The IMF has upgraded its GDP forecasts for developed economies but what is the outlook like for developing economies in South-East Asia? The Morning Run asks Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. They also get into insights from the earnings out of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, as well as how traditional automakers will have to adapt in light of the EV boom.
This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/big-us-bank-earnings-and-the-future-of-global-automakers on April 15, 2021.
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LM: The IMF has upgraded its GDP forecasts for developed economies, but what is the outlook like for developing economies in South East Asia?
TN: It’s actually not bad to look at this IMF report. We had such a pullback in economies in 2020 that we really have to look at the growth rates in 2019, 2020, and 2021. To understand it in context, Southeast Asia looks to be doing pretty well when we average those three years out. There’s growth in just about every country except Thailand, now with a slight pullback over that time. And so what that means is Thailand will not necessarily back up to the 2019 levels unfortunately, but Malaysia is 1.7%. In Asia, 2.4%. Singapore, 0.38%. So Southeast Asia is growing. Europe, on the other hand, there is only one country that shows growth over that period, which is the Netherlands within the Eurozone. So Europe has a bit of a problem. The US continues to grow, though around 1%.
NL: Meanwhile, is the sharp rise in March, U.S. CPI prices compared to February a good sign or something to be concerned about?
TN: We didn’t see long term inflation effects and a lot of kind of buzz about long term inflation affects or medium term inflation affects in the US. But our view is that this is two factors. One is the base effect, meaning we saw so much disinflation or deflation in 2020 that we’re seeing a base effect on that. The other one is supply constraint. So we’re seeing hold back in supply chains or we’re seeing supply chains catch up from closure.
There is a constrained supply which is driving up prices as supply chains continue to equalize and balance out. We should see those prices return to normal. If we go back to the IMF forecast, we don’t necessarily see rousing growth for 2021 compared to, say, 2019. So we have the manufacturing capacity in place. So I don’t necessarily see demand outstripping supply to create the inflation that many people are talking about.
NL: When do you expect the situation will normalize?
TN: It really all depends on when countries open up and and that sort of thing. I would do three of twenty one is when we start to see things more normal, I think it’ll work out in between now and then. Of course, currency dynamics have a lot to do with that, but we’ll have to see what happens with the dollar with CNY and the euro to really understand how that will shake out. But we think we’ll see normalization in Q3.
RK: The big Wall Street banks have kicked off earnings season with numbers from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. They beat estimates, but are these numbers sustainable or just a one off blip following a what was really a tough year?
TN: They both did really well in terms of return on equity. And that’s really one of the major requirements for banks. The real question is around loan. So we saw a spike in loans in the middle of 2020 in the US, largely on the back of small business loans and very low interest rates and government programs to push loans out. Loans are down in Q1 of ’21. There is an expectation that loans will perk up again in the second half of ’21. I’m not quite convinced we’ll see the loan growth that was talked about today with JP Morgan’s call. I think we’ll see loan growth in the second half of ’21, but I’m not necessarily sure that we’ll see the spike that we discussed on the call.
LM: So Tony, Legacy Cockburn’s and IT companies are both rushing into the electrical electric vehicle space out of these two, who’s likely to come out in front?
TN: I think it’s a combination. Car brands make really good hardware, but they’re really not great software makers. So I think there’s going to be a combination of the car brands relying on battery makers and relying on software to make great electric vehicles. There are a lot fewer parts in EVs. And so these supply chains that the car manufacturers had to have for internal combustion engines change pretty dramatically for EVs. They’re going to have to rely on battery makers and software makers.
I think the real question for the auto manufacturers is what is that business model going forward? I think they may learn from software makers with the recurring revenue model. So we may take a car and pay a monthly charge for that car, almost like combining finance and the car itself. So carmakers have a recurring revenue model with regular upgrades similar to the way maybe some mobile phone carriers operate, those sorts of things. I think it’s a stretch to have the one time payment. I think carmakers see that finance revenue go to other people and they may want to do that themselves with EV.
RK: Out of curiosity, do you have any thoughts on what will define whether a legacy car brand is going to succeed in the new car world? Because a lot of them have been hesitant to move. They’re going to have to make partnerships with the battery mate because they’re going to have to make partnerships with software makers is going to be the two defining parts who they’re putting on the battery and the software name.
TN: Yeah, I think it depends on, you know, the first mover is not necessarily the winner. So I think Tesla ultimately, they’re a great company. They make fine cars like every car company. They have problems. But I think they’re fine. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be the winner. I think with Volkswagen announcing, you know, big moves in the market a couple of weeks ago, say if Toyota really I mean, of course, they’re going after it already. But if there are real moves in that direction, I think the very, very large scale carmakers will ultimately win.
A lot of this has to do with regulatory and subsidy regimes within the consumption countries. So it is more expensive to buy an electric car. There is not the infrastructure necessarily to have electric cars to drive long distances. So the subsidies that national governments put out to push that market forward are going to have a major impact on the adoption of those cars.
The real danger, I think, is it’s going to take a long time to rollout that infrastructure and other things. So the real danger for the guys who invest in EVs in a big way is a different type of technological change that could come around. I don’t know what that could be. It could be a more efficient internal combustion engine. It could be, you know, I don’t know, a different type of fuel or something that’s a lot cheaper and a lot easier to use.
So there are a lot of question marks around the rise of EVs. I don’t necessarily think that it’s guaranteed that EVs will take over and the big car companies are going to go on a percent to electric vehicles.
RK: The large scale makers like Volkswagen, Toyota, they’ve got they’ve got essentially a conglomerate of other brands within them. Do you expect to see more consolidation, especially as this? Because the car industry hasn’t been doing well that great over the last few years and we’ve seen more M&A. We should we expect more consolidation, especially after last year?
TN: I don’t know how much more there is to consolidate. I think it may get specialized boutique. When you have technology changes in an industry, you always have specialized boutique companies that come around. We saw this in mobile phones, say, 10 or 15 years ago, and those ended up being purchased. So I think we’ll have an era where we’ll have even more TV companies, small ones that end up being bought by the larger guys. So, you know, a technological change really pulls a lot of innovation. Big companies are really not good at innovation, so they typically have to acquire it. Will it Tesla be acquired? Probably not, at least not at this valuation. But other small companies, early stages could potentially if they have very good tech. So I think that’s the way they leapfrog. I don’t think it’s the massive processes that they have internally, like a Volkswagen today. I don’t think that’s the way they leapfrog.
LM: Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Tony, that was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us some insight into what’s happening in global markets.
RK: So we are talking about cars very quickly. I see this headline here that Jilly’s Lotus cars, miles, raising four billion ringgit.
And they’re only doing this to help the iconic British sports and racing automobile brand to expand into the IV market in China, according to people familiar with the matter. And this is a story from Bloomberg. So Geely is working with advisers to slander potential investors interested in funding the round. And that could see that would value good value lotus operations at about five billion U.S. dollars. This is going to be interesting because this is, of course, was formerly part of the Proton Group, which was then bought by Geely.
LM: And so so we’re going to be heading into some messages now and then. Up next, taking a look at Mithras financing with financial columnist Pankaj Kumar. Stay tuned. BFM eighty nine point nine.