The Middle East stirs some old worries

America is intensifying its policy against Iran in the Gulf, and challenging more EU policy over Iran and energy as well as trade. Donald Trump has spent the last week moving markets. His decision to push back hard on China before agreeing a trade deal led to sharp sell offs in the Shanghai market and … Continue reading “The Middle East stirs some old worries”

Trump’s bid to take on the EU could crush the German economy

The EU’s Trade Commissioner held out an olive branch to Donald Trump last week as the bloc tries to prevent tariffs being put on the auto sector – but the move looks likely to fail. An escalating trade dispute between Brussels and Washington now appears inevitable – and Germany will feel most of the pain … Continue reading “Trump’s bid to take on the EU could crush the German economy”

Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative a threat to the West?

China’s “New Silk Road” aims to improve trade between Asia and Europe, but the growing influence of Beijing and its tactics around debt have got hawks in Washington worried. They argue that China is using its wealth to buy influence across the world – and are preparing for a decades-long fight for economic supremacy and … Continue reading “Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative a threat to the West?”

Japan gets into party mood – how will markets respond?

Japan had been fighting deflation for years since the great crash of its banks and property market thirty years ago. An ageing population saves a lot. Population numbers are falling so GDP will not grow as quickly as in places like the US and UK where migration adds to the numbers. Companies are worried about … Continue reading “Japan gets into party mood – how will markets respond?”

Will France cut taxes in response to protests?

For 21 weeks now, the Gilets Jaunes have taken to the streets of French cities to protest. It began as a demonstration against high and rising fuel taxes. These tax increases hit families getting children to school and the adults to work, and cut the earnings of the self-employed working from their vans and cars. … Continue reading “Will France cut taxes in response to protests?”

Will the US-China trade deal live up to expectations?

President Trump usually encourages high expectations of what he and the US might achieve. A deal-maker by instinct and long business practice, he has made much of his ability to get the country a better deal. These claims are now on trial as we approach the end game of the US-China trade talks. The President … Continue reading “Will the US-China trade deal live up to expectations?”

Germany will pay the price for Italy’s provocation of Trump

The Italians have joined China’s controversial “New Silk Road” programme, a move that is likely to stoke the ire of Washington. At the weekend, Italian populists handed Donald Trump yet another reason to turn his trade guns on Europe, increasing the risk of a German recession. At a signing ceremony in Rome, Chinese President Xi … Continue reading “Germany will pay the price for Italy’s provocation of Trump”

Is corporate debt worth the risk?

As bond investors seek a better return than the poor yields on advanced country bonds, they eye up the higher income available on some company debt. There has been a sharp increase in so called levered loans. These are bonds issued by larger companies, often at a floating rate of interest related to official interest … Continue reading “Is corporate debt worth the risk?”

You still struggle to get an income on safer investments

The difficulties in getting a good return from Western nation bonds. The great crash of 2008-9 has left interest rates in much of the advanced world at very low levels. The fitful and slow recovery this decade has meant central banks have needed to keep rates low. Japan had a similar, if even more dramatic, … Continue reading “You still struggle to get an income on safer investments”

Does the Trump-Kim summit matter for investors?

If North Korea gives up its nuclear arsenal, Donald Trump has promised that the country will have an “awesome” economic future with a wealth of opportunities on offer. The US president is not alone in seeing vast potential in the reclusive Asian nation. Billionaire Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most successful investors, famously said … Continue reading “Does the Trump-Kim summit matter for investors?”

Pressures on the EU as elections loom

We are in the long run up to the European Parliamentary elections. This will be followed by the appointment of a new European Commission. It means there will be an argument over the future direction of EU and euro policy, with a wide range of views from those who with En Marche in France want … Continue reading “Pressures on the EU as elections loom”

Car crash in the motor industry?

Last year was not a good year for the world motor industry. Passenger car sales fell by 13% in the USA, by 9% in the UK, by 4% in China, by 3% in France and by 0.2% in Germany. In the USA higher interest rates reduced people’s willingness to take out car loans. In China … Continue reading “Car crash in the motor industry?”

Will the world authorities do enough to stimulate their economies?

Markets signalled the slowdown now underway in industrial output and investment with a sharp sell-off at the end of last year. They challenged the Federal Reserve in particular to ease its tough stance, which it duly did as 2019 dawned. US policy is to spend more and tax less, offering some budget boost to the … Continue reading “Will the world authorities do enough to stimulate their economies?”

Trade: Will Trump rediscover the art of the deal?

The markets have two problems with US President Trump’s approach to the trade talks. The first is he is so unpredictable that it makes it very difficult for commentators and forecasters to come up with a well-based vision of what the future holds. The second is there is a nagging worry that the US China … Continue reading “Trade: Will Trump rediscover the art of the deal?”