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Morning Brief – Tunnel vision

Tunnel vision

 

The coronavirus epicentre has migrated from Wuhan, Hubei province, through China, before migrating to Europe with Italy and Spain the best observable example of the exponential growth phase. The next epicentre of the coronavirus will be the United States having now recorded more confirmed cases than China. A fall in the number of cases reported in Italy in the last 24 hours to its lowest level in almost two weeks is being read as a positive sign of light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the pan-European stabilisation in Coronavirus infection rates has prompted the World Health Organisation to conjecture that Italy and Spain’s outbreak may have peaked.

 

Daylight we see from the sun is about eight and a half minutes old having left our nearest star and taken this amount of time to race through space to our eyes. In more distant galaxies we observe pictures from millions (if not more) years ago as the light emitted from this distant region of space has taken that long to reach our planet. Delays in observation are apparent with the epidemic too with symptoms and potential hospitalisation arising around two weeks after initial exposure to the virus. Quarantine and lockdown which have been underway for as much time in Europe should begin to flatten the so-called curve and now measurably control the infection rate. The improving data in these beleaguered nations should be a signal of such an event.

 

So, what does the light at the end of the tunnel look like? In China, the economic machine has begun to burr once again. That’s not to say that the nation is back to full capacity and consumption – far from it. The threat of now imported new-strain coronavirus infection from abroad is considerable and as such the country remains far from full import and export capacity. Positively, soft data is beginning to reflect the improving coronavirus statistics. The Purchasing Managers’ Index – a widely recognised piece of survey data that collects responses from purchasing managers throughout the economy – has risen from a trough of 35.7 in February, when fear abounded, to 52 this month. A 50+ reading indicates expansion and improving conditions pointing to a fragile but recognisable improvement in the economic environment. With a (moderately) generous stimulus package in place to capitalise banks and promote lending and economic activity, the People’s Bank of China is also supporting economic recovery.

 

The United Kingdom, which began lockdown measures sometime after Italy and Spain having witnessed a slower spread of the disease, have yet to show evidence of curve control. This is not to say that the UK response has been inferior to those of Italy and Spain despite many criticisms levied to this effect. The rate of inflection and hospitalisation that a nation can support in addition to the spread which the virus has already recorded vary between populations demanding different responses. Nonetheless, positive signals for the UK observation rate and recovery rate must be recorded I suspect before investors turn bullish on the UK economy.

 

A quick update on South Africa: a downgrade to junk status in the nation has left the Rand trading at all-time lows versus many of its peers. The sell-off in the sovereign bond market leaves the domestic interest rate at unsustainably high levels as the country battles the outbreak of the virus. Social unrest and quarantine enforcement problems continue to undermine the South African economic outlook and ability of the government to finance the nation through this difficult time.

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – OPEC+

OPEC+

 

The Russians have now said that if other countries agree to join them, Russia will be willing to re-open negotiations with OPEC. In reply-although it was definitively not a reply- the Saudis have said that they have not received any such overtures. It is in the rest of the world’s interests for OPEC+ to hammer out an agreement and an orderly approach to both supply and pricing not only for global economies to be able to plan how best to recover from the Covid-19 hit, but also to calm the as ever febrile economic and political atmosphere of the Middle East.

 

 

Spectacular Own Goal

 

‘I was denounced as somebody that wanted to spend more money than we could possibly afford… I didn’t think that it would take only three months for me to be proved absolutely right by the amount of money that government is now prepared to put in.’

 

It’s not often that SGM-FX would choose to quote Jeremy Corbyn verbatim (or any other politician for that matter) but to confuse the Covid-19 economic life support mechanism with the management of the economy in normal times betrays a startling lack of a basic grasp of economics. It was JC’s final appearance on the big pitch of the House of Commons as Leader of the Opposition and his final opportunity to be statesmanlike and leave an impression that he would like to be remembered for. However when confronted with such an open goal he somehow managed to backheel the ball the length of the pitch past his goalkeeper into his own net. Respect!

 

 

Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890

 

 

Today is Vincent’s birthday – his 167th in fact. When he died at the age of 37 he had completed approximately 900 pieces of work that he had either given away or mostly parlayed for food, absinthe and lodging( not necessarily in that order). There are probably 800 pieces left following natural events such as fires and less natural such as wars-especially WW2. Some of his works go for $100million+ but some of his drawings go for as little as $1million. Research shows that conservatively VVG’s portfolio today is worth more than $10 Billion. Now that puts most 37 year old master of the universe hedge fund managers in the shade. Here is Don McLean and the start of his 1971 song Vincent:

 

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – End of the Week Round Up

End of the Week Round Up

 

It is positive if not fully refreshing to be able to comment that at $22.88 WTI Oil has steadied, stock markets put in a second decent session yesterday after an early wobble in Europe, gold is at $1628 and GBP has clawed its way back to its best level for the past week versus USD and EUR. Also as highlighted in earlier Briefings, the ZAR is at its lowest ie the most advantageous level against EUR, GBP and USD for the last 4 years.

 

SGM-FX HQ is fully staffed (albeit remotely) and we pride ourselves on continuing to deliver both the very best service to you our Clients. What we used before “Lockdown” to call “normal”, has been replaced by a new way of working with instant communication over both audio and video internet mediums and our hours of business are unchanged. So please do give us a call/ mail and we will be pleased to talk/reply responsively and rapidly.

 

 

Working From Home

 

There are some unforeseen consequences of WFH where the blame can be fairly laid on all those journalists who have been detailed by their Editors to write about keep fit exercises that one can do at home. Let’s just get it out of the way : it is very many years since many of our readers will have experienced carpet burn but following the daily home keep fit guides in the newspapers on how best to execute planks, mountain climbers and bear crawls in front of your wide screen, knees, knuckles and elbows throughout the land in all countries will have taken a beating on sitting room hearth rugs. Expect Bandaids and Savlon to be in short supply! So if you want to get ahead of the game you should think about buying the largest medical supplier in the world, Johnson and Johnson shares at $119 down from nearly $160 in January…..!

 

 

Statistic of the Week

 

While the team at SGM-FX have been closely monitoring markets and looking for value in the world’s currency pairs, forced to stay at home citizens of Canada have clearly had their minds on a different set of priorities:
With Bloomberg, CNBC and CNN on for 12-18 hours a day as usual, tracking global market movements in commodities, currencies, bonds, gold, equities and government bonds we at SGM-FX could of course expound further on all of that and more, but instead, we want to alert you to the key stat of the week : internet sales of sex toys has increased since the lock down in Canada by no less than 135%.
O Canada!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

 

 
Have a great and safe weekend!

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Lekke to be lekke

Lekke to be lekke

 

An Afrikaans ish phrase meaning it’s nice to be nice.. or so I’m told. In the times we find ourselves in, there seems to be value in examining exactly how nice is nice enough. Take the UK government’s call for citizens to volunteer to support the NHS. As Boris Johnson spoke to the nation yesterday we learned the government had expected 250,000 volunteers in a number of days. In less time than the government had expected, some 405,000 pledges to help had been received. That’s fantastic and I thank those that have been able to do so for their commitment. Unfortunately if we take things like this in isolation we approach our analysis of the population with rose-tinted spectacles.

 

As Rishi Sunak explained in his defence of the lack of financial coverage for self-employed workers there remains the concern that individuals and corporations will take advantage of the provisions that are being put in place to cushion the public through the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s unavoidable and a shame given that every pound borrowed by the government to fund these unprecedented spending plans will leave us with an enormous fiscal deficit that must be paid back. Look elsewhere: there was a huge spike in Companies House registrations for limited companies and individuals to be sole traders as covid-19 emerged as a pandemic. Whilst some of these certifications will have been granted to pursue philanthropic efforts, the vast majority of them are, I’m sure, to take advantage of people’s fear during this time. Testing kits for thousands of Pounds, toilet rolls for 1000% of their normal prices and hand sanitiser that looks set to rival saffron’s per unit cost are testimony to this belief!

 

The question of how nice is nice enough is set to become even more important for South Africa in the next 48 hours. We’ve been talking about Moody’s rating decision in South Africa for a long time. Since October when their last decision was to issue a negative outlook ahead of the Q1’20 budget speech, this Friday has been a focal point for the Rand. South Africa’s debt has been held at ‘junk’ status by two of the three major ratings agencies, Fitch and S&P. The classification by Moody’s, as all you Rand buyers and sellers will know, is Baa3- i.e. investment grade by the skin of its teeth. Given the worsening of South Africa’s credit outlook amidst the shutdown that comes this Friday it seems inevitable that a downgrade will take place.

 

Most economic commentaries out there authored domestically and internationally focus upon two themes. 1) Should and could Moody’s downgrade in good conscience given the state of the global political economic amidst Coronavirus; 2) does a downgrade even matter given everything else that’s going on? I find these two strains of thought defeatist in principle with the second more offensive than the first. Let’s address the first one: for every borrower of money, the debtor, there is a lender of money, the creditor. The very point of these ratings agencies is to create a level of consistency and transparency to lubricate the credit market. If an inevitable downgrade was to be held up it could therefore have the very effect of constraining the lending market, making the situation even worse: not only would South Africa’s borrowing costs rise further there wouldn’t be any money on offer to borrow. So, it wouldn’t be that lekke to be lekke in this scenario. To address the second point: Yes! It will still matter!

 

The yield on a 10-year South African note has spiked above 12%. That means that money in South Africa is the most expensive to borrow since 2002. At a time when the government is borrowing to fund the shutdown and the (privatised!) South African Reserve Bank is buying assets such lending rates are damaging to the real economy. Given that Eskom doesn’t generate enough revenue to cover its interest payments in times of ‘normal’ borrowing at rates circa 7%, it seems inevitable that it cannot finance its debt at these levels. The concern around Moody’s downgrade is that index linked bonds frequently have a condition that they must only buy ‘investment grade’ bonds meaning that if South African debt loses its last claim to non-junk status is must be immediately dumped into the market.

 

The magnitude of such debt is estimated, but not known with absolute certainty, to be USD 15bn. I fear that upon realisation of the junk status tomorrow it will not be a ‘buy the rumour sell the news’ non-event given the legal requirement to flog the debt. Yields should therefore climb higher from their already lofty heights. The Rand should spike lower simultaneously. Eventually, the inexpensiveness of the currency combined with the high rate of return for buying it should lead to a correction but, given the uncertainty in the global market at the moment, that correction could be a long time coming and fragile. Those with an exposure to Rand should set price objectives and have a trading strategy in place to take advantage of and also defend themselves from the volatility likely to come with tomorrow’s announcement. Our desk remains fully staffed and is extending our full range of services and we’d be happy to put such a strategy in place for you.

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – For UK Business Readers

For UK Business Readers

 

Here is a useful summary of what the UK Government is offering UK businesses:

 

 

For those of you who submit self assessment returns, before you ignore the item above, do look at the final box above which does help.

 

Markets

 

Too early to heave a sigh of relief but certainly an opportunity to catch one’s breath; the USD having risen in an almost straight line for 11 days has now retraced a bit and there is talk of a return to currency intervention by the Federal Reserve. Gold at $1672 and most Stock Markets up by between 3 and 6% has given a more positive tone. The Dow had its largest rise for decades and finished up 11%. That positivity has extended into the Asian markets this morning. GBP steadier. USD weaker. EUR on its lows but again steady.

 

Rocket Man

 

Surprisingly this is not about POTUS and The description he gives to Kim Jong Il of North Korea. Today is Elton John’s 72nd birthday and funnily enough it was 1972 when he released one of his greatest songs, Rocket Man. For teenagers at that time Elton John was generating the most exciting music of anyone and when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came out the following year, Elton John’s records were spinning on every self respecting pop enthusiast’s turntables. The rest is history!

Happy Birthday Elton!

 

Rocket Man

Rocket Man

 

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine AM
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

 

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

 

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

 

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand
It’s…

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – There goes the kitchen sink

There goes the kitchen sink

 

Markets have been talking about the ‘double punch’ that unsettled the benign and plain financial paradigm that we existed in for many years. The full-on right hook came from the Coronavirus that manifested as a simultaneous shock to supply and demand. The left hook came like some kind of bizarre scissor punch in the form of an oil price collapse. I can promise you that I’m not much of a boxer. But if I were to imagine what a boxer might do inside the ring when faced with such an onslaught I’m pretty sure it would be to respond with a similar act of aggression. Given that I hadn’t already been knocked out that is.

 

Yesterday the market had the opportunity to provide a US-led double punch response to the attack it was facing. The first punch was expected to come from the US government that was debating a fiscal response to the crisis, 25% of which was thought to be spent on Trump’s direct payment to US citizens. There were also provisions for sizeable loans to small businesses, additional liquidity assistance, and investment in healthcare. The second retaliatory punch would have been from the US Federal Reserve in yet another commitment to expanding market liquidity. In the end, the market received only the latter commitment from the Fed as momentum slowed on the $2tn package to support the US economy. The bailout package is still on the table and looks likely to pass but each day of inaction will unnerve the markets further.

 

Ultimately, the Fed’s action was insufficient alone to placate markets. Immediately after the Fed’s commitment there was a stabilisation of the risk fire-sale that had been taking place over the last few days. However, as markets weighed up the policy response to the developing health crisis stock markets continued to tumble to the benefit of safer havens. The Federal Reserve in a historic move opened two new facilities to the market allowing the Bank to purchase corporate bonds. Okay it sounds about as bland as the plain Ryvita consumers have been stockpiling but it isn’t:

 

Central banks are the institution in economies that can literally print money. They buy and sell government debt in quantitative easing and tightening cycles by literally inventing money. Their pockets are infinitely deep and the money they create never has to be paid back or made up. Even in the 2008 financial crisis developed markets central bank’s didn’t step into the corporate debt market – it wasn’t seen as a necessary step. However, the infinitely deep wallet is now being used to fund corporate spending directly.

 

A failing corporation can only stay alive so long as it can borrow in order to fund its commitments. When liquidity dries up in times of economic duress it won’t find people willing to take a risk on it and lend it money. In comes the Federal Reserve, directly funding the debt issuance to provide reasonably priced and guaranteed cash so that they might survive. Despite Trump’s criticism of the Federal Reserve it seems so far that the central bank is doing far more for US citizens than the White House or the US political system.

 

In the United Kingdom we have entered a lockdown as the public largely failed to heed the social distancing advice that the government had issued. Whilst Sterling reacted negatively to the news of lockdown around 8:30 last night, the Pound is bid this morning parring its losses in the overnight session. Markets have opened up constructively in many sectors as news of Wuhan reopening and Italy’s death toll curtailing reassures investors that this crisis will end.

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – Situation summary

Situation summary

 

Oil at the lowest level since 2001, stock markets off 30%, gold lower at $1476 than it was on January 1, interest rates cut in 50 countries to help, the US Dollar has appreciated by 10%. The secondary effects are as follows: travel restrictions in place in 100 countries, airlines have been hardest hit with flights from the USA to Asia down 98%. Restaurant bookings have fallen by 90% from the same period in 2019.Car sales in China have also fallen by 90%. Global growth forecast is 2.2% versus 2.8% for 2019. It is the sheer speed and the size of the moves that have taken markets and consumers by surprise-but there again in this age of perfect communication especially when it comes to bad news, we should not be surprised. Markets and especially currency markets remain choppy at the beginning of the week.

Just to repeat the FX mantra with apologies for it beginning to sound like a self help lecture(!): set objectives, put protection in place and patience will be rewarded.

SGM-FX remains open and busy with and for you our clients; we are working a full day-every day!

 

 

Russian Constitution

 

In case it’s passed you by, President Putin’s amendment to the Russian Constitution will let him stand in 2024 and that means he could remain in power(legally) until 2036. There have been some protests over the weekend about this but these have been muted due to the illegality of any large gatherings as well as the protesters taking each others’ temperatures and finding it difficult to make much noise from behind their face masks.

The relevance of this in particular at present is the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia which has generated still more invective over the weekend with Russia blaming the Gulf nations and KSA especially. WTI at $22.63 now.

 

 

Glastonbury 2021

 

No not a typo: in case you missed it those who have paid the £50 deposit for this year have been told that they can put it against the 2021 festival. Taylor Swift, Sir Paul McCartney and Diana Ross were just a few of the top names who have been stood down. The 200,000 fans who are disappointed by the reluctant decision to cancel this year have been promised a line up in 2021 guaranteed to wow them. Meanwhile it is by no means certain that the other pop festivals scheduled for the summer months will be able to proceed.

Live streaming from Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Yungblood, Christine and the Queens plus some social distancing in your tepee in your back garden is the only realistic 2020 cool and safe vibe.

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – GBP

GBP

 

Having fallen to USD 1.14 last night, GBP has bounced off that level and against all currencies including EUR it is stronger this morning. It has been a very long week and it is not over yet(!). Just to remind you, GBP started the week on Sunday night in the Far East at USD1.24.

 

 

Oil

 

With WTI now at $25.62 and the Saudis and the Russians engaged in their high stakes game of poker with oil supplies and prices, the world’s capacity to store oil is being severely tested given the slow down in demand due to the economic impact of Covid19. As land based storage facilities are filling up, traders are looking to water based storage ie using oil tankers as storage rather than transport. Last week Glencore rented 1 of only 2 ULCC or Ultra Large Crude Carriers which can take 3 million barrels. Tanker rates are soaring for super tankers: a 6 month contract is now $85K per day or $15.3 million, while a 3 month contract is $150K per day or $13.5 million. Ship owners are enjoying the ride while OPEC members are nervously hoping that Russia and Saudi Arabia patch things up soon…..

For those of you who are wondering about the price history, I have gone back to the end of WW2 and yes that was 1 of the 3 times that WTI has been at this price level. The others being 1973 and 1999. At the other end of the scale, the high in the past 75 years was in June 2008 when it was $165.

 

 

E scooter and Bike rentals

 

The two largest companies Lime and Bird started by suspending their services in 11 states in the USA and have now suspended their services in many European cities with the restrictions in place on people movement. With e scooters already an increasing feature of many cities, many are hoping that there is some clear legislation regarding their usage and in particular which part of the road they should stick to.

 

 

A story for our times….

 

The last time that I can recollect people in this country stocking up or less charitably hoarding supplies of staple goods was much earlier in my foreign exchange career when I was trading Swiss Francs (CHF). On 24-04-80 President Jimmy Carter gave the go-ahead to invade Iran for the purpose of rescuing the 44 American hostages that Ayatollah Khomeini had detained. Operation Eagle Claw was launched and included the USS Nimitz the high tech symbol of the USA’s fearsome nuclear power as well as 8 helicopters. As is well known the mission was a conspicuous failure as only 5 helicopters made it to the landing zone. Upon the advice of his generals, Carter then aborted the mission which prompted the Ayatollah to declare it an act of God or as he put it “Angels of God” which had intervened to protect Iran, him and his theocratic government from the Great Satan.

Meanwhile back on the trading desk, all hell was breaking out and suddenly the CHF was the most wanted currency in the world and I was in the hot seat. The spectacle of the mighty USA humbled in this way prompted a run on bottled water, baked beans, candles, torches and batteries. Epilogue: Some of my then colleagues who “went long” baked beans were feeding them to their luckless children for the next 2 or 3 years.

 

 

Popular Mechanics Magazine

 

Amazingly this publication still exists today with a website and also is popular……despite or maybe because of their 1949 prediction: Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons. SGM-FX’s IT guru, Michael shook his head sadly as he headed off home with his ultra light PC weighing just 1.35 kg. “Just tragic” he muttered.

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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Morning Brief – Down, down, down, down, down

Down, down, down, down, down

 

The chorus lyric of Flo Rida’s hit song echo the title of this market briefing. Two confessions: 1) yes I had to google the song to check 2) yes I spelled his name wrong. It might be erroneous to assume that just because the hit song was recorded in 2008 that Mr Rida was commendation on the global financial crisis and Great Recession he saw unfolding before him. But it seems more fun to do so than not, so I will.. After all, his co-star on the track (Ke$ha) even spells her name with a Dollar symbol! Coincidence?! Yeah probably.

 

Self-defamation and flippancy aside, the title of our budding musical FX analysts’ song was “right round”. My conviction to the belief of a sharp and deep recession followed by a period of rapid and unprecedented millennial growth mimicking a V-shape has only grown. I agree therefore with Flo Rida CFA and Ke$ha CPA, we should see valuations come right round.

 

Until the exogenous shock of Coronavirus the one world associated with GBP was Brexit. The most obvious feature of Brexit upon the Pound aside from a massive depreciation following the June 23rd referendum was a tight channel trade for more than three years. The range had a top (around 82.5 on a trade-weighted basis) that had been well tested and proven. It also had a firm bottom that had been reached and tested some three times in the course of post-referendum Britain at around 74 on a trade weighted basis. The average value was about 77.5 on the same scale. We have commented several times that this tight range is not sustainable and, eventually, volatility must come back into the underlying market and the Pound’s tight range broken. We also said that when the range is broken it won’t just crack, it will shatter and price action will be violent.

 

Following a rally at the end of 2019 following the result of the general election it looked as though the overdue range-break could have been to the upside. Unfortunately for Pound sellers and importers, the lack of a trade-deal and a stubborn PM in number 10 who was willing to leave without a deal capped Sterling’s gains in line but ultimately below the upper level. Given the above-average value of the Pound our expectation was for a correction at least towards the median and a move lower in Sterling. Well, we got it but the move was turbocharged by Coronavirus. As such we have broken the post-referendum price floor and Sterling is in free fall. See the graph below to see the Pound’s post-referendum performance and recent fall. Markets in normal times go up like an escalator. In bad times, they perform like a lift. Just in Sterling’s cash we’ve got a loose wire. Within the week, GBPEUR could well trade at 1-1.

 

On the desk we have been asked a lot why is Sterling taking the beating of international market’s angst at Coronavirus. Four reasons.

 

  1. Unpreparedness/Inaction

 

The UK government has been accused of inaction quite rightly. Despite a severe outbreak quarantine has not been enforced. Limitations on social interaction are value and not enforced. On top of that the amount spent and pledged by the UK government is pathetic in comparison with other developed European and US peers. Markets don’t like the UK government’s complacency and think it could deepen the Coronavirus crisis and ultimately the UK economy.

 

2. External deficit

 

Trust me, it isn’t just the Pound that’s taken a beating. All currencies whose underlying domestic economies have a large external deficit – i.e. they import considerably more than they export – are proving vulnerable to speculative flows. A weak current account balance can be likened to an over-leveraged debtor; in bad times their credit line is the first to be cut.

 

3. Brexit

 

With the political change that the UK was already attempting to undertake still underway and the time still ticking on a deal, there is a level of political risk that sours the taste of Sterling in investors’ mouths even further.

 

4. Oil

 

Whilst the UK may not be affected by the value of oil to the same degree as the true commodity currencies (CAD, NOK, RUB), Brent Crude (North Sea Oil) does still have an important influence on the capital flows around Great Britain. The sell-off in Crude Oil prices can still be seen to weaken Sterling slightly.

 

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Charles Porter

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Morning Brief – Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley

 

Sales having fallen by the relatively small margin of 10% is enough to have pushed the company into appointing Administrators. Sloane Rangers from yesteryear scarcely able to believe it are pinching themselves at this news given the vice like grip those designs had on Middle England for so many years. The virus outbreak has had an immediate and terminal effect on this high street perennial and the clear message is that we should brace ourselves for further chains to go the same way. With 150 stores and 2,700 staff it is a sad day to see Laura Ashley fail despite it being clear that those floral designs had had their day. Tempus fugit….

 

 

Australia

 

So obvious but why haven’t other countries adopted this excellent idea until now? In order to allow elderly shoppers in these extra-ordinary times to avoid aggressive shoppers and their hoarding, and to buy much needed food and other grocery supplies, supermarkets down under are opening one hour earlier for the elderly and advertising a so called Elderly Hour. Bonzer!

 

 

Iran

 

Political correctness gone mad: Students in Iran have made a film as part of a university project which appears to show it raining aubergines. Seems just the thing to jolly us all up in the circumstances. But the Iranian regime has taken a dim view of this “inappropriateness.” The 5 fun and aubergine loving students having been arrested were then paraded on public TV to make their apologies for causing “public disquiet.”

 

 

Lots of tips on what diet to follow to ward off Coronavirus: funnily enough pretty similar to diet tips before it was ever heard of:

 

Citrus fruit, broccoli, yoghurt, garlic, ginger, spinach.

 

 

And (working from) home exercise when you have watched all the box sets and can’t reach any co-workers to talk to:

 

Running on the spot-self explanatory

Push ups- brutal

Jump squats-worse

Side plank rotations-excruciating

Mountain climbers-heart rate higher than when you discover there’s no gin on a Friday night

Lateral shoot throughs-think high plank on one hand and leg combined with a kick.

Bunny hops-sounds benign, but it’s nothing like Watership Down.

Lateral lunges- you will be semi-unconscious by now so no need for explanation.

Bench dips-your arms and hips will be on fire two hours after stopping.

Bear crawls-this will finish you off.

Repeat…but look on the bright side, it has at least taken your mind off the news.

 

 

Meanwhile at SGM-FX….

 

The CEO has arranged for a flu vaccination top up to strengthen stalwart SGM-FX staff’s immune systems: a nurse is due this morning. Huge excitement from Euan on the Client desk who has apparently been re-watching Carry on Doctor.

Better hope it’s Barbara Windsor and not a Hattie Jacques lookalike…Ooh Matron!

 

 

 

Discussion and Analysis by Humphrey Percy, Chairman and Founder

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