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 →
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 →
“The first month of 2018 was a good one for the major stock markets which we cover in this Bulletin. We report on 12 markets and 11 of them made gains in January – in some cases, spectacular gains, which many investors would regard as more than adequate for a full year.”
Sadly, February was the exact opposite: 10 of the 12 markets on which we report were down in the month, following a global sell-off at the start of February. But that is the nature of savings and investment: stock markets rise and fall. Saving and investing is a long term business: a marathon not a sprint. Continue reading →
This last week has seen financial market corrections all over the world, with markets handing back the strong gains made since the start of the year. During discussions with clients this week some have asked why has this happened now? Ironically it all started with good news in the United States last Friday. This came in the form of higher than expected wage growth for workers. This in turn means that the US economy is doing well. But, at some point the Central Bank in America (The Fed) will have to increase interest rates to try and curb the rise of inflation.
Financial markets generally don’t like it when interest rates have to rise, although that sometimes this is inevitable. And so we have seen the equity markets react all around the world. There is a very old saying in finance – when Wall Street sneezes – the rest of the world catches a cold. And so this saying is still true today because with what happened in the US last Friday has sent a shock wave around the other parts of the world.
However, is this a start of a global downturn? Absolutely not in our opinion. The fundamentals of the global economy are still very strong. We are some way off a recession in many parts of the world, certainly in the US. It is just the financial markets having a little correction, that’s all. Ironically, we have had such a good run over the last 18 months or so that volatility (the downside of markets) has been something we are not used to. We have to get back to being used to it, simply because the way financial markets have been for the last 18 months is not really normal.
What should you do? If you have spare cash make use of the Impulse Save feature on the website, because it is a great time to add money to your portfolios. If you haven’t got spare cash do nothing, apart from stay off your website. As I always say ‘when financial markets are making the number one headline on the news, then you know it’s bad’ so leave off it for a while. Honestly, that is the best thing to do.
Another year seems to have flown by in the space of about five months. December, in particular, seemed to go past in a blur.
It was, however, the month when some progress was – finally – made in the Brexit negotiations. It was also the month when Scotland used its tax-raising powers to increase income tax, when Germany worried about Chinese spies using fake LinkedIn profiles and when yet more sanctions were heaped on the North Korean regime – which were predictably condemned as an ‘act of war’. Continue reading →
July got off to the best possible start when Janet Yellen, Chair of the US Federal Reserve, announced that there would be no more financial crises “in our lifetime.” Speaking on a trip to London, she said that the reforms of the banking system since the 2007 to 2009 crash had “minimised the risk of a similar disaster happening again.” Phew, that’s alright then. And if you’re reading this commentary, Ms Yellen, just skip over the bit about Italy… Continue reading →
Well, apart from the chaotic General Election in the UK. Oh – and the decisive win for Emmanuel Macron in the French parliamentary elections. And the start of the Brexit negotiations. And Italy was forced to bail out two more banks. President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement – and in Brazil, President Michel Temer was accused of corruption – the first sitting President in Latin America’s largest country to face criminal charges. Anything else? Just another global ransomware attack… Continue reading →
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