Complete Intelligence


BBC: EU responds to US Green Deal by relaxing state aid rules

This podcast is originally published by BBC Business Matters in this link:

BBC’s Description:

The European Union will allow members to offer subsidies that match those offered by the US Inflation Reduction Act to prevent an exodus of green energy projects. The White House’s $369 billion initiative has been criticised by many countries, which fear it could attract local companies to move across the Atlantic.

Roger Hearing discusses this and more business news with two guests on opposite sides of the world: Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing partner at TSMP Law in Singapore, and Tony Nash, chief economist at Complete Intelligence in Texas.

Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence, joined BBC Business Matters podcast, to discuss a range of topics from autonomous vehicles to green energy subsidies.

Nash shared his thoughts on the future of AI and autonomous vehicles. He discussed the challenges of ensuring self-driving cars can navigate changing road conditions and the safety concerns that come with autonomous driving. Nash also discussed the potential of AI in the transportation industry and the need for continued development in this area.

Nash also provided insights on Joe Biden’s tax plan, specifically focusing on corporate taxes and unrealized gains tax. He discussed the potential impact of the tax plan on companies and individuals and offered alternative solutions to the proposed policies.

Nash also discussed the transatlantic race for green energy subsidies in another episode. He explored the role of government grants in spurring innovation in the green energy industry and discussed the challenges facing countries caught in the middle of geopolitical forces. Nash also highlighted the importance of consumer pressure in driving environmentally friendly products.



Hello, and welcome to Business Matters. I’m Roger Hearing. Coming up on the program today, the European Commission is allowing member states to subsidize companies with green energy projects. They’re trying to forestall a drift of such firms to the US. Where state aid is already in place. Also, as pro Western protests go on in Georgia, we take a look at the strength for the economy in a country that really desperately wants to join the European Union. President Biden’s budget plan see a big tax rise for rich individuals and companies. So how’s that going to go down?


What he’s promising is we’re going to have European style benefits, but still have incredibly progressive taxes, and that’s just not realistic.


And self driving cars are on their way, but how can we make them safe on crowded urban roads? And I will be joined throughout the program by two guests on opposite sides of the world. Stefanie Yuen Thio, who’s joint managing director at TSMP Law Corporation, is joining us from Singapore. And Tony Nash, founder of the AI firm Complete Intelligence, joining us from Houston, Texas. So clearly, Tony, let me come to you and ask, well, what’s going on down in Texas at the moment?


Hey, Roger. Well, we have the Houston Rodeo, which is the largest rodeo in America, and it sounds like a throwback, but it’s actually a really big deal. They raise about half a billion US. Dollars for scholarships for Texas students. So it’s a big deal here in Houston, and it sends a lot of kids to university.


Yeah, and worth watching, too, I imagine, isn’t it?


Yes, it is. Yes, sir.


But you don’t take part, I imagine, Tony. I mean, the picture in front of my mind at this moment is quite.


Last year, but I’m not good for 8 seconds on a horse, so I’ll just sit in sidelines.


The let’s hope you’re good for 60 minutes on the radio, and I’m sure you will be. Anyway, welcome both. Let’s first of all talk about what’s happened here in Europe, because really it’s a transatlantic issue. But Europe has moved to try and level the playing field for companies there who want to set up green energy projects. There’s been fears that very generous new subsidies for US firms brought in by President Biden would drain Europe of green energy projects as businesses moved across the Atlantic to take advantage of what was over there. Well, now the European Commission has relaxed the rules on state aid for projects aimed at speeding up energy storage and the use of renewable energy and wants that take out carbon from industrial processes. EU member states will have until the end of 2025 to set up their schemes. What’s your take on this? It’s your side of the Atlantic that has really upped the ante on this with the Inflation Reduction Act covers a multitude of things, but one of them is this enormous amount of subsidy, over $300 billion, and then it starts this war with the EU over it, really.


So, Roger, the first thing I want to do is start a green energy company to game both sides of the subsidy plan. Right. So I think it’s interesting. It started in the US and obviously it’s just a truckload of money, and like everyone has said, it’s just a race to get somewhere. And I think it’s really hard to believe that this race is a credible one when Germany is burning more coal than they have in decades. Right. So I think that is it going to stimulate innovation? I don’t think so, because it’s grants, right. These are grants that are being given out by government, which I think I.


Don’ think they’re necessarily direct grants. Some of them may be, but it’s a mixed picture, I think.


Yeah, it’s mixed. And so those grants will be the first to go and they’ll be given very inefficiently, and then the tax credits or the other things that are done, if they’re in small batches, then they could kind of engender some competition. But if there are very large tax subsidies to be given, then it’s just going to be pigs at a trough. That’s all it’s going to be here in the US, in Europe. Europe is not unique. It’s the same thing here.


Well, indeed, but at the same point, I’ve put to Stephanie, I mean, isn’t in the end, Tony, the problem that you can’t leave it up to the market to do something that actually matters much longer term than most markets really have anything to do with?


Oh, well, you can. When you look at emissions, the US has been well ahead of kind of targets for years, because for the most part, we’ve had markets that haven’t subsidized kind of inefficient companies to do this. Of course, we have companies like Cylindra, which was a big story 15 years ago or something, and other wasteful green tech companies. But for the most part, when you look at, say, the US auto industry, other industries, they’ve done they’ve worked very, very hard to reduce emissions. And the US auto industry, even on petrol-fuelled cars, has done an amazing job at reducing emissions. And of course, there are subsidies that go to US automotive makers, but they’re not new and they’re not a large part of the revenues that those auto makers get.


What’s the incentive for them to do this? Because there has to be some incentive.


Consumers want it.


Consumer pressure.


Why do people make a car Blue? Or why do people put a Bluetooth connection to your ipod or your iPhone in the car? It’s because consumers want it. So the more consumer pressure there is to have environmentally friendly automobiles, it moves in that direction.


That’s very interesting. But Tony, let me bring you in on this, because it is an interesting picture of a country that is in a very difficult position, caught between Russia and the west but also with an economy that clearly doesn’t basically function. It seems to be held together entirely by aid.


And wine.


And wine. The wine is very nice, don’t get me wrong on that.


Yeah. It’s in a tough position. It’s between some big powerhouses and they had a conflict with Russia a decade or so ago, so it’s a very kind of tenuous position, and it’s definitely not something that’s easy to get out of, I don’t think.


Tell me, the other thing is that being caught in the middle of very big geopolitical forces, what was very interesting, Georgia. Georgia’s economy right now seems to be run by mainly by Russians who fled from Russia, which is an extraordinary situation, isn’t it?


Yeah, it is. Roger, I’m really not sure. The basis of this protest is supposedly that NGOs have to register because of their foreign influence, foreign money. But that is required in a lot of countries, so it’s required in Singapore, for example. Right. So I’m not really sure why this is such a problem. If foreign newspapers, like in Singapore, every foreign newspaper has to be approved. Yeah, and I I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be picking on Singapore, but but this is the case in a lot of countries, and so I’m just puzzled as to why this is a problem, especially if there’s so much foreign aid there. I just don’t understand it.


Tony, can I hazard stephanie, come in. Yes. Yeah. Let me hazard a guess. What’s happening in the Ukraine is a very big part of the consciousness of that part of the world right now, as it is for the rest of us as well. How Ukrainians are getting their message out there, how they’re garnering support internationally, is through social media and the foreign press. So I can imagine that any move that tries to muzzle foreign ownership of media is going to look like it is a very authoritarian move. And by and large, we get worried about things like that. And Singapore has been criticized, as Tony, you’ve pointed out, for having those rules, and I can accept that. I can appreciate that that is an issue. Having said that, international interference in national issues has become an increasing thing. We’ve seen the effect of troll farms in Russia on the US elections in the past, for example. And while we think we don’t want there to be constraints on independent and credible news organizations, what if you had an Islamic State take a very large percentage of the news outlets shareholdings?


Yeah, it’s one of those issues. It has to be applied not in general, but in specifics, and then see how it plays out. And I think that is absolutely the problem in Georgia. No doubt we’ll hear more from that country… Of the Manhattan Institute. Right. Tony, I’m going to let you get your teeth into it, but I will say, first of all, there’s a sense in which this is a phony budget, isn’t it? Because he doesn’t even expect necessarily to get it through Congress.


Yeah, it’s not going to make it through Congress. I mean, it’s just not. I mean, look, the capital gains tax that he’s proposing is higher than the ordinary income tax of the US. Meaning if you work for a living and you pay taxes from your salary, the capital gains tax he’s proposing is higher than that. And so these people who are actually taking risk on investments, they’re going to pay a higher tax for putting investment money into the market. That’s just ridiculous, and that stuff won’t make it. The thought that companies are going to pay higher tax is just silly because it’s not going to happen. I mean, there are several tax attorneys who, if you believe that’s going to happen, then you need to talk to tax attorneys and understand and CPAs and understand how things really work.


You’re saying, Tony, that the taxes are not going to happen because he won’t get through Congress, but you’re saying it’s a silly idea.


I’m saying the corporate taxes won’t happen because it’s unrealistic. So companies pay tax and that’s fine, but they also employ a lot of people. They make investments, they generate intellectual property and so on and so forth. So do we want to tax them more? Sure, maybe a little bit more. But to take a plan like this and aggressively state that you’re going to make companies pay a lot more, it’s really questionable, especially as earnings are collapsing. Publicly earnings in publicly traded companies are collapsing right now, so we’re going to put higher tax on them. And you saw this in the UK when there was the pressure on Gilt six months ago, right? You can’t put this type of thing forward if you don’t have a legitimate plan. And so for Biden to say, if you don’t have a better plan, well, I have a better plan. Why don’t you tax electric vehicles for the miles they drive? Because they don’t pay any fuel tax in the US.


Yeah, but that’s not going to fill the gap, is it? I mean, if you compare these enormous companies with huge profits, some of them, particularly in the energy sector, the financials as well.


It’s net positive, right? So it’s net positive. And anybody who thinks like your guest said, people are going to game that $100 million. I mean, that’s just silly, right? Anybody who makes under $100 million, they’re going to distribute it to family and shell companies and LLCs and other things. Nobody’s going to be worth $100 million.


It’s that they tax people. The people who earn over $400,000. That was the figure, wasn’t it? That’s where the burden is going to fall. But to a lot of people, that seems very reasonable. It’s an awful lot of money.


What’s? An awful lot of money for $400,000. Yeah, but how many people who earn $400,000 are really going to pay it? Right? I mean, they will, of course, but most of them are also going to have a lot of deductions, too. So you would have to raise the standard deduction unless those guys are going to circumvent. The other really silly thing which your guest was really good at talking about was the tax on unrealized gains. Okay? So imagine if you own a stock and it’s gone up two or three times and you haven’t sold that stock yet. That’s what an unrealized gain is. So imagine this. You own a house and the value has gone up by 50% and the government comes to you and says, hey, I know you haven’t sold your house yet, but I’m going to tax you on that sale of that house anyway, right? That’s exactly what this unrealized gain tax is doing. It’s saying everybody who owns a house that’s gone up in value, the government’s going to come in and tax you on that gain in that house. And you own a house and you’re like, wait, that’s not fair.


I haven’t even got that money yet. Right? So let these guys make their gains and tax them on those capital gains. That’s fine. We don’t need to hate rich people just for being rich.


Also, Tony, does the house owner get it back if the house price falls?


And how do you measure it? What’s the measure of value anyway? It’s full of difficulties, clearly. Well, definitely they will find ways around it. Well, let me come back to you then, Tony, on this, because we’ve said basically what you don’t think will work with what Joe Biden is promising or suggesting. If he is attempting to increase the size of the state, which it seems he is, and perhaps a bit parallel to what’s happening in Singapore, how should he be seeking the money for that?


Well, I think the first thing he needs to do is look at why he’s hiring 17,000 new Environmental Protection Agency agents, right? I mean, you know, we need to understand why we’re hiring more people into the government rather than just putting the heads aside and saying we’re going to grow government, we’re going to be greener, and so on and so forth. There was a law passed last year that said there would be something like 70,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents. And once the new Congress came in, the first thing they did was attack that and defunded because Congress has the power of the purse. So effectively what Biden is doing is he’s trying to anchor the budget discussion. I don’t think many of these things are actually going to happen. This is a negotiation. We have the debt ceiling coming on. We have a number of other things happening with regard to federal government revenue. So all he’s doing here is trying to anchor the conversation very high. And I think what you have in Congress right now is you have a set of Republicans who are not going to negotiate with that.


What they’re doing with the budget ceiling is they’re ticking off item by item the things that they want and getting the federal government to give in on things one by one because the bureaucrats do not want the debt ceiling to be a problematic issue.


Well, yeah.


Is it likely to Republicans on things one by one? Of course.


Are we going to find the new debt ceiling problem, which seems to be.


Oh, my gosh, Roger, there’s going to be so much drama about the debt ceiling. Oh, my gosh, it’s going to be the end of the world and full fifth grade of the US. Government and all this garbage. It’s it’s not going to be an issue. It’s never going to be an issue.


Okay. Interesting. I mean, Singapore, I suppose. Tony, would you would you put your faith in in autonomous vehicles? I mean, they, they have tested some, I think in Texas.


Yeah. I was driving in Dallas probably a year or so ago, and I was on a very crowded highway, and I looked next to there was a big semi truck next to me, and it was supposedly an autonomous driven semi truck, but of course there was a driver there. And to be honest, I found it terrifying. I heard an interview with one of the grandfathers of AI. His name is Stuart Russell. This was probably about three years ago. And he has been in AI since the 70s or something, and he was involved in self driving cars in the 90s. According to him, and I’m sure the technology has come a long way in three or four years. But at the time he said that we were no further with self driving cars at the time of that interview, which I think was 2018 or something, than we had been in the 1990s. That’s extraordinary. It is. And I work for an AI company. I mean, it’s not magic. It’s code and math. And that’s really what it is. It’s computer code and math. And as Stephanie pointed out, we have trouble updating apps. Right. And so if you’re going to be moving along at 100km/h or whatever and put your faith in a car and other people’s cars, I think when everything is automated, that’s different.


Right. If we’re 100% self driving cars, then that’s a very different story. But when you have some self driving and some not, there are so many unknowns in the environment, and how can a car know if something walking along the side is a child or a mailman or whatever, right. And you just don’t know what they’re going to do. So I don’t think cars on their own have the compute power to understand what’s going on around them. I suspect that a lot of what we’re being told is marketing more than actual capability. I would really like to talk to somebody and understand if it’s actual capability, because I just don’t believe it. I want it to happen, but I just don’t believe it’s.


Isn’t it I mean, what you said they want it to happen because I certainly feel it will be hugely useful. I mean, elderly parents being able to get places, for example. But all sorts ways in which actually it’d be really useful to have such a thing. I suppose we feel. And, Stephanie, I’d be interested to get your intake on this. We feel that at this point, with all the technical know how, we have self demonstrated that we should be able to do this. I mean, it’s been a staple of science fiction films, probably going back to the 19th century, that these kind of things would exist.


Yeah, but I have a question on AI. We’ve been talking about Chat GPT and how biases get into it. Now, if you’re trouble, who is setting the safety standards for these self driving cars? If there is a person walking on the street, is it going to make a distinction between a minority race? If there are two people and it has to pick one to hit and it can’t stop, for example, does it pick the minority race guy to hit? What does it do?


That’s like the famous trolley example in a philosophy class. Do you run over the fat person or not? And these kind of things, which you can’t really expect, I suppose, a self driving car to think of. But I suppose that the point of this. If everything is autonomous, then, as Tony says, perhaps the issue isn’t really a big one. But I would say with all these caveats you’re putting in there, Stephanie, the fact is there are a lot of very bad drivers out there already. Is it worse to have one that’s autonomous?


No, I totally want to have a self driving car, frankly. I would like to not have to drive me around. I would like my husband to not have to drive around. He thinks he’s a race car driver. He’s not really that good. So I think that would be great. But I agree all the cars should be autonomous. And maybe we should have speed limits.


Well, yes. And you could impose them automatically very easily, couldn’t you? That would be one of the things. And Tony, I suppose you’re in AI. Okay, I take on board your point. You’re saying it hasn’t come people reporting it hasn’t come that far since even the 1990s. But it must be something that AI can take on, surely.


Sure, AI can take on a lot of things. But is it there right now? And would I want to drive in it right now? Probably not. And Roger, going back to your question about is it worse for a machine to, say, be a bad driver than a human? Absolutely. Yes, it’s worse.




Because the unique function of that machine is to drive you around safely. That driver person does not have a unique function, right? So if that machine is specifically made to drive you around safely, that’s the only thing it’s there for. So it should be able to drive you around safely. And until that can happen, we should absolutely not have autonomous vehicles on the road.


Okay, but take the bad drivers. Who knows what the function of the bad driver is? But if they hit you, they’ll still do damage, and that’s really what matters. Principle, surely.


Of course they will. And to go into any country and get a driver’s license. Anybody can get a driver’s license, right? And so that’s a kind of least common denominator standard. The worst driver can still get a license.


And the worst robot might be a better driver.


Yeah, but that’s that robot’s 100% job, and unless they can do it in the top, I would say, decile of drivers, it shouldn’t be on the road.


All right, well, I think they’ve got a big, long way, I think, to persuade either of you, really, that it’s happening. I think Stephanie probably would prefer it probably more than you would. I certainly would love it. Not least for the fact I can go to a lovely English country pub and after perhaps consumed a little bit of lovely, I can just get in the car and it’ll take me home. No issues. That’s what I’m all about. Anyway, thanks to both of you for being with us. Your rodeo of business Matters has been survival, I’m very pleased to say, Tony. And we’ll welcome you all back soon, I think. But thanks for listening to Business Matters. Bye.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 7 Mar 2022

Everyone’s eyes are on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the past couple of weeks. How do traders make smart decisions in a geopolitically risky environment like this? Tracy Shuchart also explains why the fertilizer market is up 23% last week, what commodities are mostly impacted by the conflict, and how’s China’s energy relationship with Russia? Sam explains the effects on the emerging marketing of the different sanctions on Russia and why China’s exporting deflation is good for the US. Albert elaborates why the conflict is actually a “boom” for China.

This is the ninth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:



TN: Hi and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash and I’m joined by Tracy Shuchart, Albert Marko, and Sam Rines. Thanks for joining us. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. And like this video helps us out to get visibility, helps you get notifications when we have a new video. So if you wouldn’t mind doing that right now, we would be grateful.

Also, we’re having a flash sale for CI Futures which is Complete Intelligence subscription product. We forecast about 800 markets assets, currencies, commodities, equity indices, and a couple of thousand economic variables with a very low error rate. We’re doing a flash sale right now for about $50 a month and you can see the URL right now, It’s a limited time flash sale so please get on that. That’s a 90% off rate on our usual price. So thanks for that.

So this week, guys, we saw commodities mooning. We saw exposure to Russia sovereign. Really a lot of sensitivity to that. Exposure to Russia commercial risk. A lot of sensitivity to that. Obviously the war in Ukraine is on the top of everyone’s mind. But we also had the removal of COVID restrictions in some key US States like New York. We had Joe Biden speak give the State of the Union address without a mask on. All this stuff, easing of national guidelines. So the risk aspect of COVID has gone in the US, but it’s largely gone unnnoticed. So while the war ranges on overseas, at home, we do have some regulation getting out of the way.

A few things we said last week. First, we said that Ukraine would get bloodier and the markets would be choppier. That’s happened. We said that equities would be marginally down. That’s happened and we said commodity prices would be higher and that’s really happened.

So in all of this, guys, the S&P 500 is only down about 15 points over the past week. So when you guys said it would be down marginally with a lot of volatility, you were bang on there. So very good job there.

So our first question today is really a basic one and I’d really like to get all of your different views on this. When we have geopolitical events like we have now, how do you guys make trading decisions? What do you pay attention to? Albert, do you want to get us started?

AM: Yes. Personally I view the market as we’re stuck on repeat right now, especially with the Ukraine and everything fundamentals to me right now. I mean, honestly don’t really mean much. And when we had the jobs number come out and then it was everyone just yawned about it because the nuclear power plants were getting firebound.

So for me I’m looking for the Fed to support the market to a certain degree and looking for geopolitical news events to come out and just scare the bejesus out of people.

TN: Okay. Tracy, what are you looking at? Sorry, Sam. What are you looking at?

SR: Yeah, I’ll jump in there 100% agree with Albert. It’s very difficult to trade when the market is just trading on headlines. It is a straight headline market. And does oil look great here? Yeah, but you get one good headline saying that it looks like tensions with Russia are declining and you’re going to have a $5 gap down in oil and probably get stopped out of your position.

To me, it’s one of those very scary moments for anyone who’s trying to trade in that you never know which way the headline is going to come in next. If you’re playing headlines, you’re going to get in trouble and you’re going to get in trouble pretty fast, unless you’re just getting lucky. So for me, headline driven markets are mostly about selling ball and spikes and getting out of the way on everything else.

TN: Tracy?

TS: Well, being that I mostly look at the commodity markets rather than obviously I look at broader markets. But for what I’m looking at, when I see this sort of volatility in the market, I think that you have to have a fundamental grasp of what is going on and what the trade differences are between countries so that you can kind of position yourself for a market change that is not subject to volatility, meaning that you have to know that the oil market is obviously going to be affected, for example. Right. No matter what dips are going to be bought in this market. So you have to have a conviction that this is going to be affected until something else changes, right?

TN: Yes. Tracy, let me dig in on that a little bit. You said something about Fertilizers. We don’t necessarily didn’t mention a specific company here, but you said something about Fertilizers earlier on Twitter today. Could you use that as an example of the type of analysis that you’re talking about?

TS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we saw the Fertilizer market rise 23% today. Russia is the second largest producer of Ammonium, Urea and potash, and the fifth largest producer of processed phosphates. And that country accounts for 23% of the global Ammonium export market. So what we saw in the Fertilizer market was an increase of 23% this week across the globe, not just in the United States, I mean, literally across the globe.

TN: I just wanted to cover this little bit because especially in social media, everyone’s an expert, right. So everyone’s a new political expert. Everyone overnight became a nuclear power expert, all this other stuff. And I just don’t want our viewers to fool themselves into believing that they can play these markets with certainty. But I like what you guys all said about you have to have a conviction. You have to have your stops in place. You have to understand when things are going. And headlines could go either way. So there’s a huge amount of risk out there. Right.

Is there anything else on this? Albert, what are you watching on the ground? How do you get information on the ground if you don’t have people? Are there reliable sources that you look at without having first hand research on the ground?

AM: No. Unfortunately, I don’t. I mean, we’ve come to this point where the nuclear plant attack and all of a sudden people are talking about radiation spikes and so on and so forth. And I actually had to get on Twitter and I’m just like, everybody, relax. Those things can withstand airplanes being hit.

A few bullets isn’t going to do the job. So for me, I personally have context in the region on the ground, both in Ukraine and Georgia. So for me, I get almost on the ground intelligence in real time. So that’s how I’m trading. That’s just the reality of it at the moment. The public is not going to be able to get that information. Right.

TN: Okay. This is great. I really appreciate this, guys. I think this is wisdom that comes from years of trading, but it’s also the reality that comes with dealing with geopolitics on a very intimate level. So thanks for that.

Let’s move on to commodities. We’ve seen commodities, wheat, especially skyrocket this week and last week. So a couple of questions here. Tracy, if you don’t mind starting us off. It seems like every commodity was green this week. I know there are a few that weren’t, but what commodities are impacted most by Russia, Ukraine?

TS: Well, so fertilizer, which I brought up earlier. And then you have aluminum, which was up 14.7% today, or this week. Pardon me. We have copper, 9.34%, neon gas, which is something that most people don’t look at. But Ukraine supplies 90% of the neon gas market for the chip making markets. Then we had Palladium up 37%. Not surprising, Russia supply 43% up that market.

TN: You’ve been talking about Palladium for weeks, though. So anybody listening to you wouldn’t be surprised by this, right?

TS: Right. Not at all. I’ve been talking about this for a very long time. And actually we’re seeing platinum get a little bit of a bid because if you look at the automotive markets, Palladium is a huge thing in a catalytic converter. Right. And so we’re starting to see because prices have been so elevated for the last few years, we’re seeing automakers finally start to retool a bit. And so that’s going to give a little bit of a lift to the platinum markets.

Natural gas obviously is up. Right. We all know about that. Oil obviously up. We have nickel up 9%. The other interesting thing is coal. Russia is a material coal supplier at 15% of the global market. And Europe gets 30% of their imports from the met coal market from Russia and 60% from the thermal coal market. So they’re going to be looking elsewhere for other supplies because they don’t want to have all their eggs in one basket. Where you can have everything in coal and that gas and depend on Russia.

I do want to know on the natural gas market, although there have been rumors Yamal was shut down or whatever. But overall, Jamal is only one pipeline into Europe. Gas supplies have still been consistent and steady this whole time into Europe via different pipelines through Russia.

TN: So weird.

TS: So nobody’s caught off of gas. Right. That’s just weird. They’re on other sides of the war, but one is still supplying the other side energy. I just think that whole thing is very.

AM: Yeah, Tony, you know what concerns me, actually, this is a question for Tracy, too, is like the super spikes in commodities are starting to concern me specifically because of wheat, because obviously that’s food. And once people start getting stressed on food supplies, political problems can happen. I think even today, Hungary decided that they cut off all exports of foods, of wheat and grains because of the concern of spiking prices.

Tracy, where do we see wheat possibly even topping off at this point, especially if Ukraine and Russia go at it for an extended period of time, like, say, three to four weeks?

TS: Yeah. I mean, hopefully they won’t. But as far as that’s concerned, we’re looking at the Black Sea right now because exports are halted, because there’s conflict going on, this is what I think European wheat and US wheat has been limited up literally every day this week. Right.

So that’s going to be a problem that’s going to cause inflation, food inflation elsewhere. And let’s not forget that’s how the Arab Spring started as well. Right. So this is very much a concern globally on a macro sense, on food prices, energy prices, especially when we’re looking at kind of a global downturn in the market. And that’s a whole another discussion we can get in another week, but definitely it’s a concern right now.

TN: Let’s dig a little bit deeper into that. We have a viewer question from @Ramrulez. And Sam, can you take a look at this? The impact of sanctions on Russia, on emerging economies. So where are we seeing impacts of, say, wheat prices? I know Albert brought up Hungary, but what are we seeing in, say, emerging markets and other places that this is already hitting them?

SR: I don’t know that there are places that it’s already hitting, mostly because you’re going to have imported wheat. Wheat right now is being harvested in Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, etc. And that’s going to be more of a late spring summer story when you begin to actually have to import your additional food supplies.

So where would you see it? You’d see it in Egypt. Egypt is a significant importer of both Russian and Ukrainian wheat. You’re going to see it on the cornside, too. It’s worth remembering that Ukraine is a significant exporter of corn. You’re going to see it in Semple our way up, which is going to spill over into other markets because you’re going to have to, if there is no resolution or planting season, you’re going to have to replace some flour, oil with something else. So you’re going to have that issue to deal with as well.

So I don’t know that you’ve seen the spillovers yet. You will see spillovers particularly in North Africa, other significant importers of foodstuffs. The other thing to remember is it could potentially be a marginal benefit to some emerging markets. As you see, net exporters of coal, et cetera, become incremental sources for replacement for both Ukraine and Russia. So I think it’s something to keep an eye on both on the food price front, but also on the front of it’s going to be good for some. It’s going to be very bad for others.

TN: Okay. Thanks for that. Hey, before we move on from commodities, Tracy, I want to roll back to this viewer question we have from @YoungerBolling. Yes. What are the other sources of crude, grade wise, that can replace Russian crude for US refineries? This is a common question, and I’m sure you can answer it very quickly. So where else can people look to get Russian grade crude?

TS: We get kind of the sludgy stuff from them. Right. So the best, most convenient, easiest place to get it from is Canada. Right. We can get some heavier crude grades from Mexico, but they’re having some political problems there and it’s coming up. So really the easiest place we can look to is to Canada. So opening import lines from Canada is really our best option since they’re on our border.

TN: Didn’t the US cancel a pipeline from Canada about a year ago?

TS: Something decided. Yeah.

TN: Okay. Thanks for that. And then moving to another question, we spoke a bit about China last week, and I’m curious for any further thoughts that the panel has on China in light of last week’s, of this past week events. We do have a viewer question to get us started off. It’s from @HJCdarkhorse1. He says perspectives on Chinese Yuan. But before we get into that, Tracy, let’s talk a little bit about China’s energy relationship with Russia. What do you see happening on that front?

TS: Right. First of all, if we’re looking at the oil industry, China is Russia’s largest importer. Right. I think that anything that comes off the market wise via the west, that China will gladly scoop up at a $28 discount that they’re currently offering. Right. That is interesting in that respect.

There are still 1.5 million barrels kind of off the market. I want to stress nobody has sanctioned oil or energy at all so far. UK, EU, US. That said that people are hesitant and anticipating, and it’s hard to get banknotes right now to get those deals going through. But China is definitely their largest trading partner. China definitely loves cheap oil. So we’re going to continue buying from them no matter what.

TN: Are their pipelines between Russia and China?

TS: There are, but not like not enough. Not enough.

TN: Okay.

AM: Did they just cut a deal for a new pipeline that’s going to pretty much be equal. Sorry. That’s for net gas, that equals North Korean, too.

TN: Did they also come to some agreement recently about buying crude in CNY? Did that happen in the past?

TS: No, that was buying jet fuel.

TN: Okay.

TS: What they said is if we’re in your airport, we’ll buy in your currency. If you’re in our airport, you’ll buy in our currency, which is not that big. Literally.

TN: To some people’s dismay, the US dollar is still the currency for energy.

TS: Since we’re talking about currencies, you and I have talked about CNY for a long time. So can you give us kind of some perspectives on that? I know we had a question about that as well.

TN: Sure. So CNY. Chinese Yuan is a controlled currency. It’s not a freely floating currency. There is an offshore currency called CNH that is, we’ll say marginally floating currency that is linked to the CNY. But the CNY is strictly managed by the PBOC. And when you have a managed currency, it’s devalued. Okay. It’s appreciated and it’s devalued.

And so what’s happened over the last two years is the CNY has appreciated dramatically. And a big part of that is so that they can buy commodities, knowing that commodities would spike starting in the second quarter of 2020, China’s appreciated CNY so they could hoard those commodities, which they’ve done. Okay.

What’s happened? Well, Chinese exporters have suffered a bit because of the appreciated CNY. On a relative basis, they’re paying higher prices, but their experts have been up, too. So they’re not hurt too much. But we have a lot of things happening in China with a big political meeting in November to where they’re starting to spend in a big way, fiscal spending. We’ve also expected since probably August of ’21, we’ve been talking about China starting to devalue the CNY at the end of first quarter or early second quarter of this year.

So what that will do is it will make things a lot easier for exporters. And so exporters will be happy. There’ll be a lot of fiscal stimulus, a lot of monetary stimulus. So that just in time for this political meeting, everyone domestically in China is pretty happy. So we expect a lot of stimulus and a devalued CNY is a big part of that.

SR: And just to kind of jump on that really fast, that’s a positive on the US inflation fighting front. It’s significant positive. We are going to get.

TS: If you’re exporting deflation, that’s fantastic.

SR: Exactly. So when China goes back to to exporting deflation instead of exporting inflation, that’s going to be a completely different ballgame from what we’ve seen for the past year and a half.

TN: That’s a very good thing. Okay, guys, anything else on China, Albert? Do you have any anything on China that you want to add?

AM: Honestly for China? I don’t really see people talking about the fact that this entire Ukraine and Russia war has been a boom for China. They’re getting cheaper commodities. They’re getting a tighter relationship with Russia, although it’s going to be debatable that Russia is going to be a shell of what it was after all this. But still for China, they’re sitting pretty at the moment. I mean, any other place in the world where the Russians had their hands in the domestic economies of countries that China also did is now going to have to take a step back and allow the Chinese to get their banks financing different countries projects. It’s going to be unbelievable for China in the next couple of years.

TN: Yeah. I wonder if the Belt and Road is going to rebuild Ukraine. It’s a cynical question, but I think it’s an opportunity for China to do something like that on infrastructure.

AM: They’re going to have to because Russia is going to have nothing left economically. Right.

SR: And to begin with, there was a $1.58 trillion economy.

TN: Right. But it’s a very detailed answer to that simple question. But yeah, I think it is a medium term opportunity for China as well, not just in getting cheap commodities now or discounted commodities, we’ll say now, but also long term for their financial system, for their infrastructure system and other things. Right.

AM: Got you.

TN: Okay. So what guys are we looking forward to in the week ahead? Tracy, what do you see over the next week?

TS: Again, I’m going to say volatility. I think markets are going to be very volatile, just like we saw this last week. We had eight to ten dollar moves in crude oil like the blink of an eye. I think it’s going to continue to kind of see that in the commodities markets until there’s some sort of resolution to this Ukraine-Russia crisis because there’s too many commodity sectors involved in this.

TN: Right. Sam, same for you, but you talk about the kind of twos and ten years a couple of weeks ago, and I’m curious what your observation is there in addition to other things?

SR: Yeah. The front end of the US curve has been nuts this week, and I think you can kind of attribute that back to two reasons. One, we sucked out all of the Russian reserves from being able to participate in the market, period, full stop. You probably have a significant amount of hoarding on the front end from Russian banks. Call it the zero to three year type timeframe. That’s where they typically play. So I think you continue to see volatility there. That’s going to be absolutely insane.

The Fed. I don’t think the Fed is going to be all that surprising. The Fed was really interesting three weeks ago, and now it’s kind of boring. You’re going to get 25 bps. You’re going to get some gangs on QT. Nobody cares. We’ve kind of moved on from that.

TN: That’s interesting, though, right? Two months ago, 25 basis points was catastrophic. Kind of.

SR: Yes.

TN: And now it’s a faded company and nobody cares.

SR: Nobody cares. You had almost 700 jobs. 700,000 jobs created in February. We didn’t even talk about that. Nobody cares. Cool. 700k consecration up, whatever.

To Tracy’s point, I think it’s kind of a moss, right? More of the same. And just until you get some sort of resolution and some sort of clarity on how long we’re going to have these sanctions, this market is this market. It’s going to continue to be highly volatile and there’s no end of it in sight.

TN: Okay. Very good. And then, Albert, I’m going to ask you specifically about equities. So if we’re getting more of the same but we have upward pressure on commodities, what do you think is going to happen domestically with US equities? Do you think we’re going to see more of the same volatility? Do we have a downside bias? Do we have an upside bias? Where do you see things over the next week?

AM: Well, I mean, it’s hard to say that we have an upside bias at the moment with so much volatility. But from all my indications, I think Putin’s going to up the war rhetoric and surgeons in Ukraine, I think equities are going to have to come down to, I don’t know, 4200 4250. Right. And then we start talking to the start talking about the fed like Sam was talking 25 basis points is now the consensus. But I will have to say Jerome Powell said he was hoping that inflation is not a big problem when those meetings come. So don’t be surprised if it’s a 50 basis point hike.

TN: I think as an outlier, you could be right. I think it’s a possibility. I think it’s greater than 0%.

AM: If we’re talking about commodity supersight commodity surging, with all this volatility in this war, how is inflation going to come down in the next couple of weeks?

TN: Well, just ask a very direct question. A 50 basis point hike is intended to kill demand, right?

AM: Yes.

TN: That’s all it’s intended to do is kill demand.

AM: Of course. But from their perspective, you killed demand, you killed inflation. I don’t know if that’s going to, I doubt it’s going to work, but that’s their narrative.

TN: Right. Okay. Very good, guys. Thank you very much. Good luck in the next week and forgot for anybody viewing. Don’t forget about our CIF futures flash sale at and see you next week. Thank you.

TS: Thank you.

AM: Thanks, Tony.

SR: Thank you.


BBC Business Matters: Vaccine mandates announced

Biden just announced that all Federal employees are required to be vaccinated. What does this mean to the US and especially the private sector? Tony Nash joins the BBC Business Matters for a discussion on this. Also discussed are the BRICS and how they are catching up to the world’s major economies and will the environment be a big priority in the next US election?


This podcast was published on September 10, 2021 and the original source can be found at


BBC Business Matters Description:

US President, Joe Biden, has announced that all federal workers have to be vaccinated against Covid-19. He’s also instructing the Department of Labor to draft a rule mandating that all businesses with 100 or more employees require their workers to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. And as the BRICS leaders meet, is the loose alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa working? We hear from Professor Miles Kahler, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC. Facebook has been accused of breaking UK equality law in the way it handles job adverts. The campaign group Global Witness said the social network failed to prevent discriminatory targeting of ads, and its algorithm was biased in choosing who would see them, as Naomi Hirst from the organisation explains. Also in the programme, we find out why the issue of climate change has become such a dominant theme in the upcoming German federal elections. And the American car giant, Ford will stop production in India; we get analysis from Nikhil Chawla, a business journalist and proud Ford owner based in Delhi. We’re joined throughout the programme by Jyoti Malhotra, National & Strategic Affairs Editor at The Print; she’s with us from New Delhi. And Tony Nash, co-founder and Chief Economist at Complete Intelligence, is with us from Houston, Texas. (Photo of President Joe Biden by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images).


Show Notes


FW: It’s good to hear you, Tony. Back last summer, when the vaccine was a fantasy, we didn’t know how far they were getting and how fast they were working. I remember an astute commentator on this show saying it answers the question, should the federal government get involved in forcing people to have it, if and when it becomes available said, “no way, no way, because it’ll polarize opinion. Leave it to business.” Is the President going too far with this?


TN: I do think he is. I think forcing this through the private sector as an enforcement vehicle is polarizing, will say that much. I think this will drive a political wedge, like very few other things, and I think it’s somewhat intentional. I’ll say I don’t necessarily believe that public health is the guideline. I’m looking right now at COVID figures for Texas, and the fatality rate is something like 40% lower than it was during the cycle we had in Q1 in February.


So I think people are looking at the data we’re accustomed to COVID, and we’re accustomed to these data, and I think he sounded quite a lot like he was lecturing and talking down to people. And the folks that have not been vaccinated wouldn’t really appreciate that. So it’s politically polarizing. There will be more States rights issues that come out of this than I think he had intended.


FW: Okay, that’s an interesting thing that we’ll be watching. Is it not the case or there are those who may disbelieve the figures, the assertion being that 97% or so of those in hospital with COVID have not been vaccinated, and that would suggest that the president’s got the message exactly right. These 80 million, whatever their reasons, they are the most vulnerable.


TN: So, I haven’t seen those data divided at the state level, and those data differ dramatically from what we see out of Israel, which is one of the only governments that’s got very transparent data on who is vaccinated, at what stage they’re vaccinated and so on. So the data from Israel tell us very differently than 97%. So whether I’m vaccinated or not isn’t necessarily a part of this discussion. I think what really matters is we have to look at data, and the American system is one where if you look at American health care, if you look at American public health, for the most part in our history, individuals have been able to decide on the course of their own treatment and what has happened with American government that’s happened under Trump. This is happening under Biden. This has happened at some state levels where governments are telling people how they have to manage health care, and it’s not left up to them. So, again, this is translated by a number of Americans, not as a public health policy. iIt’s translated as an individual and States rights policy. So we’ve already had a number of governors, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri, other places, Florida and Texas will come out soon, basically saying this will not be enforced in my state and this is a state rights issue.


FW: Very interesting. Let’s go a very quick one if you would have both of you about the corporate side. Seems to me we discussed this a bit on the show, Tony, that in America, a company has immense power to tell its employees and fire them. We talked to one instance about CNN firing three employees who haven’t had the jab. Is that something that the President can count on?


TN: Can you count on companies to do that? Yeah. I think you’ll have plenty of companies who will not do it. So it will likely come the Federal through OSHA, which is a health and safety Department in the US government, and they’ll issue mandates. The question is around enforcement mechanisms. I think the main problem with this is the forcing it on smaller companies. The expectation is that it would be on bigger companies, but it’s companies down to 100 staff. And you’ve got a lot of very independent, very willful heads of smaller companies who will outright refuse to do this. I think larger kind of corporate America folks, no problem. They’ll get it done


FW.  From a US perspective. Tony, thanks, Joy. From a US perspective, is this a kind disaster for Ford, or is he just a really hard nose business decision that has been made by Jim Farley and 2 billion for Ford? It’s affordable. Yeah.


TN: I think it’s just a business decision. I think Americans obviously want to expand overseas, but in markets where the difficult people understand. So I just think it’s seen as a business decision.


FW: And that moved to China. That Jose said that is the business decision.


TN: It is. Yeah. And for got some catching up to do with General Motors there as well. So I think that’s the bigger priority.


FW: Tony, react to that if you would, because there’s a suggestion and I might be taking this too far from what Jody was saying. But when we had the professor talking about these constant ideas of reforming the multilateral system and redefining a multipolar world, it sounds what Jet is suggesting is actually this is all a bit hypocritical because it’s going to be mono, polo or unipolar. It’s just going to be China, that’s all.


TN: Well, I think that’s possible. But I also think that if we look at the three most active participants in BRICS, Russia, India, China, they’re strategic competitors. Yes, they’re rising fast, but their strategic competitors and they’re neighbors. So I think BRICS is a really interesting organization, kind of to ensure that they don’t become competitors or aggressive competitors too quickly to be able to cooperate in finance, cooperate and kind of cross border things. Other social programs, investment, that sort of thing. I think I remember when BRICS was announced, and I think it was kind of a neat thing to have, but there wasn’t an understanding of how important these economies would actually be. Now that they’re there, of course, as Jose mentioned, Brazil in South Africa just haven’t kept up in terms of relevance and importance. But the Russia, India, China part of BRICS really has, it really has. And I think it’s necessary to keep the kind of temperature low between those countries. I think there’s a lot of friction between the or potential friction between those countries.


FW: So just to pick up on that. From a DC perspective, does the State Department watch a BRIC summit and think the three primarily, China, Russia, India, these are countries need to be following closely in what they do in their internal relationship because we have to watch them all for different reasons.


TN: Will the State Department watch the brick summit. I think they would. I am not sure what they would do with it, because I think the US has opportunities to apply diplomatic carrots and sticks in different ways outside of multilateral, because it’s one of the leading economies and one of the leading powers. It has opportunities outside of multilateral environments to do that. So what we have with BRICS is some countries that were, I guess, economically considered kind of small countries 15 years ago when it was formed. Now they’re actually big countries, and so they needed the multilateral environment in those days to get things done.


Now, they don’t necessarily need the multilateral environment as much. They can do more on their own. I would argue that any one of those top three BRICS countries potentially has more diplomatic ability than many countries in Europe. Whereas 1520 years ago, you couldn’t say that. So it’s really the countries themselves are a lot more powerful than they were. So I think it could potentially be an important organization to keep them somewhat aligned.


FW: Equipped Tony to you. Cop 26, just coming up in November. I guess that’s a full year ahead of the next midterms in the US. Would the environment play at all in the campaign?


TN: I think it will. I think it will be marginal. I think things like COVID and some social issues and the business cycle, to be honest, will be bigger issues than the environment. But of course, it’ll hit certain cities and certain demographics, but I don’t think it will be a major issue.


FW: Well, thank you both. It’s great having you with us. We’re off for now. Bye bye.