Behind the Turkish Meltdown

 

 


August, 2018

 

What the heck is going on in Turkey?  Whatever it is, it’s having a visible effect on the markets.  After the Turkish stock market index fell more than 24% since the start of August, Eurozone bank stocks fell 24% and emerging markets stocks overall (a category which includes Turkish stocks) dropped 9.9% for the year.  A number of non-major currencies, including the South African Rand, Argentine peso, Russian ruble, Hungarian forint, Polish zloty, Brazilian real and Mexican peso were also down sharply, as was one major currency: the euro.  (See chart).  

The crisis was triggered when Turkish officials detained, and ultimately imprisoned, an American evangelical pastor named Andrew Brunson, accusing him of being a spy who was attempting to overthrow the Turkish government.  Before being detained, Brunson had been working as a pastor at the Izmir Resurrection Church, as a 23-year resident of the country.  His trial is set for October. 

American diplomats have been pushing for Brunson’s release, saying that he is basically on trial for his faith, not for any nefarious spying activities.  When the negotiations failed, the Trump Administration surprised Turkey and the rest of the world by imposing economic sanctions against what most would consider to be an allied government—a fellow NATO member whose Incirlik air base was a crucial staging ground for the air war against the Islamic state. 

The sanctions were clearly the trigger event for the collapse of Turkish stocks and the Turkish lira, but some analysts say the country was long overdue for some kind of negative event in the Turkish economy for some time.  In recent years, Turkey has been compared to Greece for having amassed one of the largest foreign debts in the world, as its banks and large companies have borrowed heavily to maintain activity in the economy.  Foreign investment has dramatically slowed, in part because the country’s authoritarian government seems often inclined to meddle in monetary decisions.  Those concerns were not exactly allayed when, in response to the crisis, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan squeezed central bank liquidity and doubled the interest rate cost in his country, in a single day, and then, by fiat, changed the rules so that speculators were no longer allowed to sell their for dollars or euros in what are known as currency swaps.  Banks were forced to stop lending lira or renew any existing contracts. 

In addition, Erdogan lashed out by doubling Turkish import tariffs on passenger cars to 120% of their value, plus a 140% tariff on alcoholic drinks, and significant tariffs on tobacco, cosmetics, rice and even coal.  In a subsequent speech, the Turkish president called for a citizen boycott of U.S. electronic products, including the iPhone. 

Is there any way out of this mess?  It seems clear that the Turkish government is backed into a corner, not wanting to look foolish or weak by releasing its American pastor.  They surely know that if or when they do, President Trump will do a very public, and humiliating, victory dance on the world stage.  We may see some kind of quiet prisoner swap involving persons detained by the Israelis, but that could be months or years down the road.   

In the meantime, the Turkish lira stopped its precipitous slide only when the oil-rich nation of Qatar stepped in to offer financial assistance in the form of a $15 billion loan.  This mess is going to blow over, but not without a few more scary headlines to come. 

Sincerely, 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President  

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-markets-contagion/turkey-tantrum-investors-fret-over-contagion-from-lira-plunge-idUSKBN1L00YJ 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/01/world/europe/us-sanctions-turkey-pastor.html 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/29/politics/andrew-brunson-pastor-turkey-detained/index.html 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-usa-tariffs/turkey-doubles-tariffs-on-some-u-s-imports-lira-rallies-idUSKBN1L00BI 

https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2018/aug/15/turkish-lira-crisis-turkey-raises-tariffs-on-us-goods-business-erdogan-markets-live 

https://www.ft.com/content/15c9909a-a089-11e8-85da-eeb7a9ce36e4


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The Growth Spike

 

The Growth Spike

 

August, 2018

 

Recent reports about the U.S. economy were a case of good news and bad news.  The good news is that, in the second three months of the year, the U.S. economy grew at an estimated 4.1%—better than the 2.2% growth posted during 2018’s first quarter.  The 4.1% figure is subject to revision as economists refine the numbers, but a 4% growth rate, if sustained through a period of years, would greatly bolster the wealth of all Americans. 

The bad news is that the economy will almost certainly not sustain this growth rate.  And despite what you are hearing from political pundits, there is also nothing remarkable about a single quarter’s 4.1% GDP increase.  As you can see from the chart, what has been labeled “historic” is actually pretty ordinary over the long term.  The economy exceeded last quarter’s level four times during the Obama presidency, in 2009, 2011 and twice in 2014.  4.1% growth would have been considered alarmingly slow during the Reagan presidency. 

Why can’t we sustain even this ordinary level of GDP growth?  Economists have noted that this spike in economic activity was not entirely unexpected, and is the result of a number of one-off events.  You might remember that Congress passed a significant corporate tax cut last. year, which kicks in at an unusual time: toward the end of a very long economic expansion, with consistently falling unemployment and rising home values.  The U.S. economy just entered its tenth consecutive year of growth.  Typically Congress will pass a stimulus package to bail the country out of recession.  One economist described the second quarter as an economy on a “sugar high.”  If you have ever had small children, you know how those often end. 

In addition, the quarter was aided (predictably) by foreign companies stockpiling U.S. goods before the threatened tariffs disrupt the flow of products across borders—temporarily boosting U.S. exports. 

Long-term, the GDP of any country is determined by the growth in the number of workers and the rising productivity of those workers as they labor at their desks and on the factory floor.  Neither of those factors are growing at anywhere near a 4% rate currently, which suggests that next quarter will see a return to the average 2-2.5% rate that we’ve experienced since 2009.  That, in turn, may explain why the U.S. stock indices actually fell on the day of the “historic” GDP announcement.  Savvy investors know better than to project one quarter’s results forward indefinitely into the future. 

Enjoy the rest of summer!

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/ap-fact-check-trump-falsely-044729698.html 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-gdp-growth-touted-as-historic-by-trump-is-totally-standard/ 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/27/us-gdp-q2-2018.html

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.


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Child Identity Theft Continues to Grow: What to do


 


June 6, 2018
 
More than one million children in the U.S. suffered identity theft in 2017 according to the 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, completed by Javelin Strategy and Research. The report found that data breaches in particular tend to be very dangerous for children. Thirty-nine percent of children who had their information exposed in a breach became identity theft victims. In comparison, 19% of adults who had their data stolen faced the same fate.
 
Children are targets for identity theft because they offer clean credit reports. Since they likely have had no credit in the past, it is easy for thieves to get approved credit in the child’s name. More than half of the children surveyed in Javelin’s study knew the person who had stolen their identity. Only 7% of adult victims could say the same.
 
And child identity theft is costly. Javelin’s report found that child identity theft caused $2.6 billion in total losses and cost victims’ families $540 million in out-of-pocket costs to help remedy the theft. But the costs don’t stop there—child identity theft victims often have to dispute the fraudulent accounts and ruined credit for the rest of their lives. Many do not even realize that they have been victims until they go to rent their first apartment or buy their first car and are told that their credit is bad.
 
What to do
 
Unfortunately, child identity theft can be difficult to prevent. The first step parents or guardian must take is to determine whether your child currently has a credit report. This can be done by sending letters to the big three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The letters should request that the agency do a manual search of your child’s Social Security number. The letter should contain a copy of the parent/guardian’s government issued ID, proof of parent/guardian’s address, a copy of child’s Social Security card, and a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
 
If the credit bureaus come back with reports in your child’s name with accounts you did not set up, it is likely that your child is an identity theft victim. In that case, you should immediately contact the bureaus and ask them to freeze your child’s credit and then work to close the fraudulent accounts.
 
If the credit bureaus come back with no report found, your child is safe for now. If you live in one of the 29 states that allow it, you should contact the bureaus again and ask them to open a credit report in your child’s name and then freeze it. Unfortunately, there is no nation-wide law that allows this (although it has been proposed in the House of Representatives). You can check your state’s laws here. If your state is not on the list, you should reach out to your representatives.
 
You should also take this time to talk to your children about identity theft and how to protect their information online. The earlier they begin understanding their online privacy, the better. Help them create strong passwords and talk to them about what information they should never share online.
 
Emerging threat: Your current credit freeze won’t stop this growing fraud
 
Have you frozen your credit? There may be one more thing you need to do. The Identity Fraud Institute has received multiple reports of people having fraudulent cell phone accounts opened in their names even after freezing their credit at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. How? The director of the Identity Fraud Institute, Carrie Kerskie discovered that mobile phone companies were not using any of the big three credit bureaus when new account applications came in. Instead, they checked applicant’s credit using the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE).
 
The NCTUE was founded by AT&T and maintains payment and account information reported by telecommunications companies. You can check your records at the NCTUE by calling (866) 349-5185. You can also freeze your file by calling this number or you can do it online. Security expert Brian Krebs, however, attempted to place the freeze online with no success.
 
The Equifax breach continues to get worse—driver’s licenses, passports, and other ID cards were also compromised. This month Equifax submitted official documentation tor the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing exactly what was exposed in its 2017 breach. Equifax originally reported that the breach exposed Social Security numbers and dates of birth of 143 million US consumers and the driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers of some people. The new documentation indicates that much more information was exposed. Over 17 million people had their driver’s license numbers exposed, over one million had email address shared, and thousands had personal identity documents stolen, such as passports and state IDs that were uploaded to Equifax. You can see the entire list here.
 
New scams targeting seniors are on the rise. The first scam mimics local phone numbers and calls unsuspecting seniors pretending to be from the county clerk office. They tell the victim that they missed jury duty or that they were involved in a court case and are being fined. In the second scam, a call comes in pretending to be from the local police in regards to unpaid parking tickets. Again, they ask for payment now. Read this story for some more information on how you can help protect the seniors in your life from these scams.
 
Stay alert and have a safe and happy summer!
 
Sincerely,
 
Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President  
 
Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA
Founder & CEO
 
 
 
 
Source: Horsesmouth: Savvy Cybersecurity
 

 

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Crytpo-Crash

 

April, 2018

 

Last year, it was hard to turn on your computer without reading about the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency values, or see advertisements for ways that you, too, could participate in this get-rich-quick opportunity to buy virtual money that is backed by no government on Earth. 

 

It’s almost always the case that when an investment becomes wildly popular and experiences a dramatic runup in price, that is exactly the wrong time to invest.  And it turns out that cryptocurrencies were no exception.

 

While the stock markets were dropping moderately in value, cryptocurrencies lost their owners an estimated $60 billion in the last week of March, including a $20 billion drop over one dramatic six-hour period.  Bitcoins are trading below $7,000, and the trend is taking them toward their February 6 low—and, perhaps, further.  In case you’re not up on other cryptocurrencies, there’s something called Ether (now $381 per coin); Bitcoin cash ($691.48); Litecoin ($116.27) and Ripple (49 cents). 

 

The problem, as always, is figuring out whether these alternative currencies are actual investments.  For now, there are very few stores which accept them as actual money.   Bitcoin’s primary purpose in the marketplace has famously been to enable drug and weapons traffickers to buy and sell without leaving a paper trail for international police agencies to follow. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA President 

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO 

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Source: 

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/cryptocurrency-market-sheds-a-further-20-billion-in-total-value-overnight-2018-03-30

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Another Tariff, Another Downturn

 

March 28, 2018

 

Last weeks, stocks went on sale again, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of bargain hunters stepping in to take advantage.  The S&P 500 dropped 5.9% over five days, its worst week since January 2016.

 

This follows a by-now-familiar pattern: the Trump Administration announces tariffs—this time on Chinese imports with an estimated value of $60 billion a year—but is not specific on the details.  Traders fear that there will be retaliation against American products sold abroad, and put a lower value on the large multinational companies that account for most exports and make up most of the major indexes.

 

The last time this happened, the tariffs involved steel and aluminum, and the panicked sellers  later discovered that the impact on global trade was actually quite small, due to negotiated exemptions for major steel producing nations like Canada and South Korea—plus the Eurozone and Mexico.  This time around, the U.S. trade representative has 15 days to develop a list of specific Chinese products to slap the additional taxes onto, and there will be a public comment period before the threatened tariffs go into effect.  China has announced that it is developing its own list, and as companies (and farmers) become aware of what is included in its reported $3 billion tariff package, they will lobby for exemptions which may turn this announcement into another tempest in a teapot.

 

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica (no relation to Cambridge Investment Research) scandal, admissions that private information on 50 million people had been pilfered, and up to 126 million Americans had seen posts by a Russian troll farm on its site, Facebook shares fell almost 10%, from 176.83 down to 159.39.  This took the social media giant down from the 5th largest-capitalization company in the S&P 500 index to the 6th (behind Berkshire Hathaway)—dragging the index down even further.

 

What’s remarkable about the selloff over things that might or might not happen is that it came amid some very good news about the U.S. economy.  Durable-goods orders jumped 3.1% in February, sales of newly-constructed homes were solid, and Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic announced that there were “upside risks” in GDP and employment.  Translated, that means that the economy is looking too good to keep interest rates as low as they have been, which means this is a curious time to be selling out and heading for the investment sidelines.

 

Sincerely,

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA
President 

 

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA

Founder & CEO

 

 

This material was prepared by BobVeres.com., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/03/23/8750/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-the-stock-market-took-the-china-tariffs-so-hard-2018-03-22

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/03/22/stock-market-falls/448665002/

http://www.symbolsurfing.com/largest-companies-by-market-capitalization


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Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd.
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Phone: 215-340-5777
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Email: Info@KohlheppAdvisors.com

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd., a Registered Investment Advisor. Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd. and Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc. are not affiliated.


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