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May 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold CEO Blasts âHystericalâ Fund Managers Chasing Quick Cash

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

“I’m cautioning people not to become too obsessed with stripping the industry out of its cash, and not allowing strengthened balanced sheets to be built and investments in the future,” he said. “Whether it’s exploration or deal making, it’s got to create value and you can’t create value as a mining executive if you don’t have support from the fund managers.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors have been conditioned to expect well-capitalised companies will buy back shares, pay special dividends and will not engage with capital intensive business lines. That sounds great for tech companies but it doesn’t work for miners. Mining executives that are not actively engaging with M&A targets are coming under profound pressure to distribute available cash. Meanwhile there is no tolerance for green field exploration among either large miners or investors. No one wants that kind of open-ended risk. The 10-month correction in the gold price will only have further damaged appetite for investment in new supply and particularly from banks which control the supply of liquidity. At a minimum it will require even better prospects than normal. That bolsters the limited supply argument over the medium term.



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May 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Colombia Coffee Exports Halted by Protests, Federation Says

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

Coffee isn’t moving to ports, including the main Buenaventura shipping hub, because of nationwide protests and road blockades, Roberto Velez, CEO at the Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers says by phone from Bogota.

The Colombian situation is fueling gains for prices in New York, which have reached the highest since 2017
Protests that started last week against a tax reform bill continued even after it was withdrawn, Velez says, adding any solution would have to come from the central government
There’s also concern that Covid-19 rates are increasing in coffee areas
Coffee pickers needed for the harvest are already on the farms
NOTE: Colombia Protests Slow Coffee Shipments to Ports, Importer Says
2021 Coffee Output Seen at 14M Bags: Trade Group

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Brazilian drought has been the primary tailwind for coffee prices over the last few months. A threat to the consistency of Colombian exports represents and additional tailwind for as long as it lasts. Coffee is one more commodity experiencing supply inelasticity. The year of lockdowns unset supply/demand fundamentals and left the commodity markets more susceptible to weather or political interruptions. The result is rising prices for just about everything.



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May 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese vaccines sweep much of the world, despite concerns

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

China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots.

Amid a dearth of public data on China’s vaccines, hesitations over their efficacy and safety are still pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return for deliveries. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines already have begun in more than 25 countries, and the Chinese shots have been delivered to another 11, according to the AP tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This map of China’s vaccine exports is very impressive and highlights just how high global demand for any form of vaccine is. China’s commitment to export hundreds of millions of doses before inoculating its domestic population and the spotty efficacy data for its shots suggests there is more at work than meets the eye. 



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May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for May 4th 2021

May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Yellen Says Spending May Spur 'Modest' Interest-Rate Increases

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

“It may be that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure our economy doesn’t overheat,” Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said in an interview with the Atlantic recorded Monday that was broadcast on the web on Tuesday. “It could cause some very modest increases in interest rates.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors relying on momentum want to hear that the money will keep flowing and there is no risk the punchbowl will be taken away. Whenever that desire is fulfilled, we see the stock market climb to new highs. However, when it is even modestly questioned it is cause for profit taking.



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May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cautious German Savers Brave the Stock Market

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

Michael Schacht, 70 years old, is a typical German saver. Risk-averse, the clothing-shop owner kept the equivalent of $300,000 in a local bank in a small town near Hamburg.

Then, earlier this year, Mr. Schacht’s bank told him it wanted to charge him a negative 0.5% interest rate to hold his money.

Furious, Mr. Schacht did something he never considered: He put it all in the market. His portfolio includes investments in stocks and corporate bonds from Europe and elsewhere through funds, plus gold and silver.

“I don’t want to make lots of money, I just want a low-risk investment that provides a reasonable return on capital, like 2%, 4%,” Mr. Schacht said. “That has always been realistic in the past.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is an example of how investors are being forced to speculate. Negative interest rates are an obvious tax on savers so they have no choice but to buy riskier assets. It is a choice between guaranteed modest losses or potential gains with the added scope for bigger losses.  This is particularly acute in places like Germany where retail investors don’t generally invest in the stock market.



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May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on central bank digital currencies:

I have been a subscriber to your service for over 20 years, probably closer to 30 years. I am very satisfied with your service, and am one of your great admirers. I was surprised though how certain you sounded on the future of money and digital currency on Friday's audio. Do you really think that the current monetary system will change drastically and that digital currency will be the main currency in the future? What will be your guess as to how long will it take to have that kind of change? Once again thanks a lot for the excellent service. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your patronage over the decades and this question which may be of interest to the Collective. The world is awash in debt and the total continues to rise. Governments are running wartime-like deficits and spending plans continue to be revised upwards. Nothing has occurred to change the trajectory of policy. Whenever the next crisis occurs central bank balance sheets will multiply in size again.  



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May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Copper Boom Is Just Beginning for the CEO of Biggest Gold Miner

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

Copper may be flirting with record highs but the metal is far from peaking as the energy transition revs up, according to Newmont Corp. Chief Executive Officer Tom Palmer.

Futures hit $10,000 a metric ton on Thursday for the first time since 2011 as mines struggle to keep up with surging demand. Newmont, the world’s largest gold producer, is increasing exposure to copper through several “mega projects,” Palmer said on an earnings call. Even if just one materializes, copper will account for 15-20% of the company’s total output by the end of the decade, he said.

“I’m pretty excited about having good exposure to copper at that time when the world is going through the energy transition,” Palmer said on an interview with Bloomberg TV following the earnings call. “Copper’s got a pretty good story in front of it. I think its day in the sun is more towards the end of this decade.”

The copper push doesn’t mean Palmer has a downbeat view on gold. He sees bullion prices holding their current “very healthy levels” or even moving higher given fiscal and monetary stimulus. India should remain one of the key sources of demand after the country recovers from the Covid-19 tragedy, Palmer said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mining executives have been slow to invest in new supply because they are still scarred from the negative experience of the last bear market. Green field mining is expensive and uncertain and they now wish to preserve their balance sheets and strong cash positions. Investors are certainly not complaining at the rising dividends either. There is a growing belief among gold mining CEOs that copper/gold deposits are the most attractive for new investment. That might also be considered a hangover from the mining bust because it hedges exposure to the gold price and diversifies income streams.  



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April 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the inevitability of bitcoin's multiplication

Hi, what would be your comment on the following report from these people who were right more frequently than not:
https://panteracapital.com/blockchain-letter/five-orders-of-magnitude/

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

For every million new users, the price of bitcoin rises $200.  It happened every time except for February 2016, when the price was slow to hit.   

The rise in the price has been amazingly constant.  I’ll leave it to some future Avogadro to figure out exactly why.  The important point is:  If this relationship holds, bitcoin will hit $200,000 in 2022.

I realize that sounds like a large caveat – but these relationships have held for a decade.  The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of bitcoin has been 213% for more than ten years.  $200,000 a year from now would be exactly 213% higher than today.  It would be just normal trend growth.

The best time to buy bitcoin is around a year before the halving of the reward for mining (halvening). The last one was almost a year ago and the next will be in about three years. After the halving of the reward, the limited supply argument is burnished because it becomes twice as expensive to mine new coins so the need for additional resources increases while the value of coins already in existence inflates. That’s exactly what we have seen after every other halving and there is no reason to believe that will not persist.



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April 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden = Roosevelt: The Analogue

This side by side comparison by Ray Dalio may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section on corporations:

Roosevelt, 1935: “We have established the principle of graduated taxation in respect to personal incomes, gifts, and estates. We should apply the same principle to corporations. Today the smallest corporation pays the same rate on its net profits as the corporation which is a thousand times its size.”

Biden, April 2021 Speech to Joint Session of Congress: “Recent studies show that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero in federal income tax last year. No federal taxes on more than $40 billion in profits. A lot of companies also evade taxes through tax havens from Switzerland to Bermuda to the Cayman Islands. And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions that allow for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas. That’s not right. We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from.”

Treasury Report on Biden Tax Plan, 2021: “The President’s Made in America tax plan is guided by [six principles, including] requiring all corporations to pay their fair share. To ensure that large, profitable companies pay a baseline amount of taxes, the President’s plan would impose a minimum tax on firms with large discrepancies between income reported to shareholders and that reported to the IRS. It would also provide the IRS with resources to pursue large corporations who do not meet their tax obligations, reversing a trend toward fewer corporate audits.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

When there are thousands of people on the street and parliament buildings are under siege, politicians tend to wake up to the public mood. The harrowing experience, many elderly politicians experienced in the USA during the Capitol riot, is likely to inform their decision making going forward. That’s true regardless of whether they are aware of it or not. Giving the people what they want, which is more money, is going to be high on the list of priorities.



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April 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

EBay Warns Pandemic Sales Boost Could Soon Fade; Shares Tumble

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

EBay Inc. warned investors that its sales boost tied to the pandemic and government stimulus checks may be coming to an end.

Shares tumbled as much as 7% in extended trading Wednesday after the online marketplace issued a revenue forecast for the current quarter suggesting spending on the site could recede as more people get vaccinated, businesses reopen and stimulus checks dry up.

Investors are watching to see which companies can build on their pandemic gains and which will fade. Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Shopify Inc. all hinted at lasting momentum in their earnings reports this week, sending their shares higher. EBay joined social media platform Pinterest Inc. as a potentially short-lived pandemic phenom.

“This is a relative challenge for EBay to not be able to fully hang on to the gains from the pandemic,” said Ygal Arounian, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Rebounding consumer behaviour, renewed hiring and generous handouts have boosted earnings for all manner of consumer companies in the first quarter. That has been particularly true for the mega-caps with Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft all posting impressive results.

The fact that about half of people are better off unemployed than working has also helped to boost consumption of goods in particular. Those benefits will expire in September so there is still room for revenue support absent the spikes associated with stimulus cheques. 



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April 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shale CEO Sees Producers Staying Disciplined at $70 Crude Oil

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

America’s shale producers will keep output in check even as global crude oil prices near $70 a barrel, Ovintiv Inc. Chief Executive Officer Doug Suttles said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Explorers are focused on low growth, strong operating performance and returning cash to shareholders, Suttles said. Ovintiv is prioritizing paying down debt and maintaining its dividend, he said.

Private operators’ ability to weigh on oil prices by ramping up production is limited after recent tie-ups with publicly traded companies, Suttles said. While closely held producers have more influence on the natural gas market, “it’s a little bit of a concern, not a big one,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

European natural gas prices have bounced impressively from the region of the trend mean and are quickly approaching the highs of the last decade. That is likely to encourage more sea-borne gas into the market which is contributing the US prices bouncing impressively from the trend mean.



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April 29 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The new Chrysalis Network is Live!

This news release from iota.org may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The time has finally come. With Chrysalis, IOTA is now enterprise-ready and has entered a new era of adoption, serving as a base layer for the machine economy, the Internet of Things and beyond, enabling new use cases and setting standards in data and value transfer. All of this is achieved without fees and while maintaining a minimal environmental footprint.

Partners, academia, and developers can now start to build on the Tangle and plan for the future.  There will not be substantial changes on the way to IOTA 2.0, Coordicide, as the majority of the code-base including tools, libraries, and APIs already exists in Chrysalis. Projects built on today’s codebase will not require major refactoring later on.

With the work for Chrysalis complete, many of the Foundation's engineers are now able to fully focus on Coordicide, Digital Assets and Smart Contracts. The next major milestone to a fully decentralized IOTA 2.0 is around the corner, with the Nectar network launching in just a few weeks!

Nectar will be the first complete implementation of the major Coordicide modules, which will be followed by the launch of the incentivized testnet. The goal of this network is to discover any bugs and issues and make any refinements before a release candidate for the IOTA mainnet.

IOTA will become the first production-ready DLT network based on a fully decentralized leaderless consensus protocol that is scalable, feeless and secure. This is a tremendous pioneering achievement and milestone for the innovation of distributed ledger technology. All achieved without requiring any miners or wasting resources.

Eoin Treacy's view -

IOTA gets faster the more it is used which makes it ideal for scalability and it does not require millions of machines running in tandem to solve algorithms to do it. The challenge is that until now it has had to rely on central coordination to achieve these feats. The ambition of the teams supporting IOTA’s Tangle (its rough equivalent of the blockchain) has been to achieve coordicide. That would enhance independence and turn IOTA into a true decentralised network. Today’s announcement brings that moment much closer.



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April 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 28th 2021

April 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

India Stocks Advance as Nation Ramps Up Virus Control Steps

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

“We expect markets to look beyond the short term on cases peaking, vaccine approvals and expansion,” Amish Shah, an analyst at Bank of America Securities India said in a note on Tuesday. The stabilization of new cases in Maharashtra state, location of the financial capital Mumbai, could be a “precursor” to the virus curve flattening over one to two months, Shah said.

The U.S. this week said it will help India by sending items needed to manufacture vaccines as part of an aid package. European countries are also pledging support after the South Asian country saw record numbers of new cases. India today began registering people from 18 years of age to get inoculations from May 1.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The headlines regarding India and feedback from domestic sources all point towards dire conditions. The reality is the Indian authorities were probably a bit too sanguine about their success in avoiding the worst effects of the pandemic and are now paying for that laxity. The bigger question for investors is if this spike is the result of superspreading religious events or a new variant.



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April 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook

Thanks to a subscriber for report from Lacey Hunt which reiterates his long-term view that yields will continue to compress. Here is a section:

Before the pandemic, economic growth was decelerating as confirmed by a decline in world trade in 2019, one of the few yearly declines in the history of this series. While the huge debt financed programs were a response to the pandemic, the end result is that global nonfinancial debt increased to a record 282% of GDP in 2020. The 37% surge of debt relative to GDP was also a record. While this debt may be politically popular and socially necessary, it will weaken growth and inflation after a transitory spurt, which will lead to even more disappointing business conditions than existed prior to the pandemic.

The actual global debt situation may be worse than these numbers indicate because they include China, the world’s second largest economy. Scholarly forensic research indicates that Chinese GDP is overstated by at least 18%. Thus, the official Chinese debt to GDP ratio is suppressing the global numbers. A comparative analysis of money velocity confirms the suspicion about the Chinese figures. Money velocity in China in 2020 was 0.44 versus 1.19 in the U.S. Admittedly money and debt are not identical, but they are opposite sides of the balance sheet and the glaring gap is too much to be ignored.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Something that has been troubling me for a while is why has China chosen now as the time to clamp down on Alibaba and Ant Financial’s massive money market fund. The rationale that it was politically motivated and that the firm has become too big and powerful for the comfort of the Communist Party is tempting and probably holds some truth. However, the bigger question is whether the financial system needs to reabsorb the flows and be refortified because the debt overhang is much larger than investors are willing to give credence to?



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April 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What 175 years of data tell us about house price affordability in the UK

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

Houses have rarely been more expensive relative to earnings than they are today in more than 120 years. Prices are stretched everywhere but London and the south of England stand out. Things look even less affordable for women.

The last time there was a sustained decline in the house price-earnings multiple was the second half of the 19th century. Average house prices fell for more than 50 years thanks to substantial building of houses, many of which were smaller than existed before. At the same time earnings rose.

How likely or even desirable would that be today? The UK’s heavily mortgaged consumers would struggle to cope with 50 years of falling house prices. It would also be political suicide for whoever was deemed responsible. A shift towards the building of smaller houses would also seem unlikely  – research has found that houses are smaller today than at any point since at least the 1930s[1]. Hobbit homes cannot be ruled out entirely but I’m not sure how positive an outcome that would be.

Which leaves us with earnings. Earnings growth has been weak since the financial crisis but has recently picked up strongly – average earnings in the final quarter of 2020 were 4.7% higher than the same period of 2019. A period of stronger pay growth may represent the best hope of improving affordability (with the caveat that stronger earnings may result from a stronger economy which could result in a stronger housing market).

The elephant in the room here is interest rates. A Bank of England working paper[2] concluded that nearly all of the rise in average house prices relative to incomes between 1985 and 2018 can be seen as a result of “a sustained, dramatic, and consistently unexpected, decline in real interest rates as measured by the yield on medium-term index-linked gilts”[3]. The Bank doesn’t rule out other factors, but concludes that they have had more of a short-term impact. It furthermore concludes that: “An unexpected and persistent increase in the medium-term real interest rate of 1 percentage point from its level as at end 2018 could ultimately generate a fall in real house prices (over a period of many years) of just under 20%.”

However, depending on whether you are a current home owner or a prospective buyer, you are likely to be encouraged and discouraged in equal measure by the Bank of England’s scepticism that this is likely to materialise. Just because house prices are expensive relative to earnings does not mean there is a good reason to expect them to cheapen materially.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The view that property is a better investment than stocks has grown considerably in the UK because the FTSE-100 peaked in 2000 and has spent the last twenty years ranging in a volatile manner. Against that background investing in property has been the right decision regardless of the costs of maintenance and taxes. The big question for investors is whether that will continue to be the case.



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April 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Confirms Plan to Gently Hike Supply as Demand Recovers

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

The global oil market “is on the one hand positive, we see a recovery of demand and higher global GDP estimates,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told Rossiya 24 television after the OPEC+ committee’s conference call. Nevertheless, the group must keep monitoring the coronavirus situation across many regions, including Asia, he added.

“We see that some countries record higher coronavirus numbers, like in India and Latin America, which raises some concerns about further growth of demand,” Novak said.

Crude futures held gains after the OPEC+ gathering, trading 0.4% higher at almost $66 a barrel in London.

Strong Demand

It was the OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee that initially recommended sticking to their planned output increase. Ministers from the panel then asked other OPEC+ members to cancel the full meeting scheduled for Wednesday, and instead they drafted Tuesday’s statement by exchanging diplomatic messages.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no shortage of oil and there is no mystery about where to find more if it is needed. The drop off in domestic US drilling and the combined efforts of OPEC+ to curtail supply have shaved at least 7 million barrels a day from the market. That has been instrumental in the rebound for oil prices.



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April 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Like science fiction,' Seattle startup sends laser-equipped robots to zap weeds on farmland

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

Over the next decade, the Western Growers Association aims to automate half of the harvest of specialty crops, which include fruits, vegetables and nuts. A Florida company has been developing a strawberry-picking robot. At Washington State University Tri-Cities, scientists are working on an apple-picking robot — an idea some farmworker advocates met with skepticism. 

Edgar Franks, political director at the union Familias Unidas por La Justicia, based in Burlington, Washington, said that, generally speaking, the rise of automation is concerning. Farm work is grueling “because of the exploitation of labor,” he said.

“From our point of view, it’s all about labor control and cutting labor costs down…What’s going to happen to the workers who made the industry so profitable, all of a sudden to be kicked out?” Franks said.

Myers said it has become more difficult to hire people for work like weeding. This year, 80% of the migrant workers he planned to hire on temporary H-2A visas are delayed at the U.S.-Mexico border, he said.

“It’s harder to find people to do that work every single year,” he said. 

Mikesell declined to provide an exact cost of the robot, but said its price is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, comparable to the cost of some tractors. 

The weeding robot, manufactured in Mukilteo, uses GPS technology to stay within a geofence at the edge of the field. Cameras underneath the robot scan the ground and artificial intelligence identifies the weeds among the crops. 

Then a carbon dioxide laser (the same kind used to cut metal) “targets the weeds for destruction,” in the words of the company’s website. The company says the machine can weed 15-20 acres per day. 

Developing the machine meant troubleshooting to ensure that the lasers and robot could withstand hot and freezing temperatures, plus rain, dust and lightning – to match the “general ruggedness of farm equipment,” Mikesell said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unskilled heavy labour is often performed by uneducated migrant workers. The necessity of this work has been a cornerstone of immigration policy in many parts of the world for a long time. If there is no longer a need for large numbers of people to tend crops the route to entry to many countries is likely to become tighter over time.



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April 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New malaria vaccine reports milestone 77 percent efficacy

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

There is still a long road ahead before this new vaccine comes close to large-scale use. A phase 3 trial is commencing now, spanning four African countries and enrolling close to 5,000 children.

However, the importance of developing an effective malaria vaccine cannot be understated. Over 400,000 people still die from malaria every year. Lynsey Bilsand, from vaccine research charity Wellcome, calls this new breakthrough “significant and exciting” in the ongoing battle against this major global health problem.

‘Despite global efforts against malaria, too many lives are still lost to this disease, especially babies and young children,” says Bilsand. “Vaccines could change this. This is an extremely promising result showing high efficacy of a safe, low-cost, scalable vaccine designed to reach the huge numbers of children who are most at risk of the devastating impact of Malaria.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Malaria represents both a human tragedy and massive tax on productivity in tropical and many sub-tropical areas. The death rate is bad enough but knocking people out of the workforce and making them a burden on their families is one of the primary reasons economic compounding does not result in better outcomes in Africa. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the introduction of a vaccine would have a massive impact on long-term growth potential for the SubSaharan African region.



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April 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 26th 2021

April 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the world after COVID:

In today's article on the long-term consequences of Covid no mention was made on the long-term impact of robotisation. In the short-term there may well be a shortage of workers in some areas but in the long term this will probably be offset by more mechanisation.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to the Collective. Mechanisation is an inexorable trend and we have ample examples of how many labour-intensive jobs have been outsourced to robots. The challenge with this trend is it is accelerating and is something that the whole world will need to adjust to.



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April 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Container Shipping Insights The 'mega' trend to continue

Here is a section from a JPMorgan report focusing on shipping costs.

Global liners are stepping up de-carbonization efforts and experimenting with alternative fuels
To achieve the industry target, many global liners such as A.P. Moller Maersk (viewed an industry bellwether) are stepping up de-carbonization efforts, recently unveiled plans to fast-track its de-carbonization efforts, with a target to put the world’s first vessel powered by carbon-neutral fuel into operation in 2023, seven years ahead of its original schedule. Specifically, Maersk will install its smaller feeder vessels (capacity of around 2,000 TEUs) with dual fuel technology, power them using alternative fuels including methanol (produced from plant waste) while retaining the option to use VLSFO if necessary. Maersk is also currently experimenting with other alternative fuels including ammonia. Looking ahead, Maersk targets to operate more methanol-fueled vessels in the future and expects methanol and ammonia to emerge as more viable future fuel options.

Adoption of new technology and alternative fuels will take time to achieve commercial feasibility. There are inherent limitations towards adopting alternative fuels. Referencing remarks made by Mr. Morten Bo Christiansen (Maersk head of de-carbonization), methanol has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15% vs conventional marine fuels while enjoying other advantages including having well-established infrastructure and manageable vessel retrofitting cost. Having said that, methanol has inherent limitations including low energy density and certain safety-related challenges. With respect to ammonia, Maersk expects ammonia to be an ideal replacement from a net zero carbon perspective, but overall technology capability remains at a nascent stage and no vessels today are equipped to utilize this fuel type. Maersk also takes a contrarian view compared to its peers and does not view Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a viable alternative, given its upstream and onboard emissions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The IMO 2020 regulations on emissions for the global shipping sector took more than a decade to agree and finally to implement. That was emblematic of an era when there was some commitment to reducing emissions but no real sense of urgency and where industry lobby groups were given priority. Today, the situation could not be more different. Shipping companies see the future of regulation and taxation and expect to be able to pass on green premiums to customers. That will put an additional cost on everything and represents an even bigger tax on global activity than an oil price spike because it is permanent in nature.



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April 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Widens Internet Crackdown With Meituan Monopoly Probe

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

China’s government has expanded its antitrust crackdown beyond Jack Ma’s technology empire, launching an investigation into suspected monopolistic practices by food-delivery behemoth Meituan.

The State Administration for Market Regulation announced the investigation, which began recently, in a statement Monday. The antitrust watchdog is looking into alleged abuses including forced exclusivity arrangements known as “pick one of two.” The company said it will actively cooperate with the probe and step up efforts to comply with regulations. Its businesses are currently operating normally, it added in a statement.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Meituan has prospered by gamifying the online review and social media sector. They provide concrete rewards for participation with the app and that can include anything from being able to skip the line at popular restaurants to discounts. As a result, the company has been one of the primary leaders of the domestic Chinese tech scene and growth of the social media ecosystem. That success has now attracted the attention of the government which effectively limits its growth.



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April 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics

This report from the San Francisco Fed may be of interest to subscribers. Here is the conclusion:

Summing up our findings, the great historical pandemics of the last millennium have typically been associated with subsequent low returns to assets, as far as the limited data allow us to conclude. These responses are huge. Smaller responses are found in real wages, but still statistically significant, and consistent with the baseline neoclassical model.

Measured by deviations in a benchmark economic statistic, the real natural rate of interest, these responses indicate that pandemics are followed by sustained periods—over multiple decades—with depressed investment opportunities, possibly due to excess capital per unit of surviving labor, and/or heightened desires to save, possibly due to an increase in precautionary saving or a rebuilding of depleted wealth. Either way, if the trends play out similarly in the wake of COVID-19 then the global economic trajectory will be very different than was expected only a few months ago.

Should we expect declines of 1.5%–2% in the real natural rate, however? There may be at least three factors that could possibly attenuate the decline of the natural rate predicted by our analysis, but their presence and magnitude is uncertain and unknowable until therapies to fight COVID-19 are more developed. First, the death toll of COVID-19 relative to the total population might be smaller than in the worst pandemics of the past, but we cannot know for sure at this point. Second, COVID-19 primarily affects the elderly, who are no longer in the labor force and tend to save relatively more than the young, so the demographic channels could be altered, although the recent pick up in infections is now affecting younger individuals. Third, aggressive counter-pandemic fiscal expansion will boost public debt further, reducing the national savings rate and this might put upward pressure on the natural rate, even though our analysis suggests that this expansion of public debt should be easier to sustain in the long-run.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This report has obviously helped to inform the view of the Fed in how they expect the path of interest rates to play out. They are worried that the rebound from the pandemic will not translate into a sustained path of outsized growth because of the damage done to the economy and animal spirits will take time to overcome.



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April 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Chipmaker's Advice to the Auto Industry

This interview with the head of automotive at Global Foundries (ahead of the company’s IPO) may be of interest to subscribers.

Fixing The Chip Crisis
It’s been almost five months since the global chip shortage surfaced as a serious problem for the auto industry. Some experts say it could take a year before automakers emerge from this expensive supply-chain hell.

The consequences will last much longer as the pandemic forces car companies to rethink how they manage their supply chains. Lead times for automotive chips already were lengthening before Covid-19 lockdowns, as the auto industry became a bigger semiconductor customer than ever before. That's because systems that alert drivers when they drift out of a lane and better harness an EV battery require more data processing than yesterday’s power windows and car radios.

I recently spoke with Mike Hogan, the head of automotive at Global Foundries, a chipmaker that has plants in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Since autos consume just 10% of global chip production, car companies usually buy consumer electronics chips off the shelf. Hogan says that with electrification and autonomy transforming vehicles, automakers have to look more deeply into their supplier networks.

Here are excerpts from our discussion, edited for length and clarity:
Where are we now, is this going to get worse? When will the shortage ease?
The first wave of help [for automakers] is probably a third-quarter thing.

It’s very hard to tell if there’s a shortage hiding behind a worse shortage. Because auto is so diverse, there are so many different kinds of semiconductors that go in there — if the auto guys don’t know what they need, how do they know they don’t need something else that they don’t see yet? That’s the real concern.

So I think it could be very lumpy trying to get out of this. Is that unique to the auto guys — versus someone who makes a smartphone or an iPad?

The folks who make smartphones, they don’t outsource the design to a bunch of people. They tightly control everything that goes in that smartphone. Even to the point where they say, ‘Look, Global Foundries, I want to make sure it’s there, so I’ll prepay for it, I will reserve the capacity. If I don’t take it on the day, you thought I was showing up, it doesn’t go anywhere because we’ve already pre-paid.’
People often talk about how making cars is such a low-margin business, it has to be done this way.

Do you think that’s true?
If you can’t build a $50,000 car and ship it and put all those people to work because you don’t have $15 worth of semiconductors...I think it’s time to shift that and say, ‘No, we’re the auto market, we have very unique needs, we need an architectural approach to building our cars, we don’t need to
buy retail off-the-shelf stuff.’ Then you have the real conversation ahead of time, versus, ‘Hey you don’t know me but I’m out of chips and it’s your fault buddy.’

Is that starting to happen?
There are a lot of good, smart people in auto that have seen this. This is the moment that gives that cohort within those companies the voice to say, ‘This is exactly why we needed to think different.’ I think you’ll see more of this direct relationship between autos and semiconductors.

Can chip factories in the U.S. compete with lower-cost producers in Asia?
We built a factory from the ground up in upstate New York. It cost billions, but there’s over 3,000 people working there. Are those 3,000 people getting paid a little more than the 3,000 people in Korea? Yeah, probably. But if you build enough wafers, it’s still very competitive. Part of this might be tilting some advantage for folks to use the domestic supply that we create, but that’s how it is everywhere in the world.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The global automotive sector is totally reliant on just in time sourcing of materials and components. They don’t hold inventory and are used to squeezing suppliers so they don’t have to. As they stray into the world of technology where there is competition for supply, they will have no choice but to compete. That means investing in additional supply and paying upfront.



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April 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin's Big Selloff Was a Long Time Coming

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

Felix Dian, founder of crypto investment fund MVPQ Capital
“Looking at the previous bull cycle (2016/17), there have been quite a few occurrences when Bitcoin loses momentum and dips below the 100-day moving average. This one was overdue.

“We are actually seeing record subscriptions into our fund this month, from institutional family offices, with many willing to use this as an opportunity to add. Ultimately, strong hands buying will meet the lack of available liquid supply of Bitcoin, triggering a squeeze and further down the road a new retail FOMO wave.”

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA
“The threat of regulation, either directly in developed markets or indirectly via the taxman, has always been crypto’s Achilles’s heel.

“Hopefully, we will hear as many ‘experts’ saying this is a sign of Bitcoin becoming a ‘maturing mainstream asset’ if it falls 10% this weekend, as we do when it rises, or a crypto-exchange chooses to IPO. In the meantime, don’t hate me for being bearish Bitcoin in the near term.”

Nikolaos Panitgirtzoglou, strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co
“Institutional demand has indeed slowed. I’m not sure what could trigger a re-acceleration of institutional demand. You either need a big announcement like Tesla or simply a correction and clearing of retail froth to incentivise institutional investors to re-enter the market.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

With a market cap of more than $1 trillion a lot more active participation is required to fuel the rapid price advances crypto investors are accustomed to. The institutional adoption argument helped bitcoin rally from $4000 to $65000 in less than a year. The big question is where will the next trillion of liquidity come from to spur another doubling?



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April 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Drop on Biden Plan to Lift Capital-Gain Tax

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

“Sticker shock over some of these tax figures will be hard to shake off for some investors,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp, wrote in a note. “Some traders are looking for an excuse to lock in profits and they might choose to use this tax story as their catalyst.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The rationale is clear. Do you want to sell now and pay 23% or later and pay 43%? Another way of asking that question is do you believe the stock market is going to rally another 36%, imminently, to compensate you for the additional tax you will pay on the higher future figure? That implies an S&P500 level of 5631 versus the current value of 4141.



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April 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Failure to Communicate Frustrates Markets

This note from Bloomberg may of interest to subscribers.

Frankfurt, we have a communication problem. And that could feed into a growing ECB credibility issue –- even as European bond markets are shrugging off details of today’s confab.

Markets crave clarity on pandemic bond buying, and instead are getting ambiguity. Madame Lagarde again warned against reading too much into weekly PEPP purchases. They are not the most relevant -- what matters more are the monthly numbers, she said, and accounting for redemptions, those reveal that “significant” increase pledged in March. They have “readily implemented” that ramp up as of March 16 -- and are continuing to do so clearly and without any wavering, according to Lagarde.

Except the data suggests otherwise looking at the recent run-rate. There is no “normal” pace of bond purchases given the need for flexibility and the ongoing pledge to preserve favorable financing conditions -- no wonder ECB-watchers are exasperated. Sure, risks to the outlook remain balanced in the medium-term and Europe remains an “economy on crutches” -– but so much for any clarity on the semantics around “significant” and what exactly front-loading means.

At least Lagarde confirmed that policy won’t be in tandem with the Fed. That much seemed obvious. As for significant PEPP purchases, guidance remains a case of constructive ambiguity -- let’s wait for those monthly numbers, and maybe more excitement in June.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ECB has opted to talk their way through providing assistance rather than actually doing it. That’s the only signal we can gain from their unwillingness to put numbers of the purchases they are willing to make while at the same time saying they will be as large as needed.



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April 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Blasts Australia's Decision to Cancel Belt and Road Deal

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

The Australian federal government scrapped both the memorandum of understanding and framework agreement signed between Victoria and China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Beijing’s top economic planning body, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in an emailed statement Wednesday. She described the deals as “inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations.”

The step “is another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China,” the Chinese embassy in Canberra said in an emailed statement. “It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations -- it is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself.”

Australia “basically fired the first major shot against China in trade and investment” conflicts, Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Communist Party-backed Global Times. “China will surely respond accordingly.”

China has lodged stern representations with Australia over the issue and reserved the right to take more action, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing Thursday in Beijing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China may successfully be able to cow smaller countries into submission by following a carrot and stick approach to infrastructure and trade development. Australia is a different story.



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April 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Corn, Soybeans, Wheat Surge on Chinese Demand, Weather Woes

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

Corn jumped by the exchange limit and soybeans topped $15 a bushel for the first time since 2014 as China’s rampant demand and adverse weather around the world threaten to further tighten supply.

Brazil’s second-corn crop is suffering from drought, and U.S. planting has been slowed by a record cold snap that may also have damaged some winter wheat. Meanwhile, western Europe lacks moisture for early growth of the grain, helping push up wheat futures and adding to worries about global food-price inflation as consumers still contend with the coronavirus pandemic.

The weather concerns in major growers come amid signs of continued strong demand, particularly in China, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture expectsto import a record 28 million metric tons of corn. The country is already scooping up the next U.S. crop. Soybean oil futures jumped by the most allowed, amid growing demand for renewable diesel.

“It’s an incredible rally. It is primarily the weather and demand and low stocks that are really driving this thing, and the realization that Brazil could have a poor second corn crop,” said Jack Scoville, a vice president for Price Futures Group in Chicago. “There’s just nothing going on that says sell the market.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The supply disruptions resulting from the pandemic continue to represent challenges for the global supply chain. That’s particularly true for the agriculture sector where weather is having an outsized influence after years of low prices and less investment in additional new supply.



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April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 21st 2021

April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Netflix Falls After Pandemic Boom Reverses to Rare Weakness

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

Netflix has been warning for months that growth would slow after customers emerged from their Covid-19 hibernation, but few expected the company to stall so dramatically. The first quarter of 2020 was the strongest in its history, reeling in 15.8 million new customers, and Netflix’s pace was still brisk in the fourth quarter.

“We had those 10 years where we were growing smooth as silk,” Executive Chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said on a webcast for investors. “It’s a little wobbly right now.”

Netflix added 3.98 million subscribers in the first quarter, compared with an average analyst estimate of 6.29 million and its own forecast of 6 million. That marked the weakest start of a year since 2013, when Netflix added about 3 million customers. If the company’s forecast for the current quarter holds, it will be the worst three-month stretch for Netflix since the early days of its streaming service.

Netflix blamed a “Covid-19 pull-forward” effect, meaning the pandemic accelerated its growth in 2020 while everyone was stuck at home and needed something to watch. Now that surge is taking a toll on the company’s 2021 results.

“It really boils down to Covid,” Spencer Neumann, the company’s chief financial officer, said on the webcast.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Veteran subscribers will be aware I am not a fan of Netflix. It pioneered streaming but its content is a triumph of quantity over quality. That latter point matters as competition increases and that is particularly true as the established content creators enter the fray.



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April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Canadian Dollar Gains as Traders Eye CPI With BOC Taper in Focus

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

The loonie edged slightly higher ahead of data forecast to show inflation ticked up. Investors will then turn their focus to the Bank of Canada’s policy decision in which policy makers are widely expected to announce the tapering of asset purchases.

USD/CAD +0.1% to 1.2601; fell as much as 0.2%; the loonie is stronger than most Group-of-10 peers

Scotiabank’s Shaun Osborne and Juan Manuel Herrera are watching whether policymakers opt to taper from the current CAD4bn/week to CAD3bn/week

Such a move should help support the loonie, they said, noting that they expect “the language of the policy statement and MPR to try and soften the impact” of a tapering decision

CIBC’s Bipan Rai said a convincing break of the 1.2650 level would be a possible signal of a new trading range, and recommends establishing longs there to target 1.30

Eoin Treacy's view -

The 2020 trend of unanimous global monetary and fiscal support is fraying as countries move to pursuing their individual priorities and as the pace of recovery diverges. Canada’s commodity and housing markets are firing on all cylinders so it is logical that they will begin to think about how to ease back from outsized assistance earlier than other countries.



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April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Just Like Price of ETH, Ethereum Usage Is Seeing Consistent Growth

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

Much like the price, the network fundamentals are just as bullish, with the hash rate on the network on an uptrend ever since December 2019.

Unique addresses have also been only growing, now past 148.5 million. Daily transactions also hit a new ATH at 1.5 million this week versus 1.35 million on Jan. 4, 2018.

Average gas fees on the network continuously keep above 150 Gwei with several significant upticks along the way, which first gained momentum during DeFi summer, as per Etherscan.

While the high fees on the second-largest network continue to price out the smaller users due to high activity on the platform, it goes without saying people are still using it and paying the fees.

“You pay high fees now because it’s the most useful chain by far. The catalysts coming will be the most obvious in retrospect,” said Kyle Davies, co-founder of Three Arrows Capital.

The consistent growth in usage can further be seen in transactions settled by the Ethereum blockchain, which has reached $1.5 trillion in transactions in Q1 2021.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There has been a deal of interest in the alt-coins as bitcoin’s price has increased. That’s a normal response from investors who are drawn to the promise of quick gains. They look for catch-up potential as the primary asset rises and the cost of participating increases.



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April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oatly Reveals Growing Losses, Revenue in U.S. IPO Filing

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

Oatly Group AB, the vegan food and drink maker, has filed for a U.S. initial public offering.
The Malmo, Sweden-based company, in a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, listed an IPO size of $100 million, a placeholder that will likely change.

Oatly reported a $60 million loss on $421 million revenue in 2020, compared with a loss of $36 million on revenue of $204 million a year earlier.

The company counts Chinese conglomerate China Resources Co., Swedish private equity firm Verlinvest and Blackstone Group Inc. among its biggest shareholders, the filing showed. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG are leading the offering. Oatly plans to list on Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol OTLY.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Oatly has spent a great deal of money already on getting into supermarkets and cafes. That begs the question where the additional money from an IPO will be spent? Perhaps it will simply compensate the initial backers as they transfer ownership before it eventually goes bust. There is certainly an increasingly active health food market but Oatly does not own a patent on producing oat milk. Competition is inevitable and will be expensive to fend off.



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April 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trafigura Bets on Green-Nickel Squeeze in Defiance of China Cure

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

 

Nickel is already one of the most carbon-intensive metals to produce. Now Tsingshan has come up with a way of using a type of low-grade ferronickel called nickel pig iron in its plants in Indonesia to produce metal suitable for batteries, offsetting the carbon intensity with renewable energy. Some analysts and investors, including Trafigura, have questioned whether the process will be accepted by increasingly eco-conscious automakers.

“The technology is definitely real, but does not meet ESG standards,” said Jon Lamb, portfolio manager at metals and mining investment firm Orion Resource Partners. “As consumers are focused on the lifecycle carbon intensity of their supply chains it is difficult to see how this production would earn a spot in these supply chains.”

But for Matt Fifield, managing partner at Pacific Road Capital, Tsingshan’s announcement means more players in the game.

“The game itself is actually how do we put nickel units into a growing nickel market,” he said. “There will be more Tsingshans, there’ll be more people with breakthrough technology that will be able to create battery-grade nickel feed.”

According to mining magnate Robert Friedland, there are a lot of “fantasies” about where battery-grade nickel is going to come from.

“The automobile industry is not going to nuke hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical jungle in Indonesia and dump the tailings in the ocean and try to convert ferronickel into batteries,” he said during an industry event last week. “That’s disinformation or whistling in the dark.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Carbon hurdles are only going to grow higher for European businesses. The nickel market is a prime example. European automakers will be held to account for the carbon intensity of the materials they use. That’s particularly true as Germany’s Green Party looks set to benefit from a pandemic electoral upset for the CDU. It is very questionable whether Chinese producers will be held to the same high standard. That creates a significant cost of production disparity and particularly since China is the world’s largest car market. 



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April 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chemical Maker Elementis Rejects Third Deal Offer in Five Months

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

U.K. specialty-chemical company Elementis Plc turned down a third acquisition offer in five months, a move that risks further irritating investors who have missed out on potential deals.

Rival Innospec Inc. said Tuesday it is no longer considering an acquisition of Elementis after the latter company’s board rejected a 160 pence per share offer made late last month. Elementis shares pared a gain of as much as 22% to trade up just 1% at 137 pence.

Elementis rebuffed two earlier offers that another U.S. foe, Minerals Technologies Inc., made in November of last year. J O Hambro Capital Management Ltd., a top investor in Elementis at the time, told Bloomberg News it had concerns about management’s strategy and the board’s refusal to enter into discussions with Minerals Technologies. Sky News first reported on Monday that Elementis had
received takeover interest from Innospec.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Refusing three takeover offers in the space of a year raises big questions for the current management team at Elementis. They are either going to have to come up with a plan to realise the value these suitors see or fire the CEO and accept an offer. Either way, significant corporate changes lie ahead.



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April 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Is Bitcoin Tumbling and What Is the Outlook for Prices?

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

As digital assets make further inroads with both retail and institutional investors, regulators across the world are taking a closer interest.

On Friday, the Turkish central bank said it would ban their use as a form of payment from April 30 and would prohibit companies that handle payments and electronic fund transfers from processing transactions involving crypto platforms.

There was also online speculation over the weekend that the U.S. Treasury is poised to crack down on money laundering carried out through digital assets. The Treasury declined to
comment.

Other sources of regulatory pressure include central banks’ plans to create digital currencies such as China’s for the yuan, and the ban of cryptocurrency mining in Inner Mongolia, long an industry favorite because of its cheap power.

“We will see more regulation coming,” Eva Ados, chief investment strategist at asset manager ERShares, said on Bloomberg TV, warning investors to be “very careful.” “We think there is going to be even more volatility going forward.”

* Overexcitement
Any big rally offers potential for the market to get ahead of itself. That’s the view of Galaxy Digital founder and long-time crypto bull Michael Novogratz, who wrote on Twitter he sees the retreat as a healthy correction.

Mike Novogratz @novogratz
With hindsight it was inevitable????????. Markets got too excited around $Coin direct listing. Basis blowing out, coins like $BSV, $XRP and $DOGE pumping. All were signs that the market got too one way. We will be fine in the medium term as institutions coming to the space.
Sent via Twitter for iPhone.

* Idiosyncratic factors
Other things could be adding to the mix. Industry news site CoinDesk reported Saturday that power outages in parts of China had knocked out a significant amount of Bitcoin mining capacity, which reduced the overall processing power of the cryptocurrency’s network.

There’s also the timing.
“Bitcoin goes crazy on weekends because it’s one of the few markets open to trade in,” Kyle Rodda, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG said. “And it’s lost some buying support.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Direct listings put no limit on the quantity of stock that can be sold directly to the public on the first day of trading. In a normal IPO there is a defined quantity of stock than can be sold and there are lockups for insiders that prevent them from selling immediately. Direct listings don’t have those controls. One way to look at it is direct listings prevent dilution of existing shareholders ownership. Another is they afford insiders the ability to liquidate their positions in one fell swoop. It looks increasingly clear that Coinbase insiders sold $5 billion of shares on the first day of trading. 



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April 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How fintech companies are wrestling with commercial banks in Nigeria

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

Nevertheless, while banks have the customer base and staff numbers to tackle the disruptive potentials of fintech startups, their responses have been quite passive.

Fintech companies like Paystack, PiggyVest, Kuda Bank and others are innovating past traditional institutions by making digital financial services like lending, savings, or investing readily available to people. They have been able to recognize the pain points for users, which have not been addressed by commercial banks.

Other fintech startups have fueled the growth of alternative lenders which offer both higher yields to investors and faster, cheaper, more convenient loans for borrowers compared to traditional banks. Startups like Carbon and Branch offer lower loan rates than commercial banks and this is mostly because fintech companies are not subject to the operational costs involved in running a traditional bank with multiple branches.

In an exclusive interview with Nairametrics, Femi Oshinlaja, the COO of Cassava Fintech, a pan-African Fintech Group that enables digital financial services for Africa’s mobile consumers, explained why digital solutions are fast spreading across the African continent by stating;

“With the growth in smartphone penetration and greater pervasiveness of the internet, we see the convergence of the online channels with more consumers opting to use digital channels to send money home as they see the convenience of doing so from the comfort of their homes and not having to queue to make the transaction in addition to the affordability of the online option.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Massive populations of young ambitious people represent outsized potential demand for banking and credit services. Since the vast majority of Africans have no experience of the traditional banking relationship, they represent fertile growth for the fintech sector. As a result, Africa is likely to where we see active efforts to introduce a blanket form of digital payments.



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April 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Midas Touch

Thanks to a subscriber for the report from Celtic Gold which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section on seasonality:

In the current year, the gold price seems to be running two months ahead of its seasonal pattern established over decades. The top on January 6th was followed by a clear wave down lasting almost three months until the end of March. This correction would actually have been more typical for the period March to June. With the double low reached at the end of March, the beginning of the usually strong summer phase would be conceivable from May or June this year. In the short term, seasonality continues to urge patience. At the very latest, the gold price should be able to take off again from the beginning of July.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The re-opening of the Chinese gold import window and the bottoming in demand from India represent examples of Asian buying looking to accumulate on weakness. Meanwhile, investment demand continues to moderate as ETF holdings remain under pressure. That suggests institutional buyers have been sufficiently chastened by the decline to want to wait of clear evidence of a bottom before recommitting.



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April 19 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on pre-hospitalisation treatments for COVID-19

Yet another conspiracy theorist??? This cardiologist testifying to the Senate committee is worth listening to. If we believe what he is saying (and I do) we could have saved many a life in those aged care homes in Melbourne when these b/s medical officers were advising against alternative treatments to be given to the old folks who were dying like flies whilst waiting for the elusive jab. Makes my skin crawl with anger. Wake up people, something is very wrong. Please listen to this professional air his views.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The response to the novel coronavirus has been characterised by panic and that remains the case today. The only way to appeal to a panicky crowd is to trade in absolutes. The panacea offered by vaccines is an absolutism solution. That’s the primary reason for the championing of the vaccine solution.



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April 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China opens its borders to billions of dollars of gold imports

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

 

About 150 tonnes of gold worth $8.5 billion at current prices is likely to be shipped following the green light from Beijing, four sources said. Two said the gold would be shipped in April and two said it would arrive over April and May.

The bulk of China's gold imports typically comes from Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank, controls how much gold enters China through a system of quotas given to commercial banks. It usually allows metal in but sometimes restricts flows.

"We had no quotas for a while. Now we are getting them ... the most since 2019," said a source at one of the banks moving gold into China.

The size of the shipments signals China's dramatic return to the global bullion market. Since February 2020, the country has on average imported gold worth about $600 million a month, or roughly 10 tonnes, Chinese customs data show.

And
 
India's demand for bullion has also rebounded from a pandemic-induced slump, with record-breaking imports in March of 160 tonnes of gold, an Indian government source told Reuters this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

India and China are the world’s largest consumers of gold. India’s demand collapsed in 2020 and China has been very quiet both about how much gold it holds and how much is imported. Those have been contributing factors in the decline of gold since the August peak.



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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 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. Infrastructure Plan May Lift These Three Brazilian Stocks

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

Two weeks ago, Biden unveiled a $2.25 trillion plan to overhaul the country’s physical and technological infrastructure. He has said the plan needs to go far beyond bridges and roads and has called for investment in electric vehicles, renewable power and the electric grid.

Shares of Gerdau and Tupy are up 27% and 15% this year, respectively, while the benchmark Ibovespa index is down 0.6% and Weg is little changed.

“Limited geographical diversification puts a cap on Brazilian companies seizing this moment, but we can see some clear winners,” the analysts said. “Although we believe they have not gone unnoticed by the market, recent performance indicates that the impact is likely larger than what is currently priced in.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brazil is currently dealing with the challenge of rising pandemic case numbers and deaths. That’s a near-term challenge for the economic recovery and it might be a few months before the worst is over. 



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April 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 15th 2021

April 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Mystery in 10-Year Treasuries Has Links to Carry Trade Blowup

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

Hedge funds are snapping up 10-year Treasury futures, and no other maturity, presenting a puzzle. The answer may lie in the collapse of a popular carry trade last year.

The highly-leveraged basis trade involved going long cash bonds and selling futures, to profit from the difference between the two, but came asunder in March 2020 when investors stampeded to buy the latter at the peak of coronavirus fears and upended the spread. Now the gap -- the so-called gross basis -- has reversed and favors shorting cash bonds and buying futures.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. In futures markets, the counterparty who is short determines which specific cash bond traders have to deliver, adding another element of risk to the transaction. But with so-called ultra 10-year Treasury futures, there are only two bonds in the delivery pool, limiting that risk compared to other contracts.

That could be one reason why leveraged funds have built up net-long positions of almost 230,000 ultra 10-year futures, despite this year’s Treasury market slump, according to the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As for the original strategy -- there are no signs of it returning anytime soon.

While returns from this year’s trade are much lighter, a play based on 10-year ultra futures is most attractive, according to one trader who asked not to be identified as he isn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Cash Bond Pressure
A sense of how the cheapest-to-deliver 10-year Treasury bond has performed against futures can be seen in the implied repurchase rate for the note. It flipped from positive to negative in the first quarter, indicative of greater selling pressure on cash bonds than futures.

“With the sudden and significant rates selloff in late February, Treasuries came under pressure, underperforming futures quite noticeably,” wrote Morgan Stanley’s Kelcie Gerson in a note this week. “On an outright level, futures/cheapest-to-deliver bases reached the widest levels seen since last March/April.”

Across the rest of the Treasuries curve, hedge funds hold net short positions, though well below last year’s levels after the collapse of the original basis trade.

Market
A gauge of aggregate leveraged fund short futures positions -- which would likely be mirrored by long cash bonds in a basis trade -- has dropped by over $300 billion since last year’s February peak, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Repositioning in the sovereign bond markets gathered pace today with a high degree of commonality across the sector. This above narrative highlights how quickly positions can be unwound when the trend changes and it represents a potent source of short covering activity.



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April 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

JAPAN VALUE An Island of Potential in a Sea of Expensive Assets

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

Successful cost cutting, rising profits and free cash flows, and a corporate culture of risk aversion stemming from the bursting of the Japanese bubble led to an ironic side effect: over-capitalized balance sheets. As Exhibit 4 indicates, over 50% of listed nonfinancial companies are “net cash” today.3 In the U.S., that figure is less than 15%.

Carrying large amounts of cash, especially in a negative interest rate environment like today, is troublesome for shareholders. Equity investors expect companies either to reinvest surplus capital in projects that generate returns above the cost of capital or return it to shareholders so they can reallocate to value-creating investments.

These “lazy” balance sheets have drawn the attention of Japanese regulators and government, two groups that are trying desperately to spark economic growth to help address the pension burden in a country with a declining population and negative yield on government bonds. Furthermore, the Japanese equity market is filled with inefficiencies that offer upside opportunities for patient investors. The number of analysts and investors covering the Japanese market has declined following decades of disappointing returns after the bursting of the 1980s Japanese bubble. Cultural and language differences also have diminished foreign investor interest in Japanese equities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A couple of years ago Mrs. Treacy was looking for a factory to can Akoya pearl oysters in Japan. There are a small number of companies in the prefecture around Kobe that perform the service but we ran into a recurring problem. They did not have available capacity and would not consider taking on additional customers. The feedback we received was universal, they did not want new customers. 



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April 15 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

S. Africa Central Bank Governor Sees Room to Keep Rates Low

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

South Africa’s central bank is likely to maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance to support the economy for as long as it has room to do so, according to Governor Lesetja Kganyago.

“As long as inflation is remaining contained, the central bank would have no reason to remove the accommodation that we are currently providing,” Kganyago said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

The monetary policy committee has cut the benchmark interest rate by three percentage points since the start of 2020, of which 275 basis points of easing was in response to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy. That’s taken the rate to a record-low 3.5%. Last month’s decision was the first time since the 2020 rate cuts in which no member voted for a reduction and expectations have now shifted to when the first hike will come.

While the implied policy rate of the central bank’s quarterly projection model, which the MPC uses as a guide, indicates two rate increases this year of 25 basis points each -- next month and in the fourth quarter -- policy makers see risks to the inflation outlook as balanced and feel that they can continue to offer support to the economy, Kganyago said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

South African government bonds yield 9.08%. Obviously, in a world of ultra-low rates that outlier must exist for a reason. South African growth is expected to be in the order of 3% this year but the big question for investors will be on the trajectory of governance and the speed at which the pandemic can be overcome.



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April 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 14th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: bitcoin pauses following coinbase IPO, Wall Street susceptible to some consolidation, Moderna firms, Russia bounces with oil and geopolitical tensions easing, emerging Europe firm, Euro firm, Bunds weak, Treasuries steady. 



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April 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ECB's Lagarde: Economic Support Needed "Well Into the Recovery"

Here are a couple of soundbites from Christine Lagarde’s statements today.

“We consider that both fiscal and monetary support are needed and will be needed until the pandemic crisis is over” and “will be needed well into the recovery,” ECB President Christine Lagarde says at Reuters event.

Preserving favorable financing conditions is a condition for the economy to recover -- “they go hand in hand”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The question is not whether the ECB will provide assistance but rather how much. The spectre of deflation has been hanging over Europe for most of the last decade and there is a credible argument the region is heading into a Japan-like era of lower consumption and low growth. Avoiding that potential is the primary goal of both the ECB and every Eurozone government.



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April 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Russia Scores New Bond Record as Yields Drop on Summit Hopes

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

Russia sold a record volume of ruble bonds as state banks continued to prop up demand and sanctions jitters faded after U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The Finance Ministry sold 213 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) of fixed-coupon debt due in March 2031 in its second auction of the day, beating a record set two weeks earlier. The yield on Russia’s 10-year bonds fell the most since November as Tuesday’s phone call between the leaders appeared to reduce the possibility of penalties targeting the nation’s local OFZ debt.

“We’re seeing considerable demand once again, with big local players buying about 70% of both offerings today,” said Stanislav Ponomarev, a money manager at Transfingroup JSC in Moscow. “There’s been demand from foreigners since the morning, but it looked more like they were closing short positions rather than increasing their Russia allocations.”

The prospect of fresh sanctions has been mounting for the best part of a month and the recent troop buildup on the border with Ukraine has added to the tensions. State banks have stepped in to backstop the recent auctions as foreigners stay clear.

“The market was extremely negative on Russia,” said Sergei Strigo at Amundi Ltd. “Now there is a pullback on renewed hope of some sort of normalization in relationships, even if it’s short-term. Levels on the ruble and OFZs look much more attractive.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

How serious is the US administration in countering China? That’s the primary question for investors as they assess the potential for a normalisation of relations between the USA and Russia. As a major commodity producer, seller of advanced weapons systems and with significant experience in space, Russia is being courted by China.



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April 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trafigura Sees Green Copper Supercycle Driving Prices to $15,000

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

Trafigura expects the metal to breach $10,000 a ton this year, before entering a range of $12,000 to $15,000 a ton over the coming decade. Other ardent copper bulls including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. have similarly strong near-term forecasts, but Trafigura has set itself apart with its lofty long-term target.

Goldman expects copper to hit $10,500 a ton within 12 months, while Citi sees it reaching $12,000 next year in its bull-case forecast. In the years to come, that’s likely to become the floor for prices as the industry revalues the metal, according to Trafigura.

“You can’t move to a green economic environment and not have the copper price moving significantly higher,” Bintas said. “How can you have one without the other?”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every country wants its economy to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. They are all looking at the same playbook. They need to increase growth without raising taxes and need a quick way to get as many people back to work as possible which will hopefully kick start the velocity of money. Infrastructure development has been the preferred strategy to achieve those goals after every other recession and this one is now different. The only question was what kind of infrastructure would be approved.



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April 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Huarong's Plunging Bonds Point to Major Market Shift

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

The big question now confronting investors is how much pain China’s government is willing to tolerate as it tries to wean the bond market off implicit guarantees. None of the state-owned companies that have defaulted so far -- including Peking University Founder Group Corp., which is ultimately controlled by China’s education ministry -- were considered as systemically important as China Huarong.

Chinese authorities have tried to strike a balance between instilling more market discipline and avoiding a sudden loss of confidence that might spiral into a crisis. But the tumult surrounding China Huarong, some of whose bonds are now trading below 80 cents on the dollar, highlights how quickly investor sentiment can deteriorate even at a time when the economy is strengthening.

“China’s credit market is entering a new era as SOEs are emerging as the main source of stress,” said Shuncheng Zhang, an analyst at Fitch Ratings. Whatever the outcome for China Huarong, policy makers will likely allow more defaults in the state sector to reduce moral hazard and cultivate a more mature debt market, he added.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Huarong was created as a bad bank, where the defunct loans of China’s banks were dumped 20 years ago. The generally accepted business model for these kinds of entities is they end up with hard to value assets and are given the time required to sell them at profitable rates. That’s how Ireland’s bad bank functioned in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis for example. The fact that Huarong is now running into trouble is reflective of the fact that it long ago departed from its bad bank foundation to imitate the business model of the banks it was designed to clean up.



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April 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lumber Frenzy Drives Up Home Prices as Suppliers Can't Keep Up

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

“Each part of the supply chain has different issues,” said Brooks Mendell, chief executive officer of forest-supply researcher Forisk Consulting in Georgia. “There is not a sawmill that I have talked to in two years that has all their slots filled.”

This is a big turnaround from just two years ago. In 2019, weak demand prompted a steady stream of output reductions and mill closures from companies including Canfor Corp. and West Fraser Timber Co., the world’s biggest lumber supplier. That left producers flat footed amid the unexpected demand boom as the pandemic kept people indoors, sparking a wave of do-it-yourself upgrades, full-scale renovations and purchases of bigger homes.

When demand held strong throughout the winter, typically a seasonal lull, mills didn’t have time to replenish their inventories. Now, stockpiles are “extremely lean” as North America heads back into peak building season and lumber prices will stay high “for the foreseeable future,” Devin Stockfish, the CEO of Weyerhaeuser Co., said last month.

Lumber futures have more than tripled since the pandemic started, touching an all-time high of $1,157.50 per 1,000 board feet on Monday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mountain pine beetle infestation has been a growing problem for more than a decade but production cuts, the closing of mills and lack of a skilled workforce are more immediate problems. The only way to encourage more workers into the sector is to offer higher wages. That suggests we have seen a step change in the price of lumber and the breakout will be sustained in just the same way as it was in 1993. 



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April 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Binance Launches Zero-Commission, Tradable Stock Tokens

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

Binance is delighted to announce the official launch of its zero-commission, tradable stock tokens, allowing the users to trade fractional stocks. Stock tokens are denominated, settled, and collateralized in BUSD.

The first Binance Stock Token to be listed is Tesla Inc. (TSLA). Trading for the TSLA/BUSD pair is scheduled to open at 2021-04-12 1:35 PM (UTC). Users will be able to trade fractional Tesla stock on the Binance website.

What are Binance Stock Tokens?

Binance Stock Tokens are zero-commission digital tokens fully backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities that represents the outstanding tokens. Holders of stock tokens qualify for economic returns on the underlying shares, including potential dividends.

Binance will continue to respond to market demand by listing more stock tokens and features. Trading of stock tokens will follow traditional exchange hours and is not available for residents in Mainland China, Turkey, and other restricted jurisdictions. Interested traders will be required to pass Know-Your-Customer and other relevant compliance measures.

For more information on Stock Tokens, please refer to the guide here.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Robinhood made a splash when it began to offer fractional share sales. That allowed a large swathe of new retail traders to participate in the market than ever before. Fractional ownership is now also available for most of the primary retail brokers but the concept is borrowed from the cryptocurrency sector where fractional ownership of bitcoin has been available for years.



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April 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 12th 2021

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

April 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Factory Price Surge Deepens Global Inflation Worries

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

“Our research has found that China’s PPI has a high positive correlation with CPI in the U.S.,” said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “The higher-than-expected PPI data could impact people’s judgment of inflation pressure in the U.S. and globally, and this impact shouldn’t be underestimated.”

And

Surging commodity prices have gained the attention of China’s top policy makers, with the Financial Stability and Development Committee -- chaired by Vice Premier Liu He -- calling this week for efforts to stabilize prices. Authorities should “keep a close eye on commodities prices,” the committee said in a statement Thursday evening.

The inflation data show consumption remains subdued, giving the central bank reason not to tighten monetary policy anytime soon, according to ANZ’s Yeung.

“If inflation pressure starts to manifest in consumer prices, policy could begin to tighten,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s massive stimulus bailed out the world following the Global Financial Crisis. It also contributed to a significant credit expansion, a bubble in shadow banking and risked asset prices turning into the mania. They have spent much of the last decade attempting to unwind the over stimulus which has contributed to rising defaults, stricter lending criteria and more market controls.



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April 09 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fragile Planet 2021

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from HSBC which may be of interest. Here is a section on renewable energy materials availability:

Here we look at the 2019 share of global production and at the share of global reserves for countries around the world. We use data from the United States Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Program, and the World Nuclear Association. While production data are considered relatively accurate, reserves data is imperfect, given lack of exploration is some areas. However, we take a view that if countries have reserves, but have zero production currently, then there are likely to be technical, financial and/or institutional factors to overcome to allow production in the near future. (Note that we were unable to access reserves data for the commodities Indium and Gallium, and only included production numbers). We create a blended metric for production and reserves values for these commodities (weighting them all equally), in order to score and rank countries in this area. South Africa is ranked first here, followed by China and Chile. Australia comes in fourth, making it the highest ranking DM country on this indicator.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Government policy, everywhere, is increasingly skewing towards the assumption that sea level rise, water insecurity, global warming and climate change are inevitable. Renewable energy assets are increasingly also being priced on the assumption that a migration to carbon-free economies is also inevitable.

Trillions of Dollars are being committed to building out carbon-free infrastructure, whether than is solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear or hydrogen. As that buildout gets under way it will require massive fiscal support, regulatory bypasses for permitting and taxation supports in the form of carbon credits. It will also result in a significant near-term boost in demand for all manner of resources from copper to lithium and from coal to oil.



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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

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 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the gold/silver ratio:

I have been a subscriber for a year and just renewed. Enjoying your service. Keep up the good work.

My current dilemma/question is about silver - would you say that the fact that silver recently fell more than gold means we are coming out of phase 2 of the gold/silver bull market. Or can we still expect silver to go up in the medium term? If so, Is there a trigger point one should be looking for?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Silver is a high beta play on gold but the difficulty with that statement is that the condition is most applicable in the middle and late stages of the cycle. That means gold tends to lag gold’s performance by a wide margin at the beginning of the cycle. It then tends to trend higher against gold for the entire bull market.



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April 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on corporate taxes:

Hi Eoin, I am shocked that the US is attempting to get agreement on a global minimum tax. If I replace Yellen's speech with any global industry the same reasons would be justified to fix pricing which is clearly illegal. Why is no one challenging the legality of this or at least criticizing the move based on this premise? Kind regards, TG

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to the Collective. When it comes to agreements between countries there are few limits on what is possible given sufficient will. The barrier to agreement on taxation is probably lower than it is for incentives and supports because governments are broke and hungry for revenue.

Governments are curtailed from rising individual taxes or cutting back on social services because of the threat of social unrest. The rise of populism on both sides of the political spectrum is a direct consequence of the response to the credit crisis. It is the number one unintended consequence of pushing private sector debts onto unsuspecting populations. 



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April 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Scientists Claim To Discover 'Unexpected' New Viruses in Wuhan

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

A team of researchers claims that it found evidence of multiple viruses — including several brand-new coronaviruses — in agricultural genomes from labs in Wuhan and other Chinese cities.

Genetic sequences of crops like rice and cotton released between 2017 and 2020 contained the entire genetic sequences of new viruses that seem to be related to human diseases like MERS and SARS, according to research the team shared in the preprint server ArXiv on Sunday.

The “unexpected discovery,” as the team put it, of the presence of dangerous human diseases in these agricultural research facilities, suggests that safety protocols may not be up to par — and, as the team argues, that viruses may have accidentally been released as a result.

It’s important to note that this is all coming from preprint research that hasn’t been vetted by an academic journal or other experts in the field. While four of the six study authors are affiliated with hospitals and universities in Spain, Canada, and Japan, the first two researchers listed in the paper are independent researchers without affiliations to any research institutes, and a third is affiliated with an LLC named after himself.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the wild west for genetic research. The level of control and care in research is a function of standards of governance.



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April 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 7th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: bitcoin continuers to pullback, Wall Street pauses, large caps outperform small caps when yields falls, China weak, Rupee weak but Indian market steady, Pound pulls back but UK stocks up,, Lumber extends uptrend, 



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April 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

VanEck ViewPoint: The rhyme of history

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

We expect a catalyst to emerge in the second half of the year that could drive gold higher. The most likely catalyst would be excessive inflationary expectations. Inflation expectations have returned to pre-pandemic norms, although a number of developments listed here suggest it could spiral out of control:

• US$1.9 trillion of additional fiscal stimulus is likely to be introduced on top of previous government spending, some of which has yet to be utilised;
• The US Federal Reserve (Fed) continues to buy US$120 billion worth of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities each month;
• Lumber, oil, copper, food staples and other commodities prices have been on the rise, many reaching multi-year highs;
• Shortages of semiconductors, shipping containers and truck drivers have been documented;
• Many people are content to stay out of the workforce, collecting generous government handouts;
• Purchasing power of American families has reached record highs. Further into 2022, once the trillions of stimulus dollars have been spent, other systemic risk catalysts could emerge, such as a weakening economy, debt problems, US dollar weakness and/or black swan events caused by radical fiscal and monetary policies. We believe the long-term bull market remains intact and expect prices to ultimately surpass US$3,000 per ounce. We also note that gold miners remain cheap relative to the price of gold.

It is worth noting that since mid-2020 it appears that Bitcoin has replaced gold as the new gold. But as cryptos have continued to soar, US real rates have now undermined gold value. To remain long Bitcoin would require a belief that real rates are going to retreat.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Mining companies are a hard sell in a world where investors are focused on ESG. As an extractive sector, miners can’t get around the fact that they are polluters. Even with remediation commitments, there is no way to avoid the moniker for polluter.

That also impacts the ability of the sector to source the funding they need for expansion via exploration. Finding somewhere to dig and build is an inherently uncertain prospect but the added obstacle of environmental regulations, protests and carbon costs mean the hurdles to exploration are increasingly high.



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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 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Video commentary for April 6th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Some of the topics discussed include: commodities continue to firm with agriculture playing catch up, stocks pause after strong Monday performance, bond yields continue to compress, gold firm, defensives/quality outperforming. Growth steadying.



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April 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the potential for a crash:

I am a little concerned, that Bill Ackman is shorting the market and Ray Dalio and Michael Burry have predicted a market collapse. Burry recently went on record to confirm this prediction.

You have not mentioned Margin Debt for a while and my further concerns are that despite Margin Debt officially being at an all-time high - the ArchEgos scandal has demonstrated that perhaps not all of the margin debt is recorded as some hedge funds are circumventing the need to record their position by using prime banks to hold assets for them.

RLB

PS Best wishes to you and your family.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and for this email which helps to elucidate the very real concerns of a large swathe of the market. Just over a year ago the market crashed. The decline was unlike anything we’ve seen before because it was unrelenting in its severity. Even during the crash of September/October 2008 there were weeks when the market rallied.

That did not happen in 2020. Between late February and March 24th, the S&P500 failed to rally for two consecutive days. Fear permeated market and it had a long-lasting impact on sentiment. Even today people are afraid of a repeat of this unrelenting selling. However, it would be extremely unusual to see another 35% drawdown a year after the last one.



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April 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Gold Rises to Eight-Session High With Dollar, Yield Gains Ebbing

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

Gold advanced to the highest in more than a week as gains in bond yields and the dollar abated.

Treasury yields edged down from a recent high, increasing the allure of bullion, which doesn’t earn interest. The dollar gave back early gains, making gold more appealing to investors holding other currencies. The ebb is taking place even as positive economic data shows rapid growth for U.S. businesses and jobs.

That’s “good news for gold,” according to Commerzbank AG analyst Carsten Fritsch.

Gold has been under pressure this year because of increasing optimism over the post-pandemic economic recovery in the U.S., which buoyed bond yields and the dollar. Investors fled bullion-backed exchange-traded funds, a major pillar in gold’s ascent to an all-time high last year, with holdings in ETFs dropping to the lowest since May.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is not a coincidence that gold and Treasury bond prices peaked within a day of each other in August. As bond prices have declined, they have taken gold with them. The strong correlation between the two assets has raised all sorts of questions for gold investors. Let’s try and answer some of them by looking at flows.



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April 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biggest Mining Buyback in Years Propels Vale to All-Time High

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

Vale’s buyback, which comes on the heels of a bigger-than-expected dividend, is the latest chapter in its turnaround story. In early 2019, a tailings dam disaster sent Vale into crisis mode, with dividends cut and operations scaled back as the company focused on shoring up safety. Now, after agreeing to a dam-collapse settlement and seeing the prices of its metals rally, Vale is repaying investor loyalty.

While metal prices have come off multi-year highs in recent weeks, they’re still well up on year-ago levels. Vale’s iron ore business generated its second-highest earnings ever and the company is focused on existing assets rather than splashing out on deals as it did in previous booms.

Shares rose as much as 6.6% in Sao Paulo Monday, closing at the highest level since trading began in 1994. The buyback should help narrow Vale’s discount to its Australian peers, according to BTG Pactual analysts led by Leonardo Correa. Vale fetches 4.8 times estimated profit versus top iron producer Rio Tinto Group’s ratio of 7.9.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mining sector is flush with cash. The sector went through a painful rationalization between 2011 and 2016 so they have been cautious about embarking on risky behaviour. That left them well placed to benefit from the recovery in industrial metal prices from the pandemic lows.



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April 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

Video commentary for March 31st 2021

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 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biden Plans $2.25 Trillion Spending, Corporate Tax Hikes

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

A major undercurrent through the infrastructure plan is addressing inequality and expanding help for segments of society that the administration judges have been left out in the past. For example, in addition to fixing the “ten most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction,” there’s $20 billion for a new program that will “reconnect” neighborhoods that were cut off by past investments, such as the I-81 highway in Syracuse, New York. And all lead pipes will be replaced, to address water-quality issues.

Eoin Treacy's view -

$2.25 trillion is still a lot of money and if it passes it will represent a significant additional surge of liquidity through the economy. At a minimum that will help to spur commodity and building materials demand growth over the next decade.



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March 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Morgan Stanley's Shalett Says Market Shows Signs of "Fragility"

This note by Steve Dickson and Jonathan Ferro for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping its “foot on the accelerator” to boost the economy has left the market showing signs of “fragility,” according to Lisa Shalett, Morgan Stanley’s chief investment officer for the wealth unit.

Speaking in a Bloomberg Television interview, Shalett also says:

Fallout from the implosion of Archegos Capital Management doesn’t threaten the financial system. “This, unlike some other issues, is not of an order of magnitude where there’s systemic risk,” Shalett says

Fed policy makers are making a bet that the liquidity being pumped into the financial system is more important for the economy than the “financial accidents or bubbles” that have popped up as a result, she says

“It’s time for investors to retool portfolios,” she says, arguing that the shift should be in favor of active management and shorter duration. Economic growth will be “much stronger” than it’s been, and that’s good for cyclicals and good for the labor market, but creates headwinds for the bond market and for stock multiples, she says

Eoin Treacy's view -

The only real question is what will need to happen for the Federal Reserve and other central banks to arrest the decline in bond prices. Until that happens there will be increasing stress on leveraged trades and companies.



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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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