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QuickHit: What China is thinking right now?

China expert Chris Balding joins us this week for #QuickHit to discuss “What China is thinking right now?” What is the state of the Chinese economy? Are they really doing well in Covid? How about the deleveraging process, is that even real? And what’s happening to CNY? Also talked about are the politics around China especially how it relates to Afghanistan.

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on August 24, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this Sentiment has soured: How will governments and companies respond? (Part 1) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us for another QuickHit. My name is Tony Nash with Complete Intelligence. Today we’re talking with Christopher Balding about what is China thinking now.

 

Chris, thanks for joining us. Can you let us know a few things about yourself? Give us a little background?

 

CB: Sure. I was a professor at Peking University in China for nine years and then two years in Vietnam at the Fulbright University Vietnam. And today I am a super genius in the United States.

 

TN: Yes, you are. Thanks for taking the time, Chris. You’re one of the very few people I know who’ve actually had on the ground experience in China with a Chinese government organization.

 

So I think it’s really important to go to people like you, who had experience like you to understand what kind of China or the Chinese government is thinking now. Of course, it’s not monolithic. There are a lot of different opinions, but it’s good to have that insider’s view.

 

So I want to start off as we look at where we are in COVID, we’re a year and a half into it, depending on the school of thought, maybe it did or didn’t start in China, but we hear that Chinese economy is doing great and they’ve come out of COVID really well, all these other things. I’m really curious your view on the state of the Chinese economy right now. And what are Chinese economic planners thinking right now as they kind of potentially go into year two of Covid.

 

CB: So I think there is a couple of highlights out of the Chinese economy. First of all is that they’ve resorted to the pretty similar playbook that they go back to every year, which is pump credit, pump construction and infrastructure type spending.

 

In the early part of this year, we saw a significant amounts of credit growth. That’s softened as we’ve moved into summertime. That’s primarily due to because there’s a very clear summer and fall building season that allows builders in China to do things because the weather becomes inclement in significant parts of the year. And then if you add in the Corona backlog, that kind of is essentially almost trying to put two years of expected growth into one year.

 

We actually saw a lot of that. And that front loaded a lot of the credit and demand for things like commodities. This is why you’ve seen such demand for things like coal and steel, which were quite high. We’ve seen that soften as firms built their inventory and really ramped up during the summer building season as the demand for credit has softened and some of the building has actually been undertaken. You’ve seen a softening of that which has caused you’ve already seen talk of maybe there’s going to be unleashing or the economy is a little bit softer than the planners would like. So there’s talk of unleashing some additional credit growth trying to stimulate different parts of the economy. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

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Generally speaking, the rule is, if there’s a debate about whether or not they’re going to unleash credit growth, I would definitely take the over.

 

TN: By about three times. Right. So one of the interesting things you mentioned is that you said that they expended credit in the early part of this year. But what I read from investment banks and what I’ve read from other people who look at China is that China just underwent this big deleveraging process. Is that real? I’m just not sure, because I see on one side that there’s this talk about deleveraging, but my gut tells me it may not necessarily be happening. Is it happening, or is it something that’s just happening on paper or what’s your view?

 

CB: It’s tough to understand the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics and PBOC’s math as to how they arrived at that, because if you’re just running more generalized numbers, it’s very clear that debt at all levels has continued to outpace GDP. So it’s very difficult to understand how they’re estimating a leveraging. And it’s important to note that we did not see, let’s say, the rapid, rapid expansion of economic growth that you saw, for instance, in the United States.

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And what I mean by that is, whereas any United States, maybe growth went from two or three to 5% relative, almost doubling, you know. You probably saw Chinese growth go for maybe like 5% last year to seven or 8% with the Corona boost where you have that base effect. And so you didn’t see it go to, like, 10, 12, 15% that you might have seen if it had really in relative terms, they doubled from the previous year.

 

And so it’s very difficult to understand how they arrive at those deleveraging numbers. And as we all know, China is famous for fudging their numbers. So it’s very difficult to understand how they’re arriving at those numbers.

 

TN: Right. No, I agree. I haven’t believed it when I’ve heard it, but I kind of nod along as if it’s real. But I think, you know, the Chinese economic data a lot more intimately than I do, but I just don’t see where it’s happening, where it’s actually materializing instead of just being debt transfers.

 

Okay. So earlier you said that Chinese economy is slowing. Now, from my perspective, that’s worrisome partly because you’re going into a big export season, and we’ve got some ports that are stopped up. We’ve also got an election next year with Xi Jinping being reelected, whether that’s in square quotes or not, but Xi Jinping being reelected next year.

 

In terms of the resources put towards stimulus this time around, do you expect that to be more intensive than normal?

 

CB: Typically, what you see. And you saw this the first time Xi was elected, you saw this second time Xi was elected. What you typically see is a pretty significant boost to fiscal outlays. And so I think if history is any guide, I think you’re probably going to see going in the fall and the first of year, it’s very, very likely you’re going to see some type of significant boost to fiscal outlays. And this pattern goes back many, many years well before Xi that when there are these elections. And I’m not sure if it’s a scare quotes or air quotes, but both seem to…

 

TN: Yeah.

 

CB: So I think it is very, very likely that you’re likely to see that. And one of the things I think that a lot of people have missed out on is yes, there were absolutely corporate, let’s say, bailouts or corporate funds for Corona. But one of the things is that in the United States, there were the large amounts of transfers directly to households. China has not enjoyed those transfers directly to households.

 

And so actually, consumer spending in China is actually pretty soft. And those are buying inflated data standards. And so I think that is something that is very important to note when we’re talking about the health of the Chinese consumer.

 

TN: Yep. That’s great. Okay. So I also want to talk about the supply chain issues. And I was just reading a story today about how Pudong Airport has been shut down. Cargo on Pudong Airport is going to be much slower for a period of time because of anothe Covid outbreak. This sort of thing. Do you see ongoing port capacity issues related to COVID? Is that something that you’re kind of concerned about?

 

CB: I think that is something that you’re going to be seeing for definitely the foreseeable future. And I should say it’s not just China. You’re seeing a lot of this in other parts of the world that I know, specifically Vietnam, the Middle East. I’ve heard of similar things in Europe where they are just straining at capacity. Sometimes it’s due to COVID shut down. Sometimes it’s due to other issues. But absolutely, these are issues that I think are not going away anytime soon.

 

And it is, I mean one of the debates in the United States right now is transitory or structural inflation. And I think, not to be capping out on the issue, but I do think it is kind of a mix of both. And I think the supply chain issues don’t be surprised if we’re looking at very likely two years before all these issues are really worked through, because when people went to, let’s say, just in time or contract manufacturing, what that did is that gave you less wiggle room. So you did not just have a massive warehouse of supply that you inventory, and then you could draw down as necessary where it would give you three months to make a mistake. Now people were essentially saying, I got one week of inventory, and if that one week gets shot, I’m in deep trouble.

 

So the chips are, there’s chips, there’s car, there’s Corona shutdowns, there’s capacity issues at some ports. And so it’s going to take a couple of years, probably to work through all these issues to return to what we think of as some degree of normalcy.

 

TN: Right. What’s interesting to me about that is the previous administration of the US tried to bring manufacturing businesses back to the US.

 

Now, with COVID because of the global supply chain issues and the intermittent supply issues, there’s more of a move to bring things back, at least to North America. I know lots going into Mexico right now. Some’s going into the US to minimize the disruption of things, especially in electronic supply chain.

 

So it seems like regardless of the kind of official policy, whether it’s trade policy or just say public health policy, it looks like more of this regionalization is happening. Does that make sense to you?

 

CB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look, nobody is going to announce that they’re leaving China for many reasons. But nobody’s going to announce that they’re leaving China. But you do absolutely see a spread of manufacturing capabilities.

 

Whether that is because they want to have multiple manufacturing bases, they want to be more diversified, whether it’s because of IT issues, whether it’s because of Corona risks, tariffs, all of these issues, there is absolutely increasing diversification of manufacturing capabilities, whether it’s Mexico, India, Malaysia, all of these different places. You’ve even seen Africa doing relatively well in certain areas. So it has absolutely happened.

 

TN: Okay. One last question on the economy then we’ll move to kind of politics and China’s place in the world. What’s the thought behind the elevated CNY? We’re trading much higher than we have for a long time, and it stayed there, right? It’s pegged right around 6.4 something, and it’s been there since Q1, I think. Why the persistent strength in CNY?

 

CB: Well, I mean, I think first of all, they have been running during Corona pretty significant surpluses. The United States has exports to China and other parts of the world have declined, not insignificantly or remained flat as we’re importing a lot more. That’s number one.

 

I think also the dollar has gone into a specific range. And the way that I think of the CNY is it’s basically just a reverse USB tracker, which I think explains most of what we’re seeing. I think what they’re trying to do and the reason that China has been buying some dollars, not in major amounts, but I think they kind of have, like, ICBC and CCB, those types of banks acting as dollar cushions for lack of a better term, is that they don’t want it to appreciate too much for a number of reasons, because they know they’ve become more expensive and that would just make it that much more expensive. So in a way, I think they’re trying to manage that, manage that flow. But I think it’s still generally within a range where it’s like you can say they’re within spitting distance of what their index say they should be. Okay, that’s fair.

This chart of USD/CNY is generated from CI Futures, an app forecasting nearly a thousand assets across currencies, commodities, market indices, and economics using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Curious how it can you and your business? Book a time with our expert and get free trial.

 

 

 

TN: Okay. Now let’s move on to politics. Let’s move on to kind of China’s big, long term, multi hundred year plan to rule the world, which I think is not real.

 

So let’s talk about Afghanistan. This just happened over the last couple of weeks, and there’s a few that China is going to be the master winner of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think there are multiple perspectives on that, but the consensus view seems to be that the US really did had to job on the withdrawal. And the ultimate winner of this is China. Can you kind of walk me through some of your views on that? What are some of the possibilities there with China and Afghanistan?

 

CB: Sure. So I think it is very fair to say that the United States has pretty badly bungled the withdrawal. You know, why, you know, we should have waited until we’d already evacuated all the army to say we’re going to start evacuating US citizens and Afghani translators and people like that.

 

One of the things I do think is absolutely happening. And this is not just China. And you’ve heard this from country after country. Taiwan, Germany, UK on down is they are saying we need to go back to the drawing board and re evaluate everything we think we know.

 

Okay. And somebody that I was talking to, I think, expressed it very well is the United States still has credibility because we can move large amounts of assets, whether it’s military, governmental, other private sector, we can bring significant assets and influence to the table. What, this has really changed in a lot of people’s minds is confidence.

 

TN: Yes. That’s fair.

 

CB: That has changed a lot of people’s mind. So you have a lot of people going back to the drawing board. One of the things I’m going to be a little bit hesitant to do is start pronouncing winners, losers, and this is what XYZ country is going to do in ABC country is going to do. And the reason I say that is it’s very, very plausible to construct a scenario where the Taliban and the CCP become BFFs. Okay?

 

TN: Sure.

 

CB: I mean, if China is shipping large amounts of fentanyl out of northeast China, it’s not a crazy scenario to say they partner with the Taliban to start shipping large amounts of opium into the United States at the same time.

 

TN: Sure.

 

CB: Not a crazy scenario. It’s also not a crazy scenario for the Taliban to start bombing China within a year or two. Okay. You could very easily construct those types of scenarios that lead to that. Okay. So it’s very, very difficult to construct those types of scenarios with any what I would consider a degree of certainty. Okay?

 

TN: Sure. So what about the, the China-Pakistan relationship? $46 billion of investment, supposedly, supposedly a tight relationship there. That’s arguable. Do you think that pays dividends in Afghanistan, or is that kind of something that’s a little bit, I wouldn’t say irrelevant, but a little bit less directly connected.

 

CB: So I think Pakistan is actually very pretty directly involved in all of this. But again, it’s very difficult to say with a high degree of certainty what’s happening there because Pakistan has very direct connections into both the Taliban, Al Qaeda. Some would even say that they were a Pakistani security service creation. At the same time, it’s well known that there are blood feuds between groups within each of those organizations.

 

So it’s very difficult to get to say exactly who the winner, loser there. With regards to China and Pakistan, one of the things that you’ve seen very clearly is that pretty much the Pakistani government and the Pakistani elites are effectively compromised by China. They will say nothing about wingers and other issues.

 

At the same time, everything, I think indicative on the ground and of the mass population is that there is maybe not extreme, but I would say broad discontent with the Pakistani relationship with China for many reasons.

 

TN: From who and Pakistan? Is it from the armed forces? Is it from other parts of the government, from regular folks who isn’t happy with that relationship?

 

CB: I think a lot of folks broadly. The business community. I think there’s a growing sense that they are effectively a Chinese colony. One Pakistani I know who described it as such. So I think there is very broad discontent. And as we all know, Pakistan has quite the lengthy history of governmental instability.

 

So similar to what you’ve seen in other countries in the region, it’s very easy to paint a picture, a scenario where the current government remains compromised and under the thumb of the CCP for years to come. I think it’s also plausible that a new government or some type of political instability happens in Pakistan. And all of a sudden, there’s an about face on how to manage relationships with China.

 

Generally speaking, though, I think there is going to be very tight coordination between Beijing, Islamabad and Kabul because those… Pakistan, I mean, almost anything that happens in Afghanistan is going to be maybe not controlled by Pakistan. I think that overstate it. But there’s going to be large amounts of information flows and influence back and forth happens over what happens in Afghanistan.

 

TN: Yeah. Okay. That’s all really interesting. I think we could spend a long time talking about China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Russia, kind of where all those countries come together, Central Asia. But I want to end on this.

 

We’ve seen, a lot really changed with US standing in the world over the past couple of weeks over Afghanistan. We’ve seen a lot change in the US China relationship over the past year with the new administration. And so let’s talk for a minute about the overall US China relationship. What’s your thought there? Are they getting along? Is there a constructive dialogue? How do issues like Taiwan fit within that discussion? Can you just help me think about some of your thoughts there?

 

CB: So I was talking to someone, and I think they put succinctly the way that I would characterize the Biden administration’s record on China. You can’t criticize them for what they’ve done on China because they really haven’t done anything at all. Okay. Other than adding a couple of names to the Sanctiosn books, there really has not anything taken place.

 

They promised that they were going to get out their China strategy plan in June. Then there were rumblings that might happen in July, where now at almost rapidly approaching September 1. And now there’s not even talk of when it might be released. So really, nothing has been happened except for the Alaska meeting, which apparently went over like a lead balloon.

 

Everything right now just seems to be a stalemate. And the Biden administration is worrying, and that China is still moving forward, and the Biden administration is basically doing nothing.

 

The most telling point to me about the by administration approach, and I think this is something I think you should fault in. In fairness, Trump for is look, we can talk about values and do the right thing and all this kind of good stuff. But the United States, at some point has to actually put resources into this effort.

 

And the Trump administration, other than political capital with allies or other countries, never put any real hard resources or assets into these issues. And the point I would make is the Biden administration has made a point of spending literally trillions of dollars. And to the best of my knowledge, there has been almost zero spending passed that has really anything to do with China. Okay.

 

We cannot continue to talk to countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan. You cannot talk about the threat China poses and never spend any money on the issue.

 

TN: Sure.

 

CB: Okay. And look, this doesn’t have to mean we go out and increase military spending by 20%. This could simply mean we’re going to go into Vietnam and say, we want to have a development program and, you know, help solve issues. This can mean capitalizing the Development Finance Corporation to help countries like India and Malaysia and say, look, there is a real opportunity that does not involve the Belt and Road, where there’s going to be green standards or these non-corrupt standards and things like this to make sure that this money is really helping your country. You know, and it was probably something that was negotiated could be all the way back to the Obama administration.

 

There was some type of military center opened in, I believe, Jakarta with the Indonesian government that was supposed to have other governments. It’s a small center. Even those types of things. There’s simply not the resources being dedicated. And I think that’s indicative of where this ranks within the Biden administration priorities.

 

TN: I’ll be honest, Chris, it sounds like a mess. It sounds pretty bleak to me.

 

So great. I really appreciate this. I think if anybody knows has an idea of what China is thinking, I think you’re the guy. And I really, really appreciate your time.

 

Everyone watching. Please please subscribe to our YouTube channel. The more we have, the more we can bring to you as a part of our videos. And, Chris, thank you so much. And thanks to everyone. We’ll see you on the next interview. Thanks.

Categories
QuickHit

Sentiment has soured: How will governments and companies respond? (Part 2)

In this second part, Sam and Marko discussed possible tapering, what can the government do to help private companies, how the consumer sentiment is looking right now, what should you do with your investment in this Delta variant scare? Are vaccines really effective? And what is this thing that the Biden administration needs to do right or they’ll be dead?

 

Please go here for the first part. 

 

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

💌 Subscribe to CI Newsletter and gain AI-driven intelligence.

📊 Forward-looking companies become more profitable with Complete Intelligence. The only fully automated and globally integrated AI platform for smarter cost and revenue planning. Book a demo here.

📈 Check out the CI Futures platform to forecast currencies, commodities, and equity indices

 

This QuickHit episode was recorded on August 19, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this Sentiment has soured: How will governments and companies respond? (Part 1) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: Sounds like both of you agree that China is going to do more stimulus. I think they’re late. I think they should have started five or six months ago. But better now than never. Right. So it sounds to me like you believe that there will be the beginning of a taper, maybe a small beginning of a taper late this year. Is that fair to say?

 

SR: Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that there will be some form of taper. Okay. I don’t know, even if it’s just rhetoric, as we move into 2022, at least with what we know right now, I don’t think they should. But what I think they should do and what they’re likely to do are two wildly different things.

 

TN: So even if it say 10 billion a month, which is nothing compared to the entire kind of stimulus, monetary stimulus are doing right now, that would have a dramatic sentimental chain. Is that your view?

 

SR: Yes. So it’s all about that incremental change in Cinnamon. It’s not about the incremental change in the addition to the portfolio.

 

TN: Right. Marko, are you the same? Do you think there’s a change in the sentiment of the Fed and there’s going to be a move toward tapering late in the year?

 

MP: I mean, I think tapering happened in June at the FRC meeting. And so that’s… Because that’s when the Fed incrementally turned hawkish. The DXY dropped quite significantly after the meeting. So I think that the risk in your view is that a lot of the things that we’re talking about right now have been slowly priced in over a period of time. And while oil prices and S&P 500 haven’t really corrected to this view reality. You know, so S&P 500 is reaching a new high, except for the last two days. Oil prices have started to come down finally.

 

 

 

 

Brent Crude Oil
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Now the 10-year has actually been pretty stable through the last couple of weeks worth of volatility. And that tells me a couple of things. I think the bottom market price, a lot of the things we’re talking about already. The second issue is that fiscal policy is really tricky when we talk about it.

CBOT 10-year US Treasury Note
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And here’s what I mean. 1953 we had a fiscal cliff recession after the Korean War. But that’s because the fiscal cliff was very clean, very simple. We spend a lot of money on bullet casings and tanks and airplanes during the Korean War, and then that fiscal spend stayed on the Korean Peninsula. We couldn’t take it back with us in 1953. In other words, we got a fiscal cliff recession.

 

This time around, the 1.9 trillion, you know, fiscal stimulus we had earlier this year, that actually, in a curial mathematical terms, shows up as a huge fiscal cliff next year. But that actually lives on on household balance sheets. And so that’s where I would say that like, let’s see how the Delta variant issue resolves itself, because in one month, here’s what I know.

 

I know the savings rate in the United States, the personal savings rate is still elevated at 9.6%. I know that revolving credit is going through the roof, and the households are re-leveraging themselves in a way that they have it for ten years. The US consumer is acting in the ways they acted in the 90s and 2000s.

 

If you look at household debt, percent of GDP, you got this long period of deleveraging for the past ten years. And now it’s coming back up. And so to me, that’s where I think the fiscal cliff of next year is overstated. And the reason that even a ten year fiscal package matters is because you’re talking about a ten-year bond. If I’m going to hold a ten-year bond, that on the back end of that 10-year, there is Trump tax cut level of unnecessary fiscal stimulus.

 

Let me say that again, what this fiscal spend right now is going to produce a similar procyclical fiscal thrust that we had during the Trump administrations in the last two years, through doc cuts, this time through infrastructure spending. That’s going to create a modest fiscal thrust, positive fiscal thrust for the duration of the asset that you’re holding. And I think that the market will still have to respond to that, even though next year there’s no way to avoid mathematical fiscal flip.

 

TN: Interesting. So. All of these things together, just going back to the reason I initially contacted you guys. I was hearing companies telling me that their Q3 revenues were really, they were downgrading them, and they’re really worried about their performance in Q3. And I think we’ve seen that or I’ve seen it anecdotally.

 

We saw tourism not necessarily be what we thought it would be. We’ve seen a lot of things happen that we didn’t really think would happen over the summer or not happen that we thought would happen. So how are you seeing these policies or how do you expect these policies to manifest at the company level? And when do you expect them to help companies to move forward?

 

MP: Well, I don’t think any policies will help companies. I think what will help companies is once Covid cases go down, and people kind of stop being afraid of the Delta wave.

 

Right now, if you look at hotel stocks. Hotel stocks are back through, like November 20th level, like they’re back to pre-Pfizer result levels. And I think that that’s a great investment opportunity. I would be long COVID place right now because, you know, the data from Israel, the data from Iceland, the data from a lot of different places that are fully, almost fully vaccinated are pretty clear, which is that vaccinated people can absolutely get Covid, and very few of them have adverse effects. The efficiency is actually at very high levels. A lot of people misinterpret, a lot of people… Sorry, the media is misinterpreting the data. And once you account for age disparities and so on, the efficiency here is like in the 90s.

 

TN: So it’s amazing.

 

MP: Yeah. Look, it’s a simple fact. Now that’s going to take some time as Sam said, I think that’s going to be articulating the data for the next month. I think that you have a great entry point into the Covid place right now. And I don’t think that any of the policies we’re really talking about are going to have much of an effect on earnings over the next quarter.

 

TN: I’ll give you a data point that I was looking at earlier today. Texas right now has the same number of cases that it had in Feb of ’21. Okay. But the daily fatalities are 60% lower than they were in Feb. Okay. So the case counts are just as high, but the fatalities are dramatically lower. And that’s good news, right.

 

Texas Covid cases and fatalities

 

MP: Look, Tony, I would study really the case of Israel, because if you study the overall numbers in Israel, you come up with a figure. I think it’s 60% effectiveness for Pfizer, which is lower than advertising, but that’s actually a mathematical concept called a Sisyphus paradox.

 

And what’s happening is that we need to segregate the different age cohorts not just average them together.

 

TN: That’s right.

 

MP: You know, because the elderly tends to be more vaccinated. You have a larger pool of older people who tend to have received a vaccine. They also tend to go to a hospital more often with a respiratory disease, even though they’re vaccinated.

 

So you can’t just average everyone together. The actual vaccine efficacy is in the 90s for all cohorts. Except in the 80s for some of the much older, over 80. It’s, like, about 80% effective. And so, yeah, I think a lot of this is… You know where I want to compare Covid to? And I think Sam will appreciate this. I compared it to the Euro area crisis.

 

You could have made a call in 2010 that this thing was over. Like once Germany like bit the bullet and bailed out Greece the first time? Like it was over, guys. But every time a new country showed up, he was like, Whoa. Here goes Portugal. Oh, my God! The world’s gonna end! And it’s like, similarly COVID, like, we know where we’re headed. Like, every wave is gonna cause sentiment issues and so on. But I would just bet against those.

 

TN: That’s a good call. I like that. I like the optimism there, and I like the perspective there. I think that’s really interesting. Sam, what do you think?

 

SR: I think there’s a combination of two things. One, I think Marco is 100%, right? That this is an awful lot like the Euro area crisis. Every single time, like Greece was the first big bang. Then you had the ripple effect to Portugal. Then it was Spain. And everybody was wondering what the next set of fall was and had the correction of 2011. That was fun. You had these longer term kind of ripples.

 

I think there’s going to continue to be ripples this time around. And the question is in my mind, it’s really difficult to predict what people sentiment around those ripples are going to be. I think we can look through them for the next five to ten years and say it’s all going to be fine. This is the way it’s going to play out.

 

The real question is, how does the American consumer mindset, how does that actually grasp this ripple to move through it? And how does China react? How does Europe react? Right. There’s a number of factors that play in here, but I think the really difficult and maybe not as priced in as they should be. To Marco’s point. I think this is a really long term, very strange kind of predicament that we’re in where vaccines are really good. They work really, really well.

 

How do people’s minds begin to grasp it? And do they begin to look through? We get the higher vaccine rates? Do we really power through this in a meaningful way, very, very quickly, or does it continue to be highly volatile on the consumer sentiment front? Because if consumer sentiment continues to fall, it’s going to be a big problem for the back half of this year. And that I mean. It’s kind of…

 

TN: We’re right there at the back there in the back half of the year, right? That. This is a terrible time for consumer sentiment to fall because we’re at the precipice of kind of holiday season buying. Not quite there yet, but if it stays for two more months, it gets pretty bad.

 

SR: It does get pretty bad. But I think this is also one of those points that I think could really be a tailwind to Marko’s earlier comments about fiscal stimulus and fiscal stimulus being higher than anticipated. You continue to have consumer sentiment fall. You continue to have people fearful of Delta, you have a couple of bad job prints, and all of a sudden you’re going to have much higher fiscal spend. You’re going to have a very dovish Fed.

 

TN: Right.

 

SR: I think that’s the risk to call it “the market.” That’s the risk to kind of my side of Marko and I’s bet is if all of a sudden this fear actually really ingrains itself within individuals, it’s going to be a huge, huge issue as we move into the Christmas buying season for companies, Christmas buying season for consumers, and you’re going to get big checks written out of Washington, regardless of the geopolitical situation, regardless of whether or not people want to say Biden might be lame duck because of Afghanistan, etc.

 

All of a sudden you’re going to have a Fed that’s very concerned, thinking it was a ripping economy with incredible inflation that wasn’t going anywhere. You’re going to have them reverse very, very quickly. You’re going to have senators on both sides of the aisle very concerned that they just, they might get blamed for a recession.

 

It’s going to be a really interesting queue for.

 

TN: It is.

 

MP: That’s why it’s a dynamic environment. Right. And and what I would say is like, look, I have certainty on the Delta wave. Certainty. Every wave we’ve had has crested, other than in emerging markets because their testing is poor. So it’s actually a mega wave that we constantly think is over, but it isn’t.

 

In the US we know how the story plays up. We know it. It’s a four to six week wave. The challenge here Tony, is that we’re talking in the middle of this wave. We have probably another two to three weeks of upswing, and then we’re going to have a down swing in cases. And by the way, I know this with a science, like, a hundred percent certainty because we had waves collapse even before we had vaccines.

 

So this is a really important point, because if the Fed reacts to something that is extremely impermanent, something that’s over in three weeks, if the Fed at Jacksonhole and subsequently in September waivers, you know, I mean, that will just set, I think the market alight, in my view. I think that will collapse the dollar and they will sell the bond, because it will have been using this, you know, temporary blip in sentiments to justify a changing course.

 

The other thing I would say is, like, so Sam mention Afghanistan. I think he’s right to mention it. I think it’s really significant, and it’s significant because of this. I think… I’ve always expected that during the summer, the fiscal policy would get much more challenging. And now, because of the Republicans, I think moderate Democrats in the Senate versus progressive Democrats in the House were always going to try to eat each other alive.

 

But now, with this utter failure in Afghanistan, that looks really, really bad, they are going to circle the wagons on fiscal calls because the last remaining, the last remaining lever of the Biden administration is this fiscal package. If they don’t get it through, guys. Yeah. The Biden administration is done. And I mean, I’m not talking about midterms either. So they have to do something on fiscal. Right.

 

So this is why the stakes have now become much higher. They’re gonna pay Mansion. They’re gonna pay Cinema. They’re gonna get deep water ports in Arizona and West Virginia to get their compliant with a fiscal deal. You know what I mean? Like, there’s gonna be so much more. I wish I was living in West Virginia. I mean, they’re gonna have ice rinks in every little town. It’s gonna be amazing.

 

And so this is something to keep in mind, I think on that front, too. So I agree with Sam. I think it’s a really good point of how these things are very dynamic and they reinforce each other. And I just think that the political pack of lease resistance in every single issue we’re talking about here leads to more profligacy.

 

TN: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think at least for the near term, that’s the bias, is exactly in that direction.

 

Okay. Guys. Thank you so much. Again, I think we could go on for hours with this, and I love this discussion, but I really appreciate your time.

 

For everyone who’s watching. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we need a few more subscribers to bring you a few more capabilities on our channel. If you don’t mind, please subscribe.

 

And Sam and Marko. Really appreciate your time. Thanks very much.

 

MP: Thank you. Thank you.

 

TN: Let’s do it again, and I want to come back in January and see who wins.

 

MP: Yeah, sure. We should definitely do that. We didn’t tell people when we been into, but it’s like a really nice steak dinner, I think was the… If the 10-year is at like between one point 49 and one point 51, I think we just…

Categories
QuickHit

Sentiment has soured: How will governments and companies respond? (Part 1)

Companies are saying that the Q3 revenues will be down a bit. What’s really happening and how long will this last? Chief Economist for Avalon Advisors, Sam Rines, and a returning guest answers that with our first-time guest Marko Papic, the chief strategist for Clocktower Group.

 

In addition, both the Michigan Consumer Sentiment and the NY Manufacturing survey down as well. Watch what the experts are seeing and what they think might happen early in 2022.

 

Watch Part 2 here. 

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on August 19, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this Sentiment has soured: How will governments and companies respond? (Part 1) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: So I guess we’ve started to see some negative news come in with the Michigan Consumer Sentiment with the New York Manufacturing Survey and other things. Most recently, we had some of the housing sentiment information come in. And I’ve heard companies talk about their revenues for Q3 will be down a bit. And so I wanted to talk to you guys to say, are we at a turning point? What’s really happening and how long do you expect it to last? Marko, why don’t you let us know what your observation is, kind of what you’re seeing?

 

MP: Well, I think that, you know, the bull market has been telling us that we were going to have an intra cyclical blip, hiccup, interregnum, however you want to call it since really March. And there’s, like, really three reasons for this. One, the expectations of fiscal policy peaked in March. Since then, the market has been pricing it less and less expansion of fiscal deficits. Two Chinese have been engaged in deleveraging, really, since the end of Q4 last year, and that started showing up in the data also on March, April, May.

 

And then the final issue is that the big topic right now is something we’ve been focused on for a while, too, which is this handover from goods to services, which is really problematic for the economy. We had the surge of spending on goods, and now we all expected a YOLO summer where everybody got to YOLO. It really happened.

 

I mean, it kind of did. Things were okay but, that handoff from good services was always gonna be complicated, anyways. And so I’m going to stop there because then I can tell you where I stand and going forward. But I think that’s what’s happening now and what I would be worried about. And I really want to know what Sam thinks about this is that the bull market been telling you this since March. There’s some assets that were kind of front load. The one asset that hasn’t really is S&P 500, as kind of ignored these issues.

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TN: Right. Sam, what are you seeing and what do you think?

 

SR: Yeah, I’ll jump in on the third point that Marko made, which is that handoff from services or from goods to services. That did not go as smoothly as was planned or as thought by many. And I don’t think it’s going to get a whole lot better here. You have two things kind of smacking you in the face at the moment. That is University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment and the expectations. Neither of those came in fantastically. Today isn’t great. Tomorrow isn’t expected to be great.

 

Part of that is probably the Delta variant, depending on what part of the country you’re in, that is really beginning to become an issue. Not necessarily, I mean, it’s nowhere near as big of an issue as COVID was for death and mortality in call it 2020. But it’s a significant hit to the consumer’s mindset. Right?

 

And I think that’s the part, what really matters is how people are thinking about it. And if people are thinking about it in a fear mode, that is going to constrain their switch from goods to services and the switch from goods to services over time is necessary for the economy to begin growing again at a place that is both sustainable and is somewhat elevated. But at this point, it’s really difficult to see exactly where that catalyst is going to come come from, how it’s going to actually materialize in a way that we can get somewhat excited about and begin to actually become a driver of employment. We do need that hand off to services to drive employment numbers higher.

 

And what we really need is a combination of employment numbers going higher, GDP being sustainably elevated to get bond rates higher. So I think Marko’s point on what the treasury market is telling us should not be discounted in any way whatsoever.

 

The treasury market is telling us we’re not exactly going to a 4% growth rate with elevated inflation.

 

United States GDP Annual Growth Rate
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TN: Right.

 

SR: It’s telling us we’re going to something between Japan and Germany at this point.

 

TN: Yeah. That’s what I’m a bit worried about. And with the consumer sentiment especially, I’m a bit worried about sticky sentiment where we have this Delta variant or other expectations, and they remain on the downside, even if there are good things happening.

 

Do you guys share those worries, or do you think maybe the Michigan survey was a blip?

 

SR: Oh, I’ll just jump in for 1 minute. I don’t think it was a blip at all. I think what people should be very concerned about at this point is what the next reading is. That reading did not include the collapse of Afghanistan. It did not include any sort of significant geopolitical risk that is going to be significant for a number of Americans.

 

Again, it’s kind of like Covid. It might not affect the economy much. It’s going to affect the psyche of America significantly as we move forward. And if consumer sentiment were to pick up in the face of what we’ve seen over the last few days, I would be pretty shocked.

 

TN: It would be remarkable. Marko, what do you think about that?

 

MP: So I’m going to take the other side of this because I have a bet on with Sam, and the bet is, by the end of the year, I’m betting the 10-year is going to be closer to 2%. He’s betting it’s going to be closer to 1%. So he’s been winning for a long time, but we settled the bet January 1, 2022.

CBOT 10-year US Treasury Note
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Here’s why I think I would take the other side of a lot of the things, like when we think about where we’re headed. So first, I think there’s three things I’m looking at. There’s really four things. But the fourth is the Fed. And I’m going to like Sam talk about that because he knows a lot more than I do. The first three things I’m looking at is, as I said, there are reasons that the bond market has rallied. And I think a lot of these reasons were baked in the cake for the past six months, or at least since March.

 

The first and foremost is China. And China is no longer deleveraged. The July 30th Politburo meeting clearly had a policy shift, but I would argue that that been the case since April 30. They’ve been telling us they are going to step off the break. And, quite frankly, I don’t need them to search infrastructure spending a lot. I don’t need them to do a lot of LGFB. I just need them to stop the leverage. And so they’re doing that.

 

And the reason they’re doing that is fundamentally the same reason they crack down on tech. And it has to do with the fact that Xi Jinping has to win an election next year. Yeah. And an election. It’s not a clear cut deal. He’s going to extend his term for another five years. CCP, The Chinese Communist Party is a multi sort of variant entity, and he has to sell his peers in the communist party that the economy is going to be stable.

 

And so we expect there to be a significant policy shift in China. So one of the sort of bond bullish economic bearish variables is shifting. The second is fiscal policy. Remember I mentioned that in March, investors basically started, like the expectations of further deficit increases, basically whittle down. This was also expected.

 

The summer period was also going to be one during which the negotiations over the next fiscal package were going to get very difficult. I would use the analog of 2017. Throughout the summer of 2017, everybody lost faith in tax cuts by the Trump administration. And that’s because fundamentally, investors are very poor at forecasting fiscal policy. And I think it has to do with the fact that we’re overly focused on monetary policy. We’re very comfortable with the way that monetary policy uses forward guidance.

 

I mean, think about it. Central bankers bend over backwards to tell us what you’re going to do in 2023. Fiscal policy is a product of game theory, its product of backstabbing, its product of using the media to increase the cost of collaboration, of cooperation. And so I think that by the end of the year, we will get more physical spending. I think the net deficit contribution will be about $2 trillion, the net contribution to deficit, which is on the high end. If you look at Wall Street, most people think 500 billion to a trillion, I would take double of that.

 

And then the final issue is the Delta. Delta is going to be like any other wave that we’ve had is going to dissipate in a couple of weeks. And also on top of that, the data is very, very robust. If you’re vaccinated, you’re good. Now, I agree with everything Sam has said. Delta has been relevant. It has, you know, made it difficult to transition from goods to services, but it will dissipate. Vaccines work. People with just behavior. So.

 

TN: Let me go back to the first thing you mentioned, Marko, is you mentioned China will have a new policy environment. What does that look like to you?

 

MP: There’s going to be more monetary policy support, for sure. So they’ve already, the PBOC has basically already told us they’re going to do an interest rate cut and another RRR cut by the end of the year. Also, they are going to make it easier for infrastructure spending to happen. Only about 20-30% of all bonds, local government bonds have been issued relative to where we should be in the year. I don’t think we’re going to get to 100%. But they could very well double what they issued thus far in eight months over the next four months.

 

So does this mean that you should necessarily be like long copper? No, I don’t think so. They’re not going to stimulate like crazy. The analogy I’m using is that the Chinese policy makers have been pressing on a break, really, since the recovery of Covid in second half of 2020. They’ve been pressing on the breaks for a number of reasons, political, leverage reasons, blah, blah, blah. They’re not going to ease off of that break. That’s an important condition for global economy to stabilize.

 

Thus far, China has actually been a head wind to global growth. They’ve been benefiting from exports, you know, because we’ve been basically buying too many goods. They know the handoff from goods to services is going to happen. Goods consumption is going to go down. That’s going to hurt their exports. On top of that, they have this political catalyst where Xi Jinping wants to ease into next year with economy stable.

 

Plus, they’ve just cracked down on their tech sector. They’re doing regulatory policy. They have problems in the infrastructure and real estate sectors. And so we expect that they will stimulate the economy. Think about it that way. Much more actively than they have thus far.

 

TN: Great. Okay. That’s good news. It’s very good news. Sam?

 

SR: Yeah. So the only push back that I would give to Marko and it’s not really pushback, given his assessment, because I agree with 99% of what he’s saying. But the one place that I think is being overlooked is, one thing is the fiscal policy with 2 trillion is great, but that’s probably spread over five to ten years, and therefore it’s cool. But it’s not that big of a deal when it comes to the treasury market or to the economic growth rate on a one-year basis. It’s not going to move the needle as much as the middle of COVID.

 

TN: Let me ask. Sorry to interrupt you. But when you say that’s going to take five to ten years, when we think about things like the PPP program isn’t even fully utilized. A lot of this fiscal that’s been approved over the last year isn’t fully utilized. So when these things pass and you say it’s going to take five to ten years, there’s the sentiment of the bill passing. But then there’s the reality of the spend. Right. And so you just take a random infrastructure multiplier of 1.6 and apply it.

 

There’s an expectation that that three and a half trillion or whatever number happens, two trillion, whatever will materialize in the next year. But it’s not. It’s a partial of it over the next, say, at least half a decade. Is that fair to say?

 

SR: Correct? Yeah. Which is great. It’s better than nothing in terms of a catalyst to the economy. The key for me is it’s not being borrowed all at once. It’s not being spent all at once. Right.

 

If it was a $2 trillion infrastructure package to be spent in 2022, I would lose my bet to Marko in a heartbeat. It would be a huge lose for me, and I would just pay up. But I would caution to a certain degree, it’s $200 billion a year isn’t that big of a deal to the US economy, right. That’s a very de minimis. Sounds like a big number, but it’s rather de minimis to the overall scale of what the US economy is.

 

And you incorporate that on top of a Federal Reserve that’s likely to begin pulling back, or at least intimate heavily that they’re going to begin pulling back incremental stimulus or incremental stimulus by the end of 2021 and 2022. And all of a sudden you have a pretty hawkish kind of outlook for the US economy as we enter that 2022 phase. And it’s difficult for me, at least, to see the longer term, short term rates, I think, could move higher, particularly that call it one to three year frame. But the ten to 30-year frame, for me is very difficult to see those rates moving higher. With that type of hawkish policy in coming to fruition, it’s kind of a push and pull to me. So I’m not obviously, I don’t disagree with the view that China is going to stimulate and begin to actually accelerate growth there. I just don’t know how much that’s actually going to push back on America and begin to push rates higher here.

 

I think we’ve had max dovishness. And strictly Max dovishness is when you see max rates and when you begin to have incremental hawkishness on the monetary policy side and fiscal side. And 2 trillion would be slightly hawkish versus 2020 and early 2021. When you begin to have that pivot, that it’s hard for me to see longer term interest rates moving materially higher for longer than call it a month or two.

 

TN: Okay, so a couple of things that you said, it sounds like both you agree that China is going to do more stimulus. I think they’re late. I think they should have started five or six months ago, but better now than never. Right. So it sounds to me like you believe that there will be the beginning of a taper, maybe a small beginning of a taper late this year. Is that fair to say.

Categories
Podcasts

Consumer Sentiment Will Dampen Outlook

Corporate earnings are pretty much in line with expectations — where are stocks heading now? And what about the Congress-approved stimulus package, will that help the market this year? Also, with the rising Covid cases again in the US and China, how will this affect the two countries? Both countries have drastically low consumption. How much effect does one have to another? Lastly, will crude continue on the downtrend?

 

This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/consumer-sentiment-will-dampen-outlook on August 17, 2021.

 

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Show Notes

 

WSN: The business station BFM 89 nine good morning is 07:00 Tuesday, the 17 August and you’re listening to the morning run. I’m Wong Shou Ning and joining me in the studio this morning is Philip See. In the meantime, how are markets, Philip? Because I think it’s a bit of a red day.

 

PS: Yes, it was a red day, but actually the down SMP hit record higher up 3% other than the SEC was down 2%. Now if you cross over to Asia pack, it was also, as you said, a red day. Nikkei was down one 6% hunting negative 8%. Although in Shanghai marginally up zero 3%. Singapore was down 6%. Back home, a BNI interesting development went down quite a bit but recovered a bit to basically just be down 2% yeah.

 

WSN: Actually, I would have to say the LCI did better than expectations. The ring it actually initially weakened, but it’s somewhat recovered to the US dollar 4.2370. The currencies are always the first thing that gets hit, but against the pound is 5.8651 and against the sin dollar is 3.1250. Whether there’ll be continued weakness over the next two days is going to be a question Mark. We have to bear in mind that foreign are holding for equities is probably an all time low at 20%. Something will be asking Alexander Chia, regional head of research at RHB at 915 later on this morning.

 

So do tune in. But in the meantime, we’re going to find out where global markets are hidden with Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good Morning Tony, thanks for speaking to us again. Now, US markets, despite a bit of a wobbly start, they seem to recover. They’re at their peaks and corporate earnings pretty much in line with expectations, although this week I think it’s going to be a heavy week for earnings. Now, which direction do you think stocks are set to trade ahead of the fat minutes that are supposed to be out this week?

 

TN: Well, ahead of the minutes. I think we’ll continue to see more of the same. The Fed is really in charge of markets now. We’ve seen earnings come in really stellar over the last few weeks, and we’ll continue to see that for ’23, ’22 earnings. But we’re expecting three earnings really to come in a little flat. We’ve started to see some people say that their revenues are down and to issue some earning warnings. I wouldn’t say before Wednesday, but I would say over the next few weeks we expect to see more rotations going on. We’ve seen rotations away from tech over the last few weeks and we expect to see some defensive rotation in the next couple of weeks, consumer cyclicals utilities, consumer staples, utilities, health care and so on.

 

PS: Do you think the stimulus packages that were approved by Congress will add a bit of steam going forward?

 

TN: Well, I think the infrastructure package is going to take ten years, really, that’s going to be spent over a decade. They’re going to claim that it’s going to be spent quickly, but it can’t really. And plus, it’s less than half a trillion dollars or something like that. So that money trickled out over ten years or something. I think there’s a rule of thumb for infrastructure is in. It has a 1.6 times economic impact. So let’s say it was 300 or $500 billion. It would be 1.5 times that impact on the economy.

 

So it will have a decent impact. It will just be spent over a protracted period of time. There are the budget cap battles coming up over the next two to three months in the US. So there’s a real expectation that a lot of the stimulus that the Congress has planned may not necessarily be approved because of the budget cap discussions that are coming up.

 

WSN: Meanwhile, Tony, I want to look at the relationship between US and China because we do know that the China themselves are battling the Covid crisis again and the recovery the data seems to be faltering in terms of how strong the economy is. How related are both these countries?

 

TN: Yeah. The worrying part about China right now, of course, COVID and a lot of the issues there. But we’re also seeing ports really start to really slow down. A lot of the throughput factories slow down, and it’s really concerning. So despite the red upgrades we’ve seen over the last several years about the US and China, they are really important trade partners, and their economies are really, really tied. So when we see a dramatic slowdown in China that affects everybody in Asia, it affects the US. When you see a slowdown in the US, it affects China. It affects Europe. So we don’t want to see a slowdown in China, seeing the resurgence of COVID and the impact on the economy. There is not good for anybody. Least of all US.

 

And so we still have a lot of supply chain issues globally, partly owing two COVID slowdown in China, Japan, Korea, elsewhere. Right. So we don’t want to see this. We will see restrictions in the US, not code restrictions, but restrictions to supply chains because of issues coming out of China again. And so this is bad all around. And we want China to succeed. Everyone wants China to succeed. So they’re in a boat together.

 

PS: But, yeah, in a double whammy. Right. China consumptions spent sentiment is at an all time low. And also US consumption sentiment is also registering a drastic drop in August. What does this mean for the US dollar and treasuries?

 

TN: No. Right. So with the US, we have inflationary pressure. We have pressure, workforce pressure. It’s been hard to fill spots. And companies we also have the central government stimulus is wearing off. And so with all three of those things happening, it’s a really rough period for consumers. And for companies. So we had what’s called the New York Fed Manufacturing Index come in today and excel from a a month reading is 43. This month’s reading is 18. Anything above zero is grow. So it’s still growing, but it’s slowed down dramatically. Companies, manufacturing companies are seeing things slow down. This is because of things like new orders. Slowing down. Shipments are slowing down. Orders that are on hold are rising. Consumers and manufacturers have started to feel it dramatically in August.

 

WSN: Okay. And the other thing we want to ask you about is oil, which is related to consumer behavior. I have noticed that Brent crude is $69 a barrel. WTI dropped to $67 per barrel. It’s been three days of declines. What are your expectations in terms of all prices? Is this the beginning of a downward trend?

 

TN: We’ve included is kind of range trading for a few months. I think just today, OPEC announced that they’re going to deny Biden’s request to increase their output because of peer pressure and all prices. So we think that Cuba bounce between saying mid 60s and the 70s somewhere in that range for quite some time. If we do see things and trying to get worse, if we do see more coded lockdowns and restrictions, and of course, we see downside there. I’m hoping, although the rate of recovery is slowing down, our hope is that it stays positive.

 

Okay, that way will contingency pressure on cure prices, but it will be in a range because OPEC still have something like 6 million barrels a day sitting on the sidelines, so they can always come in to add additional resources to reduce prices if needed.

 

WSN: All right. Thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, BFM 89.9.

 

 

 

Categories
QuickHit

QuickHit Cage Match: Time to Taper?

This is a special QuickHit Cage Match edition with returning guest Albert Marko, and joining us for the very first time Andreas Steno Larsen to talk about tapering. Will the Fed taper this year? If yes, when, how, and why? If no, why not? Also discussed are the housing market, China GDP, and corporate earnings.

 

Andreas is the chief global strategist at Nordea Bank, which is mostly a Nordic bank, but has a presence in large parts of Europe, but also in the US. He speaks on behalf of the bank on topics surrounding global markets and in particular bond markets.

 

Albert Marko is a consultant for financial firms and high net worth individuals trying to navigate Washington, DC and what the Fed and Congress are up to.

 


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This QuickHit episode was recorded on August 16, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit Cage Match: Time to Taper? QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: So Andreas, I noticed you guys, you and Albert kind of in a Twitter fight last week about tapering, and that’s what really drew me to this discussion. I wanted to give you guys a platform to talk through this. So help me understand, you know. So what is your position? Why do you think it’s going to happen? When do you think it’s going to happen?

 

ASL:  Well, I think tapering is right around the corner, and the basic reason is that I expect marked sequential improvements in the labor market in the US over the coming two or three quarters. If you look at it, very simply speaking, right now, there are more job openings than unemployed in the US. I know I disagree with Albert on this as well. But in the old world, that would at least have let the Fed to turn very, very hawkish when they can see such a rate between job openings and unemployed as we have right now.

 

I basically have a case that once these extraordinary benefits, they will end across the US during September. Then we will have an explosion in a positive sense in the US Labor market. And that is exactly what is needed to convince the Fed of tapering.

 

So my base case is a decision taken in September and then an implementation starting already in December this year. And I expect them to be done already during the first half of next year with the tapering process. So it’s fairly aggressive compared to the scenarios I’ve seen painted by by other analysts.

 

TN: That’s really interesting. I just want to clarify one thing. When you say explosion the labor market, you mean more people coming into the market?

 

ASL: Yeah. And they come into the market and fill these job openings right now, we have a low labor market mobility due to a lot of temporary factors. And once they’re gone, then we should expect employment to be almost running at full speed before New Years.

 

TN: Okay. Okay. Very interesting. Albert, take it away. Help me understand what you’re thinking.

 

AM: Well, I mean, I would agree with him in the old days. Right. But we are in a situation where these tapering assumptions are based on Fed rhetoric and the public comments that they’ve been making specifically addressing his unemployment, unemployment boost or surge.

 

You know, we still have COVID lockdown patchwork across the world happening at the moment. Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and most importantly, China, because no one’s looking right now in China, but China’s GDP looks like it’s not going to surpass two or 3% for the next four or five quarters. With that in mind, where the United States going to get inventory for the holiday season and have this boost in employment surge that we usually get on holiday season.

 

It’s just, to me, there’s so many negatives, so many variables with negative connotations towards it. I can’t see the Fed tapering and just absolutely obliterating the market right before mid term season coming up in 2022. It’s just for me, it’s just inconceivable for them to do such a thing like that.

 

TN: Okay. Understood. So, Andreas, what do you think? Let’s say it doesn’t happen in September. What is the Fed thinking through and what mechanisms do they have to use, say, instead of a taper? Are there other things they can do aside from taper that will basically bring about the same intended outcome?

 

ASL: Well, I want to first of all, address what Albert said on China. I perfectly agree with the view on China right now. China is slowing massively. But I actually find it very interesting that the Federal Reserve is now even more behind the curve when it comes to its reaction function compared to earlier cycles, given that they want to see realized progress in labor markets and not forecasted progress.

 

And we know that labor markets, they lack the actual economic development. So it’s almost a given in my view, that we have a surge in employment over the coming couple of quarters as a consequence of what happened during the first half of the year. So that’s one thing.

 

And the second thing is that what we see right now in China is another wave of restrictions that will lead to renewed supply chains disruptions across the globe. And again, we will have a wave of supply side inflation, which is the exact kind of inflation that we are faced with right now. And given how the Fed communicated just three months back, you have to be amazed by how scared they are of the supply side inflation, even though it’s not the kind of inflation that they like.

 

So I still think that they will react to this, even though it’s supply side driven. What they have in sort of the toolbox ahead of September is obviously that they could hint that the interest rate path further out could be hiked. But otherwise, I think the most obvious tool is to look at the purchases of mortgages. Since we currently have a situation where most US consumers, they are very worried or even scared of buying a house. Timing wise right now, as a consequence of the rapid rise we’ve seen in the house prices. And I guess that’s directly linked to what the Fed is done on mortgages.

 

TN: Yeah. I can tell you just from my observation here in Texas where we have a lot of people moving in. House prices have taken a pause for probably the last two or three months where things even two, three months ago wouldn’t stay on the market for, like, three days. We’ve started to see things on the market for longer.

 

And so, I’m seeing what you’re saying, Andreas, about the housing market. And the question is, can that stuff pick up again, and is it justified? Albert, what’s your response to Andreas statement?

 

AM: The best comparison that we have is the 2013 economy to today’s economy. No one can sit there and argue that today’s economy is stronger than 2013. And look what Tapering Tantrum did to 2013 market. It was an absolute debacle. Yellen was so put off by Bernanke’s Tapering that she refused to do it in 2015. And in 2017, when they even mentioned it again, the market took a leg down. So, with that, right? And especially with Andres mentioning the word inflation, which is an absolute bad word to talk about in DC, tapering would have to have the Fed admit wrongdoing on sticking inflation.

 

When have we ever seen the US Federal Reserve ever take blame for something that’s negative in the markets? They just simply don’t do that. In fact, what I think they’re going to end up doing is allowing a market correction late into the fall and then unleash another $3 trillion of QE with Yellen and Powell to support the markets. So which would be completely opposite of tapering.

 

TN: Yeah, that’s interesting. You have completely opposite views. And what’s your view on the possibility of QE? I mean, is it possible?

 

ASL: Well, I don’t think Albert and I disagree a whole lot on the structural view or outlook, since that QE is a permanent instrument and it’s needed to fund the debt load of the US Treasury. There is no doubt about it. The point being here that the Federal Reserve needs a positive excuse to start tapering. I agree with that as well. And that exact positive excuse will be another couple of very strong labor market reports.

 

That’s exactly what they’ve been telling us. That they want to see between 800K and 1 million jobs created a month would be enough for them to launch a Tapering decision in September. Whether they will succeed with the entire tapering process is whole different question, but I’m looking for that decision in September. And then I guess Albert and I will agree a lot on the market takeaways if they take such a decision.

 

AM: Let me ask you a question Andreas. What would happen if the United States Congress refuses to deal with the debt ceiling and have no fiscal at that point? What would happen then?

 

ASL: Well, in such case, there is a whole lot of issues that you need to take care of as a Fed Reserve. So first of all, I’m not too scared of that scenario. I consider very low probability. I’m interested if you have another opinion.

 

AM: I personally don’t think it happens until at the very earliest November.

 

ASL: Yeah, but, I mean, obviously, every time there’s a debt ceiling deadline, we know that the true deadline is not the suspension deadline, its the deadline when the US Treasury is not able to run on fuels any longer, right? And that would be sometime during late October, there about I agree with you on that. So we basically have a window right now without a whole lot of issuance due to the debt ceiling being in place. And I actually think that’s a decent window for the Federal Reserve to utilize if they want to start tapering, since there is a smaller issuance for the private sector to swallow in such case.

 

TN: Interesting. Okay. What are you guys seeing on the corporate side? Are you seeing strength on the corporate side? I know we just had earnings season and they were very strong, but are you seeing a justifiably strong corporate position to start to taper?

 

AM: Right now, I really don’t. I mean, the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence had collapse. I think today, New York’s Manufacturer Index came in at 18.3, which was an astounding collapses in itself. You know, I personally deal with a couple of hedge funds, and they have been well behind the curve in returns right now.

 

I think the best ones are sub 10% for the year, so they’re gonna have to move back into cyclicals, and they’re gonna have to move back into small caps to make up the difference before the year end. Simply just even discussing that option, it makes tapering, you know, even less of a likely outcome just because it would ruin the market.

 

ASL: Obviously, if you go long small caps right now into a tapering scenario, you will end up losing. I agree with that. That would be kind of the worst. Yeah, exactly. But otherwise, I have to agree that the corporate sector is more doubtful, I would say, than the US Treasury in terms of a tapering decision. I’m much more scared of the corporate debt load than I am of the US Treasury debt load.

 

The State’s currency issue is they can always get rid of such a scenario. But the corporate sector is bigger trouble than the US Treasury into this scenario that I depict.

 

AM: Yeah. I completely agree with that one.

 

TN: Wow. We end on agreement. Guys. Thank you so much for this. Thanks so much for your time. I really look forward to it. Andreas, I look forward to having you back. Albert, of course, we look forward to having you back. Have a great week ahead, guys. Thank you very much.

 

And for all you guys watching. Thanks for taking the time. Please subscribe to our channel. And we’ll see you next time. Thanks very much.

Categories
Podcasts

Apple To Scan Phones For Child Abuse Imagery

This is another Business Matters episode at the BBC with Tony Nash as one of the guests. They discussed about the possible problems if Apple starts scanning phones for child abuse imageries, electronic vehicles and their future especially in the US where President Biden targets 50% total sales in the next decade, and should vaccines from developed countries be sent overseas to help developing countries?

 

 

This podcast was published on August 6, 2021 and the original source can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172xvqgghw0rpz.

 

BBC Business Matters Description:

Tech giant Apple has said that all of its smartphones and tablets in the US will soon scan them for images of child abuse and report those found. The move has already alarmed some, who are concerned devices could now be spied on. We speak to Matthew Green, a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States who revealed details about Apple’s plans before they were officially announced. President Biden has said that by 2030, half of the cars produced in the US will be zero emission vehicles. But is this realistic and does it go far enough? We ask Becca Ellison, deputy policy director at the environmental campaign group Evergreen Action. Vaccine maker Moderna has reported net income of $2.8bn for the three months to June 30th. Rasmus Bech Hansen is chief executive of the life sciences data analytics company Airfinity, and tells us how the company’s coronavirus vaccine has boosted its prospects. Plus, in the wake of the saga of office sharing company WeWork, the BBC’s Ed Butler explores whether technology startup founders have become the latest wave of cult leaders. And after the news that Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona, we ask his official biographer Guillem Balague, why money is the reason the world’s greatest footballer is leaving his club of 20 years.

 

All this and more discussed with our two guests on opposite sides of the world: Tony Nash, chief economist at Complete Intelligence in Texas and Zyma Islam, journalist for the Daily Star in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

Show Notes

 

BG: Tony, what’s your view on this? Do you wonder why the technology companies can really control how this software is used around the world and in years to come? Because there is a real risk that it is the thin end of the wedge? And what do you do on your phone is no longer private?

 

TN: Yeah, I share all of the concerns that Zyma mentioned. I have three kids. I have the same worries as the person you interviewed. But these things always start with good intentions. Here’s the problem. The biggest problem of the interview that I heard him say is it’s under development. They haven’t even tested this stuff. They’re going to put it on everyone’s iPhone to snoop in their photos too. And what I worry about, there are planned layers of review in this. But what about that person, man or woman who is labeled a pedophile on accident? They will never get their life back ever. So all of this stuff starts with good intentions, but I guarantee they will ruin people’s lives with this.

 

BG: But if illegal material is being stored, passed around on people’s phones, surely tech companies do have a responsibility to do something.

 

TN: No I don’t. I run an artificial intelligence company. Computer vision is very good. That’s the technology generally that they’re using for this. But there are always anomalies. There are always problems. Tech companies have a responsibility to be tech companies. Tech companies are not the police. If we get pulled into an investigation, then we in all of our contracts, it says we will cooperate with the police. But it is not our responsibility, nor is it any other tech company’s responsibility to play the role of a police officer, unless they know that something’s going on. But this is going above and beyond, and I guarantee you they will label people pedophiles who are not pedophiles and they will ruin their lives.

 

BG: What kind of incentives do you think might be needed to try to get half of car sales to be electric or some other type of zero emission vehicle by the end of the decade?

 

TN: I think one of the things they really need to do is respect the intelligence of drivers. And they really need to look at the total emissions of the manufacturing process and the operation process of vehicles. Electric vehicles produce massive emissions during their manufacture with battery technology and so on. Once they’re alive, they plug into the grid. And depending on what your local power plant is generating from coal or gas or nuclear or whatever, there are other issues associated with those emissions, other indirect emissions.

 

What I would love to see is a side by side comparison with petrol based cars and electric vehicles through the lifecycle of their manufacture and use. How do they compare drivers in America? They like to have cars just like people in other places, although a little bit bigger here. I live in Texas. People here, though, are are getting wise to electric vehicles and the damage that the batteries that electric vehicles do just in the neighborhood, aside from mine here in Texas, a Tesla car caught on fire and melted the street, killed both people in the vehicle.

 

Consumers are becoming much more aware of the dangers of electric vehicles and they want to understand what’s going to happen. So those types of considerations as this transition happens, and I believe it will, but those types of considerations have to be taken into account and consumers have to be made aware or have to be told this information. Truly, the problem with these fuel efficiency standards is they only look at carbon and petrol vehicles. They don’t look at electric vehicles. So electric vehicles will look like zero when in fact. They’re not.

 

BG: This target that Joe Biden announced today is voluntary. What do you think it will be met this target of 50% of sales by 2030? You seem pretty skeptical that it will indeed, perhaps that it should be.

 

TN: I don’t think it will because I don’t think EVs can make that target without a subsidy for the buyer. So there’s these standards, but there are also massive subsidies for SUV buyers. What you’re doing is you’re penalizing low income people who pay taxes through sales tax or other things to subsidize. Let’s be very honest, highly educated cosmopolitans who buy EVs. You get fairly wealthy people who are subsidized by poor people with the subsidies they get when they buy a car. It’s a real problem.

 

BG: Tony, when you hear about the almost total lack of vaccine supplies there in Bangladesh, and we had the comments from the World Health Organization earlier in the week saying that they should wait in developed nations where pretty much every adult has been vaccinated. What do you think countries like the United States should be doing?

 

TN: I think we should make them aware. I think we should make them available globally so that people can catch up. Giving the boosters there is there is a sufficient portion. I know it’s not what the federal government wants, but there is a large portion of the U.S. population that has been vaccinated. Older people, people with complications who wanted to get vaccinated have been vaccinated early. So I think it’s time to move these into South Asia and other countries like Africa to make sure that there is enough for those countries. I’ve actually been pretty vocal about that.

 

BG: Presumably, though, there are an awful lot of Americans who say the US helped fund the research effort and they want their kids to be vaccinated.

 

TN: But kids under 12 can’t get the vaccine now. It won’t be approved by the FDA until the end of the year. So send it overseas. I just don’t understand what the problem is with sending this stuff overseas if they’re needed overseas. Again, I’m very supportive of sending this stuff overseas because kids can’t get the vaccine until it’s approved at the end of the year.

 

BG: Tony, in business, is the cult of the leader or of the entrepreneur really a bad thing?

 

TN: I think it can be a good thing. But specific technology, I founded our firm, I’m a tech CEO and I speak to a lot of investors. And no venture capitalist thinks that any of their companies are. We work. No venture capitalist believes that can happen to them.

 

BG: Which is a problem, right? Because, of course it can

 

TN: It’s an absolute problem. And when I listen in out of nowhere and pitch, gosh, I wish I could pitch in as well as he does because venture capitalists are suckers for a great pitch. They will fund anything that has a great pitch. And again, they’ll tell you they’re not OK, but they are. I meet so many entrepreneurs, founders who can pitch, but what is there to their business? Well, they get funded and that’s it. I think the pitch is something that that every tech founder really, really focused on learning how to do. They don’t actually learn how to run a business. Very few.

 

BG: Is there is there a cult of Tony Nash at your company?

 

TN: I wish there was. I wish that was the case, but it’s not. I’m sorry.

 

BG: It’s such a shame. This is Business Matters with my thanks Tony Nash and Zyma Islam. And join us again same time tomorrow bye bye.

 

 

 

Categories
QuickHit

The Fed and ECB Playbooks: What are they thinking right now? (Part 2)

Part 2 of the Fed and ECB Playbooks discussion is here with Albert Marko and Nick Glinsman. In this second part, the housing and rent market in the US, UK, Australia, etc. was tackled. Also, do we really need a market collapse or correction right now? And discover the “sweet spot” for the Fed to “ping pong” the market. When can we see 95 again? What is the Fed trying to do with the dollar? And what currencies in the world will run pretty well in a time like this?

 

Go here for Part 1 of the discussion.

 

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on July 29, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this The Fed & ECB Playbooks: What are they thinking right now? (Part 2) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: Now, with all of that in mind, Nick, you did a piece recently about the Fed and housing and some of the trade offs that they’re looking at with regard to the housing market.

 

Now, housing is an issue in Australia. It’s an issue in the UK. It’s an issue in the U.S. and other places. Can you walk us through a little bit of your kind of reasoning and what you’re thinking about with regard to the Fed and housing?

 

NG: Well, I actually think, it was, I was watching Bloomberg TV as they ask after the Fed comments from me, well, you know, maybe the Fed’s right because the lumber has collapsed. Right. Lumber’s in an illiquid market, takes one player and you can move that price 5 to 10 percent. But that was an irrelevance.

 

I think there’s a couple of things that lead the Fed in the wrong direction. First of all, the mortgage backed securities QE, that really isn’t necessary. That they could definitely tap and that would perhaps quell some of the criticism on you letting inflation on. Know this criticism, by the way, the Fed and the other central banks is all coming from some of the former highest members of those central banks. It seems that once you leave the central bank, you get back to a normal DNA to Mervyn King and the be governor of the Bank of England, hugely critical.

 

And you have that House of Lords touching on QE. Bill Dudley ran, said New York. That is the second most important position at the Fed. And in fact, my thought process there is the repo problems that we’ve had is because his two market lieutenants of many years experience were let go when Williams took over. Big mistake.

 

Anyway. So back to the federal housing. I think they focused on cost of new housing. My view is the slowdown that we will get on new homes is purely a function of supply of goods used to make homes, where essential supply. Then tell me is or if it’s not essential supply, it’s become incredibly expensive. Copper wire and so on and so forth. But my fear is that focused on this and the thing that’s going to come and hit them really hard at some point in the future, which is why I think inflation is not going to be transitory. It’s going to be persistent. Rent. Going one way is… I mean, New York rents have picked up dramatically. New York being an exceptional example, but.

 

TN: Remember a year ago you couldn’t give away an apartment in New York?

 

NG: So I think in that respect, everybody’s talking about mortgage backed securities and QE. Why are you doing it? Housing market doesn’t need it. Look at the price action. Fine. All valid points. I think the Fed should be more worried ultimately about rent. And the rent.

 

AM: Rent is a problem. You’re right, Nick. The other thing I want to point out is there’s a disconnect because it’s not just one housing market in the United States. Because of covid, the migration from north to southern states has really jumbled up some of the figures and how they’re going to tackle that is something that it’s above my pay grade right now, but it’s just something I wanted to point out.

 

NG: Albert’s absolutely right. People have been incentivized to be in real estate. People have been incentivized effectively to be in related markets to the collective real hard assets in this environment. Absolutely.

 

I mean, I would argue that part of Bitcoin’s rise is because, in fact, it’s a collectible. Limited supply. It’s such a collectible. It’s got no intrinsic value. But it’s a collectible. But I would, I think that’s. Albert’s right to point out the demographic moves in the US. I think there’s a huge pressure. One policy doesn’t fit every market. And I think the red pressure will be reflected in the similar fashion. It’s a huge problem.

 

TN: So what can the Fed do about it? Is there anything they can do about it?

 

NG: Become a commercial banker in terms of policy. You know, we’ve I mean, in the U.K., there was certain lending criteria for corporates that were imposed during the crisis that actually did help. But I think also the other thing that seems to be problematic for the commercial banks is Basel III. So, even if the Fed wants to help, how much can they help within that framework? Of course, the US Fed can just say thank you Basel.

 

TN: Doesn’t apply to us.

 

AM: They can also raise rates if they want to be cheeky.

 

TN: Yeah, but then it’s not just real estate that collapses. It’s everything, right?

 

AM: Maybe it needs to be collapsed, Tony. Maybe it needs to correct a little bit because, what are we buying here? We’re buying stuff, we’re buying equities that are 30, 40 percent above what they were pre-Covid.

 

It’s just silly at this point. I was talking to one of my clients and this is like we have to look through, we have to sift through US equities, which are probably going to go down to like twenty seven hundred of them right after this shenanigans ends and trying to find a gem in there to invest in. Whereas we can go overseas in emerging markets and look through thirty four thousand of them. Right. So you know, we need a correction.

 

TN: Famous last words.

 

The last thing we’d really like to talk about is currencies. So, you know, we’ve seen a lot of interesting things happening with the dollar, with the euro, with the Chinese yen. And so I’d really like to understand the interplay of how you see the Fed and the ECB with the value of the dollar and the euro. Albert, you said, you know, the ECB really has no control or very little control over the euro because of what the Fed does. So what is the Fed trying to do with the dollar?

 

AM: You know, Tony, Nick and I had wrote a two-page piece on the dollar’s range of ninety one to ninety three. And that seems to be the sweet spot for them, where they can ping pong the markets and drop the Russel a little bit, promote the Nasdaq and then vice versa and go back and forth like that. That is where they’ve been keeping this thing for… How long has that been, Nick? For like six months now, that we keep it in that range?

 

NG: We wrote eighty nine to ninety three, but really ninety one midpoint should start to be the, the solid support. That’s played out exactly.

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AM: They’re a bunch of comic jokesters where they go to ninety three point one and three point one five and then they scare people and then they come back down and drop it back to ninety two. I mean it almost with the ninety one today, I believe. You know, so it’s just we’re stuck in that range, Tony, until they want to correct the market after the market corrects, they’ll probably go to ninety five, ninety six.

 

NG: Our view on that is partly because that the dollar is the ultimate economic weapon of destruction. Not to the US. For other countries. First of foremost emerging markets, but because it’s included in emerging market indices and ETFs as a result, I include China there. And you know, to be honest with you, I not only the geopolitics suggestive and Albert and I tweeted on some of the things that we believe are going to happen. How can the US authorities allow China to wipe out investors the next day after an IPO?

 

The people forget, it astounds me. Not more is made of this and no more commentary. We’re dealing with a Stalinist bunch of communists led by Xi. They will do anything to retain power, and they certainly don’t care about American and international investors. We’ve just seen that. You seen that with DiDi. You seen that with the education companies that are created in the US. We’ve even seen Tencent down. Tencent is one of the worst performing stocks in the world. It’s a tech stock in China, and look at tech in the US.

 

AM: Yeah. Let’s not deviate too far into the Chinese thing because we can do a whole hour just on China. When it comes to the currencies, Tony, the dollar being at ninety one, ninety two. The only other currencies that I do love are the Canadian dollar and the Aussie dollar, simply for the fact that they’re a commodity rich nations. And in a time of inflation, there’s no better place to be right now.

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AUDUSD Year-to-Date Forecast
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TN: Yeah, I think they’ll run pretty well.

 

NG: Yeah, I think as a macro trade in the next couple of years is commodities and it doesn’t necessitate economic reflation. You’ve got enough supply chain issues and supply issues and lack of capex and politics with regard to energy that restrict the supply. And the demand is there. Can you imagine, even if we don’t have a fully reflation story from the economy, if Jet Blue has a shortage of jet fuel in the in the US right now, imagine what happens to jet fuel when Europe starts to travel properly, which won’t happen this year, it will be next year.

 

In fact, the commodity minus the big ones? Have you seen their profits? Huge increase in dividends and share buybacks.

Categories
Podcasts

US Complete Lockdowns Unlikely

Corporate earnings are beating the Wall Street estimates — are these even accurate? For the exporting countries in Asia — will they be badly hit with further lockdowns? And why is WTI crude oil dropped all of a sudden? All these and more in this quick podcast interview with Tony Nash at the BFM 89.9 The Morning Run.

 

This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/us-complete-lockdowns-unlikely on August 5, 2021.

 

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Show Notes

 

SM: BFM 89.9. Good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar in studio today with Wong Shou Ning and Philip See. First, though, as always, we recap how global markets ended the trading day.

 

PS: Yes, the U.S. was relatively mixed. The Dow is down 0.9%. S&P 500 also -0.5%. Nasdaq was up 0.1%, crossing over to the Pacific and Asia. Also a mixed day. The Nikkei was down 1.2%. Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng were both up 0.9%, Singapore up 1.1%. And actually, not surprisingly, FBN, Kilcher was down 1.6%.

 

SM: And for some insights into what’s moving markets, we have on the line Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Always good to have you. So looking at corporate second quarter earnings, they’ve been beating Wall Street estimates, yet a prevailing bearishness seems to be creeping into U.S. markets. Is this an accurate reading driven by the rise of Covid-19 cases from the Delta variant?

 

TN: Yeah, earnings are up about 90% year on year, and a lot of that really has to do with companies cutting back staff and trimming expenses. This is a really nice, obviously not unexpected, but a really nice pop. But the cutbacks have come to a limit if we’re straddling a come back. Part of that is revenues are up 22% on quarter, which is great. But given the cutbacks, it looks extraordinarily good. So these things have a way of winding down. There’s only so much you can only get this good for so long. So we do expect this to to erode a little bit going into next quarter.

 

WSN: But does this mean that markets will find it hard to go to the next leg up in?

 

TN: It depends. It depends on company performance, but it also depends on things like central bank activity and fiscal spending. So if we look at Covid, it depends on which way it’s going. And if Delta variant gets worse and the fatality rate gets worse, which isn’t here in Texas, the fatality rate per case is half of what it was back in February. So just six months ago, the fatality rate here was twice per case of Covid.

 

So we’re hearing a lot about case counts. But the reality is the fatalities are declining pretty rapidly. So here we see that is a good thing. And and so we’re hopeful that things will you know, we’ll continue to move back to a normal situation. But there’s a lot of talk about, you know, closing things down. New York just put coded passports in for going to restaurants and going out in public, the sort of thing.

 

What that does is that really it really hurts small local businesses. It hurts chains for, say, restaurants and shopping. It helps companies like Amazon that do a lot of local deliveries. So so if New York is going to lock down, it helps to work from home type of company try it. But it seems to me in the US it’s going to be really hard to close the US down again because there’s a lot of push back in the US to closing down in some places, not so much New York, California, those those places, but other places. If there was an attempt to lock down again here in Texas, people would be pretty resistant.

 

PS: And you made a point on central bank activity. Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida confirmed that they are on track to raise rates in twenty twenty three, but jobs data is soft. So how should we make of all this?

 

TN: Yeah, I don’t see that happening. Look, you know, people talk about rates a lot, but the Fed has so many tools. I would expect the Fed to commence some sort of QE plan in the not too distant future before I would expect rates talk. I think we’re closer to QE than we are to rates much closer to QE than we are at a rate. So I don’t see rates changing certainly in obviously in twenty one. I don’t see them changing in twenty two. If it’s twenty three, maybe it’s the back half, but I just don’t see that happening simply because we’ve got to stop the flow of finance ministry and central bank activity going into economies globally first before we start to impose higher rates on borrowers. So we just need to get to a zero state or a semi normal state before we start imposing higher rates on borrowers.

 

SM: OK, and turning our attention closer to home, Tony. An economic upswing in Southeast Asia this year looks increasingly uncertain. And given that ASEAN is predominantly export dependent, how badly hit do you think countries in this region are going to be?

 

TN: Yeah, I think it’s hard. For those countries that have the benefit of, say, natural resources exports like Malaysia with palm oil and crude oil and other things, I think that helps. However, manufactured goods are difficult, partly on supply chain issues, partly on Covid, you know, restrictions and other things. So international transport is still in a very difficult situation. So I think it’s tough for Southeast Asia. I think there’s a big move in Europe and North America to have more manufacturing done nearby in regions.

 

So I think this, over a period that’s been protracted 18 months or longer. I think the more that happens, the more we see unwinding of global supply chains and the more we see the unwinding of Asia as the centralized manufacturing hub globally. I think we’ve seen more regional manufacturing. I don’t think that necessarily means that the manufacturing in China or other places are necessarily in danger. Unfortunately, a place that I think places that I think are more in danger of places like Malaysia, Thailand, the middle income, middle tier type of manufacturing countries. So the automation, competitiveness, these sorts of things are really much more important in places like Malaysia and Thailand.

 

WSN: And Tony, I want to switch to oil because when I look at the Bloomberg at the moment, WTI is showing at sixty eight U.S. dollars a barrel for delivery in September. What do you make of this sudden drop in prices? Is it due to demand decline?

 

TN: It’s on Covid fears. News all over the here in the U.S. It’s a lot of Covid fear mongering and you know, a lot of that. The media is based in New York and D.C. And so there’s a lot of chatter on the government side. And in New York, the New York media is trying to get the the focus away from Andrew Cuomo, the governor there, and really trying to focus on Covid and other things. So markets are reacting.

 

Business doesn’t want things closed down. Again, people in business don’t want to close down again. So I think, you know, you’re going to see a real push pull in markets over the next couple of weeks as that debate happens about two places closed down or not. And you’ll see some volatility in things like commodities and in other markets as that very active discussion continues.

 

SM: All right, Tony, thanks as always for your insights. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, talking to us about the situation of the economy in the US. And, you know, that push and pull between closing down, how do we deal with with the covid, but at the same time, you know, make sure the economy doesn’t suffer too much.

 

PS: You made a very interesting point that with closing down, who is affected the most. Right, with respect to businesses. He did say smaller businesses are more susceptible as result of a closure locked out. But the same is exactly the same thing you’re going to see across the board.

 

WSN: Yeah, yeah. I think he also brought up an interesting point about the fact that, yes, there is this decentralization of manufacturing hubs. Right. Because I think a lot of businesses are concerned that with covid-19 and they have really been proven that supply chains can be very easily disrupted. But ironically, Malaysia may not be a beneficiary. It might move to other countries. And it’s a question of whether we move up the value chain to provide that, you know, that that automation that we need do.

 

The things that we talk about are 4.0. I’ll be ready for it. Do we have to staff for it? Will they go to other countries? And he hinted that he might. So I’m just curious, in the longer term, what is our government’s plans, especially now 12 million, your plan confirmed to be in September and budget 2022 in October?

 

SM: That’s right. And we’re going to get a perspective on this later on in the show at seven forty five when we speak to the president of the Malaysian Semiconductor Industry Association. So stay tuned for that BFM eighty nine point nine.

 

Categories
QuickHit

The Fed & ECB Playbooks: What are they thinking right now? (Part 1)

Geopolitics experts Albert Marko and Nick Glinsman are back on QuickHit for a discussion on the Federal Reserve, the ECB, and central banks. What are they thinking right now?

 

Albert Marko advises financial firms and some high net worth individuals on how politics works in D.C.. He worked with congressional members and their staff for the past 15 to 20 years. In his words, Albert basically is a tour guide for them to figure out how to invest their money.

 

Nick Glinsman is the co-founder and CIO of EVO Capital LLC. He does a lot of writing and some portfolio management. He was a macro portfolio manager in one of the big micro funds in London for quite a few years. Prior to that, Nick was with Salomon Brothers. Now, he concentrates on providing key intel, both economics and politics on a global level to finance managers and politicos.

 

You can go here for Part 2 of the discussion.

 

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on July 29, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this The Fed & ECB Playbooks: What are they thinking right now? (Part 1) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: Today we’re talking about central banks and given where we are in “the cycle”, whatever that means at this point, post or late Covid, we’ve had waves of support coming from finance ministries and treasuries and central banks around the world. Central banks seem to be in a very weird position right now. So I’d really love to understand your point of view particularly what the Fed and the ECB thinking about right now and what are some of the biggest dilemmas they have? Nick, if you want to go first and frame that out a little bit and then Albert, will obviously go to you.

 

NG: Well, given how long I’ve been doing this, I’m more of a traditional, black coated central bank watcher. And I would say a couple of key comments to make right now is I think they’ve lost their independence to a large extent. Harder for the ECB to lose its independence. But with the commission, you have that loss.

 

I also think that we are, defective monetary financing. And again, I’ll go back to the ECB, who literally for the last month, for everything that was issued in Europe and this reluctance by the Fed to, even they admit talking about talking about tapering, but this reluctance to even consider a pullback on the mortgage-backed securities. The jest, pretty much the same, and it’s very clear with a lot of the actions that I’m in, my interpretation is, one, they’re working in cahoots with the political arm.

 

So treasury in the US, commission in Europe. Bank of England is a slight exception about to happen, but we can cover that later. So that’s clearly going on. And I think now Albert might do a lot of work together and I think this Albert came out with a comment a while back saying Yellen wants six trillion dollars fiscal. And the excuse that was given, aside from the political bias, was the Treasury market needs it.

 

And interesting enough, we saw the change to the Repos yesterday. This was after criticism by a committee that was published in the F.T. yesterday. And even Bill Dudley’s commented on Today suggesting that a lot more work needs to be done to ensure that the normal functioning of the plumbing behind the form of safe assets.

 

So it’s clear to me that things are being worked on in a politically coordinated way that impacts monetary policy. Now, I think they’ve got themselves into an economic or policy black hole. I think the mind set, and it’s been like this since probably ’08, which is they’re not prepared to accept the economic cycle anymore.

 

So back to one of my previous appearances on on your pod, the Fed not doing anything? Yeah, it seems to me that that’s an acceptable process, regardless of inflation is way above their forecast. And forecasting that’s a whole ‘nother bad area for the… Fed’s forecasts are terribly wrong. The ECB’s forecasts have been wrong for, you know, since time immemorial.

 

The ECB is more dangerous because they have a bias that keeps them on their policy’s wreck.

 

TN: So first on forecasts, if any central bankers are watching, I can help you with that. Second, when you say they don’t believe in the business cycle anymore, do you mean the central banks or do you mean the political folks?

 

NG: The central banks and government. I mean, funnily enough, I’m reading a biography on Jim Baker right now. And when you look at Reagan, when he came in and Volcker, economic data was pretty bad back at the beginning of the 80s. That. No way, no politician is prepared to accept that anymore. To be honest, I think the central bankers are prepared to accept that anymore. Any of the people leading the central banks being political appointees, of course.

 

TN: So this is kind of beyond a Keynesian point of view, because even Keynesians believed in a business cycle, right?

 

NG: It’s a traditional Keynesian point of view. The modern day, neo Keynesian, yes, you’re right. Way beyond what they’re thinking.

 

TN: There’s a lot of detail in that, and I think we could spend an hour talking about every third thing you said there. So I really do appreciate that. Albert. Can you tell us both Fed and ECB, what are they thinking about right now? What are the trade offs? What are the fears they have?

 

AM: We’ll start with the ECB. The ECB is not even a junior player right now in the central bank world. I know people want to look at the EU and say, oh, it’s a massive trading bloc, so and so. But the fact is, that it’s completely insolvent. Besides the Germans and maybe the French in some sectors, there’s nothing else in Europe that’s even worth looking at at the moment.

 

As for the ECB’s standpoint, you know, they’re still powerless. I mean, the Federal Reserve makes all the policy. They first will talk to the Anglosphere banks that are on the dollar standard basically. I mean, the Pound and the Australian dollar and whatnot. They’re just Euro Dollar tentacles. But, for the ECB, they’re frustrated right now because they see that the Euro keeps going up and their export driving market is just taking a battering at the moment. But they can’t do anything because the Fed goes and buys Euros on the open market to drop the price of the Dollar to promote the equities in the United States. And that’s just happening right now.

 

When it comes to the Fed, we have to look at what is the Fed, right? Normally what everyone is taught in school is that they are an independent entity that looks over the market and so on and so forth. Right. But these guys are political appointees. These guys have money and donors. They play with both political parties. Right now, the Democrats have complete control of the Federal Reserve. And everyone wants to look at Jerome Powell as the Fed chair, but I’ve said this multiple times on Twitter, the real Fed chair is Larry Fink. He’s got Powell’s portfolio under management of BlackRock. He’s the one making all the moves on the market, with the market makers and coordinating things behind the scenes. He’s the guy to look at, not Jerome Powell.

 

I mean, have anyone even watched Jerome Powell’s speech yesterday? It was appalling. He was overly dovish. That’s the script that he was written. He’s not the smart guy in this playing field, in this battleground.

 

TN: He needs a media training, actually. I think.

 

AM: He’s being set up to be scapegoated for a crash. He’s just no one to show. He’s a Trump appointee. So next time there’s a crash, whether it’s one week from now or one month from now, it’s going to be pointed on him that, you know, he’s the Fed chair. Look at the Fed chair. Don’t look at everything else that the political guys have made and policies in the past four or five years that have absolutely just decimated the real economy.

 

TN: This time reminds me, and I’m not a huge historian of the Fed, but it really reminds me of the of the Nixon era Fed where Nixon and his Fed chair had differences and they were known, and then the Fed chair ended up capitulating to do whatever Nixon wanted to get back in his good graces. Does that sound about right?

 

AM: No, that’s a perfect example. I mean, this idea that’s floated around by economists that economics and politics are separate entities is absolute fantasy. And it just it doesn’t exist in the real world.

 

NG: Just to pop in on this one because actually there is a new book out which I started three days at Camp David. Because it’s coming up to 50 years since that decision of the gold standard. Now, it’s just interesting you brought it up, because if you think of one of the rationales for coming off the gold standard, there’s several, but one that struck me as I was reading actually the review, the back cover show Percy.

 

This enables the government to stop printing in terms of fiscal, fiscal, fiscal. That’s what it did in effect. First of all, that’s one of the biggest arguments against people who argue for a return to the gold standard because that would decimate things or cryptos being in a limited supply of crypto as the new reserve currency because the gain that would be pulling against the elastic and you wouldn’t get, the economy would just boom. Right.

 

So that’s where I think it’s just huge, you know. I’ve always said that actually what we have is what we’re going to ultimately see is exactly the same cost that came with Lyndon Johnson paying for the Vietnam War, Covid. And then the Great Society, which is Joe Biden’s what I call social infrastructure and green ghost plan. So. Going back to that, Nixon was paying part of the price for all of that. With Volcke right. So I actually sit there thinking, well. There are similarities right now, and we’re seeing effectively a central bank and the Treasury, wherever you want to look, untethered from what used to be, well before I started in this business, to be part of the discipline. But even when they came off the gold standard, there was discipline. As you referred earlier, to, traditional Keynesians believed in the economic cycle of boom, bust. You know, boom, you tap the brakes a little bit, take the punch all the way. That’s gone.

 

That is to me what’s gone on recently, I don’t know whether you would say since the 08 or more recently is the equivalent of that ’73 meeting where they came off the gold standard. People just said no more cycles. Tapping the brakes and now the central banks are in a hole and politicized, they’re not independent because there are no.

 

AM: Yeah, yeah, that that’s real quick, Tony. That’s exactly right. I mean, even like, you know, I was on Twitter saying we’re going to go to 4400. We’re going to go to 4400 and people are like “No way. We’re in a bear market. This thing’s going back down 37, whatever charts and whatever Bollinger bands they want to look at. But the fact is because of the politics has a necessity to pump the market and then crash it to pass more stimulus packages. The only way was to go up to 4400 plus, right.

 

TN: Right. OK, now, with all of that in mind, Nick, you did a piece recently about the Fed and housing and some of the trade offs that they’re looking out looking at with regard to the housing market. Now, housing is an issue in Australia. It’s an issue in the UK. It’s an issue in the US and other places. Can you walk us through a little bit of your kind of reasoning and what you were thinking about with regard to the Fed and housing?

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