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17 January 2020
Video commentary for January 16th 2020
Eoin Treacy's view
A link to today's video commentary is posted in the Subscriber's Area.
Some of the topics discussed include: Wall Street extends its breakout to new all-time highs, supporting by the pause in the trade war, hydrogen stocks breaking out supporting platinum, gold steady, oil weak, liquidity remains the fuel on which the advance depends.
Hydrogen May Start Replacing Natural Gas Before 2050, Snam Says
This article by Vanessa Dezem for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
“There is already a transition going from coal to gas, which is very beneficial for the environment,” Alvera said. “The next step of the transition is getting away from oil and replacing to gas. After we do that phase one, we can ramp up electrolyzers and have green gas.”
The executive’s view about hydrogen reflects concern within the gas industry that governments are moving to limit fossil-fuel emissions and will hit gas soon. That raises the risk that the investments they’ve made in pipelines, compressors and storage tanks could become stranded assets.
In Italy, Snam decided to double the amount of hydrogen it blends into the grid to 10%. Alvera believes hydrogen could supply a quarter of Italy’s energy demand by 2050 and announced in November a new round of investments to boost transition toward clean energy.
Eoin Treacy's view
Hydrogen stocks are having a moment. In any bull market there needs to be a demand narrative which encourages a supply response. The element’s energy density and clean burning characteristics are burnishing the argument for using more hydrogen as the desire to promote a zero carbon energy sector gains ground. The future of air travel is probably going to include cryogenic hydrogen but that is still a ways off. Meanwhile the low price of natural gas encourages experimentation because the cost of producing hydrogen is compressing.
Boeing Lost Its Way by Going on a Wall Street Detour
This article by Joe Nocera for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
By the time Boeing decided to cobble together the 737 Max, its engineering culture was completely broken. Here’s how Aboulafia described it to Useem in the Atlantic:
It was the ability to comfortably interact with an engineer who in turn feels comfortable telling you their reservations, versus calling a manager [more than] 1,500 miles away who you know has a reputation for wanting to take your pension away. It’s a very different dynamic. As a recipe for disempowering engineers in particular, you couldn’t come up with a better format.
You can see that disempowerment — and its consequences — in the recently released emails. Instead of bringing their fears and complaints to superiors, the engineers grouse to themselves about the problems they see with the plane. They are bitter about management’s unwillingness to slow things down, to build the plane properly, to take the care that’s required to prevent tragedy from striking.
There is one email in particular from an unidentified Boeing engineer that I can’t get out of my head. It was written in June 2018, about a year after the company had begun shipping the 737 Max to customers:
Everyone has it in their head that meeting schedule is most important because that’s what Leadership pressures and messages. All the messages are about meeting schedule, not delivering
We put ourselves in this position by picking the lowest cost supplier and signing up to impossible schedules. Why did the lowest ranking and most unproven supplier receive the contract? Solely based on bottom dollar…. Supplier management drives all these decisions — yet we can’t even keep one person doing the same job in SM for more than 6 months to a year. They don’t know this business and those that do don’t have the appropriate level of input… .
I don’t know how to fix these things … it’s systemic. It’s culture. It’s the fact that we have a senior leadership team that understand very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives. It’s lots of individual groups that aren’t working closely and being accountable …. Sometimes
you have to let things fail big so that everyone can identify a problem … maybe that’s what needs to happen instead of continuing to just scrape by.
Of course that’s exactly what happened: the 737 Max failed big — at a cost of 346 lives. Shareholder value has caused much harm in the three decades since it became the core value of American capitalism: diabetics who can’t afford insulin; students ripped off by for-profit universities; patients gouged by hospital chains; and so much else. But none worse than this.
Eoin Treacy's view
General Electric basically invented financial engineering and built a massive business based on moving money around while its industrial core withered. That resulted in unique exposure, for an industrial company, to the credit crisis. The erasing of goodwill, forced sell-off of prime income producing assets and failure to reinvent a business model, resulted in the complete collapse of the share down to the low in late 2018.
Germans Rush to Buy Gold as Draft Bill Threatens to Restrict Purchases
This article from biocoin.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
In a tweet posted Wednesday, precious metals consultant and analyst Dan Popescu shared a picture of a long line of people waiting in front of “Degussa store to buy gold in Köln.” Popescu described, “From Jan. 1, 2020, the limit to buy gold anonymously drops from €10,000 down to €2,000. Only two years ago the limit was €15,000.” One user posted his own photo and replied “This is me line at Degussa in 23rd. The employees said they haven’t seen anything like it before.” To give an idea of the relatively small amount of gold €2,000 (~$2,224) can buy, even a 50g gold bar is currently too expensive.
Eoin Treacy's view
Negative rates are currently only being imposed on depositors with more than €300,000 because the authorities believe wealthier people are less likely to put cash under the mattress. What they fail to understand is many people choose to hold their cash in gold when the risk of debasement is running high.