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Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 369

  • 6 August 2020
  • 1

Imagine you had perfect foresight about COVID-19 at the start of the year. You correctly foresaw that the global pandemic would kill over 700,000 among 20 million infections by August. In Australia, borders would close, cities would be locked down, most mortgagors would be on income support and companies would be allowed to trade while insolvent. You then had to guess how much the stock market would fall. Would you say about 10%?

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 368

  • 29 July 2020

Differences of opinion create a market. Technology stock buyers have been the big winners but there are plenty of sellers as it's not difficult to make a compelling argument for and against the sector. The doubters say money flowing into tech has pushed values well beyond fundamentals, while supporters say the virus has compressed years of digital progress into months. We check both sides.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 367

  • 22 July 2020
  • 1

There is a similarity between the current health crisis and economic crises of the past. For COVID-19, record amounts of biotech funding from government agencies and private companies are looking for a vaccine. Likewise, central banks once struggled treating recessions but the 'vaccine' now is record amounts of financial stimulus to ensure liquidity. While the world awaits a COVID treatment, markets are purring along, at least until side effects hit.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 366

  • 15 July 2020

The ways we think about investing are guided by several foundational texts published decades ago. One classic still read by students of markets is 'Security Analysis', continuously published for almost 90 years with the latest edition carrying a foreword by Warren Buffett. Although written by Graham and Dodd in 1934, much of it rings true now as markets remain subject to human behaviours that change little over time.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 365

  • 9 July 2020

The stock market and its many participants deserve admiration for hanging on to recent gains in the face of complete uncertainty. The S&P/ASX200 is only about 10% below its level at the start of 2020, and economic conditions and the outlook are clearly far worse. Plus Afterpay, vulnerable industries, FY20 and where to next?

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 364

  • 1 July 2020
  • 2

Australian shares had their biggest annual loss for eight years in FY20 while Wall Street just had its best quarter since 1987. Whatever happens from here, we will look back in a couple of years and say the outcome was obvious. We will either say, "Of course markets rose as governments injected unlimited liquidity, medical science found treatments and the economy rebounded" or "Of course markets fell as businesses collapsed, millions of jobs were lost forever, the virus was resilient and consumers changed forever."

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 363

  • 25 June 2020
  • 4

The stock market continues to defy most equity pundits and push through fears of ongoing recession, job losses, business closures and a second virus wave. But if there's one factor in Australia specifically that is seriously underestimated, it is the loss of stimulus from population growth and immigration.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 362

  • 18 June 2020

The biggest policy issue facing the Government over the next few months is how to phase out JobKeeper and reduce JobSeeker. While stock markets continue to ride a mood of optimism, a September withdrawal of support would create a rapid rise in unemployment with consequences for business loans, mortgages and home prices. At the same time, payment deferrals will expire, and let's hope deferrals do not become impairments.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 361

  • 10 June 2020

Legendary US fund manager Peter Lynch was an early adopter of what we might now call 'high frequency indicators'. Perhaps 'early warning signs' is better. He sat in shopping malls watching which stores people went into and what they bought. Many traditional economic indicators are out-of-date when they are released, so the market has developed early warnings which have become far more sophisticated than sitting around malls.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 360

  • 3 June 2020
  • 5

Drought, bushfires and coronavirus ... the Treasurer has admitted Australia is in a recession after the fall in the March quarter GDP, but the stock market has rallied strongly driven by the optimism of the stimulus packages. The withdrawal of up to $20,000 from superannuation is understandable for anyone struggling financially during the epidemic, but some young people have more money during this crisis than ever before in their lives.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 359

  • 27 May 2020
  • 5

We recently sold the family home we have lived in since 1989 for a high multiple of the original purchase price. Does that make us good investors? No. Did we pick a particularly fine house? No. The prices say more about our age than our skill. It simply means we live in Sydney and we allowed the investment to grow over a long time without selling any part of it. There's a powerful equity investing lesson here.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 358

  • 20 May 2020

One of the many victims of COVID-19 is Australia as a private sector, market-based economy. It's become a public-subsidised economy. Most workers are on some type of government support, and the downturn is disguised in the official numbers. Last week's unemployment rate of 6.2% is fiction, as most workers are either unemployed, paid by the government or they have given up looking for work. How do we climb out of the valley?

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After 30 years of investing, I prefer to skip this party

Eventually, prices become so extreme they bear no relationship to reality, and a bubble forms. I believe we are there today, not for all stocks but for many in the technology space.

Australian house prices: Part 2, the bigger picture

There is good reason to believe the negatives will continue to outweigh the positives over the next 12 to 18 months. There is more concern about house prices than the short-term indicators suggest.

How to handle the riskiest company results in history

It is better to miss a results bounce and buy after the company has delivered than it is to step on a landmine. With such uncertainty, avoid FOMO by following these result season investing tips.

Australian house prices: Part 1, how worried should we be?

Three key indicators are useful for predicting the short-term outlook for house prices, although tighter lockdowns make the outlook gloomier. There is enough doubt to create cause for concern.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 367

There is a similarity between the current health crisis and economic crises of the past. For COVID-19, record amounts of biotech funding from government agencies and private companies are looking for a vaccine. Likewise, central banks once struggled treating recessions but the 'vaccine' now is record amounts of financial stimulus to ensure liquidity. While the world awaits a COVID treatment, markets are purring along, at least until side effects hit.

  • 22 July 2020

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 369

Imagine you had perfect foresight about COVID-19 at the start of the year. You correctly foresaw that the global pandemic would kill over 700,000 among 20 million infections by August. In Australia, borders would close, cities would be locked down, most mortgagors would be on income support and companies would be allowed to trade while insolvent. You then had to guess how much the stock market would fall. Would you say about 10%?

  • 6 August 2020

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