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Week Ahead

Preparing for Economic Turbulence: The Fed’s Q2 Danger Zone and Russian Oil Cuts

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In this episode of “The Week Ahead,” host Tony Nash is joined by Brent Johnson, CEO of Santiago Capital, and Tracy Shuchart, a commodities trader at Hilltower Resource Advisors, to discuss the most pressing economic themes for the upcoming week.

One of the key topics of discussion is the Federal Reserve’s “Q2 Danger Zone,” which Brent believes could be a potentially scary time for the economy. He notes that we are still less than a year away from the first rate hike, and it often takes 12-18 months for rate hikes to show up in the economy. By the summer of 2022, we will be right in the heart of that time period, coinciding with YoY inflation numbers that should come down due to the crazy comparisons from the previous year. Brent warns that even if inflation remains somewhat sticky, we could see a bunch of disinflationary prints at the same time, which will make it challenging for the Fed. Moreover, by that time, Owner Equivalent Rents are expected to fall, adding to the Fed’s challenges.

Tracy then delves into the topic of oil production and cuts, specifically Russia’s decision to cut 500k barrels. She explains what this means for the market, how it could impact crude prices, and who will be hurt the most – Asia or the West. Tracy also raises an interesting point about Russia’s decision to smuggle oil through Albania despite the cuts, leaving us with questions about their motivations.

Finally, the discussion turns to commercial and industrial loan growth, which saw a sharp rise after rate hikes started. Tracy explores why this is happening, and what it means for the economy. She believes that companies are taking out loans to fund capital expenditures, which is good news for the economy as it indicates that businesses are investing in themselves and their future growth.

Key themes:
1. The Fed’s Q2 Danger Zone
2. Capex & C&I Loan Growth
3. 500k fewer Russian barrels

This is the 55th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Brent Johnson and Tracy Shuchart. We may be joined by Albert Marko at some time, but we’re just going to focus on Brent and Tracy right now. Guys, thanks so much for taking the time to join us. I really appreciate it.

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We’ve got a few key things, themes we’re going to cover today. First is the Fed’s second quarter danger zone. There’s a lot setting up for Q2, and Brent’s going to talk us through that. Then we’re going to get into Capex and CNI, commercial and industrial loan growth. And then finally, we’re going to talk about those Russian barrels that are coming off the market this month, and Tracy will talk us through the impact there.

Okay. Guys, thanks a lot for taking the time. Brent, when I asked you what you want to talk about, you really want to talk about this kind of Q2, potentially Q3, these issues that we may see in markets in that time. Can you help me understand or help us understand what are you looking for there? Because there’s a lot going on, of course, and you can talk us through a number of items. But I have a tweet from Daniel Lacalle, who’s joined us a few times talking about the ECB under pressure for faster rate hikes.

We’re seeing similar stuff in the US. But markets keep going up. What are you thinking?


Well, I think there’s a couple of very, I guess, poignant and competing narratives fighting each other right now. And they’ve been fighting each other for a while. And I’ll explain why I think they’re fighting each other. But I’ll also explain a little bit about why I think Q2 and Q3 have the potential, again, there’s no guarantee. We’re all speculating here. But has the potential for one of these narratives to kind of come to the fore or something to change dramatically in Q2 or Q3. So I think the first narrative that has been around for a year now, so we’re almost still not yet, but very close to now, the one year anniversary from the first rate hike. And I think a lot of people forget that it hasn’t even been a year yet since they started raising rates. And typically when you raise rates, it doesn’t have an immediate impact in the economy. Sometimes it takes nine months, twelve months, 18 months for those rate hikes actually kind of work there through the economy and have the full effect of them show up. So we’re not even to a year yet, but in another three or four months we’ll be in the 12- to 18-month range when they typically start to show up.

Now, in the meantime, we continue to have inflationary prints that are stickier than some people have expected. Again, part of the reason markets have been pretty favorable for the last two, three, four months is the expectation that rate hikes would slow and potentially even reverse and maybe we even get to a cutting cycle. And as a result, the markets are front running that. But now in the last couple of weeks and so at the beginning of the year, we had a big rush up in bond prices as rate hike expectations came down, and stock prices and commodity prices. But for the last month, let’s call it since the, to the last week of January, 1 week of February, I’ve kind of turned it violently sideways. We’ve gone up and down and up and down and up and down, but kind of just treaded water. And actually if you look back two years, we’re kind of where we were a couple of years ago. We’ve gone up and we’ve gone down, but we’re kind of where we were two years ago. But because of the stickiness, the relative stickiness of the inflationary prints, this idea that rate hikes are now going to go the other way is starting to get a little queasy.

And maybe they’re going to have to go back to 50, maybe they’re going to have to go longer, maybe they’re going to have to go higher for longer. And so now markets are trying to figure this all out. And so the reason I think once we get into Q2 and Q3, it gets very important is for two reasons. One, if things stay sticky in the meantime, the Fed may have to either keep hiking or continue to message higher for longer. And then if at the same time all of the previous interest rate hikes start to show up in the economy and then at that point we are going to be in the heart of the year-over-year inflationary prints. And those will most likely show negative. Even if inflation is still high, it’s probably, you know, I think was it last June or last July we had the 9% print in inflation. So even if this year it comes in at 7%, it’s going to show a negative two year-over-year. And so that puts the Fed in the position, okay, inflation is starting to come down, we’re making progress. But you still have high inflation.

So does that mean that they stop or do they start? And it’s going to be at the same time where all the previous rate hikes are going to be showing up in the economy. Right.


Sorry, go ahead.


No, but my point is we’re getting to the point where a lot of the decisions that have already been made would naturally start showing up in the economy, but we’re not quite there yet. In the meantime, the Fed is in a tough spot as to whether to continue rate hikes or to slow them down because we are seeing some disinflationary pressures. Right. And so they’re in a tough spot right now.


Yeah. When Powell spoke, gosh, I think it was in the last meeting, he talked about the lag effects of Fed policy, and it was almost in a defensive way, saying, hey, it may not look like much is going on, but there are serious lag effects to our policies and you better watch out. And I think that’s when they rolled out the 25s or they started rolling out the 25s.

I’m not sure that at this point I see an end to 25s. Sam Rine’s on the show talks several times about how it’s at least 25s until mid-summer. Right.


I think so.


And I think we’re starting to get some nervousness from the pace of inflation in Europe. And I think that’s kind of bleeding over here a little bit because people are seeing the prints in Europe and saying, gosh, is that coming our way too? The ECB is going to have to hike faster. And so what’s that going to do to say, the dollar and other things as well? And when we have a relatively strong dollar, the impact that’s having on commodity prices, it mutes them. Right?


So now you just touched on something else that’s very important to understand. Okay. So if Europe is pressured to keep hiking, or at least hiking more than expected, that has the potential, again, no guarantee. Not everything trades on rates, but it has the potential for the dollar to fall more. That’s why the dollar has fallen for the last four months, is the pace of rate hike expectations. So if we already have sticky inflationary data and then the dollar starts to fall in price again, that can actually provide a tailwind for the inflation that the Fed is trying to counteract. Right. So again, it puts them in this tough spot. The other part that you just mentioned is, and this is where it gets tricky as well, is if you look over the last year, but not just last year, if you look over the last ten years, oil is about where it was a year ago and about where it was ten years ago. Natural gas is below where it was a year a you go. Huge drop off in about where it was ten years ago. Corn is about where it was ten years ago.

Wheat’s about where it would… Copper? You look at all these commodities, they’ve actually come down quite a bit from a year ago. But what has remained the stickiest is the wage data or sorry, wage inflation. Those costs, I know we’re going to talk about that at some point as well. And that could be more to do with a structural issue that the Fed has really no control over. Right. If people have, they’re retiring, they’re moving out of the workplace and they’re just not coming back. And so you have a demographic issue where there’s just not enough supply of labor. It pushes up the price of labor. That is something the Fed could influence, but not as easily as they can influence asset prices. And so, again, you get into this situation where I think everybody knows the further down the road we go, the higher the likelihood we have some kind of an event, right? Whether that’s a crash or just a volatility explosion or whatever it is, I think everybody knows that something down the road is not going to be good. Now, whether that’s six days or six months or six years from now, that’s the debate.

But I think we all know that there’s the potential for this great event. And again, if we get into Q2 or Q3 and it hasn’t happened yet, and you have this confluence of all these events that I’m talking about and in the meantime, asset prices have gone higher or at least held where they’re at, you have the potential for this bursting of this bubble, for lack of a better word.


Right? Go ahead, Tracy.


Sorry, I had a question. So we’re seeing that two-year and five-year inflation expectations start to rise again. So what do you make of that? And what does that mean for the Fed and the Fed’s decision? Right?


Yeah. Well, I think this gets to everything we’ve just been taught it puts them in a tough spot because they’ve already… They have very clearly started to slow, right? Now, they have said we’re going to maintain and we’re not cutting and we could be higher for longer. But there’s no question that they have, at least for the last four months, have not been hiking at the same pace that they were last summer. But the worst thing for the Fed is if they’re back at 25 basis points now, or if they were to indicate that maybe we’ll have one more hike of 25 and then we’ll be done. But then you get inflation starting to rise again. I mean, that’s horrible for that. That’s the worst possible thing for the Fed and it throws their whole object not objectivity. It’s not that their repu… Not that their reputation is great anyway, right? But after getting the last couple of years so wrong, for their credibility to be challenged again is a really tough thing. And I’ve mentioned this before, you cannot underestimate, in my opinion, you cannot underestimate the influence of getting it wrong would have on Powell’s legacy. And I think he’s been very clear that he doesn’t mind having asset prices lower.

In fact, I think he wants asset prices lower. And so while I completely understand the argument for they’re going to have to cut, I don’t think he can personally take the risk of stopping hikes too soon because the risk of stopping too soon is extremely high for him personally.


I want to go back to your wages point for a minute. So, you know, when we have a company like Walmart make their minimum wage $15 and then that cascades through the economy because it doesn’t hit everyone immediately, you know, there’s a lag to that hitting the economy too, right. What you talk about? And it doesn’t just hit people making below $15. Those people who are making $15 are like, wait, I was making 15. Now everyone’s making $15. So it cascades up a little bit, right. And it cascades out. And so that takes months to hit also. Right. So that just happened in January, this impact on wages, at least for the next couple of months, right, or do you think it happens?


I think so. And again, when we get to an event, let’s call it either a credit event or a contraction in the money supply or a bursting of an asset, whatever, when we get to an event and things turn the other way quickly, then that stuff can change quickly. But until that happens, there is a tailwind for them to get worse or for the structural wage inflation for them to work themselves through the economy. And the other thing that I think many people forget this is that and I got to be careful how I say this because… I don’t want to confuse people and I don’t want people to think that I’m just absolutely bullish, because I’m not. I do think we’re going to have one of these credit events, and I do think disinflation is more likely than runaway inflation. But until we get that event, there is an inflationary tailwind, not just because of the things we’ve already talked about, but because of the higher rates. And what I mean by that is, as long as the banking system doesn’t contract and there’s not a deflationary crash, the higher rates are actually pumping more money into the economy.

Right. It wasn’t that long ago you had to go out ten years on the yield curve to get anywhere close to 4% return on your money. Now you can put your money in the closest thing to cash and get 4% on your money. So the people who have the money in their accounts are getting more money pushed into it because the Treasury has to pay higher rates. And that’s just now, kind of, again, the federal funds rate has been slowly ticking up, but some of those rates that people receive are just now resetting higher or have just started to reset higher in the last couple of months. And the further we go along without this “event”, more money gets put into their account in the form of interest payments. And that’s a tailwind because now you have more money to spend.

Right. No, the point that I just want to make is that I believe that we’re going to have this event and I think we’re going to have it sometime this year. But until we have it, there’s a tailwind. So it’s almost like it’s going to be speeding up into the wall.


How much of that tailwind, Brent, is… People have put on pretty easy trades for the past few years? And how much of that tailwind is people who have a little extra money in their account who just want to make that one last trade, right?


I think there’s a lot of that. I think there’s a lot of that. And that’s typically why it ends badly, right. If you think about an exponential curve, it goes up and up and up and up and up and up, and then it crashes and it’s because those last people are trying to get that last little trade in. And the other thing that I’ll say is I think this is really important to understand and we were talking about it a little bit before, so it’s repetitive but for the people on the show. It was last summer Q3 of last year where the yield curve inverted. Actually, it inverted just slightly in Q2 of last year. But then the real inversion took place in Q3. And at the end of Q3, we had a point where the stocks were at their lowest level in two years. The VIX was at its highest level in two years. The dollar was at its highest level in two years. And I actually at that point, I even sent out a tweet that said to probably do for the dollar to pull back. And I bought, I took off all my equity hedges and I actually bought equity calls and people were like, why the hell are you doing this?

And I said, Because the yield curve is inverted. And they said, that means there’s going to be a recession. And I said, yeah, but usually that takes twelve to 24 months to show up. And historically in that twelve to 24 months, between the time the inversion happens and the recession arrives, you typically get a run in equities. And so that it kind of goes counter. Everybody thinks higher rates, you don’t want to own equities that’s bad for growth, but in actuality it ends up that way. But in the short term it’s actually typically, historically good for stocks. And so to be honest, and I fully admit it, that trade worked, but I sold it way too soon. I chickened out because I see this wall coming, right? But had I held it for this last six months. It would have been a monster trade, but I sold it after, like, one month because I chickened out on it, to be quite honest. But that’s something that’s very important to understand. And here’s the other thing, and I’ll give you some historical context and it’ll explain two things. It’ll explain the magnitude of the run that can happen, and it’ll also explain the horrendous result that can come up afterwards.

And that is it. From 1926 to 1929… Let’s call it, from 1920 to 1926, you had seen stock prices run very high. It was like the Roaring 20s, right? And then in 1926, the yield curve inverted and it stayed inverted until 1929. And in that time period, from 1926 to 1929, the long-term US Treasury fell 30%. So if you were invested in bonds during that yield curve inversion, you lost a lot of money, just like last year, right? But guess what stocks did over that three-year period? They more than doubled. They went up 150% with the yield curve inverted for three years. And now we all know what came after 1929, right? After that last trade, to your point, pushing that last trade into the market, then you had the huge fall. We could very easily have something like that again. Now, I personally am not in the camp that we’re going to go into another Great Depression. I don’t think it’s going to play out that way, but I can’t rule it out. But it’s all of these cross currents.

It’s because I understand the tailwinds and it’s because I see this massive wall that we’re racing towards that I think right now is the hardest environment I’ve ever seen to be an investor, or at least to be an investor with conviction, I think it’s very hard. The good news, and I would encourage people to think about this, the good news is that in the last ten years, if you didn’t have conviction, it was very hard to sit on the sidelines because you got no return in your account. Interest rates were zero, but you can now sit on the sidelines, wait for clarity and get paid 4 to 5%. That’s not a horrible idea. Right. So, anyway, that’s kind of my soapbox moment.


These are all great points for it. I guess it’s just time for people to be careful. I don’t think you’re saying the sky is falling today. I think you’re saying, just don’t hold the bag. Yeah.


And I’m not saying you can’t make money. I’ve used this analogy with clients a few times to explain what I mean, because I said, Couldn’t stocks run another 15 or 20%? And I say, yeah, absolutely they can. I said, It’s like when Evel Knievel jumps over the fountains at Caesars Palace and then his son does the same thing. Well, Evel Knievel  crashed and broke every bone in his body. Robbie Knievel landed the jump and was fine. Got a lot huge glory, but they did the same jump. So whether you landed well or land poorly, if you took the same amount of risk. So I’m not saying you can’t make money over the next six months by being in the stock market. I’m just saying you’re taking a lot of risk in order to do it. And if you don’t want to take that level of risk, you can sit in T bills and get 4.5%. That’s not a horrible that’s not a horrible sideshow. Right?


Right. Yeah. And just for people who aren’t familiar with Brent, I don’t know who isn’t? But he’s not a total doomer. Right. You’re not this, you know, permabear.


And I try not to be.


I just don’t want people to think you’re kind of a permabear coming on and try to spread kind of the permabear gospel. You do change your views as markets change, and this is just kind of a sober view on kind of where we are.


I own a lot of equities for my clients right now. We have participated in the run, but we have not been levered on it. And I’m not all in on that trade, but we own stocks in our portfolio. We think it’s time to be careful. We think you should have some hedges, we think you should have some cash. But we’re not sitting in our bunker just waiting for the sky to fall.


Great. Okay, that’s all good to know. Time to be very, very sober about things. You mentioned loans and interest rates, and Brent, you were mentioning some things about commercial and industrial loans. And Tracy, you’ve talked about capex, especially in energy, pretty regularly. And Brent, you were saying something about the CNI loans have risen over the past year, even as interest rates have gone up. Can you talk us through that?


Yeah. So this is kind of another part of the narrative. The combating narratives that I think people forget is many people didn’t think the Fed would ever be able to raise rates. But not only did they raise once, they’ve been raising them for a year now, and they’ve raised them aggressively. And the markets have not collapsed, to many people’s chagrin and many people said, well, as soon as the Fed starts raising rates, they’re no longer going to be increasing the money supply. Okay, that’s fair. And I know a lot of people think that the central banks just print money and flood the market with money. But where the real printing of money comes from, where the real creation of money comes from is when banks loan money. When you go down to your bank and you take out a loan, they don’t and let’s say you take out a million dollar loan, they don’t take somebody else’s million dollars and give it to you. They create it out of thin air. That’s rational.


Million dollars?


That’s right. That that’s a new million dollars that’s now in the economy that wasn’t there before. And so a year ago, loans had been coming down aggressively since COVID so they’ve been ramping up, I want to say, like in 2020, it was around $2.4 trillion. And then after COVID, they did all these PPP loans and it spiked to like $3 trillion. And then since the PPP loans, it’s just been steadily every month down, down, down. But I think it was last March or April, it stopped going down and it actually started to tick up. And now it’s been going up for a year, and so it’s up about 10% or 15% from the bottom. So that’s the creation of new money. And despite the fact that the higher rates have not yet caused anybody to go bankrupt, it’s starting to happen. And BlackRock had this happen to them with one of their funds recently. But despite the raising rates, you haven’t seen mass bankruptcies yet. And not only that, you see new loans being taken out. The existing supply of money is still there because we’re not getting the big credit contraction, and new money is being created through new loans.

And so again, you have this tailwind that’s actually speeding things up towards this wall that I believe we’re heading towards. It’s kind of part of the same thing we’ve already been talking about, but it’s just another facet of it.


No, it’s good. Some economists are going to ride in and say “that’s not technically new money.” But it is new money, right, because it’s circulating in the system and people are using it. Okay, so what drives that? I mean, it seems to me that when you have interest rates kind of steady for a long period of time, people tend to say, well, I can always put that investment off until tomorrow. But then when you see interest rates start to rise, people wake up and go, whoa, wait a minute, I better make that investment before it rises even more. Is that what’s happening?


I’m actually not an expert on this, and I don’t know for sure, but here’s my theory on it. And so I’m sure we’ll get a lot of people that tell me I’m wrong, but this is kind of how I think about it. I’ve been on record in the past as saying low rates are deflationary for the reason you just explained. If the market condition is so bad that the Federal Reserve has to resort to these extraordinary measures and pull interest rates to zero, is that really an environment where you want to go borrow a million bucks? Maybe, but that’s kind of scary, right? And so I kind of feel like low rates keep people from borrowing money and keep people and it’s borne out, if you look at these reports, that’s typically what’s happened. But if you are in an industry and you are competitive in that industry, and you want to remain in that industry, and you have not taken out that loan. But then let’s pretend as an example, you own a shoe store in Dallas, right? And you compete with a couple of the malls and a couple of the other independent sellers.

And a year ago, they took out a loan and bought more inventory and increased the size of their showroom or whatever it is. And you didn’t. But now we’re a year ahead. Market is holding up. Everybody’s going to those new stores to buy shoes. They’re not coming into your store as much. And in order for you to compete with them, you need to build a bigger showroom. You need to buy more, whatever it is. Well, now your loan costs two or 3% more than it did a year ago. And so now your question is, if I want to remain in this business and the crash doesn’t come in the next two months, if I wait another three or four months, our rate is going to be 2% higher? And so they’re kind of behind the eight ball. And so what I think happens is, as interest rates start to rise, if you need the money, you will borrow it. And we get into…


A friend who is doing a restaurant franchise who’s going who went through that exact process in terms of deciding when to take out money. It was extremely low. Interest rates started to rise and he felt urgency to get his loan locked in and got it locked in because of the change of rate, right? And the perception of the future change of rate made him so those expectations play.


I did the same thing. I bought a place in Puerto Rico last summer, and I think our mortgage is around 5%. It had been like 3%. If I’d have done it three years ago, we did it at five, and now I think they’re at six or seven. But that was part of my calendar calculation. It’s possible that rates will go higher. Now, it’s also possible that they’ll crash the three, in which case I refinance and I’ll be fine. But the point is, as money gets more expensive, if you’re going to stay in business, you need money. And so we get into this other theoretical thing where money is a gift. And I say money is a gift and good. And a gift and good is something that typically when something rises in price, the demand falls. But not with a gift and good, with a gift and good is as demand rises, price rises. Or as price rises, demand rises as well. And it’s because you just need it. It’s like this drug you just have to have. And as interest rates start to rise, you will pay more and more and more. And people say, well, if it gets too high, they won’t pay.

And I always say, okay, maybe but if high interest rates keep people from borrowing, then explain to me why Visa is in business and why loan sharks exist. They exist because even though they have rates, people need money and they will borrow at high rates. And so I think that’s kind of what we’ve seen as well. Again, I think this is all going to end, but all of this contributes to where we see markets at today.


Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. Tracy, can we change this focus of capex to energy? Because it’s pretty well known and you’ve talked about several times that energy hasn’t invested in the upstream since 2014 or something, right? So do you think that rising interest rates and there is some change in the tone of ESG speak in the US over the past couple of months? Do you think the rising interest rates may push some of these companies to start investing in the upstream, or is that just completely ridiculous?


I’d be hesitant to say, yeah, I think oil companies are going to jump on board with this because we still have this rhetoric in the west saying that we’re phasing you out in ten years. We want you gone. And so oil companies are therefore they just don’t want to spend the money. And it doesn’t really matter what rate it is at. It’s good news. We’ve seen Vanguard leave the Zero Alliance, and we’ve kind of seen a lot of these banks kind of push back and a lot of these investment funds kind of push back on this ESG narrative. But I just don’t think that’s quite enough until we see governments really focus more on ESG. And even though, say, for example, and it seems hypocritical, we’ve seen Germany, for example, their coal usage skyrocketed in 2022 as they’re closing nuclear plants. Meanwhile, they’re pushing this green initiative. The problem is that since natural gas prices have come back down to prices that they were pre-summer of 2022, I think that they’ve become very complacent. This is how natural gas prices will stay, and natural gas prices are going to stay low.

But that’s looking at the European economy, on the other hand, the damage has already been done. We’re already seeing some deindustrialization in Germany. You have BASF leaving forever. You have a lot of smelters across the whole of EU that are just not going to come back online when they had to. In fact, a lot of them started shutting down in fall of 2021 before the Ukraine invasion. And the thing is, you can’t just reignite those glass furnaces. It takes a lot of money. You have to keep them running 24 hours, 24/7. You know, we’re just not seeing that industry come back, unfortunately. And the ironic thing is if we go back to BASF in particular, they are moving to China, who is buying cheap Russian oil.


Crazy, right?


Because it’s cheaper to do business over there in general. But so I think at this point and we’ve also at one of that, we’re also seeing companies, oil and gas companies, in the UK, sort of because of their windfall taxes. That’s affecting business as well. And so they have decided to either leave the UK altogether we just had Suncor in Canada sell all their assets in their joint venture to BP. And we heard from Shell, Equinor, and BP all said that whatever we wanted to invest in UK, we’re not going to do that anymore because of these windfall taxes. I think that we’re running up against a lot of problems here that are more government-oriented, bureaucratic-oriented than our state central bank oriented, rates oriented.


We have had some state governments in the US push back on ESG. Right. And we did have a bill in Congress that passed that was pushing back on ESG, but there’s a veto coming or something on that bill, is that right? Governments are getting involved to some level.


Absolutely. We have 20 states right now, basically, that are pushing back on the ESG narrative, saying, we do not want our pension funds investing based on ESG. We want our pension fund, our state pension funds, investing on what we think is going to make us money.


That’s going to make money. Imagine that. Right?


That would be a good focus.


So there are 20 states involved in that. Texas is one of them. Florida is one of them. So that’s still kind of going through the court system at this point. And as far as this new, the amazing thing is this ESG legislation that will likely get vetoed was that it passed the House and the Senate. That’s huge. That’s a huge shift, right? Not by a small margin, I mean, relatively speaking, when we’re talking about other pieces of legislation. So the narrative is shifting in the US. So I think it’s too early to say where this is going to go, but it is definitely something worth keeping your eye on.


Great. Okay. All right, that’s good. Let’s talk about the Russian supply cuts going into this month. They’re going into this month, Tracy, what does that mean? Can you kind of put that in perspective of their overall supplies?


Yeah, I think in general, what people expected was when they announced this and they announced this in a month ago, that oil prices were going to skyrocket. But I don’t think they were doing that to raise oil prices and stick it to the west, right. And raise oil prices that they wanted to see. What they wanted to do is narrow that spread between urals and ESPO, which are their two main crude grades with respect to Brent, because that’s how the prices quoted, European oil prices are quoted in Brent minus whatever the spread is. Right. So what they wanted to do is they wanted, after the price caps and all of the sanctions, et cetera, they wanted to, we saw those prices, those front month prices in those particular grades fall dramatically. And so I think what they want to do is narrow the spreads. And so really, that’s what I think that whole thing, that whole decision was aired for.

And then you also have to understand that Russia includes condensates, which is those lighter oils within their total oil production, whereas the rest of the world does not. And so we don’t really know exactly where that 500K is coming from. Are they those like NAFTA, or is it pure crude? And where that really remains, just so people kind of understand the market over there.


I think Tracy and I might be wrong, but you’re the expert here, but I think another contributing reason that they cut production is, to your point, in order to get that spread closer, right? Because the discount was pretty significant. Right. And a month ago, I think they announced the production cuts, and a month ago, they announced that tax revenues were falling and as a result, they were going to have a budget deficit this year. But what I didn’t see until kind of a couple of weeks ago was that as a result of the production cuts and as a result of the tax revenues falling so severely in Russia that they are changing the way taxes are calculated on Russian producers.


Exactly. Exactly.


And they are doing and this is not going to be in favor of the Russian producers, they’re going to increase the taxes on the Russian producers to try to alleviate that budget deficit. So I don’t know that they were 100% correlated, but I don’t think that they’re unrelated. Right? In other words, if they’re going to tax Russian producers at a higher rate, and it is taxed on the difference of the spread between the west and Europe, they not only want to get the spread closer or the price higher, the discounted price higher, and then tax at a higher rate. So it’s kind of a double whammy on the producers.


It’s a double whammy on the producers, but it’s income for the government.


Right, exactly. No, exactly.


You know what I mean? And this is the same thing I was kind of talking about earlier on another podcast. What is interesting is that Russia is suddenly buying this huge fleet of vessels, right? So they own the vessels and they’re now insuring themselves. So the government’s making money no matter what. They’re just paying themselves. So Russia is not really losing money on this, even with the price cap and with that spread being lower. Now, if you look at and moving on to that, there was just an independent study done that assessed the international sanctions impact on Russian oil imports. And I think it was researchers from Columbia University, University of California, and the International Institute of Finance. And what they discovered is really that Russian crude oil is really selling for $74 right now, all is said and done, which is well above the $60 price cap. All we hear from mainstream media is they’re losing money, they’re losing money. But in reality and I read this paper, and I’ll post it on Twitter later if anybody wants to read this paper. It’s very interesting and it’s very well done. They essentially are selling oil above the price cap, and there’s no way to stop. There’s no way to stop.


Yeah, sanctions are great, but if there’s no enforcement mechanism, they don’t mean anything. And the Russians know that. Russia, Iran, China, they all know how to circumvent.


Iran is the most sanctioned country in the entire world as far as the oil industry is concerned, and they’re still making money, and they’re still able to export, so.


Shows you how powerful oil is.


Right, exactly. So, Tracy, who does the 500,000 cut hurt? Is it hurting Asia more, or does it hurt markets generally, globally, just because it’s crude oil?


Well, I think, again, it’s very hard to decipher because we don’t know what 100% is being cut. Is it all oil, or is it just these light condensates? And so I think in general, I don’t think it hurts anybody in particular, because if the markets were that worried about it, well, it would be at $100 right now, easy. Right? And so I don’t think markets are that worried about it. I also think markets are kind of let’s wait and see what this actually is. And that brings to a second point, is that right now what’s happening is that we’re having a bifurcated market, right? So the oil market, which did its thing for 30 years, 40, 30 years very nicely, trade routes were settled. We were in this crew. Now we have literally a gray market. I mean, we always had a black market in the gray market, but, I mean, now we’re talking 10 million barrels a day in the gray market, not a few million barrels wherever else. So we’re talking about a large 10 million barrels, which is approximately Russia. And this is a gray market right now, right, because they have their own vessels again, their own insurance. They’re doing ship-to-ship transfers. They’re doing all these shady stuff offline to kind of mitigate and get around Western sanctions in any way possible. And so we really are seeing this market where it’s going to be harder and harder if you’re a barrel comes here, it’s going to be harder and harder to actually track these barrels because that gray market has exploded in volume.


Interesting, you tweeted a story about some Russian crude being seized in Albania. So that’s one of the, I guess, paths to circumvent. Can you talk us through that and why that’s important?


Well, I think that it was interesting because this is not something that, you know, again, there are offshore ship-to-ship transfers going everywhere. You know, particularly if you look off, Spain is a very big on ship-to-ship transfers, right, in Greece. I just thought that was interesting because my first thought was five minutes later, it’s going to be on the black market via the Albanians.




But yeah, I mean, they just happened to get caught and too bad that Albert’s not here. He could probably better explain the Albanian relationship.


It was probably him.


Okay. I guess the message that I’m getting pretty consistently and tell me if I’m wrong, these are sanctions put on by Europeans, but through Albania, through Greece, through Spain and other places, they’re circumventing the sanctions. When I say “they”, I mean people in Europe are circumventing the sanctions that their own governments put on. Have I misread that?


No. I mean, I think that everybody’s trying to kind of find a way around the sanctions right now. And you have to remember, this only applies to seaborne Russian crude. I mean, we still have gas pipes into Europe and we still have oil pipes into Europe right now. So it’s really only seaborne crude.


So when it’s piped, it’s fine.




That’s amazing. Really amazing. Okay, great. Hey, guys, listen, let’s just take a quick look at what you guys are expecting in the near term. What are you guys looking for, say, for the next week? What’s ahead? Tracy it sounds like energy markets are kind of sideways for a while.


I think we’re kind of stuck in this $70-80 range right now in WTI. OPEC is very comfortable at $80-90 range for right now in Brent. And so, you know, I think that as we move closer to, say, high demand season and we get more clarity on China and what their domestic demand is going to really look like, I think we could definitely see a push to the upside. But for right now, I think markets are very comfortable where they are, and I think OPEC is very satisfied where markets are right now.


Okay, great. That’s what events happen, though, right?


When everyone’s coming, right? Exactly. You never know what could happen. You had what the story this morning from The Wall Street Journal say EU is leaving. I was like, what? No, they’re not. And they retracted the statement.


You leaving OPEC and all that stuff? Yeah. Crazy. Brent, what are you looking for in the next week or so?


I kind of think we’re going to continually have this violent sideways. I think markets are going to go up one day and they’re going to go down the next. And I think in general, I don’t think we’re going to get real clarity in one direction or the other until at least the Fed meeting. Possibly. We do have CPI that comes out a week before the Fed, so that will have a big impact, no doubt, unless it comes in right on the number, which in which case it will be violent sideways again. But I’m trying to just be nimble right now. Again, I don’t have any huge convictions either way right now. I kind of have my long term view while I understand the short term tailwinds, but I think it’s a time to be prudent rather than a time to try to be brave. So that’s kind of a cop out answer, but that’s kind of the truth right now.


No, I think that’s a great way to put it. Time to be prudent rather than time to be brave. I love it. Okay, guys, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. This is great, great insights. So I appreciate it. Have a great weekend. And have a great weekend. Thank you, thank you.


Thank you.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 02 May 2022

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Sam Rines wrote a piece on business costs and uncertainty weighing on earnings this season. He talked us through what’s happening with interesting charts on Caterpillar and Old Dominion.

We saw Facebook turn dramatically this week and we saw KWEB up over 7% on Friday. At the same time, Amazon, Pinterest, and others with disappointing earnings. Tech isn’t really a sector-wide play as it was in 2020 and 2021. Alber Marko explains what should we be looking at in tech.

We’ve had a lot of action in Europe with Russia cutting off the gas in Poland and Bulgaria and a demand that oil and gas be paid in Rubles. Tracy Shuchart explains what it means for commodity prices and the market in general.

Key themes from last week

  1. Earnings: COGS in the Machine
  2. Earnings: Tech
  3. Europe-Gas-Ruble Chaos

This is the 16th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration with Complete Intelligence and Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Listen to the podcast on Spotify:


TN: Hi everyone. This is The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. We’re joined today by Tracy Shuchart, Sam Rines, and Albert Marko. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe. Also, please note this is the last weekend for our CI future promo. $50 a month for thousands of assets reforecast weekly. So please go to Subscribe for $50 a month and you will get global market and economic information. Thanks for that.

So, guys, this week is a little bit exciting. We have a few key themes that we’re looking at this week. Two of them are earnings-related. One is COGS in the machine, which is related to a newsletter that Sam Rines put out today. The other one is tech. And the last thing we’re looking at is the Europe-Gas-Ruble chaos.

So, Sam, you wrote a piece today on business costs and uncertainty weighing on earnings. So can you walk us through this? We’ve got a couple of slides from your newsletter up. One is Caterpillar Earnings. Maybe you could walk us through that first and then we’ll go to the Old Dominion earnings and walk through why those are so important.

SR: I think it’s really interesting to kind of at least be able to get some real-world understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Right. We all know wages are going up. We know costs are going up. We know shipping costs are going up. But how that was going to be reflected through the earnings season was somewhat of an unknown. Right. We knew it was going to affect us, but we didn’t know to what extent.

The interesting part about Caterpillar and one of the reasons I like to point it out is that they had pricing power. They pushed prices pretty heavily down the system. The problem for them was that they couldn’t push the price as much as their materials and shipping costs went up. It was simply too big of a headwind, at least for the first quarter. Their orders are fine. The business itself is okay. But generally what we saw was pricing power. Not… There were a few, but pricing power was generally unable to keep up with the cost pressures overall.

The interesting one and kind of related to Caterpillar are Polaris. Polaris is one of the most interesting companies. It’s consumer-facing yet, it’s a manufacturer. It’s something you don’t need a new side by side typically. You don’t need it. Right. These aren’t needs. These are more of discretionary spending. They had a very similar problem to Caterpillar. But the end market user for these is very similar to Harley Davidson. There was another one that had issues.

The inventories are extraordinarily low. Right. Their inventory levels at dealerships are very low. So eventually when they can pick up their production, they’re going to be able to push up their production numbers pretty significantly just to be able to refill the inventory pipeline at their dealership. So while it’s a big headwind today, it’s worth watching call it nine to 18 months down the road when you begin to see signs of these material costs abating, the supply chains getting back to normal.

Those companies are going to be able to put up some pretty interesting numbers very quickly.

TN: So, Sam, will they leak in gradual price rises? Because it doesn’t sound like they’ve been able to do it all at once. But will they continue to raise prices even as, say, the primary factors of inflation start to abate a little bit?

SR: Oh, yes. That’s been a constant theme of this earnings season has been. We will continue to either try to find ways to squeeze costs out of the supply chain, and normalize those somewhat, but almost more emphasized was there will be price increases to offset all of this.

To your point on Old Dominion, they just tossed on fuel surcharges.

TN: Yeah.

SR: If you’re going to have problems with freight, fine. But we’re going to surcharge you on fuel. And they only pushed about 50% of their overall gain. And year over year was pure surcharge. So it was an interesting one.

TN: And fuel charges are sticky, right. They don’t take those off right when fuel prices go down, they keep those for a year after the prices go down, right?

SR: Correct. Right. It’s the interesting part about all of this is these price increases are not going to be reversed. Caterpillar is not going to take off their price increases. Polaris probably isn’t going to take off some of their price increases, Old Dominion is unlikely in the near term. These are going to be fairly sticky over time.

TN: Okay. So last week when both you and Tracy weren’t here and Albert and I did the heavy lifting to keep the show going, we talked about sticky prices and we talked about how we hit new pricing levels. Even if the rate of inflation slows down, we’ve hit new pricing levels. Is that semi-permanent? Is that permanent or is that transitory?

SR: It’s a step function, right. Okay. You step up and then you’re not going to step back down. You step up the price increases and then maybe you can trickle two or 3% inflation on top of that going forward. But step-functions do not reverse. And I would say that this is much more of a step function type deal.

TN: Okay, good news, Tracy. You were going to add?

TS: I was just going to add I mean, the business survey. The Fed business survey came out small business survey came out this week and they were looking at it in four out of ten small businesses said they were looking at price increases of 10% or more. So this is across the board, not just for mega-cap companies.

TN: Right. Yeah. And even since I talk about coffee so much, even one of the small coffee roasters who I know, said his costs had risen 50% over the last year and he was only able to put in a 20 to 25% price rise. But I’m certain that he’s going to continue to gradually work price rises over the next year or two as we’ve hit this kind of plateau, or at least step function in price rises. So good news all around. Right.

So as we stay on COG, Sam, you had a portion in your newsletter talking about Meta, and we’ve got that on-screen talking about their G&A increase. Can you talk us through that?

SR: Yeah. So I thought it was pretty interesting. They increased their employee base by 28% year over year. I mean, this whole idea is that hiring is tough. It wasn’t for Meta. But the funny part is, or not funny. But G&A was up 45, so you hired 28% more people, but G&A popped 45. Again, that’s a step up that probably isn’t going to step down any time soon unless they’re going to begin laying people off. Right. Maybe it’ll roll out of earnings next year, but it’s not going well.

TN: We’ve seen some tech layoffs, right.

SR: Some.

TN: Announced over the past week. It’s not like it’s not a huge trend yet, but we’ve seen a few.

SR: Yeah. And the other important part that I think was overlooked was Snapchat, Facebook, or Meta, whatever you want to call it, when they announced earnings, they cited that, listen, when you have inflationary pressures, wage pressures and you’re a small business, guess where the discretionary spend is, that’s marketing budgets.

Marketing budgets will get cut and get cut fairly dramatically and fairly quickly if you continue to have this. And not to mention if you don’t have the stuff to sell and you continue to have supply chain issues, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend a lot of money on marketing. So I think those two raised some red flags, I think we’re subtly overlooked by a lot of people sitting on.

TN: We talked about this last week and how a lot of ad inventories are likely to come online soon. So there’s a supply problem and a demand problem with those companies going forward. I think the names that come to mind will probably do fine. The smaller names are probably going to suffer. So it might be tough.

Albert, on that, we saw Facebook turned dramatically this week in the last half of the week after they reported earnings. KWEB was up 7% today, a stock that we talked about here a few weeks ago. But at the same time, Amazon, Pinterest, and others are disappointed. So tech was a sector-wide play in ’20 and ’21. It’s not that anymore, is it?

AM: Yes and no. The problem with tech is that there are about a dozen names that the Fed uses to pump the market. So forget about Pinterest. That’s too small of a company. We’re looking at Google, Facebook, Meta, whatever you want to call it. Not so much Amazon, but the other ones like AMD and whatnot? So they’re going to yoyo those earnings in those pumps. So what they’ll do is they’ll wait until Netflix…

They know that Netflix will miss and they’ll pump the market to soften the blow and then they know that Apple is going to beat so they’ll let the market sell-off and use that to drive up the market. So this is just a cat and mouse game by the Fed to just manipulate the markets until what they’ve been saying is a soft landing.

The tech earnings are just playing right into that narrative of theirs. They know what the earnings are beforehand and they just play the market like that. So going on with tech earnings? Yeah, I mean they are weak. We can see that they are incredibly weak.

Will they be weak for the whole year? I don’t know. They do like the Nasdaq. So I wouldn’t want to be short tech going into the summer. But that’s just my personal opinion. But then you see KWEB surge because the Chinese start talking…

TN: Ion subsidies. Right. And government activity.

AM: It is what it is and you never know what type of government contracts Meta, Google, or whatnot will start popping into their bookkeeping. It’s a really dangerous game to short tech in my opinion.

TN: Yeah, well it’s interesting to me to see the user’s numbers like aint Netflix and I know there’s a couple of weeks old now but Netflix goes down. Pinterest goes down, Snapchat. These sorts of things. Amazon was kind of tepid but Facebook was really good. So I think we’re seeing almost some elasticity in some of these markets as we see people going back to work and we see other things happening. We’re finding out who’s going to be there no matter what and whose demand is a little bit flexible.

AM: Yeah. And then you’ll also find that some of these tech companies will look to acquisitions to boost their user numbers going into the fall. So this is why I don’t like the short tech at this level.

TN: By the way, if anybody is looking for a tech acquisition. Right here.

AM: Yeah, cool. 46 billion. Cool 46 billion will do it.

TN: Okay. Let’s move on to commodities. Tracy, there have been a lot of issues in Europe with the ruble as we’ve seen more countries decide to pay for oil and gas in rubles. We’ve seen some interesting action with the Euro and the ruble and with gas prices. Can you talk us through what’s going on there? And really, what does it mean? Because we’ve seen the price action. But what do you see its kind of meaning going forward?

TS: I mean what it means is Europe’s not directly paying in rubles. Right. What they’re going to do is they’re going to set up an account at Gasprom Bank. They will continue to pay in Euros, dollars, and local currency. In turn, Gasprom Bank will convert that currency into a separate account. So it’s not technically against sanctions. It’s a workaround. Right.

The interesting thing is EU didn’t have a choice, to be quite honest. They’re dependent on Russia for 67% of their natural gas. They don’t have LNG storage facilities built out. Those are going to take at least two to four years. I don’t care what they say next year, it’s not going to happen. Those things take a very long time.

So right now, they’re kind of being held hostage by Russians. So they’re going to have to pay as much as they don’t want to. Now they can wean themselves off of Russian oil a lot quicker because you can have the Middle East pick up that slack and they don’t import all that much. Right. It depends on the country. But Europe is not a huge source of oil exports for Russia. So that can happen.

And so for what I foresee, they’ll probably do that just so that they say we’re getting rid of Russian energy. Right. So I think you’ll see Russian oil cuts, I think that can be done relatively quickly. But as far as nat gas, I think it’s going to take a lot longer than most think. Even though they said they wanted two-thirds off by the end of 2022 and then completely out of Russian gas by 2027.

Again, I think that’s going to take a lot longer than they anticipate.

TN: Yeah. Can you imagine the conversion fees that Russian banks are charging for Euro to ruble? We’ll never know. Right.

TS: Banks are going to make money. It’s good for Russia. Right. That keeps the currency stable and it keeps their economy stable. And so, I mean, it’s kind of a win for Russia on this because the banks are winning and their currency and economy are winning on this one.

TN: Yeah. So we also had an emergency kind of this week with Russia saying they would turn off gas to Poland. And they did. But Poland has taken other measures since the war started to get other sources of gas. So it didn’t hurt them all that much, did it?

TS: Yeah, no, not at all. I mean, it was Poland and Bulgaria. They’re very adamant from the beginning to get out of Russian gas. They also don’t rely on it as much as, say, Germany does. Poland already built out an LG storage facility tank that’s completed.

They also produce a lot of coal and they use a lot of coal. And so that was not a surprise to me, nor did it hurt those countries very much.

TN: Right. What country do you think is in the most difficult position right now? Is it Germany?

TS: Germany hands down. A lot of the reasons are because they don’t have any other pipelines into Germany except Russia. So they’re definitely in the weakest position right now.

TN: Okay. So, guys, what do we expect, like, with the ruble going forward? It’s hit its pre-war levels. Do we expect the ruble to strengthen?

TS: Right now, yes, I think that it probably will continue to strengthen just because they’re asking for payments of commodities in the ruble.

TN: They’re not asking.

TS: Well, yes, they’re holding hostage. But it’s not just in other words, it’s not just the energy complex. It’s metals, agriculture, et cetera. So I think that we’ll probably see that continue to strengthen.

TN: Okay. Hey, I also wanted to ask you about fertilizer. I saw some of the Fertilizer stocks come off a bit this week. I know that we’ve talked about fertilizer before. Is it still as urgent of an issue as it was, say, three weeks ago? And if it is, why are Fertilizer stocks coming, falling this week?

TS: Well, I think partially because we saw kind of natural gas pullback a bit. Right. That kind of alleviated the pressure. We also saw the broader market sell-off, which means sell what you have to if you get a margin call. Right. And you had something like IPI, whose earnings were not as good as they could have been. Right. Considering. So it’s kind of a combination of everything.

SR: Yeah. And you are beginning to see signs of demand destruction as well. There was an announcement by a Brazilian farming giant that they were going to cut their fertilizer usage by 25 or more percent this year. So, yeah. Yields down, fertilizer up.

AM: Not to mention the good old dollar looking like it’s going to go to 110 on the Dixie causing problem everywhere.

TN: What do you think about that, Albert? What’s the time horizon for 110?

AM: I think we get that within the next two months. Yellen is on a mission to destroy emerging markets. She’s going to do with the dollar. She did this in 2013 when she was Fed chair. So, I mean, it’s the same playbook. It’s nothing new.

TN: So if the dollar does hit 110, does it stay there for some time, or is it just kind of marking territory, saying, we can do this again if you don’t behave?

AM: I think it’s a moment in time. Keeping the dollar at 110 is going to cause really big problems across the world. So they can’t keep it there too long. But they can… Even China talking about the stimulus, 109 causes a problem for China. It’s quite an event to see that happen.

SR: Yeah. Into Albert’s point, and I think this is incredibly important, china has to buy food. Right. And they’re buying, you’ve seen the rip lower on RMB, CNY, that thing has gotten crushed over the last week. And they’re still buying corn and soybeans from the US en masse. And that’s getting much more expensive very quickly. That’s going to be a problem.

TS: The only thing that’s helping them right now is that their entire country is locked down. Right. I mean, that’s the only thing that’s helping slow the blow and kind of making these commodities pull back a bit so they’re not as expensive.

TN: But Xi has got to make some money to feed his people. Right. Otherwise, you’re going to have Mao 1961 all over again.

TS: What he’s doing is insane. Don’t starve your people. So obviously ulterior motives are going on there.

TN: Yeah. So we’ll talk more about China next week. Okay, good. Let’s have a week ahead lightning round, guys. What are you looking at? Kind of most Interestingly for the week ahead? Sam, if you can go first, what’s at the top of your mind right now for the week ahead?

SR: Top of my mind is going to be energy company earnings and what they’re saying about their production, whether they’re upping premium, where they’re getting production from, how they’re doing it if they’re doing it, whether or not Capex budgets are moving higher, how they’re moving higher and where. And then any comments on labor pipe concrete, et cetera, I think will be very interesting as we go through next week.

TN: I think you stole Tracy’s answer, though, right?

TS: Exactly what I’m looking at. I expect to look at production probably has not increased that much because I think they’re having labor issues and supply chain issues have not gotten any better, if not ten times worse. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Also always keep an eye on China. Beijing is just locked down or partially locked down. So how many more cities are we going to have, how many more States we’re going to have, and how many more people are going to be locked down for how long? Because that’s going to affect the commodities market in the midterm. But that said, if you look at the commodities complex, we’re still over 100, like 104.

So it’s still holding strong, even though we’ve had a lot of demand. They say about a million and a half barrels per day of China demand is kind of off the market right now.

TN: Yes. So if they come back online, it’s game on, right?

TS: Yes.

TN: All right. And Albert, what are you looking at for the weekend?

AM: Probably the most dovish sounding 50 basis point rate hike you’ll ever hear from the Fed. Like we did this and we’re sorry. If they want to break this market down sub 4000, go ahead and try to talk hawkish but I don’t think they want to do that. So Jerome will just put his foot in his mouth like usual and say something stupid but it’ll be dovish that’s what I’m watching.

TN: Sam, Fed guy? What do you think, Sam?

SR: I think the same. Listen, I think they’re going to try to avoid talking too much about another 50 basis points hike. They’re going to try to get away from providing clear forward guidance and be incredibly vague because if they’re vague about what they’re going to do then it’s going to be perceived as dovish. So agree with Albert, right? You get a 50 basis point hike and then we’re not sure what we’re going to do next, right?

TS: Somebody brought up like 75 basis point hike this week and the Fed was like, no, we’re not even considering that.

TS: Yeah, exciting. Sounds exciting. Okay guys, thank you very much. Have a great weekend. Thank you very much.

AM: Thank you.

TS: You too.

SR: Thanks.


What signals are markets missing right now?

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.


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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.


Show Notes


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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TN: In Australia, right?


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.


TN: Sure.


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.


JB: Thanks. Bye bye.


QuickHit: $70 Crude & $5 Copper are coming

Returning guest Tracy Shuchart graced our QuickHit this week with interesting and fresh insights about oil and gas. What is she seeing on the industry — is it coming back to the normal levels, or better? Why she thinks oil will reach 70+ USD per barel? What’s happening on copper and why does its price going up? And is she seeing any surprises under the Biden administration?


Tracy Shuchart is the energy and material strategist for Hedge Fund Telemetry and she is a portfolio manager for a family office. She’s pretty active on Twitter with a large following. Check out her on Twitter:


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This QuickHit episode was recorded on November 24, 2020.


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



Show Notes


TN: We’re seeing a lot happening in markets on the energy side and in things like industrial metals. We’re starting to see some life back into energy not just food but even in energy companies who come a fair bit off of their loads that we saw in Q2 and Q3. Can you help us understand what’s happening there? Why are we seeing, if we see people walking down again in the US and locking down in Europe, why are we starting to see life in energy?


TS: Part of that reason is we are seeing a little bit of that rotation into value from growth and the energy sector has been really beat up. It’s finding a little bit of love just from that kind of rotation. But also, we’re seeing these lockdowns and things like that, but what people aren’t really realizing, because of all these lockdowns and things of that nature, we’re actually seeing demand up in other areas where there really was not so much demand before.


So everyone’s talking about nobody’s driving anymore. Nobody’s flying anymore. When you know in fact, everybody’s online, e-commerce, we’ve got cargo ships full in the port of Los Angeles. They’re lined up there. That’s shipping fuel. And it’s not just in Los Angeles. Asia’s seeing the exact same thing. Singapore. Trucking has become huge if you you know look at the truck index. It’s basically exploding from 2019-2018 levels because you you have trucks that have to go from the port of LA to all the way to Atlanta. You have everybody ordering on Amazon so you have all sorts of trucking going on. And even down to the little things like propane. They’re actually seeing double propane demand right now merely because everybody’s dining outside and it’s getting cold.


So demand showing up in these little places that typically didn’t have as much demand before. Recently, they were talking about the airlines this holiday season. That air travel is picking up in the United States. Domestic travel is almost completely back to normal in Asia and in China, particularly. So things aren’t as bad as it seems.


TN: So when we talk about oil and gas companies, we’re really starting to see some of those oil and gas companies to come back as well. We’ve spoken over the past six or nine months a couple times and it seemed like there were fundamental operating issues with those companies. Are you seeing those oil and gas companies cycle through their issues?


TS: A lot of the Q3 calls that I was on, a lot of these companies are changing their tune a little bit. We’ve also had a lot of of mergers and acquisitions in this space. We’ve had a lot of bankruptcies in the space. That pile, it’s gotten smaller. Only stronger surviving and not that I don’t think that they’re 100 in the clear, but the bigger names and the bigger companies are finding a little bit of love right now especially you see that in refining right now, because heating oil is actually pulling up that whole sector right now. The whole energy sector. Refiners were the first ones to really take off because refining margins are getting better as oil prices get higher and things of that nature. So that kind of started leading and then of course, they’re the safe havens likePBX, XOM, BP, Equinor…


Once people see oil getting some sort of footing, they’re more likely to move into those stocks. They’re beaten up. If you’re looking for value stocks, you want to look for something that’s 80 percent off the ties. It’s a bargain.


TN: We had also talked about crude prices would stay depressed into Q2 or something of next year of 21. Does that seem about right, still? Do we still expect things to stay in the low to mid 40s until Q2? Obviously, we’ll see bouncing around. I’m not saying I’ll never go above that. But do you expect people will think to stay in that range for the next two quarters or has that moved forward a little bit?


TS: That’s moved forward a little bit. I remember when we spoke last, we were talking it to the end of this year and I saw the upper 38s. Obviously that averaged this quarter so far. We’ll be a little bit higher. So I think that we’re still in that range. We’re not going to see a huge bounce in oil. Not yet, but it’s coming.


TN: You say it’s coming. What brings that about? Is it demand? Is it supply? Is it a massive shortfall? Where’s the pressure that would bring about that 70 plus?


TS: We’re going to have a supply shock just like we had a demand shock this time. We’ll have a supply shock just because of the sheer lack of Capex in the market and the sheer amount of companies that have gone under. I don’t think that you’re going to see shale back at 13.5 million barrels per day anytime in the near future ever again. A lot of those wells are closed. They’re gonna open them up again. It’s just not cost effective. So we lost a lot of producing capacity just because that. So as we move on and we move forward in time and flights come back and we start having more and more demand, I think we’re gonna find a shortfall so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see 60, 70 dollars a barrel in 2022.


TN: We’ve seen copper have just a stellar few months and given the demand issues that we’ve seen in the markets probably a little bit surprising. So can you talk us through some of those dynamics and help us understand is this here to stay? Are these elevated prices here to stay? Or is this something that we’ll see for a relatively quick cycle then it will turn back?


TS: With copper, we really had a supply issue because a lot of the mines were closed during the summer. China by that time had already been pretty much back up and running and ordering what they normally order. That’s kind of lifted prices off of that like two dollar level initially because we had a supply problem and then I think the expectation is, there’s a lot riding on electric vehicles, which require a lot of copper.


Manufacturing is rebounding in a lot of places. Maybe not Germany. But it is rebounding here. It is rebounding in Asia, not just China. It’s rebounding in Australia. There is that anticipation of demand. We’re starting to get supply back online and yet you know prices are still going higher. I don’t think we’re gonna go straight to five dollars by stretching the imagination. But that’s kind of where copper lost its disconnect with the market. When you know markets started coming down, copper’s still shooting up because it’s generally considered a gauge of the health of the global economy. But that kind of correlation went out of whack when we had a whole bunch of supply problems.


TN: And based on copper prices today, I would think everyone was back to work, we’re all traveling, probably with disposable income. So there is that weird disconnect right now and I’m not sure that it’s necessarily an indicator that a lot of people really point to.


So we’ve just had a big change in the US as well with the election and some shifting around. What are you expecting over the next few months? Are you expecting big surprises, big moves or what are you looking at over the next few months?


TS: Everybody pretty much knows Biden. Everybody knows his voting record. I looked at it as an energy strategist, obviously. I’m looking at his voting record and went on his past history and is the new green deal going to dictate the markets or how is he prone to be? He’s been in the office since the 70s. So we already know him. All his picks so far have been in been in DC forever, right. Whether it’s in an Obama administration, etc. So I don’t think there’s really a whole lot of surprises, which is why I think the market is so calm right now, because the election’s basically over. We don’t have that anymore. We’ve got this vaccine and the people that are going to be taking office in January are people that everybody’s familiar with. So I think that’s also giving the markets a little bit of complacency at this point.


TN: Right. It does feel a little bit complacent to be honest. I think you’re right. I think you’re right. So let’s see if there’s a surprise over the next few months.


TS: Right? You never know.


TN: Tracy, hey, thanks again for your time. It’s always great to talk to you. We really appreciate everything you say. I just want to ask everyone watching if you could follow us on YouTube. We look forward to seeing you next time. Great! Thanks.