Tag Archives: US Dollar

Are Brexit Fears Overblown?

Fear

In the wake of the so-called “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom, and the possibility (though not the certainty) that the U.K. will leave the European Union, you’re likely reading a lot of alarmist stories about the vote’s impact on the U.S. and your portfolio.

Don’t believe half of what you read.

Continue reading Are Brexit Fears Overblown?

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Devaluation Panic

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Investors across the globe were sent into a panic recently when the Chinese Central Bank devaluated the nation’s currency, the yuan. The U.S. market lost more than 1% of its total value, oil prices fell and global shares plummeted on news that China decided to make its currency two percent cheaper than it was before.

You actually read that right. Headlines raised the prospect of a global currency war, and there were hints in the press that nations might resort to trade barriers, which would slow down global trade in all directions. If you’re following the story, you probably didn’t read that the Chinese yuan, even after the devaluation, was actually more valuable against global currencies than it was a year ago in trade-weighted terms. Nor that China actually intervened in the global markets to make sure the devaluation didn’t go any further in open market trading.

The background for the devaluation is China’s slowing economic growth and its recent stock market volatility. The country is on track for a 7% growth rate this year—three times the U.S. rate, but sluggish by recent Chinese standards, and quite possibly unacceptable to the country’s leaders. You probably already know that the Chinese stock market climbed to impossibly high levels earlier this year and then fell just as far in a matter of weeks. As you can see from the accompanying chart, the Chinese government marched into the chaos with a heavy hand, outlawing short sales, banishing hedge funds to the sidelines, suspending margin calls and even buying stocks directly in an effort to put a floor on prices. The theory was that the devaluation was part of this intervention, since it would make exports cheaper and boost sales, raising profit margins of those companies whose stocks were recently free-falling.

 

A more nuanced view of the situation is that the recent depreciation is a small step to keep the yuan’s value in line with those of its peers, not a dramatic shift in exchange-rate policy or a part of the Great Shanghai Market Panic. Indeed, if you look at the accompanying chart, you can see that China’s percentage of world exports has been steadily growing for this entire century, without any need to add the stimulus of a weaker currency.

A scarier scenario, which nobody seems to be talking about, is that China’s endgame goal is to make the yuan the reserve currency for global trade—replacing the U.S. dollar. China is already lobbying to join the list of reserve currencies recognized by the International Monetary Fund. The new exchange rate is more in line with basic economic fundamentals, strengthening the argument that the yuan is not under the total control of an interventionist central government. But so long as China imposes strict limits on the amount of its currency that can flow into and out of the country, and attempting to manipulate its own stock market, this will be a difficult argument to make.

Sources:

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21661018-cheaper-yuan-and-americas-looming-rate-rise-rattle-world-economy-yuan-thing?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/yuanthingafteranother

http://www.bloombergview.com/quicktake/chinas-managed-markets

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/global-markets-china-devaluation-hits-165238168.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-13/china-citigroup-agree-there-s-no-need-for-big-yuan-devaluation

About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years.  Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site: MorningstarAdvisor.com.

Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association. 

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Much Ado About Absolutely Nothing

imagesMaybe you saw the alarming headline in the middle of the other stories on Yahoo! News, which told you that the U.S. dollar was about to collapse, as a result of H.R. 2847—or, sometimes, simply “the new currency law.”  Write down this date, the frightening article said: July 1, 2014.

More recently, you might have see/heard TV and radio advertisements or ubiquitous Internet warnings where Dr. Ron Paul urgently reveals “a real currency crisis” that will usher in the greatest economic meltdown this country has seen in 50 years—including civil unrest, pension fund collapses, the erosion of personal liberties, bank and brokerage closings and mass rejection of the U.S. dollar in favor of “nonpaper alternatives.”

In case you were wondering, the U.S. dollar did not collapse in July of last year, nor did it collapse in 2009, which is when Ron Paul began predicting doomsday.  But if you watch the 54-minute Ron Paul infomercial, you will eventually be offered a “survival blueprint” published by Stansberry & Associates Investment Research—interestingly, the same company that told us that the U.S. currency would melt down last year.  To avoid financial armageddon, you simply need to pay $49.50.

Who is Stansberry & Associates?  The owner and publisher is Frank Porter Stansberry, who, among his credentials, has been prosecuted by the Securities & Exchange Commission for investment fraud, and fined $1.5 million for selling $1,000 reports with information that a panel of judges determined that he knew not to be true.  Using the pseudonym “Jay McDaniel,” Stansberry offered a “Super Insider Tip” telling gullible investors that on May 14, 2002, there would be a major announcement which would instantly double their money.  As it turned out, the uranium processing company that was being touted in the $1,000 report made no significant announcement on the date in question, and in fact investors testified that they lost 20-25% of their investment portfolio after purchasing the stock and options.

In the judge’s opinion, “The gravity of the harm in this case is not limited to the amount of money each purchaser spent for the Special Report.  Approximately 1,217 investors bought the Special Report with the expectations, as promised, by the Super Insider Solicitation.”  Stansberry and his publisher were enjoyed from conducting any additional “deliberate fraud.”  An investigative website also notes that he predicted the demise of AT&T, General Motors, the FNMA quasi-governmental guarantor of mortgages, Continental Airlines and… General Electric.  One thing these predictions have in common with the prediction of the collapse of the dollar: they never happened.  In 2011, Stansberry’s online infomercial predicted “The End of America,” and also that Germany would leave the European Union.  To our knowledge, those things haven’t happened yet either.

In case you were wondering, H.R. 2847 is a provision that requires Americans living abroad to comply with tighter reporting requirements on their offshore income—and has very little to do with anything related to the dollar.

Predicting disaster is a reliable way to make money, because the human mind is wired to pay more attention to threats than to the more benign elements in our environment.  In the future, you’ll probably see Stansberry predicting all sorts of other scary things, and probably a few more “can’t miss” investment opportunities.  What you won’t see is any clear accounting of his track record.

Write down this date about the collapse of America, the extinction of the dollar, the demise of senior members of the Fortune 500, the total breakup of the European Union and a great chance to double your money in a day: Not on Porter Stansberry’s timetable.

Sources:  http://briandeer.com/vaxgen/stansberry-fraud.htm

http://thecrux.com/porter-stansberry-predicts-the-next-major-company-to-go-bust/

http://wealthymatters.com/2011/09/20/porter-stansberry/

http://thecrux.com/dyncontent/ron-paul-one-step-prepare/?cid=MKT033949&eid=MKT057529

http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/hr2847.asp

About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years.  Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site: MorningstarAdvisor.com.

Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association. 

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