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Is a market shake-up upon us? Ben Laidler of eToro joins to share his insights on the current economic volatility and shares critical strategies to navigate markets and rising inflation. In this episode, Ben Laidler, Global Market Strategist at eToro ( @etoro ) , joins host Andrew Brill the the current economic landscape. From the implications of rising inflation and interest rates, to the sectors poised for growth amidst volatility, Laidler shares his expert analysis and actionable strategies regarding the economy. Ben also provides his insights into investment opportunities for 2024 and the risks posed by geopolitical tensions.

Ben Laidler  0:00  
that's absolutely a risk. And this is part of the sort of wall of worry, I think that the market sort of deals with right there is that sort of tail risk out there that the Fed has is all wrong. They're gonna keep interest rates, you know, high for too long. And then when it does come time to cut, they're just going to be behind the curve. And that transmission mechanism is not going to be quick enough to save us from that sort of downturn. I guess what I would say to that is simplistically, we're about as far away from recession right now as it's mathematically possible to be. So I do think the Fed has time. And they just want a little bit more time for those higher interest rates to play out to cool the economy a little bit more. I think we're close. I mean, we're talking, you know, a month or two rather than more than that. I don't think we're, I don't think things are too far away.

Andrew Brill  0:50  
I'd like to welcome Ben Laidler back to wealthion. Ben as the Global Market Strategist at eToro.

Ben, welcome back. It's glad, we're glad to have you. 

Ben Laidler  1:03  
Yeah. Good to be back. Thanks for having me. 

Andrew Brill  1:06  
Absolutely. So how are things over in London? I know here in New York, it's hot. And actually, we got a little reprieve yesterday, but it's, it's gonna get hot again. It's hot here. We are gearing up for our own election next week. So you know, there's there's plenty going on. Yeah. So I just want to ask you, you know, usually I ask you about the present economy. And I know, the European Central Bank has cut rates slightly already. Here in the US, they're, they're still looking at numbers. What's your view on the US economy? What are we looking at? Is it still robust as everybody thinks? Or is it starting to slow? 

Ben Laidler  1:47  
Yeah, it's starting to slow but not by much. I think this is still a Goldilocks macro environment. Certainly, as a stock investor. You know, the latest GDP Nowcast for this quarter's GDP growth in the US is 3%. That's well, above the long term average, we're generating couple of 100,000 new jobs a month, the latest PMI is at 54. That's very expansionary. You know, those are really strong numbers. Now, you know, it's not quite that good. There are some pockets of weakness, there are pockets of slowdown, frankly, we want to see that. But it's pretty glacial. But it's probably also enough to keep the door open to interest rate cuts later this year. And it's that sort of combination. Yes, we've got less interest rate cuts coming, but they are still coming, combined with this strong enough economic environment right now, which is giving us decent earnings growth and making any sort of talk of recession. basically wasting your breath at this point. 

Andrew Brill  2:53  
Yeah, we have some numbers coming out later this week. PCI is coming out, I think Friday, there's the unemployment numbers coming out. Also, I think on Thursday, unemployment here has touched about 4%, which is something I guess the Fed keeps an eye on, they don't talk a lot they talk about see the CPE the PCI, and I'll talk a lot about unemployment, but they keep an eye on it. And it has ticked up and I'm gonna guess that it might continue to tick up a little bit. What it do you see the unemployment starting to become a factor because obviously fewer people working and it's not by much, but fewer people working, are going to spend less money? Obviously, 

Ben Laidler  3:33  
Yes and retail sales have absolutely slowed. And if you scratch the surface of retail sales, people spending their money on different things, they're spending less money on the sort of big ticket credit sensitive luxuries and they're spending more on, you know, those sort of staple goods, he scratched the surface, you can absolutely see, there's, you know, there's some stress out there for consumer, admittedly the sort of lower income consumer, but it's absolutely there. But you know, we're still posting couple of 100,000 new jobs a month, this is still a very healthy labor market. 4% unemployment is still very low in the greater scheme of things. And I think this all means that the Fed feels that it is in no need to rush here. By cutting interest rates, it can always do more later. That's the sort of fed puts that I think is giving the market some comfort here, that inflation has come down enough that if the economy does cool, quicker than expected, the Fed can cut interest rates quickly and aggressively. But you know, it's a little bit of an embarrassment of riches right now. I mean, the economy is running reasonably hot. Inflation is doing just about enough to keep the door open to rate cuts and the Fed can frankly, I think tickets time at this point.

Andrew Brill  4:52  
Is there a slippery slope where it could, your numbers could come up in a lot lower or you know, in you know, showing that inflation is coming way down. Whereas obviously the Fed doesn't want to trigger a recession. But is there a slippery slope with playing with this number or playing with a rate cut or waiting for this? 

Ben Laidler  5:13  
Yeah, that's absolutely a risk. And this is part of the sort of wall of worry, I think that the market sort of deals with right, though there is that sort of tail risk out there that the Fed has is all wrong, they're going to keep interest rates, you know, high for too long. And then when it does come time to cut, they're just going to be behind the curve. And that transmission mechanism is not going to be quick enough to save us from that sort of downturn. I guess what I would say to that is simplistically, we're about as far away from recession right now, as it's mathematically possible to be. So I do think the Fed has time. And they just want a little bit more time for those high interest rates to play out to cool the economy a little bit more. I think we're close. I mean, we're talking, you know, a month or two rather than more than that. So I don't think we're, I don't think things are too far away. 

Andrew Brill  6:00  
It's interesting, Ben, because I talk to economists. And then I talked to market strategists. And when you talk to an economist, and I see you smiling, when you talk to an economist there, it's all gloom and doom, the sky is falling, we're in reset, we're going to you know, this is gonna be the worst thing ever. But when you talk to the market at the market, people, they're like, this isn't so bad. This isn't, you know, I, I would assume you think a soft landing or even no landing is possible. But when you talk to an economist, it's terrible. How are we in such a different world? 

Ben Laidler  6:33  
I think there's a little bit of difference in perspective. I mean, market strategists are forward looking. They're always asking, you know, what's discounted in the market, where the surprise is going to come from? I think the perspective of the economist is a little bit different. It's a little bit more backward looking that, you know, the digging a little bit more with the reported data, which by definition is, is lagging. If one's been flipping, you know, the strategists have been more focused on the upside, the economists are a bit more focused on the downside. So I think perspectives matter. And we're coming from slightly different places. And I'm not going to denigrate the entire profession. But you know, we're also a little bit in uncharted territory, you know, here with just, I guess, you know, the hits of the economy, you know, we're coming from, you know, zero interest rates, we've had COVID. You know, a lot of investors a lot of this we've never seen before. 

Andrew Brill  7:27  
So you thinking, you know, early fall for an interest rate cut their first one, if there is one this year? 

Ben Laidler  7:34  
Yeah. So I think the market is broadly right there, we're getting one or two cuts, you know, this year, I have to say, I don't sweat getting that right. And I don't think the market cares too much. I think the market just wants to know, we've seen the peak, and the next move is down. And that's going to happen within my sort of forecast horizon of the next sort of six to nine months. And I'm very comfortable, that's going to happen. I think that's all you need as a stock investor at this point. And as I say, you know, if I'm wrong, and the economy does cool, here, more, I do think we have this fed put the Fed can cut interest rates more aggressively than than we think on the one side. And on the other hand, I think what the market is not ready for is the Feds actually say that it's not done. And there's more interest rate hikes to calm and inflation isn't controlled. And I think that's off the table as well. But you know, that I think is the bigger risk here. It's not that, you know, inflation is just gonna roll over and the Feds gonna cut more aggressively. 

Andrew Brill  8:39  
Are we seeing a little bit of a divergence where the market doesn't really care all of a sudden, if there's cuts or not where there's obviously, you know, other than the NASDAQ, the Dow, the s&p and the Nasdaq will come back, I think that this is end of second quarter profit taking, and I'll ask you about that. But is there a divergence here between people worrying about interest rates and investing? The market seemed to hinge on everything the Fed said, but now it's like, okay, you know, we're kind of used to this. We expected one of the end of last year, we're not getting it, at forget about it, we'll get it when it comes. Let's just go about our business. 

Ben Laidler  9:17  
I think that's broadly right, as long as the door is still open to rate cuts. And I think that's basically the environment we're in right now. I think the investment implications of that are much more at the sector and thematic level and then on the stock market level. So tech is doing very well right now because it's not very interest rate sensitive, it has its own sort of AI driven sort of growth story that adds a big sector especially in the US it's powering a market. Well, it's not powering the market is everything that's interest rate sensitive, which had very good start to the year when we thought we were going to six or seven cuts, and has now been you know, given all that, because we're now only looking at one or two so you know, small cap real estate financials, all these industrials, all these other bigger segments of the market have, you know, lag significantly? That is where I think you'll see that interest rate debate playing out. 

Andrew Brill  10:13  
Is it irrational that the market it would the economy slowing a little bit the market doing so well I remember the you know, the last presidential election we had where Trump said, Well, if Biden's elected the stock market is going to crash. And if I'm elected, we're going to do really well. It seems to be the we wouldn't know because Trump didn't get elected. But the stock market did quite well, under Biden. And it continues to do well, even though the economy is slowing. Is that an anomaly? Or is I it's clearly possible. But it's it's strange that that's going on. 

Ben Laidler  10:46  
So this is certainly an idiosyncratic sort of earning cycle. You know, earnings are accelerating, you know, the earnings recession is over, we grew earnings, nearly 8% last quarter. And I think that number is just going to keep building from here, at the same time as the economy is probably going to keep slowing. And so you know, that's been food for the bears. And it's where the bears have been wrong and why they've been wrong. I think they'd be wrong for sort of maybe three reasons. One, AI and big tech, which has its own story, which really has nothing to do with the broader economy, the AI adoption story to the impact of lower inflation on corporate profit margins, it's taking a lot of the pressure off its corporate profit margins sort of expands. And expectations were pretty low. And so I think all that has swamped and offset, you know, basically, very little top line revenue growth. And that's why I say this is sort of an abnormal, maybe a lower quality, earnings recovery. But I do think, you know, that top line story will come, maybe not the next few quarters, we're gonna have to have a bit of a slowdown first, but as the Fed cuts, interest rates, that is, those are the ingredients for that top line acceleration going forward. But you know, earnings are fine in the meantime. 

Andrew Brill  12:06  
Yeah, I want to ask you about Nvidia. And, you know, I had mentioned, you know, end of second quarter profit taking, is that what you think is going on here? I mean, after the stock split, it was up about 70%. Now, it's below where the split was, certainly, I don't think any AI is going anywhere. It's going to continue to be, you know, a big story, but and in video will come back. But is that what we're seeing here? Anything in tech? 

Ben Laidler  12:33  
Yes, I think this is a bit of an overdue sort of indigestion pullback, you know, call it what you will. But you know, that's that's such a context, if you annualize, I mean we're almost at half year, so far to sort of annualized, that this is the best year for the s&p 500. Since 1995, which was also the year we saw the most number of all time highs, and we're analyzing, you know, not too far away from that. So, you know, the performance has been pretty spectacular. And we've seen one pullback so far this year, of sort of five ish percent, your averages is three. And your average year sees also a intra year drawdown of 14%. And we haven't seen anything close to that. So I mean, different ways of coming to the same thing, you know, markets don't move in a straight line, we've had a very good year so far, I still think we're going to continue to have a good year, but you know, we're going to have some volatility, whether that's traditional summer seasonality, whether that's the US political calendar, starting early on Friday with the first presidential election, whatever it is, so you know, markets aren't going to move in a straight line, we're gonna see some volatility, but I think crucially, this is a very fundamentally driven rally, you know, earnings are moving up, the economy is doing well. I think valuations are well supported. So the pullback comes and it will, I think, crucially, it'll be bought rather than sold. 

Andrew Brill  13:58  
So you don't think it's not? It's, we're gonna continue to do well, the rally is still going to continue. Do you think that people are just a little tired of AI? I don't think it's a fad. I don't think it's going anywhere. But it seems that you know, when when all the talk is in Nvidia, and people are watching one stock, and they're equating you know, the hundreds and hundreds of stocks that are in the market, or 1000s, even into one stock, and they're all looking at Nvidia, and that's the way the market goes. Are we just not not looking at it the right way? 

Ben Laidler  14:32  
Well, okay, so I'm gonna contradict myself. So this has been a very fundamentally driven rally, right. Nvidia earnings or revenues or children 40% last quarter. You know, in some ways, you know, the stocks just moved up with the bottom line earnings. That being said, you know, the level of concentration is very high. The Magnificent Seven is, you know, nearly a third of the s&p 500 it's, you know, briefly it was the world's biggest stock. They've only be 12 of those historically in the s&p 500. And if you cast your mind down that list of who used to be the world's biggest stock, it's slightly sobering. It tells you that, you know, you don't stay there forever. You know, you do get competed away, you do stumble. I mean, it's, you know, 18 t, Cisco, IBM, DuPont, you know, GM General Electric, you know, it's a real list of how the mighty have fallen. Now, I'm not saying that's gonna happen to Nvidia, but it is a little bit of reality check that, you know, a 3.3 trillion company, which is up 140% This year, that's not gonna happen again, period, this is not going to be a 7 trillion company this time next year. So, so this is a long winded way of saying I would like to see this rally broaden, I fully expect it to broaden, as interest rate cuts come as economies sort of maybe stabilized in the US accelerate in the rest of the world. I think these more economically sensitive interest rate sensitive, sort of cheaper sectors and bits of the world will perform a lot better. And I and tech will be fine. But I think the leadership will change. I think that will be welcomed by most people as a sort of healthy events. And I think that's probably going to be the story for the second half of the year. 

Andrew Brill  16:21  
I want to touch on energy for a minute, because we do need energy to power AI. And we saw the same thing. And there's been a lot of talk about it. Look, you know, we need data centers, we need power to power this. They're talking about uranium and all this stuff to power the AI that we're all going to use. The question becomes, we saw the same thing in the dot com bubble, oh, everybody's going to need a computer, everybody's going to be on the internet, we need the power. But then that sort of you know, there was that peak, and then it kind of dropped off a cliff, are we looking at the same thing here, as far as power goes for AI? 

Ben Laidler  16:57  
So we're certainly having an explosion of data center activity. It's helped make utilities surprisingly, one of the best sector performers, you know, so far this year, despite being perceived as defensive, despite has been sort of race sensitive, it's done very well. The International Energy agencies out there saying that datacenter demand is going to go from two to 3% of total electricity demand to sort of double that over the next two, three years, which is basically a New Japan that, you know, chat GPT uses 10 times as much power for a search as Google does, you know, so there's all these sort of supportive stats out there. So I think you know, that demand is coming. I think what we miss is, is a couple of things. So one, you know, there will be efficiencies. Along the way, there will be new ways of doing things along the way. I'm not sure we can just extrapolate things forward a and b, in terms of the market impact. I think, just going back to your dot com sort of analogy. Where we got it wrong in the dot com was on the valuations not on the fundamentals, basically everything we said on the fundamentals of the internet, becoming a thing and taking over the world and driving revenues and everything else. All happened. We were just grotesquely overpaying for is, you know, Cisco 110 times you know, if that's your Nvidia comparison back then and video, Peter sorry, Cisco peaked at 110 times price earnings ratio, and it's never recovered, even though revenues are up seven or eight times. So the revenues delivered but valuation was wrong. And that's what's different sort of this time round. You know, I think we AI is moved from hype to reality, you're seeing that in the numbers. And we're certainly not overpaying for it yet. I mean, in video, which is the sort of poster child is what 45 times PE, absolutely not cheap. But neither is on those, you know, stratospheric valuations we saw back in, in, boom and bust. 

Andrew Brill  18:48  
Is there other sectors that you guys are keeping an eye on that you think will be, you know, up and coming or doing really well? And look, energy has been doing really well, you know, quarter after quarter? Are there other sectors? And we know that there's some sectors that are lagging that are that are not doing as well. So it's, you know, and I've made the analogy where, you know, you can say that some sectors of the economy are in a recession, but some are really doing well. So you almost have to look at it sector by sector. Are there other sectors you guys are looking at and evaluate and say, you know, maybe this is up and coming? Or maybe we're onto something here? Or maybe this is going to drop? 

Ben Laidler  19:25  
Yeah, so I think there's two angles. So one is the sort of secular growth theme, which is all all things related to AI. I think the AI when we're in the early innings, you know, all the focus on the picks and shovels like video right now. But over time as adoption builds, as the use cases get developed, that will absolutely broaden out and that will go across the rest of tech into into software. It'll deepen into utilities, it'll go into industrials, it'll broaden right out. That's one. The other one I sort of touched on this earlier is basically all the assets we've forgotten about in the last 10 to 15 years. So places like Europe, places like China sectors like industrials, financials, real estate, these things that are interest rate sensitive or economically sensitive and are trading on much cheaper than average through valuations. I think as we move into the second half of the year, as we get this economic pickup with lower interest rates, I think I think you're gonna get a big sort of cyclical pickup and revisiting of some of these sectors, which, you know, many people haven't looked at in, you know, in a decade.

Andrew Brill  20:34  
Before I asked you about oil, the numbers that are coming out this week consumer confidence, are there any expectations is, you know, are you guys thinking, you know, these are going to be good numbers at the PCE, the jobless claims, those sorts of things. What is your what is the outlook? Do you guys look at that and say, okay, you know, here's where we think it's going to come in. 

Ben Laidler  20:55  
Some of this, I think, is on autopilot. I think the consumer, which, you know, you're right to focus on because it's, you know, the engine of, you know, the US and many other economies, I think is in, you know, healthy shape. We're seeing real wage growth, we're seeing 200,000 new jobs. But, you know, there is there was some stress under the surface, I fully expect that to keep slowly easing, and unless we get a big downside surprise, I think that trajectory is sort of, you know, baked, but again, you know, that's the driver of the US economy, or PCE inflation. Inflation is the most important number in markets. It drives everything from, you know, the interest rate outlook, through to, you know, the recession risks through to what valuations we're going to pay on markets. So, PCE has been a lot better behaved, and it's calculated differently in the headline number, but I think we're looking for, you know, another number below 3%. And I think I think that is enough to keep the door open to rate cuts this year, which again, I think is all this needed. I think there's some big technical numbers of just Friday's also the footsie Russell rebalance, which is probably going to be the biggest volume day of the year, in the in the US. So I think those are the three or four things we're watching. Well, there's really sorry. The other things happening on Friday, I think, on Thursday is the first presidential debates, which is coming much earlier than expected. And I do think that's going to be a source of volatility through to the election. 

Andrew Brill  22:21  
It's a thankless job being Fed chairman and being in a Fed governor, do you think that they've done a good job, it seems that they've done okay, you know, inflation was a 9%. Now, it's, it's creeping down a little bit below three, they want to get into that too. And you think they've done a good job here. 

Ben Laidler  22:37  
They've done an ok job to your point thankless task, and they're dealing with, you know, an unprecedented situation, I wouldn't want to give too much credit for bringing inflation down to here. I'm not sure the tightness of monetary policy has had an awful lot to do with that. I think a lot of this has been supply chain normalization and big pickup in US productivity, but I'll certainly give them some credit. But I think, you know, job is half done. They need to, you know, it's the last hard yards that last 1%, A and B, they're still gonna thread that needle of getting that timing right, and engineering that soft landing. So I don't know, I'd probably give them a B+, like a B, maybe B+.

Andrew Brill  23:22  
I was when you were about to say it. I was like, Hey, he's gonna go with about a B here. So we're, I guess we're on the same page. But what about the the deficit? I mean, we're looking at over $35 trillion. I think within the next few days, there's another there's another bond auction, the two year the 10 year, I believe, maybe even a five year in there. And the prices are in the upper fours at this point. So if you're on fixed income, and you have money put away you say, okay, you know what, maybe this isn't so bad, I know what I'm getting. But there's gonna come a point where these bond auctions are going to fail, because they need to raise so much money. And this is going to be a huge problem for us. 

Ben Laidler  24:07  
So it's a problem. I don't think it becomes a market problem. Until it does, and that sounds flippant, but, you know, the absolute numbers are not too terrifying, you know, US debt to GDP 120%. There are plenty of places in the world, mostly Europe, certainly Japan that have much higher numbers than that. But your point, I think it's a the direction of travel, that we're running that sort of deficit 6% of GDP when the economy is frankly booming. And you don't normally see these deficits outside of, you know, recession. So that's a concern and be, you know, we're about to go into an election. neither candidate is addressing this. Well, neither party neither Congress is addressing this. And what this means is ultimately the market will address it, and the bond vigilantes will see a comeback and they will address it. The struggle you know, is that tomorrow? Or is that in 10 years time? I, I can't answer that. But I definitely think it's one of these sort of tail risks you need to, you need to be thinking about, and it's absolutely a government problem. When we've basically seen corporates and consumers, you know, D leverage over the last sort of five to 10 years. It's, you know, government is the one that's still there with its with its checkbook open. And, again, if they're not going to close it, the market, ultimately will will close it for them. 

Andrew Brill  25:07  
I find myself wanting to ask you which president or which which candidate is better for bringing this deficit down. But it actually Trump started the spending, Biden continued to spending, we had COVID in there, that forced us to spend a little bit more. So I don't think either candidate is going to put the checkbook away and say, Oh, no, we have to we have to deal with this at this point. 

Ben Laidler  25:54  
I mean, thats obviously right.

Andrew Brill  25:57  
So let's talk about world events, I guess. And the price of oil, few weeks ago was around $75 a barrel. Now it's just under 82, I believe. I think that's a that's a good range, as long as it doesn't pop above 85. But given the geopolitical environment we're in? Do you see oil becoming a problem? And we I know that that's one thing that can trigger a recession is, is high energy prices? What are your thoughts on, you know, the price of oil where it could be going in the geopolitical situation?

Ben Laidler  26:32  
So I think these are good prices for everybody. I think if you're an oil company, and Brent at $5, you would never say in public, but you know, these are fantastic prices for you. And if you're a consumer, I think anything below $90 You can sort of live with. We've seen, though, when oil goes above $90. Brent, how quickly consumers and industrial users sort of really respond. So I think we're sort of stuck in this range. You know, the global economy demand is sort of recovering. I think that puts some upward pressure on prices. But you know, users have shown us how sensitive they are to higher prices, and OPEC sitting out there holding back 5% of demand or 5% supply from the market. And I just think, you know, the higher prices go, the more you're just gonna see this sort of splintering of OPEC. So I guess I'm in this camp of sort of high but not high prices. And if we do go higher, it's sort of become self correcting, because OPEC sort of begins to splinter a little bit and some of that production, some of that supply comes back and demand. We just see, you know, consumers driving less, we drive that to renewables transition even faster. 

Andrew Brill  27:49  
Yeah, we are in the summer driving season. But it doesn't seem that the gas prices here and as oil goes gas prices, as soon as you hear about an uptick in oil, even though that price doesn't hit the market for a while in terms of gasoline, because it has to be refined, and all that just seems Oh, oil went up. Yeah, we're gonna raise gas prices, they beat the market in that respect. So I don't know... and I leave it up to you guys, as the experts is where you think gas prices will go and oil prices are headed at this point. 

Ben Laidler  28:20  
Listen it's certainly something that keeps us up at night. You know, we are in this stickier inflation environment. The last thing we need is a spike in in oil, or to your point a spike in consumer inflation expectations. And this is the one variable because, you know, we drive past it, we drive past the gas station every day. And we it's literally up there in sort of flashing lights. You know, that correlation is very tight. And the politicians know it, which is why, you know, we're talking about potentially selling more out of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even though there's almost nothing left. Because you know, we're into election season, we're into the driving season, you know, gas, gas prices matter. So I do think it's going to be self correcting. It's I don't worry about it too much. But, you know, it's one of these variables that we I think we need to be sort of humble around. 

Andrew Brill  29:10  
I know that here in the US. It's a lot lower than what you guys are paying per litre over in the UK for sure. So I guess we have to count our lucky stars. I want to ask you about the presidential election. Obviously, we mentioned the first debate coming up this week. What are people saying overseas? What is the view overseas about all this? 

Ben Laidler  29:32  
People see it as very important, and I think rightly so. We have really had a year I mean, this was this was always going to be the year of elections. And it's really lived up to that we've had a lot of surprises India, Mexico, France, South Africa, most of those negative surprises. And I think that makes us even more healthily concerned about the US. And I think the reasons the reason we're concerned about the US. You know, it's 65% of global equity markets, you know, not too far away, you know, that sort of dominance of FX markets and bond markets. So it's completely supersize anything that happens in the US, you know, reverberates around the world. It's going to be a very tight election, if you believe the polls, and there are significant policy differences, I think between, you know, between the candidates, and with the first debate starting on Friday, you know, this sort of political race, at least in terms of the consciousness of the average investor, or average voter is starting earlier. So, I think at a minimum, this is going to drive an increase in volatility, you know, over the summer. I would hope that ultimately, it doesn't derail markets, that these are the two best known presidential candidates, basically, in US political history. So I would hope that markets are a little bit sort of forearms and prepared for sort of what's coming. So I guess I still see the glass as sort of half full I think we're gonna get some volatility, but I don't think it's going to derail the market. 

Andrew Brill  31:11  
So I want to ask you about cryptocurrency before I leave you I know you guys are into cryptocurrency, we saw it look earlier in the year was probably around 26,000, around around that number with jumped over 70,000. Now it's right around 60. It's the volatility that you're talking about. But that's the nature of cryptocurrency. Where do you see this going? And, you know, it's not going anywhere. But at this point, I guess it trades like an equity. And is it there is possibility of cryptocurrency becoming more mainstream? 

Ben Laidler  31:46  
I think that's the long term story. And I think if you're bullish, that's why you're bullish. This is, you know, the youngest, smallest and most retail owned of all the asset classes. And if you believe as I do that we're at the early stage of this sort of gradual adoption cycle that should drive value over time. We've seen the Bitcoin ETF this year, we have the ethereum ETFs coming. We've had the Bitcoin halving, we have a number of institutionalization landmarks coming, we have regulations coming at the end of the year, which are going to make it easier for US companies to own crypto and basically none of them do today, we have global regulations coming making it easier for banks to own crypto on the first of January next year. So I think all this is just part of this gradual institutionalization. I've absolutely no idea where crypto is gonna be the next days, weeks months. But I think that long term story remains remains very positive. And despite all this volatility, it was the best performing asset class last year, it's the best performing asset class this year. You need to manage that volatility. Diversification is the only sort of free lunch in finance. And that applies in spades to the crypto but I think I think the long term outlook remains pretty positive. 

Andrew Brill  33:09  
Obviously, all these things you mentioned, are vehicles and avenues for crypto to be adopted as a currency, if you will, is you see it getting there? Obviously, you're bullish on crypto, and you think it's going to get there. But it's going to be a few years, if not longer down the road. 

Ben Laidler  33:30  
I think this is always two steps forward, sort of one step back. But you know, I do think you had a big step forward this year. I mean, the Bitcoin ETFs, which make it easier for people to own crypto in the world's biggest capital market, as we just sort of talked about, you've seen 15 billion of inflows into bitcoin so far this year. That's going to come for etherium. You've had, you know, sort of orange lights given by the SEC. So I think that's fully coming. And as I say, I think you'll have a lot more of these catalysts still to come. Companies basically don't use crypto today. The regulations will make that easier. Banks been very nervous. I think that will change. Ultimately, I think you'll see a central bank confessing to owning sort of Bitcoin as part of it sort of currency reserves. I think gold is what 15% of gold global currency reserves, you know, right now. So I guess what I find, you know, again, bitcoins been around or crypto has been around for only 10 years. This is a tiny asset class in global perspective, it's dominated by retail investors today. I just think there's so many different avenues that this could sort of develop over time. 

Andrew Brill  34:38  
Ben, thank you so much sum up, it's hanging on to your hat where we're due for some volatility, but you think the markets will do well, for at least the rest of this year? 

Ben Laidler  34:48  
I do. I think this is very fundamentally supported. The twin pillars here, earnings are recovering, rate cuts are coming and there's a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines that missed the start of this rally. I think we're in the early innings of a bull market. You know, the average is five years 150%. What a couple of years in? I think, again, I think this is very fundamentally supported and we have a long way to go. 

Andrew Brill  35:13  
Thank you so much. But Ben where can we find you on social media and read more about your work? 

Ben Laidler  35:19  
Sure you can find me at or on Twitter Ben underscore laidler.

Andrew Brill  35:24  
Excellent. But thanks so much. appreciate having you. And we look forward to seeing you again soon. 

Ben Laidler  35:29  
Fantastic. Thank you. 

Andrew Brill  35:30  
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