This is a podcast from BFM 89 Nine. The business station BFM 89.9. It’s seven seven thursday the 18 August. And of course, you’re listening to the Morning Run together with Keith Kam and I’m Wong Shou Ning. Now. In about 30 minutes, we’ll be speaking to our own pie from Mong’s Hill Ventures on the Asian carbon market outlook, or the lack of one. But let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.
Wasn’t such a good day for Wall Street. It ended a five day winning streak with the Dow down 0.5%. The SNP 500 down 0.7%. Net site was down 1.3%. All these follow the release of retail data and the Fed July meeting minutes earlier today. Asian markets, it was a bit mixed. Nikkei was up 1.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Shanghai’s Composite were up 0.5%. Singapore’s STI was up 0.3%. Back home, the FBM KLCI was marginally lower, 0.4% down.
So for where markets are heading, we have on the line with this Tony Nash CEO of Complete intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Now, US stocks did dip last night, but we are still far higher than what we saw in June. Earning season show that four out of five companies are either meeting or beating street expectations. But does that matter? Or is the Fed still dictating market direction.
Dynamics first is we’re in the last weeks of thinly traded summer equities in the States and Europe. And so you are seeing movement on not a lot of volume. So that’s one thing we really need to consider. The other is, yes, companies have reported fairly well, but the Fed really is what people are thinking about. And the Fed, if you want to know what’s in the Fed’s mind, they’ve really been looking at the University of Michigan survey quite a lot lately, which is kind of a mainstream economic item, but it’s a little bit obscure. But there’s some conflicting data there.
So if you look at the Michigan survey, they survey current financial condition of consumers and it’s as bad now as it was in, say, 2009. So the current financial condition for consumers is not great. And then when you look at inflation uncertainty, which is also what consumers look at or the University of Michigan looks at, is very high. It’s the highest it’s been since the 1980s. So the Fed is looking at those gauges and if you looked at the Fed notes that came out today, they were a little bit dovish.
They were leaning dovish, I’ll say I won’t say they were dovish, but they were leaning more dovish than people thought. So I think traders are looking more to the Fed their September meeting, what their intentions are, rather than any specific earnings call, although Walmart was a good call, and we’ll talk about that in a second, but there are some earnings that are coming through that are helping some portions of markets.
So, Tony, are you expecting a 75 basis point hike or maybe a 50 basis point hike because swaps now are indicating or at least increasing odds of that half point hike next month.
I’m leaning towards a half point hike because we are seeing things slow down. I don’t necessarily think we’re going to be in a recession that’s at the depth that people are fearing. But consumers are laden down with worries, businesses are cutting staff and so on and so forth. So I think the Fed is likely going to slow down the rate of rise of rates,.
Meanwhile, all prices have come under pressure in last few days. Is it more due to demand destruction or increasing supply coming on stream and what sort of impact do you see going forward at least in the short term?
It’s both actually. There has been demand destruction and people have slowed down some of their purchases because of demand destruction. But the SPR release in the US has really provided supply that has curbed some prices. And so if you look at year on year, US. Imports of crude are down 1.7 million barrels per day and US exports are up 1.5 million barrels per day. So that’s a gap of 3.2 million barrels a day that has been added to the market. So we’ll likely see crude trade in a range or the price will be capped until that SPR release stops, which is the end of October, which is coincidentally just before midterm elections here in the US.
Okay Tony, let’s go back to the conversation early. So it was kind of mentioned which is consumer. So consumer stocks like Walmart and Home Depot reported better than expected profits. But on the flip side, Target numbers weren’t so positive. So help us make sense of this. I mean where is the consumer, US consumer? How do they feel? How are they doing?
Yeah, I think a big part of that is expectations. So Walmart’s Q2 earnings, or the ones they came out with three months ago, they were really negative. They had overbought. They had overbought because of supply chain issues and a lot of other issues. Walmart has since laid off a bunch of headquarters staff, really cleaned up their supply chain issues. And so their report yesterday or two days ago was fantastic. Target’s report yesterday on a relative basis was pretty terrible because Target didn’t prepare markets as negatively three months ago. So markets were still relatively optimistic on Target. And then this morning it opened, I don’t know, 6% down or something and it recovered a lot of that loss but markets were relatively negative.
What’s interesting to note on retailers is this: retailers are pushing price hikes across to consumers. So you’ll see say a 10% rise in revenues or something on quarter for example, but only a 1% rise in volumes. So what that translates to is retailers are passing along price hikes to consumers. So for those retailers who have the power to pass along price hikes, they will do well. Those who can’t pass along price hikes, they will have a really hard time.
And then the tech heavy Nasdaq has jumped 23% from June’s lows, perhaps driven by cheaper valuations and optimism that growth is back in fashion with inflation in check. Are you like the street, which believes the story except for Intel, which is still underwater?
Well, I wish growth was back in vogue. I mean, we can look at everything from, say, VC to Meta to see that there’s still a lot of skepticism around growth in tech and chip firms like, say, Micron, which are still way down compared to a few months ago. So Meta, as I mentioned, Meta is still underwater from June, and it’s trading about half the level it did a year ago. Amazon is up 40% from its June lows, which is huge, but it’s still down from a year ago.
Although things are in a relatively better place than they were a few months ago, they’re still down on year, and that’s really hurting. A number of the tech. Valuations still seem stretched. I think some things really need to play through the economy. And if you look, for example, at ad space with, say, Netflix soon to be offering ad based business model and a number of other kind of ad supply coming on the market, a lot of the tech plays like Meta and Twitter and other guys who are ad based models. They will have headwinds as they try to raise if they try to raise their revenue guidance.
All right, thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, warning us that growth may not still be invoked at the moment and that he’s expecting a 50 bps hike at the next FOMC meeting, actually, as opposed to 75 basis points because it looks like the US. Economy is beginning to slow.
Well, the Feds did say that they’re still committed to raising interest rates because, well, let’s face it 8.5%.
In a distance, big, far off distance by talking about us without cisco, which is actually the biggest maker of machines that run the Internet, did have a pretty good set of results for fourth quarter, and it beat street expectations and provided better than expected forecast for the coming year. Earnings were at $83 per share. Net income decreased, however, by 6% to $2.8 billion.
And revenue was at $13.1 billion, which was slightly higher than what analysts had been expecting. Cisco’s numbers generally topped estimates the company is still struggling to grow. The tech world is rapidly shifting to cloud and subscription software and away from buying physical boxes, which is what Cisco is known for. Right now, Cisco stock price is down 24% this year.
Yeah, but if you look at the street, right, I think that’s reflecting why the share price hasn’t done well. It’s somewhat mixed 14 buys, 16 holes, one sell. Consensus target price for the stock, $52.91. Close at 05:00 P.m. In us at 46.66. Now, something that we mentioned just a few seconds ago, it’s Target. Now, they released their second quarter results. Profits fell nearly 90% from a year ago. But I get the sense that the market is all about expectations, right? So if you guide early and you guide well, then the street doesn’t get disappointed. But it doesn’t remove the reality that your set of numbers are actually bad.
Yeah. They still have quite a huge backlog of stock inventory for them. What we are looking at is that there was deep markdowns on unwanted merchandise, which is now what everybody is worried about because eventually it’s going to bite them, right?
Yeah. They’ll have to write it off. 22 buys on this top ten holes, no sales consensus. Target price for target $187.67. It closed at 05:00 PM. At 175. USD $34. But up next, we’ll be speaking to David Thio on DBKL’s new housing renovation rules. Stay tuned for that. BFM 89.9 you have been listening to.
Biden’s Saudi trip ended up being a disappointment and there really is no immediate spare capacity, which is a surprise to no one.
What does the appreciated USD mean? We’ve already seen a fall in Sri Lanka and other places which we’ve talked about for weeks, but where is that going and when will that end?
We also talked about the FOMC expectations. What will the Fed do, especially given CPI PPI data? We have to also keep in mind that we have an election coming up in November, so it’s really hard for the Fed to keep the heat on.
Biden’s Saudi Arabia trip 🛢️
USD🚀 rocket ship and fallout
FOMC expectations (CPI/PPI)
What’s ahead for next week?
This is the 26th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
0:00 Start 0:49 Key themes for the episode 1:55 Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia 3:23 PR game and disastrous foreign policies 5:00 The US President looks like he has no power? 6:17 US can be a marginal price setter for oil, but… 7:34 what happens to crude prices? 10:08 Why is USD pushing higher? 11:22 What’s happening in the Euro Dollar and why? 13:51 FOMC 19:00 What happened to the gasoline prices? 20:07 When will Yellen give up on the 2% inflation? 23:45 What’s for the week ahead?
Listen to the podcast version on Spotify here:
TN: Hi, everybody, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. I want to thank Albert and Sam for joining us to take a look at The Week Ahead. Before we get started, please, please like and subscribe on this channel and please comment, ask us questions, let us know additional information you think we should have. We get back to every single one of those and we want to make sure that you guys are happy with what we’re talking about today.
So today there’s a lot that’s happened over the past week and even over the weekend that we want to get into. We’ve got three topics here, but there’s going to be a lot of overlap in these. So I’m just going to introduce these and then we’re going to have a pretty open discussion.
The first is Biden’s Saudi trip, ended up being kind of a disappointment and there really is no immediate spare capacity, which is kind of a surprise to no one, but it happened and we’ll cover it. Next is the US dollar, and what does the appreciated US dollar mean? We’ve already seen a fall in Sri Lanka and other places which we’ve talked about for weeks, but where is that going and when will that end? Next is FOMC expectations. What will the Fed do? Especially given CPI PPI data? And we have to also keep in mind that we have an election coming up in November, so it’s really hard for the Fed to keep the heat on when we have an election coming in November or that would be a normal election year.
So Albert and Sam, thank you so much for taking your Sunday afternoon to talk through to us. Let’s first get into Biden’s trip. Albert, can you give us a little bit of a kind of geopolitical backdrop for us? Help us understand what were the expectations and what actually happened?
AM: Well, I mean, the expectations were that Biden goes into the Saudi Arabians in the Middle East and cuts a deal for them to increase production and capacity and name your whatever little policy that they’re talking about. The reality was Biden wanted to get away from the PPI number and the CPI. They’re just atrocious. So he decided it’s a normal thing that politicians leave and go overseas so they don’t have to deal with it.
So he went over to Saudi Arabia meets MBS, which was already a problem considering the comments that he had for the election. But his goal for upping production by the Middle East and OPEC, it was a fantasy. It was nothing more than a PR gimmick in my opinion, that the Fed has been playing in futures and crushing the price of oil. So it was one of these, look here, this is what I’m doing on the grand stage and oil prices are falling, but in reality they weren’t really connected.
TN: So were there really expectations in the administration that there would be additional immediate capacity? Do they really think that that would be on the table?
AM: I don’t think so to be honest with you, Tony. Like I said, this is a PR game that they’re playing now specifically because, like you mentioned, elections are coming up and their intent is to save the Democratic majority in the Senate. The House is lost, but the Senate is what they’re eyeing up. So in my opinion, this is all PR games.
TN: Okay. But the PR game that is really hard for me to understand is the President, regardless of who it is, okay. The President going to a place that is an ally. Saudi Arabia is pretty much an ally to the US. And coming away with nothing. One would think that the Secretary of State and the Nat Sec guys, other guys would have gone in first to make sure that we could announce something positive and nothing happened.
So it seems to me that there is foreign policy disaster after foreign policy disaster with this administration. I don’t want to be putting my own view on it, but is it that, too?
AM: Of course, we’ve had just multiple disasters and foreign policy. But even from the Saudi Arabian perspective, who’s their biggest client? At the moment, it’s China. Why do they have to listen to Biden, who’s made the Biden administration has made unbelievable mistakes in foreign policy and actually risk their security more than anything else. He’s taking the foot off of the Iranians. The Saudis have to deal with that. The Russians are in their own little world of adventures, but there’s no real stability in the Middle East, and the United States under Biden doesn’t really show that there is anyone stepping up to the plate.
TN: Right. And that’s kind of a leadership issue. Whether or not the US is their main customer, the US has been their main advocate in the Middle East and around the world. Or one of their main advocates. Right.
TN: So that’s the big loss that I see is you have a president going in, not getting an agreement with a huge entourage for agreements that should have been done before they arrived, and it just makes them look like they have no power. Sam, is that how you read it?
SR: Yeah. There’s two things that I think the US. Generally gave to Saudi Arabia, and that was global clout and weapons, right? Yes. And the second part is probably very important to the Saudis going forward because there’s only so many places that manufacture weapons that are decent, and that’s the US, to a certain degree, Russia, China and basically Turkey. So you can kind of buy weapons from those places. Guess what? That was a tool that really wasn’t flexed at all.
And if you’re going to flex policy power, that probably should have been flexed a little bit. And honestly, it doesn’t appear to have been at all. So I would say to Albert’s point exactly, we’re not the largest customer when it comes to oil by a mile. Right, that’s just true. But we are the largest supplier for their national defense.
TN: Here’s the thing that I don’t understand is, with US production, we can be the marginal price setter for global oil prices, but we pull that card off of the table by disabling our domestic manufacturers. Is that a fair thing to say?
SR: Well, I would say that that’s the muscle that we’re kind of flexing right now, right? To a certain extent
TN: Okay, tell me more about that. How are we flexing that?
SR: Well, we’re flexing it. I’m not saying it’s good flex. Right. We’re flexing it by not doing anything. So we are basically the ones holding up global price of oil. OPEC honestly has pumped exactly what they said they would pump with a little variability, and they don’t have much marginal capacity.
The marginal capacity was passed to fracking a long time ago. This is not a shocking revelation. So when you’re the global incremental supply that can flip on in a relatively fast manner and you say, we are not going to do that, period, and we’re not going to in any way supplement the regulatory overhangs and the capital overhangs, and guess what? You’re going to end up with a global shortage of oil and distillates, etc.
TN: Right. So what happens to crude prices with the Saudis saying, okay, maybe capacity in 2027? What do we see in the short term with crude prices? I mean, with a recession looming, supposedly, whether that’s real or not remains to be seen. Right. And we had a good retail sales figure on Friday, pretty strong.
So what do we see happen with crude prices in the short term? Is there upward pressure on crude prices or are we kind of in this range?
AM: I think we’re in this range of 90 to 115. Just simply because of the reality. I want to differentiate pre election versus post election. Right. Pre election, we’re definitely in a range of 90 to 115. The Feds not going to let the price of oil gets to the point where people are paying six, $7 a gallon to the tank. So that’s first and foremost.
After that, hands up. Who knows what’s going to happen then? Because Europe’s going through an energy crisis with gas. The price of oil is probably going to go up just because the green deals that the Biden administration are intent on passing are going to ramp up right at the election and just afterwards. So after the election, I could see 130, 140.
TN: Okay. Sam, any near term change in crude prices because of this? No?
SR: Well, near term, Albert’s point, $90 a barrel seems to be kind of the low here. I don’t think we’re going to go much lower. And that’s a combination of DXY at 108, which DXY at 108 is atypical to oil remaining elevated.
So if you begin to have a dollar breaking into the back half the year, that’s kind of the post election story. I think Albert would back me up on that part. You begin to see that breaking. Guess what? The scaling, that makes 130, 140 is relatively reasonable. But you call it 90 to 115. Absolutely not a problem here. And you probably creep back towards the upper end of that 150 because you’ve seen two things.
You’ve seen gasoline prices come down, which means demand is going to remain resilient, if not pick up on the margins. And guess what? That flows downhill. So I would say oil prices, gasoline prices, they look good right now. I saw a free handle on gasoline close to my house. That’s not going to last. That’s not going to beat the system.
TN: Right. Okay. So, Sam, you mentioned the dollar at 108. We hit 109 last week. Why is the dollar pushing higher, guys?
AM: I can tell you why. I’ve been adamant about this. Yellen tell the European counterparts that she was going to drive the dollar up to 110 and above. She’s done this in 2013 before. There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s part of her playbook. She knows what she’s doing. She can even go up another 10%. Now, what that does to emerging markets? Oh, God help them at the moment. But still, the dollar is the most effective tool in their eyes for inflation busting, at least short term.
TN: So how far are we going?
AM: I think we go up to 112 to 115.
TN: Okay, over what time horizon? The next month? The next three months?
AM: Yeah, I think it’s in the next month. I think they want to get this over and done with so they can pivot starting September. Stop the rate hikes. And on top of that, this is something for Sam that could talk about the Fed is I think that Powell probably loses the majority of votes in the Fed for Fed members come October.
TN: Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. I want to talk about that. But let’s finish up with the dollar first. Okay? This is good. Okay, so with the dollar, help me understand what’s happening in the Euro dollar markets right now. Okay. We’ve seen the Euro dollar fall as the dollar rises. What’s actually happening there, and why.
SR: Not me?
AM: I’ve been adamant about this. Also, as global trade slows down, the need and use of Euro dollars becomes less so. And a lot of people sit there mistake that as the dollar is dying and gold is coming back and whatever name your crypto, that’s supposed to be the next reserve currency. But that’s just the reality of the moment, is they are purposely trying to kill demand. When you kill demand, the Euro dollar starts to fall because there’s less need of it. That’s just the most simple basic explanation that I can give you at the moment.
TN: Okay, so, Sam, that is non US demand in US dollars, right?
SR: Yeah. Dollar denominated non US debt.
TN: Okay. And so the largest portion of the euro dollar market. Is that still in Europe?
SR: No, it still flows through Europe. Right, okay. But it’s a much larger market than simply Europe.
TN: Okay. It tells me outside of the US, there’s a slow down generally. Is that fair to say?
TN: And we’ve talked about this before. Europe has big problems. We saw China’s numbers last week, which are obviously overreported anyway, so Japan is having problems. So all the major markets are having issues. So the Euro dollar is just a proxy for what’s actually happening, those markets through trade and through the demand for actually US dollar currency spent outside of the US.
AM: Yes. Very simplistic terms, yes, that’s exactly right.
TN: Good. Anything else for the viewers here? Like, anything else that you guys want to add on Euro dollars just so they can pay attention to things?
AM: Not really. It’s a very good just simplistic, basic understanding of Euro dollars. I mean, we can get into the whole mechanics of your dollars, but it’s so big it’ll take up an entire episode.
TN: Okay, good. Very good.
SR: Very into the weeds very quickly.
TN: So if anybody’s watching has questions about Euro dollars, let us know. We’ll get Sam and Albert in on this and help them answer the questions. All right?
Okay. Finally, FOMC, okay. We saw CPI hit to the high side. We saw PPI hit to the high side last week. A lot of talk about 100 basis point hike. Sam had a newsletter out that said could be 100, could be 75. And Albert obviously thinks that there’s going to be a pivot in September. So Sam, do you want to kick this one off?
SR: Yeah, sure. I do want to point out that I said there’s a difference between should and will in the newspaper, and the notion was, should the Fed go 100 now? Will they? Probably, unless the University of Michigan survey comes in light. And it came in light. So you’re 75 basis points now. It’s that simple.
SR: Very straightforward. The Fed probably wanted to have flexibility for 100, but when they tied themselves to something so stupid as the University of Michigan survey and it falls I mean…
AM: You know what, Sam, the funny thing is that you say that is, that is exactly what they look at, for making their policy decisions. The only thing they look at.
TN: University Of Michigan.
SR: I know they look at it. The problem was they said it out loud. Like, you don’t say that out loud. That’s the mysterious parts of it. It’s a survey of a very small subsection that is basically never been tied to reality at all across any time frame whatsoever. And like yeah..
TN: It’s like making policy based on Atlanta GDP now. Right. It’s like a lot of these things are proxies of small survey sizes of whatever.
SR: Error terms that interact with each other, yes.
TN: Right. I think a lot of people who watch markets see these indexes, like the University of Michigan index come out and they think that it means something, but it kind of does, but it kind of doesn’t. And so I always recommend people, you have to understand these indexes. You have to understand what these releases mean. You have to understand the methodology. If you’re going to make investment decisions based upon these things, you have to understand what they are.
And as you dig down beneath these things like University of Michigan was put out what 30 years ago initially. The methodology hasn’t changed much since then. So if you imagine the technology and the capabilities 30 years ago and they carried that forward, it’s pretty light. It’s pretty light. A lot of these things are pretty light.
AM: Yeah, but they want it like that though Tony. They don’t want to update their stuff because they don’t want transparency. Seriously.
TN: It’s true.
AM: If you want to massage the numbers, you go with what you know, what you know is flawed and that’s what you go with.
AM: I had a quick question for Sam. Like I said, I think that they’re going to pivot in September after 75 basis point rate hike now and whatever CPI coming in in August. But I don’t think this is the right decision for them to pivot this early because they’re expecting demand to come down and I see no demand coming down anywhere at the moment. So what happens if they sit there and try to pivot for September, October, November, election time and then January, December comes along and demand is sky high again? What does that do to inflation for 2023?
SR: I think it’s complicated, right? Because it’s kind of the goods versus services problem going into the back of the year. Right. We’ll have plenty of goods, print, crap on store shelves and Target for toys and whatnot because that part of the supply chain is solved.
What’s going to be persistent on the CPI price is going to be shelter, which we all know is six months lagged and is going to be a problem for the rest of the year. And there’s nothing they can do about that because their methodology is, again, stupid. So there’s nothing they can do on the prints from here out.
They’re going to have prints that are sitting at 30 basis points plus just because of shelter and it’s weight in core, that’s going to be a big problem for them on the CPI front. So if they pivot, they’re basically going to have to say that, you know, look at headline, it absolutely plummeted. Gasoline.
TN: Will we get a core rating, x Energy, Food and shelter? Will we start quoting that?
SR: Yeah. That’s what I started looking at for the exact reason of trying to find a pivot. Because eventually that will be the metric that they are forced to go to if they want to pivot. It’ll be SuperCore and guess what you call it supercore.
SuperCore doesn’t look that great right now, but it could look pretty interesting if you begin to have gasoline coming down 40% month over month with what the next one is going to say or 25% month over month. So you’re going to continue to have some volatility on the headline CPI front, which is basically what the Fed is going to have to look at in order to pivot.
TN: Okay, so can I ask what happened with gasoline prices? We still have 94% or whatever utilization. Crude prices haven’t come down that much. So why have we seen a 30% fall in gasoline prices over the past three to four weeks?
SR: Recession fears?
TN: That’s it. Okay.
AM: Yeah, pretty much exactly. It’s just the narrative of recessions coming and trying to kill demand based on that. It’s just like I said, PR games, nothing more.
SR: The one thing that I want to point out that I think is really important to kind of consider for Albert’s point of a pivot is equities tend to move in a six month precursor. And what you’ve seen since July 1 is an absolute rip in home builders and a relative squashing of utilities.
And if people were betting on a longer recession in a longer Fed cycle, XLU would be the buy and homebuilders would be the short. And that has simply not been the case so far.
TN: Very interesting, Sam Rines.
AM: When do you think that Yellen this is for both of you, when do you think that Yellen gives up on the 2% inflation number and says 4% is the goldilocks level?
TN: Sam Rines you first. It’s a great question.
SR: I don’t think they go 4%, but I think they say, and they’ve begun to do this, if you go back over the last six months of speeches that 2 to 2.5 is fine.
AM: Still it’s going to be higher.
SR: They’re creeping it up. Right. I don’t think it’ll be 4%. I think between two and 3% is a reasonable target, blah, blah, blah, given and they’ll go into things like because of the way that we measure CPI, 2 to 3%, blah, blah, blah. There’ll be some.
AM: Fun times.
TN: I think if they did that, Albert, I think it would be after the election.
AM: Oh, of course. They’re not doing anything that’s going to trip up Operation Save the Democratic Senate, you know what I mean? They’re just not going to do that. Right?
TN: Yeah. I think people are already really upset about inflation. Companies are starting to report or expected report numbers down, their earnings down, and so it’s hurting everybody.
AM: Yeah, but everything they’re doing is just going to make inflation worse in 2023. But it’s going to come back with a vengeance because unemployment is still unemployment is going to start ticking up, because…
TN: It’s not an election year. Nobody cares because it’s not an election year.
AM: Stimulus checks will flow again. It’ll be fun.
SR: The one thing, again this goes to Albert’s point on, will a potential September pivot be a mistake? Pepsi’s report this week showed a 1% organic volume growth and 12% pricing. They put 12% pricing and consumers and had volumes creep up 1%. Guess what? If companies can get away with that, they are going to all day long, and they will in fact, make a fortune on the back side of this.
AM: Of course.
SR: Paying attention to that demand destruction has not crept through yet. If you can push that kind of price and not have volumes fall, guess what?
TN: Well, the biggest thing, of course, and this is a no brainer, but prices are not going back to where they were. They are not going back to where they were. This is not a temporary inflation thing. And it may have started that way, but the way we responded to it was completely wrong. And it just baked in these supply side things that flowed all the way through to the retail side.
AM: Wage inflation alone. Wage inflation alone.
TN: Yeah. But I think we’re going to see more on the, say, low, medium side of wages. I think in order to keep up with a 12% price hike in Pepsi, you’re going to have to see more action on the wage side.
SR: Granted, that was mostly free online. That was mostly salty snacks. And it might have had something to do honestly, it might have had something to do with more frequent gasoline stops. You buy more chips. But I wouldn’t read too much into that. Right. I do think that their ability to push price is pretty good.
SR: Yes. To your point, it’s a step function in pricing and therefore it’s a step function in inflation. Great. Okay, guys, 60 seconds. What do you see for the week ahead? Albert, go.
AM: Commodities. Rebounding commodities. I’m long wheat. I think there’s problematic globally for wheat. I want to see wheat prices start to track back up, to be honest with you. Same thing with oil.
TN: So soft and energy.
TN: Okay. Sam?
SR: Yeah. Watching the inflation trade, honestly, and I think it’s very similar to Albert’s point on oil. And wheat, I’ll be watching the relative sector distribution pretty closely here, looking for those like XLU versus the housing guys versus some of the other trades to see what people actually putting money to work are really thinking, not just by them.
TN: Very good, guys, thank you so much. Thank you so much for taking your Monday afternoon. Thanks, everybody, for watching our late week ahead. And guys, thanks. Have a great week ahead.
Despite weaker economic data, will the Federal Reserve continue their hawkish stance? Do the FOMC minutes offer any hints of their stance? Our CEO and founder, Tony Nash tells us whilst telling us the impact of rising rates on the banking and property sector.
WSN: BFM 89.9. You’re listening to the morning run is seven o’ 7, Thursday, the 7th of July there and keeping you company till 10:00 a.m. Is Shazana Mokda in an undisclosed location far, far away. And I’m Wong shining in the studio now in half an hour, we’re speaking to Manpreet Gill on fixed income and commodity the investment strategy for 2022. But let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.
SM: So if you take a look over in the US, markets actually closed up despite Fed meeting minutes coming out signaling a more hawkish stance. The Dow was up 0.2%, the SP 500 and the Nasdaq was also up 0.4%. Looking over in Asia though, it’s mostly red. No, it’s all red really. The Naked and Hansi were both down 1.2%, the STI was down marginally by 0.01%, and the Shanghai Composite and FBM KLCI were both down 1.4%.
WSN: So for more on where international markets are hitting, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Now so far the economic data coming out of the US shows a slight deceleration of the economy. So do you think that the Fed will then hold back on their hawkish pace of rate hikes despite June’s FYMC minutes indicating that they intend to keep raising rates?
TN: I think they’re definitely going to keep raising rates, I think until we see a marked slowdown in particularly commodity price inflation, but also other things like wage inflation. I think they’re going to keep accelerating. So it’s unlikely they’ll continue with a 75 basis point hike, but they will almost certainly have a 50 basis point hike and continue for the next couple of meetings at least.
WSN: I have another question though, Tony, in that when do you think interest rates will peak or when is the peak of the tightening cycle? Will it be early 2023 or you’re looking maybe later in 2023.
TN: Well, some people are saying that it’s possible they continue to hike until the end of the year, and then in 23 they have some rate cuts similar to what happened in the early 90s. That’s possible. I think it all depends on where the economy is at the time. But I think for now they’re just worried about inflation and the downsides of inflation and they’re looking at asset prices and where asset prices are, and it’s really troubling for them given yeah, the economy has definitely slowed down, but we still have wages rising, we still have very high commodity prices, and we also have an appreciating dollar at the same time. So anything imported should be cheaper on a relative basis, but those prices keep going up as well. So Fed continues to be worried, although they’re getting pressure from the outside because it is an election year and the party in power does not want there to be a recession going into the election. And so they’re getting huge pressure from the treasury and from other people to moderate their stance so that there is not a recession going into the election.
SM: Well, what do you think then, Tony? We know that economists at Goldman Sachs have put the risk of a recessionary slump in the US. In the next year at 30%. So they’re still looking at next year. Some consumers feel it’s already here, I guess. Where are you standing in this debate?
TN: Yeah, I think we have unemployment still falling in the US. So you don’t usually have a recession at a time when unemployment is still falling. We also have high inflation. So on a real GDP basis, you may have a negative real GDP number. Well, you have a positive nominal GDP number. And I know that’s a little bit confusing, but what that basically means is that the rate of inflation pulls the economic growth into a negative number simply because of inflation. So we’re in a place where it’s kind of hard to identify a recession because of the real and nominal difference. But when we still have jobs growing, when we still have investments and other things happening, it’s really hard for us to hand on heart say that we are in or entering a recession.
WSN: Okay, let’s get into the weeds then, with regards to the recent set rate hikes and how that might play out in certain sectors. And I want to look at the US. Banks. So how do you think they perform this quarter? Are you a bull or bear?
TN: Well, it’s a tough time for banks. They had mixed results in Q2, and I think higher interest rates obviously help their net interest margin. But borrowing cools off, and it’s things like mortgages. Other things have cooled off dramatically over the last same month or so. Banks will likely have a very tough Q3, and then when things stabilize, they’ll be better. But I think Q3 is going to be rough for them. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily bearish on banks, but I would say I’m neutral on banks.
WSN: What about the property sector, Tony? I mean, we’ve heard, of course, a few months ago that whatever you put up in the market, it gets snapped up within the day. But is that trend continuing? Are you a bull or bear for property?
TN: You know what? It depends on where you are in the US. Where I am in Texas, things are really strong. But a lot of other places in the US. Things have slowed down dramatically, and mortgage applications nationally have come to a standstill as interest rates have risen. So I think a couple of weeks ago we may have talked about how a house that was purchased in January, the median price house purchased in January, if it were purchased today, it would cost $800 a month extra. And so the interest rates just had a dramatic impact on house prices. So mortgages have really slowed down.
SM: And can we turn to oil, Tony, because oil prices have dropped below $100 per barrel for West Texas. Does this level accurately reflect supply and demand for crude? And does this then invalidate the bullish forecast of $150 and above that analysts were predicting not too long ago?
TN: Yeah, I think we’re in a really strange place for oil right now. And if you look at the later months of crude oil futures that are being traded, they’re actually trading higher than the current month. So there’s something happening in the current month, like maybe somebody’s books blown up or something. But there’s something happening in the July future that rolls off in a couple of weeks. And I expect that we’ll see higher crude prices going into August and the rest of Q three, early Q four. So it’s going to be pretty choppy for the next few months in energy and commodities generally.
WSN: One last question for me, and it’s more long term economic question, and that’s about Biden’s infrastructure bill that was passed in November last year, but it’s gone really silent. Do you know what’s happening on that front?
TN: Nobody does. There’s been very little news about it. What’s happened partly is inflation has taken a bite out of it and it’s really caused a lot of projects to stall. So the problem with federal appropriations is the longer the money sits, the less money that gets spent, which is good for taxpayers. Right, but I think inflation is really forcing local and state governments to pause on their investment plans because they do have budget, but they don’t have enough budget to get the projects done that they want. So can they appropriate can the US. Congress appropriate more for the next fiscal year? It’s possible. It depends on who’s in power. So if the Republicans come into power in November, then they may not raise the appropriations level and we’ll be stuck with the level that we have, which it’s $500 billion, a massive amount of money. I don’t want anybody to mislead anybody, but the Democrats will likely want to raise that level if they remain in power after the November election. But to date, not a lot has happened. There has not been a lot of movements. We haven’t seen a lot of major announcements of new projects, these sorts of things.
And if it was successful, we would see a lot of major announcements of new projects.
WSN: All right, thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his views on global markets, in particular the US. And whether the Fed will continue to raise rates until 2023. He says maybe, and then maybe they might even cut rates like they did in $2,000.
SM: That’s right. I guess one thing to note is the question is whether we’re going to see a recession sooner rather than later. Yeah, and Tony did point out the fact that labor unemployment is still at really low levels. Unemployment is decreasing so that’s really at odds with a recession and that’s what everyone is looking to see. I think if we start to see unemployment go up, that heralds that a recession is either here or coming.
WSN: I suppose we are living in really weird economic times. None of the normal correlations that we see are making any sense. I think that’s a lot to do with the fact that during COVID-19, governments basically just took the let’s do whatever it takes attitude. There was so much money pumping into the system by every major central bank and the recession was extremely V shaped, sharp recovery. But then that also caused supply chain disruptions and we had the war in Ukraine. It was like the perfect storm of Black Swan events which has resulted in this current situation that we are in now. Very quickly, we’re looking at the Fed minutes that just came out now. Indications are that they are signaling another rate increase of between 50 to 75 basis points lightly in the July meeting. And this is the interesting part, they are willing to accept the price of a slower economy in order to tame inflation.
SM: And this is sort of a change from their soft landing rhetoric, right? So earlier they were trying to say oh, it’s not inevitable that there will be a recession, we can still avoid it, we want to get that sweet spot. But I think now they’re trying to navigate those expectations to go like hey, I think we need to kind of expect pain. There is going to be pain, but it’s better to have this short pay now rather than long term pain later. So I think the Fed is really trying it’s got itself in a pickle essentially in terms of trying to prime expectations of the public.
WSN: I think that’s on the back of the fact that they spend the whole of 2021 telling everyone that inflation is transitory, hey, no problem. And it didn’t turn out to be transitory, so there’s a need to rebuild back that credibility. But up next we’ll be speaking to Carmelo for little on malicious overnight policy rate. Stay tuned for that.
The Fed just announced the 50 basis point hike this week. Albert and Sam explain what this means for markets in the near term. Also, how badly does JPow need media training (he said “a normal economic person probably doesn’t have that much extra to spend”)?
We also discussed what’s happening with TLT? And then, what will the Fed do next? Why is everyone talking about a 75bp move?
Tracy explains what’s happening in natural gas and the crude oil markets. Why does energy seem range-bound?
What the F just happened? (F for Fed)
What the F is next? (F for Fed)
Why does energy seem range-bound?
This is the 17th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration with Complete Intelligence and Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
TN: Hi. Welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Tracy Shuchart, Sam Rines and Albert Marco. We’re always joined by those guys. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe. Really appreciate it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It’s been a very interesting week, guys. We have a few key themes. First of all, what the F just happened F is for Fed. Then we’re looking at what the F is next. So that F also is for Fed. And then we really want to look at some energy stuff. Why does energy seem to be range bound? And I think that’ll be a really interesting discussion.
So Sam and Albert, kind of talk us through what the F just happened? We said this would be the most dovish 50 basis point move in the history of the Fed and it was. And here we are at the end of the week and things don’t look so good. So what happened?
AM: Well, was it a Dovish Fed? Not really. I mean it was pretty hawkish but it was already priced in. Everyone knows it was going to be 50 basis points and everyone knows they were going to talk about all these hawkish words. But then Powell comes out and throws in a little sprinkle of dovishness in there and then the market took off with it. I think it rallied at 3%? Crazy.
However, from what my guys told me, a lot of that was because traders were loading up on spy calls and ES futures and just gamma squeezed it. It was really easy. The market is kind of liquid right now. That actually agitated the Fed because they didn’t want this thing to rally and they came back and just torched everybody the next day. It was like 4% down? Just stunning. Absolutely stunning price action that we’re seeing right now.
It’s just not tradable. I mean you’re in this market and you’re swinging 100 points up and down each way every couple of hours. It’s just not tradable right now.
TS: Albert made a very good point. The thing is these swings that we’re seeing in energy and also in equities, these swings are untradable. Right. So that is very cognizant point that you have brought up.
SR: I mean the interesting thing to me with the whole thing was how quickly you went up, how quickly you went down to follow it up. Not just in ES and S&P, but the dollar got trounced following the Fed and finished flat basically to pre-Fed to finish up the week. You had the two-year absolutely plummet and make a little bit of a comeback. But it generally actually stayed lower following the Fed minutes. But these were huge moves across the board.
It didn’t matter what asset class you were trying to hide in, besides maybe energy. It didn’t matter where you were hiding it. You were just getting whipped. And there was very little tradability across the board in that period.
So it was pretty interesting also to hear several Fed speakers today. I think there were five or six of them come out and were generally hawkish across the board. I mean, you had one non-voter, Barkin, talking about putting 75 back on the table. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Powell just absolutely said no to 75. And then you have beneficials coming back with maybe I haven’t taken 75 off the table. I mean, not that Barkin matters, but he tried to put it back on the table. Their communications are a mess.
TN: The interesting part for me about Wednesday was Yellen came out first saying, “no, it’s all good. Nothing to see here. There’s going to be no recession. Fed is going to be able to manage it.” Everything else. To me, that was the real tell, right, that he was going to be fairly gentle. Of course, it was a 50 basis point hike, but it was a fairly gentle 50 basis point hike. And he was going to stave off the 75 basis point talk.
But then today we see these guys come out being fairly hawkish. So we’ll get into kind of what’s next in a couple of minutes. But I want to ask about a couple of things. Powell, he talks, man. He is not the Greenspan kind of mysterious guy. And his talking seems to get him in trouble.
So one of the things that he said on Wednesday that really caught me, which he said, I’m looking at my notes, he said “a normal economic person probably doesn’t have that much to spend” when he was talking about inflation, that much extra to spend. Sorry, but he actually let the words “normal economic person” pass his lips. And words like that, language like that makes American people feel like it’s the government, this gilded government employee who inflation doesn’t touch versus the American people. What’s wrong with those guys? Why are they using that language?
AM: In my opinion, they want to crush excess money and they’re doing just that. These wild swings in a week that’s meant to just erase money from the system. And Powell is an attorney. He’s not really an economic guy.
TN: An attorney should know words.
AM: Yeah, well, he doesn’t. He’s flustered. He’s flustered. There’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes that he’s flustered. And really, I don’t really even think that Jerome Powell is even in control of things. I think more align on to Auntie Yellen. I think she’s the mastermind behind this dollar rise. I know she is, in fact. I had discussions about it.
She’s the mastermind of pushing this thing past 110. She’s the mastermind of getting capital to force it back into the US equities. She’s the one doing all this.
AM: Powell might be fighting it, but I’ve talked about this many times. You have this disjointed policy between what the Fed wants to do and Powell and what Yellen is doing. So this is what I see is going on.
SR: And to your point. I think their communications generally are a nightmare. They’re not doing a phenomenal job of telling people anything. Right.
It was such a disastrous week. You had quarrels out early in the week talking about how because Biden hadn’t nominated Powell to come back to the Fed. That was one of the reasons why they were behind the curve. Sorry, Randy, but that’s a ridiculous statement. Everybody knew, the betting odds never really broke through 70 that Powell was going to be renominated. Let’s be honest. He was always going to be renominated.
AM: You bring up an interesting point, Sam, and kind of a signal is will Powell actually get confirmed and is Randy and those guys, because Randy deserve this, I believe.
AM: So are they trying to defend or trying to upstage Biden and possibly not getting Powell confirmed?
SR: Well, it’s interesting because you would think that Corals would want Powell confirmed because Powell he’s fairly conservative in mindset relative to some of the other people. That could be dominated.
TS: Middle ground, too, I would say.
SR: Yeah, a decent middle ground. And most likely after that, it’s going to be Brainard. Right. I don’t think Corals wants to mastermind getting Brainard in there.
AM: No, I’m saying that Corals are trying to get ahead of the game here, thinking that Powell might be ousted.
SR: Oh, yeah, maybe. I also think that there’s an awful lot of people once they get out of the Fed and they see that they’re part of the decision making that got us to the current inflationary environment and current problems. There’s a little bit of face save when it comes to, hey, look, we wouldn’t actually be here if they had done their job. It wasn’t really us. It was this lack of nomination.
So generally, then you get into the FOMC meeting, the after presser, call it the kerfuffles that he makes constantly during it. Then you get to the Fed speakers after it. The worst part about the FOMC meeting is not the FOMC meeting. It’s just the blackout ends. Let’s be honest. Then we have to listen to them for another three weeks before the blackout comes.
TN: Normal economic people do stuff.
SR: Yeah. Like buy stuff and actually contribute to the economy instead of just blustering about 75 basis points.
TN: Right? Exactly. Okay. Before you get 75 basis points, Sam, can you walk us through what’s happening in the TLT market because it’s falling off a cliff a month ago. Is it like 140. Now, it’s like 118. So what’s happening there? Because I’m hearing a lot of chatter about that.
SR: Yeah. I mean, it’s the tracker for the 20-plus year US Treasury note. When yields rise, the thing is going to get trounced. Right? I mean, that’s pretty easy.
The easiest way to underperform the S&P this year has been to buy TLT. That’s just been that bad. I think it’s down 21% or 22% as of the close today. That’s a pretty devastating bond move right, for portfolios when bonds were supposed to be the safe asset. But generally it’s liquid. Right? You can buy and sell TLT all day long and you can short it. You can do some stuff.
So it’s a fairly easy way for particularly investment advisors and other smaller players that are running separately managed accounts to get in and out of fixed income exposure quickly and be able to move their portfolio duration pretty dramatically, pretty quickly. So it’s a trading tool.
And so when you need liquidity and you’re not going to sell individual bonds, that’s going to be generally fairly liquid and you get some pretty big spreads there. You’re not going to sell those bonds, you’re going to sell TLT instead.
TN: So are TLT markets telling us that they expect tightening to accelerate? Is that what’s being communicated to us?
SR: No, I would actually take the other side of that. And I think it kind of goes to Albert’s point last week is long end yields don’t rise if the markets are expecting a tighter, faster Fed. Right. That would be a recipe for disaster.
Recession being pulled in towards us, not pushed out. So the Fed is expected to do 50 basis point hikes instead of potentially 75. QT was a little bit, QT was basically what was thought even a little slower to phase in. Yields could be telling us a number of things, but one of them is not that the Fed is tightening faster.
AM: This is the problem. This is the problem. Right. This is something that nobody’s really talking about is the Fed is trying to create this narrative with long bond and whatnot that? We’re going to tighten. We’re going to tighten, we’re going to tighten. However, the market is still red hot. I mean, even the consumer credit today was outrageous. Did you see that?
SR: That was insane.
AM: I was talking to my client today and we’re looking at shorting retail and whatnot? And I said we cannot show retail. And he was why? I just walked into Gucci and it was a velvet rope with a line of 100 people trying to get in there. And none of them make more than $50,000 a year. Just buying stuff left and right. It’s like, well, the Fed is trying to say we’re tightening, but the market is red hot right now.
SR: I have no push back to that whatsoever. The consumer numbers today were stupid. 50 plus billion. That was a silly number. That was a silly, silly number.
TN: That’s a great segue to what the F is next. Right. What’s the Fed going to do next? Because if consumer credit is still expanding it’s really fast, how do they slow it down? Is 75 basis points are realistic? I know he said no. But then why do we keep hearing about it? Then why are all these geniuses saying 75?
SR: I haven’t seen a single genius.
TS: That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to come to fruition.
SR: Yeah, I mean it’s, James Bullard basically planting that seed. Yeah, one fed and then Barkin picked up on it and said I wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, it’s two people that if you still listen to Bullard and Barkin, I’m sorry, but you’re going to lose money.
TN: Bullard was great like ten years ago, right?
AM: Yeah, but they’re trying to sway less than intelligent traders to believe that it’s coming. Maybe sway some money that way.
TN: The only reason I’m saying it is because I want everyone watching to know that.
AM: They are lying to you. Okay? They are lying.
TN: So the expectation is that what the F is next is kind of staying disciplined. 50 basis points in the next meeting and maybe QT accelerates slightly. Is that kind of what we expect to happen next?
SR: Yeah, I would say 50 bps, but I don’t think you even have to accelerate QT. It’s very difficult to accelerate.
TS: This mark is going to scare them. And what is going to happen is they’re going to be another 50 for sure. But they’re going to be even more dovish than they were last time.
AM: I actually want to take a train. I think they’re going to do 50 bips for sure, without question. But I think they’re going to have to accelerate tightening just to scare the market a little bit, for God’s sake, because especially if they want to…
TS: Acceleration timeline, I mean, you could barely take a magnifying glass to it. Right. So you’re talking about almost $9 trillion going down to maybe 8.5. I mean, can you really see that?
AM: No, but they’re also going to be using the dollar. They might even take a dollar to 115 or 120. It breaks everything.
TS: Any QT that they have, it has the exact opposite effect. So they’re not stupid. They know that monetary policy that they’re doing right now may break the market, but they’re going to ensure that…
AM: Yeah, but they want to do QE later in the year.
TS: They want to be able to do it.
TN: I saw an interesting discussion on social media this week about what’s the worst central bank to be a part of right now. And I think it was easily the Hong Kong Monetary authority. Right.
With everything terrible happening in China, but they have to match what the US is doing. It’s just a very difficult place to be in. So I think even as we talk about what is the Fed going to do next, there are some central banks out there that are just in a terrible place. And raising the dollar at 110, 115, 120 would absolutely break some of these central banks and put in a very terrible position.
AM: Yeah, but Tony, the Chinese, they’re very pragmatic with that respect. They’re waiting to see what the Fed does and they’ll react. They are for sure going to stimulate their economy.
TS: They’ve already announced so much stimulus. It’s ridiculous. The market hasn’t particularly reacted at this point as far as the commodities sector is concerned. But literally they have so much if you look at what they have said, they have so much stimulus on the line as far as infrastructure. They do not want, they want, they’re determined to have their 5.5% GDP by the end of year ’22. Right.
TN: Yeah. Well, they’ll hit that no matter.
TS: What they are doing is they’ve already announced so much stimulus. Markets not looking at right now. Right. Or the North American market shows looking at it right now, I promise you.
AM: Yeah, but Tracy, also, you got to remember that the SEC started coming out with delisting threats all over the place. They added 80 more companies to the delisting threat. That’s actually toned down.
TS: I’m not saying I would invest in Chinese companies. What I’m saying is I would invest in commodities.
AM: I know. But when you say that the market hasn’t reacted, that’s a lot to do with it. These delisting things have really scared investors away from them.
TN: What China needs is dump truck and helicopter loads of cash on the boon like tomorrow. And I think to hit 5.5, they’re going to have to do that in every major town. They’re going to have to unleash dump truckloads of cash. The infrastructure they’ve announced is close to what they need to hit that. Sorry? And they have a share… t
TS: hey’re made up number. But in order to. Yes. Hit that, you’re completely correct.
TN: Yeah. They’ve got to do it and they’ll end up canceling unofficially. They’ll give dead jubilees, all that kind of stuff. Like they’ll do all of this unofficially. But it’s to let people reload so they can spend more money. They’ll do all of this stuff starting as soon as they rip the Band Aid off of the lockdown.
TS: That’s why we’re seeing a deval in the currency right now.
TN: Right, right. Which we talked about for months and months. And I’m so glad that it happened. Let’s move to energy, guys. And Tracy, we were talking about this a little bit earlier about energy being kind of range bound.
I’ve got Nat Gas and WTI on screen. We’ve seen Nat Gas really come down hard over the past couple of days. Can you tell us what’s going on there? Because it’s performed really well over the past month, except for that little period. So what’s going on with Nat Gas and what’s going on with WTI? Is it really range-bound?
TS: I mean, it is range bound. What we’re seeing is we’re saying although it’s a larger range, right, like we’re seeing $10-15 ranges in WTI. What we are seeing is that if you look at a daily or weekly chart, you’re seeing that range is coming down. Right.
TS: And that’s to be expected. One thing that the market did was that they increased margins. Thank you.
TS: They increased margins. That put a lot of retail traders out of the market. That said, if we look at the recent OI? OI has actually increased daily all this week. So it looks like and we can’t tell at this point whether it’s retail traders or institutional traders. But OI has increased this week in that sector across gasoline.
AM: Yes. Speaking of gasoline, I’m looking at diesel and gasoline crack. I think you’re looking at shortages coming in the summertime. Those things look to get explosive.
TS: You know, texted you two months ago and said, get long diesel.
TS: It lies in the EU. Right. And they are going to see shortages. This is going to affect their overall GDP. We’re going to see less transportation we’re going to see less manufacturing. We’re going to see because they can’t handle these prices. That said, if you’re an investor, you’re going to look at the refiners right now that are refining these because the crack spreads are increasing exponentially.
So if you want to invest in this sector, I think you would be looking at refiners right now that specifically are involved in distillates. Interesting.
TN: Great. Perfect. All right, great. So, guys, what are we looking at for the week ahead? What’s on your mind, Albert? Definitely not shorting retail.
AM: Definitely not shorting retail. I just can’t take that out for at least June. But honestly, the Roe versus weighed the political atmosphere right now and how that’s going to affect the congressional races, not so much the House, because the House is set for the GOP, but possibly the Senate. And why I bring that up is because now those economic bills going through Congress, they start getting affected. And investors started calling me to try to figure out what’s the makeup of Congress.
And I think that’s what I’m going to actually start paying attention to because the beginning of next year we’re going to need stimulus the way that this economy is going. So I’m taking a look at what the makeup of the committees are going to be, what possible stimulus packages will be materializing.
The auto sector, for God’s sake, it’s completely trashed. I think that’s on life support and definitely going to need some help. I’m actually looking for auto sector plays for the long term, 24 months out.
TN: Okay, Sam, what’s on your mind?
SR: I’ll be paying pretty close attention to where the dollar heads, particularly based on our earlier conversation on the Renminbi. And in the end, following the Fed this week and then listening to how other central banks begin to form a narrative around their next moves based on the Fed in particular, Latin America is going to be very interesting given some of the inflation pressures down there and the push and pull of someplace like Brazil, where commodities are both good and bad for an economy, or Argentina, good and bad for an economy, export a lot of food, but import a lot of energy, even though you have the black maritime, psychotic, that’s pretty poorly run.
Anyway, that to me is going to be one of the really interesting stories of the next couple of weeks, given the Fed. The Fed moving quickly, beginning to do some quantitative tightening.
Generally, that would be your number one method of affecting markets is through the dollar. So I just want to see what the dollar does and follow the dollar and not fight that tape.
TN: Yeah, very good. Tracy, what’s on your mind for next week?
TS: I’m going to be concentrating actually on the yuan at this strength. I want to see how much are they going to actually devalue their currency, because I think that’s the sign of how desperate they are to bolster the domestic economy. That’s where my main focus is right.
TN: Supposed Fed your eyes on China.
TS: But you have to realize what happens is that people don’t really talk about why does China devalue the currency? They devalue the currency so that exports become cheaper and more competitive. In turn, that makes imports more expensive. Why does that help the domestic economy? That means that people in China are not buying imports. They’d rather buy from domestic businesses which bolsters their economy.
So right now I think that’s one of the most important things to be looking at right now is to see how much are they going like, how desperate are they?
TN: That’s a great observation and something that I watch every day and I’ll tell you, they’re very desperate. I don’t mean to laugh at it. I feel really empathetic for the people in China but they’re very desperate. So I would watch for some moves that are I would say that tried to appear disciplined because they don’t want to look desperate. But in fact, they’re desperate to get their economy moving because of these lockdowns.
So I think the first sign of that would have to be starting to see a lifting of the lockdown like a legitimate lifting of the lockdowns and not moving into more towns like they did in Beijing over the past couple of weeks. But really legitimately taking these lockdowns off and free movement.
Looking at things like the port zone in Shanghai and how many people are allowed to work in those bonded warehouses, those sorts of things to get that port activity moving. As we look at those indicators, we’ll know how serious the Chinese government is about getting back to work. If they don’t do it, they’re not serious. And if they’re not serious, they’re going to have some real trouble.
I’m not a gloom and doom kind of China is going to have a coup or anything type of guy. But I do think that they’re going to have some real trouble. They want everyone to be happy and harmonious going into the national party meeting in November and there’s going to be some runway needed to get everybody happy. And by everybody being happy, I mean all of those CCP guys in Guangzhou and all the different provinces, they have to be happy coming into that Congress because if they’re not, then Xi Jinping has several problems. Serious problems.
Okay, guys? Hey, thanks very much. I really appreciate this. Have a great week ahead and have a great weekend. Thank you.
We’re dissecting Jerome Powell’s latest announcement — what does that mean to markets this coming week? Will we see Powell’s inner Volcker this year? What are we expecting to happen in the energy markets considering the geopolitical risks in Russia and Ukraine? Has the White House and Treasury told the Fed to fight inflation as its top priority?
This is the fourth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It helps us with visibility, helps you get reminded of our new episode. So please do that.
While you’re thinking about it, this week was all about the Fed. Of course, we expected Monday and Tuesday to be choppy. We told you that on our last Week Ahead, which they were. We talked about it last week. We talked about the said meeting last week. And as Wednesday got closer, it appeared that Powell would be more bearish. And that seems to be exactly what we got.
So today we’d love to focus on a few things. Nick, let’s start with you. What were your main takeaways from the Fed?
NG: Okay, I’ve got three takeaways, most of which came after the Fed. Okay. The statement was sort of bland, almost appalling in terms of, it felt like it was leaving the risk markets to determine the Fed’s policy. And then, boy, Powell come out hawkish. He refused to give any direct answers but never denied any of the points and the questions such as how many rates, how many it takes?
So what was interesting is today, we had the first Fed Speaker, Neil Kashkari, the Uberdam for the FOMC.
TN: That’s right.
NG: And he basically came out and said whatever it takes, we’ve got to get inflation. I mean, shocking. Now where Powell got confirmed in his hawkishness came today with the ECI data. The base figure was slightly less than expected. But lift the bedsheets up and you are seeing major wage pressures.
If you look at some of the increases in wages and salaries, four and a half percent for all civilian workers, 5% for private sector workers, up from 4.2 and 4.6% respectively. If you go deeper, hospitality, health care, you’re looking at 7% and 8% increases.
TN: Nurses in many cases are making as much as doctors now in a number of cases.
NG: Exactly. So that basically confirmed Powell’s words of a rapid pace of wage grip. Okay. And I think that was a very key piece of data, which in fact, a Bongi like me would have been waiting for. Right now.
TN: We don’t see them bonds today, did we?
NG: What’s that?
TN: We didn’t see the action in bonds today, did we?
NG: They were down initially and then after the day, they rallied a bit. But I think that was more to do with reversing a very successful week of your well positioned. And what’s interesting, though, this came after that hawkish press conference. So typically what you have is the yoke of mutually reinforces the relationship with the Fed’s monetary policy. So simplistically, when an economy is strong and in danger of overheating, you are going to see the yield curve steeper. Long end, higher rates relative to the short end.
Now that then reflects that the rates have to rise, that’s the historical perspective. What was interesting this time was the curve was bare flat, and it was headed towards an inversion, the consensus. That’s a really bad signal of an approaching recession.
What it’s basically suggesting at that point, historically, the bond market tends to suggest Fed’s tighten too much. We’re going to get a recession. It needs to stop. Reassess, perhaps even cut. So what’s startling about this whole move is you got yield curve flat, bear flattening, coming so soon before the Fed has even started raising rates.
NG: So if you have a Swift move to inversion, it’s going to be slightly, somewhat harder for the Fed to carry out its hiking program over time. That tells me that you’re going to have it front loaded. It also suggests to me, which is what you got from Powell’s press conference, it may not be 25 basis points each hike. It may be 350s. Right. Especially with this inflation.
He was all about inflation risks to the upside and a very strong labor market.
TN: 350 basis point hikes. I just want to make sure we make sure that we know what you said.
NG: Yes. Basically the Yoker is suggesting that. But some of his comments were this is a labor market that’s rocketing. This is inflation that still has risk. The upside. We saw a bit of that today. He also said supply chains are not going to get resolved this year. We’re going to have to wait till next year.
TN: Okay. Let’s stop there, because I want to ask you something, and this may be an overly simplistic way of asking the question and Albert and Tracy jump in here.
But it seems to me that kind of what he’s saying indirectly is, hey, there are supply side inflation, okay. And we as the Fed can’t control the supply side, we can only control the demand side to some extent. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to put a stopper on demand so that demand can come down to match up with the available supply. And that’s how we’re going to we don’t have the tools to put the kibosh on the supply side inflation. So we’re going to bring the demand down.
First of all, does that seem to be what he’s saying?
NG: I think that’s probably what he’s trying to say. I would add one other point. So we were all thinking that after the big rise in crude oil and energy prices last year, we would get some beneficial payback by the comparison, but we’re not oil still going up, so we’re not getting that.
And the most extreme version is, for example, Europe. These have all got to feed through from wholesale to retail.
NG: I think it was 95% of surveyed American CEOs. I can’t remember the sort of survey, but I can dig it out. Are expecting to raise prices.
AM: Yeah. The problem with them trying to limit demand, though, is it’s going to start affecting jobs. Labor market’s certainly going to weaken if demand starts to fall off. Because wage inflation is going nowhere. I’ll tell you that right now. Wage inflation is here to stay politically is absolutely just not going to ever come back down. So that’s going to be sticky for quite a while.
NG: But I think Powell was implying that where he basically said the labor market is super strong. So I don’t disagree with it will dampen it. The question is whether it turns around.
Remember, we’re getting all these people retiring and dropping out. Yes, that was your data, Albert.
TS: He kept reiterating the labor market is super strong. But the labor market really, if you look under the hood of it, it’s not really super strong. We all know that.
TN: That’s true.
NG: Yeah. Agreed. But it’s perceptions. Remember, these guys are basing their work off their forecasts. One of their forecasts have ever been right. Okay. Even worse in Europe. So the point I’m making is they have their parameters. They have the data that they look at and monitor and whether we agree with that data or not. And I mean, I would always disagree with the way the Fed measures, the BLS measures CPI, but it was impacted by Arthur Burns of the Fed in 1970s. Right.
So the point to be made is they have their data sets that they watch, and according to those data sets, they may be wrong. I don’t disagree.
TN: So just yes or no, because you’re implying some things that two weeks ago we talked about or last week we talked about, yes or no. Will we see J. Powell’s innver Volcker this year?
TN: We will?
NG: In the short term.
TN: Albert, what do you think? Yes or no? Will we see J. Powell’s inner Volcker?
NG: Mini Volcker.
AM: Mini Volcker, I agree with. One and done Volcker, a one week Volcker, yes, I agree with.
NG: If he does the one and done, the bond market will riot. If you look at the Fed meeting. But look at the statement. That statement said, basically risk assets will determine the level of Fed funds, right?
NG: Bond market’s sold off. Hold on. The bond market’s sold off, aggressively. Sold off all across the curve and particularly the long end. It didn’t start to flatten in a bare manner until that press conference.
TN: Sorry, guys, let me stop you both just for a second. Tracy, will J. Powell show his inner mini Volcker this year?
TS: I said this last week. I’m in the one and done camp, maybe two, but I’m cutting it out there. I know Bank of America came out today and said seven. They said the “seven” yes, today, which I think I don’t know what they’re smoking exactly. But I’ll go with max two on this one, even though I said one and done. I’ll stretch that out.
Maybe one more, but that’s where I stand on that one.
TN: Okay. So while we’re with you, Tracy, can you give us a quick view on what did markets get right and wrong this week from your perspective? What do you think is a little bit out of whack?
TS: Well, I mean, I think energy markets obviously remain elevated because of the Russia-Ukraine risk, right? Because Russia’s 10 million barrels per day, they produce a lot of gas. That’s here with us to say we have a northeastern so that kept a bid under at least the energy markets, right. I think last week we were talking about continued volatility all around in, say, the indices and obviously that trend is continued and probably likely will continue into next week.
Again, looking ahead to next week, I expect that probably we’ll still keep a bid under oil, but we did go kind of sideways this week. Even though we got new highs, I still think we’ll stay in that $82 to $87 range, probably for the next week or so, and then probably get a little bit. If nothing happens with Russian and Ukraine, we’ll get a little bit of pullback there. But still looking at the overall fundamentals of the market, they remain very strong. So I don’t think we’ll see any kind of material.
TN: Okay. This is on the commodity side. On the commodity side. Okay. What about the equity side?
TS: Well, it’s. Far as equities indices are concerned, I think that we’re again going to see continued volatility. What I think is very interesting. As long as the market is pricing in rate hikes, that’s going to put pressure on growth versus value. Right.
And so I think that trend will continue. I think we’re in for a rough note. Until that March meeting, until we actually hear an actual decision, we could be setting up for another volatile month in February.
TN: Okay. That’s fun. Right. Okay. So let’s take that and let’s swing over to geopolitics for a minute. And Albert, I want to ask you a couple of things about geopolitics. Tracy mentioned Kazakhstan, which we’ll get to in a minute. But has the White House told the Fed and treasury that inflation is a top priority? Is that what you’re hearing out of DC? Are they getting political pressure to make inflation their top priority?
AM: Oh, absolutely. Inflation is a nuclear bomb for politicians. I mean, gas prices rising, food prices rising. The job market is they can say it’s strong, but it’s not. I mean, realistically talking about 15%, 20% unemployment, so it’s not strong. So, yeah, inflation is absolutely priority number one for the next couple of months.
TN: Right. Okay. And then as we move into a little bit more on geopolitics, so we got a viewer question from at 77, Psycho Economics. He says, has Russia’s stabilization of Kazakhstan increased their influence over energy exports to Europe?
So give us a little bit of kind of overview of what you see happening in Kazakhstan. And then if you and Tracy can help us understand what’s happening with the energy exports to Europe, that would be really helpful.
AM: Yeah. Kazakhstan has been stuck between Russia and China for a couple of years now. But realistically, that’s Russia’s backyard. They control the area. Ever since the United States was booted out of Uzbekistan, they’ve lost a lot of sway in the region. So the energy sector from Kazakhstan all the way to Turkey and into the Mediterranean is pretty well dominated by the Russians right now.
TS: And I would agree with that. I would also like to mention just as an energy producer, I mean, Kazakhstan doesn’t produce all that much.
So if you’re looking at the commodity side, I would say Ukraine would have more of a dent because of how much they’re involved in the cereals markets. How much do they export in the cereals markets, how much they export in the uranium market. So that’s definitely more commodities heavy area that I would be concerned about then Kazakhstan, just from the energy standpoint.
AM: Yeah. And when you’re looking at Russia and talking about energy, it’s not necessarily you don’t single out just Russia’s energy production. They go out and they meddle everywhere they possibly can, whether it be Libya, Kazakhstan, Turkey, everywhere they can to sit there and depress those energy exports so they can pump out there. So that’s what I mean by Russian dominance in the sectors. Sure.
NG: Will Russia attack the Ukraine?
AM: You’re looking at maybe 1020 thousand conscripts that Russia probably hasn’t paid in a while to go and loot the countryside of Ukraine where it’s already Russian dominated speakers.
Biden comes out and talks about sacking Kiev as if it’s Hannibal on the gates of Rome. This is just absurdity. Russia has no military, nor does he want to go into Kiev and hold it. What’s the point of bombing the thing? Of course, they can go in and destroy Kia if they wanted to overnight, but that serves absolutely zero purpose. So are they going to invade? Yeah. I mean, I would give it a 60 70% chance, but would it be something some big kind of issue at. No, the market is looking at this issue as World War II. And it’s just nothing more than a little bit of a skirmish that’s kind of kinetic.
TN: But they’ve already invaded the economy. They’ve already invaded any investors who want to go into Ukraine, that nobody’s going to touch Ukraine for at least the next year. Right.
AM: Well, Tony, listen, I’ve been to that region, worked there for years in Georgia and Ukraine. I mean, Ukraine has corruption issues, of course, aside from the Russian problem. Right. They’ve got legal framework problems and corruption problems that it makes investing there quite difficult.
TN: Right. Okay, so you’re saying no, not going to happen. You’re saying maybe some looting in Eastern Ukraine.
AM: But they’ll reinvent the same areas that they did in 2014. They’ll make Biden and the west look inept, and that’s their goal. That’s it.
TN: Great. Okay. Sounds fun. As we look ahead, what milestones are you looking for? The week ahead, Nick, what are you expecting to see next week in markets?
NG: I’m fascinated to see the next bunch of Fed speakers come out. If we had the Uber Dove, very hawkish. That’s as hawkish as he’s ever spoken, Kashkari. I’m fascinated to see what the others are going to say.
What I can’t get a handle on is whether this is a genuine bear market inversion or flattening going on the bomb market. I still maintain the point that you’ve got to look at the market and watch what’s going on. Okay.
So I’ll be interested to see whether that continues. If it doesn’t continue, that tells me that it was actually a bit half partly people reversing bad positions on the Euro curve because really traditionally we should be having your curve deepening.
And then next week, well, we’ve got unemployment coming out on the Friday, so that’s going to be pretty fascinating. And then we’ll have the following week, all that inflation data starting to come through, and we won’t have the favorable comparisons from a year ago.
The banks have all jumped on like Tracy said, bank of America seven hikes. Goldman is four to five hikes. They are jumping on this. This did surprise the banking community, with maybe the exception of Goldman, who came out beforehand and said this is what I was thinking. So it’s a pull and push between what we’ve just been discussing. How many heights have we got a minivolk building up here in the Fed? If he’s got the support of the White House and treasury, then maybe we have. Right. I think he had to have that before he came out with that sort of speech.
So the question I mean, I looked at today’s equity market. To me that started off as a okay, let’s cover the shorts because we’ve had a good week and there’s no liquidity. So the market just carried on popping up be interesting to see what happens on Monday. And remember, we have holiday, new lunar year, holiday in the Far East. So the forest is shut, as it were, even less liquid.
TN: Right. So, Tracy, you’ve said for a long time that Yellen is a strong dollar Treasury Secretary. And so what Nick is saying about the Fed and the treasury and the White House being in sync, it seems to make sense if they’re tightening that that is certainly something that Yellen might want.
TS: Obviously, you’re going to see a strong dollar. The Feds raising rates, they’re taking liquidity out of the dollar market. Right. So in that environment, we are going to see a rising dollar. What we should be looking at, though, is emerging markets. Right that nobody’s really talking about. How does this affect emerging markets? Emerging market debt that’s denominated in USC as a dollar gets higher, that puts pressure on emerging markets, even though a lot of banks came out and said emerging markets should do better this year than DM markets, but in my opinion, not in an environment where we see a rising US dollar. So that’s something to look forward to.
TN: In the biggest emerging market. We saw the Euro really taken to the shorts this week. Right. So the Euro is really problematic and it’s probably the newest of the emerging markets, in my view. So they’ve got real problems. But yeah, I think watching emerging market currencies is something that we really need to do over the next probably month to see how dramatic will the shift that we saw this week, will that remain? Will that get even more dire? I think it will. Yeah.
And Albert, what are you watching for the next week?
AM: I have to reiterate what Tracy just said. Literally, it’s the US dollar in the first half of the week and then this bonds the second half of the week.
I think if the US dollar gets over 98, it’s a real problem for emerging markets.
AM: Especially the Europeans. You’re talking about the Euro. But the Europeans like the Euro suppressed right here because it’s boosting the manufacturing sector. So it’s like it’s a give and take with them. But yes, the dollar gets over 98. Start looking at problems.
TN: Well, and my big question is when will the CNT break? When will they finally say uncle and I’ve been saying for a while it’ll happen after lunar new year. They just can’t keep this up. And with an appreciated dollar, it becomes even harder for them to keep that CNY at six point 35 or whatever it is right now.
NG: Did we see a few little twitches of weakness today and yesterday?
TN: We did, yes.
AM: Just remember, Tony, October is a big meeting for the party in China and they are going to stimulate that economy sometime this year. It’s just a matter of when it starts and when you’re talking about the currency. Yeah. That’s going to be a problem that we have to tackle pretty quickly.
TN: Well, it’s monetary policy. Q one, Q two and it’s a lot of spending in Q two. Q three, right?
TN: They’re going to play with the currency in Q one. Q two and play with the triple R and all this other stuff in Q one, Q two. And then spending is going to rip starting in June.
AM: Oh, yeah. Full disclosure. I’m building big position in China names as we go here.
TS: And commodities will benefit from that as well. They start spending right. And you’re going to see commodities rip as well, which also hurts the inflation picture.
NG: I was going to say that will be a negative for the bond market.
TN: Okay, guys. On that note, thank you very much. It’s been great and have a great weekend. Thank you.
This is the second episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week. Among the topics: industrial metals, energy markets, natural gas, China’s flood of liquidity and property market, CNY, and bond market.
TN: Hi, everyone, and thanks for joining us for The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. We’re with Tracy Shuchart, Nick Glinsman, and Albert Marko. To talk about the markets over this past week and what we’ve expect to see next week. Before we get started, please subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the upcoming episodes.
So, guys, this week we saw kind of a whipsaw in equity and commodity markets with a slow start, but a lot of action mid week. And commodities seem to kind of extend gains until the end of the week. We saw bonds really wait until Friday to start taking off, but they took off quite a bit today. And part of that may have been on the back of the retail sales print that we saw. That was pretty disappointing. So, Tracy, do you want to kick us off a little bit with talking about commodity markets and energy?
TS: Sure. I mean, obviously, we’ve seen a big push in the oil market. Right, in WTI and Brent this week. We’re definitely a bit overbought. But that said, what I think is happening here is we’re seeing a shift from sort of growth to value. I think the markets are pricing in the fact that OMA crime is over. Right. And the Fed may raise rates. That’s putting pressure on growth and giving kind of a boost to the value market. And we’re kind of seeing a chase here a little bit in the oil markets.
As far as if we look at the natural gas markets, it’s been very volatile this week, not only in the US, but global markets. I think that will continue. And we saw a big push up on Wednesday, and then we saw a big pullback, but that was due to weather. But now we’re looking at this weekend, we’re having another cold front. And part of that reason was also because we discovered that Germany had less natural gas in storage than initially thought. So that market, I definitely think it’s going to continue to be very volatile. So try lightly in that market there’s.
TN: You mentioned the Germany supply side of the market, but what does supplies look like, say in the US and other parts of Europe? Are supplies normal? Are they low? What is that dynamic?
TS: Yeah, we’re pretty much normal in the US, and we’re set to in this year. We’re set to pretty much overtake the market as far as the export market is concerned. That would mean taking over Australia and Qatar because of the amount that we’re building out in the delivery system in Texas. But the supplies here are okay. The problem is within the United States is that the distribution is uneven.
So you’re talking about the Northeast, where you’re seeing local natural gas prices a lot higher there. Then you’re seeing, say, in Henry Hub, which is the natural gas product that trade that you’re trading.
TN: So I saw some just to get a little bit specific on this. I saw some news today about some potential brownouts in, say, New York or something because of this winter storm. How prevalent will that be? Maybe not just say, this weekend going next week, but for the rest of the winter. Are the supply problems that extreme?
TS: Yeah, I think you’re going to have a lot of problems in the Northeast. And I’ve been alluding to this over the last few months saying that they have decided not to go ahead with pipelines. They’ve shut pipelines. They kind of cut off their supply because they don’t really want to pursue that Avenue anymore.
However, it’s turning out to be a particularly cold winter, and that’s a lot of pressure on that market. And that’s why we’re seeing $11 natural gas prices up in that area as opposed to $4 in Henry Hub.
TN: Right. Meantime, Albert’s warm down in Florida, right.
AM: Yeah. Well, I wanted to ask Tracy what happens if we have an extended winter where the winter temperatures go into late March or early April.
TS: Then that’s extremely bullish. That’ll be extremely bullish for domestic supplies because domestic supplies will be in higher demand than they are normally seasonally, especially at a time where we’re a giant exporter right now.
We just came to save the day in Europe with 52 now cargo. So we’re exporting a lot if we have an expanded winter here. Supplies are unevenly distributed. We’re going to see I think we’ll see higher prices in out months that we normally see a pullback in those markets.
TN: Great. Texas, thanks you for those cargo, by the way. We really appreciate it. Okay. What about the broader commodity complex? What are we seeing on, say, industrial metals and precious metals?
TS: So obviously, those have been very bullish are going to continue to be bullish because they’re in deficit. As far as if we’re talking about battery metals and such, I think we’ll continue to see that we’re seeing a little bit in the platinum markets. We’re seeing some demand. I think there’s going to be bigger demand this year.
TN: So we’ll show some platinum on screen here so our viewers can see kind of where the platinum price is and where it’s expected to go.
TS: Yeah. So platinum demands expected to grow because of the automobile markets and because of Palladium is so high they can substitute platinum for that. But that may be capped for the rest of the year, and then we may continue to see higher prices going into 2023.
TN: Okay. So when you say that’s growing because of automotive, is this growth in ice ice vehicles. Okay. And is that happening because and I don’t mean these leading questions, but is that happening because the chip shortage is alleviating and we’re having more manufacturing in ice vehicles?
TS: I mean, that’s part of it. But platinum is used for catalytic inverters Palladium. And because of the fact that there’s platinum happens to be a lot less expensive. Right now. And also there’s more of it right now. So we’re seeing kind of demand pulled to the platinum industry. And I’ve kind of been worrying about this for the last couple of years that this was going to happen.
And now we’re kind of seen that comes to fruition because it takes a couple of years to retool and everything to sort of switch that metal. So I think demand looks good right now for that. We may see it capped a little bit. That may go up again. But if we look at this chart, technically speaking, I would say anywhere between 1005 a 1010. If we kind of Zoom above that, then that market could go a lot higher.
TN: Right. So short term opportunities in platinum, medium term, not so much, but longer term back in.
TN: Okay, great. Now when you talk about industrial metals like copper and you say a lot is needed for batteries, these sorts of things, that’s a more medium, longer term term opportunity. Is that right?
TS: Absolutely. When you’re talking about things, I mean, we’re already seeing the nickel market, cobalt market, lithium market, aluminum markets all hitting new highs. Copper’s kind of waffling about. But that’s kind of more a marathon trade rather than a sprint trade, in my opinion. So I think we’re going to see more and more demand for that further out in the market. So it’s kind of a longer term investment.
TN: Okay, great. And then what about industrial metals demand in China? As we switch to talk about a China topic, are we seeing industrial metals demand rise in China, or is it still kind of stumbling along and it’s recovery.
TS: That is still kind of stumbling along. And so what I have said before try to emphasize is that I think a lot of these battery metals in particular demand is going to go going to be outside of China.
China won’t be the main driver of this demand anymore as the west policies want to change to EVs and greener technology. So I think you’re going to start seeing very much increased demand for the west. So China demand might not be as significant anymore in that particular area.
TN: Okay. So that’s interesting. You mentioned China demand, Dink and Albert, I’m interested in your view on that. We had the Fed come out last week and talk about tightening and reinforced some of that this week. What dynamic is necessary in China, if anything, for the Fed to start tightening?
AM: Well, I think first of all, Tony, China is going to have to stimulate. They’re starting to prioritize growth for the first time in a long time. They see the US in a bit in a little bit of trouble here with the Fed making policy errors. I don’t want to say heirs. We’re more about like throwing together against the wall and see what works. Right.
So China is trying to be the seesaw for the world’s finance sector. Money comes into the United States it goes out. Where is it going to go? It’s either Europe or China. Europe right now is a complete mess. So obviously you see that money going into China you will keep on leaning on businesses and look to control more than you should but they’re breaking up a lot of the old power structures and that’s actually bullish long term for China. We can debate many of these episodes that we’re doing now, Tony, about whether it’s a good or bad thing for the China power structure. But that’s for another day.
TN: Right. What kind of stimulus if we look at things like loan demand so we’ll put up that chart on loan demand. Can you talk us through can you talk us through the chart of what it means and what the PPO will likely do as a result of low demand or consumer credit? Sorry.
NG: Yeah, the credit impulse so that’s private sector lending as a percentage of GDP and that chart shows it may have based and that looks like what we’ve been hearing is that the PBOC has been encouraging the private sector to start extending credit into the system, particularly to find off the real estate market which is not a surprise.
My personal view and some of the people that I talked to on China is that’s just filling a hole. This is plugging holes or putting plasters on various holes. So what will be interesting is to see how that progresses further down the line along this year. I don’t think nothing’s going to happen before February 1, lunar new year and then you’re running into that plenum. Do they encourage that you’ve got the Olympics and then you’ve got the plenum? Do they encourage some sort of boost?
I don’t think there’s going to be much fiscal. I think there’s a reason for that. I think there’s a connection with the real estate sector. Real estate sector. As a source of great funding for the local governments.
TN: They spend fiscal on bailing out real estate already. Why would…
NG: You have to provide fiscal to the local governments just for the services?
TN: Right. So the central party meetings are in November, so there’s plenty of time between Lunar New Year and November to really tick off some monetary stimulus and get some feel good factor in, say, Q three or something. Is that what you’re thinking?
NG: There is a desire, as Albert rightly said, they are talking about the economy now, but it just feels like it’s one plug the bad, the big holes that have been appearing and they just keep appearing and now we’ve got Shamal. It just seems like it’s step by step plug every hole and then give a little bit of access to try and get the private credit rolling again.
AM: Tony, everybody is looking for a flood. When is the flood of liquidity going to come into China? Right. But that’s not going to happen until May or June until they see what the US Fed is going to do because nobody right now knows what the Fed is going to do.
Inflation is obviously a problem within China, specifically oil and other commodities, as Tracy was talking about. Their eyes are completely on the Fed. China will have to pop services sector as a real economy. It’s kind of a shambles there due to commodity prices and inflation.
The willingness is there to lend. There’s no question about that. But who wants property right now in China? They can force feed the economy via credit. But that’s inflationary also. So there’s another do move here within China. How do they boost their economy but still keep inflation down? Same thing the United States is going through. Okay.
TN: So let me give you a really simple trick here.
NG: Let’s not forget you’re seeing some majors. Shanghai now has Omikaron. Remember, China, supposedly, according to the World Health Organization, didn’t suffer the first route, but you got Dahlin is closed, Nimboa’s got problems now Shanghai, Shenzhen, and they’re worried it’s going to head up towards Beijing.
All these international flights to Hong Kong completely canceled. So that’s another problem if you extrapolate and equate it to what’s happened in the west whenever these outbreaks have occurred.
TN: Yeah, but I think the solution. Yeah, that’s a problem. I think everybody’s facing that and I think China is just very, very sensitive about that. We can come up with whatever kind of conspiracy theories we want about China, but I just really think that they’re very embarrassed by COVID and they’re trying to cover things up, not cover up, but they’re trying to offset the negative preconceptions globally by taking dramatic action at home. That’s my view.
TS: And they have Chinese New Year and the Olympics coming up, right?
TN: Yeah. And they’re being very careful about that now. My view for quite some time has been that they would keep the CNY strong until after Lunar New Year and after Lunar New Year, they could get some easy economic gains by weakening CNY just a bit. Is that fair?
AM: I think it’s fair. They don’t want the bottom to fall out of the economy. And the extent of their damage the extent of damage to the economy was pretty significant. So they’re going to have to pull off a few tricks. Like you said.
TN: It’s percentage wise, it’s a lot. But in reality, at 65667 CNY historically, it’s nothing compared to where that currency has been historically. And I think it’s pretty easy to devalue to that level. And I think they would get some real economic gain from that.
AM: Yeah. But again, it matters what the Feds are going to do with rate hikes. That’s the wild card.
NG: The devaluation not just look at the dollar, look at the CFA, because I think it pays them to value against the Euro more than the dollar.
TN: Yeah. Okay. We can have a long talk about the CFO’s basket at some point.
NG: My point is you got to look at the Euro CNY as well as the US, because I think that’s where they’ll go.
TN: Yeah. Okay. So does this present an opportunity for Chinese equities in the near term, or is it pushed off until Q two?
AM: I mean, from my perspective, I’ve been on Twitter saying that I’ve gotten into Chinese equities. They are de facto put on the US market, in my opinion. They don’t have the strength of the actual but does. But money has got to flow somewhere, and if it’s not going to the United States. It’s going to go to China.
TN: Okay. All right. Let’s move on to bonds. Okay. Nick, can you cover bonds and tell us are we on track? Are things happening as you expected? Do markets do bonds like what the Fed has been saying? What’s happening there?
NG: Well, the initial reaction after the testimony from Powell was you had a steadying and a slight rally in bond prices, slightly slower yields. But I thought today was fascinating because today we’ve across the York Cove. We’ve made new highs for the move, so we’re at the highest yield for the last year.
What was interesting is we had that disappointing retail sales. Okay. That would typically suggest if this Fed is sensitive on the economy, perhaps they won’t do much. Well, the bond market didn’t like that. So now you have what is typically good news for the bond market, creating a sell off. And that tells me that the bond market is beginning, especially with the yield curve. Stevening, the bond market is beginning to express more anything that suggests that the Fed doesn’t do what they’re talking about. The market wants to see action. Not words.
TN: We’re getting punished for now.
NG: And what’s interesting is if you think a little bit further forward, if the Fed does hold back and isn’t as aggressive as some of the governors have been suggesting, three to four hikes I didn’t think Ms. Bond Mark is going to like that.
TN: Or Jamie Diamond saying eleven heights.
AM: Jamie diamond is nothing that comes out of his mouth should be taken at face value. Him knocking the 30 year bonds down today, he’s just setting himself up to buy. I mean, the guys he talks his book always has.
TN: Hey, before we move on, before we move on to talking about next week, we did get a question from Twitter from @garyhaubold “Does the FOMC raise rates at the March meeting? And how much does the S&P500 have to decline before they employ the Powell put and walk back their lofty tapering and tightening goals” in 20 seconds or less going, Albert? Oh, 20 seconds or less.
AM: Well, the market needs to get down to at least the 4400, if not the 43 hundreds. That’s got to be done in a violent manner. And it has to put pressure on Congress to do it. And they can’t raise rates unless they get at least $2 trillion in stimulus.
NG: And also don’t forget the Cr expires on February 18. So we could be in the midst of a fiscal cliff.
TN: February 18. Okay. We’ll all be sitting at the edge of our seat waiting for that. Okay. So week ahead, what do you guys think? Albert, what are you seeing next week?
AM: Opec pump for Tuesday and then Biden dump for Wednesday as they set up a build back better push in Congress, along with probably a hybrid stimulus bill to try to get to that $2 trillion Mark. Otherwise, they got no fiscal and this market is going to be in some serious trouble.
TN: Okay. Can they do it? Can they do some sort of BBB hybrid?
AM: Yeah, they can do it. They can get ten Republicans on board as long as there’s a small business, small and medium sized business stimulus program. Okay. They’ll get that.
TN: And if they do market react and you say that’s $2 trillion. You say that’s…
AM: They need a minimum of 2 trillion to be able to even think about raising rates in March.
TN: Okay. And Nick, how does it matter?
AM: This is dependent on how bad inflation actually gets, because if we get an 8% print of inflation next month. Then everything is on the table.
TN: So can you say that you cut out just a little bit if we get what, an 8% print?
AM: If we get an 8% print on CPI the next time around and anything is on the table.
NG: Okay. I think what was happening with the bond market basically is it’s beginning to look a little bit longer term. And I’ve had this conversation, the big traders, the big fund managers are sitting there thinking, okay, look at crude oil now, 85 on Brent. Energy price is crazy in Europe.
That’s going to feed through from the wholesale level all the way through to the consumer via manufacturing goods, via the housing market, via service industries. Starbucks has to charge some more because they’ve got a much bigger overhead.
TN: Netflix just raised their prices by a buck 50 or $2 a month or something.
TS: Filters down to everything. Energy runs the world, right? So that’s going to higher energy prices are going to factor into literally everything you do.
NG: And my personal view, I think that sort of works is in sync with Tracy. I think crude goes a lot higher. I think this year we could see north of 100, perhaps as high as 120. This all feeds through, right? So the point is the bond market there’s a lot of conversations on a longer term plane right now. And the bond market is an expression if it’s higher yields, yield curves deepening.
Anything that says that the fed is hesitant, I think you get sent off. I think that’s why we sold off. We should have been running on week retail sales.
TN: Okay, Nick. Sorry. If we do get a $2 trillion bill, what’s going to happen with bonds?
NG: They’ll be sold.
TN: They’ll be sold. Okay. So they’re going to punish the fed if we get fiscal?
NG: They’ll punish the fiscal fed to start acting and acting in short order. And I remain unconvinced. We’ve only heard words. We got to see the action. They’re still doing. Qe. Right? It’s absurd.
TN: Yes. We’re going to keep the flow going over here, but we’re going to raise interest rates over here. I’m not sure I get it. There’s been that disconnect ever since they announced this in December.
Okay, guys. Thank you very much. We’ve hit our time. Have a great week ahead and we’ll see you next week. Thank you very much.
This is Part 2 of the inflation discussion with Steven van Metre and Peter Boockvar with your host Tracy Shuchart. In this second part, they talked about the possibility of the Fed tapering this year or early in 2022. How about the possible rate hike and what will possibly happen in other parts of the world like Bank of Japan and Bank of England if ever this happens? What is Powell doing exactly and why? Is there a possibility of a new Fed chair next year? And what do they think about stagflation?
This QuickHit episode was recorded on October 14, 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this Quick Hit Cage Match: Van Metre vs Boockvar on Inflation Part 2 episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
TS: Do you see the Fed tapering? And if they do, how much is this going to affect inflation? And also, I know the market is saying the Fed is going to raise rates in ’22, 2023. But is this a reality at all?
But before we jump into that, I just wanted to remind you to please subscribe to our YouTube channel.
PB: I think the Fed will at least start the taper and see how it goes. The thing that is different with this taper is that it’s coinciding with central banks around the world that are also beginning to remove accommodation. However slow, however glacial that process is, they’re all outside of the BOJ. They’re all doing it at once.
So if the Fed starts to taper in December, which they basically told you that they will, well, the Bank of England could be raising rates in December. We recently got a rate hike from Norway a month or two ago from South Korea. We’ve had Canada and Australia trimmed QE. Even the ECB has trimmed QE. So there’s a global shift to tightening. And I do believe tapering is tightening to define that. Just as we saw last year, the past 18 months obviously massive global easing.
Now I can’t even discuss the rate hike situation because I’m not even sure that they’re going to be able to get through the tapering. If you look back to 2010, every single notable market correction in equities and also fixed income markets outside of Covid and the one evaluation in August 2015 coincided with the end of QE, where it was a hard stop QE1 and QE2. And then obviously you had the taper 2013 and then obviously around rate hikes. Every single one coincided with a tightening of policy. And even again, it was gradual. It still affected markets. And we’re going to have it again to think that we’re going to somehow get through tapering without any accidents, I think, is delusional. And you believe that there’s a free lunch and it’s a matter of what kind of accident occurs by this.
Now QE itself essentially, at the end of the day, it’s an asset swap. And yeah, does some of that money sort of filter into markets? Yeah, maybe, I guess. But a lot of it’s psychological, but it also does help to, at least on the short end, suppress interest rates to where they would be otherwise. That said, when QE has been on, you’ve been paid to steepen the curve when QE is off, it pays to flatten it. And I think we’ve seen some recent flattening in the yield curve. And I think that that has been the right trade to do when QE is about to turn off.
But to Steve’s point about the bottom 50%. Well, if you get a short equity market correction, well, the top 50% is going to feel that as well. And yeah, can that filter into how they spend for sure? But that doesn’t necessarily resolve the supply issues.
That’s how this inflation story is going to recalibrate. The supply side is going to take a couple of years, and it’s going to be less demand. That is going to recalibrate this inflation story. And I think that is. No central bank wants to preside over a declining economy. But unfortunately, you’re going to have to have a trade off. You want lower inflation and a slower economy or an economy, as is but fast inflation, that’s going to hurt the people that can least afford it.
SVM: Yeah, this balance sheet taper thing is really interesting because I will be on record. I’ll hold on record still, and I don’t think the Fed’s going to do it. Although, as Peter mentioned, you just said that you think that the Fed is going to start and then quit. I’ve had to come to your side of the fence on that deal, mainly because when Powell spoke at Jackson Hole, it seemed like he was saying, we can’t make this mistake. We got to keep easing because we could let off the gas too soon.
And then for whatever reason, there’s this massive pivot between that and the last meeting. And he’s going to have a disadvantage going into the November F-O-M-C. And not have the non farm payroll report because he concludes me on Wednesday. Nonfarm payroll is out on Friday. Maybe he’s got some early access, who knows? But it seems like all of a sudden he’s in a panic to start tapering.
Now, could this be because we know the treasury is going to reduce their issuance of notes and bonds as we borrow less money, and he doesn’t want to be over purchasing? Sure. Could it be, as Peter mentioned, that the other central banks are tapering and starting to raise hike rates. And that’s interesting, because the way I look at it is that would be a catalyst if the Fed doesn’t start tapering, that the dollar goes higher.
Well, there’s part of the inflation story that almost nobody is looking at. What if the dollar gets up into 96, 97, maybe even close to 100? I mean, we’re talking about destroying the inflation story just from the dollar alone. And is this one of those things where we had coordinated easing? So now we need to have coordinated tapering to keep the dollar from going up too much? I’m not sure what his motivation is, but I will say this. There’s no way that they get to the end of that taper. There’s a 0% chance they’re going to raise rates. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter. They’ve effectively given the banks a pass by saying, look, there’s no reserve requirement because, well, you’ve got all these QE reserves you don’t need anymore.
The whole idea that we’re going to get this balance sheet unwound. I think the bond market is telling us the Fed’s making a mistake. I think, Peter, you and I agree that we don’t know how many months they’re going to go? The only question is, at what point is there a payroll report or some data that comes out that the Fed goes, “Oh, my God, we made a big mistake.”
PB: I’ll tell you why he’s doing this. Well, first of all, the whole purpose of monetary policy, as we know, is to push the demand side. And if you look at what are the two most interest rate sensitive parts of the economy — it’s housing and autos. So is Powell with a straight face going to say, I need to pedal to the metal, continue to stimulate the demand for housing and autos, when you can’t find an auto and the price of the home is worth 20% more than last year? They need to take their foot off that demand pedal. And he does not want to be Arthur Burns. He does not want to be Arthur Burns. And right now he is headed towards being Arthur Burns.
And the Fed is going to reach a pivot point, where if inflation still remains sticky and persistent, but growth is really decelerating to a greater extent than it already is. And we know that the Atlanta Fed third quarter GDP number has one handle on it. He’s going to have to reach a point, do I try to come inflation, but then risk further weakness in the economy and a fall in asset prices, which JPowell obviously inflated. Where is he going to just not really respond quick enough. And being in Washington, we can be sure he probably leans towards trying to save the economy, but then that creates its own problems.
The one thing in the dollar, the dollar is going to get tied into this, too, because if he remains too easy for too long, well, that may sacrifice the dollar. If he is more aggressive at dealing with inflation, well, then you can see a faster move in the dollar. So he’s just been an absolutely no win situation here. But there is going to be a pivot point where he’s going to reach that we’ll have to see, does he go down the Paul Volcker route, or is he going to go continue down the Arthur Burns route?
SVM: See, Peter, you just said it best. He didn’t know what his situation. And all we’re debating is, at what point does he back off and quit because he realizes it’s not working? I mean, we can look at the velocity of money and see the monetary policy is not functioning properly.
I mean, there was a lot of people that predicted at the end of the last quarter that as economy reopen, velocity would pop. But it didn’t because of the fact that monetary policy is not transmitting into the economy. And so now the real issue is if he starts tapering and it does do what it’s supposed to do, does he inadvertently tighten financial conditions? I mean, this is such a mess of what he’s got to deal with. And I don’t know if you’ll agree with me honest, but I don’t think they have a clue what they’re doing.
I think they’re just betting that this is all going to work out, that Powell, as himself, is going to get renominated. And somehow, in the end, either he’s going to look like a superhero and say, look, see, I did it and go out as one of the most celebrated Fed chairs ever. Or he’s going to find someone else to blame this on when it doesn’t work.
PB: The Fed has been winging it for decades, and this all goes back to Greenspan. In 1994, he raised rates aggressively. We know he blew up Mexico, he blew up Orange County, California, and he took that at heart. He learned a lesson. And so you go into the late 90s when everything is on fire. Stock market bubble. We know he was very slow to raise interest rates because he didn’t want to repeat 1994.
And then, of course, you have the blow up. And he’s obviously quick to raise interest rates. But remember the mid 2000s, every single. When he started raising interest rates, he did it every single meeting, and in every single statement, it said, we are doing this at a measure pace, because he didn’t want to repeat 1994.
And then what we have, obviously, the housing bubble and so on and so on. And then now you take Powell. We know Janet Yellen was afraid to raise interest rates. Took them seven years to get off zero. And then after finally raising, took them another twelve months to finally raise rates again. And then Powell started to pick up the pace. And then he blew himself up in the fourth quarter of 2018. And then that helps to explain why they’re going so slow now.
Then you throw in, of course, the whole social justice. The Feds become the Ministry of Social Justice now and how they view monetary policy. But yeah, to your point, they are winging it. And they’ve been winging it for decades.
SVM: And you bring up an interesting point about 2018. I’m really glad you did, because a lot of people forgot that we started easy to the point that it didn’t really make a lot of sense from the outside look in it. And so now this whole notion, and I don’t know what your reaction was, but I remember hearing the press conference when he’s like, okay, when Powell said, “We’re going to gradually unwind the balance sheet by mid 2022.” I’m like, since when is “gradual” six months. There’s no way this is going to work for you, buddy, but good luck if you’re going to pull it off.
PB: Yeah. And the Fed got lucky for a period of time. They got lucky in 2017 because the markets rallied and ignored Fed rate hikes and the beginning of the shrinking of their balance sheet. They were double tightening and they got bailed out because everyone focused on the corporate income tax cut. That obviously happened at the end of 2017. But that entire year, the Vix got down to eight. Every dip was bought because everyone was pricing in that tax cut. But once that tax cut was in place, the Fed then raised interest rates again in January 2018. And then we immediately shift back to the Fed is double tightening here between the balance sheet and rates. And that obviously coincided with the fourth quarter of 2018.
So we know in the Fed tapering, the Fed tightens until they hit a wall. The Fed tightens until something breaks, and you can be sure something will break in 2022. It’s just a matter of how deep they get. And also one last point here is that having low inflation gives central banks that Wayne’s World Concert pass that all access to do anything they want for how long as they want, when there’s no inflation. But once you get inflation into the numbers, into the economy, their flexibility is greatly diminished. And that will be an interesting sort of tug of war as they get further into the tapering and something eventually breaks.
TS: One last question, a couple of last question. How do you feel about Stagflation? I kind of amend the Stagflation camp. Do you think that’s a cop out or how do you feel about that?
SVM: I think it’s temporary. I mean, we’re supposed to be rising unemployment. I mean, I guess with people coming off the ranks, I don’t know. Maybe it’ll go back up. I don’t think that’s likely to happen. And then you tend to get that with higher prices. But when we start looking at the bond market. The bond market is starting to tell us that, hey, this Stagflation is going to be transitory. And then the risk that I see is that we get into outright deflation from here.
PB: To me, I just look at stagflation as just slower growth and higher inflation. And in an economist textbook, they think that slow growth means lower prices. Faster growth means higher prices. I’m just looking at the Bank of Japan. The Bank of Japan said we need to get inflation at 2%, and somehow that will then generate faster growth. To me, they’ve got that backwards. You need stable prices in order to develop and sustain healthier growth.
So right now. But the Stagflation it’s sort of intertwined in the sense that it’s the inflation and what is driving it. So it’s the inflation itself that is beginning to impact consumer spending. And it’s the factors that are creating the inflation, like the supply bottlenecks that in itself, are also creating slower growth.
TS: Excellent. One last question, just for a thought experiment. I mean, say Powell does leave the Fed next year and we have find a Dove, right. So what does the Fed look like at that point if we have a dove as a Fed chair?
PB: Well, 2022 becomes completely politicized. The Fed’s already politicized, but it becomes Uber politicized in 2022 because of the elections in November. And if a Lael Brainard becomes the next Fed chair in February, 2022, you can be sure that Steve and I are right, that there’s no chance in hell they’re going to finish this taper because the second something breaks, you know, they’re going to back off and they’re going to do their best to, or at least the Democrats headed by the Lael Branard will do their best to maintain control of Congress.
SVM: Yeah. I’ll put that as a low probability chance that Powell is out. If he does, I’m 100% agree.
PB: I agree. I think he stays as well.
SVM: Yeah, 100% agree. I think it’s a big risk for the Biden administration to pull him. He hasn’t really done anything wrong. But if he does, again, I think Peter is spot on. I mean, now it becomes even more political than the Fed is supposed to be. And he’s right, as soon as something goes wrong, I mean, we’re going to 120 billion a month. Yeah, right. It’ll be multiples of that in a second.
TS: All right. Well, I want to thank you both again for everything you shared with us today. Can you each tell us where we can find you on social media or otherwise?
PB: Well, I just want to say thank you to Tracy and Steve. Thank you for having me in this debate and discuss this with you. It was definitely a fun time. If you want to read my daily readings, you can subscribe to boockreport.com. boockreport.com And our wealth management business is at bleakley.com.
SVM: I want to thank you as well. Peter, you and I know this has been a long time coming for us to be on the same screen together. I had a blast. Totally looking forward to the next time. If you want to find more about me, you could go to my website. stevenvanmetre.com On Twitter @MetreSteven. On YouTube at @stevenvanmetrefinancial.
TS: Great. And for everyone watching, please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and we look forward to seeing you on the next QuickHit.
Tony Nash joins the BFM team, giving them his views on the equity markets, fixed income market, Fed Reserve, and oil prices. What’s his recommendation to investors now that Dow, S&P 500, and more equity markets have reached a new all-time highs? And what about the consensus on oil? With all the changes in the markets, are we seeing a new economic model?
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PS: Really good day in the U.S. The Dow and S&P 500 were up 0.3%. The Nasdaq was flat. Shanghai is up 0.7%. But the rest of Asian markets were down negative. Heng Seng was -0.4%. Nikkei down 1%, FTI down 1.5%. And back home, FBI culture was also down 0.01%.
WSN: So to help us make sense of where markets are going, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Now, Tony, Nasdaq, S&P 500, Dow, all hit all-time highs. Does this make you actually nervous? Markets looking a bit toppish?
TN: I don’t know about toppish today, but I guess what people have to be aware of is how big is the gain from here? So whether you’re toppish now or toppish in October, you really have to be careful about the risk calculation right now and what your expectations are as things turn over in the coming quarter or two.
PS: But time to switch for anything. What asset classes or markets look attractive now?
TN: You know what. I think you just got to be careful all around. The expectation, evaluations, levels of investment, profits and so on seem pretty stretched as we’re in the middle of wage pressures, inflation pressures and stressed consumers. So I think there seems to be more risk than opportunity out there. So I think we’re in a pretty stretched market and short of more support from global governments. It’s really hard to justify significantly higher valuations.
SM: And everyone is, of course, looking at the Fed, where last night’s FOMC minutes, what financial markets expected from the Fed or or do you think they could have given more clarity on their monetary policy?
TN: Well, they can always give more clarity. I mean, there’s always kind of reading the tea leaves with the Fed. But I think what really came out of it was what was expected. It was pretty noncommittal. They said tapering is coming, but they didn’t say it’s coming soon. There’s no expectation of a rate hike hike soon. So it’s really the current status quo, whatever that is. But it’s kind of more of the same for more time.
We don’t really expect much to change in the Fed through 2022. Markets have sufficient headwinds as it is as the world re-normalizes. We don’t expect much exciting happening. We didn’t expect that this month. We don’t expect it for some time.
WSN: Is that why the 10-year bond yields in the U.S. dropped from a four-month low, 1.3163? I look at the bloom at the moment. DO you think…
TN: This could be. But it’s also, you know, the current Fed chair may not be renominated by Biden. And if Jerome Powell is out, we’re likely to see Lael Brainard come in, who is very much a monetary policy activist. So we could see a really active Fed, not a conservative and extremely dovish Fed if Lael Brainard comes in. So I think that could be part of the reason we’re seeing expectations change in some of the bond markets.
PS: Can we shift your attention over to oil? Because as you know, the lack of consensus in OPEC+ and with the failure to negotiate production quotas has really put pressure on oil prices again. Is this conflict going to introduce more short term volatility in oil markets?
TN: Sure, yeah. Until there’s agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, I think we are going to see volatility because as the UAE creates a gap in expectations, other players like Russia and other folks can potentially violate the OPEC+ agreement. OPEC doesn’t necessarily have a history of agreeing uniformly very often. OPEC+ agreement has been one where they’ve really abided by it pretty well. And so OPEC is more fractious than it is kind of universal. I think we’re going to see volatility for at least a short time. But I do think there is underlying strength in oil prices. We don’t expect the $100 oil any time this year. Some people are calling for that. But we do see continued build in the strength of oil prices through the end of the year marginal bill.
SM: All right. And looking at other indicators, I mean, the US economy is booming, but the US ISM non-manufacturing figure for June came in below market expectations. Could you give us some explanation on what were the reasons for that drop?
TN: You know, the main reason really is unemployment or employment. Companies have had to cope with fewer workers as these federal government subsidies have kept workers on the sidelines. Effectively, they’ve paid workers to sit at home more than they’d make in hourly jobs. And so small companies particularly have had to figure out a way to work without additional workers. So now a lot of those workers are coming off of the federal stimulus packages. But a lot of these small and mid-sized sized companies have kind of learned how to cope without as many workers.
So they’re not trusting new workers until wages really come down. So it’s really kind of putting an impediment in the path for especially small and mid-sized companies. And that’s where there’s a little bit of doubt in the ISM.
WSN: So are we seeing a new economic model then, Tony, where there’s a lot of what we expect in terms of the full and employment numbers will change?
TN: It’s a great question, I certainly hope not. Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen immense government intervention in markets globally. Was the stimulus too much? Was it misallocated? We can argue that all day long. But the fact is, we’ve seen immense government stimulus and it takes a long time for stimulus that large to wash through the system.
We’re seeing the back side and the down side of stimulus. You know, we’ve seen things like inflation rates rise, you know, all this stuff over second quarter, but that’s really just a year on year number. We’re seeing what’s called base effects there. We’re seeing the same in things like wages and impacts on markets from government activity. So Q2 was a huge anomaly for markets and for government because of what’s happening globally with Covid in Q2 of 2020. As we kind of come back to a relatively normal-ish market, maybe by Q4, you know, we’ll start to see more normal readings across wages across, profits and other things.
So there really is a slow build. And as more of that government stimulus gets pulled out of the market or at least slows down, we’ll start to see things normalize. I don’t necessarily think it’s a new model unless the government insists on continuing to intervene and subsidize markets.
WSN: All right. Thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his views on the equity markets and even the fixed income market. But what was really surprising is that he thinks Jerome Powell will be replaced as the Fed chair. I was like, “this is news to me. I thought he was doing an OK job.” And usually I would imagine Joe Biden leading them to do their thing.
PS: That’s right. I wouldn’t expect Joe Biden to have places, political perspectives in the appointment of the Fed chair. But I think there are a lot of key decisions that has to be made. And that whole link between the tapering of his asset purchases and adjustment of interest rates, how do you have that delicate balancing act will be very critical.
WSN: Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell worked well together and Janet Yellen is his appointment. So I’m a little bit surprised by this news. But other news that I was like kind of focused on was also the fact that he thinks at the energy market upside is limited. So I think all of us as investors have to adjust our expectations in terms of the returns, because if you talk about the rally from March 2020 lows to now, it’s about 90%. And that’s staggering.
PS: And Tony is alluding to the fact that the stimulus was too broad, not targeted enough, I think, which basically resulted in a wash of cash, I think, creating a lot of frothy markets. And this is the challenge now.
WSN: So how does the bubble kind of burst, right, without creating chaos? Absolutely. You kind of want to deflate it, but not so much.
SM: And can I also draw your attention to something else that Tony said that caught my eye, the fact that he thinks oil isn’t going to hit $100 per barrel. We’re actually going to be discussing more on oil later at seven thirty after the bulletin with Sally Yilmaz of Bloomberg Intelligence. So stay tuned for that conversation on what the oil market’s going to look like.
Nick Glinsman and Sam Rines are back in this QuickHit episode special Cage Match edition about inflation, part two, where we start looking into things like raw materials cost versus processing and manufacturing bottlenecks. Also discussed are the wage inflation and labor availability and how long these impacts will last. And finally, we start talking about central banks. What will the Fed do? Will it do anything? When will it do it?
This QuickHit episode was recorded on April 28, 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this nflation: Buckle up, it may get worse QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
TN: What the people in the middle. So the manufacturers, what capacity do they have to absorb these price rises? What are you guys seeing when you talk to people when you read? Are you seeing that manufacturers can absorb the lumber prices, the copper prices and other things, or are they passing that directly along?
NG: Sorry, Sam. I’m jumping in here. The beauty of that question right now is there was a major headline, the Financial Times talking about margin compression of how US corporates are going to be increasing prices. It was today. You have the likes of Chipotle. We’ll go on to that. That’s a labor cost issue. But the other company, you know, J&J, various bare necessities manufacturers for nappies for kitchenware also they’re saying they’re going to have to put price pressure through to the consumer and as we were discussing just before we started, there’s the elasticity of price increases is very high.
The elasticity of price decreases is extremely low. And I would contend that this becomes a rolling, snowball effect as these prices get passed through to the consumer. There are other costs that will be passed through to which we can talk about later on labor side. But this clearly, one of the signals that our well worth watching, on the margins in the corporate reporting, and all of them are suggestive of higher prices to the consumer.
Then you look at the ISM prices paid. I have a chart, a model that looks at that versus the CPI. And if that sticks to what it’s done over the last couple of decades, it’s indicative of CPI, actually, the big figure having a getting up to somewhere around four, maybe even higher.
TN: Which was kind of a China 2011 scenario of four to six percent CPI.
NG: Correct. But also also the the process of decoupling, as long as it may be, that process has created a demand because of the supply shock.
There’s a supply shock in the system. The demand is adjusting there, too, so that work as additional demand to fill in the gaps, so if the decoupling replacement process is long standing, the demand is still there, it’s a matter and then catching up. There’s a price disparity caused by that.
TN: Yeah, we definitely have a mismatch, at least in the short term. And will those supply chains catch up? That’s a real question. Sam, what’s your view on that in terms of manufacturers being able to absorb these cost and margin pressures?
SR: So I’ll jump to the housing market as my example, which I think is one of the more interesting ones filtering, filtering through down into lumber.
A very close friend of mine in Houston is delaying the start of one hundred and ninety homes that were supposed to be going into, well… He has the pads laid. He won’t build those homes until lumber prices go down. It’s the largest backlog he’s ever had. And that got us talking and kind of working through the market. And when you look at the market for pine studs in the US, it’s an intriguing look into kind of where the cost pressures are coming through, where mills are making mills that make the two by fours are making an absolute fortune off of the disruption.
But if you own a pine stand of several thousand acres, the tree that you are cutting off of it is the exact same price that it was a year ago. You have seen none of the prices at all.
TN: So there’s not a supply, a raw materials supply issue. It’s a processed materials issue.
SR: Yes. Exactly. So it’s the supply chain breaking down. You didn’t have enough. You didn’t have the mills up and running for a couple of months. You had about 40 percent of the capacity offline. And that created a shock to the system that eventually will be sorted out at some point.
We didn’t destroy any capacity for two by fours. We’re building even at the current rate, we’re building one point seven million homes. That’s nowhere near what we were doing in 2005. And yet lumber is four times where it was. So, yeah.
NG: May I ask a question because you’re obviously in touch with that level on a micro basis? So one of the things that I’ve been told by several different sources is they don’t disagree with your number coming down eventually. The problem the homebuilders now have is labor shortage.
SR: That might be a problem in the northeast. That might be a problem in a kind of coastal problem in the US, where I have fewer contacts in construction. But in the south, there’s no labor shortage. Wages are still very strong. You have some projects that were delayed for large oil which created a supply of able bodied plumbers, electricians, where there’s a shortage elsewhere. So I would say that’s probably very true for parts of the country.
There’s anecdotally, Beth. Beth Iron Works? One of the major boat docks in the north, northeast is driving around an RV trying to recruit people to come, trying to recruit welders. That was a problem before Covid that was and will remain a problem. The trades will be a big issue. Common labor, particularly in the South, does not appear to be an issue. That is an issue in the north.
NG: I’ve heard it’s an issue in Florida, actually, which is back to you point about coasts. Sorry, I interrupt.
TN: We’re in Texas. It’s the Promised Land. I mean, I think you…
NG: Would agree with you on that one.
TN: OK, so we’ve gone long. I know these are very detailed issues, but I’m going to ask another question. I did ask for some questions over Twitter.
So one of them came in from Brent. This was around supply chain disruptions, which we’ve already talked about. There’s another from Jerrett Heath. He says, “Will it be velocity or magnitude that causes the Fed to react to inflationary pressures?”
So what do you guys think? Are we going to see kind of the magnitude inflation push the Fed to react or what’s going to push the Fed to react to start to taper a little bit, if they do at all?
NG: I would say both at the same time. My great fear is that there is, and this was actually covered by the Wall Street Journal, but I’ve written and spoken about this as well. I sit there looking at the Fed becoming reactive rather than proactive, and the punch bowl analogy is gone, and that worries me enormously because they have great confidence in something that they’re forecasting as transitory and we know what their forecast record is, and if you really want a bad forecast record, just go to Frankfurt and see what the ECB is all about.
Now, it’s interesting to me that the conventional wisdom, the consensus forecast is for tapering to the end of this year as opposed to next year. It seems like the more people talk about the inflation pressure, the greater it is. But I wonder whether we will get tapering. That’s what worries me about the Fed.
I’ve been really working hard on looking at what Claudia Sahm has written and said over the last couple of weeks. She wrote an op ed in The New York Times and Bloomberg. She’s said… She’s an ex-economist for the FOMC and the Board of Governors, actually. And you get the feeling that the priorities are unemployment with equity, racial equity as opposed to equality. Furthermore, you get the feeling that financial stability… Both of those more important than inflation.
Now, if that’s the case and we start to see any signs of a taper tantrum, I worry that this Fed is going to do a proactive. Either stop the idea of tapering or do a twist or something that eases this market. I think they’ve got themselves, we have a very political Fed that, if it’s reactive by nature, it could be procyclical by action. And that’s where I find I really worry about it.
Then, we’ve got Powells term expiry February. Well, Lail Brainard is one of Janet Yellen’s favorite people. And if she gets in, we’re going full MMT. So those are my concerns about the tapering, its focus on financial stability and the risk that reactive policy will be procyclical.
TN: Interesting. OK, that’s great. Thank you. Sam. Help me understand, what’s your point of view on this? What gets the Fed to react and how do they react?
SR: Yeah, so I would go with neither of those will get the Fed to react. It’s not a question of should they or, you know, what they think they should do. But it’s a question of will they. And they won’t react to inflation. They do not care about the magnitude. They do not care about the velocity. And they won’t care for at least another nine months because we know the combination that they’re going to look through, the combination of basic facts and supply chain disruptions, at least through the end of the third quarter. They do not care. And then they will start the clock on their four quarters of inflation above or at two percent, and they want full employment before they raise. That’s four percent at least on measured unemployment.
So I would say, it, whatever you want to look at for inflation numbers, they don’t care. And maybe they should, but they don’t.
TN: So they don’t care yet. Or they don’t care period?
SR: They don’t care, period, until it’s been until it’s been a year of around 2 percent in this summer and fall don’t matter to them.
NG: Let me add one or it’s too late.
NG: I’m with you. You and I seem to agree. I mean, that is exactly the impression I got from Claudia Sahm’s words. I mean it was just straight up. And that’s where I worry, you know, I have a huge respect for Lail Brainard. She is a very, very accomplished economist. But she’ll go full MMT is what Janet Yellen wants. It’s what the Democrats want and I really worry about that.
Plus, you combine this with here we go back to Larry Summers. You combine this with this fiscal effort and one thing that, so in American terminology, progressive policies typically have historically been inflationary. In English terminology, is what I am, these socialist policies have a history of inflation. More government intervention, more pushing against the string of inefficient allocation of resources. Labor restrictions, minimum wage, universal basic income. It all leads to in one direction.
So I agree with you, Sam. I think the Fed doesn’t care and I think, hence, the reactive. When they react, it’s going to be, in my view, potentially too late. It’s already started.
TN: So I just sent out on Twitter a chart that Sam published about three weeks ago from another source on the negative impact of fiscal stimulus, and as we end up ’21, like in Q3, Q4 of ’21, that fiscal stimulus starts to have a negative impact. And certainly in ’22, the US fiscal stimulus has a negative impact.
So, you know, there are a number of things to worry about, not just with inflation, but with the efficacy of some of this fiscal stimulus that’s going into the market.
So with that, I want to thank both of you guys. Honestly, we could talk about this for hours. I would love to have this discussion with you guys again, you know, even in a couple of weeks to talk about other issues. So let’s see where this goes. But thank you so much. Thank you very much for your time on this. I really appreciate it.
We’ll get this out as quickly as possible. Thanks to everyone who’s watching this. Thanks for everyone who submitted questions. For those who did submit questions, for the questions we used, we’ll give you guys a month of CI Futures and look forward to the next time. Thanks for joining us.
Tony Nash speaks with the BFM team in Malaysia to explain what’s going on in the US markets and economy after the FOMC announcement. What it means for gold and other assets, if businesses actually spend the excess cash for capital reinvestment, how this adds to wealth inequality in America, and how do tech stocks and traditional stocks compare?
In the US, the FOMC left interest rates unchanged, pledging to continue with their quantitative easing till 2022, indicating that America’s markets will continue soaring on the back of this wall of cheap liquidity.
Tony Nash, the CEO of Complete Intelligence in Texas, discusses the implications of what commentators are calling the Fed’s ‘yield curve control’ policy.
BFM: Let’s talk about the markets in the U.S. Markets whipsawed as all attention was on the FOMC meeting. The Dow closed down one percent. The S&P 500 closed down 0.5 percent. But the Nasdaq closed up in the green. 0.7 percent. What about Asia? Asia was rather mixed. The Shanghai Composite ended down 0.4 percent. The Hang Seng was marginally down by 0.03 percent. The Nikkei 225, I think they closed up about 0.2 percent. And FBM was up 0.01 percent. Just barely in the green — 0.01 percent. Now for more on global markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, are you down the line with us?
TN: Yes, sir. Morning.
BFM: Good morning to you. Now, the FOMC left interest rates unchanged of the meeting, pledging to continue with quantitative easing till 2022. What does this tell you about the state of the economy there?
TN: The Fed is really just trying to create stability. We see them, like you said, the next three years, they’ll keep them the same. We think that they’ll just reinforce some of the policies they’ve already put in place. One of the areas we see them focusing on is on yield curve control, although that’s not explicit. We really see that as an area that they’re moving in to encourage capital investment.
We’ve really seen capital investment fall here in the States, especially since the COVID time. Oil and gas companies have trimmed billions of dollars of capital investment, for example. So if they can have low-cost borrowing through a yield curve control, it could help that.
BFM: What are the implications of doing this? Yield curve control that, for example, on gold?
TN: The environment generally with both QE, which is meant to provide liquidity, and yield curve control, which is meant to provide low interest rates, what that does is it really pushes the Dollar down. Although it’s not perfectly inverse, there is generally inverse relationship between the Dollar and gold. So if it’s intended to push the value of the Dollar down, one would expect gold to rise.
BFM: Tony, yield curve control can also be called money printing, which has been happening for the last ten, twelve years from an evidence shil standpoint. Have corporations actually spend some of that excess cash on capital reinvestment or have they done it in terms of paying dividends to themselves and their shareholders or even worse, share buybacks?
TN: Mostly share buybacks. But share buybacks and dividends, one can argue are similar. It’s just a different form of paying back shareholders. So share buybacks have really been made to be evil over the last, say, five, 10 years or something. But it’s really similar to a dividend that it brings value to the investors themselves. So is it a good thing? I don’t necessarily think so, but it is just one form of getting money back to investors.
It’s not necessarily helping capital investment. It hasn’t necessarily helped capital investment. And so, you know, looking at things like yield curve control, what we’ve seen is a lot of QE, but we haven’t seen as much yield curve control. So yield curve control could be one way to provide more incentive for capex.
BFM: Well, that hasn’t happened clearly. And to what extent do you think that that policy has exacerbated the wealth inequality in the country, in the United States, which some say has manifested themselves in some of these demonstrations you see all over the country?
TN: That’s a very complicated question. And we can spend a lot of time on it. So I think whether a yield curve control has done that, I can’t necessarily argue for or against it. Has QE done that? Oh, surely. I mean, QE has definitely contributed to inequality. It’s definitely contributed more to capital concentration itself than overall inequality. Capital is concentrated with the investment class rather than, say, the working class. Although that sounds very Marxist and it didn’t really mean it to sound that way, but it’s really helped to concentrate capital.
BFM: Well, let’s take a look at last night. The U.S. markets were mixed overnight. Is this a reality check that the recovery may not be as soon or as sharp as anticipated by investors?
TN: The kind of the relief rally we’ve seen over the past few weeks has really been one of really just excitement that COVID is ending and really hopeful that things will open, as well as recognition of the Fed’s activity and the Treasury’s activity of getting trillions of dollars into the economy. As investors realize how slow those openings are going to be and the impact that it will have on Q2 earnings, but potentially Q3 earnings. I think we’ll see some of this enthusiasm fall away. So markets are trying to find that level. What is that level? And because there is so much uncertainty, we don’t really know that level. This is why we’ve expected volatility through Q2 and into Q3 until there’s more clarity about the pace of opening, how that will affect different industries, and the severity of, say, a second wave. And to be honest, whether people really care about the second wave.
BFM: Well, NASDAQ has passed ten thousand and valuation is at the highest in the last 15 years. Where do you think tech stocks will go from here?
TN: It really all depends on how companies focus on things like productivity. If we continue to see layoffs and unemployment, companies may decide to invest in technology. We may see some real broad-based investment in productivity like we did twenty five to 20 years ago when companies really started to invest in computing and Internet and all these other productivity shows, it’s quite possible that we see that across large companies.
It’s really questionable. Have we expanded valuations as far as we can or is there further expansion there?
BFM: Just following up on that. We’ve seen the market recover in the U.S., but there’s definitely a divergence between how the tech stocks have performed and how the larger S&P 500 has performed. Do you think there’s a lot more room for tech stock? Do you think these two indexes will actually going to diverge at this point?
TN: We may see a little bit of divergence, but I don’t see that much divergence. I think there is a lot of synchronization within those indexes. We may see a bit like we saw today, but I don’t think that will continue in a massive way.
BFM: So when you mean synchronicity, you mean that they will track each other in a parallel? But there is a gap between something like the NY Fang index and the S&P in general. Is that due to the S&P just being weighted down by other classes of assets there?
TN: Sure, yeah. It’s looking at traditional businesses that have physical assets and a lot of legacy employees and retirement commitments. These sorts of things really weight down old traditional businesses. The Fang’s, for example, they don’t have a huge retirement commitments than, say, a large manufacturer that’s maybe a 100 years old has. As those things play through and this really has to do with the aging of baby boomers, really. Those retirement commitments will age with them and then they’ll phase out eventually.
But a lot of this is around again, those companies are not as efficient as they could be. And until they get to a level of efficiency that they need, we’re gonna see a drag on their earnings. So, of course, with guys like the Fang’s, since they have kind of virtual software related businesses, they will have valuations that are much more generous than traditional, say S&P 500 businesses.
BFM: All right, Tony. Thank you so much for your time this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence.
I think just ending that point is how this divergence between traditional industries and tech industries had been even more highlighted by what we’ve seen.
Yeah, I think that’s really quite concerning because the alternative point of view is that of the Fed’s money printing policy, which has really accelerated exponentially the last three months. There really is no indication from Trump, from Jay Powell, that he has an exit strategy in mind or has any exit strategy at all. Because how do you unwind this much? You basically dopamine the markets without having some kind of pain. It’s very clear, I mean, even though he was quite tempered in his response, this inequality has been really exec-abated for the last 10 years.