Archive for the ‘U.K.’ Category

Captain Rick: PIMCO’s Bill Gross says that ultra low interest rate policies and ongoing bond buying programs like ‘Quantitative Easing’ around the world aren’t working. Bill refers to it as a global financial system that is "beginning to resemble a leukemia patient with New Age chemotherapy, desperately attempting to cure an economy that requires structural as opposed monetary solutions." He is challenging the Federal Reserve and other central banks to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

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Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of bond giant PIMCO. He is often called the world’s ‘bond king’.

I recognize Bill as one of the worlds most intelligent minds concerning everything related to bonds. Bonds help make our world grow. Bonds are the life blood of our cities, states and countries of our world. 

Bill writes a monthly ‘Investment Outlook’ news letter. His June report is entitled “Wounded Heart”, a nod to Bonnie Raitt’s 2002 tune. It is one of his finest. I will do my best to sum up his eloquent words of wisdom for the U.S. and other countries including Japan, England and Europe who are practicing ‘Quantitative Easing’ fiscal programs that are not working.

Excerpts from Bills “Wounded Heart” report:

“While the global central banks’ policies have stabilized economies, they haven’t succeeded in returning them to old normal growth rates”

"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts"

And to Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s claims that once economic growth has been restored to normal levels, financial markets can also return to normal interest rates and returns, Gross has a few stern words:
"Well it’s been five years Mr. Chairman and the real economy has not once over a 12-month period of time grown faster than 2.5%"
"Perhaps, in addition to a fiscally confused Washington, it’s your policies that may be now part of the problem rather than the solution."

To investors, Gross advises to reduce risk as the Fed continues to try to mend a wounded heart with blood that lacks the necessary oxygen. "Investors should look for a pacemaker to follow a less risky, lower returning, but more life sustaining path."

Read the entire Investment Outlook: “Wounded Heart”  by William H. Gross:  http://www.pimco.com/EN/Insights/Pages/Wounded-Heart.aspx

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Fed Financial Policy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fed-financial-policy/

Investment 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/investment-101/

Stock and Bond Market: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/stock-bond-market/

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Captain Rick: The Eurozone suffered its third consecutive quarter of decline at the end of 2012 as exports from leading economies Germany and France sank, deepening a regional recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.

Gross domestic product in the 17-nation Eurozone fell by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, leaving its economy 0.5% smaller than it was at the start of the year. The region saw a contraction of 0.1% in the third quarter.
Performances in all four of the region’s biggest economies — Germany, France, Italy and Spain — deteriorated compared to the third quarter of 2012. Output is likely to shrink in 2013 for a second year running, according to the latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund.

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17 Member Eurozone

Germany, the Eurozone’s biggest economy, which accounts for about 30% of Eurozone GDP, suffered a contraction of 0.6%. The decline in GDP was was mainly due to the comparably weak German foreign trade. Exports of goods went down much more than imports of goods.

France, the second biggest economy, suffered a 0.3% contraction. France also suffered a sharp fall in exports in the fourth quarter, down 0.6% after growth of 0.7% in the third.

Weaker growth will make it harder for Eurozone governments to meet their debt-cutting targets and intensify the debate about the impact of a strong euro on the region’s recovery prospects.

With fiscal policy tightening, and the ECB in a holding pattern, exports offer one of the few opportunities for the recession-ravaged region to return to growth.

A stronger euro threatens to cancel out some of the hard-won gains in competitiveness brought about by wage cuts in indebted European states.
 
Many of the 17 Eurozone countries are in the middle of austerity programs that are reducing demand, and prompting households and businesses to defer spending and investment.

While policymakers have signaled a willingness to give states more time to bring their budget deficits into line with European Union targets, if the economy continues to deteriorate, there is no sign of a major change in approach.

Wider 27 Member European Union

The economy of the of 27 states of the EU went into reverse in the fourth quarter, shrinking by 0.5%.

The U.K. contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing it to the brink of a third recession in five years. The Bank of England trimmed its forecasts for U.K. growth in 2013 Wednesday while raising them for inflation.

EU Leaders hope for U.S. Trade Pact to boost Economy

EU leaders are hoping efforts to remove trade barriers with the U.S. could provide a shot in the arm for growth. President Obama promoted this trade pact in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening.
Both sides said this week they wanted to move quickly to start formal talks on a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. 

Captain Rick’s Vision

There are many benefits that could be gained by both economies with such an agreement, especially in the area of regulation…like agricultural, medical and automotive safety standards. Considering the complexities involved, it will require a multi-year approval process…perhaps a decade or more. After all, genetically modified crops, which are commonplace in the U.S., are known as ‘Frankenfoods’ by many in the EU.

A trans-Atlantic free trade agreement will not solve either the EU’s or U.S.’s monumental debt and financial problems. While it could be a tool to help both economies, the EU and the U.S. need to face the realism that their economies are in need of much larger repair…that continual deficit spending of money that does not exist must end. The course that both nations are currently on will not achieve success…more probably, eventual failure. Both nations will need a significant influx of politicians with some ‘serious spine’ to ‘right our ships’. That kind of courage is so rare that I fear for both of our nation’s ‘ships’. Both ‘ships’ are leaning heavily on the port ‘left-welfare’ side. The question that remains is whether our ships are leaning too heavily to prevent the inevitable ‘titanic’ maneuver.

I welcome your comments.

Captain Rick: This is a bid to clean up Barclay’s reputation and revive profits after a series of damaging scandals. The job cuts will be divided almost equally across its investment and retail banking operations, mainly in continental Europe and Asia. Barclays is also closing its structured capital markets unit, at one time its most profitable business, which focused exclusively on helping clients avoid taxes.
Barclays said it would focus on investment in the U.K., U.S. and Africa while retaining a smaller presence in Europe and Asia to support its global investment bank.

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Captain Rick: The Fresh & Easy store chain has been put up for sale by U.K. retail giant Tesco, admitting defeat in an attempt to take on U.S. supermarket chains in the southwest like Fry’s, Albertsons, Safeway and Wal-Mart.

Tesco launched Fresh & Easy in California in 2007. A short time later several stores opened in Arizona. I visited one in Gilbert as soon as it opened. My first reaction was … “The prices are high. The selection is poor. The atmosphere is cold. I don’t give this chain much time before it goes under”. To my surprise, Fresh & Easy lasted five years, but I never spend a dollar there. I think Tesco underestimated the strong faithfulness that southwestern grocery shoppers have for their stores, especially here in Arizona where Fry’s is king. It has been my favorite grocery store for over 15 years. Fry’s, a subsidiary of Kroger, is neat, clean, modern with a warm and welcome feel. The selection is great. The prices are also, especially if you use your VIP card. Fry’s specials always beat out Wal-mart. The first Wednesday of the month is Senior Citizen day at Fry’s. It’s the day I stock up for the month at a great 10% discount. Fry’s rewards it’s customers with credits to save up to $2 per gallon of gas at Fry’s gas stations.

My ‘word to the wise’ for those who want to open a grocery chain in the U.S. southwest, especially Arizona … learn the ‘lay of the land’ first. This is the desert. It’s a warm place with lots of warm people who cherish our favorites. It will take a mountain to change our minds from the places we faithfully shop.

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Fresh & Easy’s woes have added to the problems Tesco faces in the U.K and other international markets. Third-quarter sales at stores open a year or more fell company-wide by 1.3%, as depressed consumer spending in the U.K. and Europe outweighed an improvement in Asia. Tesco’s share of the U.K. market is also declining.