We have commented before on the difficulty of ‘hitting a moving target.’ Sometimes in writing this commentary you run the risk of what you write being overtaken by events, and that has never been more true than this month. In the short time between us publishing notes and you reading them it is possible that the Brexit section will be different.
Given the fact that Brexit continues to dominate the news headlines it’s tempting to think it is the only important story. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were clear signs that the US/China trade dispute might be moving to an end, and it was an interesting month in the US with clear pointers to a sea-change in the car industry – something that has worldwide implications.
In the UK we had Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement, the usual gloom from the high street and continuing good news on employment. Continue reading →
October was, to put it mildly, an eventful month. It was a month which saw the majority of markets on which we report down steeply, as fears of higher interest rates in the US combined with worries about the US/China trade war. There was, however, one market that went up sharply: Brazil elected a new president – a man who, I suspect, will feature prominently in future commentaries.
In the UK, the Prime Minister survived the latest round of calls for her head, and the Chancellor delivered his Budget a month earlier than everyone had expected. Continue reading →
The financial crash after the Lehman Brothers collapse saw the biggest global monetary crisis since the end of WW2. It led to a lost economic decade for many – average incomes in the UK still languish far behind their 2008 peak.
15 September 2008, the fall of Lehman sent shockwaves around the world. It was (and still is) the largest bankruptcy of all time. The colossal investment bank fell with $639 billion in assets and $619 billion in debt.
Founded in Montgomery, Alabama by German immigrants in 1850, the firm grew towards the end of the 19th century as America became an economic powerhouse. For an investment bank that survived the railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression of the 1930s and two World Wars, it was a reckless rush into the doomed subprime mortgage market that proved a fatal error. Continue reading →
On Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 the United States will go to the polls to elect its next President. All the indications are that Donald Trump will stand for a second term and if the words of Bill Clinton – “It’s the economy, stupid” – are to be believed, he will win.
While not wanting to make a political comment or endorse his policies in any way that be welcome to some extent – he does provide plenty of news and entertainment for these commentaries, after all. September was no exception, as he ramped up the trade war with China, ordering tariffs on a further $200bn (£154bn) of Chinese imports, which will include electronic products and consumer goods such as handbags. Continue reading →
This time last year we produced our first End of Summer Review. We described it as a ‘reflection on some key events over the last few months’: would they, we wondered, ‘give us an idea of what might happen in the run up to Christmas?’
First of all, let’s reflect on what the world looked like 12 months ago. Continue reading →
August used to be known as the ‘silly season’. Everyone who made the news was away on holiday, nothing happened and newspapers were desperate to fill their pages. So rather more obscure stories made it into print…
That, of course, was before Donald Trump. And Brexit. And Venezuela, Argentina and Greece. And…
In short, August is now just another month and this year it saw the world’s two most powerful economies, the USA and China, continuing their trade war as the US imposed an additional round of tariffs on Chinese imports and Beijing inevitably retaliated. Domestically, there were more woes for Donald Trump as more members of his former inner-circle decided they would rather do a deal with the prosecutors than the President. Could he be impeached? At this stage it would seem unlikely but the net is tightening. Continue reading →
The news in July really could not have been much worse. The threat of a trade war between the US and China simmered throughout the month, and then on 31st July President Trump ramped up the tension with proposals of a 25% tariff on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese imports.
China has already placed retaliatory tariffs on some American imports in response to the first wave of ‘Trump Tariffs’ (they even have their own page on Wikipedia now) and will surely do the same to counter this latest move. Small wonder that credit ratings agency, Moody’s, warned that there could ultimately be tariffs on 5% of total world imports if the trade war continues to escalate. Continue reading →
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Let us invite you to travel back in time to June 2016, to the day after the Brexit referendum. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, campaigning in the US Presidential election is in full swing.
You are offered two glimpses into the future. The first is that two years on, the UK has apparently made no real progress in the Brexit negotiations. The second is that Donald Trump has been elected President and has had a successful meeting with Kim Jong-un. You would have dismissed both of them as ridiculous and yet that is exactly what June brought us, as Theresa May called yet another Brexit crisis meeting and President Trump met the leader of North Korea in Singapore.
…And then the President went on to announce a raft of tariffs on imported goods – from both China and Europe – which may well see the threatened global trade war develop. Both China and the EU were swift to announce retaliatory tariffs, and (unsurprisingly) June was a month in which none of the major stock markets we cover managed to gain any ground. Continue reading →
It looked for a long time that the main headline for this commentary would be the opening salvos in a trade war between China and the USA. The International Monetary Fund published a bullish report on world trade, saying that global growth will hit a 7 year high of 3.9% this year – giving a stark warning at the same time that trade risked being ‘torn apart’ by a protracted trade war.
But then came the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s, historic visit to South Korea and his meeting with President Moon Jae-in. There followed a bromance which would have been impossible just a few months ago, and a commitment to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. The meeting would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the year when North Korea was boasting of being able to reach the US mainland with its rockets: now Pyongyang says it will invite US observers to witness the shutdown of its nuclear site in May.
By the end of the month even the China/US threats and counter-threats seemed to have receded a little and most of the major stock markets which we cover made up losses suffered early in the month on fears of a trade war. There was, however, one significant fly in the ointment as the price of oil continued to climb: Brent crude went past $72 a barrel in light of the continuing troubles in Syria and the instability in the region. Continue reading →
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The start of 2018 has been an eventful time in the world of the stock market. After hitting highs at the end of January, both the Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 saw a considerable drop at the start of February, a fall from which the markets have now mostly recovered. At the time, however, this was reported as a ‘market correction’ by most media outlets. But what exactly does a correction mean in this context? Continue reading →
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