In this discussion with BFM 89.9, Tony Nash shares views on the recent bank earnings, update on Brexit and why it’s stalled, the future of Hong Kong and how vaccine news play for markets.
This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/markets-pause-as-wells-bofa-miss-and-stimulus-remain-distant on October 15, 2020.
The diminishing likelihood of stimulus and poor bank earnings have paused stock markets for now, as electioneering ramps up ahead of November polls, according to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, who discusses bank earnings, market expectations as well as Brexit.
Produced by: Mike Gong
Presented by: Khoo Hsu Chuang, Wong Shou Ning
KHC: On the line with us now is Tony of Complete Intelligence for some clarity on markets. Tony, thanks for talking to us. Now, obviously, the Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs have all reported results so far. What is your take on the financial sector earnings thus far?
TN: Goldman obviously reported really well, Bank of America is down five percent. There was a huge disappointment there. Could get worse. A lot of that had to do with these penalties that were levied several weeks ago. But it looks like the investment banks are doing much better than the consumer banks. And until we get a next round of stimulus and we start to see money moving into the accounts of those guys who are unemployed, which is not a small number in the US, I think consumer banks will continue to suffer.
KHC: On that particular issue of the impasse in terms of a stimulus being introduced before elections, what is the biggest deterrent to consensus being reached on that front?
TN: One of the biggest issues is that you have a lot of states, all of them that are Democrat states that are heavily indebted. So what the House majority leader is pushing is a bailout program for those Democrat states like California, New York, Illinois, that have have billions of dollars in debt that have been racked up over the last 10 or 20 years. What are typically Republican states typically have balanced budgets. It would effectively be the Republican states bailing out the Democrat states. It’s a problem here in the US.
The other item is the House majority leader, Nancy Pelosi, wants to give stimulus checks to illegal immigrants in the US. She wants to give a few thousand dollars to people who are in the US illegally. And the Republicans are saying, no, why would we do that? So those are two of the things that are really holding things up in terms of the stimulus plan. And it’s electioneering. Democrats want to give money to the party faithful in their heavily indebted blue states. And they also want to try to get some votes from the illegal aliens who aren’t legally allowed to vote. But they want to get some loyalty from those illegal immigrants who are in the US.
WSN: Another thing that seems to be having an impact on markets is vaccine news. So every time we hear of a vaccine trial feeding, markets correct. Is it possible at all to quantify how much of this is in the markets really in terms of optimism?
TN: Remember, in 2019, every day, whenever we needed a bump in markets, Trump would tweet, a trade deal is near. And then we finally had the phase one deal in December. It seems like whenever there’s a tweet or some news about a vaccine, it’s because a bump in markets is needed. There’s a lot of cynicism among traders about vaccine. Until we see something actually proven and actually in a market, you’re not going to see a real firm belief in the difference it can make. So it’s going to be at least Q1 or so before we see things deployed.
We don’t necessarily expect the benefits to happen until 2021. But the problem, at least here in the US, is that nobody wants to be the guinea pig. At least half of Americans surveyed don’t want to be the first one. They’re going to have to see some high-level politicians go in, roll up their sleeves, get the job and and really face the consequences, if there are any negative consequences, because a lot of Americans just aren’t believers and they’re really worried about the effects of it.
KHC: OK, switching to the UK, if the UK fails to negotiate a Brexit deadline deal today, how should investors position themselves? And would you recommend shorting sterling assets?
TN: I think it’s a possibility. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend it, because I think the status quo is baked in to expectations. We haven’t necessarily had a positive outlook to negotiations for two or three years now. I think the expectation is that things will continue to muddle through and markets will fold that end. So I don’t know. Outside of a very positive agreement for the UK, I don’t necessarily think there’s huge upside anywhere.
And outside of a very negative concession given by the UK, I don’t think there’s huge downside anywhere because the EU is just intransigent there. They’ve been embarrassed by this whole process. They don’t want to negotiate and they’re not moving at all. So I think we’re in the range of where things will be outside of a major announcement somewhere.
WSN: Looking at China yesterday or a few days ago, his speech has outlined a comprehensive vision of for Shenzhen. What does this mean for Hong Kong’s economic future? Do you see a bright, a bleak one for the city street?
TN: Hong Kong’s fate was sealed in 2014 with the demonstrations. And I’ve been saying this since twenty fifteen. At that time, the MDC and the folks in the central government were planning on other options for the activities that were happening in Hong Kong. What we saw with the announcement in Shenzhen yesterday was simply cementing Shenzhen’s place, the central city at the end of the PRD, right at the end of the Pearl River Delta.
And so Hong Kong is no longer the central location. It is a place to get hard currency. But it’s no longer an industrial location. I believe we’ll start to see financial services move to other places over the next ten years. Not an overnight activity, but it’s something that certainly the central government wants to happen.
KHC: OK, Tony, thanks so much for your time. That was Tony Nash of Complete Intelligence.
His comments in terms of of China also resonate because we’ve got certain diplomats, a top ranking government officials coming to the Asian region for a charm offensive, but also his comments on banks, a tale of two halves, really, consumer banks that well said Bank of America really failed to meet expectations. They did beat expectations, but they felt some way of sort of you and your performance numbers. But then the investment banks like Goldman Sachs have done really well because of the trading desks and the stimulus checks that were written in the third quarter.
WSN: Yeah, actually, 2020 is the reverse of 2008 during the great financial crisis. If you remember then American banks itself, all the investment banks. Right, because of the derivative losses in the books exposed to the shuffle in equity markets. But this time around, actually, the volatility has really helped them. So for a change, they’ve seen incredible jumps in trading investment income. But it’s the main street banks which are feeling the pinch. So, yes, there’s an increase in deposits for these banks.
But for the consumer banks, for the main street banks, nobody or less people are taking out loans, is less credit cut usage as a result. So, you know, no such not such good times for the consumer banks. Better for the. And bad guys out there.
KHC: Now, of course, and Morgan Stanley reports tomorrow we saw net interest margin set wells and Bank of America really being crushed as well. And not many, not many companies reporting earnings are giving outlook statements.