• 2022
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  • 13 May, 2022
    Strictly By the Numbers
    Mark Twain said history doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes. In this time of market turmoil, we thought we would see what prime market corrections, or even bear market scenarios, tell us about where we are currently.
    8 April, 2022
    Never Say Never
    The US Government bond market is recognised as the safest and most liquid asset class across the World. It has just endured its worst quarterly return since data were compiled in the early 1970’s.
    7 March, 2022
    Assessing Russian Exposure
    Over the past couple of weeks, we all have witnessed and watched Russia’s attack of the Ukraine unfold and our thoughts with those caught up in this war. This was an unprovoked attack which sits outside international norms and has led to international condemnation. Western allies have imposed a significant amount of sanctions on Russia and Russian individuals in way of response, aimed at restricting their access to capital markets and putting pressure on the Russian economy.
    10 February, 2022
    Markets, What Now?
    Research tells us that US equity market valuations have contracted in 2022,  as the real 10 Year Treasury Bond interest rate has risen.
    25 January, 2022
    E.T. Phone The Fed
    What does 2022 portend for investors, as the US central bank sets about trying to slay high inflation, without causing a recession.
    26 November, 2021
    If Inflation Is The Consequence, Then What Is The Primary Cause?
    When we look around to apportion blame for inflation, the candidates to point the finger at are the size of fiscal deficits or the rise in the money supply.
    27 October, 2021
    Up, Up and Away
    The Bank of England last managed to raise interest rates once in both 2017 and 2018, before cutting them down to just a tenth of 1% at the height of the pandemic crisis. Now, however, financial markets appear to be taking the commentary from members of the Monetary Policy Committee (the MPC) over inflation worries at face value, with the UK Base Rate now forecast to be nearly 1% in a year’s time.
    28 September, 2021
    Back To The Future?
    Dust off your history books. Something from the 1970’s is beginning to cause market participants sleepless nights.
    26 August, 2021
    Regulation – With Chinese Characteristics
    Clouds are continuing to gather over the outlook of China’s economy after a spurt of recent state intervention.
    30 July, 2021
    Sustainable Investing
    Assessing and integrating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into investing has gathered pace in recent years, with investors increasingly focused on responsible and sustainable investing.
    16 June, 2021
    Are Central Banks Guilty of Greenwashing?
    Central Banks are seemingly falling over themselves to flag the green credentials of their monetary policy, with none more eager than the European Central Bank.
    21 May, 2021
    Inflated Opinions
    One prime example of inflation is when you see, hear or read, more and more commentaries about worries over rising inflation. In that vein, let us look at whether the US, given it is the first major country to largely exit lockdown, is going to see a persistent 1970s style inflation, or a transitory inflation due to the effects of COVID-19 over the course of 2021 and beyond.
    16 April, 2021
    The Race To Supremacy
    The resiliency of Chinese growth is formidable, being the only major country to record positive growth in 2020, and with the nation’s economy projected to grow by over 6% in 2021. As a result, the question on many Western policy makers minds entering 2021 has been, is China leaving the rest of the World behind?
    22 March, 2021
    Fair and Balanced?
    The recent sharp rise in Government bond yields has seen a commiserate fall in the capital value of these bonds. With Government bond yields close to zero, like in the UK, or even in some cases below zero such as in Germany, even a minor move up in yields can wipe out the equivalent of several years’ worth of interest payments to bond holders via a decline in bonds’ capital value.
    17 February, 2021
    Be Careful What You Wish For
    If, as seems likely, the Biden Administration is successful at passing at least $1trillion of stimulus for the US economy, then it will result in a large issuance of debt to fund it.
    22 January, 2021
    Digital Renminbi – That Will Do Nicely!
    The form of digital money Bitcoin has become a topic de jure in financial circles, as its price has doubled in recent months, after a small number of UK fund managers announced that they had initiated positions in the crypto currency.
    23 December, 2020
    Crystal Ball Time
    As we close out 2020, a good measure of US investor sentiment, the composite put-call options ratio recently fell to it lowest level since 2011, which suggests investors were the most bullish on US equities based on this metric in nearly a decade.
    30 November, 2020
    The Great Reset
    There have been many plaudits this year for Central Banks and how quickly they responded to the Coronavirus shock last March, in their attempts to stabilise the financial system and suit markets. However, are these policies ultimately effective or do they drive debt levels excessively higher and lead to even greater financial instability?
    28 October, 2020
    Sense and Sustainability
    What was once Ethical investing became Socially Responsible investing, it has now become Environmental, Social and Governance investing or ESG.  ESG isn’t just an investment fad, ESG relates to real World political and economic outcomes.
    1 October, 2020
    Reshoring and Geopolitics
    COVID-19 has prompted the release of dozens of reports on the potential for supply chain disruption.
    25 September, 2020
    Death By A Thousand Cuts
    This is an important message to UK savers following material cuts to NS&I rates of interest this past week.
    1 September, 2020
    The State of Independence
    In responding to the great Financial Crisis of 2008, it was independent Central Banks that led from the front, as Governments in the West subsequently instigated fiscal austerity programmes.
    17 July, 2020
    Enter The Dragon
    Don’t worry about a future Cold War between China and the US being over the horizon, it’s already here.
    23 June, 2020
    What Inflation?
    Now may well be the time to prepare for something we haven’t seen for 30 or more years – the return of persistently higher inflation.
    24 April, 2020
    Oil Slick
    20 April 2020, will forever go down as the day when the price of oil went negative. It has never happened before and with any luck, it will never happen again.
    17 April, 2020
    Building A Bridge To The Future
    Estimating US gross domestic product (GDP), is now a guessing game. The IMF’s forecast is for a -5.9% drop in US GDP in calendar year 2020, but the range around that forecast is variable depending on how long the virus impairs economic activity and whether a second wave occurs.
    12 March, 2020
    Market Update
    There are, to put no finer point on it, shades of 2008 now with regard to the current turmoil markets find themselves in. Emergency interest rate cuts in the United States, Government bond yields collapsing to further historic lows and gold price streaking upwards have moved in the opposite way to stock markets, which have dropped in the region of 20%.
    7 February, 2020
    Are You Green Enough?
    Who hasn’t been moved by some of the eloquent prose and idealism perpetuated by uber environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, over the past 18 months? Her campaigning recently reached its zenith, as she joined President Trump in top billing at the annual ceremony of billionaire backslapping that is Davos.
    10 January, 2020
    Rethinking Rates: A Historical Perspective
    The current low level of interest rates and bond yields have been topics of discussion and debate for some time, with the broad consensus view being that the past five to ten years are abnormal in nature and that in due course, rates will move higher and normalise.
    9 December, 2019
    The Grass Isn’t Always Greener On The Other Side
    As the United Nations (UN) Climate Conference went underway in Madrid at the start of the month, we learnt that the current Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is to take an unpaid role as the UN Climate Action Ambassador.
    8 November, 2019
    Taking The Temperature of Markets
    Away from the noise surrounding Brexit, the UK General Election, and the current state of talks between China and the US on trade, what information or signals can we take from how capital markets are behaving, in regard to economic conditions and investor appetite for risk?
    4 October, 2019
    Is That All There Is?
    Outside of the United States, the major economies of the World have not enjoyed a strong 2019 to-date.  In Europe and Japan in particular, economic growth has begun to slow and this has led to a monetary response from the European Central Bank and expectations the Bank of Japan will respond next.
    4 September, 2019
    Hush Now!
    August lived up to its reputation as the most volatile month in the investment calendar.
    1 August, 2019
    From Hero To Zero
    As Central Banks the World over commence another period of activist monetary policy, we appear to be moving back towards a World of ZIRP and NIRP.  Respectfully, these are Zero Interest Rate and Negative Interest Rate Policies.
    12 July, 2019
    2019 Mid-Year Appraisal
    These are not times for complacency, nor fear, but instead careful assessment of the investment backdrop and how it is likely to evolve in the months ahead, with an ongoing focus on long-term strategic objectives.
    21 June, 2019
    Money for Nothing
    What is the true cost of cheap money? Maybe the answer is wasted spending, or in economic speak, ‘misallocated capital’. This is where money is borrowed and spent on projects and ideas that otherwise would not pass the smell test when interest rates are considerably higher than they reside now.
    3 June, 2019
    King Dollar
    Viewed from the outside, China and America now appear locked in a battle for global superpower status. This is a falsehood.
    15 May, 2019
    The Climate Challenge
    Recent disruption in London caused by the Extinction Rebellion Protests, an environmental movement focused on climate change, follows a 12 month period in which global warming has been in focus.  During this period, we have seen a greater incidence of extreme weather events, including wildfires and hurricanes.
    18 April, 2019
    The Risk Fallacy
    It is commonly believed that you cannot have more reward without taking on more risk. Financial risk can be defined in two very different ways.
    3 April, 2019
    It’s Crony Capitalism, Stupid!
    American millennials, it is said, are turning their backs on capitalism in favour of socialism. Be it socialism writ into the ‘green new deal’ we spoke about earlier in March, or espousing the conceit of modern monetary theory that we have also raised before. These ideas are predicated on the US Government taking over control of large swathes of supposed free markets, which has historically been an anathema to the United States, that sees itself as a bastion of free market capitalism.
    8 March, 2019
    The Green New Deal
    Climate change has become a pop culture drumbeat. Something we have to do something about. Unfortunately, we do not know explicitly what to do, but Governments take more money from us to do something.
    22 February, 2019
    Worrying About Nothing?
    In December, it appeared that the stock market falls would turn into a rout, and the US Government was shutdown thanks to arguments about Trump’s Border Wall. The drums started beating aggressively for those predicting an imminent recession in the US.
    8 February, 2019
    Modern Monetary Theory
    You may not have heard about Modern Monetary Theory yet (MMT). It’s still a developing narrative. But it’s growing, and it’s growing fast. It is a hip economic or financial model, apparently sweeping a World dissatisfied with the solutions offered by mainstream economics.
    25 January, 2019
    The UK And The EU: An Update
    The UK’s entire political focus over the first month of this new year has, of course, been Brexit. I thought it would be useful to talk though what has really changed as a result of these events.
    10 January, 2019
    My Word Is My Bond
    After the Great Financial Crash of 2008, the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) embarked on an unconventional policy that became known as quantitative easing (or QE). The purpose of this policy was to attempt to reduce long-term interest rates, after the Fed funds rate had been cut to effectively zero. Crucially, it was also designed to provide support to asset prices and assist their appreciation.
    20 December, 2018
    A Longer-Term Perspective on Stock Markets
    Stock markets fell sharply in October. Since then there have been big daily swings up and down, but no clear direction of travel. A number of risks are well known to investors.
    11 December, 2018
    A Sickly Panda
    The G20 meeting has been and gone, and China and America have for now called a truce for 90 days rather than reignite their trade war on 01 January. We are fortunate to be able to analyse a vast array of data from a variety of sources, when it comes to assessing the health and trajectory of Western market economies, but that is not the case with China.  
    16 November, 2018
    Why The House (Or In This Case, The Bank of Japan) Always Wins…
    As the Federal Reserve jolts financial markets across the World by indicating that US interest rates will continue to rise through 2019, the Bank of Japan follows a very different path. Indeed, the Bank of Japan Deputy Governor, Masazumi Wakatabe, declared earlier this year that “there are no limits to monetary policy”. If any one Central Bank is trying to prove this statement accurate (or a potential grand folly), it is the Bank of Japan.
    9 November, 2018
    Market Commentary 09 November 2018
    Following a turbulent October, the Market was hoping that the US Mid-term elections this week could help to start a much needed Christmas rally.  The outcome largely matched the forecasts.  Democrats won control of the House (for the first time in 10yrs), while Republicans retained the Senate.
    17 September, 2018
    The Curse of Black Gold
    From a low of $42 a barrel, in early February 2016, the Brent crude measure of oil has risen over 95% to stand at $82 a barrel at the end of September. Given that the US imposed sanctions on Iran which kick in next month and the Venezuelan economy may well be on the verge of collapse – then could we be on the cusp of another oil price shock with $100 a barrel being the near term target?
    17 September, 2018
    Magic Money Tree
    So, a recession is coming, we do not know when, what will cause it, nor for how long it might last. We do know that with interest rates in many parts of the World below zero, close to zero or not much more than 2% (outside of Argentina where they have been 60% recently), that the old levers of monetary policy are not available to stimulate demand as has been the case in prior recessionary scenarios when central banks would slash interest rates, as was last seen post the 2008 financial crisis.  
    20 August, 2018
    Presidential Arm Twisting
    Central banks are for the most part independent financial institutions across the advanced world, but it does not mean they are immune to outside pressure and, at times, their level of independence from political influence is no wider than a cigarette paper.
    11 July, 2018
    New World Order
    After World War II the United States and Russia broadly carved up large swathes of the World (China looked very much inward). In what has been known as ‘The West’, post-1945, we got used to a global system policed by an array of acronyms ranging from the IMF, IBRD, OPEC, EU, BIS, WTO etc.
    13 June, 2018
    Divergence and De-Synchronisation
    Recently economic data globally has shown signs of becoming more divergent, representing a change in direction following the period of synchronised growth observed during 2017.
    9 May, 2018
    Trump Trade Wars
    President Trump has not been afraid to upset the apple cart over many issues, since his election to public office, but perhaps the one area he has been consistent on for decades in a personal capacity is his view over the US being stiffed on trade with foreign nations.
    11 April, 2018
    Two Very Different Kinds Of Risk
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book (Skin in the Game), contains some highly relevant lessons for investors. The most directly applicable part is the logic of risk taking.
    20 March, 2018
    The Panda In The Corner
    Following the close of the 19th Annual Party Congress in China and subsequent elevation of President Xi to effective premier for life last week we wanted to cast our eye over the likely economic strategy.
    8 February, 2018
    Currency Adjusted Returns
    ‘The Dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a stronger Dollar’. So said President Trump in late January.
    9 January, 2018
    The 30,000ft View On Global Risks
    We enter the New Year with the President of the United States tweeting about his ‘big red button’ nuclear trigger being larger than that of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, or in Trump parlance ‘little rocket man’.
    11 December, 2017
    Looking Ahead To 2018
    In this commentary our Strategy Committee will each cover aspects of our 2018 outlook for the global economy, currencies, equities, bonds and potential tail risk events.
    10 November, 2017
    What can authorities do to offset the next financial crisis?
    Historically, financial crises usually trigger two policy responses by central banks and governments: emergency actions to ensure that financial markets continue to function and support for the economy via easing in the form of monetary and fiscal policy accommodation.
    18 October, 2017
    Past, Present and Future
    In this commentary members of our Strategy Committee will cover their views mainly related to our Diversified Core Strategy over the recent period and looking forward.
    11 September, 2017
    Taking The Temperature Of The UK Economy
    For 2017 the UK economy has seen two consecutive soft quarters of 1% real growth. The second quarter national accounts confirm that the loss of consumer spending momentum lies at the heart of the slowdown.
    10 August, 2017
    The Trouble With Bonds…
    …might be that they cannot offer equities support in times of Market turmoil.
    6 July, 2017
    Diversified Core Strategy Mid-Year Review
    As the first half of 2017 is now behind us we wanted to give you an update on how we have transitioned the asset allocation in our Diversified Core Strategy over the past six months.
    15 June, 2017
    May Day In June!
    Our Chief Investment Officer, Nolan Stanton, assesses the outlook for financial markets during our June Seminar ahead of the UK General Election.
    15 June, 2017
    Estate Planning And All It Entails
    Our guest speaker, James Beresford, from Slater and Gordon Law, discusses the importance of Estate Planning.
    7 June, 2017
    Solving The Trump Policy Equation
    Now that the US President has returned from his first major foreign trip, during which he succeeded in throwing the cat amongst the pigeons in Europe as much as he does at home, it seems a good time to see what, if anything, his administration may achieve in his first Term to propagate real returns on capital.
    5 May, 2017
    Allez Les Bleus!
    As the dust settles on the French Presidential Election results we can focus on the future for France and the role of the Euro.
    4 April, 2017
    Showdown at Mar-a-Lago
    President Trump reiterated that China is a “world champion” of currency manipulation and “devaluation” in an FT interview published ahead of this week’s meetings with President Xi. He also claimed the US would “act alone” on the North Korean nuclear threat if China wouldn’t. That should get your attention.
    16 March, 2017
    Brexit – Part Deux
    This month there is widespread expectation that the UK Government will formally trigger ‘article 50’, which will kick start the negotiations for Britain leaving the European Union in 2 years’ time. The topic has been discussed passim in the press with wild claims over the prospects for the economy made by both Bremainers and Brexiters.
    23 February, 2017
    Vive la France
    In sharp contrast to the end of January in 2016, equity markets this February continue to hit new highs as investors begin to price in the likely policies and stimulus Donald Trump will provide to the US economy.
    18 January, 2017
    2017: The Year To Say Goodbye To The Old Order
    2017 begins with the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, as the 45th President of the United States, heralding government by twitter.