We’ve argued before that the 2005-2007 commodity bull-run could have been the product of an unwitting self-manufactured squeeze, as the industry rushed to monetise as much inventory as possible to benefit from higher than usual interest rates and as inventory levels dropped. (All pretty much unwittingly, of course.)
As prices increased, the economy choked. Read more
Take yourself back to the heady oil price days of early 2008. Imagine a rogue voice reassuring the market to “fear not, one day soon the US will be saturated in the black oozey stuff”.
What would the market have made of such a concept? Would such a voice have been dismissed as a loon? Very possibly.
And yet, less than six years later comes the following warning from Goldman Sachs: Read more
Here’s an unintended consequence of the government shutdown that the Republicans may not have envisioned: commodity market turmoil.
John Kemp of Reuters makes the excellent point on Wednesday that the shutdown, if it continues, will soon hit important government data statistics services such as the CFTC’s weekly commitments of traders report and even potentially the EIA’s weekly inventory figures. Read more
In the summer, FT Alphaville attended a retreat organised by fin-tech investor Sean Park, who heads up the venture firm Anthemis. The event introduced us to a number of Anthemis’ portfolio and partner companies, all of whom were somehow connected to disruptive trends in finance.
Among them was a company called Trōv. Read more
A very intriguing little exclusive from Reuters on Friday:
(Reuters) – China is developing a new trading platform to enable banks to sell off loans to a wider range of investors, in a move that could pave the way for a government bailout of lenders or distressed asset sales to private investors. Read more
An interesting paper has just landed on the BIS working paper site, in which the myth that commodities provide a solid diversification tool for investment portfolios has been beautifully debunked.
The grounds for this are mostly due to too much correlation, and volatility. Read more
This is Joseph. He is a well known commodity forecaster.
The New York Times ran a big piece on the ongoing commodity shuffle this weekend. The one FT Alphaville (and others) have been writing about for a long while now, and which applies to both metals and energy markets.
The story followed a Reuters article reporting that the Fed was now “reviewing” a landmark 2003 decision that first allowed regulated banks to trade in physical commodity markets. It was this, we always noted, that allowed for the emergence of a so-called physical loophole for a number of top Wall Street institutions active in commodity markets. The fact that they were swap dealers with physical exposures ensured they were eligible for exemptions (on such things as position limits) whilst other financial institutions were not. Read more
The fixed income team at Credit Suisse have a good note talking about what’s really driving WTI backwardation. Small hint, they don’t think it’s much to do with Egypt.
They put the backwardation down to three things. Read more
That’s from Deutsche Bank today.
We joke, we joke. A little. Deutsche had of course already joined the commodities-supercycle-is-dead chorus, and this note is not from the commodities side but by Asia chief economists Taimur Baig and Jun Ma. Read more
Business Insider suggested the ascent of US real yields was possibly the most important development in the market right now. We don’t disagree.
As we noted, it represents the market’s reconnection with disinflationary reality. The smoke and mirrors are fading. What is worrying, however, is that a move of this size has been prompted by simple talk of tapering. If that’s what tapering does, what will the first hint of a proper QE exit inspire?
As a result, it’s unlikely that an outright QE exit is viable at this stage. The deflationary consequences (which include the chances of a major market-sell off) would arguably be too large. Given that let’s analyse what the move in real yields really signifies. Read more
It’s been our mantra at FT Alphaville for a while, but finally someone from the ‘serious’ analyst space seems to agree with our hypothesis that commodity collateralisation — incentivised by low rates and excess liquidity — is having a larger impact on inventories and commodity prices than most people appreciate.
Here’s an extract from one of oil market veteran Philip K. Verleger’s recent articles on the relationship between interest rates and inventories (our emphasis): Read more
FT Alphaville was cordially invited to talk about the collateralisation of commodities at two separate conferences this past month. We thank IHS Global and the Association des Economiste Quebcois for the opportunity.
The crux of our argument was that you can’t really understand what’s going on in commodity markets unless you appreciate that commodities are no longer a pure consumption-based market. Read more
Yes, we know it’s not new, but the divergence between stock markets and commodity prices is now looking extreme. Consider this chart from Julian Jessop at Capital Economics…
We’ve been reading a lot lately about the potential for cheap natural gas to replace oil-derived transport fuels in the US — and perhaps globally.
Much of this excitement overlooks some fundamentals of energy and commodities in general and the US natural gas sector in particular. The short version is that energy markets are incredibly difficult to predict, and adding interactions between energy sources only adds to the uncertainty. Read more
When it comes to commodities everyone understandably likes to focus on supply and demand. However, there is another important driver for commodity prices that’s sometimes overlooked.
The real interest rate. Read more
Silver is off 6.4 per cent and gold is down 3.8 per cent, although the latter follows a steeper fall on Friday:
From Capital Economics on Friday:
At the time of writing (Friday afternoon in the UK), equity and commodity prices and government bond yields are all falling sharply. This appears to be in response to weaker-than-anticipated US data on retail sales and consumer confidence (discussed further below). If so, this is probably an overreaction, as the figures were hardly disastrous. The falls in the prices of riskier assets may also have been exaggerated by week-end position squaring after the Bank of Japan-inspired rally in the previous days.
Nonetheless, most of these moves are consistent with our long-held view that a disappointing global recovery will cause the equity market rally to run out of steam, the prices of industrial commodities to fall further (with Brent crude in particular heading back below $100) and 10-year US Treasury yields to dip to 1.5% or so by year-end. The pick-up in market volatility more generally is something that we had been anticipating too.
A small selection from our inbox the last few weeks.
First, this from Barclays on Friday, about copper: Read more
Societe Generale’s big (bearish) scorecard on “the end of the gold era” – click to enlarge:
The latest commodity advice from Goldman Sachs suggests the current sell-off may be overdone.
Here are the key points from Monday’s note:
Shifting to near-term overweight as commodity sell-off overdone
Commodity markets declined sharply in February along with emerging market (EM) equities due to renewed concerns over China, which we believe is overdone. Although our price targets other than gold remain unchanged, this pull back has pushed our near-term return forecast from 2.0% to 6.0%, making commodities the asset class within the ECS coverage universe with the most robust near-term outlook. However, our 12-month neutral recommendation remains unchanged as our returns forecast is still a more subdued 3.0%, as we continue to remain structurally neutral on long-dated oil and commodity prices due to the structural supply-side response to persistently high prices.
Almost a year ago the Telegraph’s Thomas Pascoe put out an interesting piece on gold. We’ve decided to reprise it this Friday because we think it offers an interesting and useful perspective on current developments in the gold market:
One of the most popular trading plays of the late 1990s was the carry trade, particularly the gold carry trade. In this a bank would borrow gold from another financial institution for a set period, and pay a token sum relative to the overall value of that gold for the privilege.
FT Alphaville doesn’t tend to follow the nickel market too closely, but the research from Goldman Sachs on Thursday did strike us as interesting (our emphasis):
2012 nickel market summary: Weak demand growth and lower input costs As background, nickel underperformed in 2012, starting the year at $18,910/t, rising to $21,700/t in early February, and finishing the year at $16,998/t, declines of 10.1% and 21.4%, respectively. Overall nickel prices averaged $17,536/t in 2012, down 23.4% yoy from 22,900/t in 2011. Price weakness reflected a combination of soft global consumption growth set against significantly higher low-cost nickel pig iron supply in China, and, importantly, a shift down of the nickel cost curve in 2H2012 (largely reflecting lower energy and nickel ore input prices).
A final word on Thursday’s defenestration of Rio boss Tom Albanense (via JP Morgan).
Nothing short of an RNS fit for framing from Rio Tinto this Thursday morning:
Rio Tinto expects to recognise a non-cash impairment charge of approximately US$14 billion (post tax) in its 2012 full year results. These impairments include an amount of approximately US$3 billion relating to Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique (RTCM), as well as reductions in the carrying values of Rio Tinto’s aluminium assets (mostly Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) but also Pacific Aluminium) in the range of US$10-11 billion. The Group also expects to report a number of smaller asset write-downs in the order of US$500 million. The final figures will be included in Rio Tinto’s full year results on 14 February 2013.
Eric Hunsader at Nanex presents us with a nice start to 2013 markets — a no less than an 8 per cent drop and subsequent clawback in natgas futures during early Wednesday trade:
This is the most awesome chart we’ve seen since Lisa’s Starbucks tax graphic: Goldman Sachs comparing the attention given to climate change, the eurozone crisis, and Justin Bieber. Read more