Where finance and media intersect with reality


Spot Markets Live Transcript: 19/10/22

Screenshot 2022-10-19 at 10.15.00
Comments addressing audience statements are in bold. Today’s session is with Dario Garcia Giner.

Izabella Kaminska 11:59

Greetings and welcome to the weekly Spot Markets Live session that’s usually on a Monday but happening on a Wednesday today because of my journeys to Portugal to attend the London Bullion Market Association annual conference.

So apologies for that.

Anjuli is off because it’s half term, but I’m joined today by The Blind Spot’s resident Ape on all things due diligence and Meme Stock, Dario Garcia Giner.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:00


How was the gold conference?

Izabella Kaminska 12:01

Actually very cool. Big industry event. Not that many Goldbugs at all. Very pragmatic views about the gold price.

Did you know that most of the world’s gold sits in vaults at Fort Knoxx and the Bank of England?

Dario Garcia Giner 12:01

No, but I can’t wait to fantasise about breaking in.

Izabella Kaminska12:01

They had to reinforce the floors. Because it’s that heavy.

Just one of the fun tidbits I learned.

Gold is one of those funny markets. You kind of forget about gold, since the trading patterns are often very boring, until something happens and then it’s the talk of the town.

For those who haven’t checked in on the gold and silver price lately here are some charts (via goldprice.org):

Conferences can take a lot of reading time out of your week, but the good ones are definitely worth going to to meet people and make contacts. But sometimes it’s not clear if the sessions are Chatham House or public.

Nobody told me my session was Chatham House (and there were Bloomberg and BBC reporters around so I’m going to assume it is free to report on).

The other keynote was Peter Zollner, head of the banking department of the BIS.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:02

What did he say?

Izabella Kaminska 12:02

He did a really great opening session, which echoed a lot of what Nouriel Roubini has been saying recently.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:03

@DS did he manage to slip one into his breast pocket? It’s what I’d try

Izabella Kaminska 12:03

Here’s one slide that got my attention.

Zollner was making the point that this is one of the most aggressive Fed rate hiking cycles in recent history.

And while the base for those hiking cycles starts at different places the point is that the action is fairly aggressive, and we need to see how the market copes with it.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:03

That’s an effective chart…

Izabella Kaminska 12:03

Concern is growing about a combined debt and stagflation crisis.

This is very much what Roubini has recently been saying too. Has anyone read his new book?

It’s called Megathreats. But he sent me a sneak summary from █████.

Actually, before that I will share what I just got from him on the Whatsapp Nouriel Roubini wire;

Dear friend/colleague, my new book “Megathreats: Ten Dangerous Trends That Imperil Our Future, And How To Survive Them” was published today October 18th in the US and UK. I feel it is my most deep and important book ever and it is already getting rave reviews and feedback. You can read it in hard copy or in Kindke format (and similar online versions) or in Audible format. You can find it in bookstores or order it online following this link https://www.littlebrown.com/titles/nouriel-roubini/megathreats/9780316284059/ . I will also host a couple of book parties in the next few weeks and I am happy to sign your copy if you bring it to the book party. I would also be very grateful if you like the book and then tell about it to your friends, colleagues and social media networks and contacts. Best publicity is viral word of mouth. The book is about the most serious risks and threats of our times and a thoughtful discussion of the themes of the book is most important – in my humble opinion – to save our global economy, planet and world at large from disaster and even major wars. So thank you in advance for reading it and spreading the word. And see you soon at the book launch events; I will let you know when. Thanks for your personal and/or professional and/or intellectual friendship! ???? Nouriel

Dario Garcia Giner 12:05

Book parties sound lit

Izabella Kaminska 12:06

But the analysis is very strong, and here’s the bit that I think needs circulation.

This is his ███████ ███████████████ piece

Basically, Nouriel is saying the Great Moderation is over, we’re in a new paradigm and it will be not just inflationary, it will be permanent inflation around 4-6%

So Team Transitory definitely did not win the argument in his mind.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:10

team transitory may be dead, long live team transitory.

Izabella Kaminska 12:10

But before we get into the macro, a quick health check on the markets.

FTSE 100 is down but sitting tidily at 6904 ish. The rest of Europe is also fairly tight.

Russian markets are down 3%.

The top UK gainer is International Consolidated Airlines – IAG (worst named company ever) followed by HSBC, BP, CRH.

IAG posted some upbeat results last week, so not sure what today’s move is on. HSBC meanwhile has been banned by the UK advertising regulator for its misleading advertising campaigns related to the work it is doing to tackle climate change.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:11

It’s about time these companies get a kick in the butt for misleading advertisements

Izabella Kaminska 12:12

Yeah, total greenwashing. Here’s the story.

BP has done a $4bn deal for an American biogas producer Archaea Energy..

The top losers are Lloyds, Ocado, Intermediate Capital Group, and Land.

On the 250 the top gainers are RHI Magnesita, Royal Mail, and Ascential Group.

But relatively interestingly… Moneysupermarket is the biggest loser, down 8.9% on news Amazon is getting into the insurance comparison market.

The darned Amazon effect. Is there any market they won’t disrupt?

Dario Garcia Giner 12:13

https://the-blindspot.com/online-grocery-consolidation-is-coming/ your point on Ocado is proving predictive

It seems like it @Frederic

Izabella Kaminska 12:13

I was in the midst of my panel at the LBMA when the Jeremy Hunt reversals hit the wire,… but I see that the pound is only medium responsive.


Crazy trading patterns overall.

Last I looked it was down 0.62% today.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:14

That would be on the latest inflation figs

UK inflation is back up at 10.1%. Here’s the blurb from the ONS:

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 10.1% in the 12 months to September 2022, up from 9.9% in August and returning to July’s recent high.

Izabella Kaminska 12:14

I can’t say I find this surprising. Here’s the increasingly eye-watering chart:

The pensions debacle continues because Jeremy Hunt is now under pressure to use the new higher rates to increase pensions and benefits from April.

And of course, the back peddling on the energy front is another inflationary factor.

I am really not a pensions expert so I’m going to leave talking about the government’s ditching of the triple lock state pension to Helmholtz, who I see is lurking in the comments.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:16

It’s not the only type of pressure Jeremy Hunt is under

Izabella Kaminska 12:16

Lol. Easy name to trip up on. ?

But before we move on, I have some good block quote from Handelsbanken’s Daniel Mahoney.

He’s done an interesting thing tying it all to global shipping costs, which are coming down (which should soon ease inflation he says):

As he notes the largest contributor is food:

UK CPI inflation nudges back into double digits

UK CPI inflation y-o-y has nudged back into double digits, registering at 10.1% in September (prev: 9.9%; con: 10%). The largest contributor to increasing annual inflation was food prices, which rose by 14.6% in the 12 months to September from 13.1% in August. A drop in the annual rate of motor fuel inflation to 26.5%, down from 32.1% in August, helped somewhat offset upward pressure on CPI – although motor fuel inflation in September 2022 remains higher than the same month in the previous year.

Core inflation has crept up, both goods and services

Y-o-y core inflation crept up, too, rising from 6.3% to 6.5% in September with both y-o-y goods and services inflation increasing. Annual goods inflation stands at 13.2%, up from 13% in August and services inflation jumped to 5.3% from 5.1%. Although goods inflation did not exceed the high of 13.6% in July 2022, both CPIH services and core CPIH inflation are now at the highest rate since March 1993 and March 1992, respectively. Note that in “more normal times”, it is often common for services inflation to be higher than goods inflation, but problems relating to blocked supply chains and high commodity prices flipped this trend during the pandemic.

And here’s the shipping connection:

Goods inflation to ease but energy announcement could mean higher CPI in 2023

Services inflation is likely to remain stubborn, but a number of factors will begin bearing down on goods inflation within the coming months, most notably a reduction in global supply chain disruption and the dramatic fall in shipping costs. Container shipping costs, for example, have fallen by roughly two thirds since late July, according to the Harper Peterson Index. The dramatic fall in shipping costs is reflective of both an improved picture on the supply side and reduced demand for goods from both Western and Asian markets owing to slowing economic growth. Indeed, a slowing global economy should also serve to reduce domestically-led inflationary pressures. Nonetheless, the outlook for headline inflation in 2023 has, however, changed dramatically following the new Chancellor’s announcement that the energy price cap will cease in April this year. In the absence of any additional support for consumers, this move could add nearly 5pp to the headline rate of inflation in April next year based on indications of current wholesale prices – although we do expect some mitigating measures to help consumers. 

Dario Garcia Giner 12:17

@comments – interesting to see whether we’ll see a general political backlash against banks this time around or whether this generation’s occupy wall street equivalent will go after other targets

Izabella Kaminska 12:18

Comments below on EU inflation catching up now.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:18

@John is there any significant difference between how inflation counts are tabulated maybe?

Izabella Kaminska 12:18

But the problem with the socialist republics of Europe is that a lot of the price pressure can be easily absorbed by the non-competitive nature of the market in many of those countries.

Switzerland’s supermarket duopoly is another example of that. They’ve got a lot of margin to give up before they need to start passing on higher input costs.

@Bruce – interesting point about repossessions. Exactly right. Though Peter was very non-sympathetic about any government interventions here. His view is definitely of the “they knew what they were taking out and understood the risks” mentality.

But I actually think this is not right. The entire zero-rate era was designed to encourage people back into the housing market. It was literally a Columbo-style entrapment. What else were people supposed to do? So, I am not sympathetic to this idea at all. People were once again lured into taking unaffordable mortgages by both policy and design.

Btw have you heard about this concept of the mortgage prisoner?


Really interesting story. There are about 200,000 people in the UK with legacy mortgage deals from the bad old days.

Some borrowers became “closed book” customers. That meant they were stuck with a lender that either went defunct during the 2008 crash, no longer sold mortgages or their loan had been sold to a non-lender. These companies don’t let customers switch or take out more suitable mortgage deals, leaving them trapped. Homeowners on these home loans are likely to be paying even more than a typical SVR.

A large amount of borrowers also ended up stuck on interest-only mortgages, which as the name suggests, mean that they only repay the interest they owe each month rather than any of the capital – which must be repaid at the end of the mortgage term. Previously, these borrowers did not have to show clear evidence of how they were going to repay the loan. But tighter lending rules mean this evidence is now required in order to remortgage.

There’s even a lobby group for them.

These guys have already been paying an average of 4-5% in the zirp era, and are facing rates of 9% very soon.

I feel this is crazy

Dario Garcia Giner 12:24

That is crazy!

Izabella Kaminska 12:24

@Bruce – that is interesting.

@John – we may all become mortgage prisoners soon.

Though I still favour the idea that it will be a big govt intervention focused on offering to buy your house back and then lease it back to you on more favourable terms.

@Tommaso – I think so. Which brings us neatly to the other big macro story doing the rounds.

This interview Russell Napier has done with The Market, NZZ has gone a bit viral. And understandably so. It’s very good.

For those who don’t know Russell, he has a great record for calling the last deflation right. But he also predicted the current inflation too. His commentary is always fresh and insightful.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:28

@JohnDC77 Start preparing your gas mask then

Izabella Kaminska 12:28

(I just remembered that Peter Zollner blamed a lot of the wrongness from the central banks on the unexpected arrival of the Ukraine war. But I pushed back on that during our panel because it was obvious to me in 2021 that we were facing energy stresses due to major underinvestment on the back of net zero. And it was obvious this opened up an opportunity for Putin to take advantage of.)

But Russell and I are aligned on the idea that we are moving into a period of major financial repression.

And the other excellent point he makes is that the gilt wobble is kind of irrelevant. Governments will move not just to uncosted financing — because inflation will help ease their debt loads — but create more legislation that captures the domestic market in terms of gilt purchasing.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:30

@John the best protests have moved online into the meme world. IRL protests are typically filled with either dweebs, bullies, drunks, or undercover feds

Izabella Kaminska 12:30

To an extent, they have already done this. So the pensions wobble will soon be offset by the fact that the domestic players will have to reallocate back into gilts anyway.

So you’re just changing the flavour of the financing from foreign to domestic investors.

Here’s a good chunk from the Napier piece:

Again, history shows us the pattern: The UK had five big banks after World War II, and at the beginning of each year the government would tell them by what percentage rate their balance sheet should grow that year. By doing this, you can set the growth rate of broad money and nominal GDP. And if you know that your economy is capable of, say, 2% real growth, you know the rest would be filled by inflation. As a third prerequisite you need a domestic investor base that is captured by the regulatory framework and has to buy your government bonds, regardless of their yield. This way, you prevent bond yields from rising above the rate of inflation. All this is in place today, as many insurance companies and pension funds have no choice but to buy government bonds.

You make it sound easy: The government just has to engineer a level of nominal growth and of inflation that is consistently somewhat higher than interest rates in order to shrink the debt to GDP ratio.

Again, this is how it was done after World War II. The crucial thing is that we are moving from a mechanism where bank credit is controlled by interest rates to a quantitative mechanism that is politicised. This is the politicisation of credit.

It’s a Q&A format

@Bruce – on financial repression and assets, I think it’s whatever the government decides to favour. Russell is very clear on the fact that a lot of people are gonna like this new environment.

FWIW the gold market guys were very pragmatic about the price potential for precious. They don’t at all see it as a good inflation hedge. Any sustained rally is often curbed because of how deep and liquid the market is, so people sell gold gains first.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:34

Rly worth reading that Napier piece, FYI

Izabella Kaminska 12:35

@helmholtz – regarding bitcoin, I do wonder. There was an interesting aside about how gold is no longer depolitciised because it too has been subject to freezing and confiscation. Like the dollar. So there is room for a new depolitcised and neutral asset in my opinion.

I had not appreciated this affair with Venezuela

This happened in July 2022:

LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) – London’s High Court has rejected President Nicolas Maduro’s latest efforts to gain control of more than $1 billion of Venezuela’s gold reserves stored in the Bank of England’s underground vaults in London.

The court ruled on Friday that previous decisions by the Maduro-backed Venezuelan Supreme Court, aimed at reducing opposition leader Juan Guaido’s say over the gold, should be disregarded.

It marked the latest victory for Guaido, who has won a series of legal clashes over the bullion after the British government recognised him rather than Maduro as the South American country’s president.

So on that basis, the last remaining censorship-resistant medium of exchange may be bitcoin.

You will have heard of Kanye’s recent troubles with JP Morgan perhaps?

He was spotted recently wearing a bitcoin hat.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:37

@Bruce there’s a lot going on in Georgia with bitcoin miners, you’d be surprised to hear particularly the breakaway regions of Abkhazia

They’re causing a lot of issues for the local power supply. Abkhazia, mind you, is also a huge drug import/export hub – the modern silk road essentially

Rumours swirl that Russian military transports are used for this purpose

Indeed! They act as useful go-betweens for Putin’s grey empire

Izabella Kaminska 12:39

We should have a crypto-specific session one day. As there’s a lot more to this debate.

@john – I guess that is why Mr. SN is pseudonymous. 🙂

Though, funnily enough, Martin Walker – nocoiner extraordinaire – contacted me yesterday about the potential of a “freedom coin” in Iran.

So he may yet see my point about why having bitcoin around is useful if you are facing oppressive regimes. Though he would prefer for the US to sponsor its own specific “freedom coin” dollar derivative.

(For use only by those resisting oppression by the enemies of the United States).

@Kingston will check it out.

But let’s quickly check in on the actual basket case of Europe, which is obviously France these days 🙂

Dario Garcia Giner 12:42

What a shocker

Izabella Kaminska 12:42

Those following the energy story will know we are now at the mercy of the weather. And the good news is the reports are coming in milder than they were before.

Natgas is tanking in response.

But France has not got the memo and is still in the midst of chaos, and it is looking increasingly likely the fuel strikes it’s been experiencing the past couple of weeks will be extended.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is facing the biggest challenge of his second term as long-running oil depot and refinery blockades create fuel shortages, transport workers join the strike for higher wages and the government prepares to force its budget through parliament without a vote, unable to find a compromise with the opposition.

The leftwing CGT union on Tuesday voted to extend stoppages at several oil refineries and depots operated by the French energy giant TotalEnergies, as they demanded an immediate 10% pay rise to counter the cost of living crisis and a share of companies’ profits amid the surge in energy prices heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:45

I wonder what’s really going on with the protests, are they real protests or provocateurs? I’ve seen some footage lately and it seems genuinely thuggish – not ordinaries. This topic may seem conspiratorial to some, but it’s a real national security issue to have people on the streets with real grievances, and including some brutish thugs to delegitimize the underlying cause typically makes sense.

Izabella Kaminska 12:45

These guys look nice enough.

Look, the French love a good protest even in the good years.

But I suspect when the fuel shortages start impacting hospitals and people’s ability to save lives, the public mood will change.

Maybe, I’m just hopeful as I’m going to France for half term…. ?

Dario Garcia Giner 12:47

are you gonna be staying in an Airbnb?

Izabella Kaminska 12:48

Ha! No. I’m on a small tour and then ending up in my bolthole. But I hear the young people on the internet are taking a closer look at Airbnb.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:48

Yeah, and as you can imagine, it’s not a nice take

I’ve seen this one tweet thread posted EVERYWHERE

Izabella Kaminska 12:49

Is this being reposted by lots of different people a la a new troll campaign? Or do you think it’s something more organic?

Dario Garcia Giner 12:49

I’m gonna be honest, it could be a booking.com campaign or some other competitor – but reading the comments and my own research suggests the schadenfreude is very much real.

Izabella Kaminska 12:50

These internet campaigns are very interesting. Matt Levine in yesterday’s Money Stuff noted how the speculation about Credit Suisse started in a similar way, and then went viral. He dubbed it a “reverse meme stock” effect.

It’s on the basis that usually meme stock pumps are focused on protecting corps young people have a nostalgic attachment to. Whereas now we are seeing them trying to take down the baddies.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:51

An interesting point

They’re loading their guns at bnb in a very happy way. Apparently, guests are sick and tired of the list of chores they’re expected to do before check out.

Being asked to do the sheets, wash the dishes, and even mow the lawn

Izabella Kaminska 12:52

How millennial 😉

Dario Garcia Giner 12:52

All this while being expected to pay a cleaning fee.

And not being informed of the cleaning fee until everything’s booked!

Redditors also claim that Airbnb hosts can often be paranoid and plug cameras all around the property. I checked the Airbnb subreddit and found some indications of this;

Izabella Kaminska 12:52
Surveillance hotelling. Yikes.
Here’s the stock price which is doing kinda meh but fine.


Dario Garcia Giner 12:52

“Numerous serious violations of house rules (e.g., excessive guests running across the street at 3 AM, small scale parties, smoking inside the unit – can be seen as person exits the front door with smoke coming out; pets; probable prostitution); and some other things I won’t mention here. We’ve had only one complaint from a guest who I assume was engaging in prostitution based on the frequently and longevity of her unregistered guest visits.”

I understand this host is probably concerned for the safety of her property. Dunno how I feel about some non-professional watching me over a CCTV miles away.

Regardless of concerns, I found issues with hosts on the subreddit – stating that bookings from November onwards are completely dry.

Last but not least

Wily Redditors have also found interesting data on Airbnb insiders

They seem to have only sold, and not purchased, shares over the last 12 months – to the tune of almost HALF A BILLION USD.

Izabella Kaminska 12:53

I hate to say I told you so, but …

Also here from 2016.

Airbnb was always a scaling story; to quote myself:

With the likes of Uber and AirBnb the scaling challenges are less obvious, yet they are still there. This is because unlike conventional corporate structures, where success is underpinned by economies of scale, such platforms often choose to outsource services to contractors, amateurs and individuals — all of whom are arguably much less equipped to do the job in hand than professionals

Unlike a hotel, which can draw on many efficiencies — from having one set of cleaners and a single laundry to clean hundreds of rooms to a single concierge to deal with all key handovers and a single insurance contract, AirBnb hosts must double up on all these expenses. And whilst professional rental companies or boutique hotels can make these unscaled offers work on a competitive basis, it’s almost never on a low-cost, high-quality or amateur basis. What’s more, even those amateurs who decide to hire in managing agents to draw on their efficiencies find themselves losing out to hospitality hubs, which don’t have to deal with the added cost of getting cleaners and key-management services to multiple unconnected locations across town. It might take a few years, but eventually the contractors, amateurs and individuals which the sharing economy depends on to absorb its operating costs will realise that it’s only by coming together within a corporate structure that they can create the sort of economies of scale which can generate long-term profitability for themselves.

While rates were zero and we could all pretend inefficiencies were actually efficient, that worked. But in a higher interest rate environment, all of this starts to matter.

And yet…

The stock price is still holding its own. There hasn’t been any clear impact on the bottom line yet.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:55

@Frederic – AFAIK most of these paranoid funks are based in the US, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we began to see these types of horror stories in the EU. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some scale of a coverup by BNB precisely for the reason you list. https://www.intheknow.com/post/couple-says-airbnb-told-them-to-check-out/

Izabella Kaminska 12:55

Bernstein recently said it was a buy as it could soon become the biggest western travel company.  Q3 results are due on Tuesday November 1. We will check in on the company again then.

Worth noting in August the company reported record-breaking bookings and its most profitable Q2 to date, alongside a $2bn stock buyback program.

Though obviously, the first proper post-lockdown holiday period was always likely to boost Airbnb. It will be interesting to see how the market responds to hosts having to adapt their rates around inflation and other shortages.

Dario Garcia Giner 12:57

The online crowd seems chuffed with booking.com – but again, to what extent is that just part of a viral marketing piggybacks on Airbnb’s woes? rabble?

Izabella Kaminska 12:57

We’re nearly coming to time, but while we have Dario … it’s worth getting the latest on what the Reddit space is up to more broadly.

So what else are the Redditors obsessing about?

Dario Garcia Giner 12:58

Well, a single tweet has set the crowd on fire

Ryan Cohen, the meme stock darling, posing with legendary activist investor Carl Icahn and ignited a speculative M&A frenzy.

If y’all wanna check the hopium being dished out currently, check this post out

In short:

“Ryans motive was and still is to spin-off Baby. The post yesterday was to indirectly say that they have found an agreement.

  1. Carl Ichan to buy Bed Bath and Beyond
  2. Gamestop to buy BABY off Bed Bath and Beyond after Carl Ichan takes control”

So on the one hand, it’s true that Ryan wanted to buy BABY (BBBY’s subsidiary for baby products) as he quoted in the letter to the BBBY board in March 2022.

But – I haven’t seen any concrete proof other than Reddit hopium that Ryan still plans to carry out this after he cleared out his stocks on August 16/17 2022

I don’t think it’s 100% bullshit, though as Icahn owns West Point Home, a company that sells home fashion textiles including towels, fashion bedding, sheets, comforters, blankets, mattress pads, etc.

Which DOES sound BBBY merge-friendly, so I’d say the hopium is based on some rational crumbs at the very least.

Redditors are utterly convinced there is a deeper play going on here. I’m torn on whether these guys are onto something, considering we know that hedge fund players intermingle here and leak info through private discords, or whether it’s just conspirisising.

Now, Redditors are saying that Ryan sold his shares because his secret partnership with Icahn meant the latter could continue buying BBBY debt at discounted value.

Izabella Kaminska 13:01

To be honest, this all goes over my head, so I’m glad you’re reading Reddit so I don’t have to 🙂

Dario Garcia Giner 13:01

Well on that point, we’ve all noticed how absolutely weird the meme stonk world is.

Up is down and down is up.

And you’ll find it humourous to know that Jake Freeman, the 20-year-old who made $110 million on BBBY is now LOSING on his next investment.

Its a pharma startup called MindMed that even attracted high-tier investors like Kevin O’Leary.

I find it interesting that this math obsessive is failing on a very high-brow rational, risky play, but succeeded off the back of some extraordinarily lucky timing on a regarded play

Izabella Kaminska 13:03

Well on that note…

We’re gotta wrap. I will be back on Monday. The guest host is still to be determined.

Dario Garcia Giner 13:03


Izabella Kaminska 13:03

Take care y’all.

Great comments from everyone today too. See you all shortly.

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