Investment Themes - Global Middle Class

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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cyborg 2.0

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

 



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February 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Chart Library Performance Filter

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

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

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

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

2. Is that expectation actually being reflected in sector performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on investable ideas

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

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

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

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

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

Hope this feedback helps and thanks again.

And

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review February 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the dynamic works in reverse, too.

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DoubleLine Round Table 2021

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

Section 2: Financial Markets Part 1 and Part 2

Section 3: Best Ideas

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Israeli vaccinations

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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

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

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



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January 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on positioning and evidence of a mania:

I wanted to provide some input to the question you asked subscribers today on how we are invested and cash levels.

I am close to 70 years old and just retired. My investment portfolio is my pension which comprises stocks and property. For me, within my own fairly conservative criteria I am close to fully invested in the stock component of my pension. In the final 4 months of last year I invested additional cash in FTM themes such as  emerging markets, metals and mining and renewables. A large portion went to South East Asia where I have built some knowledge over the years and saw real value, often with good dividend yields. The remainder of my portfolio is in a portfolio of US stocks which I have managed for some years but the contents of which I rotate as trends change. A small percentage is in continental Europe plus UK Investment Trusts the latter following FTM themes. I have additional cash available which I might invest in stocks if the market declines providing a buying opportunity or I may invest in property if a suitable opportunity arises. But the cash will be invested either in stocks or property  within the coming year.

 

I also maintain a cash or cash equivalent position amounting to several years living and recreation costs which will never be invested in stocks. Maybe overly conservative but I’ve been investing from the mid 1980’s, when I first subscribed to FM, and this way I can sleep at night knowing I wont need to sell assets to fund living costs.  

And

I am usually about 20-25% in cash. Now about 50% and I almost feel like I should be 75-80% in cash.  Just don't see why the world is so much better now vs 1 year ago today pre-covid-other than low cost of money.  Seems like a lot of pent-up demand and fear not to get in has made the market frothy...kinda like the run on toilet paper......

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks to a number of subscribers for responding. The responses so far tell me that while there is evidence of froth in the market, we are not at a point where there is a risk of an imminent end to the reflation. Many investors went 100% to cash in the summer and are still only beginning to get back into the market.



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January 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Signaling No Change in China's Course, Xi Warns Against Cold War

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

“To build small circles and start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruptions, or sanctions, or to create isolation or estrangement, will only push the world into division and even confrontation,” he said.

Xi’s speech had been widely anticipated for the tone it would set for relations between the world’s biggest economies over the next four years. Though Xi did not name Biden by name, many of his comments were clearly targeted at the new U.S. administration.

Xi repeated many of the same talking points about multilateralism and “win-win” outcomes that he deployed in his last address to Davos four years ago, days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, but he also signaled that he does not intend to change course in the face of U.S. pressure.

“Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other,” Xi said, warning against imposing a “hierarchy on human civilization” or forcing one’s own systems onto others.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This all sounds very reasonable and is a perfect example of China’s efforts to exude a façade of reasonableness. Perhaps it would be better to measure China’s actions in the four years since Xi’s last speech to Davos where much the same call to embrace appeasement was made.



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January 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Don't Bank On the Glut of Savings Being Spent

This article by Gary Shilling may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

From a broader perspective, inflation results from demand exceeding supply, but since globalization commenced three decades ago, it’s been an excess supply world. Asian countries are big producers of exports they send to the West, but they’re weak consumers. China’s consumer spending is just 43% of GDP, compared with 68% for the U.S. So the resulting Asian saving glut generates price-depressing excess supply. Barring a tariff wall that seals off imports from Asia, any revival of U.S. consumer spending wouldn’t be big enough to eliminate global excess supply. And President Joe Biden is less zealous on the trade war with China than former President Donald Trump.

Finally, note that some investors aren’t anticipating surging inflation and interest rates. Technology-related and other growth stocks have low earnings yields, the inverse of price-to-earnings ratios, which are justified by low interest rates. The theory is that their present stock values equal the discounted value of future earnings, so the lower that discounting interest rate, the more their equities are worth
today.

Earnings of $10 in 10 years hence is worth $9.05 today with a 1% discounting rate, but only $5.58 at 6%. So if investors expected a leap in inflation and interest rates, they’d probably be dumping growth stocks now.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Is it different this time? That’s the big question for anyone who has been monitoring the markets for the last few decades. Every time we see a recovery from a major decline, there is evidence of inflationary pressures beginning to rise. In 40 years, they have not proved to have staying power.



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January 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Weekly Warm-up: More Stimulus May Mean Less for Markets

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The US government expects to issue about $1 trillion more bonds than the Fed currently expects to buy in 2021. Without a clear move to boost the amounts committed to the bond buying program yields will inevitably rise. It’s a simple supply and demand argument. Of course, no one really believes the Fed will fail in its commitment to provide assistance while unemployment is well above trend.



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January 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the early stages of a secular bull market.

Until the beginning of last year you often spoke on the theme of the early stages of a secular bull market. David had begun speaking about it as long as 4 years ago. But with the onset of the pandemic, you have been largely silent about it. Has it stalled or, in your view, already peaked?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this important question. In October 2008, I remember sitting at my desk and looking at the calculation that the S&P500 was sitting on the widest overextension relative to the 200-day ever. Acceleration is always a trend ending and the crash signalled the beginning of the bottoming process. By the time Wall Street reached its nadir in March 2009 many instruments were well off their lows and by the end of the year the leaders were making new highs.

Gold, commodities, ASEAN and technology took off. Of these, technology is the only one which had uninterrupted staying power all the way through the bull market to date.  

I started writing Crowd Money in 2011. At the time a host of big international companies, with global franchises, that dominate their niches were breaking out of long-term ranges. It was a clear signal that a new secular bull market was underway. By the time the book was published in 2013, it was still a minority view that a new bull market was underway.



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January 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Carry Trades

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is nothing in the financial markets that can’t be made better with leverage. That’s the foundation most trading operations are based on. One of the most common trade patterns is to source cheap funding in a currency which is depreciating in value. That way when it comes to paying back the loan, you get to keep the profit on the currency trade as well as any gain from the assets you invested in.

Japan’s zero interest rates made it an ideal candidate for carry trades but the propensity for the Yen to strengthen meant that short yen carry trades tended to be rather volatile. It was common in the decade up to the introduction of Abenomics in early 2012 for unwinding of carry trades to contribute to profit taking across global markets.

As interest rates have trended towards zero across the world the opportunity to access cheap funding in a wide array of currencies has never been greater. The challenge today is to find the currency most likely to decline versus assets with high growth and yield potential.



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January 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on financial repression:

Thanks so much for the terrifically informative analysis that you continue to provide. The quality of your work is simply jaw dropping at times. But I wonder if you could please clarify one thing. Would you mind defining more clearly what you mean by the term “financial repression”? I can certainly search this, but I’d like to know what it means to you.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and I’m delighted you enjoy the service. The term “financial repression” is emotionally charged because of its historic significance. After World War II the US government paid back its war debt by inflating it away. That was a deliberate policy where interest rates were held at a low level for a prolonged period, taxes were raised and inflation eroded the debt over decades. From an investors perspective it was akin to the government reaching into your pocket and taking your money.



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January 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia May Raise Wheat-Export Tax, Stoking Grain Supply Worries

This article by Megan Durisin and Yuliya Fedorinova for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Russia may almost double a planned levy on wheat exports and impose new restrictions on barley and corn in an effort to curb food prices, heightening supply risks for global grain markets.

Officials in the world’s top wheat shipper will meet Friday to review grain-export duties and may increase a planned tax on shipments to 45 euros ($55) per ton from March 15, a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry said. That compares with a 25-euro levy approved last month for sales from mid-February through June, as well as a quota on grain shipments.

The moves come after President Vladimir Putin’s call to cool food-price inflation because of sharp increases for staples like bread and sunflower oil last month. The threat of heightened restrictions from a major exporter helped stoke wheat futures in Chicago and Paris, and adds to concerns of crop
protectionism as grain prices rise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Export restrictions might curb domestic food price inflation but will exacerbate it everywhere else. We are on the front end of significant commodity price inflation. The three most important food commodities are wheat, soybeans and rice. All have completed base formations. No one single factor creates more social unrest than a surge in basic food commodities. The high cost of bread in Tunisia was once of the causal factors in the origin of Arab Spring. Considering the extend of social unrest seen in the last 12 months it is quite likely we are going to see significant unrest in 2021 if food prices continue to rise.



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January 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Israel Was the Perfect Test Case for Vaccines

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

All Israelis are insured by one of four national health maintenance organizations (HMOs), whose clinics and hospitals are spread throughout the country. They are competitive, but the price of membership, co-payments and treatments are regulated and uniform. So is the subsidized “basket” of medication, procedures and treatments. These are decided by a national board of experts. Medication is bought by the government and centrally distributed via a single company. All medical records are online, available to hospitals, doctors and the Ministry of Health.

This makes Israel especially attractive to Pfizer and other vaccine producers. HMOs know who has been vaccinated and in what order of priority. They know who has returned for a booster shot and who has opted out. Israel knows the ages, medical conditions and other demographic information of a heterogeneous population. And all this data is held by the Ministry of Health. It is a treasure for testing efficacy of the vaccine among various groups and the relative amount of vaccine needed for efficacy. Israel will be likely to be the first country to know the level of coverage needed to achieve herd immunity.

Distribution has been a model of efficiency. Vaccinations happen seven days a week in most places and even late at night. While it is a civilian operation, the army is vaccinating its own soldiers and helping with tracking and tracing infection and some logistics. 

Israel’s government has left people guessing about the number of vaccines it has received, what it has paid for them or what supply is coming. We know that 2 million people have received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine and will receive their second dose starting this week. According to Netanyahu, an unspecified “millions more” are in the pipeline. Last week, Moderna, whose chief medical officer is an Israeli, sent an initial shipment of 100,000 doses. Israel is also working on a homemade vaccine that could be ready by the summer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Israel, with a small population and abundant supplies of vaccines, is reaping the benefits of being a first mover. Its economy will be among the first to recover from the pandemic. That puts it in the company of a relatively small number of Asian countries which have come through the pandemic with little in the way of economic hardship.



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January 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Governance

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no way the storming of the Capitol can be justified. Overwhelming an unsuspecting police cordon and disrespecting the nation’s seat of power is an affront no government is going to tolerate. That’s on top of what impact it has had on the vast majority of people who live their lives by a code of common decency.

By the same token, riots where private businesses are destroyed, police stations set light and people afraid for the integrity of their homes should also be condemned.

The problem with the polarization of political discourse in the USA is neither side is willing to sharply criticize the actions of their adherents. To do so would be political or busines suicide.

We are currently being treated to commentary fomenting fear that there will be a great deal of unrest at the upcoming Presidential inauguration. It’s a significant risk but it is far from the only form of intimidation.

My doorbell rang on Saturday night while we were sitting down to dinner. I thought it was an Amazon delivery so I went out to see what it was. Two BLM activists were waiting and informed me they were collecting donations. I told them we were in the middle of dinner and closed the door. They left chanting Black Lives Matter.

One way of looking at this encounter is that it was innocuous. Another is that they were indeed innocently collecting donations for their cause. Another is that they were canvasing the leafy suburb to identify who supports them and who doesn’t. For Mrs. Treacy’s part, she saw correlations with the Cultural Revolution.

The challenge is that the rioters during the summer threatened they would come into the neighborhoods. It never happened, but when fund raisers come knocking on the door it feels like they are after protection money. I think our days in Los Angeles are numbered. This is not the city we moved to seven years ago.

President-elect Biden says he wants to heal the country. That’s a tall order but regardless of its success it will mean throwing money at the problem. There is clear potential the USA is now moving towards formal adoption of MMT.



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January 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Polar Vortex Stirs, Deep Freeze Threatens U.S. and Europe

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

Technically, the polar vortex refers to a band of winds that encircle the Arctic and keep the cold locked far to the North. But with that temperature spike, known as sudden stratospheric warming, the band can buckle, allowing frigid air to head south. Gas traders used to call it the “polar pig.”

That could mean chills anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, though this year it’s likely to end up in the U.S. according to Ryan Truchelut, president of Weather Tiger LCC. A wave of deep cold could give the Great Lakes and East Coast their first real blast of frigid winter weather, along with a storm pattern that delivers snow storms as well.

It will be a big shift for the U.S., where winter has been a bit lackluster so far. In New York, January readings have been 5.1 degrees above normal through Thursday, and Chicago has been 7.2 degrees warmer for the month.

Still, there’s no guarantee it will happen. While a sudden stratospheric warming usually leads to a burst of frigid weather, sometimes the clockwork of gears in the atmosphere doesn’t deliver.

“Many times in the past, the forecast for a cold weather event across the country resulted in a false alarm,” said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist with the Energy Weather Group LLC.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Weather is indeed fickle so no one can be sure that the expected wintry weather will in fact arrive. However, it is worth considering that the global economy is attempting to recover and delivery drivers are more a part of the fabric of the economy than ever before.



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January 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Fever Has Broken, Stability is Coming

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Greg Valliere for AGF which may be of interest. Here is a section:

AN INEPT INSURRECTION FAILED, and there will be an orderly transition of power on Jan. 20; even Trump pledged as much early this morning. He probably won’t be ousted but his legacy will be forever stained, and his sycophants — Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, etc. — will never recover.

THE TEMPERATURE WILL LOWER SOON: For the next few days, there will be speculation about removing Trump, largely out of fear over what he may do — especially geopolitically — in his final two weeks. And there will be questions about why the Capitol Hill police were so pathetically caught off guard yesterday. But a change is coming . . .

Eoin Treacy's view -

Stoking the mob is always tempting for populists on both sides of the spectrum.

That was abundantly clear in the mass protests, looting and destruction of public property over the summer. Those protests have since abated because the organisers achieved their goal of overthrowing the Trump administration.

The big question now is whether the mob seeking to overthrow the new Democrat controlled government will be chastened by yesterday’s events. My intuition tells me they represent a significant demographic and will form a significant portion of the new opposition, regardless of whether Donald Trump is banned on Twitter/Facebook.



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January 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Banks, Small Caps Power Stock Rally as Tech Drops

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

Investors poured into financial assets that benefit from a stronger economy after Democrats looked set to take control of Congress, potentially unleashing a torrent of federal spending to revive growth.

Banks and energy producers led gains in the S&P 500 as the Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies climbed 3%. The Nasdaq 100 fell as traders sold out of high-flying stocks such as the Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The Dow Jones Industrial Average outperformed.

Democrats claimed one of the two Senate seats contested in Georgia and led in the other tight race. Two wins would give President-elect Joe Biden’s party control of Congress and smooth the path for some of his spending policies. That’s fueled bets that increased stimulus will boost the economy and spark inflation. The 10-year Treasury yield powered past 1% for the first time since March, and the dollar fluctuated after earlier weakening toward a six-year low.

“The growth-into-value rotation may be reinforced after the results of the Georgia Senate election amid the prospect of a higher fiscal stimulus bill and steeper yield curve, which would benefit banks and other non-tech companies,” David Bahnsen, chief investment officer of the Bahnsen Group in Newport Beach, California, wrote in a note to clients.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Control of the Senate will give the Democrats greater power to remake policy. It won’t all be plain sailing since such a slim majority will require total unanimity but it certainly means they will have an easier time passing spending measures. If debt financing and Modern Monetary Theory were likely before, they are doubly so today.



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January 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wealth Taxes Are Going Global, From California to Germany

This article by Ben Steverman and Benjamin Stupples for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Driving the idea’s revival is the need for revenue. The pandemic has devastated government finances around the world, boosting spending by trillions of dollars, from India to Canada, while slashing tax collections.

The situation in the U.K. — which now faces its widest fiscal deficit since World War II — has brought the idea of taxing wealth back into the discussion. An independent commission last month called for a one-off levy to raise about 260 billion pounds ($354 billion) — more than a third of the U.K.’s tax receipts in the latest financial year. Raising that much money would require taxing individual wealth above 500,000 pounds at 1% annually for five years, affecting 8 million people.

“There’s been quite a lot of murmurings about reforming existing taxes on wealth, but everyone’s just effectively treated a wealth tax as being off the ‘serious’ agenda,” said
London School of Economics assistant law professor Andy Summers, one of the report’s authors. “Partly, that’s because barely anyone in the U.K. has studied it since the 1970s.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wealthy individuals represent a ripe target for taxation. So do wealthy companies with hundreds of billions sitting in cash. The time to look at trusts, real assets like gold or property, gifting to children, deferring income, options programs, internationally diversifying where wealth is held and potentially looking at alternative accommodations was yesterday.



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January 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China-EU investment deal: who's the real winner after seven years of negotiations?

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

Some said the deal was premature and could come at the cost of a reboot of the transatlantic alliance Biden has set as a priority in his multilateral approach to countering China.

George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre, said the EU appeared to have conceded leverage for seemingly very little in return.

The agreement was unlikely to become a platform for the deepening of EU-China relations or even pave the way to a free-trade agreement, but it was a good move for China “without having to make major concessions commercially or any on labour standards and rights, which the EU is normally very robust about”, he said.

According to Gal Luft, co-director of Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think tank in Washington, the EU’s move was a deliberate attempt to take advantage of the power vacuum in the US.

“Concluding it in the interregnum period ensures that the outgoing administration will have no time to penalise Brussels while the new one will have no chance to weigh in,” he said.

“This shows that the EU, despite its misgivings about China’s behaviour and policies, wants to remain an independent player and is unwilling to be dragged into the US-China power struggle.” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The last couple of months of 2020 ushered in three significant trade deals. That gives those of us who think globalisation is under threat something to contemplate. If we consider exactly what these agreements mean, it supports rather than negates the view we are entering a multipolar world.



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January 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Byron Wien and Joe Zidle Announce the Ten Surprises of 2021

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

5. The economy develops momentum on its own because of pent-up demand, and depressed hospitality and airline stocks become strong performers. Fiscal and monetary policy remain historically accommodative. Nominal economic growth for the full year exceeds 6% and the unemployment rate falls to 5%. We begin the longest economic cycle in history, surpassing the cycle that lasted from 2010 to 2020.

6. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury openly embrace Modern Monetary Theory as their accommodative policies continue. As long as growth exceeds the rate of inflation, deficits don’t seem to matter. Because inflation increases modestly, gold rallies and cryptocurrencies gain more respect during the year.

7. Even as energy company executives cut estimates for long-term growth, near-term opportunities are increasing. The return to “normal” increases both industrial activity and mobility, and the price of West Texas Intermediate oil rises to $65/bbl. Rig counts increase and energy high yield bonds rally soundly. Energy stocks are among the best performers in 2021.

8. The equity market broadens out. Stocks beyond health care and technology participate in the rise in prices. “Risk on” is not without risk and the market corrects almost 20% in the first half, but the S&P 500 trades at 4,500 later in the year. Cyclicals lead defensives, small caps beat large caps and the “K” shaped equity market recovery unwinds. Big cap tech is the source of liquidity, and the stocks are laggards for the year.

9. The surge in economic growth causes the 10-year Treasury yield to rise to 2%. The yield curve steepens, but a concomitant increase in inflation keeps real rates near zero. The Fed wants the strength in housing and autos to continue. As a result, it extends the duration of bond purchases in order to prevent higher rates at the long end of the curve from choking off credit to consumers and businesses.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If we contrast this list of potential surprises, I get the feeling they are less ambitious than in years past. I have heard the rumour from many quarters that President Trump is planning to set up his own TV station and there is plenty of speculation that the entire effort to overturn the election is to create a sound footing for a re-run at the title in 2024.



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January 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rolls-Royce to Shelf Next-Generation Propulsion Engine After Testing Ends in 2022

This note from the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC will shelf its next-generation UltraFan engine program and halt investment until a new aircraft is launched as the industry grapples with low demand for new airplanes, the Financial Times reports.

--The British engineering giant will finish testing the new engine in 2022 but will then put the program "on ice," including postponing the search for an industrial partner for the new propulsion system, according to the FT.

--Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Warren East said he expects a significant delay until the new aircraft appear as the industry reels from the acute shock of the coronavirus pandemic, the FT reports.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The challenge for many industrial companies is that their growth prospects are dependent on economic growth and the ability of their customers to boost capital expenditure. At present the enthusiasm which greeted vaccine approvals is being tested by the evolution of new strains of the COVID-19 virus. That suggests capex decisions will likely be delayed until customers have visibility on what their post pandemic businesses will look like.



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December 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rising inflationary pressures and Ethereum

I hope you are enjoying the holidays and looking forward to a better year next year.

Here’s another one of Charles Gave's excellent articles-the oil price is on the move thus starting to bear out his fear of a 1970s-type repeat.

Secondly, regarding Ethereum, have you been able to quantify any price target and if so, what technical data/events have you chosen to use?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting report which repeats Gave’s earlier call for an inflationary boom with which I agree. However, I’m not sure we are in the same kind of bull market in oil that we had in the first decade of this century. The history of secular bull markets in oil points to rising prices lasting as long as it takes new sources of supply to reach market. That is followed by decades of ranging.



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lidar Makers Jump After Report on Apple's Autonomous Car Plans

This article by Divya Balji and Crystal Kim for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Some lidar suppliers gained Tuesday after Reuters reported that Apple Inc. plans to build a self-driving car for consumers and is tapping outside partners for elements of the system as it develops its own battery technology.

Apple is approaching companies for some parts, including lidar sensors that provide autonomous cars with a real-time, 3-D view of the world, the report said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Lidar supplier Luminar Technologies Inc. rose as much as 12% on Tuesday, while Velodyne Lidar Inc. surged 16%. Blank-check firms that are bringing more lidar players to the market also advanced: InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. climbed 17%, while Collective Growth Corp. jumped as much as 24%.

Apple has been working on driverless car technology since 2014, but pared back its ambitions from a full-fledged vehicle in 2017, Bloomberg News has reported. Since then, Apple has been working on the underlying autonomous system. The company has been deciding whether to attach this system to its own car, or existing vehicles, or to partner with an established carmaker, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple enjoys an almost 40% gross margin on its iPhones and tablets. Porsche has about a 47% gross margin on the 911 and Ferrari has a more than 50% gross margin on its cars. Tesla’s is 16.5%. Toyota’s is 18% and Volkswagen’s is 19.5%. No mass market producer has been able to achieve margins on the scale technology companies are accustomed to.



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Chinese Chip Giant SMIC Can Evade Trump's Newest Crackdown

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

Within the company, engineers are scrambling to assess the fallout and figure out workarounds to secure the equipment it needs, much like Huawei did two years prior, another person familiar with the matter said. At issue is the administration’s focus on drawing a line at 10-nanometer technology, banning the sale of equipment intended for use in more advanced processes. SMIC could conceivably repurpose 80% of older-generation gear to crank out more advanced chips, but that tactic won’t sustain production for the longer term and much depends on how far President-elect Joe Biden decides to take the rules, a third person close to the situation said, asking not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

“The company has already got critical equipment and materials needed to continue production,” said Xiang Ligang, Beijing-based director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance. “In the past, China wasn’t too sensitive about the technological bottlenecks it has. But now, Beijing is fully aware of the potential damage and is determined to solve these issues.”

Chinese government-backed SMIC, a manufacturer of chips for global names from Qualcomm Inc. to Broadcom Inc., relies on U.S. gear for its longer-term technology road map. While its engineers may be able to sustain research and output in the short run, the latest sanctions basically freeze its capabilities while the industry advances. If a Biden White House takes it to the max, SMIC could be blocked from 7nm or more advanced technology while overseas rivals like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dominate the market. The heightened scrutiny may also discourage clients leery of dealing with the uncertainty.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Self sufficiency in semi-conductors is a central policy objective for China. It is the basis on which the country seeks to compete with the USA in future. China may be able to do without Australian coal or wine but it has no hope of competing effectively on the geopolitical front without securing the supply line for technology’s basic ingredients.



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December 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Faces Food Crisis Threat as Virus Surge Blocks Trade

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

The U.K. confronted threats of food insecurity and panicked shopping days before Christmas as European nations restricted trade and travel to guard against a resurgent coronavirus, offering Britain a preview of the border chaos to come in the absence of a Brexit deal.

Fearing a fast-spreading new strain of the virus that forced a strict lockdown across England, France on Sunday suspended travel from the U.K. for 48 hours and wants a stricter testing regime before lifting the blockade. Germany and Italy halted arriving flights from Britain with Spain and Portugal following suit. The crisis gave renewed urgency to negotiations for a trade deal with the European Union that remained at a critical stage after weekend talks.

Late Sunday, the Port of Dover stopped freight moved by truck into France while allowing unaccompanied cargo to keep moving. Traffic into the U.K. is unaffected, though truckers often run supplies in both directions and the latest outbreak in the heart of England may discourage them from entering the island.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The announcement over the weekend that one of the evolved versions of the original COVID--19 virus has travelled from South Africa to the UK has caused a panicky response from European governments. The new variant appears to be more infectious but no more lethal than the last. That suggests it will quickly become the dominant form of the virus circulating the global before long. Since the newer version is now already in Italy, closing borders with the UK is unlikely to have any effect on its ability to spread inside the EU.



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December 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on third party perspectives on the US/China competition

Very interesting interview for those interested in our regional and international affairs Just ignore the first 3 minutes of the intro in the Malay language if you don't understand Bahasa.

Worth 93 minutes of you time. Download & watch at your leisure.

Kishore Mahbuhani, a Singaporean diplomat, Mahbuhani is brilliant.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this video which I agree highlighted a number of interesting themes. The challenge for governments in Asian countries is how to balance the demands for loyalty coming from the world’s superpowers. That’s a particular challenge for those that have historically depended on US support for markets and military protection. They now see their primary growth engine in China while China’s Belt and Road program is the primary source of FDI for many potential projects. 



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December 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB Lifts Ban on Bank Dividend With 15% Payout Cap on Profit -

This article by Nicholas Comfort may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Andrea Enria, head of the ECB’s supervisory arm, said in a Bloomberg Television interview that there’s limited visibility on asset quality and that the bank will revisit its decision in September. He also called for moderation on banks’ variable pay.

The cap makes the ECB one of the more hawkish banking watchdogs in Europe. The Bank of England said last week that it will allow lenders to make payouts that don’t exceed 0.2% their risk-weighted assets, or 25% of cumulative quarterly profits over 2019 and 2020 after deducting shareholder distributions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe’s banks are hamstrung by negative interest rates but they still charge fees for just about everything and don’t pay an interest rate. The most significant factor in their favour is the bad debts issue is slowly being eroded. That particularly true on the periphery. 



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December 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Plots Cuba Reset in Rebuke of Trump's Sanctions

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

That strategy includes reducing restrictions on travel, investment and remittances for the island nation that are perceived to disproportionately hurt Americans and ordinary Cubans, said the people, who requested anonymity because the new administration is still coming together. Other measures that target Cuba for human rights abuses would remain in place, the people said.

The prospect of a détente between Washington and Havana rekindles memories of the thaw that Biden helped champion during the Obama administration, when the two nations restored diplomatic ties that had been broken for decades following Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

But the president-elect is returning to an even messier scene: the Cuban economy is suffering its worst crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union amid fallout from Covid-19 and U.S. sanctions. At the same time, Cuban intelligence officers have helped prop up Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, allowing his regime to consolidate its grip on power in defiance of demands for free and fair elections.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It looks increasingly likely that outside of the China question, the USA is likely to migrate back to many of the foreign policies championed during the Obama administration. There may also be a quid pro quo in the offing. Perhaps some assistance on the Venezuela question will be provided in return for easing sanctions.



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December 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the international beauty contest

This article today struck me as being a profound historical perspective on the UK and the EU. It reinforces my view (and yours I think) that the EMs are where the growth will be for the medium-long term. Whether we in the UK will be able to capitalise on this is our question.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this emotional article which highlights the frustration many people feel with both the trajectory of European integration and the UK’s membership of the long-term federal project. As David used to say, “the markets are an international beauty contest where we get to be the judges.”



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December 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Extracting Growth Alpha in Emerging Markets

This report from Jennison Associates may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Generally speaking, an investor’s primary motivation for making a portfolio allocation to emerging market equities is the desire to tap into superior structural growth. However, equity market returns rarely correlate tightly to economic growth. There are many attractive secular growth companies in emerging markets—and they exist regardless of the economic growth conditions of their domestic economies. Investors wanting to tap into the powerful long-term benefits of superior structural growth trends can benefit from seeking out highly active strategies. In our experience, a strategy succeeds by continuously seeking out innovative companies with superior growth trajectories. A clear and consistent investment philosophy and repeatable investment process can help to ensure that a portfolio reflects bottom-up decisions that incorporate the superior growth available in EM equities.

The growth opportunity set is bigger than is generally thought. EM companies face challenges and problems different from those of their developed market counterparts, but their distinct circumstances often spur them to innovate and disrupt existing practices. EM companies are moving up the value chain, from export-oriented business models built on low-cost labor and cheap manufacturing to higher-value-added businesses based on technological and scientific innovation. Low recognition of these dynamics by investors and indexes creates an opportunity for growth-minded investors. Add to the mix companies that execute well to exploit a superior economic growth backdrop, and the opportunity set expands.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

China’s success in developing domestic champions has been truly impressive and they are now among the largest companies in the world by market cap and revenue. Success in expanding internationally has been limited in the technology sector to the Chinese diaspora because the global market tends to be much more competitive than the sheltered environment domestically.



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December 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ASEAN Macro

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

A l;ink to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Europe and North America are more likely to receive ready access to vaccines developed by western companies in the short term. Meanwhile China is already exporting its vaccine candidate despite the apparent lack of rigour in testing. The first batches of Sinovac’s vaccine arrived in Indonesia today. It remains very likely that within six months there will be a significant oversupply of vaccines. I fully expect the rollout to go much faster than many people expect.



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December 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on mental health

Regarding your comments on the mail about fake news: I would like to point out that your very sound and accurate analysis of the situation this year has helped me tremendously with my investments AND it has helped my mental health a lot. For both of these I am most grateful for your services. please do keep up the good work.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. Mental health is a topic that is personal to all of us but tends to be sensationalised when it is made public. Personally, I have gone through multiple stages of surprise, hope and anger over the last year. That has been as much a reaction to the market as to the ineptitude of the official response in most countries. Many years in the financial business have conditioned me to equate despair in others as a buying opportunity. Despair in myself is usually a sign my position is too large and by opinion was incorrect.



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December 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I posted a review of candidates I believe likely to prosper in the emerging post-pandemic market. It was well received by subscribers so I will post an update on my views on the first Friday of the month going forward. That way subscribers can have an expectation that long-term themes will be covered in a systematic manner and will have a point of reference to look back on.

Media hysteria about the 2nd or 3rd waves has not led to new highs in the number of deaths. The success of biotech companies in deploying vaccines means there is going to be a substantial recovery in the economic activity in 2021 and going forward.

The stay-at-home champions saw their sales growth surge in 2020. It will be impossible to sustain that growth rate in 2021. That’s particularly true for mega-caps. One-way bets on the sector are likely to work less well in the FAANGs going forward.



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December 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Bull Market Rotates Away From Tech-Driven Mega-Companies

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

At its heart, the rotation is based on the idea that there’s a lot of money in the economy waiting to be spent on things besides video streaming and online shopping. The U.S. personal savings rate was 7.2% at the end of 2019. By April it had surged to 33.7%, and it was still 13.6% in October—almost double where it started the year. Deposits at U.S. commercial banks swelled to almost $16 trillion in November, up from $13.2 trillion at the end of last year. If consumers revert to their pre-pandemic ways, that could set off what Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for the Leuthold Group, has called “a growth bomb,” as companies gear up to replace lean inventories.

Fund managers with a value bias say there are still opportunities to take advantage of the change in investors’ tastes. Chris Davis of Davis Funds points to the banks Wells Fargo & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp., whose prices were hammered when lockdowns began in March and still haven’t fully recovered. Davis thinks investors have overlooked how banking regulations enacted after the global financial crisis have made these lenders better able to handle recessions. “When you look at their valuations, the amount of cash they produce, the capital ratios that they have, the reserves they’ve been able to put up—they really have this characteristic of resilience and durability, and yet are priced at this sort of shockingly low level,” he says.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Value has outperformed growth over the last month and yields have been rising. That’s not a coincidence. Value metrics need a discount rate against which to make comparisons while growth sectors tend to do best when interest rates are low.



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November 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Will globalization survive COVID-19?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

If reflation is the new buzzword for governments, resilience is what companies are focusing on. Many were caught flat-footed by the pandemic and they will now actively transition to greater diversity of suppliers, holding more inventory and nearshoring manufacturing capacity.



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November 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

London 'Thrown to the Lions' as Brexit Finance Deal Unlikely

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

The bloc has already made a land grab for London’s euro swaps clearing business, urging its banks to accelerate a shift to Europe. Deutsche Boerse AG’s Eurex Clearing has built up a 19% share of the business over recent years although it is dwarfed by London’s market share.

In recent weeks, Goldman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have indicated that between them more than 300 staff will move to continental cities. Goldman is shifting as much as $60 billion in assets to Frankfurt, while JPMorgan is moving about $230 billion to the German city.

Consultancy EY said in a new report Monday that only 10% of big financial services firms are planning to establish or expand operations in the U.K. in the coming year, discouraged by the uncertainties of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s down from 45% in April.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The City of London is the UK’s cash cow and that is particularly true since North Sea oil went into decline. The City employed 360,000 people in banks and contributed £31 billion in taxes in the 2017. In the aftermath of Brexit, both those figures will be smaller but not catastrophically so.



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November 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Service

I have been a subscriber for just over 30 years, and in that time, I can't recall many times when a clear and concise analysis of economic and political conditions was as important as it is today. You are doing a wonderful job at keeping the collective informed, allowing us to see a broader picture than our individual biases might otherwise give us. Thanks so much!

And

Congratulations our last subscriber commentary was exceptional. You have done wonders for my confidence and ability to help my clients. Keep up the good work. Best wishes

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for your kind words and it is enormously gratifying that subscribers find value in the Service. That’s particularly true for veterans who have been with us for decades. Given both the demand and positive response for a reasonably succinct list of thematic investments that cover the prevailing market outlook, I’ll review the list on at least a monthly basis. The first Friday of the month which would coincide with the Big Picture Long-Term audio/video makes sense to me.



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November 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia's 'Paradox of Thrift' Risks Japan-Style Price Weakness

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

The irony of the parsimonious attitude toward pay is governments are throwing around billions of dollars in stimulus programs to support the economy and ratcheting up debt to an extent that makes such restraint almost irrelevant.

To make the new wage guidance more palatable, the federal government scrapped a 2% cap on wage gains, meaning that when businesses are boosting pay, public servants could also enjoy larger gains.

The danger is “a negative feedback loop becomes entrenched: low inflation outcomes lower the public’s inflation expectations, which in turn keeps inflation low,” said Sheard, who hails from Australia. “This in a nutshell is the story of Japan’s two-decade deflation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It beggars’ belief that public sector wages can increase faster than the private sectors but such is the power of unions. It seems people often ignore the fact that all public wages are ultimately paid from tax revenues. Everything possible should be done to celebrate the ingenuity of the private sector in order to boost profitability and widen the tax base.



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November 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Murderers, rapists got unemployment money in $1 billion California taxpayer fraud

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

So far, investigations have uncovered more than $400,000 in state benefits paid to death row inmates, and more than $140 million to other incarcerated people in California’s 38 prisons, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who helped organize and lead a task force that uncovered the alleged dupery. In total, payments to those ineligible due to incarceration in prisons and jails could total nearly $1 billion, the prosecutors claim.

“The murderers and rapists and human traffickers should not be getting this money,” said Schubert. “It needs to stop.”

Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, whose district has five prisons, the most of any county in California, called the scope of the scams shocking. Zimmer said her office had found about $16 million in allegedly fraudulent claims in her county alone.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 36 years,” she said. “I have never seen fraud of this magnitude.”

Newsom on Tuesday announced a task force to tackle the problem.

“Unemployment fraud across local jails and state and federal prisons is absolutely unacceptable,” the governor said in a statement. “Earlier this year, I launched a strike team to expedite unemployment payments and to minimize abuse of the system. When we saw evidence of fraud in correctional facilities, I directed the Employment Development Department to review its practices and to take immediate actions to prevent fraud and to hold people accountable when fraud is not prevented.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The USA is one of the most advanced countries in the world but investment in digitising the workings of the bureaucracy are absent. That’s a symptom of the polarisation in the political framework because neither side is willing to risk upsetting their base. The big question is how long that can go on given the size of deficits at both a federal and state level. 



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November 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the politicisation of monetary policy

I hope life for you in California is more fun than it is here in England. But let's hope we really are past the low point as far as the virus is concerned. I had thought that would be true for economies too, but this latest move by President Trump (summarised in the article by Ambrose Evans Pritchard) does raise questions. With this move, which asset classes do you think will benefit and which will lose on a 3-6 month timescale?

Best wishes to you and family. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for the well wishes and this article which may be of interest to the Collective. All is well with us since the streets were blessedly free of protestors following the election. I guess they got the result they wished for. Here is a section from the article:

He instructed Fed chairman Jerome Powell to return the unused portion of a $454bn (£342bn) account approved by Congress during the market meltdown in March. This seed money gave the Fed $4.5 trillion extra lending power under a policy of 10:1 leverage and had an electrifying effect on market confidence, helping avoid the errors made in 2008.

Krishna Guha from Evercore ISI said the Fed’s market stabilisation policy had been politicised. Congressman Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the House oversight committee on stimulus, called Mr Mnuchin’s move an unjustified and ideological decision by the treasury department.

The Fed retains its monetary policy powers and can purchase further US treasury bonds but that is a blunt tool at this juncture unless it is married to aggressive fiscal expansion, which the Republican Senate has vowed to block.

The Fed is concerned that more QE will chiefly inflate asset prices without doing much to help the real economy, exacerbating social inequality.

Congress stripped the Fed of its discretionary powers under Article 13 after the Lehman crisis. The Fed now needs permission from the treasury to go beyond its normal mandate. This was granted immediately during the panic in late March.



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November 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Allure of GameStop's Stores

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

Shankar, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. “There were two forks in the road. They could have scaled up online, or they could have moved into adjacent brick-and-mortar businesses. They chose brick-and-mortar, because it was lower risk in the short term,” Shankar said. “It was a missed opportunity and they’re still hurting from that.” 

If GameStop knew what its problem was, why didn’t it do more to address it? Cohen and Shankar both cite internal resistance to change. That may be right, but it's not as easy as turning down the “physical retail” dial and turning up the “digital commerce” one. I’ve spent enough time in GameStops to come to appreciate their strange charms, and I can tell you that the company's unique advantages don’t necessarily translate to the internet.

GameStop locations don’t seem like local bookshops or bike stores, but they bear similarities. Gaming remains enough of a niche interest that GameStop can create a sense of community just by employing people who know about video games and not chasing away the young men who make up a big proportion of their patronage. I’m now a lapsed gamer and wouldn’t exactly describe GameStop locations as pleasant. But there’s a kind of magic in a place completely dedicated to the activity that makes me want to clear my schedule, grab a controller and house a few Jolt colas. Plus the ability to pay for new games with old ones isn't a checkout option that is easily recreated in a mobile app. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

As the world comes out of the pandemic it is worth considering that if a brick and mortar store chain has survived this long, they might have something that is not easily replicable online. GameStop’s trade-in service is an example. So is the fact it is a place ignorant parents can go to ask about the game or apparatus their child has been badgering them to get. I’m increasingly of the opinion that some retail stores will persist because they offer to take cash which is impossible online. 



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Next Phase of the V

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

#1: A global synchronous recovery: We expect a broad-based recovery, both geographically and sectorally, to take hold from March/April onwards. Driving this synchronous recovery will be a more expansive reopening of economies worldwide and the extraordinary monetary and fiscal support now in place. Global GDP, already at pre-COVID-19 levels (based on seasonally adjusted GDP levels), continues to accelerate and is on track to resume its pre-COVID-19 trajectory by 2Q21. We expect China to return to its pre-COVID-19 path this quarter, and the US to reach it by 4Q21.

#2: EMs boarding the reflation train: After a prolonged period in which EMs have faced a series of cyclical challenges, macro stability is now in check. With the COVID-19 situation improving in a broad range of EMs, their pace of recovery is catching up. EM growth rebounds sharply in 2021, helped by a widening US current account deficit, low US real rates, a weaker dollar, China’s reflationary impulse, and EMs ex China's own accommodative domestic macro policies.

#3: Inflation regime change in the US: We see a very different inflation dynamic taking hold, especially in the US. The COVID-19 shock has accelerated the pace of restructuring, creating a significant divergence between the output and unemployment paths. With policymakers maintaining highly reflationary policies to get back to preCOVID-19 rates of unemployment quickly, wage pressures and inflation will pick up from 2H21. We expect underlying core PCE inflation to rise to 2%Y in 2H21 and to overshoot from 1H22, with the risk that it happens sooner.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

With millions of people out of work it is easy to form a gloomy picture of economic potential. However, even at a US unemployment rate of 10%, there are still 90% of people with jobs. Moreover, many people who have held onto their employment have boosted savings this year.

When 90% of people come through a crisis in OK shape and a significant minority come out ahead, there is ample scope for a significant bounce back in activity. There is a great deal of pent up demand in the global economy and all that cash on the side lines is fuel for bull markets. The fact monetary and fiscal policy is aimed to improving the outcomes for the remaining 10% suggests loss credit and low rates are here to stay.



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Fights to Save Billions in Aid as Lagarde Demands Action

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

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says tying “political debates” to financial issues is a form of “blackmail” against countries opposed to migration.

Poland said this week that the provisions are a first step to forcing it to accept EU regulations on gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia and press freedoms. “It’s a means of political, cultural and ultimately economic colonization,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said.

Highlighting the gaping divide, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the current rule-of-law provisions the “bare minimum.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken with EU leaders in recent days, including Orban and Morawiecki. In a sign there’s unlikely to be a quick fix, she described negotiations as “extremely difficult.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The current challenge for the emerging federal European superstate is how to net off the priorities of socially liberal but fiscally conservative creditors with socially conservative but fiscally liberally debtors.



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November 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Top Ten Market Themes for 2021: A Shot in the Arm

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

1.Vaccine-led Recovery to Lift Cyclical Assets
2. Navigating the Path
3. A Steeper Real Yield Curve
4. Europe: Two Steps forward, One Step Back
5. China: Forging Ahead, with Assets in Tow
6. A New Commodity Bull Cycle
7. EM Outperformance: More than Before, Less than Sometimes
8. Rotations: Cyclical, North Asia in Focus but Vaccine News Key to Near Term
9. In Search of New (and Old) Safe Havens, Hedges and Diversifiers
10. Risks from Corona and Beyond

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

If we had to distill the priorities of governments next year there is only one word captures their intentions. Reflation. With millions of unemployed people, defaults only kept at bay by massive intervention and rising public discontent economic revival is the only possible solution. That’s true of every country. No one has been left unscathed by the pandemic. Whether the challenge has been domestic or from a loss of export markets, the solution is the same. Reflation.



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November 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Merkel Under Fire as Virus Strategy Sparks Anger From All Sides

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

Berlin police used water cannons to break up a large demonstration near Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday. Participants - - which totaled 14,000 people, according to police -- refused to
abide by distancing and hygiene rules, while some threw bottles and other objects.

Pressure has been growing on German authorities, which are facing a crunch meeting next week to lay out a long-term plan to fight the pandemic. With restrictions likely to be extended and intensified, public anger and political tensions are rising.

The demonstration was organized to oppose a law being debated by the Bundestag that would expand the government’s powers to place restrictions on the public. Critics say the measures go too far. The far-right Alternative for Germany likened the legislation to policies under authoritarian regimes.

While the freedom of assembly must be guaranteed, social distancing and other rules to contain the spread of the virus must also be respected, government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said during a regular news conference.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Facing down a water cannon is not something protestors will soon forget. It may yet prove to further fortify the resolve of the populist right wing movement to challenge the status quo.

The challenge for all governments as they measure their response to the pandemic is what freedoms to infringe. Everyone knows that temporary taxes have a tendency to become permanent. The legitimate fear is that if the government can close businesses by writ what is to stop them doing it again in future? With a clear precedent, the range of potential reasons for closing businesses can easily increase.



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nobel UN food agency warns 2021 will be worse than 2020

This article by Edith Lederer for AP News may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In April, Beasley said 135 million people faced “crisis levels of hunger or worse.” A WFP analysis then showed that COVID=19 could push an additional 130 million people “to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”

He said in Wednesday’s virtual interview from Rome, where WFP is based, that while famine was averted this year, the number of people facing crisis levels of hunger is increasing toward 270 million.

“There’s about three dozen countries that could possibly enter the famine conditions if we don’t have the money we need,” Beasley said.

According to a joint analysis by WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in October, 20 countries “are likely to face potential spikes in high acute food insecurity” in the next three to six months, “and require urgent attention.”

Of those, Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso have some areas that “have reached a critical hunger situation following years of conflict or other shocks,” the U.N. agencies said, and any further deterioration in coming months “could lead to a risk of famine.”

Other countries requiring “urgent attention” are Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somali, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, they said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Africa has, generally, come through the pandemic in much better shape than developed nations because of its large youthful population. That’s makes intuitive sense. COVID-19 affects the elderly more than any other demographic and Africa has more young people than anywhere. 



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November 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pfizer Vaccine Partner Warns Against Winner-Take-All Mentality

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

Pfizer and BioNTech shares both dropped on Monday -- reversing a surge in response to positive test results last week -- after rival Moderna Inc. said its Covid vaccine was 94.5% effective in a preliminary analysis of a large clinical trial. Moderna also said its candidate has a much longer shelf life at refrigerator temperatures than the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, which would make it easier to store and ship globally.

BioNTech is working on the storage issues, and Sahin said he’s confident that some of the current requirements around cold storage will change in the course of next year.

The successes in the clinic come even as the pandemic looks increasingly bleak in Europe and North America. The U.S. surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, while in Germany, BioNTech’s home market, Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a tighter lockdown.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The best-case scenario is all of the primary vaccine candidates prove both safe and effective. That would open up manufacturing capacity of as much as 7 billion doses by the end of 2021. That suggests there is real scope for massive overcapacity and that vaccine production will return to a low margin business.



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November 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RCEP: A new trade agreement that will shape global economics and politics

This article by Peter A. Petri and Michael Plummer for the Brookings Institute may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

CEP will connect about 30% of the world’s people and output and, in the right political context, will generate significant gains. According to computer simulations we recently published, RCEP could add $209 billion annually to world incomes, and $500 billion to world trade by 2030.

We also estimate that RCEP and CPTPP together will offset global losses from the U.S.-China trade war, although not for China and the United States. The new agreements will make the economies of North and Southeast Asia more efficient, linking their strengths in technology, manufacturing, agriculture, and natural resources.

The effects of RCEP are impressive even though the agreement is not as rigorous as the CPTPP. It incentivizes supply chains across the region but also caters to political sensitivities. Its intellectual property rules add little to what many members have in place, and the agreement says nothing at all about labor, the environment, or state-owned enterprises — all key chapters in the CPTPP. However, ASEAN-centered trade agreements tend to improve over time.

Southeast Asia will benefit significantly from RCEP ($19 billion annually by 2030) but less so than Northeast Asia because it already has free trade agreements with RCEP partners. But RCEP could improve access to Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) funds, enhancing gains from market access by strengthening transport, energy, and communications links. RCEP’s favorable rules of origin will also attract foreign investment."

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ratification of a free trade deal between China and much of Asia and Australasia is a significant bonus for its ambition of enmeshing as many countries as possible in dependency on its economy. China is already a major destination for exports from the wider region as well as a source of manufactured goods. This agreement will expand its role in the debt/credit markets too.



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November 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Covid Hot Spots Show Signs Europe's New Wave May Be Cresting

This article by Thomas Mulier and Chris Reiter for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The encouraging signs are emerging after many European countries enacted new restrictions, including closing non-essential shops, bars and restaurants, in an effort to slow the pandemic. Ireland, one of the first to reimpose curbs, cut the number of new infections to about 360 in the latest 24 hours from more than 1,200 a day in mid-October.

Progress is mixed, with some countries still seeing big increases. Austria reported a record 9,262 new cases in the past 24 hours on Thursday. The government will meet on Friday to discuss whether further restrictions are needed after a second lockdown began earlier this month.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the new numbers in his country are encouraging but that it’s too early to speak of a new trend. The effect of the new measures can’t be evaluated yet, a spokeswoman said. Hospitals are still straining under the backlog of patients with existing infections.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Europe is going to be open by Christmas for exactly the same reason it was open for summer. Businesses can’t miss their peak season. It’s what makes or breaks a year in the normal course of events so one way or other figures will be massaged enough to ensure business open up in early December.



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November 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on recovery candidates versus stay at home champions

Thank you for bringing Rolls Royce to our attention recently. Thanks to you I was able to open a position which looks excellent now. Do you think the volatility in the share will continue for much longer? And what are your views about this share now? Thanks again very much.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on taking opportunities in the market. The big question at present is about the trajectory or interest rates and bond yields. It will shape where risk appetite focuses. Investors will either favour recovery candidates on the basis that survivors will have more market share to expand into or they will continue to favour high growth/high leverage plays as they continue to disrupt incumbents.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Pfizer Soars After Vaccine Prevents 90% of Covid Cases in Study

This article by Robert Langreth, Naomi Kresge and Riley Griffin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
 

However, the strong reading from the first large-scale trial to post efficacy results bodes well for other experimental vaccines, in particular one being developed by Moderna Inc. that uses similar technology. Its big trial could generate efficacy and safety results in weeks. If that study succeeds as well, there could be two vaccines available in the U.S. by around year-end.

Pfizer expects to get two months of safety follow-up data, a key metric required by U.S. regulators before an emergency authorization is granted, in the third week in November. If those findings raise no problems, Pfizer could apply for an authorization in the U.S. this month. A rolling review is in process in Europe.

So far, the trial’s data monitoring committee has identified no serious safety concerns, Pfizer and BioNTech said.

Leading the Race
The positive preliminary data mean the U.S. pharma giant and its German partner are on track to be first with a vaccine, after signing advance deals with governments worldwide for hundreds of thousands of doses. The companies have said they should be able to produce 1.3 billion doses -- enough to vaccinate 650 million people -- by the end of 2021. About 50 million doses are expected to be available in 2020.

“It shows that Covid-19 can be controlled,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview. “At the end of the day, it’s really a victory of science.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This news is the foundation of the argument for removing social distancing guidelines by the end of the second quarter at the latest.

It no longer matters whether one agrees with wearing a mask, practising social distancing, vacating offices, opening or closing schools or the potential for overloading the healthcare system. The question of whether this was necessary or not is now irrelevant. The introduction of vaccines will render the argument mute.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Welcome back America!

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by James Breiding. Here is a section:

Resolution requires concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. It took 25 years to reform Finland’s primary education system before it topped the league in PISA scores. Singapore achieves superior health care outcomes at 25% of the cost of the US and 40% of Europe thanks to a system which gives consumers “skin in the game”.  It’s now thirty years in the making. Denmark’s commitment to wind power dates back to the 1970’s when the benefits were egregiously uneconomic. More than half of its energy is now from renewable sources. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has evolved over thirty years since Lamoureux convinced Canada’s labor unions that the fund needs to attract and pay the best people from Goldman Sachs and Blackrock to work for them, rather than paying them fees.  Ontario Teachers’ has had an annualized total-return of 10% since reforms were made in 1990, and retirees’ pensions are fully funded with 100% inflation protection provided on all pensions.

It may be far-fetched to think that small, successful, experimental nations can fill this vacuum of leadership, but the world is begging for consistent leadership and a positive example, so an opportunity presents itself to step up.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a good reason small countries tend to succeed in niche areas, and are often more successful than larger countries on specific metrics. They have to. Israel, South Korea or Switzerland have spent lifetimes grappling with the uncertainty of geopolitics. They understand the reality that if they don’t succeed on their own no one is going to help them.

Ireland is small rainy island on the tip of Europe, without a commitment to education and active courting of FDI, coupled with low corporate taxes and light regulation it would be a very dreary place indeed.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video Game Prices Are Going Up for the First Time in 15 Years

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

Sony executives have been deliberating over a price increase for some time, said people familiar with the discussions. A spokeswoman for Sony said the company is selling titles at launch for as little as $50 and the “biggest games" for $70. She said the higher price is “reflective of the growing development resources needed for these ambitious games.”

Game companies argue prices haven’t kept pace with the cost of other media like a movie ticket, Netflix or cable television, said Yoshio Osaki, the head of IDG Consulting Inc., which works with most major publishers. Since 2005, the cost to develop a game has tripled or quadrupled, he said.

“Not all publishers will launch next-gen games at $70,” Osaki wrote in an email. “However, we do anticipate that a growing percentage of games will launch at $70, but not all at once and not uniformly across every publisher or every game franchise.”

Capcom Co., the Japanese publisher of Resident Evil and Street Fighter, won’t release software for the new systems until next year. But like other companies, Capcom said it’s taking a “title-by-title” approach. “We believe game software’s price should be determined by how much money consumers are willing to pay for the quality, not by how much money we spend to make that game,” said Kenkichi Nomura, the chief financial officer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This discussion of what the cost of computer game should be is missing a significant evolution of the market which has been going on for the last decade. Freemium is the biggest trend in the market where players have access to the game for free and pay of add-ons to speed up their progress or enhance the look of their online profile. 



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November 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bonds are the sentinels in the sequence of recovery

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

Phase 2: things have to get worse before they get better, and this means there are aggressive policies to come (more so if Biden wins). This bodes well for a recovery that should further support a rotation towards cyclical themes as we enter 2021. This should favour equities, which could have more upside potential vs HY credit, which could be less appealing on a risk/return basis at current valuations. A rotation from super-high-growth stocks into more cyclical and quality value areas will likely materialise. Commodity-related trades could also benefit from this cyclical rebound. The availability of a vaccine would be part of this recovery: markets are pricing in availability in mid-2021 and then an economic reacceleration. Any delay could generate volatility, putting the virus cycle once again at the top of market concerns. Investors should look at opportunities from rotation, while also being mindful of possibly higher volatility. Bonds will be the key sentinels for the next phase. The market will likely start pricing in higher inflation and reflation, leading to the next sequence.

Phase 3: from improving to sustained growth. The next part of the sequence embeds a new round of policy mix and a slow exit from the extreme accommodation seen so far. The measures introduced to fight the pandemic will be very difficult to withdraw, and governments and CBs will probably have to do more. Fiscal and monetary policies will be even more intertwined, making the possibility of further debt monetisation to finance the recovery a likely scenario. Some EM with weak CB credibility could see inflation rise faster amid their recoveries which could trigger higher commodity prices. This might overheat the economy, ultimately leading to some inflation. This could de-anchor the system, which is based on the assumption of low rates forever, and real rates could become more volatile. This phase will be challenging for risk assets and could favour further rotation into equity value, commodities and real assets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is really one question to occupy the minds of investors. What is the Federal Reserve going to do about rising long bond yields? All other investment themes flow from the answer to that question.



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November 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Eyes Sub-5% Growth Rate in New Vision for Chinese Economy

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

“It is extremely difficult to project growth 15 years out and, although we view growth of 5%-6% over 2021-2025 as likely, growth above 5% over 2026-2035 appears quite challenging,” Nomura Holdings Inc. economists, led by Ting Lu, wrote in a note.

To overcome some of those challenges, the Communist Party is promising to build the nation into a technological powerhouse and focus on quality growth over speed. Key to that objective is developing a robust domestic market and becoming self-reliant in technology -- especially in chips, the building blocks for innovations from artificial intelligence to fifth-generation networking and autonomous vehicles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The greater the size of the economy, more difficult it is to grow quickly. That is why standards of governance are so important. If graft and political ideology gets in the way of innovation and the pass-through effect to a greater wealth effect the headwinds to growth only growth stronger. China has demonstrated repeatedly that subservience to the party comes ahead of every other factor. That was particularly clear this week with the smack down of ANT Financial’s IPO.



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November 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazilian Real's Outperformance Demonstrates Trader Pragmatism

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

The Brazilian real’s outperformance hints at investors’ pragmatic stance toward the currency, which may have further room to appreciate despite potential diplomatic frictions with a Biden White House.

BRL rose 3.2% over the last two sessions, by far the best performance among all major currencies. That may sound strange given Joe Biden’s comments on potential sanctions on the country due to deforestation and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s clear alliance with Trump, but traders are working with the information they have at hand now instead of making assumptions about what will happen in the future.

A Biden presidency improves chances of stimulus in the near future even with a GOP-controlled Senate. That has prompted bets that the dollar is prone to weaken and the currency that seems to have most room for a quick swing is the Brazilian real. The currency is the most depreciated major currency in the world this year, even after this week’s gains. Brazil faces fiscal pressure with debt-to-GDP ratio expected to rise beyond 100% this year, but the fundamental issues are local and not external. With more dollars available, the temptation to bet on the recovery of a country that has shown robust activity data is just too high.

Investors will keep a close eye on Brazil’s budget challenges and the government’s maneuvers to finance itself. Concern about Brazil’s relationship with U.S. under a potential Biden government may grow in relevance, but only in the middle of next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The determination of governments everywhere to spur reflation in 2021 is probably a more significant factor than geopolitics for most commodity producers. Australia’s brewing dispute with China is an obvious counter example, but even then, China still needs what Australia exports. Global infrastructure development is likely to play a vital role in the plans of most countries to boost employment and stimulate growth. That’s a major commodity demand growth trend which is taking place against a background of meagre investments in additional supply.  



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November 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BOE-Sunak Double Act Attempts to Boost Ailing U.K. Economy

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

The measures aim to counter the impact of a resurgent pandemic that has forced the government to order pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops to shut. With the outlook already clouded by the U.K.’s looming exit from the European Union’s single market -- potentially with no trade deal -- the nation risks a painful spike in joblessness.

Sunak told Parliament that the double injection of stimulus shows “all economic and monetary institutions are playing their part.” Governor Andrew Bailey said in a press conference that it is “important that we take prompt, strong and coordinated action.”

Spending on job support from November to March, along with an increase in help for self-employed workers, could cost around 25 billion pounds, Bloomberg Economics estimates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If the government mandates a lockdown then some remedial action is necessary to blunt the economic hit to consumers and businesses. If the lockdowns and social media are abandoned then everything possible to reflate the economy will need to be done. Therefore, whichever way we look at it, the outlook is for more stimulus. The primary catalyst provided by the pandemic is to promote coordination between the monetary and fiscal authorities. It has ushered in modern monetary theory. 



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October 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Fifth Plenum: Reading the Initial Tea Leaves

This article from the Center for Strategic & International Studies may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

As expected, the plenum declared that China had met the critical political goal of becoming a “moderately prosperous society” in 2020. By the end of the year, China’s GDP is expected to reach nearly 100 trillion yuan (RMB)—equivalent to $14.3 trillion—a figure higher than the plan’s forecast of RMB 92.7 trillion, which makes China’s economy in nominal terms about 66.7 percent the size of that of the United States in 2019 ($21.4 trillion), up from 40.6 percent the size of the United States in 2010. China reportedly lifted 55.75 million people out of poverty and created 60 million jobs in urban areas over the past half-decade. By the end of 2020, there will be basic medical insurance coverage for 1.3 billion and basic pension support for nearly 1 billion citizens.

Looking ahead, the plenum emphasized that the 14th Five-Year Plan will build on the 13th Five-Year Plan’s principles of innovation, regional coordination, green development, international openness, and social equity. That said, there was a distinct emphasis on strengthening the domestic economy. There was no mention of a growth rate target; instead, the country will focus on improving quality and raising productivity. The plan will highlight China’s need to gain technological independence; become a powerhouse in manufacturing, cyber, and the digital economy; and raise China’s international competitiveness. At the same time, China will need to expand domestic consumption as a share of the economy, which will be dependent on raising wages, building a more complete social safety net, and expanding economic opportunities in rural China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The middle-income trap has been escaped by only a handful of countries. South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan spring to mind. They have mustered the wherewithal to evolve their governance structure to become more efficient and successfully transitioned to high-end manufacturing and services. Relatively small populations relative to the scale of their exports has been a significant aid in achieving those goals.



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October 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'People Are Going To Be Shocked: Return of the 'Shy' Trump Voter?

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

Last question: The election ends on Tuesday. National polling has consistently shown a substantial lead for Biden. What is your message to people who think that this thing is done?

Cahaly: I don’t think it’s done. Some of these national polls are not even taking into consideration the fact that Republicans have closed the gap with voter registrations. I don’t think they’re taking into account the number of low-propensity voters who are voting and who will vote on Election Day. I don’t think they’re measuring people’s genuine opinions. And I think [pollsters] are just not going to see it coming.

There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there. Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably. I’m not even debating that. But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory.

Kapteyn: I will be really surprised, given our own numbers, if there isn’t a very sizable gap between Biden and Trump in the popular vote—in favor of Biden. But in the states? I don’t know.

Cahaly: I like your skepticism.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are going to be millions of people who vote for the first time in this election. That’s not just about Gen Z but it is also because people have more time. There are millions of people out of work and it’s an excuse to get out of the house or to spend half an hour filling in a form before mailing it. Turnout is likely to be the highest in decades. California alone could ensure Joe Biden wins a popular vote majority of 3 or 4 percent. Yet, the electoral college is likely to be a lot closer.



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October 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Covid and the Trump rallies

It seems to me that the above are going to be seen as super spreading events as we see day after day thousands of his followers in close proximity not wearing masks, blindly following his mantra that the disease is turning the corner. Supporting my argument is we know an important property of the virus is that it survives in the atmosphere much better at lower temperatures thus aiding the infectivity.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to other subscribers. I found the point you made months ago about the tendency of stressed individuals to be more susceptible to infection to be particularly insightful.



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October 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GE "Tough to Argue With" Results Win Over Wall Street Critics

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

General Electric shares jumped as much as 10% on Wednesday after the company’s third-quarter results
topped projections, earning the company plaudits from even the most bearish Wall Street analysts.

* Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch (hold) said GE’s EPS beat follows the pattern of mostly all other industrial companies that have beat bottom-line forecasts this earnings season

** Said overall, stronger healthcare and better free cash flow, despite still tough aviation business, “are likely to reinforce the messaging that GE has fundamentally bottomed – although the company will likely continue to face years ahead of difficult climb-back,” while Covid resurgence could arrest aviation fundamentals and future improvement in healthcare business

* JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa (neutral) said the across-the-board nature of the beat “is what it is, positive”

** The 4Q guide for free cash flow of over $2.5 billion suggests cash will be well ahead of JPM’s below-consensus expectations, and a “headline like that is tough to argue with”

* RBC analyst Deane Dray (outperform) said GE is still battling through a multiyear turnaround, worsened by the Covid-pandemic, but “there were encouraging signs” in the company’s EPS beat

** As is typical with a GE earnings, there are a number of moving parts involving charges/reserves, the analyst noted

** Said the most notable of those is the $100 million reserve taken for a potential settlement with the SEC for legacy accounting issues; however, since these issues date back to two CEOs ago, Dray expects investors would view it as a positive to see this issue resolved via a settlement

* GE 14 buys, 8 holds, 1 sell; avg PT $8.07: Bloomberg data

* NOTE: Earlier, GE Jumps on Surprise Profit as Culp Sees Faster Turnaround

Eoin Treacy's view -

The global economy is in a state of flux because no one can have an accurate reading what the future patterns of activity will be following the pandemic. The travel/hospitality sector obviously has a place in the economy but at what scale? The stay-at-home champions have seen a step change in demand growth for their products but how sustainable is that growth trajectory? For industrials is the economy going to bounce back on infrastructure development or be mired in political infighting?



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October 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Surges to Highest Since July 2019 After PayPal Embrace

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

Bitcoin surged to the highest level since July 2019 after PayPal Holdings Inc. announced it will allow
customers to use cryptocurrencies.

The largest digital coin increased as much as 4.9% to $12,488 Wednesday, surpassing the previous high for the year of $12,473 set in August. Gains among so-called alt coins were even larger, with Litecoin jumping more than 11% and Bitcoin Cash surging 8%.

PayPal customers can use select cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin on the platform. Mike Novogratz, who runs Galaxy Investment Partners, on Twitter called it “the biggest news of the year in crypto,” adding that banks will embark on a race to service digital currencies.

“We have crossed the rubicon,” he said. The news sparked an exuberant response from crypto fans who pointed to a string of recent announcements that suggest wider acceptance by old-school financial mainstays. Two public companies -- Square Inc. and MicroStrategy Inc. -- said recently that they invested in Bitcoin. And Fidelity Investments announced in August that it’s launching its first Bitcoin fund, adding its establishment name and star power to the often-maligned asset class.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The most recent bitcoin halvening was completed in May. That means the reward for solving the algorithm halved which doubled the difficulty of mining the next one. Since the genesis of the cryptocurrency, halvenings have resulted in investors appreciating the limited supply argument and the increasing difficult of creating new bitcoins as time progresses.



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October 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

AirbnBaller

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from SeekingAlpha by Scott Galloway. Here is a section:

Airbnb is also a better value than hotels, offering more space but with less Covid (no check-in, elevators, or common areas) at a lower cost. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and Covid afforded the CEO the cloud cover to cut costs and refocus on the core business. In May Airbnb laid off a quarter of its staff (1,900 employees). CEO Chesky managed to pull a Bezos and was seen as a hero for his empathetic approach to layoffs (generous severance, extended healthcare, and a website of Airbnb employees who were laid off to help them find new leads). Firing people, sending out private pics — tomato/tomahto. Chesky and co-founders relinquished their salaries, cut pay in half for executives, and slashed nearly $1 billion in marketing expenses. The firm is in fighting shape.

The reduced cost structure and market recovery mean the path to profitability has become bigger, better lit, and shorter. There are rumors the firm will accelerate into/through profitability in 2021. The story here won’t be one of distant, but burgeoning, profits.

The story stock of 2020, where the narrative rode shotgun as the numbers sat quietly in the backseat, was Tesla. Airbnb will not electrify the world, but it will host it and reshape the resources required to let people tap into a basic instinct: to explore with others. What Airbnb lacks in story (unlikely Mr. Chesky can land two Brooklyn studio apartments on dual barges concurrently), it makes up in performance. There is no better vision than performance.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I had the pleasure of virtually attending a talk by Scott Galloway last week. He’s an engaging speaker and his topic at the time was how personal priorities shape purchasing decisions. He had a lot to say about equality of opportunity in college admissions. His main point was admissions, as they are currently structured in the USA, are tantamount to a caste system. I imagine his classes at NYU are well-attended.



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October 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Belt up for the coming 'Global Super Cycle' and a $100 trillion World by 2023

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from EM Capital Advisors. Here is a section:

The Emerging Market (EM) share of world output in the last 20 years doubled from 19% to 38% with the EM world growing at about double the rate of the Developed world (DM). This kept the total world growth at a 3-3.5% range over the last decade despite every region in the world growing a little slower than in the previous decade.

The implications of the swings in the global deflator and the FX on businesses and global incomes was much larger than most imagined which is visible in Fig 1 above. It breaks down the nominal world output and its components showing that the world in real terms grew at a pretty even rate of 3-3.5% through most of the last twenty years, with the swing in the ‘Deflator+FX component’ creating the big booms or bust feel in the world.

We are entering another such ‘Supercycle’ which was born about a quarter ago. Our definition of a supercycle is nominal World Output growing at 8-10% for a few years lifting most boats globally. Our view on the components of this global Supercycle are essentially building in a few key assumptions –

1. The World growth in real terms continues in the 3% +/- 1% range after normalizing to pre Covid levels in real terms by 2022. This is line with the IMF and many other estimates.

2. We expect the Global deflator to stay elevated in the 2-4% range for the next few years driven by stimulative fiscal and monetary policy by most large world economies. This would be aided by a weaker US$ and concurrent to it.

3. The US$ weakens 3-4% per annum for the next few years with rising deficits, with the Chinese Yuan doing the heavy lifting on the other side. The Yuan weakness in the previous few years had prevented this from playing out earlier. This paves the way for a strong Asian and EM FX basket which together account for about half of the world output. This is in a way similar to what happened in 2003-2005.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Thanks for this interesting missive which may be of value to subscribers. Here is an additional note from the sender:



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October 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shaky U.S. Hospitals Risk Bankruptcy in Latest Covid Wave

This article by Lauren Coleman-Lochner for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The AHA has estimated the pandemic will cost U.S. hospitals more than $323 billion through the end of this year. U.S. hospital revenue totaled about $1.1 trillion in 2018, according to the most recent AHA data available. The industry group is asking Congress for an additional $100 billion and full forgiveness of loans made under Medicare’s accelerated payment program, among other requests for relief.


As many as half of hospitals could be losing money by year end, Wesolowski said, citing a report it released in July from Kaufman, Hall and Associates. That’s up from about a third that were operating at a loss ahead of the pandemic.

More than three dozen hospitals have already entered bankruptcy this year, adding to a similar number last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. More than a dozen in rural areas have also shut their doors, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina. The AHA put the total U.S. hospital count at 6,146 in its most recent report, a decrease of 64 from the previous year.

The financial pain has flowed through to Wall Street. Many of the hospitals that entered bankruptcy this year were part of Quorum Health Corp.’s Chapter 11 filing in April. Quorum’s 24 hospitals and other facilities struggled under the demands of treating coronavirus patients. In late June, a judge approved the company’s exit plan, which wiped out shareholders and handed the chain to creditors.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hospitals are on the frontline of dealing with the pandemic but also suffer from the less remarked upon consequences of damaging consumer confidence. People have simply stopped going to the doctor.



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October 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brexit Talks Head for Crisis as Johnson Decides Whether to Walk

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

“I can’t say as we stand here that we’ll necessarily get a deal -- we have prospects of a deal,” Barnier told reporters after meeting with EU leaders, adding that, as far as he’s concerned, talks will continue in London next week and Brussels the week after. “We shall remain available until the last possible day -- the negotiations aren’t over.”

While the U.K. thinks it has gone as far as it can, and wants the EU to compromise, leaders from the bloc insisted that the onus is on the British government. It wants the U.K. to make concessions on state aid, limiting the subsidies government can hand out to businesses, before it contemplates its own compromises on fishing.

European officials brushed off Frost’s complaints and insisted they won’t persuade the bloc to shift its stance, and several voiced irritation, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Two said they judged the comments were aimed at Frost’s domestic audience and two others said they might serve to harden the EU’s position.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It might be nice to think that the Brexit story is about the triumph of freedom and national sovereignty over an overbearing increasingly federalist bureaucracy. However, the exit negotiations are much more about money and what competition will look like afterwards. The big question is not about fishing rights, financial services or customs borders. Instead, the primary sticking points are what modes of competition the UK is willing to give up in order to retain unfettered access to the EU’s market.



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October 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on outperformance following the US election:

As per JPM and Nomura   the mkt is pricing a Biden win, caution that a blue wave is necessary, otherwise will get gridlock.

Even if it happens probably get turmoil specially if we do not get clean sweep. Otherwise legal problems will be forthcoming. The groups would be HC, alternative energies, cyclical, education, infrastructure. Also China as frictions will be reduced

Can you identify possible winners, using the charts and share them?

Trust you and your family are well. Stay safe.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The narrative about who will win the US Presidential election has morphed over the last couple of weeks to pricing in a Biden victory. The catalyst for this change was the debate where the two candidates harangued each other and dropped the bar for political decorum another notch lower. Since then, confidence among Democrats has increased substantially. There has been talk of a double-digit margin of victory and a blue wave where they control both legislative branches and the Presidency.



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October 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on short covering

I hope you and the family are well. well done on your XXX trade. What would you do now if you are not in the shares? and why are the shares up 25 per cent today? Is that shorts closing out their positions, realisation that the company will not go bust or just volatility associated with the rights issue? Many thanks

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. I agree the most likely reason for today’s significant additional surge today was because of short covering. It’s up almost 100% this week so buying the rebound requires one to have some tolerance of volatility. The only way to deal with that and not lose sleep is to control the size of the position.



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October 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Morgan Stanley's Sheets Goes All-In on V-Shaped Recovery Trades

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

“The glass half-full view of stimulus talks is if you don’t get it today you’ll get it tomorrow from whomever wins the election,” Sheets said in an interview. “This V-shaped recovery is still intact.”

His conviction that growth will continue unabated is in contrast with other strategists who say the U.S. is facing a multitude of risks. Lawmakers have been deadlocked for weeks on the details of a stimulus package and President Donald Trump surprised allies with a unilateral call on Tuesday to halt talks on a deal.

Sheets’s recommendations are mirrored in hedge funds positioned ever more aggressively for a steeper U.S. yield curve, often seen as a bet on reflation. The latest data shows speculative net short positions in long bond futures have hit a record, while net long positions on 10-year Treasuries have climbed to their highest since October 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brinksmanship does not mean an agreement will fail to be reached. Regardless of which way the US election goes, the next administration has an interest in continuing to support the recovery. Fiscal stimulus will be a big part of that.



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October 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

High Conviction Calls Amid Cross Currents

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The fourth quarter is going to bring two strong sales events for Amazon. Prime Day usually occurs in July but was delayed because of the pandemic. It will now take place on the 13th. That might just kick off the beginning of the holiday season. Considering the extent of excess savings this year is likely to deliver a bumper holiday season for Amazon’s retail operation.



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October 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on my investments

Hi Eoin, could you please state what your APPROXIMATE price objective is for XXX to know whether you see this more as an opportunistic trade or more of fundamental return to e.g., the 200dma? Thank you

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. I view my trades as opportunistic and my investments as holdings in a long-term portfolio. 



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October 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba to Buy Up to 10% Stake in Duty-Free Retailer Dufry

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

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. agreed to buy as much as a 9.99% stake in Dufry AG, giving the Swiss duty-free giant a lifeline as the pandemic hammers the business.

Dufry said Monday it’s proposing a capital increase that will raise up to 700 million Swiss francs ($763 million), and Alibaba will participate. Advent International Corp., a private equity company, also plans to invest as much as 455 million francs. Dufry shares surged as much as 16%.

The Swiss company said the proceeds from the share sale will help it buy out its Hudson Ltd. U.S. unit, as previously announced.

The capital increase will bolster the company, whose market value has dropped to 1.6 billion francs as the shares trade near the lowest in a decade. The companies are also forming a joint venture in China that will combine Alibaba’s digital capabilities and network with Dufry’s travel retail business in that market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The absence of airline traffic gutted Dufry’s business model. That’s a condition which has been shared by every business leveraged to travel and tourism. The big question is how long air travel will take to recover. I remain of the opinion we are close to the peak of coronavirus hysteria. That suggests it can only get better from here.



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October 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

This Market Leviathan Dwarfs the Nasdaq Whale

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of John Auther’s letter. Here is a section on seasonality:

That completes the good news. The bad news is that TDFs have become so big that, like whales splashing around in the bathtub, they are affecting markets. Deluard points to the weird
coincidence that each of the last four corrections (including the massive Covid-19 market break earlier this year) bottomed with a week to go in the quarter. All but one were even on the same day of the month — the 23rd. The exception was the Christmas Eve climax to the sell-off of winter 2018, which came after the 23rd had fallen on a Sunday. Here they are:

This could be a weird coincidence. It could be an example of the power of numerology. And it could be the basis of a very specific new market aphorism. Rather than “Sell in May and go away,” we can have “Buy on the 23rd of March, June, September or December.” Most usefully, however, we might look at it as an example of the newly minted power of the TDF whales. If the market is going down, these days it is a safe bet that a big infusion of money into stocks will be coming at the end of a quarter. TDFs’ contra-cyclicality means that they act as an accidental “put” option under the market. 
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Seasonality in the market is an important factor because there is a clear trend for the market to do better at certain times of the year. Sell in May and come back on Labor/St. Leger’s Day has long highlighted the tendency of markets to do best in the 4th and 1st quarters. The Santa Claus rally between Thanksgiving in late November and the first week of the new year has also statistically returned positive results, albeit with some volatility.



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September 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Switzerland and cosmetic surgery

Hello Eoin 1.) domiciled in Switzerland I wonder what is your opinion on the SMI? 2.) watching the presidential debate, I am impressed by Biden’s face lifting - would you know or could you find out which doctor did this great job?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to subscribers. Politics is a visual profession and looking good on TV has been important since the days of JFK. Whoever is looking after the appearance of the septuagenarians running for US President deserves every penny they are earning. I'll keep my ear to ground for who that is. 



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September 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars

This chapter of Ray Dalio’s evolving book “The Changing World Order” is the most relevant to the global long-term outlook so far. Here is a section:

As far as a big hot war between the United States and China is concerned, it would include all the previously mentioned types of wars plus more pursued at their maximums because, in a fight for survival, each would throw all they have at the other, the way other countries in history have, so it would be World War III, and World War III would likely be much more deadly than World War II, which was much more deadly than World War I because of the technological advances that have been made in the ways we can hurt each other.  

In thinking about the timing of a war, I keep in mind the principle that when countries have big internal disorder, it is an opportune moment for opposing countries to aggressively exploit their vulnerabilities.  For example, the Japanese made their moves to take control of European colonies in Southeast Asia in the 1930s when the European countries were challenged by their depressions and their conflicts.  History has also taught us that when there are leadership transitions and/or weak leadership, at the same time that there is big internal conflict, the risk of the enemy making an offensive move should be considered elevated.  For example, those conditions could exist in the upcoming US presidential election.  However, because time is on China’s side (because of the trends of improvements and weakenings shown in prior charts), if there is to be a war, it is in the interest of the Chinese to have it later (e.g., 5-10 years from now when it will likely be more self-sufficient and stronger) and in the interest of the US to have it sooner.   

I’m now going to add two other types of war—1) the culture war, which will drive how each side will approach these circumstances, including what they would rather die for than give up, and 2) the war with ourselves, which will determine how effective we are, which will lead us to be strong or weak in the critical ways that we previously explored. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Governance is Everything has been a mantra at this service for decades. It is becoming increasingly relevant because standards of governance are in flux all over the world. Governance is never static, it’s the relative trend that determines the risk factor for investors. 



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September 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Democrats Crafting New $2.4 Trillion Stimulus Bill to Spur Talks

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

“We are ready for a negotiation,” she said. “I am talking with my caucus and my leadership and we will see what we are going to do,” Pelosi said.

The prospect of talks helped push stocks higher briefly, with the S&P 500 extending gains after the Pelosi and Mnuchin remarks. But that optimism was tempered by reports showing a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe and investors pulled stocks back off session highs.

The risk of a slowdown in the recovery is rising with the lack of movement on fiscal stimulus. Initial claims for unemployment insurance remained at a level above the peak during the Great Recession of 2007-09, the latest weekly data showed on Thursday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his conclusion that “it’s likely that additional fiscal support will be needed,” speaking at the same Senate panel where Mnuchin was testifying.

The recovery has been faster than anticipated so far, Powell said, thanks to income support to those affected by the pandemic.

“The risk is that they’ll go through that money, ultimately, and have to cut back on spending and maybe lose their home,” the Fed chief said. “That’s the downside risk of no further action.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for investors is to determine how credible this news story is. The Fed has been very clear that it sees a need for additional stimulus and that the path out of the recession is dependent on support mechanisms remaining open ended.



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September 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on betting stocks:

I may be mistaken but I thought in one of your commentaries you listed some betting stocks.

Assuming the continue pandemic mode, sport fans may be eager to bet, same for the elections, Point bets PBH .au and Penn gaming PENN may be good idea.

DraftKings is the name that has been recognized DNKG

 Pls. confirm you had mentioned in one of your commentaries, alternatively, any ideas / opinion on the space

Best keep safe

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. I have spoken about the airline and tourist sectors generally but not about pure gambling plays. However, I agree that speculative fervour is a significant factor in the market today. The lack of sports events to bet on has been a factor in the surge in online stock market trading among retail investors. The buzz people get from punting is addictive so demand will likely persist for at least as long as their money lasts. The online venues are likely to benefit at the expense of physical locations.



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September 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on unwinding COVID-19 restrictions, fires and governance

Hi Eoin - hope you are keeping safe & well. It is sad to see the fires causing so much devastation in your state once again, and you are also dealing with the "new norm" and the unsettling Covid world. With this in mind your readers may find this article of interest. Stay safe 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your well wishes. The headlines about California are terrifying and I can see why people question the decision to live here. The place is either jammed with cars, choking on smog, shaking with earthquakes, burning to the ground or dying en masse from the coronavirus. On top of that the occasional surfer is munched on by a Great White Shark and we are all about to be inundated with rising sea levels.  

Any loss of life is a tragedy and I know this is not going to sound politically correct but we’re fine. We knew the shelter in place orders were coming so we stocked up early. As soon as the tennis courts opened up, we started playing again. Over the course of the last few months my resting heart rate has fallen to 43 and I’m fitter than I have been in years.

Eating lots of fruit and veg, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, moderating one’s consumption of alcohol and practicing as much physical activity as you can, without injuring yourself, should be everyone’s prescription for life. The fact it helps keep illness at bay is a bonus.



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September 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on journalistic independence.

Dear Eoin, I suppose you are doing well since I’ve been following your research through all these months. Pandemic changed a lot of things, but we had the crisis of our own. We built the leading Russian business daily but this year, after more than 20 years of our efforts, it was effectively taken from us through machinations brought about by forces close to Kremlin. You can have a look, this is the early July statement by Reporters Without Borders 

By now, almost all members of the newsroom have left, Vedomosti degraded very quickly and stopped being independent, honest and objective. But a group of journalists and editors including myself have launched the new online publication VTimes - https://vtimes.io . The full-fledged launch including new web-site is scheduled for October but we’ve been active with our articles and podcasts on social platforms, such as Telegram, Facebook etc., since August and feel tremendous support from readers many of whom switched from Vedomosti to VTimes. Last week we began crowdfunding campaign that can be supported from anywhere. I have already used your most valuable comments in my stories for VTimes and will continue to do so.

I am writing now about rather quick rebound of the global trade. In particular, according to calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the trade volumes recovered about half of this year’s historic loss in four months while it took 13 months after 2008 crisis had begun. Some other information on the issue can be found in the WSJ story - 

And major exporters of goods, such as China, Korea, Germany, now recover quicker than economies more depending on services. You several times wrote about US-China trade from your personal point of view, or rather your wife’s business. I also remember you describing situation in Los Angeles port. Can you tell, what is the situation now, for me to get first-hand experience?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this update and please accept my condolences in seeing your work disappear into the hands of an interloper. I also wish you the best of luck with your new venture. Journalistic independence is under threat all over the world, not just in Russia. The price for holding a contrary opinion is rising all the time. That’s a clear sign of deteriorating standards of governance globally which suggests the risk premium is rising.



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September 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiscal Cliff + Peak Fed = Second Leg of Correction

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has injected an additional element of contention into the US Presidential Election competition. It therefore further reduces the potential for an additional stimulus in the short term. Meanwhile, central banks have appeared reticent to boost liquidity. The partial rebound in economic activity has improved the velocity of money reading but it is raw liquidity measures that stoke leveraged bets.



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September 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Deutsche Bank Leaders Were Warned of Compliance Lapses

This article by Greg Farrell and Steven Arons for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

BuzzFeed also reported that a team from Deutsche Bank’s audit division conducted a review of the Moscow operation in 2014 and gave the office a “green” rating. Christian Sewing, now the bank’s chief executive officer, was global head of audit at the time, though he had no “direct or indirect involvement” in that probe, a Deutsche Bank spokesperson told BuzzFeed.

Sewing oversaw an internal investigation of the mirror trades the following year, which led to the lender shuttering its securities unit in the country. Achleitner appointed him CEO three years later.

BuzzFeed wrote that the volume of Russian money flowing into the U.S. financial system was so big that a team of experts at Bank of America raised the issue at a meeting with Deutsche Bank in London in early 2016. The issue was eventually escalated within Bank of America and one of its senior managers raised the issue with Achleitner himself. Bank of America in February of that year filed a suspicious activity report with the U.S. Treasury Department.

Deutsche Bank in a statement cast doubt over some element of that report, saying in Germany’s two-tier board system, it wouldn’t have been the role of the supervisory board chairman to get involved in the matter. Instead, it was the chairman of the management board -- John Cryan at the time -- who had a meeting with a Bank of America executive.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a lot of money to be made in laundering money and there is a lot of money to be laundered. That pretty much ensures it is going to be a pervasive practice across the global financial system. In many respects it is akin to the drug trade. No matter how much money is spent on stamping it out, it always finds a way through.



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September 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.K. Imposes Further Curbs as Coronavirus Infections Surge

This article by Alex Morales and Emily Ashton for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Hancock said the country faces a “big moment” but emphasized a second lockdown “is not the proposal that’s on the table.” Asked if scientists are saying schools and business don’t need to be closed, he replied: “that’s right.”

“The strategy is to keep the virus down as much as is possible, whilst protecting education and the economy and doing everything we possibly can for the cavalry that’s on the horizon,” he said, referring to efforts to develop Covid-19 vaccines, new testing technologies and treatments.

Much is riding on the government’s test-and-trace program, which officials regard as vital to keep infection rates down and to give people confidence to return to work. But the system is failing to meet key targets, including on the rapid turnaround of tests and the number of people deemed at risk of contracting the virus who are contacted.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The rising number of cases is a concern. However, it has not transferred into a higher death rate. Some would argue that a rising death toll is inevitable but that is not necessarily the case.

You can’t die twice. Many of the deaths were among the most susceptible groups. Lessons have finally been learned. Older, sicker people are now better protected. At the same time methods for treating the virus have improved. The situation today is not comparable to what prevailed in February.



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September 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CME's First Water Futures Contract Is Coming With West on Fire

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

“It’s really a unique mechanism for investors themselves and California to be able to at the very least understand and price the risk and potentially hedge the risk of water price volatility,” said Carter Malloy, founder and chief executive officer of AcreTrader, a farmland investing platform.

“The crucial thing is right now we have very little visibility” on what water prices will look like in the future, he said.

Water preservation and distribution could become increasingly attractive as investors like Jeff Ubben, who recently launched Inclusive Capital Partners, look to tackle problems ranging from environmental damage to food scarcity through their funds.

Climate advocates have warned in recent years for the potential of water wars as competition increases between needs from agriculture, energy and growing cities. Food production in particular could be vulnerable as drought makes it increasingly difficult to grow crops in many parts of the world and farmers balance water and land needs with protecting forest in places like Brazil’s Amazon.

“Food is going to be a flash point” in the world going forward as climate change makes production more challenging, Carter Roberts, chief executive officer of World Wildlife Fund, said in an interview at the Bloomberg Green Festival this week.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A couple of the other directors at the Nevada Trust Company sit on the board of Ducks Unlimited. It’s a conservancy group run by hunters and aims to protect as much wetland habitat has possible. Water rights and abeyance agreements are the bread and butter of the organisation.



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September 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia Unemployment Drops as Half of Jobs Lost Recovered

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

The data’s strength was surprising because the period spanned Melbourne’s shift to Stage 4 restrictions and a curfew to contain a rapidly spreading outbreak, as well as nervousness in neighboring New South Wales that it was headed down the same path. The labor market’s ability to absorb this weakness and maintain its recovery is testament to the government’s signature JobKeeper employment subsidy -- that will extend into 2021 -- and central bank stimulus.

Self-employed workers drove the monthly jobs increase. As part-time jobs returned at twice the pace of full-time, the ubiquitous food delivery services, with its riders pedaling the streets of Australia’s cities, are expected to be responsible for much of this rise.

“The upshot is that the unemployment rate is now unlikely to climb to 8.5% over the coming months as we had anticipated, let alone the 10% predicted by the RBA and the Treasury,” said Marcel Thieliant, senior economist for Australia at Capital Economics. “Indeed, with restrictions in Victoria set to be loosened toward year-end, employment should continue to rise.”

The Reserve Bank of Australia, which has kept its benchmark interest rate near zero since March, when it began buying government bonds to ensure the yield on three-year remained around 0.25%, had predicted the jobless rate would climb to around 10% later this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia has successfully contained the coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne but the whole economy benefits from the monetary and fiscal stimulus to aid Victoria. With the RBA’s cash target rate at 0.25% Australia’s higher growth sectors that can benefit from access to abundant liquidity should continue to prosper.



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September 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GE Surges as Culp Predicts Positive Cash Flow in Second Half

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

Key markets are stabilizing and GE is making “good progress” in cutting costs by $2 billion and saving $3 billion in cash to contend with the coronavirus pandemic, Culp said. While the recovery will be gradual, results are improving and GE is poised for continued cash-flow gains through the end of the year, he
said.

“I sit here today feeling very confident about where we are and where we’re going despite all of the trials and tribulations that Covid has certainly thrown at us,” Culp said at a Morgan Stanley conference Wednesday.

The CEO’s optimistic tone marks a turnabout from late July, when he stopped short of saying GE would generate free cash flow in the second half. The pandemic has prompted an unprecedented collapse in air travel, gutting demand for the company’s jet engines and crimping sales of other products such as gas turbines and medical equipment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Manufacturers of big pieces of equipment that require teams of people to operate were hit hard by COVID-19. However, a number had been trending lower for a long time before pandemic hit and rationalisation plans were already well underway. There is no doubt that the ill effects of the lockdown are non-trivial but valuations are much improved and a return to profitability is likely to be rewarded by investors.



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September 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Gives Markets Just Enough Support, Lets Yuan Strengthen

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

“The PBOC is sending a signal that it will not tighten monetary policy quickly, but also it’s less likely to use broad easing measures such as a reserve ratio cut,” said Xia Le, chief economist at PingAn Digital Economic Research Center. “This will benefit government bonds in the short term. But in the longer run, the performance of the debt is more dependent on China’s economy and the U.S. election.”

The yield on 10-year government bonds dropped 4 basis points to 3.11% as of 4:15 p.m. in Shanghai. The yuan last traded at 6.7815.

The PBOC offered 600 billion yuan ($88.1 billion) of one-year funding with the medium-term lending facility, according to a statement. That will more than offset the 200 billion yuan in loans that come due on Thursday, implying a net injection of 400 billion yuan, the largest monthly addition since July 2018. It kept the interest rate on the funds unchanged at 2.95%.

Chinese lenders -- the main buyers of government debt -- are compelled to buy 1.13 trillion yuan of new debt this month and repay 1.7 trillion yuan of short-term interbank debt. Financial institutions are also hoarding funds for quarter-end regulatory checks. Adding to the liquidity strain is the authorities’ crackdown on high-yielding financial products, which has limited their ability to attract deposits.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chinese stimulus has taken a slightly different path to that followed by the Fed or ECB but it is certainly present. China’s steel and aluminium production are hitting new highs and Chinese demand for copper is the primary factor behind recent strong pricing. The clear message here is that China is pulling on the traditional levers for growth which is spurring infrastructure and industrial development. They clearly intend to come out of the pandemic in a stronger position than before they went in.



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September 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Industrials Conference: Strategy Sector Views + Analyst Stock Picks

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Media commentary continues to focus on the number of new cases of COVID-19 but that is an irrelevant figure. The numbers of hospitalisations and deaths and the fear that healthcare systems would be overrun was the reason for locking down economies. The reality today is even in countries where the number of cases is increasing, the hospitalization rate has not increased because most newly infected people are younger. Obviously, there are risks that younger people will infect older people but that is a manageable risk compared to the financial stress of total cessation of economic activity.



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September 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Legion of Day Traders Is Taking Over Korea's Stock Market

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

Known for their love of risk, individual investors appear to be changing the contours of South Korea’s broader market. They are the force behind the benchmark Kospi index’s 64% rebound from its March low -- the strongest performance in Asia in that period -- having bought a net 25.6 trillion won ($21.6
billion) worth of stocks since then even as foreign funds and institutional investors sold. In the U.S., the Robinhood craze means that retail investors now account for roughly 20% of equity trading, up from 15% historically, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysis.

“Retail investors appear to be seeking short-term profits after hearing their next-door neighbors earned lots of money from stocks after the March selloff,” said You Seung-Min, chief strategist at Samsung Securities Co.

The activity of Korean short-term traders in September hasn’t been limited to typical darlings like preferred stocks or shares of healthcare firms. They have also dominated trading in blue-chip companies like Samsung Electronic Co., about 81% of value traded this month through Sept. 8, and SK Hynix Inc.,
almost 76%.

“Unlike previously, they are trading large-cap stocks as well because they believe some large-size firms may be able to make a huge profit amid the spread of the Covid-19,” You said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The South Korea and Taiwanese markets are heavily oriented towards technology companies which has made them a natural destination for traders playing the stay-at-home momentum trade. South Korean retail traders were also highly active in the cryptocurrency markets in 2017. That experience may have emboldened them to be more aggressive in pursuing gains during this momentum move.



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September 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Considers Legal Action Over U.K. Plan for Brexit Breach

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

The EU may have a case to seek legal remedies under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement even before controversial provisions in the U.K. internal-market bill are passed by Parliament, and would have a clear justification once the bill becomes law, according to the bloc’s preliminary analysis of the U.K. legislation.

Johnson is facing a backlash from the EU and from within his own ruling Conservative Party after his government said it is ready to break its commitments to the EU over the Irish border. With negotiations over a trade deal already deadlocked over state aid rules and fishing quotas, the controversy is fueling concern there may be no agreement by the year-end deadline, triggering tariffs between the U.K. and the world’s biggest single market.

“A no-deal is becoming more likely every day,” Manfred Weber, head of the main center-right group in the European Parliament, said Thursday in an interview with Germany’s DLF radio. “We have the feeling that Britain wants a hard Brexit for ideological reasons and as Europeans we need to prepare for the worst.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are three treaties or laws that are now in question and the UK looks like it is going to have to break one. The Act of Union created the UK. The Good Friday Agreement settled the Northern Ireland question and the Brexit agreement created a framework for the UK to trade with the EU post Brexit.



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September 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ASEAN Strategy

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from CLSA 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. 

One of the greatest advantages emerging markets have over developed markets is they get to skip stages of development. The rollout of remote working, more online services like shopping, entertainment and relocating business activities to the cloud is likely to have a much bigger impact on growth in developing countries because the leap in productivity gained is so much greater. That is likely to set up continued outsized growth for years to come.

 



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September 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boris Johnson's Taste for Brexit Danger Could Doom EU Trade Deal

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

The prime minister could walk away this year and seek to re-open negotiations at a later date. “Our door will never be closed,” Johnson said. “We will of, course, always be ready to talk to our EU friends even in these circumstances.”

Crucially, though, Johnson is a politician who has shown himself to be flexible and often keeps people guessing until the last moment. He says he wants a deal. His officials insist he does, too, and there are still almost four months to go before the real deadline at the end of the year.

The leak of government plans to dilute parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement sparked muted warnings from Brussels on Monday and private dismay from EU officials. There cannot be a trade deal if Johnson breaks his promises on the earlier divorce accord, the EU said.

In London, the premier’s team worked to contain the damage and play down any threat to the carefully crafted exit agreement.

After all, Johnson is a politician who loves to be loved. During a summer in which public pressure forced him to reverse plans repeatedly -- on issues including exam grading, wearing face masks, and local lockdowns -- Johnson has shown how much he cares about staying popular.

Opinion polls are studied closely in his Downing Street office. Currently they show only limited backing for leaving without a deal. Only a quarter of voters think that would be, as Johnson says, a “good outcome,” according to YouGov. Half say such a result would be “bad” or “very bad.”

How that sentiment shifts, or not, over the next four months may give the strongest clue to whether Johnson will change his mind.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is very likely that the ambition of having an agreement in place by October was overly optimistic. As with most things in the EU, the negotiations are likely to come down to the wire in late December. Boris Johnson understands that you have to willing to walk away if you are to have any negotiating leverage. Holding out the prospect that the UK is willing to renege on treaties is part of the wider tapestry of brinksmanship.



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September 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shippers' ocean freight budgets 'about to explode' as rates hit new highs

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

Demand was strong enough to push rates up, even with cancelled sailings restored and carriers adding temporary and even new permanent services on the lane,” said Freightos CMO Eytan Buchman.

“With reports of rolled shipments and container shortages out of China indicating the extent of the demand rush, carriers will likely introduce another China-US GRI for September, which would be the sixth in just three months,” said Mr Buchman.

In his weekly US import update report, Jon Monroe, president of Jon Monroe Consulting and a representative for Worldwide Logistics, said the big US retailers were “experiencing a major surge in online orders”, and were converting many of their stores to fulfilment centres.

He said, however, that the substantial freight price hikes were taking their toll.

“Importers’ budgets are ballooning and, in some cases, about to explode from having to pay the extremely high cost of transport,” said Mr Monroe. “The record high rates will undoubtedly cause bankruptcies in the worst case, and major budget excesses in the best case, scenarios,” he warned.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There a couple of complimentary trends that have resulted in a significant bump in container shipping rates over the last month. The first is the surge in demand for new furniture as people flee the confined environment of the city for the space of the suburbs. Bigger houses need more tables, chairs, sofas, desks and TVs. These are bulky items so demand for 40ft containers has surged.

Shipping inventory has also declined because of the cost of compliance with IMO2020 regulations. The hit to demand during the lockdowns was likely a significant negative catalyst for what was already a highly pressured sector.



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