Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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POST-BREXIT - USA versus EuropeIs 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.

Euro Weekly UpdateAs 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.

Blacktower MD, John Westwood, to take FEIFA forward into Brexit as ChairmanJohn 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.

Tips to future-proof your finances in the face of BrexitBrexit 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?

Euro Weekly UpdateThe 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.

Euro Weekly UpdateBroadly, 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.

New Housing Benefit limits for claimants going abroadPeople 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.

Europe's PIIGS - Where are they now?A few years back, the European debt crisis hit the "Piigs" with a resounding clout: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

The European Union and the European Central Bank lent large sums to all these countries. As we all know, Greece have defaulted and remains in a perilous position. Ireland, and to a lesser extent Spain, have recovered and resumed growth, whilst Portugal and Italy have not.  The Italian crisis is larger and more significant since it is a much larger economy than Portugal and Greece. There is much concern for the Eurozone banking sector, as capitalisation is needed urgently.