Category: Commodities


Cryptocurrency the Asset Class of the Future


By William Je, CEO Hamilton Investment Management Ltd

It is a safe statement to make that many financial institutions have in recent years, been torn as to whether cryptocurrencies are an asset class. Analysts are polarised. This is unsurprising as, over time, cryptocurrency went from being widely seen as a conduit for money laundering into a serious proposition for investors. And it’s not just the novices that’ve hopped on board with the cryptocurrency hype, even large, established companies, including the likes of PayPal, which have in turn dabbled with the digital currency as a genuine form of payment.

Major banks have also been rushing to set up crypto-related operations recently, with Morgan Stanley and Bank of America establishing a crypto-focused research division. State Street announced the launch of a dedicated digital finance division. JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are also rolling out crypto trading services.

An asset is anything of value or a resource of value that can be converted into cash. Traditionally, an asset can often generate cashflows: stocks provide dividends, bonds provide coupons, loans provide interests. However, there are assets that do not really produce cashflows but still being considered as an important asset class.

Gold has long been considered to be an important asset class. It has very limited industrial usage and does not really generate cashflows. It is only collective thinking that gold is valuable that makes it so. In fact, this also applies to any fiat currency. After all, money is only a credit that a currency’s user gives to the issuer. For a currency to thrive, trust is the most important factor. The issuer of fiat currencies are sovereign entities which are deemed to be the most trustworthy. If there is a currency or economic crisis that the people do not trust the government, the value of the fiat currency will drop significantly. 

So, an asset’s value will depend on the collective believe and trust of the people dealing with it. It is still at an early stage to conclude that investors believe and trust in the value of cryptocurrency, but the trend is definitively positive.

Throughout the course of history, we have become accustomed to recognising ‘traditional’ asset classes. Many investors regard cash and equivalents, bonds, and stocks as conventional financial investing’s big three. However, ever since the rise to prominence of cryptocurrency – a decentralised means of digital currency – many have started to question, should cryptocurrency be regarded as an asset class? This debate is as important as ever, considering that legislators and policymakers ponder upon taxing crypto in line with other assets in the midst of a tax war we’re witnessing. Currently in the US Congress, rules on tax on constructive and wash sales are being debated. Presently, only traditional asset classes such as bonds are stocks are subject to these rules, but there has been controversy about whether commodities, and digital assets should be considered.

In recent times, society has done a tremendous job of selling us on the idea that replacing our hard-earned cash with virtual currency is a good idea, and for good reason too. It does not take too much research to see that SMEs, family run businesses, corporates, asset managers and more are all investing in the crypto market. There is, however, a hurdle of learning new terminologies and understanding a new process.

As a result, many people shy away from dealing with it. This can seem daunting and is certainly a barrier to entry for some. However, it isn’t a reason to ignore what could potentially be an immensely fruitful asset pot. Professionals must now start to change their perspective on cryptocurrency, particularly in relation to what institutional investors consider to be an asset class and adapt processes to enable us to deal with cryptocurrency more effectively. Gone are the days of solely dealing with traditional assets. We all know that there are an enormous number of crypto assets now available and certainly the pandemic appears to have played a key role in driving increasing demand from both retail and institutional investors.

It’s not a secret that Bitcoin is the most valued – and thereby attractive – cryptocurrency on the market. Experts have largely accredited this by way of its scarcity, drastically leveraging its general understanding as an asset class. Bitcoin in particular benefits from investor confidence because of its snowballing popularity. Just as people in society believe in the value of diamonds because others believe in it, cryptocurrency shares this artificial value.

This further accentuates the power of supply and demand to dictate price. As hype is artificially created as a societal construct, it causes people to blindly jump on the bandwagon. When combining this with our excessive need to want what we can’t have; the forbidden fruit principle, it’s only to be expected that the price of Bitcoin is so high.

Bitcoin was the first scarce digital asset ever created. Imagine that – a digital product with a fixed total supply of 21 million coins. For new coins to come into circulation its new supply is cut in half every four years through a “halving” mechanism, until all 21 million coins are mined. As a result, it is estimated that only 18 million coins have been mined to date. Of those some believe that 5 million are technically lost, 10 million stored in long-term cold storage, and close to 3 million on exchanges. Mankind has always based the value of a currency on this concept of scarcity – that is why precious metals have been the backbone of many economies for centuries.

The growth in the number of cryptocurrencies is changing all of this and the faith put in them by investors is driving confidence in them as an asset class. If investors continue to believe in the value of gold because others believe in it, it will remain an asset.  The difference with cryptocurrencies today, and gold of the past is therefore minimal.

But what is driving that faith, and what is underpinning the huge increases in the value of cryptocurrencies? Well maybe it has less to do with the currency itself and more to do with its ability to store value in relation to other asset classes. Widespread social adoption together with its privacy, security and transferability make cryptocurrencies an important asset class to store values. Maybe it’s time for a bit of a backward glance and look to recent history to explain this. Since 2008 and the unleashing of quantitative easing, there has been an undoubted period of price inflation. And yet if you look to the balance sheets of many central banks one thing stands out – global currencies have depreciated.

Cryptocurrencies don’t follow the same rules as fiat currencies, or even secured assets, instead things tend to get complicated.  Given a cryptocurrency does not generate or support cashflow, it needs to be valued against potential – and critically – future prices. That then opens the door to several different valuation methods and guess what – our old friend gold is back. Amongst the differing valuation models now available – the stock-to-flow method, institutional participation method, and high-net worth participation method – we find the gold valuation method. But let’s not forget this is a new asset class so we would expect investors will consider a range of valuation methodologies to estimate future value. This is, however, not risk free. It is a new asset class, and one that does not exist physically. It is not gold as we are repeatedly saying. Risks do exist and they are well known, and some would argue substantial. We are firm believers that the industry needs to face into – and support – government initiatives around regulation.

But this is not the only risk associated with cryptocurrencies. Swings in the wider macroeconomic environment, risk associated with the technology backbone – everything from electricity supply to bad faith actors, and even an ever-more vocal and powerful economic, social, and corporate governance framework – ESG as it is known. All of which add to the potential risk for crypto as an asset class in its own right.

El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as its national currency, allowing people to use a digital wallet to pay for everyday goods. Many countries are considering to issue their own central bank digital currencies. All these have been telling of cryptocurrencies’ future potential in line with an asset class.

The key question remains; should institutional investors dive in and is it in fact a dedicated new asset class?

The primary reason why some don’t regard cryptocurrency as an asset class is because it’s unclear regulatory environment and high volatility. However, more and more institutional investors use cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and currency debasement, and to diversify their portfolios in the pursuit of higher risk-adjusted returns. Over time, institutional investors have been more inclined to consider cryptocurrency as new asset class

Bitcoin is the most famous, most written about and most volatile of the many cryptocurrencies now on the market. Given the number of methodologies available to value not only it, but all digital assets, if anything, institutional interest is only just beginning.

This is without doubt, a new asset class and one that will increasingly gain acceptance and participation of institutional investors as time goes on.

It may not be physical gold, but it could very well be digital gold.


Success Never Tasted So Sweet – Expand Your MIND and Your ASSETS


Scotch whisky is a symbol of British craftsmanship and tradition, of durability and reliability. And though it hasn’t been around for ever, it has been recognised throughout history. Its documented story begins in 1494, and tax records of the day show that a friar acquired eight bolls – about 2,500lbs – of malted barley, “wherewith to make aqua vitae”.

Although distillation processes may have changed over time, the value of this commodity has been driven by demand and maturation. As global appreciation of whisky has flourished, people are gradually discovering that limited edition and maturing casks from the most globally renowned distilleries could bring in top returns for those willing to hold their investment.


Why Whisky and Why Now?

The global landscape of investments has changed dramatically in recent years, with the general public now having a greater ability to take trading in to their own hands and invest and trade in a range of commodities through online platforms and investment advisors. Technology has led the way in a virtual environment to allow people to discover new and interesting markets which have previously not been explored. This being said, 2020 has also demonstrated the global volatility of stock markets and poor returns on extremely low interest rates, driving them to discover ways to diversify their asset portfolios.

A way of mitigating the risk of investments is to purchase luxury commodities which appreciate in price over the years. It has become increasingly common for people to invest in classic cars, coins, watches and artwork whilst other commodities have not been considered as viable investment opportunities. However, it is now becoming more apparent than ever that assets which have previously been considered as merely a consumer goods, have great potential for long term investors. One such luxury commodity is whisky, which has previously been washed away for our own satisfaction, is now showing great potential as an investment asset. Additionally, whisky is a tax-free asset which other traditional financial assets fail to offer investors.

Firstly, like fine wine, demand outstrips supply. Whisky that is collectible is also in demand for consumers, so a substantial proportion of any limited edition bottling will swiftly become much more limited as much of it is consumed by dedicated whisky lovers. Whisky is bottled after a period of maturation in oak barrels. Legally, this is a minimum of 3 years, but in practice, most whiskies are matured for a minimum of 8 years in order for them to develop their character.

Distilleries will usually have a ‘house style’ represented by a mass-produced bottling of a relatively young malt (such as Glenmorangie’s popular 10 year old). But they will also have older whiskies maturing at the distillery, and they can also bottle older whiskies such as a 15 or 21 year old. They might also bottle the product of a particular cask of vintage whisky, or they might offer different expressions of the whisky such as a ‘port wood finish’ or ‘sherry wood finish’ which means that in addition to being aged in traditional Bourbon barrels, the whisky has been ‘finished’ with a period of additional ageing in a port or sherry barrel which can impart different flavours. These different expressions of the whisky and older malts are the ones that are of interest to investors – production is limited, they are highly prized by collectors and consumers alike. Whiskies from some distilleries are much more collectible than others, so it is important to do due diligence on what will be desirable in the marketplace in a few years’ time when you seek to sell your whiskies on.

As with any investment, it is extremely important to make sure you’re in the best hands and have access to the best platforms in order for your investment to flourish. It is therefore imperative that investors have access to well-known distilleries which already have a reputation for investable whisky. This includes famous Scottish whiskies such as Macallan, Dalmore and Springbank, all of which Elite Wine& Whisky has strong relationships with. The collectability and rarity of whiskies is extremely important when considering investing in whisky and hence choosing the right distillery and age of cask or bottle is important when investing.


Whisky Market in 2020

In the last year, there was an extraordinary increase of between 15-20% on rare whisky bottle values, ensuring that it outperformed the established alternative asset investments such as watches, art and cars. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed some incredible whisky sales, including the following: An individual bottle of Macallan 1926 broke records at auction, selling for £1.5 million. In 2018, over £40.7m of rare whisky was sold at auction houses in the UK alone. A cask of Macallan distilled in 1989 sold for $572,000 last year – a record price for a maturing cask of whisky.

The Whisky Cask Index, a study generated by Cask 88, Braeburn Whisky and, has shown steady growth across the previous year, as well as the rate at which casks appreciate annually being on the rise. This appreciating rate can be attributed to the positive impact of both the maturity of the whisky, as well as a response to the increasing demand as whisky supply is sold in to a more diverse range of global markets.


Comparison with Other Investments

Comparisons are made between the whisky cask market and other luxury commodities; however there are many features of whisky which make it unique. It is therefore challenging to analyse the market without considering variable factors, such as the characteristics of the cask that make it one of a kind. The complexity is also enhanced by the fact that, unlike a piece of art, or a collectible bottle of already-bottled whisky, the value of casks is not only dependent on demand, but also the maturation of the cask. Therefore a cask purchased this year will effectively become a new product as the years pass.

The Whisky Cask Index demonstrates the projected values of a sample of twenty casks from a variation of distilleries across the globe with varying age profiles. It is worth noting that in spite of the global pandemic which impacted the economy during early 2020, the Whisky Cask Index has remained optimistic, and even shown growth. In this data analysis not a single distillery index showed negative returns over the past 5 years, which is able to confirm that the market is relatively robust to negative impacts on the global economy.


Top 10 Distilleries

Overall Annual Capital Growth in this study across all distilleries and regions as of June 2020 demonstrated a 13% increase in value. This has further been broken down by distillery in order to understand the highest achieving distilleries by capital growth. The top 10 distilleries by capital growth are as follows; Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Staoisha, Macallan, Highland Park, Caol ILA, Springbank, Benriach, Bowmore and Jura.

It is extremely positive that no single Scottish distillery demonstrated a negative index in capital growth. Projections ranged from a predicted annual capital growth of 5.13% for a small Scottish distillery, Ardmore, to larger scale popular distilleries such as Laphroaig and Macallan, which both show projected returns approaching 20% per annum.

The top distillery by predicted annual growth is Laphroaig, in which demand is continually increasing past supply. The following two distilleries in the league table are both located in Islay, with both Bunnahabhain and Staoisha showcasing the popularity of this region. In terms of distillery territories, it is worth noting that whisky produced on Scottish islands dominate the top ten in the capital growth league table with only Macallan, Springbank and BenRiach representing mainland distilleries in this comparative list.


2021 Trends

As the whisky market grows and expands into new and established markets, it has been predicted that demand will therefore align with this growth and therefore will require supply to also increase. With increased worldwide demand of whisky, the value of whisky in casks will only increase, in particular more aged whisky, along with the value of whisky produced in 2020 and 2021 during the global pandemic due to the closures of distilleries which meant that there was reduced supply. It is therefore no surprise that name brand whiskies distilled in 2020 or 2021 will see an acceleration in growth due to the lack of availability over this time frame and increased demand making it highly investible whisky.

Recent data collated this year has been reflective of the trends which have been witnessed in the whisky market over the past few years, with extremely reassuring outcomes. This is particularly noticeable in the fact that the aforementioned whisky index did not record any negative returns throughout the period of the study. The projected annual capital growth across the distilleries is expected to continue in to 2021.

If growth continues at a comparable rate, the data suggests that investments made in to casks from one of the top ten distilleries, which Elite Wine & Whisky has access to, could see their investment double in value over the next 5 years. In times of great uncertainty, these findings provide great prospects for future days ahead.


How to invest in whisky

Whether or not you’re a passionate whisky drinker, taking the plunge in to whisky investment is extremely simple with the help of a financial expert who can educate investors in their investment. Once you have all the tools to make a well informed choice, the returns can be just as fruitful as the drinking.


Changing the Game: Looking at the Benefits of Alternative Cryptocurrencies


By Sergei Grigoriev, Executive Director, Eurotrader

With the popularity of cryptocurrency reaching a fever pitch, its development has also attracted new contenders within the trading sphere.

Virtual payments have made numerous impressions on global headlines. News networks were set ablaze following triggers such as Elon Musk’s influence on the market and reports of an investor losing millions in Bitcoin, to name a few. It therefore comes as no surprise that attention is focused heavily on the commodity.

However, despite Bitcoin being the most popular name in the crypto sphere – and having the highest valuation – there is a range of lucrative currencies existing in a growing market, each with its own benefits and downsides.

This article explores some of the benefits of emerging cryptocurrencies and the key considerations for finding the right investment.


The attraction of cryptocurrency

Much like its blockchain host, cryptocurrency boasts cybersecurity credentials that make it an attractive investment.

This ‘trustless’ style of investment reduces risk, as no bank, building society or financial adviser holds the stock for you. And despite stories of people throwing away their crypto fortunes, there isn’t any physical currency to be concerned about – significantly reducing the risk of theft or fraud that comes with traditional currencies.

Cryptocurrencies also offer another significant pull for investors: they require no middleman. While trading platforms charge fees to trade, withdraw and settle money, these are minimal compared with the hefty fees charged by other investments, like currency conversion costs.

The speed of cryptocurrency trading is also a selling point. Transactions are seamless, instant and secure, with blockchains also lessening the need for a paper trail and helping to guard you against fraud.


Delving deeper into the market

Bitcoin leads the cryptocurrency market in almost every department. Its popularity and value are currently unrivalled, with a market cap hovering around the $1 trillion mark.

With that said, Ethereum’s sudden surge to prominence shouldn’t be taken lightly, showing that even newcomers can quickly make waves in the market. With a market cap of $500 billion, Ethereum isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

Since Bitcoin’s launch in 2009, the creation of competing digital currencies has been steadily increasing, with a sudden boom in recent years. In terms of their functionality and operation, most alternative currencies differ wildly from Bitcoin. However, some have similar qualities to the current main player.

For example, Ethereum uses the same blockchain ledger as Bitcoin, with similar benefits. However, the system itself is geared to prioritise speed of transfer, with a different operating system that sets it apart from Bitcoin.

On the other hand, Litecoin is far more similar to Bitcoin. As its name implies, it’s a ‘lighter’ version of the reigning crypto king, however, it also offers more impressive transfer speeds.

Some cryptocurrencies run on independent, alternative systems. For example, Ripple is a centralised crypto platform, notably used for global monetary exchange, intending to make these transactions cheaper and faster than traditional international bank transfers. 

Cryptocurrencies typically aim to remove themselves from the moderation of centralised governments and geopolitical market fluctuations – however, Ripple is an exception, as its most common use is by banks and other intermediaries.


The cons of engaging with smaller currencies

Bitcoin is the most established market player by almost every available metric. This can make it difficult for even innovative new cryptocurrencies, offering unique benefits, to break into the market.

This is helped by the fact that it was the first successful and widespread digital currency. Because of its unprecedented growth – and an established blockchain ledger, accessible to all – Bitcoin boasts the largest user base and offers the highest potential prices and rewards on investment.

It’s because of this dominance in the market that alternative currencies struggle to match Bitcoin in size or surpass it in growth.


Importance of diversification

With Bitcoin pricing many budding traders out of the market, there are plenty of attractive alternative investments available. It’s simply about identifying the right investment. However, this is more challenging than ever, for both experienced investors and first-time traders alike.

It’s important to understand the unique benefits offered by each currency. For example, those opting for advanced scalability and an intensively secure network will likely turn their attention to Ethereum.

Ethereum’s decentralised ledger is valued for its impressive security, relying on two separate verification processes, Smart Contracts and ‘dApps’.

Smart Contracts are functions that support safe and secure transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Their specific code and data functions mean payments can only be processed when certain criteria are met. 

It’s often said that Smart Contracts behave like vending machines. A combination of money and an inputted code allows users to access the digital currency, without the need for third-party intervention or transaction management.

Similarly, decentralised applications, or ‘dApps’, are also at the heart of Ethereum’s operation. These are ordinary applications that operate on a decentralised server, like the blockchain, and are defined by smart contracts. Importantly, they allow users to engage with the front-end interface in a way that is intuitive, secure and user-friendly.

Other Bitcoin alternatives offer further unique benefits. Litecoin, for example, is incredibly scalable and efficient. It boasts impressive speeds, with transactions up to four times faster than Bitcoin.

Litecoin is also growing in popularity, as well as being cheaper than Bitcoin – appealing to particular sectors of the trading market that are geared for small, plentiful and rapid trades.


Knowing what is right for you

To find the right investment, it’s advised to produce a checklist of what you want to achieve from your investment, as well as defining how much risk you’re willing to incur.

It’s impossible to simply declare a single cryptocurrency as ‘the best investment’. Defining your ambitions and goals as a trader first helps narrow your potential investments into a viable portfolio of assets. 

Over the last decade, the range of accessible cryptocurrencies has boomed, giving traders more autonomy in their choices. 

That being said, an alternative to directly investing in a single cryptocurrency is to trade CFDs. Instead of owning an asset, you speculate on market movements. If you correctly predict a market rise or fall, you may be able to earn money.

The growing number of crypto contenders, combined with the growing interest in cryptocurrencies, makes crypto CFD trading a suitable alternative to those who are following the market and are interested by different crypto currencies.

This heightened interest has led to more CFD trading platforms and retail brokers offering cryptocurrency trading pairs. Traders can trade crypto-fiat pairings, such as Bitcoin Cash USD (BCHUSD) without the need for a crypto wallet or ownership of cryptos themselves. 

However, no matter your experience level or route you decide to take, research is key. In addition to analysing the fundamental nature of each currency, it’s important to understand how to build and manage a portfolio. Cryptos with different growth triggers can help diversify your portfolio and hedge against crashes, giving you peace of mind over your finances.

If you’re unsure, working with a professional can help you better understand the market, putting your mind at ease over the risks and rewards of your investments.

ArticlesCommoditiesMarketsStock Markets

How To Get Your Hands On Cryptocurrency


All you have to do is check out the news to realise that cryptocurrency is growing in popularity. As it continues its ascent, it’ll only become more and more in demand, meaning that those who want to get their hands on it may face an increasingly uphill battle.

Fortunately, you don’t have to fight anyone off to get yourself involved with the cryptocurrency market. There are tons of ways to jump into the market and make your mark with something like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

For a list of the best avenues to explore, you’ll want to check out the five suggestions outlined below.



The first thing you might think to do when trying to get hold of cryptocurrency is to buy it. However, how good of an idea this is generally depends on what a currency is worth at the time.

It’s not uncommon for them to be incredibly expensive nowadays, especially when talking about Bitcoin. Given the growing presence of cryptocurrency, the prices keep reaching new heights, which isn’t ideal for someone looking to get involved with this for the first time.

If you are going to buy, you’ll probably want to start by getting cheaper currencies through a crypto exchange. Anything that’s not Bitcoin ought to be relatively easy to acquire, although depending on the exchange service you use, it might take a few weeks for the purchase to be verified.



As cryptocurrency continues to amass interest, more and more projects are surfacing that expand and enhance the market. Getting involved with these projects in the early days is an excellent way for you to start building up your online wallet, as you earn tokens for doing some of the simplest tasks.

Merely downloading an app or following certain social media accounts can net you this reward because you’re helping the project gain notoriety. You’re ensuring that there’s a community around it before it hits the market, which is essential for its success. So, by doing your part, you can earn tokens that can later be traded or sold.

Microtasks, or bounties, are similar to this, although the tasks required of you are a little more advanced. Here, you might be expected to write a testimonial or film a review before earning a reward.



For a more interesting way to get your hands on cryptocurrency, you can always give competitions a try. These generally involve you playing games for the chance to win something like Bitcoin while also having fun in the process.

Although this might seem too good to be true, it’s a legit and straightforward way of getting free cryptocurrency. If you play with Traders Of Crypto you don’t have to worry about giving away any personal information that may put you at risk. All you’ve gotta do is provide an email address, and then you can start competing.

The games range from trying to be the best trader each month to identifying bugs in code, and they’re sure to make the hunt for cryptocurrency that extra bit more interesting.


Crypto Payments

If you have an e-commerce business, one opportunity that’s open to you is accepting cryptocurrency payments when someone makes a purchase. In addition to options like credit card and Paypal, you can also allow users to buy your stock using a variety of cryptocurrency options.

What currency you can accept will largely depend on the platform your e-commerce business uses. Some sites, like Shopify, are incredibly flexible and allow for payments using several hundred different types of cryptocurrency. So, if you’re not fussy about what you get your hands on, this can be a good place to set yourself up.



To those not in the know about cryptocurrency, mining for an online currency might not make a lot of sense. However, what this actually means is that you use your computer to solve complex equations that validate what you’re mining for.

Again, this is an area where Bitcoin can be problematic for a first-timer, as the equipment required to mine this currency is incredibly expensive. You need a lot of high-end tech to be successful with this endeavour, something that you may not be willing to purchase.

Fortunately, other currencies like Ethereum and Monexo don’t have such demands and can easily be done through a more standard computer. Just be aware that mining can use up a lot of power, so the costs to you will differ depending on the price of electricity in your area, as well as the efficiency of your equipment.

It might not always be stable, but it’s clear that cryptocurrency is definitely going to play a significant role in the future. If you want to have a part in that, getting your hands on some of it now through one of these varied ways could prove advantageous.

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CommoditiesFX and Payment

The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

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The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

This unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

‘Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

John Kicklighter at DailyFX has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about gold:

1. Will the Federal Reserve System capitulate on policy tightening?

Gold is often seen as a credibility default swap on central banks and governments, and a further reverse course of Federal Reserve Monetary Policy in 2019 or beyond could help gold shine for investors.

2. Will inflation bring back the factor that gold has historically rallied behind?

Gold has long been praised as an effective hedge in times of inflation, and more so, times of hyper-inflation when prices skyrocket out of control. While that seems unlikely, an unexpected jump in general prices could align with a resurgence in the gold price. 

3. Could governments spiral out of control, leading to a hedge in gold as a haven amidst the political chaos?

Amidst noise and fears that the leaders of the state have lost their way is typically when gold does best. A recent example was the US Government shut down in 2011 when Gold traded near $2,000/oz. Recent Trade War rhetoric and other geopolitical themes seem to be fertile ground for gold investors.

4. Will central banks further ramp up gold purchases to hedge their Fiat Currency Reserves?

In late 2018 Eastern European central banks boosted their gold holdings following other purchases made by Russian and Chinese central banks as a source of stability. Estimates state that central banks hold 20% of all gold ever mined.

5. Could a bear market in stocks lead to the long-awaited boost in gold prices?

The rally in stocks since 2009 has not been kind to Gold, except at the start when the longevity of the stock market rally was in doubt. With the SPX500 near record highs and overall stock market volatility still low. Gold has had little reason to rise as a hedge, but a shock decrease in stocks and higher in volatility could give gold bulls the jolt they’ve long been without.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit:

Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)CommoditiesFX and PaymentStock Markets

Top five things you need to know about commodities


Top five things you need to know about commodities


Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

This unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

‘Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

John Kicklighter, Chief Currency Strategist at DailyFX, has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about commodities:

1. Will the US-China trade war lead to trade peace and synchronous growth to help commodities?

The US-China trade war is seen globally as a hindrance to growth, and as such, a hindrance to the demand for commodities. The International Monetary Fund warned governments to be  “very careful” and that the global economy remains vulnerable, and presumably, so do commodities until the issue is sorted out.

2. Will the US dollar strength continue and continue to suppress commodity price gains?

Since commodities are priced in US Dollars, a stronger USD as evidenced by the 6% gain in the US Dollar Index since the start of 2018 has had a positive impact on commodity price gains.

3. Will inflation pop up to increase the demand for commodities as a value store?

The lack of inflation has baffled central bankers and kept speculative buyers of commodities at bay.

4. Could a renewed China stimulus plan give industrial metals like copper the price boost and reverse weak sentiment?

Chinese stimulus via credit growth and top-down building projects have helped commodities in recent years find renewed demand, and the hope among commodity buyers is that there is more stimulus left in the tank.

5. Will US manufacturing turn around after falling at the start of 2019 to also lift commodities’ outlook?

A significant reading of the US Manufacturing Sector, the Institute of Supply Management recently touched the weakest levels since 2016 alongside Chinese Manufacturing weakness that has heavily weighed on commodities in general and especially metals like copper.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit:

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite

New Research Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite

With growth and inflation expectations notably higher after new U.S. payroll data, investors have cut cash holdings and increased exposure to equities, real estate and alternative investments.

The percentage of asset allocators overweight equities rose significantly by 17 points to a net 43%, while lowering cash overweights to their lowest level since July. Four-fifths of panelists now expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates during the current quarter.

Confidence in the global economy rebounds, with net expectations of it strengthening in the next 12 months up 22 percentage points from October. 

Concerns over a slowdown in China abate, as local fund managers turn neutral on the country’s growth outlook – their most positive reading in more than a year. 

Eurozone and Japan strengthen as the most favored equity markets globally, reflecting deeper consensus on the U.S. dollar. A net 67% now expect the currency to appreciate in the next year. 

Real estate and alternative investment overweights rise to their second-highest readings in the survey’s history. In contrast, aggressive underweights on commodities and Global Emerging Markets are maintained.

“With consensus very clustered in QE and strong dollar trades, asset price upside appears limited until an ‘event’ curtails the Fed hiking cycle, as in 1994,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

“While European equities are loved by global investors and the ECB has created some excitement about growth, sector positioning shows local asset managers are lacking conviction and hugging their benchmarks,” said Manish Kabra, head of European quantitative strategy.

Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020

Oilfield Services Market Worth $144 Billion by 2020

The market report defines and segments the oilfield services market with analysis and forecast of the global E&P revenue and applications. It also identifies driving and restraining factors for the oilfield services market, with a comprehensive analysis on trends, opportunities, burning issues, and winning imperatives.

The global oil and gas production has increased over the last five years from 81.149 Million barrels per day in 2009 to 88.673 Million barrels per day in 2014. This has led to the supply for oil & gas exceeding its demand which has ultimately caused a decline in the prices of crude oil during the last six months of 2014.

This reduction mainly impacted the upstream exploration and production (E&P) activities. Consequently, the oil and gas operators have reduced their capital expenditure outlook for 2015 citing concerns over low profit margins. However, the expected increase in production from petroleum rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the U.S. has resulted in higher demand for production based services.

The pressure pumping segment occupied the largest market share, by value, in 2014 owing to high usage of hydraulic fracturing in North America’s shale gas activities. Among application, onshore is used more as offshore applications are expensive. The cost factor is highly crucial in deciding the feasibility of any oilfield service activity, especially during a low crude oil price environment.

North America is the largest market for oilfield services. The region has been experiencing rapid increase in its oil and gas production levels since the last 10 years and accounted for more than 45% of the total market in 2014. This is largely due to two factors viz. the production from unconventional shale plays and the deep-water production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The technological advancement along with the experience in producing from unconventional formations has boosted the domestic production in this region. The region is expected to grow further during the forecast period, which can be attributed to the continued production related activities within the region.

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Copper Slump as Price Plummets

Copper Slump as Price Plummets

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The London Metal Exchange has reported a drop in the price of copper as Greek economy fears and lower than predicted purchases by the Chinese cause price crash. The speculation has left the price of the metal at 5723.00 US dollars per ton today, with the last month seeing a low of 5,642.50 US dollars per ton on Monday 22nd June.

Wood Mackenzie analysed the issue in February and cited numerous worldwide social and economic factors as key to the slump in price that has been taking place since the start of this year: ‘The fall in the oil price at the end of 2014 was clearly the initial trigger, compounded by the collapse of the Russian rouble, slowing growth in China, Japanese recession, the Greek elections and further signs of weakness within the European economy.’

Greece, a major importer of copper, has been holding tough negotiations on the repayment of their vast debts and faces problems with staying in the European Union, leaving them with an uncertain economic future. Another major factor could be the strike at Chile’s copper mine Collahuasi, with workers caught in a fierce dispute with the mine’s managers over working conditions.

 China, a global force in the imports market, reduced their importing of copper, with many speculating that this was due possibly to necessary smelting machinery maintenance. The acquisition of Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, which is held in majority by Chinese state owned firm Minmetals, highlights China’s commitment to the purchase of the metal and its use in construction, but recent predictions expect them to produce more copper than expected in a new contract with MMG.



Demands of the  Digital Consumer

Demands of the Digital Consumer

The evolution of consumer expectations as a result of the digital revolution has drastically altered their approach to financial services according to new research by IRESS, the leading supplier of wealth management, financial markets and mortgage systems.

IRESS’ report “Data, Disruption and the Digital Consumer” highlights the level of pre-purchase research undertaken by consumers. 80% of consumers surveyed online now conduct research before making a significant purchase or investment decision. This is largely due to the impact that price comparison sites have had, as 52% of consumers use them, 60% trust them and 33% say that they have had a positive impact on them personally. Company websites are the next most popular method (49%) to research products while 19% use peer review websites and 29% say that they use a specialist website.

• 80% of consumers now conduct research when making significant purchases or investments, with online crucial
• Despite this, consumers less likely to secure complex products unassisted online
• Consumers believe financial services lags behind other industries (retail and music lead) in technology adoption
• Consumers call for single view of all their financial information and improved security
• A quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice

The Online Opportunity
Despite the research consumers are undertaking online, their comfort in making online unassisted decisions is inconsistent across financial services. While 56% of people in the online survey had carried out a bank account transaction online, consumers are less likely to implement more complex product decisions or make transactions with longer lasting impacts without using any other channels. For instance, just 2% have secured a retirement product solely via the internet, 3% have secured a mortgage while only 9% have invested in stocks, shares or funds. However, there is clearly appetite for greater online access, with almost one third of people saying they would feel comfortable securing a mortgage solely online (30%) or investing in stocks and shares or funds (31%). The gap to be filled here would seem to be providing some level of assistance or scaled advice.

More than two thirds of consumers (68%) were positive on the impact of technology in their interactions with financial services firms. However, it is clear that the industry has more progress to make. When asked which industry had embraced technology the most in the last five years, nearly a quarter (23%) stated retail, with music a distant second at 12%. Financial services scored lower, with 9%.

There are clearly innovations that consumers need and would like to see implemented. Nearly a quarter of people (23%) said they would like the ability to view their financial world – bank accounts, mortgages, investments, insurance – in one place. The joint most popular response was increased security through the use of biometrics, which 23% of people said was one of the innovations that they would most like to see. Fully integrated customer service options across phone, online, social media and text (18%) was the next most popular prospective advance.

The Future Shape of Advice
Financial advice remains an important service for many people. Overall, a quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to pay for professional financial advice, with this figure rising steeply for those with higher incomes (42% of respondents with a household income of more than £60,000). There are clearly online opportunities for efficiently delivering this advice to a wider audience. However, when it comes to planning how much to save for future retirement, almost half (44%) of consumers still prefer the reassurance of face to face advice with an adviser – clearly, digital is to form part of a ‘menu’ of advice options.

Simon Badley, Managing Director (UK), IRESS, commented: “Digitalisation has meant the needs and demands of consumers has undergone a seismic shift in the last decade. Financial Services companies need to do more to match the consumer experience and engagement expectation and build more trust from the digital consumer. Without innovation from established companies, the industry will be more prone to disruption.

“Regulatory change and in particular the pensions freedoms have highlighted a need for access to financial advice but the solution will not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This research has shown that many consumers still want face to face advice when planning for retirement yet will happily make financial decisions online in other scenarios. The future is undoubtedly multi-channel.”

The report has also led IRESS to the development of five key foundations:
• Unify engagement via multiple financial advice options ranging from full advice, scaled or guided advice and self-service.
• Simple and secure multi-channel engagement and customer support will help consumers switch between channels based on advice need or assistance in real-time.
• Integration of research and advice functions into digital models to take advantage of the high level of online research already being conducted on financial decisions
• Provision of simple but detailed information and guidance online via semi-automated prompts for people to utilise when researching, selecting or altering products
• Leverage technology to provide consumers with a consolidated single view of their overall financial position, ensuring consistency between channels.

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?

Will Big Tobacco Become Big Marijuana?

Bud Genius, Inc., a leading laboratory for cannabis testing and profiling, developer of data-driven rating systems for marijuana strains, brand and retail development specialist, and licensee of celebrity-endorsed marijuana-related merchandise, commented today on an article in USA Today, which examined the potential role of major tobacco companies in the cannabis industry.

“At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

“Many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market,” the article stated. “At marijuana business conventions and in private conversations, it sometimes seems like everyone has heard a rumor about Big Tobacco getting in.”

Angel Stanz, CEO of Bud Genius says the corporate giants are inevitable and very few companies will survive the incursion regardless of whether they are publicly traded or privately held. “The one thing that the big tobacco companies will need is data, which they do not have and currently cannot collect. Multinational corporations base their marketing, brand positioning, and product management on data. This includes detailed demographics of their consumers and how attributes of each product appeal to them,” he said. “As the company with the largest combination of quantitative and qualitative data regarding cannabis strain composition and specific consumer interests, I believe that the day the tobacco companies enter the cannabis market is the day that our company value soars.”

In a June 2014 paper titled, “Waiting for the Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization,” researchers Rachel Ann Barry, Heikki Hiilamo and Stanton Glantz wrote: “Since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana and marijuana legalization as both a potential and a rival product… As public opinion shifted and governments began relaxing laws pertaining to marijuana criminalization, the tobacco companies modified their corporate planning strategies to prepare for future consumer demand.”

Stanz thinks this level of competition will be good for the cannabis industry and will keep businesses innovating. “Big tobacco will cause a catastrophic thinning of the herd. Smart companies are acting now to position themselves with unique intellectual property. For example, the tobacco industry is built on brands — Are you the cowboy or the jazz guy? However, these outdated brands will not work in the cannabis industry,” Stanz commented. “The three biggest brand names in the marijuana industry, one of which we recently announced, are beginning down the path of carving out market share and creating market dominance,” he added. “We view the eventual competition from the tobacco industry as building immense value in our data and stimulating the value of name brands – an area where we hold the industry’s brightest star.”

Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential

Why Current Energy Prices Will Not Impact UK Shale Potential

To put this potential find in perspective, the entire North Sea production over the last 4 decades is around 45 billion barrels, and the world’s largest oil reserve, Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar, produced an estimated 65 billion barrels of oil since 1951.

Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corporation (OTCBB: BECC) based in Dallas, Texas, and known by the media as the ‘Frack Master’, will be available for interview in Birmingham on April 15 and 16, when he attends the Shale World UK conference and exhibition. He will also be in London for interviews following the conference.

“We knew about this potential long before it became news and now UKOG has proven what the geology showed. This is actually an extension of the same formation that was being extracted in the North Sea. It just comes on land, and ironically is not far from Gatwick Airport,” Faulkner said. “This is a game changer for England, and they will now have to shift their entire focus on how to approach oil and gas production. There’s too much at stake now for them not to,” he added.

Even at current oil and gas prices, Chris Faulkner thinks shale exploration will still be viable in the UK. “Shale oil gas will take some time to bring online, but this is a long-term investment and prices will always fluctuate up and down. Now the UK can gain independence from foreign supplies by developing this massive resource under its own soil.”

Faulkner feels that the two biggest obstacles to shale in the UK are the complex planning regulations and public opposition. Opponents base their argument on unfounded safety fears, which been proven untrue by US production and confirmed by the highly respected 2014 University of Manchester study claiming fracking can be done safely domestically. Drilling restrictions in the UK are more stringent than the US, pointing to stronger safety precautions amidst increased regulatory hurdles.

Energy security and shale development have not become issues in the current General Election campaign, mostly because of milder temperatures this winter. Last fall, with Russia jawboning to reduce gas flowing through the Ukraine, a cold winter could have led to shortages, and energy independence would certainly have propelled up the political agenda. “The UK is at the end of a very long pipeline and only has two weeks of storage capacity if anything goes wrong,” Faulkner says.

Chris Faulkner will be speaking at the Shale World UK conference and exhibition being held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday, April 15 and 16. His topic will be: “Can unconventional exploration be economic at current oil and gas prices?”

Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market

Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Lead to Oil Flooding the Market

“The global oil market could be braced for more uncertainty in the coming months. The Iranian nuclear deal is likely to see sanctions on exports lifted leading to an increase in Iranian crude oil production. The speed at which these barrels hit the market is currently unclear and foreign investment will be key to unlocking this potential.

“Any incremental rise in production will certainly test the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) 30 million barrels per day production quota and add a new dimension to the OPEC meeting in June.”

Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean

Institute Launches Six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programme Starting in the Caribbean

The Institute’s three and six-month Global Trader Mentoring Programmes are open to all Retail Traders globally, and include full trader coaching on a weekly basis with Institute Senior Mentors Raj Malhotra (New York) and Jason Mcdonald (London). Weekly coaching is done on a remote basis after the initial 10-day period of the Mentoring Programme which is held in the Turks and Caicos in July 2015.

During this initial 10-day period, Institute mentees will be expected to complete a hands-on programme directly with Raj Malhotra, Jason Mcdonald, Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil and their Mentoring Programme peers. After the initial period of 10 days in Turks and Caicos, Institute mentees return to their home countries and the remainder of the three or six-month Mentoring Programmes are spent trading with real money in a live Trading Account and communicating with Raj and Jason directly, via screen sharing and Skype calls.

Traders also have the opportunity to trade as part of a remote trading desk as a team which is backed with real Institute capital and overseen by Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil.

Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts

Eurasia Liquefied Petroleum Gas Market Forecasts

Russia is one of the major countries in the Eurasia liquefied petroleum gas market, which is not only expected to garner the largest share, but is also estimated to grow at the highest CAGR. Russia is one of the largest producers of natural gas worldwide and a majority of its production is consumed in the western European countries such as Germany and U.K.

Considering the overall Eurasian LPG market, the market is dominated by the Russian and CIS countries in terms of production; in terms of consumption, the market is dominated by the Western European countries in Eurasia. In the Eurasian region, the demand varies according to various applications that are particular to different countries. For example, the North and East European countries use a large portion of the LPG for residential/commercial application, whereas the Western European countries preferably use LPG for industrial and auto gas applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is segmented on the basis of different applications. Eurasia has lower average annual temperatures; hence, in order to keep homes warm during the winter, the Europeans use different heating mediums. LPG is a better fuel for such applications, as it burns without generating smoke. Hence, in Eurasia, the residential/commercial application of LPG is mostly driven by the use of LPG for heating applications.

The Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow considering the applicability of LPG in various applications. Europe, being a developed region, has people who are conscious about their carbon emission. Hence, the Eurasian LPG market is expected to grow in the auto gas application of LPG.

As of 2014, the Eurasian liquefied petroleum gas market was dominated by Gazprom, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc, and Total S.A. Of these, Gazprom has the highest market share in Eurasia. New product launches and partnerships, agreements, collaborations, and joint ventures are the major strategies adopted by most of the market players to boost the market growth.


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Mongolia - Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?

Mongolia – Agrarian Society to Industrialized nation?

The daylong Investing in Mongolia Conference will highlight the recent rise of the Asian country as a global hotspot for minerals, precious metals and coal and ask if its booming mining sector can birth a true market economy.

The conference will showcase presentations from a number of private and publicly traded companies with a well-established footprint in the Mongolian market, including:

– Golomt Bank and its wholly owned financial services firm Golomt Securities

– Leading importer Ulemj

– Road and transportation infrastructure developer Khot

– Commercial real estate investor and developer Mongolia Growth Group

– Erdenes MGL, the largest state-owned mining operation in Mongolia

– Mine-owner Sharyn Gol JSC

– Petroleum importer MT Group

In addition, officials from the Mongolian Embassy and Mongolian Stock Exchange will on be hand to provide macroeconomic perspectives. The conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco

British Land Exchanges £733 Million of Joint Venture Properties With Tesco

The transaction is in line with our strategy to evolve our retail portfolio. It further reduces our foodstore weighting and increases our exposure to multi-let retail parks and shopping centres. Our full ownership of these assets will provide significant potential to add further value through asset management and development.

Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail & Leisure, British Land, said: “This mutually beneficial transaction clearly demonstrates the great relationship we enjoy with Tesco. It plays to our strengths of managing multi-let assets and gives Tesco more control of their stand-alone portfolio. We see significant opportunity to add value and drive returns through asset management and development.”

Key transaction terms

Sale of 50% stake in the Tesco Aqua Limited Partnership (“Aqua”) comprising 21 stand-alone foodstores; portfolio value £352 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 13.3 years; NIY 4.8%
Acquisition of 50% stakes in Tesco BL Holdings Limited (“TBLH”) and The Tesco British Land Property Partnership (“TBLPP”) comprising 3 retail parks and 3 shopping centres, all anchored by Tesco stores, and 3 stand-alone foodstores; combined portfolio value £381 million (50% share); weighted average lease length of 11.4 years; topped up NIY 5.2%
British Land will make a net cash payment of £96 million to Tesco reflecting the difference in net asset value (including mark to market on debt) for Aqua (£81 million) and the combined TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures (£177 million).
In line with strategy to evolve the Retail portfolio

Stand-alone foodstore weighting reduced from 10% of portfolio to 8%
Increases focus on multi-let assets; number of stand-alone foodstores reduced from 79 to 58
Reduces the number of British Land joint ventures by 3 and the number of assets held in joint ventures by 30
Opportunity to drive returns through asset management and development

Taking full ownership of 660,000 sq ft of retail parks and 730,000 sq ft of shopping centres
Potential to enhance returns through asset management notably at Serpentine Green, Peterborough, Beaumont Leys, Leicester and the Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes
Asset swaps in line with valuation and accretive to earnings

Property asset swaps in line with latest reported valuations
Transaction accretive to earnings
Group weighted average interest rate reduced by 15 basis points

Financial effects

Overall, the transaction is accretive to earnings in 2016 reflecting a £2 million increase in net rent and an £8 million reduction in net interest.

The assets acquired within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures generate annual accounting net rental income of £20 million. The assets sold within the Aqua joint venture generate £18 million.

The acquired debt held within the TBLH and TBLPP joint ventures currently bears interest of £5 million per annum. The Aqua disposal saves £14 million of interest per annum and including the £96m of net cash payable to Tesco the interest saving is £8m per annum. The net cash payable will be funded from existing resources.

The Group’s proportionally consolidated weighted average interest rate is reduced by 15 basis points. The proportionately consolidated weighted average debt maturity is unchanged at 8.9 years. The transaction increases LTV by 0.4%.

Net asset value per share is reduced by 3 pence per share principally due to the impact of mark to market on the debt.



How Much Are the UK's Natural Resources Worth?

How Much Are the UK’s Natural Resources Worth?

Between 2008 and 2012 the value of the UK’s freshwater ecosystems, which covers inland wetlands and open water, rose by 26% from £29 billion to £37 billion.

These figures form part of ONS’s efforts to measure Natural Capital, which is aiming to place a value on the economic benefits of our natural resources.

ONS has become an international leader in developing natural capital accounting, which is highlighting the losses, gains and importance of the services provided by natural assets.

Alongside the new analysis of freshwater ecosystems, the ONS is also publishing an interim review of the work to measure natural capital, examining what has been achieved so far and what the project aims to produce by 2020.

The key findings uncovered from Natural Capital to date include:

A preliminary estimate valued the UK’s natural assets at £1.6 trillion, broadly equivalent to the UK GDP.

The value of UK’s non-renewable assets (oil & gas reserves, coal and minerals) reduced by 30% between 2007 and 2011.

The value provided by the UK’s woodlands for carbon storage and recreation was 13 times higher than if it were used solely for timber, an estimated £2.4 billion.

Urban land use increased by 5.4% between 2000 and 2010.

Glenn Everett, Director of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme, said “The degradation of our natural resources and loss of the services nature provides to people and the economy in not accounted for in the nation’s balance sheet. So there is an important need to take stock of the economic benefits that we receive from our natural assets.”

Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor

Beer Duty – Brewers and Pubs Toast “Hat-Trick Hero” Chancellor

“The Chancellor really is a ‘Hat Trick Hero’. His third, successive beer tax cut shows he has listened to consumers, publicans and brewers.

“Beer tax is now ten pence lower than it would have been under the beer duty escalator, which he abolished.

“It will boost employment by 3,800 this year alone and attract new capital investment. It will put 180 million pounds in the pockets of beer drinkers and pubgoers. That is a huge difference.

“Cutting beer duty supports a great British Industry which contributes £22 billion to GDP and supports almost 900,000 jobs. It’s also a boost for pubs, as beer accounts for seven out every ten alcohol drinks sold in our pubs.

“The renewed confidence in our sector is reflected in rising beer sales in 2014, for the first time in a decade.

“There is of course more work to de done, and we look forward to persuading MPs in the next Parliament that further action is needed to encourage consumers towards our lower-strength, British-made national drink.”


How the Chancellor's Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad

How the Chancellor’s Budget Will Affect UK Businesses Trading Abroad

“Trade with China dominated the Chancellor’s coverage of exports in his 2015 Budget. He promised to double UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) resources to support exports to China, and posed the reminder that the UK is the first Western country to seek to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Bank in Beijing.

“I would have liked to hear further detail about how the Chancellor expects to achieve the Government’s target of £1 trillion UK exports by 2020. It is encouraging that the Government aims to encourage exports to areas outside of the beleaguered Eurozone, which is currently still the UK’s largest exports market. China is in the process of opening its doors, and is an exciting market to consider. However, although all currencies are subject to national and global uncertainties and risk, China’s currency is less predictable, given that it is in the process of moving towards a free-floating currency. Without the right guidance, companies could see significant currency losses given unfavourable exchange rates.

“Seen this way, it could be said to be risky to place all of our eggs in one basket if the Government is to focus pumping new resources into opening up China to UK exporters. It would seem prudent to spread or extend resources to help UK businesses export to a wider range of overseas markets, so that UK exporters can make the most of other markets in addition to China and the Eurozone.”


FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award

FireChat Takes Home SXSW Innovation Award

Open Garden announced that its app, FireChat, won the prestigious SXSW Innovation Award at this year’s event. FireChat, the first off-the-grid messaging app, took home the coveted award in the “Innovation in Connecting People” category. The winners were announced yesterday at the 18th Annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony in Austin, TX.

Previously called the Interactive Awards, the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards showcase the evolving and broadening scope of the digital industry by reflecting the increasingly multifaceted and diverse ecosystem of platforms, software, apps and devices.

“We’re ecstatic that FireChat was chosen for such a respected award at this year’s festival,” said Micha Benoliel, cofounder and CEO of Open Garden. “Our mission is to connect people around the world. The recognition from this team of judges and our peers is wonderful and exciting for our team as we continue our efforts.”

FireChat is a free application for Android and iOS devices. It is available here.

About Open Garden

Open Garden Inc. is a San Francisco based startup dedicated to connecting the next billions of mobile devices with peer-to-peer connections. Open Garden is the publisher of FireChat, the first messaging app that works off-the-grid. Launched in March 2014, FireChat has reached the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 124 countries around the world. 

Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.

Specialist Travel Security Team to Take Aviation Data Security to New Heights.

The new division is already working with global travel organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a number of other key organisations within the travel sector; with the experience gained in years of travel-sector related security work, the team works to protect the world’s largest airports, airlines, associations, data processing centres, global distribution system suppliers and travel agents.

The dedicated airline team will provide comprehensive professional security guidance and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance support for the common use environment and the various organisations operating within the BSP, as well as advice and guidance for the complex challenges the industry faces daily.

Commenting on the launch of this specialist division, Pascal Buchner, Director ITS & CIO at IATA, said:

“As the association that represents 250 of the world’s airlines, we keenly support the development of more intelligent and robust data security within our sector.

“The travel-sector-specific experience that Foregenix has developed and brings to the airline industry will certainly benefit the airlines and our partners in improving their payment security. “

Speaking about announcement, Benjamin Hosack, Director at Foregenix, said:

“We have been working in the travel sector for years with organisations such as IATA and many other large multi-nationals. The payment card data security challenges in the sector are complex and require a very good understanding of the travel industry ecosystem in order to be able to provide guidance.

“Our division is made up of experienced industry professionals who have a background of working with some of the leading travel organisations in the industry. We have the experience and credentials to support our clients in such a complex, yet highly valued sector.”

BT Opens 'Alexander Black' Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing

BT Opens ‘Alexander Black’ Concept Store in Milan to Showcase the Future of in-Store Retailing

BT today announced the opening of a concept store in Milan that gives retailers a vision of how creative use of technology can radically transform the in-store shopping experience. Designed as a real shop branded ‘Alexander Black’, it showcases more than 40 innovative technologies that create a personalised experience for customers who do their shopping in ‘brick and mortar’ stores.

The Alexander Black shop also demonstrates how the in-store experience can be seamlessly integrated with the brand’s online, mobile and customer service channels to create an intelligent and consistent experience across all channels.

The Milan shop, opening six months after the launch of the first Alexander Black store in New York, contains live, real time demonstrations of BT solutions that:
• improve individual customer engagement and the overall in-store experience
• improve the retailer’s in-store operations and support their omnichannel strategy
• provide shop floor staff with real-time visibility of inventory across all channels and global supply chain
• enable shop floor staff to quickly access customer and product information
• provide innovative ways to verify product authenticity and identify counterfeited goods
• make all those solutions accessible through managed mobile devices
• provide in-store security with innovative video surveillance and anti-theft systems, and help manage the flows of cash.

“Bricks and mortar stores are challenged by the very deep changes in customer expectations created by the rise of online shopping,” said Hubertus von Roenne, vice president, Global Industry Practices, BT Global Services. “Successful retailers absolutely need to orchestrate new technology in a creative way and blend the digital and physical worlds so that their customers have the same amazing experience regardless of the place or time of their shopping.”

The Alexander Black store shows how technologies such as RFID, NFC (Near Field Communications), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), beacons and Wi-Fi can transform the in-store shopping experience.

“From interactive displays to digital screens where the content is personalised by relevant criteria, such as individual shopping history and demographics, there is a huge range of new ways to engage and delight the customers. Being able to integrate these multiple experiences to provide a consistent, joined up brand experience across all channels has become a key priority for retailers. We are delighted to open this new showcase store in Milan, home of some of the world’s most creative retailers,” added von Roenne.

BT’s solutions for in-store retail are globally managed end-to-end solutions, supported by a single global multilingual help desk.

The new Alexander Black concept store is located within BT’s Customer Innovation Showcase in Milan. BT owns a global network of 18 Showcase facilities providing interactive live demonstrations of all the latest solutions that BT is developing and delivering to improve business efficiency, support enterprises’ critical applications and keep ICT services secure.

Accountancy Firms Must Evolve and Innovate to Survive Says ICAEW

Accountancy Firms Must Evolve and Innovate to Survive Says ICAEW

Tomorrow’s Practice, which launched yesterday at ICAEW, is considering the opportunities open to accounting firms if they want to evolve and innovate.

The Tomorrow’s Practice initiative is looking to raise awareness of the areas of change affecting the profession. It is based on conversations across the UK with people in the profession and business, collecting their views on the needs of small businesses and the future of accountancy practices.

The report has identified four key factors driving a shift in the accountancy landscape:

  • Technology has made basic accounts preparation and bookkeeping easier for businesses. This has the potential to change the role of the accountant, creating different opportunities to add value.
  • Competition is coming from consultants, professional services firms, other accountants, and even the internet – firms need to maintain their position as trusted advisers to clients, while ensuring they do not compromise the quality of their service to reduce costs.
  • Regulation – changing audit rules, the evolving pensions landscape, and new opportunities in legal services mean accountants can develop new propositions
  • Clients’ expectations are changing – companies want a ‘one stop shop’ for their business support, so accountants need to think about how they can play more of an advisory role. Flexibility to provide a tailored service to clients is key

In addition to thinking about what their clients want, practitioners should consider the needs of their staff. Practices are having problems in finding and keeping good staff, made harder by changing priorities – fewer managers aspire to become partners and many staff are seeking an improved work/life balance.

In identifying the challenges, Tomorrow’s Practice seeks to help practices make informed choices about their future. Firms and sole practitioners can all take advantage of new opportunities, but they need to choose the path that’s right for them. This could mean developing their own niche markets, building up their expertise or network to provide a ‘one stop shop’, or even providing specialist assurance services.

Arthur Bailey, ICAEW President, said: ‘The accountancy landscape is changing, and smaller practices need to embrace the opportunity. Our members should consider how they will react to changes in the marketplace and provide the added value clients are demanding. This could mean firms specialising in a particular area or providing additional services that make them indispensable to the businesses they serve. Whichever path our members choose to take, we’ll be there to support them, using our learnings from Tomorrow’s Practice to develop new guidance.’

Americans Take Advantage Of Lower Gas Prices And Tax Refunds To Pay-Off Debt

Americans Take Advantage Of Lower Gas Prices And Tax Refunds To Pay-Off Debt, Cover Everyday Needs

The 22nd quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll revealed that nearly four-in-five Americans (78 %) are realizing savings at the pump, and 58 % of them are using these savings to cover basic necessities (31 %) or to pay off/avoid debt (27 %). Nearly one third of Americans (32 %) state that the decline in gas prices has had a “huge” or “significant difference” in their personal financial situations, according to Americans polled who benefitted from price savings.

In addition, more than half of Americans (55 %) expect to receive a refund on their taxes this year and nearly four-in-ten (37 %) of them will use their refund to pay off debt.

The Heartland Monitor poll surveyed Americans’ attitudes, expectations, and personal financial situations amidst lower gas prices and as the country approaches the height of tax season. The results reveal a population that is more optimistic for the future but continuing to struggle despite the broader economic recovery.

In a positive sign, for the first time in Heartland Monitor’s polling since June 2013, Americans are now more likely to say that the national economy will improve over the next twelve months (32 %) than they are to say it will get worse (25 %). However, an overwhelming majority of Americans express deep concerns over the cost of living for necessities and wages and income with nearly 80 % of the country claiming the U.S. economy rates “Fair” or “Poor” on these factors.

“While many Americans still face financial challenges, these poll results also indicate the great progress made in turning around our economy,” said Tom Clarkson, president, West Territory, Allstate Personal Lines. “As a network of small businesses, we understand that middle class Americans have been incredibly resilient to overcome these challenges and local institutions and small businesses will continue to play an important role in our economic growth.”

“Americans indicate in the poll that they still plan to be cautious with their savings at the pump and any tax refund they might receive,” said Ronald Brownstein, Atlantic Media’s editorial director. “That fits with the pattern of restrained optimism we see throughout the poll. While Americans’ attitudes about their personal prospects and the country’s direction have clearly brightened since last fall, most Americans remain skittish about the economy’s overall performance and concerned about its ability to generate rising wages and living standards.”

Impact of Lower Gas Prices

– Among the 78 % of those polled who’ve benefitted from savings at the pump, nearly half of those polled (43 %) say that the decline in gas prices has had “only a slight difference” or made no impact on their personal financial situations.

– Americans who say that lower gas prices have made a huge or significant difference in their personal finances are more likely to believe that their personal finances will improve by this time next year.

Impact of Tax Refunds and Property Taxes

– The top priority for spending anticipated tax refunds is paying off debt (37 %) followed by saving or investing (29 %) and spending on necessities (20 %).

– The highest expectations for a tax refund come from households that earn between $30k and $75k per year and among younger age groups.
– Individuals under 50 years old expressed a higher degree of commitment to pay off debt than older Americans.

– Four-in-ten (40 %) Millennials and 45 % of Gen X’ers plan to use their tax refunds to pay off debt. Across the nation, just 8 % of respondents say they will spend their tax refund on non-essential purchases.

– When polled on different factors about the community they live in, Americans gave a substantial “fair” or “poor” rating for the amount they pay in local and property taxes (63 %), followed by wages and incomes (62 %), and costs of living (60 %).

BP Finalises Deal to Develop Egypt's West Nile Delta Gas Fields

BP Finalises Deal to Develop Egypt’s West Nile Delta Gas Fields

The project underlines BP’s commitment to the Egyptian market and is a vote of confidence in Egypt’s investment climate and economic potential.

Production from WND is expected to reach up to 1.2 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d), equivalent to about 25 per cent of Egypt’s current gas production and significantly contribute to increasing the supply of energy in Egypt. All the produced gas will be fed into the country’s national gas grid, helping to meet the anticipated growth in local demand for energy. Production is expected to start in 2017.

“BP is proud of its record in Egypt over the past 50 years and we are looking forward to many more years in the country. The WND project investment is the largest foreign direct investment in Egypt, and demonstrates our continued confidence in Egypt and our commitment to unlock its energy potential. WND production is key to Egypt’s energy security,” said Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive.

Gas will be produced from two BP-operated offshore concession blocks, North Alexandria and West Mediterranean Deepwater. BP believes that there is the potential through future exploration to add a further 5-7 tcf which could boost WND production with additional investments.

Commenting on the project, Hesham Mekawi, BP North Africa Regional President said, “This is a critical milestone in the Egyptian oil and gas history. It marks the start of a major national project to add significant production to the domestic market. BP expects to double its current gas supply to the Egyptian domestic market during this decade when the WND project reaches its peak production. BP will also continue to invest in our existing oil operations at the Gulf of Suez (through GUPCO) and gas operations in the East Nile Delta (through Pharaonic Petroleum Co.), as well as progressing our recently discovered resources to allow for the next new major development after WND.”

The scale of investment and activities of the WND project are expected to significantly contribute to the growth of petroleum-related industries and to Egyptian employment. During the construction phase, the project is projected to employ thousands of direct and indirect personnel. In line with BP’s commitment to support the development of Egyptian capability, the WND project will encourage technology transfer and know-how through training and on-the-job development. This will help to create strategic national capabilities to unlock the country’s future hydrocarbon potential.

As part of the WND project, BP will also undertake a social investment programme directed to various sustainable development projects in coordination with the local communities and utilizing local service providers.

This will be in addition to the project’s principal approach, which is focused on increasing local labour, with a commitment to employ significant local labour during operations.

Wind Turbine Composites Material Market Worth $5.5 Billion by 2020

Wind Turbine Composites Material Market Worth $5.5 Billion by 2020

“Asia-Pacific: The biggest market of composites used in wind turbines”

The Asia-Pacific region was the world’s largest Wind Turbine Composites Material Market in 2014. China is the key consumer of wind composite in Asia-Pacific. Growth of installed wind power capacity in China and India is one of the biggest drivers for this market in Asia pacific region. China set a new record for annual installations in 2014, by increasing the new wind generating capacity by more than 45% as compared to 2013. Various product launches, and expansions have in turn made the regions a potential growth market for wind composite.

“Glass Fiber Composite is the biggest material type”

Glass fiber composite is the biggest composite material used in wind turbine driven by its high demand for manufacturing wind turbine blades. Carbon fiber composite finds its usage mostly in spar and structural element of wind blades, whereas its usage in longer blades is limited primarily because of its high cost. Carbon fiber composite are projected to grow at a healthy rate in the projected period.

Toray Industries (Japan), Cytec Industries Inc. (U.S.), Royal TenCate nv (Netherlands), Gurit Holding AG (Switzerland), Hexel Corporation (U.S.), and Teijin Limited (Japan) are some of the major supplier of wind composites material. Company profiling and competitive strategies adopted by top composites wind turbine blade manufacturers such as HT blades (China), TPI Composites (U.S.), Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Denmark), Gamesa (Spain), LM Wind Power Group (Denmark) etc. are also covered in the report.

The report also defines driving and restraining factors for the global Wind Turbine Composites Material Market with the analysis of trends, opportunities, burning issues, winning imperatives, and challenges. Additionally, the market is forecasted on the basis of major regions, such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World (RoW) by both value and volume. The regional wind turbine composite market is further segmented on the basis of major countries such as China, U.S., Germany, Spain, U.K., India, Canada, France, Brazil, etc.

Falling Oil Prices Have Global Implications

Falling Oil Prices Have Global Implications

Topping the list of political risks facing emerging market investors is the increasing instability in already-fragile oil producing countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Russia and Venezuela as a consequence of the low oil price. The effectiveness of extremist groups in the Middle East & Africa will be amplified in afflicted countries that lack the resilience to absorb economic shocks.

The map illustrates that 2015 will be a particularly challenging year for oil producers in the Middle East and Africa several of which already have High or Very High country risk ratings. Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, which should otherwise stand to benefit from cheaper oil imports, face increased security risks because of the power vacuums in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The low oil price continues to cast an economic shadow over the CIS region, particularly for Russia’s larger regional trading partners such as Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Matthew Shires, Head of Political Risk said “By using the latest data and analytics, the political risk map helps organisations determine their emerging market investment strategies. Businesses need to constantly monitor their exposure to political risk such as the impact of oil price uncertainty and political instability. The Aon Political Risk Map allows our clients to do exactly that.”

Paul Domjan, Managing Director, Roubini Country Insights, said “Roubini Global Economics is proud to continue its partnership with Aon for its clients. During 2014 political risks in the emerging markets rose, particularly in oil exporting regions. The quarterly updates to the risk icon scores and the country ratings highlight developing risk-trends, allowing investors to respond quickly to deterioration and to better hedge their exposure or take advantage of new opportunities. Once again, the map demonstrates the power of combining RGE’s country analysis and benchmarking with Aon’s expertise in country risk.”

Oil Prices May Come Under Pressure as Storage Limits Begin to Hit

Oil Prices May Come Under Pressure as Storage Limits Begin to Hit

“Oil prices remain volatile. The recent rally in the oil markets has seemingly run out of steam as bearish supply-side factors appear to be dictating the directional move in oil price.”

“The contango continues to act as a stimulus for demand in the short-term. The ‘storage play’ remains an attractive strategy for those with capacity to store, which in turn is helping the market maintain a quasi-equilibrium. However, as we approach storage limits, which are expected to be hit in the second to third quarter, oil prices may come under pressure as the supply glut can no longer be absorbed by storage tanks.”

“Fundamentally the market remains oversupplied with many still feeling the effects of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision to maintain its 30/million barrels per day production quota, coupled with the burgeoning US shale production boom. For the market to successfully absorb the excess barrels, an increase in consumer-led demand is needed.”

Troubled Outlook for the UK Oil and Gas Industry

Troubled Outlook for the UK Oil and Gas Industry

The decline continues the downward trend seen over the last seven quarters and the overall index has slumped further into negative territory for the second quarter in a row.

Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director, said:

“Unsurprisingly figures published today reveal serious concerns within the industry in light of the very real problems which face the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), including rising operational costs and a substantial drop in production efficiency. These existing problems, apparent even when the oil price was above $100 per barrel, have been exacerbated by the recent fall in oil price.”

Many of the survey respondents expressed a growing concern that the impact of oil price combined with the challenge of operating in a high cost, mature basin will increasingly have a negative effect on future activity levels. A number of companies say they have been reviewing their budgets for 2015 and there are clear signs that capital expenditure across the sector will drop.

Comments from contractor companies, working on UK oil and gas developments where investment is already committed, suggest that the full impact of the oil price is yet to be felt although respondents expressed their concern that future projects could be delayed or cancelled in the current economic climate.

Ms Werngren concluded: “While the UK oil and gas industry faces clear challenges as a result of the basin’s maturity, and more recently the oil price, it is now at a turning point. The positive news is that there is a clear consensus that the industry must accelerate its efforts to address the costs and efficiency of its operations across the UK. Alongside this, urgent government action on fiscal and regulatory reform is essential to help secure the next phase of development in the North Sea.”

China Oil Industry Set to Rebound in 2015

China Oil Industry Set to Rebound in 2015

The report also reveals that rising demand may not be enough to pull some parts of the country’s struggling refining industry out of trouble, and international market participants hoping that Chinese demand will rescue falling oil prices are likely to be disappointed.

The authoritative ICIS China Petroleum Annual Report forecasts that 2015 will see a jump in China’s oil demand growth to 4.1% over the next 12 months, a major leap upwards from 2014’s 1.1% growth. Surging imports of petrochemicals feedstocks naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) look set to be the primary drivers of this growth, however, with demand for automotive and industrial fuels still in the doldrums. ICIS forecasts that the exports of gasoil will continue to grow, as China shifts its development focus to urbanisation (avoiding, for now, the use of diesel cars) and the country’s service industries.

ICIS China is the largest energy and petrochemicals market analyst business in China – a part of the global ICIS business, and a division of UK-based Reed Elsevier. With a vast array of data and information at its disposal, the company’s newly launched ICIS China Petroleum Annual Report is the go-to reference work for Chinese market participants both in and outside the country.

2015 will also see strong growth in Chinese crude oil imports, ICIS predicts in the newly-published report, with net imports up by 7% for the year The jump, however, is being driven in large measure by a need to fill strategic stocks, and does not reflect underlying actual demand growth. Opportunistically, as international prices fell in late 2014, China has already begun buying large quantities of crude, and will likely complete its Strategic Reserve programme ahead of schedule.

Short Term Job Cuts Threaten the Future of North Sea Oil and Gas Warns Unite

Short Term Job Cuts Threaten the Future of North Sea Oil and Gas Warns Unite

Accusing the major oil companies and government of failing to prepare for falling oil prices, the union warned that short term job cuts would lead to a loss of skills that could undermine health and safety and the future of the industry in the North Sea.

Commenting, Pat Rafferty Unite Scottish secretary said: “This latest announcement on job cuts from BP is part of a deeply worrying trend across an industry which is central to the Scottish and wider UK economy.

“People are paying with their livelihoods, because of a failure by the oil majors and the Westminster government to prepare for a fall in oil prices. They’ve made hay while the sun shone, but put aside little for a rainy day.

“Over time oil prices will recover. There is a real danger that knee jerk job cuts will undermine health and safety and the future of the industry in the long term.

“The UK government needs to intervene urgently to support the industry and the taskforces set up by the Scottish government and local authority in Aberdeen need to turn words into urgent action.”

Grown Diamonds Key to Unlocking Future for Diamond Industry

Grown Diamonds Key to Unlocking Future for Diamond Industry, Finds Frost & Sullivan

The mined diamond supply has seen a constant decline in the past decade driven by the fact that key diamond mines have passed their peak production levels. Moreover, the diamond mining process has become tougher as the mines age and new mines that are discovered often have shorter life spans and tougher mining conditions. This occurs in light of the rising demand from various markets such as the US, India and China which is likely to widen the demand and supply gap.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Grown Diamonds – Unlocking Future of Diamond Industry by 2050 indicates how Grown Diamonds can represent a potential solution to the issue of global shortage of rough diamond supplies. The breakthrough in technology has made it possible to grow rare quality colorless IIa quality diamonds by creating diamond-growing conditions in semiconductor grade facilities, above the earth’s surface.

Even with all the technological advancement and developments in the field of exploration and mining, the future of rough diamond production from mines looks bleak. A decline in mined diamond production and diamond processing capacities also has a direct impact on the millions of people who are employed within these industry sectors.

This report analyses the supply of diamonds from mined sources till 2050. Various mines across the globe and their lifetime production values were studied to estimate the supply of diamonds from mines. In comparison, the demand was also analyzed to understand the growth in demand till 2050 considering various factors such as growing jewelry sales and expected surge in demand from new regions.

There are other effects associated with a declining supply such as those on the cutting and processing industries in various countries including India. The shortage in supply is likely to impact the employment strongly in these countries. The trend of declining supply has also led to beneficiation with rough diamond producing countries looking for ways to derive more value from the diamonds coming out of their mines by looking to carry out the cutting and polishing within the country.

Moreover, other factors such as vertical integration across the value chain are surfacing with diamond producing companies trying to integrate their production with their downstream retail operations, thus bypassing intermediary traders from the value chain. Leading branded retail chains are trying to bypass intermediaries as well by sourcing directly from the mining companies.

Recent advancements in technology and years of dedicated research on diamond growing techniques have made it possible to grow high-quality diamonds. A significant achievement in grown diamond technology is the ability to grow colorless Type IIa diamonds which are the purest diamonds found below the earth and constitute only 2% of the total global mined diamond production.

Over the next 30 years, grown diamonds will become a dominant player in high technology applications and can prove to be a very significant diamond source for the luxury world.

Moreover, they also offer new high skilled opportunities for employment as these technology-driven innovation centers employ high-skilled engineers, graduates, researchers and scientists as their principal staff. This is apart from the ancillary industries such as manufacturing, instrumentation, semiconductors and so on.

At a time when the earth mined diamond supply is consistently depleting every year, the emergence of Grown Diamonds could serve as a security blanket for the industry. They can help to meet the supply-demand gap for rough diamonds globally and can also expand the market to new application areas and new profile of consumers.

Major Tax Change Needed Urgently to Counter Falling Oil Price and Save Investment and Jobs

Major Tax Change Needed Urgently to Counter Falling Oil Price and Save Investment and Jobs

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “Evidence of the threat from the falling oil price to UK investment and jobs is mounting daily with oil and gas companies cutting exploration and capital budgets and reviewing headcounts.

“The Treasury’s promise in last year’s Autumn Statement of a simplified tax allowance to encourage new investment must be delivered by Budget 2015 if it is to have any impact. However, with the continued falling and potentially sustained low oil price, this is no longer enough.

“We are encouraged to see a growing political and industry consensus around the now pressing need for more fundamental and urgent changes to the tax regime.With a significant amount of UK oil and gas production not even covering costs at a $50 oil price, the industry cannot carry the burden of a tax rate between 60 and 80 per cent.

“The credible and reasonable response for the Chancellor in his upcoming Budget, assuming the oil price has not recovered by then, is the abolition of the 30 per cent supplementary charge on corporation tax, which was introduced and then increased in direct response to rising oil prices, most recently in 2011. This would still leave oil and gas producers paying corporation tax at 30 per cent, a tax rate 50 per cent higher than the rest of British industry.

“In parallel, the Oil and Gas Authority must be rapidly resourced with the right capability and capacity to swiftly implement the recommendations of the Wood Review. The industry is resolutely focused on tackling the cost and efficiency challenge it faces to improve the competitiveness of North Sea operations. Oil & Gas UK is committed to playing a constructive part in this important process of reform and looks forward to working with governments and stakeholders to that end.”

Path for Sustainable Future Laid Out in

Path for Sustainable Future Laid Out in

The English edition of China’s New Energy Revolution by renewable energy advocate and Hanergy Chairman Li Hejun is now available for purchase in bookstores across the U.S. as well as in e-book format.

Last month, representatives from more than 190 nations met in Lima, Peru, in an attempt to hammer out a global framework towards a sustainable future. Mr. Li offers in his book a promising way forward: Thin-film solar power, the zero-emissions renewable energy form that can revolutionize how China, the U.S., and everywhere else produces and consumes energy.

Speaking about the book, economic and social theorist and bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin said, “Li Hejun spells out clearly and convincingly why clean energy is poised to drive the third industrial revolution. Solar technology is going to play an increasingly critical role in the transition to a global economy powered by renewable energy. His vision, once a far-stretch of the imagination, is rapidly becoming a reality. The ideas presented in this book will affect not only China, but the globe.”

Twenty years after founding Hanergy, Li has leveraged core strengths in R&D and technological integration to help grow the company into the world’s largest thin-film solar enterprise, with 3GW of thin-film production capacity and industry-leading technical expertise.

In his book, published by McGraw-Hill Education, he explains why thin-film solar technology, with its superior flexibility, exceptional performance under weak sunlight conditions, and wide market adaptability is poised to become the energy of choice. He points out that in addition to conventional applications like rooftop installations, thin-film can be integrated into building components and its ease of portability and resilience to environmental factors makes it ideal for powering our daily lives on everything from mobiles and automobiles to jackets and camping gear.

Mr. Li goes on to show how every industrial revolution has in fact been an energy replacement – first with coal for wood, then oil for coal – and now, he believes we are on the brink of a third industrial revolution that will be powered by clean energy, with thin-film solar at the forefront.

The United States is experiencing a historic boom in solar installations and PV power generation, with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research reporting[1] that in the second half of 2014, more than half a million U.S. homes and business were generating solar power. According to the SEIA, the solar industry in America employs roughly 143,000 Americans and generates $15 billion annually.

With the price of solar plunging 99 percent over the past 25 years, the power it generates is now cost competitive with fossil-fuel burning power plants in many markets across the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Li’s book describes in plain language how this cheap, clean solar power can be scaled up, distributed, and optimized to meet the growing energy demands of our world.

The book and e-book are available for purchase wherever books/e-books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, independent book stores, and direct from McGraw-Hill. For more information about the book, its author, and Hanergy download the China’s New Energy Revolution App from Apple’s App Store or on Google Play.


Oil & Gas UK responds to Scottish Government’s Oil and Gas Discussion Paper

Oil & Gas UK responds to Scottish Government’s Oil and Gas Discussion Paper

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, responded to the Scottish Government’s announcement regarding the UK oil and gas tax regime, saying:

“Sharply falling oil prices are now adding to the significant challenges the UK offshore oil and gas industry was already facing. The current tax regime is one such challenge and a key factor for companies making decisions on investment and activity. All helpful insights on that issue are welcome, so we will certainly respond to the Scottish Government’s request for views and information.

“We would hope this exercise will complement the crucial work already well underway between the UK Treasury and the industry to make urgent changes to the UKCS tax regime in order to both sustain and encourage further investment. If the Treasury’s new Investment Allowance is to have any impact it must be implemented by Budget 2015 at the very latest. However, with the oil price now at around $50 per barrel, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this measure is not enough and a significant reduction in the headline rate is required.

“We are encouraged to see a growing political and industry consensus around the now pressing need for yet more fundamental and urgent changes to the tax regime. Oil & Gas UK is committed to playing a fully engaged and constructive part in this important process of reform and looks forward to working with both the UK and Scottish governments and all other stakeholders to that end.”