From CNBC.com, couldn’t but re-post
The world is a big place – there are over 190 countries and 7 billion people in the world, which really boggles the mind if you sit down and think about it. In addition to being an interesting intellectual exercise, this fact can also have broad implications for your investments and your financial future. It is easy to stay focused on U.S. firms, news, and events during the day-to-day grind, but it is always important to be aware of your surroundings – especially when it comes to your investments. With that in mind, this series of articles will focus on countries and investment opportunities outside the United States that you might not usually hear about.
As always, be sure to consult a financial services professional familiar with both the potential investment and your unique financial situation before embarking on any investment program.
A nation that has long straddled the divide between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, Poland has numerous attributes and features that might make it an attractive addition to an international investor’s portfolio. While much of Europe has struggled mightily with the European sovereign debt crisis, the Polish economy has managed to survive the debt crisis with much less damage than many other economies. The economy is the 6th largest in the E.U., and has historically been one of the fastest growing.
Several attributes that might make the Polish economy an attractive option to add to your portfolio include infrastructure, demographics, and location. Headed by an accommodative government that is pro-U.S., pro E.U., and pro-economic development, the regulatory structure, while not yet perfect, is vastly improved. Incentives and tax credits incentivize firms to invest in both infrastructure and business development, and access to the entire E.U. market provides Polish manufacturers and service firms with an enormous market. Partnerships with some of the largest oil & gas conglomerates, and a population nearing 80 million, round out some of the highlights with regards to economic attractiveness.
When looking at investing in Poland, there are two primary ways to go about it – ADRs or direct purchases. An ADR is basically a certificate held by a U.S. banking institution that represents a certain number of shares in the foreign company and is held by the U.S. institution. This helps to cut down on the administrative fees and other costs that would otherwise be incurred. For more direct exposure, you can also purchase shares directly from Polish stock exchanges if your broker offers those services to its retail investor base (you and me).
Some of the most liquid and well-known investment options available via ADR are Asseco Poland (software & computing services), Bank Zachodni (banksing), Boryszew (Chemicals), BRE bank (financial services), and Echo Investment (real estate services). Two ETF options that are heavily weighted toward the Polish economy are the iShares MSCI Poland Capped ETF (EPOL), and the Market Vectors Poland ETF (PLND).
As always, I have attached some links with more information
With all of the focus this week on retail shopping, which is coming in weaker than expected due to deep discounts, as well as the OPEC meeting in Vienna this week, it might be easy to be distracted from other market stories. This is understandable — there is only so much time available in the day, and the holiday shopping season as well as oil prices are both market moving news events that are certainly worthy of the coverage they are receiving.
There is, however, another large story that is worth paying attention.
Banks have been fined $17 billion this year and according to a CNN Money story (link below). That is a significant increase over the $10 billion that the world’s largest financial institutions paid last year. This topic has been covered in the weekly podcasts, newsletters, as well as other blog posts, but it is worth examining once again due to the wide-ranging impact that these fines can have on the economy.
•The fines are tax deductible, so the banks that are paying these fines actually receive a tax write-off for paying them
•Many of these settlements have deferred portions, that is, that even though the headline number may impact the firm’s earnings all at once, the actual payment may occur over a much longer period.
•Different divisions of the financial institutions may partake in activities that bring down the entire firm. Today’s announcement of Libor-rigging fines, and the London Whale incident of last year are perfect examples of this.
So if the firms that are paying these fines are not suffering as mightily as is initially thought, who is truly bearing the brunt? If financial institutions have to spend millions (or billions in aggregate) on compliance, legal, and other regulatory issues, that restructure the job market away from more value-additive functions toward compliance issues, it could be said that the large fines levied against financial institutions have a powerful impact on the job market.
Food for thought
Tablets versus PCs
The technology war has been raging since the introduction of the first Apple iPad (which only occurred in 2009, believe it or not) and has seen the PC market decimated by the rise of tablet devices. Chip makers such as AMD and Intel have struggled to re-position themselves in this new paradigm, titans such as Microsoft have struggled mightily to compete in this new environment, and one of the largest PC makers, Dell, took itself private to restructure itself in order to compete more effectively.
That’s all nice, but what are people buying for the holidays?
The tablets leading the way this holiday season are the usual suspects – the iPad, Nexus and Amazon Fire iterations all led the tablet sales that helped contribute to record-breaking sales figures on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday for IT goods. This is occurring as the PC market shrunk by 10% in 2013, i.e., PC makers sold 10% fewer computers than they did in 2012. International Data Corporation, the same firm that initially forecasted this 10% decline in 2013, forecasts a 3.8% decline in 2013.
Surprisingly, one of the potential bright spots for the PC market might include machines such as the Surface 2, which is Microsoft’s flagship tablet. By equipping the tablet with an easy-to-attach keyboard, and the fact that Office is fully compatible on this device, IDC forecasts sales of these items to grow from 7.5 million (2013) to 39.3 million (2017).
An interesting story indeed.