Investors were not impressed by results from Meta and Alphabet leading to a sell-off in tech stocks on Wall Street. We speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, to find out how results from Apple and Amazon set to come out soon might impact overall market sentiment.
This is a podcast from BFM 89.9, The Business Station.
BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You’re listening to the Morning Run. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Keith Kam. It’s 7:06am on Thursday, the 27 October a rather overcast Thursday morning. For now, perhaps we’ll see the sun come out a little bit later. As always, we’re kickstarting the morning with a look at how global markets closed overnight.
It was a bit of a mixed day for what generally red though the Dow Jones on Wall Street, the Dow Jones ended marginally higher, that’s 0.01% barely changed. S&P 500 was down 0.7%. But the action was on the Nasdaq that closed 2% lower because of disappointing results from Meta and Alphabet. We’ve just got to wait for the Apple and Amazon results that will be out tonight US time. So we’ll be discussing that tomorrow. Early in the day, Asian markets were generally green. The Nikkei was up 0.7%, the Hang Seng was up 1%. The Shanghai Composite and Singapore’s STI, they were both 0.8% higher. And back home the FBM KLCI closed 0.7% up.
For some thoughts on what’s moving international markets, we have on the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony, thanks for joining us today. Now, notwithstanding overnight results, global equities led by US stocks have extended gains over the last week, avoid by the expectations that peak inflation has been reached. What do you think? Are they being too sanguine about inflationary pressures?
I don’t necessarily think they’re being too sanguine. There are cases to be made that housing prices and wage growth have turned the corner. Goods price inflation has likely peaked, but there doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll see prices decline. Regardless of what’s happening in the inflation environment. The Fed is going to raise rates in November, likely by 75 basis points and again in December. So the Fed typically lags inflation on both sides on the way up and on the way down and so they’re likely going to over tighten. Markets have largely factored in a 75 and 50 basis point hike over the next two months. So are they sanguine? I don’t know. I think if we start to see inflation really take a downward turn, then it could be a very good thing for all of us.
But Tony, the 75 basis point expected hike by the Feds comes at a time when a lot of analysts are also expecting recession to hit the US sometime sometime next year. Would there be some reassessment as we go along?
Well, we’ve already had kind of negative economic growth for half a year, so we do need to see jobs come down. And with the tech earnings coming out, as you guys mentioned in the news segment, we expect tech companies to announce some pretty major layoffs before the end of the year.
Let’s get into that a little bit, Tony, in terms of tech results, I mean we did see Meta overnight, we’ve seen how Microsoft also came in below market expectations. What do you think this tells us about the direction of the tech sector moving forward, especially with this environment of rising interest rates and a looming global recession?
Yeah, well, tech companies have overhired. They were hiring based on valuation, not necessarily based on revenue. And so now that their valuations have come down, they have excess staff and they need to clear the decks. And the productivity within the technology sector, although it sounds a little weird, the productivity is pretty low because they’ve had too many people. So as these companies come out and give pretty sad earnings reports, there’s going to be pushback from investors that they need to lay people off, and that will come out in the next couple of months. So we’ll see some of that. Now, if you compare that to, say, companies like Coca Cola and GM who beat the street, those companies have been able to pass on cost rises to their customers, so they’ve factored in cost rises to their price. Now, many of those companies saw volumes decline, but price rises more than made up for the volume decline. So they’ve beat expectations by raising price, in many cases by double digits.
Tony, we’re expecting Amazon and Apple results to come out tonight, and what we’ve seen from the previous results have sort of, well, dampened market sentiment, if you may, what are your expectations going forward?
Yeah, I don’t think they’re going to be stellar results. I think Amazon had this, at least in the states, they had this kind of second prime day a couple of days ago to goose sales revenues for the quarter, which tells me that things are not stellar at Amazon, and so there are signs that things aren’t working out. The new iPhone is kind of a yarn for a lot of people, so it’s not necessarily pushing out. And so I think the expectations are for pretty mediocre results. So if they report in excess of expectations, then tomorrow will be a fantastic day in markets. But I don’t think that’s necessarily likely at this point.
All right, something we’re going to be keeping an eye on. Another thing to keep an eye on is the slew of indicators that are going to be coming out. We’ve got US GDP, durable goods, and initial jobless claims numbers. Which indicator are you paying the most attention to in terms of being a gauge of how well the economy is going?
Yeah, one of the things that I always tell people to be careful of with some of these macroeconomic numbers is things like GDP. What’s being announced is what’s called a preliminary release. So they kind of have a sketch of what’s happening in the economy, but it’s not detailed. So when these GDP announcements come out and it’s the first release, it’s not really accurate. And those things can change by 50% or more in some cases. So GDP is not really something I look to. It’s kind of a headline, but it doesn’t really mean a whole lot.
Durable goods is interesting because that tells me that people are investing in things, buying things that last a long time so that they can deliver new services or new products in, say, three to six months time. So that would tell me people are looking forward. So if durable goods is a bad number, then it tells me people are really just trying to take care of today and not investing in the future.
Jobless claims. I don’t know. Sometimes it’s meaningful, sometimes it’s not. I think the sentiment around jobless claims is overhyped. The Fed is definitely watching jobless claims because they want to see wages and jobs come down. So with jobless claims, it’s one of those good news and bad news types of things. So we’re kind of hoping for a poor jobless claims so that the Fed can kind of tick off the box and say, mission accomplished.
Tony I just want to pick your brains on this. We’ve seen three straight days of market gains on Wall Street and this morning, or rather last night for you or today for you. We’ve just seen a reversal of that. Is this an indication that maybe fortunes might be changing going forward?
I think it’s a good question, and I think it’s hope that the Fed is changing course. And I think regardless of what comes out, say, this month, and I think probably next month, I don’t think the Fed is going to change course. They were caught flat footed. They said that inflation was transitory, they messed up, they’re embarrassed, and they’re going to make people feel it. And people are going to lose jobs and homes and all sorts of things because regional Fed governors don’t want to be embarrassed again. So I think at least over the next two months, they’re probably not going to change course. They’re going to continue to tighten. I don’t think there’s been a dramatic change in everything. I think this is a little bit of hope, and I think it is some earnings that have been reported that are better than expected. But I think in general, people are being very cautious about trades they make.
Tony let’s end the conversation with a look at oil prices. They are taking a breather on news that US stock bells have risen. How will that translate in terms of energy prices as the Northern Hemisphere moves into winter?
Yeah, the SPR, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve release, it’s put a lot of volume in the market in recent months. And of course, that’s lowered crude prices and it’s lowered the price of refined products. So after the election, and it’s no secret we expect the SPR releases to decline dramatically. And we’ve talked for a few months about how we expect crude prices to kind of spike towards the end of the year. And that would be spikes in crude prices and downstream products like, say, petrol. So we do expect that to happen in the North American market, kind of in Q4 and through Q1 out of the effects of that SPR release wear off.
And meanwhile, OPEC has also forecasted that China’s oil demand will decline by 60,000 barrels per day. Is that something that you see could cap further spikes in prices?
It could. I mean, 60,000 barrels isn’t a lot, but it could. I think if China were simply to end COVID Zero, it would really drive consumption of crude. So OPEC must expect further dampening of the economy in China, and that’s no surprise. I mean, China is really having a hard time right now, and whether or not they can come back in ’23 is questionable, so it’s no surprise. But 60,000 barrels a day really isn’t a lot, and I don’t think it would affect prices dramatically.
Tony, thanks as always, for speaking with 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 ahead.
Yeah, so we did see Meta shares plummet 17% on week fourth quarter forecast. And earning miss. It basically came up well short of Wall Street’s expectations. Earnings per shares earnings per share was $1.64 versus a $1.89, which was what was expected. Revenue was at $27.7 billion. Daily active users did meet expectations at 1.98 billion users, and the monthly active users came in at 2.96 billion versus 2.94 billion.
I mean, Meta is contending with a broad slowdown in online ad spending, challenges from Apple’s iOS privacy update and increased competition from other players like TikTok. It’s getting more expensive to run the company as Meta’s costs and expenses rose 19% year over year to $22.1 billion. And that’s something that Tony alluded to earlier, the fact that they’re likely going to see more layoffs moving forward. Tech companies have just been on a hiring spree that they cannot afford at this point. And I bet the WhatsApp outage the other day didn’t help a Meta’s fortunes either, at least in terms of its reputation and image. It could see a lot of people try to migrate elsewhere from using WhatsApp as their main communication source to another platform that is more stable, perhaps.
I must say we could wait until to see what happens towards the end of the year. Well, November actually, just next month when the midterm elections come, and we see if there’s any pick up in usage then.
That’s true. All right, it is 7:18 in the morning. We’re heading into some messages, and when we come back, we will be covering the top stories in the newspapers and portals this morning. Stay tuned. BFM 89.9. You’ve been listening to.
A podcast from BFM 89 Nine, the business station. For more stories of the same kind, download the VFM app.
Currencies have been in a flux with the US dollar gaining strength on the back of the rising Fed fund rate. Our CEO and founder, Tony Nash tells us if there are actually investment opportunities from this.
SM: BFM 89 nine. You are listening to the morning run at on Thursday the 21 July I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning. In half an hour, we’ll discuss the emerging market economies that are at risk of going the way of Sri Lanka. But as we always do, let’s recap how global markets closed overnight.
WSN: While I haven’t seen this in a very long time because every market that we’re going to report pond is actually in the green. So the Dow was up 0.2%, the S&P 500 up 0.6%, Nasdaq up 1.6%. Meanwhile in Asia, Nikkei was actually up 2.7%, hong Kong up 1.1%, shanghai up 0.8%, Singapore street times up 1.7% and our very own FBM KLCI was up 0.6%.
SM: These days are far and fewer between indeed when the board is completely green. But for analysis on what’s moving markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of complete intelligence. Tony, good morning. Thanks as always for joining us. So another choppy session on wall street, but the SP 500 posted its first back to back gains in two weeks. Do you think markets have bottomed and is there a sense of relief that results season so far has been pretty decent?
TN: I think the result season has been okay. It’s still a slowdown from the previous quarter. I think it’s really people taking a sigh of relief about the Fed. They’re was fear last week that the fed was going to raise 100 basis points for a few days and that really led to dramatic falls. And what we’ve seen is a sigh of relief that that’s unlikely to happen. We’re likely to see 75, which although that’s elevated, it’s less than a 400 basis points. So I think it’s more that than earnings right now because there’s not a specific sector that’s necessarily doing dramatically better or dramatically worse. Of course tech, we have some tech gains, but we also had other areas where things gained, so it’s more broad than anything else.
WSN: Tony, what did you think of Netflix? Sorry, Tesla’s results that came out just a few moments ago. Did it surprise you in terms of how well they’ve done considering the shutdown that they experienced in China?
TN: Yes, it did. And they banked a billion dollars on bitcoin. So I think that I’m hoping that Tesla starts to get more focus on their performance and their actual market rather than speculating on cryptocurrency. I think every business, at least in America is having to come back down to earth and focus on their own operations now and Tesla is one that really needs to do so. The results were good and that’s great, but I think more focus is needed, especially with the opportunity they have right now in the US.
WSN: And another thing I want to ask you about is some of these leading tech companies. So we see in Google, we’ve seen Apple actually coming out to say that they’re stopping. They’re hiring. At this current juncture, does this make you nervous about the state of the US. Economy or is it actually pretty good because the job market was too high and inflation was a major concern?
TN: Does it make me nervous? Yes or no? I’ll tell you what’s been happening here in the US. If you’re under 30 and you work for a tech company, you know that if you work for a company for twelve months and you jump to another job, you’re going to get a 20% to 30% pay rise. So for the last few years, if you’re under 30 or say under mid thirty s, you would work for a tech company for a year, then switch jobs and get a significant pay rise. So because of that, these tech companies have over solicited jobs. We’ve heard about these millions of unfilled jobs in the US. Those aren’t real jobs, okay? Those are jobs that tech companies have been waiting for people to move on from because they know their employees are going to move on after twelve to 15 months. And so they’re prepacking the employment queue so that they don’t have disruption in their business. That’s what that’s all about. So Microsoft, Google, Netflix, all these guys saying, we’re taking all these jobs out of the market. It’s really just them seeing that the market is slowing down and their staff aren’t going to jump jobs as much as they have been.
WSN: And one other thing I want to ask you about is the aviation sector. So last night, United also reported numbers that were below street expectations a lot due to capacity constraints across the industry. Do you think it’s time to buy this if we really believe in the reopening theme, because these are just temporary blips.
TN: Oh, the time to buy airlines was like three, four months ago. I would be really careful right now if I were to go on airlines. I’d want to know the summer travel season, it’s halfway behind us. So I think if you were buying airlines, you should have done it excuse me? You should have done it a few months ago and then seen the rise as we went into the summer season and sold just before earnings. But as we’re seeing some of their earnings come in somewhat disappointing, I think that’s the real kind of warning for, say, Q Three. So these disruptions, they’re not necessarily getting any better. Disrupted flights are not necessarily getting any better. So corporate earning or stock market prices are about expectations. They’re not about actual performance. So we saw the expectations in Q Two disappoint. So that’s going to really erode expectations for Q Three. So I would be really wary of looking at airlines right now.
SM: Okay. And if we take a look at Europe, the European Central Bank meets today to decide on whether or not to raise rates. What do you think they’re going to do?
TN: Look, Europe is pretty rudderless the ECB is pretty rudderless. They’ve got negative real interest rates and they don’t have a way out. So they’re kind of either already entered or about to enter a recession. So if they raise rates or tightened too much, they’ll steepen the negative slope of the recession. They’ll make it worse. If they don’t raise rates, then the recession will be a bit easier. But they’ll weaken the euro. And as they’re importing all of this power gas and oil and same natural resources, it’s just making those things more expensive in euro terms. So if they tighten, it’s likely about the purchasing power of the Euro more than anything else. The other part that they’re likely to do is look at things like demand destruction, which is what the Fed has been focusing on for about four, five months. They’ve been raising rates so fast that people feel less purchasing power and they stop buying as much. And so if the ECB raises, say, 75 basis points, which I doubt they will, what they’re really signaling to people is they want them to stop buying so much. But we really think the ECB is going to kind of have a moderate tone to the meeting and really not surprised the upside.
WSN: Okay, I want to stay in Europe and I want to talk about the week euro. I mean, at one point you said parity with the US. Dollar. But do you think that actually a weak Euro does provide some stock picking opportunities?
TN: Yeah, it can. I mean, if you look at those European companies that export a lot, let’s say to the US. That would give those companies opportunity to expand their margin in local currency terms while keeping their US. Prices either constant or raising them right. So I would look really hard at European countries who are exporting to places, dollar nominated locations to where they can absorb some of the same gains. For example, not a European company but Pepsi, okay, they make snacks and drinks and this sort of thing. Last quarter they raised their prices by 12% and they had a 1% volume expansion. So American consumers are accepting price rises, double digit price rises and they’re continuing to buy. Okay, so European companies could look that European companies that export a lot to the US. Could really look at this market and put that into their strategy for US. Exports. The problem in Europe right now, a big part of the problem is the expansion of energy prices. German producer prices rose by 30% last month and so they have a real problem with productivity or with profitability. Their costs are rising so fast they have to find a way to raise prices.
And they can only do that into a strong dollar market. It’s very difficult for them to do that elsewhere.
SM: Okay. And speaking of energy, currently, how much correlation is there between oil and natural gas prices and which one do you see undergoing more price volatility in the coming months.
TN: It’s almost zero, actually, over the last month. The correlation is zero point 607, to be precise. Okay.
WSN: It’s a real number.
TN: No, I actually did the calculation. I did the math. So that’s what I do all day long. So normally that’s kind of a zero seven to eight, which is a significant correlation. Right. What we’ve seen is that we’ve seen crude prices, downward pressure on crude prices over the past month. There’s been a lot of pressure, especially in the US. With the Biden administration really kind of bullying crude prices down now that gas prices have been pushed up because of the issues of gas exports out of Russia. Okay. And so you’ve had a disintegration or disconnection sorry. Of those correlations. Where do we expect more volatility? Well, we expect crude oil to be kind of range traded, say, between 95 and $115 for the next few months, that gas can continue to rise, especially if Russia does not turn the gas back on the pipelines. Which decision is, I think tomorrow or the next few days? If they decide not to turn those prices back on, the price of gas continues to rise pretty dramatically.
SM: All right, Tony, thanks very much for speaking with us. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete intelligence, giving us his take on some of the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead. Ending the conversation there with just a look at how natural gas and oil prices are expected to trend in the coming months. Crude oil to trend within the range of natural gas. Now, that’s where we could really see some price volatility if geopolitical situation in Russia and Europe doesn’t, I guess, stabilize.
WSN: Yeah. All this is going to feed into inflation. Right? And we are already seeing that in UK numbers. So it came out yesterday, hit a new four year high as food and energy prices continue to so. The consumer price index there rose 9.4% annually. It’s a lot, and it’s mainly due to fuel and food prices, which were the most significant contributors to the rising inflation rate that we’ve seen. So as a result, the bank of England might actually consider a 50 basis point high at its August policy meeting.
SM: Something to keep an eye on, and I’m sure something that the incoming prime minister, whether it’s Rishi Suna or Liz Truss, will need to start strategizing from now 718 in the morning. We’re heading into some messages and when we come back, does the antisexual harassment bill that was passed in parliament yesterday pass muster? Stay tuned. BFM 89 nine.
Sam Rines wrote a piece on business costs and uncertainty weighing on earnings this season. He talked us through what’s happening with interesting charts on Caterpillar and Old Dominion.
We saw Facebook turn dramatically this week and we saw KWEB up over 7% on Friday. At the same time, Amazon, Pinterest, and others with disappointing earnings. Tech isn’t really a sector-wide play as it was in 2020 and 2021. Alber Marko explains what should we be looking at in tech.
We’ve had a lot of action in Europe with Russia cutting off the gas in Poland and Bulgaria and a demand that oil and gas be paid in Rubles. Tracy Shuchart explains what it means for commodity prices and the market in general.
Key themes from last week
Earnings: COGS in the Machine
This is the 16th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration with Complete Intelligence and Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
TN: Hi everyone. This is The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. We’re joined today by Tracy Shuchart, Sam Rines, and Albert Marko. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe. Also, please note this is the last weekend for our CI future promo. $50 a month for thousands of assets reforecast weekly. So please go to completeintol.com/promo. Subscribe for $50 a month and you will get global market and economic information. Thanks for that.
So, guys, this week is a little bit exciting. We have a few key themes that we’re looking at this week. Two of them are earnings-related. One is COGS in the machine, which is related to a newsletter that Sam Rines put out today. The other one is tech. And the last thing we’re looking at is the Europe-Gas-Ruble chaos.
So, Sam, you wrote a piece today on business costs and uncertainty weighing on earnings. So can you walk us through this? We’ve got a couple of slides from your newsletter up. One is Caterpillar Earnings. Maybe you could walk us through that first and then we’ll go to the Old Dominion earnings and walk through why those are so important.
SR: I think it’s really interesting to kind of at least be able to get some real-world understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Right. We all know wages are going up. We know costs are going up. We know shipping costs are going up. But how that was going to be reflected through the earnings season was somewhat of an unknown. Right. We knew it was going to affect us, but we didn’t know to what extent.
The interesting part about Caterpillar and one of the reasons I like to point it out is that they had pricing power. They pushed prices pretty heavily down the system. The problem for them was that they couldn’t push the price as much as their materials and shipping costs went up. It was simply too big of a headwind, at least for the first quarter. Their orders are fine. The business itself is okay. But generally what we saw was pricing power. Not… There were a few, but pricing power was generally unable to keep up with the cost pressures overall.
The interesting one and kind of related to Caterpillar are Polaris. Polaris is one of the most interesting companies. It’s consumer-facing yet, it’s a manufacturer. It’s something you don’t need a new side by side typically. You don’t need it. Right. These aren’t needs. These are more of discretionary spending. They had a very similar problem to Caterpillar. But the end market user for these is very similar to Harley Davidson. There was another one that had issues.
The inventories are extraordinarily low. Right. Their inventory levels at dealerships are very low. So eventually when they can pick up their production, they’re going to be able to push up their production numbers pretty significantly just to be able to refill the inventory pipeline at their dealership. So while it’s a big headwind today, it’s worth watching call it nine to 18 months down the road when you begin to see signs of these material costs abating, the supply chains getting back to normal.
Those companies are going to be able to put up some pretty interesting numbers very quickly.
TN: So, Sam, will they leak in gradual price rises? Because it doesn’t sound like they’ve been able to do it all at once. But will they continue to raise prices even as, say, the primary factors of inflation start to abate a little bit?
SR: Oh, yes. That’s been a constant theme of this earnings season has been. We will continue to either try to find ways to squeeze costs out of the supply chain, and normalize those somewhat, but almost more emphasized was there will be price increases to offset all of this.
To your point on Old Dominion, they just tossed on fuel surcharges.
SR: If you’re going to have problems with freight, fine. But we’re going to surcharge you on fuel. And they only pushed about 50% of their overall gain. And year over year was pure surcharge. So it was an interesting one.
TN: And fuel charges are sticky, right. They don’t take those off right when fuel prices go down, they keep those for a year after the prices go down, right?
SR: Correct. Right. It’s the interesting part about all of this is these price increases are not going to be reversed. Caterpillar is not going to take off their price increases. Polaris probably isn’t going to take off some of their price increases, Old Dominion is unlikely in the near term. These are going to be fairly sticky over time.
TN: Okay. So last week when both you and Tracy weren’t here and Albert and I did the heavy lifting to keep the show going, we talked about sticky prices and we talked about how we hit new pricing levels. Even if the rate of inflation slows down, we’ve hit new pricing levels. Is that semi-permanent? Is that permanent or is that transitory?
SR: It’s a step function, right. Okay. You step up and then you’re not going to step back down. You step up the price increases and then maybe you can trickle two or 3% inflation on top of that going forward. But step-functions do not reverse. And I would say that this is much more of a step function type deal.
TN: Okay, good news, Tracy. You were going to add?
TS: I was just going to add I mean, the business survey. The Fed business survey came out small business survey came out this week and they were looking at it in four out of ten small businesses said they were looking at price increases of 10% or more. So this is across the board, not just for mega-cap companies.
TN: Right. Yeah. And even since I talk about coffee so much, even one of the small coffee roasters who I know, said his costs had risen 50% over the last year and he was only able to put in a 20 to 25% price rise. But I’m certain that he’s going to continue to gradually work price rises over the next year or two as we’ve hit this kind of plateau, or at least step function in price rises. So good news all around. Right.
So as we stay on COG, Sam, you had a portion in your newsletter talking about Meta, and we’ve got that on-screen talking about their G&A increase. Can you talk us through that?
SR: Yeah. So I thought it was pretty interesting. They increased their employee base by 28% year over year. I mean, this whole idea is that hiring is tough. It wasn’t for Meta. But the funny part is, or not funny. But G&A was up 45, so you hired 28% more people, but G&A popped 45. Again, that’s a step up that probably isn’t going to step down any time soon unless they’re going to begin laying people off. Right. Maybe it’ll roll out of earnings next year, but it’s not going well.
TN: We’ve seen some tech layoffs, right.
TN: Announced over the past week. It’s not like it’s not a huge trend yet, but we’ve seen a few.
SR: Yeah. And the other important part that I think was overlooked was Snapchat, Facebook, or Meta, whatever you want to call it, when they announced earnings, they cited that, listen, when you have inflationary pressures, wage pressures and you’re a small business, guess where the discretionary spend is, that’s marketing budgets.
Marketing budgets will get cut and get cut fairly dramatically and fairly quickly if you continue to have this. And not to mention if you don’t have the stuff to sell and you continue to have supply chain issues, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to spend a lot of money on marketing. So I think those two raised some red flags, I think we’re subtly overlooked by a lot of people sitting on.
TN: We talked about this last week and how a lot of ad inventories are likely to come online soon. So there’s a supply problem and a demand problem with those companies going forward. I think the names that come to mind will probably do fine. The smaller names are probably going to suffer. So it might be tough.
Albert, on that, we saw Facebook turned dramatically this week in the last half of the week after they reported earnings. KWEB was up 7% today, a stock that we talked about here a few weeks ago. But at the same time, Amazon, Pinterest, and others are disappointed. So tech was a sector-wide play in ’20 and ’21. It’s not that anymore, is it?
AM: Yes and no. The problem with tech is that there are about a dozen names that the Fed uses to pump the market. So forget about Pinterest. That’s too small of a company. We’re looking at Google, Facebook, Meta, whatever you want to call it. Not so much Amazon, but the other ones like AMD and whatnot? So they’re going to yoyo those earnings in those pumps. So what they’ll do is they’ll wait until Netflix…
They know that Netflix will miss and they’ll pump the market to soften the blow and then they know that Apple is going to beat so they’ll let the market sell-off and use that to drive up the market. So this is just a cat and mouse game by the Fed to just manipulate the markets until what they’ve been saying is a soft landing.
The tech earnings are just playing right into that narrative of theirs. They know what the earnings are beforehand and they just play the market like that. So going on with tech earnings? Yeah, I mean they are weak. We can see that they are incredibly weak.
Will they be weak for the whole year? I don’t know. They do like the Nasdaq. So I wouldn’t want to be short tech going into the summer. But that’s just my personal opinion. But then you see KWEB surge because the Chinese start talking…
TN: Ion subsidies. Right. And government activity.
AM: It is what it is and you never know what type of government contracts Meta, Google, or whatnot will start popping into their bookkeeping. It’s a really dangerous game to short tech in my opinion.
TN: Yeah, well it’s interesting to me to see the user’s numbers like aint Netflix and I know there’s a couple of weeks old now but Netflix goes down. Pinterest goes down, Snapchat. These sorts of things. Amazon was kind of tepid but Facebook was really good. So I think we’re seeing almost some elasticity in some of these markets as we see people going back to work and we see other things happening. We’re finding out who’s going to be there no matter what and whose demand is a little bit flexible.
AM: Yeah. And then you’ll also find that some of these tech companies will look to acquisitions to boost their user numbers going into the fall. So this is why I don’t like the short tech at this level.
TN: By the way, if anybody is looking for a tech acquisition. Right here.
AM: Yeah, cool. 46 billion. Cool 46 billion will do it.
TN: Okay. Let’s move on to commodities. Tracy, there have been a lot of issues in Europe with the ruble as we’ve seen more countries decide to pay for oil and gas in rubles. We’ve seen some interesting action with the Euro and the ruble and with gas prices. Can you talk us through what’s going on there? And really, what does it mean? Because we’ve seen the price action. But what do you see its kind of meaning going forward?
TS: I mean what it means is Europe’s not directly paying in rubles. Right. What they’re going to do is they’re going to set up an account at Gasprom Bank. They will continue to pay in Euros, dollars, and local currency. In turn, Gasprom Bank will convert that currency into a separate account. So it’s not technically against sanctions. It’s a workaround. Right.
The interesting thing is EU didn’t have a choice, to be quite honest. They’re dependent on Russia for 67% of their natural gas. They don’t have LNG storage facilities built out. Those are going to take at least two to four years. I don’t care what they say next year, it’s not going to happen. Those things take a very long time.
So right now, they’re kind of being held hostage by Russians. So they’re going to have to pay as much as they don’t want to. Now they can wean themselves off of Russian oil a lot quicker because you can have the Middle East pick up that slack and they don’t import all that much. Right. It depends on the country. But Europe is not a huge source of oil exports for Russia. So that can happen.
And so for what I foresee, they’ll probably do that just so that they say we’re getting rid of Russian energy. Right. So I think you’ll see Russian oil cuts, I think that can be done relatively quickly. But as far as nat gas, I think it’s going to take a lot longer than most think. Even though they said they wanted two-thirds off by the end of 2022 and then completely out of Russian gas by 2027.
Again, I think that’s going to take a lot longer than they anticipate.
TN: Yeah. Can you imagine the conversion fees that Russian banks are charging for Euro to ruble? We’ll never know. Right.
TS: Banks are going to make money. It’s good for Russia. Right. That keeps the currency stable and it keeps their economy stable. And so, I mean, it’s kind of a win for Russia on this because the banks are winning and their currency and economy are winning on this one.
TN: Yeah. So we also had an emergency kind of this week with Russia saying they would turn off gas to Poland. And they did. But Poland has taken other measures since the war started to get other sources of gas. So it didn’t hurt them all that much, did it?
TS: Yeah, no, not at all. I mean, it was Poland and Bulgaria. They’re very adamant from the beginning to get out of Russian gas. They also don’t rely on it as much as, say, Germany does. Poland already built out an LG storage facility tank that’s completed.
They also produce a lot of coal and they use a lot of coal. And so that was not a surprise to me, nor did it hurt those countries very much.
TN: Right. What country do you think is in the most difficult position right now? Is it Germany?
TS: Germany hands down. A lot of the reasons are because they don’t have any other pipelines into Germany except Russia. So they’re definitely in the weakest position right now.
TN: Okay. So, guys, what do we expect, like, with the ruble going forward? It’s hit its pre-war levels. Do we expect the ruble to strengthen?
TS: Right now, yes, I think that it probably will continue to strengthen just because they’re asking for payments of commodities in the ruble.
TN: They’re not asking.
TS: Well, yes, they’re holding hostage. But it’s not just in other words, it’s not just the energy complex. It’s metals, agriculture, et cetera. So I think that we’ll probably see that continue to strengthen.
TN: Okay. Hey, I also wanted to ask you about fertilizer. I saw some of the Fertilizer stocks come off a bit this week. I know that we’ve talked about fertilizer before. Is it still as urgent of an issue as it was, say, three weeks ago? And if it is, why are Fertilizer stocks coming, falling this week?
TS: Well, I think partially because we saw kind of natural gas pullback a bit. Right. That kind of alleviated the pressure. We also saw the broader market sell-off, which means sell what you have to if you get a margin call. Right. And you had something like IPI, whose earnings were not as good as they could have been. Right. Considering. So it’s kind of a combination of everything.
SR: Yeah. And you are beginning to see signs of demand destruction as well. There was an announcement by a Brazilian farming giant that they were going to cut their fertilizer usage by 25 or more percent this year. So, yeah. Yields down, fertilizer up.
AM: Not to mention the good old dollar looking like it’s going to go to 110 on the Dixie causing problem everywhere.
TN: What do you think about that, Albert? What’s the time horizon for 110?
AM: I think we get that within the next two months. Yellen is on a mission to destroy emerging markets. She’s going to do with the dollar. She did this in 2013 when she was Fed chair. So, I mean, it’s the same playbook. It’s nothing new.
TN: So if the dollar does hit 110, does it stay there for some time, or is it just kind of marking territory, saying, we can do this again if you don’t behave?
AM: I think it’s a moment in time. Keeping the dollar at 110 is going to cause really big problems across the world. So they can’t keep it there too long. But they can… Even China talking about the stimulus, 109 causes a problem for China. It’s quite an event to see that happen.
SR: Yeah. Into Albert’s point, and I think this is incredibly important, china has to buy food. Right. And they’re buying, you’ve seen the rip lower on RMB, CNY, that thing has gotten crushed over the last week. And they’re still buying corn and soybeans from the US en masse. And that’s getting much more expensive very quickly. That’s going to be a problem.
TS: The only thing that’s helping them right now is that their entire country is locked down. Right. I mean, that’s the only thing that’s helping slow the blow and kind of making these commodities pull back a bit so they’re not as expensive.
TN: But Xi has got to make some money to feed his people. Right. Otherwise, you’re going to have Mao 1961 all over again.
TS: What he’s doing is insane. Don’t starve your people. So obviously ulterior motives are going on there.
TN: Yeah. So we’ll talk more about China next week. Okay, good. Let’s have a week ahead lightning round, guys. What are you looking at? Kind of most Interestingly for the week ahead? Sam, if you can go first, what’s at the top of your mind right now for the week ahead?
SR: Top of my mind is going to be energy company earnings and what they’re saying about their production, whether they’re upping premium, where they’re getting production from, how they’re doing it if they’re doing it, whether or not Capex budgets are moving higher, how they’re moving higher and where. And then any comments on labor pipe concrete, et cetera, I think will be very interesting as we go through next week.
TN: I think you stole Tracy’s answer, though, right?
TS: Exactly what I’m looking at. I expect to look at production probably has not increased that much because I think they’re having labor issues and supply chain issues have not gotten any better, if not ten times worse. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Also always keep an eye on China. Beijing is just locked down or partially locked down. So how many more cities are we going to have, how many more States we’re going to have, and how many more people are going to be locked down for how long? Because that’s going to affect the commodities market in the midterm. But that said, if you look at the commodities complex, we’re still over 100, like 104.
So it’s still holding strong, even though we’ve had a lot of demand. They say about a million and a half barrels per day of China demand is kind of off the market right now.
TN: Yes. So if they come back online, it’s game on, right?
TN: All right. And Albert, what are you looking at for the weekend?
AM: Probably the most dovish sounding 50 basis point rate hike you’ll ever hear from the Fed. Like we did this and we’re sorry. If they want to break this market down sub 4000, go ahead and try to talk hawkish but I don’t think they want to do that. So Jerome will just put his foot in his mouth like usual and say something stupid but it’ll be dovish that’s what I’m watching.
TN: Sam, Fed guy? What do you think, Sam?
SR: I think the same. Listen, I think they’re going to try to avoid talking too much about another 50 basis points hike. They’re going to try to get away from providing clear forward guidance and be incredibly vague because if they’re vague about what they’re going to do then it’s going to be perceived as dovish. So agree with Albert, right? You get a 50 basis point hike and then we’re not sure what we’re going to do next, right?
TS: Somebody brought up like 75 basis point hike this week and the Fed was like, no, we’re not even considering that.
TS: Yeah, exciting. Sounds exciting. Okay guys, thank you very much. Have a great weekend. Thank you very much.
Fed Chairman Powell was out this week all but assuring a 50bp hike in May, also implying we may see a burst of quick hikes. Then everyone who said “it’s all priced in” two weeks ago panicked on Thursday and Friday. Mike Green shares what’s new here and why are we seeing the reactions now?
We’ve spoken before about Q2 earnings, expecting them to generally be weaker, partly on inflation, which every company is blaming for shortfalls.
– Snapchat missed earnings but it reported 64% revenue growth, with daily active users up 20%.
– Netflix lost subscribers. They’re now the tech cautionary tale.
– FB is falling in anticipation of an earnings shortfall next week.
– Tesla reported a 42% earnings surprise and they’re about even on week
We keep hearing about commodities getting smoked this week. What happened this week and what should we be thinking about right now? We’ve got a bunch of housing metrics out on Tuesday (Case-Shiller, etc). Do the guys expect to see an impact on house prices already or will it take a couple of months/another rate rise to have a noticeable impact?
Key themes from last week:
1. Powell’s Wrecking Ball (Dollar Wrecking Ball)
2. Tech Earnings
3. Commodities getting smoked?
Key themes for the Week Ahead
2. France election
3. Geopolitical lightning round
This is the 15th episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
TN: Hi and welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. Today we’re with Albert Marko and Mike Green. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thanks for doing that. I also want to let you know our CI Futures promo ends on April 30th. This is CI Futures, about 3000 assets forecast every month for $50 a month. That promo will end on April 30th. So if you’re interested, please go to completeintel.com/promo and check it out.
So this week we’ve got some key things from the past week. First of all, Powell’s wrecking ball and rate rises and the dollar wrecking ball that comes with that very important item. Tech earnings. We’ve seen a collapse in tech equities over the past couple of days. Not a collapse, but some really interesting activity. We’re going to talk through that. And then commodities. We’ve seen commodities, heard some people say commodities are getting smoked late this week. So let’s talk through that.
So Mike, first let’s look at Fed Chair Powell is out this week, all but assuring a 50 basis point hike in May. And a lot of people think it may be stronger for a longer period of time, maybe June and July even. I hear a lot of people saying a few weeks ago, it’s all been priced in yet we’ve seen kind of some panicking markets on Thursday and Friday. So we’ve got the 10-year on screen right now. So what is new here from your perspective and why are we seeing the reactions now?
MG: So the point that I would argue on this is that we’re in a feedback loop effectively where the market tries to price the Fed’s indications the Fed is in turn responding to the market. And so it’s leading to a dynamic where the Fed is saying, well, look how interest rates are rising, particularly at the back end. Clearly, we’re behind the curve. Therefore, we need to hike more and we need to convey to the market that we’re going to hike more. The market mechanically has to respond to that because you just can’t ignore it. Right.
You have to effectively think of it in a binomial tree type framework. The Fed has told you they’re going to hike more aggressively. Therefore, you need to shift the whole system up. Right. And that feedback loop, I would argue, is what we’re kind of captured in right now. And it’s part of the reason why the market is forced to respond to it in a risk off fashion, et cetera. We just don’t know if the Fed really actually knows what the underlying signal is and how much of it is us and how much of it is their insights onto the economy.
The second thing that I would just highlight is that the Fed has put themselves into the very uncomfortable position of last year, arguing that inflation was transitory. And this has been one of these really frustrating things for those of us that actually agreed with them that it is largely transitory in inflation rate. Right. So the rate of inflation is transitory, but the price level, I don’t expect oil to go back to negative $37 a barrel. That would be absurd. Right, right. So when you talk about the transitory dynamic, it’s typically thought of as the rate. But I think the perception had broadly been the prices themselves were going to somehow come back down and not adjust to the realities of accommodating the difference.
So I think that is sitting at kind of the core of the issue is that the Fed is now in the same way they were trapped in that transitory framework that people began to increasingly malign and make fun of. Now they feel this overwhelming need to come out and tighten and show that they’re actually serious about inflation and reestablish credibility, even as it’s very clear that the economy is starting to slow. And they’re then forced into the mantra of now saying, well, we see no signs of the economy slowing. And so they’re going to have to maintain that for a period of time or they sound like fickle policymakers.
MG: I think the market is understandably concerned and scared at how far they’re going to have to go to prove to us that they’re really serious.
TN: Right. And Yellen was out saying there will be no recession this year, which I mean, I hope she’s right.
MG: There’s a recession. Yeah.
TN: Exactly. So I was roasting coffee yesterday, and my coffee guy was telling me that coffee prices will stay elevated because of the buying cycle from the farms and so up and down the commodity supply chain, across, it seems, across metals, across crude, across ags. That timing has a real impact on the change in levels. The rate may not change much from here, but it seems like the level will remain elevated, as you’re saying.
MG: I think that’s right. And again, that’s why the transitory, I think, was so toxic and confusing to people because they were thinking, oh, we’re going back to $1.75 gasoline as compared to the $6 in chains that we’re currently paying in California. Right?
MG: That’s very hard to accomplish under the current framework. And the coffee example is a really good one. It’s not so much the level. The adjustment to the level is painful. Once that level has been reached, all sorts of changes in relative purchasing activity can occur. Right. You can decide you’re going to roast your own beans because it’s cheaper than somebody else’s beans. You can decide that you’re not going to go to Starbucks, you’re going to do your coffee at home and put it into a travel mug to save money.
Whereas the Wall Street Journal highlighted you can reduce your consumption of beef and chicken and increase your consumption of lentils. And yet another example that just pisses people off because it feels completely disconnected from the reality that they’re in. But those are all true statements, right. Those are adjustments that people make once the level settles down. Where the real problem occurs is the uncertainty about the level.
Is it going to be 20% higher next year? Is going to be 20% lower next year? That makes it very hard for me to plan. And that’s really what we’ve experienced. And now what your feedback, what your contacts are telling you is no, prices are going to stabilize at a higher level because that’s what’s required to induce the supply response.
MG: Okay. It sucks. Coffee is more expensive now, but at least it will be in the stores.
TN: Right. So going down the path of, say, your Wall Street Journal saying you need to eat lentils instead of beef. With interest rates rising, it seems like consumers would utilize more credit during that adjustment period. With rates rising, it seems like it would make things much more difficult. So there’s a double whammy on consumers. Are we seeing that impact right now?
MG: I don’t think we’re yet at the point that the higher interest rates are feeding through in a way that matters. Right. So the vast majority, something like 95% of outstanding mortgages are no longer adjustable rate. They’re fixed rate. And so that is going to be very slow to adjust. We’ll see that the marginal purchasing behavior. And we are absolutely seeing that. We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in refinancing and purchase applications. We’re starting to see traffic deteriorate. We’re starting to see new orders roll over. We’re starting to see consumer spending intentions begin to plummet.
And there’s two reasons why people can use credit cards. Right. You can use credit cards to smooth over effectively saying, hey, guess what? I’m getting paid my bonus next week. Therefore, I’m going to make the purchase now and I’m going to repay it. Or you can see people start to tap credit because they are so strained that they can’t do anything else.
And unfortunately, the evidence that I’m seeing suggests it’s the latter, that it’s the lower income households who are now taking advantage of high cost financing choices in order to sustain a level of consumption that they’re having difficulty retreating from.
If your rent goes up and you don’t want to be homeless and their coffee prices have gone up, at some point, you need to expand your purchasing capacity. And that means using credit.
TN: In basic terms, what we’ve been talking about on this show is demand destruction. The Fed is aimed at demand destruction. And that means that demand curve actually moves in, right?
TN: So people are going to have to rein in their behaviors because we’re likely at new pricing levels for many things. And so that consumption is going to have to decline a bit to adjust to the new environment. Albert, you had a comment?
AM: Yeah, two comments, actually. The thing about the demand destruction and the supply, from the Fed’s point of view, they think that getting rid of demand involves eliminating supply. Right. So that a little bit has to do with the rates, but also what Mike said about doom loop. I mean, that’s very interesting because that’s exactly what we were talking about in multiple areas, not just for bonds, but Yellen herself, she’s had her minions go out in the bond market and just straight up lie to bondholders, saying, oh, they’ll recover, they’ll recover while everyone keeps buying, and they just keep butchering the long bond.
The 30 years just been 3.1 today or 3.5. It’s crazy. She did this in 2013 where she had this little ploy where she has preventing capital flight, leaving the United States in order to prop up the US equity markets. And that’s what we’re seeing today. And this doom loop between the Fed and the treasury, because they’re not on the same page. They’ve got different policies, different ideas of how to keep the market, and it’s causing problems.
MG: I would actually add to that and just highlight that this is, of course, the downside to not having people who actually have ever traded or negotiated a swap or done anything else along those lines in positions of decision making. You don’t want to put a fox in charge of the hen house. But the reality is it is somewhat useful in terms of understanding what’s actually transpiring. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Janet Yellen says something along the lines of, well, there’s no sign of a recession because they’re working very first order, first derivative type dynamics. It’s that second and even potentially third derivative that ultimately conveys the dynamics of what’s really happening.
And the second part is that the Fed operates under a model in which negative real interest rates, which is basically a function of inflation expectations and the current level of yield. Some people roughly approximate it with trailing inflation and current yield, which is completely insane. But at least if you’re doing it in a structural fashion, they tend to presume that the only reason why markets move is due to information.
The market has some insight, and this has been one of the huge policy innovations. And I use “innovations” over the last 20 years has been this dynamic of, okay, well, if we’re trying to figure out market expectations, let’s use market inputs. But those market inputs in turn respond to the policy makers. Right?
MG: And there’s all sorts of structural features to markets. If I happen to short a pay or swap shop, for example, and my risk manager is forcing me to cover that risk, it has no economic signal to it. It’s simply a market feature that they are then trying to interpret as indicative of underlying demand. That’s just wrong.
AM: On top of that, you have a political component where Yellen tied to a certain party or not just Yellen but others tied to a certain party are going to do things beneficial to that party.
I know economists and financial guys don’t like to hear that, but that’s just the reality of it.
TN: That’s the reality of national accounts. We also mentioned the dollar wrecking ball. We’ve seen over the past week, Yen devaluation or Yen depreciation. We’ve seen CNY devaluation. CNY has gone from, I think, 6.34 to 6.49, which is a dramatic deval of CNY. How much of an impact does the dollar have on those markets, particularly because we’ve heard about the dollar losing influence for the past, I don’t know, 50 years. But talk to us, Albert, what’s going on there?
AM: Like I said, Yellen wants to restrict capital flight, and a strong dollar does that. It’s killing the emerging markets. They gave Japan the go ahead to devalue the yen in order to offset anything that China does asymmetrically against the United States, because they have been. They’ve been in a little bit of a tit for tat for quite some time now.
So the dollar at 110 just absolutely annihilates emerging markets, except for the markets that are commodity based, like Canada. I’ve been in Canada. I love the Canadian economy right now. It’s strong oil based, gold based. So that’s where I’m coming from on the dollar right now.
TN: Great. Okay.
MG: I would just broadly highlight but by the way, I don’t know if you saw the CNY today, but it moved huge again today. So it’s actually now 6.50. Well, fantastic in the same way that like a root canal is fantastic. Right. But yes, it’s a wonderful technology. Nobody wants to experience it.
But just to put this in context, this is a move now that is equivalent in terms of devaluation of what we saw in August of 2015, in terms of the much-heralded… Right. And I would just highlight that I think this is an important move. I think it’s telling you that there’s all sorts of stuff that’s going on. I tend to fall into the category of terms of trade dynamics, more so than interest rates or even anything, those dynamics.
Japan allowing its currency depreciate, leading to depreciation for the Chinese currency or contributing to depreciation for the Chinese currency. They want a competitive in global export markets. Right. So there’s an element of China needing to respond and maintaining competitiveness versus a significant devaluation that’s occurred in the Japanese yen, which is basically, if you think about it from an American perspective, means I can buy 30% more of what a Japanese worker produces today than I could a year ago. Not quite exactly. Right. But somewhere in that range.
The second part of it, though, is that the terms of trade have just turned so ugly for these countries where the things that they need to import, they have incredible food insecurity, they have incredible energy insecurity, and those are the things that are rising in price. And we’re seeing no signs that those are going to retreat, whether it’s LNG that Japan now has to compete with China in Europe or from the United States and elsewhere or whether it’s wheat or rice or corn.
I believe, Albert you may know this better than I do but I believe Malaysia just announced export restrictions on palm oil, worried about their own food security. This is the way the system breaks down. And the irony of course is the US, are we going to get unlimited palm oil imports? Of course not. But can we use soybean oil or canola oil in lieu of palm oil for frying our Twinkies and our food? Of course. Right. We can do that. The US can survive almost anything from a food or energy shortage standpoint. It’s the rest of the world.
Albert referenced the emerging markets. I mean man, if you are a cash crop producing emerging market that is now struggling with issues around food and energy security, this is going to get bad. It’s really bad.
AM: It’s really bad. It’s causing political uncertainty in many regions of the world. And again use the phrase doom loop because politicians over Covid policies have created a doom loop in trade.
TN: But let me ask you and we need to wrap up this topic but I want to take this full circle because it’s fascinating. With the currency devaluation depreciation in China, Japan and the food issues could that potentially push, say, North Asia to put more pressure on Russia to wrap up the conflict so that the commodities out of Russia and Ukraine can alleviate some of this price pressure on emerging markets. Is that a possibility?
AM: It’s a possibility, but I think it’s a small possibility. Things have changed because of the Ukrainians sinking that battleship. They got bears at that point.
But Interestingly though, now that you mentioned, I just thought of it. Japan and China have always competed for the fishing rights and then sea Japan. So you could see a future. Want to say naval skirmish but a couple of boats taking some live firearounds.
TN: Sure. Yeah. Or a mistake. Right. You could have a mistake that results in something like that. Okay, let’s move on to tech. I think we can talk about this issue for hours.
TN: Let’s move on to tech. Robert, we’ve spoken about key to earnings for a while, expecting them generally weaker, partly on inflation and other pressures. But this week we saw Snapchat miss earnings, but they reported 64% revenue growth and their active users were up 20%. So their business seems to be going well. Netflix lost subscribers and we saw them kind of as the tech cautionary tale. Facebook is falling in anticipation of their earnings for next week. On the bright side, Tesla saw a 42% earnings surprise, but their stock, after moving up a bit, really hasn’t moved much.
So on screen, we’ve got Facebook and Snapchat kind of showing their downward trajectory over the past month. So can you talk us through kind of what’s happening with tech earnings? Is that a rotation? Is tech really out of gas? What’s going on there?
AM: I believe tech is out of gas. A lot of it has to do with inflation and rates and whatnot. But I think tech earnings had gone into the stratosphere when Covid was just blazing because of the lockdown. People stayed at home, got on Snapchat, got on Facebook, got on Google and whatnot. Right.
The Tesla earnings. Those are a joke. It sounded like Tesla is the most efficient automaker in the world, which is absolutely a joke when they’re making cars intense. And it took the market up like 70 points. And then as soon as some of the better analysts started digging through the information, immediately sold off again. And then that actually triggered, I think that triggered the market to sell-off a little bit because people are worried about tech earning. I think Google’s going to miss big because their brick and mortar advertising scheme is hurting. Last month and this month it doesn’t look pretty.
But I want to take some caution here because everyone’s going to get beared up on these tech earnings as everyone’s seen the Huawei, big puts coming out there and whatnot. But we’ve seen time and again these tech earnings missed on revenue. And then the guidance is fantastic and the market rips 200 points in a week. I don’t want to be short tech at this level right now.
TN: Right. Mike, what are your thoughts?
MG: The obvious component is that we’ve got extraordinarily difficult compares for most of the tech companies. Right. So you go into a pandemic and every kid needs a computer, every kid needs a cell phone, every kid needs that. And I’m speaking to you over a microphone that was purchased during the pandemic and a computer that was purchased during the pandemic and a video camera that was purchased during the pandemic. Right. And I upgraded my software and my kids got new phones and all this sort of stuff that all occurred. Well, guess what? It’s not happening now. That’s harder.
And when I think about the reinvestment that needs to occur as we talk about going back into the office and into work, et cetera, it’s much less on the soft side. It’s much more on the simple dynamics of how do we restock a pantry at a company cafeteria. Right. Which hasn’t had to happen for a while.
MG: So I am generally skeptical of it. I’m particularly concerned about the consumer side of it. One of my friends many years ago had highlighted that the emergence of cell phones as a consumer good had by and large, replace lots of other types of spending. So it reduced clothes, reduced spending on everything else. People are now tapped out on buying those phones. Right? They’re out of money and they’re using their credit in one form or another. So I’m skeptical on particularly Apple.
I agree with Albert, by the way, on Google. I think people are underestimating the importance of the bricks and mortar, and they’re also underestimating. I think this is one of the challenges for the Netflix. I’ll be 100% straight with you in terms of my household’s reaction to it. I mentioned it to my wife. She’s like, well, we’re obviously switching to the advertising supported model as soon as that becomes available because, candidly, I don’t even like watching Netflix to begin with. I could care less. If I have to watch ads and get it for $10 as compared to $20, then I would argue that this is happening broadly.
As we move back to an advertising supported model, the inventory of advertising space is about to explode at the exact same time that demand is relatively weak. So who thinks we’re going to get premium prices for advertising anymore? These models are screwy in terms of how badly they could deteriorate. If you simultaneously have a boom in advertising space at the exact same time that demand is relatively short.
TN: But lucky us, we get more campaign ads until November.
Okay, great, guys. Moving on to commodities. We saw commodities pretty much get smoked in the last half of this week. We’ve got one month history of WTI and copper up on the screen. So what happened this week, and what should we be thinking about right now with respect to commodities?
AM: I think that in terms of commodities, I think the biggest component right now is to see what happens in the Ukraine war, whether Russia stops because the Europeans and the Biden administration is using that as like the Putin price hike and whatever. But that’s what they’re blaming it all on. And a lot of people are worried about this being an extended war. I don’t think it’s going to last more than another month or two.
But for commodities, especially wheat and fertilizer, the moment that Ukraine comes back online, those things are just nosedived. And the Fed wants that to nose dive because they’re trying to kill supply in order to tackle inflation. So that’s from my perspective, there.
TN: So a lot of this at this point, you think depends on Russia, Ukraine.
AM: Yeah. That and the dollar. That and the dollar. So the dollar goes up, prices will come down.
TN: Okay. So appreciated dollar, did that hurt commodity prices this week?
AM: I think so. Go ahead, Michael.
MG: Yeah. So they’re not quite inverse. But remember, when we see prices, we’re seeing our prices, we’re not seeing the rest of the world’s prices. And exactly to the point that we were raising before with Japan and everything else on a year to day basis, as much as you may think, oil prices are up in the United States, they’re up maybe 50% in the United States. They’re up 100% if you’re in Japan. Oil prices 100% on a year to day basis.
AM: Wow. Right.
MG: I mean, that’s just an extraordinary outcome. You’re looking at these kind of underlying characteristics, and you have to say to yourself, the rest of the world is going to start to experience significant declines in aggregate demand.
Forget the supply component that Albert is highlighting. Focus much more on the demand. And when we think about commodities, developed world demand is extraordinarily efficient. We don’t throw copper on the ground. We don’t discard it into landfills. We recycle copper. Right. We recycle aluminum. We clean up the sludge off of our factory floors. That doesn’t happen in most places around the world. Right. Scrap found out in the open is still a significant fraction of aggregate supply. So we just use it more efficiently.
As things shift back here, we’re going to become more efficient at it. And I got a lot of heat earlier this week for posting a chart that said, look, I’m not seeing this commodity super cycle. I’ll say I’m not seeing this commodity super cycle. I don’t see the underlying outward shift in aggregate demand in almost any commodity that says we’re going to have truly sustained high levels of inflation and need for significant additional production other than effectively the disaggregating of supply chains. And you’ll hear things like huge copper demand because of electric vehicles. Right. That is selling human innovation so short, it’s just ridiculous.
If copper prices go higher, we’ll figure out how to use less copper wiring. That’s the history of the world.
AM: That’s absolutely correct. That’s when they started using, like, gold flakes and sprays and different types of adhesive made out of whatever.
TN: But it generally takes a big demographic change to enter a commodity super-cycle or some sort of supply cut-off, right?
AM: Yeah. I can see a super-cycle within one or two commodities peaking and then coming back down and another one peaking and coming back down. But this insane super cycle that people were expecting, I don’t think it can happen. I agree with Mike.
TN: Okay, great. Let’s switch gears and look at the week ahead. Guys, we talked a little bit about housing, but we’ve got a bunch of housing metrics coming out next week with Case Shiller and a few other things. Because of rate rises, do you guys expect to see a near term impact on house prices? Are we kind of in a wait and see mode? What do you think is happening there.
AM: Politically? The Democrats want housing to come down. Right. And I think some of this bond action is meant to do that to be honest with you. I think they want houses down in the 30 year up. These prices, these housing prices are insane. It just stuns me to see some of these homes going for 150% of what they were two years ago.
And at some point the buyers are going to dry up. I mean, these cash buyers are going to dry up. And the credit now, I think in Tampa, it’s like over 6% for a 30-year mortgage. It’s going to make it even more unaffordable.
TN: But how much does that have to do with housing supply? Are we seeing more supplies coming on the market?
MG: Well, we are seeing more supply of new homes because the delays in completion means that homes that were ordered 18 months ago are finally starting to show up on the market. And that’s been one of the challenges. Unlike what we saw in 2005, 2006. This is not a function of massive amounts of new housing being built in areas that previously did not have housing.
So the character of 2004, 5, 6 was effectively converting farms and semi rural environments into subdivisions of endless numbers of homes that look identical so that people could have a home and then drive an hour to their work or an hour and a half. I mean, that was just crazy.And that was killed by the spike in oil prices that occurred with Hurricane Katrina and Ivan.
This time around, you just have a shortage of supply in terms of people willing to move. And unfortunately, the increase in interest rates, paradoxically, can exacerbate that. Right. Because I don’t want to leave my house and buy a new house because I have to enter into a new mortgage. Right. Of the mortgage. So, perversely, this could end up preventing supply from coming onto the market because when I go to look to replace my home, I can’t do it. And so it’s not clear to me that prices are going to take the hit that people are looking for.
I think at the low end, you’ll see certainly some pressure on new homes. You’ll see some pressure. But perversely, that just exacerbates the problem. Right. If new homes get hit more than existing homes, guess what? We’ll get less new homes.
TN: Okay, great. So far, it’s a very positive show, which is fantastic. End of a rough week into a rough show.
Let’s talk a minute about the French election, guys. It’s next week, what do you expect to happen in markets, say, with the Euro and French equities.
AM: Yeah, actually, we ended up buying the Euro today, looking for Macron to win reelection. Everyone that sees my Twitter feed knows I’m a conservative. Le Pen is a disaster for France, for Europe, transatlantic relations with the United States. She just can’t win and she won’t win. But the thing is, a lot of people think that she’s going to win.
So I think the Euro is going to probably pop half percent, maybe even percent, come Sunday into Monday. And then the dollar might actually come down and the market might actually rally a little bit crazy.
MG: I’m certainly sympathetic to that. I mean, the degree of sell off that we have seen, everything ranging from the yen to the Euro, et cetera, it’s hard to sustain this type of momentum. Ultimately, I’m exceptionally bearish on Europe. I’m exceptionally bearish on Japan for reasons that are largely unrelated to the immediacy of it.
I agree with Albert, and I actually would highlight something that he said that is really important for people to understand. When you describe yourself as a conservative, most people would say, okay, Marine Le Pen is a conservative. Right. Because she represents anti immigration and she represents behave more like French people. Right. But the reality is conservatism is all about let’s not break the system and try to replace it with some utopian vision. Right. Let’s try to work within the existing system to make it better.
When you enter into periods of uncertainty like what we’re experiencing, there’s a reason why the incumbent almost always wins, because people don’t want radical change in their lives. It makes it far more difficult. And so I just am not seeing any evidence that Le Pen has the chance that she’s claimed to and not that I want to join Albert on the potential tinfoil hat conspiracy standpoint, but I agree with them. I don’t think she’d be allowed to win.
TN: Okay, interesting. So a little bit of stability in Europe, which is great.
Guys, let’s have a quick geopolitical lightning round. I know there’s a lot going on in Russia, China, Ukraine, elsewhere. What’s on your mind, Albert, when you talk to your politics, what are you talking about the most?
AM: Honestly, China. The civil unrest in Shanghai, that’s actually looking like it’s spreading is kind of really concerning. For years, Xi’s been holed up in bunkers and can’t go.
You know, China, Tony. I mean, you have 1.3 billion people mad at you. You just don’t go out. Xi has this problem at the moment. So for me, it’s the civil unrest in Shanghai spreading to Guangdong and even outwards.
MG: Wait a second. So XI has 1.3 billion people mad at him? Did he say something against Bitcoin? Sorry.
AM: That would be 2.3 billion people because all of India is there too.
MG: 1.4 billion people. But yeah, exactly. You get really mad about that, as I’ve discovered.
Now, listen, I completely agree with Albert that, and this is again, part of the great irony of everything that’s been going on and I’m somewhat guilty of this myself looking at the dynamics of Russia and the moves that they were making and I think both Albert and I would still come to the conclusion says they’re going to take Ukraine and they’re going to take it in a much more violent fashion because now they’re really pissed.
MG: But the simple reality is that I think most people had described a degree of competence to Putin and Russia that has now become very clear that the authoritarian and central planning tendencies associated with that style of governance has its flaws. People are slowly waking up to this.
They’re now beginning to see this in China where it’s like well, wait a second. Maybe Xi’s not planning for the next 100 years. Maybe XI’s planning for the next two days to figure out where… without getting killed.
TN: That’s exactly it, Mike and I’ve been saying that to people for years. China does not think in centuries these guys are making it up as they go along. I’ve been inside the bureaucracy. I know it. They’re making it up as they go along.
So you hit it right on the head. They’re planning for the next two days or two months. They’re not planning for the next 200 years.
AM: Yeah. And the Chinese, they’re quite practical but it’s just too big of a country. I mean, there’s so many different regions and dialect. How do you keep something that big cohesive manner? You don’t.
TN: It’s hard. It’s a collection. It’s like the EU or four of the EU. But it’s very complex for one guy to manage. So guys, thanks very much for that. I really appreciate it and have a great weekend. Thank you very much.
Can Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, GM make better electric cars than Tesla? Last year, sales of electric cars surged 44.6% despite the general downturn of car sales in the global market. In early 2021, a number of automobile giants announced plans to go fully electric within the next ten years. Can they beat the likes of Tesla and offer innovative rides for consumers?
SO: Last year sales of electric cars surged 44.6 despite the general downturn of car sales in the global market and that trend looks set to accelerate in early 2021. A number of automobile giants including Volkswagen, General Motors and Volvo announced plans to go fully electric within the next 10 years but can they beat the likes of Tesla and offer innovative rides for their customers?
For insights on this we turn to Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence based in Houston, Texas and Jason Salvucci, national manager of the Overseas Military Sales Group based in Seoul but currently in Okinawa. Well, a very warm welcome to you both and well Tony good to see you again.
I think it’s our first time connecting this year but well we’ve seen we’ve heard some very exciting news coming from these automakers and the likes of Volkswagen and General Motors. They’re going all electric they’re really moving away from this at the main business that they’ve been building over the decades based on combustion engines.
What’s led them to take this risk and do you think it’s the right move?
TN: I think, it’s a move that they have to make. Whether or not it’s a move that they want to make. I don’t think there’s really a lot of debate there but I think their equity market valuation they have to catch up well.
I don’t know that they will but they’ll try to catch up with say Tesla or something within terms of the equity market valuation but the customer perception they’re actually making viable EVs that they want is really critically important especially with younger customers. But from a balancing perspective at least in the US for example there are emission standards and the more electric vehicles they produce that also allows them produced to produce other larger vehicles SUVs and other high polluting vehicles. So as long as on an average basis they keep it down to the emission standards.
They can produce EVs to allow them to produce say the SUVs that other say consumers want. So, it’s both perception and equity market valuation as well as balancing out the regulatory aspects.
SO: So, they’re wearing the different sort of costs and risks here. Well, Jason, what’s your thoughts on this? I mean the world’s biggest legacy automakers scrapping their combustion engines. Do you think they’re making the right move?
JS: You know, I kind of got to agree with Tony that this is electric is the future. I mean, they have no choice. It’s not just the standards. Electric cars are easier to maintain. They’re quieter. They’re cleaner. They’re more efficient. I mean, the power is better it’s the way everything’s going. I mean, we don’t really have much choice in the matter. While it may not be 100 electric tomorrow. We’re getting there.
The big manufacturers if they want to, they want to play with you know companies like Tesla, they have no choice. That’s where the future is.
SO: And the force Tony, Tesla is without a doubt the world’s most iconic electric car company but do you think it’s leading the global market is going to last with all these other competitors now coming into the market these giant auto businesses? And are these car makers catching up quickly enough in terms of battery technology and other key technologies?
TN: Well obviously, they have a lead but will they be able to keep it as the real question. I think they may be able to keep it for a few years but I’m not sure that they can keep it say over the medium to long term.
So, Tesla has a lead but that gap is closing. And with technology they can use external, say sources to either acquire or develop the battery technology that they need to compete with Tesla. So, I think really at the end of the day it comes down to: can you produce a quality vehicle? Can it perform like consumers want and does it drive like consumers want?
So, the novelty of an EV is wearing off. And as it goes broad-based that first user advantage or first user interest wears off. And the broad market really just wants a functional car that is electric. And so, you have the segmentation and other things but I think Tesla is going to have a tougher job going forward to keep the lead that it’s got.
SO: Well, Jason is it as straightforward as one might think for these giant automakers to transition into all EV?
I mean, what are the major differences that traditional car makers are going to have to adapt to and really face as they transition into all electric?
JS: Well, the manufacturing process for one, you know, the number of components in a combustion engine vehicle, compared to an electric car, it’s night and day. I mean it goes beyond the manufacture of the vehicle. It’s the maintenance of the vehicle it’s really everything.
The shell may look the same but when you transition to, you know even a mild hybrid to a all-electric vehicle. It’s completely different. Not only will the way the cars are sold have to change but also because how the customers buy the cars. How they maintain. How they operate the cars everything changes. It’s not as simple as just shifting from one to the other.
So, I think that the manufacturers have quite a task ahead of them. They are really playing catch up, if they want to grow in this and be industry leaders as they have been for years like Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford. They were industry leaders for years and they’ve surrendered that position to a startup company like Tesla.
SO: Right and there was some news this week that Volkswagen might be changing its name in the US to Voltswagen. So, really goes to show. It’s not as easy or straightforward as simply changing the name and probably…
JS: That’s an April fool’s joke by the way. Yeah, it was April fool’s joke. I fell for it too. Voltswagen is their April fool’s joke.
SO: It was a bit too early for April fool’s day but well thankfully yes, they’re retaining the Volkswagen brand. And well Tony, internet companies like Apple and Google and apparently Xiaomi now and Huawei. They’re working on electric vehicles as well and it’s clearly not going to be such an easy ride. So, what’s really in it for them? And what kind of innovations do you think they’re going to bring to the market as tech companies?
TN: Well, that’s a great question. Jason brought up a great point about the business models and as you move into the more software-based business models that EVs are you move into a different ability. In a different way for consumers to pay for things. And you know, I think it’s possible for kind of that big expense of a car that a consumer would buy instead of it being financed. It could be a service fee that’s put over a period of time. I don’t really know what that model looks like but these software companies are companies that really balance out especially Apple. A hard asset like a phone plus monthly recurring software fees.
And so, these guys will come into the market. Understanding the risk associated with making hardware and balancing that out with software fees. Whereas automakers traditional automakers at least are accustomed to one big transaction that gets financed by a third party. So, it’s a fundamental change in the business model.
SO: And Jason, now South Korean car makers, Hyundai and Kia. They currently set fourth place in the global EV markets and of course Kia having unveiled its EB6 this week. And Honda continuing to expand this EB lineup, of course.
So, how competitive are these South Korean car makers products? And do you think they’re really going to have to step up the game? Now as market leaders global market leaders Volkswagen GM they’re going out all electric?
JS: I’ve been in South Korea 20 years and the way cars have improved in the last 20 years is phenomenal. When I first got to South Korea. Korean cars were far behind but now the fit, the finish, the quality is amazing.
I think the larger auto manufacturers are going to get a run for their money by the likes of Hyundai and Kia when it comes to electric vehicles. I really do.
SO: So, what kind of… I suppose, what kind of advantages or what kind of features do you think they offer Jason that might really help them really engage in the competition especially as all these car makers go electric?
JS: It seems to me the… not just the quality but the design of the Korean cars is a little more exciting than some of the other manufacturers. That’s what I’ve noticed over the last couple of years, is that they’re good-looking cars and they’re reliable. And the price points are, well, I mean they’ve significantly come up in cost in the last 20 years, that’s for sure but they’re nice. And I see a future of like a subscription type of service for electric cars because you know the United States every three years to 39 months. Americans are trading their vehicle up trading in one car for another car. And we have a traditional dealer manufacturer, dealer model that we have to require our customers to go through a subscription service in the future.
It is definitely, in the makes for electric cars because you’ll trade out of them much more frequently.
SO: So, it’s not just the hardware but also the software that’s going to bring about a lot of changes in how we consume electric vehicles, as well. And of course, everyone cares about the design too. And well Tony, it seems that EVs really are the future but it looks like for now the stock market is quite confused about the prospects they’ve been fluctuating. They’ve been declining over the last few weeks. And of course there was a boost on Wednesday after the Biden administration announced its plans to really ramp up green vehicles and infrastructure but what do you make of these market fluctuations? And how does Complete Intelligence really project the demand or market for electric vehicles in the near future?
TN: Sure, obviously there’s a healthy market ahead. I think the equity market fluctuations over the last few weeks are really just, that its markets searching for the right price. And there are so many different variables with bond prices. And currencies. And equity markets that are going into the calculations around the stock market prices for these companies but I do think that those companies that will not only crack the battery technology. And the value proposition for the market but also the business model, as Jason mentioned. Those companies are the ones that the equity analysts. And the investors will really want to follow.
So, Tesla is a high visibility leader, early leader in electric cars. And I think they’ll remain a leader but the volume of cars that they produce compared to say a Volkswagen on an annual basis is tiny. And so, the scale that a Volkswagen or a Hyundai or somebody can bring to this market can overwhelm almost an artisan car maker like a Tesla.
That’s I don’t mean that as an insult to Tesla at all they’ve done some amazing groundbreaking work but they just don’t have the scale that a Volkswagen or Hyundai has.
SO: Well, the likes of Volkswagen and Volvo. They’re going all electric Jason but Hyundai seems to be putting its eggs in multiple baskets. It’s been betting on hydrogen cars as well. Which right now are considered a bit less economical. And there’s also a lack of supportive infrastructure in most parts of the world.
Do you think this investment is going to pay off for the company?
JS: I think the future is multi-faceted. I don’t necessarily see the entire replacement of the combustion engine, anytime soon. I mean, they’ll definitely be hybrid vehicles, will be mild hybrid plug-in hybrids. There’ll be some hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. I think that there’s multiple avenues that manufacturers will have in the future.
So, that we can kind of have something for everybody. I don’t know that the investment in the infrastructure for hydrogen pays off because right now extracting the hydrogen requires fossil fuels. That’s a bit of a problem until they can crack the hydrogen extraction of via solar or something like. That it’s a bit of an… it’s not there yet. I don’t think.
SO: And Tony, before we go now there’s a massive EV market in China. And recently, Huawei technologies. They’ve come out and said they’re going to invest billions into that market.
How do you see the prospects and do you see China sort of leading the global market in terms of EVs just with the massive number of consumers they have?
TN: Sure, I think, Yes. I think China’s challenge is moving their vehicles beyond China and beyond Asia. There’s so much intense competition from Korea, Japan, the US, Germany and so on and so forth, that I think their challenge will be taking an electric domestic, electric vehicle market that will be massive. And moving that into other countries whether it’s safety standards or features or business models.
I think, there is something especially with technology that is specific to China that is very difficult to move beyond Asia. And so, if there is a Chinese EV maker, who can move beyond China and beyond Asia. I think they’ll do very very well.
SO: See, well, this is all we have time for today but that was Tony Nash, CEO and founder of Complete Intelligence and Jason Salvici, national manager of the Overseas Military Sales Group.
Thank you both so much for your insights today. And to our viewers, as always, thank you for watching.
Tony Nash is back in the Morning Run, hosted by BFM 89.9, as he points out the crude oil price and how long to expect the rally, considering factors like weather, demand, and supply. Tony also mentioned about a potential pullback and snap and how you can better be prepared for it. Should you continue buying tech stocks or move elsewhere? Also, they discussed crops and where the prices are going this year.
❗️ Discover how Complete Intelligence can help your company be more profitable with AI and ML technologies. Book a demo here.
Tony Nash from Complete Intelligence, from freezing Texas, shares with us the current supply constraints in the US impacting oil prices in the short- and medium-term.
Produced by: Mike Gong
Presented by: Philip See, Wong Shou Ning
WSN: For some color on where global markets are heading, we have in the line with us Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Tony, are you freezing out there in Texas?
TN: Yes, we are. We haven’t had it this cold air for decades. So it’s it’s been a really interesting week.
WSN: That has had an impact on oil prices. Bloomberg showing Brent crude at $64 per barrel, WTI at $61 per barrel. So how badly impacted our energy markets at the moment? Where do you think oil prices are going?
TN: A lot of this is very short term. What you’re not seeing that the traders really pay attention to right now is that a lot of refineries are closed because of weather and they’re starting to close for annual maintenance. There’s this presumption that there’s a demand pull, which we’re not really seeing from anywhere in the world right now, and that the winter storm issues will pull energy prices. But again, the fact is the refineries that would take this stuff are closed. We expect this to be short lived. This is an extension of a crude price rally that we saw that we expected to come in Jan, it’s lasted into February and we really don’t expect this to have a lot of legs to it.
PS: What do you think the outlook looks like then for the mid-term like quarter to quarter three?
TN: We would see 10 to 20 percent off of this price? We don’t necessarily think that this is a sustainable level short of some sort of supply cuts. But the weather in Texas, for example, we’re going to be kind of in normal weather ranges in two days. What we’ve seen this week and the close down, as we’ve seen this week, it’ll take people a couple of days, maybe a week at most to get things back on line. So this perceived supply shortage will be back on line fairly soon.
WSN: How about yields on U.S. 10 year bonds? Because they’ve hit a new high one year high. What what is that trying to tell this? What a market try to tell us?
TN: U.S. is trying to raise money and they’re willing to pay more for it. I think that is is really it. I think there is a growing fear that equity markets are as high as they’ll get. We’ve started to see more of that tension come in into chatter over the last few days. People are willing to pay to get out of markets, to park their money in debt.
So I’m sure it helps the U.S. as they’re raising more money for stimulus and for operations. But as we creep up to four thousand, that is just unimaginable for a lot of people. And it’s not as if we are doing better as an economy than we were in 2019 or the first quarter of 2020. This is built on stimulus, as we’ve talked about before. It’s built on central bank activity.
And you can only stretch that so far before things have to snap. We’ll see some of these things that are at double and triple and quadruple kind of the standard multiples. And P is the only way to measure this stuff. But we’ll see things that are really, really stretched, snap into a more reasonable region. But it’ll happen any time tomorrow, three weeks from now, a month from now, whatever. It’ll just happen. It’ll happen any time. And it’s best to be prepared for it.
PS: So are you expecting some pullback eventually? Right. What is the tipping point where investors will essentially do that exodus or flock to U.S. Treasuries then?
TN: One of the tipping points is going to be the resolution of stimulus. I’ve been saying for weeks that stimulus will not be what the administration wants it to be. There are such high expectations put on that stimulus right now and they’re not going to get it. They’ll get a lot of it, but they’re not going to get all of it. Expectations are sky high. And when it doesn’t hit, I think that will be one of the catalysts.
But there are other things like when the crude price starts to fall because this supply constraint isn’t there anymore. These sorts of things, these things add up and then they snowball and and then you start to see markets really, really take a dove. We’re not necessarily calling for a 2008 generational type of decline in markets. It’s just a bit of a pullback so that people can just say, “OK, wait a minute, let’s check, take stock how businesses are doing. Take a look at our investments and our allocation and then reallocate.” That’s really what it’s about.
WSN: Where would you relocate to and what are the safe haven assets? Because almost every asset class on a year to date basis is up. Right. And maybe except for Google, which is down six percent on the year today.
TN: What you’re likely going to see is a pretty serious rotation out of technology where people have focused on because of the work from home activities. This may not be immediate, but I think you’ll see a rotation out of a lot of the work from home stuff as people start real life again and you’ll see people move into. This is not really my the basis of our outlook. But you may see more of a regional move into things like tourism.
These things have just taken real hits. A lot of them have had speculative rises, some of the cruise lines. But some of them are still way down. All of this depends on gradual normalization. But I can tell you, Americans are really tired of being locked in, really tired of not socializing. And some of these things are going to have to start up again.
PS: What about not all out commodities then, like agriculture and precious metals?
TN: We had some real pressure. And part of the reason of that pressure was because there was a perception that a lot of the Chinese corn crop didn’t come in last year. But a lot of the drought was outside of that zone. Some of that pressure was alleviated.
But still, we’re seeing some pressure on wheat right now in the U.S. It really all depends on how much the current cold snap impacts the output later in the year or the ability to plant. Right now it’s not terrible.
Until we start seeing real demand come back in entertaining and in consumption and these sorts of things, we’re not going to see a major demand pull on food because people are already buying their standard cook at home type of things right now as they’ve rebuilt their behaviors over the last year. We’ll see that change. But unless we see a drought or unless we see an issue in a high consumption part of the world, we’re not necessarily going to see a boom in those places.
WSN: All right. Thank you for your time. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his views on global markets and saying that, hey, oil prices are going to come under pressure probably in the next two to three months, because this is not really driven by real demand, is just probably weather patterns which are going to normalize anyway in Texas in a few days.
PS: He also made a point about oil, where this, I think, a slight surge in prices is actually a short term because supply is going to get back on quite soon.
WSN: Yeah, but other interesting news is actually the ongoing saga of big tech versus Australia, because it looks like Facebook has defied Australia’s push to make big pay for news by banning the sharing of content on its platform in the country. And this is the most far reaching restriction is ever placed on any publisher in any part of the world.
PS: So the extreme step to remove Australian news came as Google separately struck a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp diffusing a long running dispute between the two companies. The dramatically different approaches could mark a pivotal moment for the media industry, which had hoped Australia’s tough regulatory approach would help reset its terms of trade with Google and Facebook worldwide.
WSN: So the moves by Google and Facebook came on the day Australia begin debating laws that would force big online platforms to license news. Now Facebook’s action will have a global impact. Under the provisions, news from Australian publishers will be blocked on the platform for all Facebook users, regardless of where they are based. The Australian government said it will continue to engage with Facebook. Press ahead with legislating the code, Canberra also warned that withdrawing news from Facebook’s platform in Australia could dent its credibility with users.
While this is quite big stuff. Actually, yes.
PS: Yes. I mean, Australia wasn’t the first country to, you know, get into this spat. I think you really was in having discussions. And France and Spain already had deals with a lot of with Google and Facebook with respect to media purchase. But it’s a question about publishers.
WSN: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, right. We do know media companies are suffering. Right. Álex has come under pressure. Subscriber growth has come down. How a media company is going to generate the revenue. So in the past, all these big tech companies, the argument was that they got to earn super normal above what is the what super normal profits without paying the likes of the media companies because they were using these media companies content to their benefit.
So some countries like Australia and even if you try to kind of diffuse the situation and have, I suppose maybe in their mind, a fairer playing field. But the Google deal nonetheless, if you look at it, the Google deal with News Corp announced on Wednesday goes beyond the Australian market, extending to Murdoch’s titles such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in the U.S. and The Times and the Sun in the UK. No other news publisher has reached a single deal with Google across multiple countries.
Now, critics say the deal would benefit News Corp. rather than the rest of the news industry.
PS: Yes, well, we’ve been talking about the price. And since you looking at Google’s valuation, I suspect Google’s to be the winner because they have just really this unique access to this quality content. So. So why not?
WSN: Well, they’ve pledged so far to spend one billion over the years on buying news content and reach agreements with publishers in about a dozen countries.
But we’ll be watching this space because we do a media outlet.
But up next, we’ll be discussing the recently announced national unity blueprint. Stay tuned for that. BFM eighty nine point nine.
Thank you for listening to this podcast. To find full great interviews, go to PFM Goodbye or find us on iTunes, BFM eighty nine point nine. That is the station.