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UK politics: “The most difficult election to call in the post war period”

As the old adage goes, markets don’t like uncertainty. And yet in just under two months we have a UK election, about which the only degree of confidence that anybody has is that the UK will have a second successive hung parliament – the key question is whether the UK ends up hung to the left, or to the right, or we get a potentially painful outcome somewhere in between.

So we thought it worthwh…

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The Middle-East – an expensive safe haven for bond investors

I am just back from a fascinating investor trip to the Middle-East, where I spent a week meeting with corporate and government bond issuers as well as market participants in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We spoke at length about Islamic finance, the oil price impact and geopolitical risk.

When I asked the question of the oil price impact on the region to corporate issuers and government offic…

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The falling US unemployment rate could benefit some emerging markets

The declining unemployment rate in the US has renewed the debate on the timing and pace of monetary tightening by the Fed. While wage pressures have been muted thus far, the risk is rising that further declines of unemployment will lower the rate below non-inflationary (NAIRU) levels and prompt the Fed to start hiking.

For emerging markets, one of the main transmission mechanisms is through wea…

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Goodbye to War Loan: 1917 to 2015.

Today, the War Loan issued in 1917 to help finance Britain in World War 1 is finally redeemed. We’ve written about it repeatedly over the years as it has always fascinated us. Was its coupon cut in 1932 a form of default from the UK government? Does George Osborne’s claim that it is being redeemed this year as a result of a tight grip on the public finances ring true?

To commemorate this most i…

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Video: Jim & Mike go to NY to ask the big question. Will the Fed hike in 2015?

Have you seen the film The Day After Tomorrow? The one where U.N. officials foolishly ignore climate scientist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) and a super-storm plunges New York into a new Ice Age? Well it was colder than that last week when Mike and I made a research visit over there. With wind-chill it was a billion below. I was only able to survive by laughing at Mike forgetting to wear a hat and g…

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Operation normalise

The Fed has basically used three major themes in response to the financial crisis from a monetary point of view:

  1. Lower short term rates
  2. Quantitative easing
  3. Operation twist – an attempt to flatten the yield curve

The Fed has communicated that it now expects the first move in normalising rates as the economy recovers will be to increase short term rates. Personally I think there are other alter…

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The greater the income share of the rich, the lower the savings rate

If you want to generate economic growth then encourage the rich to spend

In 1714, an Englishman called Bernard Mandeville published his poem entitled “The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Public Benefits”. The satire was about a hive of prosperous bees that were living a life of luxury. One day, some of the bees began to grumble that their lifestyle lacked virtue and the bees subsequently turn away from greed and extravagance. This leads to a rapid loss of prosp…

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Banks oiling the wheels with liquidity

An overriding theme for U.S. high yield energy companies in the current oil price environment is having sufficient financial liquidity (cash, bank credit, etc.) to cover their obligations as earnings come under pressure due to low oil prices. Maintaining liquidity until oil prices recover will be paramount for energy companies to survive, even for those names that aren’t especially levered. It …

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Competition winners: 10 copies of Diane Coyle’s GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

Diane Coyle came in to talk about her study of the history of Gross Domestic Product a couple of weeks ago. You can watch a short interview we did with her here. We also offered you a chance to win a copy of her book, and we had over 60 correct answers to this question: he’s regarded as one of the creators of modern GDP statistics, but in 1934 he told Congress that “the welfare of a nation can …

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Hybrid debt – another beneficiary in the hunt for yield

The rapid growth of the hybrid corporate capital market (non-financial) over the last few years has provided fixed income investors with an opportunity to access a quasi-equity income stream. Much like equities, hybrid bonds are perpetual in nature (though an option to call exists), and allow the issuer a degree of discretion over coupon payments. And, whilst they rank ahead of common equity in…

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