Chasing a Mirage

Swedes are a remarkably compliant people. Civil disobedience as an expression of individuality is collectively frowned upon whilst strict adherence to official instructions and suggestions is celebrated as the defining component of ‘lagom’, a supposedly untranslatable word that indicates both an acceptance of rules and convention and a passionate desire to not stick out from the crowd.

Thanks to the Swedes’ adoration of all things lagom, the government in Stockholm saw no need to order a lockdown. A mere suggestion to observe a social distance sufficed. Not normally a people relishing in close bodily contact, the Swedes complied with a suspicious eagerness that seemed to confirm all stereotypes.

Hailing from afar, the corona virus did not care for any other local trait or custom. Happily going about their business as usual, and in the process becoming President Trump’s favourite socialist country, quirky Swedes took great pride in their exceptionalism.

The country’s medical authorities continue to focus on establishing herd immunity as the only viable strategy to defeat the virus, absent a vaccine. Though no other European nation seems better equipped for herding than the Swedish, collective immunity remains a distant mirage. Just in the greater Stockholm area, the number of people infected by the virus needs to multiply by a factor of ten before herd immunity becomes a possibility. The virus must, of course, not mutate and spoil the effort.

Meanwhile the death toll keeps rising. Last month, 27 percent more people died in Sweden than might have been expected based on statistical averages. In neighbouring Finland and Norway, countries not burdened by lagom, there has been no spike at all in death rates. In Denmark, excess deaths amounted to 5 percent. By comparison, the UK in April reported a 67 percent spike in the country’s death rate.

There is no reason why Sweden should suffer more than its neighbours: the country’s population is relatively healthy and boasts an exceptionally high number of single person households. Only the government’s refusal to order a lockdown sets Sweden apart. It would seem that, perhaps, the Swedes have been a little bit less compliant than anticipated, allowing the virus to rip through its society opposed only by a probably fictitious national trait.

Winter Is Coming

Listening to Dr Rick Bright testify before US Congress and reveal the inner workings of the Trump Administration almost undermines one’s trust in politicians and their carefully selected appointees. In 2016, the good doctor was asked to lead the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a federal agency charged with the production and procurement of vaccines. On 21 April he suddenly resigned his post.

It now appears that Dr Bright was ousted for opposing the promotion of two potentially lethal drugs used to fight malaria as treatments for covid-19. But that was just the final straw that pushed him out. Dr Bright had also filed a whistle-blower complaint over large contracts awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services on the basis of political connections rather than scientific considerations.

Dr Bright displayed a sense of urgency and said that the US now faces its ‘darkest winter in modern history’. He also warned that time is running out for the country to come up with a coordinated response to the pandemic.

In a tweet both related and unrelated, President Trump demanded that Congress subpoena his predecessor Barack Obama for committing the ‘biggest political crime in US history’. The president failed to provide any specifics on Mr Obama’s alleged crime other than stating that ‘he knew everything’.

Whilst it was revealed that another three million American workers filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total job losses for the past seven weeks to a staggering 36 million, President Trump admitted on the Fox Business Network that the economy is unlikely to show signs of growth before the fourth quarter. However, he did promise to Make America Great Again next year.

As the president was chatting away on television, party politics were back on the hill without ever having really left. Republicans called the Congressional hearing all sorts of names whilst Democrats sought to showcase the administration’s incompetence in handling the pandemic. The latter had a field day with veteran California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo stating that Americans are ‘afraid, sick, hungry, and jobless’: “The government that was supposed to protect them has failed.” Texas Republican Michael Burgess shot back – from the hip of course – and called the hearing a ‘political sport’.

Whatever US politics has become, it is highly dysfunctional and unworthy of a great nation – something it never ceased to be notwithstanding Mr Trump’s constant belittling of the country. However, seldom before have the countries of northern Europe looked more civilised, orderly, and well-governed than they do now when compared to the allegedly Greatest Nation on Earth. That, by the way, says more about the United States than it does about Europe. Sad, very sad.

Only in America

Preppers, survivalists, libertarians, and assorted make-believe soldiers of private militias will gather tomorrow around the Michigan state capitol building in Lansing to express their anger over Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, now extended to 31 May. Mrs Whitmer has become the focal point of right-wing protest against measures that seek to limit the pandemic’s impact on society. They argue that the restrictions infringe on civil liberties guaranteed by the US constitution.

Last month, a mob of gun-toting militia members staged displays of civic power and managed to enter the state house in a scene both intimidating to the representatives who work there and reminiscent of apocalyptic disaster movies depicting a world gone mad.

At the time, President Donald Trump suggested the governor strike a deal with the protesters: “Give a little and put out the fire.” In one of his many disjointed tweets, the president had called for the ‘liberation’ of Virginia, also ruled by Democrats, saying that the state was ‘under siege’ and peppering his rallying cry with the obligatory exclamation marks. The implicit approval of the president emboldened the protesters in Michigan.

On Tuesday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel revealed that her office had detected a number of ‘credible threats’ against elected officials. In a Facebook group set up by militia members, commenters wondered openly how long it would take for the governor to meet with the business end of a shotgun.

Even Republicans are now scrambling to diffuse tensions and create a socially acceptable distance between their party and the mob. During Tuesday’s lockdown debate, Republican state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey called the protesters ‘thugs’ and their actions ‘despicable’: “It is never OK to threaten the safety or life of another person, elected or otherwise, period.” However, Republicans stopped short of banning the brandishing of weapons inside the state capitol as proposed by the Democrats. The sanctity of the second amendment is, after all, not to be violated.

However, ‘that woman from Michigan’, as President Trump insists on calling Governor Whitmer, may yet become a foe to be reckoned with. She stands a good chance of becoming Joe Biden’s running mate on the Democratic ticket. Notwithstanding the antics of local right-wingers, Governor Whitmer enjoys a 72 percent approval rating amongst residents of her state. According to a recent poll commissioned by The Washington Post, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic inspires trust in just 42 percent of Americans – a shockingly high number considering his erratic performance as commander in chief. Only in America.

Global advisory giant to launch major digital finance operation in Dubai

One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and services organisations is to develop a major digital finance operation from Dubai, confirms its CEO and founder.

deVere Group’s Nigel Green made the announcement on Wednesday as the world readjusts to a post-pandemic new normal.

Mr Green comments: “The world has changed forever in the last few months, the market has changed and client expectations have changed.

“Much of this is being driven by new technologies and the rapid pace of the digitialisation of our lives, including our financial lives. 

“It was a trend that was happening pre-pandemic, but which has been massively accelerated because of it.

“Indeed, this new decade is being reshaped more rapidly and more dramatically than any other.

“To meet these fundamental shifts, we’re developing and building a major digital financial organisation from Dubai.”

There are, says Nigel Green, three main drivers why Dubai has been chosen for this by the organisation that does business in 100 countries worldwide.

“First, we already have had for more than 15 years a considerable footprint in Dubai and across the UAE, with many teams of highly talented individuals.

“Second, Dubai, which is already recognised as one of the most important financial centres in the world, can be expected to become one of the world’s top ten international financial hubs to rival and more aggressively compete with the likes of London, New York and Hong Kong.”
He adds: “Dubai is helped in this regard by having an independent regulator, an independent judicial system, a global financial exchange, a stable, pro-business government, a high proposition of high net worth individuals, a dynamic business community, world-class infrastructure, superior digital and telecommunications networks, English as its de-facto business language, and its enviable geographical location and time zone.

“And third is Dubai’s passion for and expertise in innovation. We’ve seen this in real-time as the emirate diversified from oil to become a truly global leader in trade, transportation, finance, tourism, retail and real estate.  

“This is exemplified by Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’; as well as Sultan Al Mansoori, the UAE Economy Minister, saying recently that the new economy will now be built around digital.”

The deVere CEO says that the Dubai-based digital financial organisation will consolidate and “significantly further develop and expand” the organisation’s pioneering global Contactless Finance service and its world-leading fintech apps, which allow people to access, use, save, invest and manage their money 24/7, on-the-go, anywhere in the world.

Nigel Green concludes: “Our new Dubai-based model is designed for the new world with, as always, the client experience, and expectations and outcomes front and centre of mind.”

7 Benefits and Reasons to Invest in Mutual Funds

According to industry watchers, the net asset value of mutual funds across the United States stood at $17.71 trillion as of 2018.

Many individuals are looking to put their wealth into securities and other assets. However, due to the small size of their checks, investing in securities carries high costs.

Mutual funds come in to help aggregate individual investors. A principal mutual funds advantage is that you enjoy more convenience in investing. Here are seven reasons why a mutual fund is right for you.

What Is a Mutual Fund?

A mutual fund is an investment firm that brings together money from various investors to buy large-sized assets.

The assets that mutual funds typically put their money into are stocks, bonds, and other securities. The total sum of all the holdings a mutual fund invests in is called a portfolio and is managed by paid professionals.

When you give a mutual fund your money, you’re effectively buying its shares to become a part-owner earning from the income it generates. 

How Mutual Funds Work

Regardless of the kind of fund you invest in, its performance (and revenue) will depend on its kind of management.

A passive mutual fund will invest according to a set strategy whose goal is to match a particular market index. As a result, these kinds of mutual funds don’t require you to have deep investment skills.

Passive funds charge lower management fees since they don’t call for as much hands-on management.

It’s worth noting that two popular types of passive mutual funds today are exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds.

Actively traded funds, on the other hand, work to outperform the market indices. Consequently, they hold the potential to earn you more. They also carry a higher risk than passively traded funds, which you must put into consideration.

How Do You Make Money With a Mutual Fund?

Once a mutual fund makes a profit, there are three ways that you, as an investor, can earn a return – dividends, net asset value (NAV), or capital gains.

Dividends come from when the fund receives interest on the share it holds. Each investor in the fund gets a proportional amount, and you can choose to reinvest that in the fund.

When a mutual fund sells a security at a higher price than it bought it, it makes a capital gain. You’ll receive your portion of this income annually from the fund.

NAV is where the security you own increases in value due to the fund’s astute management. While you don’t immediately receive funds from the growing NAV, it means you stand to make more money should you sell your stake in the fund.

Mutual Funds Advantage

Mutual funds hold distinctive advantages as tools to help you grow your wealth. These benefits include:

1. Your Investment Is Diversified

Any financial consultant will tell you to take a diversified approach when it comes to wealth management. Diversification is whereby you mix the resources and investments in your portfolio to reduce the risk you face.

A mutual fund helps you to access various investments that face varying risks that can offset one another.

As a result, if a crisis or loss hits one sector, you won’t face as significant a loss as investments in other sectors can help offset the outflows.

2. Economies of Scale

One of the most compelling features of a mutual fund is the scale at which it operates. When many investors come together and pool their funds, they can buy into more lucrative assets that would have been hard to purchase as individuals.

Additionally, because of the large size of mutual funds, individual investors pay less for the service.

3. There’s Professional Management

If you don’t like picking the stocks to buy due to a lack of time or in-depth knowledge, then a mutual fund is for you.

Each mutual fund employs professional managers who do the heavy lifting with the research, picking stocks, and managing the portfolio. Thus, you get to access a full-time investment manager to help you grow your holdings at a fraction of the cost.

4. Liquidity

When you’re considering an investment as an individual investor, you have to assess its liquidity. The easier it is to sell what you hold, the faster you can access your money when you need it.

You can buy and sell a mutual find relatively easily unlike say disposing of property you have invested in.

In case you need money urgently, you can sell your holding in the fund fast. Should you spy out an opportunity in a sector your fund invests in, you can quickly and easily take up a position to benefit.

5. There’s Variety

As an individual investor, a mutual fund opens up a variety of options to put your money in that you’d not access on your own.

For example, a manager can run a fund that employs several investment approaches. You can access value investing, macroeconomic investing, and other methods all in one package.

Some mutual funds (known as bear funds) are structured to make money from a falling market. Such funds can enable you to protect your downside in ways you couldn’t as an individual.

Through this variety, you get to access foreign and domestic deals that can attractively grow your portfolio.

6. Easy Access to Specialized Sectors

If you’re interested in securing a position in complex sectors as an individual investor, then a mutual fund is the best tool to use.

Mutual funds have built up a track record of tackling extremely complex investment areas in a logistically easier manner for you. With one, low ticket investment, you get to outsource all the hard work that goes into such investment selections.

7. Transparency in Investment

Where you put your hard-earned money to work for you must be secure, and mutual funds give you this advantage.

Every mutual fund is heavily regulated to ensure investors are treated fairly. Therefore, with a mutual fund, you can have peace of mind since there is greater visibility into where you invest your money.

Let Your Money Work for You

Securities are a great way to grow your wealth, but as an individual investor, it can be costly to invest in them. A mutual fund is a vehicle through which your small check can make consistent returns. Another significant mutual funds advantage is the convenience you have as professional managers handle things. Pull together with other small investors to gain access to consistent investment returns.

Capital Finance International ( is your premier online resource for all things investment. Reach out to us today for news, commentary, and analysis that will shift your investment thinking.

Negative interest rates are coming, investors taking action: deVere CEO

Negative interest rates are coming and investors will now be looking to bolster their portfolios to ‘get ahead of the curve and build wealth’, says the CEO and founder of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

deVere Group’s Nigel Green is speaking out after rate options, which gauge monetary policy forecasts, implied on Monday a 23% likelihood that the key federal funds rate will drop below zero by the end of 2020, according to BofA Securities data.

It’s not just the U.S., the world’s largest economy, which is moving towards this scenario.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England also suggested that the UK may be headed toward negative interest rates.

Mr Green comments: “A new global era of negative interest rates would have been unimaginable even a few months ago.  But this has now changed due to the coronavirus.

“As central banks around the world grapple to control the economic impact, it can be reasonably expected that more and more of them will take a dramatic change of policy course and take rates to below zero – like their peers in Europe and Japan.”

He continues: “There is legitimate debate about the efficacy of negative interest rates on boosting economies. 

“They could turn out to be a masterclass in the law of unintended consequences as they could be viewed by consumers and investors that the underlying economies are in a perilous position and, as a result, prompt a drop in consumer and investor demand.”

Whilst the debate on whether negative interest rates help the ‘real economy’ or not will continue, there is no doubt that they help boost financial asset prices.
“With this firmly in their minds, market-wise investors will know be looking to bolster their portfolios before the next round of cuts and the likely subsequent price increase. They are taking advantage of the lower entry points now before the next major rally,” notes Nigel Green.
He goes on to add: “In addition, those with savings in the bank are already getting no return thanks to the ultra-low interest rates.  Negative rates will offer them more reason to increase their exposure to equities, for example.”
The deVere CEO concludes: “The question mark remains on whether cutting rates from their already low levels will solve the issues created by the coronavirus outbreak.
“I believe, due to the economic situation and the hints from central banks, that there are more rate cuts on their way as they know it’s not sustainable to just keep printing money.

“This ‘direction of travel’ will push up financial asset prices and, as such, many investors are now looking to get ahead of the curve and build wealth.”


Displaying an unsurprising anarchic streak, Elon Musk today defied a county lockdown order to reopen his flagship car assembly plant in Fremont, California. The enfant terrible of the US manufacturing industry dared the local sheriff to arrest him and said that he would be onsite orchestrating the start-up of production lines idle since mid-March.

Mr Musk, infamous for lacing his tweets and comments with four-letter expletives, has leveraged his fearsome reputation to drive up the share price of the company in which he retains a 51 percent stake. Since he first vented his anger at the stay-at-home order issued by Alameda County on 29 April and set to expire on 31 May, Tesla shares have gained 35 percent in value, recovering most of the terrain lost when the market pulled back in March. Interestingly, Tesla shares were already on a downward slope when the pandemic reached US shores, retreating from their February peak of almost $970 to settle around $860.

Today, in early morning trading, Tesla shares advanced steadily and tacked another 3.6 percent to their winning streak. Bucking the overall trend of the market, investors in Tesla have seen their holdings double in value so far this year. Over the past 12 months, Tesla stock gained a staggering 262 percent.

Mr Musk is a hook-or-crook kind of guy used to getting his way. He has friends in high places too. Over the weekend, he lambasted county authorities in a series of tweets, threatening to up sticks and move to a more welcoming and pliant jurisdiction. He is on the same page as President Donald Trump and considers the lockdown a ‘power grab by fascists’. Tesla’s battery plant in New York has also been shuttered by these unspecified forces of evil.

Last week, during an earnings call with fund managers and major investors, Mr Musk questioned the constitutional legality of the stay-in-place order decreed by the six counties of San Francisco’s Bay Area as it imprisons people and deprives them of their basic rights. He also feels that his personal freedom to make money has been curtailed.

Tesla manufactures flashy, fast, and often faulty vehicles. The company was not amused when Netflix posted a new batch of episodes of its Fastest Car series. In one memorable episode, a Tesla Model S was pitted against a 1990 Nissan 300SX and a 1989 Ford Mustang souped up by bearded amateur grease monkeys. The car was soundly beaten on the quarter mile by both wheeled rust buckets. Though undeniably fast, the Tesla barely managed to outpace a heavily modified Toyota pickup truck, also partaking in the challenge.

Cabbies in Europe and North America also have a thing or two to report on the build quality and maintenance requirements of their Tesla cars.

All this is not to say that Mr Musk is pursuing his glory without guts, vision, or perseverance. He is in many ways a genius which almost inevitably results in a social deficit. However, as long as he sticks to the rules, all may be forgiven. The trouble is, Mr Musk doesn’t particularly care for rules.

Bitcoin halving highlights crypto is part of mainstream finance: deVere CEO

Bitcoin’s historic halving event on Monday underscores that the “long-term future of cryptocurrencies is secure”, says the CEO and founder of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as the world’s supply of Bitcoin was forever slashed on Monday. The highly anticipated halving event, occurring only every four years, means that less and less Bitcoin – which is limited to 21 million units – will now been mined.

Monday’s was only the third ever halving. In 2012, the number of new Bitcoins issued every 10 minutes fell from 50 to 25. In 2016, it went down from 25 to 12.5. Now, in the 2020 halving, it will drop from 12.5 to 6.25.

The halving happened on block 630,000.

Nigel Green says: “The historic Bitcoin halving event has demonstrated in two ways that digital assets’ long-term future is secure.

“First, the price had been rising steadily ahead of the highly anticipated event – almost three-fold in the last three months – and then dropped back just before and after it took place.

“This shows that there has been increasing retail demand for Bitcoin as investors see and understand the growing influence and huge opportunities of digital currencies in an increasingly tech-driven world.

“With this in mind, large cryptocurrency investors, known as ‘whales’, accumulate crypto at much lower prices then start a sell-off to capitalise on this sustained growing demand.”

He continues: “Second, history teaches us that after this post-halving drop in price, there is a subsequent bull run. 

“Previous Bitcoin halving events have prompted impressive price climbs. The 2016 halving triggered a 300% jump in the value of Bitcoin. 

“There is no reason to believe this time the market will not respond with a longer-term upward trajectory.

“Indeed, the rally which is likely on its way could potentially be even more dramatic because there is more mass awareness than ever before of the long-term use of and need for digital currencies.”

The deVere CEO adds that in these unusual times, central banks have increased monetary supply and this will further drive prices of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

“Traditional currencies are devalued and inflation fears rise on the back of the mass printing of money, the likes of which we have recently seen in the U.S., where the nation’s central bank has added trillions of dollars to the money supply,” he says.

“Such measures will inevitably encourage even more investors to consider decentralised, non-sovereign digital currencies.”

Mr Green concludes: “Looking ahead beyond the halving event, cryptocurrencies are increasingly becoming regarded as the future of money due to the real-world issues they address and growing mass adoption.”

Merkel Steps In

Just about the last thing Europe needs is for Berlin and Brussels to clash. The EU is, to say the least, not amused by a ruling of the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe that could force the Deutsche Bundesbank to drop out of any future support initiatives by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The German judges seem to have overruled the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which in 2018 okayed the various ECB bond-buying programmes that sustain the continent’s sagging economy. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, incidentally a former German defence minister, immediately threatened the country with sanctions and penalties should it allow national courts to forget their legal standing.

It is a well-established and perfectly logic legal principle – one against which in the UK Brexiters rebelled – that supranational courts such as the ECJ trump domestic ones. Should judges in all of the 27 EU member states be able to question EU law, the union would instantly cease to function. Anyone with a beef against the union may, however, approach the ECJ in Luxembourg for a ruling.

Earlier today, Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in to re-establish order. She did so by stating that surely a compromise solution can be found and that she sees no need for heated argument or, indeed, threats.

The surprise ruling of the German court was promptly welcomed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who dislikes all things European and makes a habit out of ignoring his own country’s recent and more distant past.

With his usual holier-than-thou attitude that bespeaks of an innocence personified, Mr Morawieski appeared elated by the news from Karlsruhe and called it ‘one of the most important rulings in the history of the European Union’. He should know for Poland was one of the last countries to join the EU (in 2004).

The country has benefitted massively from Brussels’ generosity, receiving in excess of €17 billion annually for its €3.5 billion membership fee. Poland also profited from hundreds of billions in private investment that helped transform the country into one of the EU’s success stories.

Then again, Mr Morawieski doesn’t quite like the terms of EU membership and strongly objects to its insistence on judicial independence and the rule of law. Without enjoying the UK’s undeniable heft – and little good did that do – Poland, or at least its government, would like nothing better than to reduce the common market to a dumping ground for its unemployed and a source of cheap credit and juicy grants.

Mr Morawieski, isolated in Europe for his recalcitrance, has now found some allies in Karlsruhe. However, he is in for a surprise. The ruling of the constitutional court is by no means the last word on the matter. Chancellor Merkel knows that Mrs Von der Leyen is right when she upholds the supremacy of the ECJ. A face-saving solution is already now in the works, one that upholds the established order of legal things whilst preserving the dignity of the German Constitutional Court. However, the Polish prime minister may not be so lucky. His brother in arms over in Hungary, Viktor Orbán, proved much smarter and wisely refrained from commenting or grandstanding.

Are rallying stock markets out of step with economic reality?

Buoyant stock markets are not necessarily ignoring alarming economic data, rather they are reflecting the post-pandemic era, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

The observation from deVere Group chief executive and founder Nigel Green comes as official figures on Friday revealed that more than 20 million people in the U.S. lost their jobs in April and the unemployment rate more than trebled.

Mr Green comments: “The staggering U.S. unemployment numbers wipe out a decade’s worth of job gains. There’s been nothing like this since the Great Depression.

“Yet U.S. stock futures climbed higher as global markets rose on Friday.  This is highly unusual.”

He continues: “There are two things happening simultaneously here.

“First, a weak first half of 2020 has already been priced-in. 

“As have the risks of a potential second wave – but the concerns of this are being largely contained as it is not such a ‘bolt out of the blue’.

“It is extreme uncertainty, the likes of which we saw at the peak of the pandemic, that typically upsets markets.

“Whether they are correct in their assessment remains to be seen, but markets are looking towards the second half of the year.  They appear to believe that there is likely to be a steady economic recovery as key advances are made in coronavirus treatments, as central banks continue to implement and further bolster historic stimulus packages, and as lockdown restrictions around the world are eased to revive activity.”

He goes on to add: “Second, and perhaps more importantly, stock markets are reflecting what is going on in the economy right now and what it’ll look like post-pandemic.

“A closer look at the markets reveals that, of course, not all stocks and sectors are rising equally. They are being driven up across the board by the ‘winners’ of this new era including tech, biotech, home entertainment and established online retailers, amongst others.

“We can assume that these, and other stock market ‘winners’, are showing us what the future economy looks like.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The optimistic stock markets seem at odds with the grim economic data.  They may be being overly confident, even complacent.

“But it could also be the case that they are giving us clear signals for the current and future shape of the economy, in which there are and will be distinct winners and losers. 

“A good fund manager will help investors seek out the opportunities and mitigate potential risks as and when they are presented to generate and build their wealth.”