How to survive a zombie company apocalypse

Zombie companies do exist but are not staffed by people that behave like extras in the “Walking Dead”. Actually, a zombie company is a technical term for a business which, if it is not yet numbered among the undead, is only earning just enough cash to pay the interest on its borrowings. It does not … Continue reading “How to survive a zombie company apocalypse”

Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout

Once again, markets are roiling. As with so many sell-offs, this is a story of pressure building steadily until it must vent. Volatile markets are here to stay, but the next few weeks will tell us whether this episode is a sign of something more ominous to come or just another bump in the road. … Continue reading “Panic not: earnings season matters more than the current rout”

Europe’s struggle to break free

At the start of 2018, it looked likely that interest rates could start to rise across Europe, signalling the end of the necessary post-crisis readjustment in the financial sector. However, as is often the case, the themes that drive markets at the start of the year can often be forgotten by the end. As 2018 … Continue reading “Europe’s struggle to break free”

Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis

Ten years ago, the demise of Lehman Brothers marked the height of the financial crisis. At the time, I was an economist at one of the UK’s largest financial institutions. Working there gave me abundant insights into the psychological biases at play, both in that institution and in the companies that it supported. Many of … Continue reading “Hubris and Nemesis: insights into the financial crisis”

Doom Loop

The most likely candidate for the next ‘Lehman moment’ is in Europe. In some ways the regulatory response that followed in the years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been a success. The days of racy balance sheets chasing outsized profits on wafer thin capital are largely over; replaced by a mantra of prudence … Continue reading “Doom Loop”

The growing role of China and India in emerging market bonds

Diversification across asset classes has become an essential part of investing for the long term. Investors are increasingly looking further afield to deepen their portfolio diversification and lower total risk as they seek attractive returns. The EMD asset class will continue to see strong growth and we believe that China and India will become increasingly … Continue reading “The growing role of China and India in emerging market bonds”

What can we learn from the shape of the yield curve?

Surveys of investors show a distinct degree of nervousness this summer. One reason may be President Trump’s propensity for off-the-cuff Twitter activity, taking aim at Turkey, NATO, and Iran, the global trading system or any of his other enemies. Another explanation is rather more technical – prosaic, even. But it also illustrates how caution about … Continue reading “What can we learn from the shape of the yield curve?”

Emerging markets: increasing or decreasing risks?

So far, 2018 has been a difficult year for emerging market (EM) assets, which in the last few months have fared significantly worse than their counterparts in developed markets. This has been due mainly to worldwide issues but also country-specific political uncertainty. Many investors are now asking if the sell-off presents a buying opportunity – … Continue reading “Emerging markets: increasing or decreasing risks?”

Globalisation – Nothing new under the sun

There is nothing new about geopolitics. Geography – both physical and human – has influenced politics and international relations for centuries, even millennia. But the nature of geopolitical risk has changed over time. During the Cold War, geopolitical risks for Western governments and the corporate world were focused on Moscow’s motivations and behaviour, the possibility … Continue reading “Globalisation – Nothing new under the sun”

Bordering on a Customs Union

Since the start of this year, the UK political consensus has moved towards a customs union for goods, including agricultural trade, in the final UK-European Union (EU) free trade agreement. This is largely the result of the EU’s rejection of the UK’s alternative proposals to solve the Irish border issue and the Labour party making … Continue reading “Bordering on a Customs Union”

The IMF and World Bank must evolve to remain relevant

It is hard to square a US President bent on protectionism with two institutions that have been a bulwark for free trade for over 70 years. The Bretton Woods institutions, as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are known collectively, were created during the Second World War to support the post-war economic and … Continue reading “The IMF and World Bank must evolve to remain relevant”

What causes recessions, and can we predict them?

The US economic expansion has just become the second longest on record. If it continues beyond mid-2019, it will be number one. Its longevity is probably due to a mixture of circumstances, judgement and luck. The severity of the recession following the global financial crisis (GFC), coupled with the slowness of the subsequent recovery, has … Continue reading “What causes recessions, and can we predict them?”

Many of pension freedoms’ true challenges yet to surface

I sat open-mouthed in the House of Commons four years ago as George Osborne announced the end of a national retirement system based on annuities. Three years on from the law change, several trends are clear. Overall, we remain in what I call ‘Income Drawdown’s Phoney War’: as long as the vast majority of retirees … Continue reading “Many of pension freedoms’ true challenges yet to surface”

Why I need a financial adviser

Combining risk frameworks with appropriate asset allocation is no mean feat. Economists call them “teachable moments” – life events which make us think more about long-term financial planning. Until my 40th birthday, I barely thought of my mortality. But since then I have barely thought of anything else. A major birthday milestone, combined with the … Continue reading “Why I need a financial adviser”

Property investors are in need of some retail therapy

Many would say that high street retailing is dead. The reality is that no high streets have truly perished and very few will be completely wiped out. Yet many are undoubtedly shadows of their former selves, most will never be the same again, and relatively few could be considered in fine fettle. The global financial … Continue reading “Property investors are in need of some retail therapy”