Friday, June 25, 2021

This week's interesting finds

When Americans Took to the Streets Over Inflation

 Today, after decades of nearly invisible inflation in the U.S., many Americans have little idea what it looks like. Nearly half of the U.S. population was born after 1981, the last year of double-digit consumer price increases. But America’s long inflation holiday shows signs of ending. Consumer prices are now rising again: The Labor Department’s consumer price index rose 5% in May from a year earlier, the biggest increase in more than a decade. History provides some useful lessons.

The nagging inflation of the late 1960s and 1970s didn’t happen overnight. It took root over years, building through a cascade of policy missteps and misfortunes until it became embedded in the psychology of nearly every American. It would take two deep recessions and new ways of thinking about economics to tame the inflation of that period.

 

Real cost of lighting in United Kingdom over 700 years 


Growing Capital Discipline in the E&P space

If we want to fight the climate crisis, we must embrace nuclear power  

On 30 April, the Indian Point nuclear power plant 30 miles north of New York City was shut down. For decades the facility provided the overwhelming majority of the city’s carbon-free electricity as well as good union jobs for almost a thousand people. Federal regulators had deemed the plant perfectly safe.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, a key figure behind the move, said that the shuttering of Indian Point brought us “a big step closer to achieving our aggressive clean energy goals”. It’s hard to reconcile that optimism with the data that’s recently come out. The first full month without the plant has seen a 46% increase in the average carbon intensity of statewide electric generation compared to when Indian Point was fully operational. New York replaced clean energy from Indian Point with fossil fuel sources like natural gas 

It’s a nightmare we should have seen coming. In Germany, nuclear power formed around a third of the country’s power generation in 2000, when a Green party-spearheaded campaign managed to secure the gradual closure of plants, citing health and safety concerns. Last year, that share fell to 11%, with all remaining stations scheduled to close by next year. A recent paper found that the last two decades of phased nuclear closures led to an increase in CO2 emissions of 36.3 megatons a year - with the increased air pollution potentially killing 1,100 people annually.

Pembina and TC Energy Partner to Create World-Scale Carbon Transportation and Sequestration Solution: The Alberta Carbon Grid 

Key Benefits of the Alberta Carbon Grid 

World-Scale Carbon Capacity: The open-access system is being designed with the ability to scale up to more than 60,000 tonnes per day of capacity, or 20,000,000 tonnes per annum, representing approximately 10 percent of Alberta's industrial emissions. 

Environment, Cost and Time Benefits: Utilizing existing assets dramatically accelerates timing, greatly reduces cumulative environmental and community impacts, and is significantly less capital intensive than building a new pipeline. Pembina and TC Energy are targeting the first phase to be operational as early as 2025, with the fully scaled solution complete as early as 2027, subject to regulatory and environmental approvals. 

Economic Development: The construction and operation of the ACG, along with other investments in CCUS technology and infrastructure, will create an entirely new business platform for each company and create new high-value jobs and support economic growth across Alberta.

Safe & Reliable Operations: World-leading experts have been engaged to evaluate technical and operating conditions of using existing pipeline systems to transport CO2. The companies have the skills and experience to safely operate these kinds of systems as the characteristics of CO2 are very similar to other products which are safely transported today, such as specification ethane. The completed feasibility study demonstrates that ACG is achievable while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability. The companies have been working with regulators to advance the Project. 

Customer-Focused Solution: With multiple inlets and outlets, customers will have flexibility to decide delivered CO2 end-uses including industrial processes and sequestration. 

'We're not satisfied': Canadiens enjoy improbable, fairy-tale run to Stanley Cup final


The Montreal Canadiens fired their head coach in February, battled a COVID-19 outbreak in March and squeaked into the NHL post-season in May with the lowest point total of any playoff team. 

Five weeks later, the Canadiens have booked passage to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1993. 

A team of destiny? Perhaps. 

A team thriving without the weight of outside expectations? Most definitely

Friday, June 18, 2021

This week's interesting finds

U.S. P&C commercial rates continue to accelerate



Ironies of Luck

If risk is what happens when you make good decisions but end up with a bad outcome, luck is what happens when you make bad or mediocre decisions but end up with a great outcome. They both happen because the world is too complex to allow 100% of your actions to dictate 100% of your outcomes. They are mirrored cousins, driven by the same thing: You are one person in a 7 billion player game, and the accidental impact of other people’s actions can be more consequential than your own. Experiencing risk makes you recognize that some stuff is out of your control, which is accurate feedback that helps you adjust your strategy. 

Experiencing luck doesn’t. It generates the opposite feedback: A false feeling that you are in control, because you did something and then got the outcome you wanted. Which is terrible feedback if you’re trying to make good, repeatable long-term decisions. 


ESG 

Why are they celebrating the Keystone XL cancellation?

Activists across the country are claiming victory over TC Energy cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline. But what are they really celebrating?

Increased transportation by rail
Keystone XL, which was first proposed in 2008, would have been a net-zero emissions pipeline that transported oil from Canada – a country with some of the highest environmental standards among all major oil producers – to refineries on the Gulf Coast that process heavy crude into gasoline and other necessary products. We all know it, but it’s worth stating again: Pipelines are by far the safest, most efficient means of transporting oil. Yet U.S.-Canadian pipelines continue to face attacks from activists that either don’t fully comprehend supply and demand or don’t care that this oil will now need to be delivered via truck, rail or – even worse – tankers from countries across the ocean

Increased reliance on OPEC and Russian oil
Preventing pipelines from being built doesn’t mean the demand just goes away. The United States recently accepted its second tanker of oil from Iran in the past six months. Oil imports from Russia are also currently at a 10-year high.


Alberta’s relative position globally to attract capital for “green energy” related projects



The power of investors to influence responsible behaviour

Bill Ackman was scrolling through Twitter when an article in The New York Times caught his eye. “The Children of Pornhub,” told how unauthorized sex — and rape and torture — videos were being spread across the internet on a website called Pornhub, one of the most popular in the world. An influential shareholder activist, Ackman immediately thought about the growing interest in ethical, or ESG, investing. 

 And that’s where he saw an opening. In this case, he wasn’t an investor in any of the publicly traded companies that he knew were profiting from Pornhub’s content, which is often uploaded from users the same way individuals post videos on YouTube. But Ackman had noticed that Mastercard and Visa were payment processors for Pornhub, and he was friendly with Mastercard’s then-CEO Ajay Banga, whom he had met through a mutual friend. He texted Banga “Amex, VISA and MasterCard should immediately withhold payments or withdraw until this is fixed. PayPal has already done so.” (Ackman was unaware that American Express already did not allow its card to be used on adult sites.) 

Within days, Mastercard announced it had instructed the financial institutions that connect the site to our network to terminate acceptance” of Pornhub charges. Visa also stopped processing Pornhub payments. Within 24 hours of the credit card companies’ actions, Pornhub said it had taken down 10 million videos, or 80 percent of those on its site.

Since then, the Parliament of Canada and the U.S. Congress both have held hearings, legislation has been proposed, lawsuits have been filed, and there have been calls for a criminal investigation. To be sure, Ackman is only one player in the grand scheme of Pornhub’s but the involvement of the high-profile financier drew more attention to a campaign for accountability that activists had been waging for almost a year — with little success.

Friday, June 11, 2021

This week's interesting finds

 Resource equities: Inflation protection at a discount

Whether this year’s price rises are merely transitory or something longer lasting, the opportunity in energy and metals companies looks very appealing from a historical perspective. Energy and metals companies are trading at a discount of over 70% to the S&P 500 Index, the biggest discount seen with the exception of other points in the last year or so. In fact, energy companies are trading at the cheapest levels in absolute terms ever seen prior to Covid.

Inflation 

The core CPI price index is now firmly above the pre-COVID trend.

Three categories that comprise ~5.5% of core CPI drove half of the monthly increase:

i) used cars & trucks

ii) car & truck rentals

iii) public transportation (largely reflecting airline fares)

Reopening 

During the peak of COVID-19, the US box office didn't just slow down — it completely disappeared. So, it's somewhat comforting to see that on May 28th A Quiet Place Part II, the sequel to the successful horror film from 2018, managed to rack up almost $20m on its opening day, and more than $57m over the course of the entire Memorial Day Weekend. 

Benefits of not seeking validation  

There is a fundamental mismatch between the frequency of the feedback an investor gets from market quotations and the time required to determine whether a specific investment or a strategy is working. There will always be critics who are not shy about second guessing your decisions. When it comes to investing, there are massive benefits that accrue to those that can totally ignore short term market movements. 

Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt 



Friday, June 4, 2021

This week's interesting finds

The Genetics of Investment Biases 

The chart below illustrates one of the key findings of the study and shows that twins in an identical pair display much more similar investment biases compared to twins in a fraternal pair. This finding suggests that investment biases are partly genetic. 



How To Do Long Term

Long term is harder than most people imagine, which is why it’s more lucrative than many people assume. Everything worthwhile has a price, and the prices aren’t always obvious. The real price of long term – the skills required, the mentality needed – is easy to minimize, often summarized with simple phrases like “be more patient,” as if that explains why so many people can’t.

To do long term effectively you have to come to terms with a few points.

MacroVoices #273 Larry McDonald: Dollar Down & Gold, Oil, Uranium Up

 Erik Townsend and Patrick Ceresna welcome Larry McDonald to MacroVoices. Erik and Larry discuss: 

• Relationship between inflation and treasury yields 

• Outlook on US/China relations 

• What to expect in equity and bond market 

• Drivers of upcoming price increase in oil 

• Trading opportunities in energy market 

• “Alpha Male Central Banker” 

• Breakdown of the dollar and its implications 

• Oil demand expectations in the re-opening 

The Fall of the Titans!

The corporate titans in a traditional passive tracker strategy are so engrained in our daily lives it takes a healthy imagination to envision they may not stand the test of time. Nevertheless, in the same way the Greek Titans believed their rule was safe before it collapsed, the tables can also turn for these corporate titans. A half-century of history shows that the market’s titan stocks constantly change.

Warm-weather reads and listens - Spring 2021 list

 Regardless of what stage of opening your province is in, here are the latest books, blogs and podcast recommendations from the Investment team that can keep you socially distanced and mentally active.