Words from the (Investment) Wise for the Week That Was (November 2 - 8, 2009): Part II

By: Prieur du Plessis | Sun, Nov 8, 2009
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Asha Bangalore (Northern Trust): Auto sales rebound in October
"Sales of autos rose to an annual rate of 10.2 million units in October from 9.2 million in September. Attractive incentives helped to push sales in October. Consumer spending is most likely to make a positive contribution to real GDP in the fourth quarter, but a relatively smaller gain compared with the 3.4% annualized increase during the third quarter. Auto sales ranged between 16.2 million - 17.4 million units during 1999-2007. In the first three quarters of 2009, sales of autos have averaged 10.2 million units. Effectively, auto sales have dropped a little over a third of the pace seen in the eight years ended 2007."

Source: Asha Bangalore, Northern Trust - Daily Global Commentary, November 3, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal: Business bankruptcy filings increased 7% in October
"Business bankruptcy filings jumped in October, reversing two consecutive months of declining commercial filings and indicating that bankruptcies could continue to rise as the economy struggles to stabilize.

"Last month, 7,771 businesses filed for bankruptcy protection, compared to 7,271 that sought shelter from creditors in September, according to new data from Automated Access to Court Electronic Records, or AACER, a private firm that tracks bankruptcy filings.

"After two months of decline, the 7% rise in commercial filings shows that businesses are still struggling to access financing and are facing weak demand for their products.

"'The margin for success is so thin that any financial hiccup' could cause a business to file for bankruptcy, said Jack Williams, a bankruptcy professor at the Georgia State University College of Law.

"The tight credit markets since 2008 'will only be exacerbated' with small-business lender CIT Group Inc.'s (CIT) Chapter 11 filing Sunday, he said.

"The hardest-hit industries continue to be real estate and retail, but weakness in those sectors trickles down to a number of other areas, including home building and manufacturing, Mr. Williams said.

"On a year-to-year basis, business bankruptcies shot up 24% in October compared with the same month in 2008. Mr. Williams called that increase 'substantial' and said it is a bad omen for the final months of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010."

Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2009.

CNBC: Wilbur Ross on commercial real estate
"Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co., discusses the state of commercial real estate."

Source: CNBC, November 3, 2009.

Financial Times: Obama signals rethink on bank oversight reform
"The Obama administration could support a bolder consolidation of bank regulators, an official said on Tuesday, as the US Senate prepared legislation to streamline financial supervision.

"Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, could unveil a draft bill next week that reduces the country's bank regulators from four to one, retaining a separate division for smaller banks.

"An administration official said there could be a way to support a more drastic consolidation than that outlined by the Treasury in June, which proposed merging the Office of Thrift Supervision into the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

"Barney Frank, chairman of the House financial services committee, has said that further consolidation is a non-starter, with regulators protecting their turf. The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are the other two national bank regulators.

"Others in Congress have questioned whether a streamlined system, such as the UK, has proven any better during the financial crisis.

"'The only argument Dodd seems to hear against a single bank regulator is that it is a politically difficult move, not that it is a bad idea,' said Kirstin Brost, spokeswoman for the Senate banking committee.

"As the Senate aims to publish its bill soon, Mr Frank was on Tuesday proposing changes to his version of the regulatory overhaul as he and the administration try to put the legislation back on track."

Source: Tom Braithwaite, Financial Times, November 4, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal: Geithner testifies on regulation
"The Federal Reserve should lose its authority to bail out big, failing financial firms like AIG and Bear Stearns under proposed reforms aimed at limiting the collateral damage from such failures, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said."

Source: The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2009.

Financial Times: Buffett bets $27 billion on US
"Warren Buffett on Tuesday struck the biggest deal of his life with the $26.6 billion purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, one of the largest US railroad operators, in what the billionaire investor called an 'all-in wager' on America's economic future.

"The cash-and-shares deal by Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which already has a 22.6% stake in BNSF, caps a long search by the legendary investor for an 'elephant' deal to deploy his vast cash pile.

"The takeover deepens Mr Buffett's exposure to the US-focused old-economy sectors that have long been the backbone of his empire alongside financial services, and underlines his confidence in a rebound in domestic growth. 'It is a very solid business ... that will do well if the economy does well and I believe the economy will do well,' Mr Buffett told the Financial Times.

"After a few overseas purchases prior to the crisis, Mr Buffett refocused on the US during the turmoil, buying into then-ailing corporate icons like General Electric and Goldman Sachs and urging Americans to purchase shares.

"Doug Kass, general partner at the hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management and a former Berkshire shareholder, said the BNSF takeover could be a defining moment for the 79-year-old investor. 'Considering the size, this could be Mr Buffett's coup de grâce on the deal world. And it's going to take a while to absorb it. I think it's his last meaningful deal,' he said."

Source: Francesco Guerrera, Justin Baer and Robert Wright, Financial Times, November 3, 2009.

Financial Times: JGB yields reach a three-month high
"Japanese government bond yields closed at their highest level in three months on Thursday as poor demand at a 10-year bond auction underscored concerns over rising issuance in the world's largest bond market.

"The benchmark 10-year JGB yield rose 3 basis points to 1.44 per cent. At the Y2,100 billion auction, 37.6% was accepted at the lowest price, and that price was the lowest since February.

"Rising bond issuance is also alarming investors in other countries as governments issue record amounts of debt to finance stimulus programmes and, in some cases, bail out their banks.

"In Japan, investors are concerned because a tax shortfall is going to have to be covered by additional bond issuance, and poor demand from retail investors is going to force institutions to pick up the slack.

"That could result in an additional Y6,000 billion of Japanese sovereign bond issuance in the current financial year.

"Japan's ministry of finance said earlier this year that it planned a record Y44,100 billion in new bond issuance in the fiscal year to March to pay for economic stimulus and offset falling tax revenue.

"Since then, concerns have grown over how the new government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, will finance the promises made in its manifesto.

"Christian Carrillo, a senior strategist at Société Générale in Tokyo, said that although the Y44,000 billion was 'quite do-able', a figure of Y50,000 billion was a 'bit more doubtful'.

"'[This] is the reason why you see the market so tense right now,' Mr Carrillo said. 'The basic issue is: how is the market going to be able to digest the increase in supply.'

"But Mr Carrillo said it was important to remember that the vast majority of Japan's debt was held internally, so it was less vulnerable than countries where significant amounts of debt were held in foreign currency and by overseas investors.

"Japan's huge issuance this fiscal year is likely to take the country's debt to gross domestic product ratio close to 200%, making it one of the most indebted governments."

Source: Lindsay Whipp, Financial Times, November 5, 2009.

Charles Kirk (The Kirk Report): November trends
"Historical trends have not been particularly useful this year, but I know many of you like for me to pass this kind of information on so I'm more than happy to do so.

"A few things that you may want to know include:

"The Dow has been down only three Novembers in the last 14 post-election years

"Today [Monday] starts of the 'Best Six Months' of the year. Investing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average between November 1 and April 30 and then switching into fixed income for the other six months has produced a +7.6% gain versus the +0.6% gain since 1950.

"Historically, November is the number one best performance month for the S&P 500. It is also the number two best performance month historically for the Nasdaq since 1971.

"As you can see from CXO Advisory's trading calendar, November tends to start off strong, pull back, and then close with a nice gain."07-11-09-15

Source: Charles Kirk, The Kirk Report, November 2, 2009.

Bespoke: Another dip in the earnings beat rate
"More than 1,800 US companies have now reported third quarter numbers, and as shown below, the percentage of them that beat earnings estimates has dropped below 70% to 69%. Based on the first half of earnings season, it looked like this quarter might register the highest 'beat' rate in at least a decade, but if the trend continues, this quarter might not even beat the 68% reading seen in Q2 '09. Earnings season ends next Thursday when Wal-Mart reports."

Source: Bespoke, November 6, 2009.

Patrick Moonen (ING Investment Management): Dividend growth in 2010
"Global earnings per share growth should see a strong rebound next year - paving the way for a recovery in dividends, says Patrick Moonen, senior equity strategist at ING Investment Management.

"'During the current recession, corporates have seen the biggest earnings decline in at least three decades,' he says. 'One of the big differences compared to previous recessions was that this time round, dividends were also dramatically cut.'

"Mr Moonen says a lack of easy finance and the subsequent rise in corporate bond yields made companies reluctant to distribute their cash flow.

"As a consequence, the payout ratio, which historically jumps during profits recessions as companies prove reluctant to cut dividends, remained near the long-term average.

"But he argues that a swift turnaround in profits means dividends now have room to grow above their long-term average.

"'Corporate earnings have passed the low point of the cycle. This happened very quickly due to aggressive cost-cutting, lower capital expenditures and a steep downturn in inventories.

"'A direct consequence was that operating margins troughed well above previous recessions and above analysts' forecasts.

"'We currently prefer European to US equities due to their more favourable valuations. We also like emerging markets, as they offer superior fundamentals and earnings growth at similar valuations.'"

Source: Patrick Moonen, ING Investment Management (via Financial Times), November 2, 2009.

Bespoke: Percentage of stocks above 50-day moving averages
"With the S&P 500 moving back above its 50-day moving average, the percentage of stocks in the index above their 50-days is unsurprisingly back above 50% - 51% to be exact.

"But there are still a few sectors that have failed to get this 50-day indicator back above 50%. The Financial sector ranks the worst with just 29% of stocks above their 50-days. Technology, Materials, Utilities, and Telecom are the other four sectors that still have less than 50% of stocks above their 50-days.

"On the positive side, Energy and Consumer Staples rank the best with a reading of 73%, followed by Industrials and Health Care at 63%. For this market to break to new highs once again, we'll need to see the Financial and Technology sectors rally back more than they have over the past couple of days."

Source: Bespoke, November 5, 2009.

Bespoke: Sector relative strength - technology and financials
"The charts below show the relative strength of the Financial and Technology sectors versus the S&P 500. In each chart, a rising line indicates that the sector is outperforming the S&P 500 while a declining line indicates underperformance. We have also included dots showing each time the Fed has recently cut rates (red) or left them unchanged (blue dots). Given the fact that the two sectors are the most widely followed sectors in the market, any meaningful rally in equities will need to see both sectors participating.

"With the overall market correcting, it is not surprising to see that Financials have been weak. In the days and weeks ahead, it will be important for this sector to stabilize or pick up now that it has moved back down to the range it was in for much of the Summer.

"While the Financial sector is lagging, the Technology sector is improving. After peaking back in July on a relative basis, the Technology sector has stabilized and has been improving over the last two to three weeks. If the sector can break above its prior peak, it should set the stage for an end of year rally. Otherwise, the market will be in for more of the recent lackluster action."

Source: Bespoke, November 5, 2009.

Richard Russell (Dow Theory Letters): Stocks could decline rapidly
"I don't believe most investors understand the significance of the possibility that the March to October rally was an upward correction in a bear market. The majority of analysts believe that the advance that started from the March lows represented the beginning of a new bull market. I disagree, and do not believe March marked the start of a new bull market.

"For the sake of argument, let's just assume that I'm right and that what we've seen since March was a bear market rally. If that's true, we're in a very dangerous situation. It appears to me that the rally is in the process of topping out. Again, let's assume that we've been in a bear market rally. If the rally is indeed topping out, then the stock market will soon be again in the grip of the bear.

"The rally ran from March to October, a period of seven months. In other words, the bear market has been 'held back' for a period of over half a year. My thinking is that the bear is 'angry' at being held back, and it will probably want to make up for lost time in the period ahead. From everything I see, hear or read, I gather that almost everybody believes the March lows are safe, that they will not be violated, no matter what.

"However, if the bear market rally is now in the process of breaking up, my thought is that stocks could decline very rapidly, much faster than most people are prepared for. If late-coming traders suspect that the rally is over, we could see a frenzy to get out of this market. This along with a panic from pros who want to get out with what profits are left."

Source: Richard Russell, Dow Theory Letters, November 3, 2009.

David Fuller (Fullermoney): Modest US recovery best recipe for stocks
"For equity investors, and not just in the West, a distinctly modest US economic recovery could be the best recipe for further stock market gains. While this may sound counter intuitive, equities often do well in a slow growth environment because monetary policy remains accommodative, enabling efficient companies to prosper. Conversely, strong growth forewarns of tighter monetary conditions which eventually choke-off bull markets.

"Surprisingly, this point is often lost on economists and fundamental analysts who constantly fret over the lack of strong growth to validate stock price appreciation. Investor sentiment will remain net favourable provided that equity indices are trending higher, with the help of accommodative monetary policy, and the economy appears to be heading in the right direction, however gradually.

"Meanwhile, there is little doubt, in my view, that stock markets and commodity markets continue to lead asset price inflation, reactions and the occasional correction aside, fuelled in no small part by expansionary monetary policies. The higher these markets go, the more likely it is that the Fed will become less accommodative. However not all markets are equal and I believe it is an eventual spike in crude oil prices that central banks and therefore investors will fear most.

"Recently, a corrective phase has been evident for stock markets and many commodities. This is removing some of the froth from asset price appreciation and a further pause would reduce calls for central banks to 'do something'."

Source: David Fuller, Fullermoney, November 2, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal: Equity investors should be careful what they wish
"Equities seem to be pricing in a normal recovery. But normal recoveries tend to be accompanied by much stronger GDP growth than economists are expecting for the coming year. A normal recovery growth rate could see a sharp unwind of central bank policy, which would do some serious damage to both stocks and bonds."

Source: The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2009.

Simona Paravani (HSBC Global Asset Management): Get the Latin feeling
"Investors looking at emerging markets should favour Latin America over Asia in the near-term - in spite of Brazil's imposition of a tax on foreign stock purchases, says Simona Paravani, global investment strategist at HSBC Global Asset Management.

"She points out that LatAm equities are trading at a more than a 40% discount to emerging Asian equities, versus a five-year average discount of just 5%, based on 12-month trailing price to earnings ratio.

"Ms Paravani argues that the valuation case is further supported by a buoyant macroeconomic picture. HSBC's central scenario is for Brazilian growth to be 5.3% in 2010 - which will in part be driven by strong Asian demand for commodities.

"She does note some hesitation among investors about LatAm equities after Brazil's recent move to levy a 2% tax on foreign purchases of real-denominated shares and fixed-income securities.

"'This has raised worries there will be ramifications for the whole region, not only because Brazil accounts for 70% of the MSCI Latin America index, but also because similar policies are being adopted or considered by other LatAm countries.

"'This measure is clearly not market-friendly and should create volatility in the short-term. But it is unlikely to have a major impact as the fundamentals of the Brazilian economy and corporates are very sound and should continue to attract inflows.'"

Source: Simona Paravani, HSBC Global Asset Management (via Financial Times), November 3, 2009.

Reuters: PIMCO's El-Erian says Fed fuels dollar carry trade
"The Federal Reserve will continue to foster a US dollar-funded carry trade with its near-zero interest rate policy, Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of Pacific Investment Management Inc., said on Wednesday.

"The so-called carry trade refers to borrowing at low short-term rates - in this case, in the US dollar - to buy high-yielding, long-dated securities in other markets. The intention is to profit from the rate differential, although rising short-term rates make this strategy riskier and less profitable.

"Investors worldwide will keep borrowing dollars to buy assets including equities and commodities, fueling the risk of huge bubbles, given the Fed's stance, El-Erian told Reuters.

"As expected, the US central bank reemphasized its pledge to keep interest rates 'exceptionally low' for an 'extended period' as long as inflation expectations are stable and unemployment remains elevated.

"Policymakers kept their benchmark overnight lending rate in a range between zero and 0.25% and conditioned its commitment on rates based on 'low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations'.

"'The simple message from today's announcement is that the Fed does not wish to rock the boat. I suspect many in the markets will interpret the Fed statement as a green light to pile onto the momentum trade in risk markets, further increasing the dollar-funded carry trade,' El-Erian said.

"El-Erian said the Fed 'welcomes the pick-up in economic activity and provides reassurance on inflation, but it does not address some of the more controversial issues that are increasingly on the mind of many.' That includes the value of the dollar and 'the risk of another asset bubble', El-Erian added.

"'The Fed statement will, in the short term, add fuel for the dollar-funded carry trade.'"

Source: Jennifer Ablan, Reuters, November 4, 2009.

MoneyNews: Marc Faber - I am long the dollar
"The US dollar may appreciate well over 10% against the euro during the next quarter, says Marc Faber, the economist known as 'Doctor Doom' to investors.

"Faber has long predicted the dollar's complete collapse, so the dollar rally for him is an interesting turn of events.

"'Maybe the dollar has made a turn; it can easily rebound by 10%," Faber told Bloomberg News.

"'It may have started already since the asset markets started to go down 10 days ago.'

"'I don't think that the dollar will be a strong currency, but you can have periods like in 2008 that the liquidity tightens. If you have the private sector withdrawing credit and the government throwing credit at the system you can get a lot of volatility.'

"Faber said he would be careful buying equities now as 'we are in a correction period'."

Source: Gene Koprowski, MoneyNews, November 4, 2009.

Bespoke: Gold soars to new highs
"The price of gold has broken out to another new high this morning [Tuesday] following news that India's Central Bank purchased 200 tons of the metal from the IMF. Previously, the IMF had announced that it would sell around 400 tons, raising speculation that the planned sale would cause a glut of gold in the market. Based on India's $6.7 billion 200-ton purchase, the market may have an easier time digesting the increased supply than previously thought. The average price per ounce for the Indian Central Bank's purchase works out to around $1,045. With gold now trading at $1,079, they have already made $218 million (3.25%). Not bad for a few days work!"

Source: Bespoke, November 3, 2009.

Eoin Treacy (Fullermoney): Gold's advance "rivetingly consistent"
"Taking a longer-term view, gold in US dollars completed a third 18-month consolidation in September and continues to extend the upward break. In stronger currencies it is now also firming.

"On a somewhat shorter-term view, gold's advance since July has been rivetingly consistent. It consolidated for six weeks and broke emphatically upwards, traded laterally for a month in a $40-$50 range and broke upwards again in October. Another $40-$50 congestion area formed and was completed this week with another powerful upward break. Gold has now posted three relatively similar ranges, one above another. It has sustained three relatively similar advances since September. This isn't chart theory; these are all chart facts.

"This type of action suggests that the metal is under accumulation. The consistency characteristics are quite evident for anyone to see and would need to deteriorate to indicate that the dominance of demand is being undermined. As we have seen in gold's other major advances this decade, the pace of the uptrend tends to increase in the latter stages. Gold is not accelerating now, but it could and the chart pattern has nothing to contradict the bullish view at this stage.

"Gold related instruments such gold shares have often lagged in the early stages of gold's advances, but tend to play catch-up as the trend becomes more widely accepted. What about this time?

"Gold shares were among the first to bottom in October 2008 and were a leading sector when compared to the wider stock market until February 2009. Large cap markets began to rally from March and competed for attention with gold shares. The Amex Goldbugs Index has been performing in line with the S&P 500 since. In absolute terms the AMEX Goldbugs Index is one of the few to have retraced almost the entire bear market decline.

"Gold mining shares are inherently more volatile than physical gold because they are by definition a diminishing asset subject to labour, political, energy, equipment and other pressures. However, in an environment where gold has reasserted its secular bull trend, gold shares could return to outperformance relative to the wider stock market.

"Relative to gold, the Amex Goldbugs Index has been outperforming since October 2008 and has retraced most of last year's relative decline against the metal. This would suggest that gold shares as a sector probably have greater potential to outperform the wider stock market than the actual gold price."

Source: Eoin Treacy, Fullermoney, November 5, 2009.

Bloomberg: Roubini says Rogers's $2,000 gold "utter nonsense"
"Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the global economic crisis, said a forecast by investor Jim Rogers that gold will double to at least $2,000 an ounce is 'utter nonsense'.

"There is no inflation or 'near-depression' to drive gold prices that high, Roubini said today [Wednesday] at the Inside Commodities Conference in New York. If a severe depression came to pass, with investors buying canned goods and hiding out in log cabins, 'maybe you want some gold in that scenario', Roubini said.

"'Maybe it will reach $1,100 or so but $1,500 or $2,000 is nonsense,' Roubini said. Gold rose to a record $1,098.50 today in New York on speculation that central banks and investors will purchase the metal to hedge against a declining dollar.

"Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television today that Roubini is wrong about the threat of bubbles in gold and emerging-markets stocks. The price of gold will double in the next decade, he said.

"In his New York speech, Roubini repeated his assertion that asset prices have risen 'too much, too soon, too fast'."

Source: Asjylyn Loder, Bloomberg, November 4, 2009.

TheStreet.com: Gold will hit $2,300
"Frank Holmes, CEO of US Global Investors, argues that gold should rise to its adjusted inflation price of $2,300. He reveals his trading strategy."

Source: TheStreet.com, November 2, 2009.

Financial Times: Gold adds lustre to metal prices
"Gold's strong run has inspired greater investor interest in other precious metals, with silver, platinum and palladium enjoying strong gains this year.

"Gold has risen 24.7% this year but the rest of the precious metals sector has performed even better: silver is up 55.7%; platinum has risen 48.5%, and palladium is up 79.7%.

"'The implosion in financial markets last year and subsequent deleveraging has led to loss of confidence in paper assets and a shift into tangible assets,' says Gijsbert Groenewegen at Silver Arrow Capital, the precious metal hedge fund.

"Like cyclists in a team pursuit race, silver, platinum and palladium have served as pacemakers for each other. Silver set the tempo until February, to be overtaken by platinum in April before regaining the top spot in June. Platinum roared to the front in early July and has maintained its lead ever since.

"Industry insiders expect continued price strength on the back of strong investor appetite for precious metals, according to delegates polled at the London Bullion Market Association meeting, the largest gathering of the industry, this week in Edinburgh.

"LBMA delegates - a mix of analysts, traders and mining executives who, as a group, have a good track record as forecasters - said silver prices would reach $18.10 a troy ounce by next September, up 2.9% from current levels. The delegates also predicted that platinum would hit $1,629.10, up 18.6%, and palladium would reach $475.80 an ounce, a 43.5% rise.

"The strength of the gold market - on Wednesday the metal hit a fresh record high of $1,095.4 an ounce - is also likely to attract further interest from retail investors, particularly for silver, which some consider gold's 'poorer sister'.

"Underpinning price gains for all of these metals have been huge inflows into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as investors sought sanctuary from the credit crisis in physical assets. ETF assets now rival some official reserves.

"Aram Shishmanian, chief executive of the industry backed World Gold Council says: 'Exchange-traded funds have become 'the people's central bank'.'"

Source: Chris Flood, Financial Times, November 4, 2009.

Bespoke: S&P 500 priced in gold
"With equities correcting over the last few weeks and gold rallying to record highs, the price of gold has once again exceeded the price of the S&P 500. It now takes 0.96 ounces of gold to buy the S&P 500. This is considerably less than the long-term average of 1.74 since 1980, and a far cry from July 1999 when it took over 5.5 ounces of gold to buy the S&P 500. The question now is, if gold eclipses 1,100, will its time above that level be as brief as it recently was for the S&P 500?"


Source: Bespoke, November 4, 2009.

Bloomberg: Trichet, King signal moves toward exit on recovery
"Europe's biggest central banks signaled they will start to wind up emergency policies introduced to fight the financial crisis as the global economy recovers.

"European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said today the ECB plans to phase out its unlimited liquidity operations next year, and Governor Mervyn King's Bank of England said UK officials will slow the pace of bond purchases.

"Central banks around the world are starting to rein back some of the measures introduced to stave off a second Great Depression. Australia and Norway have already raised interest rates and the Federal Reserve yesterday outlined the circumstances in which it would be prepared to tighten policy.

"'There is a common theme,' said Luigi Speranza, an economist at BNP Paribas SA in London. 'No one expected this to last forever, but the ECB and the Bank of England will proceed very gradually. They want to avoid jeopardizing the economic recovery.'

"'Not all our liquidity measures will be needed to the same extent as in the past,' Trichet said in Frankfurt. The Bank of England said in London that a 'pickup in economic activity may soon be evident' after the economy unexpectedly contracted in the third quarter.

"The ECB kept its benchmark rate at 1% and the Bank of England held its main rate at 0.5%.

"Policy makers have spent much of the year pumping money into the global economy and are now shifting their focus to exit strategies as the global recovery stokes concerns about asset bubbles. Bank of England Chief Economist Spencer Dale has said he's concerned about asset prices and Brazilian central bank President Henrique Meirelles said they will be a topic at the Group of 20 talks in Scotland this weekend."

Source: Brian Swint, Bloomberg, November 5, 2009.

The Wall Street Journal: Bank of England, ECB chart different courses on rescue

Source: Neil Shah and Brian Blackstone, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2009.

Financial Times: Bank tries "last heave" with £25 billion boost
"The Bank of England will pump another £25 billion into the economy, which remained mired in recession in the third quarter, in what was described as 'one last heave' to propel growth.

"The pace of cash injections as part of the so-called quantitative easing programme over the next three months will be slowed, however, in line with what the Bank regards as a slightly brighter economic outlook. The extension of the programme will bring its total cost to £200 billion.

"The Bank's move puts it in line with the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, which have taken decisions this week cautiously signalling an end to the extraordinarily loose monetary policy used to combat the financial crisis.

"Economists predicted that this would be the last time the Bank acts to boost the stimulus in this recession and by the middle of next year it will be thinking about raising interest rates.

"Michael Saunders, economist at Citigroup, called the expansion of asset purchases 'one last heave', while Simon Ward at Henderson Global Investors said 'the message seems to be that this will be the final slug barring an economic shock'."

Source: Daniel Pimlott and Chris Giles, Financial Times, November 5, 2009.

Nationwide: UK house prices rise at slower rate in October
"Commenting on the figures Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said:

"'House prices rose for a sixth consecutive month in October, but the strong upward momentum in property values seen over the summer is showing some signs of moderating as we head into the autumn months. The price of a typical property was 0.4% higher on the month in October, compared to an increase of 0.9% in September and 1.4% in both July and August.

"'The 3 month on 3 month rate of change - generally a smoother indicator of the near term trend - dropped back slightly from 3.8% to 3.4%. At £162,038, the average price of a typical UK property was 2.0% higher than a year earlier, representing the first time since March 2008 that the annual rate of change has been in positive territory.

"'A moderation in the rate of house price inflation was to be expected, as the very strong monthly increases seen over the summer months were unlikely to be sustainable over the long run. Slower house price inflation is also consistent with developments in housing market activity, as industry figures have shown that the pick-up in mortgage approvals for house purchases has lost some momentum in recent months. Although too early to tell for sure, it may also reflect a more natural level of stock available for sale coming to the market, alleviating some of the extreme shortages of property on the market seen during most of this year.'"

Source: Nationwide, October 30, 2009.

Caijing.com.cn: Goldman Sachs predicts 9.4% growth for China's economy in 2009
"China's gross domestic product is forecast to grow 9.4% in 2009 and 11.9% in 2010, Goldman Sachs macroeconomist Qiao Hong said on Monday.

"The consumer price index could rise 2.6% in 2010, Qiao told a media briefing.

"Goldman Sachs has estimated China's CPI will fall 0.9% year-on-year this year.

"China's performance will be better than other countries because China realized the importance of expanding domestic demand, Jim O'Neill, head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs, said at the media briefing.

"The global downturn meant an opportunity because it forced China to shake off its export-oriented strategy to boost growth and turn its attention to domestic demand, O'Neill said.

"Goldman Sachs expected China's domestic demand to grow 13.3% year-on-year in 2009 and 13.6% in 2010.

"China is less dependent on Western countries than it used to be, O'Neill said, adding that compared with major Western economies, China was less affected by the global financial crisis.

"China will perform much better in the future, O'Neill said, adding he is very upbeat about China's development prospects.

"O'Neill said China would become the world's biggest economy in 2027, with GDP reaching about US$21 trillion. Domestic consumption will contribute about US$9 to US$10 trillion, he added.

"Domestic consumption, which now accounts for about 37% of China's GDP, has huge growth potential, O'Neill said."

Source: Liu Zhijie, Caijing.com.cn, November 3, 2009.

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Back to Part I



Prieur du Plessis

Author: Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

With 25 years' experience in investment research and portfolio management, Dr Prieur du Plessis is one of the most experienced and well-known investment professionals in South Africa. More than 1 000 of his articles on investment-related topics have been published in various regular newspaper, journal and Internet columns. He also published a book, Financial Basics: Investment, in 2002.

He holds the following degrees: BSc (Quantity Surveying) (Cape Town), HonsB (B & A) (cum laude) (Stellenbosch), MBA (cum laude) (Stellenbosch); and DBA (Doctor of Financial Management) (Stellenbosch).

Prieur is chairman of the Plexus group of companies, which he founded in 1995. Previously he was general manager: portfolio management at Sanlam, responsible for the management of investment portfolios with total assets in excess of $5 billion.

Plexus is a pioneer in the mutual fund industry and has achieved a number of firsts under Prieur's leadership. These include the authoritative Plexus Survey, a quarterly analysis of the consistency of the performance of unit trust management companies, the Plexus Offshore Survey, the Plexus Unit Trust Indices, and the PlexCrown Fund Ratings.

Plexus is the South African partner of John Mauldin, American author of the most widely distributed investment newsletter in the world, and also has an exclusive licensing agreement with California-based Research Affiliates for managing and distributing its enhanced Fundamental Index™ methodology in the Pan-African area.

In 2001 Prieur received the Santam/AHI Business Leader of the Year award for corporate leadership, business acumen and entrepreneurial flair. He was also profiled in the book South Africa's Leading Managers (2006). Plexus received the AHI/Old Mutual Enterprise of the Year award in 1997 and was also included in the book South Africa's Most Promising Companies (2005).

Prieur is 52 years old and lives with his wife, TV producer and presenter Isabel Verwey, and two children in Welgemoed, Cape Town. His recreational activities include long-distance running, motor cycling and reading. He belongs to the Cape Town Club, Johannesburg Country Club, Gordon's Bay Yacht Club and Swiss Social & Sports Club.

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