In global terms it was a mediocre week for the euro. It lost half a Japanese yen and three quarters of a US cent. That was despite a half-cent jump on Tuesday after investors seized upon the almost certainly erroneous idea that the European Central Bank is about to begin winding down its asset purchase scheme. Uninvestable banks’ lending less money is not at all what ECB monetary policy aims to achieve. So investors put two and two together and, bingo! The ECB must be preparing the way for an early end to the QE scheme! The euro jumped a cent higher against the US dollar.
“Is it purely coincidence that there are no European equivalents of Apple, Microsoft, Google, eBay, Facebook, Netflix or Twitter?” Our latest investment report considers the relative merits of the US and Europe as places to do business and in which to invest. SAAC has been positive on US equities for over seven years. Over this time, this position has been challenged frequently, due to valuation and/or economic momentum.
The report considers a list of US companies that either do not have equivalents in Europe (Google, Amazon, Walt Disney Co. and Berkshire Hathaway) or are distinctly higher quality than their peers (Exxon, Coca-Cola, Visa and Nike) and concludes that, all other things being equal, the US is a more favourable environment for business. This is not simply about the market in which companies operate, but also about differences in management culture. Many factors could account for this, including the size of the US market, and its common language and legal infrastructure; access to capital and the approach of banks to lending; intellectual agglomeration around universities and Silicon Valley; and antitrust policies and political lobbying. It also considers microeconomic factors, such as capital allocation, remuneration and dividend policies.
As investors swung from nervousness to confidence and back again the safe-haven euro rallied and dipped and rallied again. The first swing related to the US presidential candidate's debate, which Donald Trump entered in the lead and came out of in second place.
John Westwood, Managing Director and founder of The Blacktower Group, has taken up the post of Chairman at FEIFA, the Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers, following the trade association’s AGM on 21st September.
Following two years as an Executive Committee Member John is both pleased and proud to take on this important role.
Brexit is still big news, despite there being no certainty about when it will begin or what will actually happen when it does. We probably won’t know what’s in store until Prime Minister Theresa May kick-starts the official negotiation process – at this stage it looks like this will be early 2017.
In the meantime, what can you do to protect your savings and investments?
The euro had no problem staying ahead of the British pound this week. It picked up a cent and a quarter on the week, extending its post-referendum gain to 11%. Sterling was in trouble again as the Brexit monster was reported to be emerging from its lair. As in the last three months there were no actual sightings but the rumour mill was churning with talk of a "hard Brexit" and the chancellor was said to have given up hope of remaining in the EU's single market.
Broadly, investors tended to favour the premier league currencies - the US dollar, the euro, the yen and the Swiss franc - over those of commodity exporters and emerging markets this week. It was symptomatic of a mood of caution that prevailed over all financial markets. The failure of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan last week to wheel out new stimulus measures has led investors to consider the possibility that industrial-scale central bank money-printing is coming to the end of the road.
People living in Great Britain can now only receive Housing Benefit for 4 weeks if they are out of the country. Previously, housing benefit claimants could continue having their rent paid for up to 13 weeks.
The new rules, which came into force last month, prevent claimants from taking long drawn-out trips outside Great Britain while receiving taxpayer help with their rent, as well as bringing Housing Benefit into line with Jobseeker’s Allowance and other working age benefits, which already have stricter limits.