Topley’s Top 10 – September 10, 2020

1. Five-Year IPO Returns


Peter Mallouk-Creative Planning

2. Americans Pay Down Credit Cards For 5th Consecutive Month As Post-Covid Deleveraging Continues

ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden

After three months of record declines, total US consumer credit posted its first increase in the month of June since the covid crisis, rising by a modest $8.9 billion, a number which has now been revised to $11.4 billion, and in the latest consumer credit report released by the Fed, in July total consumer credit rose again, increasing by $12.9 billion.

In total, July consumer credit rose at a 3.6% annual rate to $4.13 trillion according to the Fed’s latest G.19 statement.

What was more notable, however, is that revolving credit – i.e., credit card debt – shrank once again, the 5th consecutive monthly decline, dropping by $293 million to just below $1 trillion.

3. Five-Month Win Streaks Bullish 25 Out of 26 Years.

As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the S&P 500 Index gained more than 35% during this 5 month win streak, the most ever. Yet, the future gains after 5 month win streaks is very impressive, higher 25 out of 26 times a year later. An object in motion tends to stay in motion and this sure seems to be the case here.

4.Oil is the Cheapest Vs. Gold in 40 Years

5. Growth Vs. Value by Decade.

Will 2020’s be Value Decade?


6. High-Yield Bond ETF Never Made It To New Highs

7. What Countries Rely of Fossil Fuel? What Countries Moving Toward Alternative Energy ?

Tera-What? The Most Prominent Sources of Energy (2009-2018)

First, let’s take a look at which sources have produced the most energy over the last decade of data. Energy consumption is measured in terawatt-hours (TWh)—a unit of energy equal to outputting one trillion watts for an hour.

Energy Source% of Total Energy Consumption
Sum of Total Energy
(2009-2018) (TWh)
Total100.0%1,389,300 TWh

Looking at this data, it’s clear that fossil fuels have been used much more than alternative sources. A deeper dive into the topic helps explain why.

Fossil Fuels: What the Data Shows

As the predominant source of energy, fossil fuels collectively accounted for a massive 86.2% of total energy consumption over 2009-2018, or roughly 1.2 million TWh. If you’re wondering, that’s enough to power the equivalent of 109 billion U.S. homes with electricity for a year.

Among fossil fuel sources, oil emerges as the clear leader, responsible for 34.3% or 509,800 TWh of energy consumption over 2009-2018. Apart from being the primary fuel for transportation throughout history, oil remains relatively affordable—making it an easy choice for producers and consumers alike.

Closely following oil is coal, which countries rely on for its abundance, low costs, and low infrastructure requirements. Over the last decade of data, 29.2% of total energy came from coal, amounting to a substantial 434,300 TWh.

As a cleaner alternative to coal, natural gas has increased in popularity. Gas accounted for 22.8% or 339,300 TWh of energy consumed between 2009-2018, mainly attributed to its ample supply and affordability.

What About Renewables?

Only 13.8% of energy consumption over 2009-2018 came from renewable or alternative sources of energy, and hydropower accounts for nearly half of it. Why has the use of environmentally-friendly energy sources been so low?

Setting up alternative power plants—especially wind, solar, and nuclear—requires significant capital investment, while facing competition from cheaper and more convenient fossil fuels. The barriers to adopting renewable energy have been weakening, but still remain quite high for low-income countries.

Wind and solar energy were responsible for a mere 1.7% of energy consumption. Compared to fossil fuels like oil and coal, this percentage seems even more minuscule than it does on its own—mainly attributable to the high costs traditionally associated with wind and solar energy.

The Top 10 Countries Relying on Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels have been the predominant source of energy over the years. After all, 43 of these 64 countries sourced more than 80% of their energy from fossil fuels over 2009-2018.

Here are the ones that come out on top:

Country% of Energy Consumed From Fossil Fuels
Most Used Fossil Fuel
Oman 🇴🇲100%Gas
Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦100%Oil
Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹100%Gas
Kuwait 🇰🇼100%Oil
Qatar 🇶🇦99.9%Gas
United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪99.9%Gas
Hong Kong 🇭🇰99.9%Oil
Algeria 🇩🇿98.8%Gas
Singapore 🇸🇬98.8%Oil
Israel 🇮🇱98.1%Oil

Although it is startling to see that several countries were 100% reliant on fossil fuels, it comes as no surprise that these are countries with abundant reserves of oil or natural gas. Not only are fossil fuels central to certain economies in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA), but they also remain highly affordable for consumers in these places.

On a broader scale, developing and low-income countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels such as coal for access to cheap electricity and ease of installation.

The Top 10 Countries Using Alternative Energy Sources

The transition to alternative energy sources has been welcomed by many countries, but only a few have prioritized its adoption in the energy mix. Here’s a look at the top 10:

Country% of Energy From Alternative Sources
Most Used Alternative Energy Source
Iceland 🇮🇸81.6%Hydropower
Norway 🇳🇴67.5%Hydropower
Sweden 🇸🇪65.3%Hydropower
Switzerland 🇨🇭50.5%Hydropower
France 🇫🇷47.0%Nuclear
Finland 🇫🇮39.5%Nuclear
New Zealand 🇳🇿37.2%Hydropower
Brazil 🇧🇷37.2%Hydropower
Canada 🇨🇦34.8%Hydropower
Austria 🇦🇹31.7%Hydropower

Charting the Flows of Energy Consumption by Source and Country (1969-2018)By Govind Bhutada

8. The Future of Voting …Millennials and Gen Z

Deutsche Bank

In yesterday’s “Age of Disorder” we questioned the general assumption that the intergenerational divide will worsen perpetually as the population ages thus maintaining the status quo (e.g., low inflation and political protection for asset holders, pensioners etc.). This misses the key point that the age where the intergenerational divide begins is not static. It is likely that this age will increase over time as the average age of those left behind will continue to increase as a gap has opened up in income and wealth that is very hard to bridge naturally.

As such, at some point the younger left-behind generation of voters will exceed those that have benefited from the favourable financial conditions that have been cemented in successive recent elections. When this happens (or gets closer), the possibility of seismic change in policy at elections becomes more likely. We think that over the next decade, the left-behind younger population will become an increasingly powerful electoral force, especially if it continues to be left behind due to the impact of the pandemic. In the US this Millennial crossover happens slightly earlier than in other G7 countries (see graph in the note). Interestingly Japan will be one of the last to cross even as it is far more advanced in demographic ageing. This may explain why the status quo has be maintained for so long (e.g., policies friendly to pensioners).

As we show in the note, never before has voting been so polarised by age so the increasing weight of Millennials and younger voters over the years ahead will have a massive impact on global policy and create disorder to the status quo. See pages 45-51 of the “Age of Disorder” note for more on this.

9. Baseball’s shrinking minor leagues

Jeff Tracy

Minor League Baseball (MiLB), whose season was already canceled due to the pandemic, is staring down a historic contraction once its agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB) expires on Sept. 30.

Why it matters: Roughly 42 of the 160 affiliated minor league clubs are set to lose affiliate status by the end of the month, drastically changing the future of not only the affected clubs, but the minor leagues as a whole.

The backdrop: The past two years of the century-old partnership between MLB and MiLB have been strained, to say the least.

  • In early 2018, MLB lobbied MiLB to help them get a bill passed — the Save America’s Pastime Act — that would remove the need to pay minor leaguers minimum wage or overtime.
  • MLB argued this would be a long-term money saver, and that failure to pass the bill would result in contraction, so minor-league owners and local politicians scrambled to help out.
  • The bill passed, but seven months later contraction was announced anyway, leaving some owners feeling betrayed. “We were invited to dinner and found out we were it,” Dave Baggott, president of Utah’s Ogden Raptors, told ESPN.

The latest: Pat O’Conner, who served as MiLB’s president since 2007, abruptly announced his retirement on Tuesday, effective Dec. 31. This comes amid rumblings that impending changes would render his role obsolete.

How it works: Each MLB club has about seven affiliates across various talent levels, from rookie ball up to AAA.

  • The parent club pays salaries and buys equipment, while the affiliate pays for travel and other ballpark expenses. Additionally, each affiliate pays its parent club 8% of annual ticket revenue (about $20 million total).

The new proposal would reduce MiLB to 120 affiliates, with each big league club choosing which four affiliates it would like to retain.

  • Contracted teams will basically have three options: join an independent minor league (i.e. Atlantic League), transition to a college summer league (like the famed Cape Cod Baseball League) or simply fold.
  • MLB will also take over merchandising, broadcast and sponsorship rights of the remaining affiliates, splitting revenues 50-50 with the MiLB club.

The big picture: The new minor leagues will look a lot more like the NBA’s G League, which is owned and operated by the NBA and gives them more control over their talent pipeline.

  • In that sense, MLB’s plan fits into what commissioner Rob Manfred has called his “One Baseball” vision since taking office five years ago.
  • Manfred wants to unite the sport from Little League all the way to the Majors. This may just be step one.

The bottom line: The MiLB contraction was coming, pandemic or not, and perhaps it really will be good for the long-term health of baseball. But right now, it’s hard to look at this situation and feel anything but sadness.

10. Ten Things Every Employee Must Do

Insurance against becoming a COVID economic casualty.  Marty Nemko Ph.D.

Amid COVID, many employees are feeling increased pressure to perform well lest they become a COVID economic casualty.

Here are keys to employee success that are applicable across many jobs.

Use meeting moxie.  Meetings are show time, so, if not rehearse, prepare: Review the agenda and decide if there’s any thinking or research you want to do or something impressive you want to say.

Tactic: At the meeting, wait until everyone has had their say on a topic. Then add something wise or synthesize, saying something like, “In light of what Mary, Juan, and David said, it would seem that we should do X. What do you think?”

Ask so ye shall receive. Yes, ask for what you want: to lead an initiative, get a promotion, whatever, but don’t let impatience make you ask prematurely. Ask when the decision-maker has praised you or at least when you sense s/he’ll be in a good mood and not preoccupied.

Conquer conflict with de-escalation. Yes, there’s the occasional time to come out with guns blazing, but far more often you’ll get your way or at least save your job by de-escalating. Here are ways to do that:

·         Find common ground. It’s often wise to begin by pointing out points of agreement. For example, if you’re about to lambast a coworker for shoddy work that reflected on you, start with something like, “You and I both care about this project and like the storytelling approach.” Then tactfully point out the problem, for example, “I’m not sure that the result was all we wanted. Can you think of a way we might fix things, either for this issue, or moving forward?”

·         Look for a win-win. For example, you’re annoyed that someone else was selected to lead that cool project. Perhaps you might volunteer to assist. Sometimes, the #2 person gets to be the power behind the throne.

·         Save their face. Unless the person has been ever impervious to needed self-examination, allow the person to save face, even to feel superior. For example, “You’re more intelligent than me. So I suspect you had a better reason for doing X than I’ve been able to figure out. I’m curious: What was your thinking behind that?”

·         Diffuse with humor. When the tension is too high, inject a bit of humor, even just, “It’s getting a little hot in here. Mind if I take a quick bathroom break?”

·         Let it go? Some issues aren’t worth going to battle for. Should you say, “Good point” or even ignore the issue?

Speak easy. The shortest route to competent public speaking is simply to make a list of the few talking points that your audience would most benefit from. Do whatever research or thinking is necessary for you to make those points compellingly. For example, come up with an anecdote, statistic, or implication. Then give you talk ad-lib, consulting your notes if you get stuck or lost. Scripting and memorizing is usually a prescription for failure. At a minimum, that leaches the needed chemistry from your talk, or you’ll forget your spiel, get flustered, and have a hard time recovering.

Manage your boss.  Get clear on your boss’s priorities and the type of interaction s/he prefers: frequent or infrequent, concise or comprehensive, fact- or feeling-centered, flattering, neutral, or critical. The latter, alas is rare, even among managers who claim to welcome criticism.

Master office politics. Figure out where the power really resides. Then be subtle in your ingratiation. Yes, people like to be praised but do it too much and you’ll be seen as a dishonest suck-up and pay a price. It’s safer to ingratiate yourself by offering to be of assistance, for example, “I have a little extra bandwidth, so if you could use help on that project, I’d welcome your letting me know.” When there’s conflict between power players, avoid taking sides. If asked, it’s usually wise to explain that you can understand both of their perspectives.

Optimize your ongoing learning. Usually, the most efficient learning is just-in-time. When there’s something you want or need to know, Google it to find an on-target article or video, or “attend” the “Hey Joe School”— Ask a coworker or member of an online forum. Need deeper knowledge? Try a short, highly rated webinar or online class found on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy,, Udacity, or Coursera. Or hire a tutor, perhaps a coworker or someone who teaches a class on what you want to learn, for example, that software that your organization deems mission-critical.

Network strategically. Even if your job is secure, build in a bit of networking: Perhaps participate in an online forum for people in your profession, set up occasional or even regular co-coaching sessions or, consistent with COVID restrictions, get together for a walk, meal, or drink.

Manage projects crisply. Many jobs require managing a project. Perhaps learn a project management tool such as Monday or even use Excel. The art is in estimating the necessary resources and time. Don’t be afraid to ask a more experienced person for an educated guess.

Manage people savvily. Modern management is more about gentle guidance than authoritarian ordering. That said, the good manager is crisp: knowing when to stop getting input and make a decision, and when to make a decision without input. If wise, share your reasoning to the troops.

Another key to effective people management is to recognize that one size does not fit all: Supervisees vary in their need for training, supervision, and accountability, and of course, in the sorts of tasks they’re given. If a supervisee complains about unequal treatment, respond with something like, “Each of you is an individual. My job is to treat you so as to bring out the best in each of you. That requires me to individualize.”

The takeaway

COVID or not, your career success and happiness depends not just on technical chops but on these soft but central skills.

I read this aloud on YouTube.


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