A few thoughts about political legacies

I was wondering what kind of political legacy Donald Trump will leave. The Great Wall of Trump does not look too good at present, and foreign affairs look a bit messed up in the Middle East and Far East. Maybe Venezuela and Cuba will offer easier pickings, but he is missing out on a superb opportunity to create a political legacy at home. Adding a new star – Puerto Rico – would not only connect with the millennials but also get him a place in the history books. I can’t think of any other places that might qualify for statehood. There are only a few little islands left, and these could be incorporated into other states over time if they want this. Remember that the Euro Bloc has been increasing in size for some time now, whereas the United States has been stagnant in terms of adding new states since 1959 – part of Eisenhower’s pretty much unbeatable legacy.

Putin is trying to annex bits of the old Soviet Empire, so this will be his political legacy. There are similarities with German expansion in the 1930s – bunch of Commie gangsters – bunch of Nazi gangsters – not much difference as far as territorial ambitions go.

In China Xi Jinping has been quietly building a lasting political legacy, and I doubt that China will upset the applecart by taking back Vladivostok or challenging the American Pacific Fleet too seriously. In fact the only embassy that is seen to do good here in Barbados is the Chinese – Americans should be ashamed of the tat that their people sell in embassy yard sales – cargo cult mentality.

Macron has been handed his political legacy on a gold plate – the President who mobilised the country to rebuild Notre Dame.

Angela Merkel will mostly be remembered as the chancellor who encouraged immigration by displaced people from the Middle East. Risky as this could all backfire.

Theresa May – failure at the Home Office – on a par with Neville Chamberlain as she seems to be willing to commit the country to huge “reparations “ to avoid conflict

And as for the “unelected” Europeans, Barnier is trying to get away from the popinjay images, but still finds it difficult not to gaze into his own reflection, Junker is well known for his drinking, and Donald Tusk is a cheekie chappie who asks for all sorts of state benefits from others – as long as the Poles aren’t paying.

Out of the up and coming, the best political legacy prospect is AOC. She is a great example to people wanting to overturn “jobs for the boys” politics. Nigel Farage is another, but I am not sure that his party will gain much support – except in MEP elections. If you can get it, there is a very good film on Netflix – Knock Down the House – which examines challenges to the established political order.

A Recap

First let me refer you to earliest posts in August 2018. You can be sure that most investment advisers will not mention deposits with the U.K. and U.S. Governments, as these pay no commissions. Also up and coming people in various media and sports are magnets for people offering dodgy investment opportunities. So the first place to stack up savings is National Savings in the U.K. or US Treasury in the U.S. These are safe, unlike banks where there are limits to deposit insurance.

Stocks and shares always expose you to risk, and it is best to get some cash behind you before trying your luck. Many advisers and stock tippers give themselves glowing reports – but think about it – if you were tipping two shares a week long term you would have been bound to mention the tech giants of today – even if you thought that they were overpriced at the time. My only subscription is to a little known service that meticulously analyses stock tips in the U.S., and most are proven to be rubbish. My own thoughts on equities which I own can be found on here, as long as I am still alive !

For people who like the idea of a bit of collective equity risk, it is worth looking at Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). These can be very low cost – Vanguard and Schwab are brands to look at in the U.S., and Vanguard are also in the U.K. I own a Schwab ETF in my U.K. tax free ISA account – the one that invests in companies with good dividend track records – and from memory the annual charge is 7 basis point – that’s 0.007%, and also another small independent one that uses IBMs Watson – Artificial Intelligence – for stock selection – but that’s just experimenting and the annual charge is about the same as a U.K. managed collective fund. It’s actually true that some hedge fund founders are billionaires, and the reason for this is that their charges are huge – 2% of your money every year plus 20% of your profits is the norm. Once they have their billion or near, do you seriously think they care about investors money ? They just employ very bright maths graduates to work out algorithms and the trading costs can be huge too (from your money in addition to the 2%) They are the brokers most favoured customers too, so the bright grads get all kinds of benefits from lead brokers. So I do not invest personally in hedge funds !

The March 2019 Update

March was an eventful month and I will start with the most important new idea. This is Alibaba – BABA – which is a Chinese version of Amazon. Amazon is the most significant company making huge profits from the Cloud – Chinese Clouds are four to five years behind the US Clouds, and theirs will not only be huge, but also protected from US business incursion by The Great Firewall of China. My Smart Person thinks there may be better buying opportunities during this year, but for the record my first purchase was at US 181.26 and the month end close was 183.60. Not much happening, but interesting to see that BABA and rival TenCent are looking at pooling resources to create a Chinese UberLyft vehicle. That sounds like monopoly planning to me, and monopolies usually make money.

Staying with US tech, Microsoft put on about 6 dollars at 117.97. They are the second biggest Cloud business and have a reasonable chance of getting the Pentagon contract, which the teenage scribblers have already assigned to Amazon. Nvidia staged a rally from 154.52 (where I was losing) to 179.56 ( where I am gaining). Maybe their inventory is declining, and the recent rally in Bitcoin must be helping with chip sales. Roku gained in the early part of March, then there was a Whoops Apocalypse moment as soon as news got out that the company had filed to raise US 100 million in a mixture of equity, debt, and warrants. So the shares ended the month at 64.48 against 65.31. In my opinion they may go ahead with a fund raise, or they may just be opening a window ahead of the Apple and Disney streamers. Also Slack appears to have chosen NYSE for their upcoming listing – this is an interesting business enabling groups working together to cut out the chaff.

Moving to the U.K. market, Bango produced results in line with expectations but market makers decided to shake the tree that day ! Guess they had a few buyers lined up, as the shares closed the month at 110p against 94p. Premier Oil ended at 93.55p against my early March purchase at 73.2p. The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund may be sellers of exploration and production companies, but their ownership is only 1.8%, hardly significant. Norwegian Wealth all came from exploration and production in their sector of the North Sea, so I find it difficult to fathom their committee logic. I should also mention BAT which closed the month at 3194p. My small add was at 2514p but still not in profit on this holding. Smart Chartist is looking for a reaction from 3200p which they reached then 3400p then maybe 4000p. He’s not always right.

Finally my new investment trust holding – Smithson – closed at 1146p against my purchase price on 22nd January of 1035.6p. Hopefully on a shining path long term.