Kings Portfolio Newsletter Q2 2020 – “A game of inches”

Economy & Capital Markets

The US Federal Reserve expects to hold short term interest rates at 0.1% for the next three years. At present the ECB’s short term rate is 0%, the BoJ’s -0.1%, the SNB’s -0.75% and PBC’s 3.85%; punishing cautious savers, pensions and those who should not undertake risk, to benefit limited liability structures and those with capital buffers. Although smoothing the business cycles allows certainty in planning, it hinders the adoption of latest productive techniques by maintaining companies with sub-”normal profits”. Further the failure to apply anti-monopoly/trust law has created huge economies of scale for incumbents that crush new entrants. All of which leads to increasing inequality of income. Combined with the relaxation of temporary martial law measures, changing educational standards and susceptibility to social media, a spring of social unrest ensued.

Diminishing global fertility rates combined with communication and IT advances hold inflation in check while the further suppression of pricing pressure from adoption of AI awaits.

The UK left the EU in January 2020 but remains subject to EU law until the final agreement signalled for 31st December 2020 is negotiated. The UK’s persistent net deficit on goods and services trade with the EU reached £66bn in 2018 with additional net contributions to the EU budget of £7.8bn, over time we expect this to moderate. Inflation in the UK may rise as internal supply chains are developed and property price growth may slow from the reduction of immigration. Whilst in the EU we believe that GDP growth will further slow.

A US presidential election is scheduled for November 3rd with candidates appearing in 3 live broadcast debates from September 29th. As in the previous election, polls favour the Democrat candidate. Apart from style the policy differences are: the DNC’s preference for tax, regulation and global elitism whilst; Trump attempts a fair and equal playing field. Neither address better application of existing government/central bank programs for low wealth citizens and small enterprise. Negotiating the 2nd phase of China trade deal awaits the victor.

EU political administration’s similarity to the CCP makes them natural allies.

Performance

The Kings portfolio returned 3% in the first half, with a low in the period of negative 6%. Including realised profits in i) longs: of 112% for Alibaba Health Information and 58% for ZTO Express Cayman, and ii) shorts: Banco Marco falling 56%, Micro Focus International falling 66% and Sasol falling 94%. In the same period the S&P finished the period down 4% falling 32% at its low. The MSCI ACWI, that better represents the universe of our potential positions, finished the period down 8% falling 33% at its low.

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