Trump’s tariffs

Last week, the White House announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum of 25% and 10% respectively – a move that sparked global indignation and threats of a trade war. But tariffs are more common than you may imagine. Almost every US president since Ronald Reagan has announced a tariff of one kind or another. … Continue reading “Trump’s tariffs”

Italian election yields a bitter stalemate

Italy is not usually known for its political stability, so the results of its general election come as no surprise. The bitter and divisive contest yielded no overall winner, but the swing towards populist extremist parties could be a concern. Based on exit polls, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement appears to be the single biggest … Continue reading “Italian election yields a bitter stalemate”

The changing face of world shares

How the composition of the S&P 500 has changed and how crucial the technology giants are to the bull market? The US market represents more than one half of the total quoted wealth in world shares. It is, however, a very different pattern of wealth holdings from previous decades, reflecting the huge changes underway in … Continue reading “The changing face of world shares”

Time to revisit the Italian election

Markets have been relaxed about the Italian election.1 Last year it was on the investment radar as a potential risk to the euro and the Eurozone, with the Five Star movement leading in the polls and expressing scepticism about the single currency. As they did well so the new leadership of Five Star toned down … Continue reading “Time to revisit the Italian election”

Will the US infrastructure plan be effective?

The United States (US) presidential plan is to raise $1.5trn to $1.7trn to spend on US infrastructure over the course of the next ten years. The proposed plan aims to restructure the permitting process, which is currently inefficient and may have actually disincentivised investment efforts. Where is the money coming from and what will it … Continue reading “Will the US infrastructure plan be effective?”

The “Big Tech” backlash: How sustainable are Google, Facebook and Amazon?

The soaring scale, wealth and influence of the internet giants have led to growing scrutiny from society and regulators. Could their wings finally be clipped? In recent months it has felt like the tide is turning against big tech. Google has been fined for market abuse in the EU. Silicon Valley heads have been hauled … Continue reading “The “Big Tech” backlash: How sustainable are Google, Facebook and Amazon?”

Forces of nature: the emerging solar and wind revolution

In north-western China’s arid Tengger desert lies a spectacular city. Not one of buildings but solar panels, and millions of them. This “Great Wall of Solar” covers 1,200km2 – only 100km2 less than Los Angeles. It is the latest development in China’s aspiration to be the world’s leader in solar power. The renewables revolution is … Continue reading “Forces of nature: the emerging solar and wind revolution”

The US Congress holds the purse strings and wishes to loosen them

In theory the President sets out a budget in February and the Congress responds with a Budget resolution in May. In practice the Congress runs the budget, and has just passed a two year budget deal regardless of the White House proposals that crossed in the post with their decisions. President Trump’s wish to cut … Continue reading “The US Congress holds the purse strings and wishes to loosen them”

A spot of turbulence

Global markets hit a rough patch in early February. Equity markets sold off, commodities softened, credit spreads widened and capital flowed out of emerging markets as volatility bounced back sharply. There have been a range of explanations offered for this dislocation, from jitters over rising inflation to concerns that rising term premia could snuff out … Continue reading “A spot of turbulence”

What Goes Up…

Some investors may be shocked that stockmarkets can go down considering the extended bull run we have seen in financial markets over the last couple of years. However, given that, as we write, major benchmark market indices are generally showing a decline of around 5% (in local currency terms) for the month; in context, this … Continue reading “What Goes Up…”

The US budget should help economic growth

The Trump administration White House has set out its preferred budget for 2019. It is likely the House and Senate will wish to tone down its dramatic proposals. The President’s wish is to boost military and veterans expenditure substantially, whilst cutting back hard on various other departments and programmes. A 13% increase in defence is … Continue reading “The US budget should help economic growth”

A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth

The 10% depreciation of the trade-weighted US dollar over the past year is an underappreciated driver of the synchronised upswing in world trade and global economic growth. That’s because movements in the US dollar have global consequences above and beyond movements in any other currency – dollar appreciation tends to crimp global trade and credit … Continue reading “A weak dollar is a tailwind for global growth”

What does a normal interest rate look like?

Markets have been worried that interest rates in the west are heading back to normal in a hurry. If rates go too high too soon they could damage the recovery and do more harm to shares. As the West agonises over the pace of putting up interest rates and winding down special monetary measures, the … Continue reading “What does a normal interest rate look like?”

UK interest rate rises to be earlier and greater than expected

Latest comments from the Bank of England (BoE) and its governor Mark Carney indicate that UK interest rates are likely to go up sooner and faster than previously expected.  UK policymakers’ concerns about inflation have prompted Schroders’ economists to bring forward to November their expectations of a rise in interest rates. Schroders’ Senior European Economist … Continue reading “UK interest rate rises to be earlier and greater than expected”

A healthy correction?

The phrase “healthy correction” is one of the most frequently used in the investment lexicon. It has been ubiquitous over the past few days as a descriptor of the significant falls in global markets. It is also a phrase that has puzzled me over the years. As to “healthy”? Falls of over 4% in a … Continue reading “A healthy correction?”