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.
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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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.