money in general are being used for an increasing number of ever smaller payments due to better, quicker, easier and more widespread infrastructure. The dissemination of electronic payments, and of cryptocurrencies to a lesser extent has reduced the use of notes and coins, i.e. central bank money. Central banks accompany this trend, by removing high-denomination notes from circulation and / or by taking steps to limit payments in cash. With new forms of E-MONEY and C-MONEY, it is evident that payments are currently seeing another period of rapid innovation and transformation. The use of e-payments is booming, while technology companies and financial institutions are investing heavily to be the payment providers of tomorrow. However, despite the continuing digitalisation of the financial system, cash in circulation is not dropping for most countries. The demand for cash still increase in several advanced economies since the Great Financial Crisis, driven by store-of-value motives. Negative rates represent another factor for accumulation of cash. The total elimination of paper money is nevertheless being seriously discussed, for at least two reasons: • The rapid expansion of e-payments, it would help fight the black market and organised crime, • It would free central banks from any constraints on how deeply they can cut interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The war on cash is a well understood theme. Governments have a clear incentive to ensure all transactions are recorded on a digital ledger so they can be taxed and the wealth of individuals monitored.

The motivation for that level of oversight is only exacerbated by the need to pay for all of the unfunded liabilities built up over decades of social democratic crowd-pleasing budgets. Meanwhile the ease of doing business online and the competitive advantage online retail has over physical stores.



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January 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Byron Wien and Joe Zidle: No Recession or Bear Market in Sight

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

The bond market has confounded investors for the past several years as rates have declined or stayed low when almost everyone expected them to rise. The consensus now is that there won’t be much change in intermediate rates this year, with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remaining about 2% because the economy is sluggish and inflation continues to be low. While we agree that traditional economic factors will not drive rates higher, we believe supply and demand will play an important role. The big buyers at the Treasury auctions are the Social Security Administration, the Federal Reserve, Japan and China. The Federal Reserve will probably do some buying, but we should realize that their bond ownership has climbed recently from $3.8 trillion to $4.2 trillion, even as the Fed’s stated objective has been to shrink its balance sheet. China and Japan have been upset with Trump’s trade policy and have been less-than-enthusiastic buyers at recent auctions. The Social Security Administration, which has been a perennial buyer of Treasuries, may pull back since its benefits payments will exceed its inflows in 2020. These conditions suggest to us that the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury will move somewhat higher to 2.5% during the year, and that is the ninth Surprise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Funding social security as the total sum set aside for future liabilities is drawn down is going to represent a significant drag on government finances in the USA for the foreseeable future.



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January 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for January 28th 2020

January 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Pledges Liquidity, Asks for Rational Investor Reaction

This article by Christopher Anstey and Claire Che for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China pledged to provide abundant liquidity for money markets and urged investors to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus objectively, as the nation prepared for a potentially tumultuous resumption of trading next Monday.

Along with a potential sell-off in Chinese stocks, which haven’t traded onshore since Jan. 23, there’s a “large amount of funds” coming due Feb. 3, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement. It will conduct operations “to provide abundant liquidity in a timely manner to maintain reasonable and sufficient liquidity in the banking system,” it said.

China’s top securities regulator separately told brokerages to prepare for off-site trading as the country’s market infrastructure girds for strained conditions as a result of measures aimed at containing the coronavirus epidemic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The question of what would be required for China to kickstart meaningful stimulus again now appears to have been answered. The coronavirus and the economic shutdown it has necessitated are going to result in a meaningful hit to growth in the first quarter. With the extension of its holiday season into early February, China is taking advantage of the break to announce market calming measures aimed at averting a crash once the market opens up again. That means a significant stimulus infusion to allay growth fears.



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January 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the size of the Fed's balance sheet:

Midst all the alarm regarding corona virus, I was surprised that the financial media has paid so little attention to the following:  https://thesoundingline.com/feds-balance-sheet-has-shrunk-20-billion-since-the-start-of-january/

If an over-extended was looking for an excuse to correct, surely this was it!

Your comment would be appreciated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to subscribers. I covered the topic of balance sheet expansion in the Big Picture Friday audio but I’m happy to revisit the question here.

The Fed has added $400 billion to its balance sheet over the last four months by purchasing short-dated Treasuries. That has the same effect on the stock market as the liquidity infusions back in 2017 had. We have just had one of the most inert advances in years where volatility remained low for a prolonged period, just like in 2017.



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January 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold down, silver hammered as U.S. equities see solid rebound

This article by Jim Wychoff for Kitco may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

March silver futures hit a four-week low. The silver bears have gained the overall near-term technical advantage as a downtrend has been restarted on the daily bar chart. Silver bulls’ next upside price breakout objective is closing prices above solid technical resistance at $18.00 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid support at $17.00. First resistance is seen at $17.75 and then at $18.00. Next support is seen at $17.42 and then at $17.25.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Buying the dip on the promise of Chinese stimulus has been the primary story in today’s market. It helped to support stock markets and removed some of the impetus from safe havens.



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January 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for January 27th 2020

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: coronavirus news likely to get worse before it gets better. demand for safe havens jumps but stock markets down less than they could have been which suggests hedging. oil short-term oversold, Treasuries firm



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January 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on corona virus outbreak.

Two aspects of the current outbreak I find especially concerning, speaking as a retired veterinarian of some fifty years’ experience. I understand the symptoms can vary from barely perceptible with no fever to severe and fatal Some. people with the virus may be unaware they have it but may be very infectious to others, acting as symptomless carriers. My experience with animals which are subject to lockdown on account of infectious disease is that they tend to become very stressed and anxious, this in turn tends to make them more liable to spread infection on account of diminished resistance. I would suggest bottling up millions of Chinese in these cities has its own hazards regarding virus spread.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this insight which I believe will be of interest to other subscribers. The reaction of the Chinese administration to the speed of the outbreak has been panicky. The long gestation period where no symptoms are evident but where transmission is possible represents a significant challenge to containment. That was the reason for the quarantine but it is impossible to corral that many people. On top of that 5 million left the city before the quarantine and very little comment has been made on how migrant workers are counted.



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January 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon Has Long Ruled the Cloud. Now It Must Fend Off Rivals

This article by Dana Mattioli and Aaron Tilley for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Some of the sharpest barbs are now coming from Amazon, long the dominant provider of data storage to large multinationals. Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon Web Services, targeted Microsoft in remarks last month to attendees of the company’s annual cloud-computing gathering in Las Vegas.

“They are not prioritizing what matters to you guys as a customer,” said Mr. Jassy of Microsoft. Rivals, he said, were often mere copycats. “There are a lot of companies that have become pretty good at being checkbox heroes, where they kind of look at something we have and they rush to have it out there and say we have it too.”

Some of Mr. Jassy’s customers took note. In a private dinner involving some CEOs of companies that use Amazon’s cloud services, attendees discussed Amazon’s apparent anxiety about rivals, particularly crosstown rival Microsoft. Now No. 2 in the cloud, Microsoft last year won a giant Pentagon cloud-computing contract for which Amazon was favored. The deal is valued at up to $10 billion over the coming decade. Amazon is contesting the outcome in court.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Competition in supplying cloud and support services has been one of the primary factors in why Amazon’s share price has not broken out while Microsoft, Apple and Google have surged of late. The message here is it appears a lot less difficult for big companies to compete in data warehousing than in the online retail business and it also tends to be a higher margin business than ruthlessly competitive retail.



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January 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bernie Can Win. So Can His Revolution

This article by Ramesh Ponnuru for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscriber’s Here is a section:

Here’s what this way of thinking misses: If Sanders wins, it will mark a huge change in American politics. Self-described socialists have been elected in other developed countries; never in this one. Here, “socialism” has been an accusation, not a boast. Politicians on the left wing of the Democratic Party have considered the label, and the associations that come with it, deadly to their electoral chances. Republicans hope it still is. If Sanders beats them, the taboo will be broken.

It’s not just a matter of the label. The limits of what’s politically possible will shift left as the political world adjusts to the new reality. Politicians, strategists, journalists, activists and voters who thought that certain ideas were too far left to make it in America would revise their sense of the country, and of what counts as extreme or as realistic within it. The ground on which future races for president, governor and Congress are contested would move left. That doesn’t mean the U.S. would be Venezuela, or even Denmark, by the start of 2022. But it is reasonable to expect that government policy 10 or 20 years from now would be considerably more socialistic than it would be if Trump were re-elected — or if Biden were elected.

In that sense, Sanders’s election really would live up to the billing. Just by taking office, he would have delivered his political revolution.

Eoin Treacy's view -

During the 2016 election no one knocked on my door ahead of the election, but a Bernie Sanders electioneer paid us a visit on Saturday and was full of revolutionary zeal. The promise of free health care and free tuition, while leaving responsibility for paying for it to someone else, has a siren quality for many young people.



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January 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy