Dan Hallett is vice-president and principal of Highview Financial Group
I have often criticized the investment industry for pumping out products designed to sell rather than build wealth for investors. I have also worked to raise investor awareness of how gimmicky products destroy wealth. The battle against such products took a step backward recently with an Ontario Securities Commission panel’s decision to allow the launch of a bitcoin investment fund.
The OSC’s Investment Funds Branch was initially opposed to the fund; citing several concerns pertaining to public interests. The panel’s decision document clearly lays out the OSC’s legal limits when it comes to approving products that are considered risky and speculative. Ultimately, the panel concluded that the fund will be able to reliably value the fund’s assets, secure the holdings (from hacks/theft) and complete a full financial audit.
Many look to bitcoin – and other assets such as gold and other commodities – to provide diversification from traditional financial assets. An investment must meet two basic conditions for it to effectively diversify a portfolio. First, it must be weakly correlated with other investments. Second, it must produce a positive return. Bitcoin passes the first test with flying colours. But the second – a positive return – is quite a leap of faith, and violates the warning attached to virtually all investment products.
Regulators have long required every investment fund prospectus to be stamped with a statement reminding investors that past performance is no indication of the future. And yet, it seems that any assumption that bitcoin offers portfolio diversification is implicitly based on bitcoin’s performance during its one decade in existence. This is a drop in the bucket of financial market history. But there are two problems with this assumption.
First, we have no idea – even using history – how bitcoin will behave in a recession, financial crisis or bear market. History can be useful to gauge behavioural patterns and worst-case scenarios. But bitcoin hasn’t existed through any such environment.
Second, by claiming that bitcoin can diversify portfolios, I wonder what basis is used for assuming positive future returns. As I stated for a Globe and Mail article on the panel’s decision:
“We design client portfolios to achieve a specific goal – a specific long-term return target. I can take each component of the portfolio and give you a very good ballpark estimate of how each piece will contribute to achieving that long-term goal. I have no idea how anyone can do this with bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. It can’t be done.”
We have designed an algorithm to forecast long-term asset-class returns. (The method is summarized in a 2012 blog post and has been pretty accurate.) But bitcoin doesn’t fit into this or any other sensible model that facilitates a confident return forecast. I’m certainly not comfortable blindly relying on 10 years of data to form any type of future return expectation; particularly since that decade overlapped a very long economic recovery and bull market.
Bitcoin and other crypto or digital currencies are likely to have a future. And blockchain technology seems destined to change some industries – e.g., the way we handle legal documents. But investment assets require fundamental characteristics upon which to base some value assessment and, in turn, return expectations. In the absence of such characteristics, buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies either for attractive returns or portfolio diversification is speculating – not investing.
Tense diplomatic relations may not impact trade, investment ties between India, Canada: Experts
NEW DELHI: The tense diplomatic relations between India and Canada are unlikely to impact trade and investments between the two countries as economic ties are driven by commercial considerations, according to experts. Both India and Canada trade in complementary products and do not compete on similar products.
“Hence, the trade relationship will continue to grow and not be affected by day-to-day events,” Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava said.
Certain political developments have led to a pause in negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.
On September 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau India’s strong concerns about the continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada that were promoting secessionism, inciting violence against its diplomats and threatening the Indian community there.
India on Tuesday announced the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat hours after Canada asked an Indian official to leave that country, citing a “potential” Indian link to the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in June.
Srivastava said these recent events are unlikely to affect the deep-rooted people-to-people connections, trade, and economic ties between the two nations.
Bilateral trade between India and Canada has grown significantly in recent years, reaching USD 8.16 billion in 2022-23.
India’s exports (USD 4.1 billion) to Canada include pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, textiles, and machinery, while Canada’s exports to India (USD 4.06 billion) include pulses, timber, pulp and paper, and mining products.
On investments, he said that Canadian pension funds will continue investing in India on grounds of India’s large market and good return on money invested.
Canadian pension funds, by the end of 2022, had invested over USD 45 billion in India, making it the fourth-largest recipient of Canadian FDI in the world.
The top sectors for Canadian pension fund investment in India include infrastructure, renewable energy, technology, and financial services.
Mumbai-based exporter and Chairman of Technocraft Industries Sharad Kumar Saraf said the present frosty relations between India and Canada are certainly a cause for concern.
“However, the bilateral trade is entirely driven by commercial considerations. Political turmoil is of a temporary nature and should not be a reason to affect trade relations,” Saraf said.
He added that even with China, India has acrimonious relations but bilateral trade continues to remain healthy.
“In fact, bilateral trade is an effective tool to improve political relations. India must make special efforts to increase our bilateral trade with Canada,” Saraf said.
India and Canada have a strong education partnership. There are over 200 educational partnerships between Indian and Canadian institutions.
In addition, over 3,19,000 Indian students are enrolled in Canadian institutions, making them the largest international student cohort in Canada, according to GTRI.
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), Indian students contributed USD 4.9 billion to the Canadian economy in 2021.
Indian students are the largest international student group in Canada, accounting for 20 per cent of all international students in 2021.
Benefits of educational partnerships are mutual and hence the current situation may have no impact on the relationship, Srivastava said.
Apple supplier Foxconn aims to double India jobs and investment
Apple supplier Foxconn aims to double its workforce and investment in India by next year, a company executive said on Sunday.
Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics, has rapidly expanded its presence in India by investing in manufacturing facilities in the south of the country as the company seeks to move away from China.
V Lee, Foxconn’s representative in India, in a LinkedIn post to mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 73rd birthday, said the company was “aiming for another doubling of employment, FDI (foreign direct investment), and business size in India” by this time next year.
He did not give more details.
Foxconn already has an iPhone factory employing 40,000 people in the state of Tamil Nadu.
In August, the state of Karnataka said the firm will invest US$600 million for two projects to make casing components for iPhones and chip-making equipment.
The company’s Chairman Liu Young-way said in an earnings briefing last month that he sees a lot of potential in India, adding: “several billion dollars in investment is only a beginning”.
Taiwan election: Foxconn’s Terry Gou taps star-powered running mate
Last month, Foxconn’s billionaire founder Terry Gou said he would run for the Taiwanese presidency in next year’s election, as an independent candidate.
He said the ruling and independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was unable to offer a bright future for the island and left Foxconn’s board following his decision to run.
The firm operates the world’s largest iPhone plant, in the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province.
Foxconn to double workforce, investment in India by ‘this time next year’
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