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?”

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?”

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”

Be careful counting your chickens

Hopes are high for the OPEC meeting on 30 November. A programme of cuts to supply that was initiated last year by OPEC and some non-OPEC members (we’ll refer to the two collectively as ‘OPEC/NOPEC’) has resulted in the oil price steadily rising from its lows to just short of $60 a barrel at the … Continue reading “Be careful counting your chickens”

Budget November 2017: Third time lucky?

If the Chancellor suffers from claustrophobia, he’ll have been having a hard time of it in recent weeks. Mr Hammond has been hemmed in on one side by sobering economic and fiscal forecasts; on another by public services and national infrastructure showing the strain after seven years of austerity; and on a third by members … Continue reading “Budget November 2017: Third time lucky?”

Is this the end of the global cycle?

Markets often have setbacks. There is always plenty to worry about. Recent price falls have not related to any one event or new fact that has emerged. Some people want to take some profits. Some people have become more nervous about how sustainable the recovery might be. Some worry that the Central Banks led by … Continue reading “Is this the end of the global cycle?”

Asian reforms and growth

The Asian economies are growing well, with their stock markets responding favourably to higher company earnings and dividends. Japan in particular has put in a strong performance in recent weeks in the wake of Mr Abe’s victory in an early election. Foreign investors have been keen to back the renewed government as it continues with … Continue reading “Asian reforms and growth”

Eurozone: Political risk still simmering

The major political obstacles, which had held back European risk assets, have now been overcome. However, events in Austria, Spain and Italy highlight the ongoing trend towards populist, nationalist and now regionalist sentiment. In Austria, although the far right Freedom Party (FPÖ) was recently defeated in elections for the legislative parliament, it could enter government … Continue reading “Eurozone: Political risk still simmering”

The politics of identity stalk European markets

Earlier this year investors worried that the euro was under threat. Its very future in the Netherlands and in France was on the ballot paper. As many of us expected, the euro survived its brush with democracy. In the Netherlands the anti-euro party topped the poll, but well short of the seats needed to govern … Continue reading “The politics of identity stalk European markets”

Xi who must be obeyed

Xi Jinping has become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Time will tell whether this is a good or bad thing for the economy. Chinese leaders gathered last week for the 19th Party Congress, a five-yearly plenum that sees the leadership of the Communist Party reshuffled, and economic and policy priorities outlined. Three … Continue reading “Xi who must be obeyed”

Japanese elections: Shinzo shines

The gamble has paid off for Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, with his ruling coalition maintaining its two-third “super majority” in the snap lower house elections. It was a thumping victory for Mr Abe, and one that will surely see him be re-elected for a third term in his party’s presidential election in September 2018. … Continue reading “Japanese elections: Shinzo shines”

China’s different system carries on growing

When President Xi first gained the position of President of China five years ago there was considerable western enthusiasm. He came across as a keen reformer willing to push on with China’s enterprise revolution. He wanted to open China’s markets more to the west, to liberalise foreign exchange, privatise more industry and even introduce more … Continue reading “China’s different system carries on growing”

Two decades on from crisis, Asia is roaring

Twenty years ago this month, the government of Indonesia signed the first of several agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that threw a financial lifeline to a country struggling to stay afloat amid the Asian crisis. Deep-pocketed speculators, spotting structural weaknesses in selected regional economies, had forced catastrophic currency devaluations which triggered economic and … Continue reading “Two decades on from crisis, Asia is roaring”