Tech Selloff and Alternatives

Wed, 2017/11/29 - 3:31pm | Your editor

 

Here's what a great stock market figure, no lefty, thinks about the tax bill now before Congress:

“The tax proposals in Washington are a 'moral abomination' because they favor corporations at the expense of workers, Vanguard Group founder John Bogle said.
“Think about this: Corporate profits after taxes last year were the highest they’ve ever been in the history of GDP going back to 1929,” said Bogle at an event Tuesday sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “And we are thinking of giving relief to the corporations at the highest levels ever. Individual wages are at the lowest level in about 15 years as a percent of GDP,” he added.
“So we are helping people who are doing very well and doing nothing for the people doing very badly,” said Bogle. “One of the flaws is that corporations are putting their shareholders ahead of the people that built the corporation, the people who put their heart and soul” into the companies.

 

Another grievance, this time from my alternate role as housewife. The new Amazon-controlled Whole Foods market in my neighborhood no longer takes back empty bottles for cash, so they will clutter up the landfills run by my city. The change also affects on of our stock picks, at least longer-term. But it also undermines the green credentials of the supermarket.

The tech selloff which began in China and Hong Kong has now hit the US. There are alternatives.

More for paid subscribers including three company reports, from Australia, South Africa, and Israel, mostly good, and a stock sale in Canada. Plus lots of news from Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Mozambique, various Caribbean islands, Britain, Japan, Chile, and Argentina and a half dozen other places.

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Rating Global Investing

Tue, 2017/11/28 - 3:38pm | Your editor

 

Today www.StockGumshoe.com, a daily blog run by Travis Johnson, published its readers' ratings for www.global-investing.com which you are now reading. We were top-rated at 5 stars for our performance and for value; and at 4 stars for the quality of our content and analysis. However our customer service rating was at 3 stars, because it hard to handle. Most of the writeups were from free trials of 3 months I offered to his readers 3 year ago.

As we plan to move our website into the talkmarkets.com system, I think the customer service function will be less onerous and therefore will improve. Thank you to all the gummies who tried out this newsletter and took the time to rate my work. This is the best kind of publicity, free and independent by actual readers.

 

While Hong Kong continues to lower its prices for internet stocks, the US tech advance continues for Apple if not the rest of the FAANGs. Hong Kong shares lost modestly today while China plummeted another 1.3%. I am using the S&P data rather than the local indexes full of state-sector companies.

 

The Bank of England gave a mixed view of the impact of exiting the EU on its banks which the Governor opposed before the vote. They are said to be able to cope without having to curb lending or be bailed out by an additional sumof money this year and next after passing its stress tests.

 

Today we have an annual report at a funny time of year from Canada and news from India to Singapore, from Spain to the USA, from Colombia to Britain, from Chile to Israel, and plenty of spots in between.

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Catch-up Monday

Mon, 2017/11/27 - 1:35pm | Your editor

Today is Cyber Monday another holidays in the run-up to Christmas and Chanukah after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. My own preference is for an alternative called “buy nothing day” invented 8 years ago by a Canadian artist and promoted by the anti-consumerists of Adbusters. I am too busy catching up with what happened last week.

My Sunday note about the availability of tables did not go out on time but the tables were posted all the same. Now for a busy news day. More countries that I can shake a stick at.

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Asia Hands and Fund Discounts

Sun, 2017/11/26 - 5:08pm | Your editor

Reshma Kapadia chatted with 4 Asia hands about one of the stocks I sold half of last week and none of them was a buyer at the boosted price, although one of her colleagues found a guy in Singapore ready to boost Tencent Holdings. She is a Barron's Asia reporter.

I sold half my holdings last week not only for fear of froth in Hong Kong markets and worries about Chinese political interference with its booming internet platforms, but also because I am converting my Hong Kong shares to normal ADRs for a nickel per in new fees. During the process I cannot trade my shares, so I wanted to cut my risks.

That is one of the messages from today's tables posted at www.global-investing.com this Sunday. More for paid subscribers follows.

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Keep Calm? Carry On?

Fri, 2017/11/24 - 1:37pm | Your editor

 

The big news very early on Thanksgiving Day was that China's large-cap stock index lost 3% in one day, despite the newbie local investors' belief that the government will intervene to stop losses. Nothing happened and the CSI fell fractionally again today. China imposed rules restricting loans to its “shadow banks” which invest wildly and charge huge sums for overdrawing your account. The Shenzhen market where Hong Kong stocks trade fell 2.9% in sympathy.

The tech share I sold half of earlier this week fell by 4.65% in Hong Kong today. Did I catch the bottom? I have no idea, but the Hong Kong market closed the week up 0.53% after falling another 3% today while Shanghai also closed on a feeble note. The S&P China index fell by 1.1% Friday. US tech stocks did not react so far, and rose only modestly in the wee hours.

 

Meanwhile Moody's upgraded India to BAA2-stable which is an investment-grade rating with moderate credit risk—the first such rise in 14 years.

 

Never mind “Keep calm and carry on”. Rumors of shots having been fired in Oxford Street in London led to a panic among shoppers there who fled from the shopping street. An old lady and a man carrying a child were knocked down in the panic and for a while the London Underground did not stop its trains at Bond Street, the nearest station to the middle of the shopping Street. The police said there were no shots but there also was less shopping. A Lithuanian company is beidding to buy Polish retailer Emperia, but not before Christmas—assuming Warsaw allows this. Meanwhile the dollar fell against most currencies helping our portfolios.

 

The Great Black Friday is upon us, and as per usual these days, chaos has ensued. My paper from England, not delivered yesterday, but available in a squinty on-line edition, was also not delivered today. I called the Financial Times US line repeatedly with long waits until I gave up and agreed to be phoned back, but of course nobody phoned back. And there were no Financial Times copies at my local newsagents'. Our household computer meanwhile crashed after a windows 10 update and could not be connected to either the printer or the internet. My office printer upgraded itself and could not recognize my email address. I reset my password and the HP system sent a confirmation of my new password, but then the printer would not allow me to print from my nearly new HP desktop computer. And so it goes.

 

I cannot print my coupons for Black Friday savings. As I have to take the home laptop back to the store and also buy new printing ink for my computer, I will not have time to shop shop shop spend spend spend during the starter day of the race till Christmas and Chanukah. This is just as well as I have been selecting suitable gifts and goodies for the grandchildren for months as I stumbled upon them, and they are already already gift-wrapped.

 

More for paid subscribers follow before I go to the computer store to get help. We have news from around the globe as other markets did not do Thanksgiving yesterday or at all. We have a note about Iran, unusual for this blog, and from Argentina, Britain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Australia. We have two company quarterly results which came out yesterday as well.

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Thanksgiving Eve

Wed, 2017/11/22 - 1:43pm | Your editor

It turns out that the difficulties I am facing with a check received in sterling which I am attempting to deposit to my US bank is not unique. The International IBAN (International Bank Account Number) numbering system which is supposed to enable people to transfer money within the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) often takes as long as two to three months to make a payment. This causes problems for people who are paying from Germany bills for insurance, telephones, local taxes, or utilities outside Germany but still within the EU. Foreign workers in Germany are being forced to buy German insurance policies because banks will not make the payments to an insurer in eastern European EC countries. Only German insurance may be paid for from within Germany despite the EU directive.

On-line orders can only be accepted for German addresses using German euros on German websites.

As a result, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports, a case is being brought against German banks in a Frankfurt court. The EU directive covers all the members of the EU, currently including Britain, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Noway, Switzerland, Monaco, and San Marino, all of which use a common IBAN number for any foreign account. The IBAN number is also used by US banks making transfer to Europe.

With the US crackdown on foreign bank accounts under the FATCA law Americans owning property abroad, like me, have to carefully manage their overseas accounts to make sure there is no more than $10,000 in them at any time. We thereby incur hefty charges from our friendly local USA banks because transfers have to be done more often. And forget about buying gifts for delivery to relatives outside the US.

The worst of it is the case of a stock we own whose IR refuses to send news about the company to me because I do not have a UK telephone number revealed to paid subscribers.

 

On the eve of le Jour de Merci-Donnant even markets run by lesser breeds who don't have Turkey Day are pretty quiet. Pres. Trump took great personal satisfaction from pardoning one of the two turkeys at the White House, but from my local daily newspaper which he hates, I learn that wild turkeys are pests not only in the Boston area where my son's family live but even in areas where turkeys were not around before the Puritans arrived, like the Pacific northwest.

Among the things I will be thankful for tomorrow is the beginning of a recovery of General Electric stock which was one of the first I bought some 60 years ago when I opened my first brokerage account, at an age which nowadays would be illegal, and without a social security number. Since then I never could afford the capital gains tax I would have incurred had I sold GE since my gains were in 6 figures the last time I looked. I am perfectly aware that one is not supposed to let tax considerations keep one from managing a portfolio, but this tax would have been hard to bear.
GE rallied because of a $1 mn+ buy by board member Francisco D'Souza of
Cognizant Technology.

Taxes also stop my selling AT&T and a few other portfolio stalwarts like Thermo-Fisher Scientific which is less common.

One of our stocks has a key symbolic role in the NY Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As we head for our feasts, note that Turkey is having problems with its lira hitting a new low of 3.96 to the dollar, and local bond yields soaring to 13.52% on fears that the government cannot or will not tame inflation.

More for paid subscribers follows from Belgium, Panama, Sweden, Hong Kong, Brazil, China, Britain, Panama, Colombia, Italy, Israel, and Canada.

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China Financials

Tue, 2017/11/21 - 2:53pm | Your editor

 

Today the Chinese financial system suffered a jolt because new laws imposed from Beijing hit some of the country's Wild East wealth management product firms. These are a danger to political and financial stability, because they are marketed to neophyte investors as being government-backed. In fact many of these are crooked get-rich-quick schemes,

Meanwhile established asset managers and insurance companies which do honest investing have gained hugely in trading in both China and Hong Kong today. We gained 4.3% from one of these favored finance sector companies today, bought as a bet China would clean up its act.

 

More from China, Hong Kong, Britain, Denmark, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Ireland, Finland, Chile, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Poland, Mauritania, The Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, Bermuda, and the USA.

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Foreign Exchange Fees and Delays

Mon, 2017/11/20 - 6:26pm | Your editor

 

Readers may want to know why my Sunday tables were not prepared yesterday and why today's blog is very late. An overnight update for Windows 10 or an update on my coaxial cable link to the world took down my computer, laptop, and telephone service in the office, and cut off my link to my printer. The cable guy came at 7 pm Saturdary and installed a new modem. The rest, Mark said, was up to what I call Macrohard.

After 4 hours on hold with Microsoft a nice techie in India gave me a local number in my own zip code to call for help, and they gave me an appointment for 11 am on Sunday morning. I took my laptop with me. After about an hour their tech support got the laptop working and told me how to make the changes needed on the desktop computer. I still haven't connected the printer to the two computers but that is not serious. The printer in our apartment used by my husband also went out. At some point when I have a couple of hours to spare I will call HP, maker of both my desktop and my printer who are also very good at passing the buck.

Today we discovered that our land-line to the world from our apartment has been cut off, probably not by Microsoft but by some other element of the robotic 21st century. We use a re-vender on a line owned by Verizon and VZ has been pitching its own services to us, and even billing us for it although no service was ever provided. Since my octogenarian husband is not adept with his cellphone I took on the matter of getting it reconnected. This occurred at 11:45 am. Verizon which owns the lines says there was a “programming error” which “was resolved.”

In my humble opinion, technology is out of hand even if you work at keeping current.

 

The headline in today's Financial Times reports that huge fines are going to be imposed on global banks for fiddling the foreign exchange rates to boost their profits. Among the banks is the one I use for my personal account, HSBC, which bought out the Williamsburgh Savings Bank taken over by Edmond' Safra's Republic National Bank where I had my account and our mortgage.

On Nov. 4 I received a check for £273 in sterling but sent to my US address with a copy to the IRS. It was for sale of warrants I have no recollection of ever subscribing from a firm I had bought shares in back when I ran a special advisory for institutional investors called minutewoman.com, which no longer publishes. It was a relic of a stock I had bought a decade ago called Trans-Siberian Gold, listed on the London AIM as TSG, a market which subsequently was closed to US retail investors in 2015. TSG had been taken over by South African gold interests. The stock no longer trades there. The check was for some long-term rights I had been granted then.

So I tooled over to my local branch of HSBC to deposit the check. This required two managers as well as the teller, and I was issued with a “foreign bank collection letter” and told that it would take 6 to 8 weeks to clear the UK check to me. The exchange rate and fees to be imposed was not disclosed and there was no way to find out. The money which will count as a capital gain will either land this year or next. My husband thinks I am an idiot for not simply using a family member's UK account to deposit the money when we hit London over Christmas, but having been audited frequently by the IRS because of the name of my business, I want to do things according to the rules. I am unsure if the dough will land in 2017 or 2018.
Naturally, I would prefer it if HSBC, itself a British bank, were not intent upon maximizing its “take” from this stupid mistake by the acquirers of TSG. More on this below on other banks affected.

 

More for paid subscribers follow from Australia, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, Ireland, Spain, South Kora, South Africa, Germany, Israel, Belgium, Bermuda, and Canada.

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Foreign Exchange Fees and Delays

Mon, 2017/11/20 - 4:40pm | Your editor

 

Readers may want to know why my Sunday tables were not prepared yesterday and why today's blog is very late. An overnight update for Windows 10 or an update on my coaxial cable link to the world took down my computer, laptop, and telephone service in the office, and cut off my link to my printer. The cable guy came at 7 pm Saturdary and installed a new modem. The rest, Mark said, was up to what I call Macrohard.

After 4 hours on hold with Microsoft and nice techie in India gave me a local number in my own zip code to call for help, and they gave me an appointment for 11 am on Sunday morning. I took my laptop with me. After about an hour their tech support got the laptop working and told me how to make the changes needed on the desktop computer. I still haven't connected the printer to the two computers but that is not serious. The printer in our apartment used by my husband also went out. At some point when I have a couple of hours to spare I will call HP, maker of both my desktop and my printer who are also very good at passing the buck.

Today we discovered that our land-line to the world from our apartment has been cut off, probably not by Microsoft but by some other element of the robotic 21st century. We use a re-vender on a line owned by Verizon and VZ has been pitching its own services to us, and even billing us for it although no service was ever provided. Since my octogenarian husband is not adept with his cellphone I am took on the matter of getting it reconnected. This occurred at 11:45 am. Verizon which owns the lines says there was a “programming error” which “was resolved.”

In my humble opinion, technology is out of hand even if you work at keeping current.

 

The headline in today's Financial Times reports that huge fines are going to be imposed on global banks for fiddling the foreign exchange rates to boost their profits. Among the banks is the one I use for my personal account, HSBC, which bought out the Williamsburgh Savings Bank taken over by Edmond' Safra's Republic National Bank where I had my account and our mortgage.

On Nov. 4 I received a check for £273 in sterling but sent to my US address with a copy to the IRS. It was for sale of warrants I have no recollection of ever subscribing from a firm I had bought shares in back when I ran a special advisory for institutional investors called minutewoman.com, which no longer publishes. It was a relic of a stock I had bought a decade ago called Trans-Siberian Gold, listed on the London AIM as TSG, a market which subsequently was closed to US retail investors in 2015. TSG had been taken over by South African gold interests. The stock no longer trades there. The check was for some long-term rights I had been granted then.

So I tooled over to my local branch of HSBC to deposit the check. This required two managers as well as the teller, and I was issued with a “foreign bank collection letter” and told that it would take 6 to 8 weeks to clear the UK check to me. The exchange rate and fees to be imposed was not disclosed and there was no way to find out. The money which will count as a capital gain will either land this year or next. My husband thinks I am an idiot for not simply using a family member's UK account to deposit the money when we hit London over Christmas, but having been audited frequently by the IRS because of the name of my business, I want to do things according to the rules. I am unsure if the dough will land in 2017 or 2018.
Naturally, I would prefer it if HSBC, itself a British bank, were not intent upon maximizing its “take” from this stupid mistake by the acquirers of TSG. More on this below on other banks affected.

 

More for paid subscribers follow from Australia, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, Ireland, Spain, South Kora, South Africa, Germany, Israel, Belgium, Bermuda, and Canada.

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A Busy Day and A Short Blog

Fri, 2017/11/17 - 3:13pm | Your editor

Despite what look like fumbles over the currency, Narendra Modi has strong support in India according to Pew polls. In India, 88% of he people view him favorably and, astonishingly, 83% are statisfied with the state of the economy.

There was no poll in Kashmir. And regionally, his favorable rating was loest in the north, at 84% which includes the capital, New Delhi and most Pakistan border areas.

Moreover 70% of respondents like the direction India is moving in, vs 29% who felt that way about the former Congress Govt.

Modi's vision for India appeals to the population. He wants to strengthen the central government, the military, and Indian society. The latter is the hardest because of Indian diversity of religion, languages, and (alas) castes. Of course as a Hindu nationalist, Modi gets the most votes with his taste for Hindu identity politics because that is the majority in India.

While there is great risk in Hindu nationalism, a unfied central governmnet could better use Indian talents and resources to increase its economic efficiency. The question is one of balance between minority rights and ambitions for growth.

 

Today's blog is late because I had to attend a ribbon cutting for my volunteer work as the editor of my local community bulletin for Sutton Place. It was for the Andrew Haswell Green park, named after the Robert Moses of the 19th century, a barely known figure who created New York City and many of its public institutions. The park was opened around the corner from here. Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver made the comparison with Moses. However Green was a much less obnoxious planner than Moses.

 

I was corrected by a German born Maryland lawyer for my note last week about getting down the quilts I inherited. CA says that the German story about the woman who shakes out the quilts in the sky is not Frau Hoelle as I wrote by Frau Holle. Hoelle means hell in German. Entschudligen. Senior moment for me because my Hitler refugee mother rarely spoke German with me.

 

Today we have another shorty blog with news from Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Denmark, India, Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Israel, and Ireland.

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