In this podcast episode, BFM 89.9 Market Watch speaks with Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, to discuss the current state of the economy and the stock market. Nash predicts that GDP growth will be around 1% this year, which is a downgrade from previous estimates. He suggests that, due to inflation, firms have been passing on their costs to customers, but with lower volumes expected, there will be a focus on efficiency in the latter half of 2024 and into 2025. Nash also notes that there is a lot of excitement in the tech industry surrounding generative AI, which could bring about efficiencies and revenue opportunities for companies. This has resulted in a rally in tech stocks, despite the lower GDP growth estimates. However, Nash acknowledges that it’s difficult to predict how long this rally will last and whether companies’ valuations will come back down to earth eventually.
Regarding the bond market, Nash suggests that it has historically been more accurate in predicting interest rates compared to central bank prognostications. Currently, bonds are indicating that a recession is coming, but Nash believes there is only a slowdown expected, not a full-blown recession. Furthermore, he suggests that the Fed may be late to respond to this slowdown, as central banks are typically reactive organizations. Nash also discusses the recent performance of safe-haven assets such as the yen, gold, and the US dollar, and suggests that this is due to concerns over the Omicron variant and rising inflation.
Overall, Nash predicts that there will be a focus on efficiency and cautious optimism in the stock market in the coming years. He also suggests that it’s important to remain cautious and vigilant in the current economic climate, as there are a number of uncertainties and potential risks.
This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The business station.
BFM 89.9. 7:06 A.m. On Thursday the 30 March. Good morning. You’re listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning. In half an hour, we’re going to discuss whether the worst is over for the Sri Lankan economy after it secured a 3 billion U. S. Dollar bailout last week from the IMF th. But as always, we’re going to kick start the morning with a look at how global markets closed overnight.
It was almost perfect. Almost perfect because almost every market was upset one. So let’s name the guilty one. It was the Shanghai Composite Index, which was down 0.2%, but otherwise us all in the green. The Dow was up 1%, S&P 500 up 1.4%, Nasdaq up 1.8%. In fact, if you look at the Nasdaq, this is the shocking thing, right? I thought tech was dead. Growth is over. Well, it ain’t the case because the Nasdaq is up 14% on a year to date basis, this has been the stellar outperformer. Now, if we look at Asian Nikkei was up 1.3%, Hang Seng up 2.1%. Shanghai, like I said, was the one that was down 0.2%. Singapore Straits Times Index, up 0.2%. And our very own FBMKLCI currently up 0.8% to 1420 points.
All right, so for some thoughts on what’s moving markets we have on the line with us, Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Thanks, as always, for joining us. Now, given recent performance in US. Equities, investors seem to be looking beyond the challenges in the financial sector and recognizing that US economic growth continues to be resilient. Could investors be headed for a rude shock, though?
Well, it’s a really interesting question. I think those investors who expect rapid GDP growth, I think will be disappointed. We expect GDP growth to be kind of around 1% this year. That’s downgraded from a couple of months ago. And so it’s not necessarily overall economic growth that will happen. There will be secural growth. And what we’ll see through the rest of, say, this year and into 2025 is a focus on efficiency. What’s been happening is, because of inflation, firms have been passing on their margins or been passing on their costs and more than their costs to their customers. Okay. And so with a lower volume. So we’re going to see a focus on efficiency in the back half of 2024 and into 2025. So you will see equity performance in pockets. But in general, we’ll likely see things sideways unless we see the Fed change footing dramatically, which is still not really expected.
Okay, so, Tony, is that pocket the Nasdaq? Because help me understand this. Right? Since December, it’s actually up 20%. And I thought growth is great. What’s going on?
Well, in tech right now, there’s a lot of excitement over generative AI. This is ChatGPT and the other kind of applications of generative artificial intelligence. And so investors are looking at companies everything from semiconductors to say, Meta and saying gosh generative AI, which is kind of the next milestone for AI, could really change these companies and could really bring about efficiencies and could really bring about these revenue opportunities. So there’s a lot happening in tech, of course, but in general, when you look at companies like Microsoft that has made the major investment in OpenAI and you look at Google and their new AI kind of chat item that’s out there and then other companies. It’s similar to I know you guys are too young to know this, but in 2000, whenever a company would release a website, their stock would get a bump. And so what we’re seeing right now is whenever companies release an offering or say they are implementing some sort of generative artificial intelligence or ChatGPT or something like that, they’re getting a bump in their equity price.
Okay, but how long can this rally kind of last? There seems to be a disconnect because you just told us GDP is 1% and then companies earnings probably aren’t going to be that great for the moment. Yet markets seem to ignore the news. Will they all come back down to earth eventually?
Well, it depends on how you define down to earth. Right? Is down to earth 2018 valuations and 2018 market levels maybe. Again, it really depends on how the market views, I think generally, how the market views activities by central banks and the Fed. So if the Fed has really isolated the banking crisis, which I believe they have, then the Fed can continue to raise rates and then they can continue to shrink their balance sheet. Now they just grew their balance sheet by a lot by bailing out banks. But they can shrink their balance sheet in certain areas, say mortgages, those sorts of things. So that can help to bring some of these valuations down to earth. But keep in mind, we’re going into a presidential election year in 2024. And so it’s really hard to determine, does the US administration not want a recession or do they want a terrible recession so they can be seen to be passing a fiscal stimulus plan. So I don’t know what their calculus is. They can either keep the economy steaming ahead or they can try to drive the economy into the recession so they can be seen to be passing massive stimulus packages.
Tony, in one of your panel commentaries, a suggestion was made that bond markets were more accurate in predicting rates compared to central bank prognostications. Why is that so? And what are they currently saying about future Fed hikes?
Well, the first thing kind of every amateur loves to be a central bank prognosticator, so those are rarely right. But bonds. So if you look at a year ago, bonds were telling the Fed that they needed to raise rates because inflation was coming and they waited until too late. Right now, bonds are saying that a recession is coming and the Fed is continuing to tighten and the Fed is always late. Central banks are typically always late because they are a reactive organization and that’s how they’re designed to be. Are bonds going to be absolutely right about a recession coming later in the year? I’m not really sure. Again, we think there’s a slowdown, but we don’t necessarily think there’s a recession. And when we use the R word, we also have to be careful because it can be defined any way we want. Right. Because we had two consecutive quarters of negative growth last year and nobody says that we had a recession last year. So a recession kind of is whatever we define it as today.
Okay, well in the last two, three weeks there’s been clear, three clear safe haven assets: yen, gold, and US dollar. Do you think these three asset classes still can be safe haven assets?
It’s really hard for the dollar and gold to be safe haven assets at the same time. For the yen, I think with the change of the governor, the chairman of the BOJ, and Japan of course is already doing this, but I think they have to be very careful. That happens in, I think late next month. And so if they can handle that transition in an easy, seamless way, I think we can probably continue to do that. Gold? I’m not entirely sure. I know there are a lot of people out there pumping gold right now, and there are a lot of people kind of naysaying the dollar right now. Trying to say that Saudi signed some agreement. Saudi Arabia signed some agreement to deal in US dollars, and Russia signed Chinese Yuan and Russia signed an agreement to deal in Chinese Yuan or whatever. But those are very small, nominally very small. So I do think the dollar will remain a safe haven in times of turbulence. Japanese yen probably because currencies are all on a relative basis. They’re all on a relative basis. Gold, I don’t think gold is going to fluctuate a lot, but I think gold investors can be very fickle. So I’d be really careful of that one.
Tony, thanks as always for the chat. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead. Commenting there a little bit about the difference in market exuberance in tech sector compared with, I suppose the sentiment that perhaps the US could be heading towards a recession or at least markedly slower growth than what was anticipated early on.
But I think it’s interesting that Tony brought up the reason why, which is, it’s generative AI, well ChatGPT, right. So much excitement about it and I think questions about is it a disruption or is it an opportunity? But I think markets thinking, hey, which companies are going to get involved in this.
If you see a company that’s involved in AI, if they have their own AI bot or whatever, oh, that must.
Be a good thing.
It reminds me so much of the hype over the Metaverse not that long ago when Facebook or Meta decided to take that angle. And right now, there’s no no one’s talking about the Metaverse metabolism.
What are you talking about, Charles? Everybody’s forgotten about it. Right. So there are always trends that come and go. Let’s see who really can monetize it. That’s the thing at the end of the day.
All eyes will be on the US CPI data as it gives us an indication of the quantum and pace of rate hikes. But is the Federal Reserve too slow to see if inflation is coming down when there is anecdotal evidence of slowing car and home sales? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence tells us.
This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The Business Station BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning and Chong Tjen San. 07:00 a.m on Thursday the 13 October. Let’s kickstart the morning with a recap on how global markets closed yesterday.
Looking at US markets, all three key indices close in the red S&P 500, down zero 3%. The Dow and Nasdaq down zero 0.1%. And I think that the S&P has been down for six consecutive days already. Moving to Asian markets, and the Nikkei down marginally 0.02%. Hang Seng down 0.8%. The Shanghai Composite Index back the trend. It’s up 1.5%. Straights Times Index down 0.7%. And our very own FBM KLCI is down 0.5%.
So for some thoughts on where international markets are heading, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks as always for joining us. Now, US CPI data is due out on Friday. What are your expectations for that figure? And how much of this do you think will determine the quantum of the next Fed rate hike?
Everything rests on CPI right now. So I think if it comes in line or higher than expected, it’s just bad news for markets for the next few days. So people are hoping for a lower number because it would provide some relief and some proof that inflation has maybe peaked or is at least slowing down. I think it’s possible that we have it come in slightly under, but given the PPI reading that came today, it’s not a good a sign. So we may see CPI continue to rise in tomorrow’s trading day in the US.
Okay, Tony, we have a history of the Fed being late to the game, right, when it came to inflation. They kept saying “transitory, transitory,” and we know it wasn’t transitory at all. Do you think that they are also late to the game in recognizing that inflation has been brought under control? Because when I look at some of the data points, one of which is used car sales, that’s dropping. New car sales are also dropping. House sales, home sales are also dropping. Is it possible that inflation is being overstated?
Well, you’re 100% right on the Fed being late to the game, both to recognize inflation and to impact it. The problem that we’re seeing with, say, used cars is, although the unit volume is slowing, the unit price is still rising for, say, used cars, for eating out, for these sorts of things. There’s still been upward pressure on these because of the factor input costs and supply chains and labor and others. So it does feel in the US like things have not that prices have gone back down, but that the rate of rise has slowed. That’s what it feels like at the consumer level, except for petrol, gasoline, which has started to rise again over the past week.
Let’s take a look over at the UK, where George Bailey, the Bank of England Governor, said that the BoE would end support for UK Gilts by the end of this week. What does this mean for the Pound specifically and other sterling-denominated UK assets like equities?
Oh gosh, we’re likely to see more devaluation of the Pound. There’ll be pressure on the Pound. Well, maybe not devaluation, but depreciation of the Pound. UK pension funds and other guiltholders will likely have to sell assets if the BoE is stopping their intervention in that market. They’re likely to likely to see downward pressure on those prices. So holders of those assets, like big pension funds, will have to use other assets to pay for their collateral for those investments. So it’s going to be ugly all around once the BoE stops because the market for guilt is so weak.
And we’ve seen for the Bank of Japan, we’ve seen for the Fed, for different auctions, different government debt auctions, there have been zero takers for government debt auction. And that tells me they’re not paying enough. The interest rates for that debt has to rise because people feel like inflation and interest rates are going to rise. So these governments need to offer their debt out at a higher rate so that people can make a profit with it, given the inflation environment.
And Tony moving on to China with a Party Congress meeting happening very soon, and with Xi Jinping set to win an unpresented term, what economic implications would that have for China? And with growth slowing down across the world, how will they aim to achieve the goal of common prosperity?
Yeah, Common Prosperity as a definition can be really taken as raising people up, or it can be taken as pushing kind of those achievers down. Okay. And if you look at China’s history in the late 50’s and the 60’s, as you know, Mao Zedong really pushed those achievers down through the great famine and all this other stuff. So my fear is that as Xi Jinping has consolidated his power, he’s going to start well, he’s already started a couple of years ago, pushing some of those economic overachievers down like Jack Ma and other people.
So I really do worry coming out of this Party Congress that we get a much more restrictive Chinese economy. We’ve already seen foreign investor sentiment sour on China, and we’ve already seen with code lockdowns, with supply chain lockdowns and other things, there has been a functionally more restrictive environment and with sentiment souring as well.
I’m not optimistic, at least in the short term. The Chinese government, whether it’s Xi Jinping or other elements of the Chinese government, they’re going to have to do something to reassure the world that they are a good faith partner in global supply chains and for manufacturing. It’s not going to make them happy to do that. But if they want to continue growing at the rates they have grown, they’re going to have to do that.
So when I say I’m not optimistic about China, I’m not saying China is going to crash. I’m saying I think they’re going to have some pretty mediocre growth rates in the coming years because of the economic environment, regulatory environment and market environment that they’ve cultivated of late.
OK, Tony, I want to stay in Asia and I want to look specifically at Japan because the Yen weakened to a fresh two-decade low, hitting 146 to the US dollar. What do we make of this? Is this really on the back of Corona vowing to maintain its very accommodative monetary policy?
Well, they have a choice. They can either support the yen or they can buy government bonds. And they’ve continued buying their bonds. So I think they’ve made a choice not to support the currency. And with the strong US dollar position and Janet Yellen made some comments today saying, again, saying that it’s really not the US’s responsibility to maintain the currencies, economies of other parts of the world. It wasn’t those exact words, but it was similar. That will likely push the dollar even stronger and we’re likely to see even more depreciation of the Japanese yen.
So there is a lot of pressure on Japan right now, and the Bank of Japan really has some decisions to make about how they’re going to approach that. Maybe they’re okay with depreciating their currency, but it will fundamentally change things like their imports of energy. They’re very dependent on imported energy. They’re very dependent on imported, say, raw materials like metals for their manufacturing. So this really changes their approach to managing those imports.
Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead.
Yeah, I like his comments on the yen. Right. At what point does it then become really painful for the Japanese economy? Net energy imported, clearly LNG from Malaysia is one of the key imports. What does this then mean for inflation? But it’s one country where inflation has been ultra low, almost as low as ours, I think barely 2-3% for them. But for them it’s a bit of a shocker because they’ve been in a deflationary period for more than ten years.
Yeah, and his comments on China, I think he said that growth would likely be slow over the next couple of years, and I guess Xi Jinping and China will unlikely dial back on its Zero Covid policy next week. It looks very unlikely at this point.
I mean, everyone’s hoping to see some kind of announcement to that vein. But again, lots of things to look out for in the weeks ahead.
We just heard headlines coming out Shanghai, parts of it under even more lockdown.
Well, very quickly, let’s take a look at some good news. I guess that’s coming out of Australia. We have contest airways. They said their first half year profit will jump to as much as 1.3 billion Australian dollars as travel demand accelerates and the airline stabilizes operations after a prolonged and bruising period of cancelations and delays. This ends a streak of five consecutive half yearly losses totalling 7 billion Australian dollars.
It said that the frequency of scrap flights, late departures and loss backs are all improving. CEO Alan Joyce said it’s been really challenging time for the national carrier, but the announcement shows that how far the airline has actually improved, and they’ve seen big improvements in their operational performance and acceleration in financial performance as well. And this takes some pressure off Joyce.
Well, if I look at the street, they like this stock. Twelve buys, three holes. One sell. Contest at close was $5 and 17 Australian cents. Tucker price, 653.
All right, 718 in the morning. We’re heading into some messages. Stay tuned. BFM 89 Nine you have been listening.
To a podcast from BFM 89 Nine, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the VSM app.
The Fed has finally increased interest rates hikes for the first time since 2018 by 25 basis points, but what are the implications for the market? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence shares his thoughts on this
SM: BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. It’s 706:00 A.m. On Thursday, the 17 March. I’m Shazana Mokhtar in studio today with Tan Chen Li and Wong Shou Ning. It’s looking quite foggy outside our studio windows here. So if it’s raining out there, we hope you stay safe on the road as always at this time of day. Let’s recap how global markets closed.
WSN: Yesterday in US, Dow was up 1.6%, SMP 500 up 2.2%, Nasdaq up 3.7%. Asian markets actually quite happening there. Nikki up 1.6%, Hong Kong and up 9%, and Shanghai Composite up 3.5%, STI up 1.7%. FBM KLCI up zero 9%.
SM: So I think we can see that the Asian markets are really rallying on the back of some news coming out of China, the fact that Chinese authorities are going to intervene to kind of support the market after this historic route that we’ve seen over the past few years.
TCL: So basically they came out with a statement with very positive market measures, one of which is that they’re going to emphasize financial stability. They’re not going to go after the technology companies. So as a result, all US China listed stocks actually sought the most. In fact, NASA Golden Dragon jumped 33% on Wednesday.
SM: All right, well, not only are we seeing announcements coming out of China, but we also saw the Fed make an announcement yesterday about the raising of rates. So joining us for some thoughts on where markets are headed, we have on the line Tony Nash, the CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks for joining us today. So let’s talk about the Fed announcement. After much anticipation, the Fed has finally increased rates for the first time since 2018 by 25 Bips. They also signaled six more hikes for this year. So markets seemed really relieved. We see the green rally across US markets. But has this truly been priced in?
TN: Well, I think people feared worse, but what you need to know is they raised by 25, but it was a range of 25 to 50, so there will be movement in that range over time.
TCL: Okay. But the Feds also said that they will be starting to shrink its US. 8.9 trillion billion balance sheet. Do you think that’s going to shape markets more than the height which have been talked about a lot?
TN: Yeah, I think the shrinking the balance sheet will have a big impact on the available currency in the market. Inflation is already killing available money. It’s eating people’s purchasing capability. But shrinking the balance sheet takes money out of circulation and so that will make the economy feel higher.
WSN: The US PPI numbers jumped 10% while the New York State manufacturing index recorded a steep drop in economic activity. Are we looking at possible staff stationary signs in the US economy?
TN: Yes, I think that’s a very real worry with the labor market where it is with elevated salaries, with inflation, the 10% CPI there or the PPI there. Sorry. And with manufacturing sluggish, really, supply chains are hurting manufacturing still, and that’s hurting available inventory. So we are really looking at a stagnationary environment.
SM: And Tony, oil prices have been on a roller coaster from a peak of $130 to below $100 a barrel. Now, can you give us some insight into the current supply demand dynamics underpinning these price levels?
TN: Yeah. Obviously, things are tight with the embargoes on Russia, not necessarily as tight in AMS, as crude as being sold in China and other places, but it’s certainly tight in Western markets. And we don’t necessarily see that alleviating anytime soon.
TCL: And just curious, right. About the Russian bond situation. Do you see that deteriorating? Perhaps.
And even the rubber coming under increasing pressure. It’s already down more than 40%.
TN: Yeah. And the rubber appreciated just a little bit. But the debt issue is a real problem, and I think that’s going to get worse before it gets better.
TCL: But will there be a contagion effect on global markets if the Russian bonds actually default?
TN: There would be. You’re already seeing impact on European banks, which are the banks that own the most Russian debt. So we’ve seen a lot of pressure there, but some of that has been alleviated in recent days, but still, that real debt pressure is there mostly for European banks.
SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us some quick takes on some of the trends that are affecting markets, from the Fed raising of rates to what’s going to happen to Russian bonds, whether they’ll be able to make those payments.
TCL: Yeah, but staying on the topic of the Fed, I think the 25 Bips was pretty much anticipated. It was probably priced in. But what I find interesting is that they are continuing on their policy normalization, which is six rate hikes for the rest of the meetings this year. And they’re also launching a campaign to tackle the fastest inflation in four decades, even though I think there are concerns that global growth might be slowing down as a result of this Ukraine Russian war, not helped by the fact that China is actually some key cities like Sunshine and Shanghai are in lockdown. So clearly impacting the global supply chain.
WSN: And the Fed also said that they are going to allow the 8.9 trillion balance sheet to shrink at the coming meeting, but they didn’t elaborate more about this.
TCL: Yeah. The question is, can they engineer a soft lending to the world’s economy? Because you always have this concern that the Fed will over tighten, and when they over tighten, that might cause global markets to kind of crash. It’s a very delicate balance because inflation is extremely high, so it’s probably going to come in above 8% at the next reading.
WSN: Yes. CPI is about I think the last one was 7.9% in terms of inflation. Fed actually have a projection on it, and it’s 4.3% this year, which is still coming down to 2.3% in 2024.
TCL: I think this 4.3% is a bit like Malaysia CPI official figure of 2.5%. If you tell anybody that, they’ll start laughing.
WSN: Yeah, I think this is an inflation number, not the CPI number, though.
TCL: No, I know. But you have official numbers and unofficial numbers, right?
SM: That’s right.
TCL: But other I think interesting news Is coming out of China because we mentioned earlier the NASA Golden Dragon index hit a high of actually went up 32%, closing and even hang Seng yesterday closed up 9%. That’s a Whopper jump on a one day basis. And that’s very much driven by the fact that China came up with some key announcements to keep the markets going. And this was on the after a top financial policy committee Led by Vice President Yuha, who is the top economic official. So he made some promises, Stabilized better financial markets, Ease regulatory crackdown, Support property and technology companies While stimulating the economy.
WSN: But a lot of investors are also wondering, are they just words? What exactly are they going to do? They need more than just words. They need more action.
TCL: Yeah, but you just want to say this to calm markets down. It’s not the first time he’s done it. In 2008, this exact official said the same thing. It wasn’t really followed by a lot of action, but it’s a signal to the market that maybe they will ease off in terms of any crackdowns, which they did last year, Especially for the technology companies, Gaming companies, Healthcare companies, Education companies, when trying to pursue this common prosperity model. So I think they said, okay, we’re done with what we want. So you investors, maybe you don’t have to worry so much about policy risk.
SM: I think.
SM: So it’s going to be interesting to see whether this will actually put an end to the route. This could just be the calm before the storm, as some analysts say.
WSN: But they actually address all the five major issues that’s actually plaguing the market. They want to keep the stock market stable. Tech crackdown will be nearing an end, which you said resolve property risk support, overseas listings and also on us goods dialog on ADRs. So these are the things that have been plaguing investors, and they try to address all these concerns.
TCL: We will be asking Brock silvers These exact questions. He’s the chief investment officer Of Kayan capital to do tune in at 915. Maybe he might give us an indication of what to buy, actually, in regards to anything China related.
SM: All right. Well, it’s 7:14 in the morning. Stay tuned to BFM 89.9.
In this week’s episode, we look at the CPI numbers from last week, the inflation cycle, and will the Fed stop QE on their Monday meeting? What do you have to expect on the metals market in the longer term? Will the demonstrations around the world push the US to bring out fiscal stimulus again — and can they? What does this mean to the Democrats on November US Election? And lastly, what you should know to thrive and survive this coming week?
This is the sixth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.
TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And we’re joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko. And today we’re joined by Sam Rines for the first time. Tracy Shuchart could not make it this week. She’ll be back next week.
So before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It obviously helps us with visibility and it gives you a reminder when a new episode is out. So if you don’t mind, please take care of that.
Now, a lot has happened this week. We saw CPI slightly higher than expected, which is what we talked about on the show last week. Consumer sentiment out on Friday, slightly lower than expected. And there were a few things that we said last week that will remind you of the ten-year cross, too. Nick pretty much nailed that. Crude went sideways. Tracy said that we would see a slight pull back in sideways move in crude. The S&P have a slight down bias, which is what we talked about. And the Dow had a slight upward bias, which is what we talked about. So good week all around. Thank you guys for being so on the spot for that.
Let’s start with CPI. And Sam, since you’re the new guy, it’s surprised high. So what really jumped out for you and what do you expect to see with CPI prints going forward?
SR: Basically, the entire print jumped out to me. I don’t think there was a single thing that was actually positive on the inflation front. There was no positive news that we could extrapolate from there. Whether you’re looking at the actual headline number, the core number, three month annualized accelerating, et cetera, it was a pure CPI hot. It was just hot. Cupcakes and cakes were the worst news in there. Both of those up. I think it was like 2.2%. 2.3% on a month over month basis. The only thing that was a little bit lower, that kind of offset, that was ice cream. So dessert got more expensive for most of us.
I think generally the way to look at CPI right now is we were supposed to have this really interesting hand off from goods to services. And what we really had was no hand off from goods and services begin to start running. You had people begin to go outside of their homes, but they’re also working at home. So you need more stuff. If you have an office and you work from home, you need two computers, you need two microphones, you need two cameras.
That’s really what we’re beginning to see is the confluence of the end of COVID restrictions, but not really the end of COVID all at the same time. That’s a big problem.
TN: So the durable good cycle is we’re late in that cycle, right. So it’s not as if we’re redoing our homes anymore. Most of that stuff is gone. It’s more consumption, right?
SR: Yeah, it is consumption to a certain degree. But also you haven’t really seen a slowdown in people buying homes. When people buy homes, when people build homes, they need to put stuff inside of them. They need couches.
TN: That’s fair.
SR: So I would say we’re probably not at the end-end of the durable good cycle, we might be in the fifth or 6th inning. Okay. But millennials still on homes, right? Millennials figured out that when you can’t go to a really cool restaurant in New York City, it’s not really worth living in 1000 square foot apartment or smaller with a kid. Right. They’ve decided that they really want to go make a household somewhere, buy a house.
So I think we’re more call it mid innings of durable good cycle. And on the services front, we’re just beginning to see the re emergence there. You’re just beginning to see housing costs, housing and rent, et cetera.
TN: Okay, so this inflation cycle is something that Nick and Albert have been talking about for over a year. You started talking about this in August of ’20 or something like that?
AM: Yeah, something like that. I mean, it was evident that the supply chain stresses is going to cause inflation. When the demand starts to tick up and there’s no inventory, of course, it was inevitable at that point.
TN: So when does it end? Obviously, this isn’t kind of the transitory inflation we’ve been told, and that’s been said many times. But do you see this continuing through, let’s say all things equal. There’s no rises from the Fed, nothing else. How long does this go before it works itself out? Nick?
NG: I’m sorry, Albert, do you want to?
AM: No. From my perspective, wage inflation is a problem. So until that gets sorted out, inflation is going to be sticky.
NG: Yeah. With Atlanta Fed wage price level, it was 5% I think it was, came out for the first time in 20 years. Actually, I’m going to be slightly contrarian. I think we’re at that peak. Whether we can go up, we can still go up a bit more, but I think there’s a peak. The trouble that people have got to get their minds around is if we’re peaking, it could take several months. Where do we come down to? And my suspicion is we come down to a level that’s still significantly above the 2% Fed targets.
The other thing that I think is really important, you’ve got the conventional wisdom. Feds behind the curve, Feds behind the curve. And now all these forecasts from the street have sort of come like this. Goldman have now joined Bank of America on seven.
The key thing to understand in a zero rates environment, they introduced forward guidance, and that was their technique to try to suppress volatility in the market. Well, now that things have shifted around so rapidly and we’re moving to a rate hiking cycle, they’re actually not going to be suppressing volatility. By definition, they can’t you hear this in Europe as well? Data dependency. We’re dependent on the data. Well, they’re dependent on the data in Europe because their forecast is so terrible. Haven’t been much better in the US either. Right.
So you’re going to have much more volatility. So what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, which if you traded, if you ran money through 2008, it’s sort of nothing. But what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, get used to it. And I suspect going back to what we mention last week and I even put it on a tweet. Newton’s law of gravity is going to start to impose itself on those stocks without the high dividends, those stocks that don’t have the earnings, those stocks that are over owned.
I know we’ve got witching out next week or OpEx not clear whether the market is long or short delta. Just not clear to me because actually a couple of days ago, Goldman came out with a chart that showed that short interest on the S&P is really low. So if that’s the case, and I maintain that we’ve got a lot of trap longs still there, this volatility is going to get worse.
I mean, you’re getting volatility in the treasury market. And remember, the treasury market, by definition, is zero rates, low rates environment, is long convexity. So the price moves to a couple of basis points are way bigger than they were back in the days when you had a decent coupon, back in those good old days where retirees would earn some money on their bank deposits.
NG: So they’re not suppressing volatility anymore. Volatility cannot be suppressed, even if they sell VIX. We’re talking about broad systemic volatility. Is it a risk? Could be. But that’s gone. Those days have gone. Forward guidance. They’re not even going to forward guide. Powell’s last press conference. I’m going to be humble. I can’t give you whether it’s a 50 or a 25. He never said anything. No. When he was asked aggressive questions. So it’s sort of interesting.
TN: That is very interesting. I think not worried about volatility is a very interesting point, even if they just dial it down a little bit. It’s a very interesting point to me.
So let’s move in that direction, Nick. There was a lot of Fed speculation this week, obviously more intensive than even last week. Inter-meeting hike, 50 basis point hike, 25 basis point hike, all this other stuff. So what are you thinking about that and QT? I also want to get kind of your and Albert’s view and Sam, of course, on this thing going around on Thursday about an emergency meeting on Monday. So let’s talk about all of that stuff with Fed and central banks.
NG: I just don’t think this Fed has it in them to do something shocking. So the first order of business, if they were to do anything intermeeting, is stop QE. That’s absolutely absurd that that’s still going on. Right. So you stop the QE.
Remember, this is a Fed that’s built on… Most of these members are built on the gradualist approach of the Fed. They’ve been suppressing volatility. They don’t want to shock anybody. So I think there is a valid discussion to have between 25 basis points and 50. It’s a discussion they need to have and they need time to think about it.
Interesting Bollard came out as hawkish, given he used to be a Dove and we’d forecasted actually everything he said. We got a little experience of deja vu, but I’m suspicious of this intermeeting situation. The only thing I can think of really would be stopping QE. That’s where their first… If you watch the Main Street media, that was their first part of call with the “experts”, and they’re still doing QE, which is why they’re still doing QE. I think they need a proper… Right now, given it’s a new hike, first hike in the whole process, they need to have a proper meeting.
TN: So you think there’s a greater than zero possibility that they’ll stop QE on Monday? I’m not saying you’re saying it will, but you’re saying it’s greater than zero.
NG: That would make sense to me, but it would be a bit dramatic given all the huff and puff that’s been in the since last night about this secret meeting, which is also right. I would be surprised if they do an intermeeting.
I’m still trying to figure out whether they’re biased towards 25 and 50. Remember, the market is giving them 50, but when is the last time the Fed taken what the market is giving it?
TN: Albert, what do you think about Monday, the speculation about the meeting on Monday?
AM: Well, yeah, everyone’s talking about this meeting that popped up all of a sudden, and some people are starting to dismiss it’s procedural and whatnot. But realistically, they got together over the weekend to discuss what’s really happening. The last time they did something like that was pre-COVID in 2020.
Right now, the Fed and actually the Biden administration together are looking at problems with the Russian invasion of Ukraine looming, trucker rally, actually in the United States and France and Australia that are looming. I mean, any more supply chain shocks is systemic problems of the economy. And I think they have to address it one way or another.
Whether it’s a 50 basis point hike in Monday or March or something, you’re going to have to do something against inflation.
TN: So you think it’s possible that they can take some action on Monday? You don’t think this is just a procedural meeting?
AM: I don’t think it’s a procedural meeting whatsoever. I think something’s wrong with the system and they’re working to address it.
TN: So if you had to say they’re going to stop QE or they’re going to announce a rise, which is more likely on Monday.
AM: I think they’re going to announce a rise. Well, to think about it, they’ll probably stop QE before they actually do a rate hike. I think the rate hike will definitely come in March.
NG: That’s the sequence.
SR: And just to add something there, I think it’s really important to remember that effective Fed funds right now is eight basis points, right? Eight to nine basis points. It bounces around a little bit but we hike in ranges now, right? So we’re going to hike from zero to 25 to 25 to 50 or 50 to 75 and they don’t have to put it at the midpoint right? So going to ranges, so to speak, is not the only way to look hawkish.
If you raise one range of 25 to 50 and set it at 40, 45 towards the top end of the range, you can do one “rate hike”, but be pretty hawkish within that range, you can show your intention pretty quickly there which would match pretty closely to what the market expectations are when you kind of extrapolate down to actual basis points what the market is giving the Fed. So I think it’s really important to pay attention to not just where the range ends up, but where they decide Fed funds goes within that range.
TN: It could be incremental. They could be a Chinese central banks type of like 37 basis points or it’s 38 basis points or something?
SR: Exactly. Exactly. And I think that’s going to be the kind of “the shock” and all that they can use. They can have call it a very hawkish one hike. They don’t need to do two hikes to be overly hawkish.
TN: So what do you think, Sam, on Monday? Do you think it’s a procedural or do you think it’s possible that there could be some sort of policy change?
SR: I think it’s procedural.
TN: Okay. Interesting. It would be interesting to come back in a week and see what’s happened with that. I like the differences there. Sorry. What’s that?
NG: You get the coin out and heads at something.
TN: Right? Exactly.
NG: One thing it can be, it can be a hike without stopping the QE.
TN: Right. Okay. That’s a good point. So speaking of inflation, before we get onto the truckers and other stuff, Nick, you guys put out a piece last week about the metals market. And I’m really curious. It looks like there’s a view that there’s longer term rises in metals, industrial metals especially. Can you give us a little bit of color on that and help us what to expect in metal markets?
NG: Sure. It was a longer term view. It’s not really a short term trading view. The view is, I have the thesis that some of the greatest trades attached to some of the biggest traders in time have arisen because of policy mistake. Whether the policy is benefiting or whether the policy was just maligned. And right now we’re in this net zero push, which is the new neurosis and there’s no transition plan.
So the first thing, if we were to look to commodities right now, where is it? The most obvious place that it’s hit? European energy. Right. The German is getting rid of nuclear. It’s just a complete nano mess. But it’s actually in the metals market where over the next couple of years it’s going to be really keenly felt.
There’s been a lack of capex like energy. There’s been a lack of capex in metals. They learned what lessons? We don’t know. Lessons from 2011 when prices were very elevated. And with that lack of capex and they’re paying high dividends, they’re rewarding shareholders, means the supply cannot be flexible enough, elastic enough on the upside to meet all this huge demand.
So we put the blocks together. China. China, give or take, is still there as a big user and consumer of the metal. Now you add on the rest of the world, plus China, additional China on net zero products. EV cars, right. All the wind farms, solar panels. All this stuff needs metal. Some of it needs fossil fuels as well.
And I got triggered a couple of weeks ago. There was a report in France that said in the next two years, the available supply of copper, not new finds, or not new mines. The available supply right now would have been used up. Yes or no. But the point is that’s the direction. Nickel, even more so. And then you think about nickel and the geopolitics of Russia having a huge nickel company. What we’re about to go through, potentially with sanctions?
All this geopolitics grinds against the need for these metals in terms of net zero. So basically you’ve got those two forces against each other which squeezes everything up in terms of price. And from the point of view, we have no transition plan. So if there was none of that, we needed a transition plan anyway.
So our view, you can go through the metals. Aluminium has been making new multi year highs this week.
NG: Aluminum being the cheaper copper.
TN: Okay. Yeah. And I think as a medium, longer term plan, as a strategic placement, I think that’s very interesting.
Let’s move on to other components of uncertainties with what seems to me is a resurgence of populism with these trucker strikes and other kind of demonstrations.
Obviously, the Canadian trucker strike has stolen the headlines this week, but there are things happening across Europe, and they have been for a year. Australia has been happening for six months, something like that. Demonstrations. You see sporadic demonstrations in the US with talk about truckers striking at the Super Bowl or something like that. So what do you guys think about that? Is that a real risk, and is that a risk that will flow into markets?
AM: I think it absolutely is a risk. If you’re talking about adding more stress to the supply chain, of course it’s going to be a systemic risk. I won’t even put it past some foreign actors propelling it through social media campaigns to stress the United States, France and Australia.
AM: I certainly would if I was Russia or China. I would definitely do that.
TN: Okay. So what does that do if there is this kind of wave of populism that is pushing back against kind of COVID restrictions? Do you think that puts more stress on, say, the US government to get fiscal spending out there to kind of placate people?
AM: There’s no way we’re getting fiscal. The reasons that the Fed has been doing all the shenanigans behind the scenes is because there’s no fiscal that’s happening.
AM: Rumors are that they’re even buying oil futures.
TN: Okay. So it makes things complicated, right? I mean, if you can’t send fiscal out to the people, then it makes kind of populism even more complicated.
AM: Of course.
TN: And more acute. Right. So what does that say for November in the US? Does that mean that it’s going to be tougher than we had thought on Democrats?
AM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they sent out a memo to all the Democratic governors with all the warning flags. If you don’t lift off these COVID restrictions, we’re going to get massacred in November. So all of a sudden you saw this week like a dozen Democratic governors lift all the mask mandates.
TN: Okay. But do you agree if they had room for fiscal, it would solve some of these populist issues?
AM: That’s a tough question, Tony. I mean, possibly, but then the talk of new stimulus checks comes out and then the inflation probably gets worse. What are we doing?
TN: It’s a complex problem, which is why I’m asking the question.
NG: Didn’t Germans should make it pretty clear though, this week? They said I’ve been… Last year with the last fiscal. I said inflation. Inflation, inflation.
NG: Clear as you can be. But he’s a swing vote in the Senate. He just said we’re not getting inflation.
TN: Inflation tramps fiscal is what you’re all saying, is inflation tramps fiscal regardless of what happens with populist.
AM: Sorry, Sam. Let’s make a quick real quickly. Inflation is a nuclear football for politicians.
TN: Well, especially at 7.6%. Right. So fuel inflation of 40% year on year. I mean, this is crazy.
Okay, let’s move into what we expect for next week. What are you guys looking for next week?
SR: The flattening on the 210s curve will continue until the Fed breaks something and has to go the other way.
SR: I think that to me is the easy trade out there right now. It’s 210 flatten and done.
NG: Put a health warning on that.
NG: If the Fed wimp out, I even think 25 basis points and non hawkish statement. If they whimp out, that long end is going to get hit because the idea of a flattening curve.
Remember, the sequencing is wrong here. That curve flattens after they’ve well into hiking cycles because of the potential for a recession. 13 out of the last 14 hiking cycles have led to a recession. That’s why I curved bear flat. Okay. It’s already doing it.
But the point is it’s because they think it will be enough. If the Fed given the narrative now, don’t go ahead with this. And I’m still anxious about the Fed, even though Powell warned back when the QE three was being launched, you’re going to create a whole lot of problems. Ironically, he got all the problems.
I’m just still nervous about this Fed because.
TN: I think everybody is Nick. I think that’s why we’re seeing the volatility because no one’s getting a clear signal. And we saw some Fed governors out on Friday saying that 50 basis points is too much and putting 25 basis points into question.
So I’m not sure if there’s a consensus.
NG: Actually, there’s a great trade to be had. Great trade in some of the markets. You buy a struggle, you buy volatility effectively. Make it, usually pay up for premium, but you make it completely not dependent on direction.
TN: Is what you’re saying for the next several weeks.
NG: Because they’re not going to suppress volatility anymore. It’s reversed. So everything they do now is by definition going to be creating more volatility. We’ve been zero rates, forward guidance. Let’s just cruise.
And the balance sheet is pushing stocks up. The other thing you need to watch, by the way, is the level of reserves.
NG: Because I actually think if back in 19 there was that Reserve issue with the repo. I think that slightly could be problematic if something like that happens again.
TN: Okay, great. Good to know. So let’s go one by one. And what do you guys see say in equity markets next week? Is your bias for equity markets? Do you have a downside bias in equity markets? Sorry, Albert, go ahead.
AM: So I was just going to say next week, I think it’s going to be all about the Federal Reserve’s narrative building. It’s going to be a choppy session in equities all week. They’re preparing you, they’re sending out boulerd with ridiculous 100 point basis comments, and they’re just preparing you for a 50 basepoint rate hike.
AM: So that’s what I think is going to happen. So we’ll just be choppy on next week.
TN: Okay. Sam?
SR: I like SPX more than I like the Dow, and I like the queues less than I like the Dow.
TN: Amid the volatility, you believe in tech?
SR: No. Okay. I don’t like any of them. Okay. And I prefer the S&P to the Dow. And I prefer the Dow to the queues.
SR: Yes, exactly. And I don’t like any of them. But if you had a gun to my head and made me buy something, it would be SPX and shorting queues against it.
TN: So there’s a slight downside bias in markets next week, equity markets? Okay, Nick, same?
NG: Yes. I think, as I said, I like what I wrote. News is law of gravity. As these rates come up, it starts to put gravity on the equity market and gravity will bring it down.
NG: One provisor, though. If we get some, along the path that we’re going, we get some serious shake outs. I do think what could be interesting is some of these commodity related starts, because actually commodities do quite well during a hiking cycle. Okay. That again, fits with our thesis anyway.
AM: Of course, gold has been on a tear for the last four trading days.
NG: Confusing everybody, right?
AM: Yeah, of course.
TN: Sam, do you agree with that commodity during the hiking cycle?
SR: I think oil is great during a hiking cycle. If you look back over hiking cycles, oil tends to do pretty well. I actually like the long oil short gold trade.
TN: Okay. So you bring us into a good point. Oil was my last stopping point. So, Albert, Nick, do you guys sit in the same place with oil? You think in the short term, say next week oil is looking good, or you think it continues to trade sideways?
AM: I think it goes up. I know. Rumors are Fed buying oil futures. I think it’s going to go up to 110. Not next week, but over the next week.
TN: Even with the inflationary pressure? Even with, which is unbelievable for me to say that. Even with the dollar rising. It’s unbelievable for me to say this.
NG: Albert just made a great point. These commodities are all at new levels and really the dollar hasn’t collapsed yet.
NG: Can you imagine what would happen if the dollar sells off some of these commodities?
TN: Yeah, we’re going to have to wrap it up there. So thanks very much, guys. This has been great and have a great week ahead.
Tony Nash gave the BFM 89.9: The Morning Run his thoughts on how the sooner-than-expected Fed rate hikes could affect global markets. Will inflation derail hastening of the tapering talk? How does crude oil look like in the next few months? As the Christmas season is coming, how much of a concern supply chains will be for the consumers and the economy? When the Fed begins normalizing rates, which currencies will be vulnerable if or when this happens?
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SM: BFM 89.9 good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar together with Khoo Hsu Chuang and Philip See. It’s 9:07 in the morning. Thursday, the 25 November. If we look at how the US markets closed yesterday, the Dow was down marginally by 0.3%. The S&P 500 was up 0.2%. Nasdaq was also up 0.4%. So for some thoughts on where international markets are headed, we have with us on the line Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. So the Fed minutes revealed that the pace of tapering may be hastened, while macro data points from personal spending to job data suggest that the US economy is in quite the sweet spot, but will inflation derail this?
TN: Yeah. There was a statement from one of the Fed governors today talking about that inflation is not transitory in their mind or could potentially not be transitory in their mind. That’s a real danger to people who are thinking that we’re really in a sweet spot right now because it could mean Fed intervention, meaning tightening sooner than many people had counted on. So I think people had counted on some sort of intervention, maybe in Q2, but it may be happening sooner. That would have a real impact on the dollar. The dollar would strengthen, and that would have a real impact on emerging markets all around Asia, all around Africa. People would feel it in a big way where there is US dollar debt.
KHC: We are seeing that strengthening US dollar in our currency now. But I just want to get your perspective on crude oil because various countries from the US to China are now tapping into their strategic crude reserves to alleviate the present energy crisis. But if you look at crude now, it’s not really being responsive, right to these actions?
TN: Right? That’s right. So what the US agreed to release is about two and a half days of consumption. Not much. The releases agreed in the UK and India, for example, were really token releases. They weren’t really major portions of their consumption. So these countries are kind of giving a nod to the Biden administration, but they’re not really alleviating the supply concerns that are spiking prices. So it really has been a dud for the White House. It’s been kind of an embarrassment because crude prices haven’t fallen, really. They fell initially, but they really came back after the release announcement was absorbed.
PS: Yeah. Tony, that trickling in oil supply releases from the US government hasn’t done much to alleviate the supply concerns. Gas prices in America have been on a massive uptrend as well, just in terms of inflation and not being as transitory as people expected, as we enter Christmas season, how much of a concern is it for consumers as well as the economy?
TN: It’s a real concern. I have to tell you, I’ve driven halfway across the US for our Thanksgiving holiday, which is tomorrow morning. It’s Thursday here, and we’ve seen a lot of trucks with cargoes on US roads, and I make this drive pretty regularly. So it seems like a lot more on roads than I normally see. So that’s good in terms of the domestic supply chain.
I think it’s the international supply chain that is really concerning, and we still have those backups in the Port of Long Beach. That is the real main constraint for supply chains in the US. So I don’t think we’re going to see major disruptions outside of other ports. But through Long Beach, we definitely see issues.
The semiconductor supply chain is the main impact for, say, electronics and automobiles in the US. We did see semi manufacturers start to produce more auto related semiconductors, say mid-Q3 and into Q4. We should start to see those automotive supply chains, the semiconductor dependent issues and automotive supply chains alleviate, probably in Q1. So that will help.
But for the Christmas season, I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot that’s going to help with electronics and say automobiles.
PS: Yeah, Tony with JPowell still back and still in the fair chair in terms of his reappointment. And he does hike rates earlier than expected to address inflationary concerns. How much of a dangerous is to slowing down the economy in America and as the rest of the world.
TN: Sure, it is a risk in America. I think it’s really hard to hire people in the US right now. There’s a lot of job switching happening and people haven’t come back into the workforce. We lost about 5 million people in the workforce in the US through the Covid period. So that’s a real issue. Anything that raises the cost of doing business is problematic for the US and will inhibit growth. The main problem in the US is that the environment right now, it continues to crush small companies. It’s very difficult for small companies. And while it may seem that small companies don’t matter that much, they are the main employer in the US and the main growth engine in the US. And the Biden administration hasn’t helped this with a lot of their policies. Their policies have been very favorable toward big companies. If the Fed pushes inflation, it will make borrowing a little bit harder. I’m sorry if the Fed pushes the interest rate, it’ll make borrowing a little bit harder. But the collapsing, say, the tapering of the Fed balance sheet will have a bigger impact on liquidity in the US.
SM: And if I could just touch on large US dollar debt and what happens to emerging markets when the Fed begins normalizing rates, which currencies do you see as going to be particularly vulnerable if or when this happens?
TN: Well, I think one that I’m really keeping an eye on is the Chinese Yuan because it’s a highly appreciated currency right now. And the Chinese government has kept the CNY strong so they can continue to import commodities and energy for the winter. And they’ll likely keep it strong through Chinese New Year. We expect CNY to really start to weaken, say, after Chinese New Year to help Chinese exporters. So winter we mostly pass. They want to help kind of push a Chinese export, so they’ll start to really devalue, seeing why probably end of Q1 early Q2.
We do see pressure, the Euro, as you’ve seen over the last three weeks, there’s been real pressure on the Euro as well. Other Asian currencies. We do think that there will be pressure on other Asian currencies. Sing Dollar will likely continue to stay pretty consistent. But we’ll see some pressure on other Asian currencies simply because of the US dollar pressure. The US dollar is something like 88% of transnational transactions. So the US dollar as a share of transnational transactions actually come up over the past two to three years. So there’s much more pressure with an appreciated dollar and it’s coming.
KHC: Just like the one. Tony, India Indian equities record high. Have you reached to speak considering PTM’s IPO failure?
TN: Yeah. I think there’s been a lot of excitement there, and I think it’s at least for now. I think it has I don’t think you can ever really claim that an equity market has hit its peak, but I think for now, a lot of the excitement is dissipated. It may come back in a month, it may come back in six months. But I think that momentum is really important. And as you see, failed IPOs, I think it’s really hard for equity investors to kind of get their mojo back.
SM: Tony, thank you so much as always for speaking to us and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his thoughts on how the sooner-than-expected Fed rate hikes could affect global markets.
This is the most recent guesting of our CEO and founder Tony Nash in CNA’s Asia First, where he shares his expertise on inflation and the US economy. Will consumers continue to spend to help the economy? What’s his view on Biden’s call to boost oil supply to ease prices? Where does he think the US dollar is headed and how will that impact Asian currencies?
CNA: What’s still ahead here in Asia First. We’ll check if US companies continue to charm investors with some big earnings in focus. Plus, to give us a stake on markets inflation and the US economy, we’ll be joined by Tony Nash from Complete Intelligence.
US stocks closed in the red overnight as lingering inflation concerns continue to dog investors. The Dow ended lower by six tenths of one percent, dragged down by a four point seven percent. Drop in visa the S&O 500 slipped 0.2 percent. And the NASDAQ fell by 0.3 percent.
Now after the bell, we also had some US tech earnings. NVIDIA shares rose after it beats on the top and bottom lines. The ship maker saw its revenue jump 50 percent on year on strong gaming and data center sales. Cisco shares tumbled and extended trade after missing on revenue expectations before the quarter. The computer networking company also issued a weaker than expected guidance.
For more on the broader markets and economy. We’re joined by Tony Nash is founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence speaking to us from Houston, Texas. So Tony as we heard their inflation fears seem to be back despite better expected earnings but CEO’s are starting to warn of more pain when it comes to supply chains. And that could put a damper on in that could lift inflation. Do you think the US consumers will continue to spend despite all this and will that help the recovery of the US in the next year?
TN: Yeah, I think the real issue here is that inflation is rising faster than wages. And what we’re seeing with oil prices. These oil prices are not terrible given kind of historical prices but it’s oil prices within the context of everything else. Obviously, the supply constraints really are pushing up prices of food and other activities as well as say goods that are imported for say the holiday purchases that Americans will make.
So Americans have absorbed a lot of those price rises to date. They’ll continue to absorb some but I think they’re almost at their limit in terms of what they can tolerate without getting upset.
CNA: Yeah, Do you think there’s a disconnect here when it comes to energy because Biden administration is hoping to boost supply to ease that oil price pressure but OPEC and its allies expect surplus into the next year. So, do you think they’re looking at it differently? And who has it right here and where oil prices headed?
TN: Yeah, I think part of the issue in the US with crude oil is the Biden administration restrictions on pipelines and on the supply side in the US. So, Joe Biden is asking other countries Russia, Saudi Arabia, other OPEC members to supply more oil yet he’s restricting the supply domestic supply in the US. So, I think what’s happening with those other suppliers they have customers who are buying their crude oil. They don’t necessarily want to have to produce more because they want slightly higher prices. They don’t want things too high but they want slightly higher prices and so they’re pushing back on on Joe Biden and saying look you really need to look at your own domestic supply. You really need to look at at those issues yourself before we start to open up our own market.
So you know, the current administration is trying to have it both ways. They’re trying to restrict supply within the US. They’re trying to bring in more supply from overseas. Americans see this and they understand kind of the incongruent nature of that argument from the administration.
CNA: I want to get your thoughts on the US dollar, Tony. Because that hit a 16-month high amid his expectations of more aggressive policy from the Federal Reserve. Where do you think the US dollar is headed and how will that impact us here in Asia, especially Asian currencies?
TN: Sure, it’s a great question. We saw a lot of action with the US dollar yesterday. The dollar index as you said reached highs for in the last say 18 months, two years. And that is on Fed action but one thing to consider is we’re looking at potentially changing the Fed chairman later this year.
So, if the current Fed chairman is exited. There is an expectation of a more dovish Fed chair coming in that’s one possibility. I think people are really trying to… While there is upward pressure on the dollar. People are trying not to get too far too much behind it because there could be a more double dovish Fed chair coming in. So, we think the dollar is overshot just a little bit in the short term.
We don’t expect it to continue rallying at its current pace. We expect say the Euro has fallen quite a bit and depreciated quite a bit in the last say three weeks. It’s going to appreciate just a bit a couple cents over the next month or so. Asian currencies, we think the CNY will stay strong. We think CNY will remain strong through say March, April as they start a devaluation cycle to help exporters. We think the Singapore dollar is going to stay in the same range that it’s in about now. We don’t see much policy change in Singapore and we think with a stable dollar at these levels. We think the same dollar will stay at about the same exchange rate of Scott now.
CNA: All right. We’ll keep our eyes on those currency exchanges and who becomes the next Federal Reserve Chairman. Tony Nash thanks for joining us. Tony Nash there founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence joining us from Houston, Texas.
CEO Tony Nash joins CNA’s Asia First program to explain the logic behind the US market’s performance. Will the better-than-expected retail sales continue to the Christmas season? What is his outlook for Q3 and what’s hampering the economic recovery in the States? And what are at stake around the success of the $3.5T infrastructure bill?
CNA: Well, Wall Street closed mixed in the State overnight as the major indices fail to build on Wednesday strong performance, while for the session, the blue chip Dow closed lower by two tenths of 1%, and the S&P 500 fell by a similar percentage.
However, the Nasdaq managed to eak out second consecutive day of gains. Well, this after investors digested mixed economic readings released before with the opening Bell when August retail sales surprised the market and rose 0.7% from the month prior, with analyst expecting a decline. But on the downside, jobless claims rose from last week’s pandemic low.
Of course, to help us understand the logic behind all the market movements were joined by Tony Nash, founder and CEO with Complete Intelligence, speaking to us from Houston, Texas. Very good evening to you, Tony.
So we’re looking at the better than expected retail sales number. And do you expect that momentum to continue given that we are 100 days away to Christmas in the State side and 99 days away from here in Singapore side.
TN: And we certainly hope that continues. But it’s really uncertain, given some of the corporate outlooks and given some of the other indicators that we’ve seen: purchasing managers indices and the regional Fed reports, Fed Manufacturing reports.
The port hold-ups in Long Beach are not helpful either. It’s really hurt supply chain. So we could see that spending tick up. But we do expect prices to continue to rise. And so there’s really a trade off there in terms of the volume that’s sold and the value that’s sold. And when we’re looking at, say a 1% rise in value of retail sales, that’s quite frankly, not even keeping up with inflation.
CNA: In the meantime, we’re also seeing that the weekly jobless claims increased. And of course, before that, many economist with organizations like JP Morgan has downgraded their third quarter economic growth outlook. So what is your outlook there and what is hampering economic recovery over there in the State Side?
TN: Well, it’s really companies are not seeing great investment opportunities. So the demand for credit in the US, just like in China, and just like in Europe, the demand for credit is really declining.
So we’re not seeing companies spend on big ticket items. They’re not investing on new equipment, they’re not investing on new projects. And so that’s hurting everything downstream because there are impacts across the economic spectrum when companies decide to spend on big ticket items. This is hurting the US. It’s hurting China. It’s hurting Europe.
So between now and you mentioned the end of the year, we expect that corporate spending to have an impact, the damper in corporate spending. We expect the supply chain difficulties and inflation have impacts as well. And if unemployment continues to tick up like it did, we could have a very difficult Christmas season. And the Fed and city administration here in the US are really contending with that, because as they go into the last quarter of the year, they’d really like to see things tick up.
CNA: And talking about those spending of course, there’s one catalyst that investors are watching out would be the passage of the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. But given the situation that a Biden is facing now, do you think that this increasing likelihood that this bill can’t be get past?
TN: Yeah, I think you’re right. With the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden has really lost a lot of the support from Democratic moderates. And so he’s got the support of the extreme left Democrats. But a lot of the Democrats in the middle are really starting to say, “Hold on a minute. We need to be really careful about how much we support Biden,” because those guys have to be reelected in November of ’22. So from here on out, the voters in their respective districts will be paying a lot of attention to what they’re doing.
This 3.5 trillion infrastructure plan, only 1.2 trillion of it, I say “only” but 1.2 trillion of it is dedicated towards real hard infrastructure. The rest of it is a lot of social spending, a lot of pet projects, and that’s a lot of money. 2 trillion plus dollars.
So Americans are really tired of seeing big stimulus programs put out, and they’re really tired of seeing the pork going to people connected to politicians. So they’d much rather see the lower $1.2 trillion program. It’ll go direct to infrastructure. They’ll see it. It’ll be a very tangible spend.
One other thing to keep in mind is there is still $300 billion that haven’t been spent from the stimulus program that came out in Q1 of 2021. So a lot of Americans are asking, why do we need to green light another three plus trillion dollars in spending if we still have $300 billion that’s unspent?
CNA: All right, Tony, thank you so much indeed, for your analysis. Tony Nash, founder and CEO with Complete Intelligence.
Corporate earnings are beating the Wall Street estimates — are these even accurate? For the exporting countries in Asia — will they be badly hit with further lockdowns? And why is WTI crude oil dropped all of a sudden? All these and more in this quick podcast interview with Tony Nash at the BFM 89.9 The Morning Run.
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SM: BFM 89.9. Good morning. You are listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar in studio today with Wong Shou Ning and Philip See. First, though, as always, we recap how global markets ended the trading day.
PS: Yes, the U.S. was relatively mixed. The Dow is down 0.9%. S&P 500 also -0.5%. Nasdaq was up 0.1%, crossing over to the Pacific and Asia. Also a mixed day. The Nikkei was down 1.2%. Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng were both up 0.9%, Singapore up 1.1%. And actually, not surprisingly, FBN, Kilcher was down 1.6%.
SM: And for some insights into what’s moving markets, we have on the line Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Always good to have you. So looking at corporate second quarter earnings, they’ve been beating Wall Street estimates, yet a prevailing bearishness seems to be creeping into U.S. markets. Is this an accurate reading driven by the rise of Covid-19 cases from the Delta variant?
TN: Yeah, earnings are up about 90% year on year, and a lot of that really has to do with companies cutting back staff and trimming expenses. This is a really nice, obviously not unexpected, but a really nice pop. But the cutbacks have come to a limit if we’re straddling a come back. Part of that is revenues are up 22% on quarter, which is great. But given the cutbacks, it looks extraordinarily good. So these things have a way of winding down. There’s only so much you can only get this good for so long. So we do expect this to to erode a little bit going into next quarter.
WSN: But does this mean that markets will find it hard to go to the next leg up in?
TN: It depends. It depends on company performance, but it also depends on things like central bank activity and fiscal spending. So if we look at Covid, it depends on which way it’s going. And if Delta variant gets worse and the fatality rate gets worse, which isn’t here in Texas, the fatality rate per case is half of what it was back in February. So just six months ago, the fatality rate here was twice per case of Covid.
So we’re hearing a lot about case counts. But the reality is the fatalities are declining pretty rapidly. So here we see that is a good thing. And and so we’re hopeful that things will you know, we’ll continue to move back to a normal situation. But there’s a lot of talk about, you know, closing things down. New York just put coded passports in for going to restaurants and going out in public, the sort of thing.
What that does is that really it really hurts small local businesses. It hurts chains for, say, restaurants and shopping. It helps companies like Amazon that do a lot of local deliveries. So so if New York is going to lock down, it helps to work from home type of company try it. But it seems to me in the US it’s going to be really hard to close the US down again because there’s a lot of push back in the US to closing down in some places, not so much New York, California, those those places, but other places. If there was an attempt to lock down again here in Texas, people would be pretty resistant.
PS: And you made a point on central bank activity. Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida confirmed that they are on track to raise rates in twenty twenty three, but jobs data is soft. So how should we make of all this?
TN: Yeah, I don’t see that happening. Look, you know, people talk about rates a lot, but the Fed has so many tools. I would expect the Fed to commence some sort of QE plan in the not too distant future before I would expect rates talk. I think we’re closer to QE than we are to rates much closer to QE than we are at a rate. So I don’t see rates changing certainly in obviously in twenty one. I don’t see them changing in twenty two. If it’s twenty three, maybe it’s the back half, but I just don’t see that happening simply because we’ve got to stop the flow of finance ministry and central bank activity going into economies globally first before we start to impose higher rates on borrowers. So we just need to get to a zero state or a semi normal state before we start imposing higher rates on borrowers.
SM: OK, and turning our attention closer to home, Tony. An economic upswing in Southeast Asia this year looks increasingly uncertain. And given that ASEAN is predominantly export dependent, how badly hit do you think countries in this region are going to be?
TN: Yeah, I think it’s hard. For those countries that have the benefit of, say, natural resources exports like Malaysia with palm oil and crude oil and other things, I think that helps. However, manufactured goods are difficult, partly on supply chain issues, partly on Covid, you know, restrictions and other things. So international transport is still in a very difficult situation. So I think it’s tough for Southeast Asia. I think there’s a big move in Europe and North America to have more manufacturing done nearby in regions.
So I think this, over a period that’s been protracted 18 months or longer. I think the more that happens, the more we see unwinding of global supply chains and the more we see the unwinding of Asia as the centralized manufacturing hub globally. I think we’ve seen more regional manufacturing. I don’t think that necessarily means that the manufacturing in China or other places are necessarily in danger. Unfortunately, a place that I think places that I think are more in danger of places like Malaysia, Thailand, the middle income, middle tier type of manufacturing countries. So the automation, competitiveness, these sorts of things are really much more important in places like Malaysia and Thailand.
WSN: And Tony, I want to switch to oil because when I look at the Bloomberg at the moment, WTI is showing at sixty eight U.S. dollars a barrel for delivery in September. What do you make of this sudden drop in prices? Is it due to demand decline?
TN: It’s on Covid fears. News all over the here in the U.S. It’s a lot of Covid fear mongering and you know, a lot of that. The media is based in New York and D.C. And so there’s a lot of chatter on the government side. And in New York, the New York media is trying to get the the focus away from Andrew Cuomo, the governor there, and really trying to focus on Covid and other things. So markets are reacting.
Business doesn’t want things closed down. Again, people in business don’t want to close down again. So I think, you know, you’re going to see a real push pull in markets over the next couple of weeks as that debate happens about two places closed down or not. And you’ll see some volatility in things like commodities and in other markets as that very active discussion continues.
SM: All right, Tony, thanks as always for your insights. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, talking to us about the situation of the economy in the US. And, you know, that push and pull between closing down, how do we deal with with the covid, but at the same time, you know, make sure the economy doesn’t suffer too much.
PS: You made a very interesting point that with closing down, who is affected the most. Right, with respect to businesses. He did say smaller businesses are more susceptible as result of a closure locked out. But the same is exactly the same thing you’re going to see across the board.
WSN: Yeah, yeah. I think he also brought up an interesting point about the fact that, yes, there is this decentralization of manufacturing hubs. Right. Because I think a lot of businesses are concerned that with covid-19 and they have really been proven that supply chains can be very easily disrupted. But ironically, Malaysia may not be a beneficiary. It might move to other countries. And it’s a question of whether we move up the value chain to provide that, you know, that that automation that we need do.
The things that we talk about are 4.0. I’ll be ready for it. Do we have to staff for it? Will they go to other countries? And he hinted that he might. So I’m just curious, in the longer term, what is our government’s plans, especially now 12 million, your plan confirmed to be in September and budget 2022 in October?
SM: That’s right. And we’re going to get a perspective on this later on in the show at seven forty five when we speak to the president of the Malaysian Semiconductor Industry Association. So stay tuned for that BFM eighty nine point nine.
Tony Nash joins BFM 89.9 and explained where markets are headed in the context of rumors that dovish Fed chief Jerome Powell might stay a second term, even as corporate earnings and cash-rich US tech giants might boost gains with share buybacks. He was also asked whether the US market is bullish right now — and what sectors should investors look at? Also discussed is the EU economy amidst the recent lockdowns.
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SM: BFM 89.9. You are listening to the Morning Run I’m Shazana Mokhtar together in studio with Wong Shou Ning and Khoo Hsu Chuang as we always do in the early morning, we recap how global markets ended the trading day.
WSN: Yes, it was an excellent day in the U.S. The Dow and S&P 500 were up zero point eight percent. Nasdaq was actually up 0.9%. Nikkei 0.6%. Shanghai is up 0.7%. Hong Kong was down 0.1%. Singapore is up 0.3%. And week Abkhasia were down 0.2%.
SM: OK, then to get some insight into where global markets are headed, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Let’s start with the markets. They seem to be toggling between risk on and risk off. Which direction is it in? Is it a long bull or one that’s plateauing?
TN: It really all depends on the Fed. I think we expect to see things continue to rise through Q3. Well, they should continue to rise gradually. Doesn’t mean we won’t see volatility. We do expect to see further fallout. But by the end of the quarter, we expect things to continue to march higher, even through the volatility and some of the uncertainty. The Fed meeting in August in Jackson Hole really should give us a bit of clarity around what some of their future plans are. But beyond that, we do expect the Fed to be pretty calm and markets to proceed accordingly.
KHC: There’s some news, of course, unconfirmed at this point in time that Jerome Powell might seek a second term. What might that mean for markets and investors, given that he’s more of a dove than a hawk?
TN: I think it’s continuity, I think the White House has talked about other people to take that role, but I think keeping Powell right now is actually important for continuity because a really tricky situation. So I actually think I’m not a huge Powell fan, I’m not a huge detractor, but I actually think it would probably be a good idea to keep him in order to to reassure the markets with continuity.
WSN: Meanwhile, its results season. So far so good, except maybe for financials and Netflix. But we already see some strategists upgrading the S&P 500 year end targets. Do you think they’re a little bit too premature?
TN: No, I don’t think so. I think we’ll continue to march higher. We’ll have a few scares before the end of the year. But I think we will continue to march higher. The thing that I think is will be a little bit worrying for people toward the end of the year will be, you know, will the risk of keeping things in be enough? You know, will you get enough reward for keeping your money in the market?
Because I think things will get riskier the further way we go along in the year. All of this is assuming there isn’t more Covid aid and Fed stimulus and all this other stuff like increased rate of stimulus. But assuming everything is the same as it is now, we’ll hit toward the end of the kind of benefits of that stimulus toward the end of the year, at least the perceived benefits. And I think people really start to wonder whether the reward is there for them to to keep their money in the markets.
WSN: But, Tony, if I ask you to look into your crystal ball, what sectors do you think might surprise on the upside then?
TN: I think we’ll start to see things like travel and tourism do well. There are mumblings of efforts in the US that certain people want to close down parts of the economy. Again, we’ve seen California start to take some steps in that direction. But I just don’t think that anybody here wants things closed down again. Texas has said today that he will not reinstate a massive mandate in Texas.So Americans really want to get out. They want to travel. They want to see other parts of the country in the world. So I think we’ll see some things in tourism and travel do really well.
KHC: What you’ve just mentioned obviously reflects the economic fundamentals and a reflection in terms of those sectors. But JP Morgan, I think a couple of days ago talked about the S&P hitting 40, 600 points, is about 200 of the plus points from here on, and not because of the economy returning, but because of the share buybacks. What do you think about that particular development?
TN: Look, companies have a lot of spare cash and and how are they going to get EPS growth if they don’t buy back shares? The economy is awash with cash right now. If you’re the CFO for a publicly traded company and you have a lot of cash on the side, you really have to do that calculation to understand how is it going to hit your share price if you do buybacks. I think that’s definitely a part of the equation, at least of the end of the year, if not in the second half of ’22.
KHC: So names wise, who pop out obviously Berkshire with over 200 billion and Apple a notable cash hoarder’s, what are the names pop out to you.
TN: I can’t think of any right now to be honest, but I think it’s just a matter of looking at balance sheets and looking at who has that cash and then also, doing some research on the CFO and the board and look at their previous behavior. Some companies want to sit on cash or they want to say invest it. Others want to do share buybacks are typically technology companies do a lot of share buyback services. Companies do a lot of share buybacks. So I think those are the sectors that you would want to be looking at, banking, services, technology, those sorts of things.
SM: All right, Tony, let’s squeeze in one more question. Looking across the pond to Europe in 2020. Europe’s economy struggled with the pandemic. What’s your outlook on the E.U. this year, particularly in terms of an export led recovery?
TN: You’re getting a lot of pushback among EU citizens around lockdown’s, especially with the current variant that’s going through. And there’s a lot of discussion about the efficacy of the virus. And, you know, all this a lot of public health debate. But the problem of Europe has is well, on its on the plus side, China will likely keep the CNY strong into 2022, so that should help European exports. But when you look on the down side, Chinese PMI and consumer spending really haven’t been aggressive in recent months and we don’t really expect that to come roaring back in the next six months or 12 months.
So China is going to have some real pressure. Europe is going to have some real problems with goosing exports into China. I think the U.S. is fine and number two, export market for Europe. But I think there are some difficulties between the U.S. and Europe right now. And it may not necessarily outside of maybe automotive, it may not necessarily be a roaring market for Europe. So I think they have some serious headwinds and I think they’re going to struggle.
SM: All right, Dan, thank you so much, Tony. That was Tony Nash of complete intelligence, giving us his outlook for European exports and not looking particularly rosy at this point.
WSN: Yeah, but still very bullish on the U.S. markets. Right. He does suggest that S&P 500 might inches we up, but the risk of what may be the easy money has been made. So it’s not going to see some stellar jumps. But he likes tourism and travel. He thinks that Americans don’t stay home anymore.
KHC: No brainer. I mean, people have been stuck at home for 15 months, right? They want to go traveling.
WSN: But I don’t know if your infection cases rise. I mean, will you curb your own behavior? You might write especially I think in America, Delta is now 80, 80 percent of all the infections.
KHC: Don’t forget, America is the land of the free and the brave, the brave.
WSN: I like that word.
KHC: be the first of the Marcellus. And then, you know, Bob’s your Uncle Gene. I mean.
WSN: OK, well, we’ll watch this space, but I think its results season.
SM: That’s right. We’ve got a few results on our docket to look at this morning. Let’s start with Coca Cola’s. Coca Cola reported a second quarter revenue that surpassed twenty nineteen levels, prompting the company to hike its full year outlook. So Coke reported a net income of two point six billion dollars. That’s up forty six percent on year. Of course, there was a low base last year. Net sales rose forty two percent to ten point one dollars billion, topping expectations of nine point thirty two billion dollars.
WSN: Well, the. Good news is that the company said that the away from home channels, so like restaurants and movie theaters were actually rebounding in some markets like China and Nigeria. However, India and Southeast Asia were the only areas that did not see any sequential volume acceleration on a two year basis this quarter. Surprise, surprise, because I think India, particularly by covid-19 in Southeast Asia, was still in some form of lockdown, especially Malaysia. But all is doing segments reported double digit volume growth for the quarter.
Sparkling soft drinks units, including, of course, its namesake soda did particularly well.
KHC: I saw net sales rise by 42 percent. That is incredible. You know, this is a 245 billion dollar company, right, for net sales in one quarter. The rise with 40 percent. You know, I think lest we forget, a lot of people, they don’t care about diabetes. You know, they don’t care about high blood pressure.
WSN: No, but I think that’s why Coke is venturing into other drinks. So you do see high drinks. They do like growing five percent and even coffees significantly.
KHC: So there’s a developed market bias, which is obviously to grow more healthy. And there’s an emerging market base which is aspirational. Coca-Cola is aspirational. You cannot I mean, for people who have grown up on Cichon and warm water, right. They want to have Coke.
WSN: By the way, for those who are wondering what says is Chinese to eat.
KHC: Yeah, the chips drink you can find in a coffee shop.
I should know I’m from Penang.
WSN: But the street clearly loves it, right? I mean, when I’m looking at Bloomberg, the consensus price target is sixty U.S. dollars and twenty six cents. Current share price is fifty six dollars and fifty five cents. Still nineteen buys nine holes five times current earnings.
SM: Well when you think about it, this is probably super cash generative. So not surprising. It’s perfect. Right.
WSN: All right. I’m looking at another company that has its earnings out. Johnson and Johnson reported earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue rose up twenty seven percent to two point three billion U.S. dollars, beating the twenty two point two billion expectations.
Well, this is the pharmaceutical industry business, right? They developed the single shot covid-19 vaccine generating twelve point six billion in revenue, a seventeen percent year on year increase. Global sales just this quarter, 164 million. And I think that’s just just the beginnings of it, right?
KHC: Yeah. I mean, I recall a few weeks ago Pfizer talked about how they’ve seen they expect billions and billions of decades of billions of dollars in top line. And Pfizer’s it’s a very long tail. Pharmaceutical sales.
SM: There we go, 719 in the morning. Up next, we’re going to bring to you the major headlines in today’s papers and portals. Stay tuned. BFM eighty nine point nine.
Tony Nash joins the BFM team, giving them his views on the equity markets, fixed income market, Fed Reserve, and oil prices. What’s his recommendation to investors now that Dow, S&P 500, and more equity markets have reached a new all-time highs? And what about the consensus on oil? With all the changes in the markets, are we seeing a new economic model?
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PS: Really good day in the U.S. The Dow and S&P 500 were up 0.3%. The Nasdaq was flat. Shanghai is up 0.7%. But the rest of Asian markets were down negative. Heng Seng was -0.4%. Nikkei down 1%, FTI down 1.5%. And back home, FBI culture was also down 0.01%.
WSN: So to help us make sense of where markets are going, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Now, Tony, Nasdaq, S&P 500, Dow, all hit all-time highs. Does this make you actually nervous? Markets looking a bit toppish?
TN: I don’t know about toppish today, but I guess what people have to be aware of is how big is the gain from here? So whether you’re toppish now or toppish in October, you really have to be careful about the risk calculation right now and what your expectations are as things turn over in the coming quarter or two.
PS: But time to switch for anything. What asset classes or markets look attractive now?
TN: You know what. I think you just got to be careful all around. The expectation, evaluations, levels of investment, profits and so on seem pretty stretched as we’re in the middle of wage pressures, inflation pressures and stressed consumers. So I think there seems to be more risk than opportunity out there. So I think we’re in a pretty stretched market and short of more support from global governments. It’s really hard to justify significantly higher valuations.
SM: And everyone is, of course, looking at the Fed, where last night’s FOMC minutes, what financial markets expected from the Fed or or do you think they could have given more clarity on their monetary policy?
TN: Well, they can always give more clarity. I mean, there’s always kind of reading the tea leaves with the Fed. But I think what really came out of it was what was expected. It was pretty noncommittal. They said tapering is coming, but they didn’t say it’s coming soon. There’s no expectation of a rate hike hike soon. So it’s really the current status quo, whatever that is. But it’s kind of more of the same for more time.
We don’t really expect much to change in the Fed through 2022. Markets have sufficient headwinds as it is as the world re-normalizes. We don’t expect much exciting happening. We didn’t expect that this month. We don’t expect it for some time.
WSN: Is that why the 10-year bond yields in the U.S. dropped from a four-month low, 1.3163? I look at the bloom at the moment. DO you think…
TN: This could be. But it’s also, you know, the current Fed chair may not be renominated by Biden. And if Jerome Powell is out, we’re likely to see Lael Brainard come in, who is very much a monetary policy activist. So we could see a really active Fed, not a conservative and extremely dovish Fed if Lael Brainard comes in. So I think that could be part of the reason we’re seeing expectations change in some of the bond markets.
PS: Can we shift your attention over to oil? Because as you know, the lack of consensus in OPEC+ and with the failure to negotiate production quotas has really put pressure on oil prices again. Is this conflict going to introduce more short term volatility in oil markets?
TN: Sure, yeah. Until there’s agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, I think we are going to see volatility because as the UAE creates a gap in expectations, other players like Russia and other folks can potentially violate the OPEC+ agreement. OPEC doesn’t necessarily have a history of agreeing uniformly very often. OPEC+ agreement has been one where they’ve really abided by it pretty well. And so OPEC is more fractious than it is kind of universal. I think we’re going to see volatility for at least a short time. But I do think there is underlying strength in oil prices. We don’t expect the $100 oil any time this year. Some people are calling for that. But we do see continued build in the strength of oil prices through the end of the year marginal bill.
SM: All right. And looking at other indicators, I mean, the US economy is booming, but the US ISM non-manufacturing figure for June came in below market expectations. Could you give us some explanation on what were the reasons for that drop?
TN: You know, the main reason really is unemployment or employment. Companies have had to cope with fewer workers as these federal government subsidies have kept workers on the sidelines. Effectively, they’ve paid workers to sit at home more than they’d make in hourly jobs. And so small companies particularly have had to figure out a way to work without additional workers. So now a lot of those workers are coming off of the federal stimulus packages. But a lot of these small and mid-sized sized companies have kind of learned how to cope without as many workers.
So they’re not trusting new workers until wages really come down. So it’s really kind of putting an impediment in the path for especially small and mid-sized companies. And that’s where there’s a little bit of doubt in the ISM.
WSN: So are we seeing a new economic model then, Tony, where there’s a lot of what we expect in terms of the full and employment numbers will change?
TN: It’s a great question, I certainly hope not. Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen immense government intervention in markets globally. Was the stimulus too much? Was it misallocated? We can argue that all day long. But the fact is, we’ve seen immense government stimulus and it takes a long time for stimulus that large to wash through the system.
We’re seeing the back side and the down side of stimulus. You know, we’ve seen things like inflation rates rise, you know, all this stuff over second quarter, but that’s really just a year on year number. We’re seeing what’s called base effects there. We’re seeing the same in things like wages and impacts on markets from government activity. So Q2 was a huge anomaly for markets and for government because of what’s happening globally with Covid in Q2 of 2020. As we kind of come back to a relatively normal-ish market, maybe by Q4, you know, we’ll start to see more normal readings across wages across, profits and other things.
So there really is a slow build. And as more of that government stimulus gets pulled out of the market or at least slows down, we’ll start to see things normalize. I don’t necessarily think it’s a new model unless the government insists on continuing to intervene and subsidize markets.
WSN: All right. Thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his views on the equity markets and even the fixed income market. But what was really surprising is that he thinks Jerome Powell will be replaced as the Fed chair. I was like, “this is news to me. I thought he was doing an OK job.” And usually I would imagine Joe Biden leading them to do their thing.
PS: That’s right. I wouldn’t expect Joe Biden to have places, political perspectives in the appointment of the Fed chair. But I think there are a lot of key decisions that has to be made. And that whole link between the tapering of his asset purchases and adjustment of interest rates, how do you have that delicate balancing act will be very critical.
WSN: Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell worked well together and Janet Yellen is his appointment. So I’m a little bit surprised by this news. But other news that I was like kind of focused on was also the fact that he thinks at the energy market upside is limited. So I think all of us as investors have to adjust our expectations in terms of the returns, because if you talk about the rally from March 2020 lows to now, it’s about 90%. And that’s staggering.
PS: And Tony is alluding to the fact that the stimulus was too broad, not targeted enough, I think, which basically resulted in a wash of cash, I think, creating a lot of frothy markets. And this is the challenge now.
WSN: So how does the bubble kind of burst, right, without creating chaos? Absolutely. You kind of want to deflate it, but not so much.
SM: And can I also draw your attention to something else that Tony said that caught my eye, the fact that he thinks oil isn’t going to hit $100 per barrel. We’re actually going to be discussing more on oil later at seven thirty after the bulletin with Sally Yilmaz of Bloomberg Intelligence. So stay tuned for that conversation on what the oil market’s going to look like.