Pricing Power and Inflation

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Investors typically seek to build portfolios that focus on companies with pricing power.  Without that, as costs increase, margins can be squeezed.  Currently, we seem to be in a period of rising costs, particularly for labor and certain commodities.  Companies are likely to look first to productivity gains and raw material substitution, but, sooner or … Continued

Cynicism

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Wikipedia defines cynicism as an attitude characterized by a general distrust of other’s motives.  Investors would be well served by maintaining a healthy level of skepticism regarding other’s motives when evaluating projections and other factors surrounding an investment decision.  Think Theranos. Consider the recurring attacks on the safety of cruising.  Now the CDC says don’t … Continued

Natural Gas and Inflation

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Natural gas is an important raw material in a wide range of economic activities, including heating, electric power generation, plastics, manufacturing processes and agriculture.  For example, fertilizer prices, responding to significant cost increases for key chemical ingredients such as natural gas, have more than doubled over the last year.  This can have a two pronged … Continued

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

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This idiom is often associated with damaging or impeding one’s own plans, progress, actions or best interests through foolish actions or words.  Germany may be exhibit A.  It would seem that a major developed country facing a generational energy crunch would be trying everything possible to expand supply while doing as little environmental damage as … Continued

All the News That’s Fit To Print

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Years ago the print media was proud of its record of providing a thorough and accurate portrayal of current events.  Agitators with an agenda were referred to as “yellow journalists”.  Today we have a highly polarized electorate, catered to by an equally polarized media, which no longer believes in “all the news that’s fit to … Continued

Supply Chain Peril

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Supply chain problems have been well publicized and attributed to a variety of causes.  One of the key problems, congestion at West coast docks, could get a lot worse this summer.  The more optimistic among us have suggested that some relief could begin by next spring.  Let’s hope. Investors should recognize that the private companies … Continued

Definite Maybe

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The Cambridge English Dictionary defines definite maybe as something that you think you might do, but are not certain about.  This may be an apt take away from the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit.  All of the world’s leaders, except two of the most important, who couldn’t bother to even come, made all sorts of declarations … Continued

Green Guidance

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We have previously discussed the issue of definition for funds purporting to offer an emphasis on investments in green strategies.  See our blog of October 1, 2021 titled “How Green is Green”, in which we highlight the question of defining “green”. Now a research group, The Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), backed by some of the … Continued

Fighting the Last War

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An old and partially true saying suggests that generals tend to prepare to fight the last war.  This also often applies to investment recommendations for the new year.  Financial services marketers will be highlighting what worked in 2021, brag about their successes and promote more of the same for 2022.  We aren’t going to make … Continued

How Secure is Your Pension?

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The answer to that question may rest on whether your pension is paid by a public or private pension fund.  Pension funds pay benefits to retirees through a combination of investment gains, and contributions from employers and workers.  For private pension funds, shortfalls in investment returns are typically made up through increased contributions from employers.  … Continued

Psychic Income and Job Satisfaction

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Merriam-Webster defines psychic income as 1) imputed income and 2) rewards, such as prestige, leisure, or pleasant surroundings, for example, not measurable in terms of money or goods, but serving as an incentive to work. Currently, workforce participation remains near record lows at 61.6% compared to a more normal rate of 63-4%.  There are a … Continued

The Importance of Planning

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It is becoming clear that the world is facing a significant shortage of electricity.  In order to meet demand, there has been a resurgence in the use of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) accompanied by price increases.  Despite significant efforts to shift to renewable energy sources, there is a widening time gap between … Continued