New Fed chair Powell raises rates, growth and inflation forecasts

As expected the Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25 basis points at the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The move increases the target range for the federal funds rate from 1.25%-1.5% to 1.5-1.75%. At his first FOMC meeting, new Fed chair Jerome Powell also announced that the committee is pushing up … Continue reading “New Fed chair Powell raises rates, growth and inflation forecasts”

Trade deficits and tariff wars

President Trump believes that if you are running a large deficit it should be easy to “win” a trade war. The problem with this argument is the EU and China may decide to engage. In 2016 the US ran a deficit of $505bn on trade in goods and services, according to the World Bank. Germany … Continue reading “Trade deficits and tariff wars”

Why UK-focused stocks look their cheapest in a decade

Uncertainty about the country’s long-term relationship with the European Union, its biggest trading partner, has left many international investors nervous about investing in UK companies. One recent poll showed that UK stocks were the least popular asset class among global fund managers. I disagree. I can see bright spots in the UK stockmarket that offer … Continue reading “Why UK-focused stocks look their cheapest in a decade”

Blue skies for communist China?

China is attempting to develop a more rounded and richer economy, with more coming from services and higher value added activities – a difficult balancing act. China’s achievement under President Xi, as under his immediate predecessors, has been impressive. According to the World Bank China now has the world’s largest economy as measured in Purchasing … Continue reading “Blue skies for communist China?”

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”