Complete Intelligence


QuickHit: $70 Crude & $5 Copper are coming

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


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


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This QuickHit episode was recorded on November 24, 2020.


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



Show Notes


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


TS: Right? You never know.


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


Top UK adviser refuses to quit for lockdown breaches

Our CEO and founder Tony Nash joins the Business Matters for an hour of discussion on Dominic Cumming, recent headlines in the USA, people in restaurants, government stimulus, opportunities in the pandemic, how careers and schools have changed, and what sorts of things are they buying online?


A related QuickHit episode, which you can watch here: We’re not going to normalize.


BBC’s description:

We talk to the BBC’s Politics Correspondent, Rob Watson about what Dominic Cummings’ future may hold. With our special guests Sushma Ramachandran, of the Tribune in Delhi, and Tony Nash, of Complete Intelligence in Houston, Texas, we talk about how India and parts of the United States are easing their lockdowns. We also look at how many people are looking to change careers, whether forced to or not.


Listen to the Business Matters podcast on BBC.


Show Notes


BBC: What do you feel about Dominic Cummings, especially in Texas or the USA?


TN: I don’t think anybody is surprised by this, that politicians have one rule for themselves and another one for everyone else.  Britain is not exceptional. What it shows is that we actually have a vibrant media that will report on this. That is the positive thing coming out of this. Every country has a politician that breaks the rules, but not every media in every country is brave enough to report it.


BBC: What are the headlines in the USA? What’s grabbing people’s attention?


TN: It’s an ongoing news cycle of trying to shame the states that open up. It’s really tiring, quite frankly.


BBC: When you say “shaming,” who do you refer to? I thought they all went up?


TN: They are planning to. But the early states when there’s an outbreak, there’s a very huffy approach to pointing to places like Texas, where I live, and saying that we’ve done it wrong, and saying that places with extended quarantine have done it right. Although, the incident rates in places like Texas are lower than in other places like New York or California. What’s really hitting in the media here is really trying to shame states, which are pretty much the southern states that are opening up first. There’s a stereotype that southerners are just stupid. And so it plays into this coastal narrative that southerners don’t know what they’re doing. Although the incidence in these states is lower than the coastal states.


BBC: What about the businesses that are opening up again? The restaurants, and staffing? Are there people around?


TN: It was a long holiday here, and I just took a short trip. The hotel I went to in, the restaurants I went to, said that they are understaffed. And although you see a number of 25-30 million people unemployed in the U.S., what these business owners have been telling me is that they cannot get the staff to come back because there’s a temporary unemployment kicker. So the longer people stay out of work, the more they get. They get an additional kicker from the U.S. And these are temporary. These will go away over time. In most cases, these are voluntary unemployment because they are making more money on unemployment than they would be going back in there job before.


BBC: Sounds like that it’s a problem that will be sorted out?


TN: It will over time. But there will be a lag. I think when people are accustomed to making more not working, they will question themselves as to whether or not they want to go back to their job, which is not a bad thing questioning their vocation. These are all good questions to ask.


BBC: Do you think the government will try to help green industries and take a leap role in new economies. Like new ones, as a result of this pandemic?


TN: I think we have. We have subsidies for green industries since, I think, 1997. It’s possible that there new ones as a result of this pandemic. I have a very different view around the revitalization of economies. The fact is governments stopped economies around the world. This is not a market failure. So I don’t care if you are a capitalist or a socialist system. Governments closed businesses. So if governments closed businesses, businesses have the responsibility and the accountability to restart those businesses. Because if they don’t, we’ll see civil unrest and political risks in ways that all these governments have not considered before they closed their economies down. I don’t think that this is a capitalist-socialist issue. It’s a fact that the government intervened to halt the economies around the world.


BBC: In what direction will they regenerate the economies or bring economies back to their level before?


TN: People are not really happy with the level of stimulus that they are receiving, because, at the end of the day, people are pointing at the government for stopping this. And if you isolate people for too long, they get really restless. We are facing real political issues and social unrest issues, unless governments, regardless of the economic structure in the economy, we will face real problems.


BBC: For entrepreneurs, is this a good time to start a business?


TN: I think it’s a good time for people to change direction, because any future potential employers, if you say, “I changed direction in the wake of COVID,” no ones going to question your motivation. They are going to understand that this was the time that everyone reassessed. For businesses that I’ve built, I built a business unit for The Economist. And one of them saw our most rapid growth during the last recession in 2009, very rapid growth. I think there are a lot of opportunities if you play it right. But it’s also a good time to start over.


BBC: Where would you put your money on? If you want to change career?


TN: I would put it on me. I run a business. I think we’ll see a lot of food startups. I hear a lot of people talk about food startups. Within 18 months, a lot of those will be out. But they will learn new skills. People are also going very local, which is a good thing.


I think people have been able to slow down. They realize that they wanted to focus on small things. I’m not sure how long this will last but this is good for a lot of people.


BBC: What will be the role of universities now? Will people think it’s a waste of time? Will the role of schools change?


TN: I think the role of universities has traditionally been to teach you how to think, not necessarily how to do. If universities are then focused on how-to-think activities, that’s a much better role for them. I don’t think vocational training is the best use of money for universities. They are moving toward helping people how to think, not how to do.


I run a company. I don’t need somebody with PhD. I just need somebody with very basic skills that they can learn through online courses and some practical evidence of what they do. In a lot of these things that are very vocationally-based, you don’t need a degree. You just need to know how to do it.


BBC: What have you been buying on a lockdown? We’re not going to shop as much as we used to?


TN: For some reason, we purchased two new skateboards. Like everyone else, we are no different on gardening. All of these have been fantastic to go very local and spend time with neighbors.


Will we go back to the stores? I don’t think we’ll do as much shopping, but I think we need the social interaction of shopping. There’s just something about the social interaction of shopping, which is necessary to our human condition. I go to Walmart here, and there’s just an element that’s necessary.