Complete Intelligence

Categories
Podcasts

Blame the Hot Money

US markets continue their bullish trend. BFM 89.9 asks Tony Nash if this is due to better than expected corporate earnings in the coming quarters or the Fed monetary policy. Also discussed are the OPEC+ oil production and how oil will be affected by hurricane Ida, and what’s the status of supply chain specially around semiconductors?

 

This podcast first appeared and originally published at https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/market-watch/blame-the-hot-money on September 2, 2021.

 

❗️ Check out more of our insights in featured in the CI Newsletter and QuickHit interviews with experts.

❗️ Discover how Complete Intelligence can help your company be more profitable with AI and ML technologies. Book a demo here.

 

Show Notes

 

WSN: We speak to Tony Nash, CEO of Complete Intelligence. Now, US markets, I think it’s a bit of a choppy day, but still, nonetheless, the trend is bullish one. And what is that based on, though, is it expectations of stronger corporate earnings this quarter or just driven by ample liquidity flooding financial markets?

 

TN: I think more the latter than the former. We saw really good corporate earnings in the previous quarter, but in the current quarter, we’re hearing more rumblings of trouble with earnings. And that’s part of the base effect in the previous quarters, in 2020, companies had cut a lot of costs late in the year, so they’re reaping the benefits now. We’re starting to see the base effects come in where they had already cut a lot of those expenses in Q3 of 2020. So now we’ll see that going forward, we won’t see as much kind of profitability.

 

So what’s the baked into the market right now? It’s the Fed, it’s stimulus. It’s an expectation of a $3 trillion fiscal stimulus bill. So if we start to hear that this $3 trillion fiscal infrastructure bill won’t happen, we’ll see some disappointment if we see the jobs numbers on Friday come in disappointing, we’ll see some dampened momentum. And if we hear any more talk about tapering, which I don’t think we will for at least six months. But if we do, we’ll see some downward pressure in the market.

 

So all of those things are possible. But in the meantime, the Fed is injecting $120 billion into the market every month to keep everyone happy. And markets seem to be taking it well.

 

WSN: And I want to stay on corporate earnings, because I just wonder whether the recent inflationary pressures on the economy will be reflected in perhaps lower margins for corporate’s incoming quarters.

 

TN: Sure, companies are feeling pressure not just with raw materials and input factors, but also with salaries. Wage inflation in the US is pretty high right now. Companies are feeling it from all sides. So I think those margins are much thinner, both on those base effects I mentioned earlier. Also inflationary effects, both in terms of input goods and wages.

 

PS: And you say you paint a bit more cloudy picture for the US, but if you compare the US economy and financial markets versus Europe and China, they really have outperformed global peer strike. Could you explain it disparities there?

 

TN: When you look at China, I think it really has a lot to do with stimulus. China is really late to the game in terms of providing stimulus. They spent quite a long time in 2020 and 2021 deleveraging their economy. So getting rid of debt. Very procyclical. China was shrinking and they were delivering, which is maybe healthy for the balance sheet, but not necessarily the best thing to do to grow the economy.

 

In Europe, the ECB is really nervous with inflation. And so they may take more aggressive action against inflation instead of continuing to loosen to accelerate the economy. So the US is outperformed because nobody thinks the Fed is going to take aggressive action year, certainly. And probably not at least until Q two of 2022.

 

WSN: And how do you think the US dollar will react against the Euro and the yen in light of all these recent FED announcements on the timing of the tapering and also the rate hikes?

 

TN: We have the dollar continuing to weaken through, say, November. And we’re starting to see some expectations of dollar strength, not a lot of strength, but marginal dollar strength starting in, say, November. And that could be on, say, ECB deciding to continue to loosen. It could be on China. Adding stimulus. Currency is a relative game. As central banks get more active globally relative to the US, it could really help weaken their currencies on a relative basis.

 

PS: And let’s talk about oil because I want to get your views on yesterday’s OPEC+ meeting. They are sticking to next month’s  oil production increases. What impact will that have on prices in view? There also Hurricane Ida has also hit US or production?

 

TN: Yeah. Well, he can. It has fit some under sea production, but it’s really hit more refining capacity than really production. So the bigger issue in the US is around gasoline prices and refining, than it is around kind of supply of oil with OPEC+, it’s kind of a status quo. Let’s move ahead as we had expected, which is a really good sign. Look, oil is trading between what, 67 and $75 generally, and that’s kind of their happy. So as long as it stays in that zone, OPEC will continue to move ahead and stay within the agreement. If it goes higher, then they may accelerate the production. If it goes lower, they may pull back a little bit.

 

WSN: And let’s stay on supply side disruptions. Right. We talked about that just a few minutes ago. But do you think that there are still concerns over this, especially for things like semiconductors and certain commodities?

 

TN: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. So the supply chain issues, we hear a lot about Chinese ports and backups to Chinese ports and these sorts of things. But the Port in Long Beach in the US is backed up, hugely backed up. So the supply chain shocks are not only in China. US ports have their own issues. So when I hear, say, American companies complain about supply chain issues in China, that’s not the only factor. It’s US ports catching up. It’s US ports that are delayed and so on and so forth.

 

So I don’t think we’re done with this. In fact, it may get a little bit worse because the holiday season is coming up in a few months. And if we think supply chains are backed up now, they may get even worse going into, say, October and November, especially to import into the US.

 

PS: I mean, some are even saying that this could even go on to, quarter 1, ’22 or even the likes of semi cons.

 

TN: Oh, absolutely. Semiconductor supply chains are incredibly complex. So for them to get out of these issues, there are multiple layers of issues that have to be reconciled, and it could easily be Q1 ’22 by the time we’re out of this.

 

WSN: All right. Thank you for your time. There was Tony Nash. CEO of Complete Intelligence, giving us his views on where world markets are hitting. And I think the interesting point is that, look, the bullish trend is here to stay as long as the Feds just keep rates where they are. Plus, of course, there are expectations with regards to the US stimulus plan on the infrastructure bill. Right. Which I think is now going through the House. And apparently there’s something like 700 amendments that the Republicans want this document through the Max.

 

PS: I know, but I think they are optimistic. I hope to prove this call in October, but Tony does point relatively bleak picture for the short term. September. October is also seasonally weak in the US and also the stimulus packages or end or swim September. Very interesting. What he’s saying about the Fed is not likely to say much about tapering for the next six months as well.

 

WSN: Yeah.

I mean, if you look at where markets are right. The S&P 500 is up 20%. The Nasdaq are almost close to 19%. The Dow Jones is 16%. If I was a fund manager, I would do nothing. In fact, I might be tempted to lock in my games. Right. Because the year is almost coming to a close. Do I want to take on more risk for the potential return of two? 3%, maybe not. So we might be heading into quieter months for at least one or two, maybe towards year end, and then we might see some book closing.

 

But till now, maybe everyone’s just taking a bit of a breather. Look at markets, at what kind of corporate earnings will be coming out, and let’s see where the politicians are up to.

 

PS: And I wonder whether there’s an opportunity to reallocate to other markets in Europe where you see some value and even Southeast Asia as well in the midterm long term as well, for sure.

 

WSN: I’m sure Financiers already considering the Strategic allocation for 2022 Actually and rotating into markets that perhaps did not do as well this year. Stay tuned. BFM 89.9.

Categories
QuickHit

QuickHit: Decentralized Finance and Crypto

JP Baric, of Aurum Capital Ventures, joins Tony Nash for this week’s QuickHit episode where he discussed crypto currencies and how it plays in decentralized finance or de-fi. Also, what is stranded energy and how is it mined? What is the future of crypto and why is its fiat currency value is very volatile? Was the industry affected by Covid? If so, how?

 

Aurum Capital Ventures is a company that’s focused on using stranded energy to mine cryptocurrency and other digital currencies and building a yield generation or building a way to generate yield through the mining process for consumers and for institutional investors.

💌 Subscribe to CI Newsletter and gain AI-driven intelligence.

📺 Subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

📊 Forward-looking companies become more profitable with Complete Intelligence. The only fully automated and globally integrated AI platform for smarter cost and revenue planning. Book a demo here.

📈 Check out the CI Futures platform to forecast currencies, commodities, and equity indices

 

***This QuickHit episode was recorded on November 4, 2020.

 

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

 

Show Notes:

 

TN: Okay. Very interesting. So I want to go into a couple things about cryptocurrency. But first, I want to ask what is stranded energy?

 

JB: Sure. So stranded energy is energy that is either not accessible to the grid so it can’t connect to the standard power grid or energy that’s been built up in areas where the federal subsidies for wind and solar farms have basically built these infrastructure that wasn’t needed in one area but it was built there because of those subsidies and in return the power prices are actually going negative during the night because there’s over supply and not enough demand. So that’s where we target when we build out mining sites.

 

TN: Very interesting. Okay. Thanks, JP. So let me ask you this. Just in terms of some crypto basics, okay. Is cryptocurrency, is it an asset or is it a currency? And so by that, you know gold is an asset, right? You know you can’t really go to 7/11 and spend gold. Dollar’s a currency. You can go to 7-eleven and spend a dollar.

 

So is cryptocurrency is it an asset? Is it a currency? Is it both? Is it moving from one to another? How do you think of it?

 

JB: Yeah, the more I look and think about Bitcoin is the more I think it’s actually an asset less than a currency. I’ve used bitcoin to buy laptops that you know 12 bitcoins for a laptop and then you realize that’s worth more than a house eventually. So I think the Bitcoin as an asset is really where how I view it. It’s a way to store value digitally that can easily be separated and transferred anywhere in the world and you also, it’s an asset that we know there’s a finite supply of it. We know how much there’s going to be, how many new bitcoins are going to be every day for the next 100 years and there’s not, that’s something you can’t really get without saying many other assets.

 

The reason why I don’t think it’s a currency is because we’ve seen other people have built on the Bitcoin blockchain and built on top of it as a way to build stable coins or other ways to transact, which are just more efficient and don’t have the price fluctuations that you do with using Bitcoin as a medium of exchange.

 

TN: Okay. So one of the things I’m really puzzled about with Bitcoin is, you know, normally with software, it’s the newer versions that are more desirable and more valuable, okay. Bitcoin is kind of the, you know, Windows 3.1 or something like that I mean it’s the OG of cryptocurrencies, right. So why is Bitcoin more desirable and valuable than other coins?

 

JB: So my opinion really comes down to first the miners. The miners are the ones who are allocating the most amount of capital in the space, who are taking the risk to capture this Bitcoin. You have to put that capital up uh millions of dollars when building out the infrastructure before they even see return. So because the miners are centrally focused around Bitcoin, it’s um you know the top currency for miners. I’ve seen that network effect um has really grown Bitcoin to keep its position and its power.

 

The amount of computing power protecting the Bitcoin network is ten times if not a hundred times more than any of the other networks out there. That would always say the first thing. The second thing is the on-ramps. To use a digital currency like bitcoin we need um on-ramps that have been put together over the past 10 years and have been focused solely on building on-ramps for this cryptocurrency.

 

Bitcoin works in the way and it functions as that secure digi secured and digital store of value. Other currencies have tried to do that. But the reason why it’s a store of value goes back to my first point which is the miner spending all that capital and infrastructure to secure the network using that energy on a day-to-day basis and giving Bitcoin that
floor price.

 

TN: Okay. So when you say on-ramps, what do you mean? So if I have a new coin, I need to have a way to be able to uh uh mine it and distribute it. Is that what you’re talking about?

 

JB: I was uh when I was referring to on-ramps, I was actually referring to fiat on-ramp. So basically, how does fiat currency come into the space. So US Dollars, Euros, Japanese Yen, how do they come into the space and then from there how does that get turned into this digital currency?

 

Those are on-ramps. Then also custody solutions, insurance. All right. Okay. All of that being on ramps.

 

TN: Okay. Very good. Okay. So um also in terms of crypto, what I’m really interested also also is when I look at the current environment, we’re in the wake of an election in the US. It’s a little bit uncertain. We’ve got, we’re in the wake of Covid. There’s a lot of uncertainty, you know. Is there kind of an optimal, say, environment for cryptocurrencies? Um, uh you know. Do we see say um uh confidence in traditional currencies waning and people moving to cryptocurrencies?

 

Is it in either or world or you know. Is it both and and what does that environment look like for people to turn their attention to cryptocurrencies?

 

JB: So I think the the as you mentioned the two different types of pandemic. The Covid pandemic and the election has really pushed crypto to the forefront as another asset class, as a safe haven. I don’t think cryptocurrency necessarily follows uh the same, you know, SP500 or other type of cycles out there when it comes to economics and social cycles. Bitcoin to me really follows the having events, which happen every four years. And so that would, that in my mind is what brings the momentum required to push Bitcoin to a new price. And in those having events is when Bitcoin miners receive half of the amount of Bitcoins they were getting every day just simply because it’s past
the four years and the issue and schedule is set.

 

So as I mentioned, we’ll know exactly how many coins are coming out. That in my opinion, is what creates these price rises about every four years, which then drives new interest to Bitcoin which then drives more speculation and which then drives the community growing at massive scale. And then shrinking because the people that are just speculators, just coming in to make a quick buck, they make their quick buck or they lose a lot of money. But the people who then now start to understand the technology and understand how much better of a monetary system it is because it empowers the user.

 

It provides them a steady base that they can build their life on. A steady-based currency that they know is not going to be inflated away and don’t they know it’s going to retain its value over the long period of time.

 

TN: Okay and so when you talk about having events, what happens around those having events in terms of say processing power, in terms of the the computing requirements. Are there cycles to build up more equipment and less as it ages and and what does that look like?

 

JB: So right now, they’re the cycle. There’s definitely there are cycles to build up equipment and the in May, when was that that having event occurred, the the amount of machines came down by about 15% 20%. And those machines were turned off because they were just older generation. The newer machines are coming in line. They’re being deployed. But we see it as in, if you want to get into Bitcoin mining, the next two years after the having event are the best time to get in because as I mentioned, that momentum will start to build up the Bitcoin price will continue to rise. You’ll have a great two years of profitability and you’ll be very very profitable and you’ll be a big arbitrage there. But then as Bitcoin price rises to an extreme height, there’s not enough actual bitcoin miners available for everyone to buy and acquire.

 

We don’t have enough semiconductors and so what happens is the value of those machines will rise rapidly and the people that are just coming into the space that are new are trying to pick them up and grab them and buying these machines for a really top dollar. The problem is, is that bitcoin price will crash. But you still have new machines on order for maybe six or nine months out. Those machines will continue to come online, will continue to run until it squeezes the profitability of all the miners and then you see a crash in difficulty usually in correlation as the bitcoin price is continuing to push down back to a normalized you know area and not in the hundred thousand dollars ranges or really overvalued where we see it uh once it kind of starts that on ramp.

 

TN: Okay. So when you say there’s a hardware replacement after the having event. So my understanding is this, you’re getting half the amount of Bitcoin for doing the same amount of work. You have old equipment. It’s it’s uh utilizing the same energy it did at double the price. So you have to cycle out that old equipment so you can still be profitable in your Bitcoin mining. Is that?

 

JB: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly. We either cycle the equipment or we move to lower cost power about half the cost in order to stay competitive. Those machines aren’t necessarily going to immediately become unprofitable after having. But they will become unprofitable very quickly after the having. And now, because Bitcoin price has risen, those machines you actually can turn back on and make a few pennies depending on what your power rates are.

 

TN: Okay. And so, since it’s so equipment intensive and we have supply chains bottleneck through Covid out of Asia, what has that done to the Bitcoin mining environment? Is it, has it, has Bitcoin risen in price as a result of it? Or are people using less efficient machines and maybe losing money or coming close to losing money on mining?

 

What’s happening as a result of the supply chain issues that we saw out of Asia earlier this year and also is there still kind of pent-up demand for that equipment?

 

JB: Yeah. So right now, the you know, with Covid and the supply chain issues that have occurred, the machines got backed up, the factories had to close, and so those orders that were maybe supposed to deliver in December of this year aren’t going to deliver until January or February. So they have been backed up by two months. Also due to 5G and the new phones coming out, the the amount of chip production capacity that is allocated to Bitcoin miners from the fabrication facilities like TSMC that has gone down as well um and they’re not able to get as many chips as they would like.

 

Right now, if you’re buying miners and you’re doing a project like we’re looking to do one in Oklahoma to buy 50 megawatts worth of miners or 15 000 machines, it’s going to take us about four months to acquire those machines and get them delivered to the United States in multiple batches. So that’s the, you know, the expected timeline to wait for these newer machines. But as they do ship from bitmain and from the manufacturers, we expect that hash rate to continue to grow and as Bitcoin price grows faster, it’s going to create more demand and it’s that vicious cycle.

 

TN: Interesting. Okay. So as you look out at the next year, are there certain things you’re looking for like are there coins that that you’re interested in? Are there you know, where is your attention going and what do you see over the next say six months in the crypto cryptocurrency environment?

 

JB: So over the next six months you know I’m I’m really focused on bitcoin particularly. But I do think decentralized finance. So de-fi has a lot of opportunity. There’s a lot of very cool projects. One of them being a token called lend token. L-E-N-D. And that token has something called a flash loan. And what flash loans are is that a concept that liquidity is no longer an issue for anyone that can prove there’s an arbitrage opportunity on in the market. And so, when these Ethereum contracts are written, um they basically have to balance the price points and if the prices start to become a little bit off, someone can go in and balance that contract and take the reward for balancing that contract. Before, you might have to put up the capital yourself to do these balances so that you can make the profits from balancing this contract and getting that arbitrage there. No longer do you need to do that with protocols like LEND, which are really trying to decentralize the credit problem. Decentralize uh what is credit look like on the blockchain. How do we give credit to companies.

 

How do we ensure that um we can lend to them without necessarily having to verify uh everything and do the, you know, do the verification process we have currently but how do we do that on chain in a contract. So protocols like that are what I’m really focused on. I think decentralized finance is going to blow up. I think it’ll be the next ICO hype as we would say in 2016, 2017. There’ll be good projects and there’ll be projects like we saw with Sushi that, you know, the developer just ran away with the funds because the contracts weren’t audited. That’s another big thing. If you’re investing in a project or investing anything, you want to make sure that it’s backed by you know VC companies in the United States that are these very popular VC companies in China and Europe or that it’s been audited by reputable sources in the community.

 

TN: Great. Okay JP. Thanks so much for your time today. I know you’ve got a lot going on so uh thanks so much for joining us and talking about this. Really appreciate this. Wish you all the best um over the next six months as all those things come to come to pass. I also want to thank our viewers and remind you please subscribe to our YouTube page. Please subscribe to our newsletter. Both are in the foot of the video. Thanks very much.

Categories
News Articles

US and China: The odd couple, decoupled

This article is originally published at https://www.euromoney.com/article/b1n39tw56vk8fs/us-and-china-the-odd-couple-decoupled

 

The US and China are growing apart by the day, and whether Trump or Biden is in the White House come January may make no difference. What does this mean for financial institutions everywhere?

 

In March 2001, America’s hawkish defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld handed a report to George W Bush. It urged the new US president to see not Russia but China as the primary threat, and to redeploy more military resources to Asia.

 

Doing so would have altered history, but that had other plans. The September 11 attacks redirected Washington’s gaze from Beijing to west Asia. Three months after that, China joined the World Trade Organization and began its rise to become a trading superpower.

 

For 15 years, relations between the two powers were mostly cordial. Then Donald Trump came to power.

 

By now, America’s 45th president’s act is a known quantity. There is a lot of huffing and puffing, but most of it is hot air.

 

Except when it comes to China.

 

On the campaign trail, Trump accused Beijing of currency manipulation, stealing intellectual property and being “neither an ally or a friend” to America.

 

After the election, he dialled up the narrative, appointing Peter Navarro, author of ‘Death by China’, as his trade adviser. Later, he installed secretary of state Mike Pompeo and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, China hawks both.

 

A trade war followed, then sanctions. Washington imposed tariffs of $360 billion on Chinese goods; Beijing retaliated with $110 billion in tariffs on US products.

 

All of that, it seems, was just a warm-up.

 

Trump banned smartphone firm Huawei from buying US semiconductors; in August, the firm said it was running short of processor chips. He then slapped sanctions on officials in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

 

Beijing scoffed, but its banks didn’t. Terrified of being cut out of the dollar-funded financial system, lenders including Bank of China and China Construction Bank (CCB) are reportedly weighing up whether to do business with the officials.

 

 

Continuous hits

 

And the hits keep coming. Over the summer, as Covid cases continued intermittently to spike, the White House zeroed in on the financial markets.

 

On August 6, the president’s working group on financial markets – a set of powerful US regulators – said firms might need to de-list from US bourses by January 2022 if they do not provide access to their audit papers.

 

China is the only nation named in the report, and it follows a host of accounting scandals involving US-listed mainland firms, including Luckin Coffee.

 

On August 19, the US state department told American colleges and universities to sell any holdings of Chinese securities in their endowments.

 

It said all endowments, whose total market value is more than $600 billion, had a “moral obligation and perhaps a fiduciary duty” to manage “clean investments and clean endowment funds”, a phrase it left vague – perhaps intentionally so.

 

There are some who dismiss this is as grandstanding, noting the rise in rhetoric in the lead-up to the Republican Party’s convention, taking place now.

 

But this ignores Trump’s record on China. He targets its frailties with laser precision. Beijing has to import high-end semiconductors, so he cuts off that source. China is more dependent on trade with the US than vice versa, so hits that, too.

 

The same is true with those sanctions. No bank, even one run by Beijing, wants to be unable to raise money and lend in US dollars. Until the renminbi is a strong international currency, that will also be an Achilles heels.

 

“The folks advising the White House on China are very smart,” says Tony Nash, a former adviser to think tanks in Washington and Beijing, and founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence, an artificial intelligence and data analytics platform. “The bumbling act is not the reality. These people really know where its pain points are.”

 

 

Future flux

 

The future is in a state of flux and impossible to know, but a few thoughts occur.

 

Some level of US-China decoupling is inevitable. Firms are relocating factories from China to southeast Asia. Japan has set aside $2.2 billion to aid re-shoring.

 

Whoever is in the White House on January 20, rapprochement is unlikely. Relations between the two will be chilly if it’s Joe Biden or frosty if it’s Trump.

 

More Chinese firms will list in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Market, but not all will abandon the US, which offers capital, specialist investors and a chance to get personal wealth far from Beijing’s prying eyes. On August 10, wealth management portal Lufax filed to raise up to $3 billion in a US IPO by year’s end.

 

Will the two countries financially decouple? That is far harder to answer. China will surely seek to make the RMB more globally relevant.

 

Trump may twist the arm of a few college endowments, but it is hard to see big institutional investors dumping their mainland holdings, experts say.

 

If anything, the financial rapport between the two is closer than ever. US investment banks are lining up to buy a majority stake in their China joint ventures. On Monday, China’s banking regulator, the CBIRC, approved a wealth management joint venture owned by BlackRock, CCB and Singapore’s Temasek.

 

Beijing, desperate for fresh sources of capital and for better capital markets, has a few options on the table.

 

“The brilliant move would be to open its stock markets completely to foreign investors,” says one US-based lawyer. “That would make the Nasdaq and NYSE less relevant, which is exactly what the Chinese want.”

 

Either way, after decades of bumping along in a relationship more co-dependent than harmonious, the world’s two great powers seem set to grow apart for good. Who knows if it’s what Trump wants, but it’s what he’s going to get.

INTRODUCING: CI Markets Free! Register to CI Markets and get access to AI-powered forecasts for the ✅ top 50 economies, ✅Nikkei 100, and ✅major currency pairs for Forex. No credit card is required.