The spread between the 2-year and 10-year US treasuries has widened with markets saying that a Powell recession is here. We speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence as to whether he agrees. We also ask him if the recent aggressive job cuts by the tech and now finance sector will be part of the Federal Reserve’s decision-making process at the next FOMC meeting.
This is a podcast from BFM 89.9. The Business Station. The World Market Watch is brought to you by CMB Preferred.
BFM 89.9. 7:06 Thursday, eight of December. And of course, you’re listening to the Morning Run with Chong Tjen San and I’m Wong Shou Ning. But in the meantime, let’s recap how global markets closed yesterday.
For US markets, the Dow closed flat, the S&P 500 was down by 0.2%. It’s the fifth consecutive day of declines and the Nasdaq was down 0.5%. In Asian markets, they were all in the rip. Nikkei was down 0.7%, Hang Seng was down 3.2%, the Shanghai Composit was down 0.4%, the Straits Times Index was down 0.8% and the FBM KLCI was down 0.3%.
So joining us on the line to tell us where markets are heading, we have Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Good morning, Tony. Always good to speak to you. I want to start with Treasuries for a change, and the two-year and ten-year treasury rate spread is currently very wide. Is the bond market already telling us that a Powell recession is here?
Well, yeah, I think that’s part of it. I think that’s contributed to a lot of the discussion around the kind of perceived inevitability of a recession in 2023. And what we’ve been saying for months is we’re already there. We already saw negative GDP numbers in the US in the first two quarters of this year. The holdout is jobs. And now that we’re starting to see, some say, turnover in the jobs front, meaning it’s still strong, but it’s not as strong as it was two months ago, there is a feeling that we’re definitely headed in that direction.
And Tony, I like to tap your expertise on all market. The market is quite divided as to what the G7 price cap and the EU ban on Russian seabourn all will do to oil prices and crude supplies in the coming months. Can you give us some insights?
Yeah. So what’s happening actually today, Xi Jinping landed in Saudi Arabia for a meeting with GCC leads and Saudi Arabian government. So what’s happening in the oil market is the OPEC countries are being very open about the fact that China is the main price setter for global oil markets. And that really is kicking off with that meeting in the Middle East today. That’s been known for some time, but it hasn’t been as explicit and overt as it is today. We’re seeing more supply with things like Venezuelan crude coming on for the US. But we’re also seeing the price cap for Russia and which we know, pretty much know won’t work. Europeans will find a way to circumvent it, Russians will find a way to get crude on the market. And so that’s why we’re seeing weakness in crude prices.
But at the same time, Tony, we are seeing more positive news coming out of China. They are easing a range of COVID restrictions, including allowing people to quarantine at home rather than in centralized camps, suggesting that the economy is slowly easing out of the Zero COVID policy. Shouldn’t that be a reason for all prices to go up then?
Well, I think it will. And if you look at futures I looked a few days ago and a few months out, there’s definitely expectations for higher oil prices. But right now, if we’re looking at spot markets, there really isn’t that much expectation of things moving. So when you look beyond February, for example, there is an expectation that China opens. And yes, that is very positive for crude prices and that is one of the most important economic events in the world. We’re waiting for it, we all need it, whether you’re in Asia or the US or Europe. China opening is good for everybody, but it will be positive commodity prices and it will push those prices up.
Okay. How else can we position for this eventual reopening in terms of our portfolio? What should we be looking at?
Well, if we look at things like industrial metals, like copper, we’ve seen some really interesting action copper over the past few days on expectations of China opening up. Over the past, say, probably three or four days, we’ve seen some interesting action in Chinese tech and there’s expectation that Chinese tech and consumer goods will be very positive in the coming months. So we’re seeing that in equity prices right now. So those are some areas that I would look at and be paying attention to because they’ve already proven to have some positive traction. But that will likely improve as China’s opening accelerates.
And Tony still sticking to the topic of oil and energy commodities, the UK instituted a windfall tax on oil and gas recently. Why have they decided to go down that route? And what effect will that have on energy companies with major investments there?
Yeah, this came right after the COP meeting and it was a very populist move by the UK government, very populous move by the UK government. It didn’t make any sense commercially and it doesn’t make any sense in terms of energy strategy. We’ve already seen companies like Total and Shell pull back on announced investments that they plan to make in the UK and it’s already making energy prices higher in the UK. So I think the UK government’s calculation there was, we’re going to make a populist move and get some voters behind us, but it was really a really stupid move and they’re going to have to do an about face on that within a few months.
Okay, let’s talk about job cuts or the possibility of it. Yesterday we saw a raft of top US bankers warning of layoffs and freezing when it comes to hiring. What does this then mean for the US labor market?
We already saw this start in tech a couple of months ago and it’s just kind of cascading out to other industries. Right. And so first they announced job freezes. Then they announced job cuts, usually, right? And it’s in things like in banks, it starts in mortgages because house buying has slowed. And it’ll go into other areas, of course. And we’ve seen this in media, too, with BuzzFeed, and there are issues at other media companies because they’re having to compete in those CPM rates, meaning those advertising rates are declining because places like Facebook and Netflix and other places are getting more competitive on advertising. So it just means that companies have to get more productive.
So whether they’re tech companies or banks or media firms, companies are having to get more productive. What we saw through COVID generally, was margin expansion for companies. A lot of companies profits through, say, mid 2020 continued to expand because companies didn’t have to pay for certain things, but they could charge higher prices because people were working from home. They didn’t have to pay for certain things, but yet they could charge higher prices. What we’re seeing now is with wages rising as fast as they are and staying there, companies are having to pay more all around.
And the markets like mortgages or advertising or tech or whatever, they’re not where they were a year ago. So they’re having to cut heads. And you look at Facebook cutting like 13, 14% of their workforce. Look at what these other guys are doing. They’re realizing they’re way overstaffed given where we’re going in 2023.
Okay, so how does this then inform the Fed decision when they meet this month for the FOMC meeting? Because employment is another indicator that they watch is part of their twin mandate, isn’t it?
It is. It’s one of their mandates. So there are a couple of things that I’m watching. So first, last week we saw the jolts. This is the job openings, okay? And with jolts, we saw that really turn over, meaning the job openings has declined. Now, it’s still strong, but it’s really turned over in terms of we’re not the highest anymore. That was probably two months ago. So we’re starting to see a decline in the number of job openings and the rate of growth of job openings. And when you look at the employment data that came out, the strength in jobs is really in, say, lower level services and health care. Okay? So it’s not necessarily in the higher level, higher earning jobs as it was, say, a year ago. So we’re seeing I’m sorry to put it this way, but kind of lower quality jobs come through, and that’s when we can tell that it’s weakening. Those are the last to be strong before going into recession. They’re the first to be strong as you’re coming out of it. So what is the Fed looking at? Well, Powell talked about the lag effects of monetary policy at his Brookings speech last week.
And so I think the Fed is being really sensitive to the lag effects of their policy, and they’re likely going to still go with 50 basis points this month and next month.
All right, thank you very much. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, telling us at least forecasting what the Fed is going to do at the next FOMC meeting.
But very quickly, I want to talk about one stock that was really a bit of a COVID pandemic winner, and that is Gamestop. So their fiscal third quarter sales declined while its cash pile sharply dwindled as the brick and mortar retailer had been working to expand its digital presence. Now, for no reason, this stock actually went up. A lot to do with retail investors who just wanted to like, very bullish on this counter. But although the fundamentals weren’t great, there.
Was a documentary on this Gamestop, actually on Netflix. I watched. It was really interesting. So if you’re interested to see what really happened and how they actually lure retailers in and the retail battle between institutional investors and all the renowned hedge funds and how retailers actually trumped in the end, but maybe not in the end, for the moment, it is actually a very interesting documentary or show to watch on Netflix.
Well, because it’s one of those odd stocks, there isn’t much coverage. There’s actually three analysts, they all have a sell on this. Target price is $6. This morning. During regular hours, the stock was actually down one dollars and $0.13 is $22.26. And if you’re wondering whether who won in the end, don’t think the retailers won because on a year to date basis, the stock is down 40%. But up next, we’ll cover the top stories in the newspapers and portals. Stay tuned for that. BFM 89.9 the world market watch, is.
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The United States Federal Reserve’s plan to ease its pace of interest rate hikes as soon as December would bring some relief for markets concerned about the central bank overtightening too quickly, Mr. Tony Nash, founder and chief executive of data analytics firm Complete Intelligence, told CNA’s Asia First.
CNA: Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has signaled policymakers could slow interest rate increases starting this month. That sets the stage for a possible to downshift to a 50bps rate hike when Fed officials gather again in two weeks.
Powell: Monetary policy affects the economy and inflation with uncertain lags. And the full effects of our rapid tightening so far are yet to be felt.
Thus it makes sense to moderate the pace of our rate increases as we approach the level of restraint that will be sufficient to bring inflation down. The time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting.
CNA: But it isn’t quite a dovish turn. The U.S Central Bank Chief also stressed that they have a long way to go in restoring price stability despite some promising developments.
Mr. Powell warns against reading too much into one month of inflation data saying that the FED has yet to see clear progress on that front. In order to gain control of inflation, the Fed chair says the American labor market also has to loosen up to reduce upward pressure on wages. Job gains in the country remain high at nearly 300,000 positions per month and borrowing costs are likely to remain restrictive for some time to tamp down rapid price surges.
This is where U.S interest rates stand after an unprecedented series of four 75 bps rate hikes. Policymakers projected earlier that this could go as high as 4.6 percent but Powell says they will likely need to keep lifting rates more and go beyond that level until the inflation fight is done.
The less hawkish tone from Powell Boyd U.S market stow and the S&P500 erased losses it searched three percent. The Dow gained two percent while the NASDAQ jumped more than 4.4 percent. the 10-year treasury yield also dipped as Bond Traders dialed back their expectations on how high the Fed may push interest rates while the U.S dollar retreated.
Tony Nash is founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence joining us from Houston, Texas for some analysis. Now Tony, just looking at Powell’s comments, the first differs in some way with what the Fed and its officials have been telling us earlier in the year and how we’ll get there fast to try to reach the terminal rate. But now it’s signaling that it will get there slower. What is this going to mean for businesses and consumers in the US?
Tony: I think what it means is we’re going to get to the same destination. It’s just going to take a little bit more time to get there. So the Fed has seen jobs turn around they’ve seen jobs aren’t necessarily slowing but the rate of rise in open jobs is slowing. We’ve seen mortgage rates go up. We’ve seen the rate of inflation rise slowly.
So the Fed is seeing some things that they want and they’re worried about over-tightening too quickly. Because what we’ve seen so far is really just interest rate rises. They really haven’t even started quantitative tightening yet. I mean they’ve done a little bit maybe a couple hundred billion dollars. But they have nine trillion dollars on their books give or take.
They haven’t even started QT yet. And they’re starting to see inflation and some of these pressures on markets at least slowed down a little bit. So I think they’re saying “hey guys we’re still going to get to a terminal rate of five percent or five and a half percent but we’re going gonna slow it down from here unless we see things accelerate again.”
CNA: When do you think we will actually see that five to five and a half percent?
Tony: You’ll see it in the first quarter. You know if we do say 50bps in December and maybe another 50 in January, we’ll see some 25bps hikes after that but I think what markets the cyber leaf that markets are giving right now is just saying. Okay, we’re not at 100 or 75 in December.
I think that’s a big size that you saw today and you know. It raising at 75bps per meeting just put some real planning challenges in front of operators people, who run companies. So if they slow down that pace and people know we’re still going to get to that 5 to 5.5%, it allows people to plan a little bit more thoughtfully, and a little bit more intelligently.
I think this does relieve some people of the worries of the Fed over-tightening too quickly and it also relieves worries that the Fed is only relying on monetary policy. They’re not relying on interest rates I’m sorry and they’re not relying on quantitative tightening. so the Federal balanced approach sometime in Q1.
CNA: Okay, you also mentioned before in our past conversations, the concern that the market has been having for this week especially since it’s China’s lockdowns and you see these restrictions ending gradually. What is that going to mean for Energy prices and inflation?
We see Energy prices say now they’re what high 70s low 80s somewhere in that range. We do see a rise of say crude oil prices by about 30 percent once China fully opens. We could easily be 110-120 a barrel once China fully opens. And so there will be pressure on global energy markets once China opens. Other commodity prices will see the same because we’re just not seeing the level of consumption in China that we expect.
What we also expect is for Equity markets to turn away from the U.S. and more toward Asia. So the US has attracted a lot of investment over the past year partly because of the strong dollar partly because of kind of a risk-off mentality consolidating in U.S markets. As China opens and there becomes more activity in Asia than we would expect, some of that money to draw down out of the US and go back to Asia.
CNA: Can you look at the jobs market in the US even as we expect this potential pivot towards Asia for stock market investors? The jobs market and the picture on wages there because the ADP data shows that there seems to be a cooling in demand for labor how soon do you think we can see a broadening out to the broader jobs market?
Tony: You would have broader cooling of demand in the jobs market I think, that’s definitely hidden tech. You’ve seen a lot of layoffs in technology over the past say three weeks. And that will cascade out. I don’t necessarily see think that you’ll see that in places like energy, but you will see that in maybe finance, some aspects of financial services. You’ve seen some of that and say mortgage brokers and this sort of thing so you’ll see that in some aspects of financial services. Some aspects of say manufacturing at the edges. but I do think there’s a lot of growth in U.S manufacturing as this reassuring narrative really takes uh gets momentum in North America. And so even though we may shed some manufacturing jobs in one area I think we’ll see growth in manufacturing jobs in other areas.
CNA: Okay, Tony. We’ll leave it there for today. Thanks for sharing your analysis with us. Tony Nash is founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence.
The released Fed minutes show that most officials are backing a slower pace of interest rate hikes. Markets reacted positively but this is false optimism as the terminal Fed Funds Rate may eventually be higher. The 3Q reporting in the US is also coming to a close and 75% of corporates experienced downgrade in earnings. Have the cut in earnings by analysts been adequate or will there be further downside, with 2023 outlook still uncertain? For answers, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO, Complete Intelligence.
BFM 89 Nine. Good morning. You’re listening to the Morning Run at Thursday. It’s Thursday, the 24 November November Friday, junior, as we like to call it. Here. I’m Shazana Mokhtar with Wong Shou Ning and Chong Tjen San. As always, let’s kickstart the morning with a look at how global markets closed overnight.
All key US markets showed gains as most members of the Fed said the pace of rate hikes will slow down. So the Dow was up 0.3%. The S&P500 was up 0.6%, and Nasdaq was up 1%. In Asian markets, the Nikkei and Hang Seng was up by 0.6%. The China Composite was up by 0.3%. The Straits Times Index was down by 0.1%, and our very own FBMKLCI was up by 0.2%.
Joining us on the line now for more on what’s moving markets, we speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Hi, Tony. Good morning. Now, let’s start with just some reactions on the Fed minutes that were released. It showed that most officials are backing a slower pace of interest rate hikes, but that the terminal rate might need to be higher. What do you think? Are we seeing a relief rally? And is that sustainable in the short term?
Yeah, I think the ultimate destination is probably the same, but the pace of getting there is slower than many people thought a couple of weeks ago. So I think what it means is we’ll see more, say, 50 and 25 basis point hikes. That’s the expectation. It’s still possible we’ll see a 75 if Powell really pushes hard for December, but we’re still going to see a 5, 5.5 terminal rate, depending on really how things end up for CPI and PPI next month. But it’s just the pace and markets are more comfortable with a gradual adjustment to higher rates than the continued kind of shock treatment.
And Tony, the US reporting period is coming to a close. How would you assess the quality of corporate earnings release so far? How well have they tracked market expectations?
They’re OK, they’re pretty weak, actually. Compared to 2021, we had, I think, 25% earnings growth in ’21 about this time last year. They’re just over 3%. So it’s not even near where it was last year.
Something like 75% of companies are seeing estimates for their downgrade. So people expecting inflation to endure longer than they thought. If you remember a year ago, people were saying inflation was transitory, so they’re saying inflation will endure longer and rate hikes will continue.
So with credit tighter, businesses and consumers are not expected to spend as much.
So going forward, there is a fear that wallets will be more closed than they are now and earnings will continue to be tight.
Which just confuses me, Tony, because if the Fed stops their rate hikes at least decelerates the pace of it. And at the same time, corporate earnings aren’t going to be as robust as ever. Then why is the S&P500 above 4000 and the Dow Jones at 34,194 points? I mean, they’re just in fact, the Dow is only down 6% on a year to date basis and the S&P down 15%. Shouldn’t markets be actually more bearish than they are now?
Well, I think there are a couple of things happening there. I think first, there really is consumers have continued to spend and businesses have continued to spend in the US. Although we’ve seen economic growth slow dramatically, we’ve had spending continue to push forward. So if the Fed slows its tightening cycle, and keep in mind, they haven’t really started quantitative tightening, meaning getting things out of their balance sheet. They’re only, I think, $200 billion off of their high.
But if the Fed continues to tighten at an accelerated pace, then markets are worried. But again, if they slow it down, the feeling is that spending will move in stride. It won’t necessarily be too shaken up.
Also, on inflation, don’t forget inflation didn’t really start on an accelerated basis until November of ’21. So we had inflation, but fairly muted inflation then. And so what we get after November, well after this month, is what’s called a base effect.
So we’ll likely continue to see inflation rise, but not necessarily at the pace that it’s been over the past, say six to nine months. So does that mean inflation is peak? No, not at all. But it means the pace of the rise of inflation is likely going to slow on base effects.
So if that happens, we’ll have a lot of people declare victory over inflation, but I think that there is an expectation that that rate will slow as well.
Can you look at the prospects of retailers like Best Buy? We see Abercrombie and Fitch. These names are defying inflationary trends and higher rates to post better results than expected. So why has this sector been the exception to the norm?
Yes, the quick answer is most of those guys have been pushing price. So they’ve been passing along their higher labor and goods costs onto consumers.
Now they’ve been pushing price while sacrificing volume. So they’ve been pushing 8 to 10 to 15% price hikes in many cases. But they’ve had fewer transactions between one and say 6% fewer transactions.
Regardless, they’re earnings have risen. So they’re not as worried about fewer transactions. They’re focused on keeping their margins up.
And so when you look at retailers like Walmart, which has mixed, say, general goods and food, they’ve done very well. They had a very difficult Q2, but they did very well this past quarter.
Home Depot, which is a DIY store, has done very well because they pushed price Cracker Barrel has done very well.
Cracker Barrel. These are not these are not retailers that are at the high end of the market either. These are mid and even, say lower end companies, but they’re pushing price on the middle and lower end of the market.
Higher end of the market? They’re doing great. So it’s tough to be a consumer in this market because price definitely continues to be pushed and we expect price to continue to be pushed through probably Q2 of next year.
And Tony, with potentially slower pace of interest rate hikes, how do you expect the technology sector to do? Is there more pain to come for the likes of Amazon and Meta?
For sure. Amazon, Meta and technology companies generally do very well in very low interest rate environment, where the money is effectively free or negative real interest rates.
As you have to pay for that money, it becomes tougher for those companies to do well because their core investment is in technology. And we had things like Mark Zuckerberg at Meta really went off the rails with some of his spending and investment.
It’s not to say that the Metaverse investment is not ever going to happen, but much of that stuff really went way overboard. Same thing with, say, Amazon with some of their infrastructure investments and delivery investments.
So we do expect HP today, I think announce 6,000 jobs to be lost over the next, I don’t know, twelve months or something. So we do expect much more pain in tech. We expect that to continue until at least the end of Q1, if not a little bit further.
And Tony, let’s talk about oil because WTI for futures delivery in January, $77 a barrel. And we know that there’s an upcoming OPEC meeting in December. What are your expectations in terms of oil price then?
Yeah, it’s tricky, right? Because oil prices are kind of in that zone where a lot of people are comfortable. And so the question is, is this acceptable to OPEC members? So Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq and Kuwait have already come out and said they’re going to stick to the current plan, the current cuts that were already announced last month.
But we have things like the Russian price caps coming into play. And you know, our view is the price caps are pretty meaningless actually, because Europeans are pretty good at circumventing the kind of emotional embargoes they put in place.
I’m sorry to put it that way, but they put these laws in place and then they circumvent them pretty well. A lot of this is theater. So that’s not the price caps are not going to have as much of an impact as many people thought. So it’s possible if we get into next week and crude prices start coming back pretty strongly, or sorry, if we get into next week and crude prices are as weak as they are now, we may see a 500,000 barrel per day cut. I think that’s a possibility, but it’s likely they’ll stay on what’s already been announced.
Tony, thanks very much for speaking with us. And since it’s Thanksgiving eve. Happy Thanksgiving to you. That was Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his take on the trends that he sees moving markets in the days and weeks ahead.
All eyes, of course, on that all-important inflation number and how that will affect how the Fed raises hikes moving forward.
I think the key takeaway for me was he mentioned that 75% of corporates in the US had downgrades, which I feel it’s a good thing as it brings expectations lower and more in line with future expectations and it also gives perhaps some room to surprise on the upside.
Yeah, well, markets seem to be at crossroads, but a little bit cheered by the fact that the Fed isn’t going to raise rates as aggressively as they have in the past. But I want to keep my eye on corporate earnings. I think that if you see continuous downgrades by the analyst community, you see the messaging coming out of US corporates that things aren’t looking as rosy as they are, then it’s just going to be hard for the Dow, S&P500 to actually break through their current resistance levels. So I think it’s something we have to keep an eye on.
Emma Muhleman, Boris Ryvkin, and Albert Marko join us for this Week Ahead episode. We talk about FTX and why it happened. FTX transferred about $8 billion of customer deposits to a trading arm called Alameda, and they lost it. FTX was assumed to be a regulated institution. It wasn’t. So customer deposits evaporated. There was a desperate attempt to merge with Binance. That didn’t happen. FTX filed Chapter 11 on Friday, and then Sam Bankman-Fried apologized as if that just absolves him and makes everything better.
Albert, Emma, and Boris help us understand what happened here and what it means not just for FTX executives, but for markets in the week ahead.
We also saw some selling in crude markets as FTX collapsed. Emma talks us through that and tells us how long the crypto unwinds will impact commodity markets.
Based on the market reaction to Thursday’s CPI print, you may think inflation is solved. CPI seemed to override FTX worries and there was this huge sigh of relief in markets. Not so fast. Boris, Emma, and Albert talk us through the CPI print and where we’re seeing persistent inflation (diesel, food, etc). Will the Feds raise by 50 in December followed by some 25s? How will this affect layoffs across the economy?
This is the 41st episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
Tony Nash: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Emma Muhleman. She’s a macro strategist and if you don’t know her, you’re not on social media. We’re also joined by Boris Ryvkin. He’s with Montefly Holdings. He’s also a former M&A attorney with Skadden and a bunch of law firms, and he was National Security Advisor in Capitol Hill. And Boris has an amazing perspective on macro, on history, on markets. It’s really great to have both of you guys. And we have Albert Marko. You guys know Albert. So it’s just great to have you guys. Thanks so much for being here.
Before we get started, I’m going to take 30 seconds on CI Futures. Our core subscription product. CI Futures is a machine learning platform where we forecast market and economic variables. We forecast currencies, commodities, equity indices. Every week markets closed, we automatically download that data, have trillions of calculations, have new forecasts up for you Monday morning. We show you our error. You understand the risk associated with using our data. I don’t know if anybody else in the market who shows you their forecast there. We also forecast about 2000 economic variables for the top 50 economies globally, and that is reforecast every month.
So we had a lot going on this week, particularly kind of in the second half of the week with FTX. Unless you’ve been kind of on vacation or away, you probably know about this already, but I’ll recap a little bit.
FTX transferred, I think, something like $8 billion of customer deposits to a trading arm, Cart Alameda, and they lost it. FTX was assumed to be a regulated institution. It wasn’t. So the customer deposits evaporated.
There was a desperate attempt to merge with Binance. That didn’t happen. FTX filed Chapter 11 on Friday, and then Sam Bankman-Fried apologized. We’ve got his tweet from Thursday on the screen. He sent another apology out today. And if that just absolves him and makes everything better.
So, Albert, I know you’re a huge fan of crypto, so can you help us understand kind of what happened here? And really, what does it mean not just for Sam, but what does it mean kind of for markets going into next week?
Albert Marko: Well, for Sam, you can look at my shirt. That’s I purpose wore stripes, because that’s where he needs to go to. He needs to go to prison. The crypto space has been just littered with fraud. I mean, just incredible fraud. This guy had the nerve to go up into Congress and talk about transparency and central banks are illiquid and there’s no transparency.
Meanwhile, he’s taking customer deposits, not only just setting it to Alameda, right. But then now there’s a political component of it because he was spreading it around to super PACs for the Democratic, for Democrats.
This is a bigger story than people are alluding onto. On top of that, you had a bunch of Republicans come out and say, why was Gary Gesler helping him get through loopholes in the system?
TN: Was that actually happening? Because I saw that gossip on Twitter, but I’m just not sure if that was actually happening.
AM: Well, yeah, this is political season, so I’m not sure if it actually happened. But you don’t just come say something like that, right? You don’t just make those kind of accusations out of nowhere.
So there’s definitely going to be congressional hearings on this. SBF could be in jail at some point in time.
Concerns of where the customer’s money is. This is not funny. As much as I just absolutely despise crypto, this is not funny when you take people’s hard earned money and put it into different outfits without
any transparency whatsoever.
TN: I hear a lot of comparisons of this to Corzine from, like, 15 years ago. Are there similarities between what Jon Corzine did and what Sam did?
AM: That’s a really good question. I don’t think I can really answer that because we know exactly what FTX actually did with all these funds, where they’re at. Because there are stories that there’s penthouses and condos all over the Bahamas and the Caribbean that they can’t even touch yet. We’d have to find out a little bit more detail of what went on, what transpired into FTX.
Emma Muhleman: Because a lot of the deposits don’t invest in them in illiquid private equity investments, including VC funds that were invested in FTX.
AM: Like Sequoia put in a little bit of money and then they get 500 million back.
EM: Sequoia put in like $420 million that they wrote down to zero.
TN: And they got 500 back? It’s a great deal.
Boris Ryvkin: What was interesting was that Kevin O’Leary, he had a Jim Cramer moment with FTX. He said, if there’s one place where I could feel totally safe and fine, it’s FTX, apparently, because he was confident in their compliance capabilities. Because apparently the CEO was like his parents were like compliance lawyers or something. And he’s probably that’s not one of Mr. Wonderful’s more wonderful calls, I think.
AM: Well, when your parents are compliance lawyers, it just means that they’re going to teach them how not to be compliant and not get caught. That’s what happens when that occurs.
TN: Okay, so what does this mean for crypto generally? I know you’ve been not been a crypto fan for a long, long time. So is this an FTX issue or is this a crypto issue?
AM: This is a crypto issue. This ruins the credibility of any crypto that’s even valid in people’s eyes at the moment. Even Bitcoin is the 800 pound gorilla. There’s other cryptos that are trying to be stable and compliant and everything, and it kills.
TN: Do you know how many crypto pages we’re going to get in the comments to this?
AM: I bring it on because I’ve been telling these people for years that the space has been just a positive scheme after another.
TN: So does this permanently kind of impair crypto, or do you think there’s a time that two or three months from now, everyone forgets about it and people are back in and crypto is back on?
I just think that the crypto excitement is so persistent that I’m just not sure that this hurts it for the long time. They haven’t had that moment yet.
AM: No, not yet. It doesn’t hurt it. Actually, I want to say it actually kind of makes it better because it is weeding out the real problems and showing the problems that are in the space.
But the bigger problem that they have now is one side of credibility is getting retail money into the space. Retail money is just not going to get into the space, and even institutional money is going to have to think ten times more about getting an investment in the future.
TN: So what was it, thanksgiving of 2019, I think, when all the retail money went into the space Something like that, right? We got Thanksgiving coming up here in the States, and we’re probably not going to have the same effect this year.
AM: Oh, God, no.
TN: Are there any other players, do you think, that are likely to fail as spectacularly as FTX has failed?
AM: I don’t think so. At this point, I think that the FCC is going to have to really crack down on the entire crypto space and really force these guys to be compliant with, your know your customer rules and whatnot. So that’s something, actually, Boris could talk about, but I think they’re going to have to do something drastic here with the whole space.
TN: Boris, I guess from a legal perspective, how much do these guys have to worry? Do you think Sam can get away with this?
BR: I just don’t. No, I don’t. I think that, you know, the issue, of course, is just going to be the chain of ownership, first of all, of all, these shell companies. Where’s the money? Where did the money go? Because the money’s gone. I think it was something I know that there were a lot of jokes. He went from 16 billion net worth to a dollar, and he can’t afford his verification badge on Twitter now.
I think there was specifically because he’s now requesting, what, 94 billion as a rescue package. Once you’re already, and today he officially announced today was that they were filing for Chapter Eleven. So that was the official name today after requesting 94 billion, which was already I mean, when you’re already at that point, it means that nobody’s keeping the book.
So first of all, just in terms of any kind of account, whoever the accountant is, if there even was an accountant tied to this, whoever was signing off on this needs to worry a great deal. It’s not just Sarbanes Oxley and everything related to that, but it’s just simply who are these accountants and who was actually keeping these books? Because these numbers that were being thrown out, putting aside that it was impossible for him to get any kind of rescue package that quickly. But that number, it’s a number that is simply not credible.
TN: I’m going to get really boring on you for a second. Most companies have a DOA delegation of authority, right? And so I would think that to transfer $8 billion, the delegation of authority would go up to the board level. Is that fair to say?
BR: Well, I mean, it should, because again, it depends how these companies are actually managed, right? Because these could be not under US law managed, board managed, or there could be LLCs involved here which are member managed or have separate managers or what have you. It should go to the board level.
And in any event, you should have the senior management sign off on the accounts, not just the account. Even though that’s the position with public companies now since Starbucks and everything else. But even when it comes to private companies, to have for sufficient transparency, to really have investors comfort, you would need to have that chain of control.
So the DOA would have to come depending on who actually the board would have to authorize the management to give the DOA either broadly upfront or specifically for a specific transaction as it would happen.
TN: Because of $8 million, that’s still a fair bit of money, right?
EM: There were several acquisitions that he made that were private companies with the tune of over a billion each. So I guess you got like two $1.5 billion private investment, 500 million here. So I guess that’s how that all works out.
TN: You would guess that those have to have board approval at some point, I would think.
BR: I’ve done in the past very discreet deals where it’s sort of like, we’ve already transferred 100 million for this property. Please paper all of that over retroactively.
I’m sure that that’s what happened here. In other words, there was a lot of money moving around, nobody papered over what they needed to paper over. And I would be surprised if there’s actually a chain where all of the documentation that was needed at each stage of the transfer was actually put in place.
I’m certain that money just moved around all over the place, which makes it now very hard to track because there’s going to be a very limited paper trail to find, which is going to be a problem for him and everybody who’s authorized per the corporate documents of these companies for having to move the money around. So it’s going to be multiple levels of potential liability.
TN: Okay, so I would guess also that everyone in every crypto company is probably also coming up with their policies, if they didn’t have them already.
BR: So what are the investors are going to start calling to talk major policies. But I think the bigger issue, and Albert sort of touched on this, is the fact that this is an exchange, fundamentally.
So the issue isn’t we’re talking about Bitcoin as a currency, but if you can’t trust one of the largest exchanges and I forgot that was it, it wasn’t Coinbase, it was one of the others that pulled out of an attempt to that’s a last minute shotgun. Binance. And that has a second and third order effect. So not only did this huge exchange fail, it was such a disaster that the Binance, which is one of the more credible exchanges like Coinbase and what have you, just simply said, you know, this is beyond saving.
So it could really have a cascade effect. I know some are calling it the Lehman moment for crypto, although Albert would say there have already been five or six of those.
TN: Right, well, and before we get too critical of FTX as an exchange, let’s look at the LME and the credibility of kind of traditional exchanges. So, I mean, it’s easy to point the finger at crypto exchanges, but the LME has done some pretty screwy stuff over the years. So I think we need to be really careful
of just saying, well, I know you didn’t say this Boris, but crypto exchanges do screw things. Other exchanges do screw things as well.
EM: might I mention, though, with the LME, they are now under the control of the Communist Party of China via HVX. Great. Who is running the show? Real competent folks at the CCP. Binance is even shiftier if you ask me, but we’ll see.
TN: Speaking of markets and crypto, Emma, can we talk a little bit about kind of markets and correlations? How are we seeing this crypto activity and how do we expect this crypto activity to kind of flow through into other markets, equities, commodities, other things? Obviously it didn’t hit equities yesterday and today, but it seemed to be hitting earlier in the week.
EM: Yeah, just as it was all falling apart, we saw a big risk off move in equities. We saw the Nasdaq coming down, we saw some weakness in oil that may have not had anything to do with the
fundamentals in the oil market. I would venture to guess or argue that it had more to do with the FTX sell off because there were several companies, including pension funds, that had significant exposures in FTX. So that oil related selling around the time that FTX all this broke. It may not have to do with the report, this actual EA report.
TN: So I’ve got a graphic from Tracy’s newsletter earlier this week where she talks about the funds and the investors that were deleveraging in oil because of FTX. BlackRock, Ontario Pension Fund, Sequoia, Tiger Global, et cetera, et cetera.
So there were some big players impacted by this and I can’t believe that it just impacted oil. I also have a hard time believing that it was a one time, say, 48 hours event.
EM: Yeah, I would think that. Not having done any diligence for a pension fund, Ontario Pension Fund,
like for BlackRock. I mean, I don’t want to call out too many names. We all know what SoftBank is about. They were intimately involved. There’s going to be a lot of problems and a lot of spillover that we’ll just have to wait.
TN: At the end of the day, I hate to say “only”, but in terms of global fund flows, it’s only $8 billion of retail money that was lost. It’s I say “only”, but, you know, it’s not a huge amount in terms of flows, but I just don’t know how much is in these funds themselves.
AM: Yeah, you don’t know how much the funds have lost and what they’re trying to make up and like yeah, sure, 8 billion doesn’t sound a lot, but in a market that’s so illiquid with a lot of these funds blowing up right now, it can be a lot. You don’t know what they’ve leveraged off of it.
EM: And what they might be being forced to sell as a result.
TN: So we probably haven’t seen the end of that. Fair to say?
EM: We’ll see a long restructuring or not restructuring Chapter Eleven. Not a restructuring, but a liquidation.
TN: Yeah, it’ll be liquidation.
AM: Discovery will be fun. See where all this money went to.
TN: Great, that’d be great. Okay, perfect. Anything else on markets and FTX and crypto? Are we looking at is this impacting, say, European markets or Asian markets? Since crypto has been so big in Asia, are we seeing impacts in Asian markets, like in China?
AM: I don’t think so. I think that’s really Binance’s territory at the moment. Right now, I think FTX was solely the US and Western Europe.
EM: I would think you would see an impact on Japanese investors as well, who own a lot. But just like, not the kind that puts out life insurance companies or puts you a lot of business, but more like retail investors getting screwed.
AM: retail investors have just been taking it on the chin for the last 18 months. It doesn’t stop. 30 years.
BR: Except for Warren Buffett and those who invest with him because yet again, everyone’s underwater, he’s up like 2.3%.
TN: Boris, say, can you talk us through the CPI print this week? Because it seems like CPI, the rate of rise of CPI slowed. CPI didn’t slow, but the rate of rise of CPI slowed. And so it feels like it kind of overrode the FTX worries and there was this huge cyber relief in markets for the past couple of days that we’ve kind of conquered inflation. And the Feds only going to raise by 50 in December, and then after
that we have some 25s. What’s your sense of that? Do you feel like kind of inflation is conquered? Is that base effects? Is that kind of core inflation coming down? What does that seem like to you?
BR: Yeah, I don’t think that it’s conquered. I mean, what’s interesting to me is sort of the degree to which all that matters is what the Fed may or may not do and trying to price in factional differences within the Fed. That’s how granular it’s now become. Because I think the markets were waiting for any reason, anything, to cling onto for Powell to reverse course and to after his very hawkish last meeting, where he said, ignore all of the pivot talk.
Essentially, you know, we’re going to continue to do this as effectively as long as it takes to see a sustained reduction in inflation over that’s defined. So he essentially was very angry and Albert and I were talking about this as well, that he was very angry by some of the Pivot talk from brainer than some other people yelling, was saying certain things. It looked like some of the more devastated member. And then Powell comes out and basically says, I don’t know what you’ve heard about any Pivot talk, we’re going to stay the course until we see more evidence of multi quarter reductions and declines in inflation.
But it looked like the market really was desperate to find a reason to not believe them and to hope that anything that might persuade him to in other words, the market is looking for anything to latch onto to have a pivot, even if we don’t actually get one.
So initially it was the official position, if you were even to read the kind of the superficial financial media was they were worried if we focused on the red wave, that was what was going to get the relief rally. Then we forgot about what was happening with the midterms. And now we have this softer inflation report that as you said, to slowed the rate while most of the slowdown was because of on energy, used cars and a couple of these other, in my view, short term fluctuations which are, I mean, to the extent that CPI has already been massaged to death.
Obviously the listeners of this podcast of course know that very well. If we measure inflation how it used to be measured from the 1970s on, we’d be in double digits. I mean, that’s just a fact. So taking even to the extent that they were able to massage it, what I saw here was the market latching onto the top line figure, hoping that this would block the Fed into doing what the markets want the Fed to do, rather than actually looking at what’s happening to the core and actually looking below the hood and the underlying trend.
That’s what I’m seeing. You also can’t have to take into account biden’s political depletion of strategic petroleum reserve. You have to take into account the unseasonably milder sort of late fall that we’ve been having, I think that’s been having an impact on natural gas prices which have this very sharp decline and now have rebounded a little bit.
Certainly that’s coming out of Europe as well, but I’m not seeing anything fundamental that would actually allow us to conclude peak inflation and sustained reduction inflation has been achieved. So I’m not saying that when it comes to energy, I’m not seeing that when it comes to food, I’m not saying that. I mean, the housing market is not doing well. I’m not seeing any fundamental changes in the housing market. Really. This to me seems like a short term story and the market overreact, in.
TN: My view at least, this is that’s great. So I’ve got on screen Sam’s from Sam Rines newsletter, the core CPI and all CPI items, just showing a bit of turnover there. So it could be encouraging to people who like lines. Right.
But if we look at the target rate probabilities for the Fed, which is the second item on the screen, it does look like we have from a 4.5 almost to a 5.5 target rate.
So that shows there may be ongoing tightening, say maybe into Q one, if we don’t see a dramatic continued decline in the rate of rise of inflation. Is that fair to say?
BR: Yeah, I think so. I think that it seems that the growing chorus is shifting from do what continue as long as it takes to fear of overtightening, at least outside of Powell and maybe one or two other people. And Albert really, I think, is the resident expert on FOMC, inside of baseball on that and sort of thinking, et cetera.
But once that rhetoric shifts to fear of overtightening, that tells me that they’re looking for any excuse to stop and to begin moving back. And that will just bring the inflation genie back out. Because again, these policies are being set by people who don’t fundamentally understand what inflation is and isn’t and what’s causing the inflation. So they’re looking at the wrong things still, in my opinion.
So none of the fundamentals that I’m seeing, as I said, that would really drive a sustained reduction in inflation have changed in that direction. And once if they do decide, as you said, Tony, if they do continue to tighten into the first quarter and then decide to do a sharp 180, that’s going to just bring everything back, if not make the situation even worse.
So they’re in a very difficult position and I think, as I said, there’s a lot of political pressure for them to move back, especially given what’s happening with these midterms, certainly on the part of Yellen and the bike administration. But I think maybe Albert can also chime in.
TN: Let’s talk about the Yellen Fed factor and also since she’s a labor economist, Albert, let’s wrap some of these layoffs that happened this week into that discussion.
AM: How coincidental that these layoffs come right after Midterms and after Yellen has done everything in her power to keep equities up so they don’t have to have layoffs until now. Well, now all the layoffs are coming. Like we’ve talked before, they’ll do this right before Christmas.
But also on the CPI and the inflation front, there are two glaring problems that they’re staring at the moment right now. How’s y’all going to deal with the Chinese reopening in March? Because that’s going to be really announced in February. They did a little bit about real estate today. They talked a little bit about real estate supporting the real estate market. And every Chinese name that was on my screen was up by 7%.
And then you talk about oil and then we have a big diesel shortage in New England at the moment and it’s leaking down all the way into the Southeast. And those are just going to add to costs across the board. And I don’t think that they understand how bad inflation can really get. They can only suppress it for so long with SPR releases and whatnot. But it’s coming to a head and I don’t think that Paul is going to be able to release. I think he’s going to have to do another 75 again.
EM: The thing that’s just disturbing to me about that is that, like, for instance, we are going to have a serious diesel shortage coming here currently and it’s only getting worse. Powell cannot fix that problem. So let’s just shoot the consumers even more like his policies. They’re not helping. Unless you want to completely destroy the economy and have a complete disaster blow up with Deleveraging and the whole shebang.
TN: Default rate in auto loans this week. Right. I can’t remember the percentage of people who were two months behind in auto loans.
AM: Skyrocketing wastelouses start kicking into that, too. Started kicking in. But just to touch on what Emo is saying about Powell trying to kick the teeth into the consumers from his perspective, he’s trying to do the right things, but he’s just not getting any help from yelling or other members coming out there talking about pivots.
TN: What would that look like? Help from Yellen. What would that look like?
AM: Well, she can drive the dollar down to Dixie. That rallies the markets pretty easily.
EM: Well, he doesn’t want a market rally, right? She can help.
AM: Powell does not want a market rally. Brainer and yelling did want to market rally for the midterms. So this is the problem that they have. There’s a civil war within the Fed and treasury that is just making these policies look even stupider than usual. And I know Powell is going to get the brunt of it because he’s the Fed chair, but he only has two other members that are on his side. The rest of them are against them. So he doesn’t really have much of a choice. He’s going to have to do 75 in December.
TN: Well you say he’s going to have to do 75 in December.
AM: He’s going to have to do 75 because we have a CPI print coming out December 14. It’s probably not going to be as nicely massaged as this one was. And on top of that he’s running out of time because the Chinese look like they’re going to stimulate in February, March.
TN: Yeah, you’re right. I agree with the timing on China opening and Chinese stimulus in the meantime is going to be really ugly in China. Do you think that it’s possible that there’s some sort of regulatory relief especially for energy that allows, eventually allows more US. Supply, this sort of thing? Or are we too far down that path with the current administration?
AM: Me and Boris are bred from DCP, the Beltway guys, we’ll just laugh at anyone with the notion that think that anything is going to get done legislatively in the next two years.
TN: Okay, but nothing getting done legislatively is not terrible, right? At least we know the rules of the game and their content.
AM: Yeah, it’s not if there wasn’t problems but there’s glaring problems everywhere and things need to get fixed. So you need something from progress.
TN: Okay, let me throw this out to you guys. We have seen a little bit of move on CPI, whether it manipulated or not. We all kind of know it’s always in there a little bit. But what’s the timing on inflation coming back into a reasonable area? Let’s say five to six, I don’t know. Are we a year, two, three years from that, six months from now? What do you guys think? Emma, what do you think?
EM: If we’re ignoring energy and then we’re ignoring fertilizer prices and food prices, we’re looking at goods, those we may see services come down and wait the wage issue come down a little bit. Just like we’ve seen with auto delinquencies, used cars, these sort of things. You see numbers starting to roll over as demand destruction and liquidity has been pulled.
But I think you’re going to see the opposite in energy and you’re going to see diesel shortages which pushes goods prices up. Right. If every trucker in the nation has to spend a time for every time they fill up with diesel and they can’t even fill up enough, then there’s going to be not only a shortage of goods but goods prices will less go up.
I don’t see how we fix that situation. We only have extra finding capacity. It takes like 30 years to build a new one so I don’t see how that gets fixed. So that’s something that really looks like it would push inflation upwards. So if we add all that together, I’d say we’re going to have a problem with inflation for good at least another year if we include energy and food.
TN: OK, let me ask this. That’s a great answer. Let me ask this divorce, because I know I’m going to get an answer that doesn’t agree with what I think is there pressure to broker a Russia Ukraine piece? And if that happened, would that alleviate some of these diesel price issues?
BR: I think that there is. I know that Orban, for example, and Erdogan met and basically said to Zelensky’s, time to use this window of opportunity to start negotiating. So they liberated Kirstan today, which was.
They liberated Kirsten today, which was the one major city that the Russians were able to occupy and they were offensive earlier the year. So this is kind of a huge move with the Russians on the back foot. And these are people who are everyone is playing all sides.
And Orban, of course, is more kind of the one European leader that’s closest to Putin major leader. But I don’t think that the US is. I know that there was some discussion from the Biden administration about don’t be so categorical about Zelensky, about saying you’re not going to negotiate with Putin. It’s irritating African countries, South America, et cetera.
You have to start taking advantage. I don’t think there’s any pressure and will be in the near term, and especially after these midterm results, I think that the risk of any major, immediate cutoffs in military economic aid from the US to Ukraine are going to be somewhat subdued now, given the kind of the risk from right and left. So I don’t think there’s going to be any nearterm pressure on the Ukrainians right now to start looking at essentially trading land for some kind of an intermediate piece.
But as a side issue, there was some in terms of alleviating the diesel and the gas problems, especially in Europe, there was some discussion about Erdogan purchasing Russian gas at a discount and essentially creating an alternative for the Europeans through that pipeline that was being built basically through the Black Sea, et cetera.
And there was a lot of kind of talk in the US and some European capitals like Erdogan is going to save us because he’s playing everybody and he’s going to create a new gas hub in Turkey, as he declared with the Russian gas. What he’s actually going to do, and Albert and I were talking about this too, in my opinion, is because of Turkish elections next year, he’s going to keep the discounted gas, sell it at home, domestically cheaply, in order to drum up support for his reelection next year. He’s not going to resell that to the European.
So that life raft is not going to be sailing. So therefore, I think that unless there is some relief from the weather, I’m not seeing any, because I know that at that moment, because the weather was unseasonably warm to a large extent, you have this natural gas flood in Europe now, which has driven down natural gas price, at least in the short term.
Dutch and et cetera, the benchmark. But I don’t think that’s necessarily going to sustain. I think we could have a colder winter and Erdaman is not going to provide that relief. I know the Ukrainians are looking at alternatives themselves, but the Ukrainian economy doesn’t exist anymore, really.
Right now, we’re basically balancing their budget through direct cash transfers at the moment. I think it’s only going to be bad news and it will reinforce what Emma has said about her predictions about the diesel shortage and about just energy in general and how that would impact inflationary changes. So I’m not seeing any major improvement.
And also, in terms of the broader discussion on inflation, I also agree that, again, kind of what I said before to dovetail off of that, like, none of the fundamentals to reduce inflation have improved, have changed markedly. So we could be, it’s really, to me, a risk tolerance for recession on the part of the Fed.
When will the Fed decide that if they’ve given up on a soft landing, then we’re going to have one projection in terms of when inflation is going to start coming down dramatically. If they still are insisting on the fantasy of a soft landing, then there will come a point where they might decide.
Regardless of what happens with inflation, recession is a much bigger problem. And we’re going to have to, sooner than we had hoped, begin to pivot, which is probably not something that Powell would want to do, but that’s a recession versus a soft landing versus hard landing balancing act that they’re, I think, going to have to perform over the next couple of quarters.
And I think that’s sort of their near term focus and to kind of close that point off. Right. I mean, I think that the layoffs and I mean, the fundamentals are cooling, the economy is slowing. We’re seeing that with the layoffs, the housing market is going to get worse, in my opinion. Oh, yeah, it’s a disaster.
TN: Look at the MBS holdings at the Fed. They’ve just started to tighten them. They’ve just started. Right.
BR: But then you also have to take we talked about you said auto defaults for auto loans. What about credit card debt, consumer credit card debt? And also, what about the leverage that’s on the books of these companies? Why is the tech, which is tech at the tip of the spear? Why are we seeing all of them down 70%, 60, 70% on the year? Why are we seeing the layoffs hit tech massively? First, because they grew too much too quickly and are over level.
EM: They did refinance in 2021 when they had a chance. So they’ve got like a couple of years.
BR: I don’t know who’s advising Zuckerberg here and his colleagues. I think what we’re going to do is we’re not going to refinance, we’re going to double down on Meta, which we don’t really know what to do with and we’re going to double up on the head count dealing with Meta, on the Metaverse thing, that isn’t getting adopted the way that we would want it adopted. It’s like everything, every mistake that could possibly have been made from the financing to the head count to the rollout, and that’s happening across the tech sector, but we’re financing.
TN: Would you have done differently? I would have taken on all that too, because it was fun. I’m kidding. But I actually think that there are more rounds of layoffs in tech coming. I don’t think this is the only round. I think that in the auto sector, tony and auto and other guys.
So I think I was in Silicon Valley in 1998 to 2001. I know that’s ancient history, but my company went through six rounds of layoffs. I didn’t know when I say my company, the company I worked for, they went through six rounds of layoffs.
So I think all these stories about people at Meta thinking they were going to dodge it and all this stuff, I don’t think that I don’t think this is the only one. I think they’re going to have to do more in three to four months.
I think you’re going to see more companies bandwagon on top of this to say, hey, Meta is doing it and Stripes done it and all these other guys are doing it. So let’s use this opportunity to become more productive and we’re going to see a flood of these before the end of the year. Just a flood. I think the tech sector is going to be wrecked in terms of employment.
AM: Oh, yeah, without question. Even going back to your previous point about the Ukrainians and the Russians getting some kind of peace agreement, even if they did, that would solve the diesel problem overnight.
Even if they did that today, it would take a year, maybe 18 months until all that got rolling in again if they looked at the sanctions, because they still have to go through that whole process for all the countries.
EM: Russia doesn’t send us diesel heavy crude and then we have to process it at refineries, which are running at max capacity. Hence the crack spreads being so wide, we can only convert so much crude into distillates, which diesel of which is one of which jet fuel for planes is another, but both things that cost a lot of money when the prices of the input key input goes up.
TN: Okay, great. Let’s do just a really quick round the week ahead. What are you guys looking for for next week? Albert, you go first.
AM: I’m actually going to look at to see what the House majority and Senate majority makeup comprises of and whether the markets are going to react negatively towards it. Because if the Republicans, I know they’re going to take it, but when they get announced that they take the House, the stimulus packages all but die at that point for two years. So I’m very curious to see how the markets react to that.
EM: I’ll be continuing to watch what’s going on in Crypto to see if anything’s happening with Bitcoin ethereum, because we’ve already seen a lot of other tokens just literally, basically go to zero. So just see how that continues to play out.
TN: Great. My $20 a DOJ is still at, like, three times where I bought it at, so I’m just holding on to it just to see where it goes.
EM: And then I’ll also, obviously, as usual, be watching China and certainly the bank of Japan and just the end period.
BR: Yeah, like Albert, the makeup in Congress and also going to be looking at some of the emerging markets. I think maybe if we’re going to get more evidence out of China as to when they’re still pursuing COVID Zero, I think they’re now recording again, like, a record high number of cases from April. It’s not working yet. They’re continuing to double down and reward everybody who’s pursuing that.
So I want to see if they’re going to continue with that and they’re going to be on track for what Albert said to reopen early next year or if it’s just going to get worse. So that’s what I’m going to be focused on.
TN: Yeah. You’ve heard of the great league forward, right? I mean, these don’t really take sound policy advice. When they get their mind on something, they just push it and push it and push it until it harms everybody they can.
EM: I often when you’re trying to when you have, like, the worst debt crisis ever and the population that’s, like, you know, put the equivalent of $50,000 down on apartments, like, millions of people have done that, and they’ve got nothing to show for it, and you want to keep them from acting out and protesting in the streets. It’s pretty convenient to have them all segregated where they’re not communicating. I wonder really what the motivation behind COVID Zero is. And so I don’t know if I buy that it’ll ever end until it’s convenient for it to end economy wise, where she feels no threat.
TN: I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I think things in China don’t necessarily end until they want them to end. Right. And if you look at exports from China to the US. They’re back up to preCOVID levels now. So in terms of that export machine in China, it’s humming, right? So there’s not feeling economic pain, at least in terms of trade.
So if they’re comfortable feeling the domestic economic pain, then why would they stop? So I think what Albert talked about is Code Zero ending in March, and he and I’ve talked about that a couple of months ago as well. I think that’s the best case. So I think there’s a best case that they end it and they stimulate in March, but it’s quite possible it continues going on because there may be social reasons, there may be other reasons to not open up.
So I don’t think, as westerners, we can look at the Chinese government necessarily and understand the perspective they have on policy and the reasons they have for policy. There is so much inside of Jungkonghai and all of the different things that happen that we just can’t look at it rationally and say they should do A, then B, then c, and very few Americans can look at that and understand why and how it’s happening. You may be exactly right.
EM: Yeah. It’s not a logical I mean, it’s more like if I’m she or if I’m trying to do this, it’s not really like what westerners typically associate as logical things to do economically. It’s more like it’s possible.
TN: Yeah. Anything’s possible. Guys, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time you took to talk through this. Have a great weekend. And have a great weekend. Thank you so much.
Crude and energy are on everybody’s minds, and we spent a lot of the Week Ahead parsing the details. Saudi Arabia came out with some comments about restricting their crude supplies to global markets, and we also have a detailed discussion on the SPR release in the US – when will it end, how will that impact crude prices, etc.
We also discussed Jackson Hole drama and the conclusions of Powell’s latest speech. Powell really didn’t say anything new, so why are equity markets reacting so dramatically?
And will we finally get some stimulus from China’s government? We’ve seen movement in tech stocks and some talks of the stimulus release, but we expect more after the US election.
1. Crude oil supply: Saudi/UAE cuts vs SPR
2. Jackson Hole Drama
3. China Stimulus (Finally?)
4. What’s ahead for next week?
This is the 31st episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
Tony Nash: Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. This week, we’re joined by Josh Young for the first time. So I want to thank Josh a lot for taking the time to join us. We’ve got Albert Marko and Samuel Rines. We’re lucky to have these three really valuable guests.
Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe to this YouTube channel. You’ll get reminded every week. Give us comments on the show. We always look at the comments. We always respond to the comments. So thanks for taking the time to do that.
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We have a couple of key items this week. First is the crude oil supply. We had Saudi Arabia come out with some comments about restricting their supply. We also have some information on the SPR release in the US. So we’re going to ask Josh to leave the discussion on that.
Obviously, Jackson Hole drama. We’re probably the only people not leading the Jackson Hole today. But there are some meaningful things happening. There are some things happening that are not meaningful, and Sam will talk us through that.
And then when we finally get some China stimulus, I think that’s a real question and Albert will lead us on that.
So Josh, thanks again for joining us. You put out a tweet earlier today about the UAE supporting the Saudi comments on supply restrictions.
Can you talk us through that and help us understand why did that happen and why is that important?
Josh Young: So the UAE is supporting what the Saudis and other OPEC members are doing in terms
of threatening to cut production based on the combination of lower price, as well as their observation that there may be some paper market price manipulation and disconnect from what they’re seeing as the largest sort of combined suppliers in the oil market. And it’s particularly important that the UAE did this because what we saw at Bison was that most of the OPEC members were actually producing their maximum production capacity. And when you produce that maximum, the fields aren’t designed for that. It’s sort of like driving with your foot all the way down on the gas 100% of the time. You’ll break your car and you’ll crash.
And so a lot of these fields and their processing facilities, they’re just not designed to run at this. It’s a theoretical capacity that’s supposed to run for a week, a month, three months, not how they’ve been running it. And so there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of fields in many of the OPEC countries to actually reduce production slightly, so it’s not a surprise.
And we forecast that there would be some discussion of this given the high run rate versus their spare capacity. UAE in particular does have some remaining spare capacity, so what we’re seeing is cohesion within OPEC along with supply exhaustion of the other OPEC members. So it’s actually a pretty big thing, and I don’t think people are really picking up on it too much. Although maybe it’s why oils flat up a little.
TN: With the market down a lot today. Is this something that will start small incrementally and then it will accelerate? Meaning will they cut off a little bit of supply and then over time, maybe they take some fields down for maintenance or something like that, and then you start to see bigger chunks? Is that a possible scenario?
JY: Yeah. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what the path will be. I just know that they see it. We were joking before the show that, hey, maybe they’re following my Twitter feed and a few other people’s been observing these problems with the oil market and sort of weird trading patterns versus very strong physical demand and sort of very strong indicators.
And you see Saudi has a very high price relative to their benchmarks. Right. Their poster price, especially Asia, has been very high and usually that’s associated with price strength, and instead we’ve seen price weakness. So I think they’re very frustrated by that, but they may wait for some other things. So oil prices to fall a little more or some other sort of signal, maybe some small amount of demand destruction to the extent that happens. I think it’s a little hard, just given the Saudi relationship with the US and their sort of hope to maintain a lot of their alliance and their alignment with the west.
So I think they need sort of an additional catalyst. That being said, once they do it, they might… I don’t know if they start small and then go big, or they might just go big. They might just say, hey, we’re cutting by a million barrels a day. We increased by four over the last year and a half, and we’re fully supportive of the market. We might go a lot bigger if necessary, and there’s a disconnect and we’re going to support it.
TN: Okay, so how much of this is related to the SPR release? Is the SPR release having such an impact on prices that the Saudis are kind of fed up with it, or are there other factors?
JY: I actually don’t think it’s related to the SPR release almost at all. It does look like it’s a little related to some of the job owning around a potential agreement with Iran. And there’s a lot of disagreement in terms of how much oil production could come on if Iran came to an agreement with the west and sort of restarted. JCPOA. I’m in the camp that there’s not a lot left to produce and to export. You can see the amount is getting exported to India and various other countries. It’s up a lot from the last time this was floated, six or seven months ago. So whatever that capacity was for Iran to export, it’s less.
But I think it’s partly tied to that because Iran is a regional foe of Saudi Arabia and UAE and several other OPEC countries. So I think it’s a little bit of that. And I think it’s a lot related to the paper market trading patterns and just this really big weird disconnect where you see consumption fine and you see price down and it’s probably messing up your CI Futures forecasting a little because you’re probably tracking the consumption and the consumption is fine and the price is down. And it’s like. Okay. The inventories are down. This is weird. Again, excluding SPR, when the SPR stops releasing, obviously you’d expect price to recover substantially absent a million barrels a day of demand structure.
TN: Is that what you expect when the SPR release is done, that’s late October or something, right, do you expect prices to rise notably?
JY: Yeah. And I think like, the EIA forecast for shale production growth and sort of overall US oil production is just totally off base. They haven’t reset it, even though I think they had like a million barrels a day or something forecast for growth. And I think we’re at sort of 300,000 barrels a day so far this year and pretty flat. And the rig count is not up that much, and the frac stack count is definitely not up enough. So I think there’s sort of this disconnect.
There also in terms of this mark to model from a production perspective versus what’s actually happening in the field. And then you look at it’s not hard to see who the big producers are on the public side and then which ones had forecast growth and how much they’re actually achieving.
It’s really hard to reconcile their forecast for production growth versus what’s actually happening. And we’re really well situated for this because we spend most of our time we talk a lot about macro, we spend most of our time just like looking at individual companies and evaluating them and evaluating their securities. And so I think it’s part of why we’ve had such a powerful voice from a macro perspective, because we’re spending most of our time talking to these companies, looking at the rigs, looking at other services, figuring out the bottlenecks, and looking at some of the local stuff.
And when you do that and you step back and say, these numbers don’t make sense, and the companies are not tracking anywhere close to that. So back to SPR, that matters a lot because we’re not achieving the production that is being forecast. And it seems like a lot of market participants, or at least prognosticators, are just accepting as a given. That means that at whatever point… I’m not saying that the SPR release stops in October. They may continue it, but at whatever point, there is a finite amount of oil there. And we’re hitting tank bottom on some of those caverns that are releasing oil. At some point we just run out or we stop releasing and whatever that point is, absent significant demand destruction in a very deep recession, I think we see a lot higher oil prices.
TN: So in terms of the SPR release, you said, you talk about being empty, this sort of thing. How much do you think are you still thinking kind of October? Are you thinking they’re going to continue, but it would kind of have to trickle out, not at the same rate they had been releasing to date. Right? Because they are short on supply in the SPR.
JY: Yeah, I don’t think it has to trickle out. I think they could produce pretty hard for another month or so, and then it starts becoming more of an issue. But as you get down to it, looks like the numbers around 20% or so for any of the individual storage facilities, and for some of them, it might be a little higher, some of it might be a little lower. You start having issues with contamination as well as just physical deliverability, actually extracting it out.
And I think people take the numbers a little too seriously. And it’s very weird because no one trusts the government about certain things and then other things they just blindly say, oh yeah, it’s right. It’s from, okay, try to reconcile that.
And I think when you talk to engineers and some of the people that have worked on these facilities, their observation is that it’s reasonable to expect less deliverability. But there are enough of the facilities that aren’t drawn down enough that they should be able to supply. I don’t think we’re really hitting deliverability issues yet, but I think we’re likely to start to hit them, let’s say over the next month or so.
TN: Okay. So kind of when we take what you’re talking about and we look at, say, the potential impact of crude prices and refined product prices on inflation and energy prices generally on inflation, seems to me that you’re implying that towards the end of the year we could see those prices rise fairly quickly. Is that fair to say?
JY: It is. But at the same time, gasoline prices are still down a lot. These will start to tick back up the gasoline, which is a big consumer factor, as well as it gets felt through a number of different aspects of the economy. So at least for now, that’s not so much of a risk. But yeah, definitely. Sort of later on in the year, one could expect that.
And one other way to look at that is there’s been a divergence, and I’ve ignored these historically, to my detriment. There’s been a divergence in between the oil price and oil and gas equity prices and oil and gas equities have done a lot better over the last, let’s say, month and a half than oil prices have. And it looks like the equity market is telling us that the companies…
I mean, one, the companies are just very cheap, so I would think naturally they should rise. But the degree of divergence is so much that it seems like the equity market is making a forward looking bet on higher than strip prices in the future. And the forward market and the oil paper market is making the bet that it will be lower.
So there does seem to be a noteworthy divergence that could mean much higher inflation, like you’re saying, but it might also be that shelter matters a lot more and some other stuff matters a lot more, and it might really take diesel rising a lot and gasoline rising a lot to actually shift back into high inflation.
TN: Okay, is that divergence between only upstream companies or is it upstream midstream? Is it the whole stack? What is that divergence? What does that include?
JY: So I’m most focused on upstream. I don’t actually remember whether it also included the pipelines and services. But on the upstream, definitely both the large cap, the XLE ETF that includes Exxon and Chevron and stuff, as well as XOP, which includes sort of independence.
TN: Fantastic. Okay, Josh, that is excellent. Thank you so much for that. On that inflation topic,
let’s move to Jackson Hole. Of course, there’s a lot of breathy analysis of Jackson Hole over the last couple of days, and there will be over the weekend. But Sam Rines, who has the most valuable newsletter that I know of that’s available in America today, covered this week, and there’s a chart that he has in there looking at the meeting probabilities and also looking at the headlines that may or may not come out of Jackson Hole.
Sam, can you talk us through that? And what do you expect some of the conclusions to be?
Sam Rines: Yeah, so I thought it was really interesting. The Fed said nothing all that interesting today. I mean, it might have been a shock to people who weren’t paying attention, but the Fed just reiterated about, I don’t know, 99% of what it’s already said and set it in different words. And Powell said it basically eight and a half minutes. Right. That was the big change. All he did was take a bunch of time out of the speech, condense it and say, we’re not pivoting. They were never pivoting. The pivot was out of the picture at the last meeting. He made that pretty clear during that press conference.
So it’s really interesting to me that there was an actual equity reaction to it. It’s also really interesting
that there was relatively little reaction out of Currencies, relatively little reaction out of global interest rates and only a reaction on the equity front. It was like it was a shock to the equity guys, and everybody else was like, yeah, we need that. So I think that was really the big takeaway was it was a shock to the equity
markets, but everyone who had to be paying attention for the last six months was like, yeah, no big deal.
So Jackson Hole I think one of the things that I had said about it in the newsletter was, you’re not going
to learn anything new. And the only thing that we learned was that Paul was going to say absolutely nothing new and absolutely nothing interesting, and equity markets would still react to it in a pretty meaningful way. The idea that we were going to go to 4% and then stay at 4% was already priced in to Fed fund futures through the end of ’23.
So this whole idea that Powell somehow shocked the market. It’s one of the more entertaining things
today, in my opinion, is just that equity markets were so taken aback by it while you had three or four basis point moves in interest rates across the US curve. And just a big shrug.
To me, the big news today was probably out of Europe where people were potentially discussing 75 basis
point hike from the ECB. The Czech Republic doing an emergency meeting on energy.
There were some more interesting things that happened in the market today, but I think I overlooked in favor of an eight and a half minute speech by somebody just re iterating what he had already said 900 times.
TN: So let’s talk about Europe a little bit, because that’s interesting. I mean, Europe is in a world of hurt, right? We’ve talked about that several times. So what do you think the path for the ECB is from here? Do you think they’re going to hike 75?
SR: No, I think they hike 50. I think 75 is probably a little too aggressive for them. I mean, we were talking about ten basis points three months ago as being something that we thought would be interesting. And now the idea of floating 75, I think that was mostly to defend the currency, right. They knew that there was a known that you were going into Jackson Hole and if you front ran that with the leak that you might go 75, you’re going to defend your currency somewhat against a potentially hawkish Powell. It’s pretty straightforward in terms of defending a Euro at one. So I think that was basically the case. Call 50, maybe 75, I don’t really care. They’re going to hike, and they’re going to hike in a pretty meaningful way, particularly for a place that is already screwed. Right into the recession, right? Yeah.
I think it’s a pretty interesting opportunity to go long the long-end booned and short the Euro. Yeah, we’ve talked about that a few times here and that’s great.
TN: Okay, guys, what else do you have on the, Albert, Josh? Are you guys hearing anything else on US economy or Jackson Hole?
Albert Marko: Sam mentioned about the equity reaction. How much of that is really because
of the low liquidity right now? There’s no traders really out there, no volume out there really, at the moment.
SR: But liquidity works both ways, right? If you have low liquidity, you can rip it. It can get ripped either way. And I think what you saw immediately following his speech was you saw a leg down, then you saw 1% leg down, 1% leg back up, and then a two to 3% leg down, depending on what industry you want to look at. Right. So liquidity works.
AM: But you’re right, nothing was new. That rally that they launched for the weeks prior to that, you expected them to go hawkish after that, what are they going to do? Go dovish and go to 4400, 4500 and look ridiculous? Nothing new came out of this. He’s right about that.
SR: I think there was an opportunity for them to potentially begin to say, hey, we’re going 50s and then 25s, and then we’re going to pause at 4% and we’re going to see how much we’ve ruined everything. There was the potential for that.
But then when you get STIs, you get financial conditions ripping higher, you have meme stocks
coming back into the news. Yeah. The Fed is not going to consider that type policy. If anything, they’re going to look at that and say, hey, it looks like short term neutral is a little bit higher than we thought it was. We need to move a little further and then begin to pause.
So if anything, the equity rally going into Jackson Hole was more problematic for equity markets than people thought.
TN: So do you think some of those 25 expected 25s could be 50s in say, Q4?
SR: I don’t care if they’re going to get to four and then they’re going to stop and they’re going to get to four before they’re going to get to four around December and then they’re going to see what kind of carnage they’ve done. If they haven’t done enough carnage, they go higher. Pause there.
TN: That makes sense.
SR: The pace is probably I would say the pace kind of matters for shock and all purposes,
but in general the pace is kind of meh.
The end is really important and the length of staying at the peak is what is truly the most important thing here. If they’re there for a year and a half and they don’t care about a recession, that’s one thing. If they’re there for six months and cut by 75 because we’re in a recession, then go back, that’s a different thing. But I really don’t care how quickly they get there.
TN: Okay. And the run up to the midterms has no bearing on what the Fed is going to do, is that?
TN: None. Okay. I just hear that from time to time. Well, the midterms are coming, so the Fed
is going to just relax for a few months.
AM: You hear that mainly from me. From my perspective, it’s always been like when I say Fed, I want to say Treasury and Fed together because of Yellen. But sometimes they have those concerns. Like they don’t want the current administration looking bad. I had a midterm. Yeah.
SR: That should sail.
AM: Well, that should sail because just because of the ridiculous antics that they pulled recently with inflation, it’s being ridiculous. So you’re right, that ship has sailed.
TN: Well, I mean, are they ridiculous or not? I mean, inflation has definitely risen and they’ve definitely taken action to offset inflation.
AM: Yeah, they’ve done that in a vacuum because China is not online yet and Europe is a complete disaster at the moment. Right. And we haven’t had a real event to drive oil up into like the 130s, 140s again. God forbid we have a hurricane in like a week that goes into the Gulf of Mexico while Grandhome is sending out letters to all the refiners saying you can’t export anything anymore. There’s plenty of room.
TN: She’s encouraging them. She’s not requiring them. Right?
AM: Yeah. Okay, well, we’ll see about that.
JY: She’s making them an offer that they can’t refuse. So my general take was just like, I’m not a Fed watcher. My general take was kind of stagflation coming out of this. Right? It’s like policy that can’t get too extreme to really like they’re going to try to torch the economy, but they’re also not going to go to a 15 interest rate or anything like that. They’re going to go to a four or whatever, and maybe they’ll go slower or faster.
I think there’s some political motivation there. So maybe they go slower and then they turn on higher after the election. Maybe not. Unclear. Kind of doesn’t matter from my perspective.
What does matter is, like Albert was saying, I think there’s a decent shot that we end up with higher oil prices. We end up with other factors. So, like, there are various drivers that are pushing, especially in the rental market, shelter higher, not lower. And so with persistent inflation in the biggest household bucket, and then with a likely move higher this winter in oil and diesel and probably also gasoline, it’s going to look pretty ugly. And if you have them stopping kind of at four, maybe going to let’s say five or something, but inflation is at ten or nine or whatever, right? Some directionally, really high number. At some point, you just start ticking in where you have negative real and positive nominal, and that’s just hard to break unless they go a lot higher. But if the economy is sucking, that makes it really hard. So that was my sort of general take from what they were saying.
AM: I wanted to come back and ask you about the SPR just real quick about the oil in it. Some of it has got to have degradation, and there’s a lot less barrels there that they can actually release. They might have to stop in end of September. You might start seeing oil rise even before October.
JY: Yes. My base case is not that. My base case is there’s a little bit of contamination, but they’ve managed to reduce that either by not pulling from the caverns that have had contamination historically or by treating the oil or something. My base case is that the oil there is extractable, except they can’t get the last barrel because there’s a certain percentage that needs to be there for the caverns to continue to be
functional, and they’re not going to destroy the storage caverns just to get the last oil. That’s my base case.
But I think there’s a reasonable expectation that there’s less oil there, given the history of contamination and the issues. And they did have a big draw this past week, but prior to that, they had multiple smaller draws. There’s also the crude quality thing, which I’m not really in the crude quality matters camp. I think there’s sort of this bizarre notion that crude, which is mostly fungible, really matters. It did to some extent before you could export oil and before various changes in US refineries.
At this point, it matters a little in terms of getting a couple of dollars, more or less per barrel, depending on transport cost. But I don’t think that’s really affecting the global balance. And I think it’s sort of like
a magic trick, right? It’s like focus on this and not like the thing that actually matters.
And so I’m glad you didn’t bring it up. I guess I brought it up and I just don’t think it matters, though.
TN: Great. Thanks for that, guys. Okay, let’s move on to China. Albert, over the past a week or so, we’ve seen a number of stories saying that China fiscal stimulus may finally be coming.
And we’ve seen some movements, say, in China, tech stocks, these sorts of things. So can you talk us through what you’re seeing with China in the stimulus camping? And why now? They’ve waited so long. Why would it be coming now?
AM: Well, it’s coming out because the policy and the dollar is so high, the Chinese economy is struggling at the moment and they come out with these mini stimulus announcements and there were shots across the bow. I mean, the worst thing right now that the Fed can happen is China stimulating commodities ripping at the moment, that would be absolutely atrocious. Inflation will start going higher and we seen like Josh said a 10% CPI prints coming out and they’re going to be forced to do 75 basis points again. It would throw a wrench in a lot of things and it’s not good if they stimulate it right now.
But after the election, after the US election, they can do what they want to do because they have their own interests at heart at the moment. They cannot let the Chinese economy fall to a point where they can’t recover in the near future.
TN: So what do you see coming out in the near term? This $229 billion bond sale? That was a start, right? So do you see more than that or dramatically more than that coming out? And how quickly do you expect?
AM: Yeah, I expect by January that will have a significant stimulus package coming out. This little SEC audit deal was basically a gift to delay it as much as long as they can.
TN: Okay, very good. And then so you don’t expect a significant amount of Chinese stimulus before, say, December or something like that?
AM: Yeah, before December.
TN: Okay. Sam, what do you think about that? Do you think China stimulus hurts the US?
SR: I really don’t think that the Fed would care or go 75. I mean, it’s commodities, right? And the Fed tries to ignore commodities as much as possible. So yeah, you’re going to get a rip in oil because there’s not enough oil to go around, there’s not enough oil for China and it’s going to coincide with the end of the SPR release. So you’re kind of screwed there.
Copper, all that stuff goes higher. I don’t think the Fed cares. The Fed is going to try to cut that out. Then they’ll pivot core and you’re going to have a really weak Renminbi and you’re going to have probably at least a little bit of a pass through to US consumers on the goods front as you get goods to flow back.
So you could actually see kind of an interesting offset where core goods kind of begins to decline on a Chinese reopen. Commodities rip and you get the, hey look, it looks like core is moving back towards two. We’re not going to have to raise rates as much because we don’t really care about headline, we can’t control oil, we can’t pump more oil.
So I think it’s a weird kind of catch 22 where the Fed is going to have to pivot from talking about headline to talking about core. But I think they’re happy to do it as long as that core is really moving lower because I think they know they’re screwed on energy. They’re in so much trouble in energy, commodities, et cetera, that there’s nothing they can do.
TN: I think you’re right and we’ve needed a weaker CNY for about six, seven months now. So I think it’s about time and we’ve started to see it move, but I think we’ll start to see it move more dramatically soon.
Okay, guys, let’s start looking at the week ahead. Just a quick kind of round the horn of what do you think, Albert, what are you looking for for the coming week?
AM: I’m looking for a little bit of a rally back off these loads here, try to bring it back to 4200. I just personally think that the economy is in trouble, they’re delaying a recession as long as they possibly can, but it’s coming. So I think a little bit of a pump next week and then probably heading back down into September.
TN: Okay, Sam?
SR: Oh, I agree with Albert there. I think the knee jerk reaction today to the Fed is going to be unloud as people begin to look at what really went on in rates. What’s going on in FX. The concentration should be on what’s going on in Europe. And the flow versus the stock problem that nobody seems to be able to figure out. Which is you can stock as much gas as you want in a bunch of caverns in Europe. If you don’t have flow over the winter, your stocks really don’t matter. I think there’s going to be a little bit of a realization that stock versus flow matter more than stocks and at some point you’ve got to figure that one out. So that’s what I’m watching.
TN: Interesting. Okay, Josh, what are you looking for in the week ahead?
JY: Just more information on oil demand. So we’re starting to see reports of surprise, higher oil demand than people would have thought, which coincide with actual reports of oil demand when you look at the raw data. So that should be interesting to see sort of how that gets processed and then sort of how oil price may or may not get suppressed. Again, just as we get more good data points, price should go higher, but it doesn’t seem to want you for now.
TN: Very good. From the energy capital of the Universe in Houston, Texas, Josh Young, Sam Rines.
Guys. Thanks very much. Albert, thanks. Have a great day, have a great weekend and a great week ahead.
We had a chop last week. And towards the end of the week, we had the CPI print, which put a damper on markets. In this episode, we’ll talk about CPI and peak inflation, which people have been talking about for months, but we haven’t quite hit it yet.
Of course, we’re going to talk about the hot dollar, and we’re going to talk about fuel inflation and things like refining capacity and even a nat gas plant explosion that happened here in Texas last week.
And then finally, what is going on in the week ahead?
CPI & “Peak Inflation” – Core CPE, hand off from goods to services, Fed policy and markets.
Hot dollar – DXY has only been higher in Feb 1985 and Jan 2002. Fed, Dollar, Yellen, etc.
TN: Hi everybody. And welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. We are with Tracy and Sam today. Albert is in an undisclosed location, so he won’t be joining. But we’ll have a good show anyway. So before we get started, please like and subscribe. And as importantly, please comment. We really appreciate those. We respond to all of them. And it’s great to have the engagement.
This week. We had chop, as Sam talked about. And towards the end of the week, we had the CPI print, which really put a damper on markets. So we’re going to talk about a few things. First, CPI and peak inflation, which people have been talking about for months, but we haven’t quite hit it yet. Of course, we’re going to talk about the hot dollar, and we’re going to talk about fuel inflation and things like refining capacity and even a natgas plant explosion that happened here in Texas last week. And then finally, what is going on in the week ahead?
So first, CPE was all of the focus for the last half of the week. Sam put out an amazing note, a couple of amazing notes this week talking about inflation and what the Fed will do. So we’re looking at a chart right now on core CPI. And Sam, can you walk us through why the core matters and what’s happening there?
SR: Sure. The core matters because it strips out food and energy, and that’s what the Fed likes to look at. Right. That’s what the market looks at for underlying inflation dynamics generally. It’s kind of a quick and easy number. Luckily, it’s accelerated by some marginal amount on a month over month, year over year basis. Cool. Nobody should really care about that, because when you break apart the actual numbers, the entirety of the deceleration and core inflation was in the good side. We know that goods are coming down, particularly on a year over year basis. They want skyrocket and to the right, that’s just not sustainable.
TN: Is that because of the inventories that were accumulated at retailers and other folks.
SR: That’s part of it. Used cars as well. There’s airline fares are in there, too. So that’s going to be somewhat of a problem as we move forward.
The interesting thing to me is when you actually dig into it. Yeah. Core goods accelerated, but core services, which are far stickier and far more difficult for the Fed to kind of get a hold of accelerated.
TN: Right. So let’s put that up now and then. Yeah. So we’ve got your chart up now about the commodities, less food and energy and then services, less energy. So can you help us understand what that means?
SR: Yeah, sure. That’s just call it the core CPI broken into services and goods. Right. So it strips out food and energy from both of them. And then you kind of get a more of a feel of what’s really happening in the underlying economy. And there was always this big debate among economists about when this hand off from goods to services was going to happen and how that was going to affect the economy. And unfortunately for the Fed and for market participants, that hand off is happening.
You can see it in the data and you can see it in the inflation data in particular. It’s happening. The problem is that you don’t have goods coming down fast enough and you have services moving up way too quickly. And those two components are unlikely to give the Fed any sort of comfort in the next six to nine months.
TN: Okay. With services moving up, does that mean that wages, say on the lower end around things like hospitality and restaurants, does it mean that those wages are going up?
SR: Not directly. There’s some implied probability that you’re beginning to see some movement there, but you’ve seen quite a bit of movement at a leisure and hospitality in particular in terms of the wage gains there.
Unfortunately, the wage gains can be pretty large in magnitude, a 5 to 9 percent type acceleration year over year in leisure and hospitality wages. But it doesn’t really move the needle in terms of overall wage gains because those tend to be the lower end of the income scale.
TN: Okay. So I saw some data this week looking at credit capacity, and it looks like US consumers put record amounts on credit cards in April and May. Does that make you nervous? And I’m not talking about the high end of consumers. I’m talking about the middle and lower end of consumers because there’s a lot more of them. Right. Does that make you nervous?
SR: Yes. And it goes to the conversation that Tracy and I are going to have in a little bit here. A lot of it is due to gasoline. Right. You don’t go to a pump and typically pay with cash. I mean, you did that 10, 15, 20 years ago. You typically go to the pump and pay with a credit card.
So when you begin to have prices like this, move this quickly on the pump side of things and grocery side of things, you tend to have a move up in credit card usage that’s translating to debt because you simply don’t have wages keeping up. Yes, wages are ticking higher, but they’re not keeping up. So the lower end of the consumption, called the lower two quartiles, they are struggling with this, and that is going directly on the credit cards.
TN: I’ve talked to a few people this week about how wages in developed economies work. And if we were in an emerging economy, middle income economy, there would be more flexibility on wages because wages rise faster generally in those economies. But in, say, the US, wages really don’t rise fast.
So on some level, it’s a bit hard for people to understand that wages in the US are generally inflexible, especially at the lower and middle ends. And so it is kind of zero sum. Right. So as gas and food prices rise, that takes away consumption from other areas, right?
SR: It does. And the other thing that it leads to is more of a trend towards unionization and other forms of labor activism. And you’re going to continue to see labor activism if wages continue to trail this far behind inflation. That is an underlying trend that I think is going to be somewhat important for understanding how markets react because labor was fairly cheap, give or take for US businesses in particular.
If you begin to have more unionization, if you begin to have more of an activist labor movement, that is going to be a thing to corporate earnings, not just for the next year. That’s going to be a thing for corporate earnings going forward.
TN: Okay. So let’s talk about corporate earnings. As we look at, say, Q2 corporate earnings, it doesn’t look good, right? I mean, generally the expectation is that their margin compression, all this other stuff really starts to sting in Q2 Is that right?
TS: It depends on the industry as well, because what we’re seeing and what I’m hearing as far as obviously oil companies are going to do extremely well so are refiners right now. But we are also seeing the hospitality industry do extremely well as far as travel is concerned, because we’re seeing a lot of pent up demand where people are not spending retail spending, but they’re still spending for trips.
If we look at US air bookings, for example, there are 93% of 2019 levels for Europe. We’re at 95% for South America. We’re at over what we were in 2019 to the Caribbean. And we’re also seeing soaring hotel bookings right now, even with cost pushing higher and ticket prices higher. So I think that Q2 is going to be very good actually, for, say, oil and gas and the hotel industry. But then as we move into Q3, I think we’re going to see a big hangover in that area in the fall.
SR: And to Tracy’s point, hotel bookings are above 2019 levels and the average price of those rooms through the roof. So you multiply those two together to get your average room rate and Occupancy, those are some big numbers that we’re going to see over the summer. To Tracy’s point, there’s going to be a lot of people that blow it out of the water in terms of earnings, and there’s going to be a lot of people that surprise the downside.
If you were a work from home darling, that was expecting work from home and those dynamics to be permanent and you’re in trouble. Right. That’s the target problem. People aren’t buying goods. They’re going places. And the bifurcation there is going to become stark as we move through the second quarter and probably into the third quarter.
TN: Really interesting. Okay. And then I guess the question that is probably overanalyzed, but people are waiting for is what does this mean for the Fed? They’re still on target for 50 in June, 50 in July and 50 in September. Is that your assessment? And maybe 25 in November? I think.
SR: 50 in November, 50 in December.
TN: 50 in November, 50 in December? Wow. So we’re going back to the 90s.
SR: Basically fully priced in the market.
TN: Is there any chance that they will accelerate beyond 50? Like, would they front load any of that just to shock the system?
SR: No, because I don’t think they want to shock the system. The Fed already has a credibility problem. If you move from 50 to 75, you create more of a credibility problem because you forward guided 50-50, and now all of a sudden you’re telling the market you’re doing 75, the market is just going to stop believing and they’re going to push the Fed and they’re just going to push back and it’s going to be a huge problem.
So I don’t think they’re surprised on that front. They may tweak the balance sheet. That’s a little bit of an easier move to make. Right. You can speed up the MBS role. You can pick up a little bit of the front end roll on US Treasuries, you can tighten that way and have it not be as much of a shock to the system.
SR: But have it be pretty interesting on the tightening front.
TN: Okay. But let’s dig into that, though. I’m sorry to spend too much time on our first topic, but if they accelerate the MBS stuff, housing is already kind of at a standstill over a two month period. Two to three month period.
A lot of people have had wealth effects because of the rapidly inflated house prices. So if they accelerate MBS, that perception of housing wealth collapses even more. Right. And so does that have relatively like a multiplier effect on the deceleration of consumption?
SR: It does. But that transmission is pretty slow generally, and you had a significant amount of call it front running against the housing market to take out equity. So I would push back a little bit on a collapse in transactions is going to have a big effect. What you really need to see is pricing actually coming down because it’s about pricing.
TN: Pricing coming down.
SR: Yeah. And pricing. The data is so delayed that it’s almost worthless.
TN: Nominal housing prices.
SR: Yes. But you’re still seeing housing prices hold up pretty well for most of the country. So until you really begin to see a crack there, I don’t think the wealth effect really takes hold from houses.
But you’re probably talking about a September, October type time frame for home prices to be weighing on people’s minds.
TN: Okay. It feels like over the past few months things have changed pretty dramatically. Expectations and these sorts of things. I know you’ve been talking about this for months, but I think the world is just catching up to it. And two months ago everyone said, oh, it’s all priced in. And then we get a day like Friday where obviously it’s not priced.
SR: I’ll stop after this but the interesting part about Friday was it wasn’t just call it the November December meetings getting priced higher for Fed rate hikes. It was March and May of next year that also saw pretty significant volumes and saw the pricing of the Fed movement get pushed pretty hard. So you’re seeing movement across a very long time horizon.
You’re talking twelve months out is kind of what people are pushing on now. So that really creates a different dynamic. But it’s a different dynamic to have eight or ten basis points priced in in September or November. It’s a bigger deal to have quite a bit of tightening priced in for December and March. Those are some out months those begin to really move markets on the margin.
TN: All of this in a midterm year. All of this in the midterm election year.
SR: It’s really painful all around, right? It’s painful all around. But I think the Fed kind of plays second fiddle to Tracy’s point on energy and how that flows through the consumer and the consumer psyche because that is critical at this point.
TN: Okay. So speaking of second fiddle let’s move on to the hot dollar and Fed playing second fiddle to Janet Yellen as Tracy has said before. We’re looking. At DXY that is the third highest it’s been ever it was very high in the mid eighty s it was very high in I think February 2002.
We’ve got that chart up now and now it’s hitting rates that it hasn’t hit for years so we have the Fed doing certain things to tame but we also have things like crude and other commodities that are rising in dollars. Terms. And it looks like the dollar is being pushed up to fend off some of that. So, Tracy, can you talk us a little bit through your view of kind of Yellen and her dollar bias and then impacts that you expect to see.
TS: She said since the beginning she wanted a strong dollar. Right. The problem is that right now this is a disastrous recipe for emerging markets right now with high energy prices and high dollar. And it’s no wonder we’re seeing huge outflows in emerging markets right now as far as investments are concerned. And so really that’s who’s going to feel the pain the most that could throw us to a global recession, for sure.
SR: To that point, Europe is in a lot of trouble, and the Dixie is basically a measurement of euros and yen. That’s right. If you want to talk about a central bank that’s lost credibility, there’s none better than the ECB and Madame Lagarde and that wonderfully stupid speech that she gave this week, it was spectacularly bad.
TN: It’s what happens when you have a lawyer running monetary policy.
SR: They’re raising rates, and we have them, too. Anyway, moving on. So there is an interesting kind of dynamic there where you basically had the ECB for the first time in forever, say we’re going to raise rates like they just told us straight up they were going to do it and they got the wrong reaction across markets.
The currency didn’t go up. The currency didn’t strip. The currency looked pretty ugly that day. And then you’ve got yen sitting at 135 because they’re still doing yield curve control and it doesn’t look like they’re ever going to end it. So you have the Fed going in the exact opposite direction or much quicker than the rest of the world. In the DM world in particular.
That’s a recipe for a stronger dollar. And until you either get the ECB to smarten up or you get YCC brackets moved, yield curve control brackets moved by the bank of Japan, there’s no stopping the Dixie from moving higher. Right. It’s a two currency, two currencies basis.
TN: Remember Abenomics, when they were fighting to get 2% inflation in Japan.
TS: They’re still fighting. That’s why you can’t see inflation, it’s incredible.
TN: Yeah. Tracy, if we continue to see the dollar strengthen, do you think that has much impact on, say, crude prices and fuel prices?
TS: I know that everybody likes to think it’s a one to one correlation. Right. We think stronger dollar commodities. But it’s really not a one to one correlation, especially when you’re talking when you have actual supply demand issues. Right. Like we have a supply deficit across. So a stronger dollar is not going to hurt oil prices when you have real supply demand issues. Whereas if you look at something more like gold, the stronger dollar is not necessarily great for gold right now.
TN: Yeah. So I love it when people like talking about correlations of oil and dollar because many of them don’t realize that actually the positive correlation between oil and dollar is more frequent than many people want to admit, and it’s more persistent than many people want to admit.
So the kind of go to there’s a negative .9% correlation between oil and the dollar. It’s just not true. It’s a fiction.
SR: And the dynamic changed when the US became a major producer of oil.
SR: That completely changed the dynamic. So if you’re not paying attention to the structural breaking system where the US became the world’s largest producer of hydrocarbons, you don’t know what you’re doing.
TN: Right. So who hurts the most? I think we mentioned EMs, but kind of who hurts the most, aside from Sri Lanka, which we already know? Is it like North Africa, those types of places? Is it Southeast Asia? Just off the top of your head, we didn’t rehearse this, so I’m just curious, what do you think hurts the most?
TS: I think you’re going to see a lot of problems in Africa for certain only because a lot of the OPEC producers there are struggling themselves already. Right. All of those people are the ones that are contributing majorly to the quota misses right now. So I think you’re going to see real pain there over Asia, I would say.
TN: Okay, Sam?
SR: Yeah, I would agree with Tracy. North Africa, East Africa, those look very vulnerable, particularly when you combine food costs with gasoline costs and oil. It’s kind of a toxic mix because if you have oil at 125 Brent, there’s an incentive that you want to pump and the people expect you to pump and buy them food. And if you can’t pump and buy food, then you’re basically an illegitimate government in North Africa.
TN: Right. Which is just trembling all around. Okay, let’s move on to energy prices and gasoline and petrol prices. Of course, we just hit this week again, I think three or four times this week we hit record prices for gasoline. And of course, that’s happening all around the world.
I think in the UK it’s £2 a liter or something like that. In the US, it broke $5 a gallon on average. I think 5.01 this morning, Patrick Dejan was saying that. Tracy, can you walk us through? We’ve mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but in a bit more detail about what’s happening with refining capacity in the US and why this is such a big deal?
TS: Right. The last largest Greenfield project that we had was 1977. We’ve had a lot of brownfield projects, meaning adding to capacity to already existing refining facilities. However, right now we sort of peaked in 2018 and 19 as far as refining capacity is. And now we’re starting to come down again because we’re starting to see more closures, we’re seeing more unplanned outages.
These facilities are very old. So the operable capacity has been on the decline for the last few years. And if you look at Europe and Europe, it’s even worse. Right. So, I mean, Europe already has a problem, too, and that’s why they buy most of their diesel from Russia, which is going to affect them, because the diesel that they buy from them is seaborne. Right. All of it, which it falls under sanctions.
TN: And they can’t get insurance for those vessels.
TS: Yeah. And so they’re going to have a lot of problem. just to put a little tangible example, there’s a news here in Houston this week that I think it’s a Lyondell refinery that’s being closed, and that refinery is over 100 years old. Yes, our refineries are old. They’re aging facilities. They need a lot of maintenance. And we just really haven’t built out enough capacity for the amount that is coming offline over the last few years.
TN: So, Tracy, I know this is a little bit of a request, but we’re sending $40 billion to countries around the world to do different things. Would it not make sense to have some sort of government incentive for midstream companies to actually build refineries?
TS: Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean, infrastructure projects as far as the oil industry is concerned. If you look at the government’s complaining about oil companies are making so much money. However, where were they when they were in the red and racking up the debt? They were nowhere. How many times do we bail out the Airlines and the auto industry? The oil industry never got any help.
TN: Because they’re bad, tracy, oil companies are bad. They’re all my neighbors. But you would think they’re all bad, evil people.
TS: This is causing… Where our refinery operable at capacity? We’re at 94.2% refining right now, which is off the charts. Good. That means good news for your refining stocks if you own any. But we’re pushing it. We’re using it as much as we’re producing. Right.
TN: Let’s say somehow people came to their senses and said, look, we need to incentivize new refineries. How much just off the top of your head? Ten, $20 billion. Is it $100 billion? Just to get things started? How much do you think that would cost? Since we’re throwing money around.
TS: Since we’re throwing money around, I think if you could throw 10 billion, 20 billion at it, you could get some good projects going or tax incentives or something like that for current refineries to be able to build out or upgrade things of that nature. There’s a lot of things the government could do to help boost refining capacity.
TN: Okay. So while we’re throwing money around, would it make sense to reconfigure some of those refineries to refine light sweet Texas crude instead of, say, I don’t know, Venezuelan crude?
SR: Yes, it’s pretty simple. We built the right type of refining for a certain point, but we didn’t build the right type of refining for now. Yes, we would need to upgrade all of them, and it’s going to be a pretty significant issue.
The other really important thing that I think gets overlooked a lot is that even if you begin these projects now. It’s not a solution for several more years. By several more years, three to four at a minimum, kind of where you would expect these to begin to come online.
And the question is, what does the oil market look like at that point? What kind of mix do we have? So you have to make some fairly large assumptions about what your input mix is going to be down the road. So, yeah, I do think that it would be worthwhile to at least upgrade the current refineries, but I think that’s kind of a pipe dream.
TN: Okay. So while we’re throwing $40 billion overseas, we could take half of that and build new refineries and reconfigure refineries with American crude oil. Am I misunderstanding this?
TN: I just want to hammer the point home again. Okay, great. Thank you, guys. We had a really choppy week. We had a lot of kind of bad news come out. What are we looking forward to next week? Is it kind of more the same? Are we still in a really rough place and the Fed meetings this week, some announcements. I don’t think it’s going to surprise anybody, but what else are you looking for this week?
TS: Pretty much the same. I think we’re kind of stuck in this market low for a while now. So I figure you still see chop, you probably see oil sideways to up again. I expect that trend to pretty much continue into the summer until we really start to see some demand destruction, which we’re just not seeing enough yet.
So I think headed into fall, we have a better chance of seeing oil prices come down because again, I think that we’re sort of going to have a travel hangover and everybody’s going to get home and they spend a bunch of money on their credit cards and the economy is not that great. So that’s what I’m looking at. And again, for the week ahead, I think more of the same.
SR: Yeah, you have a million meetings next week of central banks. I think that’s really what the markets are going to key off of. And it really depends who says the most dumb stuff. And it’s going to be a competition because you have Powell and then you have the Bank of Japan. So we’ll see if maybe you get a little bit of a bracket move on yield curve control that would make things a little more spicy across markets. And we’ll see what Powell is capable of messing up when it comes to forward guidance during the press conference.
So I would say it’s more the same, but there’s a likelihood that markets are about as hawkish as they can be going into the meeting and that Powell doesn’t want to push markets more. So there may be a little bit of a rally off Powell just not being an uberhawk, and that might be positive, but I would say you’re in for some serious chop, particularly across the rates markets, currency markets.
And when it comes to equity markets, I think it’s going to be exactly what Tracy and I talked about earlier. It’s going to be the story of travel over retail.
TN: Okay? So next week, let’s talk about who said the stupidest central bank statement. Okay?
TN: You got it.
SR: Does that work?
TN: Very good. Okay. Thanks, guys. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend. And have a great weekend.
The Fed just announced the 50 basis point hike this week. Albert and Sam explain what this means for markets in the near term. Also, how badly does JPow need media training (he said “a normal economic person probably doesn’t have that much extra to spend”)?
We also discussed what’s happening with TLT? And then, what will the Fed do next? Why is everyone talking about a 75bp move?
Tracy explains what’s happening in natural gas and the crude oil markets. Why does energy seem range-bound?
What the F just happened? (F for Fed)
What the F is next? (F for Fed)
Why does energy seem range-bound?
This is the 17th 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. Welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Tracy Shuchart, Sam Rines and Albert Marco. We’re always joined by those guys. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to like and subscribe. Really appreciate it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It’s been a very interesting week, guys. We have a few key themes. First of all, what the F just happened F is for Fed. Then we’re looking at what the F is next. So that F also is for Fed. And then we really want to look at some energy stuff. Why does energy seem to be range bound? And I think that’ll be a really interesting discussion.
So Sam and Albert, kind of talk us through what the F just happened? We said this would be the most dovish 50 basis point move in the history of the Fed and it was. And here we are at the end of the week and things don’t look so good. So what happened?
AM: Well, was it a Dovish Fed? Not really. I mean it was pretty hawkish but it was already priced in. Everyone knows it was going to be 50 basis points and everyone knows they were going to talk about all these hawkish words. But then Powell comes out and throws in a little sprinkle of dovishness in there and then the market took off with it. I think it rallied at 3%? Crazy.
However, from what my guys told me, a lot of that was because traders were loading up on spy calls and ES futures and just gamma squeezed it. It was really easy. The market is kind of liquid right now. That actually agitated the Fed because they didn’t want this thing to rally and they came back and just torched everybody the next day. It was like 4% down? Just stunning. Absolutely stunning price action that we’re seeing right now.
It’s just not tradable. I mean you’re in this market and you’re swinging 100 points up and down each way every couple of hours. It’s just not tradable right now.
TS: Albert made a very good point. The thing is these swings that we’re seeing in energy and also in equities, these swings are untradable. Right. So that is very cognizant point that you have brought up.
SR: I mean the interesting thing to me with the whole thing was how quickly you went up, how quickly you went down to follow it up. Not just in ES and S&P, but the dollar got trounced following the Fed and finished flat basically to pre-Fed to finish up the week. You had the two-year absolutely plummet and make a little bit of a comeback. But it generally actually stayed lower following the Fed minutes. But these were huge moves across the board.
It didn’t matter what asset class you were trying to hide in, besides maybe energy. It didn’t matter where you were hiding it. You were just getting whipped. And there was very little tradability across the board in that period.
So it was pretty interesting also to hear several Fed speakers today. I think there were five or six of them come out and were generally hawkish across the board. I mean, you had one non-voter, Barkin, talking about putting 75 back on the table. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Powell just absolutely said no to 75. And then you have beneficials coming back with maybe I haven’t taken 75 off the table. I mean, not that Barkin matters, but he tried to put it back on the table. Their communications are a mess.
TN: The interesting part for me about Wednesday was Yellen came out first saying, “no, it’s all good. Nothing to see here. There’s going to be no recession. Fed is going to be able to manage it.” Everything else. To me, that was the real tell, right, that he was going to be fairly gentle. Of course, it was a 50 basis point hike, but it was a fairly gentle 50 basis point hike. And he was going to stave off the 75 basis point talk.
But then today we see these guys come out being fairly hawkish. So we’ll get into kind of what’s next in a couple of minutes. But I want to ask about a couple of things. Powell, he talks, man. He is not the Greenspan kind of mysterious guy. And his talking seems to get him in trouble.
So one of the things that he said on Wednesday that really caught me, which he said, I’m looking at my notes, he said “a normal economic person probably doesn’t have that much to spend” when he was talking about inflation, that much extra to spend. Sorry, but he actually let the words “normal economic person” pass his lips. And words like that, language like that makes American people feel like it’s the government, this gilded government employee who inflation doesn’t touch versus the American people. What’s wrong with those guys? Why are they using that language?
AM: In my opinion, they want to crush excess money and they’re doing just that. These wild swings in a week that’s meant to just erase money from the system. And Powell is an attorney. He’s not really an economic guy.
TN: An attorney should know words.
AM: Yeah, well, he doesn’t. He’s flustered. He’s flustered. There’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes that he’s flustered. And really, I don’t really even think that Jerome Powell is even in control of things. I think more align on to Auntie Yellen. I think she’s the mastermind behind this dollar rise. I know she is, in fact. I had discussions about it.
She’s the mastermind of pushing this thing past 110. She’s the mastermind of getting capital to force it back into the US equities. She’s the one doing all this.
AM: Powell might be fighting it, but I’ve talked about this many times. You have this disjointed policy between what the Fed wants to do and Powell and what Yellen is doing. So this is what I see is going on.
SR: And to your point. I think their communications generally are a nightmare. They’re not doing a phenomenal job of telling people anything. Right.
It was such a disastrous week. You had quarrels out early in the week talking about how because Biden hadn’t nominated Powell to come back to the Fed. That was one of the reasons why they were behind the curve. Sorry, Randy, but that’s a ridiculous statement. Everybody knew, the betting odds never really broke through 70 that Powell was going to be renominated. Let’s be honest. He was always going to be renominated.
AM: You bring up an interesting point, Sam, and kind of a signal is will Powell actually get confirmed and is Randy and those guys, because Randy deserve this, I believe.
AM: So are they trying to defend or trying to upstage Biden and possibly not getting Powell confirmed?
SR: Well, it’s interesting because you would think that Corals would want Powell confirmed because Powell he’s fairly conservative in mindset relative to some of the other people. That could be dominated.
TS: Middle ground, too, I would say.
SR: Yeah, a decent middle ground. And most likely after that, it’s going to be Brainard. Right. I don’t think Corals wants to mastermind getting Brainard in there.
AM: No, I’m saying that Corals are trying to get ahead of the game here, thinking that Powell might be ousted.
SR: Oh, yeah, maybe. I also think that there’s an awful lot of people once they get out of the Fed and they see that they’re part of the decision making that got us to the current inflationary environment and current problems. There’s a little bit of face save when it comes to, hey, look, we wouldn’t actually be here if they had done their job. It wasn’t really us. It was this lack of nomination.
So generally, then you get into the FOMC meeting, the after presser, call it the kerfuffles that he makes constantly during it. Then you get to the Fed speakers after it. The worst part about the FOMC meeting is not the FOMC meeting. It’s just the blackout ends. Let’s be honest. Then we have to listen to them for another three weeks before the blackout comes.
TN: Normal economic people do stuff.
SR: Yeah. Like buy stuff and actually contribute to the economy instead of just blustering about 75 basis points.
TN: Right? Exactly. Okay. Before you get 75 basis points, Sam, can you walk us through what’s happening in the TLT market because it’s falling off a cliff a month ago. Is it like 140. Now, it’s like 118. So what’s happening there? Because I’m hearing a lot of chatter about that.
SR: Yeah. I mean, it’s the tracker for the 20-plus year US Treasury note. When yields rise, the thing is going to get trounced. Right? I mean, that’s pretty easy.
The easiest way to underperform the S&P this year has been to buy TLT. That’s just been that bad. I think it’s down 21% or 22% as of the close today. That’s a pretty devastating bond move right, for portfolios when bonds were supposed to be the safe asset. But generally it’s liquid. Right? You can buy and sell TLT all day long and you can short it. You can do some stuff.
So it’s a fairly easy way for particularly investment advisors and other smaller players that are running separately managed accounts to get in and out of fixed income exposure quickly and be able to move their portfolio duration pretty dramatically, pretty quickly. So it’s a trading tool.
And so when you need liquidity and you’re not going to sell individual bonds, that’s going to be generally fairly liquid and you get some pretty big spreads there. You’re not going to sell those bonds, you’re going to sell TLT instead.
TN: So are TLT markets telling us that they expect tightening to accelerate? Is that what’s being communicated to us?
SR: No, I would actually take the other side of that. And I think it kind of goes to Albert’s point last week is long end yields don’t rise if the markets are expecting a tighter, faster Fed. Right. That would be a recipe for disaster.
Recession being pulled in towards us, not pushed out. So the Fed is expected to do 50 basis point hikes instead of potentially 75. QT was a little bit, QT was basically what was thought even a little slower to phase in. Yields could be telling us a number of things, but one of them is not that the Fed is tightening faster.
AM: This is the problem. This is the problem. Right. This is something that nobody’s really talking about is the Fed is trying to create this narrative with long bond and whatnot that? We’re going to tighten. We’re going to tighten, we’re going to tighten. However, the market is still red hot. I mean, even the consumer credit today was outrageous. Did you see that?
SR: That was insane.
AM: I was talking to my client today and we’re looking at shorting retail and whatnot? And I said we cannot show retail. And he was why? I just walked into Gucci and it was a velvet rope with a line of 100 people trying to get in there. And none of them make more than $50,000 a year. Just buying stuff left and right. It’s like, well, the Fed is trying to say we’re tightening, but the market is red hot right now.
SR: I have no push back to that whatsoever. The consumer numbers today were stupid. 50 plus billion. That was a silly number. That was a silly, silly number.
TN: That’s a great segue to what the F is next. Right. What’s the Fed going to do next? Because if consumer credit is still expanding it’s really fast, how do they slow it down? Is 75 basis points are realistic? I know he said no. But then why do we keep hearing about it? Then why are all these geniuses saying 75?
SR: I haven’t seen a single genius.
TS: That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to come to fruition.
SR: Yeah, I mean it’s, James Bullard basically planting that seed. Yeah, one fed and then Barkin picked up on it and said I wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, it’s two people that if you still listen to Bullard and Barkin, I’m sorry, but you’re going to lose money.
TN: Bullard was great like ten years ago, right?
AM: Yeah, but they’re trying to sway less than intelligent traders to believe that it’s coming. Maybe sway some money that way.
TN: The only reason I’m saying it is because I want everyone watching to know that.
AM: They are lying to you. Okay? They are lying.
TN: So the expectation is that what the F is next is kind of staying disciplined. 50 basis points in the next meeting and maybe QT accelerates slightly. Is that kind of what we expect to happen next?
SR: Yeah, I would say 50 bps, but I don’t think you even have to accelerate QT. It’s very difficult to accelerate.
TS: This mark is going to scare them. And what is going to happen is they’re going to be another 50 for sure. But they’re going to be even more dovish than they were last time.
AM: I actually want to take a train. I think they’re going to do 50 bips for sure, without question. But I think they’re going to have to accelerate tightening just to scare the market a little bit, for God’s sake, because especially if they want to…
TS: Acceleration timeline, I mean, you could barely take a magnifying glass to it. Right. So you’re talking about almost $9 trillion going down to maybe 8.5. I mean, can you really see that?
AM: No, but they’re also going to be using the dollar. They might even take a dollar to 115 or 120. It breaks everything.
TS: Any QT that they have, it has the exact opposite effect. So they’re not stupid. They know that monetary policy that they’re doing right now may break the market, but they’re going to ensure that…
AM: Yeah, but they want to do QE later in the year.
TS: They want to be able to do it.
TN: I saw an interesting discussion on social media this week about what’s the worst central bank to be a part of right now. And I think it was easily the Hong Kong Monetary authority. Right.
With everything terrible happening in China, but they have to match what the US is doing. It’s just a very difficult place to be in. So I think even as we talk about what is the Fed going to do next, there are some central banks out there that are just in a terrible place. And raising the dollar at 110, 115, 120 would absolutely break some of these central banks and put in a very terrible position.
AM: Yeah, but Tony, the Chinese, they’re very pragmatic with that respect. They’re waiting to see what the Fed does and they’ll react. They are for sure going to stimulate their economy.
TS: They’ve already announced so much stimulus. It’s ridiculous. The market hasn’t particularly reacted at this point as far as the commodities sector is concerned. But literally they have so much if you look at what they have said, they have so much stimulus on the line as far as infrastructure. They do not want, they want, they’re determined to have their 5.5% GDP by the end of year ’22. Right.
TN: Yeah. Well, they’ll hit that no matter.
TS: What they are doing is they’ve already announced so much stimulus. Markets not looking at right now. Right. Or the North American market shows looking at it right now, I promise you.
AM: Yeah, but Tracy, also, you got to remember that the SEC started coming out with delisting threats all over the place. They added 80 more companies to the delisting threat. That’s actually toned down.
TS: I’m not saying I would invest in Chinese companies. What I’m saying is I would invest in commodities.
AM: I know. But when you say that the market hasn’t reacted, that’s a lot to do with it. These delisting things have really scared investors away from them.
TN: What China needs is dump truck and helicopter loads of cash on the boon like tomorrow. And I think to hit 5.5, they’re going to have to do that in every major town. They’re going to have to unleash dump truckloads of cash. The infrastructure they’ve announced is close to what they need to hit that. Sorry? And they have a share… t
TS: hey’re made up number. But in order to. Yes. Hit that, you’re completely correct.
TN: Yeah. They’ve got to do it and they’ll end up canceling unofficially. They’ll give dead jubilees, all that kind of stuff. Like they’ll do all of this unofficially. But it’s to let people reload so they can spend more money. They’ll do all of this stuff starting as soon as they rip the Band Aid off of the lockdown.
TS: That’s why we’re seeing a deval in the currency right now.
TN: Right, right. Which we talked about for months and months. And I’m so glad that it happened. Let’s move to energy, guys. And Tracy, we were talking about this a little bit earlier about energy being kind of range bound.
I’ve got Nat Gas and WTI on screen. We’ve seen Nat Gas really come down hard over the past couple of days. Can you tell us what’s going on there? Because it’s performed really well over the past month, except for that little period. So what’s going on with Nat Gas and what’s going on with WTI? Is it really range-bound?
TS: I mean, it is range bound. What we’re seeing is we’re saying although it’s a larger range, right, like we’re seeing $10-15 ranges in WTI. What we are seeing is that if you look at a daily or weekly chart, you’re seeing that range is coming down. Right.
TS: And that’s to be expected. One thing that the market did was that they increased margins. Thank you.
TS: They increased margins. That put a lot of retail traders out of the market. That said, if we look at the recent OI? OI has actually increased daily all this week. So it looks like and we can’t tell at this point whether it’s retail traders or institutional traders. But OI has increased this week in that sector across gasoline.
AM: Yes. Speaking of gasoline, I’m looking at diesel and gasoline crack. I think you’re looking at shortages coming in the summertime. Those things look to get explosive.
TS: You know, texted you two months ago and said, get long diesel.
TS: It lies in the EU. Right. And they are going to see shortages. This is going to affect their overall GDP. We’re going to see less transportation we’re going to see less manufacturing. We’re going to see because they can’t handle these prices. That said, if you’re an investor, you’re going to look at the refiners right now that are refining these because the crack spreads are increasing exponentially.
So if you want to invest in this sector, I think you would be looking at refiners right now that specifically are involved in distillates. Interesting.
TN: Great. Perfect. All right, great. So, guys, what are we looking at for the week ahead? What’s on your mind, Albert? Definitely not shorting retail.
AM: Definitely not shorting retail. I just can’t take that out for at least June. But honestly, the Roe versus weighed the political atmosphere right now and how that’s going to affect the congressional races, not so much the House, because the House is set for the GOP, but possibly the Senate. And why I bring that up is because now those economic bills going through Congress, they start getting affected. And investors started calling me to try to figure out what’s the makeup of Congress.
And I think that’s what I’m going to actually start paying attention to because the beginning of next year we’re going to need stimulus the way that this economy is going. So I’m taking a look at what the makeup of the committees are going to be, what possible stimulus packages will be materializing.
The auto sector, for God’s sake, it’s completely trashed. I think that’s on life support and definitely going to need some help. I’m actually looking for auto sector plays for the long term, 24 months out.
TN: Okay, Sam, what’s on your mind?
SR: I’ll be paying pretty close attention to where the dollar heads, particularly based on our earlier conversation on the Renminbi. And in the end, following the Fed this week and then listening to how other central banks begin to form a narrative around their next moves based on the Fed in particular, Latin America is going to be very interesting given some of the inflation pressures down there and the push and pull of someplace like Brazil, where commodities are both good and bad for an economy, or Argentina, good and bad for an economy, export a lot of food, but import a lot of energy, even though you have the black maritime, psychotic, that’s pretty poorly run.
Anyway, that to me is going to be one of the really interesting stories of the next couple of weeks, given the Fed. The Fed moving quickly, beginning to do some quantitative tightening.
Generally, that would be your number one method of affecting markets is through the dollar. So I just want to see what the dollar does and follow the dollar and not fight that tape.
TN: Yeah, very good. Tracy, what’s on your mind for next week?
TS: I’m going to be concentrating actually on the yuan at this strength. I want to see how much are they going to actually devalue their currency, because I think that’s the sign of how desperate they are to bolster the domestic economy. That’s where my main focus is right.
TN: Supposed Fed your eyes on China.
TS: But you have to realize what happens is that people don’t really talk about why does China devalue the currency? They devalue the currency so that exports become cheaper and more competitive. In turn, that makes imports more expensive. Why does that help the domestic economy? That means that people in China are not buying imports. They’d rather buy from domestic businesses which bolsters their economy.
So right now I think that’s one of the most important things to be looking at right now is to see how much are they going like, how desperate are they?
TN: That’s a great observation and something that I watch every day and I’ll tell you, they’re very desperate. I don’t mean to laugh at it. I feel really empathetic for the people in China but they’re very desperate. So I would watch for some moves that are I would say that tried to appear disciplined because they don’t want to look desperate. But in fact, they’re desperate to get their economy moving because of these lockdowns.
So I think the first sign of that would have to be starting to see a lifting of the lockdown like a legitimate lifting of the lockdowns and not moving into more towns like they did in Beijing over the past couple of weeks. But really legitimately taking these lockdowns off and free movement.
Looking at things like the port zone in Shanghai and how many people are allowed to work in those bonded warehouses, those sorts of things to get that port activity moving. As we look at those indicators, we’ll know how serious the Chinese government is about getting back to work. If they don’t do it, they’re not serious. And if they’re not serious, they’re going to have some real trouble.
I’m not a gloom and doom kind of China is going to have a coup or anything type of guy. But I do think that they’re going to have some real trouble. They want everyone to be happy and harmonious going into the national party meeting in November and there’s going to be some runway needed to get everybody happy. And by everybody being happy, I mean all of those CCP guys in Guangzhou and all the different provinces, they have to be happy coming into that Congress because if they’re not, then Xi Jinping has several problems. Serious problems.
Okay, guys? Hey, thanks very much. I really appreciate this. Have a great week ahead and have a great weekend. Thank you.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell just announced a 50 basis points hike in May. Tony Nash was called in to explain what will happen to markets when this happens.
CNA: Tony Nash joins us for chat now. He’s founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence. So, Tony, we’re getting Powell explicitly saying that a half-point hike is on the table for the May meeting. The Fed, as you said and pointed out during the break, getting really serious about aggressive tightening. How do you think markets are going to have to come to terms with it for the rest of the year?
TN: People say that it’s already priced into markets. It’s not really priced in until it happens. So there is an expectation that certainly May and June will be 50 basis point hikes. But we’re not really sure about July. But again, people will not necessarily price it fully until it happens. And we’ll see a pullback in equities when it happens, certainly in areas like tech. So we’re already seeing Netflix and other tech firms being punished because they’re an expansionary play, as you have say, rate rising and the balance sheet falling. Tech tends to fall as money is tighter.
CNA: Even if we see that half point rate hike each meeting from May, June, July, what’s it going to do to tamp down inflation, given how it is a supply side issue, not so much demand problem now.
TN: Right. What they’re trying to do is destroy demand. So in the early days of inflation, in 2021, it really was because of expansionary monetary policy and all the money that was dumped into economies as it went on. We saw supply chain issues get more complicated. And what we have now is really a supply driven inflation. You just can’t get enough out to markets. Really, the only thing the Fed can do is to try to kill demand and destroy demand. This is why they’re rising so fast, where people see things out of touch so they can’t borrow money to buy that house. They can’t borrow money to buy that car or whatever, because interest rates are rising too fast. That’s how they’ll destroy demand. That’s how they’ll create balance in the market where supply is constrained, particularly out of China. And demand right now is really too high for the supply that we have.
CNA: Okay. With regards to earnings news, you mentioned tech is in trouble, especially with the Netflix sell off. But we also see how Tesla and the Airlines seem to be posting upbeat guidance. How do you think the value lies for the rest of the year, as it’s very difficult now to find a company that hasn’t mentioned rising cost pressures or inflation in their guidance.
TN: Sure. Yeah. Rising costs are hitting everybody, right? And so what people will be looking for is those sectors that they believe can continue to gain value even as, say, consumption goes by the wayside, say, tech consumption, that sort of thing, or as say, the work from home thing, subside with Netflix, those sorts of plays. So continued value, even with rising costs. So who can pass costs on to their subscribers or their customers. So you’re looking at guys like consumer staples, you’re looking at finance. Those sorts of sectors will probably do well. We do expect China generally to do well once Shanghai and the other cities in China open. And once stimulus really starts, we believe that when stimulus in China starts, there will be a deluge of stimulus across China because they have to make things look good in time for that. Q four meeting.
CNA: Do you think that might change soon enough, though, because it looks like it’s unlikely to shift from a zero Covid policy. So we might see that stop start for later parts of the year?
TN: We might. I’m not thinking that they will. I think once they get through this, they’re realizing the pain that they’re causing their own economy, but they’re realizing also the pain that they’re causing the rest of the world. So I think they’ll get through this. They’re gradually open. And once they do open, they’ll likely stay open because the rest of the world is pretty much committed to Covid being endemic and China is really kind of slow to adopt it. Once they adopt it, then the world economy should be humming again, but it’s going to take some time to get back on track.
CNA: All eyes on the Asian giant, Tony, thank you for sharing your announcement with us, Tony Nash of complete intelligence.
In this week’s episode, we look at the CPI numbers from last week, the inflation cycle, and will the Fed stop QE on their Monday meeting? What do you have to expect on the metals market in the longer term? Will the demonstrations around the world push the US to bring out fiscal stimulus again — and can they? What does this mean to the Democrats on November US Election? And lastly, what you should know to thrive and survive this coming week?
This is the sixth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.
For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.
TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And we’re joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko. And today we’re joined by Sam Rines for the first time. Tracy Shuchart could not make it this week. She’ll be back next week.
So before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It obviously helps us with visibility and it gives you a reminder when a new episode is out. So if you don’t mind, please take care of that.
Now, a lot has happened this week. We saw CPI slightly higher than expected, which is what we talked about on the show last week. Consumer sentiment out on Friday, slightly lower than expected. And there were a few things that we said last week that will remind you of the ten-year cross, too. Nick pretty much nailed that. Crude went sideways. Tracy said that we would see a slight pull back in sideways move in crude. The S&P have a slight down bias, which is what we talked about. And the Dow had a slight upward bias, which is what we talked about. So good week all around. Thank you guys for being so on the spot for that.
Let’s start with CPI. And Sam, since you’re the new guy, it’s surprised high. So what really jumped out for you and what do you expect to see with CPI prints going forward?
SR: Basically, the entire print jumped out to me. I don’t think there was a single thing that was actually positive on the inflation front. There was no positive news that we could extrapolate from there. Whether you’re looking at the actual headline number, the core number, three month annualized accelerating, et cetera, it was a pure CPI hot. It was just hot. Cupcakes and cakes were the worst news in there. Both of those up. I think it was like 2.2%. 2.3% on a month over month basis. The only thing that was a little bit lower, that kind of offset, that was ice cream. So dessert got more expensive for most of us.
I think generally the way to look at CPI right now is we were supposed to have this really interesting hand off from goods to services. And what we really had was no hand off from goods and services begin to start running. You had people begin to go outside of their homes, but they’re also working at home. So you need more stuff. If you have an office and you work from home, you need two computers, you need two microphones, you need two cameras.
That’s really what we’re beginning to see is the confluence of the end of COVID restrictions, but not really the end of COVID all at the same time. That’s a big problem.
TN: So the durable good cycle is we’re late in that cycle, right. So it’s not as if we’re redoing our homes anymore. Most of that stuff is gone. It’s more consumption, right?
SR: Yeah, it is consumption to a certain degree. But also you haven’t really seen a slowdown in people buying homes. When people buy homes, when people build homes, they need to put stuff inside of them. They need couches.
TN: That’s fair.
SR: So I would say we’re probably not at the end-end of the durable good cycle, we might be in the fifth or 6th inning. Okay. But millennials still on homes, right? Millennials figured out that when you can’t go to a really cool restaurant in New York City, it’s not really worth living in 1000 square foot apartment or smaller with a kid. Right. They’ve decided that they really want to go make a household somewhere, buy a house.
So I think we’re more call it mid innings of durable good cycle. And on the services front, we’re just beginning to see the re emergence there. You’re just beginning to see housing costs, housing and rent, et cetera.
TN: Okay, so this inflation cycle is something that Nick and Albert have been talking about for over a year. You started talking about this in August of ’20 or something like that?
AM: Yeah, something like that. I mean, it was evident that the supply chain stresses is going to cause inflation. When the demand starts to tick up and there’s no inventory, of course, it was inevitable at that point.
TN: So when does it end? Obviously, this isn’t kind of the transitory inflation we’ve been told, and that’s been said many times. But do you see this continuing through, let’s say all things equal. There’s no rises from the Fed, nothing else. How long does this go before it works itself out? Nick?
NG: I’m sorry, Albert, do you want to?
AM: No. From my perspective, wage inflation is a problem. So until that gets sorted out, inflation is going to be sticky.
NG: Yeah. With Atlanta Fed wage price level, it was 5% I think it was, came out for the first time in 20 years. Actually, I’m going to be slightly contrarian. I think we’re at that peak. Whether we can go up, we can still go up a bit more, but I think there’s a peak. The trouble that people have got to get their minds around is if we’re peaking, it could take several months. Where do we come down to? And my suspicion is we come down to a level that’s still significantly above the 2% Fed targets.
The other thing that I think is really important, you’ve got the conventional wisdom. Feds behind the curve, Feds behind the curve. And now all these forecasts from the street have sort of come like this. Goldman have now joined Bank of America on seven.
The key thing to understand in a zero rates environment, they introduced forward guidance, and that was their technique to try to suppress volatility in the market. Well, now that things have shifted around so rapidly and we’re moving to a rate hiking cycle, they’re actually not going to be suppressing volatility. By definition, they can’t you hear this in Europe as well? Data dependency. We’re dependent on the data. Well, they’re dependent on the data in Europe because their forecast is so terrible. Haven’t been much better in the US either. Right.
So you’re going to have much more volatility. So what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, which if you traded, if you ran money through 2008, it’s sort of nothing. But what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, get used to it. And I suspect going back to what we mention last week and I even put it on a tweet. Newton’s law of gravity is going to start to impose itself on those stocks without the high dividends, those stocks that don’t have the earnings, those stocks that are over owned.
I know we’ve got witching out next week or OpEx not clear whether the market is long or short delta. Just not clear to me because actually a couple of days ago, Goldman came out with a chart that showed that short interest on the S&P is really low. So if that’s the case, and I maintain that we’ve got a lot of trap longs still there, this volatility is going to get worse.
I mean, you’re getting volatility in the treasury market. And remember, the treasury market, by definition, is zero rates, low rates environment, is long convexity. So the price moves to a couple of basis points are way bigger than they were back in the days when you had a decent coupon, back in those good old days where retirees would earn some money on their bank deposits.
NG: So they’re not suppressing volatility anymore. Volatility cannot be suppressed, even if they sell VIX. We’re talking about broad systemic volatility. Is it a risk? Could be. But that’s gone. Those days have gone. Forward guidance. They’re not even going to forward guide. Powell’s last press conference. I’m going to be humble. I can’t give you whether it’s a 50 or a 25. He never said anything. No. When he was asked aggressive questions. So it’s sort of interesting.
TN: That is very interesting. I think not worried about volatility is a very interesting point, even if they just dial it down a little bit. It’s a very interesting point to me.
So let’s move in that direction, Nick. There was a lot of Fed speculation this week, obviously more intensive than even last week. Inter-meeting hike, 50 basis point hike, 25 basis point hike, all this other stuff. So what are you thinking about that and QT? I also want to get kind of your and Albert’s view and Sam, of course, on this thing going around on Thursday about an emergency meeting on Monday. So let’s talk about all of that stuff with Fed and central banks.
NG: I just don’t think this Fed has it in them to do something shocking. So the first order of business, if they were to do anything intermeeting, is stop QE. That’s absolutely absurd that that’s still going on. Right. So you stop the QE.
Remember, this is a Fed that’s built on… Most of these members are built on the gradualist approach of the Fed. They’ve been suppressing volatility. They don’t want to shock anybody. So I think there is a valid discussion to have between 25 basis points and 50. It’s a discussion they need to have and they need time to think about it.
Interesting Bollard came out as hawkish, given he used to be a Dove and we’d forecasted actually everything he said. We got a little experience of deja vu, but I’m suspicious of this intermeeting situation. The only thing I can think of really would be stopping QE. That’s where their first… If you watch the Main Street media, that was their first part of call with the “experts”, and they’re still doing QE, which is why they’re still doing QE. I think they need a proper… Right now, given it’s a new hike, first hike in the whole process, they need to have a proper meeting.
TN: So you think there’s a greater than zero possibility that they’ll stop QE on Monday? I’m not saying you’re saying it will, but you’re saying it’s greater than zero.
NG: That would make sense to me, but it would be a bit dramatic given all the huff and puff that’s been in the since last night about this secret meeting, which is also right. I would be surprised if they do an intermeeting.
I’m still trying to figure out whether they’re biased towards 25 and 50. Remember, the market is giving them 50, but when is the last time the Fed taken what the market is giving it?
TN: Albert, what do you think about Monday, the speculation about the meeting on Monday?
AM: Well, yeah, everyone’s talking about this meeting that popped up all of a sudden, and some people are starting to dismiss it’s procedural and whatnot. But realistically, they got together over the weekend to discuss what’s really happening. The last time they did something like that was pre-COVID in 2020.
Right now, the Fed and actually the Biden administration together are looking at problems with the Russian invasion of Ukraine looming, trucker rally, actually in the United States and France and Australia that are looming. I mean, any more supply chain shocks is systemic problems of the economy. And I think they have to address it one way or another.
Whether it’s a 50 basis point hike in Monday or March or something, you’re going to have to do something against inflation.
TN: So you think it’s possible that they can take some action on Monday? You don’t think this is just a procedural meeting?
AM: I don’t think it’s a procedural meeting whatsoever. I think something’s wrong with the system and they’re working to address it.
TN: So if you had to say they’re going to stop QE or they’re going to announce a rise, which is more likely on Monday.
AM: I think they’re going to announce a rise. Well, to think about it, they’ll probably stop QE before they actually do a rate hike. I think the rate hike will definitely come in March.
NG: That’s the sequence.
SR: And just to add something there, I think it’s really important to remember that effective Fed funds right now is eight basis points, right? Eight to nine basis points. It bounces around a little bit but we hike in ranges now, right? So we’re going to hike from zero to 25 to 25 to 50 or 50 to 75 and they don’t have to put it at the midpoint right? So going to ranges, so to speak, is not the only way to look hawkish.
If you raise one range of 25 to 50 and set it at 40, 45 towards the top end of the range, you can do one “rate hike”, but be pretty hawkish within that range, you can show your intention pretty quickly there which would match pretty closely to what the market expectations are when you kind of extrapolate down to actual basis points what the market is giving the Fed. So I think it’s really important to pay attention to not just where the range ends up, but where they decide Fed funds goes within that range.
TN: It could be incremental. They could be a Chinese central banks type of like 37 basis points or it’s 38 basis points or something?
SR: Exactly. Exactly. And I think that’s going to be the kind of “the shock” and all that they can use. They can have call it a very hawkish one hike. They don’t need to do two hikes to be overly hawkish.
TN: So what do you think, Sam, on Monday? Do you think it’s a procedural or do you think it’s possible that there could be some sort of policy change?
SR: I think it’s procedural.
TN: Okay. Interesting. It would be interesting to come back in a week and see what’s happened with that. I like the differences there. Sorry. What’s that?
NG: You get the coin out and heads at something.
TN: Right? Exactly.
NG: One thing it can be, it can be a hike without stopping the QE.
TN: Right. Okay. That’s a good point. So speaking of inflation, before we get onto the truckers and other stuff, Nick, you guys put out a piece last week about the metals market. And I’m really curious. It looks like there’s a view that there’s longer term rises in metals, industrial metals especially. Can you give us a little bit of color on that and help us what to expect in metal markets?
NG: Sure. It was a longer term view. It’s not really a short term trading view. The view is, I have the thesis that some of the greatest trades attached to some of the biggest traders in time have arisen because of policy mistake. Whether the policy is benefiting or whether the policy was just maligned. And right now we’re in this net zero push, which is the new neurosis and there’s no transition plan.
So the first thing, if we were to look to commodities right now, where is it? The most obvious place that it’s hit? European energy. Right. The German is getting rid of nuclear. It’s just a complete nano mess. But it’s actually in the metals market where over the next couple of years it’s going to be really keenly felt.
There’s been a lack of capex like energy. There’s been a lack of capex in metals. They learned what lessons? We don’t know. Lessons from 2011 when prices were very elevated. And with that lack of capex and they’re paying high dividends, they’re rewarding shareholders, means the supply cannot be flexible enough, elastic enough on the upside to meet all this huge demand.
So we put the blocks together. China. China, give or take, is still there as a big user and consumer of the metal. Now you add on the rest of the world, plus China, additional China on net zero products. EV cars, right. All the wind farms, solar panels. All this stuff needs metal. Some of it needs fossil fuels as well.
And I got triggered a couple of weeks ago. There was a report in France that said in the next two years, the available supply of copper, not new finds, or not new mines. The available supply right now would have been used up. Yes or no. But the point is that’s the direction. Nickel, even more so. And then you think about nickel and the geopolitics of Russia having a huge nickel company. What we’re about to go through, potentially with sanctions?
All this geopolitics grinds against the need for these metals in terms of net zero. So basically you’ve got those two forces against each other which squeezes everything up in terms of price. And from the point of view, we have no transition plan. So if there was none of that, we needed a transition plan anyway.
So our view, you can go through the metals. Aluminium has been making new multi year highs this week.
NG: Aluminum being the cheaper copper.
TN: Okay. Yeah. And I think as a medium, longer term plan, as a strategic placement, I think that’s very interesting.
Let’s move on to other components of uncertainties with what seems to me is a resurgence of populism with these trucker strikes and other kind of demonstrations.
Obviously, the Canadian trucker strike has stolen the headlines this week, but there are things happening across Europe, and they have been for a year. Australia has been happening for six months, something like that. Demonstrations. You see sporadic demonstrations in the US with talk about truckers striking at the Super Bowl or something like that. So what do you guys think about that? Is that a real risk, and is that a risk that will flow into markets?
AM: I think it absolutely is a risk. If you’re talking about adding more stress to the supply chain, of course it’s going to be a systemic risk. I won’t even put it past some foreign actors propelling it through social media campaigns to stress the United States, France and Australia.
AM: I certainly would if I was Russia or China. I would definitely do that.
TN: Okay. So what does that do if there is this kind of wave of populism that is pushing back against kind of COVID restrictions? Do you think that puts more stress on, say, the US government to get fiscal spending out there to kind of placate people?
AM: There’s no way we’re getting fiscal. The reasons that the Fed has been doing all the shenanigans behind the scenes is because there’s no fiscal that’s happening.
AM: Rumors are that they’re even buying oil futures.
TN: Okay. So it makes things complicated, right? I mean, if you can’t send fiscal out to the people, then it makes kind of populism even more complicated.
AM: Of course.
TN: And more acute. Right. So what does that say for November in the US? Does that mean that it’s going to be tougher than we had thought on Democrats?
AM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they sent out a memo to all the Democratic governors with all the warning flags. If you don’t lift off these COVID restrictions, we’re going to get massacred in November. So all of a sudden you saw this week like a dozen Democratic governors lift all the mask mandates.
TN: Okay. But do you agree if they had room for fiscal, it would solve some of these populist issues?
AM: That’s a tough question, Tony. I mean, possibly, but then the talk of new stimulus checks comes out and then the inflation probably gets worse. What are we doing?
TN: It’s a complex problem, which is why I’m asking the question.
NG: Didn’t Germans should make it pretty clear though, this week? They said I’ve been… Last year with the last fiscal. I said inflation. Inflation, inflation.
NG: Clear as you can be. But he’s a swing vote in the Senate. He just said we’re not getting inflation.
TN: Inflation tramps fiscal is what you’re all saying, is inflation tramps fiscal regardless of what happens with populist.
AM: Sorry, Sam. Let’s make a quick real quickly. Inflation is a nuclear football for politicians.
TN: Well, especially at 7.6%. Right. So fuel inflation of 40% year on year. I mean, this is crazy.
Okay, let’s move into what we expect for next week. What are you guys looking for next week?
SR: The flattening on the 210s curve will continue until the Fed breaks something and has to go the other way.
SR: I think that to me is the easy trade out there right now. It’s 210 flatten and done.
NG: Put a health warning on that.
NG: If the Fed wimp out, I even think 25 basis points and non hawkish statement. If they whimp out, that long end is going to get hit because the idea of a flattening curve.
Remember, the sequencing is wrong here. That curve flattens after they’ve well into hiking cycles because of the potential for a recession. 13 out of the last 14 hiking cycles have led to a recession. That’s why I curved bear flat. Okay. It’s already doing it.
But the point is it’s because they think it will be enough. If the Fed given the narrative now, don’t go ahead with this. And I’m still anxious about the Fed, even though Powell warned back when the QE three was being launched, you’re going to create a whole lot of problems. Ironically, he got all the problems.
I’m just still nervous about this Fed because.
TN: I think everybody is Nick. I think that’s why we’re seeing the volatility because no one’s getting a clear signal. And we saw some Fed governors out on Friday saying that 50 basis points is too much and putting 25 basis points into question.
So I’m not sure if there’s a consensus.
NG: Actually, there’s a great trade to be had. Great trade in some of the markets. You buy a struggle, you buy volatility effectively. Make it, usually pay up for premium, but you make it completely not dependent on direction.
TN: Is what you’re saying for the next several weeks.
NG: Because they’re not going to suppress volatility anymore. It’s reversed. So everything they do now is by definition going to be creating more volatility. We’ve been zero rates, forward guidance. Let’s just cruise.
And the balance sheet is pushing stocks up. The other thing you need to watch, by the way, is the level of reserves.
NG: Because I actually think if back in 19 there was that Reserve issue with the repo. I think that slightly could be problematic if something like that happens again.
TN: Okay, great. Good to know. So let’s go one by one. And what do you guys see say in equity markets next week? Is your bias for equity markets? Do you have a downside bias in equity markets? Sorry, Albert, go ahead.
AM: So I was just going to say next week, I think it’s going to be all about the Federal Reserve’s narrative building. It’s going to be a choppy session in equities all week. They’re preparing you, they’re sending out boulerd with ridiculous 100 point basis comments, and they’re just preparing you for a 50 basepoint rate hike.
AM: So that’s what I think is going to happen. So we’ll just be choppy on next week.
TN: Okay. Sam?
SR: I like SPX more than I like the Dow, and I like the queues less than I like the Dow.
TN: Amid the volatility, you believe in tech?
SR: No. Okay. I don’t like any of them. Okay. And I prefer the S&P to the Dow. And I prefer the Dow to the queues.
SR: Yes, exactly. And I don’t like any of them. But if you had a gun to my head and made me buy something, it would be SPX and shorting queues against it.
TN: So there’s a slight downside bias in markets next week, equity markets? Okay, Nick, same?
NG: Yes. I think, as I said, I like what I wrote. News is law of gravity. As these rates come up, it starts to put gravity on the equity market and gravity will bring it down.
NG: One provisor, though. If we get some, along the path that we’re going, we get some serious shake outs. I do think what could be interesting is some of these commodity related starts, because actually commodities do quite well during a hiking cycle. Okay. That again, fits with our thesis anyway.
AM: Of course, gold has been on a tear for the last four trading days.
NG: Confusing everybody, right?
AM: Yeah, of course.
TN: Sam, do you agree with that commodity during the hiking cycle?
SR: I think oil is great during a hiking cycle. If you look back over hiking cycles, oil tends to do pretty well. I actually like the long oil short gold trade.
TN: Okay. So you bring us into a good point. Oil was my last stopping point. So, Albert, Nick, do you guys sit in the same place with oil? You think in the short term, say next week oil is looking good, or you think it continues to trade sideways?
AM: I think it goes up. I know. Rumors are Fed buying oil futures. I think it’s going to go up to 110. Not next week, but over the next week.
TN: Even with the inflationary pressure? Even with, which is unbelievable for me to say that. Even with the dollar rising. It’s unbelievable for me to say this.
NG: Albert just made a great point. These commodities are all at new levels and really the dollar hasn’t collapsed yet.
NG: Can you imagine what would happen if the dollar sells off some of these commodities?
TN: Yeah, we’re going to have to wrap it up there. So thanks very much, guys. This has been great and have a great week ahead.
We’re dissecting Jerome Powell’s latest announcement — what does that mean to markets this coming week? Will we see Powell’s inner Volcker this year? What are we expecting to happen in the energy markets considering the geopolitical risks in Russia and Ukraine? Has the White House and Treasury told the Fed to fight inflation as its top priority?
This is the fourth 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, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It helps us with visibility, helps you get reminded of our new episode. So please do that.
While you’re thinking about it, this week was all about the Fed. Of course, we expected Monday and Tuesday to be choppy. We told you that on our last Week Ahead, which they were. We talked about it last week. We talked about the said meeting last week. And as Wednesday got closer, it appeared that Powell would be more bearish. And that seems to be exactly what we got.
So today we’d love to focus on a few things. Nick, let’s start with you. What were your main takeaways from the Fed?
NG: Okay, I’ve got three takeaways, most of which came after the Fed. Okay. The statement was sort of bland, almost appalling in terms of, it felt like it was leaving the risk markets to determine the Fed’s policy. And then, boy, Powell come out hawkish. He refused to give any direct answers but never denied any of the points and the questions such as how many rates, how many it takes?
So what was interesting is today, we had the first Fed Speaker, Neil Kashkari, the Uberdam for the FOMC.
TN: That’s right.
NG: And he basically came out and said whatever it takes, we’ve got to get inflation. I mean, shocking. Now where Powell got confirmed in his hawkishness came today with the ECI data. The base figure was slightly less than expected. But lift the bedsheets up and you are seeing major wage pressures.
If you look at some of the increases in wages and salaries, four and a half percent for all civilian workers, 5% for private sector workers, up from 4.2 and 4.6% respectively. If you go deeper, hospitality, health care, you’re looking at 7% and 8% increases.
TN: Nurses in many cases are making as much as doctors now in a number of cases.
NG: Exactly. So that basically confirmed Powell’s words of a rapid pace of wage grip. Okay. And I think that was a very key piece of data, which in fact, a Bongi like me would have been waiting for. Right now.
TN: We don’t see them bonds today, did we?
NG: What’s that?
TN: We didn’t see the action in bonds today, did we?
NG: They were down initially and then after the day, they rallied a bit. But I think that was more to do with reversing a very successful week of your well positioned. And what’s interesting, though, this came after that hawkish press conference. So typically what you have is the yoke of mutually reinforces the relationship with the Fed’s monetary policy. So simplistically, when an economy is strong and in danger of overheating, you are going to see the yield curve steeper. Long end, higher rates relative to the short end.
Now that then reflects that the rates have to rise, that’s the historical perspective. What was interesting this time was the curve was bare flat, and it was headed towards an inversion, the consensus. That’s a really bad signal of an approaching recession.
What it’s basically suggesting at that point, historically, the bond market tends to suggest Fed’s tighten too much. We’re going to get a recession. It needs to stop. Reassess, perhaps even cut. So what’s startling about this whole move is you got yield curve flat, bear flattening, coming so soon before the Fed has even started raising rates.
NG: So if you have a Swift move to inversion, it’s going to be slightly, somewhat harder for the Fed to carry out its hiking program over time. That tells me that you’re going to have it front loaded. It also suggests to me, which is what you got from Powell’s press conference, it may not be 25 basis points each hike. It may be 350s. Right. Especially with this inflation.
He was all about inflation risks to the upside and a very strong labor market.
TN: 350 basis point hikes. I just want to make sure we make sure that we know what you said.
NG: Yes. Basically the Yoker is suggesting that. But some of his comments were this is a labor market that’s rocketing. This is inflation that still has risk. The upside. We saw a bit of that today. He also said supply chains are not going to get resolved this year. We’re going to have to wait till next year.
TN: Okay. Let’s stop there, because I want to ask you something, and this may be an overly simplistic way of asking the question and Albert and Tracy jump in here.
But it seems to me that kind of what he’s saying indirectly is, hey, there are supply side inflation, okay. And we as the Fed can’t control the supply side, we can only control the demand side to some extent. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to put a stopper on demand so that demand can come down to match up with the available supply. And that’s how we’re going to we don’t have the tools to put the kibosh on the supply side inflation. So we’re going to bring the demand down.
First of all, does that seem to be what he’s saying?
NG: I think that’s probably what he’s trying to say. I would add one other point. So we were all thinking that after the big rise in crude oil and energy prices last year, we would get some beneficial payback by the comparison, but we’re not oil still going up, so we’re not getting that.
And the most extreme version is, for example, Europe. These have all got to feed through from wholesale to retail.
NG: I think it was 95% of surveyed American CEOs. I can’t remember the sort of survey, but I can dig it out. Are expecting to raise prices.
AM: Yeah. The problem with them trying to limit demand, though, is it’s going to start affecting jobs. Labor market’s certainly going to weaken if demand starts to fall off. Because wage inflation is going nowhere. I’ll tell you that right now. Wage inflation is here to stay politically is absolutely just not going to ever come back down. So that’s going to be sticky for quite a while.
NG: But I think Powell was implying that where he basically said the labor market is super strong. So I don’t disagree with it will dampen it. The question is whether it turns around.
Remember, we’re getting all these people retiring and dropping out. Yes, that was your data, Albert.
TS: He kept reiterating the labor market is super strong. But the labor market really, if you look under the hood of it, it’s not really super strong. We all know that.
TN: That’s true.
NG: Yeah. Agreed. But it’s perceptions. Remember, these guys are basing their work off their forecasts. One of their forecasts have ever been right. Okay. Even worse in Europe. So the point I’m making is they have their parameters. They have the data that they look at and monitor and whether we agree with that data or not. And I mean, I would always disagree with the way the Fed measures, the BLS measures CPI, but it was impacted by Arthur Burns of the Fed in 1970s. Right.
So the point to be made is they have their data sets that they watch, and according to those data sets, they may be wrong. I don’t disagree.
TN: So just yes or no, because you’re implying some things that two weeks ago we talked about or last week we talked about, yes or no. Will we see J. Powell’s innver Volcker this year?
TN: We will?
NG: In the short term.
TN: Albert, what do you think? Yes or no? Will we see J. Powell’s inner Volcker?
NG: Mini Volcker.
AM: Mini Volcker, I agree with. One and done Volcker, a one week Volcker, yes, I agree with.
NG: If he does the one and done, the bond market will riot. If you look at the Fed meeting. But look at the statement. That statement said, basically risk assets will determine the level of Fed funds, right?
NG: Bond market’s sold off. Hold on. The bond market’s sold off, aggressively. Sold off all across the curve and particularly the long end. It didn’t start to flatten in a bare manner until that press conference.
TN: Sorry, guys, let me stop you both just for a second. Tracy, will J. Powell show his inner mini Volcker this year?
TS: I said this last week. I’m in the one and done camp, maybe two, but I’m cutting it out there. I know Bank of America came out today and said seven. They said the “seven” yes, today, which I think I don’t know what they’re smoking exactly. But I’ll go with max two on this one, even though I said one and done. I’ll stretch that out.
Maybe one more, but that’s where I stand on that one.
TN: Okay. So while we’re with you, Tracy, can you give us a quick view on what did markets get right and wrong this week from your perspective? What do you think is a little bit out of whack?
TS: Well, I mean, I think energy markets obviously remain elevated because of the Russia-Ukraine risk, right? Because Russia’s 10 million barrels per day, they produce a lot of gas. That’s here with us to say we have a northeastern so that kept a bid under at least the energy markets, right. I think last week we were talking about continued volatility all around in, say, the indices and obviously that trend is continued and probably likely will continue into next week.
Again, looking ahead to next week, I expect that probably we’ll still keep a bid under oil, but we did go kind of sideways this week. Even though we got new highs, I still think we’ll stay in that $82 to $87 range, probably for the next week or so, and then probably get a little bit. If nothing happens with Russian and Ukraine, we’ll get a little bit of pullback there. But still looking at the overall fundamentals of the market, they remain very strong. So I don’t think we’ll see any kind of material.
TN: Okay. This is on the commodity side. On the commodity side. Okay. What about the equity side?
TS: Well, it’s. Far as equities indices are concerned, I think that we’re again going to see continued volatility. What I think is very interesting. As long as the market is pricing in rate hikes, that’s going to put pressure on growth versus value. Right.
And so I think that trend will continue. I think we’re in for a rough note. Until that March meeting, until we actually hear an actual decision, we could be setting up for another volatile month in February.
TN: Okay. That’s fun. Right. Okay. So let’s take that and let’s swing over to geopolitics for a minute. And Albert, I want to ask you a couple of things about geopolitics. Tracy mentioned Kazakhstan, which we’ll get to in a minute. But has the White House told the Fed and treasury that inflation is a top priority? Is that what you’re hearing out of DC? Are they getting political pressure to make inflation their top priority?
AM: Oh, absolutely. Inflation is a nuclear bomb for politicians. I mean, gas prices rising, food prices rising. The job market is they can say it’s strong, but it’s not. I mean, realistically talking about 15%, 20% unemployment, so it’s not strong. So, yeah, inflation is absolutely priority number one for the next couple of months.
TN: Right. Okay. And then as we move into a little bit more on geopolitics, so we got a viewer question from at 77, Psycho Economics. He says, has Russia’s stabilization of Kazakhstan increased their influence over energy exports to Europe?
So give us a little bit of kind of overview of what you see happening in Kazakhstan. And then if you and Tracy can help us understand what’s happening with the energy exports to Europe, that would be really helpful.
AM: Yeah. Kazakhstan has been stuck between Russia and China for a couple of years now. But realistically, that’s Russia’s backyard. They control the area. Ever since the United States was booted out of Uzbekistan, they’ve lost a lot of sway in the region. So the energy sector from Kazakhstan all the way to Turkey and into the Mediterranean is pretty well dominated by the Russians right now.
TS: And I would agree with that. I would also like to mention just as an energy producer, I mean, Kazakhstan doesn’t produce all that much.
So if you’re looking at the commodity side, I would say Ukraine would have more of a dent because of how much they’re involved in the cereals markets. How much do they export in the cereals markets, how much they export in the uranium market. So that’s definitely more commodities heavy area that I would be concerned about then Kazakhstan, just from the energy standpoint.
AM: Yeah. And when you’re looking at Russia and talking about energy, it’s not necessarily you don’t single out just Russia’s energy production. They go out and they meddle everywhere they possibly can, whether it be Libya, Kazakhstan, Turkey, everywhere they can to sit there and depress those energy exports so they can pump out there. So that’s what I mean by Russian dominance in the sectors. Sure.
NG: Will Russia attack the Ukraine?
AM: You’re looking at maybe 1020 thousand conscripts that Russia probably hasn’t paid in a while to go and loot the countryside of Ukraine where it’s already Russian dominated speakers.
Biden comes out and talks about sacking Kiev as if it’s Hannibal on the gates of Rome. This is just absurdity. Russia has no military, nor does he want to go into Kiev and hold it. What’s the point of bombing the thing? Of course, they can go in and destroy Kia if they wanted to overnight, but that serves absolutely zero purpose. So are they going to invade? Yeah. I mean, I would give it a 60 70% chance, but would it be something some big kind of issue at. No, the market is looking at this issue as World War II. And it’s just nothing more than a little bit of a skirmish that’s kind of kinetic.
TN: But they’ve already invaded the economy. They’ve already invaded any investors who want to go into Ukraine, that nobody’s going to touch Ukraine for at least the next year. Right.
AM: Well, Tony, listen, I’ve been to that region, worked there for years in Georgia and Ukraine. I mean, Ukraine has corruption issues, of course, aside from the Russian problem. Right. They’ve got legal framework problems and corruption problems that it makes investing there quite difficult.
TN: Right. Okay, so you’re saying no, not going to happen. You’re saying maybe some looting in Eastern Ukraine.
AM: But they’ll reinvent the same areas that they did in 2014. They’ll make Biden and the west look inept, and that’s their goal. That’s it.
TN: Great. Okay. Sounds fun. As we look ahead, what milestones are you looking for? The week ahead, Nick, what are you expecting to see next week in markets?
NG: I’m fascinated to see the next bunch of Fed speakers come out. If we had the Uber Dove, very hawkish. That’s as hawkish as he’s ever spoken, Kashkari. I’m fascinated to see what the others are going to say.
What I can’t get a handle on is whether this is a genuine bear market inversion or flattening going on the bomb market. I still maintain the point that you’ve got to look at the market and watch what’s going on. Okay.
So I’ll be interested to see whether that continues. If it doesn’t continue, that tells me that it was actually a bit half partly people reversing bad positions on the Euro curve because really traditionally we should be having your curve deepening.
And then next week, well, we’ve got unemployment coming out on the Friday, so that’s going to be pretty fascinating. And then we’ll have the following week, all that inflation data starting to come through, and we won’t have the favorable comparisons from a year ago.
The banks have all jumped on like Tracy said, bank of America seven hikes. Goldman is four to five hikes. They are jumping on this. This did surprise the banking community, with maybe the exception of Goldman, who came out beforehand and said this is what I was thinking. So it’s a pull and push between what we’ve just been discussing. How many heights have we got a minivolk building up here in the Fed? If he’s got the support of the White House and treasury, then maybe we have. Right. I think he had to have that before he came out with that sort of speech.
So the question I mean, I looked at today’s equity market. To me that started off as a okay, let’s cover the shorts because we’ve had a good week and there’s no liquidity. So the market just carried on popping up be interesting to see what happens on Monday. And remember, we have holiday, new lunar year, holiday in the Far East. So the forest is shut, as it were, even less liquid.
TN: Right. So, Tracy, you’ve said for a long time that Yellen is a strong dollar Treasury Secretary. And so what Nick is saying about the Fed and the treasury and the White House being in sync, it seems to make sense if they’re tightening that that is certainly something that Yellen might want.
TS: Obviously, you’re going to see a strong dollar. The Feds raising rates, they’re taking liquidity out of the dollar market. Right. So in that environment, we are going to see a rising dollar. What we should be looking at, though, is emerging markets. Right that nobody’s really talking about. How does this affect emerging markets? Emerging market debt that’s denominated in USC as a dollar gets higher, that puts pressure on emerging markets, even though a lot of banks came out and said emerging markets should do better this year than DM markets, but in my opinion, not in an environment where we see a rising US dollar. So that’s something to look forward to.
TN: In the biggest emerging market. We saw the Euro really taken to the shorts this week. Right. So the Euro is really problematic and it’s probably the newest of the emerging markets, in my view. So they’ve got real problems. But yeah, I think watching emerging market currencies is something that we really need to do over the next probably month to see how dramatic will the shift that we saw this week, will that remain? Will that get even more dire? I think it will. Yeah.
And Albert, what are you watching for the next week?
AM: I have to reiterate what Tracy just said. Literally, it’s the US dollar in the first half of the week and then this bonds the second half of the week.
I think if the US dollar gets over 98, it’s a real problem for emerging markets.
AM: Especially the Europeans. You’re talking about the Euro. But the Europeans like the Euro suppressed right here because it’s boosting the manufacturing sector. So it’s like it’s a give and take with them. But yes, the dollar gets over 98. Start looking at problems.
TN: Well, and my big question is when will the CNT break? When will they finally say uncle and I’ve been saying for a while it’ll happen after lunar new year. They just can’t keep this up. And with an appreciated dollar, it becomes even harder for them to keep that CNY at six point 35 or whatever it is right now.
NG: Did we see a few little twitches of weakness today and yesterday?
TN: We did, yes.
AM: Just remember, Tony, October is a big meeting for the party in China and they are going to stimulate that economy sometime this year. It’s just a matter of when it starts and when you’re talking about the currency. Yeah. That’s going to be a problem that we have to tackle pretty quickly.
TN: Well, it’s monetary policy. Q one, Q two and it’s a lot of spending in Q two. Q three, right?
TN: They’re going to play with the currency in Q one. Q two and play with the triple R and all this other stuff in Q one, Q two. And then spending is going to rip starting in June.
AM: Oh, yeah. Full disclosure. I’m building big position in China names as we go here.
TS: And commodities will benefit from that as well. They start spending right. And you’re going to see commodities rip as well, which also hurts the inflation picture.
NG: I was going to say that will be a negative for the bond market.
TN: Okay, guys. On that note, thank you very much. It’s been great and have a great weekend. Thank you.