Category Archives: Finance

REPOST: Millennials Are Great at Saving Money but Reluctant to Invest It

Growing into adulthood during the global financial crisis is one of the many reasons many millennials are still hesitant to invest their money in the stock market. This and many other factors are explained in the following article from Entrepreneur:

A millennial is anyone born between the early 1980s and 2000, give or take a few years. The group before them is known as Generation X. And recently, a small slice in-between (1977-1983) was defined as xennials. Millennials are the largest group in history — bigger even than baby boomers. The group includes more women, and is more racially and ethnically diverse than any group before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (which counts millennials as 1982-2000). This gives millennials a lot of financial power, but they aren’t wielding it yet.

But one place millennials shine financially is savings. Three-quarters of millennials have savings, and they started earlier than previous generations. But when it comes to investing that money in a way that could create greater returns, the opportunity is getting lost. Nearly 80 percent of millennials are not investing, especially women. There are several best practices to get this generation on track.

But first, what’s holding millennials back? Many people cite that this group has struggled with fewer jobs and higher debt. Moreover, they’ve been victims to some unfavorable imagery, such as when Time magazine called them the “me me me” generation. Some of this misunderstanding is also due to their position as digital natives, using technology that confuses older generations with an ease and frequency.

There’s one last thing that we’re forgetting. Think about how many films and TV shows depict the trading floor as it was in the 1990s boom era or the 2000 crisis with people in suits answering phones, throwing stacks of paper into the air and staring at large computer monitors. The recession was part of their formative years. Is it any wonder that many young people associate investing with their parents and other products of the ’90s? Until we update the image of the financial markets, millennials may continue to associate stocks with other ’90s icons such as the Game Boy (1989) and Tamagotchi digital pet (1997).

Read more HERE.

Trillion-dollar asset club: Top countries with the largest banks in the world

Banks have played a vital and irreplaceable role in the history of economies around the world and the entire institution that they represent continuous to thrive and grow today. With a combined assets of $25.81 trillion, the world’s top ten largest banks are found scattered across the globe, mostly within the superpowers from Asia, North America, and Europe. Based on the 2017 Forbes Global 2000 and data from the annual S&P Global Intelligence rankings, these are the top countries with the largest banks in terms of assets:

  1. China
Image source: asiatimes.com

Many analysts aren’t surprised that Chinese banks once again dominated the rankings this year. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China together with China Construction Bank took the first and the second spot, with a $3.47 trillion and $3.02 trillion of total assets, respectively. The Agricultural Bank of China with a $2.82 trillion-asset took the third place for being the largest not just in Asia but globally, followed by Bank of China with a total of $2.60 trillion as of recent data.

  1. United States
Image source: ibtimes.com

U.S. banks are slowly gaining major ground with JPMorgan Chase leading the way with a $2.49 trillion-asset based on the recent global rankings, joining the group of the world’s top banking companies of the same influential financial caliber. As the world’s largest economy (based on nominal GDP), it does not come as a surprise that it also boasts of some of the largest deposits.

  1. United Kingdom and France
Image source: bnpparibas.com

Many European banks endured a tough 2016 after surviving several depreciations in its major currencies, the euro and pound, decreasing the relative size of the top countries’ assets piles. Nonetheless, HSBC in UK and BNP Paribas in France still hold a combined asset of over $4.5 trillion. The two are included in the nine European banks that made it to the cut of corporations with more than $1 trillion assets.

REPOST: Euro Gains on Strong Manufacturing Data; Oil Falls: Markets Wrap

Confidence in Europe’s sustainable growth has increased on the back of a surprise gain in a gauge of euro-region manufacturing. Know more from Bloomberg:

The euro was one of the standout gainers in an otherwise listless day in markets, as strong European data boosted confidence in the region’s growth. Gold and yen benefited as comments from President Donald Trump provoked another bout of investor caution.

The surprise gain in a gauge of euro-region manufacturing did little to spur the Stoxx Euro 600 Index, however, which retreated led by WPP Plc after the world’s largest advertising company cut its revenue forecast. Trump’s threats to end the flagship North American trade agreement and shut down the government over funding for his Mexican wall drove futures on the S&P index lower. Oil turned back toward $47 a barrel after U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose.

Surging demand for ‘Made in the Euro Area’ goods is feeding an economy that is creating jobs and finally also seeing price growth accelerate, providing some succor for the European Central Bank before the start of a central bankers’ meeting in Jackson Hole tomorrow. But on the other side of the Atlantic, Trump’s latest comments once again raised concerns about the administration’s ability to deliver fiscal stimulus, while heightening unease about the future of global trade.

“The Nafta hot air may be as much an excuse to take a step back after Wall Street’s surge yesterday, as it is a legitimate concern about the president not appreciating nuances of inter-dependence embedded in trade deals,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “The ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ thought process could lead to on-off markets.”

Continue reading HERE.

REPOST: China economy to grow 6.6 percent in 2017, topping government target despite policy curbs: Reuters poll

Of all major economies, China remains to be the most resilient. The GDP for 2017 is expected to grow robustly in spite of tighter financial conditions. The full story on Reuters:

 

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese national flag is seen at a port in Beihai, Guangxi province, China June 17, 2017.

China’s economic growth is expected to top the government target to reach 6.6 percent in 2017, tempering initial worries of a sharper slowdown as Beijing walks a policy tightrope with its quest to crackdown on financial risks and limit damage to the economy.

An upturn in global demand for Chinese goods could cushion the impact on growth from curbs on property and debt risks, which have seen a modest tightening in monetary conditions, economists said.

The government has targeted annual growth of around 6.5 percent this year, down from the 6.7 percent pace clocked in 2016 – the slowest in 26 years – as authorities stepped up their campaign to wean the economy off its reliance on years of cheap credit.

Growth in the world’s second-biggest economy is projected to continue cooling to 6.3 percent in 2018, the Reuters poll of 65 economists showed.

The forecasts for this year and in 2018 were both more optimistic than the polling results three months prior, as a slew of official data in recent months eased worries about a sharper downturn in China’s economy.

“We raised our forecast because the economy has fared much better than expected in the first half of the year,” said Betty Wang, a Hong-Kong based senior economist with ANZ Research.

China’s economy grew a surprisingly solid 6.9 percent in the first quarter, buoyed by a gravity-defying property boom and higher government infrastructure spending which helped boost industrial output by the most in over two years.

However, the impact of a cooling property sector on economic growth is starting to show up, as fixed asset investment growth in May slowed more than expected.

 

Tightening Regulations

The Chinese government has sought to tame soaring property prices by slapping a flurry of restrictive measures, stoking fears of a market collapse as real estate is a major contributor to economic growth.

A regulatory crackdown on unscrupulous lending and a modest shift to tighter monetary condition have fueled funding costs, as authorities seek to contain a dangerous build-up in debt that has ballooned to 277 percent of gross domestic product.

Yet, policymakers have been treading captiously in tapping the brakes ahead of a key party meeting in the autumn at which there will be a change in the top leadership.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) held back from matching a U.S. interest rate hike in June despite capital outflow pressures, and has injected liquidity into the market to avoid a credit crunch.

While growth in the second quarter is expected to have eased slightly according to the poll, solid exports in recent months have helped the economy weather tighter financial conditions.

Data on Thursday showed China’s exports rose a stronger-than-expected 11.3 percent in June from a year earlier.

“There are actually overshooting risks in the second half even as growth is set to be slower,” said ANZ’s Wang.

On a quarterly basis, China’s economy is expected to slow to 6.8 percent growth in the second quarter, 6.6 percent in the third and 6.5 percent in fourth quarter, the poll showed.

Still, analysts remain cautious about the longer-term economic prospects of the Asian giant. Property curbs and higher borrowing costs could gain more traction over the coming quarters.

“You don’t feel the pain initially,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“Companies can make do with less credit for now, but then lending starts to slow, as monetary conditions are still tighter, and that will eventually start to hurt,” he said, adding that the transmission time could take up to nine months.

Analysts believe the PBOC will keep benchmark lending rates unchanged at 4.35 percent through at least the fourth quarter of 2018, the Reuters poll showed.

They have pushed back their expectations on a cut in the amount of cash that banks are required hold as reserves, or the reserve requirement ratio (RRR).

The central bank is expected to cut the RRR by 50 basis points (bps) in the first quarter of 2018 to 16.5 percent, versus the April poll’s prediction for the 50 bps cut to be made in the fourth quarter of this year.

Analysts also expect annual inflation to be more muted at 1.8 percent in 2017, down from the actual 2 percent rate in 2016, probably reflecting a drag from low food inflation.

How the middle class is driving a new economic order

History will tell us that any emergence of a stronger middle class and their increased consumption of product and services are signs of a nation’s growth. For instance, the dramatic rise observed in Asian countries like China, India, and Indonesia has brought about the news of an unprecedented economic progress that could, in the long run, promote a corresponding development in both the political and social sectors.

Image source: fatherhoodcomission.com

The Asian economy is set to be the leading trade superpower in the world by 2025. This is because of the expected growth from intra-regional commerce, a boost from its present inter-regional trade.  As a result, the rise of Asia’s middle class will promote the advent of an economic expansion, giving opportunities for both the international and domestic businesses within and outside the region.

For instance, China’s popularity and strength in the world’s market demand won’t just focus on the products they are known for like mobile phones or home appliances. Economists suggest that there will remain a significant demand for other goods and services, all thanks to the growing purchasing power of middles class consumers from the developing world.

Image source: destinations.com.ua

Many believe that the emergence of a growing middle class consumer is a timely response to the declining export demand caused by the global economic crisis. With Asia’s economic contribution shifting towards domestic demand that targets household consumption, it will become less vulnerable to external stocks.

The great news is, the economic benefits that come with it won’t just be limited within Asian countries. In the long run, the imports to the continent’s regions will increase and a corresponding decline in the imbalance in the global trade is expected to promote a more sustainable economic growth around the world.

REPOST: How Asia Is Adapting To The Alternative Finance Revolution

Building capital for a business venture isn’t always easy, especially when such venture will cater to a niche market. In rapidly developing Asia, entrepreneurs have begun seeking non-traditional options to finance their startups, adapting the same trend that made the West the economic powerhouse that it is now. As a result, there is currently an alternative financing revolution happening in the region. Here are more insights from Forbes:

 

As alternative financial products gather momentum, China’s state-controlled banks are losing share of the nation’s 44.8 trillion yuan in household deposits. The same can be said for many major Asian banks. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

In more ways than one, alternative finance has made borrowing simple, swift and suitable. Over the last few years, alternative finance providers have grown in number and garnered significant acknowledgement and traction from stakeholders such as regulators, venture capitalists, banks, enterprises and investors. They provide financing outside the parameters of traditional lenders, most commonly banks. Breaking it down even further, alternative finance includes domains such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer financing, and invoice financing.

 

The rise of alternative lending

The sudden rise of alternative finance can be attributed to two reasons. First, the inability of traditional financial institutions to cater to certain segments of the market which need access to secure financial services. And second, because fintech firms have recognized these gaps, successfully experimented and developed solutions to fix these gaps with minimal red tape. Based on data from The World Bank, more than 200 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in emerging economies lack adequate financing, due to lack of collateral, credit history and business informality.  Until recently, alternative finance platforms have witnessed staggering success and even reached a stage of maturity in the Western markets, particularly in the U.K and U.S.

 

In recent times even the East has also joined the ranks and given the alternative finance industry a major boost. Countries such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and most recently Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and India have displayed a tremendously positive response to several platforms providing alternative forms of finance to enterprises and individuals. Rightly so, as Asia is home to a population of 4.4 billion and 5 key financial centers of the world. Aside from a considerably large consumer base and a relatively stable political system, most of the Asian economies emerged from the 2008/09 financial crisis in better shape than its western counterparts. The tightening of credit across several banks across the region has played a pivotal role in the growth of alternative finance in these markets.

 

A special mention must be made of the Asian regulators which are actively encouraging and supporting the growth of alternative finance in their respective countries. Singapore’s regulator has set aside $225 million to develop and support fintech projects locally. It has also eased the rules for financiers to increase the level of unsecured lending. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has even housed an innovation lab called Looking Glass within its building. Hong Kong Monetary Authority has created a system which brings banks, financial technology platforms and the regulator itself to collectively brainstorm and experiment on developing innovative solutions. In the same manner, China has become the largest P2P market regionally thanks to its government which encouraged the growth online finance to cater to the underserved market instead of solely relying on local banks. Japan has taken a step further to collaborate at an international level by partnering with the Financial Conduct Authority to encourage a cooperation between financial technology platforms in Japan and in the U.K to be able to operate in both countries.

 

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An overview on Double Tax Agreements (DTAs)

Image source: portugalresident.com

 

Different nations around the world follow specific taxation laws that must be carefully observed by their citizens; else, they will face legal consequences. Managing and understanding taxes can be challenging enough but imagine if you’re moving to another country. What are the things that you, as a non-citizen, should know when it comes to paying taxes?

 

More specifically, if an individual decides to move to another country either for work or to start a business, are they required to answer to their home country’s taxman and again pay taxes in the country in which their income or profit was made? Perhaps everyone can agree that this is inequitable and unfair. This is where double tax agreements (DTAs) come in.

 

Many countries including the United States make bilateral double taxation agreements with each other. In fact, the U.S. cover income tax treaties with an impressive number of foreign nations. This agreement ensures that alien residents and non-citizens either enjoy tax reduction rates or be exempted from U.S. income taxes on specified items of income they gained within the U.S.

 

Under this agreement, there are instances in which taxes should be paid in the country of residence but will be exempt in the country in which the gain was made. Other cases however require the opposite, and taxpayers can receive a foreign tax credit in the country where they currently reside as a form of compensation and a proof that tax has already been paid. However, this is only possible if an individual legally declares a non-resident status.

 

It should be noted that U.S. tax treaties include a “saving clause” to prevent individuals from the partner country who are legal citizens or residents of the U.S. from using this agreement to reduce their U.S. tax liabilities.

REPOST: Value Investing: Why You’re Doing It Wrong

As Warren Buffet puts it, value investing’s central contention is summed up in the maxim, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Know more by reading this article on Investopedia:

Tuesday, May 9 marks the 123rd birthday of the late Benjamin Graham, who is commonly known as the “father of value investing.” How would he feel if he could survey the value investing landscape today?

He might be pleased to hear that his disciple Warren Buffett, who has hailed Graham’s 1949 book “The Intelligent Investor” as “the best book about investing ever written,” shepherded Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK-A, BRK-B) to a 1,972,595% return from 1964 to 2016 (compared to the S&P 500’s 12,717%).

But Graham would also have plenty of cause for concern: according to a recent paper by U-Wen Kok, Jason Ribando and Richard Sloan, value investing is in a bad way

“Formulaic Value Investing”

In 1934 Graham and David Dodd wrote that thinking about book value – a firm’s net assets – as being the same as intrinsic value is “almost worthless as a practical matter.” To be sure, book value is one of value investors’ favorite metrics; Buffett lists Berkshires’ return in terms of book value (884,319% since 1964) right alongside its share price return. But Kok and her colleagues point out that self-described value investors increasingly content themselves with analyzing a firm’s value using book value alone or in combination with a few other narrow metrics, such as trailing earnings per share (EPS) or expected ones.

Such “formulaic value investing” tends to select firms with inflated fundamentals, the authors find, rather than underpriced shares. Value investing has “taken on a meaning we don’t think Graham and Dodd intended,” Ribando told Investopedia by phone Monday. And people are losing out on potential gains as a result.

Continue reading HERE.

The tech sector in the first quarter of 2017

 

Consumption of new and emerging technologies is higher than ever, helping the technology sector successfully win the race for the world’s top industry based on market size and total revenues.  Leading tech companies are especially powerful, with each of their avid customers gobbling up every single release that is made available in stores. Just a single glance at the stock market, one can clearly see that the industry as a whole has been having a happy 2017, so far.

NASDAQ overall has gained 9.8 percent since January, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled in at 4.5 percent. The S&P 500 Information Technology Sector posted a 12.5 percent growth for the first quarter of 2017, making it the undisputed leader among all sectors. It is followed by Consumer Discretionary (up 8.45 percent), Health Care (up 8.37 percent), Energy (down 6.68 percent), and Telecom Services (down 3.97 percent).

Ever since Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, the world economy has been plagued with doubt and uncertainty. That is why investors are flocking to IT companies because they are relatively unaffected by tax cuts and interest rates, apart from the fact that people are just plain hungry for innovations. Furthermore, if ever deregulatory moves and lowered business taxes materialize, those types of companies will benefit from them the most.

 

The top tech stocks

While the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) group are the obvious frontrunners in the tech sector, they are not necessarily the best performers for the last three months. Semiconductor companies performed quite more impressively.

Micron Technology takes the biggest slice of the cake, exhibiting a first quarter stock performance of plus 32.3 percent with a market cap of $31.97 billion. Their performance was truly remarkable, but those numbers are about to get even bigger later this year as the demand for NAND and DRAM chips are expected to rise even further.

In close second is Skyworks Solutions. They are just nearly 1 percent behind the leader, closing the first quarter at plus 31.4 percent. They are the ones who will be providing chips to the up-and-coming iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy 8. Once those phones make their debut later this year, the company will surely be able to make a killing.

Just like Skyworks, Qorvo has close ties with Apple for they are the primary supplier of the radio frequency semiconductors that are being used in iPhones. Just like its predecessor, they are also set to benefit from the upcoming sale of Apple’s newest product, the iPhone 8. Their first quarter performance was pinned at 30.1 percent with a market cap of $8.83 billion.

Optimism about the highly regarded Ryzen CPUs led to the gains that Advanced Micro Devices experienced. They did great with a 28.3 percent first quarter performance. Their market cap on the other hand was valued at $14.04 billion. Once the CPU is officially released, AMD’s earnings and revenue will certainly skyrocket, even surpassing expectations.

Tech companies are definitely performing strongly overall. Looking at the biggest winners for the past couple of months, it is clear that semiconductor and microchip companies are on the higher end of the spectrum, and further growth toward the end of the year is highly probable. Higher demand coupled with strong earnings will be the primary drivers. The industry’s future is shining very brightly that it is blinding.

REPOST: Free markets will do more for equality than high tax

How do we minimize, if not eradicate, income inequality? Is a major tax reform really the best solution to address such issue? Read this article on The Telegraph for some insights:

 

We need more superstar companies like Apple which will make more rich employees | CREDIT: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

 

Income tax rates of 50pc or more; a mansion tax and far higher inheritance and wealth taxes; more generous benefits to redistribute wealth to the poor – there are lots of ideas out there about how we can reduce inequality, and just about all of them involve a bigger role for the state.

But hold on. Is that really the right direction?

Some of the latest research suggests that what we really need is more competition.

Why? Because the only reason inequality has been rising in most developed countries is because a small group of “super-star” companies have broken away from the pack and kick-started dramatic rises in productivity and pay for their staff.

If that is true, then the only fix is to encourage more of those stars – and a tough, free-market competition policy is the best way to do that.

Continue reading HERE.