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David Stafford
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Student of markets, enjoys following their course.
My book:
Around the World in Several Pieces
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  • Swiss Hedges, And Christmas Cheer.

    Merry Christmas to all, I hope this Christmas is a pleasant time for everyone. Hopefully Santa's work was pleasant, or he got you what you wanted per se, and all is well between yourself and the old man of the north per se.

    Santa Clauses' exceptional basketball skills;(link)

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    Amidst all of this Christmas cheer, and yuletide merriment, perhaps one has thoughts of securing one's portfolio with some more hedges. Though this may be more of a time for festivities and lightheartedness per se, and moments underneath the mistletoe, perhaps amidst all of this merriment one may be considering how to keep the warmth of that spiced/spiked eggnog close to one's home and hearth. Well, if these were partly your sentiments during this sentimental time than perhaps the following discussion may be of some help.

    Image source(link);

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    Through its social and economic soundness one might say, Switzerland is often thought of as being a sort of hedge I guess one might say in times of insecurity for capital or people. Hence, with its robust and quite diversified local economy, which I believe produces the most millionaires on average, per capita, per se(not counting Qatar(link)), and topping lists such as the best place to be born(2012(link)), and best location for "expats"((2014)link) Switzerland has the sort of quality of being a good national hedge, I guess one might call it.

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    Switzerland's semi-European, yet at the same time "neutral" nature also makes it perhaps somewhat more historically stable than its neighbors politically, and perhaps its fabled banking secrecy(perhaps not so much so recently) has lent Switzerland part of this hedge mystique it seems to have. Perhaps its just that people remember, the Calvinism inspired anti-conspicuous-consumption laws of Switzerland(that has been argued lead to the national watch fascination(laws were passed that banned jewelry but not watches(link)) that has historically given people the idea that these aren't the kind of folks who are prone to "blowing" money per se. On the other hand, it may be those "Swiss-guards" who guard the Pope historically, so perhaps folks think if the Swiss are good enough for the Vatican, than they are good enough for their capital, but who can say. Whether it be some combination of cultural presumptions or a sort of seeming econo-political otherness per se, who can say what it is exactly, but surely Switzerland has a sort of "hedgy" national investment profile if one will. Apart from the aformentioned qualities/phenomena, there is also the anthropo-hedgy tradition in the Swiss town of Ettingen where folks literally dress as hedges as they engage in various interesting activities, one might say, but perhaps this isn't a critical factor in forming this national-financial-hedge-profile if one will(link).(humor)(Perhaps the "real answer" involves the resiliency of the Swiss society/economy, fostered by long traditions of intellectual open-ness, neutrality/self-preservation, and an enterprising spirit per se.)

    Image source(link);

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    Though the Swiss central bank is up to some interesting rate manipulations per se, presumably to limit the "value", of the Swiss Franc(negative interest rates etc.(link)), and though some Swiss ETFs may have betas very close to 1(EWL's beta is 1.06), perhaps the sort of qualitative beta of a Swiss ETF may be of some value per se, either personally or for one's portfolio. If this is the case than here are a couple Swiss economy related ETFs, if one will, which are somewhat different in composition, but according to Marketwatch's profiles of the two funds, may offer attractive dividend yields aswell as potential beta diversification( I mention Marketwatch because Google-finance offers different yields for these two funds, and mentions both as having lower div. yields).

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    For our first fund, we may find a taste of what we may be looking for , one might say, in none other than EWL, a Swiss index fund offered in association with IShares. EWL is currently trading at around $32.34 per share, with a div. yield(according to Marketwatch) of about 4.87%.(marketwatch link(google-finance says 2.44%)). EWL's top holding sector concentrations per se(above 10% of holdings) are unique to it, in regards to this comparison, with its upper most holding concentration being in healthcare with a ~32% weighting in this sector. This is followed by consumer goods(26%), financials(15.6%), and industrials(14.5%) weightings, with other sectors comprising about 5% or less of the holdings. Its holdings are more than 99% in stocks per se, with about 1 billion USD in assets, and a turnover rate of about 5%.

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    Our second candidate, if one will, though still a Swiss-centric ETF, is a very different animal per se from the first fund regarded here. Not only are holdings weighted differently, but other key portfolio metrics per se are quite different aswell(not to discuss these investments in a way similar to game-show prizes). This fund is none other than FSZ. For people that are interested per se and who look this up on Google finance, you may receive one of those notoriously vague and opaque investment names that Google finance tends to produce on occasion in response to ones query per se,("First Trust Exchange Traded AlphaDEX(sic) Fund II") however according to Marketwatch this is a fund known as; the "First Trust Switzerland AlphaDEX Fund." According to Marketwatch, this fund has a current price of $38.91, and a div. yield of 7.35%(link)(Google finance says 1.85%). Now perhaps we are where things start to really get interesting, for, the weighting of this portfolio is quite different than the first one looked at, for, in this portfolio we have a top sector holdings profile whereby the top holdings are; financial(30%), industrials(21.5%), consumer goods(15%), and healthcare(~12%), with the only other sector representing more than 5% of the portfolio being basic materials(9%). This portfolio is 100% in stocks, has about 52 million USD in assets, and has a turnover rate of about 10x that of the previous fund looked at, specifically a turnover rate of about 50%.

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    Hence perhaps in preparing for "settling down for a long winters nap"("Twas the night before Christmas", by Clement Moore) per se, one may be able to sort of paint these two tableaus of capital allocation according to a few key factors. To sort of pin it down per se(at least according to the portfolio makeups/qualities) one may be essentially weighting choosing between one portfolio that gives one more exposure to financials and industrials in FSZ, but which simultaneously has a very high turnover rate, and less AUM, but which may also have a relatively higher dividend yield. By choosing EWL, one might be getting a larger portion of one's assets involved in the healthcare investment opportunities represented by the Swiss economy per se, with a lower turnover rate, and in turn a higher AUM, but also a lower dividend yield as well. Hence perhaps simplistically speaking per se, one may be essentially choosing between the higher dividend of FSZ vs. the lower dividend of EWL, and simultaneously, the higher financials exposure of FSZ vs. the higher healthcare exposure of EWL. All in all perhaps both of these investments have great dividend yields(if Marketwatch is correct), and perhaps having to choose between financials or healthcare is a sort of win-win situation at least very superficially speaking per se, as both these sectors seem to be relatively robust in developed economies, and quite lucrative per se in general, to boot.

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    Either way, hopefully whether one is having "visions of sugarplums" or dreams of hedges per se, this fine holiday, hopefully everyone's celebrations and portfolios are going well and doing fantastic per se. Thank you again for reading, and merry Christmas.

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    Image source(link);

    (click to enlarge)

    Dec 25 12:37 AM | Link | Comment!
  • A Bright Time For Solar Power.

    Though stocks may have their cloudy days as of recently, here and there, it seems as though there is some hope burning brightly still, in regards to the future of "renewable energy", more specifically in regards to solar power.

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    One recent Solar power discovery per se, regards improvements to the efficiency of the conversion process per se, whereby solar energy is converted into a form harnessable/capturable by us as people, so that it may be added to our greater electrical grid, if one will. For, it seems Australian researchers from a sort of state research group, have improved the rate of solar power capture up to about 40%, up from 20% in the 1980s at least according to this article. New prototype facilities for this sort of tech, are supposedly going to be developed by "Raygen Resources" however on their website, I did not see reference to stock information per se, so that may be some sort of quasi-governmental entity or a privately held company, who can say(company website). Presumably the company is mostly staffed by Cajuns, who have harnessed their "ragin" energy, into a quest for improving the world's understanding of solar power(a joke, yes, a very lame joke).

    (image source)

    -actual logo(source)

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    In other solar news, it seems that we are getting closer and closer to a sort of natural mimicry of solar capture surface adaptability per se, by now soon being able to apply "spray on" solar energy capture cells wherever one might wish to spray them(source). Perhaps one day in the none to distant future, we may be able to coat many different surfaces with sort of flexible solar cells, which perhaps with increased capture efficiency, might make anything a sort of ad-hoc solar panel if one will. Now perhaps all those times, that one has dreamt that the proverbial family dog could be more helpful around the house, may soon be moving closer to manifestation per se(humor). For though there are already sort of rough "solar panel sweaters" for dogs, perhaps soon one may be able to wirelessly tether per se, good old Argos's garb to the greater electrical grid, turning man's best friend, into the climate's best friend if one will. Surely the other applications for this sort of technology are also somewhat endless per se, giving the solar power capture facilities of the future a sort of Midas-ian translatability per se.

    solar panel dog sweater (image source)

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    Perhaps one day this will also lead to sort of cool new cars that will recharge themselves(hopefully as quickly as possible) while parked,or just in the sunlight in general. With cool new "hybrid" cars becoming more prevalent by the year, perhaps this would make for a really cool sports car per se(even though that might be a stretch). For other discussions of semi-hybrid/electric sports cars, here's a few cool one's that might catch one's eye per se;

    Most recent;

    BMW I8(image source);

    and an "older" sort of pseudo-prototype Porsche hybrid;

    the "918 Spyder Hybrid"(image source);

    (click to enlarge)

    and of course, ye olde Tesla roadster;(image source)

    (click to enlarge)

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    Hopefully one's portfolio's utility is just as, if not even more useful than a spray on solar panel, and as efficient as these modern solar prototypes being developed in Australia. Thanks again for reading, and happy holiday season.

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    To continue the semi-developing tradition of including some poetic interludes in the blog posts here's a perhaps apropos bit of prose on the harnessing of stars;

    From the book of Job;

    "Can you bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion"

    (link)

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    The Pleiades(link);

    (click to enlarge)

    Tags: Solar, Renewable
    Dec 12 3:19 AM | Link | Comment!
  • The Political Tight Rope Of Post-Ukraine Crisis Eastern Europe.

    Though perhaps Ukraine isn't in the headlines as much as it once was, it seems that the sort of center of interest if one will, may have moved from Kiev to Moscow per se. More specifically perhaps to the ruling elites of Russia, and the pressure being put on the status quo by a seeming perfect storm of factors.

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    Though the ruling elites of Russia may be "furious in luxury" at the moment(Kipling's "France"(link)), it does seem as though their leaders per se, are really being put to the political test as of late. With the very dynamic, and unwritten-rule based political system of Russia, all of these economic pressures, are perhaps forcing the top of the human totem pole if one will, to perform some tricky political acrobatics. While on the one hand we have the Russian economy being hit from several angles, by both micro-economic short-comings caused by sanctions, and by more macro-factors, such as the falling price of oil(with the future Russian budget(signed just recently) being based off of $100 per barrel oil forecasts(source)) we have the Russian elites seemingly try to be Pyrrhic-ally militant to the West on the one hand and being patronizingly-comforting to both wealthy and of average means Russians on the other.

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    Though Russia is continuing to increase sanctions against western commercial entities(new meat import sanctions(link)), it seems as though all these various factors aligned against the Russian economy, are continuing to put it into a sort of inflationary economic malaise. While on the one hand the elites may want to sort of maintain their leader's carefully nurtured strong man persona, a persona birthed way back when starting with the apartment complex bombing, and ye olde semi-recent war in Kosovo, on the other hand its being observed that this very sort of "brand" is perhaps starting to really bring some pressure on the Russian economy per se(link).

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    Hence, even though such elites as the head of Sberbank realize that this most recent session of economic push-and-pull per se, is leading to serious "liquidity" problems in Russia(link), the Russian ruling cadre is seemingly trying to keep its head above water, by perhaps trying to provide various economic electric-blankets if one will to comfort various demographics within its society per se. To comfort the everyman we have the Russian-semi-cash-strapped government refusing to go after some low hanging fruit, and increase the semi-regulated vodka price(link). To please the "elites" and or merchants per se of all scope and size, the Russian political leaders are also doing something which is somewhat of a policy about-face, by allowing folks to repatriate their capital without any taxes to prevent them from doing so(link).

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    Hence it seems that in order to try to ride out this situation, the Russian elites, are as perhaps somewhat suggested earlier, closing ranks. However, as time goes by it seems that those included in the ranks seems to be an increasingly larger and larger portion of the Russian population per se, not only those close to the ruling circle, but increasingly more everyday Russians per se, as-well. Perhaps it would be interesting to see what sort of, "unpublicized" deals are going on behind closer-doors if one will, for surely with the sort of shades-of-grey Russian political system, their must be some sort of interesting compromises going on perhaps, behind closed doors to keep the sort of dynamic political dialogues of Russia functioning semi-smoothly, if that's the case. Perhaps just as Putin was educated in the ways of power and influence, amidst the scarcity of the declining Soviet Union, perhaps behind the scenes in this sort of scarcity ruled era in Russia, the new leaders, and back-room-elites, of that former trading camp on the outskirts of the Mongol empire, are being born.

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    Either way perhaps this is an interesting time for those involved in Russian politics. Just as the social discussion in the US is perhaps becoming more varied(perhaps for very different reasons), perhaps ironically, the people of Russia are also having discussions concerning the nature of control, and power per se, and hence, are though in a different place per se, perhaps closer than we may at times think. Perhaps with a large enough portfolio, all yields return to the sort of market-rate per se, but either way, this certainly must be an "interesting" time to be an elite in that land diamond mines and north-sea-oil.

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    Thanks again for reading, I hope everyone's portfolios are easier to balance per se, than as seems to be the socio-political situation in Russia at the moment, and hope everyone's having a great holiday season.

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    As a side note; it seems that 100 tanks or so are being moved into regions immediately bordering Russia per se, hence potentially perhaps making the situation a little more "interesting" (link).

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    (image source)

    Dec 05 4:31 AM | Link | Comment!
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