The growing risk of a “major financial accident” that causes a market capitulation later in the year could open up opportunities for investors to “pile up on quality risk assets,” according to Beat Wittman, chairman and partner at Zurich-based Porta Advisors.
With risks from inflation and an economic slowdown mounting and central banks treading an increasingly narrow monetary policy path, Wittman characterized the global economy as “stuck in a perfect storm environment of supply chain frictions, contracting final demand, high inflation, rising interest rates, falling corporate earnings and a potential financial accident.”
He said there is a danger that a “weak link” in the financial system breaks and investors flee en masse, providing investable bottoms for shrewd investors.
“The list of weak-links candidates is rather long and includes zombie-type European universal banks, LBO [leveraged buyout] financed corporates, over-leveraged shadow banking players and over-indebted emerging market sovereigns,” he said in a research note.
“We should not underestimate that interest rates have risen significantly in the last six to nine months and higher interest rates are eating through the economic system, and having an impact of course on business confidence, on consumer confidence, and on anyone who has a leveraged exposure to those interest rates and not enough revenue, topline or simply a cushion in terms of cash or reserves,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday.
Central banks around the world, with some notable exceptions such as China and Japan, have been tightening monetary policy aggressively in recent months in the hope of curbing runaway inflation, caused in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine and surging food and energy prices.
Wittman argued that up until central banks were forced to begin tightening this year, monetary policy and liquidity conditions had been “too loose for too long,” and policymakers, led by the U.S. Federal Reserve, were now scrambling to restore lost credibility.
“There will be lagging and prolonged negative economic effects to their tightening. However, a normalization of monetary and interest rates policy is a much needed and welcome development in the long run,” he said.
Wittman told CNBC that the tougher the central banks talk and act on inflation, the more bullish he would become on the outlook for equities over the medium term, but in the short term, September and October will be a “testing time” as the relief rally of the last month fades.
He also noted the stark geographical divergences between the U.S. and Europe, with the former more energy autonomous and far better insulated against import and export risks related to the war in Ukraine, along with the Fed leading the way on monetary policy.
“Looking into 2023 the U.S. equity market is best positioned from a geopolitical, energy security, economic resilience and monetary policy leading perspective,” he said.
“Importantly, times of emotional, intellectual and financial dislocations and distress are the ideal breeding ground for extraordinary investment and entrepreneurial opportunities.”
Ford CEO says 65% of U.S. dealers agree to sell EVs
Ford F-150 Lightning trucks manufactured at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn Michigan.
Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.
DETROIT – About 65% of Ford Motor’s dealers have agreed to sell electric vehicles as the company invests billions to expand production and sales of the battery-powered cars and trucks, CEO Jim Farley said Monday.
About 1,920 of Ford’s nearly 3,000 dealers in the U.S. agreed to sell EVs, according to Farley. He said roughly 80% of those dealers opted for the higher level of investment for EVs.
Ford offered its dealers the option to become “EV-certified” under one of two programs — with expected investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million. Dealers in the higher tier, which carries upfront costs of $900,000, receive “elite” certification and be allocated more EVs.
Ford, unlike crosstown rival General Motors, is allowing dealers to opt out of selling EVs and continue to sell the company’s cars. GM has offered buyouts to Buick and Cadillac dealers that don’t want to invest to sell EVs.
Dealers who decided not to invest in EVs may do so when Ford reopens the certification process in 2027.
“We think that the EV adoption in the U.S. will take time, so we wanted to give dealers a chance to come back,” Farley said during an Automotive News conference.
Ford’s plans to sell EVs have been a point of contention since the company split off its all-electric vehicle business earlier this year into a separate division known as Model e. Farley said the automaker and its dealers needed to lower costs, increase profits and deliver better, more consistent customer sales experiences.
Farley on Monday also reiterated that a direct-sales model is estimated to be thousands of dollars cheaper for the automaker than the auto industry’s traditional franchised system.
Wall Street analysts have largely viewed direct-to-consumer sales as a benefit to optimize profit. However, there have been growing pains for Tesla, which uses the sales model, when it comes to servicing its vehicles.
Ford’s current lineup of all-electric vehicles includes the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup, Mustang Mach-E crossover and e-Transit van. The automaker is expected to release a litany of other EVs globally under a plan to invest tens of billion of dollars in the technologies by 2026.
Tim Draper predicts bitcoin will reach $250,000 despite FTX collapse
Tim Draper, founder of Draper Associates, onstage at the Web Summit 2022 tech conference.
Ben McShane | Sportsfile via Getty Images
Venture capitalist Tim Draper thinks bitcoin will hit $250,000 a coin by the middle of 2023, even after a bruising year for the cryptocurrency marked by industry failures and sinking prices.
Draper previously predicted that bitcoin would top $250,000 by the end of 2022, but in early November, at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, he said it would take until June 2023 for this to materialize.
He reaffirmed this position Saturday when asked how he felt about his price call following the collapse of FTX.
“I have extended my prediction by six months. $250k is still my number,” Draper told CNBC via email.
Bitcoin would need to rally nearly 1,400% from its current price of around $17,000 for Draper’s prediction to come true. The cryptocurrency has plunged over 60% since the start of the year.
Digital currencies are in the doldrums as tighter monetary policy from the Fed and a chain reaction of bankruptcies at major industry firms including Terra, Celsius and FTX have put intense pressure on prices.
FTX’s demise has also worsened an already severe liquidity crisis in the industry. Crypto exchange Gemini and lender Genesis are among the firms said to be impacted by the fallout from FTX’s insolvency.
Last week, veteran investor Mark Mobius told CNBC that bitcoin could crash to $10,000 next year, a more than 40% plunge from current prices. The co-founder of Mobius Capital Partners correctly called the drop to $20,000 this year.
Nevertheless, Draper is convinced that bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, is set to rise in the new year.
“I expect a flight to quality and decentralized crypto like bitcoin, and for some of the weaker coins to become relics,” he told CNBC.
In 2014, Draper purchased 29,656 bitcoins confiscated by U.S. Marshals from the Silk Road dark web marketplace for $18.7 million. That year, he predicted the price of bitcoin would go to $10,000 in three years. Bitcoin went on to climb close to $20,000 in 2017.
Some of Draper’s other bets have soured, however. He invested in Theranos, a health startup that falsely claimed it was able to detect diseases with a few drops of blood. Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’ founder, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for fraud.
Draper’s rationale for bitcoin’s breakout next year is that there remains a massive untapped demographic for bitcoin: women.
“My assumption is that, since women control 80% of retail spending and only 1 in 7 bitcoin wallets are currently held by women, the dam is about to break,” Draper said.
Crypto has long had a gender disparity problem. According to a survey conducted for CNBC and Acorns by Momentive, twice as many men as women invest in digital assets (16% of men vs. 7% of women).
“Retailers will save roughly 2% on every purchase made in bitcoin vs dollars,” Draper added. “Once retailers realize that that 2% can double their profits, bitcoin will be ubiquitous.”
Payment middlemen such as Visa and Mastercard currently charge fees as high as 2% each time credit cardholders use their card to pay for something. Bitcoin offers a way for people to bypass the middlemen.
However, using the digital coin for everyday spending is tough, since its price is very volatile and the coin is not widely accepted as currency.
“When people can buy their food, clothing and shelter all in bitcoin, they will have no use for centralized banking fiat dollars,” Draper said.
“Management of fiat is centralized and erratic. When a politician decides to spend $10 trillion, your dollars become worth about 82 cents. Then the Fed needs to raise rates to make up for the spend, and those arbitrary centralized decisions create an inconsistent economy,” he added. Fiat currencies derive their worth from their issuing government, unlike cryptocurrencies.
Meanwhile, the next so-called bitcoin halving — which cuts the bitcoin rewards to bitcoin miners — in 2024 will also boost the cryptocurrency, according to Draper, as it chokes the supply over time. The total number of bitcoins that will ever be mined is capped at 21 million.
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