One might be excused, as 2016 draws to a close, for wanting to forget all about the year. This is especially true for Turkey. With its increasingly authoritarian government, slowing economy and the third worst performing currency in emerging markets year to date (only “beating” the Mexican and Argentinian Pesos), Turkey has been a market investors have found easy to ignore, so easy that I found myself, not long ago, the lone foreign investor at a conference in Istanbul.
The last few decades have seen the widespread shift of manufacturing to countries with low labour costs. As these contries become more developed, labour costs have started to rise dramatically, with manufacturers no longer able to rely on emerging market wages to keep costs low, their competitiveness is threatened, and technology may well offer the solution.
Investing can be a very complex business, yet it is often further complicated by individuals desperately trying to “outsmart” the market and their peers. Thankfully we have never really gone in for that game – not only because we are probably not that clever but because doing what we do, we simply don’t need to.
Angela Merkel has been labelled “Mama Merkel”, coined the phrase “wir schaffen das”- we can do this- taken selfies with Syrian refugees, and received the dubious accolade of Bono’s praise. From August to November she suspended the Dublin III regulations so that Syrians seeking asylum were not limited to the first EU country they entered, but could choose to apply to Germany instead. Almost unprecedented numbers have pressed across Europe to reach the welcome haven of Germany.
All in all, we expect the emergence of a small number of companies which will dominate the retail space, following many years of growth. Within the sector, the long-term structural trends are robust enough to offset potential cyclical headwinds and, despite the headlines portraying a potential worsening picture, the leaders of Russia’s food retail market today have the potential to continue their expansion based on multiple levers of growth.
Until relatively recently it was taken as given that either the Euro would survive in something like its present form (a key element being that all the constituent members would remain members) and that Eurozone life would sooner or later recover its previous equilibrium or there would be a forced departure of a member (i.e. Greece), which would inevitably spell the end of the whole Euro ‘project’ (to use that particularly unlovely item of Eurojargon). A little as if the single currency was like a garment made entirely of chain-stitch: pull on one end of a thread and the next minute (hey presto!) nakedness….
We are often asked how much value we really get from meeting with companies face to face that you can’t achieve by reading a conference call transcript or annual report. Recently, I have had an even more sceptical response to a trip I took last month to visit companies in New York, Chicago and Houston. What possible value could a UK investor garner from meeting with businesses in America?
Global trade is, put simply, totally dependent on the shipping industry.
Shipping is almost incomprehensibly vast and covers a myriad of sins. Just about everything is transported by sea – there are at least 20 million containers crossing the world at this very moment!