Stocked fisheries generate more than $166 million each year in economic activity – much of it in smaller communities around the province.
No matter your age, you invest for only one reason: to accumulate wealth. Anything else is charity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with charity (and faith and hope and all those other good things). Charity puts food on other families’ tables. Investing—good investing, smart investing, successful investing—puts food on your family’s table. And if you’re really good, smart and successful at investing, you can accumulate enough wealth to put plenty of food on both your family’s table and other families’ tables.
So-called “ESG”-based investing is treated seriously by many, including, judging from the many investment products touting their ESG affinity, many investment firms. Some even argue ESG-based investing produces more favorable investment returns than traditional financial-based investing. This may be true, if only for a very financial-based reason.
Any product that hits its groove attracts investors. When Apple
tore off its corporate suit and “changed everything” with the iPod (then the iPhone, then the iPad, and, pretty much, the i-anything), its stock took off. Hot products produce hot companies which leads to hot stocks.
All good, smart and successful investors pay attention to consumer demand. It doesn’t matter if those consumers are retail or business, a product that suddenly emerges into “must have” status means sales. For the company doing the selling, that means profits. For investors, profits mean favorable returns.
It’s as easy as that. Find a product boosted by surging demand, then ride that wave.
Right now, ESG-based investing is just such a product. As a result, it’s easy to confuse the story with the finances.
While environmental, social and governance (the “ESG” in ESG) may not appear to have a direct impact on revenues and profits, they very well may.
“Many investors have been raised in a society that has become increasingly aware of a variety of risks that affect the environment and social behavior & well-being and financial outcomes for companies,” says Robert ‘Bob’ Smith, CIO and President of Sage Advisory Services in Austin, Texas. “They have also come to understand the importance of good corporate governance, disruptive product innovation, and creative approaches to resource or time management. All of these elements are identified, evaluated, and beneficially highlighted through the effective ESG risk assessment application in the investment process.”
You can easily imagine how this zeal for ESG-based investing suggests companies might profit from selling ESG-based products. These products can range from organic foods to electric cars.
It’s not just actual products. To establish an ESG appeal to its entire product line, a company might take actions that align themselves with causes positioned to show support for ESG issues. Of course, investing in these “ESG-affiliates” does pose some risk.
“In some cases, we see statements from companies making products that when you make your purchase from them the company will donate funds to an ESG cause,” says Stephen Akin of Akin Investments, LLC in Biloxi, Mississippi. “In the event the company doesn’t follow through on those donations, then buyer’s remorse will set in and turn the young consumer away from the product they once loved.”
It’s not just failure to follow-through on philanthropic promises that can hurt companies. Changing definitions of acceptable behavior can resurface decades-old statements that cause one to cringe in today’s society. Endorsing the wrong political candidate or belonging to the wrong political party can lead activists to call for a boycott of an otherwise upstanding “good citizen” company.
“Any sort of scandal, however minor, can set off a firestorm of negative press for a company,” says Kathleen Owens, of Aurora Financial Planning & Investment Management LLC, in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Companies are boycotted for what a company executive Tweeted, board members are pressured to resign if they mis-speak. Groups of people have become very organized in coordinating a pushback on a company that they are displeased with.”
The greatest risk when it comes to ESG-based investing, however, lies in the greatest risk to ESG-based products. It’s one thing to be a good story stock, but that story has to be implementable.
“Younger consumers may desire to purchase products that align with their ESG goals, even if they are more expensive,” says Ryan Brown, partner at CR Myers & Associates in Southfield, Michigan. “If, however, those products are not as readily accessible to purchase, as easy (or easier) to use or will promote that goal in a truly scalable way, younger purchasers will likely shy away from them.”
Worse for higher cost ESG-based products is the awful reality of economics can come down hard, especially when the economy heads south.
“Younger generations are becoming increasingly skeptical and frugal after witnessing the 2008 financial crisis and recent coronavirus market drop,” says Brown. “If you’re asking them to spend more money on a product that they could otherwise purchase in a cheaper, generic version, that product best be able to accomplish those goals in a material fashion. You don’t see many Generation Z individuals driving a Tesla
It’s not just the coronavirus market drop, it is the impact the pandemic has had on certain sectors in the marketplace. This is particularly acute for those just entering the job market in states that have had trouble re-opening. Can those people, (in many ways the target market for ESG-based products), afford to pay for the luxury of supporting their favorites causes? And, if they can’t, what kind of financial impact will that have on the companies that sell those products?
“COVID-19 may put a damper on younger people spending according to their beliefs,” says Derek Horstmeyer, an Assistant Professor of Finance at George Mason University’s School of Business in Washington, D.C. “For those that are newly unemployed or have faced pay cuts it is now more difficult to pay extra for a good that aligns with their belief.”
Finally, what happens if we discover the appearance of ESG altruism is just that—an appearance, not a reality?
“The answer to this question may lie in a research project that one of my students just did,” says Michael Edesess, Adjunct Associate Professor, Division of Environment and Sustainability at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “She surveyed a couple of hundred subjects (mostly young and college-age) about their feelings about the ‘greenness’ of five different fashion brands. She found, surprisingly, little or no correlation between their beliefs in their greenness and their proclivity to buy them. Upon direct questioning of a few of the participants in the survey, she found that their preferences about other features of the products overwhelmed their preferences about their greenness. They may say they prefer green products, but when it comes down to it, they just want them to be stylish.”
Fashion, perhaps, provides the key to successful ESG-based investing. Fashion brands occupy a long spectrum from “bargain-basement” to “luxury.” Good, smart, and successful companies sell brands along that entire spectrum. Those companies with sustainable marketing strategies understand that you cannot sell luxury items using the same techniques that sell bargain-basement products. The same holds true for production and distribution systems.
Business models differ for high-margin products and low-margin products. At this point, ESG-based products appear to be high-margin products. Successful ESG-based investments will therefore be in companies that show they can implement a high-margin product business model.
Otherwise, if they’re dependent on consumers’ willingness to continue to pay a premium for ESG, they may be in for a dreadful surprise the next time we hit a broad-based recession.
Gold vs silver investment – Where should your money go? – FXStreet
Precious metals have long been considered as stores of wealth for thousands of years. Prior to the advent of the fiat currency system, the world’s currencies were directly or indirectly pegged to gold. Some proponents of the latter system still believe that holding precious metals is better than holding currency.
However, these people are small in number. The vast majority of people across the world think of gold and silver as a hedge against inflation. A way to make sure that their wealth is stored in something that is tangible and has a use as opposed to paper backed by the ‘full faith and credit of the government’. By far, the two most used precious metals for this purpose are gold and silver.
Generally, gold is considered to be the ideal metal to store wealth. However, silver also has its uses, and can be a better investment in certain conditions. As such, we will look at both and compare their potential as investments in the current economy.
Why Invest in Gold or Silver?
Precious metals are considered the perfect investment by many during times of economic turmoil. Until the turn of the millennium, very few individual investors knew about the utility of precious metals in a portfolio. In fact, gold was only really used by organizations and banks. However, the constant barrage of economic meltdowns ranging from the dot-com bubble to the COVID-19 crisis, along with questionable government programs such as Quantitative Easing have bought precious metals to the mainstream.
Gold and Silver have stayed true to their intended purpose. During most crashes, gold and silver have outperformed the stock market. At no point is this more apparent than during the housing bubble of 2008.
From October 2007 to March 2009, the S&P 500 fell more than 55%. However, the price of gold went up by over 25% during the same period. Silver, while not as high as gold, also rose by 1%.
Throughout history, we can consistently see silver underperforming against gold during times of crisis. We will look at why this is the case a little later. We will also compare their performance over the long-term to see whether silver may be preferable to gold in certain situations.
GoldSilver’s data on the recent S&P 500 declines. Both gold and silver tend to do better than the S&P 500, but gold tends to outperform silver by quite a margin.
Gold And Silver During Normal Periods
While both gold and silver are a good investment during times of crisis, their utility as a long-term investment is debatable. gold has underperformed both the S&P 500 as well as the Dow Jones in the last 10,30, and 100 years.
However, gold has performed better than both the indexes when we look at the last 50 years only.
Over the long-term, stocks tend to outperform gold. Here, we can see that the S&P 500 (red) and the DJIA (blue) both outperform gold and silver by quite a bit over the last 100 years. Source: longtermtrends
Do remember that the chart only shows absolute returns of the stocks. If you had invested all dividends and other income from the stocks back into them, your return would be exponentially higher.
Silver, on the other hand, has underperformed both other investments by a considerable margin. As such, silver does not seem to be a worthwhile long-term investment at all.
Gold and Silver as Investments
While both gold and silver are precious metals, they behave quite differently from one another. Before you decide to invest in either of them, you must understand the key differences between the two.
Silver Performs Worse in Crashes
We mentioned previously how silver seems to perform much more in tandem with the economy as opposed to gold which rises in price during a crash. The simple reason for this is that silver is used abundantly in industry. Over half of the silver mined every year is utilized in industry.
When the economy collapses, factories often reduce their output or shut down entirely. As such, the demand for silver falls massively. This leads to silver often falling in price during a crash, despite many investors flocking to it as a safe asset.
Its properties as a conductor of heat as well as electricity, along with its reflective nature, make it ideal for many industries. Until a better alternative is found, silver will always be more volatile than gold.
Gold Has a Much Larger Supply
In absolute terms of mass, silver has a much larger supply than gold. However, due to gold’s rarity, its price is a lot higher. As such, the annual supply in USD is around 12 times larger for gold as compared to silver. That being said, physical gold has many different uses besides investing.
Due to this, it takes much less to trigger an upward or downward trend in the silver markets. Due to this, silver markets become even more volatile and often experience rapid increases or decreases.
Another important point to remember here is that due to its cheaper price, silver requires a lot more storage space than a similar amount (in USD) of gold. This increases the price of its option contracts and makes it less desirable to individuals as it cannot be efficiently stored in safe-deposit boxes.
Silver is Cheap
Despite many disadvantages, the one advantage that silver has over gold is its lower price. This means that it is easier for small-time investors to purchase certain quantities of silver as compared to gold.
Both silver and gold are often sold in the form of bricks and coins, so it is quite difficult to purchase a small amount of an expensive metal like gold. Most investors who want exposure to gold but do not have a lot of money either invest in gold ETFs or gold mining stocks.
Potential and Risks of Investing in Gold and Silver
Let’s go ahead and directly compare gold and silver to one another.
Gold has traditionally been a safe haven for investors who do not believe in the strength of the current economy. This was proven once again during the COVID-19 crisis, as gold gained more than 16% during the first half of 2020.
Due to its low volatility, high demand (which is continuously rising as the ramifications of quantitative easing become apparent), and history as the primary store hold of wealth for centuries, gold has always been a part of mainstream finance.
The Federal Reserve printed more than $3 Trillion to counteract the negative consequences of COVID-19. This has led to many investors being wary of extreme inflation in the next few years. Gold has limited supply and it usually rises as the cost of living increases.
As such, it is seen as an excellent hedge against inflation. Not only that, there seems to be an almost exact positive correlation between the price of gold in USD and the total debt limit of the US.
Gold seems to rise (in terms of USD) in near-perfect correlation to the US debt ceiling.
That said, gold has its own risks. Perhaps the biggest one is that other investment classes usually tend to outperform gold by quite a bit during bullish market conditions. If the worst is behind us, then gold will probably not fare well over the next few years.
The main advantage that you get when you own physical silver is convenience. Not only can you purchase silver quite easily, but it is also easier to offload as compared to gold. Meeting a small financial need is much easier with silver due to it being only a fraction of the price of gold.
Another important point to note is that the demand for silver is rising, both in industry as well as consumers (as investment as well as jewelry). This, coupled with the fact that most governments across the world have stopped stockpiling the metal, means that a long bull run may be coming for the metal.
Silver has been on a constant downfall in the last decade. At its highest, it hit $50/ounce. However, it finished 2019 at a very modest price of $17.83/ounce. Due to this, silver is being mined less and less each passing year. Once you couple the increase in demand with a fall in supply, it is easy to see how profitable an investment in silver could be.
However, you must not forget the risks associated with silver. Due to it being so readily available and cheap, all these factors could change in an instant. It is also important to remember that until the complete effects of COVID-19 become apparent, there is still a chance of a continued decline of industrial silver demand which may hamper its price.
Conclusion – Which is Right For You?
Right now, less than 1% of the world’s total wealth is invested in gold and silver. Even a minor increase in this percentage could have a significant impact on their prices. What is even more interesting is that the demand does seem to be gradually increasing. So much so that mining cannot keep up with it!
This means that you might see favorable returns on your investment regardless of which metal you invest in. However, the purpose of gold and silver is very different. As such, they are for people of very different mindsets.
Generally speaking, gold is for more conservative-minded investors. While it is possible to see higher returns in silver, you will need to time your exits and entries into the commodity in order to do that. Gold, on the other hand, is great for investors who want to sleep well.
Do remember that gold should only be a small part of your portfolio usually. If you begin to see a crisis looming ahead that may cause uncertainty in the markets, only then should you flock to gold before everyone else does and raises its price.
Silver is a lot more of an opportunistic investment. Due to its volatility, it can give returns that are much better than gold in certain conditions. However, silver does not tend to fare well when held for a long time.
My advice is that conservative investors who are looking to hedge their portfolio with precious metals should stick with gold. Only those who understand the world of commodities in depth should try to trade silver. Those with experience could quite possibly greatly enhance their returns if they invest in silver at the right time. Novice investors, on the other hand, will probably lack sufficient knowledge to trade it effectively.
Major investment announced for Cold Lake Fish Hatchery – The Cold Lake Sun
Provincial, local, and regional dignitaries were on hand at the Cold Lake Fish Hatchery last week, where Premiere Jason Kenney announced a $10.3 million injection to the facility as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.
The investment will mean a refurbishment that features construction of a new recirculating aquaculture system, as well as upgrades to key operating and mechanical systems. This will allow for the reuse of water during operations, which will significantly reduce utility costs and water use.
Funding for the project includes $7 million from Environment and Parks for construction of the new recirculating aquaculture system and associated infrastructure and $3.3 million from Alberta Infrastructure for installation of a new oxygen generator and replacement of the hatchery’s water head box, metal roof and motor control systems.
“These upgrades will improve the facility’s cost efficiency, as well as help it meet the highest bio-security standards – all while supporting Alberta’s economic recovery,” Kenney explained.
He added the project will create roughly 40 jobs in engineering, project management, and construction.
Built in 1986, the Cold Lake Fish Hatchery uses a “flow through” method, where water is taken from Cold Lake, heated and treated, used during fish hatchery operations and then returned to Cold Lake. A recirculating aquaculture system will generate a positive return on investment through significantly reduced utility costs. Modernizing existing operating and mechanical systems will also help improve cost efficiency.
“Alberta’s government is taking action now to get folks back to work while ensuring our province can continue to grow in the years to come,” Kenney stated. “It’s also good news for jobs and growth. Stocked fisheries generate more than $166 million each year in economic activity – much of it in smaller communities around the province. Investments in provincial fish hatcheries support the significant economic role fishing has in the province – and will get Albertans back to work.”
Kenney continued, “Alberta’s reputation as a world class destination for anglers and outdoorsmen translates to hotel rooms booked, restaurants filled, guides hired, and equipment purchased. It also is a draw for Albertans looking for a holiday close to home.”
He said the plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now – by diversifying the province’s economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth.
With the oil and gas industry’s problems and now COVID-19, he called 2020 so far “A super tough year for the province.” Pointing out the devastation that would be caused by a long-term shutdown, Kenney noted the key to getting out of the downturn is to be equally focused on saving lives, as well as livelihoods.
“In the short term, we are investing in projects to get Albertans back to work, building infrastructure that will support our economy and prosperity long into the future,” Kenney said.
The hatchery here is the only one in the province that stocks walleye, and produces about 840,000 trout per year, including rainbow, brown, tiger and brook trout, with a total fish weight of about 65,000 kilograms.
The provincial fish stocking program stocks about 2.1 million trout per year into about 240 water bodies throughout Alberta.
“That’s a better outcome for the environment, because it allows native species to recover in areas where populations have been depleted… It’s also good news for jobs and growth,” Kenney said.
“Fishing is an important part of Alberta’s cultural fabric and supports countless jobs across the province,” Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, added, noting the important role Cold Lake’s hatchery plays in the province’s overall fish stocking program.
“This past winter, Environment and Parks hosted open house events across the province to speak to Albertans directly about fisheries management. During these engagements, we heard support for an expanded fish stocking program that includes species diversification, and the resumption of walleye stocking,” he said.
“Investments in Alberta’s fish hatchery facilities will better support sustainable recreational fishing opportunities, the province’s conservation goals, and a healthy aquatic ecosystem and our economy.”
“Fishing opportunities are abundant on our beautiful area lakes and I’m proud of this investment that will help stimulate our local economy by attracting anglers from near and far, particularly as we recover from the pandemic,” David Hanson, MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, commented.
Including work already underway or completed earlier this year, investments total more than $50 million in Alberta’s four provincial fish hatcheries – the others being Raven Creek Brood Trout Station at Caroline, Allison Creek Brood Trout Station at Coleman, and the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery outside Calgary – will expand and modernize operations to support a larger, more efficient and more disease-free fish stocking program.
Why It Might Be Time to Invest in Non-U.S. Stocks – The Wall Street Journal
Foreign stocks have had a rough go of it compared with U.S. stocks over the past decade. That might be about to change.
Stocks in foreign developed markets as well as emerging markets have greatly underperformed U.S. shares for years, pushing U.S. stock valuations far above foreign valuations. Even last year, when stocks were strong world-wide, the average U.S.-stock mutual fund or exchange-traded fund rose 28%, outpacing the average international-stock fund’s 23% advance, according to Refinitiv Lipper data. This year, U.S.-stock funds were down 2.1% on average through July and international-stock funds were down 5.5%.
Now, the question is whether valuations, along with shifting global economic fundamentals, make foreign stocks an attractive investment—perhaps finally justifying the long-held advice that U.S. investors keep at least a portion of their portfolios in overseas shares or funds. Many investing professionals say the answer to that question is yes.
“If you’re investing for the next 10 years, valuations are compelling to invest overseas,” says Steven Violin, a portfolio manager at F.L.Putnam Investment Management Co. in Wellesley, Mass.
In the 10 years through July 31, the S&P 500 returned 13.84% annualized, including dividends. That compares with 5.3%, in dollar terms, for the MSCI World ex-USA Index of developed nations and 3.69%, in dollar terms, for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
That has kept U.S. stock valuations at the top of the totem pole. As of July 31, the forward price-earnings ratio, based on earnings estimates for the current fiscal year, totaled 23.84 for the S&P 500, 18.57 for the MSCI World ex-USA Index and 15.84 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, according to Morningstar Direct.
On the economic front, many countries are further along than the U.S. in emerging from coronavirus lockdowns. That has helped put some of their economies in a stronger position than the U.S., many investing pros say. Numerous countries also have adopted successful economic-stimulus plans.
Those perceived economic advantages show up in earnings forecasts. Analysts polled by
predict earnings for companies in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index will fall less than earnings for companies in the U.S. S&P 500 index this year. And emerging-markets earnings are seen rebounding more than U.S. earnings next year.
Those analysts also estimate earnings for developed-markets companies in the MSCI World ex-USA Index will drop more this year than for companies in the S&P 500—but developed-markets earnings are seen bouncing back further than U.S. profits next year.
Some investment managers are particularly enthusiastic about emerging markets, where stocks already have outperformed their U.S. counterparts over the past three months.
“With a long-term view of where the world’s growth is likely to emanate from, emerging markets is where you might like to place your bets,” says Karim Ahamed, a financial adviser at Cerity Partners in Chicago. “They have young and vibrant economies, growing faster than developed markets.”
The labor pools of emerging-markets countries should grow faster than those of developed nations—providing fuel for economic growth—because emerging-markets nations have younger populations than developed countries, he notes.
On the pandemic front, a number of emerging-markets countries have done well fighting Covid-19. “South Korea is the gold standard,” says Amanda Agati, chief investment strategist for
“This is a tailwind for emerging markets, though not every country has been perfect.”
Economic-growth numbers are stronger for important emerging markets, such as China, than for the U.S. The International Monetary Fund estimates that U.S. GDP will contract 8% this year, compared with a 3% contraction, on average, for emerging markets. Next year, the IMF expects a 4.5% rebound in the U.S., compared with a 5.9% bounceback, on average, in emerging markets.
Many developed countries, as well, are ahead of the U.S. in the coronavirus cycle. “We’re seeing signs of a potential second wave in countries like Spain and France,” Ms. Agati says. “But they’ve already proven they can deal with a temporary shutdown, whereas the U.S. is still struggling with that initial wave.”
More in Investing in Funds & ETFs
Many investment pros are impressed with the European Union’s ability to craft a €750 billion ($880 billion) fiscal stimulus package, passed last month. In the U.S., by contrast, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on another round of stimulus that most analysts think is needed to buoy the economy.
While the IMF predicts GDP will shrink more in the euro area than in the U.S. this year—10.2% to 8%—it sees a bigger recovery for the euro area than for the U.S. next year—6% to 4.5%.
Another factor that could help foreign stocks is the dollar’s weakness. The Bloomberg Spot Dollar Index slid 9% from its March 23 high through July 31. A sliding dollar makes foreign stocks more attractive for U.S. investors because foreign stocks gain value in dollar terms when the dollar is falling.
Psychology will also play a role in lifting foreign stocks compared with U.S. stocks, says Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at
“It’s almost more behavioral than fundamental,” he says. “After a decade, whatever markets led in investor expectations get high in value, and then recession resets expectations. Where expectations were highest, valuations come down the most.”
Market history has played out that way for the past 50 years, with the direction of U.S. and foreign markets flipping at the end of every economic cycle, which often last about 10 years, Mr. Kleintop says. So he anticipates foreign stocks will outpace U.S. shares for the next decade.
“There may be real value in Asian and European companies that serve the same customer base as U.S. companies but can be purchased for a lower cost,” he says.
So how should investors interested in foreign stocks allocate their money? A broad, diversified exposure to countries and industries gives investors a chance to participate in the upside of foreign stocks while potentially damping declines, analysts say.
“You don’t need to get fancy,” Mr. Kleintop says. He figures that including one broad exchange-traded fund for developed markets and one for emerging markets in a portfolio would do the trick. That would give investors a chance to tweak their weighting between the two, as emerging-markets stocks often outperform developed-markets stocks early in the economic cycle before lagging later, he says.
The two biggest developed-markets ETFs are
ETF (VEA) and
ETF (IEFA). Both funds receive Morningstar’s top rating of gold.
The two biggest emerging-markets ETFs are
ETF (VWO) and
ETF (IEMG). Both have Morningstar’s third-highest rating of bronze.
While broad ETFs offer a convenient, inexpensive option, Mr. Ahamed of Cerity Partners says a good active manager can provide more downside protection. He recommends a combination of active and passive funds.
One active mutual fund Mr. Ahamed likes is
(HLEMX), rated silver by Morningstar. “It’s conservative: quality with a growth bias,” he says. “It’s a one-stop solution.”
One issue investors face when venturing overseas is whether to hedge their currency exposure. That exposure helps when the dollar is falling—but hurts when the dollar is rising, as foreign holdings are then worth less in dollars.
Many experts recommend against hedging, because exposure to foreign currencies diversifies a portfolio, and hedging can be expensive, especially for emerging-markets currencies. “If you’re a long-term investor, being unhedged makes sense,” Mr. Ahamed says.
Either way, it’s high time to consider foreign stocks, many experts say. “Most investors faced with challenges retreat to what has worked—leaders of the last cycle,” Mr. Kleintop says. “That’s the wrong instinct. Rebalancing now [toward foreign stocks] is more important than anytime in the last decade.”
Mr. Weil is a writer in West Palm Beach, Fla. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share Your Thoughts
What role have non-U.S. funds played in your portfolio in recent years? Do you see that changing? Join the conversation below.
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