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U.K. Fires Broadside at EU Before Future-Ties Talks Even Begin

The EU says any agreement hinges on the U.K. signing up to commitments to prevent it undercutting the European economy. But the U.K. says sticking to the EU’s rules -- known as the “level playing field” because it would force Britain to accept EU standards in areas such as public subsidies, environmental rules, and labor conditions

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Comments of the Day

18 February 2020

 

 

Video commentary for February 17th 2020

 

Eoin Treacy's view

A link to today's video commentary is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Some of the topics discussed include: potenital for synchronised monetary and fiscal stimulus continues to support asset prices, it is also feeding short positions in the Euro and Yen while supporting the Dollar, gold and treasuries. 

 

 

China's Coffers Are Depleted Just as Virus Spurs Spending

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s top leaders have kept their official deficit target below 3%, partly through belt-tightening, as a gesture to deter excessive borrowing as the nation fights debt on multiple fronts. Yet it has also given way to all types of off-balance sheet borrowing, a problem S&P Global Ratings said may re-emerge this year.

Signs of more proactive fiscal policy have already appeared. The Ministry of Finance allowed local governments to sell more than 1.8 trillion yuan ($258 billion) of debt before the annual budget has been approved. The ministry has also announced targeted tax cuts to help companies and households hit by the virus, partially waived social security premiums or delayed taxes.

“Fiscal policy ought to be counter-cyclical, and the tension between revenue and expenditure shouldn’t be a reason to constrain it,” said Xu Gao, chief economist at BOCI Securities Ltd. in Beijing. “The government should increase the fiscal deficit to cope with the virus, and ease spending pressure by selling more debt.”

 

 

Eoin Treacy's view

Economic activity in much of China has ground to a halt. Factories are struggling to get back to full capacity, where they can open at all, and consumer confidence has taken a significant hit so discretionary spending is cratering. That is particularly true in the leisure and travel sectors. There was news today that casinos in Macau are now allowed to open again but it will be a while before consumers have the confidence to go back. We were at lunch with another expat Asian couple yesterday and they are going to skip visiting Asia this year. That’s a pretty common reaction to the evolving scenario. Most people’s conclusion is why take the risk?

 

 

U.K. Fires Broadside at EU Before Future-Ties Talks Even Begin

This article by Ian Wishart for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The EU says any agreement hinges on the U.K. signing up to commitments to prevent it undercutting the European economy. But  the U.K. says sticking to the EU’s rules -- known as the “level
playing field” because it would force Britain to accept EU standards in areas such as public subsidies, environmental rules, and labor conditions -- is unfair and goes beyond the conditions the EU imposed in other trade deals.

“It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us -- to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has,” Frost said. “To think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing. It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure -- it is the point of the whole project.”

Under Johnson, the U.K. is taking a less conciliatory approach to its EU negotiations than under his predecessor Theresa May. Frost’s outlining of Britain’s strategy in public contrasts sharply with the secretive way the government conducted talks from 2017-2019 on the country’s withdrawal.

The EU is still concluding its own position on the negotiations, with a series of internal discussions by diplomats scheduled to end on Wednesday. The bloc is considering demanding the U.K. stick to EU rules -- and, in some cases, make them tougher if the EU does -- in a whole host of areas from food hygiene to data protection to labor law.

In a signal of where a compromise might eventually come, Frost said the U.K wants “open and fair competition provisions” based on precedents in other free trade deals.

 

Eoin Treacy's view

If the UK is going to succeed in developing a successful economic model capable of competing with the EU and everyone else for that matter, then the ability to set its own rules, regulations and incentive programs is essential. It’s a good thing the current UK administration understands that but it is also a recipe for acrimonious negotiations where brinksmanship is to be expected. The deadline of December 31st ensures this is going to be a topic of conversation for the rest of the year.

 

 

Aureus Fund Plc Factsheet

Thanks to a subscriber for this factsheet which may be of interest.

The Aureus Fund (Ireland) plc. is an accumulating fund under Irish Law. The physical allocated gold investment will at all times between 51% and 60% of the Net Assets. Although the focus is on Gold, the Aureus Fund aims to invest in physical precious metals (Silver, Platinum and Palladium) to diversify risk. As an ancillary investment policy the investment manager has the option to invest in gold derivates for hedging and gold mining funds.

 

Eoin Treacy's view

This fund popped up in a search I performed on Bloomberg of gold mining funds but it carried no additional details of holdings. My supposition on Friday that it is heavily weighted in platinum miners was incorrect and I am thankful to a subscriber for clearing up this misunderstanding. Instead, it has a heavy weighting in palladium; directly through its physical holdings. That has helped to supplement returns over and above the price if gold in Euro.

 

 

Email of the day on gold's upside potential

The long run outlook for gold is very encouraging. Even in the short run, competitive devaluations by CBs are supportive.  Coronavirus is also supportive.  Do you think that investing in a gold ETF is a reasonable hedge against a short-term correction on the S&P500? Are frightened investors likely to seek the security of gold or are they more likely to flock to cash?

 

 

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for these questions which may be of interest to other subscribers. Gold and the Dollar have been rallying together against a background of increasing virus-hedging activity. That suggests investors have a preference for classic hedges rather than cash at present.

 

 

Email of the day on personal hygiene habits as a best defence against viral infection:

Please take a few minutes to watch the attached video.  Great information to know if the epidemic ever comes our way.  Please share with others.  This could get worse before a solution is found

 

Eoin Treacy's view

Thanks to a subscriber for this video which may be of interest. The prevalence of this kind of advice also tells us the risk from the virus is increasingly well understood and therefore increasingly priced into markets.

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