Archive for November, 2010

Stocks Up, Commodities Up…

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both ended at their highest levels since 2008, before the Lehman Brothers collapse.
This was largely a reaction to the Federal Reserve’s decision to buy more than $600 bill of additional debt from the Treasury, commonly called round two of Quantitative Easing (QE2).
Another result was a drop in the dollar: the US Dollar Index dropped below 76 for the first time since last December.

Google Tax Structure Uses Offshore Havens

Monday, November 1st, 2010

A recent Bloomberg article details Google’s corporate structure, which moves revenues to subsidiaries in low-tax countries such as Ireland, Bermuda, and the Netherlands, with the result of reducing corporate taxes in those countries that are their largest markets: the United States and United Kingdom.

Google’s not alone, of course. Both Facebook and Microsift use similar tax structures, and a US Treasury measure to tax monies moved between international subsidiaries was halted by what we’ve come to know as the “political process”:

Treasury officials, who estimated the policy change would raise $86.5 billion in new revenue over the next decade, dropped it after Congress and Treasury were lobbied by companies, including manufacturing and media conglomerate General Electric Co., health-product maker Johnson & Johnson and coffee giant Starbucks Corp., according to federal disclosures compiled by the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.

The report by Bloomberg is worth a read.

Midterm Elections and Your Portfolio

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Marketwatch puts it this way:
How investors can play the midterm elections has this to say:
Political Gridlock Equals Poor Stock Performance
Daily Finance has an upbeat outlook:
Upcoming Elections Could Cause Stocks to Rally
Chances are, whatever short-term gains you can see by gaming the market given historical trends will be offset by the risk of changing strategies. Play money is play money, but long term, this Midterm will be nothing but a bump – or a dip – in the road.

More Austerity for Europe

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Following similar measures in Greece and Iceland, Portugal’s leadership has approved its largest spending cuts since the 1970s. Economists have comented that it will likely “hurt growth” of the country’s economy, which hasn’t been a growth powerhouse to begin with:

The spending cuts, the biggest since the 1970s, may hurt Portugal’s economic growth, which has averaged less than 1 percent a year in the past decade. That trails the 1.3 percent pace for the whole euro region.

This will almost certainly lead the country into a lengthy recession until the reforms “bear fruit,” according to economists.

QE2 May be Contagious

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Bloomberg is reporting that so-called “QE2″ may be contagious this week, as Central Banks engage in a race to the bottom for their respective currencies:

fallout from the Fed could cause Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa to do more for his economy and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to leave the door open to more aid. Even as European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet holds the line against inflation, he may eventually change course if the euro surges, while emerging markets are already acting to restrain currencies.

This bodes well for nominal asset prices in the short term: stocks, commodities, metals… But the long term inflation repercussions could wipe out real gains in the process. Pricing in these rounds of “Quantitative Easing” is not for retail investors.