About Odd Lots
Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway analyze the weird patterns, the complex issues and the newest market crazes. Join the conversation every Monday and Thursday for interviews with the most interesting minds in finance, economics and markets.
One of the big mysteries in markets right now is why risk assets rallied so strongly into the new year even as policymakers were adamant that they would continue to go hard on inflation by raising rates. Sure, there have been some recent signs of a "soft" or even "no landing" scenario, but a lot of the price action seemed pretty dramatic, with investors dashing back to meme and tech stocks that were beaten down last year. Matt King, Citigroup strategist and Odd Lots favorite, has one explanation for the recent "dash for trash." He argues that even though many central banks around the world have announced that they're winding down several years of extraordinarily loose monetary policies, they've actually been adding liquidity to the financial system in recent months — almost $1 trillion of it. Now he says that extra liquidity is going away and it isn't at all clear if private businesses and investment will fill the gap. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The tech world is in a precarious moment. Valuations are down. The IPO window seems shut. SPACs are a thing of the past. And the industry's pre-eminent bank just went bust. So what now? Where are the opportunities and what should people look for? On this episode, we speak with Betsy Cohen, the veteran dealmaker, SPAC innovator, and the co-founder and chairman of investment firm Cohen Circle. We discuss the state of the tech market and how Silicon Valley Bank failed at Banking 101. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When Silicon Valley Bank failed, the government stepped in and guaranteed that all accounts — even those well above the FDIC threshold for deposit insurance — would be made whole. So now people are wondering whether all accounts at every bank are implicitly guaranteed, regardless of their size. But if they are, then what is the point of private, for-profit retail banking? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Saule Omarova, a professor at Cornell Law School. She had been nominated by President Biden to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, but was forced to withdraw due to fierce opposition from the banking lobby. That opposition was based, in part, on her endorsement of public checking accounts at the Federal Reserve. But what was a seemingly "out there" view a year ago, is now firmly within the Overton Window of political possibilities. On this episode, we discuss the SVB disaster, what it means for banking, and the case for a public option. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Markets are suddenly on edge due to strains in the financial system. But banks aren't the only source of stress. Pockets of the commercial real estate market — which is worth around $20 trillion — are showing cracks as well. Higher interest rates are one factor, but also a lot of commercial office space is still not at pre-Covid capacity levels, putting pressure on income. So where are the trouble spots? And who is holding the bag? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Rich Hill, head of real estate strategy & research at Cohen & Steers, about the state of the market. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Zero- and one-day options give investors the ability to bet on the daily moves of the S&P 500. In recent months, both big institutional investors and retail traders have gotten in on the action, creating a boom in trading volumes of these short-lived contracts and sparking an intense debate over their effect on the market. So what exactly is driving their popularity and why are some Wall Street analysts so divided on whether such options will cause a rerun of the “volmageddon” that we saw back in early 2018 and that caused a big drop in stocks? Nomura Securities International Inc. strategist Charlie McElligott walks us through these new trading contracts, explaining how they work, why people are snapping them up, and what their impact on the market could be. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Whenever a major financial institution collapses and needs a bailout, it's easy to say, "Where were the regulators?" But that's only a useful question if you can pinpoint the specific regulatory choices that led to any particular situation. So what caused Silicon Valley Bank to implode? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Columbia Law School professor Lev Menand, who discusses the defanging of bank supervisors in the run-up to this fiasco. With proper oversight, someone might have caught and put a stop to the unique set of risks the bank was taking. But without proper oversight, they were encouraged to go for all-out growth, regardless of the ultimate social cost. We also discuss legislative changes over time that led to this buildup of risk. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Silicon Valley bank collapsed at record speed. And the world is still trying to figure out what went wrong? How did a bank with a strong history, a strong brand, and a fairly conservative investment portfolio go belly up so fast? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Dan Davies, a Managing Director of Frontline Associates, who previously worked as a bank analyst. He explains why the bank's customer base turned out to be so much more flighty than expected, and why the bank reached for yield buying long-dated Treasuries at a time of ultra-low interest rates. We discuss what to watch next, and why he's concerned that the initial salvo to stanch the bank run may not be enough. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In the short term, the Federal Reserve's job is straightforward. Raise or lower interest rates in order to meet its employment and inflation targets. But over the years, it has evolved to do a lot more than just set the price of short-term bank borrowing. With each successive crisis, the Fed has taken on new powers and responsibilities to stabilize finance, markets and the broader economy. And with Washington characterized by partisan gridlock, the Fed is seen as the one entity that can actually move with some agility when it's needed. On this episode, we speak with Jeanna Smialek, a Fed reporter at the New York Times, and the author of the new book Limitless: The Federal Reserve Takes on a New Age of Crisis, about the history of the Fed and how it became so powerful. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The persistence of inflation is a bit of a mystery to economists. Many of the shocks of the last few years have faded. And the Fed has raised rates aggressively, with seemingly only a modest impact. So why are companies still raising prices? If you listen, they actually explain a lot of their reasoning on corporate conference calls. On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Samuel Rines, managing director at Corbu, who has gone through numerous transcripts and come to the conclusion that management teams are still being rewarded for "price over volume" strategies. Companies in this environment are happy to sacrifice a bit of volume sales in order to keep moving through large price increases. He walks us through what he's learned from companies like Wingstop, Tractor Supply, and PepsiCo. And he talks about what you should expect to see when the inflationary urge finally starts to crest. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Crypto is facing two distinct, yet related problems. First, a bunch of people have lost money due to the decline in coin prices and the collapse of major firms, such as FTX. At the same time, regulatory scrutiny is also increasing. And of course, the reason that scrutiny is increasing is in part due all the lost money. So how is the industry dealing with all this? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Brian Armstrong, the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, the biggest crypto exchange in the US. He talks about the trajectory of the industry, where he sees it going, the impediments it faces, and much more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Homebuilders have experienced major whiplash over the last few years. The pandemic originally caused them to slam the brakes on new development. Then the housing boom happened and they raced to catch up and build — but then they ran into supply-chain constraints. Then in 2022, the interest rate shock put the market into a freeze. But before that building can begin, how do developers find completely unused land and turn it into new homes? Who takes on that risk? Who buys and brokers that land? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Chase Emmerson, the co-CEO of Emmerson Holdings, an Arizona-based boutique land investor. He explains the process of securing land, getting it permitted for development, obtaining water rights, and more. He also walks us through what he's seeing in the housing market right now. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The vast majority of urban apartments in the US are geared towards single occupants, couples without kids or maybe young professionals with roommates. It's hard to find apartments with the kind of layout that would fit families. Anyone who's gone looking for that type of space is probably familiar with bedrooms that look and feel like closets, or if you do find an apartment that has multiple good-sized bedrooms, it probably costs a fortune. So why is this the case? Why is so much apartment construction skewed towards non-families, and why does there seem to be an inherent assumption in the real estate market that families will always want to live in houses out in the suburbs? On this episode of the Odd Lots podcast, we explore the hidden incentives and regulations that deter builders from making more family-friendly buildings. We speak with real estate developer Bobby Fijan, and also Stephen Jacob Smith, executive director at the Center for Building in North America, for their perspective. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Federal Reserve has been raising benchmark borrowing rates at the fastest pace in decades, but the interest rate paid out to millions of people with bank accounts is still stuck at almost zero. According to data from Bankrate, the average interest rate on savings accounts is just 0.23%. So what's going on? Why have many banks so far avoided raising what they pay out to depositors even as the Fed hikes, and will that eventually change? What does it mean for the financial system and also economic policy given that higher rates are, in theory, supposed to encourage less spending and more saving in order to curb higher inflation? On this episode, we dig deep into the making of bank deposit rates with Barclays strategist Joe Abate. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine in an event that set off a chain reaction of both geopolitical and economic consequences. So what have we learned from the past twelve months? And what is the future of this ongoing conflict? On this episode, we speak with Robert Papp, a retired senior executive at the CIA about what to watch when it comes to the weeks and months ahead. Before joining the CIA, Robert was a cryptologist in the US Navy and also studied Russian and Russia's economic history. He walks us through key questions, including how things are going for either side, and the role of both economic and information warfare in the conflict. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
President Biden came into office with an incredibly slim legislative majority. And yet despite just 50 Democratic seats in the Senate, the first two years of Biden's Presidency saw the passage of some extremely ambitious laws. The potential exists for the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act to reshape the economy in ways that we haven't seen in a long time. Brian Deese has been the head of the National Economic Council these last two years, and was thus directly involved in the passage and shaping of these laws. So what will they accomplish, and how will they ultimately be judged. We spoke to Brian in his final week in the NEC role about this new era of "industrial strategy", and what he learned during this two-year stint. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The US is in the middle of another debt ceiling fight. The expectation is that it will get lifted before we hit the so called "drop dead" date — but what happens if Congress does not authorize more debt financing? What are the options for the government? Does this automatically lead to default? And if the US does default on its debt, what does that mean for the financial system and the real economy? On this episode of the Odd Lots podcast, we speak with George Pearkes, macro strategist at Bespoke Investment Group, about how the debt limit actually works, and we attempt to get an understanding of what to expect if we reach this uncharted territory. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The US labor market looks rock solid. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 50 years, while layoffs continue to trend downward. But there's one glaring exception and that's the tech industry. Nearly every major tech company has announced layoffs in the last few months, which is exactly the opposite of how things played out over the last decade, when the sector was a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish job market. So what's going on? Why now? Who is getting cut? And will these tech workers quickly find new jobs? Can they apply their skills to the burgeoning AI space? On this episode of the podcast, we bring back Patrick McKenzie, the author of the Bits About Money newsletter, who previously worked at Stripe for six years. He talks about the current trends in tech employment and why it's still a good idea to become an engineer. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In the wake of the Great Financial Crisis, the work of John Maynard Keynes experienced a revival, as people sought answers to the problem of sluggish growth. In this cycle, sluggish growth isn't the problem. If anything, you hear business leaders and central bankers talking about the labor market being "too hot," and the need for the unemployment rate to rise. So what explains the current dynamic? And how can we sustain a hot economy without the pain of inflation? Perhaps the work of the lesser-known Polish economist Michał Kalecki holds the answers. Like Keynes, he also viewed the free market as being inherently unstable, but he came to different conclusions about why. He also explored the political economy of full employment and why this condition frustrates business leaders. On this episode, we speak with Jan Toporowski, professor of Economics and Finance at SOAS University of London, about Kalecki's work and how it can help us understand today's economy. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The new season of Bloomberg's Foundering podcast retraces the life and gruesome death of John McAfee. In the 1980s and ’90s, the McAfee name was synonymous with computer antivirus software, and he helped establish the modern cybersecurity industry. But afterward, his life took a strange and dark turn. He was accused of murder, an allegation he denied, and then went on the lam. He sought to reinvent himself as a cryptocurrency guru and as a candidate for US president. Reporter Jamie Tarabay interviews McAfee’s colleagues, acquaintances, investigators and family members to demystify lies he told throughout his life, reveal the secrets he kept and resolve questions surrounding his public and decades-long self-destruction. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates at the fastest pace in decades in 2022. But despite the rapid shift in borrowing costs, not much in the financial system actually 'broke.' Stocks and other risk assets went down, but aside from a few issues like the gilt market drama in October, we didn't see a big systemic event. On this episode of Odd Lots, which was recorded live at the Credit Market Structure Alliance conference in New York, we speak with Fabio Natalucci about how he's thinking of financial risk right now. Fabio is the Deputy Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department at the International Monetary Fund and he writes the IMF's annual financial stability report. He walks us through the key risks he sees as still lurking in the system, as well as what's changed since 2008. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.