Asset protection

Green Energy: A Bubble In Unrealistic Expectations

Sponsor content received from Integrated Wealth Management

This week’s EVA provides another sneak preview into David Hay’s book-in-process, “Bubble 3.0” discussing what he thinks is the crucial topic of “greenflation.”  This is a term he coined referring to the rising price for metals and minerals that are essential for solar and wind power, electric cars, and other renewable technologies.

It also centers on the reality that as global policymakers have turned against the fossil fuel industry, energy producers are for the first time in history not responding to dramatically higher prices by increasing production.  Consequently, there is a difficult tradeoff that arises as the world pushes harder to combat climate change, driving up energy costs to painful levels, especially for lower income individuals.

What we are currently seeing in Europe is a vivid example of this dilemma. While it may be the case that governments welcome higher oil and natural gas prices to discourage their use, energy consumers are likely to have a much different reaction…read more.

We’ve talked about the Commodity Super Cycle – a major theme in the coming years. Uranium is on our list of commodities that stand to benefit from this cycle, and this is why our managers began investing in the sector earlier this year. Its price has exploded recently due to short term developments, but the long term fundamentals for the nuclear story are strong. ~ Sandor Kiss, Integrated Wealth Management

One week ago and about a year after we turned bullish on the uranium sector, which has more than doubled despite Democrats’ unwillingness to include uranium in their ESG umbrella, we presented readers with a unique take from Harris Kupperman, who explained how the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust could serve as a springboard to substantial further gains not only in the price of uranium itself but also uranium-linked stocks and ETFs. Comparing its action to the positive feedback loop that emerged in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which served as the springboard allowing bitcoin to rise from $10,000 a year ago to over $60,000 earlier this year, Kupperman said that the Sprott Trust had the potential to “upend” the illiquid uranium market by creating an actual physical shortage that would then translate to much higher prices, to wit:

The Sprott Physical Uranium Trust commonly (known as SRUUF), is the entity that has upended the uranium market. Since launching its ATM 13 days ago, it has acquired 2.7 million pounds of uranium. This is an average daily rate in excess of 200,000 pounds or roughly a third of global production on an annual basis. If GBTC is the roadmap to follow, as the price of uranium begins to appreciate, the inflows into the trust should accelerate. Interestingly, there are plenty of other entities also purchasing physical uranium, uranium that utilities were counting on for their future needs. The squeeze is on…read more.

Facebook’s Reason for Banning Researchers Doesn’t Hold Up

WHEN FACEBOOK SAID Tuesday that it was suspending the accounts of a team of NYU researchers, it made it seem like the company’s hands were tied. The team had been crowdsourcing data on political ad targeting via a browser extension, something Facebook had repeatedly warned them was not allowed.

“For months, we’ve attempted to work with New York University to provide three of their researchers the precise access they’ve asked for in a privacy-protected way,” wrote Mike Clark, Facebook’s product management director, in a blog post. “We took these actions to stop unauthorized scraping and protect people’s privacy in line with our privacy program under the FTC Order.”

Clark was referring to the consent decree imposed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2019, along with a $5 billion fine for privacy violations. You can understand the company’s predicament. If researchers want one thing, but a powerful federal regulator requires something else, the regulator is going to win.

Except Facebook wasn’t in that predicament, because the consent decree doesn’t prohibit what the researchers have been doing. Perhaps the company acted not to stay in the government’s good graces but because it doesn’t want the public to learn one of its most closely guarded secrets: who gets shown which ads, and why…read more.

Technically Speaking: Bubbles Are Evident After They Pop

Bubbles are evident and only get acknowledged after they pop. Such is because, during the inflation phase of the market bubble, investors rationalize why “this time is different.”

We have seen many examples of this rationalization over the last couple of years. Such as stocks are cheap based on economic growth, low-interest rates justify high valuations or the “moral hazard” of the “Fed put.” Other examples come from the analysis of stock prices, such as this tweet recently.

While the analysis is correct, average stock prices do not solely define a bubble.

Such is where we need to start.

What Is A Bubble?
According to Investopedia:

“A bubble is a market cycle that is characterized by the rapid escalation of market value, particularly in the price of assets. Typically, what creates a bubble is a surge in asset prices driven by exuberant market behavior. During a bubble, assets typically trade at a price that greatly exceeds the asset’s intrinsic value. Rather, the price does not align with the fundamentals of the asset.“

This definition is suitable for our discussion; there are three components of a “bubble.” The first two, price and valuation, as noted above, are get dismissed or rationalized during the inflation phase. That rationalization is due to investor psychology and the “Fear Of Missing Out (F.O.M.O.)

Jeremy Grantham posted the following chart of 40-years of price bubbles in the markets. During the inflation phase, each got rationalized that “this time is different.”

Read more

Shrinkflation is an economic monster worth watching

Our friends over at Integrated Wealth Management thought you might enjoy this article. ~Ed. 

Ever wonder why you’re going through toilet paper faster (even if your diet hasn’t changed). For those of you alive in the 70’s – did you wonder why all of a sudden gumballs had a hole in the middle? It’s called “shrinkflation” – manufacturers offering less while charging the same price. It’s a “clever” way inflation is killing your purchasing power and probably not reflected in Consumer Price Indices (which we all know are manipulated). Inflation is perhaps the biggest threat to your financial health in the coming years. Make sure to inflation proof your portfolio. This a great article on this phenomenon. ~Sandor Kiss IWM

How will we know if inflation is making a comeback? Most economists are focused on the price of commodities, wages, and other basic goods and services. But history suggests they might want to keep an eye on a related phenomenon that often escapes notice: so-called “shrinkflation.”

This practice became increasingly common in the 1960s and 1970s, when manufacturers confronting runaway inflation tweaked packaging rather than hike prices. At first, the practice attracted relatively little notice: It’s difficult to discern changes in unit prices when they’re camouflaged in different-looking boxes and bags.

In fact, it was the humorist Art Buchwald who was among the first to sound the alarm. In a column entitled “Packaged Inflation” published in 1969, he lampooned the growing tendency to conceal price increases. Tongue in cheek, he praised American industry for “devising new methods to make the product smaller while making the package larger.”

This wasn’t far from the truth. As inflationary pressures rose over the course of the 1970s, manufacturers pursued a number of methods to pass along price increases. The most basic of these was so-called “downsizing” – same package, same price, fewer goods.

In late summer of 1974, for example, Woolworth’s offered a packet of pencils at its back-to-school sale for 99 cents – same price as the previous year. But as a sharp-eyed reporter at The New York Times observed, the packages only contained 24 pencils, six fewer than the previous year. The same strategy affected packets of construction paper (24 sheets, not 30).

The grocery store offered numerous opportunities for downsizers. At the beginning of the decade, that staple of postwar cuisine, Rice-A-Roni, sold boxes containing 8 ounces of the product. Soon, though, it shrank to 6.9 ounces, but the packaging and price remained the same. (Today, the rice-and-vermicelli-filled boxes remain precisely the same weight, which suggests that even shrinkflation has limits.)

This kind of sleight-of-hand became ubiquitous. Everything from cans of tuna fish to jars of spaghetti sauce contained less and less. Advocacy groups like the Consumers’ Union (now Consumer Reports) inveighed against downsizing, but the practice remained widespread…read more.