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March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold ETF Exodus Quickens in Ominous Sign for Faltering Metal

This article by Yvonne Yue Li and Eddie Spence for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs,” Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in a note. “A shift in sentiment among investors would be needed for gold to free itself from its extremely difficult predicament.”

Federal Reserve officials slated to speak this week may give more insight into the economic outlook and how the central bank might respond to the recent tumult in bond markets. Higher yields dim the appeal of the non-interest-bearing metal.

“Gold remains vulnerable to a further tightening from real rates,” TD Securities analysts led by Bart Melek said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sentiment towards gold is rapidly deteriorating as the pace of the decline from the August peak picks up. The trend of gold holdings in ETFs is also now below its trend mean as investors migrate away from the yellow metal in favour of better performing assets. The big question for investors is whether this is a temporary or major correction.



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March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin ETF Competition Heats Up as Crypto Trust Eyes Conversion

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

Less than a month after the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund debuted in Canada, a Toronto-based asset manager is looking to convert its cryptocurrency trust to the format.

Ninepoint Partners LP plans to ask holders of its $266 million (C$335 million) Bitcoin Trust (BITC.U) to approve its conversion from a closed-end investment fund into an ETF, according to a statement Wednesday. The firm, which manages $9 billion in assets, cited increased liquidity and a better price to the fund’s net asset value as reasons for the change.

Discounts and premiums to the net-asset value are common among such crypto trust because unlike ETFs, new shares can’t be quickly created. The BITC.U fund was trading at a 9.13% discount
to its NAV on Tuesday.

The meeting to approve the conversion will take place April 19 and all costs of the conversion will be covered by the firm, the release said

Eoin Treacy's view -

In March 2017 there was a lot of discussion about the creation of a bitcoin ETF. The Winklevoss twins in particular were at the forefront of attempts to launch one. Those efforts failed because the market was not sufficiently well understood or supported by institutions and because cryptocurrencies are completely unregulated. 



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March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hiding From The Madness: An Alts Perspective On The Search For Capital Shortage

I attended this zoom call this morning given by Dylan Grice and there were a number of interesting comments I thought subscribers might be interested in.

March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Banks in Germany Tell Customers to Take Deposits Elsewhere

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

Interest rates have been negative in Europe for years. But it took the flood of savings unleashed in the pandemic for banks finally to charge depositors in earnest.

Germany’s biggest lenders, Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG, have told new customers since last year to pay a 0.5% annual rate to keep large sums of money with them. The banks say they can no longer absorb the negative interest rates the European Central Bank charges them. The more customer deposits banks have, the more they have to park with the central bank.

That is creating an unusual incentive, where banks that usually want deposits as an inexpensive form of financing, are essentially telling customers to go away. Banks are even providing new online tools to help customers take their deposits elsewhere.

Banks in Europe resisted passing negative rates on to customers when the ECB first introduced them in 2014, fearing backlash. Some did it only with corporate depositors, who were less likely to complain to local politicians. The banks resorted to other ways to pass on the costs of negative rates, charging higher fees, for instance.

The pandemic has changed the equation. Savings rates skyrocketed with consumers at home. And huge relief programs from the ECB have flooded banks with excess deposits. Banks also have used the economic dislocation of the pandemic to make operational changes they have long resisted.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two big questions that arise from charging depositors to hold funds in their bank accounts. The first is the benefit banks receive from now being able to pass on costs to customers. The second is the quandary savers are put in.



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March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Twitter announces paid Super Follows to let you charge for tweets

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

 

Twitter announced a pair of big upcoming features today: the ability for users to charge their followers for access to additional content, and the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests. They’re two of the more substantial changes to Twitter in a while, but they also fit snugly into models that have been popular and successful on other social platforms.

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans.

Direct payment tools have become increasingly important for creators in particular in recent years. Patreon has been hugely successful, and other platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and even GitHub have all launched direct creator payment features. Twitter will presumably take a cut — the company has been hinting at subscriptions features that would offer it a new source of revenue — though it doesn’t appear to have said yet what that fee will be.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This announcement suggests Twitter is serious about starting to make money. The creation of a sales funnel so members with substantial followings can monetise that interest is a business model that has grown in popularity during the pandemic.  



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March 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Berkshire Hathaway Preamble to the Annual Meeting

Here is a section:

Berkshire’s investment in Apple vividly illustrates the power of repurchases. We began buying Apple stock late in 2016 and by early July 2018, owned slightly more than one billion Apple shares (split-adjusted). Saying that, I’m referencing the investment held in Berkshire’s general account and am excluding a very small and separately-managed holding of Apple shares that was subsequently sold.

When we finished our purchases in mid-2018, Berkshire’s general account owned 5.2% of Apple. Our cost for that stake was $36 billion. Since then, we have both enjoyed regular dividends, averaging about $775 million annually, and have also – in 2020 – pocketed an additional $11 billion by selling a small portion of our position. Despite that sale – voila! – Berkshire now owns 5.4% of Apple. That increase was costless to us, coming about because Apple has continuously repurchased its shares, thereby substantially shrinking the number it now has outstanding. 6 But that’s far from all of the good news.

Because we also repurchased Berkshire shares during the 21⁄2 years, you now indirectly own a full 10% more of Apple’s assets and future earnings than you did in July 2018. This agreeable dynamic continues. Berkshire has repurchased more shares since yearend and is likely to further reduce its share count in the future. Apple has publicly stated an intention to repurchase its shares as well. As these reductions occur, Berkshire shareholders will not only own a greater interest in our insurance group and in BNSF and BHE, but will also find their indirect ownership of Apple increasing as well. The math of repurchases grinds away slowly, but can be powerful over time. The process offers a simple way for investors to own an ever-expanding portion of exceptional businesses. And as a sultry Mae West assured us: “Too much of a good thing can be . . . wonderful.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Buying back shares appears to be back on the menu for an increasingly large number of companies. For investors who seldom sell, like Berkshire, that’s good news provided the number of shares in issuance does in fact contract.

One of the most egregious abuses of share buyback programs is that additional shares are issued at a similar pace through executives exercising options. That effectively means buybacks amount to a massive transfer of wealth to company management.



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March 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ignoring Energy Transition Realities

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from the team at Goehring & Rozencwajg which was released a couple of months ago. Here is a section:

Electric vehicles also involve energy intensive lithium-ion batteries. Few realize how much energy is embedded in an electric vehicle before it is ever plugged in. Over the life of a typical EV, nearly 40% of the total energy goes into manufacturing the battery. The IEA expects electric vehicles will represent nearly 15% of total transportation energy by 2040. We calculate this equates to approximately 850 mm EVs and nearly 65 terawatt hours of batteries. This is a staggering amount considering global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity is currently less than 0.4 terawatt hours per year. These batteries will require an incredible 2 billion tonnes of oil equivalent to build. We will shortly release a detailed podcast that goes into these figures in great depth.

Unfortunately, few people realize how energy intensive the “green transition” will be. As a result, much (if not all) of the carbon savings will be undone by generating the power in the first place. The IEA’s proposal assumes wind and solar make up nearly 50% of all electricity by 2040 and that some 850 mm electric vehicles will be on the road. These initiatives are expected to reduce CO2 by 55% or 18 bn tonnes per year. While this may sound impressive, simply moving away from coal towards much-cleaner natural gas would itself save nearly 14 bn tonnes of CO2 per year. When analyzed through this perspective, renewables would save an incremental 4 bn tonnes compared with the next cleanest option.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The views expressed in this report elaborates on many of the points made by other analysts. There is no getting around the fact that renewables are dependent on access to metals like copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel. That’s in addition to the significant additional quantities of rare earth metals required. These are all extractive industries. A lot of renewable infrastructure is also placed in very remote, ecologically pristine areas.



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March 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Housing Booms in Australia as Prices Surge Most in 17 Year

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

We are seeing a significant increase in demand across all price points and all suburbs,” said real estate agent Ben Collier, who handled the Paddington sale. Usually “you see different markets moving at different speeds, whereas it seems to be somewhat more uniformed right now.”

In New Zealand, where home prices soared 13% in January from a year earlier, the problem is so acute the government will now require the central bank to consider the impact on housing prices when setting interest rates, a change the bank opposed. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is also reimposing lending restrictions on property investors in an attempt to cool the market.

Fears that Australia’s housing market would be flooded by distressed sales as people were thrown out of work by the pandemic have faded as the economy recovers faster than expected, and people resume paying their mortgages after being offered six-month loan holidays last year.

Instead, a shortage of supply is helping fuel the price boom. The number of houses advertised for sale in the first three weeks of February was down 26% from a year earlier, CoreLogic said.

“Housing inventory is around record lows for this time of the year and buyer demand is well above average,” Lawless said. “These conditions favor sellers. Buyers are likely confronting a sense of FOMO, which limits their ability to negotiate.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a familiar story from all over the world. There is low supply because many people are worried about moving during a pandemic. At the same time there is increased demand because other people feel they have more cash and need to move because of personal circumstances. The combination is leading to rising prices across the board. Record low interest rates are fuelled the advance.



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February 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chaotic Treasury Selloff Fueled by $50 Billion of Unwinding

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

Market detectives looking to explain the fury of Thursday’s Treasuries selloff will find most of the evidence pointing to technical rather than fundamental reasons.

A combination of supply indigestion, a potential $50 billion position unwind and vanishing liquidity exacerbated moves as traders aggressively repriced the Federal Reserve rate-hike outlook, despite no major economic developments or shifts in tone from policy makers.

“It wasn’t an orderly selloff and certainly didn’t appear to be driven by any obvious fundamental continuation or extension of the reflation thesis,” wrote NatWest Markets strategist Blake Gwinn in a note to clients. A number of more “technical-style” factors were in the mix, against a backdrop of a good-old-fashioned buyers strike, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In a bull market buying the dips always works. When buying the dips stops working, the bull market is over. That might seem tautological but it is the strategy every investor ends up following because buying the dips is the best risk-adjusted way of buying in an uptrend. That question will be discussed in every emergency meeting at fixed income fund management houses today and over the weekend.



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February 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The $1T resistance -

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

This was a DATA ERROR. I spoke to Glassnode’s CTO during the cascade of liquidations and can confirm this was a wallet labelling error from an upstream data provider. (What we were actually seeing was an internal movement of coins inside Gemini exchange.) During this time, investment flows continued into Bitcoin’s network unabated with no shake-out of new investors. We can see this in the chart below where SOPR climbed against the sell off.

This is VERY unusual occurrence. SOPR can only climb against a price decline when recent buyers hold their coins, and new buyers are stepping in to buy the steady stream of coins being offered by sellers who bought a while ago carrying greater profit. In summary, new investors bought the dip while traders buying on leverage were liquidated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

An additional odd occurrence in the crypto markets is that the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is now trading at a discount to NAV. This is not the first time the fund has traded below book value and the trust has underperformed the bitcoin price by a considerable margin since March 2020. That suggests the aggressive fee structure and increasing availability of alternative vehicles for investing in bitcoin have robbed the fund of customers.



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February 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper Crunch Set to Ease With More Supply Heading to China

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

Chinese copper smelters grappling with a shortage of semi-processed material are set to see an influx of supply from South America, a sign that the tightness helping supercharge the metal’s rally may be easing.

Starting next month, there’ll be a large number of ships arriving at Chinese ports from Chile and Peru, the nation’s main suppliers, as bottlenecks ease, according to IHS Markit lead shipping analyst Daejin Lee. The amount of concentrate expected to reach the Asian nation may climb almost 60% from February’s volume, he estimated.

“The narrative could be shifting from very tight supply on account of port congestion and logistics difficulties, and even the waves in Chile, to more easier supply,” said Ed Meir, an analyst with ED&F Man Capital Market. That could take a little bit of the air out of copper’s rally, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Commodities are volatile and chasing prices that are already at elevated levels is seldom a useful exercise. One of the oldest adages in the commodity markets is “the cure for high prices is high prices.” The surge in copper prices has begun to encourage supply into the market. At least some further consolidation of recent gains appears likely.



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February 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Yields Surge Past 1.6%, Sounding Alarm for Risk Assets

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

The 5-year note is of particular interest to many in the $21 trillion Treasuries market. Earlier this week, tepid demand in an auction of five-year notes brought into focus this key part of the curve, which also reflects medium-term expectations for Fed policy. Then on Thursday, a measure of demand for a $62 billion auction of 7-year Treasury notes came in at a record low.

The rout comes as investors continue to reprice expectations for Fed hikes as the vaccine rollout and the prospect of additional stimulus foster a rosier outlook for the economy. Yields on 2- and 5-year yields are more influenced by the starting point and speed of normalization, said Bank of America Corp. rates strategist Ralph Axel.

“Everything that we see keeps pushing us into sooner, faster, more in terms of removing accommodation,” Axel said.

The surge in yields is hurting riskier assets. Emerging-market currencies such as the South African rand and Mexican peso sold off sharply against the dollar, and the S&P 500 Index dropped as much as 2.6%.

In Europe, peripheral countries have led a bond sell-off, with Italy’s 10-year yield spread over Germany climbing back above 100 basis points. Core debt wasn’t spared, with yields on France’s benchmark debt turning positive for the first time since June.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The 5-year Treasury best approximates the average duration of the US debt market so it tends to attract a lot of notice from bond traders. The surge in yields is being driven by two factors. The first is investors are increasingly willing to price in a quick recovery. The second is the indifference of the Fed to higher rates.



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February 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Fed May Need to Head Off a Money-Market Mess

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

What can the Fed do? For one, at their next policy-making meeting in mid-March, officials could slightly bump up the interest rates the central bank pays on bank reserves (currently 0.10%) and on its borrowings in the repo market (currently zero). A slightly higher floor on such rates might help prevent other short-term rates, such as yields on Treasury bills, from going negative. There’s precedent for such a move: The Fed has made technical adjustments to these rates before in order to ensure that the federal funds rate stays within the Fed’s target range.

Beyond that, the Fed should extend its temporary exemption of bank reserves and Treasury securities from leverage-ratio calculations (the initial exemption, granted last spring, is set to expire in March). I would even recommend going further and exempting bank reserves permanently. This would help solve a problem that arises when the Fed buys securities to stimulate the economy: Its purchases cause reserves to increase, bringing banks closer to the point where the leverage ratio requirement binds and forces them to curtail lending. When this happens, it undermines the Fed’s stimulus efforts. To ensure that the exemption wouldn’t reduce the amount of capital required to be held by banks, the leverage ratio and other capital requirements could be adjusted upwards.

Granted, the Fed might have a hard time selling such a move to other financial regulators, which don’t share its monetary policy mandate. But it would be the right thing to do, eliminating the inherent conflict between the Fed’s quantitative easing and bank leverage limits. Under the current regime, the Fed is adding accommodation with one hand, and taking it away with the other. That’s a strange way of doing business.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The repo market is more than capable of sparking unwelcome volatility and the conditions for negative money market rates are growing. Some form of action will be required. Doing nothing will only exacerbate the problem. I suspect the Fed would much prefer removing inhibitions on bank liquidity than any form of interest rate hike regardless of how technical it would be.

This helps to highlight the Fed has challenges at both the long and short end of the curves. The yield curve spread continues to expand. The more sensitive 10-year - 3-month spread has jumped by almost 200 basis points in the last 18 months.



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February 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

"Real world" test of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Israel determines effectiveness in preventing illness

This article from the Associated Press may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A real-world test of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in more than half a million people confirms that it’s very effective at preventing serious illness or death, even after one dose.

Wednesday’s published results, from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel, give strong reassurance that the benefits seen in smaller, limited testing persisted when the vaccine was used much more widely in a general population with various ages and health conditions.

The vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time.

It seemed as effective in folks over 70 as in younger people.

“This is immensely reassuring … better than I would have guessed,” said the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Gregory Poland.

Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Buddy Creech agreed: “Even after one dose we can see very high effectiveness in prevention of death,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is very encouraging news for anyone worried that the pandemic is going to last indefinitely. There are a handful of variants currently spreading and each appears to be more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19.

Some of the vaccines have not proven to be effective at managing these threats. However, the big step in calming consumers has been achieved. If a vaccine can be created to deal with the first one, a booster can be delivered to the deal with the next. That’s true in addition to the fact that most young people have little to worry about anyway.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 24th 2021

February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on paying up for commodities

Thanks again for your very calm analysis of these volatile times. I appreciate it a lot. I enjoyed very much your comments about the tendency of remembering the end of the events/experiences. There is a very good experiment on this done by Daniel Kahnemann. On a different note; you seem to be very bullish on copper, but it seems not enough to invest on that theme yet. Are you planning to invest? Otherwise, what would be a good instrument to invest for the medium/long term on that theme. Thanks in advance

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to subscribers. I have been conditioned through the decades to refuse to pay up for commodities. It’s a volatile sector that tends to have outsized moves in both directions. I am very bullish on industrial commodities overall and copper in particular.

Seeing outsized new sources of demand emerge for a commodity is a once in a couple of decades event. It will require a massive supply response to bring the market back into equilibrium. At present commodities are rallying because investors are pricing in an epic rebound in economic activity as fear about the pandemic subsides and people embrace fun and joie de vivre.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-End Yields Surge in Biggest Treasury Selloff Since January

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

The selloff in Treasuries sent the yield on the 30-year bond surging on Wednesday, putting the long-end
benchmark on track for its biggest one-day advance since early January.

Rates climbed across notes and bonds, with the long-end increasing most and the curve steepening. The 30-year yield jumped by around 11 basis points at one stage, hitting a one-year high of 2.29%, while the 10-year rate rose as much as 9 basis points to 1.43%.

Global bond markets are suffering this year amid the prospects for U.S. stimulus and a surging reflationary narrative, with volatility gauges climbing to multi-month highs. That’s prompted fears over a potential tantrum in havens, such as Treasuries and German bonds. While Federal Reserve Chairman
Jerome Powell this week called the recent run-up in bond yields “a statement of confidence” in the economic outlook, the move raises pressure on central banks to keep financing conditions easy.
 

“The market is nervous about additional stimulus, worried about the risks of higher inflation, and concerned about QE tapering,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, senior U.S. rates strategist at TD Securities. “The selloff is likely being exacerbated by convexity hedging and positioning stop-outs.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Demand for save havens is waning. That’s perhaps the easiest way to explain the run-up in yields; globally. The scale of the flight to quantity because of angst at the lockdowns drove yields down to historic lows almost everywhere.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Square Buys $170 Million More Bitcoin, Deepening Crypto Bet

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

Square Inc. said it purchased $170 million in Bitcoin, further committing to the cryptocurrency and raising its holdings to about 5% of the company’s cash and equivalents.

The announcement came Tuesday as Square reported that cryptocurrency continues to be a growing part of its business through the use of its Cash App for Bitcoin transactions. The financial payments company’s involvement with Bitcoin is a reflection of Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s belief in
cryptocurrencies and the open internet.

The investment “really comes down to the alignment with our purpose, and aligning our incentives with cryptocurrency and more broadly expanding the economic empowerment opportunities and making them acceptable more broadly in a fair way around the world,” Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja said. Square also bought $50 million worth of Bitcoin in October.

“Bitcoin has the potential to be a native currency of the internet and we want to continue to participate and learn in a disciplined way,” she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Once a company begins to accept bitcoin and promotes its use to clients it is virtually impossible to pull back. The fate of the company becomes twinned with the outlook for the cryptocurrency.

During bull markets demand for tokens increases and requires a devotion of capital to cater to the needs of clients. During bear markets, the company is left with useless assets that are expensive to maintain and lie dormant until the next bull run.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Battery Technology Fantasy Doesn't Match Reality

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

Technology has been forced to chase investors’ expectations. In China, the world’s largest market for electric cars where sales are growing steadily, battery installations of so-called lithium iron phosphate, or LFP, batteries – the technology of the last decade – accounted for 38% of the market, up from 33% the year before. Such batteries lag behind newer ones by as much as 30% in terms of energy density.

The reality is, these powertrains are highly complex. Even as some promising advances are made, commercial viability remains a stumbling block. Chief among those hurdles is boosting energy density and along with it, safety. The more energy a battery has, the further a car can go. However, that also hastens the pace of degradation and shortens battery life. Several higher-density batteries don’t have stable chemical compositions either, leaving them dangerously vulnerable to combustion.

To get over such challenges, firms are trying to make solid-state batteries that will be safer and, eventually, cheaper. Others are intent on boosting battery density by using more nickel content, and less cobalt, which is expensive and mired in supply issues. The progress so far has been limited.
Investors and analysts, meanwhile, are honing in the improvements on to individual battery parts, like cathodes and anodes.

The flipside of these advances are often overlooked. For instance, solid-state batteries that can store more have low power density, which means their energy delivery is slow, while those with higher nickel content are less chemically stable. In addition, solid state batteries have been known to discharge
sulphides.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It feels like I see a sensational headline about a new battery innovation almost every day. The reality is that it can take a decade to proof up and commercialise a new discovery and even that timeline is ambitious. There is no denying a great deal of capital is being poured into the sector but nothing has happened to question the historical timeline of 5 years between doublings in energy density.



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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Johnson Says Pandemic End in Sight as He Plans U.K. Recovery

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

“This road map should be cautious but also irreversible,” the prime minister told members of Parliament in London. “The end really is in sight and a wretched year will give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better than the picture we see around us today.”

While U.K. leisure and travel stocks jumped as Johnson revealed his timeline, he is already facing pressure to move faster after the economy endured its deepest recession in more than 300 years. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will announce more support for pandemic-hit businesses in his budget next week.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Psychologically, we tend to remember the totality of an experience based upon how well it ended. That’s why bubbles are always remembered so negatively. People forget the euphoria of the advance and focus instead on the trauma of the subsequent decline. 

As we exit lockdowns, worrying about mask protocols, handwashing and social distancing, will we now remember the pleasure of that first meal out, meeting up with friends, going to that first football game or concert more than the year of watching and waiting? In a couple of years, we might be yearning to spend more time with our families and a less hectic schedule.



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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on interest rate sensitivity and overbought conditions

At Greatest Risk from Higher Bond Yields? Eoin, we have seen some sizable sell offs in recent weeks from the hottest sectors such as Green Power, and the various Innovation Funds/ETFs as well as Electric Vehicle sector. As you'd pointed out, they are benefit from super low rates as growth is essentially free. What risk for EM though, which otherwise has been on cruise control of late? Today has seen a sizeable sell off, but is this just the first shot across the bow? Which of the EMs would you be most guarded against? What else might be at greatest risk given the run ups we have had in markets over the last 12 months?

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ARK Innovation ETF has pulled back by about 20% over the last six sessions. That’s a sizable pullback but the fund was up 383% since March 2020 so it was due some consolidation. This reaction has broken the 12-month sequence of higher reaction lows so the trend is no longer as consistent as it was on the way up.



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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles Below $50,000 as Fear Sweeps Through Crypto

This article by Joanna Ossinger and Olivia Raimonde for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The cryptocurrency tanked as much 18% on Tuesday and traded around $48,750 as of 10:41 a.m. in New York. While the selloff only puts Bitcoin prices at the lowest in about two weeks, investors are starting to wonder whether it marks the start of a bigger retreat from crypto or simply represents volatility in an
unpredictable market.

“Today’s correction for crypto assets is part of a wider sell-off in markets globally, being driven by profit-taking,” said Simon Peters, a crypto-asset analyst at the trading platform eToro. “Investors are closing positions, which will have generated significant gains for many of them.”

Bitcoin has been battered by negative comments this week, with long-time skeptic and now Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying at a New York Times conference on Monday that the token is an “extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin is a speculative asset. That’s why it is capable of such big moves on the upside. It is also extremely volatile and dependent on a continued swell of new investors turning up to buy at successively higher prices.



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February 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Yellen Shift on Vast Treasury Cash Pile Poses Problem for Powell

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

In an effort to provide a floor for the money markets, the central bank could lift the rate it pays on excess reserves parked at the Fed by banks and on its reverse repurchase agreements, from 10 basis points and zero, respectively. Tweaking these administered rates is something the Fed has done before.

“If the Fed decides that it wants overnight rates to move away from zero, the most effective approach in my view would be to raise” those two rates together, said former New York Fed official Brian Sack, who is now Director of Global Economics for D. E. Shaw & Co.

But that decision -- which could be made at next month’s policy making meeting -- would come as officials try to convince markets that they’re not about to reduce support for the economy. While any rate rise would be portrayed as a technical adjustment, there’s a risk investors wouldn’t see it that way.

“The aesthetics of having to hike these rates, I’m not sure how well the market will digest that,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York. “It might be complicated.”

What to do about the supplementary leverage ratio the Fed and other regulators impose on banks is also tricky. In order to ease market strains in March, the Fed temporarily exempted banks’ holdings of Treasuries and reserves from the ratio’s calculation. That exemption expires on March 31, just as banks’ cash balances at the central bank will be ramping up.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bank leverage ratios are the big impediment to the financial system absorbing an additional trillion in liquidity. The easy answer would be to unshackle the banks but that is very unlikely given the current political environment.

Therefore, the most likely course of action is for the Fed to increase the rate it pays banks to hold reserves. This means the money leaving the Fed will quickly make a return journey through the economy and back to the Fed but would now command a higher return for banks.



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February 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Yield Appeal Catapults Yuan to Global FX Big League

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

There have been many false dawns in China’s quest for the yuan to challenge other major currencies. But underpinning the explosion this time lies a torrent of capital flowing into China’s markets, fueled by a frantic search for returns with over $14 trillion of debt globally paying less than 0%.

That appetite for some of the highest-yielding government bonds in the Group-of-20 countries has elevated interest in China to fever pitch and is generating demand for liquidity from investors looking to finance and hedge their investments. It’s also spurring volatility and attracting speculators who overlooked the market for years.

“It’s certainly a top currency in terms of the flow that we’re seeing,” said Kevin Kimmel, New York-based global head of electronic FX at Citadel Securities, one of the world’s biggest market makers. “Trading activity in the yuan has increased significantly.”

The shift comes as China continues to relinquish control -- albeit slowly -- of its tightly-managed currency, a linchpin of Beijing’s long-term plan to encourage its greater global use. China is considering easing restrictions on citizens investing in securities outside its mainland, a move that would facilitate two-way capital flows.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capital is both global and mobile and it will always flow to the most attractive assets. There are no developed markets where one can pick up a yield above 1% in an appreciating currency. Investors have no other choice than to look elsewhere.

In doing so, they have to weigh how likely it is that tensions with China are likely to escalate. With a new US administration, the potential for surprises is lower and therefore the risk from investing in the renminbi is reduced but not eliminated. This trend of Renminbi strength has been very persistent since March and some consolidation will occur eventually.



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February 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Extends Rebound on Wavering Dollar, Inflation Concerns

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

“I think the strong buying in gold stems from a sharp bounce from new lows and strong close on Friday,” said Tai Wong, head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. “And a softer dollar negates the impact of higher U.S. yields.”

A revival in Indian gold imports could also indicate some physical dip buying of bullion, according to Marcus Garvey, head of metals and bulk commodity strategy at Macquarie Group Ltd.

Meanwhile, Democrats begin the final push for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill this week, and the Biden administration may unveil a multitrillion-dollar recovery package in March centered on infrastructure.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Perhaps gold has been overshadowed by bitcoin during the latest bull run. The continued strength in cryptocurrencies is attracting interest from all manner of sources internationally. Everyone is aware of the strength the sector is capable of but few are willing to consider bitcoin is also capable of pulling back by 90% following its accelerations.



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the sequence of breakouts.

As someone who has no stake in Cryptoland, it is increasingly baffling, and frustrating to see the continued rise of virtually everything in that world. Particularly notable has been the rise of Bitcoin "Miners" RIOT in the US and ARGO in the UK, each of which has seen their share prices rise by roughly 50x in the last few months, with a notable explosion higher once Bitcoin rose through $20,000. Is it fair to say that these are like the Gold Explorers, the highest Beta plays that investors now feel comfortable owning now that Bitcoin, then Ethereum, then the other Alt Coins have roofed it?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin miners are creating new supply and represent the only opportunity to obtain tokens below the prevailing price. That means they are heavily leveraged to price rises above the marginal cost of production. In that regard they are similar to the gold explorers. High-cost producers tend to move more as prices rise because the move into profitability is life changing for their prospects.



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on silver's relative strength

Silver price appears to be holding up much better vs. gold price. Any idea why?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I have been pondering over for the last few days. The easy answer is that silver has more industrial uses than gold. As industrial metals continue to price in additional infrastructure growth and new use cases in transportation and electricity generation they may be lending some support to silver versus gold.



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook and Twitter Can't Police What Gets Posted

This article by Cathy O'Neil for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In short, for a while AI was covering for the inevitable failure of user moderation, and now official or outsourced moderation is supposed to be covering for the inevitable failure of AI. None are up to the task, and events such as the capital riot should put an end to the era of plausible denial of responsibility. At some point these companies need to come clean: Moderation isn’t working, nor will it.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an easy way to improve user conduct on social media. Insist on real name confirmation. Anyone can say or do anything on social media today and have no fear of recrimination for their actions because it is completely anonymous.

The community of trolls on Twitter has multiplied beyond recognition and they form a significant core of user engagement. If the company were to insist on real names the business model would implode. However, it is instructive that many of the newer social media sites are insisting on real name login credentials from the outset. That is a simple measure to foster a less toxic community.



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February 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 18th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Vietnam continues to rebound, South Korea pauses, Semiconductor demand remains firm, China eases and Renminbi weakens, copper extends rally, gold and silver remain stable but need a catalyst, bitcoin steady, ethereum breaks out, commodity currencies continue to rebound.



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February 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China blocked Jack Ma's Ant IPO after investigation revealed

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

The main reason seemed to be “growing unease in Beijing over Ant’s complex ownership structure and the people who stood to gain most from it”. The Street Journal said in a report on Tuesday.

“Behind layers of opaque investment vehicles that own stakes in the firm are a coterie of well-connected Chinese power players, including some with links to political families that represent a potential challenge to President Xi and his inner circle” the report added.

One of Ant’s investors is Boyu Capital, a private equity firm founded in part by Jiang Zhicheng. Jiang Zhicheng is the grandson of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, Many of Jiang Zemin’s allies have been purged in Xi’s anticorruption campaign, though he remains a force behind the scenes the WSF said in its report.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many people are familiar with the fact that Chairman Mao was a prodigious reader of history. Few comment on the kind of history he focused on. His primary interest was in courtroom politics. He understood that he was now the emperor and that the only way to hold onto power would be to ensure his supporters were rewarded for their efforts. At the same time, they had to compete with one another for favour which strengthened his position. That’s how every dynasty functioned up to that point and he reintroduced the system of palace politics.



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February 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on debt

In the 1960s David Cameron's father, Ian who was the head of the Gilts department, taught me when I was working. at Panmure Gordon, that states never repay their debts. They issue new bonds to refinance old ones when they come to maturity. Apart from President Andrew Jackson in 1835, there is no modern example of a state repaying the National Debt. It is about time that experts and journalists stop causing anxiety among older people who think that states are burdening their children and grandchildren with future debt repayments.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this personal account. I agree governments never pay back their debts. They always issue more debt. However, the money for the bonds has to come from somewhere. If the yield is high enough it will siphon private savings from the economy to fund the government. If the yield is not attractive, the central bank will have to print the money and buy the bonds.

In the first case, the currency strengthen, growth has a harder time raising capital but value should do well. In the latter, they devalue the currency to fund government. All private savings are eroded. Those with savings pour them into financial assets to hedge against the falling purchasing power of the currency.



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February 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Peak oil demand is coming - but first brace for an almighty supply crunch

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

The world has turned its back on austerity. Keynesian reflation doctrines are triumphant. The Biden administration explicitly aims to run the US economy hot, with the help of the Federal Reserve.

Global "green deals" amount to $16 trillion. “It’s going to turbo-charge oil demand in 2022,” said John Hess, head of Hess Corp.

This spending may be low-carbon in ultimate effect but in the short-run it is brown. The transition requires infrastructure. It requires bulldozers and trucks. It requires the mining of iron ore and thermal coal, and the shipment to steel foundries. It trumps the $10 trillion infrastructure blitz by China, India, Brazil. and the emerging market "mini-BRICs" of the last commodity supercycle.

If future demand is large, the shortfall in future supply is even larger. Investment of $600bn a year in non-Opec exploration and drilling is needed to keep the global show on the road. Spending collapsed after 2014 and has never recovered. Last year it was $300bn. It has been running at just 35pc of levels reached in the boom.

This catches up with you in the end. The last two super projects to enter supply were Norway’s Johan Sverdrup and the Exxon-Hess Guyana venture. Henceforth it is a drought.

Goldman Sachs estimates that 9m to 10m barrels a day of future supply have vanished. That is a tenth of the world’s 100m barrels a day production. Remember that a swing of just 1m either way in normal times can flip the market from slump to price spike. Short-term demand is inelastic.

The elephant in the room is falling supply from non-Opec producers. These companies and regions (excluding US shale) were gently adding 500,000 barrels a day annually a year until recently. Goldman Sachs thinks they will soon be subtracting up to 1m barrels a day each year.

The pandemic has distorted the immediate picture but not the underlying dynamics. Global demand has fallen by 6m barrels a day. Two thirds of that is jet fuel. Aviation will come back fast as soon as the flying world is vaccinated.
 
The world has turned its back on austerity. Keynesian reflation doctrines are triumphant. The Biden administration explicitly aims to run the US economy hot, with the help of the Federal Reserve. Global "green deals" amount to $16 trillion. “It’s going to turbo-charge oil demand in 2022,” said John Hess, head of Hess Corp.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The commodity supercycle argument has become very popular all of a sudden among institutional investors. The trillions devoted to green tech commitments are expected to fuel a global infrastructure boom which is positive for industrial resources. 

When China entered the WTO, it embarked on the biggest building boom the world has ever seen. That primarily drove demand for oil, coal, iron-ore, copper and cement.

Secular bull markets or supercycles depend on supply inelasticity and rising demand. Twenty years ago, oil had both. Today, we have short-term supply inelasticity and the potential for a rebound in demand.



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February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Clubhouse Conversations

I’ve been granted early access to the Clubhouse app so I was thinking that a forum for the Collective to talk about markets might be welcome. I think right after the market closes, or on a weekend evening, might be the best time for these get-togethers but please let me know how what everything thinks the best time might be.

February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on real returns

Where can I find a chart plotting real returns of interest rates Thanks in advance.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which is not easy to answer. The primary tools used by the market to monitor real returns on fixed income are heavily influenced by Fed actions.

For example, the Fed is buying large swathes of the inflation-protected securities market (TIPS). That’s supressing the yield.



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February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crisis Chronicles: Tulip Mania, 1633-37 The Plague and Tulip Mania

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

A number of factors contributed to the conditions that caused Tulip Mania. To start, the coin debasement crisis of the 1620s was followed by a period of prosperity in the 1630s. This prosperity coincided with an outbreak of the plague, which caused a labor shortage and increased real wages and surplus income. At the same time, there was a strong belief that social mobility was a Dutch birthright and that there was money to be made in every profession.

Prior to the 1630s, tulip bulbs were only physically traded among growers in the summer, when they could be safely pulled from the ground, in what evolved to be an informal spot market for individual commodities where cash and real assets traded hands. By the 1630s, the market for tulips began to grow as florists started buying and selling tulip bulbs still in the ground using promissory notes. The notes provided welcome credit and liquidity to help finance planting and limited credit risk to a known borrower with the borrower’s bulbs as collateral. However, the notes created a limited opportunity to inspect bulbs or to see them flower, provided no guarantee of quality, nor proof that the bulbs actually belonged to the seller, or even existed. Because delivery of the bulb was often months away, this financial innovation ultimately encouraged speculation as florists bought and sold promissory notes, which were in turn resold, creating a futures market. A legitimate need for financing real assets led to a financial market in which people with no stake in the actual underlying bulbs could participate. As Dash points out, it was “normal for florists to sell tulips they could not deliver, to buyers who did not have the cash to pay for them and who had no desire to plant them.” Such a financial market served the liquidity and credit needs of growers and florists, but it also led to highly leveraged speculation by those who could borrow to finance their investments with little of their own capital at stake. Promissory notes quickly transformed from a credit and liquidity mechanism to an instrument of speculation.

Beers Instead of Beurs Fuel the Market
Bulbs were traded not at the exchange buildings in Amsterdam, the beurs, but rather in local pubs where each trade was celebrated with a toast. The in het ootje method of trade required the seller to pay a commission independent of the seller’s acceptance or refusal of the bid (typically the equivalent of a round or two of drinks), which placed a premium on accepting a decent bid, further fueling the market.

The mania climaxed in January 1637, which marked the greatest influx of new florists. Many of these novices leveraged savings and mortgaged their goods or tools to take part in the bulb trade, just as we saw farmers turn to coin clipping during the Kipper und Wipperzeit. The absolute speculative peak is believed to be an auction on February 5, 1637, which raised 90,000 guilders. To put this in perspective, the wealthiest merchants of the day might’ve accumulated wealth of half a million guilders.

Eoin Treacy's view -

All true manias that see prices soar to multiples of what even the most bullish early investor thought reasonable require a number of factors.

A financial innovation unleashes the fuel necessary to support price increases. Tulip investors used futures contracts, in the 1920s trading on margin was popular and options helped revolutionise trading in the 1990s. Today bitcoin is the financial innovation, although no one is quite clear how it will used.



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February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on cryptocurrency charts

I hope that you and your family are well. Please could you set up a section in your favourites for the various crypto coin charts. thanks in advance

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this suggestion. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a feed for cryptocurrency prices. The only charts Bloomberg supply are the various bitcoin forks, Ethereum and Litecoin. The instruments we have can be found in the cryptocurrency/digital assets in the Funds section of the Chart Library.



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February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kraft Heinz, Conagra may raise some product prices as grains, edible oil costs surge

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

Conagra CEO Sean Connolly said the company, which makes Duncan Hines cake mixes and Marie Callender’s pulled pork mac and cheese bowls, will need to implement inflation-justified price increases this year so it can also continue to fuel sales growth through innovation.

Ingredient and packaging costs represent 60% to 65% of Conagra’s total cost basket, Finance Chief Dave Marberger said on the sidelines of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York virtual conference.

With people on lockdown cooking more at home – and still stockpiling in some parts of the world – prices for commodities like sugar, wheat and soy are surging, forcing food companies to absorb higher costs.

U.S. consumers on average paid 3.7% more for food consumed at home in January than they did a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. Year-over-year increases in food prices have topped 3.5% each month since last April, the longest such stretch in nearly a decade.

“We have inflation, we are seeing inflation, we are concerned about inflation. We have to mitigate that inflation, or at least part of it, with hedges and with efficiencies in the factories,” Kraft Heinz Chief Executive Miguel Patricio told Reuters in a recent interview. “Will we have price increases in food this year? Maybe in some categories that are very exposed to specific commodities.”

“Where we are seeing (inflation) is in grains and everything related to grains ... It’s across the board. Sugar has big inflation; mac & cheese because it has wheat; mayo because it has oil; salad dressing because it has oil; all sweet products like desserts,” Patricio said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Agriculture prices are rising for a confluence of reasons. Supply chains have been disrupted by weather, shipping issues resulting from the pandemic, swine flu (which is resurfacing again) and plagues of locusts. On the demand side, consumers have been panicking at these interruptions so they are buying on a precautionary basis. That is also being funded with higher savings rates and a safety-first mindset. That will be difficult to shift.

Precautionary buying for fear of higher prices in future, demands for higher wages to offset these kinds of pressures and the perception of easy money policies into infinity are fuelling the perception inflation is rising. With inflation perception is at least as important as reality because of its effect on behaviour.



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February 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Yields Surge to One-Year High as Reflation Bets Thrive

This article by Vivien Lou Chen, Stephen Spratt and Greg Ritchie for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

None of this is welcome news for those who bought into U.S. auctions last week. Investors snapped up a combined $68 billion of 10- and 30-year debt at yields more than 10 basis points lower than current levels. This week brings a $27 billion 20-year bond auction on Wednesday.

In the U.K., 30-year yields hit the highest level since March after the country hit a milestone in its vaccination program, supporting calls for easing of social restrictions. Germany’s benchmark yield climbed to levels last seen in June amid a significant slowdown in virus cases.

The selloff was broad, with even Italian bonds -- which would typically outperform haven assets such as German bunds when credit spreads tighten and stocks climb -- under pressure. The announcement of a new 10-year benchmark bond sale to take place via syndication saw yields also advance five basis points on Monday. Still, demand on Tuesday set a record of more than 110 billion euros ($133 billion).

Eoin Treacy's view -

Buying the dip has always worked in the bond market. The question for many fixed income investors is what will the catalyst be to stem the slide. The stock market has already priced in reflation. The stock market exceeded its 2019 highs months ago and the recovery in the social and industrial segment of the market continues.



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February 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Covid Slows Efforts to Ease California's Historic Port Logjam

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

Southern California ports are grappling with record ship backlogs because of Covid-19 protocols and sick
dockworkers, and the vessels keep coming.

Twenty-nine more ships are scheduled to arrive and anchor at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the next three days, according to data provided by Capt. Kip Louttit, director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California. A total of 48 vessels were anchored on Thursday, down from an all-time high of
60 on Jan. 28.

“Goods movement ashore to terminals is inefficient because of Covid protocols,” he said.
California’s biggest ports have become the epicenter of pandemic-driven shipping woes in the U.S. as homebound consumers swamp ports with an influx of goods ordered online from Asia.

Peloton Interactive Inc. said Thursday it’s unable to meet surging demand for its exercise machines because of shipping delays in Los Angeles and Long Beach, warning that profit will be squeezed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

 I was chatting with a friend on Friday night who is having difficulty importing containers. It’s not at all for the reason one might think. Getting goods on the ship in China is not an issue. Getting them off the ship in Los Angeles is an altogether different story.

The heavily unionized dock workers sector is not testing people for COVID-19. If one person gets sick, they quarantine the whole shift for two weeks on full pay. That is resulting in mass absenteeism which is creating huge delays in supplies reaching their destination.

It’s a symptom of the wider problem in California which is likely to result in governor Gavin Newsom being recalled. The state is managed for the good of the very wealthy and the union workers. Everyone else is ignored. The closing of schools, delays at the port, looking after government employees but making “essential workers” turn up is acceptable.

By all accounts dock workers will now be allowed to skip the queue and get vaccines in order to clear the backlog of ships within the next months.

Together with inclement weather, supply chain disruptions have the potential to put a dent in 1st quarter earnings for a large number of companies.



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February 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Blackouts Cascade Beyond Texas in Deepening Power Crisis

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

Blackouts triggered by frigid weather have spread to more than four million homes and businesses across the central U.S. and extended into Mexico in a deepening energy crisis that’s already crippled the Texas power grid.

After millions in Texas lost electricity, the operator of the grid spanning 14 states from North Dakota to Oklahoma ordered utilities to start rotating outages to protect the system from failing amid surging demand for electricity.

“In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event,” the Southwest Power Pool said in a statement Monday.

The brutal cold striking Texas -- the capital of the U.S. energy industry and home of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies -- is emblematic of a world facing more unpredictable weather due to the rising impact of climate change. The outages also underscore the growing vulnerability of the grid as the globe moves away from fossil fuels to an all-electrified system increasingly reliant on renewable energy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big argument about renewables has been always been cost and reliability. The cost argument has been removed from the discussion over the last couple of years. Economies of scale mean that many wind and solar projects are now viable without relying on subsidies. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any progress how to ensure base load when the turbines stop turning or the sun isn’t shining.

Temperatures significantly below zero (Celsius) freeze the turbines. That’s why there are rolling blackouts across Texas today and yesterday. They rely on wind to produce a significant proportion of electricity and were in no way prepared for the freezing weather to move this far south.

I arrived in Dallas yesterday evening. The car rental place was inundated and understaffed with about four inches of snow on the ground. The restaurants are not getting deliveries so most are closed. The super markets are all also closed. It’s a good thing the weather is expected to improve by the weekend or there will be a lot of hungry people as well as being cold.



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February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cyborg 2.0

Thanks to Bilal Khan for sending through his fund’s report focusing on Pakistan. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Pakistan is a frontier market. That means it is heavily influenced by investor flows. Any market is priced by the actions of the margin buyer. When international investors are repatriating capital it weighs heavily on the fortunes of frontier markets but the opposite is also true. Prolonged periods of inflows can boost frontier markets to significant positions of outperformance.

Valuations can be attractive for prolonged periods but it is when the currency moves in the favour of international investors that activity really starts to pick up. At that point perceptions of whether governance is improving and whether that is sustainable will influence how durable a recovery is.

 



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February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Chinese Banks and geopolitical risk

Always enjoy the service, Eoin and look forward to the daily updates. To better my understanding of reading charts, would you please walk me through the consistency pattern you see in the Commercial and Industrial Bank of China's chart that make its purchase, "shooting ducks in a barrel", as a very wise man would say. Thank you.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At The Chart Seminar we begin by trying to imagine ourselves as the judges at an international beauty contest. We are only interested in the most beautiful charts. Those that have either truly consistent trends or the potential to develop them. Now ask yourself what is beautiful above ICBC’s chart?

The share was listed in Hong Kong in 2006 and since then it has done nothing but range in a very volatile manner. That’s neither beautiful nor consistent, so we need to ask whether there is anything occurring that may change the outlook?



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February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Vestas reveals offshore turbine with world's largest sweep

This article by Paul Ridden for NewAtlas.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Each turbine is expected to deliver around 80 GWh of energy per year, depending on site-specific conditions, which is said to work out as being enough to power 20,000 European homes.

The V236-15.0 MW also offers the potential to reduce the number of turbines deployed at offshore windfarm level – with Vestas calculating that the "offshore turbine offers 65 percent higher annual energy production than the V173-9.5 MW, and for a 900-MW wind park it boosts production by five percent with 34 fewer turbines."

The company expects the first V236-15.0 MW prototype to be built in 2022, with serial production following two years later. It has a design lifetime of 25 years.

“With the V236-15.0 MW, we raise the bar in terms of technological innovation and industrialization in the wind energy industry, in favor of building scale," says Anders Nielsen, Vestas CTO. "By leveraging Vestas’ extensive proven technology, the new platform combines innovation with certainty to offer industry-leading performance while reaping the benefits of building on the supply chain of our entire product portfolio. The new offshore platform forms a solid foundation for future products and upgrades.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Boosting production and needing to build fewer towers suggests there should be cost savings in construction. The big change in renewable energy occurred in late 2019 when economies of scale improved enough that the wind and solar sectors could survive without subsidies. That has led to a complete reappraisal of the rationale for investing in the sector. More recently it has allowed the renewable energy sector focus on the subsidies provided to fossil fuel companies across the energy supply chain.



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February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 11th 2021

February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies:

Having reached a certain age, I confess to being a Bitcoin sceptic. I thought today's piece on Twitter by Nouriel Roubini just confirms my anxiety regarding digital currencies. He's no fan!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for highlighting this article which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, argues that no crypto can be at the same time scalable, safe and decentralised. Traditional financial systems are scalable and safe: if your credit card or bank account is hacked or stolen, you are made whole. But they are centralised because participants and assets are verified by trusted institutions. Right now, crypto is neither scalable nor safe. If your private key is stolen or lost, the assets are gone for good.

It isn’t even decentralised. Oligopolistic miners control most bitcoin mining. Many are out of reach of western law enforcement in places such as China, Russia and Belarus, creating a national security nightmare. About 99 per cent of bitcoin trading occurs on centralised exchanges, which may be hackable. Furthermore, the original programmers retain outsized control over their creations. In some cases they act as police, prosecutors and judges, and reverse transactions that are supposed to be immutable. Nor is crypto equitable: a small number of “whales” control much of bitcoin’s value.

This undermines claims that crypto will decentralise finance, provide banking services to the unbanked, or make the poor rich. Blockchain claims to enable cheap money transfers to refugees, but crypto is much more likely to provide cover for scam artists, conmen, tax evaders, criminals, terrorists and human traffickers.

There are a couple of points that one needs to consider with the above account. The first is that there are well understood limitations with bitcoin. It is decentralised, supply is limited and the speed of transactions is extremely slow. The need for forks every time a change is required makes it unwieldly. It stands to reason that if cryptocurrencies are eventually going to fulfil their promise it will be without bitcoin.



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February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Almost Daily Grant's

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of James Grant’s free eletter. Here is a section:

A similar trend is visible in the more speculative corner of the corporate bond market. Analysts from Barclays reported last week that average duration in high-yield debt has jumped to 6.7 years, compared to 6.1 years at the beginning of 2020.  Similarly, the effective yield on the ICE BofA US High Yield Index reached a record low 4.12% yesterday, down from 5.19% a year ago.  Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Friday that a voracious hunger for yield has left junk bond investors “calling up companies and pressing them to borrow, instead of waiting for bankers to bring new deals to them.” 

“It’s kind of wacky,” Jim Shepard, head of investment-grade bond issuance at Mizuho in New York, told the Financial Times yesterday. “At a time when you would want greater insurance against a rise in interest rates, [people] are buying something more exposed to it.” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is impossible for the US government to fund itself given the current trajectory of the deficit and the purchases currently being made by the Fed. That puts upward pressure on bond yields because the government will be more dependent on the market to soak up supply.



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February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lithium | 2021 supercharge?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Canaccord Genuity. Here is a section:

We estimate 2020 supply lifted 11% YoY to 340kt, noting lower capacity utilisation as largely a function of bottom-of-the-cycle pricing through 2020. We anticipate that a majority of the ~460kt of cumulative potential capacity that was delayed/deferred over the last ~18 months could remain suspended pending a recovery in pricing to higher levels. Recent consolidation among concentrate operations (i.e. Altura>Pilbara, Wodgina>Albemarle) now sees control of large scale, marginal cost production lies with a small number of established producers who, in our view, lack incentive to switch on large volumes of new supply.

We further note that long lead times to delivering new capacity means that the +US $4.4bn in new equity raised by lithium companies since the start of 2020 is unlikely to lead to a meaningful supply response until the mid-2020s, by which point we expect the market to move into deficit. Our revised market balance forecasts now call for more modest market surpluses (5-7% over 2021-23), with our higher rates of demand growth now expected to outpace supply growth out to 2025. Beyond 2025, we continue to forecast significant market deficits, noting a ~7x increase in supply (i.e. ~240ktpa average increase in capacity) is required to meet our 2030 demand forecast.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Supply Inelasticity Meets Rising Demand is the foundation of commodity bull markets. Lithium has been through one big boom and bust cycle already and perhaps the major producers have learned their lesson. The initial mining investment boom occurred almost a decade ago. That resulted in a lot of new supply hitting the market which depressed prices. It has taken significant growth in demand for electric vehicles to soak up that surfeit.



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February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Chart Library Performance Filter

In response to the new subscriber who voiced frustration, I offer these comments.

As a long-term subscriber (and investor for several decades) I have found Eoin's 'big picture' view very helpful and accurate over the years.

From my own study and experience, I have learned that one needs to have 2 factors in mind all the time:

1. What are the likely drivers of money flow into particular asset classes

2. Is that expectation actually being reflected in sector performance

The gains in our investments are determined much more by the sectors we choose than the individual shares. Some people say '90% performance depends on sector choice'. There's a lot of truth in that, and Eoin constantly points to the interesting sectors. So, I rank sectors each month. That is my primary focus. The chart library offers a great way to do that via the tab 'filter' / 'performance filter'. It's super-fast once we have set up a list of sector indices in our Favourites. I know no better way to do it and I can only be grateful to Eoin for the way he redesigned the chart library some years ago (and lot of effort and cost).

I then find the best performing shares in the top ranked sectors of interest and record their performance at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. If the numbers are increasing steadily across those time periods it identifies a strong trend. If the 1 month and 3-month performance is higher than 6 months and 12 months it identifies a possible breakout. I then check the steadiness of the chart patterns and the rate of gain (>30% annualised) before finally deciding whether to be interested.

Then I spread my investments across at least 4 of the best performing sectors, preferably as uncorrelated as possible,

That way I have beaten 99% of funds and most indices most years.

As Eoin states, private investors have a huge advantage over fund managers. We can increase cash - even to 100% at times - and avoid big falls in our portfolio value.

We have to be very analytical and unemotional. It feels hard to buy shares at the time that it's best to buy. I find that having a rule-based system has served me well. We all have to develop our own rules though, for three reasons.

First, we are all different, and someone else's investment style will not work for us.

Second, we will never have sufficient confidence in someone else's rules. Third, we will only learn and improve based on our mistakes if we develop our own methods.

I hope this helps new investors and new subscribers to Eoin's wonderful service.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this generous exposition of your method which will be of interest to the Collective. I created the Performance filter so it would easy to rank asset classes. For the much of the last few years investors have not been under pressure to actively manage their exposures. The strength of the Dollar and the technology sector have blown just about everything else away in terms of their performance. As the Dollar’s trend reverses, finding the best asset classes to be in, on an international basis will return to importance for investors.

Here is a video of how to create sections in your Favourites and how to use the Performance Filter.

In the video I created a list of asset classes which I believe is reasonably reflective of the global investment picture. If subscribers would like me to add additional asset classes that should not be a problem, provided we have them in the Chart Library.



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February 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on speedy market moves

Part of my frustration is that in this current market where momentum is so strong, one doesn't even have time to take aim before these stocks race to new highs on a seemingly daily basis. I think it was late January when you highlighted (I believe for the first time), the breakouts in the 3D printing stocks after many years of base formation. Well today XONE had nearby tripled since then and DDD was up some 60%. It's been the same with so many single stock names.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this feedback. I agree the markets are moving extremely quickly and that it is not something many people are accustomed to dealing with. The reality is that with zero interest rates and abundant credit sloshing around, investors are being forced to speculate. For seasoned individuals who are not accustomed to seeing a good year’s performance returned in a month this is a very unsettling time. Meanwhile neophytes are being attracted, as they always are, by the promise of outside returns with little to work, insight, research or experience. In a bubble market all you need to do is be there.  



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February 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on choosing what to write about

Prompted by a recent subscriber’s comment I would just like to mention that I have been a subscriber for many years and can happily say that I have always considered it money well spent. I read and listen to your market commentary most days and very much appreciate your calm insight and intuitive free thinking. I find your choice of topic and charts chosen on any particular day, to be more powerful for the very reason they are your choice of topic and charts chosen for that particular day. Please keep up the great work. Wishing you and your family the very best.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your generous feedback. David often described our role as that of behavioural naturalists. We try to observe the crowd by daring to stick our head above the melee to see whether there is an approaching precipice or a source of fresh fuel to rekindle animal spirits. As I monitor markets on a day-to-day basis, there are times I feel like a surfer on the wave of crowd psychology. From that perspective the biggest waves are found closer to shore.  



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on investable ideas

Firstly, thanks for the terrific service, it’s been so helpful in these turbulent times.  I was interested to read the subscriber feedback in today's comment. 

I agree with the comment that sometimes it’s quite hard to find investable ideas in some of the themes that you so accurately pick up on. 

For example, soft commodities/agricultural products, some direction as to likely beneficiaries would be really helpful.  I’m a UK based investor, so in general like to stick to our market or Europe and it has not been easy.  Perhaps Bayer?  ABF but the Primark exposure is confusing.  In the Eoin’s Favourite’s section of the chart library some of the categories do help, but there’s doesn’t seem to be one directly related to rising soft commodity prices other than farm machinery or fertilisers?

Lithium is another one where I am struggling to find the right investment, even though I looked at your collection of related companies.  As the price seems to have broken out of a long-term downtrend some suggestions as to likely beneficiaries would be really helpful, although understand that one must also do one’s own research.

With Bitcoin, which I’m not that keen to buy, but you highlighted the Greyscale Bitcoin Trust which although I’ve not invested in it was really helpful to have an idea related to the concept you were right about. 

Hope this feedback helps and thanks again.

And

I found the criticism yesterday, a bit harsh.  There are few sites that provide the breadth and depth that we get from FTM.  Here, in West Aust, I wake each morning to your market summary of the principal events.  I find it cost effective for that point alone.

The suggestion above regarding missed opportunities is one worth pursuing, not so much regarding the chartbook but for highlighting early chart indications of emerging opportunities.  I feel that perhaps FTM may report facts that are available elsewhere but the site is not fully exploiting your chart analysis skills that are not available elsewhere.  You should exploit your strengths and don't reproduce stuff that is, or soon will be, in the media. We all want to know where Eoin Treacy sees emerging or imminent changes. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for this feedback and your kind words. I am a firm believer in giving the people what they want. Afterall, why else would one subscribe. Let me address the challenges in the order they are outlined in the above emails.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Tesla-Bitcoin-Ark syndrome revisited

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Saxo Bank. Here is a section:

Before the news broke on Tesla and Bitcoin, we were planning a research note on Ark Invest holdings across their five actively managed ETFs. Our motivation was driven by the fact that Ark Invest recently pushed above $50bn in asset under management (AUM) and that some holdings in the Ark Disruptive Innovation ETF were getting quite concentrated. As a result, we have dived into the numbers and can now extend our note It is time to get cautious on the Tesla-Bitcoin-Ark connection back in January.

There are two main idiosyncratic risk sources around the Ark funds if we exclude the general market risk. The first one, is the percent ownership of outstanding shares in a specific company across holdings in its five actively managed ETFs. The list below shows the company where Ark Invest owns more than 10% of the outstanding. The sharp observer will quickly note a big overlap with the new generation of biotechnology companies, that we also recently wrote about, and given Ark Invest has grown AUM from around $3bn a year ago to over $50bn gives you an indication of how big a force the investment firm has been in the bull market in biotechnology stocks. But AUM flow can reverse and thus these concentrated positions can become a liquidity issue and big risk for these stocks and Ark Invest itself.

Eoin Treacy's view -

ARK’s ETFs are actively managed. That’s something new in the space. Most people think of an ETF as a tracker and paid a premium for active management either through mutual funds or hedge funds. ARK provides the active management part at a discount but the 0.75% expense ratio on the Innovation ETF (ARKK) is chunky when compared to other similar funds.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Marijuana Legalization Is Now in Sight. Here's How to Play It With Options

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

A trio of U.S. senators has given investors the green light to invest in marijuana stocks, an endorsement that suggests the volatile sector might finally blossom into something as acceptable and regulated as alcohol.

More details will emerge when Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Ron Wyden, (D., Ore.), and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) introduce legislation to legalize and tax marijuana.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” they announced Feb. 1 in a joint statement.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cannabis sector went through a painful rationalisation as early efforts to increase supply suppressed the margins. That led of a significant decline in 2018/19 for many of the more leveraged companies. With the Presidential election in the USA ushering in a new administration speculation began to ramp up that cannabis legalisation was back on the menu.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hong Kong Interesting Charts

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two parts to most markets at present. There are the strong trends which have been in evidence for years and continue to perform. The new IPOs and SPACs also fall into this category because many of these companies have seen their values trend higher for years before they sought listings.

The other category are the catch-up plays which are only now just breaking out of their respective bases.



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February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 8th 2021

February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Bets Big on Bitcoin, Plans to Accept Cryptocurrency

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

Tesla Inc. invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and signaled its intent to begin accepting the cryptocurrency as
a form of payment, sending prices to a new record after the vote of confidence from the electric-car market leader.

The Palo Alto, California-based manufacturer said in a filing Monday it made the bet on Bitcoin after updating its investment policy last month to allow the company to invest in digital assets as well as gold bullion and gold exchange-traded funds.

“We expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis,” Tesla said in the securities filing.

The leading electric-car maker’s embrace of Bitcoin lends increased legitimacy to electronic currencies, which have become more of a mainstream asset in recent years despite skepticism from some. The embrace of a digital currency fits the maverick image of Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who upended the automotive industry with battery-powered vehicles and disrupted the equities market with the stock’s ascension to the blue-chip S&P 500 index last year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

During the bitcoin bull market of 2017, Lamborghini began taking bitcoin as a form of payment. Sales jumped appreciably as young traders cashed in. The lure of a chance to own a marquee vehicle overcame the holdr mentality for a while. Very little was subsequently said about what Volkswagen did with the bitcoin. We can assume they were immediately turned into cash since there was no response from the share price.



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February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan's Topix Surges to Highest in 30 Years as SoftBank Gains

This article by Shoko Oda and Komaki Ito for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

With more than half of the results out in the latest reporting season, more than 68% of companies in the Topix have beaten expectations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Topix forward price-to-earnings ratio is now at 18 times, significantly higher than its five-year average of about 14 times.

Results from the current earnings cycle are pointing toward a major recovery next fiscal year, according to Frank Benzimra, Societe Generale’s head of Asia equity strategy. “Our thesis in Japan is that the market has been quite under-owned for some time, because there was not so much interest on earnings,” Benzimra told Bloomberg Television.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Veteran investors will remember about fifteen years ago there was an argument that Japanese equities would always trade at a higher P/E because of idiosyncrasies with the market. That proved incorrect and valuations have contracted considerably. The market is now a lot more attractive for international investors in search of earnings growth.



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February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold and fighting the Fed

Thursday's article, “Gold Plunges the most in Four Weeks…” is greatly appreciated.  Despite all the uncertainties and volatility of the past two months you report that you have retained your gold investments and are looking forward to “increase [your] position”.  You express even more confidence in silver.

The attached St Louis Fed Chart showing an accelerating measure of inflation provides good evidence to support your position, long term, but long-term charts, both weekly and monthly show gold is still over-extended. 

If “fighting The Fed” is to be avoided, a bullish gold position may be a courageous act when the world’s central banks will be united in their determination to frustrate gold investors.  There may have been some evidence of that last year.  Also, since silver prices are more easily manipulated, that market seems to be more vulnerable to a combined central bank manoeuvre?

Common sense says that the present world-wide, money creation will end in disaster.  In that situation, precious metals are a safe haven but, in the short term, and even the medium term, risks in those markets appear to be very high. A prudent plan to cover both outcomes seems desirable.  That plan should, perhaps, also incorporate different allocations to gold and silver. Further guidance by you would be invaluable.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email. Fighting the Fed would be holding a gold position in a positive real interest rate environment where one can easily anticipate a positive return from other asset classes. That is not at all what we have at present. We could be looking at a negative real yield for years to come as central banks attempt to loot savings to pay off massive unfunded debts.



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February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on chartbooks and highlighting opportunities

I am a new subscriber having followed David Fuller closely and subscribed to his weekly chart book for many years. You may cover this but I would find it really helpful if you could cover markets by region and comment on individual stocks showing attractive chart patterns in those regions...maybe each region/associated stocks to be covered once a month. For example, to my untrained eye Hong Kong is looking interesting. I miss so many opportunities in stocks that I do not follow on a regular basis by not seeing the charts in hard copy. Just a thought. Thanks

And

I have no wish to appear negative however, what exactly have I paid money for. It appears to me that, the majority of the menu items are either redundant (for about year now), or indeed have no content at all. Perhaps I could draw a parallel with another financial services advise provider, and the one that springs immediately to mind is Investors Chronicle. The content and level of professional presentation from them is first class. I am concerned that I have paid money for a product that is simply inadequate. I have no wish to knock the excellent uploads from Eoin, they are useful with regard the macro picture. It is really the absence of detail with everything else.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for this feedback. The chartbooks were long ago superseded by the Chart Library. We have 13,000 instruments and the first port of call for many investors in the Eoin’s Favourites section. That’s where you will find assets of potential interest broken down into lists. It is then very easy to scroll through charts by clicking on the View All It is true, I have been much more focused, of late, on macro themes because that is by the far the most important consideration at present. 

Nevertheless, I accept the charge that this site is not the easiest to navigate. That is why I started doing videos, posting items on repeatable schedules and tagging items. A full list of all tags can be found here. http://www.fullertreacymoney.com/investment-themes/ I also created this brief video to talk about how to find different items of interest in the site. 

I will also going forward pick a market at least one day a week and highlight interesting charts within it starting tomorrow.



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February 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review February 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on January 8th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “secular themes review”. 

Highlighting secular themes has been a hallmark of this service for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met David Fuller in Amsterdam in 2003. He was giving a talk to Bloomberg’s clients and we went out for dinner that evening. His way of looking at markets, with a focus on suspending ego to see what the market tapestry is telling us, answered all of the questions I had about how to interpret
markets. I felt honoured when he asked me to come work with him a few months later.

The easy way to find secular themes to is to look at long-term ranges. Prices can so sideways for a long time, sometimes decades, and the whole asset class can be forgotten by investors. These kinds of markets need a catalyst to reignite demand. Once that new theme gathers enough pace, prices break on the upside because the supply side is not capable to responding in a timely manner to the new phenomenon. Sometimes that’s because they don’t believe in the new trend, or it may be because they simply do not have the financial wherewithal to expand. As the power of the new catalyst gathers, it takes time for supply to respond and the market will proceed higher until there is a robust supply response. That can take a long time because demand continues to grow as the new theme increases its dominance of investor attention.



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video Commentary for February 4th 2021

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 firm with small caps leading, gold and precious metals weak, emerging markets steady, investors giving the benefit of the doubt to countries that are likely to come out of the pandemic quickest, bond yields continue to rise for these countries with Gilts breaking on the upside and the Dollar strengthening. 



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the impact of currencies on investment returns

I'm a new subscriber and am massively enjoying the content, in particular your video commentary, thank you. Perhaps it just hasn't been touched on in the last few weeks since I joined but I wanted to ask about your views on Sterling, from the point of view of a UK based investor. I used to be 50/50 allocated, GBP/USD. A few months after Brexit with cable close to 1.20 I figured it was potentially the opportunity of a lifetime to get longer Sterling (in particular given I'm UK based). I changed my balance to 80/20 in favour of Sterling. It took a few years for this to feel like the right decision, but I'm happy I did it. Given my reporting ccy is GBP I don't see a lot of that gain unless I dollarize my returns.

Specifically, I would appreciate your views on: 1. What is your outlook for cable heading into 2021? 2. Do you think that a large part of this trade is potentially continued dollar weakness (USD rarely doing well in risk-on mode)? 3. You mentioned in the 3Feb commentary that most central banks tend to fight appreciation of their own currency. Certainly, that is true for the ECB and the SNB. What about the BOE at present? 4. Given the bulk of my investments are NON-GBP (major US funds, Japan, China, Global) what strategy would you suggest for accessing these sectors if one wanted to keep a sterling bias?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions and I am delighted you are enjoying the service. Since you are a new subscriber you might not be aware, I do a long-term review of assets and themes on the first Friday of every month. My aim is to ensure there is a predictable timetable for when long-term investment themes are covered in the written commentary outside of the weekly Big Picture audios/videos.
Here is a link to the last one and the next one will be tomorrow.



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Reddit's Power to Push Stocks Down Is the Next Worry for Traders

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

“Put buying en masse would add to dealers’ short put positioning and could create much more severe structural leverage imbalance to the downside,” said Cem Karsan, founder of Aegea Capital Management LLC and a former options market maker.

Karsan, who has 24,000 Twitter followers, floated the scenario on The Derivative podcast last week.

The Squeeze
Once an obscure dynamic in the market plumbing, gamma squeezes are the talk of both Wall Street and the amateur crowd following the GameStop drama.

It goes like this. When an investor buys a call, the dealer who sold the contract will typically hedge by purchasing the underlying stock. The more the latter rises toward the option’s strike price, the more shares the market maker will theoretically have to buy. That can supercharge stock prices as shares rise and dealers buy more.

And the dynamic works in reverse, too.

Dealers who have sold puts will hedge themselves by selling the underlying shares. As the price drops toward the option’s strike, they will sell more and more.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mobs are emotional, extremely aggressive, thrive on contradiction but they are also fickle. They can look like the strongest army in the world until they lose cohesion. Then they fall apart and turn into the weakest. Mobs thrive as long as they are growing and the reason for that growth is still compelling. As soon as it ends, they dissolve quickly. As GameStop’s mob dissolves it might be some time for a crowd to coalesce around a new idea. There are plenty of candidates from biotech to silver to micro-caps and cryptocurrencies.



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Plunges the Most in Four Weeks With Dollar Extending Gains

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

“Looks like there’s some liquidation so far this morning,” said Tai Wong, head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. “The dollar is slowly grinding higher, 10-year Treasury yields are back up. Longs are very disappointed that gold never broke above key resistance at $1,860-70 even as silver soared.”

Bullion for immediate delivery fell 2.4% to $1,789.88 an ounce at 11:16 a.m. in New York. The metal dropped as much as 2.7%, the most since Jan. 8. Spot silver slid 2.7% while platinum and palladium also declined.

The wild ride in silver fueled partly by retail investors is abating for now. Last week, posts on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum initially called for a “short squeeze” of the metal, and that snowballed into a buying frenzy through exchange-traded funds and physical markets. But sentiment shifted after CME Group raised margins, causing prices to swiftly decline, and the volatility is being scrutinized by U.S. regulators.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The demand for gold from those who were buying as a hedge against calamity is abating and that has contributed to the correction which began in August and continues today. Gold dropped below the $1800 level and is now testing the low from back in December. A clear upward dynamic will be required to signal a return to demand dominance.



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February 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 3rd 2021

February 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the US Dollar

I am a not so new subscriber, I started in 2010. And your service is very valuable for me, so thank you! - Your commentary starts my day.

I understand that your view is that the dollar will depreciate over the coming years. Since I am based in the euro area, and have approx. 50% of my investments in USD, this is a topic that interest me very much.

I enclose a report from Nordea Bank, with a slightly different view. I would be very interested to know your take here.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for patronage over the last decade and for this well-argued report which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective. Here is a section:

It's one thing to say you will accept inflation overshooting, it's another thing to do it once inflation is decidedly overshooting - especially with global growth numbers booming at the same time. We therefore expect the market to be back in questioning the pace of the Fed's bond purchase program around summer at the latest (the consensus looks for the first tapering some time in H1, 2022 - too late in our view). A further sell-o in US fixed income, or steepening of US curves in relative terms, will at least reduce the downward pressure on the dollar from a double deficit perspective. It will also weigh on various "fair value" models for the EUR/USD.

The big question for a Dollar investor is whether the Fed is going to stick to its stated interest rate policy. They have said, in plain English, they are not going to taper and not going to raise rates until inflation takes off and not just in a transitory way.



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February 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Billionaire Pierre Lassonde on #SilverSqueeze, Gold Mining Business & Advice for Speculators

Thanks to a subscriber for this interview which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section from the transcript:

Pierre: Oh, look, as far as I’m concerned, the best, best deposit in the world that you can have or find today is a copper-gold deposit or a copper-gold-silver, or a copper-silver deposit, but something with copper. Because I really believe that copper is the metal of the future. In fact, our entire civilization rests on copper, on one metal, and it’s copper. Because without electricity, we have nothing. We have no transportation. We have like no communications. We have nothing. And with the emphasis on greening the world, we’re going to use more copper. So copper is absolutely the fundamental basis of our civilization and it’s going to get better. And with that in terms of fundamental money, I would say gold and silver is also part of the greening of the world. So these three metals are to my mind, the best place to be at this point in time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Copper has been used as a conductor and alloy component since the Bronze era. In the last decade it has also taken on the role of electricity generation and is impinging on oil’s dominance of transportation.



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February 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New China swine fever strains point to unlicensed vaccines

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

Yan said he believes that people have replicated the sequences of virus strains being studied, which have been published in scientific literature, and that pigs injected with illicit vaccines based on them could be infecting others.

“It’s definitely man-made; this is not a natural strain,” he said.

Neither Johnson nor Yan have fully sequenced the new swine fever strains. Beijing strictly controls who is allowed to work with the virus, which can only be handled in laboratories with high biosecurity designations.

But several private companies have developed test kits that can check for specific genes.

GM Biotech, based in China’s central Hunan province, said in an online post last week it had developed a test that identifies whether the pathogen is a virulent strain, a single-gene deleted attenuated strain, or a double-gene deleted attenuated strain.

The test helps pig producers because the new strains are “very difficult to detect at the initial stage of infection and have a longer incubation period after infection,” the company said.

The government has not said how widely used illicit vaccines are or who has produced them. But a “vast amount” of pigs in China have nonetheless been vaccinated, Johnson said, a sentiment echoed by many other experts.

In 2004-5, when the H5 bird flu strains were spreading across Asia, Chinese laboratories produced several unauthorised live bird flu vaccines, said Mo Salman, a professor of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University, who has worked on animal health in Asia, raising fears that they could produce dangerous new variants.

“The current ASF unlawful vaccine(s) in China is repeating history,” Salman said

Eoin Treacy's view -

Governance is Everything but that is particularly true for the healthcare sector. The challenge for all of us is that China has very little regulation of the pharmaceuticals industry. That’s true of both the human and animal sectors. It leaves open the potential for significant issues to arise in the food supply pipeline as untested remedies proliferate.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 2nd 2021

February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

India Spending Bonanza Powers Stocks as Valuations Take Backseat

This article by Subhadip Sircar and Kartik Goyal for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Stock-market sentiment has also been buoyed by the absence of new taxes on the wealthy and corporations in the budget. Traders expect the government’s growth push to boost corporate profits, which are already showing signs of a recovery. As the results season continues, 21 of the 29 NSE Nifty 50 firms that have reported earnings so far have beaten analyst estimates.

If the budget measures are executed properly, they have the potential to increase the share of corporate profits in GDP, and help bring about a new private investment cycle, recovery in domestic equity flows and earnings growth, analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The time to go big on fiscal spending is during a recession. It will mean the economy moves back into expansion mode quicker than might otherwise be case. Pushing out the ambition to contract the fiscal deficit by another few years was unavoidable and the stability of the Rupee suggests investors are reasonably comfortable with that idea.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Amazon May Fill Its Own Shopping Cart With Buybacks

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

Amazon.com Inc.’s equity performance has far exceeded the S&P 500 Index over the past five years, yet buybacks may be the best use of capital in the near term as financial flexibility grows and excess cash builds, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s Robert Schiffman. With consensus free cash of almost $42 billion in 2021 and $58 billion in 2022 -- the e-commerce giant’s share-repurchase authority has gone unused since 2016 -- cash could exceed $100 billion over the next two years. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after the close of trading Tuesday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Some of the largest tech companies like Alphabet and Amazon do not buy back many of their shares. That hasn’t impeded investor enthusiasm because they have been able to continue to deliver on growth and new product offerings.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. nuclear: delayed closures could add 26Mlbs to 2021-30 global uranium demand

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from BoA Securities. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The uranium sector has had a number of false dawns over the last decades. The reason for an inability to reach escape trajectory from the lengthy base formations was KazAtom’s policy of flooding the market and driving high-cost producers out of business.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Silver, GameStop Sink as Investor Frenzy Shows Signs of Cooling

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

Most-active silver futures declined as much as 5.5% to $27.81 an ounce on the Comex after the CME Group said margins will rise to $16,500 per contract from $14,000, effective Feb. 2. The decision was based on “the normal review of market volatility to ensure adequate collateral coverage," it said.

“Fundamentally I don’t believe that there are any significant short positions in the silver market, as the outlook for silver is robust this year, coming off a strong performance in 2020," Wendt said.

As the frenzy built, BlackRock Inc.’s iShares Silver Trust recorded an unprecedented $944 million net inflow on Friday, followed by another $551 million on Monday after a since-removed post appeared on the WallStreetBets forum that encouraged traders to pile into the exchange-traded product. That move now appears to be fizzling out, with some on Reddit urging their fellow investors to back away from silver.

“We suspect that prices will remain volatile," James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., said in a note before the margin increase was announced. “Beyond this week, and possibly sooner, we believe the new entrants into the market may tire and begin to liquidate silver holdings, with a commensurate price impact. Buyer beware!"

Eoin Treacy's view -

Raising margin requirements for futures trades always has an impact on prices. It’s the primary tool used by exchanges to ensure orderly markets and it has had a negative effect on silver today. That helps to confirm resistance in the region of the upper side of the range and suggests some additional consolidation is likely.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on why GameStop does not sell additional shares

I did not check, but I guess GME did not have a shelf registration which allows a swift sale of securities.

Last week, AMC and AA did use such registration to raise fresh equity. In addition, Silver Capital did convert its $600 MM convertible bond and racked a $100 MM profit: I do believe that they sold short the stock and covered it with the conversion of the CB: opportunistic, sensible and well done!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this insightful email.



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for February 1st 2021

February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Citadel Silver Holding Exposes Rifts in WallStreetBets Army

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

Ken Griffin’s Citadel has once again found itself at the center of a WallStreetBets drama, this time over the firm’s holdings of silver.

The precious metal has become a popular buying target for retail investors keen to inflict losses on hedge funds, after posts on WallStreetBets claimed the market was ripe for a short squeeze. Yet some members of the Reddit forum have responded with pleas to avoid the trade, saying Citadel stands to benefit as a major holder of the largest silver exchange-traded fund. “CITADEL IS THE 5TH LARGEST OWNER OF SLV,” one WallStreetBets user wrote on Sunday, referring to the iShares trust’s ticker symbol. “IT’S IMPERATIVE WE DO NOT ‘SQUEEZE’ IT.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The short-term pop in GameStop might have been driven by a band of retail investors and some sharp hedge fund players. The narrative has been a David and Goliath story where retail investors extract a measure of justice for the foreclosure crisis after the Global Financial Crisis. Meanwhile the narrative in silver is also a David and Goliath story, where retail and institutional investors face off against central banks and their inflationary policies. 



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DoubleLine Round Table 2021

Section 1 Global Macroeconomy: State of Play and Outlook Part 1 and Part 2

Section 2: Financial Markets Part 1 and Part 2

Section 3: Best Ideas

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I enjoyed this series of roundtables last year and this year did not disappoint. The points made are all relevant to the market environment as we see it today. Ther participants expressed a great deal of fear that we are dangerously close to a bubble peak. There is a lot of worry about valuations, social unrest and the effects on the credit worthiness of the corporate bond market, when the Fed is backstopping it.



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on GameStop supply and demand

Hello Eoin, First of all I want to congratulate you with your daily audio comment. A very interesting start of the day. But I have a question: In your audio you talked about the fact that ‘GME could perform a capital increase and sell a block of new shares to the HF managers that are short’. I personally think this is a great idea, it would deliver fresh easy capital to the company (a company which is not in excellent condition), give a chance to the shorters to buy a large amount of shares at the same price, and take the pressure off the market (this activity is putting the whole market under a lot of strain with the possibility of spillover effects to other markets). So why don’t they do this? I don’t understand but maybe there are some details that I’m missing?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and for this important question. The first answer is perhaps GameStop’s management really are flat-footed. That has certainly been the case for the last decade because they completely missed the move to ecommerce in the same way that Blockbuster missed the jump to streaming.

The second answer is perhaps they have just not had the time to get the details together. Let’s not forget, the short covering rally began less than two weeks ago.  With prices starting to come back down and the short interest percentage contracting the brief window for potential revenue raising may have passed already.



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Israeli vaccinations

I live in Israel and so can share with you what I am seeing on the ground. Israel's results would have been even better if we did not have two internal communities whose behaviour is the main cause of the high contamination rates. The ultra-orthodox Jewish minority (about 15% of the population) refuses to obey the rules of social distancing. The members of this community insist on gathering together to pray and to study the religious texts. They make up about 40% of the positive cases and deaths from Covid. The Arab citizens of Israel also resists the social distancing rules and they are the other cluster of positive cases and deaths. Many of them fear that the vaccine is an Israeli plot to weaken them. The rest of the Israeli population is obeying the rules and that is why the situation is very good. At the same time as the mass vaccination there is very strict lockdown. This will probably continue for some time until so many people have been vaccinated that there is a mass immunity. The Palestinians in the West Bank have, unfortunately once again chosen an unsuccessful strategy. Under the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for health. The PLA decided at the start of this crisis not to cooperate with Israel, but to rely on the UN for its vaccine. This is why the Arab population of the West bank is lagging behind on being vaccinated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this insight. There is a significant population of people in most countries who for varying reasons will not take a vaccine. In Israel it might be the Orthodox or Arab populations, but in the USA, there is a significant and highly vocal anti-vax community which conservatively reaches about 15% of the population.

Additionally, the black community has the been the subject of botched medical experiments in the past. Many people are leery of taking vaccines. That’s before we even begin to think about the online conspiracy theories that have been circulating over the last 12 months and have certainly affected sentiment. This article from NBC news highlights the fact that 70% of nursing home staff are refusing to get the shot. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nursing-homes-make-big-push-change-minds-workers-who-refused-n1254509

I think it is safe to say there will be a significant minority that refuse vaccination in most countries. As we process into the year, there will be more vaccines permissioned and production will ramp up. By December there will be a surfeit of doses. By June, anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one I suspect. The big question at this stage is whether the conscientious objectors to taking a vaccine will be allowed to travel, work or study without one.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu. An uncomfortably high percentage of people who develop severe symptoms, which require hospitalisation, experience a lengthy recovery. Aches and weakness are among the most common issues reported. However, risk remains concentrated in the ranks of the elderly and those who are already ill with chronic conditions.

It was obvious as early as August that a massive public information campaign would be required to ensure a successful inoculation program. That didn’t happen so there is a clear risk of difficulty in reaching the herd immunity threshold. Forcing vaccination is a serious infringement of civil liberties but it is actively being considered.

My own view is anyone who habitually gets the flu vaccine, will have little issue with getting the COVID vaccine. Meanwhile, the trial of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 in the UK might prove to be the bridge between the anti-vaccination movement and the desire to reach herd immunity as quickly as possible.



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January 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Speculative Frenzy Spills Into Crypto as Bitcoin Tops $38,000

This article by Yakob Peterseil and Joanna Ossinger for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Musk’s page on Twitter simply said #bitcoin with no further explanation, but speculation that the world’s richest man might be a Bitcoin investor was enough to set off the dramatic rally.

Prices spiked in a matter of minutes, for the biggest intraday move in almost a year.

“This huge melt-up is due to Elon’s tweet,” said Antoni Trenchev, managing partner and co-founder of Nexo in London, which bills itself as the world’s biggest crypto lender. Musk’s
support for Bitcoin “creates a safe zone for some of the smaller companies and possibly everyone in the S&P 500 to allocate into Bitcoin,” he said.

Musk also tweeted an image of a “Dogue” magazine cover featuring a whippet in a red sweater -- a play on the fashion magazine “Vogue.” He also sent posts calling Cyberpunk a great video game and said, “In retrospect, it was inevitable.”

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, briefly suspended withdrawals on Friday to address a large increase in requests. Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao said that user sign-ups and trades jumped to a record high. “We almost ran out of DOGE coin addresses,” Zhao told Bloomberg. “Our system couldn’t generate new addresses fast enough to match new users coming in. It’s crazy.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The kind of activity that has been witnessed in GameStop this week is considered normal in the completely unregulated cryptocurrency markets. Since there is no hard fundamental to base value on, the market is dependent on momentum to stoke bull markets. When an anarko-capitalist idol like Elon Musk tweets, it tends to get a lot of attention.



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