By their works . . .

The November bounce in markets was a bit of an illusion, as interest rates may no longer matter, but foreign exchange still does. Inflation in commodities is probably sorted.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt tinkers.


The dramatic November rally, only looks that way if you are a dollar investor and for some weird reason the archaic Gregorian calendar matters to you. Sticking with the even older Julian one would have made October's performance much better and leave us ten days more of November to enjoy. Plus, lots more shopping days to Christmas.

While it was great for the big US indices, almost (but not quite) hitting the year's highs, in the UK, it was rather less so; the FTSE hit 8,000 in March and has slid down since, back to pre-COVID levels around 7,500.

The November US rally was also dented for sterling investors by a dramatic 4% slide in the dollar.

So, while it feels attractive, the fascination with the first rate cut date is pretty spurious. That is not the market driver. Markets have so far given us nothing this year for avoiding a global recession and seeing the last rate hike of the current cycle.

Surely that is worth something?


In a like fashion long dated bonds are giving us very little for having nailed inflation, and having (at least in the US) a credible inflation fighting stance again. So those, if you trust the US Government's credit, are not looking bad. This patch of inflation may have stretched the meaning of transitory, but it clearly remains just that, not a 30-year phenomenon.

Instead we see the recent fall in yields as being more driven by relief that rates have topped, and a desire to lock in nice returns in the global reserve currency, attributes which seem likely to overwhelm domestic US worries about high levels of issuance.


Commodities are where economics in the raw is most visible, especially soft commodities. High prices will always bring in marginal land, and there is no shortage of land on the planet. It may take a planting cycle or two, but food inflation always was transitory. Corn is now below pre COVID prices, let alone pre-Ukraine.

We believe the same is true for energy, for two long standing reasons: the first is that sanctions don't work, certainly not against enormous blocks like China and Russia. The second is that high prices create supply and in a highly tradeable commodity, they do so quite fast.

So, the idea of shutting in energy to manipulate the market price, is in the end self-defeating. It has to be. So however much the anti-carbon lobby and OPEC desire high prices, they are not sustainable. Indeed, it feels as likely that we get one of those crushing late spring drops in prices designed to flush out over-geared operators. That weapon works best, when interest rates are high and storage tanks are full. So why not use it?  I remain far more nervous about the oil patch than most, it has yet to see the post COVID, overstocking crisis, that has rippled through so many sectors. Held off by the Ukraine war, oversupply is still around.

The World Bank October commodities forecast base case is for continuing declines.

Here is the full report

Look at Healthcare stocks, still suffering from the COVID bubble deflating, despite new wonder drugs.

A stock like Worldwide Healthcare Trust, peaked in summer 2021 and has then slid remorselessly lower.


Well, why bother, his tax give back is rightly mocked as trivial. His vague attempts to get welfare under control are painted as draconian, when they are anything but. While his games around a set of unrealistic self-defeating assumptions that he gives the OBR to produce nonsense projections in return are just absurd.

Full expensing for corporation tax is clever in only one sense, it is certainly not a tax cut, whatever he says, it is just bringing forward deductibility from after the next election, so off his watch. It is not changing what is deductible at all, and there will be loads of complex rules against deductions still, as ever.

While to most sensible cap ex modelling, the tax treatment remains damaged by last year's massive corporation tax hike. The long-term tax profile simply does not change, so it does not encourage investment, whatever he claims.

Oddly the real tidying up, as ever, is handled by Gove, quietly putting in place critical and very welcome new political funding measures, which reverse some of the long slide into democratic absurdity inflicted by inflation.

And he pops up in odd places as the fixer still, like Dublin trying to get the Ulster Assembly back in action - a vital if unpleasant piece of plumbing too.

Those are late but worthy actions, as a career ends.

The efforts on investments, while welcome and overdue are still tinkering, and the games with ISAs are as boring as ones with capital allowances. We see no real effort to simplify matters for domestic investors. The joke slashing of capital gains allowances (far from indexing or freezing they are still going down) shows a profound dislike of investors and investment.

Instead, a we get a work round to help UK investors buy fractions of Nvidia, - really?


Charles Gillams