Behavioral Economics Nowadays

The study of human behaviour, which has traditionally come under the umbrella of psychology, would seem to have little relationship with economics.

But, as we learn more about how the brain works through the dual disciplines of neuroscience and psychology, there is an increasing marriage with the field of economics, in order to better understand how people make financial decisions.

This has evolved considerably in recent years and is an emergent field that deserves a little introduction and explanation.

The traditional view of economics and financial decision-making

It is sometimes forgotten in economics that the field is meant to be about the behaviour of people when making financial decisions.

The traditional economist’s view is that the world is populated by unemotional, logical, decision makers, who always think rationally in drawing their conclusions. This view is underpinned by the understanding that human behaviour displays three key traits: unbounded rationality, unbounded willpower, and unbounded selfishness.

This has always flown in the face of the findings of cognitive and social psychologists, who questioned these assumptions as far back as the 1950s.

With the rise of behavioural neuroscience since the 1980s (especially Kahneman’s work) providing more insight into the workings of the brain, we are now more sure than ever about the role that emotion and bias plays in all decision-making: from simple day-to-day decisions like which dress to wear, through to larger decisions that may affect many people.

Overconfidence and optimism are two examples of behavioural traits that may lead to sub-optimal financial decision-making, and divert from the traditional model used. People have also been shown to make poor decisions, even when they know it’s not for the best, due to a lack of self-control.

So this is where behavioural economics has been able to step in and modify many of the beliefs of the traditional economic views.

What is behavioural economics – and how can it help?

Behavioral economics and behavioral finance study the effects of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on economic decisions.

This may apply to individuals or institutions, and involves looking at the consequences for market prices, dividends, and resource allocation.

Of the three traits of human behaviour included in the traditional model outlined above, unbounded rationality has received special focus, with new understandings in the field resulting from neuroscience.

Understanding better how people arrive at financial decisions can help in many areas: from personal finance to organisations shaping products and trying to get more customer sign-ups; and from the vagaries of stock market trading through to governments and how they formulate financial legislation.

Perhaps behavioural economics can, in future, help people to make better decisions to safeguard their financial futures; it may even have helped if more attention had been paid to it in the lead up to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

 

Benefit Of Online Bill Payment

There was a time when people did not feel at ease with paying their bills online. Most of them find it hard to trust the security of transacting on the web, and thought they have no control over their money with online bill payment. When you submit your checking account details to your insurance company or utilities provider, there is a risk that you could be overbilled or that your identity could get stolen. It seemed safer to write checks and stamp envelopes, which is why many people stick to that practice.

However, this is no longer the case. More individuals are paying almost all bills you can imagine online – like credit cards, loans, mortgages, rent, tuition and utilities, to name a few.

Why then should you choose to pay your bills over the Internet? As a start, you will be able to save on time as well as costs of postage and late payment charges. Also, paying online is safer than through snail-mail. Your personal details are more prone to risks like theft when on print and in motion via the postal system. When you pay your bills with your credit card, it is easier to monitor your finances and, furthermore, you can save airline travel miles as well as win cash-based rewards.

There are three simple ways to make an online bill payment: via your bank, on the website of the biller or through a third-party. Each comes with pros and cons so the method you decide on depends on your personal choice. There are good reasons why you should move forward and pay your bills online.

Whenever online bill payment comes to mind, you might think it involves setting up automated drafts from your bank account to pay your bills. However, more and more people are choosing to pay their bills online using their credit cards. More merchants, as well, accept credit card payments online, so if you prefer to pay your bills – including mortgage or rent – using your plastic money, you can do it.

Without a doubt, online bill payment is easier and quicker than check and snail-mail method. Essentially, it gets rid of issues involving procrastination. You do not need to worry about forgetting that your bills are way past their due date. You can arrange a monthly payment schedule via your bank or billing company and therefore, always pay on time. Even if you pay your bill online every month rather than do automatic payments, you can still save on time, stamps and disappointment. Granting you are paying online at the last minute, you still save precious time because online transactions are faster than processing mailed payments.

Once you are online, you could possibly face the risk of hacking, viruses and spyware (automated payments reduce these risks), but there is a considerable risk when it comes to mail theft. It is better to avoid mailing paper statements, personal information and checks. Moreover, when you make an online bill payment, you always have an option if ever there is a dispute because you can track records of paid amounts and pay dates.

Therefore, in contrast to the former belief of other people, online bill payment is a lot safer than snail mail, coming with additional protection whenever you pay your bills with a credit card.

 

Secret of Efficiency on Balance Sheet

Balance Sheet, which tells us about the financial position of a company, is one of the most significant financial statements for analyzing the solvency and liquidity position of any company. Often it has been noticed that in order to curtail costs of an organization, the main focus is on Income statement or profit and loss account, but in reality, a tight management of balance sheet results in surplus Cash and provides a good investment return to the shareholders. Inefficient balance Sheet management or Asset – Liability management often shows inefficiency and ineffectiveness on part of management. It shows that there is either over or underutilization of capital and unproductive fixed assets in the company which is resulting in tying up of capital in low-value projects. It might further reflect a poor liquidity position of the company and show that it does to have enough funds the meet its short-term liabilities. By managing the following key areas a company can liberate cash and put it in productive ventures.

1. Capital Structure-Capital Structure of a company shows the way finance has been raised in a company. A company can raise money through internal or external sources. A highly levered firm would reflect that the funds have been raised through external sources like loans, debentures, and it also suggests that the company has the capacity to take risks, aims at having a high growth and has more money for growth and expansion. On the other hand, a low-levered firm would the money invested by the shareholders in form of common equity, preferred stock and retained earnings for making investments in various assets and projects. Depending upon the company’s stage of development and nature of business,a right mix of internal and external sources should be there so that a company has a good solvency position and is able to meet its long-term obligations. Capital ratios such as Debt-Equity, Total Debt to Total Capitalization provide an insight into company’s capital position and further help in strengthening the balance sheet,.

2. Capital Deployment and Management-Often it has been seen that although the directors of the company are aware of the money raised but they are unsure of the places where the funds have been deployed which often lead to a decrease in economic profitability of resources. Tracing of capital to each department, unit or division helps the management to make sure that each penny is being utilized to the optimum and also helps in releasing of capital from the units where they have been over-allocated. Further, effective control measures of capital allocation can be implemented in the company to achieve a higher return on investment for the shareholders.

3. Fixed Assets Management– Resources of the company must be invested in those fixed assets, which are profitable and give return to the company in the future years. With the help of capital budgeting, a company can decide whether to make an investment in a particular asset or not.Some of the widely used capital budgeting techniques are Net Present Value, Internal rate of Return, Pay back method which help in evaluation of various long-term assets, and the cash flows that they will generate during their useful life. If a company has assets which are inefficient or on longer in use, steps should be taken to dispose of, so that the surplus cash from those assets can be used for productive purposes and value creation for the company.

4. Working Capital Management– Working Capital Management forms an integral part of a company as it ensures that a firm has enough current assets to meet its current liabilities. If a company has a high working capital it shows that there is an ineffective use of short-term assets, which might be used for some other purpose. And again, too low working capital results in a liquidity crunch and reflects the firm’s inability to pay off its short-term debts.

With the help of financial analysis, a company can maintain the right level of working capital and have good liquidity position. Current ratio, liquidity ratio are some of the tools which help the managers in knowing that the company’s current and liquid assets are used economically and they would have no problem paying their short-term liabilities.

Asset -Liability management has become an integral part of every company as it ensures freeing up of cash and using it productively to have higher returns. Proper management of working capital, right kind of financing mix, liberating cash from unproductive assets help companies in streamlining their balance sheet and redeploy the resources to generate higher returns and maximize shareholders wealth.

 

Things You Should Know About Fix Capital Investment

It can be quite daunting to decode the jargon of financing businesses. In most cases, because of the similarity in the objectives of the different financing solutions, many have a tendency to exchange one for the other.

To simplify these very technical terminologies, most especially when you just have ventured into business and you do not have enough knowledge about it, here are some useful information regarding a fixed capital investment, which is one of the relevant business solutions businesses, either big or small, can opt for.

Facts About Fixed Capital Investment

First, they are often used to launch or perform businesses. Over a long period of time or about 20 years, they depreciate on the accounting statements of the company.

Second, though these investments can depreciate over time, they won’t depreciate the same way. Be reminded that there are investments that lose their value faster than the others. The perfect examples of those that devalue fast are communications equipment or devices since there is a rapid turnover of technology for these. Another excellent example is the company vehicles. Within the year of purchase, the value of a brand new company vehicle can depreciate by as much as 40%.

Third, fixed capital investments won’t devalue rapidly. There are actually cases where it can even increase in value. Real estate properties like the company’s office buildings and land are among the examples.

Fourth, these will include the acquisition of tools and equipment required for daily operations, along with the real estate properties where the goods are to be produced and stored. Remember though that the materials used in the production of goods are not included due to the fact that these aren’t retained by the company.

Sixth, the amount of fixed capital will be different from one industry to another. There are enterprises that would require higher fixed capital investment than the others. These will include oil companies, telecommunications providers, and the engineering and manufacturing firms. On the other hand, businesses that will just require limited fixed capital are those that within the service industry. And these will include the law and accounting firms since they require more compact devices, tools and regular office appliances.

Lastly, getting fixed capital often takes a considerable amount of time. Thus, it is crucial to work with a reliable, competent financing institution that can efficiently minimize the risk of financial losses through a wide variety of proven methods.

 

Pros and Cons Between Bitcoin and Goldcoin

Bitcoin… Monetary Nirvana?

If you don’t know what Bitcoin is, do a bit of research on the internet, and you will get plenty… but the short story is that Bitcoin was created as a medium of exchange, without a central bank or bank of issue being involved. Furthermore, Bitcoin transactions are supposed to be private, that is anonymous. Most interestingly, Bitcoins have no real world existence; they exist only in computer software, as a kind of virtual reality.

The general idea is that Bitcoins are ‘mined’… interesting term here… by solving an increasingly difficult mathematical formula -more difficult as more Bitcoins are ‘mined’ into existence; again interesting- on a computer. Once created, the new Bitcoin is put into an electronic ‘wallet’. It is then possible to trade real goods or Fiat currency for Bitcoins… and vice versa. Furthermore, as there is no central issuer of Bitcoins, it is all highly distributed, thus resistant to being ‘managed’ by authority.

Naturally proponents of Bitcoin, those who benefit from the growth of Bitcoin, insist rather loudly that ‘for sure, Bitcoin is money’… and not only that, but ‘it is the best money ever, the money of the future’, etc… Well, the proponents of Fiat shout just as loudly that paper currency is money… and we all know that Fiat paper is not money by any means, as it lacks the most important attributes of real money. The question then is does Bitcoin even qualify as money… never mind it being the money of the future, or the best money ever.

To find out, let’s look at the attributes that define money, and see if Bitcoin qualifies. The three essential attributes of money are;

1) money is a stable store of value; the most essential attribute, as without stability of value the function of numeraire, or unit of measure of value, fails.

2) money is the numeraire, the unit of account.

3) money is a medium of exchange… but other things can also fulfill this function ie direct barter, the ‘netting out’ of goods exchanged. Also ‘trade goods’ (chits) that hold value temporarily; and finally exchange of mutual credit; ie netting out the value of promises fulfilled by exchanging bills or IOU’s.

Compared to Fiat, Bitcoin does not do too badly as a medium of exchange. Fiat is only accepted in the geographic domain of its issuer. Dollars are no good in Europe etc. Bitcoin is accepted internationally. On the other hand, very few retailers currently accept payment in Bitcoin. Unless the acceptance grows geometrically, Fiat wins… although at the cost of exchange between countries.

The first condition is a lot tougher; money must be a stable store of value… now Bitcoins have gone from a ‘value’ of $3.00 to around $1,000, in just a few years. This is about as far from being a ‘stable store of value’; as you can get! Indeed, such gains are a perfect example of a speculative boom… like Dutch tulip bulbs, or junior mining companies, or Nortel stocks.

Of course, Fiat fails here as well; for example, the US Dollar, the ‘main’ Fiat, has lost over 95% of its value in a few decades… neither fiat nor Bitcoin qualify in the most important measure of money; the capacity to store value and preserve value through time. Real money, that is Gold, has shown the ability to hold value not just for centuries, but for eons. Neither Fiat nor Bitcoin has this crucial capacity… both fail as money.

Finally, we come to the second attribute; that of being the numeraire. Now this is really interesting, and we can see why both Bitcoin and Fiat fail as money, by looking closely at the question of the ‘numeraire’. Numeraire refers to the use of money to not only store value, but to in a sense measure, or compare value. In Austrian economics, it is considered impossible to actually measure value; after all, value resides only in human consciousness… and how can anything in consciousness actually be measured? Nevertheless, through the principle of Mengerian market action, that is interaction between bid and offer, market prices can be established… if only momentarily… and this market price is expressed in terms of the numeraire, the most marketable good, that is money.

So how do we establish the value of Fiat… ? Through the concept of ‘purchasing power’… that is, the value of Fiat is determined by what it can be traded for… a so called ‘basket of goods’. But his clearly implies that Fiat has no value of its own, rather value flows from the value of the goods and services it may be traded for. Causality flows from the goods ‘bought’ to the Fiat number. After all, what difference is there between a one Dollar bill and a hundred Dollar bill, except the number printed on it… and the purchasing power of the number?

Gold, on the other hand, is not measured by what it trades for; rather, uniquely, it is measured by another physical standard; by its weight, or mass. A gram of Gold is a gram of gold, and an ounce of Gold is an ounce of Gold… no matter what number is engraved on its surface, ‘face value’ or otherwise. Causality is the opposite to that of Fiat; Gold is measured by weight, an intrinsic quality… not by purchasing power. Now, have you any idea of the value of an ounce of Dollars? No such thing. Fiat is only ‘measured’ by an ephemeral quantity… the number printed on it, the ‘face value’.

Bitcoin is farther away from being the numeraire; not only is it simply a number, much as Fiat… but its value is measured in Fiat! Even if Bitcoin becomes internationally accepted as a medium of exchange, and even if it manages to replace the Dollar as the accepted ‘numeraire’, it can never have an intrinsic measure like Gold has. Gold is unique in being measured by a true, unchanging physical quantity. Gold is unique in storing value for thousands of years. Nothing else in reach of humanity has this unique combination of qualities.

In conclusion, while Bitcoin has some advantages over Fiat, namely anonymity and decentralization, it fails in its claim to being money. Its advantages are also questionable; the intent is to limit the ‘mining’ of Bitcoins to 26,000,000 units; that is, the ‘mining’ algorithm gets harder and harder to solve, then impossible after the 26 million Bitcoins are mined. Unfortunately, this announcement could very well be the death knell of Bitcoin; already, some central banks have announced that Bitcoins may become a ‘reservable’ currency.

Wow, sounds like a major step for Bitcoin, does it not? After all, the ‘big banks’ seem to be accepting the true value of the Bitcoin, no? What this actually means is banks recognize that they could trade Fiat for Bitcoins… and to actually buy up the 26 million Bitcoins planned would cost a meagre 26 Billion Fiat Dollars. Twenty six billion Dollars is not even small change to the Fiat printers; it is about a week’s worth of printing by the US Fed alone. And, once the Bitcoins bought up and locked up in the Fed’s ‘wallet’… what useful purpose could they serve?

There would be no Bitcoins left in circulation; a perfect corner. If there are no Bitcoins in circulation, how on Earth could they be used as a medium of exchange? And, what could the issuers of Bitcoin possibly do to defend against such a fate? Change the algorithm and increase the 26 million to… 52 million? To 104 million? Join the Fiat printing parade? But then, by the quantity theory of money, Bitcoin would start to lose value, just as Fiat supposedly loses value through ‘over-printing’…

We come to the key issue; why search for a ‘new money’ when we already have the very best money, Gold? Fear of Gold confiscation? Lack of anonymity from an intrusive government? Brutal taxation? Fiat money legal tender laws? All of the above. The answer is not in a new form of money, but in a new social structure, one without Fiat, without Government spying, without drones and swat teams… without IRS, border guards, TSA thugs… on and on. A world of liberty not tyranny. Once this is accomplished, Gold will resume its ancient and vital role as honest money… and not a moment before.

 

All About Digital Currency

Would we be better off without paper money and coin? Some say yes, and some say no and the debate rages on. Government tax collectors would prefer only electronic or digital money – it’s easier to control and easier to keep taxpayers honest – but are those gains worth the drawbacks? I mean what’s wrong with cash – you can spend it anywhere, you can pay your babysitter, go to a garage sale, or stop at a lemonade stand – all of which are part of our underground economy by definition and harmless uses of transferring money.

Then there are the illegal things, no one uses digital money because it leaves a trace, so you cannot use it to buy things you are not allowed to buy or that someone else is not allowed to sell. Does it thus, make sense to get rid of the money that allows illegal transactions, shut down the entire underground economy and if we do, will our society and civilization be better or worse off for that solution? Let’s discuss this shall we?

Yes, a digital currency would be similar to regular currency and really we are almost there already anyway. If we go to “digital units” and change the paradigm to cover the needs of people who contribute who are not rewarded fairly now, then we will get more of what we reward, as is the famous axiom. A technocrat would enjoy this conversation and the thought of micro-managing the exact worth of every job, but technocrats are not so good at considering their own created unforeseen consequences as they pave the road to hell.

The reason humans use money now is simply because things and choices are more complicated than they were in the past when our species were only hunters, gatherers and traders. Let me explain; you see, if I make hammers and you need one, but you only have cattle, then you cannot cut off the tail of your cow to buy my hammer, so instead you give me $11 and you can sell your cow in the future for $1100 and give me the one-percent of it so you can build a new barn.

Money and currency is nothing more than units of trade thus, make things easier, that’s why it exists, but I do not like the bashing of currency, digital or otherwise, where many believe it is the root of all evil. I respectfully disagree. Please consider all this and think on it, as this topic does affect your life.

 

Tips To Choose Financial Planner

Unlike someone calling himself a CPA or a physician, just about anyone can call himself a “financial planner” or a “financial advisor” regardless of their educational background and professional experience. Moreover, not all of them are unbiased in their advice and not all of them always act in their clients’ best interests.

To ensure your financial planner is well-qualified in personal finances and impartial in his advice, consider the following five things:

1. Planning Credentials: Having a highly-regarded credential in financial planning, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), confirms that the professional you intend to work with has acquired the education and experience necessary to serve as a financial planner. CFP and PFS credentials are awarded to only those individuals who have met the certification requirements of education and experience in planning for personal finances. In addition, they have to pass the certification examinations and agree adhere to the practice standards and continuing education requirements.

2. Subject Matter Expertise: Financial planners are planning professionals, not necessarily subject matter experts. For example, a financial planner will be skilled in tax analysis and planning,but unlike a Certified Public Account (CPA) or an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) he might not necessarily be a subject matter expert when it comes to tax rules Similarly,a he could be skilled in chalking out an investment plan, but unlike a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) he may not be an authority in the subject of investments. Work with a financial planner who is also a subject matter expert in those areas of personal finance that are important in achieving your financial goals.

3. Client Specialization: Not all financial planners serve all types of clients. Most specialize in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles. For example, a personal planner may build his expertise and customize his services to serve only those individuals and families who are in certain professions, or a particular stage of life with specific financial goals and net worth. Ask whether the planner specializes in serving only certain types of clients with specific profiles to determine whether he is the right fit for your situation and financial goals.

4. Fee structure: The fee structure largely determines whose interests he serves best – his client’s or his own. A Fee-Only professional charges only fees for their advice whereas a Fee-Based professional not only charges fees but also earns commissions, referral fees and other financial incentives on the products and solutions they recommend for you. Consequently, the advice from a fee-only one is more likely to be unbiased and in your best interests than the advice from a fee-based financial planner. Work with a professional whose fee structure is conflict-free and aligned to benefit you.

5. Availability: He or she should be regularly available, attentive, and accessible to you. Ask the planner how many clients he currently serves and the maximum number of clients he is planning to serve in the future regularly. This clients-to-planner ratio is one of the key factors in assessing your planner’s availability to you in the future. Also, ask which planning activities are typically performed by the planner and which ones are delegated to a para planner or other junior staff members. Lastly, make sure the planner is easily accessible via phone and email during normal business hours.

Once you have shortlisted a few well-qualified and unbiased financial planners in your local area, consult the ones who offer a FREE initial consultation first. During the initial consultation, assess the planner’s availability and any other professional attributes you are seeking in your financial planner.

Having a well-qualified and unbiased financial planner by your side is extremely important in your journey towards your financial goals. When searching for one, consider the planner’s professional credentials, client specialization, subject matter expertise, fee structure, and availability to select the right financial planner for your needs.

 

Things You Should Know About Islamic Banking Methods

The origin of Islamic banking dates to the very beginning of Islam in the seventh century. The prophet Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a merchant, and he acted as an agent for her business, using many of the same principles used in contemporary Islamic banking. In the Middle Ages, trade and business activity in the Muslim world relied on Islamic banking principles, and these ideas spread throughout Spain, the Mediterranean and the Baltic States, arguably providing some of the basis for western banking principles. In the 1960s to the 1970s, Islamic banking resurfaced in the modern world.

This banking system is based on the principles of Islamic law, also referred to as Sharia law, and guided by Islamic economics. The two basic principles are the sharing of profit and loss and the prohibition of the collection and payment of interest by lenders and investors. Islamic banks neither charge nor pay interest in a conventional way where the payment of interest is set in advance and viewed as the predetermined price of credit or the reward for money deposited. Islamic law accepts the capital reward for loan providers only on a profit- and loss-sharing basis, working on the principle of variable return connected to the actual productivity and performances of the financed project and the real economy. Another important aspect is its entrepreneurial feature. The system is focused not only on financial expansion but also on physical expansion of economic production and services. In practice, there is a higher concentrated on investment activities such as equity financing, trade financing and real estate investments. Since this system of banking is grounded in Islamic principles, all the undertakings of the banks follow Islamic morals. Therefore, it could be said that financial transactions within Islamic banking are a culturally distinct form of ethical investing. For example, investments involving alcohol, gambling, pork, etc. are prohibited.

For the last four decades, the Islamic banking system has experienced a tremendous evolution from a small niche visible only in Islamic countries to a profitable, dynamic and resilient competitor at an international level. Their size around the world was estimated to be close to $850 billion at the end of 2008 and is expected to grow by around 15 percent annually. While system of banking remains the main component of the Islamic financial system, the other elements, such as Takaful (Islamic insurance companies), mutual funds and Sukuk (Islamic bonds and financial certificates), have witnessed strong global growth, too. Per a reliable estimate, the Islamic financial industry now amounts to over $1 trillion. Moreover, the opportunity for growth in this sector is considerable. It is estimated that the system could double in size within a decade if the past performances are continued in the future.

 

How To Improve Your Financial

There is no way to avoid dealing with money and finances these days. Therefore you should try to learn as much as possible to help you make good financial decisions and to increase your confidence about money.

When you make a budget, it should be realistic regarding your income and spending habits. Be sure to include all of your income such as alimony, child support, rental income, or any other. Always use your net income not your gross earnings in these calculations. Once you have the numbers, you can consider how to adjust your spending to stay within your income range. To maintain your budget never exceed your incoming cash flow.

The next step is to total up your expenses, and you should make a list of all monthly expenses. Your list should document each and every expense that you have whether it expense, spontaneous or just a one time expense. Remember that this list needs to have a complete breakdown of your costs. Be sure to add in expenses that you have from restaurant dinners and fast food as well as grocery bills. Reduce expenses linked to your cars, such as gas and insurance. If you have payments that you make quarterly or less frequently, divide them up to reflect a monthly payment. Make sure you include incidental expenses, for instance, baby sitters or storage unit rentals. Try to have the most accurate list possible.

Now that you have a good idea of your income and expenditures, you can start planning a new budget. Look at each expenditure on your list, and decide what you could do without. If you normally buy coffee from a cafe, calculate how much money you would save on a weekly basis if you bought it from McDonald’s instead, or made it at home. Exactly what and how much you are willing to compromise is completely up to you. The first step is identifying expenses that are not necessary so you can use the money for something else.

If your utility bills are rising, you may want to upgrade your appliances to save some money. Upgrading to well-fitted double-glazed windows, for example, can reduce your heating bill dramatically. Besides you can repair any leaky pipes and only run the dishwasher with a full load.

Swap old, inefficient appliances for those that use less energy. Although doing so may cost you some money upfront, over the long-term you will save a fair penny on your utility bills. Unplug the appliances you do not need. In time you will notice significant savings in your energy consumption.

You can make a significant decrease in your heating and cooling bills by improving your insulation, as well as the roof above it. Insulation or roofing issues can be very costly, as maintaining a regular temperature in the home can be expensive. If you invest in the upgrades, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Using these tips not only saves you money, but it also helps you start bringing your budget under control. An expensive upgrade can save a lot of money in lowering electricity or water bills. This is one way that you can make your budget more reliable.

 

The Investable US Commercial Property vs other asset classes.

With the world still coming to terms with a major reformulation of the political order in Europe, and preparing for what promise to be unpredictable electoral contests in Germany and the US – investors currently face an uncertain world. Increasingly frequent terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere are fuelling a rise in right-wing populism and protectionism that threatens to destabilise the global economic order.

The confirmation of real estate mogul Donald Trump as candidate for the Republican Party in the US is a case in point, with Trump threatening to pull the US out of the World Trade Organisation in order to protect jobs in the US from the forces of globalisation.

In Europe also, protectionist instincts will need to challenged as new trading arrangements are determined with the UK and negotiations continue around the troubled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US.

The picture is not clear then, and there are many moving parts which look set to disrupt markets over the medium term. So where should investors looking to hedge against current uncertainty turn?

Building confidence

While there is much uncertainty, and while stock markets globally took a hit following Brexit and are watching developments nervously, recent data from leading investment house MSCI could give pause for thought for those who think the days of double-digit returns are over.

A report issued by MSCI in February revealed that US commercial property funds in 2015 grew a staggering 15.6% according to the PREA/IPD US Quarterly Property Fund Index1. Even more remarkably, investments in US commercial property have seen a cumulative return of 129% over the past six years.

In fact, US commercial property has outperformed other asset classes, including US bonds (up 4.39% over the period 2011 to 2015), stocks (up 13.45%), corporate bonds (up 4.72%) and commodities (down 10.93%)2.

Simon Fairchild, an Executive Director at MSCI puts it like this;

“U.S. real estate open-end funds have produced double-digit returns for six straight years. This period encompasses the remarkable recovery from the doldrums of 2008/2009.”

But Brexit happened, a Trump Presidency looks far less unlikely than it did at the beginning of the year and growth continues to slow in China – surely these themes will change the dynamic? A key skill for any investor is being able to recognise opportunity – even in times of uncertainty. Market watchers should note of recent announcements from Juwai – China’s biggest international property portal – which is reporting interest in UK property having climbed 40% since the Brexit vote.

So, what is driving growth and interest, even against a backdrop of such uncertainty?

Market fundamentals

While uncertainty abounds, savvy investors realise that market fundamentals don’t change on the back of a single political development. And as in the UK, the fundamental forces at work in the US’ commercial property market create a sound environment for investors.

Global pressures and uncertainty are likely to keep interest rates in the US low over the medium term, ensuring a steady flow of foreign money into the US economy. This in turn will continue to drive demand, and ensure good returns for those willing to invest in supplying this dynamic.

One opportunity to do so are the investments from the Rycal Group, offering entry to the Carlton James Group who have an investment portfolio focused on the hospitality sector in the US. Carlton James been investing in this market for a while now, delivering returns averaging 17% for the last five years. With a strategy based upon wide-ranging geographical intelligence, Carlton James look also for additional Revenue Generators – for example taking into account a development’s proximity to highways, malls and economic infrastructure – as well as local economics.

Simon Calton, CEO of the Carlton James Sky Watch Inn Group and Rycal Group, says: “Geopolitical upheaval and changes of government have an immediate impact on share prices and investor confidence and can lead to rapid and unnerving market fluctuations. We saw this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and we should expect more as November’s Presidential elections in the US draw nearer.

“What we have also seen in the subsequent weeks however, is these fluctuations correcting themselves as they adapt to the new reality. The lesson is that investors should keep an eye on the longer-term, and the market fundamentals.

“The US economy remains buoyant and, with the world unsure as to the status of relations between the UK and the EU, is likely to benefit from investors looking for a greater degree of certainty than is currently available in Europe.

“Rycal have a strong track record of making our investments work by developing detailed exit strategies, a diverse portfolio of properties and deep investment intelligence, and we expect Carlton James to be a real source of growth over coming years.”