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June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 26th 2019

June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google's Quantum Processor May Achieve Quantum Supremacy in Months

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Interesting Engineering. Here is a section:

After the list goes above 6, the numbers start becoming so large and abstracted you lose the sense of the gulf between where Google is and where it will be at the next step.

In the case of Moore's Law, it started out in the 1970s as doubling every year, before being revised up to about every two years. According to Neven, Google is exponentially increasing the power of its processors on a monthly to semi-monthly basis. If December 2018 is the 1 on this list, when Neven first began his calculations, then we are already between 5 and 7.

In December 2019, only six months from now, the power of Google's quantum computing processor might be anywhere from 24096 times to 28192 times as powerful as it was at the start of the year. According to Neven's telling, by February--only three months after they began their tests, so 3 on our list--, there were no longer any classical computers in the building that could recreate the results of Google's quantum computer's calculations, which a laptop had been doing just two months earlier.

Neven said that as a result, Google is preparing to reach quantum supremacy--the point where quantum computers start to outperform supercomputers simulating quantum algorithms--in a only a matter of months, not years: “We often say we think we will achieve it in 2019. The writing is on the wall.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Double exponential growth takes the doubling we have been accustomed to and turns it into powers. Therefore, instead of 2, 4, 8, 16 improvements we get 4, 16, 256, 65,536. With that kind of growth rate, the pace of innovation becomes so rapid that new chips become instantly obsolete. It makes a nonsense of ever owning a quantum computer and means provision of cloud services will likely be the primary way in which this kind of computing power is accessed. IBM has already been trialling that kind of access with its Watson artificial intelligence and nascent quantum service.



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June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin's Big Bet on Gold Is Paying Off Nicely

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

The U.S. dollar’s dominance as a global reserve currency is commonly thought to result from the dearth of safe assets. Russia, however, recently has provided an example of how a sizable economy with the world’s fifth biggest international reserves can minimize dollar assets ad still do well. So far, it doesn’t have many followers, but gold buying by central banks is going up.

Since being hit by sanctions for its aggression against Ukraine in 2014, Russia has had good reasons to rethink the composition of its international reserve. While the European Union hasn’t toughened its sanctions for almost five years, the U.S. has been doing it all the time. The Kremlin and the Bank of Russia consider the risk of further restrictions unpredictable and dependent more on U.S. domestic politics than on anything Russia does. In the 12 months since the end of September 2017, the central bank has more than halved the dollar’s share in its international assets and sharply increased the shares of the euro and the renminbi.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Net central bank accumulation of gold is as much about sourcing a hedge against geopolitical trouble as it is a response to the clear threat to the Dollar from the adoption of Modern Monetary Theory by the US government.

Central banks buying dipped in 2017 but started to trend higher in 2018 and hit new decade highs this year. That represents a potent source of demand which is helping to support prices.



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June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

So Close Yet So Far Apart: Inside the Italy-EU Budget Tussle

This article by Marco Bertacche and Lorenzo Totaro may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

For 2019, the EU could grant Italy flexibility available for unexpected events like last summer’s bridge collapse in Genoa. That would bring the adjustment required down to 0.42% of GDP.

Italy meanwhile says that a series of one-time revenues plus lower-than-expected spending for the populists’ flagship programs are worth about 5.3 billion euros. That’s enough to improve the structural deficit by 0.1 percentage point, the Treasury says -- the commission is forecasting a deterioration of 0.2 points.

If Italy’s numbers are right, then the two sides are just 0.3% of GDP or about 5 billion euros apart. That in itself might be close enough for the commission to give Rome a pass again.

But that may be overshadowed by the prospect of another battle when discussions on the 2020 budget start in September.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Fiscal austerity is the price the Eurozone’s creditors demanded for extraordinary monetary policy. However, it presupposes that the near 20-year process of debt to GDP alignment it represents, will be swallowed by populations faced with a generation of declining living standards and subpar growth. The rise of populism is a message people are unwilling to take that kind of hit to their personal wellbeing particularly when it falls disproportionately on the most heavily indebted and in need of support.



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June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2019: The 50th year of The Chart Seminar

Eoin Treacy's view -

There will be a memorial concert for David at the Royal Festival Hall on October 5th. It looks like we will have a room at the Royal Festival Hall for an hour before the concert for a memorial. Wine and canapes will be served. Afterward we will retire to the Benefactor's Lounge where Tim Walker, Chairman of the LPO will dedicate the concert in David's memory. The concert will be from 7:30 to 10pm. If anyone would like to attend the concert in addition to the memorial there will be a box to tick on the booking form which I will provide as soon as I have it.   

Since this is the 50th year of The Chart Seminar we will be conducting the event on October 3rd and 4th to coincide with the memorial on the Saturday.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, would like to attend, or have a suggestion for another venue please feel to reach out to Sarah at sarah@fullertreacymoney.com.  

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



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June 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Lowers Long-Run U.S. Rate Outlook as Growth Outlook Dims

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

“This is really important,” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, who expects a rate cut in July. “For many years, the Fed has been arguing that monetary policy was easy and accommodative and supporting growth and inflation. After a decade of easy monetary policy, the Fed has decided that policy is no longer stimulative.”

Reasons listed for the lower neutral rate include ongoing fallout from the financial crisis, weaker productivity, continued slackness in the labor market and an aging population, which when combined leave the economy structurally weaker and so more vulnerable to rate hikes.

The upshot is the Fed may have to lower rates if it wants to boost expansion to offset global headwinds, including slow global growth and trade disruptions from President Donald Trump’s tariff battles.

Powell will give his view of policy in a speech on Tuesday to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trend of the Fed Funds Rate is downwards. There is a clear succession of lower major rally highs since the early 1980s and the failure of the Treasury yield to hold the move above 3% late last year suggests another lower high is now in place. If we accept the conclusion the peak of the interest cycle has now passed the next big question is just how low can rates go?



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June 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Swiss Spat With EU Prompts London Curbs on Country's Shares

This article by Alexander Weber, Silla Brush and Viren Vaghela for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The political agreement at the heart of the issue -- which seeks to replace treaties on everything from agriculture to immigration and civil aviation -- was finalized in November last year. It hasn’t been endorsed by the Swiss government because it’s unpopular at home, in part because of fears it’ll erode high local wages.

Earlier this month, while saying it was still “broadly positive,” Switzerland asked for some clarifications.” That was seen in Brussels as an attempt by the country to renegotiate the accord, which the EU has ruled out.

The commission has also complained about “foot-dragging” by the government in Bern, and unless the commission decides otherwise, regulatory equivalence of the Swiss stock exchange will expire at the end of the week.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The UK is not the only country which has had difficulty getting a deal negotiated with the EU approved at home. The interesting point about this process, from an outsider’s perspective, is the similarity in the EU’s response to both Switzerland and the UK. The refusal to reopen negotiations, the threat of disavowing regulatory equivalence and imposition of deadlines are being used as tactics in both sets of negotiations.



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June 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Dark Alley in China's Credit Market Suddenly Getting Rough

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

For firms that obtained funding via unorthodox methods, conditions may become particularly challenging. One of those practices is known as structured issuance, where a company will transfer cash to an asset manager to buy a slice of the bonds the company is itself selling. The manoeuvre helps give the appearance of greater demand for its securities and stronger ability to obtain funding. What could make the practice untenable is if asset managers can no longer use those securities held in custody as collateral for repos.

“Since some repo transactions have defaulted recently, it is unclear whether companies can continue to borrow money from the structured issuance method, said Meng Xiangjuan, chief fixed-income analyst at SWS Research Co. in Shanghai. “If it stops, some issuers will certainly face difficulties operating their business normally, and their debt-repayment pressure will rise,” she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The main headline today was the fact some Chinese banks have been breaking the sanction prohibitions on North Korea. However, the fact it is possible for companies to partially fund their own bond issuance by promising to buy it themselves with the funds received is garnering a lot less interest.



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June 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Don't tell me WHAT to buy, tell me WHEN to buy

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Jeffrey Saut. Here is a section:

Well, as stated on June 3rd, we said a bottom was formed with the SPX at ~2729 and that the SPX was going to trade to new all-time highs.  Three sessions later, with the SPX at 2852, we wrote the stock market was probably going to stall into mid/late-June, but that new all-time highs were still coming.  The stock market did indeed stall, but only for about 5 sessions followed by a breakout to new all-time highs.  Indeed, “Don’t tell me what to buy, tell me when to buy!”

Meanwhile, some Wall Street pundits suggest the SPX has already tagged their year end price target, stocks are expensive, and a recession is on the horizon.  They obviously are NOT listening to the message of the market that is predicting no recession.  Speaking to their other points, while earnings estimates for the S&P 500 have come down from roughly $173 to $168 for 2019, and $188 for 2020, stocks are not all that expensive on forward earnings.  If those estimates are correct, it implies the SPX is trading at 17.5x this year’s estimate, which granted is a tad on the expensive side, but only at 15.7x earnings for next year.  However, our models tell us under the current interest rate environment the right price earnings multiple (PE) should be 19.  Therefore, 19x this year’s estimate yields a price target of 3192 for the SPX.  If 2020’s estimate is anywhere near the mark, the SPX’s price target becomes 3572 (19 X $188 = 3572).  To wit, the average PE multiple at the end of just about every bull market is 18.89x earnings (Chart 1).  As a sidebar, the SPX’s PE ratio at the end of the late-1990’s bull market was over 30.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I was in UPS on Saturday returning something to Amazon and I asked the guys working in the store how business was. They said it was busier than normal for the time of year. That’s what I see in Mrs. Treacy Amazon business too. If that’s the case where is the evidence of the recession?



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June 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future of Hydrogen

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

The time is right to tap into hydrogen’s potential to play a key role in a clean, secure and affordable energy future. At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its future development. The report finds that clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. The pragmatic and actionable recommendations to governments and industry that are provided will make it possible to take full advantage of this increasing momentum.

Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges. It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors – including long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel – where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security. Despite very ambitious international climate goals, global energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2018. Outdoor air pollution also remains a pressing problem, with around 3 million people dying prematurely each year.

Hydrogen is versatile. Technologies already available today enable hydrogen to produce, store, move and use energy in different ways. A wide variety of fuels are able to produce hydrogen, including renewables, nuclear, natural gas, coal and oil. It can be transported as a gas by pipelines or in liquid form by ships, much like liquefied natural gas (LNG). It can be transformed into electricity and methane to power homes and feed industry, and into fuels for cars, trucks, ships and planes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The dramatic decline in natural gas prices and the abundant quantities being produced and in reserve mean that it is inevitable that new sources of demand will appear to take advantage. Since natural gas is one of the primary sources of hydrogen, it makes sense to promote fuel cell vehicles or range extenders for electric vehicles. How long it will take for this evolution to have an effect on the market is questionable, but it will probably be the catalytic event necessary to boost prices out of the long-term base. 



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June 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Surpasses $11,000 as Memories of Popped Bubble Fade

This article by Eric Lam, Vildana Hajric and Joanna Ossinger for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bitcoin traded above $11,000 for the first time in 15 months, recouping more than half of the parabolic

increase that captured the attention of mainstream investors before the cryptocurrency bubble burst last year.

“The bounce-back of Bitcoin has been fairly extraordinary,” said George McDonaugh, chief executive and co-founder of London-based blockchain and cryptocurrency investment firm KR1 Plc. “Money didn’t leave the asset behind, it just sat on the sidelines waiting to get back in.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

When I got on the plane yesterday Bitcoin was trading at around $10,000. When I landed in London it was at $11,000. That’s a big move even for bitcoin. So, what’s going on?



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June 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Whipsawed as Quadruple Witching Spurs Bursts of Volume

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

One scenario on how Friday’s event may have boosted share prices was laid out by Charlie McElligott, a cross-asset strategist at Nomura. In a note earlier this week, he attributed buying to traders who sold bullish options on the S&P 500 at strike prices of 2,950.

The muddling effect from quadruple witching may not be over this week, according to McElligott. As the market loses the buying “impulse” from options traders, stocks may fall next week, prompting a narrative that investors are starting to doubt the Fed and setting the stage for the S&P 500 to rally to 3,000, he said.

“The market then risks ‘mis-reads’ this potential flow-centric weakness in equities next week as some sort of ‘fading the Fed’—when in fact it’s almost entirely mechanical in nature,” McElligott wrote. “This type of head-fake could in fact see more shorts added and sentiment purge, which then perversely is the fodder for a melt-up.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Quadruple witching is usually a storm in a teacup and seldom corresponds with major tops or bottoms. The one thing we do know is when a market makes a new high after a period of ranging, the headline level puts shorts on notice. 



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June 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Maldives Holidays and SUVs Are Badges of Shame Now: Chris Bryant

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

The windshields of large cars parked in my Berlin neighborhood were plastered this week with angry
messages on lurid orange stickers. The owners were told that: “Driving an SUV causes serious climate damage,” “SUVs harm your unborn child,” and “Driving an SUV causes impotence.” That last one may have been a joke.

Sports utility vehicles have long been hated by the more civic-minded among us. They tend to consume more fuel, spew out more pollution and take up more parking space. It’s been suggested that their size and weight are also partly to blame for the rising number of pedestrian road deaths.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Angela Merkel has been Germany’s Chancellor for longer than anyone before her and her chosen successor has been deemed no longer fit for purpose. That leaves the competition to replace her wide open and it is increasingly likely that the next government will be heavily dominated by the Green Party. This will represent the latest iteration of the populist wave which in this case will see leftwing populists gain sway over a major economy.



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June 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Solar Cycle Science

The subject of solar minimums is starting to arise once more in popular media and this site, from a former NASA scientist, contains all of the relevant information. Here is a section:

In the 1800s astronomers realized that the appearance of sunspots was cyclic, with a period averaging about 11 years. As new features of the Sun (solar flares, filaments, prominences, coronal loops and coronal mass ejections) were discovered, it was found that they too varied along with the frequency of sunspots. The sunspot number is now commonly accepted as a measure of solar activity. Solar activity itself has been linked to satellite failures, electrical power outages, and variations in Earth’s climate. The impact of solar activity on Earth and our technology has created a need for a better understanding of, and the ability to predict, solar activity.

Sunspot activity over the last four hundred years has shown that the amplitude of the sunspot cycle varies from one cycle to the next. The average cycle has a peak sunspot number of about 150. At times, as in the period known as the Maunder Minimum between 1645 and 1715, solar activity can become so weak that it seems to disappear for several decades at a time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Maunder Minimum persisted for about 50 years between 1650 and 1700 but rigorous recording of sunspot activity did not really start until 1750. I see a lot of misreporting of data by lobby groups arguing both for and against anthropomorphic climate change with each bending the data to fit their own narrative. I did some cycle analysis of solar cycles a decade ago predicted the lower high of the current cycle so I thought would refresh that now.



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June 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 20th 2019

June 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Achieves Liftoff as Prices Rocket Toward $1,400 an Ounce

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

Investors are pouring money into gold-backed ETFs again, following four months of outflows. Holdings tracked by Bloomberg have already seen the biggest monthly increase since January.

Bullion producers are also catching an uplift. The $10 billion VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF, which tracks shares of gold mining companies, jumped to the highest in more than a year on Thursday. And a separate gauge of senior gold producers including Yamana Gold Inc. and Barrick Gold Corp. rallied to the highest since November 2016.

Central Bank Buying
In another bullish signal for gold, central banks are continuing to buy the metal as countries diversify their assets away from the U.S. dollar. China increased its reserves for a sixth straight month in May.

Other countries have also been buying -- first-quarter purchases were the highest in six years, with Russia and China the largest buyers, according to the World Gold Council.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The money flowing into gold ETFs is positive but it is nothing compared to the volume that flowed into the asset class during the gold bull market. What is positive, however, is the trend has continued higher since the initial surge in 2016 which suggests net investor demand has remained in place despite the range which has persisted for the last few years.



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June 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Currency war is the next phase of global conflict and Europe, the chief parasite, is defenceless

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

The deflationary cancer is now so deeply lodged in the eurozone that it would take helicopter money or People's QE -- monetary financing of public works -- to fight off any future global slump. Such action would violate the Lisbon Treaty and would test to destruction Germany's political acquiescence in the euro project.

In truth QE in Europe has always worked chiefly through devaluation. The euro's trade-weighted index fell 14 percent a year after Mr. Draghi first signalled in 2014 that bond purchases were coming. That was powerful stimulus. When the euro climbed back up the eurozone economy stalled.

It takes permanent suppression of the exchange rate to keep euroland going. As the Japanese have discovered, it is very hard for an economy with near zero inflation and a structural trade surplus to stop its exchange rate from rising unless it resorts to overt currency warfare. That is exactly what Mr. Trump is not going to allow.

Every avenue of monetary stimulus is cut off in the eurozone. Only fiscal stimulus a l'outrance -- 2 or 3 percent of GDP -- will be enough to weather a serious crisis. That too is blocked.

“The ECB has masked the fragility over the last seven years and nobody knows when the hour of truth will come,” said Jean Pisani-Ferry, economic adviser to France's Emmanuel Macron and a fellow at the Bruegel think tank.

“There is no common deposit scheme for banks. Cross-border investments are retreating. The vicious circle between banks and states could come return any moment,” he said.

Mario Draghi's rhetorical coup in July 2012 worked only because he secured a partial approval from Germany for the ECB to act as lender-of-last resort for Italy's debt (under strict conditions). That immediately halted an artificial crisis. The situation today is entirely different. The threat is a deflationary slump. The ECB has no answer to this.

Markets thought they heard a replay of "whatever it takes" in Mr. Draghi's speech and hit the buy button. But economists heard another note in Sintra: a plaintive appeal for EMU fiscal union before it is too late.

The exhausted monetary warrior was telling us that the ECB cannot alone save the European project a second time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is arguable how much the USA needs an interest rate cut with full employment, compressed bond yields and a consumer which is in rude health. Low yields are spurring a mortgage refinancing binge and the decline in oil prices is also putting money in people’s pockets.



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June 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Thucydides Trap and gold

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

His main focus is to outline where the US and China are with respect to realpolitik, or practical considerations, and how to avoid war. The signs are not good.

Writing in The Atlantic, Allison states that “Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment.” That was written in 2015, before the trade war started, so the case for war is even stronger now.

According to Allison, events that could make two nations fall into the trap may be small, “business as usual” conflicts that, if they occurred in a different dynamic, would lead to nothing. For example, the assassination of archduke Ferdinand, a relatively obscure and minor figure, was the spark that lit a whole conflagration of events that plunged Germany, an ascendant maritime power, into war with Britain, whose Royal Navy ruled the seas for decades. Consider the current conflicts between the Chinese and US navies in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. It would not take much - say a collision between two warships - to ignite the powder keg of war.

However, for the threat to be taken seriously, the rising power must have the capability to take on the incumbent power. Henry Kissinger, the US former secretary of state, wrote that “once Germany achieved naval supremacy … this in itself - regardless of German intentions - would be an objective threat to Britain, and incompatible with the existence of the British Empire.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Technological innovation is a doubled edged sword. It opens up new markets and provides greater efficiencies. It helps to boost economic growth but it also displaces military technology and upsets the status quo. That allows new entrants a chance to gain comparative advantage.



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June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 19th 2019

June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Scraps `Patient' Rate Approach in Prelude to Potential Cut

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

While inflation near the goal and a strong labor market are the most likely outcomes, “uncertainties about this outlook have increased,’’ the Federal Open Market Committee said in the statement following a two-day meeting in Washington. “In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”

The FOMC vote was not unanimous, with St. Louis Fed President James Bullard dissenting in favor of a quarter-point rate cut. His vote marked the first dissent of Powell’s tenure as chairman.

Policy makers were starkly divided on the path for policy. Eight of 17 pencilled in a reduction by the end of the year as another eight saw no change and one forecast a hike, according to updated quarterly forecasts.

In the statement, officials downgraded their assessment of economic activity to a “moderate” rate from “solid” at their last gathering.

The pivot toward easier monetary policy shows the Fed swinging closer to the view of most investors that President Donald Trump’s trade war is slowing the economy’s momentum and that rates are too restrictive given sluggish inflation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This statement tees up a rate cut in July. That is what the bond market has been pricing in and it got confirmation of that assumption today. Investor focus will now turn to the expectation that another cut will follow in September.



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June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch June 18th 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting report for PPHB. Here Is a section on the commodity/S&P500 ratio:

When we contemplate the market’s assessment of commodities versus stocks, we find the former, which includes oil and gas, to be at the lowest valuation point in at least 50 years.  Does this mean that the commodity market it being disrupted?  Peak valuation points occurred in 1973-74, 1990 and 2008.  Each peak was associated with spikes in oil prices caused by geopolitical events such as the Arab Oil Embargo, the First Gulf War and the Global Financial Crisis, which happened as oil prices traded in excess of $100 per barrel.  Likewise, each low has been associated with low oil prices – either absolute lows, or lows below more recent oil price ranges.  

With respect to the low points in the valuation of commodities versus stocks, the prior two lows were marked by excess stock market speculation about super-growth stock future earnings.  The 1998-99  Dot.com Bubble, which saw companies brought public with barely any revenues and no earnings, but lots of “eyeballs” on web sites or clicks on shopping sites, happened to also be associated with oil prices falling to $11 per barrel as the Asian currency crisis unfolded and a brief global recession occurred.  The 1970-73 low was marked by the market bubble created by the Nifty-Fifty growth stocks, as price-to-earnings ratios for these 50 super-growth companies soared to ratios in excess of 50 times next year estimates for earnings per share.  Of course, two energy service companies – Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB-NYSE) and Halliburton Companies, Inc. (HAL-NYSE) – were part of this Nifty-Fifty stock group.  Crude oil prices at that point were in the $3 per barrel range, and there was a battle brewing between the seven largest global oil companies that ruled the international oil business and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over the value of a barrel of oil for tax and royalty calculations.  That tax battle lit the fuse that exploded after the Yom Kippur War involving Israel and Egypt in 1973, leading to the Arab Oil Embargo and the explosion in global oil prices.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

This ratio has been doing the rounds of pundit commentary for the last couple of years because commodities are trading at a such a record low level relative to stocks. Jeff Gundlach in particular has been predicting a resurgence in commodity prices because of their relative discount to stocks and one of the reasons private equity has been so interested in the energy space is because of the relative discount to equities on offer, coupled with the prolific production profiles (and early payback) of unconventional wells.



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June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold in other currencies and stock market/commodity ratios:

I am enjoying the commentary as usual. 

I had two questions for which I would be grateful for your opinion:

I don't understand why gold should be priced differently in different currencies. One would have thought that the market would arbitrage out the differences. 

The second one is more general and applies to looking at long term trends such as that for oil versus the stock market. Could it not be argued that technology changes such as the advent of green energy or electric cars or indeed new modes of producing oil (fracking, oil sands etc) render these charts ineffective as predictors of future price action?

I thank you and look forward to hearing from you in due course. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which I’m sure will be of interest to other subscribers. Gold is a commodity and subject to supply and demand fundamentals just like everything else but it is also a monetary metal. That means it tends to trade more like a currency than a commodity.



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June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Inflation Returns to BOE Target on Air Fares, Car Prices

This article by Jill Ward and Andrew Atkinson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The figures come a day before the BOE’s latest policy decision. As many central banks around the world shift into a more dovish mode, U.K. officials have been trying to push in the other direction, repeating a message that interest rates may have to rise more than the market currently anticipates if there’s a smooth Brexit.

Investors haven’t taken much heed given the continuing uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union. Certainly in the short term, the latest inflation figures give policy makers breathing space to wait and keep interest rates on hold.

The BOE expects inflation to fall back below target this year. In May, it forecast that price growth would average 2.1% this quarter, easing to about 1.6% by late 2019.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Bank of England is protective of its independence, especially amid the continued contentious discussion about the merits or otherwise of Brexit. Nevertheless, with central banks all over the world signalling a willingness to cut rates, it seems foolhardy of the Bank of England to continue to signal its willingness to raise rates.



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June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Rate Cut Is Weapon of Choice as Draghi Threatens Action

This article by Paul Gordon and Piotr Skolimowski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

ECB President Mario Draghi appeared to set a low bar for action on Tuesday when he said additional stimulus will be needed “in the absence of any improvement” to the outlook for growth and inflation. He specifically cited rate reductions as an option, sending the euro lower and prompting money markets to price in a 10 basis-point cut by December.

Investors subsequently brought forward their expectations to September after Bloomberg’s report. Commerzbank now predicts such a policy step in July.

“Draghi is going to finish his tenure with a cut,” said Claus Vistesen, chief euro-zone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “The door is now open and I don’t see how they can not walk through it.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a first principles question that governments have no appetite to grasp. “How do you recover from a debt bust?” We know what the answers are. You default, recapitalise and try not to make the same mistake again. The problem in Europe is the creditors are Northern European pension funds and the debtors were peripheral banks, who have had much of their debt absorbed by their respective governments. The prospect of debt forgiveness, therefore, has massive issues of moral hazard and was untenable politically, even though it remains necessary if the debt mountains are to be dealt with and growth prospects renewed.



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June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Are Valuations Irrelevant?

This presentation by Rob Arnott for Research Affiliates may be of interest to subscribers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

This is a robust defense of Shiller P/E which, at 30, is at it second highest peak in history; surmounted only by the Tech Bubble. Let’s for a moment consider that it would be unwise to expect the best performers of the last decade to be the best performers of the next decade. After all, it only makes sense when we consider the base effect. It is obviously more difficult to double from a market cap of $1 trillion than from $1 billion.



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June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Visa, Mastercard, PayPal Join Facebook to Form Crypto Effort

This article by Julie Verhage, Jenny Surane and Kurt Wagner for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The currency, called Libra, will launch as soon as next year. It’s what’s known as a stablecoin, one that can avoid massive fluctuations in value so it can be used for everyday transactions. Industry experts and insiders say the payments companies want a seat at the table to help shape the new currency.

“It’s not unusual for the incumbents -- Visa, Mastercard, PayPal -- to partner with a disruptor,” Harshita Rawat, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in an interview. “They would at least want to participate in how this product is being developed.”

New payment methods such as Apple Pay and other mobile wallets are often slow to take off, so any competition is likely to be years away. Still, the earlier payments companies come to the project, the more time they have to ensure their businesses don’t suffer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A stablecoin is specifically designed to hold parity with a base fiat currency and therefore is not suited to speculative investment. They do, however, have attractions as being easy to convert into other crypto assets and have the same portability features. The one challenge stablecoins have had is there have a couple of instances of them being used as Ponzi schemes, because the provider did not have the assets on deposit to support the currency’s value. Facebook will likely solve for that problem at least, considering its substantial cash pile, but the much bigger issue will be in how it can monetise the financial transactions of its billions of users. That is where the clear investment opportunity resides.



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June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Man Who Inherited Australia's Downturn Just Isn't That Fazed

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

That’s all put the economy on track for its weakest fiscal year since the last recession in 1991. Even the Reserve Bank, which rarely wades into political territory, is urging more government stimulus after cutting interest rates for the first time in almost three years.

But whether boxed in by his sunny disposition or pledges to deliver a budget surplus made ahead of the government’s shock re-election last month, Frydenberg appears unfazed. While he’ll push to pass tax cuts when parliament resumes on July 2 and ramp up infrastructure spending, that’s about it, leaving the heavy lifting of stimulus to the central bank.

“I’ve found the treasurer to be remarkably sanguine,” said Danielle Wood, an economist at the Grattan Institute, an independent think tank in Melbourne. “When you’ve got the central bank governor coming out and talking about perhaps moving to stimulatory fiscal policy as well as the need for more long-term structural reforms, I’d be hoping for a more substantive response.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The RBA cutting interest rates to previously unimagined levels, with more to come, is a bonus for consumers with floating rate mortgages, but the wider concern is about the health of the Chinese economy which Australia depends on for export demand growth.



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June 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Internet Trends 2019

This report from Mary Meeker at Bond includes a large number of graphics which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section from the introduction:

The rapid rise of gathered / analyzed digital data is often core to the holistic success of the fastest growing & most successful companies of our time around the world. Context-rich data can help businesses provide consumers with increasingly personalized products & services that can often be obtained at lower prices & delivered more efficiently. This, in turn, can drive higher customer satisfaction. Better data-driven tools can improve the ability for consumers to communicate directly & indirectly with businesses & regulators.

Core constituents (consumers / businesses / regulators) are increasingly drinking from a data firehose & management challenges continue to rise for all parties. Broad awareness of challenges (& related vigorous / heated debates) can be the first step in driving change.

Consumers are aware of concerns about Internet usage overload & are taking steps to reduce usage – leading USA-based Internet platforms have rolled out tools to help monitor usage & social media usage growth appears to be decelerating following a period of strong growth. Privacy & problematic content concerns are also top-of-mind & are following similar patterns.

Owing to social media amplification, reveals / actions / reactions about events can occur quickly – resulting in both good & bad outcomes. In markets where online real-time rating systems exist, accountability can be improved vs. offline options as consumers & businesses interact directly while regulators can also benefit.

Rapidly expanding connectivity has helped amplify voices of good & bad actors. This has brought new focus to an age-old challenge for regulators around the world – finding the most effective ways to amplify good & minimize bad, often resulting in different regional interpretations & strategies.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The march of technology and pace of innovation as massive data sets are parsed, managed and exploited has helped to drive the bull market in data centres and the resulting cloud-based product offerings. That remains a powerful trend because new business models are springing up to lever the potential for costumer engagement from automating the product offering to cater to user demand. That represents a reversal of the traditional product to customer model and is a primary trend behind the creation of new companies.



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June 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Power of Self-Learning Systems

This presentation by Demis Hassabis from DeepMind may be of interest to subscribers. I found it fascinating.

June 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Illinois farmers give up on planting after floods, throw party instead

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

Nationwide, farmers are expected to harvest the smallest corn crop in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency last week reduced its planting estimate by 3.2% from May and its yield estimate by 5.7%.

Farmers think more cuts are likely as the late-planted crop could face damage from hot summer weather and an autumn frost.

“An early frost will turn this world upside down,” Rock Katschnig, a farmer from Prophetstown, Illinois, said at the party.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is one thing to have worries about being able to sell into overseas markets like China, it is quite another challenge not to have inventory at all. The failure to plant spring crops represents a significant risk for farmers if they plant late because of getting the wrong weather at the wrong time and potentially delaying winter crops.



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June 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook's Answer to Bitcoin Is a Double Threat

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

Weekend media leaks suggest that Facebook’s “Libra” project will be a continuation of its past efforts to expand its payments business and keep customers within the walled garden of its social media apps by creating their very own money.

While Zuckerberg is poised to unveil a team of partners – reportedly including eBay Inc., Farfetch Ltd., Spotify Technology SA, Uber Technologies Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc – so far this feels very much like Facebook’s baby. Tellingly, it’s not one that the big banks or the other Silicon Valley and Seattle giants seem ready to adopt quite yet, unless Zuckerberg surprises us with some bigger names at the launch.

The target customer base for these new digital tokens looks certain to be the 2.6 billion-strong user base of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

While Facebook will no doubt assure us that this project is all about making the lives of its customers ever easier, giving them the ability to actually buy stuff in a way that Bitcoin has rarely offered, it’s hard to square it away with the political effort to curb Big Tech’s monopolistic tendencies (regardless of that roster of launch partners and their $10 million participation fees). 
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

If we were to summarise Facebook’s foray into cryptocurrencies it would be to say that Zuckerberg wants what Jack Ma and Pony Ma have. Alibaba has Ali-Pay and Tencent has WeChat-Pay. Respectively these represent the crown jewels of their respective business empires, because the payments platforms tie users to the parent app but also enable a significant multiplier effect by linking buyers with sellers.  

 



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June 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

YouTube University

Thanks to a subscriber for these notes from Jeff Gundlach’s conference call on Thursday. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

This idea that President Trump has a plan to make sure the economy is humming in the run-up to the Presidential Election is gaining ground on Wall Street and elsewhere. David Rosenberg put out a tweet last week expressing the same sentiment. 

Maybe Trump is a genius, after all. What if he finally gets the steep Fed rate cuts he has been demanding? After that, he ends the trade wars, tariffs go to zero, and the stock market surges to new highs -- just in time for the 2020 election!

I agree it is certainly possible he is self-absorbed enough to try and attempt to shape the economy’s prospects to his own interests but there is an alternative interpretation which does not get a lot of airplay.



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June 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disruptive Innovation: WHY NOW?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

Secular bull markets are most often driven by massive technological innovation which creates productivity and growth and efficiencies where none where possible previously. That was true of mechanisation, electricity, semiconductors and the internet. It is also likely to be true of biotechnology, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics and batteries.



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June 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

This Time It's Different

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Howard Marks, for Oaktree which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The biggest manias tend to have the biggest internal contradictions which everyone is conditioned to accept while the bubble is inflating but can identify as ridiculous after it pops. That is one of the most important tenets of crowd psychology to remember during the Third Psychological Perception Stage of a bull market; where bubble risk is most acute.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 13th 2019

June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the USA's oil advantage:

Quick thought, following your comment on America's oil glut, and Morgan Stanley's report you highlighted.

I have been watching the difference in price between the WTI and Brent Crude for a long time now. The difference seems to vary between 10 and almost 20% depending on the day, with WTI obviously being the cheaper. Is it too SIMPLISTIC to say?

1) that US factories, offices, homes etc enjoy an enormous advantage over their global competitors with energy costs being so much cheaper, not forgetting it already enjoys a significant tax advantage over many as well.

2) when the US does become a significant oil exporter, it can make a lot of profit, even by offering only minor discounts to the Brent price to attract business. Possibly more profit than from its LNG exports.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for highlighting these points. I’ve always been a fan of Ockham’s Razor. There is no need to get over complicated. The USA has a massive advantage in terms of its oil and gas production capacity. That is reshaping global geopolitics, it will have a meaningful effect on the balance of payments and it has already had a meaningful effect on the chemical industry because of reduced input costs.  one.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beyond Meat Gains as Tim Hortons Adds Sandwiches at 4,000 Shops

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

 

Beyond Meat Inc. got a reprieve from two downgrades in as many days after Tim Hortons said it’s now offering faux-meat breakfast sandwiches at almost 4,000 locations across Canada.

The plant-based meat products maker gained as much as 7.1% in early trading after the coffee-and-doughnuts chain said it added three breakfast sandwiches to the menu made with Beyond Meat sausages after testing them at select stores last month.

The stock reversed earlier losses driven by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s decision Wednesday to cut its rating on Beyond Meat to market perform from outperform, saying shares of the company have gotten too expensive after a more than 400% rally since its May 1 initial public offering. On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s similar move spurred a 25% decline, Beyond Meat’s worst day since the debut.

Last week, the company reported quarterly earnings for the first time since the IPO, fuelling optimism among investors when it said sales would exceed $210 million this year, topping analysts’ estimates. It also said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization would break even, compared with projections it would have a loss. The results reinforce that consumer demand for alternative meat products is on the rise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

After seeing such an impressive move on the upside since the IPO, when I saw a Beyond Meat Burger on the menu of my club’s restaurant this afternoon, I thought I had better taste one. It was good and certainly competes favourably with the de rigeur beef patties at most fast food outlets. I would hasten to add however that it pales in comparison with the gourmet burgers on offer in London and much of Europe. The cost on the other hand was on par with any average burger and that is an important part of its appeal.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Uranium Sector

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

Enviro Minister Schulze recently said that Germany will stick to its timetable to close the last nuclear reactor by YE22.  Some critics like Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess believe that it should wind down coal before nuclear. A recent Forbes article “What Does It Actually Cost to Charge Up an Electric Car focused on cost of charging an EV.  We took it one step further and also determined the environmental impact of Germany’s decision.  Given that France’s electricity generation is 73% nuclear and Germany is only 12%, we compared estimated costs and emissions associated with charging a Tesla Model S with a 100-kWh battery. First off, electricity prices appear 45% lower in France.  Secondly, CO2 emissions from electricity generation to charge an EV in France is just 13% of what it is in Germany. Yes, Germans would see a 140% CO2 reduction by using EV’s versus that from an average ICE vehicle, but the French would see a 1,720% CO2 reduction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

For the green movement there is no greater cause celebre than to combat nuclear proliferation. That consideration more than any other fired the resolve of Angele Merkel to wind down Germany’s nuclear industry following the Fukushima disaster even though Germany is not a seismically active area.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Your Face May Tell Lenders About Whether You're Creditworthy

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

In its lending business, meanwhile, Ping An says it uses its technology to analyze the faces of loan applicants in real time, searching for “micro-expressions” that reveal their emotional and psychological state. Such expressions typically occur within fractions of seconds and are hard for people to control, and loan officers make more accurate judgments on the applicants’ credibility based on this information, according to an article posted by Ping An on its official WeChat social-media account in China last year.

For large loans, applicants often have to answer questions in an online video meeting that typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Ping An records and analyzes how the applicant answers questions, and looks for signs of eye-shifting or other suspicious behavior, which would be flagged by its system.

Ping An in January said it has made more than 500 billion yuan worth of loans with the help of its micro-expression technology. It also said the technology has helped shorten its average loan-approval times to two hours from five days.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tracking movement of large numbers of people and compiling databases on patterns of behaviour, social media activity and even utilities bills is about as a Big Brother as is currently imaginable. The rolling out of the social credit scheme to the insurance sector is just another part of that long-term project to compile a unique score for each individual which will be more exact than a credit score and will have broad spectrum uses beyond credit, not least in quelling political activism.



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June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Policy Mix Flips and Will Take the Dollar with It

This article by Marc Chandler for Bannockburn Global Forex may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The policy mix of tighter monetary policy and looser fiscal policy provides a steroid-like boost to currencies.   This is what the US had under Reagan-Volcker.  It is was the policy mix in Germany after the Berlin Wall fell that led to the ERM crisis of the early 1990s and then Maastricht Treaty and the euro.  It helped fuel the dollar's gains last year.  Now that policy mix is reversing.  Fiscal policy is tightening, and monetary policy is poised to loosen.  That policy mix is associated with under-performing currencies.  

The third significant dollar rally since the end of Bretton Woods is in jeopardy.  Coordinated intervention marked the end of both the Reagan-Volcker and Clinton-Rubin dollar rallies.  Intervention in the foreign exchange market won't be necessary; the self-proclaimed "Tariff Man" has found another way the proverbial cat can be skinned.  

The last phase of a significant dollar rally has been marked by the movement of interest rate differentials against the US.  This been happening.   The two-year differential between the US and Germany peaked last November a little above 355 bp, which appears to be a modern extreme. It finished last week below 250 bp, the lowest in more than a year.   Similarly, the US two-year premium peaked against the UK around the same time a little shy of 220 bp.  It is now approaching 125 bp.   Against Japan, last November, the US two-year premium of nearly 310 bp was the largest in 11 years.  It is threatening to break below 200 bp.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Quantitative tightening has been the single most important factor in the Dollar’s strength over the last 18 months. Reducing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet has contracted the supply of Dollars and created a supply inelasticity-based argument to support the currency.



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June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Transcript of Felix Zulauf's interview by Grant Williams -

Thanks to a subscriber for this summary of the discussion at the recent Mauldin conference which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The response of the stock market last week to the whiff of easing rhetoric from the Federal Reserve suggests investors are still willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive effect loose monetary and potentially fiscal policy can have on asset prices and by extension the economy.



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June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What if the US and China Reach a Trade Deal?

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

June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How to Keep Thieves From Stealing Your PIN at the ATM

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

What’s more, no-name ATMs are often free-standing and not built into the wall, like those at banks. That means they’re easier to get inside of and thus more susceptible to skimming and other crimes, says Brian Krebs, who covers computer security and cyber crime at krebsonsecurity.com. (In fact, if you can see the top of an ATM, that’s a big warning sign, he says.)

That said, third-party ATMs are hardly the only machines to look out for. Says Mr. Rosenberg: “I’m pretty sure every type of ATM has had skimmers on them.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no justifiable reason to use a debit card. They offer unparalleled access to one’s bank account with no protection and therefore the risk is simply too great relative to the benefit. Credit cards are insured, often have no fees tor holding the card and can be paid off automatically at the end of the month, plus they help to build credit. At least if your credit card is stolen you have recourse to the card issuer for recompense. That is a lot more difficult to with debit cards.



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June 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 11th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: China moves to ease lending standards, supports the stock market and the currency, Wall Street pauses. gold, copper, lumber and corn steady, oil weak. Europe, India and ASEAN steady. Dollar steady but susceptible to additional weakness. 

Some of the topics covered include: China moves to ease lending standards, supports the stock market and the currency, Wall Street pauses. gold, copper, lumber and corn steady, oil weak. Europe, India and ASEAN steady. Dollar steady but susceptible to additional weakness. 

 



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June 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

On Target June 11th 2019

Thanks to Martin Spring for this edition of his ever-interesting report. Here is a section on China’s tech ambitions:

The FT reports that the US ban on infotech trade with China could be a problem for Google as its Android system is “central to the smartphone market in China, which is bigger than Europe and the US combined, due to its use by Huawei and other [Chinese] phonemakers include Oppo and Xiaomi.”

Chinese president Xi Jinping has spoken openly about his plans for China to gain global dominance in future high technologies in just SIX years’ time. Their foundation will be China’s capacity to design and manufacture cutting-edge semiconductor chips. $150 billion is being poured into achieving that. However, so far subsidies and tax breaks have only lifted China’s self-reliance in low-value chips.

The Americans are clearly using the current “trade war” to hinder Xi’s ambitious plans by demanding that the Chinese cease their theft of intellectual property, and of using their negotiating power to force technology transfers as part of the price of allowing joint ventures to operate in their huge domestic market. 20 per cent of European companies doing business in China, for example, say they are compelled to hand over technology to Chinese partners.

It’s unlikely the Americans will succeed in getting the Chinese to play fair. Agreeing to trade-balancing deals would be one thing. Agreeing to stop their massive co-ordinated attack on the heights of leading-edge industries would be something else. It’s certain they’ll renege on any promises about that they have to give.

Ironically, cutting Chinese access to American components and technology, or merely threatening to do so, is the strongest incentive of all to stimulate Chinese development of high-tech sectors.

Investors have generally taken the view that the ugly contest between Trump and Xi will be resolved in a “deal” that the American president can claim to be a victory, but Xi can present as a fair agreement. That still seems to be the likely outcome.

As for the arms race… that still has much further to run. It will be a key part of the long-term strategic contest between the hegemon and its fast-growing global challenger.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The challenge in competing with the West is less in developing hardware, which can be copied at will, but in developing the software to function across platforms, communicate between devices and provide both back and front-end support. It is no mistake that the majority of the companies which have attained mega-cap status are software driven and outsource manufacturing of their hardware. There is no doubt China is capable of creating its own software systems, but it is not an easy process and will take time even with an army of programmers.



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June 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Sets Yuan Fixing Stronger Than Expected in Sign of Defense

This article by Tian Chen and Ran Li for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"Forget about the psychological 7 level," said Khoon Goh, head of research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., adding that the fixing will stay stronger than 6.9 before the Group of 20 summit. "Today’s fixing sends a clear message that the authorities are still intent on keeping the yuan stable, and
have no desire to see it weaken further."

Trump Says He’ll Raise China Tariffs If Xi Won’t Meet at G-20 U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping may meet at the G-20 summit in Osaka this month. Traders will be closely watching the gathering to gauge the outlook for trade negotiations and the yuan.

"We expect the Chinese authorities to continue defend 7 in the foreseeable future," said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered Plc, adding that a negative outcome at the G-20 summit wouldn’t warrant a change in this stance. "The PBOC may step up the size and frequency of bill issuance should the yuan come under greater depreciation pressures."

Eoin Treacy's view -

With upwards of a million people protesting on the streets of Hong Kong and the world paying attention to the trade war between the USA and China, the Chinese administration has a clear incentive to project an aura of stability and calm.



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June 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOE Hike Warnings Go Unheeded as Rate Cuts Seen as More Likely

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

Bank of England policy makers and investors are taking contrasting views of the U.K. economy as official warnings of potential interest rate hikes clash with market predictions for a cut.

The market moves are partly based on a belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve is on course to reverse its recent hiking path, forcing central banks around the world to follow suit, but also reflect the drastically different Brexit outcome built into investors’ outlook.

While the BOE’s forecasts -- including its hawkish view of longer-term inflation -- are based on the assumption of a smooth Brexit process, investors have the luxury of being more nimble, and so have increasingly priced in the risk of a no-deal departure in October. That’s not without reason, since no deal is a policy advanced by a number of potential candidates to replace Theresa May as prime minister this summer. There are also nascent signs that BOE officials are ending their year of unanimity, with some edging closer to the market’s view.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The UK is just about the only developed market where inflation measures are above the comfort level of the central bank and yet the Bank of England is not in a position to raise rates. CPI has been above 2% since early 2017 and while the rate moderated from 3% to 2% last year it has stabilised this year. Brexit represents a key uncertainty because a hard exit would deliver a short sharp shock which would justify the low interest rate environment, whereas if the UK ultimately decides to remain in the EU, the Pound is undervalued and the Bank of England be more inclined to raise rates.



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 10th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: Wall Street extends rally but fails to hold intraday high, Treasuries susceptible to some consolidation, Gold and precious metals pause, oil weak, Dollar eases, Rand and Peso steady, Renminbi breaks downwards from its short-term range, 



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on South African governance:

In your recent big picture video, you outlined the possible trajectory of some of the emerging market currencies in a declining dollar environment. Some time ago I emailed in to state my reasons why I thought the ZAR might be one of the worst in the immediate future. Events since the recent election have only served to confirm that view. At the moment there is a struggle going on in the ANC regarding the mandate of the Central Bank The powerful ANC secretary general wants the mandate changed from the focus on inflation to include growth and jobs considerations. In a public statement this week, Mr Ace Magashule wants the bank to embark on a policy of "Quantity Easing" whatever that might mean!! This would inevitably send South Africa in the direction of Zimbabwe. This country could end up worse than Zim for the following reason.

Recently, there have been a series of xenophobic attacks involving firebombing of trucks on some of the main motorways. Local companies have been employing drivers from Zimbabwe who are intelligent and highly motivated at the expense of local South Africans. The history of primary and secondary education could not be more different in these adjacent countries. Even under Mugabe the colonial legacy of education was left in charge of the churches who maintained a strong culture of teaching and learning rooted in Christian values. Zimbabwe still uses the Cambridge University exams for both "O" and "A" levels set in 1954. In South Africa, the Apartheid government passed the Bantu education act into law which took away the control of the churches and gave it to the state. This has proved to be an unmitigated disaster by any measure. The last thing South Africa needs right now is a huge population of poorly educated young people currently around 30% many of whom embrace a culture of entitlement

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this on-the-ground perspective of the environment in South Africa. The dumbing down of curricula is a global phenomenon linked to the cutting of educational funding, the expanding power of teacher’s unions, the lack of commitment from parents to take responsibility for the education of their own children and the desire of politicians to show results against a background of deteriorating fundamentals. It’s a secular trend and shows little sign of changing because it would require everyone to work harder for a distant benefit which seems to be beyond the ability of society to collectively deal with right now.



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sunset of China's REE Dominance

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

China has overplayed its hand in the rare earth metals sector. Two years ago, it produced 80% of the worlds supply, now it produces 70%. The global economy is now alert to the fact that these metals represent vital components in all manner of new technology products.



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on silver miners:

With the silver/gold ratio at multi-year lows, coupled with the adage that silver is high beta gold, I’ve been evaluating from a contrarian perspective whether to increase my exposure to silver whilst the market is in the depths of despair and await a possible turnaround. 

The problem is where to venture as the fundamentals of virtually every silver producer are pretty scary, including CDE, which has been mentioned from time to time in your Comment of the Day.

I came across this informative article which analyses in some detail the current state of the market and its various producers, the declining percentage of their production which is silver related, and their prospects of outperformance should the silver price recover. 

I would appreciate your insight into this analysis and which companies, or ETF’s, you feel might be worth considering for investment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Silver mining is as capital-intensive as gold mining, requiring similar large expenses to plan, permit, and construct new mines, mills, and expansions. It needs similar fleets of heavy excavators and haul trucks to dig and move the silver-bearing ore. Similar levels of employees are necessary to run silver mines. But silver generates much-lower cash flows than gold due its lower price. Silver miners have been forced to adapt.

This is readily evident in the top SIL miners’ production in Q1’19. SIL’s largest component in mid-May as this latest earnings season ended was the Russian-founded but UK-listed Polymetal. Its silver production fell 15.0% YoY in Q1, but its gold output surged 41.1%! Just 17.5% of its Q1 revenues came from silver, making it overwhelmingly a primary gold miner. Its newest mine ramping up is another sizable gold one.

SIL’s second-largest component is Wheaton Precious Metals. It used to be a pure silver-streaming play known as Silver Wheaton. Silver streamers make big upfront payments to miners to pre-purchase some of their future silver production at far-below-market unit prices. This is beneficial to miners because they use the large initial capital infusions to help finance mine builds, which banks often charge usurious rates for.



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Faces Showdown in Hong Kong as Mass Protests Roar Back

This article by Shawna Kwan, Carol Zhong and Blake Schmidt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China has spent much of the past five years tightening its gripover Hong Kong with little challenge. Now, hundreds of thousands in the city are fighting back.

Hong Kong is bracing for a potentially historic showdown over extradition legislation that could for the first time subject residents to face justice in Chinese courts, further eroding the city’s autonomy. Opponents on Sunday staged one of the largest protests since the former British colony’s return to China: Organizers said more than 1 million participants showed up, while police put the figure at 240,000.

Tensions are only heating up, with demonstrators vowing to surround the city’s Legislative Council on Wednesday, when lawmakers debate scores of proposed amendments. Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, defended the bill in a 45-minute news briefing Monday, saying it was necessary to prevent the city from becoming a “haven” for fugitives and vowing to press ahead with its passage. China endorsed her government’s efforts later in the day.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Deng promised the “one country, two systems” model would last for a century. Hong Kong will be lucky if it makes it to quarter of that time. Extra judicial disappearances have been a feature of Hong Kong life for the last decade and this extradition law would institutionalise the process. Tightening mainland oversight, particularly of critics of the administration is inevitable regardless of how many people protest. In the meantime, there is a clear intent to express power and control over Chinese territories so this situation has the potential to escalate.



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June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bets on July Fed Rate Cut Gain Momentum After U.S. Jobs Report

This article by Susanne Barton, Katherine Greifeld and Liz Capo McCormick for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bond traders’ conviction that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates within months in response to a weakening growth outlook and escalating trade tensions firmed after a batch of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data.

Fed funds futures show a quarter-point cut almost fully priced in for July, and indicate about 70 basis points of easing by the end of 2019. The two-year Treasury yield fell as much as 11 basis points to 1.77%, close to the 2019 low reached Wednesday, and it was on course for its fifth weekly decline.

The last time that happened was back in July 2016, when the U.S. central bank’s target range was 2 percentage points lower than right now.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Lead indicators for future problems are flashing orange. If the Fed were to persist in its policy of continuing to raise rates and reducing the size of the balance sheet it would contribute to recession risk. If it steps on the monetary accelerator once more it risks further inflating a bubble, not least in the nonbank lending and private equity sectors.



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June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell's Floating Prelude LNG Poised to Load First Cargo

This article by Stephen Stapczynski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is full:

Shell’s Prelude floating LNG plant offshore Australia is expected to load its first cargo on the vessel Valencia Knutsen, which is currently idled in the area, according to commodity shipment tracker Kpler.

* The vessel arrived near Prelude on June 4 and was likely attempting to load from the facility, but it left berth range a few hours after arrival, Kpler analysts said

** The vessel will probably be moored alongside the Prelude facility before the end of the week: Kpler

* NOTE: Shipment of the first LNG cargo is “imminent,” Platts reported on June 4, citing Shell’s head of integrated gas, Maarten Wetselaar

Eoin Treacy's view -

When Royal Dutch Shell announced it was ready to spend billions on developing a major offshore LNG processing facility in Northern Australia a few years ago it was considered a risky venture. However, the company’s long-term bet on natural gas representing a much better demand growth trajectory than crude oil has been proved correct. 



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June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beyond Meat's Forecast Wows Wall Street as IPO Darling Delivers

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

“As long as Street forecasts fail to properly reflect BYND’s remarkable potential, we remain overweight.” Notes that “eventually this stock’s hefty valuation will more than offset the fast-growing fundamentals.”

Notes the importance of CEO Ethan Brown calling the forecast “very conservative” and telling investors that the company doesn’t include foodservice customers in guidance until they are past the testing stage.

JPMorgan has a $233 million 2019 sales target -- vs the company forecast of $210 million -- and the analyst says his estimate may be conservative. “It is conceivable that Tim Hortons alone (a current customer with nearly 5,000 locations that is not yet in guidance) could account for most of that
gap.” Rates overweight, price target to $120 from $97

Eoin Treacy's view -

Meat alternative providers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger have a clear benefit in that they are providing a new product which is fashionable. The trendiness of vegan food products that are considered both healthy and taste good represents a significant market phenomenon which has been growing in importance at local eateries around Los Angeles for the last couple of years. The primary benefit of these products for fast food chains like McDonalds, Burger King or Jack in the Box is they attract a new demographic that normally avoid such establishments.



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on ETF holdings of gold

I have been particularly taking note of the chart for The Total Known ETF holdings of gold over the past two weeks and observe it has bounced emphatically off the trend mean. Does this reinforce your view that gold is due for a bullish outlook?

Eoin Treacy's view -

ETF Holdings of Gold represent a significant source of demand for gold as an investible asset class. At 71.4 million ounces ETFs represent larger stockpiles than most countries and therefore reflect a signal as to the interest of the international community in the gold market.



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is silver due to catch up?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Gold/Silver ratio is at rather extreme but not the most extreme levels seen historically. David long described silver as high-beta gold and poor man’s gold. The less liquid nature of silver trading and the various use cases for the metal contribute to it being more volatile than gold.



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The rise and rise of private markets

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

Dry powder: How much is too much? With competition rising and deals hard to find, GPs’ stocks of uncommitted capital, or dry powder, reached a record high of $1.8 trillion in 2017 (Exhibit 14). That was up 9 percent year on year; indeed, dry powder has grown by 10 percent on average every year since 2012. Does the industry have too much capital? Probably not, or at least not yet. If we compare dry powder to other measures, such as funds raised and AUM, “stocks” of capital available for investment have changed little over the past few years vis-à-vis the size of the industry. Dry powder as a percentage of in-year fundraising has been between 220 and 280 percent for the past six years. As a percentage of AUM, dry powder has been similarly consistent, at 30 to 34 percent. Nor are there any significant variations among asset classes, suggesting that GPs are finding adequate opportunities in every field. Furthermore, by the metric we introduced in the 2017 edition of this report, years of PE inventory on hand, dry powder still seems adequate to deal flow. If we divide dry powder by deal volume on a seven-year trailing basis, the industry seems to have cycled through its capital in a stable way for the past several years (Exhibit 15).

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report while focusing on 2018, references a lot of data from 2017. The quantity of capital now held by private equity groups in anticipation of a buying opportunity stands at $3 trillion. That’s almost a multiple from a couple of years ago and speaks both to the quantity of money still sloshing around and the dearth of attractively valued assets to buy with it.



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Investors Signal Draghi Is Running Out of Time and Ammunition

This article by Paul Gordon, John Ainger and Piotr Skolimowski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

While Draghi is using similar tactics to U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in promising to react to any deterioration in the outlook, the challenge is that he’s seen as having less room for maneuver. ECB rates are still at record lows and the balance sheet hasn’t started to be wound down.

Moreover, he has less than five months left in office and there’s no clear sign who his successor will be, nor whether they’ll have the same commitment to the radical measures that hallmarked the Italian’s eight-year term.

“The market believes Draghi’s take on inflation is wishful thinking,” said Christoph Rieger, head of fixed-rate strategy at Commerzbank AG, which predicts the ECB will cut the deposit rate toward the end of this year and extend its low-rate pledge to mid-2021. “The talk about contingencies is cheap, but to reverse the decline in inflation expectations he will have to walk the walk.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB only ended their QE program in December so it is going to take some time to rebuild appetite for additional easing measures. The market is convinced of the need, particularly with German, Italian and French PMI’s in negative territory, however the ECB is unwilling to act prematurely.

 



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

"Record 3,000" Hong Kong lawyers in silent march against controversial extradition bill

This article by Alvin Lum may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

If passed, the new legislation would allow the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to jurisdictions with which it has no extradition deal, including mainland China.

Organisers estimated the turnout to be between 2,500 and 3,000, but police said attendance peaked at 880.

Four Nordic chambers of commerce also jointly expressed concern that the bill had been “fast tracked without the thorough consultation and full legislative scrutiny that is customary for a piece of legislation of this nature”.

The city’s last colonial governor Chris Patten meanwhile urged the government to shelve the bill, arguing it would “strike a terrible blow” to Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Any hope that Hong Kong will be allowed to host critics of the mainland’s administration are being quashed. The time when Hong Kong is completely subsumed within China is drawing progressively closer as the “one country, two systems” approach is abandoned.  



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June 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 5th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: ADP new jobs report pulls back sharply, Dollar pulls back from its intraday peak, stock and bond market steady,, oil extends pullback, gold tests its high for the year before easing. 

Some of the topics covered include: ADP new jobs report pulls back sharply, Dollar pulls back from its intraday peak, stock and bond market steady,, oil extends pullback, gold tests its high for the year before easing. 

 



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June 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Market Spotlight: A Major Base For Gold

This note from Credit Suisse may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

June 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iran Crisis Guide Things That Matter

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The biggest issue for oil prices right now is the risk of slowing Chinese demand growth and what that means for global demand growth. Auto sales in China are declining. Regardless of whether that is because of regulatory restrictions on purchases or because of slowing growth the reality is we are seeing fewer cars being sold. With thousands of jobs being lost at auto makers that is both a factor for oil demand growth but doubly so because of the impact on GDP growth.



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June 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China digging in on trade - We are Reducing International Stocks

This note from Rodd Smith for Riverfront may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The best time to use moving averages as stops is when we have evidence of a year consistent trend where the price has bounced successively from the trend mean. Nevertheless, a moving average is a trend smoothing device that lags by definition and markets often overshoot so it is reckless to think of the moving average as a sacrosanct level



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June 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 4th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: Fed signals it is listening to the messages being sent by the bond market, Wall Street rebounds, Dollar eases, Europe bouncing led by banks, gold steady, oil quiet, China eases and India pauses, Treasuries pause.



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June 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Signals Openness to Cut If Needed Over Trade Tensions

This article by Matthew Boesler and Christopher Condon for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled an openness to cut interest rates if necessary, pledging to keep a close watch on fallout from a deepening set of disputes between the U.S. and its largest trading partners.

Referring to “trade negotiations and other matters,” Powell said Tuesday in Chicago that “we do not know how or when these issues will be resolved.”

“We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2% objective,” Powell said in opening remarks at a conference at the Chicago Fed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question last year was how much tolerance the Federal Reserve has for drawdowns in the stock market. 10% was not enough in January, not least because Jay Powell had just taken the job. However, the persistent pace of raising rates and reducing the size of the balance set nerves on edge that the Fed was not paying attention to signals sent by the market. A 20% drawdown was enough to change that and the Fed rode to the rescue in December.



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June 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Woodford Confronts Career Crisis After Freezing Fund Withdrawals

This article by Suzy Waite and Nishant Kumar for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The decision to freeze withdrawals gives Woodford time to position illiquid holdings, the company said in a statement late Monday. While investments in unlisted securities are unusual for a mutual fund, Woodford hasn’t shied away from them.

Two of the top 10 holdings in Woodford’s main fund, accounting for about 7% of assets, were in private companies. A significant drop in size could undermine Woodford’s ability to run the fund effectively, Hargreaves Lansdown said in a statement explaining its decision to remove that fund and the Income Focus Fund from its list.

Freezing withdrawals "is a difficult to decision to make," said Emma Wall, Hargreaves’s head of investment. "It’s disturbing for investors. Any negative news like this is worrying. But it gives him the breathing space to get on being an investor rather than constantly worrying about redemptions. He can use these 28 days to offload illiquid assets, which he’s doing anyway.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’m at a Marcus Evans fund managers speed dating event in Palm Springs at the moment. What I find particularly interesting is the exposure it gives me to the strategies being purveyed and where investment managers believe there is money to be made.

I sat in on a panel discussion yesterday where there was a lively discussion about the merits of Liquid Alternatives. The asset class was created in response to the desire for liquidity that arose from the fear of a repeat of the halted withdrawals that occurred during the credit crisis. Many people, however, have complained that the long/short strategies that characterise the product offering are closet trackers and fail to deliver the uncorrelated returns required by Modern Portfolio Theory. Instead they, to a man, recommending ditching liquid alternatives and buying bonds. That’s a clear testament to the fact the bond rally is forcing investment managers to participate because the momentum is beating everything else.



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June 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority

This article by Paul Mazur from New York Times, dated April 14th may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Chinese authorities already maintain a vast surveillance net, including tracking people’s DNA, in the western region of Xinjiang, which many Uighurs call home. But the scope of the new systems, previously unreported, extends that monitoring into many other corners of the country.

The police are now using facial recognition technology to target Uighurs in wealthy eastern cities like Hangzhou and Wenzhou and across the coastal province of Fujian, said two of the people. Law enforcement in the central Chinese city of Sanmenxia, along the Yellow River, ran a system that over the course of a month this year screened whether residents were Uighurs 500,000 times.

Police documents show demand for such capabilities is spreading. Almost two dozen police departments in 16 different provinces and regions across China sought such technology beginning in 2018, according to procurement documents. Law enforcement from the central province of Shaanxi, for example, aimed to acquire a smart camera system last year that “should support facial recognition to identify Uighur/non-Uighur attributes.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Last April, Mrs. Treacy was at a 7-Eleven in Guangzhou and the cashier offered her a 10 Yuan discount for taking her photo and before she could answer had already taken her data. A day later she found herself accidentally paying for items at a different store with her face.

We are having a significant discussion in the West about privacy and how much of our data should be available to corporations. That discussion does not exist in China and regardless of what venue gathers your data, it all ends up in the hands of the government and that is everything from passwords to fingerprints, to facial features, to browsing history, to utility usage, to travel history to social media contacts to purchasing patterns and genetics.



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June 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 3rd 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: China's regional banks represent an understated but large risk to the economy, gold follows through on the upside, FAANG shares lead on the downside, Treasuries at the first area of potenital resistance if the trend is to remain consistent. Dollar eases and European stock markets at potential support with Germany steadying. 
 

 

Some of the topics discussed include: China's regional banks represent an understated but large risk to the economy, gold follows through on the upside, FAANG shares lead on the downside, Treasuries at the first area of potenital resistance if the trend is to remain consistent. Dollar eases and European stock markets at potential support with Germany steadying. 

 



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June 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As China's Debt Balloons, Emerging Markets Fail to Take Off

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

Within China, all forms of debt have risen, reflecting a shift in the dynamics of its economy. Before the crisis, China had largely managed to finance its growth without recourse to much debt. The inflows from exports had done the job. The population, fast reaching middle-class living standards, still tended to fund itself conservatively. But household debt has almost tripled from 18.8% of China’s GDP before the crisis to 51.2%. All this debt has successively less impact in stimulating economic growth.

There are reasons why China’s debt is not creating greater fears. If countries want to avoid crisis, issuing a greater share of debt in their own currency is key. This avoids the risk that a devaluation can force them into default, and it leaves them with the option—not necessarily a good one—of printing money to escape difficulties.

China does more than 90% of its borrowing in local currency, which limits the risks somewhat. Meanwhile, almost all large emerging markets now do more than half of their borrowing in their own currency. But not all emerging markets have made uniform progress in converting to local market debt. The two biggest exceptions are Argentina and Turkey—and it is no coincidence that these two countries both slipped into crisis during 2018 as a strong dollar put pressure on their currencies.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Where the burden of debt resides in an economy gives us a clue as to where the greatest effect will be felt from a problem. When the credit crisis struck it was mortgage debt in the USA which led the market downwards and it was consumers who felt the brunt of the decline with the foreclosure crisis and erasing of savings. Today, debt resides on company balance sheets and in China’s regional banking sector in particular.

Successive attempts to wring leverage out of the regional banking sector have finally had the desired effect of ending shadow banking. However, without resource to government capital, Dollar loans or private lending clubs, the regional banks are in serious peril. This is a difficult sector to monitor because only a handful are listed on the stock market.



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June 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google, Facebook Tumble Amid Heightened Antitrust Scrutiny

This article by Gerrit De Vynck and David McLaughlin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

American antitrust officials are under increasing pressure from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to step up scrutiny of technology giants, and several presidential candidates have already weighed in. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren laid out a detailed plan for breaking up the
tech giants in March.

European officials have already been aggressively pursuing antitrust cases against American tech firms, including Google, while so far the U.S. has been mostly hands-off.  That may be changing amid continuing criticism that lax enforcement in the U.S. has allowed tech platforms to dominate their markets. The FTC earlier this year set up a task force to examine the conduct of tech companies and their past mergers.

President Donald Trump and many Republicans have complained that Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. suppress conservative views.

Google, with a sprawling empire of businesses that could feasibly be targets, is in the dark about the focus of the investigation and hopes to learn more this week, according to another person familiar with the situation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capitalism trends towards concentration but ultimately runs up against the barrier of antitrust. The size and influence of companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook is the primary obstacle they face rather that the monopolies they control, although this latter point will be used to justify and attempted action.



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June 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Trade War? Africa Sidesteps Tariffs, Starts Free-Trade Pact

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

Africa, largely ignored in a U.S.-China trade war that could roil economies worldwide, is quietly piecing together the world’s largest free-trade zone.

The African Continental Free Trade Area comes into force on paper on Thursday after the required 22 countries ratified the deal a month ago. Once it’s passed by all 55 nations recognized as part of the African Union, it would cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. The potential benefits are obvious, if the usual hurdles of nationalism and protectionism don’t yet stand in the way.

The deal would help the continent move away from mainly exporting commodities to build manufacturing capacity and industrialize, said Jakkie Cilliers, head of African Futures and Innovation at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies. Boosting intra-regional trade would spur the construction of roads and railways, reducing the infrastructure gap in Africa, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Africa is the global centre for population growth and represents an important demographic growth engine for the global economy over coming decades. The creation of a free trade area to promote transnational trade right across the continent is a positive development that will help spur growth for many economies.Building up trade that is not exclusively reliant on resource extraction is a major objective for just about every commodity producer but it is especially important in high population growth markets because people need jobs if their productive capacity is to be realised. That’s a long-term objective.



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May 31 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

May 31 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Threatens Sweeping Blacklist of Firms After Huawei Ban

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

The vague wording of the Chinese state media report opens the door for Beijing to target a broad swathe of the global tech industry -- from U.S. giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. to even non-American suppliers that have cut off China’s largest technology company. Those run the gamut from Japan’s Toshiba to Britain’s Arm.

Shares in Apple Inc. slipped less than 1% while Qualcomm Inc. gained less than 1% and Intel Corp. was little changed in U.S. trading Friday. U.S. stocks slumped as the Trump administration’s trade spats intensified.

“Surely companies that have announced cutting supplies to Huawei, such as Panasonic and Toshiba, would be under threat,” said Michelle Lam, Greater China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “It could be very damaging to multinational companies.’’

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lopsided nature of the trade relationship between the USA and China means the impact of tariffs is equally lopsided. China’s decision to stop buying agricultural products and to advise the population to boycott US goods is the extent of what can be achieved. The geopolitical theatre is where China has more cards to play, not least in its support for North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. The purge/execution of North Korea’s lead negotiator with the USA over the last week is a sign that card is also being readied for play.



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May 31 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Border at 'Breaking Point' as More Than 76,000 Unauthorized Migrants Cross in a Month

This article from the New York Times posted earlier this month puts some numbers on the scale of the challenge faced in handling migrant issue on the USA’s southern border. Here is a section:

Understanding what is happening on the border is difficult because, while the numbers are currently higher than they have been in several years, they are nowhere near the historic levels of migration seen across the southwest border. Arrests for illegally crossing the border reached up to 1.64 million in 2000, under President Clinton. In the 2018 fiscal year, they reached 396,579. For the first five months of the current fiscal year, 268,044 have been apprehended.

The difference is that the nature of immigration has changed, and the demographics of those arriving now are proving more taxing for border officials to accommodate. Most of those entering the country in earlier years were single men, most of them from Mexico, coming to look for work. If they were arrested, they could quickly be deported.

Now, the majority of border crossers are not single men but families — fathers from Honduras with adolescent boys they are pulling away from gang violence, mothers with toddlers from Guatemala whose farms have been lost to drought. While they may not have a good case to remain in the United States permanently, it is not so easy to speedily deport them if they arrive with children and claim protection under the asylum laws.

Families with children can be held in detention for no longer than 20 days, under a much-debated court ruling, and since there are a limited number of detention centers certified to hold families, the practical effect is that most families are released into the country to await their hearings in immigration court. The courts are so backlogged that it could take months or years for cases to be decided. Some people never show up for court at all.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Families with young children immediately require services and are a long way from self-sufficiency. That represents a challenge for border facilities never designed to handle the numbers of people seeking admission. It effectively means that anyone turning up at the border is given leave to remain in the USA.



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May 31 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Energy Prices Crash in Europe as Old and New Fuels Vie for Share

This article by Mathew Carr, Jeremy Hodges and Eddie van der Walt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“LNG is now so cheap it’s competing with coal almost,” said Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics Ltd., who sees slowing demand for coal. “It’s not actually falling off a cliff. We think it’s going to be a long slow death rather than tomorrow.”

The price slump is one sign of Europe’s determination to phase out coal as it seeks to slash climate warming emissions without holding back the economy. Renewables are also in the fight for market share, with onshore wind and solar power “fast becoming cheaper than average power prices in Europe’s largest markets,” according to a research by BloombergNEF.

Front-month Dutch gas prices, a benchmark for Europe, plunged 50% this year as record volumes of LNG landed in northwest Europe. Coal for next year has dropped 30% after a mild winter left inventories at European ports unusually high.

“There’s too much coal,” said Hans Gunnar Navik, a senior analyst at StormGeo AS. As “natural gas out-competes coal,” renewable generation is replacing both of them, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the pricing of commodities supply is much more volatile than demand. Generally, bull markets don’t end because the market runs out of buyers but because new sources of supply appear to satiate demand. That is why we define secular bull markets in commodities in terms of a step up in the marginal cost of production.



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May 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for May 30th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics covered include: Crude oil pulls back to break its uptrend, grains and beans steady, iron ore at a new high, Wall Street steady, Treasuries firm, review of recession lead indicators and long-term moving averages. 

 
Crude oil pulls back to break its uptrend, grains and beans steady, iron ore at a new high, Wall Street steady, Treasuries firm, review of recession lead indicators and long-term moving averages.
Crude oil pulls back to break its uptrend, grains and beans steady, iron ore at a new high, Wall Street steady, Treasuries firm, review of recession lead indicators and long-term moving averages.
Crude oil pulls back to break its uptrend, grains and beans steady, iron ore at a new high, Wall Street steady, Treasuries firm, review of recession lead indicators and long-term moving averages.


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May 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Could Stock Picking Matter More Than Sector Positioning This Year?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Federal Reserve aggressively tightened policy last year by both raising rates and reducing the size of its balance sheet simultaneously. That has had more of an effect on international growth than domestic growth but the underperformance of the banking and industrial sectors is a testament to slowing activity. We are at the point in the cycle where we can expect easier policy. The big question is whether the Fed will act soon enough to avoid negative economic figures.



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May 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bond Bears Dust Off Debt Insurance on Wave of Corporate Pain

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

“There are many people now focusing on single-name distressed situations rather than doing plain-vanilla index trades,” said Jochen Felsenheimer, the Munich-based managing director of XAIA Investment GmbH. “There are lots of idiosyncratic situations rather than systematic triggers.”

Distressed situations are increasing as companies struggle to manage the debt piles they built up during years of largesse. The cost of insuring such companies is surging, with swaps on some of Europe’s riskiest names costing thousands of basis points compared to about 300 basis points for the region’s high-yield benchmark.

Investors are paying up for protection amid speculation they’ll cash out when companies collapse. Moody’s Investors Service forecasts the speculative-grade default rate in Europe will nearly double to about 2% next year from 0.9% in April.

“Defaults are still quite low, but swaps are definitely more relevant today than they were a few years ago,” said Justin Jewell, senior portfolio manager at BlueBay Asset Management in London. “For funds that have the flexibility, these tools are becoming effective again.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The manner in which intangibles have been squeezed out of the valuation of major companies like Kraft Heinz, General Electric and Tesla represent significant changes in the way the prospects for companies is being assessed by the debt markets. That change is a factor of tightening liquidity conditions particularly last year but the strength of the Dollar remains an inhibiting factor to global liquidity this year.



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May 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Real Winners From Trump's Tariffs Are China's Neighbors

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

There is some evidence of that happening, even with the previous, smaller tariffs. Since the third round of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect in late September, U.S. imports from China have faltered. An 8% growth rate in October turned to an 18% decline on the year in March. Yet import growth from Taiwan has risen from 12% to 21% over the same period. Imports from Vietnam grew 34% in March, up from a 15% rate in October. And imports from South Korea also surged in the first quarter: They were up 18% on the year, against just 9% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Some of those shifts might represent manufacturers in China rerouting goods through neighboring countries. Chinese export growth to Southeast Asia and Taiwan accelerated in the first quarter of 2019, even as its overall export growth slowed. Regardless, the result is probably more expensive goods in the U.S. and lower employment in China, as Chinese companies shift elements of supply chains across borders or lose market share to pricier but tariff-free Asian competitors.

Many U.S. policy makers would argue that some pain for U.S. households is worthwhile if it achieves broader strategic goals. In the meantime, however, the big winners from the Sino-U.S. trade conflict are still across the Pacific.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the cryptocurrency world, “trust” is the buzzword. It occurs to me it is also the primary asset which has been lost in the pursuit of the trade war. The USA and other countries were willing to tolerate China’s misdeeds for years until the populist revolution highlighted just how much damage had already been sustained by the middle classes. Now the unfair trade practices and theft China has engaged in are no longer being tolerated and normal trade practices are being demanded. China is not in a position to accept those terms and that is setting up the conditions for a protracted disagreement which is likely to ebb and flow for years.



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May 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for May 29th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: global sovereign yield compression, need for the Fed to cut rate soon, Wall Street in the region of its trend mean, oil and gold stable. grains ease from intraday highs, rare earth metals surging, Dollar firm, 



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May 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trade Not the Only Risk; Markets Agree Adjusted Yield Curve Is Inverted; Higher Volatility Is Coming

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report and a section from it are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The commonality in the compression of global sovereign yields is a clear sign bond investors, everywhere, have concluded we are at the top of the interest rate cycle. If interest rates are unlikely to rise, they can fall and the big question is when that is likely to happen.



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May 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on cloud computing stocks

I have a simple question.  A large number of cloud computing companies seem to show strong growth on the price charts for the last few years.  Do you think that this is a fundamentally based trend which will continue, or is it just another dot com bubble?

I am as always addicted to your excellent research and presentation.  Watching your video is the first thing I do every morning, and I even have to divide the Friday video into three parts, otherwise I feel deprived on Mondays.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and I am delighted you enjoy the videos. The cloud computing sector has been one of the best performers in this bull market as the app-based economy has flourished on the back of data centre buildouts.



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May 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rare Earth Stocks Give Abundant Returns as Investors Pile In

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

The People’s Daily, a flagship newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary that the U.S. shouldn’t underestimate China’s ability to fight the trade war. The country is “seriously” considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S., the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, said in a tweet. An official at the National Development & Reform Commission told CCTV that people in the country won’t be happy to see products made with exported rare earths being used to suppress China’s development.

 

The U.S. relies on China for about 80% of its imports of rare earths, the group of materials that are used in everything from electric cars to high-tech military equipment. Rare earths, which include elements such as cerium and dysprosium, are relatively abundant in the Earth’s crust but mine-able concentrations are less common than other ores.

China produces about 70% of the world’s mined rare earths and its industry is dominated by a handful of producers including China Northern Rare Earth, China Minmetals Rare Earth Co., Xiamen Tungsten and Chinalco Rare Earth & Metals Co. Some of the country’s listed rare earths stocks are small caps, making them easy targets of speculation.

The country has taken a proactive approach to managing the global market, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report, citing steady exports in the 1990s that depressed prices and a 40% reduction in its export quota in 2010 that led to a spike.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The last time rare earths were a political football in 2010, it was because China cut off exports to Japan in an effort to force high-end manufacturing to migrate. That set off a massive run-up in rare earth metal prices, investment in new mining facilities and a drive towards substitution. Faced with the threat of losing it dominant position China relented and began exporting again. Prices collapsed, most of the new miners went bust and some semblance of normality returned. How is this occasion different?



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May 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for June 28th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: Treasuries extend breakout, Wall Street ease back to test their MAs, golds eases, oil steady, grains breaking out, Italian yields subject to selling pressure, Euro weak, South African Rand weak, China and India steady



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May 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold in the Age of Eroding Trust

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Ronald Peter Stoeferle and Mark Valek’s always interesting report. Here is a section:

Trust is the basic value of interpersonal cooperation and the cement of our social order. The erosion of our “trust capital” can be observed in many areas of society.

The breakdown of trust in the international monetary order is manifesting itself in the highest gold purchases by central banks since 1971 and the ongoing trend to repatriate gold reserves.  

Gold reaffirmed its portfolio position as a good diversifier as trust in the “Everything Bubble” was tested in Q4/2018. While equity markets suffered doubledigit percentage losses, gold gained 8.1% and gold mining stocks 13.7%.

The normalization of monetary policy was abruptly halted by the stock market slump in Q4/2018. The “monetary U-turn” that we already forecasted last year has begun. 

Recession risks are significantly higher than discounted by the market. In the event of a downturn, negative interest rates, a new round of QE, and the implementation of even more extreme monetary policy ideas (e.g. MMT) are to be expected. 

When it comes to trust in investments, our vote is clear. Trust looks to the future, forms itself in the present, and feeds itself from the past. Gold can look back on a successful five-thousand-year history as sound money.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Gold is a monetary metal and therefore is best valued like a currency rather than as a metal, stock or bond. Of course, currencies are generally income producing but if the last decade has taught us anything that is not always the case. One of the clearest arguments for owning gold in the aftermath of the credit crisis were the negative interest rates that prevailed which made gold alluring by comparison. With similar conditions arising now, the big question many people are asking is why gold hasn’t done better?



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May 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe's Populists Don't Look So Healthy Now

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

According to the new parliament’s seat distribution based on preliminary results, 15 PINE parties throughout the European Union made gains in the election and 12 lost seats. In total, they gained just 25 seats – 3.3% of the total of 751. Without Italy, they would have come out even with the 2014 result. In a small number of countries there has been no change in PINE support.

The rise of Italian nationalism and what one could call an anti-establishment revolution there make the country the EU’s biggest trouble spot for the next legislative period. It’s unclear what the bloc can do about it except wait for Italians to become disappointed in Matteo Salvini’s League (and the national conservative Brothers of Italy, or FDI, party) – something that might come with painful economic side-effects.

The U.K. is the other obvious problem, but perhaps a receding one – either because Brexit will eventually happen or because it won’t. Last week’s election delivered a net loss of seats to British PINE parties. The success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was as spectacular as the downfall of his former project, the U.K. Independence Party, and the ruling Conservatives faced a catastrophic loss that doesn’t augur well for them in the next general election. All this is for the British voters to sort out, though: The EU can hardly help at this point and it’s wise for it to wait out the crisis.

Other than the two obvious hot spots, eastern Europe remains somewhat problematic for the “ever closer union” project because of the strength of Hungary’s Fidesz and Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS). These aren’t exactly euroskeptical parties, but they are focused on not giving up any more national sovereignty, and they’re resolutely illiberal. The parties work to defang the independent media and build up propaganda machines that make them immune to scandals (PiS survived a whole strong of them in the run-up to the European election) and they tighten the political control of the courts.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The European election results reflect a rumbling sense of discontent but did not deliver the ground swell of support for populist or ant-EU to upend the centrist status quo. If we look under the surface there is a clear battle going on, but the opposition is split between populists and, the left leaning, Green movement which has allowed the centrist bloc to continue to hold sway.



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May 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Incessant Rain Puts U.S. Farmers on Insurance-Deadline Watch

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

Claims known as prevented plant pay out when farmers are unable to sow crops at all. With unceasing rain keeping farmers out of fields, growers are increasingly weighing how best to get paid and ease the impact from the bad weather and an escalating U.S.-China trade war.

“You hate to farm for insurance, but in a year like this, you keep that in the back of your mind,” Nelson, whose farm is near the east-central town of Paola, said by phone. Storms across the Midwest and Great Plains have resulted in the wettest 12-month stretch on record in the U.S., with the deluge closing refineries and snarling Mississippi River traffic. Crucially for agriculture markets, it’s also hampered crop planting. Worries over tighter supplies due to the soggy weather drove Chicago corn futures to surge as much as 3.9% on Friday, topping $4 a bushel and rising to the highest level in almost a year.


The wet weather’s showing no signs of easing. Severe weather that broke out late Sunday across the Central U.S. and into the Midwest is expected to continue to cause havoc. The insurance deadline for sowing has already passed for some farmers in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas and western Tennessee. They now have to decide whether to plant with less coverage, or make prevented-plant claims.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cyclicality of grain prices, where old crop prices rise heading into the harvest of winter planting and fall thereafter is predicated on the assumption that there is a winter crop to harvest. There is likely to be significant volatility because hard red wheat crops are expected to be OK, but a significant rally appears to be getting underway in old crop contracts. The true test of the health of the new crop will come when it the front month July contract rolls.  



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May 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy