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Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 25 Jul 2022: Europe is a mess. What’s next?

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We had a big week, with a lot going on globally. The president’s got COVID. Europe raised rates to zero, and so on and so forth.

First, we talked about Europe. It’s a mess, everyone knows that, but we talked through some opportunities there.

Next, we talked about aluminum. Industrial metals have been really interesting on the downside of late, but Tracy found something around aluminum that is really interesting.

And then we talked about tech, about Snap’s earnings, and what that could mean for other tech earnings coming up.

Key themes:

  1. Europe is a mess. What’s next?
  2. Aluminum supply shock
  3. Tech SNA(P)FU
  4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 27th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Time Stamps

0:00 Start
0:50 95% on markets forecasts using CI Futures
1:44 Key themes for the week
2:34 What’s happening in Europe and what are some opportunities there?
6:37 Why did the European equity indices in the wake of the ECB meeting?
8:32 What can the ECB do moving forward?
9:40 Metals: what’s going to happen in the aluminum markets?
13:14 Will we switch back to goods in September?
16:50 Snapchat’s earnings and other earnings of tech equities.
21:06 Ad inventory element to tech earnings
23:16 Is there an opportunity for Meta to buy something like Snapchat.
24:21 The week ahead: Fed meeting next week

Listen to the podcast version on Spotify here:


TN: Hi, everybody. Welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. Today we have Albert, Tracy, and we have Sam doing a remote from his car because the Texas power grid can’t handle his house. So thanks, guys, for joining us. Before we get started, if you could please like and subscribe to the channel. When we’re done, and while we’re talking, please make comments, ask us questions. We get back to you during the week, and we really want to hear from you.

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We had a big week, a lot going on globally. The president’s got COVID. Europe raised rates to zero, and so on and so forth. First, we’re going to talk about Europe. It’s a mess, everyone knows that, but we want to try to find some opportunities there. Next, we want to talk about aluminum. Industrial metals have been really interesting, I guess, on the downside of late, but Tracy found something around aluminum that is really interesting. And then we’re going to talk about tech, about Snap’s earnings and what that could mean for other tech earnings coming up.

So first, let’s talk about Europe. Albert, you retweeted this tweet from HedgeEye earlier this week, talking about the 50 basis point rise by the ECB, and we’ve talked about it for months about the problems that Europe has if they raise. The problems they have if they don’t raise. And it was kind of a middle ground that they did. What are your thoughts on what’s happening in Europe, and are there opportunities there?

AM: Are there opportunities? Yeah, of course there are opportunities everywhere, Tony. You just got to be able to sit there and sift through the wreckage of what Europe is at the moment. Their economy is struggling. The 50 basis point rate hike, I kind of like, shrug it off. Surprise they actually did 50, but I kind of shrug it off. Their biggest problem is the dollar being elevated at the moment. It kind of helps them in the manufacturing sector for exports. But realistically, without China importing their products, what are they going to accomplish in the coming, like, two, three months? Probably nothing.

Aside from Europe speaking about the dollar being up, I’m kind of looking at Brazil and India’s next problem places.

TN: Okay.

SR: Yeah. And to that point, Albert, it’s a really interesting one, given it really doesn’t matter if you have great export markets if you can’t actually make anything.

AM: Yeah, I mean, the Europeans right now can’t make anything. They’ve got a labor problem worse than the United States at the moment. They have kind of COVID crazy policies still lingering. As soon as the tourist industry dies down a little bit for tourist season, they’ll probably come back in full force. So, I mean, it’s kind of a gloomy outlook for the Europeans at the moment.

SR: Power prices for the manufacturing engine in Germany.

AM: Yeah.

SR: If you’re not manufacturing anything, good luck selling something.

AM: Yes. I mean, even the stuff that they are manufacturing is going to be an inflated price that the world is not going to be able to even buy at the moment. They got food prices to deal with, not let alone energy prices. But didn’t European?

TS: It was a mixed message. No. Right. Yes. On one hand, they said, we’re raising rates to zero, meaning they’re not going to charge you anymore.

TN: Right.

TS: They don’t have negative rates. But on the other hand, they’re talking about bond buying program that they don’t want. They actually said, this is going to be kind of untransparent bond buying, which is fine.

SR: But that’s important and actually kind of a good thing, if you think about it.

TN: But the BOJ did right. The BOJ did that in 2014, 15, 16, where they bought up all the government debt and it just disappeared. And so is this a way for the ECB to disappear a bunch of government debt within the Eurozone?

SR: That’s what QE is.

AM: Yeah, of course. That’s like a standard thing, especially specifically for the Europeans. They love to hide debt and reissue it elsewhere, longer dated and whatnot. They love to kick the can down the road because they know that the United States is going to bail them out anyways at some point.

TN: Sam?

SR: Yeah, it’s exactly what they’re going to do. In my opinion, it’s kind of brilliant because in a way, you don’t want everyone to know how much Italian debt you’re buying, and they’re going to buy Italian debt, they’re going to buy Greek debt. And then, believe it or not, if we continue to have these kind of problems in Germany, guess what? Germany is probably going to be a huge beneficiary of the debt buying program. So it might be the first time in a long time that we don’t hear Germany complaining about it.

TN: Right. So I just want to be clear, they’re not hiding that they’re actually buying it to retire it. Right.

AM: Tomato, tomato.

SR: They’re not necessarily directly retiring it. They’re just buying it and holding it to maturity.

TN: Exactly right. Which is exactly what the BOJ did in Japan five years ago and they continue to do, actually. Okay, very good. So one last question on that. Why did European equity indices rise in the wake of the ECB meeting? Was it because of this debt issuing?

AM: I think..

TN: was distracted by Tracy. Was it because of the debt program?

AM: Yeah, the non transparent bond buying, and seems like the ECB is going to try to keep the market at least elevated, but, I mean, it was crushed so much that bottom feeders just started to come in in my opinion.

The only companies in the European Union right now that I would even think about are the ones that have ADRs in the US that have more revenue based in the US than anything else.

TS: I think what got them excited is because you saw a spike up in the Euro temporarily, so people started buying into the equity market. However, that’s going to be very short lived, I think still we are going to see inflows to the US market from all of these other markets, but there’s really no other place to go right now.

TN: Right.

SR: There’s also the problem of markets are forward looking and it’s so bad in Europe and it’s all priced in that at some point you get a mechanism where it’s not as bad as it could have been. And that to a large degree, looks to be what’s going on right now.

You’ve got the Euro almost at par. You’ve got an economy that is absolutely in the toilet. Everyone knows that. And it’s all priced into the equities. So if you begin to see a bright light at the end of the tunnel, there’s the potential for a significant rally there that could be kind of face ripping.

TN: Oh, yeah, great. Yes. So the position that the ECB’s in, what can they do going forward? Do they continue raising at small increments or are they kind of one or two and done? What possibilities do they have?

AM: I think they’re only one and two and done. I don’t think they can really keep raising rates like the United States right now. That would decimate them.

TN: Okay.

SR: 100%. One or two and done. And by the way, that kind of lines up with where the US is probably going to be done.

TN: So let me ask you one final question on this. If you’re an American company and you have a vendor in Europe and you’re paying Euros, would you long those contracts, get them locked in and euro prices as long as you can right now, do you think the Euro at Parity is a short-term anomaly?

AM: I think it is, yeah.

SR: Yes. And by the way, you can’t no European companies that dumb. That’s worth doing busines.

TN: I think you overestimate. Okay, that’s good. That’s good. Okay, perfect. Great.

Let’s move on to metals. Tracy, you posted a great graphic on and had a great discussion about aluminum and some aluminum factories that are shutting down largely because of power prices. Can you help us understand that situation and help us understand what’s going to happen in aluminum markets?

TS: Yeah, I mean, if we sort of look at the aluminum markets right now, the big thing is that because of the power crisis in the EU, right, we’ve seen almost 50% of their smelter market come offline because they just can’t afford it anymore. We’ve also actually seen this drift to the United States. We just had Alcoa shut down one of their lines in Indiana. So this is a global phenomenon.

The problem is that we’re short of aluminum by a lot. Because if we look at this energy transition, and I think I stated, particularly if we were looking at because the drivetrains are so heavy, you need a lot more aluminum to produce these vehicles, we’re looking at a deficit.

We’re already in a deficit. We’ve seen a 30% pullback in this market. We’re in a deficit. We’re going to be headed to worst deficit in H2 of ’22 and into 2023. And actually, if we look forward all the way until 2025, what I’m thinking is this pullback in the market has been a little bit overextended, over recession fears. Right. Huge pullback in the metals markets. Huge pullback and slightly pullback in the energy markets. But really, if we’re looking at these based on industrial metals, especially ones that are particular to energy transition, I think this move is a little bit overdone right now. I think there are opportunities to be had because we are looking at structural supply deficits across many of these metals, aluminum in particular.

AM: You know it’s interesting. It’s interesting. That just came to my thought of Tracy talking is utilities have given up every gain that they’ve had for the year, come right back down. Even some of the wheat and commodities just came down. Unbelievable. Dollars surge, futures crushed. It’s stunning. But I believe, just like Tracy says, I believe it’s all oversold at the moment.

TS: It actually is. Even if we take in a scenario where DM markets go into somewhat of a recession, we’re still in a structural supply deficit. So even if we’re in a recession and that takes a particular amount of demand out of the market, we’re still at a deficit.

TN: Okay. So I want to be careful with recession and not to kind of push back on you, Tracy.

TS: I’m just saying because everybody’s throwing that word around right now.

TN: So we can have a slowdown without having a recession, right?

TS: Correct. Absolutely. And I wouldn’t say that we’re necessarily in a recession, but things could get a lot worse in Europe or whatever. But even with taking that demand out of the picture, if we look at it as in we do have a recession in the market. “If”. Right.

TN: Right. So Sam has written quite a bit about the kind of switch to services over the summer from goods and Sam, do you see us switching back to goods, say, in September, October, from service says is that kind of a pretty dramatic switch from one to the other?

SR: No.

TN: Okay, so what happens? We switched. Goes to services over the summer, does that end what happens there? Because I’m curious.

SR: Yeah. No, you continue to have services be the dominant factor, and the services tended precovid to be the dominant factor.

TS: We talked about this a few weeks ago.

SR: Exactly. It’s one of those where goods probably don’t fall off a cliff because at some point you do have to have a comeback outside of the US. In goods. So that’s somewhat of a tail end. You have a reopening in China, you have a reopening in Europe, you have some sort of resolution to the Ukrainian conflict. You begin to have some tailwinds for Goods, but it’s simply not what I would say is kind of back to the coveted, like, goods model that was goods driven, everything was great, blah, blah, blah. No, it really does look like it’s kind of a summer of party, summer of vacation, summer of get out there. We didn’t have vacations in 20 20, 20 21. We’re going to go in 2022, and we’re going to go back. That appears to be the case, and it appears to be playing out. The question is, does that continue as kids go back to school? Probably not. Does it continue as people go back to work in the office? Probably not.

In the fall, you get kind of the current trajectory in Goods, which is back to normal somewhere around a 1% growth rate, and in services back to normal one to 2% growth rate, maybe a little bit more. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s certainly not the boom in goods that we saw over the past year and a half and the boom that we’ve seen services over the last six months.

AM: No, I was thinking about what Sam is saying. There’s a risk here because if the Fed pivots a little bit too early, which everyone thinks they will, and then goods start coming back online and demand still elevated, we could have another inflationary event going into 2023.

It’s like you make policy mistakes and the economy is still red hot at the moment in all sectors. As much as they want to try.

TN: To cover, it’s not red hot because people use the recession word all the time.

AM: Why?

SR: The only pushback I’ll give there is that I would say the interesting thing is that goods come back online in a pretty big way, and if you just have steady state current consumption levels, it’s not a boom. Right. It’s still going to be deflationary or disinflationary on the margin. If you don’t have a surge in the demand for goods, and it’s hard to see where you’re going to have that demand surge for goods in an elevated services environment. Right. So that could actually be the fault signal that makes the Fed back off as we go into the back half of the year.

TN: Interesting. Fantastic. Okay, great. Speaking of signals, let’s look at tech for a minute. Sam, you have the most mysterious newsletter in the US. And newsletter today talk about snaps earnings. And I put a snapshot of your newsletter on the screen looking at average revenue per user for Snap. Can you talk us through some of that? Some of the earnings work for, say, Snap and Twitter? What does that mean for tech generally?

SR: Yeah, it’s interesting. We all kind of know that tech, particularly smaller tech, the startup VC type act companies have been struggling, right? You’ve seen Layoffs, you’ve even seen the big guys. Microsoft, you’ve seen Meta, you’ve seen parts of salesforce have hiring freezes. So we know that there’s been a little bit of underlying problems with the overall tech world in terms of employment.

There are only two ways that you can really solve the problem of slowing revenue growth if you want to drop money to the bottom line, whether it’s or earnings. And that is you can lay people off and you can cut advertising spent. And so Snap and Twitter are kind of, what?

TN: PG and E? Travel and expenditure as well. Travel expenses.

SR: Well, yeah, travel and expenditures. We’ll get there because I hit that later on the night. Perfect. As you know.\

TN: Yeah.

SR: The problem with Snap and Twitter is basically what you saw was great user growth, right? Better user growth than I think anybody really was anticipating. The only issue was that they didn’t monetize it. There was nobody really backing up on the advertising front. Right. We all know that Peloton and all those guys were cutting back on ad spend, carvana basically bankrupt crap company. These guys were cutting back on ad spend, and they were the big marginal drivers of growth for those platforms.

So when you cut back on people in ads, you begin to actually be able to drop something potentially to the bottom line, or at least survive a downturn in VC spent. That played through with Snap and Twitter in a marvelous way. But then to your point on travel and entertainment, you get to the earnings of American Express, which is a great way of getting kind of a peek at upper middle and upper class spending and business spend. And those could not have been better earnings. I mean, if you’re telling me that the consumer is in a recession, it is the bottom half of the spectrum that’s in a recession, if anyone is in a recession. Those were massive earnings numbers, massive spend numbers on a year over year basis. The chart that I sent out was of the spend by bracket of age, and millennials and Gen Z are the biggest spending boost.

AM: Luxury items still are unbelievably hot right now. All the earnings are just beating all estimates.

SR: But it’s the pivot. It’s the pivot, right. Peloton all that crap that we had in Silicon Valley that was overvalued, that everybody bought and everybody thought was cool, everybody bought it. They’re already done with it. You don’t need to buy three peloton bikes, right? It’s the problem with keurig. We all remember the whole Green Mountain coffee thing. It’s the same problem, right? Once you buy it, you don’t have to buy five Turks. You don’t have to buy five Pelotons.

The ability to monetize that over time is something that I think people kind of get a little iffy with. That’s really what I think is smacking right now, and it’s smacking in a pretty real way, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

TN: Okay, so we also have new ad inventory coming online in a big way with Netflix, right. So can you talk about that side of the ad inventory element a little bit?

SR: Sure. You have a ton of ad inventory, right? If you want traditional media, you can go to traditional media. NBC, CBS, whatever. If you want online, you have Facebook, you have Instagram, all part of Meta. You have TikTok. You have snapchat. We can go down the list forever.

Netflix is basically trying to save their business with the greatest dumb quote in their earnings release where they said, our great content is going to have a premium CPM. The way that we measure advertising reps, they’re amazing content. Are you kidding me? No, I mean, they’re going to be competing with Twitter and Snapchat, which is the bottom of the barrel in terms of advertising revenue.

TS: Took that model and extrapolated on it. Right. So now you have maybe they were the first, but now you have everybody else doing it, especially very independent media. Right. That is starting to gain traction.

TN: Exactly. Things like plumbing and that sort of thing. And Hulu’s done that really well as well, inserted advertisements. So the only thing worse than new Netflix content is new Disney Plus content.

SR: Unless you have kids, it’s a lifesaver.

TN: Yeah, it may be a lifesaver, but the old content is good. The new content.

AM: I don’t know, the content on Disney nowadays is kid friendly. Okay.

SR: I didn’t say it was kid friendly. I said it was a lifesaver.

TN: Yeah, but you’re right. I mean, there’s a huge amount of ad inventory and they will be competing with Netflix. They are already competing with Hulu, those sorts of guys. Is there an opportunity for somebody like Meta to buy someone like Snapchat? Would they want to do that?

SR: They tried years ago to buy Snapchat. And why would you like…

TS: Why would you buy it?

SR: Yeah, I mean, that’s the key. And I think that it’s the reason why you can have a 30 plus percent down day and call it a company that has something interesting and something that nobody’s done before. Because I’m sorry, it’s only fans, but without subscription revenue.

TS: They have no real model to make money. That’s the problem. Without subscription, no solid revenue model.

AM: I’d buy an only fans IPO all day long.

TS: I wasn’t talking about only fans, I was talking about Snapchat. No idea about ole fans. Never been on there.

TN: All right, guys, very good. Now let’s just segue to the week ahead. What are you guys looking for in the week ahead? We’ve got the fed meeting next week, right? So that’s going to be all the talk all week long. So what’s going to happen there?

AM: I think they try to get us to the bull bear line of 40 20 or 40 30 in that range and linger us there until the Fed meeting. I think Jerome Powell is pretty much his last chance to be hawkish, because I don’t think there’s not another meeting until September at that point, like, the Fed already are talking about pivoting by then. So this is probably their last chance to be real orkish.

TN: Okay. No, go ahead. Sorry.

TS: I think as far as the energy market that’s concerned, we’ll probably see oil, gas pretty much sideways for the week, just as we have been seeing. And I think I’m very interested in the metals complex the first time in a very long time. So I think we might see a slow kind of interest in that market next week.

TN: Interesting.

SR: I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the market interprets the feds forward view, honestly. We all know they’re going 75. It’s already there. It’s already priced in. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how the fed begins to look out to September and beyond, and the market is going to begin to really price that in. And so you could see some pretty big whipsaws in the dollar. You can see some pretty big whipsaws on the long end of the curve. And equities in general, I think equities could see the most volatile week, even though it’s the most predictable Fed raise in a couple of meetings, I think you could see some incredible volatility and some really interesting outcomes.

TN: Yes. Very good. I can’t wait to watch. Guys, thanks very much for your time. Have a great weekend. And have a great weekend. Thank you.

TS, AM: Bye. Thanks.

TN: Okay. I forgot to put you on mute. I apologize, Ready?

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 24 Jan 2022

S&P is down about 8% from the highs of Jan 4 — why are we seeing a fall that sharp? Are we nearing the bear market? Why is the Fed standing by and what are they going to do for this coming week? Is a 50 basis point hike realistic in March? Where is the crude heading for the next week and why have natural gas calmed down? And why are gold and copper slightly up this week?

This is the third episode of The Week Ahead for January 24, 2022, 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.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:





Show Notes

TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined today by Albert Marko, Nick Glinsman, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube YouTube channel. It helps us get exposure and it helps you get reminded when a new episode is out. So please go ahead and do that.

Tracy, Nick, Albert, I hope you survived the week. Well, I hope everything went well on your side. I know we’ve all been talking about market activity, and it seems like you guys survived pretty well. So if we look at last week’s show, it kind of played out exactly as we said. We talked about a stock dump, thanks to Albert. We talked about a bonds dump, at least for most of the week, thanks to Nick. And we talked about crude’s nude highs, thanks to Tracy. So well done. And Congratulations, guys.

AM: Thanks.

TS: Thank you.

TN: So let’s talk about what it means for the Week Ahead. So, Albert, let’s look at equities first. It looks like the S&P is down about 8% from the highs from the peak on Jan 4. In general, what’s moving the market right now? Why are we seeing a fall that sharp?

AM: Well, the better question is what’s not moving? And that’s pretty much the Fed pump list. I mean, there’s nine to twelve names that they generally use to pump the market, and they’ve just been absent. And you’ve seen that with Netflix.

The last 18 months, whenever one of these tech names missed earnings or showed some kind of weakness, they still rallied. But this is the first week that you’ve actually seen these names just with no bid. Zero, whatsoever. And the market absolutely just cratered. And I’ve got some statistics out here that are quite interesting. Like only 24 stocks in the United States above a $3 billion cap are up 100% year over year. Right.

Only 114 up immediately 50% out of 1400 are up year over year. The last time we even tested the 200 day moving average was June of 2020.

TN: Okay.

AM: So what you’re seeing is just this super massive bubble in equity that is just deflating at the moment. And it’s because the Fed doesn’t have a bid up.

TN: I look at a company like Peloton, right. It’s about a $9 billion valuation. So it seems to me like this thing has a ways to go. Is that fair to say?

AM: Oh, yeah. I think honestly, I really think we should be at 4100 or even 3900 to 3950, to be quite honest with you. Do they let it go down that low? I don’t know. Because at that point, things can get crazy and get out of control. And the last thing they see, some kind of complete market collapse.

TN: So 3950 would be about 17% fall or something like that?

AM: 17% fall? Yeah, that’s about right.

TN: Okay, so that would be considered a real bear market.

NG: 20%.

TN: Well, I know, but I think it’s close enough. I know technically bear market is 20%, but I think people would be panicking if we crossed. Yeah.

AM: This is a perception game. Nick is right. 20% would be a bear market thing. But in this market, in the perception of this market, anything under 4300 would be Armageddon for these people.

I mean, can you imagine how many bag holders there are and tech names and meme names.

NG: Trap longs. There’s huge both professional retail there are trap longs. And you can see that today 61 minutes was the difference between the Bloomberg headline that said down 2%, Nasdaq recouped all the losses. 61 minutes recoup the losses straight packed out. That tells you there’s a lot of trap long.

TS: I think what also happens is because everything was so tech weighted, right, and that the puke basically in tech is causing margin calls, which in effect makes you forcibly makes you have to get rid of other positions. Right. So what you have to so because that sector was so overweighted and fees were so ridiculously high and everybody was piled into that sector. That brings down the rest of everything, basically.

TN: It’s interesting, Tracy, you said the PE were so ridiculously high.

TS: Well, they still are.

TN: Kind of. Right.

TS: They still are. I don’t mean to say that. We haven’t had that big of a correction. Yeah.

NG: I think the margin point was very important. Came out with a chart. And the margin that we have in the market is still massively, exceeding what we saw in the peaks in 2008 and even in the peak that crossed over the year 2000. So that means again, I go back to the point that’s clearly suggestive of trap longs and Tracy’s right. People will sell what they can as a profit first to get their margin calls. What we haven’t seen, and that’s where you get a capitulation.

I think we’re far away from capitulation. It will be much longer and deeper is where people are then forced to sell those equities where they have the margin calls being hit.

TN: Right. But with the degree of margin that we have right now, if a capitulation were to come, could actually come pretty quickly. Right.

NG: Bear markets are always that much quicker than the Bull market.

TN: Yeah. That’s not a prediction. It’s just a what if. Right?

NG: Yeah, absolutely.

TN: Okay. So where are we looking at next week? Do you think we’re continuing to. Do people want to hold equities over the weekend? Obviously, we don’t think many wanted to because today was a sell off. But do you think people come into Monday and Tuesday feeling like, okay, we’re ready to play again and we want to get long again?

AM: I think it’s a chop day for the first two days of the week, honestly. Seeing what the market’s done, I don’t think the Fed can be really too hawkish at this point, which would probably make the market rip another 100 points up. But there’s really nothing to rally about in this market until some fundamentals get sorted out.

TN: From your perspective, Albert the Fed seems to be standing by right now. Is that fair to say?

AM: Yeah, they have to stand by. They’ve threw out all their Arsenal of pumping the market for the last 18 months that at this point, what possibly more can they do without just causing systemic risks on the line?

From their perspective, why would you keep this show going without some kind of, especially when you’re looking at a fiscal cliff coming in March or February, March.

TN: I don’t want to talk bonds yet, Nick. Do you see a scenario where the Fed does come in, say, next week to save the day, or do you think they’re just going to sit passively and kind of wait and see? And Tracy, do you guys see the Fed coming back in to say, oh, you know, 10% from the high, we’re good for now. We just want to pause it and we’re going to intervene a little bit to make sure things are okay. What do you think they’ll continue to stand by?

NG: I’m sitting here, I wrote today, Equating JPOW to the captain of Titanic flying through all these icebergs and not really worried about navigating through.

They’ve got a lot of problems here. So they’ve got Joe Biden, “please get rid of inflation.” You’ve got the chat that runs fiscal now, Joe, Manchin, I’m not talking about anything until this inflation is sorted out. So they’ve got the political backing to actually start to do something.

The bond market today’s price action was partly in reflection of the stock market. But actually with what’s going on for the last couple of days in the stock market, the bond market should have done a lot better. So the bond market is sort of on hold, and they’re waiting to see one of three scenarios.

One is the Fed tells you they’re going to rate hike rates in March, and that’s when QE will finish. The alternative is they’re going to change policy guidance to indicate the mileage rate hike at and end QE immediately because remember, they’re still doing QAE. Third is to raise rates next week.

TN: I’m going to stop you right there, and I’m going to say we got a viewer question from @FedChairmanB, and he says, what’s the Fed’s end game, push interest rates back and live with inflation or hike rates, crash the markets and let the economy enter recession. And what happens to the high yield and bond issuance market?

So you’ve kind of already spoken to those first two in your scenarios. So what happens to the bond issuance market in the scenarios that you’re talking about?

NG: Well, we’ve seen enormous amount of bond issues right at the beginning of this year. And towards the end of last year. That tells me that corporate treasurers were actually getting nervous that the Fed was going to start to take notice of the inflation and react accordingly.

High yield will underperform as I think will emerging market dollar credit for a variety of reasons.

TN: Underperform, you said.

NG: Well underperformed in terms of the emerging market dollar credit, that’s also dollar point. I’ll stick by my comments of last week and I keep reiterating them and everything I write.

I’m not convinced yet of this Fed’s fighting credentials. I haven’t seen the inner Volcker in JPOW so on that basis action more than words and those words come in the guise of Ford guidance until we I’m really fast. Wednesday is a real crapshoot, okay? We just don’t kno.

TN: When you say real crapshoot. What do you mean?

NG: We don’t know what the fed is going to do. They could do it. I think the most likely thing is they’re going to indicate guys that they’re going to hike rates in March and nqe then which is not really anything new despite all the whole Orkish talk from some of the other boards members.

TN: You say end QE. Do you mean stop purchases or slow purchases?

NG: Stop purchases. They’ve already started slow anyway. So stop purchases. There’s no reason for QE. From all the data that they give us and all the guidelines that they’ve given us for inflation, unemployment, they don’t need to do QE.

AM: Well, I disagree with that because if they don’t get fiscal, they’re going to have to continue with QE. I’ll tell you that right now.

They don’t get fiscal in March. They’ll just unleash more QE.

TN: Okay. That’s a Q two issue, right? That’s not a Q two necessarily. So let me ask you this. Over the past week or so, I’ve seen people talking about a 50 basis point hike in March. Is that realistic?

AM, NG: No.

TN: I don’t think it is. That would bear the anti inflation teeth of an aggressive inflation fighting Fed.

TN: Right.

NG: Absolutely.

TS: You know, it would be really interesting if they watched what BOC meets on the 26th as well and has a rate decision.

So if I were the Fed, I would be watching what Doc does. And how does that affect the economy? And then we’ll wait until March to make a decision.

TN: So first, Tracy, are you saying something nice about Canada?

TS: No. Let them be the guinea pig. Right. So let them raise rates first. Let’s see how bad goes, because really what the to do administration has done is let this go. Amok.

TN: Right.

TS: So if I were the Fed, I would say, let’s see what POC does. Let’s see them raise rates. Let’s see how that happens to the environment. That’s what I would be thinking. And then make your decision in March.

TN: Is there any chance I think it’s close to zero, but is there any chance that the Fed could do something like a ten basis point hike instead of 25? Because that’s what Voe did, right?

NG: Yeah.

AM: It’s a waste of time, but at least it shows that they’re doing something in their minds anyways.

TS: Look, we did something, but we didn’t really do anything.

NG: Yeah. The bond market would not be impressed.

TN: Good. Okay, good. So the bound of 50 basis points or ten basis points, like neither of those extremes is going to happen?

AM: I don’t know. I would say it’s more likely they do ten basis points and 50 by a long shot. I can see them doing ten basis points just to say that they did something. That’s what this Fed does is show that they do something but not really do anything.

TN: Yes, it is. So that’s perfect. Okay. Staying with inflation, I guess. Let’s talk about energy markets and commodities markets. Tracy, you called a new high and crude this week. We saw it. We’ve seen those prices come off a little bit. Kind of. Why are we seeing things come off a little bit now?

TS: Well, I think in general, the broader markets are coming off. Right. So sell what you have to. In addition, I mean, this market was way overbought. Right.

So personally, being an oil bowl, that I am, I welcome kind of this pullback. And I think that this is healthy for the market. Right. And so I wouldn’t be surprised, especially because we’re not even in high demand season.

So I would like to see this market kind of go sideways for a bit because I think we got a little bit overextended it falls through in that $80 to $87 range for a little bit, at least until we reach the new seasonal tendency higher.

TN: So that’s later in Q one.

TS: It starts late February.

TN: Okay.

TS: That starts that demand season. That’s when usually seasonally, you tend to go long oil.

TN: Okay, very good. So you think we’re sideways or on a pause at least for the next, say, four weeks or something?

TS: Yeah, I would like to see that from a technical standpoint, I would like to see some of that bullishness kind of being worked out of the market a bit.

TN: Okay. Very good. I like that. I think that’s solid. Now, what about Nat gas? Because a few weeks ago we were talking about nat gas surging, and we’ve seen things really calm down despite some cold fronts in North America and Europe. So what’s happening there?

TS: Right. So we had two major things happen in the market. Where is the 46 vessels carrying that gas are starting to arrive in Europe, and that’s alleviating pressure on that particular market. And then we also had China Sinopec flood the market with cargo for 2022. They put out 46 cargoes for sale. So that alleviated pressure for 2022. So that alleviated pressure for JKM or the Asian market.

So in general, we’re seeing supply hit those markets. So we’ve seen a pullback in those two markets. As far as the US is concerned, it’s still a range bound market. We are up a little bit today because we have very cold weather in the northeast into Canada, and they share partial grids. And here Texas is going to have some sleep. But that’s pretty much why that market really hasn’t gone anywhere and why we’ve seen some pull back in the Asian and European markets.

TN: Okay. But we’ve seen some action in coal last couple of days, right?

TS: Yes. Coal is surging once again. So we’re at $300 coal in the Asian markets. We’re at about 270 in the Australian markets. We’re at about 165 in the spot market in the US.

So that is surging because it’s being used as an energy alternative rate, which is incredibly crazy.

TN: Yeah. Okay, interesting. Okay, let’s talk about metals for a minute. We’ve seen some chatter about gold this week, and gold is ending up slightly this week. Some industrial metals. Copper is also ending up slightly this week. So what’s happening there as well? Is that just a slight rotation away from equities or is there a real demand there?

TS: I mean, if we’re talking about precious metals, obviously that is a completely different trade than if we’re talking about base metals or industrial metals such as copper.

What I would like to see is like for gold, for example, I would like to see a solid close over 1835 to really put this into a Bull market, even though I’m bullish minors in general because of lack of capex, et cetera, et cetera. But really that market has not flipped bullish yet.

TN: Right.

TS: And then if we’re looking at something like copper is still sideways too, although long term, I’m very much a copper Bull because of reasons that I’ve stated another right before.

TN: Very good. Okay, guys, so aside from Wednesday with the Fed, what are we looking for for the week ahead uncertainty with equities? Is that a downside bias or an upside bias? With that uncertainty.

TS: I think what will be really interesting if we had $3.3 trillion worth of options notional expiring today. So I think next week will be to tell really what direction this market is going. Do we bounce next week? I’m not giving a day. Specifically, was it an options thing or are people going to buy the dip because that’s the second largest options X ray ever in history, options X Ray.

I think we need to be looking next week to really see where we stand as far as the markets are concerned.

TN: Okay, very good.

NG: Options expiry was long Delta. The market makers were all having to sell their Delta positions rapidly. Which is why you saw. I think, yesterday late in the session. It really accelerated on the downside, having been up during the day, and then today it just couldn’t get a bid, which I think combined with, I think the thing that holds this market down is possibly the trap logs. They’ll be nervous this weekend.

TN: Yeah.

AM: Yeah. I’d like to see what happens Sunday night in Apex. Still Sunday night going into Monday morning. But like I said, I think that we chop Monday, Tuesday, and then probably rise up with the Fed being a little bit more dovished than people think they’re going to be.

TN: I think so. Okay.

TS: Yeah, I agree.

TN: Yeah, they may have to.

NG: It’s consistent with what I think until I’ve seen.

AM: The anti inflation teeth have been a little bit dulled down, especially with yelling today saying that we’re going to be living with inflation for at least until 2023.

TN: That was notable.

AM: She didn’t no indication that they’re going to take it on head on.

TN: Yes, that’s right. Okay, guys, hey, we’re out of time. Thank you so much. Have a great week ahead, and we’ll speak next week. Thank you.

AM: All right, thanks.

NG: Bye. Okay. Do I look okay? Am I evenly lighted everything else?

AM, NG: Yeah.

TN: Really? All right, thanks.

TS: Oh, my God. You guys are seriously worse than I am.

TN: Of course, we’re middle aged men.

AM: We’re like obviously, it’s all we got.

TS: I took 2 hours to take a shower and get ready. Don’t tell me about that.

TN: Okay. All right. Are you guys ready?

TS: Yes.


The year ahead: What have we learned from 2021? (Part 1)

Patrick Perret-Green of PPG Macro joins us for a QuickHit episode to reflect what 2022 brings. Patrick got not only the Covid call, but a lot of inflation calls right through the pandemic. As we wrap up 2021, what does he think about right now and how does that set the stage for his view on 2022?

PPG started in 1997 in research where he learned how bank balance sheets work. He also run the strategy for Citi for rates and effects in Asia and at one point worked out in Sydney. And in the past five years now, he’s been focused on the global macro environment.

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This QuickHit episode was recorded on December 16, 2021.

The views and opinions expressed in this The year ahead: What have we learned from 2021? (Part 1) Quickhit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest 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: So, Patrick, you’ve got not only the Covid call, you’ve gotten a lot of inflation calls right through the pandemic. And as we wrap up 2021, I guess what I’d really like is, what are you thinking about right now and then how does that set the stage for your view on 2022?

PPG: Well, there’s a whole lot of multiple issues. So I was rewatching Powell’s Q&A this morning. And clearly there is the energy side of things. There is the good side of things, the demand for goods, and they are responsible for big chunks. And I was quite surprised by the ECB’s massive upward revision for inflation for 2022 in the press conference earlier on today. But base effects are very powerful. So we always knew we were going to get peak base effects. We’re going to come in around October, November time. Oil average WTI average below about 39 to $40 last October, November. And by January are up to, or early February, we were early 60s. That base effect will tumble out quite dramatically.

I also think that the durable goods effect is also going to tumble out dramatically. We’ve had record purchases, but I remember talking joking with people last year. It was about the middle of last year, and I was saying I was just as an experiment going on ebay and seeing what I could pick a Peloton up for. So everyone got their Peloton or they bought a flat screen TV. They did the house, they did the kitchen because everyone was at home.

And I think when you look at durable goods purchases in the US and this is chart I’ve posted many times on Twitter. They are off the charts and they’re off the charts relative to disposable income as well, which is now falling. Okay, due to inflation as well. But in the US, we’ve also got this remarkable thing that it’s very different to other countries.

So you look at the UK. We had the employees taken out the other day. We’ve now got more people on payrolls than we had prepandemic. Non-farm payrolls are still down 3.9%. And in Europe employment has been much better. So the great retirement, the great resignation seems to be a US phenomenon.

But I think next year the risks are that everyone that goods purchases collapse and pricing power similarly collapses with that. And even things like autos as well will pass. So we know for well that the auto manufacturers have got lots full of 95% completed cars, and the chip shortage is actually a thing. It’s not that the world has run out of chips. There’s some papers recently looking at chip supply.

So the supply chain disruptions are being true. Yes, there’s still log jams with ports in the US, but in Asia, around Singapore, they’ve largely cleared into chain. Yeah, we’ve still got subjects very pandemic risks of problems with changing over ship crews and things like that. But overall, I think that side of things will ease down.

Okay. The pandemic is of pain, but we all know that. And there’s a lot of we’ve got Omicron now, but there is some cause for hope. It’s incredibly infectious. But all the people I know have got it. I don’t know anybody who’s had it really bad. Whereas I know people who even had Delta and they were really late. I don’t know anybody hospitalized, really. But could this be, like a bit of a bushfire?

It goes through very quickly. But actually, then we have the benefit because it’s so infectious. So many people get it. That herd in unity becomes higher. And actually, by February we’re back and everyone not giving a damn.

TN: Which is what I love. I love it. I love it. Let it be. So I hope it happens.

PPG: But let us go. But let’s not forget the underlying reality. People seem to stare in sort of my a rose tinted glasses and look back and think like, oh, wasn’t it wonderful prepondemic? No, it wasn’t. The world central banks weren’t cutting rates in 2019 because we were in good shape and there wasn’t a load of excess capacity. My concern is now that actually we talk about capacity being built. So records for containerships is less.

However, the volume of global trade actually is not particularly higher. It’s more because of disruptions. An empty container has been trapped in places. So people are building more containers and they’re building more factory space. But once the supply chain disruptions come down, then you’re going to be left with even more excess capacity.

TN: Right. Well, it’s the other side of letting all those old containerships and book carriers retire in kind of 2011 to 15. Right?

PPG: I’m still left with an image of a world that, compared to 2019, has more debt, it’s older and the capacity hasn’t gone away. And then we’ve also got the geopolitics and the politics and all that sort of stuff as well.

Watching Powell last night, I was struck by how amazingly sort of confidently was about the outlook for the US economy. Two, how he seemed to have lost all recollection of the effect of the last tightening cycle on what was a much healthier economy. So here we’re talking about, we got a 150 basis points of tightening by the end of 2023.

Okay, tapers. We all knew that’s going to end quickly. It’s going to be done by middle of March, in 10 weeks time.

TN: Just words, Patrick. It’s just words.

PPG: And then they do Redux. And he admitted at the end towards the end that they had their first discussion about the balance sheet. So I think they’ll start balance sheet reduction much sooner. But the problem is if we go back to last time when debt was so much lower, the Fed overtightened.

My reckoning, was they should have only really gone to one of the records. They completely underestimated the impact of balance sheet reduction on liquidity. I did quite a lot of work on the plumbing, and the irony is that the Fed is in charge of a mandatory systems. They’re not a very good plumber. They seem to actually understand how their own system works properly. So you end up being like the repo crisis. No, it’s not QE. We’re just buying bills and then we’re buying coupons. But it’s not QE it’s just liquidity management.

All these various issues and the other aspects I think about inflation is, there’s a lot of similarities with what happened with China in 2008, 2009. China had this. It was only a $7 trillion economy. A trillion dollars of stimulus. M1 was up 40%, M2 was up 30%. And rather than normal lags of six to eight, nine months, M2 growth peaked at the end of 2009 or late 2009. But inflation didn’t peak until the end of 2010, early 2011. So such was the volume of stimulus that came through. It just reverberated along. You dropped a Boulder in a pond?

TN: Sure.

PPG: So the ripples effect just last for much longer. And I think that’s one of the things we’re seeing, but obviously, what we also are seeing is global money growth as a whole has slowed very dramatically. And even when I look at things like excess reserves or where we are now or currency and circulation within the US, the sort of three to six month annualized rates are backed down to rates that they were at pre crisis.

So the year on year base effects are all fading out. And ultimately, unfortunately, most central bankers aren’t monetarists. They seem to have banned monetary economics. Greens bank scrapped M3 in the US. He’s a great scenery as far as I’m concerned.

TN: So when do you see this stuff really taking hold? Is it kind of mid 22 or?

PPG: The second quarter it really picks it. And we got the other side of it. So we got a US that’s doing okay or brilliantly, as far as pounds and the Feds… Europe, that actually is doing all right as well I mean, everyone’s got perpetual downer in Europe. But I think Europe could be the surprise next year.

And we got China, which is everyone still gets on this sugar high. They’re doing stimulus. And I keep on trying to explain to people, it’s not stimulus. This is dialysis.

TN: That’s a great statement.

PPG: I had a long term view on China, and it really goes back to sort of 2014. Once Xi really took control, got rid of all the rivals, started centralizing the power.

And there’s a long term rationale behind that. So, yes, in terms of the Chinese are great at some long term thinking. In other ways, I describe them to people as like, yeah, China is like a linebacker. He’s like 250 pounds. He’s six foot six tall, but unfortunately, he’s got the brain of an 18-year-old.

TN: I think the latter is more accurate, actually. With that in mind, as we move from inflation to say another obvious kind of what’s ahead for 22? What do you see for China in 22? Do you see ongoing stimulus? Do you see a roaring Chinese economy? What does China look like for you in 2022?

PPG: Well, the interesting one is that we look at everything that’s come out of the recent Central Economic Forum, all the going. The whole emphasis is on stability. None of this grandiose stuff about we’re going to be strong. It’s about stability.

Think tank South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, which is effectively controlled by the state nowadays. So there’s the G 40 Economic Council, whatever they are think tank. But it’s next PVoC governor or deputy governor on it as well. A big article. Nothing is said without less it’s approved.

So they were talking about monetary and fiscal stimulus next year and by that moderately lower interest rates. Central government stimulus because it can’t come from local governments because they’re bankrupt and they’re not getting the land sales revenue and they won’t because the collapse of the real estate.

TN: That’s an important point, though, if you don’t mind holding on the SCMP article for a second. I see people on social media say all the time, well, local governments will always come in with stimulus. But from where? I don’t understand this fallacy, that local governments can always come in with stimulus.

PPG: Well, no, they can’t, because I think even Goldman come out and say that local governments have got hidden debt of about 40 trillion CNY. And all their various financing vehicles. They’re screwed.

They don’t have the money. But over time over the past few years, we’ve probably seen this greater and greater central control. Come on them anyway. They’re more and more dependent on central government forward expenditure. And the rationale comes to this because I think the regime has always recognized that the debt or we’ll keep playing the game of Jenga is unsustainable.

TN: Right.

PPG: And therefore you have to get to a point where we’re going to take some pain. So if you look back at what Xi’s been talking about over the past few years, it’s all about struggle, the Long March. I mean, this is like really going in. That is the story of China. He conveniently forgets to mention, the Long March was actually really a long retreat and basically hardly anybody who started it survived. But that’s completely ignored.

But there is this centralization of power because they know that things have to be dealt with and there will be there’s a potential for trouble. So you become a super authoritarian super, you know, look at all the moves about data.

It’s all about the Chinese government having much more control, much more visibility, a greater ability to snuff out any sort of signs of opposition at the very earliest time.

TN: But my worry there is that China, actually, I think, is becoming fairly brittle. Meaning the Chinese government is becoming fairly brittle.

Under previous regimes, you had a fair bit of flexibility where you had the different levels, not with a lot of autonomy, but with a fair bit of autonomy. Now you have a huge amount of centralization and that creates a fairly brittle government, both economically and politically.

I’m not saying it’s necessarily going to break, but I do worry about what they’re creating.

PPG: Well, I agree with you. I’ve made sneak it past my then investment bank employees. When I came out 2014, I wrote about the stylinization of Chairman Xi.

So you have the centralization of power in one man. But then you also get that fear of slightly Tsar Russia. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news. So you had African swine fever. Everyone covered it up. Which was one of my concerns about Covid, because, like you saw in Wuhan, local police shut up the doctors on the 1 January.

And similarly, so you have this culture of paralysis, even pre crisis, Xi comes out and says, oh, we need to reduce coal fire stations. So good party figures, party Chiefs, local party Chiefs. We shut it, shut it down. And then they realize, actually, we haven’t got anything to heat the homes or schools.

Oh, by the way, then we have to divide the energy from the gas from the aluminium shelters to actually do that. You got this sort of, whereas, if you look back to China and Zheng and other leaders, China sort of thrived on its basically Brown envelope culture. We just get it done. Ignore central government. Okay, but at the same time, we are putting loads of cadmium into the ground and killing ourselves. But so be it.

TN: When you look at what’s happening in China domestically, with the economy and with the political structure. I’m also curious about their outward political projection. And I do worry about Northeast Asia, not just China, but Japan, Korea, Taiwan.

And I’m curious, since you have such a historical background, I’m curious what you think about China in terms of political projection, say for 2022. Are you worried that they are going to become aggressive in ’22?