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Futures Edge Ep 55 : The AI Episode with Tony Nash

This “Futures Edge Ep 55 : The AI Episode with Tony Nash” video discussion is originally published on



Welcome to the Future Edge podcast. I’m Jim Iuorio, always the assistant to nobody, executive producer, brains behind the operation, and co-host Bob. Today we have our friend, Tony Nash, the founder of the AI firm Complete Intelligence, who also has a kick-ass podcast called The Week Ahead, on which I was fortunate enough to be a guest and really enjoyed the conversation. You generally host it with Tracy and Albert, correct?


Yeah, quite a lot. We do it with Tracy and Albert about two-thirds of the time. Thank you for that, by the way. I really appreciate it, Jim.


Oh, no, I loved it. First of all, let’s get the nonsense out of the way. What’s your favorite drink?


Oh, coffee.


No, you don’t drink?


Not what he meant.


No, coffee. Coffee is it. I write about coffee, post about coffee, and coffee is my favorite drink.


Well, you are a fucking nerd dude, by the way.


Coffee. I think if I had to quit either coffee or booze, I think booze would be harder, but I think coffee would be damn close. I think coffee is something that I rely on.


Coffee would be much harder for me.


Yeah. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day, Tony?


Only four.


Okay, I drink about four cups a day too. I was about to ask you what your favorite show that you have watched recently was. Have you guys seen the show Shrinking with Harrison Ford and Jason Siegel?




That’s your assignment for the week. It’s pretty damn funny. Harrison Ford in a comedic role was really interesting, and he killed it, I thought.


Can I throw something out here before Tony tells us his favorite show? Is it a cliche that I love Sylvester Stallone and Tulsa King? Is that a cliche?


Yeah, it’s a dago cliche.


I’m stereotyping myself, right? Is that what I’m doing?


No doubt about it.


The mobster now in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m down here in Southwest Florida, pretty.


Tony, before you answer the question, speaking of mobsters, you should read the Bill O’Reilly book, Killing the Mob, particularly if you’re from Chicago. It was amazing. Did you read it, Tony?


No, I did not. But it sounds great. We should read it.


Shut up and let him answer questions.


Staying on The Mob, the best show that I’ve seen over the past year. It was on Paramount Plus, and it’s about the making of The Godfather. I can’t remember the…


Offer. It’s called The Offer.


The Offer. Yeah. It was fantastic. Really?


I want to watch that. Particularly because they talk in Bill O’Reilly’s book, they talk a lot about Sidney Korsak, who was basically the biggest guy in the Mob. He was in LA and he was the Mob accountant for all the outfits. So he was the fixer, they call them. And he’s the one who hired David Evans, who made the Godfather. Right. The Mafia hated it at first, and then they loved it after it was made, which is so funny, and started adopting some of the traditions that were brought back from the movie The Godfather.


They talked through some of that in this movie about how they negotiated with the mob to allow the movie to be made. It was really well done, actually, if…


You guys want to read something good called Family Secrets. Okay, Jimmy, since you’re a restaurateur and you’re both very familiar with the Chicagoland area, you will recognize 90% of the restaurants and places that they mentioned in that book because it’s all about the Chicago outfit and the Calabrese brothers and the Kid and all that. It’s fantastic.


What was the name of the mob joint in Norwich or Norwood Park? It was an Italian restaurant that was all like my buddy who worked for the state’s attorney, they had files on these mob guys and they had like, hangouts and there was all it was the same restaurant. I used to go there occasionally. You guys don’t remember the name of it?


Talking about Capri or Sicily Restaurant?


Neither of those sound familiar. If you said it, I’d know it. But it was so funny because now there’s a place in Arlington Heights now which I think is a bunch of mob wannabes. It’s like a bunch of 80-year-olds, maybe they were back in time. But it’s a pretty funny place called Palm Court. We go there, and they have like a guy singing Lou Rawls and Dean Martin and a bunch of old Dagos dancing. It’s fantastic. Okay, let’s get to Tony. By the way, remember Tony’s here we have his brain, his knowledge, and we could talk about mob stuff the whole time. So we had a series of numbers over the last week that are beginning to suggest some level of stagflation. My opinion is that until strength in the labor market is obviously not part of stagflation, is it too early to start worrying about it? Tony, what are your thoughts?


I think it is. I think you saw some really strong quarterly reports this past week. I think banking is not as bad as people had feared. There’s some strength in tech. You see some of the services company restaurants and even some of the consumer goods companies that are still reporting price hikes. So the price hikes would be inflation. But there is a very small slowdown in their volume, right? And so they’re still growing the top line. And so it’s not as if people can’t buy because they can’t afford it. You’re also seeing service wages, especially in the middle of the country, still be very strong. And so people in the middle of the country are making more money and they’re spending it, right?

And what’s also happening is you saw, I think, eight or 9% rise in Social Security earlier this year. And so you have a bunch of old people, they’re not saving the money, right? They got a 9% pay rise and they’re going out and spending it. So we do have more money coming in. I don’t necessarily see that we’re kind of entering a recession. I do think that we’re going to have a slower Q Two and a slower Q Three. Our forecast indicate that we’ll see kind of a 0.2.3 growth rate in those quarters, and then we’ll take back up in Q Four. So we have a lot of economists talk about, well, we’re going to have a recession in the back half. I don’t think it’s the back half. I think it’s the middle part of the year that we should really worry about. And when we get to the last quarter, I think we’re going to be in much better shape. Okay.


Now, the stock market seems to be relatively buoyant. I point to the fact $7 trillion was injected into the economy over a relatively short amount of time. But there’s something to me that looks kind of ominous. If you look at the Russell compared to the Nasdaq, or let’s just say if you did equal weighted in the SP, it be down for the year. But cap weighted is up for the year, meaning the big companies, people are buying their shares. To me, it almost kind of smacks a flight to quality. Do you think that I’m reading too much into it or no, no, I.


Don’t necessarily think you’re like flight to quality right now, as people are spooked, it’s a natural thing to do, right. And you have the Fed start to dial down on or start to increase the rate of QT up until the banking scare a month ago. And so some of that money was being taken off the table and other things. So I think as that money is taken off the table, people want to move to quality because the smaller companies they’re just not sure about. But I think what we’re seeing in some of these earnings that there are some companies that are actually doing okay. People have kind of figured some of this stuff out. They’re getting more efficient with staff, especially in tech. They’re getting more efficient with staff, and they’re really learning how to pass their costs on to their customers.


Bobby Gany yeah, so I want to push back a little bit on the stack inflation thing, which you might have guessed. Tony Tweeted today, jimmy, we tagged you in. I don’t know if you got a chance to see it, but Tony said with the strong earnings, are we still talking about stagflation? And I jumped in with a yup, and I said, okay, let’s talk about that. And then, Jimmy, I actually have a question for you because one of our members on the Path Trading partners, YouTube, asked a question and asked me to ask you. So when you give me an opportunity to do that, I will. So I maintain that stagflation is the worst possible economic situation. Some people, like Charles Payne from Fox News thinks deflation is worse than stagflation. I can understand that argument. It’s it’s kind of tougher to get out of. The stagflation argument to me, sort of plays out like this. We had GDP go from 2.6% to 1.1%. So there is a slowing economy, still growth, actually still respectable versus the last 20 years. Right, guys? But versus the last 20 years, I wouldn’t call it generally respectable. And then you had both PCE numbers surprised to the upside in some forms.

Now, I would argue, and Jimmy’s been correct about this, the supply chain part of the inflation has virtually gone away, but the wage part is still biting. And that’s where we saw in the ECI numbers, the employment cost index numbers, also surprised to the upside. So my fear is this. And one of the things I said to our members is, you guys stop spending because the economy is slowing down. I really don’t want stagflation to happen. Okay? Quit our service. Do whatever you have to do. Just stop spending.




Well, some of the things like wage salesman I know, I’m awful. I am awful at this shit. Anyway, some of the things in terms of the wage growth and the increased Social Security stuff, to me smack a little bit inflationary. And it bothers me because when you look at the labor numbers, which is what a lot of economists and analysts and guys we had on the show point to as a strong part of the economy, every Fed hike cycle has ended in a recession except 1994. And every single time after the recession started, the unemployment rate rose by a lot and fast. But it was after the recession started. So my fear is that I think where we get lost in the argument is are we in a recession now? No. Are we going into one?


I think yes.


So where am I crazy?


Well, I don’t think you’re necessarily crazy. I think there is not 0% chance of a recession. There is not 0% chance of stagulation. So everything I say is just kind of and we all have recency bias whenever we analyze generally. Right. I think what Jim said is we had $7 trillion or $8 trillion pushed into markets very quickly. Right, okay.


And so that’s the sugar high that we saw, particularly in 21. Right. And we kind of weaned off it a little bit in 22. And right now we’re facing those hard trade-offs. Right.

But with that much money pushed into the market and the supply chain constraints we saw from COVID we saw goods inflation just a rocket ship. Right, right.

And then what happened? People couldn’t necessarily buy all the stuff they wanted to buy, so they demanded higher wages. So there’s a delay between goods inflation and wage inflation. Right.

And so now that goods inflation has generally subsided, wage inflation, there’s going to be a lag because we saw Walmart give that big raise to all their staff in January and then that kind of cascaded to everyone else. And we saw Social Security and all these different wage rises come around. It’s going to take a while for that to cascade through. And then will we completely normalize? It depends on how we normalize is normalizing back to 2019 levels? Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to do that right now without serious economic damage. So I think all we’re looking for is some sort of balance point where we have this kind of sugar in the economy that has kind of diffused through the economy. Right.

It’s had all of its effects on the cost of goods and wages. And now that it’s diffused through the economy, we have to start figuring how to normalize how do we take it out? Right.

And we have to be really careful about that with higher wages. So will wages get high to a point where people start coming into the economy, people who haven’t been in the economy for a while? Right.

Because in 2020 we saw a lot of people check out of the economy, but we also have baby boomers who are retiring at an accelerating rate. So we may have a point where we have people who are out for either voluntary reasons or maybe they’re not necessarily don’t necessarily have the best skills or something like that. We may see people come back into the economy that might put wage downward pressure on wages, but I think it’s going to be maybe a year before we start to see that we’ve really got to see wages continue to rise.


I think you definitely make a compelling case that this could be different, that there could be a soft landing built in the year. I hadn’t thought of it from a perspective, even though Jimmy has said it over and over again, but I tune them out. I hadn’t thought of it from a perspective of, okay, so the sugar high is out now and there’s actually time to normalize the rate rises with the price rises where it can actually come down. And by the way, to your point, Tony, people who say there’s never been a soft landing are wrong. I mean, 1994, the Fed did engineer, quote, unquote, a soft landing.


It did happen, yeah. But I think it’s going to be a hard landing for some people. For those people who’ve been laid off from tech companies or whatever. Right. It’s already been a hard landing for them. Right. And so it just depends on how broad that hard landing is. Right.

And so can those guys get other jobs? Maybe. Is it going to be 300 grand a year checking in for 2 hours a day? Probably not. But will they be able to get other jobs that’ll soften their landing? So it depends on how broad that landing is.

I remember in the early 90s there was a recession that nobody else talks about anymore. Okay, my parents were both laid off from their job. Actually, they weren’t laid off from their job. They were at a company, they both worked for the same company, where every three months, they had to reinterview for their same job. Okay.

And so they had kind of this rolling rehiring within the company. It was terrifying for them, right, that you couldn’t make long-term plans. But at that point, in that recession, employment in places like New Jersey was 18%. Okay, so again, we talk about the 2000 recession, we talk about 2008, but 1991 was really bad, and they had to reinterview every three months, and that lasted, I think, two years or something like that.

That’s not there right now. Like, everyone is kind of complaining about having to end work from home or whatever, and complaining about not getting whatever kind of benefits with their job, rather than just having a job, period, right. So we still have so much workforce demand, so much lack of supply, that I don’t think we’re anywhere near how difficult things were in 1991. And until we get there, I really don’t think we see a really hard landing. And again, it’s a relative kind of perception. The smallest hiccup will be portrayed in media as a hard landing because somebody’s having a hard day, and it sucks. It sucks for them. And I’m really sorry that people have to go through this, but it’s all relative, and we really haven’t seen a hard landing for at least a decade. I mean, 2009 would be the last time.


So tell me this, Tony, because you look at and I like what you’re saying here. I’m not convinced of soft landing yet, but I like the word you’re saying. The money supply, m two money supply, there’s been four times in history, independent, this one, that the m two money supply contracted by more than 2%. Three of those times were a depression. 18, 70, 19, 20, 19, 29. The fourth time, I think it was a panic of some sort in like the 1890s. Right now, our m two money supply has come down two and a half percent, more than two and a half percent. Why is it different than them? Actually, I have an answer. I’m curious what your answer is, because I have an answer, too, that it is different. Why do you think it’s different?


I think it’s different because a lot of that was one-time government spending. And so people understood that PPP was one time. People understood a lot of these payouts were kind of one-time payouts. And so it’s like, okay, let’s back up the truck, take the handout. We took PPE in my company, and I’m not embarrassed about it at all, because not even more, we took the PPP, and we knew that it was one time. Right.

And so you take it, you survive, and then you live to continue the business or continue a household or whatever. So I think people are mentally prepared for the fact that this cut government spending was a one-time deal. Right.


That’s my opinion as well, by the way, too. I thought the fact that we inject the 7 trillion, 8 trillion, whatever we’re talking about here, to expect a little bit of a mean reversion, I think is relatively reasonable. So I do genuinely believe it’s different this time and again. I’m not saying I think it’s soft landing because I do think there’s a bifurcation in the economic condition. I think there was a big wealth transfer of that money we were talking about. A lot of it went to the higher end. I think people are struggling on the lower end. Tyson Foods just announced a 10% reduction of workforce. So this is different now than tech companies that were bloated and hired a shit ton of people over two years. Tyson Foods didn’t hire people. So I like what you’re saying about the soft landing. You can justify those things and still see those layoffs coming and think it’s going to be okay.


Yeah, I think, well, here’s where it’s going to be different, okay? It’s going to be different over the next two years with white-collar jobs. Okay?

And this is where kind of you roll your eyes and go, okay, he’s going to start talking about AI. But I think we will really start to see a reduction of white-collar jobs because of technology. It’s not going to happen immediately. It started a little bit, but I think we don’t really start to get traction on there for probably two years. Okay, so when we see Tyson Foods cut jobs, that’s different. Maybe part of that is automation, part of that is demand induced, but we’ll really start to see your finance people, your accounting people, your marketing people, people who say make really good money are educated, but let’s say they live their whole day or a good portion of their day in Excel. Anything that any of us do in Excel can be automated. Anything. And so these jobs where people went to school, say in the 90s or 2000s and got an MBA, got a corporate job, all that stuff, what we’re going to start seeing in two, three years time is initially there will be an augmentation of their jobs using AI, ML, whatever you want to call it. Over time, what management and boards will realize is that a lot of the time that these white-collar professionals are spending is on relatively mundane tasks, okay? And so they can’t necessarily be outsourced somewhere because it’s sensitive information. But they’re repeatable mundane tasks and ask anybody who’s white collar if they’re really honest with you, they’ll tell you a good portion of their job is kind of routine, boring stuff, right? Not just in meetings on the phone. It’s kind of reports they have to make or data they have to analyze or things that have to be written or whatever, right? And so we’ll start to see some of those structural adjustments in white-collar jobs in a couple of years’ time. That’s when we’ll hear a lot of screaming and a lot of pain from that class of worker that we haven’t really heard from in a couple of decades at least. Right.

But going back to kind of the softish landing, of course, there will be turbulence. Right.

But I think it’s possible that as long as that supercore inflation is persistent, the Fed doesn’t really have a choice. They have to continue pulling back because that supercore inflation is hitting everybody because these are services jobs, right? So everyone is hit by services jobs inflation. People who go to Walmart to shop, people who go to McDonald’s. McDonald’s pushed their price by almost 9%, I think, over the last quarter or last year. I mean, everyone’s hit by this stuff, and it’s largely on job costs and wages. Everyone is hit. And so the Fed has to move on it. So we’ll see more investment in productivity. We’ll see more focus on productivity because people just can’t continue to be pushed on price. We’re not there yet, but people just can’t continue to be pushed on price. It’s just unaffordable at some point.


Okay, you’ve mentioned AI before, too, and I like a lot of things you’re saying. Another that one company, that MCD company, I’m not allowed to talk about it. My daughter may or may not be an exec at that company, but whatever. Let’s not talk about that. Anyway, so how far are we from AI, where we could have seamlessly had one of us on this call be AI-generated and people won’t know? Are we years away from that, or no?


Oh, no, I don’t think we’re far from that. Let me give you a very tangible example of what we do. And for your watch. I don’t intend this to be a sales pitch, but this just can help you understand what’s possible. Okay?

So we do really boring stuff at Complete Intelligence. We’re an AI company. And so what we do is we help companies to augment and automate their budgeting process and their forecasting process. Okay?

So we have a customer. Their annual revenue is about $12 billion. They have, on an annual basis, about 400 people working on their annual budget. Okay?

It takes them three months, so that takes them three months to do. It cost them maybe six million dollars, five to six million dollars to go through that process. Okay?

When we worked with that company, the first time we did their budget, it took us 48 hours. We were 0.3% off of what those 400 people took three months to do. Okay?

Now, a year later, we circled back with the finance executive who we worked with, and he said, you guys absolutely nailed our budget number. At the beginning of the year, not only did you nail it. You did it for six layers deep within the general ledger. Okay.

The people that they have working on their budget do it three layers deep within their general ledger. Okay.

And these are relatively highly paid white-collar professionals who are doing this stuff. Okay.

There are 400 of them. I’m not saying we would replace them, but we certainly take a huge load off of their workload for three months of the year. Right.

And so can they do different activities? Can they do with fewer people, those sorts of things? Right.

And so these are the kind of things it’s not super sexy, it’s not Palantir doing CIA stuff or whatever. It’s really mundane stuff that really impacts the bottom line and headcount of a company. Right.

And so this is where I think the really interesting stuff in AI is, is ChatGPT interesting? Yeah, absolutely. I don’t have to hire an entry-level analyst anymore and have them take six months to come up to speed. Right.

I can actually go into ChatGPT and have something written up that it would take four to six months for an entry-level analyst to learn how to write. It takes me 15 minutes. Right.

So these things but just to let you know, kind of when I talk about white collar jobs and AI starting to be augmented or automated, I’m talking about the really boring stuff that, quite honestly, people really don’t like to do. Right.

And so we help those things to those roles to be much more productive, and we help those executives to get a much more accurate view on their business.


So, first of all, Tony, you’re a pretty ethical, honorable guy. I was on your podcast as well, and you couldn’t have been nicer or kinder. So I want you to tell people how they can get a hold of you. We have some pretty high net-worth listeners.




You’re not on here to pitch your company. I want you to tell people in the middle of the podcast rather than the end where people might have kind of drifted off already since Jim and I are so freaking boring, where you can.


I’m excited as hell.


He never moves from that position in the chair. He literally sits like this.


He’s got a long day.


He’s actually AI. He’s not a real person. Tell me where they can reach you, Tony, before I ask you the question.


Sure. I’m on Twitter. @TonyNashnerd. T-O-N-Y-N-A-S-H nerd. My email so I own the nerd thing. I’m not afraid of it. I get it. But, yeah, contact me. I’m happy to talk to any of your viewers.


Okay, so another thing, by the way, right now, being a nerd is cool, so don’t act like you’re admitting something that’s embarrassing right now.


It’s a flex. It’s not enough.


Yeah. All of a sudden it’s a flex these days where I don’t know who even made it a flex. I used to flex in front of nerds and try and scare them off.


It’s the Big bang theory.


That’s what it is. Big bang theory.


A long way in normalizing, which I think was very interesting. Yeah.


Big bang culture thing.


So here’s my question, Tony. Good. So I actually have very recently and I don’t think there’s any problem with me talking about this I used to have to call an attorney for every little thing, and it got so ungodly expensive that I started just kind of looking for templates online. And in simple agreements, I would just write my own and take my chances, because in a worst-case scenario with a client, like we do in Pat trading partners, we do like, boutique analysis for smaller firms. So I would just write simple documents and be like, what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t pay me for a month. It’s probably still less than I would add to pay a lawyer to write up this document. I recently used Chat GPT 4.0 to create an easement between myself and my neighbor so that our fences could connect. That goes into perpetuity. So number one, are certain white collar managers going to be slightly timid to hire you? Because obviously some of the mundane tasks they do make them valuable? And number two, do you think there’s a larger economic effect on white collar jobs? For example, my easement that I’m not going to be paying a lawyer for that comes with AI.


Yeah, absolutely. We see this all the time. When people realize what we can do. There’s kind of that holy crap moment where people realize, oh, my gosh, we have 400 people working on this stuff and these guys can process it in 48 hours. When people realize that, it’s impressive, but it’s kind of scary, right? When I think about how are you using a lawyer? You’re using a lawyer to manage risk, right? And so why do you call a lawyer? Because you want someone else you can call and say, hey, that guy told me that this was the right thing to do. So you’re basically outsourcing your risk to them, right, so that they can create a document for you. In what we do, when a CFO walks out of their office and they see 50 people or 100 people, those people are effectively managing risk for them, right? And so nobody really thinks of AI in terms of risk management, but actually those people are managing risk for a CFO. Okay?

And so when we do what we do, we’re automating that risk element and we’re making it much more consistent. Right.

How risky is it for you to forecast your budget for the next year? Right?

If you get it wrong and you give the street the wrong number or the wrong guidance or whatever, it can be really bad. Right.

But for everything we do and ChatGPT and other AI tools work the same way. We have a statistical basis for everything we do. So everything we do, we tell our customers our error rates for every single line item for every month. Okay?

And we actually have a publicly facing platform called CI Futures that people can subscribe to to see the S&P 500 stock forecasts. They can see equity markets, they can see currency forecasts, they can see commodity forecasts, and they can see global economics. It’s $20 a month. So really cheap, right? But we disclose our error rates on that platform so that people can understand the risk associated with what we do. Right?

And so I think we have a more educated society. You have more confidence in using GPT 4.0 because you’re confident in the underlying tech, the broad based adoption of it, and the kind of statistical, although you’re probably not too aware of it, the statistical underpinnings of it, right. Because all it’s doing is, all GPT is doing is going out and doing a bunch of, say, Google searches all at one time, looking at the incidence of a topic or a word, and then putting that together for you on an incidence basis. Right?

So you want a legal agreement for an easement, and it goes out and says, okay, legal agreement for easement. What are the words that are used in those agreements? How are they structured? And what’s the incidence of the order of that stuff? And it’s summarizing it up and it’s putting it together for you. Right?

And so that’s just a statistical analysis that is reducing your risk because it’s looking at what most people do, right? What do most of those agreements say? And so what we’re doing when we forecast, say, a supply chain cost or an expense budget or a revenue budget or something, is we’re looking at a lot of data. We do trillions of calculations to do this stuff. And we’re telling people, you know what, statistically this is likely what’s going to happen in that very deep line item within your budget in September of 2023, something like that. Right.

And so they have a higher degree of confidence in what we’re doing. It’s faster, higher degree of confidence, and it’s better. Right.

And your question about people who are nervous about it yes, they are. And you know what, I’m an investor in companies, in publicly traded companies. Do I want to know that they hire 5000 people in their finance team and it could be taken down to, I don’t know, 3500? I would want to know that. Right.

And so is there inefficiency, in these finance teams or marketing or other teams? Absolutely. Right. So that’s what this technology is doing. It’s allowing investors to look at the companies they invest in and go, hey, company A, why are you not looking at this technology to deploy in your company to actually make your workers more productive? That’s really what it’s all about.


You’re the boogeyman to a lot of middle managers, Tony. Go ahead, Jimmy.


Absolutely. Can we flip back to markets for a second? Because I do want to talk about the buoyancy in the stock market, particularly the last couple of days. I’m having a difficult time understanding it, particularly after we saw that the GDP number, which, like we said earlier, showed both slowing economy and inflation, that’s being persistent. What do you make of it? Why do you think the market is going higher?


We had nominal GDP at 7-8%. I don’t remember the exact number, but you have a nominal GDP number that is the same as it’s been for the past couple of years with all of the government stimulus. Okay. Real GDP is different, of course, because it factors in inflation. Right?

And so we have inflation at five to six or whatever. So that’s discounted to one point whatever percent it came out at. Right. You’re still growing nominally at the same rate you’ve been with all of the COVID stimulus. I think that’s part of the reason that people are looking at this economy and going, yeah, we really thought that pullback was coming. We really thought the economy was slowing. But in fact, statistically, on a nominal basis, it’s still running at the same rate. If we factor in inflation, then it pulls down, then it looks like it’s slowing. Right.

So as you deconstruct the data that come out, it’s not really bad. And if you look at that nominal run rate and you say, okay, if we could get inflation down, then that nominal rate actually looks really good. Right.

And so it’s possible I’m not saying this is probable, because it’s not in our outlook, but it’s possible that if the Fed can actually get inflation down while keeping nominal growth, maybe not at seven plus, but let’s say it’s at five plus, then we’re in amazing shape as an economy, right? Is that likely? Again, I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s possible. Again, here’s what I always say for people with economic data, okay? And if you see me on Twitter, I always say, Wait for the revision. Always wait for the revision. Because this first release that you see is really a bunch of government statisticians doing a best guess, with very little data, actually. Okay?

And so when we see retail sales, when we see CPI, when we see GDP, whatever, we see it’s government statisticians basically doing a sample of a sample of a sample and getting a quick number out to us to give us an indication of what’s actually happening in markets. But there’s three or four revisions to a bunch of these numbers, so we won’t know for two years what the GDP number really was.


That’s a good takeaway, by the way, from the show, because I think that’s interesting and something I don’t think about quite enough.


Nobody does.


Yeah, nobody does. Right. When you look at how gold, bitcoin, silver have performed so well over the last few months. Put a fine point on that. How do you explain it?


I think it’s just a function of the dollar coming down. I think it’s kind of the reverse of that. I think it’s people pushing a recession narrative and wanting to kind of look for a safe asset. And so that’s really, I think, all it is. I don’t hate gold. I don’t love gold. I’ve been in and out of gold over the past year or so. Not on a regular basis, but I’m not in it now. But I think it’s useful when it’s useful, but it’s not something that I’m looking at. I did have a crypto investment a couple of years ago. I was in doge for like, six weeks, and I got in at got out at $0.76. So I did okay on that. But it’s a bigger suckers market in crypto, I believe. It’s not money. It’s an asset. Okay?

Crypto is an asset. It’s not money. And so I saw it as an opportunistic asset. I got in and out. I didn’t make a huge amount of money. I just wanted to see what could happen. Did a lot better than I thought it would do. And I’m just not a huge crypto fan because I just don’t see where it’s going, especially when we’re talking about central bank digital currencies and other things. It’s just what are you going to do? If every investor in the US. Can’t fight the fed in their trading every day, then how is a cryptocurrency going to fight the fed with a central bank digital currency?


Bobby, do you agree with that? Do you think that there’s no use case scenario for crypto going forward?


What bothers me about crypto, I don’t think there’s no use case, but I agree when Tony says it’s not money. I think it could become money, but to me it’s very strange because nothing is technically money unless we get rid of income taxes, because the only thing that gives the fiat currency value is that it’s an acceptable form of payment for your taxes. Otherwise nobody would trade that paper. Why would anybody hold just pieces of paper that’s backed by nothing? Which is and Jimmy and I, you and I have talked about this both privately. And last week I did a WGN radio show where the guy said to me, bitcoin is favored by drug dealers. And I said to him, I was in studio down on Michigan avenue, and he said, favored by drug dealers? I said, pull out whatever you got in your pocket. He pulled out a bunch of cash. I go, so is that and so is that not backed by anything except that you can pay your taxes with it. You can’t pay your taxes with bitcoin. But I’ve had private arguments with people. I wish I could remember this woman’s name.

I watched this young woman who’s a Bitcoin fan, and she was arguing with Peter Schiff, right? And she said, Bitcoin is money. And he said, no, it’s not. And she said, yes, it is. No, it’s not. And she says, yes, it is. Because I pay people Bitcoin and they pay me in Bitcoin. And I said, okay, that’s fine, fair enough. But I just gave a 15 year old kid a pair of Jordans I don’t wear anymore to come and cut up a bunch of boxes for me and put them into my recycle bin. That doesn’t make Michael Jordan’s shoes money, just that he was willing to accept it to do the work. Right.

What makes it money is the ability for everyone. Or I shouldn’t say the ability the willingness for, let’s just call it the majority of the population to accept it in a transaction. We’re nowhere near that.


Yeah. I want to be clear. I don’t hate crypto. I don’t think it’s bad or anything. I’m not making a moral judgment call on it.


I didn’t take it that way, Tony.


And if people want to invest in it, I really don’t care. But it’s changing the topic just a little bit. I’ll make an analogy. It’s like Argentina using the CNY for trade settlement, right? All they’re going to do is two currency transactions when they pay in CNY, okay? Because everything in trade is either in dollars or euros, everything in international markets. So they may pay in CNY, but really they’re going to be checking what the dollar value of that trade transaction is, right? You can say the same thing for crypto. Does your brain work in I’m going to go buy a banana in crypto? No, you think of it in dollars, right. Or euros or whatever, right? And so, sure, you may transact in crypto, but it’s just circumvention of the dollar system because that’s what the ultimate nomination of that value is, right? And so until we start thinking about things valued in crypto, right, until I can go to the gas station and they say, oh, this is however many Bitcoin or whatever, I have no idea what their numbering scheme is. I just don’t see it as currency. I spent most of my life in Asia.

I worked with a lot of currencies like Sri Lankan Rupee and Vietnam dong and all that kind of stuff. Those are currencies. They’re nationally traded. They’re traded every day, all that stuff. So you don’t have to be the US dollar or the Euro or CNY to be a currency. There are minor currencies all around the world.


So why don’t we outline something real quick? Because I got a question to you about the de dollarization, but I want it to be known that I can hear the name of the Vietnam currency now and not snicker and laugh. This is growth.




Okay, very good. So the de dollarization thing, I did think that it was a big mistake what the Russia freezing assets kind of weaponizing the financial system. I still am of the camp that I’m not particularly concerned of any sort of global de dollarization thing. I mean, the reserves are still there just does not seem to be a suitable substitution. Are you on the same camp or.


Are you concerned China still pegs the CNY to the dollar? Every day. They announce every day what their USD CNY conversion rate is. Every day. Okay, so does that tell you that there’s de dollarization? Whenever people talk about CNY, I would say you do realize that the PBOC literally uses numerology to decide their interest rate. They literally use numerology.


Okay, what does that mean?


It means it has to be a pleasing number that ends in an eight. Okay.

I’m not kidding. It’s not the only factor, but it is one of their considerations. And so you can’t have a central bank that is setting their rates, whether it’s a repo rate or an interest rate or whatever, using numerology. I mean, that’s just not credible. And if people would look into the inner workings of the PBOC, they would understand that CNY is just not a credible international currency. Regardless of what Xi Jinping wants you to believe, and regardless of what all of the kind of anti dollar people want you to believe, it’s just not practical. The other part is this Belt and Road initiative, which is kind of more of a joke than a reality. It’s all nominated in dollars. It’s all nominated in dollars. A Chinese national program now, okay, so the part outside of China I’ll say is all nominated in dollars. So if there really was a de dollarization underway, why would the Chinese government be funding trillions of dollars of infrastructure in US. Dollars and not in CNY. Those loan agreements, those equity agreements, they’re all in USD.


By the way, I agree with you 100%. I am not particularly concerned about de dollarization, but I will going to push back for a tiny bit on something. Six, seven years ago, I would have said the notion of a dollar collapsing was a .1 percentage. And I think that’s changed and I think now it’s a 1% possibility, which I think is ridiculous for us to be making these moves. Poor stewardship of the currency, what we did in Russia, it’s at least something to be concerned about. Or you have no concern over it.


What’s the alternative? Like we’re all going to trust in the ECB? I’m sorry, it’s not the currency we want, but it’s the currency we have. Right? Right.

So if you look at the Fed’s behavior, the central bank itself matters a lot. It matters more than the currency itself. Okay?

And so if you look at the Fed’s behavior, they have meetings, they have notes, they respond to media and so on and so forth. Are they as transparent as we want them to be? No. Do they do the things we want them to do? No. Do they have a bunch of bureaucrats working with them? Yes, but when you look at other central banks on a relative basis, it’s actually better. Right, right. Sorry. Go ahead.


I tweeted something about a week ago, and I said, we don’t have to have a good currency. We can even have a shitty currency. We just have to have the best currency. Right? That’s what you’re saying, right?




It’s that best house on a bad block thing.


And I don’t say this to be dismissive at all. I take the dollar as the kind of US holder of value very seriously, but I’m just not sure what that other vehicle would be. Look at the structure of the European economy. It can’t be the euro. Right?

Look at the UK and some of the policy decisions they’ve made. It can’t be the pound. Look at China. I was talking with Michael Ncolettos about a month ago, and he was saying M two in China, the amount of M two issued in China is something like three times the value of their GDP. Okay?

Now, M two in the US is something like 90% of the value of GDP. Right?

So China has three to four times the amount of money in circulation compared to GDP when we make it relative to the US. Right.

So how can that be seen as a credible currency? They just are not managing the number of fund tickets that’s in their economy. Right.

And then again, when you look at Japan, look at their central bank policies, look at their demographic structure, the Japanese yen is just not a credible currency. So I just want to understand, first of all, what is a real currency that we can use? Not crypto, which is an asset. Okay.

And what is a central bank that we can trust, that has sufficient money in circulation, that is usable? And I think I don’t know of another solution right now. Again, as an American, I don’t want the dollar debased. I don’t want it abused. I don’t want all that stuff. I want solid money policy. Right.

Have we had it for a while? Actually, we haven’t. Right.

And so things need to change, and we need a more responsible, certainly more responsible spending in DC. And we need a more responsible Fed. But I think on a relative basis, it’s kind of the best we got.


So, Tony, I want to say this correctly. We have a responsible Fed, relatively speaking. Is that correct?


You guys agree with me, by the way.


I know again, that’s the worst house. What is that? The best house in the bed? I don’t know. They saw, but they’re the best one out there. So from a perspective of that, you think a soft landing is possible? Stop me anywhere where I misrepresent you. Okay? You think a soft landing is possible? Am I wrong on that?


I’ll say uncomfortably soft landing because we’re going to have chop at points, right? So, yeah, we can have an uncomfortably soft landing.


So I have come around to the idea that the Fed might be cutting rates. I don’t think this year the CME Fed watch tool has the first rate cut pricing in September if things are okay. So if things are okay, why the hell would they do that? And this is why. There seems to be this sort of mismatch between what people are trading and I want to stress the equity markets is not GDP, the economy is not stocks. Right. There’s been several times in history well, not several, but there have been times in history, 73, 74 in the US. Where GDP was strong and stocks were negative. Same thing with Japan in the 90s. They had good GDP, but their stock market couldn’t recover. So these things are detached. They’re not as correlated as people think. But if we actually have good earnings, which no one can argue, we had good tech earnings. Right. We have terrible market breadth still, but we had good tech earnings. May continue next week. We have 709 companies reporting next week.


With market exxon Chevron reporting really well. There are some parts of the economy that are doing corporate green. Corporate green.


Go on, Bob.


Why would they cut rates? Why would they if things are going to be semi? Okay, and Jimmy, this leads me I want to ask Tony respond to that, and then I have to get this question out because it was asked of me. You said in the last podcast that you think we’re going to have a nontraditional recession. What does that mean? So go ahead, Tony.


Okay, so I’ll just parrot what somebody said to me earlier today. They said bond investors are the worst investors over the last three years. Okay.


Small data set.


Sure. What’s that?


Small data set, right? Relatively speaking, yeah.


But they haven’t performed very well at all over the last three years. Right. And it’s largely bond investors who are looking at that because it affects their bonds. There is this persistent desire among bond investors to have a recession that’s just baked into the pessimism of being a bond investor, I guess. Right. And I think if we look at earnings, certainly, especially those reported over last week, but also when we have the globally systemic banks report a week and a half ago, those were not bad earnings at all. Right.

And are they telling us that we’re entering a recession? I just don’t see it. So I think September, like, again, I don’t want a recession by September, but I actually don’t think there will be a recession by September. I actually think that things are persistently strong again, because we have that strong nominal GDP growth with relatively high inflation. So if we had stagflation, we would have high inflation and a smaller GDP number than inflation. Right.


But I think with where we are now. I don’t see us kind of on the precipice going into Q Two, going to Q Three and saying, oh gosh, we’re going to fall off a cliff, right. I just don’t see that. And again, I think part of it is because people saw those government payments as one time or limited time, right? And people have kind of buckled down and said, this is over. We have to figure something else out, and they’ve just continued to spend.


So, Bobby, to answer the question that the viewer asked, and it kind of relates to what Tony just said too, about the payments, I think that there’s a massive change in our economic condition. I think there was massive wealth transferred from the bottom 60% to the upper 20%. I think those two people still have a shit ton of money. I ride the L. I ride public transportation in Chicago. The amount of people who appear to be living on the fringes has exploded to me, even when it was going on, I was saying to people, no, you’re going to get two $400 checks, and I’m going to get massive appreciation in the four homes I own and the stock market portfolios I own. This is favoring me, not you. And I think that that’s happened in a big, big way, and I think we don’t have the tools to calibrate and figure out we can do Ginny coefficients to measure wealth inequality, but I think there’s this massive wealth inequality, and I think the government then gets involved and tries to support the lower end. Makes it even worse. It’s a yoke, it’s not a gift. And I think we’re in kind of a fucked up way right now in our economic condition. Do either of you guys agree with me on that?


Tony, I don’t disagree with you, but when we see things like supercore inflation rising, that tells me that those wages for service workers are rising in a persistent manner. And I don’t think that’s all bad. Right.

I think that’s helping the folks at Walmart, the folks in the service sector, get better wages. And they’re not getting it through government regulation. They’re getting it through the market working. Right.

And so employers have realized they have to pay more. It’s not some local city government saying you have to pay $20 an hour or whatever. It’s the market working. Does it take a long time? It does, and that sucks, but the market is working. People who work at the lower end are getting more money. People who work in the middle are getting more money, and people in the middle of the US. Who have typically lagged pay rises on the coasts are getting more money now. Okay. And so we’re seeing that makes me feel better.




So markets are working again. Markets sometimes take a long time to work. Right. When it comes to pay, I do.


Worry that the government is going to see what I have identified, like I’m coming in to fix it. And we all know what happens when they fix it. Bobby, do you got another question before we go?


Well, no, I just want to add on to what you guys are talking about here. What you just said, Jimmy, and what Tony explained just as clearly is why I fear Stagflation so much, why I actually said to the people who pay us, stop paying us for a little while. Because in my opinion, by the way, if you join, if you hire complete intelligence, we will not be getting paid for that. So don’t worry, there’s no discount code here that’s coming out after the show. No, but what the government will do to try and fix Stagflation is the Fed ill advisedly, so fears a recession more than inflation? I think they should fear inflation more because inflation hurts the poor and it’s a tax on the poor. And the government, because they’ll be in election close by, will send out checks to help people deal with the inflation that’s still there while the economy is slowing down, which will just spark an even worse situation. So my fear is that if we get Stagflation, not only is Stagflation bad in and of itself, but the government’s response, and including the Fed in, that will be awful for 2025 and 2026, and for the lower middle class and the poor, it will be hell on earth.

If they do that in the next five or six years, they’ll crush people. And that’s my biggest fear about Stagflation, why I hope I’m wrong about it coming?


Well, we see what’s happening in Europe with the payment for energy.


So here, both of you, lightning round real quick. I’m sorry, Tony, I didn’t mean to talk over you. I just have one quick question. I do it all the time. Yeah, it’s a shortcut thing. Can we have stagflation if we don’t have high energy prices? Tony?


Yeah, of course. We can have all kinds of we can have high food prices and have stagflation. So I think having high energy prices would certainly make it easier. But sure, high food prices or high rents or high housing, that sort of thing, I mean, major components. Yeah, absolutely. We could do that.


My answer is very similar. Yes. But it would be a hell of a lot harder with low energy. Yes.


I just think of the cost push and the energy embargoes made it a lot easier. Let’s wrap it. Unless anyone’s got something real pressing that’s going to set everyone on their ear. Guys. Good.


Thank you so much.


Yes, it’s a lot of fun. I love to do a deep dive, particularly get to know you a little bit better. This is awesome. And thanks for plugging your AI. I think that’s a really cool thing. Have a great weekend. What are you doing tonight?


Tonight I’m just resting. It has been a dramatic week. So I’m just going to shut it down tonight as a Nerd dragons. That’s right.


I’m going to a figure skating competition that’s going to be 3 hours long for my niece. She’s not even my daughter. She’s not even blood to me. She’s my wife’s niece. And I’m going to a three goddamn hour figure skating competition.


You saved yourself by saying you’re going for a relative, so that way take.


It for the team. Jim exactly. Dads and uncles everywhere. I appreciate you.


She’s one of my favorite nieces, even though she’s not blood to me. But I really like her, so I’m glad to support her.




I will see you guys. Have a great weekend.


Thank you so much. Thank you.


Thanks, Tony.


The Powell Recession Is Here

This podcast is owned by BFM 89.9. Find the original source at

The spread between the 2-year and 10-year US treasuries has widened with markets saying that a Powell recession is here. We speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence as to whether he agrees. We also ask him if the recent aggressive job cuts by the tech and now finance sector will be part of the Federal Reserve’s decision-making process at the next FOMC meeting.



This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The Business Station. The World Market Watch is brought to you by CMB Preferred.


BFM 89.9. 7:06 Thursday, eight of December. And of course, you’re listening to the Morning Run with Chong Tjen San and I’m Wong Shou Ning. But in the meantime, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.

For US markets, the Dow closed flat, the S&P 500 was down by 0.2%. It’s the fifth consecutive day of declines and the Nasdaq was down 0.5%. In Asian markets, they were all in the rip. Nikkei was down 0.7%, Hang Seng was down 3.2%, the Shanghai Composit was down 0.4%, the Straits Times Index was down 0.8% and the FBM KLCI was down 0.3%.

So joining us on the line to tell us where markets are heading, we have Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Always good to speak to you. I want to start with Treasuries for a change, and the two-year and ten-year treasury rate spread is currently very wide. Is the bond market already telling us that a Powell recession is here?


Well, yeah, I think that’s part of it. I think that’s contributed to a lot of the discussion around the kind of perceived inevitability of a recession in 2023. And what we’ve been saying for months is we’re already there. We already saw negative GDP numbers in the US in the first two quarters of this year. The holdout is jobs. And now that we’re starting to see, some say, turnover in the jobs front, meaning it’s still strong, but it’s not as strong as it was two months ago, there is a feeling that we’re definitely headed in that direction.


And Tony, I like to tap your expertise on all market. The market is quite divided as to what the G7 price cap and the EU ban on Russian seabourn all will do to oil prices and crude supplies in the coming months. Can you give us some insights?


Yeah. So what’s happening actually today, Xi Jinping landed in Saudi Arabia for a meeting with GCC leads and Saudi Arabian government. So what’s happening in the oil market is the OPEC countries are being very open about the fact that China is the main price setter for global oil markets. And that really is kicking off with that meeting in the Middle East today. That’s been known for some time, but it hasn’t been as explicit and overt as it is today. We’re seeing more supply with things like Venezuelan crude coming on for the US. But we’re also seeing the price cap for Russia and which we know, pretty much know won’t work. Europeans will find a way to circumvent it, Russians will find a way to get crude on the market. And so that’s why we’re seeing weakness in crude prices.


But at the same time, Tony, we are seeing more positive news coming out of China. They are easing a range of COVID restrictions, including allowing people to quarantine at home rather than in centralized camps, suggesting that the economy is slowly easing out of the Zero COVID policy. Shouldn’t that be a reason for all prices to go up then?


Well, I think it will. And if you look at futures I looked a few days ago and a few months out, there’s definitely expectations for higher oil prices. But right now, if we’re looking at spot markets, there really isn’t that much expectation of things moving. So when you look beyond February, for example, there is an expectation that China opens. And yes, that is very positive for crude prices and that is one of the most important economic events in the world. We’re waiting for it, we all need it, whether you’re in Asia or the US or Europe. China opening is good for everybody, but it will be positive commodity prices and it will push those prices up.


Okay. How else can we position for this eventual reopening in terms of our portfolio? What should we be looking at?


Well, if we look at things like industrial metals, like copper, we’ve seen some really interesting action copper over the past few days on expectations of China opening up. Over the past, say, probably three or four days, we’ve seen some interesting action in Chinese tech and there’s expectation that Chinese tech and consumer goods will be very positive in the coming months. So we’re seeing that in equity prices right now. So those are some areas that I would look at and be paying attention to because they’ve already proven to have some positive traction. But that will likely improve as China’s opening accelerates.


And Tony still sticking to the topic of oil and energy commodities, the UK instituted a windfall tax on oil and gas recently. Why have they decided to go down that route? And what effect will that have on energy companies with major investments there?


Yeah, this came right after the COP meeting and it was a very populist move by the UK government, very populous move by the UK government. It didn’t make any sense commercially and it doesn’t make any sense in terms of energy strategy. We’ve already seen companies like Total and Shell pull back on announced investments that they plan to make in the UK and it’s already making energy prices higher in the UK. So I think the UK government’s calculation there was, we’re going to make a populist move and get some voters behind us, but it was really a really stupid move and they’re going to have to do an about face on that within a few months.


Okay, let’s talk about job cuts or the possibility of it. Yesterday we saw a raft of top US bankers warning of layoffs and freezing when it comes to hiring. What does this then mean for the US labor market?


We already saw this start in tech a couple of months ago and it’s just kind of cascading out to other industries. Right. And so first they announced job freezes. Then they announced job cuts, usually, right? And it’s in things like in banks, it starts in mortgages because house buying has slowed. And it’ll go into other areas, of course. And we’ve seen this in media, too, with BuzzFeed, and there are issues at other media companies because they’re having to compete in those CPM rates, meaning those advertising rates are declining because places like Facebook and Netflix and other places are getting more competitive on advertising. So it just means that companies have to get more productive.

So whether they’re tech companies or banks or media firms, companies are having to get more productive. What we saw through COVID generally, was margin expansion for companies. A lot of companies profits through, say, mid 2020 continued to expand because companies didn’t have to pay for certain things, but they could charge higher prices because people were working from home. They didn’t have to pay for certain things, but yet they could charge higher prices. What we’re seeing now is with wages rising as fast as they are and staying there, companies are having to pay more all around.

And the markets like mortgages or advertising or tech or whatever, they’re not where they were a year ago. So they’re having to cut heads. And you look at Facebook cutting like 13, 14% of their workforce. Look at what these other guys are doing. They’re realizing they’re way overstaffed given where we’re going in 2023.


Okay, so how does this then inform the Fed decision when they meet this month for the FOMC meeting? Because employment is another indicator that they watch is part of their twin mandate, isn’t it?


It is. It’s one of their mandates. So there are a couple of things that I’m watching. So first, last week we saw the jolts. This is the job openings, okay? And with jolts, we saw that really turn over, meaning the job openings has declined. Now, it’s still strong, but it’s really turned over in terms of we’re not the highest anymore. That was probably two months ago. So we’re starting to see a decline in the number of job openings and the rate of growth of job openings. And when you look at the employment data that came out, the strength in jobs is really in, say, lower level services and health care. Okay? So it’s not necessarily in the higher level, higher earning jobs as it was, say, a year ago. So we’re seeing I’m sorry to put it this way, but kind of lower quality jobs come through, and that’s when we can tell that it’s weakening. Those are the last to be strong before going into recession. They’re the first to be strong as you’re coming out of it. So what is the Fed looking at? Well, Powell talked about the lag effects of monetary policy at his Brookings speech last week.

And so I think the Fed is being really sensitive to the lag effects of their policy, and they’re likely going to still go with 50 basis points this month and next month.


All right, thank you very much. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, telling us at least forecasting what the Fed is going to do at the next FOMC meeting.

But very quickly, I want to talk about one stock that was really a bit of a COVID pandemic winner, and that is Gamestop. So their fiscal third quarter sales declined while its cash pile sharply dwindled as the brick and mortar retailer had been working to expand its digital presence. Now, for no reason, this stock actually went up. A lot to do with retail investors who just wanted to like, very bullish on this counter. But although the fundamentals weren’t great, there.

Was a documentary on this Gamestop, actually on Netflix. I watched. It was really interesting. So if you’re interested to see what really happened and how they actually lure retailers in and the retail battle between institutional investors and all the renowned hedge funds and how retailers actually trumped in the end, but maybe not in the end, for the moment, it is actually a very interesting documentary or show to watch on Netflix.

Well, because it’s one of those odd stocks, there isn’t much coverage. There’s actually three analysts, they all have a sell on this. Target price is $6. This morning. During regular hours, the stock was actually down one dollars and $0.13 is $22.26. And if you’re wondering whether who won in the end, don’t think the retailers won because on a year to date basis, the stock is down 40%. But up next, we’ll cover the top stories in the newspapers and portals. Stay tuned for that. BFM 89.9 the world market watch, is.

Brought to you by CMB preferred moving forward with you, visit CMB dot my for their preferential services. Be banking.

You have been listening to a podcast from BFM 89 nine, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the BFM app.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 18 Jul 2022: Biden’s Saudi Arabia trip 🛢️

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.

Key themes:

  1. Biden’s Saudi Arabia trip 🛢️
  2. USD🚀 rocket ship and fallout
  3. FOMC expectations (CPI/PPI)
  4. 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.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Time Stamps

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.

AM: Yeah.

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: Okay.

TN: Yes.

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?

SR: Yeah.

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.

SR: Correct.

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: Good.

AM: Yeah.

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.

TN: Okay.

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.

TN: Right.

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?

AM: Yeah.

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.

TN: Great.

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.

AM: Yeah.

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.

AM: Thanks, guys.


No Let Up in Fed Rate Hikes

This podcast first appeared and was originally published at on July 7, 2022.

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.

Show Notes

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.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 27 Jun 2022: The “R” Word

Get 3 months FREE of CI Futures:

Powell was out saying “I don’t think a recession is inevitable” but also admitted that rate hikes may be one of many factors that push the economy into recession. All of this while bank credit continues to grow, which we saw flatten in 2020 and decline in 2008. What’s happening? Is a recession inevitable at this point?

We talked about the dollar two weeks ago and the strength is still there. Are we pushing higher so commodities feel a bit cheaper to Americans? Is this temporary – mainly so Americans talk about cheaper gasoline over the July 4th holiday weekend? How far and how long do you expect the dollar to go? Why?

Can crude continue to rally into a recession?

Key themes:

  1. The “R” Word
  2. Geopolitical fallout
  3. Crude 💪 or 👎/ Dollar 🚀
  4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 23rd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Time Stamps

0:00 Start
1:03 Key themes for the week
1:48 Powell’s recession call
3:48 The catalysts that could whip growth
6:58 Geopolitics in EMs and related to the US
8:35 Is the ECB a risk as well?
11:00 Crude and the Dollar
16:00 Where do you expect the dollar to go?
19:00 The week ahead

Listen on Spotify:


TN: Hi, everybody, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. We’re joined as always, by Tracy, Sam, and Albert. Thanks, guys, for joining us. Before we get started, please, like, please subscribe, please comment. We read all of them and try to respond to all of them. So please go ahead and do that while you’re here. Also, we are running a summer promo for CI Futures. This is our market forecast subscription product. You get three free months, so please go to and learn all about it.

So this week there’s a lot going on, a lot politically in markets, other stuff. We’re talking about three main themes this week. First is the R word. Second is geopolitical fallout of the R word. And third is crude and dollar activity. So I ran a poll earlier this week asking what is the most widely held consensus view that people are seeing right now? And that’s on screen, of course. So first is recession. People are seeing recession as a consensus view all over the place. Next is equities lower, followed by crude higher, followed by a stronger dollar. So we’re going to talk about all these things today.

Sam, let’s talk about that recession call. That recession consensus call. Powell is out this week saying, I don’t think a recession is inevitable after being really hawkish last week and driving people kind of to the edge of this. So what’s actually happening right now? We’re seeing credit continue to grow. And I know I showed you earlier this week. Bank credit continues to grow. Is that meaningful? And what are you looking at to know if we’re going into recession or not?

SR: Yeah, I mean, bank credit, is meh. But at the same time, are we going into a recession? Meh. I don’t really think so. It’s a booming summer. You have hotels full, you have bars and restaurants full. You have airlines unable to keep up with demand. I mean, that sounds like a small subset of the economy, but at the same time, that is a massive portion of the summer economy. It’s massive. So do I think we’re imminently in a recession? No. I actually think that’s one of the big narratives that kind of misses the bigger point, right? Do we make goods? No, we don’t make anything. What we do is we have services. That’s it. So we’re a service based economy. If services are booming, you’re not going into a recession. You’re unlikely to see some sort of huge move in unemployment because a recession technically is down on growth, down on employment.

If you don’t have the down on employment, you don’t have a recession. So maybe you have a slowing of growth. That’s somewhat probable. But a recession, no, not in the cards, at least until the back half this year. In the back half of this year, you have a number of catalysts which could really whip things the other way in terms of both growth.

TN: Okay, so what are some of those catalysts. And when you say back, you’re talking about October? November?

SR: Yes, October. November.

TN: My thinking is if we’re going to see it, we’re going to start seeing it maybe late September, October or something like that. But what are some of those catalysts you’re talking about? A couple of them?

SR: The catalysts then are actually to the gross side, which I think is where I’ll take the opposite side of a lot of people. Those catalysts are called a devolving of the Ukraine conflict. Number one, while that doesn’t take off sanctions in the near term, it does take off the incremental oops.

Then you have the beginning of the reopening of China, which is a big boost to growth in Europe, and secondarily, LatAm and the United States. So you put those pieces together and all of a sudden you’re looking at a back half of the year that has more upside catalysts, potentially. And it’s not like you can reset down China and it’s going to be a negative callus. It’s already in the numbers. It’s not like you can have another war in Ukraine that’s already in the numbers. If you begin to have those two come together, guess what? That’s positive. So I would say the rest of this year is shaping up to be oddly positive.

TN: Yes, but no, I’m kidding. Everyone’s so negative right now. Everyone wants to just find the downside. Russia is going to invade finland or something like that, right?

SR: Yeah. Here’s the play. I would say 3600 is a lot less likely than 43.

TN: I like that.

SR: On the S&P.

TS: I think what we’re going to see is kind of like a balance, right? Where we see services really big this summer, especially in the travel industry, hospitality industry, which we will see taper off this fall, which is not unusual. That always tapers off this fall. But we also see airline prices increasing, so people have booked their summer vacations in Q1. Those people are going to fall off. So I think we’ll see a push. We’ll see a pullback in that industry, but we could see growth in industries that Sam is mentioning.

TN: Great.

SR: Just to throw in there, we have to remember that at some point we have to refill supply chains on the drivable stuff, and those supply chains are at bone zero right now. It will require a whole bunch of employment, a whole bunch of production, and will actually have a fairly significant thrust to GDP. Our production has been zero.

TN: That’s great. My poll is wrong, which is awesome. I love that.

SR: I would bet against every single thing that your poll said.

TN: Perfect. I love that. Okay, so if you’re in the US, that holds. But let’s switch, Albert, to kind of say geopolitical risk and some other things. Obviously, Sri Lanka two months ago started falling apart and not started, but really fell apart. We’ve seen Ecuador and other places really start falling apart.

Albert, what are you seeing, geopolitically, and what are you seeing in EMs related to what’s happening in the US?

AM: I don’t really like focusing on EMs at this moment just because they’re not big enough to really cause a problem in the markets. In my opinion. I’m looking squarely at the European Union right now.

It’s suspicious that we come out with US bank tests and then we come out with EU bank tests and then literally a day later, the Germans come out and say, we could have a Lehman moment across the economy just because of these gas shortages that are happening.

TN: By the way, your tweet about the German Lehman moment up.

AM: Yeah. And this goes back to just the topic we were just talking about, recession. You really need some kind of catalyst or something to break. And the only thing that I could even contemplate of breaking and causing a “recession” would be the European Union going through another financial crisis. You have a contagion that probably leaks over to the United States financial markets and the Putin price hikes become a thing again, justifies any kind of QE that the Federal want to do, probably in Q four this year. Geopolitically, the EU is my target right now to look at.

TN: Okay. It’s energy supply chains. Is the ECB a risk as well? Is there a risk that they tighten too fast or too much or anything?

AM: How are they going to have to I mean, the inflation over there is climbing just as fast as the United States and it’s causing problems across the board.

SR: I would double down on that and say that Qatar, right after we had the train go down in Corpus Christi, came out and said, yeah, we’ll send gas to the European Union. Just sign a 20 year deal.

TN: Right. And they did. Right?

SR: European Union is not going to do that. I mean, nobody in Europe is going to do that. It was kind of like, we got your back, but give us a long term agreement and we’ll do it.

The irony of it is that you have a crisis going on in Europe. There was a dragon moment of do whatever right, anything.

TN: Sorry, Tracy. What’s that?

TS: Self imposed crisis? Their energy crisis is literally self imposed.

TN: Yeah. Okay.

AM: There’s no question that is self imposed. The European Union’s leadership has been atrocious. I mean, they’ve had the worst energy policy you could possibly think of that hampers their economic engine for the last two, three decades. I mean, you can just throw a dart at the board and pick whatever policy they’ve come up with. It has been an absolute disaster.

TN: Why is that? Why are they making such stupid well.

AM: They’ve made such a big swing to the left, the leftist voters, and they’re just climate Nazis. They won’t even discuss nuclear.

SR: We’re literally talking.

AM: They won’t even discuss nuclear power, which is absurd. They’re like, what if something goes bad like Fukushima? Oh, yeah. What if a dam breaks? Or what if a coal plant blows up? Or, God forbid, what if 10,000 Germans freeze to death because you don’t have gas stored because you didn’t have any proper management? I mean, they’re really bad at managing what’s going on without the United States holding their hand and directing what to do.

TN: Well said. Fantastic. Okay, so since we focus a little bit on energy there, Tracy, let’s swing to talk about crude and the dollar. So, our friend Josh Young posted something about kind of energy could potentially outperform this sort of stuff and really kind of looking back to the 1970s.

So it really looked like we were heading there until this week, and then we saw things really come down this week, in terms of, say, WTI, natural gas, other things. What’s going on there?

TS: I think it depends on what you’re looking at. If you were looking at frontline crude oil price, that’s one thing where a lot of speculators are involved in. If you’re looking at the spreads, it’s you’re looking at the crack spreads that are still exploding. If you’re looking at calendar spreads that are up again this week, that pretty much tells you that we put a floor under front month crude price, regardless of who is involved in what specs are involved in the industry right now. Because the spreads are really what I consider will tell you really where things are going. Right.

So we kind of have a floor night. Yes, oil had a bad week. We saw a lot of selling on downtime in markets and things of that nature. I don’t think that doesn’t change the overall fundamentals of the market. Right? I mean, we’re still fundamentally structurally undersupplied.

TN: So I’m going to ask a really dumb question here. I’m sorry if I may hear it.

SR: But we know.

TN: So are we seeing a short term sell off? Is it politically driven so that when Americans get together on July 4, they can say, gosh, gas is really down this week, and then you have a three day weekend where people are talking about that and then it rocket ships up after the fourth?

TS: Well, I think it’s a combination of most things. I think this week recession scares, we’re really the big driver for that market because everybody’s thinking we’re going to have a recession.

SR: That and the potential of having an export ban.

TS: Right.

TN: Recession, export ban, and July 4th.

TS: An export ban. That said, and I kind of tweeted this out, having an export ban, especially a fuel export ban, would make things obviously worse.

First of all, it’ll raise prices for the EU prices abroad, which after all of this with Ukraine, do we really want to hurt the EU that much? Because we supply them with one to 1.3, 1.5 million barrels per day of diesel, which they are having a huge problem. So really, are we going to abandon the you at this point? Also…

TN: My Texas friends would love to have more diesel to power their ram trucks.

TS: But the thing is that what happens is the fuel flows get so disrupted is that we’re going to have to see refineries cut run significantly in the US. Which is going to ultimately raise prices. We may see deepen prices initially, but you’re going to see higher prices ultimately.

SR: I’ll push back on that because you have a lot of storage, but you didn’t have a lot of storage before. So you don’t have to cut back on runs. You can put into storage at a pretty profitable rate because of forward selling basically all of your inventory right now. I would push back on you have to cut runs at this point.

TS: And I’m going to push back on that. We have to look at the east coast. Right. And so that’s looking at gasoline runs to make a barrel. Diesel requires a lot more oil than it does say to make gasoline. And so if we see a diesel problem, we’re going to have to cut back on this runs. I think it depends on what coast you’re looking at and what area you’re looking at.

TN: All we care about is Texas and Florida. Right.

SR: You have a lot of places to store gasoline. I mean, it’s not like we have an oversupply gasoline at the moment.

TN: It’s true. Our bob’s down this week too, right. So it’s tight.

AM: It’s interesting, Tony, it’s funny. One thing that you said July 4 and one thing that Tracy said, thinly traded is that hilariously every time we need a rally in the market during the thinly traded holiday hours, crude goes down, dollar goes down and the market goes up almost by magic on the thinly traded holiday hours. Something you should watch.

SR: University of Michigan. Come on.

TN: It’s a big driver. University of Michigan. Okay, so let’s move on. You mentioned the dollar, Albert, and so if we look at the dollar, obviously it’s near highs for the decade and that’s great if you’re in the US buying dollar denominated commodities. But elsewhere in the world it’s really hard. Right. So where do you expect the dollar to go? I can’t remember what you’ve said your expected target is. Possibly? 110. Possibly 120. So if it hits 120, Japanese Yen is at what, like 160? 170? something like that?

AM: 163,164? My calculation… This is something Yellen has done in 2012. It’s nothing new. She’s driven the dollar up. She’s out into Europe talking that she’s going to take the dollar up to 110. So this is nothing new. Everyone knows what’s going to happen. Everyone’s watching it. So we’re at 104 something today, just sitting there and hasn’t really done anything. Last day or so. Another 5% up is not a big deal for the dollar.

TN: So you see Yellen driving a stronger dollar. Sam, what do you see?

SR: I would say that I hate taking the other side. I’m going to take the other side.

TN: Great.

SR: I’m going to say that Yellen’s ability to control the dollar is de minimis at this point, mostly because the Fed is tapped out. But you already had a 4% terminal rate for Fed funds priced in two weeks ago. Today you’re sitting at basically 3.65%. So you’ve got the peak, in my opinion, priced in for the FOMC hiking cycle and now you’re on the other side of that. So I would say JPY, you’re probably looking at above 10.

TN: Oh, wow, okay, great.

SR: And you’re probably looking at a Euro at 108. 109. And it doesn’t really matter if they go into a recession because they’re… Right. The US is going to back off in incremental steps the long end of the hiking cycle and…

TN: Perfect.

SR: The dollar prices is long end of the hiking cycle and Yellen can do a lot of things. What she can’t do is increase the internal rate.

TN: That’s great.

AM: The thing is, the treasury sets USD policy, so she can certainly drive it up. I don’t know how much ammo she has left because it’s gone up. But we’ll see.

TN: Okay, perfect. That’s great. So we’ve covered almost everything in that survey and almost everything was wrong.

SR: I told you everything was I would take the other side of every single one of those.

TN: Perfect. Okay, let’s talk about the week ahead. We have month end and quarter end coming next week, right? So what does that mean for the week ahead? Everyone else.

TS: Can I go?

TN: Yes, you go Tracy.

TS: I don’t know. What I’m looking at for the week ahead is the last week of the month. Of the month and the quarter. Right. So we have roughly about $100 billion of US equities that need to be purchased over the next five trading sessions. We have a rebalance in the RTY. So we should see a lot of inflows, roughly 5.98 point billion of inflows into the US equity markets just because of the rebalance factor.

We should probably see outflows in the bond market and then that’s walking into a backdrop of negative dealer gamma. So we have the potential of a shot higher in the market.

TN: Sam? Sam?

SR: Yeah. I would say everything Tracy said in terms of the risk seems to be to the upside. I would also say it looks pretty scary when you walk into the end of the month in terms of the way the dollar chart looks right now.

You walk into the end of the month with a dollar chart looking like it’s ready, looking ready to gap down, and you have oil where it’s at. You could have a very interesting quarter end in terms of risk assets. You have a weaker dollar. You have a big buy on SPY, RTX, et cetera, or SPX, not SPY. You begin to put those pieces together and you begin to have a pretty risk on into the quarter that could be very interesting very quickly.

You get any positive headlines out of China in terms of lockdowns, you get any positive headlines out of Ukraine in terms of ceasefires, whatever BS they want to leak. Then all of a sudden you’re more upside. So I would say skewed to the upside through the beginning of July.

TN: Sam, you’re optimistic today. That’s amazing.

SR: I know. And contrarian.

TN: Optimistic and contrarian. I love it. Okay.

AM: Yeah, I mean, I agree mostly with Sam. I think just because the market is so thinly traded, the dollar should be chopping around probably on the downside a little bit, just for the week up until July 4 weekend, so long as the Europeans don’t come out and start saying any more Lehman things, Lehman crash things and all of a sudden dollar shoots up just because of fear factor out of the European side. But I don’t think that’s going to materialize over the next week, probably next couple of weeks.

After that, I think 30 days, we’re starting to look at possibly something that happened in the European Union. But for the week ahead.

TN: Fantastic. So the past three days carries into the next week. Fantastic.

AM: Yeah.

TN: Okay, guys, thank you very much. Thanks for your time. Thanks for all the stuff you passed along, and have a great week ahead. Thank you.

AM: All right, thanks.

TS, SR: Thank you.


Fed Chair Jay Powell Utters Dreaded ‘R’ Word

With Fed Chair Jerome Powell admitting that a recession is inevitable in the US, the narrative now turns to its timing and magnitude. Tony Nash, CEO, Complete Intelligence, helps clear the air.

This podcast first appeared and was originally published at on June 23, 2022.

Show Notes

SM: BFM 89.9. Good morning. You are listening to The Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Khoo Hsu Chuang and Wong Shou Ning at on Thursday the 2020 3 June. In half an hour, we’re going to get an update on the situation in Sri Lanka and what the most viable path out of the economic quagmire that they find themselves in at the moment. But first, as always, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.

WSN: Guess what? Every market was down. Every single market that we cover, at least, the down nested were down zero 2%. SMP 500, down zero 1%. Nikki, two to five in Japan was down 0.4%. Hong Seng, Hong Kong, down 2.6%. Shanghai was down 1.2%. Straight times Index in Singapore down 0.8%. And our very own FBM KLCI having a bit of a bad day. It was down 1.8%.

SM: So, mark it’s all in the red this morning. For some thoughts on why, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks, as always, for joining us. Now, the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell came closest to admitting that a recession is inevitable, as engineering a soft landing would be challenging. These are remarks that he made overnight. Does this mean a less hawkish stance by the central bank going forward, do you think?

TN: Well, I think what they’re trying to do is kind of moderate the perception of their hawkish actions that they’ve taken over the past two months. So you have interest rates, rate rises happening, but you also have quantitative tightening starting as well, which means that the Fed is selling assets on their balance sheet. And what quantitative tightening does is it takes currency out of the market, so the money supply is smaller, which makes that currency more valuable, and it puts pressure on, say, equities and other things because money is not as easy. So, yeah, I think they’re trying to help people not see things as hawkish as they are, but they’re still trying to talk down inflation.

KHC: Yes. Tony, so the narrative existingly for recession is further out in 2023, but there’s one or two banks now in the US saying that 2022, the latter half could be the recession. What’s your opinion?

TN: Yeah, I think look, we already had a negative GDP number in Q1, so it’s quite possible that we see another one in, say, Q3 or something like that. What’s interesting to me is total commercial lending is still rising. So we saw total commercial lending, I’m not talking about consumer credit, I’m talking about bank lending. And so we saw in 2008, we saw in 2020, bank lending either declined or flattened here. It’s still on a steep curve. So that tells me that there’s still activity in the economy that people aren’t completely afraid. Yet you do see commercial and industrial loans still growing in the US as well. So I don’t necessarily think there’s a huge amount of say over the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to see people use the word depression. And we see this every time there’s a recession. People take it to an extreme. I’m not quite sure we’re there yet. A lot of people act like it’s a no brainer. We’re already in a recession, but we saw that in Q1. It doesn’t feel good. We may see it later in the year as well.

WSN: Okay, so, Tony, we know that the technical definition of a recession is two quarters of negative growth. Assuming that happens, so we have a technical recession. Just curious, how painful will this recession be? How long will it take for recovery? Or is it too early to try and make a guess on this?

TN: No, I think typically recessions are probably two quarters. Even if they’re say a shallow recession, what typically happens is the job losses are the most painful. And so we’ve heard so much over the past a year and a half about talent shortages and this sort of thing, and a lot of jobs unfilled. So what’s happening now is the investors and the banking analysts are transitioning their expectation on company performance. So during Covid, they were like, basically saying, look, just hold it together, don’t go belly up as a business, just keep running. And we’ll have a wide birth of kind of loss and other stuff for you. During COVID, we’re normalizing now. So analysts are pushing very hard for management teams to produce normal metrics for performance, and many of them aren’t doing it. And we saw with some of the retail numbers and some other numbers coming in, so what’s going to hurt the most is layoffs. And that’s going to come even with a shallow recession, we’re going to see layoffs. Will that happen now? We’ve seen that in tech. I wouldn’t expect other layouts to start until probably Q3. So that’s what’s going to hurt and finding jobs, it’s going to hurt coming out of this.

KHC: Yeah. Another metric, Tony, I saw that house prices continue to ratchet higher. I think average home prices in the US is nearly half a million US dollars. Do you see any kind of impact in terms of maybe a correction on that price rent?

TN: Yeah. So when we look at, say, the median home price in the US. It’s $428,000. Okay. So just under the 500 you mentioned. Now in January of this year, if you took out a mortgage in the US. Which the term for mortgage in the US. Is typically 30 years. So if you took out a 30 year mortgage, your monthly payment would have been around $1,700. Okay. In June. Now, that same size mortgage would cost you $2,500 a month. Okay. So we have $700 more a month just over the last six months. That hurts. So I think we’re starting to feel the pinch. There’s still demand for housing, but the affordability of housing has really dried up. It’s really hard for people to get the house that they want or need, and people are either choosing to stay in place or they’re just buying something of lower quality or different location or something.

SM: So, Tony, let’s switch over to what’s happening in Europe. The Eurozone’s first quarter GDP growth rose 0.6% on a quarterly basis and 5.4% on a yearly one. What do you make of these numbers? Do they show that Europe might avoid a recession this year?

TN: Yes, I think that’s going to be really hard. Europe is on really weak ground because they’ve had negative interest rates for quite some time now, and the ECB is talking about coming out of a negative interest rate stance. So when you look at that in Q One, you already had household consumption at a negative growth rate, negative 0.7% quarter on quarter, and you had public expenditures. So government spending down zero, quarter on quarter. So households and governments are spending less than they were the previous quarter. So it looks pretty bad. You even have things like fixed capital formation, which is kind of long term hard investments like roads and buildings and stuff. It rose just over zero. So Europe is really on this thin edge of having a growing economy or not. And so I think with rising interest rates in Europe and energy prices and other inflationary pressures, it’s going to be really hard for Europe to stay out of recession this year.

WSN: Tony, I want to ask about currency, because if you look at the Bloomberg spot in dollar, it’s up 7% on a year to date basis. Of course, in every other country is feeling the pinch. What is your view on the dollar? Is it bad or good for the economy?

TN: It depends on where you are. What the treasury and the Fed are trying to do right now is strengthen the dollar so that these commodities that are nominated in dollars or priced in dollars go down for American consumers. Okay, so you source copper globally, you appreciate the dollar. The price of copper goes down just by function of the currency that it’s nominated in. That’s fine for American consumers and American companies. But if you’re in a developing or in middle market or even just not America, look at Japan, right? Their currency has depreciated dramatically. And for, say, Japanese to buy things that are normally priced in US. Dollars, it’s, I think, 26% more expensive than it was, say, six months ago. Okay, so it hurts if you’re outside of the US. So what has to be done? Well, for countries that are importing things that are based in dollars, so energy and food and other things, they’re going to have to raise their interest rates and tighten fiscally and other things. Otherwise those products just get more and more expensive in local currency terms. So it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a rough time for emerging markets, especially.

KHC: Yeah. Tony switching our attention to Hong Kong, China. There’s a report coming from the city state that John Lee, the new CEO, is working on a strategy to reopen borders with China. Do you think this pretends, maybe a relaxation of the covered rules within China itself?

TN: I hope so, guys. Really, I mean, Asia and the world really needs China to loosen their covert rules. They’re the second largest economy in the world. They’re the major manufacturer for the world. They are the bottleneck for the global economy. So we hear about how Ukraine, the Russia Ukraine war, is impacting inflation. That is nothing compared to what China is doing with bottlenecking manufacturing and trade. So we really need to encourage China to open up. And I did some analysis a few weeks ago. There is, on average, one covet death reported per day in China. Okay? So China is closed for a one over 1.4 billion chance of dying. Okay? So that’s like 70 to the right of the decimal point before the first number appears in a percentage term. So there’s a minuscule chance of dying and they’re closing for that. So it just doesn’t make economic sense, it doesn’t make public health sense for them to close. So we really need to encourage China to open up so that the rest of the world economy heals.

SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks to come, ending there with an appeal to the Chinese government to please open your borders.

WSN: Please. Because I think what’s very disruptive is also this constant opening and then closing and opening and closing, and we can see the impact of that, especially when it comes to supply chain disruptions, like China still the factory to the rest of the world. But very quickly, I think we also have news coming out of us, and this is so much related to inflation because President Joe Biden has basically called on US. Congress to suspend the federal tax for 90 days. Currently, the federal tax stands at $0.18 for a gallon of regular gasoline and $24 per gallon of diesel fuel. So basically trying to calm down. I think also as America goes into summer holidays and driving season starts and I think we’ve seen prices as much as $5, $6 per gallon, which is a shocker to most households. So this is him, I think, making the political overtures that, yes, I’m aware inflation is a problem and let’s try and do something. But I think whether he can get the bipartisan support is always a problem in the US.

KHC: Yeah, we follow the local US papers over the past seven days, actually, he’s been introducing on a day by day basis different, different measures to try and address gas prices, which is of course, a political hot potato in the US.

SM: Very quickly, the UK still sticking on prices? Inflation has hit a 40 year high in the UK of 9.1% on a year on year basis. In May, it’s the highest rate out of the G Seven countries, and it was even higher than the 9% increase recorded in April. So inflation not abating in the UK. 719 in the morning. We’re heading into some messages. And when we come back, how are businesses embracing ESG in their strategies and frameworks? Stay tuned to BFM 89 Nine.


Major Headwinds Heading To The US Housing Market?

This podcast first appeared and originally published at on May 26, 2022.

The VIX or the “fear gauge” has been trading sideways but what does it indicate about equity market expectation? And US home sales in April fell to their lowest in 9 years, brought down by rising mortgage rates but how adversely will this impact the property and construction sector? Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence tells us more.

Show Notes

SM: Bfm 89 Nine. Good morning. You are listening to the morning run at on Thursday the 26th May. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Khoo Hsu Chuang and Tan Chen Li. First, let’s recap how global markets closed overnight in the US.

KHC: Doll up zero 6%. Smp 500 up 1%. Nasdaq up 1.5%. Asian markets. Nikay down .3% Hong Kong’s up 3%. Shanghai Composite up 1.2%. Sti down .5% FBN KLCI up zero 3%.

SM: So for some thoughts on what’s moving markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Let’s get some reactions on US markets overnight. They interpreted the latest Fed meetings pretty favorably. It seems the US stocks all inched upwards. What did they find reassuring about the Fed’s policy direction?

TN: I think they were just looking for some direction that things weren’t going to be worse than the guidance that they received previously because commodity prices haven’t stopped rising necessarily. And so I think people were afraid that the Fed might accelerate their plan to stop inflation and just a little bit of a nudge that they probably weren’t going to do that and they were going to remain flexible, probably help things out after hours. You had Nvidia report, which was really disappointing. And so the Nasdaq futures are down pretty far right now. So although we had a good trading today, things are looking a little bit pessimistic for tomorrow based on some earnings.

TCL: Yeah. So the Fed translators have a TLDR conclusion on the Fed minutes yesterday. We have it at three more basis, 50 basis points hikes, and then an indefinite pause. Tony, what do you think about that translation?

TN: So I think what they’re saying is where investors are seeing say for the next six months that things will be pretty stable. They can Bake in the 250 basis point rises, and from there it’s pretty easy to calculate how much tolerance you have. The other factor to think through is how much the Fed will tighten for the next six months. And that’s already baked in how much they’re tightening their balance sheet. And I think that’s $23 billion a month, or 32. I can’t remember the number exactly, but it’s a stable number, and that’s really unlikely to accelerate.

TCL: Tony, does it set the stage for a second half risk rally?

TN: Yeah, it possibly could because it’s campaign season and nobody really wants to be tightening going into a campaign. So it’s possible. There’s a lot of talk about recession, and if there is a recession, we’re already in the middle of it. So there’s no sense kind of worrying about it because it’s already here. If that’s the case, we already had a first quarter contraction in US GDP. If we have a second quarter, we’re already halfway through that anyway, almost so or two thirds of the way through that. So it doesn’t really matter that much. And I think people are starting to look at that in a different light.

KHC: The CTO volatility index or the fear gauge has been moving sideways between 25 and 35 over the last month. What would that trading pattern indicate about equity market expectations?

TN: Yes. So the VIX really is it measures volatility of SMP 500 options over the next 30 days. And so it tells me that there is, I would say heightened sensitivity or elevated volatility expected. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s extreme. So it doesn’t appear that people are looking for some sort of extreme, say May or April 2020 type of event. So people are worried about further falls in equities for their pullbacks in equities. But I don’t necessarily based on what we’re seeing in the VIX, not necessarily seeing people expect things to fall off a cliff.

SM: And I think looking at how the rise in interest rates, what kind of impact has been having so far, we may be seeing that in US home sales because in April it fell to their lowest in nine years. But what other headwinds do you see facing the US housing market and how do you think it’s going to impact property and the construction sector moving forward?

TN: Yes. People in the US talked about supply like there’s a short supply on the market or not enough supply. In May, we actually went up to nine months of housing supply on the market. What that means is the number of, say, homes that are on the market, given the current pace of buying, would last for nine months. Of course, there is short supply in some markets, but in general, there seems to be across the US at least ample supply. So people are going to pull in their expectations for price given that interest rates have risen. But if they continue to rise, they’ll want to rush their purchases forward, which is possibly what we’ll see, especially over the next 30 days or so, because people always want to save a little bit more on the interest rate. So I don’t see a lot unless we start seeing mass layoff events or something like that. I’m not sure how much of this you see Malaysia, but we did see a lot of all cash buyers for houses in the US. And what’s been happening there is people will take out a loan, a cash loan against their equity portfolio.

TN: We will definitely see that stop because equities are not as relevant as they were 60, 90 days ago. There have been some calls on those loans and so some of those transactions have had to stop. So I think that’s what’s led part of what’s led to a little bit more supply on the market and may slow down some of the purchase transactions.

TCL: Yeah. Tony is still on properties. I think I read somewhere that the median home price in America across the whole country is somewhere around either 349,000, $391,000 per house, which is the highest it’s ever been in a number of years. Do you see that house inflation continuing to creep upwards, or do you think it’s kind of like peaks off and it’s going to taper off?

TN: I think we do have a lot of new houses under construction, so I don’t necessarily think we’ll see that continue to rise at the rate that we’ve seen. If we do, we’ll continue for a period, maybe six to twelve months or something. But I don’t necessarily see house prices continue to rise, especially with interest rates rising. If we had kept interest rates where they were, then sure, we’d continue to see house prices rise at that rate, but because they’re pulling that lever, I think they’re going to let it sit, of course, as Palo said, for a period of time. But if house prices continue to rise in an uncontrolled way, I think they’ll come back in and intervene with interest rates.

KHC: And with India now restricting sugar exports and Malaysia doing the same with chicken, where is the trend towards food protectionism headed, and are we looking at a global food crisis?

TN: Yeah, I think your last question first. Yeah, I think we are definitely looking at a global food crisis. Well, maybe not global a regional food crisis in certain regions. Of course, there have been protests in Iran, supposedly over food prices. We’ve seen issues in Sri Lanka, of course, places like Egypt, different countries. There are problems. But I think some of this is related to Ukraine’s inability to export Ukraine and Russia’s inability to export some of their goods. And yeah, some of it’s protectionist with sugar in India and other things. But I think the countries that are holding back exports are more focused on providing for their citizens, and I think they’re trying to visually make sure that their citizens see that as a priority. So the citizens aren’t protesting and upset. And if we look at what’s happening in Pakistan right now, so citizens aren’t protesting and upset. So the political leadership is actually seen to be doing something to hold some food back for their clients or their citizens as a hedge against inflation. So I think part of it is political. I know it’s a little bit protectionist, but I think it’s more just being very careful about being prudent for their citizens.

SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, weighing in on some of the trends that he sees moving markets, commenting on, I suppose his outlook for the housing sector in the US, which has taken a different trajectory from Malaysia, which are housing hasn’t really gone anywhere for the past two, three years, six years, actually.

TCL: Yeah. In fact, since 2014. But I just checked some of the data from America, the Fred statistics from the St. Louis Fed prices. The median house price in America is $430,000. Of course, median is the middle number between the top and bottom, $430,000 per house in America. That’s average let’s reach out what 1.8 million ring? That’s a lot of money.

SM: That’s inflation for you 717. In the morning we’re heading into some messages. And after that all you should know about green bonds in the region. Stay tuned to BFM 89.9.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 09 May 2022

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?

Key themes:

  1. What the F just happened? (F for Fed)
  2. What the F is next? (F for Fed)
  3. 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.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Listen to the podcast on Spotify:


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.

TN: Right.

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.

TN: Sam?

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.

SR: Yes.

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.

TN: Okay.

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.

TN: Fascinating.

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.

TN: Okay.

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.

TN: Okay.

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.

TN: Okay.

TS: And that’s to be expected. One thing that the market did was that they increased margins. Thank you.

TN: Yeah.

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.

AM: Yeah.

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.

AM: Thanks, Tony.

SR: Thank you, Tony.


Business and Market Discussion

This podcast was originally published in

Surging energy and food prices in the United States have sent inflation to a 40-year high. Consumer prices rose 8.5% in March, the fastest annual gain since December 1981. The monthly rise was 1.2%, the fastest jump since September 2005 and a sharp acceleration from February’s 0.8% increase. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin says peace talks with Ukraine have reached a “dead-end” and he accused Ukraine of deviating from agreements reached in Turkey. He said Russia’s “military operation” will continue, blaming Ukraine for “inconsistency in key issues” from talks and “fake claims” about war crimes.

The World Trade Organisation said that global trade could be cut almost in half and is expected to grow by 2.4% – 3% in 2022, lower than its previous estimate of 4.7% in October due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The WTO said the war could lower global GDP growth by 0.7-1.3 percentage points to somewhere between 3.1% and 3.7%. 

Sri Lanka said yesterday it will temporarily default on its foreign debts amid its worst economic crisis in over 70 years. The country was due to pay a US$1bn international sovereign bond in July, part of a total of US$7bn of debt payments due this year. Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves stood at US$1.93bn at the end of March. 

Shanghai saw a drop in new Covid cases on Tuesday after ten straight days of record highs. The financial hub reported 23,342 new local cases for the day, compared with just over 26,000 the day before. However, it was being reported on Tuesday that authorities were backing away from lifting restrictions in several thousand low-risk areas. Residents can move around within their compounds but are still barred from venturing out onto the streets if their surroundings belong to higher-risk areas. Officials ordered another round of mass testing, at least the seventh in 10 days, in the highest lockdown zones. 

On today’s Money Talk we’re joined by Dickie Wong from Kingston Securities, Carlos Casanova of UBP and Tony Nash, Founder & CEO & Chief Economist at Complete Intelligence.

Show Notes

PL: This is Radio Three Money Talk. Good morning. It’s eight in Hong Kong. Welcome to Money Talk on Radio Three. From me, Peter Lewis. Here are the top business and finance headlines for Wednesday, 13 April. Surging energy and food prices in the United States have sent inflation to a 40 year high. Consumer prices rose 8.5% in March, the fastest annual gain since December 1981. The monthly rise was 1.2%, the fastest jump since September 2005 and a sharp acceleration from February’s zero 8% increase. Russian President Vladimir Putin says peace talks with Ukraine have reached a dead end, and he accused Ukraine of deviating from agreements reached in talks in Turkey. He said Russia’s military operation will continue, blaming Ukraine for inconsistency in key issues and fake claims about war crimes. The World Trade Organization said that global trade could be cut almost in half and is expected to grow by 2.4% to 3% in 2022, lower than its previous estimate of 4.7% in October due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Wto said the war could lower global GDP growth by zero 7% to 1.3 percentage points. Sri Lanka said yesterday will temporarily default on its foreign debts amid its worst economic crisis in over 70 years.

The country was due to pay a $1 billion international sovereign bond in July, part of a total of $7 billion of debt payments due this year. Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves stood at just under 2 billion at the end of March, and Shanghai saw a drop in new covert cases on Thursday after ten straight days of record highs. The financial Hub reported 23,342 new local cases for the day, compared with just over 26,000 the day before. However, it was being reported yesterday that authorities are backing away from lifting restrictions in several thousand low risk areas. On today’s Money Talk, we’re joined by Dicky Wong from Kingston Securities, Carlos Casanova of UBP, and Tony Nash, founder and CEO at Complete Intelligence. The moderation in core CPI initially prompted a rally in stocks on Wall Street and sent US Treasuries higher. But stocks then gave up their gains as the session wore on, with the S Amp P 500 and Nasdaq falling for a third day. The S Amp P 500, which was up 1.3% at the high of the day, closed a third of a percent lower at 4397. The Dow relinquished a gain of over 360 points to close 88 points lower at 34,220, and as the composite index, which was up 2%, declined zero 3%, ending at 13,372.

In Europe, the regional Stock 600 index fell a third of a percent. Deutsche bank and Commerce Bank led losses for the index, with both falling more than 8% after an undisclosed shareholder unloaded roughly 5% stakes in both German banks. London’s footsy 100 dropped null. .6% and it was a volatile day for mainland China and Hong Kong stocks, which opened higher before plunging late morning and then staging a drastic rebound in the afternoon session with reports that the China National team was actively supporting the market. The rebound came amid calls from China’s market regulator that firms buy back shares and ask major shareholders to support stock prices amid a sluggish stock market. The Hangsting index had slipped half a percent by lunchtime to a four week low before rebounding to close 111 points, or half a percent higher at 21,319. Tech index was up two and a half percent in the morning session before dropping zero 8% at lunchtime and then rebounding to close 1.4% higher. The Shanghai Composite recovered from losses of 0.8% to close one and a half percent higher at 3213. $0.10 advanced 3.6% added 4.2% after China approved new online gaming titles for the first time since July.

In the commodities markets, brewing crude oil rose almost 6% to $104.87 a bowel. Gold is up close to 1% at $1,966 an ounce. The yield on the benchmark ten year treasury notes fell five basis points to two point 73% after hitting two point 83% early in the session. And in the currency markets, the US dollar is stronger this morning. The Euro is trading at $1.08 and a quarter cents. The Bucks at 125.5 Japanese yen Sterling is worth one point $0.30 and Hk$10.19, and the Chinese yuan is at six point 38, versus the dollar in offshore markets. Bitcoin this morning is about 1% firmer at $40,100. Around Asian stock markets this morning. In Australia, the SX 200 up about zero. 1%. Stocks in Japan have now opened the nicate 225, about three quarters of a percent higher. The Cosby in South Korea is half a percent higher, but futures markets pointing to a loss of about 70 points for the Hang Sein at the open this morning. Fine. Let’s welcome our guests. We have with us Dicky Wong, head of research at Kingston Security this morning, Dickie

DW: Good morning, Peter. How are you?

PL: I’m well, thank you. And also with us, Carlos Cassanova, senior Asia economist at UBP. Morning to you, Carlos.

CC: Good morning, Peter.

PL: And over in Texas, in the USA, we have Tony Nash, founder and CEO and chief economist at Complete Intelligence. Thanks for joining us again, Tony.

TN: Thank you, Peter.

PL: Let’s start in the US with those inflation numbers. Surging energy and food prices in the United States have sent inflation to 40 year high. Consumer prices rose eight and a half percent last month. That’s the fastest annual gain since December 1 981. The monthly rise was 1.2%, the fastest gain since September 2005. Excluding food and energy, core CPI increased 6.5% on an annualized basis in line with expectations, core inflation rose zero. 3% for the month energy prices, they were up 32% year on year food prices, they jumped 8.8%. And shelter costs, which make up about a third of the CPI, rose by 5%. Tony, you’re over there in the US, so let’s start with you. It’s hard to find very much good news in this data. But who do workers blame for this?

TN: I think a lot of Americans really do see inflation rising as Joe Biden has been in office. It’s accelerated during his tenure. So whether it’s his fault or not, he’s sitting in the seat while it’s happening. There is a lot of resource from the White House going into saying that this is Putin’s inflation responsibility, claiming that inflation didn’t really accelerate until the war started. But again, if we look back to the rapid acceleration of inflation, it really started, I guess you could say maybe October. But we’ve been at this for a year or so. I think Americans working level, Americans, whether they’re working class, blue collarly workers, they’re obviously the hardest hit by this. And for workers at those levels, it’s really looking at the political issues, not something that’s happening on the other side of the world.

PL: So what can Joe Biden do to try and bring inflation under control? What are people expecting to do?

TN: Well, I think one of the really easy things that he could do, which I’m in Texas. So this is a very biased view, but since Joe Biden has come to office, he’s put a lot of restriction on the drilling and transport of oil and gas. And so there could be a lot of alleviation of energy prices if the White House would remove the regulations that they put in place on the drilling and transport of oil and gas. The White House also killed a pipeline of Canadian crew or a pipeline from Canada that would transport heavy crude to American refineries, which is what’s needed for petrol or gasoline here. And Americans actually don’t necessarily use the light sweet crude that’s refined or drilled, say in Texas. They use the heavy sour crew that say from Canada and from Venezuela. So the pipeline from Canada would have been very helpful to keep prices stable in the US, energy prices stable in the US, but that was killed literally on the first day of the Biden administration.

PL: Vicki, what is the impact for markets and particularly out here, US markets? They rallied initially because they took some optimism for the fact that the core CPI had declined slightly from last month, but they lost those gains. How do you think markets are going to respond to this?

DW: Well, in terms of inflation, I guess it’s an overall problem not only in US but basically everywhere else, also in China. And you may say, like Russia invasion of Ukraine intensified the situation of inflation in US, but inflation is already there. It’s already a problem in US. So in terms of the market expectation, I would expect first of all will probably have another rate cut for even 50 basis points in May and continue to high interest rate until the year end. At the year end, maybe the sets and target rates will be like two point 75 even at this really high level compared to one year ago. So in terms of the year car still going on, keep going up there’s no question ask but already probably the market already digest this kind of situation like you asked me have to continue to high interest rate. But in terms of in mainland China is another thing. Even though China official CPI rose by 1.5% in March, still below US CPI or everywhere else in Europe. So expecting that PVoC may have some kind of room to have an outer round of rate card or triple archives.

But in terms of the situation now in mainland China it’s pretty dilemma because if they really want to have another round of fresh cut of interest rate or even triple R may intensify the situation now because the ten year value of the US Treasury is slightly higher than the same period treasury in mainland China. Now it may be some kind of money outflow from mainland.

PL: Is the window of opportunity for the PPO to go and cut rates? Is it closing the worst this inflation data gets? It doesn’t leave them much opportunity, does it?

DW: Exactly. So I don’t really expect a rate cut in the near term but maybe I expect Arrr cut instead of a rate cut because rate cut create a high pressure of capital outflow. We have already seen in March no matter in the bond market, also in the Asia market from the stock connect. So people actually getting money out from mainland China. So this is also another reason why recently the Asian market underperformed even the US market because the capital outflow. So it’s not a good timing for China but then you still have to think about it, what they can do because capital outflow and intensified the situation in Russia and Ukraine. So also create another round serious pressure. The CPI future growth is mainland June.

PL: Let me bring Carlos in. Carlos, this is not an easy situation for central banks to deal with, is it’s? Because this is not demand led, this is a supply shock, correct?

CC: I think what we saw in the market this week was some investors pricing in the probability that inflation was peaking within the next few months. We think it’s a little bit early to say we are expecting around eight to 9% inflation in the US in the coming months and of course then a gradual descent, but it will nonetheless remain significantly higher than expected in 2022. And as Tony was mentioning, this will be front and center with Biden facing elections in the fall. So I do think that central banks around the world are going to be very focused in trying to address the demand side factors or drivers of inflation even as they have very little control over the supply side factors. And on that note, just keep in mind that we have this conflict in Ukraine that’s leading to supply chain disruptions. But we are already seeing disruptions to global shipments through the Port of Shanghai following from the lockdown there. So it is likely that these supply factors will continue to exert pressures in the coming months. So in my opinion, I think central banks will unfortunately remain in this very hawkish trajectory even though they don’t have 100% control.

PL: And what does the PPOC do? That’s probably the one major central bank in the world that would like to ease monetary policy to cope with the slowdown there on the mainland. It’s in a difficult position as well, isn’t it?

CC: Ppoc is in a very difficult position because we’ve seen authorities voice their concerns about the lack of easing quite a few times since the middle of March, and yet PPOC has an east the risk of outflows is real. We saw that China’s premium over the US in terms of its ten year yield is completely gone. So any form of eating will exacerbate potential capital risks. But you have inflation creeping up potentially above the 3% target set by the beginning of the year. So the conditions could turn less accommodative very quickly. So PPO has a narrow window of opportunity in my opinion to deliver stimulus and a triple our card won’t be enough given what is happening in Shanghai, given that we have -40% sales in the housing sector and that accounts for a third of the economy is not going to be enough to get us from where we are now to 5.5% growth by the end of the year. So unfortunately, they should be doing a rate cut even if that exacerbates capital outflows and even if the impact of a rate cut might be more muted as most people remain in some form of lockdown.

So it’s less easy to go out and spend money. I think that is something that PVC has been discussing, but it doesn’t matter. They need all hands on deck in order to reach the fact growth target by the end of the year and really running out of time given that inflation is rising.

PL: Tony, you mentioned energy prices, but of course, food prices are also jumping as well. They were up 8.8% over the period. We’re seeing global trade slow quite dramatically now. And the UN saying that the war in Ukraine is causing a huge leap in food prices. The UN food prices index is at a record high. It was up 13% in March are on consumers feeling that as well. Over in the United States, this rise in food prices?

TN: Yeah, for sure. Americans are feeling the rise in food prices. I think, however, the most acute food price rises will be in places like Lebanon and Egypt and other places that are more directly affected by the Ukraine and Russia war. Here in the US, we do have pressure on wheat and corn prices, corn prices or maize prices. There’s upward pressure on those prices partly because the White House just said they want to add corn to fuel here to in their minds, reduce fuel prices. So there’s pressure on corn both to feed people and for fuel now and of course, with proteins, those prices are up as well double digits. So Americans are feeling it really all around, but not as acutely as some of the people in Europe and the Middle East will as the pressures from, say, Ukrainian and Russian exports hit those markets.

PL: We’ve already had an energy shock in many parts of the world. Do you think we’re heading for a food crisis that we’re going to see shortages, we’re going to see prices soaring, and maybe, as unfortunately always happens in this case, it affects the poorest parts of the world the most?

TN: Yes, it does. And sadly, I think that is the case because places like Ukraine and Russia do provide so much mostly Ukraine provide so much weed and maize and cooking oil to some of these markets. So, yes, I definitely think that that is.

PL: Our Americans questioning President Biden’s support for Ukraine. When you start to see the costs of this mounting. They’ve banned American. They banned Russian oil and gas imports. That’s helping fuel price rises. They’re seeing the price rises in food. Are they starting to question whether or not the US is on the right track supporting Ukraine?

TN: I don’t know. I know that a number of Americans have questioned it from the start, not that they don’t support Ukraine, but Americans are worried about being directly involved, meaning sending troops to Ukraine. I think Americans generally are comfortable sending weapons and supporting with that aid, but not necessarily with the troops.

PL: Okay, Dickie, let’s talk about the lockdowns up on the mainland. There was a slight decrease in COVID cases yesterday, but we’ve had ten days now of record cases in Shanghai. Guangdong, Guangzhou has gone into a partial lockdown as well. Now, what sort of impact is this having on the economy?

DW: Well, that’s so obvious. The big lockdown in Shanghai may give some kind of pressure to not only the first quarter GDP, but indeed the 5.5% annual gain of the GDP. It’s probably not that easy to achieve. So I do see some kind of civil linings because China’s government recently added some of the approval of the online and cellphone gaming. And also when we talk about the first quarter lending also hits record to 1.3 trillion before PVC take any action in the first quarter because last year PPOC cut LPR rate triple R, but not this quarter. So I would expect definitely I do agree that PPOC has to take some kind of action like seriously to treat the problem, especially the lockdown in Shanghai. And 5.5% is not something easy. So they have to no matter fiscal policy, monetary policy, and et cetera regulations has to be used, especially some of the tech companies.

PL: Let me ask you also because I want to ask you about the markets as well. We’re seeing a lot of calls now from Premier Leakage, the State Council to take steps to support the economy and also from the regulators now to support the market the China Securities Regulatory Commission wants shareholders to buy back stock. It wants Social Security funds, pension funds, trusts, insurance companies to increase their investment in the markets. What are your thoughts on this? Isn’t this the regulator going way over their skis here? It’s not the job of the regulator, is it to tell companies to buy back more shares and to put public money into the stock market? Surely this is way, way beyond what the regulator should be doing.

DW: Well but in terms of the mainland market, the HR market, this is probably the regulator will regularly do I know they do it but it’s wrong isn’t it wrong that the regulator should do that?

PL: It’s sort of almost an outrageous abuse, isn’t it? The regulator should be there to make sure the market operates fairly and efficiently to crack down on abuses but not do this?

DW: You may say so but the regulator to mainland because you can see intensifying the tension between China and US never gone and also like recently no recently just yesterday the holding foreign companies accountable action called Hscaa a fresh round of addiction of a lot of Chinese companies like more than twelve companies this is the fourth round already it gives some kind of pressure to the ADR market yesterday in US and definitely some of the ADR may open slightly lower today although the pressure may not be as high as the previous one or the first round of the addiction of the Hscaa but because of the tension of these two countries China may have to do their own thing so in terms of like Green Valley always comment about the stock market and try to interfere with the stock market I will not say good or bad but at least it would be some kind of support to the local Hong Kong stock market so I believe we find support at 21,000 because investors may expect or they will expect like PPOC will take action very soon so it may help to stabilize the overall sentiment in Hong Kong as well as in Asia Carlos.

PL: We’Ve heard Premier Leakage now has issued his third warning about economic growth in under a week what can they do?

CC: Well, we do expect to see weaker growth in March, April and May so those will be the three weakest months I think that in addition to doing more monetary policy and fiscal policy support the big question Mark is will they announce some easing of restrictions or at least provide some degree of regulatory clarity for global investors? On the housing and also tech front there’s a whole debate around this. Recent regulations surrounding dual circulation in China points to some additional regulatory headwinds for some of these companies but I think that the issue is not so much regulation it’s more the lack of visibility so they are likely going to at least provide that in the coming weeks. And of course, if this contraction is bigger than expected in the first half, and I did use the word contraction because I do think that GDP has a chance of actually declining in Q two, then the measure of last resort in order to achieve that growth target would be to effectively inflate the housing sector again in Q four. But we should be back to square one. So I think they will try as much as possible to use more Australian and other channels to try to prop up the economy so that growth doesn’t follow the cliff.

But they are running out of time and we do hope that they will announce something big in April.

PL: Okay, Tony, final word to you. I know all sorts of things go on on the mainland that perhaps wouldn’t go on elsewhere, but when you see the regulator trying to arm twist companies into buying back their own stock and get public funds to get the market back up, what do you make of that, Peter?

TN: It reminds me of June of 2015, if you remember, when markets on the mainland really fell pretty hard. There is pressure domestically in China for people to buy shares for a patriotic reason. Even within the Chinese bureaucracy. There was pressure for Chinese bureaucrats to buy shares. So I think they’re just doing it out loud now and they’re doing it for the companies themselves. But to me, when I first saw this news, it really was an Echo of June of 2015 when markets fell and there was real pressure on Chinese retail investors to buy the dips and to support the market. And a lot of them lost. I knew people there who lost 2030, 40% of their wealth because they were buying patriotically.

PL: Yeah. Okay. Well, that’s a fair warning. Thanks very much. That’s Tony Nash, founder and CEO and chief economist at Complete Intelligence. Dickie Wong, head of research at Kingston Securities, Carlos Casanova, senior Asia economist at UBP. You’re listening to Money Talk on RTHK Radio Three. Let’s take a final look at the markets for today. In Australia, the SX 200 up zero 2%, the Nico two five in Japan rallying as well, up zero 8%. The Cosby is up. A third of the cent in South Korea does look like, though the hangsting is going to fall slightly, about 50 points or so at the Open later on this morning. Thank you very much for listening this morning. Please join me again for the final time this week in a holiday shortened week at 08:00 tomorrow. Stay tuned for covered updates after the news with Jim Gold and Anna Fenton. The weather forecast, mainly cloudy, few showers going to be hot with sunny intervals during the day. Maximum temperature of 29 degrees, mainly fine and hot during the day tomorrow. And on Friday, the temperature right now 25 degrees, 82%. Relative humidity 32 here’s Andy Shawski with the half hour news.

AS: Thank you, Peter. The head of the Government’s policy innovation and coordination office says the authorities have expanded it’s $10,000 subsidy for people who have recently lost their jobs Due to covet. Officials say they have received 470,000 applications for the subsidy. In February. They expected only 300,000 Would apply. Doris Hoe said that’s because more people have lost their jobs.

DH: This is partly because more people were out of employment in March When the unemployment situation was in February and partly because we expanded our scheme subsequently to cover employees working in closed app premises such as affinity centers and beauty salons and who were forced out of work about their employers.

AS: Medical Association President Choi keen says the government initiative giving private doctors access to oralcobid drugs will definitely be effective in preventing severe cobalt infections. Authorities on Monday said that private doctors could request antivirals through a dedicated electronic platform. Doctor choice said this is a sensible arrangement.

DH: The patients usually see the GP first before they go to the emergency Department before they get very ill, so it’s the first stage that the antivirus are infected. So if they are seen at the first stage and given the medication, they will not proceed to a very ill stage so it is effective and useful.

AS: Police in New York are searching for a man who shot ten people at a Brooklyn subway station during the morning rush hour. Six others were also hurt, Mostly through smoke inhalation. None of the injuries are life threatening. The New York city police Commissioner, Ketchen Sewell, gave details of the incident just before 824 this morning.

KS: As a Manhattan bound and train waited to enter the 36th street station, an individual on that train donned what appeared to be a gas mask. He then took a canister out of his bag and opened it. The train at that time began to fill with smoke. He then opened fire, Striking multiple people on the subway and in the platform. He is being reported as a male black, approximately 5ft five inches tall with a heavy build.

AS: The city of Guangzhou has reported 13 new COVID cases. Health officials in the city say the new infections were linked to previous cases, but they warned that transmissions might have been taking place for some time before the new cases were found. And the next few days will be critical. To contain the outbreak, local authorities have been conducting mass testing to screen out patients primary and secondary schools of suspended face to face class.


If Recession Is Coming, Does Jay Powell Still Raise Rates?

US bond prices are pointing to an oncoming recession, raising the question of whether the Fed stays the course on its path to rate normalcy. Tony Nash, CEO, Complete Intelligence, discusses. 

This podcast first appeared and originally published at on March 31, 2022.

Show Notes

SM: BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You’re listening to the Morning Run. It’s 7:05 A.M. On Thursday, the 31 March, looking rather cloudy outside our Studios this morning. If you’re heading on your way to work, make sure to drive safe. First, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.

KHC: US markets down was down. .2% S&P 500 down .6% Nasdaq down 1.2%. Asian markets, Nikkei down zero 8%. Hong Kong’s up 1.4%. Shanghai Composite up 2%. STI up 3%. Fbm KLCI close flat.

SM: So fairly red on the board today. And for some thoughts on where international markets are headed, we have on the line with us, Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, good morning. Always good to have you. Now markets are speculating that the brief inversion of the two over ten year US Treasury yields this week is a sign of an oncoming recession. So do you agree with this? And if not, what might explain these brief periods of inverting or inversion?

TN: It could be a sign. Shazana, I think we have to see a more consistent and meaningful inversion to say that we’re definitely headed into a recession. So what this means is that what a yield curve inversion means is that people have to pay more for shorter duration money. So right now, if you look at, say, the five year treasury, the yield is 2.4% and the ten year is around two point 35%. So it’s cheaper to borrow longer term money, which is really weird. It could have a lot of reasons. Maybe companies need money more. They’re short on cash and they’re more willing to pay for it. So that would be a sign of a recession. So if we see a more consistent yield driven version, we see the two and the five years continue to be higher rates, then we need to be more concerned. For now, there’s a lot of speculation, but we just don’t necessarily see the certainty of it yet.

TCL: Tony, markets are wondering whether the Fed is going to push ahead with this rate policy on tightening because this volatility both in share markets and bond markets is a bit muddling for the analysts and the fund managers to make sense of. What’s your point of view?

TN: Yeah, I think at least for the last few months the Fed has been fairly consistent. But of course, we’ve had exogenous type of events, the war between Russia and Ukraine being the biggest, and that has had an impact on raw materials costs. So food in the case of Ukraine with wheat and sunflower oil and all this other stuff and energy with Russia. So it doesn’t matter what a central bank does necessarily. They can’t push down the price of oil through monetary policy. What they can do is demand destruction. And this is why we think that they’re going to lead with some fairly sizable 50 basis point rises, say in May for sure, and possibly in June. I don’t know if you saw that today. JPmorgan was out with a note saying that there will be 50 basis point rises in both May and June, which would be a pretty sharp rise in interest rates. The good news is we see a sharp rise initially, but then they’ll only do that for a short period of time to cut off demand pretty quickly and hopefully cut down on some of the demand for petrol and oil and some of these other materials.

TCL: Okay. So your sense is that the Fed and JPowell will stay the cost and increase rates, but what’s happening in Japan is quite the opposite. They’re actually showing quite discernible decoupling because they’re staying with zero interest rates. I think the ten year yield on the JGBs is about zero point 25%. What does that spell? Because the Japanese yen is now down at a six minute seven year low. Obviously, there’s a big sense of what’s going on here. What’s your point of view?

TN: J I think yesterday announced that they would have unlimited purchases of Japanese government bonds. So what they’re doing through that is it’s an open door for them to insert currency. It’s kind of a backdoor to growing their money supply, which leads to evaluation of the yen. And so Japan is in a place right now where they want to grow their export sector. They do that through yen evaluation. The competition between, say, Japan, China, Korea is there. China’s exports keep growing despite a strong Chinese Yuan Japan. There are other central banks. It’s partly that reason, meaning the ECB tightening and the Fed tightening, but it’s also competitiveness of Japan of their exports. So there are a number of reasons at play there.

KHC: So you were saying that earlier that maybe we will see 50 basis points increase in May or June. How do you think the share prices of US banks and financial institutions typically would do in this kind of environment, and would they be ultimate winners?

TN: They could be, I guess the only dilemma there would be the impact on mortgage. So if the Fed raises rates really quickly and it has an impact on mortgage demand and mortgage defaults, then that could be a real problem for banks. But short of that, I think they’re probably in a decent place to do fairly well. Of course, that’s company specific and all that sort of thing. But I think financial services in general should do fairly well on a relative basis.

TCL: Yeah. Tony, if it goes ahead as follows. Right. And Japan does not increase rates like the US is, it just extends its debt to GDP ratio. I think Japan is now 255% to GDP. I think the US is well above 100%. That’s quite disconcerting. What happens? How does it all end? Because it’s quite clear that Japan cannot raise rates because it just cannot fall into recession.

TN: Well, the problem with Japan raising rates is their population. And you all know this story, but they can’t necessarily raise productivity without automation. So they have to automate to be able to raise their productivity, to be able to raise their rate of growth. So that’s the foundational problem Japan have now with the BOJ buying with their JGB purchases, they’re actually buying the debt that the Japanese Treasury creates. Okay. So it’s this circular environment where the Japanese Treasury is creating debt to fund their government, and the BOJ is buying that debt basically out of thin air. They’re retiring. Okay. So Japan is in a really strange situation where it’s creating debt and then it’s buying it and retiring it. And this is a little bit of modern monetary theory, which is a long, long discussion. But Japan is in a very strange place right now.

SM: Tony, thanks very much for speaking to us this morning. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that are moving markets at the moment. And in the conversation there with a look at Japan and just the curious situation that it finds itself in amid all these economic and geopolitical pressures happening in the world.

TCL: Yeah, it’s really weird, right? The Japanese are so much in debt and they can’t get out of it. They’re creating these debts and they’re buying back this debt. It’s quite insane. But America does the same thing with their bond buying program until this year. Right. And that they haven’t even significantly cut that program. It’s really weird because what happens then for the US dollar? What happens to the Japanese yen down the line when your paper currency is near as meaningless? Right. It’s not banked by anything. It’s just being printed every day Willy nilly. It’s really weird.

SM: So all eyes are, of course, on the Fed, I guess, the most powerful central bank in the world, and how much it’s going to raise rates when it’s actually going to start or stop its QE in since quantitative easing, opposite of that. Somebody tell me what it means. Qt. There we go. And when they start reducing, that’s something that everyone’s watching very closely. Let’s take a look at some of the international headlines that have caught our eye. We see something coming out of Shanghai. Volkswagen said yesterday that it would partly shut down production at its factory in Shanghai because the lack of key components indicating further how a resurgence of the Omikan variant has disrupted the Chinese economy and global supply chains. The Shanghai factory operated in a joint venture with SAIC of China, and it’s one of Volkswagen’s largest facilities. It shut down for two days in mid March, but reopened now. It looks like it’s going to have to shut down again.

KHC: Yes. And the company also gave indication they didn’t give actually any indication on when normal production will resume. But China is booked Vegas largest market in the essential source of sales and profit. So the country is in the midst of the worst outbreak since 2020. And so that should prompt the government to impose lockdowns and restrictions. And even car maker like Tesla is also having a large factory in Shanghai also have to suspend production because of this strict covet policies. And so voice mechanics, they’re actually having a lot of shortages and slowdowns in other markets as well.

SM: So it’s really the twin it’s the twin issues, right? It’s the pandemic on one hand and then it’s also the geopolitical events in Ukraine that’s really affecting it’s, leading to a shortage of auto parts. So all this comes together and it’s not great for car makers in Shanghai at the moment. Turning our attention to another headline, if we look over at Russia, Russia is going to lift the short selling ban on local equities later today. And this is actually removing one of the measures that helped limit the declines in the stock market. After a long, record long shutdown, the bank of Russia also said equities trading hours will be expanded from a shortened four hour session to the regular schedule of 950 to 650 P. M. Moscow time. So I guess they’re trying to get back to normal but how we see that impact the stock market is still, I think, an open question. Yeah.

KHC: And since the stock market has since that stock actually gained 1.7% and the daily move also has been limited. Prior to the resumption of trading, the Russian government actually took measures including preventing foreigners from exiting local equities and banning short selling and to avoid the repeat of 33% slump scene in the first day of the Ukraine invasion last month.

TCL: Yeah, this whole Russia Ukraine invasion is set off a domino effect of domino effect quite catastrophic. Or repercussions manufacturing in capital markets in currencies. How does it all end?

SM: We don’t know. We don’t know the end to that story. And how long 717 in the morning. Stay tuned to BFM 89.9%.