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Week Ahead

Crucial Insights: Productivity Problems, Fed Outlook, & Germany’s Industrial Downfall

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In this episode of the Week Ahead, Tony Nash is joined by Mike Green, Tracy Shuchart, and Sam Rines to discuss key themes including Productivity, Inflation & Secular Stagnation, Fed Outlook, and German Gas Issues.

Mike begins the discussion on Productivity, Inflation & Secular Stagnation by referring to his newsletter “ProcrastiNation” and explains the concept of Total Factor Productivity growing by constant amounts instead of constant rates, which may lead to secular stagnation. The team also reviews a chart from Natixis, which shows a bump in per capita productivity, followed by a sharp fall. The team discusses whether this productivity rise/fall is due to the boost of government spending and the blurry visibility of hours worked during the pandemic. The discussion also touches on how this impacts inflation and what measures could be taken to fight it.

Moving on to the Fed Outlook, Sam notes that the Fed isn’t letting up on inflation fighting and has been working on a delicate trajectory to achieve it. Sam talks about what he’s currently looking at and what’s changed since he first spotted this in Q2 of last year.

Tracy leads the discussion on German Gas Issues, highlighting that Natgas in Germany has been a significant topic since Russia invaded Ukraine. Tracy refers to a chart that shows how industry in Germany started curbing production during the first spike of TTF nat gas. The team also notes that capacity utilization has not come back at all, not just in Germany, but also in the Euro area as a whole.

Finally, the team discusses their expectations for the week ahead. Overall, the episode provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the key themes in the week ahead.

Key themes:
1. Productivity, Inflation & Secular Stagnation
2. Fed Outlook: What’s changed?
3. German Gas Issues

This is the 53rd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash, and today we’re joined by Mike Green, who is the chief strategist at Simplify Asset Management, and Tracy Shuchart from Hilltower Resource Advisors. And Sam Rines from Corbu. So we’re going to start off today getting a little bit nerdy. We’re going to talk about productivity, inflation and secular stagnation. There’s a great piece that Mike wrote a week ago and I want to dive into that a little bit. Next, we’re going to jump into the Fed outlook with Sam. He’s been very consistent with his view on the Fed for the past probably nine months. And so I want to really see what’s changed with the Fed outlook. And then we’re going to look at German natgas issues with Tracy and kind of how that story is evolving. So guys, thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to talk with us.


Thank you.


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So Mike, I want to talk about your newsletter, really stellar newsletter on productivity and inflation. You called it ProcrastiNation. For anybody who hasn’t signed up for Mike’s newsletter, I would definitely recommend it. Do you mind walking us through that kind of at a high level? And why is that important, particularly right now?


So this is going to be an interesting part of the discussion. I’m obviously interested in Sam’s take on it as well. And can you guys hear me clearly? I just realized I took off my headset. So as long as you can hear me clearly, we’re good. The dynamics of what is actually going on, are we experiencing a slowdown in productivity growth or is our model of productivity broken?

And therefore we’re effectively trying to push on a string to get all sorts of things fixed that may actually be we may be damaging them in the process of fixing them is really kind of the core point that I was making. And there’s this question about how do we measure productivity growth? How do we think about it? The traditional model of what’s called the Solo swan framework is that productivity growth is a compounding feature.

I able to produce 1000 this year. Next year I’m able to produce 10% more. So 1100 the year after that, 10% more twelve whatever it is, 1221, et cetera. We can continue that process as we go through an exponential series that grows in a manner and suggests that we should be experiencing something along those dynamics. That model is increasing. And what we have seen against that is a slowing of the rate of growth that we measure as productivity or as total factor productivity. Effectively, the inputs that we’re putting in are separated. Let’s ignore the inputs and we’re looking at how much more effectively we’re using those inputs in each period.

It’s generally thought of as the technology component. The evidence is growing that our models for how to measure this and how to think about this are flawed. In other words, it’s not a compounding feature in the sense of multiplicative. It’s actually an additive feature. In other words, if executed properly, we can see our wealth or our income levels grow by a fixed amount each year, right? So if we start at 1000, the next year we grow by 100. The year after that we grow by another hundred. Year after that we grow by another hundred, et cetera. And every once in a while, technological innovations emerge that combinatorially change that and can lead to a step function increase in that. So wealth can begin growing by a differential amount. If you measure those data series, one that is compounding exponentially, one that is compounding in what’s called an additive fashion, at least initially, they’re going to look very similar, right? So 1000 plus 100 plus 100 plus 100 looks an awful lot like 1000 times 1.1 times 1.1 times 1.1 for a certain number of periods. But they very rapidly begin to diverge. If the model that you’re trying to pursue is this multiplicative one right, and this is hyper nerdy, I understand all this, then it means you’re going to try to force all sorts of things through and more importantly, you’re going to actually start budgeting around that dynamic, right?

Well, we expect to be this much wealthier in the future, right? We’re going to see this dynamic. Anyone who’s gone through life, and we all have to do that. You’ve gotten your first job. Your very first job leads to raises that are very rapid as you demonstrate competence. And then you can kind of budget off of that. You can budget off of, okay, well, my income is going to grow at 10% a year. But you rapidly discover somewhere in your 30s that that starts to slow down, right. And you suddenly discover that things stagnate. Well, the whole point is that you’re supposed to live within your means and slowly accumulate savings till that you end up okay. But if you budgeted off the constant increases in income, you’re going to really struggle.

That’s effectively what we’re experiencing as a nation. We budgeted off the idea of nearly unlimited and trend growth. And now it actually appears that that model was wrong. And so the answer is, do we try to bang our heads and do more of the same or do we actually start to embrace that maybe a different model is operating this and what are the implications for that? The most important one is if we try to believe in a multiplicative model and the reality is an additive model, then things like inequality really begin to matter. Because if you have the upper income classes or the elites of society taking a higher share, eventually it means that the absolute numbers that are available for everybody else begin to fall. I think there’s a tremendous amount of evidence that’s what we’re seeing we’re seeing genuine dissatisfaction rising amongst the lower income communities. Or more accurately, if I really want to address it, it’s the center of the distribution that’s really being hammered to this framework. We’re more than happy to basically buy off the very low end. We’re more than happy to encourage the very high end and say, boy, you guys are really a gift to society.

It’s those in the middle that are increasingly getting hammered by this situation and by this philosophy.


Okay, so let me ask you a quick question on that. When you say a constant rate of growth or relatively constant rate of growth, you’re talking about a real rate of growth, not a nominal rate of growth, is that right?


So I just want to be very clear. We’re actually not talking about a rate. We’re actually talking about a quantity.




So instead of our income growing by 5% a year, you should think about our income growing by $500 or $1,000 a year. And that’s going to continue. Now, naturally that leads to slower rates of individual growth, exactly as I described for an individual.

I start off my career, I get a 10% raise off my $35,000 1st starting salary. Wow, that’s fantastic. I make $3,500 more. By the time I’m 50, I’m making $150,000. I don’t get a 10% raise, but I get a $5,000 raise. Should I be unhappy with that 5000 versus the 3500? No, the 5000 by definition is more, but it’s still a slower rate of growth.


Okay, so let me kind of try to take this a little bit more. I don’t know, I guess theoretical when we have more theoretical than me, let me try a hypothetical situation here. If we have an inflation rate 7%, okay, and that’s goods, that’s services and so on, and then we have a super core inflation rate that takes out energy and food and a lot of other things that supercore is really telling us the price of services, wages, if we really boil it down. Is that right, Sam? What is supercore telling us?


Supercore is sticky, right? And it’s sticky because wages tend to be sticky.




You don’t give to the point Michael made, you tend not to give somebody a $350 raise and then take that raise away. You leave them at that and then you slowly pick them up higher or you fire them.

There’s kind of two options. You either keep giving them pay raises or you get rid of them.


The problem with trying to cut pay, right, except under extraordinary circumstances, is it’s a signal to the employee that they’re less valuable.

Nobody wants to hear that and then show up at work the next day.


So if we’re not seeing productivity raise, say, multiplicatively or on a percentage basis, then when we see excess inflation like we do today, there really isn’t a way for people in the middle, as you say, the top end keeps what they have. The bottom end is subsidized, but there really isn’t a way for people in the middle to keep up. Is that what you’re saying? Since that super core is constant.


Correct. This is actually really kind of the key component that I would highlight, and it’s why inflation feels so bad to those in the center.

Again, at the low end, we subsidize it, we inflation adjust, and we say it’s going to rise at a rate. The inflation rate is 5%. We’re going to adjust Social Security by 5%. We’re going to adjust Snap by 5%. That person in the middle, though, can only if they’re subject to these rules, which, as I said, increasingly appear to be true. Their increment of productivity is not a percentage. Just imagine yourself on an assembly line. It is implausible that you are going to become 5% more productive every single year, your entire career. That’s just a simple reality. And I produce 10,000 tubes of toothpaste as a single worker today. As I go through my career, I get more productive, but I don’t get 5% more productive every single year. Otherwise I’d be producing basically all the toothpaste in the world as a single worker by the end of my career.

It’s not entirely true, but you understand the illustration. What is entirely plausible is, is that I’m able to produce 100 more tubes of toothpaste each year because I figure out new ways of doing it. That’s a decreasing rate of growth perfectly matched by the data series we have in terms of things like productivity over time in a career. My initial steps into my career, my productivity rises very rapidly. Later in my career, my productivity growth slows down even though my absolute productivity is higher.

When you have a rate like inflation, that’s hammering. That because it is a rate that is being reduced. It means that I’m experiencing a real loss of income and purchasing power. My productivity is less valuable. Under that framework, my living standards fall. It matches perfectly. If we had a rate based dynamic, we really wouldn’t care.

Theoretically, we could just say, well, inflation is a truly pass through experience, but it’s not.


Thank you.


Okay, great. So let’s take this a little bit to kind of productivity. I saw this chart this week from Natixis, which is a European research firm. They’re a great team of smart economists. And so I’ve got it up on the screen. It’s in your packet, Mike. Looking at per capita productivity, which is economic output divided by hours, worked as a basic rough formula for productivity, right. So we see a bump in productivity than a sharp fall. Is this a real productivity rise or fall? Is it more of a boost of government spending and blurry visibility on hours work during the pandemic? What does this mean and how does this fit within the kind of constant rates discussion that you’re observing?


Well, I would actually highlight that this is almost a perfect illustration of that type of phenomenon. It’s something that we’ve seen since the 1990s, which is the reality is that adding additional workers to the process doesn’t simply increase the output by the number of workers.

The production process is inherently limited in finance terms. Effectively, the beta of an additional worker is always going to be less than one.

So when I add new workers, I’m going to end up lowering my productivity. When I add hours to the day, I’m going to end up lowering productivity. When I remove them, I’m going to raise productivity if the system does not operate under this phenomenon in which each incremental worker or each incremental hour has the same contribution.

It’s a great description of what’s going on. And by and large, what we’ve seen in 22 is no tangible increase in outputs relative to an increase in the inputs, which is what you’re showing on. And it takes this dynamic.

Part of that, by the way, I do think is actually measurement. How do we properly measure how many hours somebody working from home is working?

Am I spending my time working? Am I spending my time running the vacuum cleaner? Am I spending my time experimenting with keto recipes?

You all know the answer for me on that last one. So that has been a consistent pattern. I’m not entirely sure I completely agree with the way that natixis frames it, although I do think that that is the direction that we’re headed in. The Fed is on this path that I think is fundamentally flawed, where they’re effectively saying, okay, let’s really raise the costs of increasing production. Let’s really raise the costs of holding incremental inventory. Let’s make it increasingly difficult for companies to finance themselves. And off the back of that, we should expect to see a dramatic increase in production and a fall in inflation. Makes zero sense to me. But they’re doing what they’re doing.


So they’re effectively trying to force productivity improvement, at least in theory, by making the cost of that worker higher.


What they’re attempting to do, that’s a way of thinking about it, right. They’re trying to force a reorganization of society so that it is, at its core, more productive. That would be great if human beings were widgets. But one of the most interesting things about what’s going on right now is that this recession looks radically different than prior recessions that we’ve had. Traditional recessions target the cyclical worker, the person on the assembly line, et cetera. We’re still recovering from the depths of the Cobin crisis. On the production front, we’re producing less than 15 million vehicles. On the automotive side, we still have shortages of houses, we still have homes that are currently under construction from the last boom, et cetera. We haven’t seen the impact of those falling off yet. This cycle is very different. We’re firing people that have college degrees for the first time almost in history, without a meaningful slowdown in the rest of the economy, we all experience this. There’s shortages of housekeepers and low end workers, people that are willing to change bedpans in an environment of COVID In a nursing home, you can’t find those people, right? But you can find plenty of college educated French medieval literature majors.

Now, what good are French medieval literature majors? I’m not entirely sure, but we stole those signals from the market a long time ago through our system of student loans. And now, of course, we’re dealing with the ramifications of it in the Silicon Valley environment, where Google basically was trying desperately to hire anybody to conceal their innate levels of profitability and avoid things like antitrust actions. They brought in all sorts of workers who are very marginal contributors, primarily contributing of various TikTok memes in terms of how their pictures are taken. But the workers being laid off at Google make $275,000 a year on average. Stop and think about that. That’s a lot of money. That’s a great job, right? You know what the unemployment benefit is in California? The maximum unemployment benefit? I’m guessing Sam knows this off the.


Top of his head, like $1,500 a month or something?


No, it’s $13,000 total. Okay, so somebody who gets fired from a $275,000 a year job is supposed to immediately go and file unemployment claims so they can generate a $13,000 benefit over 26 weeks. When, by the way, if they just wait a year, they could actually file in arrears and get it as a lump sum payment that would help to pay for a flight to Hawaii. A vacation in Hawaii. They don’t know how to do this. They don’t know how to tap into the market. They have no idea how those systems work. In contrast to the traditional cyclical employees, when they lose their jobs, have the number taped to their refrigerator.


So I had dinner with a technology recruiter last night. He told me that for tech jobs in New York, for every tech job that he sees, there are 3000 resumes. For every tech job. He said it’s terrible in New York. I can’t imagine. Silicon Valley is much different. But he said there’s so much slack in the tech workforce in New York. That they get 3000 applications for every job that’s posted. He said, Honestly, I can’t go through all of them. I go through about 800 of them. I can’t look at it anymore.


Your brain fries on that.

But now the flip side of that is, of course, what we’re supposedly receiving from the Fed surveys of job openings and labor turnover of the jolt surveys and suggest, wait a second, there’s two jobs available for every unemployed worker. How do we possibly get to the 3000 applicants for every job if there’s two jobs for every unemployed worker? It’s just the data is a mess.


It’s a mess.




Ba is not going to get that accurately. They’re working on a methodology that’s probably two decades old. I haven’t looked into it for a long time, but you guys would know more about that than I would. But I assume that their methodology is.


They took a terrible methodology and they made it much worse with the introduction of the birth death adjustments in 2012. So now they basically just assume that jobs are being created.


That’s good. Okay.


Yeah, I know. It’s great.


We have an economy based on assumptions, okay?


It’s why you just jump to the Indeed data and call it a day. That’s what I do.


You do what? I’m sorry.


I just look at the data. That’s the only one I use.


Even the Indeed data, though, you have to recognize the dynamics of share gain.


So you have to make some adjustment for the fact that increasingly people are finding their jobs on Indeed.


Exactly. Yeah, you do. But it’s at least a little bit better because it’s at least real jobs being posted.


And the response rates, by the way, to the jolts data is like, it’s just so bad at this point. It’s fallen from Sam again, sam probably knows the data better than I do, but I believe the response rates for the jolt going into the global financial crisis were north of 65%. Today it’s below 30.


Yeah, it’s gone down about 50%, give or take count.


So the response rate to the jolts data you mean the companies who are responding to the surveys for jolts data?


The companies that are responding to the surveys for jolts data has fallen by around 50%, among other things. That’s because the bls continues to rely and this is true for the household survey as well.

They continue to rely on things like landline surveys. You will not get a call from the bls on your cell phone. This is a legacy from the dynamics of cell phone calls used to cost the receiver, so you used to have to pay if somebody called you. Therefore, they would never call a cell phone because people would be like, hey, there’s a survey. They hang up. Now we don’t have anybody with landlines anymore.


So, Sam, does your company have a physical landline?


I have never had a landline in my life.


Tracy, does your company have a physical landline?


That would be no.


Mike, does your company have a physical landline?


We do not.


Neither does mine. So I know we’re probably outliers, but still, we’re in small, mid size companies, and none of our companies have a landline. So blsba would never survey us.


They would never survey us. And the methodology is that we are presumed to have the same behavior as those who answer their phones.




It’s just a mess. That is a technical term for what happens when you go through transitions and you have far too much dependence on accuracy of data.

We’ve tried to fine tune the system to the point that it’s not meaningful anymore, using that system to establish monetary policy of unprecedented levels of intervention.


Okay, so, Mike, let’s go to the conclusions of your newsletter. What does this mean for inflation? What does this mean for how you view our ability to fight it?


Well, again, I was saying this I say this over and over and over again. We’re a narrative based species. We have to explain everything. One of the narratives that we have deeply accepted is the idea that anything the government does is bad.

And so we basically have gotten to the point where our conclusion is, elon Musk is a more talented individual than Mike Green, therefore, he should pay less taxes, or certainly shouldn’t have to pay taxes on surplus through a higher progressive rate, et cetera. We want to keep the money with those who have demonstrated productivity. It’s not working. It’s the easiest way to put it.

What we actually know is that any one individual has a combination of luck and skill in their individual career. How that gets compensated, how that gets rewarded, is completely context dependent. If the world was back in the 19th century and we were reliant upon various forms of 18th century, we were reliant on various forms of physical strength, tracy’s role in the economy would be radically different today. Radically different than it is today.

Mine as well. Instead of being a giant forehead on a TV screen, I’d probably be slaving away in a coal mine somewhere. Our ability to raise individuals to that capability and to allow them to participate in the system is really what’s a question. And we’re just doing a terrible job of incorporating people into that system. We’re increasingly saying the only people that matter are the Elon Musk, peter thiels, sergey brin’s of the world, and we should want them to continue to bestow their capabilities upon us. Again, that’s part of the reason for highlighting the productivity dynamics. There’s no evidence that that’s actually true. So what we’re doing is we’re taking away from people who could be contributing to society at a lower level, but their aggregate contribution is like a bunch of ants.

I mean, each individual ant can bring something to the table. Even if they don’t get to be the queen, we’re disregarding them, saying that they don’t matter, reducing their role and their compensation in society, encouraging them not to participate. I think that sits at the core of the challenges that we face right now.


That’s a tough one, especially given where our infrastructure is today. Sam, what thoughts do you have on that?


I’m pretty much right there with it. I do think that there’s a significant amount of problems and it’s very problematic when the call it the lower quartile of the income spectrum and the middle in particular begins to see a real wage go negative and go negative in a meaningful way and they generally don’t see a way out of it. What’s also interesting is that we’re relying on cpi numbers. We talk about supercore, we talk about core services, ex shelter, et cetera, et cetera. But when the middle is actually looking at what their wages are going to, it’s predominantly the things we cut out, right? It’s shelter, oil and food that’s a significant portion of their income. So while it’s always entertaining and it’s always kind of a good thing to look at the underlying metrics on inflation, it is not the real world experience. The easiest way for me to feel good or bad in the morning. Well, not necessarily me because I’m in Texas. So the bigger the number on the gasoline board, the better off I am. But for the vast majority of Americans, that’s not true to me. There’s a significant longer term issue here when the consumption metrics are highly reliant on the bottom 50% and the bottom 50% is getting eaten away.


Yeah, sounds pretty dire. I hope it’s not really that dire. And Mike san Francisco Fed. I think you should go. Sam, Dallas Fed, I think you should be there and you guys should solve these problems.


I will tell you, I spent a significant amount of time last two weeks ago at the New York Fed and the answer is really quite straightforward. It is an orthodox institution that is extremely captured by the idea that the cost of money is ultimately the determinant of inflation and they’re not prepared to consider anything else. So the solution is the beating shall continue until morale improves.


Great. And I guess the real question to be a realist is how do you game that?




I mean, that’s the question for all of us and that’s why we talk about this every week, is how do you take that view and how do you game that to make the best of your income?


So the quick answer is that you do the best you possibly can to engage in the equivalent of Dumer prep. It’s not to stockpile canned food and pasta, it’s to basically remove yourself from a situation in which you are dependent upon the impact of the Federal Reserve. So the Fed is pursuing a model that is going to raise inflationary pressures that is going to lower economic activity. We’re all caught in the crossfire of that. That means that our incomes are going to be negatively affected in real terms. Our capacity to service debt is going to fall in the future. And therefore you want to reduce as much debt as you basically do the exact opposite of what we’ve been encouraged to do for the past 40 years. 40 years. You do everything in your power to reduce debt, reduce dependence on the system, and create put yourself into a situation in which you’re effectively benefiting from the higher interest rates. Meaning you’re holding cash.


Yeah. Very good.




Thanks, Mike. There’s a lot to think about there. And again, anybody who doesn’t get mike’s newsletter, I would encourage them to look for his substac and subscribe his. So thank you for that, Sam. Let’s look at the Fed outlook. Given the kind of doomer Fed close out that Mike just gave us, let’s look at the Fed outlook and look at what’s changed. So back in July of 2022, you presented in your newsletter, you said peak inflation and peak hawkishness dominate the narrative. Following the fomc meeting. This was the Fed meeting in, I think it was late June, early July. But it’s you said that the fmc has tunnel vision on inflation, and the end of the tunnel is not visible. So this was, you know, almost a year ago, nine months ago this past week, you said very similar, you said until price over volume and the consumer breaks, it is still 25s for life.

So you’ve presented a very hawkish outlook for the Fed over that period. Well, not very relatively. I’ll say hawkish. So as far as I know, I don’t know, you’re the only person who’s got it consistently right. And you’ve been pretty flawless.

So the Fed isn’t letting up on inflation, and they’ve been working a pretty delicate trajectory.




I mean, they really went hard on seventy five s, and then they pulled back to 25s. What are you looking at now? And what has changed since Q 222 since you spotted this last year?


Yeah. So not much has changed. We can start there. Okay, good. Not much has changed relative to what we were thinking, that we were well above where the street was at that point for the terminal rate. And we continue to see twenty five s and those 25s continuing for the foreseeable future.




And I do think that it’s highly dependent on two things. It’s highly dependent on where inflation actually comes in, and it’s highly dependent on where wages and the consumer end up. And when you look at the data and to michael’s point, looking at the data that’s being printed off, the inflation report, the employment report, et cetera, there’s a lot of noise in those systems. So instead of doing that, I basically just go through earnings reports constantly as they’re released and take it as. These management teams tend to have a pretty good idea of where they’re going to set price, where they’re going to set wages, and what their input costs are going to be. When you look at companies from pepsi to coca cola, nestle, hershey, all of their pricing is going up and they’re going up significantly.


What’s the magnitude on average?


810 percent, 12% on average. It’s low teens in terms of year over year pricing. pepsi said they were mostly done pushing price, but that means that they’re still pushing price to date. Texas roadhouse, of all places, said they were increasing their menu pricing 2.2% in March. They saw their commodity prices increasing for the year 5% and their wages going up 5%. So that’s kind of one little I call it a cog in the system.


It’s interesting you mentioned Texas roadhouse. So we had retail sales, restaurants went up 25% year on year, right. How does that stop? I just don’t understand. How does that rate of growth stop? What does it look like from your.


Perspective in terms of the year over year numbers? I mean, the year over year numbers were somewhat skewed because of omacon last year, right. So you had some audies in the data going in to the retail sales report on a year over year basis, but on a month over month basis, they were very, very strong. And one of the things that another one of the great points that Michael made a moment ago, it’s really interesting when you look at the dynamics of income to start 2023, social Security payments increased by 8.7. That’s 70 million people that just got in a nearly 9% raise in January.




So that money is hitting the system. That’s somewhere around $120,000,000,000, and the marginal propensity to consume on that is extraordinarily high. The average dollar coming in the door on Social Security is going to the bottom half the income spectrum and mostly skewed towards the lower half of that half. That tends to get spent, and it tends to get spent very quickly. So that’s high powered automobiles directly into the system. Well, it’s a lot of eating out at restaurants, right? It’s a lot of cracker Barrel. You look at cracker Barrels earnings, their wages, et cetera, walmart raising their wage, a lot of middle America, particularly at the bottom, is beginning to see some pretty significant pay raises. And those pay raises go straight into the economy. They don’t go into savings, they don’t go into 401k, they don’t go into the stock market. They go straight into spending. And they tend to spend on, well, gasoline, groceries, eating food out, and to a certain degree, shelter.




So these these numbers are more than likely not one off type deals, right? We’re more than likely going to continue to see significant surprises to the upside. I mean, there’s, there’s some I think it was Texas roadhouse as well that said that their January was up in the mid 20s on a year over year basis. This type of dynamic, and I think it’s really interesting following on from mike’s portion, it’s a really interesting dynamic because if you don’t have inflation crack, the Fed is going to continue with these 25s for the foreseeable future. And right now we’re sitting at a terminal rate that’s 5.25 to 55. And they’re going to continue pushing those further. If you continue to have these data points, and it’s really hard to see when the data points are going to crack, you can kind of moving away from the restaurant and retail for a moment. John deere is mid teens on pricing for the year. Those prices aren’t going down so that’s farmers are going to see their equipment become more expensive. You’re going to have food becoming more expensive when you eat out. You have food at grocery stores becoming more expensive.

To michael’s point, it’s probably not going to solve the problem by increasing interest rates immediately. And you haven’t seen a crack in construction because of the massive backlog, because we didn’t have lumber and we didn’t have piping and we didn’t have concrete, et cetera. You still have construction jobs, you still have oil field jobs, you still have all of the stuff in the middle of America, and you’ve had a few thousand people get laid off in tech.

And they all got six to twelve months giant packages to go find another job. So they’re not going to hit the jobless claims for at least six to twelve months from when they got laid off. They’re all sitting pretty, they’re all going on vacations, they’re all spending money. So again, it’s one of those where the economy still hasn’t cracked and the Fed is going further.


Yeah. I just want to be clear. I know we’ve talked about this before, but I want to make sure that my understanding is still correct. The Fed is not trying to get pricing levels back to 2019. No, we’re just trying to get them to stop rising.


Correct. Yes. Well, they would prefer to have disinflation. Right. They want to get back to a 2% run rate, but no, they’re not trying to get back. They’re not trying to go deflationary.


Trying can I just toss something into sam’s point picture of North American tractor sales?

The really critical point is that we’re talking about price increases, dramatic price increases in tractor sales, even as tractor sales themselves are, give or take, 40% below the levels from 2008.

This is insane. This is clearly market power that is going through. The tractor industry is basically divided into two players, deer and agco, neither one of which, both of which have signaled we’re no longer going to compete on price. We’re going to basically try to load everything up and produce at a minimum level. These are monopoly and you know what I mean? oligopolistic. I’m sorry. Pricing patterns where you produce well below the marginal demand because you’re effectively trying to maximize your margins.

So we’re seeing this over and over and over again. That’s why we have the ftc. That’s what we should be going after in terms of the behavior of individual companies. We should be penalizing them. We should be working to introduce new competition into these spaces, et cetera, and we just refuse to do it. We’re terrified that in the process of harming these individual national champions like deer, that somehow we’re going to create conditions under which we all collapse into the proverbial flames of hell.

The second component is that Sam hit on this dynamic of somebody who has Social Security just experienced a 9% raise. They actually experienced far more than that because remember that those who are collecting Social Security tend to be amongst the class of individuals who have accumulated a degree of savings that they had anticipated living off of for the rest of their lives. Suddenly, their checking accounts or bank accounts have gone from yielding or their money market funds have gone from yielding zero to yielding four and a half to 5%.

If I have $100,000, that’s $5,000 of incremental savings that I’m receiving. I have a million dollars. That’s $50,000 that I’m receiving. And by the way, my propensity to spend that is dramatically higher because it’s income, not principal. Now, I actually am much more comfortable spending that than I would have been spending $50,000 before.

So everything that we’re doing in, like, the last desperate act of the boomers to totally screw us all is basically handing money to old people at the expense of young people who are going to lose their jobs.


I think that’s worth repeating. And we’ve talked about that in a couple of other shows. Not that directly, but say that again. So the government is handing out money to old people at the expense of younger, more productive workers who are losing their jobs.


Correct. It’s just that straightforward.


Yeah. Okay, great. Okay, so, Sam there’s a lot to digest here, guys. It’s not pretty. It’s not a pretty episode. So, Sam, tell us about what does the Fed look like over the next three or four months? It’s 25, as far as you can see. But it’s that simple.


It’s that simple. And it’s that simple. It really you only have a couple more prints of data before of data that matters before the Fed meets and redesign plot. I mean, that’s it’s. It’s 25s for the next four for the next three meetings. Okay. Then there’s the possibility of a pause, but I would be short the possibility of a pause there simply because, to reiterate what Mike said, again, it’s a pretty orthodox place.




They’re going to continue raising rates until inflation breaks because that’s what they believe will occur.


But I think June by June will have had the base effect of crude being in $130 a barrel, right?


Core Services, Ex Shelter doesn’t have oil in it. They don’t care.


They don’t care about that. But that actually is a really critical point. And forget the year over year comparisons because nobody actually does that, right? Nobody sits down and does their budget and says, gosh, oil was $130 this time last year. Now it’s only $80. Therefore I have more money to spend. They experience it immediately when they go to the gas tank and they go to fill up their gas. Their gas tank. A year ago, they were filling it up for $100. Now they’re filling it up for $60, money that has gone back into the economy from the period of June and contributed to the perception of rebound. That, in turn, is now theoretically feeding the inflationary concerns. We see this in consumer sentiment surveys that are heavily dependent upon gasoline prices, like the Michigan survey, et cetera. The minute gasoline prices bottomed or peaked, they began to experience improvements in sentiment even as the underlying conditions have deteriorated.


Okay, tracy, I want to bring you in here because I always get complaints when you speak last. So tell me your thoughts on that in terms of oil consumption, as far.


As oil consumption in the United States.


And the impact on inflation, how do people experience that and what impact do you think that has on how the Fed acts?


Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with Mike. What it comes down to is what are the prices at the pump for the actual consumer, right? And that gives you extra, theoretically, or what’s envisioned is extra spending, right, extra spending money. Because you’re not paying $100 anymore, as he said, for that example, you’re paying $60. So now you have more excess cash to, I don’t know, go out to dinner. But that’s kind of like a theoretical situation. And the thing is that I think that when we are talking about gas prices and when we are talking, we really need to see longer term results for this. I think it’s premature to say we’re seeing excess spending in this area because gas prices are down this month because they fluctuate so much because gas has been very volatile since 2020. And so I think there needs to be a lot more long term data that is focused on this, which we’re probably not going to get from the government. But I think that would be beneficial into seeing how exactly does this over the long term reflect consumer spending habits.


Great. Okay, that’s hugely useful. Sam, back to you just to wrap this up. And you’ve had this concept of hawk grackledove, right? And for those who don’t understand, a hawk is obviously hawkish Fed. A gracklish fed. And Sam, correct me if I’m wrong, is one that kind of is talking out of both sides of its mouth, just making a lot of noise where they’re not entirely sure which direction they’re going to go. And then you have a dovish Fed, which is obviously dovish. Right. What data are you looking for or what behavior are you looking for? For the Fed to really swing kind of gracklish.


I do think the Fed is gracklish at the moment. The Fed went grackle when it went to 25 because that gives them wiggle room on both sides. It gives them the ability to both push the terminal rate higher, push terminal rate lower, much more data dependent. In terms of every you put in another 25 if you put up 400,000 jobs. If inflation comes in high, you put up another 25 basis point hike. If it comes in low, you take it out. That’s really what the Grackle is.


It’s when they talk a lot and don’t really give you any incremental information. Right. Last year, they were just pure hawk. It was every single time they open their mouth, they seem to just be hawk. Now it’s, well, maybe we wanted to go 50, but we went 25, but maybe we don’t have to go any further, which is what we’ve seen over the last week. Yeah, they’re grackles.


To reiterate this, and I think I said it here, I might not have the Grackle is the most annoying bird in the world. They are loud, they fly in groups, and they scream all the time. And at least in Texas, you can’t park your car under a tree for a long time. It’s just the worst thing ever. And it’s pretty easy to understand a Dubbish Fed. It’s pretty easy to understand a hawkish Fed. It’s very difficult to understand a Grackleish Fed. And that’s where I think we’re at right now.


Okay, great. So just more to come there. We’re waiting and seeing we’re going to see at least three more, then more to come. Yeah, that’s the story. Okay, thank you, guys. That’s great. Let’s move on to tracy, who everyone’s been waiting for, of course. And so, tracy, I’m responding to, we sent out a tweet asking for questions, and one of our regular viewers, Daniel Cook, said, how is industry in Germany coping with the nat gas situation today? So I want to bring in some of those questions pretty regularly.

And you sent me a couple of charts. The first one is on ttf netgas, so can you talk us through that and what’s happening in markets with ttf natgas?


All right, so I feel like this is a total switch from what we’ve been talking about.


Absolutely, it is.


We’re switching to Europe right now. Right. I hate to add to the non pretty situation, but this episode is going to continue with the non pretty situation.


That’s okay.


I think that there has been irreparable damage to industry, and not only Germany, but in the Euro area as a whole. I sent you that ptf chart because I wanted to point out that in fall of 2021 is when we had that very first spike, right? And that’s when we really started seeing industry having to pull that. That is in particular in smelters glass companies and chemical companies. I just want to run through very quickly kind of a timeline of the biggies that happened. And this will make more sense later. Why wouldn’t do this? But so in October of 2021, nystar, which is one of the largest zinc companies in the world, they cut zinc smelting production by 50% in three top European smelters. December of 2021 started the aluminum smelting horrible problem, which dunker K Industries in France. My French is terrible. So I know a million people will say that’s not how you pronounce it. But anyway, which is the largest aluminum smelter in France, curved output. Then you had followed by romanian aluminum producer alto slatina. They started a program of total closure due to high energy prices. By May of 2022, aluminum production flies more.

July of 2022, almost all of European smelting production is offline. September 2022, that starts the glass industry. So you have French glass maker derelict stops production entirely.


Sorry, let me stop you. So with the aluminum smelting so if it’s not being done in Europe, where is it being done?


Tell me. I was getting to that. Well, since you asked, ironically, it’s Russia. Of course it is, because ironically it’s Russian. What happened is that the EU actually sanctioned Russia aluminum imports in April of 2022. But there was a clause in that particular sanction agreement that said you can get an exemption of products from Russian origin to be imported if you can get a special permit.


Of course, europeans always circumvent their own sanctions.




So long and short of that is, within six months, EU imports, Russian aluminum surged over 70%. So that happened back to my timeline. So Bass, after cutting production throughout the entire year, in October of 22, they announced permanently they were downsizing their factory in Germany as far as production and labor is concerned. And then in November 2022, they announced their largest service treatment treatment site in China. So long and short of this is that when you look at these industries, right, you have to look at especially smilting and glass in particular, these blast furnaces. You just can’t turn them back on, right? They take months and months to get them the proper temperature again. And if you look at if you revisit that ttf graph, you can see there’s been no relief for these industries to be able to get back online. So you can assume that’s gone because now it’s been over a year, right? And so people have already I mean, even Europe has already sourced other people outside of Europe. So these industries are not coming back.


So can you talk us through capacity utilization and how the industry is not going back has impacted capacity utilization? Because the capacity utilization is a measure of the capacity that is still there, right? Not the capacity that’s online.


Right. What is still there. And so what we see in the graph that I sent you is Germany. But really, if you look at the Euro area as a whole, that graph looks exactly the same. And what we’re seeing is that even though Nat Gas prices has limited I can’t speak to that either. It’s limited over the last six months. We’re still seeing utilization down. These industries are not coming back.


In other words, where are they going?


They’re being outsourced everywhere else. In fact, Europe has a big problem with regulations and red tape, which has been a huge pitfall for companies. And so oh, you know, companies have been looking elsewhere, for example, China, the Us. Mexico, South America, and realize they’ve been dealing with this since the first spike in fall of 2021. And so they’ve had plenty of time. And now, I know the EU has been very vocal about the Us. Inflation Reduction Act and worried that it’s going to incentivize business to leave the EU for the Us. Which is a concern. I understand that. But I guess I would say the essence of the debate has been this in face of the $369,000,000,000 worth of tax breaks and subsidies set aside to boost green technology and energy security in the Us. How can the EU maintain a leading position in clean tech industries moving forward? The problem is that they’ve taken six months to talk about this without doing anything. It’s all been talked. And so companies have already been looking elsewhere outside of Europe. So, unfortunately, I think what this is going to lead to is kind of a deindustrialization of not only Germany, but the Euro area as a whole.


Well, that’s pretty dire. So you say it’s going to China, Us, mexico and parts of South America. I assume that’s Brazil? Maybe.




So that’s a net positive, I guess, for North America.


At least it is for North America. Europe is running very scared right now. Right. Again, they’ve been having meetings for the last six months, but the problem is that they continuously drag their feet on making decisions. And when you drag your feet that long, you give companies ample time to make other plans.


Right. Okay. So how does this end? If if we had Nat Gas stay at low levels for three years, do you think that manufacturer would would come back?


No. Back to Europe? No, I think they’ve already made once you’ve already made other plans, and you already left. And we’re talking about companies that have literally shut down things permanently.


So parts of Germany become western Pennsylvania.


Yes, but again, I don’t want to be a doom and gloomer and say it’s totally in German manufacturing, but I will say that I would keep a close eye on that, because I think that you’re going to see, I think Germany as an industrial powerhouse is going to not be over the next ten years wow.


Tracy, when you say over the next ten years it’s not going to be a powerhouse, is that because the cost of producing, you’re saying effectively is so high that they’re no longer going to be able to compete?




Is the flip side of that just that the cost will go up because the world needs their supply?


Well, that’s a twofold question. First of all, we’ve already seen industry already close there permanently, such as basf, just the largest chemical manufacturing company in the world, basically has already decided to leave Germany. Not entirely, but they have decided to pare down their manufacturing process and their labor in Germany and look elsewhere. And I think that it’s going to continue to happen because I think if you look at Germany or EU in particular, there is a lot of bureaucratic red tape there and a lot of things. And until I think that Europe really addresses that issue, more and more companies are going to be encouraged to go other places where perhaps that rig tape is not so difficult. In addition, it’s a lot cheaper as far as labor, et cetera.


Wow. Okay, so how does the German market what can they do to cope with nat gas prices just in terms of the day to day consumer?


Well, obviously nat gas prices have come way down since the peak in July of 2022. But I don’t think that is completely over with. I think the market is a little complacent right now because prices have come down so much because the German government has been asking for people to cut their consumption not only on the consumer side, but on the industry side as well. And so we’ve seen a 30% decrease in consumer industry consumption due to a lot of initiatives that they’ve asked for.


While increasing their coal consumption and shutting nuclear.


Yes, I think it’s a difficult road. I don’t think Europe as a whole is out of the woods yet as far as natural gas is concerned. We talked about that last week a little bit. But as far as industry is concerned, I am really worried because I think the signs are all there, that we are at least starting to see the deindustrialization process of airport, which would be mark a significant change in industry, particularly for Germany.


Wow. Okay. That’s something to really think about, something we want to keep an eye on because I’m very curious about that. Okay, guys, thanks for a real downer of a show. That’s awesome.


Wages were going up. That’s not all bad.


This has been great. Look, we’ve been a little more thoughtful today, I think, a little more kind of looking at kind of the whole context rather than just the markets. And I think that’s great. And I think what’s interesting to me is there’s not a lot of focus on this in the day to day hype cycle that we see. Of course. Right. But these are things that we have to look at within the context, not necessarily within the decisions that we’re making every day. And so I really appreciate this Mike, I really appreciate between you and Sam, your newsletters have such deep thought in them and application to what’s going on today as well as say the medium or longer term. It’s just fantastic to get that. Having said all that guys, what’s on your mind for the next week? So tracy, let’s start with you the week ahead, what do you have coming up next week?


What do we have coming up next week? I think next week, I think honestly it’s going to be more of the same. I think we’re going to see a lot of volatility in markets, especially looking at obviously commodity markets are kind of my focus. I think that you are going to see that. I think everybody should keep an eye on the dollar, particularly if you are trading commodities because we are sort of seeing a technical breakout of some sorts looking at the daily charts. So keep an eye on the dollar and then again I still expect volatility to continue in the commodity markets. With conflicting news on a higher dollar, china reopening Russia export. They said they were cutting five hundred K million barrels per day starting in March. But then they just said this morning that their butt they’re keeping exports the same. Crude oil markets didn’t really like that.


Their natural production is down 20%. So of course they’re going to cut $500,000 for domestic consumption. Are you still there tracy? Okay, Sam, what are you looking for in the week ahead?


I’m basically just kind of listening to whatever. I don’t really think there’s that much that’s all that interesting coming out next week. Maybe jobless claims will be interesting, unlikely, I don’t know. Honestly, it’s just a lot of chop. It’s all about waiting. It’s kind of like waiting on godot except you just sub in China for godot, wait for them to reopen, wait for them to actually make a move on the stimulus. Some announcements that actually makes sense in terms of how they’re going to stimulate, et cetera, et cetera. So right now I think it’s a waiting game and sitting on your hands is probably the most intelligent thing to do through the job.


Yeah. China is going to announce rail stimulus like they have for the last 30 years. I can guarantee that’s part of the mix. Okay, thanks for that. And Mike, how about you? What are you looking at for the week ahead?


Well, we have the traditional data dynamics like tracy, I’m very closely watching the Us dollar, but more importantly I’m starting to watch the credit events that are beginning to pile up. So you had brookfield walk away from two buildings last week. You had Standing file for bankruptcy today as fuel pump manufacturer has been in business continuously for 150 years citing unsustainable levels of debt repayment from buyout done with cerberus. This is the waiting the higher for longer framework. The continued tightening of liquidity is the equivalent of a distributive top in equity terms. Right. You have to wait and it’s going to happen. You’re going to see the distress begin to mount and the Fed will ultimately manage to crush demand because they’re creating an incredibly compelling reason for those at the high end with true discretion, right? I mean, remember the low end, that bottom 50 percentile that Sam and I are highlighting in terms of the consumer, they don’t really have a choice about discretionary spending. They basically don’t really have any savings. And so when they’re faced with a loss of real purchasing power, as we’ve seen over the last year, they originally kind of that second quartile turns to credit cards and other mechanisms to allow them to continue to purchase goods and services in the hopes that things are ultimately going to get better.


We’re now seeing those hopes begin to run out. The additional space on their credit cards is becoming exhausted. Unlike the old and the extremely wealthy, they don’t have significant quantities of cash in bank accounts or in money market funds. So they’re not benefiting from the increasing purchasing power. They’re beginning to falter. We’ll see the signs of that. My expectation is sometime in the next quarter.

But it is a waiting game right now, right? And until the Fed begins to see the evidence that it’s mission accomplished in hammering the demand side of the equation as compared to the supply side, which is really what they’ve hit so far, my guess is that they’re going to continue to proceed. The words we’re getting are the equivalent of subprime is contained, even as those of us who are following it closely fully understand that sub prime is a critical part of the stack and was never really the problem to begin with.


So what you’re all saying is kind of take a deep breath for now.


Take a deep breath and be prepared to hold it as we submerge. My advice.


Okay, it’s good to know. Guys, thank you so much. This has been a real kind of wake up. So thanks very much. I really appreciate this. Have a great weekend and have a great week ahead. Thank you.


Thank you guys.


Thank you.

Week Ahead

The End of the USD Era? How Natgas Prices, The Fed, and a Multipolar World are Changing the Game?

⚠️ The Inflation Buster Sale is extended until Jan. 7th only! Learn more: 👈

Natgas is down 63% from its high in late August. The average price before Q2 ’21 was $2-3, so we only have 7% more to fall to below $3. While we saw Natgas rise – along with every other commodity – in 2021, prices had begun to fall until Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are still at war, but we have this issue with the restart of the LNG terminal. Tracy Shuchart tells us what’s behind the fall in Natgas prices and what she’d look for before expecting prices to stop falling.

The Fed pivot has been wishful thinking for quite a while and Sam Rines has been repeating this for months or so. As the Fed’s minutes were released last week, Sam pointed out that NO MEMBER saw the need for a rate rise in 2023. He stated many times that the Fed has been very clear about its indicators. We see this so often that it seems obvious. Why is this so difficult for some people to see? Sam Rines explains that in this episode.

This week, Sam also made the point that the Fed is maybe “stuck in the middle”. Literally, employment in the middle of the US could be a factor that keeps the Fed from slowing down. Sam explains why the middle is so important.

We’ve seen a lot of chatter in research notes, op-eds, and tweets over the last week stating that the future is a multipolar world. This seems largely based on a call for the decline of the USD and the rise of the petroyuan, etc. Albert Marko walks us through this.

Key themes:

1. Natgas sub $3?
2. The Fed Pivot is Dead
3. Multipolar, Post-USD World

This is the 48th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:




Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. This week we are joined by Tracy Shuchart, Albert Marko, and Sam Rines. Thank you guys for taking the time to join us this week.

It’s been a pretty volatile short week, and there are a number of things we’re talking about. First is Natgas. We’ve seen Natgas come off pretty dramatically this week, and we’re going to talk to Tracy about whether or not we’re going to see Natgas below $3 soon. Also the Fed pivot. There’s been a lot of statements from the Fed, and Sam’s covered that in detail, so it looks pretty dead. But we want to find out from Sam what’s going on. And we’ve also seen a lot of coverage of or a lot of commentary about a multipolar world in the last week or two, which sounds like 2006 era rhetoric or something, but we’re seeing a lot of that kind of rear its head again, and we want to talk through that with Albert. Thanks, guys. Tracy, let’s jump into it with with Natgas. Natgas is down something like 63% from its high in late August. I’ve got a price chart on the screen right now.

The average price before Q two of 21 was in the two to $3 range, 260 or something like that. So I only have 7% more to fall below $3. So we’ve seen it rise with every other commodity in 2021. But of course, with Russia invading Ukraine, we saw that spike up. So Russia and Ukraine are obviously still at war. And then we have this issue with an LNG terminal in Texas with Freeport. So we’ve got that story from Bloomberg up on the screen right now.

Can you tell us what is behind that Nat gas price fall, and what are you looking for in that market for that to stop?


Well, first, again, Freeport, since you already put that up right, which went down in August, and people have been waiting for that facility to reopen because it’s an export facility. What happens is that since that facility is shut down, that landlocked US. Nat gas or that pushed downward pressure on US. Nat gas. Originally they were supposed to reopen in October. Then it was November, then it was December, and now it’s mid January. So that does contribute to a lot of problems. We’re also seeing warmer weather right now in the EU, and stocks are full in the EU. This market has become very complacent. That said, if we’re looking forward, there is a cold front coming in, I think January 22 to the EU. It’s supposed to be really cold for a few weeks. So what traders will be watching is to see how much does their build bring down during that time. But again, yes, the markets have become very complacent. They think that they’re indicative that this crisis is over, but that’s not necessarily true. We’ll have to see this winter how much stock is brought down in Europe due to cold weather.


And you have to remember that in 2022, half of their storage came from cheap Russian gas pipeline. Right. So looking forward to when we have to refill this, they’re going to have more expensive LNG coming in, and that takes longer and it’s more expensive. And then we look at US. Export capacity. It’s still not built out enough for the contracts that we actually signed with the EU. So that may put pressure on US. Nat gas, but that would put upward pressure on European nat gas.


So does that pressure, does it drive the price up or does it just hold the price steady? Is there a mean reversion at some point where we go to, say, 260 or 270 on average and kind of some of these weather issues and Restocking just kind of maintains it? Or do you expect things to go back up to $9 or whatever?


I think we could see a spike. Again, there’s a lot of mitigating factors in this market right now, and we really have to see how much is pulled from storage in Europe at this point. And hopefully Freeport is supposed to open mid January. We’ll see if that happens.




But that would really leave a lot of the downward pressure on prices in the US. Market because it would open us up to being able to export that.


We also saw the Japanese buying a US. Nacas company this past week. Right. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?


Yeah, which makes sense. I mean, Japan has been one of the largest natural gas importers in the world, and they’re very concerned right now about energy security, as most countries are, particularly in Asia. They’ve had some problems with their deal with Russia because they have a joint project together, and due to sanctions, there are some problems involved in that. And so I think that was a very smart move, again, for Japan to kind of secure energy. I mean, they’re looking forward, much more forward than I would say Europe is.


Okay. Very good. So it sounds to me that there’s not really anything decisive coming up in the near term to change the direction, but the magnitude may slow.


Is that yeah, technically speaking, we are very oversold at this point. That said, what we really are going to have to be looking at, or what traders should be looking at moving forward is do we have this reopening of Freeport mid January and this cold front coming in? If it does, traders will be looking at how much draw is is going to happen in in Europe or Bill stock? Okay.


Not to mention, Tony, that planting season for 2020, late 2023 and 2024 is coming up in Fertilizer. You need that gas fertilizer. So that’s that’s something else to look at. I’m not sure exactly how much it weighs on it or a bullish case from that gas by any means, but something will keep your eye on.




But we have had some fertilizer volatility over the past couple of years, right? Oh, yeah. Russian invasion.


Yeah, I’ve been a big mosaic fan, which is a phosphate play, but also nat gas is the other component on the other side for the fertilizers that they use.


Great. Tracy, what’s your thought on fertilizer?


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think we’ve seen that obviously pull back, but we’re heading into planting season again starting in the spring. So again, that’s going to be another factor as far as not gas is concerned. And the fertilizer analysts that I’ve talked to say they expect another price spike coming into about March.


Yeah, I believe also there’s going to be a price spike on the fertilizer front because the soil that the farmers haven’t used can’t sit as from what I’m told, can’t sit around not being used for too long. So 23,024 they’ll have to be replanting, those fields.


Interesting. Okay, well, good to know. Thanks for all of that. So let’s move on to the Fed. Sam, you’ve put out a few notes this week about the Fed and the Fed Pivot. Obviously, you’ve been saying for about nine months that the Fed Pivot is kind of wishful thinking. You’ve said it over and over and over again and there haven’t been hasn’t been a lot of kind of listening to it or people really haven’t heeded that necessarily as we see kind of run ups and and hope that we’ll see a pivot. But Fed minutes were released this week and you pointed out no member saw a need to raise rates in 2023. So that from your newsletter is on the screen right now.

So you’ve stated many times that the Fed has been very clear what their indicators are. And honestly, we’re seeing what you’ve said many times, that it’s vu and nominal wages. So vacancies and unemployment as well as nominal wages as well as core services, excluding shelter inflation.

And those have been very clearly stated by the Fed chair in his briefings. So why is it so difficult for people to see these things that seem to be very clearly stated by the Fed?


It’s personal preference. Right. The presuppositions and the initial conditions that you want based on the way you’re positioned. Right. So our brains really like to be correct. So if we can convince ourselves that the Fed is doing the wrong thing and should do something else and ignore the Fed will do something different, then it makes us feel a little bit better. So I think that’s part of it. But I do think that there’s something to be said for when no member of the FOMC sees the need to cut rates in 2023. That should be heated. That’s a pretty one sided trade. And you listen to some of the members of the Fed this week, bostic, who could be considered one of the more dovish individuals. He was still somewhat indeterminate between hiking 25 and 50 at the next meeting. When the most dovish member that I can kind of come up with or one of them doesn’t know if they’re going 25 or 50, that’s, that’s problematic. Right? That’s, that’s something that I think people are somewhat ignoring, particularly market participants, is that the Fed is not the Fed is not pivoting towards being dovish at this point.

Right. That the narrative that they have put out for the last six months has not changed. It has been very consistent and it has been very clear that vacancies to unemployment is a problem because one, when you poach people, you have to pay them a lot more money. So instead of call it the ADP report is really intriguing because they release what the pay rates are for people who aren’t switching jobs. It’s somewhere in the seven percentage range and the people who are switching jobs are getting 15% pay bumps. So the differential there is somewhat stark and somewhat shocking. I think that is somewhat underestimated by people when they look at what’s going on in the labor market. We have had a very good year for job creation and we just finished it off with a number that was well above expectations. And, you know, you can kind of nitpick and say, well, the average hourly wage was only up 30, basis points 0.3%. And you know, that’s that’s a positive for the Fed. Well, yeah, it’s only going to be up .3% because the vast majority of jobs were created in lower paying industries.

When you create jobs in leisure and hospitality, those are below the median. So you’re going to drag down the wage growth just naturally on that front. So I think a lot of it is going to be evolutionary for the Fed, right. They’re going to have to evolve their rhetoric at some point, but they’re not going to do it yet and they’re certainly not going to do it before the February FOMC meeting and they’re probably not going to do it until after the March 1. And that to me is probably not priced in at this point. And what’s really not priced in is the Fed just not really caring about the data until sometime in early 2024.


So you mentioned that in one of your newsletters, I think it was yesterday, talking about on Thursday most recent employment report. You talked about the Fed being stuck in the middle and literally you put some maps, which I put on screen.

Employment in the middle of the US could be a factor that keeps the Fed from slowing rate rises or at least from kind of pivoting. So why is the middle so important? We get so much coverage of what’s happening in Silicon Valley or New York or whatever, but why is the middle so important? And why is the Fed paying so much attention to the middle?


Sure, so the regions to the west were the only ones that lost jobs, according to the ADP report, which is pretty interesting. And the rest of the country made up for it and made up for it in spades. So while all the tech layoffs get a lot of headlines, you never really hear about the opening of XYZ plant in Kentucky or Tennessee, or the building of a plant in Tennessee, right? Those don’t get the headlines that Facebook laying off a few thousand people get. Quite frankly, who cares about a bunch of people getting laid off from Facebook? They probably shouldn’t have had jobs in the first place. Even say I’ll say it about alphabet. I’ll say it about all the tech companies. They overhired and they overhired in the wrong area, and now they’re laying them off. I mean, that’s what happens. It’s called the tech cycle. It’s not that difficult. But middle America is more than making up for it, and it’s making up for it in spades. And I think the Fed actually might be getting caught by the middle of the country. And it’s kind of the revenge of middle America, right?

Middle America always takes the brunt of the BS from the coast in terms of being dominated on monetary policy, being dominated on economic policy, and now they’re the ones kind of driving the ship. And I think that’s really underestimated within people’s frameworks that when we’re isolated to New York and California and see people getting laid off, that doesn’t really matter to the Fed as long as it’s being made up for by people in the middle. And people in the middle are making more money and they continue to spend. And there’s a lot of states in the Midwest and call it just flyover states. There’s a lot of states with a two handle on unemployment. A two handle. So if you want to hire people in middle America, guess what? You’re going to have to pay up if you want to hire a tech worker on the West Coast. Maybe you don’t, but that’s what’s going to get the headlines. But you’re going to have to pay up in the middle.


Well, you may not have to in terms of the rise on the West Coast, but the wages there aren’t necessarily coming down, are they, on the West Coast?


No, they’re not coming down, but it’s all about wage growth at this point. As long as you have a pretty sharp deceleration, you have some people on the market to hire. That’s important, right? Nevada and California have two of the highest unemployment rates in the country.


So is it fair to say that the middle is not say perfectly, but in some extent kind of catching up with the coast in terms of, say, real wages or something or no. No. Okay, so it’s still pretty cheap, but still just wage growth. Okay, very good. What else are we missing? Because look, you have been consistent on all of this. And you have for anybody who’s either listened to us or read your stuff for the last nine months could have seen this play out pretty much exactly as you’ve laid out. So what are people missing? I think the Fed has been fairly boringly, consistent, and you’ve said they would be, and that’s what’s happened. So are there any lines to read between that we should be looking at right now?


Yeah, so I laid it out about a week ago that I think what you really want to look for is the Fed going from a hawk to a grackle, hawkish to grackleish. And if you live in Texas, have lived in Texas, grackles are the worst birds ever because all they do is squawk. They wake you up and you can’t shoot them. They’re not like dubs, so play that all the way through there. But Grackles are an incredibly annoying creature. And when the Fed goes from being pure hawkish to really starting to grackle up its communication, squawk, squawk, squawk. You have no idea what they’re looking at. You have no idea what the metrics are. That’s when they’re getting ready to pause and pivot. And frankly, we have seen none of that right. Until the Fed process is not hawk to dove or dove to hawk, it’s dove, grackle, hawk, hawk, grackle, dove. And until they really begin to confuse their messages, they’re not changing shape. That we simply haven’t seen them begin to change shape. I do think that sometime this year, probably in the call, it the May to June time frame. That’s when you’re really going to begin to see the Grackles come out.

And a lot of confusing language about what they’re watching. A lot of confusing talk about the balance sheet. A lot of confusing talk about the future, the path of Fed Funds rates. And that’s really when I’ll get a little more bulled up on a Fed pause in the length and the structure of the potential to pivot. I don’t think there is a reasonable case to be made at this point. The Fed is going to cut in 2023. If there is a credible argument, it’s that the Fed breaks something and has to cut a lot. Right. So it’s it’s a little bit of a call. It a convex play here that if the Fed does cut, it’s not it’s not cutting 50 basis points, it’s cutting two or 300. And if and on the other side, you know, if nothing bad happens or nothing very bad happens, the Fed is just going to hold it there. So I think there’s a little bit of skew here.




Okay, thank you. I have one question. Yesterday we had, like, Fed george came out and said the Fed, quote unquote, Fed, still has a lot to learn about how balance sheet policy works. Can you explain that to the audience? And would that not be one of your grackle birds? What is it called?


No, I think it was actually George just being honest. I think we had this convers we had this conversation a few weeks ago, Tony and I, with a guest that the Fed really doesn’t understand or doesn’t have quite the concept to pinpoint exactly how much tightening or additional tightening to Fed funds. Quantitative tightening does that’s, that’s what George was getting at. She’s a little bit behind the curve there. The Fed does have a proxy rate that I pointed out earlier this week in a, in a note. The Fed has a proxy rate that they publish that’s sitting at about 6.4%, give or take. So it’s about a 260 basis point spread, 2.6% spread to the current Fed funds rate. I think that’s something to kind of pay attention to, is that the Fed does have measures. I think it’s more that if you’re out there talking all the time, it’s difficult to get into the math.


They’re not stupid, they’re just annoying at times.


Exactly. They’re not stupid. They’re really not stupid. They know how tight they are. They know they’re sitting at about six and a half percent, 6.4% on an overall tightening basis. They don’t care that’s number one. They don’t care that it’s that tight. Number two, they’re going to continue to do it until they actually achieve their mission. Right. And it’s a multipronged process. And as long as markets seem to be fixated on what’s going on with the Fed funds rate and not going on with the entirety of tightening, that’s going to continue to be an issue for them. Like today, when everybody’s like, oh, look, we printed 223,000 jobs. Maybe this gives them reason to pause because average hourly earnings didn’t go up that much. Guess what? I mean, you can’t rip markets 2% and have financial conditions loosen like that and have the Fed go, yeah, I think we’re accomplishing our mission. Inflation is still high and unemployment is at 3.5%. Yeah, it sounds like a great time to pivot. Yeah, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.


Right? Yeah. Okay, that’s great. Speaking of stupid not you, Sam. Albert, let’s talk about multipolarity.


One of my favorite.


Yeah, so we’ve had a lot of op eds and research notes and tweets over the past week or two stating that the future is a multipolar world. And this seems to be based on a lot of talk about the decline of the US dollar or the rise of the petrieon or something like that, around Chinese crude purchases from the Middle East or whatever. So, Albert, you put a series of tweets out, which I’m showing right now on screen about this very diplomatic, as you always are.

So can you walk us through this and help us understand what’s going on? And I’m going to try to play devil’s advocate as you lay.


No, that’s fine. I mean, you can play devil’s advocate if you want, but when it comes to multipolarity, it’s not simply a financial or economic thing that you need to look at. There’s multiple variables, including legal frameworks of the nation that is the currency issuer, the military strength of the reserve currency issuer. There’s multiple, multiple variables for it. And for some reason we have these economists that come out and say, oh well, the petroleum is coming into effect and that’s going to destroy the petro dollar and therefore the dollar is going to fall and blah, blah, blah. I’ll let Tracy get into the petrowan stupidity, but the dollar is simply the lifeblood of all trade in the financial system. You’re talking about for me, it’s like taking out your blood into Transfusion and putting in Mountain Dew and saying, oh yeah, everything’s healthy, you’re going to be fine. The whole system is raring to go. It’s a dumb argument. It just boggles my mind how people can sit there and even claim multipleity when there’s literally no alternative on a global scale for anyone to be thrown.


So let’s take this bit by bit. Okay? So a lot of these people are saying that the CNY will become more powerful partly on the back of crude coming out of the Middle East and crude coming out of Europe that could be denominated in CNY. Okay, so let’s take that. Tracy, can you talk to us about the Shanghai benchmark for crude? How successful has that been?


Not at all. Even the futures market hasn’t been successful.


What percent of world order oil, just as a wild guess, do you think is traded on the Shanghai benchmark?




2%. Okay. And it’s been around for how long? Two years?


Yes. And if you look at their futures market, which has been around since 2016, we’re still only saying that domestically traded, you’re not seeing big players come in and hedge like they do with WTI or bread. So that aside, China came to Saudi Arabia with a suggestion after this new summit, the latest summit that they just had, and said, yeah, we would love for you to we could trade this on Shanghai and this could be traded in yuan. Saudi Arabia still has not yet come back with an answer. And so everybody jumped to conclusion saying it’s a petrol. Saudi Arabia is giving up dollar denominated oil. This is not true. I’ve talked to a lot of people in Saudi Arabia about this. I’ve talked to a lot of journalists. I actually had a spaces about it. So this is not true. And even if Saudi Arabia did decide to sell some oil in yuan on the Shanghai exchange, for whatever reason, all that would happen is they would be paid in yuan and instantly changes into dollars. Nobody wants you.


Wait a minute, let’s dig into that. Why does nobody want CMY?


Well, because it’s not globally traded like the dollar is. Everybody wants dollars. People don’t want you on it.


Not freely convertible.


Right. At all. Right. And especially if you’re in a merging market with USD denominated debt. You on. Nobody wants you on. Nobody wants you on. Right. And it’s not really free floating, right?


It’s not at all. We talk about crude and the ability for the Chinese purchase crude. We talk about their currency, CNY. But behind the CNY and the lack of convertibility is the PDOC, right. China central bank. So ultimately, if you trust a currency, you ultimately trust their central bank. So is there a basis for people globally to trust the PBOC? That’s a sincere question. It’s not a cynical question.


No, I think people are not trusting central banks anywhere, but especially in China right now. People don’t believe what’s going on in China right now. People haven’t believed the data in China right now. And so, again, there will be a small amount of oil traded globally in yuan if China wants to do so and another country chooses to do that. Right? Russia has india was brought up for them, but that’s a very small 1% to 2% of globally traded oil, which is certainly not going to put the U on in a position to overtake the dollar in traded markets.


And something I’ll point out is the PBOC has literally, at times, used numerology to determine their benchmark rate. Okay? For people who go down this path, that the CNY is a rising currency. If you’re going to trust a currency, first of all, it has to be convertible. But second of all, you have to trust the central bank. And you can’t have people using numerology. I know we all complain about the Fed, right? But at least there’s a standard approach and there is a level of transparency as to the way decisions are made, right? Everybody knows what the Fed says, what minutes are released and all that stuff. But when you have a central bank that has at times and it’s rare, but at times use numerology by raising by anything that ends in eight or whatever, something like that, I mean, this is just stupid. And it’s not a credible central bank when those sorts of things are happening. Okay, let’s go on to multiplarity, to have defense. Okay? So is there a defense to enforce decisions that are made? So does China or whatever other multipolar places that these people are talking about have the ability to enforce their decisions overseas?


No, none. None whatsoever. I mean, even to take the Saudis as an example, right? The Saudis rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese, and the Petrowan argument started coming out all over research papers. But what will happen when Iran decides to press the Saudis once again in Yemen, or just through airspace violations and threatening missiles? Do you think that Riyadh is going to run to the Chinese? Are they going to run to Moscow? Or are they going to call up the Pentagon and say, hey, we need more, you know, Patriot missile batteries, you know, we need your support.


You tell me why. I think I know the answer, but I want to understand why.


The US. Has the most advanced military hardware there is on Earth by far.




But why would they not call, let’s say the Chinese.


Do you want an effective defense system? What are the Chinese have for defense system? Are the Chinese able to put Chinese troops to defend against Iran if something happens or against the Yemenis? I mean, they failed in every single aspect of China.


Just some basic questions. Does the PLA have the logistical capability to get their resources to Yemen if needed?


Zero. They couldn’t even invade Albania if they wanted to. That’s how ridiculous it is.


I’m sorry.


How are you going to move 250,000 troops across the world, right? You have no ability. The Russians can’t even barely invade Ukraine. That’s on their border, and we’re sitting there talking about multipolarity. For an example, is the United States took out Manuel Noriega. That’s because he was in the Panama Canal area and he was screwing around. If that situation happened, do you think the Chinese or the Russians did hop on over there and take it out? They cut it.


Noriega fell out of a building, which is plausible.


Well, that’s the Russian way to fix things. But, I mean, this is just a silly conversation. I have no idea where this multiplarity is coming from unless it’s investment banks putting their analysts out there to help their clients get out of gold or get out of crypto or something. We know with the whole death of the dollar thing coming, what are we.


Missing on multi polarity? Is there something that we’re missing from this discussion on either side?


I don’t think we’re missing much. I mean, there’s always the want for multipolarity if you’re not the United States, right? Everybody wants it, but to the point. You have to have a credible currency, you have to have an open account, you have to be willing to have a deficit, trade deficit, period. And you have to have incredible military and defense. And guess what? In this world, the only country that ticks those boxes is the US. And if Europe ever got its act together, maybe it could have the military part, but that’s it. China simply does not have the capability to be a global offsetter to the US dominance. That’s simply what I would call fantasy, at least for the foreseeable future. Could it become one down the line?




We were all concerned about Japan 20 years ago. Look how that worked out. Then we were concerned about the Euro. Look how that worked out. I mean, it happens. Yeah, it happens on a cyclical basis. Every 20 years, we come up with a new thing to be concerned about on the multiplayer front, and every single time, nobody has the willingness to do what the US does. Somebody call it the exorbitant privilege. Right? It’s not. It is. Actually a pretty big load to bear, particularly on the military and spending front. So I think that’s wildly overlooked. And I think the other thing that’s overlooked is oil for dollars will persist for a meaningful amount of time. Nobody wants oil for Trinkets.




And another thing I have to mention, does China even want to open up enough to be the world? They like to be shrouded in kind of secrecy, right? And they have to be secret. Whatever. If you’re world current reserve currency, you have to be completely open to the world, and they don’t seem to like that.


Well, part of it is they don’t want to be embarrassed. They don’t want to be seen to be making a mistake. It’s easier to point out other people’s mistakes. If they had transparency and they made a mistake, it’s embarrassing. If you remember, in 2015, they tried to devalue a little bit, they messed up and they way overshot, and it was really embarrassing. And then they did nothing for, like, four years. So they don’t want to be embarrassed. That’s a huge issue.


These are all complexities that have to be taken into account. And like Sam said, there’s only one nation at the moment that ticks the box. And listen, I’d be the first one to throw out warnings, red flags. If there was a competitor stepping up in the US’s shadow, they’d be the first person to say this, but just not right now. None of the components are there at the moment.


Right? And I mean, having said all this, I don’t want this to sound super pro American. Like, we’re all Americans, and I think we can all agree that the US is kind of a lumbering idiot around the US at times. Well, this is not trying to say raw, raw US. We’re just saying the Pragmatism of the moment is this.


Yeah, there’s so many different details that have to be looked at. And I spoke with Mike Green on this in our podcast and our spaces. It’s like the United States has water, has geography, is isolated from the rest of the world, has a military, has this, has that. It’s nothing to do about RA America. It’s just the way things have been laid out at the moment.


We’re lucky in that.


So if anybody’s watching and has a counter argument, please let us know. Honestly, we want to hear it and put it down there, and I’ll try to talk to Albert and see if he can come back to you. You may be careful what you wish for, but we’ll try to get Albert to come back to you. But let us know seriously, if there are valid counterarguments that encompass all these issues, just let us know in the comments, and we’d love to engage. So, guys, thank you very much. Really appreciate your time and all the thought you put into this. And have a great weekend. Thank you.


Thank you.


Thank you.

Week Ahead

Liquidity Drain and QT, Copper Gap, & Retail and the US Consumer w/ Daniel Lacalle

This Week Ahead, we’re joined by Daniel Lacalle, Tracy Shuchart, and Sam Rines.

First discussion is on liquidity drain and quantitative tightening (QT). How difficult is it?

Rate hikes get a lot of the headlines, but QT peaked at just under $9 trillion in April of this year. The Fed has pulled just over $200 billion from the balance sheet since then, which isn’t nothing, but it’s not much compared to the total.

Where do we go from here? Most of the Fed’s balance sheet is in Treasuries, followed by Mortgage-backed securities. What does the path ahead look like – and where is the pain felt most acutely? Daniel leads on this discussion.

We also look at the copper gap with Tracy. We don’t really have enough copper over the next ten years to fill the demand. Despite that, we’ve seen copper prices fall this year – and Complete Intelligence doesn’t expect them to rise in the coming months. Tracy helps us understand why we’re seeing this and what’s the reason for the more recent fall in the copper price. Is it just recession? Will we see prices snap upward to fill the gap or will it be a gradual upward price trend?

We’ve had some earnings reports for retail over the past couple of weeks and Sam had a fantastic newsletter on that. On previous shows, we’ve talked about how successful US retailers have pushed price (because of inflation) over volume.

Costco and Home Depot have done this successfully. Walmart had serious inventory problems earlier this year, but their grocery has really saved them. Target has problems, but as Sam showed in his newsletter, general merchandise retailers have had a harder time pushing price. What does this mean? Is Target an early indicator that the US consumer is dead?

Key themes:
1. Liquidity drain and QT
2. Copper Gap
3. Retail and the US Consumer
4. What’s up for the Week Ahead?

This is the 42nd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:



Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I am Tony Nash. And this week we’re joined by Dr. Daniel Lacalle or Daniel Lacalle. Daniel is a chief economist, he is a fund manager, he’s an author, he’s a professor. Kind of everything under the sun, Daniel does.

Daniel, thank you so much for joining us today. I know you have a very busy schedule. I appreciate you taking the time to join us. We’re also joined by Tracy Shuart. Tracy is the president at Hightower Resources, a brand-new firm. So pop over and see Tracy’s new firm and subscribe. We’re also joined by Sam Rines of Corbu. Thanks all of you guys for taking the time out of today.

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 error.

We also forecast about two thousand economic variables for the top 50 economies globally, and that is reforcast every month.

There are a few key themes we’re going to look at today. First is liquidity drain and quantitative tightening, or QT. Daniel will lead on that and I think everyone will have a little bit to join in on that.

We’ll then look at copper gap, meaning we don’t really have enough copper over the next, say, ten years to fill the needs of EVs and other things. So Tracy will dig into that a little bit.

We’ve had some earnings reports for retail over the past couple weeks and Sam had a fantastic newsletter on that this week. So we’ll dig into that as well. Then we’ll look at what we expect for the week ahead.

So Daniel, thanks again for joining us. It’s fantastic. You’ve spoken to our group about a year ago or so. It was amazing.

So you tweeted out this item on screen right now about the liquidity drain.

You sent that out earlier this week and it really got me thinking about the complexities of draining liquidity from global markets, especially the US. Since I guess global markets are hypersensitive to draining in the US.

Of course, rate hikes get a lot of headlines, but you mentioned QT, so it’s a bit more complicated. Obviously, QT peaked in April of this year. There’s a chart on the screen right now at just under $9 trillion.

And the Fed’s put about $200 billion back from their balance sheet, back in the market from their balance sheet, which isn’t nothing, but it’s really not much compared to the total.

So I guess my question is, where do we go from here? Most of the Fed’s balance sheet is in Treasuries as we’re showing on the screen right now, followed by mortgage backed securities.

So what does this say about the path ahead? What do you expect? How quickly do you expect? Does it matter that much?


Thank you very much, Tony. I think that it’s very important for the following reason. When people talk about liquidity, they tend to think of liquidity as something is static, as something that is simply there. And when central banks inject liquidity, it’s an added. And when they take liquidity away from the system, that simply balances the whole thing. And it doesn’t work that way.

Capital is either created or destroyed. Capital is not static. So when quantitative easing happens, what basically happens is the equivalent of a tsunami. Now, you basically add into the balance sheet of central banks trillion, whatever it is, of assets, though, by taking those assets away from the market, you generate an increased leverage that makes every unit of money that is created from the balance sheet of the central bank basically multiplied by five, six, we don’t know how many times. And it also depends on the transmission mechanism of monetary policy, which is at the end of the day, what the reason why central banks do QE is precisely to free up the balance sheet commercial banks so that they can lend more.


Let me stop you there. Just to dig into so people understand what you’re talking about. When you talk about transmission mechanism, and the Fed holds mortgage backed securities, the transmission mechanism would be through mortgages taken out by people because mortgages are cheaper, because the Fed is buying MBS. Is that fair to say?


Not cheaper. They don’t necessarily have to be cheaper. They have to be more abundant. Ultimately…


That’s fair. Yeah. Okay.


Ultimately, this is why when people talk so much about rate hikes, rate hikes or rate cuts are not that important. But liquidity injections and liquidity training are incredibly important for markets because rate hikes or rate cuts do not generate multiple expansions. Yet liquidity injections do create multiple expansion, and liquidity draining is much more severe than the impact of the rate hike.


Okay, so when you say multiple expansion, you’re talking in the equity markets?


In equity markets or in the valuation of bonds price. That means lower bond yields or in the valuation of private equity. We saw, for example, in the period of quantitative easing, how the multiples of private equity transactions went from ten times EV to even to 15 times easily without any problem.

So what quantitative tightening does is much worse than what quantitative easing does, because the market can absorb an increase of liquidity through all these multiple assets. However, when quantitative tightening happens, the process is the reverse. Is that the first thing that happens, obviously, is that the treasury, the allegedly lowest risk asset, becomes more cheap, ie, the bond yield goes up, the price goes down, the bond yield goes up, and in turn it creates the same multiplier effect, but a larger dividing effect on the way out.


So the divisor is greater than the multiplier.


The divisor is greater. And I tell you why. In the process of capital creation, there is always misinformation that leads to multiple expansion. Okay? So one unit of capital adds two more units of capital plus a certain excess valuation, et cetera. Now from that point, if you reduce one unit of the balance yield of the central bank, the impact down is much larger. So where it goes to, this is the problem that we as investors find it very difficult to analyze is where is the multiple at which equities, bonds, certain assets are going to stop because it is very likely to be below the level where they started.

The challenge of quantitative tightening is even worse when the process of quantitative easing has been prolonged, not just in period of compression of economic activity or recessions, but also in the periods of growth.




Because the level of risk that investors take becomes not just larger but exponential under QE. Under QT. Under QE, you get Bitcoin going from 20 to 60 under QT, you get bitcoin going from 60 to maybe zero.

I don’t know. I don’t know.


The comments are going to be full of angry bitcoin people.


I just want people to understand that just like on the way up in a roller coaster, you go slowly and it seems that everything is going relatively smoothly. When you start to go down, you go down really fast and it’s truly scary.


Okay, so let me ask you this, because when you talk about multiple expansion, I’m sure we’re going to get some comments back about tech firms because we’ve seen tech firms multiple expansion decline pretty dramatically in the past, say six months, certainly past year, for companies like Meta. So although we’ve only seen $200 billion in quantitative tightening, how does that reconcile with your statement about interest rates not necessarily impacting valuations.


No, interest rates impact valuations, but not as aggressive as quantitative tightenint. They do, particularly in tech for a very simple reason. I think that all of us can understand that a technology company is in the process of money creation. A technology company is one of the first recipients of newly created money because it absorbs capital quicker and it obviously benefits enormously from low interest rates, obviously.

But the process of multiple expansion tends to happen in the early stages of those companies. Now the process of multiple compression is much more viscious because I would be genuinely interested to have a discussion with, I don’t know, with people that invest in nonprofitable tech, but I would really like to understand how they get to the current levels of valuation comfortably.

The biggest problem I see of quantitative tightening is the same problem I see of the hidden risks of quantitative easing is that central banks cannot discern which part of the wealth effect comes from the improvement in the real economy or simply from bubbles. And the creation of bubbles obviously, we can imagine that something is a bubble, but we don’t really know until it bursts.

So it’s going to be very problematic for a central bank to achieve almost one thing and the opposite, which is what they’re trying to do. What they’re trying to do is to say, okay, we’re going to reduce the balance sheet. Hey, we’re going to reduce the balance sheet by 95 billion a month and think that that will have no impact on the bond market, on the equity market, and on the housing market. The housing market is already showing.


Yeah, I don’t necessarily think they’re saying that will have no impact on that stuff. Sam, from your point of view, is that their expectation that QT would have no impact on asset prices?


I wouldn’t say it’s their expectation that it wouldn’t have an impact on asset prices. I think they understand that there’s an impact on asset prices from just the narrative of tightening generally. But to the point, I think it is very difficult to parse what portion of their tightening is doing what particularly for them.

You look at some of the research on coming out of the Fed, on what QT is expected to do and what QT does, and you come out of it thinking they have no idea. I think that they would probably say that quietly behind closed doors, without microphones. But to the point, I would agree that there is an effect and that the Fed likes to say set it and forget it, because they don’t really understand what the actual impact is on either the real economy or the financial economy. Come up with our star-star, which is some stupid concept that they decided to come up with to rationalize some of their ideas. But I would say no, that makes perfect sense, that they really don’t understand exactly how much it is. Which is why they say we’re just going to set it, forget it, and we’re not really going to talk about it.

Because if you listen to the Fed, their concentration is on the path to the terminal rate and the length of holding the terminal rate there. And if you Google or try to find any sort of commentary about quantitative tightening within their speeches and their statements, it’s actually pretty hard to find.


Yeah. So just to clarify one thing, just to clarify. In the messages from, for example, of the ECB and the Bank of Japan, less so of the Fed. And I would absolutely agree with that because the Fed is not so worried because they know that they have the world reserve currency, but the ECB and the Bank of Japan certainly expect very little impact on asset prices. For example, the ECB are just saying right now that they’re expecting to reduce the balance sheet in the next two years by almost a trillion euros without seeing spreads widening in the sovereign market. That is insane to be fairly honest. So that is what I’m trying to put together is that the same… A central bank that is unable to see that negative bond yield and that compressed spreads of sovereign nations relative to Germany is a bubble. It’s certainly not going to see the risk of tightening.


I would start with saying that if the ECB thinks they are going to take a trillion off the books in a couple of years, that’s the first insane part of that statement.


Good. Okay. So what I’m getting from this is taking liquidity out of markets can be really damaging and the guys who are doing it don’t really know the impact of their actions. Is that good top level summary?


Absolutely. That is the summary.


Okay, so since they’ve only taken 200 billion off, I say “only,” but compared to 9 trillion, it’s not much. Since they’re pulling the interest rate lever now at the Fed and they’re kind of tepidly moving forward on the balance sheet, do we expect them to finish the interest rate activities before they aggressively go after the balance sheet or are they just going to go march forward with everything?


No, I think that’s.. They want to see the impact of interest rates first before they make a drastic action on the balance sheet. Particularly in the case of the Fed with mortgage backed securities, and the case of the Bank of Japan with ETFs because the Bank of Japan is going to kill the Nikkei if it starts to get rid of ETFs. And certainly the Fed is going to kill the housing market with mortgage backed securities are warranted.




And then it’s kind of interesting because there’s two dynamics that I think are intriguing here. One is that the Fed’s balance sheet is getting longer in duration as interest rates rise because those mortgage backs are just blowing out to the right because you’re not going to have to have the roll down and you’re not going to have the prepays on those mortgages anytime soon. So the Fed is putting themselves in a position where hitting those caps on mortgage backs is just simply not going to happen on a mechanical basis. And they’re either going to have to sell or they’re going to have to say, we’re just not going to hit we’re not going to hit our cap on mortgage backed securities for the next 20 years.


Yup. So I get to put those to maturity like they’re doing with all the treasury debt.


Yeah, they’re just letting them roll off, which means they’re not going to have mortgage backs rolling off with a six and a half percent refi rate.


Yeah, I agree with that.


Wow. It’s almost as if QT potentially is a non issue for the longer duration debt? Are you saying they’ll continue holding? Sam you’re saying , “No.” So what am I missing? What I’m hearing is they may just hold the longer duration stuff. So if that’s the case, is it kind of a non issue if they just hold it?


It’s not a non issue. They are in conversations all the time with the Bank of Japan to do this composite yield curve management, which in a sense means playing with duration here and there on the asset base. But it doesn’t work when the yield curve is flattening all over the place and when you have  a negative yield curve in almost every part of the structure.

So the point is that by the time that markets realize the difficulty of unwinding the balance sheet, the way that central banks have said, probably the impact on asset prices has already happened because commercial banks need to end margin calls, et cetera, margin calls become more expensive. Commercial banks cannot lend with the same amount of leverage that they did before. Capital is already being destroyed as we speak.


Into the point. As soon as you had the Bank of England announce that they were going to have an outright sale of Gilts, you saw what happened to their market. They broke themselves in two minutes.


Right. Okay. So that’s what I’m looking for. So it’s a little muddy. We’re not exactly sure. Right. QT is complicated. It’s really complicated. And liquidity is dangerous, as you say, Daniel. It’s easy on the way up. It’s really hard coming down from it. And that’s where…


I think it was Jim Grant recently who said how easy it is to become a heroin addict and how difficult it is to get out of it.


Sure, yeah. I mean, not that I know, but I can see that.


We don’t know it, obviously. None of us do. But it’s a very visual way of understanding how you build risk in the system and how difficult it is to reduce that risk from the system.


Yeah, just stopping adding liquidity is a good first step, and then figuring out what to do after that is I think they’re right. A lot of people like to knock on the Fed, but doing one thing at a time is, I think, better than trying to reconcile everything at once.

Okay, great. Since we’re taking a little bit of longer term view on things with some of that mortgage backed security debt, I just also was in a longer term mood this week and saw something that Tracy tweeted out about copper consumption and demand.

This was looking at long term demand, say, by 2030, and there’s a gap of what, 20 no, sorry, 10 million tons. Is that right, Tracy?


8.1 million tons.


8.1 million tons. Okay. Now, when we look at copper prices right now, we’ve seen copper prices fall. We don’t really have an expectation of them rising on the screen as our Complete Intelligence forecast of them rising in the next few months.

So why the mismatch, Tracy? What’s going on there? And why aren’t we seeing the impact on copper prices right now?


Well, I think if we look at basic industrial metals really as a whole, except for, say, lithium, really, we’ve seen a very large pullback in all these prices in these specific metals that we are going to need for this green transition.

Now, part of that is, I think, part of that is QT, we’re just saying money liquidity drained from the system. But I also think that we have overriding fears of a global recession. We also have seen people are worried about Europe because with high natural gas prices, a lot of their smelting capacity went offline.

And one would think that would be bullish metals, but it’s scaring the market as far as global recession fears. And then, of course, you always have China, which is obviously a major buyer of industrial base and industrial metals. They’re huge consumer as well as producer of the solar panels. Wind turbines and things of that nature.

So I think that’s really the overriding fears and what I’ve been talking about even for the last couple of years, that I think metals is really going to be more of H2 2023 into 2024 story. I didn’t really expect this year for that to be the real story.

I know you thought that energy was still going to be the focus. And I think even though we’ve seen prices come off, energy prices are still very high. And I think energy prices we’re going to see a resurgence of natural gas prices again in Europe as soon as we kind of get past March, when that storage is kind of done. Because we have to realize that even though the storage is still this year, 50% of that did still come from piped in natural gas from Russia.

I think we’ll start to see natural gas prices higher. Oil prices are still high. Even at $75, $80, it’s still traditionally high. So the input cost going into metals to bring it all together, the input cost going in metals, we are going to need a lot of fossil fuels. It’s very expensive. We also see mining capex suffers from the same problem that oil does is that over the last seven years, we’ve seen huge declines. And then when we look at copper in particular, we really haven’t had any new discoveries since 2015. So all of those are contributing factors. But again, I don’t think that’s really a story until last half of 2023 and 2024 going forward.


Okay, so to me, the copper price tells me, and I could be, tell me if I’m wrong here. Copper rise tells me that markets don’t believe China is going to open up fully anytime soon, and they don’t believe China is going to stimulate anytime soon. Is that a fair assessment?


Yes, absolutely. I think we kind of saw metal prices. We’re bouncing on some of the headlines back and forth, but really we haven’t seen anything come to fruition, and I think most people are not looking until probably spring for them to open up. And I think China really hasn’t changed its stance, right. As far as. There Zero Covid policy, they’re still on that. So I think markets have been digesting that over the last couple of weeks or so. And that’s also another contributor to seeing a pullback in some of these metals in the energy sector.


Yeah, if you look at the headlines over the past week, you definitely see a softer tone towards China, with Xi Jinping coming out in the APEC meeting sorry, not the APEC meeting, the ASEAN meeting. And he’s a real human being and all this stuff, and he’s talking with Biden and he’s talking with European leaders and Southeast Asian leaders.

So I think there’s been a softer tone toward China and this belief that good things can happen in the near term, but I don’t think most investors will believe it until they see it, first of all. And I think places like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, US. Other places, maybe not. The Germans are also a little bit worried about short term sentiment in China. Things could turn pretty quickly. So, like you say, I think base metals prices are down on that. But over the long term, obviously, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough capacity right now. So, anyway, we’ll see. So for bringing that up. Sorry. Go ahead, Sam.


Yeah, I think there’s just two things to add there. One, if you didn’t have investment in base metals and energy at zero interest rates, you’re not going to get it at five. Let’s be honest. That’s point number one, this isn’t a short term thing. This is a much longer term thing. And you need to have much higher prices for commodities broadly in order to incentivize any sort of investment, because they’re, one, very capital intensive, and two, capital is very expensive right now. So I think that’s also something to keep in mind over the medium term, is we’re not solving this problem at five and a half percent interest rates here. That’s clearly not going to happen. And the other thing is you haven’t seen the Aussie dollar react in a positive way. So if the Aussie dollar is reacting, China is not reopening. It’s just that simple.


Yeah, that’s a very point.


If I may, I would also like to point out that the bullish story for copper, lithium, cobalt is so evident from the energy transition and from the disparity between the available capacity and the demand. But when the gap is so wide between what would be the demand and the available supply, what tends to happen is that the market, rightly so, sees that it’s such an impossibility that you don’t even consider, at least as a net present value view, that bullish signal as Tracy was mentioning until 2023 or 2024, when it starts to manifest itself.

Right now, it’s so far between the reality of the available supply and the expectation of demand that it looks a little bit like what happened with Solar in 2007, 2008. We just saw bankruptcy after bankruptcy because you didn’t match the two. And on top of it, Tracy correct me. But this is the first year in which you had a massive bullish signal on prices, in energy and in metals, yet you’ve seen no response from a capping.


Exactly. Nobody’s prepared, nobody wants to really still spend that kind of money, particularly not the oil industry when they’re being demonized by everybody in the west in particular. So you know, you’re not going to see a lot of, nobody wants to invest in a project when they’re saying we want to phase you out in ten years.


What’s really interesting though also is BHP bought a small midsized copper miner in Australia this week, so I forget their name, but the miners are seeing opportunities, but they’re just not seeing the demand there yet. So we’ll see what happens there. So anyway, thanks guys for that. That’s hugely valuable.

Sam, you wrote on retail this week and you have really brought out some interesting dynamics around pushing price versus volume within stores over the past several months. And your newsletter looked at Target, Walmart, Costco, Home Depot. Earnings across retail sectors.

So Costco and Home Depot seem to have pushed price successfully. Walmart, as you say, had serious inventory problems earlier in the year, but their grocery business seemed to have really saved them. But Target really has problems and their earnings report this week was a mess. So we’ve got on screen a table that you took out of some government data looking at, has made a change of sales for different types of retail firms, building materials, general merchandise and food services. And things seem to be going very well for everyone except general merchandise stores like Target.

So can you help us understand why is that the case for, I mean, maybe Target is just terribly wrong, but why is that the case for general merchandise specifically and what does this say about the US consumer? Is the US consumer kind of dead in some areas?


No. US consumers is not dead, which is the strangest part about this earning season to me is everybody kind of read into Targets reporting was like, wow, this is horrible. It’s bad, it’s bad. Target is its own problem. Their merchandising, horrible. Their executive team, horrible. I mean, I don’t know how you survive this. With Walmart putting up huge comp numbers on a relative basis. I mean, they pounded Target and to me that was single number one. That’s Target’s issue.

The general merchandise store. We bought a whole bunch of stuff during COVID that we don’t really need to buy at 17 of right? We bought it during COVID You could get Walmart and Target delivered to you, that was a boom for their business and that’s just not being repeated. Same thing with if you look at Best Buy and electronic stores not doing great because we all bought TVs during COVID and computers, we needed them at home. These are just pivots. When you look at the numbers for restaurants, when you look at it for grocery, I mean, again, a lot of it is pushing price onto the consumer, but the consumer is taking it.

And those are pushing revenues higher. Look at something, the company that controls Popeyes and Burger King, absolute blowout, same store numbers. I mean, these are restaurants that are pushing price. They’re still having traffic and they’re not getting enough pushback.

Home Depot pushed 8% pricing, well, almost 9% pricing in the quarter. They didn’t care about foot traffic, but traffic was down mid 4%. They didn’t care about the foot traffic. They got to push the price and they, guess what, blew it out? Loads had a decent quarter. These are housing companies, at least home exposed companies and building exposed companies that had great third quarters that were supposed to be getting smashed, right? The housing is not supposed to be the place that you’re going to right now. And somehow these companies could push in a price.

There’s something of a tailwind to the consumer where the consumer is kind of learning to take it in certain areas and just saying, no, I don’t need another Tshirt or I don’t need to make another trip to Target. I think that it’s pretty much a story of where the consumer spending not if the consumer spending.

That retail sales report, it will get revised, who knows by how much, but the retail sales report, even if it gets knocked down by a few bips called 20 basis points, 0.2%, it’s not going to be a big deal. It’s still blowing number. These are not things you want to see.

If you’re the Fed thinking about going from 75 to 50, 2 reasons there. One is that pricing little too much. And if it begins to become embedded, not necessarily in the consumer’s mind, but also in the business’s mind, I can push price. I can push price. I can push price. That’s a twosided coin where the consumer’s willing to take it and businesses are willing to push it. That is the embedding of inflation expectations moving forward.

Going back to I think it was last quarter, Cracker Barrel announced during like, yeah, we’re seeing some traffic flow, but we’re going to push price next year, and here’s how much we’re going to push it by. These companies aren’t slowing down their price increases, and they’re not seeing enough of a pushback from consumers.


Cracker Barrel and Walmart are not topend market companies. They’re midmarket companies. And if they’re able to push price at the mid market, then it says that your average consumer is kind of taking it. But the volume is down. So fewer people are buying things, but the ones who are buying are paying more. Is that fair to say?


It’s fair to say. Fewer trips, more expensive. It’s fair to say. But there’s also something to point out where Macy’s, their flagship brand, kind of had a meh quarter. Bloomingdale’s, heirt luxury? Blew it out. 




So you’re seeing even within general merchandise stores, you’re seeing a significant difference between, call it luxury, middle, and low.


Okay. So what is it about, say, Target and Macy’s? I’ll say Target more than Macy’s, but is it just the management, or is it the mech?


It’s merchandising and it’s the Mexican.


Right, okay.


And if you don’t have the right stuff that you can push price on, you’re not going to make it.


So will we see some of these general merchandisers move into other sectors? Grocery or whatever?


I mean, Target has grocery. TVs closed. They have everything. It’s a question of do you have the right thing to sell right now in terms of that? So I don’t really think you’ll see many big moves, mostly because they already have too much inventory. So their ability to pivot is zero at this point. So it’s going to be a tough holiday season. I think it’s going to be a pretty tough holiday season to Target. But I didn’t see Walmart taking down numbers for the Christmas season. We’ll see with Amazon, but cool.


It seems healthy. Just observationally. They seem pretty healthy.


Yeah. And the other thing to mention, just as a side note, there’s a lot of this consternation around FedEx and UPS and their estimated deliveries for Christmas. This is the first year that Amazon has had a very, very large fleet going into the Christmas holiday season where they don’t have to send packages through FedEx and UPS only. They have a very, very large in house fleet of vehicles to do so with, and they built that out massively over the past 18 months. So I would read a lot less into that for the Christmas season, et cetera, than people are. That’s something I think it’s kind of taking the big picture and missing the finer points.


I had a question really just on that same vein. I’ve seen a lot of the freight companies that report on freight, like Freight Waves, have been screaming at the top of their lungs, loadings are falling. People are going out of work. They’re firing everybody. Nobody’s delivering anything. Nobody’s delivering any goods. Do you think that’s sort of cyclical or because it seems like there’s a mismatch right now. There’s a lot of goods out there to be delivered, but for some reason, these guys can’t get loading.


I think it’s two things. One, everybody double ordered in spring and summer. So I think Freight Waves and a lot of other companies saw a lot of livings that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And you spread those out, and I think that’s point number one. Point number two is these retailers are stuffed with inventory. Target, even Walmart is somewhat elevated. They don’t have that big problem. They have the inventory. I would say it’s much more of a timing issue. You’ll probably see Freight Waves have too many loadings, called it in the spring and summer of next year because people are playing catch up and trying to get the right merchandise, et cetera, et cetera. So I think it’s just more of a Covid whipsaw than anything else.


Makes sense, right?


Okay, so bottom line, us. Consumer is still taking it, right? They’re still spending, they’re still okay. Despite what bank deposits and other things tell us, things are still moving. And is that largely accumulating credit or how is the US consumer still spending? They’re accumulating credit?


A couple of things. One, they have their bank deposits are fine, particularly at the middle and upper levels. They’re still relatively elevated. Two, you’re getting a much higher wage. So your marginal propensity to consume when you see a significant pay raise, even if prices are higher, is higher, right. So you’re going to spend that dollar.

So you’re getting paid more. You’re switching jobs a lot more. Your switchers are getting something like a double digit pay increase. These are rather large chefs, so I would say the consumer feels a lot more comfortable with taking the inflation because they’re getting paid a lot more. Unemployment is sub 4%, so they’re not afraid of losing their job unless they’re at Twitter. So the consumer is sitting there like, all right, I’m not losing my job. I’m getting paid increases. Why would I stop spending? I think it’s that simple.




Yeah, they have credit cards.


That is a very important point. What you just mentioned, employment. Employment makes all the difference. The pain threshold of consumers is always being tested. Companies raise prices. Volumes are pretty much okay. So they continue to raise prices to maintain their margins. And that works for a period of time.

I think that what is happening both in the Eurozone and in the United States is that after a prolonged period of very low inflation, consumers also feel comfortable about the idea that inflation is temporary. Basically everybody and actually I have this on TV this morning, we’re talking about everybody is saying, okay, so prices are rising a lot, but when are they coming down? But I’m still buying.

The problem, the pain threshold starts to appear when employment growth, wage growth, starts to stop, and at the same time, prices go up. And obviously the companies that feel comfortable about raising prices start to see their inflation rate, rise. So it’s always difficult because we never know. There’s a variable there that we’re very unsure of, which is credits. How much credit are we willing to take to continue to consume the same number of goods and services at a higher price?

But it is absolutely key what you’re saying, which is as long as even though wage growth in real terms might be negative, but you’re getting a pay rise and you still feel comfortable about your job, you feel comfortable about your wealth to a certain extent and credit keeps you safe, consumption in the United States is not going to crack.

However, where do you see it cracking? And we’re seeing it cracking in the eurozone. In Germany, where you don’t get the pay rise, you don’t get the benefit of taking expensive credit from numerous different sources or cheap credit from different numerous sources and at the same time you get elevated inflation. Consumption is actually going down the drain. The way that I see it is that the problem, the consumption, not collapsed, but certainly the consumption crack is very likely to happen more north to south in the eurozone than in the United States at the rate at which the economy is growing.


Yes, yes, very good. Thanks for that, until on Europe, Daniel, that was really helpful.

Okay, let’s do it very quick. What do you expect for the same week or two weeks ahead? We have a Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, so things are going to be kind of slow. But Tracy, what are you looking for, especially in energy markets for the next couple weeks? We’ve seen energy really come off a little bit this week. So what’s happening there?


Yeah, absolutely. Part of the reason of that, besides all the global factors involved, the recession didn’t help UK him out and said they were already in the recession. That then sparked fears. We have pipeline at reduced capacity right now, which means that’s going to funnel some more crude into cushion, TWI contract is actually cushing. So that’s putting a little bit of pressure. I think holidays, obviously I think this next week we’re not really going to see much action as usual. So really looking forward to the following week is we have the Russian oil embargo by the EU and we also have the OPEC meeting and I would suspect that at these lower prices they would probably, they might be considering cutting again. So that’s definitely those two things. I’m looking forward to in that first week in December.


Great, thanks. Daniel, what are you looking for in the next week or two?


The next week or two are going to be pretty uneventful, to be fairly honest. We will see very little action or messages that make a real difference from Fed officials or from the ECB. On the energy front, there’s plenty of news that we pay attention to Tracy’s Twitter account. But in Europe we will get quite a lot of data, quite a lot of data that is likely to show again this slow grind into recession that we’ve been talking and very little help. I think that from here to December, most of the news are not going to change where investors are and that will probably start to reconfigure our views into the end of the trading season, 27 to 28.


Okay, very good. And Sam, what do you see next week? The week after?


I’ll just be watching Black Friday sales that are coming in. Honestly, I think that will be a pretty important sign as to how things are developing into the holiday season and begin to set the narrative as we enter in December. Again, there’s no real interesting Fed talk coming out next week, but we’ll begin to have some pretty good data coming from a number of sources on Black Friday, foot traffic, internet traffic, etc. Tuesday and Wednesday.


Very good.


The following week. That’s all I care about.


Excellent. Really appreciate that. For those of you guys in the States, have a great Thanksgiving next week. Daniel, thank you so much. Have a fantastic weekend. Always value your time, guys. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.


Thank you.


Have a good weekend. Bye bye.


Thank you.

Week Ahead

Inflation in Asia and the US: The Week Ahead – 3 Oct 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

In this episode, we talked about what’s happening with inflation in markets, and where it’s hitting, particularly in the US in different sectors. Mike walked us through the Asian contagion for inflation. Also, given where USDCNY has been over the past week or so, how vulnerable is China? Are they more concerned about inflation or export competitiveness?

Sam put out a couple of wonderful newsletters about central bank responses to inflation last week. The Fed seems – and is – unrelenting in their response, regardless of what happens with UK gilts. One area Sam raised last week is the car market versus mid-market dining: Cars vs Cracker Barrel. He walked us through the price and volume considerations with these two.

And then we looked at Meta’s move to freeze hiring and their warning about layoffs. Is that a broader signal for tech?

Key themes:
1. Inflation: Asian Contagion
2. US Inflation: Cars vs Cracker Barrel
3. Meta’s move: More to come?
4. The Week Ahead

This is the 36th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:

Time Stamp
0:00 Start
0:49 Themes for this Week Ahead
2:47 How vulnerable is China? Are they more concerned about inflation/export?
10:23 China will not be the exporter of deflation anymore
13:28 Will China give in to devaluing CNY?
16:15 Cars VS mid-market dining
22:00 Price increases will continue?
24:26 Is this the beginning of the end of tech wage spike?
29:11 How does this current ad slowdown compare to the past?
30:20 What’s for the week ahead?

Listen to the podcast version on Spotify here:

#inflation #asiainflation #usinflation #stockmarket #stockmarketnews #economy #economics #inflationrate #costofliving #effectsofinflation #comparingpricesinflation #metalayoffs #meta #layoffs2022 #investing #inflationinasiaandtheus


Tony Nash: Hi, everybody. This is Tony Nash and welcome to The Week Ahead. Today we have a couple of very special guests. We’ve got Michael Kao. You would know him from Twitter as UrbanKaoboy. And we’ve got Sam Rines. And obviously you know Sam from previous shows. This week we’re going to talk about a lot about what’s happening with inflation in markets. We’re going to talk a lot about where inflation is hitting, particularly in the US in different sectors. And then we’re going to cover a little bit of tech.

So our key themes this week first is the Asian and contagion for inflation. And Mike’s going to jump into that in quite a bit of detail. We’re then going to look at US inflation. Sam put out a really interesting note covering kind of cars versus Cracker Barrel, although that’s not really the comparison, but it’s something in that range. And then we’re going to look at Meta’s move to freeze hiring and their warning about layoffs. Is that a broader signal for tech? And finally we’ll move into the week ahead.

So before we jump into this, please be aware that we have our product called CI Futures, where we forecast hundreds of commodities, currencies and equity indices as well as economic indicators. I was just going over our error for GDP USD for the month of September, and our area was about 2.23%, I think, for the month. So it’s a very relevant product even in these times. You can find out more on the link below. 

It’s $99 a month and you can see everything in the subscription there. We publish our error rates. We publish our forecast. You can download the data, you can download the charts and do comparisons. So please check that out. 

Michael, thanks for joining us. I really appreciate your time. I’ve heard you on a number of other podcasts and it’s just so great to have you here. I really appreciate it.

Michael Kao: Yeah, thank you. Great to meet both of you. Yeah, I appreciate you having me.

TN: Fantastic. Hey, there’s a tweet that you put out a couple of weeks or about a month ago actually looking at the Asian contagion and pretty much it was reflecting a tweet that you had put out in January, talking about your expectations for the year ahead and the set up for the year ahead.

So given where, say, CNY has been over the past week or so and the set up that you put out earlier in the week, how vulnerable is China? Are they more concerned right now about inflation? Are they more concerned about export competitiveness? What does that look like? And as you start talking, we’ll put up a chart of USDCNY as well.

MK: Sure. Before I answer that question, I just want to take a quick step and just outline for you, like where I kind of arrived at this Asian contagion thesis. Right? So about a year and a half ago, I’ve been invested in the oil patch for quite a while. And I’ve expressed my bet through a long term private equity plate because it’s my belief that years and years of underspend and then exacerbated by this worldwide ESG push right, and diversion of capital away from the sector and then of course, further exacerbated by all of this massive monetary and fiscal stimulus first created oil inflation way back. Right.

So I started noticing this basically around the beginning of ’21 and I wrote a bunch of threads about it. And then during the year I started thinking what are the ramifications of this? Well, the ramifications are that it’s going to make our Fed more hawkish than the rest of the world earlier than the rest of the world. And so what are the ramifications of that? Well, given that currencies are mainly driven by interest rate differentials that would in turn create this what I labeled a USD wrecking ball effect.

And so as that thesis started kind of coming true and gathering steam throughout the year, the tweet that you referenced that I wrote at the beginning of this year was that I said, look, the setup is a scary one for this year because we have the makings of a stagflationary energy crisis not seen since the 70s. It’s going to create tightening ahead of the world, creating this USD wrecking ball. And then we have this everything bubble to boot on top of that. 

And this wrecking ball really reminded me of my sort of baptism by fire into the hedge fund business. In 1997, I joined a hedge fund here in LA called Canyon and we were value credit based investors and a lot of our idiosyncratic bets essentially got swamped by the macro, right? So what started as seemingly innocuous devaluations by a couple of EM countries in Southeast Asia metastasized over the course of a year and a half until full blown credit contagion. Except this time, what I wrote about in this thread is that what’s scary is that number one, the level of inflation that’s driving this US dollar racking ball is much higher than before.

And from my oil centric point of view, I think a lot of it is structural. And then the second thing is that the vulnerability point… I mean the EM countries are also vulnerable. But what’s scary this time around are the developed nation currencies like the Euro, the Japanese yen.

And now I come back to your question, the Chinese Yuan. Your question is a really interesting one that I actually tweeted about this week is China. China is in a box. Just like the Bank of Japan, just like the ECB. They’re all in a box because their respective economies are much weaker than ours.

I think the big question, and I don’t know when the US dollar wrecking ball is going to peak, maybe it already has. But I suspect though, my hunch is that maybe it’s still got some legs to go because until you reach a point where the macro fundamentals of those respective economic zones are strong enough to allow their central banks to essentially outhawk our central bank. Any interventions are going to basically be just a wasted burn of their reserves.

And so you saw that with the BOJ, right? They spent something like 20 billion of reserves defending their currency and that lasted two days. And we’re back to all time lows in the Yen.

So China is really interesting because China is such an export-driven economy. One would think that with their economy on the back foot from the property crisis, from zero COVID policy, one would think that as their neighbors are devaluing and becoming more competitive versus them, that they would be more worried about their current account getting hit, right, their current account surplus getting hit. And so you would think that they would want to let their Renminbi devalue.

What we saw instead, I think, was that yesterday that the PBOC had a pretty strong intervention in CNY. That tells me, I actually put a tweet out to exactly the effect that’s a big tell to me that they’re more concerned about inflation. And China, just like Japan, is uniquely vulnerable in that they are also net importers of something like 80% of their energy. They’re in a tough bind.

And the million dollar question is no one knows when… That day, when the BoE intervened and all risk assets rallied hard. I think that was the market kind of conflating that all these interventions are going to be exactly. It’s going to lead to the Fed also going to QE. And I put out another thought on Twitter saying that, you know what, I don’t know that you can conflate that because the Fed was happy to be the world’s plunge protection team in a world of where there was no structural inflation.

When you’ve got a world of structural inflation, it becomes kind of an every man from self dynamic where I don’t know that how much we can go help stymie the yen or stymie the Renminbi or stymie the Euros collapse by queuing here. Because that’ll just completely inflame inflation. And the big tell on that was on that risk on day. You know, what was really roofing also was oil. And so it comes back down to oil.

If the Fed actually blinks and goes back and pivots, the thing that’s going to moon and lead us right back to square one is oil, which is what started this whole cycle in the first place.

TN: So let me take a step back from what you said, because you just unloaded a lot, which is great, and I think Sam will violently agree with you on a lot of stuff. But what’s really interesting to me. If China is worried about inflation. Although this is somewhat like 2011. When they had the, or 2007 or whatever. When they had the pig flu and all this other stuff.

And there was inflation pressures but China has been the source of deflation for the last 25 or 30 years right and so if China is no longer the global exporter of deflation then it is a dramatic change in the structure of the global economy. Dramatic and I think so many people use this that this is not something that we’re not going back to 2019 prices ever. Right? But I don’t really hear people talking about China not being able to be the exporter of deflation anymore and that’s just one that’s come and gone that’s already gone right. 

MK: And it’s not just China. It’s Eastern Europe, too, right, because I wrote a thread that basically borrowed some of the thoughts from Professor Goodheart’s paper about how this was kind of a once in a lifetime demographic dividend that allowed the world and the Fed to basically pay for over every financial crisis of the last four decades with aggressive monetary policy because there were never any inflationary repercussions. But as you so validly pointed out, that was due to like a once in a lifetime sort of demographic dividend that is now in secular reversal.

Sam Rines: To this point… I want to jump in and just reinforce this point here because I think it’s a really good one that China was a massive source of goods deflation globally along with East Germany, Poland. Etc. as they joined in following fall of the Berlin Wall. 

But I think  there’s something really intriguing here is that it doesn’t even matter if they still continue to export some goods deflation over time. Their commodity inflation tailwind is going to be problematic. The only thing that has really saved them with a Renminbi north of seven is that they haven’t had to import anywhere near the amount of commodities that they would typically have to. If you’re locked down, they have the longest commute times on average in the world in China. That is a tremendous tailwind to gasoline. Food. Et cetera. When you begin to reopen and have China’s economy going full bore, that is a tremendous issue for the commodity complex in general in an environment where it’s already broken. It’s going to be a tremendous amount of pressure on that system and I don’t think people are prepared for that either. That China is now the exporter of an incredible amount of commodity inflation over the next half decade or so.

MK: It’s actually really insightful because commodities which they have to import. They’re super afraid of that and that oil is basically the primary factor of production for everything under under the sun. Yes, everything.

TN: Back to CNY do you think they’ll kind of give in to devaluing or do you think they will continue to fight this, which is a battle that everyone loses eventually?

MK: That’s such a hard question to answer because if anybody can fight it, it would be China right?Because they have a non convertible currency, right. So I think, for instance, Japan is much more vulnerable because I don’t see Japan imposing capital controls and I don’t see Japan relaxing on their yield curve control. So the only exit valve there is the Yen devaluation. Right.

But in China’s case, they have capital controls. I spoke on an interview earlier this week with Mike Nicoletos, and we were discussing about whether or not there’s a porosity through the Hong Kong dollar. Right. I think they have to clamp back down, too, right? Because. If they really want to manage the pegs, they need to really like stymie capital controls. Otherwise, I think capital just going to flow out.

TN: So will we see a divergence between CNY and CNH? 

MK: What is the divergence? I mean, it’s tiny. Two or something. 

TN: Okay, great. I’m just wondering if CNH is trading offshore and that’s allowed to freely trade or relatively freely trade? Maybe. Sam, you have a better idea? I’m not entirely clear on what the restrictions are on CNH trading because I don’t think it’s completely for all. Otherwise that divergence would be much bigger, I think.

TN: Well, it’s a spread, right? It’s a proxy of a spread. And so you can see pressure on that, and you can see that pressure pushing the expectation of seeing why potentially devaluing if they don’t handle it. Like PBOC, they’ve got a lot of smart people, but policy wise, they make a lot of mistakes. Don’t think they’ll elegantly.

MK: I was just going to say that I actually think that if they let CNY or CNH freely float, it would have a nine handle on it. At least, I think that’s where it goes.

TN: Yeah, at least. Okay, very good. Thanks for that, Mike. I really appreciate that. Let’s move on to Sam. You put a note out earlier this week talking about inflation and central bank responses to inflation. And the Fed obviously seems unrelenting in their responses. Mike mentioned, as you mentioned in your newsletter and here several times, but one area you raised in your newsletter this week is kind of cars versus mid market dining.

So you talk about cars, Carvana versus Cracker Barrel. Can you kind of walk us through that? And I’ve got a couple of shots from your newsletter. One is on the Carvana release, and the other one is on Cracker Barrel. Actually, we only have the one on Cracker Barrel to show the group. But do you mind walking us through that?

SR: Sure. So the impetus behind the note was really to kind of make the point that Mike made earlier, that the Federal Reserve does not care about what’s going on in the Gills market. It is not going to come save the Bank of England and Downing Street from what they’ve done. That’s not their problem. That’s a domestic issue. And when you decide to have a massive fiscal tailwind and a monetary policy that was being highly restrictive and going to sell bonds, your currency is going to fall. And that’s your own problem. That’s the way that the Fed viewed it. And then a bunch of Fed speakers came out and said basically exactly that, but in a little kinder tone.

But the idea there kind of pulling that together is that the US domestic economy is still doing well. So the CarMax report was really interesting because CarMax has used autos, right? That’s what they sell. And all the headlines about inflation and used autos, their volumes got absolutely trashed in the past quarter. And that makes sense, right? People?

There’s a drawback from interest rates moving higher. It’s one of the most direct things that is affected housing and car financing. But the interesting part about it was while the volumes were down, they still had revenues up on their retail segment because prices were higher 25% year over year, their average selling price. So they did a really good job of kind of managing their revenues.

But that speaks to the inflation problem, right? The Fed doesn’t care about volumes going down. If the prices are still higher. Then you kind of go to Cracker Barrel, right? Middle America in my mind is you can encapsulate middle America in a Cracker Barrel I mean, it’s kind of perfect. And when you look at their release, it’s pretty clear that they called out 65 and over dining down. Guess what? That’s highly sensitive to inflation. They cited lower income individuals dining out less. Again, highly sensitive to inflation. And they still had their comp store sales up 6%, which is pretty good. And then you read a little further in the same sentence and they’re like, and we had pricing higher by 7%, so traffic was down. So they had negative traffic at higher prices. So that is again, they’re giving up volumes to be able to push the price and grow reps.

I think this is kind of a microcosm of the US economy, right? It is a strong economy. If you can continue to push price like that on the consumers. If you can grow revenues while pushing price at those levels, that’s pretty incredible. And then it’s pretty interesting to me because there’s this whole idea that corporate America is going to slow down their price increases. Cracker Barrel basically shot that idea right in the foot by saying, hey, listen, we think wages are going to inflate 5% over the next year. That’s september to September. And then if we’re going to have comparable store sales up, right?

So guess what? They’re going to continue to push price. And that’s where I think we kind of need to take a step back and realize these inflation pressures are broadening out and they are beginning to become embedded. Their food costs, when they forecast that, I believe that number was 8%. These are significant figures, right? These are not things that we would have thought were possible five or six years ago. They’re becoming embedded. I mean, that’s 2023 that these guys are thinking that.

And just one more point going back to the CarMax report, their SG and A, their cost of doing business, we’re up 16% year over year because they hired more people and they paid them more. So you think about you grow revenues at 3%, but your costs are up 16%. I mean, that’s a pretty big problem. Again, it goes back to the two things that the Fed really wants to get under control, including inflation is two things, right? They talk about the vacancies to unemployment ratio. They need less hiring to happen and they need wages to begin wage growth, to begin to subside a little bit because that’s a tailwind consumption.

So I think you’re having a number of pieces working against the Fed that might not be showing up in the data, mostly because I think the data is kind of crap. But the best part is if you’re kind of willing to go to that microlevel  to get the macro and pull the macro out of it, these trends are not going anywhere anytime soon.

TN: So what I get out of that is I hope Cracker Barrel has digital menus. If not, I want to be their menu printer because every time I go into a restaurant, I wonder how often they change their prices, right? And basically, from what you’re saying, it sounds like they’re going to continue to push up, I don’t know, quarterly, semi annually, but they’re going to continue to push these prices up based on what’s happening in the market, and I suspect they’re not going to come back down. Oh, no.

SR: There are other ways to do it, right. You can push price by pushing less food on a plate, too. Right. So you can do some creative things on multiple fronts. Shrinkflation. The shrinkflation. But I do think that you’re not going back to anything like 2019. Right?

MK: I just want to riff off that for just a second because I participated in a real estate panel a couple of weeks ago and listening to these asset managers from around the world present. One big asset manager was basically saying that they’re still seeing essentially. Even though the rent growth is slowing down. It’s still growing for Q3 of this year where you would think that the hiking has already kind of worked its way into the system. That rent growth is still annualizing at a 10% click. So you talk about sticky.

I’ve had this thesis that it started with commodity inflation. Commodities have abated somewhat and certainly will abate more if there is an Asian contagion. Right. But the core stuff, which is what Sam is talking about, and also rents, that’s really sticky. But here’s the problem. When that stuff starts curling over, I really agree with you that if China reopens, you’re going to see a resurgence in commodity stuff again. So I call this sort of like the core energy tag team. And I think we’re going to see this tag team effect possibly for years.

SR: Oh, yeah. To rip off that I called it the COVID earthquake is going to have more aftershocks than anybody really wants to admit. 

TN: Yes, there was so much intervention. You can’t just earn it out in six months, right. Or a year. It takes so long to work that out. So that makes a lot of sense. Guys, staying on this inflation theme and Sam, you mention SG and A and wages. Meta announced yesterday that they are imposing a hiring freeze and they’re warning their employees about restructuring. 

So obviously now that as of yesterday, they’re the second most valuable company in the world with Exxon taking over. But if Meta is instituting a hiring freeze and Sam, you talked about Carvana hiring a bunch of people last quarter and their costs going up, what does that signal for tech?

I think, Sam, you showed me the site or something like that to look at layoffs in tech, there are a couple of issues which we covered with Mike Green before and you’ve talked about up befor Sam, where ad space is becoming almost infinite and these guys who are ad based have a lot of headwinds and Meta is no different. And so that’s obviously one of their headwinds.

But the SG&A cost is huge. Right. What do we need to be looking for with Meta and companies like Meta? And is this the beginning of the end of the tech wage spike?

SR: I’ll take part of that. Okay, good. Is it the end of the tech wage hike? I don’t know that is going to be the case simply because we don’t have enough people with those skills, even if we do have a pullback in the number of hires. Right? On the marketing side, yes. But on the tech hiring front of people with programming skills, et cetera, I don’t think that’s going to slow down or those are going to slow down anytime soon, at least until we have enough of them.

But maybe on the marketing side, et cetera, I would say that the Meta announcement is far more indicative of a slowdown generally in Silicon Valley startup ad spending on the marketing. That’s a problem for Meta on the margin. A significant amount of their ad revenue comes from startups.

It’s a much larger problem for a company like Snapchat. Right. There is a hierarchy of where you go to advertise and when you’re going for eyeballs. So if it’s a problem for Meta, it’s probably a much larger problem for a Snap in some of those smaller, less ubiquitous platforms. 

But yeah, it’s always going to be a question of where is Meta putting its incremental dollars, because it is making a pretty big push into the Metaverse. It’s unlikely that people are getting slashed, jobs are getting slashed there. It’s more likely that what you’re going to see is a reduction in places. They’re simply not seeing the returns that they want to see and they’re going to continue to grow the hiring base on something that’s important to them, like building out the Metaverse side of the business.

TN: Sure. Yeah. Mike, what are you seeing with tech?

MK: I don’t follow Idiosyncratic tech as much, so yes and no. I’m actually, ironically, one of my Idiosyncratic positions is actually a dyspacked ad tech company that’s in the ad arbitrage business. That’s a different type of a different type of play, but I haven’t been as focused. So I’m very interested to hear your sort of microcosmic views. Really interesting.

TN: Yeah, I think everything Sam says is spot on. I do think that in terms of the core coding skills, there’s a lot of slack there. So for example, as we talk around, because we hire developers. Some of the developers who work for some of the very large tech companies who make mid six figures, something like that, their daily code commit is something like eight lines of code. That’s it. 

Okay, so these guys are not sweatboxing code. It’s a very minimal amount of code they have to put in every day. So I think there are major productivity gains to be made on the developer side within these large tech companies. So maybe it’s not hitting yet, but I think it will hit soon as it always starts with marketing, right? It always starts with traveling expenses and then it goes further. And so I think give it a few months and we can see it go further into development.

MK: I’m curious, Sam, if what you’re seeing in the sort of tech ad slow down, how does this compare to past downturns, past cycles?

SR: It’s hard to say because we haven’t seen many significant down cycles. Because COVID wasn’t a down cycle for ad spending. It was kind of strange. Right. Social media did very well during that time frame, and social media was so young in ’08, ’09 that it’s hard to really get a read there, except you can kind of extrapolate Google. Google did pretty well in ’08 ’09. They took a lot of market share from traditional media, but that was a different age. So I would say it’s pretty hard to look back and say it’s going to be similar this way or not similar.

MK: But wouldn’t you say, though, that the ad slowdown is just across the board? It’s not as if traditional ad spending is going to start eating their lunch across the board.

TN: Real quick before we wrap up, if you can, in ten to 15 seconds, what are you looking for for the week ahead? Mike, what are you looking for next week to watch?

MK: Well, this has been a very confusing week in that I think there have been a lot of quarter inch shenanigans and window dressing. I’m still macro pretty bearish. Okay. I’m concerned that I think after the window dressing is done, I think some of the supports from the market may actually not be there. I watch bonds and commodities a lot.

TN: That makes sense. Yes, Sam?

SR: I’m just watching the Euro and what happens with TTF next week. I think that’s really important after we get through the quarter close.

TN: Absolutely. Guys, thank you so much. I know this is quick. I wish we could talk for two more hours.

I guess we got cut off at the very end there, so I really apologize for that. I just wanted to thank Mike Kao and Sam Rines for coming on The Week Ahead. Thanks, guys, so much for all that you contributed this week. And thanks to everyone for watching. Have a great weekend.

Week Ahead

European Natgas: The Week Ahead – 5 Sep 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

This week we’ve seen a lot around dollar hitting almost 110. We’ve seen a lot in the US market downturn. There’s a lot of speculation around the Fed. But we’re really focusing on Europe this week.

Key themes:

1. European Natgas Stock vs Flow

2. Russian Oil Price Cap Fallout

3. Europe’s Food and Fertilizer Fallout

4. What’s ahead for next week?

This is the 32nd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:





Listen on Spotify

Time Stamps

0:00 Start

1:51 European natgas: stocks VS flows

8:26 What to expect in manufacturing in Europe

9:26 Difficult environment for the German Finance Ministry?

10:27 Fertilizer fallout and impacts on Europe’s food supply

14:19 Is Europe getting relief soon, or will this crisis continue to 2024?

15:33 Russian oil price cap: is it going to come about?

19:12 What’s to stop countries from indirectly buying Russian crude?

22:00 What’s for the week ahead?


Tony Nash: Hi, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. Today we’re joined by Sam Rines, Tracy Shuchart and Albert Marko. We’re going through the events this week and looking toward next week.

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So this week we’ve seen a lot around dollar hitting almost 110. We’ve seen a lot in US market downturn. There’s, a lot of speculation around the Fed. But we’re really focusing on Europe this week.

The key themes this week are really around European natgas stock versus flows. Russian oil price caps and the fallout that has come with that. Food and fertilizer in Europe. And then we’ll look to the week ahead. So I think we’ll look at some non Europe activities for the week ahead.

First for European natgas, Sam Rines in his newsletter came out with some really interesting points around natural gas stocks and flows. You can see the chart on the screen. Sam, can you talk us through kind of what’s happening in storage for natural in Europe and what we should be looking for as winter approaches?

Sam Rines: Yeah, sure. So you get this really interesting dynamic where everybody talks about the stock but very few people talk about the flow. So talking about the stocks of that gas in Europe is a really interesting one. Yeah, you’ve got stocks building up pretty quickly, particularly in Germany, sitting north of 82% overall for European stocks in general, north of 80%.

So it’s good, right? Stocks seem to be well ahead of where you would anticipate. Germany has a 95 target for November. They might actually reach it even with the shutdown of Ms one, Nordstream One. It’s actually not that big of a deal incrementally to Germany in particular. You go from about call it a 3.2 kilowatt hour type pump into Germany to about a three.

You didn’t really lose that much. I mean, it was pretty much anticipated anyway. So if they keep it off

for longer, whatever. You don’t have significant usage coming through at the moment for natural gas.

It’s a time where you can actually afford to not have those significant closing. They’ll probably still have some stock bill that will just be slower.

So overall, I think it’s a lot of headlines that a lot of it’s already priced in. If you were looking at the expectations of complete and utter frozen winter, you’re pretty much not looking at that assuming that Norway and Belgium continue to put their flows through to Germany at the current rate.

So overall, you’re actually sitting on a decent call it stock level. Right? That’s fine. And as long as you continue to have the flows from call it Northern Europe, you should be okay for the winter. You’re not going to be great. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to suck. But relative to the expectation of Europe’s going to freeze this winter,

I think that might actually be a little bit of an overblown one, and you might begin to have a significant blowback on that. And you’ve seen significant declines in things like electricity pricing ahead, which is a ridiculous contract anyway. And Dutch TTF, the net gas contract you’ve seen collapse this week, even with the shutdown of Nordstream.

So I think a little bit of the froth, a little bit of that angst is beginning to come out of the market, and you might actually have a positive surprise relative to expectations in Europe.

TN: So Dutch TTF peaked on Tuesday or something, right? It was early in the week, right?

SR: Correct.

TN: And Tracy, what are you seeing with that? Do you expect us to hit back up to those peaks, and do you think that was kind of a one time hit? And what Sam saying about storage is really kind of starting to take hold.

Tracy Shuchart: I think it really depends over the long run and how slow go. I totally agree with Sam here. Right now, for winter, Europe is pretty much okay, not great, as he said, but I think given if we don’t see increased flows, that storage would drain significantly by February. So we really have to keep an eye on flows from other countries, particularly in the United States, in the Middle East, and to see how those flows go. So I think it’s too early to be completely doom and gloom, but that is something we need to be cognizant of, because that storage can only last until February.

TN: Right. And for those people who aren’t in Northern Europe, northern European winter really stays cold, really until like, April, right. It’s not something that February comes and goes and it’s spring and everything’s great. You still have cold temperatures in Northern Europe until probably April or so. Is that about right?

TS: Yeah, absolutely. Anecdotally, if you’re been on Twitter, you see a lot of people starting to buy wood. The big thing on the European sites is to post how much wood you collected before this winter. So people are sourcing. People are expecting energy prices to be high and doing whatever they can personally, to kind of lower the prices. Because you have to understand, when you’re talking about European power prices, it’s not just your solid power price. They have that almost all of their taxes on top is on top of what they actually would be paying, which is outrageous carbon, et cetera.

TN: And so I just want to go back to one point in Sam’s chart as well. I think sam, you said the storage is about 82% full or something and they’re targeting 95%, but we’re ahead in 2022 from where we were in 2021, is that right?

SR: Yeah, that is correct.

TN: Okay, so the doom and gloom that we’re hearing again, we have inflation, we definitely have shortages, but in terms of storage, we’re ahead of where we were. And we don’t expect like a mass extinction event in northern Europe because of heating or whatever, right?

SR: Correct. I think that is a good base case. That’s good for everything. No mass extinction is low bar, but yes, that’s right. 

TN: Exactly. Okay, very good. Do you have anything to add on this?

Albert Marko: I’m on middle of the road here. I do agree with Sam that they’ll be okay so long as they’re okay with no manufacturing, no growth in their economy, and so on and so forth. I mean, if they tried to kick things up and the demand starts to rise, I don’t think it will be okay. I don’t think that the Russians are going to play ball, especially when they start talking about these price caps on Russian oil and gas. It’s one of those things where economically, I can understand where Sam is coming from.

Politically, I’m inclined to say that Europeans are going to screw up and just agitate the Russians. And then you start getting into this back and forth. That economic trade and price.

TN: Let’s set the price cap aside for a minute. But when you say no manufacturing, so we’ve seen some manufacturing dial back and some facilities slow down and shutter. Is that expected to continue or do we expect that to ramp back up?

AM: I expect it to completely be just stalled for the entire winter. I just think the energy prices are so astronomically high that it’s just not economical for companies to manufacture anything.

TN: Okay, so if you’re sourcing things in Germany, then you should expect supply chain issues for the next five or so months. Is that fair to say?

AM: At least six months. And this is why I keep saying that this inflation doom loop keeps recurring because as the demand rises, there’s not enough supply and then you get back into an inflationary event. What’s the inflation rate in the UK right now? Like 20% reported. 20%? And in Germany, I think it’s like 19% and rising. It doesn’t stop.

TN: And PPI is in the 30s or something. Just to play this out, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to cover this, but if private sector is shutting down, even parts of it, then government spending has to kick up. And if government spending is kicking up and we have an ECB that’s tightening, that’s a difficult environment for the German Finance Ministry, right? Or is it no big deal then?

SR: No, I would completely disagree. I mean, Germany is one of the few countries in the world that has they could basically print their GDP and they’d still be perfectly fine on an ability to pay basis. They spent, like, three years getting paid to have debt.

TN: So very good, because, look, nobody wants Germany to suffer, right? And if government spending

has to kick up, then great. If they’re not going to suffer as a government to be able to do that, then that’s even more fantastic, because with ECB tightening, it could create some difficult trade offs for some countries in the region, of course.

So let’s take this and park it and let’s move on to fertilizer, because, of course, that’s related to natural gas.

And we have some there’s a recent Bloomberg story about Europe’s deepening fertilizer crunch. 70% of fertilizer production is halted. And then we have a chart showing the price of nitrogen fertilizer in Germany. Obviously, it looks pretty extreme. Can we cover that, Albert, and look at the impacts of fertilizer and how that’s going to hit food going into spring or summer of next year?

AM: Oh, yeah, the fertilizer, specifically what you’re talking about, nitrogen based ones, are relying on natural gas. Natural gas prices just keep on spiking over there. And again, we can continue this whole discussion about inflationary, commodity prices, but food is a big problem. They shut down their potash.

On top of that, the farmers, they’re notorious penny pinchers, whether it’s the United States, whether it’s Europe, so on and so forth. But they’re going to have to make up the nutrients for the soil in the spring of 2023 and most likely into 2024, they can’t deprive the land of nutrients.

So, of course, they’re going to have to have another round of demand for fertilizer. I don’t know about the night gas based ones, but potash certainly will have a surge.

That’s why I’ve always on Twitter have been big on Mosaic being the 800 pound gorilla outside of Morocco’s. OCP, but OPC, I think it is. But that’s not a tradable stock mosaic fertilizer. I’m very bullish on that. That’s going to relate to bigger increases in food prices, specifically in the UK.

TN: What crops in Europe would be most impacted by this?

AM: Wheat. Most likely wheat.

TN: Yeah. Okay. And where does Germany traditionally, where does it source most of its fertilizer? Is it from Russia?

AM: I believe they get most of their stuff from Belarus originally. And I know that they have potash fertilizer plants inside of Germany itself, but I’m not sure how. I don’t know the exact numbers on the importance of what they do for a fertilizer, but it’s certainly a problem specifically for Germany. Of course it’s a problem for France. It’s even bigger problem because they’re a big food producer.

TN: Okay, Tracy, you’ve said a lot about fertilizer in the past. What are your thoughts on this? Does it just get even more intense or do we see some relief on the horizon?

TS: Well, I think it does get a little bit more intensive when we just saw And, Norway’s largest fertilizer company, all kind of curve back production in various countries wherever their plants are concerned. So it’s definitely a concern. 100% agree with Albert. Going into next year is going to be a very big problem. I mean, everybody’s harvesting right now. Everything’s fine. We’ve seen big pullback in those prices. But going forward, in particular next year, we’re going to have a problem.

AM: And a lot of that, Tracy, has to do with the national governments are going to look out for their national interests, their own farmers, so that although the imports will drop, so the exports will drop and they’ll just keep it closed within their own nation, so they can feed their own people.

TN: Fertilizer nationalism.

AM: Well, it’s just the same thing with oil. I mean, the countries are not export more than they can handle.


TN: Okay, so sounds pretty dire, but do we see any relief next year? Or, like you said, is it going to go into 24, or does it all depend on Russia?

AM: I think it depends on Russia whether the Europeans and the United States come to their senses and stop trying to put their foot on the throat of the Russians. You’re hampering your own economic growth, and they’re sitting there talking about, oh, we’re going to get away from fossil fuels and do this whole new climate thing. That’s just not realistic. And I don’t think they just haven’t come to grips with that yet.

TN: I think it’s a time frame thing. Right? I mean, it’s going to take some time, and I think there’s a hybrid mix in the interim that I think we’re trying to rush.

AM: Well, that’s the point. They’re trying to rush things. When you rush things, your own people are going to suffer economically and so on and so forth. It’s just not politically. They just can’t swallow it. Some of the voters don’t swallow that. Sort of stuff. 

TN: And things break. Like Californians can’t charge their electric cars. Right. These are weird times.

Okay, great. Thanks, guys.

And then on the oil price cap, we had about this week, former Russian President Good about this week, saying that Russia just won’t deal with people who subscribe to the price cap.

And then we had Xavier Blossom, Bloomberg tweet about it, saying that he and his friends are going to agree to a price cap on beer at their local pub and that the guys at the pub don’t agree with it, which is a nice analogy, I guess.

Tracy, what are you seeing on the price cap? Is it actually going to come about?

TS: First, they just announced that they’ve been talking about this for months. Let me give a little bit of background. And they just now say there’s going to be three different kind of price caps, one for crude and two for refined products.

However, if you look at the actual G7 statement that was out today, they were pretty vague on it. Basically, they said, we invite all countries to provide input on the price cap design and to implement this important measure. So in other words, they’ve decided they’re going to do this, but not exactly holiday.

TN: It’s going to be 2030 before they come to an agreement on.

TS: it’s because. They’Re asking all their stakeholders to join in this. And so what I see as the problems with this right now is that there are four specific problems. One, it’s not really enforceable outside of G Seven countries if people don’t sign up for this. Two, Russia already said, again repeating you, that they won’t sell to countries that enact price caps. Three, part of this is the maritime insurance on vessels carrying Russian oil India is already providing safety and notification through IRGC class.

So by Dubai, subsidiary of the Russian shipping group. So I hope I pronounced that right. But anyway, they’ve already kind of gotten their way around this. And four, they’re also thinking about creating their own benchmark.

So right now, Russian crude oil is expressed as a discount to Brent because rent is the benchmark price. They already have an oil trading platform in place via RTS and MYsix. So they could build out this platform, which they’ve been talking about, and go through near Mir, which is basically their version of Swift, and completely by past that and just let market forces work.

I think this price cap is still way off from seeing the light of day. But this actually could turn out much more bullish because this price cap overlooks how Russia could influence global markets.

If they wanted to, they could opt to cut off the EU and NATO, not just G7. G Seven members shut production and raise global crude oil prices through the roof because they would take barrels off the market there by hurting the G7 nation.

I’m not saying that would happen. I’m just saying that’s within the realm of two box. And it’s not surprising after we just saw today, as soon as an oil price cap was announced as a plan, suddenly we just saw gas problem with Nordstream one, therefore I’m off of national gas.

TN: So what’s to stop, let’s say, a European country that signs onto a price cap from buying, let’s say, Russian crude that is sent to Chinese, say ownership and then resold to say, I don’t know, Germany. I mean, that type of circumvention is already happening, right?

TS: No, you can definitely do that. What we’re really seeing now is that kind of circumvention is happening in the product market. So it’s very easy for, say, India to buy Russian crude oil, refine it until it’s anywhere else because it’s very hard to track where those barrels really came from. It’s easier to track a resale. Right, if that makes sense.

TN: Sure it does. But they put in a barrel of, say, Emirati crude with a million barrels of Russian crude and then they label it Emirati crude. Right? Something like that.

TS: Yeah. If they both have the same API level, depends. You could mix them. If they both were the same exact API level, then you could mix them. It’s kind of different than, say, the natural gas market. Yeah.

AM: The Iranians do this with the Iraqi oil and bozzar. Often they mix it and label it As Iraqi 

TS: because they share oil fields. I mean, Albert and I have been talking about this for years now.

AM: Years.

TN: Let’s be honest, the rules apply to the people who abide by the rules. Right. And so even if these price caps are put in place, there will be circumvention in a big way, of course, at least a refined product, if not crude product. And so a lot of it’s for sure. Is that fair to say?

AM: Of course, yeah. A lot of it is for show. This is a political thing right now for scapegoating Russia

for inflation problems. Now they’re just snowballing things and saying Russia’s gas is the problem

 for inflation, Russia’s oil is the inflation problem, and other caps. But like I said earlier, and even just Tracy reaffirmed it’s like the moment you mentioned price caps against Russia, Moscow finds an issue, whether it’s gas, prom leak or Belarus problems, or Algeria has problems with Wagner. They create these issues all the time.

TN: Of course, anytime there are sanctions on a country, right. These things happen. Okay, very good. Thank you, guys. We spent a lot of time talking about Europe. So let’s move on to the week ahead and

what we expect to happen the week ahead.

We saw some really interesting action in markets, and last week we talked about how Palo speech, we really should have been a surprise to no one, but markets seem to kind of take it on the chin this week, acting shocked that he repeated himself again. So what do we expect going into next week? Do we expect things to kind of moderate a little bit or do we at least in equity markets, do we still expect some downward movement and also, say energy markets? We saw crude down, I think at 86 or something.

Tracy, do you expect, say, energy markets to continue to fall next week?

TS: What I would really look at, and what I’m looking at more, instead of looking at just reprice, which seems highly manipulated right now, especially going into midterms, not suggesting anything, but I think what I would start looking at is in like second and third month spreads or fourth month spreads. Right. So you really want to be looking, I think, just a couple of months down that curve a little bit. And if you start seeing because those curves are still kind of telling us that the market is very tight and curves, you can’t really manipulate as much as you can somewhat of the front line. So I think that’s where you should be looking at.  I think we’ll really get a better grasp on these markets and to see what front market is next week is OPEC meeting, right. So they were talking about cuts, right, over the last couple of weeks. That’s right. That’s all. I will be on that. That’s on the fifth.

TN: And SPR keeps going until October. So we’re only looking at November,December before we’ll see some upward pressure on prices. At least a stand up pressure.

TS: Yeah, exactly. And depending on what OPEC says, we could see an initial pull back. The general consensus is they’re not going to do anything in September. However, OPEC has been known

to give us some surprises. So just keep that in mind.

TN: That’s good all right. Very good. Sam, what are you looking for for next week?

SR: Next week I’m looking at the ECB. I want to hear how hawkish they are and how quick they’re going to go and what type of language they’re using. They’re still in the QE boat, right? They’re still buying Italy, they’re still buying Spain, they’re still buying a bunch of the southern debt periphery type debt.

So I want to hear what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and just how call it, quote, unquote, inflation-oriented. They are. They probably should be particularly versus the bank of England, who is very hawkish and likely to continue to, one, explore actually outright sales from their asset purchases to shrink their balance sheet and how quickly the relative moves are there.

I think that can create some fireworks, particularly called the Euro pound type crossed I think that could be really interesting and cross asset class could be.

TN: Do you think you should be able to surprise hawkish?

SR: Yes.

TN: You do? Okay, interesting. That would be very interesting to see. Wow. Okay. And so you think the Euro recovers a little bit on that?

SR: I think it knee jerks, yes. But the question is how long does that last? Right. That, I think, is a much more important question than the initial knee jerk. And I think over time, it would be a fade the news move.

TN: Okay, very interesting. Okay, very good. Thanks for that, Albert, close this out. What do you see for next week?

AM: The big boys come back to play from vacation. That’s right, they do. I think they’re going to start holding the market a little bit more accountable for all this bad data. And I think earnings were just atrocious when you look at what inflation was. I’m actually going to be watching though

China as we get closer to the CCP, the Party meeting, I think it’s October 16, I think XI might start announcing many stimulus packages in certain sectors. So I want to see if those materialize and what that does with commodities that are attached to them.

TN: Okay. I just want to say, with regard to the Party meeting in November, if anybody talks about reading tea leaves or any of that garbage, you’re banned immediately. Okay.

So we’re not going to imply, like, cultural mysteriousness on Chinese political processes. It’s just they’re a bureaucracy like everyone else. They make decisions like everyone else. They’re no more or less mysterious than anyone else. So I would say that for the people watching, because the people watching are going to see a lot of kind of China experts or whatever China watchers talked about how mysterious the CCP is and a lot of question marks. A lot of them are Fed talking points from the CCP spin machine. So they’re not mysterious, they’re a bureaucracy. They’re boring, just like every other country.

AM: Yeah. And the Party is I believe that Congress is October 16, not November. Yeah. So it’s closer than people realize. It’s only 30 days away, but China is going to have to probably stimulate some sectors associated with whoever is in line with the party leadership to keep them happy. So that’s what I’ll be watching next week.

TN: Yes. Very good, guys. Thank you so much. Looking forward to have a great holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you very much.

Week Ahead

Crude Oil Supply: The Week Ahead – 29 Aug 2022

Learn more about CI Futures here:

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. 

Key themes

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.

Follow The Week Ahead panel on Twitter:





Listen on Spotify:


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.

We also have a promo for our product, CI Futures. That product is $50 a month right now. You can go month to month with it, try it out. We cover about 900 assets with weekly forecasts, and we do about 2000 economic variables with monthly forecasts. So check it out. We’re transparent. We disclose our error rates for every month. So it’s good information.

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? 

SR: None.

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.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 15 Aug 2022: Europe drought: Cost, energy & industry impact

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In this episode, we talked about the European drought — and looked at the cost, energy impacts, and industry impacts. We also talked about coal and discussed more broadly energy. But more specifically coal, and what will be some of the issues around it. How will the coal issues impact refineries and other downstream activities? Finally, we looked at inflation. It’s been covered to death last week — CPI PPI — but we also put a few words in on it.

Key themes
1. Europe drought: Cost, energy & industry impact
2. Coal & energy
3. Inflation
4. What’s ahead for next week?


This is the 30th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

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Listen to this episode on Spotify:

Time Stamps

0:00 Start
0:49 Key themes for this Week Ahead
2:16 Europe drought: containers on the Rhine
4:22 How hot is Europe compared to other places?
5:25 How is France doing?
6:02 Europe’s embargo of Russian coal – will it make things worse?
7:48 The beneficiaries of Europe’s Russian coal embargo
9:32 Where’s most of the coal coming from?
10:00 Rhine River and how it affects coal and crude transport
13:00 Is there a silver lining in what’s happening in Europe?
14:16 How will the happenings in Europe impact politics in the region?
15:36 How you should be playing European equities?
16:40 Have we hit the peak inflation?
20:22 Will there be a Feb pivot?
21:17 What’s for the week ahead? Listen to the podcast version on


Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us for The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash with Complete Intelligence. We’re joined by Albert Marko and Tracy Shuchart as usual. And Sam is out this week and he’s fishing, so I hope he sends us some when he’s back. Some good fish pictures, though. Great pictures from Maine or Vermont or wherever he is. So it’s just beautiful up there.

So this week we’ve got a couple of things on top. First, we’re talking about the European drought. We’re looking at the cost, we’re looking at the energy impacts, industry impacts. Then we’re looking at coal more broadly, energy, but specifically coal, and what will some of the coal issues, how will that impact refinery and other downstream activities?

Finally, we’re looking at inflation. It’s been covered to death this week, CPI PPI, but we’re going to kind of put a few words in on it and then we’ll look at the week ahead.

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All right, so thanks very much for that. Guys, let’s dive into this for Europe. I want to look at there have been a couple of things out, stories out today about containers on the Rhine not being able to get. There’s a tweet from Bloomberg Energy that we’re showing where container companies can’t get containers up the Rhine and obviously the heat and the drought and there are a number of issues for Europe and Germany specifically.

So Albert, can you kind of go into that? And we’re going to switch to the water levels on the Rhine as well so you can see the red line is well below year to date for water levels on the Rhine.

So Albert, can you kind of help us understand what’s going on there and what the impacts are going to be?

AM: Yeah, I’ll circle back to Germany, but there are other countries that are having similar problems at the moment. You have the Italian. Italy’s pool river completely dried up. Unbelievable. The UK suffering the same effects. Heat waves are hitting France. And this is really bad timing, especially when it comes to inflation, because the commodities and energy prices are skyrocketing.

Now, they have problems for the irrigation of the crops. They have transportation down certain riverways. So the costs are just set to inflate even further from this point on.

Germany, being pretty much the economic engine of Europe right now, is just absolutely taking it on the chin month after month. And this is certainly something that they don’t really need to be happening at the moment.

The Rhine River, like you’re saying, has big effects for multiple industries, specifically energy. They just can’t get things up and down the river at the moment. And the stuff that they can get down the river, the shipping costs have gone. I don’t even know what the rate is the last time I saw this, two or three times the normal rate.

So at this point, it’s like the Europeans, they need a winter where they have a lot of snow or a lot of rain. Otherwise, they’re facing a financial crisis coming.

TN: So let me ask you this. This is going to sound pretty ignorant, but I live in Texas. It’s really hot. Florida, it’s kind of warm, a little bit beautiful. Great place to move if you’re from California. But it’s easy for us to say, “gosh, we deal with heat all the time, it’s not a big deal.” But Europe is a lot hotter than it usually is, right? So how much hotter? Celsius or? 

AM: I wouldn’t say that. Maybe the timing of the heat waves is really bad with the droughts. That’s the problem. Because it’s not exponentially hotter than it was previous summers, but it’s just the timing of it is really bad and there’s been no rainfall. Europe has always had a problem with fresh water supply, and that’s why the United States has been blessed that we have ample fresh water.

Forget about the lake meat stuff that you hear right now. I’m talking about in the farm, the Midwest, where all the farms and all the industry is ample fresh water. And Europe doesn’t have that and they are suffering for it right now.

TN: Now, the key crop… So we’ve talked about energy before and you’ve said France, they’ve kind of got their act together and they don’t have to worry like Germany or in Italy does. How is France doing compared to the other places? I’m sure they’re suffering, but are they a little bit better put together? 

AM: They are a little bit better put together. They have ample food supply that sustains their nation. I think they sold 40% of the wheat crop to China, which I think is probably going to hurt them later on in the year as the job persists. But for France right now, they’re actually sitting far better than Germany is. 

TN: Okay, great. So let’s dig down a little bit more on energy. Tracy, you mentioned before we got on that Europe just embargoed Russian coal, right? With all of the issues and the industry issues in Germany, how much worse does that embargo make things? Before we get into coal prices and all that stuff. How much worse does that make things, the embargo on Russian coal?

TS: Well, it’s just another example of self harm, right. Because we’re already seeing… Russia is already prepared for this. We’ve already seen them sell oil to China, and India makes up for those barrels that are not making it to the west. Right.

And so they’ve already been doing that with coal. Russia has actually become India’s third largest supplier within the last couple of months. And to avoid Western sanctions, they’re also paying in yuan and the Hong Kong dollar. And that’s not to say that the US dollar, they’re trading dollars for those currencies to avoid Western sanctions. So it’s not that they’re not using dollars anymore, but it is that they figured out a clever way to get around sanctions. 

TN: Just circumconvention, right? 

TS: Right. I think that just like oil, where everybody expected three to 4 million barrels to be taken off the market immediately, we never saw this come to fruition because it was such heavily discounted. Those barrels found our way to market anyway, and so is Russian coal, to be honest. So really this hurts Germany more than anything.

That said, the flip side of that is that the beneficiaries of that policy are going to be Australia, United States, Colombia and South Africa.

TN: Okay. So if we look at Australia, just to kind of focus in on there, China barred Australian coal about two years ago, a year and a half ago, something like that? So is there ample supply in Australia to support Europe? And is that new? Have they already been redirecting things to Europe?

TS: I mean, they’ve already been redirecting things everywhere else because demand has suddenly gone up. Right. And not globally. So what we’re seeing, if we look at the benchmark Australian price, which is Newcastle Coal, their prices are about 400 AUD, which is about $284. 

If we look at what current spot prices are going for in the United States, particularly on the East Coast where shipping is a lot less, we can see that those are significantly lower. So that does bode well for coal companies on the East Coast with access to ports, closer access to ports, rather than coming, say, from the Midwest or the West Coast.

TN: So we’ve got the weekly coal price commodity spot prices for us up right now. So the highest there is 186 for Illinois Basin coal. Right. So where is most of that coal coming from? Is it Appalachia? Is it Joe Manchin territory?

TS: You’re going to want to look at Appalachia. Okay. They’re closest to the East Coast, which means your shipping costs significantly go down because you don’t have to ship it across the country first. Clean coal. Yes.

TN: So that does bode well for the United States, just because it’s significantly lower. But I kind of wanted to go back and in the same vein, if we go back to the Rhine River. The fact is that because water levels are so low, they’re about 1.5 meters deep right now. That will sit around 1.2 meters deep. It sits in about 30cm leave room. At the lowest levels right now, where there’s nobody traveling, obviously, they’re about 42cm. Actually, the lowest was in the lowest in the last century was in 2018, where they were about 25cm.

But what’s happening is because, what’s happening with the energy industry in general, because we’re talking there’s a lot of oil products sent down that river as well as coal, is that what these vessels are having to do is they’re having the third with what they’re normally carrying.

TN: So. If you had a vessel that went down and you’re paying X amount of dollars, now you have three vessels going down because you have to split that into a third because those water levels are so low. There’s more demand, there’s higher shipping costs, lower capacity. So those shipping costs are times, what, five or something per unit per ton.

TS: Or are absolutely ridiculous. And then when we talk about like low river levels, they typically impact regional, downstream, refined products. Right. Rather than upstream. So this is going to have a major impact, particularly in Switzerland and Germany again. So this is going to increase the cost of their refined product, particularly diesel, which there’s already a diesel shortage. So I expect that situation to get ten times worse as well as coal and other commodities that are sent out the river.

TN: Okay, so just to shift a little bit downstream. So if you talk about refined products and then we go a step further to say, plastics and that sort of thing. And we look at say, the electronics industry in Germany. We look at automotive industry in Germany. So do we expect a major impact on those industries as well? And at what pace will that happen? Will that be three months? Will that be nine months?

TS: Oh, absolutely. I think that’s going to have a major impact, especially because we’re already looking at those industries, looking to a lot of the manufacturing industry in particular are looking to go from gas to oil switching or gas to diesel switching. 

So if diesel becomes a problem, right. And oil becomes a problem coming down the river, that’s going to make that situation entirely worse. So we’re looking at this situation, I would say three to six months, much sooner than later for certain, especially as we head into the winter.

TN: Oh yeah. So it sounds to me we know that Europe has inflation problems. Right. We know that Europe has energy problems with the river issues and the drought issues. They now have crop problems and they have supply chain problems and they have, say, secondary impacts of, say,  refining secondary, tertiary impacts of refining issues. Right?

So I’m not asking this to be funny, like is there good news out of Europe? Or is there a bright spot in Europe right now? 

AM: No, there really isn’t. There really isn’t. Everything coming out of Europe right now is negative. The ECB came out today and said they’re not going to raise any more rates until next year and they’re looking at a secondary inflation event, causing bigger problems for the European Union and the UK. I don’t want to leave the UK out of it because they got drought issues and transportation inflation issues to deal with all, but there’s no silver lining for the next six to twelve months, in my opinion.

I think the euro is actually going to go down to 95 subparity for quite a while. 

TN: This year? 

AM: At the end of the year and into next year. Okay, so let me ask a couple of questions about markets and politics in Europe. First of all, how will this environment impact European politics in the near term? I expect the German coalition to break apart probably sooner than later. These inflationary effects are going to cause big problems. I mean, just the energy costs alone in Germany, God help them if they see frozen Germans dying, elderly people dying over the winter. It’s just a political nuclear bomb over there.

TN: Okay. Italy, places like that, obviously? 

AM: Italy is a disaster. Italy has always been a disaster. It’s just like their government’s rise and fall with the wind.

TN: UK, same? Do you think we’ll have a very short term government form and then it will fall away next year or something like that?

AM: Yeah, I believe one year. One year will last about a year. The French government is a little more stable, but even then McCrone lost the majority there. But Europe right now is in turmoil. The Dutch. Same problems with the Dutch. All these coalitions that have slim majorities are just going to start breaking apart. Okay, so ECB has kind of lost its backbone. European politics is in disarray. The Euro is likely to devalue or depreciate to 95.

TN: How are you playing, in a broad sense, equities in Europe? Do you think it’s a real danger zone for the next six months? Or again, are there broad equities? 

AM: When, there’s blood in the water you want to start buying. I would look at what’s systemically important to the European Union, like Deutsche Bank, French Bank Societe Generale, BASF.

These systemically important components to the economy have to be shored up so they’ll get bailouts

of support or whatnot and stimulus packages. That’s where. I’d be buying probably in January, February. 

TS: I think we’re already seeing a ton of bailouts, particularly in utilities right now. And so obviously those are going to help those stock prices. And so I expect we just hit the tip of the iceberg with Unifer. Right. And there’s a lot more to come. Those are the sectors that I would be watching.

TN: Wow, that’s pretty bad news. Okay. 

AM: It’s almost to the point where European equities will be cheaper than Chinese equities. That’s what we’re getting to.

TN: Okay, that’s good to know. We’ll keep an eye out for that. Okay, let’s move on to inflation. So everyone’s covered CPI and PPI this week. Please don’t turn off the show right now. We’re going to say something, but I did a survey yesterday. Very scientific, very statistically valid, Twitter survey yesterday looking at in light of CPI and PPI, where do we think Fed rates will go? And it’s pretty much a tie between 75 and 50. So I wonder, guys, we heard for days. There was zero month-on-month inflation, right? CPI inflation. And we saw negative. PPI. These are the things that you look at when there’s hyperinflation. We can’t find good news in the year on year. So let’s look at incremental data. So do you think we’ve hit peak inflation in the US?

AM: No. Secondary effect of inflation coming, mainly because the Fed started to rally this market for political optics. Commodities are rising. I mean, they’ve tried so hard to keep oil and wheat down, and it just simply will not break certain levels. It just won’t go down. Stay in 80s for the oil. It won’t break 750, 770 in wheat. And they just can’t do it. They have to go after these things, but they can’t during the election season.

TN: Okay, so you bring a good point with crude oil. There has been a lot of attention and work to keep crude oil prices and gasoline prices down. Tracy, how long can that happen? Because really, a lot of the zero or negative is in energy, right?

TS: Exactly. And I think what we’re seeing a lot here especially if you look at the front line, is I think we have a lot of things going on right now with the fact that as much Russian crude oil wasn’t taken off the market that people initially thought. There were recession fears. The SPR garage are really starting to weigh on that front month. So there’s a lot of things going on here that are kind of weighing on that front month. Plus open interest is nothing. And we also have China is still on their zero COVID policy and hasn’t opened up yet. So there’s a lot of things weighing on that the market right now. That said is that as soon as the SPR stops, which is end of October, coincidentally near in the Midterms.

Once that stopped and I still think Xi is going to have to open up China somewhat near the People’s Party Congress. And so I think that looking into the end of 2022 and into 2023, we definitely could see those higher oil prices again regardless of what the Fed does.

TN: Okay. Now, compound that real quick, compound those oil prices rising with the cost of rent going up astronomically and I don’t know what magic they’re going to be able to pull to keep CPI under 10%. What month? Like October, November, December?

AM: October, November. December. Okay. Smack in the middle of the Midterms. And they got to be seeing this. They have to be seeing it. If they’re not seeing it right now, it’s purely because the White House is interfering and wants politically driven news for the markets right now. 

TN: Okay, so do you think like a slight pivot to 50 basis points in September is possible or likely and then that eases up,  helps markets out, goose’s markets going into the Midterms and then we start to see this inflation rush come on and say late October, November?

AM: Well, first of all, we have to see what Powell says at Jackson Hole. Whether he’s dovish or hawkish. This rally makes me think that he’s going to have to be hawkish. Right. And then we’re still looking at probably a 50 basis point rate hike in September and after that I don’t want to even project what happens after that because it really depends on what CPI is going to be printing.

TS: Agree with that. 

TN: Okay, perfect guys. So you’re talking about markets rallying. Let’s talk about the week ahead. Equities have done pretty good this week, right? And commodities have done pretty well this week as well. So what are we looking for next week? You say volume is thin. Okay. So do we have another thin

volume week next week? Markets get goose, people feel good and then they come back the following week and we see some drama? What are you expecting?

AM: Yeah, I think that they could take this up closer to 4320 in the S&P. I think that’s the 200-day moving average, if I’m not mistaken. So they could take it up to there. But I’ll tell you what, looking at some of the order books on the S&P on the Futures, there is a boatload of sellers from 4260 to 4300. That boatload of them. 

TS: Yeah. It’s summer, right? Theres… Next week is the same as this week. You’re not going to see much until we hit September and fund managers and everybody’s back from their holidays. So I think we’ll see much of the same. The thing is that retail keeps trying to short this, which is kind of just a fuel to push this market higher because of liquidity issues. I think next week will be kind of the same. I’m not looking for outside of any disastrous thing happening, which hope not. But I think we’re going to stay in this well probably throughout the rest of August.

TN: And one of the things that I want to start thinking about, this isn’t the week ahead, but this is kind of the months ahead. I wonder if what happens if Russia Ukraine gets settled in October, November? That changes calculations pretty dramatically. So I’m starting to work on that hypothesis as well.

AM: Yeah, it depends on what a settlement is and whether Western sanctions still continue to bite the Russians, which are obviously going to retaliate economically. So a lot of the definitions need to be dealt with there.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 23 May 2022

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The SPX was down 4%, WTI was up 2.8%, and the 10-year yield was down 2.9%. Intraday vol has been an issue all week. What’s going thru an institutional trader’s mind in this market? Sam Rines explains.

On the commodities market, wheat was down 6% this week. Corn ended this week down about 1%. We’ll help you understand ag and fertilizer markets with Tracy Shuchart.

The dollar (DXY) is down a bit this week, about half a percent. Are global central bankers worried about a rising dollar and is there anything they can do about it? Albert Marko gives his insights on this.

Key themes:

1. How are institutions trading the intraday vol?

2. Ags and fertilizer: Demand Destruction vs Supply Shortages

3. $USD 💪 – 🙂 or ☹️


This is the 19th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:





Listen on Spotify:


TN: Hi everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash, joined as always by Sam Rines,

Albert Marko, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get into it, please, please like and subscribe. Please like and subscribe.

Also, we just started our new CI Futures promo. You get your first three months free. Get global markets, currencies commodities economics with CI Futures. Check it out at 

So guys, this week S&P was down 4%. So I think some people are relieved it wasn’t down more. WTI was up almost 3% and the 10-year yield was down 2.9%. So I think it was a little more tame, at least by the end of the week than some people thought it might be, which probably not helpful to everybody, but I think it helped people a little bit, just kind of get a grip on things.

So our key themes this week, first, how are institutions trading this market and more specifically kind of Intraday Vol?

For AGS and Fertilizer. Is it demand destruction or supply shortages or both? How are those playing out?

And for the US dollar strength? Are global central banks happy about it or sad about it?

So today for our first segment, Sam, if you can help us understand this. Intraday vol has been an issue all week and for the past couple of weeks. What’s going through an institutional traders mind in this market We’ve got a tweet and there was a great thread from Kris Sidial. I definitely recommend reading it. So can you walk us through that a little bit, Sam, what they’re thinking about and what institutional traders are doing?

SR: Sure. I would say what they’re thinking about is not losing money, particularly after you had the target earnings, Walmart earnings. There were some landmines out there in individual retail land. That brought up some call it concerns about the consumer. It brought volatility into places you hadn’t really seen volatility recently. So staples began to really get a little more volatile. In particular, they were more volatile than the S&P500 for the back half of the week. So you began to see call it the volatility spread on underlying issuer basis, but not necessarily really spiking at the headline index level.

TN: So traders are trying to keep it flat, right?

SR: They’re keeping their risk very tight. There’s quite a bit of blood in the streets, so to speak, particularly those trading rates and individual equity names. So yeah, I would say it didn’t look like it was that volatile, but the intraday vol was incredible and it took a lot of the risk out of the system. It’s worth noting that a lot of the risk managers out there aren’t looking at day to day vol. They’re looking at Intraday Vols, PNLs. So you’re likely to get a shoulder tap Intraday if you’re playing these markets with too much leverage.

TN: You tap out at like 2:00 PM or something because of your positions? Is that what happens?

SR: Or you just have to unwind one that you like. Right. If you put on a S&P future trade early in the morning and you get 100 point move Intraday in the S&P, you’re going to get blown out of that position pretty quickly. Right. You have to have really tight stop loss limits. That’s it.

TN: Albert, what are you seeing?

AM: Well, the Fed has done a marvelous job of erasing excess wealth out there, excess money. Not just from retail. Retail is dead in the water right now. But even institutional wise, a lot of funds just been obliterated for the past month and a half now? The problem becomes liquidity. And where is it? I’m looking at the order book on the e-minis, and it’s just there’s nothing there. There’s nothing on the buy side,

nothing on the… Nothing. So these massive 100 point moves, I mean, of course, we’ve never seen anything like this, but if you look at the problem with liquidity there, it makes perfect sense.

TN: So, Albert, from a hedge fund world perspective, do you think we’re going to see some hedge funds cleaned out? Obviously, Melvin, we know that story. But are we going to see some issues there with some funds?

AM: Without question, you’ll see a lot of them unwinding by the end of the year. I know a few personally that have closed up shop or in the process of closing up shop. And I can’t imagine there’s at least 25% more that’s out there that are in some serious trouble. I mean, redemptions will start taking off clients that were sold, big tech names in a zero rate economy, they’re gonna be calling every single day what’s

going on for returns, and there’s none to be found right now.

TN: Yeah.It’s tough to get things out right now. Okay, good. Thanks for that. Let’s move on to our second topic.

Tracy, wheat was down 6% this week. Corn ended down about 1%. We got an interesting viewer question from Thomas Sieckmann, who’s a regular viewer. Can you help us understand AG and fertilizer markets. Thomas is saying, “love to hearyour thoughts on AG commodities. Demand destruction versus supply shortages, fertilizer prices and shortages, drought, lots of cross currents.” Can you help us understand kind of those markets a bit better?

TS: Sure. Well, first, I don’t think you’re going to see demand destruction even at higher prices,

because people need to eat. Right.

TN: Eating is good. Yeah, right. We can agree on that.

TS: The thing is what I think we’re going to see a structural shift in the market, whereas you’re going to see different crops being produced over other crops. In other words, if we look at, say, wheat, for example, what’s happening right now is that wheat crops are being produced more because it’s easier to do, less energy intensive, and that’s going to make a problem on the corn market. Not necessarily in the United States. I would single out the United States as it is kind of a different market altogether?

But if we look at the global markets, where I think this is headed. We’re going to see shortages in areas where you didn’t think so. Right.

We’re all scared about wheat because of obviously Ukraine and Russia and then being major producers, et cetera. But that is going to, in turn, affect the corn market, global production and what those crops are, what crops are being produced globally, if that makes sense. I think that’s what we need to be on a lookout for.

And things like rough rice. Rice. Rice is going to, because nobody wants to put wheat and corn into, say, animal food anymore. Right. Rice is much cheaper. So I would look for rice to go much higher because

they’re going to use that to replace something like animal feed.

TN: Interesting. Okay.

So we’ve seen political instability in Sri Lanka, especially over the past couple of weeks, and part of that is just terrible government. Part of that is weak currency and food affordability. How far do you think this goes? Does it get extended to a lot of other countries, or is there a few other countries that this gets exposed to? Both you and maybe Albert, if you guys can both jump in on this.

TS: Yes, I think it extends. We’re already seeing that name around. Right. We’re already seeing protests in Iran, and I think that this is going to continue, especially in emerging markets. Right. So I think this is nothing new. I think we should expect more of this and be reminded of when we saw the Arab Spring. It all started because of food. Right. So that’s something that we need to pay attention to, in my opinion.

AM: Yeah, I agree with Tracy. Some of the emerging markets are going to be the most hardest hit. It’s funny, because four or five months ago when my client and I were sitting there discussing what countries to look at to invest in, and one of the key components is which ones are stable in their food supply.

I mean, the United States. But France is actually quite stable. I think that they can actually make quite a play for the European Union’s leadership over Germany going forward, specifically because they’ve got enough food to sustain themselves.

As for the other countries…

TN: That’s a good point, Albert. I hadn’t thought about that. But that’s a really good point about France.

AM: Yeah. Well, I mean, they got their own food. They have a big agricultural industry, they’re

top in the world, and they’re self sufficient. And they have water from the Alps, too. So they have everything they need for themselves. So they’re pretty isolated from this.

But you look at Spain, they’re in trouble. North Africa, they’re in significant trouble. Sri Lanka won’t be the first looking for at least a dozen more instances of that happening around the world.

TN: So we have a summer of new government.

TS: I’m looking towards Brazil and Argentina, even though everybody kind of hates those markets right now, is if we look at their agriculture? Their agriculture is robust. And so I think that in the end, that will serve them from an investment standpoint if you’re looking to invest in.

AM: But the only problem with Argentina is so I mean, their government is just absolutely atrocious. And then the Brazilian. High risk. And Brazilians have a big election coming up, and that’s going to be extremely contentious. So I would stay away from those two until after those elections happen and whatnot. 

But yeah, I mean, Brazil, they have fertilizer, they have fruits, they have sugar cane, a lot

of chicken, a lot of soybeans, a lot of meat.

TN: Okay, perfect. Let’s move on to the next topic. Albert, we got a question from Gary

Haubold, who’s a regular viewer. He’s talking about the dollar and how central banks. There’s gossip that central banks are getting nervous about a strong dollar. So dollars up or down, sorry, a little bit this week, but how worried are global central banks about the dollar?

Of course, you have, say, the North African or Brazilian or other kind of fairly shaky monetary markets. But if you look to, say, European or developed Asia or some of those other markets, how worried are those central bankers about a strong dollar?

AM: Well, I just want to isolate this between just the United States and Europe right now, because that’s only really what matters to the market back in the United States. A strong dollar for the Europeans is not good. It’s just absolutely not good. It would be good if the Euro was falling. They had exports to send to China, but they don’t have that anymore. So now they have dollar liabilities that are getting out of control. And I think that the Europeans, I’ve heard whispers inside the Fed and treasury that they’re worried about a European financial crisis. And it makes perfect sense. If they want to get the markets down, blow up Europe, that’s the best way to do it.

TN: But I thought we’ve had a financial crisis in Europe since about 2012.

AM: Yes, but we have it every five or ten years because Europe is a welfare state. It’s a welfare state that lives on Fed swaps. Right. That’s all it is. And I don’t want to insult the Europeans on here, but let’s just get real here. Without Chinese exports, they’ve got nothing.

TN: Sam, what do you think about that?

SR: Yeah. If China doesn’t open up soon, it is going to be extremely problematic for Europe. That would be the saving grace in a lot of ways to Europe for a strong dollar. Other than that, there’s going to have to be some sort of interesting talk down to the dollar, either from treasury or some hawkish comments coming out of the ECB. And you’d begun to hear the ECB be a little bit more hawkish recently. If they really want the dollar to abate, they’re going to have to get more hawkish.

TN: Yes, for sure. And on your China point, I saw a story this week that the Shanghai Port was at about a 90% capacity at some point this week. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. But I saw it in a legitimate newspaper so let’s see how long that lasts.

TS: I was going to ask you, Tony. From a China perspective, how do you look at this opening? Do you think Shanghai is really opening like they say it is or is this hearsay or, can you give us a little bit of insight on kind of the China situation right now because that makes a huge difference in demand for energy and materials?

TN: Sure. Absolutely. So I sure want it to open because I want both China and the rest of the world to thrive but because of a lot of domestic considerations, COVID or monkey pox or whatever it is. I don’t know. They’re just lifting it slowly. 

But we talked about this in detail on last week’s show but I really don’t think they’re going to open to any interesting degree until mid summer. Maybe later. I wish they would open tomorrow but they won’t. I think for a lot of reasons they’re kind of getting in their own way and I’ve said this many times China needs to be saved from China. It’s just such terrible management of the country and has been for 50 or more years

and they’re potentially going back into the great famine type of environment which I worry about a lot and that would be detrimental to everybody around the world.

TS: That makes sense.

TN: So on that happy note, thanks so much for taking time for the show, guys. Really appreciate that. Have a great week ahead. Thank you very much.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 16 May 2022

The number one issue for Americans is inflation. As long as this is a top consideration, the pressure will be on the Fed to bring it down. Sam has been pretty consistent with 3 x 50 rate hikes in May, June, and July. What changed in trading today? Is everyone still bearish? Samuel Rines explains.

Also, what’s next for crypto? Luna fell from $90 last Thursday to $0.00005952 on Friday. Their circulation went from 4 billion yesterday to 6.5 trillion today. Watching the crypto fallout is terrible – lots of people have lost lots of money in this supposedly immutable “currency”. Albert Marko explains what happens next.

Lastly, is China really falling apart? We’ve seen some unsettling posts over the past several weeks out of China. From lockdowns to port closures to gossip that Xi Jinping has been sidelined.

Key themes:

  1. Is everyone a bear now?
  2. What’s next for crypto?
  3. Is China really falling apart?

This is the 18th episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Listen to this episode on Spotify:


TN: Hi and welcome to the Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash, and as usual, we have our team, Sam Rines and Albert Marko. Tracy, who’s not with us today.

Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It helps us a lot get visibility, and it really helps you get reminded when a new episode is out so you don’t miss anything.

Gosh. Big week for everyone. I wish I had fallen asleep a week ago and just woken up now after Friday’s trading. But it’s been a big week all around for everyone.

Guys, we really have a lot to talk about this week. We’re covering the markets. Is everyone a bear now? That’s one of our big topics that we’ll have Sam lean on. Next is what’s next for crypto? A lot of action on crypto, a lot of scary things happening with crypto and then some news out of China or speculation out of China. We’re asking, is China falling apart?

So Sam, let’s start with you first. I guess one of the most relevant items I’ve seen circulating and it was in your newsletter today is the top issues for Americans on the screen right now.

It’s clearly inflation. As long as that’s a top consideration. The pressure on the Fed to bring inflation down is huge. So you’ve been pretty consistent with three times 50 basis point hikes for May, June and July. What’s really changed in trading today? And is everyone still bearish?

SR: Yeah. I mean, everyone still seems to kind of be floating a little bearish, but I kind of like to go back to the number one concern is inflation. We shot ourselves in the foot and then the second one is getting shot in the head, right. It’s violent crime and crime. You add those two together and it’s even larger portion of inflation. So it’s safety and food. Right.

People like to eat and they want to be able to eat and they want to feel safe. I think it’s that simple. Those should be the top two concerns in this type of environment when you have the data pointing towards continuing higher inflation numbers and continuing crime.

On the is everyone a bear front? I think it’s a little complicated, right.

Because if you look at the flows into and out of indices and into and out of fixed income, and when you look at the flows, it’s easy to kind of say everyone’s a bear. Right. Pouring money into Treasuries, taking money out of indices. But at the same time, underneath the surface, you really want to be careful on what you’re a bear on and what you’re not.

There’s a lot of things that can still make money in this environment, oil, food, etc. can still make money. And there’s a lot of things that are probably still going to get torched. Anything that’s a little high beta is probably not the place you want to be for the whole time. Tradable but unlikely to be a long-term type trade.

TN: Like, I noticed some of the techs coming back today, and that’s great. And I hope people don’t lose more there. But is that something that you would consider kind of be careful if you’re going back in type of trade?

SR: Some of it. Not all of it. There’s a lot of tech that actually looks fairly attractive here, whether it’s from a valuation perspective or whether it’s from a very long term perspective.

A lot of stuff re-rated, re-rated fast, and it looks attractive. And there’s a lot of stuff that looks like it’s probably going bankrupt. Right. I wouldn’t be trying to bottom tick Carvana.

AM: Actually to expand on that, Sam, about who’s a bear and bears or Bulls or whatnot. I kind of think that we have to separate the higher great institutions versus the retail dip buyers that are just looking for that get rich, quick return. Many of the institutions, the ones I’ve talked to, are absolutely still bearish. They don’t see real value in this economy until the market until 3700.

Coincidentally, one of the hedge fund guys told me at 3500, you have an actual financial crisis in the United States just because everything’s leveraged up. So I don’t think that the Fed was even going to want to afford or going down past the 38, 3700, in my opinion.

SR: In 100% of that, Albert. Right. You have to separate those two teams of people. Right. The dip buyers are going to try every single time to get rich quick. Real long term allocators are going to take their time here. They’re not going to rush and, those are very large positions they have to take. And they don’t get to move in and call it for two or three weeks. They have to move in for very long periods of time.

So it’s Albert’s point. I don’t think that should be underrated, period.

AM: You can just look at the valuations of some of these companies that are still out in the stratosphere, like one of the ones I’ve recommended, Mosaic, Tight and Tire. They’re just ten fold of what they were in 2020. How do you buy these things? You can’t buy these things.

TN: Right. We’ve seen a lot of chatter about margin calls over the past week and a half. Obviously, that’s been scary for the first wave of kind of people going in. But when that second wave hits, when does that start to hit that second wave? Once we go 3800 or lower? So is that when things get really scary?

AM: Actually, I think part of the margin calls happened this week, today, actually Friday. I think a lot of guys had a liquidate positions and cover shorts and whatnot. And we got a little bit of a squeeze of a rally. I didn’t really feel like a Fed was pumping just thought like people short covers and people trying to get stuff off the board.

TN: Right.

SR: 100%. That’s where I think. I don’t think you want to be in front of a wave of liquidation for let’s call it sun and Ark, right? You do not want to be in front of either one of those two right now, period.

TN: Yeah, it was nice to have a Green Day, but it didn’t necessarily feel like a strong Green Day.

Okay, guys, let’s move on to crypto. Albert, I think you’re the man here. You’ve talked about crypto for a long time. It’s bad. This week is bad. And we’ve got a chart for Luna.

Luna fell from $90 last Thursday to 5, 10 thousand of a cent today, I think. Their circulation went from 4 billion yesterday to 6.5 trillion today. So it doesn’t sound very immutable to me. So the watching crypto fallout, it’s been pretty terrible. Lots of people have lost lots of money and people are questioning and cynical about words like immutable now.

This is something that I think experienced people have expected. But what happens next? Do we have a clearing out of some of these currencies? Do people just hold at 5, 10 thousand of a cents? Do we see some of these actually become currencies or is it all just going to get regulated and kind of thrown out the window?

AM: Well, are they going to be currencies? No, they’ll never be currencies. The dollar is going to be the currency of the world status for trade for the remainder of our lifetimes, whoever is alive today. That’s just the basic fundamental fact that you have to come to grips with.

This is like part one of the closing call for cryptos in my opinion. They got a good dose of the reality that when things need to get liquidated, you’re not liquidating residential towers in Miami on your portfolio. You’re liquidating some Ponzi scheme cryptos that are in your pocket that your clients really made you get into to begin with.

From the retail side, as much as I want to gloat, because I’ve been saying that this was going to happen for years, it’s really not that funny because you had guys out there pushing these crypto things and saying the dollar is dying, gold is dying, digital future, blah, blah, blah. Look at this chart, look at that chart. But the reality is there are nothing but pump and dump schemes. And people lost a lot of money.

I had a friend that goes to school, his daughter goes to school with my daughter. And he told me months ago I put everything to Litecoin for the College fund. I tried to reason with this guy.

TN: Please don’t do that.

AM: Yeah, well, community college for that kid.

TN: Albert, they’re following the lead of some, analysts are credible. They have a credible history and they’ve really started pushing this stuff. Now they’ve dialed it back. But some people who had previously been credible analysts were pushing this stuff.

AM: They’re liars. They’re all liars.

SR: Had been.

AM: They’re trying to get services sold and people to watch their YouTube channels and get subscriptions up. So of course you’re going to go and sit there and try to pump crypto to the retail crowd because they don’t know any better, right?

SR: And anyone who looked if you really dug into the Luna situation, you could understand very quickly how that could unwind in a way that was dramatic. This wasn’t even constructed as well as a pre 2008 money market fund. At least you knew what the money market fund held behind it and how it was going to actually return money to you.

With Tether, it’s supposed to be a crypto ish money market fund. We still don’t know what that actually holds. The whole thing to me is regrettable to Albert’s point, right. The two of us kind of got picked on when we giggled off paying for oil in crypto earlier this year. But the two of us have been kind of like, “no, not so much.” So while it’s tempting to kind of have that little bit of a cocky grin.

It’s a really sad situation and there’s a lot of money that got shredded very quickly there.

TN: Very quickly in less than a week. It’s insane how much money. If anybody who follows me on Twitter knows that I invest in some Doge last year, stuck with it for a few months, got out I did it because it was a joke of a coin. Everyone knew it was a joke of a coin. I wanted to be on part of the joke, and I made some money at it. And that’s it, right? That’s it. You can’t necessarily think of this stuff as a serious investment because it’s so highly unregulated and people engage in this pump and dump stuff.

AM: Yeah. We can have a conversation on this for hours. This is actually at the heart of the problem of the US economy at the moment. All these gig employee, all these gig employees service industry and jobs and whatnot, they left work got into crypto. Got stimulus checks, sat at home, kept getting unemployment, not going to work, and now we’re stuck with the labor shortage in reality. I don’t care what the Fed says and what Yellen says about the market. The labor market is good. The labor market is absolute trash right now. We have no workers anywhere right now. And because. Yeah, this is part of it.

TN: So that’s a good question. With crypto, kind of at least temporarily, maybe permanently dying, does that help the employment picture? Does that help people come back to market even a little bit?

AM: People had tens of thousands of dollars in a Coinbase account that are now $500. They’re going to have to go back to their jobs. And that’s just the reality of it. If you want me to go even a step further, this is probably the intent of the Fed and the treasury is to start eliminating this excess money, forcing people back to work.

SR: Yeah. Oh, 100%. In one of my notes this week that Tony, I think you saw, I sent out the video from SNL of Jimmy Carter saying, hey, get 8% of your money out of your account and light on fire. Guess what? The Fed just did that for millennials.

TN: Yeah.

SR: It’s that simple. The Fed just lit at least 8% of millennial money on fire, generally. Right. And it’s unlikely to come back that quickly. And I think if it wasn’t a direct policy, it was a side effect that the Fed sitting there going, oh, well, that works.

AM: I guarantee I talk to a lot of people. It was a direct policy. I don’t care. I’ll throw the Fed under the bus. They deserve to be thrown under the bus anyways.

TN: Well, yeah, it is where it is. And I would assume more regulations coming at some point because people will scream, especially with Coinbase.

I think it’s Coinbase or one of the exchanges saying that they’re going to undo a lot of the trades over the last two or three days.

AM: Okay.

TN: There are no regulations at all.

SR: Just call them the LME.

TN: Yeah, exactly. So crypto is the LME now, and it’s insane. So a lot of consumer protections are going to be talked about. A lot of regulations going to come in. I think that party is pretty much over.

AM: Yeah. Once the regulations started coming in from Congress and different governments in the world, they’re going to see how false their idea of decentralization really was.

TN: Yeah. Okay, guys, let’s move on to China. We’ve seen a lot over the past few weeks and really gossipy stuff about China. But today I saw a note from Mike Green on Twitter, which is on screen talking about Xi Jinping and Li Kaqiang, and Xi basically being sidelined on May 4.

I also saw another tweet yesterday, a guy going through Shanghai during the lockdown. If you haven’t seen it, the first of the thread is on the screen now. Check it out. It’s really interesting.

China is empty and it’s really sad.

So we’ve seen these really unsettling posts over the past several weeks out of China, from lockdowns to port closures to gossiping Xi as sidelined. So to you guys, what does that all mean? Is it something you’re taking seriously? Do you think it’s something that will have immediate effects? What does that look like to you?

AM: China. China is a big quagmire in itself. It’s such a large country. You’re going to have all sorts of rumors of Xi being sidelined and unrest in different cities like Shanghai and whatnot. But the Chinese are pretty pragmatic. They know that things are not going really well. So they’re going to have to lift off they’re going to have to lift off some of these just draconian policies with locking down people because it’s going to really hurt their economy. And part of it’s probably because they’re fighting inflation, too. They’re trying to cut down demand until supplies catch up. I mean, they got problems over there with inflationary issues.

TN: Also with the deval, with the port closures, with a lot of other stuff that’s happening there, their economy is already host. Right. They’re definitely not hitting 5.5, which is their target this year. And I think they’ll be lucky to have a zero growth year.

But I think Albert, on the political side, a lot of this kind of theater that we’re seeing play out on Weibo and Twitter and other things. Do you think this is plausible?

AM: Of course it’s plausible. I mean, you have the vultures circuit around Xi right now. They want him out. You have one elite group keeping him in power. But most likely have three or four other elite groups within the CCP that want him out. There’s no question about that. He can’t even go out in public.

TN: That’s an important thing that many people don’t think about is there are parties within the party. The CCP is not a unified party. There are factions within the party. Many Westerners don’t understand that. There are definitely factions within the party, and they’ll stab each other in the back in a second.

AM: There’s factions everywhere you go. People try to, China as a one rule or one party, one system, but even the United States, you have the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, the Progressive, so on and so forth. I mean, it’s all fragmented no matter what you do.

TN: Yeah, Sam. So China is second largest economy, ports closed, people in their houses, all of that stuff. So how long can they do this before it affects everybody or has it already started doing?

SR: Oh, it’s already affecting everything. The supply chains are already completely ruined because of it. There’s no question about that. I think the real question is what happens when they reopen, right?

We’ve got oil sitting at $109 and half a China is shut down. That is something that doesn’t, I mean, it’s kind of scary, right? You have a bunch of people that aren’t using as much as they should be right now. You begin to spin that back up. That could be a really interesting scenario overall. I don’t know.

AM: You know, Sam, that actually loops back to what you were talking about the Fed trying to fight inflation. No matter what policy they come up with, there’s still supply chain shortages and labor and everything that no matter what they do, they can’t fix.

SR: Their host. It’s an amazing world where you have half the Chinese, let’s just click through. Half the Chinese economy is shut down. You have the US dollar sitting at 105, 106 somewhere in there, and you have oil sitting at 110. Anybody who’s saying oil prices look a little toppy here might want to look at what happens when the dollar falls and China’s going.

AM: That’s what we’re going to have inflation in the five to 7% range for the next 18 months. I can’t say lower than that.

TN: 18 months, you say?

AM: 18 months. How are they going to get it lowered? China opens and then what? You know what I mean? And then you still have shortages everywhere. I mean, go to some of the stores. They have baby formula shortages.

On any given day, you have small materials you need from the home short. Everywhere. That’s going to create artificial inflation. On top of that, you have wage inflation. How do you get that down?

SR: The only way you get it down is having less employees. Look at Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley has started laying people off, and that’s not getting enough. It’s more than just Carvana.

AM: And then that’s the thing. Later in this year, Democrats and Joe Biden can have a real big problem unemployment numbers, starting to creep up. They can’t hide that forever with the BLS manipulation.

SR: Look at the household number. The household number is already not looking great. And that’s the one that they choose not to hide for a reason. Yeah, sure, the establishment is up, but you look at that household number and it’s printing negative already, guys.

TN: Yeah. One more thing I want to cover is this has to do with China shut down and it has to do with the possibility of political instability in China. So there are two separate issues. The newsletter today talked about reshoring.

So these things seem to provide more instability and a lack of reliability of Chinese sourcing. So what are you seeing to support the reshoring argument?

SR: Oh, lots of things. I mean, you have Hyundai. That’s likely to announce a pretty big factory next week in Georgia. You have everyone from Micron to a bunch of other call it higher tech firms beginning to announce that they’re moving back here. They’re building here and they’re going to manufacture here or they’re going to manufacture in Mexico. One of the other.

If you want to have China like characteristics without supply chain issues, you go to Mexico and that re regionalization trend. That’s the theme of mine. Is beginning to pick up steam and it’s going to pick up much more steam, in my opinion.

North America is going to be basically, in my opinion is going back to being the world’s, not manufacturing hub, but the world’s high end manufacturing hub. If you want something that it’ll be like big Germany.

AM: Yeah, I mean that’s just the most logical thing to do is to start putting your supply chains closer to your luxury consumers and you have to do that. But I’ve been high on the Canadian economy and the North American economy.

I think Europe absolutely they’re in deep trouble at the moment. So is Asia. But Europe especially.

TN: On the reshoring note, guys, if Germany can’t get power, will we start to see some German manufacturing firms potentially moving to the US?

SR: You already make AMGs here. Mercedez Ben’s AMGs.

TN: Yeah.

SR: They’re made in Alabama. But they’re made in Alabama.

AM: Yes. But Tony to your question, actually, I do have a colleague that works for Austrian driven outfit and they have been buying factories in the United States specifically for this reason. It’s the only place that people are going to be buying things or has money at the moment. Their entire export industry in China is dead and they’ve sat there and been lackadaisical and never sat there and tried to put their networks back into Africa where the real emerging market should be focused on Africa. It’s going to be bigger than Asia anyway.

SR: Let’s also be honest, they just got done pulling out of Africa in some ways. A couple of decades ago. They missed that boat.

TN: They did. And so did the Americans. So. Hey guys, thank you very much. Really appreciate this. If you’re watching please like and subscribe have a great weekend and have a great week ahead. Thank you.

AM: Thanks, Tony.

SR: Thanks, Tony.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 28 Mar 2022


We’ve seen so much about oil for rubles, gas for bitcoin, etc this week. Does it represent a fundamental shift for energy markets? And is the dollar dead? The yen fell pretty hard versus the dollar this week. Why is that happening, especially if the dollar is dead?  Bonds spike pretty hard this week, especially the 5-year. What’s going on there and what does it mean?

Key themes from last week:

  1. Oil for rubles (death of the Dollar?)
  2. Rapidly depreciating JPY
  3. Hawkish Fed and the soaring 5-year

Key themes for The Week Ahead:

  1. New stimulus coming to help pay for energy. Inflationary?
  2. How hawkish can the Fed go?
  3. What’s ahead for equity markets?

This is the 12th 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. 

Listen on Spotify:

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Time Stamps

0:00 Start
0:34 CI Futures
1:22 Key themes this week
1:48 Oil for rubles (death of the Dollar?)
3:15 Acceptance of cryptocurrency?
5:34 Petrodollar Petroyuan?
7:32 Rapidly depreciating JPY
10:12 Hawkish Fed and the soaring 5-year
11:58 Housing is done?
13:10 Stimulus for energy
15:53 How hawkish can the Fed go?
17:34 What’s ahead for equity markets?


TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. I’m here with Albert Marko, Sam Rines, and Tracy Shuchart. Before we get started, please, if you can like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, we would really appreciate it.

Also, before we get started, I want to talk a little bit about Complete Intelligence. Complete Intelligence, automates budgeting processes and improves forecasting results for companies globally. CI Futures is our market data and forecast platform. CI Futures forecasts approximately 900 assets across commodities, currencies and equity indices, and a couple of thousand economic variables for the top 50 economies. CI Futures tracks forecast error for accountable performance. Users can see exactly how CI Futures have performed historically with one and three month forward intervals. We’re now offering a special promotion of CI Futures for $50 a month. You can find out more at

Okay, this week we had a couple of key themes. The first is oil for rubles and somewhat cynically, the death of the dollar. Next is the rapidly depreciating Japanese yen, which is somewhat related to the first. But it’s a big, big story, at least in Asia. We also have the hawkish Fed and the soaring five-year bond. So let’s just jump right into it. Tracy, we’ve seen so much about oil for rubles and Bitcoin and other things over the past week. Can you walk us through it? And is this a fundamental shift in energy markets? Is it desperation on Russia’s behalf? Is the dollar dead? Can you just walk us through those?

TS: All right, so no, the dollar is not dead. First, what people have to realize is that there’s a difference. Oil is still priced in USD. It doesn’t matter the currency that you choose to trade in because you see, in markets, local markets trade gasoline in all currencies. Different partners have traded oil in different currencies. But what it comes down to is it doesn’t matter because oil is still priced in dollars. And even if you trade it in, say, the ruble or the yuan, those are all pegged to the dollar. Right. And so you have to take dollar pricing, transfer it to that currency. And so it really doesn’t matter.

And the currency is used to price oil needs three main factors, liquidity, relative stability, and global acceptability. And right now, USD is the only one that possesses all three characteristics.

TN: Okay, so two different questions here. One is on the acceptance of cryptocurrency. Okay. I think they specifically said Bitcoin. Is that real? Is that happening? And second, if that is happening and maybe, Albert, you can comment on this a little bit, too. Is that simply a way to get the PLA in China to spend their cryptocurrency to fuel their army for cheap? Is that possibly what’s happening there?

TS: It could be. Russia came out and said, we’ll accept Bitcoin from friendly countries. Mostly, they were referring to Hungary and to China. Right. And I don’t think that is a replacement for USD no matter what because not every country except for perhaps China really accepts or El Salvador really accepts Bitcoin or would actually trade in Bitcoin. Right.

TN: In Venezuela, by the way. I think. Right. So on a sovereign basis. Okay. So Sam and Albert, do you guys have anything on there in terms of Bitcoin traded for energy? Do you have any observations there?

AM: No, this is a little bit of… This is even a serious conversation they’re having? With El Salvador going to be like the global hub for Russian oil now because they can use Bitcoin?

TN: That would be really interesting.

AM: But this is just silly talk. Every time there’s some kind of problem geopolitically and they start talking about gold for oil or wine or whatever you want to throw out, they start talking about the US dollar dying and whatnot.

I mean, like Tracy, I don’t want to reiterate what Tracy said, but her three points were correct. On top of that, we’re the only global superpower.

TN: Okay.

AM: That’s it.

SR: Yeah. My two cent is whatever on Bitcoin for a while.

TN: Right.

SR: Cool.

TN: I think that all makes sense now since we’re here because we’re already here because we all hear about the death of the petrodollar and the rise of the petroyuan and all this stuff. So can we go there a little bit? Does this mean that the petrodollar is dead? I know that what you said earlier is all oil is priced in dollars. So that would seem to be at odds with the death of the petrodollar.

AM: Well, Tony, in my perspective, the petrodollar is a relic of the 1970s. Right. Okay. Today it’s the Euro dollar. It’s not the petrodollar that makes the American economy run like God on Earth at the moment. It’s the Euro dollar. Forget about Petro dollar. Right. Because it’s not simply just oil that’s priced in it in dollars. It’s every single piece of commodity globally that’s priced in dollars.

TN: And Albert, just for viewers who may not understand what a Euro dollar is, can you quickly help them understand what a Euro dollar is?

AM: They’re just dollars deposited in overseas banks outside the United States system. That’s all it is.

TN: Okay with that. Very good.

SR: And the global economy runs on them. Full stop.

AM: It’s the blood of the global economy.

TN: So the death of the petrodollar, rise of the petroyuan and all that stuff, we can kind of brush that aside. Is that fair?

TS: Yeah. I mean, even if you look at say, you know, China started their own Yuan contract rights, oil contract and Yuan futures contract. But that still pegged to the price of the Dubai contracts. Right. That are priced in dollars.

TN: Let’s be clear, the CNY and crude are both relative to dollars. Right?

TS: Right.

TN: You have two things that are relative to dollars trying to circumvent dollars to buy that thing. The whole thing is silly.

TS: Exactly.

AM: Yeah, of course. Because Tony, the thing is, if China decides to sell all their dollars and all their trade or whatever, everything they’ve got, they risk hyperinflation. What happens to the Renminbi and then what happens in the world? Contracts trying to get priced right.

TN: Exactly. It’s a good point. Okay. This is a great discussion.

Now, Albert, while we’re on currencies, The Japanese yuan fell pretty hard versus the dollar this week. Do you mind talking through that a little bit and helping us understand what’s going on there?

AM: Yeah, I got a real simple explanation. The Federal Reserve most likely green light in Japan To devalue their yen to be able to show up the manufacturing sector in case China decides to get into a bigger global geopolitical spat with the United States. Simple as that.

TN: Great. Okay. So that’s good. This is really good. And I want people to understand that currencies are very relevant to geopolitics or the other way around. Right. Whenever you see currency movements, there’s typically a geopolitical connection there.

AM: Of course. And on top of that, if it was any other time and they started to devalue the currency like this, the Federal Reserve where the President would start calling the currency manipulators. And there’d be page headlines on the financial times.

TN: Right.

AM: And because that didn’t happen, It’s an automatic signal to me that this is what’s happening at the moment. Right.

What’s also interesting to me, Albert, is we’ve seen last week we saw Japan approach the Saudis and the Emiratis about oil contracts. We saw Japan call. There’s a meeting in Japan next week, I think, with China. So Japan is becoming this kind of foreign policy arm, whether we want to admit it or not, they’re kind of becoming foreign policy arm for the US. Because the US is not well respected right now. Is that fair to say?

AM: It’s more than fair to say, I believe Biden’s conference with South Asian leaders was just canceled on top of everything else.

TS: Sorry. And we saw this week Japan and India just signed, like, a $42 billion trade deal. So it kind of seems like they’re smoothing over the rough edges because the United States kind of came after India a little bit earlier about two weeks ago.

TN: Yeah, that’s a good call, Tracy. I think Japan and India have had a long, positive relationship. It’s especially intensified over the past, say, seven or eight years as China has tried to invest in India and the Japanese have kind of countered them and giving the Indians very favorable terms for investment and for loans. And so this is kind of a second part of that investment that was, I think, announced in, say, 2014 or 2015, something like that. And again, as we talked about it’s, Japan intervening to help the US out and obviously help Japan out at the same time. Thanks for that.

Now, Sam. We saw bonds spike pretty hard this week, especially the five year. I’ve got a Trading View source up there on the five year up on the screen right now. So can you walk us through what’s happening with US bonds right now, especially the five year?

SR: Sure. I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. The Fed is getting very hawkish and the market is adopting it rather quickly. And I don’t know how forcefully to say this. The current assumption coming from city is four straight 50 basis point hikes and then ending the year with just a couple of 25. That is a pretty incredibly fast off zero move time, some quantitative tightening, and you’re somewhere around three and a half percent to 4% worth of tightening in a year. That’s a pretty fast move.

So the two year to five years reflecting that the Fed is moving very quickly, you’re likely having the long end of the curve is lagging a little bit. You saw flattening, not steepening this week. The long end of the curve is telling you that the terminal rate may, in fact, actually be at least somewhat sticky around two and a half and might actually be moving a little bit higher. And that terminal rate is really important because that is how high the Fed can go and then stay there. It is also how fast the Fed can get there and how much above it the Fed is willing to go. So I think there’s a lot of things that happened on the curve this week.

TN: Okay. Albert, what’s in on those? Yes, go ahead, Albert.

AM: Oh, I’ve heard whispers that the long bond is going to 2.8% and maybe even 3%. That’s what the whispers have been telling me about that, which is going to absolutely devastate housing.

TN: But that was my actual idea.

SR: Oh, yeah. Housing is done. I mean, you saw pending home sales were supposed to be up a point and down 4%. That’s the first signal. The next signal will be when lumber goes back to $300.

TN: Okay. It seems to me you’re saying by say Q3 of this year we’re going to see real downside in the housing market. Is that fair to say?

SR: Oh, in Q2, you’re going to see real downside in the housing market. Yeah.

TN: Wow.

SR: Pending sales are, I think, one of the most important indicators of how the housing market is going. Right. It’s a semi forward looking indicator. If you begin to see a whole bunch of these homes in the ground stay as homes that are not being built. Right. So if you begin to see just a bunch of pads out there, it’s going to become a significant problem considering a lot of people have already bought the materials to build it off. And you’re going to begin to have some really interesting spirals that go back into some of the commodity markets that have been on fire on the housing front.

TN: Wow. Okay. That’s a big call. I love this discussion. Okay, good. Okay. So let’s move on to the week ahead. Tracy, we’ve had some stimulus announced to help pay for energy. Can you help us understand? Do you expect we’ve seen California and some other things come out? Are more States going to do this or more countries going to do this, and what does that do to the inflation picture?

TS: Well, absolutely. We saw California, Delaware, Germany, Italy talking about it. Japan already. They’re coming out of the woodwork right now. There’s actually too many to list. It’s just that we’re just now this week just starting to see the US kind of joining this on a state to state basis. The problem is that this is not going to help inflation whatsoever. You’re literally creating more demand and we still do not have the supply online. So all of these policies are going to have the opposite of the intended effect that they are doing. Right. It’s just more stimulus in the market.

TN: Do we think there’s going to be some federal energy stimulus coming?

TS: They’ve talked about different options. I mean, really, the only thing that they could do right now is get rid of the federal excise tax, but that’s only really a few cents. And they kind of don’t want to do that because that goes towards repairing roads, et cetera. That doesn’t fit into their plan that they just passed back in the fall. Right. We had infrastructure plan, so they need to pay for that. That’s already passed. So they probably won’t do that.

The other options that they have that they’re weighing are more SPR release, which is ridiculous at this point because they could release it all and it would still not have a long lasting effect on the market. And that’s our national security. It’s a national security issue. And we’re experiencing all these geopolitical events right now. We have bombs in Saudi Arabia. We’ve got Russia, Ukraine. So I think that’s like a poor move altogether.

TN: So if more States are going to come in, is it suspects like Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, those types of places?

TS: Yes.

TN: Okay. So all inflationary, it’s going in the wrong direction.

TS: It’s going to create demand, which is going to drive oil prices higher because we still don’t have the supply on the market.

TN: Okay. Wow. Thanks for that. Sam. As we look forward, you mentioned a little bit about how hawkish the Fed would be. But what are you looking at say in the bond market for the next week or so? Do we expect more activity there, or do you think we’re kind of stabilizing for now?

SR: We’re going into month end. So I would doubt that we’re going to stabilize in any meaningful way as portfolios either head towards rebalancing or begin to rebalance into quarter end. So I don’t think you’re going to see stabilization. And I think some of the signals might be a little suspect. But I do think back to the housing front. I’m going to be watching how housing stocks react, how the dialogue there really reacts, probably watching lumber very closely, a fairly good indicator of how tight things are or aren’t on the housing front.

And then paying a little bit of attention to what the market is telling us about that terminal rate. If the terminal rate keeps moving higher, to Albert’s point, that’s going to be a big problem for housing, but it’s going to be a big problem for a number of things as we begin to kind of spiral through, what the consequences of that are. It will be for the first time in a very long time.

TN: Okay. So it’s interesting. We have, say, energy commodities rising. We have, say, housing related commodities potentially falling, and we have food commodities rising. Right. It seems like something’s off. Some of it’s shortages based, and some of it is really demand push based. So energy stuff seems to be stimulus based or potentially so some interesting divergence in some of those sectors.

Okay. And then, Albert, what’s ahead for equity markets? We’ve seen equity markets continue to push higher. How much further can they go?

AM: Last week they eliminated, I think, up to about $9 trillion inputs, short squeeze, VIX crush. I mean, they went all out these last two weeks. It’s absolutely stunning. From my calculations, I think they expanded the balance sheet another $150 billion. Forget about this tapering talk. There’s no tapering. They just keep on going. How high can they go? That’s anybody’s guess right now. I think we’re like 6% off all time highs. On no news.

TN: So potentially another 6% higher?

AM: Honestly, I know that there’s hedge funds waiting, salivating at 4650. Just salivating to short it there. So I don’t think they can even get close to that, to be honest with you. So I don’t know, maybe 4590 early in the week before they start coming down.

TN: Okay. Interesting. So you think early next week we’ll see a change in direction?

AM: Yeah, we’re going to have to this has been an epic run, like I said, 90% short squeeze, 10% fixed crush. You don’t see this very often. Okay, Sam, what do you think, Sam? Similar?

SR: On equities, I like going into the rip higher. I’m kind of with Albert, but a little less bearish. I think you chop sideways from here looking for a catalyst in either direction. Bonds ripping higher today, yields ripping higher today. Bond prices plummeting. That I thought was going to be a catalyst for equities to move lower. It wasn’t. That kind of gives me a little bit of pause on being too bearish here, but it’s hard for me to get bullish.

TN: Okay.

TS: What’s interesting? I’ll just throw in like, Bama, weekly flows. We actually saw an outflow from equities for the first time in weeks. It wasn’t a lot 1.9 billion. But that says to me people are getting a little nervous up here. Profit taking, as they say on CNBC.

TN: All right, guys. Hey, thank you very much. Really appreciate the insight. Have a great week ahead.

AM, TS: Thanks.

SR: You too, Tony.

TN: Fabulous. Look. I’m married. I’m a man. I don’t notice anything. I noticed the other guys laughed at that. Uncomfortably. That’s great. Okay. I’m just going to start that over, guys. And we’re going to end it.