Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The World with its erupting boils, the blithe spirit of the stock market (and a couple of pictures)

I'm writing these posts less frequently. Probably because it's summer time and in theory less is happening. In fact there a lot is going on.

The World with its erupting boils

The world is in turmoil. A million refugees have found themselves displaced by the Ukrainian conflict. Hard to say what is actually happening because of disinformation being generated by both sides. I said, at the time of the Russian annexation of Crimea, that I thought that Putin is testing the resolve of his opponents to see how far West he can push the frontier of his sphere of influence. Nothing has happened to change my view. Putin has found that his enemy is irresolute and it looks as though he will be able to push forward to capture the Eastern portion of Ukraine. He'll then be able to move on to test other weak spots that were formally parts of the Soviet Union.

The crisis in the Middle East is more frightening. Bush and Blair created an crack in the fabric of the area and militant Islamists are taking full advantage of the vacuum that has been created. It is sad but true that only in Egypt, where the old military dictatorship has been revived, that an effective counterattack has emerged. The vicious Assad regime is fighting back in Syria but it lacks friends and the West has supported rebel groups allowing Islamists to take the initiative. Similar slippage has occurred in Libya which now seems to be sliding into anarchy. The government of what remains of Iraq is struggling and an alliance between its Shia majority and Iran seems to me to be a likely outcome. Iraq's moderate Sunnis are trapped between a rock (the Shia majority) and the hard place (Islamist Sunni insurgents). So far the problems have been confined to the area but it is only a matter of time before they spill out to affect the rest of the world.

Blithe markets

And through all of this the world's stock markets, buoyed by a continuing flow of almost free cash provided by central banks, push on regardless. Only today the FTSE made a new high for this cycle. The S& P continues higher and higher. Only sensible strategy: make hay while the sun shines.

But I wonder what it is that Western governments know about the underlying realities of their economies that makes them feel the need to go on providing the crutch of QE.

My portfolio

It is my UK portfolio  that has done best. Just look at the table below. It shows how much my selections have moved since I bought them, or since April 6 (for those I have been holding for longer). GVC has also had thrown in 4.7% worth of dividend. I sold OMI for a small loss but overall I am more than happy with my little band of companies.

21-Nov PLE -8.2%
05-Dec GVC 15.9%
01-Jul EXI 2.3%
01-Jul WIN 0.8%
01-Jul BRIT 4.1%
01-Jul CAML 3.8%
11-Jul GEMD 21.4%
22-Jul RNWH 24.0%
05-Aug PUR -10.1%
11-Aug NFC 8.7%
11-Aug AMER 0.8%
28-Aug CRPR 3.8%


My US/China portfolio is not doing so well. It has had  dodgy patch which came to an end yesterday. That said it is up over 2% in a month. The recovery of the Chinese market has probably contributed. You may remember that I bought just as China spiked. My shares managed to make gains as the market retreated but then there was a pull back.

What I found in San Fransisco

I have been sorting through my photos of a trip to California we took a couple of years ago Among them are some pictures of the fabulous murals, some professional, starting with those created by Diego Rivera in the 1930s and continuing to the radical productions of anonymous artists working today. 

I plan to share some of these with you over the next few posts. Today I have one by Rivera and another that celebrates the beginning of that sadly misnamed phenomenon: The Arab Spring. I hope you enjoy the pictures. 

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