Novum Alpha - Daily Analysis 27 July 2022 (10-Minute Read)
A terrific Wednesday to you as a global wave of monetary tightening to quell inflation that’s stoking concerns about a worldwide economic slowdown.
In brief (TL:DR)
In today's issue...
Still, the mood remains edgy ahead of a much-anticipated Federal Reserve interest-rate increase -- part of a global wave of monetary tightening to quell inflation that’s stoking concerns about a worldwide economic slowdown.
The projected Fed move to tackle price pressures would cement a combined 150 basis points increase over June and July -- the steepest rise in rates since the 1980s, when then chairman Paul Volcker wrestled with sky-high inflation.
Asian markets were mostly higher on Wednesday with Sydney’s ASX 200 (+0.23%), Seoul's Kospi Index (+0.11%) and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 (+0.22%) up, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (-1.13%) was down.
1. A Tightening Fed Increases Risks for Asian Economies
The widely anticipated 75-basis-points rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve this week will place pressure on Asian peers to boost monetary tightening, risking more fund outflows and weaker currencies from Asian trading partners.
Comparing the policy rates of Asia Pacific central bank and their five-year averages, the region is more vulnerable than ever before as spreads widen against U.S. Treasury yields, with the danger increasing for emerging markets like Thailand, one of the epicenters for the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Recent tightening by the central bank of the Philippines and Singapore demonstrates the urgency with which Asian policymakers need to act in the face of a soaring dollar and rapidly tightening U.S. monetary policy.
The result of higher yields in the U.S. and a narrowing of yields versus emerging markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, has seen swift bond outflows from these markets, with American assets and the dollar becoming the beneficiary of these withdrawals.
Pressure is growing on Asian policymakers to normalize benchmark rates with inflation in South Korea soaring to its highest level in 23 years and Thailand seeing prices increase at their fastest pace in 14 years.
But many Asian central bankers are caught in a classic Catch-22 because these economies rely heavily on foreign imports of food and fuel denominated in dollars and raising rates would hurt their domestic economies as well as make exports more expensive.
Unless Indian, Thai and Indonesian central banks act decisively, their incremental rate hikes will do little to curb outflows or the continued decline of their currencies.
Meanwhile Japan and China have stuck to their existing monetary policies, with the Bank of Japan doggedly committed to negative rates and yield-curve control, regardless of the cost to its citizens and the yen while the People’s Bank of China can ill afford to take its foot off the gas pedal as a real estate crisis threatens to engulf the Chinese economy.
2. Big Boom for Big Oil
The shift to wean the world off fossil fuels and decades of underinvestment in extraction has become the biggest turnaround story for some of the world’s biggest oil companies.
For the first time in over two decades, oil companies are poised for a record-breaking combined US$50 billion in profit in the second quarter, outpacing even the most resilient tech companies.
Soaring earnings at some of the most well-known oil giants are reflective of the high energy prices that have provided the fuel for inflation, piled pressure on consumers and raised the risk of recession, with some lawmakers calling for windfall taxes.
Nevertheless, the soaring profits at Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, TotalEnergies and BP are likely to already have peaked, as a possible recession threatens to derail demand.
The supermajors are expected to make even more money than they did in 2008, when global oil prices hit almost US$150 a barrel because it’s not just crude that has soared, but natural gas as well as refining margins.
Ancillary sectors such as oil and gas services companies, including the likes of Halliburton, are natural beneficiaries from the boom in energy prices as well.
Many major markets have found themselves critically short on refining capacity, a result of shutdowns, investments stalled by the pandemic, and sanctions on Russia.
China has also limited petroleum exports, in an effort to bolster domestic supply, even as demand has waned thanks to repeated zero-Covid lockdowns.
It’s unlikely that these gains will be durable because the demand side of the equation is rapidly deteriorating, with soaring gasoline prices already undermining consumption.
The supermajors are well aware of the risks of overinvesting during a time of plenty and instead of doubling down on extraction and production capacity, are likely to engage in stock buybacks or paying down debt as interest rates increase, the first time the industry has been able to do so in years.
U.S. President Joe Biden has pleaded with U.S. oil majors to boost domestic production, but so far, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Oil majors are wary that Washington’s accommodative stance towards extraction could very quickly turnaround once conditions improve.
And in an industry where investment in extractive capacity can take years to turn a profit, it’s unlikely that an oil major’s leadership will choose to squander gains from record returns on expansion, especially when the outlook is unclear.
3. Regulators Are Coming for Cryptocurrencies Even as Prices Slump
Bitcoin dipped to a more than one-week low, brought lower by anxiety over an impending U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike coupled with increased regulatory action in the sector.
Bitcoin fell by as much as 6.5% yesterday to trade just below US$21,000 before recovering above that level in Asian trading today.
Other cryptocurrencies fared much worse, notching double-digit percentage dips as sentiment soured on risk assets in general.
Thin trading meant that even small bouts of selling led cryptocurrency prices lower, with growing skepticism over a recent rally’s durability.
Cryptocurrencies were the first to rebound over the past several weeks as investors grew more sanguine on the prospect of supersized Fed rate hikes.
But as the Fed’s policy meeting neared, and the reality of a 0.75% increase in borrowing costs, investors fled from risk assets, including cryptocurrencies.
Exacerbating the rout, the collapse of some of the biggest firms in the cryptocurrency sector, including Celsius Network and Three Arrows Capital, have rattled nerves at a time of thin liquidity.
Bitcoin is now down over 55% this year alone and more than 70% off its all-time-high.
Coinbase Global (+3.03%) is now facing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into whether the exchange allowed Americans to trade cryptocurrencies that ought to have been registered as securities.
Several Coinbase Global executives have also been charged with insider trading and longtime supporter Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management has seen its ETFs dump slightly over 1.41 million shares of the exchange at a steep loss.
A strengthening dollar has also been blamed for the recent decline in cryptocurrency prices, which tend to move inversely to dollar strength, as risk appetite wanes.
What can Digital Assets do for you?
Novum Alpha has a range of regulated cryptocurrency fund products specifically catered to accredited and institutional investors from all over the world.
From our pure-alpha Novum Alpha Global Opportunity Digital Asset Fund that aims to deliver multiples on investment with no leverage, to our market-neutral cash-and-carry spot-futures arbitrage Novum Alpha All Weather Crypto Fund, there's something for all risk appetites and investors profiles.
For sophisticated investors, the Novum Alpha Global Opportunity Digital Asset Fund remains one of the best ways to gain exposure to the digital asset sector, in an unleveraged, institutional vehicle that seeks to return multiples on capital.
To find out more about our products and services, please visit us at:
If this is something of interest to you, or if you'd like to know how digital assets can fundamentally improve your portfolio, please feel free to reach out to me by clicking here.
Jul 27, 2022
Important Risk Information
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as investment advice or a recommendation or offer to buy or sell any security. Prospective clients should always obtain and read an up-to-date product and/or services description or prospectus before deciding whether to invest. Any views expressed herein are those of Novum Alpha SPC (“the Company”) are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. There are no guarantees regarding the achievement of investment objectives, target returns, or measurements such as alpha, tracking error, asset weightings and other information ratios. The views and strategies described may not be suitable for all clients. The Company does not provide tax or legal advice. Prospective subscribers should consult with a tax or legal advisor before making any investment decision. Investing in any investment product entails risks and there can be no assurance that the Company avoid incurring losses or achieve any of a prospective subscriber’s investment goals.
Performance quoted represents past performance, which is no guarantee of future results. Investment and principal value will fluctuate, so you may have a gain or loss when assets are sold. Current performance may be higher or lower than that quoted product’s expenses and other liabilities, and such product may be unable to meet its investment objective