31 July 2009

Doorstop Lenders - What's your View?

Loan lenders Provident Financial have been in the firing line from concerned charities this week as they have announced healthy profits for the first half of 2009.

Provident provide "doorstop loans" aimed at poorer households - the credit criteria is low (those with a poor rating will be considered) and payments are collected by a Provident representative who visits borrower households.

But charities are arguing that the profits and customer rises to such loan lenders matches the rise in umemployment and bad debts in the UK. They say that a family drawn into a homeowner or personal loan from Provident could end up much worse off when faced with the 545 APR rate.

Indeed, the numbers owing money to Provident has grown to the hundreds of millions.

But Provident say that they are a responsible company with responsible criteria. What do you think? Should companies like Provident be targeting poorer households or should there be a largescale review in this type of lending practice?

29 July 2009

Spread Betting Attracts Growing Numbers

Are you in on the latest way to invest? IG Group, the financial platform giant, has announcement healthy profits despite the recession - up by 30%.

Financial spread betting is the area which is really drawing in the customers for companies like IG Group (their spread betting branch is called IG Index) - around 2,000 customers are joining the investment revolution each month alone. The numbers are not set to decrease by anyone's estimation.

Low interest rates, no commission (as spread betting is a form of gambling!) and quick results are all reasons that investors and savers are turning to this exciting trade to make money.

28 July 2009

Superpowers Meet in Washington

Apologies for the lack of posts in the last week....technical difficulties seem to be a factor at Blogger! But we are pleased to be back!

Today, the main economical and political news item is the SED conference in Washington between key powers USA and China. Co-hosted by Hilary Clinton and Timothy Geithner, it is of course headed by President Obama. The latter opened the talks by stating a need for the two nations to cooperate on a range of issues that affect the globe - includin nuclear weapons, piracy, civil war, North Korea, and of course the financial downturn.

Both nations have agreed not to stop fiscal stimulus as the situation is still "too fragile" to stop.

While there have been some 'wobbly' moments between the two countries - and during the Bush administration this atmosphere was certainly felt - they do rely on one another. Geithner has already pledged to rein in the deficit within the next four years, as this is a key concern for China, which holds huge reserves.

China is a key nation amongst the emerging market economies that are at the forefront of the new investor interest. Analysts are forecasting a good future in the emerging market, especially for long term investment.

23 July 2009

Currency Investors head Cautiously back to the Pound

The UK pound has taken some bullish behaviour from investors and currency traders on the news that the MPC will maintain its asset purchase scheme at 125billion GBP. This put an end to speculation and fears over what would happen and caused better interest in the UK's currency.

Recently, the pound has suffered as investors have shied away from its high risk - and headed back to the US dollar safe ground. But now, with an undoubted improvement in sentiment coming from the Bank of England, markets are noting an improvement in the sterling's status.

According to the Bank, UK growth slowdowns are all but diminished and inflation is only slightly above target - meaning there is a good chance that the country is on the road to recovery.

15 July 2009

Staff at Goldman Sachs to receive $770,000

US investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to pay staff a whopping pay packet of $770,000, in a story that reads as though it came from another world before recession tohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifok hold. But no, indeed the story is from today - the bank reported extremely healthy earnings for the second quarter. Earnings so good, even the most upbeat analysts were surprised.

The second quarter earnings were largely thanks to strong revenue growth from and currencies, underwriting fees from capital raisings and fixed income.

The bank apparently recognises the fragility of the market as a whole but has already paid back $10 billion of taxpayer funds - so some might argue that they are right to enjoy the profits.

However, US congress is less than impressed with what they call "bonus culture" and what, they believe, leads to financial risk taking .....which ultimately leads to banking disasters such as this one.

14 July 2009

QE to be Stopped say Bank of England

The Bank of England has finally clarified what exactly it is they plan to do when the current process of quantitative easing is over.

They had surprised foreign exchange and other financial markets last week by giving a distinctly vague announcement about the future of QE - enough for markets to react with lower confidence levels. Now, they have said that they are set to begin an "exit strategy" on the policy. How they will do that is not yet decided.

The decision to stop the booster policy has left markets slightly uneasy. Surely it is desperately needed?

Unions have already complained that cuts to public spending will see the jobless number rise yet more (from its already dire level).

The Bank also said that the current QE policy would take months to take action....

10 July 2009

British Pound Up against US dollar

Today the MPC left the markets in despair as they released a rather ambiguous statement as to the future of QE.

Up until the announcement, it was expected without much concern that the MPC would say that they intend to spend more money on the QE up to the full amount of £150 billion. But yesterday, the message was that they would spend the remaining £13 billion of the current programme and then....well, they would see at the next meeting in August.

The City reacted with disappointment and mixed opinions as to what would in fact happen. Some believe that the committee will definitely continue the programme and increase asset purchasing, but others believe that this is really open.

The news caused the British Pound to rise by about 1 per cent against the US Dollar.

09 July 2009

FTSE 100 Up

Today the Bank of England will announce its latest plan to boost the UK economy. It is widely expected that they are to increase the existing QE plan, possibly by another £25 billion.

The news has actually caused an increase in the FTSE 100, after having sat in the financial doldrums with two-month lows.

On the currency market, traders are still reporting an overall risk aversion mood among investors.

Overall there is still a down on recent highs over the economic recovery in the UK, and official data has shown that the economy shrank by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter, down on previous data.

This is the worst quarter performance since the late 1950s.

08 July 2009

Oil Down 63 Cents

Apologies for the lack of posts in the past two days on Blogger - there were technical difficulties!

But we're back! And today our focus is on the general financial mood and the fact that oil is back down - to a six-week low in fact! So what is going on - at the start of the year the mood was euphoric, and OPEC was forecasting highs of up to around $80 a barrel by the year's close. Is this still set to happen?

The answer is, it is hard to tell. On the one hand, investor confidence is down a little thanks to a number of factors, including the USA's poorer-than-expected unemployment figures and the rumours that there will be more fiscal stimulus. Investors are reacting cautiously, closing bets and moving back to the safe havens (the US dollar).

On the other hand, there are some who are saying that the oil price low is merely the correction of a too-early upward move.

Tricky times indeed for forex and futures traders!

03 July 2009

Travel Money for Summer Holidays

I always used to forget about money when I went on holiday. I am so good with everything else: searching for good flight deals online, comparing offers, finding good hotels and nice locations. Then I'd go to the aiport and realise I forgot to organise travel money! Sometimes I'd even forget until I arrive at the destination and realise I can't buy a bottle of water. So I'd go to the airport bureau de change and find myself losing a lot of money in the exchange.

When I realised how much cheaper and easier it was to order travel money online, I made sure that I never forget!! I have even got myself a Travel FX Card because that is the handiest way to pay abroad. It's so easy and works just like a credit card, except that it holds only as much money as you have loaded on there. So no going over limit or being able to borrow! The exchange rate is uneatable and purchase and withdrawal fees put credit card ones to shame.

It is summer, time to sort the holiday! Now, what is first on the checklist....?

Oil Futures Firm loses $10 million

It's like something out of a novel set in the City: a rogue trader in a large London oil futures brokerage firm is found out and the company subsequently loses $10 million.

Well in this case it is a true story and happened only this week. The price of oil jumped sharply when the trader, said to be one Steve Perkins, placed orders in the early hours of the morning when trade in London is usually thin (because most people are tucked up in bed!)....

He was found out (obviously) and has been suspended. The FSA investigates...

02 July 2009

Cautious US Market Ahead of 4th July Weekend

The US jobless count is still on the rise, and new figures are set to be released for later this day.

The markets are taking the hit over the speculation, and both US Futures and European Stocks were down this morning. The markets are remaining cautious now and into the long US weekend for Independence Day.

Foreign Exchange, Shares, Futures....all of these are dealing with the constant rallying and speculation, fears and risks as the world struggles to decide whether it is improving or headed for another dip.

01 July 2009

IMF Bond Sales Mean Power Shift for Emerging Markets

Things are changing in the International Monetary Fund. Today, they will vote on plans to sell billions of dollars worth of bonds. This will help them to boost their coffers, so that they can continue to rescue faltering and troubled economies.

The bond sale is massively supported by the BRIC nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as they have long awaited a chance to redistribute the voting rights within the IMF.

China, especially, seems fed up with the US Dollar's strength and overall power as the global reserve currency. It wants a new reserve and has been calling for Special Drawing Rights to be used as this. SDRs were created in 1969 to support the then foreign exchange system, Bretton Woods. Now they act as an international asset base for the IMF member countries and their value is based upon a basket of main currencies.

The IMF itself has indicated that a change to the reserve currency is possible at some point in the future, and the power shifts from within its member countries is certainly being taken seriously by all. But for now, the US dollar remains at the forefront.

All G20 nations agreed to contribute to the IMF at the last summit (the USA alone bid $100 billion), but the BRIC countries favour bond buying to regular contributions. All four nations have indicated that they would purchase sizeable amounts of bonds.