All eyes will be on the US CPI data as it gives us an indication of the quantum and pace of rate hikes. But is the Federal Reserve too slow to see if inflation is coming down when there is anecdotal evidence of slowing car and home sales? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence tells us.
This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The Business Station BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning and Chong Tjen San. 07:00 a.m on Thursday the 13 October. Let’s kickstart the morning with a recap on how global markets closed yesterday.
Looking at US markets, all three key indices close in the red S&P 500, down zero 3%. The Dow and Nasdaq down zero 0.1%. And I think that the S&P has been down for six consecutive days already. Moving to Asian markets, and the Nikkei down marginally 0.02%. Hang Seng down 0.8%. The Shanghai Composite Index back the trend. It’s up 1.5%. Straights Times Index down 0.7%. And our very own FBM KLCI is down 0.5%.
So for some thoughts on where international markets are heading, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks as always for joining us. Now, US CPI data is due out on Friday. What are your expectations for that figure? And how much of this do you think will determine the quantum of the next Fed rate hike?
Everything rests on CPI right now. So I think if it comes in line or higher than expected, it’s just bad news for markets for the next few days. So people are hoping for a lower number because it would provide some relief and some proof that inflation has maybe peaked or is at least slowing down. I think it’s possible that we have it come in slightly under, but given the PPI reading that came today, it’s not a good a sign. So we may see CPI continue to rise in tomorrow’s trading day in the US.
Okay, Tony, we have a history of the Fed being late to the game, right, when it came to inflation. They kept saying “transitory, transitory,” and we know it wasn’t transitory at all. Do you think that they are also late to the game in recognizing that inflation has been brought under control? Because when I look at some of the data points, one of which is used car sales, that’s dropping. New car sales are also dropping. House sales, home sales are also dropping. Is it possible that inflation is being overstated?
Well, you’re 100% right on the Fed being late to the game, both to recognize inflation and to impact it. The problem that we’re seeing with, say, used cars is, although the unit volume is slowing, the unit price is still rising for, say, used cars, for eating out, for these sorts of things. There’s still been upward pressure on these because of the factor input costs and supply chains and labor and others. So it does feel in the US like things have not that prices have gone back down, but that the rate of rise has slowed. That’s what it feels like at the consumer level, except for petrol, gasoline, which has started to rise again over the past week.
Let’s take a look over at the UK, where George Bailey, the Bank of England Governor, said that the BoE would end support for UK Gilts by the end of this week. What does this mean for the Pound specifically and other sterling-denominated UK assets like equities?
Oh gosh, we’re likely to see more devaluation of the Pound. There’ll be pressure on the Pound. Well, maybe not devaluation, but depreciation of the Pound. UK pension funds and other guiltholders will likely have to sell assets if the BoE is stopping their intervention in that market. They’re likely to likely to see downward pressure on those prices. So holders of those assets, like big pension funds, will have to use other assets to pay for their collateral for those investments. So it’s going to be ugly all around once the BoE stops because the market for guilt is so weak.
And we’ve seen for the Bank of Japan, we’ve seen for the Fed, for different auctions, different government debt auctions, there have been zero takers for government debt auction. And that tells me they’re not paying enough. The interest rates for that debt has to rise because people feel like inflation and interest rates are going to rise. So these governments need to offer their debt out at a higher rate so that people can make a profit with it, given the inflation environment.
And Tony moving on to China with a Party Congress meeting happening very soon, and with Xi Jinping set to win an unpresented term, what economic implications would that have for China? And with growth slowing down across the world, how will they aim to achieve the goal of common prosperity?
Yeah, Common Prosperity as a definition can be really taken as raising people up, or it can be taken as pushing kind of those achievers down. Okay. And if you look at China’s history in the late 50’s and the 60’s, as you know, Mao Zedong really pushed those achievers down through the great famine and all this other stuff. So my fear is that as Xi Jinping has consolidated his power, he’s going to start well, he’s already started a couple of years ago, pushing some of those economic overachievers down like Jack Ma and other people.
So I really do worry coming out of this Party Congress that we get a much more restrictive Chinese economy. We’ve already seen foreign investor sentiment sour on China, and we’ve already seen with code lockdowns, with supply chain lockdowns and other things, there has been a functionally more restrictive environment and with sentiment souring as well.
I’m not optimistic, at least in the short term. The Chinese government, whether it’s Xi Jinping or other elements of the Chinese government, they’re going to have to do something to reassure the world that they are a good faith partner in global supply chains and for manufacturing. It’s not going to make them happy to do that. But if they want to continue growing at the rates they have grown, they’re going to have to do that.
So when I say I’m not optimistic about China, I’m not saying China is going to crash. I’m saying I think they’re going to have some pretty mediocre growth rates in the coming years because of the economic environment, regulatory environment and market environment that they’ve cultivated of late.
OK, Tony, I want to stay in Asia and I want to look specifically at Japan because the Yen weakened to a fresh two-decade low, hitting 146 to the US dollar. What do we make of this? Is this really on the back of Corona vowing to maintain its very accommodative monetary policy?
Well, they have a choice. They can either support the yen or they can buy government bonds. And they’ve continued buying their bonds. So I think they’ve made a choice not to support the currency. And with the strong US dollar position and Janet Yellen made some comments today saying, again, saying that it’s really not the US’s responsibility to maintain the currencies, economies of other parts of the world. It wasn’t those exact words, but it was similar. That will likely push the dollar even stronger and we’re likely to see even more depreciation of the Japanese yen.
So there is a lot of pressure on Japan right now, and the Bank of Japan really has some decisions to make about how they’re going to approach that. Maybe they’re okay with depreciating their currency, but it will fundamentally change things like their imports of energy. They’re very dependent on imported energy. They’re very dependent on imported, say, raw materials like metals for their manufacturing. So this really changes their approach to managing those imports.
Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead.
Yeah, I like his comments on the yen. Right. At what point does it then become really painful for the Japanese economy? Net energy imported, clearly LNG from Malaysia is one of the key imports. What does this then mean for inflation? But it’s one country where inflation has been ultra low, almost as low as ours, I think barely 2-3% for them. But for them it’s a bit of a shocker because they’ve been in a deflationary period for more than ten years.
Yeah, and his comments on China, I think he said that growth would likely be slow over the next couple of years, and I guess Xi Jinping and China will unlikely dial back on its Zero Covid policy next week. It looks very unlikely at this point.
I mean, everyone’s hoping to see some kind of announcement to that vein. But again, lots of things to look out for in the weeks ahead.
We just heard headlines coming out Shanghai, parts of it under even more lockdown.
Well, very quickly, let’s take a look at some good news. I guess that’s coming out of Australia. We have contest airways. They said their first half year profit will jump to as much as 1.3 billion Australian dollars as travel demand accelerates and the airline stabilizes operations after a prolonged and bruising period of cancelations and delays. This ends a streak of five consecutive half yearly losses totalling 7 billion Australian dollars.
It said that the frequency of scrap flights, late departures and loss backs are all improving. CEO Alan Joyce said it’s been really challenging time for the national carrier, but the announcement shows that how far the airline has actually improved, and they’ve seen big improvements in their operational performance and acceleration in financial performance as well. And this takes some pressure off Joyce.
Well, if I look at the street, they like this stock. Twelve buys, three holes. One sell. Contest at close was $5 and 17 Australian cents. Tucker price, 653.
All right, 718 in the morning. We’re heading into some messages. Stay tuned. BFM 89 Nine you have been listening.
To a podcast from BFM 89 Nine, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the VSM app.
The Bank of England surprised markets by announcing that it would buy long dated government bonds in order to stabilise capital markets. Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence explains why and what does this mean for the Pound.
Good morning. You’re listening to the Morning Run on Thursday the 29 September. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning. Now, in half an hour, we are going to discuss the political future of Crown Prince Mama bin Salman, or MBS of Saudi Arabia, now that he’s been named the Prime Minister of the country. But as always, let’s kick start the morning with a look at how global markets closed.
Yesterday, US markets had a very good date was at 1.9%. S&P 500 up 2%, while Nasdaq was up a whopping 2.1%. Meanwhile, in Asia, it was all red. Nikkei was down 1.5%, hong Singh was down a whopping 3.4%. Shanghai and Times Index both down 1.6%, while our very own FBM KLCI was down 0.6%.
So for some thoughts on what’s moving international markets, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks for joining us. I want to start off with moves by the bank of England that said it would move to buy long dated government bonds in order to stabilize capital markets. Can you talk us through what the BoE is trying to do and whether this will ultimately be successful?
Yes. So here’s what happened. You had some pension funds who bought debt, debt instruments called Guilt, and they used those gilts as collateral to borrow more money to buy more debt instruments. And they use that as collateral to borrow more money to buy more instruments. So they were many times leveraged on these government debt instruments. And when the value of those gifts declined, they had to provide collateral against the loans they had taken out to buy that debt. So it’s a very circular kind of series of events that’s happened. So because these pension funds got in trouble, the UK, the bank of England wanted to prevent their insolvency, of course, because many of them are government pension funds. So since the bank of England has nearly endless currency, they can help the government come to a relatively orderly decline. So is it ideal? No, but there was some messaging out from the new Prime Minister in Whitehall that was very disturbing to government bond investors and that triggered the sell off and then that triggered a multibillion pound rescue from the bank of England.
Okay, I want to stay on the topic of the United Kingdom, but us about the currency. They must be the only G seven countries still doing quantitative easing in some way. Where do you think the pound is heading? Dendu?
Well, because of the energy environment, they’re going to be spending more money on subsidies to help the British people through the winter and more pound? Denominated spending actually makes the pound stronger, but you have aggressive quantitative easing and you have a relatively stronger US dollar. It’s possible that we see the pound decline, say, 35% more, unless something dramatic happens, like another event like today or another event by the government that really erodes credibility, I don’t see a lot more decline happening, but it’s a weird year. It’s a weird few years that we’re having right now. Right. So I think on some level it’s really hard to tell. And the problem with losing credibility is that you lose credibility. And if they erode even more credibility, it could be worse than anybody thinks. So I think that’s a small chance. I think we’re probably in a range at this point.
And if we take a look over at the US, we have seen federal officials reiterate the very hawkish stance that they have. But San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly said that the bank is resolute by bringing down high inflation, but wants to do so as gently as possible so as not to drive the economy into a downturn. Do you think it’s possible at this point to engineer a soft landing, or is a recession inevitable?
I think it’s possible to engineer a softish landing. I think the problem with the Feds facing as they were very slow to respond to inflation, and so now they’re trying to respond as quickly as they can, and they’re responding in a very kind of brutal kind of way. Mary Daily coming out with these as gently as possible comments are good. And that’s new. Neil Cashari yesterday said he’s another Fed governor. He said there is the risk of overdoing it on the front end, meaning that the Fed could raise rates too quickly. So some of these governors are getting out with messaging, trying to soften the Fed’s hard message over the last couple of months. So the wording from the Feds, ongoing wording generally from especially JPOW, has said that they’re going to be ongoing aggressive hikes, and that’s scaring people. So, like, the Fed needs to be less aggressively hawkish in their language. So that doesn’t mean they turn dovish. That doesn’t necessarily mean they start doing QE. They just need to be less aggressively hawkish. And that’s just toning down the language. I think it’s a little bit too little too late in as much as markets have fallen by, say, 23%, I think, since the highs.
But I think if they start inserting some less aggressively hawkish language, we can have a smoother glide path to balance, meaning higher interest rates, more moderate equity markets at a slower pace.
Okay, Tony, can you help us understand what happened today in markets? Because I’m a little bit confused in the sense that US ten year treasury yields fell the most since March 2020. On a day like this, equities shouldn’t go up, but it did. Why?
Well, I think equity investors are seeing what the bank of England did, and I think on some level they see equity markets versus central banks as a bit of a game of chicken. And the bank of England blinked. And I think equity investors are hoping that the Fed will slow down or blink. This is not a pivot. Meaning when people talk about the Fed and say a pivot, they mean pivoting to quantitative easing and pivoting to dovish language. I don’t see that at all, but I think equity investors are seeing a chance of the Fed becoming less aggressively hawkish, as I was saying. So I think that’s really what happened is just a quick breath think, oh gosh, maybe they’re going to slow down a little bit, which would be positive for equity markets.
And if you take a look at the Nordstream gas pipeline disruption, that does seem to have changed the energy calculus in Western Europe. How do you think it’s going to affect the dynamics of energy prices over there, especially with winter looming?
Yeah, I think it will affect, but there isn’t a lot of gas coming by Nordstream. There are other pipelines bringing gas to Europe, so it’s really, at the moment, more perception than reality. So Europe has a fair bit of gas and storage for winter. It’s 87% of their goal, so they’re in pretty good shape. They’re not in great shape, but they’re in pretty good shape. They can make it all the way through winter with what they have in storage, but they aren’t reliant on Nordstrom to fill their reserves further. So I think the kind of the gut punch on this is that it’s a pretty damaging leak and so it would be really hard to get it back online. If Russia say something happened with a resolution of UK, sorry, Ukraine, Russia, and there was optimism that Russia could turn on the taps again, that would be really hard to achieve. So it’ll be an expensive winter for energy in Europe. But Nordstream doesn’t really impact it all that much. It’s more, say, the long term hopes and expectations for Nordstream.
Tony, thanks very much for speaking with us. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead. Really assessing what’s happening over in the UK with the actions by the bank of England overnight. That has helped somewhat to calm the plunge in the pound sterling that we’ve seen over the past few days. I think this pound has rallied, but how long this equilibrium will last, I think, is anyone’s guess.
Well, this morning pound against ringgate is 5.0260 at the lowest in the last two days, if I’m not wrong, 4.8. Right. So it has truly, truly recovered. But volatile markets ahead, I think still question marks about whether this trust economic policy makes any sense. Confusion over the tax cuts, how they’re going to pay for it, reverberating around global markets because we’ve seen actually global bond yields peak. Question about whether there will be more activities by central banks to intervene, to prop up their currencies or to restore come to their own respective markets, because we saw that in Japan. And apparently even South Korea says it plans to conduct an emergency born buyback program.
Indeed, we do see also that the yuan is coming under pressure, and China central bank has issued a strongly worded statement to warn against speculation after the currency dropped to its lowest versus the dollar since 2008.
I love the language. The language is released yesterday. Do not bet on one way appreciation or depreciation of the yarn, as losses will definitely be incurred in the long term. Can’t spell it out more clearly than that, right? Indeed.
716 in the morning. We’re going to head into some messages. And when we come back, what does long or need more? Another quarry or preservation of its forests? Stay tuned. BFM 89.9 you have been listening to.
In this episode, we talked about some really interesting tech earnings like of Facebook and Amazon, crude and natgas prices, and the bond market. How does the NFP data affect the bond market? Also discussed central bank’s reaction to inflation and why you should be keeping your eyes on the CPI?
This is the fifth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.
TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined by Tracy Shuchart, Nick Glinsman, and Albert Marko. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It helps us a lot get visibility, and it really helps you get reminded when a new episode is out so you don’t miss anything.
We had a lot this week. We had tech earnings, some really interesting tech earnings and market activity as a result. We had crude really ripping this week. And we had bonds raging at the end of the week. So really a lot happening across sectors, NASA classes.
So let’s start with the bond market, Nick. We seem to have gotten pretty much what you mentioned on last week’s show. So can you go into kind of what’s happened and what’s happening in the bond market right now?
NG: Yeah, we’ve basically been ambushed by inflation. That’s what’s happened. You saw yesterday out of the ECB, which was a hawkish twist, possibly one of the worst press conference performances I’ve ever seen in my life. But the facts of the matter are you’ve got five, six, 7% inflation in various countries of the EU. In Lithuania, you’ve got 12%. Okay. So they are failing at their predominant original mandate, which was inflation per the Bundes back from what I’ve been told, there were several members of the MPC.
TN: Sorry. When you say she, you mean Christine Lagarde?
NG: Christine Lagarde. Several members of the NPC wanted to get moved yesterday. Not going to happen but it’s reasonable to think perhaps two hikes this year, but that will still take us to -20 basis points. It will still be negative. Okay. And then that upset the European bond markets.
You have the Bank of England go first with 25 basis points, four dissenters wanting half a point. That started to rock the bond markets a little bit. Then the press conference out of the ECB, and you basically had, goodness how many Sigma move it was in two-year bubbles, two-year German government bonds. But they basically went up over 20 basis points in a couple of hours, terminating early this morning, and they’ve stayed elevated.
And then you had this non farm payroll data. Everybody got it wrong. And the thing is, if you think this month’s figures are nonsense, well, look at the revision.
TN: Sorry, when you mentioned the NFP data, what’s important about the NFP data? Because I think some people looked at the headline employment numbers, some people looked at the wage rate. So can you tell us what’s important there?
NG: Two things. One is nobody was expecting a non farm payroll at like this. Some people will say, well, it’s always going to be revised. Well, okay, then look at the near $400,000 upward revision for December. It’s. All their data. The way it’s coming out. The BLS isn’t necessarily the best, but everything that they look at is strong labor market.
The thing that really upset the bond market was the average hourly earnings. 5.7%. To Albert’s point last week. Wage inflation is here to stay. So having been inundated with calls this morning, that really affects what the Fed… The Fed actually are fighting for their credibility.
TN: When you say wage inflation is here to stay, but it’s really, is the Fed trying to break the back of wage inflation?
NG: Well, that’s something they could impact. Right. By increasing the demand side of the market. We’ll have another idea on inflation next week. The CPI. And the lowest forecast is 7%. The highest is 7.6%. They’re not getting the favorable comparisons because oil has continued to move up. Energies continue to move up. Right.
So assuming we’ve got a seven big handle and heaven help us if we haven’t hit the 8 handle at all, this Fed has no choice. Because as you can see with the bond market, the bond market is going to do the Fed’s job if they don’t do, it.
So every time we get to what you had over the last couple of days with a bit of pullback before the ECB had a bit of pullback by some of the Fed members, the FMC members, and the yoke of, steepened.
AM: I got a question for you, Nick. Can you buy bonds if oil goes vertical? Because I think we both think that oil is going 120 north.
NG: Yeah. Well, no. I think that’s another reason why you can’t be long bonds at the moment and the bond market will adjust to it.
Everybody said the bond vigilantes are dead. When you look at the percentage moves and the price of the bonds, they’re not these are big moves going on.
TS: Nick, can you address a little bit about what will happen to the credit markets as far as the bond movement?
NG: High yield seem to do okay today, which investment grade, fine. Historically, in rising rates, you should see investment grade is somewhat better. High yield, no. High yield. I mean, if these rates are going to start moving up and some of the stuff I heard today tells me “one and done” is not going to happen. It’s going to be more and they’re not going to have a choice.
And the central banks have been basically what you had in the last seven or eight days is the central banks admitting they made a policy error or two last year. And now they’re fearful of making further policy errors. So they’ve got to be seen to do.
And again, to Albert’s point last week, clearly the Biden administration is, had their backs on the inflation front. And I suspect from what I was being told, we’re going to be quite surprised at potentially how aggressive this Fed could be. Not 50 basis points in March. That will be too quick. Too much, too quick. But May, June could well be in play because these numbers aren’t coming down. They’re just not coming down.
TN: Okay. So regardless Q2 is when things start to happen on the interest rate front, on the rates front, right?
NG: Yeah. In terms of QT, I was told the second half, beginning of the second half. Second half.
TN: So does that mean July or November?
NG: Probably means July. Okay.
AM: I honestly think it’s a possibility we do that beforehand just because fiscal cliff is coming in March.
TN: How do they go from QE to QT? Just like that? They shouldn’t be doing QE right now anyway. That’s true. It’s still doing QE. So they missed a beat there.
AM: How do you taper if you’re doing QE still? Why doesn’t anybody ask that question or answer?
TN: I ask it every week.
AM: Tony, I was on this thing with Andreas and “we’re going to taper.” I’m like, “okay, sure.” On paper. But the reality is you’re not because the QE is continuous.
TN: I don’t know. It seems to me from what Nick is saying, it may not be continuous. It seems like that has to stop because the policy position is going to stop in March. Right?
NG: Exactly. Which is why I think 25 basis points, not 50. However, I think right now, until they’ve caught up somewhat forward guidance is not going to be with clarity.
They want to get back to normal so they can be forward guiding according to what we were used to in the deflationary times. Pre-Covid. Okay.
TN: Okay. So when you say pre-Covid, you mean pre-Covid in terms of interest rate and balance sheet?
NG: Yeah. I think it’s exactly what I’ve been told this morning. They want to get back to the interest rate level that was prevalent then. They want their balance sheet back at that level.
NG: And I think that what’s happened is not only have they been shocked by inflation, they shouldn’t be shocked by the false-ty of their forecast, but I think they were shocked by the fact that we’ve got a lot of bubbles going on.
Equity market value, housing market, NFT, crude oil. Crude oil’s not a bubble. Bonds have been a bubble. So I think we’ve got some surprise. And of course, that will then feed it.
Remember I said originally, there’s either a riot in the bond market or riot in equity market.
TN: That’s right.
NG: One or the other. It started with bonds, and then we got a bit of an equity riot yesterday, which was more earnings related. But the thing about it is if you look at interest rates as gravity, zero interest rates with basically zero gravity. So you’re on the moon. Equity starts have been up here. If they’re raising rates, they’re increasing the level of gravity. News and law means that something starts to fall.
I was also told if it’s not a cascade, if it’s orderly, sort of down 20% from here, they’re okay with it.
TN: Okay. That puts us at what, 36?
NG: 35, 36,000, which is still above where we were before Covid. Right?
NG: Fed will be happy with it. This put, is not, there’s no clarity on the put anymore.
TN: Okay. Is it safe to say that your view by the end of the year is sometime between now and the end of the year will hit 35, $3600?
NG: Look, the Fed. These rate markets will carry on. Any mistake by the Fed, any hesitation, it’s going to be punished by rates. And you’ve seen what’s happening, and it happens. It crosses over. You saw what happened in the European bond market as well this Thursday. Bank of England. You saw Gilts market also adjust, and that flowed through to the US market and it continued today.
TN: So do you think the ten-year crosses 2% next month?
NG: Oh, yeah. My target on the ten-year for this year is 260.
TN: Okay, great. So let’s take that and a central bank’s reaction, inflation. Tracy, we’re seeing crude prices just kind of a rocket ship. So can you talk us through that and let us know how does that contribute to next week’s CPI? And Nick mentioned CPI, but what do you expect for that as well?
TS: Well, I mean, I expect CPI to be high. However, the Fed doesn’t really include energy and housing in there and food in their metrics. So that doesn’t necessarily play into that.
That said, I think what we saw today was a lot of shorts being squeezed out of the market. That said, still expecting higher crude prices later this year into Q3.
The reason being because the global oil inventories just drew another 8 million. We have OPEC that just announced another 400K increase for next month this week. Right. And they haven’t even been able to keep up with their production increases. I mean, their compliance is over 132% right now. They just don’t have the spare capacity to move forward. US products consumed last week hit 21.6 million barrels. That’s over 2019 levels.
So globally, we’re seeing higher demand with lower supplies. So this market is likely to continue higher just because of actual supply and demand issues, which I’ve been talking about week over week.
What’s also interesting today is that nobody’s really talking about is that Saudi Aramco just announced that they’re mulling another 50 billion equity stake sale. Right. And so it would be a good thing to keep kind of oil prices higher and inventory is kind of lower. Right?
TS: There’s a lot going on in the market right now.
TN: Okay. And as we see this cold front come through different parts of the US, of course, it’s winter. But do you expect, say, Nat gas to continue to rally or say, for the next couple of weeks or next couple of months, or do you expect that we’re kind of in the zone where we’re going to be through the winter?
TS: I mean, I think we’re kind of in the zone. US nat gas prices are not as subject to the volatility or the constraints that say European nat gas prices are concerned. I mean, we have an overabundance of Nat gas, we tend to flare it.
We’re going to be this year the world’s largest exporter. Right. But that’s not necessarily going to bring I mean, you have to look at our gas prices trading at four or $5 compared to nat gas prices in Europe trading at $40. So I think we’re at a sideways market right now just because of the oversupply that we have.
What we are saying is depending on what area you live in, then natural gas prices tend to vary. So we’re looking at the North East, for example, where we have this cold front. Nat gas prices are at $11. Right. But Henry Hub, which is what everybody’s trading is still at 4 to 5. We’re going to see not gas prices rise in Texas right now because we have a cold front coming through. But again, that’s a regional market.
TN: I was just complaining about gasoline prices being $3 here in Texas earlier today, so I just can’t deal with it. Where is it where you guys are?
AM: $4.25 in Tampa.
TN: $4.25?! Holy cow. What about you, Tracy?
TS: $3.99 in the Northeast.
TN: We’re right at $3, and I can barely stand it.
Okay, let’s move along with the geopolitical stuff. So, of course, Ukraine is on everyone’s mind. And we’ll put a link to this in the show description, the video from the State Department spokesman and the AP diplomacy reporter. Albert, can you talk us through a little bit of that kind of what’s happening there and what is that doing to the situation to find a diplomatic solution?
AM: Well, simplistically, I mean, you have the Biden administration trying to amp up the rhetoric and make it more dramatic, basically to distract from what’s going on domestically in the United States from inflation and social issues, and SCOTUS picks down the list of the problems that are facing the Biden administration. That exchange was unbelievable.
You had an AP reporter just taking him to task and saying “where’s the declassified information? And his response was, “I’m telling you verbally right now, and that’s the declassified information.” That’s unbelievable. You’re not going to get away with that.
This is just more of a symptom of the ineptitude of Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State. He shouldn’t even be called “Secretary of State” anymore. It should be “Secretary of statements,” because that’s all he does. He doesn’t do anything else. And when it’s concerning with Ukraine and his method for, “diplomacy”, he’s a non factor. The United States is a non factor, right now.
They’re behind the eight ball where they keep talking up this rhetoric and putting their allies in Europe behind the black ball here. What do we do here? We need support from the United States to show strength, but realistically, we can’t stop them going into Ukraine.
TN: Okay. Yeah. So let’s just go onto a viewer question here from @SachinKunger. He says, what will happen if there is an actual escalation between Russia and Ukraine? What’s the likelihood of actual escalation and what do you think would happen? Both you and Tracy? Part of it is commodity prices. Is there an impact on commodity supply chains, meaning wheat and gas and other stuff to Europe or other places, or is that not necessarily a huge issue?
AM: Well, I believe we’re about 75% that they’re going to have some sort of incursion into Ukraine. I mean, you don’t mobilize that many people and create supply chain logistics to not do anything. That question really depends on the level of incursion. Right. Because if it’s just ten, 20,000.
TN: It goes back to Biden’s minor incursion.
AM: That’s the Pentagon’s working model. And that’s my working model. 10, 20 thousand, you go in the same place as you were before, you loot the countryside, cause a little disturbance. The west looks weak. You leave after a month or so. Right. That’s the likelihood situation.
Of course, the markets are going to freak out in day one.
TS: That’s exactly what I was going to say. I mean, obviously you’re going to see a reaction in the commodities markets just because we’ve had four years of really not much geopolitical risk factored into a lot of these markets, the agricultural markets, the energy market. Right. Pretty much after Libya had a ceasefire in 2020, all that risk premium kind of came out of at least the energy markets and the agricultural markets, we haven’t really seen a lot of geopolitical risks.
So of course, the markets will freak out. I totally agree with Albert on this point. Whether that’s going to last or not, that’s a totally different story.
TN: Yeah. I also think that we’ve had so much money supply that that cushions geopolitical risk on some level. And interest rates have been so low that that cushions geopolitical risk as well. So as we’re in this interest rate cycle and this balance sheet cycle, geopolitical risk counts for more. It’s more costly for companies, it’s more costly for countries and investors.
NG: I would add one other thing. These markets are not trading liquidly. So these moves on geopolitical risk could be exaggerated. Right?
TS: Exactly. My point is that geopolitical risk will be exaggerated at this point.
NG: You can see there’s no liquidity, right?
AM: Yeah. To be fair, any kind of event right now just makes the markets look like it’s a crypto exchange. 30% up, 30% down 300 points on the ES. That’s insane.
TN: On that, Albert, let’s move to some tech earnings and let’s talk about Facebook and Amazon. So if we want to talk about big moves, everyone kind of knows this, but can you talk us through a little bit of that? But I’m more interested in why it’s happening. Why is everyone negative on Meta and why are they positive on Amazon?
AM: Well, from my perspective, the Fed and their cohorts use maybe a dozen companies to pump the markets. Right. They’re mainly tech. Right. They’ve expanded out into a few other things, but it’s mainly tech, Facebook being one of them, Amazon being another. AMD and Google and all these guys. Right. All these big tech names.
Now when you see Facebook miss and a couple of other miss, and the markets start to get weak, there’s a point to where… This goes back to what Nick says about different levels in the markets and whatnot. He always stresses that with me. There’s a point to where if they break this level, we’re going down to 4100 or 4000 or God forbid, 3900. Right. So that lined up right when Amazon’s earnings were coming up. And I’m looking at the market and I’m looking at these levels and I’m like, there is absolutely no way they’re going to allow Amazon to miss. Whether they let them look the books or say something in guidance or whatnot. And lo and behold, what happened? Amazon beat. Did they really beat? Probably not. You know what I mean? Yeah. And then Pinterest that nobody cares about beats and then Snapchat. I don’t even know what the hell why they’re a company. They beat unbelievably. I think they were up like 50, 60% and after hours. Right.
So now they have their juice to pump the markets back up to 45, 30 or even maybe 4600 next week before the fiscal cliff becomes a problem.
TS: You also have to look at the bond market. Right? I mean, the more the ten-year tanks, the more that’s going to drag on tech.
TN: Right. So what does that tell us about the next couple of weeks, specifically next week? But the next couple of weeks? As we’ve seen, say Meta come down, Facebook come down. But we’ve seen these other things really rally. Where is tech as a sector?
AM: It’s a pump sector. That’s all it is right now. There’s nothing really behind it. It’s built on zero rates. Well, we know we’re going to get rate heights. So what are you betting on at the moment?
TN: Right. And that’s the basis of my question. If tech is a deflation play and we’re in inflationary environment and we’re going to have rate rises, what does that mean for tech in the near term? So are we at the kind of tail end of tech? That’s my real question.
NG: We’re at the tail end whilst we have to see these interest rate rises come through. And actually, you don’t necessarily have to see the central banks officially raise because if they don’t, the bond markets are… And then there’ll be a catch up. This is the problem. If they Underperform in their credibility catch up because they’ve already implicitly admitted their errors of policy, bond market will adjust and they have to catch up again.
Now, if they do something surprising on the rate side. So yesterday was an ECB shock, right? Today, there was nothing to do with the Fed. It was the data. Well, we’ve got that CPI date next week. Right. That’s going to be very interesting because I agree with Tracy. Core is at a certain level which is still too high. But it’s the full Monty, the full CPI that labor uses when they’re discussing their wage claims. Practically, that’s the behavior of economy.
TN: CPI is the single biggest event next week. Is that fair to say?
TS, AM, NG: Yes.
TN: Okay, so let’s look at that. What if it is, say seven, which is kind of the expectation, I guess the lower bound of expectation kind of. Right? So let’s say it’s seven or let’s say it’s even five. What does that mean for us? Does that mean continued, easy Fed? Or does that mean you have the same assumptions and that’s just kind of a milestone or something that we’re passing along the way to higher rates anyway?
NG: We’re on the way to higher rates anyway.
TS: I mean, if it’s five, the market, temporarily if it’s five, the market temporarily will probably rally because that lessens the effect that Fed is going to raise. Right. That percentage will probably go down. But that’s a temporary. If we’re just talking about market reaction on the data release, I don’t really see that happening. I don’t see 5% coming in. I don’t see that a possibility.
TN: But then let’s look at the other side. What if it’s eight and a half? What happens then?
NG: Well, then in the old days, it would have been an inter meeting rate hike.
TN: Okay. Right.
NG: And the bond market will just, it’ll be another riot. Even if the core is steady. Big figure eight on the full CPI? that would shock a few people. Like people were shocked today with the non- farm payroll data.
Literally, if you could watch Bloomberg TV, it was like. They couldn’t believe what was going on.
TN: So we’re in that place in the market where the porridge has to be just right. Is that fair to say?
TS: I think we’re in for volatility. Right? I mean, we’ve been experiencing volatility for the last month or so. I think this will continue until March, until we have some resolution of whether the Fed is going to raise rates or not.
In between, it’s going to be volatile because everybody’s looking at intermittent data saying, does this mean the Fed is going to raise rates? Does this mean the Fed is going to look do you know what I mean? So I think we’re in that pushbull thing, and I think that volatility will continue into next week. I think that volatility will continue until actually the March meeting, until we get some resolution on whether the Fed is going to raise rates and by how much.
TN: Okay. So if I just a couple of things for you to agree or disagree with, just short yes, no. Next week volatility in equities with downside bias, you agree or disagree?
TN: Disagree. Nick, you agree or disagree? Downside bias, you agree. Tracy, equities, agree or disagree?
TS: I think it depends on the sector. Okay. Give me one or two. I think we’ll see, my downside bias is in tech and then obviously, yes, because it’s heavy tech. Right. And so I think we see sideways markets in the Dow and the Russell.
TN: Okay, then let’s do the same exercise for commodities. I know there’s a lot of companies out there, but generally commodities. Choppy with an upside bias. Agree or disagree?
TS, AM: Agreed.
NG: That’s a dollar call.
TN: Okay. Explain that.
NG: Yesterday because of the dollar’s weakness against the Euro and the Dixie, I tend to agree with you. I think it’s going to be choppy until we see the color of the CPI number.
TN: Okay. Very good. Anything else to add for the week ahead?
NG: Just keep your eyes on the bond market. My mantra.
TN: Very good. Okay.
TS: Keep your eyes on B come.
TN: Thanks guys. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend. And have a great week ahead.
TS: Thank you.
TN: I don’t know the left side of my screen is the pineapple people.
AM: We’re going to call Nick Luke for the episode today.
NG: The professional version of Luke.
AM: Okay. Anyways, I’m done joking. Let’s get this thing on the road. Okay.
In this QuickHit episode, our guest Julian Brigden answers “What signals are markets missing right now?” How important is the equity market right now in the current economic cycle? Most importantly, how long before we can see directional change in the market, and what you should do before then?
Julian Brigden is based in Colorado and started in the markets in the very late 80s, trading precious metals. He moved into trading FX, then switched into sales for various investment banks. He also worked for a policy consultancy group called Medley Global Advisors in the very late 90s to early 2000s and fell in love with the research space. Just over ten years ago, he set up MI2. MI2 was grown organically. Julian can be seen together with Raul from Real Vision where he does Macro Insider.
This QuickHit episode was recorded on November 3, 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this What signals are markets missing right now? 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.
TN: Julian, I’ve watched a lot of your videos, and I love a lot of the thoughts you’ve talked about recently about velocity, about the yield curve, about central banks. It’s all great stuff. I guess one of the things that I’m really wondering right now, especially, is what is the market missing? What are market participants missing? Because this is something that I don’t hear a lot of talk about. We hear a lot of the Fed should do this or this asset is going that way or whatever. But what is the market missing right now?
JB: Right. So we’ve been on this inflation gig since, actually, March of 2020. Sorry. Apologies. So at the depths kind of the pandemic. It’s a very long thesis. I’ve probably been in the inflation court really since the end of 2016. But in this sort of current phase, and we’ve been in and out of them, you have to. That’s what markets are about. We have been on this inflation kick since March of 2020. And initially it was just a trade breakevens, which are a metric of inflation in the bond market had got crushed because they were held by the risk parity boys as their inflation hedge in their portfolios. And they delevered like everyone else did in the spring of 2020. And those things dropped to like, five-year inflation was priced at 50 basis points.
Well, Tony basically trades the cycle, right. So as the economy recovers, which you had to assume it would, they were going to come back. But as we’ve sort of taken a step back and from a bigger picture perspective, we’d always said that even as soon as Trump came in, when you start playing with just monetary, that’s one thing. But when you add that fiscal side into the equation, into the mix, it becomes totally and utterly different.
And we’ve actually always used the period from the mid 1960s to the late 1960s. That’s where I kind of think we are. So we’ve had these sort of pro-cyclical, unnecessary, excessively large fiscal stimulus. And they came to create this accelerative oscillation. Okay. So I’ve got a couple of very smart ones, way smarter than me.
Classic example of the A students working for the C student. And we were looking at inflation back in 2016, and I was just looking at the chart in the 60s, and my quant came up to me and went, Boss, that’s an accelerative oscillation. And I said, Steven, what the hell is that? And he goes, well, he was, by the way, he was a mining expert, specialized in explosives. And he said, kind of what you do when you model an explosive wave is it goes out in a wave until it hits something. And if it hits it at the wrong time, far from the wave decelerating because you expected to hit something and stop, it can actually accelerate the oscillation of the wave. And so essentially, from an inflation perspective is that the way that you think about this is you get something like the Trump stimulus, which was back in late 2016, totally unnecessary fiscal stimulus at the wrong point of the cycle, where we didn’t need it.
So far from sort of rolling over like a sine wave, which the economic cycles behave that way, too. And inflation cycles generally behave that way because of self limiting on the tops and the bottom, cycle actually picks up amplitude. And what you tend to do is you create policy error after policy error after policy error because you’re behind the curve all of a sudden, you know what it’s like in trading, right?
If you’re on your game and you’re short something or long something and it moves in your direction, you might take some profit. Look for the retracement, double up, whack it hard. You get caught the wrong way into the move and your head just becomes discombodulated. And that’s what happens from a policy perspective. So. When I look at this current situation, the first thing I would say is I think people are, they’ve finally woken up to this concept that maybe inflation is not transitory. I think they’re right. We’ve been on this gig for a long time, but the immediate risks, I think, are twofold.
The first one is they are not. And it’s not necessarily here in the US. I think it’s going to be a problem here in the US, but I think it could be a bigger problem, actually, in Europe and for the bond market that matters because all those bond markets are all fungible. Right. So if bonds blow out or your eyeboard, the front end contracts in Europe blow out, it’s all going to affect our markets over here. And. They’ve totally underestimated the price pressures in the pipeline.
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JB: Yeah, we have. But not. I think we’ve got another maybe three months of numbers of I think could make people’s eyes bleed. You’ve got this price pressure in the system. Three possible outcomes. Price pressures dissipate. PPI pressures just dissipate. Okay?
Well, we just got the market survey this last week. Pressures are up. We just got the ISM services. Price pressures are back up to the previous highs. We just got the Swedish service thread bank PMI services yesterday. Price pressures at new highs. Okay.
TN: China’s PPI are like 14% or something year on year, right?
JB: Exactly. And their PMI price pressure number, which was dropping, just re accelerated. So option number one, that somehow price pressures just miraculously evaporate, doesn’t seem like an option. Option number two, the companies eat the price increases. They take them in margins. Well, if that’s the case. And this is one of the things the equity market hasn’t woken up to, then your assumptions on margin growth are. The good stuff that you can get here in Colorado, right.
Now thus far in the United States, it’s absolutely not the case, right? Companies are pushing through those price increases. Okay. Which brings you to option number three. Price inflation, given where these PPIs are, right? So US, even the final demand, the new sort of slightly adjusted, surprising how when they do adjust these things, Tony, they generally drop from the old metric?
Now it’s like, two and a half to 3% under the old PPI series. But anyway, it doesn’t matter. Eight and a half percent here in the US. I think we printed another 45 high in Sweden. And I’m picking Sweden because it’s a nice open economy. And you see the data come through very quickly. I think there’s one of those 17%. Spain, 23. Eurozone, 13 and a half. Okay. So higher than the US.
If companies can pass those price increases on, what makes people think for a nano second that CPI is going to stay here in Sweden at two and a half in the Eurozone at four. Why couldn’t Eurozone HICP, which is their CPI, which is max only ever had a 5% spread to PPI, right? At the moment, we have a nine plus spread. Why couldn’t HICP print somewhere, my guess is between eight and a half and eleven?
TN: So those are Chinese figures?
JB: Yeah. Exactly. What the hell does this? Do you think Lagarde is going to be able to say, like King Canute, “stop?”
TN: So in one of your interviews that I watched, you said central bank assets and inflation are effectively the same thing. And I think that’s really interesting. Can you explain that a little bit?
JB: So the balance sheet? Yeah. Essentially. Look, you print money, which is what it is. QE is printing money. Monetary 101. This is how the Roman Empire ended up falling apart. And you can inflate asset prices because I know this is not how central banks initially told you it worked actually. Having said that, I do love it. And we’ll come to this, I think the second point, the markets are missing in a second, and another central banker.
The only central banker who’s been truly honest was Richard Fisher, the old Dallas Fed central bank chairman. And I love the Texans from the Dallas Fed because they’re just straight shooters. They’re just bloody honest, right? I mean, he came out on CNBC, and I remember watching this interview because it was done on CNBC Europe, I think. And the guy always had one of the British guys on CNBC in the US. The guy nearly fell off his damn chair when Richard Fisher said, “of course, it was about the equity market. It was always about the equity market.” Right.
We just front load this stuff and they could boost asset prices. And you can look at the PA of the S&P. You can look at the S&P itself. You can look at the NYSE, you can look at the value line geometric index, which is a super broad metric of US Equities, and you can put them all against the Feds balance sheet. And it’s the same thing.
TN: Let me ask you this. And I hear you and I am aligned with what you’re saying. The question is, why does it have to do with the equity markets? And my understanding is that it has to do with equity markets because that’s where American 401Ks are. And there’s such a large baby Boomer cohort with their money in 401Ks that they can’t be losing their wealth. Is that the reason why it’s always about equity markets?
JB: Well, I mean, I say it’s housing as well, right. But they tend to try and deemphasize that one because politically, that can be a bit of a pain in the ass. Right. But look, this is true monetary debasement 101, right? I mean, we wrapped it up in this veneer that is G7 central banking or the sophisticated theories. But we’ve done this throughout history, right? We just debased the currency.
People forget in the Weimar Republic, the Reichsmark was imploding in value. Sorry, the pre-Reichsmark was imploding in value, and the stock market was going up thousands of percent today to keep phase with this because it’s a claim on a tangible asset, right? A cash flow or a piece of land or a factory or whatever, right? So this is not new. I think this is. No, I think it’s not so much about the 401Ks. The thing that I think is truly problematic in the US is what I refer to as the financialisation of the real economy.
Tony, that CEOs are not paid to produce a thing. There are actually numerous companies in the S&P that I’ll argue don’t produce anything, right? They are simply an utterly shepherds of an equity price. That’s how they’re compensated. We talk about perverse incentives. Okay. That’s how they’re compensated. They basically compensate to bubblish their stock as much as they possibly can.
And as a result, the minute that stock prices got going up, let alone fall. They look immediately to the bottom line as to how to address costs and keep those profits falling. So if you look at the correlations between, and it’s just frightening, the correlations between total US employment and the NYSE, broad metric of US Equities, Capex and NYC. They’re the same bloody chart.
JB: So literally, you can’t really allow stocks even to go sideways for an extended period of time. You’ve got to keep this game go.
TN: Sure, it’s not the flow, right? We’re in a flow game. We’re not in a stock game.
JB: Bond markets much more flow in terms of the shape of the curve is much more a flow thing. Equities are really about, they care when the flows turned off, but they’re really about the quantity.
TN: Overall stock. Okay. So what else are markets missing?
JB: The second thing is I just want to raise this. There’s a really important Bloomberg story out today by Bill Dudley, the ex New York Fed President, ex Goldman guy. And once again, I love the honesty of these retired US Fed guys. And he’s been talking at some length about policy error. But today is fundamentally the issue.
So let’s use that old storyline. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it fall? Okay. So in the last few weeks, we’ve had a lot of pressure at the front end of these bond markets. We built in rate hikes. And that’s a market assumption on what the Fed or ECB or the Bank of England or the RBA or whatever is going to do with their policy, right?
But at the end of the day, Tony, do we care what banks here in the US earn in the overnight from Fed funds? No. There’s literally no relevance unless you’ve got some sort of liable based funding mortgage. But really, essentially, even then, has no relevance to the real world. Right? Policymakers raise policy rates to affect broad financial conditions. And broad financial conditions are essentially five metrics depending on the waiting in every single index. And they are short term rates, let’s say two years. Long term rates, let’s say ten years. Credit, tightness. Level, equity market. And the Dollar.
And what you can see in the US and most other places is despite the fact that we’ve seen these big moves at the front end of these bond markets, financial conditions haven’t budged. Ten-year yields, if anything, have fallen. It’s a bare flattener. It’s kind of what you would expect at this point in the cycle. But nonetheless, there is no tightening coming from the ten year sector. Because there is no tightening coming from the ten-year sector.
There is no tight, not much tightening going on in the mortgage market, okay? Because there is no tightening coming from the ten-year sector, the equity market where the Algos literally just trade ten-year treasuries is their metric and wouldn’t know what a Euro dollar was, in order to fund the interest rate contract if it bit them in the proverbial ass, okay? Have completely ignored what’s going on. The dollar is caught in the wash between these various central banks who are all behind the curve and has gone nowhere. And credit hasn’t moved, because he’s looking at the equity market.
So there has been no tightening of financial conditions. What Bill Dudley said is that’s all that bloody matters. And so until there is a tightening of financial conditions in an economy which at least the President, probably, I suspect well into the middle of next year could change quite dramatically in the middle of next year. But for the moment, and that’s a eight, seven, eight month trading horizon, until there is a tightening of financial conditions, which means stocks down, credit wider, dollar up, ten-year yields higher. Those two year yields have to go further and further and further and further.
And this concept that the market is currently pricing, that we’re going to try and raise a little bit. And the whole edifice is going to blow up because they have what they refer to as the terminal rate, kind of the highest projection of where rates are essentially going to go in the tightening cycle is that one six is wrong.
We may have to go way through that. And Bill Dudley actually talks about 2004, 2006, where the Fed started off way behind the curve and the economy just kept running. Demand was there and they had to go 225 basis points and they had to do all sorts of other stuff before the damn things slowed down.
TN: True. When we consider that. So you’re saying, really seven, eight months before we see a major directional change in markets. I don’t want to put words in your mouth.
JB: Well, look, I think there’s sufficient, I do not see this as a slowing economy. I see this as an economy where demand is utterly excessive because central banks and policy makers misread. I think it was a fair mistake to make. I’m not critical of that, misread Covid.
TN: Sure. Policy errors are all over the place.
JB: All over the shop. Right. So we have far too easy, excessive policy. Right. Look, today the Fed is going to taper, but let’s be honest, tapering isn’t tightening. Tapering is less easing. We are driving into the brick wall that is the output gap, right. The economy at full capacity, not at 120 billion a month. But let’s say from next month, 105. Right. If you drove into a brick wall in your car at 105 versus 120, I think it would make very little difference to the outcome.
TN: That’s a good point. But we all remember the taper tantrum. So will we see a bit of a breather in markets before things amp up again? Or do you think people are just going to take and stride this time?
JB: I don’t think we get a taper tantrum this time. I think the Fed has been pretty clear. You’re sort of getting a little bit of a taper tantrum at the front end of these bull markets. But because most of the world doesn’t look at wonks like me, care what EDZ3 is, right? Or LZ3 in the UK, right? Or Aussie two year swaps. But most people don’t, aren’t aware of them, and they should be. But I mean, that’s what policymakers have to watch.
And as I said, I think the bigger thing is how far the rates have to go in an economy where demand is literally off the charts, where we’re seeing wage growth in the private sector from the ECI at 4.6%, where John Deere factory workers just rejected a 10% wage increase this year with following subsequent increases that probably work out around six odd percent over the next five years where they just said, forget it. Not enough, right? Not enough.
TN: Look at retail sales. The stepwise rise in retail sales over the past six months is incredible how quickly.
JB: I’m looking at stuff and if you look at the senior loan, which is the banking where they ask the bank loan offices what they intend to lend and who they’re lending to, and are they tightening conditions or whatever. Lending, they’re falling over backwards to try to lend money. Now we know that people have got some cash on sidelines because of the stimulus.
We know that companies have still got PPP loans that they’re still working through. So demand is a little lower, but supply is literally off the chart. So lending bank willingness to lend to consumers, decade highs, right. Bank willingness to lend to companies all time survey highs, 30-year highs. Right. So even if we were to get and I don’t think this is the case, even if wages would not keep space with inflation next year in the US, people have got plenty of places to go and borrow money to keep consuming.
So I just think this is an economy which is in the middle of its cycle. I mean, most cycles are three years long, three plus years long, with 15 months 16 months into this thing. I mean, this is mid cycle stuff. It’s the easiest of easy money, right?
TN: Okay. And so just kind of to end the three-point sermon, what else are markets missing? This is really interesting for me because I’m hearing a lot of different kinds of thesis out there every day, but very few about kind of what the market’s missing.
JB: Look. And I think it comes back to the final point, which we alluded to earlier. The equity market is making an assumption, of course, the equity market, I’m a bond guy and an FX guy. I hate the equity market. My glass is absolutely, defensively, half empty. Right. And ideally someone’s paid in it. But that’s the best day for it. That’s like the best market for me. Right. But the XG market is doing its classic thing where they’re just assuming the best of both worlds. So they’re assuming that margins are going to grow, so there is no cost pressure that could infringe on those. And we’re starting to see that.
I think Q4 numbers that we get in Q1 will start to get a little bit more interesting. Right. But we sure what wild wings or whatever the thing is called the Buffalo Wing place just got stumped because their wage costs were up and their input costs were up and they couldn’t pass it on. Right. But the equity market, as is classic, has taken the highest margins in 20 years, which is what we have now. And they’ve assumed that next year it grows even more. And in ’23, it grows yet again. Okay.
So as I said, if you’ve got this cost push and firms can’t pass it on, that doesn’t happen. Margins get crushed. Don’t think that’s a risk here in the US at the moment. Do think that’s a risk in Europe because these PPI increases are just so large. Right. And if you’re a Spanish company and your PPI went up 23.6%, you cannot pass on 23.6% increases to the consumer. In the US, if your prices went up eight and a half, you can wiggle a little bit through productivity, maybe a couple. You can probably get away with 5% price increases. Okay. So margin assumptions may be utterly wrong, but if they aren’t, what does that mean, Tony? It means that price inflation is rising, and in which case inflation is not transitory. And that’s the second big assumption. So they’ve assumed margins rise. Oh, and conveniently, inflation is transitory. And that in a cost push environment, you can’t square that circle. Right. One has to be wrong.
My gut is at the moment, it’s the latter in the US, not the former, more worried about the former in Europe in Q4. But that’s another thing, which I think the market has miraculously misread. But as I said, as those pricing pressures come through, I think policymakers and markets will have to adjust significantly. And I think it set us up for a policy error sometime next year. Probably huge. Probably.
TN: We’ll trip over ourselves with policy errors until we see this. And then when we do see some sort of reckoning, we’ll have even more policy errors.
JB: Correct. As Raul and I say constantly on Macro Insiders you just do buy the dip. You just got to figure out when the dip comes because you don’t want to be in when the dip comes and when you hold your nose and grab your bits and decide that you’re going to jump into the deep end and buy it by the seller.
TN: Great. Julian, thank you so much for your time. This has been fantastic for everyone watching. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel. It really helps us a lot to get those subscribers. And Julian, I hope we can revisit with you again sometime soon. Thanks very much.
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.
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.
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?