The Week Ahead — 27 Jun 2022: The “R” Word

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Powell was out saying “I don’t think a recession is inevitable” but also admitted that rate hikes may be one of many factors that push the economy into recession. All of this while bank credit continues to grow, which we saw flatten in 2020 and decline in 2008. What’s happening? Is a recession inevitable at this point?

We talked about the dollar two weeks ago and the strength is still there. Are we pushing higher so commodities feel a bit cheaper to Americans? Is this temporary — mainly so Americans talk about cheaper gasoline over the July 4th holiday weekend? How far and how long do you expect the dollar to go? Why?

Can crude continue to rally into a recession?

Key themes:

The “R” Word
Geopolitical fallout
Crude 💪 or 👎/ Dollar 🚀
What’s ahead for next week?
This is the 23rd episode of The Week Ahead, where experts talk about the week that just happened and what will most likely happen in the coming week.

Follow The Week Ahead experts on Twitter:

Tony: https://twitter.com/TonyNashNerd
Sam: https://twitter.com/SamuelRines
Tracy: https://twitter.com/chigrl
Albert: https://twitter.com/amlivemon/

Time Stamps

0:00 Start
1:03 Key themes for the week
1:48 Powell’s recession call
3:48 The catalysts that could whip growth
6:58 Geopolitics in EMs and related to the US
8:35 Is the ECB a risk as well?
11:00 Crude and the Dollar
16:00 Where do you expect the dollar to go?
19:00 The week ahead

Transcript

TN: Hi, everybody, and welcome to The Week Ahead. I’m Tony Nash. We’re joined as always, by Tracy, Sam, and Albert. Thanks, guys, for joining us. Before we get started, please, like, please subscribe, please comment. We read all of them and try to respond to all of them. So please go ahead and do that while you’re here. Also, we are running a summer promo for CI Futures. This is our market forecast subscription product. You get three free months, so please go to completeintel.com/2022Promo and learn all about it.

So this week there’s a lot going on, a lot politically in markets, other stuff. We’re talking about three main themes this week. First is the R word. Second is geopolitical fallout of the R word. And third is crude and dollar activity. So I ran a poll earlier this week asking what is the most widely held consensus view that people are seeing right now? And that’s on screen, of course. So first is recession. People are seeing recession as a consensus view all over the place. Next is equities lower, followed by crude higher, followed by a stronger dollar. So we’re going to talk about all these things today.

Sam, let’s talk about that recession call. That recession consensus call. Powell is out this week saying, I don’t think a recession is inevitable after being really hawkish last week and driving people kind of to the edge of this. So what’s actually happening right now? We’re seeing credit continue to grow. And I know I showed you earlier this week. Bank credit continues to grow. Is that meaningful? And what are you looking at to know if we’re going into recession or not?

SR: Yeah, I mean, bank credit, is meh. But at the same time, are we going into a recession? Meh. I don’t really think so. It’s a booming summer. You have hotels full, you have bars and restaurants full. You have airlines unable to keep up with demand. I mean, that sounds like a small subset of the economy, but at the same time, that is a massive portion of the summer economy. It’s massive. So do I think we’re imminently in a recession? No. I actually think that’s one of the big narratives that kind of misses the bigger point, right? Do we make goods? No, we don’t make anything. What we do is we have services. That’s it. So we’re a service based economy. If services are booming, you’re not going into a recession. You’re unlikely to see some sort of huge move in unemployment because a recession technically is down on growth, down on employment.

If you don’t have the down on employment, you don’t have a recession. So maybe you have a slowing of growth. That’s somewhat probable. But a recession, no, not in the cards, at least until the back half this year. In the back half of this year, you have a number of catalysts which could really whip things the other way in terms of both growth.

TN: Okay, so what are some of those catalysts. And when you say back, you’re talking about October? November?

SR: Yes, October. November.

TN: My thinking is if we’re going to see it, we’re going to start seeing it maybe late September, October or something like that. But what are some of those catalysts you’re talking about? A couple of them?

SR: The catalysts then are actually to the gross side, which I think is where I’ll take the opposite side of a lot of people. Those catalysts are called a devolving of the Ukraine conflict. Number one, while that doesn’t take off sanctions in the near term, it does take off the incremental oops.

Then you have the beginning of the reopening of China, which is a big boost to growth in Europe, and secondarily, LatAm and the United States. So you put those pieces together and all of a sudden you’re looking at a back half of the year that has more upside catalysts, potentially. And it’s not like you can reset down China and it’s going to be a negative callus. It’s already in the numbers. It’s not like you can have another war in Ukraine that’s already in the numbers. If you begin to have those two come together, guess what? That’s positive. So I would say the rest of this year is shaping up to be oddly positive.

TN: Yes, but no, I’m kidding. Everyone’s so negative right now. Everyone wants to just find the downside. Russia is going to invade finland or something like that, right?

SR: Yeah. Here’s the play. I would say 3600 is a lot less likely than 43.

TN: I like that.

SR: On the S&P.

TS: I think what we’re going to see is kind of like a balance, right? Where we see services really big this summer, especially in the travel industry, hospitality industry, which we will see taper off this fall, which is not unusual. That always tapers off this fall. But we also see airline prices increasing, so people have booked their summer vacations in Q1. Those people are going to fall off. So I think we’ll see a push. We’ll see a pullback in that industry, but we could see growth in industries that Sam is mentioning.

TN: Great.

SR: Just to throw in there, we have to remember that at some point we have to refill supply chains on the drivable stuff, and those supply chains are at bone zero right now. It will require a whole bunch of employment, a whole bunch of production, and will actually have a fairly significant thrust to GDP. Our production has been zero.

TN: That’s great. My poll is wrong, which is awesome. I love that.

SR: I would bet against every single thing that your poll said.

TN: Perfect. I love that. Okay, so if you’re in the US, that holds. But let’s switch, Albert, to kind of say geopolitical risk and some other things. Obviously, Sri Lanka two months ago started falling apart and not started, but really fell apart. We’ve seen Ecuador and other places really start falling apart.

Albert, what are you seeing, geopolitically, and what are you seeing in EMs related to what’s happening in the US?

AM: I don’t really like focusing on EMs at this moment just because they’re not big enough to really cause a problem in the markets. In my opinion. I’m looking squarely at the European Union right now.

It’s suspicious that we come out with US bank tests and then we come out with EU bank tests and then literally a day later, the Germans come out and say, we could have a Lehman moment across the economy just because of these gas shortages that are happening.

TN: By the way, your tweet about the German Lehman moment up.

AM: Yeah. And this goes back to just the topic we were just talking about, recession. You really need some kind of catalyst or something to break. And the only thing that I could even contemplate of breaking and causing a “recession” would be the European Union going through another financial crisis. You have a contagion that probably leaks over to the United States financial markets and the Putin price hikes become a thing again, justifies any kind of QE that the Federal want to do, probably in Q four this year. Geopolitically, the EU is my target right now to look at.

TN: Okay. It’s energy supply chains. Is the ECB a risk as well? Is there a risk that they tighten too fast or too much or anything?

AM: How are they going to have to I mean, the inflation over there is climbing just as fast as the United States and it’s causing problems across the board.

SR: I would double down on that and say that Qatar, right after we had the train go down in Corpus Christi, came out and said, yeah, we’ll send gas to the European Union. Just sign a 20 year deal.

TN: Right. And they did. Right?

SR: European Union is not going to do that. I mean, nobody in Europe is going to do that. It was kind of like, we got your back, but give us a long term agreement and we’ll do it.

The irony of it is that you have a crisis going on in Europe. There was a dragon moment of do whatever right, anything.

TN: Sorry, Tracy. What’s that?

TS: Self imposed crisis? Their energy crisis is literally self imposed.

TN: Yeah. Okay.

AM: There’s no question that is self imposed. The European Union’s leadership has been atrocious. I mean, they’ve had the worst energy policy you could possibly think of that hampers their economic engine for the last two, three decades. I mean, you can just throw a dart at the board and pick whatever policy they’ve come up with. It has been an absolute disaster.

TN: Why is that? Why are they making such stupid well.

AM: They’ve made such a big swing to the left, the leftist voters, and they’re just climate Nazis. They won’t even discuss nuclear.

SR: We’re literally talking.

AM: They won’t even discuss nuclear power, which is absurd. They’re like, what if something goes bad like Fukushima? Oh, yeah. What if a dam breaks? Or what if a coal plant blows up? Or, God forbid, what if 10,000 Germans freeze to death because you don’t have gas stored because you didn’t have any proper management? I mean, they’re really bad at managing what’s going on without the United States holding their hand and directing what to do.

TN: Well said. Fantastic. Okay, so since we focus a little bit on energy there, Tracy, let’s swing to talk about crude and the dollar. So, our friend Josh Young posted something about kind of energy could potentially outperform this sort of stuff and really kind of looking back to the 1970s.

So it really looked like we were heading there until this week, and then we saw things really come down this week, in terms of, say, WTI, natural gas, other things. What’s going on there?

TS: I think it depends on what you’re looking at. If you were looking at frontline crude oil price, that’s one thing where a lot of speculators are involved in. If you’re looking at the spreads, it’s you’re looking at the crack spreads that are still exploding. If you’re looking at calendar spreads that are up again this week, that pretty much tells you that we put a floor under front month crude price, regardless of who is involved in what specs are involved in the industry right now. Because the spreads are really what I consider will tell you really where things are going. Right.

So we kind of have a floor night. Yes, oil had a bad week. We saw a lot of selling on downtime in markets and things of that nature. I don’t think that doesn’t change the overall fundamentals of the market. Right? I mean, we’re still fundamentally structurally undersupplied.

TN: So I’m going to ask a really dumb question here. I’m sorry if I may hear it.

SR: But we know.

TN: So are we seeing a short term sell off? Is it politically driven so that when Americans get together on July 4, they can say, gosh, gas is really down this week, and then you have a three day weekend where people are talking about that and then it rocket ships up after the fourth?

TS: Well, I think it’s a combination of most things. I think this week recession scares, we’re really the big driver for that market because everybody’s thinking we’re going to have a recession.

SR: That and the potential of having an export ban.

TS: Right.

TN: Recession, export ban, and July 4th.

TS: An export ban. That said, and I kind of tweeted this out, having an export ban, especially a fuel export ban, would make things obviously worse.

First of all, it’ll raise prices for the EU prices abroad, which after all of this with Ukraine, do we really want to hurt the EU that much? Because we supply them with one to 1.3, 1.5 million barrels per day of diesel, which they are having a huge problem. So really, are we going to abandon the you at this point? Also…

TN: My Texas friends would love to have more diesel to power their ram trucks.

TS: But the thing is that what happens is the fuel flows get so disrupted is that we’re going to have to see refineries cut run significantly in the US. Which is going to ultimately raise prices. We may see deepen prices initially, but you’re going to see higher prices ultimately.

SR: I’ll push back on that because you have a lot of storage, but you didn’t have a lot of storage before. So you don’t have to cut back on runs. You can put into storage at a pretty profitable rate because of forward selling basically all of your inventory right now. I would push back on you have to cut runs at this point.

TS: And I’m going to push back on that. We have to look at the east coast. Right. And so that’s looking at gasoline runs to make a barrel. Diesel requires a lot more oil than it does say to make gasoline. And so if we see a diesel problem, we’re going to have to cut back on this runs. I think it depends on what coast you’re looking at and what area you’re looking at.

TN: All we care about is Texas and Florida. Right.

SR: You have a lot of places to store gasoline. I mean, it’s not like we have an oversupply gasoline at the moment.

TN: It’s true. Our bob’s down this week too, right. So it’s tight.

AM: It’s interesting, Tony, it’s funny. One thing that you said July 4 and one thing that Tracy said, thinly traded is that hilariously every time we need a rally in the market during the thinly traded holiday hours, crude goes down, dollar goes down and the market goes up almost by magic on the thinly traded holiday hours. Something you should watch.

SR: University of Michigan. Come on.

TN: It’s a big driver. University of Michigan. Okay, so let’s move on. You mentioned the dollar, Albert, and so if we look at the dollar, obviously it’s near highs for the decade and that’s great if you’re in the US buying dollar denominated commodities. But elsewhere in the world it’s really hard. Right. So where do you expect the dollar to go? I can’t remember what you’ve said your expected target is. Possibly? 110. Possibly 120. So if it hits 120, Japanese Yen is at what, like 160? 170? something like that?

AM: 163,164? My calculation… This is something Yellen has done in 2012. It’s nothing new. She’s driven the dollar up. She’s out into Europe talking that she’s going to take the dollar up to 110. So this is nothing new. Everyone knows what’s going to happen. Everyone’s watching it. So we’re at 104 something today, just sitting there and hasn’t really done anything. Last day or so. Another 5% up is not a big deal for the dollar.

TN: So you see Yellen driving a stronger dollar. Sam, what do you see?

SR: I would say that I hate taking the other side. I’m going to take the other side.

TN: Great.

SR: I’m going to say that Yellen’s ability to control the dollar is de minimis at this point, mostly because the Fed is tapped out. But you already had a 4% terminal rate for Fed funds priced in two weeks ago. Today you’re sitting at basically 3.65%. So you’ve got the peak, in my opinion, priced in for the FOMC hiking cycle and now you’re on the other side of that. So I would say JPY, you’re probably looking at above 10.

TN: Oh, wow, okay, great.

SR: And you’re probably looking at a Euro at 108. 109. And it doesn’t really matter if they go into a recession because they’re… Right. The US is going to back off in incremental steps the long end of the hiking cycle and…

TN: Perfect.

SR: The dollar prices is long end of the hiking cycle and Yellen can do a lot of things. What she can’t do is increase the internal rate.

TN: That’s great.

AM: The thing is, the treasury sets USD policy, so she can certainly drive it up. I don’t know how much ammo she has left because it’s gone up. But we’ll see.

TN: Okay, perfect. That’s great. So we’ve covered almost everything in that survey and almost everything was wrong.

SR: I told you everything was I would take the other side of every single one of those.

TN: Perfect. Okay, let’s talk about the week ahead. We have month end and quarter end coming next week, right? So what does that mean for the week ahead? Everyone else.

TS: Can I go?

TN: Yes, you go Tracy.

TS: I don’t know. What I’m looking at for the week ahead is the last week of the month. Of the month and the quarter. Right. So we have roughly about $100 billion of US equities that need to be purchased over the next five trading sessions. We have a rebalance in the RTY. So we should see a lot of inflows, roughly 5.98 point billion of inflows into the US equity markets just because of the rebalance factor.

We should probably see outflows in the bond market and then that’s walking into a backdrop of negative dealer gamma. So we have the potential of a shot higher in the market.

TN: Sam? Sam?

SR: Yeah. I would say everything Tracy said in terms of the risk seems to be to the upside. I would also say it looks pretty scary when you walk into the end of the month in terms of the way the dollar chart looks right now.

You walk into the end of the month with a dollar chart looking like it’s ready, looking ready to gap down, and you have oil where it’s at. You could have a very interesting quarter end in terms of risk assets. You have a weaker dollar. You have a big buy on SPY, RTX, et cetera, or SPX, not SPY. You begin to put those pieces together and you begin to have a pretty risk on into the quarter that could be very interesting very quickly.

You get any positive headlines out of China in terms of lockdowns, you get any positive headlines out of Ukraine in terms of ceasefires, whatever BS they want to leak. Then all of a sudden you’re more upside. So I would say skewed to the upside through the beginning of July.

TN: Sam, you’re optimistic today. That’s amazing.

SR: I know. And contrarian.

TN: Optimistic and contrarian. I love it. Okay.

AM: Yeah, I mean, I agree mostly with Sam. I think just because the market is so thinly traded, the dollar should be chopping around probably on the downside a little bit, just for the week up until July 4 weekend, so long as the Europeans don’t come out and start saying any more Lehman things, Lehman crash things and all of a sudden dollar shoots up just because of fear factor out of the European side. But I don’t think that’s going to materialize over the next week, probably next couple of weeks.

After that, I think 30 days, we’re starting to look at possibly something that happened in the European Union. But for the week ahead.

TN: Fantastic. So the past three days carries into the next week. Fantastic.

AM: Yeah.

TN: Okay, guys, thank you very much. Thanks for your time. Thanks for all the stuff you passed along, and have a great week ahead. Thank you.

AM: All right, thanks.

TS, SR: Thank you.

This Week Ahead is originally published at https://www.completeintel.com/weekahead/the-week-ahead-27-jun-2022.

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