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August 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Illumina Falls Most Since May on Outlook for Demand, Grail Costs

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

Illumina has been embroiled in a costly prolonged battle over its acquisition of Grail. In an unusual move, Illumina finalized the Grail purchase in August 2021 despite complaints from regulators in both the US and Europe. Illumina and Grail were warned last month that they risk “hefty fines.” In its earnings report, Illumina said it recognized $609 million in legal contingencies, including an accrual of $453 million during the second quarter for a potential fine.

“The $8 billion Grail purchase has shifted the story, with multiple antitrust challenges that will play out in 2022,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jonathan Palmer wrote. “These have raised the stakes and shaken confidence.”

On a call with investors, Chief Executive Officer Francis deSouza gave no indication of backing down from the purchase. Meanwhile, the company expects reduced revenue growth from its core business in the second half of the year. 

Piper Sandler analyst David Westenberg said the most concerning factor behind Illumina’s guidance cut was deferred lab investments by some users of the company’s DNA sequencing machines, and customers holding less inventory.

“Some customers experienced supply chain pressures that delayed their lab expansions,” deSouza said on the call. Those who planned to launch new labs or expand existing ones were stymied by supply chain issues, while others are managing capital “more conservatively,” he said. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Illumina is the dominant supplier of genetic sequencing machines. The purchase of Grail was about gaining entry to the blood diagnostics market with a particular focus on early cancer diagnosis. It’s a potentially high growth and complimentary market. If the purchase remains intact, it should deliver a dominant position in both markets.



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August 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cooler Inflation Takes Fed's Rate-Hike Size "Down to the Wire"

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

“This is a necessary print for the Fed, but it’s not sufficient,” Pond said. “We need to see a lot more. You can think about this print as sort of like the weather -- it’s better today than it has been over the past few days. But it’s still summer. There’s still a lot of humidity out there. It’s not great. So it’s in the right direction. But we’re certainly not there yet.” 

For Diane Swonk, the chief economist at KPMG LLP, the Fed is now hedging against risk of future supply shocks as well as combating current inflation and will likely favor a 75 basis-point increase.

“The Fed is no longer willing to rest on their laurels on a one-month move,” she said. “The greater risk for the Fed is to stop too soon than stop too late. It will take a lot more cooling than this for the Fed to shift its decision rule, although in this economy, September seems an eternity away.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big question for investors is whether the Federal Reserve will focus on core or non-core items in how much they decide to raise rates in September. Commodity price inflation is less urgent today than earlier this year. Lumber prices have made a full round trip. Wheat has fully unwound the Ukraine invasion surge. Palm Oil is steadying in the region of the 2008, but the price has almost halved from the peak level. 



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August 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Micron's Warning Adds to Evidence of Collapsing Chip Demand

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

The Boise, Idaho-based company is the latest to reveal just how quickly demand for electronic components is declining, following a warning by Nvidia Corp. on Monday and weak reports by Intel Corp. and other chipmakers this earnings season. The majority of the pain is being felt by companies that make chips for personal computers. Consumer demand for those devices is drying up rapidly as pandemic lockdowns end and household budgets are hammered by inflation.

Highlighting the speed with which demand is evaporating, Micron said orders deteriorated since the company last gave an update just over a month ago. Crucially, it’s not just PC makers that are cutting back.

“Compared to our last earnings call, we see further weakening in demand because of adjustments broadening outside of just consumers to other parts of the market including data centers, industrial and automotive,” Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Mehrotra said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

The prospects for the chip industry are dimming on a day that was supposed to herald a renaissance in semiconductor manufacturing in the US with President Joe Biden signing the Chips and Science Act. That $52 billion stimulus package is designed to make it cheaper for companies to build domestic factories and help counteract the loss of the crucial skill set to Asia. Shortages during the pandemic inspired US and European politicians to prioritize the creation of additional plants locally to create a more robust supply chain.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The chip sector has always been highly cyclical and nothing has happened to change that fact. The pattern of behaviour has repeated in several cycles. The cyclicality is driven by how capital intensive the sector is.



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August 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Assessing the Macroeconomic Consequences of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Moody’s. Here is a section:

Lawmakers appear close to passing into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The legislation is born out of the Build Back Better agenda that President Biden proposed more than a year ago. It raises nearly $750 billion over the next decade through higher taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals and lower Medicare prescription drug costs, to pay for nearly $450 billion in tax breaks and additional government spending to address climate change and pay for lower health insurance premiums for Americans benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (see Table 1). The remaining more than $300 billion goes to reducing the federal government’s future budget deficits (see Chart 1). Broadly, the legislation will nudge the economy and inflation in the right direction, while meaningfully addressing climate change and reducing the government’s budget deficits.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The renewable energy sector rebounded emphatically on the prospect of additional subsidies last week. Removing the limitation on EV rebates so every buyer gets a $7500 discount and reinstating the 30% tax credit for solar installations are both stimulative for their respective sectors.



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July 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US Economy Shrinks for a Second Quarter, Fueling Recession Fears

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

The drumbeat of recession grew louder after the US economy shrank for a second straight quarter, as decades-high inflation undercut consumer spending and Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes stymied businesses and housing.

Gross domestic product fell at a 0.9% annualized rate after a 1.6% decline in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department’s preliminary estimate showed Thursday. Personal consumption, the biggest part of the economy, rose at a 1% pace, a deceleration from the prior period.

“The more important point is that the economy has quickly lost steam in the face of four-decade high inflation, rapidly rising borrowing costs, and a general tightening in financial conditions,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note. “The economy is highly vulnerable to slipping into a recession.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is always dangerous to say this time is different in markets. However, on this occasion there really is some justification that claim. Two consecutive quarters of negative growth meets the technical definition of a recession. However, there are some important mitigating circumstances. For one, unemployment has not risen significantly. There has also never been a recession when the PMI was among 50. That suggests muddier perspective than we might be accustomed to.



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July 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Diabetes breakthrough restores insulin production using existing drug

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

The team says that the new potential treatment has a few advantages over other techniques currently in use or under development. Pancreas transplants are effective, but subject to organ donor shortages and other complications like rejection. Other teams have converted skin cells into stem cells and used those to produce new beta cells, and although results have been promising in mice, immune-suppressing drugs need to be given to prevent rejection.

The new treatment would work much faster, within a matter of days, and without the need for surgery. But perhaps the biggest advantage is that GSK126 is already approved by the US FDA and elsewhere in the world as a treatment for cancer. Its safety profile is already being assessed in clinical trials, which could reduce hurdles down the road for its use against diabetes.

That said, the scientists caution that it is still very early days. These experiments were conducted on cells in culture – not even in animals yet – so there’s still plenty of work to do. Nevertheless, it remains an intriguing new possible tool.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Diabetes is the ultimate money-spinning chronic disease. It is manageable for Type-2 patients if they have the personal discipline to abide by a low sugar diet. The problem is most people who end up with diabetes suffer from poor impulse control or are happy to take the drug regime prescribed to live as they please. The number of patients continues to trend higher as living standards rise and every day provides a bounty that would once have been reserved for festivals.



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July 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The 'Merge Trade' Has Begun, Experts Say, as Ether Surges and stETH Discount Narrows

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

Several observers consider Ethereum's impending transition equivalent to three Bitcoin halvings – a programmed code that halves the per block bitcoin (BTC) currency supply every four years – that will lead to a 90% reduction in ether's annual issuance. Simply put, the transition is likely to bring a store of value or deflationary appeal to ether. The upgrade has been long pending.

Like other market participants, ether investors tend to factor in bullish developments in advance. For instance, ether rallied over 60% to $2,800 in the three weeks leading up to the London hard fork implemented on Aug. 5, 2021. The hard fork activated a mechanism to burn the portion of fees paid to miners.

The Ethereum 2.0 upgrade has been long overdue and has seen several delays. However, the recent successful merges of the Ropsten and Sepolia testnets and the Goerli testnet's planned transition to proof-of-stake on for Aug. 11 has raised hopes for the mainnet merge in September.

The foundation's strongest hint of the tentative date of the Merge on record came as the crypto market looked for reasons to bounce, having priced in much of the bad news over the past two months.

Ether tanked 60% to less than $1,000 from $2,700 in the past two months as fears of faster liquidity withdrawal by the Federal Reserve, Terra's collapse and eventual bankruptcies of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, several crypto lenders saw investors dump crypto holdings.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Predictable dates tend to magnify trader interest. That’s especially true in markets where there are no hard fundamentals, like crypto. The one thing that amplifies interest in the crypto sector better than anything else is supply inelasticity.



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July 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Summers Says Fed 'Let Us Down Quite Badly' and Still Unrealistic

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers issued one of his harshest criticisms yet of the Federal Reserve’s slowness in moving to raise interest rates, and warned that policy makers are still presenting forecasts that are unrealistic.

“In 2021, our central bank let us down quite badly,” hurting policy makers’ credibility, Summers said on Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week.” “It made mistakes in the core functioning of a central bank,” including in its failure to lean in against fiscal stimulus last year, he said.

Among the errors has been a “repeated poor forecasting record -- and I have to say that it’s not something that’s been fully fixed,” Summers said. The June median Fed official predictions showed inflation coming back toward the 2% target but unemployment only reaching a high of 4.1% by 2024 -- a “highly implausible” result, he said.

“Frankly I think in 2021 our central bank lost its way. It was talking about the environment, talking about social justice in a range of things,” Summers, a Harvard University professor and paid contributor to Bloomberg TV, said. “It was confidently dismissing concerns about inflation as transitory.”

Turning to Japan, which has seen its currency tumble to the weakest since 1998 as the Bank of Japan declines to join its peers in tightening policy, Summers said it’s likely to be a challenge to exit the current zero-yield targeting regime.

Dollar’s Impact
“Sooner or later they’re going to leave the yield curve control strategy and I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen when they do,” Summers said. “In the meantime, the pressures are likely to build,” with the potential for “an even weaker yen,” he said.

While some emerging markets are also suffering from a strengthening dollar, Summers said that he didn’t see a “systemic” crisis along the lines of 1998. Still, countries with “particularly unsound policies” including Turkey and Argentina are a concern, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world as it is, the reactions of traders to evolving stimuli, and the world as we would like it to be, are three very different places.

The reality of massive money supply growth in 2020/21, and the subsequent decline in supply growth represent the background for market. The absence of clear sources of new liquidity suggest it is unproductive to expect sharp rebounds on par with those seen in 2021.



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July 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Will release of $3B Bitcoin from Mt Gox cause market bottom in August?

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

Should the release of the remaining Mt Gox funds have a similar effect on the price of Bitcoin, it would likely drop below $10,000. However, even in recent months, there has been equal sell pressure on Bitcoin from parties such as Luna Foundation Guard, Three Arrows Capital, and Bitcoin miners.

LFG sold several billion dollars worth of Bitcoin, which had a negligible effect on Bitcoin as the market absorbed the selling pressure. The following weeks since the event did result in Bitcoin’s price decline due to a change in market belief and overall global outlook. The markets may well absorb any selling from Mt. Gox creditors, but the social sentiment of early Bitcoiners relinquishing their coins could create a bearish psychological sentiment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin is a liquidity barometer. The Mt.Gox liquidator releasing additional supply into the market would be a headwind at the best of times. Doing so while interest rates are rising and liquidity is being siphoned out of the system, will only have a larger negative impact on bitcoin prices.



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July 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Tries to Tamp Down Nationalist Fervor Over Abe Shooting

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

The Foreign Ministry struck a softer tone on Friday. China was “shocked” by the attack, spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing in Beijing just before news that Abe had died, saying the nation hoped he would recover soon.

“This unexpected incident should not be linked with China-Japan relations,” Zhao added. When asked about some nationalist voices in China cheering the shooting, Zhao declined to “comment on the remarks of net users.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese administration has been fostering a domestic nationalistic movement for years. That helps fuel domestic support for extraterritorial ambitions amid the government’s significant militarization efforts.



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July 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Euro Tumbles to 20-Year Low, Putting Parity With Dollar in Sight

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

“It is hard to find much positive to say about the EUR,” said Dominic Bunning, the head of European FX Research at HSBC. “With ECB sticking to its line that we will only see a 25bp hike in July – at a time when others are hiking much faster – and waiting for September to deliver a faster tightening, there is also little support coming from higher yields.” 

Money-market traders are betting ECB will deliver around 140 basis points this year, down from more than 190 basis points almost three weeks ago. The repricing gathered pace after a string of weak economic data last week, with traders trimming bets again on Tuesday after French services PMI was revised lower. 

Investors have also been more cautious on the euro due to the risk of so-called fragmentation, when economically weaker nations see unwarranted spikes in borrowing costs as financial conditions tighten. The ECB is expected to deliver further details of a new tool to backstop more vulnerable countries’ debt at their policy meeting later this month.

The losses Tuesday were compounded by poor liquidity and selling in euro-Swiss franc, according to three Europe-based traders. The euro fell as much as 0.9% against the Swiss franc to 0.99251, the lowest level since 2015. 

“The FX market is not back up to full liquidity given the US holiday,” said Mizuho’s Jones. “Any given size of trade is likely to have a greater impact on market movement.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia’s calculus is simple enough. They are betting the economic pain European countries are enduring because of their support for Ukraine will be so great they will be willing to make a deal sooner rather than later.



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July 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Woman given one year to live is now cancer-free after experimental treatment

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

When she found out the cancer had spread to her lungs, chest bone and lymph nodes, she was given one year to live.

David spent the following six months undergoing chemotherapy, and had a mastectomy in April 2018. This was followed by 15 cycles of radiotherapy which cleared her of cancer.

However, the cancer returned in October 2019 when scans showed multiple lesions throughout David’s body.

David then decided to take part in a clinical trial where she was given experimental medicine combined with immunotherapy drug Atezolizumab, which she has injected every three weeks.

After two years on the trial, the mother-of-two has been declared cancer-free once again.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Roche acquired Genentech in 2009. Atezolizumab is the fruition of that merger and continues to make its way through clinical trials.
Immuno-oncology went through a significant bull market in 2016/17 as the promise of curing cancer looked realizable for the first time. The difficulty of creating a one-size-fits-all solution resulted in much of the enthusiasm being squeezed out of the sector. Nevertheless, the results are impressive even if the scalability is not a panacea.



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July 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GM Sees Profit Down on Inventory Woes, Reaffirms '22 Outlook

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

General Motors Co. expects second-quarter sales and profit to take a hit due to supply-chain problems, but the automaker said it can make up for delayed production later this year and reaffirmed its full-year guidance. 

GM had 95,000 vehicles in inventory as of June 30 -- most of them built in June -- that can’t be sold until certain semiconductors arrive to finish assembly, according to a Friday securities filing. The carmaker expects to finish building those vehicles by the end of the year, allowing the company to keep its full-year guidance. 

The semiconductor shortage has eased, but carmakers continue to wrestle with the availability of certain chips. The shortfall has forced GM and others to either cut production at times or start assembling vehicles without some chips and finish them when supplies arrive.  

GM said second-quarter sales fell 15% due to production and supply issues. As big a drop as that is, it’s a sign of improvement from the second half of last year when supply-chain problems caused a sales shortfall of more than 40%.

Detroit-based GM said second-quarter profit will come in between $1.6 billion and $1.9 billion; the average of analysts’ estimates is $2.4 billion. 

Despite the hit to quarterly sales, GM is sticking to its expectations of 2022 net income between $9.6 billion and $11.2 billion, adjusted operating profit of $13 billion to $15 billion and adjusted earnings of $5.76 to $6.76 a share. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

GM’s issues with securing the types of chips they require for vehicles highlights the nuances within the sector and the challenges of managing global supply chains when demand ramps higher in an unpredictable manner.



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June 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

MicroStrategy Buys $10M Bitcoin in Middle of Crypto's Big Chill

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

As of June 28, the company holds about 129,699 Bitcoin bought for about $3.98 billion, or $30,664 per coin, according to the filing. 

The Tysons Corner, Virginia-based enterprise software maker is expected to reveal a significant financial hit when it releases its second quarter 10-Q this summer, given its enormous exposure to the bellwether token, which has more than halved in value this year. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

With an enterprise value of $4.3 billion almost the entire notional value of MicroStrategy is tied to an unprofitable bitcoin position. It is far from the only company to be underwater on its bitcoin purchases.



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June 29 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Social-Media Companies Face Regulatory Risk in California for Harming Children

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

A bill passed Tuesday by California's Senate Judiciary Committee could allow government attorneys in the state to sue social-media companies such as Meta Platforms, TikTok and Snap for the use of any design or feature that would cause children to become addicted to their platforms. This could have implications for these companies' regulatory and legal risk-management profile as they would have to pay a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per violation or up to $250,000 for a knowing and willful violation. Some 90% of teens aged 13 to 17 in the U.S have used social media, according to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which estimates that, on average, they are online almost nine hours a day, not including time for homework.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The user interface for social media apps is heavily curated to ensure it is addictive. That’s equally applicable to both adults and children. Therefore, it is reasonable to think there are going to be a large number of lawyers salivating at the chance to attack cash rich companies.



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June 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU Nears Combustion Car Era's End as Italy May Drop Opposition

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

In an attempt to enable a compromise, Germany proposed adding in a non-binding part of the car emissions law a call on the commission to propose registering after 2035 vehicles running exclusively on carbon-neutral fuels. The addition is important to Germany and can be a bridge for the overall discussion, said Environment Minister Steffi Lemke. 

“We need a strong and fast CO2 reduction, but we need to keep openness on technologies,” she told the ministers. “We hope that this addition, which is important to the German government, hopefully this is agreeable and which can enable us to reach a joint acceptable solution.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

As a major energy importer the EU has a clear incentive to reduce dependence on imported fuels. That’s well understood. The other side of that argument is Russia is clearly of the opinion that if the EU does not wish to buy its exports, it will find customers that do.



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June 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Return of Industrial Warfare

Thanks to a subscriber for this informative article by Alex Vershinin for RUSI (Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies). Here is a section:

Presently, the US is decreasing its artillery ammunition stockpiles. In 2020, artillery ammunition purchases decreased by 36% to $425 million. In 2022, the plan is to reduce expenditure on 155mm artillery rounds to $174 million. This is equivalent to 75,357 M795 basic ‘dumb’ rounds for regular artillery, 1,400 XM1113 rounds for the M777, and 1,046 XM1113 rounds for Extended Round Artillery Cannons. Finally, there are $75 million dedicated for Excalibur precision-guided munitions that costs $176K per round, thus totaling 426 rounds. In short, US annual artillery production would at best only last for 10 days to two weeks of combat in Ukraine. If the initial estimate of Russian shells fired is over by 50%, it would only extend the artillery supplied for three weeks.

And

The war in Ukraine demonstrates that war between peer or near-peer adversaries demands the existence of a technically advanced, mass scale, industrial-age production capability. The Russian onslaught consumes ammunition at rates that massively exceed US forecasts and ammunition production. For the US to act as the arsenal of democracy in defence of Ukraine, there must be a major look at the manner and the scale at which the US organises its industrial base. This situation is especially critical because behind the Russian invasion stands the world’s manufacturing capital – China. As the US begins to expend more and more of its stockpiles to keep Ukraine in the war, China has yet to provide any meaningful military assistance to Russia. The West must assume that China will not allow Russia to be defeated, especially due to a lack of ammunition. If competition between autocracies and democracies has really entered a military phase, then the arsenal of democracy must first radically improve its approach to the production of materiel in wartime.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s stated aim is to “reunite” with Taiwan politically by whatever means are necessary. This article from Taiwan News, focusing on the Koumintang’s (pro-unity party) recent stated pro-US stance may be of interest. 



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June 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Markets Are Losing the Anchor of a Generation

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

There was one necessary condition underlying the bond market’s ability to shrug off the worst inflation numbers in a generation after only a week; nobody is really sure if they believe the Fed. Credibility is vital to central banks, and I argued for Businessweek on Thursday that it is indeed as important an anchor to the monetary system as gold used to be. A round trip like this showed extreme hesitance to accept the Fed’s guidance; arguably, the currency of its forward guidance has been adulterated.

That said, the Fed can’t have lost all credibility. The rebound in bond yields started Thursday morning as Jerome Powell began taking his second day of questions from Congress. Unlike on Wednesday, he said that his commitment to get inflation back down to 2% was “unconditional.” That, like many central banking pronouncements in the past, had an effect. But it's still concerning that the Fed needs to be more shrill to get its message across; it does look as the coinage of forward guidance is being debased:

Meanwhile, a telling indicator of how far sentiment has swung back toward bracing for a (disinflationary) recession comes from inflation breakevens. German inflation expectations have receded after a dramatic surge over the last 12 months, although they still remain higher than they were at the beginning of the year. The same is not true of US breakevens for average inflation over the next 10 years, and for the five years starting five years hence. Both are now lower than they were in May last year — an extraordinary fact given the extent of the inflationary shock since then, and the new geopolitical drivers for inflation that have arisen this year. If you’re convinced that much higher rates of inflation are on the way, along with higher interest rates to combat them, then the market is still making it very cheap for you to bet on that outcome

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is talk of the ECB raising rates in July, but Europe is already in a recession and Germany is fearful Russia will stop natural gas exports through the original Nordstream pipeline altogether. Against that background the ensuing economic contraction would make the case for interest rate hikes moot.



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June 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CATL Unveils EV Battery With One-Charge Range of 1,000 Kms

This article may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. unveiled an electric-car battery it said has a range of over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) on a single charge and is 13% more powerful than one planned by Tesla Inc., a major customer. 

CATL, as the world’s biggest maker of electric-car batteries is known, will start manufacturing the next-generation “Qilin” next year, according to a video the Chinese company streamed online Thursday. The battery charges faster than existing cells, and is safer and more durable, CATL said. 

The Qilin battery, named after a mythical Chinese creature, has an energy density of up to 255 watt-hour per kilogram, Ningde, Fujian-based CATL said. 

“It’s an important advancement for CATL as it keeps them at the forefront on the innovation side,” said Tu Le, managing director of Beijing-based consultancy Sino Auto Insights. “Being the lowest cost provider isn’t enough to command loyalty, there needs to be more to it -- and that seems to be the Qilin battery for CATL.”

CATL’s shares climbed 5.9% in Shenzhen, closing at the highest since Feb. 9. 

The company said Wednesday it raised 45 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) in a private placement of shares, with the proceeds intended for production and upgrade of lithium-ion battery manufacturing in four Chinese cities, as well as research and development.

CATL has experienced a wave of volatility this year, grappling soaring prices of raw materials as well as rumors of trading losses. Its first-quarter net income slid 24% from a year earlier to 1.49 billion yuan. The company hasn’t explained a 1.79 billion yuan derivatives liability, the first such charge since it listed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The massive run-up in battery metal prices has put significant pressure on companies dependent on buying them to support their businesses. Lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel prices have surged this year as projections for future demand and low available supply created an inelastic trading environment. That created problems for nickel traders which resulted in a short covering price spike and lithium prices also surged to previously unimaginable levels.



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June 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crypto Lender Babel Freezes Withdrawals as Industry Pain Spreads

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

In a sign of deepening turmoil in the crypto community, Babel Finance became the second major digital-asset lender this week to freeze withdrawals, telling clients it is facing “unusual liquidity pressures” as it contends with recent market declines.

“The crypto market has seen major fluctuations, and some institutions in the industry have experienced conductive risk events,” the Asia-based lender and asset manager said in a notice on its website to explain the temporary measure.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Another day, another crypto exchange declines to allow withdrawals. Cryptocurrencies are pure liquidity plays so they are unlikely to recover until there is clear visibility on where the next outsized round of new money is going to come from.



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June 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Seagen Surges on Report Merck Eyeing Purchase of Company

This article by Caitlin Fichtel for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.

Seagen jumps as much as 20% Friday, the most since February 2021, after Dow Jones reported that Merck is eyeing a purchase of the biotech firm, citing people familiar with the matter.

Merck gains as much as 1% Friday
Report adds that talks have been in progress for a while, although a deal is not imminent
Marketing agreement could be struck instead of full purchase
Other unnamed companies are also interested in Seagen

Eoin Treacy's view -

The biotechnology sector was overtaken by vaccine mania during the pandemic. A small number of companies led by Moderna quickly grew to dominate the weighting of the sector. For 18 months the biotech index behaved more like a small number of vaccine providers, than the wide array of solutions to intransigent problems the companies it is comprised by represent. The collapse of vaccine providers, as the immediate risk from this pandemic recedes, means the biotech sector is back trading on the individual merits of its companies.



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June 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rheinmetall Unveils New Tank as Arms Demand Set to Surge

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

The German arms maker expects revenue to surge by as much as 20% per year driven by growing demand for military equipment, according to Chief Executive Officer Armin Papperger. Rheinmetall is boosting capacity and can at least triple ammunition production within the next twelve months, he told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag in an interview. 

The company also is able to double military truck output “because a lot of Cold War infrastructure can be reactivated fairly quickly,” the CEO said.

Rheinmetall’s first modernized Marder light tanks are also ready for delivery, Papperger said, adding that when and where the vehicles get shipped depends on the German government. Berlin has faced criticism for what some see as tepid commitments to deliver weapons to Ukraine.

Rheinmetall is currently updating 100 decommissioned Marder vehicles, 88 Leopard 1 tanks and additional Leopard 2 versions. The vehicles could potentially be delivered to Ukraine or replace equipment dispatched by other countries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Spending money on arms is always easier when there is a war. The argument for modernizing the military apparatus of any country is more difficult without a clear urgent reason to do so. That’s especially true for democracies where competing priorities often take precedence and even more so for Europe with explicit protection guarantees from the USA. .



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June 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

FDA Approves Historic Alopecia Treatment by Eli Lilly, Incyte

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

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first systemic treatment for alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss and affects more than 300,000 people in the US each year.

The drug is sold by Eli Lilly  & Co. and Incyte Corp. under the brand name Olumiant and comes in the form of oral tablets taken once daily. It’s approved for adult patients with severe alopecia. In two big trials, about 40% of people with severe alopecia achieved significant hair growth after 36 weeks, according to the FDA. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sitting around the kitchen table with most of my siblings two weeks ago, the topic of hair loss and greying was of particular interest to my sister who is turning 40 at her next birthday and my youngest brother who is 25.

Hair loss treatments are big business. Minoxidil (Rogaine) application is apparently almost more trouble than it is worth.  Finasteride is a pill but reduces testosterone and can impact libido which is not exactly ideal. Meanwhile Elon Musk’s success in tackling his male pattern baldness clearly signals that at least surgical options are available. 



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May 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Another Stablecoin Loses Its Peg as Algorithm Fails to Keep Pace

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:  

Deus Finance’s DEI token has lost its 1-to-1 peg to the dollar, becoming the latest failure of an algorithmic stablecoin during a period of crypto market stress.

DEI is currently trading at 70 cents, according to data tracker CoinGecko. With a market value of about $63.5 million, the token is tiny compared with the more than $18 billion TerraUSD stablecoin that shook crypto markets when it become depegged last week. 

Read more: Crypto Hedge-Fund Head Predicted Terra’s $60 Billion Implosion

Put out by Deus Finance, a marketplace for financial services, DEI is different from TerraUSD, or UST, in that it’s a fractional reserve stablecoin, backed by coin collateral, consisting of 20% DEUS tokens and 80% of other stablecoins, such as USDC.

Deus’s team is working to restore the peg, according to a Tweet.

The depegging comes several months after Deus Finance was hacked, with some coins stolen.

UST is currently trading at about 6 cents. Last week, even the world’s biggest stablecoin, Tether -- which is not algorithmic and claims to have full reserves -- lost its dollar peg before regaining it. Crypto bellwether Bitcoin is trading at less than $30,000, down from over its all-time high of almost $69,000 in November.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The TerraUSD coin is an algorithm based stablecoin, which relies on the value of its underlying token to support its value. That token, Luna, collapsed last week and took the stablecoin with it. The potential for contagion arises when stablecoins using money market instruments fail.



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May 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Capitulation

Thanks to a subscriber for this portion of a note from JPMorgan:

the bottom this time won't be a capitulatory puke, but more likely consistent selling which fades as it burns out, to wit:

... signs of a market bottom are unlikely to resemble traditional "capitulation" that’s played out in the last few years. Why? Because traditional capitulation is typically marked by a quick de-grossing by hedge funds + systematic macro strategies, where positioning is already light. Instead, the next leg of de-risking is likely to be more gradual, coming from asset allocators/real money/retail and is therefore likely slower to play out, making a precise bottom more difficult to call.

from a more tactical (i.e. very near term) standpoint, the bank writes that there are multiple metrics that suggest we could be closer to a bounce than before, including:

The magnitude of the drawdown in net and gross exposures (-33% for net and - 30% for gross) in N. America among L/S funds is now similar to the early 2016 and March 2020 declines

Retail flows in single-stocks have been very negative over the past 3 days, which has generally coincided with short-term lows over the past 6 months.

The drawdown in “risky” factors (e.g. high vol, small cap, low profitability) is one of the most extreme of the past 20+ years and the S&P has rallied over the following 1-3 months post hitting similar extremes

Buying of Defensives and selling of Cyclicals is also one of the most extreme with Staples vs. Discretionary in particular looking stretched

Eoin Treacy's view -

The significant declines seen in stocks and the return of P/E ratios to average readings have been sufficient to encourage some speculative value buying over the last couple of days. The other side of that argument is oil prices remain firm and the Fed intends to hike rates by an additional 100 basis points before the end of July. Rallies are hard to sustain when liquidity is contracting.



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May 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coinbase Gives $256 Billion Reminder About Agonies of Bankruptcy

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

Coinbase Global Inc., like the rest of the cryptocurrency market, is having a really tough week. Not filing-for-bankruptcy bad, but the biggest US crypto exchange did just mention the B-word in a regulatory filing, giving its customers a painful reminder of how bad things could get for them if Coinbase ever does get seriously distressed.

In its quarterly report, Coinbase added a risk disclosure: if the company were to file for bankruptcy, the court might treat customer assets that the exchange is custodian for -- their Bitcoin, Dogecoin or whatever -- as Coinbase’s assets. And they’d be at the back of the line for repayment, forcing normal people, unaccustomed to the ins and outs of federal bankruptcy court, to claw back their money along with everybody else owed money by the exchange.

It’s a huge amount at stake. Coinbase was custodian for $256 billion of customer money on March 31, according to the filing.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong quickly took to Twitter to elaborate, saying the company is not at risk of going bankrupt and that users’ funds are safe.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Segregated accounts didn’t save MF Global’s clients in 2019. It took six months to get two thirds of their money back and it’s not clear how successful efforts have been to recover the rest. Since the crypto markets are unregulated and Coinbase is an “exchange” rather than a broker, the funds are not truly segregated. The company might not be in imminent danger of going bust, but that only exacerbates the leverage to the bitcoin price. It’s a very binary bet.



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May 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dollar Won't Be Haven Currency of Choice for Long

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

This in turn takes us to an interesting observation by George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank AG’s global head of currency research, who says that “we are perhaps now reaching the tipping point where further financial conditions tightening will start to place more severe headwinds to how much more we can reprice the Fed.” This will result in the dollar becoming less responsive to risk-off due to more dovish implications for the Fed path. And while it’s still early stages, Saravelos argues that “the market is starting to behave as if we may be approaching this tipping point.”

Now, even if inflation does peak this year, that won’t mean central banks will exit their tightening path, but will adjust it accordingly. Just look at the Bank of England’s latest forward guidance and the divide within the voting committee. At the same time, and if we talk stagflation or recession, we should consider that the yen may attract haven flows once again given its low inflationary readings, Japan’s current surplus and so forth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Today’s month over month CPI figure was 0.3%. Analysts expected 0.2% but the prior reading was 1.2%. That’s still a moderation in near-term inflation, even if it is still rising. Year over year the rate is still 8.3% which is in the middle of what was expected and the last reading.



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May 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

TerraUSD's Struggles Are a Concern for All Markets

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

Much more important, if TerraUSD fails it will be a blow to the hopes of many traditional financial institutions that rely on liquidity to maintain stability. That includes central banks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, derivatives clearinghouses, securities dealers and many others.

TerraUSD is an “algorithmic stablecoin,” meaning it attempts to maintain a $1 market price via an algorithm rather than traditional methods such as backing each token with an actual dollar. TerraUSD can be exchanged for $1 worth of another cryptocurrency, in this case Luna. Therefore, if the price of TerraUSD deviates from $1, arbitragers should force it back.

The Federal Reserve, although it doesn’t officially target the value of the dollar, can use a similar strategy if it wants to influence the currency’s value. If the value of the dollar falls either in terms of purchasing power or foreign-exchange rates, the Fed’s two main policy responses are to raise interest rates to make the dollar more attractive to hold, or to sell assets to soak up dollars, reducing the supply, and pushing up the price. TerraUSD uses mainly the second strategy, selling Luna to reduce the supply of TerraUSD.

The strategy relies on there being a liquid market for the asset being sold — mainly US Treasury securities for the Fed and Luna for TerraUSD. Unfortunately for the Fed, if the dollar’s value is falling, investors may not be enthusiastic about buying Treasuries, which pay off in future dollars and whose perceived credit may be impaired if too many have to be sold to soak up excess currency. TerraUSD has the same issue, the value of Luna is tied to the success of the Terra suite of products, which would be impaired by TerraUSD’s collapse

Eoin Treacy's view -

In a bull market leverage begets leverage. From the perspective of financial engineers there is no strategy that can’t be made better with leverage. Stablecoins are the crypto market’s version of money market funds. They aim to hold parity with the Dollar by buying near-cash items that pay a slightly higher yield than the Fed. Algorithmic stablecoins try to go one better and only trade in their own tokens. That’s great during a bull market. However, the value of any money market instrument is in its ability to redeem at par in times of stress. If it folds at the first sign of trouble it is not fit for purpose.



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May 06 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In the Long Run, These Equity Losses Barely Register

This article from Bloomberg highlights the philosophical attitude being adopted following a couple of days of rather extreme volatility. Here is a section:

A momentous week has ended with a thud rather than a bang (at least on the data front) as the U.S. employment numbers came out broadly in-line with expectations. To be sure, there were some notable features of the data -- a drop in both household employment and labor participation, though perhaps that was driven by the timing of Good Friday, which fell during the survey week. 

You can cherry-pick whatever you like from the figures to support your pre-existing view, so at this point it’s hard to say that they change much of anything. For now, the growth picture remains strong enough to support the policy trajectory that’s currently priced into rates markets. That, in turn, should continue to apply pressure to equities, regardless of how “cheap” they may seem.

From a macro perspective, the issue to focus on has clearly rotated from inflation to growth. Pretty much everyone understands that base effects will drive y/y CPI and PCE figures lower, but the run-rate of inflation will remain high enough for central banks to keep worrying ... and keep (or start) tightening. That policy trajectory will change when the growth outlook deteriorates significantly enough that demand looks more correctly aligned with supply. So that’s what we’ll be watching for.

While you can point to the 353k drop in household employment as a signal that the economy is weakening, that’s a pretty tenuous hook upon which to hang your hat at this point -- particularly given that household employment growth had comfortably outstripped the establishment survey over the prior six months. Moreover, the drop in the participation rate suggests the household figure may well have been a supply, rather than demand, issue -- which is problematic if the relatively elevated level of wages can still not attract fresh workers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The pandemic economy is not the new normal. It was an anomaly fueled by money creation on a previously unimaginable scale. It is therefore reasonable to expect that unwinding much of the bonanza will be required to get inflation back under control.



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May 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the cumulative effect on interest rate hikes

I seem to remember many years ago David saying that the time to be wary of share markets is after the third interest rate rise. Is this accurate and, if so, is it a relevant indicator for us now?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this topical question which may be of interest to the Collective. The initial response to a new hiking cycle is generally seen as positive by investors because they prize efforts to control inflation and preserve growth. However, interest rate hikes have a lagged effect on the economy and are cumulative in nature. That means the initial enthusiasm at continued growth gives way to worry about the toll of withdrawing liquidity as the number of hikes builds. 



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April 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GS, Doosan and Samsung to Cooperate in SMR Power Plant Business

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

A signing ceremony was held at GS Energy Headquarters in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, on April 26 with the presence of representatives from the four companies. They included GS Energy president Huh Yong-soo, Doosan Enerbility vice president Na Gi-yong, Samsung C&T vice president Lee Byung-soo, GS Energy vice president Kim Seong-won, and NuScale Power president John Hopkins.

NuScale’s SMR is the only one of its kind to receive design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). It is regarded as the most advanced SMR in the world. It can be used for hydrogen production, seawater desalination, and heat supply to industrial complexes in addition to electricity generation.

The MOU is expected to generate huge synergies by combining NuScale’s SMR technology, GS Group’s power plant operation capabilities, Doosan Enerbility’s expertise in nuclear power plant equipment production, and Samsung C&T’s power plant construction capabilities.

A power plant using NuScale SMRs will be built and put into commercial operation in Idaho of the United States in 2029.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Last month Samsung also signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building Seaborg’s modular self-contained molten salt reactors for nearshore power production. In addition to taking a minority stake in NuScale last year, this represents a significant bet on small scale nuclear construction. It’s not an exaggeration to think South Korea is aiming to dominate the construction of small modular reactors.



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April 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crypto Mortgages Let Homebuyers Keep Bitcoin, Pay Down Nothing

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

Digital wealth meant little to banks when it came to a mortgage. And Burniske, 63, wanted to keep his coins rather than trade them for dollars. 

“If you cash out, you have to pay sizable tax and you’re leaving a lot of upside on the table because you’re getting out early,” he said.

Then came an option that wasn’t available when Burniske found the properties late last year: a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage secured by part of his Bitcoin and Ethereum holdings. He nailed down the loan from Milo Credit, a Miami-based startup that’s seeking to tap into the burgeoning pool of crypto loyalists who want to diversify their wealth while hanging on to their tokens.

Crypto mortgages are the latest example of the deepening role of digital coins in the U.S. real estate market, with property buyers and lenders alike embracing the volatile currencies to underpin deals for hard assets. Last year, Fannie Mae started allowing borrowers to use crypto for their down payments. New buildings going up in tech hot spots like Miami are accepting digital tokens for deposits on condos. A house in Tampa, Florida, even sold as an NFT earlier this year. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The conventional metrics we have available come nowhere close to measuring the extent of leverage in the system. Companies buyback shares instead of paying dividends for a variety of reasons. From an investor’s perspective buybacks are preferrable to dividends because they are a tax-free benefit.



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April 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

SoftBank Cuts Back Spending, Leaving Startups Desperate for Cash

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

Hurt by plunging tech valuations, SoftBank is walking away from some of its loss-making portfolio firms to comply with stricter investment criteria, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter was not public. Many of the two Vision Funds’ portfolio of 300-plus companies are loss-making.

The Japanese investment firm offered to contribute money if Light could find another investor to lead the next fundraising round, one of the people said. But with its biggest backer offering only a token amount, other investors were wary about stepping in, the person said. The Redwood City, California-based startup has hired a consulting firm to explore options, including winding down operations.

“Their purse strings are tight as they have ever been,” the person said.

A Vision Fund spokesman and Light Chief Executive Officer Dave Grannan declined to comment. 

The adoption of prudence at SoftBank’s Vision Fund -- which rewrote the rules of venture capital by deploying billions of dollars from the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi into startups -- is an about-face from its past freewheeling largess. 

For years, SoftBank’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son persuaded startup founders to accept Vision Fund money by encouraging them to think bigger and promising continued support to help them expand. He would often invest more money than founders were looking for if they would try to accelerate growth.

Before approving the investment in Light, the billionaire made clear to Grannan that his interest was predicated on the startup’s ability to adapt its depth-sensing imaging technology for self-driving cars -- something Light’s founders never considered before.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ambitious startups with big ideas and no path to profits are finding the Vision Fund is a fair-weather friend. That only increases the pain they experience as yields rise. The startup sector is most acutely sensitive to tighter liquidity. Some will not survive this correction.



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April 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stripe Teams Up With Twitter in Renewed Crypto Payments Push

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

The move is the latest manifestation of Stripe’s renewed interest in crypto after rivals such as Block Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc. and Checkout.com made inroads in the industry. Stripe suspended support for Bitcoin payments in 2018, but began recruiting crypto talent last year and in March said it was helping digital-asset exchanges FTX and Blockchain.com with online payments and customer verification. 

Creators on Twitter will be able to receive payments initially in the stablecoin USD Coin. The payouts across the Stripe Connect platform will be made using Polygon, a blockchain network designed to make Ethereum faster and easier to use. Stripe said it chose Polygon because of its speed and low transaction fees.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Distributed ledgers and trustless networks continue to gain traction in the financial services sector. The desire to track ownership and the origin of funds has probably increased with the sanctions levied on Russia which should be positive for blockchain-based payments systems. However, that doesn’t tend to have much influence on the trajectory of crypto assets.



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April 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Decline as Treasury Yields Resume Climb

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

U.S. stocks fell as the selloff in Treasuries resumed, with the rates market hedging the possibility that the Federal Reserve will tighten policy more aggressively. The dollar gained.

The S&P 500 dropped, reversing gains of as much as 1.2%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 extended losses, underperforming major benchmarks, as the jump in yields weighed on growth-related stocks.

Treasury yields rose across the curve, with the policy-sensitive two-year rate climbing 14 basis points 2.72% as traders priced in 50 basis-point rate hikes at each of the next three meetings. The dollar gained against all of its major peers following the surge in yields.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he saw merit in the argument for front-loading interest-rate increases and that a half-point hike “will be on the table for the May meeting.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla’s earning buoyed sentiment this morning but the momentum was short lived. The Federal Reserve wants to kill off demand. They know as well as the rest of us raising rates will do nothing to increase oil supply, clear port congestion or boost crop yields. The tools they have at their disposal all target demand.   



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April 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Credit Availability Is Still High

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the weekend I participated in a sales presentation for solar panel installation. The cost to the consumer has not come down all that much over the last few years, which suggests manufacturing efficiencies are not being passed on to consumers. However, financing for the panels is unusually attractive.

I was offered a 25-year fixed rate loan for $65980 at 1.49%. 20-year yields are at 3.17% and 30-year yields are at 2.99% so it begs the question where are they getting the cash to lend at 1.49%?



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April 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shein's $100 Billion Value Would Top H&M and Zara Combined

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

A Chinese fast-fashion company without a global network of physical stores of its own is seeking a valuation that could be more than the combined worth of high-street staples Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA’s Zara.

Shein, an online-only retailer of inexpensive clothes, beauty and lifestyle products that pumps out over 6,000 new items daily, is in talks with potential investors including General Atlantic for a funding round that could value the company at about $100 billion, Bloomberg News reported Sunday.

Should Shein succeed with the round, it would make the decade-old brand about twice as valuable as Tokyo-based Fast Retailing Co. -- the owner of Uniqlo -- which last year had more than 2,300 outlets in 25 countries and regions. It would also make Shein the world’s most-valuable startup after ByteDance Ltd. and SpaceX, according to data provider CB Insights.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I wrote about the success of direct-to-consumer Chinese fashion brands in my 2015 China trip report. Back then I was impressed by the speed with which new SKUs were churned out. The injection of capital and internet marketing savvy has grown that business model to the point where every other fast fashion brand is struggling to compete.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DALL-E 2 is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language

This website may be of interest to subscribers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of natural language programming is a significant trend. It holds out the promise of broadening the spectrum of people who can use innovative tools to create useful products and services. At present this is still in relative infancy, but the pace of development is sufficiently fast to suggest real world applications within the next couple of years. It might be while (decades?) before we get to Star Trek levels of voice commands but it’s not impossible.



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April 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Altcoins' Lead Crypto Lower as Bitcoin Drops to Three-Week Low

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

Cryptocurrency losses accelerated, with popular Defi tokens such as Cardano and Avalanche falling more than sector bellwether Bitcoin, as risk aversion sweeps through financial markets. 

Bitcoin dropped as much as 6.1% to $40,510, the first time the largest cryptocurrency by market value has been below $41,000 since March 22. Ether, the second largest, was down as much as 9.5%, dipping below $3,000. Altcoin, or alternative coin, Luna was down around 8.4%, while Avalanche was off 10% and Cardano slumped 11%. 

Since peaking at just above $48,000 in late March, Bitcoin -- and other tokens -- have been dragged lower by concerns about tighter monetary policy. Even the buzz around last week’s Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami wasn’t enough to reverse the trend. 

“Historically, altcoins have a tendency to over perform Bitcoin to the downside in strong bearish trading environments,” said Josh Olszewicz, head of research at crypto investment firm Valkyrie.  “Altcoin trading participants often have less longer-term conviction.” 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Miami crypto conference concluded over the weekend with some very bullish forecasts for both the price and role of cryptocurrencies in the economy of the future. It’s not uncommon for big bullish gatherings like this to create demand for the sector. The challenge in the near-term is the market is very liquidity dependent. Bitcoin tends to do well when liquidity is both cheap and abundant. That’s not currently the case.



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April 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

State of Venture

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

$143.9B Total funding for Q1’22. Global funding to startups reached $143.9B in Q1’22, a 19% drop compared to the record-breaking Q4’21 — the largest percentage fall since Q3'12. However, Q1’22 was still the fourth-largest quarter for funding on record and its total was 7% higher than the same quarter in 2021.

113 New unicorns. Q1'22 saw the birth of 113 new unicorns globally — a 5-quarter low and a slight drop from the 115 unicorns born a year ago in Q1'21. US and Europe accounted for most of the new unicorns, with 67 and 20 unicorn births, respectively. The highest-valued new unicorn was the US-based visual collaboration company Miro, with a valuation of $17.5B.

49% Of all funding goes to the US. US-based startups received 49% of global funding in Q1’22, with a quarterly total of $71.2B. Despite accounting for almost half of all dollars invested, Q1’22 US funding marked a 5-quarter low for the country. US-based startups also drove a significant proportion of the deal activity, accounting for 37% of all deals in Q1’22.

160% Climb in valuations. So far in 2022, companies raising new financing have gained a median valuation increase of 2.6x compared to their prior financing rounds. Median valuations of early and mid-stage deals also trended up, reaching $34M and $343M, respectively. For late-stage deals, however, the median valuation dropped to $1,054M in 2022 YTD — barely above the $1B mark crossed for the first time in 2021.

-45% Drop in public exits. The number of exits via SPACs and IPOs decreased by 45% QoQ in Q1’22, while M&A activity remained elevated with 2,983 deals in total. US-based startups accounted for 40% of all exit activity in the quarter, followed by Europe at 34%.

120 Tiger funded cos. Top investor. Tiger Global Management continued to be the most active investor in Q1’22. The firm invested in 120 companies, up from 107 in Q4’21. The largest investment Tiger participated in was a $1B Series D round to Checkout.com with 12 co-investors.

91 IPOs in Asia, more than any region. Asia led globally in terms of IPOs, which were down for every region this quarter. Asia based companies accounted for 9/10 of the top IPOs in Q1'22, including 8 China-based companies. The largest IPO came from South Korean LG Energy Solutions, which exited at a valuation of $98B.

-30% Decrease in megaround funding. Mega-rounds accounted for less total funding and fewer deals this quarter, consistent with broader VC trends. At $73.6B, total megaround funding represented just over half of all venture dollars invested in Q1'22, down from 59% in Q4'21.

71% Jump in Philadelphia funding. Quarterly funding is down across all major cities and tech hubs in the US, except for Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas. Among them, Philadelphia and Atlanta based startups saw the largest jumps in funding at 71% and 30%, respectively.

20% Of funding goes to fintech. 1 out of every 5 dollars in funding went to fintech in Q1’22, despite investment in the sector shrinking quarter-over-quarter. The retail sector came second, accounting for 17% of all venture funding in Q1'22.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Discount rates don’t matter until they do. SPAC, IPO and every other “innovation” focused asset has experienced a deep pullback over the last six months. That’s entirely due to jumps in yields which reintroduced a discount rate to valuations.



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April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday or Monday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

“Play along to get along” has been the default strategy for global peace over the past thirty years. The default proposition was that if we concentrate on commerce, and all grow wealthy together, there was no real need to focus on our political differences. Under that system globalization flourished.

A just in time global supply chain allowed components to be made in a host of different countries, assembled in China and exported to the world. The demise of subsidy regimes allowed commodities, particularly agriculture products, to be produced in the lowest cost regions and exported to the globe. The internet has allowed the dissemination of know-how and services like never before.

In attacking Ukraine, Russia expressed a willingness to risk being cut off from much of the global economy. Regardless, of any other motive, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a gamechanger for the global order. With evidence of war crimes emerging, the chances of Russia being welcomed back into the global trading community are growing progressively more distant. We are back in an “Us versus them” global environment.



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March 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Stocks in the U.S. Drop as Audit Dispute Drags On

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

Chinese stocks listed in the U.S. fell Thursday after Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler dialed down prospects of an imminent deal to allow Chinese firms to keep trading on American exchanges.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index dropped as much as 4.9%, with iQIYI Inc. and Baidu Inc. sinking more than 6% after being added late Wednesday to SEC’s growing delisting watch list. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. fell 4.6%, while its e-commerce rivals JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. slid more than 7%.

U.S.-listed China stocks have steadied in recent trading after authorities signaled support to overseas listings and financial markets, yet investors remain on edge amid a long-standing dispute over whether American regulators can get full access to U.S.-traded Chinese company audits. In response to the SEC chair’s comments, China said talks with the U.S. accounting
watchdog will continue.

Under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the SEC started publishing a provisional list of companies identified as running afoul of requirements with the first
release in early March.

“The growing provision list is a reminder that there’s a risk” and a reminder to do a risk check, TH Capital analyst Tian X. Hou said in an interview, noting that as investors become more familiar with the delisting situation, they will realize this is a routine check by the SEC under the new rules.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Even at the best of times, auditors miss signs of trouble in the balance sheets of companies. They are a regulatory burden designed to ensure companies follow the rules and yet whenever a crisis develops, the conflict-of-interest argument arises because auditors missed obvious transgressions.



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March 30 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Dodges Nickel Crisis With Secret Deal to Get Supplies

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

“What Tesla has done with nickel is a hidden competitive advantage,” said Gene Munster, managing partner of Loup Ventures. “Tesla continues to be a couple of steps ahead of the rest.”

Musk has repeatedly flagged nickel supply as the company’s biggest concern as it boosts output, and the metal’s availability is a source of anxiety throughout the EV sector.

Battery-sector demand for nickel is expected to jump to about 1.5 million tons in 2030 from 400,745 tons this year, according to Bloomberg NEF.

“Please mine more nickel,” Musk urged producers on an earnings call two years ago. “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla’s management deserves credit for ensuring they have access to the resources needed to make production targets. Tesla’s vertically integrated business model is what the conventional auto sector used to do. Ford closed its last steel plant nearly thirty years ago. Selling steel to the major US automakers now represents the bulk of Cleveland Cliffs’ revenue.

As the geopolitical environment grows progressively more complicated, and competition for access to supply of copper, nickel, lithium, manganese and cobalt intensify, inventory management is going to become more important for major industrial companies.



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March 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Revolution in British Meritocracy

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

Nowadays, Brampton Manor Academy regularly gets as many pupils into Oxbridge as Eton College, the alma mater of Cameron, Johnson and the majority of the privileged faces staring out from the 1987 photograph. It does this by dint of high-expectations and relentless discipline. Pupils arrive early in the morning and stay on into the evening in order to accumulate extracurricular activities. Slacking is not tolerated. Pupils are expected to be smartly dressed and always on the ball. Eton — the quintessential, privately-funded British public school — charges about £50,000 a year and selects from the whole world. Brampton Manor charges nothing and selects from one of the poorest boroughs in London. The majority of pupils are from ethnic minorities and one in five gets free school lunches because of their parents’ low incomes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Education is a contentious subject for politicians, because everyone wants the best for their children despite the fact levels of academic ability vary widely. That desire to secure the best opportunities for one’s offspring has to be married with society’s need to find and nurture the best brains.



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March 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Navy Growth: Massive Expansion Of Important Shipyard

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

The incredible growth of the Chinese Navy has seen several shipyards expanded already. Jiangnan shipyard, which is situated next to the new site, has itself been expanded massively in recent years. Added to this, new facilities to build large numbers of submarines has been set up near Wuhan. And the nuclear submarine facilities at Huludao have also been massively expanded. Now the new work at Jiangnan takes this further still.

The new facilities will dramatically increase capacity at the yard. It is expected to have a basin for fitting out ships and a large multi-berth dry dock.

A Fleet of 6 Aircraft Carriers

The U.S. Navy expects that the Chinese Navy may operate 6 aircraft carriers by 2040. Currently only two are operational, built at Dalian in Northern China. But the third, the improved and enlarged Type-003, is under construction at Jiangnan. It seems likely that one or more of the additional carriers will also be built at Jiangnan.

One hypothesis is that China will build nuclear powered aircraft carriers. These may be even larger still than the Type-003, which is anyway almost the same size as the U.S. Navy’s Ford Class. The larger ship, and new technologies involved, may dictate a new construction site. This is one explanation for the new site.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an abundance of evidence to suggest we are going to be living in a more volatile geopolitical environment for the foreseeable future.



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March 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Adobe's Lackluster Forecast Suggests Growing Competition

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

While Adobe is one of the industry’s longtime success stories, the maker of creative and marketing software has faced rare investor skepticism recently over fears that businesses are reducing their spending on such tools and rivals are making in-roads among new customers. The stock has dropped 18% since its last earnings report on Dec. 16, closing Tuesday at $466.45 in New York. Shares declined about 2% in extended trading.

Adobe is in the midst of revising prices for its signature creative suite, the first major overhaul since 2017, said Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen. The new structure will reflect features Adobe has added in the past five years, including new collaboration capabilities, executives said. The impact will be seen in revenue in the second half of the fiscal year, they said.

“It was time to take a very comprehensive look,” Narayen said on a conference call after the results were released. “We want to continue to attract hundreds of millions to the platform, but we also want to get value for the tremendous innovation we’ve provided.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Adobe transformed its fortunes with investors by adopting a subscription business model. The Photoshop service that used to cost thousands of dollars was suddenly much more accessible and every upgrade was instantly available to subscribers. The transition coincided with the evolution of ecommerce and the mobile telecommunications revolution and Adobe’s profits took off.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Half-hearted sanctions against Russia have already failed

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

Goldman’s deep-dive into the effect of sanctions ought to end all wishful thinking. The US investment bank forecasts that the Russian economy will contract by 10pc this year, a bad recession but not an economic breakdown.

Growth will then recover to 2.4pc next year and 3.4pc in 2024 as the country adjusts. Exports will be back to 98pc of prior levels by early next year. If so, Putin is not going to lose sleep over this.

Russia’s trade will mostly be diverted rather than destroyed. There may even be some short-term growth stimulus as Russia replaces western goods with home-made manufactures. Putin has been building a fortress economy ever since the annexation of Crimea. Net foreign funding is negligible. Total public debt is 18pc of GDP, one of the lowest ratios in the world. 

Over four-fifths of GDP come from sectors that import just 15pc or less of their inputs, falling to 7pc in the mining industry. This is a radically different economic structure from western states such as Poland.

“If Russia were fully integrated into global supply chains, restrictions on imports and exports would be immediately destructive. However, Russia largely exports goods that are almost fully produced locally,” said Mr Grafe.

Iran endured tougher sanctions without buckling. Cornell professor Nick Mulder, author of The Economic Weapon, said the country settled into a new equilibrium within a couple of months. “If Iran’s experience is any guide, Russia will survive and return to lacklustre growth,” he said.

“Historically, sanctions have hardly ever been successful in stopping wars,” he said. A rare exception was the Balkan ‘war of the stray dog’ in 1925. Needless to say, Putin’s war on Ukraine is not a border skirmish. It is a long-planned attempt to overturn the post-Cold War settlement and alter the world’s balance of power.  

European ministers once again grappled with a hydrocarbon embargo – the fifth package of sanctions – at an EU meeting on Monday. Once again the proposals ran into resistance from Germany, with Italy and others happy to tuck in behind.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russia continues to make coupon payments. That indicates it has the capital available to do so and avenues are open. Without cutting Russia off from the financial system and banning energy purchases, the country can continue to operate effectively. Due to its size and dominance of several key commodity markets, Russia has ample scope to cause mischief on a grand scale.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ray Dalio's Bridgewater reportedly backing a crypto fund means the world's largest hedge fund and one of Bitcoin's former skeptics is taking it seriously

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

“It has been an amazing accomplishment for Bitcoin to have achieved what it has done, not being hacked, having it work and having it adopted the way it has been,” he told MarketWatch in December. 

“I believe in the blockchain technology. … It has earned credibility.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This might be a case of “if you can’t beat um, join um”. The reality is as bond prices decline, money is pulling out and is looking for a home where its value will hold versus the declining purchasing power of fiat currencies.



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March 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Dash for Trash' Fuels Big Bounce for Money-Losing Growth Stocks

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

No earnings? No problem.

That was the message from investors this week who stormed back into the shares of faster-growing companies with little in the way of profits after months of chasing value stocks. While major benchmarks rallied, a Goldman Sachs index of unprofitable tech companies was up 18% over the five sessions. That compares with a gain of 6.2% for the S&P 500 and 8.4% for the Nasdaq 100.

“A straightforward dash for trash” is how Bespoke Investment Group described it when explaining why smaller companies with the lowest return on assets and no dividends were among this week’s biggest gainers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Ark Innovation ETF bounced this week in an emphatic manner from the region of the of the pre pandemic peak. In doing so it fully unwound the big bull market and the upside weekly key reversal suggests investors are willing to bargain hunt.



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March 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Moderna kicks off Phase 1 trial of 3 different mRNA HIV vaccines

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

“Finding an HIV vaccine has proven to be a daunting scientific challenge,” said NIAID director Anthony Fauci, in a statement announcing the Phase 1 trial. “With the success of safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, we have an exciting opportunity to learn whether mRNA technology can achieve similar results against HIV infection.”

The Phase 1 trial will enroll around 100 healthy adults, with the initial goal of evaluating the safety and immune responses to three different mRNA vaccine formulations. Each subject will receive three doses of their assigned mRNA formulation over a six-month period.

In the same way mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are designed to train the immune system to respond to the spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, these experimental vaccines focus on the HIV equivalent of the spike protein antigen target, known as an envelope glycoprotein trimer.

This protein on the surface of HIV particles is much more complex that the coronavirus spike protein, so Moderna has developed three different mRNA formulations to test, each encoding for a slightly different protein architecture.

The trial is expected to run until mid-2023. By that point it is hoped one of the three formulations will have demonstrated robust immune responses and Phase 2 trials can commence.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This announcement holds out promise that an intransigent health issue can be addressed with a shot. It also highlights the fact that rushed permitting for COVID-19 vaccines is not about to be repeated. If the trials schedule discussed in the above article is followed, it will be a decade before a potential solution reaches market. It is also likely to be held to a much higher standard of proof.



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wait Times for Chip Deliveries Grow Again as Shortages Persist

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

Lead times -- the lag between when a chip is ordered and delivered -- increased by three days to 26.2 weeks last month, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. In January, the group reported that delays were getting shorter, the first sign of improvement since 2019.

Though the lag times have now increased again, they aren’t growing quite as quickly as during much of 2021. But certain sectors were hit worse than others. Delivery times for microcontrollers reached a high of 35.7 weeks in February, according to Susquehanna’s research. Lead times also increased by a week and a half for power-management components. Both are essential parts of many electronics, including car components.

The global shortage of semiconductors began in the first half of 2020, driven by pandemic-fueled demand for consumer technology and vehicles. The scarcity of chips has held back production of everything from smartphones to pickup trucks, leading to billions in lost revenue and contributing to inflation by raising costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ukraine is a major supplier of neon gas. It’s an essential component for the production of semiconductors. The war in Ukraine is therefore contributing to the shortfall in supply. At the same time, the increased demand for all sources, including military are inhibiting the balancing out of the market.



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March 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powering Up

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

For the grid to work, supply must match demand – all the time. “There are already times when we produce so much green electricity, we don’t know what to do with it,” says Hartman. “That can be in the middle of the day when the sun is shining, or in the middle of the night when we are not using so much electricity, but we are producing a lot from wind turbines.” At certain times, energy goes to waste; producers are paid to take capacity offline.

On the other hand, the vagaries of the weather mean generation can fall short of expectations as well. For instance, on rare occasions both Germany and the UK have experienced ‘not much sun’ and ‘not much wind’, so respective energy outputs slumped at the same time. Hence the hive of research activity around energy storage. Behind it is a key idea: if storage can be made cheap enough, dense enough and extensive enough, it becomes viable to operate an energy mix with a much higher percentage of renewables.

This is driving deployment of grid-scale storage; something companies like Tesla, LG Chem and Samsung are anticipating as they construct battery megafactories around the world15 (see Figure 4). Combining renewables with large, preassembled battery units to store excess power, with energy fed back into the grid when demand requires it, has taken off.

The relative attractiveness of this has shifted “seismically” recently, according to energy consultancy Wood MacKenzie.17 Producing energy using solar and wind power already undercuts natural gas on a levelised cost basis (see Figure 5) and recent discoveries suggest further efficiency gains are possible.

Henry Snaith, professor of physics at the University of Oxford, describes solar “being in 1965 in silicon technology terms,” for example, with “lots of room to improve”. (In Search of Wild Solutions has more details.) Now battery costs have fallen rapidly as well, so ‘solar PV + large-scale battery storage’ are cheaper than ‘solar PV + natural gas’ as back-up to meet peak demand.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Large numbers of battery factories are under construction. When they come on line, it will represent a voracious appetite for everything from copper, nickel, manganese and lithium to steel and aluminium. Between now and then there is still time to argue about the extent of the bull market.



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March 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple Supplier Foxconn in Talks to Build $9 Billion Factory in Saudi Arabia

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

The Saudis are conducting due diligence and benchmarking the offer against others that Foxconn has made for similar projects globally, one of the people said.

Besides Saudi Arabia, Foxconn is also talking with the United Arab Emirates about potentially siting the project there, one of the people said.

The Taiwan-based company has looked to diversify its manufacturing sites amid rising tensions between China and the U.S. that put it in a potentially vulnerable spot.

Riyadh wants the company to guarantee that it would direct at least two-thirds of the foundry's production into Foxconn's existing supply chain, one of the people said, to ensure there are buyers for its products and the project is ultimately profitable.

Foxconn is seeking large incentives including financing, tax holidays and subsidies for power and water in exchange for helping set up a high-tech manufacturing sector in the kingdom, the people said, as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy away from oil.

The Saudis could offer direct equity co-investment, industrial development loans, low-interest debt from local banks and export credits to compete with other jurisdictions that Foxconn might consider, said another person familiar with the talks.

Saudi authorities and Foxconn didn't respond to requests for comment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Pandemic exiles leaving Hong Kong brought COVID-19 with them to Shenzhen. The city and its environs have been locked down which is impacting the ability of component suppliers to perform at peak capacity.



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March 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cathie Wood's ARKK Lures Almost $1 Billion Even as ETF Sells Off

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

But for some investors, “it’s opportunistic investing,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. “Maybe it’s an opportunity to rebalance and buy some of these big-name, good companies that have been in this correction and the prices are cheaper.”

The S&P 500 is on pace to notch its second consecutive week lower, but retail traders haven’t been deterred by the volatility. They’ve become a reliable support pillar for the market, plowing cash toward stocks for nine straight weeks.

Partly, it’s a habit developed during the Covid-19 crash -- and one that’s proving stickier than many expected. Back then, buying during the March lows proved very profitable, including
for ARKK enthusiasts. 

Gaffney says there’s a swath of investors who are wary of missing out on any other potential big run-ups in prices. “You always get some people who feel like, ‘I missed out on the last big run, and I’m not going to miss that again, so I’m going to get in now when prices are cheap.’”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

In a secular bull market buying the dip always works. It becomes engrained as the go-to strategy for investors to get a position at a discount. As interest returns, the assets leading the secular trend break higher, the decision is vindicated and buying the next dip becomes an even easier decision. One way to know that a bull market is over, is the buy-the-dip trade fails.



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March 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volatility Grips Chinese Tech Shares Again as Traders On Edde

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

Chinese tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in the past year. Beijing’s clampdown on private enterprise appeared to intensify in recent weeks after authorities required food delivery platforms to cut fees they charge restaurants and warned of risks in investing in products
linked to the metaverse.

Since its February 2021 peak, the China tech gauge has slumped nearly 60%. Adding to the fragile sentiment are concerns about a potential interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve next week and elevated commodity prices fueled by the war in Ukraine.
 
“Investors may be looking to sell growth names into the brief rallies to reduce their risk exposure, given multiple headwinds including Russia and the upcoming rate hikes,” said Vey-Sern Ling, a senior analyst at Union Bancaire Privee.

Eoin Treacy's view -

JD.com reported strong 2021 earnings but guidance was the share’s downfall today. This is a trend which troubled many US growth companies during earnings season as well. Keeping up pandemic era growth when liquidity is less available, and the real world is competing for attention versus screens, is a tall order. JD.com broke lower on the news.



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March 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

President Biden to Sign Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets

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

Explore a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by placing urgency on research and development of a potential United States CBDC, should issuance be deemed in the national interest. The Order directs the U.S. Government to assess the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests. The Order also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development, and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work. This effort prioritizes U.S. participation in multi-country experimentation, and ensures U.S. leadership internationally to promote CBDC development that is consistent with U.S. priorities and democratic values.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This announcement does not propose anything new. The Federal Reserve has been investigating the merit of a central bank digital currency for years already. The reason the crypto sector responded favourably to this announcement is because of its enthusiasm about the future of digital assets. 



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March 08 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Satellite outage knocks out thousands of Enercon's wind turbines

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

Germany's Enercon on Monday said a "massive disruption" of satellite connections in Europe was affecting the operations of 5,800 wind turbines in central Europe.

It said the satellite connections stopped working on Thursday, knocking out remote monitoring and control of the wind turbines, which have a total capacity of 11 gigawatt (GW).

"The exact cause of the disruption is not yet known. The communication services failed almost simultaneously with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine," Enercon said in a statement.

The company said it had no further information on who or what may have caused the disruption.

Enercon has informed Germany's cybersecurity watchdog BSI and is working with the relevant providers of the satellite communication networks to resolve the disruption, which it said affected around 30,000 satellite terminals used by companies and organisations from various sectors across Europe.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Priorities change. When prices are low consumers value choice and comfort. When prices are high, they value efficiency. When supply is threatened, they will value resiliency.



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March 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review March 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

When Wall Street indices were breaking out to new highs in 2012/13 the world looked to be on the cusp of a golden era of globalisation, co-operation, and the inevitable rise of the middle class. Higher living standards would breed a more tolerant society with greater respect for the environment and for our fellow global citizens.

In predicting a secular bull market, we were correct about the market call. Wall Street and the FANGMANT stocks have outperformed global indices by a wide margin over the last decade. It was also correct to expect oil to underperform because of the bounty arising from shale oil and gas. Predicting a decade ago that the USA would become energy independent was seen as maverick. Today it’s a fact.

The social upheaval that began with the monetary and regulatory response to the credit crisis represents a significant threat to the utopian ideal of the everyman. Exporting job security in return for cheap products has hollowed out the middle class in most developed countries. The evolution of the subscription business model has also reduced individuals to cash flows; where ownership of hard assets is marketed as an outdated concept. This has contributed to significant social upheaval and the response to the coronavirus pandemic amplified it.  

At the same time, the trend of geopolitical tension continues to rise. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of people, companies and countries is creating greater competition. China is much more active in staking its claim to global trade than in the past and Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine is reflective of a desperate need for both security and relevance in a world that is actively working to use less of its primary export; oil.



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March 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hacktivists Are Piercing Russia's Propaganda Bubble

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

 

Moscow users of Google Maps were greeted earlier this week with something they rarely see: photos of horrific scenes from Ukraine, including bombed out homes and injured civilians, and of captured Russian soldiers. The images showed up in the “latest photos” tab of landmarks on the app until Google blocked new photos from its maps of the region this week.  

While a blockbuster cyber-attack from Russia has so far failed to materialize, hacktivists have waged dozens of digital skirmishes. The Ukrainian government has created a volunteer “IT Army,” attracting hundreds of thousands of people who have knocked major Russian websites offline and helped distribute an air raid siren app. Never before has a government crowdsourced hacktivists in this way, and in a country already teeming with expertise; Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest markets for remote software engineers, with an estimated 200,000 tech employees. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Foreign citizens willing to sign up to the cause of freedom from oppression or the cause of standing up for their common values is as old as war itself. Legions of people all over Europe signed up to fight in the Spanish civil war, on both sides. ISIS successfully recruited adherents through YouTube videos.

In the digital age, the ability of individuals to harry countries is amplified by the skill sets of IT workers. Only two weeks ago there was the story of the IT professional who was waging war on the North Korea internet single-handedly. His efforts were in retribution for them hacking him and the FBI doing nothing to held.



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February 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Boosts Liquidity by Most Since 2020 Amid Ukraine Conflict

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

“The injection is in response to tighter liquidity condition at month-end and also to send a reminder that the easing cycle is still under way,” said Ken Cheung, chief Asia FX strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. “The geopolitical tensions posed mounting uncertainties and banks may have preference to keep extra liquidity.”

China’s seven-day repo rate had risen to its highest in nearly a month on Thursday, signaling cash tightness in the financial system. The demand for cash typically increases toward the end of the month as corporates borrow to pay taxes and banks hoard funds for regulatory checks.

The PBOC made net injections of 190 billion yuan each into the banking system in the previous two sessions to alleviate the cash crunch. It had been draining liquidity in the last two weeks, which is what it tends to do after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The post Lunar New Year period is traditionally when China makes liquidity available. This year it has the added need to support the ailing property sector and the wider economy from the uncertainty of war in Europe. Alibaba’s weak guidance also suggests the Chinese consumer is becoming more risk averse. That puts China’s growth target in jeopardy and suggests more liquidity will be made available than usual.



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February 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Intel Chip Challenges Reign of China's Bitcoin-Mining Firms

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

Bitcoin mining, which is earning rewards in Bitcoin by using computers to secure the cryptocurrency’s network, has become a lucrative business amid the surge in the price of Bitcoin in recent years, enriching the rig makers along the way. The mining industry raked in $15 billion in revenue in 2021, more than double the previous year, according to research from The Block. 

Intel’s entry could weaken the Chinese manufacturers’ pricing power and offer better maintenance services given the company’s close proximity to the miners in North America, industry participants said. The region dethroned China as the world’s Bitcoin mining hub as Beijing banned crypto mining last May.

“Having a U.S.-based manufacturer with the size, scale and credibility like Intel is fantastic for the entire crypto industry,” said Dave Perrill, chief executive of Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Compute North, which provides Bitcoin miners with data centers to operate their machines. “Competition is a good thing.”      

Eoin Treacy's view -

NVidia has prospered because GPUs are deployed in mining cryptocurrencies. That has been one of the primary factors in supporting the outsized valuation for the company despite the fact its primary business is in gaming and datacentres. Intel directly exploring the market for crypto mining, as well as launching its own suite of GPUs last month is an attempt to steal market share.



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February 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Search Is Dying

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

Appendix 3: Seriously, what are you talking about? My search results are perfect.

If you think your search results are perfect (without appending reddit), then you're probably right. If every single person agreed that Google search results were trash, then Google would already be bankrupt.

Perhaps it is more likely that 80% of people think Google is good enough, and 20% think Google sucks.

I do suspect that the 20% will be growing in number though.

Appendix 4: *Yawn*, this is the 87th time someone has claimed that Google search is dying in the last 20 years. This is a big meme in the SEO world.

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" - Google, probably

You're right, there's been a new article bashing Google every few months for the last 20 years straight. It's probably nothing.

Still, it is a bit interesting that this short and simple post is now one of the most upvoted things of all time on Hacker News. There must be a lot of people who resonate with it this time around.

Hard to tell if something significant has changed.

Appendix 5: Random redditor explains it succinctly

u/a_latvian_potato:

I think I understand what this article is trying to say. It's not saying that Google's search technology is worse or that people don't use Google to search. It's saying that people trust less of the results Google shows compared to seeing discussions of it on Reddit.

For instance, if I'm looking to see reviews of the Honda Civic 2022 or whatever, I do find myself typing "Honda Civic review reddit" instead of "Honda Civic review". This is because I want to see what real people and enthusiasts (on r/cars or whatever) are talking about the car, rather than the top results at Google which are basically just paid reviews advertising the car anyway.

Even though I kinda know people in Reddit are just as capable of spouting BS that are completely wrong, I find the discussions more authentic anyway than the corporate speak the "big websites" have on their articles that Google shows me.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have also noticed the quality of search results on Google has deteriorated. A great deal of scrolling is required to get past ads. That’s particularly true for commercial search terms.



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February 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lithium Stock Livent Is Soaring. Strong Earnings and Guidance Looked 'Easy

This article from Barron’s may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Looking ahead for 2022, Livent expects to generate about $180 million in Ebitda, short for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, on about $570 million in sales. Analysts were projecting closer to $160 million in Ebitda on $515 million in sales.

“Sometimes it’s really that easy,” wrote Evercore ISI analyst Stephen Richardson in a Thursday report. He was referring to the relatively clean quarter Livent just reported.

Albemarle’s quarter wasn’t as easy to digest. Richardson wrote earlier on Thursday that Albemarle’s volume and earnings guidance was better than he expected, but that the company’s guidance for costs and capital spending would be a drag on 2022 cash flow.

He is staying positive on both stocks. He rates Albemarle stock at Buy with a $295 price target. He didn’t adjust he price target after the company’s quarterly hiccup. Richardson actually put Albemarle stock on his “tactical outperform list” Friday.

“The confusion from [Albemarle] investors came largely on the cost line which lead some to believe this was a structural step-up in costs [and] lower margins, and was a new permanent aspect of the business,” wrote the analyst. “We think none of this is indeed true.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lithium price has been accelerating higher. It’s a classic supply inelasticity meets rising demand market. Growing demand for electric vehicles and energy storage solutions is bumping up against a slow supply response.



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February 18 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beware PayPal's New Fees for $100 Crypto Trades

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

Got some pocket change you want to throw at crypto? It won’t go as far on Venmo.

Venmo and its parent PayPal Holdings Inc. alerted their users earlier this week that they’re changing their fees for crypto transactions under $200. While the companies said the pricing adjustments were just an effort to provide investors with more transparency, a closer look shows any customer making transactions of $100 or less will be a lot worse off.

The online payment platforms started offering customers the ability to buy, sell and hold four cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash) last year. Since then, Venmo’s cryptocurrency wallet has nabbed 18% of global market share for active wallets with payment features, making it the third most popular site as of late last year. PayPal was No. 1.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How many crypto trading venues will ultimately survive is an open question but it is certainly likely to be fewer than exist today. One thing is certain, raising fees isn’t likely to encourage users to use the platform, much less find new customers. That’s doubly true in a troubled pricing environment for the sector.



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February 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Margin-Growth Fatigue a New Pressure Point for S&P: Taking Stock

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

Analysts have cut their profit-margin expectations for 75% of industries and about half of companies in the S&P 500 for the first and second quarters, data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence show. Companies’ wherewithal to defend profitability amid mounting pricing pressures is becoming a growing issue at a time when the hottest inflation in four decades and higher borrowing costs threaten to crimp growth.

Anxiety about a faster-than-expected wind-down to the Federal Reserve’s asset-buying program and a quicker pace of rate hikes has pushed sell-side analysts to cut their first-quarter profit growth expectations to 5.4% last week from 6.7% in the first week of January. That figure, too, looks set to drop further to 3.5%, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence model that tracks the correlation between analysts’ pre-season forecasts and actual profit growth in the past two years.

“Negative revision momentum may remain a weight on stocks in the weeks ahead,” said Gina Martin Adams, chief equity strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence. “Improving top-line growth views are still offset by inflation pressure.”

More than 70% of S&P 500 companies are done with their earnings announcements. Among those that have already reported, 76% have outpaced analysts’ profit estimates, the lowest rate of beats since the first quarter of 2020.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Over the last few quarters companies have been comfortable passing on costs to consumers. Many have also taken the opportunity to increase margins at the same time. Politicians taking to social media and blaming inflation on record high corporate profits strikes a chord with the personal experience of many consumers. It suggests companies have seen the easy part of raising prices, continuing from here is going to be more difficult.



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February 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The rise of private markets

This report from the Bank of International Settlements may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

External financing is increasingly intermediated outside traditional channels. Banks and other institutions active in public capital markets, such as equity and corporate bond mutual funds, remain key financing sources for large and mature corporates. That said, “alternative asset managers” (AAMs) have become pivotal for smaller firms globally, including in emerging market economies (EMEs). Many AAMs were established as private equity firms that later expanded into credit, thus turning themselves into one-stop capital providers for firms less able or willing to access traditional sources.

Private markets have three features that distinguish them from public markets. First, there is limited liquidity transformation because investors commit capital for extended periods. Second, these investors tend to be large and sophisticated entities such as pension funds, whose focus on long-term returns enables target companies to confront significant earnings volatility. Third, the regulation of private market investment vehicles is relatively light, partly reflecting the lesser degree of liquidity mismatches and also the limited presence of retail investors.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lack of regulation in the private markets is seen by many investors as a positive aspect. The challenge for the future is large pension funds are highly active in the sector. They might have long-term liabilities but they also have a long-term need for yield. The private sector has been particularly attractive because they have gained both portfolio diversification and higher returns. 



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February 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shopify Plummets Most Since 2020 on Slowing Growth Outlook

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

Shopify Inc. plunged the most in almost two years after giving a weaker outlook for growth this year, as online spending resets after the Covid-19 induced boom and consumers face higher inflation. 

“The Covid-triggered acceleration of ecommerce that spilled into the first half of 2021 in the form of lockdowns and government stimulus will be absent from 2022,” the Canadian ecommerce giant said in a statement on Wednesday. “There is caution around inflation and consumer spend near term, for the full year.”

As a result, Shopify said full year revenue growth will be lower than the 57% increase in 2021. The U.S.-traded shares tumbled as much as 16% as the market opened in New York. It was the biggest intraday decline since March 2020. 

Shopify, which provides software and other services that underpin the websites of many small businesses, grew dramatically during the early stages of the pandemic, with sales jumping 86% in 2020. Investors, however, fear the company can’t sustain its growth as shoppers return to more normal buying patterns. Those concerns intensified last month when Shopify said it had terminated contracts with several warehouse and fulfillment partners, sending shares to a 16-month low. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The justification for Shopify’s heady valuation was that it would become a true competitor for Amazon. The folly of that has been exposed by the pullback from fulfilment centres. From a broader perspective the big question is about a central hub versus distributed model.



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February 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tech Questions for 2022

This article by Benedict Evans may be of interest to subscribers. I found the summary of the outlook for electric and autonomous vehicles to be about the best I’ve seen recently:

The car industry is shifting to electric, and that changes a lot of what a car is - there’s an order of magnitude fewer moving parts, a very different supplier base, and much of the sophistication moves to software. We go from complex cars with simple software to simple cars with complex software. 

Seen from tech, this looks a lot like the smartphone take-over of mobile phones, and there’s a lot of pattern recognition, right down to the dumb old industrial companies that think software is easy and they can just hire some developers. But it’s not yet entirely clear whether this really is disruption. An electric car is a better car but an iPhone is not a better Blackberry - it’s an entirely different thing that happens to be roughly the same size. So how much does electric really rewrite car manufacturing? Bulls think Tesla is a software company (and lots of other things), but bears think that no, it’s still a car company. 

Autonomy is potentially much more profound and disruptive, and really does change what a car is - a car with no steering wheel is not really a car anymore. That raises as many questions as cars themselves did (it was much easier to predict mass car-ownership than to predict Walmart), and the tech itself remains full of questions. Can Tesla boot-strap its way through to something that works well enough? Will Waymo get there first going top-down? Are there winner-takes-all effects?

But more importantly, we don’t know when, how or where any of this will work. There was a period of euphoria a few years ago when AVs looked imminent, but it may now be that autonomy is like the old joke that AI is anything that doesn’t work yet. ‘Full’ autonomy may be as many decades away as ‘general AI’ (indeed it might require general AI!) but we’ll get all sorts of much more limited automation in the meantime. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The reason Tesla has achieved a $1 trillion valuation is because it is a favoured trading vehicle (pardon the pun) for options traders. That has created synthetic demand for the shares and supported the valuation. Nevertheless, promise of “full self-driving” keeps being pushed back. The company’s autonomy day was nearly 3 years ago



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February 15 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coinbase Swears This All Isn't Like the Dotcom Bubble After Super Bowl Ad SNAFU

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

Coinbase, in one ad named WAGMI (“we're all going to make it”), crafted an advertisement that bounced a QR code around the screen, changing colors each time it hit the edge like an old-school DVD menu. Scanning the QR code―which immediately forfeits your right to enter heaven―takes the user to this page, where Coinbase offers $15 in Bitcoin for signing up as well as a chance to enter a contest to win one of three prizes for $1 million worth of Bitcoin.

The linked webpage went down almost immediately thanks to the increased traffic from the ad, and ridicule at the idea of paying millions of dollars to send millions of viewers to a down site poured in from around the web.  “Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Superbowl ad to direct people to their website and $0 to make sure that website doesn't crash 10 seconds after the ad starts is so very internet,” tweeted Edward Snowden amid the outage.

To Coinbase, though, the ad was a success. In a blog post congratulating itself on the advertisement and interviewing Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch about why the ad was so good, the company revealed it saw "20M+ hits on our landing page in one minute" which "led to us temporarily throttling our systems." Chief executive Brian Armstrong took to Twitter to gloat about the ad: ranked #1 by AdWeek and peaking at #2 in the Apple App Store, just ahead of apps for the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show and the NFL.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The offer was still live today when I visited it and offers $15 in bitcoin for signing up. For anyone looking for why bitcoin popped on the upside yesterday, despite stocks falling, we don’t have to look much further than the Superbowl ad.



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February 09 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EU rolls out a red carpet for TSMC and other semiconductor giants

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

The European Union announced a blueprint on Tuesday to make one-fifth of the world's microchips, saying it was "open for business" to semiconductor giants from Taiwan and other industry leaders.

The European Chips Act provides at least Euro42 billion (US$48 billion) by 2030 in public and private sector capital behind an ambitious plan to effectively double the bloc's chip production, to 20 per cent of the global supply of semiconductors, the tiny processing units that will power the industries of the future.

Currently, the bloc produces 10 per cent of the world's supply, few of which are considered to be cutting-edge.

Eoin Treacy's view -

$20 billion from Intel, $38 billion from Taiwan Semiconductor, $40 billion from Taiwan Semiconductors this year represents a massive increase in potential supply of both chips and memory.



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February 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on gold, governance, trading, and uncertainty

A bad back currently prevents me golfing, walking the dog, or driving the car and, in my opinion justifiably, I am feeling a grumpy.

So here are a few gripes for you:

First gold:
For several years you taught us that the gold price follows an approximate 35-year cycle between highs, although the gold price could outpace stock indexes for short periods in between those highs. We’ve not heard too much about the 35-year cycle for a while, the message now being that it is not unusual for gold to trade in a boring range for up to 18 months or so before breaking out conclusively up or down. You believe it will break to the upside taking out previous highs (which runs contrary to your 35-year cycle theory). I hold a fair chunk of gold and silver miners in ETFs but regard the holding as a hedge rather than representing a belief that gold will imminently break to the upside. It might and it would be nice if it did but I doubt it. As David said, investment options are similar to a beauty parade and for the foreseeable future, many options are likely to look superior to gold.

Second India v China:
You are very hard on China and its political system. Having lived most of my life in Asia I take a less severe view. Like most observers I was disappointed to see that XI, the reformer, had no intention of political reform but on reflection, I think he’s probably right to opt for political stability at a time when China is still struggling to bring modernity to all its people and regions; when lightening-speed technological change is taking place across the globe and when it finds itself in an inevitable struggle to assert what it regards as its rightful influence on global institutions and practices. On a smaller scale in Singapore Lee Kuan Yew did much the same thing and while there is now a little more political tolerance in Singapore than there was, the Government – and most of its people – believe that full-throated democracy would lead to economic and societal break-down. That would be Xi’s worst nightmare.

My grouse is not so much with your view on China but with your uncritical view of India. I agree with you that India should do well given its demographic advantage and talents of its people. However, I think the Modi government is quite repugnant in its covert – and not so covert – support of extremist Hindu nationalism represented by terrorisation of the Muslim and Christian communities, and by its appalling failure to do much about the abuse of women, also fuelled by Hindu extremists. In the medium term, I fear this, together with over-dependence on coal, will limit India’s investment appeal and therefore its economic potential.

To declare my investment positions, I have reduced my exposure to India and wait for an opportunity to reinvest in China. My favourite Asian market currently is Vietnam.

Third, the purpose of your ‘service’:
Under David’s direction, Fuller Money provided objective macro oversights together with some trading suggestions/recommendations and some investment suggestions/recommendations. He often put his money where his mouth was and invested in his recommendations. Towards the end of his career, he stopped publishing his investment portfolio which I regarded as a pity. Under your direction, Fuller-Treacy Money continues to provide objective (if sometimes convoluted and long-winded) macro oversights, but I find it difficult to work out whether beyond that you are offering trading hints or investment hints. I use the word ‘hints’ rather than ‘suggestions’ because in this aspect you are far more non-committal on specifics than was David. The details you provide of your own investment activities suggest that you are a trader with long(ish) term investments in gold bullion, gold miners and Rolls Royce. I made several profitable purchases based on David’s recommendations but so far have identified none under your watch.

Fourth Daily Audio and Video:
From emails you have referred to from other subscribers, I am confident that I am not alone in being irritated by several of your constant refrains. Three which particularly annoy me are ‘The big question is ….’ (to which we never get an answer); ‘[Gold (for example) has a lot of work to do’ (which is a nonsense, better to identify factors which might influence buying/selling decisions) and; ‘I can’t talk and chew gum at the same time’ (which sounds quite catchy heard for the first time, but grates increasingly after many repetitions).

So, getting that off my chest makes me feel slightly less out of sorts. I shall be renewing my subscription in March. It’s been part of my routine for too long.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email, your long-term support and I hope you back feels better soon. If it is muscular, rather than a herniation, I strongly recommend Yunnan Baiyao. I’ve pulled muscles in my lower back on several occasions either playing tennis or lifting. If it is taken quickly after injury, it provides a powerful, quick solution with no side effects I have experienced. 

I began questioning the wisdom of relying on the Dow/Gold ratio during the early stages of the pandemic. Here is a link to Comment of the Day on April 24th 2020. It includes a large number of long-term ratios and concluded that the Dow Jones Industrials Average is no longer the best way to look at the long-term ratio, confirmed concentration of attention in the growth sector, predicted the recovery in oil prices, higher wages, and the return of inflation.



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February 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Notches Longest Rally Since September; Shiba Inu Jumps

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

The break above $43,000 could cause the current up move to target toward the $45,000 level, according to Nathan Batchelor, lead Bitcoin analyst for SIMETRI Research. 

“People are starting to feel a little more comfortable dipping their toes back into some of these riskier asset classes after the pullback,” Lindsey Bell, chief markets, and money strategist at Ally Financial Inc., said. However, Bell says the market in general isn’t necessarily out of the water yet with lingering uncertainty on multiple fronts, including the speed at which the Federal Reserve and central banks could act to quell rising inflation.

A strengthening relationship between Bitcoin and the stock indices has emerged in recent months, particularly with the technology heavy Nasdaq 100 index. The correlation between the Nasdaq and Bitcoin currently stands at 0.43.

Gritt Trakulhoon, an investment analyst at Titan Global Capital Management USA Inc., said the dramatic rise in Shiba Inu could be attributed to development progress on a blockchain add-on, known as a layer-2 network, specifically designed for the token called Shibarium. The memecoin is based on the Ethereum blockchain.

“It doesn’t take a lot of effort to push them higher or lower,” Bell said. “Because Bitcoin is such a large market cap and more liquid than some of these other ones, in a way -- it’s not necessarily stable -- but it’s more stable than some of the other ones.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Buying the dip is an almost instinctual action for investors and particularly following 50% in bitcoin. There is still a great deal of cash in the financial system and dry powder in the private equity sector totals trillions. At least some of that money is now flowing back into the crypto sector as risk appetite begins to recover.



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February 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review February 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The biggest trend in the world isn’t bitcoin or the FANGMAN stocks. It’s bonds. Yields peaked in 1980 and the cost of borrowing has done nothing but decline since.

That’s enabled the steady rise of leverage, debt accumulation, asset price appreciation, speculation in all manner of public and private assets and every other bull market too.

The exact mix of where the debts have accumulated most is different in each country. For the USA, fiscal excess and unfunded liabilities are the biggest debt issue. The large number of companies surviving with no profits is the second biggest debt issue.

In Australia, Canada and the UK, consumer debt ratios, household debt and property debt are the pain points. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s reluctance to raise rates, despite inflation, is a symptom of the economy’s reliance on property prices.

For China, the accumulation of debt in the property sector has been epic. The sector represents 30% of GDP. At least in Japan, the massive quantity of debt is held domestically but it is a significant hurdle to raising rates.



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February 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Meta Faces Historic Stock Rout After Facebook Growth Stalled

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-02/facebook-shares-plunge-as-users-stall-forecast-falls-short?sref=g4EhC0E7

This quarter’s sales forecast also disappointed Wall Street and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his personal wealth potentially plummet about $24 billion, acknowledged that Meta is facing serious competition for user time and attention, particularly from viral video-sharing app TikTok.
 
The dour outlook and stalled user momentum mark a dramatic turnaround for a company that has posted share gains in every year but one since its 2012 IPO, stoking concern that Meta Platforms flagship product and core advertising moneymaker has plateaued after years of consistent gains. 

“These cuts run deep,” wrote Michael Nathanson, an analyst at brokerage Moffett Nathanson, who titled his note “Facebook: The Beginning of the End?” The results were “a headline grabber
and not in a good way.”  Zuckerberg said Meta’s rival to TikTok, Reels, is growing quickly, but monetization has been slow. He asked investors for patience as the product ramps up.

“Over time we think that there is potential for a tremendous amount of overall engagement growth” with Reels, he said on a conference call Wednesday. “We think it’s definitely the right thing to lean into this and push as hard to grow Reels as quickly as possible and not hold on the brakes at all, even though it may create some near-term slower growth than we would have wanted.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Does anyone remember Vine? It was the big short form video app of the early social media age and folded because it could not think of a way to make money. Musical.ly and later TikTok slid into that niche and effectively captured the generation Z demographic.



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February 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mega-cap Influence

This note from a Bloomberg blog helps to put today’s price action into perspective.

Alphabet Inc.’s brisk rally on Wall Street on Wednesday is giving a boost to the Nasdaq 100 Index, still reeling from last month’s selloff in tech stocks. Shares in the Google parent are surging after it announced a stock split and posted quarterly sales and profit that topped analysts’ projections, signaling the resilience of its advertising business. The gains in Alphabet shares -- the third biggest stock on the Nasdaq 100 with a weighting of 7.4% -- account for most of the rise on the index on the day.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple warned about its ability to fulfill orders before Christmas and subsequently was able to beat that projection. The share jumped on the news but guidance was for slower growth in Q2.



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January 31 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Ideas 2022

This aspirational report from ARK Invest highlights the arguments they have been making for the last couple of years about the promise of the innovation sector.

When has investing not been about the future? Change appears to happen slowly and then all at once. Over time, innovation should displace industry incumbents, increase efficiencies, and gain majority market share. With the right understanding of disruptive innovation and a long-term time horizon, we believe investors will capture exponential growth opportunities, which deserve a strategic allocation in their portfolios. For this reason, ARK focuses on opportunities likely to scale as technologies converge, transforming entire industries.

To enlighten investors on the impact of breakthrough technologies we began publishing Big Ideas in 2017. This annual research report seeks to highlight our most provocative research conclusions for the coming year. We hope you enjoy our Big Ideas for 2022.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I’m not going to spend the time required to poke through the holes and validity of the arguments laid out in this report. It would take too much time and I’m not sure if it would add any value. 

From an investment perspective innovation and momentum are analogous. Investors are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to incredibly optimistic visions of the future, provided the discount rate is close to zero. When rates rise the duration of optimism shortens and potential for profits comes back into focus. 

 



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the green revolution

Thanks for the great service pulling the noise out of market trends for us. We especially enjoy what my wife affectionately calls the “Big Picture Long-Winded” Friday recordings. Regarding the possible rotation into the renewable/green economy do you have any ideas on Industries/companies that could benefit from the build out? Or would the safer play be directly in the commodities needed for the grid, vehicles, batteries, and such? Hoping to get to another Chart Seminar before too long.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. A former delegate at The Chart Seminar once described my sense of humour as “impish” and I can’t argue with that. Your better half’s turn of phrase certainly tickled me. The Friday broadcasts are often a delicate balance between trying to be pithy and attempting to cover the relevant arguments. I’m looking at a late May/early June date for a London seminar and I hope to see you there.

The question of the future of the zero carbon/green revolution/energy transition is a big one. On one hand we have high minded projections of a utopian future where the air is pristine and no economy is dependent on carbon emissions for growth. Promises of hundreds of trillions being spent to achieve that goal were a major feature of international conferences in 2021.



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January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 28 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Value Stocks, U.S. Dollar Among Top Trades After Hawkish Fed

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

“The Fed’s latest update is net negative for risk assets, as it seems to show that the Fed has a lower strike put than we thought - in other words Powell would be comfortable to allow further market weakness and volatility without intervening,” said Altaf Kassam, EMEA head of investment strategy and research at State Street Global Advisors.

“Investors should continue to avoid developed markets government bonds as there is only downside there. We are rotating into defensive equities, long-dated U.S. Treasuries, commodities and VIX futures - Volatility will be here for a while.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed is talking about raising rates faster than any other developed market central bank. That represents a strong tailwind for the Dollar Index and it broke upwards to new recovery highs today. This has been a consistent rebound from the lower side of the range and nothing has yet happened to question potential for a run back towards the psychological 100 level.



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January 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin billionaire Mike Novogratz says plunging crypto will have a hard time rallying until stocks find a base

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

Billionaire investor Mike Novogratz has said cryptocurrencies will struggle to pull out of their sell-off if stocks keep falling, as he urged investors not to buy the dip.

Prices for bitcoin, ether and other digital currencies have fallen sharply across the board as they track Wall Street's rout in tech stocks, driven by pressure from rising bond yields.

"Crypto will have a hard time rallying until stocks find a base," Novogratz, CEO of investment company Galaxy Digital, tweeted late Thursday.

Novogratz pointed to the sharp fall in the Russell index, which is down almost 10% year to date, saying there are 1.2 trillion bad equity longs above the market.

"This is now a bear market," he said, adding: "Sell rallies.  Don't buy dips."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Doubts about whether bitcoin is a risk asset or a safe haven have been dispelled over night as bitcoin followed the stock market to new lows. That’s an important distinction because the primary comparison between bitcoin and gold over the last couple of years is they are both long-term stores of value. Recent action suggests that belief is wrong.



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January 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Logical inconsistencies

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are times in the market when a comparison between two assets classes serves to highlight a disparity that has become so wide that it inspires a sense of wonder, confusion and questioning

In December 2020 there was a news headline to the effect that Tesla’s market cap was greater than that of the next 9 largest car companies combined. There are two ways of thinking about that statistic. The first is enthusiasm for Tesla shares was running at fever pitch. The second was that the other auto companies were cheap by comparison.



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January 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Dow Theory for the 21st century

Hope you and the family are well Eoin, no doubt your children are pretty grown up now, although probably still on the payroll.

I know David would have been fascinated with the ‘Capitulation Indicator’, that forms part of a ‘Dow Theory Buy Signal’, so I attach my 2-page note on that indicator also. It dovetails well with the ‘Dynamic’ move at the ned of a bear markets that he looked for. I was sorry to hear of his passing, way too early in life.

Feel free to share both of the above attachments, if you deem them of interest to your own subscriber base.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for generously sharing your two research reports. My girls (13&15) are certainly still on the payroll and continue to demand higher wages ????. I agree David would have appreciated the data on capitulations in the stock market over the last 80 years. His identification of acceleration as always being a trend ending is perhaps one of the most useful of observations as well as dynamic moves representing points of interest for the investment crowd to denote change.



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January 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biggest Bitcoin Fund Sinks Toward 30% Discount in Crypto Selloff

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

One of the biggest casualties of the cryptocurrency selloff is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. 
The $27 billion fund (ticker GBTC) has plunged nearly 17% so far in 2022, outpacing Bitcoin’s nearly 9% decline. As a result, GBTC’s price closed 26.5% below the value of the Bitcoin it holds on Tuesday, widening GBTC’s so-called discount to record levels, according to Bloomberg data.

It’s a dynamic that’s plagued GBTC for months. The trust doesn’t allow for share redemptions in the same manner as an exchange-traded fund, meaning that the supply of shares can’t be created and destroyed with shifting demand. Grayscale Investment LLC applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission in October to convert GBTC into an ETF -- which is expected to quickly repair the discount -- but regulators have yet to approve a physically-backed Bitcoin fund.

“GBTC keeps breaking hearts as the discount widens,” Brent Donnelly, president of Spectra Markets, wrote in a report. “GBTC is basically a binary bet on a physical ETF at this point. Tempting but tempting the way value traps can be tempting.”

GBTC first fell into a discount last February as the number of shares outstanding skyrocketed, after years of trading at a premium to Bitcoin. However, the launch of Bitcoin ETFs in Canada and the first U.S. derivatives-backed Bitcoin ETFs eroded GBTC’s competitive advantage. Grayscale’s parent company,
Digital Currency Group, has sought to repair the discount by buying back GBTC shares.

GBTC’s price has dislocated from Bitcoin to an even greater degree than the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), which is vulnerable to tracking errors given that it holds futures contracts. While Bitcoin rallied 1.6% on Tuesday, BITO and GBTC fell 3.3% and 6.4%, respectively. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Grayscale bitcoin closed end fund was the only avenue for institutions to buy bitcoin for years. That’s not longer true. Several ETFs are now available so the relative value discussion is now possible. That’s weighing the fund because of its high fees. It has an expense ratio of 2%. By comparison, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF has an expense ratio of 0.95% so it has attracted funds quickly and not least because it is also open to retail investors.



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January 19 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evolving top formations

Eoin Treacy's view -

The swift run-up in government bond yields is curtailing risk appetite. More importantly it reintroduces the discount rate in the calculation of fundamental value. When money is both free and available in vast quantities, the discount rate on future cashflows goes to infinity. At that point, the most fanciful valuations are accepted as realisable because the time allowed to fulfill the goal is infinite. Higher rates reintroduce a time value of money argument and forces valuations down. That has resulted in a significant correct for many liquidity-dependent sectors.  



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January 17 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Selling Out

Thanks to a subscriber for this latest memo from Howard Marks which concentrates on selling. Here is a section:

Many people have remarked on the wonders of compounding. For example, Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” If $1 could be invested today at the historic compound return of 10.5% per year, it would grow to $147 in 50 years. One might argue that economic growth will be slower in the years ahead than it was in the past, or that bargain stocks were easier to find in previous periods than they are today. Nevertheless, even if it compounds at just 7%, $1 invested today will grow to over $29 in 50 years. Thus, someone entering adulthood today is practically guaranteed to be well fixed by the time they retire if they merely start investing promptly and avoid tampering with the process by trading.

I like the way Bill Miller, one of the great investors of our time, put it in his 3Q 2021 Market Letter:

In the post-war period the US stock market has gone up in around 70% of the years . . . Odds much less favorable than that have made casino owners very rich, yet most investors try to guess the 30% of the time stocks decline, or even worse spend time trying to surf, to no avail, the quarterly up and down waves in the market. Most of the returns in stocks are concentrated in sharp bursts beginning in periods of great pessimism or fear, as we saw most recently in the 2020 pandemic decline. We believe time, not timing, is the key to building wealth in the stock market. (October 18, 2021. Emphasis added)

What are the “sharp bursts” Miller talks about? On April 11, 2019, The Motley Fool cited data from JP Morgan Asset Management’s 2019 Retirement Guide showing that in the 20-year period between 1999 and 2018, the annual return on the S&P 500 was 5.6%, but your return would only have been 2.0% if you had sat out the 10 best days (or roughly 0.4% of the trading days), and you wouldn’t have made any money at all if you had missed the 20 best days. In the past, returns have often been similarly concentrated in a small number of days. Nevertheless, overactive investors continue to jump in and out of the market, incurring transactions costs and capital gains taxes and running the risk of missing those “sharp bursts.”

As mentioned earlier, investors often engage in selling because they believe a decline is imminent and they have the ability to avoid it. The truth, however, is that buying or holding – even at elevated prices – and experiencing a decline is in itself far from fatal. Usually, every market high is followed by a higher one and, after all, only the long-term return matters. Reducing market exposure through ill-conceived selling – and thus failing to participate fully in the markets’ positive long-term trend – is a cardinal sin in investing. That’s even more true of selling without reason things that have fallen, turning negative fluctuations into permanent losses and missing out on the miracle of long-term compounding.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The arguments against selling become progressively more compelling the longer prices move up and to the right. It would have been a mistake to sell everything in January 2020 when news of the coronavirus was breaking unless you were equally committed to buying it all back at the first sign of bottoming in March. That visceral experience has acted as a learning experience for many investors who will have resolved never to sell. That is most particularly evident in the crypto markets where faith in the bullish hypothesis has been rewarded time and again.



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January 13 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Trades Add to El Salvador Sovereign Risk, Moody's Says

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

El Salvador’s Bitcoin trades are adding risk to a sovereign credit outlook that was already weak and reflecting a growing chance of default, according to Moody’s Investors Service. 

The government’s Bitcoin holdings “certainly add to the risk portfolio”, Moody’s analyst Jaime Reusche said Wednesday in a phone interview.  

Trading Bitcoin “is quite risky, particularly for a government that has been struggling with liquidity pressures in the past,” he said.

President Nayib Bukele has said he buys the cryptocurrency using his phone, though the government doesn’t publish data on its holdings. Bukele bought some coins ahead of El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in September, and sometimes took advantage of price drops to buy more in the following months, based on what he has said in posts on Twitter.  

El Salvador’s current ownership of an estimated 1,391 Bitcoins isn’t large enough to pose a major threat to the government’s ability to meet its obligations, but the risk will increase if the government buys more of the cryptocurrency, Reusche said.  

“If it gets much higher, then that represents an even greater risk to repayment capacity and the fiscal profile of the issuer.” 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A weak sovereign taking a big bet on cryptocurrency is irresponsible. It exposes the country’s finances to existential risk in the event bitcoin crashes. That’s not something El Salvadorans should have to deal with. It’s directly comparable to the foolhardy interest rate policies being deployed in Turkey to the determinant of the Lira.



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January 11 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PMIs and Earnings Will Ultimately Determine the End of the Correction

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

January 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. Five-Year Yield Highest Since February 2020 in Bond Selloff

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

Treasury yields rose a second day, with five-year rates hitting the highest since before the pandemic took hold in the U.S., amid increasing conviction that the Federal Reserve will raise rates at least three times beginning in May.

The five-year Treasury note’s yield climbed as much as 3.8 basis points to 1.392%, the highest since Feb. 20, 2020, while 30-year yields bumped up toward their 200-day moving average.

Yields across the curve are rising for a second straight day, after Monday’s selloff lifted the 10-year note’s yield by nearly 12 basis points in its worst start to a year since 2009. The two-year yield topped 0.80% for the first time since March 2020.

That move rippled through markets from Australia to the U.K., where bond trading resumed after a holiday on Monday. Australian 10-year yields jumped as much as 15 basis points to 1.82%, the highest since Nov. 26. Yields on the same U.K. tenor surged as much as 10 basis points to 1.07%, the highest since Nov. 3.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At 1.38% the 5-year yield has fully unwound the pandemic panic compression of early 2020.  In that time total debt outstanding has increased by $5.7 trillion or 24.6%. That’s an eyewatering figure.  Why the market did not flip out about it is a question which flummoxed investors in 2021.



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January 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chipmakers See Rare Sustained Growth in Bid to End Boom-Bust Era

Semiconductor revenue is poised to top half a trillion dollars in 2022 for the first time ever. 

But chipmakers are pursuing another milestone that may be even more ambitious given their famously boom-and-bust past: sustained growth. If estimates hold, 2022 could be the first time in decades that the industry posts a third straight year of sales increases. 

Sales are jumping as computer chips spread to every part of consumers’ lives, becoming essential components of products from cars to smart devices to clothing. Surging demand during the pandemic also resulted in a shortage that is only now beginning to ebb; customers are still snapping up semiconductors as fast as the chipmakers can roll them off production lines.

The continued growth would mark a turning point for a chip market locked in a vicious cycle for nearly its entire history. Demand surges; chips fill up warehouses and supply chains, creating a glut; then sales crash. It has happened again and again, to the point that investors take the situation for granted.

Now, chipmakers like Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. argue it’s different this time around. And they may be right. Chips are used in so many products these days, rather than being concentrated in computers and mobile devices, that the risk of a glut is lower. 

A global chip shortage and supply-chain snags also make it less likely that semiconductor companies are facing a crash anytime soon. Most industry executives have cautioned that the shortage won’t ease until the second half of this year, with some products continuing to be delayed by the scarcity of parts into 2023. While the industry may never be able to escape its roller-coaster nature, the current demand boom may last until 2025. 

Even though the chip industry is now less reliant on computers and smartphones for sales, those remain its biggest growth drivers. The much-touted automotive sector is a relatively small market -- but climbing -- on course to provide about 10% of industry sales.

If there are years of growth ahead, the chip industry will need to expand capacity. That could be a slog. Factories cost billions of dollars and take years to bring online. On the plus side, the tight supply will make it all the easier for chips to avoid another crash.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Turning a cyclical business into a noncyclical business is extraordinarily difficult. It’s been possible for software companies like Microsoft and Adobe because they have streamlined their production cycle and have nonfungible products consumers can’t do without. Media attention focuses on the semiconductor sector’s newest technology but most production is commoditised; relying on high volume and thin margins. I don’t see how that can avoid cyclicality. Many businesses overordered during the pandemic so they will not need to sustain that pace of order growth.



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January 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin: All the Volatility But Less Upside Than Ether

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

Yesterday, Apple became the first $3 trillion company after rising some 40% in the past year. Meanwhile Bitcoin rose just 38% in that same time frame, but with a lot more volatility. That puts Bitcoin -- the granddaddy of the crypto market -- in an uncomfortable position. It offers all the volatility downside risks of cryptocurrencies but smaller returns than its peers.

Gains in this latest Bitcoin halving cycle have been much reduced. The pace of Bitcoin issuance declines by half every four years in what is known as a “halving”. And that increased scarcity is a large part of the cryptocurrency’s appeal. But, as my colleague Joe Weisenthal just pointed out, Bitcoin has appreciated about 250% in this past cycle, whereas in the 2013 to 2017 halving the gains were 1600% and a gargantuan 2,000,000% in the first halving cycle from 2009 to 2003. And in 2021, the rise in Ether, the second most-valuable cryptocurrency, far outpaced Bitcoin, buoyed by its use in decentralized finance and the NFT market.

So Bitcoin is a very volatile asset, with two drawdowns over 30% in 2021 alone, while still underperforming even Apple, the world’s largest company and one of the most liquid equity securities.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for big returns, you’re not looking at Bitcoin either. Not only did Ether outperform Bitcoin by a large margin but the ‘altcoin’ Binance Coin, the next largest cryptocurrency, outperformed both with a 1300% gain.

And now Ether is worth $455 million to Bitcoin’s market cap just shy of $900 million. Maybe 2022 will be the year Bitcoin loses its crown as the largest cryptocurrency.

Eoin Treacy's view -

$3 trillion is a still a lot of money, even in today’s world where that number is thrown around with abandon. A few years ago, it was possible to make the argument Apple was a value stock. That’s harder to say today with a price to sales ratio of 8, up from 3 in early 2019.



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December 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Our Market and Economic Observations Heading into 2022

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

Equity team co-heads Atul Narayan and Erin Miles on other equity markets catching up with the US: Looking ahead, it feels that things are primed for the equity markets that have lagged the US (China, Japan, the UK, Europe, etc.) to catch up. There are several factors at play. First, COVID has been a material relative support to US equities from all channels—favorable sector tilt, less virus economic impact, more support from falling rates (versus, say, Japan, where yields are pegged), and compressing risk premiums, given safe-haven appeal for US equities, especially the FAANMGs. We would expect the COVID impact to gradually fade in the coming year and this to be a relative support for the markets outside the US.

Second, China is showing early signs of moving toward easing after a year when the structural goals (deleveraging, rebalancing, common prosperity, etc.) were prioritized. This again will be a bigger relative support for economies like Japan, Europe, and EMs that are a lot more exposed to China. Finally, if you look back over the last 100 years, it’s almost always been the case that the winners of a given decade end up being laggards in the next one because of the degree of exuberance (and pessimism) that gets priced in following the winning (and losing) stretch. Given how stretched the relative positioning and pricing is today (for logical reasons), we expect the US versus rest of world diff to finally start to revert after a decade-long off-the-charts performance. The main things we are watching closely are the evolution of COVID globally, China’s policy stance, and the retail flows in the US, which were the biggest support for US equities over the past year and a half.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Based on valuations alone, there is a strong risk-adjusted argument for favouring ex-US assets. I also find the argument that a recovery for China’s economy would have a more positive effect on the Ex-US basket to be reasonable. However, momentum remains a tailwind for Wall Street which has been supported by the relative strength of the Dollar all year.



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December 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Investors Stick With Bitcoin ETFs Despite Crypto's Recent Slump

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

Bitcoin is on pace for its worst monthly performance since May, but exchange-traded fund investors are still plowing money toward products that track the cryptocurrency’s futures.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (ticker BITO) has taken in more than $40 million so far in December, its third straight monthly infusion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Similarly, investors have added $6.5 million to the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF) since the end of November, also its third consecutive month of inflows.

That comes amid a crypto downturn that’s seen Bitcoin lose 17% during the last month of the year, putting it on pace for its worst performance since May when it shed 35%. Other cryptocurrencies have lost ground too as investors pull away from some of the riskiest corners of the market. 

Both BITO and BTF launched in October, the first two Bitcoin-futures funds to trade in the U.S. Both had banner starts, with ProShares’s product in particular seeing massive amounts of investor interest. Still, the recent inflows for both funds pale in comparison to what each saw upon their debuts. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

As I mentioned in the Subscriber’s video before Christmas, it was quite likely bitcoin would experience volatility during the interlude between Christmas and New Year. Traders have historically used periods of low liquidity to try and pressure shorts. Yesterday’s downward dynamic was a good example of that.



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December 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

James Webb Space Telescope rockets into history

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

The new mirror is as revolutionary as the spacecraft that carries it. Instead of being in a single piece, it is made of 18 gold-plated beryllium hexagonal mirror segments measuring 1.32 m (4 ft). These are controlled by hundreds of actuators that allow the telescope to adjust its own optics. This is extremely important because the JWST will be over a million miles away. The Hubble mission's early days were marred by a design flaw that required astronauts to visit the telescope several times to make repairs and adjustments, but this won't be an option for the JWST – it has to be as self-reliant as possible.

Unlike the Hubble, which sees in visible and ultraviolet light, the JWST looks in the infrared range. This will allow it to see further into the past than any previous instrument by seeking out objects at the edges of the universe, which date back to near the beginning of time and are receding from us so fast that their light has shifted into the infrared band.

With this capability, the 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) Webb will look at how the first galaxies formed in the early universe, study star formation, learn more about how galaxies evolve, and focus on exoplanets in other solar systems to seek out evidence of potential life.

Unfortunately, this super vision requires the JWST to operate at temperatures below -223.2 °C (-369.7 °F), which is difficult to achieve in the full glare of the Sun. To do this, the telescope is equipped with a sun shield about the size of a tennis court that is made of five layers of thin sheets of a polyimide film called Kapton that are coated with aluminum. This material is stable across a wide range of temperatures and insulates the telescope, allowing the spacecraft to be hotter than boiling water on one side, but colder than liquid oxygen on the other.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The James Webb telescope made headlines over Christmas because it is the most ambitious international space project to be launched in quite some time. It will not be the last. There are at least five more telescopes due for launch in the next decade. That virtually ensures we will “see” alien life before we ever come face to face with aliens. No wonder NASA is consulting with theologians



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December 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why the Bezzle Matters to the Economy

This article by Michael Pettis for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

First, the bezzle represents recorded or perceived wealth that does not exist as real wealth (productive capacity), and as such it boosts collective recorded wealth above real economic wealth. This discrepancy gooses GDP growth in at least three ways. One way this happens is that bezzle creates a temporary wealth effect that boosts consumption and investment spending to a level higher than where either normally would have been. A second way is when part of this false wealth shows up either as higher income or higher profits for the entity that benefits from the boost in recorded wealth. A third way is when rising market values collateralize increases in borrowing that are then used either to raise prices further or to increase spending. It is not a coincidence that GDP growth rates are always higher than expected in periods during which a great deal of bezzle is being created.

Second, the reverse is true when the bezzle is directly or indirectly recognized and amortized, as it must eventually be. One or more sectors of the economy (households, businesses, local governments, farmers, or banks) must absorb the loss. As they do, the wealth effect reverses, their lower earnings or profits are reflected in lower-than-expected GDP figures, and they are forced to pay down the debt. Just as it is not simply a coincidence that bezzle is created mainly during economic booms, nor is it a coincidence that it tends to be recognized during economic downturns or financial crises.

Third, bezzle creation seems to be systemic. There are periods, in other words, when it seems that the operation of the financial system errs toward creating bezzle, and these times always seem to be followed by periods in which the bezzle is automatically wrung out of the system.

Fourth, as Galbraith especially pointed out, the bezzle has a self-reinforcing impact on growth in either direction. When it is being created, the illusion of wealth tends to reinforce growth and encourage the creation of more bezzle. When it is being amortized, it tends to inflict additional costs of financial distress on the economy, especially to the extent that it was financed by debt.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I find discussion of the bezzle in valuations a useful way of thinking about how the wealth effect is produced and eventually reverses. The Japanese property bubble or China’s property/infrastructure bubble both fit neatly into those terms with the boom and bust of property markets making relatable backdrops for discussion.



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe's Power Crunch Shuts Down Factories as Prices Hit Record

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

Electricite de France SA said last week it will halt four reactors accounting for 10% of the nation’s nuclear capacity, straining power grids already faced with the prospect of a spell of cold weather. At the beginning of January, almost 30% of France’s nuclear capacity will be offline, increasing the country’s reliance on gas, coal and even oil.

“If we have a very, very cold day, it could be problematic, especially if we have to import and our neighbors have problems as well,” said Paris-based Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “This is the domino effect we need to fear. But electricity will be expensive, there’s going to be a cost to pay.”

German power for next year jumped to a high of 335 euros a megawatt-hour, following a 25% rally on Tuesday, before slipping back. The French equivalent rose as much as 2.5% to record of 408 euros. Prices gained amid thin holiday trading even as gas declines. There was also speculation some traders may be closing short positions due to rising capital requirements from exchanges.

“The strength in the French market has been the main engine -- aside from gas prices -- of strength in neighboring markets, including Germany, in recent days,” said Glenn Rickson, head of European power analysis at S&P Global Platts.

“I also suspect that any big moves ahead of the run-up to Christmas have as much to do with the thinness of the market and traders needing to close short positions ahead of shutting down for the holidays as anything else.”

Soaring gas and power prices have already forced European utility giants from RWE AG to Uniper SE to boost liquidity requirements. Many smaller suppliers didn’t have the same option, with more than 20 going out of business in the U.K. alone.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Half of the UK’s energy traders/providers have gone out of business since the spike in natural gas prices began. The survivors will be the best capitalised companies that can ride out this volatility. They will also benefit in future from capturing market share during this tumultuous period. 



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musk Says He Has Sold Enough Stock to Unwind 10% of His Stake

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

Elon Musk has disposed of enough shares to reach a target of reducing his stake in Tesla Inc. by 10%, the head of the electric-car leader said in an interview. 

“I sold stock that should roughly make my total Tesla share sale roughly 10%,” he told satirical website Babylon Bee. 

Musk has been offloading Tesla stock since asking his Twitter followers in November whether he should sell some of his stake. The move is part of a plan to generate cash to cover an estimated tax bill of more than $10 billion on stock options Musk is due to exercise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elon Musk’s personal holding of Tesla shares represents a significant source of supply. His sales soaked up a lot of demand over the last six weeks and contributed to an almost complete unwinding of the overbought condition relative to the trend mean.



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December 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Chartbook 2022 Is This Halving Cycle Over?

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

1.Due to its unusual investment characteristics in terms of performance, correlation and volatility, Bitcoin (and selected altcoins) can serve as useful supplement within a diversified portfolio.

2.Gold and Bitcoin are non-inflatable and as such profit from monetary inflation. Together they shine even brighter due to a superior risk/return profile. We are convinced that an increasing number of investors will treat Gold and Bitcoin as parts of one non-inflatable asset class.

3. Most altcoins are not here to stay. However, some projects have the potential to serve as market disruptors and substantially change aspects in our lives. Conceptionally, we consider (most) altcoins more like venture capital investments, whereas Bitcoin to us is digital Gold.

4. Various indicators are signaling a bullish environment for Bitcoin. However, the most relevant model to monitor is the S2F model by PlanB. In this regard, it is our opinion that the current halving cycle is not over yet. Our base scenario is a delayed peak in this cycle. If this assumption is correct, we could see the Bitcoin price pushing above USD 100,000 in the coming months.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As a trend persists, the evidence from past performance swells to make the bullish case more convincing. This is doubly true for bitcoin because despite its history of significant drawdowns no one who has held the asset for four years has sustained a loss regardless of the price they paid. That’s only possible because the trend has been so strong and the breakouts, when they come, have been among the most explosive of any asset ever.



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