Posted by & filed under Daily Intelligence Briefing.

Daily Intelligence Briefing

Monday, December 16, 2019

Identifying Change-Driven Investment Themes – Five sections, explained here.

We bring you our Daily Intelligence Briefing courtesy of McAlinden Research Partners. The report is provided to Hedge Connection members for free. Below is snapshot, login to view the full report. Not a member? Join today. McAlinden Research Partners is offering a complimentary one-month subscription to receive the Daily Intelligence Briefing – to Hedge Connection clients/friends. Activate yours by contacting and mentioning “Sent by Hedge Connection”

I. Today’s Thematic Investment Idea

A deep dive into a market driver with alpha generating potential.

MRP Adds Long UK Equities as a New Investment Theme →

Summary: Global funds have been underweight UK equities for three and half years on account of the Brexit-related political impasse that has led to a decline in business spending, capital flight out of sterling assets, and an economic slowdown. Boris Johnson’s majority electoral win on December 12 breaks the impasse and brings with it the prospect of economic stimulus. That’s a positive catalyst for the UK economy and stocks. As such, MRP is adding Long UK Equities to our list of active investment themes. Read more +

Source material for today’s market insight…

UK Election: What Boris Johnson’s Win Means for Markets

UK Election: World Traders Fire Up U.K. Inc. Bets

UK Election: Victory for Conservative agenda sets the UK on course to boom

UK Election: Whoever Wins in Britain’s Election, Big Government Spending Is Back

UK Election: EU leaders ‘ready’ for next stage of Brexit

UK Election: How UK election results bring Scottish independence and Irish unity to the fore

II. Updates of Themes on MRP’s Radar

Follow-up analysis of key market drivers monitored by MRP.

Asset Managers: ETF assets to surge tenfold in 10 years to $50 trillion, Bank of America predicts

Trade War: Trump Cancels December Tariffs as US, China Agree on a Deal

Quantum: Quantum computing will be the smartphone of the 2020s, says Bank of America strategist

Robotics & Automation LONG: Automation and artificial intelligence could save banks more than $70 billion by 2025

Livestock LONG: After Taking on Coal and Oil, Climate Investors Target Meat Next

Uranium: Beating spot uranium prices key to boosting US production with federal stockpile

III. Joe Mac’s Viewpoint

Founder Joe McAlinden’s big-picture analyses of macro issues. More about him here.

November 27, 2019: Emergence of Divergence →

October 31, 2019: Receding Recession Fears →

September 30, 2019: Verbal Intervention →

August 30, 2019: The Booming Buck →

June 28, 2019: A Review of MRP’s Change-Driven Themes →

IV. Active Thematic Ideas

MRP’s active long and short themes, with an archive of follow-up reports.

See Them Here →

V. Macroeconomic Indicators

Key data releases relevant to MRP’s Active Thematic Ideas.

See Them Here →



MRP Adds Long UK Equities as a New Investment Theme

Summary: Global funds have been underweight UK equities for three and half years on account of the Brexit-related political impasse that has led to a decline in business spending, capital flight out of sterling assets, and an economic slowdown. Boris Johnson’s majority electoral win on December 12 breaks the impasse and brings with it the prospect of economic stimulus. That’s a positive catalyst for the UK economy and stocks. As such, MRP is adding Long UK Equities to our list of active investment themes.

The UK’s economy has been slowing this year, but that could be about to change. After all, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy.


The labor market is robust and the unemployment rate, at 3.8%, has not been this low since the 1970s when it hit a record low of 3.4%. In fact, the employment-to-population ratio is at an all-time high. Inflation is below 2%, so the government has room to employ stimulatory measures.


One major drag on GDP has been the marked decline in business investment. Political uncertainty is mostly to blame for that drop. Uncertainty about who will lead the country, about the expected economic regime, and about what sort of relationship the UK will have with the EU have kept investors at bay.


Boris Johnson’s majority win on Thursday removes much of that uncertainty. After capturing 365 of the 650 parliamentary seats in Thursday’s vote, his party now has the political firepower to move forward with Brexit. Britain’s withdrawal process will no doubt come with complications that will inconvenience some companies and put others out of business. But it will create opportunity for some other businesses as well.


There are 3 major takeaways from the election results:

  1. The threat of mass industry nationalizations and higher taxes has dissipated with the labor party’s resounding defeat.
  2. The political impasse that has paralyzed the country since it voted to leave the European Union in 2016 is finally over. Parliament will convene shortly and begin the legal process to approve Johnson’s withdrawal agreement. By January 31, 2020, the UK will be out of the European Union.
  3. The fiscal brakes are coming off. Diverging from Margaret Thatcher’s brand of fiscal conservatism, Boris Johnson has pledged £100 billion ($128 billion) of investment into capital projects and he means to finance those with extra borrowing over the next five years. That stimulatory shot of spending should help rekindle economic growth.

There is still plenty to sort out in the year ahead. For example, the Prime Minister has pledged to “get Brexit done” by January 31, but can he actually ink a trade deal with the EU before the end of the transition period in December 2020? Skeptics allude to the fact that Johnson, an erstwhile hard-Brexiter, has promised not to extend the transition period beyond the end of next year, which could cause Britain to crash out of the EU market without a deal at the end of 2020.


The rebuttal to those concerns is that Johnson has until July 1 to ask the EU for a trade talk extension. In the meantime, the UK will be free after January 31 to strike free trade deals with other nations that do not already have a trade agreement with the EU, such as the United States. Getting even a partial deal signed could give Johnson some bargaining power with the EU.


Furthermore, there is more at stake than just a trade deal, therefore it is very much in Johnson’s interest to get a deal done. As pointed out in this Washington Post article, one consequential result of the election is the landslide victory in Scotland of the Scottish National Party (SNP) which opposes Brexit and favors independence. SNP leaders are already calling for a new referendum on Scottish independence. The latest poll on that issue indicates that a majority of Scots (55%) would prefer to be part of the UK, but they may change their minds if Brexit is bungled.


Similarly, the allegiance of Northern Ireland and even Wales to the United Kingdom may also crumble if Brexit is poorly managed. No occupant of 10 Downey Street wants the legacy of being the person who contributed the most to the breakup of the United Kingdom, not even Boris Johnson. To preserve the union with Scotland and Northern Ireland, Johnson may adopt a more centrist course when negotiating with the EU.


So while we do not yet know the trade terms to be faced by British exporters in the future, there are good reasons to be optimistic about a “soft Brexit” happening. In that scenario, the UK and the European bloc would be closely aligned in terms of trading arrangements, avoiding the disruptions to trade and supply chains that a no-deal Brexit would trigger.


Impact on UK Economy & Markets


It is too early to tell how the UK will fare long-term following its exit from the EU. But we do know that breaking the political deadlock begins to remove some of the crippling uncertainty that has weighed on the country’s economy and stock market. Global fund managers have been underweight UK equities since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Bloomberg reports that was still the case going into last Thursday’s vote.


To investors that remain on the fence, we would say that the improved visibility combined with the prospect of government stimulus are positive catalysts that should help resurrect business investment, a key GDP growth driver that’s been anemic for a couple of years. That in turn will boost the economy and draw more inflows into sterling assets.

NEW MRP THEME: Long UK Equities

We at MRP believe the UK election results will be positive for the country’s GDP growth and its stock market, especially stocks with a domestic focus. For that reason, we are adding Long UK Equities to our list of active investment themes. We will monitor the theme via the iShares MSCI United Kingdom Small-Cap ETF (EWUS) rather than the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (EWU).


As its name suggests, EWUS primarily provides exposure to small-cap (70%) companies in the United Kingdom, with a tilt toward the financial, industrial and consumer cyclical sectors. EWU, a much larger fund, holds a fairly concentrated basket of British large-caps (97%), therefore its exposure to the domestic economy is more muted. For our theme, we want greater exposure to the domestic economy, hence why we are going with EWUS.


Stocks in the UK already began to pop in anticipation of a Johnson victory. Over the past 3 months, EWUS has rallied 16%. In comparison the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) is up 5%, about the same as the iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU) and the iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF (IDEV).


But there’s still a lot more runway ahead for the UK stocks. Having underperformed US and EU indexes since June 1, 2016 — SPY (+51%) versus EZU (+23) versus EWUS (+18%) –- they have plenty of ground to catch up.

UK Equities vs US Equities

Source material for today’s market insight…

UK Election

What Boris Johnson’s Win Means for Markets


Sterling has punched up to new highs for the year. With the parliamentary handbrake on Johnson’s Brexit deal now released, we should see sustained pound gains.


The biggest immediate beneficiaries are investors in U.K. equities, which have plenty of ground to catch up having lagged far behind European and U.S. indexes this year. British banks and house-builders have been particularly unloved, explaining their bounce on Friday morning. And with the threat of Corbyn’s nationalization program gone, the utilities are suddenly happier places too.


U.K. government bonds are suffering from the rapid shift back to equities and away from safe havens. Expect gilt yields to head higher next year as more supply is certainly coming to finance a hefty fiscal splurge by Johnson.


The trickiest thing for the markets to call is what happens to short-term interest rates. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is due to stand down at the end of January, at exactly the same as the U.K. will formally quit the EU. The central bank’s monetary policy committee will no doubt want to buy as much time as possible before tinkering with the 0.75% base rate.


Read the full article from Bloomberg +

UK Election

World Traders Fire Up U.K. Inc. Bets


Investors are ramping up pro-growth trades across U.K. stocks and bonds as a landslide Tory party victory paves the way for a Brexit deal after years of political gridlock.


In Rotterdam, Robeco is talking up risk-on exposures such as bank debt and those that profit from a steeper government yield curve. In Paris, CPR Asset Management is considering a return to sterling assets. Arbuthnot Latham in London sees FTSE 250 stocks as a “screaming buy.”


There’s plenty of skepticism among those who say the Brexit saga is only just entering another chapter. Despite his Parliamentary majority, Johnson still has to contend with hard-liners in his party who are willing to give up EU trading ties to exert greater control on labor and environmental standards. This faction is likely to push for a clean break at the end of next year. A big majority could allow him to cut a deal that keeps the U.K. more closely aligned with the single market.


Going into the Thursday vote, global funds remain decidedly underweight on U.K. equities, according to Bank of America Corp.’s monthly fund manager survey. Their allocation has slipped since the Brexit vote, reaching the lowest since at least 1999 at one point earlier last year.


Read the full article from Bloomberg +

UK Election

Victory for Conservative agenda sets the UK on course to boom


The victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s agenda means that the country could be set to boom.


First, the Tories are planning to increase infrastructure spending by an extra £20bn a year on roads, railway, schools and hospitals. Net public sector investment in the UK has hovered between 1.5-2% of GDP for many years. An extra £20bn a year (roughly 1% of GDP), will not match the OECD average of 3-4%, but at least we will not be so far adrift.


Second, the Tory plan to raise the minimum wage, and lift the threshold for national insurance contributions, will address head-on the problem of low wages and low real income growth since 2008. This is not trickle-down economics along the lines of the 2017 US tax cuts — it does not rely on rich corporations to pass on their gains. Instead Mr Johnson is addressing the problems of the low wage economy directly.


Finally, the Johnson government may seek an early trade deal with the EU based on “high alignment” in all goods sectors and most services — even at the expense of some of the flexibility needed to strike deals with new partners such as the US or India. This may not be optimal in the long run but it might please markets, which seem fixated by the risk of short-term losses as opposed to long-term gains.


With the currency and stock market at 20-30 year relative or absolute lows, this policy combination, combined with the newfound political stability, will make the UK a very attractive investment destination.


Read the full article from The Financial Times +

UK Election

Whoever Wins in Britain’s Election, Big Government Spending Is Back


The fiscal brakes are coming off. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is promising voters in Thursday’s U.K. election £100 billion ($128 billion) of investment in infrastructure and billions more for policing and health care. Ahead of the election, Mr. Johnson has rewritten his party’s fiscal rules to permit £100 billion of extra borrowing over the next five years to plow into capital projects.


Already the Conservatives have penciled in £22 billion of that for revamping schools, building new flood defenses and greening the economy. They have earmarked £500 million a year to fix potholes. Mr. Johnson’s plans include spending on transport, high-speed broadband and house building, as well as extra cash for voters’ cherished National Health Service.


Voters are also being promised some personal tax cuts, paid for largely through scrapping a planned reduction in corporation tax.


Under Conservative plans, state spending as a share of gross domestic product would rise modestly, to 41% by 2024, from just under 40%, according to the Resolution Foundation.


Read the full article from The Wall Street Journal +

UK Election

EU leaders ‘ready’ for next stage of Brexit


European Union leaders said on Friday they were ready for the next phase of Brexit, just hours after the resounding victory of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party that all but sealed the UK’s divorce from the bloc.


The Europeans had widely expressed hope for a convincing victory in the British vote, to achieve clarity in a crisis that has hounded Brussels since the British referendum to leave the EU in June 2016.


The former Belgian prime minister hoped for “an early ratification by the British parliament” of the exit agreement negotiated between London and the EU, “so that we can start the negotiations on the next phase calmly, quietly but with great determination”.


EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations. Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talk extension. If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with the UK in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.


Read the full article from Al Jazeera +

UK Election

How UK election results bring Scottish independence and Irish unity to the fore


Boris Johnson may have clinched the Tory majority he wished for, but results in Scotland and Northern Ireland bring the future of the Union back into focus.


The SNP made a series of gains in Scotland, with leader Nicola Sturgeon declaring that she has a “renewed, refreshed and strengthened” mandate for a second vote on Scottish independence.


And in Northern Ireland, the DUP – the party determined to keep Northern Ireland within the Union – had a disastrous result. The DUP lost two of the 10 MPs it entered the election with and, symbolically, there are now more nationalists and republican members of Parliament from Northern Ireland than unionists.


The success of the SNP in Scotland, and nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland, is likely to put the issue of Scottish independence and Irish unity near the top of the agenda.


Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon will write to the Prime Minister before Christmas to formally demand Holyrood be given the power to hold a second vote on independence.


The Northern Ireland Secretary can call a border poll if he or she deems it likely that a majority in the region would vote to leave the UK and form a united Ireland. The Republic of Ireland would then vote depending on the result of that referendum.


Read the full article from +

THEME SUSPENSION: Short Brokers & Asset Managers

MRP is suspending its Short Brokers & Short Asset Managers themes.


We initiated both themes on October 3, 2019. Our rationale at the time was that the era of zero-commission trading would hurt brokers’ earnings while zero-fee ETFs would harm asset managers’ bottom line. Upon further consideration we realize that these institutions have become less reliant on trading commissions and fund fees than ever.


Brokers for instance are looking to generate more of their income from interest earned on client cash holding. Paradoxically, eliminating trading commissions has helped companies like Schwab draw in new customers at a faster clip and grow firmwide assets to record levels.


As for asset managers, they are doing just fine in this booming bull market where rising AUM trumps fee pressures. Not only are ETF assets on track to rise 23% over the next year, Bank of America predicts ETF assets will surge tenfold during the next decade to reach $50 trillion by 2030. That’s from $5.3 trillion in 2020.


These data points help account for why the ETFs representing brokers (IAI) and asset managers (KCE) have posted respective returns of +13.5% and +15.2% since theme initiation on October 3, 2019. In comparison, the SPY has risen 9.3%.


Select a theme to see when and why we added it. Also included is a link to all recent Market Insight reports we’ve written about that theme, allowing you to track its progress.






Robotics & Automation






Electric Utilities




U.K. Equities


Vietnam Equities



Week Ahead


All eyes are on the US final Q3 GDP growth in the coming week, alongside personal income and outlays, PCE price index, industrial production and flash Markit PMIs. Elsewhere, the PBoC, BoE and BoJ will provide an update on interest rates, while flash PMI surveys for the UK, Eurozone, Japan and Australia will also be keenly watched.


Other key data include: UK final Q3 GDP, consumer confidence, unemployment, inflation and retail trade; the Eurozone consumer morale; China’s industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment; Japan trade balance and inflation; and Australia employment figures.


Click here to access the data +


China Industrial Output Growth Hits 5-Month High


China’s industrial production increased by 6.2 percent year-on-year in November of 2019, accelerating from a 4.7 percent rise in the previous month and beating market consensus of 5 percent. This was the steepest yearly growth in industrial output since June, boosted by faster rises in production of manufacturing (6.3% vs 4.6% in October), mining (5.7% vs 3.9%) and utilities (6.7% vs 6.6%). Considering the first eleven months of the year, industrial production went up 5.6 percent from the same period a year earlier.


Click here to access the data +


Japan Manufacturing Shrinks for 8th Month


The Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing PMI edged down to 48.8 in December 2019, the eight straight month of decline, from 48.9 in the prior month and compared to market consensus of 48.4, a flash figure showed. Output, new orders and new export orders all declined, amid unfavorable demand conditions. Meanwhile, employment growth slowed, with spare capacity was evidenced by falling backlogs. On the price front, output prices continued to fall, while input price inflation rose. Finally, sentiment strengthened.


Click here to access the data +


Russia Cuts Rates, Signals Further Easing in 2020


The Central Bank of Russia cut its benchmark one-week repo rate by 25 bps to 6.25 percent during its December meeting and signaled more rate cuts were likely in the first half of 2020, saying households’ inflation expectations continue to decrease, while price expectations of businesses remain overall unchanged. Policymakers see annual inflation at 3.5–4.0 percent in 2020 and close to 4 percent further on.


Click here to access the data +


Irish Economy Returns to Growth in Q3


Ireland’s GDP expanded 1.7 percent on quarter in the three months to September 2019, up from a revised 0.1 percent contraction in the previous period. Positive contributions to growth came from household consumption and foreign trade. Year-on-year, GDP growth advanced to 5.0 percent in the third quarter from a downwardly revised 4.9 percent in the previous three-month period.


Click here to access the data +


Oil Prices Rise on Trade Deal, Upbeat China Data


Oil prices rose on Monday following news that the US and China prepare for a phase one trade agreement and after an upbeat China data. At around 10:31 PM EST, Brent crude oil futures increased 80 cents or 1.25 percent to US$65.00 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 65 cents or 1.1 percent to US$59.83 a barrel.


Click here to access the data +



Asset Managers

ETF assets to surge tenfold in 10 years to $50 trillion, Bank of America predicts


It may have been quite the decade for the U.S. exchange-traded fund market, but the next one could see its assets surge tenfold to $50 trillion, Bank of America predicted.


Money has flooded into ETFs during this record-long bull market, while active strategies have suffered. Since the inception of the first ETF — the S&P 500 SPDR — in 1993, the U.S. market has grown rapidly to a $4.3 trillion juggernaut. Equity passive funds alone, which include index funds, have ballooned to a more than $3 trillion market in less than 10 years, according to Morningstar.


Total ETF assets have been growing at a “fairly consistent” annual rate of 25% from $770 billion 10 years ago, Bank of America said, adding the market could hit $5.3 trillion by the end of 2020 at this rate. That rate will accelerate as the industry innovates even more and swallows up more assets in places like fixed income, the firm predicts.


Read the full article from CNBC +

Economics & Trade

Trade War

Trump Cancels December Tariffs as US, China Agree on a Deal


The U.S. and China have officially agreed to a phase one deal on trade, which will cancel scheduled December tariffs—though some other existing tariffs will stay put. While USTR did say the U.S. has agreed to modify its Section 301 tariffs “in a significant way,” details were more vague.


“The United States will be maintaining 25 percent tariffs on approximately $250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5 percent tariffs on approximately $120 billion of Chinese imports,” the USTR said.


For China’s part, seeing the tariffs sloughed off of its exports was the critical component in securing the deal.


Though the cancellation of the List 4B tariffs saves apparel companies from paying new 15 percent duties on things like suits, T-shirts, sweaters, some home textiles and handbags, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) says remaining tariffs will still damage the industry.


According to reports, the 25 percent tariffs will remain on the Tranche 3 target list, which hit sewing thread, yarns, textiles, handbags, travel goods and some apparel items. The halved duty rate is expected to impact the List 4A tariffs that took effect in September, bringing the tariff down from 15 percent to 7.5 percent.


Read the full article from Sourcing Journal +



Quantum computing will be the smartphone of the 2020s, says Bank of America strategist


When asked what invention will be as revolutionary in the 2020s as smartphones were in the 2010s, Bank of America strategist Haim Isreal said, without hesitation, “quantum computing”. It could be an “even more radical” technology in terms of its impact on businesses than the smartphone has been. “This is going to be a revolution,” he said.


In October, Google claimed to have achieved a breakthrough by using a quantum computer to complete a calculation in 200 seconds on a 53-qubit quantum computing chip, a task it calculated would take the fastest current super-computer 10,000 years. Earlier this month, Amazon announced its intention to develop quantum computing technologies that can be used in conjunction with its cloud computing services. IBM and Microsoft are also developing quantum computing technology.


Israel argued these tools will revolutionize several industries, including health care, the internet of things and cyber security. He said that pharmaceutical companies are most likely to be the first commercial users of these devices, given the explosion of data created by health care research.


For investors, Israel said, it is key to realize that the first one or two companies to develop commercially applicable quantum-computing will be richly rewarded with access to untold amounts of data and that will only make their software services more valuable to potential customers in a virtuous circle.


Read the full article from Market Watch +

Robotics & Automation

Automation and artificial intelligence could save banks more than $70 billion by 2025


By using technology to automate jobs or help employees at work, North American banks could save more than $70 billion by 2025, according to Accenture. Across the entire financial services industry, which includes banking, insurance, and capital markets, savings could be between $87 billion and $140 billion in the same time frame.


The study estimates that by 2025, 7% to 10% of tasks will be automated, boosting cost and productivity savings. More than half of tasks currently performed by loan officers, personal financial advisers, tellers, and customer service representatives could be either automated or augmented by technology by 2025, the study found.


A number of banks such as Citigroup, Capital One, and JPMorgan Chase are already using technology like artificial intelligence to aid workers, or have automated parts of tasks to eliminate jobs.


Read the full article from Business Insider +

There is much more to this report! McAlinden Research Partners offers Hedge Connection members weekly access to the Daily Intelligence Briefing research for free – click here to view. (You must be logged in first). Not a member? Join today. McAlinden Research Partners is offering a complimentary one-month subscription to receive the Daily Intelligence Briefing – to Hedge Connection clients/friends. Activate yours by contacting and mentioning “Sent by Hedge Connection”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *