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Week Ahead

Energy Market on the Brink: Russia, CNY, and the Fed’s Dilemma

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In the latest episode of The Week Ahead, Tony Nash is joined by Michael Nicoletos, Tracy Shuchart, and Albert Marko. The panel first explores Russia’s recent announcement that it would use CNY for trade settlement outside of the US and Europe. Michael Nicoletos explains that this move could be viable, but it would depend on whether all countries would accept the terms of trade.

Albert Marko believes that the recent rate hike was the right thing to do and predicted that the Fed would raise rates twice more. He also criticizes the lack of depth in the economics department of some central banks, citing examples from the RBNZ and the ECB.

The panel also analyzes the energy market and predicted when we might see an uptrend. Tracy Shuchart updates the chart and pointed out that crude seemed to break the down cycle a bit, leading to a good week for the commodity. The team answers a viewer’s question about the possibility of energy prices remaining low for a long time and offered their perspectives on the matter.

Finally, the panel discusses what they expected for the Week Ahead. Michael Nicoletos predicts that the energy market would remain volatile, and Tracy Shuchart believes that the focus would be on the stock market, particularly the Nasdaq. Albert Marko highlights the importance of watching the inflation data and suggests that investors should keep an eye on the bond market.

Key themes:
1. Russia ❤️ $CNY. Why?
2. Where does the Fed (and other central banks) go from here?
3. When will we see an uptrend in energy?

This is the 58th 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, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash and today we’re joined by Michael Nicoletos. Michael is the founder and CEO of DeFi Advisors based in Athens. We’re also joined by Tracy Shuchart of Hilltower Resource Advisors and Albert Marko. Guys, thanks so much for joining us. We have a couple of key themes and I was really in questioning mood when I put these together. The first one is around Russia and the CNY. There was an announcement this week. My question really is why? What’s the point of that? Next is where does the Fed go from here? And really where do all central banks go from here, but mainly the Fed, ECB. Albert is going to lead on that and I know Michael has some views on that as well. That’ll be really exciting to talk through. And then we’ll talk to Tracy about energy. For the first part of this week, we saw energy on an uptrend and we’ve seen a little bit of turbulence on Friday. So when do we expect to see an uptrend in energy? So again, guys, thanks for joining us. Michael, I really appreciate you taking the time from Athens to get involved with us today. Thanks so much.


Thank you. Happy to be here. Great, love to talk to you guys.


Great. So first, Michael, I know that you know a lot about China and you follow a lot of their economic activity. And I saw you commenting on this Russia announcement about CNY. Of course, they announced that they’ll use CNY for trade settlement outside of the US and Europe, which is Latin America, Africa and Asia is what they said in their announcement. So that’s about 37% of Russia’s exports. So I put a little chart together. I used UN ComTrade data.

This is 2021 data, which is the latest data that UN ComTrade has. So if they’re really doing that, Latin America is 2% of Russia’s trade, Africa is 3% of Russia’s trade. China is 14%. Okay? And so I guess is all of their trade with China settled in CNY? I seriously doubt it. And then Asia is rest of Asia is 18%. And of that about 1%, just under 1% is Taiwan. So I seriously doubt Taiwan would settle in CNY. But what’s obvious from looking at this chart is Europe is more than half of Russia’s trade. So it’s not as if this is necessarily a massive bold announcement that everything is going to be in CNY from here on out.


It really is just kind of putting a stake in the ground saying I think it’s almost a best efforts thing. So I guess is this viable? That’s really the question. And Michael, you put out this thought-provoking tweet.

You said if that were the case, China would have no issues running out of USDs. Let’s take that on and help me understand why is China trying to do this and what is the US dollar question that you have around this arrangement?


Well, first of all, again, thank you for having me. It’s great to be here. Now we need to segregate two things: wanting to do something and being able to do something. It’s clear that a lot of countries which are highly dependent on the US dollar for trading would rather be on something else and not be dependent on the dollar. We saw what happened with Russian FX Reserve when the war started. So clearly this was a warning shot or a lot of countries said we could be next if we go into a fight with the US. So clearly there is a tendency and China wants this to happen as soon as possible. Now, for this to happen, there are a lot of things that need to happen first. I’ll give just an anecdotal example because we get all this news flow and all these headlines where one signs an agreement with another and then two people or two prime ministers come up and say we’re going to do it, and everyone takes it for granted, especially on Twitter. It’s either a fanatic from one side or a fanatic from the other side. So again, I agree with everyone who is afraid of this happening in the sense that a lot of people are saying that the end of the dollar is close and that everyone’s going to go to something different.


I agree there is the willingness. I’m not sure this can happen soon, and I don’t think it can happen without some conflict occurring somewhere. So an example is that in 2018, Iran signed an agreement with China to sell oil in Yuan. Still, after four or five years, the volumes are ridiculously low. So again, there are agreements, but in order to enforce them and in order for them to happen, they take a lot more time than one would want. So Russia had no option. So because of the sanctions, they still sell to Europe, a few things, but they’re trying to outweigh it by selling more to China. And China and Russia are trying to make these agreements where they will be settling in Rubles or in Yuan. And they try to make these agreements. They want to expand them to other countries as well. However, you see, for example, India. India doesn’t want to settle in Yuan or doesn’t want to settle in ruble. They want to settle in Dirhams, which is back to the dollar. So you get all this information and the data, at least until now, does not support that there is a threat to the dollar.


There is a threat to the dollar in terms of willingness. There is no threat to the dollar in terms of data which says that this is going to happen tomorrow. So I think that this will eventually happen, but I don’t think it will happen soon. I think until it happens, we’re going to see a few episodes. And these episodes are not straightforward, how they will evolve.


Now, regarding China and its macro, the reason I’m saying what I’m saying and I’m saying that China needs dollars. China has been dependent, first of all, on its real estate, which was like 30% of its GDP. We saw what happened to the real estate. The second leg was it was highly dependent on exports. There’s a global slowdown. So these exports will have some issues. And now, how has China managed to keep this economy running? I’ll give you a few metrics to understand. The US is an economy which is like 26, I think 26 trillion of GDP. And if I’m not mistaken, its M2 is around 21 trillion. In China, the GDP is around 17 trillion, all in dollars. Okay? And M2 is $40 trillion. 40. Four, zero. So what does that mean?


The China government prints money. Prints money. Prints money. Because there are capital controls, the balloon gets bigger and bigger and bigger, but the money can’t leave, or it can leave for selected few, and I’ll explain how it leaves. And for the rest, because our capital control, the money can’t leave. So it stays in. But this is in one. Some try to buy gold, some try to invoice over invoice to Hong Kong and take it out of Hong Kong. But when the disparity is so big, clearly there is a problem. There’s an NPL problem. Chinese banks are like four times China’s GDP.


Sorry, NPL is non performing loans.


Non performing loans. Sorry. Sometimes they’re non performing. You cannot have an M2 of 40 trillion and a GDP of 17 trillion and not have non performing loans. Chinese banking system.


Sorry, I just want to go back and I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I just want to make sure that people understand. China has currency in circulation of $40 trillion, and they have a GDP of $17 trillion. Whereas the US has a GDP of what you say 24 trillion. I don’t remember what number you’re… 26 trillion. And they have 21 trillion in circulation. Right. So for all of these people who talk about China being this economic model for other people, why does it matter that their M2 is more than double the size of their economy?


Let me say something. First of all, let’s put something that the US. Is also the global reserve currency. So everyone in the world wants dollars. It’s not like only the US wants dollars. At this stage, less than 10% of the world wants Yuan. So it’s not like everyone wants to get.


I think it’s 2.1% of transactions or something like that.




2.8, yeah, transactions.


Okay. I saw a number which was around 6%. Maybe I’m wrong. Okay. But again, it’s a number which is very small. 


All this money that is in the economy, if Chinese people were given the choice, they would be able to take it out. The economy is growing at a faster pace than its potential. I’ll give you a number. Right now, Chinese banks are more than 50% of global GDP in terms of size. The US, I think its peak was 32% in 1985 and Japan’s 27% in 1994. So we’ve passed all metrics in terms of the world dominant power or the dominant economy, if you want to put it this way, being a percentage of GDP in terms of banking assets. So the banking assets clearly have a lot of bad debts in there, which we cannot know what they are because the Chinese economy wants the Chinese government wants to control that. Now, there was a special committee put in place this month, I think, in order to oversee the financial situation in China. So I’m pretty sure they’re a bit worried about it. They want to switch from an export oriented economy to a consumption driven economy. But this is still less than 40% of GDP and this takes a lot of time to go like the US is around 70%, but it takes a lot of time to go for 40%, 70%.


Now, all this money stays in China. They have no option, they can’t do anything. So it’s an issue. And I’ll give you a ratio. If you take their FX reserve, it’s around 3 point something trillion. If you divide FX to M2, it’s around 7%. So if that money were to want if that money wanted to leave, in theory, only 7% can be covered by FX reserves, the fixed reserves of the government. Just to clarify, the Asian tiger crisis in 97, the tigers collapsed when the ratio went below 25%. So they didn’t have that support to keep it up.


And just be clear for the US that’s 100%, right?


The US doesn’t have any problems. So this is something that needs to be addressed and I don’t know how they will address it. They try to make all these agreements so that the one becomes a tradable currency and they can invoicing one. So if the Yuan, in theory was to become the global reserve currency tomorrow morning, their debt would become the world’s problem. Now, they haven’t managed to export that, so they need these dollars to keep that balloon, let’s say, from all the area in the balloon to be taken up. They need these FX reserves to keep the money in and they need to build confidence, and they try to build confidence with narratives and not with data. But again, they don’t have a choice right now, in my opinion.


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The difference between, say, the onshore and offshore CNY or CNH or whatever, there is a huge difference in perceived value. I would think you can’t change the perceived value of CNY onshore, but offshore, if people are nominating contracts in, say, I’ll say “CNY” in quotes, there is an exchange right there. But again, this M2 issue, which I can’t stress how important that is, I haven’t heard anybody else talking about this. And it’s so critical to understand the fiat value of CNY itself, right, because it’s not limited, and the government because they’re effectively fun tickets with Mao’s face on it.


Right. And that’s how the PBOC was treating it. And again, when people talk about CNY as a global reserve currency, nobody is looking at the integrity of the PBOC and nobody is looking at how the PBOC manages monetary policy in China.


I’ll give you anecdotal information. I haven’t checked the number for a few years, but the last time I checked, if you look at the import-export numbers from Hong Kong to China, and you look at the PBOC, and then you go and see the same numbers in the HKMA, you would assume that these four numbers should be the same, not the same. Import should be export and export should be imports. The numbers should be very close. The discrepancy is huge. These numbers do not reconciliate, which means that in some form there is some over invoicing to Hong Kong.


And you’re not talking about 30%, you’re talking about multiples.


You’re talking about a lot. It’s ridiculous. So I think if you see the Hong Kong peg has been stable to the upper bound lately because I guess because of the interest rate differential, a lot of money is leaving. So it’s putting pressure on Hong Kong as well. So it remains to be seen what happens there.


So let me go to Tracy. Tracy, in terms of Russia using CNY, okay? And I know you look at a lot of their energy exports, and of course there’s all this official dumb around sanctions and stuff, but what’s your kind of guess on Russia using either USD or proxy USD, Dirhams or something else as currencies for collecting on energy exports or commodity exports more broadly?


Well, first, I think that they prefer dollars no matter what this kind of China saying we want to trade a Yuan. And Russia said, okay, but that was a suggestion. That does not mean that it’s necessarily happening. But what is really interesting is earlier this week, on Monday, Russia laid out conditions for extending the grain, the black seed grain deal, right? Because it was supposed to be for 90 days, but they cut it to 60 days because they’re trying to use that as leverage. And one of the things that they are trying to use as a leverage is they will extend the deal or they’ll give or the other part is they’ll give African countries just free grain instead of selling it. But one of the big conditions for that was for the removal of some Western sanction, specifically to get them back on Swift. And so if that happens, forget it. Everything’s going to be all the trade will be all euros and dollars.


I thought Swift was terrible and everybody wanted on Swift.


I just thought it was important to point out because if they get back on Swift, obviously that’s going to make trading in dollars easy for everything, all commodities across the board.


Right. And so that goes back to what Michael said initially about kind of these guys really want dollars and all this other stuff. There’s the official dumb of the prime ministers meeting each other, right. And then there’s the factual activities they undertake based on the reality of their position in the world economy. Right. What are your thoughts here?


I agree with Michael and Tracy to talk about the reserve currency. Switching from the dollar to the Yuan is a joke, to be honest with you. You do have some people in other countries in the Middle East and China and whatnot talking about the death of the dollar and actual serious tone. But anyone with even like a shred of financial backing and insight knows that it’s just an impossible thing. From what it sounds like, it’s more of like a barter system. But that introduces even bigger problems. I mean, you can’t scale it up. There’s no standardization. How do you value things to begin with?


That’s it.


Valuing goods and services without using the dollar right now is just an impossibility. And on top of that, you have the political problems that come along with it. I mean, like the Saudis, they want dollars for their oil. They need defense assistance. The Greeks needed US defense assistance. The Turks, as much as they want to make noise again, they’re reliant on the US and NATO for defense and whatnot. These components not just financially, what Michael talked about and decided much more eloquently than I would ever would, but there’s also political components that you just can’t get around in the near term.


But even if they had a barter system, they would reference the price in dollars, right?


Well, yeah.


10 billion.


Your chocolate is back to iran did that when they were first sanctioned over a decade ago. They were trading oil for gold, but it was still referencing dollars.


On top of that, you run the risk of hyperinflation eliminating dollars from your FX reserves and starting to trade away from the dollar. You’re going to end up in a hyperinflation event.




Can I say something? Can I say something? About all these points? I agree with all these points. There’s one more thing. Let’s say you trade in rubles and you trade in Yuan, okay? It means that you’re going to keep FX reserves in rubles or in Yuan. So you feel more comfortable keeping a currency from an authoritarian regime than holding the US. Dollar, which is fully liquid, fully tradable, and anyone in the street will take it at a split of a second. You need many years of track record to build that trust. There are a lot of bad things about the dollar. We agree that I don’t think anyone will say that it’s a perfect mechanism, but right now, it’s very functional, it’s very liquid. And if you want to keep your reserves in US Treasuries, you can sell them at the split of a second. You don’t have any issues with that. If you have Yuan, you’re going to do what? You’re going to buy Chinese government bonds? And how will you sell them if the PBOC calls you and says, it’s not a good idea to sell your Chinese bonds this week? We would prefer you didn’t.


Bet on the central bank, right? If you’re holding rubles, you’re betting that the Russian central bank is trustworthy. If you’re holding CNY, you’re betting that the Chinese center. So what central banks are out there that you could potentially trust? You have the Fed, you have the ECB, you have BOJ, right? Those are really the only three that are visible enough that have the scale and transparency to manage a currency. And look what the BOJ has done since Abenomics. And on and on and on. Do you trust the ECB? I don’t know. And it becomes, do you trust the ECB or the Fed more? I mean, sorry, but I just don’t trust the ECB.


I don’t trust ECB. But it’s relative. I mean, you don’t have a problem keeping Euros. Maybe it’s not your preferred choice, but you don’t lose your sleep on holding Euros. Let me put it at this stage.


That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Okay, guys, this is great. Let’s move on to the next thing, because I think we all agreed violently here, but I think we’re going to not agree on the next one, which I’m really excited about. So let’s talk about central banks. And where does the Fed and where do other central banks go from here? So, of course, we saw the Fed raise this week. I think it was the right thing to do. Albert, I know you think it’s the right thing to do. Markets have been up and down since then. And Albert, you’ve said that you expect the Fed to raise two more times, and I want to talk about kind of what’s behind that assertion. And then we get silly statements like this one from the RBNZ in New Zealand, where the chief economist basically says, if inflation expectations don’t fall, we’ll be forced to do more regarding interest rates.

Well, of course. Why wouldn’t you do that. So can you walk us through a little bit, kind of just very quick, because there have been thousands of hours of Fed analysis this week. But why do you think the Fed is going to raise two more times?


Supercore is trending up and it continues to trend up. Services are on fire. Real estate numbers have been on fire. There’s no slowdown in reality. I mean, even the layoffs have been slow. They’ve come from the tech sector. They haven’t come from construction or any other blue collar jobs at the moment. So until we see that, the economy is going to be red hot and it’s a problem for the Fed, inflation overall.


Okay, so play devil’s advocate here. Banking crisis, Fed had to bail out banks, all this other stuff. So why isn’t the Fed saying, let’s pause on the banking crisis worries?


Because banks are fully liquid. The big banks have no problem whatsoever. Some of these smaller banks that have no risk protocols are getting exposed. The tech heavy investments are getting exposed. Everyone knows that higher rates hurts the tech sector the most. And those banks were at fault. They didn’t hedge properly.


Now you have duration risk. I just want to be clear. I just want to make sure that people understand. You’re not saying that they failed necessarily because they’re tech, but they failed because of duration risk and then their tech depositors took their money out. Right?


Absolutely. But the banking system overall is not really at risk. They’re just shaking out some of the weaker players. But that was inevitable as interest rates have risen. A lot of the problems stem from the Fed and them guaranteeing four, five, 6% deposits, while the banks only do 1%. They can’t compete with that.


Right. Michael, I know that you think this wasn’t the right action. So what’s your perspective?


Well, let me say something first. I believe that it was a mistake, and I’ll say why it was a mistake. I think it’s a mistake when you raise interest rates as a central bank and the banks follow by raising rates on the loan side and on the deposit side, what do you do? You make debt more expensive and then you make people because you have, let’s say, a 5% interest rate on your bank, you create an opportunity cost so people want to save. So you reduce liquidity from the deposit side, and also you reduce loan demand because it’s more expensive, and that creates a slowdown. What happened now, because we had ten years of QE, everyone forgot that there was an interest rate on the deposit side. So the Fed, MDCB and all the central banks raised the interest rate. So the loan side adjusted. That became more expensive, but the deposit side stayed zero at 1%. I don’t know where this is in the US. But it’s really low. At some point, people started waking up when it arrived at 4% and they suddenly started saying, okay, I don’t have any interest on my deposit.


Let me put my money in the money market fund. How much does it give? Three, four, 5%? I don’t know. It’s a much higher rate. So I think I saw somewhere today that around 5 trillion have gone into money market funds. The numbers close to that. So when you take your money out of the deposit and you take it to a money market fund, this is the equivalent of a bank run for the bank that you’re taking the money, it’s a deposit living. It might not feel like a bank run, but on the balance sheet of a bank, it’s a bank run. So this started happening, and again, because of what you mentioned, they had invested in Treasuries and the duration risk was a mismatch. They didn’t do some of them at least hadn’t done appropriate hedging. They started losing money and they started selling this bond at a loss, although they had them at the Healthy Maturity portfolio where you don’t need to take a mark to market loss. And suddenly both sides of the balance sheet were screwed. Let me put it this way. So a few banks started going under. Now, I know that the central bank has come up and I know a lot of people come up.


And I do agree that there’s no systemic risk. And I mean that I don’t see a cascade of people losing their deposits. But nevertheless, people feel uncomfortable and try to do something about it. Either take them more money market funds or take their money from a regional bank, if they can. To JP morgan or one of the big guys. This creates a big problem for the economy. Yes, there are some signs which show that the economy is still robust. But I think a lot of leading indicators suggest that the economy is slowing down and most of the metrics coming from the inflation side have collapsed. Yes, core CPI is still high and it’s a lagging indicator, so it will take time for it to come down. But I think that given the stress we saw this week and why do I say that? Because we look at the US as a closed system. It’s not. When you raise interest rates as the Fed and you are the global reserve currency, you create a global credit crunch. You saw that last week. The Fed had come out with swap lines for everyone. You saw today that foreign banks borrowed 60 billion in liquidity, the ones that didn’t have a swap line.


And we see today Deutsche Bank being in the headlines and Commerce Bank being in the gate. So you might think that the US system is okay, but it creates a domino effect, which we’re starting to see. We saw Credit Suisse going under in a deal, which was not, I’d say, what we would think of. I believe that that deal in combination with the high rates is probably the root of the problem in the sense that they destroyed the capital structure, they wiped out all the 80 ones without wiping out the equity holders. Which means now that in Europe everyone’s wondering if my 81 is of any value. And that creates another uncertainty in combination with the higher interest rates and the stress that has started to build up. I think we’ve passed the moment where, okay, it could be debatable if they did right or if they did wrong. The US bond market is saying that it was wrong. It was a mistake. The two years at 370. And so the bond market went from the one side and the Fed went on the other side.


Why? The two year at 270 is important.


373, 70. Sorry, yeah. Three seven. Because if in two years you’re getting 3.7% and the Fed fund rate is five someone, it means that someone is buying a two year bond getting much less. Which means what? It means that the market is saying rate cuts are coming soon. So the market is saying there’s no way we can keep it this way. And the Fed is saying the opposite. Historically speaking, the bond market has been right. If you take it into context, it could be this time that they are wrong. It feels to me, at least from the stress I look in global markets and not in US. Only, that things are getting a bit out of hand. And having a bank like Credit Suisse go under, which is a big bank, and having all the central banks come in together on a Sunday night to give up swap lines, it means that the stress in the system, it’s much bigger than with yeah, but Sunday night.


Is the best time to get swap lines. Okay, so you talk about European banks, but we had Mueller from the ECB out this week saying, I wouldn’t worry about a financial crisis in Europe.

So we have ECB guys out there going, yeah, Credit Suisse happened and we know Deutsche is an issue, but I wouldn’t worry about that in Europe. So I think we’re seeing statements from Yellen, the Fed, the ECB, other guys who are saying, no, there’s nothing to see here, but then we see things kind of blowing up all over the place. Right, and then we have a question especially specifically for you, Michael, from a viewer who said, I’d like Michael’s thoughts on the EU, particularly banks, pensions and future growth prospects. So can you talk us through? How do these banking issues in Europe flow through to European pensions?


First of all, let’s say something. We’re talking about the US and.




Risk on the bond losses. Let’s remind everyone that at the peak of QE 18 1818 trillion worth of bonds had negative yield, and these were mostly Europe and Asia. So pension funds and banks in Europe which are forced to buy these bonds were buying bonds. With a negative yield. So they were losing on day one these bonds from -50 basis bonds have gone to two and 3%, the losses on these are much greater and pension funds will have much bigger issues than the ones that have in the US we were talking about a pension crisis in the US. But the European one is pretty bad too. Just look at in France, they raised this week the year that you take your pension from 62 years old to 64 and the country is burning to the ground. Now, you understand that it’s 62 to 64. It’s not like they made 62 to 70 years old. So it’s very delicate. And the situation in Europe, given the negative bonds, given the interest rate hikes and given one more thing in Europe, given that Europe doesn’t have the dollar and it has the Euro was mostly a supply driven issue.


It means that we were importing oil and energy from Russia and from everywhere and all these commodities were priced in dollars. So as a Europe tell, the price of these commodities were more expensive. So inflation was a supply driven problem. I think there’s a report, I think from the San Francisco Fed two thirds of the inflation was supply driven in Europe. So when inflation is supply driven and you raise rates to stop it, you’re using the wrong medicine to stop the problem. You need to crash the economy in order for this to stop. This is not really efficient. Now, in the meantime, you have yields going higher and now the yields that we see on our screen on Bloomberg or anywhere are not the yield real yields because the ECB is in and tries to contain the spreads. If you left the market low, I’m pretty sure the spreads would be much, much wider. And you have the new thing which came up this week when the Swiss National Bank decided that tier one, additional tier ones would be written off and equity holder, an equity holder would be saved. Now, imagine what happened. You probably saw what happened this week, all the 80 ones in Europe got smashed because everyone says I don’t trust this instrument.


I don’t know. Yes, central bankers will come out.


These are the cocoa bonds that came out in I think, 2013, right?


Yeah, there are a few of them, yeah, but it’s a cocoa, it’s contingent convertible. It means that they’re convertible be converted to equity if something happens. Let me put it as simple as it is, but these are supposed to be wiped out before the equity. So the question is what prevents for something else similar to happen again, the ECB came out, BoE came out, they said this is not accepted. But the fear and the is now everywhere. So you have a combination of factors. You have a factor that this ECB has been raising rates when I don’t think it’s a proper mechanism to address inflation in europe, they’ve created a slowdown. If you see Germany’s numbers and everywhere’s numbers in Europe, the economy is slowing down fast. You have a discussion on the capital structure of lending, which is very critical in the way companies and banks go and borrow themselves and all this at the same time and when the US. Is draining liquidity from the global system. I think the situation in Europe is very tough. Again, after 2008, I don’t think we have a systemic risk on our hands and the risks never materialize in the same place.


But I think things are about to get tough and it’s going to be much worse before it gets any better.


So what I would offer back, and I think everything you’re saying is valid and Albert Tracy, let me know if you want to think about this, but in the US. We have a presidential election next year. There is almost no way that we will see the US economy crash in the next 24 months because Janet Yellen won’t let that happen. And so we may see issues in Europe and we may see Europe and the rest of the world suffer based on US interest rate and monetary policy. But the US. Will do everything, the current administration will do everything they can to keep the US. From crashing in that time. And I’m not just saying this because they’re Democrats, Republicans would do the same thing to keep the economy afloat in the year before an election.


Albert, what do you think about that? It depends on what is happening specifically with debt ceiling, right? I mean, Janet Yellen and the Biden administration would gladly let the economy sink, the market sink anyways if they could blame it on escape both the GOP on the debt ceiling not getting hyped. So that’s definitely something you need to watch over the next six months because it is campaign fundraising season and they can’t really agitate their voters all that much, to be honest with you. Certainly the political component is going to be high over the next twelve months.


Okay, great. Let’s move on. Thank you for that, guys. Let’s move on to energy.


Can I say something?


Absolutely. Yes, please.


What appears to be happening right now, at least in my eyes, is that the Fed is using interest rates to attack inflation and it’s using the balance sheet to give liquidity. So these two do not go in the same direction at this point. The question is if they can do this for a long time. It doesn’t feel to me that they can. But at least right now they’re giving liquidity on the one side and they’re raising rates on the other side. I’m not sure they can do this for us.


We’ve actually talked about that at length here. But it’s not the Fed. It’s really the treasury. Sterilizing QT They’re coordinating.


They’re coordinating.


Of course they coordinate for the most part, but sometimes in the last six months or the last twelve months. Powell and Yellen have been at odds with each other in policy. So this is a lot of the reasons why the markets has just been topsy turbine. Don’t understand which way it’s going because you have conflicting policy and agendas from the treasury and the Fed.


So you feel it’s conflicting or do you think it’s coordinating? They’re doing it on purpose. That’s what I haven’t figured out yet.


I think the want to eliminate excess cash in the system is coordinated but I think the policy of how they’re doing that is conflicting and that’s going to be a bigger problem, say second half of this year.


Okay, sounds logical, but it’s one of these things that pass on me. I don’t know if they’re doing it on purpose or if they do any as you say, because they’re using other tools and they step on each other doing so.


My rule of thumb is to side with incompetence rather than conspiracy.




It’s not conspiracy when the Fed chairman talks with the treasury guy?


No, I am absolutely in your corner on this one. I absolutely believe that they talk and coordinate things for sure. I just think that their agenda at the moment doesn’t line up 100% of the time.




Very good. Okay, thanks for that guys. Tracy, let’s talk about energy for a while. Up until Friday we had a pretty good week for crude. I thought we were breaking that down cycle a bit, but we’re seeing some chop in energy markets. And so we had a question for you from a viewer saying when do you see oil and natty in a sustainable uptrend?


Yeah, nat gas is a whole other issue. I think it’s going to be very difficult really. We’re trading in the range that we’ve been trading in most of the time for the last 20 years or so. That $2, $3 range has been very comfortable for nat gas. We produce a lot of nat gas. Yes, we are building out LNG facilities and yes, we have had problems with freeport and such. I just think that we probably won’t really see a big spike in prices unless we see another energy crisis in Europe, do you know what I’m saying? And then we’re going to have to force to sell even more. So for right now I would kind of get comfortable with nat gas about that range. But if it starts breaking above like 375 or so I would start getting bullish. But for right now, just kind of in that area where it’s been comfortable most of the time. Right. So I think it’s going to be a while for that. So we got to kind of assess the situation in Europe as we get to summer air conditioning use and to next winter if they have a bad winter, I think it’s going to be a few more months at least down the line for natural gas as far as oil is concerned.


Brent said about $75 right now, saudi Arabia would like it around 80, 90 range is where they’re really comfortable. I think right now what we’re going to have to get through is we’re going to have to really assess we need more time to assess Russia’s situation. They just extended that 500,000 barrel a day cut out until June. The latest records do show that they actually have cut that much so far in March. So the cut is happening, which also means that they’re experiencing kind of a pullback in demand, even though they have really it’s more on the product end rather than, I should say, rather than the crude oil end, because they have floating storage, they have ships piling up everywhere with product. And so I think that will help clear their excess product a little more. So it’s really on the product end and that we also have to see everybody’s freaking if the Fed again decides to stop raising rates or pause. I think commodities really like that situation just because of the cost of carry and transportation and storage for all these commodities is very expensive. Right.




You get bank credit lines for that. Right. And so I think that’s putting downward pressure on markets right now. And then obviously fear of recession is kind of kicking in again after the recent bank crisis in the US. And in Europe. And so I really don’t think that we’ll see higher prices. I mean, typically this is the time of year we do start seeing higher prices heading into high summer demand season. But we’ve also been seeing, I think everybody expected China. China demanded to shoot up right away. That’s taking longer than anticipated, which I kind of have been saying that on this show for quite a few months.


Long time. Exactly.


So I think that there’s a lot of factors involved right now. I do think, again, it’s higher for longer. Historically still, prices at $70 is high for oil. The market is crashing by any means, just coming down from geopolitically induced spike last year. I think it’s higher for longer. And definitely I could see prices go into that $110 range, but likely into 2024. Not really this year, obviously, unless something happens. Okay.


Do you think if the Fed poses or whatever reason, or if they do a rate cut, do you think that commodities will explode or do you think.


I think if they cut, commodities would get really excited. I think if they pause, they would get excited. Right. I think we would see a rebound in a lot of these commodities, grains, things of that base metals and industrial metals and oil. But if they start cutting, then I think that they’ll really like that because then they don’t have to throw product at the market because they can’t afford to store it.


Thank you.


I’m actually quite bullish for oil in the near term. One of the reasons is I’ve heard through the grapevine that the Chicanery and the futures market and I’m reading that hedge funds and other money managers sold the equivalent of 139,000,000 barrels of oil in futures over seven days a week and a half ago. So, I mean, to me, it’s like they’re almost out of ammo when it comes to suppressing oil at the moment. And any little flare up or anything is probably going to be bullish for oil and probably shoot right back up to 80.


So what could that be, Albert?


It could be a natural event. It could be weather, I mean, some kind of economic policy stimulus from Europe coming out there, or even the United States going into, like Tracy was saying, the travel season and whatnot. It could be anything, really. I mean, I think the market is just begging for some kind of bullish signal for them to run it up.


Okay. And Tracy, if you’re sitting in Europe because energy prices were such a factor in 2022, what are the main things that you’re worried about? Their nat gas storage. Has that been depleted much over the winter?


No, it wasn’t depleted. They just had to start injections again because what we are seeing is that this really started in fall of 2021. Everybody kind of forgets that the crisis started before the Ukraine invasion, but what we saw is industry start to shut down, especially industry like smelting and glass blowing and things of that nature that require a lot of energy. Right when nat gas prices started spiking, and that was well before that summer of 2022 spike, they didn’t need to spike much where we saw a lot of those industries shut down. So what we’re seeing now is that since prices have been muted for long enough now, now we are seeing manufacturing and whatnot pick up with the numbers came in overnight for Europe. We’re seeing manufacturing pick up again. We’re starting to see some drawdowns finally in storage. Spain in particular has really ramped up a lot of their industry that had shut down prior. I have to say, natural gas prices are still more expensive than they typically are in Europe. Even at this price, right, they’re still higher than normal. So this is also why we’re not seeing a flurry of activity.


As soon as prices came down, you have to realize that relative to where they were, they’re still generally high. But we are seeing, I think people are getting used to kind of this price range for Ttf, which is Dutchnet gas. And so we are seeing in manufacturing and industry pick up again in some of these traditional industries that require a lot of energy. So we’ll have to see, and if that really picks up, companies are going back to where they went to fuel instead of gas. We’re seeing them go back to gas now. And so that’s really what I’m watching on the energy end. Is this just one off, kind of, or does this continue throughout the summer?






And then everybody’s favorite energy secretary, Jennifer Grandholm, had some comments about refilling the Spr this week. Can you fill us in on that? And what does that mean for markets?


Basically, she said we’re not filling in the Spr, refilling the Spr anytime soon.




She said a few years, which means a lot more years unless there’s a change of administration and a policy change. But I would say from until the election not going to see an Sbr, which makes sense because they know that if they fill the Spr, what’s going to happen? Oil prices are likely going to go higher, and they can’t afford that going heading into an election year. And so I think that’s really why they kind of pushed that off. That’s kind of what’s going on with that.


Can they be saying something and doing something else?


Yeah, but we would know if they’re actually filling the Spr or not because it’s a public auction.


Okay, why don’t we just stop calling it the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and just call it the Petroleum Reserve? Nothing strategic about the way they’re using the Tactical Petroleum Reserve.


They’re using it as a piggy bank. Right.


Instead of strategic, you use slush fund, petroleum reserve.


Right, exactly. Okay, guys, one last question, I guess. What are you looking for in the week ahead? We’ve had a lot of volatility over the past couple of weeks. Michael, what are you looking for in the week ahead?


I’m focusing on central banks and interest rates. I think the issue will be banks. Again, I think the big stress in the economy is private markets and not public markets. BCS, private equity, all these investments need to do write downs. It will take a bit more time for them to do that. It doesn’t happen that fast. They don’t adjust as fast as public market. I believe that bank we will see that stress mostly on banking stocks. A because the cost of funding goes up, b because the capital structure is put into a discussion. C because they continue to raise interest rates. And there is a stress within, I think, focusing on what happens to the banks and to the two central banks. Again, we’re looking at the same thing, unfortunately, but the problem is not in the same place. But these are the indicators you need to look. I believe that you’re going to see inflation coming down fast. That’s my expectation. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you see inflation coming down, it’ll make the life much easier for central bank. Yeah.


And for all of us. Do you expect to see, like VCs, for example, some VCs close up because of the cost of funds and a lot of these banking issues, or do you think it really doesn’t impact them much?


I don’t know if they’re going to close down because it’s a 510 year investment. It depends if they can reinvest or if they have to liquidate. But I think funds that are coming up to their maturity, they need to liquidate or they need to roll over. It’s going to happen at a much lower price than they thought, or they’ll have to wait one or two years more. So I think that stress is going to show up somewhere.


Tracy, what do you see over the next week?


I think it’s type based markets. There’s not really a lot coming up as far as oil is concerned. OPEC meeting is the following week, which we already know they’re going to do nothing. So really, next week, end of month stuff, there’s not a whole lot going on in the commodities world, really newswise next week. So I think probably see the same sideways action.


Okay, great. Robert, what are you looking for? Let me ask a little bit of a kind of loaded question with that. As springtime is coming in in Ukraine, do we expect that to heat up at all as things warm a bit there?


Well, yeah, I would say yes. Geopolitically? I think it would be advantageous for Russia to do something to stay face. Absolutely. But for the week ahead, I think the narrative shift I’m watching for the narrative shift of interest rates to banking, like Michael was talking about, I think Yellen is most likely going to come out and try to guarantee 500,000 in deposits and even talk about 750 and get it up there and just get the crisis over and done with. So that’s what I’m looking for.




Wow. Would that require congressional no, they can use emergency powers. Everything’s. Emergency power is great. Perfect. Okay, thanks, guys. Thank you very much. Really appreciate your time and all your insight, and have a great week ahead.




Thank you very much. Have a great weekend, too.


Thank you.

Week Ahead

Economic Warfare: What kills the US Dollar & Inflation’s hold on Europe

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In the latest episode of “The Week Ahead”, Tony Nash, Michael Kao, Albert Marko, and Ralph Schoellhammer discussed the current market trends and key themes in the world of finance. The discussion revolved around three main topics – “What kills the US dollar?”, “DXY to 112? Turbulence Incoming”, and “Inflation’s hold on Europe”.

Mike started the discussion by talking about the symposium on the Great Power Competition with China and the US Dollar’s primacy in an era of economic warfare. He emphasized that the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is at risk due to the rise of other currencies such as the Chinese Yuan. Mike further elaborated on the factors that could potentially kill the US dollar, such as a shift towards a new reserve currency or the decline of the US economy.

Moving on to the next topic, Albert spoke about the DXY, which he expects to reach 112 in the near future. He explained that this is due to the strengthening of the US economy, coupled with rising interest rates and the anticipation of the Fed’s monetary tightening. However, he also cautioned that the markets are likely to experience turbulence due to the uncertainties surrounding the central bank policy and the geopolitical risks.

Ralph then focused on the impact of inflation on Europe. He pointed out that inflation in Europe has been rising at an alarming rate, with Austria’s inflation rate being 0.9% m/m and 11.2% on year. Ralph also tweeted about the rapid increase in bankruptcies, and how this could lead to a domino effect on the European economy. He predicted that the European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision to tighten monetary policy would lead to further economic challenges, especially in Q2 of this year.

Key themes:
1. What kills the US dollar?
2. DXY to 112? Turbulence Incoming
3. Inflation’s hold on Europe

This is the 54th 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 and today we’re joined by Michael Kao. Michael is @urbankaoboy on Twitter. He’s an ex-hedge fund manager and now he’s a private investor. We’re also joined by Albert Marko, who you’re well familiar with, and Ralph Schoellhammer, who is at Webster University in Vienna and he’s a political economics expert.


So before we get started, I want to talk about our Friends of Tony promo. So I have more than one friend. So it’s plural. Friends of Tony Promo. So, CI Futures is our markets forecasting platform where we forecast about 800 items every month. We do currencies, commodities and equities every week, every Monday morning. And we do the top 50 economies economic variables once a month where we do show our error rates there. So that is what distinguishes us from other folks. There is accountability. And you don’t have to guess about our previous performance. We’re having a promo. The coupon code is friends of Tony. Plural friends. It’s $19.99 per month for a twelve-month subscription. It’s for new subscribers only. We’re only doing it for the first 25 people who come in. So please make sure you get on this right away. Please go to and we hope you subscribe.

So guys, thank you for joining us. We have a few key themes this week. First, Michael has written quite a bit about the dollar and about the kind of economic warfare happening now between the US. And China. So we’re going to take the other side of his typical argument and look at what kills the US dollar. We’re going to talk to Albert about dollar strength. He made a statement about the dollar going to 112 with some turbulence. So we’re going to dig into that. And then Ralph is going to talk us through inflation’s hold on Europe. So, should be a really broad macro conversation for us today, which I’m really looking forward to. Mike, you did recently attend this symposium on the Great Power competition with China, I think it was at West Point. And you spoke about US dollar primacy and an area of economic warfare, which must have been great. I missed my invite, but it must have been a great discussion and I think we’re all pretty jealous. I assume that much of the presumption or fears about the Chinese Yan, right.

Is that kind of what the basis was of this?


Yeah, I think generally when people are talking about threats to the US dollar system right. The most glaring contender is the Chinese Yuan, given all the scaffolding that they’re setting up with 60 plus odd bilateral swaps around the world and one belt, one road and all this stuff. Right. But anyways, if you want I can go. First of all, I love the fact that you’re forcing me to steal, man, the counter argument against my own thesis. Good. Which is great. Yes.


You’ve talked about the US dollar wrecking ball. Right. And you’ve really talked a lot about how the dollar has really kind of hurt some emerging markets. So I do have a chart of USD CNY, and we’ve seen the volatility of the CNY over the past really five years, ten years. And you know, part of my concern about the CNY is the PBOC.

And you know, we can talk about that in detail, but I’d really like to hear, what do you think? If the dollar was displaced, how would that happen? And we could spend days talking about this, but I guess in a summary conversation, how would that happen and what would be a potential other store of value that would be accepted globally?


Okay, so I was going to answer this question on different time scales, right? There’s short term and there’s longer term, but I believe where you’re going with this is a longer term time scale. Like what ultimately displaces the dollar as the global reserve currency. Right.


We can talk different timescales. I actually think that’s very interesting.


Right, well, look, let me dispense with the easy part first, which is the shorter time scale. I’ve been saying for a while now that I don’t necessarily think that we’ve seen the cyclical top in the US dollar in the short term just because I don’t think any of the competing regional blocks can outhawk the Fed. Or conversely, I don’t think the Fed is going to be in a position where it’s going to outdove the rest of the world either. Right. So either of those scenarios tell me that I think the US dollar is probably going to resurge. And so obviously the counter to that, what would have to happen for that not to happen? Well, I think that the US economy would have to suddenly take a turn for the worst and be in a much worse spot than the rest of the world. And the rest of the world would basically be able to become a much more hawkish visa vis the Fed. I see the exact opposite playing out in the short term. Okay, so now longer term and this is basically the topic of my paper, right? So I think the premise of my paper is that this notion that Breton Woods was basically this top down construct that it foisted a Trojan horse mechanism on the world where, hey, everybody, come use the US dollar because we’re going to be convertible to gold.


And then all of a sudden in 1971, nixon shocks the world and takes that gold tether away. But it’s too late. Everybody is stuck using a dollar. I call bullshit on that thesis because if you look at the Euro dollar, the rise of the Euro dollar banking system, it started happening probably 15 years before that.


And he was actually very popular when he did that.


Right? Yeah, well, it’s started happening by the way. It started happening the real catalyst to it first it was the failure of the tripartite agreement after World War II, which tried to stabilize the frank and the pound and the dollar exchange rates. But then in 1957, when Britain basically in a domestic flight against inflation, surprise, surprise, they they basically instituted capital controls. So there was a there was a tremendous global need for a liquid reserve alternative. And so the world actors on the world stage organically flocked to the US. Dollar. So the premise of my paper delves into what are if trust in the dollar already went well beyond its gold backing back then, right? What lent that trust? And so our paper posits that it rests upon national power. It’s a bedrock of national power. And I focus on three economic pillars of national power geography, which informs everything. But then geography also informs a country’s access to its natural resources and its industrial capacity. So in our paper, we talk about how, look, the US. It’s well known that the US. Is very, very naturally bowed with geographic assets that are really unparalleled in many ways.


And China is short a lot of those assets. However, because we have a federalist capitalist system, china is using essentially economic warfare to target that as a vulnerability, right? So they have unfairly competed and stolen IP in the world of semiconductors. Right. They’re trying very hard to replicate Taiwan success with TSMC. Fortunately the US. Controls critical choke points in that industry still. But yet, in that area at least, the US. Is finally starting to come around and make some very specific targeted export controls as well as changes to its industrial policy. The point here is that in that area alone, the US. Is starting to recognize the importance of reshoring and defending our flank from an industrial policy perspective. But when you compare and contrast that to oil and gas, which is the other critical supply chain where the US. Is currently the leading oil supplier in the world, and we are naturally long that natural resource, but because of blind devotion to ESG adoption and this erroneous assumption that an energy transition is going to follow Moore’s Law dynamic when it won’t right. Is going to leave us in a very dangerous lurch. I point out that there’s a real inconsistency there where we’re kind of shooting ourselves in our own foot when it comes to energy policy.


To answer your question, what has to happen for the US. To really lose its status? I started thinking. I said, well, number one, okay. Oh, the other thing is much ado has been made of the US. Weaponization and the criminal west seizure of Russian reserve assets and whatnot. Okay, well, look, I also point out in my paper that, yes, that should be a shot across the bow for US. Policymakers because, like the situation in the 1950s, right, it certainly creates an incentive for our adversaries to look for an alternative. But what are the alternatives? Because if you look at the eurozone, the yen, the pound. The euro is, frankly, the most successful challenger to the dollar to date. And yet, since its inception in 1999, us share of FX reserves has stayed constant 60%. It’s the euro that’s actually lost share. Now, the Chinese yuan. Here’s the problem. What has to happen for the yuan to supplant? The US number one, china would have to prove that it will be a better benefactor and more trustworthy sort of steward of the global commons than the US. I don’t see that happening in almost any circumstance.


So let me ask you just in that what allies does China have? Like, if China were to say, okay, boys, we’re going to war. Line up and let’s form a coalition, who would China’s allies be?


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Well, that’s that’s a really good question, because right now right now well, yeah, those those are the those are the two, right? And perhaps, perhaps Iran. Right? But, like, Russia is interesting because China’s relationship with Russia over decades and centuries and even centuries, certainly, right. Has been kind of a storied one. Right. I wouldn’t say that this dragon bear romance is necessarily that chummy, because, look, China is really happy that it’s getting big discounts to Russian euros, right. And that’s directly countered to Russia’s interest, I think this whole notion that right now they share a common interest in wanting to counter the US’s. Hegemony, but that is a very fragile bromance, to say the least. The other thing I was going to say is that the other thing that would have to happen for the US. To see dominance, I think, would be that the US. Willingly essentially becomes a vassal state to China and allows China to roll over. Basically, our interest in the Indopacific, that the US. Allows China to take over Taiwan and we just roll over and do nothing. I guess in a parallel universe, that could happen. I’m not seeing that happening.


I think that China’s significance alone, not just as an unthinkable aircraft carrier, potentially for China if seized, given its geostrategic position in the first island chain, but obviously Taiwan semiconductor alone is of critical significance.


Just to take the other side of that for a minute, you know, let’s also be very aware that, you know, the wars that the US. Has lost over the last 80 years have really been to China in Korea, to China in Vietnam. Right.


We didn’t lose those wars, Tony. Our military objectives were all met. We’re confusing the political opponent.


We lost those two wars. I mean, we had to negotiate the settlement, and the US lost those two wars. So the only people the US has really lost to over the last, you know, hundred years is the Chinese. And so, you know, I do sit with you and with Albert in terms of if things were to happen, you know, with the US prevail, I actually think they would I don’t think it would be a cakewalk, and I do think there are some scars there in Asia. Right.


I think you have to compare and contrast that to where the US. Was in World War II, like when Britain lost its hegemony, where the pound lost its hegemony is because the UK was in a very tough spot. It had essentially bankrupted itself after World War II and was completely beholden to the US. The US’s lend Lease program. Right. So the US essentially had all the cards. Now, here the two wars that you talk about. I agree with Albert. It’s not even close to the same thing. We withdrew, and it wasn’t a great withdrawal, but it wasn’t a situation where we had essentially bankrupted ourselves and we were completely dependent on the largess of somebody else. Right.


If I can interject Michael, we can.


Go on and on.


About to go back to Tony’s question, what would come next? I mean, theoretically, the United States would have to have some sort of societal breakdown. Our rule of law would have to break down, and we’d have to become a nonintervationalist nation. We wouldn’t be able to protect our interests globally at that point. Something could come along to dethrone the dollar. But even if we’re at that point, I think the next logical step of removing the dollar as a reserve currency would be an Anglosphere plus Japan digital currency, where regional players would secure their own interests in those regions and have a collective I mean, this is just theoretical and way out of our lifetimes, in my opinion. But I think it would be a step down to that first where our allies and the US. Would jointly have a currency block yeah. Running through all the scenarios, in my opinion, that would be the only thing that would take the dollar. That would be I mean, the dollar would still be a part of it, but it wouldn’t be the main part of it. It would be the sole unit polar one. But you could have an angle sphere plus Japan digital currency for just for trade settlement.


Now, you know what I think the highest probability sort of gray rhino would be out of all this. It would be that if China made overtures toward Taiwan and Taiwan willingly just say, Here, take me. Because I think last year, or maybe two years ago, I wrote a thread about this, how some of the older guard in Taiwan and you know this, Tony some of the older guards that are with the KMT, they really don’t like the DPP because the DPP wants to get away from the Chinese ancestral roots of the Taiwanese. So the old God doesn’t like that. And so what if China says, hey, we’re going to take you? And then what if Taiwan says, Here, take me to me? That is much more worrisome than an amphibious takeover of Taiwan, which I see is very low probability.


Yeah, exactly.


Yeah. I think that is the most likely scenario of the scenarios of China taking over Taiwan. Right. It’s a mutual but with the DPP in power and with DPP as a sizable political party there, it’s a north versus south issue for people don’t really understand. KMT is largely North, DPP is largely south, and DPP comes to power when their policies really align with people in the north from time to time. Right. And so that’s how the DPP gets into power. The DPP is much more nationalistic and independent than the KMT.


That would be pretty risky, I mean, for the United States if it didn’t intervene in some which way, because then you could talk about North Korea and South Korea unification and siding with the Chinese at some point, which is not out of the realm of possibility, in my opinion.


Right, okay. Can we agree? Is it eliminated for the next probably 2030 years?




Do you think it’s eliminated, Michael?


I think so. I think so as well. I was on a different podcast earlier this week, and I keep alluding to this interesting podcast that Andrew Hunt out of the UK did, where he did analysis on 36 Chinese private banks. And his assessment is that there’s four there’s a $4 trillion liability gap that’s not captured in the in the balance of payments. China is much china is much, much more levered than the US.




But but it’s but it’s hidden. It’s just pin behind the Opacity curtain. That’s exactly right.


Doesn’t look good. So if we if we push China out, say, 30, 40 years before they’re a contender, and they may not even be they may be too old by that time, because there really isn’t immigration to China right. Except for from North Korea and maybe a couple of other places. So we pushed China out. What about Europe? Will we have European decide for morale in 30 years? Will we have the demographic age of people who can actually work and contribute to the economy?


They don’t have a functioning military and solely reliant. Their banks are solely reliant on the US. At the moment. They’re insolvent, in my opinion.


So, yeah, that’s a good point. If you can’t defend yourself and if the demographics continue to get worse, they won’t have people that will defend the area. So if you can’t defend yourself, you can’t have a functional currency. Right.


I guess that was a little bit an unintended consequence. And this is something Europeans hate to admit, but of course a lot of EU policy was kind of this dirty secret. The United States were constraining China and Russia, and the Europeans were trying to make deals with them. If you think back them in the entire Russian pipeline network to Europe, and I think with all of it also mentioned, kind of psychological effect was a certain form of infantilization. Right. This idea that military conflicts simply are a thing of the past in many ways, I see the biggest security risk for the United States. I don’t want to over dramatize it, but I see it almost more in Europe than in China or elsewhere, but not because of an actual military conflict, but the commitments to Europe for cultural and historical reasons that this is going to drag down American capacities. This is going to work out. But the European idea and we hear it again europe will now rearment the Titan vendors. They talked about the Germany. If you look at what’s actually happening, it’s just not happening because they know that the populations don’t really have an interest in that.


Yeah. Okay, so it’s not CNY. It’s not Euro. What else is a viable it’s not Japan.




This is what’s making me allude to the fact that I think that anglosphered plus Japan digital currency would be the only logical step. Next logical step. Just in my opinion. I just can’t see anything else out there. The Swiss francs is not big enough. The pound is not a relic of what it was without any actual alternatives that we can discuss. What’s out there? Nothing’s out there.


And by the way, all these, like, newfangled ideas of having some sort of pan global currency backed by commodities. But you know what? John made her. Cain’s backed the Bancorp during the battle for Bretton Woods. Harry Dexter White backed the unit. The SDR was tried and failed. The US. Dollar. Is that pan global currency?




Yeah, it is. I keep arguing with these gold back currency people, and I’m like, what would stop me being the dictator of Albania, of spray paying some lead and saying, there’s my gold? But you can’t really look at it. You know what I mean? No nation gives you a transparent audit. So how could you even have a currency based on such a thing? It’s just silly to me, in my opinion.


Ralph, jump in.




And I think one of the things this is what Mike did so well, I think in his paper that he presented at Westbourne, I think we have to look at kind of the structural conditions. And in many ways the United States has the occasional incompetent administration, but their structural is still more sound than any potential competitor, definitely more than Europe. And I think if one takes a closer look, they’re all structurally, at the moment, more sound than China. And in the case of a real conflict, I mean, these things really, really matter. And besides the rhetoric in America, we.


Expect our politicians to be dumb, and we just work around that.


Yeah, I mean, in a perfect world, the Pentagon would be working with the treasury to weaponize the dollar. I guess in the adversaries, I mean, that’s something the Pentagon has never really understood or really looked at, is like, you can place your adversaries in a certain position, being short commodities, short food, and you can really strain bingo, bingo.


By the way, that is the premise of our paper. Our paper is literally saying is literally saying that rather than rely on overt sanctions, that basically cause everybody to look for alternatives to the dollar. We’re at this really interesting macroeconomic window where a strong dollar policy inflicts asymmetric pain in our largest geopolitical adversary.


Yeah, it’s an absolute logical thing to do. And on top of that, not only can you use the dollar, but you can now use derivatives of the dollars, specifically grains. I mean, there’s only five companies in America that control the world’s grain. You can call them up and cause problems for the world or for China, for Russia, for any nation you really want to target if you really want to get down to that level.


And by the way, it also kills two birds with 1 st, right. Because it basically export our inflation problem because we are in a domestic fight against inflation.


Okay, that’s a great idea. Let’s do that. Great. Okay, so let’s just call this new currency TBD. How about that? Because I’m not really sure what to put in there. There are a lot of cheerleaders, as you guys have pointed out, trying to push other things forward, but I just don’t see the case for them. And outside of just suspending reality, I just don’t see the case for something else right now. I don’t say that as an American. I like, I’m not necessarily trying to kind of represent for the dollar. I just don’t see the viability of other options right now.




I would be I would be the first one waving the red flags if there was an actual alternative out there.


Oh, there was one thing I was going to riff on. Albert, what what you were saying, or Tony, what you were saying in terms of, you know, our politicians being idiots and whatnot. So so my my view on that is that it’s because of the geographic endowments that the US. Has that’s enabled our federalist free market system to arrive and to survive. Because if you think about it, right, if you’re China or Russia with unbelievably shitty geography, it takes an autocratic system to try to hold that bucket of bolts together. To paraphrase Han Solo, why would you.


Want to own all that land if you’re Russia, why do you want to own the east? I don’t get it. It’s just hard to keep it all together. So that’s a great point, Mike. Okay, great. Hey, let’s go from talking to the dollar to talking about the dollar. Okay. You put a Tweet up earlier this week saying when the dollar started breaking upward, you talked about expecting Dxy to hit 112.

So it’s kind of we’re, we’re heading back to where we were last year, I guess. So can you walk us through that reasoning? And you talked about turbulence. Incoming. Can you, can you talk about what that turbulence is?


Inflation. It’s back again. And as much as the Fed doesn’t want to admit a mistake, they’ve absolutely created policies of mistakes and allowed inflation to rear its ugly head. I don’t want to leave it all on, all on the Fed. A lot of it has to do with Yellen’s actions and what she’s done with the dollar and then bringing it up and bringing it down. I mean, this goes to Michael’s point of the weaponization of the dollar is, you know, Yellen takes the TGA and she’s in charge of dollar policy. She can take the dollar up. And what she did, and it drove all the liquidity in Europe, back in Asia, back into the United States, which kept our markets propped up.


For people who haven’t watched this word, can you talk about what the TGA is?


And then if the treasury general account, she can use it in many ways, but basically it’s injecting liquidity into the economy.


And how much at what scale has she done over the past, say, nine months or something?


Prior to the midterms, she was doing about 160,000,000,000 a month.




Okay, that’s a lot. When you say injecting, where was that going?


Well, I don’t know exactly where it was going. That’s not really clear. But she was absolutely using it and I’m sure it’s been dispersed throughout the economy and whatever sectors that she needed to send it out to to rally the markets. And she did a good job. I mean, the markets have stayed up here over 4000 for quite a long time and we don’t really deserve to be here at the moment. The problem that we’re having here now is as you rally the markets now, commodities start to rally. I mean, Europe was in a zombie status. China has been in lockdown for the most part. Yeah, I mean, they’re doing this, but as they reopen, inevitably inflation is going to come back. Wage inflation has been persistent. That’s not going to wave. I mean, I mean, honestly, the workers probably deserve wage inflation after 40 years of getting nothing. So, you know, I can’t really blame them on that aspect. But again, we’re, we’re sitting here with a hot PC PCE number today. You know, it looks like CPI is probably going to be sticky again next, next time around. And the Fed is going to be talking about 50 basis points when they, you know, previously the markets were calculating that we’re going to do a pause or a pivot in a later in the year.


That’s just not happening. A couple of meetings.


No. So I mean, this honestly feels like Q one of 22 to me. The whole setup right now feels like Q one of 22.


We’re right back where we started, Michael. Right back where we started. Because of Fed policies, they’ve done nothing to correct the situation with inflation.


Okay, so what’s going to happen to drive the dollar up? Yellen stops spending out of the TGA or doesn’t spend as much, or Fed policy, all the above. What happens to contribute to that?


I think it’s going to be a combination of Fed policy and then the ECB, the Europeans being hawkish themselves. But I think that we’re looking at 75 basis points, probably going up to five and 5.75 on the Fed funds rate by the end of the year, maybe even six. I don’t think they can go over that. But I mean, that alone should take the dollar up to 112. I’m sure they can, but taking the dollar over 115 to 120, you’re going to start causing massive problems. Rest of the world, you just start breaking things.


Can I ask Ralph a question?


Absolutely, sure.


So Ralph, I’m curious. I agree with Albert’s thesis. When I look at the inflation prints in Europe and in the UK, still so high, that gives me a little bit of pause right again on betting on the dollar continuing to rise, except when you look at the state of the economy. And so I’m curious how you see that, because I believe the last UK GDP print was very close to skirting the zero bound. So how much more can the BoE or the ECB really do?


Sorry, before we do that, let’s move into rough section, which is inflation hold on Europe, right? Which is exactly what you’re talking about. And so we saw Austrian CPI committed 11.2% year on year. When was the last time that happened, Ralph? I mean, what we’ve seen over the past few months maybe, I don’t know, 40 years ago or something.


Oh, yeah, before I was born. And so this has been significantly long time ago. The problem is, despite what the ECB does for European politicians, it’s always the 1930s. So the answer, the economic problem is that it must be a demand side problem. So every time the ECB hikes rates, the government comes in with fiscal expansion. And Australia is the best example for this. Pretty much everything that would have been caused by higher rates has been softened by government spending and now expected government spending to happen in the future, which is they very slowly or not at all changed their behavior. So the, the idea to. Kind of, you know, pull money out of the system due to high interest rates is not working as as expected. I mean, we we saw it in Germany. It was when we met the last time, right? They said that there was actually slow growth in Germany in Q four 2022. Then they said that was a slight contraction of 0.2. Today we got the second revision. That actually it’s a contraction of 0.4. And that’s mostly because there was government spending. Otherwise it would have been significantly worse.


And I think this is really the problem we are running into. So every time the ECB tries to high grade, governments will jump in with their own fiscal policies, trying to soften it. And what, of course, happens as a consequence, europe is losing its industrial base. So supply side politics, which would be necessary, they become more and more difficult. I mean, Tracy on the last weekend did a great job in kind of just listing all the aluminum smelters and all the heavy industry that has been closed down. We heard today that Germany’s chemical giant BASF is shrinking operations all over Europe. So at some point, you cannot just turn this back on again. So I’m very worried about the structural health of Europe, or even if we look at R and D and spending, right out of the top ten R and D spenders, there is one European company, which is Volkswagen, but all the other companies, most of them are American and some of them are Asian. But Europe is losing kind of connection to all of this just as a challenge to you guys. I mean, name one groundbreaking innovation or one groundbreaking area, and let’s say the high tech area where Europe or European nation was on the forefront in the last 20 years.


Nothing comes to my mind.


Well, ASM Lithography.


Ralph brings up a great point, and one I usually harp on a lot is whenever you have political policies intermixing with economic policies, you have a problem because politicians want to get elected and their terms are a lot shorter than economic policies need. You know what I mean? That’s just the reality of it. I mean, the Germans, they say they’re tightening things up, but then they give 80% of their population, 80% of their paycheck to stay home. That’s not going to help.


And by the way, all this, right, all the slowdown in BASF and all that that you’re talking about, Ralph, this is with an extremely benign weather backdrop this year that enabled Ttf and NBP to collapse.


So huge benefit.


I think there are two other very important issues that particular European politicians don’t get and that you and Mike had also talked a lot about, which is there is this weird idea that if Europeans and Americans stop drilling and supplying the world with fossil fuels, that somehow the prices will go down. But exactly the opposite is going to happen because we’re still going to consume it, we just no longer produce it, which is great for all the non European and non American producers. And the second part, what I think Europeans still don’t understand, is there is still this idea that the world will go back to as it was, let’s say ten years ago, like very early on. But even if there were, new should stop. Right? It’s obvious that there is a new kind of industrial policy happening that French showing that reassuring is going to happen and that will push upwards pressure on prices. And Europeans, at some point, they’re going to feel this. I mean, we see. With Germany, Europe is increasingly becoming a continent that has to import more and more, but everything we can export is becoming less and less.


That is not a sustainable model unless we say we just become the world’s biggest retirement home tourist destination. But other than that, it’s really problematic.


That’s interesting because I remember Belina and I were talking about what Europe should do and it was definitely bring black your supply chains to Eastern Europe, north Africa, closer to home, something Europe can drive in investments and actually hold it close to close to their hand there. But they just have not done anything. They want to rely back on the old guard of let’s go to China and grab their market share. Meanwhile, Africa is sitting right there. That’s going to have a bigger population in the next 25 years than China and Younger and Hungary for innovation and products, but they haven’t capitalized on that.


It’s like an inversion of the 19th century, right, when there was once a time where Europeans looked at the map and so everything is a potential part of the empire, not like they barely looked at the map at all. And I think it shows in their economic policies.


Yeah. Just going back over to what you were saying about the short termism of governments, and we see this, at least in the west, the bureaucracy is supposed to be the part of government that helps the office holders to see the longer term. But the quality of our bureaucracy has deteriorated so much over the last 2030 years that they just don’t care.


They don’t care. I put a lot of blame on social media right now. I mean, all these politicians get on social media and do catch phrases and this and that, and everything is in the real and now and immediate and so on and so forth, six months down the road. They don’t care. Simply, they don’t care.


Yeah. Ralph, one of the things that you tweeted out earlier, and I know Michael found this really interesting, was the bankruptcies in Europe. This was a Eurostat chart that came out looking at the rate of acceleration of bankruptcies across industries. Can you talk to us about that a little bit?


Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple of factors not work. I mean, one is that a lot of these companies it’s kind of what happened in the financial sector during the Great Recession where you had these zombie banks. I think a lot of this is now also happening in the real economy and the industrial economy where many companies have been propped up during Cobit, they have been propped up by very low interest rates and this is now coming to an end. I can only speak for Austria, but there are many companies, of course, also have loans, some of them with not fixed interest rates. And of course they are squeezed now, so they have huge problems in refinancing themselves. And I think this is just the beginning. I don’t share the optimist. I’m kind of a little bit Albert here. Everybody who says that either inflation is going to be over, there’s no trustworthy indicator for me that inflation is ending anytime soon. And the second one is this idea and you mentioned this also, Tony, one of your tweets. I think the IMF forecast for growth in the Eurozone are too optimistic. I think that factors that are not yet calculated.


Absolutely. And of course the big elephant in the room comes and go to mike, did you mention, is of course, energy. Like, everybody is like, oh, the energy crisis is over. But that’s only because elasticities in the energy sector are very low. So yes, if there is a lot available right now, it immediately affects the price. But there is no guarantee that it’s going to stay like this in the medium and long term. And if I look at European policy, I think that it’s going to get worse before it gets better seems more likely. And you see gradually signals like this coming from the International Energy Agency and from Goldman Sachs. So all of a sudden the optimists of two months ago say, well, it might be more problematic than we anticipated it to be. And one part of the story is something that also Mike mentioned. At some point, I think we have to say this also openly is this obsession with ESG and an energy transition that makes the promise that by 2030, 2035 the European economy is going to run entirely on renewables, which is an unrealistic. And we want to be more outspoken about it, which I think is a ludicrous proposal that cannot be fulfilled.


I call that the grativerse.


Yeah, we’ll all be driving.


As a quick last point if we want to put real numbers on it. I mean, the German government alone, the Europeans spent almost a trillion dollars on energy last year. The Germans spent about $465,000,000,000 only on energy and all it got them was the declining economy by 0.4% in the first quarter. So what is their strategy if they want to do this again next year and we see it in the spread? At some point markets are going to look at Germany and say, listen, your reputation has been great for the last 40 years, but can you really still.


Deliver what what you germany’s got a lot of they’ve got a lot of capacity for fiscal spending. I just think they haven’t opened up as much as they need to yet. I mean, I think that’s part of.


Their they can’t they go into a doom loop of inflation.


What happens when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate next time around?




I think all of you are right. Tony’s right. I think there is still wiggle room. But what are they doing with the money? Right? Instead of making capital investment and saying, okay, we solve the problem, to do something they pretty much put it all into welfare checks, energy subsidies, but exactly. Encourage people to spend more and more products that are less and less available. So what’s the only thing you get? It’s inflation. I don’t know what the politicians are looking at.


Speaking of that, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite central banker, Madam Lagarde, and the choice that she has at the next meeting. She said earlier this week that they’re likely to raise by 50 basis points at the next meeting.

So what we’ve seen, the last two rate hikes were 50. We saw a couple of 75s in September and October. So there had been a hope like there was in the US. That things would not loosen or ease, but at least slow down on the rate hiking front in Europe. But with the pace of inflation, it almost seems like they don’t really have a choice, right?


I would agree. Yeah, I think they don’t have a choice.


Okay, well, that’s it.


Well, I think they’re going to try. But what I really think reading between the lines of all the tough talk with all the world central bankers what I think everybody if you look through to their actions so far, I think everybody has been holding their breath, hoping that the Fed is going to engineer a global recession so that they don’t need to be the ones to have to administer the medicine. But the problem is, and I alluded to this in a thread a couple of months ago called geopolitical mosh pits, right? We’re in this every man for himself world where everybody’s got a domestic inflation problem. And so what the Fed does needs to sorry, the United States interests need to take precedence over necessarily worrying about other central banking interests and vice versa. But the problem is that right now the US economy is still humming along whereas the rest of the world’s economies are faltering pretty badly already. Your guess is as good as mine. I just think that Lagarde’s job is really tough because there’s no panned global bond market. Really. So she’s got this ridiculous Tpi mechanism where she’s trying to hold together sovereign spreads and the ECB’s sort of bond purchases as a percentage of GDP already at like 60% compared to the Fed at like 34% compared to japan at 120%.




I’m glad you mentioned that Michael, about nation states interest because it’s one of the things I harp on, especially when I talk to younger people and they ask me about geopolitics. The first thing you have to look at is a nation’s self interest and there’s no better time than right now to prove that example and you’re seeing it firsthand. All these nations, they have to have their own self interest that are before anything else at the moment.


And that’s normal, right?


That’s healthy.


I think that it’s so silly when we have to consider other people. Of course there’s a time for that, but it’s not right now. You have to really look after your own country, whether it’s India, Germany, US, China, whatever, it doesn’t matter. You have to look after your country first. Rough.


But that’s the thing. Exactly what Albert just said and this I think makes it an even bigger ticking time bomb for Europe. You have notice absurd situation that politicians of member states of the EU, they want to continue to do populist economic policies while when they fail they can put blame on the Europe, on the ECB. So technically what probably should do before the next and out sort of a rate hike is to go out and say listen, cannot clean up the mess that you guys make in the domestic economic policies. And of course that’s not something that she’s probably going to say, but that’s really the dilemma. Data us almost have an advantage with the somewhat something that Albert is criticizing all the time, justifiably so with the kind of the chummy relationship between the Fed and the government. But at least it all happens within one state, right? It all happens within one country. And also going back to what Mike said about the federal structure. But in Europe, it’s kind of the worst of two worlds because the ECB tries to fine tune the economic problems via interest rates and the politicians that just go out and say, oh, I know you have to pay more on your loan, but here is an extra check for you.


So you could almost say it’s like the nation states are mocking in the sense what DCP is trying to do.


Yeah, Mike, you said that Lagarde has a very hard job. I actually think it’s very hard because it’s very easy. There really isn’t a lot of choice there. It’s hard having the wherewithal I guess to go through with these things that are probably going to end up being.


Pretty painful, by the way, to steal man the other side a little bit. Okay, there are some that say that okay, well the Fed, because we have all these bilateral currency swaps, the Fed is going to take care of all its friends. Right. And so we actually saw a little bit about that. I wrote a thread last year about how, when the Yen, for instance, started its first approach towards 145 ish 140 ish I got some talk from a very well placed source that basically the Fed, in conjunction with the DOJ was allowing the BOJ to essentially buy us ten years to basically kind of paint a picture to stymie the depreciation and the yen. Okay? So then we saw this big risk rally. Remember when that happened and the yen corrected back? Well, then I get a call from the same source saying, you know what my people are telling me? My people at the Fed are telling me that, you know what? They can’t hold the line anymore. They’re going to basically stop. That’s when you saw the yen go to 150. Right now we’re in this sort of everybody calls it the transitory boldilocks, where things kind of came down and you’ve got Yellen’s games with the TGA, et cetera.


But I really think, and I think I agree with everybody on on this call, that all hell is going to break loose again when the dollar starts approaching 110 again. And this time maybe there won’t be that sort of bilateral help.


Yeah, michael is absolutely right. I heard the same thing about the Fed and the BOJ on top of that.


I thought you were a source, Albert.


Right, because I talked to you about.


It a couple of times.


But they do the same thing with the Aussies and New Zealand and Canada. They give them marching orders, say, hey, we’re going to paint a picture over here, so gives us room to do something over here, so on and so forth. But like I said, that’s the Anglosphere and plus Japan. That’s why one of the things that led me to believe is like, next thing for a currency would probably be them. But they already work together as it is, whether the market knows it or not, they talk and they work together. Yeah.


I think it very often comes back to this very point that this is something that Michael’s and I said before it’s that, of course, what underwrites the dollar as the global reserve currency and the most powerful currency is because the United States have the most powerful economy. Whatever problems they have otherwise, their economy in many ways is still the most dynamic and the most innovative. And this is what I interfere about. The European situation is we can criticize politics, we can criticize the ECB, but I think we also have to criticize European industry itself. Because like in Germany with heavy industry, they never say anything. Right? They could get together and say this. You hear occasionally a voice there and occasionally a voice there, but there is no concerted actions by representatives of the industry to do something about it. And my suspicion is because they kind of made it comfortable for themselves because they know they get government subsidies, they might have to produce less, but I’d rather depend on the biggest monopoly there is. The state than on those pesky customers or those potentially unsecured international markets. But that’s a very short time perspective.


I mean, this is not something it can do forever. And again, the only reason why Europe could do what it did was because they could rely on the United States to provide with the bluewater navy to everything else. They provided the framework in which Europe could do what it did. But as this framework is changing, because Albert would never talk to me again, I’m not going to move all multipolar because you would because I don’t agree with that idea either. But it’s definitely changing, I think. I think Americans are becoming more sensitive to listen, guys, you have been pre writing for 60 years. It’s time to do something yourself.


Yeah, go ahead, Mike.


So, Ralph, you touch upon another theme that we raised in our paper, which was, again, it goes back to geography, right. Because the US has had these geographical advantages. It’s allowed its military strategy to focus outward on force projection and develop that blue water navy. Right? So when you compare that and compare and contrast that to China, right, where you could argue that they’ve got greenwater superiority within the first island chain by virtue of 350 vessels versus our 270, but the gross tonnage is one third that of the US. Navy. They cannot force project. And so if you talk about real force projection and geopolitical power right. Again, to steal man the other side, what would cause the US. To see the T hegemony? Well, it would be that scenario where China somehow decides that, hey, you know what? We are going to subsidize global maritime security for the good of the global commons. Do you see China doing that? I sure don’t.


Not for all of us to century. And it takes a lot of money to build up a navy. And then you need combat experience. And then on top of that, any kind of conflict in Taiwan or the South China Seas shuts down their ports. China cannot afford to shut down their ports. I was going back and forth with Elbridge Colby about this. He’s a military guy, and I love the guy. Right. But when you have to look at the economic aspects of it concerning the dollar and China’s food insecurity problems and their economy in general, if they invaded Taiwan and shut down those ports and their economy collapsed, she would be dead in 30 days.


There’s a little issue of China having to import 80% to 90% of its crude, all of which pretty much come through the Strait of Malacca.




I mean, so but this is this is something that it’s really important for you to talk to the military and get that USD thing out there and talk about commodities and talk about the economic ramifications and say this is a significant deterrence for China to invade. This is a significant deterrence for any nation to really go after because there’s just no money around. The economies are really weak. So it’s a great thing that you’ve done.


Thank you. I hope you guys enjoy the paper. Yeah, sorry.


Just going back to what you said, Mike, about China not having the blue water navy, really, to protect trade and waterways. They have tried that with the Belt and Road. It’s been less than a decade, but it’s kind of been a failure since the start of it.


The thing with belt and road, right? If you think about what it is, they are expending tremendous amounts of national treasure to recreate what the US. Is naturally endowed with.


Right. Yeah. It’s very inefficient.


It’s very corrupt, and they’re failing at that.


I start with those. When I was trying to put in a tendering system for the Belt and Road transparency, I asked them, how much are you comfortable losing to corruption? 20%, 30%, 50%? People just shrug shoulders. Nobody wants to even look at those basic transparency issues, much less understand that that spending is incredibly wasteful just for some sort of desperately seeking some sort of relevance with third tier countries. Right. I mean, no offense, they’re great people and all that stuff, but they are not necessarily economic powerhouses, and they’re not necessarily strategically placed. So it’s a big problem, and corruption is a big problem in those places. So not only are they going to have to buy off Chinese industry to go in these places to build, they’re going to have to buy off the officials in those countries to get the infrastructure done. Okay, guys, let’s bring this back to Europe. Since Europe is kind of our last group. Ralph, I get the sad sense that when Mike talks about dollar resurgence and Albert talk about dollar resurgence and inflation is pushed on the rest of the world and these sorts of things, europe and European industries show this as well.


Europe isn’t really a growth engine, of course. Right. So is Europe the worst place of the regions in the world generally, when we see a dollar resurgence and inflation and kind of these coming headwinds? Probably not.


I mean, I remember I asked all about this, I think almost a year ago, once on Twitter. I think that the ties between the US. And Europe are still so strong that I could imagine that the US. Would be willing to adapt their policies in a way to protect Europeans from the fallout that will find some ways to support them. Okay, I think that, again, maybe I’m putting too much hope in the US. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I think that these ties are still strong. I think this is the US. I think they still view Europe as part of the national interest. But spoke to be very clear, I’m glad of I mean, something that bothers me, really, is I think the best thing Europe could do would be to place itself as Athens to America’s wrong kind of place I can feel to the strongest player on the block. But don’t try to be as again, Albert, we’ve discussed it many times to participate in this fantasy of the new multipolar world where you will balance the US in a quasi agreement with India and China. This is all fantasy.


None of this is real. When push comes to Sharp, I think the US are still the best bet for the Europeans. But to be kind of a psychological problem in Western Europe, I think this is another thing.


Of course.


I think the Eastern Europeans, particularly Poland and others I think are much more willing to attach themselves or kind of align themselves with the US. I think Western Europe and it’s mostly cultural, psychological that they still wish to be kind of a counterweight potentially to the rude Americans and the alcohol.


We’re definitely rude. We’ll take that. Okay, guys, we’ve been an hour, so I appreciate all of the thought you put into today. For everyone watching, please don’t forget about the promo. The Friends of Tony for promo promo 1st 25 subscribers. Guys, I really appreciate your time. Time. Have a great weekend. Have a great weekend. Thank you very much.


Thank you for doing this.


Thank you.


BFM Market Watch: King Dollar Deposed For Now

This podcast was first and originally published on

The CEO of Compete Intelligence, Tony Nash, was interviewed on BFM to discuss the current state of the US markets.

The S&P fell 1.6%, the worst decline in a month, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq snapped a seven-day rally, reversing gains of more than 1%. Nash suggests that this may be due to bad economic data, specifically PPI and retail sales falling, but also notes that consumer is still strong. Nash explains that the US economy is built on services, so people may be trying to confirm their downward bias in things, and when bad news is reported, a sell-off day occurs. Nash also mentions that if PPI falls, that should mean inflation is slowing, which should mean the Fed would ease a little and slow down on rate rises.

He also mentions that markets may be spooked by all the announcements regarding job cuts, such as Microsoft announcing they plan to cut 10,000 jobs and Bank of America telling their executives to pause hiring. Nash suggests that these job cuts are small in terms of the gap that we see in the US workforce, which is still missing millions of jobs in terms of the openings versus the available people.

Nash also mentions the yen tumbled yesterday after the BOJ went against market expectations by keeping its yield curve tolerance ban unchanged. He suggests that the BOJ is managing the yield curve to suppress borrowing costs and wants to keep it below 0.5%. Nash also mentions that Japan’s central bank is getting pressure from other central banks to keep their rates low, this means that if Japan lets their rates rise, then that would have a knock-on effect around the world and cause a repricing of government debt all around the world.

Nash concludes by saying that he expects a weaker yen, but doesn’t think we would necessarily hit those lows.



This is a podcast from BFM 89.9, The Business Station. BFM 89.9. It’s 7:06, Thursday, the 19 January, and you’re listening to the Morning Run with Chong Tjen San and I’m Wong Shou Ning. And earlier on, we did ask our listeners how traffic is like and Roberto said traffic today really smooth and super low compared to just yesterday. He loves Chinese New Year in KL. And so do we. I just love Chinese New York because I like the feasting and I like the ang bao collecting.


I get the hint.


Yes, we’re all looking at you, Tjen San. But in 30 minutes, we will be speaking to Angela Hahn of Bloomberg Intelligence on the impact of China’s reopening to Markhouse gaming and hospitality sector. But in the meantime, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.


After a good run, all key US. Markets ended down yesterday. The Dow was down 1.8%, S&P 500 down 1.6%. The Nasdaq was down 1.2%. In terms of Asian markets, the Nikkei was up by 2.5%, Hang Seng up by 0.5%. The Shanghai Composite Index, it was unchanged, the Straits Times Index, it was up by 0.3%, and the FBMKLCI it was down by 0.3%.

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Why are we always again and again there’s a trend here for sure. But to tell us where international markets are heading, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Compete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Help us understand what’s happening in US markets. Because the S&P fell 1.6% is the worst decline in a month. Tech heavy Nasdaq snapped a seven-day rally, reversing gains of more than 1%. Is this just really due to bad economic data?


Yeah, we saw PPI and retail sales fall today. The weird part is consumer is still strong. The US economy is really built on services, so I think people are trying to confirm their downward bias in things. And whenever we see bad news, we see a sell off day. So I’m not necessarily sure I would read that much into it, aside from just there was really nothing else going on. So people saw some bad PPI news and they were negative. So if we see downward PPI, that should mean inflation is slowing, which should mean the Fed would ease a little. Not ease, but would slow down on rate rises a bit. So that should have been positive news for markets. So it’s just kind of a weird read of some of that data.


Do you think markets are also spooked by all these announcements with regards to job cuts? Because Microsoft says they plan to cut 10,000 jobs. Amazon of course, made announcements last week, and even Bank of America is it telling their executives to pause hiring. Not great for the mood on Wall Street?


Well, maybe, but I think those job cuts are actually kind of small in terms of the gap that we see. So the US is still missing millions of jobs in terms of the openings versus the available people so I think there’s something like 7 million jobs open. We also had a million people post COVID not come back to work. So we have a gap in the workforce, just a status quo workforce of a million people, but we have something like 7 million open positions. So when Microsoft lays off 10,000 people or Goldman lays off 4000 people, sure, it’s tragic. It’s definitely tragic for those individuals. But in terms of the overall health of the economy, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.


And Tony, the yen tumbled yesterday after the BOJ went against market expectations by keeping its yield curve tolerance ban unchanged. What possible reasons would the central bank have for keeping this status quo?


Yes, so the BOJ is managing the yield curve to suppress borrowing costs and they want to keep it below kind of 0.5%. There have been some hedge funds and some big investors who’ve been betting that they would tighten it. And the BOJ is just bigger. I mean, when they came back and they said, we’re going to hold the line at 0.5, they spent about $100 billion so far this month to defend that and they have plenty of resources to hold that. So the release issue is this is if Japan lets their interest rates rise, then Japanese, say, banks and pension funds and other investors would consider selling debt from other parts in the world and buying Japanese debt. Okay, so if Japan lets their rates rise, then that would have a knock on effect around the world and that would cause a repricing of government debt all around the world. So it’s not just the BOJ wanting to keep this for Japanese domestic reasons. They’re getting pressure from other central banks to keep their rates low.


Okay, Tony, but what does this then all mean for the yen? I mean, at its worst point, the yen was trading 150 against the US dollar. Today it’s 128. That’s a very wide range in just a few months. So what are your expectations?


It is yeah, certainly I would look for a weaker yen. I don’t know that we would necessarily hit those lows. But the BOJ has made their stance clear. The BOJ has a new head coming in in a few months. I would say they’re unlikely to dramatically change policy with a new head because they don’t want to make people nervous. So I think they’re going to aggressively defend the status quo. So I don’t necessarily think you see a yen appreciating dramatically from here. I think the bias is really toward the downside.


Okay, staying on the topic of currencies then, what’s your view on US dollar? We’re just looking at the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index this morning. It’s already down 1.5% on a year to date basis. The era of King dollar, is it over?


Well, I think not necessarily. If you’re looking at the DXY, it’s really heavy on the euro. And so we’ve seen Europe do better than many people thought through the winter because we haven’t had a cold winter there and energy prices haven’t bitten as hard as many people thought they would. So I think Europe is doing better and the Euro is doing better than many people thought. And everything in Currencies is relative. China is opening, although it’s gradually. China is opening. And so that’s good for CNY. Again, in a relative basis, I think there is downward pressure on the dollar, but I don’t necessarily think we’re over on that. I don’t think we’re heading straight down to, say, 95. I think we’re going to see some back and forth over the next couple of months as we figure out what the forward trajectory of the dollar is. And a lot of that really has to do with what direction will the Fed take in terms of their rate hikes and their quantitative tightening. And it has to do with treasury activity from the US. Treasury. How will they spend, what will they do, how will they fund the US government?


Tony, some analysts are saying that without a recovery in the Chinese economy, a global recession is all but assured. But what are your thoughts on this?


I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. I think China will do okay this year, and I think regardless, Europe will likely dip into recession this year, although fairly moderate. In the US, you see a very strong employment environment. And so employment is one of the key considerations for recession. So I don’t believe the US. Will dip into recession really on the back of employment news more than anything else. And so once we see some of these layoffs with larger companies and we get through this as, say, equity valuations stabilize, I think we’ll start to see a renormalization in the US economy as the Fed kind of takes the foot off the brake of the US economy. Of course, the Fed will continue to raise rates, but they’ll do it at a much slower pace, and that will make people much more comfortable in doing things like investing capital and so on and so forth, that will help the US to grow.


All right, thank you very much for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his outlook for the world economies and also markets in the coming weeks. I think very much the question everyone has on their mind is Fed rates. What is the terminal rate? Will they basically raise rates too much and then cause the US. Tip into a recession? But I see increasingly our guests, our commentators sounding a little bit less pessimistic, hinting that perhaps we’re going to have a soft landing rather than a hard landing.


Yeah, I think it’s really on the back of the really still strong employment in the US. I mean, he did mention there’s still 7 million jobs available in the US. And there are one million people post COVID that didn’t come back to work. And I think that really is his key point, that the US may not slip into recession, but it looks like EU will and China, it looks like they are really on track to a better recovery this year. I’ve seen some economists say that GDP growth could be like five to 6% as well.


I see that consensus figure that range is around there for China’s GDP for 2023. Now, turning our attention to corporate that released results they reported, which is Alcoa excuse me, which is aluminium company. They reported fourth quarter results earlier today, which saw losses narrow to $374,000,000. Loss per share as a result was $2.12. The loss included a 270 million charge related to tax expense. Revenue did decline 20% to $2.66 billion.


And Alcoa attributed the decline in revenue to lower prices for both Alumina and aluminium. Additionally, Alcoa will see some executive leadership changes effective February 1, including CFO William Oplinger reassignment to chief operations officer, in addition to his executive vice president role.


Okay, the street doesn’t really like this stock when you look at Bloomberg. Five buys, only seven holes, no sells. Consensus target price for the stock, $52.18. During regular market hours, the stock was already down one dollars. And now I think we need to talk about one of the world’s biggest companies, Apple. They are expanding their smart home lineup, taking on Amazon and Google. Are you surprised by this move?


Jensen not surprised at all. I think Apple is really the leader in terms of innovation, and we’ve seen it over the years, so no surprises there. So I think they’re launching some new devices. There’s a smart display tablet, there’s a HomePod. There’s a TV box and a MacBook and Mac mini using their cutting edge new processor, which is the M Two chip.


Are you going to buy any of these gadgets? You don’t even use an Apple phone. You haven’t joined a cult. You’re about the only one on the morning run. You and Philip sees that hanging on.


The iPad at home, but they’re quite old.


Okay, but will this make a dent to Apple’s earnings? Perhaps. I think they are trying to diversify their product range, because the iPhone, I think, hasn’t done as well as expected. If you look at Apple or Cost, still a darling on Wall Street. 36 buys, eight holes, two sells. Consensus target price for this to $169.24. At regular market hours, it was down seventy three cents to one hundred and thirty five dollars and twenty one cents. I, for one, will be curious as to what these products will be or how they’ll fare. Up next, of course, we’ll cover the top stories in the newspapers and portal. Stay tuned for that. BFM 89.9 you have been listening to a podcast from BFM 89.9, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the BFM app.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 03 Aug 2022: Pelosi, China, & Taiwan

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There’s all this buzz around Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. What is she doing there? Why all the stress? Why is China upset?

Also, Yellen got China to stop the stimulus. If China starts the stimulus, will that be a really good thing for Chinese equities? And what does that do for the CNY?

We also discussed the likelihood now with Pelosi’s visit that China will start stimulating. And what does that mean for oil and gas imports and Europe?

Will China try to hurt US companies that are in China? Do you think they could push against ex-pats in China and make life difficult for them? What are possible aggressive moves that China could take? Like cyberattacks?

There have been some potential whispers of China taking over some of Taiwan’s small islands to make a statement. Is that possible? And will they take it on other countries like India? What is the likelihood of China and the US in direct warfare engagement in the next twelve months?

Listen to Spotify here:

This is the 28th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:





TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash, and we’ve got a special Week Ahead right now. We’re joined by Albert Marko and Dr. Christopher Balding to talk about the Taiwan-China issues around Nancy Pelosi’s visit. 

Before we get started, I want to let you know about a special we’re having for CI Futures. We’re doing CI Futures for $50 a month. With CI Futures, we forecast about 2000 economic variables every month and about 900 market variables (currencies, commodities, equities) every week. That $50 deal is for the next couple of weeks. And you don’t even have to take a year-long commitment. For the next couple of weeks, you do it a month at a time, and it’s $50 a month. 

So let’s get onto the show, guys. Thanks again for joining. I appreciate it. 

I want to get into there’s all this buzz around Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and I want to take a step back and go, why all the stress? Why is China upset? Because I think there are a lot of loaded assumptions in the discussions that are happening. So can you guys talk us through a little bit, maybe? Chris, if you want to start, why is China so upset about this?

CB: So there’s the full history of the claim of Taiwan as Chinese territory. They refer to it as a Chinese province. That’s the general background. I’m going to assume that most of your listeners or watchers already know that.

However, if we jump ahead to this specific visit, to be honest, I’m a little bit mystified as to why this

specific visit has turned into this small crisis. Trump was sending a cabinet secretary and undersecretaries. There’s been a steady stream of Congresspeople to Taiwan. So why this specific visit? I think there’s very reasonable speculation we can go through those. But why this specific visit has turned into what it has, I think there are probably only a couple of people that could answer that question. 

TN: Okay, Albert?

AM: Well, to expand on that, I can understand why the Chinese have a little bit more drama involved in this visit simply because the economic situation in China at the moment is so dire for Xi that they need a little bit of a distraction just to get the headlines out of the way at the moment.

TN: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And when I think about this, it’s, yes, you can go back into all the history and the UNC, the 1971 and all of this stuff, but I think my view is democrats need a distraction for the midterms. You have the Afghanistan anniversary coming up, all of these things coming up. A bill was just passed that either does or doesn’t raise taxes on a lot of the population. There’s a lot of discussion around that. 

Are we in a recession? Not a recession. I think this is a convenient foreign policy issue for Democrats to grab onto before the Midterms to raise some external issues that are a little bit more mysterious for people, a little more exciting. Will there be a war? That sort of thing. 

And I think, Albert, you’re exactly right. With the November meeting coming up in Beijing, where Xi is supposed to be this golden boy and a lot more power and all this stuff, the new Mao or whatever, I think China’s economy is in a horrific state. I think the provinces and cities are not falling in line with Beijing, and I think politics in China is terrible. So I think this helps galvanize people in China, it helps galvanize people in the US. And I think it’s more of a convenient event than anything.

AM: It is a convenient event. Other issues are going on within China with the actual US.

Fed and Yellen are Yellen got them to capitulate to stop stimulus to fight inflation. So from the Chinese perspective, they’re a little bit they feel a little bit betrayed here. Seeing Nancy Pelosi

nude sunbathing on Taiwanese beaches, it’s like, what are you doing?

TN: Yellen got them to capitulate, to stop safely. So you’re saying Yellen got China to stop stimulus? 

AM: Yeah. I don’t know if it was direct or indirect, but Xi warned them to don’t stimulate while we’re trying to combat inflation. Look what happened to the Russians. And from the Chinese elite perspective, looking at the oligarchs in Russia, being completely isolated from the rest of the world, that’s just something that a pill that they didn’t want to swallow, and they were glad to hold off stimulus up until this event. Now, I don’t know, after this event, the Chinese might renege on that gentleman’s deal, but we’ll see at this point.

TN: Okay, let me pursue that in a minute because that’s interesting. So if you’re saying that the Chinese were holding back stimulus because of a quiet bargain, and they reverse on that and they start, as I’ve been expecting them to do for the last six months, just dump truckloads of cash on the squares in Chinese cities, if they start doing that, that could potentially actually be a perfect thing for Chinese equities, right? 

AM: Well, of course, but it’s negative for the US inflation and the commodities will start ripping. It’s an asymmetric shot against the US. So it’s something that they have in their toolbox and they haven’t used yet, but they certainly could after this.

TN: Okay, and so what does that do for the CNY, guys? If China starts stimulus, if it’s fiscal that appreciates CNY, at least from a textbook perspective, right? 

AM: Yeah, from the textbook perspective, sure. They control whatever they want to set the CNY at, so, I mean, I can’t see them allowing it to shoot up too far just because they are an export-dependent economy. 

TN: Okay, Chris.

CB: I just wanted to circle back to what we were talking about before jumping back to the CNY issue because this has been a real puzzle about they’ve been pretty restrained, and there are all kinds of questions as to why that is. 

And again, I wish we could provide good, solid answers about that. I think a lot of the issues, like with Taiwan and stuff like that, I think there’s like, Tony, you mentioned the economy. I think that’s distinctly possible. I think it’s also one of those issues. If you go back right after the first of the year, they changed the language about reunification and how they were going to solve that problem for the new era. 

What’s the new era? It’s Xi getting the third term. So is it possible that the economy is, like, pushing this along, egging it forward, so to speak? Yeah, I think that’s possible. I also think there’s much more like Xi has staked his credibility on, I’m making China great again, come hell or high water, if I have to drive it off a cliff to do it. That’s part of what you’re seeing.

AM: Yeah, I agree with Balding on that one. The only caveat that I would throw in there is that would be exactly the case up until the Ukraine situation where Russia got their butts handed to them. 30,000 troops lost, flagship battleship gone, sunk.

From the PLA perspective, it’s like, hey, what happens if we lose? Because it’s not a 0% chance, right? What happens if we get decimated? Our military could be set back 50 years, 100 years. And I think that at this point, it’s too much of a cost for them to take an adventure in Taiwan.

CB: Yeah. I will say you and I disagreed on this previously. Like, what were the risks? Let’s assume Ukraine had never happened. I would say there’s probably a not immaterial chance of something

happening with China and Taiwan in the next, let’s say six to 18 months.

At this point, I definitely would push that back a little bit. If something’s going to happen, I think, within the next few years. But absolutely. I think they’re going back to the drawing board because they see what’s happening to Russia in Ukraine, and they’re like, there’s absolutely no way in hell this can happen to us. 

AM: Yeah, they saw Afghanistan as a point where they could probably take some territory away from the US sphere of influence. But then again, Ukraine happened, and that threw everything through, wrenching all the plans. 

TN: Okay, so let’s talk about that a little bit. The Russia-Ukraine angle is interesting. So when sanctions were put on Russia, Russia can do okay without sanctions, not thrive, but can survive. But China is so intermingled in global trade that if sanctions are put on China, it could be very difficult for them. Right. Or what am I missing? 

AM: It could, but they’re the world’s manufacturing base, so it’s like, you put sanctions on them, they’ll put sanctions, they’ll do something asymmetric, and it’ll hurt the West more than the West can hurt China, to be honest. I mean, The US can handle it. The Europeans can’t. They’re already in dire rates. 

CB: The other thing that I would add to that is people make the sanctions argument. I don’t buy the sanctions argument for two specific reasons. One is basically what they import. The bulk of what they import from the rest of the world is raw materials. And that’s not coming from Western Europe, Japan, or other places like that.

Then the high-tech products that they do import, let’s say very high-grade chips, are going into things like iPhones and then being re-exported right away. Okay, so they’re not on an import basis highly dependent on the rest of the world. 

They’ve made two bets with that in mind. Number one is that they can convince people not to block their exports, meaning Chinese exports to their country. Number one. And then also that other countries are so dependent upon them that they can’t. Okay?

What would happen to Walmart during the Christmas season if they couldn’t buy from China? Okay.

It’s a simple example, but it does throw a monkey wrench in there. 

AM: Caterpillar is another one. The Chinese have done a marvelous job of using US agricultural companies against the US political system. So they’ve got a noose around them. Buick also. GM, Buick, Caterpillar. I can name half a dozen companies. Yeah.

TN: My main focus in terms of sanctions was food. These other things, of course, they’re importing goods, really, largely to be transformed and re-exported. Food is the main issue that I would think would be damaging to China, potentially. 

AM: Yeah, that was always one of my main points of contention about a war starting with Taiwan is those ports being shut down in the eastern part of China, it would be devastating. They would have food and security problems. The Chinese middle class has been growing. They don’t want rice anymore. They want noodles and dumplings. So they have a persistent food issue that just gets worse and worse every year.

TN: Right. Okay, so let’s go into this. I saw Pelosi kind of pull up into that. I think it was the Grand Hyatt she’s staying at in Taipei. And really, what is she doing there? Like official, non Official. What do you think she’s doing there?

AM: That’s a pure distraction from the midterms in the economy in the US at the moment. It’s an easy distraction. They know China is not going to do anything outlandish. They’re a pretty pragmatic country when everything is said and done anyway. So it’s like, what negative is there for them, for Pelosi and the Democrats at the moment?

CB: Here’s the only reason I’m going to disagree with you, and you said something very similar earlier, Tony. Here’s. The only reason I’m going to disagree with you is that this assumes a level of evil genius out of the White House and maniacal thinking that I just don’t think they’re capable of, okay? Okay. Again, I could be wrong.

AM: I just don’t see these guys as the evil genius that says, hey, we need a distraction, what can we do?

I don’t think it’s an evil genius. I think that’s a little bit too strong. The game of scapegoating and distractions in the beltway is as old as time itself. The professionals at it. They can see what they want to do to pull people’s eyes away from one issue onto another and they have the media under their grips so they can do anything. They want to distract people. So the evil genius part comes in what are, steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 after this? Because now the Chinese can retaliate and I don’t think the US is prepared for that.

TN: In what ways? 

AM: Well, I mean if the Chinese decide to start simulating next week and commodities start ripping, inflation in, the US is going to have a ten print, 10% print on CPI come October, November, then what? You’re in the smack middle of the midterms looking at 10% inflation and you’re losing 50, 60 seats in the House and you’re losing the Senate and then you have the Republican take over and start throwing out hearings against Joe Biden every week like they did Trump. It’s chaotic. 

TN: Okay, so that’s an interesting scenario. Okay, I want to ask about that and then I want to ask another question about a potential reason for visiting. But you’ve mentioned that a couple of times. So what’s the likelihood, since they’ve said that they’ll undertake serious pushback, is there a likelihood that they’ll do that? Do you put that at a 50, 60, or 70% likelihood or do you think they’ll continue to hold?

AM: I think after this visit by Nancy Pelosi, it’s a greater than 50% chance that the Chinese start stimulating a little bit earlier than scheduled with commodities ripping.

TN: Okay, so that means more oil and gas imports, more pressure on gas prices, and diesel prices. All this would hurt Europe too? 

AM: Oh, of course. Europe has got massive energy issues going forward and they’re unsolvable within six months. 

TN: Okay, so so far I’m hearing potentially bullish Chinese equities and potentially bullish commodities, particularly energy, commodities, and industrial metals, right?

AM: Oh, absolutely, yeah. Full discretion, I’m going into KWEB. I have Baba at this low with this Pelosi landing. So for me, it’s just like Chinese equities have been battered with no stimulus. We’re down to the point. Yeah.

TN: Okay, so on tech, you mentioned tech. Is it possible that with the chips act just passing in the US, this is the one that supports semiconductor companies for putting operations in the US? Is it possible that there is a message being passed to TSMC or any of the strategic industry guys in Taiwan by Pelosi and her staff? Is that a possibility? And if so, what do you think it would be? 

CB: Absolutely. I would say that that’s one of the things I don’t know if you caught this statement from the chairman of TSMC, but he gave an interview just a day or two ago and he said, “China, if you invade, like all of our plants on the island are dust, they’re worthless. There’s nothing there.” Because I can guarantee you that. I’m sure that the US Air Force would have the coordinates for every TSMC plant that it’s like, hey, we’re going to make sure that China doesn’t get them. I’m sure that TSMC, at this point, their reputation is being a pretty well-run company, very attuned to security issues. And so I’m sure that they have multiple redundancy plans and multiple security plans to address that if China is locked in. So you have to think that TSMC, all the way down to all their key suppliers and things like that, are in some type of meeting here with Nancy.

AM: Yeah. I’m not very keen on this chip sack bill. I think it’s just fireworks and stringers and ticker tape raid. But there are EPA issues to deal with when chip-making also. So no matter what, whatever they want to throw out for legislation, as long as the EPA is hampering manufacturing in the United States, manufacturing is going nowhere, at least for the next five to ten years in the United States. So this chip act, although it gives a little bit of pressure, don’t think it’s going to be that big of a driver in the next five to ten years. 

TN: Okay. I want to talk to you guys a little bit about the pushback that China may give to US companies. So China already blocked a $5 billion battery investment from a Chinese company in the US. That was just announced today, and those batteries were supposed to support Tesla and Ford, I believe. Do you think China may try to hurt US companies that are in China? Could they directly take action against, say, Tesla or GM or Ford or GE or any of the American companies that are sitting in China? Do you think they could push against, say, ex-pats in China, and US ex-pats in China and make life difficult for them? 

Because if we look, for example, at what happened in Russia, we have a lot of Western companies that have abandoned their operations in Russia over the last eight months. Right? Is it possible that American companies get pushback from the Chinese government? 

Because if I think of what the Chinese government did to Japanese companies in 2012 if you remember that. It was very aggressive. They were instigating protests against Japanese companies, Japanese expatriates, and Japanese government officials. Could they instigate that against the US? Companies? And could they push us Companies to just give up their operations in China? 

CB: Well, the only way I would rephrase that is how would that differ from normal standard operating practice? Even within the past couple of years, there’s been a massive flood of not just Americans, but all foreigners out of China. And these are everything from journalists to just basic school teachers, English teachers. Okay? So it doesn’t even matter if you’re a sensitive national or in the sensitive industry or what China deems is sensitive. 

This goes for businesses as well. You heard stories about companies saying, oh, well, I have 10 million, $50 million of profits I can repatriate. I’m going to close down my China plant and go to Vietnam. And basically what they do is they just freeze everything and said, oh, you have an unpaid tax bill, coincidentally, the same amount of money that you were going to repatriate. And so they just have to walk away from everything or sell it for one dollar or something like that. 

So when you talk about that, I think that’s entirely fair. I think that’s going to happen. I think the only people that are going to effectively remain there till the end are the Shells of the world that didn’t get out of Russia until the bombs and the missiles started flying. I think it’s going to be the same with China.

TN: Are you saying that you think some US companies will in the next, let’s say, two to three years, abandon their China operations? Do you think that’s feasible? 

CB: Oh, yeah.

TN: Okay. 

CB: I think it’s already been happening. It’s not announced. You see a couple of announcements here and there. You hear about many more talking to people that are still there. But yeah. 

TN: Albert, what do you think about that? 

AM: Yes, they will. There’ll be certain companies that they go after depending on whatever political calculations they can throw at the US, for sure, without question. They’ve done this. I mean, Christopher said they’ve done this in the past. Nothing new. 

TN: Right. So how would that start? Would they try to push aggressively to localize leadership? I know a lot of that leadership is already localized, but would they almost make it mandatory for leadership of, say, US companies to be Chinese and then kind of cascade that through? Or what would the early phases of that look like?

AM: I think the early phases would be phantom tax violations or some kind of fines or fees that just pop up out of Chinese mountains. Who knows? Do you know what I mean? So I think that’s the first thing you’d want to look at if they start doing it.

CB: Yeah. And again, what you’re talking about, I think, is basically what’s been happening for the past couple of years is whether it’s the phantom tax bill, whether it’s all senior leadership has to be Chinese or party members or all those kinds of things. I mean, when you’re asking about that in the future, it is like, well, how would that differ from the past two to three years?

TN: Right. It feels like we’re on the precipice of that. And some of us have been talking about kind of the end of the Asian century for probably the last five to eight to ten years. And China is what seems slow, but very rapid decline in terms of its ability to grow. Not the fact that it’s not already huge, but its ability to continue to accelerate growth. That’s gone. Those days are gone. Right.

And when growth stalls out, the opportunity becomes a zero-sum game. And it’s about market share. It’s about getting your piece of the pie. Not a growing pie, but a stagnant pie. And that’s when things get very difficult in authoritarian countries. Right?

CB: Well, I think to add upon that, they were following the Asian growth model of build, in simple terms, run large trade surpluses, controlled currency, build apartments. It’s a pretty tried, true path. But one of the things that are very different is if Malaysia runs a large fiscal surplus, nobody cares. If Taiwan runs a significant trade surplus, some people care, but whatever. 

For every percentage point of GDP in trade surpluses that China runs at this point when you’re the second largest economy in the world, that is a massive, massive number, not just against your economy, but against the global economy. And that’s going to create massive, massive dislocations elsewhere. 

And then the other thing is that when your only source of growth is basically building apartments, and now they’ve got like 20% to 25% of these apartments all over the country, empty and household debt that is significantly above the OECD average. It doesn’t make any sense, and this is what they’re running up against. Okay.

AM: To take that a step further, it’s like if you have low growth and your economy starts in the waiver, how do you fund a growing military to combat the United States on a global level? The math doesn’t add up. Very difficult.

TN: Okay, I want to move next on to things like cyberattacks. Chris, I know that you’re very focused on kind of the IT side of what the Chinese government is doing. Can you talk us through some of the potential, maybe aggressive moves that China could take in the wake of this?

CB: Sure. So there are all kinds of things. And one of the things, you saw today where they were looking at, they shut down the Taiwanese Prime Minister’s website. But that’s, to be honest, small potatoes. 

The type of thing that you would look at, and you’ve seen this a little bit in Ukraine is where they went after things like nuclear reactors and other things like that. So if you’re looking at this, one of the types of things that you would be looking at would be, for instance, Taiwan being an island, there’s a handful of spots where cables come ashore. So what would you be looking at? Because if you wanted to make it hard on Taiwan, that might be something that you would go after. 

If you had the capability, and they are very likely due to some capacity, you would be looking at putting bugs in the TSMC type of production capacity. So those would be the types of things to narrow it to Taiwan. But generally speaking, if you aren’t being hacked by China, that basically just renders your place in the universe irrelevant, almost, because they’ve pretty much gone after everybody.

TN: Right. Albert, what do you think? 

AM: Yeah, I mean, the Chinese are prevalent in the cyber terrorism space. They’re out there stealing trade secrets and corporate secrets all over the place, especially in the United States. And I don’t foresee that slowing down at all. If anything ramping up, and they’re good at it, and we have lacked security in the United States, and it needs to be tightened up.

TN: Right. And we intentionally, for the viewers, did not record this on Zoom. That’s an indication of some of the thoughts around there. 

Now, guys, there are some islands between Taiwan and China, and there have been some potential whispers of China taking over, say, some islands, some of Taiwan’s small islands to make a statement. Do you think that’s possible?

AM: It’s possible. I don’t understand why they would try even risking that. What if they lose a few ships?

What if they lose 1000 or 2000 troops? It’s like all of a sudden you look weak and then you’re going to be forced into a position to do something bigger. It would make no sense from my perspective.

CB: The only reason I kind of disagrees is that there’s a handful of some of these very small islands, so I doubt that they have any military hardware there. And some of them are literally, I think, as close as like 10 miles off the Chinese mainland like that. They’re just that close. And so just as a symbolic act, something like that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

AM: It won’t surprise me at all. I’m just saying anything closer to the Taiwanese actual island, I would be wary of seeing the Chinese try to take them. 

TN: I spent a week on one of those islands in 2009 waiting out of typhoon, and it was an experience, but I think it’s feasible. It’s an island off of Taidong, which is no, that’s on the southwest side. They wouldn’t do that. They would do it on the I was on the southeast side. They would do it on the southwest side or the northwest side. But there are lots of islands, very small islands off of Taiwan.

Okay, good. What else I think do we need to be thinking about here? There has been talking of the Biden administration removing trade tariffs and this sort of thing on China. Do you think that could be something that the administration aggressively goes after to kind of compensate China? Or do you think this would maybe solidify those tariffs? 

AM: I don’t think so. Honestly, I would rather see what the rhetoric is around the oil market price cap that they’ve been talking about with G7 and the China terrorists might fall into that realm in negotiations. I would want to see what China’s reaction is to the oil cap at the moment.

CB: I’d be very skeptical at this moment of some type of tariff rollback because for them to… The White House has very badly managed this entire situation where they created a situation where if she went or if she didn’t go, they were losers. They’re not looking bad. And so if they were to roll back tariffs at this point, I think they would get they would get slaughtered, even among the Democrats at this point. So I think that’s very unlikely. 

But look, Jake Sullivan is the guy that a decade ago was proposing, what do you say we walk up to China and give them back Taiwan in exchange for peace in our time? So with these guys, anything is possible.

AM: This is the worst foreign policy cabinet I have ever seen in my life. No one’s even close second at the moment. And that kind of commentary by Jake Sullivan is just unbelievable.

TN: Yeah. Okay, guys, so let me ask you kind of one final question, and you have to answer it with one of these two answers you can’t equivocate in between. Okay. The likelihood of China and the US in some sort of direct warfare engagement in the next, say, twelve months, is it closer to, say, 20% likelihood, or is it closer to 70% likelihood?

AM: 20% in my opinion. 

CB: 20%. 

TN: Oh, good. Okay, so do you think it’s greater than 20% or less than 20%?

AM: I’d say less than 20%. Okay. I would again say less than 20%,

CB: and I would say if you were to draw that out, 24, 36 months, I see it going up, probably steeper as time goes on.

TN: Okay, so that’s fair. So there’s a risk all around, right? We’ve got economic suffering globally. We’ve got inflation globally. We have whatever’s happening post-COVID trying to be figured out globally. We’ve got political uncertainty globally. So we’ve got risk and uncertainty everywhere. Adding a conflict to that mix would not be positive for anybody. 

CB: And the one thing I would say is, even though I say less than 20%, that’s not like a firmly, deeply held conviction. Because if you’re talking about risk, I would have what I would call wide error bands in a lot of these situations. Look, we talk about, like, what is Xi going to do? Xi could say, hey, America is distracted by Ukraine. They got extra troops there. They’re shipping all kinds of weapons. Now’s the time to go to Taiwan. I don’t think people do that. That’s also not crazy to speculate. Yeah,

AM: I would have to agree with that because I never thought that Putin would try to take Kyiv with so few troops, but here we are, him making a vital mistake. And sometimes leaders make bad mistakes because they have a bunch of yes men around them. Yeah. Let me ask you one very quick question.

TN: Do you think there’s a possibility that China kind of takes it out on somebody else? Do they have a dust-up maybe with India to show strength at home while avoiding it with the US? Or something like that? Do they lash out to somebody else so that they can kind of flex muscles at home? 

AM: Yeah, they could, but I mean, honestly, the Indians are not people to be trifled with, to be honest. They are itching to take on China if they show any kind of aggression. So I don’t see who they can pressure to say they’re big, bad China at the moment. I don’t even think they should be doing that. They should be figuring out their economic situation more than anything else. 

TN: Xi Jinping’s role model is Mao. And Mao ultimately was a failure and a pariah in his own country by the time he died. Right. So I don’t think Xi has the sense to understand that Mao was a pariah by the time he died. And so that’s his role model who killed 60 million people through starvation and other things. So this is a problem. We have a guy in the office in China whose role model killed 60 million people directly.

AM: Yes, I understand that, Tony. The problem is the difference is that the CCP has wealthy families now that have almost equal footing as Xi in terms of power, and they can of them if they wanted to. 

TN: Well, and that’s the reality, right? And that’s what nobody talks about. And that may be the backstop for a lot of this stuff.

CB: I’ll tell you this. The rumor mill among Chinese ex-pats, dissidents, et cetera, et cetera, are in hyperdrive this year. Look, it’s hard to know what to believe. It’s very hard to know what to believe. Okay? So I’m not about to push any theories, but there’s a lot of that discussion going around.

TN: Guys, this has been great. Thank you so much for doing this on such short notice. For anyone watching, please put comments below. We’ll take a look at them and we’ll watch them through the next week. If you have any additional thoughts, please let us know, and look forward to seeing how the next thanks a lot.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 04 Jul 2022: Metals Meltdown

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We’ve all seen many chops in the markets, especially on the energy side, with the fuel and oil shortages. That was a little bit unexpected to people. Equity markets are struggling and there are a lot of talks this week about recession and trying to move the Fed into being more accommodative, which is 180 degrees from where we were two weeks ago.

Copper is hurting and down 28% since March. What is this telling us about metals, generally, and drivers of metals demand? Is this telling us that China – the largest buyer of industrial metals – won’t really bounce back? Does the market doubt China’s stimulus announcements?

We also discussed Europe, its slowing economy, rising unemployment, and gas shortages.

Lastly, is the Fed anchoring inflation?

Key themes:

  1. Metals Meltdown
  2. How badly is Europe hurting?
  3. Fed inflation anchors
  4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 24th episode of The Week Ahead, 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:


Time Stamps

0:00 Start
1:45 Key themes for this episode
2:23 Metals meltdown – what are they telling us?
3:48 Will there be a comeback of automotive?
5:09 Does the market believe China’s promise of a stimulus?
7:25 How much is China’s manipulation be beneficial for China?
9:26 What about Japan?
12:00 Europe’s economy and inflation
15:21 Europe’s concentration risk on the sale side
19:42 Europe’s problems stem from this
20:32 Fed and anchoring inflation
25:50 What’s for the Week Ahead?

Listen to the podcast version on Spotify here:


TN: Hi everybody, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Sam Rines and Albert Marko. Tracy is out for the long holiday weekend. Before we get started, please don’t forget to like and subscribe the video and please comment on the video. We look at them, we engage. We want to hear your feedback. Also, while you’re here, we have a promo for CI Futures. This is our markets forecasting tool. Our promotion is three months free on a twelve-month subscription. That promotion ends on July 7. So please take a look at it now and get our best promo ever.

So, key theme for this week. We’ve all seen the markets a lot of chop as we talked about. We saw a lot, especially on the energy side, kind of negative with the fuel shortages and oil shortages. I think that was probably a little bit unexpected to people. Equity markets are struggling and there’s a lot of talk this week about recession and trying to move the Fed into being more accommodative, which is 180 degrees from where we were two weeks ago. So a few things we’re talking about.

First is the metals meltdown. Second, Albert Marco, although he’s been in an undisclosed location, he has been in Europe. And we’re going to talk a little bit about how badly Europe is hurting right now. And then we’re going to look at inflation and how the Fed is potentially anchoring inflation.

So first, let’s look at the metals meltdown. If we look at copper. Copper has been a lot of buzz around copper over the last few days and copper is down 28% since March. But I think we could speak to metals more broadly. We’ve got the copper chart on the screen right now. So Albert, if you don’t mind, what are metals telling us generally about markets and the drivers of demand?

AM: Well, I mean, it’s pretty clear that the manufacturing sector across multiple industries is hurting at the moment and has taken a toll in the metals market. There just simply isn’t any demand for consumer products. There’s not going to be any demand for metals probably until the Chinese really start to stimulate.

It’s pretty clear. And then on top of that, they have pressure from the dollar that just keep on charging along trajectory to 110. So those things are really weighing on the metal market. I mean, copper specifically, like you mentioned, aluminum taken some hits just across the board.

TN: Right. So if we look at things like automotive, automotive is held up because of semiconductor supply chain issues which are working out, but automotive manufacturing slowed pretty dramatically. If we see, say, the chip issues get worked out for, say, automotive, do you expect to see more like a comeback of automotive, of car manufacturing, which will pull metal prices along?

AM: No, I don’t. And I don’t think that’s even going to be the case for the next 18 to 24 months. I mean, the auto sector is actually in a really bad shape, And it’s not specifically just because of the chips, like everyone assumes, but you have rubber shortages, you have polyurethane shortages, you have shortages across the board for the entire auto sector, for the manufacturing process. So until all of those supply chain issues get settled, there’s just no hope at the moment, which is interesting because there hasn’t been really any layoffs yet.

I know they’re artificially keeping these people on payroll and doing whatever they want to do with the shifts and manipulating that. But at some point and i’ve been arguing about this specifically the auto sector, there will be layoffs because of all this.

TN: Just for the people who don’t know. Albert is from Detroit, so he pays attention to the auto sector pretty closely, and he knows he has pretty close relationships there. So we’re talking to a man who really does kind of pay attention to what’s going on. Sam, as we see metals prices fall, we’re also seeing china become more aggressive in making statements about economic stimulus and other things. Are the metals prices right now telling us that the market doesn’t believe that china is going to put in the stimulus that they claim to be?

SR: I would say it’s a show me game with China. There’s been way too many people that have been burned way too badly, listening to the rhetoric and trying to get ahead of things on the ground, and then nothing actually happens, or they do something a little different than what they said they were going to do, and you end up with an investment profile that’s completely different.

I think that’s one of the big things to keep in mind is, yes, China is probably going to have to do something into or around the party congress this fall in terms of stimulus. They have to look at going into it. So there’s going to be some stimulus. The question is, what is it and when does it hit and what does it look like? Is it a tax cut? Because in that case, who cares, right?

It’s not going to be that big of a deal for picking up the manufacturing side in a meaningful manner. Is it going to be reopening? Right. Because if they’re sending out checks but not reopening, that’s not going to allow their manufacturing sector to get back to work, which is going to Albert’s point, going to continue to clog the supply chains for autos and auto manufacturing significantly, whether you’re us. Based manufacturer or your South Korean manufacturer, et cetera.

This is a longer term problem where I think you’re not necessarily going to have the pop and metals until people actually see the real data from either Australia or the us. Or even in Mexico. But that’s a significant amount of the auto sector assembly. You’re going to actually have to see the data before people.

TN: Right. And so what I hear about metals in China and I’ve mentioned this before, but what I’m told by people, especially in the copper sector, is that the warehouses in China are actually full, although we’re told that they’re not. They are. And words that warehouses empty out from time to time is simply to manipulate the market up. But there’s ample, say, copper and other industrial metals in warehouses in China, given the demand that the world has.

AM: Let me ask you both little question here. How much is China’s manipulation of their stimulus on and off due to them trying to force the Fed into lowering the rate hikes or putting them into a position where it’s beneficial for China overall?

TN: Sam, what do you think?

SR: I would say they definitely have a calculus instead of the ECB, instead of a certain extent the BOJ when they.. they all have to take that into account and they all have to either front run or attempt to talk their markets one way or the other. That’s why I’m saying it’s definitely part of the calculus. I don’t know how much of the fiscal side is directly related to counteracting with that and how much is directly related to keeping the people happy. I would say those are the two primary catalysts.

TN: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think any Chinese stimulus that’s going to be effective in the short term has to be cash in, say, local government accounts, people’s accounts, company’s accounts. As Sam said, that tax cuts not going to cut it, indirect payments are not going to cut it. Announcing a new rail stimulus, which they do every other year, is not going to cut it. They actually have to just churn cash out in markets. But with the US dollar and rates, I think they’re really careful right now about how quickly they devalue CNY. And I think that is one of the things that they’re being careful of. They don’t want to devalue it too quickly because Chinese exports have surged over the past six weeks. And so if they can continue to make money at the rate they have, they’ll put off the DeVal as long as they have to. But if the dollar continues to appreciate, they may have to accelerate the evaluation and they’re in a tough spot. China is not the all seeing, all knowing planner that many people think, well.

AM: Part two of that would be what about Japan? Because they devalued the Yen and they’re kind of combating whatever China is trying to try and propose and stimulus. So how does that all come into the equation?

SR: And I’ll just pop out that one of the interesting pieces to kind of throw into the puzzle is not copper sending one signal that China is maybe not going to stimulate, et cetera. But you look at Chinese Equities X, the state owned entities, and guess what? You had a plus almost 7% second quarter for those equities. So the market is sniffing something out there. There might be a little bit of a hedge of, well, if you’re not going to build a bunch of stuff, you might hand out checks, like you said. And if you hand out check, it’s going to benefit the Internet and Chinese tech companies more than it’s going to benefit the metals industry.

TN: Right. And if they want to stimulate the top echelon of Chinese society, they could just goose equities and focus on a trickle down theory, which is very anticommunist, but it’s something that they can do pretty quickly. They did it in 2015, they’ve done it at other times, and they can do that. But going back to your Japan question, Albert, it’s an interesting one because China is such a supply chain risk going forward, the uncertainty there, that Japan is selling itself as a secure alternative to China. And that’s why one of the reasons why they’re devaluing so strongly is so that it’s just a no brainer to get stuff done in Japan. Right?

AM: Yeah, of course. That’s a great explanation. It’s very concise and simplistic, and I had known this, but I wanted you guys to explain this to the viewers because it’s a critical thing that most people don’t really take into account. They always see China. China. And they ignore Japan and South Korea.

TN: Yeah, Japan and South Korea have been devaluing. It’s more depreciating than devaluing. I know there’s a nerdy difference between those two, but they’ve been pushing depreciation because they wanted to be seen as a safe alternative to China. But then you also look at Southeast Asia, places like Vietnam, other places, things in Vietnam, all those exports are done in dollars, not in dong, so they can’t really play the currency card to do values.

SR: It’s also worth remembering that Japan exports a lot of machinery to China, and so if they don’t, if they strengthen their currency while China is devaluing, that puts them in there.

TN: That’s right. Great questions, Albert. Thank you for that. Okay, let’s move on to Europe. Albert, so you’ve been there. Let’s start by looking at inflation. So we’ve got on the screen right now a comparison of inflation rates in, say, the US. Europe and China. And PPI, especially in Europe, is blistering hot. It’s 40%. And CPI, of course, is accelerated as well. It’s ten plus percent, if you believe that. I think it’s higher than that. But as you’ve been there, can you walk through some of your observations of what’s happening in Europe right now and how it’s affecting companies and the way people spend and so on?

AM: Well, from the bottom up, for the general public, that’s just pure desperation. The media just doesn’t want to cover it because it’s just bad news for every single political party out there. Inflation is running rampant. Food, it’s running rampant. And every single product they have, they’re used to high gas prices to begin with, but like the United States, there’s a certain amount where the strain is just too much for families.

I believe the UK. One out of four people were skipping meals because of food inflation prices. One out of four? That’s stunning. And that will have long term health effects down the road. But we’re talking about the year now. Europe’s manufacturing sector is an absolute shambles. Their export engine into China is just nonexistent. They haven’t built out any overseas networks into Africa or other emerging markets to be able to compete. They have no military to sit there and actually push the trade issues their way. They’re secondary. Not secondary. They’re behind Russia and China in that aspect, not to Mention The United States. So, I mean, I complain about the auto sector in the United States. The manufacturing and the auto sector in Germany is absolutely dead.

TN: Okay, I want to pull that Apart a little bit. Okay, so the manufacturing in Germany is dead or dying, largely because of concentration risk in Russian gas as a feed fuel, right, for electricity.

AM: The energy prices have skyrocketed. Corporations And Private businesses are struggling to keep up with margins to cover their costs. And the governments are just like. They’re just making things worse in Germany, I believe they’re handing out money to every single person, refugee or youth person, that think that will vote for them in the future. That makes inflation worse. I can go down the list of different things that they’re doing an error, but I don’t see how Europe pulls out of this specifically in the fall and going into 2023. I mean, their gas shortages are such a problem here right now that I can’t even fathom what the problems are going to be in Germany and Italy and France going forward.

Actually, in Germany and Austria, they’re running out of wood to heat their homes because people are stockpiling that already, and this is July. So I mean, there’s going to be some serious repercussions of Europe. And this is why I targeted Europe to be a problem, possibly for financial crisis and contagion leading back into the United States. It’s just a big problem across the board.

TN: That PPI chart is just so stunning. Now we talk about concentration risk on the supply side. Let’s look at concentration risk on the sales side. Right. Europe has really over concentrated a lot of its sales requirements in China. China has been the market for a lot of European companies. Right. And outsource manufacturing. So they’re as concentrated in China or more concentrated in China than many US companies are, first of all.

AM: By far.

TN: And they’re more dependent on China as a sales market in many cases, than many US companies are, right?

AM: Yeah. This is the problem that I’ve had with Germany specifically. I want to pick on Germany because they are economic. That’s just the fact of the matter. But the Germans, they go out and they see China as a huge market, and they start pushing out their high tech trains and their windmill technology and so on and so forth. Well, the Chinese, all they did was order that stuff, buy it, piece it apart, copy it, and then they sell that to the Africans for one fourth of the cost of the Germans could possibly sell it to the Africans.

So not only is Germany losing out long term with Chinese trade in the market, because that’s stagnating, but now they have no chance to go into the African market because it’s flooded with Chinese parts.

TN: Sure.

AM: They made such critical errors for the years, and they were just so drunk on cheap money out of China that now for the next decade or two, they’re going to have problems.

TN: Yeah, but my overarching points are that Europe is over concentrated on the energy side with Russia, and they’re over concentrated on the manufacturing and then market side with China. And aside from that, they’re kind of out of bullets. They don’t have a lot. And I think that is a lot of the basis for the reason we’re seeing PPI just explode in Europe.

AM: Yes, of course. The only country that even has the only country… The French are smart. I don’t want to hear anything from the Americans be like, Oh, the French are weak and put up the white flag on the Eiffel Tower, whatever these jokes are. But the French have nuclear power and they have food security for their entire nation.

Two of the biggest problems right now in Europe, France has a grasp on. The rest of Europe is total chaos. But those two issues in France are absolutely secure, and the French are smart and they’re looking for long term gains to push the Germans out of the way and take over the EU, and that will actually end up happening. But in the near term, inflation is almost worse there than it is here. Their housing market is mainly cash based, so it’s not as bad of a bubble, but everything else.

TN: So you don’t see much let up in Europe for the rest of 22. You think it continues to be pretty dire in Europe for the rest of 22?

AM: Oh, absolutely. I think the only reason that it’s even somewhat stable at the moment is the tour season has kicked up, and then that’s created other problems where you’re going to cancel flights and overbooked hotels.

TN: Right. Sam, do you have a similar view on Europe at least for the remainder of the year? It continues to be really difficult for the remainder of the year.

SR: Oh, yeah. And the only other place that I would point out is Italy. I mean, Italy is in a pretty rough spot here too. Even with Mario Draghi at the helm, they’re still in a pretty tight spot, and part of it is natural gas and pretty tight there. But the other part is that when it took Legarde about 35 seconds of saying, we’re going to tighten up a little bit here, from negative rates to maybe zero to almost blow up the bond market in the BBB market, it was insane what was going on, and it was a very small move, and you still had yields blow out across the Italian government deck. It’s one of those situations where things move very quickly, things break very quickly, and it doesn’t have a whole lot of bullets in the site.

TN: It’s not like they can go to their version of the permian and drill again. Just to bring this back to something really basic. A lot of Europe’s problem stems from the fact that it has a very old population. So they don’t have young, productive people to keep up with the commitments to very old people in very simple sense. Does that make sense? Is that right?

AM: Oh, absolutely. Looking at just the Italian demographic, all those young Italian guys have bolted for the UK, London, and New York and Miami. They’re gone.

TN: So until they either have a lot of babies, automate, or have a lot of new immigrants, Europe continues to have the same issue?

AM: 100%.

TN: Okay, good.

SR: Demographics don’t change quickly.

TN: No, they don’t.

SR: It’s about 18 years.

TN: That’s right. Okay, so let’s move on to the Fed and inflation anchoring. Sam, you had a great piece in your newsletter, which I’ve referenced many times, and people always ask me how they get their hands on it. So it’s one of the most exclusive newsletters you can get in America. But you had a great piece on Fed Anchoring. Now, I put a chart up on five year inflation expectations. The only reason I put this up is because they really peaked back in late February. Okay? And after that, the five year inflation has really broken down a lot, almost to normal ranges. Okay. So I know you’re looking shorter term, but can you walk us through a little bit about the Fed Anchoring inflation and what you expect? Kind of the near term impact?

SR: Sure. So kind of the point of what I was trying to get across. There’s really two things that you needed anchored for markets to begin to find some footing in the US. At least. And that was you needed to have inflation expectations begin to become anchored. And I think we’ve seen that. Right. You see that chart and it peaked in March, give or take, and has fallen back towards call it normal ranges, if not slightly below what you would expect in this type of environment. That makes sense, right?

In five years, we’re not going to have this type of solution. I’ll be willing to accept that no problem unless we have another flare up somewhere. But I think that’s a fairly reasonable thing to do. But also you have to have the expectations for the Fed anchored as well, because you had two unanchorings that were really happening side by side that was highly problematic for markets.

One, you had inflation unanchoring very quickly, and that’s problematic for markets generally. But you also have the Fed expectations becoming unanchored, and the market was pushing, pushing, pushing for whatever it could get in terms of hikes. Right. It was 75-75-50-50-50. Adding an item to somewhere around four and a quarter percent at the peak. And as of today, you’re back to having the terminal rates or where the Fed raises interest rates to happen by December of this year, and it’s 3.25% 3.5%, and then it cuts next year, is the expectation.

So you’ve begun to have, call it a pricing that’s similar to 1994 hike and then cut style of Fed. That is pretty interesting. That’s a pretty anchored expectation for the Fed. It’s a reasonable expectation of the towards neutral. You’re probably somewhat towards real rates at that point being somewhat positive just because you have inflation of about 3.2 and you have a Fed funds rate a little bit above that. nThat’s why I think that’s a fairly reasonable place for it on the inflation expectations front, that’s largely specifically going to call it close in inflation expectations under a year.

Those are largely call it oil and gasolated and groceries.

TN: Very much energy.

SR: Yeah, this is US. This is not Europe. But as long as in the US, you don’t continue to have those rise in a dramatic fashion, people tend to stop extrapolating. Those forward in their inflation expectations either stabilized or declined back to what they call it normality. And that normality would be somewhere between two and a half and two so that we could spot.

TN: So if gas prices, gasoline prices in the US stopped at, say, 490 or whatever they’re selling at now as a national average, let’s say we plateaued there for three or four months, people would adjust and it would be livable?

SR: It would be livable, yeah, it would be livable. So long as the not accelerating higher.

TN: As long as what, sorry?

SR: As long as they’re not accelerating higher.

AM: Yeah, Sam is right. The risk is as long as they stabilize, I completely agree with Sam. We have one hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. We have a problem, like a real problem, looking at like $5.50 to $6 gas, and then inflation becomes absolutely just insane.

Going back to the inflation number that they printed out last time, they’re using this ridiculous 5% for housing and shelter and the CPI equation. It’s a little bit hard for me to swallow, but if they can do some kind of magic and keep inflation somewhat steady over the next few months I agree with Sam.

TN: It’s kind of a short at that point.

SR: The interesting part about that is you create an interesting duality in calling risk markets, where the US risk market looks very attractive. If you’ve peaked on Fed pricing, if you peaked on the PE killing. PEs are down 35% year over year. That’s a bigger drop than we’ve seen for several corrections.

You can have a really interesting US risk market going into the back half of the year across markets. The curve, on the other hand, that could be two spends to get very interested very quickly.

TN: Very good. Okay, good guys. What are we looking for for the week ahead? We’ve got a holiday here on Monday. We’ve started to see, say, gasoline prices perk back up in markets on Friday. Are we going to start to see potentially in the near term gas prices rise post July 4?

AM: I think so. One of the things that’s not being said, I don’t think we touched upon, I think last time we did, but the Saudis come in with lower than expected barrels per day, lower capacity, and this must have been stemmed from McCrone and Biden trying to price cap them. Come on, you do that to us, we’re going to do this to you. It’s a game at this point. And the Russians are certainly pulling strings of the Saudis and the Iranians to make this a little bit more chaotic for the US. So I think gas does go does start to trend a little bit higher over the next two weeks.

You’re certainly going to hear noise from people with July 4 prices for barbecues coming up. So that’s going to be all over the news.

TN: Okay, interesting. Sam, what are you looking for during the week ahead?

SR: To build on what Albert was talking about? I think it’s really interesting that spare capacity from OPEC just doesn’t appear to be there whatsoever. But at the same time, you’re also probably going to have at least somewhat of a call, a permanent impairment of Russian oil fields if you continue to have sanctions, that puts a floor long term in global energy prices, period. And if you don’t have US service firms keeping those fields going, we’ve seen what happens when you send Chinese and Russian oil services firms to Venezuela just before you destroy the oil industry.

So look forward to that. On the other side, I’m really looking forward to the conversations that a bunch of millennials have to have with their parents, the crypto markets this July 4.

TN: You are a millennial.

SR: But I am looking forward to some glorious Twitter cons that Tuesday.

TN: Fantastic. Okay, guys, thanks very much. Have a great holiday weekend and have a great weekend.

AM: Thanks, Tony.

SR: Thanks, Tony.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 25 Apr 2022

Subscribe to CI Futures special promo here: Only until April 30th.

Fed Chairman Powell was out this week all but assuring a 50bp hike in May, also implying we may see a burst of quick hikes. Then everyone who said “it’s all priced in” two weeks ago panicked on Thursday and Friday. Mike Green shares what’s new here and why are we seeing the reactions now?

We’ve spoken before about Q2 earnings, expecting them to generally be weaker, partly on inflation, which every company is blaming for shortfalls.

– Snapchat missed earnings but it reported 64% revenue growth, with daily active users up 20%.

– Netflix lost subscribers. They’re now the tech cautionary tale.

– FB is falling in anticipation of an earnings shortfall next week.

– Tesla reported a 42% earnings surprise and they’re about even on week

We keep hearing about commodities getting smoked this week. What happened this week and what should we be thinking about right now? We’ve got a bunch of housing metrics out on Tuesday (Case-Shiller, etc). Do the guys expect to see an impact on house prices already or will it take a couple of months/another rate rise to have a noticeable impact?

Key themes from last week:

1. Powell’s Wrecking Ball (Dollar Wrecking Ball)

2. Tech Earnings

3. Commodities getting smoked?

Key themes for the Week Ahead

1. Housing

2. France election

3. Geopolitical lightning round

This is the 15th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:




Listen to the podcast on Spotify:


TN: Hi and welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. Today we’re with Albert Marko and Mike Green. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thanks for doing that. I also want to let you know our CI Futures promo ends on April 30th. This is CI Futures, about 3000 assets forecast every month for $50 a month. That promo will end on April 30th. So if you’re interested, please go to and check it out.

So this week we’ve got some key things from the past week. First of all, Powell’s wrecking ball and rate rises and the dollar wrecking ball that comes with that very important item. Tech earnings. We’ve seen a collapse in tech equities over the past couple of days. Not a collapse, but some really interesting activity. We’re going to talk through that. And then commodities. We’ve seen commodities, heard some people say commodities are getting smoked late this week. So let’s talk through that.

So Mike, first let’s look at Fed Chair Powell is out this week, all but assuring a 50 basis point hike in May. And a lot of people think it may be stronger for a longer period of time, maybe June and July even. I hear a lot of people saying a few weeks ago, it’s all been priced in yet we’ve seen kind of some panicking markets on Thursday and Friday. So we’ve got the 10-year on screen right now. So what is new here from your perspective and why are we seeing the reactions now?

MG: So the point that I would argue on this is that we’re in a feedback loop effectively where the market tries to price the Fed’s indications the Fed is in turn responding to the market. And so it’s leading to a dynamic where the Fed is saying, well, look how interest rates are rising, particularly at the back end. Clearly, we’re behind the curve. Therefore, we need to hike more and we need to convey to the market that we’re going to hike more. The market mechanically has to respond to that because you just can’t ignore it. Right.

You have to effectively think of it in a binomial tree type framework. The Fed has told you they’re going to hike more aggressively. Therefore, you need to shift the whole system up. Right. And that feedback loop, I would argue, is what we’re kind of captured in right now. And it’s part of the reason why the market is forced to respond to it in a risk off fashion, et cetera. We just don’t know if the Fed really actually knows what the underlying signal is and how much of it is us and how much of it is their insights onto the economy.

The second thing that I would just highlight is that the Fed has put themselves into the very uncomfortable position of last year, arguing that inflation was transitory. And this has been one of these really frustrating things for those of us that actually agreed with them that it is largely transitory in inflation rate. Right. So the rate of inflation is transitory, but the price level, I don’t expect oil to go back to negative $37 a barrel. That would be absurd. Right, right. So when you talk about the transitory dynamic, it’s typically thought of as the rate. But I think the perception had broadly been the prices themselves were going to somehow come back down and not adjust to the realities of accommodating the difference.

So I think that is sitting at kind of the core of the issue is that the Fed is now in the same way they were trapped in that transitory framework that people began to increasingly malign and make fun of. Now they feel this overwhelming need to come out and tighten and show that they’re actually serious about inflation and reestablish credibility, even as it’s very clear that the economy is starting to slow. And they’re then forced into the mantra of now saying, well, we see no signs of the economy slowing. And so they’re going to have to maintain that for a period of time or they sound like fickle policymakers.

TN: Right.

MG: I think the market is understandably concerned and scared at how far they’re going to have to go to prove to us that they’re really serious.

TN: Right. And Yellen was out saying there will be no recession this year, which I mean, I hope she’s right.

MG: There’s a recession. Yeah.

TN: Exactly. So I was roasting coffee yesterday, and my coffee guy was telling me that coffee prices will stay elevated because of the buying cycle from the farms and so up and down the commodity supply chain, across, it seems, across metals, across crude, across ags. That timing has a real impact on the change in levels. The rate may not change much from here, but it seems like the level will remain elevated, as you’re saying.

MG: I think that’s right. And again, that’s why the transitory, I think, was so toxic and confusing to people because they were thinking, oh, we’re going back to $1.75 gasoline as compared to the $6 in chains that we’re currently paying in California. Right?

TN: Right.

MG: That’s very hard to accomplish under the current framework. And the coffee example is a really good one. It’s not so much the level. The adjustment to the level is painful. Once that level has been reached, all sorts of changes in relative purchasing activity can occur. Right. You can decide you’re going to roast your own beans because it’s cheaper than somebody else’s beans. You can decide that you’re not going to go to Starbucks, you’re going to do your coffee at home and put it into a travel mug to save money.

Whereas the Wall Street Journal highlighted you can reduce your consumption of beef and chicken and increase your consumption of lentils. And yet another example that just pisses people off because it feels completely disconnected from the reality that they’re in. But those are all true statements, right. Those are adjustments that people make once the level settles down. Where the real problem occurs is the uncertainty about the level.

Is it going to be 20% higher next year? Is going to be 20% lower next year? That makes it very hard for me to plan. And that’s really what we’ve experienced. And now what your feedback, what your contacts are telling you is no, prices are going to stabilize at a higher level because that’s what’s required to induce the supply response.

TN: Right.

MG: Okay. It sucks. Coffee is more expensive now, but at least it will be in the stores.

TN: Right. So going down the path of, say, your Wall Street Journal saying you need to eat lentils instead of beef. With interest rates rising, it seems like consumers would utilize more credit during that adjustment period. With rates rising, it seems like it would make things much more difficult. So there’s a double whammy on consumers. Are we seeing that impact right now?

MG: I don’t think we’re yet at the point that the higher interest rates are feeding through in a way that matters. Right. So the vast majority, something like 95% of outstanding mortgages are no longer adjustable rate. They’re fixed rate. And so that is going to be very slow to adjust. We’ll see that the marginal purchasing behavior. And we are absolutely seeing that. We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in refinancing and purchase applications. We’re starting to see traffic deteriorate. We’re starting to see new orders roll over. We’re starting to see consumer spending intentions begin to plummet.

And there’s two reasons why people can use credit cards. Right. You can use credit cards to smooth over effectively saying, hey, guess what? I’m getting paid my bonus next week. Therefore, I’m going to make the purchase now and I’m going to repay it. Or you can see people start to tap credit because they are so strained that they can’t do anything else.

And unfortunately, the evidence that I’m seeing suggests it’s the latter, that it’s the lower income households who are now taking advantage of high cost financing choices in order to sustain a level of consumption that they’re having difficulty retreating from.

If your rent goes up and you don’t want to be homeless and their coffee prices have gone up, at some point, you need to expand your purchasing capacity. And that means using credit.

TN: In basic terms, what we’ve been talking about on this show is demand destruction. The Fed is aimed at demand destruction. And that means that demand curve actually moves in, right?

MG: Yeah.

TN: So people are going to have to rein in their behaviors because we’re likely at new pricing levels for many things. And so that consumption is going to have to decline a bit to adjust to the new environment. Albert, you had a comment?

AM: Yeah, two comments, actually. The thing about the demand destruction and the supply, from the Fed’s point of view, they think that getting rid of demand involves eliminating supply. Right. So that a little bit has to do with the rates, but also what Mike said about doom loop. I mean, that’s very interesting because that’s exactly what we were talking about in multiple areas, not just for bonds, but Yellen herself, she’s had her minions go out in the bond market and just straight up lie to bondholders, saying, oh, they’ll recover, they’ll recover while everyone keeps buying, and they just keep butchering the long bond.

The 30 years just been 3.1 today or 3.5. It’s crazy. She did this in 2013 where she had this little ploy where she has preventing capital flight, leaving the United States in order to prop up the US equity markets. And that’s what we’re seeing today. And this doom loop between the Fed and the treasury, because they’re not on the same page. They’ve got different policies, different ideas of how to keep the market, and it’s causing problems.

MG: I would actually add to that and just highlight that this is, of course, the downside to not having people who actually have ever traded or negotiated a swap or done anything else along those lines in positions of decision making. You don’t want to put a fox in charge of the hen house. But the reality is it is somewhat useful in terms of understanding what’s actually transpiring. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Janet Yellen says something along the lines of, well, there’s no sign of a recession because they’re working very first order, first derivative type dynamics. It’s that second and even potentially third derivative that ultimately conveys the dynamics of what’s really happening.

And the second part is that the Fed operates under a model in which negative real interest rates, which is basically a function of inflation expectations and the current level of yield. Some people roughly approximate it with trailing inflation and current yield, which is completely insane. But at least if you’re doing it in a structural fashion, they tend to presume that the only reason why markets move is due to information.

The market has some insight, and this has been one of the huge policy innovations. And I use “innovations” over the last 20 years has been this dynamic of, okay, well, if we’re trying to figure out market expectations, let’s use market inputs. But those market inputs in turn respond to the policy makers. Right?

TN: Right.

MG: And there’s all sorts of structural features to markets. If I happen to short a pay or swap shop, for example, and my risk manager is forcing me to cover that risk, it has no economic signal to it. It’s simply a market feature that they are then trying to interpret as indicative of underlying demand. That’s just wrong.

TN: Right.

AM: On top of that, you have a political component where Yellen tied to a certain party or not just Yellen but others tied to a certain party are going to do things beneficial to that party.

I know economists and financial guys don’t like to hear that, but that’s just the reality of it.

TN: That’s the reality of national accounts. We also mentioned the dollar wrecking ball. We’ve seen over the past week, Yen devaluation or Yen depreciation. We’ve seen CNY devaluation. CNY has gone from, I think, 6.34 to 6.49, which is a dramatic deval of CNY. How much of an impact does the dollar have on those markets, particularly because we’ve heard about the dollar losing influence for the past, I don’t know, 50 years. But talk to us, Albert, what’s going on there?

AM: Like I said, Yellen wants to restrict capital flight, and a strong dollar does that. It’s killing the emerging markets. They gave Japan the go ahead to devalue the yen in order to offset anything that China does asymmetrically against the United States, because they have been. They’ve been in a little bit of a tit for tat for quite some time now.

So the dollar at 110 just absolutely annihilates emerging markets, except for the markets that are commodity based, like Canada. I’ve been in Canada. I love the Canadian economy right now. It’s strong oil based, gold based. So that’s where I’m coming from on the dollar right now.

TN: Great. Okay.

MG: I would just broadly highlight but by the way, I don’t know if you saw the CNY today, but it moved huge again today. So it’s actually now 6.50. Well, fantastic in the same way that like a root canal is fantastic. Right. But yes, it’s a wonderful technology. Nobody wants to experience it.

But just to put this in context, this is a move now that is equivalent in terms of devaluation of what we saw in August of 2015, in terms of the much-heralded… Right. And I would just highlight that I think this is an important move. I think it’s telling you that there’s all sorts of stuff that’s going on. I tend to fall into the category of terms of trade dynamics, more so than interest rates or even anything, those dynamics.

Japan allowing its currency depreciate, leading to depreciation for the Chinese currency or contributing to depreciation for the Chinese currency. They want a competitive in global export markets. Right. So there’s an element of China needing to respond and maintaining competitiveness versus a significant devaluation that’s occurred in the Japanese yen, which is basically, if you think about it from an American perspective, means I can buy 30% more of what a Japanese worker produces today than I could a year ago. Not quite exactly. Right. But somewhere in that range.

The second part of it, though, is that the terms of trade have just turned so ugly for these countries where the things that they need to import, they have incredible food insecurity, they have incredible energy insecurity, and those are the things that are rising in price. And we’re seeing no signs that those are going to retreat, whether it’s LNG that Japan now has to compete with China in Europe or from the United States and elsewhere or whether it’s wheat or rice or corn.

I believe, Albert you may know this better than I do but I believe Malaysia just announced export restrictions on palm oil, worried about their own food security. This is the way the system breaks down. And the irony of course is the US, are we going to get unlimited palm oil imports? Of course not. But can we use soybean oil or canola oil in lieu of palm oil for frying our Twinkies and our food? Of course. Right. We can do that. The US can survive almost anything from a food or energy shortage standpoint. It’s the rest of the world.

Albert referenced the emerging markets. I mean man, if you are a cash crop producing emerging market that is now struggling with issues around food and energy security, this is going to get bad. It’s really bad.

AM: It’s really bad. It’s causing political uncertainty in many regions of the world. And again use the phrase doom loop because politicians over Covid policies have created a doom loop in trade.

TN: But let me ask you and we need to wrap up this topic but I want to take this full circle because it’s fascinating. With the currency devaluation depreciation in China, Japan and the food issues could that potentially push, say, North Asia to put more pressure on Russia to wrap up the conflict so that the commodities out of Russia and Ukraine can alleviate some of this price pressure on emerging markets. Is that a possibility?

AM: It’s a possibility, but I think it’s a small possibility. Things have changed because of the Ukrainians sinking that battleship. They got bears at that point.

But Interestingly though, now that you mentioned, I just thought of it. Japan and China have always competed for the fishing rights and then sea Japan. So you could see a future. Want to say naval skirmish but a couple of boats taking some live firearounds.

TN: Sure. Yeah. Or a mistake. Right. You could have a mistake that results in something like that. Okay, let’s move on to tech. I think we can talk about this issue for hours.

AM: Yeah.

TN: Let’s move on to tech. Robert, we’ve spoken about key to earnings for a while, expecting them generally weaker, partly on inflation and other pressures. But this week we saw Snapchat miss earnings, but they reported 64% revenue growth and their active users were up 20%. So their business seems to be going well. Netflix lost subscribers and we saw them kind of as the tech cautionary tale. Facebook is falling in anticipation of their earnings for next week. On the bright side, Tesla saw a 42% earnings surprise, but their stock, after moving up a bit, really hasn’t moved much.

So on screen, we’ve got Facebook and Snapchat kind of showing their downward trajectory over the past month. So can you talk us through kind of what’s happening with tech earnings? Is that a rotation? Is tech really out of gas? What’s going on there?

AM: I believe tech is out of gas. A lot of it has to do with inflation and rates and whatnot. But I think tech earnings had gone into the stratosphere when Covid was just blazing because of the lockdown. People stayed at home, got on Snapchat, got on Facebook, got on Google and whatnot. Right.

The Tesla earnings. Those are a joke. It sounded like Tesla is the most efficient automaker in the world, which is absolutely a joke when they’re making cars intense. And it took the market up like 70 points. And then as soon as some of the better analysts started digging through the information, immediately sold off again. And then that actually triggered, I think that triggered the market to sell-off a little bit because people are worried about tech earning. I think Google’s going to miss big because their brick and mortar advertising scheme is hurting. Last month and this month it doesn’t look pretty.

But I want to take some caution here because everyone’s going to get beared up on these tech earnings as everyone’s seen the Huawei, big puts coming out there and whatnot. But we’ve seen time and again these tech earnings missed on revenue. And then the guidance is fantastic and the market rips 200 points in a week. I don’t want to be short tech at this level right now.

TN: Right. Mike, what are your thoughts?

MG: The obvious component is that we’ve got extraordinarily difficult compares for most of the tech companies. Right. So you go into a pandemic and every kid needs a computer, every kid needs a cell phone, every kid needs that. And I’m speaking to you over a microphone that was purchased during the pandemic and a computer that was purchased during the pandemic and a video camera that was purchased during the pandemic. Right. And I upgraded my software and my kids got new phones and all this sort of stuff that all occurred. Well, guess what? It’s not happening now. That’s harder.

And when I think about the reinvestment that needs to occur as we talk about going back into the office and into work, et cetera, it’s much less on the soft side. It’s much more on the simple dynamics of how do we restock a pantry at a company cafeteria. Right. Which hasn’t had to happen for a while.

TN: Right.

MG: So I am generally skeptical of it. I’m particularly concerned about the consumer side of it. One of my friends many years ago had highlighted that the emergence of cell phones as a consumer good had by and large, replace lots of other types of spending. So it reduced clothes, reduced spending on everything else. People are now tapped out on buying those phones. Right? They’re out of money and they’re using their credit in one form or another. So I’m skeptical on particularly Apple.

I agree with Albert, by the way, on Google. I think people are underestimating the importance of the bricks and mortar, and they’re also underestimating. I think this is one of the challenges for the Netflix. I’ll be 100% straight with you in terms of my household’s reaction to it. I mentioned it to my wife. She’s like, well, we’re obviously switching to the advertising supported model as soon as that becomes available because, candidly, I don’t even like watching Netflix to begin with. I could care less. If I have to watch ads and get it for $10 as compared to $20, then I would argue that this is happening broadly.

As we move back to an advertising supported model, the inventory of advertising space is about to explode at the exact same time that demand is relatively weak. So who thinks we’re going to get premium prices for advertising anymore? These models are screwy in terms of how badly they could deteriorate. If you simultaneously have a boom in advertising space at the exact same time that demand is relatively short.

TN: But lucky us, we get more campaign ads until November.

Okay, great, guys. Moving on to commodities. We saw commodities pretty much get smoked in the last half of this week. We’ve got one month history of WTI and copper up on the screen. So what happened this week, and what should we be thinking about right now with respect to commodities?

AM: I think that in terms of commodities, I think the biggest component right now is to see what happens in the Ukraine war, whether Russia stops because the Europeans and the Biden administration is using that as like the Putin price hike and whatever. But that’s what they’re blaming it all on. And a lot of people are worried about this being an extended war. I don’t think it’s going to last more than another month or two.

But for commodities, especially wheat and fertilizer, the moment that Ukraine comes back online, those things are just nosedived. And the Fed wants that to nose dive because they’re trying to kill supply in order to tackle inflation. So that’s from my perspective, there.

TN: So a lot of this at this point, you think depends on Russia, Ukraine.

AM: Yeah. That and the dollar. That and the dollar. So the dollar goes up, prices will come down.

TN: Okay. So appreciated dollar, did that hurt commodity prices this week?

AM: I think so. Go ahead, Michael.

MG: Yeah. So they’re not quite inverse. But remember, when we see prices, we’re seeing our prices, we’re not seeing the rest of the world’s prices. And exactly to the point that we were raising before with Japan and everything else on a year to day basis, as much as you may think, oil prices are up in the United States, they’re up maybe 50% in the United States. They’re up 100% if you’re in Japan. Oil prices 100% on a year to day basis.

AM: Wow. Right.

MG: I mean, that’s just an extraordinary outcome. You’re looking at these kind of underlying characteristics, and you have to say to yourself, the rest of the world is going to start to experience significant declines in aggregate demand.

Forget the supply component that Albert is highlighting. Focus much more on the demand. And when we think about commodities, developed world demand is extraordinarily efficient. We don’t throw copper on the ground. We don’t discard it into landfills. We recycle copper. Right. We recycle aluminum. We clean up the sludge off of our factory floors. That doesn’t happen in most places around the world. Right. Scrap found out in the open is still a significant fraction of aggregate supply. So we just use it more efficiently.

As things shift back here, we’re going to become more efficient at it. And I got a lot of heat earlier this week for posting a chart that said, look, I’m not seeing this commodity super cycle. I’ll say I’m not seeing this commodity super cycle. I don’t see the underlying outward shift in aggregate demand in almost any commodity that says we’re going to have truly sustained high levels of inflation and need for significant additional production other than effectively the disaggregating of supply chains. And you’ll hear things like huge copper demand because of electric vehicles. Right. That is selling human innovation so short, it’s just ridiculous.

If copper prices go higher, we’ll figure out how to use less copper wiring. That’s the history of the world.

TN: Right.

AM: That’s absolutely correct. That’s when they started using, like, gold flakes and sprays and different types of adhesive made out of whatever.

TN: But it generally takes a big demographic change to enter a commodity super-cycle or some sort of supply cut-off, right?

AM: Yeah. I can see a super-cycle within one or two commodities peaking and then coming back down and another one peaking and coming back down. But this insane super cycle that people were expecting, I don’t think it can happen. I agree with Mike.

TN: Okay, great. Let’s switch gears and look at the week ahead. Guys, we talked a little bit about housing, but we’ve got a bunch of housing metrics coming out next week with Case Shiller and a few other things. Because of rate rises, do you guys expect to see a near term impact on house prices? Are we kind of in a wait and see mode? What do you think is happening there.

AM: Politically? The Democrats want housing to come down. Right. And I think some of this bond action is meant to do that to be honest with you. I think they want houses down in the 30 year up. These prices, these housing prices are insane. It just stuns me to see some of these homes going for 150% of what they were two years ago.

And at some point the buyers are going to dry up. I mean, these cash buyers are going to dry up. And the credit now, I think in Tampa, it’s like over 6% for a 30-year mortgage. It’s going to make it even more unaffordable.

TN: But how much does that have to do with housing supply? Are we seeing more supplies coming on the market?

MG: Well, we are seeing more supply of new homes because the delays in completion means that homes that were ordered 18 months ago are finally starting to show up on the market. And that’s been one of the challenges. Unlike what we saw in 2005, 2006. This is not a function of massive amounts of new housing being built in areas that previously did not have housing.

So the character of 2004, 5, 6 was effectively converting farms and semi rural environments into subdivisions of endless numbers of homes that look identical so that people could have a home and then drive an hour to their work or an hour and a half. I mean, that was just crazy.And that was killed by the spike in oil prices that occurred with Hurricane Katrina and Ivan.

This time around, you just have a shortage of supply in terms of people willing to move. And unfortunately, the increase in interest rates, paradoxically, can exacerbate that. Right. Because I don’t want to leave my house and buy a new house because I have to enter into a new mortgage. Right. Of the mortgage. So, perversely, this could end up preventing supply from coming onto the market because when I go to look to replace my home, I can’t do it. And so it’s not clear to me that prices are going to take the hit that people are looking for.

I think at the low end, you’ll see certainly some pressure on new homes. You’ll see some pressure. But perversely, that just exacerbates the problem. Right. If new homes get hit more than existing homes, guess what? We’ll get less new homes.

TN: Okay, great. So far, it’s a very positive show, which is fantastic. End of a rough week into a rough show.

Let’s talk a minute about the French election, guys. It’s next week, what do you expect to happen in markets, say, with the Euro and French equities.

AM: Yeah, actually, we ended up buying the Euro today, looking for Macron to win reelection. Everyone that sees my Twitter feed knows I’m a conservative. Le Pen is a disaster for France, for Europe, transatlantic relations with the United States. She just can’t win and she won’t win. But the thing is, a lot of people think that she’s going to win.

So I think the Euro is going to probably pop half percent, maybe even percent, come Sunday into Monday. And then the dollar might actually come down and the market might actually rally a little bit crazy.

MG: I’m certainly sympathetic to that. I mean, the degree of sell off that we have seen, everything ranging from the yen to the Euro, et cetera, it’s hard to sustain this type of momentum. Ultimately, I’m exceptionally bearish on Europe. I’m exceptionally bearish on Japan for reasons that are largely unrelated to the immediacy of it.

I agree with Albert, and I actually would highlight something that he said that is really important for people to understand. When you describe yourself as a conservative, most people would say, okay, Marine Le Pen is a conservative. Right. Because she represents anti immigration and she represents behave more like French people. Right. But the reality is conservatism is all about let’s not break the system and try to replace it with some utopian vision. Right. Let’s try to work within the existing system to make it better.

When you enter into periods of uncertainty like what we’re experiencing, there’s a reason why the incumbent almost always wins, because people don’t want radical change in their lives. It makes it far more difficult. And so I just am not seeing any evidence that Le Pen has the chance that she’s claimed to and not that I want to join Albert on the potential tinfoil hat conspiracy standpoint, but I agree with them. I don’t think she’d be allowed to win.

TN: Okay, interesting. So a little bit of stability in Europe, which is great.

Guys, let’s have a quick geopolitical lightning round. I know there’s a lot going on in Russia, China, Ukraine, elsewhere. What’s on your mind, Albert, when you talk to your politics, what are you talking about the most?

AM: Honestly, China. The civil unrest in Shanghai, that’s actually looking like it’s spreading is kind of really concerning. For years, Xi’s been holed up in bunkers and can’t go.

You know, China, Tony. I mean, you have 1.3 billion people mad at you. You just don’t go out. Xi has this problem at the moment. So for me, it’s the civil unrest in Shanghai spreading to Guangdong and even outwards.

MG: Wait a second. So XI has 1.3 billion people mad at him? Did he say something against Bitcoin? Sorry.

AM: That would be 2.3 billion people because all of India is there too.

MG: 1.4 billion people. But yeah, exactly. You get really mad about that, as I’ve discovered.

Now, listen, I completely agree with Albert that, and this is again, part of the great irony of everything that’s been going on and I’m somewhat guilty of this myself looking at the dynamics of Russia and the moves that they were making and I think both Albert and I would still come to the conclusion says they’re going to take Ukraine and they’re going to take it in a much more violent fashion because now they’re really pissed.

TN: Yes.

MG: But the simple reality is that I think most people had described a degree of competence to Putin and Russia that has now become very clear that the authoritarian and central planning tendencies associated with that style of governance has its flaws. People are slowly waking up to this.

They’re now beginning to see this in China where it’s like well, wait a second. Maybe Xi’s not planning for the next 100 years. Maybe XI’s planning for the next two days to figure out where… without getting killed.

TN: That’s exactly it, Mike and I’ve been saying that to people for years. China does not think in centuries these guys are making it up as they go along. I’ve been inside the bureaucracy. I know it. They’re making it up as they go along.

So you hit it right on the head. They’re planning for the next two days or two months. They’re not planning for the next 200 years.

AM: Yeah. And the Chinese, they’re quite practical but it’s just too big of a country. I mean, there’s so many different regions and dialect. How do you keep something that big cohesive manner? You don’t.

TN: It’s hard. It’s a collection. It’s like the EU or four of the EU. But it’s very complex for one guy to manage. So guys, thanks very much for that. I really appreciate it and have a great weekend. Thank you very much.

AM: All right. Thanks, Tony.

MG: Thank you very much.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 28 Mar 2022


We’ve seen so much about oil for rubles, gas for bitcoin, etc this week. Does it represent a fundamental shift for energy markets? And is the dollar dead? The yen fell pretty hard versus the dollar this week. Why is that happening, especially if the dollar is dead?  Bonds spike pretty hard this week, especially the 5-year. What’s going on there and what does it mean?

Key themes from last week:

  1. Oil for rubles (death of the Dollar?)
  2. Rapidly depreciating JPY
  3. Hawkish Fed and the soaring 5-year

Key themes for The Week Ahead:

  1. New stimulus coming to help pay for energy. Inflationary?
  2. How hawkish can the Fed go?
  3. What’s ahead for equity markets?

This is the 12th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week. 

Listen on Spotify:

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Time Stamps

0:00 Start
0:34 CI Futures
1:22 Key themes this week
1:48 Oil for rubles (death of the Dollar?)
3:15 Acceptance of cryptocurrency?
5:34 Petrodollar Petroyuan?
7:32 Rapidly depreciating JPY
10:12 Hawkish Fed and the soaring 5-year
11:58 Housing is done?
13:10 Stimulus for energy
15:53 How hawkish can the Fed go?
17:34 What’s ahead for equity markets?


TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. I’m here with Albert Marko, Sam Rines, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, please, if you can like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, we would really appreciate it.

Also, before we get started, I want to talk a little bit about Complete Intelligence. Complete Intelligence, automates budgeting processes and improves forecasting results for companies globally. CI Futures is our market data and forecast platform. CI Futures forecasts approximately 900 assets across commodities, currencies and equity indices, and a couple of thousand economic variables for the top 50 economies. CI Futures tracks forecast error for accountable performance. Users can see exactly how CI Futures have performed historically with one and three month forward intervals. We’re now offering a special promotion of CI Futures for $50 a month. You can find out more at

Okay, this week we had a couple of key themes. The first is oil for rubles and somewhat cynically, the death of the dollar. Next is the rapidly depreciating Japanese yen, which is somewhat related to the first. But it’s a big, big story, at least in Asia. We also have the hawkish Fed and the soaring five-year bond. So let’s just jump right into it. Tracy, we’ve seen so much about oil for rubles and Bitcoin and other things over the past week. Can you walk us through it? And is this a fundamental shift in energy markets? Is it desperation on Russia’s behalf? Is the dollar dead? Can you just walk us through those?

TS: All right, so no, the dollar is not dead. First, what people have to realize is that there’s a difference. Oil is still priced in USD. It doesn’t matter the currency that you choose to trade in because you see, in markets, local markets trade gasoline in all currencies. Different partners have traded oil in different currencies. But what it comes down to is it doesn’t matter because oil is still priced in dollars. And even if you trade it in, say, the ruble or the yuan, those are all pegged to the dollar. Right. And so you have to take dollar pricing, transfer it to that currency. And so it really doesn’t matter.

And the currency is used to price oil needs three main factors, liquidity, relative stability, and global acceptability. And right now, USD is the only one that possesses all three characteristics.

TN: Okay, so two different questions here. One is on the acceptance of cryptocurrency. Okay. I think they specifically said Bitcoin. Is that real? Is that happening? And second, if that is happening and maybe, Albert, you can comment on this a little bit, too. Is that simply a way to get the PLA in China to spend their cryptocurrency to fuel their army for cheap? Is that possibly what’s happening there?

TS: It could be. Russia came out and said, we’ll accept Bitcoin from friendly countries. Mostly, they were referring to Hungary and to China. Right. And I don’t think that is a replacement for USD no matter what because not every country except for perhaps China really accepts or El Salvador really accepts Bitcoin or would actually trade in Bitcoin. Right.

TN: In Venezuela, by the way. I think. Right. So on a sovereign basis. Okay. So Sam and Albert, do you guys have anything on there in terms of Bitcoin traded for energy? Do you have any observations there?

AM: No, this is a little bit of… This is even a serious conversation they’re having? With El Salvador going to be like the global hub for Russian oil now because they can use Bitcoin?

TN: That would be really interesting.

AM: But this is just silly talk. Every time there’s some kind of problem geopolitically and they start talking about gold for oil or wine or whatever you want to throw out, they start talking about the US dollar dying and whatnot.

I mean, like Tracy, I don’t want to reiterate what Tracy said, but her three points were correct. On top of that, we’re the only global superpower.

TN: Okay.

AM: That’s it.

SR: Yeah. My two cent is whatever on Bitcoin for a while.

TN: Right.

SR: Cool.

TN: I think that all makes sense now since we’re here because we’re already here because we all hear about the death of the petrodollar and the rise of the petroyuan and all this stuff. So can we go there a little bit? Does this mean that the petrodollar is dead? I know that what you said earlier is all oil is priced in dollars. So that would seem to be at odds with the death of the petrodollar.

AM: Well, Tony, in my perspective, the petrodollar is a relic of the 1970s. Right. Okay. Today it’s the Euro dollar. It’s not the petrodollar that makes the American economy run like God on Earth at the moment. It’s the Euro dollar. Forget about Petro dollar. Right. Because it’s not simply just oil that’s priced in it in dollars. It’s every single piece of commodity globally that’s priced in dollars.

TN: And Albert, just for viewers who may not understand what a Euro dollar is, can you quickly help them understand what a Euro dollar is?

AM: They’re just dollars deposited in overseas banks outside the United States system. That’s all it is.

TN: Okay with that. Very good.

SR: And the global economy runs on them. Full stop.

AM: It’s the blood of the global economy.

TN: So the death of the petrodollar, rise of the petroyuan and all that stuff, we can kind of brush that aside. Is that fair?

TS: Yeah. I mean, even if you look at say, you know, China started their own Yuan contract rights, oil contract and Yuan futures contract. But that still pegged to the price of the Dubai contracts. Right. That are priced in dollars.

TN: Let’s be clear, the CNY and crude are both relative to dollars. Right?

TS: Right.

TN: You have two things that are relative to dollars trying to circumvent dollars to buy that thing. The whole thing is silly.

TS: Exactly.

AM: Yeah, of course. Because Tony, the thing is, if China decides to sell all their dollars and all their trade or whatever, everything they’ve got, they risk hyperinflation. What happens to the Renminbi and then what happens in the world? Contracts trying to get priced right.

TN: Exactly. It’s a good point. Okay. This is a great discussion.

Now, Albert, while we’re on currencies, The Japanese yuan fell pretty hard versus the dollar this week. Do you mind talking through that a little bit and helping us understand what’s going on there?

AM: Yeah, I got a real simple explanation. The Federal Reserve most likely green light in Japan To devalue their yen to be able to show up the manufacturing sector in case China decides to get into a bigger global geopolitical spat with the United States. Simple as that.

TN: Great. Okay. So that’s good. This is really good. And I want people to understand that currencies are very relevant to geopolitics or the other way around. Right. Whenever you see currency movements, there’s typically a geopolitical connection there.

AM: Of course. And on top of that, if it was any other time and they started to devalue the currency like this, the Federal Reserve where the President would start calling the currency manipulators. And there’d be page headlines on the financial times.

TN: Right.

AM: And because that didn’t happen, It’s an automatic signal to me that this is what’s happening at the moment. Right.

What’s also interesting to me, Albert, is we’ve seen last week we saw Japan approach the Saudis and the Emiratis about oil contracts. We saw Japan call. There’s a meeting in Japan next week, I think, with China. So Japan is becoming this kind of foreign policy arm, whether we want to admit it or not, they’re kind of becoming foreign policy arm for the US. Because the US is not well respected right now. Is that fair to say?

AM: It’s more than fair to say, I believe Biden’s conference with South Asian leaders was just canceled on top of everything else.

TS: Sorry. And we saw this week Japan and India just signed, like, a $42 billion trade deal. So it kind of seems like they’re smoothing over the rough edges because the United States kind of came after India a little bit earlier about two weeks ago.

TN: Yeah, that’s a good call, Tracy. I think Japan and India have had a long, positive relationship. It’s especially intensified over the past, say, seven or eight years as China has tried to invest in India and the Japanese have kind of countered them and giving the Indians very favorable terms for investment and for loans. And so this is kind of a second part of that investment that was, I think, announced in, say, 2014 or 2015, something like that. And again, as we talked about it’s, Japan intervening to help the US out and obviously help Japan out at the same time. Thanks for that.

Now, Sam. We saw bonds spike pretty hard this week, especially the five year. I’ve got a Trading View source up there on the five year up on the screen right now. So can you walk us through what’s happening with US bonds right now, especially the five year?

SR: Sure. I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. The Fed is getting very hawkish and the market is adopting it rather quickly. And I don’t know how forcefully to say this. The current assumption coming from city is four straight 50 basis point hikes and then ending the year with just a couple of 25. That is a pretty incredibly fast off zero move time, some quantitative tightening, and you’re somewhere around three and a half percent to 4% worth of tightening in a year. That’s a pretty fast move.

So the two year to five years reflecting that the Fed is moving very quickly, you’re likely having the long end of the curve is lagging a little bit. You saw flattening, not steepening this week. The long end of the curve is telling you that the terminal rate may, in fact, actually be at least somewhat sticky around two and a half and might actually be moving a little bit higher. And that terminal rate is really important because that is how high the Fed can go and then stay there. It is also how fast the Fed can get there and how much above it the Fed is willing to go. So I think there’s a lot of things that happened on the curve this week.

TN: Okay. Albert, what’s in on those? Yes, go ahead, Albert.

AM: Oh, I’ve heard whispers that the long bond is going to 2.8% and maybe even 3%. That’s what the whispers have been telling me about that, which is going to absolutely devastate housing.

TN: But that was my actual idea.

SR: Oh, yeah. Housing is done. I mean, you saw pending home sales were supposed to be up a point and down 4%. That’s the first signal. The next signal will be when lumber goes back to $300.

TN: Okay. It seems to me you’re saying by say Q3 of this year we’re going to see real downside in the housing market. Is that fair to say?

SR: Oh, in Q2, you’re going to see real downside in the housing market. Yeah.

TN: Wow.

SR: Pending sales are, I think, one of the most important indicators of how the housing market is going. Right. It’s a semi forward looking indicator. If you begin to see a whole bunch of these homes in the ground stay as homes that are not being built. Right. So if you begin to see just a bunch of pads out there, it’s going to become a significant problem considering a lot of people have already bought the materials to build it off. And you’re going to begin to have some really interesting spirals that go back into some of the commodity markets that have been on fire on the housing front.

TN: Wow. Okay. That’s a big call. I love this discussion. Okay, good. Okay. So let’s move on to the week ahead. Tracy, we’ve had some stimulus announced to help pay for energy. Can you help us understand? Do you expect we’ve seen California and some other things come out? Are more States going to do this or more countries going to do this, and what does that do to the inflation picture?

TS: Well, absolutely. We saw California, Delaware, Germany, Italy talking about it. Japan already. They’re coming out of the woodwork right now. There’s actually too many to list. It’s just that we’re just now this week just starting to see the US kind of joining this on a state to state basis. The problem is that this is not going to help inflation whatsoever. You’re literally creating more demand and we still do not have the supply online. So all of these policies are going to have the opposite of the intended effect that they are doing. Right. It’s just more stimulus in the market.

TN: Do we think there’s going to be some federal energy stimulus coming?

TS: They’ve talked about different options. I mean, really, the only thing that they could do right now is get rid of the federal excise tax, but that’s only really a few cents. And they kind of don’t want to do that because that goes towards repairing roads, et cetera. That doesn’t fit into their plan that they just passed back in the fall. Right. We had infrastructure plan, so they need to pay for that. That’s already passed. So they probably won’t do that.

The other options that they have that they’re weighing are more SPR release, which is ridiculous at this point because they could release it all and it would still not have a long lasting effect on the market. And that’s our national security. It’s a national security issue. And we’re experiencing all these geopolitical events right now. We have bombs in Saudi Arabia. We’ve got Russia, Ukraine. So I think that’s like a poor move altogether.

TN: So if more States are going to come in, is it suspects like Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, those types of places?

TS: Yes.

TN: Okay. So all inflationary, it’s going in the wrong direction.

TS: It’s going to create demand, which is going to drive oil prices higher because we still don’t have the supply on the market.

TN: Okay. Wow. Thanks for that. Sam. As we look forward, you mentioned a little bit about how hawkish the Fed would be. But what are you looking at say in the bond market for the next week or so? Do we expect more activity there, or do you think we’re kind of stabilizing for now?

SR: We’re going into month end. So I would doubt that we’re going to stabilize in any meaningful way as portfolios either head towards rebalancing or begin to rebalance into quarter end. So I don’t think you’re going to see stabilization. And I think some of the signals might be a little suspect. But I do think back to the housing front. I’m going to be watching how housing stocks react, how the dialogue there really reacts, probably watching lumber very closely, a fairly good indicator of how tight things are or aren’t on the housing front.

And then paying a little bit of attention to what the market is telling us about that terminal rate. If the terminal rate keeps moving higher, to Albert’s point, that’s going to be a big problem for housing, but it’s going to be a big problem for a number of things as we begin to kind of spiral through, what the consequences of that are. It will be for the first time in a very long time.

TN: Okay. So it’s interesting. We have, say, energy commodities rising. We have, say, housing related commodities potentially falling, and we have food commodities rising. Right. It seems like something’s off. Some of it’s shortages based, and some of it is really demand push based. So energy stuff seems to be stimulus based or potentially so some interesting divergence in some of those sectors.

Okay. And then, Albert, what’s ahead for equity markets? We’ve seen equity markets continue to push higher. How much further can they go?

AM: Last week they eliminated, I think, up to about $9 trillion inputs, short squeeze, VIX crush. I mean, they went all out these last two weeks. It’s absolutely stunning. From my calculations, I think they expanded the balance sheet another $150 billion. Forget about this tapering talk. There’s no tapering. They just keep on going. How high can they go? That’s anybody’s guess right now. I think we’re like 6% off all time highs. On no news.

TN: So potentially another 6% higher?

AM: Honestly, I know that there’s hedge funds waiting, salivating at 4650. Just salivating to short it there. So I don’t think they can even get close to that, to be honest with you. So I don’t know, maybe 4590 early in the week before they start coming down.

TN: Okay. Interesting. So you think early next week we’ll see a change in direction?

AM: Yeah, we’re going to have to this has been an epic run, like I said, 90% short squeeze, 10% fixed crush. You don’t see this very often. Okay, Sam, what do you think, Sam? Similar?

SR: On equities, I like going into the rip higher. I’m kind of with Albert, but a little less bearish. I think you chop sideways from here looking for a catalyst in either direction. Bonds ripping higher today, yields ripping higher today. Bond prices plummeting. That I thought was going to be a catalyst for equities to move lower. It wasn’t. That kind of gives me a little bit of pause on being too bearish here, but it’s hard for me to get bullish.

TN: Okay.

TS: What’s interesting? I’ll just throw in like, Bama, weekly flows. We actually saw an outflow from equities for the first time in weeks. It wasn’t a lot 1.9 billion. But that says to me people are getting a little nervous up here. Profit taking, as they say on CNBC.

TN: All right, guys. Hey, thank you very much. Really appreciate the insight. Have a great week ahead.

AM, TS: Thanks.

SR: You too, Tony.

TN: Fabulous. Look. I’m married. I’m a man. I don’t notice anything. I noticed the other guys laughed at that. Uncomfortably. That’s great. Okay. I’m just going to start that over, guys. And we’re going to end it.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 7 Mar 2022

Everyone’s eyes are on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the past couple of weeks. How do traders make smart decisions in a geopolitically risky environment like this? Tracy Shuchart also explains why the fertilizer market is up 23% last week, what commodities are mostly impacted by the conflict, and how’s China’s energy relationship with Russia? Sam explains the effects on the emerging marketing of the different sanctions on Russia and why China’s exporting deflation is good for the US. Albert elaborates why the conflict is actually a “boom” for China.

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

For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:



TN: Hi and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash and I’m joined by Tracy Shuchart, Albert Marko, and Sam Rines. Thanks for joining us. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. And like this video helps us out to get visibility, helps you get notifications when we have a new video. So if you wouldn’t mind doing that right now, we would be grateful.

Also, we’re having a flash sale for CI Futures which is Complete Intelligence subscription product. We forecast about 800 markets assets, currencies, commodities, equity indices, and a couple of thousand economic variables with a very low error rate. We’re doing a flash sale right now for about $50 a month and you can see the URL right now, It’s a limited time flash sale so please get on that. That’s a 90% off rate on our usual price. So thanks for that.

So this week, guys, we saw commodities mooning. We saw exposure to Russia sovereign. Really a lot of sensitivity to that. Exposure to Russia commercial risk. A lot of sensitivity to that. Obviously the war in Ukraine is on the top of everyone’s mind. But we also had the removal of COVID restrictions in some key US States like New York. We had Joe Biden speak give the State of the Union address without a mask on. All this stuff, easing of national guidelines. So the risk aspect of COVID has gone in the US, but it’s largely gone unnnoticed. So while the war ranges on overseas, at home, we do have some regulation getting out of the way.

A few things we said last week. First, we said that Ukraine would get bloodier and the markets would be choppier. That’s happened. We said that equities would be marginally down. That’s happened and we said commodity prices would be higher and that’s really happened.

So in all of this, guys, the S&P 500 is only down about 15 points over the past week. So when you guys said it would be down marginally with a lot of volatility, you were bang on there. So very good job there.

So our first question today is really a basic one and I’d really like to get all of your different views on this. When we have geopolitical events like we have now, how do you guys make trading decisions? What do you pay attention to? Albert, do you want to get us started?

AM: Yes. Personally I view the market as we’re stuck on repeat right now, especially with the Ukraine and everything fundamentals to me right now. I mean, honestly don’t really mean much. And when we had the jobs number come out and then it was everyone just yawned about it because the nuclear power plants were getting firebound.

So for me I’m looking for the Fed to support the market to a certain degree and looking for geopolitical news events to come out and just scare the bejesus out of people.

TN: Okay. Tracy, what are you looking at? Sorry, Sam. What are you looking at?

SR: Yeah, I’ll jump in there 100% agree with Albert. It’s very difficult to trade when the market is just trading on headlines. It is a straight headline market. And does oil look great here? Yeah, but you get one good headline saying that it looks like tensions with Russia are declining and you’re going to have a $5 gap down in oil and probably get stopped out of your position.

To me, it’s one of those very scary moments for anyone who’s trying to trade in that you never know which way the headline is going to come in next. If you’re playing headlines, you’re going to get in trouble and you’re going to get in trouble pretty fast, unless you’re just getting lucky. So for me, headline driven markets are mostly about selling ball and spikes and getting out of the way on everything else.

TN: Tracy?

TS: Well, being that I mostly look at the commodity markets rather than obviously I look at broader markets. But for what I’m looking at, when I see this sort of volatility in the market, I think that you have to have a fundamental grasp of what is going on and what the trade differences are between countries so that you can kind of position yourself for a market change that is not subject to volatility, meaning that you have to know that the oil market is obviously going to be affected, for example. Right. No matter what dips are going to be bought in this market. So you have to have a conviction that this is going to be affected until something else changes, right?

TN: Yes. Tracy, let me dig in on that a little bit. You said something about Fertilizers. We don’t necessarily didn’t mention a specific company here, but you said something about Fertilizers earlier on Twitter today. Could you use that as an example of the type of analysis that you’re talking about?

TS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we saw the Fertilizer market rise 23% today. Russia is the second largest producer of Ammonium, Urea and potash, and the fifth largest producer of processed phosphates. And that country accounts for 23% of the global Ammonium export market. So what we saw in the Fertilizer market was an increase of 23% this week across the globe, not just in the United States, I mean, literally across the globe.

TN: I just wanted to cover this little bit because especially in social media, everyone’s an expert, right. So everyone’s a new political expert. Everyone overnight became a nuclear power expert, all this other stuff. And I just don’t want our viewers to fool themselves into believing that they can play these markets with certainty. But I like what you guys all said about you have to have a conviction. You have to have your stops in place. You have to understand when things are going. And headlines could go either way. So there’s a huge amount of risk out there. Right.

Is there anything else on this? Albert, what are you watching on the ground? How do you get information on the ground if you don’t have people? Are there reliable sources that you look at without having first hand research on the ground?

AM: No. Unfortunately, I don’t. I mean, we’ve come to this point where the nuclear plant attack and all of a sudden people are talking about radiation spikes and so on and so forth. And I actually had to get on Twitter and I’m just like, everybody, relax. Those things can withstand airplanes being hit.

A few bullets isn’t going to do the job. So for me, I personally have context in the region on the ground, both in Ukraine and Georgia. So for me, I get almost on the ground intelligence in real time. So that’s how I’m trading. That’s just the reality of it at the moment. The public is not going to be able to get that information. Right.

TN: Okay. This is great. I really appreciate this, guys. I think this is wisdom that comes from years of trading, but it’s also the reality that comes with dealing with geopolitics on a very intimate level. So thanks for that.

Let’s move on to commodities. We’ve seen commodities, wheat, especially skyrocket this week and last week. So a couple of questions here. Tracy, if you don’t mind starting us off. It seems like every commodity was green this week. I know there are a few that weren’t, but what commodities are impacted most by Russia, Ukraine?

TS: Well, so fertilizer, which I brought up earlier. And then you have aluminum, which was up 14.7% today, or this week. Pardon me. We have copper, 9.34%, neon gas, which is something that most people don’t look at. But Ukraine supplies 90% of the neon gas market for the chip making markets. Then we had Palladium up 37%. Not surprising, Russia supply 43% up that market.

TN: You’ve been talking about Palladium for weeks, though. So anybody listening to you wouldn’t be surprised by this, right?

TS: Right. Not at all. I’ve been talking about this for a very long time. And actually we’re seeing platinum get a little bit of a bid because if you look at the automotive markets, Palladium is a huge thing in a catalytic converter. Right. And so we’re starting to see because prices have been so elevated for the last few years, we’re seeing automakers finally start to retool a bit. And so that’s going to give a little bit of a lift to the platinum markets.

Natural gas obviously is up. Right. We all know about that. Oil obviously up. We have nickel up 9%. The other interesting thing is coal. Russia is a material coal supplier at 15% of the global market. And Europe gets 30% of their imports from the met coal market from Russia and 60% from the thermal coal market. So they’re going to be looking elsewhere for other supplies because they don’t want to have all their eggs in one basket. Where you can have everything in coal and that gas and depend on Russia.

I do want to know on the natural gas market, although there have been rumors Yamal was shut down or whatever. But overall, Jamal is only one pipeline into Europe. Gas supplies have still been consistent and steady this whole time into Europe via different pipelines through Russia.

TN: So weird.

TS: So nobody’s caught off of gas. Right. That’s just weird. They’re on other sides of the war, but one is still supplying the other side energy. I just think that whole thing is very.

AM: Yeah, Tony, you know what concerns me, actually, this is a question for Tracy, too, is like the super spikes in commodities are starting to concern me specifically because of wheat, because obviously that’s food. And once people start getting stressed on food supplies, political problems can happen. I think even today, Hungary decided that they cut off all exports of foods, of wheat and grains because of the concern of spiking prices.

Tracy, where do we see wheat possibly even topping off at this point, especially if Ukraine and Russia go at it for an extended period of time, like, say, three to four weeks?

TS: Yeah. I mean, hopefully they won’t. But as far as that’s concerned, we’re looking at the Black Sea right now because exports are halted, because there’s conflict going on, this is what I think European wheat and US wheat has been limited up literally every day this week. Right.

So that’s going to be a problem that’s going to cause inflation, food inflation elsewhere. And let’s not forget that’s how the Arab Spring started as well. Right. So this is very much a concern globally on a macro sense, on food prices, energy prices, especially when we’re looking at kind of a global downturn in the market. And that’s a whole another discussion we can get in another week, but definitely it’s a concern right now.

TN: Let’s dig a little bit deeper into that. We have a viewer question from @Ramrulez. And Sam, can you take a look at this? The impact of sanctions on Russia, on emerging economies. So where are we seeing impacts of, say, wheat prices? I know Albert brought up Hungary, but what are we seeing in, say, emerging markets and other places that this is already hitting them?

SR: I don’t know that there are places that it’s already hitting, mostly because you’re going to have imported wheat. Wheat right now is being harvested in Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, etc. And that’s going to be more of a late spring summer story when you begin to actually have to import your additional food supplies.

So where would you see it? You’d see it in Egypt. Egypt is a significant importer of both Russian and Ukrainian wheat. You’re going to see it on the cornside, too. It’s worth remembering that Ukraine is a significant exporter of corn. You’re going to see it in Semple our way up, which is going to spill over into other markets because you’re going to have to, if there is no resolution or planting season, you’re going to have to replace some flour, oil with something else. So you’re going to have that issue to deal with as well.

So I don’t know that you’ve seen the spillovers yet. You will see spillovers particularly in North Africa, other significant importers of foodstuffs. The other thing to remember is it could potentially be a marginal benefit to some emerging markets. As you see, net exporters of coal, et cetera, become incremental sources for replacement for both Ukraine and Russia. So I think it’s something to keep an eye on both on the food price front, but also on the front of it’s going to be good for some. It’s going to be very bad for others.

TN: Okay. Thanks for that. Hey, before we move on from commodities, Tracy, I want to roll back to this viewer question we have from @YoungerBolling. Yes. What are the other sources of crude, grade wise, that can replace Russian crude for US refineries? This is a common question, and I’m sure you can answer it very quickly. So where else can people look to get Russian grade crude?

TS: We get kind of the sludgy stuff from them. Right. So the best, most convenient, easiest place to get it from is Canada. Right. We can get some heavier crude grades from Mexico, but they’re having some political problems there and it’s coming up. So really the easiest place we can look to is to Canada. So opening import lines from Canada is really our best option since they’re on our border.

TN: Didn’t the US cancel a pipeline from Canada about a year ago?

TS: Something decided. Yeah.

TN: Okay. Thanks for that. And then moving to another question, we spoke a bit about China last week, and I’m curious for any further thoughts that the panel has on China in light of last week’s, of this past week events. We do have a viewer question to get us started off. It’s from @HJCdarkhorse1. He says perspectives on Chinese Yuan. But before we get into that, Tracy, let’s talk a little bit about China’s energy relationship with Russia. What do you see happening on that front?

TS: Right. First of all, if we’re looking at the oil industry, China is Russia’s largest importer. Right. I think that anything that comes off the market wise via the west, that China will gladly scoop up at a $28 discount that they’re currently offering. Right. That is interesting in that respect.

There are still 1.5 million barrels kind of off the market. I want to stress nobody has sanctioned oil or energy at all so far. UK, EU, US. That said that people are hesitant and anticipating, and it’s hard to get banknotes right now to get those deals going through. But China is definitely their largest trading partner. China definitely loves cheap oil. So we’re going to continue buying from them no matter what.

TN: Are their pipelines between Russia and China?

TS: There are, but not like not enough. Not enough.

TN: Okay.

AM: Did they just cut a deal for a new pipeline that’s going to pretty much be equal. Sorry. That’s for net gas, that equals North Korean, too.

TN: Did they also come to some agreement recently about buying crude in CNY? Did that happen in the past?

TS: No, that was buying jet fuel.

TN: Okay.

TS: What they said is if we’re in your airport, we’ll buy in your currency. If you’re in our airport, you’ll buy in our currency, which is not that big. Literally.

TN: To some people’s dismay, the US dollar is still the currency for energy.

TS: Since we’re talking about currencies, you and I have talked about CNY for a long time. So can you give us kind of some perspectives on that? I know we had a question about that as well.

TN: Sure. So CNY. Chinese Yuan is a controlled currency. It’s not a freely floating currency. There is an offshore currency called CNH that is, we’ll say marginally floating currency that is linked to the CNY. But the CNY is strictly managed by the PBOC. And when you have a managed currency, it’s devalued. Okay. It’s appreciated and it’s devalued.

And so what’s happened over the last two years is the CNY has appreciated dramatically. And a big part of that is so that they can buy commodities, knowing that commodities would spike starting in the second quarter of 2020, China’s appreciated CNY so they could hoard those commodities, which they’ve done. Okay.

What’s happened? Well, Chinese exporters have suffered a bit because of the appreciated CNY. On a relative basis, they’re paying higher prices, but their experts have been up, too. So they’re not hurt too much. But we have a lot of things happening in China with a big political meeting in November to where they’re starting to spend in a big way, fiscal spending. We’ve also expected since probably August of ’21, we’ve been talking about China starting to devalue the CNY at the end of first quarter or early second quarter of this year.

So what that will do is it will make things a lot easier for exporters. And so exporters will be happy. There’ll be a lot of fiscal stimulus, a lot of monetary stimulus. So that just in time for this political meeting, everyone domestically in China is pretty happy. So we expect a lot of stimulus and a devalued CNY is a big part of that.

SR: And just to kind of jump on that really fast, that’s a positive on the US inflation fighting front. It’s significant positive. We are going to get.

TS: If you’re exporting deflation, that’s fantastic.

SR: Exactly. So when China goes back to to exporting deflation instead of exporting inflation, that’s going to be a completely different ballgame from what we’ve seen for the past year and a half.

TN: That’s a very good thing. Okay, guys, anything else on China, Albert? Do you have any anything on China that you want to add?

AM: Honestly for China? I don’t really see people talking about the fact that this entire Ukraine and Russia war has been a boom for China. They’re getting cheaper commodities. They’re getting a tighter relationship with Russia, although it’s going to be debatable that Russia is going to be a shell of what it was after all this. But still for China, they’re sitting pretty at the moment. I mean, any other place in the world where the Russians had their hands in the domestic economies of countries that China also did is now going to have to take a step back and allow the Chinese to get their banks financing different countries projects. It’s going to be unbelievable for China in the next couple of years.

TN: Yeah. I wonder if the Belt and Road is going to rebuild Ukraine. It’s a cynical question, but I think it’s an opportunity for China to do something like that on infrastructure.

AM: They’re going to have to because Russia is going to have nothing left economically. Right.

SR: And to begin with, there was a $1.58 trillion economy.

TN: Right. But it’s a very detailed answer to that simple question. But yeah, I think it is a medium term opportunity for China as well, not just in getting cheap commodities now or discounted commodities, we’ll say now, but also long term for their financial system, for their infrastructure system and other things. Right.

AM: Got you.

TN: Okay. So what guys are we looking forward to in the week ahead? Tracy, what do you see over the next week?

TS: Again, I’m going to say volatility. I think markets are going to be very volatile, just like we saw this last week. We had eight to ten dollar moves in crude oil like the blink of an eye. I think it’s going to continue to kind of see that in the commodities markets until there’s some sort of resolution to this Ukraine-Russia crisis because there’s too many commodity sectors involved in this.

TN: Right. Sam, same for you, but you talk about the kind of twos and ten years a couple of weeks ago, and I’m curious what your observation is there in addition to other things?

SR: Yeah. The front end of the US curve has been nuts this week, and I think you can kind of attribute that back to two reasons. One, we sucked out all of the Russian reserves from being able to participate in the market, period, full stop. You probably have a significant amount of hoarding on the front end from Russian banks. Call it the zero to three year type timeframe. That’s where they typically play. So I think you continue to see volatility there. That’s going to be absolutely insane.

The Fed. I don’t think the Fed is going to be all that surprising. The Fed was really interesting three weeks ago, and now it’s kind of boring. You’re going to get 25 bps. You’re going to get some gangs on QT. Nobody cares. We’ve kind of moved on from that.

TN: That’s interesting, though, right? Two months ago, 25 basis points was catastrophic. Kind of.

SR: Yes.

TN: And now it’s a faded company and nobody cares.

SR: Nobody cares. You had almost 700 jobs. 700,000 jobs created in February. We didn’t even talk about that. Nobody cares. Cool. 700k consecration up, whatever.

To Tracy’s point, I think it’s kind of a moss, right? More of the same. And just until you get some sort of resolution and some sort of clarity on how long we’re going to have these sanctions, this market is this market. It’s going to continue to be highly volatile and there’s no end of it in sight.

TN: Okay. Very good. And then, Albert, I’m going to ask you specifically about equities. So if we’re getting more of the same but we have upward pressure on commodities, what do you think is going to happen domestically with US equities? Do you think we’re going to see more of the same volatility? Do we have a downside bias? Do we have an upside bias? Where do you see things over the next week?

AM: Well, I mean, it’s hard to say that we have an upside bias at the moment with so much volatility. But from all my indications, I think Putin’s going to up the war rhetoric and surgeons in Ukraine, I think equities are going to have to come down to, I don’t know, 4200 4250. Right. And then we start talking to the start talking about the fed like Sam was talking 25 basis points is now the consensus. But I will have to say Jerome Powell said he was hoping that inflation is not a big problem when those meetings come. So don’t be surprised if it’s a 50 basis point hike.

TN: I think as an outlier, you could be right. I think it’s a possibility. I think it’s greater than 0%.

AM: If we’re talking about commodity supersight commodity surging, with all this volatility in this war, how is inflation going to come down in the next couple of weeks?

TN: Well, just ask a very direct question. A 50 basis point hike is intended to kill demand, right?

AM: Yes.

TN: That’s all it’s intended to do is kill demand.

AM: Of course. But from their perspective, you killed demand, you killed inflation. I don’t know if that’s going to, I doubt it’s going to work, but that’s their narrative.

TN: Right. Okay. Very good, guys. Thank you very much. Good luck in the next week and forgot for anybody viewing. Don’t forget about our CIF futures flash sale at and see you next week. Thank you.

TS: Thank you.

AM: Thanks, Tony.

SR: Thank you.


Rate Hikes in the US and Rate Cuts in China

What should we expect from the FOMC meeting minutes in the US and also the latest CPI and PPI figures from China? Will oil prices continue to rally or slump with the latest development near Ukraine? And will it be another IPO year in India this year? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence tells us more.

This podcast first appeared and originally published at on February 17, 2022

Show Notes

SM: BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. It’s Seven five in the morning on Thursday, the 17 February. You’re listening to the morning run with Shazana Mokhtar, Philip See and Tan Chen Li but first, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday in US.

TCL: Dow was down zero 2%. S&P 500 was up zero 2%. Nasdaq down. .1% Asian markets Niki up 2.2%. Hong Kong’s up 1.5%. Shanghai Composite up 6%. Sti up 5%. FBI KLCI up zero 2%.

SM: All right, so all green and Asia, but some red coming in from the US markets. For more on where markets are headed, we have on the line with us, Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks, as always, for joining us. Can we start with just the FOMC minutes that came out overnight? What did you make of them? And do you think this raises the possibility of a 50 bits rate hike in March?

TN: Yeah, I don’t think it raises the likelihood of a 50 basis point hike in March. I think it will likely be a measured approach. We have a pretty complicated central bank system in the US right now. We’re still easing until March, meaning the Fed is still buying securities and stuff until March. That doesn’t stop until March. So we need to start quantitative tightening, which means we sell off some of those assets because there’s too much currency in circulation and then raising interest rates will unlikely to be 50 basis points. The thing to remember is the US hikes in bands. So zero to 25 basis points, 25 to 50 basis points. So even if they come out saying it’s a 25 to 50 basis point hike, it doesn’t mean it goes straight to 50 basis points. They could hike at 32 basis points. And so it’s likely some sort of calibration like that that will happen.

PS: So then if you look at it, maybe not on this specific occurrence, but cumulatively, in 2022, what was originally expected to be 75 basis points for a whole of 22 people are expecting it to go as much as 150 basis points. Now, do you agree with that assessment?

TN: Yeah, I’m not sure that 150 is correct. I think it’ll be north of 75 and we expect it to be around 100. So around a 1% hike by the end of the year. Keep in mind that the Fed does need to tighten. That’s a reality because of inflation. But we also need to remember that it’s an election year in the US, and the party in power never wants the Fed to be too aggressive in an election year. So the Fed will make motions, but they’ll probably also let it run a little bit hot because they don’t want to upset the politicians in power regardless of party.

TCL: Ahead of the Russian following through and announced troop withdrawal near Ukraine.

West Texas crude has up to around $90 a barrel. Even so, the oil market remains tight. How do you think this will play out in the weeks to come?

TN: Yes, we expect crew to really trade sideways for the next several weeks, and we’ve been saying this for about the last two weeks, and so it’s kind of proving to be that. And so it will be volatile, but it will trade sideways. The thing to remember is that crude typically rallies during tightening cycles. So we’ll likely see crude rise a bit from here. There are certain people who say it’ll be 120 or $150. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that. There has to be a certain things aligned for that to happen. But there is underlying medium and long term strength for crude oil because of the underinvestment that we’ve had over the last decade and well under investment in exploration and in production capacity. So we need an investment cycle to have the capacity to reduce long term prices.

PS: Yeah. That’s why I’m wondering whether she’ll come into the picture. Right.

As you say, there is this medium long term upside potential still happening. There’s still that pent up demand won’t shall come into the picture then?

TN: It should yeah. I live in Texas, so I love Shell, but, yeah, it should come into the picture and it should help to reduce some of those prices over time. Absolutely.

SM: Tony, if I could get your thoughts on where you think supply will increase. I think Iran is coming up in the headlines again. There seems to be discussions on the nuclear deal. How do you see that playing out?

TN: I think Iran is already preparing to start exporting. So I think Iran is already exporting something like a million barrels per day, whether it’s official or unofficial. And they put $115,000,000,000 into their next fiscal year budget from oil revenues. And they’re already marketing, especially around Asia. They’ve been in South Korea recently and other places. So Iran will export oil. I think whether or not the nuclear agreement is agreed.

I think there is a skepticism that the US will enforce any embargoes.

TCL: Moving to China after last month’s ten basis points cut. The PBOC has refrained from cutting interest rate this week on the back of the slowing inflation in China. Should PPOC have adopted a more aggressive approach, you think?

TN: No. I think they need to signal I think it’s a fine path. You and I, we’ve discussed this several times since probably Q three of 2021, that I’ve expected the PVoC to start loosening in late Q one of 22. So I think the PVoC is actually listening to BFM, which is pretty awesome. A big part of this is really to weaken CNY, so it’s to stimulate the Chinese economy domestically, but it’s also to weaken the currency because they’ve had a really elevated, really strong currency over the past year and a half. And that’s partly been to fight inflation and commodity prices. Now that a number of those commodity prices, not oil, of course, but some of those commodity prices have come down off of those very high levels. It’s time to weaken their currency, which will help their exports.

PS: Which comes back to the question about China being the world’s factory, I think breathing as far as relief when we saw factory gain, inflation ease a bit to about 9.1% in January. What’s your take likely scenario of PPI moderating?

TN: That’s a good sign. So PPI peaked at 13% and so that is a good sign that the PPOC can start to moderate in ease. So I think aggressive moderation could potentially contribute to PPI. But if they’re moving in that direction gradually, as PPI eases, they’ll start becoming more aggressive about their intervention. So China is also entering potentially a slow period for the economy. So PPI will likely flow as a result of that. But as China had an appreciated CNY, they also accumulated a lot of things like industrial metals like copper and so on and so forth. So it’s not as if they need to continue to buy this stuff in huge quantities. They have a lot of storage of those commodities right now.

SM: Tony, let’s have a conversation with a quick look at what’s taking place in India in markets. India’s new stock listings are losing their edge. I think they’ve been calamitous IPO of PTM, Ecommerce, Domato and Nica. I mean, what do you make of this? Are the IPOs in India all hype and hoopla, but no substance?

TN: Yeah, I think these particularly have been a lot of hype. I think they’ve kind of peaked too early. Firms like tomato. I think every middle class urban Indian has used tomato. So it’s not as if they don’t have market penetration, but they’re really burning cash. And I think investors at this point in the cycle are already rotating out of technology. So they’re wary of firms that either don’t make money or burn cash or are very expensive in a share price perspective. So it’s the rotation out of tech. These companies need to show profitability and they need to have a more appropriate valuation. So I don’t think there’s necessarily Indian IPOs are out of favor. I think it’s really value with these companies.

SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us today. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his thoughts on some of the trends affecting US markets. Also some developments in China and India as well.

PS: Yeah, I think India has a long term potential, but I think this is a bit of aberration, I believe. I think the IPOs that have come out have really been not stellar for sure. I think it’s causing a lot of people to rethink one of them being all your rooms, which is planning to IPO by saying that put on hold. So, yeah, let’s hope to see some long term gains in the future for Indian market.

TCL: I am quite curious to see and watch the US market, especially on the oil and also the inflation because has the inflation really peaked already or are we going to see higher numbers coming up in the next month inflation report? That’s something that’s unknown for now.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 31 Jan 2022

We’re dissecting Jerome Powell’s latest announcement — what does that mean to markets this coming week? Will we see Powell’s inner Volcker this year? What are we expecting to happen in the energy markets considering the geopolitical risks in Russia and Ukraine? Has the White House and Treasury told the Fed to fight inflation as its top priority?

This is the fourth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Show Notes

TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It helps us with visibility, helps you get reminded of our new episode. So please do that.

While you’re thinking about it, this week was all about the Fed. Of course, we expected Monday and Tuesday to be choppy. We told you that on our last Week Ahead, which they were. We talked about it last week. We talked about the said meeting last week. And as Wednesday got closer, it appeared that Powell would be more bearish. And that seems to be exactly what we got.

So today we’d love to focus on a few things. Nick, let’s start with you. What were your main takeaways from the Fed?

NG: Okay, I’ve got three takeaways, most of which came after the Fed. Okay. The statement was sort of bland, almost appalling in terms of, it felt like it was leaving the risk markets to determine the Fed’s policy. And then, boy, Powell come out hawkish. He refused to give any direct answers but never denied any of the points and the questions such as how many rates, how many it takes?

So what was interesting is today, we had the first Fed Speaker, Neil Kashkari, the Uberdam for the FOMC.

TN: That’s right.

NG: And he basically came out and said whatever it takes, we’ve got to get inflation. I mean, shocking. Now where Powell got confirmed in his hawkishness came today with the ECI data. The base figure was slightly less than expected. But lift the bedsheets up and you are seeing major wage pressures.

If you look at some of the increases in wages and salaries, four and a half percent for all civilian workers, 5% for private sector workers, up from 4.2 and 4.6% respectively. If you go deeper, hospitality, health care, you’re looking at 7% and 8% increases.

TN: Nurses in many cases are making as much as doctors now in a number of cases.

NG: Exactly. So that basically confirmed Powell’s words of a rapid pace of wage grip. Okay. And I think that was a very key piece of data, which in fact, a Bongi like me would have been waiting for. Right now.

TN: We don’t see them bonds today, did we?

NG: What’s that?

TN: We didn’t see the action in bonds today, did we?

NG: They were down initially and then after the day, they rallied a bit. But I think that was more to do with reversing a very successful week of your well positioned. And what’s interesting, though, this came after that hawkish press conference. So typically what you have is the yoke of mutually reinforces the relationship with the Fed’s monetary policy. So simplistically, when an economy is strong and in danger of overheating, you are going to see the yield curve steeper. Long end, higher rates relative to the short end.

Now that then reflects that the rates have to rise, that’s the historical perspective. What was interesting this time was the curve was bare flat, and it was headed towards an inversion, the consensus. That’s a really bad signal of an approaching recession.

What it’s basically suggesting at that point, historically, the bond market tends to suggest Fed’s tighten too much. We’re going to get a recession. It needs to stop. Reassess, perhaps even cut. So what’s startling about this whole move is you got yield curve flat, bear flattening, coming so soon before the Fed has even started raising rates.

TN: Right.

NG: So if you have a Swift move to inversion, it’s going to be slightly, somewhat harder for the Fed to carry out its hiking program over time. That tells me that you’re going to have it front loaded. It also suggests to me, which is what you got from Powell’s press conference, it may not be 25 basis points each hike. It may be 350s. Right. Especially with this inflation.

He was all about inflation risks to the upside and a very strong labor market.

TN: 350 basis point hikes. I just want to make sure we make sure that we know what you said.

NG: Yes. Basically the Yoker is suggesting that. But some of his comments were this is a labor market that’s rocketing. This is inflation that still has risk. The upside. We saw a bit of that today. He also said supply chains are not going to get resolved this year. We’re going to have to wait till next year.

TN: Okay. Let’s stop there, because I want to ask you something, and this may be an overly simplistic way of asking the question and Albert and Tracy jump in here.

But it seems to me that kind of what he’s saying indirectly is, hey, there are supply side inflation, okay. And we as the Fed can’t control the supply side, we can only control the demand side to some extent. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to put a stopper on demand so that demand can come down to match up with the available supply. And that’s how we’re going to we don’t have the tools to put the kibosh on the supply side inflation. So we’re going to bring the demand down.

First of all, does that seem to be what he’s saying?

NG: I think that’s probably what he’s trying to say. I would add one other point. So we were all thinking that after the big rise in crude oil and energy prices last year, we would get some beneficial payback by the comparison, but we’re not oil still going up, so we’re not getting that.

And the most extreme version is, for example, Europe. These have all got to feed through from wholesale to retail.

AM: Yeah.

NG: I think it was 95% of surveyed American CEOs. I can’t remember the sort of survey, but I can dig it out. Are expecting to raise prices.

AM: Yeah. The problem with them trying to limit demand, though, is it’s going to start affecting jobs. Labor market’s certainly going to weaken if demand starts to fall off. Because wage inflation is going nowhere. I’ll tell you that right now. Wage inflation is here to stay politically is absolutely just not going to ever come back down. So that’s going to be sticky for quite a while.

NG: But I think Powell was implying that where he basically said the labor market is super strong. So I don’t disagree with it will dampen it. The question is whether it turns around.

Remember, we’re getting all these people retiring and dropping out. Yes, that was your data, Albert.

TS: He kept reiterating the labor market is super strong. But the labor market really, if you look under the hood of it, it’s not really super strong. We all know that.

TN: That’s true.

NG: Yeah. Agreed. But it’s perceptions. Remember, these guys are basing their work off their forecasts. One of their forecasts have ever been right. Okay. Even worse in Europe. So the point I’m making is they have their parameters. They have the data that they look at and monitor and whether we agree with that data or not. And I mean, I would always disagree with the way the Fed measures, the BLS measures CPI, but it was impacted by Arthur Burns of the Fed in 1970s. Right.

So the point to be made is they have their data sets that they watch, and according to those data sets, they may be wrong. I don’t disagree.

TN: So just yes or no, because you’re implying some things that two weeks ago we talked about or last week we talked about, yes or no. Will we see J. Powell’s innver Volcker this year?

NG: Yes.

TN: We will?

NG: In the short term.

TN: Albert, what do you think? Yes or no? Will we see J. Powell’s inner Volcker?

NG: Mini Volcker.

AM: Mini Volcker, I agree with. One and done Volcker, a one week Volcker, yes, I agree with.

NG: If he does the one and done, the bond market will riot. If you look at the Fed meeting. But look at the statement. That statement said, basically risk assets will determine the level of Fed funds, right?

AM: Yeah.

NG: Bond market’s sold off. Hold on. The bond market’s sold off, aggressively. Sold off all across the curve and particularly the long end. It didn’t start to flatten in a bare manner until that press conference.

TN: Sorry, guys, let me stop you both just for a second. Tracy, will J. Powell show his inner mini Volcker this year?

TS: I said this last week. I’m in the one and done camp, maybe two, but I’m cutting it out there. I know Bank of America came out today and said seven. They said the “seven” yes, today, which I think I don’t know what they’re smoking exactly. But I’ll go with max two on this one, even though I said one and done. I’ll stretch that out.

Maybe one more, but that’s where I stand on that one.

TN: Okay. So while we’re with you, Tracy, can you give us a quick view on what did markets get right and wrong this week from your perspective? What do you think is a little bit out of whack?

TS: Well, I mean, I think energy markets obviously remain elevated because of the Russia-Ukraine risk, right? Because Russia’s 10 million barrels per day, they produce a lot of gas. That’s here with us to say we have a northeastern so that kept a bid under at least the energy markets, right. I think last week we were talking about continued volatility all around in, say, the indices and obviously that trend is continued and probably likely will continue into next week.

Again, looking ahead to next week, I expect that probably we’ll still keep a bid under oil, but we did go kind of sideways this week. Even though we got new highs, I still think we’ll stay in that $82 to $87 range, probably for the next week or so, and then probably get a little bit. If nothing happens with Russian and Ukraine, we’ll get a little bit of pullback there. But still looking at the overall fundamentals of the market, they remain very strong. So I don’t think we’ll see any kind of material.

TN: Okay. This is on the commodity side. On the commodity side. Okay. What about the equity side?

TS: Well, it’s. Far as equities indices are concerned, I think that we’re again going to see continued volatility. What I think is very interesting. As long as the market is pricing in rate hikes, that’s going to put pressure on growth versus value. Right.

And so I think that trend will continue. I think we’re in for a rough note. Until that March meeting, until we actually hear an actual decision, we could be setting up for another volatile month in February.

TN: Okay. That’s fun. Right. Okay. So let’s take that and let’s swing over to geopolitics for a minute. And Albert, I want to ask you a couple of things about geopolitics. Tracy mentioned Kazakhstan, which we’ll get to in a minute. But has the White House told the Fed and treasury that inflation is a top priority? Is that what you’re hearing out of DC? Are they getting political pressure to make inflation their top priority?

AM: Oh, absolutely. Inflation is a nuclear bomb for politicians. I mean, gas prices rising, food prices rising. The job market is they can say it’s strong, but it’s not. I mean, realistically talking about 15%, 20% unemployment, so it’s not strong. So, yeah, inflation is absolutely priority number one for the next couple of months.

TN: Right. Okay. And then as we move into a little bit more on geopolitics, so we got a viewer question from at 77, Psycho Economics. He says, has Russia’s stabilization of Kazakhstan increased their influence over energy exports to Europe?

So give us a little bit of kind of overview of what you see happening in Kazakhstan. And then if you and Tracy can help us understand what’s happening with the energy exports to Europe, that would be really helpful.

AM: Yeah. Kazakhstan has been stuck between Russia and China for a couple of years now. But realistically, that’s Russia’s backyard. They control the area. Ever since the United States was booted out of Uzbekistan, they’ve lost a lot of sway in the region. So the energy sector from Kazakhstan all the way to Turkey and into the Mediterranean is pretty well dominated by the Russians right now.

TS: And I would agree with that. I would also like to mention just as an energy producer, I mean, Kazakhstan doesn’t produce all that much.

So if you’re looking at the commodity side, I would say Ukraine would have more of a dent because of how much they’re involved in the cereals markets. How much do they export in the cereals markets, how much they export in the uranium market. So that’s definitely more commodities heavy area that I would be concerned about then Kazakhstan, just from the energy standpoint.

AM: Yeah. And when you’re looking at Russia and talking about energy, it’s not necessarily you don’t single out just Russia’s energy production. They go out and they meddle everywhere they possibly can, whether it be Libya, Kazakhstan, Turkey, everywhere they can to sit there and depress those energy exports so they can pump out there. So that’s what I mean by Russian dominance in the sectors. Sure.

NG: Will Russia attack the Ukraine?

AM: You’re looking at maybe 1020 thousand conscripts that Russia probably hasn’t paid in a while to go and loot the countryside of Ukraine where it’s already Russian dominated speakers.

Biden comes out and talks about sacking Kiev as if it’s Hannibal on the gates of Rome. This is just absurdity. Russia has no military, nor does he want to go into Kiev and hold it. What’s the point of bombing the thing? Of course, they can go in and destroy Kia if they wanted to overnight, but that serves absolutely zero purpose. So are they going to invade? Yeah. I mean, I would give it a 60 70% chance, but would it be something some big kind of issue at. No, the market is looking at this issue as World War II. And it’s just nothing more than a little bit of a skirmish that’s kind of kinetic.

TN: But they’ve already invaded the economy. They’ve already invaded any investors who want to go into Ukraine, that nobody’s going to touch Ukraine for at least the next year. Right.

AM: Well, Tony, listen, I’ve been to that region, worked there for years in Georgia and Ukraine. I mean, Ukraine has corruption issues, of course, aside from the Russian problem. Right. They’ve got legal framework problems and corruption problems that it makes investing there quite difficult.

TN: Right. Okay, so you’re saying no, not going to happen. You’re saying maybe some looting in Eastern Ukraine.

AM: But they’ll reinvent the same areas that they did in 2014. They’ll make Biden and the west look inept, and that’s their goal. That’s it.

TN: Great. Okay. Sounds fun. As we look ahead, what milestones are you looking for? The week ahead, Nick, what are you expecting to see next week in markets?

NG: I’m fascinated to see the next bunch of Fed speakers come out. If we had the Uber Dove, very hawkish. That’s as hawkish as he’s ever spoken, Kashkari. I’m fascinated to see what the others are going to say.

What I can’t get a handle on is whether this is a genuine bear market inversion or flattening going on the bomb market. I still maintain the point that you’ve got to look at the market and watch what’s going on. Okay.

So I’ll be interested to see whether that continues. If it doesn’t continue, that tells me that it was actually a bit half partly people reversing bad positions on the Euro curve because really traditionally we should be having your curve deepening.

And then next week, well, we’ve got unemployment coming out on the Friday, so that’s going to be pretty fascinating. And then we’ll have the following week, all that inflation data starting to come through, and we won’t have the favorable comparisons from a year ago.

The banks have all jumped on like Tracy said, bank of America seven hikes. Goldman is four to five hikes. They are jumping on this. This did surprise the banking community, with maybe the exception of Goldman, who came out beforehand and said this is what I was thinking. So it’s a pull and push between what we’ve just been discussing. How many heights have we got a minivolk building up here in the Fed? If he’s got the support of the White House and treasury, then maybe we have. Right. I think he had to have that before he came out with that sort of speech.

So the question I mean, I looked at today’s equity market. To me that started off as a okay, let’s cover the shorts because we’ve had a good week and there’s no liquidity. So the market just carried on popping up be interesting to see what happens on Monday. And remember, we have holiday, new lunar year, holiday in the Far East. So the forest is shut, as it were, even less liquid.

TN: Right. So, Tracy, you’ve said for a long time that Yellen is a strong dollar Treasury Secretary. And so what Nick is saying about the Fed and the treasury and the White House being in sync, it seems to make sense if they’re tightening that that is certainly something that Yellen might want.

TS: Obviously, you’re going to see a strong dollar. The Feds raising rates, they’re taking liquidity out of the dollar market. Right. So in that environment, we are going to see a rising dollar. What we should be looking at, though, is emerging markets. Right that nobody’s really talking about. How does this affect emerging markets? Emerging market debt that’s denominated in USC as a dollar gets higher, that puts pressure on emerging markets, even though a lot of banks came out and said emerging markets should do better this year than DM markets, but in my opinion, not in an environment where we see a rising US dollar. So that’s something to look forward to.

TN: In the biggest emerging market. We saw the Euro really taken to the shorts this week. Right. So the Euro is really problematic and it’s probably the newest of the emerging markets, in my view. So they’ve got real problems. But yeah, I think watching emerging market currencies is something that we really need to do over the next probably month to see how dramatic will the shift that we saw this week, will that remain? Will that get even more dire? I think it will. Yeah.

And Albert, what are you watching for the next week?

AM: I have to reiterate what Tracy just said. Literally, it’s the US dollar in the first half of the week and then this bonds the second half of the week.

I think if the US dollar gets over 98, it’s a real problem for emerging markets.

TN: Yeah.

AM: Especially the Europeans. You’re talking about the Euro. But the Europeans like the Euro suppressed right here because it’s boosting the manufacturing sector. So it’s like it’s a give and take with them. But yes, the dollar gets over 98. Start looking at problems.

TN: Well, and my big question is when will the CNT break? When will they finally say uncle and I’ve been saying for a while it’ll happen after lunar new year. They just can’t keep this up. And with an appreciated dollar, it becomes even harder for them to keep that CNY at six point 35 or whatever it is right now.

NG: Did we see a few little twitches of weakness today and yesterday?

TN: We did, yes.

AM: Just remember, Tony, October is a big meeting for the party in China and they are going to stimulate that economy sometime this year. It’s just a matter of when it starts and when you’re talking about the currency. Yeah. That’s going to be a problem that we have to tackle pretty quickly.

TN: Well, it’s monetary policy. Q one, Q two and it’s a lot of spending in Q two. Q three, right?

AM: Absolutely.

TN: They’re going to play with the currency in Q one. Q two and play with the triple R and all this other stuff in Q one, Q two. And then spending is going to rip starting in June.

AM: Oh, yeah. Full disclosure. I’m building big position in China names as we go here.

TS: And commodities will benefit from that as well. They start spending right. And you’re going to see commodities rip as well, which also hurts the inflation picture.

NG: I was going to say that will be a negative for the bond market.

TN: Okay, guys. On that note, thank you very much. It’s been great and have a great weekend. Thank you.

TS: Thank you.

NG: Thank you, Bernie.

TN: Okay. Good one, guy.

NG: That was my feet.

TS: That was good. I liked.