Category Archives: In Depth

Fitness for the older generation is a missed investment opportunity

With developed world populations ageing fast, you would think that entrepreneurs would be jumping at the opportunity to find new ways to cash in the silver dollar (pound, or euro, yen, etc).

The Covid-19 pandemic offers a big opportunity to do that – the key is for governments to act to facilitate it.

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ECB pays lip service to worries about inflating a housing bubble

The European Central Bank (ECB) raised its inflation target last week, at the same time going to great lengths to try to persuade people that it did not.

In the process, the central bank also stated that it will find a way to deal with an issue that is increasingly pressing: that of runaway house price inflation.

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A climate change accounting trick could save the planet

As more politicians become aware of the need to do something about climate change before we’re all swallowed by the oceans we came from, discussions are focusing on how to measure what countries are doing about it and what steps to take to contain it.

An accounting trick that could save the planet should perhaps be given more attention: adjusting each country’s gross domestic product data by the effect that particular country has on climate change.

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How to make renting attractive in the UK

Central banks have been busy saving the West from its own excesses since the great financial crisis of 2007, but in the process, they have made housing unaffordable for young people, particularly in the UK.

House prices have surged in many UK cities, with record low interest rates and money printing making homes more affordable for “investors” and less so for those who actually need them as places to live in, as opposed to assets to speculate on.

Despite record low mortgages and various subsidies, homeownership is increasingly unaffordable for a rising number of people.

The consequence is deepening inequality, which makes the UK look more like a feudal, rather than modern, society.

One of the ways to tackle the so-called “housing crisis” would be to make renting an option perhaps as good, if not better, than buying a property.

Here are four ways in which the UK government could go about making renting a truly affordable option for young people in the UK – and a few of the reasons why it will never do it.

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Emerging markets face three major headwinds

Emerging market assets have enjoyed robust performance despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with investors attracted by their higher yields and faster economic growth prospects in these countries.

But three headwinds could cut short their growth spurt: rising interest rates, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and the retreat of globalisation.

These headwinds are converging at a very delicate time for global markets, and at least two of them could persist for a long time.

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The Fed starts a dangerous dance with the market

With baby steps, the Fed and other major central banks are beginning their journey back towards some semblance of normality.

This will be a big resilience test for a financial system which, for more than a decade, has relied on repeated rounds of monetary generosity. Continue reading

Mortgage guarantee could sow the seeds of trouble

The UK government awarded hard-working medical staff a meagre 1% pay rise in the most recent budget, all the while splashing out on yet another indirect subsidy for house prices: the mortgage guarantee.

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As goes January so goes the year? Earnings surprises underwhelm

The US earnings season is halfway through, and on the surface, it is full of good news. And yet, far from being cheered up by this, markets have been going down. Why is that?

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Pay emerging markets to help stop climate change

Among developed countries investors, there are various interpretations of the strength of the commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in emerging markets, ranging from the cynical to the idealistic.

The cynical view would be that there can be no “real” ESG in emerging markets because too often they are plagued by corruption, therefore investors cannot trust what companies in these countries report.

The idealistic view, on the other hand, would see every little step towards introducing ESG as a wonderful sign that these countries are finally deciding to adopt the same values as Western democracies.

While both extremes are wrong, sadly even the moderate take misses the main difference between emerging markets and developed ones: the effect of development itself on ESG — and in particular on the “E”.

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Black box or Pandora’s box? Central bankers face dilemma

By Mirela Roman

This “like-no-other” Covid-19 pandemic is clearly a dangerously unique event, with ongoing severe economic and social consequences all around the globe. Nassim Taleb has famously described the Black Swan and more recently, BIS researchers pointed to the Green Swan in reference to the impact of climate change.

But the Covid-19 Swan is quite a combination of colours. It is an ongoing emergency situation, with fear often overcoming hope while anxiety heightens amid a decline in living standards.

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