China is the country with the largest population in the world at over 1.3 billion people. The land covers approximately 3.7 million square miles. The country is governed as a communist country, although they have developed a quasi-capitalist sector for business. China has the second largest gross domestic product (GDP) at approximately $7.0 trillion; behind the U.S. at $15.0 trillion and ahead of Japan at $5.8 trillion. The leaders opened up the centrally planned economy in the late 1970s and early 1980s to allow economic growth through trade, which has allowed China to grow at an unprecedented rate for a country its size. From 2001 to 2011, China grew at an annualized rate of 10.5%.
The U.S. dollar is still regarded as the reserve currency of the world. The majority of international transactions are settled in U.S. dollars and most central banks around the word hold it in their foreign exchange reserves.
But since the Credit Crisis of 2008, and the multi-trillion-dollar printing program by the Federal Reserve, the supremacy of the U.S. dollar as the “world’s currency” has been challenged.
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have agreed on starting a new development bank that will compete with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. (Source: Washington Times, August 5, 2014.) Both the IMF and World Bank are “U.S. dollar”-based.
Since the year 2000, the U.S. dollar composed about 56% of all reserves at central banks. But after the Credit Crisis, that percentage started to decline. In 2013, the greenback made up only 32.43% of all foreign exchange reserves at foreign central banks. (Source: International Monetary Fund COFER data, last accessed August 11, 2014.)
Yes, the $3.5 trillion in new money the Federal Reserve has created out of thin air has made other central banks nervous about holding U.S. dollars in their vaults. After all, if you were a foreign central bank with U.S. dollars as your reserve currency, how good would you feel to know the U.S. just printed more dollars as it needed them without any backing of gold?
But it’s not just the money printing. It’s the massive debt the U.S. government has accumulated…currently at $17.6 trillion and soon to be $20.0 trillion.
In the short-run, the U.S. dollar is still considered a safe … Read More
The Chinese economy is showing signs of stalling, but there are numerous areas that continue to show decent growth metrics, including automobiles and mobile phones.
Now, if you think AT&T Inc. (NYSE/T) or Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE/VZ) are big, take a look at China Mobile Limited (NYSE/CHL). China Mobile is the largest mobile phone operator in China, with about 790 million subscribers as of June 30—that’s more than the entire population of Europe! The company’s growth is even expected to expand as 3G and 4G networks grow in popularity.
You cannot ignore the fact that China is the top mobile market in the world with more than one billion users. Plus, you not only have the urban dwellers using these services, but we are seeing massive demand in the rural areas as well, especially when rural workers migrate to the cities, looking for jobs.
And with the mobile sector in the country being heavily regulated by the Chinese government as far as licenses and the landscape, there are currently only three major mobile operators in the country.
What’s most intriguing is the development of advanced mobile technologies. China Mobile only introduced its 4G network six months ago and already it has coverage in 300 cities and approximately 6.5 million users.
China is a key global growth market for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL), too, which is searching for growth in the emerging markets. Apple’s deal with China Mobile will definitely help.
China Mobile is regarded as the top brand in BusinessWeek’s “20 Best China Brands.” The stock pays an annual dividend of $1.88, for a current dividend yield of 3.8% … Read More
Good numbers are one thing, but stocks did go up in advance of what’s turning out to be a fairly decent earnings season.
It’s not unreasonable at all to expect the market to take a solid break, perhaps for the next two to three months. Of course, predicting corrections and/or consolidations among stocks is a difficult endeavor in an era of extreme monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve is slowly chipping it away, but it remains very committed to helping capital markets, especially as the economic data continues to be pretty soft.
Stocks are still looking stretched and this market is tired. A 10% to 20% correction would be a healthy development for the longer-run trend. Stocks need a catalyst for this to happen. It could come out of nowhere, and I’m reluctant to be a buyer with so many positions trading at record-highs.
Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI), a large U.S. auto parts manufacturer, had a modestly positive third fiscal quarter with sales growing three percent to $10.8 billion due to more sales in China.
The company had some one-time restructuring charges during the quarter. Earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding restructuring and one-time items) grew a hefty 17% to $0.84. Management confirmed its full-year guidance, which pleased the Street, but the position is breaking down a bit.
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company’s (DD) numbers were uninspiring and the company tried to keep investors interested with a four-percent increase to its quarterly dividend. The position’s starting to roll over and with agriculture being such an important part of the company’s business, changing preferences among farmers hurt its … Read More
The tally as of this morning:
The stock market is up 2.4% so far in 2014 as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while gold bullion is up 8.1% for the year.
“As an investor, do I get into gold or stocks at this point in the year?”
Well, if you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know I’m not a fan of stocks right now. I simply believe the stock market has become a Federal Reserve–induced bubble.
And while there has been a lot written about price manipulation in the gold market, and while mighty Goldman Sachs still says the metal is headed lower in price, investors should look at gold bullion right now…that’s both old gold investors (so they can average down their cost) and new gold investors taking their first position.
Here are my reasons why…
In 2013, the Indian central bank and government imposed tariffs and restrictions on the importation of gold bullion into India, as they believed the demand for gold bullion in the country was hurting its national accounts. In the first quarter of this year, India started to ease its gold importation restrictions, and bang, last month, gold bullion imports into the country increased by 65% over June of last year. (Source: Bloomberg, July 16, 2014.) Demand for gold bullion in China, which I’ve documented in these pages, is also very strong.
Inflation, what gold bullion acts as a hedge against, is starting to gain momentum. The Producer Price Index (which tracks changes in the prices producers pay) increased by 0.4% in June from the previous month; that’s an annualized … Read More
A few years ago, investors couldn’t get enough of Chinese stocks. This led to numerous frauds committed by crooks in China that has since tarnished the reputation and reliability of all Chinese companies, whether they’re legitimate or not, despite their operating in one of the top growth areas in the world.
While I’m not focused on Chinese stocks at this moment due to better trading opportunities in the domestic stock market, I monitor the country and remain convinced it’s still a key place to have some risk capital invested in. When the broader market understands this, I would expect renewed buying in Chinese stocks sometime in the future.
My view is that the country’s current leadership under President Xi Jinping, who assumed power in March 2013, has a vision to create a country of consumers, just like the United States; albeit, I doubt it will come close to what we see here with consumer spending driving 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) growth. In China, consumer spending drives about 30% of GDP so there’s work to do. In the second quarter, retail sales continued at a double-digit growth of 12.4% year-over-year.
The objective to cut the country’s dependence on exports and foreign investment makes sense. With a potential market in excess of one billion people, it’s the right move.
China may not be in the spotlight for investors now, but you cannot ignore the country. With the recent years of underperformance, I see great longer-term upside in Chinese stocks.
The Chinese economy is growing at well below the double-digit growth of the past, but comparatively, the growth is far superior … Read More
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