Complete Intelligence


US economy suffers sharpest contraction in decades

Tony Nash joins the BBC Business Matters to discuss the US economy contraction, Federal government’s cash subsidy, the upcoming US election and Trump’s issue on postal ballots, lithium batteries and electric vehicles, and Eid al-Adha.


This podcast first and originally appeared in BBC Business Matters at


BBC Notes

Official data shows that the world’s biggest economy contracted by 9.5% in three months. That’s worse than at any point since the US government started keeping quarterly records in 1947. We hear from Professor Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University. Black Lives Matter protests have added to a continuing backlash against brands selling skin-whitening creams in South Asia; Nikhil Inamdar reports from Mumbai on an industry under threat. We talk to listener, Elizabeth Pendleton, in Colorado Springs about the unemployment picture in Colorado. The BBC’s Ed Butler reports on the world’s biggest lithium deposit; it’s in Bolivia and is worth billions of dollars to a world scrambling to reduce its reliance on carbon. Plus, we’re joined throughout the programme by Tony Nash, co-founder and Chief Economist at Complete Intelligence in Houston, Texas and from Lahore in Pakistan, Mehmal Safraz, co-founder of The Current PK.


Show Notes


BBC: Talk about Houston for us.


TN: Just on my block, I have 6 houses for sale. If that tells you anything about the oil and gas down turn as a result of COVID, we really are starting to see some action on the real estate side. It is a seasonal thing partly because of summer. But we are the epicenter of epicenter of oil and gas. And the oil and gas went to receptical in May. We’re still seeing the after-shock of that even though we’re back above $40 for WTI and Brent. Something interesting is that I’m speaking recently with somebody from Panama Canal today and they were telling me about the volume in trade and what they’ve seen. They’ve reflected what Samara said and that things kept slowing down until June and then in July, they’ve started to come back. I really thought that April and May was the worst of it, but things kept declining into June, which was really difficult.


BBC: And that shipping, of course, is a crucial indicator, because we can track not just what China is doing, what US is doing. We can follow everybody’s trade globally by watching those boats.


TN: That’s right. And this is not a market failure. This was governments pulling the plug on economies and we say that personal consumption fell by 25% in the first quarter. But it’s no surprise because nobody can get out of their house because restaurants were closed, etc. On one hand these are shocking numbers, but on the other hand they are not shocking numbers when states and local governments pull hte plug on economies and people cannot get out, then this really isn’t a surprise. To be honest, I’m surprised that more data isn’t as bad or worse than the US because there were harsher lockdowns in a lot of other countries. I don’t understand it on some level.


BBC: In Houston, are we rising predictably to debate as the president proposes another idea by tweet?


TN: It’s more about his objection to postal ballots than it is about election day because there is a recent study done by CBS News in the US looking at potential fraud around election ballots and they found that something like 3% of them didn’t even arrive to the person and then fraudelent ballots that looked like what they’ve sent out, could have been sent similarly. I think what Trump is doing is trying to get the discussion going about fraud around postal ballots more than moving the election.


BBC: Has it always been a relatively tiny minority voting by post apart from those early voting?


TN: Well he said, and he said this several times. He doesn’t have an issue with what’s called absentee balloting, which is a slightly different process. But with mass postal balloting, there are several states like Oregon that do mass postal balloting. But fraud in US elections has become a very big concern. In the last election, ballots were found in the back of people’s cars. There was a rental car that was returned with ballots in it. Fraud in US elections has become a very big concern and I think Trump is voicing that concern a lot of people.


BBC: In Texas, dig into the nitty gritty of the state level.


TN: What ends tomorrow in the US is Americans are getting $600 a week additional from the Federal government on top of the state funds, unemployment funds, that they get, which are lower, like $350 a week. The $600 a week is extraordinary. I know people who don’t even make that much money when they are working fulltime, who are getting $600 a week. But at the local level, the problem is, you have the state and local governments who are closing things down. But it’s actually the Feds who have had to pay more money and it’s a lot of money to help make up for the economic decisions that were made at the state and local level. This is really where, through the whole COVID thing, and I said this many, many times to people, the state and local governments don’t have the resources to pay back for the decisions taht they’ve made. The decisions are made at the lower level. But it’s really only the Fed who has the money to provide this level of income to allow the economy to keep moving forward.


TN: Obviously, the environment is a big concern. But I think the payoff is also a big concern. It really all depends on how quickly the battery industry grows. If the payback isn’t there, it’s like looking at the Tarzans in Canada. Relatively expensive way to pull up oil, but oil now is too cheap for the Tarzans to function. If they pull it out in a very expensive way, the question really is not just environmental sustainability but economic sustainability as well.


BBC: I take your point on the environment, but compared to some of the alternatives. What I thought I knew in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo had the lithium mines, which is the other resource to be tapped, leading to headlines a couple of years ago in Financial Times, “Congo child labor in you electric car”, makes up that whole sector really problematic.


TN: Absolutely. Look, if it’s a better way, it’s great. I mean, the problem then is the supply chains and figuring out how to get it to market, which those are never easy. But if it’s a better way, more humane, then great.


BBC: Were you surprised by the little footnote in the report that it’s China that has the downstream value chain sewn up.


TN: No, not at all. China has a very high profile electric car program. And really a lot of subsidies for electric vehicles. So that actually doesn’t surprise me at all. It is the largest market.


BBC: And this is why the developments happen, right? Because I read recently, I probably get the numbers slightly wrong, but it said there’s a new battery coming that can run something like a million miles over 16 years instead of a couple of hundred thousand miles in 5 years.


TN: Yeah. But people will get bored by their car by then. People want to sell their car after a couple hundred thousand miles. If it can change hands multiple times, great.


BBC: This is something not widely celebrated in the US, but certainly a lot of Muslims in the US will bring this extremely to heart today.


TN: Absolutely. And Houston is the most diverse city in the US, so we’ve got a very large Moslem population in Houston. I have friends in Austin who are celebrating, so it’s definitely all around here.

QuickHit Visual (Videos)

QuickHit: Europe is undergoing a ‘partial’ regionalization

In this QuickHit episode, we’re joined by Velina Tchakarova, the Head of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, to talk about the Europe reconfigurations and regionalizations on global supply chains, manufacturing, digitalization, and other industries.


The Austrian Institute for European Security Policy is a think tank, which works very closely with Austrian and European institutions. They provide a macro perspective for geo economic to strategic, geopolitical perspective on current and future developments in the fields of security and defense.


***This video was recorded on July 27, 2020 CDT.


The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


Show Notes


TN: But it seems to me that you’re also seeing, observing ,and commenting a lot on things that are happening in China. And we’ve started to see a lot of structural change in western diplomatic and political and economic relationships with China as well as supply chains. What we’re seeing here in the States is a bit of a decoupling of supply chains from China and North America. So a little bit of re-shoring and I’ve been curious for a long time, is that same thing happening in Europe now? And what do you expect that to look like if that’s the case?


VT: I don’t have a ready answer but I can provide you with two main narratives that are right now relevant for the situation here in Europe.


On the one side, there are many, many statements coming from the highest ranking-level. One of them was the French President Macron or take the European Union Commissioner for Industry and they were namely sharing this view that globalization had went too far. Now, Europe has to take care of its own. They call it “strategic autonomy.” That means that in fields that are of strategic importance, specifically geo-economic fields, strategic sectors, strategic industries, that some of them have to go back to Europe. On the side of the so-called geopolitical commission, there is this clear statement that we want to introduce a green transition, a carbon-free economy by 2030, 2040. That means that dependencies on raw materials, on metals, and stuff like that is going to be cut and this is still in place because China has a huge market share.


Now on the other side, there is also the narrative coming from highest ranking politicians and representatives that the “strategic autonomy,” in terms of global supply chains is not possible. And that this kind of COVID 19 responses were crisis-related. Some part of the re-shoring was due to crisis response, to crisis management and once things start working again post COVID 19, we are going to go back to business.


We know that certain European member states have very strong economic interests in expanding relations with China and right now. I can name one of these countries that’s Germany. The German presidency of the European Council has began and there is no secret that the topic China was on the top of the agenda for the next six months. Now with the shift in terms of certain perceptions when it comes to dependencies on China, things are going to move slower. We’ll be slower. That means investment deals, negotiations that were planned are not going on according to the pre-COVID 19 plans.


Investment deals between Europe and China is a very important point. Investment screenings, buying up of companies in Europe that have declared defaults, all of these things are going to be on the agenda for the next six months. There is a debate on reconfigurations of global supply chains going back to Europe. But on the other side, there is an expectation to go back to business because the economies have been struck and have been hit very hard by COVID 19. And so we are right now somewhere in between.


TN: Five or eight years ago, there were a number of infrastructure pieces that were sold to Chinese SOEs — in the Puerto Peres, in Greece and the Portuguese electric utility. We had a number of things that were actually sold to Chinese SOEs that’s been slowed down quite a bit. In terms of supply chains, I was involved in that first generation of Eastern Europe build out of manufacturing in the mid to late 90s. And when China joined the WTO, we saw a lot of that manufacturing and the fixed asset investment associated with it moved to China in the first half of the 2000s and then accelerate.


Do you expect a scenario where we see reinvestment in Central and Eastern Europe for regional manufacturing? Do we expect a rebirth of that manufacturing or is that something that’s bygone era? We’re going to continue to see centralization of manufacturing in China or other parts of Asia and Central and Eastern Europe is kind of passe? It’s kind of very 20 years ago?


VT: We have to tell first and foremost the facts. And the facts are that two-thirds of the trade that takes place within the European Union is actually an inter-state trade. It’s taking place between the member states. So in that context, there will be no necessity for reconfigurations at all.


But what I am expecting to happen is that due to this decoupling between United States and China, and also due to the increasing awareness in the European capitals in terms of dependencies on China, there will be a reconfiguration to some extent.


So partial reconfiguration, which will be initiated, will be supported by the European institutions. The very fact that we have a European Commissioner now for industry points to the increasing realization of how important this. In that matter, there will be certainly a partial reconfiguration coming back to Europe. Not just manufacturing. We are talking also about digitalization, that it has to take place. We are still actually in the middle of the process of a fourth industrial revolution.


Six months ago, there was almost no discussion on 5G Huawei being initiated and supported by Huawei, by a Chinese company. Now with COVID 19, there are already strong signals and decisions in United Kingdom, in France. There will be some similar reaction in Germany that a 5G being introduced by Huawei will not be in the interest of European sectors. So this digital transition will certainly be also part of this reconfiguration of global supply chains. Partially, like I said. We should not expect too much. But there will be certain, certain expectations are already in place that this is going to happen.


TN: We’ve talked about from Complete Intelligence for the past couple years how our hypothesis has been that Europe would be the biggest loser of a US-China trade war. The reason we expect that is once China cannot export its deflation to the U.S., it will have to export that capacity to Europe because Japan has already, after the 2012 protest of Japanese factories, Japan’s already ramped down its imports from China. As the U.S. is gradually decoupling, it just seems that it’s likely that more deflationary goods will go to Europe and potentially hollow out European manufacturing even more. Is that something Europeans are thinking about? Or is that something that just seems a little too far out there?


VT: Right now, I have the feeling that our stakeholders and political decision makers are preoccupied with coping with the post COVID 19 social, economic repercussions. It’s all about how to revive the economies. So there is no serious debate right now on that matter.


But I think this is a very important issue that you’ve addressed. From a current perspective, I don’t see how Europe has a strong position, a strong card on that matter. On one side, there is the systemic decoupling taking place. On the other side, there is a trade surplus between the European Union and United States. And we all know that the U.S. President Trump is not in favor of institutions such as European Union. I am expecting pressure that he will probably impose on the European Union in order to provide a strong narrative prior to the US election.


The geo-economic relations between the United States and the European Union, that means the European member states are going to deteriorate. That’s my expectation. In terms of re-election, this is going to be further the case. Political decision makers in Europe would have to find other geo-economic allies. They will probably look for solidifying business interests. This narrative of going back to business with China is quite strong right now in European capitals without thinking of the long-term implications. I’m not saying that I personally agree with it. But I’m just outlining the reality the way it is.


You mentioned Japan. There are also other strong regional partners and regional players. Here, the European Union has on one side a regional card to play with the European Commission how to trade deals. This is something that they are going to push for. But on the other side, when it comes to the member states where the political narrative is being pushed and decided on in the capitals. Right now, it’s all about the French, German access because of the exit of the UK from the European Union.


I expect that there will be further push for solidifying business relations with China in order to have a sort of an exit plan in case that relations with the United States deteriorate. In the European capitals, everyone is hoping for Joe Biden to win the election in November because if that is not going to be the case, the expectation is that the relations specifically geoeconomics, they are going to deteriorate.


TN: A lot to think about. Velina, thank you so much for your time. I do hope we can reconnect in a few months just to see how this stuff kind of bears out over the next few months, and again thank you so much for your time this has been really, really helpful for us.


VT: Thank you for having me and stay safe and sound.

Visual (Videos)

Oracle Startup Idol – Complete Intelligence Winning Pitch



This is the recording of the Oracle Startup Idol, which is originally published at Complete Intelligence won the Best Overall Pitch during the event. Thank you to every startup that participated in this fun event!


Pitch Transcript

Complete Intelligence is a cloud containerized platform for forecasting costs and revenues for better decisions. The real problem that we’re helping people with is the overwhelming amount of data they have. There are two key issues that we’re solving. One is forecast accuracy. Error is a real issue with forecasting of costs and revenues. The other is context. It’s very difficult for people to get the right context for their forecast. Can they forecast that specific component for that specific product line that they need? And can they do it in an accurate way?


We’ve spent 2 and a half years focusing on costs. And what you see here is CI forecasts compared to consensus forecasts for all of 2019. This is looking at energy forecasts. You can see that the consensus errors in the far right are double-digit error rates. CI’s errors are in the far right, and we beat consensus forecast 88% of the time. In many cases, we’re significantly better than consensus forecasts.


Once we solve the forecasting problem, the other is the context problem. We have a product called CostFlow and RevenueFlow, where we take in data from ERP systems and e-procurement systems and process on our platform for high-context, highly accurate forecasts. What you’re seeing is the bill of material for electronic control valved. We have a hierarchical visualization from the business unit, down to the product category, down to the element/component level, where a CFO, etc. can manage the pipeline for procurement. This solves CFO pain points.


The results that we see, this is a client of ours who has a 2 billion dollars in revenue, helping them save 32 million dollars on their cost line, which ultimately adds up to 22 million dollars of free cash flow and 441 million to their valuation.


This may seem like very specific forecasting problem, but ultimately it leads to a better valuation for these manufacturing firms.

Visual (Videos)

Dollar Doldrums Before the Surge

This is an original publication by Real Vision and was posted on Youtube at


This week Real Vision use Refinitiv’s best-in-class data to discuss the outlook for the US dollar and commodities with Tony Nash, CEO and Founder of Complete Intelligence, a forecasting company across currencies, commodities and equity indexes. Whilst many investors are expecting fireworks, Tony expects asset prices to remain subdued for now, before exploding back into life after the US election.


See the full series and access expert data-driven insights and news from Refinitiv:


Show Notes


RV: Many of us make sweeping statements about the direction that markets will take, but accurate forecasting across a wide range of assets is a rare entity and has been made particularly difficult today by the distortions of central bank activity. That’s a financial forecasting challenge. Forecasting company Complete Intelligence has joined forces with Refinitiv to provide companies and investors with an outlook on assets such as currencies and commodities. In this week’s Big Conversation, I talk to founder and CEO Tony Nash about the prospects for the US dollar, commodities and also trade relations between the US and China.

Tony, great to see you.


TN: Thank you.


RV: Thanks very much for coming on The Big Conversation. And today we got to talk about a lot of things. We’re gonna talk about the dollar, currencies in general and a bit of commodities. But before we get into that, for those who do know you, could you give me a little bit about your background, what you’ve been doing and what you’re currently doing?


TN: I’ve been in research for couple of decades, actually, and in the past I led global research for a UK based firm called The Economist, I led Asia Consulting for a firm called IHS Market, and I jumped out to start Complete Intelligence about four or five years ago. Initially we were based in Singapore and now we’re based in Houston, Texas.


So Complete Intelligence is an artificial intelligence platform or a globally integrated AI platform. We help companies make better cost purchasing and revenue decisions. As a part of that, of course we work with raw materials, currencies, futures, commodities and even equity indices. All of this works in a layered environment so that we understand the interdependencies of supply chains and revenues and sales.


We go live on Refinitiv this month in July, and Refinitiv is a very positive partner for us. They’re great to work with. Our forecasts will be distributed on the Refinitv platform for purchase by Refinitiv clients.


RV: A lot of these forecasts are completely wrong, but your forecasts have been relatively accurate. They are pretty accurate, which is why I wanted this discussion. Your views on these commodities and currencies will be quite interesting. So how do you do that? What is it? What are the main inputs into your product?


TN: We started Complete Intelligence because my clients in my previous firms told me they can’t get good forecasting, whether it’s internal to their own firms or external from off the shelf information services firms. It’s definitely a financial forecasting challenge. What we found is generally external forecasters, whether they’re economists or banks or industry experts, typically have double-digit error rates on an absolute percentage error basis. Our average error rate is about 4.6 percent on a MAPE basis. We do much better generally than either internal forecasters or say industry experts, consensus forecasts.


What we do is we use what’s called an ensemble approach. We have a number of core methodologies that we use that build and learn scenarios for every iteration of our forecasts that we do. We do our forecast twice a month on the first of the month and mid-month. So we’re looking at thousands of methodological configurations for every line item that we forecast. So for example the dollar, we’ll look at between five and ten thousand configurations of methodologies to forecast the dollar. So that’s millions of calculations just for the dollar. And we do that for every line item foot.


Off the shelf, we have about 800 different assets that we forecast across currencies, commodities, equities. We also do economics and trade. So together it’s about 1.3 million line items that we forecast every month.


Obviously there are charts, so you can see the directional change in the lines. But we disclose the top relationships, six months ago, three months ago and this month. So you can see how those things change over time as well. That’s really a key part of understanding the market changing. If you see those relationships changing dramatically, then that’s a real indication. So if we look at last December, we saw things change dramatically and we saw that sometime ahead of that forecast. So we expected that dramatic change. When we expect, say, a mild change in October or a dramatic change in Jan/Feb, those relationships really do start to iterate because the market starts to restructure with every change.


RV: Tony you mentioned the dollar, ultimately. I always think of it as the apex predator of the financial market. You get the dollar right, you’re probably going to get a vast amount of the rest of your portfolio correct. Recently, the dollar had a lot of volatility very early on, but it’s actually been in a fairly kind of narrow range for a long period of time. At the moment, it’s testing the bottom of that range.


Let’s talk about the maybe the dollar index, the DXY, which is 57% Euro. Let’s talk about that first. Where do you see that going over the rest of the year and what do you see as the big drivers and the reasons for your view on the dollar?


TN: We see the dollar weakness continuing until about September. After September, we see a bit of strength coming back. And then in Q1, we start to see more dollar strength coming back.  So obviously, monetary policy, economic questions, these sorts of things in the US are behind that, but also economic questions around other parts of the world. The dollar is doesn’t operate in a vacuum. So there are a number of inputs there, and we’re really worried about a lot. Big monetary policies in the US have been made and they’re working themselves out. But we’re worried about other parts of the world, specifically Europe and China. But we do see the dollar continue to weaken until about September, late August and September, after which we see a slight return to strength. And then once we hit Q1 of 2021, we start to see that as well.


RV: What are those key drivers? Because in some ways, people have been, I wouldn’t say caught offside, but actually the dollar has been weakening as the Fed’s been tightening its balance sheet. So as it’s been reducing a little bit of liquidity and the other central banks is still going for it. Which of the drivers is it? Is it liquidity driving? It is perception? Is it interest rate differentials? Is it real, real yields and real difference? What are the key drivers that mean that you think it’s going lower?


TN: I don’t know that there’s necessarily trust in the fact that the Fed is actually reducing its balance sheet. Is that temporary? I think there’s a belief that the Fed will do anything to keep markets up.


We all see this cynicism in the market every day, and so I’m not sure that there is a lot of trust right now of the Fed’s true intentions. We’re in a position where both the Fed and the Treasury will do anything to grow the U.S. economy through COVID. And once we get through COVID, different rules apply. But for now, they’ll do anything to get us through. That’s until we see some proof points about a policy that isn’t just kind of throw everything at it. We’ll start to see that in October. But for now, we’re still in that very skeptical position where the U.S. institutions, finance and monetary, isn’t really questioned at the moment because we’re in the middle of this unprecedented period.


RV: When people are looking at currencies, people say, OK, I can see all these negatives for the US, but then you think, “well hang on a minute, Europe has a lot of negatives.” When we talk about the dollar, what are the alternatives? So with the Euro, do you see therefore that because a big part of the dollar index is the euro, do you see the Euro going sort of 1-17 from where it is today, or do you see the Euro being challanged as well, and over what timeframe or not perhaps?


TN: The euro is challenged once they get through these meetings now. The issues with the Euro are many and I think we’ll see probably four to five months of difficulties for the Euro. After which, let’s say, the end of Q1 2021, I think we’ll start to see more strength in the Euro. But we just don’t see the justification for Euro strength right now, even on a relative basis with the dollar. We find it really challenging to see a bull case for the Euro until early next year.


So what are the alternatives? Things like Aussie dollar or things like Japanese yen, those are also alternatives, but again, it’s the ugly sisters right there. It’s difficult to pin down a winner.


RV: So when you’re talking about that dollar weakness, what are you really thinking here? Is It’s probably dollar weakness that’s commensurate with volatility in currencies remaining relatively subdued. It sounds like the alternative to, if you’ve got dollar weakness through to September, maybe beyond, but you haven’t really got Euro strength and maybe the strength comes in Yen and Aussie dollar. But overall, we really talking about grinding currencies and low volatility currencies, is that you think is the next few weeks, months?


TN: That’s right. And I don’t know that anybody is really confident to say currency A is the currency I’m going to place the next three months of my bets on. It’s all speculative, vol related trades, or at least that’s what we see. And until we start to get some good direction, typically when we see good direction, we see dollar strength. We don’t really see good direction coming back to markets until maybe December or Q1 of 2021.


RV: And do you think in terms of people who are looking for signs of things, that change is there a sequencing that you were looking for, for instance? Well, what I think we really saw last year was those very challenged emerging market currencies, in places like Turkey obviously Argentina, they tended to move first. Then you saw things like the Aussie dollar moving, sort of commodity based, slightly EM style, and then eventually that was shifted through. Do you think that’s still going to be the way to look at this? That if we want to, an early warning that currencies are on the move, do you think it’s going to be in the challenged currencies again first like maybe Brazil moving slowly through? Or do you see a different sequencing now with slightly different paradigm post-COVID?


TN: I think until the end of COVID, I think we’re looking at the same patterns. And again, I think part of that is COVID, part of that is the US election, part of that is what’s really going on with Chinese data. There are a number of different considerations, macro considerations that until we have a good idea of what the data actually mean. And let’s say what you know, what is the future of U.S. politics? I don’t think we’re really going to settle. And if you don’t know the future of U.S. economic policies, you really don’t know the future of Chinese economic policies. And so you have the two biggest economies in the world that have a big question mark around them for the next four or five months.


RV: When it comes to commodities, as I think commodities has been the first item on the Refinitiv platform, currencies coming at the end of this month. So as a sort of segway between one and the other, the Aussie dollar is often considered to be a very important part of the multi complex, even though it’s not a commodity itself. Is that one of the ones you think will have a bit of strength VS the Dollar over the shorter term as in the next couple of months? How do you feel the Aussie dollar is going to play out and what are the key players behind that?


TN: We do see strength in the Aussie dollar. I mean Aussie dollar had this amazing trip over the past five months right? We do see strength coming in, say, through the next two to three months in the Aussie dollar. Then we see it returning to the normal levels, kind of around 70 cents. So part of that is COVID related, part of that is obviously China related, as Australia and China re-figure out what their relationship is, their trading relationship and their diplomatic relationship.


There is a bit of risk because obviously, Australia exports a lot of commodities to China. And if that relationship isn’t there, then the underlying driver of their economy is in question. And so we do have some questions about the Aussie dollar and the sustainability of some of those exports for some short to medium term. But some of that quite frankly, is just diplomatic positioning more than reality. There’s a bit of volatility until we figure out exactly what that looks like, but we don’t expect a return to say, of the Fed March position and the volatility we saw there.


RV: When you look at the Aussie dollar, are you looking at real economy assets like copper and like oil? Because obviously these have had, we’ve seen oil, WTI’s closed its gap from the trade war, the oil war earlier in the year, copper is now back at a big, i think it’s the 10 year resistance level. How do you see these real economy assets performing over the next two, three months because it feels like we’re recovering, but we’re recovering from such a low place that it looks v shaped, but we’re not recovering, we’re not going to return to where we were. Doesn’t that put pressure on some of these currencies like the Aussie dollar, which rely on the real economy to get back to where it was? I think we’re back to where we were beginning of year with the Aussie dollar, but should not really be capping it?


TN: Yeah, it’s been kind of a foreshock of recovery. It’s not really an aftershock. It’s never really recovered yet, but we’ve started we’ve seen markets recover. So we do see, say the Brent and WTI really having strength over the next, say, to three to four months. After that I think there’s some questions around the sustainability of that. Short of a supply, more controls on supply I think we hit some levels where we’re we’re not quite sure where things will go and we may see those kind of pare some of their gains that we’ve seen since, say, the lows in April. Going into early twenty one, we may very well see some downside, not serious downside, but gradual downside to crude oil. We do believe that WTI has more legs than Brent going into Q4, but not much.


When we look at things like copper, which is very, very important to the Australian economy, that’s really looking strong until, say, December, Jan, after which again, twenty one, I think people really take stock of where markets have gone and start to question whether the value is really there, whether, say, manufacturing and transportation have caught up with the prices that we’ve hit. And if we don’t see things like consumer goods and consumer electronics hit their previous pace, if we don’t see airlines starting to hit they’re approaching their previous pace, going back online, I think we’re going to start to see some questions around that value. And that’s kind of our base case right now, is we’re not necessarily expecting those things to start to approach their previous levels, and what we’ve faced from the beginning of this is a demand problem. The demand problem that came as a result of government’s pulling the plug on their economies.


So when will that demand return? Is the big question. We do see it coming back, but not necessarily at the pace that markets have expected for the past couple of months. But that won’t necessarily hit investors for another three to four months, actually.


RV: How much of that is dependent on the furlough support scheme we see in place? The US went first, it went hard, it went in size, and it took Europe’s only just caught up about a month ago. Japan’s never really stopped, and China’s may been more reticent, but let’s say we get into a scenario where we see the furlough schemes running off at the end of this month in the US, and what if the U.S. decides not to come back too aggressively? But other markets where the current countries do or other regions do? Is that is that going to change the view materially or is this kind of a global context and kind of everyone lives and falls together as it where?


TN: Well, I think everyone lives and falls together. Look, it’s an election year in the U.S. of course, they’re gonna put out more money. I mean, it’s you can’t I don’t think you can in an election year say, oh, we’re going to be fiscally responsible no. There’s just no election works that way at all. So the U.S. will definitely come out with more support. And because the US is doing it, every other Treasury and finance ministry and central bank will say, well, the U.S. is doing it, so we’re gonna do it. So exactly what you say kind of they’ll all rise or fall together. Once the US election is over, that tail will kind of taper off and then we’ll see things really starting to fall to Earth again. We’re not saying anything dramatic, but we’ll start to see some of the steam come off post-election in the US.


RV: We’ve been focusing on the currencies and a little bit on the commodities, but in some ways what people worry about is that we’ve gone from this liquidity issue at the beginning of the second quarter of the year to potentially a solvency issue. So a real, real economy growth issue. And do you think that that is going to come to fruition? Because those that will have a very, very key impact on bond yields, and if you look at these major bonds particularly in the U.S., they’ve been struggling, I mean, that would merely making new all time lows in the U.S. fight it? Where do you see bond yields going? Because in some ways, the bond yield is the one that will tell us the true growth, the equity market told us, how much liquidity, where do you see bond yields going?


TN: I don’t think there’s any choice but for bonds to continue to fall until we see more solvency to the economy, that’s really it. And we’ve seen so many SME’s go out of business, we’ve seen a complete section of the U.S. economy just give up. And we are now on to kind of the medium term players who are keeping it together but maybe can’t in for three to four to five to six months if they don’t have more support from the central government in the US. Until we see the baton passed from government support to market support, which again, probably won’t happen until sometime in twenty one, you know, we’re going to have this question around solvency. Once the market takes over again, then I think we’ll be in a very good place, we’ll have cleared out a lot of fairly weak companies, we’ll see consolidation in sectors that weren’t really healthy, and then as we go into twenty one and the market takes over again, I think the path has really cleared for companies to do extraordinarily well.


RV: Something that you talked about in depth last year, generally, you sort of you talked about was the the impact or the underestimation of the impact of the trade war and relationships like that. How important do you think that will be? Because obviously the politics today is kind of quite visceral in this, you know, in the last couple of months. Do you think that that is more bark than bite or do you think that we’re going to go back to the worst of what we saw with the trade wars, which was almost also reflecting the difficult position that the Chinese economy was in prior to all this if we went back a year, 12 to 18 months?


TN: One view that I’m kind of moving toward is that potentially a trade war is actually over. So with COVID, at least North American companies have taken an assessment of their supply chains and said, hold on a minute, we have a highly centralized supply chain sitting in China and other parts of Asia. COVID’s come along and we haven’t really been able to get access to our goods.


We need to diversify our supply chain. Now, before the financial crisis in 2008, there was a strategy that manufacturing companies were pursuing called the China plus one, China plus two, China plus three strategy, where they would have part of their supply chain in China and part elsewhere in Asia. I think what we’re at now because after the financial crisis, people just double and tripled down on their China-centric supply chains because it was convenient and in their in their eyes at the time, less risky.


I think we’re in a position now where especially North American companies have said it’s very risky for us to have our North American and our European manufacturing based in China. We need to disaggregate, we need to have regional supply chains. We look at, for example, the amount of electronics supply chain that’s moving to Mexico, when we look at companies like TSMC, Taiwan Semiconductor, moving to the US, these are major generational movements of supply chains. That to me is a signal that the trade war is almost over, meaning both sides have said enough, we’re not going to do this.


That’s a very bad signal for China, and you could potentially be looking at kind of a Russia post-World War Two scenario where all the foreign investors who went into Russia in the nineteen thirties from the UK and the US and other guys, they gave up with World War Two and really never went back. And so China could potentially be looking at that type of scenario.


The big question mark is around kind of Angela Merkel and a bunch of European investors in China, what will they or leaders in China, what will their investors do? Will they regionalize in Europe, which is what was happening in the 90s? Or will they continue to double and triple down on China? If they do, the problem that Europe has is that China has to export even more deflation than they were exporting two or three years ago because they have the additional capacity that is not going to the US now. That is a serious risk for the hollowing out of European industry and European unemployment.


RV: By the sounds of it, the next few months therefore, across pretty much every asset should be relatively low volatility, so maybe still working out all the support that’s come into the system as it still moves its way through the global framework. But it sounds like at the end of this year, particular into Q1 of next year there could be some inflection points. How do people use your product to spot those inflection points? Because its those inflection points where people are going to really win or lose?


TN: The inflection points are really where the risk comes in. So in our partnership with Refinitiv, you know, people can use our product to understand, as you say, when are those inflection points, what’s the degree of those inflection points? With all of our outlooks, we have high base, low scenarios. And so, those clients can understand where we see things going and the range where we see those things going. Whether it’s a currency, commodity and equity market. And so, as you say, we see a larger inflection coming kind of mid Q1, but in the in the near term, we see kind of a small calibration coming in September, October.


RV: Whilst most people want to hear about fireworks, where prices are either going to break down or break out, the reality is that for most of the time, they tend to grind through ranges. For corporate planners and investors, accurate forecasts help to prepare for the unexpected without getting bogged down by sensationalism.


Complete Intelligence currently forecasts the commodity and currency volatility will remain suppressed, with the dollar drifting lower, helping push oil and copper prices higher. The first market wobble should appear in September and October, but the big inflection point is expected after the US election. Markets in the first quarter of 2021 are forecast to be challenged by a stronger U.S. dollar as the real economy impact of the COVID crisis emerges from beneath the flood of government support.


About Refinitiv: For new insights on artificial intelligence (AI), digitalization, big data, risk management, compliance, fighting financial crime and the future of trading and investing, visit our insights hub – Refinitiv is one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, serving over 40,000 institutions in approximately 190 countries. It provides leading data and insights, trading platforms, and open data and technology platforms that connect a thriving global financial markets community – driving performance in trading, investment, wealth management, regulatory compliance, market data management, enterprise risk and fighting financial crime.


About Real Vision™: Real Vision™ is the destination for the world’s most successful investors to share their thoughts about what’s happening in today’s markets. (Think of it like TED Talks for Finance.). Understand the complex world of finance, business and the global economy with real in-depth analysis from real experts.


Gold & Silver, Nature’s Bitcoin

Tony Nash joins BFM Malaysia for another look at the global markets, particularly discussing the “nature’s bitcoin,” which are gold and silver, the US Dollar outlook, if Tesla is a good buy right now, Microsoft, and others.


Listen to this podcast at


BFM Description


Tesla and Microsoft results were released last night but which company actually met expectations upon a closer look?


Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence helps us dissect the numbers while weighing in on the sharp rise on gold and silver’s which is defying the historical correlation between asset classes.


Produced by: Mike Gong
Presented by: Khoo Hsu Chuang, Wong Shou Ning


Show Notes


BFM: For more thoughts on what’s going on with markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Now, markets had a choppy day last night, but still closing in the green on optimism of this spending bill and, of course, the vaccine. Now, are investors choosing to ignore the realities of what is clearly a weak, broader economy at their peril?


TN: Well, no. I think generally they’re trying to figure out how fast things will come back and when we look at some of the earnings, like Microsoft, they’re really, really good. And when we look at some things, like the rate at which people are coming back, say on the roads and other things, it’s looking positive. So have things got a little bit ahead of themselves? It’s possible, but I don’t necessarily think people are kind of ignoring the issues around COVID and other items.


BFM: Just to stay on that point a little bit, Tony. How much money do you think really will be put into the system as a result of this new spending bill? More importantly, Trump talked up, and I think allocated about two billion dollars to Pfizer for the COVID vaccine. Those two elements there, what kind of numbers in quantums can you throw into the mix here, Tony?


TN: I think you’re you’re looking at least at trillions. I don’t think it’ll be as large as the initial spending. I think it’ll be a bit of a tapering of the initial spending. But with the magnitude of spending to join with Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers, they just want to be able to put a cap on this and say, “okay, as of a certain date, right now, it’s expected to be December. We’ll have a vaccine that‘ll put a limit on the risk and we can kind of set all of this stuff aside.”


BFM: And Tony, talking about the two bit results that came out last night. So there was Microsoft, which kind of mistreat, but Tesla, which beat. Are you a believer on Buford? Or do you actually have a preference?


TN: Tesla announced they’re building a factory in Texas, which is where I sit. So I’m very excited about it. But on a serious note, Tesla’s positive EPS report happened largely because they sold 428 million dollars of regulatory credits. So they’re not positive because of car sales. They’re positive because of selling regulatory credits. Investors have to look at that reality. Now, the other consideration for Tesla is it’s their fourth consecutive gap profit. So they’re now eligible for S&P 500 including. That may be a factor to pull some demand along for the stock if they are, in fact, put into the S&P 500.


BFM: For the benefit of the Tesla day traders. I think that’s nearly half a million of them on Robinhood. Tesla is now worth nearly 300 billion dollars, more than the entire European and American car sectors. Did you think this is a collapse waiting to happen, or do you think this going to be more upside?


TN: Do you know what? It’s yes. The problem with that kind of statement is it’s like there’s not even close to trading on fundamentals at Tesla. So the real question is, how excited will people get and when will that taper off? The real problem is wondering how long that excitement will be there because it’s fully sentiment. I mean, anybody who thinks Tesla trades on fundamentals. It’s really what are the expectations for next quarter’s earnings? That’s what Tesla’s trading on now.


Plus, a lot of excitement and a lot of Robin hood fiz. It really is sentiment based. When we see that sentiment subside, I think that’s when, I don’t think we can continue north of a three, four, 500 billion dollar valuation for a company like Tesla. As cool as it is, I think it’s very hard to continue with it.


BFM: And Tony, talking about things that have gone up, it’s gold and silver. Both precious metals have seen sharp rises in price levels. So what’s the reason behind the focus on these commodities? And the question, again, is this sustainable?


TN: Is it sustainable? Gold and silver are kind of nature’s cryptocurrency, right? They really are where sentiment goes if people are skeptical about the dollar or skeptical about risk. We saw the VIX down like two percent today. So we saw gold and silver kind of about even by end of the day. When risk is going down, gold and silver typically aren’t doing great. The dollar will stay weak for the next couple of months. But we do see bit of a dollar strength coming back later in the year. Those aren’t perfectly inverse relationships. But there really is question around what will the Fed do? If the Fed continues to expand the money supply, there is an expectation that more people will flock to gold and silver. I’m just not quite seeing that much left. But it’s possible that there is.


BFM: I’m not sure whether your software looks at this necessarily, but it shows for silver that the technical resistance is at 21 dollars an ounce and now it’s gone past that 22 and 3 quarters. They’re talking about twenty five dollars an ounce though. Would you agree with that prognosis?


TN: Yeah, we see serious resistance. I mean it’s possible. So we’ll hit 25, but we don’t necessarily see the incentive there for silver to continue to rise. We do see strong resistance at these levels. And it’s, you know, from our perspective, it’s fairly risky looking at those at the moment.


BFM: And Tony going back to the U.S. dollar, right? I mean, we are seeing weakness now. But you say you have expectations of it recovering towards the end of the year. What is that premise on, though?


TN: When the Fed and the Treasury slow down, when we start to see stability around COVID. Things like ICU beds in East Texas, there’s so much more availability. That’s like 20 percent more availability this week than there were last week. When we start to see more stability around what’s actually causing the risk in markets and there’s less of a need for the Fed and the Treasury to intervene, then we see stability in money supply.


And as the market recovers, we start to see or we would expect to see more velocity of the U.S. dollars. That’s kind of how quickly do people spend it, right? If we see stability in the money supply and more velocity in American spending, then that could be dollar strength. If there’s instability in, say, emerging markets or Europe or something like that, if the finance ministers could ever get it together in Europe, we’d see more strength in the Euro.


But there’s disharmony there and there are questions in some emerging markets. So if we see stability and velocity rise in the U.S., then we could see more investment come from overseas into the U.S., which would accelerate Dollars. We don’t necessarily expect strong dollar strength for a turn before the end of the year, but we do expect moderate dollar strength to come in before the end of the year.


BFM: All right. Thank you for your time, Tony. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, saying that Tesla looks like something very scary at this moment, right? It looks like the stock, at six hundred times P is extremely, I would say quite expensive. I mean, you would never think that a company that isn’t it only makes less than thousand cars could be valued at six hundred times.

News Articles

These Startup Pitches Were So Good, Analysts Couldn’t Choose One Winner

This article is originally published at,-analysts-couldnt-choose-one-winner


It was a battle of the pitches.


Before an audience of global analysts, six startups presented and two walked away with kudos for ‘Most Innovative.’

The participants were members of Oracle for Startups, and the webinar was just one perk of the program, similar to our Dragon’s Den event in London in February. Each founder had just three minutes to impress a host of top analysts in virtual attendance, enabling founders to show how they are pushing innovation forward, and analysts to get a sneak peek into the future.


Most Innovative: Rocketmat and Supermoney


Rocketmat uses machine learning to enable human resources departments to fairly find and retain the best talent for companies. Its CEO and Cofounder, Pedro Lombardo, described the innovation as ‘a brain that you can put in existing AI.’


He believes that recruiter tools such as assessments and semantic search are outdated, and that adding AI to several points from ‘hire to retire’ helps with talent retention. “Our solutions range from our recruiting robot Sophia, to ranking candidates against future KPIs in selection and working with the internal company talent management,” he said.


In the last 100 days, many healthcare customers are using Rocketmat’s services in response to COVID-19. “Helping those companies recruit very much needed doctors and nurses gave us great press in Brazil,” Lombardo said.


He believes Rocketmat saves its customers time and money in selecting candidates. “But the most important and the foremost benefit is equal opportunities. Everybody gets their shot by our algorithms,” he added.


Supermoney is a blockchain business making it easy for its customers to build its own blockchain solutions. The technology is based on the Oracle Blockchain platform, which is a wrapper around hyperledger fabric that is the leading enterprise blockchain protocol.


“The magic that we bring is in the form of 40 smart contracts – the thing that does stuff in the blockchain – and we provide access to our smart contracts via a suite of APIs,” Joel Smalley, CEO of the London-based fintech explained. There are also user interface templates for iOS and Android, making it easy to build blockchain products to take care of payments and contracts, for example.


“Our biggest win at the moment is a partnership with HSBC, which has agreed to provide the payment structure for all of our solutions and … we have some big names in automotive finance too,” he said.

Supermoney is currently building on its success by engineering a front, middle, and back-office system for the insurance industry and has some ‘significant’ companies on-board.


Most Creative: Airfluencers


Airfluencers was awarded ‘Most Creative,’ and not just because CEO Rodrigo Soriano began his pitch with a Black Mirror clip.


“Anyone who’s a content creator needs to know how much they are worth when they post something. Any content has a price and metrics behind it. Our goal is to provide companies and marketing departments with all the information they need to create the most trustworthy content,” he said.


Soriano believes that influencers are the future. His company uses proprietary algorithms to estimate an influencer’s reach and value. The startup has 150 global clients so far and Soriano said the company’s benchmarks are “way, way higher than traditional media” in Brazil, sometimes exceeding 20 times traditional digital


The startup has two products. The first, a dashboard for marketing departments, allows them to run campaigns end-to-end – from discovery to predictive analysis and measurement. The second product is an analytics app for influencers so they can provide better content to their clients.


“Basically, we’re linking B2B with B2C and creating a huge, huge database of content and people where marketing depts can maximize,” Soriano said. “Social media and anybody who creates content is a target for us and we have probably the largest database in Latin America of influencers. We’re pretty happy with it.”


Best Overall Pitch: Complete Intelligence


Complete Intelligence CEO Tony Nash won ‘Best Overall Pitch.’ Packing plenty of examples into his three-minute presentation, he adeptly explained how Complete Intelligence is a cloud containerized platform for forecasting costs and revenues for better decisions.


The Texas-based startup overcomes the problem of inaccurate forecasts for costs and revenues by enabling customers to be specific. “In many cases, we’re significantly better than consensus forecasts,” he said.


The company’s products, CostFlow and RevenueFlow, provide context for companies during forecasting with a hierarchical view down to component level, where a CEO can manage the pipeline for procurement.  “We take in data from ERP systems and procurement systems and process it on our platform for highly accurate context,” he added.


Finally, drawing on a real client with $2bn of revenue, Nash showed how Complete Intelligence can save millions on cost lines while adding millions in cash flow.


“So, this might seem like a very specific forecasting problem, but it leads to a better valuation for manufacturing firms,” he concluded.


The Best of the Rest


Analysts were also impressed with BotSupply and Gridmarkets’ pitches.


Francesco Stasi, CEO of BotSupply, explained how using Oracle’s chatbot platform, the Copenhagen-based firm helps customers build chatbots in up to 27 languages. He highlighted how relationships with Oracle’s sales reps can lead to a better product and big customers.


GridMarkets cofounder Mark Ross explained how his startup simplifies and accelerates computationally demanding workloads such as animation rendering, visual effects, and molecular simulations for drug discovery. He explained how the product saves costs and is integrated into the end user’s software and sets up in seconds. “There are no special skills and training required. Our pricing is competitive as we leverage the highly secure Oracle capacity,” he said. The startup has acquired more than 3,000 customers in over 90 countries including Fox Studios, the BBC, and Facebook.

News Articles

How to Make Cloud Pricing More Transparent

This article on “How to Make Cloud Pricing More Transparent” is originally published at


eWEEK CLOUD PERSPECTIVE: It used to be nearly impossible to compare cloud costs because different providers typically have their own nomenclature for cloud features, define services differently and offer different tiers of services that don’t line up with one another. Forget apple-to-apple comparisons, cloud price bake-offs were more like contrasting apples to peach cobblers. But help is here.


Cloud has inspired almost as much evangelical fervor as open source computing, particularly in the heady 2000s. The advent of cloud computing seemed to render traditional enterprise software vendors as out-of-date as telegraph operators. The monolithic process of releasing software every 18 months wasn’t fast enough for business, running your own servers became as fashionable as generating your own electricity, and the expense involved restricted technology access to the wealthiest businesses.


Cloud computing represented a true democratization of enterprise IT, allowing small companies to compete with bigger rivals without breaking the bank to buy servers, storage and software. Tens of millions of dollars for the right to walk onto the playing field were no longer required.


The other promise of cloud computing was of a more transparent and equitable business model.


In one of my first interviews as an IT reporter, in 2003, I asked the chief technology officer of a large health IT organization to define enterprise software. “It’s when they can’t tell you the price of the software upfront,” he said.


Sure, this lack of transparency reflected the complexity of the forecasting applications on offer, but also showed that the dominant sales model gave more power to vendors than customers.


The emergence of profitable cloud-native businesses both threatened existing business models and inspired business transformation. The agility and innovation made possible by cloud computing inspired many businesses to move their IT stacks from their own server rooms or data centers to the cloud.



The law of universal gravitation as applied to the cloud


By 2020, however, the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Businesses have reaped the benefits of relatively lower costs and more frequent innovation. And with the lion’s share of IT spending at most companies moving into the cloud, cost – and cost transparency – matters. Yet, the transparency promised by the cloud revolution has largely failed to materialize.


As was the case with the previous generation of technology, obfuscation isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, and it begins with Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. Pricing structures at legacy cloud providers punish moving data from one cloud to another. By intentionally making the cost of putting data into their clouds as low as possible, while making it prohibitively expensive to move data out to interact with systems in different clouds—a concept known as data gravity—they are walling in their customers.  This is an explicit strategy to make their clouds “sticky” and keep forecasting applications from moving to other clouds.


But the reality is that businesses want and need to operate in different cloud environments for many reasons. Not to mention, who wouldn’t want to cut 10, 30, or even 80 percent of cloud costs if possible?




Newton’s law of motion applied to the cloud


It used to be nearly impossible to compare cloud costs because different providers typically have their own nomenclature for cloud features, define services differently and offer different tiers of services that don’t line up with one another. Forget apple-to-apple comparisons, cloud price bake-offs were more like contrasting apples to peach cobblers.


There is help available. For one example, Oracle Cloud Workload Cost Estimator is a new tool now available for obtaining empirical cost information. It lets customers assess comparative costs of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Amazon Web Services in as close to a real apples-to-apples comparison as possible.


The calculator prices not only computing and storage costs, but that of IOPS (data input/output per second), and data transmission out of the cloud as well. That last factor, also known as data egress, is usually a wild card because traditional cloud companies start charging a markup after a given amount of data flows out. So once you hit a monthly target—1GB for AWS, according to the cost estimator—data egress charges kick in. At Oracle the meter doesn’t start until after 10,000 times more data egress—or 10 TB—per month.


IT leaders can enter the parameters of proposed workloads and then run their own OCI vs. AWS comparisons. In the end, they may discover that one cloud provider offers services that are closer to Newton’s third law (that for every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction) than to his first




A few examples


Cost and performance go hand in hand, especially as software-as-a-service providers rely on third parties to serve their software to customers. Data technology firm Complete Intelligence, for instance, provides real-time risk management and forecasting services for its customers. It needs to know how much it will spend providing that service on an ongoing basis, and also be sure that its customers get the responsive service their businesses need.


“For us, it’s the entry cost, but it’s also the running cost for a cloud solution. And so that’s critically important for us. And not all cloud providers are created equally,” said Tony Nash, CEO of the Houston-based company, which picked Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.


Another example of how modern businesses use the cloud is data integration provider Naveego. The company helps customers parse data from a myriad of sources. It cleans the data, deletes duplicates, provides a trail of sources, and then provides a clean golden record of data that is ready for analytics in real time.


“To do that, we run instances of our product in multiple availability zones. AWS charges for communications back and forth between those availability zones. Oracle doesn’t, and the cost difference ended up being huge for us. So, we decided to move our research and development, and some production, cloud tenancies to Oracle Cloud,” wrote Naveego CEO Katie Horvath in a blog post.


The company saved 60 percent on its costs since moving to the Oracle cloud, while being able to do more research and development. “Oracle’s claims that Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is 65 percent more cost effective on computers have also proven to be true for Naveego,” she says.


We’re starting a new decade on an awkward footing, and businesses need technology to help make smarter decisions. They may still want to fail fast, but they will also want to know what went wrong fast, what the fast road looks like to the promised land – and at long last, what it costs to get there. They’ve long known the cost of sending a telegram, and they can finally figure out the cost of using the cloud.


Michael Hickins is a former eWEEK and Wall Street Journal editor and reporter.


Fixing terrible forecasts and the lack of context

Tony Nash joined Geoffrey Cann in Digital Oil and and Gas podcast to talk about his revenue forecasting and predictive intelligence analytics startup company Complete Intelligence — how does the company solve the problem of terrible forecasts and the lack of context around data?


Geoffrey Cann joined us in QuickHit: 2 Things Oil & Gas Companies Need to Do Right Now to Win Post Pandemic.


This podcast originally appeared at


Digital Oil and Gas Description



Jul 22, 2020

Today’s podcast is an interview with Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence. Specializing in revenue forecasting and predictive analytics, Complete Intelligence develops artificial intelligence solutions. In this interview, we discuss predictive intelligence analysis, how Complete Intelligence works, and what value these forecasts can generate. 


Show Notes

GC: Welcome back to another episode of Digital Oil and Gas. My name is Geoffrey Cann, the host of the podcast. And I’m joined today by Tony Nash, who is the CEO and co-founder of Complete Intelligence. Tony, welcome to the podcast.


TN: Thanks, Geoffrey. It’s good to be here.


GC: You and I met probably a bit of a month ago. We did a short video exchange, and it was so much fun, we agreed that we should probably do something a little more involved, and here we are today. Of course, my interest is how digital innovation and digital strategic toolkit are transforming how the oil and gas world operates.


Your area of interest and expertise, the focus of your startup is in the application of smart technologies in agile budgeting and forecasting and market modeling. And that’s a big area of interest for oil and gas. That’s the reason why I thought you’d be a terrific guest to come on the show today and talk a little bit about that.


TN: Thank you very much.


GC: What’s your background? You were with The Economist, is that right?


TN: I was with The Economist. I led their global research business for a while. And I built what’s called the Custom Research business. It was a small niche business when I joined. It was a pretty sizable revenue by the time I left. Great organization. Had a lot of fun there. I then moved to a company called IHS MarkIt. Information services firm. I led their Asia consulting business. And from there, we started Complete Intelligence. I’ve been in information services off and on for way too long, since the late 90s.


GC: And what’s your education background? Did you start out in computer science or something?


TN: I was a graduate at Texas A&M in business and my grad work was in Boston at a school called The Fletcher School, which is a diplomacy school. So I was trained to be a diplomat, although I’m not very diplomatic at the moment. I have my moments.


Part of the reason I started going down this road is because in grad school, I had a trade economics professor who was amazing, great guy. I started my career after undergrad at a freight forwarder and customs broker. I didn’t have a glamorous first job. I was actually working the night shift in a warehouse at a freight forwarder, receiving exports and typing out airway bills and all that stuff. I got to know the nuts and bolts of world trade pretty specifically and pretty firsthand. I don’t know of any other trade economists who have started the way I have. I look at trade data differently than almost every other economist that I know of. I look at it somewhat skeptically. It’s that skepticism that I realized in grad school with this fantastic professor that my skepticism was an asset. My skepticism was an asset within statistical, mathematical models, within economic discussions and so on, so forth.


I had used it in business before that, but I didn’t think that I necessarily had the ability to apply it in this big world before I had this experience in grad school. So I then took it and I joined The Economist. I kind of conned them into hiring me, which was great, and then within a year or so, I was heading their global research business. From there, we just kind of took off.


GC: What are some of the products out of The Economist? Because I buy the magazine every week. And The Economist publishes an occasional handbook of global statistics, GDP by country and balance of trade and so forth. Were you involved in those kinds of products or were the products you were involved in much more specific to a client or customer requirement?


TN: I wasn’t. A lot of those are extracts from, say, IMF data. That’s part of The Economist publishing, which is a slightly different business to what I was doing. A lot of what I was doing was really applied work with clients. Solving real problems, figuring real things out. Some of this was corporate forecasting, looking at costs, looking at revenues, those sorts of things. Some of this was doing work for example the World Health Organization in places like Cambodia, comparing different treatments for mother-child transmitted HIV.


We had all kinds of cool, different approaches. And from my perspective, we could really play with different methodologies. We could really understand what was working and what wasn’t working. It was a huge sandbox for me. Again, really great smart people. That really started a lot of this kind of true love for me, which is what I’m doing now.


GC: What is the business problem that you saw that was sufficiently vexing that you decided to devote a lifetime in a career to trying to solve?


Because your career builds you to a point and then you say, “You know what? This is the problem I think I’m going to aim to solve.“ And you know what? You may go on to solve other problems, but at that moment, why would you become a founder to go solve something unless it was so big and so vexing, it was worth your time?


TN: I think I became a founder because I underestimated how hard it would be to build a business. Almost every founder will tell you that. When I was with both The Economist and IHS Markit, I had two really consistent feedback points that people gave me.


First is the quality of forecasting within information services, within corporate, say, strategy, finance, forecasting units, is pretty terrible. Most people forecast through, let’s say, a moving average approach. Some of the largest companies in the world will forecast using a moving average. If they are super sophisticated, they’ll use a very small maybe regression model or something like that.


But what mostly happens is one of two things. Either they look at last year’s and add a small percentage. “We’re just gonna have three percent on this year.“ That’s pretty common. The other one is really just a gut feel like, “I really think it’s going to be X this year.“ If a Wall Street analyst understood how unscientific the way outlooks are done within large companies, they’d be pretty shocked.


I mean, there is a belief that there is a lot that goes into the sausage machine. Traditional forecasting is terrible. Any forecast you buy off the shelf? Pretty terrible. Any forecast you’d get within a company? Pretty bad. Even the data scientists that are on staff with a lot of these big companies, really brilliant people, but they’re not necessarily fine tuning their forecasts based on error. And this is the key.


Companies who forecast should be required to disclose their error for every forecast they’ve done historically. That’s what we do for our clients. Because the number one problem was the quality of forecasts. So we spent our first two and a half years focused on that problem. We continue our approach to that.


GC: When you say “publish the error,” do you mean error in hindsight? How bad were we last year or do you mean here’s what we think our forecasted error is likely to be this year?


TN: Every year, any forecaster on planet Earth should say, this is what we forecast last year and this was our error rate. When we look at consensus forecast, for example, for energy like crude oil, natural gas, industrial metals, consensus error rates are typically double digits. Typically double digits. We just did a calculation. When I talk about error rate, I’m talking about absolute percent error. I’m not talking about gaming off pluses and minuses because that’s really convenient. But you look at a plus 10, you look at a minus eight, and that becomes a nine instead of a one.


People who forecast should be required to publish their error rates. Companies, especially energy companies, are paying hundreds of thousand dollars, if not seven figures to buy data. Those guys [forecasters] know they’re between 15 and 30 percent off in their forecasts regularly. Businesses are making decisions based on these data.


That’s the thing that, as someone who’s run businesses, not just analysts businesses, but run real proper businesses in different spaces, seeing planning people make decisions with a 30 percent error rate or 50 percent error or whatever it is, but no accountability from the information services provider? That’s a problem.


That’s a 1990s business model where you could play with the opacity around data. But in 2020, that should not be the case at all. We regularly show our prospects and our clients our error rates because they deserve it. They deserve understanding what our error rates are line by line.


GC: In oil and gas, when I’m building up a forecast, particularly for, say, an oil project, I’m having to forecast currency exchange rates, interest rates for my borrowings, the price of certain critical commodities like cement and steel. I’m having to forecast project delivery timeline and schedule. I’m having to forecast future market demand like, where’s my product likely to go? If each of these has a 15 to 30 percent error rate built into them and I’ve added them all up to get to a :here’s my forecasted economics for the year.“ Have I built in and basically had an accumulated error rate that makes my forecast pretty unreliable at that stage? Or these different errors, all sort of stand alone?


TN: That’s the budgeting process.


GC: I’ve been in that process. Right.


TN: Anybody who’s worked on a budget like that, they understand it. Maybe they don’t want to admit it, but we talk to people all the time who tell us. We have a client in Europe who admitted to us that some of their core materials that they buy, they know internally that their forecasts typically have a 30 percent error. And when we say that to people, to other companies, that’s feedback we get consistently that the people who actually know, the data know that their companies have error rates that are 20 to 30 percent or in some cases worse. They’re that far off.


When you think about it from a finance perspective, you’re over allocating resources for the procurement of something and that resource could have been used for something else. That’s one of the reasons why it’s really important for us to help people really narrow that down.


We check ourselves all the time and we looked at some industrial metals and energy stuff based on a June 2019 forecast for the following twelve months through the COVID period, comparing some consensus forecasts and our forecast. On average, we were 9.4 percent better than consensus. This is a Complete Intelligence forecast. It’s an aggregate looking at one of our manufacturing clients.


When you look at the different horizons, we look every three months, what was the error every three months, even up to the COVID period. On average, we were 9.4 percent better on a MAPE (Mean Absolute Percent Error) basis. If you’re buying off the shelf forecasts from some of the typical service providers, you’re looking at a pretty large disadvantage. They’re not using machine learning. They’re not using artificial intelligence. If they are, it’s typically very, very simple.


Now, part of what we’ve done through the process is we’ve removed the human process, human involvement in every aspect of data and forecast. From the data sourcing to the validation to anomaly detection to processing, to forecasting, we do not have human analysts who are looking at that and going, “that just doesn’t look right.“


GC: OK. It’s all done by machine?


TN: Right. We have machines that apply the same rules across assets. Because if we have human beings who gut check things, it just inserts bias and error through the whole process. And with no human intervention, we have a massive scale in terms what we do. We forecast about 1.1 million items every two weeks. Our forecast cycles are every two weeks. And we do it very, very quickly.


GC: And nine percent less error rate or a lot lower error?


TN: For the ones that we checked for that one client, yes. I would say in general, that’s probably about generally right. In some cases, it’s better.


GC: So a few things. One is the huge range of things that you can forecast when you remove all the humans out of it gives you these scale-ups. And then the fact that you can do it over and over and over again in much tighter cycle times than someone who just does it annually, once for a budget. And third, you’re testing your accuracy constantly to improve your algorithm so that you’re getting better and better and better over time.


TN: Exactly. When you consider something like crude oil, there are hundreds of crude forecasters who know that, they know that they know the six things that drive the crude oil price, right? And I guarantee you those crude oil forecasters who know what they know, what they know what those six things are, manually change their output once their models run. I guarantee you.


GC: I remember working for an oil company in Canada where the coming of the oil sands, but it was the monthly oil sands production expectation and would come into the finance function, where I was working, and the numbers would come in the spreadsheet and the finance people go, “add five percent to that.” Because they would say, they’re wrong every month, we’re tired of being embarrassed about being wrong. And they’re wrong because they undersell their performance. So just add five percent. And that was the number that would go to the market.


TN: And then that’s the error, right?


GC: And was that even the final error? There may or may not be on top of that?


TN: Probably not. And there are very few companies, we have some German clients, so they’re pretty good about doing this. But there are very few companies who actually track their error. And so most companies Are not even aware of how far off they are, which is a problem.


Here’s the second problem. The first one is forecasting quality is terrible. So we’ve developed a fully automated process. We measure our error, that sort of stuff. The second one is the context of the forecast. What I mean by that is, let’s say you’re making a specific chemical. You can go to some of these professional chemical forecasters, but they’re not making the chemical exactly where you make it. They don’t have the proportion of feedstocks that you have. Because we’ve built this highly iterative forecast engine that does hundreds of millions of calculations with every run, we can take a bill of material for that microphone in front of you or a chemical or a car, And we can forecast out the cost of every component to that every month for the next 12 to 24 months.


GC: Really? So, at any scale or any, I mean, you do it for a phone, you can do it for a car?


TN: That’s right. So if you look at a bill of material with, say, a thousand levels in it. Not a thousand components. But, you know, if you look at the parent-child relationship within a bill of materials, these things get really sophisticated really quickly. Some of the largest manufacturers have this data. They have access to it and we can tap into that to help them understand their costs, the likely trajectory of their costs over time. What does that help them? Helps them budget more accurately. It helps them negotiate with their vendors more accurately.


If you’re a, let’s say you’re a 20-billion dollar company and you have one percent on your cogs, how additive is that to your valuation if you’re trading at 15 or 20 times EBITDA.


GC: Yeah. And just right to the bottom line at that level.


TN: Exactly. This is what we’re finding. For the high context as of the second kind of business problem that we’re solving, and so we do this on the cost side. We do this on the revenue side. For that second problem, which is high context, again, the platform that we’ve built allows the scale, because if we had analysts sitting there scratching their head, rubbing their beard for every single thing we’re forecasting, there’s no way we could do this scale.


But because it’s automated, because it’s scalable, we can actually do this. And so it adds a whole level of capability within major manufacturing clients and it adds a whole level of risk protection or error mitigation to those guys as well.


GC: Just think about the current year that we’re in, which would include, at least in Canada, a pipeline constraints and the potential for rail expansion activity south of the border to either curtail production, the behavior of OPEC. When you think about getting into forecasting world of commodity prices… I can understand a manufacturer bill of materials and get into cost of goods sold and forecasting quite precisely what their forward manufacturing cycle will look like. I can use the same thing, though, in the oil industry, though, and probably gas, too, I would suspect.


TN: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.


GC: And what’s the industry’s reaction to it? Because there’ll be people inside oil and gas who are doing forecasting today and they’ll be fairly proud of the models that they built that delivering a forecast. You’re walking in and saying ”I’ve got a whole new way to do this that is so many more cycles faster than what you can manually do, looking at many more products than you practically can. And if I show you that you’re nine percent off, 10 percent off with it.” I can imagine a negative reaction to this. I can also imagine for some organizations, pretty positive reaction on balance. How companies react when you told I can sharpen up your numbers?


TN: OK. So I’ll tell you a story about a gas trader. October of 2018, we went into a natural gas trader here in Houston. We showed them what we do. Gave a demo, give them access for a couple weeks so they could poke around. And we went back to them later and they said, “Look, you are showing a like a 30, 31 percent decline in the price of natural gas over the next 6 months. There’s no way that’s going to happen. So thanks, but no thanks.”


GC: This was your data telling them? All right. Refresh my memory. What was going on in October of 2018?


TN: Nothing yet. But Henry Hub prices fell by forty one percent within six months. So these guys were completely unprepared. The kind of conventional wisdom around natural gas prices at that time were unprepared for that magnitude of fall. But we were showing that that was going to happen. And so when you look at that, we had an 11 percent error rate at that point, which seems kind of high. But conventional wisdom was a 30 percent error rate.


We don’t expect to be the single go to source when we first go into a client. That’s not our thought. We know we’re a new vendor. We know we’re offering a different point of view. But we’re in a period of history where you have to think the unthinkable. And this is 2018, ‘19.


With the volatility that we’re seeing in markets, you really have to be thinking the unthinkable, at least as a part of your possibility set. It’s really hard. I would think it to be really hard for really anybody who’s trading any magnitude of oil and gas product to put something like this outside of their arsenal of strategic toolkit that they use.


GC: Well, certainly, if you had that gap in expectation of gas prices, the gas producer should have been thinking about hedging at that moment. And if their conclusion was, you’re completely wrong and I’m not going to bother with hedging, then shame on them really, because they should have done a far better job of managing to the curve. That’s a great story because it illustrates the challenge.


TN: That’s normal. It’s kind of the “not invented here” approach. And I see a lot of that within oil and gas.


We see a bit more interest in chemicals. They have to understand the price of their feedstocks. They have to understand their revenues better. And so we see a bit more on the downstream where there is a lot more interest. But midstream, upstream, it’s just not really there.


GC: What’s the untapped potential here to sharpen up forecasting? If you’re talking with a company and you say, “I can sharpen up your forecasts and your estimates and tighten up your variability and your business plan.” How does that translate to value and how do you extrapolate that to here’s the the slack, if you like, that’s built up economically within the system and as a whole that we stand potential to extract out and it’s going back to the misallocation of capital, the inadequate negotiations with suppliers, the margin left on the table because of the numbers aren’t just that reliable.


TN: We just went through this exercise with a manufacturer with about 20 billion dollars of turnover to help them understand. If you look at, say, the nine percent difference that we had in that exercise that I told you. So let’s say we’re working with the manufacturer with a 20 billion dollars and a PE ratio around 20, which is kind of where they’re trading. If instead of a nine percent or even four and a half percent improvement, let’s just say we had a one percent improvement in their materials. That one percent improvement in their costs translates to a three percent improvement in their net income. That’s three percent improvement in their net income translates to a 1.1 billion dollar improvement on their market capitalization.


We’re not going out there saying, “hey, we’re gonna help you save 10 percent of your costs.“ We’re not going out with statements that are that bold. We’re saying, “OK, let’s run a scenario where we help you with a quarter of a percent,“ which would help them add 280 million dollars on to their market capitalization. So procurement management and planning is kind of that tightly calibrated that if we helped this company with 0.25 percent improvement in their costs, keep in mind we’re nine point four percent better than consensus, that actually helps them add 280 million dollars onto their market cap. It’s just exponential.


GC: Well, it’s the leverage effect of earnings per share as you drop those earnings to the bottom line. And so anybody who’s actually measured on EPS or stock price should take a very interested look at this because you’re not selling a hardware, big capital investment, stand up a big department, not stuff. This is about taking the current process, that’s their budgeting, and squeezing out the variability or the error rate and trends that translates directly to value. When you think about it, it’s a complete no-brainer. Like, why would you not do this?


TN: It is. And we’re not going to charge them 280 million dollars to do it. But we could charge for this agile budgeting and forecasting. But we’re not going to.


GC: What you would do is you’d say, we’ll take shares in your company.


TN: I mean, that’s been suggested many, many times.


GC: Yeah, no, I totally get It. I say to oil companies, I’ll sell my services to you based on the price of oil. But the shareholder actually values the volatility on oil pricing. So they’re not prepared to give that away. And I’d be the same. I wouldn’t do that. But on the other hand, the back to this question of untapped potential. The ship, the bulk of the economy is operating off of wildly inaccurate consensus estimates. I think that’s fair to say, I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but that would be my my conclusion. The bulk is operating off of inaccurate assessments. And so over time, what should happen is we should see a considerable improvement in that, which in turn translates into much better performing economy, allocation of capital and supply chains and so forth.


So you’ve been an entrepreneur now for how long’s it been three years?


TN: It’s five. We started as a consulting firm. It’s been about five years now. We actually started the company in Singapore. I moved it to Texas at the end of 2018. I couldn’t really find the coding talent and the math talent in Asia. I know this sounds really weird, but I couldn’t. And so I relocated the business to Texas in 2018.


GC: Yeah. And the talent pool is rich enough in the United States to fulfill this ambition?


TN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Totally fantastic.


GC: And what lessons have you taken away from all of this experience? Would you do it again?


TN: I would do it again. But I would do It differently. Anybody who starts a business has to realize that markets aren’t necessarily ready for radical new thinking. And it really takes a long time to get an idea of this out there. The kind of AI industry and the talk about automation has been around for a long time. But things like this, companies aren’t really ready to just let go of. It takes a lot for them to consider letting go of this stuff.


If your idea is pretty radical, it’s probably to take a while to socialize with an industry. But I would say it’s also, we as a company, we had a staff issue about a year ago, actually, that really shook us. And out of that, we developed our principles and our values. For anybody who wants to do this, you really have to understand what your own principles and values are from early on. It’s not something you wait until you’re 100 people to develop.


That issue a year ago was a very clarifying moment for us as a company. It really forced us to think about what kind of business we wanted to build. And I’m grateful for it, although it was really terrible at the time. I’m grateful for it because we have our values. It’s actually posted on our website. Whenever we recruit new people, that’s one of the first things I send to them and say, “Look, this is who we are. If you’re not comfortable with this, then this is not the right place for you. I’m sure you’re talented, all that kind of stuff. But we really live by this stuff and and those things are important.“


The other thing I would recommend for anybody who’s doing this is you’ve got to play nice with everyone on the way up and you got to play nice with everyone on the way down. It’s easy for tech entrepreneurs to really think a lot of themselves. And I think that’s fun. But it’s also not really helpful in the long run.


There’s a lot that I’ve learned about recruiting leadership teams, finding fit, looking for investors. I have the Asia experience. I have the U.S. experience. The math and the tech around A.I. is almost the easiest issue to solve. With technology, as long as you think big but retain humility, you can do a lot. You have to be bold, but be comfortable with mistakes.


The trick is getting the right team and the right investors who are comfortable with that environment. And if you get the right team and the right investors who are comfortable with that, then it can be much more fun. You actually have a chance at being successful because so many startups just fail. They don’t last a year or two years, much less for five. It’s really, really critical to get the right people.


GC: Yeah, I completely agree. The people and the money, it’s both sides. If the investors don’t have the patience or they’re marching to a different drum like they want short term results, and that’s as much of a death knell for for many startups as a talent talent deficit.


Tony, this has been excellent. Thank you very much for taking the time to join me today on Digital Oil and Gas. And if people want to learn more about Complete Intelligence, where do they go? What’s your website?


TN: Our website is And we’re on Twitter. We’re on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of information there. And like you did about a month ago, we have a lot of five-minute interviews we do with industry experts and a weekly newsletter. There are a lot of ways to get to learn about us.


GC: Fantastic. Tony, thank you very much. This has been another episode of Digital Oil and Gas. And if you like what you’ve heard, by all means, press the like button and the share button and add a comment, and that helps other people find the show. And meanwhile, tune back in next week, Wednesdays, when we’ll issue another episode of Digital Oil and Gas. This is Canada Day week. So happy Canada Day to my all my Canadian listeners.


And Saturday is Independence Day. It’s July 4th. So, Tony, have a great time on Independence Day. Be socially distant and be safe out there. Thanks again.


US firms create 4.8 million jobs in June

Complete Intelligence CEO and Founder Tony Nash joins BBC Business Matters to talk about Texas’s approach on handling coronavirus, why there are nearly half of companies in China’s Greater Bay Area are planning to move out of China move out of China, the deadly jade and hardwood industries in Myanmar and if loot box as a potential gambling addiction for children.



This podcast is originally published at


BBC Description


The US economy created jobs at a record pace in June as firms took on more staff after the coronavirus downturn. Payrolls surged 4.8 million, the most since the Labor Department began keeping records in 1939, helped by the reopening of factories and restaurants. But a recent spike in Covid-19 cases has raised fears for continued growth.


China’s decision to impose a new security law on Hong Kong is having rapid international ramifications. We explore how various countries are reacting.

Also in the programme – another fatal accident in one of Myanmar’s enormous jade mines. We discuss the scale and immense value of a decidedly murky industry – and how men, women and children can be victims of the blood jade trade.


And we’ll hear how a ruling in the UK High Court means that President Maduro of Venezuela will not gain access to a billion-dollar stash of gold stored at the Bank of England.


Plus – do loot boxes in the game Overwatch encourage problem gambling?


Presenter Fergus Nicoll is joined by Rachel Cartland in Hong Kong and Tony Nash in the US.



Show Notes

BBC: What do you make of what’s going on right now? The Texas governer now ordering facemasks in public. Does it feel precarious?


TN: No not at all. I live in Houston. I see what’s happening here. I work with hospital groups in Texas. The COVID capacity in their hostpitals is around 25% of the ICU. What I see in international media is about case counts. Case counts are higher because testings have risen dramatically. But in terms of the capacity in hospitals, what I see hospital executives are saying is that they are not alarmed and they are not worried. But a lot of the flurry of hype that I see in the international media is about case counts. When we started this, we talked about flattening the curve so we don’t overwhelm the ICU. We’ve actually done that. We’ve flatten things. And the ICUs are at 20% capacity with COVID. What we’ve seen is a lot of people during the COVID peak, people put off their non-COVID procedures and did not have their non-COVID ailments treated. So when you hear about the COVID capacities in ICUs, what I’m hearing is that those non COVID patients who are coming in, who are a lot worse than they were 2 months ago because they were afraid to go to the hospital.


BBC: That’s really interesting, and the US is not the only nation, I’m certain with, that that’s phenomenon has been observed. But just ot be clear, would you line up with Chris Engram and say that quarantine those who must be quarantined for their own good. Let business proceed?


TN: Yeah. You have to. When you look at the rates of drug addiction, when you look at the rates of suicide, these things are up 20-30 % over normal times. Certainly, every life matters. Take care of the people who are sick and people who need to take precautions, help them take precautions. All of that is necessary. Wash your hands, all that stuff. But we have to move on with the economy. And the people who don’t have an option, the people who are unemployed. We’ve had almost 200 thousand companies close in the US. Obviously there are a lot of jobs than just that.


The part of this that is most concerning on my part is that it’s largely state and local government officials who are closing the markets, and closing businesses and they have zero fiscal responsibility for the outcome. Meaning, if any fiscal support is to come, it comes from the federal government. But it’s not the federal government that is closing local communities, it’s the city, county, and state officials who are closing. But they are not helping out the business people. They have zero accountability, they have zero fiscal responsibility for their actions, which is the most troubling for me because people are making decisions that sound good politically, sound good on paper, but they are not sound for people’s lives in terms of the general population, in terms of business, in terms of people who need to get out and see people, and certainly mental health. It’s really reached fever pitch. I think people really need to look at the data around death rates, which is critical. The eficacy of the disease, as far as I’m seeing is declining. Death rates per 100 thousand are declining. And Texas, death rates per 100 thousand is 8. Death rates per 100 thousand in New York is 160. So we are 20 times less fatal in Texas than they were in New York.


BBC: You’ve thrown some interesting things in the last few hours on your feed. First of all, you’re talking about the state deparment intervening in terms of those interest in China and investment in China. You also talked about the factory in the Great Bay Area in Southern China thinking about moving house. Just to address those two points, if you would.


TN: There’s a recent story done. I did not do this story. I am not the origin of this story. But there was a survey done in China’s Greater Bay Area, which is a large factory of the world, where 43% of the survey respondents, who are factory owners said that they are actively considering relocating our of China. That is significant. Nearly half of factory owners in the manufacturing hub of the world are considering moving our of China. There are domestic factories there, of course. We’ve all seen fall out in COVID. There are larger demand issue in China than what we are seeing with the official data. But with trade, I would guess that most of those factories, I need to look deeper into the data, but most of those factories are export-oriented factories. That’s dramatic.


BBC: And when it comes to state departments, warning companies on conducting business with China. That’s from Fox News. I’m wondering does that mean don’t do business with China or are we back to the old grievances about intellectual property and so on?


TN: I think it’s more of the latter than the former. You can always say it’s most prudent not to but I don’t necessarily believe that myself. But I think one has to be very, very careful with intellectual property, of course, that’s an old story. But also with this new legislation that made its way to the US Congress. You have to be careful about who you’re doing business with. I think more than ever, American companies have to be really careful who they’re doing business with. Not just what they’re doing.


BBC: Tony, you’ve travelled extremely wildly in Southeast Asia. It seems like a perennial tragedy that the Burmese jade industry, the Burmese hardwood logging sector seems to be so frought with these complexities of the military interference and so on.


TN: Yes, absolutely. I think when I hear about this even specifically, it reminds me of two things. The first is we had a series of Chinese mining incidents probably over the last 10 or 15 years. We’ve heard less of this in the last 5 years. But it also reminded me in Bangladesh. 3 or 4 years ago, there’s a fire in a garment factory and there have been a series of safety incidence there. This is not a perfect analogy but the fact is, the working environments and the physical safety environments in many parts of the world, in Myanmar, are very, very difficult. And Myanmar is a very poor country and people work very hard to make very little money. And the trade offs that they have to make to try to make that money are have to do with their life and their well being.


BBC: Do boycotts work in the commercial sector?


TN: I think they have an impact. Do they work? I don’t know. It really depends on how you really define success. I think about the change that we’ve had with things like shark fin over the last 15 years. It hasn’t completely stopped people eating shark fin. But certainly a lot more people who won’t do it. And so, you really have to define what success is and really figure out how you get to that success. What was said about people about lusting after something that’s made by someone far, far away. That’s true. They don’t feel any personal consequence for the difficulties and the dangers of making these stuff.


BBC: On young gambling, as a parent, do you watch this kind of thing? Do you set rules? Is it even gambling playing this kind of stuff?


TN: I honestly never thought of a loot box as gambling until I saw the story. So, I don’t know if it’s something that I should be interested in and alarmed by. I just never thought of it as gambling. I feel a little bit ignorant.


Yeah, my kids play Fortnight, they play Over Watch. But I don’t see them with those types of behaviours. But I’ll take another look at it for sure. But again I never saw it as gambling. Maybe I’m just unaware.

Visual (Videos)

CNA’s Asia First: Restarting the economy takes a disproportionate amount of resources

Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence, joins Avril Hong and Adam Bakhtiar of Asia First to share his insights on restarting the economy, Texas’s economy on a lockdown, fiscal stimulus and policy, and if he’s bullish on China. Watch Tony’s segment here and in our Youtube channel.


This video is part of a 2-hour live news show at Channel News Asia’s Asia First. CNA is part of Mediacorp. Find the original segment here:

Show Notes


CNA: Tony, the last time we spoke was a couple of months ago. At the time, Houston hadn’t confirmed any cases of coronavirus. Fast forward to today, we’re seeing the biggest daily surge in confirmed cases. 10,000 in the state. Do you still think that it’s not as big an issue for the lockdown for restarting the economy especially for the Sun Belt state as a whole?


TN: We’re seeing the the case counts rise. But we’re seeing the death rates stay low and even decline. In terms of markets, I think that’s a good sign. If we saw the case counts rise and the death rate stay consistent or rise, then I’d be very concerned. But we’re seeing the case counts rise and the death rates fall. We’re seeing plenty of capacity in hospitals as we talk to hospital administrators here. Here in Texas, places like Arizona, Florida, what I’m seeing by talking to people in healthcare is that things are okay. Again, what I’m keeping an eye on really is the death rates. And the the death rates as that incidence rises. This is a virus. That’s going to get out. It’s going to grow. It’s going to hit more people. I don’t necessarily think that incidents itself is an issue. We have to look at the fatality rate and how persistent that fatality rate is.


CNA: Right. Then if it’s not that big of an issue, then is there less of a need for stimulus whether from the Fed or the government in that sense because we’re hearing from some of these Fed officials, they’re warning that growth has plateaued. It’s kind of leveling out and they are asking for more stimulus. But if it’s not such a big concern these surge in coronavirus cases and its impact on restarting the economy, is there still a need for further stimulus?


TN: The problem with stopping an economy or pulling the plug on an economy, which is what governments around the world did, is that restarting it takes a disproportionate amount of resources. So governments around the world pulled the plug, stopped business, stopped socializing, stopped all these things, stopped flights, and it killed the oil and gas sector. It killed the hospitality sector. It killed travel and so on and so forth. In order to restart the economy, it takes a disproportionate amount because there’s inertia in economic activity and so we really have to push it along pretty far so that it gets back to that rate. It’s pretty easy to criticize companies that aren’t performing. Q2 revenues for example, Q2 earnings are going to come in pretty poor. But these guys are doing the best they can given the impacts of governments globally. And here in the US, we see state level and local governments making decisions for businesses to stop. But they’re not the ones who provide the fiscal support. It’s the federal government or the central government that actually provides that support. So there’s a weird misalignment of incentives in the US where it’s local governments forcing companies to close our state governments. But they’re not actually accountable and they’re not paying the consequences of it.


CNA: Yeah, so that therein raises this moral dilemma I guess, because whether you’re looking at fiscal or monetary policy support, we see the Fed dipping its toes into corporate bonds, buying Apple bonds, Microsoft bonds for example. Apple stocks up 25% year to date and then in terms of fiscal policy support, sure that pandemic aid program, it has according to the Trump administration, helped to save more than 50 million jobs. But it’s also helped the wealthy and connected.


TN: Sure. It has. When you see the the Fed of the Treasury spending on things like Apple bonds, yes it’s for Apple, but I don’t think it’s really for Apple. It’s the wealth effect of markets and getting US consumers back to the point of feeling like they can spend again is a very difficult place to get consumers and so, especially when you look at baby boomers and the spending power they have, they’re looking at their retirement years. If they’re looking at their portfolio being cut dramatically, then they’re going to cut back on their spending really, really dramatically. So the sentiment around markets is important. It’s easy to make fun of. A lot of people mock it. But the fact is baby boomers have to feel comfortable to go out and spend because they’re the biggest age cohort. Actually, those guys and millennials in the US are around the same size. But it’s important for them to spend and that the sentiment around markets, the sentiment around things like real estate values are really, really critical right now.


CNA: Right. Okay. Let’s shift focus a bit and talk about the Asian markets. We’ve been seeing that Chinese rally. It seems to have, you know, showing no sense of stopping. Shanghai Composite still closing up about half a percent. Do you still feel bullish on the mainland markets?


TN: No. Look, they’re way ahead of what we thought they would hit by year end. Sure, you may see more momentum. You may see more of a run in Chinese markets but we don’t see it based really in any fundamentals, which very few markets are right now. But we don’t really see a lot of room left there even before the end of the year. So, we may see some volatility there. I was working in Beijing in 2015 when markets crashed there before and sadly, we may see something similar now. It all depends on how the central government will then address it and if people will walk away whole. But I have friends who in 2015 lost 30, 40 percent of their wealth in that collapse and so, will we see another one? I don’t necessarily think we will. I want to think that they’ll be more prudent. But all the games that we expected before the end of the year have already been taken off the table in the Shanghai Composite.


CNA: Thank you for sharing your time and your thoughts with us. That was Tony Nash, Founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence.