Reflections on the Economy

WEEKLY COMMENT 8-09-2016

By Barry Edwards

Reflections on the Economy

Looking back to the financial crisis in 2008, many people expected the world economy to recover within a few years and return to a more normal pattern experienced in the period before the crash. As we know that certainly did not happen and the future of the economies in most countries is still very uncertain. Nobody predicted that we would experience continuous low interest rates and negative rates was something only the Swiss practised to prevent vast sums of cash being invested in the Swiss Franc. read more

Equity Release

WEEKLY COMMENT 1-09-2016

By Barry Edwards

Equity Release

To many the mere mention of equity release evokes bitter memories of the home income plans that got a bad name in the 1980s. Back then many were convinced to take out these uncapped plans, only to see interest rates rise, house prices fall and their homes repossessed as a consequence which sometimes created claims on the beneficiaries of the estate if death occurred during the process.

However, the industry has come a long way since those dark days. The most important change was the introduction of the no negative equity pledge which was introduced to ensure that any debt could not outstrip the value of the property. The range of products available has become more flexible allowing more and more people who are arriving in retirement, less endowed with assets, to utilise the equity in their homes as part of their pension planning. read more

Internet Lending

WEEKLY COMMENT 18-08-2016

By Barry Edwards

 Internet Lending

As we enter the height of the holiday season, the flow of interesting items reduces a trickle. However, one article did capture my attention about further revelations of the activities of Lending Club, the American marketplace and peer-to-peer lender. You may remember that this company hit the headlines in May of this year when the chief executive had to resign over misdated loans being sold to Jeffries, a medium sized investment bank, and also he had failed to disclose a personal interest in an investment fund in which Lending Club was considering investing. read more

Pension Deficits

WEEKLY COMMENT 11-08-2016

By Barry Edwards

Pension Deficits

 

Since the announcement from the Bank of England (BofE) about the extra quantitative easing investment of £70 billion last week, there has been much discussion about pension deficits and the difficulty pension funds have to find suitable investments to meet their obligations. The first problem for the BofE is that they are finding it difficult to purchase the bonds they require from the market since few investors want to sell government bonds because they cannot replace them without taking a reduction in yield. The BofE are not allowed to buy directly from the government debt office because it would be construed as self-financing by printing money which is frowned upon by international investors and therefore not permitted in most countries. read more

Rebooting Britain

WEEKLY COMMENT 4-08-2106

By Barry Edwards

Rebooting Britain

 

The Adam Smith Institute has published a paper entitled ‘Rebooting Britain Making the Most of Brexit’ written by Dr Madsen Pirie. It is a very straightforward presentation of ideas, similar to a manifesto, which you may find interesting. It proposes a comprehensive overhaul to improve how government functions incorporating many concepts that have been discussed in the past at length and some new thoughts. This is the first paper I have seen that actually outlines what should be done now we are leaving the EU. read more

Brexit Reflexions

WEEKLY COMMENT 28-07-2016

By Barry Edwards

Brexit Reflections

A month has passed since the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the significance of the decision is now being discussed around the world. Some of the warnings that were given are beginning to reveal the reality of the leave vote but the enormous task ahead to unravel the 43 years of consolidation with the EU has not yet been discussed by government or the commentators. The main reason for that is nobody really knows what leaving the EU will entail and how it should be done. read more

Uncertainty Reigns

WEEKLY COMMENT 21-07-2016

By Barry Edwards

Uncertainty Reigns

Wherever you look around the world there are problems that do not have obvious solutions. If you look east, China is refusing to respect international sea boundaries and is ignoring the recent ruling from the international court in Hague heightening concern about stability in the region. If you look to the Middle East, Turkey is gradually transforming itself into an Islamic state increasing tension already at high levels in neighbouring countries. If you look at Europe, Brexit is causing the whole continent to rethink the structure of the EU while many member counties are struggling to contain populism. If you look to America, the possibility of Donald Trump becoming President appears to be more likely as his support gains momentum all the time. read more

The Brexit Turmoil

WEEKLY COMMENT 14-07-2016

By Barry Edwards

The Brexit Turmoil

World reaction to ‘Brexit’ has been predictably adverse and seems to have affected many countries in different ways. The main consequences have been economic uncertainty and political concern about the balance of world power. The political vacuum after the referendum in the UK was the biggest worry but the unexpected rapid elevation of Theresa May to Prime Minister has begun to bring back some confidence to markets and anxious politicians worldwide. read more

A Vision for Europe

WEEKLY COMMENT 30-06-2016

By Barry Edwards

A Vision for Europe

The chaos that has occurred since the ‘Brexit’ saga is still being reflected upon and there is some time to go before we will see any real structure and planning to discuss meaningfully. While reading many of the comments about this world changing event, I came across a paper from the Austrian Institute of Economic Research entitled ‘New Dynamics for Europe; reaping the benefits of socio-ecological transition.’ It was published in March this year and did not seem to be publicised until now. It is basically a strategy for the EU to re-invent itself and it sets out how to achieve this in great detail. The paper is 150 pages with a very good executive summary of 17 pages which I recommend you read. If you click on the link below you can read or download the paper; read more

Listen to the People

WEEKLY COMMENT 23-06-2016

By Barry Edwards

Listen to the People

The problem with referendums is that you do not always get the result you were expecting. The discussions that took place prior to the vote made it clear that there was divided opinion and the result went the wrong way for the Prime Minister. The whole of Europe and the rest of the world are now aware of the decision and have heard the comments by the main players as the media has continuous reporting of the result. It is too early to make comment about the full implications of the decision which should start to formulate during the next few weeks. read more

Brexit

WEEKLY COMMENT 16-06-2016

By Barry Edwards

Brexit

This is the last comment before the EU referendum vote on the 23rd of June. The only discussion around the world at the moment is the possibility of an actual ‘Brexit’ and the consequences that may have on the world economy and balance of power. Consequently that is our subject this week and I would like to present my take on both the leave and remain argument.

Having listened to and watched the debates that have taken place so far the main concern for me is the intentional misuse of facts to support the proposition on both sides. The referendum is a once in a lifetime decision affecting all age groups who must consider the realities of a disengagement from a union to which we have belonged for 43 years. The world has been transformed during that time to become much more united and interconnected with the rapid advance of technology. It has involved many people who were not in contact with other countries to communicate with people directly allowing a true understanding of the realities of life and the reason for their own misconceptions. read more

The Referendum Debate

WEEKLY COMMENT 9-06-2016

By Barry Edwards

The Referendum Debate

The Pew Research Center published on Tuesday the results of their survey of Europeans and their opinions of the EU and ‘Brexit’. It is headed ‘Euroskepticism beyond Brexit-Significant opposition in key European countries to an ever closer EU’. It is clear from this research that all is not well in continental Europe and many of the concerns that the British have about the EU are as prominent amongst the people of the 10 largest EU countries. If you click on the link below you can read the paper, it is about 3 pages of script and graphs; read more