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Riding in Waymo One, The Google Spinoff's First Self-Driving Taxi Service

Riding in Waymo One, The Google Spinoff's First Self-Driving Taxi Service

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Comments of the Day

07 December 2018



Video commentary for November 6th 2018



Eoin Treacy's view

A link to today's video commentary is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Some of the topics discussed include: lead indicators for recessions, what will drive the next leg of the secular bull market, Wall Street rebounds from its lows, Europe remains weak, gold steady, oil losing downtrend consistency. 



Email of the day on Crowd Money, late cycle moves and credit

As you have repeatedly mentioned in recent audios, we are at a very interesting time in markets. The coming weeks may potentially offer us a guide as to whether markets are pricing in a recession in late 2019/2020 or whether this maybe further delayed by the Fed and the US administration setting a looser policy tone sooner rather than later.

As David has always urged “don’t fight the Fed”.

Being away from my desk enjoying the delights of the Caribbean, I have taken the time to re-read your most illuminating book Crowd Money which you published back in 2013 and I read back in 2014 (again in the Sunny Caribbean).

I have to mention that a good many of your observations have come to pass and my holdings in a number of Autonomies who are also Dividend Aristocrats have been a core holding of my balanced personal portfolio. I have noted with interest the recent late cycle outperformance of these holdings compared to previously sexy growth stocks.

I would recommend to the collective to take the opportunity to read or re-read Crowd Money at a time when market strategy is in flux.

You have also made reference to the possibility of GE corporate debt being downgraded to junk. I attach a link to the UK Investment Manager M&G ‘Bond Vigilantes’ website and their comments relating to the US corporate debt market and with specific reference to GE’s strategy to deleverage and preserve their IG status.

Hope this is of interest.


Eoin Treacy's view

Thanks for the link your kind words and I agree there is nothing quite like a good dose of sun in December. It is enormously gratifying that you are enjoying Crowd Money. I’m working on another book to try and put the emerging state of flux in context but it’s a hard slog. I’m reviewing late cycle phenomena in the following piece so I would like to focus on the credit market.

Here is a section from the article:

The Fallen Angel figure, of course, could balloon if one of these Angels happens to be a company with a large capital structure. One of the businesses that has lost its public single-A rating lately is US industrial giant General Electric – the 87th biggest company within the S&P 500 index, holding c. $50bn of notional debt – the majority of which could enter the HY market if multiple notches of downgrades occur. How immediate is this risk for investors?

GE downgrade fears are still speculative. The company is trying to shore up its cashflow and balance sheet, and may well retain its IG badge after all. Since liquidity, usually investors’ No. 1 concern, seems ample, the company is now focusing on improving its free cash flow and balance sheet structure. Companies at the lower end of the IG spectrum are indeed strongly incentivized to retain their credit ratings as a cut in long-term ratings from BBB- to BB+ materially lifts borrowing costs as some investors are prevented from holding Non-Investment Grade companies.

GE, however, still holds a BBB+ rating with stable outlooks from all three major credit rating agencies, leaving this flagship industrial group still a long way from junk. What will matter over the coming quarters is GE’s new CEO delivering on a promise of accelerated deleveraging, alongside turning around the structurally challenged power division. All of this amidst a backdrop of ongoing Department of Justice and SEC investigations, as well as some shareholder litigation.



Review of recession lead indicators



Eoin Treacy's view

The yield curve spread has been in the news lately and with good reason considering how much of a move we have seen in the last week and because it has such an impressive record as a lead indicator for future recessions. With volatility on stock market increasing and perhaps more importantly some stress becoming evident in the credit markets I think it is timely to spend some time to do a thorough review of lead indicators for future recessions.



Riding in Waymo One, The Google Spinoff's First Self-Driving Taxi Service

This article by Andrew Hawkins for the Verge may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Over the course of three separate trips in Chandler, the trained drivers in my Waymo vehicles never take control. I’ve ridden in a Waymo vehicle without a human being in the driver’s seat once before, but it was not on public roads. I was fully prepared to experience a fully driverless ride while in Chandler, but, alas, Waymo rejected my request.

The rides are uneventful, but it is exciting to experience the little flourishes that have been added for ride-hailing customers. The minivans still smell new, or at least recently cleaned. The screen on the back of the driver’s headrest features a large blue “start” button that I could press to initiate the ride. (There’s also a physical button in the headliner of the vehicle that performs the same task.) After pressing the button, a musical chime sounds and a robotic-sounding woman’s voice says, “Here we go.”

As I said, I’m an experienced Waymo rider — three trips and counting — but this one feels more mature. Before, it felt like you were being driven by your half-blind grandmother, but now, riding feels… mostly normal. The car slows down for speed bumps, accelerates for lane changes, and handles a number of difficult maneuvers like unprotected left turns. And it even surprises me a couple of times, like when it ended up braking too far into the crosswalk at an intersection, and then reversed back a few inches to make room for pedestrians. Of course, it probably shouldn’t have stopped so abruptly in the first place, but it is still comforting to see the car correct its mistakes in real time.


Eoin Treacy's view

This is perhaps the biggest news this week, even though the arrest of Huawei’s CFO and the tightening of liquidity are what are making global headlines.

Waymo are going slow on rolling out autonomy because they are very aware of the damage road deaths by semiautonomous vehicles have caused to companies like Uber and Tesla. However, the important point is riders are reporting the cars are delivering smoother rides and fewer unexpected stops where the car has to pause and figure out what to do next.








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