Roger Hearing is joined by writer and journalist Karen Percy in Melbourne, and the Founder of AI firm Complete Intelligence, Tony Nash, in Houston.
They discuss the tech giants in China that have shared details of their algorithms with Beijing for the first time.
The first day of campaigning is getting under way in Brazil’s presidential elections, due to take place on the Second of October. What is the impact on the economy?
The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, has confirmed his predecessor secretly held five parliamentary roles undertaken in the two years before losing power in May earlier this year. Meanwhile, in the US voters in Wyoming are expected to oust Liz Cheney from her seat in Congress in Republican primary elections taking place on Tuesday.
BBC: Also say hello to Tony Nash, founder of AI firm Complete Intelligence, who’s joining us from Houston. So, Tony, very good evening to you.
TN: Hi, Roger. Good evening.
BBC: Good to have you with us. And we’re going to talk let me come to you coming. You’re involved in the AI world, which I guess is in that zone, too. I mean, our algorithms really the great bugbear that we think they are, as Ken was saying, leading us in places we perhaps don’t want to go but are unable to resist, or is it just a very simple way of selling us stuff?
TN: Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. These things are trade secrets, whether or not they are, say, patents or excuse me or something like that, these are trade secrets. And companies have spent a lot of time and a lot of money developing them. And so in China, you can expect to have these things demanded to be revealed because there really isn’t personal property in China as much as we think there is, there isn’t in the west and the US. We like to think that we have personal property and company owned property. And so if a government were to command a company to release an algorithm or a trade secret or a business process, then that would effectively be nationalization of property, and it’s just not right.
BBC: Yeah. Some members of Congress certainly want that, as we heard from Facebook and others.
TN: All they do is talk for a living. They’ve never built a business. They don’t know what it’s like to actually value something. And so if something were commanded to be opened, unless it was for a national security reason, which everyone understands, but if things were commanded to be opened, it would be a long fight. But property rights, intellectual property rights are a really big deal, especially over the last 30, 40 years, as we’ve had a software led world. So, again, you can get this in China, where there really are not individual property rights. And for one to expect to have individual property rights in China is silly. But in the west, one would hope that we would have property rights, especially intellectual property rights, and this would not be something that would happen.
BBC: Yeah, but I suppose there’s always compromise in that. That’s a fair point, Tony, in the sense that these are mega companies with enormous power and they are trading in our data. So it isn’t a normal commercial relationship, is it?
TN: No, Roger. What governments have to do and what citizens have to do, if there is objectionable behavior, then they have to legislate and regulate that objectionable behavior. If people are being discriminated against, if people are being threatened, if one political party or another is being favored, those things need to be regulated and legislated. But seizing intellectual property is not the way to do it because the precedent there is devastating. And in the US. Where you have an IP based economy, it would take down valuations of massive companies very quickly.
BBC: But we’ve heard, Tony, that Twitter has effectively open source on this. I mean, maybe they’re not doing brilliantly, but they’re doing okay.
TN: That Twitter API.
TN: Has been available for years, and it kind of tells you what’s going on, but it really doesn’t. And so it’s not a credible example, really, because they kind of let you know a little bit of things. And sure, you can download the data, and that’s a business that Twitter has had for a long, long time, where you can download the data to detect patterns and these sorts of things, but it’s not really letting go of their trade secrets, and that’s where the value is.
KP: That one of the concerns I would have is that politicians, though, rarely want to regulate or legislate. There’s this whole kind of mantra like, oh, no, we’ll let you do your thing, whether it’s the market or whatever. Politicians don’t like to regulate, they don’t like to legislate, and they’re in the rub for me.
BBC: Well, I think there are politicians and politicians, if I can anticipate what I.
TN: Mean, I live in America. Politicians here love to regulate.
BBC: Maybe economics. Tell me there’s a funny aspect of this that Brazil almost seems to be shadowing the US. In a funny sort of way. A similar kind of president, perhaps, in Bolsonaro to what we saw with Trump and some of the same economic issues.
TN: Yeah, I really don’t follow Bolsonaro all that closely, although I know he’s populist and he’s had some new economic measures go out recently that were very populous. So from that respect, you may be right. I think Brazilians have seen Lula before, and they’ve seen Bolsonaro before, so they know what to expect from each president. So at least they’re voting with their eyes open because they know how each performed in previous administrations.
BBC: Yeah, which may of course, be what’s informing the polling, if we believe the polling at the moment. Exactly. And tell you, one of the aspects always seems to me is this is the classic sleeping giant. I mean, it’s an enormous country with enormous resources, and one always bumps into Brazilians. Almost everyone goes, you still about China in a way. It’s a sleeping giant of this. It’s odd that a country like this hasn’t risen to its proper position in the global economy.
TN: Well, but it’s getting there. If you look at, for example, the AG exports that Brazil provides to China, it is a major supplier of the Chinese economy with AG and metals. So Brazil is getting there, and it’s gradually building up. Of course, there’s still a lot of poverty there, and I don’t know of administration in Brazil, and maybe I’m overstepping here, but I don’t know of an administration in Brazil that hasn’t been accused of corruption. Lula was, Temerer was.
BBC: They all are. I think it seems to be a regular thing. True or not, it seems to be there.
TN: Right the time I was absolved. So I just want to make that clear. But they were accused of that coming out of office.
BBC: Of course, one of her key issues is what happened on January 6. She’s on the Congressional committee investigating that at the moment. So meanwhile, Mr. Trump has backed a candidate rivaling her, Harriet Huggerman, who opinion polls suggests will easily win the Republican nomination for the seat. Miss Cheney earlier urged Democrats to register as Republicans in order to boost her slim prospect. I mean, Tony, this is an extraordinary sort of development in a way, because this change is close. It comes really to Republican royalty, isn’t she?
TN: Unfortunately, yes. So we don’t really like royalty in American politics. And so I think part of the problem here is that Lynn Cheney is in the House of Representatives and she represents a state that, whether she likes it or not, is very pro Trump. And so she is not representing her constituents. And at the end of the day, that’s really what this story comes down to, is when a representative is elected by a state, the people expect that representative to actually represent their views in Washington, DC. That’s how the US legislature works. And what’s happened is Liz Cheney has decided that she doesn’t want to represent the people of Wyoming and she wants to have her own views and do things that they don’t want her to do. And that’s really what this comes down to.
BBC: Isn’t there an issue here, though, to do with you delegate and representative? I mean, many people who represent an area in the legislature aren’t necessarily going to transmit the views of the people who elected them because they were elected to have their views heard in the parliament or wherever it is.
TN: In the US Congress. In the House of Representatives. They have two year tenure and they have to be elected every two years. And that’s to ensure that we have a diversity of opinion in Washington, DC. Whether or not one likes Trump or doesn’t like Trump doesn’t matter. I think the issue here is that Liz Cheney is not representing the views of her constituents and they have every prerogative to vote her out. And that’s really what this is about. The people of Wyoming, I haven’t seen the results. I don’t think polls are closed yet.
BBC: But no, I think they’re still open. This Cheney represents the people of Wyoming, not just it is predominantly a Republican, as you say, but not just the Republican Party. She represents the people who voted for it.
TN: But there is one representative from Wyoming. And so, yes, she represents the people of Wyoming. But if she’s a representative of a political party and she’s elected by that political party and the voters in that, so the Republican Party of Wyoming has actually censored her. So they’ve told her that the actions she’s taking are not endorsed by the republican Party of Wyoming. She’s known for over a year. So shortly after the 2020 election, they censored her. And so she’s been way out of bounds for almost two years because it’s the party, she has to go through the party system at the state level to get on the ballot for the primary, so she can win the primary to win the election. And so she really does report to the people and to the party in Wyoming. So it’s kind of the ugly side of democracy, but there is accountability in representation.
BBC: Well, clearly, but I suppose the other thing is that I’ve heard reported is that Liz Cheney, in terms of her views, apart from on the subject of Donald Trump, her views aligned pretty perfectly with most of the Republican voters of Wyoming. Very conservative on most issues. It does seem to be Trump. That’s the issue. Which seems strange to hear that this man still has so much influence over almost everything that happens in US politics.
TN: I don’t know that that’s the case. I think, to be very honest, I think Trump is good for US media and I think US media love covering Trump. Trump has very little to do with a lot that goes on. But if you watch US media, every day has a story about Trump and that story gets the most clicks and the most views. So whether or not Trump has something to do with the story, us media love to make the story about Trump because they know they will get traffic on that story.
BBC: But the reason they get traffic on the story is because people are interested in them. It’s a circle, isn’t it?
TN: Well, I don’t know. I think most people would like to understand what the actual issues are exclusive of Trump, but with the obsession that US media have on Trump, people just can’t get away from it because you have a kind of a splintered media environment in the US. And a lot of that is partisan to the left and to the right. So people can get partisan news really anywhere. But it’s the main US media that really seemed to have this obsession with Trump that they just can’t quit because he gets views and he gets airtime and people watch their shows when he’s on it.
BBC: That would be true in Texas as well as Wyoming, where you are.
TN: Anywhere in the US.
If a story is about Trump, some people intensively hate him, some people intensively love him, and people are in the middle and you just cannot avoid it. You just can’t avoid it.
BBC: Penny I mean, your neck of the woods, I guess that might be where the William Mammoth ends up if colossal get their way. How do you feel about all this, Penny?
TN: Well, it’s a Texas company that did it exactly. Maybe they just wanted more things to hunt, right? We like to hunt in Texas.
BBC: Everything is big. Of course, in Texas. So that makes some sense.
TN: Yeah. So if we do make woolly mammoths, great. And I think I’m kidding about the hunting, but I think it’s really interesting as different species are, say, overhunted or whatever, I’m curious how they’ll be accepted once they’re reintroduced. So let’s say someone is the first farmer to find this to be a pest and shoots it. So how will that person be treated if this marsupial is reintroduced?
This past week, we had a flat S&P 500. Nasdaq was up slightly. Bond yields were up slightly. It was a summer stall this week. Not a lot happening from the beginning to the end of the week. In this episode, we’re going to focus on geopolitics.
Is India a geopolitical trendsetter?
China, MBS & Biden – BFFs?
What does Turkey get out of halting NATO expansion?
What’s ahead for next week?
This is the 21st episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
0:00 Start 1:36 India as a geopolitical trendsetter now? 3:55 US is frustrated with India? What’s going? 7:35 Is India being ridiculously nationalistic? 8:00 China, MBS, and Biden as BFFs? 10:08 How does MBS look at Biden with China opening up? 11:31 Awkward and Desperate: Is the US-Saudi a short-term diplomatic issue? 14:45 Is there any place they can go for energy supply? 16:00 What does Turkey get out of halting the NATA expansion? 20:20 What impacts on some countries by opening the Bosphorus. 21:22 What is DC thinking and do out of the gun discussions? 24:24 What to expect for the week ahead?
Listen to the podcast version on Spotify here:
TN: Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And as always, we’re joined by Sam, Albert, and Tracy. Before we get started, could you please like and subscribe? It’s very important. But here’s what’s more important today. If you could comment on the episode, we would appreciate it. We check that stuff every week. If you disagree with us, if you think we’re full of it, let us know and let us know why. Okay.
So this week, this past week, we had a flat S&P 500. Nasdaq was up slightly. Bond yields were up slightly. Kind of a summer stall this week. Not a lot happening from beginning to end of the week. So we’re going to focus on geopolitics this week.
We’re looking at a few things. Is India a geopolitical trendsetter now? That’ll be a really interesting discussion. Second, we have China, MBS, and Biden as BFFs. So let’s see what’s there. What does Turkey get out of halting NATO expansion? Really, Turkey becoming a real geopolitical linchpin. And then we’ll have a quick chat on what we expect for the week ahead.
So first is India as a geopolitical trendsetter. India recently has halted some commodity exports. They’ve done some deals with Russia for energy, and they’ve been really independent. And India’s typically independent with foreign policy. But I’m curious if we can look at, say, the energy deals first, Tracy, can you help us understand a little bit about that, and what is India doing there?
TS: Well, I mean, absolutely. First of all, India has been complaining about oil price and saying that it’s unsustainable for them for months now, right. As we’ve been over $100. And so when they were typically not really buying anything from Russia.
However, after the Ukraine invasion, then we had that discount. The Euro to Brent discount fell to almost $40 at one point. So India started buying a lot of oil from Russia, obviously, because it’s less expensive. And they said outright energy security is more important to us right now than anything else because they are also having issues with coal. And whatnot really that’s their focus right now.
And so what we think is that likely they’ll probably become a semi permanent customer of them and probably will take in about 500,000 barrels per day going forward. So what is coming off of the European market is actually going to India and China.
TN: A lot of Westerners don’t understand that India and Russia or the former Soviet Union have had a long political ties, longtime political ties, and those long term political ties tend to come up when people need friends. There is a connection between India and Russia that a lot of Westerners don’t understand.
Albert. I guess the US tends to do this very binary. You’re with us or against us. And I would imagine that the White House and State Department, if we actually have a State Department, that they’re a little bit frustrated with India. What’s going through the US’s mind with the India relationship right now?
AM: Well, this is basically goes back to Obama, actually, with his animosity towards Modi. But the Biden, State Department and the DoD just have this naive idea of how things work in the world. India, like you said, the Russian ties with India are long standing because they use them as a counterbalance against the Chinese aggression. Right.
If you look at a map, because I always say this on Twitter, look at a map before you start talking about geopolitics. India’s surrounded by Pakistan, China, all these other proxies to China and Russia. So they can’t afford they can’t afford to sit there and poke the Hornets nest in the region because it’ll just come back at them. I mean, Pakistanika starts things in Kashmir.
The Chinese have been building mountaintop air bases to stress India over the watershed in the Himalayas. There’s so many issues that the Indians have to deal with and balance that with their Western counterparts, animosity with the dealings with Russia. It’s not that complex if you sit there and talk about it for 15 minutes. But for some reason, our State Department just can’t come to grips with that. And it’s actually causing quite the damage of the state relations of United States and India right now.
And you can talk about the Chinese component and how they stress India because they’re a major competitor in the manufacturing sector.
SR: And not to mention that India has always been a very large importer of energy. And it’s a critical part of their development going forward. And they’re a 1.1 billion population. If you begin to have significant problems with energy prices and food prices, that’s a big problem for a democracy in that part of the world.
And not to mention, I think it’s somewhat hypocritical for the US government to be so mad about them buying 500,000 barrels a day when you still have Europe buying oil and gas every single day and being like, well, maybe we’ll be done by the end of the year.
SR: The number of hypocrites that just keep coming out. Is India really our friend? It’s like, well, it’s Germany, it’s France, Italy.
TN: Those are valid questions.
SR: I mean, to me, it’s a little bit insincere for us to continuously be pounding on India for trying to survive as a democracy. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
TN: Well, you conveniently overlook the fact that India regularly imports energy from Iran. Korea places like Korea regularly import energy from Iran. The State Department and White House regularly just overlook things conveniently because they want to. Right. But when it comes to Russia, for some reason, it’s a major issue.
So one quick thing I want to talk about with regard to India, and this has happened with some other Asian countries where India stopped exporting sugar and a few other commodities. We saw Indonesia stopped exporting, say, palm oil and a few other things. So this has been kind of painted as some sort of nationalistic action.
My contention has been, look, a nation state has the kind of obligation to look after their own people first. What do you guys think about that? Is India being ridiculously nationalistic by not exporting sugar and a few other things?
AM: Absolutely not. I mean, this is a case of survival, not just for India, but for multiple countries. Egypt recently, Morocco and all the other North African countries are following suit. I mean, they got to feed their own people. You can’t have your own citizens miss meals because pitchforks and torches start coming out.
TN: Yes, I think that’s a perfect way to say it. Okay, let’s move on to kind of a little bit of a crazily, delicately balanced series of relationships with China, MBS in Saudi Arabia, and Joe Biden. There’s been talk of a trip of a Biden trip to Saudi Arabia, which is a little bit awkward given the fact that MBS wouldn’t take his phone call last month. And then we’ve got China as energy importer. There are a number of levers there.
So, Sam, actually, Tracy, can you take us down that path a little bit on the energy side of what happens there and why that is so important?
TS: Well, I mean, I think it’s a thing. Relations have already been strained. Right. So I think it’s too little, too late. And second of all, to go ahead and think that Saudi Arabia or OPEC, for that matter, can lower oil prices in the US or lower gasoline prices in the US is completely misguided. We should be focusing domestically on what we can be doing here instead of banking other countries.
TN: Let me stop you right there and ask the refinery capacity is like the highest it’s been in 20 years or something, right? 92.4% or something.
TS: Yeah, it was 92.7% this week. The prior week was we were at 93.4%. So we’re pretty much at we’re cranking it out. We definitely need more refining capacity going forward. We haven’t had a major refinery built since 1977. Brownfield projects, but not real Greenfield projects.
TN: Okay. Going back to the Biden-Saudi visit, Sam, what are your thoughts on that? And if you can throw a little bit of China analysis, if China is actually opening up. How does MBS look at Biden with the potential of China opening up more aggressively?
SR: I think he looks at it as a little bit desperate. Right. And probably wants quite a bit out of doing anything. And to begin with, Sunny doesn’t have that much fair capacity. There’s not a whole lot they can do very quickly, maybe release some stocks, et cetera, but there’s not a whole lot they can do to get oil on the market quickly. And there’s a lot less that they can do to magically make diesel.
We don’t have the amount of diesel out there that we need. And we are building a refinery, and a refinery takes three to five years to build. So good luck with that. So I think it’s going to smack is a little bit desperate to MBS, and I think there’s going to be a pretty good bargaining spot for him to be in, given that China has largely shut down for a month and a half to two months, maybe reopening, and that’s going to be another tailwind to oil consumption.
And if you all of a sudden have higher oil consumption coming out of China, that’s going to be a problem for oil prices, even from $1.20, $1.15 where we’re sitting right now. That’s a tailwind that I think MBS kind of has a little bit of a grin on his face saying, hey, nothing I can do here.
TN: Right? And tell me a little bit more about the political dynamics there. Does the US and Saudi Arabia, is this kind of a short-term, say, diplomatic issue, or is it something longer term?
AM: Well, you and Sam said two key words, “awkward” and “desperate.” At the moment, Biden going to Saudi Arabia to meet with the King, which was rejected, so they’re actually pushing them off to MBS is such a black eye to the United States foreign policy. Unbelievable. I mean, at this point, you’re going to have Joe Biden go meet with MBS, who Biden’s cabinet brought up Khashoggi not too long ago, which prompted the phone call to be not even taken by the Saudi, leader of a US President. I can’t even remember when last time US President was ignored by the Saudi Arabians. I mean, it’s a disaster in the making that will probably take a good ten to 15 years to rectify.
The Saudis, what are they really going to do? A couple of hundred thousand barrels extra in a pump just to make Joe Biden happy? It’s not going to do anything. I mean, swallowed up by demand almost instantly. But when it comes to the political stuff, you have a realignment between Saudi Arabia, Russia and China happening right under our noses. And it seems to be just completely missed by the State Department of Biden administration.
SR: And to Albert’s point here, and I think it’s an extremely, extremely important point. Saudi doesn’t need the US anymore. Saudi needed the US for a while. We were their biggest customer. We are not their largest customer by a mile, and we’re unlikely to be their largest customer ever again.
So their pivot towards Asia and away from the US makes strategic sense for them. And that, to me, is an understated long term fundamental issue facing the US-Saudi relationship.
AM: That’s exactly right, Sam. And the only other component that actually contradicts that is because of the security situation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Saudis need US armaments, they need the relationship with Israel, and they need to re-mend relationships with Turkey. But if Russia at this point, if they’re not poking the Iranians to mess with the Saudis, there’s really no real desperate need by the Saudis for the US defense umbrella at the moment and they can just be free to sell to the Chinese, the Asians and whoever else. And remember that Biden attempted to go to Venezuela to try to get them to pump more, but then realized that while their refinery is broken down and can’t really produce anything at the moment.
SR: So the Arabians went to fix it.
AM: There’s a lot of hypocrisy and a lot of awkward things that’s coming out of the Biden administration right now for geopolitical issues concerning the Saudis.
TN: It’s amateur hour, guys. Lincoln is a joke, often as a joke. I can’t believe it’s embarrassing where we are right now. Tracy, is there any place else they can go for supply right now?
TS: If you look at OPEC, OPEC can’t even produce what their current quote is, right? Because you have too many, too many laggards. So it doesn’t really matter. I mean, they’re 2 million barrels plus below quota last month. So it doesn’t matter if they keep raising or not. They just don’t have the spare capacity. And a lot of the smaller countries are having problems with production.
There’s nowhere else to go. Right. Especially if you’re trying to push Russia out, which is, depending on the month, the second or third largest producer. Right.
TN: Okay. And I think we can all agree that if we just buy electric cars, that would solve everything.
TS: Oh, absolutely. With the announcement that we’re going to have rolling blackouts in the Midwest this summer, I’m sure that rush right out and get EVs should help us.
TN: Right? Exactly. Okay. Let’s move on to Turkey and get really interested in the power dynamics with Turkey right now and their veto power over NATO expansion and some of their control of energy going through the Bosphorus. Turkey has really emerged as a real regional power.
I remember reading about this with George what’s his name’s book the next 100 years, reading that Turkey would be really powerful. This was a 20 year old book. Right. George Freedman. Right. And so it hasn’t happened exactly as he thought. But at the time I thought, “no, Turkey can’t reemerge.” And it’s happening right now. Right.
Albert, can you talk us through what does Turkey get out of halting NATO expansion?
AM: Well, a few things actually, quite. They really want to stop the Kurdish money system support system coming out of the Scandinavian countries because that’s where a lot of the money and support groups based themselves out of Stockholm and parts of the Baltic area. So they really want to stop that. Right. But that’s not really what they’re after because the Scandinavians put a block on their sales of arms. Right. So the Turks obviously want to sell their drones.
They want to sell some military equipment to the EU and to other players in the region. The Turks, they have a big economic problem. Right. And so they’re using every point of leverage they possibly can use. They’re trying to press the EU to give more loans, trying to stress the refugee situation, trying to stress the energy situation, trying to stress the food situation through the Bosphors. And I’ll let Sam and Tracy touch on that.
But for them right now, if you look at it like I said, with India, look at a map. Turkey right now is arguably the most geostrategic position in the entire world right now with concerns to wheat, gas, oil, refugee status. You can just pick a topic and Turkey is pretty much top five.
TN: Okay. Sam talked us through kind of from a macro perspective. What does that mean? What opportunities does that bring up?
SR: I mean, it brings leverage, right? It brings incredible amount of leverage, particularly as you begin to have Sri Lankan type issues. Go to North Africa. The easiest way for North Africa to solve its problems is for Turkey to solve the problems very quickly by opening the Bosphorus or doing something along those lines. So I think from a macro perspective, it’s really about leverage and what type of leverage they want. Right.
They actually manufacture really good, fairly cheap drones. That’s a pretty easy thing for NATO, the EU, to kind of give them a pound on the back and say, okay, yeah, go. Right. That’s something that they can actually do. And quite frankly, if you’re Sweden and Finland, guess what? You don’t really have a choice.
Turkey is going to be selling drones. Turkey is going to have some leverage on what they get to do, and you’re not going to be able to veto it or you’re going to be sitting there like a sitting duck for the next time that Putin decides he wants a little extra territory.
TN: Right. Okay.
AM: And to expand on that, Tony, the Turks, in sort of cooperation with the Iranians and the Russians, have been moving into Africa using old Ottoman trading post colonies, I mean, through West Africa, North Africa, Horn of Africa, everywhere. And there’s been absolutely no talk about it, no counteraction against it. They’re acting as if they were a major superpower with no one really putting them in their place.
TN: Well, this potentially could turn into I don’t know how much you guys know about Ottoman history 1860s, 18870s, debt load that the Turks had and the refinancing that the British and French came in to do it. And I wonder if that’s where we’ll be in five or ten years. It’s really interesting to see how that Ottoman history played through and see if that happens again with Turkey. I hope it doesn’t, because that ended up leading to World War One. But this could be really interesting.
Tracy, they opened the Bosphorus. What impact does that have on some of these countries, like Egypt and North African countries and say, Lebanon and some of these other countries that are really desperately waiting for some things out of Russia and Ukraine?
TS: Yeah. I mean, obviously that’s going to help. We’re going to get some wheat out. It looks like that is going to happen and that we are starting to see shipments flow that’s obviously going to ease tensions. Hungry people tend to revolt. So something needed to be done, in other words. And so it looks like that’s starting to happen, which is obviously a good thing.
TN: Great. Okay. I want to spring a kind of a surprise topic on you guys just really quickly. It’s a big debate in the US since we’re talking geopolitics. Guns on top of everyone’s mind. Some shootings in the States over the past few weeks.
Albert, I know, you know, DC probably better than all of us. So can you walk us through really quickly? Excuse me, what is DC thinking? What will likely happen in DC out of all of the gun discussions?
AM: Well, because it’s an election year, probably nothing. And I’ll tell you what. In politics, you cannot take a singular issue, isolate it and solve the problem. It doesn’t work like that. So, for instance, and this is something I always stress about. When you look at guns, you have to look at it as what voters intentions are and feelings are with the guns because they’re electing their members. Right.
When you have guns, they’re typically rural Americans that are religious, that have views on abortion and are farmers. Right. What’s under farmlands? Oil. So not only do you have to tackle the religious voter, the anti abortion voter, the rural farm voter, but then also big oil that actually funds all these people. So you can’t take guns alone and say, I’m going to solve it without agitating another 40 million Americans and Senate races are completely dependent on rural voters, not so much urban because that tends to go Democratic anyways. But there is actually swing cities and swing areas on top of the conservative areas that there’s a political calculation and numbers game that has to be played.
So for this year, I don’t see anything happening with guns at all. Maybe something extremely minor, but nothing that would actually be effective.
TN: For people who are non Americans, what do people outside of America not understand about the gun discussion in the US?
AM: It’s a cultural thing. The United States prides itself on being a system of checks and balances. Right. And for guns, Americans tend to think we are not going to let our government intrude and overtake us. That’s our checks and balances to dictatorships. Right. Authoritarian systems.
As other issues come up from the left and come up from the right, just everyone’s going to get more pulverized on this. There’s never going to be 100% solution. The Europeans are definitely not going to understand why Americans love their guns. But it’s just…
TN: Europeans, Australians, Asians, they don’t actually some in Asia get it.
AM: Some in Asia get it. The Swiss hilariously get it. They’re mandatory. They have Pentagon, everyone’s. And it’s unfair for the rest of the world to compare a small country of like, say, 10 million people statistically to the United States that has 350,000,000 plus people out there, the giant system.
AM: We’re doing our best and nothing is a perfect system and we’re getting towards it. But it’ll take decades.
TN: Yes. Okay, good. I just wanted to cover that off since it’s been such a big topic lately. Okay, guys, the week ahead. We had a kind of a lackluster week this week. Tracy, what do you see happening in the week ahead? Crude actually had a fantastic week. What do you see going on next week in, say, energy and commodities?
TS: I’m still bullish energy and commodities. From a technical standpoint, we broke out of a technical pattern. Right. I don’t see anything changing, in other words, in the physical landscape, I mean, markets are tight. We have a structural deficit. The whole complex is in bacridation. So I expect energy prices to stay high. Really? I don’t think Biden’s meeting is going to do anything.
TN: Right. Okay. Very good. Shannon, what are you looking for?
SR: More chop. A lot more chop. I think the jobs report on Friday, there was a quote that it was goldilocks-ish it was not goldilocks-ish if you’re the Fed. The Fed saw a lot of jobs created. It’s a participation tick up and it’s average hourly earnings still sitting at 5.5% for everyone on a year over year basis. Those are three things that they don’t really want to see sitting that high.
SR: It’s that simple. They would be much happier with 100,000 jobs created or lower. I think they want a couple of negative prints. An average hourly earnings that’s closer to 2% year over year. That means that the wage price spiral isn’t happening. And they really want an awful lot of call it pain in the inflation space. So you’re not really seeing anything to knock the Fed off of its current path. And if anything, you probably gave it a little bit of a tailwind to some more hawkish rhetoric.
Brainard being a Hawk? That should scare everyone. Because when Brainard comes out as a Hawk, that’s a signal.
TN: That’s weird.
SR: That’s a signal that they’re going and they’re going hard.
TN: Yeah, that’s upside down world weird. And then was it May said out yesterday saying they could do another fifty in September?
SR: Yeah. After the print on Friday, guess what, this is the best part about the Brainard statement is she said in order to have a better balance in the labor market, they need to see job openings decline.
This is critical, though. Job openings are reported a month lagged to everything else. Right. So in September, they’re going to be looking at maybe August.
TN: Let me ask you this. Elon Musk was out this week saying, hey, if you’re not going to come back to the office, we’re going to consider that you resigned. Are we going to see more CEOs do that? And could that potentially have an impact on the jobs numbers?
SR: Not really. One, Musk, then he said we’re over staffed by 10% across salaried workers. So the statement for Musk was probably more to get some natural attrition. So we didn’t have to actually lay off people because it’s a lot cheaper when people quit than it is when people get laid off. And Musk needs a couple of headlines because his Twitter deal was a really dumb idea.
TN: Yeah. And also I kind of preempted Musk by two years. I told my staff in June of 2020, but if you don’t show up, you could resign. So I was early on that boat. So Albert, what do you expect in the week ahead.
AM: Everyone saw Yellen come out and say I missed the inflation and how bad it’s going to be. That’s her getting ahead of the CPI print. It’s going to be a bad one. I think it actually could get close to 9% which would be not good for the markets.
On top of that Opex Fed minute coming up, I think we’re going to be like Sam said, I think there’s going to be some chop. They’re doing their best to keep this thing above 4200. So I think we’re going to be looking at probably push 4250 which is a bull bear line this week until CPI print comes in and then Armageddon.
TN: That’s what you said last week.
AM: That’s a 4200 on that Monday on futures.
AM: They tried but they sold it. Everyone’s just selling.
TN: Okay. So we have another chance this week.
TN: Great guys. Thank you very much. This has been a great discussion. Thanks so much and I really appreciate this. Have a great week ahead.
Yield curve inversion is on everybody’s mind and it only seems to be intensifying. It’s happened 4 times over the last 22 years. What does it mean, how does it impact Fed policy and how will it impact markets more broadly?
Energy prices are still a big problem and the Biden administration this week announced a very large release from the strategic petroleum reserve. Will this really bring down prices on a sustained basis? And what are some of the unintended consequences of the SPR release?
We’ve seen tech names rally pretty hard since mid-March like Alphabet and Meta. What’s happening and how long will the tech rally last?
Key themes from last week
Inverted yield curve and Fed policy
SPR release and crude market impacts
Key themes for the Week Ahead
Rubles for O&G. When will Europe give in?
Housing stocks and the housing market
Mixed messages of simultaneous stimulus and tightening (rate hikes with energy stimulus)
This is the 13th 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.
0:00 Start 1:00 Key themes of last week 1:29 What the yield curve means and how it impacts the Fed policy 4:50 The Fed has to break something? 6:33 Large release from SPR, will this bring down the crude prices? 8:30 Viewer question: Will Biden’s threat to US drillers produce the desired results? 12:19 Tech rally? 14:16 Key themes for the week ahead. 14:44 How long before Europe pays ruble for oil and gas? 18:52 Home builders VS real estate 21:00 What do people read from tightening, easing, and all the stimulus?
TN: Hi and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. I’m joined by Albert Marko, Sam Rines and Tracy Shuchart. Thanks for joining us. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Also, want to let you know about CI Futures, our subscription product. We cover thousands of assets and economic concepts on CI Futures. Our forecasts are refreshed every weekend. You come in Monday morning and have a brand new forecast each week. Right now we’re offering a special subscription price of $50 a month. Please go to completeintel.com/promo and find out more.
So this week we had a few key themes. First is the inverted yield curve curve and Fed policy. Second is the SPR release and crude market. And the third is around tech. Is there a comeback in tech?
Sam, you’re up first. Let’s talk about the yield curve. It’s on everyone’s mind and it only seems to be intensifying. It’s happened four times over the last 22 years. So Albert and Sam, can you help us understand what does it mean? How does it impact Fed policy? Are they going to be more cautious going forward and how will it import markets more broadly?
AM: Well, Tony, concerning the inverting the yield curve, Jerome Powell doesn’t really want to do that. However, Janet Yellen does want to invert the yield curve. This is the divide that’s been throwing off the market analyst for quite a long time, quite a while now, actually, myself and I just found out and realized where the divide was. And normally in a deep quad for to take something from hedgeeye’s commentary, the only things that you can buy are Treasuries and gold. And right now Powell will be fighting a tide because of the long dated treasure is the number one thing to own in that scenario. So trying to protect stocks while hurting housing, and then you have Yellen that’s trying to protect housing. It’s quite a mess. And it’s probably something like Sam can actually detail the inverted yield curve on.
TN: So why are there are two camps just to go into that down that trail for a second?
AM: Well, it’s a policy, it’s ideology, basically. Yellen did this before in 2013, 2014, I believe. And Powell is not really an economist. He’s a lawyer. So he’s probably hearing it from his little circle of miscreants. So that’s where that’s coming from.
TN: People, whoever is listening.
AM: I’m sure they’re fine people. I’m sure they are. I think Yellen is probably correct in this instance, but we’ll see how that plays out.
TN: Okay, Sam, what do you think?
SR: Yeah, in inverted yield curve, generally, everybody’s like, hey, recession on the horizon. In reality, yeah. I mean, there’s always a recession at some point on the horizon. And what the yield curve tells you is that there’s one coming in the future. No kidding. But it’s not good for one timing, a recession period.
TN: So we’ve got the 2/10 spread on the screen right now. So can you tell us what does that mean and how much importance does that hold with that two and ten yield spread going negative?
SR: I mean, it’s something to pay attention to. I mean, the market is telling you something with that. There is some signal, even if there’s noise in there as well, that the Fed is going to go very, very quickly and is likely to break housing or break something else or break housing and something else. And that’s going to probably cause inflation to come back down. Right.
The market does not believe that or at least fixed income market does not believe that inflation is going to be a problem in ten years, does not believe that the Fed is going to be able to hold interest rates very high for very long. And that’s why you get the 2/10s inverted. Right. The Fed is going to go above what the “natural rate or the stall rate” is for the US economy.
TN: Right. So we’ve been saying for several weeks the demand destruction is the only way that the Fed is going to solve supply side inflation. And the last couple of weeks you’ve talked about the Fed breaking something at this point, the Fed almost has to break something. Right? I mean, Volker broke something in the early 80s. Right. Something has to be broken.
SR: Yes. Something has to be broken or you’re not going to solve the inflation issue. And you have to do it. You have to do it in a pretty rapid manner of tightening in order to get the inflation levels that we have now back to something somewhat reasonable in a time frame that is adequate. But again, it doesn’t tell you what’s going to break. We talked about it last week. Housing looks sick. Housing equities look sick. It does not look great, but it doesn’t tell you much about the broader market. Right. It’s a lot of noise. You can say that it’s bad for equities, but generally it takes a while for it to be bad for equities.
TN: Okay, great. Now, JPMorgan put out a note this week. Everyone’s putting out notes about when rates are going to rise. They said 50 in May 50 in June. Are you thinking that or is that kind of on the edge of aggressive?
SR: I mean, it’s aggressive, but the Fed has very little choice but to be aggressive in this instance or it’s going to lose credibility further. And that’s an issue for it. Right. It doesn’t want to lose that little bit of credibility it has left to raising rates too slowly in an environment where it’s getting the green light to do so from markets. Markets have it priced in. Why not do it?
TN: Yeah. If someone said in January that we’d be raising 50 in May, 50 in June, I think you’d be laughed at. But now it’s taken seriously. So it’s just really interesting to see the iteration of that expectations.
Okay. Speaking of inflation, let’s move on to energy prices. Tracy, obviously, there’s still a big problem. And this week, the Biden administration announced a very large release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. You’ve been all over this, including the Tweet you sent out on Thursday, which is on our screen talking about logistical issues.
So the main question I think for most people is will this bring down oil prices on a sustainable basis? So can you talk to us about that and some of the unintended consequences of the SPR release?
TS: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not enough to keep oil prices sustainably lower. Right. It doesn’t fix the structural supply deficit that we have years to come. Also, this slows shale growth because it disincentivizes shale producers from drilling more, which actually needs to be done and also creates potential logistical bottlenecks because we’ve never released this much before. That could cause congestion on the Gulf Coast. And that Tweet is up I think, talking about the bottlenecks there.
And then there’s another issue that has not been discussed yet broadly. And that’s because the SPR is aging. Right. And so we’ve had releases before where we’ve seen degradation in oil. And in 2015, they approved the $2 billion upgrade to the SPR, which is not going to be done until 2025. That said, what they did is they did everything except for the distribution centers. So what will happen is we need to see if we can actually get a million barrels per day pushed through. So there’s a lot of obstacles here.
TN: So it’s a sentimental kind of downside for oil right now. Nothing’s really released yet. And it doesn’t seem all that feasible that it’ll come out soon. Right. So supply chain issues like we’re seeing everywhere else.
So we had a viewer question from @VandanaHari_SG. It says, to what extent will Biden’s threat to us drillers to drill or get off the lease, produce desired results? You mentioned Frackers earlier. Will we see much movement there?
TS: No. Biden did call for Congress to make this decision. Personally, I do not believe that this will actually get passed by Congress. That said, again, this disincentivizes oil companies from producing more because it’s not that easy to just turn on wells. They’re facing labor shortages. They’re facing supply chain shortages. It’s not that easy to do that.
So if you tell them we’re going to tax you on this, then if they abandon those wells, then it’s going to take that much longer to get them back online when they are ready to. So all in all, it’s a horrible idea. Again, I do not see Congress passing this whatsoever.
TN: It’s complicated. And I think that’s the thing that we live in a world that likes to simplify things a lot. Right. And we like to say we’re going to do X, we’re going to do Y, we’re going to do Z. And the implementation of this stuff seems to be a lot more complicated Than we hear from, say, these non experts that talk to us all day long on TV or social media.
TS: Exactly. I mean…
TN: We can’t just wave a wand fixed supply.
TS: And turn on oil wells. I mean, regardless, we run through our DUC supply. Right. And that’s why we’re seeing slower oil production. The monthly EIA monthly just came out yesterday. It was 11.37 million barrels instead of 11.6 million that they were estimating in the weekly. And so what happens is that you’re pulling down DUC wells, which are the ones that you can get up easily, and then you’re putting all these restraints on oil companies and threatening them with taxes and things of that nature.
To get a well online from start to finish is six to twelve months. People don’t realize it’s not let’s snap our fingers and tomorrow we’re spreading oil.
TN: It’s not exactly a nudge. Right? Remember, under the Obama administration, they really focused on condomin and the nudge and all that stuff. This is kind of the opposite of that. It’s like the bludgeon.
TN: Yeah, exactly.
TS: Doing what they want. Right. Sorry. Go ahead.
AM: No, this is just political rhetoric. I mean, they’re better off just jumping into the oil futures market and trying to drive it down. This is just talk by the Biden administration. There’s really no substance to it.
TN: Can they jump into the futures market and short it and drive the price down?
AM: Who says they haven’t? Okay. You’re looking at 127 price and all of a sudden it’s down in the 90s. Is this crypto crude? What are we doing here?
TN: Okay, that’s a good point. All right.
SR: Just one last point to that. I know Tracy actually think Tracy tweeted this out a couple of weeks ago. The latest Dallas Fed survey of oil companies made it pretty clear that a lot of them at no, they don’t care where the prices. They’re not increasing their output. They put that on paper and put that in the survey. I think that’s worth remembering is that this is a less price sensitive reaction than people are going to give credit for.
TN: Okay, great, guys. That’s fantastic. Let’s move on to equities. Albert, we’ve seen tech stocks rallied pretty hard for the last couple of weeks since about March 14th. We’ve got chart for Alphabet and Facebook on the screen right now. Sorry. Meta on the screen right now. What’s happening to tech? What’s happened over the last couple of weeks and how long do you expect them to rally?
AM: Well, they’ve used tech, maybe a dozen names to rally the market. This is well known. I mean, if you look at those names that you have listed along with AMD, Nvidia and Adobe, they can be up to 30, 40% of the call action on a given day. It’s kind of silly, but honestly, it’s like this is a zero rate economy at the moment. So as our rates go up. Yeah. So as our rates go up, I don’t see how tech is going to rally much further.
TN: Okay, Go ahead.
TS: I’ll just throw in that just because BAMO came out with their weekly flows that we’ve had, tech market was $3.1 billion, which is the highest in two months.
TN: Okay. Interesting. All right. So if we go with the note that came out that in May and June will see 50 basis point rises, and you’re saying tech can’t continue to rally into higher interest rates, are you saying we’re looking at that type of horizon for tech to not be as attractive?
AM: Yeah, unless they reverse course come June or July. I don’t see how tech can really rally to what their all time highs were a couple of months. I don’t see it.
TN: Sam, does that make sense to you?
SR: It does make sense to me. I think the only saving grace for tech thus far has been that the long end of the curve hasn’t done much, and it actually looks a little sick at the moment in terms of yield. And that’s been a little bit of a semi tailwind, at least prop them up.
TN: Great. Okay, perfect. Let’s look at the week ahead. Some things we have for the week ahead are rubles for oil and gas. When will Europe give in? Housing stocks and the housing market? Sam mentioned that earlier. We’ll dive a little deeper into that and then the mixed messages around simultaneous stimulus and tightening, which I think is confusing some people.
So first, let’s dive into rubles for oil and gas. I did a quick Twitter survey earlier, which is up on your screen asking people how long before Europe caves and pays for oil and gas and rubles. Something like 70% of people think they’ll do that within two weeks. It’s just a Twitter survey. Some of those guys are experts. Some of those aren’t. Tracy, what do you think? Is that realistic?
TS: Putin actually came out today and said this is the plan. There is no backing out. However, it doesn’t include what you pretty much already bought. That means. So deliveries until most delivery until April 15, and then really in May 1 is where that really starts, where Europe will really have to start paying in rubles.
TN: So May 1 is when you think the rubles?
TS: May 1 is really when the bulk of this situation will come in hand because it’s not for what has already been ordered. Right.
TS: Does that make sense?
TN: You think we could see a trickle in mid April?
TS: Yeah, exactly. But I think that they’re going to have to do that. They really have no other choice unless they kind of want to plunge into the dark ages. Right there’s just not the backup plan is forming, but it’s just not there yet. So I think that they will concede even though they have a little bit of a time. They have 15 to 30 days to really. But you can’t move that fast. It’s not that easy to change suppliers that quickly.
TN: But we’ve talked about this a little bit. But what happens to say industrial output? German manufacturing if they decide not to do this? To be honest, it sounds like a pretty trivial thing to me to pay in another currency. There is a transaction cost to it. But if you’ve got a major economy, it doesn’t sound like something that you can really stand by insisting to pay in dollars. So what happens to German manufacturing? What happens to industrial cost Europe.
TS: It’ll actually plummet. I mean, BASF already came out and said we’re going to have to cut production if this happens. The German plan is basically to shut down manufacturing and to give residential the leeway if they have to start rationing. So that means if manufacturing starts shutting down in Europe, you’re in recession territory immediately.
AM: Yeah. They’ll find a way. They’ll find some special vehicle to sort this out. They got a little bit of time, like Tracy said, they got about two months really to sort this out. And anyways, the weather is starting to get warmer, so the less gas will be used. Anyway, I don’t see this to be really of a big problem. It’s just a lot of noise and a little bit of leverage from Russia on the sanctions that they are getting hit by well.
TN: But conceivably because of the embargoes on some of the banks in Russia, it could be a real issue with having funds rubles in Russian banks. No?
AM: I don’t think so. They can go between the Swiss, London will do it. It’s the same thing as the Yuan, renminbi, it’s like when they trade it for oil, the Saudis sell it in renminbi and goes to London, gets converted instantly and it’s dollars almost immediately to the seller. So I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
TS: I 100% agree that the currency doesn’t really matter because it’s still factored into what is the dollar value. Right. It doesn’t really matter or any in Europe’s case, what is Euro per megawatt hour?
Regardless, it’s not really the currency that matters so much. The fact is the currency is helping. What Russia is trying to do is that if you have to sell euros to buy rubles, that keeps the currency afloat.
TN: Right. Which we’ve seen it surge back this week to pre war levels. Okay, great. Let’s move on to homes and home builders. Sam, you mentioned the housing market and housing stocks earlier, and we’ve got on the screen a chart about US real estate and home builders and the divergence between those. And they’re usually pretty correlated. Can you talk us through your expectations for real estate relative to where homebuilders are trading right now?
SR: They’ll look like homebuilders pretty quickly here. It’s what the Fed is basically able to do in terms of the economy quickly. Right. If you’re going to tighten rates by two and a half percent in a year, plus quantitative tightening, that’s what you’re going to hit. You’re going to hit home builders and real estate. That’s generally what you’re going to hit and you’re going to hit it fast.
In particular, the shorter duration type real estate that’s benefited the most from zero rates. If the long end of the curve stays somewhat subdued, you’re probably fine if you have longer duration type retail or that type of lease. But the shorter term duration real estate type plays are going to be in some trouble here.
TN: Okay. And so you say it’s going to happen pretty quickly. Last week you said it’s going to happen in Q2. When I first heard that, I was a little bit surprised. But just seeing what’s happened over the past week, it’s been really surprising to me that things have moved so quickly. So I think you’re right. I’m really interested to see that happen.
Now. You also mentioned QT. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of the tightening and easing, the simultaneous tightening and easing that we have going on. And how do we expect that to move over the next week? So, Sam, you’ve been pretty insistent that QT is going to start in May, is that right?
SR: Oh, yes. Little doubt.
TN: Definitely going to start in May. Now we’ve got countries and States giving energy stimulus and other things happening. I wouldn’t be surprised if different forms of stimulus come out. So how does it work where we have really fairly significant stimulus coming out as we’re tightening? What do people read from that?
SR: I would say confusion. Right. If you’re trying to actually tackle if you’re trying to tackle inflation with monetary policy, that really has to break something in order to get it under control, and yet you’re giving people more leeway to not have something break more money in their pockets. It’s counterproductive. Right. So you begin to either have to tighten more or tighten quicker or both to get it under control or you have to stop it with the fence full fiscal.
TN: What are you hearing about that Albert out of DC?
AM: I was on this program. When was it? About a year ago, talking about tapering with Andreas, and I was against tapering. I never think it was going to happen, but because the fact that we just keep going on QE, how do you tighten when you have QE and the Fed balance sheet is still expanding by 100 billion plus a week. I mean, that’s not.
This is why there’s so much confusion in the market. Like Sam was saying, it’s just you talk about tightening. Meanwhile, you secretly spend $160 billion to pump the market. So which one is it? As an analyst, how do you even assess what you’re going to do over the next 30 days when the Fed’s confused? The Fed and Treasury is confused.
TN: So can we have that where we’re say doing tightening but helping equity markets continue to rise?
TS: I mean, is that just weird? Of course it does. It is weird. You can’t have monetary policy going head to head with fiscal policy. Right. So you’re having fiscal policy loosening. At least let’s look at the energy markets right now. You can’t have all of this stimulus and it’s not just from the United States. It’s from across the world is doing this and we’re going to see more of this every week of new countries come out and save money.
TN: Not in Japan. Japan is easing across the board.
TN: Everyone else.
TS: True. But of course, I agree completely with the Sam said it’s confusion in the markets because you are literally having central banks butting heads with governments right now.
AM: Yeah. And that’s something people don’t really pay attention to. It’s not simply the US federal reserve with the US economy, but it’s the federal reserve with all of anglesphere. They can have the Canadians or the UK do tightening while we do expansion and vice versa. They can do it unending. It’s unbelievable.
TN: So when do we know the direction? When do we know whether we’re tightening or easing? Do we come to a point like is May the end point for easing?
AM: I don’t know, Tony. I can’t really tell you that because they can say that they’re doing that and then we find out two months later that they didn’t do it and they can use all sorts of weird little gimmicks that they have control over.
TN: Okay, Sam, what do you think?
SR: I think the comment about the Anglosphere was really interesting because it’s 100% true, right. If you look at a lot of the EMS, they’ve been talking lightning for a year or at least nine months. So I think that’s the really intriguing kind of comment for me is the US is probably so late to the game that EM is going to be easing by the time the Fed actually accomplishes any sort of tightening.
TS: They’ll have to, they will have to.
SR: Which sets something interesting up, by the way.
SR: Which sets something interesting up for when that happens. But that’s down the road.
TN: It really does. Yeah. Remember synchronized easing and synchronized tightening a decade ago? I just feel we have so many mixed messages out there that it’s no wonder we have the volatility that we have in market. Okay. Thanks very much for this. I really appreciate it. Have a great week ahead.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
Our CEO and founder, Tony Nash, joins the BBC Business Matters podcast to discuss mainly the anniversary of the US Capital riot — and why most Americans don’t really care anymore. Also discussed are the patent-free Covid vax and the CES 2022 and the coolest thing in the event.
FN: Let’s go to Tony and the view from Texas. And I’m just wondering, Tony, we talked about, you know, viewing this from outside the nation’s capital. What have people been talking about today?
TN: Fergus, I gotta be really honest. No, nobody cares. I talked to students. I talked to business people. I talked to people across the country, and this is a DC event, and it’s drama that DC has conjured up and nobody in the rest of the country really cares. It’s just not a big deal for people.
FN: Okay, I’ll tell you why. I find that interesting. One thing. People travel to DC, right? For this event, whether they attended the rally or whether they actually went to the capital and took part. They weren’t DC residents, all of them. And the second thing is it’s a political thing right now, surely, across the country, there are politicians running on this event as a mandate. No?
TN: I don’t think so. No, I don’t think there are politicians running on this. You may have some politicians who are trying to run on this, but honestly, I just spoke to a couple of College students an hour ago and asked them what they thought about it. They didn’t care. I spoke to business people today and they just didn’t care. And they shrug it off as just something that’s in DC, and they shrug it off as the administration trying to distract attention. That is in the middle of the country.
That is the view from Chicago down to Texas and across the middle of the country. Nobody cares. And even in the capital building. So if these guys really wanted to overthrow the government and harm Congress people, they would have gone to the administrative buildings. I mean, these aren’t stupid people, but nobody else cares.
KA: I’m sorry, that’s not accurate. They were in the capital building.
TN: It is. Absolutely. We were in the administrative building.
TN: There were Congress people who weren’t even close to the administrative building.
FN: So, demonstrators sitting in the Speaker’s chair. Right.
TN: The demonstrators were there. The Congress people weren’t there at the end of the day. Fergus, look at the end of the day here’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about trespass and we’re talking about property crime. Okay. That’s why people don’t care.
FN: There were five fatalities.
TN: Yeah. The Capitol police shot a woman. Right.
FN: Tony, I want to pick up on your point about people in Chicago down to Houston, not caring. This is what you’re reflecting to us about. Hang on. Let me please ask. Does that mean that nobody from Houston up to Chicago, et cetera, in the middle of America believes the message that was behind this campaign because it strikes me that 48% of the Republican Party believe the message behind what happened a year ago.
TN: What message is that, Fergus?
FN: That the election was stolen. This is the message that President Trump continues. A former President Trump continues to put out and the message that those demonstrators sought to enact as they see it. When you say people don’t care, you’re suggesting that it’s done and dusted. And I’m suggesting to you that’s far from the case.
TN: I think it is done and dusted. And I think if you look at people like Ashley Babbitt, who was shot in the back as she was entering like she was unarmed and shot at the back, these were not people who were fighting for something. Right.
FN: All right. Tony, come in. You want to jump in there?
TN: Yeah. I think Rachel is absolutely right. With the Pelosi’s support of the storming of the entry into Ledgeco in 2019, I think the Apathy in the US is really just more exhaustion than anything. I think Americans are just tired of the partisan nonsense. They’re just exhausted by it. And I think people don’t care because they don’t see this coming to an end. And DC is a world unto itself. And most of America just doesn’t care anymore. Honestly.
FN: But at that point and Rachel’s point, I was just reflecting on some of Carrie Lam’s comments exactly a year ago. And this phrase double standards, she said foreign audience should set us. Do Americans recognize that as double standards?
TN: Oh, absolutely. Yes, absolutely. They do. Well, most do not all, of course. But I think most do. If you were to rewind to 2019 and show those tapes to many Americans, they would completely get it. We’re not the Cretans that everyone tries to make us out to be. We understand that.
FN: Tony Nash is with us from Houston, may well be familiar with many of the names we’ve been discussing in the last five, six minutes. Tony, let’s focus on the philanthropy first. Presumably, that’s something you recognize that when you don’t get federal funding, you don’t get the big sort of specific targeted funding that a lot of big Pharma got back at the beginning of the pandemic. You reach into donor sections.
TN: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And I think the Baylor College of Medicine did fantastic work here with the resources they had, and everyone here is proud of them. Texas is a huge force in medical like in public health, in oncology in many areas of healthcare. And this is just a very public view, public way of doing it. I love what they’re doing. It’s hard not to love what they’re doing.
FN: In terms of the generic issue. We’ve heard a lot about big Pharma is, I guess, easy to demonize, because a lot of the companies are making some very big returns on vaccines, and these people seem to be ready to maybe not give up the whole game, but essentially go for the generic version so that it can be spread more quickly and more cheaply.
TN: Well, all of the private sector vaccine developers, I think they got $20 billion from the US government in 2020, so those medicines have been paid for. They should give them out for free. All their IP should be open source. There should be nothing secret. The American people paid for the ones that were developed in the US. And I think as a foreign policy, we should open source that and let every country develop it at whatever cost they can.
FN: It would be a fantastic kind of diplomatic soft power, too. Wouldn’t it be?
TN: Absolutely would.
FN: And, Tony, I’m not sure how much you heard. There a quick thought from you as we end the program on the survival of Tech despite the pandemic?
TN: I think tech has thrived in the pandemic. And I’m glad to see shows like CES happening where people can go in person or be remote. I think it’s great to be in person. So I’m really happy to see it. And the coolest thing I saw at CES was a car that could change color because of nanotechnology in the paint. That was the coolest thing I saw there.
FN: Yeah, I saw that one online as well. That’s the purple thing I was referring to. Kind of Sci-Fi is real, I guess. All right, Tony, thank you very much. Indeed. Glad we got you back. Briefly. Sorry we lost the line halfway through there.
Returning guest Tracy Shuchart graced our QuickHit this week with interesting and fresh insights about oil and gas. What is she seeing on the industry — is it coming back to the normal levels, or better? Why she thinks oil will reach 70+ USD per barel? What’s happening on copper and why does its price going up? And is she seeing any surprises under the Biden administration?
Tracy Shuchart is the energy and material strategist for Hedge Fund Telemetry and she is a portfolio manager for a family office. She’s pretty active on Twitter with a large following. Check out her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chigrl
This QuickHit episode was recorded on November 24, 2020.
The views and opinions expressed in this QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
TN: We’re seeing a lot happening in markets on the energy side and in things like industrial metals. We’re starting to see some life back into energy not just food but even in energy companies who come a fair bit off of their loads that we saw in Q2 and Q3. Can you help us understand what’s happening there? Why are we seeing, if we see people walking down again in the US and locking down in Europe, why are we starting to see life in energy?
TS: Part of that reason is we are seeing a little bit of that rotation into value from growth and the energy sector has been really beat up. It’s finding a little bit of love just from that kind of rotation. But also, we’re seeing these lockdowns and things like that, but what people aren’t really realizing, because of all these lockdowns and things of that nature, we’re actually seeing demand up in other areas where there really was not so much demand before.
So everyone’s talking about nobody’s driving anymore. Nobody’s flying anymore. When you know in fact, everybody’s online, e-commerce, we’ve got cargo ships full in the port of Los Angeles. They’re lined up there. That’s shipping fuel. And it’s not just in Los Angeles. Asia’s seeing the exact same thing. Singapore. Trucking has become huge if you you know look at the truck index. It’s basically exploding from 2019-2018 levels because you you have trucks that have to go from the port of LA to all the way to Atlanta. You have everybody ordering on Amazon so you have all sorts of trucking going on. And even down to the little things like propane. They’re actually seeing double propane demand right now merely because everybody’s dining outside and it’s getting cold.
So demand showing up in these little places that typically didn’t have as much demand before. Recently, they were talking about the airlines this holiday season. That air travel is picking up in the United States. Domestic travel is almost completely back to normal in Asia and in China, particularly. So things aren’t as bad as it seems.
TN: So when we talk about oil and gas companies, we’re really starting to see some of those oil and gas companies to come back as well. We’ve spoken over the past six or nine months a couple times and it seemed like there were fundamental operating issues with those companies. Are you seeing those oil and gas companies cycle through their issues?
TS: A lot of the Q3 calls that I was on, a lot of these companies are changing their tune a little bit. We’ve also had a lot of of mergers and acquisitions in this space. We’ve had a lot of bankruptcies in the space. That pile, it’s gotten smaller. Only stronger surviving and not that I don’t think that they’re 100 in the clear, but the bigger names and the bigger companies are finding a little bit of love right now especially you see that in refining right now, because heating oil is actually pulling up that whole sector right now. The whole energy sector. Refiners were the first ones to really take off because refining margins are getting better as oil prices get higher and things of that nature. So that kind of started leading and then of course, they’re the safe havens likePBX, XOM, BP, Equinor…
Once people see oil getting some sort of footing, they’re more likely to move into those stocks. They’re beaten up. If you’re looking for value stocks, you want to look for something that’s 80 percent off the ties. It’s a bargain.
TN: We had also talked about crude prices would stay depressed into Q2 or something of next year of 21. Does that seem about right, still? Do we still expect things to stay in the low to mid 40s until Q2? Obviously, we’ll see bouncing around. I’m not saying I’ll never go above that. But do you expect people will think to stay in that range for the next two quarters or has that moved forward a little bit?
TS: That’s moved forward a little bit. I remember when we spoke last, we were talking it to the end of this year and I saw the upper 38s. Obviously that averaged this quarter so far. We’ll be a little bit higher. So I think that we’re still in that range. We’re not going to see a huge bounce in oil. Not yet, but it’s coming.
TN: You say it’s coming. What brings that about? Is it demand? Is it supply? Is it a massive shortfall? Where’s the pressure that would bring about that 70 plus?
TS: We’re going to have a supply shock just like we had a demand shock this time. We’ll have a supply shock just because of the sheer lack of Capex in the market and the sheer amount of companies that have gone under. I don’t think that you’re going to see shale back at 13.5 million barrels per day anytime in the near future ever again. A lot of those wells are closed. They’re gonna open them up again. It’s just not cost effective. So we lost a lot of producing capacity just because that. So as we move on and we move forward in time and flights come back and we start having more and more demand, I think we’re gonna find a shortfall so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see 60, 70 dollars a barrel in 2022.
TN: We’ve seen copper have just a stellar few months and given the demand issues that we’ve seen in the markets probably a little bit surprising. So can you talk us through some of those dynamics and help us understand is this here to stay? Are these elevated prices here to stay? Or is this something that we’ll see for a relatively quick cycle then it will turn back?
TS: With copper, we really had a supply issue because a lot of the mines were closed during the summer. China by that time had already been pretty much back up and running and ordering what they normally order. That’s kind of lifted prices off of that like two dollar level initially because we had a supply problem and then I think the expectation is, there’s a lot riding on electric vehicles, which require a lot of copper.
Manufacturing is rebounding in a lot of places. Maybe not Germany. But it is rebounding here. It is rebounding in Asia, not just China. It’s rebounding in Australia. There is that anticipation of demand. We’re starting to get supply back online and yet you know prices are still going higher. I don’t think we’re gonna go straight to five dollars by stretching the imagination. But that’s kind of where copper lost its disconnect with the market. When you know markets started coming down, copper’s still shooting up because it’s generally considered a gauge of the health of the global economy. But that kind of correlation went out of whack when we had a whole bunch of supply problems.
TN: And based on copper prices today, I would think everyone was back to work, we’re all traveling, probably with disposable income. So there is that weird disconnect right now and I’m not sure that it’s necessarily an indicator that a lot of people really point to.
So we’ve just had a big change in the US as well with the election and some shifting around. What are you expecting over the next few months? Are you expecting big surprises, big moves or what are you looking at over the next few months?
TS: Everybody pretty much knows Biden. Everybody knows his voting record. I looked at it as an energy strategist, obviously. I’m looking at his voting record and went on his past history and is the new green deal going to dictate the markets or how is he prone to be? He’s been in the office since the 70s. So we already know him. All his picks so far have been in been in DC forever, right. Whether it’s in an Obama administration, etc. So I don’t think there’s really a whole lot of surprises, which is why I think the market is so calm right now, because the election’s basically over. We don’t have that anymore. We’ve got this vaccine and the people that are going to be taking office in January are people that everybody’s familiar with. So I think that’s also giving the markets a little bit of complacency at this point.
TN: Right. It does feel a little bit complacent to be honest. I think you’re right. I think you’re right. So let’s see if there’s a surprise over the next few months.
TS: Right? You never know.
TN: Tracy, hey, thanks again for your time. It’s always great to talk to you. We really appreciate everything you say. I just want to ask everyone watching if you could follow us on YouTube. We look forward to seeing you next time. Great! Thanks.