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Musk opens Tesla factory in Germany

Tony Nash joins the BBC Business Matters podcast for a discussion around what’s happening in the world right now: Malaysia’s working class, Tesla’s new branch in Germany, Biden’s recent visit to Europe, lifting of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, energy crises in Europe, and so much more.

This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172xvqwxfg1cr7 on March 23, 2021.

Show Notes

ST: Tony Nash, economist in Texas, CEO of Complete Intelligence and host of The Week Ahead, a weekly YouTube show on markets and geopolitics. Hello. Good evening, Tony.

TN: Hi. Good evening. Good morning.

ST: Tony, let me bring you in here on this one as well. I mean, you may be living in Austin, Texas, at the moment, but is there anything you want to pick up on because you grew up in this area?

TN: Sure. Yeah. I think what Jessica says about the migrant labor is a key issue because it prices a lot of Malaysians out of working class jobs. So if those minimum wages apply also to migrant workers, then it presents a fairer playing field for Malaysians. Without that, it’s a labor arbitrage and it’s a domestic labor arbitrage. So I think the Minister has a tough job ahead of him in that respect. I do think, though, as you mentioned in your interview, it’s a good time for energy. And I think if Malaysia can swing the current energy prices into investment and technology, I think they could look at some seriously interesting opportunities.

ST: Yeah, indeed. As he said, he was being helped by the price of oil at the moment. All right, Tony and Jessica, for the moment. Thank you both very much. Tony, let me come to you on this one. You’re based there in Austin, in Texas. So is Tesla. Now, when are they opening their big factory there?

TN: First, I want to say I love the statement that Germany is not known for risk affinity. I thought that was a highlight, but the Tesla factory in Austin started production in December of 21, and they have a grand opening on April 6 of this year. So they’ll start rolling cars off the factory line. It should be in April.

ST: Okay.

TN: So it’s a hugely optimistic statement by Tesla to do all of these openings. It’s fantastic.

ST: Yeah. We have to wait and see where the plans are for the next one then. Tony Nash in Austin, Texas, what do you make of this? How is this going to go down with American producers?

TN: I think when these restrictions were put in by the Trump administration, the sense that I always got was that the UK got caught up within some of its Brexit and immediately post Brexit issues. My understanding of that time, that era was that the tariffs were really focused on countering subsidies and nontariff barriers. And the UK steel industry is not as reliant on subsidies and nontariff barriers as the European steel industry is. Of course, there are some, but my understanding was that that wasn’t as big of an issue for UK steel. So I was always confused why the UK got caught up in this. So since it’s out, I don’t think specifically UK steel is the issue. I think Chinese steel is the bigger issue by American producers, and the dumping of Chinese steel on global markets is really the main focus.

ST: Just as a quick aside, the other items that got caught up in this. I don’t know whether they’re sort of like a little footnote and almost like an aside to this, the jeans, the whiskey and the Harley Davidsons.

TN: Look, the UK is suffering on that side of the deal, right? I mean, if you can’t get American. I’m sorry. I’m just kidding. So anyway, once it’s done, all that stuff will go through, which is great. So a little bit of bourbon next time I visit London would be great.

ST: Oh, no, we need to take you to enjoy some Scottish whisky, I’m sure. But that is the other question that’s always in the background now of this one now coming through to the forefront is now this is out the way. Could there be talks again, restarted again on that sort of full scale free trade deal with the US? Do you see that as happening anytime soon?

TN: I think Americans would welcome it. Absolutely. I think there is a warm spot in many Americans heart for the UK, and I think Americans would absolutely welcome it. There would be almost zero opposition to it.

ST: All right, Tony, for the moment. Thank you. Tony. Let me bring you in. Now, President Biden is traveling to Europe in the next few hours. He’s starting with a NATO meeting, also meeting with EU, European Union and G7 leaders. They’re now to Poland for discussions about the humanitarian response. What do you expect from this felt that this is more of a signal that he’s actually there. He’s made the trip or something more significant?

TN: Well, I think he has an opportunity to do something very significant when he speaks to the European Council. The EU right now is developing a defense plan and putting together plans for hundreds of billions of euros worth of spending on defense. And if Biden were to endorse that at the European Council, it would send the message that the US is very supportive. Unfortunately, within US government, within State and Department of Defense, there are career bureaucrats who are opposed to Europe defending itself. So if Biden were to make a very clear statement at the European Council that he supports Europe putting this debt package together to put its own very strong defense together, it could be a significant trip.

ST: How is this playing back at home for him? I was looking at his approval ratings earlier. He’s a new low of 40% as according to a poll conducted or in the last couple of days. Is that as a result of what he is saying or what he is doing at the moment or anything else?

TN: The biggest thing that’s dragging him down right now is inflation. And the White House has really tried to say that inflation started when Russia invaded Ukraine, and Americans know that it started much earlier. And so Americans have been very skeptical since the White House has tried to say that inflation lays at the feet of Russia. They’re very skeptical. His polling has really declined over the past, say, two months, partly because Americans feel like they’re being misled on that, and it hits people’s petrol tanks and it hits their pocketbooks and everything else. That’s the biggest issue that can make him unpopular.

ST: But I mean, just staying, though, with his stance on Russia and Ukraine, how is that particularly playing out at home? Would people like him to get more involved or less involved? And is it purely just domestic matters that they have on their minds at the moment?

TN: I think people see the news and hear the news on it and kind of the headline, Putin is a bad guy. It’s hard to disagree with that. But I think many Americans that I speak it to and many who I see say in social media and other forums, they just don’t want to get directly involved. Americans are happy for Europe and happy to support Europe to solve this problem. But Americans generally, from what I can tell, just don’t want to get involved. So we’re happy to send aid, we’re happy to send materials and so on and so forth. But most of the Americans, at least that I talk to, maybe I’m only talking to a minority of people, but they really don’t want to see American personnel on the ground there.

ST: Yeah. There are suggestions that he will announce measures to end European reliance on Russian energy, or at least some sort of plan or ideas or opinions on that. What could he possibly suggest? What could he put on the table, throw on the table for that?

TN: Texas where I’m living, we have a lot of gas in Texas, a lot. We flare a lot of it, which means we burn it at the well, that will require many more vessels to transport liquefied natural gas, sure. But we’re very happy in Texas to support the energy to Europe. So I would think that part of a plan has to include US energy going to Europe. It may not be all of it, but it surely should be part of it.

ST: Not just the tankers, but obviously the ports that are able to take that on board and then the infrastructure that would be needed there. Tony, it’s cost of living that’s dominating the headlines for you, isn’t it?

TN: It is, yeah. I’m really curious to see what Jessica is going to say after that. So we live in Texas for the energy capital of at least the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. So seeing, say, WTI and Brent at the prices they are is really helpful to my neighbors. It’s really helpful to the state government here and the taxes that we raise. Unfortunately, there has also been a massive influx of people into Texas over the past year or two years. So I have a friend who’s selling a house right now in Houston, and the price has risen by 30% in the past six months or something like that. So real estate inflation here. It’s not just petrol or gasoline, it’s not just energy, it’s real estate. It’s everything. As I said, we’re seeing an influx of people from outside California, New York, other places coming into Texas and they’re used to paying a lot more for things. So people moving here will find a house online without seeing it and buy it. And the prices are relatively cheap to what they’re paying in wherever they’re from. So Texans are facing what people in Idaho and Oregon and some of these other States where Californians have moved in the past.

We’re starting to face some of those issues and the cost of living is becoming a real issue here.

ST: Totally cutting out people who now can no longer afford to buy them where they’ve been born and grown up. Tony Nash. Joining us from Austin, Texas and you, wherever you are in the world, listening to us today on Business Matters. Thank you very much for your company. This is Business Matters here on the BBC. See World Service. Until next time, thanks for listening. Bye.

Categories
QuickHit

QuickHit: The Anglosphere and the Multi-Speed Recovery

Macro specialist, geopolitics and history commentator Nick Glinsman joined us for the first time on QuickHit to discuss how the Anglosphere compares to the world in this multi-speed recovery in the wake of Covid.

 

Nick is based in Brazil and he brings decades of experience to macro, markets, and politics. His background is basically London and New York with a bit of Europe and, Australia and Hong Kong. He worked with the Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch. He’s doing a lot of advisory work and the ability to express views on the markets, geopolitics and macroeconomics in the market.

 

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on April 8, 2021.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this The Anglosphere and the Multi Speed Recovery? QuickHit episode are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any content provided by our guests are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

 

Show Notes

 

TN: Nick, for a while you’ve talked about this concept called the anglosphere. Can you help us understand what you mean by the anglosphere?

 

NG: I’ll dig into it. I like the fact that you’re talking about the link between geopolitics and economics because with Trump and Brexit, that’s where what was a very boring macro environment suddenly started to become differently exciting. The politics would start to drive some of the macro markets and actually what’s interesting is  Brexit and Trump, part of the anglosphere. Not the formative part of the anglosphere.

 

So what we mean by the anglosphere is looking at countries that are historically tied via culture but critically also via common law, legal system, because that defines how the economy and how commerce can run. If you go back in history, there is a big difference between common law countries and roman law countries. Common law countries think of European Union countries and that construct. So what we mean by the anglosphere is being, better start with the UK because it is the mother country, it’s still the mother country for where you are currently still. If the US were now part of the commonwealth. You’re looking at an anglosphere. Now typically when I refer to it, I’m talking about UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Five Eyes.

 

You could loosely add two countries. One of which has an anglo-saxon common law — India. The other one works much closer as a defeated entity country in World War II — Japan. So you’re getting the quad, which I would maintain is part of an angular influence, at least, if not anglosphere entity.

 

Let’s stick with that grouping. You’re looking at countries that have a similar legal system, similar financial structure, they have banks, central banks that are lenders of last resort and traditional backups, concept. Remember the European Union doesn’t have banks.

 

Back to common law. Common law also in this environment. This is where it’s getting critical. So Five Eyes is I would posit it’s the ultimate defense alliance.

 

TN: Even New Zealand, still? Ah, you know. Long discussion. That’s so much sarcastically.

 

NG: I know what you’re saying. Although she has the relation in the State of Victoria in Australia, who is actually not known as Kim Yong Dan. But if you look at what they’ve just done with the central bank, there is still a similarity there. And of course the travel corridor that’s about to open on the 16th I think it is, is between Australian and New Zealand. So as much as she kowtows to the panda in Beijing, they are still part of that structure.

 

So back to the common law and the financial. So you’ve got countries with central banks that act as lenders of last resort with independent monetary policy, you have independent fiscal policy and I would include of course in both these, Bank of Japan, RBI in India and so on so you’ve got independent fiscal policy, independent monetary central bank, which you don’t have in Europe.

 

There’s been no Hamiltonian moment there. So you have that flexibility and you can see that flexibility. You also have much more, common law enables Schumpeter’s creative destruction and thus reconfiguration. Much easier chapter 11 in the US or bankruptcy and start again. Right. Not so easy to either stop or start on the roman law. So that when you think of where we are now, you’ve gone through a pandemic where inexplicably a lot of countries have remained closed, the reopening is going to need that reconfiguration.

 

You’ve also been the countries that are advancing with the vaccine quickest of those that took a very commercial view as governments in terms of getting them… so you had operation walk speed in the US and you had a vc person take over the procurement policy and the vaccine policy in the UK. Private Sector innovation. And in fact, in the UK, you have that triangle, Oxford, Cambridge, London, that’s without biotech and so on and so forth, very flexible. You even have a situation where the famous Astrazeneca factory in Holland was financed by the British. Not by the Dutch.

 

We can get into that on another episode of the great vaccine debacle. But I think that’s part of the precautionary Roman Law System that the EU runs versus the go get innovative system that comes with the anglo-ceric countries, the common law system and the structure of finance business so and so forth.

 

TN: Okay. So it sounds to me like when you talk about the anglosphere and you look at it kind of post pandemic or at least post first wave of disaster in the pandemic as we enter a recovery, it sounds like you see a widening divergence between those with say common law and relatively independent central banks versus the other law formed be it roman and in independent fiscal policy as well.

 

So help me understand the… so we just had this IMF report come out earlier this week about 5.1% growth or whatever this year and everything’s amazing and which we know, given, it’s all base effects and if you do a three-year average, it doesn’t look good at all. In Europe, the only one, over that three years, the only one with positive growth is The Netherlands. Not even the UK. But I would argue there, they lean toward you know more of a British style than other styles.

 

So if we’re having a two-speed or multi-speed recovery, would it be fair for me to say that you believe the anglosphere will recover faster than the other spheres?

 

NG: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re better expert on sinosphere than I would be. But I think the growth is going to disappoint because they’ve pushed so hard on the string of debt. Okay.

 

In terms of the Euro, Europe, I think there’s a very simple way of looking at things. It’s extent of vaccination and compare those and what does that mean? It’s now being said out of UCL, University College of London. UK’s herd immunity on Monday, 73%.

 

You can see there’s data coming out of the UK that is explosive as there is in the US. People are looking at the European and thinking, okay let’s close until August or beyond because this vaccine debacle is even worse. Everybody’s going to take Astrazeneca in Europe even though for the young women of age below 30, the chance of getting a blood clot is 1 in 600,000. Where the child’s getting Covid is substantially greater.

 

Because Europe and the Roman legal system has this precautionary black bent. It’s clear that this whole debacle in Europe has delayed that coming out of meltdown. The European summer season as the Germans would say is kaput.

 

TN: If we have this kind of two-speed recovery or multi-speed recovery, and let’s say Japan is part of the anglosphere, would you say Japan would be leading Asia out instead of China? Now I’m talking about real data. I’m not talking about Chinese 8.1% growth numbers like fictional. I’m talking about actual real performance with actual real usable output and you know all this other stuff.

 

NG: I’ve got so that’s going to be the case actually. I really do have that sense and I also, given the belligerence of the Chinese regime right now. You’ve got vocal and slightly belligerent actions against Taiwan, of course, which I’m with Albert on that. They’d have already invaded if they were going to do it. And you’ve got what’s going on in the Philippine islands with all these ships tied together.

 

I remember a very famous situation where chief ancient China economist from HSBC came into the office and talking about China and then we asked coming into that particular office, name unmentioned, always an aggressive to and fro Q&A, and then we have one of us asked about China, how’s the recovery going after Fukushima. Blood was coming out of this chad’s mouth having to talk a bit about China.

 

And we know that there is a much more passionate… we have passion against Germany or France as a Brit or as an Englishman come soccer. But, we love each other.

 

TN: Maybe that’s a bit strong. But we’ll use that.

 

NG: Maybe strong for Germans but with the French, there is a deep passion there and somebody keeps reminding the agent. But in the Far East, there has been that, you see that tension with the South Koreans and Japanese. However, the Chinese are forcing people out away from some of this stuff.

 

Japan with Australia and India will enable a lot of these countries to look elsewhere. Isn’t it ironic going back to the anglo-sphere link and that publicly is United Arab Emirates who are being given credit for getting India, Pakistan talking together. I have no doubt behind the show, the English are very active there because you’ve got a cricketer in charge. She made this game… So there’s stuff going on that gives you signals as to what could be happening.

 

It was rather like a mutual friend of ours, we were discussing India in terms of trade and I was saying, the UK and India are going to have a free trade deal as soon as it’s possible once they’ve overcome some of the agricultural stuff. And that person said India will do a trade with the EU well before they do it with the UK. And I’m saying hold your horses. No way!

 

TN: It’s familiar.

 

NG: One, it’s familiar. Two, one of the problems that the EU’s have with trade deals with anglospheres countries is legal interpretation thereof. And you know, I think they’ve been discussing it for 8, 10 years, EU and India, they’ve got a sub agreement already in the UK after several months.

 

TN: Just coming back to this kind of overall topic of the anglosphere and the multi-speed recoveries, so it does sound like you almost have this triangulated recovery from your perspective from India, Japan and Australia that’s leading the way in Asia. You have the UK, which is leading the way for Europe and then you have the US that’s kind of leading the way for the Americas. Is that kind of how you see things?

 

NG: I tend to think that’s the case. But I wonder whether one can justify the idea of UK leading the way for Europe given the tensions between the UK and the EU.

 

TN: I think the EU will play through… The EU will feel pain until they get tired of it and then they’ll relent, I think.

 

NG: There’s one big problem and this came up yesterday there was a meeting of the EU commission about article 122 vaccine export ban. Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Ireland said no way. All the others were saying we’re okay with it. With Germany covering itself with a few conditions. The damage to Europe’s role in the global supply chain is irreparable. They will not be able to go back to this.

 

And there’s another little fact of it which makes me wonder what will happen with Ireland because there’s tension building up in Northern Ireland again. Article 122, that export ban is specifically aimed at UK, US, Canada, Australia. They’ve stopped shipping to Australia already. US, UK, they’re saying well you’re not exporting anything. Paid for everything but not exporting everything. Canada just gets lumped in with the US and the UK.  So I think that’s really shattered the role of Europe in the global supply chain.

 

You’ll have people producing goods for Europe from European input but how can you possibly? Now going to Ireland where the UK has already said we’ll give the Republic of Ireland 3.7 million vaccines because it’s secures Northern Ireland in the coming out of lockdown. That’s an interesting overthought process.

 

Because you have a situation where Ireland is under attack like the Netherlands and Switzerland from Joe Biden’s global tax. If they come out, I would not be funny.

 

TN: It seems to me that what you’re also saying is there’s likely some kind of regionalization or re-regionalization that may emerge from this. Am I putting words in your mouth or is that?

 

NG: I would go and say US and commonwealth EU for as long as it stays stable, which may be problematic and then as you say Asia.

 

TN: Okay. Yeah, I mean I think that we’re coming to a place and I’ve been talking about this since about 2015, where you have global supply chains for goods that are long-term commoditized goods and then you have regional supply chains for the higher value goods.

 

NG: And that’s consistent with the decoupling that’s got to take place against China. And then you have that floater which you and I touched on before we got online, which is Russia and I have a slightly different view of where I can go, which will be, you know.

 

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