China’s bid for world domination

The rumour that China plans to dominate the world has been circulating for decades. Its isolation from the West for a significant period of time made it even easier to turn the country into a Bogey Man. Some argued that it was a misunderstood country, whilst others held firmly to the view that China could never be trusted. These days, with greater media coverage of the world’s most populous country, we perhaps have a clearer view of its ambitions, and it seems some of the old rumours contain more than a grain of the truth.

Global expansionism is one of China’s tools. John Glynn writes that Beijing’s ‘Going Global’ strategy emerged in 1999, and it signalled the end of the “Mao-era mindset of self-reliance.” China suddenly started taking advantage of a boom in world trade and global market investments. Glyn says, “The idea that one government could commandeer sub regions in Asia, Europe and Africa, which account for 64 percent of world population and 30 percent of world GDP, might sound ludicrous. But try telling this to the Chinese government.”

Glyn also warns in his article that President Xi is engaged in an ideological and economic venture, and that it is clear the country has massive global ambitions, if its investments are anything to go by: “Between 2005 and 2017, the combined value of China’s global investment in construction was $1.8Trillion.”

What does it construct? The Chinese Government is making a concerted effort to increase infrastructural, economic, and political connectivity between China and the other countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Glyn calls it a “Belt and Road” initiative. But as he also says, it is essentially a new Silk Road connecting China to the rest of the world.

Glyn also remarks, “While other countries find themselves consumed by petty squabbles, Beijing officials discuss square footage, potential monetary gain, and militaristic strategies.”

It has invested widely in Energy, Transport, Real Estate and Metals — the key ingredients for developing infrastructure, and this has worried the Western governments, particularly the Trump presidency. That’s why he’s so keen to buy Greenland, an island mass that is rich in rare earth metals.

It is also the case that China has been involved in lending large amounts to other countries, and some fear that part of its strategy is to saddle these countries with “unimaginable levels of debt.” Furthermore a lot of this debt is “hidden” and that is especially worrying. Hidden debt means that the borrowing isn’t reported to or recorded by official institutions. A Kiel Institute study found that other countries’ debt owed to China has soared ten-fold since 2000, and it stated, “This has transformed China into the largest official creditor, easily surpassing the IMF or the World Bank.”

Much of this money is going to emerging markets. This is not because China wants to help grow these economies, but because it allows China to put those countries in a position of “indentured servitude.”

It is also looking to expand its military bases internationally. The US defence department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in its One Belt One Road initiative. Currently Beijing currently has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti. However, officials are planning others, including one in Pakistan.

This repressive regime has global ambitions and they are closer to being a reality than ever. Can China be stopped? The answer would appear to be — NO!

Economic Predictions And Trends For 2017

Trend watching, especially when it comes to what is happening in the economy is always interesting, sometimes very exciting and occasionally a bit of a let down. In 2017 we’ve been highly focused on political news, and the new trend of what is fake and what is not, and the economies have been in something of a state of flux as a result, but here are some directions that we’ve been going in that may continue into next year.

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American expansion

The soothsayers predicted that the sustainable expansion seen during the Obama era would suddenly see expansion with the election of Trump. Was that because he is a businessman rather than politician? Perhaps, but Donald’s big boom hasn’t yet happened, although there is some growth.

The Brexit Effect

Many foresaw that the UK leaving the EU would bring uncertainty to the UK economy, and guess what, it has done just that. Every time a statement is made from Downing St. about the state of the exit negotiations, the markets either have a moment of hope, or take a nosedive. Expect to see more of this.

The EU

Euro-sceptics said that the Netherlands, France and Germany would surprise everyone with a vote against membership of the EU. So far, elections in France and the Netherlands have shown strong support for the EU and it is now hard to imagine that Germany will show any inclination to leave.

Chinese stability

China’s economy is looking increasingly stable and its deflation pressures are easing. Lowered interest rates will ease the country’s high debt levels and this helps the global community as well.

Watch Trump

It has been quite a year of watching Trump and what he tweets, and then watching how stock markets and other governments respond. He was very bullish about China and imposing high tariffs on their goods during his election campaign, but so far any anti-trade action has been subdued, perhaps due to the fact he is now more preoccupied with North Korea. But Trump and China is still one to watch.

Interest rates

As predicted in 2017, the USA has hiked interest rates twice this year so far. This is a show of confidence in the U.S. economy thanks to a rise in employment levels. Will this continue? We have yet to see. The UK by contrast has been extremely cautious with its interest rates and a speech by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England on 19th September 2017, suggested that any rises would be “limited and gradual.” This gave sterling a very slight advantage over the dollar during trading following the announcement, and the pound has been bouncing up and down all day and the FTSE 100 went into the red. What will happen with sterling and the dollar by December is the question everyone would like an answer to.

Higher stock prices

In 2017, stock prices have looked extremely solid and have followed an upward trajectory as predicted in 2016. We can expect to see this continue into 2018.

 

 

 

 

The world’s 6 best performing economies

It is interesting to note that although there are shifts in the best performing economies from time to time, overall they tend to remain the same. You could say that the ‘usual suspects’ are always at the head of the list, but there are undoubtedly some threats to the Big Daddy of world economies, and I am referring to the USA.

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The United States of America

It is still No.1 in terms of nominal GDP. In fact it accounts for 25% of the world’s gross product. It takes this spot thanks to its advanced technology, infrastructure and natural resources and it only beats China due to the fact that its GDP per capita is higher. GDP per capita for the US economy is approximately $59,609 versus $16,676 in China.

China


With a GDP of $23.19 trillion it should be in No.1 position. It has transformed itself from a closed economy into a manufacturing and exporting hub. This started back in 1978 and since then it has achieved on average, an annual economic growth of 10%. It has lifted almost 1.3 billion people out of poverty and it is estimated that it will pull into the top spot over the next few years.

Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun is still a world economic leader with a GDP of $4.8 trillion, although it has been going through some challenging times since 2008 when it showed symptoms of a recession. Further strains have been put on the economy by a weak currency and subzero bonds, but growth of 1.2% is predicted for 2017 and it is likely to stay at around 1% for the next five years.

Germany

Germany remains Europe’s largest economy and forth in the world in terms of GDP. Its strength lies in exports of machinery, automobiles, chemicals and household equipment, plus it has a skilled labour force. It does face some challenges, including the UK’s Brexit and a refugee crisis. However, it is predicted that it will maintain stable growth at about 1%-2%.

United Kingdom

The UK is in fifth place with a GDP of $2.5 trillion. It is driven by service industries, particularly in the financial sector, which accounts for 75% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture are small, but important contributors. However, its current position is threatened by the decision to leave the EU and economist predicts that it could result in anywhere between a 2.2% to a 9.5% loss in GDP. So, its future in the league table is uncertain.

India

India has a GDP of $2.45 trillion. Its large population lowers its GDP per capita and it is very dependent on agriculture compared with Western countries. However, the services sector now accounts for 57% of the GDP, while industry contributes 26%. The economy’s strength lies in a limited dependence on exports, high saving rates, favourable demographics and a rising middle class. It is now a faster growing economy than China and is expected to rise to fourth place by 2022.

The Top 6 are followed by France, Brazil, Italy and Canada. It will be interesting to watch what happens. Predictions say the leader list will look much the same in 2022 as it does now – let’s see,

 

Stop Focusing On Short-Term Results

Firms get very excited when their half-year results are good, but what does six months of great profits and soaring stocks really mean in the bigger picture. Is there a good reason to feel things are going so well that there is no need to consider a downside? I don’t think so. But, the short-term should not be your focus when markets are buoyant, or when they in a decline.

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Let’s say you look back at what was happening a year or two years ago. Perhaps your business was doing well, but did you make any changes as a result of improvements in performance. On the whole, large and small businesses tend not to do anything; they feel content with the status quo. And there is a good reason for this.

The media creates panic

Even political activity that makes the markets jittery is just a lot of noise in the media. The markets react in their own way. As I’m writing this, North Korea has just fired a test missile over Japan and newspapers report that the Dow Jones opened at lower average and buying of physical gold is up. Whatever happens, there will always be a short-term response to the situation. But that is just today’s story. There is another picture to consider.

Currently the markets are pretty strong –the response to North Korea aside –but everyone who invests knows that what goes up can also come down. I’m not sure when the markets might start to be more ‘bear’ than ‘bull’, but one thing is certain – it will happen.

The history of ups and downs

You only have to look at history to know this is true. For example, Capital Research produced an overview of market declines based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1900 to 2016 and they found something interesting:

  • There is a decline of roughly 5% three times every year
  • About once per annum there is a decline of around 10%
  • Approximately every two years, the 10% decline will become a 15% decline
  • Every 3.5 years the market decline will reach 20%+

So, what does this tell us? First, that there are declines every year and that makes them ‘normal. The research also shows that 2015 was the last year in which there was a 5% decline, and this means, based on probability, that there will be one coming soon. And, finally, even though we have declines, things always pick up again.

Focus on the long-term

This is important information to consider when you’re investing for the long-term. Accept that there will always be a downturn and factor that into your investment plan. Don’t panic when a market starts to drop, and don’t suddenly pull out unless you really have to, because as the research shows, sooner rather than later, your investment will be back on track again.

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