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”

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”

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”

UK interest rate rises to be earlier and greater than expected

Latest comments from the Bank of England (BoE) and its governor Mark Carney indicate that UK interest rates are likely to go up sooner and faster than previously expected.  UK policymakers’ concerns about inflation have prompted Schroders’ economists to bring forward to November their expectations of a rise in interest rates. Schroders’ Senior European Economist … Continue reading “UK interest rate rises to be earlier and greater than expected”

A healthy correction?

The phrase “healthy correction” is one of the most frequently used in the investment lexicon. It has been ubiquitous over the past few days as a descriptor of the significant falls in global markets. It is also a phrase that has puzzled me over the years. As to “healthy”? Falls of over 4% in a … Continue reading “A healthy correction?”

What has driven stockmarket returns and what will drive them in future?

While the equity markets of various countries and regions have performed very similarly over the past three years, the components of returns have been very different. When we look back over the past three years, investors have earned remarkably similar returns in local currency terms in very different parts of the world. UK, eurozone, Japanese … Continue reading “What has driven stockmarket returns and what will drive them in future?”

UK growth edges higher, but BoE likely to hold

The initial estimate of GDP growth for the final quarter of 2017 showed the economy maintained a sluggish pace of growth of 0.5% quarter-on-quarter. This takes GDP growth for 2017 to 1.8%, which is a fall from 1.9% in 2016, and the lowest annual growth rate since 2012. Slight growth pick-up is encouraging Within the … Continue reading “UK growth edges higher, but BoE likely to hold”

World pension ages on the rise: when will you retire?

State pension ages are rising around the world. Most countries will increase the point at which people can withdraw payments to 67 in coming decades. Some governments have been more aggressive. The UK and Ireland will increase the age to 68, and the British government has indicated that more even higher ages are inevitable. The … Continue reading “World pension ages on the rise: when will you retire?”

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?”

Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates

We lived through history earlier this month. The Bank of England (BoE) raised interest rates for the first time in ten years. But interest rates will stay low for a lot longer yet and this should encourage those with a long-term view. The move was symbolically important – a small, but significant, reminder that interest … Continue reading “Liabilities and the long-term effects of low rates”

Budget 2017 predictions

Chancellor Phillip Hammond will present his Autumn Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 22 November. The statement has been widely tipped to contain some concessions to younger voters but this will do little to relieve the pressure on maintaining fiscal targets. The Conservative Party conference in October outlined a number of policies aimed at courting younger … Continue reading “Budget 2017 predictions”

Should the Bank of England raise rates?

The Governor has warned us that a rate rise could happen soon. Markets have duly priced in an increase. The pound rallied strongly against the dollar, partly on that interest rate expectation. UK ten year rates and other longer term bond yields have adjusted upwards. The problem is that the economy is slowing. Treasury policy … Continue reading “Should the Bank of England raise rates?”

Nobody puts sterling in the corner

The story for September remains mundanely similar as for much of the year. Global political noise is barely being acknowledged by capital markets; central banks attempt to signal the way higher for rates without spooking the market; the global economy continues to bump along. Despite an increasingly aggressive stance from North Korea, a destructive hurricane … Continue reading “Nobody puts sterling in the corner”

When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer

There has been a striking shift in recent Bank of England (BoE) communication. In the minutes of its September meeting, policy makers noted that “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months.” This message was then reiterated in speeches by noted ‘dove’ Gertjan Vlieghe and Bank Governor Mark Carney. … Continue reading “When economic pessimism means more hikes, not fewer”

Markets shrug at May’s Florence speech

Theresa May’s speech confirmed that the UK is seeking a transition period but gave few further details on the final shape of Brexit. Investors had hoped that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech would be the factor that pushed Brexit negotiations forward. However, the speech was a slightly softer version of her Lancaster House speech … Continue reading “Markets shrug at May’s Florence speech”