Monday 2 August 2010

The British Pound is undervalued

Given the current state of the UK economy today’s post title might be seen as pretty reckless however I’m not so sure. I’m not talking short term trader talk here rather I’m sitting here writing this post thinking as a long term investor. This thought has come about after MoneyWeek referred to the Big Mac Index which is an informal way to determine whether a currency is over or under valued based on purchasing power parity. The theory is that the same item should cost roughly the same anywhere in the world. In my opinion this theory is probably a little naive as the Big Mac Index is based on a price which is what the product is sold for. A price is of course the cost of producing the product plus any profit and I know from companies I have worked for that price is not correlated in any way to cost in different countries where products were sold. That is profits in absolute or percentage terms for an identical product can be very different in different parts of the world. If McDonalds has the same pricing policy then this could skew the index. I guess with some time one could also pull together a Starbucks Index, an Apple iPhone Index or even a Samsung 32” LCD TV index.

Saturday 31 July 2010

Where is the summer rush – UK property market – July 2010 Update

It’s at this time of year that I thought it was a tradition for the British people to head out to the Real Estate Agents and start bidding up the prices of already over priced housing. This summer though it’s starting to look like that might not happen. Even the new coalition government don’t seem keen to ramp up property and property prices. Of course they are acknowledging that the country no longer has any money however the previous government seemed to always find some way to ramp prices and keep the plates balanced and spinning. This month has seen both prices and mortgage approvals turn down. Who knows if this continues for a couple of years maybe we might even get to the point where instead of the government forcing builders to build “affordable housing” (or as I have eloquently seen these properties referred to elsewhere, slave boxes) instead maybe we might just get housing that is affordable. What a novel idea.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Government supports the banks ripping off the average saver – NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates suspended

I’m sure by now that most readers will be aware that this week National Savings & Investments closed for sale its RPI+1% index linked savings certificates (ILSC’s). If they stay closed for a long time or even reopen in a few months linked to the CPI instead of RPI its going to give me and I’m assuming many others a few problems. My retirement investing strategy uses NS&I ILSC’s extensively. I currently have 20.7% of my net worth ties up in them.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Positive real savings rates are impossible to find - Average UK savings interest rates – July 2010 Update

If you’re a UK saver it remains pretty ugly out there. According to Money saving Expert the top clean rate account pays 2.6% AER however it allows only one penalty free withdrawal a year. That doesn’t sound overly clean to me. If you want unlimited access then you’re looking at 2.5%. With the RPI at 5.0% today, every month you hold your money in one of these accounts you are seeing its purchasing ability eroded.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

The Real Pay Cuts Begin – Average UK Earnings – July 2010 Update

My first chart today shows that as of April 2010 the non seasonally adjusted average earnings index (LNMM) year on year rising by 0.5% and the seasonally adjusted average earnings index (LNMQ) rising by 1.9%. This all sounds great until you look at the inflation figure also shown on the chart which in April 2010 was year on year increasing at 5.3% and today is still increasing at 5.0%.