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Goldman Sachs compares Bitcoin to gold

Goldman Sachs believes Bitcoin could challenge gold’s share of the ‘store of value’ market…
The post Goldman Sachs compares Bitcoin to gold first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Goldman Sachs believes Bitcoin could challenge gold’s share of the ‘store of value’ market in future. And that if it does so it could rise to a value of $100,000 within the next half-decade. However, the American investment banking giant also warned that the amount of energy consumed by the blockchain technology that underpins the leading cryptocurrency could put institutional investors off and hurt progress into mainstream financial markets.

Analysts at the Wall Street bank say that Bitcoin currently holds a 20% share of the ‘store of value market’. The total amount of Bitcoin currently in circulation is worth around $700 billion at today’s prices of around $46,500. That compares to a value of around $2.6 billion worth of gold.

bitcoin usd chartSource: Coinmarketcap.com

The analysts speculated that if Bitcoin’s share of the store of value market were to rise to 50% over the next five years, its dollar exchange rate would top $100,000. That would represent compound annualised returns of between 17% and 18%. The value of Bitcoin has risen by around 60% in the past 12 months.

As a store of value, Bitcoin’s attraction is that the number of cryptocurrency units that can ever exist is 21 million – 90% of which have already been released. Unlike fiat currencies, which can be printed by central banks, or gold, which can be mined, the total number of Bitcoin is both finite and fixed.

It took three years for one Bitcoin to reach parity with the US dollar after the cryptocurrency’s launch in 2009. The value of a Bitcoin spiked to $20,000 in late 2017 before dropping back to below $10,000 again. But gains since the summer of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the trend towards a more digital economy have been both spectacular and volatile.

The Bitcoin price moved beyond $60,000 in early 2021 before dropping to around half that in late spring and then climbing again to hit a record high of almost $69,000 in November. It has since again fallen back to current levels of $46,500.  That’s still more than 50 times what a single Bitcoin was worth five years ago.

Governments and regulators are still largely wary of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but have taken different stances. In September El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender while China declared all cryptocurrency-related activity illegal. The Bank of England and Federal Reserve see potential in digitalising currencies but also regard cryptocurrencies as a potential threat to financial stability.

Some institutional investors have started to dabble in Bitcoin. Last month Fidelity launched a cryptos ETF.

The post Goldman Sachs compares Bitcoin to gold first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Commodities

Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

Record-high prices at the pump, a looming diesel…

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Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

Record-high prices at the pump, a looming diesel shortage right when the summer season is starting, and an uncooperative OPEC are probably reasons for many headaches among government officials around the world.

Yet these are, in fact, manifestations of deeper problems in the energy industry.

Underinvestment 

In the past decade or so, Europe and, to a lesser but no less significant extent, North America, have made it their mission to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and increase their reliance on renewable energy.

This has spurred an investor exodus from oil and gas and the emergence of the so-called ESG investing trend. Money for new oil and gas developments has become more difficult to tap as banks join the ESG movement, and companies have had to cut back on spending.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister warned that underinvestment in oil and gas would have a boomerang effect on consumers earlier this year, and he is not the only one. Many OPEC officials have made the same warning but, apparently, to no avail. After all, none other than the International Energy Agency said last year the world does not need new oil and gas exploration because we won't be needing any more new oil or gas supply.

Of course, it was only a few months later that the IEA changed its tune, calling on OPEC to boost production, and it demonstrated one of the harsh realities of the energy industry: you cannot reverse a process that has been going on for years in a matter of months.

Low discovery rates

A topic that doesn't get much talked about, the average rate of new oil and gas discoveries is, in a way, comparable to the average conversion rate of solar panels: it is well below 30 percent.

Bloomberg recently reported that three wells that Shell had drilled offshore Brazil had come up dry. The supermajor had paid $1 billion for drilling rights in the area and had spent three years drilling to come up empty-handed. Exxon had also failed to tap any significant oil reserves in its Brazilian blocks, which cost it $1.6 billion.

The news highlights the risky nature of oil and gas exploration even in places like Brazil, which has been touted as the next hot spot in the industry, probably alongside Guyana. Brazil has become a magnet for supermajors because of its prolific presalt zone, but, as one local energy consultant told Bloomberg, the big discoveries have already been made—back when the discovery rate was close to 100 percent.

The average successful discovery rate for the oil and gas industry is much lower than that, however, at 24.8 percent, according to Bloomberg. And there are fewer and fewer big discoveries to be made.

Production cost inflation

Broader inflation trends, in large part driven by soaring energy costs, have not passed the energy industry itself. In the U.S. shale patch, production costs have risen by some 20 percent. Two companies recently warned they would be reporting higher costs for their second quarters, Continental Resources and Hess Corp, and they are far from the only ones experiencing these higher costs.

Shortages of raw materials such as frac sand and, earlier this year, steel piping for wells, are one reason for the production cost inflation, not just in the shale patch but everywhere where these raw materials are used in oil fields. A shortage of labor is a special problem for the U.S. shale patch, too, helping to drive production costs higher. Lingering supply chain problems from the pandemic are also in the mix.

The bigger problem is that the industry is not expecting any respite in the coming months, either, as Argus recently reported, citing oil and gas executives. The production cost squeeze comes at a time when the federal government really needs more oil and gas, which is probably the worst possible time as it has discouraged drillers further from spending more on new drilling.

Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity has become a cause for concern in the energy industry in the past few years as cyberattacks have multiplied significantly. The Colonial Pipeline hacking really helped out things in perspective on the cybersecurity front, but little action followed, it seems.

A brand new survey by DNV, the Norwegian risk assessment and quality assurance consultancy, revealed this week that the industry is quite uneasy about cyberthreats and, what's worse, not really prepared to handle them.

According to the study, 84 percent of executives expect cyberattacks will lead to physical damage to energy assets, while more than half—54 percent—expect cyberattacks to result in the loss of human life. Some 74 percent of the respondents expect environmental damage as a result of a cyberattack. And only 30 percent know what to do if their company becomes a target of such an attack.

Geopolitics

The most chronic risk in the energy industry, geopolitics is never far away when prices start swinging wildly or, as is the case right now, remain stubbornly high. The prospect of an EU oil embargo on Russia, although dimming in the past few days, is one big bullish factor for oil prices. The lack of progress on Iran nuclear talks is another. And then there is, of course, OPEC's evident unwillingness to respond to calls from the West for more oil.

Russia itself does not seem bothered by the embargo prospects at all. "The same oil that they [the EU countries] bought from us will have to be purchased elsewhere, and they will pay more, because the prices will definitely rise; and once the cost of delivery and freight increase, it will be necessary to invest in building the corresponding infrastructure," Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said this week.

Iran is meanwhile boosting its oil exports, which go almost exclusively to China. The country has signaled it will not agree to a deal with the U.S. unless the U.S. meets its demands, and it appears that the ball is now in Washington's court. In the meantime, China will have Iranian oil, but no one else will.

For the U.S., the price problem has become so dire that now President Biden is seeking a meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed, whom he has consistently refused to communicate with, instead communicating with his father, King Salman. Biden has also been openly critical of MbS for his alleged role in the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist, calling the Kingdom a "pariah" with "no redeeming social value." Geopolitics can be awkward.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/23/2022 - 21:40

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Spread & Containment

What Did Other Term Spreads Do? And What Does the US Spread Mean for Foreign Economic Activity?

As noted in the post by Rashad Ahmad, foreign yield curve developments helped predict US growth. What did those spreads do? And, turning the question on…

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As noted in the post by Rashad Ahmad, foreign yield curve developments helped predict US growth. What did those spreads do? And, turning the question on its head, what does the US spread mean for those economies’ recession prospects?

Figure 1 depicts 10yr-3m sovereign spreads over time — so before the 2007 recession and during the run-up to  the 2020 pandemic.

Figure 1: 10yr-3mo Treasury spread (bold black), 10yr-3mo government bond – 3 month interbank spread for Canada (blue), for France (brown), for Germany (green), for Japan (red), for UK (dark gray). Source: Treasury via FRED, OECD Main Economic Indicators via FRED, and author’s calculations.

A cleaner measure for the foreign countries would’ve used sovereign yields for the short rate, to make comparable to the US spread (and to control for default risk), but I couldn’t get that easily.

While Chinn and Kucko (2015) examined cross-country evidence for own 10yr-3mo term spreads predicting recessions, we did not examine whether US term spreads had predictive power for foreign recessions. Mehl (2009) examined the usefulness of US spreads for predicting other-country economic activity and inflation rates — but using the 5yr-3mo spread. See the (brief) review of predicting recessions cross-country in this post.

A quick and dirty look at the data shows that the US term spread does not help much in adding to the 12 month predictive power of own-term spread for recessions during the 1970-2022M05 period for the countries shown above (recession peak-to-trough dates from ECRI). The probit regression involves the local economy recession indicator on the LHS, and the local term spread on the RHS, alone and augmented with the US term spread, along with a constant. (Of course, results might change with the addition of other covariates like oil price, equity prices and some measure of financial conditions).

Note that I only examined recessions; I didn’t examine growth or inflation. More for later.

 

 

 

 

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Spread & Containment

Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with Soaring Gas Prices

To grab your piece of the rising energy costs, below are the top gas ETFs to buy in 2022. Let’s get started.
The post Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with…

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All anyone wants to talk about anymore is the soaring price of gasoline. After all, the cost to fill your tank has never been higher. With industry profits piling up, get your share with the best gas ETFs to buy before the second half (2H) of 2022.

First, the pandemic severely strained the industry as demand fell off from global lockdowns. As a result, over 100 oil and gas companies went out of business.

Then, as the economy reopened and demand started catching up, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stoked a fire under an already strained market. So, demand is outpacing supply as nations look elsewhere to fill the supply gap left by Russia’s massive presence in the commodity market.

Nonetheless, gasoline is essential to keep the economy running smoothly. You need gas for fuel to get to work and back. Not to mention, businesses rely on gas for transporting goods, which influences prices. To grab your piece of the rising energy costs, below are the top gas ETFs to buy in 2H of 2022.

What Are the Best Gas ETFs to Buy Right Now?

The top gas ETFs to buy are outperforming the market right now as soaring energy costs boost profits. For example, Natural Gas Futures (NG1) are up over 120% YTD and almost 200% over the past year.

Meanwhile, all major indexes are down significantly this year, with the Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) slipping almost 30% YTD. On top of this, researchers at J.P. Morgan predict gas prices could remain elevated “even as far back as 2024” as supply disruptions will be hard to overcome.

No. 3 Barclays iPath Series B Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex (NYSE: GAZ)

  • YTD Return: 124%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.45%

Although the Natural Gas Subindex is set up as an Exchange Traded Note (ETN), it can help you gain exposure to the surging gas market. An ETN differs from an ETF in that the fund consists of unsecured debt notes rather than holding a group of stocks.

The GAZ ETN seeks to replicate the returns of the Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex by investing in futures contracts. That said, the ETN does not pay a dividend. Therefore, GAZ is best as a short-term tool.

Since the ETN is not tied to any companies, only futures, it can carry additional risks. For example, investors are left with little or nothing if the issuer defaults. In comparison, ETFs hold several companies, helping to diversify and spread risk.

At the same time, the ETN moves alongside the price of natural gas contacts. So, if you are looking for direct exposure to gas prices, the GAZ ETN may be for you.

Keep reading for more on gas ETFs to buy.

No. 2 United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG)

  • YTD Return: 128%
  • Expense Ratio: 1.11%

The United States Natural Gas Fund is another way investors can invest in natural gas prices without physically trading futures. For one thing, UNG is a commodity pool. Or in other words, it pools investor money to invest in futures, swaps and forward contracts.

The fund aims to give investors access to daily changes in natural gas deliveries at the Henry Hub, a distribution center. As a result, the daily changes resemble changes in natural gas prices.

However, since management is consistently active, it will cost more to invest. Though the higher expense is not slowing UNGs momentum, up close to 130% YTD. Likewise, UNG is more geared for short-term trading as it holds near-month contracts.

No. 1 United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNL)

  • YTD Return: 113%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.90%

Similarly, the United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund is a commodity pool targeting the price of natural gas. But, UNL differs in that it holds futures contracts for the nearest 12 months.

In other words, UNL buffers itself from short-term movements. As a result, investors can gain exposure to changes in natural gas prices with less risk than short-term contracts.

If you wish to capture your piece of the soaring energy prices but want less risk of contango (higher spot price), UNL may be a better choice.

Best Leveraged Gas ETFs to Buy

To maximize your returns, you can opt for a leveraged ETF to multiply the changes in an underlying index. For example, the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Natural Gas ETF (NYSE: BOIL) targets to return 2X the daily performance of a natural gas index.

As a result, investors can earn double the daily returns of natural gas changes. With this in mind, the BOIL ETF is up 322% in 2022 alone.

However, there is a significant risk of investing in leveraged ETFs. Though you can earn double the returns, you can also double your losses. Investing in these funds is only recommended if you are comfortable with the significant fluctuations.

Best Inverse (Short) Gas ETFs to Buy

For those that think gas prices will ease soon, finding an inverse gas ETF to buy in 2022 may be for you. Or, if you have earned a pretty penny on gas and oil stocks already, you may want to protect your downside.

Nevertheless, the ProShares Ultrashort Bloomberg Natural Gas ETF (NYSE: KOLD) is a way to earn (-2X) the daily performance of a natural gas index.

In comparison, the KOLD ETF is down 90% YTD while natural gas prices soar. So, it gives you an idea of how quickly earnings can dry up in these types of investments.

What Gas ETFs to Buy for Passive Investors

The funds listed above are the best gas ETFs to buy for capturing the explosive rise in gas prices. But, for passive investors, these may not be the best option. For one thing, the gas and oil market can change rapidly.

During the pandemic, oil prices plunged below $0 for the first time. Then, two years later, we are looking at record high prices of over $130. As a result, oil and gas ETFs are having wild swings.

Nonetheless, research from J.P. Morgan shows the cost burden of higher gas prices is around $7 billion per month. As a result, consumers have less to spend in other areas of the economy. We already see the evidence with companies like Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) missing earnings estimates while blaming transportation costs.

In short, profits are being pulled from other parts of the economy to compensate for the lack of supply and rising demand. With this in mind, the energy sector looks ready to continue its run.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSE: XLE) is an excellent option for passive investors looking to gain exposure with less risk. The XLE ETF is up 48% YTD while investing in top gas and oil companies like Exxon Mobile (NYSE: XOM). No matter your investing style, with the price at the pump holding steady, these are the top gas ETFs to buy this year to get your share.

The post Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with Soaring Gas Prices appeared first on Investment U.

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