Investment Themes - Precious Metals / Commodities

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Found 611 results in Precious Metals / Commodities
June 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review May 16th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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June 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on UK listed gold shares:

Fresnillo and Hochschild, both on LSE, have had a waterfall downdraft of about 10 pc this month, whereas many gold/silver miners on the HUI or in Sydney are going sideways or upwards, and even Randgold seems to be bottoming. Would you care to comment on why this is happening? Yours anon

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and as it happens it is a subject I was looking into last night. There is certainly an anomaly evident where UK listed precious metal miners are underperforming while those listed elsewhere appear to be doing better on aggregate.



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June 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Total Known Holdings of Gold:

On Total Known ETF holdings of Gold. The charts are telling us that after a long period of ranging Gold and the precious metals are poised to break to the upside. I was rather alarmed therefore on the one- day plunge by about 7% of the above chart. Should I be, or is this some explainable aberration?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. The Total Known ETF holdings of Gold is reported with a one-day lag but it is also prone to spikes since the data is accumulated from so many sources. I checked this out with Bloomberg this morning and adjusted the chart to the up to date value. Unfortunately, while imperfect this index is about as accurate reflection as I can find of the interest investors express in holding gold-backed ETFs.



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June 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

WPM acquires cobalt stream

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Generally speaking streaming companies provide funding for struggling mines when prices are low. By historical standards cobalt prices are not low. Of course, if accepts the near mania of bullish prognostications, then cobalt is cheap.



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June 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Investing Goes AWOL As Google Searches To 'Buy Gold' Hit 11-Year Low

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Adrian Ash which may be of interest. Here is a section:

The giant SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE Arca: GLD) shrank 4% across May, erasing the previous two months of share issuance growth with the heaviest 1-month outflow since August last year.

The US Mint meantime reports selling 24,000 ounces of American Eagle gold coins, up sharply from April's 10-year low as dealers re-stocked inventory but still barely half the last 5 years' average for May.

Here at BullionVault, last month saw the lowest number of new precious-metal investors since May 2014. Down 27.7% from the previous 12-month average, the number of people using our online gold, silver and platinum market for the first time totalled just 57.2% of the last 5 years' average monthly count of new customers.

Overall, the number of people starting or increasing their gold holdings rose 12.1% from April's 27-month low, but the number of gold sellers on BullionVault rose 22.8% to a 4-month high.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Some people buy gold because it is the “anti-Dollar”. Some people buy gold because it is a monetary metal. Some people buy gold because it is store of value. Some people buy gold because it is in relatively short supply. Some people buy gold because it is lasts forever and cannot be printed into existence.



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June 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt, Uranium, and The Four Horsemen of Opportunity

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Polar Capital LLC which may be of interest. Here is a section:

In summary, world trade friction is growing.  More countries are beholden to the kindness of others for those commodities in high concentrations from nations that can employ them as weapons of response to adversarial tariffs.  What is that worth per pound of cobalt?  Nothing.  Until it is.  What is it worth that the DRC is a political quagmire and the country is about to be 75% of world production?  Nothing.  Until it is. What is it worth that China dominates cobalt chemical refining for batteries and western auto companies are still generally open on supply?  Nothing.  Until it is.  It is likely that spot prices are about to soften a bit after an ungodly strong, unabated run. We believe that weakness is merely prelude to new highs when the Fall “mating season” begins.  How do we play it?  Besides our relatively small physical positon, we own Cobalt 27 (KBLT CN) because they hold 3,000 metric tons of cobalt metal safely housed in western warehouses, and we believe they will further execute their business plan by acquiring a stream or streams before the end of the year and share that cash flow with shareholders in the form of a dividend.  We think cobalt prices can trade past the old high of $50 in 2008, a period during which battery demand from electric vehicles did not exist.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I’ll never forget the bull market in uranium that took place between 2003 and 2007. It was the easiest market in the world to monitor. The price only went up. It highlighted just how useful point and figure charts are in monitoring a runaway bull market. When the consistency of the advance changed the easy conclusion was that a peak of at least medium-term significance had been reached.



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June 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt price: Congo production surges

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Supply risks for cobalt are centred on the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is responsible for two-thirds of world output. And the country’s share will only increase over the next five years as Chinese investment in new mines come on stream.

The central African nation's output of cobalt – as a byproduct of copper production – is already soaring as top producer Glencore's operations in the country ramps up again after a refurbishment period.

The DRC produced 296,717 tonnes of copper in the first quarter of 2018, up 8.2% over the same period last year, the central bank said in a report on Thursday. Cobalt production in the first quarter of 2018 rose 34.4% to 23,921 tonnes. Global production last year was around 117,000 tonnes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The oldest adage from the commodity markets is the cure for high prices is high prices. Cobalt is up 400% already so on the supply side there is real pressure to increase supply. On the demand side consumers are investing heavily in coming up with new chemistries to reduce cobalt intensity.



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May 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In Gold We Trust

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from the team at Incrementum which may be of interest. Here is a section:

 

A

Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

lso most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

Also most relevant for the price of gold is the turning of the tide in terms of monetary policy. We find it quite remarkable that the gold price (in USD terms) bottomed out exactly at the beginning of the current rate hike cycle. When it became clear in 2015 that administered US interest rates would soon be raised, many market participants and observers sotto voce predicted a precipitous slump in the gold price. In the same year, we pointed out to our readers that rising interest rates could actually prove to be positive for the gold price. Market developments in recent years are testifying to the fact that this assessment was correct.

 

In addition to hiking interest rates since late 2015, the Fed began reducing the size of its balance sheet starting in Q4 2017, a process that has been dubbed “quantitative tightening” (QT). From our perspective, most market participants are currently massively underestimating the likely consequences of the QT process. The “everything bubble” which we discussed at length in last year’s In Gold we Trust report6 is at grave risk of bursting as more and more liquidity is withdrawn. The monthly contraction in Fed assets is gradually ratcheted up and will reach USD 50bn per month from October 2018 onward. In total, the balance sheet is to be reduced by USD 420bn in 2018 and by USD 600bn in 2019. However, we believe this monetary normalization plan is unlikely to survive a significant decline in even one, let alone several asset classes (equities, bonds, real estate). 

 

My view – Rather than think so much about a risk to the dollar’s position as the reserve currency, perhaps the bigger point is that China has a well-telegraphed decision intention to internationalise the renminbi. That holds out the long-term prospect of a true bi-polar world where competing economic bloc compete against one another.

 

If one were to think about a truly bullish case for gold that kind of scenario is definitely high in the realm of possibilities to drive investor demand. The gold price is currently holding in the region of $1300 but the medium-term pattern is one of a saucering pattern similar to the base put in during the early 2000s. However, a sustained move above $1400 will be required to confirm a return to medium-term demand dominance.

 
Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Rather than think so much about a risk to the dollar’s position as the reserve currency, perhaps the bigger point is that China has a well-telegraphed intention to internationalise the renminbi. That holds out the long-term prospect of a true bi-polar world where competing economic bloc compete against one another.



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May 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nickel Poised for Best Month Since December as Supplies Tighten

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

Nickel’s rally has been underpinned by resilient demand from the traditional stainless-steel industry, as well as predictions that it stands to benefit from growing use in the emerging electric-vehicle sector. This month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gave the metal a ringing endorsement over the next half-decade, although the bank cautioned prices may retrace near term. Stockpiles tracked by the SHFE and the LME have slumped to multi-year lows.

“Stockpiles kept falling,” said Wu Xiangfeng, an analyst at Huatai Futures Ltd. in Shanghai, adding that environmental checks in China are also reducing the output of nickel pig iron, a low-grade alternative to refined metal. “Prices can only rise if there’s no new supply.”

The market will remain in deficit this year as destocking is seen in both Shanghai and London, Ricardo Ferreira, head of market research at the International Nickel Study Group, told a conference in Shanghai on Tuesday. Even after the recent rally, the metal’s yet to reach a price that’ll incentivize new investment in class 1 primary production, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I found it almost amusing that in all the commentary about how Elon Musk called Wall Street analysts boring at the Tesla earnings meeting, no attention was paid to his statement that 8:1:1 battery chemistries are already in use in the Model 3.



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May 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Renewable energy: A green light to Copper Demand

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

There is always a new demand led story in any bull market and renewables do represent such an opportunity. However, the success of that new idea is dependent on the conventional sources of demand remaining on a steady trajectory and it is in that regard that doubts tend to be raised about copper.



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May 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Petrobras Punished by Wall Street for Caving on Fuel Prices

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

The reaction was swift and severe. Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente woke up this morning to a wave of downgrades from the same Wall Street analysts who had been praising him since he took the helm of the state-controlled oil producer two years ago.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG all cut their recommendations after Parente announced a 10 percent cut in wholesale diesel prices late Wednesday to help the government negotiate an end to a nationwide truckers strike that has wrought havoc on Latin America’s largest economy.

“The just announced diesel price reduction in response to truckers’ protest is likely to materially damage Petrobras’ perceived independence in a way that may be difficult to recover,” Frank McGann, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, wrote in a report where he cut his recommendation on the company’s American depositary receipts to neutral and his price objective to $17.

“We think that the investment case for Petrobras has been seriously damaged, and the risk profile has risen.”

While Parente said Petrobras isn’t bowing to pressure and that the temporary measure doesn’t mean a change in its pricing policy, shares extended losses in after hours trading to as low as $13.40 in late New York trading.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Petrobras is a major constituent in global high yield benchmarks so its decision to cut price against a rising oil price environment is not especially good news. Along with Turkey and Argentina, the risk in the high yield sector has increased this year.



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May 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interesting charts May 23rd 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

10-year Treasury yields fell back to test the psychological 3% today. The Fed’s Minutes highlighted less urgency to tackle the inflation rate coming in mildly ahead of target. That eased fears the yield would surge higher imminently. An overextension relative to the trend mean is evident, so there is scope for an additional pause in this area but a sustained move below 2.7% would be required to question supply dominance.



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May 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Metals and mining rising to the challenges of EV revolution

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Platts which may be of interest. Here is a section on the global steel market:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

China’s steel industry demonstrates how quickly the country can ramp up supply when the central government makes a decision to champion a sector. It did exactly the same in solar and wind and it’s doing it today in artificial intelligence and battery manufacturing. Nevertheless, the extent to which it went to any lengths to build out steel capacity now represents a challenge as the infrastructure led boom transitions to focusing on services and domestic demand.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on valuations, Dow/Gold and anti-trust:

Thanks for your comments which are very interesting, especially your focus on technology and its potential to alter radically the investment landscape.

I have 2 points of my own to make. Using gold as the standard of value for stocks is interesting but I would think valuation metrics are more useful. As you know the Shiller PE, derived by comparing the S&P to the 10-year moving average of real corporate earnings- GAAP (not adjusted)- is at the highest level since the TMT bubble popped in 2000. The ratio of market value (the Wilshire 5000+) to GDP was at all-time highs in January. We have lived through a decade of extraordinary monetary policy (almost zero interest rates and QE), which is now being reversed. I think S&P market value to S&P sales may also be at all-time highs, but I may be wrong about that.

So the starting point is pretty rich. The PE is at 25 times 4 quarter GAAP earnings, implying a 4% earnings yield. The Moody's Baa 20-year bond yield is around 4.6% so the equity premium has been negative the last 5-6 years for the first time since 1961 when the Bloomberg series started. On average equity holders over this period have earned a premium of 1.62% to reward them for investing in the riskier part of the capital structure, but now they must pay for the privilege.

However, this does not address your major point about the enormous earning potential of companies involved in future technology. Now a standard criticism of your point is that competition between businesses will reduce the excess profits to "normal profits". What economists call "consumer surplus" consists of the extra value that is transferred from businesses to consumers for free due to the operation of the competitive market which eliminates excess profits.

This flows from the ideal world of independent competitive enterprises. Anti-trust laws in the USA have been around since 1890 (Sherman Anti-Trust Act) and were designed to cause real world behaviour to better approximate the theoretical. 

What I have found interesting is that Anti-Trust is no longer as big a deal as it was when I was a student. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg testified he named 5 or 6 tech companies that are competitors of Facebook's. In this list he mentioned WhatsApp and another company (Telegram?) that he has already bought and perhaps one or two others. He also mentioned Skype, which Microsoft has bought. The big tech companies have the where with all to buy smaller rapidly growing companies and maintain tight oligopolies and thus earn outsize profits. I doubt whether many of these purchases would have passed muster from the Department of Justice's Anti-Trust division one or two generations ago.

So the key may be to watch politics and see whether the populists at some point turn their attention to Anti-Trust.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email which has given me much food for thought. As you point out there is a tendency among the producers of widgets to encounter competition which reduces the price to often unprofitable levels. At that point some of the weaker producers go out of business and a process of consolidation unfolds. The competitive Amazon marketplaces is a good example of this where producers of widgets compete on price to gain market share only for many to disappear after a relatively short time to be replaced by lower cost producers.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day another email on the CAPE and the merits of cash

In your 30th April response to my email, you say as follows "The only problem I have with comparing the current environment to that which prevailed from the early 1960s is that the market spent 13 years ranging from 2000 to 2013 so it would be unusual to begin another similar range so soon after the last one ended"

My response:  Yes, it is true that it would be unusual to "commence a similar such range so soon after the last one ended."  However, in this circumstance, there are a range of other very unusual related circumstances.

In the last 10 years, we have had a unique period of historically extreme money printing with very little consumer prices inflation as measured by the official CPI number, but this extreme period of money printing has caused very high asset price inflation - pushing many sectors back up into fairly extreme valuations as measured by historical norms.

We can also look at this phenomena from another. If we look at Professor Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio series commencing 1880, we can see that secular bear markets have typically ended with a single digit CAPE - at the end of a secular bear market, the cyclically adjusted P/E has been in the range of 5-7 in 1982 and 1921.

By contrast, the January 2018 peak in the US cyclically adjusted P/E of 33 was the second highest instance since 1880 - only being surpassed by the dot com peak in 2000 but surpassing the 1929 peak by a small margin.

So, by this (Shiller CAPE) normally fairly reliable valuation measure, the US share market on broad averages is at a fairly extreme level. I think it is fair to say that if you buy expensive assets, you should expect poor to bad average real returns over the following 10 years or so.

One last point to you 30th April comments, to the section where you say "The stock market is a better hedge against inflation than bonds because companies have the ability to raise prices and therefore dividends while bond coupons are fixed."  In a period of rapidly rising inflation like the 1970s, all listed securities including shares and bonds tend to do poorly because of the rapidly rising discount that needs to be applied when valuing such assets. By contrast, in Australia at least, during the 1970s, cash and hard assets like gold and commercial property were better investments. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this riposte to my answer to your original question posted in Comment of the Day on April 30th.



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hands Tied and Swords Bent, Emerging Markets Battle the Dollar

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

But that’s not the ominous undertone. It’s about how the traditional fortifications of emerging markets -- strong oil and commodity prices -- are failing to protect developing-nation currencies from the onslaught of a stronger dollar.

Look at the chart below. In January, developing-nation currencies and commodities fell together and rose back in tandem. But this time, while the Bloomberg Commodity Index is extending gains, currencies have collapsed. This divergence suggests that a strong U.S. dollar is more decisive for risk appetite than commodity prices.

That’s bad news for countries such as South Africa and Russia. The ruble, for instance, is now moving in the opposite direction to oil even though it’s the country’s biggest export earner. Their usual positive correlation was destroyed by a four-day decline in the currency in the wake of enhanced U.S. sanctions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Dollar’s rally is resuming with some of the most pressured emerging markets being forced to raise rates aggressively to stem declines. Argentina’s 40% repo rate is beginning to have the desired effect but it is one of a very small number of currencies that was able to squeeze out a rally against a resurgent Dollar today.



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review April 10th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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May 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBC Electric Vehicle Forecast Through 2050 & Primer

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

The outlook for electric car adoption is a central theme in the outlook for lithium miners and other suppliers of the growing battery market. Going from 0.8% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2025 is not far of a 10X growth rate and while ambitious is realizable. There are massive construction projects underway, particularly in Asia to build out production capacity of batteries.



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May 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Gives Americans the Gift of High Lumber Prices

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

Lumber prices are really high right now! The Chicago Mercantile Exchange futures contract for the softwood two-by-fours used in framing houses closed at its highest price ever on Tuesday, in fact.

If one adjusts for inflation, current prices are no longer record-setting. But an interesting pattern does appear if one adds in a few other key data points.

It appears that every time the U.S. picks a fight with Canada over its alleged subsidies of softwood lumber — which comes from coniferous trees such as pines, firs and cedars — U.S. lumber prices go up. The match is likely even closer than the chart above indicates, given that threats of tariffs (“countervailing duties,” to be precise) and follow-up tariff increases also affected prices.

The U.S.-Canada softwood lumber war first flared up in the early 1980s. Imports of lumber from Canada had been on the rise as environmental restrictions cut back on logging in U.S. National Forests, and the U.S. timber industry began to complain that Canadian local, provincial and national governments, which own almost all of the country’s forest land, were charging such low prices for timber that it amounted to an unfair subsidy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How long before the homebuilding lobby starts to complain about an inability to pass on higher input costs to the end consumer? So far, the rising real estate market has meant that hasn’t been an issue, but it is inevitable at some stage. When that happens the reduction in tariffs on Canadian timber will represent a significant headwind for lumber prices. After all, the oldest adage in the commodity markets is “the cure for high prices is high prices”.



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May 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elysis: A New Era for the Aluminum Industry

This press release today announcing a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa, with technical input from Apple, may be of interest to subscribers. Here is the key point apart from being carbon free:

A NEW ERA FOR THE ALUMINUM INDUSTRY

There’s a new, revolutionary way to make aluminum. It eliminates all direct greenhouse gases. And it produces pure oxygen.

 The technology can create more aluminum in the same size smelting cell as the traditional process. And it can be installed in new facilities or retrofitted for existing ones.

Eoin Treacy's view -

What I think will surprise many people is that a test facility has been running at Alcoa’s Pittsburgh test facility since 2009 so this is not some far-off pipe dream but it already has a proof of concept and is primed for commercialization. The first commercially oriented industrial project is expected to begin producing aluminium in 2024.



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May 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

War on coal making the world's top mine owners a lot richer

This article appeared in Mining.com and may be of interest. Here is a section:

Some of the more significant declines are occurring in China, the top mine operator, and financing for new supplies is drying up. That’s creating a windfall for the producers who remain.

“It’s a perverse consequence” of policies intended to combat climate change, said Julian Treger, co-founder of activist investor Audley Capital Advisors LLP. “It’s going to be very difficult for funders to provide capital to bring new coal assets online. We have a very interesting supply and demand picture being set up.”

Anglo American, which not long ago wanted to unload its coal assets, has seen income from the business triple since 2015 to become the mining company’s most profitable commodity. Last year, Glencore reported earnings from the fuel more than doubled, while BHP Billiton said it surged sixfold.

While global coal use and mine output has been dropping, production failed to keep pace with demand in 2016 for the first time in seven years, data compiled by BP Plc show. As supplies continue to drop, the amount available for export is shrinking. BMO Capital Markets says the 1 billion-metric-ton seaborne market will have a small deficit by 2021 and expand to 15 million tons in 2022.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Coal is about as unfashionable as one might imagine and it must be very difficult for companies to raise capital to increase supply considering how negative sentiment is. At the same time, coal is one of the world’s most popular sources of energy and is indispensable in the production of steel. A good many coal companies when bust before prices started to recover in 2016 and supply is still constrained.



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May 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Supercharging Its Model 3 Means Less Cobalt, More Nickel

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

Tesla Inc. may have some bad news for those betting on cobalt to continue its record-breaking rally, and good news for nickel bulls.

While the weight of its Model 3 is on par with gasoline- powered counterparts, its battery cells are of the highest energy density used in any electric vehicle, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday in a letter to shareholders.

“We have achieved this by significantly reducing cobalt content per battery pack while increasing nickel content and still maintaining superior thermal stability,” Tesla said.

Cobalt prices have more than tripled in the past couple of years as companies like Tesla strive to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream car market, and with supply largely dependent on a few mines in the politically volatile Democratic Republic of Congo. Nickel, which has gained about 50 percent in the same span, is far more widely available.

Tesla says the cobalt content in its nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a nickel- manganese-cobalt ratio of 8:1:1.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the last six months I have seen estimates for when the 8:1:1 ratios of nickel : manganese : cobalt would be achieved in commercial batteries that ranged from 5 to 10 years from now. Tesla has these batteries in the limited number of Model 3 cars it is putting out today. That is a testament to exponential pace of technological innovation because it represents another powerful enhancement to energy density.



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April 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the long-term outlook and potential for inflation

In your 10/April long-term themes review, you said: "So, the big question many people have is if we accept the bullish hypothesis how do we justify the second half of this bull market based on valuations where they are today? ..... However, the answer is also going to have to include inflation. "

My thoughts, not in any particular order:

If we look at Robert Shiller's research ~1870-now, on the US share market, his studies show that historically, extreme valuations in the US share market (as assessed by cyclically adjusted P/E ratio) have always been followed by poor average real return over the following 10-20 years."
You point to inflation as to how a secular bull market (in nominal terms implied) can now occur for the US share market (by implications I think you are reflecting on the US share market) over say the next 10-15 years (say).  You use the experience of Argentina and Venezuela as justification for your argument - where from memory, there was hyperinflation in the periods to which you refer.

First, I do not think you are suggesting hyperinflation for the USA .... mismatch 1.
For Argentina and Venezuela, I think their currencies also crashed. I do not think you are suggesting the US dollar is going to crash. Possible mismatch 2.
Rather than a comparison with Venezuela and Argentina, perhaps a better analogy is to the period in the USA following the late 1960s, when US share markets where at quite high valuations (though not nearly as expensive as now on a CAPE basis). Following the peak valuations of the late 1960s, the US share market went sideways (with some large dips) over the next 16 years or so.

In summary, I am not sure that your argument is particularly robust.  Yes, the technological revolution is a critically important new phase which will have a huge impact over the next 10 and 20 years..... and there may well be a secular bull market in that sector ... but does that really mean that the technology sector by itself will take the whole S&P500 with it in a secular bull market for the next 10 or 20 years?

Your thoughts?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which gave me plenty of room for thought. My first reflection is that one of the benefits of this service is the Socratic dialectical method unfolds in real time as these big topics offer endless room for discussion and revision. I spent a good deal of time talking about long-term cycles in the Big Picture Video on the 27th which you may find of interest. 



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April 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's lithium king is ready to unleash a flood of new supply

This article from Bloomberg appeared in Mining.com and may be of interest. Here is a section:

“There is a legitimate concern on the side of battery manufacturers about long-term availability of supply,” said Daniel Jimenez, an SQM vice president who recently estimated that the industry will require a capital investment of $10 billion to $12 billion in the next decade to meet demand.

The green light to mine vastly more lithium, combined with pending changes in its ownership structure, has suddenly put SQM in the sights of several global mining companies, including London-based giant Rio Tinto Group. Among the most aggressive bidders is China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp., which has offered to buy SQM shares at a 20 percent premium, Eduardo Bitran, the former head of government development agency Corfo, said earlier this year.

“Tianqi owning the stake would be another step towards overall Chinese consolidation of the lithium industry,” Chris Berry, a New York-based energy-metals analyst and founder of House Mountain Partners LLC., said in an email.

Eoin Treacy's view -

SQM’s growth projections have been among the chief catalysts in the decline of lithium miners over the last few months. The big question is how quickly demand picks up over the next decade to absorb additional supply. Lithium was a supply inelasticity meets rising demand market from 2013 but really only garnered interest in the last couple of years as the shares turned to outperformance. Supply is now increasing so we are likely to see more volatility in the respective shares. This story further highlights China's intention to be the dominant force in the electric car sector. 

 

 



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April 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why High-Flying U.S. Home Prices Are About to Get Another Jolt

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

The framing of homes, or putting up roofs and walls, accounts for 15 percent of the cost of construction. A composite measure of the cost of lumber for framing rose 16 percent from December to March, according to data from Random Lengths, a publisher of information on wood products.

And it’s not just lumber. A Labor Department gauge of prices paid at the producer level for construction inputs -- everything from particleboard and plumbing to concrete and insulation -- was up 5.1 percent in March from a year earlier, the biggest annual advance in nearly eight years.

So far, neither higher home prices or a four-year high in mortgage costs have been enough to dissuade buyers. Results of the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index on Tuesday showed 1.7 percent of the group’s respondents in April planned to purchase a new home in the next six months, matching the highest share in this expansion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The falling cost of mobile phone tariffs are what helped to keep inflationary pressures under wraps last year. However, that effect will fall off the gauge for the March reading which will be released on May 1st. Meanwhile, the range of new inflationary pressures on the horizon continue to increase.



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April 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Controversial New Milk Shakes Up Big Dairy

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

Both are following the success of a2 Milk Co., a New Zealand-based company that has found fans in its home country, as well as Australia and China, and has recently entered the U.S. market. The company’s revenue is expected to grow some 70% in the year ending in June, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It already has more than 10% of the milk market in Australia. A similar share in the U.S. would be about $1.5 billion in annual sales, according to Euromonitor International.

A2 milk differs from regular milk because the latter contains both A1 and A2 proteins. Supporters of A2 milk contend it is the A1 protein that causes indigestion for many people, a problem that lactose-free milk won’t solve. Skeptics say there hasn’t been enough independent research to show there is any real benefit to A2 milk, which is naturally produced by cows with a particular set of genes. A DNA test can determine which cows in a herd produce A2-only milk.

Although the science behind so-called A2 milk remains disputed, the entry of big companies into the market shows how changing consumer preferences create new opportunities that dairy giants can’t afford to ignore—especially as profits have been eroded in recent years by everything from almond milk to dairy-free ice cream. In the U.S., traditional milk sales have fallen about 7% annually on average over the last four years, according to the most recent data from Nielsen.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A2 Milk is a remarkable success story and it represented part of the discussion at the recent Melbourne venue for The Chart Seminar. There is evidence of a clear acceleration for what has already been an impressive trend and the share has now posted its largest reaction to date.



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April 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what to own in the latter stages of a bull market

Hello Eoin, Whatever age you happen to be, it is always salutary to lose a parent. A constant pillar in one's life has gone and no more questions can be asked. It brings into relief one's own fragility and mortality in a way that few, if any, other deaths will do. I hope your mother's passing was a comfortable one. My condolences to you and your family.

While it is probably improper to revert immediately to business, I am sure you will want to re-immerse yourself in the observation and interpretation of markets without delay. On this basis, I have a question:

Given that we believe we are heading for monetary contraction, a rise in interest rates and accelerating inflation how should we be positioning portfolios? Banks and resources should be well bid for the time being and Japan should benefit from inflation.

But how about India, China and the other economies of North and South East Asia? What sectors and markets are best avoided? At what point does one accumulate cash? Gold is much talked about as an inflation hedge but that will be a shooting star - it might soar in the near future but it will then weaken once more. It is to be regarded as a hedge or a trade, not as an investment - at least that's my view.

In my own portfolio, I've trimmed China and India, reduced or eliminated high flying 'big-tech' stocks (but not touched PCT), increased my Japan weighting and increased cash. I'm probably underweight gold. I plan to accumulate more cash but at this stage, I've no idea what holdings I shall reduce or sell over the coming months. Providing one is not losing money, investment is fun but over the next two or three years, I suspect there will be plenty of opportunities to lose money which we should try to avoid. It's a tough time for you and you have plenty on your plate but if you care to comment on these musings it would be much appreciated. All best.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your condolences. The outpouring of warmth and compassion from subscribers has been enormously gratifying for my whole family and I. My mother’s passing leaves a hole in the wider family, since she was the matriarch in no uncertain terms, but it has also encouraged us all to work harder at communicating.

This is a detailed question and there is no one simple answer. I’ll attempt to more fully explore these issues over the course of the next few days and weeks but here are some of my current thoughts.



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April 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trade War and its effects on commodities

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Barnabas Gan from OCBC which may be of interest. Here is a section:  

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Fears about trade wars are ebbing and flowing with optimism a détente will be reached one week superseded by fears tit-for-tat measures will deteriorate further the next. The banning of ZTE from selling phones in the USA is an escalation while the potential for Mnuchin to visit China is seen as a positive. What this suggests, at least to me, is this is an ongoing situation which is still some way from a resolution. If that is the correct assumption then it is not ideal for investor sentiment.
 



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April 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Historical charts of gold

History is not repeated but it does tend to rhyme. One of the biggest factors behind gold’s advance from the early 2000s was because of a lack on faith in the ability of fiat currencies to hold their value. The growth of markets like China and India then contributed an additional demand driver.

I am intrigued by the similarity in the saucering base formations gold put in during the early 2000s and what it is doing now. History need not repeat itself but these charts are certainly evidence that this is not the first-time gold has put in a lengthy period of ranging.

Smaller gold miners like St Barbara, Evolution Mining are outperforming at present as production ramps up and costs are kept under control.

April 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Metal Matters

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

Funds turn buyers again on Comex
The net long fund position (NLFP) has up until recently been declining, but this has mainly been a result of stale long liquidation, as seen by the drop in the black line in the chart above. But, while the longs have cut exposure (until recently); shorts have not been getting bearish, as seen by the declining red line. This has suggested longs have grown impatient as Gold prices have failed to break higher, but lack of upside has not encouraged bears to increase exposure. More recently, fund longs have started to increase exposure again. The gross long fund position has climbed to 259,032 contracts as of 27th March, from a recent low of 223,882 contracts. The NLFP has returned to 203,354 contracts from a low of 148,731 contracts on 20th March. This latest change was driven by 35,150 contracts of fresh buying and 19,473 contracts of short-covering.

Investors increase exposure to ETFs
Holdings in Gold ETFs are edging higher with investors adding 18.5 tonnes in March. Holdings now stand at 2,162 tonnes, up some 39 tonnes so far this year. Holdings averaged 2,068 tonnes in 2017. Given the lukewarm investor interest in Gold ETFs, it may be that the market is waiting for prices to break higher above the $1,366-$1,388/oz resistance area before increasing exposure.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

ETF Holdings of Gold have shown surprising resolve over the last 18 months. The fact that all those long positions, opened when gold rallied to break its downtrend in 2016, hung around until now, and are adding to the total outstanding long position, is a testament to the bullish interest in the metal. Considering how volatile the price has been over the same period this is a particularly noteworthy development.



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April 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on guest publications and lithium miners

What are your current views on lithium and lithium miners?

I continue to enjoy your tour de force reporting and analysis. Nothing stops you, not even airline travel. Amazing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this question which I’m sure will be of interest to other subscribers. It’s been a busy few weeks, what with an enjoyable and educative trip to Japan last week and the upcoming flight to Melbourne for The Chart Seminar and another conference next week, where I’m looking forward to chatting with Marc Faber.

Sometimes I look back with a sense of yearning on the days when David could still take a month off in August to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again. In fact, part of the reason he brought me onboard in 2003 was to ensure the service could move to a seamless daily publication schedule.

I’m beginning to think about how to arrange taking a holiday over the summer. David used to invite guest writers to contribute copy to the site when he was away and I would like to do the same thing while I am away for perhaps two weeks in July or August. If any subscribers are interested in submitting an article during that time please let me know and I would be happy to discuss the conditions under which that might be appropriate.

Now let’s turn to lithium miners.



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April 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudi Arabia Is Said to Signal Ambition for $80 Oil Price

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

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih has also sounded increasingly hawkish in public, suggesting that OPEC should keep tightening the oil market even through the cartel is close to meeting its goal of cutting crude inventories in industrialized countries back to their five-year average.

In an interview in New York last month, he said today’s price near $70 a barrel hadn’t been sufficient to stimulate investment in the industry, which remains significantly below levels seen before 2014’s price crash.

"That tells me that the pricing signals that have come out of the recovery haven’t been sufficient," he said, without giving a target for prices.

The Saudi Ministry of Energy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Domestic Policy
Riyadh’s desire for higher prices is driven by domestic policy imperatives. Although Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit has narrowed sharply as oil has recovered, Prince Mohammed has set out an ambitious and expensive economic and social reform program. He also needs to pay for the kingdom’s increasingly drawn-out military entanglement in Yemen.

While there’s little indication the Saudis are prepared to deepen their oil cuts to achieve $80, at the very least the aspiration suggests they’ll keep with the current measures until the price goal is closer. Riyadh is counting on declining Venezuelan oil production, the likely imposition of new U.S. sanctions on Iran, and continued demand growth to absorb U.S. shale production.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In addition to sanctions on Iran, the deteriorating relationship Europe and the US have with Russia is exerting an influence on oil prices which closed above $70 today and in dynamic fashion. That is going to act as an incentive to increase supply among various higher cost producers such as shale properties, tar sands and deep water, though that supply is going to take time to come to market.

 



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April 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Two major crop scourges are hybridizing to produce a new mega-pest

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

Helicoverpa armigera, commonly known as the cotton bollworm, and Helicoverpa zea, the corn earworm, are two types of very hungry caterpillar that cause billions of dollars of damage to crops every year. Corn, cotton, tomato and soybean are just some of the many crops these pests can attack, with the cotton bollworm having developed resistance to all pesticides targeted at it.

In 2017, an eight-year project that mapped the entire genome of both caterpillars was completed. The study was designed to help researchers identify specific genes that cause the pests to become resistant to pesticides. A new paper has now been published showing evidence that the two moths are clearly hybridizing in a variety of novel ways.

"No two hybrids were the same suggesting a 'hybrid swarm' where multiple versions of different hybrids can be present within one population," says one of the researchers on the study, Tom Walsh.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A plague of locusts, let alone moths, is not currently a problem. However new varieties of insects that are immune to the most commonly used pesticides represents a threat to supply. That’s an important consideration for crop prices particularly since oversupply has resulted in the sector underperforming the broader commodity complex over the last few years.



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April 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Goldman Sachs: 20 Years Left of Mineable Gold

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

"The combination of very low concentrations of metals in the Earth’s crust, and very few high-quality deposits, means some things are truly scarce." He wrote in the report.

King notes that the intention behind the report was to highlight the areas of scarcity, and demonstrate how scarcity is the ultimate driver of value and investment.

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, these are the so-called precious metals (and diamonds), and that their value is derived from the fact they are rare." He writes, "Gold has been used as a measure of wealth for more than 4,000 years, as the ancient Egyptians soon worked out that gold was not only shiny and heavy, but rare."

He adds that the relative scarcity of the commodity, and "the market’s belief that new discoveries will be limited, is what drives the price of these super-rare commodities."

King’s report falls in line with the forecast made last year, estimating that 2015 will be the year when gold production would reach its peak in the mining industry, a concept known as Peak Gold.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mineral discoveries are a function of geology, technology and price. Shale oil was known about for over a century but was completely uneconomic until technology improved and that changed the pricing structure of the gas, and later the oil markets, beyond recognition.



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March 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Anti-Corruption Crusader Is Eyeing Brazil Presidential Bid, Sources Say

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

Barbosa, a 63 year-old black man raised in poverty, became a household name in Brazil during the Supreme Court’s handling of the so-called "mensalao" corruption scandal in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Of all the potential candidates for October’s presidential elections, Barbosa has one of the lowest rejection ratings, at just 14 percent, according to Datafolha polling company. That compares with 60 percent for President Michel Temer and 40 percent for Lula.

The former judge is a presidential candidate "with potentially the best profile in the field," according to a note published by Eurasia Group on March 29, adding that he has a good mix of experience, anti-corruption credentials, and credibility on social issues.

"It’s a huge movement on the electoral chess board," said Richard Back, a political analyst at XP Investimentos.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Brazilian iBovespa Index has been the best performing major market globally over the first quarter. It has been assisted by improving perceptions that the crusade against institutional and political corruption is gaining traction and the relative stability of the Real over the same period.



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March 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fear of trade war between US and China

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

ETF Holdings of gold has been remarkably steady since the initial surge in 2016 suggesting investors were willing to continue to hold gold despite a lengthy period of consolidation. Holdings are now hitting new recovery highs and a clear move below 70 million ounces would be required to question the return to demand dominance.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review March 7th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a brief summary of my view at present.



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March 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Policy focus shifted to sustainability from stability

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Deutsche Bank which may be of interest. Here is a section:

March 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals Review

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

Capital allocation: We are nearing 5 years since the significant gold price (~$1,600/oz down to $1,360/oz) correction in early April 2013. The period since has largely been characterized by cost cutting, capex reduction and de-leveraging of Balance Sheets. With an average ND/2018E EBITDA ratio of 0.5x for Precious stocks under coverage, companies are largely finished with debt reduction and must now decide on the right mix of project capex (brownfield and greenfield) /exploration /dividends/buybacks/further debt reduction/M&A opportunities. Management decisions to define companies will likely diverge over the coming years and we believe this is a key consideration for investors, particularly for a sector that does not have a good record of deploying capital. In terms of dividends, companies will need to define policies that are both sustainable but also representative of variation in cash flow through the cycle, e.g., a base dividend with a supplementary dividend is most likely.

Cost pressure starting to come back: A number of companies on recent conference calls mentioned cost pressure that is entering the industry either through macro factors or through mining sector specific areas.

Examples include the increase in energy costs (mainly due to higher diesel/gas prices), some currency moves, consumables, equipment and contracting. It does not appear to be significant at this stage but the opportunities for cost-cutting initiatives seem to have largely ended (with the potential exception of technology impacts, e.g., Barrick's initiatives medium- to long-term). As an example of cost pressure, Barrick's nearterm All-In Sustaining Costs (AISC) are expected to be ~$765-815/oz for 2018, ~$50/oz higher than previous guidance of $740-760/oz. Longer term, Barrick has alluded to the fact that its target of $700/oz is going to be more difficult to achieve.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Gold/NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index ratio hit an important peak near 10 in late 2015 which presaged the recovery rally in the metal price which broke the five-year downtrend. That undervaluation of the miners relative to the gold price represented a period of deep stress for the sector as companies scrambled to pay down debt and to keep their operations afloat. However, as the gold price rallied the miners exhibited high beta characteristics which saw them double relative to the gold price.



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March 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New study rips into cobalt, lithium price bulls

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Prominent commodities research house Wood Mackenzie this week released a report on battery materials that forecasts a decline in the price of cobalt and lithium this year which would turn into a rout from 2019 onwards.

Woodmac is not lowballing demand growth for lithium and the authors expect demand to grow from 233 kilotonnes (kt) in 2017 to 330kt of lithium carbonate equivalent in 2020 and 405kt in 2022, but:

… the supply response is under way. Yet it will take some time for this new capacity to materialise as battery-grade chemicals. As such, we expect relatively high price levels to be maintained over 2018. However, for 2019 and beyond, supply will start to outpace demand more aggressively and price levels will decline in turn.

According to Woodmac data, spot lithium carbonate prices on the domestic market in China are already down 6% from December levels to around $24,500 a tonne while international market prices have remained robust rising to $16,000 at the end of February.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Lithium and cobalt represent the freshest iterations of the supply inelasticity meets rising demand condition that contributes to the cyclicality of mining ventures. Batteries are now big business and with Volkswagen saying this week that it is willing to outspend Tesla on batteries by the early 2020s the demand portion of the market is well affirmed.



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March 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Deep Thaw Below Arctic Circle Risks $30 Billion Nordic Industry

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

The forest floors below the Arctic Circle are usually frozen solid this time of year, hard enough to support the giant timber machines needed to harvest their wood.

But that’s changing, according to the foresters who work the land in Finland and Sweden. Unusually mild winters are turning once icy grounds into thick layers of mud capable of swallowing up the 25-ton vehicles used to gather the materials that go into pulp, paper and packaging.

“We will see more and more of these difficult conditions,”

Uno Brinnen, head of forestry at Sweden’s BillerudKorsnas AB, said in an interview. “It will always shift between warm and cold winters, but the long-term trend seems clear.”

Temperatures across large swathes of Sweden were as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal in December and January, according to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. That warming forms part of a trend that’s likely to persist, according to SMHI, whose scientists expect temperatures to continue rising over the next six decades because of climate change.

The travails increasingly experienced by Nordic foresters underscore the economic impacts of climate change. Even as warming temperatures in and around the Arctic Circle frees waterways and reveals new paths to exploit natural resources, countries and companies in the region are being forced to adopt new ways of conducting traditional business.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Lumber prices have pulled back over the course of the last month but are still holding the breakout from a 25-year range. The renegotiation of NAFTA rules on trading lumber across the US/Canadian border, the long-term impact of mountain pine beetle infestations, which are themselves a result of milder winters, coupled with warmer weather in Scandinavia and stronger economic growth are driving a supply inelasticity bull market in lumber.



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March 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Commodities Daily

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

The cocoa price has soared by 33% in New York and by 28% in London since the beginning of the year. Thus cocoa has achieved the best price performance of all the commodities we track this year – with the exception of carbon. The Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) of Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, apparently wishes to curtail its cocoa production. The first step is to count the plantations. Depending on the result, the distribution of higher-quality seeds and plants for the 2018/19 season is then to be temporarily suspended. The aim is to combat the overproduction that saw cocoa prices forced to multi-year lows at the end of last year. According to the International Cocoa Organization, global supply exceeded demand by 300,000 tons in the 2016/17 crop year. The surplus is set to decline to a good 100,000 tons in the current crop year 2017/18. Deficits are needed to reduce the cumulative surplus, as was the case on the oil market a good year ago. OPEC brought this about by cutting production, and Ivory Coast appears to want to follow a similar strategy for cocoa. If the CCC has its way, Ivorian cocoa production will be lowered from 2 million tons now to 1.7-1.8 million tons within two years. Ivory Coast has a good 40% share of the cocoa market, which is even somewhat higher than OPEC’s share of the oil market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I was trading cocoa back in August for rather modest profits because I was hoping it would complete its base formation. I grew impatient with the ranging, and probably would not have held in any case during the steep decline posted in December, but there was certainly a case for buying it back at the January lows. The price has now surged higher to emphatically complete its base formation and while increasingly overbought in the short term, a clear downward dynamic would be required to check momentum.



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March 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volkswagen Steps Up Tesla Rivalry in $25 Billion Battery Buy

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

 

Volkswagen AG secured 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in battery supplies to underpin an aggressive push into electric cars in the coming years, ramping up pressure on Tesla Inc. as it struggles with production issues for the mainstream Model 3.

The world’s largest carmaker will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently, Volkswagen said Tuesday in Berlin. The German manufacturer’s plans to build as many as 3 million of the cars a year by 2025 is backstopped by deals with suppliers including Samsung SDI Co., LG Chem Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for batteries in Europe and China.

With the powerpack deliveries secured for its two biggest markets, a deal for North America will follow shortly, Volkswagen said. In total, the Wolfsburg-based automaker has said it plans to purchase about 50 billion euros in batteries as part of its electric-car push, which includes three new models in 2018 with dozens more following. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Volkswagen needs a new strategy if it is going to get past the diesel scandal, so embracing batteries whether for all-electric or hybrid vehicles is a solution. By committing to such a large purchase of batteries it will overtake Tesla as the largest consumer and this announcement helps to backstop demand for the world’s largest battery producers as well as the miners that produce the requisite metals.



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March 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Diesel ban approved for German cities to cut pollution

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

The likelihood now is that the German government will rush to introduce some sort of national policy, to ensure at least some level of consistency across the country.

It's not just about Germany either - cities across Europe are struggling to meet EU air quality standards, and may well see the German ruling as setting a precedent.

New diesel cars won't be affected, but that's not really the point. Consumers are already moving away from the technology - and the prospect of city bans will only accelerate that process.

So diesel's decline is likely to gather momentum.

That's a problem for the industry, because while diesels produce high levels of nitrogen oxide - a major urban pollutant - they emit relatively low levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

So moves to control one environmental problem may end up undermining efforts to combat another - unless we all start driving electric cars very soon.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Platinum has been struggling to rally since the Volkswagen scandal broke in 2015 and this ban of diesel vehicles from city centres represents an additional headwind.



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February 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The lithium ion battery and the eV Market

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from BMO 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.

Battery chemistry is complicated and the rate at which energy density doubles is about every five years. That’s quite a bit slower than the 18-month pace of doubling of efficiency seen in the semiconductors sector on which Moore’s Law is based. 



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February 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil Seen as More Corrupt Than Argentina in Global Ranking

This article by David Biller and Charlie Devereux for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Brazil is now seen as more corrupt than Argentina for the first time in over two decades after suffering last year one of the biggest plunges among the nations tracked by a global transparency ranking.

Latin America’s largest economy fell 17 positions in the2017 index released by graft watchdog Transparency International on Thursday. It now ranks 96th among 180 nations, tied in the region with Colombia and Peru. Only two other countries in the whole index -- Bahrain and Liberia -- slid more than Brazil last year. Argentina meantime rose 10 spots, to 85th place and now ranks better than Brazil for the first time since 1996.

A series of corruption scandals have rocked Brazil over the past few years as the so-called Carwash probe uncovered a massive kickback scheme involving the country’s political and business elite. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted for graft last year while allegations against President Michel Temer are still being investigated. In Argentina, meanwhile, President Mauricio Macri has worked to make public tenders more transparent and successfully pushed for a law allowing plea bargain testimonies to resolve corruption cases.

Among key Latin American countries, the least transparent are still Venezuela (169th position) and Mexico (135th spot).

Transparency International’s ranking is based on surveys and assessments from 12 institutions and has become a benchmark gauge of corruption perception used by analysts and investors.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no Brazilian politician that has not been embroiled in the carwash probe. That’s bad news. However, the fact the scandal has broken, is being addressed by the judiciary and is making headlines both domestically and internationally speaks to the fact that Brazil does have institutions that can tackle corruption if the will to do is present. 



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February 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the potential for downtrends

Your recent assessments of the markets appear to be that a period of ranging is likely to be followed by markets going up again. Of course, whilst no one knows what the future will be, I wonder why you don't see the greater likelihood of markets turning down after some consolidation. With the amount of US debt increasing, interest rates increasing, and stock market levels already high by historical standards, are you not more concerned that markets, being forwards looking, might be more likely to head down than up? Esp. since markets struggle when interest rates go above 3%? I appreciate your talk of share rotation, but a rising tide lifts all boats and surely the opposite is true when markets tank?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which I think everyone asks from time to time. For someone in our position of attempting to forecast the outlook for markets the most important thing we have to remember is that markets rise for longer than they fall but when they fall they often do so quite quickly. However, they do not fall without first exhibiting topping characteristics. 



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February 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Dow/Gold miners ratio

You have cited the Gold/Dow relationship and how if this ratio was to do what it has in the past, Dow has lots of upside versus gold. However, Jesse Felder sees it just the opposite. Not sure why your tow ratio charts would be opposite. Here is a link to the public post

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to other subscribers. In the Big Picture Long-Term audios and videos, I tend to use the Dow/Gold ratio over the course of the last century because it gives us a graphic illustration of how stocks outperform gold in secular trends but gold outperforms stocks following stock market peaks. 



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February 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on stagflation

I have been a long-time subscriber and attended the Chart Seminar around ten years ago. Back then you were a young kid and David led the show. Showing no disrespect for David who admire greatly, you have become at least an equal when it comes to your daily audios. I found this weekend's long-term picture very interesting and well done. I think you have properly described where we are at presently and the likely outcomes in the medium and longer terms. I do get the sense over here in the US that we may be facing an environment of Stagflation. With rising inflation and what now looks like slower growth in the near term, combined with a shrinking Fed balance sheet and rising rates, we could be facing some real headwinds for equities. Can you share your insights on an environment of stagflation and what asset classes would generally over-perform and underperform if the past is a guide? Thank you and keep up the great work!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. David is a visionary I can only hope to emulate. Luckily, the reason we have always gotten along so well is because we share a very similar world view.

Tax cuts funded with debt, a potential infrastructure bill funded with debt and the prospect of tariffs on steel and other basic commodities all represent inflationary pressures. 



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February 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Biggest Headaches for South Africa's Incoming President

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

Investigations by the nation’s graft ombudsman and Auditor- General found that graft is endemic in the state, with tens of billions of rand stolen or squandered each year. Zuma appointees head almost all the law-enforcement agencies, which have been slow or loathe to act against some of his closest allies who’ve been implicated in the free-for-all. The new president will need to replace several key officials, reassert confidence in the independence and integrity of the criminal prosecution system and show that the government is intent on ensuring all those found guilty of corruption are held accountable.

2. State-owned companies in chaos
The looting spree largely targeted state companies, especially power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is at risk of running out of cash. While Ramaphosa has already overseen the appointment of a new board at Eskom, it still needs to appoint a permanent chief executive officer, fill several other top management posts and urgently raise new funding. South African Airways and oil and gas company PetroSA Ltd. are among the other entities that have been hobbled by a lack of leadership and oversight.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Governance is Everything has been a mantra at this service for decades. Zuma did everything he could while in power to line the pockets of everyone loyal to him and that system of rent seeking and bribery is going to take a long time to unwind. It could well be that the water crisis in Capetown and the near bankruptcy of Eskom were the final catalysts for Zuma’s ouster. Right now, the market is willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Ramaphosa that some of these issues can be addressed. Capetown’s situation is urgent so Ramaphosa is unlikely to have much of a honeymoon period.



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February 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper, iron ore price jump sparks rally in mining stocks

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The iron ore price which has been defying expectations of a pullback for months gained on Wednesday with benchmark Northern China import prices rising to a five-week best of $78.25 a tonne. The last time the steelmaking raw material traded above $80 was April 2017. Coking coal was also higher at $233.10 a tonne. Premium Australian exports were at $154 a tonne this time last year.

Obituaries were being written for Anglo two years ago before the 100-year old company went on radical restructuring drive. Since then the world's fourth largest diversified miner has surged 500%

The bullishness spilled over to mining's heavyweights which outperformed broader gains on US equity markets.

Shares in world number one miner BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) gained 2.8% in New York while Anglo-Australian peer Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) added 1.8%. Both companies are worth more than $100 billion having doubled in value since the beginning of 2016 when the mining industry hit the bottom of the cycle.

Vale (NYSE: VALE.P), the world's top iron ore and nickel producer, was one of the best performers on the day with a 6% jump valuing the company at $73.1 billion. The Rio de Janeiro-based company is up 30% over the past year and is up a fourfold since the end of the downturn when iron ore reached $37 a tonne and nickel bottomed at $7,700 a tonne.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The vast majority of the global economy is still growing at a rate well above the trend of the last few years and that is helping to boost demand growth for commodities. Considering the majority of miners are no longer willing to bet big on expansion and development of greenfield sites, they now exhibit greater commonality with metal prices and even have potential to act in a high beta manner. 



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February 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Market's Long-Dormant Term Premium Is Finally Reviving

This article by Liz Capo McCormick and Luke Kawa for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

 

“We remain of the view that the U.S. term premium is still too low when conditioned against the macro outlook, and the uncertainty around it,” Francesco Garzarelli and his fellow strategists wrote in a note Tuesday. “We recommend preserving a short duration exposure and expect the rebuild of the term premium to lead to a steeper” U.S. yield curve.

Goldman Sachs issued a short recommendation for 10-year Treasuries in November, which the strategists maintain. The firm’s model for fair value -- given economic fundamental and the expected pace of Fed tightening -- has the note at 3.09 percent, compared with about 2.8 percent now.

The term premium is the extra compensation that buyers demand to hold longer-maturity debt instead of a succession of short-term securities year after year. A widely used valuation tool, it tumbled across world markets in the wake of the financial crisis as the Fed and its counterparts bought debt as part of stimulus measures.

The 10-year Treasury term premium is negative 0.29 percentage point, up from a record low of negative 0.84 percentage point in 2016. As the name implies, it’s normally positive.

Its increase in 2018 marks a departure from its typical downward trend during Fed tightening cycles. But much is different this time around -- namely, the central bank’s balance-sheet tapering.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed is buying fewer bonds and the Treasury is attempting to issue more. That is a recipe for yields to move higher. The imposition of deficit fueled tax cuts has reignited the prospect of the bond market taking issue with fiscal profligacy while the prospect of an additional infrastructure bill is likely to have an even greater deleterious effect. 



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February 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interesting charts February 6th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

S&P500 Consumer Staples has lost momentum over the last couple of years with larger pull backs that dip into the underlying range and somewhat less impressive rallies subsequently. Last week’s downside weekly key reversal with follow through this week represents another in a series of failed upside breaks. It is back testing the region of the 200-day MA and will need to continue to hold the 550 area if top formation completion is to be avoided. 



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February 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rotation into cyclicals

Thank you for another very helpful weekend broadcast. At this interesting moment in the markets, your insights are worth a great deal to me.    

I am fascinated by one thing in my own portfolio. Today is a good example. When just about everything is down 1 to 4 percent, my Copper ETF is up 2.3% and the Nickel ETF is up 3.4%. I have noticed this on other days recently. Do the algorithms see these as long-term hedges and buy accordingly?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for sharing your observation. Rather than attribute this action specifically to algorithms lets think about what we should expect from the maturing phase of the interest rate cycle. 



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January 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How have traditional safe haven assets been performing?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Three points agitated investors on the 30th and contributed the largest decline on the stock market seen in months. Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway announcing a plan to reduce healthcare costs for their employees hit the healthcare sector, there were fears that President Trump’s State of the Union address would focus on trade, the Dollar and China but the speech was noticeably light on these topics. Meanwhile any investment manager looking to sustain a 60/40 split in bonds to equities had until today’s close rebalance some of their overweight equities into bonds. 



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January 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cotton Is Set for "Epic Showdown" Between Hedge Funds and Mills

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

Hedge funds are abundantly optimistic about cotton prices. But just as the excitement escalates, farmers are gearing up to increase plantings in the U.S., the world’s top exporter.

Cotton has been the recent star of the crop world, with prices heading for a third straightly monthly gain. The advance was underpinned by demand that’s poised to increase to the highest since 2008. That captured the attention of investors, who have piled into speculative wagers that futures will keep climbing. But it’s also caught the eye of American farmers who are in the midst of making planting decisions at a time when grain prices have stayed historically low.

U.S. cotton plantings this year will probably reach the highest since 2011, a Bloomberg survey showed. The rising acreage could be why commercial traders such as textile mills have taken the opposite approach of hedge funds and are holding a huge short position, or bets on falling prices.

“The market is setting up for another epic showdown between speculative longs and trade shorts, and at this point it is still anybody’s guess who will prevail,” said Peter Egli, the Chicago-based director of risk management for Plexus Cotton Ltd.

“This could turn into a drawn-out process, with prices moving in a narrow band for another two or three months before a final blow.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cotton is trading in contango between the March 2018 contract and the July before moving into backwardation between October and March 2019. When we chart the spread between the front and second month contracts we get a graphic representation of the seasonality of the cotton market which tells us that backwardations in May are to be expected as the old crop expires through July and makes way for the new crop in October. 



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January 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt Market report

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

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The argument about whether electric cars are less polluting on an all-in basis is likely to continue to rage, with the crux of the argument focusing on what kind of generating capacity is used to produce electricity in any given country. However, the fact electric cars contribute to a country being less dependent on imported oil represents a powerful argument for adoption. 



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January 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mining Supply

Thanks to a subscriber for this note by Jim Sinclair which refreshes the mining supply cliff argument for gold mining which has been a mainstay of the gold market for as long as I can remember at least. Here is a section: 

Please review the charts below "Mine Supply since 1970 and Projection to 2030" produced by Dan Popescu via Thomson Reuters Eikon.  These charts indicate that in the coming years, the mine supply will be reduced by half of its supply during 2018.  Mr. Popescu is an independent gold/silver analyst whose projections in the mining supply are consistent with my own.  Few investors understand the gold industry, and the reasons for the approaching decline are numerous and industry specific.  An understanding of the gold mining industry is necessary in order to understand why the mining supply of gold is dramatically and rapidly shrinking.  Junior gold producers and new miners will have an almost impossible task to achieve what Tanzanian Royalty has already achieved thus far.  The analysis to support these charts is dry and complex subject matter, which I hope to provide in the most easily understandable read...  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Secular bull markets in commodities result in step-ups in the marginal cost of production. Prior to the commodity bull market, it was common to see production costs at around $200- $400. Today that figure is generally between $700 and $1000. Additional new supply needs to come in below $1200 to have any chance of development. Additionally, since prices were trending lower between 2013 and 2016 there were very few people who were willing to finance mining expansion plans of any hue, much less gold. 



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January 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold ETF Holdings at new recovery high

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

Global holdings in gold exchange-traded funds soared to the highest level since 2013 as investors got behind a rally in the metal. Most of the inflows were into SPDR Gold Shares, a U.S.-based ETF favored by money managers with a short-term view for its relatively high liquidity and narrow bid-offer spread. Gold has jumped 2.4 percent this year, touching the highest price in four months, as the dollar fell, Chinese consumers stocked up for the Lunar New Year and signs of global inflation picked up.

Eoin Treacy's view -

ETF holdings of gold represent an important and potentially pivotal marginal buyer for the yellow metal. Central banks are generally not overly volatile in their actions while jewelry demand, which admittedly is subject to season variations, is also reasonably steady. Investors on the other hand tend to come back to the gold market in times of uncertainty such as when the Dollar weak of inflationary pressures are mounting. 



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January 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

South African Police Reported to Get Gupta Arrest Warrant

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

 

South Africa’s Hawks police unit has obtained an arrest warrant for at least one of the members of the politically connected Gupta family, City Press reported.

The unit is now waiting for prosecutors at the National Prosecuting Authority to sign the warrants so that the arrests can be made, the Johannesburg-based newspaper reported on its website, citing an official at the Hawks it didn’t name. The official couldn’t say which of the three Gupta brothers -- Ajay, Atul or Rajesh -- would face arrest.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had ordered an inquiry into allegations that the Guptas may have influenced the appointment of cabinet members in President Jacob Zuma’s administration and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and one of the president’s sons.

This was part of Madonsela’s report about state capture, a term used to describe influence over government appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

“We have not applied for an arrest warrant against any member of the Gupta family,” Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said by phone from Johannesburg. “We are investigating a number of cases related to the issue of state capture, some of which have passed their stage-one levels, and we are awaiting direction from the National Prosecuting Authority.”

Ajay Gupta didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and text message seeking comment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Power is always subject to corruption so the strength of a nation’s checks and balances goes a long way towards informing out view of whether governance is improving or deteriorating. South Africa has an independent judiciary. That is not a boast many emerging markets can make and it has been the cornerstone of attempts to combat the deteriorating standards of governance represented by Zuma’s premiership. 



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January 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals 2018 Forecast Silver

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from ScotiaBank focusing on silver which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Silver is often described as high beta gold and is best bought following reaction. The most react of these was in December when it tested the lower side of a more than yearlong range. It is now in the middle of that congestion area with the upper side somewhere in the region of $18.60. 



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January 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Kicks Off Currency Buying Spree With $4.5 Billion Program

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

Russia’s Finance Ministry will buy about $4.5 billion in foreign currency over the next three weeks, increasing purchases after changes aimed at further limiting the economy’s dependence on oil.

The amount of additional budget revenue earned in January from oil and gas is expected at 257.1 billion rubles ($4.5 billion) as a result of higher crude prices, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday. Under a so-called budget rule, the entire windfall will be spent on buying foreign currency in the domestic market, with daily purchases at 15.1 billion rubles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 1, it said in a statement.

The operations will help insulate the economy from the ups and downs in crude and shield the ruble’s exchange rate from volatility. The government is absorbing all revenue earned when Russia’s Urals export blend is above $40 a barrel, channeling the excess income into its sovereign wealth fund.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Ruble accelerated to an important low in early 2015 which prompted the central bank to intervene and to push interest rates up to 17%. The collapse in oil prices into the 2016 low saw the currency hit a nadir but the interest rate and oil’s recovery resulted in a major short covering rally. 



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January 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Year-end Review and Outlook

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from M Partners focusing on the Canadian mining sector. Here is a section:

A section from the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The mining sector went through a painful process of rationalization between 2011 and 2015 which resulted in exploration being cancelled and development of new mines being shelved. A substantial and sustained price rally is generally required to encourage new supply into the market following such an event. After two years of rallies the first signs of interest in developing new supply are now being seen but it will take time for it to come on line. 



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January 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's No.1 Miner Is Building an EV Hub It Doesn't Want to Keep

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

“The investment in Nickel West makes sense regardless,” said James Eginton, an analyst at Sydney-based Tribeca Investments Partners Pty, a BHP shareholder that’s urged the producer to extend its suite of commodities to tap rising battery demand. Efforts to refocus the business will either boost the value of a sale, or lift the unit’s cashflow if the assets are retained, he said.

BHP began building a nickel sulphate plant at Nickel West in recent weeks and is considering a slate of further expansions to make it the largest source of the material and a hub for other battery ingredients. It’s aiming to sell 90 percent of output into the battery supply chain by about 2021, from less than a third at the end of last year. Global nickel demand could more than double by 2050, fueled in part by rising electric vehicle sales, Bloomberg Intelligence said in a June report.

The world’s biggest mining companies are ratcheting up their response to the booming demand for battery raw materials.

Rio Tinto Group is developing a lithium project in Serbia, while Glencore Plc plans to double production of cobalt and is effectively “a one-stop-shop” for investors seeking exposure to EV gains, Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. said in a note this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A measure of just how technology focused the automotive sector has become is how many CEOs have turned up at the Consumer Electronics Symposium (CES) this year. When I attended two years ago Faraday Futures stole the show but this year Ford and other manufacturers were keen to lay out their electric car ambitions. 



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January 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt price bulls' worst fears may just have been confirmed

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Because there is only one lithium ion per one cobalt, that limits of how much charge can be stored. What’s worse is that current batteries in your cell phone or laptop typically only use half of the lithium in the cathode.”

The [Northwestern] fully rechargeable battery starts with four lithium ions, instead of one. The current reaction can reversibly exploit one of these lithium ions, significantly increasing the capacity beyond today’s batteries. But the potential to cycle all four back and forth by using both iron and oxygen to drive the reaction is tantalizing.

“Four lithium ions for each metal — that would change everything,” Wolverton said. “That means that your phone could last eight times longer or your car could drive eight times farther. If battery-powered cars can compete with or exceed gasoline-powered cars in terms of range and cost, that will change the world.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cobalt is both expensive and rare so it is not the best candidate for use in mass market applications; particularly where there is significant room to scale such as in electric vehicles. Therefore, a race is underway to get an alternative chemistry up and running which can replace cobalt. Lithium iron oxide is one of a number of candidates vying for attention so are solid state batteries and zinc oxide batteries.



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January 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Recreational pot puts medicinal marijuana on the backburner just as demand explodes

This article by Geoff Zochodne for the Financial Post may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But PwC said in a report earlier this year that some industry stakeholders felt the federal government’s “tight timeframe” for recreational legalization would lead to a lack of consultation and the potential to miss the opportunity to right the medical regime.

“Because decision-makers will have so little time for regulatory development, the focus will be exclusively on recreational cannabis, to the detriment of changes that may be required for medical cannabis,” PwC warned, adding that changes to the medical regime could be as far away as three years as a result.

One outstanding problem is that doctors may still be hesitant to prescribe cannabis to their patients, creating a bottleneck in the system for both patients and producers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

2018 will see Canada become the first G7 nation to adopt recreational cannabis laws. That will subsequently represent significant challenges for the medical cannabis sector which will is dependent on prescription reimbursements from the national health system. 



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December 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper Rallies to Three-Year High as China Plant Halts Aid Bulls

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

Copper’s latest leg up follows news that Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s largest producer, had been ordered to stop output for at least a week before a further assessment based on local pollution levels. Earlier in the month, the No. 2 smelter, Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, was asked to make similar cuts.

Jiangxi Copper gained 3.4 percent in Hong Kong and Tongling Nonferrous added 0.7 percent in Shenzhen to the highest close since Nov. 9.

“Copper stocks are rising as investors are bullish on copper prices amid an improving demand outlook from the U.S. and Europe in particular,” Yang Kunhe, an analyst with Pacific Securities Ltd., said by phone from Beijing. “The production cuts are temporary. A one-week halt won’t cause too big a problem for Jiangxi Copper. Smelters can also adjust by moving forward their annual maintenance.”

This quarter, Codelco said the company’s projections showed a sustained increase in deficits and “we don’t have any reason -- that we know of -- for closing them in the future.” The International Copper Study Group said the global deficit was 181,000 tons in the first nine months of 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We are almost two full years into a recovery in metal prices which is being fueled on the demand side by a return to synchronized global economic expansion and on the supply side by a reluctance to invest following what was a major bust between the 2011 and early 2016. That is contributing to the relative strength of the mining sector not least since it is still trading at a discount to the wider market on a valuations basis. 



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December 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazilian miner Vale says entering new era of big dividends

This article from Reuters appeared in mining.com. Here is a section: 

Vale is entering a period in which it plans to pay out big dividends, Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman said on Friday at an event commemorating the Brazilian miner's inclusion in the Sao Paulo stock exchange's strictest listing market segment.

"Now is the era of the Vale dividends. Vale will become a big payer of dividends if everything goes well," Schvartsman said, reiterating that a new dividend plan would be released in March, without stating an amount.

In April Vale paid out 0.905 reais per share.

Vale shareholders, he said, supported the company in tough times when metal prices were low and now is "Vale's time to pay it back."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Nothing says a mining company is reluctant to invest in new supply like committing to paying out fat dividends. The company went through a painful rationalization between 2011 and early 2016 when the dividend was slashed from $1.75 to less than 5¢. The commitment to increase the payout is designed at attracting dividend investors and to try and create confidence in management’s commitment to creating value. 



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December 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles More than 25% as Sharks "Beginning to Circle"

This article by Samuel Potter and Eddie van der Walt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bitcoin dropped to as low as $10,776. It last traded below $10, 000 on Dec. 1, when the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission agreed to allow trading in bitcoin futures. For the week, the decline is as much as 39 percent. That follows gains of 13 percent, 44 percent and 32 percent in the prior three weeks.

The losses represent a major test for the cryptocurrency industry and the blockchain technology that underpins it, which have rapidly entered the mainstream in recent weeks. Bears cast doubt on the value of the virtual assets, with UBS Group AG this week calling bitcoin the “biggest speculative bubble in history.” Bulls argue the technology is a game changer for the world of investment and finance. Both will be closely watching the outcome of the current selloff.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If the history of bubbles tells us anything it is that the pace of innovation occurs largely independently of the price action. Crowds tend to overshoot in both directions and the merits or otherwise of blockchain technology, as a way of streamlining transactions and verifying contracts, are separate from the vicissitudes of token price action.



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December 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

European Metals & Mining - 2018 Outlook

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

A section from the report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The excesses in the global steel sector, primary driven by overcapacity in China, are well documented. Right now, the risk represented by that headwind are being outweighed by synchronized global growth. Meanwhile significant investment is flowing into capacity growth for the resources required to supply battery manufacturing. 



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December 19 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sugar industry likely to see record global production of 192m tonnes

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

According to Informa's Agribusiness Intelligence, an industry research and analysis firm, the biggest driver behind the record output this year will be the European Union, India and Thailand.

Despite this, sugar cane diversion to ethanol production in Brazil means global prices will remain high as the country will produce less sugar in 2018-19.

Agribusiness Intelligence said that in October, for the first time in more than a year, there was a year-on-year increase in local sales of ethanol of 11% in Brazil. This accelerated to a plus of 16% in the first half of November.

"The most important reasons for the attractiveness of ethanol versus sugar are: the relatively high price of gasoline at the pump, an advantageous tax structure, recovering fuel demand as the Brazilian economy is moving out of recession and the low sugar price."

Meanwhile, within the EU, the market is still responding to the scrapping of production quotas for sugar refined from sugar beet, which is creating a huge jump in production. In the EU, 20 million tonnes of sugar will be produced by the end of 2017-18 which is an increase of 3 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

"This growing trend has not been supported by domestic consumption which has been declining in the EU steadily over the last few years. This will have a direct impact on the trade balance of EU countries, with imports declining and exports could double to as much as 4 million tonnes by the end of 2017-18," the analysis firm added.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Synchronised global growth helps to boost demand for all commodities but energy is particularly affected since OPEC is attempting to curtail supply. That is helping Brent Crude prices hold above the $60 area. Meanwhile it improves the allure of producing ethanol for Brazil because of the arbitrage consumers benefit from as long as sugar prices are low. 



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December 19 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Supply cuts a 'step change' for uranium price

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribes. Here is a section:

The announcement made by uranium giant Cameco in November that it’s suspending operations at its flagship McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan and surprisingly deep three-year cuts by Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom provide a "step change" for uranium prices says a new report on the sector from Cantor Fitzgerald equity research.

On Monday, the world largest producer of uranium, surprised the beleaguered market with a larger than expected cut to production of its own.

Two weeks ago, Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom announced intentions to reduce its output of U3O8 by 20% or 11,000 tonnes (around 28.5m pounds) over the next three years beginning in January 2018. According to the company roughly 4,000 tonnes will be cut in 2018 alone "representing approximately 7.5% of global uranium production for 2018 as forecast by UxC."

Cameco's shuttering of McArthur River for ten months is expected to reduce production by 13.7m pounds in 2018 translating to a combined 42.3m pounds of expected production that has been removed from the market. In 2018 alone, the reduction will be about 24.1m pounds of U3O8 or about 15% of Cantor Fitzgerald's prior forecast of 158.4m pounds of output.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The price of commodities is set by the marginal cost of production and when two of the largest producers’ shutter facilities, it means prices have fallen to uneconomic levels. Uranium isn’t exactly fashionable but it is still required to fuel reactors all over the world. If supply is being curtailed prices will have to rise to attract producers back into the market. 



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December 18 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum Outshines Palladium on Prospect of Europe Diesel Demand

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

“Car sales are one of the strongest indicators of consumption of raw materials,” said Peter Thomas, a senior vice president at Zaner Group in Chicago, citing the one to two ounces of platinum or palladium that goes into each vehicle.

“You’ve also got a lot of window dressing going on,” with traders selling palladium to book their gains for the year, and buying platinum, he said.

Palladium, used mostly in pollution-control devices for gasoline engines, has led gains in precious metals this year by climbing 48 percent. It surpassed the price of platinum in September for the first time since 2001. Gold has gained 9.9 percent in 2017, while silver increased 1.4 percent.

Supply of platinum will trail consumption by 275,000 ounces in 2018, after being largely balanced this year, the World Platinum Investment Council forecast in November. Mine closures in the second half of this year will have a larger impact on production next year, it said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Platinum has been priced as if diesel cars are going to be discontinued tomorrow. The reality is somewhat different since European consumers pay some of the highest prices for gasoline in the world and diesel cars are both more efficient and last longer. Despite projections for increased electric vehicle use from the 2020s, and more stringent emissions testing, diesel cars are still likely to be in demand for at least the next few years. 



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December 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

This is how much copper, nickel, cobalt an electric vehicle world needs

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The London-based research company modelled metal requirements across the supply chain – from generation and grid infrastructure through to storage, charging and vehicles – based on relatively modest penetration of EVs in the total global vehicle market out to 2030.

According to the study as early as 2020, when EVs would still make up only 2% of new vehicle sales, related metal demand already becomes significant, requiring an additional 390,000 tonnes of copper, 85,000 tonnes of nickel and 24,000 tonnes of cobalt.

Based on an EV market share of less than 32% in 2030, forecast metal requirements are roughly 4.1m tonnes of additional copper (18% of 2016 supply). The move away from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles would need 56% more nickel production or 1.1m tonnes compared to 2016 and 314,000 tonnes of cobalt, a fourfold increase from 2016 supply.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Miners went through a decade of investing in supply and then prices collapsed. They were forced to cancel exploration and to focus on free cash flow. Appetite for investing in additional new supply is low but there are obvious demand drivers coming from the electric car market. 



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December 12 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt: Solving for a Supply-Constrained Market

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

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

There are at least four factories under construction in Asia that are on par with Tesla’s giga-factory with even more smaller factories also under construction. That represents a considerable quantity of potential raw materials demand lining up as battery manufacturing picks up. Since it takes time to build new mining/brine and refining capacity, a supply inelasticity meets rising demand environment is increasingly evident. 



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December 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stock Wobble No Help to Gold as Market Bets on U.S. Rate Hike

This note by Eddie van der Walt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Falling stock prices and geopolitical risks haven’t done much to support gold amid expectations of tighter U.S. monetary policy.

Metal for immediate delivery fell to the lowest in four months at $1,252.44 an ounce in London, having dropped every day this week as traders factor in an increase in interest rates this month as a near certainty. Prices declined despite growing volatility in equity markets, with the S&P 500 Index losing ground in four of the last five sessions.

“The rate hike is now looming and people are suddenly realizing that gold may not be the most attractive long position at the moment,” said David Govett, head of precious metals trading at Marex Spectron in London.

Bullion is heading for the the first back-to-back annual advance since 2012, but traders recently have dented those gains. Higher rates and a change in leadership at the Fed have outweighed deepening geopolitical risks, including the threat of war on the Korean peninsula and a third intifada in Israel.

“People’s memories are short and their pockets not so deep,” Govett said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold does best when inflation is rising faster than central banks are willing to raise interest rates. That is when its credentials as a store of value really shine. Alternatively, it also does well in a supply inelasticity meets rising demand environment such as we saw in the last major bull advance that peaked in 2011. Right now, we are somewhere in between with expectations for future inflation outpacing the reality represented by official statistics so gold remains largely rangebound, albeit with a downward bias as of today. 



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December 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future of Nickel: A class act

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

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The LME signaled a couple of months ago that it is assessing whether to split the nickel contract in two. The decision will hinge on whether they believe battery demand will in fact ramp higher as many of us expect. The demands from the emerging battery sector are much more stringent in terms of delivery specifications than are currently the norm for LME warehouses so there is a compelling argument for the creation of a new contract.



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December 05 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper Falls to 2-Month Low on Worries of Slowing China Demand

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

“Industrial metals prices will consolidate due to a marked slowdown in China’s metals consumption growth,” BMI Research wrote in an emailed note.

China’s frenzied construction of roads, bridges and subways is set for a major slowdown, adding a headwind to economic growth in 2018. Fixed-asset investment in infrastructure will grow 12 percent next year, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, down from almost 20 percent in the first ten months this year.

All 18 economists in the survey anticipated a moderation, adding to reports by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS Group AG predicting a similar trend.

Adding to the selloff is speculation that metals prices have overshot fundamentals in the recent run up. Nickel has retreated 13 percent since early November, giving up some gains from earlier in the year.

"The recent rally in nickel was mostly due to expectations of increased use of the metal in batteries, which will definitely realize some day, but right now stainless steel, not EVs, is still major consumer of nickel and its market driver," Boris Krasnojenov, an analyst at Alfa Bank in Moscow, said by phone.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China has infrastructure on par with many developed countries and has more spare steel capacity, for example, than the entire industries of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan combined. At some point there will be a rationalization of that industry. However the big question is what will replace it? 



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December 04 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December 04 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 24 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

After Sudden Rout, China Stock Traders Question Beijing Put

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

For Sun Jianbo, president of China Vision Capital Management Co. in Beijing, valuations among large-cap shares are too expensive for state-backed funds to intervene.

The CSI 300 traded at its highest level relative to the broader Shanghai Composite Index in at least 12 years at the start of this week as investors flocked to large caps such as Moutai and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co.

"There’s no need to prop up the market yet," Sun said. "A lot of big caps are still expensive and it would do more harm than good to state-backed funds if they buy now."

The divergence between large-cap shares and the rest of the market may be one reason why the government took aim at Moutai. Before Xinhua warned last week that gains in the liquor maker were excessive, the stock had more than doubled this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Following the botched introduction of options trading in 2015 the Chinese administration introduced new rules on disclosures and selling by company principles. It also banned short selling for a time. Through steady purchases by various state-owned vehicles, they manufactured the slow and steady pace of the stock market’s advance since the low in early 2016. 



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November 24 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum industry expects supply deficit in 2018

This article by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud for mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

In its latest Platinum Quarterly report, the World Platinum Investment Council predicts a deficit of 275 koz of the precious metal for 2018 caused by an increase in jewellery and industrial demand.

Overall supply is probably going to drop by 1% next year “due in part to a 2% reduction in South African mine supply compounded by closures in the second half of 2017,” the report states.

In the third quarter of 2017, production from Zimbabwe declined to 95 koz owing to furnace maintenance work, while Russian supply fell to 185 koz, which is lower than the 205 koz produced in Q2’17. “Overall, global refined production for Q3’17 is estimated at 1,495 koz, which is a 4% reduction from Q2’17 and an 8% fall year-on-year.”

When it comes to next year’s overall demand, the WPIC says it is going to grow by 2% when compared to 2017. In particular, platinum jewellery demand will rise by 3%, which would represent its first spike since 2014. Behind this recovery is the double-digit growth in the rapidly expanding Indian market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Platinum is trading at a significant discount to both gold and palladium which is a rather odd circumstance for a metal which is the used in all of the most expensive jewelry. However, the revolt against diesel engines, prompted by the Volkswagen cheating scandal, has cast a pall over the sector which has confined prices to a reasonably tight range over the last year. 



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November 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Gold Outlook

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

A closer look at the assumptions of the theory
The obvious conclusion for gold investors would be to celebrate the coming era of skyrocketing gold prices, as supply dwindles, and the greatest gold rush of all time ensues in the markets. Such a scenario sounds very enticing. However, instead of taking the news at face value, it is worth examining the matter in more detail and understanding what the decline in production actually means for gold in the mid- and long-term. 

One of the main problems with most peak gold analyses and projections is that they are based on estimates of known mineable reserves of gold.  However, the number of known reserves increases over time as new discoveries are made thanks to technological and scientific advances. Even as the currently operational mines might be slowly exhausting their reserves, new projects and potential discoveries remain untapped.

In this context, “peak gold” can be seen as the gradual depletion of the current, relatively easily accessible deposits. Once these are completely mined, the industry would be forced to move on to new locations that are currently not preferred, because they either involve higher production costs or present other challenges. Nevertheless, higher gold prices would motivate miners to seek out and explore new discoveries and deposits, as well as invest in research and new technologies.

Furthermore, one must bear in mind that the gold market is extensive and quite complex. Currently, the precious metal is being mined in every continent except Antarctica. However, as gold traditionally holds its value and does not corrode, it also has a strong recycling industry, refining and re-smelting the metal, which accounts for 1/3 of the total supply on average.

Therefore, “peak gold” can be viewed as a temporary supply restriction, which would trigger gold price increases in the mid-term. But it also has a much more important aspect to it: over the long term, the depletion of mines currently in operation translates to a “gap-up” of the gold price, as the production costs for new discoveries are drastically lifted. In other words, “peak gold” might not mean the end of our gold supply, but it could introduce a whole new average price range and “price floor” for gold.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The price of any commodity tends to fluctuate mostly above the marginal cost of production. Oil experienced a step up in production costs over the last decade with the $40 area representing a new floor whereas it had previously been a ceiling. The big question for gold is where the marginal cost of production now rests 



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November 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Chart Seminar

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is always a pleasure to meet subscribers but doubly so when we get to spend two days together discussing the outlook for psychological makeup of the market, where we are in the big cycles and which sectors are leading and which are showing relative strength. I had three big takeaways from last week’s seminar in London.

As anyone who has attended the seminar will know, I do not have examples but offer delegates the opportunity to dictate the direction of the conversation. That ensures the subject matter is relevant to what they are interested in and also highlights the fact that subject matter is applicable to all markets where an imbalance between supply and demand exists. The second benefit of allowing delegates to pick the subject matter is that it is offers a window into what is popular in markets right now and what might be getting overlooked. 



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November 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold makes some recovery on fresh demand, global events

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

Globally, gold prices rose for a third day, helped by a weaker dollar and falling US bond yields ahead of inflation data later that could influence how quickly the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Palladium continues to outperform in the precious metals sector because of its relationship to the gasoline market and continued ambivalence towards diesel engines. However, gold, silver and platinum have been much quieter as they waited for a catalyst to reignite interest. Some consolidation on stock markets may be signalling a flip to risk-off trading which should be positive for a safe haven like gold. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rio Tinto joins race for stake in world's largest lithium miner

Rio Tinto joins race for stake in world’s largest lithium miner – This article by Cecilia Jamasmie for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

 

El Mostrador suggested Tinto Rio had already made a bid, potentially trumping Chinese companies Sinochem, Tianqi and GSR Capital, all of which had also expressed interest in SQM.

The news came on the heels of PotashCorp and Agrium announcing Tuesday that China’s ministry of commerce had approved the merger, but required the sale of PotashCorp’s minority holdings in Arab Potash Company and SQM within 18 months of closing, and Israel Chemicals Ltd. within nine months.

SQM, which has a market value at just over $15 billion, produced roughly 44 million tonnes of lithium carbonate last year and is developing new projects in Chile and Australia.

Rio's current incursion in the lithium market is mostly limited to its 100%-owned lithium and borates mineral project in Jadar, Serbia, which is still in the early stages of development.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rio Tinto generates 68% of its revenue from iron-ore and aluminium. Diamonds and minerals, copper and energy make up the balance of its operations in that order. Despite enthusiasm about lithium SQM generate about 26.5% of its revenue from the metal, with plant nutrition (32.2%) and potassium (20.8%) also representing major businesses for the company. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iron Ore Imports Collapse as China's Great Cleanup Kicks In

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

Purchases dropped to 79.49 million tons in October, according to customs data on Wednesday. That’s down from September’s 102.8 million tons, and is the lowest amount since February 2016. Over the first 10 months, imports by the world’s top buyer still expanded 6.3 percent to 896 million tons.

Iron ore users and investors have been tracking China’s bid to rein in pollution this winter by imposing restrictions on mills’ production, in addition to curbs on other industrial activity. The drive has buttressed prices of higher-quality ores that are more efficient, while spurring speculation about a demand roller-coaster, with weaker consumption seen near term before a possible snapback in spring. At the same time, miners in Brazil and Australia have added supply.

The decline in China’s iron imports was the standout item amid a broader weakening of purchases, Daniel Hynes, a senior commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said in a note. “The closures of steel mills due to environmental concerns were behind the fall,” he said. Demand for raw materials imports is likely to rebound, according to the bank.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s pollution problem is a political liability. That fact highlights the evolution of a middle class, but it also reflects the transition underway as the consumer takes over as the engine for growth. China is gradually moving away from highly polluting industries while at the same time focusing on continued urbanisation and more value-added products. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Interesting charts November 8th 2017

Eoin Treacy's view -

Palladium rallied successfully through $1000 today for the first time since 2001. The last time it traded at this level was following a massive rally spurred by a supply shortage. On this occasion the move might be somewhat overbought relative to the trend mean but is looks better supported. A break in the progression of higher reaction lows, currently near $950, would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. 



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November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nickel Rallies Most in Five Years on Promise of Electric Cars

This article by Yuliya Fedorinova and Martin Ritchie for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The nickel market has caught fire, with prices posting the biggest two-day advance in five years.

Nickel rose as much as 6 percent to $13,030 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, the highest since June 2015. That added to Tuesday’s 5.3 percent gain after Trafigura Group Pte joined Glencore Plc in unveiling bullish usage forecasts. In Shanghai, prices climbed by the daily limit.

"Such breakthrough has been cooking long, backed by relative value and EVs," Richard Fu, head of Asia Pacific at Amalgamated Metal Trading Ltd., said by email.

Nickel sulphate, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, will see demand increase by half to 3 million tons by 2030, Saad Rahim, chief economist at Trafigura, said in an interview. That echoes bullish views from miner and trader Glencore. Batteries are likely to use more nickel and less cobalt in future, Rahim said.

Nickel is now up 28 percent for 2017, vying with aluminum for the title of top base metal of the year.

Chinese investors piled into Shanghai futures at the start of morning session, and prices were locked up by the limit just short of 100,000 yuan a ton, the highest intraday level since November.

MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, which competes with Vale SA as the world’s top nickel producer, has warned that the market may have become too bullish too quickly. The company sees this year’s nickel demand from batteries at about 65,000 tons, compared with total usage of 2 million tons, according to Anton Berlin, head of analysis and market development. It will take a few years for EVs to become a significant consumer, he said.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The London Metals Index has been on a recovery trajectory for more than a year with five of the six constituents rallying impressively in 2016 and again more recently. Nickel has been something of a wallflower in that time because it was plagued by oversupply and lacked a clear bullish catalyst for demand dominance. 



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November 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 24 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi's China a boon for mining

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

And Xi's enormous power also means his pet projects should receive the full backing of the state.

The One Belt One Road initiative to recreate the Old Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe was mentioned five times during the speech. (Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping received four mentions each)

Another mega-undertaking, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration, which includes the Xiongan New Area, Xi mentioned twice.
And even if the party's priorities are shifting away from market-orientated reforms, Beijing's transformation of its heavy industries coupled with programs to fight pollution has already benefitted mining.

For instance, eliminating overcapacity has boosted profitability in the domestic steel industry and in the process steelmaking raw material prices have been dragged higher. At the end of last year consensus forecast for the iron ore price was $57 a tonne during 2017. Year-to-date it's averaging $71.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Building new cities is nothing new for China but the Xiongan New Area will move the administrative hub from central Beijing to a new city which will remove a substantial number of people in one fell swoop. This also means that the new city will need to be both architecturally secure and technologically capable enough to house one of the world’s largest and most ambitious bureaucracies. 



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October 23 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Venezuela's Behind on Its Debt and Facing Two Huge Bond Payments

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

Venezuela could still also make the payments on time. While $10 billion in foreign reserves isn’t much for a country that now owes some $140 billion to foreign creditors, it’s still enough to pay the bills for a while.

And the Maduro government has surprised the bond market before, making payments the past couple years that many traders had anticipated would be missed. Some of those now betting that these next two payments will also be made actually point to the $350 million currently overdue on the other notes as an encouraging sign. Those arrears indicate, they contend, that officials are prioritizing the payment of bonds with no grace period at the expense of those they can put off without penalty.

Even if Venezuela can make the payments due this year, investors say that, unless oil prices stage some sort of miraculous comeback, they still see default as an inevitable outcome. Credit-default swaps show they’re pricing in a 75 percent chance of a PDVSA default in the next 12 months and 99 percent in the next five years.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Venezuela represents a problem for bond investors because it could either be a one-off default or be the thin end of the wedge for distressed energy producers. The fact PDVSA sinkable bonds are now trading at a spread of 526 basis points, versus 200 last week, suggests investors are increasingly skeptical the government is going to be able to make principal payments when they mature on November 2nd. 



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October 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric Vehicle Revolution and Implications for the Nickel Market

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

 

Electric vehicles will usher in a new age for nickel

A more balanced nickel consumption profile between stainless and non-stainless applications

Batteries need high purity nickel sulphate, cannot readily use Class II such as nickel pig iron or ferronickel units – today, only ~50% of global production is suitable

Nickel industry needs to grow significantly in suitable units to meet demand for battery manufacture

Growing in suitable nickel units is expensive

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full presentation is available in the Subscriber's Area.

The message from this report is very clear. The global economy is going to need a lot more nickel and Vale is going to need to raise quite a lot capital if it is to have any chance of meeting demand. 



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October 19 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why We Don't Trust Government Inflation Statistics...

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting report from Oppenheimer which may be appreciated by the Collective. Here is a section:

We all know that nominal interest rates are a function of real interest rates and inflation expectations. The nub of our argument is that the consumer price index (CPI) as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sharply understates what bond investors should incorporate into their inflation expectations. 

The first component of our three-part argument is that CPI measures inflation where the people are, not where the money is. That is an appropriate stance for BLS since CPI is used to set government benefit levels, but consider that the top 20%, who effectively own all the bonds, generate as much consumer spending as the lower 62%. The basket of goods that 20% buys likely differs significantly from the basket of the average person. 

Second, we look at the healthcare anomaly. Healthcare accounts for 17.7% of GDP and 14.5% of the S&P 500 but only 8.5% of CPI. Most private sources estimate healthcare costs have been increasing by ~6%+ in recent years, but BLS puts the number at 2.8%. A recent study found that the average health insurance plan now costs ~$19K (with ~$6K from the employee), but healthcare insurance is just 1.004% of CPI.

Third, in looking at how CPI is calculated, we suspect there is a "streetlight effect," where one searches where the light is good rather than where the sought object is likely to be. In the case of CPI, we suspect they measure what is easily quantified. There is incredible granularity on the cost of apples, bananas and peanut butter but only big sweeping categories for healthcare and housing. 

The bottom line is that we think CPI substantially understates the inflation expectations that investors should incorporate into the pricing of bonds and that long-term rates should increase. One does not have to believe this to own bank stocks as they remain cheap in any case at a 66% relative P/E, but if we are correct about CPI, the upside should be even better.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Anyone who lives in the real world and pays their own bills, mortgage and taxes knows inflation is understated. Additionally, since government spending is integrally tied to official statistics, politicians have an interest in the understatement persisting not least because fiscal deficits are already wide. However, it is reasonable to conclude that we have had such an uptick in reactionism against the status quo is because consumers have direct experience of inflation which the statistics refuse to acknowledge. 



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October 16 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing in Africa

Thank you for a very informative big picture on Friday. Do you know of any fund managers that are investing in Africa with good track records for us to consider investing with?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I’m sure will be of interest to subscribers. Investing in Africa is not a simple matter. The entire continent has 1649 listed companies with major markets like South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt representing significant weightings.  



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October 12 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia Doesn't Have the Answers

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

Finally, the system may well fail in its primary objective -- that is, to minimize the need for the government to finance retirement. The typical accumulated balance at retirement age is around A$200,000 for men and around A$110,000 for women. The averages are artificially increased by a small pool of people with large balances, yet they're still well below the A$600,000 to A$700,000 estimated to be necessary for homeowning and debt-free couples to finance their retirements, which may last 20 or more years.

The Australian government will need to cover the shortfall for a large proportion of the population. In fact, it will lose doubly, having already suffered a loss of revenue from the generous tax breaks provided for the schemes (estimated at A$30 billion annually and increasing), which have been used, especially by wealthy individuals, as a way to reduce their tax burden.

Future generations will also be affected adversely, having to finance payments to older generations through higher taxes or additional government debt, reduced wealth transfers from parents, and lower benefits than those awarded to their predecessors.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia has gone decades without a recession not least because it has benefitted from the evolution of commodity demand from China, the growth associated with inward migration of a highly educated workforce and the evolution of the services sector. That has allowed it to retain the mantle of a AAA rated credit while much larger economies like the USA and UK have been downgraded. 



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October 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Commodities report

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from MacQuarie which may be of interest. Here is a section on precious metals: 

In the PGMs, we have again reduced our platinum price expectations. The rally we had been calling for from July did happen, but when it came it was so unconvincing, mainly based on a higher gold price, it might have been better if it had not happened at all. When gold lost steam it was exposed for what it was. A number of bullish factors we had cited – such as strong Chinese imports – have faded, and our expectations of a stabilisation of the European diesel share look to be premature. We continue to believe – absent a sharp decline in the rand – that platinum’s worst days are behind it, and our gold and FX forecasts imply decent gains in 2018/2019. A better world economy should help platinum jewellery demand, while the Chinese diesel sector offers some respite from the European negativity. But platinum simply isn’t in short supply at present. 

Whereas palladium is. We still can’t quite believe it should be worth more than platinum, and we don’t think it will be for long. But the internal forces that would bring this about are currently quite weak – gasoline engines continue to gain market share vs diesel, and substitution of platinum, while now making more sense than the reverse, is not an immediate thing. So while palladium is still set to fall back over 2018, that will be largely on external factors – weaker US and Chinese car sales – and that process has been delayed by the stronger-for-longer world economy we now see. Adding to this, investor sales have dried up. This matters as the market is in deficit, and we had expected investors, scared by the prospect of EVs, to fund it. That EVs haven’t scared them is perhaps understandable given limited volumes so far, but the deficit still needs funding, and a higher price for longer is the result. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Palladium has been outperforming the other precious metals and indeed the industrial metals all year but it has paused in the region of $1000 and some consolidation has been underway for the last couple of months. Nevertheless, a sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. 



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September 28 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The World Is Creeping Toward De-Dollarization

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Ronald-Peter Stöferle for the Mises Institute. Here is a section:

A clear signal that something is afoot would be the abolition of the Saudi riyal's peg to the US dollar. As recently as April of this year economist Nasser Saeedi advised Middle Eastern countries to prepare for a “new normal” — and specifically to review the dollar pegs of their currencies: “By 2025 it is clear that the center of global economic geography is very much in Asia. What we’ve been living in over the past two decades is a very big shift in the political, economic, and financial geography.”

While the role of oil-producing countries (and particularly Saudi Arabia) shouldn't be underestimated, at present the driving forces with regard to de-dollarization are primarily Moscow and Beijing. We want to take a closer look at this process.

There exist numerous political statements in this context which leave no room for doubt. The Russians and Chinese are quite open about their views regarding the role of gold in the current phase of the transition. Thus, Russian prime minister Dimitri Medvedev, at the time president of Russia, held a gold coin up to a camera on occasion of the 2008 G8 meeting in Aquila in Italy. Medvedev said that debates over the reserve currency question had become a permanent fixture of the meetings of government leaders.

Almost ten years later, the topic of currencies and gold is on the Sino-Russian agenda again. In March, Russia's central bank opened its first office in Beijing. Russia is preparing to place its first renminbi-denominated government bond. Both sides have intensified efforts in recent years to settle bilateral trade not in US dollars, but in rubles and yuan. Gold is considered important by both countries.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Oil and its derivative products are used in every country in the world so it is logical that the acquiescence of major suppliers to a Dollar standard is a necessary condition of the USA’s international currency hegemony. However, it is not the only consideration. 



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