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It’s been a while since my Brexit-Schmexit series in 2016.  Back then, the concept of the UK leaving the EU was as remote as that of President Trump.  Fast forward a couple of years, and we are a bit over 13 months away from Brexit actually happening.

I’d like to revisit some of the current developments; however, I thought I’d devote this post to getting everybody up-to-speed with the new words and phrases coined around Brexit.  Considering that my audience is growing largely outside the UK, I figured a quick refresher won’t do anybody any harm.  So, let’s get to it.

I once read that writers are allowed certain latitude for creating their own words.  Well, here goes mine: Brexicon

Brexicon: /ˈbrɛksɪk(ə)n/

noun: brexicon

  1. The vocabulary of a British member of parliament, member of the public or member of the British or European bureaucracy in regards of the impending British exit from the European Union.
  2. A dictionary of terms regarding directly with Brexit.

I figured, since the Brexit vote in 2016, there have been many Brexit specific words and phrases coined around it, but very few people have stopped and thought about what they really mean, and why where they said in the first place.  Let’s look into some of the most frequently used: Continue reading

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Where did 2018 go?

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Whew, what a week!

On Friday the 2nd, an economic report came out stating that wages were increasing.  That surely was good news for the market… or was it?

Higher wages mean the economy is reaching full employment, which means that in order to hire an employee, you need to lure him away from his current job at a higher salary. This translates into higher expenses for employers, and less profits.  If the employer wants to make up for the shortfall, he needs to raise prices.  And that, my friends, is called inflation.  Inf-what? of course, we haven’t had any inflation for a long time, and all of the sudden, it hits us: It was there, all along, never left, only waiting patiently in the sidelines. Continue reading

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Can Blackstone Take on Bloomberg?

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You may have read on the news last week, before last Friday and yesterday’s market debacle took the headlines by storm, that private equity firm Blackstone (NYSE:BX), along with a couple of investors, made a bid for Thomson Reuters’ (TSE,NYSE: TRI) Financial and Risk business (F&R).

Upon announcement, Thomson Reuters’ stock jumped to $48.09 – over 10% on the previous day’s close of $43.45.  All gains were wiped out by the following day, and by Thursday, the stock had reached 52-week low of $41.41 or a good 13.89% off its highs two days earlier.  The stock closed the week at $42.34, still over one point below the pre-announcement closing price.

What happened? Did shareholders suddenly get cold feet? or was it a case that, as more information was made available, the more unreasonable Blackstone’s game plan seemed.  Let’s check out what was the background to this deal: Continue reading

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Dollar, where to?

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Sitting in my office in Zürich last Thursday morning, my amazing view of the Alps got interrupted by a 7-strong helicopter flight, I realized it was President Trump and his entourage flying to Davos.  The night before, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had said in an interview: “A weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities. Longer term, the strength of the dollar is a reflection of the strength of the US economy and that it is, and will continue to be, the primary reserve currency.” The press was quick to report on the first part of the quote, but failed to mention the second.  To that extent, it was made to appear that the Dollar was being manipulated by the top government brass, resulting on the Dollar index dropping 2% on the news. Fast-forward a few hours, and the President gave an interview to CNBC’s Joe Kernan, where he said about Mnuchin’s comments: “I think they were taken out of context…” About the Dollar he said: “I don’t like talking about it because frankly nobody should be talking about it.  It should be what it is, it should also be based on the strength of the country…”, and he concluded with: “…the Dollar is going to get stronger and stronger and ultimately I want to see a strong Dollar.” As soon as these comments was aired, the Dollar recovered most the previous day’s losses.

… the Dollar is going to get stronger and stronger and ultimately I want to see a stronger Dollar. – Donald Trump

But let’s backtrack a bit.  Even before the latest events in Davos, the US Dollar had lost value against all major world currencies, albeit in different degrees of intensity.  When we analyze the major drivers of currency fluctuations, we notice that most drivers actually point towards a higher Dollar as we can see below: Continue reading

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The Emperor’s New Clothes

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We live in an age where everything seems to be open to “self-identification”: Men can identify as women, women can identify as men, and car companies can identify as tech companies.  It is the latter that I would like to discuss today.

Tech or Transport?

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) with a market cap of around $56B, and privately held Uber, with a valuation of around $61B both claim to be tech companies, whereas Uber is an actual app that connects drivers with people in need for transport, Tesla is in fact a car manufacturer. Continue reading

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Time to Call it a Bubble

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Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I love to see Monday night quarterbacks giving their expert opinions, after the fact. Bubbles are very easy to spot… after they burst! And after the pop, everybody will comment on how obvious it had become.

Anybody who traded the markets in 1999 would remember the dot-com bubble. The time when anything and everything ending in .com would attract outrageous sums of money. At one point, a client of mine, asked me, in no uncertain, terms to invest his money in any company whose CEO appeared on CNBC wearing a turtleneck. I won’t depress you with the outcome of that story.

One thing about bubbles, is they can make even the smartest investors lose their discipline. It happened in the dot-com bubble with people investing in webpages that offered no way of monetizing content, or had no business plan for that matter; it happened to people shorting the market in the housing bubble, where they started longing certain CDOs in order to generate enough cash flow to sustain their short positions; it happened to railroad investors in the 1800s, and it happened to tulip investors in the 1600s.

Today’s bubble is called crypto-currency. It has several similarities to the dot-com bubble: Continue reading

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Does the Bull Have Legs?

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Hello faithful readership! After a long sabbatical, The Barker Report is back.

It’s been a little over a year. And what a year! Last time I wrote you, Obama was still president, we were in shock at Trump’s victory, the UK had still not fully digested Brexit, the Dow was at 18,923, the S&P 500 at 2,180, and the NASDAQ at 5,275. In the UK the Prime Minister had a decent majority, and Brexit talks were under way. Germany, France and the Netherlands were heading for the polls.

One year later, the markets are hitting record highs, the Dow recently broke the 25,000 mark and is heading for 26K, and the NASDAQ closed at over 7,100. The bull market has been broad, and based on strong fundamentals. So the real question is: does the bull have legs or is this rally about to end? I will try to explain my views below: Continue reading

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It’s finally over!

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Many of you may have wondered why did I go radio silent for such a long time.  Well, the truth is there was very little going on besides the elections; and, since I promised I wouldn’t be writing political blogs… I had to recuse myself.

But it is all over, another “surprise” election victory that “no one saw coming”, where “the polls failed miserably”… I am noticing a pattern here.  Anyway, let’s not dwell on why everybody was wrong, or how did Trump pull the rabbit out of the hat, let’s focus on what the markets are doing. Continue reading

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Tit for Tat?

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Am I the only one who has noted the suspiciously short amount of time that elapsed between the European Union asking Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes (refer to my blog post: Rotten Apple? Think Again), and the Department of Justice asking Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) to pay a fine of $14 billion.

In a very short period of time, the US is fining a major European bank an amount that is too close to be a coincidence to that which the European Union is asking a major American player to pay. Continue reading

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It’s the cumulative effect

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) showcased last week its new iPhone 7 and 7plus, along with the new Apple Watch.

Is it just me, or this is the 3rd time in as many years we’ve heard the public’s reaction be something along the lines of: “yeah, good, but not good enough for me to change phones”.  That was true from 5S to 6, from 6 to 6S, and now from 6S to 7, as a consequence, many iPhone buyers have kept their old handsets, and have opted to wait for further models, with bigger updates. Continue reading

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