After years of ultra-low interest rates, central banks have begun to change tack. What does it mean for investors in particular and the global economy as a whole?
In the final part of my look at cryptocurrencies, we discover Bitcoin funds and the future of blockchain.
The below is an extract of the speech I made at the Dataconsult-MBMG IA event on 22nd November. It encapsulates exactly how I feel about cryptocurrencies.
Coiners like to argue that, devoid of government interference, BTC is free of manipulation. Like many statements by devotees, this falls somewhere between misleading and mendacious.
Clearly, the price of any asset depends on the perception or maybe even whim of the people who trade it or use it.
So-called cryptocurrencies have been in the news quite a lot recently. Presumably, this was because Bitcoin closed trading on 1st September at US$4,904.
Despite the warning signs, property prices continue to rise. Is Australia really an exception to the boom-and-bust rule?
“A quarter of Brits want a return to commission”, stated a headline which caught my eye the other day, in the industry magazine International Adviser.
July saw some strange goings-on: stock markets up, volatility a record low, the Swiss Franc nosediving, the US Dollar flattening out and some commodities on the up.
The most fascinating part of being an Investment Advisor is the wide variety of people who seek advice. It really is a case of everyone being different.
The financial press and analyst reports have been full of Chinese tech company Tencent recently. The company is best known for its social messenger app WeChat and, with a 47% market share, it’s also the largest of the Chinese mobile gaming quasi-duopoly.
In Part 1, we explored the obsession with the national debt, saw the distinction between money users and money creators, as well as understand that there really is a magic money tree. But if a central bank just printed more money, wouldn’t it lead to massive inflation?
How many times have you heard a finance minister say he/she has to raise taxes to pay for public services? How many times have you heard politicians talk about the need to cut spending? Or to balance budgets? Or for countries to live within their means? And how many times have you heard governments declare there’s no money left? Or that further spending would require ‘a magic money tree’?
Today’s world of internet-driven mass media, can give us some perspective of how it must have felt with the rise of radio broadcasting in the 1920s and 1930s. Having been used to our news coming from limited sources, we are suddenly inundated with voices from a seemingly infinite number of outlets. The net effect is that important events tend to get submerged in the tidal wave of information.
Wouldn’t it be great if all retirement fund solutions came in an app? Imagine, you tap the screen of your smartphone or tablet and up pops the formula to a successful pension strategy. If you’re not sure how it works, click on the link to watch the step-by-step video guide.
In Part One, I discussed how the popularity of shares in Apple is comparable to that of hot stocks in the 1920s. Here, I look further into that analogy.
You may recall the 1991 film L.A. Story, in which Steve Martin plays a TV weatherman who, thanks to the constant sun in Southern California, pre-records his weather bulletins. Well, I’m beginning to think it’s possible to do that regarding shares in Apple Inc.
If, by announcing a referendum on EU membership, the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron took the silliest political gamble in the country’s history, it has now been surpassed by his successor (one of the few sentences you’re likely to see Theresa May’s name in the same sentence as the word success).
Things are looking up in the world economy, apparently.
US stock prices are on the up – this time because of firms’ quarterly results, not just central bank force-feeding. Added to that, in its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF suggests that global economic activity is “picking up with a long-awaited cyclical recovery in investment, manufacturing and trade.”
In Part One, I wrote about the planned new changes for non-doms in the UK tax system. In this part, I’ll discuss how taxable property will be defined when the changes are eventually implemented.
Thursday 6th April, 2017 was a significant day in the UK. A new tax year began – and with it came a host of new rules, some of which were duly shelved!
Back at the end of last year, before the inauguration of President Trump (a.k.a. Agent Orange), the financial world was riding a wave of optimism from which I conspicuously absented myself.
Cast your mind back, if you will, to 2013, when the world seemed to be an altogether saner place… or was it? The White House may have been occupied at the time by someone who’s actually read a book without pictures; but it was also a time when the city of Detroit officially declared itself bankrupt, 15 MILLION people in Egypt demonstrated against their president and a Briton even won Wimbledon.
The UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has issued an alert regarding advice on UK pension transfers. And it’s about time, too.
Let’s not pretend Donald Trump’s Mexican wall is about economics; or that it will even be effective, for that matter. The Great Wall of China gives us a perfect example what a wall really means and what happens to those who rely on it.
As the United Nations celebrated the annual International Women’s Day on 8th March, I thought it worth a look at how close the investment business has come to equality.
Because of the currently extreme levels of elevated risk of permanent loss, investors who don’t want a high-risk strategy, should be angling towards protecting wealth, rather looking for a quick return.
Apparently, there are two big investment opportunities right now: the Trump Rally is on and Russia is good value. I’m not convinced, though. In fact, I think it’s all a load of… alternative facts. The true value lies somewhere else.
An alternative strategy to private debt going out of control was to write off debts and re-set the economy. This was the path chosen by Iceland and has seen household debt drop as quickly as it rose prior to the crisis.
January saw the publication of the Key Economic Indicators for the Euro Area. This regular report, compiled by the European Commission’s economics and finance directorate-general, provides an excellent at-a-glance summary of the Eurozone’s economic performance. It includes figures, notes and graphs on output, private consumption, prices, the labour market etc.
In previous decades, it has taken a while for the transitions between the various economic phases to fully eventuate. However, I would contend that the events of 2007-9 could have unfolded at any time from 2005 onwards, had there been suitable exogenous triggers to burst the western debt bubbles.
As was the case with 2016, we are in tumultuous times. So how can we navigate these treacherous waters?
While the election of Donald Trump was a major shock to many people on many levels, much of the shock value relates more to Trump’s own personality, especially the outrageous persona that he has created and developed during the last 2 US Presidential election cycles.
For some people, December is the season for celebrating and this has become an expensive time of year. So much so that retailers call the last three months The Golden Quarter. Alongside newspaper and internet advertisements telling us to buy, buy, buy, come a plethora of articles on how to cut down on the expense.
If you’re earning a Thai Baht salary, Retirement Mutual Funds (RMFs) and Long-Term Equity Funds (LTFs), can represent an opportunity for sizeable tax savings.
After Brexit comes Italy. On Sunday 4th December, Italians voted in a referendum that could well change the face of Europe. Yet the vote itself was an internal technicality: whether or not to reduce the powers of its parliament’s upper house, the Senate. This may have little direct effect on the European economy but the resulting No vote forced the Prime Minister’s resignation, which will likely sink the government and possibly bring down the whole European Union.
In these days of an unsettled, unpredictable global economy, it has become increasingly difficult to find Alpha: the active return on an investment. Central bank interest rates (generally the underlying allegedly ‘risk-free’ rates in a given currency, from which all other returns are ultimately derived) are incredibly low (if not negative) and commodities prices have dropped through the floor over the last two and a half years. Added to that, stock prices are very expensive – as illustrated by the S&P 500.
Being an independent investment advisor is about finding the most appropriate solutions to the highly individual challenges created by each client’s unique situation. That may not be the most controversial statement you read today, but it is as important a concept as it is simple.
Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections may appear seismic. But what of the aftershocks over the next few years?
For the investor, this is confusing. Is the oil market– and the companies which extract and distribute it - worth buying into as it bottoms out, promising and decent returns ahead? Or are these stubbornly low prices a new normal, offering little future margin? Away from direct investment, what effect does such confusion have on other markets?
Having looked at how the Australian housing bubble emerged in Part One, I now discuss excuses given for overvaluation, why the bubble is yet to burst and what will happen when it does.
Is the Australian property market truly resistant to a bubble burst, or is it just a disaster that’s taken a while, but is now ready to happen?
Bangkok – 20th October 2016: MBMG Investment Advisory was highly commended in the Best International Private Banking Service (Non-UK) category and nominated for the Best Best-Practice in Offshore award.
For the last seven years, several countries have seemingly been stubbornly obsessed with reducing public sector debt, which has prolonged economic malaise. However, there seems to be a rethink going on… and it’s not before time.
In this part, I look at HSBC’s analysis of whether equities are overvalued if stagnant and explain my view.
In the world of finance, you hear a lot of sayings and superstitions. I even heard someone say “buy Apple shares” once. But there’s one old adage that might actually have some substance.
Part 2 takes us through the birth of central banks to the virtual-money society we have today.
The existence of cash can easily be taken for granted. But it’s time to realise its role is changing and, as a global society, we should adapt to a situation which has been evolving for some time.
In Mid-August Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board published GDP figures for the 2nd quarter of 2016 – and they were impressive.
Thoughts on private debt and its effect on economies.
As a case in point, eight years after the GFC hit, the Eurozone’s four largest economies have low GDP, pitiful consumption, little or no improvement in the number of people employed and scary unemployment levels.
The last 12 months has thrown up a cornucopia of opportunities for global value investors. Gold, US Treasuries, minimum volatility/high dividend equities and US Dollar strength have all yielded not only handsome rewards but also diversification that has hedged equity Beta – the measure of volatility – in a way that has generated attractive risk-adjusted returns.
Following on from my look at the effects of the UK’s referendum result on currency markets, it’s now worth a checking out equity markets, the UK and global economies.
press reports showed that there was an unmistakeable sense, in the post-referendum pandemonium, of the gradual dissipation of sheer panic. Among all participants.
It isn’t just the UK’s referendum that depressed markets – they’ve been bearish for a while, in spite of desperate attempts to revive them and in fact many markets are now at higher levels than they were before their post-Brexit panic.
The UK’s Vote to leave has caused a lot of turmoil in the markets… but it’ll improve the global economy in the long run.
If you do a lot of travelling, here’s one way to ensure you don’t leave anything behind and don’t spend a fortune.
If there’s one conclusion that can be drawn from the build-up to the UK’s referendum on its membership of the European Union, it’s that if you’re not British, you should feel quite lucky right now.
It may not necessarily capture the imagination like a George Osborne speech (!?!) but ensuring you’re getting the best out of your UK pension has become more difficult to gauge than ever.
There could still be a way of putting your children through university which does not involve accumulating huge debts or creating gaping holes in your bank balance.
So you’re thinking of putting some money into an investment plan? Why?
That’s a key question which, with the plethora of information available to us today, is often forgotten. It’s all too easy to check the internet, download the app, watch the 24-hour business TV channels and become engrossed in Wall Street’s 1½-point rise between 2pm and 2.15pm today; but does it all really matter?
When asked what the stock market would do, J.P. Morgan – founder of the eponymous investment bank – famously said “It will fluctuate.” He is also widely attributed as commenting “The market will go up and it will go down, but not necessarily in that order.”
In his 2010 article published by The Gold Report, Ian Gordon shares a very similar view to me on the outlook for China.
Whatever a young man’s fancies turn to at this time of year, this grumpy old man tends to think of an article published by The Gold Report, having interviewed longwave economic forecaster, Ian Gordon, just over 6 years ago, which laid down its position clearly in the opening line...
Part Two looks at politicians’ views and the reality of offshore finance.
The revelations of the Panama Papers have put pressure on some high-powered people. But what do they reveal about offshore finance?
Having been off many people’s wish list for the last few years, gold has once again become a sought-after asset. Even with prices higher than in the recent past, it may still be worth buying.
It’s the fifth anniversary of the introduction of FATCA: a law requiring US citizens and the financial institutions they use – wherever they may be – to annually inform the US government of accounts. Just as its effects are becoming apparent and it’s proving to be a nightmare for some, there’s talk of the possibility the law may be repealed. As it stands, is it still beneficial for Americans to invest abroad?
Part Two shows how central banks are using the wrong tools in attempting to stimulate inflation.
Despite many apocalyptic words on the subjects, inflation refuses to rise for the moment. Is this likely to remain the case or could it rise quickly and affect investments?
The legacy drawer is a drawer that holds all of the important information your family needs in case something happens to you.
Property prices in Australia are still rising. Is that because the market is immune to a bubble burst or is everyone just putting off the inevitable?
There are many theories of how to calculate the amount of money you need to retire. Despite the plethora of formulae and algorithms, it primarily takes a clear head and accurate, detailed planning to get it right.
With such negative economic prospects, heightened volatility, nervous stock markets, seemingly imploding commodity prices and socio-political upheaval, it may appear that it’s not worth investing right now. But that’s not necessarily the case. It just requires an approach suited to the prevailing situation.
In Part 2 of my thoughts on forecasts of financial crisis in 2016, I look at China and other potential factors which may shape the global economy this year.
There are so many factors that could affect the global economy in 2016, analysts could actually be right for the wrong reasons – and that could be disastrous.
In the second part of my New Year wishes, I ask for debt jubilees, ending austerity and getting China’s economic statistics to a realistic level.
No-one can really predict what’s going to happen to the global economy in 2016. So, instead of guessing, here’s what I’d like to see.
Having hit the headlines with poor trade figures, a stock market crash and currency devaluations, analysts are predicting another difficult year ahead. But are these forecasts justified?
Earlier this week a major UK bank told its clients to sell everything except high-quality bonds to avoid the effects of a looming global deflationary crisis. But is that really good advice?
As the Thai government pours money into alternative energy, an encouraging example is emerging from an unlikely place: South America.
You may never consider planning your finances up there with bungee jumping, zorbing or parascending as an adrenaline-pumping pastime; yet it can enable you to do the more thrilling things in life.
Robo-advisors seem to be the talk of the financial world at the moment. Type the term into an internet search engine and you’ll see scores of articles on the subject. They also seem to be a major theme of just about every conference in the advisory sector nowadays. But what are they and do they work?
Here we go again! The hints are there but whether the decision-makers at the Federal Reserve will actually raise their base interest rate up from the minimal 0.25% remains to be seen. Despite all the conflicting opinions and data, they may stay put again.
If you own a property in Australia but don’t live there all year round, it may be worth looking at changing your loan or even selling up. There are several reasons why.
There’s a party about to start, to which Thailand has yet to be invited. The party’s a big one too: it includes 40% of the global economy. Is it one that will benefit Thailand in the long run though?
If you are earning a Thai Baht salary, Retirement Mutual Funds (RMFs) and Long-Term Equity Funds (LTFs), represent an opportunity for sizeable tax savings – but you may have to act quickly.
The AEC is set to become some sort of reality at the end of the year and it’s already possible – in theory at least – to invest cross-border. However there’s no proof as yet that all this is built to last.
The recent dip in Eurozone stock markets is a relief from recent inflated prices. Yet it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right time to buy.
Making sure we have enough money to live well after you finish work is a complicated task. That’s because we’re dealing with several uncertain variables – or known unknowns as American politics’ original Don, Donald Rumsfeld, might put it.
I was serious last week when I told CNBC’s Stephen Sedgwick that we are in a really scary, over-priced asset market and that the best thing the Fed could do for the US and world economy would be to raise interest rates to 10% and allow the biggest implosion of asset prices in history to force deleveraging.
I recently came across the excellent article written by Prof. Richard Werner on the error the European Central Bank is making in the type of quantitative easing it has chosen to implement.
The world spotlight is firmly on Brazil nowadays, with the country hosting the world’s two largest sporting events inside two years. Yet trouble is brewing: the economy once touted as a future star performer, is dragging while the government uses a time-honoured method in an attempt to drag the country back up.
Just before last night’s announcement was made, I was asked what the Fed could do that would shock me. I answered that three things would surprise me: that it would be decisive, show leadership and communicate clearly.
The Fed’s base rate has been touted to rise for a while now. But, with the latest policy decision expected in the next 24 hours, the question is not only “will it go up?” but “how?” Today I’ll look at what the Fed’s choices are and tomorrow I’ll analyse their decision.
It seems that all the financial news over the last couple of months has been about China. The dramatic crash brought international focus on the world’s second largest economy: yet as the media vans pack up and head off, the problems haven’t gone away and the government seems to be up to some funny tricks.
Monday 24th August apparently saw the most volatile session ever in the almost 120 years of the DJIA (in terms of the successive point swings). The next day was the biggest reversal since 2009, as the markets’ putative rally turned sharply and headed south.
As the Greek crisis takes a temporary break from the headlines, the Spanish government announced a significant drop in unemployment in July. Does this mean there’s light at the end of the euro-tunnel?
The US Dollar is particularly strong at the moment – especially against emerging markets currencies. Whilst currency exchange tends to ebb and flow like any other market, this may just be more than a short-term trend.
Gold prices recently hit a five-year low. So what’s happened to the precious metal and how are its chances of recovery?
In recent weeks, it has seemed to me that an illusionary trick has been taking place. Whilst everyone was concentrating on events in Athens and Frankfurt, the Chinese stock market was crashing before our eyes.
Just as we were heading towards the best solution for both Greece and Europe as a whole, the politicians once again stepped in to mess it all up.
The UK tax authorities’ new list of recognised overseas pension schemes (ROPS) has been published and there are several schemes which no longer appear.
After five years of negotiation, Greece has defaulted on its payment to the IMF. Funding from the international lenders has now ceased, as well as financial assistance from the European Central Bank. This may be a turn for the better.
As the summer holiday season approaches, the Chinese economy looks in rude health – the IMF measures it as the world’s second largest and predicts it will remain so at least until 2020. However, slowing growth and moves by the central bank to increase liquidity reveal a weak underbelly and an addiction to debt.
Thailand is a Gateway to Asia, according to the Thailand Board of Investment website. Yet can Thailand really compete with low-tax countries, strong neighbours and the economic might of southern China?
In Part 1, I compared Greece’s current predicament with the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. In the second part of the article, I look at how the IMF helped Asia out of crisis, what lessons it learned and whether these are or could be applied to Greece.
Every October in Greece, blue-and-white national flags go up on almost every public building and residence, as well as on the front of buses.
Part 1 looked at how the Roaring Twenties led to the Wall Street Crash and teh Great Depression. In Part 2, we discover how the past can cast shadows on our future.
Predicting the future is always a risky business. Accurately forecasting when changes will happen is impossible.
March signalled the sixth anniversary of bulls dominating the S&P 500 – and the run may have some more fuel in it yet, but for how long?
On Sunday China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) reduced its reserve-requirement ratio (RRR) by a huge 1% (or 100 base points), a record-equalling cut.
I’ve long held in great importance the concept of helping clients make sure their affairs are in order should anything happen to them. The right planning can ensure loved ones do not have to deal with financial complications during times of emotional distress.
As well as ‘getting more exercise’, one of the items that can be difficult to achieve in a To Do list is setting – and more importantly, sticking to – a personal budget.
Stocks and shares: tomorrow they could be up, the day after they could be down. Invariably, they’re at the bottom of a television screen. But are they worth all the scrutiny paid to them?
The last time that we were in debt-deflation was the 1930s. It took extreme policy measures to end debt deflation back then. Not the New Deal, not the Rentenmark but rather a policy, or at least an outcome, called World War II.
I’m increasingly described these days as a perma-bear or something of a pessimist. I think this is a little unfair because as I often point out, I’ve only been bearish for only most of the last 18 or 19 years or so and only in respect of most aspects of the global economy.
In the latest MBMG Investment Advisory Research Paper, The Last Innings, I’ve commented on last weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway AGM and the excitement of investors’ annual pilgrimage to Omaha to worship at the shrine of the insurance company’s iconic leader, Warren Buffett.
Post-World War II, there was a determination that the horrors that had covered much of the planet from 1939-45, and which had substantially emanated from rivalries among the European powers, must never be witnessed again.
A recent report concluded that members of Generation X are poorer than those from the Baby Boom generation.
Once again it’s the time when finance experts try to make predictions for the new year.
Like the man parading up and down the high street with a sandwich board, for most of 2014 I’ve been harping on about us coming to the end of the financial world as we know it.
Last week I heard Dr.Supachai Panitchpakdi address a Bangkok audience about the failings and weakness of the Thai economy...
Many of Shinzo Abe’s fellow party members disagreed with his decision1 when he dissolved the Diet in November.
The UK Parliament held a debate yesterday (20th November) on Money Creation and Society. This was first time money creation had been debated in the House of Commons since 1844.
November is a time of year when many Europeans and Americans reflect on Armistice Day, a commemoration of the end of the First World War.
It’s 85 years since Black Tuesday, the pinnacle of the Wall Street Crash, when 16 million shares were traded in one day.
As the year draws to a close, it is important to assess your tax. Just like the calendar year, the end of the tax year is 31st December. Although the filing deadline is not until 31st March, once 2015 begins, it’ll be too late to make any adjustments.
Like many western equivalents, Thai tax brackets work like filling buckets – once you reach the maximum of the bottom bracket, you move onto the second bracket and so on.
Many international schools negotiate health insurance plans with insurance companies for their expat employees. This collectivity gives more negotiating power and spares teachers the time-consuming process of seeking out an appropriate policy.
Saving for retirement or even just for a rainy day is often the last priority – quite literally ‘putting money aside’. Another approach is to pay yourself first before the electricity company, the bank etc.
Financial planning can be a complex business. That may not be the most controversial statement you read today, but it is something frequently overlooked.
Austerity is destroying the EuroZone and smaller emerging economies’ fates are out of their own hands and much more down to the whims of policy makers in DC and Peking.
The financial media has been dominated in recent weeks and months with speculation about ‘tapering’, ‘Septaper’ and ‘taper tantrums’...
Many investors seemed surprised by the news that “bond king” Bill Gross will leave PIMCO, the US$2 trillion fixed-interest focused asset management company that he co-founded in 1971...
In times like these, when governments are carrying too much debt, there’s one thing of which we can be certain: they’ll use taxes to try to balance the books.
I’m sure you’ve read several times recently that Australian house prices are at a precipice and will fall spectacularly off it any time soon.
If you spent any time in the UK in the 1980’s, you may be familiar with the national railway operator’s telling slogan We’re getting there.
If we are to believe certain analysts, the US is in the midst of a stock market boom, which began on 3rd September 2009.
When it comes to investment, one obvious place to put money is in bricks and mortar. Despite the global financial crisis (GFC), house prices have continued to rise in some of the world’s largest economies.
Back in March, Russia’s authorisation of its armed forces to be used in Ukraine brought about widespread condemnation, particularly from the EU1 and the US.
With 1st July being the first anniversary of Mark Carney’s tenure as Governor of the Bank of England, now is as good a time as any to take stock of how the UK economy is performing.
Coherent, consistent and successful. Those were the words used by Ben Bernanke in November 2013 to describe the Fed’s endeavours to enable the US economy to recover from the massive hits it took in 2008.
When localizing the global economy to nation-state level, there is understandably often a clear link with a country’s history. Despite its modernization Thailand has such a link, which to a large extent explains its middle income trap.
Despite the relatively low cost of living, many expats working in Thailand still neglect to put money away for their retirement.
If you believe what you read on the internet, many financial advisors have a reputation only slightly worse than a soi dog or a klong rat.
Whether you are intending to buy, to buy, rent or buy-to-rent, property trends and customs in Thailand can different to other countries.