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April 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Porsche's Electric Taycan Sales on Course to Eclipse Iconic 911

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

“Established models have supported this excellent result along with the latest additions to our product range, above all the new model variants of the all-electric Taycan,” Porsche sales chief Detlev von Platen said of the brand’s 36% first-quarter surge. “We can look back on a very positive start to the year.”

The Taycan, which Porsche recently flanked with a more spacious version, is a litmus test for the carmaker’s costly shift to electric vehicles. Boosting EV sales with Porsche will be key to maintaining healthy margins as the division is VW group’s biggest profit contributor by far.

Porsche’s total global deliveries rose to 71,986 vehicles in the first quarter, driven mainly by demand in China, its largest market. The compact Macan SUV was the brand’s best-selling model, ahead of the larger Cayenne. Porsche will launch a battery-powered version of the Macan next year that’s underpinned by a new platform for upscale electric cars co-developed with sister brand Audi.

Porsche remains optimistic about business prospects this year even as a global shortage of semiconductor parts disrupts production plans across the industry. Order books “continue to develop very well,” Von Platen said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Introducing new technology at a high price point before filtering it down to cheaper models in subsequent years has been the go-to model for automakers. Nothing has changed. The positive reception the Taycan has received will fortify the mood at Volkswagen that they have made the correct decision to bet on electric vehicles.



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April 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Impatience

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is one theme that seems to be running through every asset class at present. Perhaps it is because we have been locked up for a year, and literally can’t wait until it is all over, but there is a distinct air of impatience in every circle of life. The pandemic has accelerated the decision-making process for everyone in every facet of our lives.

Mrs. Treacy and I have been discussing moving from Los Angeles for two years but there was never a push big enough to stir us into action. We looked at Las Vegas suburbs in 2019 and toured schools but my eldest daughter was accepted into one of the most prestigious high schools in Los Angeles, so we decided to linger.

The experience of living in Los Angeles during the lockdowns, from schooling to public safety, made us impatient for a change. Like many others we decided to move and have only been delayed by reapplying to schools for our daughters and finding a suitable home.



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April 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on COVID-19 as an endemic nuisance

Some interesting points made such as the unlikelihood of attaining herd immunity; the virus becoming endemic in society; no phase 3 China vaccine data published as of yet; and the acknowledgement that if we do have to live with this virus, then the treatments for Covid, once you have the pneumonia, are still not very good.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank for this educative podcast transcript which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective. The simple fact is that 78% of people admitted to hospital for COVID were obese. That suggests the best advice for people is to live an active healthy lifestyle and to minimise sugar consumption. That’s a sound regimen regardless of what else is happening.  



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April 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on electric vehicles and reshoring

I came across this article (attached) about a new British company that has recently listed on the Nasdaq. Big questions about whether it can succeed, but it's an interesting take on the possible future of local manufacturing, and not just for vehicles. If successful, it could presumably have an impact on the issues of on-shoring, local community development and not to mention the ESG sector.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and the attached article from the Times. Here is a section:

One reason why the prediction is more convincing this time can be found on an industrial estate in Oxfordshire. Arrival will start producing electric vans at its first small plant outside Bicester soon in what the company believes will be a turning point for global manufacturing. Avinash Rugoobur, the former General Motors executive who is Arrival’s chief strategy officer, says that not only the motor industry will be watching closely. “Many other industries will say: ‘If Arrival can do it in automotive, why can’t we do it in our sector?’ ”

Valued at about $10 billion after its recent flotation on Nasdaq, Arrival has been working for five years on the necessary technology. Denis Sverdlov, its founder, a Russian telecoms tycoon and former government minister, believes that using highly automated small plants can be dramatically cheaper than traditional large factories. A decentralised model also should reduce carbon emissions and deliver big economic benefits to the microfactories’ communities thanks to localised supply chains.

To apply this approach to vehicles has required a fundamental redesign of the products. Arrival makes its bodies from coloured composite materials, doing away with the metal pressing and painting that take up much of a traditional car plant. Although Arrival makes some use of 3D printing, Rugoobur says that “3D printing can be an enabler of decentralised manufacturing, but is not the only way of getting there”.

During the pandemic, many of these techniques were used by British companies to produce personal protection equipment and medical components when supplies from China were interrupted. In addition to fears about the resilience of supplies, companies have been worried about rising wages in China and the rising costs of transport. The Suez Canal snarl up has heightened concerns. At the same time, many western governments have said that they want to build up domestic manufacturing in critical industries, a resolve only strengthened by the vaccine wars.



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April 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hydrogen could be the future of energy - but there's one big road block

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

The hydrogen embrittlement challenge is a highly complex materials and engineering problem. There are many aspects that still need to be understood before tangible solutions can be proposed.

For example, what are the conditions for hydrogen entry into different metals? Can this be controlled? Is it possible to completely stop hydrogen entry in metals using coatings or other surface treatments? What if these coatings get a scratch? If the hydrogen does get in, under what conditions will it cause failure of the metal? How much hydrogen is too much? How quickly will it accumulate? Can we design new engineering alloys that can better resist hydrogen embrittlement for the global hydrogen economy? If so, will the new alloys be economically feasible?

These questions can only be answered through collaboration between researchers and engineers who have a deep understanding of hydrogen embrittlement.

Eoin Treacy's view -

An economy powered by liquid hydrogen is the end point of all renewable energy arguments. It is the only way that the energy by volume arguments can be overcome. The question is how to do get there from where technological solutions stand today?



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April 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coinbase Will Be First Major Cryptocurrency Company To Go Public

This article from Investors Business Daily may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Its first-quarter results passed all of 2020. Coinbase reported revenue of $1.8 billion in the quarter, with net income of approximately $730 million to $800 million, according to the filing. Last year, it brought in $1.3 billion in revenue with a profit of $322 million.

Trading volume topped $335 billion in the quarter. For all of 2020, trading volume was $193 billion.

Total assets on Coinbase's platform increased from $90 billion to $223 billion, a nearly 150% increase.

Its full-year outlook presented a range of possibilities, "given the inherent unpredictability of our business," the company said in its report.

"To state the obvious, our business is hard to forecast," Coinbase Chief Financial Officer Alesia Haas said after the earnings report. That's because it can't predict the prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

About 96% of Coinbase's revenue comes from transaction fees. It has several lines of business in addition to its exchange services. Among them is Coinbase Commerce, which provides online retailers with software that lets them accept cryptocurrency payments.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unlike many of the IPOs over the last year Coinbase has clear visibility of where it sources revenue and how that is likely to grow over time. It will be one of the few pureplays on the wider cryptocurrency market once it is listed.



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April 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 1st 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on March 5th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The pandemic has been an accelerant. The full ramifications of what that means are becoming increasingly clear.

The pandemic took trends that have been in evidence for a while and exaggerated them. At the same time, it introduced new challenges which require new solutions.

Corporations operating without the safety net of cash on the balance sheet has been a feature of the markets for decades too. They continue to be bailed out when they get into trouble. There is no evidence that the trend of using all available means to buy back shares has ended. In fact, buybacks are back at pre-pandemic levels. Companies were touting “resiliency” last summer. It appears to have been just talk. Buybacks represent a powerful tailwind for stock markets that were absent for much of 2020 but are now back in force. 



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March 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Voltswagen Is the Perfect Example of German Humor

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

This week Volkswagen AG provided a lesson in just how difficult it is to “be Elon.” VW’s U.S. arm claimed it was changing its corporate name to “Voltswagen,” denied it was an April Fools’ Day joke, then admitted that, um, it was in fact an April Fools’ Day joke gone wrong.  

The German giant has been riding a wave of investor excitement about its electric-car strategy. Thanks in part to some clever social media and marketing, VW seemed to have cracked Musk’s knack for share-price boosting publicity. The more frequently traded VW preference shares are close to a six-year high.

News of the purported name change helped VW’s American depositary receipts — the ones favored by U.S. retail investors — to climb as much as 12.5% on Tuesday. Which is where this cringeworthy incident goes from being a disastrous attempt at humor to something potentially more serious.

I’m not suggesting VW’s gaffe was an attempt to manipulate the stock market and I doubt the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would view it like that. It’s a reminder, however, that we now live in the meme-stock age where even bad jokes can add or subtract billions of dollars in market value. It’s a minefield for corporate executives to navigate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The market liked the Voltswagen idea. That’s going to give Volkswagen’s board something to think about. Tesla prospered because it gained a near monopoly on California’s carbon credits when Karma went bust. That allowed it fund loss making operations and meet payment deadlines while it was building its first battery factory. Many people wonder at Tesla’s business model. Is it a car company, a solar company or a battery company? The most accurate description is it is a regulatory arbitrage company. That’s a consideration every company board should be discussing.



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March 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Deliveroo Sinks 31% After IPO as Funds Shun Gig-Worker Model

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

“It’s not a great endorsement of setting IPOs in the U.K.,” said Neil Campling, analyst at Mirabaud Securities. “You have the combination of poor timing, as many ‘at home’ stocks have been under pressure in recent weeks, and the well-publicized deal ‘strike’ by a number of A-list institutional investors.”

Investors are also souring on the fast-growing companies that benefited during the pandemic. Doordash Inc. has slumped 23% this month, and European rivals Just Eat Takeaway.com NV and Delivery Hero SE have also fallen this year.

“The window for tech-driven IPOs just couldn’t be worse,” said Oliver Scharping, a portfolio manager Bantleon AG. “Deliveroo was trying to keep the window open with brute force.” Among the losers in the IPO will be retail investors, who were given the option to buy shares via Deliveroo’s app. Retail investors will only be able to trade the stock from April 7.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Food delivery is most prevalent in China. The price war between Alibaba’s Ele.me and Meituan Dianping is aggressive and keeps prices low. However, no one is under any illusion that it is profitable. Meanwhile both rely on an army of low paid migrant workers, willing to brave traffic and the elements, to make deliveries. This group have no rights. They also reside outside of the Hukou family registry system, so they are effectively anonymous. 



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March 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on where the most leverage resides

After Greensill and Archegos, where next? The GCC of 2008 cleaned up the banks and the Tech Bust of 2000 cleaned up non-earning tech. Leverage always lies hidden somewhere, and rising interest rates usually make the best assassins. But where's the leverage this time? Tech + Leveraged Product Roll Out? Can we put together a list of leveraged companies and sectors that will make the headlines in 2021 and 2022 as 10-year yields breach 2% and beyond? Keep up the excellent work.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. The Global Credit Crisis decapitated the banking sector and many of the tech champions of the 1990s disappeared. Both crashes exposed massive leverage and egregious abuses. The first challenge is to identify the sectors where leverage is concentrated and then what are the potential catalysts to unwind those positions.

The rush of interest in listing via SPACs is an obvious area to begin searching. Many private companies eschewed listing for years because they had no need to seek funds in the public markets. They are now eager to list because their backers want to exit while there is still time. Softbank’s wake-up call with WeWork was the catalyst for much greater interest in IPOs.



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March 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elliott Management Sends Letter to Board of Directors of AT&T

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

The purpose of today’s letter is to share our thoughts on how AT&T can improve its business and realize a historic increase in value for its shareholders. Elliott believes that through readily achievable initiatives – increased strategic focus, improved operational efficiency, a formal capital allocation framework, and enhanced leadership and oversight – AT&T can achieve $60+ per share of value by the end of 2021. This represents 65%+ upside to today’s share price – a rare opportunity for any company, let alone one of the world’s largest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is increasing appetite for the companies that were left behind in the big 2020 surge. That’s being driven by the expectation for economic revival which will help to repair earnings potential and also by the rotation away from the stocks leveraged investors have been active in.



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March 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Tiger Cub's Huge Margin Call Means More Pain Ahead

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

A market optimist might brush off Friday’s massive liquidation as a one-off event — a huge stumble by a fabled player now in decline. But this is no time to be optimistic. Hwang is representative of, not distinct from, the rest of the hedge fund crowd. His bets are also their bets. He may have gotten margin calls faster because he was more leveraged. But his positioning is by no means unique — and that commonality is where trouble may lie. 


Take the trades involved. Media companies such as ViacomCBS and Discovery have net exposures that are the “highest level we have seen since 2016,” according to a recent note from the prime brokerage unit at Morgan Stanley, which, alongside Goldman, managed some of the block trades on Friday. Last week, when ViacomCBS was using the steep run-up in its stock to sell new shares and bolster its balance sheet, the pressure on leveraged hedge funds must have been intense. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rising yields and companies selling additional shares at rich valuations puts pressure on leveraged trades. It was inevitable that the rotation out of stay-at-home champions, who saw a one-time boost to business, would see a reality check in 2021. Last week’s block trades were an example of that.

Credit Suisse and Nomura took the brunt of selling pressure in the financial sector because of their net exposure. However, exposure has been limited within the broader sector so far.



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March 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rio Tinto to deploy Heliogen's AI-powered industrial "solar refinery"

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

That temperature can be used to generate steam and turn turbines to produce electricity, or the heat can be stored for later use outside daylight hours. It's also hot enough to be used in cheap hydrogen production – Heliogen's Bill Gross told the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021 conference in January that a 600 x 600-m (656 x 656-yd) plant could produce around a million kilograms (2.2 million lb) of green hydrogen per year at an impressively low cost around US$1.80 per kilogram (2.2 lb) – lower than the average price of dirty hydrogen today.

Rio Tinto's boron operation, rather fittingly located in Boron, California, currently uses natural gas co-generation and boilers to produce steam for its processes. The Heliogen installation will contribute up to 35,000 lb (15,876 kg) of steam per hour to the plant day and night thanks to energy storage, and Rio Tinto says this has the potential to reduce total plant emissions by about 7 percent – "equivalent to taking more than 5,000 cars off the road," says the company, neatly sidestepping the fact that it's leaving more than 70,000 cars on the road in this metaphor.

This is just a pilot, though; should it prove viable, the company will assess whether to upgrade the facility to more than three times its current production rate, and the state intention here is to pilot the technology with a view to replicating it at other Rio Tinto facilities around the world where there's enough sunlight.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rio Tinto’s management have displayed impressive foresight in positioning the company as the supplier of materials to drive the development of a carbon free economy. Making headlines for supporting concentrated solar plants in California is another example of sound PR strategy that detracts from the destructive nature of mining.

The company concentrates on iron-ore, copper and aluminium production which has allowed them to make a big play on being the most ESG-aware miner. Pollution is one portion of the ESG gambit the other is mine safety.



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March 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

WeWork agrees to $9 billion SPAC deal in new path to go public

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

The company disclosed to prospective investors it had lost about $3.2 billion last year, the Financial Times reported earlier this week. The documents also show that occupancy rates fell to 47% at the end of 2020, down from 72% at the start of the year, before the pandemic hit, according to the newspaper.

In the interview in January, Claure argued the pandemic was helping WeWork. He said the work-from-home situation benefits the company and would continue to do so as people return to the workplace. “This is where WeWork suddenly becomes an incredible value proposition,” he said. “New habits have been developed during this pandemic.”

Mathrani will continue to lead the company after the deal. Vivek Ranadive of BowX and Insight Partners’s Deven Parekh will join the board.

BowX Acquisition Corp. is managed by Ranadive and Murray Rode, both former executives at TIBCO Software and co-founders of venture firm Bow Capital.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How a global work-from-home trend can be positive for a company that offers office space is beyond me. That’s particularly true for start-ups for whom rising yields represent a challenge in raising capital.



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March 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Message Received, Loud & Clear

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

The Bank of Canada is seeing enough progress in the economy that it feels it can begin reducing outdated programs, as well as slowly begin to remove some of the considerable stimulus in the system. There should not be too much impact from the cessation of select market functioning facilities directly. The bigger news today is the strongest signal yet that the Bank is ready to conduct a taper, and begin ‘right sizing’ the QE program. This is also the first time we have been shown what the future sequencing looks like, which is: i) taper to a net-zero purchase profile; ii) enter a reinvestment phase, and; iii) normalize rates. The best trades to take advantage of this are micro in nature, though also put ‘bigger’ macro trades like receiving 2yr-to-4yr forwards versus the U.S. at risk.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As we exit the pandemic the approach being adopted by central banks to the respective challenges in their countries will help to inform us on what to expect from the late starters. Since Canada is about to begin tapering in April how the bond, currency and stock markets perform may offer a foretaste of what a taper will eventually look like in the USA and elsewhere.



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March 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taiwan Raises Red Alert Over Water, Cuts Chipmakers' Supply

This article by Debby Wu and Cindy Wang for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Taiwan stepped up its fight against its worst drought in decades, further reducing water supplies to areas including a key hub of semiconductor manufacturing in the central part of the island in an effort to stop reserves from running dry.

The government issued its first red alert on water supply in six years Wednesday, warning that reservoirs in several parts of central Taiwan are running dangerously low. Authorities will cut the water supply to companies in two major science parks in Taichung by 15%, economics minister Wang Mei-Hua said at a briefing in Taipei.

Water will also be cut to non-industrial users across Taichung and Miaoli County two days a week, Wang said. The measures will come into effect from April 6.

While Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Micron Technology Inc. both have chip-making operations in Taichung, Wang said the restrictions would not affect their production. TSMC’s headquarters further north in Hsinchu has been spared further restrictions for now.

TSMC says it plans to increase the amount of water it uses from tanker trucks but the new restrictions would not affect operations, according to an emailed statement. A Micron representative in Taiwan declined to comment, saying the company is now in a quiet period.

The relative dry spell is putting pressure on the Hua said government to ensure continued supplies to water-intensive industries, such as its crucial semiconductor manufacturing, at a time when global companies are clamoring for computer chips. A shortage of semiconductors has slowed output at automakers worldwide, prompting TSMC and its peers to run their fabs at close to full capacity to try and keep up with demand.

Taiwan’s usually ample supplies of water have plummeted after a significant drop in rainfall last year. The situation was further exacerbated by the fact that no typhoons made landfall in Taiwan in 2020.

Wang said earlier this month that Taiwan has sufficient water reserves to keep its technology companies operating smoothly until late May, when seasonal rains usually replenish supplies depleted during the drier winter months.

The meteorological situation adds to a new challenge to TSMC just as it’s grappling with competition from Samsung Electronics Co. and Intel Corp., which has unveiled a $20 billion plan to create a foundry business that will make chips for other companies.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The world is swiftly waking up to how dependent the global economy is on Taiwan. Rising geopolitical tensions, a global shortage of chips and water concerns mean there will be concerted efforts to ensure there is significant investment in additional sources of alternative supply.



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March 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Of Cigars, Contrarians, Nerds and Herds

Thanks to Iain Little for this edition of his Global Thematic Diary series. Here is a section:

Attitudes to risk have changed. In one month, investors have relegated Covid 19 and its mutant strains to the side[1]lines. They now obsess over inflation and a shaky bond market. Those who feared an equity bubble in February, spurred on by strident warnings from market opinion formers like Jeremy Grantham and Ray Dalio, have diminished in number and are keeping their heads down.

Anyone following 10 year USD bond prices will not be surprised. The move from 0.5% in August to 1.60% in March, a near tripling, has spooked bond buyers, with a consequent hit to gold, highly priced technology shares and other interest rate sensitive assets. But a more subtle and longer term conclusion may be drawn.

If sentiment is indeed registering such a confident attitude to growth and risk, it is reasonable to assume that investment positions are now largely in place to reflect that view. If so, the next concern of the market will be its nemesis: growth below expectations. Those investors who are now positioning investments excessively on the side of recovery, value or laggard stock sectors like banks may need to think twice before abandoning their long held commitment to healthcare, FMCG, e-commerce and technology. We are positioning client portfolios accordingly.

As Mark Twain once said: “if you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full note is posted in the Subscriber's Area. The reflation trend is increasingly being priced in and only a robust recovery will satisfy expectations for what it will entail for company earnings. The challenge for markets is the majority of people making English language predictions are sitting in the places with the most advanced vaccination programs.



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March 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BlackRock, Lombard Say Faster Inflation Calls Are Premature

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

“As the dust settles in the wake of today’s FOMC, we will be focusing upon whether any additional back-up in yields is accompanied by a further widening of breakevens,” said Richard McGuire, the head of rates strategy at Rabobank. “If so then this argues that the move higher in rates is sustainable.”

But as long as U.S. yields don’t rise in a chaotic fashion, risk assets including emerging-market and high-yield corporate debt are expected to outperform, according to BlackRock’s Seth. “Rates can drift higher and still remain a positive backdrop for the risk assets, as long as the vulnerability is under control,” he said.

A Bloomberg Barclays index on global credit returns has gained 11% over the past year, compared with a loss of 2% for a gauge tracking Treasuries. BlackRock switched to a neutral duration position in February from underweight. The fund likes notes sold by Chinese real estate companies and the nation’s onshore bonds.

“The lack of correlation with the rest of the global developed markets also provides a diversification benefit,” Seth said of Chinese debt.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed remains wedded to its view nascent inflationary pressures will not last long. There is a logical argument to support the view that the bounce back from the pandemic lows is exaggerated by the base effect and everything will settle down over the course of the next year or two. Since the Fed is willing to wait and see with inflation, it could be two full years before they are willing to draw firm conclusions.



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March 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tinuiti Acquires Amazon Specialist Ortega Group, Adds Kevin Mayer to Board

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

Ortega will likely be the first in a string of purchases by Tinuiti, which in December became part of private-equity giant New Mountain Capital and is hungry to broaden its capabilities. Tinuiti is in talks to acquire two other companies, said Zach Morrison, its chief executive.

“We set out at the end of last year to find a partner that could take this from a hundred-and-some-million-dollar company to a billion-dollar company,” he said.

Future deals will focus on resources related to working with the “triopoly,” he said, referring to Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as marketing services around video, digital advertising and first-party data, he said. New board members, like Mr. Mayer, will also bring expertise in those areas, Mr. Morrison said.

Mr. Mayer recently joined sports-streaming company DAZN Group as chairman. He served briefly as chief executive of TikTok and in senior roles at Walt Disney Co. Tinuiti also added Anneka Gupta, president and head of products and platforms at data company LiveRamp, to its board.

Tinuiti, with about 750 staffers, had its strongest growth last year, as businesses sped up their investments in e-commerce and digital marketing to reach consumers in the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr. Atkinson.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tinuiti is one of the most successful ad agencies for ecommerce companies. They offer an end-to-end marketing and advertising service with a solid track record of boosting sales right across the Amazon/Shopify/Wal-Mart universe.

They generally require a minimum advertising spend of $25,000 a month to even consider taking on a new client. That suggests a revenue base of at least $1 million in turnover and solid margins to absorb the cost.



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March 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the on solar power, desertification, and profitability

This video is very interesting. It is hard to comprehend the scale of this project.  It is part of China's ''ending poverty'' project.

Whilst the US has been engaged in adventurism in the M-E and elsewhere (right up till today) resulting in heavy losses, both financial and human cost, China has been powering ahead in leaps and bounds, spreading their sphere of influence far and wide. Interesting times.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting video which is both information and raises some important questions. The point they seek to get across is that solar panel power plants can create clean energy, reverse desertification, and create lucrative income streams for local populations. 

The video at no point discusses the efficiency of the solar panels, the sustainability of using the precious water resource to regularly clean them, the cost/efficiency of power lines to get the electricity to where it is needed or the desire for energy self-sufficiency.



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March 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Market Delusion: Electric Vehicles

This article by Rob Arnott for Research Affiliates may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

From the beginning, the air travel business has been capital intensive and highly competitive. During good times, new airlines emerged and drove down profits. During bad times, many less well-capitalized companies folded. Over the course of the last century, virtually every company in the business either failed or merged into a larger airline, most of which also collapsed.

The simple fact, as Warren Buffett so cleverly stated, is that technology does not translate into great fortunes for investors unless it is associated with barriers to entry that allow a company to earn returns significantly in excess of the cost of capital for an extended period. Of course, Apple, Google, and Facebook are well-known examples of such technological success, but they are the exception rather than the rule. For a host of complicated reasons, these companies have been able to build moats, or barriers to entry, around their businesses. They also benefit from the fact their products can be produced with limited capital investment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Not every electric vehicle upstart is going to survive but they are currently priced as if they will be the ultimate successors to the global automotive industry. That’s the kind of contradiction bubbles are made of.



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March 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Billionaire investor Mike Novogratz says bitcoin will be like a report card that measures how the government is handling

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

"Bitcoin will literally be like a report card for how citizens think the government is doing managing their finances," the Galaxy Digital CEO said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" after the cryptocurrency hit a record high above $61,000over the weekend.

Novogratz indicated that bitcoin is an inflationary hedge and a digital store of value, rather than regular money, which is why institutions, money managers, and retail investors are piling into the digital asset. If people in the US believe Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen can facilitate full employment for the economy while avoiding inflation, they will stop buying bitcoin, he said.

The billionaire further said there has been a "secular shift" from the mindset that bitcoin isn't an asset class, to it now becoming one. "We're in uncharted territories in how much money we're printing and bitcoin is a report card on that," he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin is the ultimate risk asset. Any delusion that it would be uncorrelated with other assets evaporated as soon as institutional investors began to participate. In that respect I agree with Mike Novogratz, people buy it as a speculative asset. When money is being printed with abandon it is the asset that has increased most in value.



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March 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Yields Surge to Test Key Level in Sudden Selling Bout

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

The move started in Australia, where bond futures fell heading into the market’s close to put modest pressure on Treasuries. At around the same time, there was a block sale of 10-year ultra bond futures, followed by a buyer of downside put options -- the hedging of which tends to weigh on the market. The three combined to tip 10-year Treasury futures through Thursday’s session low, which unleashed the wave of selling.

As many as 20,000 contracts changed hands in the next five minutes, the largest activity of the day. The speed and severity of the move left many traders perplexed, with volumes in the cash market comparatively modest.

The moves there were most pronounced in the benchmark 10-year tenor, with the yield curve steepening as two-year rates only rose as much as two basis points. European bonds followed Treasuries, with U.K. 10-year yields up five basis points to 0.79%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Macro traders make money by sniffing out logical inconsistencies and pushing them until they break. George Soros and his ilk pressuring the Pound’s ERM fix is one such notable example so are the small number of traders that correctly called the demise of the subprime markets.

These kinds of contrarian bets are aided by the fact that crowds thrive on contradiction. The biggest bull markets inevitably breed the biggest contradictions because outlandish forecasts are required to justify buying at extraordinary highs.



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March 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Platinum Quarterly

This report from the World Platinum Investment Council may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In 2020 the platinum market was in a deficit of -932 koz, the largest annual deficit on record albeit below the -1,202 koz deficit forecast in November 2020. This difference was due to Anglo American Platinum Converter Plant (ACP) Phase A being restarted in December 2020, three weeks earlier than expected. However, over the year, as a whole, lower supply due to COVID-19-related mine closures, ACP outages and reduced recycling far outweighed the pandemic-driven fall in demand from the automotive, jewellery and industrial sectors, which fall was partially offset by increased investment demand.

For 2021 the platinum market is forecast to remain in a deficit for the third consecutive year. The modest deficit of -60 koz results from a 17% increase in total supply and a 3% increase in total demand. Interestingly, total supply in 2021 will still be 3% lower than in 2019, with industrial, jewellery and automotive demand levels all above their respective levels in 2019.

Total platinum demand in 2020 was 7,738 koz, 7% (-569 koz) lower than in 2019. Automotive demand reduced by 17% (-474 koz) year-on-year, largely due to lower vehicle sales in the first half of the year, as measures to control the spread of COVID-19 resulted in vehicle factory and showroom closures. However, platinum automotive demand losses were cushioned by the impact of higher metal loadings on catalysts to meet tighter emissions regulations. Jewellery demand was similarly impacted in 2020, with volumes 13% (-279 koz) lower on a full-year basis despite quarter four demand returning to pre-pandemic levels. Industrial demand was 5% (-111 koz) lower, with strong glass sector demand largely compensating for weakness in all other industrial demand segments.

In 2020, weakness in automotive, jewellery and industrial demand was partly offset by strong investment demand, from bars and coins and ETFs, collectively up 24% (+295 koz) year-on-year. Heightened global risk drove investor demand for hard assets such as platinum during the first half of the year, further encouraged by the weak platinum price. Investment demand increased in line with the improving economic outlook in the second half of 2020 and was bolstered by NYMEX futures exchange physical metal stocks, that increased significantly to address the disconnect between the price of platinum futures and platinum. However, as the year progressed bar and coin demand moderated somewhat as the platinum price increased and stock shortages in North America were addressed. ETF holdings increased strongly over the year with growth in North America, Europe and Japan far exceeding declines in South Africa.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Platinum is more of an industrial metal than an investment vehicle. The demise of diesel engines resulted in a crash because catalytic converter demand evaporated.

That is exactly what happened to silver when digital cameras eroded demand for photographic film. The price of silver halved between 1989 and 1991 as the first digital cameras arrived on the market. Without that major source of demand, the price drifted in a range for more than a decade. It did not breakout until a new source of demand appeared. It broke out in 2003 as emerging market investment demand heated up and Western investors worried about financial repression in the aftermath of the tech bust.



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March 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened

This article by Josh Rogen appeared in Politico and may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A little-noticed study was released in early July 2020 by a group of Chinese researchers in Beijing, including several affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Science. These scientists said they had created a new model for studying SARS-CoV-2 by creating mice with human-like lung characteristics by using the CRISPR gene-editing technology to give the mice lung cells with the human ACE2 receptor — the cell receptor that allowed coronaviruses to so easily infect human lungs.

After consultations with experts, some U.S. officials came to believe this Beijing lab was likely conducting coronavirus experiments on mice fitted with ACE2 receptors well before the coronavirus outbreak—research they hadn’t disclosed and continued not to admit to. In its January 15 statement, the State Department alleged that although the Wuhan Institute of Virology disclosed some of its participation in gain-of-function research, it has not disclosed its work on RaTG13 and “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.” That, by itself, did not help to explain how SARS-CoV-2 originated. But it was clear that officials believed there was a lot of risky coronavirus research going on in Chinese labs that the rest of the world was simply not aware of.

“This was just a peek under a curtain of an entire galaxy of activity, including labs and military labs in Beijing and Wuhan playing around with coronaviruses in ACE2 mice in unsafe labs,” the senior administration official said. “It suggests we are getting a peek at a body of activity that isn’t understood in the West or even has precedent here.”

This pattern of deception and obfuscation, combined with the new revelations about how Chinese labs were handling dangerous coronaviruses in ways their Western counterparts didn’t know about, led some U.S. officials to become increasingly convinced that Chinese authorities were manipulating scientific information to fit their narrative. But there was so little transparency, it was impossible for the U.S. government to prove, one way or the other. “If there was a smoking gun, the CCP [Communist Party of China] buried it along with anyone who would dare speak up about it,” one U.S. official told me. “We’ll probably never be able to prove it one way or the other, which was Beijing’s goal all along.”

Back in 2017, the U.S. diplomats who had visited the lab in Wuhan had foreseen these very events, but nobody had listened and nothing had been done. “We were trying to warn that that lab was a serious danger,” one of the cable writers who had visited the lab told me. “I have to admit, I thought it would be maybe a SARS-like outbreak again. If I knew it would turn out to be the greatest pandemic in human history, I would have made a bigger stink about it.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the wild west for medical research. The moral, ethical and safety considerations that slow down research in much of the developed world are ignored in China. That means if one wants to do research that would be frowned upon at home, you will find a welcome in China. The result is that all manner of experiments with new biomedical technology are taking place, often behind closed doors.



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March 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Reddit Raider' Favorite GameStop Soars After Latest Cohen Push

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

Monday’s rally came despite short interest being near the lowest level in at least a year. Roughly one-quarter of shares available for trading are currently sold short, according to data compiled by S3 Partners. That compares to a peak of more than 140% in January.

“Shorts will continue to be squeezed out of their positions as GameStop’s stock price continues to trend upwards,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.

Shorts sellers are down nearly $6 billion in year-to-date mark-to-market losses, including $609 million in Monday’s trading alone, Dusaniwsky said by email.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The rebound of reflation plays and retail investor favourites is partly a response to short-term oversold conditions. It is also because $1.9 trillion is still a lot of money, even after a decade of printing.

$1400 for individuals and each child as well as extended benefits the unemployed means many families will see bumps of several thousand dollars in the nest month.  According to this calculator a family of four with an income of $70,000 per annum would receive a payment of $5,600 or 8% of income. 



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March 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on whether technical analysis has predicative qualities

I’m confident that most subscribers admire your courage in publishing the uncomplimentary letter extoling the benefits of Bitcoin.  Ten years ago, an early teenage, nerd neighbour, who was a Bitcoin investor gave me and some other local adults an introduction with the promise that Bitcoin was the money of the future.  At that time, one calculated the number of Bitcoins required to buy a cup of coffee.  Its usefulness seemed apparent.  My partner was keen. My reticence won-out because I could see how easy it was to buy but I was not confident that I could get my money back. 

Today, Bitcoin is obviously not money nor a substitute for money and will never become one.  See attached article. How long it will continue to be an investible asset is also an open question. Your critic may be disappointed.  Bitcoin may be a store of value; and its liquidity has improved but there will be similar and more convenient options.  Unlike art it has no attraction other than its relatively unattractive store of value.  It is purely a speculative venture dependent upon an increasing number of bigger fools while at the same time there is a diminishing number of potential buyers. One could never say the same about gold.

You politely ignored the correspondent’s criticism of your technical analysis that remains the principal reason for my subscription. Do you believe that T.A. has predictive characteristics?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for the associated article and your kind words. The best way to think about bitcoin or the other cryptocurrencies is as venture capital. Whatever portion of your portfolio you would normally devote to “make or break” opportunities, where you are willing to lose everything that is what you should think about investing in cryptocurrencies. That also fits the technical definition of gambling. The idiosyncrasy of the sector is that they are open to retail investors. Most venture deals, in the technology sector for example, are only available to much wealthier individuals.



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March 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the on my ignorance from a bitcoin Holdr

I suggest though that you ignore Eoin Treacy on matters relating to Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency as he clearly has no idea what he is talking about. This became obvious to me the more of his videos that you have sent to me.

He talks about Bitcoin as if it a stock or currency and clearly doesn't understand the real value proposition here and why it actually has value. This is very obvious when he says things like you can hold gold in your hand but you can't hold Bitcoin..  This is completely ignorant of what Bitcoin is and how it works, yes it is digital but because of the encryption and the way the system works with mining/proof of work, each Bitcoin is a unique piece of information so when you have a key to a wallet it's just like you have the key to something physical. No one has access to it except you and it cannot be copied or duplicated or stolen or anything in any way, Eoin seems to misunderstand this, he is also forgetting that most gold in the world is not held in your hand it's stored in a vault somewhere subject to seizure or it's a digital representation of gold not the actual underlying that you can hold.

He then continues this faulty thinking and misunderstanding by concluding with completely ludicrous fear mongering ideas like what if the power grid goes down it will destroy a lot of Bitcoins.  No, it won't you ignorant buffoon, first there is no way to "destroy Bitcoins" they are stored in the Blockchain and never leave it, that is all they do and were meant to do, store value and move around. You could lose access to your coins by losing the keys but technically the coins are still there sitting securely in your wallet it would be entirely your fault for losing your keys. In the situation of the power going down the Bitcoin network would continue running in other countries and then it would catch up when the power comes back on, nothing would be lost except the mining revenue of the miners who had no power.

If there was a worldwide situation like what he mentions an EMP or a Solar flare then we would have much bigger problems then Bitcoin going down. It would take down all communications all banking services all vehicles all important infrastructure like water cleaning and pumping etc, anything electronic which in the modern world is practically everything, it would be chaos. But yea it would get Bitcoin! so don't risk any money on it!  It actually wouldn't as if everyone lost power at the same time all miners would go offline and then as power was slowly restored worldwide miners would rush to go back mining since the network would have ground to a halt, there would be easy money to be made mining without competition for as long as you can. The network would be back online and functioning properly in a matter of hours after the internet is back on and if someone like a bank or government tried to deliberately mess with the blockchain while most miners etc are offline then when the rest of the world comes back online, we would immediately backdate to the last known block before the power down and discount the manipulation that occurred while everyone was offline.

Eoin’s technical analysis style is odd as well as I said before he seems to think Bitcoin is a stock or trades like a stock, his technical analysis is basically, look at this moving average we may go down and hit it or we may not. It is useless and cannot predict what is going to happen to prices. In fact, I believe nearly all standard indicators are useless as they are all lagging behind price, the only way to get an edge in technical analysis in my opinion is to use PA, price action methods.

He's also forgetting (or doesn't know) the fact that Bitcoin is even harder money than gold because of the mathematical hard cap on total amount of coins and that it's also a naturally deflationary asset as coins get lost or go out of circulation over time. Gold is still inflationary as more is mined every day and we have no idea how much actually exists on earth or on asteroids etc. Taking this in mind we shouldn't be surprised to see Bitcoin going higher and higher every cycle, how could it not? especially considering the current macro environment of unlimited QE and worldwide uncertainty.

Anyway, there's my rant for this week,

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was not smart enough to buy bitcoin when I first heard about it in 2013. There is no getting around that fact. Even if I did buy at $100, I am too much of a sceptic to have held all this time; particularly during the 90% drawdowns. Anyone who has held through these traumas is unlikely to ever sell. That’s why supply is so concentrated in the hands of a very small number of players despite the international hoopla about bitcoin.

I would point out though that I have traded cryptocurrencies successfully over the years. In fact, I’ve never lost money trading crypto, which is a testament to just how big the bull market is. However, just because it is a big bull does not mean it has been divorced from crowd psychology. In fact, that means it is more tightly intertwined with the emotions and actions of the crowd. Afterall it is still people buying bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies.



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March 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

From Spotify to Hello Fresh: lockdown Brits give subscription economy an adrenaline boost

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from The Times which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Hamish Grierson, chief executive of Thriva, a home blood-testing company that helps users monitor their health, said founders were now eyeing subscription models instead of the Facebook approach of chasing huge growth with no immediate revenue stream. He said the “growth at all costs” model worked for only a handful of companies and meant that most failed.

“As a consequence of that, there is a little bit more sympathy for more pragmatic, more resilient business models — and subscription tends to be a good version of that story,” Grierson added.

Investors want a piece of the action, too. Last week, Deliveroo, which charges £11.49 a month for free deliveries of restaurant meals, confirmed plans to float in London.

Thematics Asset Management launched its Subscription Economy Fund in 2019 to let investors cash in on the trend. The first of its kind, the $230 million (£165 million) fund is invested in about 50 companies with subscription models. It is up 50 per cent already.

Nolan Hoffmeyer, who runs the fund, said: “Last spring, when many companies didn’t have visibility over the next 30 days, subscription-based companies still had a lot of visibility over the next 12 months [because of recurring revenues]. They’ve been able to continue to invest and innovate. It’s a competitive advantage.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Having the ability to predict revenue growth over a 12-month horizon is a particular benefit where interest rates are low and asset prices are high. That visibility commands a higher valuation because cashflows are so easily modellable. In other words, these kinds of companies can carry more leverage because they have less risk on the revenue side.



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March 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review March 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on January 8th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The rollout of vaccines to COVID-19 continues to accelerate and that will continue through the balance of the year and 2022. There is encouraging news about the number of different vaccines which have been approved and their success against variants. By the end of the year, the world will be inundated with doses which will provide at least some protection from the virus for anyone who wants it. That’s all the rationale any government needs for reopening the economy.

On Valentine’s Day 2020 Mrs Treacy and I went out for dinner with another couple. We talked about the news of a virus threat from China and how it could potentially cause ructions further afield. We told them we had stocked up on rice, meat, protein bars and batteries just in case. They thought we were crazy crackpots jumping at shadows.

It was hard to imagine then just how disruptive the decision to lockdown was going to be. A similar condition exists today. After a year of being confined to our immediate vicinity it is tempting to think this is how it will always be. The reality, however, is we are going to see a surge back to normalcy much quicker than most believe possible.

Humans are social animals and we yearn for social contact. We’ve been starved of that basic need for a year and we’ll overdose on it when we are able. That suggests we are looking at a boom in consumer activity over the coming couple of years.



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March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold ETF Exodus Quickens in Ominous Sign for Faltering Metal

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

Gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs,” Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in a note. “A shift in sentiment among investors would be needed for gold to free itself from its extremely difficult predicament.”

Federal Reserve officials slated to speak this week may give more insight into the economic outlook and how the central bank might respond to the recent tumult in bond markets. Higher yields dim the appeal of the non-interest-bearing metal.

“Gold remains vulnerable to a further tightening from real rates,” TD Securities analysts led by Bart Melek said in a note.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sentiment towards gold is rapidly deteriorating as the pace of the decline from the August peak picks up. The trend of gold holdings in ETFs is also now below its trend mean as investors migrate away from the yellow metal in favour of better performing assets. The big question for investors is whether this is a temporary or major correction.



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March 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin ETF Competition Heats Up as Crypto Trust Eyes Conversion

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

Less than a month after the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund debuted in Canada, a Toronto-based asset manager is looking to convert its cryptocurrency trust to the format.

Ninepoint Partners LP plans to ask holders of its $266 million (C$335 million) Bitcoin Trust (BITC.U) to approve its conversion from a closed-end investment fund into an ETF, according to a statement Wednesday. The firm, which manages $9 billion in assets, cited increased liquidity and a better price to the fund’s net asset value as reasons for the change.

Discounts and premiums to the net-asset value are common among such crypto trust because unlike ETFs, new shares can’t be quickly created. The BITC.U fund was trading at a 9.13% discount
to its NAV on Tuesday.

The meeting to approve the conversion will take place April 19 and all costs of the conversion will be covered by the firm, the release said

Eoin Treacy's view -

In March 2017 there was a lot of discussion about the creation of a bitcoin ETF. The Winklevoss twins in particular were at the forefront of attempts to launch one. Those efforts failed because the market was not sufficiently well understood or supported by institutions and because cryptocurrencies are completely unregulated. 



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March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hiding From The Madness: An Alts Perspective On The Search For Capital Shortage

I attended this zoom call this morning given by Dylan Grice and there were a number of interesting comments I thought subscribers might be interested in.

March 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Twitter announces paid Super Follows to let you charge for tweets

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

 

Twitter announced a pair of big upcoming features today: the ability for users to charge their followers for access to additional content, and the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests. They’re two of the more substantial changes to Twitter in a while, but they also fit snugly into models that have been popular and successful on other social platforms.

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans.

Direct payment tools have become increasingly important for creators in particular in recent years. Patreon has been hugely successful, and other platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and even GitHub have all launched direct creator payment features. Twitter will presumably take a cut — the company has been hinting at subscriptions features that would offer it a new source of revenue — though it doesn’t appear to have said yet what that fee will be.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This announcement suggests Twitter is serious about starting to make money. The creation of a sales funnel so members with substantial followings can monetise that interest is a business model that has grown in popularity during the pandemic.  



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February 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The $1T resistance -

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

This was a DATA ERROR. I spoke to Glassnode’s CTO during the cascade of liquidations and can confirm this was a wallet labelling error from an upstream data provider. (What we were actually seeing was an internal movement of coins inside Gemini exchange.) During this time, investment flows continued into Bitcoin’s network unabated with no shake-out of new investors. We can see this in the chart below where SOPR climbed against the sell off.

This is VERY unusual occurrence. SOPR can only climb against a price decline when recent buyers hold their coins, and new buyers are stepping in to buy the steady stream of coins being offered by sellers who bought a while ago carrying greater profit. In summary, new investors bought the dip while traders buying on leverage were liquidated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

An additional odd occurrence in the crypto markets is that the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is now trading at a discount to NAV. This is not the first time the fund has traded below book value and the trust has underperformed the bitcoin price by a considerable margin since March 2020. That suggests the aggressive fee structure and increasing availability of alternative vehicles for investing in bitcoin have robbed the fund of customers.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Square Buys $170 Million More Bitcoin, Deepening Crypto Bet

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

Square Inc. said it purchased $170 million in Bitcoin, further committing to the cryptocurrency and raising its holdings to about 5% of the company’s cash and equivalents.

The announcement came Tuesday as Square reported that cryptocurrency continues to be a growing part of its business through the use of its Cash App for Bitcoin transactions. The financial payments company’s involvement with Bitcoin is a reflection of Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s belief in
cryptocurrencies and the open internet.

The investment “really comes down to the alignment with our purpose, and aligning our incentives with cryptocurrency and more broadly expanding the economic empowerment opportunities and making them acceptable more broadly in a fair way around the world,” Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja said. Square also bought $50 million worth of Bitcoin in October.

“Bitcoin has the potential to be a native currency of the internet and we want to continue to participate and learn in a disciplined way,” she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Once a company begins to accept bitcoin and promotes its use to clients it is virtually impossible to pull back. The fate of the company becomes twinned with the outlook for the cryptocurrency.

During bull markets demand for tokens increases and requires a devotion of capital to cater to the needs of clients. During bear markets, the company is left with useless assets that are expensive to maintain and lie dormant until the next bull run.



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February 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Battery Technology Fantasy Doesn't Match Reality

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

Technology has been forced to chase investors’ expectations. In China, the world’s largest market for electric cars where sales are growing steadily, battery installations of so-called lithium iron phosphate, or LFP, batteries – the technology of the last decade – accounted for 38% of the market, up from 33% the year before. Such batteries lag behind newer ones by as much as 30% in terms of energy density.

The reality is, these powertrains are highly complex. Even as some promising advances are made, commercial viability remains a stumbling block. Chief among those hurdles is boosting energy density and along with it, safety. The more energy a battery has, the further a car can go. However, that also hastens the pace of degradation and shortens battery life. Several higher-density batteries don’t have stable chemical compositions either, leaving them dangerously vulnerable to combustion.

To get over such challenges, firms are trying to make solid-state batteries that will be safer and, eventually, cheaper. Others are intent on boosting battery density by using more nickel content, and less cobalt, which is expensive and mired in supply issues. The progress so far has been limited.
Investors and analysts, meanwhile, are honing in the improvements on to individual battery parts, like cathodes and anodes.

The flipside of these advances are often overlooked. For instance, solid-state batteries that can store more have low power density, which means their energy delivery is slow, while those with higher nickel content are less chemically stable. In addition, solid state batteries have been known to discharge
sulphides.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It feels like I see a sensational headline about a new battery innovation almost every day. The reality is that it can take a decade to proof up and commercialise a new discovery and even that timeline is ambitious. There is no denying a great deal of capital is being poured into the sector but nothing has happened to question the historical timeline of 5 years between doublings in energy density.



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February 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on interest rate sensitivity and overbought conditions

At Greatest Risk from Higher Bond Yields? Eoin, we have seen some sizable sell offs in recent weeks from the hottest sectors such as Green Power, and the various Innovation Funds/ETFs as well as Electric Vehicle sector. As you'd pointed out, they are benefit from super low rates as growth is essentially free. What risk for EM though, which otherwise has been on cruise control of late? Today has seen a sizeable sell off, but is this just the first shot across the bow? Which of the EMs would you be most guarded against? What else might be at greatest risk given the run ups we have had in markets over the last 12 months?

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ARK Innovation ETF has pulled back by about 20% over the last six sessions. That’s a sizable pullback but the fund was up 383% since March 2020 so it was due some consolidation. This reaction has broken the 12-month sequence of higher reaction lows so the trend is no longer as consistent as it was on the way up.



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the sequence of breakouts.

As someone who has no stake in Cryptoland, it is increasingly baffling, and frustrating to see the continued rise of virtually everything in that world. Particularly notable has been the rise of Bitcoin "Miners" RIOT in the US and ARGO in the UK, each of which has seen their share prices rise by roughly 50x in the last few months, with a notable explosion higher once Bitcoin rose through $20,000. Is it fair to say that these are like the Gold Explorers, the highest Beta plays that investors now feel comfortable owning now that Bitcoin, then Ethereum, then the other Alt Coins have roofed it?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin miners are creating new supply and represent the only opportunity to obtain tokens below the prevailing price. That means they are heavily leveraged to price rises above the marginal cost of production. In that regard they are similar to the gold explorers. High-cost producers tend to move more as prices rise because the move into profitability is life changing for their prospects.



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February 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook and Twitter Can't Police What Gets Posted

This article by Cathy O'Neil for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In short, for a while AI was covering for the inevitable failure of user moderation, and now official or outsourced moderation is supposed to be covering for the inevitable failure of AI. None are up to the task, and events such as the capital riot should put an end to the era of plausible denial of responsibility. At some point these companies need to come clean: Moderation isn’t working, nor will it.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an easy way to improve user conduct on social media. Insist on real name confirmation. Anyone can say or do anything on social media today and have no fear of recrimination for their actions because it is completely anonymous.

The community of trolls on Twitter has multiplied beyond recognition and they form a significant core of user engagement. If the company were to insist on real names the business model would implode. However, it is instructive that many of the newer social media sites are insisting on real name login credentials from the outset. That is a simple measure to foster a less toxic community.



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February 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crisis Chronicles: Tulip Mania, 1633-37 The Plague and Tulip Mania

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

A number of factors contributed to the conditions that caused Tulip Mania. To start, the coin debasement crisis of the 1620s was followed by a period of prosperity in the 1630s. This prosperity coincided with an outbreak of the plague, which caused a labor shortage and increased real wages and surplus income. At the same time, there was a strong belief that social mobility was a Dutch birthright and that there was money to be made in every profession.

Prior to the 1630s, tulip bulbs were only physically traded among growers in the summer, when they could be safely pulled from the ground, in what evolved to be an informal spot market for individual commodities where cash and real assets traded hands. By the 1630s, the market for tulips began to grow as florists started buying and selling tulip bulbs still in the ground using promissory notes. The notes provided welcome credit and liquidity to help finance planting and limited credit risk to a known borrower with the borrower’s bulbs as collateral. However, the notes created a limited opportunity to inspect bulbs or to see them flower, provided no guarantee of quality, nor proof that the bulbs actually belonged to the seller, or even existed. Because delivery of the bulb was often months away, this financial innovation ultimately encouraged speculation as florists bought and sold promissory notes, which were in turn resold, creating a futures market. A legitimate need for financing real assets led to a financial market in which people with no stake in the actual underlying bulbs could participate. As Dash points out, it was “normal for florists to sell tulips they could not deliver, to buyers who did not have the cash to pay for them and who had no desire to plant them.” Such a financial market served the liquidity and credit needs of growers and florists, but it also led to highly leveraged speculation by those who could borrow to finance their investments with little of their own capital at stake. Promissory notes quickly transformed from a credit and liquidity mechanism to an instrument of speculation.

Beers Instead of Beurs Fuel the Market
Bulbs were traded not at the exchange buildings in Amsterdam, the beurs, but rather in local pubs where each trade was celebrated with a toast. The in het ootje method of trade required the seller to pay a commission independent of the seller’s acceptance or refusal of the bid (typically the equivalent of a round or two of drinks), which placed a premium on accepting a decent bid, further fueling the market.

The mania climaxed in January 1637, which marked the greatest influx of new florists. Many of these novices leveraged savings and mortgaged their goods or tools to take part in the bulb trade, just as we saw farmers turn to coin clipping during the Kipper und Wipperzeit. The absolute speculative peak is believed to be an auction on February 5, 1637, which raised 90,000 guilders. To put this in perspective, the wealthiest merchants of the day might’ve accumulated wealth of half a million guilders.

Eoin Treacy's view -

All true manias that see prices soar to multiples of what even the most bullish early investor thought reasonable require a number of factors.

A financial innovation unleashes the fuel necessary to support price increases. Tulip investors used futures contracts, in the 1920s trading on margin was popular and options helped revolutionise trading in the 1990s. Today bitcoin is the financial innovation, although no one is quite clear how it will used.



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February 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Vestas reveals offshore turbine with world's largest sweep

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

Each turbine is expected to deliver around 80 GWh of energy per year, depending on site-specific conditions, which is said to work out as being enough to power 20,000 European homes.

The V236-15.0 MW also offers the potential to reduce the number of turbines deployed at offshore windfarm level – with Vestas calculating that the "offshore turbine offers 65 percent higher annual energy production than the V173-9.5 MW, and for a 900-MW wind park it boosts production by five percent with 34 fewer turbines."

The company expects the first V236-15.0 MW prototype to be built in 2022, with serial production following two years later. It has a design lifetime of 25 years.

“With the V236-15.0 MW, we raise the bar in terms of technological innovation and industrialization in the wind energy industry, in favor of building scale," says Anders Nielsen, Vestas CTO. "By leveraging Vestas’ extensive proven technology, the new platform combines innovation with certainty to offer industry-leading performance while reaping the benefits of building on the supply chain of our entire product portfolio. The new offshore platform forms a solid foundation for future products and upgrades.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Boosting production and needing to build fewer towers suggests there should be cost savings in construction. The big change in renewable energy occurred in late 2019 when economies of scale improved enough that the wind and solar sectors could survive without subsidies. That has led to a complete reappraisal of the rationale for investing in the sector. More recently it has allowed the renewable energy sector focus on the subsidies provided to fossil fuel companies across the energy supply chain.



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February 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies:

Having reached a certain age, I confess to being a Bitcoin sceptic. I thought today's piece on Twitter by Nouriel Roubini just confirms my anxiety regarding digital currencies. He's no fan!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for highlighting this article which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, argues that no crypto can be at the same time scalable, safe and decentralised. Traditional financial systems are scalable and safe: if your credit card or bank account is hacked or stolen, you are made whole. But they are centralised because participants and assets are verified by trusted institutions. Right now, crypto is neither scalable nor safe. If your private key is stolen or lost, the assets are gone for good.

It isn’t even decentralised. Oligopolistic miners control most bitcoin mining. Many are out of reach of western law enforcement in places such as China, Russia and Belarus, creating a national security nightmare. About 99 per cent of bitcoin trading occurs on centralised exchanges, which may be hackable. Furthermore, the original programmers retain outsized control over their creations. In some cases they act as police, prosecutors and judges, and reverse transactions that are supposed to be immutable. Nor is crypto equitable: a small number of “whales” control much of bitcoin’s value.

This undermines claims that crypto will decentralise finance, provide banking services to the unbanked, or make the poor rich. Blockchain claims to enable cheap money transfers to refugees, but crypto is much more likely to provide cover for scam artists, conmen, tax evaders, criminals, terrorists and human traffickers.

There are a couple of points that one needs to consider with the above account. The first is that there are well understood limitations with bitcoin. It is decentralised, supply is limited and the speed of transactions is extremely slow. The need for forks every time a change is required makes it unwieldly. It stands to reason that if cryptocurrencies are eventually going to fulfil their promise it will be without bitcoin.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on investable ideas

Firstly, thanks for the terrific service, it’s been so helpful in these turbulent times.  I was interested to read the subscriber feedback in today's comment. 

I agree with the comment that sometimes it’s quite hard to find investable ideas in some of the themes that you so accurately pick up on. 

For example, soft commodities/agricultural products, some direction as to likely beneficiaries would be really helpful.  I’m a UK based investor, so in general like to stick to our market or Europe and it has not been easy.  Perhaps Bayer?  ABF but the Primark exposure is confusing.  In the Eoin’s Favourite’s section of the chart library some of the categories do help, but there’s doesn’t seem to be one directly related to rising soft commodity prices other than farm machinery or fertilisers?

Lithium is another one where I am struggling to find the right investment, even though I looked at your collection of related companies.  As the price seems to have broken out of a long-term downtrend some suggestions as to likely beneficiaries would be really helpful, although understand that one must also do one’s own research.

With Bitcoin, which I’m not that keen to buy, but you highlighted the Greyscale Bitcoin Trust which although I’ve not invested in it was really helpful to have an idea related to the concept you were right about. 

Hope this feedback helps and thanks again.

And

I found the criticism yesterday, a bit harsh.  There are few sites that provide the breadth and depth that we get from FTM.  Here, in West Aust, I wake each morning to your market summary of the principal events.  I find it cost effective for that point alone.

The suggestion above regarding missed opportunities is one worth pursuing, not so much regarding the chartbook but for highlighting early chart indications of emerging opportunities.  I feel that perhaps FTM may report facts that are available elsewhere but the site is not fully exploiting your chart analysis skills that are not available elsewhere.  You should exploit your strengths and don't reproduce stuff that is, or soon will be, in the media. We all want to know where Eoin Treacy sees emerging or imminent changes. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for this feedback and your kind words. I am a firm believer in giving the people what they want. Afterall, why else would one subscribe. Let me address the challenges in the order they are outlined in the above emails.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Tesla-Bitcoin-Ark syndrome revisited

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Saxo Bank. Here is a section:

Before the news broke on Tesla and Bitcoin, we were planning a research note on Ark Invest holdings across their five actively managed ETFs. Our motivation was driven by the fact that Ark Invest recently pushed above $50bn in asset under management (AUM) and that some holdings in the Ark Disruptive Innovation ETF were getting quite concentrated. As a result, we have dived into the numbers and can now extend our note It is time to get cautious on the Tesla-Bitcoin-Ark connection back in January.

There are two main idiosyncratic risk sources around the Ark funds if we exclude the general market risk. The first one, is the percent ownership of outstanding shares in a specific company across holdings in its five actively managed ETFs. The list below shows the company where Ark Invest owns more than 10% of the outstanding. The sharp observer will quickly note a big overlap with the new generation of biotechnology companies, that we also recently wrote about, and given Ark Invest has grown AUM from around $3bn a year ago to over $50bn gives you an indication of how big a force the investment firm has been in the bull market in biotechnology stocks. But AUM flow can reverse and thus these concentrated positions can become a liquidity issue and big risk for these stocks and Ark Invest itself.

Eoin Treacy's view -

ARK’s ETFs are actively managed. That’s something new in the space. Most people think of an ETF as a tracker and paid a premium for active management either through mutual funds or hedge funds. ARK provides the active management part at a discount but the 0.75% expense ratio on the Innovation ETF (ARKK) is chunky when compared to other similar funds.



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February 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hong Kong Interesting Charts

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two parts to most markets at present. There are the strong trends which have been in evidence for years and continue to perform. The new IPOs and SPACs also fall into this category because many of these companies have seen their values trend higher for years before they sought listings.

The other category are the catch-up plays which are only now just breaking out of their respective bases.



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February 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Bets Big on Bitcoin, Plans to Accept Cryptocurrency

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

Tesla Inc. invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and signaled its intent to begin accepting the cryptocurrency as
a form of payment, sending prices to a new record after the vote of confidence from the electric-car market leader.

The Palo Alto, California-based manufacturer said in a filing Monday it made the bet on Bitcoin after updating its investment policy last month to allow the company to invest in digital assets as well as gold bullion and gold exchange-traded funds.

“We expect to begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis,” Tesla said in the securities filing.

The leading electric-car maker’s embrace of Bitcoin lends increased legitimacy to electronic currencies, which have become more of a mainstream asset in recent years despite skepticism from some. The embrace of a digital currency fits the maverick image of Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who upended the automotive industry with battery-powered vehicles and disrupted the equities market with the stock’s ascension to the blue-chip S&P 500 index last year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

During the bitcoin bull market of 2017, Lamborghini began taking bitcoin as a form of payment. Sales jumped appreciably as young traders cashed in. The lure of a chance to own a marquee vehicle overcame the holdr mentality for a while. Very little was subsequently said about what Volkswagen did with the bitcoin. We can assume they were immediately turned into cash since there was no response from the share price.



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February 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review February 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on January 8th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “secular themes review”. 

Highlighting secular themes has been a hallmark of this service for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met David Fuller in Amsterdam in 2003. He was giving a talk to Bloomberg’s clients and we went out for dinner that evening. His way of looking at markets, with a focus on suspending ego to see what the market tapestry is telling us, answered all of the questions I had about how to interpret
markets. I felt honoured when he asked me to come work with him a few months later.

The easy way to find secular themes to is to look at long-term ranges. Prices can so sideways for a long time, sometimes decades, and the whole asset class can be forgotten by investors. These kinds of markets need a catalyst to reignite demand. Once that new theme gathers enough pace, prices break on the upside because the supply side is not capable to responding in a timely manner to the new phenomenon. Sometimes that’s because they don’t believe in the new trend, or it may be because they simply do not have the financial wherewithal to expand. As the power of the new catalyst gathers, it takes time for supply to respond and the market will proceed higher until there is a robust supply response. That can take a long time because demand continues to grow as the new theme increases its dominance of investor attention.



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February 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Reddit's Power to Push Stocks Down Is the Next Worry for Traders

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

“Put buying en masse would add to dealers’ short put positioning and could create much more severe structural leverage imbalance to the downside,” said Cem Karsan, founder of Aegea Capital Management LLC and a former options market maker.

Karsan, who has 24,000 Twitter followers, floated the scenario on The Derivative podcast last week.

The Squeeze
Once an obscure dynamic in the market plumbing, gamma squeezes are the talk of both Wall Street and the amateur crowd following the GameStop drama.

It goes like this. When an investor buys a call, the dealer who sold the contract will typically hedge by purchasing the underlying stock. The more the latter rises toward the option’s strike price, the more shares the market maker will theoretically have to buy. That can supercharge stock prices as shares rise and dealers buy more.

And the dynamic works in reverse, too.

Dealers who have sold puts will hedge themselves by selling the underlying shares. As the price drops toward the option’s strike, they will sell more and more.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mobs are emotional, extremely aggressive, thrive on contradiction but they are also fickle. They can look like the strongest army in the world until they lose cohesion. Then they fall apart and turn into the weakest. Mobs thrive as long as they are growing and the reason for that growth is still compelling. As soon as it ends, they dissolve quickly. As GameStop’s mob dissolves it might be some time for a crowd to coalesce around a new idea. There are plenty of candidates from biotech to silver to micro-caps and cryptocurrencies.



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DoubleLine Round Table 2021

Section 1 Global Macroeconomy: State of Play and Outlook Part 1 and Part 2

Section 2: Financial Markets Part 1 and Part 2

Section 3: Best Ideas

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I enjoyed this series of roundtables last year and this year did not disappoint. The points made are all relevant to the market environment as we see it today. Ther participants expressed a great deal of fear that we are dangerously close to a bubble peak. There is a lot of worry about valuations, social unrest and the effects on the credit worthiness of the corporate bond market, when the Fed is backstopping it.



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January 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Speculative Frenzy Spills Into Crypto as Bitcoin Tops $38,000

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

Musk’s page on Twitter simply said #bitcoin with no further explanation, but speculation that the world’s richest man might be a Bitcoin investor was enough to set off the dramatic rally.

Prices spiked in a matter of minutes, for the biggest intraday move in almost a year.

“This huge melt-up is due to Elon’s tweet,” said Antoni Trenchev, managing partner and co-founder of Nexo in London, which bills itself as the world’s biggest crypto lender. Musk’s
support for Bitcoin “creates a safe zone for some of the smaller companies and possibly everyone in the S&P 500 to allocate into Bitcoin,” he said.

Musk also tweeted an image of a “Dogue” magazine cover featuring a whippet in a red sweater -- a play on the fashion magazine “Vogue.” He also sent posts calling Cyberpunk a great video game and said, “In retrospect, it was inevitable.”

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, briefly suspended withdrawals on Friday to address a large increase in requests. Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao said that user sign-ups and trades jumped to a record high. “We almost ran out of DOGE coin addresses,” Zhao told Bloomberg. “Our system couldn’t generate new addresses fast enough to match new users coming in. It’s crazy.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The kind of activity that has been witnessed in GameStop this week is considered normal in the completely unregulated cryptocurrency markets. Since there is no hard fundamental to base value on, the market is dependent on momentum to stoke bull markets. When an anarko-capitalist idol like Elon Musk tweets, it tends to get a lot of attention.



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January 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's Most Vaccinated Nation Struggles With Virus Variants

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

The variant first identified in the U.K., 50% more infectious and possibly more virulent than the original virus, is to blame for the inability so far of the vaccination campaign and the lockdown to curb the spread, Israeli health ministry officials said.

Although the vaccine is believed to work against the variant, the mutation’s more contagious nature means higher infections and hence more hospitalizations. The health ministry’s main goal now is to bring down the numbers of the seriously ill who are overwhelming hospital wards and exhausting medical teams.

The rate of infections in Israel has declined to just over 9% from 10.2% earlier this month, and people seriously or critically ill has stabilized at about 1,100. But the number of patients on respirators has hit a record, Corona Commissioner Nachman Ash has said. More than 4,600 people in Israel have died from the virus, and more than 7,600 people are being diagnosed with it daily.

Balicer said it would likely take another 10 days before the country sees critical cases decline, allowing the economy to begin to return to normal.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Israel offers a valuable preview of what the rollout of vaccines in other countries will look like. The country’s advantages in having a small population, socialised medicine and rapid vaccination program suggest it represents a best-case scenario for what other countries might hope for. As vaccinations roll out and enthusiasm that the light at the end of the tunnel is in view, the spectre of virus variants represents a brake on the pace of reopening.



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January 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Ideas 2021

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Ark Invest. Here is an important chart:

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report is packed full of blue sky thinking and gels with a lot of how I see the path of technological innovation over the next decade. The simple reality is that every innovation in how we communicate has created an industrial revolution. The printing press allowed for the dissemination of information and fostered inquisitiveness. The telegraph made the world smaller and allowed even more communication. The semiconductor created the conditions for instant communication. The internet realised that potential.



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January 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Coinbase is going public via direct listing

This article by Lucas Matney for techcrunch.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Last month, the company shared that it had confidentially filed an S-1 with the SEC, we still haven’t seen those financials but we now know that they have opted out of the traditional IPO process. Direct listings have been slowly gaining popularity and given some of the most recent first day pops from tech IPOs, it’s unsurprising to see a company like Coinbase which is likely flush with cash thanks to recent gains in the cryptocurrency market opt for a path to public markets that involves less fuss.

Direct listings allow companies to skip much of the heavy-lifting of the IPO process by stripping the public debut of a release of new shares, instead giving existing shareholders like VCs and employees a path to just liquidate their equity in the company.

This has been one of the friendliest IPO windows for tech stocks ever with investors racing to back technology companies that are primed for what’s been called the “digital transformation.” Coinbase is in a pretty favorable spot with the public markets and cryptocurrency markets aligned in frothiness. Bitcoin is currently trading near $33,000 just weeks after reaching on all-time-high.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Coinbase filed confidentially with the SEC in December and the announcement of the direct listing suggests the IPO will occur shortly. Many people have been looking for an easy way to buy cryptocurrencies and Coinbase will be a popular vehicle to express a view on the sector. It also has the added benefit from coming to market with a strong likelihood of being profitable which can’t be said for many of the shares which listed over the last year.



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January 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Moderna Says Shot Works Against Variants, Developing Booster

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

Moderna Inc. said its vaccine will protect against two known variants of the Covid-19 virus, but it plans to start human studies of a booster shot for a strain from South Africa that may cause immunity to wane more quickly.

In laboratory tests, Moderna’s vaccine produced antibody protection against the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the U.K. at levels comparable with older forms of the virus. But against the South Africa variant, known as B.1.351, the neutralizing antibodies produced were six-fold lower, the company said in a statement.

Despite that gap, Moderna’s shot should protect against either strain, according to the company. While the South Africa variant hasn’t been seen in the U.S., the U.K. mutation -- which British officials said last week may be deadlier -- is spreading rapidly among Americans. Both strains are thought to be more transmissible than the original virus.

“We expect that whatever immunity you get over time will wane. The question is will it wane faster if you have lower levels to begin with,” said Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, in an interview.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s a game of whack-a-mole as the virus iterates faster than vaccines are currently being produced. The challenge with a global pandemic is no two countries deploy the same response. Even between households the approach to social distancing varies widely. With news today that California has its very own new strain, similar to the UK’s, the drive to speed up both production and rollout of vaccines will become even more urgent. Meanwhile, the Israeli experience with a national rollout offers a test case for how effective, the Pfizer vaccine in particular is.



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January 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Don't Bank On the Glut of Savings Being Spent

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

From a broader perspective, inflation results from demand exceeding supply, but since globalization commenced three decades ago, it’s been an excess supply world. Asian countries are big producers of exports they send to the West, but they’re weak consumers. China’s consumer spending is just 43% of GDP, compared with 68% for the U.S. So the resulting Asian saving glut generates price-depressing excess supply. Barring a tariff wall that seals off imports from Asia, any revival of U.S. consumer spending wouldn’t be big enough to eliminate global excess supply. And President Joe Biden is less zealous on the trade war with China than former President Donald Trump.

Finally, note that some investors aren’t anticipating surging inflation and interest rates. Technology-related and other growth stocks have low earnings yields, the inverse of price-to-earnings ratios, which are justified by low interest rates. The theory is that their present stock values equal the discounted value of future earnings, so the lower that discounting interest rate, the more their equities are worth
today.

Earnings of $10 in 10 years hence is worth $9.05 today with a 1% discounting rate, but only $5.58 at 6%. So if investors expected a leap in inflation and interest rates, they’d probably be dumping growth stocks now.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Is it different this time? That’s the big question for anyone who has been monitoring the markets for the last few decades. Every time we see a recovery from a major decline, there is evidence of inflationary pressures beginning to rise. In 40 years, they have not proved to have staying power.



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January 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Short-Seller Citron 'Walks Away' After 'Angry Mob' Tried to Silence Him on GameStop (GME), Turning Info Over to Feds

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

GameStop (NYSE: GME) short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research says an "angry mob" that owns the stock spent the last 48 hours committing multiple crimes against him and his family that he will turn over to the FBI, SEC, and other government agencies.

He said what he experienced is nothing short of "shameful and a sad commentary on the state of the investment community" and he will no longer be commenting on GameStop.

Left said this was not just name-calling and hacking but "serious crimes such as harassment of minor children."

Left said they are "investors who put the safety of family first and when we believe this has been compromised, it is our duty to walk away from a stock."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Crowds all share common characteristics. The most important from the perspective of monitoring markets is that as the crowd grows, only the basest of emotional responses survive. There is no room for equivocation. Only absolutes are acceptable to the mob. Estimates of future potential stretch to infinity as a result.



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January 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Losses Gather Pace, With Prices Nearing Three-Week Low

This article by Anchalee Worrachate and Eric Lam for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Bitcoin has already achieved the fastest-ever price appreciation of any must-have asset,” wrote JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists John Normand and Federico Manicardi in a report on Thursday. “Current prices are so far above production costs that mean-reversion lower in returns is a recurring concern.”

Bitcoin was down 10% to $31,532 as of 10:08 a.m. in New York. Prices are on track for their first back-to-back weekly decline since early October.

Adding to the anxiety, a report in a trade blog suggested that there had been what’s known as a double purchase, where the same “coin” is used in two separate transactions.

“This really will chill a lot of that relentless buying and belief that Bitcoin is a stable form of providing transactions” if a double-spend actually happened, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Talk of a double purchase went wild on social media overnight. The primary issue is that bitcoin is designed to ensure that is impossible. Bitcoin processing is slow because it is designed to ensure that a bitcoin cannot be used to make a transaction twice. People try all the time to make double purchases but in order for a transaction to be considered “secure” it needs to go through six blocks. Therefore, I believe it is unlikely that bitcoin has been hacked or that a double purchase has taken place. However, the whole issue does highlight the difficulty bitcoin has in scaling the number of transactions. It is the primary argument against it being a medium of exchange for everyday purchases.



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January 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jack Ma's Brief Video Chat Prompts a $58 Billion Sigh of Relief

This article by Lulu Yilun Chen, Coco Liu and Abhishek Vishnoi for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Much about the future of China’s most famous businessman remains unclear. Yet analysts said Wednesday’s video was a sign that worst-case scenarios -- such as jail time for Ma or a government takeover of his companies –- are probably now off the table. It’s unlikely Ma would have participated in the event without at least tacit approval from Beijing; state-run media including the Global Times were among outlets that posted snippets of his talk or wrote stories about his appearance.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty on regulators’ next moves, but this does mean the status of Jack Ma is much better than a lot of people speculated,” said Fang Kecheng, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no getting around the fact that Ant Financial prospered in the grey area between consumer finance and traditional banking. By offering a higher interest rate than banks, it grew into a massive deposit taking operation without having to submit to banking regulation. When he publicly showed distain for banking regulators, it signalled Ma had forgotten that his success was based on the ability of Ant Financial to operate outside the regulatory umbrella of the banking sector. They dropped the hammer on him and the company will now be part of the regulatory environment. It remains to be seen if the rule breaking on deposit rates will still be tolerated. 



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January 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

3D Systems, ExOne Rally After Stifel Sees 3D Printing Growth

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

 

Shares of 3D printing companies rose on Tuesday, extending their recent gains, after Stifel started
research coverage on the group with a broadly positive view.

* The firm issued buy ratings on ExOne, Stratasys and Desktop Metal
** XONE up 11%, SSYS up 7%, DM up 3.2%
* Analyst Noelle Dilts wrote that XONE is “well-positioned to benefit from increased adoption of 3D printing technology for industrial end part production,” while DM should be supported by “a dramatic increase in the use of 3D printing for end-use part production” over the coming decade
** PT $20 for XONE, $30 for DM
* On SSYS, Stifel wrote that it’s in a “mature position where it can leverage its existing infrastructure” for further growth
** The company is working to be the first choice in the polymer 3D printing marketplace, which is “expected to more than double by 2025”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Veteran subscriber might remember the initial hoopla about the promise of 3D printers in 2012 and 2013. A large number of startups entered the market on the expectation that additive manufacturing creates better materials with fewer imperfections, that it would lead to mass production as economies of scale improved and that the potential for reshoring was vastly improved by the largely automated technology.



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January 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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January 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Carry Trades

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is nothing in the financial markets that can’t be made better with leverage. That’s the foundation most trading operations are based on. One of the most common trade patterns is to source cheap funding in a currency which is depreciating in value. That way when it comes to paying back the loan, you get to keep the profit on the currency trade as well as any gain from the assets you invested in.

Japan’s zero interest rates made it an ideal candidate for carry trades but the propensity for the Yen to strengthen meant that short yen carry trades tended to be rather volatile. It was common in the decade up to the introduction of Abenomics in early 2012 for unwinding of carry trades to contribute to profit taking across global markets.

As interest rates have trended towards zero across the world the opportunity to access cheap funding in a wide array of currencies has never been greater. The challenge today is to find the currency most likely to decline versus assets with high growth and yield potential.



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January 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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January 11 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Polar Vortex Stirs, Deep Freeze Threatens U.S. and Europe

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

Technically, the polar vortex refers to a band of winds that encircle the Arctic and keep the cold locked far to the North. But with that temperature spike, known as sudden stratospheric warming, the band can buckle, allowing frigid air to head south. Gas traders used to call it the “polar pig.”

That could mean chills anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, though this year it’s likely to end up in the U.S. according to Ryan Truchelut, president of Weather Tiger LCC. A wave of deep cold could give the Great Lakes and East Coast their first real blast of frigid winter weather, along with a storm pattern that delivers snow storms as well.

It will be a big shift for the U.S., where winter has been a bit lackluster so far. In New York, January readings have been 5.1 degrees above normal through Thursday, and Chicago has been 7.2 degrees warmer for the month.

Still, there’s no guarantee it will happen. While a sudden stratospheric warming usually leads to a burst of frigid weather, sometimes the clockwork of gears in the atmosphere doesn’t deliver.

“Many times in the past, the forecast for a cold weather event across the country resulted in a false alarm,” said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist with the Energy Weather Group LLC.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Weather is indeed fickle so no one can be sure that the expected wintry weather will in fact arrive. However, it is worth considering that the global economy is attempting to recover and delivery drivers are more a part of the fabric of the economy than ever before.



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January 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cryptocurrency market cap tops $1 trillion with bitcoin above $37,000

This note from MarketWatch may be of interest to subscribers.

The market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies topped over $1 trillion for the first time, according to data from Coindesk. That came as bitcoin BTCUSD, 9.15% topped $37,000, trading up nearly 4% to $37,152. Cryptocurrencies have surged, helped by a move in the autumn by PayPal to allow transactions through their service.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cryptocurrencies have risen to a $1 trillion market cap faster than Tesla which is no mean feat. Until quite recently Tesla’s share price advance has been outpacing even the feverish pace of bitcoin’s ascent. That all changed this week with Bitcoin’s three-day jump from $30,000 to $40,000.



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January 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on US COVID cases

As a result of the violent rioting in Washington yesterday, by thousands of people under huge stress, a super-spreader event has almost certainly been generated. I note the daily tally of deaths yesterday in the US exceeded 4000. Not good!

Eoin Treacy's view -

I totally agree and it seems like there are super-spreader events going on all the time. Since the UK variant of the virus has been found in an increasingly large number of countries, we have to assume it is much more pervasive than spotty testing highlights. Many countries now test for coronavirus but much fewer do the genetic testing necessary to identify variants. The USA for example doesn’t have a wide tracking system for mutations.



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January 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

December Research Letter

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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December 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rising inflationary pressures and Ethereum

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on hydrogen ETFs

Hope you have a good Xmas. Could I ask, are you aware of an ETF in which I can get exposure to Hydrogen. I live in the UK, as such, I may be restricted with my choice?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. To the best of my knowledge, the sector has not gained sufficient adherents, beyond the broad renewables universe, for any firm to  launch an ETF.

Here is a link to the Chart Library folder for Hydrogen companies.



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lidar Makers Jump After Report on Apple's Autonomous Car Plans

This article by Divya Balji and Crystal Kim for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Some lidar suppliers gained Tuesday after Reuters reported that Apple Inc. plans to build a self-driving car for consumers and is tapping outside partners for elements of the system as it develops its own battery technology.

Apple is approaching companies for some parts, including lidar sensors that provide autonomous cars with a real-time, 3-D view of the world, the report said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Lidar supplier Luminar Technologies Inc. rose as much as 12% on Tuesday, while Velodyne Lidar Inc. surged 16%. Blank-check firms that are bringing more lidar players to the market also advanced: InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. climbed 17%, while Collective Growth Corp. jumped as much as 24%.

Apple has been working on driverless car technology since 2014, but pared back its ambitions from a full-fledged vehicle in 2017, Bloomberg News has reported. Since then, Apple has been working on the underlying autonomous system. The company has been deciding whether to attach this system to its own car, or existing vehicles, or to partner with an established carmaker, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple enjoys an almost 40% gross margin on its iPhones and tablets. Porsche has about a 47% gross margin on the 911 and Ferrari has a more than 50% gross margin on its cars. Tesla’s is 16.5%. Toyota’s is 18% and Volkswagen’s is 19.5%. No mass market producer has been able to achieve margins on the scale technology companies are accustomed to.



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Chinese Chip Giant SMIC Can Evade Trump's Newest Crackdown

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

Within the company, engineers are scrambling to assess the fallout and figure out workarounds to secure the equipment it needs, much like Huawei did two years prior, another person familiar with the matter said. At issue is the administration’s focus on drawing a line at 10-nanometer technology, banning the sale of equipment intended for use in more advanced processes. SMIC could conceivably repurpose 80% of older-generation gear to crank out more advanced chips, but that tactic won’t sustain production for the longer term and much depends on how far President-elect Joe Biden decides to take the rules, a third person close to the situation said, asking not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

“The company has already got critical equipment and materials needed to continue production,” said Xiang Ligang, Beijing-based director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance. “In the past, China wasn’t too sensitive about the technological bottlenecks it has. But now, Beijing is fully aware of the potential damage and is determined to solve these issues.”

Chinese government-backed SMIC, a manufacturer of chips for global names from Qualcomm Inc. to Broadcom Inc., relies on U.S. gear for its longer-term technology road map. While its engineers may be able to sustain research and output in the short run, the latest sanctions basically freeze its capabilities while the industry advances. If a Biden White House takes it to the max, SMIC could be blocked from 7nm or more advanced technology while overseas rivals like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dominate the market. The heightened scrutiny may also discourage clients leery of dealing with the uncertainty.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Self sufficiency in semi-conductors is a central policy objective for China. It is the basis on which the country seeks to compete with the USA in future. China may be able to do without Australian coal or wine but it has no hope of competing effectively on the geopolitical front without securing the supply line for technology’s basic ingredients.



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December 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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December 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Quadruple Witching Roils Stock Market, Sparking Bursts of Volume

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

Coinciding with the event is Tesla Inc.’s widely-watched inclusion in the S&P 500, a development that alone is estimated to force roughly $80 billion of stock trading. While all the turbulence means headaches for traders, some market watchers view it as the final chance for investors to shuffle big holdings before liquidity thins out into Christmas and the New Year’s holidays.

“Traditionally these are outsized liquidity days, and following the rebalances we expect liquidity to dwindle into year-end,” Wells Fargo & Co. strategist Chris Harvey said. “In other words, Friday is likely the last opportunity to make major portfolio shifts before the 2020 liquidity window closes.”

Quadruple witching typically fuels trading as large derivatives positions roll over. While spikes in volume usually occur around the open and close, providing windows of robust liquidity, large price swings can happen suddenly at any time of the day.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla trades at an historic P/E of more than 1000 and a forward P/E of 297. That’s a racy valuation by any definition. The fact it also has a market cap of $630 billion and will occupy a greater weighting in the S&P500 than Berkshire Hathaway is going to greatly increase the overall valuation of the Index.



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December 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

US 'Has Evidence Russia Breached Its Nuclear Networks' in Massive Cyber Attack

This article by Matthew Field for The Telegraph may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday on “what appears to be a massive cybersecurity breach affecting potentially thousands of victims, including US companies and federal government entities.” “I want to be clear," Mr Biden wrote.

"My administration will make cybersecurity a top priority at every level of government -- and we will make dealing with this breach a top priority from the moment we take office.”

Federal investigators have been combing through networks in recent days to determine what hackers had been able to access and how much damage might have done in one of the most serious cyber attacks on the US government in recent years.

Thomas Bossert, Mr Trump's former homeland security adviser, warned that a Russian cyber attack on the US government could take more than six months to resolve and will require a “staggering effort” to rebuild existing IT systems.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of cloud computing has resulted in wonder cost savings, productivity enhancements and the ability to work remotely. It has also created additional challenges in securing information and access to databases. 



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December 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese EV Makers Trade at High Valuations, Helped by Tesla and National EV Targets

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

NIO, BYD and Xpeng are examples of Chinese electric-vehicle makers that have surged in value, buttressed by national targets regarding electric vehicles on the road and investors' search for the next EV titans. The American depositary receipts in these companies have surged this year and the meteoric rises put their valuations in line with large traditional car makers, such as General Motors and Ford Motor. To help cut carbon emissions, China aims for EVs to make up 20% of car sales by 2025, and 50% by 2035. Tesla's success this year has also fueled investor appetite for the technology. Investors should be aware though that most Chinese upstarts are unprofitable, The Wall Street Journal reported, and they are also selling far fewer vehicles than major automobile groups.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla’s success in attracting capital has set off a global gold rush in copycats seeking to cash in on investor demand for renewable investments. Anything that has a battery in the description is doing well and a lack of income was not seen as a barrier to entry when discount rates are zero and the world is swimming in cash.

The evolution of the SPAC market has been a gateway for a pace of IPOs to rival that of the late 1990s. The number in 2020 alone has exceeded the total for all other years combined. The result is new companies have been popping up on the stock market at a dizzying pace. Advice to pursue growth at all costs, capture market share and not to worry about profits carry heavy reminiscences of the tech bubble in the late 1990s.



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December 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disney Shares Hit Record on Forecast of Streaming Surge

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

In a presentation to investors Thursday, the world’s largest entertainment company outlined plans for dozens of new movies and TV shows from those major brands, with an eye toward becoming a streaming behemoth in four years. The company expects its program spending to reach $14 billion to $16 billion annually by then.

Disney+, the entertainment giant’s flagship streaming platform, also is getting a price hike. The U.S. monthly rate will climb $1 to $8 in a move that executives telegraphed earlier this year. In Europe, the price will rise 29% to 9 euros ($11) a month, although there it is getting additional content aimed at adults.

Shares of Disney rose as much as 11% to a record $171 in New York trading Friday. The stock has about doubled since March on the strength of the streaming business.

“The enormous success of Disney+ inspired us to be even more ambitious,” Executive Chairman Bob Iger said at the event. “Our pipeline is much more robust than we initially anticipated,” he said, adding that the Disney+ cadence should soon hit 100 new titles per year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Disney+ ESPN and Hulu round out Disney’s streaming portfolio. The transmission medium is no longer dependent on cable TV and or satellite connection which affords streaming companies an opportunity to retain more of their earnings. So far, this saving has been passed on to consumers in the form of low subscription fees. However, the route to profitability lies in price rises despite the highly competitive environment.



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December 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook Breakup Would Demolish Zuckerberg's Social Media Empire

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

“Breakups are scary for investors because in some ways they could disrupt the business models,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who called Instagram one of the three best business acquisitions of the past 15 years. Still, Ives thinks the chance of an actual breakup is “slim” without legislative changes from Congress, which he believes are unlikely. “It’s a noisy headline but it doesn’t massively change the situation for Facebook in the near term.”

However remote the prospects, any sign that the FTC is leaning toward a breakup is likely to weigh further on Facebook’s stock. Facebook acquired these promising rival platforms precisely
because it expected the main social network to one day fade, and it wanted to be the company deciding what apps people would turn to next. A breakup would undo most of Zuckerberg’s hedging for
Facebook’s future, just as his immense investments in Instagram and WhatsApp are starting to pay off. Facebook argues that those investments made Instagram and WhatsApp what they are today.

“Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have dramatically improved those services and helped them reach many more people,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post to employees on Wednesday. “We compete hard and we compete fairly. I’m proud of that.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Breaking up Facebook is a monumental challenge which could take years, if it happens at all. However, the constant haranguing of the company by politicians is likely to limit its ability to grow. It will be unable to acquire future up and coming social media platforms to appeal to younger demographics. Musical.ly, which was acquired by TikTok, is an example of how Facebook has already been limited in continuing to buy competitors.



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December 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on vaccines and uptake potential

This article, quite long but worth reading, is by one of my favourite health professionals, Jon Barron.  He is not an anti-vaxxer nor an pro-vaxxer. He provides   a very in-depth  look into the captioned  subject.  If you’re interested in the subject matter, he provides warts and all. You must read the latter part of his article where he suggests using air ionisers to kill airborne viruses. Makes sense to me.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative article by Jon Barron which may be of interest to subscribers. Here were two particularly relevant sections on the side effects of vaccines and the relative risk of fighting an infection unaided:

The CDC reports 1.31 cases of anaphylaxis per million flu shots given and a comparable one or two people in a million will develop GBS. (About 161 million Americans get a flu shot each year.) So, we’re talking approximately 210 cases of anaphylaxis per year in the US, and since anaphylaxis has a fatality rate of between 0.25% and 0.33%, we’re talking about one death every two or three years. As for GBS, a small number of people are permanently impaired, and approximately 3% -5% die.

In other words, somewhere between 4-15 people die every year as a result of getting the flu vaccine, with maybe 300-400 suffering serious injury. Weighed against that is the fact that somewhere around 55,000 people die every year in the US from the flu itself, with most of those deaths occurring in the unvaccinated. Now, to be fair, although complications from flu vaccinations are rare given the number of flu vaccinations administered each year, if you or someone you love is the one who gets injured or dies, then rarity is probably not a mitigating factor in your mind. Incidentally, total compensation paid out over the life of the government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) is about $3.6 billion. That’s a lot of serious side effects. And as I’ve discussed previously, the flu vaccine consistently tops the NVICP’s list of claims made and paid out for injuries and deaths resulting from the side effects of vaccination.3

The bottom line is that the flu vaccine is neither as harmful or ineffective as antivaxxers claim nor as safe or effective as the medical community pronounces. Both sides have lied to you. Unfortunately, this makes any rational discussion about vaccines impossible.

And

Having this kind of reaction to the second dose simply shows that your body is responding the way it should, that the vaccine is working, and that you are building long-term defenses against the virus.

As to any long-term side effects from the COVID vaccines, we will have to wait and see. The bottom line, though, when it comes to safety, is that getting your immunity through vaccination is probably a whole lot less risky than getting your immunity through natural infection (285,000 dead and counting, not to mention several million long haulers). Anyone who likes to gamble will understand where the better odds lie here.

 



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December 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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

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



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December 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the space race

This is an interesting if alarming piece about China and adds weight to your observations about war.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this interesting article which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In the meantime, though, the distinction between Earth and space has been blurred. Geopolitics used to be Earth-bound, world war was war between continents. Now it isn’t. China is ahead on this. Clausewitz is taught in its military academies and so too is the Prussian argument for a Feldherrenhügel, the mound from which commanders can direct battles. Space is the ultimate “higher ground” from which all strands of a battle can be monitored and directed. That is why the moon is more than a sentimental prize.

A senior Chinese general was quoted in 2016 as saying “the space between the Earth and the moon will be strategically important for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. The head of the Chinese lunar mission says “if we don’t go there now, even though we are capable of it, then we will be blamed by our descendants. If others go, then they will take over.”

 



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December 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

It will change everything: "DeepMind's AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures

This article by Ewen Callaway for Nature may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It’s a game changer,” says Andrei Lupas, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, who assessed the performance of different teams in CASP. AlphaFold has already helped him find the structure of a protein that has vexed his lab for a decade, and he expects it will alter how he works and the questions he tackles. “This will change medicine. It will change research. It will change bioengineering. It will change everything,” Lupas adds.

In some cases, AlphaFold’s structure predictions were indistinguishable from those determined using ‘gold standard’ experimental methods such as X-ray crystallography and, in recent years, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). AlphaFold might not obviate the need for these laborious and expensive methods — yet — say scientists, but the AI will make it possible to study living things in new ways.

And

The first iteration of AlphaFold applied the AI method known as deep learning to structural and genetic data to predict the distance between pairs of amino acids in a protein. In a second step that does not invoke AI, AlphaFold uses this information to come up with a ‘consensus’ model of what the protein should look like, says John Jumper at DeepMind, who is leading the project.

The team tried to build on that approach but eventually hit the wall. So, it changed tack, says Jumper, and developed an AI network that incorporated additional information about the physical and geometric constraints that determine how a protein folds. They also set it a more difficult, task: instead of predicting relationships between amino acids, the network predicts the final structure of a target protein sequence. “It’s a more complex system by quite a bit,” Jumper says.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The sheer breadth of what we do not yet know about biology is becoming more apparent all the time. That’s the greatest benefit of advances in technology, it makes answers possible where questions were never considered.



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November 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Is Winning Covid-19 Monetary Revolution

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

Some economists, such as my friend Ken Rogoff, welcome the demise of cash because it will make the management of monetary policy easier and organized crime harder. But it will be a fundamentally different world when all our payments are recorded, centrally stored, and scrutinized by artificial intelligence — regardless of whether it is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or China’s Xi Jinping who can access our data.

In its early years, Bitcoin suffered reputational damage because it was adopted by criminals and used for illicit transactions. Such nefarious activity has not gone away, as a recent Justice Department report makes clear. Increasingly, however, Bitcoin has an appeal to respectable individuals and institutions who would like at least some part of their economic lives to be sheltered from the gaze of Big Brother.

It is not (as the term “cryptocurrency” misleadingly implies) that Bitcoin is beyond the reach of the law or the taxman. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation busted the online illegal goods market Silk Road in 2013, it showed how readily government agencies can trace the counterparties in suspect Bitcoin transactions. This is precisely because the blockchain is an indelible record of all Bitcoin transactions, complete with senders’ and receivers’ bitcoin addresses.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin’s jump to new highs over the weekend is another example of volatility in quiet weekend trading and suggests the downdraft last weekend was an attempt to influence weak holders so sell and to trigger stops.



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November 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Crypto Boom Shaken as Bitcoin Plunges Along With Other Coins

This article by Eric Lam and Todd White for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The sell-off gathered pace late Wednesday after Coinbase Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong tweeted about speculation the U.S. is considering new rules that would undermine anonymity in digital transactions.

“News that the Trump administration may clamp down on crypto might have been a trigger for the drop,” said Antoni Trenchev, managing partner of Nexo in London, which bills itself as the world’s biggest digital-coin lender. “But any asset that rallies 75% in 2 months and 260% from the March lows is allowed to undergo a correction.”

Other coins including XRP tumbled as much as 27%, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg.
After garnering more support from Wall Street money managers and fund providers, the rally in cryptocurrencies had looked over-heated. The fierce retreat could stir yet another debate over their value in diversifying portfolios.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At its peak there was a question whether bitcoin would consolidate like any other asset or would its momentum take it immediately on to new highs. The answer was delivered late Wednesday with a clear downward dynamic which checked momentum. The threat of regulatory intervention in the cryptocurrency market is always a risk unfortunately.



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November 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Mania Grips Retail Traders in Flashback to Fall 2017

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

“FOMO is slowly kicking in. We are only just beginning to see some of our retail clients borrowing against their Bitcoin to buy more Bitcoin and that will ultimately propel the rally well into the $20,000s and beyond,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and managing partner of Nexo in London, which bills itself as the world’s biggest crypto lender.

Trading got so intense overnight in XRP that U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase crashed, according to media reports. That sparked a plunge in the coin after the massive rally took it to a record.

Coinbase’s official status page says that its website is operational, and that an incident on Monday at 10 p.m. has been resolved. A spokesperson from Coinbase said they are looking into Bloomberg News’ request for comment.

While Main Street investors may be dreaming about hitting a jackpot, more seasoned market veterans remain wary about the sudden boom. The crypto world is notoriously opaque, and unlike stocks or bonds, which are rooted in economic and business fundamentals, getting a read on what makes Bitcoin tick can be impossible even for the savviest investors

“Whenever I see mainstream media attention like this, that usually leads to a sell-off,” said Kevin Murcko, the founder and CEO of CoinMetro, an Estonia-based crypto exchange. “The big fish need to lay off risk so they open the floodgates to bring in retail guys to dump on. Not sure this is the case this time around but it seems a bit suspect.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Back in 2017, legions of college kids went home for Thanksgiving and convinced their parents investing in bitcoin was a good idea. The price jumped from $8000 to over $1900 in the ultimate Santa Claus rally. It then gave up the whole advance by the beginning of February.



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November 24 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Experimental cancer vaccine passes animal tests, moves to human trials

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

"We are excited to begin testing of this vaccine in the United States to offer new hope to patients with lung and other cancers,” adds Kaumaya. “Reaching this point where we can transition our findings from the lab to the clinic speaks to the perseverance and dedication of Imugene's clinical and research team – including our research lab staff at Ohio State – to build on the clinical and commercial potential.”

The new research was published in the journal Oncoimmunology and the video below offers a more detailed explanation of how the novel cancer vaccine works.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cancer vaccines are already very successful in preventing cervical cancers. A shot to prevent some forms of lung cancer would be a gamechanger for many individuals. The question is not if buy when these new technologies reach commercial utility because the profit prize from success is so large.



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November 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

PayPal and Square's Cash App have scooped up 100% of newly mined bitcoins, report says

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

PayPal and Jack Dorsey's Cash App have bought 100% of newly mined bitcoins as the digital token is seeing a record rally this year, according to Pantera Capital's monthly blockchain newsletter.

After PayPal announced it would allow its users to buy, sell, and hold the digital token, about 300 million active users got instant access to digital currencies.

The US payments firm's crypto-exchange platform, itBit, was recording only moderate volumes until PayPal's announcement.

But once PayPal's service went live, itBit's volumes started exploding within four weeks. PayPal is already buying 70% of the newly mined bitcoins while Cash App has bought about 40%, Pantera said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If one company is buying all new supply and 60% of existing supply is held off market, the supply inelasticity versus rising demand argument goes into overdrive. The fact that one company can so readily soak up all new supply begs the question what happens when more companies open up crypto trading to their clients? It is also the most likely causal factor behind the jump in alt-coins over the weekend. 



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November 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on crypto wallets

Check out the Ledger Nano X hardware wallet. It can hold 100 apps simultaneously. Whereas, please be aware that the ETH app can hold all ERC20 tokens. So just by installing BTC and ETH you can hold keys to many more coins that just BTC and ETH. You will have BTC + all ERC 20 coins.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this valuable information which is sure to be of interest to the Collective.



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November 19 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rocketing Bitcoin Stakes Claim as Pandemic Refuge for Brave

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon Expands Push Into Health Care With Online Pharmacy

This article by Angelica LaVito and Matt Day for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Analysts have long expected Amazon to dive deeper into health care in a bet the company can bring its digital real estate and logistical prowess to bear on a roughly $4 trillion industry in the U.S. with a reputation for inefficiency. The company rattled drug retailers with its PillPack acquisition, but Amazon has been slow to integrate the online pharmacy startup into its offerings.

The announcement Tuesday marks the first time that shoppers can order prescription drugs directly on Amazon. Previously, they were redirected to PillPack’s website. An integrated pharmacy removes one of the few gaps in Amazon’s offerings compared with major big box and grocery rivals, some of whom have long filled shoppers’ prescriptions in the same stores where they sold flat-screen televisions or cans of soup.

The discounts are a clear play for people who pay for their medications with cash, whether they are uninsured or are looking to save money. Strong demand for transparency and better deals have helped fuel the rise of discount card programs like GoodRx Holdings Inc. Amazon will display both the price when using insurance and the price without. Infusing transparency into a system that has been frustratingly opaque for consumers could alter the supply chain.

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first – bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” said TJ Parker, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy and co-founder of PillPack.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Waiting for 15 or 20 minutes while a prescription is filled must be one of the biggest nuisances of the retail experience. Being forced to walk around aisles of products one has no interest in begs the question, “how long does it take to select a product from a shelf and put it in a bag?

The challenge for pharmacists is they spend much more time ensuring the veracity of a doctor’s instructions than they do filling them out. Yet, that is only small part of their business. The bulk of volume is focused on repeat custom and it is this business Amazon is targeting. Chronic conditions are where the money is in selling pharmaceuticals, Renewable prescriptions do not need to be verified all that often and cashflows are received on a subscription basis. That’s the kind of service Amazon excels at.



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Batteries of the Future Are Weightless and Invisible

This article by Daniel Oberhaus for Wired.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Unlike the carbon-fiber and lithium-ion sheets being developed by Asp and Greenhalgh, Kotov and his students created a zinc-air structural battery for their automatons. This cell chemistry is able to store much more energy than conventional Li-ion cells. It consists of a zinc anode, a carbon cloth cathode, and a semi-rigid electrolyte made from polymer-based nanofibers that is nanoengineered to mimic cartilage. The energy carriers in this type of battery are hydroxide ions that are produced when oxygen from the air interacts with the zinc.

While structural batteries for vehicles are highly rigid, the cell developed by Kotov’s team is meant to be pliable to cope with the movements of the robots. They’re also incredibly energy-dense. As Kotov and his team detailed in a paper published earlier this year, their structural batteries have 72 times the energy capacity of a conventional lithium-ion cell of the same volume. For now, their batteries are being used to power robotic toys and small drones as a proof of concept. But Kotov says he expects they’ll be used in midsize robots as well as larger hobby drones in the not-so-distant future. “Drones and medium-size robots need to have new solutions for energy storage,” Kotov says. “I can guarantee you that structural batteries will be a part of that.”

The battery has always been an addendum, a limiting factor, and a parasite. Today it’s vanishing before our eyes, melting into the fabric of our electrified world. In the future, everything will be a battery, and stand-alone energy storage will seem as quaint as landline telephones and portable CD players. It’s a disappearing act worthy of a great magician: Now you see it—and soon you won’t.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Dematerialisation is the process through which many of the locations and products we have previously physically interacted with have disappeared onto the internet. The disappearance first of the record player and then the record store is a clear example of that trend.



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Tesla's prospects

I remember a few years ago that you wrote in one of your articles that Tesla could well go broke! It could yet happen but they seem to have found a firmer footing since then for the time being. 

Could their joining the S&P Index be an early warning of trouble ahead for the market generally as this Bloomberg report suggests?

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-11-17/will-the-stock-bubble-burst-as-soon-as-tesla-joins-the-s-p-500?sref=O3zvoUBa

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. I’ve written a lot about Tesla over the last decade. It’s a highly leveraged company so there is always a risk it will not be able to achieve its goals. At its current valuation it cannot afford to disappoint. If we listen to Elon Musk, the company was about a month from bankruptcy during the ramp up of Model 3 production but it successfully pulled through. 



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November 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

7 Misconceptions About Bitcoin

Thanks to a subscriber for this well-argued article by Lyn Alden which may be of interest. Here is a section:

The question then becomes whether that energy associated with Bitcoin is put to good use. Does Bitcoin justify its energy usage? Does it add enough value?

So far, the market says it does and I agree. A decentralized digital monetary system, separate from any sovereign entity, with a rules-based monetary policy and inherent scarcity, gives people around the world a choice, which some of them use to store value in, and/or use to transmit that value to others.

Those of us in developed markets that haven’t experienced rapid inflation for decades may not see the need for it, but countless people in emerging markets have experienced many instances of severe inflation in their lifetimes, tend to get the concept more quickly.

Furthermore, a significant portion of the energy that Bitcoin uses, could otherwise be wasted. Bitcoin miners seek out the absolute cheapest sources of electricity in the world, which usually means energy that was developed for one reason or another, but that doesn’t currently have sufficient demand, and would therefore be wasted.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The energy to utility argument for bitcoin makes intuitive sense and willingness of investors to continue to support the asset class is a testament to the belief people have that there is intrinsic value in the network.



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November 13 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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



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November 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing in Ethereum

As you are an investor in Ethereum (it also comprises 35% of our fund), I've attached my recent Fact Sheet comments fyi :

Ethereum announced on 4 November (after a lengthy period of research, development and extensive testing) the imminent launch of the first phase of the major ETH2 upgrade. Ethereum, like Bitcoin, currently uses Proof Of Work (POW) to secure its blockchain while ETH2 will use Proof Of Stake (POS). POS requires that sufficient quantities of ETH are deposited on the blockchain and that these depositors also run a validator/node to process transactions and reach consensus on their validity.

Depositors/validators are rewarded for the risk they take and the service they perform by receiving additional ETH (the total quantity of ETH issued is determined by a sliding scale depending on the total amount staked). Should depositors act with malign intent they stand to lose their ETH, while tardy maintenance or excessive downtime will result in depositors/validators being penalised. Should the minimum threshold of 524288 ETH and 16384 validators be reached on 24 November, the ETH2 Beacon chain will go live on 1 December (if not then 7 days after the thresholds are reached). Running a validator is not without its technical challenges, and any ETH staked cannot be withdrawn until the current ETH1 chain becomes a shard of the ETH2 chain. That could take anything from one to two years from now. We are potentially keen to stake some of our ETH, but are proceeding cautiously and would likely use a third party to run the validators on our behalf.

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, recently posted a blog post https://vitalik.ca/general/2020/11/06/pos2020.html on why the new POS will be more decentralised, more secure and far more resistant to attack than the current POW used by ETH and Bitcoin. It is worth remembering that the majority of Bitcoin’s mining is in China – and ANT Financial’s IPO travails demonstrate yet again the extent that power is centralised in China. The next priorities for Ethereum are to release Sharding on ETH2 (which will increase the potential transactions per second to 100k) sometime in the next year as well as Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559 which will substantially improve Ethereum’s fee model – including burning the bulk of the fees generated on the system. EIP1559 will likely have the effect of reducing Ethereum’s net issuance (after ETH1 becomes a shard of ETH2) to negative.

On a one to two year horizon, Ethereum therefore offers the following advantages relative to Bitcoin :1) greater security and resistance to attack, 2) more decentralised (an average consumer laptop can run many nodes easily vs the large server farms needed to mine Bitcoin ), 3) lower inflation/issuance, 4) vastly higher scalability (100k transactions per second vs 7), 5) full programmability from inception (while Bitcoin’s programmability is limited), 6) the ability to earn a yield on your ETH through staking (which will become very easy in time and with no lockups), 7) the centre of the DEFI (Decentralised Finance) ecosystem, which it is already, and 8) use vastly less electricity (Bitcoin’s POW uses as much as say New Zealand).

I am however also very bullish on Bitcoin….the bull case of which is becoming increasingly well known (for example https://winklevosscapital.com/the-case-for-500k-bitcoin/). The Ethereum bull market has barely started in my opinion.

I can send the full Fact Sheet if you are interested.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email which summarised a great deal of information relating to the evolution of the Ethereum network. I agree that the transition to the proof stake rather than proof of work model is a significant catalyst for investor interest. I’m sure subscribers would be gratified to see your fact sheet.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

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



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Welcome back America!

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by James Breiding. Here is a section:

Resolution requires concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. It took 25 years to reform Finland’s primary education system before it topped the league in PISA scores. Singapore achieves superior health care outcomes at 25% of the cost of the US and 40% of Europe thanks to a system which gives consumers “skin in the game”.  It’s now thirty years in the making. Denmark’s commitment to wind power dates back to the 1970’s when the benefits were egregiously uneconomic. More than half of its energy is now from renewable sources. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has evolved over thirty years since Lamoureux convinced Canada’s labor unions that the fund needs to attract and pay the best people from Goldman Sachs and Blackrock to work for them, rather than paying them fees.  Ontario Teachers’ has had an annualized total-return of 10% since reforms were made in 1990, and retirees’ pensions are fully funded with 100% inflation protection provided on all pensions.

It may be far-fetched to think that small, successful, experimental nations can fill this vacuum of leadership, but the world is begging for consistent leadership and a positive example, so an opportunity presents itself to step up.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a good reason small countries tend to succeed in niche areas, and are often more successful than larger countries on specific metrics. They have to. Israel, South Korea or Switzerland have spent lifetimes grappling with the uncertainty of geopolitics. They understand the reality that if they don’t succeed on their own no one is going to help them.

Ireland is small rainy island on the tip of Europe, without a commitment to education and active courting of FDI, coupled with low corporate taxes and light regulation it would be a very dreary place indeed.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video Game Prices Are Going Up for the First Time in 15 Years

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

Sony executives have been deliberating over a price increase for some time, said people familiar with the discussions. A spokeswoman for Sony said the company is selling titles at launch for as little as $50 and the “biggest games" for $70. She said the higher price is “reflective of the growing development resources needed for these ambitious games.”

Game companies argue prices haven’t kept pace with the cost of other media like a movie ticket, Netflix or cable television, said Yoshio Osaki, the head of IDG Consulting Inc., which works with most major publishers. Since 2005, the cost to develop a game has tripled or quadrupled, he said.

“Not all publishers will launch next-gen games at $70,” Osaki wrote in an email. “However, we do anticipate that a growing percentage of games will launch at $70, but not all at once and not uniformly across every publisher or every game franchise.”

Capcom Co., the Japanese publisher of Resident Evil and Street Fighter, won’t release software for the new systems until next year. But like other companies, Capcom said it’s taking a “title-by-title” approach. “We believe game software’s price should be determined by how much money consumers are willing to pay for the quality, not by how much money we spend to make that game,” said Kenkichi Nomura, the chief financial officer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This discussion of what the cost of computer game should be is missing a significant evolution of the market which has been going on for the last decade. Freemium is the biggest trend in the market where players have access to the game for free and pay of add-ons to speed up their progress or enhance the look of their online profile. 



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