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March 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Virus Aid Package Beats Financial Crisis Stimulus

This article by Alex Morales, Lucy Meakin and Andrew Atkinson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The coronavirus crisis has transformed the fiscal landscape at a stroke. Britain was on course for a budget deficit of 55 billion pounds in the fiscal year starting April. Now, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, borrowing could be as much as 200 billion pounds as an economy on course to shrink at least 5% this year hammers tax revenue and drives up spending on welfare.

That could leave the deficit just below the 10% reached in the aftermath of the financial crisis and push up already elevated debt levels.

The chancellor announced his first economic package to deal with the outbreak when delivering the budget on March 11, unveiling 12 billion pounds of measures to mitigate the effects of the outbreak on the economy.

As evidence mounted that the crisis was snowballing, he followed up with a 350-billion pound stimulus package comprising government-backed loans as well as 20 billion pounds of grants and tax cuts for struggling companies.

Then, last Friday, he announced 7 billion pounds of extra welfare spending and said the government would pay 80% of salaried employees’ wages up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds a month -- a plan Bloomberg Economics estimates will cost 17.5 billion pounds.

Announcing further details of the job-retention program today, the Treasury said the government will also cover employers for the National Insurance and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions of furloughed workers, saving firms 300 pounds a month per employee on average.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trouble with the coronavirus is not so much in the mortality rate but in the speed with which it is spreading. Overloading hospitals with scarce resources and scary reports of tens of thousands dying has put a great deal of pressure on the economy. However, it is also worth considering that despite the scale of the challenge faced in Italy, they have seen the peak in the infection growth rate. That suggests the problem is unlikely to get worse.



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March 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coronavirus Peak?

Eoin Treacy's view -

The SARS epidemic did not become a pandemic. Its effects were limited to a relatively small number of countries and, even then, the majority of infections occurred within the hospital setting. The trough in markets evolved when the growth rate in new infections moderated which eventually contributed to the peak in new infections. COVID-19 is global and has infected many more people that SARS ever did and particularly because the large numbers of serious cases have overwhelmed healthcare systems.



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March 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Near-Zero Liquidity in S&P Futures Means 'Slippage' Risk Is High

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

Liquidity is vanishing for U.S. equity futures. Traders of S&P 500 e-minis are now only offering to buy or sell a few contracts at a time -- often numbering in the single digits -- compared with an average of more than 1,000 just a month ago, data from Deutsche Bank Asset Allocation show.

Drastically thin markets are alarming because they can fuel outsize price swings. With futures markets being halted almost every day in the wake of wild swings, the lack of liquidity is so severe now that it’s fueling concern even among the pros who’ve lived through the worst market crashes in history.

“There’s no liquidity in any market,” said Rick Bensignor, the founder of Bensignor Group and a former strategist for Morgan Stanley, who has traded the futures market for 40 years. “When you’re talking about restructuring a portfolio too, you have to think about the potential slippage that’s involved to get anything done.”

Of course it’s no surprise that markets would thin out when investors, strategists, and economists alike are unsure of the ultimate impact of the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s not clear if the low liquidity may be feeding upon itself -- i.e., are traders staying away because liquidity is so horrible, or is it just a natural side effect caused by all the uncertainty?

“‘Thinly traded’ now an understatement considering how much liquidity in futures market has collapsed,” tweeted Liz Ann Sonders, the chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. U.S. contracts hit exchange-mandated halts for the ninth time in 10 days overnight Sunday, before an announcement of unlimited quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve ignited gains that lasted just 20 minutes before turning negative again.

Strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. have estimated liquidity in U.S. futures markets is seven times worse than the poorest levels during the financial crisis. According to Bensignor, typically when it comes to size, anywhere from 200 to 500 blocks trade on both the bid and offer side of a wager at every tick. Watching his screen Monday morning, there were fewer than 10.

“You are going to have to deal as you restructure portfolios,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “You’re also going to have to realize that doing so is going to cost a lot of money compared to what you had to do in the past, where you could basically just do it for no cost because of the liquidity.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the reasons stock markets have sold off so aggressively is because the spike in volatility initiated an epic deleveraging in the macro hedge fund sector. The knock-on effect of that deleveraging was to inhibit the ability of high frequency traders to make markets. That exposed, again, the limitations of the Volcker Rule.



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March 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals: Navigating uncertain times

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Dow/Gold ratio has clearly broken its decade-long uptrend. In the last month it has broken below the 1000-day MA. That’s a monumental event because it has never happened in a secular bull market before. This has been achieved by the gold price going nowhere while the stock market has collapsed by approximately 30%



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March 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Reduce/ re-orientate equities, raise cash, favour USD, EUR and CHF

Thanks to Iain Little and Bruce Albrecht for this edition of their Global Thematic Investors’ Diary. Here is a section:

The Coronavirus crisis, the most serious event since the Global Financial Crisis (“GFC”) of 2008/2009, has set in motion a series of governmental policies whose unfortunate effect is to choke both demand and supply in the global economy.  These policies - prudential measures taken by governments united in their desire to appear to be “doing something”- are likely to be worse, economically speaking, than the disease itself.  Relief comes only with the passing of time or the finding of an anti-viral remedy, the latter a distant prospect at this stage.

Earnings news, monetary news, fiscal news and pandemic news are all following the disheartening course that we feared.  An emergency Fed meeting last Sunday, slashing rates to near zero, failed to reassure.  The next day, Wall Street produced the second of 2 record points drops in a week, falling -13%.  Equity markets have fallen by an average of about -30% from their January highs.

Equity markets are now oversold and distorted by panic.  The market finds it hard, if not impossible, to “price” risk when an end to the crisis is undefined and earnings unknown. And what discount rate should one use in a global panic when rates are near zero?  Many stocks trade under “fair value” on “normalized” earnings.  But the risks being taken by governments are such that there may be worse to come: bankruptcies in directly affected sectors like leisure, hospitality, airlines, hotels and “bricks and mortar” retail.  There may even be nationalizations in troubled sectors.  On the other hand, other sectors, also hit hard by the same waves of panic selling, may emerge as new long-term leaders in a changing world where personal safety, health fears, depersonalizing technology and e-commerce may enjoy further and more widespread adoption.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Millions of people just lost their jobs in the retail and restaurants sector. Weekly jobless figures are reported with a two-week lag, so today’s 281,000 increase is reflective of the week ending March 7th. Most cities in lock down made the decision over last weekend so next week’s figure will be higher but the release on April 2nd is likely to take jobless figures to new highs. The only limiting factor is the ability of people to sign on for benefits given the system’s capacity restraints.



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March 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

An Anguished Cry From the NHS Front Line: Coronavirus Is About to Explode Among Medical Staff

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

It strikes them as preposterous that you could achieve anything close to the threshold level of immunity - ultimately 60pc - over the six month window of time available to us before the second (more dangerous?) wave hits in the autumn.

The explosive rise in cases - with 13pc needing intensive care in the Italian region of Lombardy - would smash the system.

As a sample, I offer extracts from an email received on Sunday from consultant cardiologist at a top British hospital, with high-powered credentials, who is working in the front line.

His Whatsapp group of 10 fellow doctors has a Wuhan sense of frustration about it. Things are going horribly wrong. Covid-19 is taking off among NHS staff.

“One of them seems to probably have Covid, as has multiple symptoms. Two of them have personally treated a patient with Covid before the patient was diagnosed, eg with no protective measures in place. It is clear that there are certainly multiple cases amongst staff and patients in every NHS hospital today, and they are actively spreading, with nothing stopping them.

"One of the 10 is in his 50s, and has somewhat restricted lung capacity because of an orthopaedic problem – he spent this weekend making a will and putting his affairs in order. He had realised that with the current NHS leadership, there was basically nothing he could do to avoid catching it in coming days. Crunching the statistics, he realised that several consultants in the hospital will probably die.

“We have received no advice at all to take any measures to reduce spread in the hospital. Where the South Koreans were attending hospital in full hazmat suits, I will be arriving in my suit and
tie tomorrow with nothing to prevent me catching it, and working in an operating theatre that a Covid patient was in on Friday, nobody aware that he had it, and the staff members I will be working with, will all have been in contact with that patient.

Eoin Treacy's view -

“Panic early” or “Keep Calm and Carry On”? That is the decision provided to the UK government last week and they went with the latter, which was the wrong move. They are now, belatedly organising a change of heart. Social distancing is now top priority and not before time. What we now need to see is a clear follow through on shutting down contact between infected people and a massive ramp up of testing.



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March 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Lagarde Warns of 2008-Style Crisis Unless Europe Acts

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

Lagarde told European Union leaders on a conference call late on Tuesday that without coordinated action Europe “will see a scenario that will remind many of us of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis,” according to a person familiar with her comments. With the right response, the shock will likely prove
temporary, she added.

Lagarde said her officials are looking at all their tools for Thursday’s policy decision, particularly measures to provide “super-cheap” funding and ensure liquidity and credit don’t dry up, said the person, who declined to be identified because the call was private.

Still, she stressed that central-bank measures can only work if governments throw their weight behind them too, with steps to ensure banks keep lending to businesses in affected areas, said the person. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

Lagarde spoke hours before the Bank of England became the latest central bank to take emergency action. It announced a 50 basis point interest-rate cut early Wednesday, combined with measures to help keep credit flowing, and said it still has more policy space to act if needed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has been cautioning Eurozone governments for much of the last decade that fiscal stimulus has to be part of the solution to the region’s debt/growth challenges. That exhortation has fallen on deaf ears as the region’s creditors imposed fiscal conservativism on the most profligate debtors.



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March 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOE Cuts Rates in Coordination With Treasury Virus Response

This article by Fergal O'Brien, David Goodman and Anooja Debnath for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced 30 billion pounds ($34 billion) of fiscal stimulus and pledged to spend 600 billion pounds by 2025 on a massive infrastructure program, alongside measures to help businesses and the National Health Service weather the disruption from the disease.

The European Central Bank is expected to join the easing this week after President Christine Lagarde warned leaders on Tuesday that the crisis has echoes of 2008.

“The bazookas are loaded and the BOE just fired their first salvo,” said Luke Hickmore, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “It seems unfeasible that the ECB does not also find ways of supporting the banking system. Europe needs to get its act together -- and act together.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The predictable 50 basis cut to the Bank of England’s interest rates is the first volley in a range of supports. The announcement of massive infrastructure spending, fiscal deficits but less bond issuance than originally anticipated is all designed at making the best of a bad situation. That final point where less bonds were issued than expected was probably aimed at countering the claim Modern Monetary Theory is being deployed.



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March 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boeing Plans Full Drawdown of $13.825 Billion Loan

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

Boeing obtained the loan from a group of banks last month to help it deal with its cash burn while it prepares to return its 737 Max plane to the skies. It initially tapped about $7.5 billion of the debt, and is now expected to draw the rest, said the people, asking not to be named discussing private information. Boeing plans to draw the remainder of the loan as a precaution due to market turmoil, one of the people said.

Companies affected by the virus are increasingly turning to banks for short-term financing to provide a safety net. United Airlines Holdings Inc. raised $2 billion in new liquidity with a secured term loan, while Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. recently signed a new $675 million revolver. Should credit conditions worsen, more firms may start to draw down their credit lines, market watchers say. Boeing’s loan came about before Covid-19 spiraled into a global crisis and was expected to be fully drawn eventually.

“They want to have cash on the balance sheet,” said Bloomberg Intelligence’s Matthew Geudtner. The Max grounding, the company’s joint venture with Embraer SA and looming debt maturities will also weigh on Boeing’s cash hoard, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The easiest way to determine where the biggest risks reside in this market is to use this metric: Whatever people were worried about in 2019, the coronavirus makes things worse.



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March 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Market Makers "Didn't Show Up for Work," Macro Risk CEO Says

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

“It’s literally as if the market makers didn’t show up for work,” Curnutt said in a Bloomberg Television interview, referring to options and junk-bond exchange-traded funds such as the iShares iBoxx High-Yield Corporate Bond ETF, known by its ticker, HYG. “The posted bid-offers on the screens illustrated that there was no one in the market posting for something that is one of the more liquid -- usually -- hedges to use.”

Banks have been constrained by rules created after the 2008 financial crisis. That has pushed some market-making activity to other types of financial institutions including Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial Inc., which was one of a handful of firms that rose in trading Monday as the S&P 500 slipped
7.6%.

“The traditional liquidity provider in times of stress -- the bank -- really isn’t there,” John McClain, portfolio manager at Diamond Hill Capital Management, said in an interview. “Banks themselves have a lot more regulation around what they can be doing.”

Still, for all that, trading was relatively orderly in HYG and other debt ETFs, especially compared with the underlying bonds. The liquidity concerns still didn’t mean there was a “full-blown breakdown in markets,” Curnutt said.

Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock Inc., agreed. “I was there in 2008, and the difference is the financial system essentially seized up, which is not what happened, at least not so far,” he said. “It’s an important signal that the ETF market functions.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

ETFs have been a wonderful innovation which have opened up asset classes which were never previously available to retail investors. They have also allowed the cost of investing to come down and reduced performance deviation from the broad market averages. The challenge is ETFs can often be more liquid than their underlying indices and instruments. That represents a significant challenge in times of stress and particularly during bouts of contagion selling.



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March 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Recession Looms in Europe as French Demand 'Call to Arms'

This article by William Horobin and Fergal O'Brien for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The downbeat assessments come amid a meltdown in financial markets not seen since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. It marks a grim start to the week for European Central Bank policy makers, who meet in Frankfurt and may be forced to lower interest rates and step up bond purchases. The U.S. Federal Reserve has already acted, with an unexpected easing last week.

“I want a strong, massive, coordinated response,” Le Maire said on France Inter Radio as the central bank slashed the outlook for the country’s economic expansion this quarter to 0.1% from 0.3%.

“We should work on a stimulus plan with fiscal and budgetary measures, and tax cuts, so that when the epidemic crisis is over we can relaunch the economic machine,” he said. The virus is another blow to the euro area’s second-largest economy, after disruption from strikes caused output to shrink at the end of 2019.

“This slowdown is potentially severe but temporary,” Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said in a rare statement accompanying the report.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The markets tend to test new central bankers and Christine Lagarde’s honeymoon period is definitely over. The ECB will be expected to lay out what kind of assistance it is willing to provide. While room for interest rate cuts is limited because they are already so low, there is plenty they have do to ensure ample liquidity in the system.



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March 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

South Korea's Virus Outbreak May Be Slowing, Officials Say

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

This article highlights widespread testing as one of the primary reasons South Korea has been able to make headway against the outbreak. Here is a section:

South Korea has borne its virus outbreak relatively well despite the scale of the spread. The country has been testing people for the virus at the fastest pace in the world, which appears to have allowed early detection of cases and keep its mortality rate lower than average. Infections have also been largely contained to Daegu and surrounding areas, although the government has not imposed restrictions over people’s movements like in China and Italy.

“New cases of coronavirus have been continuously slowing down, to 248 yesterday, after reaching a peak of 916 on Feb. 28. We should continue this trend,” President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting with his senior secretaries Monday. “Still, we need to stay vigilant as sporadic small group infections in Daegu, North Gyeongsang and other areas continue.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The growth rate of South Korea’s cases appears to have peaked which suggests the measures put in place so far have helped contain the spread. The Kospi Index pulled back sharply today to test its recent lows.



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March 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Covid-19 and Global Dollar Funding

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Zoltan Pozsar and James Sweeney’s report for Credit Suisse on the plumbing of the global financial sector. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Credit Suisse team do an excellent job of highlighting where the risks are and provide a handy list of instruments to monitor to get an idea of how liquidity flows are functioning.

The repo market illiquidity in September was a signal to everyone that the tightening program had gone too far. There was nowhere near enough available capital in the system to allow the global money market to function. The Fed stepped in with a large swift injection of liquidity; inflating its balance sheet by $400 billion in four months.



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March 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020

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

Unfortunately, because of Sequoia’s presence in many regions around the world, we are gaining first-hand knowledge of coronavirus’ effects on global business. As with all crises, there are some businesses that stand to benefit. However, many companies in frontline countries are facing challenges as a result of the virus outbreak, including:

Drop in business activity. Some companies have seen their growth rates drop sharply between December and February. Several companies that were on track are now at risk of missing their Q1–2020 plans as the effects of the virus ripple wider.

Supply chain disruptions. The unprecedented lockdown in China is directly impacting global supply chains. Hardware, direct-to-consumer, and retailing companies may need to find alternative suppliers. Pure software companies are less exposed to supply chain disruptions, but remain at risk due to cascading economic effects.

Curtailment of travel and canceled meetings. Many companies have banned all “non-essential” travel and some have banned all international travel. While travel companies are directly impacted, all companies that depend on in-person meetings to conduct sales, business development, or partnership discussions are being affected.

It will take considerable time — perhaps several quarters — before we can be confident that the virus has been contained. It will take even longer for the global economy to recover its footing. Some of you may experience softening demand; some of you may face supply challenges. While the Fed and other central banks can cut interest rates, monetary policy may prove a blunt tool in alleviating the economic ramifications of a global health crisis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The knock-on effect to consumer confidence from the coronavirus and most particularly its influence on social interaction is a wild card for the global economy. It should help to focus minds on how best to deal with the situation but the global response, so far, has been haphazard. 



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March 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on volume data

I hope you and the family are enjoying a normal coronavirus free lifestyle?

I was looking at some 2 year charts recently, and I know you are not always   fan, but I noticed quite large volumes spikes on some individual co charts, but especially on the DJ and the NASDAQ. Near the end of 2018 and again last week major volume spikes. My experience over the last 50 years has taught me though it's not 100 0/0 accurate, volume spikes can be a very useful tool for gauging tops and bottoms, more so for lows. I just thought subscribers might find this food for thought!!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your concern. I’ve got some travel coming up over the weekend which I am not especially thrilled about but it falls into the necessary category. I intend to take a number of infection prevention measures while travelling. Other than that, it has been business as usual since we have stocked up on just about everything.



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March 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Coronavirus Hunter Is Racing for Answers in a Locked Lab

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

Over the last five years, Baric, working closely with Vanderbilt University infectious-disease specialist Mark Denison, tested almost 200,000 drugs against SARS, MERS and other bat coronavirus strains.  He found at least two dozen that appeared to hinder the virus.

Among the most promising was Gilead’s remdesivir, a drug that fared poorly when used against a recent Ebola outbreak in Africa. In the lab, it worked against numerous coronavirus strains, including SARS and other bat coronaviruses that are similar to the new strain. Every coronavirus it was tested on, “it had high potency and efficacy,” Denison says.

That work was fortuitous. In early January, Baric got an urgent call from an infectious-disease colleague to send his unpublished data on remdesivir to colleagues in China who were dealing with a then-mysterious outbreak. Baric says he “was shocked” to see how fast the coronavirus was spreading.

Since then, work at his lab has been virtually nonstop. Each scientist puts in from one to six hours inside two different clean rooms equipped to handle the virus. The lab’s workday begins at 6 a.m. and often goes until 11 p.m. Individual sessions are short for safety and practical reasons — researchers aren’t permitted to eat, drink or visit the bathroom once inside the lab. Everyone has to pass an FBI background check and undergo months of safety training.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The WHO has stated remdesivir is their best bet for a suitable treatment for coronaviruses. It’s another question whether Gilead will make money form that evolving market since it will be under extreme pressure to provide an affordable range of treatments ahead of a vaccine being developed over the next year. 



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March 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coronavirus Spread in China Slows Sharply But Doubt Remains

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

Eighty-four percent of Chinese cases, 97% of critical cases and more than 96% of deaths are within the province, which was placed under mass quarantine by the government on Jan. 23 to slow the virus’ spread to the rest of the country. The ongoing lockdown of the region of 60 million people has led to widespread suffering and scores of preventable deaths as the local medical system collapsed under the strain.

The lockdown also meant that China’s fatalities from the pathogen have been confined almost entirely to the province. As of Wednesday, 4.3% of people who were confirmed to have the virus in Hubei have died, while that rate is 0.8% in China outside Hubei.

Over the past three weeks, China’s number of recovered patients has surged both in Hubei and the rest of the country, with the government sending in thousands of health-care workers to help in Hubei. Almost 65% of those who’ve been officially diagnosed with the disease are now better and out of hospital, according to the data from the National Health Commission on Thursday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Loosening restrictions comes with a significant number of risks because the viral infection rate has capacity to ramp up again as people get back to work and particularly in the cramped conditions of factories. The bigger question is whether China is willing to tolerate community spread on the assumption most workers will recover in a relatively short period of time. I believe that is the most likely scenario considering the continued risk from domestic or imported infections.



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March 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nobody Knows II

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

There is no doubting we saw evidence of contagion selling last week with everything selling off as quantitative strategies headed for the exits en masse and ditched ETF positions in the process. The growth of passive investing and the ease with which positions can be exited is contributing factor in the speed with which declines take place in today’s market.



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March 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Reopens Path to Nomination That Was Out of Reach Days Ago

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

In politics, you have to win to win. And in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries in 14 U.S. states, Biden did just that, and Democratic voters singularly obsessed with defeating Trump finally began coalescing around their candidate.

There’s still a long road ahead for the former vice president. His chief rival, Bernie Sanders, won California -- the biggest prize of the entire nominating race -- where a runaway victory could give the Vermont senator enough delegates to blunt Biden’s gains on Tuesday. And the former vice president’s turnaround was made all the more remarkable because of his plunge from front-runner status, bruised and battered by a meandering campaign, lackluster fundraising and trademark gaffes.

Still, the whirlwind three days following Biden’s convincing win in South Carolina -- which propelled top rivals like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar back the former vice president -- underscored the extent to which Democrats were ready to unite behind anyone perceived as ready to take on Trump.

“Just a few days ago the press and the pundits had declared the campaign dead,” Biden told supporters in Los Angeles. “I’m here to report, we are very much alive.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The rise of Bernie Sanders to front runner status about ten days ago was a significant catalyst for profit taking in the wider stock market and was potentially the motivating factor behind the pricing in coronavirus fears.  
 



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March 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBA Cuts Rates to 0.5% as China Slowdown Continues

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

“The coronavirus has clouded the near-term outlook for the global economy and means that global growth in the first half of 2020 will be lower,” Lowe said. “It is too early to tell how persistent the effects of the coronavirus will be and at what point the global economy will return to an improving path.”

In this case, though, Australia’s central bank isn’t going to have to face the downturn alone, with fiscal support in prospect.

“The Australian government has also indicated that it will assist areas of the economy most affected by the coronavirus,” Lowe said. Before the RBA meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Treasury is working closely together with the other agencies “to address the boost that we believe will be necessary.”

Morrison urged major banks to pass on any RBA cut. The four top lenders have all since confirmed that mortgage rates will be reduced by the full amount.

The RBA now has only one 25 basis-point cut left in the locker before it reaches its effective lower bound of 0.25%. Lowe will find himself dragged toward quantitative easing, should the economy need further monetary stimulus.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Australian Dollar has bounced over the last few days to partially unwind its oversold condition relative to the trend mean. The big question is whether the RBA will continue to hold the zero bound for interest rates and if it does that greatly increases scope for quantitative easing.



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March 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury 10-Year Yield Sets Record Below 1% on Virus Fears

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

Though the Fed met Wall Street’s hopes for aggressive action with its half-point reduction, Chairman Jerome Powell seemed to unnerve markets by saying it’s unclear how long the virus’s impact will last. Traders were already pricing in another rate cut later this month, with more to come in June.

“The market is trading right now on a lot of fear and uncertainty,” said Gary Pollack, head of fixed income at DWS Investment Management. “The Fed certainly didn’t bring calm, and the virus continues. The Fed’s relatively large move also made people wonder what they know that we don’t.”

The central bank’s decision came a few hours after Group-of-Seven finance chiefs issued a coordinated statement saying they were ready to act to shield their economies from the virus. Policy makers faced pressure to act after the OECD warned the world economy faces its “greatest danger” since the 2008 financial crisis.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The market is pricing in the assumption the US economy is going to lock up in exactly the same fashion as the Italian or Chinese economies did as coronavirus concern/paranoia spreads. There is no doubt the virus is dangerous for at-risk groups, but the bigger question is whether its effects will persist beyond the first quarter or perhaps second quarter, not least because warmer weather will likely curtail its spread as temperatures rise.

A more urgent consideration is today is Super Tuesday. The biggest issue investors are worried about is the potential Bernie Sanders is going to be the next President of the USA. The range of proposals he has tabled include breaking up the banks, financial services taxes, capping interest rates, breaking up internet and cable companies, Medicare negotiations for drug pricing, importing foreign drugs, capping prices, end health insurance, banning fracking, insist on 100% renewable utilities and railroads, cars and manufacturing. It’s very unlikely any of these will become law without the Democrats retaining the control of the House and also winning the Senate. However, President Trump has demonstrated just how much power the executive branch has and therefore there are grounds for worry.



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February 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lead Indicators of Recession

Eoin Treacy's view -

After a week characterised by selling across the board, a great deal of profit taking has taken place and many overextensions relative to the trend mean have been unwound. The question I believe many people will be concerned with is whether the coronavirus is going to be the catalyst for an economic contraction? I thought it would therefore be worth monitoring the kinds of instruments that offer a lead indicator for that kind of concern.



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Confirms Coronavirus Case, the First in Latin America

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coronavirus threatens the global economy with a 'sudden stop'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU's Barnier Hits Boris Johnson With Brexit Trade Ultimatum

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Mike Wilson for Morgan Stanley. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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February 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gilead Surges After WHO Comments on Coronavirus Drug Testing

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan Limits Large Gatherings to Thwart Coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kraft Heinz Cut to Junk by Fitch Following Lackluster Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

All Your Favorite Brands, From BSTOEM to ZGGCD

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

3 Trillion Can't Buy China Out of Virus Trouble

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Consumer Insolvencies Approach Record in Debt-Weary Canada

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Merkel Succession Crumbles, Blowing Open Race to Run Germany

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Monthly Inflation Eases More Than All Analysts Expected

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Where a Brexit Trade Deal Matters Most to Boris Johnson

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Seven Market Gurus Answer the Seven Big Post-Brexit Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Last Straw? China Tries to Trash Single-Use Plastic

This article by Stephanie Yang for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section

China will introduce new measures to aggressively cut back on its use of plastic, its first such move in more than a decade as booming e-commerce and food deliveries dramatically increase the country’s production of plastic waste.

In recent years, Beijing has stepped up efforts to reduce waste and pollution, introducing measures such as trash sorting and halting imports of recycling.

“China has used too much plastic,” said William Liu, senior consultant at energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “Everyone is calling for more environment-friendly development.”

By the end of this year, nonbiodegradable plastic bags will be largely banned from major cities, and single-use straws will be prohibited in restaurants across the country, Beijing’s top economic-planning office and its Environment Ministry said on Sunday. The ban will extend to all cities and towns by 2022 and to markets selling fresh produce by 2025.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The spectacle of business titans fawning over Greta Thunberg and feigning concern at the issues she champions while simultaneously giving a warm welcome to President Trump is yet another example of the virtue signalling designed to impress electorates all over the world.



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January 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boeing Sees 737 Max Approval Slipping to Mid-2020 in New Delay

This article by Alan Levin and Julie Johnsson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Boeing Co. is telling 737 Max customers that the grounded jet won’t be approved to fly until June or July, months later than previously anticipated, said people familiar with the matter.

The new delay comes after two recent discoveries, a software flaw that will require more work than expected and an audit that found that some wiring on the plane needs to be rerouted. The timetable also includes a buffer for unanticipated complications, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The new expectations mean that Boeing’s best-selling jet would miss the busy summer travel season for the second straight year, adding to the compensation that the U.S. planemaker is likely to pay airlines. The Max was grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Trading was halted on Boeing’s shares ahead of the above announcement. The retort from the FAA that no timetable for the recertification of the aircraft has been set and that safety remains the top priority represents an additional blow.



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January 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan Chinese electric vehicle joint venture

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

Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan Chinese electric vehicle joint venture - This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

FCA last month reached a binding agreement for a $50 billion tie-up with France’s PSA (PEUP.PA) that will create the world’s No. 4 carmaker. FCA said that the proposed cooperation was initially focused on the Chinese market.

It “would enable the parties to bring together the capabilities of two established global leaders across the spectrum of automobile design, engineering and manufacturing and mobile software technology to focus on the growing battery electric vehicle market,” it said.

FCA said it was in the process of signing a preliminary agreement with Hon Hai, aiming to reach final binding agreements in the next few months.

However, it added there was no assurance that final binding agreements would be reached or would be completed in that timeframe.

Foxconn has been investing heavily in a variety of future transport ventures for several years, including Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride services giant, and Chinese electric vehicle start-ups Byton and Xpeng.

Foxconn also has invested in Chinese battery giant CATL and a variety of other mostly Chinese transportation tech start-ups.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is an example of the most profound change batteries are bringing to the automotive sector. They are rapidly commoditizing the car. The difference between an Apple, Samsung or Google phone is less about what is on the inside than familiarity with the brand, ease of operation. software, the app ecosystem and the camera. Other than that, they all have pretty much the same internal composition with some minor differences in the design of the chips while manufacturing is outsourced to a third party.  



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January 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boeing Lost Its Way by Going on a Wall Street Detour

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

By the time Boeing decided to cobble together the 737 Max, its engineering culture was completely broken. Here’s how Aboulafia described it to Useem in the Atlantic:

It was the ability to comfortably interact with an engineer who in turn feels comfortable telling you their reservations, versus calling a manager [more than] 1,500 miles away who you know has a reputation for wanting to take your pension away. It’s a very different dynamic. As a recipe for disempowering engineers in particular, you couldn’t come up with a better format.

You can see that disempowerment — and its consequences — in the recently released emails. Instead of bringing their fears and complaints to superiors, the engineers grouse to themselves about the problems they see with the plane. They are bitter about management’s unwillingness to slow things down, to build the plane properly, to take the care that’s required to prevent tragedy from striking.

There is one email in particular from an unidentified Boeing engineer that I can’t get out of my head. It was written in June 2018, about a year after the company had begun shipping the 737 Max to customers:

Everyone has it in their head that meeting schedule is most important because that’s what Leadership pressures and messages. All the messages are about meeting schedule, not delivering
quality…

We put ourselves in this position by picking the lowest cost supplier and signing up to impossible schedules. Why did the lowest ranking and most unproven supplier receive the contract? Solely based on bottom dollar…. Supplier management drives all these decisions — yet we can’t even keep one person doing the same job in SM for more than 6 months to a year. They don’t know this business and those that do don’t have the appropriate level of input… .

I don’t know how to fix these things … it’s systemic. It’s culture. It’s the fact that we have a senior leadership team that understand very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives. It’s lots of individual groups that aren’t working closely and being accountable …. Sometimes
you have to let things fail big so that everyone can identify a problem … maybe that’s what needs to happen instead of continuing to just scrape by.

Of course that’s exactly what happened: the 737 Max failed big — at a cost of 346 lives. Shareholder value has caused much harm in the three decades since it became the core value of American capitalism: diabetics who can’t afford insulin; students ripped off by for-profit universities; patients gouged by hospital chains; and so much else. But none worse than this.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

General Electric basically invented financial engineering and built a massive business based on moving money around while its industrial core withered. That resulted in unique exposure, for an industrial company, to the credit crisis. The erasing of goodwill, forced sell-off of prime income producing assets and failure to reinvent a business model, resulted in the complete collapse of the share down to the low in late 2018.



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January 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. and China Sign Phase One of Trade Deal

This article by Shawn Donnan, Josh Wingrove, and Saleha Mohsin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The U.S. and China signed what they’re billing as the first phase of a broader trade pact on Wednesday amid persistent questions over whether President Donald Trump’s efforts to rewrite the economic relationship with Beijing will ever go any further.

The deal commits China to do more to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S. It also binds Beijing to avoiding currency manipulation to gain an advantage and includes an enforcement system to ensure promises are kept.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The most important point about the trade deal is the stock market did not sell off immediately following the signing. Considering the rally that has been underway for the last three and half months there is clear risk of some consolidation on a buy the rumour to sell the news, but no evidence it has started just yet.



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January 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pound Struggles After Inflation, Saunders Spur BOE Rate-Cut Bets

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

The pound faltered and gilts rallied after inflation data backed up Bank of England policy maker Michael Saunders’ call for urgent stimulus to boost the U.K. economy.

Sterling weakened against the euro and 10-year government bond yields dropped to the lowest in seven weeks after the data fueled bets that the central bank will lower interest rates this year. Money markets are now fully pricing in a full 25-basis-point rate cut for May, compared to November a day ago, and see a 65% chance of a move this month.

Saunders’ view on the need for more accommodative policy comes just days after BOE Governor Mark Carney said Britain’s economic growth had slowed below potential and that the Monetary Policy Committee had discussed the merits of near-term stimulus.

“There is more room for easing expectations to rise should incoming data disappoint and that could keep short-term sterling downside risks intact,” said Manuel Oliveri, a currency strategist at Credit Agricole AG.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The UK is determined to avoid the deflationary environment that has seen negative rates prevail in the Eurozone. That entails a willingness to let inflation run hot. Cutting interest rates now can be justified based on Brexit uncertainty as the end of the transition agreement is clearly within sight on December 1st.



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January 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

South Korea's Chip Exports Headed for Rebound as Trade War Eases

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

Semiconductor shipments, South Korea’s biggest source of income, rose 12% in the first 10 days of January from a year earlier, data from the Customs Service showed Monday. That’s the first time the preliminary figure posted growth since October 2018.

While the expansion benefits from a base effect of poor performance last year, it suggests global tech demand is improving after being battered by the U.S.-China trade war. The two countries entering a phase-one trade deal later this week should further support demand.

“It’s definitely a positive signal,” said Lim Hye-youn, an economist at KTB Investment & Securities, referring to the chip shipment in South Korea’s preliminary trade data. “But it’s still difficult to see the growth big enough to be leading Korea’s strong economic recovery. The base effect played a large role.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The global semiconductor sector is a lead indicator for corporate spending and tends to suffer when expectations for future economic potential are weak. All we hear right now is about the negative expectations for future growth among CEOs. If that were the full story then chips sales would not be turning higher.



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January 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Strengthening Yuan Is Smashing Every Key Level in Sight

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

While analysts say the exchange rate is being driven by improving market sentiment as China’s economy steadies and trade tensions ease, the recent bout of strength comes at a pivotal time for U.S.-China negotiations. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to sign the long-awaited phase one agreement in Washington Wednesday.

Some now predict the currency will touch 6.8 per dollar within three months -- a level not seen since May last year.

“Having a stronger currency is one way to show good will,” said Mitul Kotecha, a senior emerging-markets strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank in Singapore. “Signs of a gradual, as opposed to rapid, slowdown in China’s economy and limited decline in China rates will provide support to the currency.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I did not think we were going to see the Renminbi trade stronger than the trend mean but it is now clearly breaking out. That is as much about the willingness of China to tolerate a stronger currency as it is about the supply of Dollars resulting from the ongoing repo operations.



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January 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Steadying Inflation Leaves Door Open for Monetary Easing

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

“The PBOC is likely to continue to use interest rate and liquidity tools to loosen monetary conditions in 2020, though the easing will probably be less pronounced than last year,” David Qu, a China economist at Bloomberg Economics in Hong Kong, wrote in a note. “We expect the PBOC to stick to a stance of measured easing to counter the economic slowdown.”

For the year, consumer inflation for 2019 stood at 2.9%, in line with the government-set target of 3%, while producer prices declined 0.3%. Core inflation, which removes the more volatile food and energy prices, stabilized at 1.4% in December, signaling ongoing weakness in the broader economy.

China’s economy has shown signs of recovery in recent months as global demand steadies and trade tensions ease. As commodity prices rise and factories start restocking, PPI deflation is set to continue to moderate and some see it turning positive as soon as January.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The outlook for the Chinese economy represents the lynchpin for the global reflation trade and the prospects of steadying growth and continued stimulus are helping aid in the positivity surrounding the hiatus in the trade war.



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January 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiat Will Effectively Fund Tesla's German Factory, Baird Says

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

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk announced in November that Tesla planned to build a plant outside Berlin. The facility is expected to produce Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers starting in 2021.

Fiat Chrysler is going to launch a new version of its Fiat 500 battery-powered vehicle in Europe this year, along with plug-in hybrid versions of its Jeep Compass, Renegade and Wrangler models. That, combined with the Tesla credits, should make the company compliant with Europe’s emissions rules, CEO Mike Manley told analysts in July.

While Fiat Chrysler would otherwise struggle to meet new carbon-dioxide emissions standards in Europe, the so-called open-pool option available in the European Union allows automakers to group their fleets together to meet targets.

Compliance has gotten harder for automakers as consumers have shifted toward gasoline cars, which emit comparatively more CO2, following Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions scandal that first erupted in 2015.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Getting your competitors to pay for a factory, which you will then use to produce cars aimed at putting them out of business is a narrative that is so farfetched it would be unlikely to ever pass muster as a movie script. Yet, it is reality in the growth killing market designed by the bureaucrats ruling the EU. Is it any wonder the UK voted to leave?



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January 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pandora Soars as Investors Get Early Glimpse of Results

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

The world’s biggest maker of jewelry added roughly a tenth to its market value on Monday after reassuring investors it would reach the upper end of its profit forecast for 2019.

Shares in Pandora A/S rose as much as 12%, as the Copenhagen-based company released some preliminary figures ahead of its Feb. 4 annual results. It now expects its profit margin for 2019 to be in the higher end of the previously guided range of 26-27%.

The update was “definitely good news,” said Per Fogh, an analyst at Sydbank. “Many people had expected Pandora to miss that guidance altogether, so a margin in the upper end of the range shows that Pandora has been able to get its costs under control under its turnaround plan.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This video has been following me around the internet for much of the last month and its touching sentiment may have been enough to help boost sales in the critical fourth quarter for jewelry sales.



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January 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Approves New GMO Soybeans in Positive Sign Amid U.S. Talks

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

China approved a new strain of genetically modified soybeans developed by a U.S. company, a move that could bolster looming trade talks.

The variety approved for import is an insect-resistant soybean from Dow AgroSciences LLC, according to a list published by China’s agriculture ministry on Monday. The nation also approved a new type of GMO papaya and renewed permits for 10 crop varieties, including corn and canola.

China and the U.S. are gearing up to sign the first phase of a trade deal, with the South China Morning Post reporting Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is set to lead a delegation to Washington on Jan. 4. The countries agreed to speed up the approval process for imports of GMO crops as part of efforts to boost bilateral trade.

“The news helps confirm China’s opening of its market to U.S. GMO products and dropping additional non-tariff barriers,“ said John Payne, senior futures and options broker at Daniels Trading in Chicago.

GMO crops have been a source of tension with the U.S. arguing China’s stance isn’t based on science and has been used as a non-tariff barrier. In 2013, China rejected several cargoes of corn and distillers dried grain from the U.S. due to the presence of a GMO variety that took the Asia nation almost five years to approve, said Darin Friedrichs, a senior analyst at INTL FCStone in China.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Phase 1 agreement to at least usher in a hiatus in the trade war means China will be buying a lot more US agricultural products. The challenge is that will bring the total to a record and there are questions about how sustainable that is with the USA’s current production figures. The move to accept more genetically modified grain is reflective of the efforts under way to lower barriers to additional imports.



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December 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Korean Won Surges to Become Asia's Best-Performing Currency

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

South Korea’s won has surged through the pack to become the best-performing Asian currency for December after being the outright worst over the previous 11 months.

The catalysts behind its revival: the agreement of an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China -- South Korea’s two largest trading partners -- and improving local data that suggest that economy is turning the corner following a series of interest-rate cuts.

The won has jumped 1.7% this month after President Donald Trump said Dec. 13 the U.S. and China had reached a phase-one trade deal, helping to limit any further escalation of the dispute that has pummeled emerging-market assets this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors are clearly willing to give a trade deal the benefit of the doubt and that is now being reflected in the outperformance of Asian and European markets relative to Wall Street. The recent weakness of the US Dollar is an additional indication of capital moving out of US assets.



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December 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan's Topix Advances, Set for Best Quarterly Gain Since 2016

This article by Min Jeong Lee and Shingo Kawamoto for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Japan’s Topix index advanced, set for its best quarterly gain since 2016, after the latest economic data out of the U.S. indicated the labor market is solid.

Banks contributed most to the benchmark measure’s Friday gains. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.4% to 23,837.72, as 30 of its components traded without rights to receive the next dividend, including Canon Inc. and Japan Tobacco Inc. Next Monday will be the last trading day of the year.

The Topix extended its gain for the quarter to 9.2%, the biggest such increase in three years. Japanese equities have rallied since September, bolstered by signs of easing tensions between the U.S. and China.

U.S. jobless claims fell to a three-week low of 222,000 in the week ended Dec. 21, in another sign of health in the U.S. economy. Major U.S. equity indexes climbed to fresh records Thursday in holiday-thinned trading.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Yen tends to strengthen when investors are worried and seeking a safe haven. With worries about trade and geopolitics easing, demand for the Yen is moderating and that is helping to stoke demand for equities.



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December 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saut Strategy Soooooooooooooooooo?!

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Jeffrey Saut 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.

It’s all about the consumer. If the consumer is working, they are spending and that helps to keep the economy chugging along. Therefore, unemployment rates remaining well contained are one of the primary factors in ensuring growth remains on an upward slope.  



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December 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

FedEx Slides on Profit Outlook, Pressuring Dow Transports

This note by Nancy Moran and Thomas Black for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.

FedEx Corp. erased its gains for the year after cutting its profit forecast for the second straight quarter as e-commerce puts a squeeze on margins. The stock also weighed on the Dow Jones Transportation Average, where it held the third-biggest weighting prior to Wednesday. FedEx was already reeling this week after Amazon.com Inc. stoked competitive tensions by banning third-party sellers from using the courier’s services, citing poor service.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Fedex is being squeezed between the preferred status of UPS as an Amazon shipper but also by Amazon performing its own deliveries via its own network of shippers. The clear divergence between Fedex and UPS highlights the fact there are some clear winners and losers in the evolving ecommerce shipping landscape.



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December 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rare Royal Thai Ceremony Caps Year When King Flexed His Power

This article by Siraphob Thanthong-Knight for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Thailand continues to face political divisions that in the past led to sometimes bloody demonstrations followed by military coups. Future Forward, the most high-profile opposition party, last week warned protests could erupt again if a slew of legal cases lead to its dissolution by judges.

The reform-minded party is part of an opposition bloc that controls almost half the lower house of parliament, and which has questioned the fairness of the March election and its outcome following five years under a junta.

A pro-military coalition led by former junta chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha took office after the poll with a slim majority. It subsequently faced a complaint of illegitimacy for failing to utter the whole oath of office in a swearing in ceremony in front of Vajiralongkorn.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The more strident participation of the monarchy in Thai political life is certainly a change and suggests potential for a tripartite struggle for power between the military, opposition and king.



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December 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Jobs Are Affected by AI?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Food Inflation Rears Its Head in Chile and Brazil in November

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2020 outlook for markets

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day from a coffee insider

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe Set to Overhaul Its Entire Economy in Green Deal Push

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2020 Outlook What Investors Are Saying

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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November 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia to Fast-Track $2.6 Billion of Infrastructure Projects

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crispr Surges as Gene Editing Shows Promise in Blood Disease

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ford Unveils Electric Mustang SUV to Challenge Tesla Dominance

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Deepens Push for Financial Data With Citigroup Tie-Up

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric cars are changing the cost of driving

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Coffee Areas Seen Drier than Normal in Next 5 Days

This note by Manisha Jha for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here it is in full: 

Drier than average conditions are forecast across the Brazilian coffee region over the next five days, particularly in Cerrado, Marex Spectron said in emailed weather report.

Regions of southern Espirito Santo, southeast Minas Gerais and southeast Sao Paulo are forecast to be wetter than average
In the next five days thereafter, the whole Brazilian coffee region is expected to be wetter than average, except for the northern coffee region, which is expected to be slightly drier than normal

VIETNAM

Typhoon Nakri is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression before it makes landfall over central or eastern Vietnam between Nov. 10 and 11

“It is associated with heavy rain and strong, sustained winds”

There is an anomaly of 10 mm predicted across the Central Highland region over the next five days
Drier than average conditions expected in the northern coffee areas
NOTE: Vietnam Coffee Harvest Threatened by Tropical Storm: Maxar

Eoin Treacy's view -

Arabica coffee is particularly affected by weather conditions in Brazil and the price is also influenced by the outlook for the Real. Meanwhile Robusta coffee is much more dependent on growing conditions in the Vietnamese highlands



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November 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Expedia and TripAdvisor Lead Sharp Sell-Off in Online Travel

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

According to Piper Jaffray, “the most concerning trend” in the quarter was “the reduced efficiency of SEO,” or search engine optimization. Google, part of Alphabet Inc., is favoring its own “Hotel Finder” platform, along with paid links for search results, and this trend could require higher marketing costs.

D.A. Davidson noted that Expedia is exploring alternatives to mitigate its “reliance on search/Google,” but wrote that it sees “no alternatives that will be able to efficiently ‘move the needle’ from a volume perspective anytime soon.” Morgan Stanley wrote that Alphabet is now the “best way to invest in travel.”

TripAdvisor’s adjusted earnings and revenue both missed the lowest analyst estimates. The results “more than disappointed,” Jefferies wrote, reiterating its underperform rating. Analyst Brent Thill added that TripAdvisor’s preliminary 2020 outlook “is not encouraging,” in part because of “continued SEO pressure from Google.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Third party vendors learned a long time ago that the biggest threat from selling on Amazon is being too successful. When sales move the needle enough to pique the attention of some quant, the risk of Amazon deciding to sell the same product, but cheaper, increases exponentially. The rise of the Amazon Basics line of products is a perfect example.



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November 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

On Target November 6th 2019

Thank to Martin Spring for this edition of his letter which may be of interest. Here is a section on the Dollar:

Are we about to see a “currency pact” between the US and China? Investment bank Jefferies’ Hong Kong-based Christopher Wood sees it as a possible significant development in the difficult ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries.

It could give Donald Trump “a face-saving ‘out’ in terms of declaring victory in negotiations, where he has clearly over-estimated his leverage, for the simple reason that the Chinese leader has more tolerance to take pain than does America’s.”

A currency agreement based on a Chinese commitment not to engage in a competitive devaluation of its renminbi makes sense as both Washington and Beijing want the same thing. Neither wants a stronger dollar and a weaker yuan.
Beijing may see such an agreement as a way at least to end an escalation of the trade war or even to end it. It has no desire to see a major devaluation against the dollar. That would encourage accelerating capital outflow – “the Achilles heel of China’s command economy” -- at a time when such pressures are rising because wealthy citizens are keen to achieve international diversification. The outflow reached about $240 billion in the 12 months to the second quarter.

Devaluation would also make Chinese consumers poorer in dollar terms, undermining the policy of seeking to make the economy more driven by domestic consumption. And it would undermine the current successful policy of attracting foreigners to invest in China’s stock and bond markets.

“The last thing China needs right now is a further sharp appreciation of the US dollar – and that also seems the last thing Trump wants.”  

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

China has to manage capital flight risk. The drop below the psychological CNY 7 area earlier this year was a catalyst both for a breakout by the gold price for Chinese investors and the desire to become globally diversified.



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November 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Abe, Moon Break Ice After Worst Japan-South Korea Fight in Years

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

Moon and Abe shared the view that the relationship between South Korea and Japan is important and re-affirmed in principle that issues between the two nations should be resolved via dialogue, the presidential office said in a text message. Abe conveyed Japan’s “basic stance” on bilateral issues in his exchange with Moon, the Tokyo-based Kyodo News agency said separately, citing the Japanese foreign ministry.

The brief, 11-minute meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Bangkok came as a long-simmering feud escalated into a trade-and-security dispute, leading to boycotts of Japanese imports and the decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact. The encounter followed a break-through meeting last month between Abe and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

Moon proposed high-level talks, if needed while Abe said every effort should be made to resolve the feud, Moon’s office said. Abe last met Moon in September 2018 and passed up a chance to meet him for formal talks during Group of 20 events in Osaka in June.

The remarks were the most positive yet since South Korean courts issued a series of rulings last year backing the claims of Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during the country’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Six weeks ago sentiment was skewing rather negatively towards the opinion that acrimonious disputes between neighbours like Japan and South Korea, the UK and EU and competitors like China and the USA were going to get worse, a lot worse. Today peace seems to be breaking out globally and that is removing a risk premium from markets.



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November 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany Hopes for Positive Outcome for EU-U.S. Trade Talks

This note by Birgit Jennen for Bloomberg may be of interest: 

Germany is hopeful for a positive outcome in trade talks between the U.S. and the EU, Economy Ministry spokeswoman Katharina Grave says Monday in a regular government press briefing.

“We need less, not more tariffs,” she said
The government has taken note of comments from U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that tariffs may not be levied on autos imported from the EU
NOTE, Nov. 3: U.S. May Not Need to Put Tariffs on European Cars, Ross Says

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe has been depending on its export sector to soften the impact of fiscal austerity for much of the last decade. That hasn’t worked so well over the last couple of years, with globalisation under threat from the trend towards nationalism and isolationism evident in an increasing number of countries. The prospect of the trade war winding down, at least for now, has the potential to act as a catalyst for investors to take a second look at the region.



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October 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pound Drops as U.K. Lawmakers Back Brexit Deal, Reject Timetable

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

The pound weakened after U.K. lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to fast-track his Brexit accord through parliament.

Britain’s currency dropped against all of its major counterparts, but the losses were contained after the government won an initial vote on the deal. Johnson opened the door to a short extension to his Oct. 31 deadline, saying he would pause legislation and go back to the European Union, after earlier threatening to throw out the deal if lawmakers rejected his plans.

“For now it seems the market is still generally expecting this is a setback, but not a fatal setback, to a negotiated Brexit,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G-10 currency strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “There hasn’t been a rapid uptick in no-deal pricing at this point,” he said, referring to a scenario where the U.K. would leave the EU with no divorce deal.

The U.K. currency had rallied more than 8% from September’s low as Johnson secured an agreement with the EU and then lawmakers then forced him to request an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, reducing that no-deal risk.

Sterling dropped as much as 0.7% after the votes to $1.2869, after rallying Monday to touch $1.3013, the strongest level since May. Against the euro, it fell 0.4% to 86.39 pence.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Parliament today supported the deal which, as expected, excises Northern Ireland economically from the UK. That is not going to be received well by loyalist communities in North Ireland. However, it is likely to be positive for the region’s economy since it will have a toe hold between the UK and the EU and subject to corporate taxes could attract inward investment.



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October 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Monthly Economic Bulletin

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Krungsri Research focusing on South East Asia. Here is a section:

Vietnam’s economy expanded 7.3% YoY in 3Q19, the strongest growth in three quarters. In the nine months to September 2019, the economy expanded 7.0%.

In addition, the central bank recently cut policy interest rate by 25bps to 6.0%, the first cut since October 2017. This would reduce cost of funds, increase liquidity, and support growth in consumption and investment—which together account for around 100% of GDP.

For the rest of the year, the economy will face challenges from a high-base GDP growth rate and rising external pressures from slowing global trade and the US-China trade war. However, Vietnam has resilient domestic demand and authorities have helped to support demand by cutting key interest rates. Hence, we forecast Vietnam’s economic growth at 6.6-6.8% for this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The trade war between the USA and China represents a clear signal that China is quickly pricing out of the low-end manufacturing sector. This is a trend which has been underway for some time but it is now gathering pace as the both the cost of doing business and the geopolitical risk increase.



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October 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Has Arlene Foster Finally Overplayed Her Hand?

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

The Brexit ultras in Johnson’s party, known as the Spartans, may be unionists, but their interests and those of the DUP have never been fully aligned. The Spartans want the hardest Brexit possible, and that’s their ultimate priority, rather than the exact form of customs arrangements between the mainland U.K. and Northern Ireland and how exactly consent is given for that by the DUP.

Johnson’s deal doesn’t look like it crosses any of the Spartans’ red lines. They haven’t said so far whether they’ll back him, but some of the noises ahead of the deal’s announcement were positive. They realize if a deal doesn’t pass now, there’s a chance Brexit may never happen. Secure their support, and it’s possible Johnson could win enough votes to pass his deal, as Bloomberg’s Rob Hutton outlined on Wednesday.

Much depends too on whether Brexit-supporting Labour MPs back a deal.

It may seem hard to imagine what the DUP gains from its opposition, other than burnishing its own Braveheart reputation by holding out. But the DUP plays a long game. They’re asking themselves whether the new arrangements, which include customs and regulatory checks on the Irish Sea border, will over time make it easier for Northern Ireland to drift toward unification with Ireland. They’re thinking about how unionist voters will regard their support for a deal that doesn’t give them an effective veto over the new arrangements, as Johnson’s original proposal did. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is going to be a monumental task to get Boris Johnson’s deal through parliament without the assistance of the DUP. Unfortunately, the machinations of who votes in favour of the deal are unlikely to be purely in the national interest. Everyone knows an election is coming and parliamentarians are keenly aware that how they vote in this weekend’s question will probably come back to haunt them later.



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October 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elizabeth Warren's potential Presidential candidacy

Thanks to a subscriber for this snippet of an article by Niall Ferguson for the Sunday times.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Medicare for all is a laudable aspiration, but has the potential to be murderously difficult to implement. The healthcare sector employs millions of people and accounts for 18% of the US economy. Every doctor and dentist’s office in America have at least one person handling insurance claims, collecting co-pays, sending out bills etc. With a fully public option most of these administrative staff would be surplus to requirement. In other words, the clear risk from a fully public healthcare option would be recession even if the long-term benefit of cutting back on waste is a net positive.



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October 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Midcap British Stocks Soar On Move Toward Brexit Talks

This article by Steve Goldstein for MarketWatch may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The midcap FTSE 250 rose 3.5%, its best single-day percentage gain in more than three years, as European leaders indicated there was progress toward reaching an agreed deal with the U.K. on leaving the European Union. The European Union says it has agreed with the United Kingdom to "intensify" Brexit negotiations in a belated attempt to reach a divorce deal ahead of Oct. 31. A number of FTSE 250 components sported double-digit gains, including bank CYBG, building materials distributor Grafton Group and home improvement retailer Travis Perkins. The FTSE 100 however saw much smaller gains, of just 0.7%, because many of those components record revenue in dollars.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Pound has staged one its largest two-day rallies in years and that is pressuring the shares of companies that rely on overseas earnings. The divergence in performance between the FTSE-100 and the FTSE-250 highlights the benefit to domestically oriented companies from a resolution of the Brexit conundrum.



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October 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S., China Said to Reach Partial Deal, Could Set Up Trade Truce

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

The U.S. and China reached a partial agreement Friday that would broker a truce in the trade war and lay the groundwork for a broader deal that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping could sign later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of the deal, China would agree to some agricultural concessions and the U.S. would provide some tariff relief. The pact is tentative and subject to change as Trump prepares to sit down with China’s Vice Premier Liu He later Friday.

Stocks jumped Friday after the news. Equities had advanced globally earlier in the day amid growing conviction that the U.S. and China would negotiate a trade truce. Trump tweeted earlier Friday that “good things” were happening in the meetings -- and that if the countries did reach an agreement, he would be able to sign it without a lengthy congressional approval process.

On Thursday and earlier Friday, Liu and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held the first senior-level discussions between Washington and Beijing since a previous agreement fell apart in May and tariffs were raised in the months after. The world’s two biggest economies have been trying for the past year and a half to settle their trade dispute.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The words from Bill Clinton’s early ‘90s election campaign must be ringing in President Trump’s ears, “It’s the economy, stupid”. There is a clear rationale for pressuring China on trade but is it worth losing the election for? The hardest hit parts of the US economy just about all voted for President Trump in the last election and have been specifically targeted by Chinese tariffs. Little wonder then that agricultural imports are front and centre in whatever deal is to be announced. With the election less than 13 months away it’s time to at least put the trade war on hold and let animal spirits loose. 



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October 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Market Internals

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have to admit I don’t look at the internals of the market all that often because it is the trend rather than the day to day moves which lend some insight into the health of the market. I thought it might be useful to look at some of the most common measures to discern if any clues to market direction are evident.

The Total Number of New 52 Week Highs on the NYSE Index is coming back down towards the lows December 2018 and towards the end of 2015. The significant spike on the upside in late 2017 was an anomaly suggesting a period of underperformance ahead, but generally lows are better predictors of market bottoms than spikes are of tops.



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October 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New Kind of Recession Threat Presents Problem for Powell and Fed

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

The unusual nature of the forces at play -- and the fact that many of them are geopolitical and emanate from abroad -- makes it more difficult for policy makers to decide how far to go in easing credit.

There’s even a question of how effective rate cuts will be in an economy where business executives fear such dire developments as the breakup of global supply chains.

Powell is expected to deliver his latest thinking on the outlook when he speaks to the National Association for Business Economics in Denver at 2:30 p.m. U.S. East Coast time on Tuesday. He said last week that despite some risks, the U.S. economy is in a “good place,’’ and that the Fed’s job is “to keep it there.’’

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mrs. Treacy’s containers arrived from China over the last few days and I spent most of this morning at Los Angeles port. I have been going to down to the customs warehouses twice a year for four years to help out in the business but also to get a feel for what activity is like at one of the country’s busiest ports of entry.



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October 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Markets Don't Want to Hear Goldman's Happy Talk

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

Multiple surveys show that traders and investors see the U.S.-China trade war as the biggest risk facing markets. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest monthly poll of global fund managers, released in mid-September, revealed that the number of respondents who said trade tensions were the biggest danger outstripped by far those who cited ineffective monetary policy and the potential bursting of the bond bubble. In her first major address as head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday that the global economy is in a synchronized slowdown, in part due to trade uncertainty. Also on Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business sentiment index fell to near the lowest level of Donald Trump’s presidency. Even more notable was that the part of the index measuring “uncertainty” plunged to its lowest since February 2016.  “More owners are unable to make a statement confidently, good or bad, about the future of economic conditions,” the group said, with 30% of respondents reporting “negative effects” from tariffs. To cut to the chase, if businesses can’t forecast with any confidence, how can investors or strategists?

U.S. and China trade negotiators are scheduled to meet on Thursday to resume talks. What’s discouraging is that instead of making conciliatory comments, each side seems to be hardening their stances. Chinese officials said Monday that what isn’t on the table from China’s perspective — and never will be — are changes to its laws to protect foreign intellectual property. Later that day, the U.S. placed eight of China’s technology giants on a blacklist over alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities. In response, China hinted that it might retaliate. Then the news broke that the Trump administration is moving ahead with discussions around possible restrictions on portfolio flows into China. None of this sounds like either side is ready to make a deal.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Political rhetoric amplifying ahead of the start of negotiations have been a trend that has evolved over the last year. Each of the other occasions has ended in disappointment and the market is now pricing in a similar conclusion to the upcoming talks.



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October 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

German Fiscal Stimulus Already Creeping In, Whatever Merkel Says

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

The government considers it’s still not clear whether Germany will plunge into a full-blown recession and, as a result, the full array of remedies may not need to be deployed.

Germany’s five leading research institutes slashed their forecasts for economic growth this year and next, citing trade tensions and Brexit weighing on German industry. GDP is to grow 1.1% in 2020 from a previous forecast of 1.8%, and 0.5% this year from an earlier prediction of 0.8%.

Traditionally, Germany shifts to high alert whenever the global economy looks to be slowing -- the country’s dependence on exports means that it tends to head south with the rest of the world. But with the domestic market still relatively robust and the ECB renewing monetary stimulus, Merkel’s economic team judges that this time the path toward recession is less certain.

On the down side, a prolonged trade war could eventually lead to a much bigger fallout than expected, according to another scenario being considered. That spurred the government to gradually increase investments and bolster the labor market as a preemptive and precautionary measure.

Finance Minister Scholz told ARD TV on Wednesday that economic forecasts are pointing toward a recovery and that there is currently no need for a stimulus program.

“We are well prepared because we have good financial resources and can react, should it really come to an economic crisis but so far it’s just slower growth,” Scholz said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The bond market has been signallng for a while that all is not well in the global economy. The fact that just about all of Germany’s sovereign debt is trading with a negative yield is as much about the outlook for global growth as it is about the ECB’s negative interest rate policy. The Eurozone has been relying on the strength of the export sector to pull growth higher but the slowdown is exposing the absence of a clear domestic demand story to offset the slowdown in demand.

While clear signalling for the end of the austerity program remains unlikely, there is evidence of fiscal laxity creeping in all over the continent. Italy, France and Spain are already engaged in fiscal stimulus and it is only a matter of time before Germany deploys its balance sheet to support the economy.



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October 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Seven-Year Auto Loan: America's Middle Class Can't Afford Its Cars

This article by Ben Eisen and Adrienne Roberts for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Just 18% of U.S. households had enough liquid assets to cover the cost of a new car, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of 2016 data from the Fed’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, a proportion that hasn’t changed much in recent years.

Even a conservative car loan often won’t do it. The median-income U.S. household with a four-year loan, 20% down and a payment under 10% of gross income—a standard budget—could afford a car worth $18,390, excluding taxes, according to an analysis by personal-finance website Bankrate.com.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla is likely to introduce a car with a battery capable of lasting for one million miles of driving. Having a car for long enough to come close to even a fraction of that distance could justify taking out a seven-year loan to fund the purchase but that misses the point. The aim is for those batteries to go into autonomous vehicles.



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September 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Peloton Deepens IPO Slump in 3rd-Worst Unicorn Debut Since '08

This article by Crystal Tse and Hailey Waller for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Peloton Interactive Inc. fell as much as 9.5% Thursday after raising $1.16 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, becoming the latest unprofitable startup to fail to win over investors in its trading debut.

Peloton’s shares opened at $27 and were down 7.2% to $26.90 at 12:38 p.m. in New York trading, giving the company a value $7.5 billion. The fitness startup sold 40 million shares for $29 each on Wednesday, after marketing them for $26 to $29.

It marks the third-worst trading debut in 10 years in the U.S. for companies that have raised at least $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The IPO also comes as investors have been rattled by the sudden disintegration of WeWork’s plan to go public in September.

Peloton Chief Executive Officer John Foley said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he had “some disappointment” about the reception but was confident in his company’s prospects.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The one point that seemed to get very little commentary in the lead up to this IPO was just how fad-prone the fitness industry is. Soul Cycle and spinning are all the rage at the moment. I personally go to at least two, if not three, hybrid cycling and toning classes a week. After 18 months of these classes I am starting to find them monotonous and that is a big challenge for a company that is trying to sell a range of workouts via phone or its enormously overpriced pieces of equipment. I just can’t see why someone would pay $40 to Peloton for online classes when they can pay the same or less at an LAFitness without the capital expense and space requirement of the exercise equipment.



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September 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sturdy Sales, Confidence Show U.S. Consumer Holds Up as Pillar

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

Spurred by a resilient labor market and income gains, the consumer remains the chief source of firepower for economic growth that’s slowed amid fragile global demand, uncertainty surrounding trade policy and lackluster factory output. The report suggests another solid quarter of household consumption, which grew in the April-June period at the fastest pace since 2014.

“At a time when recession risk dominates most economic discussions, the strength of the U.S. consumer is among the more compelling examples of an economy that is still firing on all cylinders,” Tim Quinlan, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, said in a report.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The consumer has been largely shielded from the inflationary pressures of the trade war by the lack of duties on imported apparel and some other manufactured goods. That is now changing with new tariffs on these goods being implemented and the wholly domestic factor of rising health insurance costs pushing inflation higher.



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September 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Factors or Fundamentals, Quant Tremor Is Field Day for the Geeks

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

You wouldn’t know it from benchmarks, but beneath a tranquil surface violent swings are lashing traders along obscure fault lines. Companies like real-estate firms that rose the most in 2019 are plunging, and some that have trailed are being pushed out front. It’s been a mild reckoning for hedge funds and others who have bet on the status quo persisting.

Amid all the churn has been a renewed focus on a quantitative concept known as factor investing, which groups companies not by industry but traits such as how fast their prices move or profits rise. A question gaining currency in the past few days is whether these categories are just handy descriptions of twists in the market -- or are at some level guiding them.

“It seems very mechanical right now,” said John Swarr, investment specialist at Penn Mutual Asset Management, which has $27 billion under management. “If you look within some of these stocks that are being hit the hardest, some are in much better shape than others and yet they’re all being affected similarly,” he said. “It does feel like it’s a rules-based rotation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The total of negative yields bonds was at $17 trillion for a brief time at the end of August and has since contracted to $14.3 trillion. That’s a big more in a little less than two weeks.

The failure of the German government to sell a full allocation of bonds and failed auctions at the US Treasury in August were probably the catalysts for sapping investor demand for bonds globally. The unwinding of leveraged long positions now has the scope for meaningfully move bond yields higher with clear upward dynamics evident across multiple markets.



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August 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on how to trade a bubble and its impact on gold

What is likely to happen to the price of precious metals if a bubble in equities arises for all the reasons that you have stated. Precious metals appear to fall each day that equities perform well. Which sectors/countries are the likely leaders If there is an equities bubble or will we need to wait for the charts to tell us?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold has rallied impressively to complete a six-year base. The catalyst for that move was the perception the ECB is about to move interest rates below zero. That spurred a massive move in bonds that has created a situation where $17 trillion in nominal bonds are trading with negative yields in Europe and Japan.



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August 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBA Says Household Debt Could Complicate Future Rate Decisions

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

Reserve Bank of Australia comments in 2019/20 corporate plan released on website Friday.

“Over 2019/20 to 2022/23, the structure of the Australian economy will continue to evolve and economic shocks -- which, by definition, are not forecastable -- will occur. Movements in asset values and leverage may be more important for economic developments than in the past given the already high levels of debt on household balance sheets”

“Especially in the context of weak growth in household income, high debt levels could complicate future monetary policy decisions by making the economy less resilient to shocks”

“The flexible medium-term inflation target is the centerpiece of the monetary policy framework in Australia and has been well established for more than two decades. Since the early 1990s, it has provided the foundation for the bank to achieve its monetary policy objectives by providing an anchor for inflation expectations. The bank will remain alert to new developments that may have a bearing on the framework for monetary policy”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Australian Dollar remains in a medium-term downtrend, moving to a new closing low today. With energy and iron-ore prices declining and the domestic housing market in a parlous condition the RBA may be required to embark on the same counter deflationary measures other developed markets have endured over the last decade.



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August 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stock dividends are yielding more than the 30-year Treasury bond for the first time in a decade

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

For the first time since 2009, S&P 500′s dividend is yielding more than 30-year Treasury bonds.

The only other similar inversion in the past four decades came in March 2009 — a low point of the financial crisis, according to data from Bespoke Investment Group. But it might bode well for stocks as investors have few other options to find yields.

“For an investor looking to hold something for the long term, it makes equities relatively attractive,” says Bespoke’s Paul Hickey. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The contraction in government bond yields, globally, have driven demand for higher yielding assets. It has been one of the primary factors in containing risk in the high yield sector and it is also likely to continue to represent a major factor in the ability of the primary indices to continue to hold in the region of their peaks.



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August 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Longest Parliament Suspension in Decades Tests U.K. Constitution

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

With just over two months until Johnson’s self-imposed deadline to leave the European Union with or without a deal on Oct. 31, every day is going to count. And since Johnson wants a new Queen’s Speech to set out his government’s legislative agenda, which is usually followed by five days of debate, it will be more like two weeks of parliamentary time lost.

While suspensions of as much as two months were common in the 19th century, most prorogations of Parliament in recent decades have lasted for less than a week. Johnson’s suspension for 35 days will be the longest since the 1970s, according to the House of Commons library.

The U.K. doesn’t have a written constitution and, within reason, governments can do whatever they like as long as they have a parliamentary majority. But given that a number of ex-ministers -- including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Theresa May’s Justice Secretary David Gauke, have already attacked his move, that is far from guaranteed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Exiting the EU and retaking the ability to set its own rules and regulations is a once in a generation opportunity to recast the UK’s economy as a pro-growth engine for innovation and trade. Grasping that opportunity is the only way the UK will make a success of Brexit, so it is imperative that the raft of measures proposed in September is not simply a commitment to double down on spending without a plan to grow.



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August 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Homeowners are sitting on a record amount of cash, but they're not really tapping it

This article by Dina Olick for CNBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

So-called tappable equity grew by more than $335 billion during the quarter. The total is 26% more than the mid-2006 peak of $5 trillion. Roughly 45 million mortgage holders have excess equity, and half of them have mortgage rates higher than 4.25%, making a refinance not only possible but attractive. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now around 3.6%. The majority of these borrowers also have top credit scores.

Falling mortgage rates over the past several months have caused a surge in overall refinance activity, but despite the record housing wealth, homeowners have been highly conservative about taking cash out. In 2006, 89% of refinances were cash-out, according to Freddie Mac. In 2012, when home prices crashed, that share dropped to 12%. But even now, with prices back above their previous peak and mortgage rates much lower, cash-out refinances are just 61% of the total pool of refinances.

“I think you’re seeing a little bit of reluctance both on the side of lenders and on the side of borrowers,” said Andy Walden, director of market research at Black Knight. “If you look at lending, guidelines are a little bit tighter than they were back in 2006, but even given those lending restrictions, I think you’re seeing more conservative behavior on behalf of homeowners as well, as folks have the remembrance of the financial crisis in the rearview mirror.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was at an end-of-summer party on Saturday night and conversation turned to mortgage refinancing. About half of the people I was talking with had used low rates over the last 18 months to refinance at about 3.5% while the rest had not done so yet. Mortgage rates have done a round trip from 3.5% to 5% and back again over the last year and there is still scope for the rate to move lower. That is going to put additional cash in the pockets of the people most likely to invest in the stock market.



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