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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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August 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold demand divergence

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

I have a lot of sympathy with Charlie Morris’ view that gold is best considered a zero- coupon perpetual bond. The strong inverse correlation between inflation-protected bond yields and the gold price suggest investors are increasingly of the same opinion.



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August 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hearts of Glass

This edition of Tim Price’s letter for Price Value Partners may of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

God only knows what the historians of the future will make of 2020. A global flu panic that results in countries shutting down entire economies sounds like the pinnacle of craziness – until you discover that Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries was periodically prone to something called the ‘glass delusion’, in which sufferers believed that they were made of glass and at risk of shattering into pieces. The French King Charles VI was one of the higher profile victims of the illness, and he would reportedly wrap himself in blankets to prevent his buttocks from breaking. Because human nature never really changes, we choose to allocate to uncorrelated investment vehicles known as systematic trend-followers, which make no attempt to predict the future, or to avoid seeming overvaluation, but which are simply content to ride such price trends as appear from time to time, both up and down, courtesy of the interests and enthusiasms of the mob.

We also allocate, at present, to precious metals-related companies, provided we can secure robust cash flows in the process from businesses trading on comparatively modest earnings multiples, and with little or no debt. As George Bernard Shaw once remarked,

“You have to choose (as a voter) between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Those gentlemen in government are primed to issue a vast quantity of debt. And why wouldn’t they? Interest rates are at historic lows and investors seem willing to invest in anything with a promise of a cashflow. The US Treasury is now stretching the maturity of outstanding debt which raises some important questions. 



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August 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold ETFs Top German Holdings to Become World's No. 2 Stash

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

Investors are so concerned about the global outlook that worldwide holdings in gold-backed exchange-traded funds now stand behind only the official U.S. reserves of bullion after they surpassed Germany’s holdings.

Gold has rallied to a record this year as the coronavirus pandemic savaged growth, with gains supported by massive inflows into bullion-backed ETFs. Bulls are fearful that the waves of stimulus to fight the slowdown may debase paper currencies and ignite inflation. They also point to simmering geopolitical tensions, rising government debt burdens, and lofty equity valuations.

Worldwide holdings in gold-backed ETFs rose to 3,365.6 tons on Monday, up 30.5% this year, according to preliminary data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s a couple of tons ahead of Germany’s stash. U.S. reserves exceed 8,000 tons.

Even after futures topped $2,000 an ounce, there are plenty of forecasts for further, substantial gains. Among them, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says gold may climb to $2,300 as investors are “in search of a new reserve currency,” while RBC Capital Markets puts the odds of a rally to $3,000 at 40%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China and India have historically been the biggest consumers of gold. However, prices are set by the marginal buyer. Right now, that is investment demand from ETFs which has jumped by more than 50% in the last 12 months. This is a totally fresh phenomenon. ETFs did not exist in prior cycles so it was impossible to estimate how much gold was owned by investors. It is reasonable to conclude that before this bull market has climaxed ETF holding will be the largest gold stockpile in the world.



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August 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

NZ to trial world-first commercial long range, wireless power transmission

This article by Loz Blain for newatlas.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Emrod currently has a working prototype of its device, but will build another for Powerco, with plans to deliver by October, then spend several months in lab testing before moving to a field trial. The prototype device will be capable of delivering "only a few kilowatts" of power, but can easily be scaled up. "We can use the exact same technology to transmit 100 times more power over much longer distances," said Emrod founder and serial entrepreneur Greg Kushnir. "Wireless systems using Emrod technology can transmit any amount of power current wired solutions transmit."

The system uses a transmitting antenna, a series of relays and a receiving rectenna (a rectifying antenna capable of converting microwave energy into electricity). Each of these components appear in these images to simply look like big ol' squares on poles. Its beams use the non-ionizing Industrial, Scientific and Medical band of the radio spectrum, including frequencies commonly used in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Unlike Tesla's globally-accessible free power dream, the power here is beamed directly between specific points, with no radiation around the beam, and a "low power laser safety curtain" immediately shuts down power transmission before any object, like a bird, drone, power thief or helicopter, can touch the main beam. There will be no difficulties this time working out where to place the meter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The potential for wireless power transmission is a significant potential gamechanger for the energy sector because it represents an elegant solution to the question of how to connect very remote generating locations to points of consumption. While still in its infancy this is exactly the kind of technology that would benefit from venture funding and could succeed in boosting productivity.



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July 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Robusta Coffee Heads for Biggest Monthly Gain in a Decade

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

Robusta coffee futures have surged about 16% in London this month, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since June 2010 amid a shift toward home coffee consumption. Worldwide lockdowns that shuttered cafes, restaurants and offices have supported demand for robusta beans, typically favored to brew instant coffee at homes.

“Nestle results provide confirmation at-home sales is doing very well,” said Carlos Mera, an analyst at Rabobank in London. “It was priced in to some extent, based on IRI data from the U.S., but this is more global.”

Robusta spreads have firmed up and its certified stockpiles have fallen to the lowest since the start of last year. Speculators covering their negative positions has also helped prices rally in recent weeks. Smaller robusta crops expected in Brazil and Vietnam in the 2020-21 season are also bullish for prices, Rabobank said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’ve been working from home for 13 years and even I am drinking more coffee than normal lately. Many people have probably discovered that with the help of capsules of home espresso machines it is possible to get better tasting coffee than what is available from Starbucks. Arguably, that wouldn’t be difficult.



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July 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Three Gorges Dam deformed but safe, say operators

This article by Frank Chen for AsiaTimes.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The deformation occurred last Saturday when the flood from western provinces including Sichuan and Chongqing along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River peaked at a record-setting 61,000 cubic meters per second, according to China Three Gorges Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that manages the dam and the sprawling power plant underneath it.

The company noted that parts of the dam had “deformed slightly,” displacing some external structures, and seepage into the main outlet walls had also been reported throughout the 18 hours on Saturday and Sunday when water was discharged though its outlets.

But the problem of water seeping out did not last long, as the dam reportedly deployed floodgates to hold as much water as possible in its 39.3 billion-cubic-meter reservoir to shield the cities downstream from the biggest Yangtze deluge so far this year.

And

Meanwhile, Wang Hao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an authority on hydraulics who sits on the Ministry of Water Resources’ Yangtze River Administration Commission, has also assured that the dam is sound enough to withstand the impact from floods twice the mass flow rate recorded on Saturday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is still raining in southwest China and that means the dam will be letting out more water to control the level behind the wall. Therefore, it is unlikely to be able to curtail the risk of flooding downriver.



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July 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Panic Selling Grips Chinese Stocks After U.S. Tensions Worsen

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

The escalation in tensions comes at a particularly volatile time for China’s stocks, with the government taking steps to manage a debt-fueled frenzy that had pushed equities to their highest since 2015. Bullish traders have pushed leverage to an almost five-year high.

“Worries over China-U.S. relations will dominate the market,” said Raymond Chen, a portfolio manager with Keywise Capital Management (HK) Ltd. “People will be closely watching how the U.S. reacts to the closure of Chengdu consulate. I expect more panic selling in the near term.”

China’s yuan fell as much as 0.28% to 7.0238 versus the greenback, the weakest since July 8. China’s government bonds extended gains, with futures contracts on 10-year notes climbing as much as 0.36% to the highest since July 3. The yield on debt due in a decade dropped 5 basis points to 2.86%, the lowest since July 1.

Overseas investors sold 16.4 billion yuan of China stocks Friday, the most since a record 17.4 billion yuan was dumped on July 14. Turnover rose to 1.3 trillion yuan, the 17th session over the 1 trillion yuan mark.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese government has been trying its best to paper over the cracks in the economy. The boom in IPOs and the efforts to repatriate foreign listings of its tech champions are all aimed at creating a façade of capital market strength and stability. It fulfills the secondary purpose of trying to protect Hong Kong’s status as a major financial hub despite the destruction of its legal freedoms.



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July 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - gold attracting momentum traders

How far could the "Robinhooder's" distort the precious metal markets?

So far today the GDX/GDXJ do not seem to be confirming the upward movement in gold prices.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. There is a tendency among precious metals investors to expect a full bull market to unfold in a short period of time. That is because the price tends to range for lengthy periods before experiencing explosive breakouts. These tend to go faster and farther than anyone has been conditioned to expect during the range.



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July 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Is Throwing Billions at Once-Shunned Gold Miners

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

But junior miners are now starting to benefit. Take the case of American Pacific Mining Corp., an exploration and gold-mining firm with market capitalization of less than $20 million. The company raised $3 million in the second quarter, six times more than it had initially planned. Interest was so big that it had to turn away offers for more, said CEO Warwick Smith.

“The big boys play first, and then that money trickles down to the smaller companies, exploration companies,” he said. Revival Gold Inc., a Toronto-based exploration company, said Tuesday it was increasing its previously-announced public offering by C$3 million ($2.2 million) amid “strong demand” from investors. Spot gold prices rose 1.3% Tuesday to $1,841.94 an ounce, trading near the highest level in almost nine years.

The reasons that boosted the appeal of gold miners are the very same pushing investors away from companies digging for metals like copper or lithium, which are more dependent on economic growth. Base and industrial metals firms raised just $34 million in the second quarter, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. That’s a 40% decrease from the same period a year earlier.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Free cash flow became the bane of miners during the latter stages of the last gold bull market. They were borrowing money at such a prodigious rate and were so eager to build new production that any hope of profitability fell by the wayside. That contributed to significant underperformance relative to the gold price.



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July 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Out to pasture!

This is potentially Edward Ballsdon’s final post for his Grey Fire Horse blog and may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Recently there has been discussion about yield curve control (YCC), and whether the FED will introduce a new policy on managing interest rates. Do not be fooled - this is a rather large red herring, as the debt is now too large in the US (as it is in most major economies) to raise rates without the increased interest cost having a debilitating effect on annual government budget figures.

There is no longer $ 1trn of outstanding US federal Bills - in June the outstanding amount surpassed $ 5trn. If rates rise from 0.2% to 2%, the ANNUAL interest cost just on that segment of the outstanding $19trn debt would rise from ~$ 8.5bn to ~$ 102bn. Naturally you would also need to also factor in the impact of higher interest rate costs on leveraged households and corporates.

This is the red herring - the size of the debt will force monetary policy. To think that the central bank can raise rates means ignoring the consequence from the debt stock. And this is the root of my lower for longer view, which is obviously influenced from years of studying Japan, and which is now almost completely priced in to rates markets. Remember that the YCC in Japan led to a severe reduction of the BOJ buying of JGBs - it just did not have to.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Japanification of the developed world represents a massive challenge for investors in search of yield. 90% of all sovereign bonds have yields below 1% and the total of bonds with negative yields is back at $14 trillion and climbing.



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July 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Silver Futures Step Out of Gold's Shadow in Surge to 3-Year High

This article by Justina Vasquez, Krystal Chia and Ranjeetha Pakiam for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Silver is currently trading at close to a record discount to gold, which should attract demand,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note this month. “Silver often tends to lag gold at the beginning of a precious rally, and catch up to it as the rally continues and investors look for ways to diversify.”

During the week through Tuesday, hedge funds and other money managers added to their bullish bets on silver, boosting net-long positions to the highest since late February, according to government data Friday. That amounted to “a larger-than-usual” US$638 million bullish flow spurred by the trifecta of rising haven demand, recovering industrial activity, particularly in China, and South American supply disruptions, according to Societe Generale SA analysts including Michael Haigh.

Green Stimulus
Unlike gold, silver’s price is largely driven by a host of manufacturing applications. Morgan Stanley estimated that industrial demand makes up 85 per cent of silver demand. The metal may be poised to benefit from a push toward less-polluting energy technologies such as solar power, according to BMO Capital Markets.

With eyes on recovering industrial demand in countries including China, the world’s largest consumer of industrial commodities, some investors may be buying silver as a bet on new technology. U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden outlined a goal last week of “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035” -- a move that would require rapid acceleration in the deployment of renewable wind and solar power as well as electricity storage, while continuing to rely on emission-free nuclear power.

“Silver-intensive areas such as 5G and solar technology could well benefit from any fiscal impulse,” BMO analysts including Colin Hamilton said in a research note. “More than US$50 billion of green stimulus has been approved by governments thus far this year, over which roughly three-quarters has been in Europe. But perhaps more impactful has been the recent Biden campaign Clean Energy plan, most notably a zero-carbon power grid by 2035 which would see new wind and solar capacity built to displace thermal generation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The price of any asset is influenced by the actions of marginal buyers. Therefore, new sources of demand and limitations on supply tend to have an outsized influence on the prevailing trend. Silver is used in solar panels, electronics and communications equipment. It also has healthcare applications as an antibacterial.



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July 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Silver Strategy - Price momentum building as macro fundamentals improve

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

Physical deficits forecast in 2020 and 2021. We have updated our supply-demand forecasts for silver, which now see physical deficits in 2020 and 2021, from modest surpluses previously. This primarily reflects a stronger rebound in economic activity than we had expected and we now forecast demand in 2020 down -4% vs. -17% previously. We have also incorporated a material ETF inventory build, resulting in even larger net deficits. Our near-term supply forecasts were relatively unchanged.

Underlying industrial & commercial demand more robust. In the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Industrial Production (IP) on a period-over-period basis went to a highly negative level, driving a sharp move lower in silver prices. While we continue to assume YoY declines in global GDP and IP, we now think there could be a better outcome than previously expected, reflecting recent strength across industrial sectors in China, supportive global central bank stimulus and apparent rebounds in global PMIs. As such, our forecasts for industrial and commercial demand have improved.

Investment demand accelerating. Silver offers many of the same investment qualities as gold even with 50-55% of demand coming from industrial use. This means it is similarly attractive in the current supportive gold macro environment. Notably, physically backed silver ETF holdings have risen +140 Moz over the past 3 months and this appears to have continued to support prices in recent weeks. We now add significant ETF build into our demand forecast to reflect likely further investment interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Silver is high beta gold but it takes time for investors to get the message that a new gold bull market is in the offing. Therefore, it is quite normal for silver to underperform, often by a wide margin, until investors begin to think about how they can gain leverage to the gold price. Therefore, the return to outperformance of silver relative to gold is a significant transition in the psychological make-up of the market.



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July 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity in USD, GBP, AUD, CAD, EUR and CHF

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold is a monetary metal because it has been viewed as a store of value for millennia. The question therefore is how do we best measure its performance as a store of value? Afterall, the simply looking at its value in different currencies gives us an historical perspective but it does not illustrate how much the purchasing power of currencies has been degraded over time. In order to do that we need to create charts of gold adjusted for the purchasing power parity of various currencies.



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July 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aphria-Aurora Combo Would Post Over C$1 Billion in Sales

This note by Michael Bellusci for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.

A combined Aphria and Aurora Cannabis entity would suggest a company with over C$1 billion in sales in 2021, with over C$600 million in net cannabis sales, Stifel analyst W. Andrew Carter wrote in note.
 

* Stifel says “headset market share data suggests” a combination would produce a leader in Canada’s adult-use market, with 30% share
* Stifel questions whether a potential deal would garner regulatory scrutiny
* Separately, Scotiabank analyst Adam Buckham wrote in note a potential deal makes sense
** Positives for Aurora holders would be annual cost savings and improved credit position
** Could spark pot sector M&A
* Aurora shares in Toronto rose as much as 6.3% intraday; Aphria rose 7.7%
* NOTE: Earlier, Aurora-Aphria Merger Talks Are Not Just Smoke: React (BI)
* NOTE: July 14, Aphria and Aurora Explored Merger, Talks Failed: BNN Bloomberg

Eoin Treacy's view -

The legalisation of cannabis in Canada was a buy the rumour, sell the news phenomenon. The prices of related shares surged ahead of the transition but did not improve on that performance subsequently and have since declined meaningfully.



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July 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Equities & The Rise of Inflation: How Much Inflation Before Repression?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Russell Napier 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. 

Governments are engaged in a massive nationalization of private assets. Whether its buying sovereign, corporate or mortgage bonds, equities, repos and commercial paper it all represents an accumulation of private assets. Indirectly, property taxes and rising payments to public sector workers represent an additional confiscation and redirection of private property to sustaining the status quo. 



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July 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Thucydides Trap and the Rise and Fall of Great Powers

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Geopolitical Futures by Jacak Partosiak which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Political scientist Joseph Nye believes that the key trigger in the Thucydides trap is an excessive reaction to the fear of losing one’s power status and prospects for future development. In the case of Washington and Beijing, the relative decline of America’s power and the rapid rise of China’s power destabilizes their relationship and makes it difficult to manage. Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, even admitted in May 2012 that his primary task was to ensure that the United States did not fall into the Thucydides trap.

As a result of the slow but noticeable erosion of the U.S. position in the Western Pacific, it is highly conceivable that a scenario could emerge in which the current hegemon is tempted to conduct a strategic counteroffensive in response to an incident, even a trivial one, in the South China Sea or East China Sea, believing falsely that it has the edge over its inferior rival. This would trigger a modern Thucydides trap.

An in-depth reading of Thucydides’ work reveals a second trap, even more complex and dangerous than the first. Thucydides clearly warned that neither Sparta nor Athens wanted war. But their allies and vassal states managed to convince them that war was inevitable anyway, which meant that both city-states would need to gain a decisive advantage at an early stage of the escalating confrontation. Thus, they decided to enter the war after being urged to do so by their vassal states.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The discussions of the Great Game between China and the USA and many interlinkages across the global economy has been fodder for analysts for much of the last five years. I believe a much greater intensification of the competition between the USA and China is likely. Arguably it is already underway. However, for outright war to take place a number of additional conditions would need to be met.



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July 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Gold-Oil Ratio Revisited

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Goehring & Rozencwajg which may be of interest. Here is a section:

However, looking only when the gold-oil ratio has exceeded 30:1 (i.e., oil is cheap relative to gold), crude has returned 32% on average over the next twelve months (over four times its long-term average), while gold has returned 4% on average. Oil was lower only 13% of the time (70% less often). On average, oil outperformed gold by 28% during these periods compared with 2% normally.

At the other extreme, when the gold-oil ratio was less than 10:1 (i.e., oil was expensive relative to gold), crude lost 7% on average over the next twelve months and was negative nearly 60% of the time. Gold returned 18% on average during these periods, outperforming oil by 25%. Since 80% of all observations occur when the ratio is between 10 and 30 you should expect the relative returns of both gold and oil to be like their long-run averages and that is exactly what occurred. When the ratio was between 10 and 30, oil returned 5% on average in the following 12 months, and was lower 41% of the time while gold returned 4% and was lower 33% of the time, roughly in line with long-term averages.

We last used this analysis in early 2016 to justify our investments in oil-related securities. At that point, the gold-oil ratio hit a then-record 47:1. We argued that oil prices were set to surge and invested in oil-weighted E&P securities as a result. Over the next 30-months, oil rallied by 191% from $26 per barrel to $76 per barrel by October 2018. Gold on the other hand fell by 4% over the same period. Oil stocks (as measured by the XLE ETF) advanced by 56%, well in excess of gold stocks (as measured by the GDX) which rose only 3% but lagging the S&P 500 which advanced 69%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The gold/oil ratio spent much of the last couple of decades ranging mostly between 10 and 30. On the small number of occasions is veered outside of those bands the move was quickly reversed. It has therefore been reliable indicator of where value was present on repeated occasions. However, the current reading questions that conclusion. 



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July 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Torrid Heat and Empty Acres to Help Offset Corn's Demand Slump

This article by Michael Hirtzer, Tatiana Freitas and Elizabeth Rembert for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In 2012, the last time corn supply dropped that much, the U.S. crop was hit by a combination of heat and drought, sending Chicago futures to their all-time peak of over $8 a bushel. The weather isn’t quite as drastic this year and grain prices are starting from a much lower level. But U.S. Department of Agriculture data last week made things more interesting, showing American farmers planted 3 million fewer acres with corn than expected.

The surprise drop in acreage makes any decline in yields due to record-high temperatures this week more acute -- and a potential turning point in a corn market that has suffered from a massive glut. The USDA in a monthly report on Friday is expected to shave off 600 million bushels from its supply
forecast, the biggest change since 2012, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

“One of the things we’ve talked about for a number of years is that supply has overtaken demand,” said Stephen Nicholson, senior grains and oilseeds analyst at agriculture lender Rabobank. “To rectify that imbalance, we have two things: some sort of weather event or produce less.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The knock-on effects of the lockdowns and reduced economic activity has yet to be full seen. Whether that is in less demand for fuel additives, greater demand for snack foods, fewer acres planted or inclement weather affecting yields. The one thing we know for certain is that commodity prices are low. Therefore, supply disruptions have the capacity to shift the balance in favour of the bulls.



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July 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Has Already Declared Cold War on the U.S

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

Yet the book that has done the most to educate me about how China views America and the world today is, as I said, not a political text, but a work of science fiction. "The Dark Forest" was Liu Cixin’s 2008 sequel to the hugely successful "Three-Body Problem." It would be hard to overstate Liu’s influence in contemporary China: He is revered by the Shenzhen and Hangzhou tech companies, and was officially endorsed as one of the faces of 21st-century Chinese creativity by none other than … Wang Huning.

"The Dark Forest," which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.”

First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji: The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost … trying to tread without sound … The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them.

In this forest, hell is other people … any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. Kissinger is often thought of (in my view, wrongly) as the supreme American exponent of Realpolitik. But this is something much harsher than realism. This is intergalactic Darwinism.

Of course, you may say, it’s just sci-fi. Yes, but "The Dark Forest" gives us an insight into something we think too little about: how Xi’s China thinks. It’s not up to us whether or not we have a Cold War with China, if China has already declared Cold War on us. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Three Body Problem is an excellent read and The Dark Forest follows on well from where it left off. The third book in the series, Death’s End, was too meandering for me and I did not finish reading it. For a non-Chinese reader, the names can be a bit of an obstacle but the story is compelling.



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July 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Commodities and Predominant Deflation

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Bloomberg’s economists. Here is a section on gold:

Quantitative Easing Is Strong Gold Tailwind. Gold is in the early days of resuming the bull market that started about 20 years ago, in our view. The financial crisis and inception of central-bank quantitative easing (QE) accelerated the metal's upward trajectory then, and we see parallels that are likely more enduring this time. Our graphic depicts the potential upside in spot gold toward $3,000 an ounce vs. about $1,770 on June 26, if simply following the trajectory of the G4 central-bank balance sheet as a percent of GDP. Central banks essentially printing money to spur inflation is a solid foundation for the benchmark store of value.

Gold bottomed at about $700 in 2008 and peaked near $1,900 in 2011. A similar-velocity 2.7x advance from this year's low-close near $1,470 would approach $4,000 by 2023. Rising Stock-Market Volatility a Gold Launchpad. If gold's relationship with equity volatility that's mean-reverting higher and the financial crisis is a guide, the metal has plenty more upside potential vs. downside risks. Our graphic depicts the 100-week moving average of the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) bottoming from the life-of-index low in 2018, like it did in 2007 before the financial crisis and which accelerated gold's rally. There are potential parallels to about a decade ago. A key difference is the metal has had a substantial correction and appears to be in the early days of resuming a bull market.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Gold does best with negative real interest rates. That occurs when interest rates are held down because of fears of deflation, like now, and it also occurs when inflation advances quicker than central banks are willing to raise interest rates. That’s a scenario that could easily unfold in future considering the long-term repercussions of massive civil unrest and debt monetisation.  



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July 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Great Bear Expands LP Fault Gold System at Depth: 10.06 g/t Gold Over 31.25 m, Within 4.07 g/t Gold Over 80.50 m, and 57.32 g/t Gold Over 3.95 m, Within 7.26 g/t Gold Over 53.50 m

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

Chris Taylor, President and CEO of Great Bear said, "The most recent drilling along 650 metres of strike length of the multi-kilometre LP Fault gold system has shown mineralization typically expands at depth. As the system broadens, we generally observe an increasing number of high-grade gold intervals within broader halos of moderate gold grades.  Gold mineralization continues to show excellent continuity within and between drill sections in all locations tested to date.  A new gold zone adjacent to the LP Fault zone was also discovered at approximately 750 metres vertical depth, consistent with our model of a greater than one kilometre wide structural zone at Dixie that has the potential to host additional new gold discoveries."

The Company has completed 120 of approximately 300 planned drill holes into the LP Fault target, as part of its 5 kilometre long by 500 metre deep grid drill program.  Current drill hole locations and results are provided in Figure 1, and in Table 1, respectively.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Great Bear’s resource base is next door to the historic Red Lake mine in Ontario. However, the company’s marketing department is almost as valuable as the resource they are proving up. Every time the results of a new drill hole are found, they issue a press release. Those eye-catching results continue to spur interest in the share as a high probability project that will eventually deliver on gold to the market.



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July 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on psychological perception stages of a new bull market

Your comment on psychological perception stages. I find it most interesting that in the financial press in the UK at this point in time, the "g" word is very rarely mentioned by any of the financial journalists I follow, let alone recommending any gold mining companies. I wonder if this could be a sign that we are still in the latter stages of the "disbelief" phase regarding gold as an investment despite all the signs that a bull market is now underway.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. There is a ‘stealth’ bull market underway in gold and a number of miners have posted impressive returns over the last 18 months. That is being overshadowed, right now, by the continued outperformance of large cap technology companies which are now accelerating higher.



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July 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Psychological Perception Stages of Major Bull Markets

Eoin Treacy's view -

At The Chart Seminar we discuss the progression of investor psychology through disbelief, acceptance and into mania as bull markets develop, evolve and eventually end.  John Templeton’s quote “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria.” Is relevant to that discussion.



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July 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China in counterfeit gold scandal as Wuhan company uses fake bars to gain $4.1bn in loans

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

The story broke after a Beijing-based website investigated complaints and then posted the news under the headline: “The mystery of [US]$2 billion of loans backed by fake gold”.

Kingold is denying it lodged fake bars with Chinese lenders such as China Minsheng Trust, Hengfeng Bank, Dongguan Trust and Bank of Zhangjiakou. The trust companies involved are largely what are known as “shadow banks”.

The alleged scam came to light earlier this year when Kingold defaulted on loans to Dongguan Trust. The gold bars pledged as collateral turned out to be gilded copper alloy. Minsheng Trust’s “gold” bars have also turned out to be copper alloy under the gilded surface.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Veteran gold watchers will remember the case of gold-plated tungsten bars which began to turn up in New York a few years ago. 82 tonnes of gold is a substantial total and highlights the lack of governance in China’s financial system.



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July 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla China Plant Might Have Come to the Rescue Last Quarter

This article by Dana Hull for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

“The lesson learned by now is that TSLA shares tend to ‘work’ when something new has launched,” Jeffrey Osborne, a Cowen Inc. analyst with the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock, said in a report Tuesday. “At this point both the Model Y and China built cars are ramping up.”

Musk, 49, suggested to Tesla employees early this week that the company could manage to avoid a quarterly loss.

“Breaking even is looking super tight,” the CEO wrote to staff in an email seen by Bloomberg. “Really makes a difference for every car you build and deliver. Please go all out to ensure victory!”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has done an admirable job of keeping production on line globally even as sporadic shutdowns at home impaired manufacturing. The decision by California to mandate emission free trucking by 2040 is an additional tailwind for the battery producer. 



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June 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Climbs Above $1,800 for the First Time Since 2011

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

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said gold could climb to a record $2,000 an ounce over the next 12 months, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. recommended investors stick with bullion.

“The Fed is being extremely accommodative and because these shutdowns are starting to reoccur globally, more central bank measures are probably going to be initiated,” Phil Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago, said by phone.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gold’s front month futures traded above $1800 today while the spot price has yet to achieve that goal. The difference between the short-term patterns may give us some insight into what is animating the market in the short term.



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June 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Australian lawmaker says he isn't a suspect in China probe

This article by Rod McGuirk for APNews may be of interest. Here is a section:

The secret service, best known as ASIO, confirmed in a statement that “search warrant activity occurred in Sydney on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation,” but would not comment on Moselmane or its involvement.

Less than two weeks ago, Morrison said that a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor” was targeting Australia in an escalating cyber campaign that was threatening all levels of government, businesses, essential services and critical infrastructure.

Most analysts said Morrison was referring to China, but the prime minister would not name the country.

Already high tensions between Australia and China have been raised by the pandemic.

China in recent weeks has banned beef exports from Australia’s largest abattoirs, ended trade in Australian barley with a tariff wall and warned its citizens against visiting Australia. The measures have been interpreted by many as punishment for Australia’s advocacy of an independent probe into the origins and spread of the coronavirus.

Australia’s foreign minister has accused China of using the anxiety around the pandemic to undermine Western democracies by spreading disinformation online, prompting China to accuse Australia of disinformation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia depends on China’s demand for many of its exports. That’s represents a difficulty for the country in attempting to assert independence from China. For its part, China has a clear interest in securing its supply chains. That means ensuring Australia is at least amenable if not fully subservient to its wishes.



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June 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Silver Price Forecasts Increased

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The extent to which mine supply has been impacted by the spread of COVID-19 in Latin America is something that had more of an effect on iron ore prices than silver. The bigger question is how much of an impact a return to production will have on prices. The supply deficit may have at least supported prices without contributing to an outsized gain. The return of supply could create a surfeit.



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June 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bayer Pays Billions to Put Monsanto Legal Liabilities Behind It

This article by Jef Feeley and Tim Loh for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The settlement is more comprehensive than expected, since it includes the dicamba and PCB cases, and the price will be reasonable for most investors, Sebastian Bray, an analyst at Berenberg, said by email.

It’s a “big relief,” Bray said, and “should allow investors to draw a line under the saga of the last two years.”

The Roundup agreements will resolve 75% of about 125,000 filed claims and those that were unfiled, the company said Wednesday in a statement. Bayer said it will pay $10.1 billion to $10.9 billion to resolve all lawsuits over the popular herbicide, including $1.25 billion for future claims handled as a class action.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bayer pretty much bet the value of the entire firm on the speculation they would be better able to settle the Roundup claims than Monsanto. It’s looking increasingly likely that they were correct.



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June 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Investors Are Spending Fresh Billions Hedging Market Mania

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

Gold and longer-maturity bonds are getting outsized inflows. Protective equity options are outdrawing speculative contracts, while volatility markets are positioning for fresh disruptions.

It comes as signs of froth are emerging. The S&P 500 Index is on the cusp of its best quarter in more than 80 years even as fears of a second coronavirus wave grow. Speculative mania reigns among retail investors, while the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. are turning bullish on U.S. stocks.

But for all the fears that Wall Street is running headlong into risk in one of the fastest rebounds ever, hedging demand shows the frenzy is being met with some vigilance.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When equities yield 4% and a 10% correction is normal, then hedging with bonds that yield 6% and have less volatility makes sense. It is the relationship risk parity strategies were based on even though the original numbers were different. However today we have equities that yield 2% with 30% drawdown risk. Bonds yield 0.7% but volatility hit decade highs, more than double current levels, just a couple of months ago.



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June 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Curious Case of COMEX Gold Deliveries in April and June

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Ronan Manly for bullionstar.com which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Switzerland never normally exports gold to the US. In fact, the US usually exports gold to Switzerland gold to Switzerland – to be refined. Why was 153.3 tonnes rushed into New York during late March and April. Were these COMEX deliveries known about in advance?

Another coincidence is that the amount of gold that has flowed into COMEX since early April that is reported as eligible for the new COMEX 400 oz gold futures contract totals 155.67 tonnes of gold. Very similar to the total amount of gold ready to be delivered for the June 100 oz contract.

The next article will look at the flows into the COMEX gold vaults since 23 March, which have totaled a huge 694 tonnes, comprising 363 tonnes in eligible and 331 tonnes in registered. This has brought registered stocks up to 387 tonnes and eligible stocks to 578 tonnes, for a combined total of 965 tonnes.

Could it be that the entity or entities that were looking for gold in London on 23-24 March and didn’t get it, switched their attention back to the COMEX and demanded delivery through futures, the delivery of which is now panning out? A trans-Atlantic shock that left bullion banks scrambling.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ensuring there is enough gold on hand to supply a newer larger contract size is just part of doing business as a commodities exchange. The spike in the spread between London and New York gold prices witnessed in March and April was probably a result of trying to source this supply during the lockdowns. The bigger questions will be if investors are now willing to take delivery, rather than roll their contracts, will that reduce supply in the physical market and where will those tons of gold be stored?



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June 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Global Thematic Diary June 12th 2020

Thanks to Iain Little for this edition of his investment note. Here is a section:

After the recovery from the 23rd March lows (supreme irony: the very date that many countries went into social and economic “lockdown”) and the -6% mini-crash last Thursday, we see stock markets as being in a redistribution phase as “shareholder regret” kicks in. Nervous Nellies who regret holding equities will either exit altogether (“phew, I’m out!”), or switch money into “cheaper”, lagging sectors like banks, oils, real estate, airlines. Optimists will do something similar except that they’ll be more inclined to hold onto the quality (tech, healthcare, FMCG) that has stood them in good stead. These bulls will regret not holding lower quality sectors if their relative outperformance starts to slip. So lower quality could out-perform higher quality for a while. But….Caution!

A man-made Frankenstein (Modern Monetary Theory, which means hiring monetary policy to do the job of fiscal policy) is ringing an early bell for “stagflation” (low growth plus inflation). There may not be enough global demand or monetary velocity to revive stagflation…..yet. But survivors of the 1970s know what this implies for portfolios at the end of the day: inflation-proof growth equities, index linked bonds, real assets and……gold.

Eoin Treacy's view -

We are at a very interesting point in the market. There are completely different ways of looking at the market. For those who are long, the clearest rationale is $10 trillion has been thrown into the global market and more is on the way. One way or another that is going to inflate asset prices.



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June 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Eoin's personal portfolio: stock market short initiated June 9th 2020

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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