Episodes
Published 08/11/22
Markets have staged an impressive bounce since the middle of June. Stocks are way up. Credit spreads have come in. Mortgage rates have tightened again. And long rates have mellowed out. So is the coast all clear? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Pimco Group Chief Investment Officer Dan Ivascyn about why this is an environment characterized by a high level of uncertainty. It's not that he's pessimistic or bearish, per se, but rather that there are risks all over the place as the...
Published 08/11/22
The multi-trillion dollar question for the US economy is “Can inflation drop to the Federal Reserve’s target without a substantial jump in the unemployment rate?” Everything is riding on this, as it informs the trajectory for the Fed and for growth in the near future. On this episode of the podcast, we pose that question to Jan Hatzius, Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs. We discuss what it will take to bring the unemployment rate down, why it's going to be difficult to avoid a hard landing and...
Published 08/08/22
Labor markets are considered to be "tight" right now, but wage growth continues to lag inflation. For decades, in fact, we've seen a steady decline in worker bargaining power, or labor's share of total income. So what would it take to turn this around? How can workers regain leverage? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Anna Stansbury, an MIT economist who focuses on labor and macroeconomics. She discusses her research, the decline of labor's share and the role that unionization and...
Published 08/04/22
When people think about the market mania we recently experienced, the most glaring thing that comes to mind is the meme stocks. In early 2021, the huge moves in names like AMC and GameStop exemplified this new Robinhood, r/WSB, crypto world. But there were activities much more egregious than some retail traders buying odd lots on Robinhood. Serious, professional investors and traders lost huge sums of money giving out unsecured loans to crypto hedge funds like 3AC, which then proceeded to...
Published 08/01/22
With energy prices booming, heatwaves ravaging Europe, and Russia going to war against Ukraine, there's an increased focus on the so-called energy transition. Interest in decarbonization is surging. But there's still a lot of ambiguity about what that might look like. As we've learned lately, with booming demand for coal, and many premature obituaries having been written for oil, energy sources don't just disappear easily like how Palm Pilots died after the introduction of the iPhone. In...
Published 07/28/22
In theory, a big shift towards renewable sources of energy (like wind and solar and electric vehicles) mean less money and power for Russia, and the OPEC nations. But new forms of energy also require resource extraction. And we've already seen growing tension in places that have abundant copper and lithium deposits. So what are the new politics of extraction? On this episode of the podcast we speak with microbiologist Cristina Dorador who, among other things, has been a contributor to a...
Published 07/27/22
The Federal Reserve recently began shrinking its massive balance sheet, unwinding trillions of dollars worth of bond purchases that it started making during the depths effort to offset the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It's not the first time that the Fed has undertaken 'quantitative tightening,' as the process is called. But this time around is different. The central bank is withdrawing stimulus at an unprecedented speed. The big question for markets now is what the impact of this...
Published 07/25/22
For years, venture capital firms have been pouring money into start-ups, trying to get a piece of the next Amazon or Apple. Valuations for new tech companies soared, and many of them took to crypto to explore new forms of raising money. That included issuing tokens to venture capital funds who sometimes then flipped them to retail investors. Now, Silicon Valley seems to be crashing back down to Earth. And an industry that's all about sourcing more and more money at higher valuations, is...
Published 07/21/22
Every time a crisis hits, you get a new round of people warning about the end of US dollar dominance. The Covid crisis and its aftermath is no exception. It may be that the world will change over the long run in some way that does help to dislodge the greenback. But in the meantime, concerns about a looming recession mean that the dollar is booming against other currencies. It's at a 20-year high against the euro, and it's soared against the yen as well. So why has the dollar been rising? And...
Published 07/18/22
This week, Twitter sued Elon Musk, attempting to force him to make good on his 44 billion buyout offer for the company. This story has already been surreal in many ways, and now we might get an actual trial out of it in a Delaware court. So what should we expect, in terms of the process and the law? On this episode we speak with Bloomberg Opinion columnist Matt Levine, who has been chronicling the whole saga in his newsletter Money Stuff. He walks us through the general legal arguments, and...
Published 07/15/22
If you've ever interacted with hardcore Bitcoin maximalists you might find some of them, at least, to be... abrasive. And it's not just no-coiners who are the target of their scorn. The real enemies are ex-maxis, who are viewed as apostates. Nic Carter, a co-founder and GP at the VC firm Castle Island Ventures, has been a longtime Bitcoiner. He has been in the sapce for a long time. He is a prolific writer. He has extolled the monetary case for Bitcoin. And he's defended the environmental...
Published 07/14/22
The market for US Treasuries is arguably one of the most important and liquid markets in the world. But it's been experiencing a number of hiccups in recent years, such as the sudden selloff of March 2020. And in more recent weeks, yields on US government debt have also spiked as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Some of that makes sense as the central bank makes big changes to its forecast for inflation and markets adjust to the new path. But the degree of the moves has also led...
Published 07/11/22
The first real explosive Internet IPO was a company called TheGlobe.com. It was kind of a proto-social networking/message board site, and on the day it went public in 1998, its shares soared 606%. Its co-founders were briefly worth around $100 million each. They become overnight celebrities, known for their extravagant lifestyles and even their fashion choices. Of course, it all came to an end when the tech bubble collapsed. So what is the experience of a bubble collapsing and watching all of...
Published 07/07/22
Inflation was running hot even before Russia invaded Ukraine, but disruption in Europe's bread basket certainly hasn't helped matters and there are now plenty of warnings that a global food shortage could be looming. Even if the normal cycle of sowing crops and harvesting them can keep going uninterrupted in Ukraine, wheat exports would still need to get out of the country. With Russia currently blockading the Black Sea, this seems like a major challenge. In this episode of Odd Lots, former...
Published 07/04/22
'Markets can stay irrational for longer than you can stay solvent' is a classic maxim for investors, but it holds true for journalists too. In this episode, we speak with the Financial Times's Dan McCrum and Paul Murphy (Tracy's old boss) about their multi-year effort to expose fraud at Wirecard, a German payments giant that went spectacularly belly-up after billions of dollars were found to have gone missing. Dan, who's just written a book about his experience called "Money Men," explains...
Published 07/01/22
The situation in energy right now seems bleak. But while everyone is focused on the high price of gasoline, or the frailty of the electrical grid, advances are still being made to decarbonize, and make our energy system more robust. It's jut not getting as much attention right now. But what can the public sector do to accelerate this process? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Jigar Shah, the Director of the Loan Programs Office at the DOE, about the frailties of the existing...
Published 06/30/22
There are a lot of challenges facing emerging markets right now. For a start, the dollar has been pretty strong, heaping pressure on governments that have borrowed in a foreign currency. Meanwhile, energy and food prices are soaring. These are two things that emerging markets often have to import, or subsidize for their citizens. Put it altogether and you have a toxic mix facing developing nations, and we've already seen acute problems emerge in Sri Lanka and Lebanon. On this episode, we...
Published 06/27/22
There's a fairly linear relationship between what's going on in the stock market and what's going on in the world of venture capital and private tech investing. When tech stocks plunge and the IPO window closes, then that hits valuations -- everything from late stage companies to those earlier in their trajectory. But there's more than just a declining stock market that's bedeviling the VC world right now. Numerous excesses from the boom of the last decade, including an influx of new money...
Published 06/23/22
The price of oil is the central threat to the economy right now. Surging gasoline costs crimp consumer budgets. Surging diesel costs make everything more expensive. And of course, we know there are all kinds of structural impediments to increasing supply. But the stakes are huge, particularly since the Federal Reserve has signaled its willingness to throw the economy into a recession, if that's what it takes to get inflation down. So is there anything that can be done? On this episode of the...
Published 06/22/22
Oil prices are sky high. And there's plenty of oil in the ground in North America. And so far the supply response has been disappointing. Frustration is boiling over among drivers and politicians, and it's made life more complicated for the complicated. So what's the hold up? On this episode, we speak to longtime energy investor and industry participant Peter Tertzakian about the reality on the ground. He explains that there are numerous operational factors constraining oil supply, including...
Published 06/20/22
Legendary short seller Jim Chanos says that despite the plunge in stocks, there are numerous swathes of the equity market with plenty of downside risk. On this episode, the Chanos & Co. fund manager, argues that the market overall has simply not internalized what sustained higher rates will mean to business models and valuations across a variety of sectors, including real estate, utilities and consumer packaged goods. He walks through the various excesses that we've seen over the last...
Published 06/16/22
Housing in the US is a constant source of frustration. On the way up, prospective homebuyers worry that they're missing out on their chance to jump on the housing ladder. On the way down, homeowners worry about losing their equity and their nest egg. So is there a better way? Is there a way to make housing more equitable, and to separate the investment component from the shelter component? On this episode we speak with Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist at Redfin, about a land value tax...
Published 06/13/22
Most people think of Foxconn as the company that assembles iPhones. But it's a lot more than that. In fact the company really got started by manufacturing all of the tiny components and connectors for the PC industry around the world, long before the iPhone ever existed. Now it wants to go back to its roots, but instead of making parts for PCs, it wants to make all the key components for electric vehicles. The potential is massive, and if they get it right, it could be wildly profitable. On...
Published 06/09/22
There are numerous macro factors driving elevated inflation. But in some categories, there also seems to be a lot of bad luck. When it comes to the US wheat market, the weather has been awful. After a long drought, farmers have been faced with an extraordinary amount of rain. As such, the spring planting season has been one of the worst on record. Of course, this comes amid overall bad conditions, with prices already elevated, owing in part to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So to understand...
Published 06/06/22