Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Investment Update and Forecast June/July 2018

Investment Update - June/July 2018

Generally, the month of May was consistent with the 2018 story of a global economy entering a mature stage characterised by market volatility, the gradual emergence of inflation, higher interest rates (primarily in the US) and a softening of global economic growth indicators. This cooling off period, which is usually accompanied with weaker equity markets, is likely to represent a healthy return to normal levels of growth as opposed to alarming signs of an economic deterioration. However, it is also likely to be true that the consistent and highly profitable financial markets are now behind us. Geopolitical issues in countries such as Italy, Turkey and Argentina also added new concerns for global markets over May.

The OECD’s most recent general assessment of the global macro-economic environment predicts that expansion is set to persist over the next two years, with global GDP projected to rise by close to 4% in 2018 and 2019. Growth in developed countries is predicted to remain around 2.5% per cent per annum, helped by fiscal easing in many economies. It is also considered that GDP will strengthen to close to 5% growth among some developing countries.

Although job growth is likely to ease in advanced economies, the OECD-wide unemployment rate is projected to fall to its lowest level since 1980, with labour shortages intensifying in some countries. Wage and price inflation are accordingly projected to rise, but only moderately, given the apparent muted impact of resource pressures on inflation in recent years and the scope left in some economies to strengthen labour force participation.

US 10-year bond yields started strong in May and pushed through the psychologically important 3% barrier. However, the political upheaval in Italy toward the end of May caused U.S. Treasury yields to post their largest daily decline in nearly two years, and at the end of the month, traded well below 3%.

The rally continued in oil markets early in May. The latest spur for price rises stems from American sanctions on Iran which drove Brent crude close to $80 a barrel, the highest level in four years and up by almost 50% from a year ago. However, later in the month prices dropped and traded at around $70 a barrel as supply concerns eased.

The US
While America and China continued negotiations, trade conflicts opened on new fronts. Japan, Russia and Turkey notified the World Trade Organisation that they would follow the lead taken by the EU and India in applying tariffs on American steel and aluminium in retaliation for the duties America recently imposed on such imports, unless those duties are reversed. Mr Trump, meanwhile, signalled a new battle with Europe and Japan by ordering the Commerce Department to look at imposing tariffs on imports of cars on the ground of national security, the same argument that lies behind the levies on steel and aluminium. However, so far tough talk by the White House to renegotiate trade relationships has ended up as incremental concessions.

The US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) preferred inflation gauge, the change in the core Personal Consumption Expenditure Index, reached 1.9% at the end of March. This supports the expectation that the Fed will increase the Fed Funds Rate by a further 0.50%-0.75% in 2018, with further increases expected in 2019.

The Fed continues to include the word “gradual” in its commentary regarding the expected future path of interest rates, so not to alarm markets.

If the current level of job growth is maintained and the proportion of people participating in the labour market remains unchanged, then a 3.5% unemployment rate could be hit in a year’s time. In this scenario wage inflation is likely to be the biggest concern for the Fed.

The UK
Although the Bank of England left rates unchanged in March, two members of the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) voted to increase rates suggesting a tightening bias existed for the UK.

Italy’s political turmoil unnerved markets. Italy had been without a government since its March election, which yielded a hung parliament with no party or coalition holding a majority.  The recent jolt to markets came after populists named Paolo Savona, an economist who thinks that Italy should quit the euro, as finance minister. President Sergio Mattarella vetoed Mr Savona and the populists threatened for a moment to impeach him and even hinted at a march on Rome. Amid talk of a political, constitutional and economic crisis, bond yields spiked and global stock markets shuddered. The yield on Italian sovereign bonds rose at a pace not seen since the euro-zone debt crisis. The ten-year bond yield rose to 3%, the highest level since 2014. Ignazio Visco, the governor of the Bank of Italy, warned the quarrelling politicians about the danger of “losing the irreplaceable asset of trust”.

Emerging Markets
Argentina faces pressure to hasten economic overhaul. President Marci’s efforts to curb inflation and jump-start the economy without shocking Argentina hasn’t gone as planned. Investors continue to question the Argentina central bank’s credibility as it cut interest rates in January to support growth despite inflation at 25%, well above target. They worried about the government’s ability to reduce expenses to plug the fiscal gap and enact regulatory changes intended to improve business competitiveness and cut red tape.

Facing a currency crisis, Turkey’s central bank simplified its system of multiple interest rates. The one-week repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds) became its new benchmark, which it also doubled to 16.5%. The central bank’s governor met investors to offer reassurances that monetary policy would tighten further if inflation remains stubbornly high. The Turkish lira, which has taken a battering over concerns that the central bank’s independence is under threat from politicians wanting lower interest rates, rallied in response.

While Australia’s Reserve Bank and Treasury anticipate growth picking up to 3.25% over 2019 and 2020 many market commentators are predicting more conservative growth of around 2.5 – 2.7%. The sceptical commentators attempt to balance the growth story of strong non-residential construction, government investment and exports with reservations around slower residential construction and potentially weaker consumer spending.
Spratt Financial Services
09 307 8200

Jonathan Parsons, AFA, M.Mgmt, Dip. Fin Plng.
027 201 3470


Monday, March 5, 2018

Financial News Roundup March 2018

1. Auckland Maori Hapu to provide free health insurance for its members. - NZ Herald

Auckland based Ngati Whatua Orakei has joined with NIB to provide its members free health insurance in an arrangement that is likely to cost around $3 million annually.  

2. Thousands of recently built homes covered by liquidated CBL Insurance. - Stuff.co.nz

The Insurance for thousands of recent homes covered for shoddy building practices could be put into limbo as CBL Insurance has officially gone into liquidation.

3. What went wrong at CBL? - NZ Herald

In a follow up to the previous article, the Herald looks at what factors surrounded the collapse of CBL and how it went from a trusted insurer to liquidation in the NZ marketplace.

4. Home Insurers crack down on Meth Claims. - NZ Herald

As overall claims for methamphetamine related damage increases year over year, insurers have greatly hiked excesses for meth claims and premiums to curb losses.

5. Kiwisaver fee drop 'missed the mark'. - Good Returns

A review of the default fees for KiwiSaver providers led to only two of nine major providers changing their fees in response.

6. Partners Life introduces a new range of level premium options. - Good Returns

Partners Life have introduced level premium (fixed premiums which remain the same until an agreed upon age) options for its suite of personal and business insurance products.

7. A bumper year forecast for mergers and acquisitions. - NZ Herald

Pent up demand following last year's elections may lead to a major year for acquisitions and mergers, industry insiders tip.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How Insurance/Investment can help your child complete their education.

When we think about our financial commitments and our debts, sometimes our child's education can slip by under the radar. Everyone knows about their mortgage, their utility bills and their credit cards, but how much its really going to cost to guide your child or grandchild through their education is often not figured into the equation. 

Private school or university fees can range from $5,000 - $25,000 per year, which is a substantial financial commitment and something worth thinking about. So if your child is starting or continuing their secondary or tertiary education in the New Year, here's what it might pay to take into consideration in your financial plan.

1. You May Qualify For Special Events Increases

In some insurance policies, special events clauses allow you to make changes to your insurance free and with no additional forms, checks or processes required. Having a child begin their secondary or tertiary education counts as one of these events under certain providers. This means that you can increase your sum assured or make changes to your plan quickly, easily and without stress. If you are a primary income earner who supports your child or grandchild as they go through their education, you can make sure that their education costs will be covered by taking the time to review and taking advantage of these clauses. 

We highly recommend taking the time to check with us if you qualify, or to review your insurance plan to make sure this new debt/liability will be taken care of and your child will be able to complete their education no matter what happens.

2. Review Your Existing Insurance Plan

If your child is starting or continuing their education it may be a prudent plan to conduct a review of your existing insurance factoring in these new financial commitments. We may find that some changes need to be made or may even be able to save you money, whilst still providing for your debts and making sure your child or grandchild has a safe, assured pathway through their education and into their chosen career. All our insurance reviews are completely free and no obligation, so you have nothing to lose.

3. The Benefits of Your Child Being Insured Early

In addition to thinking about your own insurance as your child/grandchildren start their education, its worth giving a thought to theirs as well. Getting a health and/or critical illness insurance policy in place for them has numerous practical benefits that can help make sure they and the family can overcome the financial obstacles illness or injury could present to their education and beyond.

Securing insurance cover young can mean:

  • Securing insurance cover young means cheaper and cost effective premiums.
  • Any conditions developed later on in life will be covered. Getting in young means less time for pre-existing conditions to develop which could mean possible savings of thousands or even tens of thousands in the long run. It meant exactly that for our team member who was diagnosed with Crohn's at the age of 20.
  • No exclusions, conditions or additional loading expenses in your policy.

4. Consider an Education Investment Fund

Our professional investment services can offer managed funds without a minimum starting amount - perfect for an education fund that can grow and prosper over time, eventually helping your child or grandchild finish their education successfully, without the burden of too much debt on their life. Backed by the most cutting edge research, we can consult with you and find the best option for your unique financial situation. If you want to get started or make an enquiry, just contact us today and ask a question or request a free, no obligation consultation.