Complete Intelligence


The Unbeatable Artificial Stock Market

Show Notes

MG: The Lead Lag Report joining us for the hour here is Tony Nash of Complete Intelligence has found a lot of people that I respect following. Tony, I saw a few people saying they were excited to hear what Tony has to say. So hopefully we’ll have a good conversation here.

Tony for those who aren’t familiar with your background talk about who you are how’d you get involved in the data side of markets and forecasting in general. And what you’re doing with Complete Intelligence.

TN: Sure, Michael. First of all, thanks for having me. I have followed you for probably 10 or 15 years.

MG: I am very sorry for that I am very very sorry for that.

TN: But yeah so, I got involved in data way back in the late 90s when I was in Silicon Valley and I built a couple of research firms focused on technology businesses. I then took about probably eight years to become an operator. I did a turnaround in Asia of a telecom firm. I built a firm in Sri Lanka during the Civil War and then I started down the research front again. I was the Global Head of Research for the Economist and I was the Asia Head of Consulting for a company called IHS Markit which is now owned by S&P and then after that I started Complete Intelligence.

So, you know my background is really all about data but it’s also all about understanding the operational context of that data. And I think it’s very hard for people to really understand what data means without understanding how people use it.

MG: Okay. So that’s maybe a good direction to start with that point about context with data because I think part of that context is understanding what domains data is more appropriate for forecasting and others. Right? So, I always made this argument that there are certain domains in particular when it comes to, I would argue investing that have sort of a chaotic system element to them. Right? Where small changes can have ripple effects. So, it’s hard to necessarily to sort of make a direct link between a strong set of variables and the actual outcome because there’s always a degree of randomness. Whereas, something that’s more scientific right that doesn’t have that kind of chaos theory element is it’s clearer.

So, talk about that point about context when it comes to looking at data. And again, the kind of domains where data is more appropriate to really have more conviction in than others.

TN: Yeah. Okay. So, that’s a great place to start. So, the first thing I would say is take every macro variable that you know of and throw it out the window. It’s all garbage data 100 of it. Okay? I would never trade based on macro data.

We’ve tested macro data over the years and it’s just garbage. It doesn’t matter the country. You know we hear people saying that China makes up their data. Well, that may be true you can kind of fill in the blank on almost any country because I don’t know how much you guys understand about macro data. But it is not market clearing data. Okay? Like an equity price or a commodity price.

Macroeconomic data is purely academic made-up data that is a proxy for activity. It’s a second or third derivative of actual activity by the time you see, say, a CPI print which is coming out tomorrow. Right? And it’s late and it’s really all not all that meaningful. So, I wouldn’t really make a trade or put a strategy together based on macro data even historical macro data. Every OECD country revises their data by what four times or something.

So, you see, a print for CPI data tomorrow that’s a preliminary print and that’s revised several times before it’s put on quote-unquote actual. And so, you know, you really can’t make decisions using macroeconomic data beyond a directional decision. Okay? So, if you follow me on Twitter, you see I’m very critical macro data all the time. I’m very sarcastic about it.

I think the more specific you can get… You know if you have to look at say national data or macroeconomic data, I would look at very low-level data the more specific you can get the better. Things like household surveys or you know communist and socialist countries. Chinese data at the very specific level can be very interesting. Okay? Government data the high-level data in every country I consider it garbage data in every country. So, you’re looking at very low-level very specific government or multilateral data, that’s interesting.

The closer you get to market clearing data the better because that’s a real price. Right? A real price history on stuff is better and company data is the best. And of course, company data is revised at times but that really helps you understand what’s happening at the kind of firm level. And what’s happening at the transaction level. So, you know, those are the kind of hierarchies of data that I would look at.

MG: So, okay this is a great. That’s a great point you mentioned that it’s you said very these variables is macro variables they’re proxies for activity. Right? They’re really more proxies for narratives. Right? Because and that’s where I think… You mentioned sarcasm almost 99 of my tweets at this point are sarcasm because when Rome is burning, what else I’m not going to do except joke about it. Right? Because I can’t change anything. Right?

So, and to that point I share a lot of that cynicism around data that people will often reference in the financial media that sounds really interesting, sounds like it’s predictive but when you actually test it to your point, you throw it out because it doesn’t work. Right? There’s no real predictive element to it.

So, we’ll get into some of the predictive stuff that you talk about but I want to hit a little bit on this market clearing phrase you kept on using. Explain what you mean by market clearing.

TN: Data is where there is a buyer and a seller.

MG: To actual prices of some asset class or something like that.

TN: Yep. That’s right.

MG: Okay. So, that makes sense. Okay. Now again I go back to the certain domains that data is more clear in terms of cause and effect and getting a sense of probabilities the challenge with markets. As we know is that the probabilities change second by second because not only does that mean meaningless data change second by second but the market clearing data changes second by second. Right? Going back to that point.

So, with what you do with Complete Intelligence, talk us through a little bit. What are some of the variables that you tend to find have some predictive power? And how do you think about confidence when it comes to any kind of decision made based on those variables?

TN: Sure. Okay. So, before I do that let me get into why I started Complete Intelligence because if none of you have started a firm before don’t do it. It’s really really hard so…

MG: From the people in the back because I got to tell you I’m an entrepreneur, I’m going through. And all you got is people on Twitter kicking you when you’re down when it’s the small sample anyway.

TN: Absolutely. So, I was where I had worked for two very large research firms The Economist and IHS Markit. And I saw that both of them claimed to have very detailed and intricate models. Okay? Of the global economy industries, whatever. Okay? For all of the interior models. And I have never spoken with a global research firm a data firm that is different from this. And if I’m wrong then somebody please correct me. But at the end of that whole model pipeline is somebody who says “no that’s a little bit too high” or “a little bit too low” and they change the number. Okay? To whatever they wanted it to be in the first place. So, and I tell you 100% of research firms out there with forecasts today have a manual process at the end of their quote-unquote model. A 100% of them. Again, if there’s somebody else that doesn’t do that, I am happy to be corrected. Okay? But I had done that for a decade and I felt like a hypocrite when I would talk to clients.

So, I started Complete Intelligence because I wanted to build a 100% machine driven forecasts across economics, across market, across equities, across commodities, across currencies. Okay? And we’ve done that. So, we have a multi-phase, multi-layer machine learning process that takes in billions of data items. We’re running trillions of calculations every week when we reforecast our data. Right? Now the interval of our forecast is monthly interval forecast. So, if people looking at daily prices that’s not what we’re doing now. Okay? We will be launching daily interval forecasts. I would say probably before the end of the year to be conservative but we’re doing monthly interval forecasts now.

Why is everything I’ve said is meaningless unless we measure our error. Okay? So, for every forecast that we do. And if you log into our website, you can see whether it’s the gold price, the S&P 500, USD, JPY, molybdenum or whatever. We track our error for every month, for everything that we do. Okay? So, if you want to understand your risk associated with using our data it’s there right in front of you with the error calculations. Okay? It’s only fair, If I’m gonna say sell you a forecast, you should be able to understand how wrong we’ve been in the past, before you use that as a decision-making input.

MG: Well, maybe just add some framework on that because I think that’s interesting. So, what you call error I call luck. Right? Because luck is both good or bad. I always make that point that with any equation any set of variables you’re going to have that error is the luck component that you can’t control. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that the equation is wrong. Right? It’s just means that for whatever reason that error in that moment in time was higher or lower than you might otherwise want. Okay?

TN: There is no such thing as zero error. And anybody who tells you that they have zero error is obviously they’re an economist and they don’t understand how markets work. So, there is always error in every calculation.

So, the reason we track error is because that serves as a feedback loop into our machine learning process. Okay? And we have feedback loops every week as we and what we’re doing right now is every Friday end of day. We will download global data process over the weekend have a new forecast on Monday morning. Okay? And so all of that error whether it’s near-term error, short-term error or say medium-term error, we feed that all back in to help correct and understand what’s going on within our process. And we have like I said, we have a multi-phase process in our machine learning platform. So, error is simply understanding the risk associated with using with using our platform.

MG: Right, which is basically how apt is a thing that you’re forecasting to that error which is again luck good or bad. I’m trying to put in sort of a qualitative framework also because I think… Yeah, there’s errors in life obviously, too. Right? And so, when they’re good or bad. But you know those elements.

TN: Right. But here’s what I would and I don’t know, I don’t want to dispute this too much but I think there is. So, you use the word luck and that’s fine but I think luck has a bit to do with the human element of a decision. Okay? We’re using math and code there’s zero human interaction with the data and with the process. And so, I wouldn’t necessarily call it luck. I mean, it literally is error like our algorithms got it wrong. So, if you want to call luck that’s absolutely fine but I would say luck is more of a human say an outcome associated with a human decision. More than something that’s machine driven that’s iterating. Again, we’re doing trillions of calculations every week to get our forecasts out there.

MG: Yeah, no that’s fair and maybe for the audience, Tony. Explain what machine learning is now.

TN: Sure.

MG: I once developed an app called “How Edition”. I was having dinner with the head developer once and he said he just came back from a conference about machine learning and he was just basically well, having drinks with me laughing and joking saying everybody use this term machine learning but it’s really just regression analysis. Right? So, talk about machine learning what is actual machine learning? How important is recent data to changes in the regression? Because I assume that’s part of the sort of dynamic nature of what you do just kind of riff on that for a bit.

TN: Okay. So, when I first started Complete Intelligence, I was really cynical about AI. And I spoke to somebody in Silicon Valley and asked the same question: what is AI? And this person said “Well AI is everything from a basic I say, quadratic equation upward.” I’m not necessarily sure that I agree that something that simple would be considered artificial intelligence. What we’re really doing with machine learning is there are really three basic phases. Okay? You have a preprocess which is looking at your data to understand things like anomalies, missing data, weird behavior, these sorts of things. Okay? So, that’s the first phase that we look at to be honest that’s the hardest one to get right. Okay?

A lot of people want to talk about the forecasting methodologies and the forecasting algorithms. That’s great and that’s the sexy part of ML. But really the conditioning and the pre-process is the is the hardest part and it’s the most necessary part. Okay? When we then go into the forecasting aspect of it, we’re using what’s called an ensemble approach. So, we have a number of algorithms that we use and let’s say they’re 15 algorithms. Okay? That we use we’re looking at a potential combinatorial approach of any individual or combination of those algorithms based on the time horizon that we’re forecasting. Okay?

So, we’re not saying a simple regression is the way to go we’re saying there may be a neural network approach, there may be a neural network approach in combination with some sort of arima approach. We’re saying something like that. Right? And so, we test all of those permutations for every historical period that we’re looking at.

So, I think traditionally when I look back at kind of quote-unquote building models in excel, we would build a formula and that formula was fairly static. Okay? And every time you did say a crude oil forecast you had this static formula that you set your data against and a number came out. We don’t have static formulas at all.

To forecast crude oil every single week we start at obviously understanding what we did in the past but also re-testing and re-weighting every single algorithmic approach that we have and then recombining them based upon the activity that happened on a daily basis in that previous week. And in the history. Okay?

So, that’s phase two the forecasting approach and then phase three is the post process. Right? And so, the post process is understanding the forecast output. Is it a flat line? Right? If it’s a flat line then there’s something wrong. Is it a straight line up? Then that there’s something you know… those are to use some extremes. Right? But you know we have to test the output to understand if it’s reasonable. Right? So, it’s really an automated gut check on the reasonableness of the outcome and then we’ll go back and correct outliers potentially reforecast and then we’ll publish. Okay?

So, there are really three phases to what we do and I would think three phases to most machine learning approaches. And so, when we talk about machine learning that’s really what we’re talking about is that that really generally three-phase process and then the feedback loop that always goes back into that.

MG: Yeah. No that makes sense. Let’s get…

TN: That’s really boring after a while.

MG: No, no, no but I think that’s it’s part of what I want to do with these spaces is try to get people to understand you know beyond sort of just the headline or the thing that is thrown out there. As a term to what does that actually mean in practice you don’t have to know it fully in depth the way the that you do. But I think having that context is important.

TN: I would say on the idea generation side and on the risk management side right now. Okay? Now the other thing that I didn’t cover is obviously we’re doing markets but we also do… we use our platform to automate the budgeting process within enterprises. Okay? So, we work with very large organizations and the budget process within these large organizations can take anywhere from say four to six months. And they take hundreds of people. And so, we take that down to really interacting with one person in that organization and we do it in say less than 24 hours. And we build them a continuous budget every month.

Once accounting close happens we get their new data and then we send them a new say 18-month forward-looking forecast for them. So, their FPA team doesn’t have to dig around and beg people for information and all that stuff. So, some of this is on the firm event could be on the firm evaluation side, as well. Right? How will the firm perform? Nobody’s using us for that but the firms themselves are using that to help them automate their budgeting process. So, some of that could be on this a filtering side and the idea generation side, as well.

So, we do not force our own GL structure onto the clients. We integrate directly with their SAP or Oracle or other ERP database. We take on their GL structure at whatever levels they want. We have found that there is very little deterioration from say, the second or third level GL to say the sixth or seventh level GL, in terms of the accuracy of our forecast. And when we started doing this it really surprised me. We do a say a team level forecast for 10, 12 billion organizations, six layers down within their GL. And we see very little deterioration when we go down six levels than when we do it at say two levels. Which is you know it really to me it speaks to the robustness of our process but would we consider Anaplan a competitor not really, they’re not necessarily doing the kind of a budget automation that we’re doing at least, that I’m aware of. I know that there are guys like Hyperion who do what we’re doing but again their sophistication isn’t necessarily. What we’re doing and they do a great job and Hyperion is a great organization. I think Oracle gave them a new name now but they’re not necessarily using the same machine learning approaches that we’re using. And our clients have told us that they don’t get the same result with using that type of say ERP originated or ERP add-on budgeting process.

Yep. So, I would say we can’t we can do company-specific information for a customer if that’s what they want. Okay? We don’t necessarily have that on our platform today aside from say individual ticker symbols. Okay? But we’re not forecasting say the P&L of Apple or something like that or the balance sheet of Apple. Something we could do in a pretty straightforward manner but we do that on a customer-by-customer basis.

So, what we’re forecasting right now are currency pairs, commodities about 120 commodities and global equity indices. Okay? We are Beta testing individual equity tickers and we probably won’t introduce those fully on the platform until we have our daily interval forecast ready to go to market. But those are still we’re still working some kinks out of those and we’ll have those ready probably within a few months.

MG: Okay. So, let’s talk about commodities here for a bit tonight. Obviously, this is where a lot of people’s attention has gone to. What kind of variables and I know you said you have a whole bunch of variables that are being incorporated here but are there certain variables in particular when it comes to oil and other commodities that have a higher predictive power than others.

TN: There are I think one of the stories that I tell pretty often and this really shocks people is when we look at things like gold. Okay? I’m not trying to deflect from your oral question but just to you know we’ve spoken with the number of sugar traders over the years. Okay? And so, we tell them that say the gold price and the sugar price there may not necessarily be a say short term say correlation there but there is a lot of predictive capability there and we talk them through why. And I think the thing that we get out of the machine learning approach and we cast a wide net. We’re not forcing correlations is that we’ll find some unexpected say drivers. Although drivers implies a causal nature and we’re not trying to imply causality anywhere. Okay?

We’re looking at kind of co-movement in markets over time and understanding how things work in a lead lag basis with some sort of indirect causality as well as say a T0 or current state movement. So, with crude oil you know there are so many supply side factors that are impacting that price right now, that I can’t necessarily point to say another commodity that is having an impact on that. It really is a lot of the supply side and sentimental factors that are impacting those prices right now.

MG: That makes a lot of sense. And I’m curious how did you mention it’s I think the intervals once a month. Right? So, given the speed with which inflation has moved and yields have moved how does a machine learning process adapt to sudden spikes or massive deltas in in variable movement. Right? Because there’s always a degree of randomness going back to error. Right? And you can make an argument that the larger move is the that may actually be more error but I think that’s an interesting discussion.

TN: So, I’ll tell you where we were say two years ago when 2020 hit versus today. Okay? So, in March of 2020, April 2020 everything fell apart. I don’t think there were any models that caught what was going to happen. It was an exogenous event that hit markets and it happened very quickly. So, in June, I was talking with someone who is with one of the largest software companies in the world and they said “Hey has your AI caught up to markets yet because ours is still lost” And you guys would be shocked if I told you who this was because you would expect them to know exactly what’s going to happen before it happened. Okay? I’ll be honest I think it was all of them but the reality is you know Michael you where you were saying that ML is just regression analysis.

I think a lot of the large firms that are doing time series forecasting really are looking at regression and derivatives of regression as kind of their only approaches because it works a lot of the time. Right? So, we had about a two-month delay at that point and part of it was because… So, by June we had caught up to the market. And we had started in February to iterate twice a month, we were doing once a month; I hope you guys can understand with machine learning two factors are we’re always adjusting our algorithms. Okay? We’re always incorporating new algorithms. We’re always you know making sure that we can keep up with markets because you cannot be static in machine learning. Okay? The other thing is we’re always adding capacity why? Because we have to iterate again and again and again to make sure that we understand the changes in markets. Okay?

So, at that time we were only iterating twice a month and so it took us a while to catch up. Guys like this major technology firm and other major technology firms they just couldn’t figure it out. And I suspect that some of them probably manually intervened to ensure that their models caught up with markets. I don’t want to accuse any individual company but that temptation is always there. Especially, for people who don’t report their error. The temptation is always there for people to manually intervene in their forecast process. Okay?

So, now, today if we look for example at how are we catching changes in markets. Okay? So, if I look at the S&P 500 for April for example, our error rate for the S&P 500 for April I think was 0.6 percent. Okay? Now in May it changed it deteriorated a little bit to I think four or six percent, I’m sorry I don’t remember the exact number offhand but it deteriorated. Right? But you know when there are dramatic changes because we’re iterating at least once a week, if not twice a week we’re catching those inflections much much faster. And what we’re having to do, and this is a function of the liquidity adjustments, is where in the past you could have a trend and adjust for that trend and account for that trend. We’re really having to our algorithms are having to select more methodologies with recency bias because we’re seeing kind of micro volatility in markets. And so again…

MG: So, kind of like the difference between a simple moving average versus like an exponential moving average. Right? Where you’re waiting the more recent data sooner.

TN: It could be. Yeah.

MG: Right.

TN: Yeah. That’s a very very simple approach but yeah it would be something like that, that’s right. Yeah. What so when we work with enterprise customers that level of engagement is very tight because when we’re getting kind of the full set of financial data from a client obviously, they’re very vested in that process. So, that’s different from say a small portfolio manager subscribing to RCF futures product where we’re doing forecasts and they have their own risk process in place. And they can do whatever they want with it. Right? But again, with our enterprise clients we are measuring our error so they can see the result of our continuous budgeting process. Okay?

So, if we’re doing let’s say, we launch with a customer in May, they close their mate books in June get them over to us redo our forecast and send it over to them and let them know what our error rate was in May. Okay? So, they can decide how we’re doing by department, by team, by product, by whatever based upon the error rates that we’re giving at every line item. Okay? So, they can select and we’re not doing kind of capital projects budgets we’re doing business as usual budgets so they can decide what they want to take and what they don’t want to take. It’s really up to them but we do talk through that with them and then over time they just start to understand how we work and take it on within their own internal process.

MG: So, back a little bit Tony. So, you mentioned you do this machine learning forecasting work when it comes to broad economics, markets and currency; of those three which has the most variability and randomness in other words which tends to have a higher error? Whenever you do any kind of machine learning to try to forecast what comes next?

TN: I would say it depends on the equity market but probably equity markets when there are exogenous shocks. So, our error for April of 2020 again, we don’t hide this from anybody it was not good but it wasn’t good for anybody. Right? And so, but in general it depends on the equity market but some of the emerging equity markets, EM equity markets are pretty volatile.

We do have some commodities like say rhodium for example. Okay? Pretty illiquid market, pretty small base of people who trade it and highly volatile. So, something like rhodium over the years our air rates there have not necessarily been something that we’re telling people to use that as a basis to trade but obviously, it’s a hard problem. Right? And so, we’re iterating that through our ML process and looking at highly volatile commodities is something that we focus on and work to improve those error rates.

MG: Here, I hope you find this to be an interesting conversation because I think it’s a part of the of the way of looking at markets, which not too many people are themselves maybe using but is worth sort of considering. Because I always make a point that nobody can predict the future but we all have to take actions based on that unknowable future. So, to the extent that there might be some data or some conclusions that at least are looking at variables that historically have some degree of predictive power. It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to necessarily be better off but at least you have something to hang your hat on. Right? I think that’s kind of an aspect to investing here.

Now, I want to go a little bit Tony to what you mentioned earlier you had lived abroad for a while in Europe. And when I was starting to record these spaces to put up on my YouTube channel the first one, I did that on was with Dan Arvis and the topic of that space was around this sort of new world order that seemed to be shaping up. I want you to just talk from a geopolitical perspective how you’re viewing perhaps changing alliances because of Russia, Ukraine. And maybe even dovetail that a little bit into the machine learning side because geopolitics is a variable. Which is probably quite vault in some periods.

TN: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So, with the evolving geopolitical order I would say rather than kind of picking countries and saying it’s lining up against x country or lining up with x country or what country. I would say we’ve entered an era of opportunistic geopolitics. Okay? We had the cold war where we had a fairly static order where people were with either red team or blue team. That changed in the 90s of course, where you kind of had the kind of the superpower and that’s been changing over the last say 15 years with say, China allegedly becoming kind of stronger and so on and so forth. So, but we’ve entered a fairly chaotic era with say opportunistic macroeconomic relation or sorry, geopolitical relationships and I think one of the kinds of top relationships that is purely opportunistic today is the China-Russia relationship.

And so, there’s a lot of talk about China and Russia having this amazing new relationship and they’re deep. And they’re gonna go to war together or whatever. We’ve seen over the past say three, four months that’s just not the case. And I’ve been saying this for years just for a kind of people’s background. Actually, advised the Chinese government the NDRC which is the economic planning unit of the central government on a product or on an initiative called the belt and road initiative. Okay? I did that for two years. I was in and out of Beijing. I never took a dime for it. I never took expense reimbursement just to be clear, I’m not a CCP kind of pawn. But my view was, if the Chinese Government is spending a trillion dollars, I want to see if I can impact kind of good spend for that. So, I have seen the inside of the Chinese Government and how it works and I also in the 80s and 90s spoke Russian and studied a lot on the Russian Government and have a good idea about how totalitarian governments work.

So, I think in general if we thought America first was offensive in the last administration then you really don’t want to learn about Chinese politics and you really don’t want to learn about Russian politics because they make America first look like kindergarten. And so, whenever you have ultra-ultra-nationalistic politics, any diplomatic relationship is an opportunistic relationship. And I always ask people who claim to be China experts but say please tell me and name one Chinese ally. Give me one ally of China and you can’t, North Korea, Pakistan. I mean, who is an ally of China there isn’t an ally of China.  There is a transactional opportunistic relationship with China but there is not an ally with China.

And so, from a geopolitical perspective if you take that backdrop looking at what’s happening in the world today it makes a whole lot more sense. And a lot of the doomsayers out there saying China is going to fall and it’s going to have this catastrophic impact. And all this other stuff, the opportunism that we see at the nation-state level pervades into the bureaucracy. So, the bureaucracy we hear about Xi Jinping. And Xi Jinping is almost a fictional character. I hate to be that extreme on it but there is the aura of Xi Jinping and there is the reality of Xi Jinping, just a guy, he’s not Mao Zedong. He doesn’t have the power that supposed western Chinese experts claim that he has. He’s just a guy. Okay?

And so, the relationships within the Chinese bureaucracy are purely transactional and they are purely opportunistic. So again, if you take that perspective and you look at what’s happening in geopolitics, hopefully you can see things through a different lens.

MG: Now, I’m glad you’re framing that in those terms because I think it’s very hard for people to really understand some of these dynamics when it’s almost presented like a like the story for a movie. Right? For what could be a conflict to come by the media because and it’s almost overly simplified. Right? When you hear this type of talk. So again, I want to go back into how does that dovetail into actual data. Right? Maybe it doesn’t at all. When you have some of these dynamics and you talk about market clearing data, you’re going to probably see mark movement somewhat respond off of geopolitical changes. Talk about anything that you’ve kind of seen as far as that goes and how should investors consider geopolitical risk or maybe not consider geopolitical risk?

TN: Yeah, I think, well when you see geopolitical adjustments today all that really is… I don’t mean overly simplified but it’s a risk calibration. Right? So, you know Russia invades Ukraine, that’s really a risk calibration. How much risk do we want to accept and then what opportunities are there? Right?

So, when you hear about China, you have to look at what risk is China willing to accept for actions that it takes? Keeping in mind that China has a very complicated domestic political environment with COVID shutdown, lockdowns and all of this stuff. So, having worked with and known some really smart Chinese bureaucrats over the years, these guys are very concerned with the domestic environment. And I don’t although there are idiot you know generals and economists here and there who say really stupid stuff about China should take over TSMC and China should invade Taiwan, these sorts of things. My conversations over the years have been with very pragmatic and professional individuals within the bureaucracy.

So, do I agree with their policies? Not a lot of them but they are well thought out in general. So, I think just because we hear talk from some journalist in Beijing who lives a very sheltered life about some potential thing that may happen. I don’t think we necessarily need to calibrate our risk based on the day-to-day story flow. I think we need to look at like… so there’s a… I’m sure you all know who Leland Miller is in China beige book like?

MG: Yeah, he’s not too long ago.

TN: Yeah. He has a proxy of the Chinese economy and that’s a very interesting way to look at an interesting lens to look through China or through to look at China or whatever. But so, I think that the day-to-day headlines, if you follow those, you’re really just going to get a lot of volatility but if you try to understand what’s actually happening, you’ll get a clearer picture. It’s not necessarily a connection of a collection of names in China and the political musical chairs, it’s really asking questions about how does China serve China first. What will China do to serve China first and are some of these geopolitical radical things that are said do they fit within that context of China serving China first? So, that’s what I try to look at would I be freaked out if China invaded Taiwan? Absolutely. I think everybody would right but is that my main scenario? No, it’s not.

MG: In terms of the data inputs on the machine learning side how granular is the data meaning? Are you looking at where geographically demand might be picking up or is it simply this is what the price is and who cares the source? Because again with hindsight if you knew that the source of China and kind of had a rough sense of the history of Russia-Ukraine maybe that could have been an interesting tell that war was coming.

TN: Yes or No. To be honest it had more to do with the value of the CNY. Okay? And I’ll tell you a little bit about history with the CNY. We were as far as I know, the only ones who called the CNY hitting 6.7 in August of 2019 with a six-month lead time. And so, we have a very good track record with USD-CNY and I would argue that China’s buying early in 2022 had a lot more to do with them from a monetary policy perspective needing to devalue CNY. So, they were hoard buying before they could devalue the CNY and I think that had a lot more to do with their activity than Russia-Ukraine. Okay? And if you notice they’ve made many of their buys by mid-April and once that happened you saw CNY, go to 6.8. Right? It’s recovered a little bit since then but China has needed to devalue the CNY for probably at least nine months. So, it’s long overdue but they’ve been working very hard to keep it strong so that they could get the commodities they needed to last a period of time. Once they had those commodities, they just let the parachute go and they let it do value to 6.8 and actually slightly weaker than 6.8.

MG: The point of the devaluation is interesting. I feel if I had enough space but we were talking about the Yen and what’s happened there. And this observation that usually China will start to devalue when they see the end as itself going through its own devaluation.

How does some of those cross correlations play out with some of the work that on machine learning you’re doing? Because there’s a human element to the decision to devalue a currency. Right? So, the historical data may not be valid I would think because you might have kind of a more humanistic element that causes the data to look very different.

TN: Well, they’re both export lab economies. Right? And we’ve seen a number of other factors dollar strength and we’ve seen changing consumption patterns. And so, yes when Japan devalues you generally see China devalue as well but also, we’ve seen a lot of other activities in on the demand-pull side and on the currency side especially with the US dollar in… I would say over the last two quarters. So, yes, that I would say that the correlation there is probably pretty high but there are literally thousands of factors that contribute to the movement of those of those currencies.

MG: Is there anything recently Tony in the output that machine learning is spitting out that really surprises you? That you know… And again, I understand that there’s a subjective element which is our own views on the world and of course then the pure data. But I got to imagine it’s fascinating sometimes if you’re sitting there and seeing what’s being spit out if it’s surprising. Is there anything that’s been kind of an outlier in in the output versus what you would think would likely happen going forward?

TN: Yeah. You know, what was really surprising to me after we saw just to stick on CNY for a minute because it’s the first thing that comes to mind, when we saw CNY do value to 6.8. I was looking at our forecast for the next six months. And it showed that after we devalued pretty strong it would moderate and reappreciate just a bit. And that was not necessarily what I was hearing say in the chatter. It was kind of “okay, here we go we’re going to go to seven or whatever” but our data was telling us that that wasn’t necessarily going to happen that we were going to hit a certain point in May. And then we were going to moderate through the end of the year. So, you know we do see these bursty trends and then we see you know in some cases those bursty trends continue for say an integer period. But with CNY while I would have on my own expected them. I expected the machines to say they need to keep devaluing because they’ve been shut down and they need to do everything they can to generate CNY fun tickets. The machines were telling me that we would you know we’d see this peak and then we would we would moderate again and it would kind of re-appreciate again.

So, those are the kind of things that we’re seeing that when I talk about this it’s… Oh! the other thing is this: So, in early April we had a we have people come back to us on our forecast regularly who don’t agree with what we’re saying and they complain pretty loudly.

MG: So, what do you say I talk when I hear that because whenever somebody doesn’t agree with the forecast, they are themselves making a fork.

TN: Of course. Yeah. Exactly. Right? Yeah, and so this person was telling us in early April that we’re way wrong that the S&P was going to continue to rally and you know they wanted to cancel their subscription and they hated us and all this other stuff. And we said okay but the month’s not over yet so let’s see what happens this was probably a week and a half in April. And what happened by the end of April things came in line with our forecast and like I said earlier we were like 0.4 and 0.6 percent off for the month. And so that person had they listened to us at the beginning of the month they would have been in a much better position than they obviously ended up being in. Right? And so, these are the kind of things that we see on a… I mean, we’ve got hundreds of stories about this stuff but these are the kind of things that we see on a regular basis. And we mess up guys I’m not saying we’re perfect and but the thing that we when we do mess up, we’re very open about it. Everything that we do is posted on our on our website. Every call we make, every error we have is their wars and all. Okay? And so, we’re not hiding our performance because if you’re using our data to make a trade, we want you to understand the risk associated with using our data. That’s really what it comes down to.

MG: It reminds me of back in 2011 and in some other periods I’ve had similar situations, where I was writing and I was very adamant in saying the conditions favored a summer crash. Right? I was saying that for the summer and the market should be going up and people would say oh where’s your summer crash and I would say this summer hasn’t started. Like it’s amazing how people, I don’t know, what it is, I don’t know if it’s just short-termism or just this kind of culture of constantly reacting as opposed to thinking but it is it is remarkably frustrating.

Going back to your point at the very beginning being entrepreneur don’t do it, that you have to build a business with people and customers who in some cases are just flat out naïve.

TN: That’s all right though. That’s a part of the risk that we accept. Right?

MG: Yeah, the other thing right now that happens with every industry but from the entrepreneur’s standpoint. It’s what you’re doing the likely outcome of your product of your service. You’re trying to communicate that to end clients but then in the single role of the die the guy the end client who comes to you exactly for that simply because they disagree with you know the output, now says I want out.

TN: Oh! Yeah! Well, your where is your summer call from 2011 the analogy today is where is your recession call. Right? So, that’s become the how come you’re not one of us calls right now. So, it’s just one of those proof points and if you don’t agree with that then you’re stupid.

So, I would say you never finish with that there is always a consensus and a something you’re you absolutely, must believe in or you don’t know what you’re talking about.

MG: Yeah, well, thankfully. What you’re talking about so appreciate everybody joining this space Tony the first time you and I were talking. I enjoyed the conversation because I think it said on investing and I encourage you to take a look at Tony’s firm and follow him here on twitter. So, thank everybody. Thank you, Tony and enjoy.

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.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 14 Feb 2022

In this week’s episode, we look at the CPI numbers from last week, the inflation cycle, and will the Fed stop QE on their Monday meeting? What do you have to expect on the metals market in the longer term? Will the demonstrations around the world push the US to bring out fiscal stimulus again — and can they? What does this mean to the Democrats on November US Election? And lastly, what you should know to thrive and survive this coming week?

This is the sixth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:



TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And we’re joined by Nick Glinsman, Albert Marko. And today we’re joined by Sam Rines for the first time. Tracy Shuchart could not make it this week. She’ll be back next week.

So before we get started, I’d like to ask you to subscribe to our YouTube channel. It obviously helps us with visibility and it gives you a reminder when a new episode is out. So if you don’t mind, please take care of that.

Now, a lot has happened this week. We saw CPI slightly higher than expected, which is what we talked about on the show last week. Consumer sentiment out on Friday, slightly lower than expected. And there were a few things that we said last week that will remind you of the ten-year cross, too. Nick pretty much nailed that. Crude went sideways. Tracy said that we would see a slight pull back in sideways move in crude. The S&P have a slight down bias, which is what we talked about. And the Dow had a slight upward bias, which is what we talked about. So good week all around. Thank you guys for being so on the spot for that.

Let’s start with CPI. And Sam, since you’re the new guy, it’s surprised high. So what really jumped out for you and what do you expect to see with CPI prints going forward?

SR: Basically, the entire print jumped out to me. I don’t think there was a single thing that was actually positive on the inflation front. There was no positive news that we could extrapolate from there. Whether you’re looking at the actual headline number, the core number, three month annualized accelerating, et cetera, it was a pure CPI hot. It was just hot. Cupcakes and cakes were the worst news in there. Both of those up. I think it was like 2.2%. 2.3% on a month over month basis. The only thing that was a little bit lower, that kind of offset, that was ice cream. So dessert got more expensive for most of us.

I think generally the way to look at CPI right now is we were supposed to have this really interesting hand off from goods to services. And what we really had was no hand off from goods and services begin to start running. You had people begin to go outside of their homes, but they’re also working at home. So you need more stuff. If you have an office and you work from home, you need two computers, you need two microphones, you need two cameras.

That’s really what we’re beginning to see is the confluence of the end of COVID restrictions, but not really the end of COVID all at the same time. That’s a big problem.

TN: So the durable good cycle is we’re late in that cycle, right. So it’s not as if we’re redoing our homes anymore. Most of that stuff is gone. It’s more consumption, right?

SR: Yeah, it is consumption to a certain degree. But also you haven’t really seen a slowdown in people buying homes. When people buy homes, when people build homes, they need to put stuff inside of them. They need couches.

TN: That’s fair.

SR: So I would say we’re probably not at the end-end of the durable good cycle, we might be in the fifth or 6th inning. Okay. But millennials still on homes, right? Millennials figured out that when you can’t go to a really cool restaurant in New York City, it’s not really worth living in 1000 square foot apartment or smaller with a kid. Right. They’ve decided that they really want to go make a household somewhere, buy a house.

So I think we’re more call it mid innings of durable good cycle. And on the services front, we’re just beginning to see the re emergence there. You’re just beginning to see housing costs, housing and rent, et cetera.

TN: Okay, so this inflation cycle is something that Nick and Albert have been talking about for over a year. You started talking about this in August of ’20 or something like that?

AM: Yeah, something like that. I mean, it was evident that the supply chain stresses is going to cause inflation. When the demand starts to tick up and there’s no inventory, of course, it was inevitable at that point.

TN: So when does it end? Obviously, this isn’t kind of the transitory inflation we’ve been told, and that’s been said many times. But do you see this continuing through, let’s say all things equal. There’s no rises from the Fed, nothing else. How long does this go before it works itself out? Nick?

NG: I’m sorry, Albert, do you want to?

AM: No. From my perspective, wage inflation is a problem. So until that gets sorted out, inflation is going to be sticky.

NG: Yeah. With Atlanta Fed wage price level, it was 5% I think it was, came out for the first time in 20 years. Actually, I’m going to be slightly contrarian. I think we’re at that peak. Whether we can go up, we can still go up a bit more, but I think there’s a peak. The trouble that people have got to get their minds around is if we’re peaking, it could take several months. Where do we come down to? And my suspicion is we come down to a level that’s still significantly above the 2% Fed targets.

The other thing that I think is really important, you’ve got the conventional wisdom. Feds behind the curve, Feds behind the curve. And now all these forecasts from the street have sort of come like this. Goldman have now joined Bank of America on seven.

The key thing to understand in a zero rates environment, they introduced forward guidance, and that was their technique to try to suppress volatility in the market. Well, now that things have shifted around so rapidly and we’re moving to a rate hiking cycle, they’re actually not going to be suppressing volatility. By definition, they can’t you hear this in Europe as well? Data dependency. We’re dependent on the data. Well, they’re dependent on the data in Europe because their forecast is so terrible. Haven’t been much better in the US either. Right.

So you’re going to have much more volatility. So what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, which if you traded, if you ran money through 2008, it’s sort of nothing. But what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, get used to it. And I suspect going back to what we mention last week and I even put it on a tweet. Newton’s law of gravity is going to start to impose itself on those stocks without the high dividends, those stocks that don’t have the earnings, those stocks that are over owned.

I know we’ve got witching out next week or OpEx not clear whether the market is long or short delta. Just not clear to me because actually a couple of days ago, Goldman came out with a chart that showed that short interest on the S&P is really low. So if that’s the case, and I maintain that we’ve got a lot of trap longs still there, this volatility is going to get worse.

I mean, you’re getting volatility in the treasury market. And remember, the treasury market, by definition, is zero rates, low rates environment, is long convexity. So the price moves to a couple of basis points are way bigger than they were back in the days when you had a decent coupon, back in those good old days where retirees would earn some money on their bank deposits.

TN: Yeah.

NG: So they’re not suppressing volatility anymore. Volatility cannot be suppressed, even if they sell VIX. We’re talking about broad systemic volatility. Is it a risk? Could be. But that’s gone. Those days have gone. Forward guidance. They’re not even going to forward guide. Powell’s last press conference. I’m going to be humble. I can’t give you whether it’s a 50 or a 25. He never said anything. No. When he was asked aggressive questions. So it’s sort of interesting.

TN: That is very interesting. I think not worried about volatility is a very interesting point, even if they just dial it down a little bit. It’s a very interesting point to me.

So let’s move in that direction, Nick. There was a lot of Fed speculation this week, obviously more intensive than even last week. Inter-meeting hike, 50 basis point hike, 25 basis point hike, all this other stuff. So what are you thinking about that and QT? I also want to get kind of your and Albert’s view and Sam, of course, on this thing going around on Thursday about an emergency meeting on Monday. So let’s talk about all of that stuff with Fed and central banks.

NG: I just don’t think this Fed has it in them to do something shocking. So the first order of business, if they were to do anything intermeeting, is stop QE. That’s absolutely absurd that that’s still going on. Right. So you stop the QE.

Remember, this is a Fed that’s built on… Most of these members are built on the gradualist approach of the Fed. They’ve been suppressing volatility. They don’t want to shock anybody. So I think there is a valid discussion to have between 25 basis points and 50. It’s a discussion they need to have and they need time to think about it.

Interesting Bollard came out as hawkish, given he used to be a Dove and we’d forecasted actually everything he said. We got a little experience of deja vu, but I’m suspicious of this intermeeting situation. The only thing I can think of really would be stopping QE. That’s where their first… If you watch the Main Street media, that was their first part of call with the “experts”, and they’re still doing QE, which is why they’re still doing QE. I think they need a proper… Right now, given it’s a new hike, first hike in the whole process, they need to have a proper meeting.

TN: So you think there’s a greater than zero possibility that they’ll stop QE on Monday? I’m not saying you’re saying it will, but you’re saying it’s greater than zero.

NG: That would make sense to me, but it would be a bit dramatic given all the huff and puff that’s been in the since last night about this secret meeting, which is also right. I would be surprised if they do an intermeeting.

I’m still trying to figure out whether they’re biased towards 25 and 50. Remember, the market is giving them 50, but when is the last time the Fed taken what the market is giving it?

TN: Albert, what do you think about Monday, the speculation about the meeting on Monday?

AM: Well, yeah, everyone’s talking about this meeting that popped up all of a sudden, and some people are starting to dismiss it’s procedural and whatnot. But realistically, they got together over the weekend to discuss what’s really happening. The last time they did something like that was pre-COVID in 2020.

Right now, the Fed and actually the Biden administration together are looking at problems with the Russian invasion of Ukraine looming, trucker rally, actually in the United States and France and Australia that are looming. I mean, any more supply chain shocks is systemic problems of the economy. And I think they have to address it one way or another.

Whether it’s a 50 basis point hike in Monday or March or something, you’re going to have to do something against inflation.

TN: So you think it’s possible that they can take some action on Monday? You don’t think this is just a procedural meeting?

AM: I don’t think it’s a procedural meeting whatsoever. I think something’s wrong with the system and they’re working to address it.

TN: So if you had to say they’re going to stop QE or they’re going to announce a rise, which is more likely on Monday.

AM: I think they’re going to announce a rise. Well, to think about it, they’ll probably stop QE before they actually do a rate hike. I think the rate hike will definitely come in March.

NG: That’s the sequence.

TN: Okay.

SR: And just to add something there, I think it’s really important to remember that effective Fed funds right now is eight basis points, right? Eight to nine basis points. It bounces around a little bit but we hike in ranges now, right? So we’re going to hike from zero to 25 to 25 to 50 or 50 to 75 and they don’t have to put it at the midpoint right? So going to ranges, so to speak, is not the only way to look hawkish.

If you raise one range of 25 to 50 and set it at 40, 45 towards the top end of the range, you can do one “rate hike”, but be pretty hawkish within that range, you can show your intention pretty quickly there which would match pretty closely to what the market expectations are when you kind of extrapolate down to actual basis points what the market is giving the Fed. So I think it’s really important to pay attention to not just where the range ends up, but where they decide Fed funds goes within that range.

TN: It could be incremental. They could be a Chinese central banks type of like 37 basis points or it’s 38 basis points or something?

SR: Exactly. Exactly. And I think that’s going to be the kind of “the shock” and all that they can use. They can have call it a very hawkish one hike. They don’t need to do two hikes to be overly hawkish.

TN: So what do you think, Sam, on Monday? Do you think it’s a procedural or do you think it’s possible that there could be some sort of policy change?

SR: I think it’s procedural.

TN: Okay. Interesting. It would be interesting to come back in a week and see what’s happened with that. I like the differences there. Sorry. What’s that?

NG: You get the coin out and heads at something.

TN: Right? Exactly.

NG: One thing it can be, it can be a hike without stopping the QE.

SR: Yes.

TN: Right. Okay. That’s a good point. So speaking of inflation, before we get onto the truckers and other stuff, Nick, you guys put out a piece last week about the metals market. And I’m really curious. It looks like there’s a view that there’s longer term rises in metals, industrial metals especially. Can you give us a little bit of color on that and help us what to expect in metal markets?

NG: Sure. It was a longer term view. It’s not really a short term trading view. The view is, I have the thesis that some of the greatest trades attached to some of the biggest traders in time have arisen because of policy mistake. Whether the policy is benefiting or whether the policy was just maligned. And right now we’re in this net zero push, which is the new neurosis and there’s no transition plan.

So the first thing, if we were to look to commodities right now, where is it? The most obvious place that it’s hit? European energy. Right. The German is getting rid of nuclear. It’s just a complete nano mess. But it’s actually in the metals market where over the next couple of years it’s going to be really keenly felt.

There’s been a lack of capex like energy. There’s been a lack of capex in metals. They learned what lessons? We don’t know. Lessons from 2011 when prices were very elevated. And with that lack of capex and they’re paying high dividends, they’re rewarding shareholders, means the supply cannot be flexible enough, elastic enough on the upside to meet all this huge demand.

So we put the blocks together. China. China, give or take, is still there as a big user and consumer of the metal. Now you add on the rest of the world, plus China, additional China on net zero products. EV cars, right. All the wind farms, solar panels. All this stuff needs metal. Some of it needs fossil fuels as well.

And I got triggered a couple of weeks ago. There was a report in France that said in the next two years, the available supply of copper, not new finds, or not new mines. The available supply right now would have been used up. Yes or no. But the point is that’s the direction. Nickel, even more so. And then you think about nickel and the geopolitics of Russia having a huge nickel company. What we’re about to go through, potentially with sanctions?

All this geopolitics grinds against the need for these metals in terms of net zero. So basically you’ve got those two forces against each other which squeezes everything up in terms of price. And from the point of view, we have no transition plan. So if there was none of that, we needed a transition plan anyway.

So our view, you can go through the metals. Aluminium has been making new multi year highs this week.

TN: Right.

NG: Aluminum being the cheaper copper.

TN: Okay. Yeah. And I think as a medium, longer term plan, as a strategic placement, I think that’s very interesting.

Let’s move on to other components of uncertainties with what seems to me is a resurgence of populism with these trucker strikes and other kind of demonstrations.

Obviously, the Canadian trucker strike has stolen the headlines this week, but there are things happening across Europe, and they have been for a year. Australia has been happening for six months, something like that. Demonstrations. You see sporadic demonstrations in the US with talk about truckers striking at the Super Bowl or something like that. So what do you guys think about that? Is that a real risk, and is that a risk that will flow into markets?

AM: I think it absolutely is a risk. If you’re talking about adding more stress to the supply chain, of course it’s going to be a systemic risk. I won’t even put it past some foreign actors propelling it through social media campaigns to stress the United States, France and Australia.

TN: Okay.

AM: I certainly would if I was Russia or China. I would definitely do that.

TN: Okay. So what does that do if there is this kind of wave of populism that is pushing back against kind of COVID restrictions? Do you think that puts more stress on, say, the US government to get fiscal spending out there to kind of placate people?

AM: There’s no way we’re getting fiscal. The reasons that the Fed has been doing all the shenanigans behind the scenes is because there’s no fiscal that’s happening.

TN: Okay.

AM: Rumors are that they’re even buying oil futures.

TN: Okay. So it makes things complicated, right? I mean, if you can’t send fiscal out to the people, then it makes kind of populism even more complicated.

AM: Of course.

TN: And more acute. Right. So what does that say for November in the US? Does that mean that it’s going to be tougher than we had thought on Democrats?

AM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they sent out a memo to all the Democratic governors with all the warning flags. If you don’t lift off these COVID restrictions, we’re going to get massacred in November. So all of a sudden you saw this week like a dozen Democratic governors lift all the mask mandates.

TN: Okay. But do you agree if they had room for fiscal, it would solve some of these populist issues?

AM: That’s a tough question, Tony. I mean, possibly, but then the talk of new stimulus checks comes out and then the inflation probably gets worse. What are we doing?

TN: It’s a complex problem, which is why I’m asking the question.

NG: Didn’t Germans should make it pretty clear though, this week? They said I’ve been… Last year with the last fiscal. I said inflation. Inflation, inflation.

TN: Yes.

NG: Clear as you can be. But he’s a swing vote in the Senate. He just said we’re not getting inflation.

TN: Inflation tramps fiscal is what you’re all saying, is inflation tramps fiscal regardless of what happens with populist.

AM: Sorry, Sam. Let’s make a quick real quickly. Inflation is a nuclear football for politicians.

TN: Well, especially at 7.6%. Right. So fuel inflation of 40% year on year. I mean, this is crazy.

Okay, let’s move into what we expect for next week. What are you guys looking for next week?

SR: The flattening on the 210s curve will continue until the Fed breaks something and has to go the other way.

TN: Okay.

SR: I think that to me is the easy trade out there right now. It’s 210 flatten and done.

NG: Put a health warning on that.

SR: Yeah.

NG: If the Fed wimp out, I even think 25 basis points and non hawkish statement. If they whimp out, that long end is going to get hit because the idea of a flattening curve.

Remember, the sequencing is wrong here. That curve flattens after they’ve well into hiking cycles because of the potential for a recession. 13 out of the last 14 hiking cycles have led to a recession. That’s why I curved bear flat. Okay. It’s already doing it.

But the point is it’s because they think it will be enough. If the Fed given the narrative now, don’t go ahead with this. And I’m still anxious about the Fed, even though Powell warned back when the QE three was being launched, you’re going to create a whole lot of problems. Ironically, he got all the problems.

I’m just still nervous about this Fed because.

TN: I think everybody is Nick. I think that’s why we’re seeing the volatility because no one’s getting a clear signal. And we saw some Fed governors out on Friday saying that 50 basis points is too much and putting 25 basis points into question.

So I’m not sure if there’s a consensus.

NG: Actually, there’s a great trade to be had. Great trade in some of the markets. You buy a struggle, you buy volatility effectively. Make it, usually pay up for premium, but you make it completely not dependent on direction.

TN: Is what you’re saying for the next several weeks.

NG: Because they’re not going to suppress volatility anymore. It’s reversed. So everything they do now is by definition going to be creating more volatility. We’ve been zero rates, forward guidance. Let’s just cruise.

And the balance sheet is pushing stocks up. The other thing you need to watch, by the way, is the level of reserves.

TN: Right.

NG: Because I actually think if back in 19 there was that Reserve issue with the repo. I think that slightly could be problematic if something like that happens again.

TN: Okay, great. Good to know. So let’s go one by one. And what do you guys see say in equity markets next week? Is your bias for equity markets? Do you have a downside bias in equity markets? Sorry, Albert, go ahead.

AM: So I was just going to say next week, I think it’s going to be all about the Federal Reserve’s narrative building. It’s going to be a choppy session in equities all week. They’re preparing you, they’re sending out boulerd with ridiculous 100 point basis comments, and they’re just preparing you for a 50 basepoint rate hike.

TN: Right.

AM: So that’s what I think is going to happen. So we’ll just be choppy on next week.

TN: Okay. Sam?

SR: I like SPX more than I like the Dow, and I like the queues less than I like the Dow.

TN: Amid the volatility, you believe in tech?

SR: No. Okay. I don’t like any of them. Okay. And I prefer the S&P to the Dow. And I prefer the Dow to the queues.

TN: Okay.

SR: Yes, exactly. And I don’t like any of them. But if you had a gun to my head and made me buy something, it would be SPX and shorting queues against it.

TN: So there’s a slight downside bias in markets next week, equity markets? Okay, Nick, same?

NG: Yes. I think, as I said, I like what I wrote. News is law of gravity. As these rates come up, it starts to put gravity on the equity market and gravity will bring it down.

TN: Okay.

NG: One provisor, though. If we get some, along the path that we’re going, we get some serious shake outs. I do think what could be interesting is some of these commodity related starts, because actually commodities do quite well during a hiking cycle. Okay. That again, fits with our thesis anyway.

AM: Of course, gold has been on a tear for the last four trading days.

NG: Confusing everybody, right?

AM: Yeah, of course.

TN: Sam, do you agree with that commodity during the hiking cycle?

SR: I think oil is great during a hiking cycle. If you look back over hiking cycles, oil tends to do pretty well. I actually like the long oil short gold trade.

TN: Okay. So you bring us into a good point. Oil was my last stopping point. So, Albert, Nick, do you guys sit in the same place with oil? You think in the short term, say next week oil is looking good, or you think it continues to trade sideways?

AM: I think it goes up. I know. Rumors are Fed buying oil futures. I think it’s going to go up to 110. Not next week, but over the next week.

TN: Even with the inflationary pressure? Even with, which is unbelievable for me to say that. Even with the dollar rising. It’s unbelievable for me to say this.

NG: Albert just made a great point. These commodities are all at new levels and really the dollar hasn’t collapsed yet.

TN: Okay?

NG: Can you imagine what would happen if the dollar sells off some of these commodities?

TN: Yeah, we’re going to have to wrap it up there. So thanks very much, guys. This has been great and have a great week ahead.

Week Ahead

The Week Ahead – 07 Feb 2022

In this episode, we talked about some really interesting tech earnings like of Facebook and Amazon, crude and natgas prices, and the bond market. How does the NFP data affect the bond market? Also discussed central bank’s reaction to inflation and why you should be keeping your eyes on the CPI?

This is the fifth episode of The Week Ahead in collaboration of Complete Intelligence with Intelligence Quarterly, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

For those who prefer to listen to this episode, here’s the podcast version for you.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:


Show Notes

TN: Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. And I’m joined by Tracy Shuchart, Nick Glinsman, and Albert Marko. 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.

We had a lot this week. We had tech earnings, some really interesting tech earnings and market activity as a result. We had crude really ripping this week. And we had bonds raging at the end of the week. So really a lot happening across sectors, NASA classes.

So let’s start with the bond market, Nick. We seem to have gotten pretty much what you mentioned on last week’s show. So can you go into kind of what’s happened and what’s happening in the bond market right now?

NG: Yeah, we’ve basically been ambushed by inflation. That’s what’s happened. You saw yesterday out of the ECB, which was a hawkish twist, possibly one of the worst press conference performances I’ve ever seen in my life. But the facts of the matter are you’ve got five, six, 7% inflation in various countries of the EU. In Lithuania, you’ve got 12%. Okay. So they are failing at their predominant original mandate, which was inflation per the Bundes back from what I’ve been told, there were several members of the MPC.

TN: Sorry. When you say she, you mean Christine Lagarde?

NG: Christine Lagarde. Several members of the NPC wanted to get moved yesterday. Not going to happen but it’s reasonable to think perhaps two hikes this year, but that will still take us to -20 basis points. It will still be negative. Okay. And then that upset the European bond markets.

You have the Bank of England go first with 25 basis points, four dissenters wanting half a point. That started to rock the bond markets a little bit. Then the press conference out of the ECB, and you basically had, goodness how many Sigma move it was in two-year bubbles, two-year German government bonds. But they basically went up over 20 basis points in a couple of hours, terminating early this morning, and they’ve stayed elevated.

And then you had this non farm payroll data. Everybody got it wrong. And the thing is, if you think this month’s figures are nonsense, well, look at the revision.

TN: Sorry, when you mentioned the NFP data, what’s important about the NFP data? Because I think some people looked at the headline employment numbers, some people looked at the wage rate. So can you tell us what’s important there?

NG: Two things. One is nobody was expecting a non farm payroll at like this. Some people will say, well, it’s always going to be revised. Well, okay, then look at the near $400,000 upward revision for December. It’s. All their data. The way it’s coming out. The BLS isn’t necessarily the best, but everything that they look at is strong labor market.

The thing that really upset the bond market was the average hourly earnings. 5.7%. To Albert’s point last week. Wage inflation is here to stay. So having been inundated with calls this morning, that really affects what the Fed… The Fed actually are fighting for their credibility.

TN: When you say wage inflation is here to stay, but it’s really, is the Fed trying to break the back of wage inflation?

NG: Well, that’s something they could impact. Right. By increasing the demand side of the market. We’ll have another idea on inflation next week. The CPI. And the lowest forecast is 7%. The highest is 7.6%. They’re not getting the favorable comparisons because oil has continued to move up. Energies continue to move up. Right.

So assuming we’ve got a seven big handle and heaven help us if we haven’t hit the 8 handle at all, this Fed has no choice. Because as you can see with the bond market, the bond market is going to do the Fed’s job if they don’t do, it.

So every time we get to what you had over the last couple of days with a bit of pullback before the ECB had a bit of pullback by some of the Fed members, the FMC members, and the yoke of, steepened.

AM: I got a question for you, Nick. Can you buy bonds if oil goes vertical? Because I think we both think that oil is going 120 north.

NG: Yeah. Well, no. I think that’s another reason why you can’t be long bonds at the moment and the bond market will adjust to it.

Everybody said the bond vigilantes are dead. When you look at the percentage moves and the price of the bonds, they’re not these are big moves going on.

TS: Nick, can you address a little bit about what will happen to the credit markets as far as the bond movement?

NG: High yield seem to do okay today, which investment grade, fine. Historically, in rising rates, you should see investment grade is somewhat better. High yield, no. High yield. I mean, if these rates are going to start moving up and some of the stuff I heard today tells me “one and done” is not going to happen. It’s going to be more and they’re not going to have a choice.

And the central banks have been basically what you had in the last seven or eight days is the central banks admitting they made a policy error or two last year. And now they’re fearful of making further policy errors. So they’ve got to be seen to do.

And again, to Albert’s point last week, clearly the Biden administration is, had their backs on the inflation front. And I suspect from what I was being told, we’re going to be quite surprised at potentially how aggressive this Fed could be. Not 50 basis points in March. That will be too quick. Too much, too quick. But May, June could well be in play because these numbers aren’t coming down. They’re just not coming down.

TN: Okay. So regardless Q2 is when things start to happen on the interest rate front, on the rates front, right?

NG: Yeah. In terms of QT, I was told the second half, beginning of the second half. Second half.

TN: So does that mean July or November?

NG: Probably means July. Okay.

AM: I honestly think it’s a possibility we do that beforehand just because fiscal cliff is coming in March.

TN: How do they go from QE to QT? Just like that? They shouldn’t be doing QE right now anyway. That’s true. It’s still doing QE. So they missed a beat there.

AM: How do you taper if you’re doing QE still? Why doesn’t anybody ask that question or answer?

TN: I ask it every week.

AM: Tony, I was on this thing with Andreas and “we’re going to taper.” I’m like, “okay, sure.” On paper. But the reality is you’re not because the QE is continuous.

TN: I don’t know. It seems to me from what Nick is saying, it may not be continuous. It seems like that has to stop because the policy position is going to stop in March. Right?

NG: Exactly. Which is why I think 25 basis points, not 50. However, I think right now, until they’ve caught up somewhat forward guidance is not going to be with clarity.

They want to get back to normal so they can be forward guiding according to what we were used to in the deflationary times. Pre-Covid. Okay.

TN: Okay. So when you say pre-Covid, you mean pre-Covid in terms of interest rate and balance sheet?

NG: Yeah. I think it’s exactly what I’ve been told this morning. They want to get back to the interest rate level that was prevalent then. They want their balance sheet back at that level.

TN: Okay.

NG: And I think that what’s happened is not only have they been shocked by inflation, they shouldn’t be shocked by the false-ty of their forecast, but I think they were shocked by the fact that we’ve got a lot of bubbles going on.

Equity market value, housing market, NFT, crude oil. Crude oil’s not a bubble. Bonds have been a bubble. So I think we’ve got some surprise. And of course, that will then feed it.

Remember I said originally, there’s either a riot in the bond market or riot in equity market.

TN: That’s right.

NG: One or the other. It started with bonds, and then we got a bit of an equity riot yesterday, which was more earnings related. But the thing about it is if you look at interest rates as gravity, zero interest rates with basically zero gravity. So you’re on the moon. Equity starts have been up here. If they’re raising rates, they’re increasing the level of gravity. News and law means that something starts to fall.

I was also told if it’s not a cascade, if it’s orderly, sort of down 20% from here, they’re okay with it.

TN: Okay. That puts us at what, 36?

NG: 35, 36,000, which is still above where we were before Covid. Right?

TN: Right.

NG: Fed will be happy with it. This put, is not, there’s no clarity on the put anymore.

TN: Okay. Is it safe to say that your view by the end of the year is sometime between now and the end of the year will hit 35, $3600?

NG: Look, the Fed. These rate markets will carry on. Any mistake by the Fed, any hesitation, it’s going to be punished by rates. And you’ve seen what’s happening, and it happens. It crosses over. You saw what happened in the European bond market as well this Thursday. Bank of England. You saw Gilts market also adjust, and that flowed through to the US market and it continued today.

TN: So do you think the ten-year crosses 2% next month?

NG: Oh, yeah. My target on the ten-year for this year is 260.

TN: Okay, great. So let’s take that and a central bank’s reaction, inflation. Tracy, we’re seeing crude prices just kind of a rocket ship. So can you talk us through that and let us know how does that contribute to next week’s CPI? And Nick mentioned CPI, but what do you expect for that as well?

TS: Well, I mean, I expect CPI to be high. However, the Fed doesn’t really include energy and housing in there and food in their metrics. So that doesn’t necessarily play into that.

That said, I think what we saw today was a lot of shorts being squeezed out of the market. That said, still expecting higher crude prices later this year into Q3.

The reason being because the global oil inventories just drew another 8 million. We have OPEC that just announced another 400K increase for next month this week. Right. And they haven’t even been able to keep up with their production increases. I mean, their compliance is over 132% right now. They just don’t have the spare capacity to move forward. US products consumed last week hit 21.6 million barrels. That’s over 2019 levels.

So globally, we’re seeing higher demand with lower supplies. So this market is likely to continue higher just because of actual supply and demand issues, which I’ve been talking about week over week.

What’s also interesting today is that nobody’s really talking about is that Saudi Aramco just announced that they’re mulling another 50 billion equity stake sale. Right. And so it would be a good thing to keep kind of oil prices higher and inventory is kind of lower. Right?

TN: Sure.

TS: There’s a lot going on in the market right now.

TN: Okay. And as we see this cold front come through different parts of the US, of course, it’s winter. But do you expect, say, Nat gas to continue to rally or say, for the next couple of weeks or next couple of months, or do you expect that we’re kind of in the zone where we’re going to be through the winter?

TS: I mean, I think we’re kind of in the zone. US nat gas prices are not as subject to the volatility or the constraints that say European nat gas prices are concerned. I mean, we have an overabundance of Nat gas, we tend to flare it.

We’re going to be this year the world’s largest exporter. Right. But that’s not necessarily going to bring I mean, you have to look at our gas prices trading at four or $5 compared to nat gas prices in Europe trading at $40. So I think we’re at a sideways market right now just because of the oversupply that we have.

What we are saying is depending on what area you live in, then natural gas prices tend to vary. So we’re looking at the North East, for example, where we have this cold front. Nat gas prices are at $11. Right. But Henry Hub, which is what everybody’s trading is still at 4 to 5. We’re going to see not gas prices rise in Texas right now because we have a cold front coming through. But again, that’s a regional market.

TN: I was just complaining about gasoline prices being $3 here in Texas earlier today, so I just can’t deal with it. Where is it where you guys are?

AM: $4.25 in Tampa.

TN: $4.25?! Holy cow. What about you, Tracy?

TS: $3.99 in the Northeast.

TN: We’re right at $3, and I can barely stand it.

Okay, let’s move along with the geopolitical stuff. So, of course, Ukraine is on everyone’s mind. And we’ll put a link to this in the show description, the video from the State Department spokesman and the AP diplomacy reporter. Albert, can you talk us through a little bit of that kind of what’s happening there and what is that doing to the situation to find a diplomatic solution?

AM: Well, simplistically, I mean, you have the Biden administration trying to amp up the rhetoric and make it more dramatic, basically to distract from what’s going on domestically in the United States from inflation and social issues, and SCOTUS picks down the list of the problems that are facing the Biden administration. That exchange was unbelievable.

You had an AP reporter just taking him to task and saying “where’s the declassified information? And his response was, “I’m telling you verbally right now, and that’s the declassified information.” That’s unbelievable. You’re not going to get away with that.

This is just more of a symptom of the ineptitude of Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State. He shouldn’t even be called “Secretary of State” anymore. It should be “Secretary of statements,” because that’s all he does. He doesn’t do anything else. And when it’s concerning with Ukraine and his method for, “diplomacy”, he’s a non factor. The United States is a non factor, right now.

They’re behind the eight ball where they keep talking up this rhetoric and putting their allies in Europe behind the black ball here. What do we do here? We need support from the United States to show strength, but realistically, we can’t stop them going into Ukraine.

TN: Okay. Yeah. So let’s just go onto a viewer question here from @SachinKunger. He says, what will happen if there is an actual escalation between Russia and Ukraine? What’s the likelihood of actual escalation and what do you think would happen? Both you and Tracy? Part of it is commodity prices. Is there an impact on commodity supply chains, meaning wheat and gas and other stuff to Europe or other places, or is that not necessarily a huge issue?

AM: Well, I believe we’re about 75% that they’re going to have some sort of incursion into Ukraine. I mean, you don’t mobilize that many people and create supply chain logistics to not do anything. That question really depends on the level of incursion. Right. Because if it’s just ten, 20,000.

TN: It goes back to Biden’s minor incursion.

AM: That’s the Pentagon’s working model. And that’s my working model. 10, 20 thousand, you go in the same place as you were before, you loot the countryside, cause a little disturbance. The west looks weak. You leave after a month or so. Right. That’s the likelihood situation.

Of course, the markets are going to freak out in day one.

TS: That’s exactly what I was going to say. I mean, obviously you’re going to see a reaction in the commodities markets just because we’ve had four years of really not much geopolitical risk factored into a lot of these markets, the agricultural markets, the energy market. Right. Pretty much after Libya had a ceasefire in 2020, all that risk premium kind of came out of at least the energy markets and the agricultural markets, we haven’t really seen a lot of geopolitical risks.

So of course, the markets will freak out. I totally agree with Albert on this point. Whether that’s going to last or not, that’s a totally different story.

TN: Yeah. I also think that we’ve had so much money supply that that cushions geopolitical risk on some level. And interest rates have been so low that that cushions geopolitical risk as well. So as we’re in this interest rate cycle and this balance sheet cycle, geopolitical risk counts for more. It’s more costly for companies, it’s more costly for countries and investors.

NG: I would add one other thing. These markets are not trading liquidly. So these moves on geopolitical risk could be exaggerated. Right?

TS: Exactly. My point is that geopolitical risk will be exaggerated at this point.

NG: You can see there’s no liquidity, right?

AM: Yeah. To be fair, any kind of event right now just makes the markets look like it’s a crypto exchange. 30% up, 30% down 300 points on the ES. That’s insane.

TN: On that, Albert, let’s move to some tech earnings and let’s talk about Facebook and Amazon. So if we want to talk about big moves, everyone kind of knows this, but can you talk us through a little bit of that? But I’m more interested in why it’s happening. Why is everyone negative on Meta and why are they positive on Amazon?

AM: Well, from my perspective, the Fed and their cohorts use maybe a dozen companies to pump the markets. Right. They’re mainly tech. Right. They’ve expanded out into a few other things, but it’s mainly tech, Facebook being one of them, Amazon being another. AMD and Google and all these guys. Right. All these big tech names.

Now when you see Facebook miss and a couple of other miss, and the markets start to get weak, there’s a point to where… This goes back to what Nick says about different levels in the markets and whatnot. He always stresses that with me. There’s a point to where if they break this level, we’re going down to 4100 or 4000 or God forbid, 3900. Right. So that lined up right when Amazon’s earnings were coming up. And I’m looking at the market and I’m looking at these levels and I’m like, there is absolutely no way they’re going to allow Amazon to miss. Whether they let them look the books or say something in guidance or whatnot. And lo and behold, what happened? Amazon beat. Did they really beat? Probably not. You know what I mean? Yeah. And then Pinterest that nobody cares about beats and then Snapchat. I don’t even know what the hell why they’re a company. They beat unbelievably. I think they were up like 50, 60% and after hours. Right.

So now they have their juice to pump the markets back up to 45, 30 or even maybe 4600 next week before the fiscal cliff becomes a problem.

TN: Okay.

TS: You also have to look at the bond market. Right? I mean, the more the ten-year tanks, the more that’s going to drag on tech.

TN: Right. So what does that tell us about the next couple of weeks, specifically next week? But the next couple of weeks? As we’ve seen, say Meta come down, Facebook come down. But we’ve seen these other things really rally. Where is tech as a sector?

AM: It’s a pump sector. That’s all it is right now. There’s nothing really behind it. It’s built on zero rates. Well, we know we’re going to get rate heights. So what are you betting on at the moment?

TN: Right. And that’s the basis of my question. If tech is a deflation play and we’re in inflationary environment and we’re going to have rate rises, what does that mean for tech in the near term? So are we at the kind of tail end of tech? That’s my real question.

NG: We’re at the tail end whilst we have to see these interest rate rises come through. And actually, you don’t necessarily have to see the central banks officially raise because if they don’t, the bond markets are… And then there’ll be a catch up. This is the problem. If they Underperform in their credibility catch up because they’ve already implicitly admitted their errors of policy, bond market will adjust and they have to catch up again.

Now, if they do something surprising on the rate side. So yesterday was an ECB shock, right? Today, there was nothing to do with the Fed. It was the data. Well, we’ve got that CPI date next week. Right. That’s going to be very interesting because I agree with Tracy. Core is at a certain level which is still too high. But it’s the full Monty, the full CPI that labor uses when they’re discussing their wage claims. Practically, that’s the behavior of economy.

TN: CPI is the single biggest event next week. Is that fair to say?

TS, AM, NG: Yes.

TN: Okay, so let’s look at that. What if it is, say seven, which is kind of the expectation, I guess the lower bound of expectation kind of. Right? So let’s say it’s seven or let’s say it’s even five. What does that mean for us? Does that mean continued, easy Fed? Or does that mean you have the same assumptions and that’s just kind of a milestone or something that we’re passing along the way to higher rates anyway?

NG: We’re on the way to higher rates anyway.

TN: Okay.

TS: I mean, if it’s five, the market, temporarily if it’s five, the market temporarily will probably rally because that lessens the effect that Fed is going to raise. Right. That percentage will probably go down. But that’s a temporary. If we’re just talking about market reaction on the data release, I don’t really see that happening. I don’t see 5% coming in. I don’t see that a possibility.

TN: But then let’s look at the other side. What if it’s eight and a half? What happens then?

NG: Well, then in the old days, it would have been an inter meeting rate hike.

TN: Okay. Right.

NG: And the bond market will just, it’ll be another riot. Even if the core is steady. Big figure eight on the full CPI? that would shock a few people. Like people were shocked today with the non- farm payroll data.

Literally, if you could watch Bloomberg TV, it was like. They couldn’t believe what was going on.

TN: So we’re in that place in the market where the porridge has to be just right. Is that fair to say?

TS: I think we’re in for volatility. Right? I mean, we’ve been experiencing volatility for the last month or so. I think this will continue until March, until we have some resolution of whether the Fed is going to raise rates or not.

In between, it’s going to be volatile because everybody’s looking at intermittent data saying, does this mean the Fed is going to raise rates? Does this mean the Fed is going to look do you know what I mean? So I think we’re in that pushbull thing, and I think that volatility will continue into next week. I think that volatility will continue until actually the March meeting, until we get some resolution on whether the Fed is going to raise rates and by how much.

TN: Okay. So if I just a couple of things for you to agree or disagree with, just short yes, no. Next week volatility in equities with downside bias, you agree or disagree?

AM: Disagree.

TN: Disagree. Nick, you agree or disagree? Downside bias, you agree. Tracy, equities, agree or disagree?

TS: I think it depends on the sector. Okay. Give me one or two. I think we’ll see, my downside bias is in tech and then obviously, yes, because it’s heavy tech. Right. And so I think we see sideways markets in the Dow and the Russell.

TN: Okay, then let’s do the same exercise for commodities. I know there’s a lot of companies out there, but generally commodities. Choppy with an upside bias. Agree or disagree?

TS, AM: Agreed.

NG: That’s a dollar call.

TN: Okay. Explain that.

NG: Yesterday because of the dollar’s weakness against the Euro and the Dixie, I tend to agree with you. I think it’s going to be choppy until we see the color of the CPI number.

TN: Okay. Very good. Anything else to add for the week ahead?

NG: Just keep your eyes on the bond market. My mantra.

TN: Very good. Okay.

TS: Keep your eyes on B come.

TN: Thanks guys. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend. And have a great week ahead.

TS: Thank you.

TN: I don’t know the left side of my screen is the pineapple people.

AM: We’re going to call Nick Luke for the episode today.

NG: The professional version of Luke.

AM: Okay. Anyways, I’m done joking. Let’s get this thing on the road. Okay.

TN: Good. Alright.

Week Ahead

Week Ahead 17 Jan 2022

This is the second 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. Among the topics: industrial metals, energy markets, natural gas, China’s flood of liquidity and property market, CNY, and bond market.

You can also listen to this episode on Spotify:

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:





Show Notes

TN: Hi, everyone, and thanks for joining us for The Week Ahead. My name is Tony Nash. We’re with Tracy Shuchart, Nick Glinsman, and Albert Marko. To talk about the markets over this past week and what we’ve expect to see next week. Before we get started, please subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the upcoming episodes.

So, guys, this week we saw kind of a whipsaw in equity and commodity markets with a slow start, but a lot of action mid week. And commodities seem to kind of extend gains until the end of the week. We saw bonds really wait until Friday to start taking off, but they took off quite a bit today. And part of that may have been on the back of the retail sales print that we saw. That was pretty disappointing. So, Tracy, do you want to kick us off a little bit with talking about commodity markets and energy?

TS: Sure. I mean, obviously, we’ve seen a big push in the oil market. Right, in WTI and Brent this week. We’re definitely a bit overbought. But that said, what I think is happening here is we’re seeing a shift from sort of growth to value. I think the markets are pricing in the fact that OMA crime is over. Right. And the Fed may raise rates. That’s putting pressure on growth and giving kind of a boost to the value market. And we’re kind of seeing a chase here a little bit in the oil markets.

As far as if we look at the natural gas markets, it’s been very volatile this week, not only in the US, but global markets. I think that will continue. And we saw a big push up on Wednesday, and then we saw a big pullback, but that was due to weather. But now we’re looking at this weekend, we’re having another cold front. And part of that reason was also because we discovered that Germany had less natural gas in storage than initially thought. So that market, I definitely think it’s going to continue to be very volatile. So try lightly in that market there’s.

TN: You mentioned the Germany supply side of the market, but what does supplies look like, say in the US and other parts of Europe? Are supplies normal? Are they low? What is that dynamic?

TS: Yeah, we’re pretty much normal in the US, and we’re set to in this year. We’re set to pretty much overtake the market as far as the export market is concerned. That would mean taking over Australia and Qatar because of the amount that we’re building out in the delivery system in Texas. But the supplies here are okay. The problem is within the United States is that the distribution is uneven.

So you’re talking about the Northeast, where you’re seeing local natural gas prices a lot higher there. Then you’re seeing, say, in Henry Hub, which is the natural gas product that trade that you’re trading.

TN: So I saw some just to get a little bit specific on this. I saw some news today about some potential brownouts in, say, New York or something because of this winter storm. How prevalent will that be? Maybe not just say, this weekend going next week, but for the rest of the winter. Are the supply problems that extreme?

TS: Yeah, I think you’re going to have a lot of problems in the Northeast. And I’ve been alluding to this over the last few months saying that they have decided not to go ahead with pipelines. They’ve shut pipelines. They kind of cut off their supply because they don’t really want to pursue that Avenue anymore.

However, it’s turning out to be a particularly cold winter, and that’s a lot of pressure on that market. And that’s why we’re seeing $11 natural gas prices up in that area as opposed to $4 in Henry Hub.

TN: Right. Meantime, Albert’s warm down in Florida, right.

AM: Yeah. Well, I wanted to ask Tracy what happens if we have an extended winter where the winter temperatures go into late March or early April.

TS: Then that’s extremely bullish. That’ll be extremely bullish for domestic supplies because domestic supplies will be in higher demand than they are normally seasonally, especially at a time where we’re a giant exporter right now.

We just came to save the day in Europe with 52 now cargo. So we’re exporting a lot if we have an expanded winter here. Supplies are unevenly distributed. We’re going to see I think we’ll see higher prices in out months that we normally see a pullback in those markets.

TN: Great. Texas, thanks you for those cargo, by the way. We really appreciate it. Okay. What about the broader commodity complex? What are we seeing on, say, industrial metals and precious metals?

TS: So obviously, those have been very bullish are going to continue to be bullish because they’re in deficit. As far as if we’re talking about battery metals and such, I think we’ll continue to see that we’re seeing a little bit in the platinum markets. We’re seeing some demand. I think there’s going to be bigger demand this year.

TN: So we’ll show some platinum on screen here so our viewers can see kind of where the platinum price is and where it’s expected to go.

TS: Yeah. So platinum demands expected to grow because of the automobile markets and because of Palladium is so high they can substitute platinum for that. But that may be capped for the rest of the year, and then we may continue to see higher prices going into 2023.

TN: Okay. So when you say that’s growing because of automotive, is this growth in ice ice vehicles. Okay. And is that happening because and I don’t mean these leading questions, but is that happening because the chip shortage is alleviating and we’re having more manufacturing in ice vehicles?

TS: I mean, that’s part of it. But platinum is used for catalytic inverters Palladium. And because of the fact that there’s platinum happens to be a lot less expensive. Right now. And also there’s more of it right now. So we’re seeing kind of demand pulled to the platinum industry. And I’ve kind of been worrying about this for the last couple of years that this was going to happen.

And now we’re kind of seen that comes to fruition because it takes a couple of years to retool and everything to sort of switch that metal. So I think demand looks good right now for that. We may see it capped a little bit. That may go up again. But if we look at this chart, technically speaking, I would say anywhere between 1005 a 1010. If we kind of Zoom above that, then that market could go a lot higher.

TN: Right. So short term opportunities in platinum, medium term, not so much, but longer term back in.

TS: Yes.

TN: Okay, great. Now when you talk about industrial metals like copper and you say a lot is needed for batteries, these sorts of things, that’s a more medium, longer term term opportunity. Is that right?

TS: Absolutely. When you’re talking about things, I mean, we’re already seeing the nickel market, cobalt market, lithium market, aluminum markets all hitting new highs. Copper’s kind of waffling about. But that’s kind of more a marathon trade rather than a sprint trade, in my opinion. So I think we’re going to see more and more demand for that further out in the market. So it’s kind of a longer term investment.

TN: Okay, great. And then what about industrial metals demand in China? As we switch to talk about a China topic, are we seeing industrial metals demand rise in China, or is it still kind of stumbling along and it’s recovery.

TS: That is still kind of stumbling along. And so what I have said before try to emphasize is that I think a lot of these battery metals in particular demand is going to go going to be outside of China.

China won’t be the main driver of this demand anymore as the west policies want to change to EVs and greener technology. So I think you’re going to start seeing very much increased demand for the west. So China demand might not be as significant anymore in that particular area.

TN: Okay. So that’s interesting. You mentioned China demand, Dink and Albert, I’m interested in your view on that. We had the Fed come out last week and talk about tightening and reinforced some of that this week. What dynamic is necessary in China, if anything, for the Fed to start tightening?

AM: Well, I think first of all, Tony, China is going to have to stimulate. They’re starting to prioritize growth for the first time in a long time. They see the US in a bit in a little bit of trouble here with the Fed making policy errors. I don’t want to say heirs. We’re more about like throwing together against the wall and see what works. Right.

So China is trying to be the seesaw for the world’s finance sector. Money comes into the United States it goes out. Where is it going to go? It’s either Europe or China. Europe right now is a complete mess. So obviously you see that money going into China you will keep on leaning on businesses and look to control more than you should but they’re breaking up a lot of the old power structures and that’s actually bullish long term for China. We can debate many of these episodes that we’re doing now, Tony, about whether it’s a good or bad thing for the China power structure. But that’s for another day.

TN: Right. What kind of stimulus if we look at things like loan demand so we’ll put up that chart on loan demand. Can you talk us through can you talk us through the chart of what it means and what the PPO will likely do as a result of low demand or consumer credit? Sorry.

NG: Yeah, the credit impulse so that’s private sector lending as a percentage of GDP and that chart shows it may have based and that looks like what we’ve been hearing is that the PBOC has been encouraging the private sector to start extending credit into the system, particularly to find off the real estate market which is not a surprise.

My personal view and some of the people that I talked to on China is that’s just filling a hole. This is plugging holes or putting plasters on various holes. So what will be interesting is to see how that progresses further down the line along this year. I don’t think nothing’s going to happen before February 1, lunar new year and then you’re running into that plenum. Do they encourage that you’ve got the Olympics and then you’ve got the plenum? Do they encourage some sort of boost?

I don’t think there’s going to be much fiscal. I think there’s a reason for that. I think there’s a connection with the real estate sector. Real estate sector. As a source of great funding for the local governments.

TN: They spend fiscal on bailing out real estate already. Why would…

NG: You have to provide fiscal to the local governments just for the services?

TN: Right. So the central party meetings are in November, so there’s plenty of time between Lunar New Year and November to really tick off some monetary stimulus and get some feel good factor in, say, Q three or something. Is that what you’re thinking?

NG: There is a desire, as Albert rightly said, they are talking about the economy now, but it just feels like it’s one plug the bad, the big holes that have been appearing and they just keep appearing and now we’ve got Shamal. It just seems like it’s step by step plug every hole and then give a little bit of access to try and get the private credit rolling again.

AM: Tony, everybody is looking for a flood. When is the flood of liquidity going to come into China? Right. But that’s not going to happen until May or June until they see what the US Fed is going to do because nobody right now knows what the Fed is going to do.

Inflation is obviously a problem within China, specifically oil and other commodities, as Tracy was talking about. Their eyes are completely on the Fed. China will have to pop services sector as a real economy. It’s kind of a shambles there due to commodity prices and inflation.

The willingness is there to lend. There’s no question about that. But who wants property right now in China? They can force feed the economy via credit. But that’s inflationary also. So there’s another do move here within China. How do they boost their economy but still keep inflation down? Same thing the United States is going through. Okay.

TN: So let me give you a really simple trick here.

NG: Let’s not forget you’re seeing some majors. Shanghai now has Omikaron. Remember, China, supposedly, according to the World Health Organization, didn’t suffer the first route, but you got Dahlin is closed, Nimboa’s got problems now Shanghai, Shenzhen, and they’re worried it’s going to head up towards Beijing.

All these international flights to Hong Kong completely canceled. So that’s another problem if you extrapolate and equate it to what’s happened in the west whenever these outbreaks have occurred.

TN: Yeah, but I think the solution. Yeah, that’s a problem. I think everybody’s facing that and I think China is just very, very sensitive about that. We can come up with whatever kind of conspiracy theories we want about China, but I just really think that they’re very embarrassed by COVID and they’re trying to cover things up, not cover up, but they’re trying to offset the negative preconceptions globally by taking dramatic action at home. That’s my view.

TS: And they have Chinese New Year and the Olympics coming up, right?

TN: Yeah. And they’re being very careful about that now. My view for quite some time has been that they would keep the CNY strong until after Lunar New Year and after Lunar New Year, they could get some easy economic gains by weakening CNY just a bit. Is that fair?

AM: I think it’s fair. They don’t want the bottom to fall out of the economy. And the extent of their damage the extent of damage to the economy was pretty significant. So they’re going to have to pull off a few tricks. Like you said.

TN: It’s percentage wise, it’s a lot. But in reality, at 65667 CNY historically, it’s nothing compared to where that currency has been historically. And I think it’s pretty easy to devalue to that level. And I think they would get some real economic gain from that.

AM: Yeah. But again, it matters what the Feds are going to do with rate hikes. That’s the wild card.

NG: The devaluation not just look at the dollar, look at the CFA, because I think it pays them to value against the Euro more than the dollar.

TN: Yeah. Okay. We can have a long talk about the CFO’s basket at some point.

NG: My point is you got to look at the Euro CNY as well as the US, because I think that’s where they’ll go.

TN: Yeah. Okay. So does this present an opportunity for Chinese equities in the near term, or is it pushed off until Q two?

AM: I mean, from my perspective, I’ve been on Twitter saying that I’ve gotten into Chinese equities. They are de facto put on the US market, in my opinion. They don’t have the strength of the actual but does. But money has got to flow somewhere, and if it’s not going to the United States. It’s going to go to China.

TN: Okay. All right. Let’s move on to bonds. Okay. Nick, can you cover bonds and tell us are we on track? Are things happening as you expected? Do markets do bonds like what the Fed has been saying? What’s happening there?

NG: Well, the initial reaction after the testimony from Powell was you had a steadying and a slight rally in bond prices, slightly slower yields. But I thought today was fascinating because today we’ve across the York Cove. We’ve made new highs for the move, so we’re at the highest yield for the last year.

What was interesting is we had that disappointing retail sales. Okay. That would typically suggest if this Fed is sensitive on the economy, perhaps they won’t do much. Well, the bond market didn’t like that. So now you have what is typically good news for the bond market, creating a sell off. And that tells me that the bond market is beginning, especially with the yield curve. Stevening, the bond market is beginning to express more anything that suggests that the Fed doesn’t do what they’re talking about. The market wants to see action. Not words.

TN: We’re getting punished for now.

NG: And what’s interesting is if you think a little bit further forward, if the Fed does hold back and isn’t as aggressive as some of the governors have been suggesting, three to four hikes I didn’t think Ms. Bond Mark is going to like that.

TN: Or Jamie Diamond saying eleven heights.

AM: Jamie diamond is nothing that comes out of his mouth should be taken at face value. Him knocking the 30 year bonds down today, he’s just setting himself up to buy. I mean, the guys he talks his book always has.

TN: Hey, before we move on, before we move on to talking about next week, we did get a question from Twitter from @garyhaubold “Does the FOMC raise rates at the March meeting? And how much does the S&P500 have to decline before they employ the Powell put and walk back their lofty tapering and tightening goals” in 20 seconds or less going, Albert? Oh, 20 seconds or less.

AM: Well, the market needs to get down to at least the 4400, if not the 43 hundreds. That’s got to be done in a violent manner. And it has to put pressure on Congress to do it. And they can’t raise rates unless they get at least $2 trillion in stimulus.

NG: And also don’t forget the Cr expires on February 18. So we could be in the midst of a fiscal cliff.

TN: February 18. Okay. We’ll all be sitting at the edge of our seat waiting for that. Okay. So week ahead, what do you guys think? Albert, what are you seeing next week?

AM: Opec pump for Tuesday and then Biden dump for Wednesday as they set up a build back better push in Congress, along with probably a hybrid stimulus bill to try to get to that $2 trillion Mark. Otherwise, they got no fiscal and this market is going to be in some serious trouble.

TN: Okay. Can they do it? Can they do some sort of BBB hybrid?

AM: Yeah, they can do it. They can get ten Republicans on board as long as there’s a small business, small and medium sized business stimulus program. Okay. They’ll get that.

TN: And if they do market react and you say that’s $2 trillion. You say that’s…

AM: They need a minimum of 2 trillion to be able to even think about raising rates in March.

TN: Okay. And Nick, how does it matter?

AM: This is dependent on how bad inflation actually gets, because if we get an 8% print of inflation next month. Then everything is on the table.

TN: So can you say that you cut out just a little bit if we get what, an 8% print?

AM: If we get an 8% print on CPI the next time around and anything is on the table.

NG: Okay. I think what was happening with the bond market basically is it’s beginning to look a little bit longer term. And I’ve had this conversation, the big traders, the big fund managers are sitting there thinking, okay, look at crude oil now, 85 on Brent. Energy price is crazy in Europe.

That’s going to feed through from the wholesale level all the way through to the consumer via manufacturing goods, via the housing market, via service industries. Starbucks has to charge some more because they’ve got a much bigger overhead.

TN: Netflix just raised their prices by a buck 50 or $2 a month or something.

TS: Filters down to everything. Energy runs the world, right? So that’s going to higher energy prices are going to factor into literally everything you do.

NG: And my personal view, I think that sort of works is in sync with Tracy. I think crude goes a lot higher. I think this year we could see north of 100, perhaps as high as 120. This all feeds through, right? So the point is the bond market there’s a lot of conversations on a longer term plane right now. And the bond market is an expression if it’s higher yields, yield curves deepening.

Anything that says that the fed is hesitant, I think you get sent off. I think that’s why we sold off. We should have been running on week retail sales.

TN: Okay, Nick. Sorry. If we do get a $2 trillion bill, what’s going to happen with bonds?

NG: They’ll be sold.

TN: They’ll be sold. Okay. So they’re going to punish the fed if we get fiscal?

NG: They’ll punish the fiscal fed to start acting and acting in short order. And I remain unconvinced. We’ve only heard words. We got to see the action. They’re still doing. Qe. Right? It’s absurd.

TN: Yes. We’re going to keep the flow going over here, but we’re going to raise interest rates over here. I’m not sure I get it. There’s been that disconnect ever since they announced this in December.

Okay, guys. Thank you very much. We’ve hit our time. Have a great week ahead and we’ll see you next week. Thank you very much.

AM, TS, NG: Thank you. Bye.


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

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

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

📊 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 December 16, 2021.

The views and opinions expressed in this The year ahead: What have we learned from 2021? (Part 1) Quickhit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


Show Notes

TN: So, Patrick, you’ve got not only the Covid call, you’ve gotten a lot of inflation calls right through the pandemic. And as we wrap up 2021, I guess what I’d really like is, what are you thinking about right now and then how does that set the stage for your view on 2022?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TN: Sure.

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

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

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

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

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

TN: That’s a great statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TN: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quick Hit Cage Match: Van Metre vs Boockvar on Inflation (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of the inflation discussion with Steven van Metre and Peter Boockvar with your host Tracy Shuchart. In this second part, they talked about the possibility of the Fed tapering this year or early in 2022. How about the possible rate hike and what will possibly happen in other parts of the world like Bank of Japan and Bank of England if ever this happens? What is Powell doing exactly and why? Is there a possibility of a new Fed chair next year? And what do they think about stagflation?


For Part 1 of this QuickHit Cage Match episode, please go here. 


Steven van Metre is a money manager who have invented a strategy called Portfolio Shield. He also has a YouTube show that discusses economic data and the news three days a week.


Peter Boockvar is the Chief Investment Officer and portfolio manager at Bleakley Advisory Group. He has a daily macromarket economic newsletter called The Boock Report.


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

📊 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 October 14, 2021.


The views and opinions expressed in this Quick Hit Cage Match: Van Metre vs Boockvar on Inflation Part 2 episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Show Notes


TS: Do you see the Fed tapering? And if they do, how much is this going to affect inflation? And also, I know the market is saying the Fed is going to raise rates in ’22, 2023. But is this a reality at all?


But before we jump into that, I just wanted to remind you to please subscribe to our YouTube channel.


PB: I think the Fed will at least start the taper and see how it goes. The thing that is different with this taper is that it’s coinciding with central banks around the world that are also beginning to remove accommodation. However slow, however glacial that process is, they’re all outside of the BOJ. They’re all doing it at once.


So if the Fed starts to taper in December, which they basically told you that they will, well, the Bank of England could be raising rates in December. We recently got a rate hike from Norway a month or two ago from South Korea. We’ve had Canada and Australia trimmed QE. Even the ECB has trimmed QE. So there’s a global shift to tightening. And I do believe tapering is tightening to define that. Just as we saw last year, the past 18 months obviously massive global easing.


Now I can’t even discuss the rate hike situation because I’m not even sure that they’re going to be able to get through the tapering. If you look back to 2010, every single notable market correction in equities and also fixed income markets outside of Covid and the one evaluation in August 2015 coincided with the end of QE, where it was a hard stop QE1 and QE2. And then obviously you had the taper 2013 and then obviously around rate hikes. Every single one coincided with a tightening of policy. And even again, it was gradual. It still affected markets. And we’re going to have it again to think that we’re going to somehow get through tapering without any accidents, I think, is delusional. And you believe that there’s a free lunch and it’s a matter of what kind of accident occurs by this.


Now QE itself essentially, at the end of the day, it’s an asset swap. And yeah, does some of that money sort of filter into markets? Yeah, maybe, I guess. But a lot of it’s psychological, but it also does help to, at least on the short end, suppress interest rates to where they would be otherwise. That said, when QE has been on, you’ve been paid to steepen the curve when QE is off, it pays to flatten it. And I think we’ve seen some recent flattening in the yield curve. And I think that that has been the right trade to do when QE is about to turn off.


But to Steve’s point about the bottom 50%. Well, if you get a short equity market correction, well, the top 50% is going to feel that as well. And yeah, can that filter into how they spend for sure? But that doesn’t necessarily resolve the supply issues.


That’s how this inflation story is going to recalibrate. The supply side is going to take a couple of years, and it’s going to be less demand. That is going to recalibrate this inflation story. And I think that is. No central bank wants to preside over a declining economy. But unfortunately, you’re going to have to have a trade off. You want lower inflation and a slower economy or an economy, as is but fast inflation, that’s going to hurt the people that can least afford it.


SVM: Yeah, this balance sheet taper thing is really interesting because I will be on record. I’ll hold on record still, and I don’t think the Fed’s going to do it. Although, as Peter mentioned, you just said that you think that the Fed is going to start and then quit. I’ve had to come to your side of the fence on that deal, mainly because when Powell spoke at Jackson Hole, it seemed like he was saying, we can’t make this mistake. We got to keep easing because we could let off the gas too soon.


And then for whatever reason, there’s this massive pivot between that and the last meeting. And he’s going to have a disadvantage going into the November F-O-M-C. And not have the non farm payroll report because he concludes me on Wednesday. Nonfarm payroll is out on Friday. Maybe he’s got some early access, who knows? But it seems like all of a sudden he’s in a panic to start tapering.


Now, could this be because we know the treasury is going to reduce their issuance of notes and bonds as we borrow less money, and he doesn’t want to be over purchasing? Sure. Could it be, as Peter mentioned, that the other central banks are tapering and starting to raise hike rates. And that’s interesting, because the way I look at it is that would be a catalyst if the Fed doesn’t start tapering, that the dollar goes higher.


Well, there’s part of the inflation story that almost nobody is looking at. What if the dollar gets up into 96, 97, maybe even close to 100? I mean, we’re talking about destroying the inflation story just from the dollar alone. And is this one of those things where we had coordinated easing? So now we need to have coordinated tapering to keep the dollar from going up too much? I’m not sure what his motivation is, but I will say this. There’s no way that they get to the end of that taper. There’s a 0% chance they’re going to raise rates. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter. They’ve effectively given the banks a pass by saying, look, there’s no reserve requirement because, well, you’ve got all these QE reserves you don’t need anymore.


The whole idea that we’re going to get this balance sheet unwound. I think the bond market is telling us the Fed’s making a mistake. I think, Peter, you and I agree that we don’t know how many months they’re going to go? The only question is, at what point is there a payroll report or some data that comes out that the Fed goes, “Oh, my God, we made a big mistake.”


PB: I’ll tell you why he’s doing this. Well, first of all, the whole purpose of monetary policy, as we know, is to push the demand side. And if you look at what are the two most interest rate sensitive parts of the economy — it’s housing and autos. So is Powell with a straight face going to say, I need to pedal to the metal, continue to stimulate the demand for housing and autos, when you can’t find an auto and the price of the home is worth 20% more than last year? They need to take their foot off that demand pedal. And he does not want to be Arthur Burns. He does not want to be Arthur Burns. And right now he is headed towards being Arthur Burns.


And the Fed is going to reach a pivot point, where if inflation still remains sticky and persistent, but growth is really decelerating to a greater extent than it already is. And we know that the Atlanta Fed third quarter GDP number has one handle on it. He’s going to have to reach a point, do I try to come inflation, but then risk further weakness in the economy and a fall in asset prices, which JPowell obviously inflated. Where is he going to just not really respond quick enough. And being in Washington, we can be sure he probably leans towards trying to save the economy, but then that creates its own problems.


The one thing in the dollar, the dollar is going to get tied into this, too, because if he remains too easy for too long, well, that may sacrifice the dollar. If he is more aggressive at dealing with inflation, well, then you can see a faster move in the dollar. So he’s just been an absolutely no win situation here. But there is going to be a pivot point where he’s going to reach that we’ll have to see, does he go down the Paul Volcker route, or is he going to go continue down the Arthur Burns route?


SVM: See, Peter, you just said it best. He didn’t know what his situation. And all we’re debating is, at what point does he back off and quit because he realizes it’s not working? I mean, we can look at the velocity of money and see the monetary policy is not functioning properly.


I mean, there was a lot of people that predicted at the end of the last quarter that as economy reopen, velocity would pop. But it didn’t because of the fact that monetary policy is not transmitting into the economy. And so now the real issue is if he starts tapering and it does do what it’s supposed to do, does he inadvertently tighten financial conditions? I mean, this is such a mess of what he’s got to deal with. And I don’t know if you’ll agree with me honest, but I don’t think they have a clue what they’re doing.


I think they’re just betting that this is all going to work out, that Powell, as himself, is going to get renominated. And somehow, in the end, either he’s going to look like a superhero and say, look, see, I did it and go out as one of the most celebrated Fed chairs ever. Or he’s going to find someone else to blame this on when it doesn’t work.


PB: The Fed has been winging it for decades, and this all goes back to Greenspan. In 1994, he raised rates aggressively. We know he blew up Mexico, he blew up Orange County, California, and he took that at heart. He learned a lesson. And so you go into the late 90s when everything is on fire. Stock market bubble. We know he was very slow to raise interest rates because he didn’t want to repeat 1994.


And then, of course, you have the blow up. And he’s obviously quick to raise interest rates. But remember the mid 2000s, every single. When he started raising interest rates, he did it every single meeting, and in every single statement, it said, we are doing this at a measure pace, because he didn’t want to repeat 1994.


And then what we have, obviously, the housing bubble and so on and so on. And then now you take Powell. We know Janet Yellen was afraid to raise interest rates. Took them seven years to get off zero. And then after finally raising, took them another twelve months to finally raise rates again. And then Powell started to pick up the pace. And then he blew himself up in the fourth quarter of 2018. And then that helps to explain why they’re going so slow now.


Then you throw in, of course, the whole social justice. The Feds become the Ministry of Social Justice now and how they view monetary policy. But yeah, to your point, they are winging it. And they’ve been winging it for decades.


SVM: And you bring up an interesting point about 2018. I’m really glad you did, because a lot of people forgot that we started easy to the point that it didn’t really make a lot of sense from the outside look in it. And so now this whole notion, and I don’t know what your reaction was, but I remember hearing the press conference when he’s like, okay, when Powell said, “We’re going to gradually unwind the balance sheet by mid 2022.” I’m like, since when is “gradual” six months. There’s no way this is going to work for you, buddy, but good luck if you’re going to pull it off.


PB: Yeah. And the Fed got lucky for a period of time. They got lucky in 2017 because the markets rallied and ignored Fed rate hikes and the beginning of the shrinking of their balance sheet. They were double tightening and they got bailed out because everyone focused on the corporate income tax cut. That obviously happened at the end of 2017. But that entire year, the Vix got down to eight. Every dip was bought because everyone was pricing in that tax cut. But once that tax cut was in place, the Fed then raised interest rates again in January 2018. And then we immediately shift back to the Fed is double tightening here between the balance sheet and rates. And that obviously coincided with the fourth quarter of 2018.


So we know in the Fed tapering, the Fed tightens until they hit a wall. The Fed tightens until something breaks, and you can be sure something will break in 2022. It’s just a matter of how deep they get. And also one last point here is that having low inflation gives central banks that Wayne’s World Concert pass that all access to do anything they want for how long as they want, when there’s no inflation. But once you get inflation into the numbers, into the economy, their flexibility is greatly diminished. And that will be an interesting sort of tug of war as they get further into the tapering and something eventually breaks.


TS: One last question, a couple of last question. How do you feel about Stagflation? I kind of amend the Stagflation camp. Do you think that’s a cop out or how do you feel about that?


SVM: I think it’s temporary. I mean, we’re supposed to be rising unemployment. I mean, I guess with people coming off the ranks, I don’t know. Maybe it’ll go back up. I don’t think that’s likely to happen. And then you tend to get that with higher prices. But when we start looking at the bond market. The bond market is starting to tell us that, hey, this Stagflation is going to be transitory. And then the risk that I see is that we get into outright deflation from here.


PB: To me, I just look at stagflation as just slower growth and higher inflation. And in an economist textbook, they think that slow growth means lower prices. Faster growth means higher prices. I’m just looking at the Bank of Japan. The Bank of Japan said we need to get inflation at 2%, and somehow that will then generate faster growth. To me, they’ve got that backwards. You need stable prices in order to develop and sustain healthier growth.


So right now. But the Stagflation it’s sort of intertwined in the sense that it’s the inflation and what is driving it. So it’s the inflation itself that is beginning to impact consumer spending. And it’s the factors that are creating the inflation, like the supply bottlenecks that in itself, are also creating slower growth.


TS: Excellent. One last question, just for a thought experiment. I mean, say Powell does leave the Fed next year and we have find a Dove, right. So what does the Fed look like at that point if we have a dove as a Fed chair?


PB: Well, 2022 becomes completely politicized. The Fed’s already politicized, but it becomes Uber politicized in 2022 because of the elections in November. And if a Lael Brainard becomes the next Fed chair in February, 2022, you can be sure that Steve and I are right, that there’s no chance in hell they’re going to finish this taper because the second something breaks, you know, they’re going to back off and they’re going to do their best to, or at least the Democrats headed by the Lael Branard will do their best to maintain control of Congress.


SVM: Yeah. I’ll put that as a low probability chance that Powell is out. If he does, I’m 100% agree.


PB: I agree. I think he stays as well.


SVM: Yeah, 100% agree. I think it’s a big risk for the Biden administration to pull him. He hasn’t really done anything wrong. But if he does, again, I think Peter is spot on. I mean, now it becomes even more political than the Fed is supposed to be. And he’s right, as soon as something goes wrong, I mean, we’re going to 120 billion a month. Yeah, right. It’ll be multiples of that in a second.


TS: All right. Well, I want to thank you both again for everything you shared with us today. Can you each tell us where we can find you on social media or otherwise?


PB: Well, I just want to say thank you to Tracy and Steve. Thank you for having me in this debate and discuss this with you. It was definitely a fun time. If you want to read my daily readings, you can subscribe to And our wealth management business is at


TS: Excellent.


SVM: I want to thank you as well. Peter, you and I know this has been a long time coming for us to be on the same screen together. I had a blast. Totally looking forward to the next time. If you want to find more about me, you could go to my website. On Twitter @MetreSteven. On YouTube at @stevenvanmetrefinancial.


TS: Great. And for everyone watching, please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and we look forward to seeing you on the next QuickHit.

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.