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November 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crispr Surges as Gene Editing Shows Promise in Blood Disease

This article by Bailey Lipschultz and Michelle Fay Cortez for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“While the data are early, we are quite excited about what we are seeing,” he said in a telephone interview. “This is a pretty significant milestone, not just for us as a company but for the entire field. This could be an important landmark in medicine, when we saw the first promise for providing cures for a number of diseases using a gene editing approach.”

The early findings may benefit rival companies also studying medicines based on Crispr technology, as they are the first results from publicly traded companies using the platform. Editas Medicine Inc.’s lead drug will be given to its first patient at the start of next year as a treatment for a form of blindness, while Intellia Therapeutics Inc. is on track to file for its first human trial by mid-year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gene editing deals in cures rather than treatments. That’s a major challenge for the traditional pharmaceuticals business. Chronic conditions which requite ongoing treatment but have no cure have been massive money spinner for the pharmaceuticals business for decades. Right now, the cost of cures is extraordinarily high because a one-shot solution has to load all of the revenue from a treatment into one bill rather than spacing it out with a chronic condition. However, as the sector moves out of the orphan disease sector and into the mainstream over the next decade the potential for costs to come down is quite compelling.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ford Unveils Electric Mustang SUV to Challenge Tesla Dominance

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

The Mach-E will make a profit “on vehicle one,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “That’s surprising a lot of people because electrics have not had a history of making money. This will.”

Hackett said it will turn a profit because the vehicle “creates the passion that follows with Mustang” and prices start in the mid-$30,000 when U.S. subsides on electric cars are factored in. “So it’s attractive to customers.”

Ford is building it in Mexico because it had an open factory there and it needed to be overhauled to build an electric vehicle, Hackett said. “As we start to adopt more electric vehicles — we had capacity down there, we had no capacity in the United States — we’re going to have electric capacity here in the United States. They’ll be building other electric platforms.”

Still, it’s a high-risk gambit. The Mustang is Ford’s signature sports car, having sold more than 10 million units since it debuted in 1964 with simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek. When Ford decided to abandon the traditional passenger-car business last year, it spared only one model: The Mustang.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sports cars, pickups and SUVs represent the high margin portions of the auto industry. Many traditional manufacturers are racing to get electric SUVs and sedans into the market to compete with Tesla. Today’s Ford announcement is obviously aimed at competing with the Model 3, while Tesla’s debut for its pick-up, on Thursday, is aimed at competing with the F-150. The disruption in the auto sector is forcing massive investment in new manufacturing capacity and not all will survive. From listening to what Jim Hackett had to say about profitability, it sounds there is some creative accounting in making the claim the electric Mustang will be profitable on car one.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CECL Symposium Highlights: Still More Questions Than Answers

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Raymond James which is dated August 6th but makes a number of worthwhile points. Here is a section:

What is CECL?: CECL is a new accounting standard that modifies how companies estimate loan and lease losses, and affects all periods starting after December 15, 2019 (i.e., begins 1Q20). In the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) established the Financial Crisis Advisory Group (FCAG). FCAG believes it has identified a “weakness in current GAAP being the delayed recognition of credit losses that results in the potential overstatements of assets,” which ultimately led to its recommendation for this new standard. The new standard requires financial institutions to use a combination of historical information, current conditions and reasonable forecasts to estimate the expected losses over the life of a loan. This is a significant shift from the current methodology, which relies on incurred losses. We note on day one of implementation, there will be a balance sheet adjustment, creating additional general reserves for expected credit losses and negatively impacting capital levels, but implying limited income statement impacts.

Conclusion: We walked away with more questions than answers, and anticipate a significant amount of variability in disclosures amongst the banks given the latitude FASB has provided in the standards. While many questions remain, FASB officials, consultants and management teams alike continue to work through the issues and are refining models as overall understanding of the standards improves. Fortunately, we anticipate regulatory capital relief for the banks as necessary, since capital levels remain elevated and the intent of the new standards was not to increase capital levels at the banks. However, we believe there could be some unintended consequences and potential ripple effects that will create further disruption in the space, potentially shifting assets out of the banking space and into the non-bank space, which has continued to gain share. Ultimately, we remain concerned with the uncertainty around CECL, anticipated volatility around disclosures and capital impacts, as well as potential negative implications on industry demand will serve to provide one more reason for investors to not own the space.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) regime is another piece of regulation imposed on the banking sector which serves to ensure the overleverage and inappropriate risk management that characterised the industry ahead of the financial crisis is not repeated. One of the primary results of successive waves of regulation has been to pile compliance costs onto the banks but it has also reduced their ability to leverage their balance sheets which has unintended consequences.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

SoftBank Next 30-Year Vision

Thanks to a subscriber for this report which may be of interest.

This vision is designed with the time span of 300 years. The next 3 decades is merely the first step

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report contains a number of truly inspiring ideas. Everything from universal happiness, to the power of computers to far exceed the computing power of the human brain, to tripling longevity, to creating a management structure capable of surviving all of this radical change. Some of these promises are still in the realm of the science fiction, some are a lot closer to reality than we might realise.



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November 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amarin Fish-Oil Heart Drug Will Be Big, Could Be Huge

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

Part of that question was answered Thursday after a panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration reviewed Amarin's data. They voted 16 to 0 that Vascepa was safe and cuts cardiovascular events. The vote doesn’t bind the FDA, but the agency often follows panel recommendations, so it would be a surprise now if the drug isn’t made available to more Americans. That’s big news for Amarin — and for many patients. 

We still don't know exactly how good the news is, however, and won’t until the FDA makes a final decision by the end of the year. There was consensus on the drug’s overall effectiveness. Still, the panelists disagreed about how far that impact extends. Access for millions of additional patients and billions of potential sales are still up the air, which means there’s more volatility ahead for Amarin investors. The market seems focused on the positives for now: Amarin shares surged 7% in early trading Friday after rising more than 20% on Tuesday, when the FDA released briefing documents ahead of the panel that were seen as relatively supportive for the drug.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mrs. Treacy is genetically predisposed to pancreatitis during pregnancy and has had a couple of episodes in between pregnancies which have required hospitalisation. The cardiologist who implemented a treatment plan to contain her hypolipidemia during her last pregnancy prescribed a massive daily dose of fish oil and it worked. Every time since then she has found fish oil acts as a salve to pancreatic pain which has ensured she has not been hospitalised in six years.  



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November 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Deepens Push for Financial Data With Citigroup Tie-Up

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

“We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools,” Google said in an emailed statement, adding that the accounts will carry federally guaranteed insurance.

The move is the latest sign of Silicon Valley’s determination to muscle in on financial firms’ territory, looking to expand their hold on customers and accumulate data on their finances. At the same time, it shows banks are more willing to pair up with technology companies in their quest to avoid getting shut out of the relationship entirely. In the Google arrangement, the financial institutions will handle most of the compliance requirements.

Google has spent years building out its payments capabilities, offering consumers the ability to send money to friends and check out both online and in stores through Google Pay. With the checking accounts, consumers will be able to receive their paychecks and transact solely inside the Google ecosystem.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple has teamed up with Goldman Sachs to branch into consumer credit while Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are planning on tackling the health care market. Google is partnering with Citigroup on consumer credit but Ascension on patient data. These stories highlight how eager tech companies are to branch into these data-rich sectors, where legacy players are ill-equipped to monetise the value, they have access to.



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric cars are changing the cost of driving

This article by Michael J. Coren for Quartz may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

It’s difficult to know how representative this data is of Teslas overall, given that Tesloop’s fleet is small, but it likely includes a large share of the highest-mileage Teslas on the road—several are nearing 500,000 miles. Finding conventional vehicles to compare is virtually impossible since most fleet cars are typically sold off after 100,000 miles.

But the implications could be huge. Every year, corporations and rental car companies add more than 12 million vehicles in Europe and North America to their fleets (pdf). Adding EVs to the mix could see those cars lasting five times longer—costing a fraction of conventional cars over the same period—while feeding a massive new stream of used electric cars into the marketplace. Whether the future of fleets is really electric, however, depends on the data. And that’s still in short supply.  

The promise of EVs
Most commercial vehicle fleets still run on gasoline and diesel, David Hayward, a fleet expert with Deloitte consulting, said. But EVs are top of mind. “Everyone is excited about it and everyone wants it,” he told Quartz. “But there’s trepidation.” The potential savings are huge. Fleet owners’ biggest expenses after depreciation (44%) are fuel (22%) and maintenance and repairs (11%), according to Deloitte.  EVs could slash those by more than half.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The original electric vehicles that entered service about ten years ago have some of the lowest resale values and steepest depreciations of any car. Meanwhile the Tesla Model 3 was the car with the least depreciation of any vehicle this year. That is a function of both supply and built up demand but the success in limiting the erosion of the battery’s charge potential has reversed the economics of the electric vehicle market. If a car can comfortably drive 500,000 miles with little to no maintenance, other than tyres, the only limitation is range. Right now, a Model 3 has about a 300 miles range which more than enough for most people. My SUV will do around 480 miles on the highway to a tank but probably closer to 200 in the stop/go of the city so the range issue is less of an issue today.



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November 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inside Amazon's plan for Alexa to run your entire life

This article by Karen Hao for the MIT Technology Review may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In another scenario, you might ask Alexa through your communal home Echo to send you a notification if your flight is delayed. When it’s time to do so, perhaps you are already driving. Alexa needs to realize (by identifying your voice in your initial request) that you, not a roommate or family member, need the notification—and, based on the last Echo-enabled device you interacted with, that you are now in your car. Therefore, the notification should go to your car rather than your home.

This level of prediction and reasoning will also need to account for video data as more and more Alexa-compatible products include cameras. Let’s say you’re not home, Prasad muses, and a Girl Scout knocks on your door selling cookies. The Alexa on your Amazon Ring, a camera-equipped doorbell, should register (through video and audio input) who is at your door and why, know that you are not home, send you a note on a nearby Alexa device asking how many cookies you want, and order them on your behalf.

To make this possible, Prasad’s team is now testing a new software architecture for processing user commands. It involves filtering audio and visual information through many more layers. First Alexa needs to register which skill the user is trying to access among the roughly 100,000 available. Next it will have to understand the command in the context of who the user is, what device that person is using, and where. Finally it will need to refine the response on the basis of the user’s previously expressed preferences.

“This is what I believe the next few years will be about: reasoning and making it more personal, with more context,” says Prasad. “It’s like bringing everything together to make these massive decisions.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

A year ago Google gave a sample of what its artificial intelligence was capable of when it made a restaurant booking for some users by phoning a restaurant and impersonating a person. The company received a great deal of backlash from the liberal media about how much data it had to collect from a person to make that kind of service available and whether the company could be trusted with the information.



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November 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Expedia and TripAdvisor Lead Sharp Sell-Off in Online Travel

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

According to Piper Jaffray, “the most concerning trend” in the quarter was “the reduced efficiency of SEO,” or search engine optimization. Google, part of Alphabet Inc., is favoring its own “Hotel Finder” platform, along with paid links for search results, and this trend could require higher marketing costs.

D.A. Davidson noted that Expedia is exploring alternatives to mitigate its “reliance on search/Google,” but wrote that it sees “no alternatives that will be able to efficiently ‘move the needle’ from a volume perspective anytime soon.” Morgan Stanley wrote that Alphabet is now the “best way to invest in travel.”

TripAdvisor’s adjusted earnings and revenue both missed the lowest analyst estimates. The results “more than disappointed,” Jefferies wrote, reiterating its underperform rating. Analyst Brent Thill added that TripAdvisor’s preliminary 2020 outlook “is not encouraging,” in part because of “continued SEO pressure from Google.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Third party vendors learned a long time ago that the biggest threat from selling on Amazon is being too successful. When sales move the needle enough to pique the attention of some quant, the risk of Amazon deciding to sell the same product, but cheaper, increases exponentially. The rise of the Amazon Basics line of products is a perfect example.



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November 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

One-Shot Drug for Sicily's Rare Blood Disease Costs $2 Million

This article by James Paton and Chiara Albanese for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Dozens of gene therapies for a range of devastating illnesses are on their way. These single-dose drugs, tailored to each patient, can potentially deliver a lifetime of benefits.

But that’s reflected in their prices, which are likely to increase pressure on already stretched budgets. To make it easier for government payers to digest Zynteglo, Bluebird plans to spread out the cost over five years, with payments contingent on its success.

As a one-time therapy, Zynteglo could save governments money in the long run by cutting the need for expensive ongoing care. Treating one beta thalassemia patient today can cost as much as €60,000 a year, says Aurelio Maggio, a blood-disease specialist at the Palermo center. That’s €3 million over five decades. With multiple wonder drugs for other conditions set to reach the market soon, the upfront bill could take a heavy toll on Italy’s finances. The price tag for the therapy is twice the $900,000 that SVB Leerink analyst Mani Foroohar expected. Given the large number of patients in the country with the ailment, “the stakes are much higher,” he says.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

One-shot therapies to genetic conditions represent incredibly exciting solutions to many previously untreatable diseases. The reason we are seeing the kinds of therapies appear for relatively unknown ailments is because they can get accelerated approvals from the FDA because they are treating orphan diseases. The bigger prize is to treat diseases which represent some of the biggest chronic conditions in the market today.



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November 01 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

State of AI Report 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this report for stateof.ai which may be of interest. Here is a brief section on robotics:

Certain Chinese industrial companies have automated away 40% of their human workforce over the past 3 years. This could be due in part to China’s annual robot install-base growing 500% since 2012 (vs. 112% in Europe). However, it’s unclear to what extent AI software runs these installed robots or has contributed to their proliferation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The drive to automate manufacturing is one of the most challenging for any company but is also a major consideration in which countries benefit from manufacturing as a large, relatively well-paying employer. Many low-tech businesses have already migrated away from China while higher value-added businesses are under increasingly pressure to increase productivity by adopting technological solutions.



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October 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Cuts Rates by Quarter Point, Hints It May Be Done for Now

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

Federal Reserve officials reduced interest rates by a quarter-percentage point for the third time this year and hinted they may be done loosening monetary policy, at least for one meeting.

The Federal Open Market Committee altered language in its statement following the two-day meeting Wednesday, dropping its pledge to “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” while adding a promise to monitor data as it “assesses the appropriate path of the target range for the federal funds rate.”

As with the September statement, the FOMC cited the implications of global developments in deciding to lower the target range for the central bank’s benchmark rate to 1.5% to 1.75%.

Treasuries weakened on the Fed’s announcement, pushing the 10-year yield up briefly to 1.81% from 1.80%. Stocks were little changed and the U.S. dollar gained. Traders also pared wagers on a fourth consecutive rate cut in December.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed has been of the opinion we are in the midst of a mid-cycle slowdown. I think we can think of that as a best-case scenario which is why there is so much uncertainty about the outlook for rates amid the surge in bond prices. Let’s see what the charts tell us.



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October 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Branson's Virgin Galactic Space Venture Jumps in NYSE Debut -

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

Virgin Galactic is one of a trio of billionaire-backed space startups, each tapping different technologies. Branson is using an aircraft to carry a spaceship to high altitudes, where it blasts away. Blue Origin, controlled by Amazon.com Inc. founder Bezos, relies on more-conventional rockets. Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. deploys reusable launchers.

While transporting satellites has been a focus for SpaceX, Branson is chasing the tourism market, planning a first commercial flight next year. Blue Origin plans to take payloads and tourists to the edge of space on an 11-minute flight, while Musk has pledged to send passengers to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Branson said last week that Virgin Galactic also is interested in developing hypersonic airline flights after Boeing Co.’s future-technologies arm pledged $20 million for a minority stake. That could mean linking U.S. cities in a matter of minutes and, ultimately, the U.S. and U.K. with Australia in just a few hours.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Launch costs are trending lower and that is allowing room for a range of competing business cases to exploit the opportunity represented by the final frontier. If Elon Musk is to believe the jump to space is but a gateway to a myriad of possibilities on the moon and Mars. The only we can be sure of is the confluence of technological innovation and access to abundant cheap credit has made possible ventures that were mere fantasy a decade ago.



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October 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Japanese growth stocks

Several weeks ago, I had the same feeling as you on Japan. For investment purposes I decided to concentrate on Japanese 5G related companies. Ignoring the major telecom co's, I then came up with the following list of companies involved in parts related to the 5G area:

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this insightful email. One of the factors I believe that is attracting investors to Japan is the fact it has a such a deep pool of companies that provide invaluable components for the growth of the wider global technology sector. The fact they have been underappreciated for so long is justification for investor interest, particularly if global growth is primed for recovery.



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October 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft Rallies as Results Beat "Virtually Every Metric"

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

Growth in commercial bookings highlight “an impressive start” to the year. The results also featured a strong second-quarter earnings outlook, operating margins that “significantly outperformed,” and “solid” growth with Azure. “Microsoft remains the best positioned name in tech for the emerging Hybrid Cloud architecture, with improving margins sustaining a durable mid-teens total return profile.” Overweight rating, price target raised to $157 from $155.

Bernstein, Mark Moerdler
The company “beat virtually every metric driven by strength in Cloud, Sever & Tools, and Windows Pro.” Outperform rating, price target raised to $167 from $162. The analysts “remain positive & like buying” the stock.

RBC Capital Markets, Alex Zukin
This was “a strong start” to the year, “with bookings strength across the board” and “no macro weakness.” The revenue outlook “was lower than expected but with stronger margins, as gaming is expected to be weak.” Outperform rating, price target raised to $163 from $160.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Microsoft has transformed itself from a software maker to a software as a service company (SaaS). In the process it has transformed its lumpy cyclical cashflows into a steady revenue stream which is much more easily modellable. That allows analysts a much higher degree of comfort with the balance sheet and that generally commands a higher multiple. This subscription business model affords Microsoft and other companies growth rate and margins of a tech company but with the cashflows of a consumer staples company.



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October 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nanoparticle tech reverses celiac disease in promising human trials

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

This Phase 2 trial is small, involving only 34 patients, but it offers the first evidence of efficacy in human subjects. The prospective treatment involves two intravenous administrations of the nanoparticles, one week apart. Seven days after the second treatment the subjects were challenged with 12 grams (0.4 oz) of gluten per day for three days, and then six grams (0.2 oz) of gluten each day for the next 11 days. The majority of the subjects tolerated the gluten challenge following the nanoparticle treatment, showing an impressive 90 percent reduction in inflammatory markers compared to an untreated control group.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolving understanding of the microbiome and its role in both regulating and affecting everything from digestion to immune responses to brain activity and mood is a massive growth field. From an investment perspective it holds the potential to tap into markets that are completely unserved by medicine today.



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October 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Says Quantum Computer Beat 10,000-Year Task in Minutes

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

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it’s built a computer that’s reached “quantum supremacy,” performing a computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years.

The results of Google’s tests, which were conducted using a quantum chip it developed in-house, were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

“This achievement is the result of years of research and the dedication of many people,” Google engineering director Hartmut Neven said in a blogpost. “It’s also the beginning of a new journey: figuring out how to put this technology to work. We’re working with the research community and have open-sourced tools to enable others to work alongside us to identify new applications.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The question is not whether Google has achieved quantum supremacy or whether IBM will get there first. Rather the point is quantum mechanics has gone from philosophy to practicality in less than a century. Consider that the Greeks hypothesised the existence of the atom thousands of years ago but the nuclear age did not start until about 75 years ago. This is a clear example of the exponential pace of technological innovation.



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October 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

California's Gasoline Panic

This article from the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But about 95% of gas stations with convenience stores are independently owned, which includes mom-and-pops that license brand names. Some consumers will pay more for brand-name gas as they will for Prada purses or Starbucks lattes. As gas prices rise, consumers may also burn more money than they save driving in search of the cheapest stations.

Notably, the commission ignores that retail margins include labor costs, utilities, rent and taxes. In 2012 the state increased taxes on high earners, which hit many small businesses. California’s minimum wage has increased by 50% since 2013. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, worker wages at California gas stations over the last five years have increased 50% more than nationwide.

Mr. Newsom has threatened legal action against oil companies to “protect the public.” But liberals have long wanted higher gas prices so folks will ditch gas-powered cars. The Governor last month ordered revenue to be redirected from the last gas tax hike, which was supposed to fund highway construction, to projects that “reverse the trend of increased fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

So Californians in the future can look forward to paying more to drive on deteriorating roads as they head to homes without electricity due to blackouts. How long will it take California voters to figure out that these are problems made in Sacramento by politicians?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Spikes in crude oil prices are associated with recessions because they represent a tax on consumption. It’s not coincidence that one of the reasons Europe’s economies have subpar growth is because they tax economic output through regulation and carbon trading with the express aim of increasing costs. California is well on the way to achieving the same outcomes.



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October 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles to 5-Month Low as Libra Hit by U.S. Backlash

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

“The biggest thing behind this is that volumes have been very very low,” said Josh Lim, head of trading strategy at Galaxy Digital in New York. “On the sentiment side of things, the fact that the Libra coalition has faced some major challenges and the Telegram launch was halted by the SEC, it really curtailed investor appetite for crypto broadly.”

Potentially adding to concern is the news that Alphabet Inc.’s Google has built a computer that’s reached “quantum supremacy,” performing a computation in 200 seconds that would take the fastest supercomputers about 10,000 years. Skeptics of cryptocurrencies have noted that advances in computing could make the slower proof of work system used by Bitcoin and other tokens obsolete.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The launch of bitcoin settled futures on the same day that the first whiff of Google’s quantum supremacy news broke in September was responsible for the dynamic break below $10,000. The Congressional debate about Facebook’s Libra project and confirmation of the quantum supremacy story were catalysts for selling pressure today.



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October 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Normal Yield Curve Doesn't Mean Everything's Normal

This article by Mohamed A. El-Erian for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The more that markets internalize this shifting monetary policy sentiment inside central banks, the more that they will unwind the policy expectations that fueled several forces acting to invert the U.S. yield curve, including indirect ones such as the enormous pressure on foreign investors to flee negative yields in Europe and Japan and go into longer-dated U.S. bonds. Look for this phenomenon to also maintain the yield spread between German and U.S. bonds at its current lower range despite what will continue to be relative economic outperformance by the U.S.

Just as I argued in March that it was unwise to react to the inversion of the Treasury yield curve with extreme anxiety about a U.S. recession, it would be premature to celebrate the recent partial reversion as an indicator of significant strengthening of U.S. economic prospects. Instead, both are reminders of the extent to which traditional economic signals have been distorted by a prolonged period of extraordinary central bank policies. And they should also been seen as just one of the unusual consequences of a monetary stance that, imposed for several years on central banks by the lack of proper policy action elsewhere, will now see the hoped-for benefits give way to a broadening and deepening recognition of the unintended consequences and collateral risks.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

An inverted yield curve has been one of the most readily available lead indicators for a US recession for decades. There is always an argument that this time is different and that it only works for the USA’s economy. It is also worth remembering that no US recession has occurred without an inverted yield curve first but is a very small number of false positives. When considering the history of the measure anyone who is willing to buck the historical trend is betting on the signal giving a false positive.



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October 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S., China Said to Reach Partial Deal, Could Set Up Trade Truce

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

The U.S. and China reached a partial agreement Friday that would broker a truce in the trade war and lay the groundwork for a broader deal that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping could sign later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of the deal, China would agree to some agricultural concessions and the U.S. would provide some tariff relief. The pact is tentative and subject to change as Trump prepares to sit down with China’s Vice Premier Liu He later Friday.

Stocks jumped Friday after the news. Equities had advanced globally earlier in the day amid growing conviction that the U.S. and China would negotiate a trade truce. Trump tweeted earlier Friday that “good things” were happening in the meetings -- and that if the countries did reach an agreement, he would be able to sign it without a lengthy congressional approval process.

On Thursday and earlier Friday, Liu and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held the first senior-level discussions between Washington and Beijing since a previous agreement fell apart in May and tariffs were raised in the months after. The world’s two biggest economies have been trying for the past year and a half to settle their trade dispute.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The words from Bill Clinton’s early ‘90s election campaign must be ringing in President Trump’s ears, “It’s the economy, stupid”. There is a clear rationale for pressuring China on trade but is it worth losing the election for? The hardest hit parts of the US economy just about all voted for President Trump in the last election and have been specifically targeted by Chinese tariffs. Little wonder then that agricultural imports are front and centre in whatever deal is to be announced. With the election less than 13 months away it’s time to at least put the trade war on hold and let animal spirits loose. 



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October 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Market Internals

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have to admit I don’t look at the internals of the market all that often because it is the trend rather than the day to day moves which lend some insight into the health of the market. I thought it might be useful to look at some of the most common measures to discern if any clues to market direction are evident.

The Total Number of New 52 Week Highs on the NYSE Index is coming back down towards the lows December 2018 and towards the end of 2015. The significant spike on the upside in late 2017 was an anomaly suggesting a period of underperformance ahead, but generally lows are better predictors of market bottoms than spikes are of tops.



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October 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Is Breeding Giant Pigs That Are as Heavy as Polar Bears

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

High pork prices in the northeastern province of Jilin is prompting farmers to raise pigs to reach an average weight of 175 kilograms to 200 kilograms, higher than the normal weight of 125 kilograms. They want to raise them “as big as possible,” said Zhao Hailin, a hog farmer in the region.

The trend isn’t limited to small farms either. Major protein producers in China, including Wens Foodstuffs Group Co, the country’s top pig breeder, Cofco Meat Holdings Ltd. And Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. say they are trying to increase the average weight of their pigs. Big farms are focusing on boosting the heft by at least 14%, said Lin Guofa, a senior analyst with consulting firm Bric Agriculture Group.

The average weight of pigs at slaughter at some large-scale farms has climbed to as much as 140 kilograms, compared with about 110 kilograms normally, Lin said. That could boost profits by more than 30%, he said.

The large swine are being bred during a desperate time for China. With African swine fever decimating the nation’s hog herd -- in half, by some estimates -- prices of pork have soared to record levels, leading the government to urge farmers to boost production to temper inflation. Wholesale pork prices in China have surged more than 70% this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no cure of African Swine Flu and it is almost always fatal for pigs that contract the disease. That spread of the disease in China has put upward pressure on the price of pork and rebuilding the national herd is going to take at least a few years. That is assuming the necessary sanitation measures are taken to insulate the supply chain from cross contamination, which represents a significant additional cost.



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October 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Rally on Fed Bets as Jobs Calm Growth Fears: Markets Wrap

This article by Randall Jensen and Sarah Ponczek for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“This one comes in pretty close to neutral in terms of the slowdown. It’s not encouraging, it doesn’t look like a re-acceleration in growth, but it also probably puts at bay some of the fears that have come in around the ISM manufacturing and ISM services numbers,” said Luke Tilley, chief economist at money manager Wilmington Trust Corp. in Delaware. “This should make people and investors comfortable that we still have enough job growth to keep consumer spending on the positive side.”

Today’s job numbers followed a string of disappointing economic data this week that had fueled concerns a slowdown in manufacturing could spread to the consumer, and in turn ratcheted up bets that the Fed will reduce rates this month. The burst of rate-cut optimism helped snap a two-day losing streak that reached 3% in the S&P 500 Index Thursday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Nasdaq-100 posted a small upside key reversal yesterday from the region of the trend mean and followed through on the upside today. The primary Wall Street indices have been ranging between their trend means and their all-time peaks for much of the last four months and despite a great deal of negativity the potential for a breakout to new highs remains the base case.



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October 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Global Internet Phenomena Report

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

Google (Alphabet): YouTube, Google Cloud, Google Play, Google Search, Google Docs, Google Drive, DoubleClick, Gmail, and Crashlytics
Netflix: Netflix Video
Facebook: Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Video, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Oculus Rift Microsoft: Xbox Live, Windows Update, Skype, Outlook 365, Office 365, SharePoint, OneDrive, Windows Store, LinkedIn
Apple: iTunes, iCloud, Apple Software Update, FaceTime, Apple Music, Apple.com, iCloud Photo Stream, Mac App Store

The brands with video traffic have a significant advantage on the downstream. Google (YouTube), Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon (Amazon Prime) have strong video offerings. Apple soon will, and Microsoft’s entry into gaming streaming (Mixer) will likely move them up this list if they can continue to recruit high profile gamers.

As shown in the chart, Google is #1 overall and on the upstream. The combination of YouTube, Google Search, and Google Cloud are the biggest contributors to the upstream traffic, as they are an integral part of any Android device’s experience.

Netflix is the #1 on the downstream and #2 overall as the only pure play in the bunch. As we mentioned last year, if Netflix was not the most efficient streamer at every resolution, their total could easily be twice what it is today, and they continue to excel in video codec work and efficiency in resolution downshifts and upshifts.

Google is also #1 on connections. This is a much more collaborative effort among Google apps. YouTube, Google Cloud Messaging, Google Search, Crashlytics, DoubleClick, and even Nest are the biggest contributors to Google connections per device.

Amazon: Amazon Prime, Twitch, Amazon.com, Alexa, Amazon Glacier, Amazon Music

When combined, these brands took up over 43% of all traffic volume on the internet: The details are interesting. Overall, Google edged out Netflix as the top consumer of bandwidth on the internet (as well as upstream) and dominated in the percentage of connections. Unsurprisingly, Netflix was the single largest consumer of traffic downstream, but Google was not far behind. This is confirmation that brands can build synergies, expand their business, and succeed. The obvious outlier in this case is Netflix, which does one thing and does it exceedingly well, albeit at very high volume. With new streaming services coming out from Facebook and Apple, with 4K and live streaming taking hold, these numbers might climb even higher next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The companies that dominate the internet have almost all adopted some form of the subscription business model. Their success in capturing the attention of hundreds of millions of consumers and the ad revenue and spending power that goes with it represent powerful cashflows. Their success also encourages competition and the evolution of new streaming services is a challenge to the early hegemony of some companies.



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October 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

German Fiscal Stimulus Already Creeping In, Whatever Merkel Says

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

The government considers it’s still not clear whether Germany will plunge into a full-blown recession and, as a result, the full array of remedies may not need to be deployed.

Germany’s five leading research institutes slashed their forecasts for economic growth this year and next, citing trade tensions and Brexit weighing on German industry. GDP is to grow 1.1% in 2020 from a previous forecast of 1.8%, and 0.5% this year from an earlier prediction of 0.8%.

Traditionally, Germany shifts to high alert whenever the global economy looks to be slowing -- the country’s dependence on exports means that it tends to head south with the rest of the world. But with the domestic market still relatively robust and the ECB renewing monetary stimulus, Merkel’s economic team judges that this time the path toward recession is less certain.

On the down side, a prolonged trade war could eventually lead to a much bigger fallout than expected, according to another scenario being considered. That spurred the government to gradually increase investments and bolster the labor market as a preemptive and precautionary measure.

Finance Minister Scholz told ARD TV on Wednesday that economic forecasts are pointing toward a recovery and that there is currently no need for a stimulus program.

“We are well prepared because we have good financial resources and can react, should it really come to an economic crisis but so far it’s just slower growth,” Scholz said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The bond market has been signallng for a while that all is not well in the global economy. The fact that just about all of Germany’s sovereign debt is trading with a negative yield is as much about the outlook for global growth as it is about the ECB’s negative interest rate policy. The Eurozone has been relying on the strength of the export sector to pull growth higher but the slowdown is exposing the absence of a clear domestic demand story to offset the slowdown in demand.

While clear signalling for the end of the austerity program remains unlikely, there is evidence of fiscal laxity creeping in all over the continent. Italy, France and Spain are already engaged in fiscal stimulus and it is only a matter of time before Germany deploys its balance sheet to support the economy.



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October 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Seven-Year Auto Loan: America's Middle Class Can't Afford Its Cars

This article by Ben Eisen and Adrienne Roberts for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Just 18% of U.S. households had enough liquid assets to cover the cost of a new car, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of 2016 data from the Fed’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, a proportion that hasn’t changed much in recent years.

Even a conservative car loan often won’t do it. The median-income U.S. household with a four-year loan, 20% down and a payment under 10% of gross income—a standard budget—could afford a car worth $18,390, excluding taxes, according to an analysis by personal-finance website Bankrate.com.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla is likely to introduce a car with a battery capable of lasting for one million miles of driving. Having a car for long enough to come close to even a fraction of that distance could justify taking out a seven-year loan to fund the purchase but that misses the point. The aim is for those batteries to go into autonomous vehicles.



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September 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DRAM Production Growth Could Be Less Than Previously Forecast

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

When asked about the factors driving Micron's hiking of its calendar 2019 outlook for NAND demand growth -- Micron now expects industry-wide NAND bit demand to grow by a low-to-mid 40s percentage, up from prior guidance for mid-30s growth -- Zinser was quick to note the impact of rising smartphone storage capacities in the wake of healthy price declines.

And in line with earnings call comments made by CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, Zinser noted that lower NAND prices are lifting solid-state drive capacities and (in what's a negative for hard drive suppliers) attach rates. He indicated the data center is an area where price elasticity is especially boosting NAND demand.

In addition to hiking its NAND demand guidance, Micron cut its NAND industry supply (output) guidance amid ongoing capital spending cuts, forecasting NAND bit supply will only grow by about 30% this year. For 2020, Micron is guiding for NAND bit demand to grow by a high-20s to low-30s percentage, and for supply growth to be "somewhat below" demand growth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The disappointing guidance Micron gave at its earnings call resulted in a sharp retracement of its overextension relative to the trend mean. However, that decline is occurring against the background of underperformance this year which has seen the share recoup less than half of last year’s decline.



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September 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Navy Says Those UFO Videos Are Real

This article by Kyle Mizokami for popular Mechanics may be of interest. Here is a section:

That terminology is important. "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" provides "the basic descriptor for the sightings/observations of unauthorized/unidentified aircraft/objects that have been observed entering/operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges," Gradisher told The Black Vault.

In other words, the Pentagon says the aerial objects in the videos are simply unidentified, and for now, unexplained. The Navy is pointedly not saying the objects are flying saucers or otherwise controlled by aliens.

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense told The Black Vault that the videos were unclassified, but never cleared for public release, and that there had been no review process within the Pentagon for releasing them.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is either a big piece of technological news or one of the best pieces of counter intelligence in recent times.



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September 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Peloton Deepens IPO Slump in 3rd-Worst Unicorn Debut Since '08

This article by Crystal Tse and Hailey Waller for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Peloton Interactive Inc. fell as much as 9.5% Thursday after raising $1.16 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, becoming the latest unprofitable startup to fail to win over investors in its trading debut.

Peloton’s shares opened at $27 and were down 7.2% to $26.90 at 12:38 p.m. in New York trading, giving the company a value $7.5 billion. The fitness startup sold 40 million shares for $29 each on Wednesday, after marketing them for $26 to $29.

It marks the third-worst trading debut in 10 years in the U.S. for companies that have raised at least $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The IPO also comes as investors have been rattled by the sudden disintegration of WeWork’s plan to go public in September.

Peloton Chief Executive Officer John Foley said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he had “some disappointment” about the reception but was confident in his company’s prospects.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The one point that seemed to get very little commentary in the lead up to this IPO was just how fad-prone the fitness industry is. Soul Cycle and spinning are all the rage at the moment. I personally go to at least two, if not three, hybrid cycling and toning classes a week. After 18 months of these classes I am starting to find them monotonous and that is a big challenge for a company that is trying to sell a range of workouts via phone or its enormously overpriced pieces of equipment. I just can’t see why someone would pay $40 to Peloton for online classes when they can pay the same or less at an LAFitness without the capital expense and space requirement of the exercise equipment.



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September 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Machine Learning's "Amazing" Ability to Predict Chaos

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

“This is really very good,” Holger Kantz, a chaos theorist at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, said of the eight-Lyapunov-time prediction. “The machine-learning technique is almost as good as knowing the truth, so to say.”

The algorithm knows nothing about the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation itself; it only sees data recorded about the evolving solution to the equation. This makes the machine-learning approach powerful; in many cases, the equations describing a chaotic system aren’t known, crippling dynamicists’ efforts to model and predict them. Ott and company’s results suggest you don’t need the equations — only data. “This paper suggests that one day we might be able perhaps to predict weather by machine-learning algorithms and not by sophisticated models of the atmosphere,” Kantz said.

Besides weather forecasting, experts say the machine-learning technique could help with monitoring cardiac arrhythmias for signs of impending heart attacks and monitoring neuronal firing patterns in the brain for signs of neuron spikes. More speculatively, it might also help with predicting rogue waves, which endanger ships, and possibly even earthquakes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trajectory of human development has largely been focused on the occasional appearance of a particularly gifted individual. Someone theorises what will be achievable in future and develops a mathematical formula which will take time to prove with physical experiments. The intervening period between the theory and reality has often been counted in centuries.

The advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence greatly accelerated that intellectual evolution. It represents a wonderful example of an enabling technology which will create productivity gains and new technology sectors out of nowhere.   



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September 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Eoin's personal portfolio update

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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September 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How We Should Bust an Investing Myth

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

According to PitchBook Data, 66 companies valued at $1 billion or more have done initial public offerings from 2011 through mid-September 2019. A third of those IPOs came at prices below the value set in the companies’ last round of private funding. Bloom Energy Corp. , Cloudera Inc., Domo Inc., Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Zynga Inc. all launched IPOs priced at least 40% lower than the valuation in their final private-funding round, according to PitchBook.

Perhaps that’s because conventional valuation methods may overstate what private funds’ venture holdings are worth. Often, several share classes are valued equally even though they aren’t all entitled to the same payoffs.

Or perhaps the brilliance of the private market is overstated. Consider a recent survey of nearly 900 venture capitalists.

Asked whether they “often make a gut decision to invest” in a fledgling company rather than relying on analysis, 44% of venture-fund executives said yes.

Which financial metrics do they use to analyze investments? “None,” admitted 9% of respondents. Only 11% quantitatively analyze past investment performance. A similar survey of private-equity executives found that they “do not frequently use” the methods that are standard among public investors for discounting the future cash their holdings might generate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The “vision thing” as Bill Clinton was wont to say is not a topic that submits readily to discounted cashflows. That is particularly true of angel investing where one is taking bets on companies with no earnings not to mind profits. However, an investor that is investing in a company with billions in earnings and still running billion-dollar losses has to know they are not in the same game as an angel investor. After the first or second round of funding, the only rationale for investing is the wish to sell to a bigger fool later unless one is luck enough to latch onto a lottery scale winner.



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September 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Round numbers and indecision

Eoin Treacy's view -

One would be forgiven for concluding that algorithms have been programed with round numbers in mind. Roundophobia has been a topic of conversation at The Chart Seminar for decades but it is particularly relevant now because so many instruments have paused in the region of big round numbers. I’m greatly looking forward to the next event which will be in London on October 3rd and 4th.



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September 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ethereum, XRP, and Litecoin Lead Alt Season 2.0

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

But as the saying goes, this time may be different. Altcoins are bouncing from long-term support, and the rallies are showing exceptional strength, and are even continuing to rally while Bitcoin struggles with overhead resistance – something not seen for much of 2019.

Ethereum has been leading the charge, with as much as 20% growth. XRP , one of the worst-performing crypto assets of 2019, has also gained around 20% even as sentiment surrounding the altcoin hits an all-time low.  EOS and Dash are also up by a similar margin.

Litecoin, Cardano, Tron, Tezos and IOTA, and others from the top 20 crypto assets by market cap are also up by about 10% or more. Stellar, which has plummeted further and further throughout the bear market spiked by 40%.

The boom in altcoins is due to extremely oversold conditions, and a breakdown in Bitcoin dominance – a metric that weights the king of crypto against the rest of the market. But depending on the type of formation that BTC dominance is in, it could spike back up, wiping out any gains altcoins have seen during this rally.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Historically, when silver rallied it was a good lead indicator for what one might expect from gold. That did not prove the case on this occasion not least because there was such widespread disillusionment with the precious metals sector. Gold rallied first and silver played catchup. In the cryptocurrency markets bitcoin has tended to be the go-to market. When it rallies impressively, speculation on which alt-coin will play catchup tends to stoke demand for the smaller markets. The opposite appears to be happening on this occasion.



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September 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Factors or Fundamentals, Quant Tremor Is Field Day for the Geeks

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

You wouldn’t know it from benchmarks, but beneath a tranquil surface violent swings are lashing traders along obscure fault lines. Companies like real-estate firms that rose the most in 2019 are plunging, and some that have trailed are being pushed out front. It’s been a mild reckoning for hedge funds and others who have bet on the status quo persisting.

Amid all the churn has been a renewed focus on a quantitative concept known as factor investing, which groups companies not by industry but traits such as how fast their prices move or profits rise. A question gaining currency in the past few days is whether these categories are just handy descriptions of twists in the market -- or are at some level guiding them.

“It seems very mechanical right now,” said John Swarr, investment specialist at Penn Mutual Asset Management, which has $27 billion under management. “If you look within some of these stocks that are being hit the hardest, some are in much better shape than others and yet they’re all being affected similarly,” he said. “It does feel like it’s a rules-based rotation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The total of negative yields bonds was at $17 trillion for a brief time at the end of August and has since contracted to $14.3 trillion. That’s a big more in a little less than two weeks.

The failure of the German government to sell a full allocation of bonds and failed auctions at the US Treasury in August were probably the catalysts for sapping investor demand for bonds globally. The unwinding of leveraged long positions now has the scope for meaningfully move bond yields higher with clear upward dynamics evident across multiple markets.



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September 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Killer Superbugs Show No Mercy for Cancer Victims

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

Doctors in India are sounding the alarm over a threat to cancer patients that’s proving deadlier than tumors: untreatable infections from superbugs impervious to existing medications.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy in the country are at the front line of the worldwide spread of bacteria that the most potent antibiotics can’t fight. Bloodstream infections caused by these superbugs have become the leading cause of illness and death in leukemia patients, doctors from India’s top-ranked medical college reported last year.

That frightening reality has forced patients to weigh fighting their deadly malignancies with treatments against the probability of dying sooner from an incurable infection. In India, some 1.7 million receive a cancer diagnosis every year, often leading to chemotherapy that makes them especially vulnerable. Worldwide, at least 700,000 people die annually from drug-resistant infections. That number will balloon to 10 million a year by 2050 and will cost more than $100 trillion in lost economic output without corrective actions, according to a U.K. government study, which estimates that by midcentury more people will die from superbug infections than from cancer and diabetes combined.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a growing relentlessly which makes the drive to come up with effective treatments all the more urgent. Strides are being made in understanding how to combat the threat but everyone knows of someone who has contracted an infection in hospital at this stage. The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.



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September 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Advance as Risks Recede; Greenback Slides

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

Stocks in Hong Kong leaped the most since 2018 after embattled leader Carrie Lam said she formally withdrew legislation to allow extraditions to China, the detonator for three months of often-violent protests. In the U.K., the pound surged after Parliament took a crucial first step to block a no-deal Brexit. The euro advanced after purchasing managers indexes for the region beat expectations, while the onshore Chinese yuan gained following another stronger-than-forecast currency fixing.

“The main news is geopolitical, with less risk in Hong Kong, and Italy and the U.K. Investors are reacting positively to the lower geopolitical risks even though there’s still concerns over trade tensions as well as slower economic growth,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. “Overall, it’s a positive day. It’s about offsetting the worries of yesterday which really focused, I think, on geopolitical risks.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Italy has a new government, at least for a while, the Hong Kong protestors got what they originally asked for but their demands have swollen considerably since then, the UK may be heading for an election, but could still end up with a hung parliament and factory figures are not quite as disastrous as many people were worried about. I think it is safe to say that these are modest improvements. Perhaps it would be better to look elsewhere for the reason behind the bounce in equities today.



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September 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Eoin's personal portfolio: crypto long increased July 15th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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September 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Is a Tech Company?

I found this a thoughtful article from the Stratechery blog discussing what should qualify as a technology company. Here is a section on Netflix:

The question of whether companies are tech companies, then, depends on how much of their business is governed by software’s unique characteristics, and how much is limited by real world factors. Consider Netflix, a company that both competes with traditional television and movie companies yet is also considered a tech company:

There is no real software-created ecosystem.
Netflix shows are delivered at zero marginal costs without the need to pay distributors (although bandwidth bills are significant).
Netflix’s product improves over time.
Netflix is able to serve the entire world because of software, giving them far more leverage than much of their competition.
Netflix can transact with anyone with a self-serve model.

Netflix checks four of the five boxes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

TV shows and movies are delivered at no additional marginal cost once produced. That is true but they do not have the same residual value as software because unless the show is particularly good the vast majority of people will never watch it again.



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August 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New CRISPR Method Advances the Clock for Genetic Editing

This article by Adam Dachis for Extreme Tech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

If genetic editing wasn’t crazy enough for your reality, a recent breakthrough in CRISPRtechnology has paved the way for editing entire gene networks in a single step.  While this discovery will likely shorten the timeframes required for finding cures for deadly illnesses, it can also bring us closer to threats of bioterrorism.

Scientists at ETH Zurich recently published a new CRISPR technique in Nature Methodsthat removes one of the most significant limitations of the technology.  Prior to this discovery, the process could only target a single gene for editing.  The ETH scientists now managed to target 25 at once and believe that, theoretically, this method could target hundreds.  Here’s how they describe the process:

Eoin Treacy's view -

An improvement of 25 times in one iteration is a further example of the exponential growth in the biotechnology sector. The pace with which genetic sequencing prices have collapsed far outpaced that of Moore’s Law and it is looking increasingly likely that genetic editing is following a similar trajectory.



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August 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Says Economy in Favorable Place, Faces Significant Risks

This article by Craig Torres and Rich Miller for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown and in weak manufacturing and capital spending in the United States,” Powell said in the text of his remarks Friday to central bankers gathered at the Kansas City Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “We will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2% objective.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is looking like the learning curve for a newly installed Fed chair is about 18 months. Today’s measured statement from Jerome Powell did an excellent job of placating investor fears while leaving open the optionality of how much to cut by. The Fed has made clear they will cut rates if they need to but will not hurry. However, the simultaneous announcement by China that they are increasing tariffs on $75 billion of US goods is likely to be prove the catalyst for deeper cuts.



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August 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba's Financial Superstar is Shining Once More

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

At 1.63 billion yuan ($237 million), Alibaba’s share of Ant’s profit was the highest in almost two years. In three of the past eight quarters, Ant ran at a loss or provided zero earnings to Alibaba, according to the data. Despite this uptick, Ant’s contribution to Alibaba’s bottom line remains minor at around 7% of operating income. It could shrink again if Alibaba’s e-commerce business dwindles.

Yet Ant has plans to expand its reach throughout China’s economy, including moves deeper into wealth management and other financial products. This could make it relatively robust against any weakness in online and offline commerce should a macroeconomic slowdown continue. 

Given Alibaba’s moves to broaden its business into offline shopping, cloud computing and entertainment, investors may not need to get panicky about retail just yet. But when that time comes, Ant may have grown large enough to shine a bright enough light across the rest of the business. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Both Amazon and Alibaba are discovering that the future of retail is a hybrid online and bricks & mortar experience. That is not what investors believed would be the case when they accepted massive valuations. The theory was the high costs of physical infrastructure on the high street would be replaced by smaller workforces and remote warehouses. The truth is we need both and that comes at a cost. The benefit both companies have is they are in a better position to provide this kind of hybrid experience than many established retailers.



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August 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Revealed: how Monsanto's 'intelligence center' targeted journalists and activists

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

The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller. They show:

Monsanto planned a series of “actions” to attack a book authored byGillam prior to its release, including writing “talking points” for “third parties” to criticize the book and directing “industry and farmer customers” on how to post negative reviews.

Monsanto paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Monsanto PR staff also internally discussed placing sustained pressure on Reuters, saying they “continue to push back on [Gillam’s] editors very strongly every chance we get”, and that they were hoping “she gets reassigned”.

Monsanto “fusion center” officials wrote a lengthy report about singer Neil Young’s anti-Monsanto advocacy, monitoring his impact on social media, and at one point considering “legal action”. The fusion center also monitored US Right to Know (USRTK), a not-for-profit, producing weekly reports on the organization’s online activity.

Monsanto officials were repeatedly worried about the release of documents on their financial relationships with scientists that could support the allegations they were “covering up unflattering research”.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s hard to imagine how much more toxic Monsanto’s reputation can get but as the record of the company’s nefarious actions come to light it is understandable why they were so willing to be taken over by Bayer. They are now attempting to settle the Roundup weedkiller class action lawsuits for $6-$8 billion while lawyers are looking for more upwards of $10 billion.



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August 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Discusses the Impact of China's Growth on the World Economy

This is a fascinating interview where Ray Dalio discusses the merits of betting on China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two very big questions we have to answer which are fundamental to the construction of a long-term portfolio. The first is does governance really mean anything? The second is how do you value private assets in a portfolio?
 
At this service we have long held that governance is everything. Is that still true? Ray Dalio appears to be agnostic on whether property rights, respect for minority shareholder interests, an independent judiciary and a free press are important. What I personally find particularly interesting is that the performance of China’s stock market, during the decade where it has achieved the heights of its ambition has been dismal.



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August 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla's big battery in South Australia is a "complete waste of resources," claims Nissan

This article by Simon Alvarez for Teslarati.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Thomas’ statement comes as he was discussing the new Leaf’s vehicle-to-grid/vehicle-to-home (V2G/V2H) system, which will allow the all-electric car to serve as a home battery unit. With the system in place, the Leaf will not only store energy by plugging into a home or business; the vehicle could also serve the energy back when needed. V2H is already in use in countries such as Japan, and a release in Australia is expected within six months. 

The Nissan executive noted that the Leaf’s V2G system has the potential to help homeowners save money, especially if the vehicle charges through a rooftop solar system during the day, and uses its stored energy to power appliances and lights at night. 

“The way we distribute and consume energy is fundamentally inefficient … what we need is flexibility in the system. It’s great that we’ve invested all this money in renewable energy, but fundamentally we’re wasting most of that energy because it’s all being generated in the middle of the day when we don’t really need it,” he said. 

Tim Washington, CEO of charging solutions provider Jetcharge, noted that Nissan V2H technology has a lot of potential, considering that vehicles spend much of their time just parked, or in the case of electric cars, plugged in. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has battery manufacturing capacity so it produces batteries. Nissan produces cars so it is pushing a use case for cars to provide base load during periods of peak consumption.



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August 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Yuan Tumbles Past 7 Per Dollar for First Time Since 2008

This article by Tian Chen and Sofia Horta e Costa for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The yuan declined 0.9% in mainland trading last week, its biggest loss since mid-May, after President Donald Trump abruptly escalated the trade war with new tariffs on Chinese goods. Beijing pledged to respond if the U.S. goes ahead with a plan to impose a 10% tariff on a further $300 billion in Chinese
imports.

“It appears that the tariffs hike suggests the return of tit-for-tat moves and a suspension of trade talks, and the PBOC sees no need to keep the yuan stable in the near term,” said Ken Cheung, a senior currency strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. The tumble exacerbated losses in Asia’s financial markets.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China devalued its currency when the first round of tariffs was imposed and it is doing so again now that tariffs have been imposed on all of its exports to the USA. The Renminbi broke below CNY 7 today and that represents the reassertion of its bearish trend.

The devaluation of the currency below CNY7 is a major change of policy for China and it greatly increases potential for capital flight. That is the one thing China cannot afford to allow. The entire rationale for supporting the economy, and ensuring the ability to manage systemic risk in the nonperforming loans sector, is based on the trillions in deposits sitting in the banking and post office systems



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August 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Top Miners Are Split on How to Chase the EV Battery Boom

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

“We did a review of all the battery input materials -- nickel, cobalt, lithium,” said Eduard Haegel, asset president at the BHP’s Nickel West unit. “We think that in the medium-to-longer term there will be a margin that will be sticky for nickel -- we think it’s an attractive commodity.”

BHP, the biggest miner, this year reversed long-term efforts to seek a buyer for the division, opting to retain Nickel West to benefit from forecast growth in lithium-ion batteries and a scarcity of high-quality nickel supply. From the second quarter of 2020, the unit will begin production of bright-turquoise colored nickel sulphate -- a premium raw material for the battery supply chain -- from a nickel refinery south of Perth, with plans to potentially carry out the industry’s largest expansion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every auto manufacturer is going to have electric vehicle offerings in the next 18 months. That is going to create a lot of demand for batteries and the commodities that comprise the anode, cathode, catalysts and electrolyte.



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August 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

JAXA releases footage of Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's second asteroid touchdown

This article by  Anthony Wood for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released a video showing the climactic moments of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's second descent to the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The goal of the risky operation was to capture newly exposed material from the asteroid's interior, which had been forcefully ejected during the creation of an artificial crater on Ryugu's surface in early April.

The footage of the second dive was captured on July 11, 2019 by Hayabusa 2's publicly-funded onboard small monitor camera (CAM-H). The playback is at 10x actual speed, and shows the spacecraft's final descent to the surface, which occurred between 10:03:54 – 10:11:44 JST.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There has been a lot of speculation over the last twenty years about when asteroid mining might become a reality. This is the first example of the thesis in action. While the program is research-oriented, and only interested in collecting small samples, it is a proof of concept which takes the sector from the fanciful to the possible. Considering the pace of innovation in space technology it is no exaggeration that we may see commercial asteroid mining within the decade.



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July 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Foreigners Sell Rand Assets at Record Pace as Eskom Woes Mount

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

Fitch Ratings Ltd. followed on Friday by cutting its outlook for Africa’s most industrialized economy to negative. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said the same day that a rally in the rand since the start of June was more to do with a supportive global environment than improvements in conditions locally.

“We now believe levels are stretched enough to enter outright rand shorts,” JPMorgan analysts including London-based Anezka Christovova and Robert Habib in New York said in a note. “South Africa’s fundamental picture remains very challenging with a ballooning fiscal deficit and structurally low growth.”

Citigroup Inc. recommended to clients on Monday that they short the rand against the Turkish lira. The Wall Street bank’s analysts see the latter strengthening about 7% versus the South African currency over the next three months.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mismanagement of utilities in emerging markets whether in South Africa or Venezuela is often one of the most apparent signs of low or deteriorating standards of governance. Utilities provide essential services but are mostly state run, they have reliable cashflows and the cost of upkeeping vital pieces of infrastructure can be delayed for years without apparent loss of service. That makes them perfect candidates for political rent seeking or theft.



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July 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBA Chief Says He's Ready to Ease Again, Sees Rates Staying Low

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

“But if demand growth is not sufficient, the board is prepared to provide additional support by easing monetary policy further,” he said. “Whether or not further monetary easing is needed, it is reasonable to expect an extended period of low interest rates. On current projections, it will be some time before inflation is comfortably back within the target range.”

Lowe’s speech, which made the case for maintaining the RBA’s current policy framework despite prolonged low inflation, was his most explicit that further easing remains on the table. The Reserve Bank cut rates in June and July to a record low of 1% and signaled at the time that it would wait to see how the easing filtered through the economy.

Since then, consumer confidence has actually fallen and the currency has risen -- the latter due to an easing bias among major central banks -- in contrast to RBA’s hopes. Indeed, the Federal Reserve is expected to cut as soon as next week. Westpac Banking Corp. Chief Economist Bill Evans on Wednesday predicted Lowe and co. would cut in October and February to push the cash rate to 0.5%.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Australia’s administration is attempting to forestall the decline in domestic property prices by cutting interest rates, embarking on an aggressive fiscal stimulus and implementing direct supports for the property market.



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July 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Hottest Phones for the Next Billion Users Aren't Smartphones

This article by Newley Purnell for The Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Millions of first-time internet consumers from the Ivory Coast to India and Indonesia are connecting to the web on a new breed of device that only costs about $25. The gadgets look like the inexpensive NokiaCorp. phones that were big about two decades ago. But these hybrid phones, fueled by inexpensive mobile data, provide some basic apps and internet access in addition to calling and texting.

Smart feature phones, as they are known, are one of the mobile-phone industry’s fastest-growing and least-known segments, providing a simple way for some of the world’s poorest people to enter the internet economy.

While global smartphone sales began sliding last year as markets became saturated, smart feature phone shipments tripled to around 75 million from 2017, according to research firm Counterpoint. Some 84 million are likely to be shipped this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Phones are an example of enabling technology. Delivering internet access to the masses, primarily in frontier and emerging markets, opens up growth potential for the companies delivering services through these devices. Considering the market penetration companies like Google and Facebook already have, reaching the last couple of billion potential users has to be high on their list of priorities.



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July 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evaluating US Nuclear Competitiveness and its Future as a Carbon-Free Clean Energy Source

Thanks to a Keith Rabin for this interview of Dr.Robert F.Ichord. Here is a section:

Both Russia and China are strongly committed to domestic nuclear development, international nuclear power exports, and the development of small modular reactors (SMR) and advanced nuclear reactors. Russia is building seven third–generation VVER–1200 reactors domestically and over twenty internationally. China is building domestically about eleven indigenous units, not including the Russia VVERs, the French EPRs or the recently completed US AP–1000s. They have two reactors of the Hualong One design under construction in Pakistan near Karachi and one planned at Chasma, the site of older, smaller Chinese reactors. They are also pursuing deals in the UK, Romania and Argentina as well as Bulgaria and several other countries. These strong state–financed commitments create the domestic and industrial capabilities needed for future innovation as well as to establish long–term political and economic relationships with countries of strategic interest. US historical influence over international standards and regulatory system development is therefore being challenged as well as US overall foreign policy interests in democracy and open markets. South Korean and Japanese companies are also international competitors but remain long–time US collaborators.

According to the World Nuclear Association about 30 countries are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programs. These range from sophisticated economies to developing nations. Is nuclear a viable option for emerging and frontier economies and how does installation and utilization differ in these locations from developed economies in terms of safety, non–proliferation as well as political stability, environmental and regulatory standards, supporting infrastructure and other factors?

I believe there is a major shift occurring in the global nuclear industry from the industrial countries to the non–OECD countries. Most of future global electricity growth will be in these countries and they want to diversify and develop cleaner energy systems. Despite the huge upfront costs, countries are deciding to accept attractive Russian and Chinese financing for these large, multi–billion dollar units. There is the national pride involved from joining the “nuclear club' as well as possible corruption in certain cases. Russia also offers military equipment as well as full fuel and operating services in its strategy to expand influence. Although both Russia and China have significant training efforts to develop local capacities, overall governance and transparency in a number of these countries is weak and the commitment to competent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)–like regulatory institutions is questionable. Although most of the countries have signed the Non–Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, the introduction of current nuclear power technologies in countries and regions – in which there are significant tensions and political conflicts, e.g. Middle East – raises serious concerns for US foreign policy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mining investment cycle of the early part of this century delivered on additional supply capacity. While the building plans for new reactors are impressive, they have been slowed by the Fukushima disaster and competition from other energy sources. That has resulted in quite a bit of volatility for uranium miners.



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July 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

July 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on climate change from Dr. David Brown:

I am impressed by your bravery in questioning much that appears in the media about 'climate change'. I am sure the climate is changing, as it is still warming from the last ice age, but that is a natural cycle. As a dyed-in-the-wool scientist, trained carefully in my PhD studies in the logic, method and philosophy of science, I have been horrified by the apparent abandonment of scientific method by many in research on our climate. 

I say this for two reasons. The first is that a basic premise of scientific method is that nothing can ever be proven for certain, that all conclusions are subject to change. Adoption of that approach was a key step in development of the scientific method and abandonment of religious-type certainty, yet it appears to have been abandoned as far as climate research in concerned. Second, you may remember that ex-president Obama opined that no grant money should be given to scientists seeking to disprove theories of climate change, yet the whole scientific method IS to generate experiments to disprove a hypothesis. I recommend subscribers read Karl Popper on this matter, as he explains the scientific method very clearly. 

I do not know whether human activity is particularly relevant to climate change, but I do know that much that passes as 'scientific research and comment' is just the opposite. I am more concerned about pollution that carbon dioxide, and that focus would have been much wiser than the approach adopted by the EU that ignored common sense, led to subsidy of diesel engines, and caused tens of thousands of premature deaths. (Was anyone ever held to account?). I never switched to diesel.

Well, despite Obama, there are alternative research views being published and this article refers to one quite contrary to the carbon dioxide hypothesis.

The original research article can be accessed by links in the article and I strongly suggest subscribers do read it to at least loosen their views a little.

It suggests that human influence is negligible and that any changes are mostly due to increased cloud cover generated by cycles in cosmic radiation. However, I fully expect the response to an alternative view will be as you stated: "Confirming evidence is accepted at face value but non-confirming evidence is dismissed. This practice is justified by the urgency of the problem and the need for action, but it is exactly when a vital decision needs to be made that cool heads need to prevail." 

Well done Eoin for stating this. You are impressive in your clear thinking and all subscribers benefit from your wisdom if they learn from you while investing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and I also read the article citing Finnish research with interest. Karl Popper was required reading when I was at university.

Cloud formation as a result of cosmic rays is particularly interesting as is cloud formation resulting from airline contrails. There are over 100,000 airline flights per day and that number is growing at an impressive rate as living standards rise. It makes intuitive sense that if there are more clouds the blanket effect of trapped heat is greater. Therefore, one of the most important innovations to monitor for pollution and climate is the drive towards emission free air travel.  

This article also discusses how planes can make rain and snow storms worse.

This link to Comment of the Day on May 21st may also be of interest. 

One point worth considering is if the regulatory authorities were not willing to act against diesel there is no chance a concerted effort will be made to tackle aircraft pollution until a viable alternative is commercially available.



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July 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on climate change.

Regarding the Allen Brooks piece on Climate change. I have to say I find the benign conclusions of the report totally unconvincing. Over the years I have read widely on the subject and have been especially impressed by the publications and books of one of the most eminent climate scientists whose work goes back more than 50 years. I refer to Professor James Lovelock. In a recent BBC interview, he suggested that global warming may be entering an acceleration phase. As I write this reply a news story has just announced that a high-pressure dome is due to affect the Eastern states of the US with predicted city temperatures likely to exceed 40 deg C. The simple fact is that you cannot expect hydrocarbons that have been trapped in the Earth’s crust over many millions of years, to be exploited by man over a few decades with the bye products going into the atmosphere, without grave consequences.to follow. Globally we have just experienced the hottest June ever and significantly Siberia has been 7 deg C above normal for the time of year. I mention this in respect of the melting permafrost which is now releasing methane in significant amounts. A gas thirty times more significant than CO2.as a greenhouse gas Of course this topic is an extremely emotional one, simply because the decisions made now on how we collectively proceed could not be more important. On balance I think I would go with the IPCC and James Lovelock. His books on Gaia theory, by the way, are worth reading

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to others. Higher median temperatures and more humid conditions in some areas than we are accustomed to are a fact. Coral bleaching and marine calcification are also facts we cannot dispel. Pollution of our rivers, lakes and oceans, desertification following logging and rapid expansion of cities to accommodate billions more people all represent significant challenges that need to be dealt with.



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July 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla's Surprise $6,410 Price Cut Sparks a Rant From One Devotee

This article by Keith Naughton and Kyle Lahucik for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Musk has fielded many complaints personally -- and publicly -- on Twitter. Much like Tesla has wavered with its pricing, he’s oscillated from adamant, to apologetic, to apathetic, to argumentative. And for the chief executive officer of a company that’s sought to revolutionize car-buying, he’s offered up a perhaps unlikely excuse: Hey, other automakers are doing this, too.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The automotive sector has not been this interesting in a century. There are multiple arguments for which view of the future will prevail. There are competing technologies and perhaps most important there are competing business models. Tesla hasn’t quite figured out what its business model is just yet and that is because autonomous driving, when it finally happens, will change everything.



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July 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles as Trump Critique Tests Stellar Run for 2019

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

The tumble comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized digital coins on the heels of this year’s stellar rally. Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday that he is “not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” adding that “Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

Bitcoin “continues to trade lower as comments from President Trump put downward pressure on the cryptocurrency,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. in Toronto. Drawing Trump’s ire means “it could fall further to $8,000, giving back all the gains made in June.” Bitcoin initially climbed after Trump’s comments, but has since more than erased the gains.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a tendency in the opaque crypto market to attach causality to coincidence. I am not at all sure how much credence to give the conclusion that President Trump’s tweets were behind this weekend’s sell off.



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July 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Can Low Rates Explain High Stock Prices? Not So Fast

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

One such model was proposed in a 2017 article in the Journal of Portfolio Management by Research Affiliates founder Robert Arnott and several colleagues. They found that P/E ratios tend to be lower when real interest rates, or those adjusted to remove the effects of inflation, are either too high or too low. The “sweet spot,” as far as P/E ratios are concerned, is when real rates are between 3% and 4%. Since real rates currently are below 1%, Mr. Arnott’s research provides no support for the above-average current P/E ratio.

In an email, Mr. Arnott poses a rhetorical question for those who believe that today’s low interest rates should automatically translate into higher P/E ratios. If that were the case, “then why don’t negative real interest rates in Europe and Japan justify even higher valuation levels [than in the U.S.]?! Instead, these markets are priced 20-40% cheaper than the U.S.” as judged by their P/E and CAPE ratios, he writes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Taking historical comparisons as a basis for a world with trillions in negative yielding bonds does not make sense. Once interest rates go below zero it sets of a stampede for yield among yield-to-worst investors and creates a momentum driven trade in the opposite direction for traders. The big difference between Europe and Japan compared to the USA is urgency.



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July 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Signals Rate Cut as Trade War Outweighs Strong Job Market

This article by Craig Torres and Katia Dmitrieva for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Powell carefully explained the reasons why the policy committee has shifted its views this year, and noted that “crosscurrents have reemerged, creating greater uncertainty.” Despite a current trade war truce with China, he continued to stress downside risks to the outlook.

“Uncertainties about the outlook have increased in recent months,” Powell said in the text of his remarks. “Economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the U.S. economy. Moreover, a number of government policy issues have yet to be resolved, including trade developments, the federal debt ceiling, and Brexit.”

He noted that policy makers are carefully monitoring developments including the risk that weak readings on inflation could be “even more persistent than we currently anticipate.”

In addition, Powell pointed to a slowdown in business investment, decelerating global growth, and declines in housing investment and manufacturing output.

“It strongly suggests they’re going to be inclined to ease at the meeting later this month,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “He continued to highlight the uncertainties that are weighing on the outlook rather than highlighting the better jobs report.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed has been saying for a decade that they are going to be data dependent. However, that leaves a lot of leeway over what kind of data they will be swayed by. This graphic of the rate at which people are voluntarily quitting their jobs overlaid with the Fed Funds Rate suggests the domestic US consumer is confident about the economy but the Fed is still getting ready to cut rates.



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July 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Venture Capital Boom Shows Signs of Turning Into a Bust

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

But the rise of China’s tech industry put it squarely in the crossfire of the trade war. The Trump administration has accused China of stealing intellectual property and unfairly subsidizing companies in strategic fields, including semiconductors, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving. In May, the U.S. blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., preventing the telecom giant from buying American components, and is considering doing the same to a swath of startups.

The trade war gives investors one more reason for caution. Valuations had already grown vertiginous. High-profile startups such as smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp. and delivery giant Meituan Dianping saw their stocks tumble after they went public, reinforcing the impression that private-market valuations had gotten out of hand.

So-called sharing economy startups have also tested the patience of their investors. Companies like Didi, Meituan and bike-sharing provider Ofo blitzed the market with heavy subsidies to grab market share from rivals, making up for their losses with venture money. Now there’s skepticism that many such companies will ever turn a profit.

“You’re really reaching the end of the shared economy -- this idea of let’s give away services for free and make up for it in volume,” Rieschel said. “Some companies -- Didi is the classic case -- are just not showing any ability to become profitable.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Do visionaries appear at the just the right time, or do they get the opportunities to turn their ideas into a semblance of reality because liquidity is cheap and abundant? A confluence of technological innovations can coalesce to create wonderful new products like the iPhone. Alternatively, we can find new ways of doing things because the cost of running interminable losses is so low relative to the potential pay-out that any venture can secure funding. The latter group have clearly dominated in this cycle which tells us liquidity is the dominant reason behind the surge in valuations for private companies.



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July 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Uber Drivers

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many of the Uber’s we used to get around Columbus had cracked windshields. Generally speaking, insurance covers windshields but that may not be the case with a ride-hailing service. I don’t know enough about it to make a judgement. More than a few claimed it was because of all the grit on the road from construction but that does not explain the number of cars with cracked windshields that had not been fixed.



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July 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

India's Water Crisis Is Man-Made

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

Climate change activists have long argued that water will be the political flashpoint of the 21st century. Water-stressed India will likely be one of the first places to test that theory. The state of Tamil Nadu complains that it doesn’t receive its fair share of the waters of the Cauvery River; recently, the authority that nominally manages the river accused the government of neighboring Karnataka of holding onto water that it should have allowed to flow down to the Cauvery delta.


Things might get even testier up north, where more than a billion people depend upon rivers that rise in the Himalayas. Bangladesh and Pakistan feel that India is being stingy with river water.  Indian strategists constantly worry that China will divert water from the Himalayan rivers that rise in Tibet to feed the thirst cities in its own north.

The floods in Chennai are a warning. As the world warms, the rains on which India depends have become erratic: They frequently fail to arrive on time, and they fall in a more disparate and unpredictable pattern. The country can no longer afford to waste its dwindling resources.

A rapidly urbanizing and developing India needs to drought- proof its cities and rationalize its farming. Water-harvesting must be a priority, alongside mechanisms for groundwater replenishment. As it is, every summer is hotter and less bearable. If Indians run short of water as well, one of the world’s most populous nations could well become unlivable

Eoin Treacy's view -

India’s population is likely to exceed China’s sometime in the middle of the 2020s and peak around 1.6 billion sometime in the middle of the century. That’s a lot of people in a country that already seems crowded.

Generally speaking, water shortages are usually more about mismanagement of resources than an absolute lack of the precious commodity. There are exceptions of course but when rains fall every year the question is less about quantity and more about the quality of governance. In just the same way countries need clear national energy, commercial, military and political action plans, national water managements plans are also necessary for the long-term welfare of populations.



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July 01 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles as Cryptocurrency's 2019 Surge Starts to Waver

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

Bitcoin slumped, undoing some of this year’s epic rally and amplifying a recent trend of outsized weekend moves.

The largest cryptocurrency fell more than 18% from Friday to trade at $10,294 as of 11:58 a.m. in New York, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. It’s still up almost 200% since the start of the year. Most other large coins also dropped, with Bitcoin Cash and Dash declining at least 7.6%. Litecoin erased an earlier gain.

Optimism surrounding a potential increase in adoption of cryptocurrencies helped fuel price increases on Bitcoin last month. That took prices back to levels last seen at the start of 2018. The slide over the weekend is at odds with recent moves higher on Saturday and Sunday: surges in weekend activity since the start of May accounted for about 40% of Bitcoin’s price gains this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Raising the possibility that central banks may feel the need to create tokens, Bank for International Settlements General Manager Agustin Carstens said in an interview with the Financial Times that it may be “sooner than we think that there is a market and we have to create our own digital currencies.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin was originally designed as a response to the debauchment of fiat currencies in response to the credit crisis. By creating a digital asset with limited supply, it aims to hold value in a manner fiat currencies can’t. This limited supply feature is a significant factor in its value proposition but it is incompatible with the wider aim of delivering an alternative financial system.



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June 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Thucydides Trap and gold

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

His main focus is to outline where the US and China are with respect to realpolitik, or practical considerations, and how to avoid war. The signs are not good.

Writing in The Atlantic, Allison states that “Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment.” That was written in 2015, before the trade war started, so the case for war is even stronger now.

According to Allison, events that could make two nations fall into the trap may be small, “business as usual” conflicts that, if they occurred in a different dynamic, would lead to nothing. For example, the assassination of archduke Ferdinand, a relatively obscure and minor figure, was the spark that lit a whole conflagration of events that plunged Germany, an ascendant maritime power, into war with Britain, whose Royal Navy ruled the seas for decades. Consider the current conflicts between the Chinese and US navies in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. It would not take much - say a collision between two warships - to ignite the powder keg of war.

However, for the threat to be taken seriously, the rising power must have the capability to take on the incumbent power. Henry Kissinger, the US former secretary of state, wrote that “once Germany achieved naval supremacy … this in itself - regardless of German intentions - would be an objective threat to Britain, and incompatible with the existence of the British Empire.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Technological innovation is a doubled edged sword. It opens up new markets and provides greater efficiencies. It helps to boost economic growth but it also displaces military technology and upsets the status quo. That allows new entrants a chance to gain comparative advantage.



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June 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Visa, Mastercard, PayPal Join Facebook to Form Crypto Effort

This article by Julie Verhage, Jenny Surane and Kurt Wagner for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The currency, called Libra, will launch as soon as next year. It’s what’s known as a stablecoin, one that can avoid massive fluctuations in value so it can be used for everyday transactions. Industry experts and insiders say the payments companies want a seat at the table to help shape the new currency.

“It’s not unusual for the incumbents -- Visa, Mastercard, PayPal -- to partner with a disruptor,” Harshita Rawat, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in an interview. “They would at least want to participate in how this product is being developed.”

New payment methods such as Apple Pay and other mobile wallets are often slow to take off, so any competition is likely to be years away. Still, the earlier payments companies come to the project, the more time they have to ensure their businesses don’t suffer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A stablecoin is specifically designed to hold parity with a base fiat currency and therefore is not suited to speculative investment. They do, however, have attractions as being easy to convert into other crypto assets and have the same portability features. The one challenge stablecoins have had is there have a couple of instances of them being used as Ponzi schemes, because the provider did not have the assets on deposit to support the currency’s value. Facebook will likely solve for that problem at least, considering its substantial cash pile, but the much bigger issue will be in how it can monetise the financial transactions of its billions of users. That is where the clear investment opportunity resides.



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June 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disruptive Innovation: WHY NOW?

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

Secular bull markets are most often driven by massive technological innovation which creates productivity and growth and efficiencies where none where possible previously. That was true of mechanisation, electricity, semiconductors and the internet. It is also likely to be true of biotechnology, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics and batteries.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Beyond Meat Gains as Tim Hortons Adds Sandwiches at 4,000 Shops

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

 

Beyond Meat Inc. got a reprieve from two downgrades in as many days after Tim Hortons said it’s now offering faux-meat breakfast sandwiches at almost 4,000 locations across Canada.

The plant-based meat products maker gained as much as 7.1% in early trading after the coffee-and-doughnuts chain said it added three breakfast sandwiches to the menu made with Beyond Meat sausages after testing them at select stores last month.

The stock reversed earlier losses driven by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s decision Wednesday to cut its rating on Beyond Meat to market perform from outperform, saying shares of the company have gotten too expensive after a more than 400% rally since its May 1 initial public offering. On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s similar move spurred a 25% decline, Beyond Meat’s worst day since the debut.

Last week, the company reported quarterly earnings for the first time since the IPO, fuelling optimism among investors when it said sales would exceed $210 million this year, topping analysts’ estimates. It also said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization would break even, compared with projections it would have a loss. The results reinforce that consumer demand for alternative meat products is on the rise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

After seeing such an impressive move on the upside since the IPO, when I saw a Beyond Meat Burger on the menu of my club’s restaurant this afternoon, I thought I had better taste one. It was good and certainly competes favourably with the de rigeur beef patties at most fast food outlets. I would hasten to add however that it pales in comparison with the gourmet burgers on offer in London and much of Europe. The cost on the other hand was on par with any average burger and that is an important part of its appeal.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What Your Face May Tell Lenders About Whether You're Creditworthy

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

In its lending business, meanwhile, Ping An says it uses its technology to analyze the faces of loan applicants in real time, searching for “micro-expressions” that reveal their emotional and psychological state. Such expressions typically occur within fractions of seconds and are hard for people to control, and loan officers make more accurate judgments on the applicants’ credibility based on this information, according to an article posted by Ping An on its official WeChat social-media account in China last year.

For large loans, applicants often have to answer questions in an online video meeting that typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Ping An records and analyzes how the applicant answers questions, and looks for signs of eye-shifting or other suspicious behavior, which would be flagged by its system.

Ping An in January said it has made more than 500 billion yuan worth of loans with the help of its micro-expression technology. It also said the technology has helped shorten its average loan-approval times to two hours from five days.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tracking movement of large numbers of people and compiling databases on patterns of behaviour, social media activity and even utilities bills is about as a Big Brother as is currently imaginable. The rolling out of the social credit scheme to the insurance sector is just another part of that long-term project to compile a unique score for each individual which will be more exact than a credit score and will have broad spectrum uses beyond credit, not least in quelling political activism.



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June 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sunset of China's REE Dominance

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

China has overplayed its hand in the rare earth metals sector. Two years ago, it produced 80% of the worlds supply, now it produces 70%. The global economy is now alert to the fact that these metals represent vital components in all manner of new technology products.



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June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell's Floating Prelude LNG Poised to Load First Cargo

This article by Stephen Stapczynski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is full:

Shell’s Prelude floating LNG plant offshore Australia is expected to load its first cargo on the vessel Valencia Knutsen, which is currently idled in the area, according to commodity shipment tracker Kpler.

* The vessel arrived near Prelude on June 4 and was likely attempting to load from the facility, but it left berth range a few hours after arrival, Kpler analysts said

** The vessel will probably be moored alongside the Prelude facility before the end of the week: Kpler

* NOTE: Shipment of the first LNG cargo is “imminent,” Platts reported on June 4, citing Shell’s head of integrated gas, Maarten Wetselaar

Eoin Treacy's view -

When Royal Dutch Shell announced it was ready to spend billions on developing a major offshore LNG processing facility in Northern Australia a few years ago it was considered a risky venture. However, the company’s long-term bet on natural gas representing a much better demand growth trajectory than crude oil has been proved correct. 



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June 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The rise and rise of private markets

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

Dry powder: How much is too much? With competition rising and deals hard to find, GPs’ stocks of uncommitted capital, or dry powder, reached a record high of $1.8 trillion in 2017 (Exhibit 14). That was up 9 percent year on year; indeed, dry powder has grown by 10 percent on average every year since 2012. Does the industry have too much capital? Probably not, or at least not yet. If we compare dry powder to other measures, such as funds raised and AUM, “stocks” of capital available for investment have changed little over the past few years vis-à-vis the size of the industry. Dry powder as a percentage of in-year fundraising has been between 220 and 280 percent for the past six years. As a percentage of AUM, dry powder has been similarly consistent, at 30 to 34 percent. Nor are there any significant variations among asset classes, suggesting that GPs are finding adequate opportunities in every field. Furthermore, by the metric we introduced in the 2017 edition of this report, years of PE inventory on hand, dry powder still seems adequate to deal flow. If we divide dry powder by deal volume on a seven-year trailing basis, the industry seems to have cycled through its capital in a stable way for the past several years (Exhibit 15).

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report while focusing on 2018, references a lot of data from 2017. The quantity of capital now held by private equity groups in anticipation of a buying opportunity stands at $3 trillion. That’s almost a multiple from a couple of years ago and speaks both to the quantity of money still sloshing around and the dearth of attractively valued assets to buy with it.



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June 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google, Facebook Tumble Amid Heightened Antitrust Scrutiny

This article by Gerrit De Vynck and David McLaughlin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

American antitrust officials are under increasing pressure from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to step up scrutiny of technology giants, and several presidential candidates have already weighed in. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren laid out a detailed plan for breaking up the
tech giants in March.

European officials have already been aggressively pursuing antitrust cases against American tech firms, including Google, while so far the U.S. has been mostly hands-off.  That may be changing amid continuing criticism that lax enforcement in the U.S. has allowed tech platforms to dominate their markets. The FTC earlier this year set up a task force to examine the conduct of tech companies and their past mergers.

President Donald Trump and many Republicans have complained that Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. suppress conservative views.

Google, with a sprawling empire of businesses that could feasibly be targets, is in the dark about the focus of the investigation and hopes to learn more this week, according to another person familiar with the situation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capitalism trends towards concentration but ultimately runs up against the barrier of antitrust. The size and influence of companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook is the primary obstacle they face rather that the monopolies they control, although this latter point will be used to justify and attempted action.



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May 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on cloud computing stocks

I have a simple question.  A large number of cloud computing companies seem to show strong growth on the price charts for the last few years.  Do you think that this is a fundamentally based trend which will continue, or is it just another dot com bubble?

I am as always addicted to your excellent research and presentation.  Watching your video is the first thing I do every morning, and I even have to divide the Friday video into three parts, otherwise I feel deprived on Mondays.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and I am delighted you enjoy the videos. The cloud computing sector has been one of the best performers in this bull market as the app-based economy has flourished on the back of data centre buildouts.



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May 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on cryptocurrency exchanges:

I noticed that you did not mention Coinbase as a vehicle to use cryptocurrency; what would be the risks of opening an account with coinbase vs stockbrokers. Thank you.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which is highly topical for anyone considering buying cryptocurrencies via an exchange. The reason Fidelity’s move to provide custody is such a big deal is because it lends security to your holding.



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May 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on battery powered flight:

I loved Lex’s tongue-in-cheek view of lithium-on batteries. A useful energy density chart that shows where lithium-ion batteries are - roughly in between lead batteries and liquid hydrogen.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this story and I also enjoyed the tongue and cheek nature of the energy density comparisons. I suppose it is no longer politically correct to point out that whale blubber has about 87% the specific density of kerosene which is better than lithium ion batteries. If that could be artificially replicated, we really could see whales fly.



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May 20 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Cuts Off Huawei Smartphones From Some Android Services

This article by Dan Strumpf and Yoko Kubota - for the Wall Street journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

From now, Huawei will be able to use only the public version of Android and won’t have access to proprietary apps and services from Google, according to a person familiar with the matter. Though existing phones are expected to keep functioning largely as usual for now, users could lose some app functions, including some artificial-intelligence and photography features, the person said.

In a separate move, German chip maker Infineon Technologies AG said it was terminating the delivery to Huawei of some components originating in the U.S., in a sign that even non-U.S. suppliers to Huawei are being swept up in the U.S. trade restrictions. Infineon didn’t specify which components were affected by the action but said the “great majority” of products it sells to Huawei aren’t subject to trade restrictions.

Separately, Qualcomm Inc., San Diego, has suspended shipments to Huawei of its chips, and some employees have been told not to communicate with the Huawei side, according to a separate person familiar with the matter. Qualcomm chipsets are used in certain Huawei smartphone models. Huawei also designs a large number of its own chips for higher-end phones.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Huawei is a Chinese national champion, so the Chinese government looks on the efforts to excise it from competing internationally as a direct afront to the Made in China 2025 program which is one of Xi Jinping’s central policy objectives. There is no Chinese company with an operating system capable of replacing Android. Until now they never needed one but we can be sure this sequence of events is going to further accelerate the drive towards Chinese technological independence, however long that takes.



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May 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on instruments referred to in trading reports

Eoin mentions buying Ethereum in this report but I cannot make out which vehicle he used. Can you help please?

PS:  I am enjoying my one month’s free trial and will definitely sign up.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question and welcome to the Collective of subscribers. As a new subscriber you might not be aware that the vast majority of what I trade is via spread-betting which is tax advantageous for UK investors because of the absence of capital gains tax. If I take an investment position it will stated as such and would refer to a share or fund.



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May 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Defies China Slowdown; Sales, Earnings Top Estimates

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

Revenue climbed to 93.5 billion yuan ($13.6 billion) in the three months ended in March, about 1.8% above estimates as adjusted earnings-per-share of 8.57 yuan topped projections for 6.5 yuan. Alibaba expects sales in the current year to jump at least 33% to more than 500 billion yuan.

As Alibaba pushes deeper into businesses like cloud computing, it’s getting better at understanding e-commerce customers and making money from recommendations based on their preferences. The move is driving more sales than traditional search and boosting its ability to sell targeted advertising to merchants on its main Taobao platform. That is bolstering revenue growth even as escalating U.S.-Chinese tensions threaten to further dampen the world’s No. 2 economy.

“The results were really good, especially given how the macro economy hasn’t been that great," said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch in Shanghai. “It’s a great sign that core e-commerce was growing strong.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ecommerce has more penetration among consumers in China than in the USA or Europe not least because consumer attitudes towards consumption are not as embedded with brick and mortar as they are elsewhere. That is driving consumption, particularly among the high spending millennial generation towards online shopping and following brand representatives on social media.



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May 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Hikes Tariffs on U.S. Products as Trade-War Divide Deepens

This article by Shawn Donnan and Miao Han for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China announced plans to raise duties on some American imports starting June 1, defying a call from President Donald Trump to resist escalating a trade war that is sending stocks tumbling and clouding the outlook for the global economy.

Less than two hours after Trump tweeted a warning that “China should not retaliate -- will only get worse!” the Ministry of Finance in Beijing unveiled the measures on its website. The new rate of 25% will apply to 2,493 U.S. products, with other goods subject to duties ranging from 5% to 20%, it
said.

The next salvo was poised to come later Monday, when the Trump administration is expected to provide details of its plans to impose a 25% additional tariff on all remaining imports from China -- some $300 billion in trade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are a large number of companies that both manufacture in China but also rely on Chinese orders to support growth. There has been some speculation in the media about China’s desire to sell its holdings of US Treasuries but that would do as much damage to themselves as to the USA. Meanwhile making life difficult for the USA’s largest companies is an obvious strategy to exert the maximum possible shock on the US administration.



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May 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump, China Signal Harder Stands Ahead of High-Stakes Talks

This article by Shawn Donnan, Jenny Leonard and Miao Han for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But the mood on both sides going into the talks appears to be hardening with Lighthizer calling members of Congress ahead of the discussions to warn that a deal this week is unlikely, according to people familiar with the conversations. While Trump on Wednesday insisted that Liu was coming to make a deal and dubbed him a "good man," he later told a rally of supporters that China "broke the deal" by backsliding on prior commitments, leading him to order higher tariffs.

China has disputed Trump’s characterization that the country reneged. But it has also sent its own signals that a deal could take time.

Unlike in some of his previous visits to Washington, Liu is not traveling with the designation "special envoy" of Xi Jinping, according to people briefed on his trip. Chinese officials’ public statements have also hardened in recent days with Beijing vowing to retaliate against Trump’s tariff increase and rejecting the idea that it has reneged on any commitments made during the months of tough negotiations that have led to this week’s showdown.

“China is credible and honors its word and that has never changed,” Commerce Ministry Spokesman Gao Feng told reporters on Thursday.

The Ministry of Commerce also announced it would soon publish details of new retaliatory tariffs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Haggling is a part of Chinese culture and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed is a common tactic. Fawning over one item to distract attention from the real intent of the negotiation, only to introduce that object later in a backhanded manner, in order to get a better price is also common. Why would trade negotiations be any different. Reintroducing points already considered settled appears to be a central tactic in Chinese negotiating style but that is normal in all Chinese dealings rather than being an individual tactic to the trade negotiations. 



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May 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Match Group Beats Estimates as Tinder Popularity Grows Abroad

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

Match, which is owned by billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, runs dozens of dating sites like Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Hinge. But the bulk of the company’s earnings gains were fueled by Tinder, which lured in more than 384,000 new subscribers in the quarter, boosting direct revenue 38 percent from the year earlier period.

The online dating app, where users swipe right to indicate interest in a potential date, now boasts 4.7 million global subscribers. Overall, Match’s average subscribers increased 16 percent with most of the new users flowing in from outside North America.

“The world is changing," said Mandy Ginsberg, chief executive officer of Match. “I’ve been here a long time and 100 percent of the revenue used to be in the U.S. and now the growth and more revenue is outside of the U.S."

With arranged marriages on the decline in India and the stigma towards online dating eroding in Japan, Ginsberg is concentrating on international expansion. There are more than 400 million single people living outside North America and Europe, two-thirds of whom have not yet tried a dating product, according to Match. Ginsberg recently revamped the company’s leadership team in Asia -- appointing general managers in Tokyo, Seoul and Delhi -- to try and grow Match’s footprint across the continent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Economic growth in India and the subtle shift towards female empowerment represent major growth opportunities for social media and online dating companies. Narendra Modi’s election five years ago as the first low caste Prime Minister represented a signal that social striation enshrined by the caste system and sustained by the system of arranged marriages may be changing. A more open society would represent a significant change for India which has historically been socially conservative.



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May 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Asks Whether Trump's Tariff Is a Tactic. Or Not

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

Goldman believes a tariff increase may be “narrowly avoided,” putting odds that tariffs rise on Friday at 40 percent, Phillips wrote in a note.

Will be watching whether a large delegation of Chinese officials comes to Washington on May 8, as scheduled; canceling would mean an agreement in the coming week would “seem very unlikely,” and would make an increase in the tariff rate to 25 percent “the base case.”

China trade issues have “negative implications for the outlook for auto tariffs and passage of the USMCA [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement].” Trump’s “willingness to risk a market disruption by threatening an unexpected tariff hike suggests that he might also be willing to risk the disruption that formally proposing auto tariffs or announcing the intent to withdraw from NAFTA might cause.” Phillips raised the probability that auto tariffs will be implemented later this year to 20 percent from 10 percent, and lowered the probability that USMCA will pass to 60 percent from 70 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How much of this is brinksmanship ahead of a crucial point in the negotiations or should we take the gambit seriously. That’s the big question everyone is asking today and it suggests there is likely to be a pause in buying at the very minimum, at least until we know more at the end of the week. Meanwhile it appears Liu He is travelling to the USA this week afterall. 



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April 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alphabet Tumbles Most Since 2012 After Sales Growth Disappoints

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

Another concern is whether competition is starting to limit growth. Google’s search engine is usually the first place consumers go when looking for products, letting the internet giant charge premium prices to retailers and other advertisers looking to reach customers online. But people have been increasingly going straight to Amazon.com Inc. to hunt for products and the e-commerce giant has been grabbing a larger share of the digital ad market, chipping away at Google’s lead.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Porat shrugged off Amazon’s foray into advertising and said there’s still lots of room for growth for all digital ad companies because so much marketing money is still spent offline.

"Nearly half of ad budgets in the U.S. are still spent offline," Porat said. "Ninety percent of commerce in the U.S. is offline and we are focused on digital playing a big role in that."

The number of clicks on Google ads rose just 39 percent, the lowest year-over-year growth since 2016. The price, or cost per click, fell 19 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This figure about 90% of commerce being offline is a standard fallback that claims ecommerce is still in its infancy. However, it glosses over the fact that homebuying, healthcare and automotive sales are included in this figure and none are about to readily transition to a handy ecommerce advertising platform.



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April 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft, Slack, Zoom, and the SaaS Opportunity

This article by Ben Thompson for his Stratechery blog may be of interest. Here is a section:

The challenge for incumbents, including Microsoft and also other competitors like Citrix, Cisco, etc., is that years of building their business on leveraging their existing relationships with enterprises left them vulnerable to a company like Zoom singularly focused on delivering a superior product, at least once a SaaS architecture made distribution so much easier. Make no mistake, enterprise software still requires a sales force, but it is far easier to start with customers that have already discovered and tried the product on their own than it is to sell something without any sort of pre-existing relationship.

Slack and New Use Cases
There remains, though, one final implication of a new paradigm, and this one is the most profound: completely new use cases. This was something Slack sought to highlight in their S-1, which was made public last week.

First, the company argued that Slack transforms internal communications:

The most helpful explanation of Slack is often that it replaces the use of email inside the organization. Like email (or the Internet or electricity), Slack has very general and broad applicability. It is not aimed at any one specific purpose, but nearly anything that people do together at work.

Unlike email, however, most of this activity happens in team-based channels, rather than in individual inboxes. Channels offer a persistent record of the conversations, data, documents, and application workflows relevant to a project or a topic. Membership of a channel can change over time as people join or leave a project or organization, and users benefit from the accumulated historical information in a way an employee never could when starting with an empty email inbox. Depending on the size of the organization, this might provide tens, hundreds or even thousands of times more access to information than is available to individuals working in environments where email is the primary means of communication.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The number of IPOs of companies many people would have been eager to buy a few years ago but were given no opportunity to participate in is accelerating. The primary reason they are all coming to market at the same time is because the private equity backers that ploughed billions into these companies want to get their money out before the next recession.



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April 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transition

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

In contrast to current trends, the Faster Transition Scenario sets out a vision for an extremely ambitious transformation of the energy sector. Energy-related emissions peak around 2020 and drop 75% to around 10 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) per year by 2050. The carbon intensity of the power sector falls by more than 90% and the end-use sectors see a 65% drop, thanks to energy efficiency, uptake of renewable energy technologies and shifts to low-carbon electricity.

Electrification plays a major role in the transition, combined with clean power generation. Electricity’s share in final energy reaches about 35% by 2050, compared to less than 20% today. That growth is mainly due to adoption of heat pumps in buildings and industry, as well as a swift evolution in transport. Efficiency improvements keep electricity demand for other end uses, such as lighting and cooling, relatively stable, while access to electricity improves worldwide.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the biggest challenges facing the environment is the emotionality of the debate. It is almost impossible to discuss objective facts versus subjective opinion. Until this century there was no record of a hurricane in the South Atlantic, but now there have been three. Baobab trees that stood for thousands of years in Africa are dying and coral bleaching is taking over an increasingly large percentage of the world’s reefs. These are facts that point toward a changing climate.



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April 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The World's Biggest Electric Vehicle Company Looks Nothing Like Tesla

This article by Matthew Campbell and Ying Tian for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In automotive circles, Wang’s predictions of the combustion engine’s imminent demise often meet profound skepticism. Chinese sales of new-energy vehicles, a category comprising plug-in hybrids, pure EVs, and fuel-cell cars, more than tripled from 2015 to 2018, but they still account for only 4.5 percent of the total. The doubters, he argues, underestimate the country’s capacity for reinvention. “The Chinese way is to replace everything at once,” Wang says. “When we switched from black-and-white to color TVs, it took three years. In the West it was 10. Going from feature phones to smartphones took about one year. In Europe it was three. Cars will be the same. It will go very fast.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is a massive oil and gas importer but has abundant coal reserves. It therefore has a clear incentive to use less gasoline and natural gas and more coal. Electric vehicles fit squarely into that equation. Since coal is massively polluting nuclear energy is another growth industry in China.




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April 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Companies Thought Insurance Covered a Cyberattack. They May Be Wrong

This article by Adam Satariano and Nicole Perlroth for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Even with teams working around the clock, it was weeks before Mondelez recovered. Once the lost orders were tallied and the computer equipment was replaced, its financial hit was more than $100 million, according to court documents.

After the ordeal, executives at the company took some solace in knowing that insurance would help cover the costs. Or so they thought.

Mondelez’s insurer, Zurich Insurance, said it would not be sending a reimbursement check. It cited a common, but rarely used, clause in insurance contracts: the “war exclusion,” which protects insurers from being saddled with costs related to damage from war.

Mondelez was deemed collateral damage in a cyberwar.

The 2017 attack was a watershed moment for the insurance industry. Since then, insurers have been applying the war exemption to avoid claims related to digital attacks. In addition to Mondelez, the pharmaceutical giant Merck said insurers had denied claims after the NotPetya attack hit its sales research, sales and manufacturing operations, causing nearly $700 million in damage.

When the United States government assigned responsibility for NotPetya to Russia in 2018, insurers were provided with a justification for refusing to cover the damage. Just as they wouldn’t be liable if a bomb blew up a corporate building during an armed conflict, they claim not to be responsible when a state-backed hack strikes a computer network.

The disputes are playing out in court. In a closely watched legal battle, Mondelez sued Zurich Insurance last year for a breach of contract in an Illinois court, and Merck filed a similar suit in New Jersey in August. Merck sued more than 20 insurers that rejected claims related to the NotPetya attack, including several that cited the war exemption. The two cases could take years to resolve.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The threat from cyber crime is both real and obvious but many investors have been disappointed by the performance of the cybersecurity sector. It makes intuitive sense that with so many hacks, ransomware events and industrial espionage that the sector should be among the best performers internationally.



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April 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disney Leaps to Record as Investors Cheer Streaming Service

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

For Iger, Disney+ is a bit of a swan song. The company’s longtime steward reiterated Thursday that he expects to step down as CEO at the end of 2021, when his contract expires. During the presentation to investors, Disney gave a peek at how the service will work. It features five tiles devoted to key Disney brands, including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. The 4K-resolution content will be available on internet-connected TVs, smartphones, tablets and other devices. The look and feel of Disney+ isn’t radically different from Netflix’s design. But Disney is betting that its devoted fan base will find reason to add another streaming service.

DC Edge
At $6.99, Disney+ also is beating a comic-book rival: AT&T Inc.’s DC Comics introduced a service at $7.99 a month that includes material from characters like Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.

The new product isn’t Disney’s only streaming platform. It acquired majority control of the Hulu TV service with the $71 billion Fox deal, and it’s now considering whether to expand
that product overseas.

A Hulu price cut, which lowered its entry-level, ad- supported version by 25 percent to $6 a month, helped bring a surge of customers, Disney said. Hulu expects to double its ad
revenue over the next few years.

“Hulu is doing just great,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international operations. “We are really pleased.”
 
And

“You can figure that we will bundle ESPN+ and Disney+ fairly soon,’’ Iger said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Netflix demonstrated that it is possible for a content provider to prosper out the umbrella of the distribution networks by availing of the market access provided by broadband, mobile devices and smart TVs. That first mover advantage has allowed it to build the company into a $155 billion market cap but the allure of global market access without having to pay distribution companies ensures competition for viewers is going to be pick up quickly.



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Made-in-India iPhone X from July 2019

This article by Bharani Vaitheesvaran for ETtech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Sustained increase in manufacturing will depend on, among other factors, the continuation of a favourable incentive regime into the next government, the official said. Mails sent to Foxconn and Apple seeking comment remained unanswered.

The company began its India manufacturing journey through another Taiwanese company Wistron, which had started with the iPhone SE from its factory near Bengaluru two years ago and later advanced to iPhone 6S model. Wistron now makes iPhone 7, a sign analysts foresee as a bump-up in local manufacture of multinational technology companies keen on the Indian market. Around 290 million smartphones were assembled in India in 2018 up from 58 million in 2014, according to data from the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association.

"In the short-term, the Differential Duty and the Phased Manufacturing Programme worked as far as import substitution is concerned. Now the challenge is to move from 290 million to 500 million phones and then to one billion by 2025," Pankaj Mohindroo, National president for ICEA, said.

"The National Policy on Electronics, 2019, gives a broad framework, but we will have to put a robust action plan behind it, which will enable exports..."

The ICEA has as its members brands such as Apple, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and manufacturers such as Flex and Foxconn.

Eoin Treacy's view -

India has the twin advantages of a massive young population and low costs. If we think about how manufacturing generally evolves, it is usually attracted by the presence of a low cost base and regulatory change which incentivises growth. Infrastructure usually comes later but it does need to be built. That is potentially where India is today. It is successfully attracting manufacturers but will need to do what is necessary to ensure they stay.



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bezos Just Confirmed Amazon's Growth Is Slowing

This article by Shira Ovide and Sarah Halzack for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But there’s a dark cloud in Amazon’s figure. The growth of Amazon’s total merchandise sales slowed considerably last year, according to Bloomberg Opinion calculations based on Bezos’s disclosures. This figure is not the first sign than Amazon’s retail juggernaut may have slipped a bit. 

In 2018, Amazon’s nearly $300 billion in GMV was about a 19 percent jump from the prior year. That was notably slower than the rates of increase of 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in 2017 and 2016. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elizabeth Warren is campaigning on the platform of splitting up Amazon and the more sectors it competes in the louder that call will be. However, while a populist assumption, it is not accurate to state Amazon is going to completely control retail. The shop online and pick-up market for goods is thriving and conventional retailers are outperforming Amazon. 



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kids Love These YouTube Channels. Who Creates Them Is a Mystery

This article by Yoree Koh and Betsy Morris for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Some parents say they find certain YouTube content disturbingly effective in enrapturing young children.

Johanna Peyton, an Austin, Texas, mother of three, said she initially welcomed YouTube as a distraction for her children—until her daughter, then nearly 2 years old, became fascinated with videos of adults and children opening eggs with surprises inside.

“It was disturbing to me that somebody was working so hard on the videos—intricately editing them and using so many eggs. I remember thinking, ‘What was their agenda?’ ” Ms. Peyton said. “It just felt odd that somebody would be doing this.” She no longer allows her kids to watch YouTube.

The CoCoMelon channel joined YouTube on Sept. 1, 2006, according to its “about” page, which says its goal is “to make learning a fun and enjoyable experience for kids by creating beautiful 3D animation, educational lyrics, and infectious, toe-tapping music.”

The business took off last year, when its view count jumped to 1.96 billion views in October 2018 compared with 123 million views a year earlier. It now has 43 million subscribers, according to Social Blade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

My brother and sister have pretty much banned their young children from using YouTube and their smart phones because the content accessible is clearly designed to be addictive. When conventional tv channels dominated programming the advertising aimed at children was regulated and we still yearned for the toys.

In Ireland, the Late Late Toy Show was the highlight the Christmas season when we were growing up but for marketers it was an opportunity to showcase toys and kids outside of the regimented advertising structure. In many ways it represents the forerunner of the boom in dedicated content appealing to babies and young children that pervades YouTube.



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April 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fastest Electric Car Chargers Waiting for Batteries to Catch Up

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

“The charging capacities of electric vehicles have doubled in the space of a few years,’’ Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said in an email. “We expect that fast-charging in public spaces will become the norm.’’

Tesla, which has more than 12,000 chargers globally, is boosting the speed of its own refueling units to cut time at the pump by as much as half. The upgrade promises to add as much as 75 miles of charge in five minutes -- still lagging the ultra-fast models.

The speed at which current EVs can recharge is limited by such factors as the size of their battery, the voltage the pack can accept and the charger’s current.

While it may be years before battery packs able to handle the power surge from ultra-fast chargers go mainstream, some new EVs -- including Hyundai Motor Co.’s Kona Electric and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc’s I-Pace -- already can recharge faster than previous generations.

Volkswagen’s Porsche brand will introduce its electric Taycan sports car later this year. It’s the first vehicle capable of taking full advantage of the fastest chargers, with a larger battery and the ability to operate at a higher voltage.

“The cars are coming,” said Marty Andrews, CEO of Chargefox Pty, which installed ABB’s fastest units at some Australia charging stations. “The carmakers want ultra-rapid chargers because they want this to be future-proof. This is not a six-month plan, it’s a 10-year plan.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Refueling infrastructure during the era of internal combustion engines was built out by the oil companies and they still own large parts of the filling station market. What was particularly interesting about Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement last month that it aims to become the world’s largest power producer by 2030, is that this dovetails with the proposed increase in demand from electric vehicles. 
That has little to do with the environmental impact of the move and more to do with protecting a significant portion of its business from terminal decline.



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April 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

It Takes Just 3 Stickers to Make a Tesla Drive Into Oncoming Traffic

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

Tesla’s Autopilot is a level two system that’s leaning into level three, but it might not have the necessary hardware to make it work. These vehicles use cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to detect lanes and nearby vehicles. The Keen Security researchers reverse-engineered the software Tesla uses to see how easy it would be to fool those sensors. They didn’t need to make any changes to the car’s software — this is not a hack. They simply used three small reflective stickers on the roadway to trick Autopilot into thinking the lane had merged when it hadn’t.

According to the report, Tesla uses a feature called “detect_and_track” to identify lane markers. It uses several factors to avoid incorrect decisions like road shoulder location, lane history, and the distance to various objects. However, the reflective stickers appear to the car like lane markers, directing it to merge. These stickers are almost invisible to drivers, and it would be trivially easy to place them on roadways.

Tesla’s Autopilot system does include emergency braking. So, it’s possible the car could stop itself in the event it swerved into oncoming traffic. However, there’s no guarantee the other cars would stop. Tesla says it is evaluating the report but notes that drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel while Autopilot is engaged.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Here is a link to the original research conducted by Keen Security. Teaching a computer to see, in the way we understand that statement as humans, is an enormously difficult task which is why they route to success has been through teaching computers to react to cues. By fiddling with the cues, the computer can be fooled. That suggests a major rewrite of code for autonomous systems but if the clear fix is to simply tell the computer to take more notice of its environment and the direction of the cars travelling on its periphery.



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April 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CBOE Trashing Bitcoin Futures Signals Crypto Market Bottom

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

Speaking on the “Fast Money” panel, Kelly explained that a unique mixture of factors including shifting fundamentals make it likely that bitcoin is poised to break out of its prolonged bear phase which has lasted more than a year now.

In his words: “I think we could look back on this and say that was the bottom…There’s a couple of things that have gone on since the low in December. We’ve seen the underlying fundamentals improve…I think retail is exhausted. You’re starting to see sellers being exhausted and institutions come in. Fidelity is a catalyst coming up in Q2. I think with all those things combined, we might look back and say ‘You know what, in the $3000’s is a great place to buy bitcoin.’”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The CBoE is removing its bitcoin contract from trading. The introduction of the futures contract introduced leveraged to what was previously an unleveraged market. The price rallied in anticipation of the introduction, but futures were used as a way of hedging exposure and most of the positions taken out were on the short side, which contributed to the crash in classic 1987 crash fashion.



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April 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taipei blasts 'provocative' Chinese fighter jet incursion across Taiwan Strait line

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

However, Glaser said that the Chinese “haven’t done so for at least a decade, likely longer.”

“I’ve been told that Chinese jets approach the midline, but then veer off,” she said.

The flight came just after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen capped off a tour of several Pacific nations with a visit last week to Hawaii, where she said she had formally submitted new requests to the United States for F-16B fighter jets.

The U.S. has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China is suspicious of Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and any push for the island’s formal independence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in January that Beijing reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, but would strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

Beijing has called Taiwan “the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations” and has bolstered its military presence near the island, sailing its sole operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait in January and March of last year and holding large-scale “encirclement” exercises and bomber training throughout 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anything that promotes the notion of Taiwan declaring statehood is being met with progressively more strident efforts by China to stamp it out. Xi Jinping has succeeded in having his doctrine written into the constitution and he is economic plan is to make China the preeminent global economy. However, the crown jewel for any Communist Party leader, something that would ensure he is remembered forever in the annals of history would be to reacquire Taiwan.



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March 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Zombie Crypto Stocks Resurface as Bitcoin Extends Recent Gains

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

Crypto-tied stocks, the former market darlings that quickly languished when the Bitcoin bubble burst, are showing signs of reawakening.

Small firms linked to blockchain and cryptocurrencies are following Bitcoin higher as it extended gains for a second month. The top digital token rose for the fourth consecutive session on Friday, reaching its highest level since late December. The price broke above its 100-day moving average for the first time since August 2018 this week, extending this quarter’s gain to 11 percent after tumbling 45 percent in the previous quarter.

Shares of Marathon Patent Group Inc. and Social Reality Inc. each rose about 6 percent in early trading, while Grayscale Bitcoin Trust BTC and Riot Blockchain Inc. gained about 4 percent.

Other tokens such as Ether and Litecoin also rose on Friday, helping push the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index up as much as 2.1 percent. Despite recent gains, the gauge remains down more than 80 percent from its highs in early 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Most assets get interesting again after an 80-90% decline and so it is with Bitcoin. The price has held a progression higher reaction lows since December and closed above the psychological $4000 level today for the first time since November. As long as the sequence of higher lows is intact, we can conclude a low of medium-term significance has been found.



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March 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Indian anti-satellite missile test meets with success

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

Anti-satellite weapons aren't new. Systems capable of destroying orbital spacecraft have been around since the 1960s and include everything from specialized anti-satellite satellites packed with explosives, to repurposed shipborne anti-missile missile systems that can take out space targets without any special modifications.

However, for various technological and diplomatic reasons, very few spacefaring nations have actually developed anti-satellite weapons. Today's test makes India the fourth to do so after the United States, Russia, and China.

The Indian government says that the test was conducted by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was fully successful, demonstrating the country's ability to knock out a satellite with a high degree of precision using indigenous technology. The missile was a DRDO Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor developed as part of India's general missile defence program. It operated as expected, but carried no explosive warhead. Instead, it was what is known as a "kinetic kill," where the hypersonic velocity of the interceptor is enough to destroy the target.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The proximity of an Indian general election is a good explanation for the timing of this demonstration as well as the sorties over the Pakistani border. By pandering to the Hindu nationalist wing of the BJP, Modi needs to appear strong and is eager to demonstrate India’s technological prowess as a way of doing that.



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March 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple goes all-in on services, with new video, games and news subscription packages

This article by David Neald for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Last and definitely not least, Apple unveiled a serious move into video content production, called Apple TV Plus. Dedicated to "the best stories ever told," the service will feature high-profile content from a variety of big names – Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Jason Momoa were some of the stars who appeared on stage.

Again, we don't know how much it's going to cost, but it will involve a monthly fee and it will work across all Apple devices. It's coming to more than 100 countries later this year, and will use downloads rather than streaming. You can think of it as Apple trying to be HBO as well as Apple.

Apple is adding some improvements to the existing TV app as well as launching its own programs, including iTunes movie integration and easier navigation, and it's introducing a separate service called Apple TV Channels at the same time.

The idea is you only pay for the channels you need, and access them all through the one TV app on your Apple devices. HBO, Showtime, and Starz are three of the channels that are going to be available, and live sports and movies get pulled in too (assuming you've subscribed to the necessary channels).

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple has come up with something to do with its cash and it is going to have to outbid Netflix in order to get the best shows. In the near term it is going to be selling those shows to a smaller audience of Apple product users than the vast number of Android, Microsoft and smart tv users that will be outside its ecosystem. 



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