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BFM 89.9: Don’t Panic, Debt Default Will Not Happen

This podcast was originally published by BFM 89.9. Find the original link at

In this podcast episode from BFM 89.9, the hosts discuss the latest updates on global markets and dive into the US debt talks. They are joined by Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, who shares his perspective on the debt ceiling and its potential impact on the markets. Tony believes that a US debt default is unlikely and views the current concerns as overblown political maneuvering. He highlights that the debt ceiling issue arises regularly and is often resolved at the last minute, causing frustration among Americans.

The conversation then shifts to the state of the US economy, particularly the labor market. Tony notes that there is fatigue in jobs growth, with ongoing layoffs in various industries, including tech companies. The hosts also discuss the recent rise in the US April services PMI, indicating a shift from goods to services and suggesting continued growth in the services sector.

Nvidia’s quarterly results become the focus of the discussion, as the company outperformed expectations and experienced significant stock price growth. Tony explains that Nvidia is a key player in the AI infrastructure space and has benefited from the increasing adoption of AI and machine learning technologies. However, he cautions that the high valuation and potential impact of a recession on corporate infrastructure spending could affect Nvidia’s future performance.

The podcast concludes with a recap of Nvidia’s financial performance and analyst expectations, noting the positive sales figures and high target price. The hosts question whether a company involved in AI deserves the current forward PE ratio of 66 times.

Overall, this podcast provides insights into the US debt ceiling issue, the state of the labor market, and the performance of Nvidia in the context of the broader market trends.



This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The Business Station. BFM 89.9. It’s 7:06 A.M. On Thursday the 25 May. You’re listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar, with Wong Shou Ning and Mark Tan. In half an hour, we’re going to be discussing the outlook for Netflix and the US streaming services. But as always, we’re going to kick start the morning with a recap on how global markets closed overnight.


The markets are all red, probably thanks to the jitters surrounding the US debt talks. In the US markets, the Dow Jones was down 0.8%, S&P500 down 0.7%, and Nasdaq down 0.6%. Over here in the Asian markets, Nikkei down 0.9%, Hang Seng down 1.6%, Shanghai Composite down 1.3%, STI down 0.1%, and our own FBM KLCI down 0.1%.


All right, so for more insights on what’s moving markets we have on the line with us, Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks, as always, for joining us. So let’s start with what seems to be keeping markets on tenterhooks. In recent commentary, though, you’ve opined that a US debt default really isn’t on the table. So why do you say that? And why are current concerns of a debt default overblown, in your view?


Yeah, so the debt ceiling literally happens every other year in the US. And it’s happened for the past 15 years. So I’ve said this many times. This is shameless partisan positioning intended to show politicians coming to the rescue of a crisis that they created themselves. So they’ll get media attention. Then at the last minute, probably after the deadline, they’ll miraculously find a solution when everything seems the most chaotic. So this is something that most Americans are really frustrated by. It’s like we know they’re not going to default. If they do, it’s ridiculous, and it’s just shameless partisanship. So are people here worried? To be honest, not really. I think a bunch of portfolio managers are being very careful in markets, but on a personal level, I seriously doubt that many people are all that worried.


So, putting aside the political shenanigans, of much greater importance to global markets is the state of the US economy, particularly the labor market. Is there a sense of fatigue in jobs growth or more room for expansion?


There’s definitely fatigue. If we look at the data since the end of COVID there’s a metric that the Fed…


Okay, we’re going to try and get Tony back to talk more about what’s happening with the US labor market. But as he said earlier about the debt ceiling, he’s taken a little bit of a, I guess, sanguine tone on it. He’s less worried that debt default will actually have long term implications. He thinks things will be resolved, just that it’ll take a lot of drama to get there.


Yeah, but the consequences are already being felt. I mean, I’m seeing this headline on Bloomberg, United States may be cut by Fitch on debt limit fight because US ratings have been placed on Watch Negative from Outlook Stable by Fitch. So the rating watch reflects the increased political partisanship that is hindering reaching a solution to race or suspend a debt limit despite the fast approaching, as we call it, X State. This is the first rating agency that has already given them some warning snakes, right? And once this happens, what this means is that the cost of borrowing is going to rise quite significantly on top of the fact that the interest rate in the US is already 5.2%. I mean, the Feds have raised it what, ten times since last year?


There’s a lot of moving parts to this picture, and I think there’s also discussion on what is it that other stakeholders in the US government can do if Congress can’t get its act together, what can the Treasury do? Can the Fed do anything? In any case, I think the Treasury will probably try to prioritize the debts that it owes, which means that some people will may not receive their bills. I think looking at Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare, hospitals, roads, who’s going to maintain all that?


Well, I do think that we have Tony back on the line. Tony, can you hear us?


Hi, guys. There you go. Sorry about that.


No worries.


On the debt ceiling. What’s interesting what’s happened is this week people in Congress asked Janet Yellen how she did her calculation on finding that X date. So it’s a kind of mysterious calculation and nobody knows. So people are trying to dig into that to understand when actually is the date, because nobody’s showing any math, nobody’s showing any data around it. And again, it seems like this is being hyped as a political ploy. So what you rightly point out about if it does come, the US government will have to prioritize payments. Right? And that’s fine. But again, voters and legislators don’t actually know how she’s coming up with that X date and a lot of people just don’t trust her.


Well, coming back to the point we were discussing earlier on the labor market, Tony, what’s your sense of how jobs is doing there?


Yes, jobs are in a rough spot. So there’s a metric called continuous unemployment claims and they’re at their highest level since the end of 2021. So I know that isn’t a long period, but stimulus is worn off, consumer credit levels are rising really fast, and tech companies are still laying off staff. So Verizon, a big telecom carrier here, just announced today that they’re going to be doing layoffs. So we’ve seen the Amazon and Facebook. Facebook yesterday announced another layoff. And so what’s happening now? That those initial layoff announcements were made to give a boost to stock prices. But now that that boost is largely expanded, people are simply not hiring. So they’re choosing not to hire for open jobs as a way to contain their workforce through just retirements and quits and that sort of thing.


Now, Tony, the US April services PMI rose from 55.1 from 53.6, surpassing the market expectation of 52.6. Isn’t this further evidence that at least in this sector, growth hasn’t been tempered by inflation or the rate hikes?


Yeah, well, certainly I think what it’s showing is an ongoing shift from goods to services. So during COVID everyone loaded up on goods. For the past twelve to 18 months, we’ve seen a trade off of goods purchases to services purchases. That services PLI will likely continue for the next two to three months, partly because the summer here in the US is holiday season, it’s vacation season, and so services will continue to thrive through that period. So we would expect a services PMI decline, maybe not necessarily contraction, but at least decline in Q3, probably mid Q3.


Okay, Tony, can we talk about one results, one set of results that came out last night, and that’s Nvidia. Right. They really beat street expectations up 20 over percent stock price. This is one tech stock that has done exceptionally well, I think a lot to do with AI. Are you bull on this name?


Well, Nvidia has done very well, and definitely top line growth surpassed expectations. So Nvidia is to the AI boom, which Cisco was to the Internet boom 20 plus years ago. Right. So they’re selling the infrastructure for AI and machine learning and a lot of these new capabilities, and people need them. And that same infrastructure is used for crypto mining and other things. So they planned extremely well, and they’re kind of reaping the profits of that right now. So as long as we continue to see companies adopting and expanding AI and machine learning capabilities, the value in Nvidia should be there. I don’t necessarily want to make a prediction on the stock price where it is right now. It’s a pretty high price in terms of valuation and other things. But I think in terms of corporate performance, it’s certainly strong and will remain strong.


So do you think any stock that has an edge or have first mover advantage when it comes to AI deserves a premium? Just pretty much like Tesla when it comes to electric vehicles?


Well, I think when you’re looking at a stock value, you have to look at the forward expectations. And so do you believe, or does an investor believe that that company that provides either AI software or AI hardware or something like that, do they believe there’s growth in that area? And if they believe there’s growth, so what’s the multiple on that growth and how quickly will it come? That’s how people come up with those price expectations.


Yeah, because when I look at Nvidia, the Bloomberg showing a PE of 66 times forward PE. So it looks like markets are really expecting a lot of growth.


Oh, yeah, they do. And I think part of the problem is people really load up on hardware first. And so that growth may very well continue at that same pace. But it really all depends on what happens to corporate infrastructure spending. And if that corporate infrastructure, meaning IT infrastructure spending continues, then it’s really good news for Nvidia. If we do hit a recession, then corporate infrastructure spending could be hit and that could hit Nvidia in a negative way.


Tony, thanks as always for the chat. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, talking to us about some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead. Capping the conversation there with just some thoughts on how Nvidia has performed. And we do have their results coming out overnight, right? They did really well, performing well beyond Wall Street expectations. Their sales in the three months ending July will be about $11 billion, which is 53% higher than what analysts were foreseeing.


Revenue for the first quarter was $7.2 billion versus 6.5 expected, while earnings per share was $1.9 adjusted versus the $0.92 expected.


Okay. Sorry.


Net income was $2.5 billion versus $1.62 billion from the same period last year.


Okay. I’m so excited to tell you how many analysts cover this. Well, a lot. 44 buys, 13 holds. No sells at all. At all. Okay. So consensus target price, $307, which is already very, very close to the regular market hours share price, which was down one dollars. And but I know aftermarket hours, the stock boomed, shattered by ceiling by going up by 20%. So I won’t be surprised if a lot of the analysts actually rush out to upgrade. But the ceiling to me is the fact that PE forward PES are 66 times. Do you think a company involved in AI deserves 66 times? Which was my question for Tony.


That’s right. And I think AI is going to be driving a lot of investor interest in these kinds of stocks. But let’s turn to another stock in the tech sector that hasn’t been doing so well or hasn’t done so well recently. Then that’s snowflake. Their sales outlook for the current quarter fell short of analyst expectations, and this did lead to a share downturn. Snowflake software helps businesses organize data in the cloud, and their quarterly revenue is expected to be growing at 34%, but well below Wall Street expectations.


Snowflake also cut its outlook for the fiscal year, saying product revenue will be about $2.6 billion versus 2.7 it predicted early in March. Analysts had feared that a slowdown demand for cloud services would dance. Snowflake’s pay as you go model.




But still quite popular with analysts. 29 buys, 13 holds, two sells, albeit not as popular as Nvidia. Consensus target price for the stock, $188. Last time, priced during regular market hours, it was up all right at 718 in the morning.


We’re going to take a quick break, but we’ll come back to cover more top stories in the newspapers and portals this morning. Stay tuned BFM 89.9.


You you have been listening to a podcast from BFM 89.9, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the BFM app.

Week Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:



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

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CI Futures is available for $50 a month, $75 a month, or $99 a month. You can find out more or get a demo on Thank you.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Sorry, go ahead.


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


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

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


I think so.


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


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

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

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


Right? Go ahead, Tracy.


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


And I try not to be.


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


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


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


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


Million dollars?


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


Crazy, right?


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


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


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


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


That would be a good focus.


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


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


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

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


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


Exactly. Exactly.


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


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


Right, exactly. No, exactly.


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


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


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


Shows you how powerful oil is.


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


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


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


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




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


It was probably him.


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


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


So when it’s piped, it’s fine.




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thank you.

Week Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the 54th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash and today we’re joined by Michael Kao. Michael is @urbankaoboy on Twitter. He’s an ex-hedge fund manager and now he’s a private investor. We’re also joined by Albert Marko, who you’re well familiar with, and Ralph Schoellhammer, who is at Webster University in Vienna and he’s a political economics expert.


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

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

Is that kind of what the basis was of this?


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


And he was actually very popular when he did that.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


If I can interject Michael, we can.


Go on and on.


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


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


Yeah, exactly.


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


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


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




Do you think it’s eliminated, Michael?


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




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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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




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


Ralph, jump in.




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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Can I ask Ralph a question?


Absolutely, sure.


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


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


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


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


Nothing comes to my mind.


Well, ASM Lithography.


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


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


So huge benefit.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


I call that the grativerse.


Yeah, we’ll all be driving.


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


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


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


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




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


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

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


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


Okay, well, that’s it.


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




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


And that’s normal, right?


That’s healthy.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


I thought you were a source, Albert.


Right, because I talked to you about.


It a couple of times.


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


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


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


Yeah, go ahead, Mike.


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


Right. Yeah. It’s very inefficient.


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


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


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


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


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


Of course.


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


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


Thank you for doing this.


Thank you.


BFM 89.9: Should The Fed Have Gone For 50bp?

This podcast was originally published on

The Morning Run podcast by BFM 89.9 featured Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, discussing the state of the US economy, market movements, and supply chains. The podcast began with a brief overview of the previous day’s market performances. The key US markets had ended in the green, while all Asian markets were in the red, except for the FBMKLCI, which was up by 0.3%.

The podcast host then discussed with Tony the state of the US economy. The US retail sales in January increased the most in two years, and the home builder sentiment rose in February by the most since 2020. Meanwhile, US inflation rose by 0.5% in January. According to Tony, these indicators suggest that there is still demand, and consumers are still willing to spend. Companies are able to raise prices pretty dramatically, resulting in more revenue and faster growth, even if the volume of sales is slightly lower. Tony believed that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates. He felt that the Fed should have kept the foot on the brake a little more in the last meeting when they hiked by 50. He thinks that the interest rate will remain at 25 for the next three meetings, but the question is how much beyond that will they raise it.

The podcast then moved on to discuss company performance, particularly in the tech industry. Cisco delivered strong results and beat street expectations, suggesting that companies still have money for capex. Tony believed that companies are having to build out more robust technology infrastructure for their existing operations, which is good for tech infrastructure companies like Cisco. However, there is a divergence in the tech industry, with old tech like HP Enterprise and Cisco doing better than new tech like Apple and Amazon. Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Meta suffer on the ad side because there is a growing supply of ad space, but there are not as many ad dollars, and companies have generally less to allocate to marketing on a proportional basis.

Finally, the podcast touched on supply chains. Tony believed that supply chains have generally recovered, partly due to the falling demand. However, there are still challenges, particularly with logistics and labor shortages. Companies are looking at how to reduce supply chain risks and increase resilience, including reshoring and nearshoring. Tony believed that the current supply chain challenges could last up to two years, and he recommended that companies should develop more robust supply chain strategies.

In summary, Tony Nash shared his insights into the state of the US economy, the tech industry, and supply chains during The Morning Run podcast. He believes that there is still demand in the US economy, with consumers willing to spend and companies able to raise prices. The tech industry is experiencing a divergence between old and new tech, with old tech companies doing better. The supply chains have recovered, but there are still challenges, particularly with logistics and labor shortages. Companies should develop more robust supply chain strategies to increase resilience and reduce supply chain risks.


This is a podcast from BFM 89.9, The Business Station.

BFM 89.9, 7:05 A.m. On Thursday, the 16 February you are listening to The Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning and Chong Tjen. Now, in half an hour, we’re going to move the proposal for Petronas to be publicly listed in order to pare down national debt. But we are going to kickstart the morning as we always do, and it looks like it’s going to be a glorious morning with a look at how global markets closed overnight.

So all key US markets ended in the green. The Dow was up 0.1%, S&P 500 up 0.3%, NASDAQ up 0.9%. In Asian markets, they were all in the red, except for our very own FBMKLCI. The Nikkei was down 0.4%. Hang eng down 1.4%. Shanghai Composite down 0.4%. The Straits Times Index down 1.1%. But the FBMKLCI, it was up by 0.3%.

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. Now, US retail sales in January jumped at the most in two years, and home builder sentiment rose in February by the most since 2020. While US inflation rose by 0.5% in January. What do all these indicators tell us about the state of the US economy?


It says that there’s still demand. It says that consumers are still willing to spend and that people really aren’t slowing down. We’re seeing things like price over volume. Meaning as we see more companies report, their earnings reports, they’re able to raise prices pretty dramatically, say, eight to say 12%, generally with a volume decline of, say, one to 3%, meaning the number of sales. Okay, so these companies are choosing to raise their prices and have fewer sales, but it results in more revenue and faster growth. So consumers are willing to pay more. They’re just buying slightly less of things.


And Tony, taking all this into account, what do you think the Federal Reserve will likely do next?


Yeah, they’re going to continue to raise. I do think that Powell missed a trick in hiking 50 in the last meeting. I do think they probably should have kept the foot on the brake a little bit more as a transition from 75 to 25. But I think for 25, it’s kind of as far as the I can see right now, at least while the current pace of the economy holds up. So, you know, we’ll certainly see 25 for the next three meetings. The question is, how much beyond that will we see it?


And Tony, are you in the camp where I have seen more economists raising their forecast for US GDP growth? I see numbers jumping from 1% to 2% for the first quarter. Are you in that camp?


Our view has been 1.4 this year, so it really hasn’t changed.




We do reforecast each month.

CI Futures covers 50+ economies around the world. You can see historical data and forecasted data in an instant, like the US GDP here. Learn more about CI Futures:


All right. And then looking at some results right. Old tech, Cisco delivered really good numbers, beating street expectations with strong spending on tech infrastructure, suggesting that companies still have money for capex. Is this indicative that actually companies are doing better than we expected?


Well, I’m not sure it means companies are doing better because earnings generally are on a slowing trend. But I think what it means is that companies are having to build out more robust technology infrastructure for their existing operations. And that’s good for the tech infrastructure companies like Cisco. So we are at the emergence of a new tech cycle with generative AI, there’s a ChatGPT and so on. So companies are going to need more robust infrastructure to deal with that.


But then we also notice there’s a divergence right when it comes to results. So old tech like HP Enterprise and Cisco doing better versus new tech like you see results being soft from the likes of Apple, Amazon. Will this divergence continue?


Well, I think when you look at things like Apple, Amazon, Meta, these sorts of guys, part of their revenues are ad revenues. And what’s happening on the ad side is we have a growing, say, supply of ad space with different companies coming on, like Netflix offering ad models. So there’s more ad supply. There are not as many ad dollars out there, or even if you assume the same ad dollars. With inflation, people are having to make trade offs. Companies are having to make trade offs, so they have generally less to allocate to marketing on a proportional basis. But there’s more ad supply out there. So many of those tech companies where ads are a part of their revenue mix, they’re suffering on the ad side.


Turning our attention to supply chains. During the Pandemic, the world faced a series of supply chain stresses made worse by the Ukraine conflict and China’s sporadic lockdowns. Do you think that global supply chains have recovered? Are they functioning better now? Or do you still see some kind of rocky road ahead?


I’d say generally supply chains have recovered. Part of that is demand falling. So we had in the port of Long Beach, we had the volume declined by about 28% in January. So the volume of imports have have actually gone down year on year on the west coast of the US. So the demand there is slowing. We’ve seen one of the indicators is headcount cuts. Guys like Federal Express or FedEx and UPS are cutting headcount. FedEx has announced about a 10% workforce cut, which tells me those are usually the guys who see the supply chain issues first and the guys who see the slowdowns first as well. So if they’re cutting staff, it tells me that some of these things are really slowing down.

When we look at delays at Chinese port, for example, they’re about half the time of what they were about a year and a half ago. So they’re not really bad at all. And then when we look at, say, freight that’s waiting on ships that’s down dramatically to, say, Q1 of 2020 levels before all of the COVID stuff set in. There’s a great just for your listeners, keel. The Kiel, K-I-E-L, I think in Germany has a great indicators on supply chain delays. So I would recommend you guys to check that out.


And Tony, ASEAN is a key player in this global supply chain. Which countries in this region are likely to be major outperformers in that regard?


Well, you guys know Malaysia is seeing more inward investment, especially around electronics, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some upside in Malaysia. I know the expectations for Malaysia aren’t as aggressive as, say, Indonesia or Vietnam, but it’s possible that Malaysia overperforms those expectations. Indonesia, I think there are a lot of expectations on indonesia’s outperformance partly on AG prices, but also partly on movement of some manufacturing to Indonesia, which has a pretty low base. And then Vietnam, of course, you know, we’ve seen blistering growth in Vietnam. We expect that to continue as people look for a substitute for Chinese supply chains.


And Tony, are you still a bull on energy stocks? Because if you look at the sector, it’s the worst performing in the S&P 500 today and also for the month so far. We see energy stocks all coming under pressure, I think in part due to all prices stagnating and weak earnings from some of these companies. Is it time to buy or is it time to just step back and say, hey, maybe I should cash in my chips?


Yeah, I think you have to look at the different segments of energy. So, for example, oilfield service providers, we’re starting to see upstream, meaning people who take oil and gas out of the ground starting to spend on development outside of the US. So some of these oil and gas services providers, it’s a very interesting space to look at right now because we haven’t had CapEx in so long in oil and gas. And as we get that, we could see some of these service providers do really well. In terms of oil price. I do think that we do see upward pressure. I don’t think anybody really expected that to hit in Q1, but as we end Q1 and go into Q2, we do start to see that. And I think we do see I don’t think we see two or $300 crude oil this year, but I think low 100s, 110s, high 90s. I think those are definitely within possibility and likelihood.


Tony, thanks very much for speaking with us today. 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. Ending the conversation there with just a projection on how oil prices could be trending later on this year.

Yeah, so I think we’ll have to watch this space. But I want to focus on one of the names that I mentioned earlier on, which is Cisco. Right. So their results came out. In fact, it went up 8% after market hours trading because the street was really impressed with the numbers. Apparently the earnings, the last time we saw this kind of level earnings was in 2013, and that’s like a long time ago. So a lot of attention on Wall Street has been on what I call the new tech. So Amazon, meta, Apple, Microsoft, even on some level. But there’s a little bit of a shift. And I think what these names are showing is that, hey, there is still spending out there.

Yeah, I think the CEO actually said that the public sector business performed stronger than expected as compared to historically. While in the service provider category, some customers are adjusting to better delivery of the company’s products into the environment. In terms of the guidance for the next quarter, Cisco is guiding adjusted earnings of 96 to 98 cents to share and revenue of roughly about 14.25 to 14.5 billion dollars.

So currently the street doesn’t really like this name that much because there’s only 14 buys, 15 holds, and one sell. Consensus target price for the stock is $53.83. Like we say, it was already up 8% after market hours, right. I won’t be surprised. After these set of numbers, we will see quite a number of upgrades on this name because the company is already suggesting on giving guidance a more positive one.

That’s right. Their guidance is more positive for the next quarter. But turning our attention to other earnings report we have, the Canadian ecommerce platform Shopify. Shopify, in contrast to Cisco, didn’t have such a great report. They reported a loss of $623.7 million in the fourth quarter after adjusting for stock based compensation, gains on investments and other costs. The company reported earnings of 7 cents a share, down from adjusted earnings of 14 cents per share in the holiday quarter.

And revenue came in at about $1.73 billion, up from $1.38 billion. And the analysts on average expected an adjusted loss of a penny a share on sales of about $1.65 billion. The company said Black Friday sales rose close to 20% last year from 2021. And this year is working to recover from a misplaced bet that the Pandemic Field search in online shopping would become more permanent. Although he’s cut jobs, raised prices, and expanded offerings to merchants.

19 buys, 25 holes, five sells. Consensus target price for the stock, $46.48. Actually, the current share price is already above that, to $53.39 year to date. Actually, the stock is up 53%, but I think came from a very low base because 2022 was very painful for them.

All right, 07:17 A.m.. We’re going to take a quick break, but we’ll come back and cover more top stories in the newspapers and portals this morning. Stay tuned to BFM 89.9 you have.

Been listening to a podcast from BFM 89.9, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the BFM app.

Week Ahead

US Policy for Small Businesses: The Week Ahead – 17 Oct 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here.

We’ve had several policies that have hurt small businesses, especially since the advent of Covid. The US administration just implemented a policy to move gig/independent workers to employee status. How does this hurt small businesses? Carol Roth, our special guest for this episode, discussed that in this Week Ahead.

Also, we’ve seen a lot of negative news this week with producer prices, wages, consumer prices rising. One Twitter user asked what would Carol do if she was in charge? What would she do and how does she think it’d help?

Albert helped us look at the Fed and is the dovish Fed dead? We’ve known this for some time, and there were hopes for a pivot, but that seems to be over.

Tracy also talked about diesel inventories, which she talked about for a very long time. She helped us dig into that in this episode.

Key themes
1. US policy punishing small businesses
2. The dovish Fed is dead
3. Diesel inventories
4. The Week Ahead

This is the 38th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:

Time Stamp:
0:48 Key themes for this week ahead
2:43 US policy on gig workers
7:48 Is this to slow down job creation?
10:00 What other things will make things uncompetitive for small businesses?
12:07 What adjustments would Carol Roth do if she’s with the Fed?
16:47 Debt buying and the Fed
19:00 Forecasts for some currencies
20:00 Does the Fed understand that this is a supply-induced inflation?
23:50 They’re not thinking through the political fallout
25:25 Is diesel priced in dollars globally? And what’s the impact?
28:00 How long does the diesel shortage last?
31:34 What’s for the week ahead?


Tony Nash: Hi, everybody, and welcome to the week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we are joined by Carol Roth. Carol is from Chicago. She’s the author of the War on small business. She’s got an amazing Twitter following an amazing Twitter presence. Carol, thanks so much for joining us. Really looking forward to getting your perspectives today. 

We also have Albert and Tracy and I’m looking forward to getting their views on the Fed and on energy today as well. The key themes today we’re looking first at US policies punishing small business. Carol has a really unique perspective, obviously a book on the broader implications of this, but there are some recent policies that she’s been focusing on that will talk about some of those things. 

Next. Albert will help us dig into the Fed. And are we looking at the end of the Dovish Fed? I think we’ve known this for some time, but there’s always kind of been some hope that there’s going to be some sort of pivot and that seems to be over. 

Next we’ll look at diesel inventories. Tracy has been talking about this for a long, long time, but it really seems to be coming to a head. So we’ll dig into that today as well. Please take a look at our product CI Futures. It’s a forecast subscription product. It’s $99 a month. We cover a few thousand assets over a twelve month horizon economics, currencies, commodities, equity indices. So please take a look at that. The URL is on the screen. Thanks a lot for that.

Before we move on, please like this video, please subscribe to this video. You’ll be able to see all of them and we really want you to be able to see us every week as we bring these in.

So Carol, thank you very much for joining us. I know you’re busy, really demanding schedule. It means a lot to us that you could join us. So thank you very much.

Carol Roth: This is an amazing crew and I can’t believe you left out recovering investment banker out of my introduction because that’s really the most important part,

TN: Right, exactly. And a Raiders fan as we learned last week over Twitter as well. So we’ll forgive you for that. Anyway, thanks very much. I love the work you do on small business. And you’ve been talking about a recent policy and we’ve got a tweet of yours on the screen talking about the Bind regime pushing gig employees to be full time employee status with companies. Can you talk us through what that means for small businesses and why is that a competitive disadvantage?

CR: Yeah, I think the first thing that people really need to understand is how important small business is to the economy. Because I think a lot of people think, oh, it’s small, it’s just a little piece. Before COVID, small business was about half the GDP and about half the jobs. And at this point we have about 32 6 million small businesses in the US.

So if you’re somebody who believes in the concept of decentralization and that being important to economic freedom, this is the decentralized portion of the economy. This is very independent. It’s very spread out geographically via industries backgrounds. Whatnot by the way which is why big business, big governments and big special interests don’t like small businesses because they’re very hard to corral. If you look at the other half of the economy, it’s in the hands of 20 plus thousand big businesses. So it really is that sort of David versus Goliath battle but also this battle between decentralization and centralization. And we have seen all of these efforts over a long period of time to destabilize small businesses and to make competitive advantages to really tip the free market in favor of those big businesses.

And certainly the policies around COVID right, were the biggest example of that ever. It was an epic wealth transfer from Main Street to Wall Street done not based on data and science but based on political cloud and connections. So now that we kind of know what the story is in terms of this unholy triumvirate, if you will, the big business, the big special interest, big government attacking small businesses, you then look as to what else they can do to really make it harder for small businesses to compete.

So there’s this Department of labor ruling that’s come out. It’s followed something called AB Five in California. If anybody has heard or followed what was going on in California and then it has been and passed the House on a federal basis under the Pro Act. But basically the idea is they want to take gig workers and independent contractors which by the way the estimates, they number around 53 million people in the United States. 

So again, this is not a small number of people who are being affected and they want to say you can no longer have the freedom to decide how you work. We don’t want you to be able to enter into a contract in a way that works for you. We don’t want you to have that flexibility. You have to be an employee. Now this may sound like, oh well, that sounds great for people.

Why would they not want to be an employee? Well, there are a lot of reasons why you don’t want to be an employee. The first is you might not have that opportunity. And that’s the biggest issue because it is very difficult. And the government are the ones who have made this very difficult for a company to hire their first employee and also to keep them on an ongoing basis. 

If you hire somebody as an employee versus a contractor, you have to pay in a portion to Social Security. It affects interest. It can affect your 401K or step plans. It just kind of reverberates throughout your business and so it becomes very challenging and difficult. So if you are a small business who maybe gets busy during a certain season or need help just in certain areas, you tend to bring on independent contractors. Or if you’re creative, if you’re running a movie, you’re obviously not bringing everybody unnecessarily as an employee. You might have a caterer who comes in and feeds people, or if you’re a hairdresser, you may want to rent out a chair in a salon. And the salon doesn’t have the wherewithal to make these employees.

So they’re framing this as we’re trying to help the employees. This is going to really stick it to big business. But there are literally hundreds and hundreds of different categories of employees. Anybody who’s a 1099 employee and doesn’t have a business entity that this will threaten not only their economic freedom, the ability to work the way that they want to be flexible, but literally their livelihoods.

So if you believe in choice, it should be your work, your choice. And now the Department of labor wants to give another giveaway to all of those big special interests.

TN: So, Kara, when we’re in an environment right now where the Fed is trying to slow down job

creation, our small company is the largest portion of job creation as well. So is that another tool potentially, maybe unintended or not, I don’t know to slow down job creation? 

CR: Yeah, I mean, certainly if you think of the small companies, they’re the ones that don’t have the financial wherewithal or the fortress balance sheets. They have not been loading up on the cheap debt because they have to personally guarantee it and don’t have the same scale as the big companies. So it’s a challenge for them to survive an environment where the Fed is going, we’re going to destroy demand. It’s basically we’re going to destroy the little guys who can’t endure this pain. So that’s small business. And you’re right. Having the ability to be flexible going, well, maybe I can’t hire an employee, but maybe I can hire somebody as a contractor parttime, and when things get better, I can bring them on as an employee. Or maybe this is just a flexible way that we can work in the future so we can have different people and they can also work with different companies in a way that suits them.

Absolutely. This is going to be on the shoulders of small business. And as they always do, they say, oh, this is an attack on Uber and Lyft. When this happened in California, Uber and Lyft went out and they put it on the ballot. They got an exemption, but they didn’t take everybody else with them. They just got it for a handful of big industries. And all of the other small guys were basically screwed.

So the idea that this is somehow in an attack in the front against the big guys and the small guys are going to come out smelling like a rose is a joke. If you believe that. I’ve got a bridge to sell.

TN: You right. Okay. So we have small businesses that just barely made it through COVID. So that was really a regulatory way to suffocate small business. And my company is one of them that scraped through and now we have these full time employee regulations coming in from the Department of labor. Are there other things on the horizon that you’re seeing that could make it even more uncompetitive for small businesses?

CR: I mean, everything that they’ve done is making it noncompetitive for small business, whether it’s regulation. You think about all of these minimum wage regulations and how these big companies like Amazon and Walmart have shifted their position and decided to lobby for them. Well, why do you think that is? That’s because they know they’re going to pay that level anyway and they don’t want to have the flexibility for the smaller companies to be able to maneuver around.

That certainly a higher interest rate environment messing with the labor force in general, let alone having a rule like this. The supply chains, the decisions that were made, whether it was a direct you have to close your business down or these indirect issues that affected labor supply, whatnot they killed by mandate around seven figures worth of small businesses. And unfortunately, Tony, as you’ve shared personal stories, there are many others that are just scraping by to survive.

And it’s just this like, you know, you get knocked down, you get up again and then they just keep knocking you down and you keep knocking you down. If you wanted people to succeed, if you wanted people to pursue the American dream, if you wanted economic freedom, you would be working to remove

barriers, make it easier for people to work, make it easier for companies to hire in the way that makes sense for both parties, and make it easier to be a small business. And every single thing that comes out

of government at all levels, by the way, it’s not just federal, but state and local is doing the exact opposite.

TN: Yeah, it’s overwhelming. We could talk about just that alone for hours. Let’s move on to former investment banker Warden Grad. You know your way around the economy. There is a tweet put out a few days ago asking you, if you had the big chair, what adjustments would you make to the economy, monetary policy, whatever, to change the environment today to make things better? What are a few things that you would do if you were Chair Powell or Janet Yellen or something like that?

CR: Burn the fed down. I burned down the Federal Reserve. The very first order of business, I put myself out of a job. And I say that kind of jokingly, but I like to clarify. I would take away the Fed’s powers because as I’ve said to many people before, the only thing worse than the Fed making monetary policy decisions and meddling in the markets and doing things like printing money and whatnot would be Congress doing that? So you don’t want to have those if you get rid of the Fed, you don’t want to have somebody else take away the powers. We’re really getting at, you know, getting rid of those powers to interfere. So that would be the first thing I would do.

But obviously that would not solve what is going on. Now. This is not going to be a surprise to any of you, but what we’re dealing with right now is a supply side imbalance. And it has been. They stimulated demand, but they stimulated it into a supply constrained economy. And so we are under supplied, as I know Tracy tweets about all the time in energy, certainly in labor, as we’re talking about food, housing, other commodities. So I personally don’t believe that the Fed has the tools to solve this problem and attack it. And frankly, I think that they’re going to just cause a massive amount of destruction not only here in the US. But reverberating through the global economy, which then swings back and has an impact on the US.

So what needs to be done, again, are policies that remove barriers to supply. What we’ve been talking about, certainly on the energy front, anything that we could do to stimulate supply of energy, which again, do it here, where we do it more cleanly, and not let China and Venezuela and all these countries that don’t do it cleanly be the ones to do that. Because the last time I checked, we all share the same air. It’s not like you believe in a smoking section, right? Like, oh well, they’re just smoking over there, we’re great over here in the same restaurant. Like, that’s so stupid.

So we would obviously do a 180 on energy policy. The same thing with labor. All the things we’re talking about make it easier for companies to hire people to go to work in the way that they want to work and then we close that gap in the labor market, which is insane. 

The same thing in housing. The National Association of Home Builders did a study last year. $94,000 in regulatory costs are added to the cost of every new home from the government. I mean, that’s insane. The average house is almost 4000. So like 25% of the cost is in regulation. And I’m not saying we don’t need anything, but that’s certainly excessive and it’s gone up by something like 30% to 50% over a very short period of time. So it’s those kinds of things that the policies need to be focused on stimulating the supply and shrinking that supply, demand and balance by increasing supply, not by trying to kill the demand. And that’s just where I land on it.

Albert Marko: That’s exactly what I was tweeting last few months now. And actually on the show is they are trying to create demand destruction, but the problem is the supply disruption that they’re creating and they put themselves in a doom loop to where when demand comes back, there’s no supply. So you get a cycle of inflationary situations happening, and it’s bad here, it’s worse in Europe and it’s even worse in Asia. So we’re going to be stuck in this until the policies start changing, not just from the Fed, but it’s got to be political also because the governments are doing this COVID zero in Asia and the energy crisis in Europe, and they’re just making it worse. So until those policies change, we’re going to be stuck in this cycle.

TN: Yeah. So I respect both of you, but the Fed doesn’t. So they’re going to do whatever the hell they want. What’s really interesting to me is you guys may have seen today. The treasury was asking investment banks. Hey. Do we need to buy some of the debt off of you so that we can create some liquidity in debt markets. Just basically transfer some cash to you so we can take some of those assets off your balance sheet.

Whether it’s the Fed or the treasury or whatever is done. It just seems like the benefit is for the small circle of people. And when you talk about whether it’s interest rates or QT or whatever, it seems like interest rates are the bluntest instrument that hit the biggest number of people. Right. And it’s hard for me to understand why that’s absolutely necessary.

And Albert, we’re going to segue into your section on the death of the Davis Fed. If we look at interest rates, we’re looking at a terminal rate about around 5% now. Right. And so help me understand what is happening with the Fed, what you’re hearing, what you’re seeing and what you’re expecting for the next couple of months.

AM: Well, I mean, everything at this point well, it should have been for a year now, but everything from this point on is strictly to combat inflation. They are getting screamed at by literally everybody to get the 5.5%. Not just five, they’re going to get the 5.5%. They’re going to do 75 again on this next meeting and then another 75 after that. And their intention is demand destruction. That’s what they’re going to do. And they’re not going to be dovish anymore. But they’re have to walk a tightrope here because Europe, they’ve destroyed so much in the global market, specifically Europe that lost 30 trillion in the bond market, that it could be a systemic problem.

And they can’t have that, so they’ll do 70. Five to 75. Talk guidance extremely hawkish. They’re intent on trying to get inflation down until November and December.

TN: November and December.

AM: They’re going to do 75 both. And they’re just going to have to because their time is out and they have

no more tools left to hit. Inflation at JPY at. Euro will be at 90.

TN: And JPY will be what?

AM: I don’t know the correlation on that one off hand, but the euro is definitely going to go to 90. 90 to 90 on this. But it’s all $30 trillion, Tony. That’s a lot of money. The only people in the money. Yeah, it’s still a lot of money. So when the treasury starts talking about, do we need to buy debt back from banks? Is that the US. Banks or is that European banks? Because I guarantee there’s going to be some European banks in there.

TN: Oh, they have to be. Yeah.

AM: Like I said, they’re causing systemic problems and they can’t have your completely blow up. I mean, they’ll use them for a scapegoat to stop QT announce QT stop. But that’s where we’re at it right now.

TN: Okay, so does the Fed understand that this is largely supply induced inflation?

AM: No, they don’t. They don’t? No, because people do what they know, right? If you go back and you look at what Yelen did, when I say Fed, I just toss in the treasury at the same time because they’re one of the same. They talk. They talk, and they have correlating policies and whatnot. And if you look back in 2013, this is what Yellen did last time. She drove the dollar up, crushed the markets, and drove all the money back into the United States. Yes, the United States market looks all beautiful at 3600 to 3700, and people talking about Fed pivots and 3900 in the es, but it’s not real.

CR: Okay, so first of all, can we just discuss the fact that between the time that Janet Yellen was Fed chair and Treasury Secretary, the woman pulled down over $7 million in economic speeches when she didn’t know how to handle, you know, coming out of quantitative easing. She didn’t see inflation. She said that I think this was actually from you, Tracy, but she said that everything looked great in the treasury markets and then the next day went, oh, yeah, I’m worried about liquidity. I mean, clearly, I’m not sure she knows anything. 

And I want to know how to get in on that gig in terms of making that money for speeches for something that you know nothing about. But I find it hard to believe since everybody and their brother has been talking about all of the issues that are going to happen here. 

And maybe it’s my wart and bias, but I go along with Jeremy Siegel, noted finance professor who’s been out there hammering the Fed, saying, look, first of all, you not only do you not necessarily have the tools we’ve seen some elements of demand destruction in small places, and it takes a while to work through the system.

So if you go too fast, kind of like you didn’t see it on the front side, you’re going to do the same thing and you’re going to overshoot. But the bigger issue alluding to what Albert said is the potential to drag down the global economy. I mean, that the fact that you can end up with currency crises, with a treasury market crises, the whole slew of risk assets could be a massive sale of risk assets so that they

could get their hands on dollars because the Fed wants to keep raising interest rates.

It just seems to me it’s not a question of do they not know this? It’s a question of what’s their intention are. They trying to drag down the global economy so there is a financial reset, so they can introduce some sort of a central bank digital currency and have an excuse for it. It just seems to me to go, oh, they’re ignorant of what’s going on. When every single one of us sees this, you’ve got the IMF talking about it, you’ve got professors talking about it.

The fact that this hasn’t crossed their mind with the people that are involved yelling aside, but the Powells of the world and other folks there, that just seems not very likely to me.

AM: No, it’s not. A lot of it is political right there’s. U.S. Midterms, they don’t want Trump back, so they start throwing in these economic numbers to make Biden Democrats look good. And that screws up Fed

policy going forward. I mean, Yellen takes a dollar up, the Fed gets stuck, and then they have to go back and create a new crisis in Europe or Ukraine or whatever crisis they want to create sometime in the future to blame for everything. Yeah, I think the Fed guys are smart. I think they do know these are not stupid people, although certain people, they. Know they just don’t care.

TN: I think you’re right. I think they don’t care. But what I think they’re not thinking through is the political fallout we saw that Chancellor or the exchequer in the UK kicked out today after about two weeks in office or something. And that’s relatively light compared to what happened in Sri Lanka a few months ago and what’s happening in Africa, what’s happening in, say, Pakistan, Bangladesh, what’s happening in Latin America.

So I think we’ll see political fallout here as a result of the Fed’s inability to understand the implications. Where it will really hurt is if it hits Japan and you get minority party in Japan back in power. They’ll pay attention then. And if you see powers in Europe that aren’t favorable to the US. But that’s already kind of starting to see Czech Republic and Hungary, certainly we’ve. Already started to see this, and it’s just getting started. 

We thought we saw populism in 2016. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. I think we’re going to see

this in a big way globally.

AM: Yeah, Tony, you’re right. I mean, the Europeans are absolutely screaming at yelling about this because she straight up lied to them about the bond market. She can’t even talk to the Norwegians

or the Swiss at the moment. This is how bad it’s become.

TN: Yes, I believe it. Okay, so let’s move on to energy. Tracy, you’ve talked a lot about distillates for a reason, warned us for months about diesel shortages and diesel prices, and it seems like it’s really coming back. And as you talk about this, I want to understand, is diesel priced in dollars globally? And so is that going to hit supply chains in other countries as well because of the pricing basis of diesel. Coming out of refineries

Tracy Shuchart: diesel’s price in local currencies and trade in local currencies. Products are crude, obviously, prices in dollars and traded that way globally, except for some instances. But products are generally like Nat gas, it’s traded in different currencies. But really, I mean, we were having a diesel problem. This started back in 2021, so this is nothing new. I was tweeting about it summer of 2021. I was really worried about distalates. I started tweeting about that then because I saw our inventory slow down. It’s even worse now. 

But what’s come to a head all of a sudden, and what’s making this obviously 10 million times worse, is that Europe, for instance, mostly bought diesel from Russia, and they’re trying to lean off of that, right? And so in the meantime, the US. Is trying to supply Europe with diesel. But now over the last week, we’ve had three weeks of ongoing refinery strikes with total. So France has 2500 gas stations that have at least one product that is completely gone, and 2000 of them are shut down entirely. And then we just had a malfunction in the Netherlands and Shells Curtis refinery, which is the largest diesel refinery in all of Europe. 

So right now we have a massive global problem that is just getting worse. And if you see the diesel crackspreads have been they’re ridiculously flowing out. And backwardation is flying right now, which is kind of obscene. In the meantime, we’re still drawing these distills. We had a 9 million build and a 4 million draw in distance, and we’re headed into winter. So we’re going to have major problems here already in the United States, particularly in the Northeast, because they don’t have the refinery capacity there to really supply that area.

TN: Okay, so what does that mean? How long does this last? Does it last into spring? Does it last beyond spring? I’m curious about the magnitude of the impact on price, but I’m also curious about the duration, how long this is going to last.

TS: Well, you know, I mean, this has pretty much been gone ongoing since 2021. We’ve had times where it’s worse and times where it’s not. But it’s been over a year now, over a year and a half now. I don’t see that going away anytime soon because we don’t have the supply. We don’t have enough heavy oil to, you know, to make these products globally, especially when you’re cutting off Russia, because that’s what they produce is heavy oil. You’ve got Venezuela that’s producing 700K bpd. They’re not producing anything. And most of that’s going to China to pay for debts. We don’t have them. We’ve got Canada, but we don’t want to build pipelines right. For that. We can import more for that. So, I mean, we have kind of a global shortage of heavier oils. And sure, we get some from the Middle East.

That’s fine. We get some from Saudi Arabia. They own motiva here in the United States. And certainly they do produce diesel, but it’s still it’s still not enough. And especially when you’re talking about the west, it’s talking about, you know, we’re talking about a complete oil embargo on December 5 of Russian

oil and oil products.

TN: So this isn’t something that’s done by January. This has legs for quite a while.

TS: Yeah, absolutely. We’re already seeing prices rise. We’re at 518 a gallon for diesel here in the United States on a national average, which is higher than gasoline prices, by lots higher than the average. And the gasoline people that I talked to at Opus basically say, man, this is not even a safe level. This is going much, much higher.

CR: I have a question for you, Tracy. So it seems to me everyone seems to be focused on getting through the winter in Europe and the immediate impacts, as if there’s, like, some magic solution waiting on the other side as more of a layperson in this area. It seems to me that this massive under investments, this supplied depression that we’ve been having, there’s nothing coming online to help with that. So doesn’t that suggest that this is something that doesn’t get sorted out even though there may be some volatility, but, like years and years and years that we’re going to be dealing with?

TS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we’ve got a problem for the next eight to ten years. Really? And if you look at, you know I know if we look at the natural gas situation in Europe, everybody’s thinking, oh, we’re at 95% full before winter, we’re going to be fine. If we just make it through winter, that’ll be fine. That’s great and all, but if you are not replacing that, you’re going to need it in the summer. You need to keep refilling that. So it’s not like, you know, unless they decide to stop using natural gas in March, end of story, we still have a problem. Right. And the next winter is probably going to get even worse.

TN: Great. Just so you know. Awesome. Okay, so let’s move into kind of the week ahead section. Albert, you want to get us started. What are you looking at going into the week ahead? What’s on your mind?

AM: Continuation of the Feds 100 basis point rate hike. I mean, they’re not going to do 100, but they’ll tell the market that they might start thinking about it and the market might start pricing it in. So we’ll definitely have a lot of weakness in the market going ahead in the next week, but it’s midterms, so you never know,

 they could defend the quote unquote Trumpl ine of 35, 40 so they don’t look like complete idiots and give them Fodder for the midterms. Do you still think we’re going to hit maybe 3200 or something eventually? I can guarantee you that by the end of the year for sure. The economic indicators across multiple data sets is just atrocious right now.

TN: Okay, great. Carol, I know you’re not really kind of in Marcus, but what are you keeping your eye on for the week ahead?

CR: So I do actually commentate on markets from a sort of a macro perspective, and much like Albert, I’m sort of in the camp that until the Fed tells us what is their intention, is this really just about the midterms? Are they feeling the pressure that it’s risk off from my perspective until we know what’s happening with them. So that’s been sort of my perspective.

TN: Great. Okay. Thanks, Tracy.

TS: On China next week, party congress looking at China, I want to see what they’re going to do policy wise because that’s definitely going to affect the commodities market. We all know that they’re looking for a five 5% GDP by the end of the year, which they’re not going to get. They’ll say they got it, but we all know that they’re not going to get it. So I want to look, an economy is suffering right now and we’re starting to see stirrings of unrest in China. Right. 

There was just that article where they had the people on the bridge with the signs that got scrubbed from China Internet. But I think that she is going to have to do something to stimulate that economy. So I’m kind of looking to see what his focus is on that and if they have any plans going forward to simulate the time. Because again, that’s going to affect the commodity markets and to see if he has a plan for the housing market. Oh, he’s got a plan.

TN: Central planners always have plans, don’t they?  That’s right. So if you talk to any China economist

for the bank, they’ll tell you that China is going to hit five 5% or maybe they live on the edge and say five three. Right. So as you said, we know they’re going to make it issh somewhere in the ballpark, but we know in reality you can’t have a zero code environment and make a growth rate that high. So my worry, I was just talking about this with somebody earlier in the week, my worry is that China really has made that transition to a slower growth environment for starting with demographic reasons, but also some structural reasons that they put in place.

And I think what she’s going to talk through next week, although not directly, but someone indirectly, is much more control, which will lead people to the conclusion that it’s not a safe place for foreign investment anymore, which will lead them to a slower growth environment economically. Because he’s basically talking about leveling people out. Right. And everyone has the same maybe not opportunity, but the same outcome. And you can’t necessarily do that in China with some of the economic outperformers that you’ve had, like Jack Ma and other people. You have to bring people down instead of push people up. And that’s what I’m expecting. 

Again, he’s not going to say he’s going to bring people down, but that’s what I expect is the main message coming out of next week’s meeting.

AM: Yeah, he has already done that, Tony. And there is a little bit of a power struggle with Wang. Yang is actually slated to be power sharing with him. All they’re trying to get him to do that, but all my sources have said that they’re locking down for code with zero until at least March, so we’ll see what kind of fake numbers they come out with.

CR: I will add that this all ties into their social credit system, which is the most advanced one in the world right now. And they really started the social credit on the business front, which is notable for the reasons you were saying. You can’t have that capitalism that’s leaked in a little bit over the past several decades and have these outperformers. So it’s an easy way to sort of bring those folks down a peg and then let that bleed into sort of the individual social credit. And it’s something we should be paying very close attention to as the Fed keeps talking about things like Central Bank, Digital Currencies, and as we see these companies going after people for misinformation, what part of that could leak here as well.

TN: Yep, very worries. So okay, guys, thank you so much for your time. Carol, I’m so grateful that you can join us today. Please come back anytime. Really appreciate this, guys, and have a great week ahead.

Week Ahead

Systemic Risks: The Week Ahead – 10 Oct 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

In this episode, we’re joined by our special guest, Simon Mikailovich from the Bullion Reserve, along with regular guests Tracy Shuchart and Albert Marko.

First, we looked at systemic risk in the case for hard assets with Simon. When we look at recent events like the BOE intervention in the long-term gilt market, where does he think the next systemic risks could come from? Is it developed more market (European) debt?

Also, Simon discussed how we should be looking at the gold market now. Why is there a divergence between physical gold at the retail level and institutional demand for gold derivatives?

Next, we went into a little bit on OPEC cuts with Tracy. OPEC cut supply by 2m BPD. Everyone has talked about this. We’ve spoken in earlier episodes about a price spike in oil later in Q4, partly owing to SPR releases stopping or slowing. Is this even likelier now? Some US legislators are pushing a bill to break up OPEC. Is that even remotely possible?

And then finally, we took our first look at US midterms. Democrats now control both House and Senate. That’s a huge advantage for Joe Biden. For many reasons – inflation, crime, etc – Democrats are in trouble for November’s midterms, but will they lose control of both the House and the Senate? Albert discussed that in this episode. We’ll cover more of this in the coming weeks, but we want to have a starter conversation here.

Key themes:
1. Systemic risks and the case for hard assets (Gold)
2. OPEC cuts = Q4 Crude price whipsaw?
3. US Midterms
4. The Week Ahead

This is the 37th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Listen to this episode on Spotify:


Tony Nash: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week ahead. I’m Tony Nash. This week we’re joined by our special guest, Simon Mikailovich from the Bullion Reserve. Simon, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. We’re also joined by Tracy Shuchart and Albert Marko.

We’ve got a lot to dig into this week. The first we’re looking at is systemic risk. And the case for hard assets? We’ll dig into that quite a bit with Simon.

Next, we’ll go into a little bit on OPEC cuts with Tracy. You’ve all heard about it, there’s no secrets there, but what do we expect for crude prices in Q4?

And then finally we’ll take our first look at US midterms. I think we’ve got a lot to talk with Albert about over the next few weeks before US midterms, but we’ll just do a quick dive in this week.

So before we get started, please take a look at our product, CI Futures. It’s a forecast subscription product. It’s $99 a month. We cover a few thousand assets over a twelve month horizon, economics, currencies, commodities, equity indices. So please take a look at that. The URL is on the screen. Thanks a lot for that.

So, Simon, welcome and thanks for taking the time on a Friday. I know there’s a lot going on in markets, so it’s a huge compliment for you to be here. I want to ask about systemic risks, something you tweet about quite a lot. And we put a tweet, one of your tweets on screen.

You talk about the BoE commits to ensure unicorn in every pot. And this happened a couple of weeks ago, the Bank of England. And I’m really curious, when we look at events like the BoE intervention in the long term guild market, where do you think the next systemic risks could come from? And I guess, more specifically, do you expect those risks to come from developed, more developed markets or emerging markets or does it matter?

Simon Michailovich: First of all, it’s a very difficult subject because obviously you can spend hours and hours talking about it. It’s like the existential problems of our time. And I know we’re also going to talk about gold and systemic risk. What I think I’d like to do is I’d like to have a little parable that kind of explains, I think, or illuminates the situation that we’re in generally. And the dichotomy that may exist, I think exists between markets and life out there. 

And terrible comes from very appropriately named for the Times from Russia With Love, which is Ian Fleming’s story, one of the James Bond books. And just to set up this quote that I’m going to read to you, the situation is that James Bond is absconding with a Russian decryption machine on a train and it’s supposed to be met somewhere down the line by the British intelligence agents. And he’s accompanied by a much wiser and older head of station from Istanbul whose name is Kareem Bay.

And Kareem advises him to get off the train immediately because there’s existential danger. They’re being hunted and Bond wants to see this gamble through. And so Kareem tells him a little story which I’d like to read to you which I think kind of explains more or less or answers a question about systemic risk and generally what’s going on between the markets and events that we’re all observing through press but may not necessarily fully understand or yet appreciate their implications.

So what Kareem tells him, he says “you’re a gambler. To me, this is business, to you this is a game.” And then he puts a hand on his shoulder and he says, “this is a billiard table. An easy, flat, green billiard table and you hit your white ball and is traveling easily and quietly towards the end. The pocket is alongside. Fatally, inevitably you’re going to hit the red and the red is going to go into that pocket. It is the law of the billiard table, the law of the billiard room. But outside the orbit of these things a jet pilot has fainted and his plane is dining straight at that billiard room or a guest main is about to explode. 

It already has actually, in the real life with Nordstream or lightning is about to strike and the building collapses on top of you and on top of the billiard table. Then what has happened to that white ball that could not miss the red ball and to the red ball that could not miss the pocket. The white ball could not miss according to the laws of the billiard table.

But the laws of the billiard table are not the only laws. And the laws governing the progress of this train and of you to your destination are also not the only laws in this particular game.

And so the point is that for 40 years, the markets, the financial system and the economy has gone along with that, have lived by the laws of financialization, by the laws of the billiard room and of the billiard table and other laws that are outside the real economics more famine, pestilence, inflation have not entered into the equation. And so within the framework of the billiard table there is no, for example US Treasuries do not have credit risk. US dollar does not have counterparty risk. Banking deposits are safe, 100% safe. That’s by the laws of the billiard table. That’s by the laws of the markets.

So essentially this bubble, the everything bubble that the credit bubble that we have been in for x number of years. All the problems inside this bubble were nominal problems related to nominal values in financial markets. And those values can be fixed by creating additional money, by creating additional credit, by creating conditions, by providing liquidity. What cannot be fixed inside this bubble are real problems like energy shortage, like supply chain disruptions, like World War, like the fact that a significant number of other countries are suddenly developing their own ideas as to economic policies and monetary policies and other policies that they want to pursue.

Whereas our system has come to depend on the US dollar as a source of cheap financing without any limits and without any constraints on our ability to create credit, create money, pay the bills, however much, in any quantity at any time. So when you ask me about systemic risks, what I would say is that systemic risks are coming from outside this framework and are not yet fully understood inside the framework.

Which is why, for example, the dollar is on a tier relative to other currencies. And the phrase that’s used to describe it is it’s the least dirty shirt? What is not being said in that statement is how dirty is the least dirty shirt? Has it been already worn for ten days and all the other ones for 20 days, or is it just been worn for ten minutes? That’s my point. So how healthy is the healthiest course in the soap factory? That’s the question, right?

TN: And I guess the question about systemic risk, which is almost unanswerable. But when these things break, do they usually break gradually or do they usually break all at once? Is that an answerable question?

SM: Well, they break gradually and then all at once. Just like the famous also overused quote from Hemingway how do you go broke slowly and then all at once? Obviously you can think of this phenomenon as a confidence collapse. Now, confidence collapse is not a problem in itself. It’s a consequence of other problems where the preponderance of the evidence and preponderance of the mental recognition reaches a certain critical mass, where in the physics it’s called phase transition. 

Like for example, boiling water, which looks the same whether it’s half boiling or almost boiling. And then suddenly you see the bubbles, you see the churn, and it almost happens in moments, but it didn’t happen in the moment. It’s been heating up for a while. So that’s how I would describe it. And

TN: this is all great, I guess, if we have a doomsday clock, are we like really close to midnight or are we kind of approaching midnight? And it’s something that will come at some point I know that’s kind of an ambiguous question, but does it feel to you like we’re really close to midnight or can we put it off for a little bit?

SM: Well, I would answer it this way. I think the proverbial train has left the station. The crisis is now underway. Okay? The crisis, geopolitical crisis, military crisis, supply chain crisis, economic crisis, and financial crisis. All of the… And political crisis. You’re going to talk about elections. So all of these events, and by crisis I mean a moment of high danger, again develops similarly to boiling water. Crisis itself, once it starts, it means the heat is now in real time, is going up. The boiling point has not yet been reached. How long does it take to reach it? It depends on the intensity of the flame. Right. So that we cannot gauge. But what we can gauge is that the process has started and it can accelerate or decelerate as it goes, but I don’t think it can stop suddenly.

TN: Right. And a US president using the word Armageddon in a fundraising speech half a dozen times this week doesn’t really help lower the boiling point.

SM: It does not help lower the boiling point. It does not help. And frankly, I think that people are not paying much attention to what happened with this Nordstream explosion. But this is the first act of sabotage on an international against an international supply chain infrastructure, which I think is going to have dramatic consequences ultimately, because it changes the rules of the game. Sure something unthinkable becomes feasible.

Albert Marko: Just real quick. I agree with Simon on the systemic risks. And the fact is the Fed policies have completely ignored geopolitical issues, political issues, supply chain problems. I mean, they keep going on this tear about raising rates is going to bring down inflation, but then they put themselves in doom loop because the demand is going to come back faster than the supply damage that they’re creating. 

So, yeah, Simon is correct that the systemic risks are there and getting worse and that’ll see any chance that they can be alleviated in the next six months. I’m skeptical that ongoing rate rises or rapid rate rises is going to have an impact on inflation given… Wait till they end QT in the next couple of months and continue on with rate hikes thinking that’s going to fix things. It’s not. It’s not. It’s whistling past the graveyard. It’s way overused. But that’s what we’re doing.

TN: So before we move on to other things, I want to ask you about gold. Okay, Tracy, kindly put out some questions for you last night. And we got some responses from some Twitter users and this Twitter user @Spudlink1, asked, “if gold doesn’t rally in this environment, how could conditions possibly get more perfect than the last three years? Is gold dead?”

So, very poignant question, but what are your thoughts on that?

SM: So my thoughts on that are very simple. Gold itself. Gold is not a company. It doesn’t release results. It’s not like things are going better or worse. Gold is the same gold. So the price of gold and the prospects of gold are not determined by gold itself or anything that it does, but it is determined by supplying demand, which is human driven. So it’s human perception and human behavior. 

So why is gold not behaving like certain people like this gentleman expect it should? That’s because what this gentleman thinks and what few of us think is not accepted as received wisdom by the vast majority of investors. That’s not consensus. 

So the fact that these are perfect conditions for gold is absolutely not consensus because by the rules of the billiard table inside the billiard room, gold is not seen at the moment as a safe haven. The dollar is because the dollar is fiat gold. Now, fiat of gold is no gold. But inside this framework that we’ve been in for 40 years, it has been and so demand for gold, you don’t need to take my word for it. I mean, you can just look at the ETF flows like GLD publishes ETF laws and you can see that money is not flowing into gold. 

So demand from investors for gold is anemic in an environment where some of us think it should be robust. But that’s because we see certain things and we believe that there’s tremendous systemic risk and market large does not believe it. 

Again, you don’t need to take this as the only example. You can look at the Treasuries, they’re trading, I mean for something percent with the percent inflation. Well, why is that? Well, because the breakeven rate, which is market expectation of future inflation, the curve, the forward curve shows that rates are actually positive and getting more positive because inflation is supposed to drop to 2-3% imminently. Well, is it going to? Well, that’s conventional wisdom is that it will. So that’s one thing. 

The other thing I would say is when people say that gold is dead, I mean, it’s an American century theory because gold is essentially a reserve currency. It has outperformed all other currencies, reserve currencies but gold. So let’s say in dollar terms gold is down like 6% year to date, but in yen terms it’s up 18%. In pound terms it’s up 13%. In Europe, in Swiss Franc, all of the DXY components, currencies, DXY, Canadian dollar in all of those currencies, gold is up.

So gold is outperforming financial assets, stocks, equity is down 23%, Nasdaq is down whatever it is, 33% or 34% here today. Gold is down 6%. So it’s outperforming financial assets and an underperforming US dollar because US dollar is gold by the rules of the billiard table and the guest line has already blew up, but maybe the plane has not yet hit the room. 

And so as long as that’s continuing, everybody’s playing by those rules where there’s no credit risk in the dollar. So if there’s no credit risk in the dollar or in Treasuries, in US sovereign obligations, then by the dent of that reasoning, getting any kind of coupon beast getting no coupon, if you factor out credit risk and market is not factoring in credit risk, I think the credit risk is tremendous. And obviously people who are asking and wondering how come gold is not surging, they think there’s credit risk. But that’s a minority opinion. That’s a simple answer to that question. 

TN: And that is fantastic. Thank you so much for that. This is an amazing perspective because I think there is a lot of cynicism around gold in the markets today around kind of popular chatter. And it’s so great to get this perspective. 

AM: Tony, I mean, I’ve been a big critic of gold for a long time. However, in this scenario, I even have to admit that if you want to arbitrage for dollars, especially in other currencies and FX’s, gold is the only real way to do it. And the longer that the Fed makes errors in policy, there’s no question that people are going to start resorting to gold just as a hedge.

SM: My only warning to people is gold is a commodity that’s sort of it’s an industrial commodity in physical form. So, of course, all the paper gold exposure has counterparty risk. Physical gold does not have counterparty risk, but physical gold is a manufactured product. And manufactured product borrows coins. 

By the way, the premiums on coins are surging, and it’s doubled this summer since the beginning of the summer. So manufactured products, they’re supply chains, they’re manufacturing facilities that produce them. They can work 24 hours a day, but three ships, but they can’t work faster than that. 

So just like with toilet paper, it all works until suddenly there’s a surge in demand. Then there’s no toilet paper in your supermarket. It’s the same thing with gold. It’s available until everybody wants it, at which time, by definition, it’s not available because the inventory and supply chain is geared towards test demand, not towards surging demand. So as soon as demand surges, it disappears. 

So you buy insurance when you can, not when you think you really need it, because you’re not the smartest guy or person you know, other people achieve the same reach the same conclusion at the same time. And so everybody wants insurance at the same time.

TN: You’re the only guy I’ve ever heard who compared gold to toilet paper in a positive way. Yeah. Okay, let’s move on to crude from one physical quantity to another. Tracy, we talked about OPEC in recent weeks. We talked about crude prices in recent weeks. 

And with the OPEC announcement, the supply cut announcement this week, I want to revisit our discussion from a couple of weeks ago about crude prices in Q4. We talked about the possibility of a whipsaw effect for crude prices in Q4. What’s your thoughts on that? Do we see that happening?

Tracy Shuchart: Well, I think what we’re… First, I kind of wanted to touch on this 2 million barrels because it’s not actually a 2 million barrel cut, right? Because the group hasn’t been producing a quota all year, basically. So we’re running at a 3.58 million barrel shortfall, really, which happened in September. And so if we take a look at the cut distribution, yes, the five countries that are producing at or near quote, which are Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Russia, yes, they are shouldering most of that burden. But when you net everything out, it’s really closer to like 1.25 million barrels. So I just kind of wanted to clear that up because it’s really not 2 million.

Going into Q 4, what we have to pay attention to is, one, the ending of the SPR, which if they keep releasing it, eventually it will drain. But so far it should end in November, which is going to immediately take four to 7 million barrels off the market because that’s kind of what they’ve been releasing per week on average. Then we also have to look at China and their COVID lockdowns trying to come to an end because they’re looking for 5.5% GDP by end of year, which is not going to happen.

TN: Well, it’ll happen. 

TS: Well, on paper it’ll happen. Statistically it’ll happen. But we are starting to see a little bit of firmness in mobility data in traffic and airlines. What I’m also looking at is they are talking about lifting export quotas. If they do that, that means they are going to have to purchase more crude barrels because it would be a significant increase. Those are kind of the things that I’m.. Going into Q4, in other words, I think the pressure is definitely to the upside rather than the downside, just looking at what is coming online potentially that could propel this market higher as far as… I mean, we’re already in a structural supply deficit, so it’s not going to take a lot for this kind of freak out. 

TN: Post US midterms, post CCP meeting, post SPR, post other stuff. Right.

TS: And then December 5, we have to see if EU actually follow through with their oil and product embargo for Russia. So also another thing that would take more barrels off the market.

TN: Right. So I’ve also heard, I think you may have said it where this OPEC meeting, and what we’ve seen over the past few months is really OPEC changing their orientation to Asia and really forgetting about the west. Is that real? Are you seeing that, in fact, or is that just kind of a myth?

TS: Well, no, I mean, if you look throughout the last few years, I mean, China and Russia basically compete, sorry, Russia and Saudi Arabia basically compete for China’s fitness. So off and on, one of those countries has been their biggest suppliers. So this is not new where the focus is towards Asia, especially because over the last few years, the west is pursuing green policies and trying to stay away from that. And so where they can sell barrels like you see Saudi Arabia or you see OPEC in general raising their OSP to Asia consistently, right. Because they can capture above markets for their barrels. That’s not really a new phenomenon.

TN: Well, China’s perpetuating green policies, too, right. Kind of wink wink, supposedly as they build out coal plants and other things. But I think what I find interesting is Europe and the US are kind of begging for more energy and OPEC is saying, no, we’re going to cut back. I think the headline is more important than the fact the 2 million is more important than the 1.25, because that’s what really moved markets in the immediate term. But China had really bought all their crude already by, say, April or something, right? And so they had fixed all that stuff, the prices for the year in kind of second quarter. So this doesn’t at least for now, it doesn’t really affect them. It won’t affect them until early next year or something like that. Is that fair to say?

TS: Well, unless in Q4 they raise these export quotas, then it’s going to matter because that’s still on the table for discussion next year. This is kind of a last-minute thing. And so that’s definitely something that I’m watching if they actually follow through with that. Right?

TN: And also with purchases in a dollar equivalent, whether it’s not US dollar, whether or not it’s US dollar, these are extraordinarily expensive barrels compared to what they could have gotten in Q2. So something has to change for them to want to buy the volumes that they bought. And then if they’re buying at the same time the US is trying to refill the SPR, that creates even more pressure on the market. Is that fair to say?

TS: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, our SPR barrels are going to China, right? Right.

TN: So, Tracy, what are we missing? I mean, we’ve heard all this chat about OPEC over the last couple of days. What’s the nugget that you feel like people are missing?

TS: I think as prices have come down, I think everybody has been forgetting we are still in a structural supply deficit. Even though prices were coming down, they were down to extraneous reasons like recession fears and not as many Russian barrels off the market as initially anticipated. But really, the market structure hasn’t changed, nor has the supply problem. Right. Let me add another question there. I want to ask about refining capacity. What are we at now with refining capacity? We need more refining capacity. 90 something. We’re currently we’ve been between 90 and 95% of our refining capacity, which is crazy because I’m actually surprised that we haven’t seen more heart breakdowns. They’re not built to Google at 95%.

TN: So we have a hurricane goes through Louisiana, cuts out some refineries for a week. What does that do?

TS: Well, that would be a little bit of a relief for crude prices, right? Because you shake it with the barrels. But that’s going to take your product prices through the roof, and your current tax rates are going to go through the roof.

TN: And what’s the lag on that? What’s the tail on that?

TS: That really depends on how long the refinery is offline for. Right. Whether it’s a week or two, that’s fine. But if we start going into, like Katrina, where you’re going in months, then that’s going to be longer. Problem.

TN: Okay, very good. Thank you for that. And as we talk about gasoline, it becomes very political at some point. And Albert, as we go into we’re deep into the midterm season right now, and I’ve got a couple of graphics from Real Clear Politics looking at the House and the Senate races in the US.

And it looks like it’s very competitive in the Senate. The House, it seems like Republicans are doing very well to reclaim the House, but it seems like the Senate is really competitive at the moment. Can you walk us through that?

AM: Yeah, well, simply, the Republicans will easily take the majority. Redistricting alone will give them 20 seats, which is the majority, and then you start looking at any Democrat that one with 2% or less across the country is probably going to lose. So I think that will probably end up getting 250 seats in the House of the GOP. So I think that would end up being like 185 for the Democrats, which is important because you need a buffer to avoid any messy infighting the Senate becomes difficult because the Republicans have kind of weak candidates in Oz, in Pennsylvania, and Walker in Georgia.

If those two candidates were stronger, it would have been a slam dunk, but it’s not at the moment. Nevada looks like it’s trending towards the GOP, which is a big, big problem for the Democrats at the moment. If they lose Nevada, they’ll probably end up losing Arizona. And if they lose Arizona, it’s going to be a one or two seat GOP majority.

TN: Okay, and so what does that do? Okay. We covered Pennsylvania, right? You said it’s potential

Republican but not strong. Georgia potential, but not strong. Arizona is leaning that way. Nevada is leaning that way. Wisconsin is Wisconsin.

AM: Wisconsin and North Carolina are solid Republican.

TN: Okay, so then what does that mean for the second half of the Biden administration?

AM: Not good things. Hearings all over the place, from Hunter Biden’s antics to Biden’s pipeline policies, environmental policies that’s affecting the economy at the moment. Border crime, elections, election integrity, I mean, you name it, it’s going to be all over the news. So it’s just not good for the Biden administration. I expect them to keep on going with executive orders because there won’t be anything that he can pass.

TN: Okay, very interesting. Now for the people not in the US. Most Americans view legislative gridlock as a good thing, right? I mean, it’s a good thing for business when we have legislative gridlock. So this is not necessarily a bad thing for US government. There will be a lot of talk about can’t pass a budget, can’t get extensions on certain things, and that’s just drama that comes every year. But legislative gridlock is not necessarily a bad thing for American business. Is that fair to say?

AM: It’s not. You’re absolutely correct about that. However, actually, with Biden insisting on producing executive orders for his own policies and the treasury, with the Allen just acting insane, in my opinion, god knows what they’re going to sit there and pass. If you can’t pass something legislatively, they’ll do it via budgets. That’s fine. But it sets a terrible pressing going. Forward because we’re well past that, Tony. We’re well past that president. We’re well past that.

TN: Okay, great. I want to cover this over the next couple of weeks as we lead up to the election. So I just want to give people a taste of what we can talk about. So if we don’t mind if you guys don’t mind, let’s just go around and I’d love to know what you guys are looking for in the week ahead. Tracy, do you want to get us started? Then Simon will go to you. And now what are you guys looking for for the week ahead?

TS: Obviously, I’m watching the energy markets right as we get closer and to see what sort of policies the US is going to or the current administration is going to try to pull out of a hat to derail oil prices in front of Midterms. They’ve been talking about fuel bans, fuel export bans. They’re talking about actually trying to pass the no peck bill again. They’re also talking about actually seizing assets of Saudi Arabia, which they do own, motivo, which is the largest refinery in the US. Which is paramount to all out oil war. So closely watching the administration and how they’re going to move forward with energy policy.

TN: is this Venezuela thing real? Will they dial back the restrictions on Venezuela to get Venezuelan crude?

TS: Venezuela produces 7000 barrels per day and literally most of that goes to China to pay debts. There’s nothing more you can squeeze out of Venezuela.

TN: Okay, that’s good to know. So that’s fake news. All right. Okay. Simon, what do you see

going into the week?

SM: Well, a week is not my reference, in my opinion, but I think that the most important thing people should be watching are international geopolitical developments because I believe we are in a world war. It sounds very dramatic. War usually is assumed to be bomb flying, but there are other forms of enforcing essentially will on other people and economic, financial, political, ideological, cyberspace,

space, outer space these days. 

So I think the most critical thing to watch are developments like with Tracy’s talking about confiscation of Saudi refinery. I mean, that’s an act of war. That’s an act of economic war. So this is where I think a lot is going to come from. And the other thing I would watch very carefully for the types of developments like what we saw with Gilts in UK just overnight, things happen. Like for example, the repo lines right now are in excess of 2 trillion. I mean, in 2019, the first blow up, they went in with 30 billion. So this is a crisis that’s continuing and it’s being bailed out by the Fed.

So I would watch all these excess, telltales of all these excesses and watch for ripples on the surface to make sure to identify if something is really breaking. Like you said, when is it going to come? Well, is the water starting to boil? That’s what I want…

TN: Real quickly, do you get the sense that at least in the US, they’re trying to hold this back until midterms and then we’ll start to see a bunch of bad news come?

SM: Well, for example, they’re releasing strategic petroleum reserve, which is clearly controlling an attempt to control energy prices at the pump, gas prices at the pump. So, yes, I think after the elections we’re going to see some damage break.

TN: Yeah, interesting. Albert, week ahead, what do you got. Your eyes on? 

AM: CPI. And I think it’s going to end up coming in hot and all of a sudden you’ll see the dollar surge once again, maybe threatening 120. Then you talk about what Simon is saying about things breaking and building up of a narrative of ending QT, although we haven’t really started it, but it is what it is.

TN: Well, exciting times guys. Thank you so much. Thanks for your time. Thank you very much for all your insights. And have a great weekend. Thank you very much.

Week Ahead

European Natgas: The Week Ahead – 5 Sep 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

This week we’ve seen a lot around dollar hitting almost 110. We’ve seen a lot in the US market downturn. There’s a lot of speculation around the Fed. But we’re really focusing on Europe this week.

Key themes:

1. European Natgas Stock vs Flow

2. Russian Oil Price Cap Fallout

3. Europe’s Food and Fertilizer Fallout

4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 32nd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:





Listen on Spotify

Time Stamps

0:00 Start

1:51 European natgas: stocks VS flows

8:26 What to expect in manufacturing in Europe

9:26 Difficult environment for the German Finance Ministry?

10:27 Fertilizer fallout and impacts on Europe’s food supply

14:19 Is Europe getting relief soon, or will this crisis continue to 2024?

15:33 Russian oil price cap: is it going to come about?

19:12 What’s to stop countries from indirectly buying Russian crude?

22:00 What’s for the week ahead?


Tony Nash: Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Sam Rines, Tracy Shuchart and Albert Marko. We’re going through the events this week and looking toward next week.

Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe. Please add your comments. We’re on top of the comments. We come back pretty quickly. We really want your engagement, so add those comments in.

Also we have a promo right now on our subscription product, CI Futures. That promo ends in two weeks. So you get forecast for about 3000 items. About 900 of those are renewed every week. We show you the forecast, the error rates, all sorts of stuff about all of these different assets, global assets. So please check it out. That runs out in mid September.

So this week we’ve seen a lot around dollar hitting almost 110. We’ve seen a lot in US market downturn. There’s, a lot of speculation around the Fed. But we’re really focusing on Europe this week.

The key themes this week are really around European natgas stock versus flows. Russian oil price caps and the fallout that has come with that. Food and fertilizer in Europe. And then we’ll look to the week ahead. So I think we’ll look at some non Europe activities for the week ahead.

First for European natgas, Sam Rines in his newsletter came out with some really interesting points around natural gas stocks and flows. You can see the chart on the screen. Sam, can you talk us through kind of what’s happening in storage for natural in Europe and what we should be looking for as winter approaches?

Sam Rines: Yeah, sure. So you get this really interesting dynamic where everybody talks about the stock but very few people talk about the flow. So talking about the stocks of that gas in Europe is a really interesting one. Yeah, you’ve got stocks building up pretty quickly, particularly in Germany, sitting north of 82% overall for European stocks in general, north of 80%.

So it’s good, right? Stocks seem to be well ahead of where you would anticipate. Germany has a 95 target for November. They might actually reach it even with the shutdown of Ms one, Nordstream One. It’s actually not that big of a deal incrementally to Germany in particular. You go from about call it a 3.2 kilowatt hour type pump into Germany to about a three.

You didn’t really lose that much. I mean, it was pretty much anticipated anyway. So if they keep it off

for longer, whatever. You don’t have significant usage coming through at the moment for natural gas.

It’s a time where you can actually afford to not have those significant closing. They’ll probably still have some stock bill that will just be slower.

So overall, I think it’s a lot of headlines that a lot of it’s already priced in. If you were looking at the expectations of complete and utter frozen winter, you’re pretty much not looking at that assuming that Norway and Belgium continue to put their flows through to Germany at the current rate.

So overall, you’re actually sitting on a decent call it stock level. Right? That’s fine. And as long as you continue to have the flows from call it Northern Europe, you should be okay for the winter. You’re not going to be great. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to suck. But relative to the expectation of Europe’s going to freeze this winter,

I think that might actually be a little bit of an overblown one, and you might begin to have a significant blowback on that. And you’ve seen significant declines in things like electricity pricing ahead, which is a ridiculous contract anyway. And Dutch TTF, the net gas contract you’ve seen collapse this week, even with the shutdown of Nordstream.

So I think a little bit of the froth, a little bit of that angst is beginning to come out of the market, and you might actually have a positive surprise relative to expectations in Europe.

TN: So Dutch TTF peaked on Tuesday or something, right? It was early in the week, right?

SR: Correct.

TN: And Tracy, what are you seeing with that? Do you expect us to hit back up to those peaks, and do you think that was kind of a one time hit? And what Sam saying about storage is really kind of starting to take hold.

Tracy Shuchart: I think it really depends over the long run and how slow go. I totally agree with Sam here. Right now, for winter, Europe is pretty much okay, not great, as he said, but I think given if we don’t see increased flows, that storage would drain significantly by February. So we really have to keep an eye on flows from other countries, particularly in the United States, in the Middle East, and to see how those flows go. So I think it’s too early to be completely doom and gloom, but that is something we need to be cognizant of, because that storage can only last until February.

TN: Right. And for those people who aren’t in Northern Europe, northern European winter really stays cold, really until like, April, right. It’s not something that February comes and goes and it’s spring and everything’s great. You still have cold temperatures in Northern Europe until probably April or so. Is that about right?

TS: Yeah, absolutely. Anecdotally, if you’re been on Twitter, you see a lot of people starting to buy wood. The big thing on the European sites is to post how much wood you collected before this winter. So people are sourcing. People are expecting energy prices to be high and doing whatever they can personally, to kind of lower the prices. Because you have to understand, when you’re talking about European power prices, it’s not just your solid power price. They have that almost all of their taxes on top is on top of what they actually would be paying, which is outrageous carbon, et cetera.

TN: And so I just want to go back to one point in Sam’s chart as well. I think sam, you said the storage is about 82% full or something and they’re targeting 95%, but we’re ahead in 2022 from where we were in 2021, is that right?

SR: Yeah, that is correct.

TN: Okay, so the doom and gloom that we’re hearing again, we have inflation, we definitely have shortages, but in terms of storage, we’re ahead of where we were. And we don’t expect like a mass extinction event in northern Europe because of heating or whatever, right?

SR: Correct. I think that is a good base case. That’s good for everything. No mass extinction is low bar, but yes, that’s right. 

TN: Exactly. Okay, very good. Do you have anything to add on this?

Albert Marko: I’m on middle of the road here. I do agree with Sam that they’ll be okay so long as they’re okay with no manufacturing, no growth in their economy, and so on and so forth. I mean, if they tried to kick things up and the demand starts to rise, I don’t think it will be okay. I don’t think that the Russians are going to play ball, especially when they start talking about these price caps on Russian oil and gas. It’s one of those things where economically, I can understand where Sam is coming from.

Politically, I’m inclined to say that Europeans are going to screw up and just agitate the Russians. And then you start getting into this back and forth. That economic trade and price.

TN: Let’s set the price cap aside for a minute. But when you say no manufacturing, so we’ve seen some manufacturing dial back and some facilities slow down and shutter. Is that expected to continue or do we expect that to ramp back up?

AM: I expect it to completely be just stalled for the entire winter. I just think the energy prices are so astronomically high that it’s just not economical for companies to manufacture anything.

TN: Okay, so if you’re sourcing things in Germany, then you should expect supply chain issues for the next five or so months. Is that fair to say?

AM: At least six months. And this is why I keep saying that this inflation doom loop keeps recurring because as the demand rises, there’s not enough supply and then you get back into an inflationary event. What’s the inflation rate in the UK right now? Like 20% reported. 20%? And in Germany, I think it’s like 19% and rising. It doesn’t stop.

TN: And PPI is in the 30s or something. Just to play this out, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to cover this, but if private sector is shutting down, even parts of it, then government spending has to kick up. And if government spending is kicking up and we have an ECB that’s tightening, that’s a difficult environment for the German Finance Ministry, right? Or is it no big deal then?

SR: No, I would completely disagree. I mean, Germany is one of the few countries in the world that has they could basically print their GDP and they’d still be perfectly fine on an ability to pay basis. They spent, like, three years getting paid to have debt.

TN: So very good, because, look, nobody wants Germany to suffer, right? And if government spending

has to kick up, then great. If they’re not going to suffer as a government to be able to do that, then that’s even more fantastic, because with ECB tightening, it could create some difficult trade offs for some countries in the region, of course.

So let’s take this and park it and let’s move on to fertilizer, because, of course, that’s related to natural gas.

And we have some there’s a recent Bloomberg story about Europe’s deepening fertilizer crunch. 70% of fertilizer production is halted. And then we have a chart showing the price of nitrogen fertilizer in Germany. Obviously, it looks pretty extreme. Can we cover that, Albert, and look at the impacts of fertilizer and how that’s going to hit food going into spring or summer of next year?

AM: Oh, yeah, the fertilizer, specifically what you’re talking about, nitrogen based ones, are relying on natural gas. Natural gas prices just keep on spiking over there. And again, we can continue this whole discussion about inflationary, commodity prices, but food is a big problem. They shut down their potash.

On top of that, the farmers, they’re notorious penny pinchers, whether it’s the United States, whether it’s Europe, so on and so forth. But they’re going to have to make up the nutrients for the soil in the spring of 2023 and most likely into 2024, they can’t deprive the land of nutrients.

So, of course, they’re going to have to have another round of demand for fertilizer. I don’t know about the night gas based ones, but potash certainly will have a surge.

That’s why I’ve always on Twitter have been big on Mosaic being the 800 pound gorilla outside of Morocco’s. OCP, but OPC, I think it is. But that’s not a tradable stock mosaic fertilizer. I’m very bullish on that. That’s going to relate to bigger increases in food prices, specifically in the UK.

TN: What crops in Europe would be most impacted by this?

AM: Wheat. Most likely wheat.

TN: Yeah. Okay. And where does Germany traditionally, where does it source most of its fertilizer? Is it from Russia?

AM: I believe they get most of their stuff from Belarus originally. And I know that they have potash fertilizer plants inside of Germany itself, but I’m not sure how. I don’t know the exact numbers on the importance of what they do for a fertilizer, but it’s certainly a problem specifically for Germany. Of course it’s a problem for France. It’s even bigger problem because they’re a big food producer.

TN: Okay, Tracy, you’ve said a lot about fertilizer in the past. What are your thoughts on this? Does it just get even more intense or do we see some relief on the horizon?

TS: Well, I think it does get a little bit more intensive when we just saw And, Norway’s largest fertilizer company, all kind of curve back production in various countries wherever their plants are concerned. So it’s definitely a concern. 100% agree with Albert. Going into next year is going to be a very big problem. I mean, everybody’s harvesting right now. Everything’s fine. We’ve seen big pullback in those prices. But going forward, in particular next year, we’re going to have a problem.

AM: And a lot of that, Tracy, has to do with the national governments are going to look out for their national interests, their own farmers, so that although the imports will drop, so the exports will drop and they’ll just keep it closed within their own nation, so they can feed their own people.

TN: Fertilizer nationalism.

AM: Well, it’s just the same thing with oil. I mean, the countries are not export more than they can handle.


TN: Okay, so sounds pretty dire, but do we see any relief next year? Or, like you said, is it going to go into 24, or does it all depend on Russia?

AM: I think it depends on Russia whether the Europeans and the United States come to their senses and stop trying to put their foot on the throat of the Russians. You’re hampering your own economic growth, and they’re sitting there talking about, oh, we’re going to get away from fossil fuels and do this whole new climate thing. That’s just not realistic. And I don’t think they just haven’t come to grips with that yet.

TN: I think it’s a time frame thing. Right? I mean, it’s going to take some time, and I think there’s a hybrid mix in the interim that I think we’re trying to rush.

AM: Well, that’s the point. They’re trying to rush things. When you rush things, your own people are going to suffer economically and so on and so forth. It’s just not politically. They just can’t swallow it. Some of the voters don’t swallow that. Sort of stuff. 

TN: And things break. Like Californians can’t charge their electric cars. Right. These are weird times.

Okay, great. Thanks, guys.

And then on the oil price cap, we had about this week, former Russian President Good about this week, saying that Russia just won’t deal with people who subscribe to the price cap.

And then we had Xavier Blossom, Bloomberg tweet about it, saying that he and his friends are going to agree to a price cap on beer at their local pub and that the guys at the pub don’t agree with it, which is a nice analogy, I guess.

Tracy, what are you seeing on the price cap? Is it actually going to come about?

TS: First, they just announced that they’ve been talking about this for months. Let me give a little bit of background. And they just now say there’s going to be three different kind of price caps, one for crude and two for refined products.

However, if you look at the actual G7 statement that was out today, they were pretty vague on it. Basically, they said, we invite all countries to provide input on the price cap design and to implement this important measure. So in other words, they’ve decided they’re going to do this, but not exactly holiday.

TN: It’s going to be 2030 before they come to an agreement on.

TS: it’s because. They’Re asking all their stakeholders to join in this. And so what I see as the problems with this right now is that there are four specific problems. One, it’s not really enforceable outside of G Seven countries if people don’t sign up for this. Two, Russia already said, again repeating you, that they won’t sell to countries that enact price caps. Three, part of this is the maritime insurance on vessels carrying Russian oil India is already providing safety and notification through IRGC class.

So by Dubai, subsidiary of the Russian shipping group. So I hope I pronounced that right. But anyway, they’ve already kind of gotten their way around this. And four, they’re also thinking about creating their own benchmark.

So right now, Russian crude oil is expressed as a discount to Brent because rent is the benchmark price. They already have an oil trading platform in place via RTS and MYsix. So they could build out this platform, which they’ve been talking about, and go through near Mir, which is basically their version of Swift, and completely by past that and just let market forces work.

I think this price cap is still way off from seeing the light of day. But this actually could turn out much more bullish because this price cap overlooks how Russia could influence global markets.

If they wanted to, they could opt to cut off the EU and NATO, not just G7. G Seven members shut production and raise global crude oil prices through the roof because they would take barrels off the market there by hurting the G7 nation.

I’m not saying that would happen. I’m just saying that’s within the realm of two box. And it’s not surprising after we just saw today, as soon as an oil price cap was announced as a plan, suddenly we just saw gas problem with Nordstream one, therefore I’m off of national gas.

TN: So what’s to stop, let’s say, a European country that signs onto a price cap from buying, let’s say, Russian crude that is sent to Chinese, say ownership and then resold to say, I don’t know, Germany. I mean, that type of circumvention is already happening, right?

TS: No, you can definitely do that. What we’re really seeing now is that kind of circumvention is happening in the product market. So it’s very easy for, say, India to buy Russian crude oil, refine it until it’s anywhere else because it’s very hard to track where those barrels really came from. It’s easier to track a resale. Right, if that makes sense.

TN: Sure it does. But they put in a barrel of, say, Emirati crude with a million barrels of Russian crude and then they label it Emirati crude. Right? Something like that.

TS: Yeah. If they both have the same API level, depends. You could mix them. If they both were the same exact API level, then you could mix them. It’s kind of different than, say, the natural gas market. Yeah.

AM: The Iranians do this with the Iraqi oil and bozzar. Often they mix it and label it As Iraqi 

TS: because they share oil fields. I mean, Albert and I have been talking about this for years now.

AM: Years.

TN: Let’s be honest, the rules apply to the people who abide by the rules. Right. And so even if these price caps are put in place, there will be circumvention in a big way, of course, at least a refined product, if not crude product. And so a lot of it’s for sure. Is that fair to say?

AM: Of course, yeah. A lot of it is for show. This is a political thing right now for scapegoating Russia

for inflation problems. Now they’re just snowballing things and saying Russia’s gas is the problem

 for inflation, Russia’s oil is the inflation problem, and other caps. But like I said earlier, and even just Tracy reaffirmed it’s like the moment you mentioned price caps against Russia, Moscow finds an issue, whether it’s gas, prom leak or Belarus problems, or Algeria has problems with Wagner. They create these issues all the time.

TN: Of course, anytime there are sanctions on a country, right. These things happen. Okay, very good. Thank you, guys. We spent a lot of time talking about Europe. So let’s move on to the week ahead and

what we expect to happen the week ahead.

We saw some really interesting action in markets, and last week we talked about how Palo speech, we really should have been a surprise to no one, but markets seem to kind of take it on the chin this week, acting shocked that he repeated himself again. So what do we expect going into next week? Do we expect things to kind of moderate a little bit or do we at least in equity markets, do we still expect some downward movement and also, say energy markets? We saw crude down, I think at 86 or something.

Tracy, do you expect, say, energy markets to continue to fall next week?

TS: What I would really look at, and what I’m looking at more, instead of looking at just reprice, which seems highly manipulated right now, especially going into midterms, not suggesting anything, but I think what I would start looking at is in like second and third month spreads or fourth month spreads. Right. So you really want to be looking, I think, just a couple of months down that curve a little bit. And if you start seeing because those curves are still kind of telling us that the market is very tight and curves, you can’t really manipulate as much as you can somewhat of the front line. So I think that’s where you should be looking at.  I think we’ll really get a better grasp on these markets and to see what front market is next week is OPEC meeting, right. So they were talking about cuts, right, over the last couple of weeks. That’s right. That’s all. I will be on that. That’s on the fifth.

TN: And SPR keeps going until October. So we’re only looking at November,December before we’ll see some upward pressure on prices. At least a stand up pressure.

TS: Yeah, exactly. And depending on what OPEC says, we could see an initial pull back. The general consensus is they’re not going to do anything in September. However, OPEC has been known

to give us some surprises. So just keep that in mind.

TN: That’s good all right. Very good. Sam, what are you looking for for next week?

SR: Next week I’m looking at the ECB. I want to hear how hawkish they are and how quick they’re going to go and what type of language they’re using. They’re still in the QE boat, right? They’re still buying Italy, they’re still buying Spain, they’re still buying a bunch of the southern debt periphery type debt.

So I want to hear what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and just how call it, quote, unquote, inflation-oriented. They are. They probably should be particularly versus the bank of England, who is very hawkish and likely to continue to, one, explore actually outright sales from their asset purchases to shrink their balance sheet and how quickly the relative moves are there.

I think that can create some fireworks, particularly called the Euro pound type crossed I think that could be really interesting and cross asset class could be.

TN: Do you think you should be able to surprise hawkish?

SR: Yes.

TN: You do? Okay, interesting. That would be very interesting to see. Wow. Okay. And so you think the Euro recovers a little bit on that?

SR: I think it knee jerks, yes. But the question is how long does that last? Right. That, I think, is a much more important question than the initial knee jerk. And I think over time, it would be a fade the news move.

TN: Okay, very interesting. Okay, very good. Thanks for that, Albert, close this out. What do you see for next week?

AM: The big boys come back to play from vacation. That’s right, they do. I think they’re going to start holding the market a little bit more accountable for all this bad data. And I think earnings were just atrocious when you look at what inflation was. I’m actually going to be watching though

China as we get closer to the CCP, the Party meeting, I think it’s October 16, I think XI might start announcing many stimulus packages in certain sectors. So I want to see if those materialize and what that does with commodities that are attached to them.

TN: Okay. I just want to say, with regard to the Party meeting in November, if anybody talks about reading tea leaves or any of that garbage, you’re banned immediately. Okay.

So we’re not going to imply, like, cultural mysteriousness on Chinese political processes. It’s just they’re a bureaucracy like everyone else. They make decisions like everyone else. They’re no more or less mysterious than anyone else. So I would say that for the people watching, because the people watching are going to see a lot of kind of China experts or whatever China watchers talked about how mysterious the CCP is and a lot of question marks. A lot of them are Fed talking points from the CCP spin machine. So they’re not mysterious, they’re a bureaucracy. They’re boring, just like every other country.

AM: Yeah. And the Party is I believe that Congress is October 16, not November. Yeah. So it’s closer than people realize. It’s only 30 days away, but China is going to have to probably stimulate some sectors associated with whoever is in line with the party leadership to keep them happy. So that’s what I’ll be watching next week.

TN: Yes. Very good, guys. Thank you so much. Looking forward to have a great holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you very much.

Week Ahead

Crude Oil Supply: The Week Ahead – 29 Aug 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

Crude and energy are on everybody’s minds, and we spent a lot of the Week Ahead parsing the details. Saudi Arabia came out with some comments about restricting their crude supplies to global markets, and we also have a detailed discussion on the SPR release in the US – when will it end, how will that impact crude prices, etc. 

We also discussed Jackson Hole drama and the conclusions of Powell’s latest speech. Powell really didn’t say anything new, so why are equity markets reacting so dramatically?

And will we finally get some stimulus from China’s government? We’ve seen movement in tech stocks and some talks of the stimulus release, but we expect more after the US election. 

Key themes

1. Crude oil supply: Saudi/UAE cuts vs SPR

2. Jackson Hole Drama

3. China Stimulus (Finally?)

4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 31st episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:





Listen on Spotify:


Tony Nash: Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. This week, we’re joined by Josh Young for the first time. So I want to thank Josh a lot for taking the time to join us. We’ve got Albert Marko and Samuel Rines. We’re lucky to have these three really valuable guests.

Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe to this YouTube channel. You’ll get reminded every week. Give us comments on the show. We always look at the comments. We always respond to the comments. So thanks for taking the time to do that.

We also have a promo for our product, CI Futures. That product is $50 a month right now. You can go month to month with it, try it out. We cover about 900 assets with weekly forecasts, and we do about 2000 economic variables with monthly forecasts. So check it out. We’re transparent. We disclose our error rates for every month. So it’s good information.

We have a couple of key items this week. First is the crude oil supply. We had Saudi Arabia come out with some comments about restricting their supply. We also have some information on the SPR release in the US. So we’re going to ask Josh to leave the discussion on that. 

Obviously, Jackson Hole drama. We’re probably the only people not leading the Jackson Hole today. But there are some meaningful things happening. There are some things happening that are not meaningful, and Sam will talk us through that. 

And then when we finally get some China stimulus, I think that’s a real question and Albert will lead us on that.

So Josh, thanks again for joining us. You put out a tweet earlier today about the UAE supporting the Saudi comments on supply restrictions.

Can you talk us through that and help us understand why did that happen and why is that important?

Josh Young: So the UAE is supporting what the Saudis and other OPEC members are doing in terms

of threatening to cut production based on the combination of lower price, as well as their observation that there may be some paper market price manipulation and disconnect from what they’re seeing as the largest sort of combined suppliers in the oil market. And it’s particularly important that the UAE did this because what we saw at Bison was that most of the OPEC members were actually producing their maximum production capacity. And when you produce that maximum, the fields aren’t designed for that. It’s sort of like driving with your foot all the way down on the gas 100% of the time. You’ll break your car and you’ll crash.

And so a lot of these fields and their processing facilities, they’re just not designed to run at this. It’s a theoretical capacity that’s supposed to run for a week, a month, three months, not how they’ve been running it. And so there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of fields in many of the OPEC countries to actually reduce production slightly, so it’s not a surprise.

And we forecast that there would be some discussion of this given the high run rate versus their spare capacity. UAE in particular does have some remaining spare capacity, so what we’re seeing is cohesion within OPEC along with supply exhaustion of the other OPEC members. So it’s actually a pretty big thing, and I don’t think people are really picking up on it too much. Although maybe it’s why oils flat up a little.

TN: With the market down a lot today. Is this something that will start small incrementally and then it will accelerate? Meaning will they cut off a little bit of supply and then over time, maybe they take some fields down for maintenance or something like that, and then you start to see bigger chunks? Is that a possible scenario?

JY: Yeah. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what the path will be. I just know that they see it. We were joking before the show that, hey, maybe they’re following my Twitter feed and a few other people’s been observing these problems with the oil market and sort of weird trading patterns versus very strong physical demand and sort of very strong indicators.

And you see Saudi has a very high price relative to their benchmarks. Right. Their poster price, especially Asia, has been very high and usually that’s associated with price strength, and instead we’ve seen price weakness. So I think they’re very frustrated by that, but they may wait for some other things. So oil prices to fall a little more or some other sort of signal, maybe some small amount of demand destruction to the extent that happens. I think it’s a little hard, just given the Saudi relationship  with the US and their sort of hope to maintain a lot of their alliance and their alignment with the west. 

So I think they need sort of an additional catalyst. That being said, once they do it, they might… I don’t know if they start small and then go big, or they might just go big. They might just say, hey, we’re cutting by a million barrels a day. We increased by four over the last year and a half, and we’re fully supportive of the market. We might go a lot bigger if necessary, and there’s a disconnect and we’re going to support it.

TN: Okay, so how much of this is related to the SPR release? Is the SPR release having such an impact on prices that the Saudis are kind of fed up with it, or are there other factors?

JY: I actually don’t think it’s related to the SPR release almost at all. It does look like it’s a little related to some of the job owning around a potential agreement with Iran. And there’s a lot of disagreement in terms of how much oil production could come on if Iran came to an agreement with the west and sort of restarted. JCPOA. I’m in the camp that there’s not a lot left to produce and to export. You can see the amount is getting exported to India and various other countries. It’s up a lot from the last time this was floated, six or seven months ago. So whatever that capacity was for Iran to export, it’s less.

But I think it’s partly tied to that because Iran is a regional foe of Saudi Arabia and UAE and several other OPEC countries. So I think it’s a little bit of that. And I think it’s a lot related to the paper market trading patterns and just this really big weird disconnect where you see consumption fine and you see price down and it’s probably messing up your CI Futures forecasting a little because you’re probably tracking the consumption and the consumption is fine and the price is down. And it’s like. Okay. The inventories are down. This is weird. Again, excluding SPR, when the SPR stops releasing, obviously you’d expect price to recover substantially absent a million barrels a day of demand structure.

TN: Is that what you expect when the SPR release is done, that’s late October or something, right, do you expect prices to rise notably? 

JY: Yeah. And I think like, the EIA forecast for shale production growth and sort of overall US oil production is just totally off base. They haven’t reset it, even though I think they had like a million barrels a day or something forecast for growth. And I think we’re at sort of 300,000 barrels a day so far this year and pretty flat. And the rig count is not up that much, and the frac stack count is definitely not up enough. So I think there’s sort of this disconnect. 

There also in terms of this mark to model from a production perspective versus what’s actually happening in the field.  And then you look at it’s not hard to see who the big producers are on the public side and then which ones had forecast growth and how much they’re actually achieving. 

It’s really hard to reconcile their forecast for production growth versus what’s actually happening. And we’re really well situated for this because we spend most of our time we talk a lot about macro, we spend most of our time just like looking at individual companies and evaluating them and evaluating their securities. And so I think it’s part of why we’ve had such a powerful voice from a macro perspective, because we’re spending most of our time talking to these companies, looking at the rigs, looking at other services, figuring out the bottlenecks, and looking at some of the local stuff.

And when you do that and you step back and say, these numbers don’t make sense, and the companies are not tracking anywhere close to that. So back to SPR, that matters a lot because we’re not achieving the production that is being forecast. And it seems like a lot of market participants, or at least prognosticators, are just accepting as a given. That means that at whatever point… I’m not saying that the SPR release stops in October. They may continue it, but at whatever point, there is a finite amount of oil there. And we’re hitting tank bottom on some of those caverns that are releasing oil. At some point we just run out or we stop releasing and whatever that point is, absent significant demand destruction in a very deep recession, I think we see a lot higher oil prices.

TN: So in terms of the SPR release, you said, you talk about being empty, this sort of thing. How much do you think are you still thinking kind of October? Are you thinking they’re going to continue, but it would kind of have to trickle out, not at the same rate they had been releasing to date. Right? Because they are short on supply in the SPR.

JY: Yeah, I don’t think it has to trickle out. I think they could produce pretty hard for another month or so, and then it starts becoming more of an issue. But as you get down to it, looks like the numbers around 20% or so for any of the individual storage facilities, and for some of them, it might be a little higher, some of it might be a little lower. You start having issues with contamination as well as just physical deliverability, actually extracting it out. 

And I think people take the numbers a little too seriously. And it’s very weird because no one trusts the government about certain things and then other things they just blindly say, oh yeah, it’s right. It’s from, okay, try to reconcile that.

And I think when you talk to engineers and some of the people that have worked on these facilities, their observation is that it’s reasonable to expect less deliverability. But there are enough of the facilities that aren’t drawn down enough that they should be able to supply. I don’t think we’re really hitting deliverability issues yet, but I think we’re likely to start to hit them, let’s say over the next month or so.

TN: Okay. So kind of when we take what you’re talking about and we look at, say, the potential impact of crude prices and refined product prices on inflation and energy prices generally on inflation, seems to me that you’re implying that towards the end of the year we could see those prices rise fairly quickly. Is that fair to say?

JY: It is. But at the same time, gasoline prices are still down a lot. These will start to tick back up the gasoline, which is a big consumer factor, as well as it gets felt through a number of different aspects of the economy. So at least for now, that’s not so much of a risk. But yeah, definitely. Sort of later on in the year, one could expect that. 

And one other way to look at that is there’s been a divergence, and I’ve ignored these historically, to my detriment. There’s been a divergence in between the oil price and oil and gas equity prices and oil and gas equities have done a lot better over the last, let’s say, month and a half than oil prices have. And it looks like the equity market is telling us that the companies… 

I mean, one, the companies are just very cheap, so I would think naturally they should rise. But the degree of divergence is so much that it seems like the equity market is making a forward looking bet on higher than strip prices in the future. And the forward market and the oil paper market is making the bet that it will be lower.

So there does seem to be a noteworthy divergence that could mean much higher inflation, like you’re saying, but it might also be that shelter matters a lot more and some other stuff matters a lot more, and it might really take diesel rising a lot and gasoline rising a lot to actually shift back into high inflation.

TN: Okay, is that divergence between only upstream companies or is it upstream midstream? Is it the whole stack? What is that divergence? What does that include?

JY: So I’m most focused on upstream. I don’t actually remember whether it also included the pipelines and services. But on the upstream, definitely both the large cap, the XLE ETF that includes Exxon and Chevron and stuff, as well as XOP, which includes sort of independence.

TN: Fantastic. Okay, Josh, that is excellent. Thank you so much for that. On that inflation topic,

let’s move to Jackson Hole. Of course, there’s a lot of breathy analysis of Jackson Hole over the last couple of days, and there will be over the weekend. But Sam Rines, who has the most valuable newsletter that I know of that’s available in America today, covered this week, and there’s a chart that he has in there looking at the meeting probabilities and also looking at the headlines that may or may not come out of Jackson Hole.

Sam, can you talk us through that? And what do you expect some of the conclusions to be?

Sam Rines: Yeah, so I thought it was really interesting. The Fed said nothing all that interesting today. I mean, it might have been a shock to people who weren’t paying attention, but the Fed just reiterated about, I don’t know, 99% of what it’s already said and set it in different words. And Powell said it basically eight and a half minutes. Right. That was the big change. All he did was take a bunch of time out of the speech, condense it and say, we’re not pivoting. They were never pivoting. The pivot was out of the picture at the last meeting. He made that pretty clear during that press conference. 

So it’s really interesting to me that there was an actual equity reaction to it. It’s also really interesting

that there was relatively little reaction out of Currencies, relatively little reaction out of global interest rates and only a reaction on the equity front. It was like it was a shock to the equity guys, and everybody else was like, yeah, we need that. So I think that was really the big takeaway was it was a shock to the equity

markets, but everyone who had to be paying attention for the last six months was like, yeah, no big deal.

So Jackson Hole I think one of the things that I had said about it in the newsletter was, you’re not going

to learn anything new. And the only thing that we learned was that Paul was going to say absolutely nothing new and absolutely nothing interesting, and equity markets would still react to it in a pretty meaningful way. The idea that we were going to go to 4% and then stay at 4% was already priced in to Fed fund futures through the end of ’23.

So this whole idea that Powell somehow shocked the market. It’s one of the more entertaining things

today, in my opinion, is just that equity markets were so taken aback by it while you had three or four basis point moves in interest rates across the US curve. And just a big shrug. 

To me, the big news today was probably out of Europe where people were potentially discussing 75 basis

point hike from the ECB. The Czech Republic doing an emergency meeting on energy.

There were some more interesting things that happened in the market today, but I think I overlooked in favor of an eight and a half minute speech by somebody just re iterating what he had already said 900 times.

TN: So let’s talk about Europe a little bit, because that’s interesting. I mean, Europe is in a world of hurt, right? We’ve talked about that several times. So what do you think the path for the ECB is from here? Do you think they’re going to hike 75?

SR: No, I think they hike 50. I think 75 is probably a little too aggressive for them. I mean, we were talking about ten basis points three months ago as being something that we thought would be interesting. And now the idea of floating 75, I think that was mostly to defend the currency, right. They knew that there was a known that you were going into Jackson Hole and if you front ran that with the leak that you might go 75, you’re going to defend your currency somewhat against a potentially hawkish Powell. It’s pretty straightforward in terms of defending a Euro at one. So I think that was basically the case. Call 50, maybe 75, I don’t really care. They’re going to hike, and they’re going to hike in a pretty meaningful way, particularly for a place that is already screwed. Right into the recession, right? Yeah.

I think it’s a pretty interesting opportunity to go long the long-end booned and short the Euro. Yeah, we’ve talked about that a few times here and that’s great.

TN: Okay, guys, what else do you have on the, Albert, Josh? Are you guys hearing anything else on US economy or Jackson Hole? 

Albert Marko: Sam mentioned about the equity reaction. How much of that is really because

of the low liquidity right now? There’s no traders really out there, no volume out there really, at the moment. 

SR: But liquidity works both ways, right? If you have low liquidity, you can rip it. It can get ripped either way. And I think what you saw immediately following his speech was you saw a leg down, then you saw 1% leg down, 1% leg back up, and then a two to 3% leg down, depending on what industry you want to look at. Right. So liquidity works.

AM: But you’re right, nothing was new. That rally that they launched for the weeks prior to that, you expected them to go hawkish after that, what are they going to do? Go dovish and go to 4400, 4500 and look ridiculous? Nothing new came out of this. He’s right about that. 

SR: I think there was an opportunity for them to potentially begin to say, hey, we’re going 50s and then 25s, and then we’re going to pause at 4% and we’re going to see how much we’ve ruined everything. There was the potential for that.

But then when you get STIs, you get financial conditions ripping higher, you have meme stocks

coming back into the news. Yeah. The Fed is not going to consider that type policy. If anything, they’re going to look at that and say, hey, it looks like short term neutral is a little bit higher than we thought it was. We need to move a little further and then begin to pause.

So if anything, the equity rally going into Jackson Hole was more problematic for equity markets than people thought. 

TN: So do you think some of those 25 expected 25s could be 50s in say, Q4?

SR: I don’t care if they’re going to get to four and then they’re going to stop and they’re going to get to four before they’re going to get to four around December and then they’re going to see what kind of carnage they’ve done. If they haven’t done enough carnage, they go higher. Pause there.

TN: That makes sense.

SR: The pace is probably I would say the pace kind of matters for shock and all purposes,

but in general the pace is kind of meh.

The end is really important and the length of staying at the peak is what is truly the most important thing here. If they’re there for a year and a half and they don’t care about a recession, that’s one thing. If they’re there for six months and cut by 75 because we’re in a recession, then go back, that’s a different thing. But I really don’t care how quickly they get there.

TN: Okay. And the run up to the midterms has no bearing on what the Fed is going to do, is that? 

SR: None.

TN: None. Okay. I just hear that from time to time. Well, the midterms are coming, so the Fed

is going to just relax for a few months.

AM: You hear that mainly from me. From my perspective, it’s always been like when I say Fed, I want to say Treasury and Fed together because of Yellen.  But sometimes they have those concerns. Like they don’t want the current administration looking bad. I had a midterm. Yeah.

SR: That should sail.

AM: Well, that should sail because just because of the ridiculous antics that they pulled recently with inflation, it’s being ridiculous. So you’re right, that ship has sailed.

TN: Well, I mean, are they ridiculous or not? I mean, inflation has definitely risen and they’ve definitely taken action to offset inflation.

AM: Yeah, they’ve done that in a vacuum because China is not online yet and Europe is a complete disaster at the moment. Right. And we haven’t had a real event to drive oil up into like the 130s, 140s again. God forbid we have a hurricane in like a week that goes into the Gulf of Mexico while Grandhome is sending out letters to all the refiners saying you can’t export anything anymore. There’s plenty of room. 

TN: She’s encouraging them. She’s not requiring them. Right?

AM: Yeah. Okay, well, we’ll see about that.

JY: She’s making them an offer that they can’t refuse. So my general take was just like, I’m not a Fed watcher. My general take was kind of stagflation coming out of this. Right? It’s like policy that can’t get too extreme to really like they’re going to try to torch the economy, but they’re also not going to go to a 15 interest rate or anything like that. They’re going to go to a four or whatever, and maybe they’ll go slower or faster.

I think there’s some political motivation there. So maybe they go slower and then they turn on higher after the election. Maybe not. Unclear. Kind of doesn’t matter from my perspective.

What does matter is, like Albert was saying, I think there’s a decent shot that we end up with higher oil prices. We end up with other factors. So, like, there are various drivers that are pushing, especially in the rental market, shelter higher, not lower. And so with persistent inflation in the biggest household bucket, and then with a likely move higher this winter in oil and diesel and probably also gasoline, it’s going to look pretty ugly. And if you have them stopping kind of at four, maybe going to let’s say five or something, but inflation is at ten or nine or whatever, right? Some directionally, really high number. At some point, you just start ticking in where you have negative real and positive nominal, and that’s just hard to break unless they go a lot higher. But if the economy is sucking, that makes it really hard. So that was my sort of general take from what they were saying.

AM: I wanted to come back and ask you about the SPR just real quick about the oil in it. Some of it has got to have degradation, and there’s a lot less barrels there that they can actually release. They might have to stop in end of September. You might start seeing oil rise even before October.

JY: Yes. My base case is not that. My base case is there’s a little bit of contamination, but they’ve managed to reduce that either by not pulling from the caverns that have had contamination historically or by treating the oil or something. My base case is that the oil there is extractable, except they can’t get the last barrel because there’s a certain percentage that needs to be there for the caverns to continue to be

functional, and they’re not going to destroy the storage caverns just to get the last oil. That’s my base case.

But I think there’s a reasonable expectation that there’s less oil there, given the history of contamination and the issues. And they did have a big draw this past week, but prior to that, they had multiple smaller draws. There’s also the crude quality thing, which I’m not really in the crude quality matters camp. I think there’s sort of this bizarre notion that crude, which is mostly fungible, really matters. It did to some extent before you could export oil and before various changes in US refineries.

At this point, it matters a little in terms of getting a couple of dollars, more or less per barrel, depending on transport cost. But I don’t think that’s really affecting the global balance. And I think it’s sort of like

a magic trick, right? It’s like focus on this and not like the thing that actually matters.

And so I’m glad you didn’t bring it up. I guess I brought it up and I just don’t think it matters, though.

TN: Great. Thanks for that, guys. Okay, let’s move on to China. Albert, over the past a week or so, we’ve seen a number of stories saying that China fiscal stimulus may finally be coming.

And we’ve seen some movements, say, in China, tech stocks, these sorts of things. So can you talk us through what you’re seeing with China in the stimulus camping? And why now? They’ve waited so long. Why would it be coming now?

AM: Well, it’s coming out because the policy and the dollar is so high, the Chinese economy is struggling at the moment and they come out with these mini stimulus announcements and there were shots across the bow. I mean, the worst thing right now that the Fed can happen is China stimulating commodities ripping at the moment, that would be absolutely atrocious. Inflation will start going higher and we seen like Josh said a 10% CPI prints coming out and they’re going to be forced to do 75 basis points again. It would throw a wrench in a lot of things and it’s not good if they stimulate it right now. 

But after the election, after the US election, they can do what they want to do because they have their own interests at heart at the moment. They cannot let the Chinese economy fall to a point where they can’t recover in the near future.

TN: So what do you see coming out in the near term? This $229 billion bond sale? That was a start, right? So do you see more than that or dramatically more than that coming out? And how quickly do you expect? 

AM: Yeah, I expect by January that will have a significant stimulus package coming out. This little SEC audit deal was basically a gift to delay it as much as long as they can.

TN: Okay, very good. And then so you don’t expect a significant amount of Chinese stimulus before, say, December or something like that?

AM: Yeah, before December. 

TN: Okay. Sam, what do you think about that? Do you think China stimulus hurts the US? 

SR: I really don’t think that the Fed would care or go 75. I mean, it’s commodities, right? And the Fed tries to ignore commodities as much as possible. So yeah, you’re going to get a rip in oil because there’s not enough oil to go around, there’s not enough oil for China and it’s going to coincide with the end of the SPR release. So you’re kind of screwed there. 

Copper, all that stuff goes higher. I don’t think the Fed cares. The Fed is going to try to cut that out. Then they’ll pivot core and you’re going to have a really weak Renminbi and you’re going to have probably at least a little bit of a pass through to US consumers on the goods front as you get goods to flow back. 

So you could actually see kind of an interesting offset where core goods kind of begins to decline on a Chinese reopen. Commodities rip and you get the, hey look, it looks like core is moving back towards two. We’re not going to have to raise rates as much because we don’t really care about headline, we can’t control oil, we can’t pump more oil. 

So I think it’s a weird kind of catch 22 where the Fed is going to have to pivot from talking about headline to talking about core. But I think they’re happy to do it as long as that core is really moving lower because I think they know they’re screwed on energy. They’re in so much trouble in energy, commodities, et cetera, that there’s nothing they can do.

TN: I think you’re right and we’ve needed a weaker CNY for about six, seven months now. So I think it’s about time and we’ve started to see it move, but I think we’ll start to see it move more dramatically soon.

Okay, guys, let’s start looking at the week ahead. Just a quick kind of round the horn of what do you think, Albert, what are you looking for for the coming week?

AM: I’m looking for a little bit of a rally back off these loads here, try to bring it back to 4200. I just personally think that the economy is in trouble, they’re delaying a recession as long as they possibly can, but it’s coming. So I think a little bit of a pump next week and then probably heading back down into September.

TN: Okay, Sam? 

SR: Oh, I agree with Albert there. I think the knee jerk reaction today to the Fed is going to be unloud as people begin to look at what really went on in rates. What’s going on in FX. The concentration should be on what’s going on in Europe. And the flow versus the stock problem that nobody seems to be able to figure out. Which is you can stock as much gas as you want in a bunch of caverns in Europe. If you don’t have flow over the winter, your stocks really don’t matter. I think there’s going to be a little bit of a realization that stock versus flow matter more than stocks and at some point you’ve got to figure that one out. So that’s what I’m watching.

TN: Interesting. Okay, Josh, what are you looking for in the week ahead?

JY: Just more information on oil demand. So we’re starting to see reports of surprise, higher oil demand than people would have thought, which coincide with actual reports of oil demand when you look at the raw data. So that should be interesting to see sort of how that gets processed and then sort of how oil price may or may not get suppressed. Again, just as we get more good data points, price should go higher, but it doesn’t seem to want you for now.

TN: Very good. From the energy capital of the Universe in Houston, Texas, Josh Young, Sam Rines.

Guys. Thanks very much. Albert, thanks. Have a great day, have a great weekend and a great week ahead.