Cryptocurrencies: definitely cryptic, but not (yet) a currency?

Much of the article that follows was published in the Tatton Weekly in January 2018, when crypto currencies like Bitcoin last hit ‘stratospheric’ levels and generated elation among pundits. Since then, the traded value of Bitcoin fell within a year from around $17,500 to $3,800 (a loss of 78%), only to have staged a comeback…

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Centrist Biden puts global taxation in his sights

In the long run-up to last year’s US election, Joe Biden was seen as the uninspiring compromise candidate. An old establishment Washington D.C. type, with decades of top-level political experience and firm centrist credentials. Now President, he fended off challenges from the left of the Democratic Party and gave observers a sense that the status…

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Stock markets firmly looking ahead – Q1 2021 review

n our private lives, the first few months of 2021 were much the same as 2020 – unfortunately. Britain, and indeed the world, suffered more COVID cases, more fatalities and, once again, tighter restrictions. For investors, though, it was a different story. Despite a global economy frozen in motion and the deepest recession ever recorded,…

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Bond markets signal economic optimism

Following a strong first quarter for equity investors worldwide, the second quarter is off to a good start as well, with most global stock markets already up by a few percentage points. While the sense that stock markets are potentially getting ahead of themselves is nothing new, the renewed surge of large-cap US tech stocks…

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Emerging Markets – post pandemic

Markets are excited, and expectant, for the global economic recovery later this year. As noted here many times, this brings changes in the prevailing investment parameters – the much-discussed cyclical rotation. Typically, emerging markets (EMs) do well in this environment: strong growth fuels demand for their products and the commodities they export, while financial conditions…

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Arch egos bring down another firm

Springtime appears to be showering us with financial scandals. Just two weeks ago, we wrote about the collapse of supply-chain financer Greensill, the potential fallout, and what it could do to the reputation of the high-profile investors involved. This week, the financial press stumbled on an even bigger calamity, which could prove far more disruptive…

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The first quarter of 2021 was no April fool

It may be April Fools’ Day, but ignore the ill-fated corporate PR stunts (Voltswagen!). The fact is that the first quarter of 2021 has brought genuine good news for UK-based investors with exposure to global stock markets. Equity markets have generally resumed an upward trajectory, while low risk assets, especially long maturity bonds, have sustained…

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Geopolitics back on the radar as diplomacy runs aground

As we enter spring, the world thankfully looks a little brighter. The vaccine rollout is well underway in the UK and US, and is having palpable effects on the outlook for the second half of this year – despite disruptions on the continent and virus mutation scare stories. For investors, despite the caveats, there has…

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Europe is poised for improvement

Positive stories about Europe are thin on the ground at the moment – notwithstanding that core European equity markets have broadly outperformed their global peers, including the US, so far this year. With a sluggish vaccine rollout and a renewed rapid spread of infections across the continent, restrictions look set to remain in place for…

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The world is moving on from the pandemic

It has been another week of markets feeling on edge, without going anywhere. Markets seem to have caught a bit of worry about the passage of growth, oddly just as the wider populace gets more confident and the recent headwind of rising bond yields abated. Perhaps we should attribute the bubbling up of political tensions…

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Greensill collapse leaves backers green around the gills

The collapse of supply-chain financer Greensill Capital has all the hallmarks of a classic business scandal. Once hailed as a shining example of the UK’s fintech start-up potential, Greensill attracted attention from international giants such as Credit Suisse, hedge fund manager GAM and private equity house Softbank, and even managed to snag former Prime Minister…

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Markets doubt the Fed doves

Interest rates are on hold for years to come, according to the latest announcement from the US Federal Reserve (Fed). After its two-day meeting, monetary policymakers resolved to keep interest rates close to zero, and signalled more of the same until at least 2024. This comes despite upgrades to the Fed’s own economic forecasts, which…

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Tug of war: bonds vs. equities

Next week will mark the anniversary of the turning point of the 2020 COVID stock market crash. Investors looking at their one-year portfolio returns may well be astonished to find double-digit return figures, ranging from around 15% for lower risk strategies to close to 50% for pure global equity portfolios. Alas, don’t expect a repeat…

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China stimulus dud

Economic growth, particularly over the long-term, is notoriously hard to predict. So, it makes the job a little easier when someone tells us outright what is going to happen. The Chinese Communist party fortunately revels in such tasks. Last week, the party released the People’s Republic’s 14th Five Year Plan, setting out growth and development…

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US stimulus bazooka

Despite the harsh economic realities of the pandemic, capital markets have had a staggering amount of confidence over the last year, all things considered. Vaccine hopes have undoubtedly played a big part in this – as can be seen in the fact that investors have rewarded those nations with advanced vaccination programs and punishing those…

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Recalibrations

Stock markets around the world have had another choppy week, but this time there was more up than down across the board and bonds yields stopped their upwards trend – at least for a while. The general upward trend notwithstanding, there was a lot of rotation and counter rotation between different market segments. With the…

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A Tactical Budget

Rishi Sunak’s second Budget Statement was a hotly anticipated affair. After setting out the roadmap to navigate the COVID crisis, the Chancellor was able to mark down the route out of economic crisis. The pandemic has left a black hole in Britain’s public finances and, while vaccines and gently easing restrictions will help get things…

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Stock markets are finding they cannot have it both ways

Another week of bond market price falls has pushed ten-year government bond yields upwards everywhere except Japan. The US ten-year yield experienced the biggest rise of the developed world, up almost 20 basis points (0.2%) since last Friday to a yield of 1.6%. Just as over the previous week, that fed through to US equity…

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Corporate taxation becomes a global fixation

It would be some understatement to say that Rishi Sunak had an interesting start to life as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Less than a month into the job, Sunak delivered his first Budget as the UK economy was closing it shutters and a black hole in public finances was expanding. One year on, his second…

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Will the IPO feast leave some investors with indigestion?

Not long ago, market commentators were debating why companies seemed to want to stay private. Back in 2015 and 2016, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) fell substantially, with newer start-ups preferring to stay off the market. Now, that trend has reversed entirely. After opening back up in the second half of last year, the IPO market…

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Earnings look set to stabilise wobbling markets

Last year, equity markets started to wobble around this time. For example, on 19 February 2020, the NASDAQ 100 closed at an all-time high of 9718.73 before sliding back as the far-reaching implications of the  pandemic started taking their toll. This year, the pattern of moves has been similar, with the same index closing at…

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Italy’s Super Mario off to a strong start

In the midst of political and economic crises, the Italian president has asked an economist named Mario to form a technocratic government – a headline that works today as well as it did back in 2011. But despite the numerous parallels between Mario Draghi’s recent appointment to Italy’s top job and the appointment of Mario…

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Fear facing complacency over rising debt

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The global economy has been ravaged by the pandemic, struggling under the cycle of lockdowns and rising virus fatalities for a year now. The forced shutdown of entire business sectors has led to the deepest global recession on record – with increasing numbers of affected businesses closing their shutters…

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One year on – who would have thought

Exactly one year ago, on 19 February 2020, stock markets hit their pre-pandemic high. Over the five weeks that followed, markets plunged in the most extreme global market crash ever known, as the world accepted that COVID-19 was a threat of unprecedented dimensions. Looking back, it seems impossible anyone could have even broadly predicted what…

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Looking for the bright side in markets

Even though economic prospects appear positive, for capital markets, it’s always a bit more complicated. For investors, the main anxiety is that the economic positivity, based on vaccination hopes and fiscal support, is putting equities in a more precarious position. No one can deny that, on current price-to-earnings ratios, stocks look expensive relative to history.…

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Global growth surprise

With vaccines being rolled out across the world, and substantial monetary and fiscal support for the foreseeable future, economic activity in the second half of this year is all but certain to be stronger than 2020. But much of this optimism has already been priced in. Just as last year saw the worst global recession…

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No UK double dip, but much talk of bubbles

‘Worst recession in 300 years’ was how UK media framed Friday’s release of UK GDP growth data for the last quarter of 2020. They were also quick to point out that the -9.9% full-year number was far worse than any other major industrialised nation around the world. What they only reported far further down in…

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The uncertain strength of the US dollar

The dollar has been on a good run lately. Over the last month, its value against the other main currencies has steadily risen. The move has been particularly pronounced against the euro, which fetched $1.23 in currency trading at the beginning of the year, but has since fallen to $1.20. Moves have been less pronounced…

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Vaccine dividend expectations

As the British government and media are keen to point out, the UK is one of the world leaders in vaccine numbers. After trumpeting the speedy approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford/Astra Zeneca and Moderna vaccines, the government has administered jabs to more than 10 million Britons. At the time of writing, 16 shots have been…

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Calming of nerves

After January’s misbehaviour – everything from riotous insurrection at the US Capitol to rebellious share speculation – February began with a more predictable return to normality. The share price of now internationally famous US video game store GameStop has fallen by around 87% ($469 last week to $60 at time of writing). Likewise, frictions within…

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Unemployment figures aren’t reporting unemployment

The labour market will be at the heart of a post-pandemic economic recovery. We are in the middle of Britain’s sharpest recession in hundreds of years, but this is not any normal downturn. The virus and repeated lockdowns have reduced demand and, once restrictions are substantially eased, activity will certainly rebound. But the induced recession…

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Internet traders take on hedge funds at their own game

As widely reported in the media, this week in equity markets has been a wild ride through the depths of the internet. GameStop, a consumer electronics store that looked destined to be another retail casualty, saw its stock price propelled to unthinkable heights over the last five days, after retail traders turned the company into…

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A fraying of nerves

In the middle stages of the pandemic, when things had the potential for going very, very badly, there was a sense of global solidarity and unity among people and politicians. Maybe China received opprobrium – it was certainly demonised by many in the US – and the iconoclast in the White House enjoyed being different.…

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The Biden reflation

Officials within the Biden administration have stated that the new US government “will take action – not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration – but also to start moving our country forward”. Few things on the agenda promise to move the US forward more than Biden’s fiscal plans. The White House…

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Are earnings keeping up with expectations?

Despite the upheaval of the past year, in investment terms we have started 2021 in much the same position we were 12 months ago – before the pandemic. The extraordinary support provided by central banks has kept the global financial system awash with liquidity. US stock markets are trading at all-time highs, while major equity…

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A sigh of relief

As Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States this Wednesday, a collective sigh of relief, at the return of civility, decency and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of all citizens, could be felt around the world. Perhaps not one of the great inaugural speeches of US history, and one…

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Semiconductor

Bull in a chip shop

With most of the developed world stuck at home, it has been a good year for chipmakers (no, not those kind of chips). Developers and manufacturers of semiconductors saw a massive bump in demand in 2020, buoyed by the “stay at home” orders issued by governments and the consequent increased computer usage. TSMC, the world’s…

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Tesla: Tech, green investment, carmaker or just another bubble?

While Donald Trump won the title of America’s most impeached President, the prize for strangest news story of the week went to his eldest son. Donald Trump Jr took to Instagram (well, it couldn’t be Twitter, could it) to make a plea to billionaire Elon Musk: set up a Trump-friendly social media platform to “blow…

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Fiscal turbo replaces lame duck Trump

As we wrote last week, there is a broad consensus that this year will see a strong economic rebound as mass vaccinations finally put an end to pandemic – even if we have to wait until the second half of the year to see it. Ahead of next Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden’s as the…

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Bye-bye ‘Brexit’, hello new ‘Special Relationship’

In official civil service communications, the word ‘Brexit’ has been mostly absent for nearly a year. According to Downing Street diktat, Brexit is an historic event that occurred at the end of last January (or was it March 2019?). Therefore, we never need speak its name again. Negotiations on “changing regulatory alignment” and similar phrases…

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December review: tidings of comfort and joy for investors

The end of 2020 may not have felt festive for most of us, but capital markets certainly had some cheer. At the global level, equities saw a 2.2% rise in December. It was a continuation of the disparity we saw throughout the year. As coronavirus numbers soared, and governments shut their nations down, the global…

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What a mess, Morten Morland, 9 November 2020

End points and new beginnings

Just like 2020, 2021 has kicked off with rather more lively news flow than many will have hoped for when they gladly said goodbye on New Year’s Eve to what many experienced as a truly annus horribilis. Yet even though events of massive importance have taken place since we last reported, they are, in most…

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Goodbye to all that!

December usually has a ring of ‘Silent Night’ in the investment world and, in a year where practically all else has changed, at least this has stayed the same. In the UK, news that millions more would be placed under tougher restrictions over the Christmas period may have felt deflating, but it was hardly unexpected…

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Goodbye to all that

December usually has a ring of ‘Silent Night’ in the investment world and, in a year where practically all else has changed, at least this has stayed the same. In the UK, news that millions more would be placed under tougher restrictions over the Christmas period may have felt deflating, but it was hardly unexpected…

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A high stakes game of principle chicken

This week’s edition was meant to focus on our annual outlook for the coming year, while working under the assumption that the UK and Europe would by now be operating under a ‘skinny’ trade deal that would prevent tariff hurdles to trade while also dealing with the barriers to trade that come with operating under…

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Japan: Lost and now found?

For most of the year, Japan has been hailed as something of a COVID success story. Given its densely populated cities, elderly population and proximity to China – the virus source – it had all the ingredients to be one of the worst affected nations. The reality has been anything but, with only limited spread…

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COVID worsening the UK’s high street headache

The ‘scientific cavalry’, as Boris Johnson likes to put it, has arrived. The UK became the first western country to approve a COVID vaccine for mass use, and authorities are wasting no time rolling it out. 800,000 doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s celebrated vaccine are expected to be available next week, with Britain’s most vulnerable…

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December with concerns over baubles and bubbles

As the world faces up to a not-so-jolly Christmas season, it may be surprising to learn that sentiment across the global economy was reported to be quite strong this week. Admittedly, this is mostly driven by strong manufacturing data and not the services sector, which relies so much more on social proximity. Nevertheless, the current…

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Tesla jolts into S&P 500

The electric car maker Tesla’s stock performance this year has been – in an analogy that will no doubt please Elon Musk – a rocket in flight. At the time of writing, Tesla shares are up nearly eight- fold since the COVID sell-off in March, making it the most valuable car company in the world.…

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This time, Brexit really means Brexit

In the strangest year in recent memory, one news story serves as a timeless constant: “Brexit talks remain deadlocked”, according to the FT’s headline this week (which could have been from any point in the last four and a half years). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament it was still…

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Fiscal floundering

During a week when global stock markets continued their more gradual upwards trend, government policy was in full focus, but offered little in support. For the UK, it looks like ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ when official lockdown ends next Thursday, with the vast majority of England under tighter restrictions than before…

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EU’s populist nations threaten to shoot themselves in the foot

For Europe, 2020 was supposed to be a fiscal awakening, with the pandemic putting paid to the issues that created the first Euro crisis; the Union’s lack of fiscal integration, its inflexibility on budget rules and inability to handle payment crises. The crisis affected the whole continent, threatening to burden health services and leave swathes…

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New Asian trading bloc gets global respect

Bigger is better in trading blocs. And last Sunday, 15 East Asian countries signed an historic accord to form the world’s largest trading bloc, containing a third of the world’s population and accounting for around 30% of global GDP. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is bringing together the ten ASEAN members with their Northern…

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More tunnel before the light

The November rally in stock markets finally petered out this week as it felt as if ‘November finally got the memo about 2020’. This was despite further positive vaccine news that bolstered optimism for next year. On Monday, US firm Moderna announced that phase 3 test results of its messenger RNA based vaccine had a…

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A mini boom for the housing market?

With the US Presidential election now decided (barring unlikely success in the courts), and a coronavirus vaccine by the year-end now looking a near certainty, markets are feeling positive about the prospects for 2021. But as noted before, much of the growth story for next year hinges on additional demand generated by a step up…

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China remains an exercise in risk management

This week, Beijing forced out several pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong, declaring them a threat to national security and putting another nail in the coffin of the ‘one nation, two systems’ principle. The move gave the Chinese authorities the power to dismiss politicians without having to go through the courts. On Thursday, President Trump issued…

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Change is in the air

Investors have enjoyed another very good week. Optimism had already returned the previous week, with the US election eventually delivering a clear verdict. This week then brought the news that literally everybody had been waiting and hoping for, and which we had portrayed as probable in our ‘optimistic case’ forward-look on these pages two weeks…

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US election – the dust finally starts to settle

The American people have spoken; it just may take a while to figure out what they said. Since voting closed on Tuesday night, the US election has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. When initial results started filtering through, it looked like predictions of a comfortable Joe Biden victory were well wide of the mark.…

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Lockdown 2.0 – at what cost?

Here we go again. Having had our fun, and eaten out to help out over the summer, the UK public is back indoors for the rest of November. What the government was keen to prevent still came as hardly much of a surprise last Saturday, given rapidly-rising hospital admission numbers, the tiered shutting of regions…

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October market returns review

The up and down markets of September resulted in what we described as a flat overall picture of consolidating markets. At first, the picture for October looked much the same, but ended with a more pronounced sell-off over the past two weeks. The looming uncertainty of the US elections, together with the return of lockdowns…

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Looking beyond the obvious

We wrote only last week that markets hate uncertainty. Given that equity, bond and commodity markets are all quite a lot stronger at the end of this week, many investors must have gained clarity, if not optimism. There are a lot of important things going on, too many to cover adequately even in our weekly,…

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Central Banks join the Crypto currency party

We have seen some impressive returns in capital markets since the depths of March. US equities stole the limelight for most of the year, soaring above their pre-crisis highs in the summer, but equally impressive has been the rally in some of the less traditional assets. On a percentage basis, Bitcoin – the much-hyped cryptocurrency…

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Investors bullish on China

As COVID fears rattled global asset markets earlier this week, one country was notably absent from the sell-off. China’s CSI 300 Index rallied in the midweek, while stocks across the US and Europe slid the other way. China’s breakaway from the pack has been noticeable for some time – out of the major global indices…

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US Election

Unsettled week ahead – or behind

In the first article of The Tatton Weekly we normally discuss the relevance of the weekly news flow for the development of our longer-term picture for our investors. Usually, our conclusion is that the noises of the week need to be put into perspective and not overinterpreted, because the long term picture only very rarely…

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Green energy overtakes Tech’s ‘Big Five’ as 2020 winners

Over the course of this year – and well before – we have grown used to the incredible outperformance of the US technology sector. Such is the size and strength of Silicon Valley that at times US mega-cap tech stocks have accounted for most price moves in the overall stock market. But tech has been…

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Canary in the oil well?

Back in February, tumbling oil prices were a harbinger of things to come. It became clear the world was heading for a crisis – one that would eventually force governments to shutter their economies and plunge the global economy into its deepest-ever recession on record. The economic ice age to come would severely hamper oil…

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Sun lit uplands or a Covid gorge

Sunlit uplands or COVID gorge?

Halloween is around the corner and markets had plenty to frighten them this week. Across Europe, the second wave of infections has risen higher than the first. While new lockdown measures are less stringent this time (schools and businesses can remain open unless social distancing is impossible), shutting down social interactions, just as the service…

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India revisited

Indian equities have been on a roll. Since the global sell-off through the end of February and March, Indian stocks have recovered over 40%. That still leaves the Indian market down around 2% year- to-date, but compared to other emerging markets, India is faring well, outrunning China particularly over the past couple of weeks. One…

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IMF

IMF: Austerity is not the answer this time

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) created considerable waves this week with mixed messages in its biannual world economic outlook. IMF economists now expect a decline in economic activity of 4.4% for 2020, with the slight increase from June’s forecast owing to better than expected growth in the second quarter of the year. The higher base…

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Brexit Negotiations

Watching and waiting

A noticeable winter chill is in the air this week. The threat of fresh lockdown measures has become reality, with renewed restrictions coming into force not just in the UK, but across most of continental Europe as well. But unfortunately, the UK – once again – is faring particularly badly in virus terms. At the…

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Big Tech

Busting the Big Five of ‘Big Tech’

The US technology sector is full of winners. For years now, the growth-intensive strategies of the Silicon Valley mega-caps have driven an astonishing rise to wealth, power and influence. Taking advantage of new and uncharted territory, they have achieved a level of dominance in their various markets that we have not seen for decades. In…

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UK and EU

UK and EU

It may be the hundredth time saying this, but despite the all-dominating focus on COVID, it is now also Brexit crunch time, given the UK government rejected the offer of a further extension when the lockdown ‘sabotaged’ the already tight negotiation schedule. Britain’s official transition period of EU membership still only lasts until the end…

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Global Markets

Baffling market optimism

Following the unsteadiness of September, markets have further regained their composure and continue to drift upwards. This stands in stark contrast to the flow of bad news. The White House, centre of power for the mighty US, has become a COVID hotspot, similar to many regions across Europe and the UK. Meanwhile, the Brexit negotiation…

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Global Stock Markets

State of the global economy

Throughout the middle of this year, we saw an impressive bounce back in economic activity. While the global economic shutdown had frozen business and manufacturing activity, the opening-up into the summer months suggested we may be on course for a sharp V-shaped recovery. Purchasing Managers’ Indices (PMIs) – a survey-based measure of business confidence –…

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Stock Market Returns

Taking stock of market returns up to September

Against all expectations, and despite considerable intramonth volatility, September turned out to be decidedly dull for investors. After a five-month rally had left global stock indices around or above their pre-pandemic highs, the turn of Autumn sent a chill through capital markets. Selling pressure built up early in the month, as COVID cases spiked around…

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UK and US markets

A question of time horizons

A US presidential debate that nobody would want to watch twice was followed by reports that COVID reality has finally caught up with a US president who insists that only he can determine  what is real and what is fake has made for a dramatic October start. The UK’s domestic perspective was not much less…

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Commodities

Reflation Reality Check

As rain and wind flush out the heat of the last few months, there’s a noticeable chill in the air for capital markets. For investors, things looked bright between June and August. The economy was finding its feet again, lockdown restrictions continued to lift, and central bankers were committed to indefinite monetary accommodation. As such,…

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HSBC Bank

FinCEN files – don’t bank on banks?

Given the roller-coaster week it has been for markets, the economy and everything else, you would be forgiven for missing a story about bank reports. But this week’s release of the FinCEN files – so called after the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network – contained plenty of intrigue, from fraud and money laundering to Russian…

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Road to Recovery

A Recovery On Hold

September continues to bite equity markets. Stocks everywhere wobbled again this week and even though they bounced back, the S&P500 is down around 8% in US Dollar terms for the month. UK investors might notice less of a fall, with global equities down just 1% in sterling terms. This is partly due to the fall…

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Federal Reserve

Can the Fed redress a 40-year imbalance between workers and savers?

Who does monetary policy work for? The simple answer is everyone, but given that one of the defining aims of a central bank is to ensure monetary and financial stability, perhaps a more historically accurate answer is savers (owners of financial assets). Through interest rates and other means, central banks hope to provide a stable…

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Brexit bother as Boris’s Mexican stand-off misfires

Having spent most of 2020 hoping things can get back to normal, Britain’s political news over the last couple of weeks has left us thinking ‘be careful what you wish for’. Stalling Brexit talks, political disarray and the potential for a full-blown constitutional crisis all created that familiar feeling of prepandemic times. Indeed, as if…

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Global Stock Markets

Taking a step back to look forward

Stock markets have stabilised and started trading sideways, in a sign of healthy consolidation following their extraordinary recovery rally since late March. Notably, the darlings of the recovery, namely US large cap tech and growth stocks, are no longer the leaders. This bodes well for a gradual sentiment shift among investors. Capital is no longer…

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Politics get in the way of Chinese investment

In economic terms, China is one of the best placed of any major economy to recover from the pandemic. The first country to suffer heavily from Covid was also the earliest to emerge from lockdown, with life now well on its way back to normal in the world’s second largest economy. Wuhan, a city of…

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Credit where credit is due

Central bankers have played a vital role throughout the COVID crisis. With the global economy in the grip of its deepest-ever recession, the world’s central banks have had to inject huge amounts of liquidity into the financial system and government coffers to stop the health crisis turning into a financial catastrophe. The US Federal Reserve…

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Stock Markets

Frictions and contradictions

September has ended what now feels like a ‘goldilocks’ summer for investors, and political, societal and capital market frictions have returned to the stage with a bang. However, the fact that stock markets have not simply plunged on bad news, but have instead remained surprisingly stable, is a good indication that economic and market dynamics…

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August gets technical

Despite the sharp sell-off we saw into the end of this week, capital markets overall have cruised through the summer. The US stock market soared past its pre-pandemic highs, powered by America’s mega-cap tech giants, while others (with the exception of Japan) saw more muted price action. With traders and the investing public away in…

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Inflation ahead

Inflation now a ‘Made in China’ product

We are in a new era for central bankers. Last week, US and global monetary policymakers convened for their annual Jackson Hole conference, headlined by a speech from US Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell. But Powell’s keynote address was noticeably different from previous years – and not just because neither speaker nor audience were…

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Market dynamic of a K-shaped recovery

Markets’ summer holidays are over. Throughout August, risk assets made some impressive gains, while the global economy remained in its deepest ever recession. After equities were then catapulted to eye-watering valuation levels, the end of this week saw a sharp reversal. On Thursday, the US’ S&P 500 – which soared past its pre-pandemic highs in…

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US bankruptcies: expected but not altogether undesirable

As we have written many times, the deepest global recession in the post-war period is no ordinary one. With activity suppressed by government diktat, it is hard to gauge how much of the plummet in demand is ‘real’ and how much is just a – hopefully short-term – virus response. To judge where the forced…

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Apple stock split has domino effect on indices and trackers

Next Monday (31 August), Apple will split its shares four to one, meaning holders of Apple stock will have four shares trading at a price of $125 instead of one share at the current price of $500. This is Apple’s fifth stock split, aimed at making the stock more accessible to new investors (it is…

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Big tech gets bigger while the Fed takes the easy option

In a week where Donald Trump kicked off his re-election campaign in earnest, global investors showed it is indeed “America first”. US equities continue to push at all-time highs, having recovered everything lost in March’s frantic sell-off – and then some. If the stock market soaring to new heights while the world languishes in its…

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Car Market

Auto-recovery: turnaround or short-term bounce?

Like most industries, the automotive sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. Carmakers were already struggling well before the first COVID case came in, with changes to emissions regulations, a global manufacturing downturn and structural shifts in demand providing fierce headwinds. A global economic shutdown then came at the worst time it could, as…

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Apple vs Epic Games

Apple finds itself fighting an Epic battle

And Apple wept, seeing as it had no more worlds left to conquer. In 2018, Apple made history by becoming the first private company valued over $1 trillion. That milestone was 42 years in the making; but just two years later, Apple is worth double that. To make that feat even more incredible, the meteoric…

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Stock Market

Fed leaves bond investors with that sinking feeling

Capital markets were mostly steady – if a bit on edge – this week, as they have been for most of August. At least the US maintained positivity, although the extent of gains were not spectacular. Even so, both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indices surpassed their February peaks in midweek trading, leaving the stock…

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Rainy Day Fund

The US government’s intriguing $1.7 trillion rainy day fund

These extraordinary times for the global economy have forced the world’s central banks to extraordinary measures. As usual, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) has been one of the chief protagonists during the emergency, cutting interest rates close to zero and funneling trillions of dollars into keeping the financial system afloat. But in recent weeks, we…

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UK Recession

Please sir! How long will the UK stay bottom of the class?

Throughout the pandemic, the UK has been beset by a host of unflattering comparisons. The statistics on virus cases, deaths and other health figures have consistently put Britain as one of the hardest hit countries in the world. This week, the press focused on a different kind of bad news: In GDP terms, the UK…

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Coronavirus - the sequel?

COVID II the sequel – as scary as the original?

The pleasures, and then increasing discomfort, of the UK’s unusually broiling August weather offered a welcome distraction from the seemingly never ending COVID news flow of gloominess. As the heatwave came to an end with a thunderous bang, so too did many of the UK’s summer freedoms. The reintroduction of widespread lockdowns at local level,…

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Property Market

Property funds not such hot property

Property can be an attractive investment. Like everything else, property prices have their ups and downs, but investing in ‘real’ assets can appear to hit a sweet spot, relative to financial assets like equities, bonds or cash. There is enough of a positive yield that holding it is preferable to holding cash, and not so…

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Unemployed

Unemployment – a tricky economic variable

At the Bank of England’s (BoE) latest meeting this week, a more optimistic than expected short-term outlook for Britain’s economy emerged. One of the most notable forecasts was its call on employment. While furlough and other emergency government measures have allowed many to keep their jobs and paycheques, some fear these policies are just papering…

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The New Normal

Living with COVID- settling into an interim ‘new normal’

Compared to the rest of 2020, July proved almost uneventful as global capital markets consolidated strong gains made during the previous quarter, with only emerging market equities and gold delivering notable advancements (see returns table further below). At the other end of the scale, poor returns from Japanese and UK equities confirms the trend of…

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Summer sunshine beckons, but politics still casts a long shadow

As July ends with stifling temperatures, thoughts can turn to the month ahead. August capital markets can be either quiet or decidedly choppy. As investors go on their summer holidays, daily trade volumes decline and liquidity drops out of the market – meaning even small buying or selling pressures can have outsized effects. Of course,…

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Stock Market

Earnings season round-up: plenty for markets to mull over

Although stock prices have come down recently, the ratio of price to earnings remains high enough to make investors squeamish. As such, eyes are now turning to the recent slew of earnings reports from the second quarter. Q2 was, of course, dominated by virus news, global lockdowns and a record slump in economic activity. And…

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US Economy

US partisan politics could leave states feeling the pinch

In dealing with the economic crisis – just as with the virus itself – policy is crucial. Throughout the worldwide economic shutdown, US authorities have joined their global peers in providing intense and sustained support to a shell-shocked economy. The government’s fiscal aid programs, backed by the extraordinary bond purchasing programme from the Fed, has…

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EU recovery package: European, limited but still historic

European Union (EU) leaders never let a crisis ruin a good argument. With the global pandemic forcing Europe’s economy into its worse slump since the second world war, EU heads of state butted heads during a tense Brussels summit, for four days and four nights. Their aim was to agree terms on a coordinated spending…

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Going for gold

Gold prices have been on a good run lately. On Thursday, gold reached an intraday high of $1898 per troy ounce, within touching distance of its all-time high of $1921 back in 2011. Physical or safe-haven assets typically benefit from periods of unease or uncertainty. Gold’s credibility comes partly from its centuries-old use as a…

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PPE = Politics, Pressure and Economics

In this delicate economic and financial environment, the world of politics can have a big impact on capital markets. This week, we saw both heads of that political beast, with news stories first buoying and then bruising market sentiment. Earlier in the week, Europe’s top politicians slogged through marathon negotiations to reach a historic deal…

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Discomfort of disappearing safety nets

The summer season has started in earnest and yet, unsurprisingly, this year everything feels different. Most of us are relieved restrictions are easing, meaning we can go about our lives more like how we were used to until a few months ago. While in lockdown, many may have reasonably expected that – in return for…

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Sector rotation or just a timely recalibration?

Investment professionals have many different methods for slicing up the investment world. Typically, we tend to group assets together in terms of region, asset class or sector. Looking at things sector by sector is helpful for judging what to overweight and when, since different industries will react differently to underlying economic conditions (for example, technology…

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US election: Joe is no longer Biden his time

Americans head to the polls in just under four months, and as we edge ever closer to the election, presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump has grown steadily wider. According to the latest figures from FiveThirtyEight, the former Vice President has the support of 50.3% of the US public, while the current…

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