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Investors love stories, but no happy ending for Emerging Markets

Investors love a good story, but the latest chapter of the emerging markets growth story has come as a nasty surprise to many. There may be much worse to come. Narratives can help to make sense of facts and figures. Stories can convey meaning, by joining up often unrelated information, and they offer hope. But […]

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Tougher regulation needed for UK listed company directors

A gap has opened up in UK regulation, leaving investors exposed to Companies Act and accounting issues without a clear remedy. Despite all the focus on governance and stewardship, investors are still getting nasty surprises. Tesco and Quindell are perhaps just the highest profile of those involved in further investigations. Making the stockmarket safer should […]

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Not what was forecast: UK index funds lagging active managers

Many UK active funds are now outperforming passive funds. But prejudices rarely disappear when hit with the facts. It is human nature to disregard data that contradicts our misplaced beliefs. This may be why little attention has been paid to the remarkable results of many active UK fund managers – in the face of much […]

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Illusory liquidity and other risks from misguided central bank policy

Does liquidity matter? Not, it seems, to regulators and central banks. Little thought is being given to the global systemic risk created by today’s liquidity illusion. In a world awash with money, trading is actually drying up, with little depth in many markets. Entering positions is easy, but the exit doors could prove surprisingly narrow. […]

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Audit firm governance needs to reflect the public interest

Is audit quality good enough? In large part that must depend on how well firms that carry out audits are run, and the Financial Reporting Council has opened a consultation on its governance code for such firms. The Audit Firm Governance Code dates to 2010, when the FRC introduced it to address audit problems from […]

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Should we worry about China?

Investors struggle with bubbles. Sure, we know they eventually burst, but lessons are quickly forgotten. Now China is a puzzle: it might look like a bubble, but what to do? Uncontrolled Yen devaluation could break China’s Renminbi peg and trigger more global deflation. But, timing and is hard to assess. Analysts and the press pay […]

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Risks are growing in big equity and bond funds

Money printing and the current stockmarket boom are increasing systemic risk, pushing problems into new areas. Now the questions is; are some asset managers too big to fail? The financial crisis highlighted risks in banks and insurance, but other areas have been overlooked. Finally, regulators are beginning to recognise risks in the investment sector, and […]

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Will China be sucked into the currency wars?

Currencies are fast becoming 2015’s big investment risk. A factor once largely ignored can now make or break performance. Already, sharp moves this year in the Swiss Franc and Euro have hit some funds hard. But, do investors get enough information from managers about the risks being run? Although many funds do not hedge, monthly […]

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Who wins from ‘adjusting’ earnings per share? Time for some rules.

Most companies in this results season are delivering reassuring updates, but can investors trust the numbers? Tesco’s issues have not only rattled its own shareholders; across the market, analysts wonder how widespread accounting concerns might be. Growth is scarce, and CEOs are under pressure to deliver. This has put more emphasis on presentation; but recent […]

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QE’s unintended consequences: Pension deficits to hit balance sheets

QE is having some serious unintended consequences, increasing pension scheme deficits and hitting company finances. Driven by liquidity and deflation fears, UK government stock, gilts, beat shares and most other asset classes in 2014. Long dated gilts gained over 20%. The trend has even accelerated already this year. Yet many UK pension funds, endowments and […]

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