#65 - Emil van Essen - “The Days of $80 Oil - That's a Long Way Away"

58 minutes

In Episode 65, we welcome CTA and commodities expert, Emil van Essen.

Meb starts with a fun bit of trivia – if you mesh his and Emil’s name, coming up with “Emil Faber,” can you guess in which movie that name appears?

It turns out it’s from the classic comedy, Animal House. “Emil Faber” was the founder of the movie’s “Faber College” and under his statue was his quote, “Knowledge is good.”

After Emil gives us a bit about his background, the guys jump into the deep end. Emil trades managed futures, and while most people think “trend following” when they hear “managed futures,” there are other styles. Emil tells us about a style he uses often, spread trading.

Emil looks at the term structure in commodities futures contracts. There’s a price for every month going out in time. You can trade the differences between those months (calendar spreads). He also trades relative value and roll arb. Emil likes these strategies because there’s tons of alpha available.

Meb pauses to explain a bit for any listeners who are less familiar with all this. He explains exposure to the futures markets, using oil as an example. This leads into a discussion about the growth of commodities markets. Back in the 2000s, commodities went from being just a product to an investment vehicle. So the powers that be created indices and various commodities products to meet this demand. Investments in commodities exploded, driving up prices. 

This dovetails into what Meb calls “one of the dirty secrets of indexing,” which is how many indices can be front-run. Meb tells us how, for some 1.0 commodities indices, the slippage was in the order of 3-4% per year.

Meb then asks Emil to describe what he looks at when establishing a position. Is it fundamental? Technical? Emil tell us it’s very important that you use both, because “you have to understand the fundamentals because things change.”

Next is a great conversation about front-running trend followers. This is something that Emil does. He knows that if there’s a big move, the trend followers are likely all on the same side of the position, so when it comes time to roll the front month, and Emil generally knows when that will happen, Emil takes advantage of the price movement. Meb and Emil then discuss the easiest way to implement this strategy.

A bit later, the guys discuss what themes/positions Emil is interested in right now. He tells us how there has recently been a shortage in gasoline, so gas has been running up against crude oil. It’s at high levels now, and Emil thinks it’ll come down. Emil also tells us that he’s looking at grains, the energy markets, and certain metals including platinum and palladium.

This leads into a discussion on oil. Meb asks Emil’s take on the industry.

Emil gives us some great background on what drove oil up so high, and why it crashed. Then he discusses the technological revolution in oil drilling, the result of which is that the cost of finding and developing oil has collapsed. There are some great details in here which oil investors won’t want to miss, but Emil wraps up this part of the conversation by saying “the days of $80 oil – that’s a long way away.”

Meb then asks what areas of commodities Emil likes right now. Emil tells us his thoughts on at what level crude is buy. And he mentions a certain metal which he considers a “no brainer.” You’ll have to listen for the details.

There’s way more in this episode: how Emil views gold in light of new cryptocurrencies… A Twitter poll Meb conducted that reveals just how stubborn some investors can be when it comes to selling out of overvalued equities… Where Emil has seen the most investors make the biggest mistakes over his 25+ year career… The dangerous false belief that “we’ve seen this before” in the markets, and how computerized investing is taking us into uncharted waters… And finally, Emil’s most memorable trade (which was a loser that will get your blood racing).

What are the details? Find out in Episode 65.

More episodes from The Meb Faber Show

#251 - Robert Jacobson, Space Advisors - It’s Not Just One Vertical, It’s More Like An Ecosystem With Lots Of Different Dependencies…The High Ground of Space Being The Overarching Theme

In episode 251 we welcome our guest, Robert Jacobson, entrepreneur, advisor, and founder of Space Advisors, a strategic consulting firm for space …

#250 - Kevin Gibbon, Airhouse - We’re The Operations And Logistics Platform For Direct-To-Consumer, Digital-First Brands

In episode 250 we welcome our guest, Kevin Gibbon, co-founder and CEO of Airhouse. In today’s episode, we’re talking about easing the frustration of shipping, operations and logistics for …

#249 - Ben Savage, Clocktower Technology Ventures - Financial Services Has Had A Smaller Share Of Venture Capital Dollars Pointed At It…Since The Inception Of The Venture Capital Industry

In episode 249 we welcome our guest, Ben Savage, Partner at Clocktower Technology Ventures. In today’s episode, we’re diving into VC and innovation …

The Best Investment Writing Volume 4: Anil Rao and Raman Subramanian, MSCI – Game of Homes: Is winter coming for the domestic-equity bias?

Last year we brought listeners the entire volume of The Best Investment Writing Volume 3, in audio format, right here on the podcast. Listeners loved …

#248 - JC Parets, All Star Charts - The Sooner We Can Find Out We’re Wrong The Better…Then We Can Go Move On To Something Else

In episode 248 we welcome our guest, JC Parets, Founder and Chief Strategist of All Star Charts. In today’s episode, we’re talking technical analysis, and what’s going on in the markets …

#247 - David Oates, Curtsy - Our Number One Best Selling Item To-Date Is Active Wear…Lululemon Leggings, Lululemon Shorts, Nike Shorts

In episode 247 we welcome our guest, David Oates, CEO and Co-Founder of Curtsy. In today’s episode, we’re talking about running a company completely designed around making it easy for …

How you can listen to this podcast

You can listen to episodes right here on the website, or if you prefer, in a podcast app. Listening in an app makes it easier to keep track of what you’ve already heard, listen without using your data plan and many other conveniences.

Recommended apps
Start listening to #125 - Tom Barton - The Biggest Problem Investors Have is Things Change...and They Don't Change
1:24:56
Start listening to #125 - Tom Barton - The Biggest Problem Investors Have is Things Change...and They Don't Change
1:24:56