Wednesday, April 29, 2015

3 Valuable Lessons from the NASDAQ Bubble


The NASDAQ Bubble

Looking back, one can recall that the big capitalization technology stocks which controlled the NASDAQwere wildly overrated by out-dated measures. The Wall Street Journal had published on March 14, 2000, a prominent article - `Big Cap Tech Stocks are a Sucker Bet’. This article was contributedby the Wharton School finance professor and fellow Kiplinger’s columnist, Jeremy Siegel. He was of the opinion that `several investors of present time are undisturbed by history and by the failure of any large cap stock ever to justify, by its subsequent record, a (price-earnings) ratio anywhere near 100’. Bubble is a change and the nature of bubbles is that no one can predict when they could pop. If Nasdaq seemed to be overvalued in 2000, it was also overvalued in 1999 as well as 1998 and 1997. This resulted in investors rushing to buy stocks in late 1990s with the intention of not missing out on profits which their colleagues would be making. Most of the buyers overloaded their portfolios with big cap tech stocks with the belief that they could later sell to make a profit.

Education from the NASDAQ Bubble

Three of the most valuable education from NASDAQ bubble -
  • Diversification - The main lesson from Nasdaq COMP, -0.63% bubble was diversification. Having ones’ savings in one high beta sector of financial markets would give rise to substantial risk of long lasting loss. Though the NASDAQ took fifteen years to break, an investor owning a 60%/40%stock/bond portfolio beginning on March 1, 2000 was at risk for less than four years. Besides, while NASDAQ was scrabbling its way back to break even, one generated an annualized return of 5.5% though not bad at buying while it was at its peak
  • Price compression creates tail risk–Investors get involved in years’ worth of future returns into a very short time period. If the underlying entity does not give the actual value which it was priced in, this would give rise to disequilibrium. In other words, you would get investors who priced in high growth that does not seem to be profitable. When understanding dawns, the price decompresses and the bigger the compression, bigger is the decompression. As the Nasdaq bubble tend to get expanded, investors were looking forward to gain profits of the Internet, pricing in years’ worth of profits in a very short span of time. This means that they priced in a 15 years value of profit in a few years. When one fails to diversify accurately, one could be exposed to their savings being at risk. They should allocate their savings accurately to avoid being exposed to huge risk to their portfolio.
  • Avoid chasing the next hot thing for maximizing returns –If one intending in maximising the primary source of income and allocating some of the income in, with the intention of planning for the future, proper allocation of saving is essential. The purpose of savings is not actual return maximization; on the contrary, return maximization within the boundaries of suitable risk taking. If one is a real saver on the lookout for stability, then the main portfolio goal is not simply a protection against purchasing power loss but the risk of long lasting loss. This means that it could be probably unwise to overweight the portfolio in favour of purchasing power protection.

Most of the investors unfortunately turn to the stock market as a place where they could raise their profit and improve their financial status. In their eagerness to reach high, the risk factor is often overlook and sometimes ends in disaster. Caution needs to be exercised in every plan of investment to earn the fruits of a good labour.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Impact of New Money Market Rules

Securities & Exchange Commission – Passed New Rules 

When money became a product, the money market became an element for the financial market for possessions for the purpose of lending, in short term borrowing, buying and selling with original maturities for a year or less and trading in money market could be done over the counter.

Securities and Exchange Commission – SEC had passed some new rules which governed money market fund in mid-2014 and these rules were designed to contest the probable problems on liquidity if the economy would envisage a financial meltdown like the 2008-2009. Usually the money market fund is where several investors tend to invest their funds and the shares of the funds have a constant $1 per share value and there was instant liquidity.

 According to the new rules there is some change to these attributes for some money market funds. Some money market funds will be having floating net asset value – NAV when the new rules are applicable and these funds will not be priced at the prevailing $1 per share. This is turn will have an impact on the institutional municipal money market funds as well as institutional prime/general purpose money funds only while retail money market funds will not be affected by this rule.

Two Kinds of Liquidity Fee

The new rule is for two kinds of liquidity fee which could levy rigid fees on redemptions especially those conventionally low return vehicles and if the weekly liquid assets of money market funds tend to fall below 30% of the total fund’s assets, the board of directors connected with the funds could impose a 2% fee on redemption of funds.

Should the money market fund’s weekly liquid resources tend to fall below 10% of the total assets of the fund, then the redemptions could be subject to a 1% redemption fee if the board of directors vote otherwise. This new rule is then applicable to both the institutional as well as retail municipal and prime/general purpose money market funds.

If the money market fund’s liquid assets fall below 30% on the whole assets, the funds’ board of directors are permitted to vote on whether to restrict all fund redemption for 10 days and agreed that money market funds could be used for their low investment risk and liquidity, the burden of redemption could be difficult for several investors.

Vanguard’s Ultra Short Term Bond Fund 

After the announcement of the new rules, some new short term bond mutual funds have come up which include Vanguard’s Ultra Short-Term Bond Fund – VUBFX, but according to Vanguard, the launch was not connected to new money market fund rules. Higher yield than money market funds are offered in short term bond funds though they also have additional market risk depending on their underlying holdings.

The average ultra-short term bond funds, according to Morningstar Inc. – MORN, lost 7.89% in 2008 and financial advisors could be wise in reminding clients intending to seek more yields on the potential risks of presuming that these funds could be a substitute for money market funds. In an effort in preventing a collapse of financial system in case of another economic meltdown, as the financial crisis which occurred in 2008-2009, the SEC have approved several changes in the rules that govern money market funds.

While some will have redemption fees levied on shareholders in some cases and others will see their NAV enabled to fluctuate from the traditional stable $1 per share, these changes will compel investors as well as financial advisors to reconsider how to use the money market funds while at the same time look for other alternatives.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Global Crisis – Threat for Several Financial Institutions

Global crisis had created a threat for several financial institutions during the last few years. A pioneering peer to peer foreign exchange – FX, fintech startup - Kantox which is a platform for businesses, grew 250% in 2014 achieving its biggest transaction earlier, when one of its clients transferred US$29 million through the online platform. What could have been the secret of its success inspite of the uncertainty of global economic?

While the import-export businesses lost faith on traditional banks, Kantox provided an alternative solution in managing foreign exchange risks via a business model which was based on transparency. While businesses were on the lookout for no-banking solutions, this fintech startup became a feasible alternative as an online managing platform as well as a way to reduce costs, making the procedure an easier one.

As per the Co-founder and CEO, Philippe Gelis, the foreign exchange market had a setback from several transparency issues and was in need of urgent restructure. Gelis together with his partner Antonio Rami worked as a team as consultants in Deloitte and planned to develop an alternate option.

Kantox – Tools to Manage Currency Exchanges

Gelis had commented that `the aim was to be trusted as a competitive and transparent platform by financial directors and they wanted to provide them a different option’. The tools were provided by Kantox for the clients to enable them with improvements in managing their currency exchanges as well as consulting services from professionals.

Kantox presently transfer funds to 1,000 clients all across 18 countries in over 25 currencies. Gelis explains that `at the moment, growth is their goal and knowing now the needs of the clients, they have a clearer idea of the market and how to differentiate from their competitors’.

Gelis finds it important to be ambitious and a race for growing up. He states that `when one is immersed in business, they have the feeling that the developing process is long and one would want to grow faster though the process needs time’. Though the fintech space is still in its early development, there are several potential clients for new fintech startup and new business options like Kantox who are striving to compete with banks in foreign currency exchange.

Driving Down Cost/Administration Time

Kantox originated out of the idea of dis-intermediating banks as well as brokers from the foreign exchange procedures, driving down cost and administration time for companies and according to Gelis, instead of trading via a bank or broker, with this fintech startup, two trusted companies tend to trade with each other directly with transparency.

His challenge is to reach 20 percent of the market share in the next ten or twenty years and that `the fintech sector has been changing fast with new business solutions to be included in the whole updated structure. He further states that they are educating the market on these new solutions where the sector is monopolized by banks who own 99 percent of the market and their business model is quite a new alternative.

He adds that the global crisis largely affected the fintech sector and that they believe it was time to change the finance industry introducing the transparency, fairness and efficiency. These changes could come up though it would have a profound positive consequence on the global finance industry as well as economy and technological innovation is and will continue to be the vehicle for this change.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gold Snaps Seven-Day Rally

Gold Dropped – Investors opt for Uncertain Equity Assets

Gold dropped on Friday as investors opted for the uncertain equity assets after some mixed economic data from U.S and the fluctuating dollar. However, gold future gained 1% for the week and the favourite metal continued making strong gains because of its appeal for the past two days even though global equity markets seemed low amidst the confusion in Yemen.

Earlier gold rallied after officials from Federal Reserve officials’ commented that U.S interest rates would stay at zero for some time till September. In the meantime, focus of the investors was on the comments from the Fed Chief Janet Yellen who planned to address the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Conference and would be delivering a note entitled, `The New Normal for Monetary Policy,’ before the close of markets.

Ms Yellen’s speech is planned at 7.45 pm GMT where traders would be listening for some indication on when the Fed would start tightening monetary policy. According to Senior Manager Ole Hansen of Saxo Bank, he states that `Yellen has been accused of being too dovish and probably she wants to react by making her speech sound a little less dovish’.

Adjustment from Ultra-Loss Monetary Policy

The Presidents of the St. Louis Fed and Atlanta Fed, at separate events on Thursday said an adjustment away from ultra-loose monetary policy would be needed due to US economy’s improvement since 2007-09 financial crises. By 3.24 pm GMT, spot gold has eased 0.5% to $1,197.70 an ounce and the metal increased to 2% on Thursday to its highest since March 2 at $1,219.40 due to reaction to tensions in the Middle East.

The gold futures of US fell from $7.90 to $1,196.70 an ounce for April delivery. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia and its associates had launched air strikes in Yemen rattling broader markets and backing gold which is usually seen as an assurance against any risk. Julius Baer, head of commodity research Norbert Ruecker commented that `Geopolitics has never been something which could set a trend in gold prices; it only causes a short term deviation from the existing trend’.

Inspite of the Friday’s losses, gold was back on track to finish the week up at 1.3% after its seven day rally and the metal’s longest winning stretch since August 2012.

Holdings Dropped by 6 Tonnes

Gold showed gains after the Fed signalled caution at its policy meeting last week on the pace of interest rate increase prompting the dollar to drop from multiyear high and a violent rate rise path could affect the demand for gold which is a non-interest paying asset.Caution by the investor was obvious as SPDR Gold Trust, which is the world’s largest gold backed exchange traded fund, post outflows continued and holdings dropped nearly by 6 tonnes on Thursday to 737.24 tonnes which was the lowest since January.

As physical demand all over Asia slowed down, the long rally in prices discouraged most of the buyers. Palladium had lost by 3% to a two month decrease of $743.47 an ounce and platinum was low by 1.2% at $1,139.99 an ounce while silver dropped by 0.6% to $16.97 an ounce.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

China-Backed AIIB Investment Bank

Australia/Netherlands/Russia Joined AIIB

Australia, Netherlands and Russia, became the latest three countries who have joined the China led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – AIIB adding power to an institution which is seen as enhancing China’s regional as well as global influence. Taiwan will also be submitting an application to join the Beijing led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in spite of historical hostility and absence of formal diplomatic relation between them.

In a recent revealed statement, Charles Chen, Taiwan presidential office spokesman informed that joining the AIIB would help Taiwan in its efforts at regional economic amalgamation as well as raise the possibility of linking other multinational bodies. It is unclear whether Beijing would be accepting Taiwan’s application in joining the AIIB.

The bank is envisaged as a significant obstacle to U.S. efforts, in extending its influence in the Asia-Pacific region and also in balancing the growing financial influence and assertiveness of China. Several countries inclusive of United State fail to recognize Taiwan due to pressure from China. Taiwan does not seem to be a member of the United Nations, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

Several Countries to Join 

The AIIB seen as a challenge to the prevailing institutions, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, has drawn a reply from the United State even though European U.S. Supporters whichinclude Britain, France, Germany and Italy had earlier announced that they would join the bank.

Turkey and South Korea have also informed that they too would be joining in while Brazil, one of China’s top trading partner informed that it would sign up and that there were no conditions set. The office of President DilmaRousseff mentioned in a statement that `Brazil is very interested in participating in this initiative’.

Igor Shuvalov, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister, according to an official Xinhua news agency, stated recently at a forum in Boao on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, that the country plans to join AIIB. At the same forum, according to Xinhua, Mathias Cormann, Australian Finance Minister informed that the country was planning to apply as a founder member which was later confirmed on the news agency that Georgia had also made an application.

Deadline Set for Joining as Founding Member - AIIB

Britain and Switzerland had been formally accepted as founding members of the AIIB, a day after Brazil had accepted China’s invitation to join in, according to China’s Finance Ministry. It also informed that Austria also had applied to join and had submitted their documents to China.

Taiwan’s statement has reported that China had set Tuesday as a deadline in becoming a founding member of the AIIB, encouraging a rush of nations which includes Russia, Australia, Denmark and Netherlands to indicate their intentions to join. In all 42 countries have applied.

The United States has advised the countries to think carefully about joining the AIIB till it shows adequate standards of governance as well as environmental and social safeguards. China sees Taiwan as a rebel province and has not ruled out the use of forces in bringing it under its control. Since Taiwan’s present president Ma Ying-jeou took charge in 2008, the enmity had deteriorated considerably and the two parties have signed several deals of trade and investment.