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Investment advisors worry U.S. response to coronavirus is too little too late – National Post

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NEW YORK — Investment-advisors are increasingly worried that U.S. authorities are not be doing enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of coronavirus in the country, potentially adding further downside to already-battered markets.

Their criticisms include the number of people so far tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which some say is too small, the possible difficulties of imposing lockdowns on U.S. cities and concerns that the White House could bungle containment efforts.

The worries have magnified the uncertainty that has accompanied the coronavirus outbreak over the last several weeks, as investors scramble to adjust their portfolios to price in the virus’ potential for damage to the global economy and assess its further impact on asset prices.

The CDC states on its website that “as of Feb. 24, CDC teams are working with the Department of Homeland Security at 11 airports where all flights from China are being directed to screen travelers returning to the United States, and to refer them to U.S. health departments for oversight of self-monitoring.”

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said as of Thursday morning the CDC had tested 3,625 specimens for the fast-moving virus.

For some investors and analysts, those assurances ring hollow.

“Much of what we’ve seen about this virus has shaken confidence in governments,” said James Bianco, head of Chicago-based advisory firm Bianco Research.

His list includes doubts over China’s accuracy in counting cases, criticism over Japan’s handling of a cruise ship quarantine at one of its ports, and the comparatively small number of people that U.S. authorities have so far tested.

Worries over the growing number of cases outside China sent the S&P 500 into intraday correction territory on Thursday morning. Stocks took an earlier hit on Wednesday after health officials in Nassau County, New York, said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China and may have come in contact with the coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases so far.

On Wednesday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump told Americans that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” and appointed Vice President Mike Pence to run the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.

Bianco said he fears many investors are still complacent about how quickly the number of cases could multiply in the United States, as it has in countries such as Iran, Italy and South Korea.

He is advising his clients to tread lightly until the full extent of the outbreak is known.

“I would rather risk a lost opportunity by being out of the market or underweight and finding out that this is not a big deal, than being fully invested and worrying that this will get worse,” Bianco said.

‘TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF RISK’

Others are concerned over the consequences if the United States were forced to implement a lockdown similar to the one imposed by Chinese authorities on Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, imposed strict controls on movement of residents, then eased them, then later announced that the relaxation had been revoked. Such measures could be more difficult to enforce in the United States.

“Those of us sitting here in Hong Kong looking at financial markets think there is a tremendous amount of risk in the system,” said Simon Powell, equity strategist at Jefferies in Hong Kong.

Powell is particularly worried that there could be spread of the virus from people from countries outside China which were not subject to travel restrictions coming into the United States. He is particularly concerned about the outbreak in Iran.

Iran said on Thursday that its coronavirus death toll had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China. The death rate among confirmed cases of the virus has been running at around 10% in Iran compared to around 3% elsewhere.

Powell also thinks that a Trump government is unlikely to choose reduced economic activity , writing in a recent research note that “our base case hypothesis is that a Trump government is unlikely to choose reduced economic activity, and supply chain disruption, so spread of the virus, if it were to emerge in the US, would be more likely.”

Others have pointed to what they believe are shortcomings in the CDC’s approach.

“The initial response from the U.S. has been targeted to mount a response to confirmed high-risk or infected cases, not directed to a more generalized public health containment,” said Wouter Jongbloed, head of policy and risk analysis at New York-based Exante Data.

With coronavirus having spread well outside China, CDC testing was “likely insufficiently effective in preventing a potential outbreak in the U.S.,” Jongbloed said. (Reporting by Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Ira Iosebashvili; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Short Term vs Long Term Investments: Gauging the saving spectrum – Economic Times

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Quick wealth creation is what financial markets consider; however, investing as a practice is a long-term process. While an investor’s capital can be invested in the short-term and long-term, both forms of investment have their merits and demerits.

Typically, short-term investments involve less risk than long-term investments. Long-term investments give the investor’s money a substantial period to grow and recover from major dips in the market.

Having clear and crisp financial goals can help the investor decide whether to choose short or long-term investments and which vehicles within those categories aim towards personalized investment gains.

Before choosing any investment strategy, the investor ideally needs to do proper research on which asset types suits their need.

What is suitable for one investor might not be in sync with another’s financial objectives, so one must consider their overall goals along with the risks one is willing to take.

Short-term investments have a validity period typically up to three years – high liquidity instruments, generally involving lesser market risks.

Also, these temporary investments are mostly used for parking excess funds for a short period. Short-term investments are highly liquid and hence are used by investors to meet expected near-future expenses.

Less risky in nature, these short-term investment products have a short tenure and give predictable returns as compared to long-term investments be it –

Treasury bills which can be redeemed within 91 days and is a high liquidity instrument.

● Gilt Funds which invest only in government securities and owing to zero credit risk, are safe investment funds.

● Ultra-short-term debt funds wherein the maturity period ranges between three to six months and provides comparatively higher returns.

● Low duration debt funds whose maturity period ranges between six and 12 months, these funds invest in debt and money market instruments.

● Money market funds that invest in money market instruments and have a redemption period of up to one year.

● Bank fixed deposits that can be renewed on maturity and their tenure can range from 14 days to 10 years. Also, liquidity can be a concern here as some banks don’t allow premature withdrawals.

● Company fixed deposits can have a tenure of more than one year

● Post office time deposits have tenures ranging from one to five years and similarly Recurring deposits can open an RD for a duration as low as six months. Sweep-in-Fixed Deposits as against low returns on savings accounts, these offer comparatively higher returns, with a minimum tenure of around 12 months.

On the other hand, long-term investments are investments that can offer high returns after several years, typically five years or more – involving more market risks.

Be it via stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, etc. Investments in stocks earn quite high returns if patience is kept high (Of course, this cannot be guaranteed but you should assess your risk-taking capacity before thinking of investing in stocks).

Having a deeper understanding of the market movements so that the investor makes wiser financial decisions and when to sell the stocks, investing in stocks and securities requires a trusted financial partner, who can provide hassle-free features to open an online Demat and Trading Account.

Another long-term investment avenue for receiving higher returns is Equity Mutual Funds where the investor gets to pick from small, mid-cap, and large-cap equity mutual funds for the long term to achieve greater financial goals.

Ultimately, the short-term investment gives levy to the investor to achieve their financial goals within a short span and with lower risk (depending on which asset you pick), if the investor has a greater risk appetite, and wants higher returns, they can select a long-term investment avenue.

To further simplify, if the investor wants to preserve their capital and is happy with moderate returns then they may choose short-term investments but, with the expectation of a higher return, the investor may invest in long-term investment avenues.

(The author is Senior Vice President, at mastertrust)

(Disclaimer: Recommendations, suggestions, views and opinions given by the experts are their own. These do not represent the views of Economic Times)

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Hong Kong Investment Bank’s 2,325% Surge Baffles Local Investors – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Another little-known Hong Kong-based financial services firm is mystifying investors with a dramatic price surge following its US listing. 

Magic Empire Global Ltd., which provides underwriting and advisory services and has helped just one company go public since 2020, surged 2,325% in its debut session Friday in New York to a market capitalization larger than football club Manchester United Plc. Magic Empire is the seventh firm this year from Hong Kong or China to experience similarly surprising moves. 

“This price level has clearly shown it is not sustainable,” said Ken Shih, head of wealth management in Greater China at Saxo Capital Markets HK Ltd., adding that without knowing who is doing the buying, it is hard to be definitive. “At this point, downside risk for investors clearly outweighs upside.”  

Last week, Hong Kong financial services provider AMTD Digital Inc. briefly became bigger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. after a 14,000% gain in less than a month. The moves are particularly notable at a time of otherwise muted IPO activity and with Chinese companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc. threatened with delisting if they fail to comply with American auditing standards.

Magic Empire reported revenue of $2.2 million in 2021, a 17% drop from a year earlier. The company’s operating entity, Giraffe Capital Ltd., completed just one IPO in 2020 and none last year “due to COVID-19 and volatile outlook of the Hong Kong capital market,” according to the prospectus. Friday’s price surge brought Magic Empire’s market capitalization to $1.9 billion.

“The wild swings are likely due to the concentrated ownership, which certainly raises red flags,” said Kakei Lam, fund investment officer at Metaverse Securities Ltd. “I don’t see a resemblance to the meme-stock mania, given the thin trading volume.”

Magic Empire’s chairman Gilbert Chan Wai-ho and chief executive officer Johnson Chen Sze-hon co-lead Giraffe Capital, which obtained a license to provide corporate finance services in 2017. The firm mostly works on IPOs on GEM, the small-cap exchange, and often engages other small local brokerages as underwriters, including KOALA Securities Ltd., HKMonkey.com and Yellow River Securities Ltd. Chan and Chen own most of Magic Empire, with a combined stake of about 63%. The firm had just nine employees as of December 2021, according to its prospectus.

Hong Kong’s Scandal-Plagued Small-Cap Exchange Left for Dead

About half of the companies Giraffe Capital has taken public jumped on the first day, some by as much as 125%. Seven are now trading 30% to 92% lower than IPO price and another has been delisted.

Magic Empire didn’t respond to an email request for comment and calls to the phone number listed on its website weren’t answered.

In the first half of this year, fundraising in the Hong Kong IPO market dropped 92%. With the tiny companies that make up their customer base under close regulatory watch, small- and mid-sized financial advisory firms like Giraffe Capital have had a particularly tough time.

In 2017 and 2021, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong stock exchange issued two rounds of warnings about so-called ramp-and-dump schemes tied to small-cap IPOs. These schemes manipulate very thin trading volume to inflate prices, luring unwary investors before shares collapse. 

The SFC declined to comment for this article, but has previously identified four typical features of problematic IPOs: 

  • Market capitalization barely meets the minimum threshold
  • Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is very high given the firm’s fundamentals and the valuations of its peers
  • Underwriting commissions or other listing expenses are unusually high
  • Shareholding is highly concentrated in a limited number of shareholders

Magic Empire’s relatively modest revenue means it qualifies as an “emerging growth company” under American legislation, according to its prospectus. These firms enjoy reduced reporting requirements compared to larger US-listed public companies, with only two years of audited financial statements required and disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation pared back. 

(Updates with Kakei Lam’s comments.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Investment in Alberta's tech sector soars – CBC.ca

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Several Calgary-based tech companies are planning to hire more people and expand their office space as hundreds of millions of dollars flow into the sector.

Through the first half of the year, Alberta has attracted nearly $500 million in investment, according to briefed.in.

“We’re growing very, very quickly,” said Nic Beique, the founder of Calgary-based Helcim, which offers online payment services for small businesses across Canada and the United States.

The company recently received $16 million in venture capital funding from investors in Toronto and New York.

“We’ve doubled our business in the past six months alone, so our investors are already quite happy with that progress,” Beique said from the company’s headquarters in Eau Claire. 

Nic Beique is the founder and CEO of Helcim, a Calgary-based fintech company that offers payment solutions for businesses. The company recently received $16 million in venture capital funding. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Beique says the company has grown by 400 per cent in the past year. It’s gone from 80 employees late last year to 145 today. He plans to hire 100 more people by the end of next year.

“My long-term goal is to build an anchor tenant in the Calgary tech scene. So when people think about Calgary, they think about Helcim … the way Shopify was able to do that with Ottawa, where they really kind of put them on the map for tech. I want to do that in Calgary as well.”

According to briefed.in, Alberta’s tech sector recorded $268.6 million in venture funding in the second quarter alone — in the same quarter a year ago, only $16 million was raised. 

Hirings, office expansion

Another rising star in the city’s tech scene is Virtual Gurus, which provides companies with virtual assistants to carry out a range of administrative duties for businesses in Canada and the States. 

Two years ago, the company had five employees. It now has 40 and plans to double that number by the end of the year, which will require more office space.

“We’re looking at expanding upstairs in order to facilitate that growth,” said Margaret Glover-Campbell, the company’s chief operating officer.

Margaret Glover-Campbell, chief operating officer of Virtual Gurus, is looking to more than double its number of employees in downtown Calgary by the end of the year. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Virtual Gurus, which aims to hire more people from minority groups, including people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community, recently received $10 million in funding from several venture funds. The money will be used to help the company grow and launch a new app in the coming months.

New funding sources

Calgary-based startup ZayZoon, which previously relied on individual, private investors, recently raised $25.5 million in funding to help it expand. ZayZoon offers people early access to their earned wages and has partnered with approximately 3,000 businesses in the U.S. The company has 70 employees but plans to hire 15 more by the end of the year. 

One of its investors is Alberta government-owned ATB Financial, which is providing a $13-million debt pool for the company to use when clients seek an advance on their earnings.

Darcy Tuer, left, Tate Hackert, middle, and Jamie Ha are the founders of Calgary-based startup ZayZoon, which provides clients with early access to their earned wages. (Tate Hackert/ZayZoon)

Tate Hackert, one of the company’s founders, says ATB’s support is a boost for his company and the city.

“It’s just such a great story for Calgary,” he said.

“It just shows that there is more to invest in here than oil and gas, and we’re really looking forward to being part of that success story, right?”

Finding employees a challenge

An ongoing challenge for most tech firms is finding employees to support their expansion plans.

“We’re absolutely hiring as many people as we can. It’s a really tough market in Calgary because we do have so many tech companies here that are trying to hire people,” said Glover-Campbell.

Helcim says it takes a unique approach to hiring and provides greater opportunities for recent graduates of post-secondary schools. It aims to hire young professionals right out of school and provide on-the-job training and mentorship. 

Employees of Helcim in downtown Calgary. The company plans to add 100 more employees by the end of 2023. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

“Our focus is on giving these young professionals the ability to start their career at Helcim instead of fighting for senior talent,” said Beique.

He also says recent cooling off in the sector could help level out the demand for talent and help his company attract and retain staff.

Calgary has a lot going for it, Beique says, including an affordable cost of living and a good quality of life. He says 20 per cent of the companies’ recent hires are coming from outside the city.


Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at bryan.labby@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.

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