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January 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold as a Tier 1 asset under Basel III

You mentioned that gold should be higher. I understand that there is effectively a "put" on gold, die to shorts being able to be placed - using unallocated gold - which are naked. But that the Basel 3 Accord which should be in place in June will reduce unallocated gold to a tier3 asset.

Gold I understand being elevated to a tier 1 asset (as for cash).

This surely means that the demand for physical gold (already in demand with orders not being filled) will surely surge.

Are we therefore positioned to make a killing on gold between now and June?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this topical question. The announcement that gold would be recategorized as a Tier 1 asset under Basel III occurred two years ago. That begs the question whether the outsized demand from central banks since early 2019 was in response to the announcement and in preparation for the changeover in June 2021. I suspect Russia’s outsized purchases over the last few years were influenced by this change over.



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January 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australian Resources

Eoin Treacy's view -

The S&P/ASX 200 Resources Index is back testing its peak from 2008 and now occupies about 20% of the broader index; second only to the banking sector. Of course, that is in nominal terms. On a constant currency basis, the Index is well shy of the 2008 and 2011 peaks.

That’s a common feature for resources indices around the world. The commodity crash took a heavy toll on the metal and currency values which compounded the effect of the declines on portfolios.

The opposite is now true. As the Dollar trends lower it burnishes returns for investors in currencies other than the Dollar.



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January 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Deflation Threatens to Push Yen Higher on Japan Real Yield Gain

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

“Japan’s real yields are high and are rising with deflation underway,” said Tohru Sasaki, head of Japan markets research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “The real yield gap widening in the negative is very significant. It may eventually drag the yen higher.”

Consumer price growth in Japan excluding fresh food -- a measure closely watched by the country’s central bank -- has been negative or zero since April. Expectations for future inflation -- derived from 5-year breakeven rates -- sit at minus 0.12%. Equivalent U.S. breakevens are at 2.16%, up over 60 basis points and rising since November, as investors bet further stimulus under new President Joe Biden will help reflate the American economy.

Yen at 100
The result is a higher real yield in Japan, where 5-year inflation-protected notes trade around zero versus minus 1.73% in the U.S., increasing the relative attractiveness of the country’s bonds and its currency.

Eoin Treacy's view -

You know you live in a funny reality when a zero or negative interest rate produces a positive real yield. Japan’s deflationary environment has been an abiding characteristic of the market for decades and the vast quantity of debt accrued in that time is a headwind to risk taking, speculation and economic activity going forward. Attempts to reinvigorate the domestic demand story with immigration were beginning to bear fruit ahead of the pandemic. Japan has weathered the storm better than most so it will face less of a challenge in recovering as the world heads towards reflation.



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January 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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January 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on financial repression:

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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January 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EV makers' battery choices raise questions about future cobalt demand -

This article from S&P Global Platts was written in November but includes some useful information about the outlook for battery chemistries. Here is a section:

In May, Volkswagen acquired a stake in Chinese battery supplier Gotion-High Tech, one of the country's largest suppliers of LFP batteries. However, Volkswagen told Platts by e-mail that it currently does not plan to use LFP in its cars, although the company is "verifying that technology and its opportunities."

Another German automaker, BMW, recently expanded its battery plant in Tiexi, China, but reportedly to produce nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries for the iX3 model. The company's primary goal at the moment is to increase driving range, but lowering costs will be a priority in the future, BMW told Platts by e-mail.

"In this conflict of objectives between range and cost, it is more important than ever to completely penetrate all actuators, starting with raw materials, cell chemistry, cell and module construction, and optimizing their entire interactions," BMW said, without dismissing any specific kind of cathode chemistry.

Some western market participants still argue that LFP should be restricted in the future to Chinese low-range city cars, as well as energy storage systems. Most of the investment is still flowing into NCM technology, which will maintain cobalt's relevance, sources said.

Even Tesla, despite committing to completely move away from cobalt and employing LFP in its Chinese-made Model 3 Standard Range, still uses NCM 811 (8 parts nickel, 1 part each cobalt and manganese), supplied by LG Chem, in the Model 3 Long Range version produced in Shanghai.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every battery manufacturer is chasing economies of scale so there is a great deal of investment flowing into battery production. At the same time there is a lot of competition to come up with the most effect chemistries. Some are better for short haul city cars but long-range vehicles need different batteries.

On top of that complication there is the promise of completely new products disrupting the market. An increasing number of companies believe they have what it takes to commercialise solid state batteries. Toyota’s concept vehicle will be released this year and Quantum Scape went public on the promise of delivering a product by 2025. That suggest picking the one battery manufacturer that will break the mould is likely to be quite difficult but there are other ways to play the theme.



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January 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Corn Supply Squeeze Sends Prices Soaring, Risking Food Inflation

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

Corn futures rose to a seven-year high a day after the U.S. slashed its forecast for domestic stockpiles more than expected, adding steam to a rally fueled by Chinese demand for grain and soybeans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cut in the corn-inventory forecast to a seven-year low means world supply is tighter than expected at a time when Chinese demand shows little sign of letting up and South American growers face drier-than normal weather. Brazil’s crop agency on Wednesday lowered its estimates for corn and soybean output. Global food prices have been rising and stronger grains means further inflation is likely.

“Corn markets should stay bid this winter,” given Chinese demand and risks to Brazil’s harvest, Citigroup said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Subscribers may remember the swarms of locusts that plagued east Africa, India and China last year. What I found interesting at the time was the willingness of Western media to be spoon fed stories of how successful China was in combatting the swarms using drones. At the time I thought it was the modern equivalent of a Potemkin village. We may now be seeing the repercussions of Asian crop damage in 2020 combined with the impact the pandemic has had on planting and harvesting. 



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January 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals: Easy come's "But for how long will easy stay"

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Most major miners are now very reluctant to embark on ambitious exploration and development programs. They have been punished by the markets for doing so for over the decade and are often described as capital destroyers. Instead, they have concentrated on M&A activity, where they have security of production already underway and at least partial visibility about the extent of the resource base.



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January 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Waiting For The Last Dance

Thanks to a number of subscribers for this article by Jeremy Grantham which may be of interest. 

The strangest feature of this bull market is how unlike every previous great bubble it is in one respect. Previous bubbles have combined accommodative monetary conditions with economic conditions that are perceived at the time, rightly or wrongly, as near perfect, which perfection is extrapolated into the indefinite future. The state of economic excellence of any previous bubble of course did not last long, but if it could have lasted, then the market would justifiably have sold at a huge multiple of book. But today’s wounded economy is totally different: only partly recovered, possibly facing a double-dip, probably facing a slowdown, and certainly facing a very high degree of uncertainty. Yet the market is much higher today than it was last fall when the economy looked fine and unemployment was at a historic low. Today the P/E ratio of the market is in the top few percent of the historical range and the economy is in the worst few percent. This is completely without precedent and may even be a better measure of speculative intensity than any SPAC.

This time, more than in any previous bubble, investors are relying on accommodative monetary conditions and zero real rates extrapolated indefinitely. This has in theory a similar effect to assuming peak economic performance forever: it can be used to justify much lower yields on all assets and therefore correspondingly higher asset prices. But neither perfect economic conditions nor perfect financial conditions can last forever, and there’s the rub.

All bubbles end with near universal acceptance that the current one will not end yet…because. Because in 1929 the economy had clicked into “a permanently high plateau”; because Greenspan’s Fed in 2000 was predicting an enduring improvement in productivity and was pledging its loyalty (or moral hazard) to the stock market; because Bernanke believed in 2006 that “U.S. house prices merely reflect a strong U.S. economy” as he perpetuated the moral hazard: if you win you’re on your own, but if you lose you can count on our support. Yellen, and now Powell, maintained this approach. All three of Powell’s predecessors claimed that the asset prices they helped inflate in turn aided the economy through the wealth effect. Which effect we all admit is real. But all three avoided claiming credit for the ensuing market breaks that inevitably followed: the equity bust of 2000 and the housing bust of 2008, each replete with the accompanying anti-wealth effect that came when we least needed it, exaggerating the already guaranteed weakness in the economy. This game surely is the ultimate deal with the devil.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The challenge for value investors is they tend to see trouble coming way before the rest of the crowd. For many funds the high Cyclically Adjusted P/E ratio has ensured they have been underinvested for years so bearishness is not a new phenomenon even if some are now doubling down on their view.



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January 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Steel Plan Puts Challenge to Australian Iron Ore Miners

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

China has already been moving steadily to secure iron ore resources. Some of its overseas mines include Sinosteel Corp.’s Channar mine joint venture in Australia and Shougang Group Co.’s Marcona project in Peru. But the focus is on Guinea, where some of China’s biggest state-owned firms are close to getting the go-ahead to develop Simandou, the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposit.

“It’s entirely feasible that China could raise its self-sufficiency in virgin and secondary iron units to 45% from its current level of just over 30% if it successfully develops the Simandou project,” said Navigate Commodities co-founder Atilla Widnell.

To reach 45%, Simandou has to produce 200 million tons a year to displace imports from other countries, said Widnell. Still, “it may be a stretch” to achieve that level by 2025 given geographical challenges in the area, and he estimates that with the current pace of development, the goals will be reached by 2030.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ownership of Simandou has been a point of contention for much of the last decade. Payments to politicians by Rio Tinto eventually resulted in the company selling all of its interest to Chinalco in 2017. That provided China with full ownership of the asset bloc and it has no issue with making payments to politicians to ease the development of the mine.



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January 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December Research Letter

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Crescat Capital which contains a number of interesting charts. Here is a section:

Contributing to the supply shortage, the number of major new gold discoveries by year, i.e., greater than 2 million Troy ounces, has been in a declining secular trend for 30 years including the cyclical boost between 2000 and 2007. At Crescat, we have been building an activist portfolio of gold and silver mining exploration companies that we believe will kick off a new cyclical surge in discoveries over the next several years from today’s depressed levels.

Gold mining exploration expense industrywide, down sharply since 2012, has been one of the issues adding to the supply problems today. Crescat is providing capital to the industry to help reverse this trend.

Since 2012, there has also been a declining trend of capital expenditures toward developing new mines. From a macro standpoint, gold prices are likely to be supported by this lack of past investment until these trends are dramatically reversed over the next several years. Credit availability for gold and silver mining companies completely dried up over the last decade. Companies were forced to buckle up and apply strict capital controls to financially survive during that period. Investors demanded significant reductions in debt and equity issuances while miners had to effectively tighten up operational costs, cut back investment, and prioritize the quality of their balance sheet assets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Supply Inelasticity Meets Rising Demand was the catch call of the commodity-led bull market between the early 2000s and 2011. Once identified it represents the beginning of a new bull market.

It takes time to convince investors there is a new bull market. By the time that happens prices have been trending higher for years already. Then it takes time to find and build new mines. That can take anything up to five years. Over that time, the firmness of prices convinces more and more people that the trend of demand dominance is irreversible so miners come under a great deal of pressure to expand capital expenditure or to buy out other operations. That generally occurs around the same time that new mines come online and contributes to a triple waterfall decline. Supply increases, debt is unmanageable and prices declines destroy valuations. Such is the cyclicality of the mining sector.



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December 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rising inflationary pressures and Ethereum

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Greenback at Risk of Sharp Year-End Drop to Cap a Miserable 2020

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

The dollar is heading into the year-end vulnerable to a sharp extension of the bear run that’s shaped global currency markets since March.

Long-term trends on technical charts stretching back over the past decade reveal multiple trigger points that could see the greenback shoot lower against a host of key currencies.

Poor liquidity, lightly-staffed trading desks, defensive price-making engines and reduced seasonal demand add to the potential for outsized moves.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This article reflects the deep negative sentiment currently being expressed by investors everywhere. The Dollar has done little but fall since March. It has lost its interest rate advantage and supply is abundant by any definition. The US government is also calling out countries because their currencies are not rising quickly enough against it. In the competitive world of currency markets, the USA is doing more than most to devalue its currency.



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December 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Politics come first' as ban on Australian coal worsens China's power cuts

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

Yiwu, a city in eastern China known for making products such as flags and badges, has not only switched off all its street lights during the evening but has forced factories to cut working hours by up to 80 per cent until the end of this year.

“We are not living a normal life when our factory can only work two days a week and the streets are dark at night,” said Mike Li, owner of a plastic flower factory in Yiwu.

Chinese authorities have blamed these problems on a combination of an unusually cold winter in parts of the country and high energy demand.

Power plants, however, said their operation had also suffered from the suspension of Australian coal imports.

Official data show Chinese plants obtained about 3 per cent of their thermal coal from Australia last year. The ratio, said an official at trade association the China Electricity Council, could exceed 10 per cent in more developed provinces that are drawn to the high quality of Australian coal.

“The import ban doesn’t make economic sense,” said the official.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Christmas is not a holiday in China but Chinese New Year is. Therefore, December is the time when orders are placed for delivery in January because nothing tends to get done over the two-week Spring Festival break. The slowdown in manufacturing capacity across many of China’s major industrial areas is likely to have a knock-on effect of delivery timelines towards the end of the quarter. That suggests inflationary pressures will mount as a result of this trend of putting politics ahead of the economy.



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December 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on filling the gap

Hi Eoin - re the Chart Seminar, which I haven't done for nearly 40 years!! - can you remind us/me the significance of filling the gap (down) - see, for instance, latest movement on CDE US Equity. Thanks and Happy Christmas.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your patronage over the decades. Gaps in the market come in a variety of forms such as breakaway, trend extensions, exhaustion gaps and island reversals. The one thing they all share is a dynamic move outside of market hours.



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December 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on cannabis stocks

Hello Eoin What is your opinion on Cannabis stocks? All the best from Switzerland, I enjoy your comments every day with greatest interest

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for you support and kind words. Opium poppies have been central to pain medication for millennia. However, they are uniquely unsuited to chronic pain ailments. The issues that have arisen over the last decade with opioid over prescription and addiction are well understood. Considering the significant anecdotal evidence from cannabis advocates, there is a clear rationale for at least giving the medicinal cannabis a second look. My own experience is cannabis ointment is effective in numbing painful muscles temporarily but it is not a cure. Meanwhile, recreational cannabis is where the speculative interest resides.



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December 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Central Bank Going It Alone Spurs an Influx of Capital

This article by Tom Hancock and Enda Curran for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

One reason it hasn’t leaned on its balance sheet as much as global peers is the PBOC largely handed the task of increasing money supply and lowering interest-rates to state-owned banks. It cut bank reserve-requirements, meaning they had more cash to dole out in loans.

With the economy growing again, policy makers have signaled they want a more sustainable pace of credit expansion. By contrast, the Fed, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan have all announced plans to maintain and step-up stimulus into the next year.

“Advanced economy central banks will try to use negative real interest rates and inflation to erode the real value of their sovereign debt,” said Andrew Sheng, chief adviser to China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. “This is why real money flows will go to the economies that show growth, higher productivity” and steady monetary and exchange rate policy, he said.

The difference in yield between Chinese government bonds and U.S. Treasuries is already near record levels, with many market players expecting the gap to widen further next year

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese approach to the pandemic has been to allow companies to issue a lot more debt and to give banks the leeway to facilitate that practice. That has occurred despite the uptick in corporate defaults. That has amounted to an addition CNY5 trillion in debt issuance this year or an increase of about 40% over the peaks of the last four years.



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December 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Iron Ore's Towering Rally Set to Roll Into 2021 as Mills Protest

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

Once the biggest iron ore miner in the world, Brazil’s Vale SA fell back to second spot last year after the devastating tailings dam collapse that killed about 270 people and triggered an overhaul of its waste storage facilities.

Vale is still about 100 million tons short of meeting the 400 million tons in output promised prior to the Brumadinho dam disaster. The recovery has been slower than expected, depriving the market of much-needed ore. Like its Australian rivals -- Rio Tinto Group, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. -- Vale has prioritized value over volume. With current prices above $150 a ton and mining costs as low as $12 a ton, it’s an approach that has reaped rich rewards.

Eoin Treacy's view -

BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale control the vast majority of the iron-ore market. They were very disciplined in refusing to raise production volumes for at least the first half of the commodity bull market. That supply inelasticity was the driver of a significant bull market and only came to a close when high price encouraged competitors into the market. Since then, many of the upstarts have gone bust. Supply might not be as concentrated as it was in the early 2000s but these companies still hold a lot of sway.



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December 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Plots Cuba Reset in Rebuke of Trump's Sanctions

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sea Fever Off the Cape

This edition of John Authers newsletter for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Edwards expected CAPE to be around 10 by now, given the moves in bond yields, and admits he was guilty of a “forecasting error of epic proportions.” But his Ice Age thesis has played out as predicted in Europe, and he has also been correct to predict that stocks would look ever cheaper relative to bonds in the U.S. For now, his judgment is clear: “In my Ice Age view of the world, Robert Shiller is dead wrong. In my view, US equity valuations are a QE-fueled bubble waiting to burst.”

Now the question is whether this is really so different from the Shiller view. His model plainly suggests that stocks will do badly over the next 10 years, and that bonds will do even worse. This was the way Shiller put it in a research piece for Barclays Plc in October, (which can be found on SSRN here):

In summary, investors expect a certain return in equities as compensation for investing in a riskier asset class, and as interest rates have declined, the relative expected return for equities has increased dramatically. We believe this may quantitatively help to explain investors current preference for equities over bonds, and as such the quick recoveries we are observing (with the exception of the UK), whilst still in the midst of a pandemic. In the US in particular, we are once again observing stretched valuations and high CAPE ratios compared to history.

Bond arithmetic may help to show that Edwards and Shiller aren’t as far apart as they appear.

When yields are this low, moving to a higher yield involves serious losses. To get from the current 10-year yield of 1% back to the 3% that 10-year Treasuries were offering as recently as two years ago, the Treasury price would have to drop by two-thirds. (If yields were a more normal 4%, then a two-percentage-point increase would require a fall in the bond price of only one-third.) At this point, bonds offer low income, little upside, and risk of massive downside. 

Maybe it isn’t that big an act of apostasy for someone who remains dubious about the future for stocks to predict that they should still do better than bonds. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Debt is where the big bubble is inflating. That was true a decade ago and it is truer today. The big question therefore is what would cause this bubble to deflate? We can spend a great deal of time worrying about the CAPE ratio because it is at an historic high level but the fact is that until there is a catalyst to deflate the bubble the status quo will be sustained.



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December 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wheat Set for Biggest Weekly Gain Since July on Supply Surprise

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

“A 3% increase in global wheat feed demand should add another layer of price support,”Jacquie Holland, an analyst at Farm Futures, said in a note.

On Friday, consultant SovEcon cut its Russian wheat-output estimate 5.2% to 76.8 million tons on adverse weather. Government officials are considering an export tax in addition to a proposal to set a grain-shipment quota for a few months next year, according to an industry group. This week, Putin expressed surprise at sharp price increases for staples including bread and sunflower oil.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The pandemic has had an influence on agricultural commodity supply chains. It has also had a meaningful effect on the consumption habits of whole populations. That is all happening against a background of the transition from El Nino to La Nina which has already resulted in a drought in much of Latin America. It also tends to bring much heavier rainfall to eastern Australia.



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December 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Household Debt Surges Through the Pandemic

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

China’s household debt ballooned in the first half of the year, rising by about $380 billion, according to new Bank for International Settlements data. That increase was almost four times as large as the second-place U.S. And it compounds one of China’s biggest economic vulnerabilities.

It has been widely reported that China’s industrial production and exports have helped to power its recovery this year. But the other leg of the recovery is the continued rapid rise of real-estate investment, which is set to outstrip GDP growth again in 2020, as it has in 16 of the past 17 years.

Interest rates this year fell sharply in most countries, but the People’s Bank of China has resisted this trend. That means that whereas borrowers in the U.S. were at least able to refinance real-estate loans, Chinese borrowers are left with largely unchanged debt-servicing costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A common sence way of looking at the market is to buy the assets that domestic investors favour. In the USA that’s equities, in Germany it's bonds and in China it is properties. A portfolio made up of that mix would have done rather well over the last few decades.



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December 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on net central bank selling of gold

You periodically remind us of some of David’s good advice, such as “Don’t fight The Fed”.   The Gold Hub recently reported that central banks around the world were net sellers of gold in Q3. (See attached chart.)  It is easy to see why these institutions want to discourage gold investors.  Are we fighting not only the Fed but every other government in the world?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. Gold has been in a corrective phase since late August and sentiment has seen a significant reversal. If we remember only a few months ago investors were revelling in the idea that gold was the only asset worth owning. Today there is a lot of questioning about whether it worth owning at all.



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December 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Uranium Stocks Rise on U.S. Defense Bill

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

Uranium stocks outperformed as House and Senate lawmakers revealed a compromise version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Meanwhile, industrial metals continued their rally with the global equity markets.

S&P Global reported that the bill effectively provides for the military to continue a policy under President-elect Joe Biden that classifies the domestic supplies of certain minerals such as uranium, graphite and lithium as vital to national security

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ensuring ready demand for North American supply is an important support for the uranium mining sector. Many miners have been producing uranium at a loss because of significant oversupply and the price war Kazatomprom imposed. It’s been years in the making but the big question is whether the excess supply has been worked off.



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December 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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December 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

JPMorgan Sees Divergence in S. African Gold, Platinum Stocks

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

Prices of platinum, palladium and other platinum group metals will be supported by demand from China and other major consumers, given an increased push for energy transition, electric vehicles, and reduced emissions. Platinum and its by-product palladium are used in vehicle pollution-control devices.

Platinum companies “are very different now from gold,” Aserkoff said. “They have different drivers from gold, the price of the metals is going to change and the stock prices will behave differently. I don’t think they should be as correlated as they used to be.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold is monetary metal so it tends to attract people who are concerned about the sustainability of a fiat currency system. The other precious metals are also industrial resources. They tend to be held in their own right but they also have industrial utilities. Solar panels are a support for silver prices and catalytic converter demand has been a tailwind for palladium. Platinum has lacked a fundamental driver since the decline of diesel engines. That may now be changing with the evolution of a hydrogen fuel cell market. 



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December 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on inflation

With the growing expectation of rising inflation in 2021 what areas of the world markets would you choose to be positioned in if this proves to be the case? I note you only have a few trades on at present. Ae you likely to broaden these in the future?

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-12-03/five-reasons-to-worry-about-faster-u-s-inflation

https://twitter.com/Ole_S_Hansen/status/1334476194218205186

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. Governments are going all in on reflation and they are unlikely to stop until they get the inflationary outcome their desire. When above trend inflation is policy rather than a “nice to have” is has to be a more credible option.



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December 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin's Rally Spurs Wall Street to Question Future of Gold

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

“The transparency in Bitcoin is helping drive a lot of interest,” said Lyle Pratt, an independent investor who owns Bitcoin. “Gold is kind of like a blackbox, you have to trust the custodians to tell you about any flows in the market.”

For Plurimi Wealth LLP’s Chief Investment Officer Patrick Armstrong, who allocates 6.5% of his discretionary funds into gold, even if Bitcoin has potentially bigger upside in an inflationary spiral, the risks are just too big. Gold also has a long history as a store of value that Bitcoin can’t match. There’s always the nagging suspicion that another, potentially central-bank backed, digital currency could supplant it.

“If the debasement trade works, it is very possible Bitcoin works better,” he said. “But it is also possible Bitcoin has no value in years to come, while I do not think the same can be said of gold.”

One thing that’s clear is Wall Street is taking Bitcoin seriously in a way that it didn’t in 2017. “I have changed my mind!” wrote Sanford C. Bernstein strategist Inigo Fraser-Jenkins in a report Monday. Bitcoin won’t replace gold, but there’s room for both, he said, especially if the future is one of inflation and extreme debt levels.

“I see it as being complementary,” he said in an interview. “Whatever one’s starting position was before the pandemic in terms of what your gold and crypto allocation should be, I think it should be materially larger now.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many institutional investors missed out on the initial run-up in bitcoin prices and they are committed not to miss out on this one. The big inhibition for institutional money has been the question of custody. With so many examples of exchanges being robbed and even of an exchange CEO dying with the encryption key only committed to memory, there are obvious questions about the security of custody services. That issue was addressed when Fidelity began to offer custody services. Now that both Square and PayPal are offering transaction services, the perception of risk has been reduced but not eliminated.   



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December 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on top formations

Looking at the chart of Franco Nevada, is that a head and shoulders top formation?

Eoin Treacy's view -

A head and shoulders top formation is an iteration of a ranging, time and size Type-3 top discussed at the Chart Seminar. Tops are more difficult to identify than bottoms because the natural proclivity of prices is to rise once a trend has been established. Therefore, a number of factors need to fall into place to confirm top formation development.



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November 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Service

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

And

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of day on gold

What strikes me and many other observers is that Gold is down by 1.5% to 1785 cash (just before Nov. contract expiry date…) but GDX and GDXJ are UP by 0.4% and 0.9%!

Silver is DOWN by 3% (just before Nov. contract expiry date…) while Silver miners SIL is also slightly UP!

As miners normally lead for me the dichotomy between metals and miners is probably due to the bullion banks trying to push down prices for the (RECORD!) deliverable contracts (they are short Gold by about USD 35bn!) and will allow metal prices to rise next week

If so, then this then be in tune with your Nov. 26 turn-around/bottom +- 1-2 trading days for the 10 and 20 day cycles.

Thinking about undoing my residual hedge via JDST before markets close early today….

What is your view on the above?

I much wonder if your bottom-fishing orders for PM’s were triggered today – but I suppose you want to get in at prices closer to 1700 for gold…

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question and for pointing out this divergence between gold and gold mining stocks. The proximity of the expiry of gold contracts is relevant not least because of demand for physical metal. It is well within the realm of the possible to think enterprising institutional traders might like to see a lower price ahead of delivery.



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November 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inflation Regime Roadmap

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

So there’s plenty to choose from here and all seven are useful to hold in mind when thinking about inflation. For our part, we think an acceleration in inflation could now be driven by a combination of the following – the first two being critical to our case:

Monetarism – expecting persistent deficit financing causing the money stock (M2) to rise relative to GDP. Some would classify this as demand-pull inflation;

Marxism – believing that it will be impossible to re-impose austerity after the Coronavirus is over and that voters will demand rising real wages to control income inequality. Some would classify this as cost-push inflation;

Neoclassical effects – the just in time, Asia-dominated global supply chain is likely to morph into a just in case, home-grown supply chain, causing a large-scale supply-side disruption;

Environmental effects – on the basis the one should never let a good crisis go to waste, it’s likely that G7 governments now use their new-found balance sheet room to accelerate the capital investment required to make their economies ecologically sustainable, which will have the side effect of raising fixed capital costs for private sector firms.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some concern has been expressed this week at the impending expiry of the moratorium on evictions in the USA. This is a useful graphic.

It highlights the fact that many states have 30% delinquency on mortgages/rent. Interestingly, despite the widely held view that New York is on the cusp of being denuded of inhabitants, it is far from the worst in terms of delinquency.



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November 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the politicisation of monetary policy

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

Best wishes to you and family. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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

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

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

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



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Next Phase of the V

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A New UN Push Aims to Feed the World's Rabid Hunger for Carbon Credits

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

It’s a tricky proposition, though. Offset programs are notoriously difficult to execute with confidence. REDD+, launched in 2007 to much fanfare among developing nations and UN climate negotiators, but has rarely lived up to its original excitement as developed nations failed to install carbon-pricing policies that succeed in guaranteeing demand. 

Global demand for offsets may outstrip supply by 2025, according to a September analysis by Fitch Ratings. Many companies, including Microsoft Corp, The Walt Disney Co, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, have already begun either buying or planning to buy offsets. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos this week announced $791 million in funding for 16 environmental groups, including $100 million each to organizations with strong forestry or offsets programs—EDF, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.

Navigating the challenges to come may require groups like Emergent to continue to act as market-making entities. Or, if markets get the boost they need from the Green Gigaton Challenge and other initiatives, “we'd be thrilled to turn off the lights, close the door,” Bloomgarden said. “Impact achieved.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was part of team that put together a proposal for a group in Alaska who were seeking to raise investment capital for a welfare/education program for their community. They were in line to sell a significant asset but instead were able to hold the asset and sell carbon credits on a stand of forest on the community’s property. That delivered a long-term cashflow, they got to keep their assets and they had no plans to sell or cut the trees in any case.



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rocketing Bitcoin Stakes Claim as Pandemic Refuge for Brave

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

“Bitcoin seems to be the hedge of choice against the U.S. dollar debasement that is looming, either through more Federal Reserve quantitative easing, higher government debt or a steepening yield curve -- or all three,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with Oanda Asia Pacific Pte, wrote in an email.

Bitcoin’s investor base is also widening as more institutions make the jump into the asset class. Purchases or endorsements from the likes of Square Inc., Paul Tudor Jones and Stan Druckenmiller add to the mix. But its volatility -- including a furious run toward $20,000 in December 2017 followed by a bust -- make arguments for the cryptocurrency as a store of value contentious.

Fear of missing out “is well and truly in play here, and the fact that so many big hitters are publicly declaring their positions is clearly helping,” Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Financial Pty, wrote in a Nov. 18 note. “I don’t see this move as a mania or grossly over-loved just yet.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The bitcoin price is back testing its peaks which begs the question whether it is about to break on the upside in a rerun of the 2017 mania. The one big difference between bitcoin and other assets is it is completely borderless. All anyone needs is an internet connection to buy. That equates to a very wide investor base for what is a tight market.



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November 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum Heads for Record Deficit This Year on Supply Disruption

This article by Eddie Spence for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscriber. Here is a section:

Platinum markets are poised for a record deficit this year as disruptions to key producers and an increase in investor appetite far outstripped the pandemic’s effect on industrial demand.

Pandemic-related mine closures and outages at Anglo American Plc’s converter plant in South Africa have cut supply, according to a report by the World Platinum Investment Council. The group projects a deficit of 1.2 million ounces for 2020, the largest since records began, and almost four times higher than it forecast two months ago.

Despite the record shortfall, platinum has declined about 3% this year, making it one of the worst-performing major metals. Demand from auto-catalysts, the biggest consumers of platinum, is forecast to drop 16%. By contrast, gold has surged 24%, while sister metal palladium has advanced more than 19%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Platinum is an industrial metal which saw demand decline sharply following the diesel scandal. Recent news that electric vehicle sales now outpace those of diesel cars in Europe is a testament to how low demand has fallen. That has resulted in the price being among the worst performers in both the industrial and precious metals sectors over the last few years.  



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November 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Panasonic Is the Latest Company Betting on Electric Vehicles, Powering Past Its Tesla Partnership to Explore a Venture in Norway

This article by Jack Denton for Barrons may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Europe is one of the fastest-moving spaces in the race to dominate an expected boom in electric vehicles, with at least 12 countries planning a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles in coming years. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday a ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars, to come into effect by 2030.

Tesla is building a gigafactory in Germany and is reportedly planning one in the U.K., while one of its key rivals, Northvolt, is building a gigafactory in Sweden. Established European car makers like Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW are racing to build electric vehicles on their own or through partnerships, and Panasonic has previously supplied batteries to Volkswagen and Peugeot.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At its recent battery day Tesla announced they plan on ditching outside help in producing batteries over the coming few years. That’s one of the primary ways they aim to achieve lower production costs. It obviously represents a business risk for Panasonic and this agreement appears to be a first step toward diversifying.



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nobel UN food agency warns 2021 will be worse than 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sugar, Coffee Jump as Hurricane Threatens Central America Crops

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

Iota will hit near the Honduras-Nicaragua border on Monday in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta, which killed more than 100 people. Iota’s winds reached 160 miles (257 kilometers) per hour as a Category 5 storm, the strongest on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale. A hurricane that powerful can crush homes, snap trees and make areas uninhabitable for months.

Honduras is Central America’s biggest arabica producer. Guatemala is second and a key shipper of raw and refined sugar. Iota may bring 24 inches (61 cm) to 36 inches of rain as the storm crosses the two countries and Nicaragua, Donald Keeney, senior meteorologist for Maxar in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in a telephone interview.

The region was hammered by Tropical Depression Eta earlier this month as torrential rain damaged roads, compounding hurdles for growers facing labor shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This has been an unusually active and lengthy Atlantic hurricane season. Not only has it gone on longer than normal but it also started early and has had more named storms than any other year.

The severity of storms has increased of late but the more important development is the surprise rapid strengthening of storms as they approach land witnessed over the last two years. That is a wholly new phenomenon which makes the damage potential increasingly difficult to predict.

This podcast interviewing Nathan Myhrvold includes a section where he discusses his theory on how to prevent hurricanes and may be of interest to subscribers.  This article from National Graphic from 2017 may also be of interest. 



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November 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Quant Shock That 'Never Could Happen' Hits Wall Street Models

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

 

As money managers rushed to price in stronger economic growth, factor investors who dissect stocks by how much they’ve risen or fallen saw this strategy, known as momentum, crash on Monday like never before. Equities more sensitive to the economic cycle like value and small-cap names skyrocketed.

So while the S&P 500 is just shy of its record high, it’s been a wild week for quants even by the standards of this wild year, with many enduring violent moves rather than capitalizing on the risk-on mood.

All this recalls long-standing worries that freakish cross-asset gyrations are getting more common thanks to cheap money and investor crowding.

Quigley’s estimate for the odds of this week’s shock is in part tongue-in-cheek, based on a rule of thumb for a normal distribution of statistical data. Asset moves are not known to reliably obey this convention that says 98% of all data points occur within three standard deviations of the mean.

But even with the knowledge that market prices are more prone to outlier moves, a rotation of the magnitude seen this week was still a shock to risk models.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Quantitative strategies are designed to take advantage of relative small moves between asset classes that take place every day. They make money be sizing their positions according to the “normal” volatility in the ratios they monitor. 98% efficiency means that on any given day there is a 2% chance of a volatility event leading to unexpected losses. That’s acceptable for the vast majority of investors provided the incidence of outsized events remains low. The reason the credit crisis killed off so many fixed income macro strategies is because the dispersion in the returns broke out and stayed that way for a prolonged period.



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November 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Can Marijuana Help Biden Heal a Divided Nation?

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

What’s more notable is that unlike in the past, all of this happened without much of a public uproar. To be fair, there have been bigger concerns on Americans’ minds these days. But this is the moment that cannabis companies and their investors have been waiting for: to be considered a legitimate industry rather than a hot voting issue. From here, the goal is to make weed every bit as normal as junk food, wine and other vices long found in stores across America.

In order for the industry to flourish it needs the federal government’s help, and the prospects of that are suddenly looking better. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are in favor of marijuana legalization — 91% if you include those who support it at a minimum for medicinal purposes, according to Pew Research Center. That’s more than the number of Americans who support abortion rights or who think human activity contributes to climate change.

Eoin Treacy's view -

President Trump was adamant in his opposition to easing restrictions on sales of cannabis. That contributed to a significant rationalization of the sector over the last couple of years where supply overwhelmed consumption. A number of the early winners in the sector went bust and the expansion plans of the some of the largest companies were heavily cut back. As new administration in the USA takes shape, enthusiasm at the prospect of a reclassification is gaining ground.



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November 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sustained high palladium price favours substitution

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

Substitution of palladium with platinum in three-way autocatalysts will help to offset platinum’s decline in time, but near-term upside is limited. A modest level of substitution is expected in gasoline autocatalysts from 2021, initially in the US where vehicles are generally larger with lower temperature engines. In China and Europe, car manufacturers have prioritised meeting increasingly tight emissions legislation, so will be behind on changing catalyst formulations compared to the US.

However, a sustained palladium price above that of platinum could be tipping the balance in favour of increased substitution, which is necessary to bring both the platinum and palladium markets closer to balance. Palladium has traded at an average of $2,187/oz this year, despite being in the midst of a pandemic and a global recession, with significant contractions to demand. The palladium market deficit is forecast to shrink to around 340 koz this year (as demand was impacted more than supply by Covid-19), and again in 2021 due to work-in-progress stock but is expected to expand significantly thereafter as light-vehicle production recovers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Both platinum and palladium are industrial metals with precious metal attributes. They have both been used for catalytic converters and it usually takes a very large move to initiate the retooling necessary to switch from one to the other.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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November 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bonds are the sentinels in the sequence of recovery

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Surges on Dollar, Stimulus Hopes With Election Outcome Near

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

Strong performances across most commodities with stocks sharply higher and the dollar lower is “in the realization that the combination of a Biden win and senate majority by the Republicans may remove a great deal of policy uncertainty,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for many individuals at present is how do we insulate ourselves from the trend of massive and continued monetary and fiscal stimulus? The purchasing power of fiat currencies continues to fall and that is helping to inflate the prices of all assets. The answer is increasingly to lock down ownership of physical assets in limited supply now, before the price goes up any further.



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November 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazilian Real's Outperformance Demonstrates Trader Pragmatism

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Correction Here. Now What?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Manufacturing activity figures have rebounded impressively over the last month on a global basis. That’s reflective of the snapback in activity following the contraction in the 2nd quarter and will probably moderate over coming months. Nonetheless, it is supportive of the view that this will be have been a short sharp recession.



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October 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Happens Next

Thanks to Iain Little for this lengthy essay by Chris MacIintosh for Capitalist Exploits. Here is a section:

Without the freedom to say what you think, you have no freedom to think. Sharing of thoughts, opinions, data and seeking out the truth of what it all means is crucial to relationships, happiness and life. Now imagine being afraid to do that.

Everything stops.

This is so very important I can’t stress it enough. If I could, I’d do so standing on a rooftop waving my hands with spittle flying. Please understand this assault taking place across the Western world. Right now there is wealth… because it has been built, but wealth is, and always has, been in human ingenuity, what we refer to as human capital. This is what Marxists don’t understand. They see the big houses and cars… the “stuff” and think that’s wealth. It’s not. But this is what they’ll come after.

It is actually worse than that. They won’t be content simply with theft, anymore than Mao’s red guards were satisfied with destroying the jobs of intellectuals. They instead wanted to see them suffer and to bleed and die. So they beat them to death.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Governance is Everything has been a mantra at this service for decades. The most important thing is that governance is not an absolute. It’s a trend. Standards are either improving or deteriorating and that has a direct knock-on effect for risk premia in any country. The primary tools for monitoring governance are minority shareholder interests, property rights, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press. Every one of these facets of governance is under threat all the time.



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October 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Grains Have 'Immediate Upside' Says Goldman Sachs

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

A report from Goldman Sachs says that the commodity sector is likely on its way up in 2021 due to inflation. However, while grains futures have been traveling higher, momentum is likely to slow down for agriculture in general, the report says -- pointing to energy and metals as more likely areas of growth. "Goldman Sachs analysts acknowledged that the non-energy commodities have 'immediate upside' potential due to the strong Chinese demand and weather driven risks, but they see that momentum fizzling in 2021," says Arlan Suderman of StoneX. Corn futures on the CBOT are up 0.7% Thursday, while soybeans are up 0.4%. Meanwhile, wheat is down 0.8%. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Drought risk, the transition to a La Nina weather system and restocking following the panic buying during the initial lockdowns, all represent tailwinds for the soft commodity sector.

Another way of looking at the base formation completions in the sector is commodities are beginning to react to the weakness of the Dollar and risk of inflation in a predictable manner. There is clear potential that commodities are acting as a lead indicator for future inflation.



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October 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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October 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on zombie explorers

On zombie companies. I was very interested to hear your comments on zombie companies at the start of this week’s video. It seems to me that many of the mining exploration companies would come under this umbrella.

Some weeks ago, I decided, having done some prior research, to make an investment in one of these companies. I have reached an age where I am quite willing to put a small amount of my cash resources at risk.

I was also somewhat amused by the name of the company and its ticker, Alien metals (UFO). It had had a chequered history having traded at £5 a share at one point in 2011 but over subsequent years investors deserted the company to value the assets at a fraction of a penny.

Although making no profits, it has assets in the ground in Mexico and Western Australia. I purchased early in August, one million shares at 0.22 pence per share. As the belief stage sets in on the developing bull market in metals, it seems logical that more of these companies are going to be noticed by investors in the near future.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and congratulations on taking opportunities in the market. I agree there is likely to be more interest in explorers for the simple reason that there have been no big gold discoveries in the last few years. Mining is an extractive industry and miners have to expand their reserves through exploration or acquisitions.  



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October 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBA Inflation Twist Suggests Economy Can Run Hotter on Low Rates

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

Australian central bank chief Philip Lowe’s move to emphasize current inflation rates rather than projections suggests the economy will be allowed to run hotter with interest rates staying lower for longer.

Lowe conceded that assessing the outlook is problematic when inflation dynamics aren’t well understood and the world is so uncertain.

“We will now be putting a greater weight on actual, not forecast, inflation in our decision-making,” Lowe said, outlining the RBA’s latest thinking on prices in a speech on Thursday that hinted at further easing to come.

Annual inflation has averaged 1.7% since Lowe took the helm at the Reserve Bank of Australia in 2016, versus a target of 2%-3% over time, and has now dropped below zero.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Central banks have no choice but to pursue inflation with every tool they have available to them. Not only has the pandemic unleashed massive uncertainty, but their is no plan for how the debt taken on to combat it will be repaid.



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October 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Billionaire investor Howard Marks paints grim view of economic outlook: stimulus alone won't cure 'down-cycle'

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

Marks credits the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut its benchmark interest rate to a range of 0% to 0.25% and the signalling of its intention to keep uber-low levels in place for the foreseeable future for providing the most significant stimulus for financial markets in this pandemic era.

That said, investment return expectations, he insists, will be also be hurt by the current state of economy and economic policy over the longer run.

Marks explains the investment return outlook like this: 

So the lower the fed funds rate is, the lower bond yields will be, meaning outstanding bonds with higher interest rates will appreciate. And lower yields on bonds means they offer less competition to stocks, so stocks don’t have to be cheap to attract buying. They, too, will appreciate. And if high-quality assets become high-priced and thus offer low prospective returns, then low-quality assets will see buying – implying rising prices and falling prospective returns – because they look cheap relative to high-quality assets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The default cycle during a recession tends to a long tail because businesses do not all fail at once. The supply of liquidity supported many businesses and partial re-openings will have generated some income. However, the longer reduced activity persists the greater the burden debt will have on companies. Generally, the peak of insolvencies occurs 18 months after the recession begins. That suggests continued ample sources of additional liquidity are essential to support recoveries.



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October 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on gold and the US election

hope you are good? Interesting to hear your views on the US election today. Eoin, am I the only person who is surprised that gold and gold miners are not doing better right now - given the weaker US Dollar and the potential uncertainty surrounding the US election? Also, earlier in the Summer, I think you went on record saying you didn't think there would be a 'second COVID wave.". What is your view now please? BTW, I don't listen to the Audios, I just watch the daily/weekly video commentary. Many thanks

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this series of questions which may be of interest to subscribers. I did say that there would not be a second larger wave because I do not believe the parallels being made with the Spanish flu a century ago make sense.



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October 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cannabis-Focused ETF Get Boost from Harris Comments

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

Marijuana stocks jumped Thursday, sending the ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund up as much as 6% after U.S. Senator Kamala Harris made a strong statement about the prospects for legalization in Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate. “We will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana,” Harris said. Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Ken Shea said he saw no other news to account for the broad-based rally. “Maybe her comment served as a reminder to the market, and the prospects of a democratic president and/or sweep seems increasingly possible, based on polling trends,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Four years ago there was a lot of momentum behind the cannabis movement. Money was flowing in, partnerships with established drinks and tobacco companies were flourishing and the market was awash with start-ups.

Donald Trump’s electoral success and his ambivalence towards legalisation resulted in a significant rationalisation for the cannabis sector. The market suddenly looked smaller, the challenge of banking, transportation across state lines and the battles for market share took chunks out of growth forecasts.  Many stocks went bust and even the largest experienced deep declines.



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October 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Challenge in Valuing Gold

Thanks to a subscriber for this well-illustrated report from Gavekal which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Yet, in periods when both budget deficits and monetary aggregates have rapidly grown, gold has historically outperformed—and it is doing so now. At such times, gold also adds diversification benefits to portfolios.

Over the past few years, we have argued in numerous pieces that gold has started a bull run. And once they start, gold bull markets tend to run until either the US dollar strengthens meaningfully, and/or the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy. Right now, neither of these two outcomes is likely. Hence, the gold bull market looks set to continue.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The Dollar declined in a meaningful manner as soon as combined monetary and fiscal stimulus kicked off in March. It staged a modest rebound in September when doubt arose about the persistence of the fiscal portion of that program.



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October 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Road Ahead

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

In fact, China is responding to these changes in corporate behavior using a variety of techniques, including becoming a larger and more powerful domestic economy that relies on its own production (what President Xi Jinping calls “domestic circulation”). In the current environment China may also better leverage its higher interest rate curve (both real and nominal) to try to attract capital to support this more permanent shift towards a consumption economy. A more stable currency outlook is also helping. Our bottom line: Expect a heightened rivalry across multiple facets of the relationship, including some decoupling. However, given the absolute size of the opportunity in China, now is actually the time to think through different ways to harness China’s growth in thoughtful, risk-adjusted fashion, particularly investments that reward long-term, patient capital. Specifically, we think that further implementation of domestic circulation as a policy will lead to the rise of more domestic corporate leaders, and as a result, more – not less – corporations will look to find ways to serve this emerging consumption base.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s golden week ends today and the market opens back up tomorrow. Over the last month there have been significant announcements about investments in infrastructure, boosting the consumer economy and championing the green energy movement. These points all likely to become actionable in the 4th quarter.



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October 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In the Bit We Trust: It's Time to Put Juniors to Work!

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

Notwithstanding the volatility of the equity markets and commodity price projections, the fundamental paradigm continued under investment in the mining sector over the last decade remains an overriding factor that clouds the industry’s supply side outlook. This factor is particularly topical given the cash being generated by the sector due to better operational stewardship and as of recent, elevated commodity prices. However, the simple fact remains that discoveries supporting industry performance are made through the drill bit, and fundamentally require the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ facilitated by the junior exploration segment. As a result, we look for continued investor interest in the precious metals equities, including the junior exploration and development space, as investment capital filters downstream into higher risk opportunities supported by a renewed interest in grassroots exploration programs, further top-down industry consolidation, and the development of new projects to support the longer-term production pipelines of larger industry participants.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many of the world’s most prolific gold producing countries are very well explored. That means just about all visible surface mineralisation has already been located. What is much less well understood is how much gold is available to be found below the ground.



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October 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Drops in Wake of Stimulus Uncertainty and OPEC Supply Fears

This article by Andres Guerra Luz and Alex Longley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Oil slid to a two-week low as conflicting signals over the prospect of U.S. fiscal relief added to concerns over rising supply from major global producers.

Futures in New York tumbled as much as 6.5% on Thursday as the dollar moved off session lows. The U.S. benchmark fell below its 100-day moving average and if futures close below the key technical level, it will signal further selling pressure ahead.

Chances for a much needed boost for demand remains uncertain, with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying there are still major differences to be bridged in the negotiations over a fiscal stimulus package. Meanwhile, investors are also concerned with the unexpected return of Libyan output and higher oil exports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Russian exports are also expected to increase.

Eoin Treacy's view -

$40 is not a high enough price to cover the costs of most oil producing nations. The ensures many OPEC members will continue to cheat on production goals and countries outside OPEC have an incentive to pump as much as possible too.



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October 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on palladium's outperformance

Dear Eoin, many thanks for the excellent commentary on these "interesting times"! is there a reason why Palladium seems to be trading better than Gold or Silver at the moment? Many thanks, A

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. Palladium is mostly produced as a byproduct of nickel and platinum mining. That means Russia and South Africa are the primary producers.



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September 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The new gold rush: western investors offset soft eastern demand

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

Popley Eternal, a jewellery megastore in a busy neighbourhood of India’s financial capital Mumbai that has traded for nearly 100 years, typically caters to the bustle of customers shopping for gold necklaces and earrings ahead of weddings and festivals. Items start at around Rs50,000 ($680).

But footfall has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels since the shop reopened in June after the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown was lifted. The three-month lockdown brought virtually all economic activity to a halt. Suraj Popley, the owner, says the company has cut its staff by around a quarter to 20, with sales so low that any item sold in the current environment is considered a “bonus”.

Indian consumers hurt by the economic fallout are opting instead to sell their family jewels or borrowing against the precious metal to make the most of high global prices. “People are coming to sell gold, in case they require cash, in case they require liquidity,” he says. “Very few people are coming to buy.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The number of weddings that were delayed because of the coronavirus is likely to have been substantial and that represents a loss of significant source of demand for the global gold market. Rather than focus on the loss of consumer demand in the short-term, it probably suggests there will be a glut of marriages next year. After all, once people decide to marry, they are more likely than not to follow through, albeit with a delay.



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September 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on what a vaccine will mean for gold

In your opinion, will the introduction of a vaccine(s) be a headwind for the precious metals?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. The global economy has experienced a significant shock and millions of people are out of work. The primary way I view the effect of the coronavirus on the economy is as an accelerant. It took trends that have been in evidence for a while and exaggerated them. At the same time, it introduced new challenges which require new solutions.



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September 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

September 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on how best to buy precious metals:

Hello Eoin, I suggest that in today’s video you specify how close in terms of price and timing you believe we are away from the optimal opportunity to buy (again) gold, silver and miners. Thank you! All the best.

And

Eoin, is there any particular reason why your most recent trades have fallen off of the daily commentary? Until very recently we were able to keep track of your last trades, even if some were a little dated. This has stopped now, and don't know whether it's an error or change in tack.

On precious metals, you exited Gold and Silver but stuck with the underlying stocks which are being heavily sold off today after an already bruising month (I am involved in them too). What is the rationale for that knowing the stocks are leveraged plays on the metals? Finally, at which point do you intend to step back into Gold and Silver with Silver already having sold off by nearly 30% from the peak at 30 dollars.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the most important attributes to understand about trading gold is its volatility. It tends to overshoot on both the upside and downside. That leads to a very emotional response from traders and investors. As prices rise, they become conditioned to expect the trend to continue and accelerate purchases. However, when prices decline, faith is tested and the overly aggressive purchase program is demonstrated to have been incorrect. That leads to a lot of questioning and doubt creeping in.



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September 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Eoin's personal portfolio: last updated on August 11th

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the most commonly asked questions by subscribers is how to find details of my open traders. In an effort to make it easier I will simply repost the latest summary daily until there is a change. I'll change the title to the date of publication of new details so you will know when the information was provided.



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September 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Officials Warn of Economic Risks in New Plea for Fiscal Help

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

Federal Reserve policy makers on Wednesday highlighted the importance of fiscal stimulus for an economic recovery that recently has outperformed forecasts. Chairman Jerome Powell continued to wave the fiscal flag carefully at a congressional hearing -- amid a political stalemate over a new package -- saying that more support was likely to be necessary. Others were more full-throated, with Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester saying it was very much needed given the “deep hole” the economy is climbing out of.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans expressed concern the stimulus he penciled in won’t be forthcoming, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren suggested it’ll take another wave of infections to prompt action, and likely not until next year.

Declines in the stock market, until recently attributed to a reversal of excessive tech-share gains, have increasingly been attributed in part to worries about the recovery and the need for more stimulus. The S&P 500 Index was down 1.7% as of 2:22 p.m. in New York, the fifth drop in six days.

“The most difficult part of the recovery is still ahead of us,” Rosengren said in remarks Wednesday, saying he was more pessimistic than his colleagues over how many Americans will return to work over the next 15 months.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The impending bitter dispute between the Democrats and Republicans about the latter’s determination to approve a new supreme court justice before the election has pretty much shelved any hope of additional stimulus before the election. Add to that the real potential that an election result may not be immediately available and the timeline for when an additional fiscal stimulus will be agreed gets pushed further out.



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September 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the traditional portfolios and investment trusts

I have a couple of questions for Mr. Treacy which I would be most grateful if he could answer:

1) Traditional portfolios have managed risk by allocating % to stocks and bonds. The closer to retirement someone is and presumably more risk averse one allocated proportionally more to bonds. Given that interest rates are at historical lows is this formula still appropriate? Should we look at allocation to gold instead of bonds? Thank you

2) Earlier this year Mr. Treacy shared the performance, dividend yields and length of time these dividend yields have been awarded for key Investment Trusts. I would be grateful (and perhaps other investors as well) if he could share growth performance, dividends and chargers of key ETFs. Thank you.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for these questions which may be of interest to the Collective. The rationale for investing in bonds as a stabilising force in a portfolio is a lot more difficult to justify when interest rates are zero. One comforting factor is the inverse correlation between the assets has been sustained over the last few months.



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September 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiscal Cliff + Peak Fed = Second Leg of Correction

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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September 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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September 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australia Unemployment Drops as Half of Jobs Lost Recovered

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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September 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bull Case for Chinese Commodities Enhanced by Stronger Yuan

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

Elsewhere, Shanghai is taking steps to promote hydrogen vehicles, with a plan to get 10,000 cars on the road by 2023. Just this week, Sinopec has flagged its intention to include hydrogen in retail fuel stations, while top vehicle-maker SAIC Motor said it’s accelerating its push into the alternative energy source.

And also in the news, Cargill has bought a new soy-processing plant in China as the nation’s pig herd recovers from the ravages of swine fever. Hog numbers expanded for the seventh consecutive month in August, signaling growing confidence among breeders, according to the farm ministry.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hydrogen is the market which has long been promised but never really made it into commercial reality. The question today is whether all the good will in terms of investment in renewables and technological innovation can translate into reducing the cost of production to economic levels. The low price of natural gas is a big enabler but the green lobby won’t be happy until the process is fossil fuel free.

This report from Jeffries may be of interest. Here is a section:
 



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September 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Industrials Conference: Strategy Sector Views + Analyst Stock Picks

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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September 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Age of Disorder

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Jim Reid from Deutsche bank. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The fall of the Iron Curtain and ensuing spread of liberalism greatly enhanced the argument for globalisation and offshoring. The process lifted billions out of abject poverty and into the middle classes. Unfortunately, it also had a levelising effect which robbed lower middle class, less educated people in developed markets of their likelihoods.

The low-end service jobs that replaced manufacturing and mining do not offer the same compensation. That has hollowed out the middle class in much of the developed world. More reliance on social services and debt accumulation papered over some of the cracks but the credit crisis, housing busts and austerity have contributed to the rise of populism. That is a global phenomenon and is at its root a rebellion against the status quo.



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September 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hog Disease in Germany Means a Boost for Battered U.S. Farmers

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

The U.S. hog market had crashed in March, first as restaurants in the U.S. closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and then as workers at meat plants started catching Covid-19. Absent employees and companies taking safety precautions forced pork plants to shut down, resulting in a nearly 40% reduction in output of the meat by early May.

Hog farmers left without a market euthanized animals and adjusted feed rations to slow the rate of weight gain in herds. While there is no official count of how many hogs were culled, CoBank estimated as many as 7 million. Now, months after plants reopened, pork plants were bidding up prices to buy hogs from farmers, even before the news out of Germany.

“We had all of that liquidation taking place and no one ever quantified that,” Dan Norcini, independent hog trader in Idaho, said by phone. “I’m starting to wonder if the impact of the liquidation is being felt and then the German news came, and it was like a one-two punch.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

2020 will probably be remembered as a year of plagues. Early this year there was the plague of locusts making its way across northeast Africa, India and China. Then we had the swine flu which ravaged herds in China, Next, the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the global economy for the first time ever. Fires have also been making headlines in Australia, Brazil and more recently in the USA. This year has lumped a decade’s worth of volatility inducing events into only a few months so it is reasonable to question whether this volatility will lead to short or long-term trend changes.



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September 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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September 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Desert Mountain Energy Announces Significant Helium Percentages in Two New Wells In Arizona

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

Based on normal accepted industry operation procedures, the company at this time and prior to further engineering and flow testing, would entertain a possible daily flow rate of between 4,100 and 5,600 MCFGPD based on aggregated production from both wells. The Company has compared these wells to the closest established and documented helium production located approximately 35 miles NE in the Pinta Dome Field.  Note: Desert Mountain Energy’s wells have been completed in members of the Pennsylvanian-aged Formations which are lower in depth than the helium productive Permian-aged Coconino Formation found at Pinta Dome (AZOGCC archives).  Production comparisons with a number of wells from the prolific Pinta Dome Field, specifically the Kerr-McGee Barfoot State#1, clearly shows that large artificial formation stimulation was not required to exceed the original projected calculated reserves by over 500%, over a 13-year production life (Olukoga 2016, AZOGCC Barfoot #1 well files).

Eoin Treacy's view -

There have been a number of articles over the last couple of years about the lack of new supply for helium, against a background of continued strong demand growth. Here is a link to an article from Forbes, dated April 2019, making a number of points about supply inelasticity meets rising demand. 



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September 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Margin trumps ounces as gold miners shine despite COVID-19

Thanks to a couple of different subscribers for this note from BakerSteel 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. 

Value propositions have not been popular among investors who have had the pleasure of instant gratification in growth stocks for much of the last decade. A catalyst is required to spur interest and that is being delivered in the form of anxiety about the ramifications of the response to the coronavirus.



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September 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold glitters, but other raw materials sparkle too

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bank of America Securities. Here is a section on aluminium: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Considering the depth of the pullback on Wall Street yesterday and in the initial weakness today it would have been reasonable to expect a more pronounced impact on industrial resources today. In fact, the sector shrugged off tech sector volatility and a number of the industrial resources closed higher in a dynamic fashion.



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September 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Can Easily Cut Off More of Australia's Commodities Exports

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

Iron Ore
While the state-linked Global Times earlier this year raised the possibility that Australian iron ore supply could be targeted, it’s likely to be low on the list of possibilities. The country dominates China’s iron ore supply, accounting for more than 60% of its imports, with next-biggest supplier Brazil making up less than 20% so far this year.​

In fact, the trade is booming, with China importing a record amount of Australian iron ore in July. Still, investors will keep a close eye on any sign of tensions spilling over as even small moves to restrict the movement of Australia’s most valuable commodity -- worth about A$100 billion this fiscal year -- would send a powerful signal.

LNG
Australia has accounted for just less than half of China’s liquefied natural gas imports this year. The proportion has grown in recent years as new Australian projects came online, including two in Queensland in which Chinese oil majors are partners.

Those partnerships, along with long-term contracts that obligate Chinese buyers to purchase millions of tons of LNG a year from Australia well into the 2030s, make the trade flow a
more complicated candidate for disruption.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s demand for commodities is likely to remain robust for the foreseeable future but that will not deter the administration from using resources as a bargaining chip in trade talks. The reality, however, is rising living standards create demand growth for products and services. If China is going to succeed in its aims of creating a modestly wealthy society for its billion plus people that is going to entail continued imports. Obviously, it is more dependent on imports for some commodities than others.



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September 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater's Risk-Parity Shift Jolts a $400 Billion Quant Trade

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

“It is pretty obvious that with interest rates near zero and being held stable by central banks, bonds can provide neither returns nor risk reduction,” a team led by Co-Chief Investment Officer Bob Prince wrote in the July report.

Bridgewater’s famous All Weather portfolio has therefore been moving into gold and inflation-linked bonds, diversifying the countries it invests in and finding more stocks with stable cash flow.

The idea is to replicate the long-term positive returns typically generated by bonds while finding alternative ways to hedge a downturn in stocks, especially if higher inflation upends low-yielding nominal debt.

Risky Business
Bridgewater’s conviction that ultra-low yields are a game-changer for risk parity will resonate with many on Wall Street, who have also been fretting over the fate of traditional portfolios that allocate 60% to stocks and 40% to bonds.

According to the firm, about 80% of local-currency government bonds have been trading below 1%, which limits the room for such notes to rise in value during a bout of risk aversion since investors can simply hoard cash instead. That, combined with the potential for losses if yields jump from record lows, means that the world of government debt is potentially losing its function as a safety valve in portfolios.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Risk Parity is based on the correlation between rising stock prices and rising bond yields. The logic is that when investors are worried about stock market returns, they park excess cash in bonds. Over the years multiple strategies have evolved to size positions according to this correlation.



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September 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on uranium pricing

Your ticker UXA1 COMB Comdty has not refreshed for a few days. Could you please look into this? Thanks

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. Here is the response I received from Bloomberg because it was not updating on their system either.

“There is no open interest on the current active contract, UXAU0 Comdty. The exchange only provides a daily settle price if there is open interest. Once there is a trade for the September contract, it will have open interest, and it will receive a daily settlement price.”

Reliable uranium pricing data is difficult to find. The 4th month continuation contract traded two contracts in September so far. I’m not going to change the ticker to address this because it would mess with the back history. The original uranium price ticker from Metals Bulletin, which had history back to 1996, stopped updating in 2017. That’s when I introduced the futures traded price. No other measure is reliable or up to date either because it is an extremely illiquid market.



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September 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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September 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What to Watch in Commodities: Buffett, OPEC, Gold, Fed, La Nina

This article by Grant Smith, Anatoly Medetsky and Stephen Stapczynski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Less than a month after making waves with news of a move into Barrick Gold Corp., Buffett is again rocking the world of commodities. This time, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed stakes in five Japanese trading companies that dominate the nation’s energy and raw materials industries. The quintet are Itochu Corp., Marubeni Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo Corp.

Berkshire’s stakes amount to a little more than 5%, but Buffett made clear that they could be increased. The trading houses are known as “sogo shosha” and have roots dating back hundreds of years. While they operate in areas like textiles and machinery, they derive much of their revenue from energy, metals and other commodities, supplying resource-poor Japan with essentials.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Following the commodity bust many investment banks closed trading desks. There were a number of leading commodity trading houses which went through very lean years and even today Noble Group is struggling to get out of bankruptcy. Many of the big commodity traders like Trafigura, Mercator, Cargill and Koch Industries are privately held. Picking up Japan’s big trading houses is a tangential way of playing in commodities for Berkshire Hathaway. It also speaks to the company’s familiarity with pricing the balance sheets of banks rather than commodity producers.



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August 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. soy rises for 5th day; profit taking pressures corn, wheat

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

“The lack of rain in August - plus extended heat - clipped the top end of soybean production for many areas,” Bob Linneman, broker at Kluis Commodity Advisors said in a research note. “There are many operations that watched a potentially record crop turn to a hopeful average crop.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The agriculture sector has been plagued by uncertainty over the last few years. Record crops, trade wars, currency devaluations and weather events have conspired to create a great deal of uncertainty. None of that has succeeded in lifting prices for more than a few weeks at a time. I wonder if this time is different.



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August 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

No One Wants to Buy Ships as Virus, IMO Rules Hit Demand Hard

This article by Krystal Chia and Annie Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to Subscriber’s Area. Here is a section:

Shipowners are also lacking the finances to make purchases, according to Ralph Leszczynski, head of research at shipbroker Banchero Costa & Co.

“Most shipping markets are coming from a relatively poor decade, 2009 to 2019, in terms of earnings so most shipowners do not have that much cash in their pockets,” he said. “External finance is also in short supply as banks are now largely steering clear off shipping after the defaults they suffered after 2008.”

Still, fewer orders and slower fleet growth will likely bolster shipping rates. Lines are likely to continue to keep capacity in check into 2021 to minimize the impact from slowing global trade, said IHS Markit’s Kapoor.

That’s already translating to increasing costs for transporting goods by ocean liner, with one benchmark of trans-Pacific container rates more than doubling since late-May to a record. Bulk-carrier costs have also rebounded from a four-year low. Maersk, which idled about 20% of its capacity in April before gradually reinstating it in subsequent months, saw earnings beat estimates in part due to improved freight rates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When new regulation imposes new costs that are greater than the value of the original asset it raises important questions about the sustainability of businesses. Installing new engines in new ships is an ideal solution but its expensive. Meanwhile the lesser of two evils are scrubbers to the emissions but these often exceed the value of older ships. This is a recipe for a loss of supply from the global shipping fleet.



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August 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Executive insights from the CEOs of AEM and WPM

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bank of American/Merrill Lynch 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.

Royalty streamers offer a solution to the age-old question of how to buy gold at a discount. That of course depends on a willingness and ability to buy when no one else is interested. Whatever about the success of companies in capturing streaming rights over the last few years, the window for closing on new ones is swiftly closing. Miners know they have in-demand assets and there have been an increasing number of stories about private placements being oversubscribed by multiples of the desired amount. That suggests prices for shovel ready projects are rising quickly as investors adapt to the new bull market environment.



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August 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on risk appetites and the value of a subscription.

I am a pre-subscriber (financial constraints, exacerbated since Covid-19, make it impossible for me to become a full subscriber, I'm afraid, so I may not qualify for a reply. But David did reply to me on more than one occasion;  he was always so kind, and is greatly missed).

I remember your being on the panel at a money show in the conference centre in Westminster Square (I forget the name - possible Westminster Conference Centre) - it must have been about 2009 because I remember asking a question as to whether there were any "good" banks left that might be worth investing in.
  
Anyhow, in response to a question from another attendee about companies drilling for water in Australia, (or possibly into wind power or solar or even lithium miners (if it wasn't too early) - I forget exactly which), I remember you replying that you never favoured chasing these early-stage stories, and in general you have been proved right since.   

I still tend to class hydrogen fuel and battery power for vehicles in the same category, but perhaps you feel that times have changed sufficiently now?    Since I am only a pre-subscriber, and not able to read the full article, I appreciate that you may have said more on this there, or in previous Comments of the Day.
    
It seems to me that since hydrogen when mixed with oxygen is a very explosive mix (although this could also be said to a lesser extent of petrol vapour, I suppose), it would only take one careless mistake or faulty construction to cause a serious explosion.   But perhaps the design features are so tight that this would be impossible.   

At least I would trust an electric vehicle more than a self-driving one! In fact, I am a bit nervous by nature. I would never trust a Toyota now, after that stuck accelerator pedal caused a fatality. What the last minutes of those poor occupants were like I cannot face thinking about.

Whether it is possible to reply to this or not, many thanks Eoin for the comments that I am able to read daily. They give a very sane and reassuring perspective, especially in these difficult times.

Eoin Treacy's view -

David always saw value in conducting a public discourse with subscribers because it helped to educate us as much as the Collective. It also ensures we are covering topics of interest. I agree and one of the things I enjoy most is attempting to provide satisfactory answers to subscriber’ queries. However, as someone who has been familiar with the Service for at least 11 years, might I suggest you at least take a trial subscription?

If that is too much of a financial constraint it may be time to reassess your investment/trading ambitions. Investing involves a degree of risk. If you are uncomfortable with driving a Prius because of a fault corrected more than a decade ago, it might be time to conclude investing is not for you.

The response to this email continues in the Subscriber's Area. 



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August 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gresham House Global Timber Outlook

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

Once countries have basic housing for the poor and an urban economy has installed the infrastructure to begin to grow, there is an increase in wealth, GDP and income per capita. This allows for a move from public housing to suburbanise into single unit family homes, something witnessed in many developed economies across the world. In the UK, the overall number of ‘housing starts’ has stayed largely flat since the 1970s, but the housing mix has changed from public to private homes. At the same time, timber consumption has increased as, on average, a single-family suburban home uses around three times the timber of a multi-family unit.

And

The result is that even when total new housing starts begin to level off, timber consumption increases again in the mature stage of an economy, leading to a third wave of timber construction. Not only is more timber used in single unit homes, the home improvements sector becomes a significant additional source of timber demand. In the US and developed world it contributes circa 35% of all consumption by the construction industry.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for timber consumption in the medium-term is whether the trend of migration from cities to the suburbs will continue post COVID-19. The desire to exit population dense regions during the pandemic was understandable and not least because of the widespread public disobedience that characterised the lockdowns. The big question is whether that migration will be sticky. We do not yet know how long people will be happy working from home or whether they will miss the buzz of the city.



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August 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on trading precious metals

According to other technical trading sites GOLD is a strong SELL and Silver is a BUY @ today's prices. You haven't mentioned Silver or Platinum for a number of days. I am tempted to start getting back into Silver ...... Keep up the good work,

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this insightful email. If all we did was look at short-term trading indicators, there would be no way to get a big picture perspective. I am very hesitant to ever short in a secular bull market. There will be times when taking a partial profit is opportune but the best way to play a big bull market is to be willing to buy on occasional bouts of weakness.



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August 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Miners Jump With Berkshire's Barrick Bet Fueling Outlook

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

Barrick Gold Corp. advanced the most since March, leading a surge in precious-metals miners after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. added the company to its portfolio.

Barrick, the world’s second-largest miner of the metal, jumped as much as 12% and a Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of senior gold miners climbed after Berkshire on Friday reported a purchase of 20.9 million shares as of the end of the second quarter. Colorado-based Newmont Corp., the largest producer, also gained Monday, along with Kinross Gold Corp. and Harmony Gold Mining Co.

Gold miners are benefiting as near-record bullion prices boost profit margins and help them lure back generalists who fled the sector years ago. In the past, Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire, cautioned against investing in the metal because it’s not productive like a farm or a company. The filing shows moves made by Buffett or his two investing deputies, Todd Combs or Ted Weschler.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

When the world’s most storied value/quality investor dumps banks and buys a gold miner it might not make a big difference to Berkshire’s bottom line but it sends an important message about where the company see’s opportunity. Investment in new greenfield mines has not been attractive for much of the last decade. Meanwhile demand is rising for a growing number of reasons, not the explosion in the supply of debt and competitive currency devaluation. That’s a recipe for a bull market.



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August 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum Quarterly Presentation Q1 2020

This report carries a great deal of relevant information for the platinum market. Here is a section:

Automotive demand down only 17% (-132 koz) YoY despite a 24% fall in Q1 light global vehicle sales

Tightening global emissions standards, driving higher pgm loadings, partially counters lower auto sales/production

W. Europe diesel share decline slowed on increased diesel sales

Diesel vehicles still key for automakers to avoid or reduce heavy CO2 fines

German diesel car market share continued to recover (Q1’20 average 35%, up 1.3% over 2019 average)

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

It’s easy to think that diesel is a dead fuel but sales still continue. The damage to consumer confidence may, however, be impossible to overcome. That is creating a new market for transportation alternatives. 



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August 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on stops and my personal portfolio:

Why did you not share the fact that you had stop losses at USD 2,000 for gold and USD 27.50 for silver? I consider this just as important as sharing the information on the purchase and sale of your positions. Especially in light of the fact that your mantra has been for a long time that PMs are "potentially due for a consolidation" which leaves your subscribers pretty much in the dark of how you intend to act if and when the "potential consolidation" sets in and what in your personal view is the right way of (re-)acting. Sharing only ex-post the information that you actually had stop losses in place AFTER they are executed feels more like " adding insult to injury".

And

I wondered whether you can communicate in earlier fashion to your subscribers when you are trading. You don’t trade often, but with high conviction when you do. After seemingly having high conviction in a potential decade long bull market in Gold, I was a little surprised to learn you’d had a tight stop on your Gold position, this exiting at $2,000. Only the day before you were talking about Gold having lots of room to consolidate. With the decline moving through $1,900 temporarily at least, it seems you were right to sell, but I wonder how we as investors can access that critical data point in more real time. By the time we learned of it this morning, Gold had already moved through $1,900. Similarly, Silver experienced the same sort of fall, only steeper given its more volatile nature.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both these emails which offer me an opportunity to clarify some points both with the provision of my personal portfolio trades and my approach to profiting from the unfolding bull market in precious metals.

My personal portfolio is provided as a public service not as a model portfolio or as a recommendation for what you should do. Inevitably some subscribers will follow my trades but these are not recommendations. In fact, we have never made recommendations because who would they be for? The reality is subscribers come from all walks of life and financial means; ranging from private individuals right up to sovereign wealth funds. Advice for one person would in no way be appropriate for another.



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August 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on returning customers

Dear Eoin and team, I would like to thank you very much for the big difference you have made to my confidence in advising my clients, since I re-joined the service. If only I could find a way of explaining the benefit to my professional contacts! All the very best

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and welcome back. The one thing I would highlight for prospective subscribers is that in the evolving global tapestry of events, some big picture perspective is likely to be beneficial.



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August 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Time for Thinking

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

The first is that many investors have underestimated the impact of low rates on valuations.  In short, what should the stock market yield?  Not its dividend yield, but its earnings yield: the ratio of earnings to price (that is, p/e inverted).  Simplistically, when Treasurys yield less than 1% and you add in the traditional equity premium, perhaps the earnings yield should be 4%.  That yield of 4/100 suggests a p/e ratio (the inverse) of 100/4, or 25.  Thus the S&P 500 shouldn’t trade at its traditional 16 times earnings, but roughly 50% higher.

Even that, it’s said, understates the case, because it ignores the fact that companies’ earnings grow, while bond interest doesn’t.  Thus the demanded return on stocks shouldn’t be (bond yield + equity premium) as suggested above, but rather (bond yield + equity premium - growth).  If the earnings on the S&P 500 will grow to eternity at 2% per year, for example, the right earnings yield isn’t 4%, but 2% (for a p/e ratio of 50).  And, mathematically, for a company whose growth rate exceeds the sum of the bond yield and the equity premium, the right p/e ratio is infinity.  On that basis, stocks may have a long way to go.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The removal of the discount rate, as a basis for valuing cashflows has an outsized effect on all income producing assets. That implies the persistent threat of deflation which allowed long-bond yields to compress to historically low levels globally will persist indefinitely.



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August 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum Giant South Africa Forced by Virus to Look Into Abyss

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

In June, Implats balked at investing about 12 billion rand ($680 million) on building a new mine at Waterberg on the northern limb of the platinum belt. The outlook doesn’t support such spending over the next decade, said spokesman Theron. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. has delayed a decision until the second half of next year on whether to spend as much as $1.5 billion on expanding output at its key Mogalakwena mine.

Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. said it’s still evaluating finance for its new Platreef project, which could require about $1.5 billion of investment. Still, notwithstanding the investment hiatus, the platinum sector remains in better shape than South Africa’s gold industry. Even without further spending, some deep-level mines have a 30-year lifespan, according to James Wellsted, a
spokesman for Sibanye Stillwater Ltd., the world’s No. 1 platinum miner.

Still, investment decisions are complicated because of an uncertain regulatory and policy environment, among other challenges, Wellsted said.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The price of any commodity is dictated by the actions of buyers at the margin. The biggest event to hit the sector in the last decade was the demise of the “clean” diesel market. That removed a major source of demand and the price collapsed to unimaginably low levels relative to the other precious metals. A number of platinum miners went bust because they were in no way prepared for the collapse in prices.



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