How do you say déjà vu in Spanish?

Actions will speak louder than the words for Latin America’s populists in 2018. Nearly two out of three Latin Americans will choose a new leader over the next 12 months. Chile and Honduras have kicked off the year-long cycle. Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay and possibly Venezuela will follow next year. Observers are worried … Continue reading “How do you say déjà vu in Spanish?”

The changing shape of the world economy

Sometimes as an investor it is a good idea to look at the big picture and the long term view. It is easy getting involved in day to day or week by week movements and topical controversies. Much of this is just noise in the system, a temporary high or a short term disappointment. The … Continue reading “The changing shape of the world economy”

Artificial intelligence: finding opportunities amid the rise of the machines

As artificial intelligence (AI) moves from the realms of fantasy to reality, it brings both opportunities and threats for investors in 2018. The possibilities of AI were underscored in 2015 when Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo program triumphed over the reigning world champion in Go, a Chinese board game of profound complexity. In 2017, DeepMind announced that … Continue reading “Artificial intelligence: finding opportunities amid the rise of the machines”

Call of the city – how investors can profit from urbanisation

When we think about urbanisation, we often conjure images of newly constructed skyscrapers in Asia or rapidly-growing cities in South America or Africa. Indeed, the proportion of the world’s population living in towns and cities is forecast to increase from just over half today to two thirds by 2050 (source United Nations). Most of this … Continue reading “Call of the city – how investors can profit from urbanisation”

Can European politics damage the euro?

It is often fashionable to worry about European politics as newer parties of the right, left and centre emerge to challenge the economic orthodoxy of the Eurozone. We saw this at its most spectacular in Greece, where Syriza swept aside the old parties and gained a majority in a proportional system designed to make that … Continue reading “Can European politics damage the euro?”

Farewell to 2017

Is it better to travel than to arrive?  The US share market has done well this year.  It has been in fitful anticipation of tax cuts to come.  As the old year draws to a close the tax cuts have as we expected taken legislative form. The US growth rate has risen, exceeding 3% as … Continue reading “Farewell to 2017”

China points to the financial future

Last time I was in Beijing, I stopped to buy some sausages from a street vendor outside the Forbidden City.  They cost only a couple of yuan, yet the lady selling them was happy to take payment on her phone using the Alipay app. I don’t know what she did with the proceeds. But she … Continue reading “China points to the financial future”

Keeping the faith: now is not the time to abandon inflation targets

Monetary policy is at an inflection point. The extraordinary support from central banks is being gradually scaled back as economies improve and financial markets remain calm. Yet investors remain sceptical about how much central banks will raise interest rates by, because inflation remains stubbornly low across most of the advanced world. Historically, declining unemployment has … Continue reading “Keeping the faith: now is not the time to abandon inflation targets”

Exchanges and the companies quoted on them – surely it’s different this time?

Although it is not the oldest stock exchange in the world, the London Stock Exchange can trace its lineage back more than 300 years. The earliest stockbrokers were debarred from London’s centre of commerce, the Royal Exchange, because of rowdiness. Instead, they began to congregate at Jonathan’s Coffee-House on Change Alley. Here, one of the … Continue reading “Exchanges and the companies quoted on them – surely it’s different this time?”

US tax cuts: do the sums add up?

The US Senate recently passed its tax bill supporting the Trump administration’s tax reform measures, which call for a $1.5 trillion net tax stimulus. Supporters of these tax cuts have argued they will result in stronger economic growth, as did the tax cuts of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and George W Bush in the … Continue reading “US tax cuts: do the sums add up?”

Outlook 2018: Another good year for investors?

As investors look ahead to a new year, they could be forgiven for wondering whether they will be as pleasantly surprised in 2018 as they were in 2017. A number of political worries on the horizon this time last year signally failed to materialise, including the likely shape of President Trump’s trade policies, the rise … Continue reading “Outlook 2018: Another good year for investors?”

Signal or noise? Political risk in 2018

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Terrorism. Populism. A newly emboldened Russia. The world is an unsettled place, but financial markets are relatively calm. A few factors could yet jolt them. US equity markets have generated significant gains over the last year, despite the headlines speculating over possible Russian interference in the US presidential election, … Continue reading “Signal or noise? Political risk in 2018”

UK inflation breaches the BoE’s upper target

Higher food and energy prices have put further pressure on households ahead of the festive period. UK annual consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose to 3.1% in November – its highest rate since March 2012 and, more significantly, breaching the Bank of England’s upper target of 3%. The latest figures were higher than consensus expectations … Continue reading “UK inflation breaches the BoE’s upper target”

Where should investors look for opportunities in 2018?

After a turbo-charged 2017 investors have become nervous of a market sell-off. Among the signs: technology stocks have wobbled recently; high yield corporate bond spreads – the risk premium corporate bonds provide over government bonds – have narrowed to levels not seen since the financial crisis; and speculation has driven a bitcoin frenzy. But while … Continue reading “Where should investors look for opportunities in 2018?”

Why do some people like Bitcoin?

This week the Chicago Board Options Exchange allowed trading in Bitcoin futures. There has been great interest in the Bitcoin phenomenon all year, leading up to this partial recognition of it by the authorities. Those who had some money to spare for a high risk adventure have been able to do well from buying Bitcoin. … Continue reading “Why do some people like Bitcoin?”