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They discussed food inflation and when can we expect that to happen? And what about the energy markets, specifically crude oil and what’s the expectation there? What can the central banks do to curb inflation? And what will happen if Russia defaults on its debt?
CNA: Let’s bring in Tony Nash, founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence for the risks ahead for investors. Tony, as we heard there from the chief of the World Food Program, we are seeing a perfect storm. And the worry is these is rising food prices will hit emerging markets in particular. How do you think that will play out for the rest of the year?
TN: I think it’s going to be very difficult. If we look at places like Egypt that are very dependent on Ukrainian agricultural products, we expect to see really large inflation, although it hasn’t really hit yet. But we do expect that to hit in a few months as the shortfall of those products hit those markets. So your guest from the World Food Program, he was right on. We expect to see some real issues with food products in Europe and in emerging markets.
CNA: The other thing that markets are worried about or investors are worried about is the energy prices. How long do you think oil markets are going to take to find their footing? I mean, we have some headway made in alternative supplies, and we have even Japan reportedly pushing the UAE to pump up their supplies, their production.
TN: Right? Yeah. Obviously, energy had a near term peak about a week ago when Brent and WTI both went to 131. 40. That came down to the 90s US dollar terms last week. And obviously it’s up above 100. Now. We don’t expect in the near term, say in the next few weeks to hit, say, 131. 40. Again, we think that we kind of will stay within a range short of some unexpected geopolitical events. So if the war were to ratchet up, if other things were to happen, then, of course, we could expect all the prices to rise further. But countries are working on finding alternative sources to Russian crude, or at least the reduced output of Russian crude. And we see India and Russia, we saw this last week where they came to an agreement to pay in Indian rupees. And Japan is the middleman of that. It’s actually cleared in Japanese yen. So your story on Japan going to the UAE. Japan is taking a very active role in energy supplies globally to help people have additional supplies. So what we’re also seeing that isn’t talked about much now is propane stocks. Propane stocks are very low, and so we do expect propane stocks, which in places like India or in agriculture globally.
In parts of the US, propane stocks are a major concern for people I know in Singapore for cooking these sorts of things. Propane is an issue. We expect to see inflation, ongoing inflation with propane given the low stocks globally.
CNA: What about the role that the US central bank can play in all this? How limited is it? I mean, we are expecting very aggressive tightening from the Fed, but how effective is that going to be to curb inflation?
TN: Well, because the inflation is not demand driven inflation. It’s supply driven inflation. So the fed can only do so much and their job will generally be reduced to kind of killing demand. So demand destruction is really what the fed will have to do in order to curb inflation. They can’t really do anything to open up the Port of Shenzhen. They can’t do anything to affect, say, supply chain disruptions so they’ll do what they can behind the scenes. But we do expect to see quantitative tightening in probably may we expect to see four to five, maybe six rate hikes this year and that will damper demand. That is the main purpose of what the fed will do because they really need to stop people buying so much so that the supply chains can have a breather and really get more product to market.
CNA: Tony, just very quickly, before I let you go, the risk and worry also is about a default from Russian assets. It’s paid some of its dollar debt but it’s still on the hook for more foreign currency debt. Do you think that is going to be the worst case scenario?
TN: I don’t think it’s the worst case scenario but I think it could be a bad scenario. I would say one of the things to watch. There is European banks a lot of European banks are deep into Russian debt and how they trade on European markets is a good indicator of the likelihood of Russia paying back that debt. So they did make a payment last week and there is an expectation that they will continue to make payments but really they could default at any time and really nobody can do anything about it. So a lot of this is very risky and we just won’t know over the next, say, two to three months whether they will continue to be paid.
CNA: Yet more unknowns the market.
Tony, thank you for your analysis, Tony ash of complete intelligence that’s.