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A Historical Divide: A 160-Year View of the Gold-Oil Ratio

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gold-oil ratio

The Briefing

  • The divergence had gold trading at nearly 91 times oil in April.
  • The price relationship between gold and oil is at levels not witnessed in 160 years.

A 160 Year View of the Gold-Oil Ratio

2020 has ushered in a new era of prices for two historically significant assets—gold and oil.

The market has driven the pair in polar opposite directions breaking historical patterns. This year, gold brushed above $2,000 an ounce, while oil futures even went temporarily negative in the spring. The gold-oil ratio tells us how many barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) are needed to buy an ounce of gold, serving as a price-based indicator of the relative value of these two important assets.

Historically, the ratio has averaged between 10:1 and 30:1, This year it brushed above 90:1.

Here’s a look at the price of gold and oil over the last 6 months:

MonthGold-Oil RatioGold $ per OzOil $ per Barrel (WTI)
April 202091.12$1,716.75$18.84
May 202048.62$1,725.65$35.49
June 202045.09$1,770.70$39.27
July 202048.96$1,971.68$40.27
August 202046.25$1,970.50$42.61
September 202047.09$1,893.90$40.22
October 2020 52.53$1,879.90$35.79

The Gold Story

Traditional investing mantra tells us gold acts as an alternative investment, a haven if you will, that appreciates in price during tumultuous economic and financial times.

Its limited quantity and physical storage properties serve as a hedge to much of modern finance that is increasingly digital.

The COVID-19 pandemic, a subsequent slowdown in economic activity, and the debt-driven stimulus packages by governments globally are all factors in the recent gold rally.

The Oil Story

At the other end are the oil markets, which face both long and short-term headwinds. Long-term demand for oil has dwindled gradually as societies buff up their alternative and green energy initiatives.

Shrinking activity during the pandemic was the short-term shock. Combined, the outcomes include oil futures going negative in spring, Chevron reporting a net income loss of $8.3 billion in the second quarter, and Exxon’s dumping from The Dow.

As markets adapt to the volatile nature of 2020, only time will tell what the future holds for the gold-oil ratio.

Where does this data come from?

  • Source: Goehring & Rozencwajg: Top Reasons to Consider Oil-Related Equities report and MacroTrends
  • Notes: Data is as of October 2020.

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Datastream

Which Industry Boasts the Most Billionaire Wealth?

After the coronavirus-related market crash in early 2020, billionaires across every sector saw a double-digit increase in wealth.

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which industry boasts the most billionaire wealth

The Briefing

  • In every single sector, billionaire wealth saw positive growth from 2019 to 2020
  • Billionaire wealth in technology reached $566 billion after growing 41%, while healthcare reached $548 billion, growing 36%

It’s a Billionaires World

During the pandemic, billionaire wealth has shot up an average of 27% across various industries. Concurrently, the middle and working class have struggled, U.S. unemployment reached record highs, and millions of Americans are worried about facing eviction or foreclosure in the near future.

Tech and Healthcare Pull Ahead of the Pack

The industries that historically promote wealth creation for billionaires have undergone a number of changes in recent times.

Technology and healthcare have surged ahead of the pack, as companies in these industries possess qualities that have made innovation a huge value and growth driver. Innovative factors include AI, big data analytics, and a digital and cloud footprint.

IndustryWealth Per Industry ($ Billions)Growth Rates between April-July 2020
Technology$565.741.1%
Health industries$548.036.3%
Industrials$376.944.4%
Real estate$342.512.9%
Consumer & retail$300.126%
Other/diversified$268.120.7%
Financial services$229.112.8%
Materials$206.129.6%
Entertainment & media$204.120.7%

The pandemic enabled those well equipped to pivot towards the new environment and business landscape, while those without these advancements were forced to haphazardly adjust.

As a result, billionaires in these two industries have reaped great rewards. Between April-July 2020 they generated $164.8 billion and $145.7 billion in wealth between technology and healthcare respectively.

Playing Catchup

The graphic shows the two leading industries building a considerable spread between them and those lagging behind. As these innovative technologies take the mainstream, it may suggest the other industries will have the chance to catch up.

In real estate for instance, the wave of innovation is least prevalent according to the original report, yet disruption and innovation are already on their way. Consider two stocks in Zillow and Redfin: the first operates in residential real estate services exclusively through web and mobile, while the latter is a digital real estate brokerage that has the potential to undercut real estate agents.

Could these industry wealth results in a post-pandemic world look very different?

Where does this data come from?

Source: PWC Billionaires Report.
Notes: This data was released in the summer of 2020

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Tesla Bears: A Short Short Story

Tesla has gained infamy for the sheer depth of short seller activity on its stock. After years of 20% of shares short, the 2020 rally has led to capitulation for Tesla bears.

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The Briefing

  • Tesla, Inc has gained infamy for the sheer depth of short seller activity on its stock. At its peak in 2019, over 200 million shares were short
  • However, short sellers have recently capitulated, thanks to Tesla’s monster year
  • TSLA shares are up roughly 600% YTD

Tesla Bears: A Short Short Story

Short selling is often said to be the Wild West of financial markets. Where there’s a short seller, there can be whipsawing asset prices just around the corner. Tesla is no exception.

In some cases billions of dollars pour behind these short ideas—conducted by some of the world’s most sophisticated investors.

The efficient market hypothesis suggests short selling is a necessary evil that helps the market reflect on all the information of a given security and obtain its true market value. Yet most market participants are anything but receptive to short sellers.

The market—which tends to be long, often panics when a short seller enters the arena and takes the opposite stance. What typically follows is an avalanche of legal and regulatory action from corporate lawyers to the SEC.

In the case of Tesla, short sellers couldn’t have gotten it more wrong – at least for now. Some market commentators call it the most unprofitable short witnessed. The data shows that approximately 20% of Tesla shares have been held short since 2016. This year a reported $27 billion has been lost betting against Tesla.

DateShares Sold ShortDollar Volume Sold Short
October 30th, 202047,800,000$19 billion
October 15th, 202052,960,000$22 billion
September 30th, 202057,130,000$25 billion
September 15th, 202059,040,000$24 billion
August 31st, 202054,890,000$20 billion
August 14th, 202012,310,000$5 billion

Tesla’s short thesis is often anchored around a few compelling narratives. The first is that Tesla’s present day fundamentals are poor—a $530 billion company delivered 139,300 vehicles in Q3’20 and turned a $331 million profit. That’s after government subsidy programs.

The second, the electric vehicle market is expected to be competitive with many players, and short sellers make the point Tesla is currently priced as the sole-winner in this space.

We don’t know how the future EV market will transpire, but with Tesla shares up 600% year-to-date, and with the company set to join the S&P 500, some bears look to be calling it quits.

Where does this data come from?

Source:Ycharts
Notes: Financial data is as of December 2nd, 2020

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