4.Household Appliance Prices Rise the Most in 10 Years …Rising Steel Costs.
WSJ-The higher costs are already hitting consumers, especially for products like cars and appliances. Household appliance prices rose by 6.8% in August, the highest year-over-year increase in a decade, according to Labor Department data.
7. Wall Street Whistleblowers Awarded $1B Since 2012
Wall Street’s newest millionaires are whistleblowers
The SEC announced awards ranging from $4 million to $110 million paid to Wall Street whistleblowers.
In total, the watchdog program has paid $1 billion, awarding 207 whistleblowers since 2012.
But not all whistleblowers hit it big — and some never see a single dollar.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission just paid two multi-million dollar awards to Wall Street whistleblowers, according to a statement released Wednesday. The payouts of $110 million and $4 million bring the agency’s whistle-blowing awards to a total of $1 billion. A record-breaking payment of $114 million was awarded last October. “The whistleblower program has been instrumental to the success of numerous enforcement actions since it was instituted a decade ago,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, the SEC’s Director of Division of Enforcement.”We hope that today’s announcement encourages whistleblowers to continue to come forward with credible information about potential violations of the securities laws.”A total of 207 whistleblowers have received payouts from the SEC since the program began in 2012. In order to qualify for an award, the information provided to the agency must be “original, timely, and credible” and result in “a successful enforcement action.” All watchdog payments are financed through sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. The awards can be anywhere from 10% to 30% of the money collected from the guilty party if the sanctions exceed $1 million, according to the SEC. But not all whistleblowers hit it big — and some never see a single dollar. John McPherson, a whistleblower who aided the SEC’s investigation into an alleged $1.4 billion scam at Life Partners Holdings Inc., received zero compensation from the agency, The Wall Street Journal reported this June. The lack of payment was due to a controversial SEC rule that states whistleblowers cannot be paid if the guilty party declares bankruptcy, which is a common outcome for fraudulent companies. Effective December of last year, the SEC amended the whistleblower program rules to clarify that awards cannot be sourced from private actions such as bankruptcy.
The new thinking about wellbeing goes beyond what we’ve traditionally considered “good for us.” I look to Richard Davidson’s research on wellbeing for the definitive word. A neuroscientist and the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Davidson and his colleagues have developed a framework for wellbeing that has purpose as one of its four pillars.
Davidson’s work builds on decades of research. This research has shown that a sense of meaning in life has been associated with a range of positive physical and psychological outcomes, including, among many benefits, increased physical activity; decreased chances of a stroke; better cardiovascular health; reduced risk of death; better financial health; psychological resilience; and healthier psychological functioning.
Given the state of the world and the growing issue of burnout in the workplace, it’s worth taking a closer look at what Davidson means when talking about purpose. In particular, what kinds of purpose actually bolster our physical, mental and emotional health?
In the most simple terms, Davidson and his colleagues define purpose as the degree to which we understand our aims and values, and how well we are able to embody them in our daily lives.
Aims inform our goals and allow us to establish an overarching narrative that can help us make sense of our lives. Values guide our behaviors— they help us assess people and situations and assist us in persevering through challenges by keeping us oriented to what we feel is important.
Purpose can be either heightened or diminished. Take the example of an oncologist. An oncologist’s aim is to eliminate cancer, prevent it from returning, and help patients live longer, more fulfilling lives. To do this, they might be guided by values such as compassion, collaboration, or patient-centered care.
In a state of heightened purpose the oncologist not only understands these aims and values, but also has the opportunity to act on them. The combination of both knowing and acting allows the oncologist to feel their pursuit has meaning and significance. Whether or not they meet their aim, the oncologist feels a sense of meaning and wellbeing just by aligning with these values. In other words, even if the aim is too aspirational to accomplish in every circumstance, the very act of being compassionate, collaborative, and patient centered leaves the oncologist feeling fulfilled (and no doubt improves patient satisfaction, too).
In a state of diminished purpose, oncologists feels something different. Either they aren’t totally clear on their values and aims; or they are clear but lack the environment to express them.
In one way, this may seem simple. The more we know our aims and values and the more we can live them, the better off we are. But when it comes to wellbeing—to reaping the full benefits of purpose— not all aims and values are created equal.
A study of more than 25,000 young adults from 58 countries found that intrinsically meaningful values, things related to social connections and contributing to one’s community, more strongly correlated with wellbeing than outward-facing values, like those related to power and financial gain. Although the nature of these relationships varied across countries and cultures, the findings all point back to something very important. When it comes to feeling good in the world, money and status are not enough. If we are going to reap the full benefits of purpose, values have to be self-transcendent; they must involve others.
What does this mean for individuals and organizations?
In the simplest terms, it means thinking about our aims and values in the context of helping others. Health, joy, and happiness—in our lives and in our workplaces—may ultimately depend on finding ways to be of service to the world around us.
1.Americans Net Worth Rose 19% Year Over Year…..A Record Increase
2. Why Rates Stay Low?Net Bond Inflows $572B in Jan. to $1.01Trillion in April….to $860B thru July.
YARDENI RESEARCH. There is actually a very simple explanation for why the 10-year Treasury bond yield peaked at 1.74% on March 31 of this year and fell to a recent low of 1.19% on August 4, closing at 1.29% on Tuesday. On a 12-month basis, net inflows into bond mutual funds and ETFs soared from $572 billion during January to peak at a record $1.01 trillion during April. It remained substantial at $861 billion through July. Contrary to TINA (“there is no alternative” to equities), bonds are still viewed by some investors as an alternative to stocks!
That’s on top of the $1.6 trillion of US Treasury and agency bonds purchased by the Fed and the commercial banks from the start of this year through late August.
3. Follow Up to My Charts from Yesterday …Putting Low Yields in Perspective.
Standard Deviation (Risk) Triple 1995 for 7% Return.
4. Dow Jones Stocks Percentage from 2021 Peaks.
Nasdaq Dorsey Wright
5.UK gas futures
Jim Reid DB Bank
I must admit that in 26 years of having a Bloomberg terminal, I’ve never pulled up so many gas price graphs as I have over the last 24 hours. The rise is extraordinary, especially in Europe. Indeed Dutch futures are now up c.+25% this week (including today), c.+80% since the start of August, and a remarkable c.+550% over the last year. Today’s CoTD shows this and UK gas futures. So what’s causing the rise? Well amongst other things we have:
Tight supplies, after a cold winter, have not been replenished as much as expected over the summer and ahead of this coming winter.
Russia has sent less supplies to Europe than expected. Possibly because they are themselves replenishing supplies, possibly because they are raising the stakes ahead of Nord Stream 2 approval.
A lack of windy European weather limiting the use of wind power.
A lack of coal options as more and more plants get phased out.
Obviously a fair amount of this should be transitory (one of the words of the year!). Indeed, anyone that knows British weather will know that the wind will blow soon! However our European Gas analyst James Hubbard thinks there’s also a steady structural tightening of global gas markets that will persist for many years, and will be exaggerated by decarbonisation (more in this #dbSustainability Tracker piece yesterday).
On this topic, my colleague Francis Yared has been recently discussing how if governments are serious about addressing climate change then there will be a huge cost and taxing carbon will be regressive. As such they will have to spend even more to help out lower income households. The current gas issue might be a dress rehearsal as both the Spanish and Italian governments have put in place plans to reduce the impact on consumers this past week.
So there is a bigger story brewing here. In the “Fiat, fifty and frail” piece we discussed how fiat money may be stressed again to deal with climate change in the years ahead with more spending as a result. See the full report for this and much, much more.
Finally I was determined to write this today without writing the word “inflation” which you’re probably all now bored of from me. I’ve now failed.
6. Home Generators Crush the S&P
NY Times…Generac, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer that dominates the market for standby home generators, is an unlikely Wall Street darling.
Prices of goods online have now risen for an unprecedented 15 consecutive months, following what was a historical period of declines, according to a report from Adobe Digital Insights.
Inflation is hitting categories including pet products, nonprescription drugs, apparel, furniture and flower arrangements.
The changes mean e-commerce transactions are on pace to account for roughly $1 of every $5 spent by Americans, up from $1 of every $6 in 2017, Adobe said.
8. Bullet Point Tax -Bloomberg
For businesses, the legislation approved by Ways and Means would:
Increase the top corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21%, while offering a lower rate to smaller businesses
Extend tax rules on sales of equities to cryptocurrencies and commodities for the first time
Largely leave untouched breaks for oil and gas companies, in a move that angered environmental groups
Boost taxes on overseas earnings for U.S. multinational companies, by increasing a minimum levy enacted in 2017 during the Trump administration. It would also reduce an exemption for some of that income
Reinstates a key debt-refinancing tool for state and local governments and creates a Build America Bonds-style debt program
Top marginal income tax rate is restored to the 39.6% that preceded the 2017 GOP tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump
A 3% surtax is imposed on incomes of more than $5 million
Capital gains rate rises to 25% from 20% for transactions by high-income individuals made after Sept. 13, 2021
New limits are set for large individual retirement accounts
A boost to the net investment income tax will generate an estimate $252 billion
The doubling of the estate tax exemption enacted by Trump would come to an end in 2022
The up-to-$3,600 per year monthly child tax payment Democrats enacted this year will be extended through 2025
The bill on net is estimated to raise $871 billion, after the value of the tax breaks are taken into account. Democrats say they will be able to pay for additional social spending in the so-called reconciliation package by counting some $600 billion in savings from Medicare spending on drugs, along with funds from increased tax enforcement and added revenue stemming from the faster economic growth that’s anticipated as a result of the overall bill. The drug pricing proposal failed to pass another committee Wednesday because of opposition from Democratic moderates, raising questions about its viability.
Republicans are united in opposition to both the tax increases and the social spending they would help fund. GOP members of the House Ways and Means panel argued over four days of votes on amendments that the Democratic proposal would stymie the economic recovery and lead to a wave of companies leaving the U.S. They zeroed in on tax breaks like a $12,500 electric vehicle credit that can be claimed by the well-off, while blasting a doubling of tobacco taxes — which hits the poor.
“Never has our government wasted so much to kill so many American jobs, drive prices even higher, and hook a whole new generation of the poor on government dependency,” the committee’s top Republican, Kevin Brady, said ahead of the final vote.
The 24 to 19 committee vote reflected the “no” cast by moderate Democrat Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who is concerned over the planned $3.5 trillion price tag for the overall bill. Last week, the panel by a similar margin approved the largest expansion of Medicare in two decades — including dental, vision and hearing benefits for the first time — along with provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate on drug prices.
Pelosi can only afford to lose three votes when the legislation comes to the floor, so changes to satisfy Murphy and other moderates are likely. Modifications to the tax bill could come when it is sent to the House Rules Committee or through an amendment on the House floor.
Along with SALT changes, House Democrats are also still considering the Biden administration’s proposal to require banks and other financial institutions to report customers’ account flows to the Internal Revenue Service.
Neal said that provision is still in play, with members working with the White House and Treasury to come up with a plan that Democrats can agree on. Biden’s proposal, which would kick in for accounts with gross flows of $600 or more, has faced backlash from banking and credit union trade associations, as well as consumer protection groups.
9.Box Office 2019 $947m Per Month vs. 2021 $252m Per Month
The box office in the US, and globally, is limping along.
On average the US box office has taken about ~$250m a month this year, way down on what would be considered “normal”. Back in 2019 an average month would routinely see takings of $900m-$1bn, if not more (data from Box Office Mojo).
Disney’s big bet
The 2021 numbers may not be stellar, but they clearly haven’t put off industry giant Disney, which recently announced its decision to release the rest of its 2021 schedule in theaters first, before sending them to its streaming platform Disney+.
The ScarJo effect?
Disney might just be confident that moviegoing is going to make a comeback, but they might also be wary of lawsuits, and the perils of releasing movies simultaneously on streaming services and in theaters. Earlier this year Disney found itself being sued by one of its top stars — Scarlett Johansson — who alleged that Disney had broken her contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney’s streaming service. That likely diminished the box office receipts for the movie — which were directly tied to her pay packet.
Disney’s announcement will turn heads at its competition too — as Disney has dominated the box office for much of the last 5 years, thanks to enormous hauls from its Marvel, Star Wars and animated franchises.
The chart above plots the US box office take for the top 10 movies in each of the last 5 years (and 2021 so far). Of those 60 movies, Disney made 25 of them, taking the top two spots in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. If Disney is betting on the box office, over streaming, others are likely to sit up and take note.
Elsewhere, Broadway is back. Tuesday saw Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked all return to the stage for the first time since the start of the pandemic. That’s great news for live theater, which couldn’t exactly move online in the same way that the rest of the entertainment industry did.
If a project, partnership or opportunity doesn’t resonate with you and does not feel aligned with your values and your goals, you need to be comfortable about setting boundaries. Learn how to say no with kindness right from the start because, as you become more successful, more people will compete for your time and attention. Not setting healthy boundaries will end up in overwhelm and burnout.
For business owners especially, the people who got your company to where you are today may not be the ones to get you to where you want to be tomorrow. If they can’t grow with you, it’s time to replace them with those who can.
Working through lunch is a habit I find a lot of business owners take on. Most justify it with, “If I work through lunch, I’ll just leave a few minutes early” and that isn’t what ends up happening. It’s hard to disconnect midday, especially if you’re in a productive spurt, but it’s important to take a few minutes to recharge. Not doing so will lower your productivity and lead to burnout faster.
If you fail to exercise, that lack of discipline will translate into other areas of your life, including your business. When you exercise, you are more alert and sharp, and you will operate at a higher level.
It is technically impossible to multitask. When you try to do multiple things at once, you effectively take away full attention and concentration from anything, and you shortchange whatever it is you are doing.
In a perfect world, everything you do would be working toward some goal (even if it is recharging on the couch). Sending emails that do not advance a relationship because you want to “ping” them or “touch base” is at best useless and could be harmful. There are definite exceptions where being on someone’s mind is valuable, but try to connect it with value creation or a mutual memory.
I often let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The result is that I have a lot of projects that are still in the “development” queue, while I continually refine them. The fact is, however, most defects that I see are not elements that others will see. I am working on letting go of the hesitation to perfect everything that I work on.
If you’re a workaholic, it can be easy to let your own time get taken over by work, over and over until you’re not taking any time for yourself. This may seem like it’s making you more efficient, but it will start quickly doing the opposite. There’s no faster way to burn out. Don’t fall into the habit of denying yourself the time you need to recharge.
This is by far the largest problem with many people achieving success, especially on a day-to-day basis. If you answer an email or PM, you should be committed to it, or it’ll quickly take you away from whatever task you are completing at the moment, hindering success. Plan periods every hour or two to answer daily emails or PMs.
I recently started using The Productivity Planner and it’s changed everything for me. It forces you to actually sit down and only pick a few things you’re going to get done, especially the things that often end up getting punted from day to day. Before that, I was letting my calendar and to-do list run my day and never felt like I was getting the important stuff done.
1.S&P 500 About to Make Its 6th Run at Breaking 50 day Moving Average Since April
6th Shot at breaking 50 day
2.Percentage of Small Caps and Large Caps 10% from Highs vs. History.
2021 Sector Pullbacks–The broad sector history dating back through 1995 shows that Technology has the highest number of 5% pullbacks, sitting at an average of almost seven per year. Energy and Financials show the next highest annual count at roughly six instances on average each year. The defensive sectors of Consumer Staples, Utilities, and Healthcare have shown the lowest average number of pullbacks annually throughout our testing timeframe.
3.Some Slides that Put Low Yields in Perspective.
Advisor Perspectives Blog-From Frank Holmes U.S. Global Investors
4.Earnings Per Share Growth …2020 Expected to be 20-30% Above 2019
Schwab-Liz Ann Sonders Despite market anxiety about the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, analysts continue to revise upward their earnings forecasts for the coming year. In 2021, earnings per share for both U.S. and international stocks are estimated to be above those of 2019, before the pandemic took hold. In 2022, earnings for both the U.S. and international stocks are forecasted by analysts to be 20% to 30% above 2019, and about 55% above the pandemic year of 2020, as you can see in the chart below.
Earnings-per-share growth is expected to exceed pandemic levels
Source: Charles Schwab, FactSet data as of 8/5/2021. Indexes are unmanaged; do not incur management fees, costs and expenses; and cannot be invested in directly.
Move could hit all ETF investors, alter U.S. fund landscape
Amid the deluge of headlines in the past few days about congressional proposals to boost taxes on companies and the wealthy is one that would affect regular investors — and potentially alter the entire U.S. fund landscape.
Draft legislation released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon on Friday featured a repeal of a key tax advantage for the $6.8 trillion U.S. exchange-traded fund industry. The move was tucked in along with a series of proposals to tighten tax reporting requirements around business partnerships, and wasn’t highlighted in Wyden’s accompanying press release.
The initiative would at a stroke end a system of deferred taxes on capital gains linked to ETFs, bringing forward the tax burden for investors of all stripes. That will make it all the tougher to win inclusion in the final version of tax hikes that Democrats are now assembling to help pay for a social-spending package that’s been penciled in at $3.5 trillion.
“The industry will push back hard” at the proposal, said Ben Johnson, director of global ETF research at Morningstar. “It’s hard for me to see this getting popular support — in large part because it’s a benefit that is universal, so all investors, large, small and in-between, that are investing taxable money benefit from ETFs’ tax efficiency.”
The measure would bring in $205 billion over a decade, according to preliminary figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation. It would take effect in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2022. Wyden said in a statement Tuesday that, “This proposal exempts retirement accounts entirely.
That’s a potential industry game-changer. While ETFs tend to have several advantages over mutual funds — like the ability to trade all day and generally lower fees — research has shown the tax loophole is a key driver in the long-term trend of cash flowing from mutual funds into ETFs. As that has gathered pace, U.S. issuers are this year for the first time directly converting mutual fund assets into ETFs.
The final package of tax hikes, including ones on corporations and wealthy individuals, may takes weeks to develop.
Being a great leader takes more than smarts, hard work, and determination. According to management consultant Julia Tang Peters, all great leaders encounter certain decision points throughout their careers. The choices they make at those moments will shape the rest of their careers, she says, and this is as true for those who climb the career ladder at large companies as it is for those who go out on their own as entrepreneurs. “Everyone should look at it as a marathon, not a sprint,” says Peters, who explores these critical moments in her new book, Pivot Points: Five Decisions Every Successful Leader Must Make. “So many people in the digital economy hit a home run early with a new company. They want to max out that opportunity, so they get some investors, and they grow quickly. Then, five or six years into it, the investors say, ‘Thank you very much; we now need a real leader to get this to the next level.'” The reason this happens often, she says, is that “Leading is a hard thing to do. You have to have the experience to grow.” Understanding the five pivot points and making the right decisions when you reach them are what create effective leaders.
The first decision point often comes early in a leader’s career–but not always. It’s the moment you make a commitment to gain mastery of a skill you need. “Typically, when we start our careers, we all have to face this decision, ‘What do I really want to be best at?'” Peters says. “It’s not necessarily your first or second job, but it’s hopefully a decision all young people starting out reflect on.” Some people have later launch points. “You’ve tried out two or three jobs, and none of them lit your fire. Or perhaps you studied accounting, but now you’re in your 30s and don’t want to spend the next 30 years as an accountant. That is your first launch and hopefully, having learned about yourself, the next time you’ve made a more thoughtful decision, and that becomes your real launching point.”
2. Turning Point
The turning point comes when you decide to embrace a major opportunity or a major problem. “Not, let’s see about this opportunity, but really committing to it,” Peters says. Why is commitment at this moment so important? Because, inevitably, you’ll encounter roadblocks, especially as an entrepreneur, she says. “It is a tougher challenge. There are obstacles and fewer resources. You feel the setbacks more. That’s why it’s important to make the emotional commitment of being all in. ‘Comes a setback, I’m not giving up. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get through this.'” Just as important, if you really commit, other people will see that in you. “People respect that, and if your energy is out there in a committed way to do something specific that’s important to you, it’s very compelling,” Peters says. “People pick up on it and want to be around that energy and drive. It builds the platform for establishing your leadership in your field.”
3. Tipping Point
The tipping point occurs when you encounter a fundamental barrier and decide to break through it by taking a significant risk. “It can be an internal barrier; for instance, the fact that you’ve never done something before and you have to get through it,” Peters says. “Or it may be an environmental barrier, such as a significant competitive threat to your business, so that to stay competitive, you have to do something really bold or head in a completely new direction. You’re saying, ‘Yes, I can get past this, and by breaking through this barrier, I will take my leadership to the next level.'” One business owner Peters interviewed reached his tipping point during the economic downturn. He responded by building out his management team, hiring great executives when they needed jobs. It was a big risk with a big payoff: Once the economy recovered, his business more than doubled.
“Twenty or twenty-five years in, everyone faces this decision,” Peters says. You’ve had some accomplishments and successes. Things have gone well for a long time, but you don’t bring quite the same passion to the work that you used to. “When the decision is to recommit to the same company or job, it’s really based on recommitting to a more purposeful goal,” Peters says. “You’ve had business success, and now you want to create your legacy. It’s moving the goalposts further. That recommitment gives the decision maker the energy and drive to continue on.” Sometimes, Peters says, recommitment means making a change. “You think you’ve done everything you want to do here, and now you want to do this other thing. And you’re in your mid-50s–which is a typical age for this–so it’s now or never. It winds up being a recommitment to yourself.”
5. Letting Go
Letting go is a strategic business decision, especially for a company founder, Peters says. Whether you decide to move on when you reach your recommitment point or recommit to the same company and spend many more years in your role, there comes a time sooner or later when even the best leaders need to move on from their roles. “How gracefully you make that decision and handle the transition depends on succession planning,” Peters says. It can take as long as five years to choose, mentor, and train the person who will take over your role, and then step aside when he or she is ready to lead without you. “So many founders think, This is my baby; it all depends on me,” Peters says. “Part of being indispensable is taking on the responsibility of choosing the next leader and preparing that leader for success.”
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While there is no particular magic about 10x sales being the unique true sign of overvaluation, it has gained a certain amount of fame from a statement that Scott McNealy, co-founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, made to Bloomberg in 2002:
…2 years ago we were selling at 10 times revenues when we were at $64. At 10 times revenues, to give you a 10-year payback, I have to pay you 100% of revenues for 10 straight years in dividends. That assumes I can get that by my shareholders. That assumes I have zero cost of goods sold, which is very hard for a computer company. That assumes zero expenses, which is really hard with 39,000 employees. That assumes I pay no taxes, which is very hard. And that assumes you pay no taxes on your dividends, which is kind of illegal. And that assumes with zero R&D for the next 10 years, I can maintain the current revenue run rate. Now, having done that, would any of you like to buy my stock at $64? Do you realize how ridiculous those basic assumptions are? You don’t need any transparency. You don’t need any footnotes. What were you thinking?9
It is not strictly impossible for a stock trading at 10x sales or more to give a good return. Amazon was trading at well over 10x sales in the fall of 1999, and the return from then has been a very healthy 18% annualized, or 38x total gain over 22 years.10 On the other hand, Amazon did fall by almost 93% from that peak to the low 2 years later, and an investor who had held off and only bought when its price/sales fell below 10 in late 2000 would have made 89x his initial investment and saved himself a good deal of initial pain.11
But the more important point is that the odds are strongly against companies trading at over 10x sales. Exhibit 8 shows the long-term real returns to a portfolio of stocks trading at 10x sales or more against the overall stock market.
3. A Picture of How Massive and Global Covid QE is from Central BANKS
The Bank of Canada started tapering its purchases of Government of Canada bonds last October, ended its purchases of mortgage-backed securities, and shed its repos and Canada Treasury bills, with the effect of cutting is total assets by 15% since the peak in March:
The Reserve Bank of Australia announced in July that it would start tapering its asset purchases from A$5 billion a week to A$4 billion a week. Total assets on its balance sheet declined last week for the first time all year:
4. Europe Seeing Record High Gas and Electric Prices.
Europe’s record-high gas and electricity prices are a taste of what’s in store for global commodity markets, Goldman Sachs says
The sky-high prices in Europe’s energy markets could well materialize in a range of commodities markets around the world as their inventories are depleted, Goldman Sachs has said.
Wholesale natural gas and electricity costs have surged to record highs in Europe, as a rise in demand from the reopening of pandemic-hit economies coincides with supply getting snarled up by a number of factors.
The price of European natural gas futures traded in the Netherlands has risen more than 450% over the last year, to stand at a record high of 60.63 euros ($71.39) per megawatt hour, according to Bloomberg data. UK gas prices have also soared to a record high, as have German and French electricity prices.
The price crunches could soon become more widespread, Goldman analysts said in a note Monday.
“European energy pricing dynamics offer a glimpse of what is in store for other commodity markets,” the analysts, including head of commodities research Jeffrey Currie, wrote.
They said the combination of falling inventories and the reopening of the global economy is likely to boost price volatility as “markets struggle to balance strong demand with sticky supply.”
Goldman said it expects the S&P GSCI commodities index to return 11% or more over the next 12 months. The index is dominated by oil, and it includes a heavy weighting of gold and agricultural products such as corn.
The US has also seen natural gas prices rise sharply, and the benchmark Henry Hub price is at its highest level since 2014. WTI crude oil breached $70 on Monday as supply struggled to rebound from Hurricane Ida.
Goldman’s analysts said inventories in nearly all physical goods, from US cars to Chinese copper cathodes, are declining sharply as pandemic restrictions lift, and people go out and spend.
“These markets are becoming increasingly exposed to any type of supply disruption (like Russian gas exports) or unexpected demand increase (like hot weather),” they wrote.
Limits to how much of a commodity can be supplied – due to labor shortages or bad weather, for instance – mean that demand will have to drop for markets to balance themselves out.
“As commodity markets are now unable to react to the first leg higher in prices through greater supply, once inventories are exhausted like in European gas, then demand destruction via sharply higher prices is the only option to rebalance markets,” they said.
COMT-Commodity ETF 50 day thru 200day on longer-term weekly chart
5. Metal Prices have Jumped on Demand Boom
“Physical goods demand has reached such high levels — above pre-pandemic trends in all but oil — that the system is becoming increasingly constrained in its ability to supply these goods,” Goldman analysts including Jeff Currie said in a note on Monday. “Markets are becoming increasingly exposed to any type of supply disruption or unexpected demand increase.”
6. The history of new technologies shows that apps beget infrastructure
Not Boring-Packy McCormick
The Interface Phase–First we shape our interfaces; thereafter, they shape us. The Apps-Infrastructure Cycle
A common narrative in the Web 3.0 community is that we are in an infrastructure phase and the right thing to be working on right now is building out that infrastructure: better base chains, better interchain interoperability, better clients, wallets and browsers. The rationale is: first we need tools that make it easy to build and use apps that run on blockchains, and once we have those tools, then we can get started building those apps.
In 2018, Union Square Ventures’ Nick Grossman and Dani Grant wrote an essay called The Myth of the Infrastructure Phase. During 2018’s crypto winter, they kept hearing that crypto needed better infrastructure, and once that happened, then people would be able to build those killer apps. People building infrastructure, though, said that they were building the infrastructure, but that no one was building apps on top! Why the disconnect?
Instead of the commonly-accepted “infrastructure phase,” Grossman and Grant argued, crypto was in another turn of the apps-infrastructure-cycle. “The history of new technologies shows that apps beget infrastructure,” they wrote, “not the other way around.”
First, builders build apps, then other builders build the infrastructure to support those apps, then that infrastructure supports new apps, which in turn requires new supporting infrastructure, and so on. That’s how it worked historically, from the lightbulb to the airplane to the iPhone, and it’s exactly what was happening in web3.
Grant and Grossman’s 2018 classic has re-entered the conversation recently, as an explosion of new web3 apps has caused challenges:
Gas prices are too high!
DAOs coordinated across a mishmash of tools.
Delayed Eth2 and L2 confusion.
Speculation reigns and the rich get richer.
Last week, Paxos Global and 6th Man Ventures’ Mike Dudas tweeted that the piece was very relevant to the current crypto environment. Blockchain Capital’s Kinjal Shah tweeted, “we’re in an app frenzy, about to enter a major infrastructure phase.”
The apps-infrastructure cycle is playing out in real-time. For example, Grant and Grossman mentioned ERC721 as the last piece of infrastructure built when they wrote the piece. The 2018 invention of ERC721, the non-fungible token standard (infrastructure), has powered the 2021 NFT craze (app). From February to July, $950 million worth of NFTs changed hands on OpenSea. In August and the first 12 days of September alone, $4.8 billion has passed through OpenSea.
7. Walmart joins the green bond party with $2 billion deal
Walmart just raised the largest green bond ever in the U.S. corporate bond market.
Why it matters: The $2 billion bond deal illustrates that U.S. investors’ interest in green bonds is not going anywhere. Companies are tapping into that demand, and putting money behind efforts to battle climate change.
Funds raised from green bonds are meant to be used for environmental projects. But they can run the risk of “greenwashing” as there are no real penalties for not following through on commitments.
Driving the news: Walmart said it would put the funds toward projects including renewable energy, high-performance buildings, sustainable transportation and zero waste/circular economy initiatives.
State of play: Though the potential for greenwashing is always a concern, Walmart has a concrete sustainability plan, including being carbon neutral by 2040 and reducing emissions in its supply chain, Shawn Keegan, credit portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein, tells Axios.
“Walmart has a lot of influence and control over its supply chain. That’s important, and it gets other retailers to think about their supply chains,” Keegan says.
The intrigue: Walmart’s green capital didn’t come any cheaper than the rest of its bonds, based on their maturity and comparable Treasury benchmark.
Nowadays green bonds save investors an estimated 0.04% annually on average compared with their regular bonds, down from about 0.10% for green bonds placed at the beginning of the year, notes Matt Lawton, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. Some green bonds, like Walmart’s, don’t have a discernible pricing advantage.
Be smart: Besides the potential for savings, the rationale for issuing green bonds is just as much about companies signaling to the market and investors that they’re taking sustainability seriously, says Keegan.
The big picture: Walmart’s deal is important for the green bond sector because until now, most deals have largely been concentrated in just three industries: real estate, utilities and autos, Lawton says.
More sector representation means more diversification for investors.
“My hope is that others will follow their lead, and we’ll see a more diverse set of issuers coming to the market. I think that’s ultimately what we need to see for [the green bond market] to be successful,” Lawton adds.
Zoom out: Global issuance of sustainable debt, which includes green, social and sustainability bonds, reached $1.7 trillion as of the end of 2020, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative, which helps certify these types of bonds.
Green bonds specifically reached $1.1 trillion in 2020, which is a fraction of the overall fixed income market.
What to watch: Walmart says this is just the beginning of its foray into green bonds.
Howard Marks drew parallels between the current market and the asset bubble that preceded the global financial crisis, highlighted bitcoin’s longevity, and argued rock-bottom interest rates may justify higher stock valuations, speaking during the latest episode of the “We Study Billionaires” podcast.
The billionaire cofounder and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management advised investors to carefully manage their portfolio risk, resist the urge to buy high and sell low, and be skeptical of grand claims.
Here are Marks’ 12 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. “The pandemic was like a meteor hitting the Earth from outer space. The market decline was not born out of excess optimism. The recovery was not merely a bounce back from excess pessimism, it was the result of the greatest economic rescue effort in history.” – arguing the past 18 months shouldn’t be viewed as a traditional market cycle.
2. “There certainly are similarities that cause Jeremy Grantham and others to say ‘bubble territory’ and to blow the whistle of caution.” – comparing the hype around several assets in 2006 to the current market boom.
3. “If investors can think of an asset class and say, ‘Oh, for that, there’s no price too high’ – that’s one of the greatest indications of a bubble.”
4. “We have the lowest interest rates in history. That would simplistically argue for the highest asset valuations in history.”
5. “I came out very strongly against bitcoin in 2017. I was extremely negative, I was extremely outspoken. I had a knee-jerk reaction to something new. Now I prefer to say, ‘I don’t know enough about it to have a strong opinion.’
6. “Bitcoin has been around now for a dozen years. If it’s a flash in the pan, it’s an awful long pan.”
7. “One of the most important aspects of being a good investor is you try to set things up so that if things go your way, you do great. But if things don’t go your way, you still do okay.”
8. “Good investing is not a matter of buying good things but buying things well. And if you don’t know the difference, then you shouldn’t be doing much investing.”
9. “Don’t get in the way of the compounding machine. Just get out of the way. Don’t screw it up.”
10. “When you’re in an area which is beset with uncertainty, variability, unpredictability, randomness, things like that – it just strikes me as folly to be confident that you know the future.”
11. “Active investors are in this business to buy low and sell high. But everything in our nature conspires to make us buy high and sell low. It is essential to combat those instincts.”
12. “Somebody comes into your office and says, ‘I’ve been managing money for 30 years, I’ve made 11% a year, and I’ve never had a down month.” Your job is to say, ‘That’s too good to be true, Mr. Madoff.'” – urging investors to always be skeptical of fantastic claims and promises.