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Should You Consider Alternative Investments?

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Foreign investment inflow

 There’s no doubt that the coronavirus caused a seismic shock to the world’s financial markets, with the stock markets experiencing several peaks and troughs through 2020 and the first half of this year.

Even fixed-income bonds saw their value decline over the course of the last 18 months or so, creating a rising demand for so-called “alternative investments” across a wide range of asset classes.

But what are the most common types of alternative assets, and which options are right for you? Let’s find out!

  1. Private Equity

We’ll start with private equity, which is a relatively diverse and broad category that refers to a capital investment made into privately listed commercial entities.

Similarly, it may include businesses that aren’t currently listed on a public exchange like the FTSE 100 or the New York Stock Exchange, while there are several subsets included within this category.

Venture capital focuses on startup, small cap and early stage ventures, for example, while growth capital investments enables more mature companies to expand and restructure over time.

Often, the viability of this investment vehicle is determined by the relationship between the investor firm and the recipient of capital, while it’s important to select a subset that suits your risk profile and existing capital holdings.

  1. Real Estate

Real estate represents a long-term and tangible investment option, and one that can be leveraged in numerous ways in the current marketplace.

From a broader perspective, there are multiple assets that may be included within this investment subset, including land, farmland and even intellectual property such as artwork.

This creates a diverse range of investment options, with real estate arguably serving as one of the most lucrative and generative entities within this subset.

Not only is real estate one of the largest alternative investments by the measure of value, but it’s also similar to fixed-income products like bonds. This is because property owners can leverage their assets to secure currency cash flow in the form of rental yields, rather than simply buying homes and preparing them for resale.

  1. Commodities

Commodities remain the most popular and well-known type of alternative investment, and one that’s often leveraged by traders when they receive a free trading bonus as part of their new account.

Commodities are certainly a diverse and accessible asset class, which includes options such as natural resources (like gas, coal and oil), precious metals, iron ore and agricultural produce.

Commodities can either be held as tangible assets or as derivatives, while they’re widely utilised by experienced investors as a viable hedge against inflation. This is because they’re not that sensitive to public equity markets, making them a key component of any truly diversified portfolio.

However, commodities are slightly volatile and at the mercy of the basic principles of supply and demand, leading to higher potential profits and losses depending on how the market in question performs.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Pros and Cons of Debt Settlement

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debt

The process of negotiating with a creditor to reduce the amount you owe in exchange for a one time payment in full of an agreed upon amount is called debt settlement. You may often see it referred to as debt negotiation as well. 

Seeking a settlement agreement can be an effective debt resolution approach—under the right circumstances. This is particularly true in instances in which payments are in considerable arrears, or a balance is so high paying it off will be extremely difficult.  

However, there are some pros and cons of debt settlement to consider.

How Debt Settlement Works

First of all, it’s important to note you can do everything a professional debt settlement firm can do on your own. On the other hand, it’s equally important to note that negotiating a debt settlement plan with a creditor is an arduous and time consuming process, with no guarantee of success. 

Once you reach the person who has the authority to agree to a settlement proposal, you’ll try to get the total amount you owe reduced, along with waivers of accumulated fees and interest. You’ll offer a one-time payment in full of the agreed upon settlement amount, in exchange for these concessions. Be mindful though, you must be in a position to make the payment in full when the agreement is reached. Otherwise, it could be rescinded. 

Working with a debt settlement firm, you’ll be enrolled in a type of savings plan in which the monies you’d normally forward to your creditors is deposited until the account’s balance is high enough to fund a settlement agreement. Payment will be made to the creditor settle the debt from that account and the process will continue until all of your debtors are satisfied. 

Debt Settlement Alternatives

Generally speaking, debt settlement should be one of the last debt relief options of which you avail yourself. 

While debt settlement is not as destructive to your credit history as bankruptcy, credit counseling, debt management and debt consolidation are less damaging and should be investigated before attempting a settlement. 

In fact, given a choice of credit counseling vs debt settlement, going with counseling first could resolve your problem with far less collateral damage. 

Debt Settlement Pros

The most obvious benefit of debt settlement is it enables you to resolve credit accounts for less than you owe. Settlement will also put an end to collection calls and restore your peace of mind. 

Most debt settlement programs eradicate debt within 48 months. That is, assuming you have the wherewithal to set the cash aside to fund your payoff agreements. The time frame is also dependent upon the amount of debt with which you’re burdened.

Debt settlement can help you avoid filing for bankruptcy protection and enduring the consequences of that action. A bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years, depending upon the nature of your filing. A debt settlement program will usually allow you to start rebuilding your credit history in a much shorter amount of time. 

Debt Settlement Cons

Creditors don’t always agree to accept settlements. In other words, there are no guarantees that debt settlement will work. And, over the time you spend trying to get a settlement, your debt will be increasing, owing to fees and ever increasing compounded interest payments.  

Working with a debt settlement company will also entail fees, generally in the range of 15% to 25% of the amount you owe. The good news is they can’t bill you until they’ve reached a settlement agreement to which you and your creditor agree—and it is paid. But you will owe that money when the settlement is funded. 

While not as bad as the fallout from a bankruptcy filing, there are negative credit score and credit report consequences to debt settlement just the same. Accounts will be listed as “settled” rather than “paid in full”. This could give potential creditors pause when reviewing your post-settlement credit applications. 

Some creditors report settled debt to the IRS, which will then look upon the forgiven amount as earned income. In other words, you could have to pay taxes on forgiven debt.

In Conclusion

It’s important to consider these pros and cons before embarking upon a debt settlement plan. It’s also a good idea to consider the alternatives first. Yes, a debt settlement program might be less costly in terms of the cash you’ll pay, but there are benefits to looking at debt consolidation, counseling and management first. 

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Are Weaker Economies on the Brink of Collapse?

The stock market rebounded absurdly fast after the March 2020 crash, whilst most major economies only dipped into a technical recession briefly before recovering.

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Economy

The global economy is in a challenging state. After a tough few years with Coronavirus, it appeared that we had gotten through the worst of it – on the face at least. The stock market rebounded absurdly fast after the March 2020 crash, whilst most major economies only dipped into a technical recession briefly before recovering.

However, issues remained under the surface. Mostly within global supply, there were still shortages and logistics issues. Anybody chasing after the latest PlayStation 5 would have experienced this in full force. Today, we have even more severe supply issues with an energy crisis, made worse by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused sky-high inflation around the world. 

Ramifications on the weaker European economies

High demand-pull inflation is something that developing countries often experience as part and parcel of fast growth. This isn’t always a bad thing unless it gets out of hand. However, cost-push inflation, as currently being experienced, brings with it very little reward. 

When looking at who is experiencing the worst inflation in Europe, it is developing countries that top the list. Turkey and Moldova are in crisis, with 78% and 31% inflation respectively, whilst Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Montenegro all have between 13% and 20% inflation.

It is arguably the weaker economies in the EU that are the cause of the ECB’s hesitation over raising interest rates. To still have negative interest rates in an EU that is currently suffering 8.6% inflation, does seem absurd. And although there are now plans of a slight increase, the reluctance to raise rates in alignment with the Fed’s is perhaps because the struggling economies would struggle to repay their debts – debts that were exacerbated over lockdowns.

As a result, the USD has reached parity with the Euro. Whilst the dollar is usually sought after during a crisis, the continuous rise in rates in the US is a huge factor in the weakening of currencies around the world. In fact, the Guardian has pointed out this is a selfish move by the US, in which dollar-denominated loans – which are common among developing countries – are becoming unsustainably expensive to repay.

It could be argued that the EU is merely anticipating a worse recession than the Fed, and so is reluctant to be heavy-handed with its contractionary monetary policy. Regardless, the weaker economies within the EU are seeing their purchasing power decline twice-fold: once through inflation, and again through a weaker currency. On top of this, they’re also seeing any dollar-denominated debts become rapidly more expensive.

Worldwide investors bet against emerging markets

As mentioned above, in turbulent times, the USD is often seen as a safe haven – unless it’s a US-centric crash, then gold is favoured. Emerging markets are a volatile asset class, so traditionally they’re avoided when a recession is on the horizon. MillionDollarJourney, among others, are not recommending emerging market ETFs for this reason.

In order to understand the other reason why investors are betting against emerging markets is to ask, who are the investors? Participants of the stock market have changed substantially over the past 5 years, with retail investors now playing an increasing role in total transactional volumes.

Well, it’s no surprise that western retail investors lack the time and knowledge to invest in emerging markets. For some, even the known risk of their own economies is more compelling to invest in than the unknown risks of an emerging economy.

If we look at a map of business cycles around the world, it seems that the only economies that are experiencing growth at the moment are emerging economies. Though, this isn’t the same as saying all emerging economies are experiencing growth – many are also at risk of a recession, along with the threat of devastating inflation figures. 

Deciphering through which emerging markets offer promising prospects and which simply carry too much risk is inherently difficult because emerging markets are in a unique moment unlike developed economies. This in and of itself is the risk that many are unwilling to take, not least on the bring of a global recession; the US dollar, commodities, and energy stocks just seems a safer bet right now.

Recessions hurt the poorest

We can get too caught up in talking about the stock market. But, in the event of a crisis, it hides the truth of what is going on underneath: mass redundancies, late wage payments, mortgage defaults, and small businesses folding. In moments like these, we realise why the Kenyan Shilling declining against the dollar is important.

It is the stock market activity that can turn an emerging market on its head, through shorting its currency (and thus artificially debasing its currency overnight) and pulling billions worth of investments out of the economy.

In general, it is the asset holders and investors that lose the least. They lose the most in terms of nominal value – a $20,000 decline in value of their stock portfolio – but they lose the least because they’re wealthy enough to have surplus assets. 

Holding onto assets until they rebound in value is possible unless your cashflow dries up, but clearly, it’s the poorest who are most vulnerable regarding cash flow. Those with poor job security and minimal disposable income will struggle to repay their increasingly expensive debt repayments.

Kenya’s position in the global economy

Kenya’s political and economic reforms are seeing the fruits of their labour right now. In the face of a global crisis, Kenya marches on with economic growth with an inflation rate in-line with the average developed European economy. Plus, some of that inflation is legitimately demand-pull.

Growth is expected to continue, albeit decelerated, into 2022 and 2023. The rise in fuel cost has expected impacts on inflation, though, and is hitting the poorest. Nobody knows the outcome of the 2022 election – or the impacts of global warming – just as we don’t know how the deceleration of the growth will impact foreign investment into Kenya. Very quickly, the cost of living could become more severe due to the depreciating Shilling, prolonged inflation, and investors becoming hesitant. 

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What Business Metrics Are and How to Use Them to Develop the Company

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Business metrics - investors king

Business analytics is a tool that helps efficiently allocate financial and team resources. It’s based on the collection and analysis of statistical data obtained manually or with the help of online services. These data are measured and described by special numerical indicators – business metrics.

Business Analytics Separates Conjecture From Fact and Saves Company Resources

Business intelligence is the collection, processing and analysis of company data. Its purpose is to provide valuable insights that help businesses make informed decisions, reduce costs and implement more efficient processes.

Of course, it’s possible to make management decisions intuitively, but in conditions of increased risk, multitasking and information overload it is more reliable to rely on figures. Especially now there are tools and technologies that allow you to collect the most detailed statistics.

Here are the benefits that business intelligence gives a company.

Reduces the Time Required to React to the Behavior of the Market or Customer

Time is the most valuable resource in a highly competitive market, especially in times of crisis. This is most true for problems that are important to find and solve quickly:

  • Site stops opening in Safari browsers – Security certificate license has expired → trial subscriptions or applications will drop dramatically.
  • New app releases cause bugs on Android or iOS → there will be a surge of negative feedback on social networks or app stores.
  • The online payment system doesn’t send a verification SMS to the customer → card payments will stop working.

Similar problems can lead to serious consequences for business, so it’s important to detect and fix them as soon as possible.

Adapts to Sector, Industry, and Segment

There are a large number of useful and working analytics tools on the market, so it’s important to consider the industry, the business and the needs of the company itself.

A startup selling solar panels to another business doesn’t need 24/7 social media monitoring as much as a Facebook page about betting Uganda that needs to be in touch with a customer 24/7.

Saves Human Resources

Business intelligence tools can automate some operations, such as collecting data or creating reports. This is especially relevant for growing companies with a large number of users. If you automate routine operations, labor productivity will increase and the need for personnel, on the contrary, will decrease.

Shows the Effectiveness of Processes and Decisions in Real Time

If the company changed tariffs on its website: it made three payment plans instead of two, analytics will help you understand whether that decision was correct or not. It will show if the revenue increased or vice versa: the interface became more complicated, the time to choose increased, and the customers signed up less.

Metrics as Business Intelligence Tools

To measure and describe a company’s performance at different stages, analysts use special numerical indicators – business metrics. The right metrics help make effective management decisions.

It’s impossible to grow all metrics at once: neither internal nor external resources are enough for that. So, it’s important to focus on the short term, determine the period and make a list of hypotheses: what actions can affect a particular metric. After that, depending on the goal and the hypothesis, marketing tactics can be selected.

Let’s say we have a hypothesis: customers don’t buy a product because they don’t know the brand well. To verify this, we need to measure awareness with a sociological survey.

If the answers of the target audience confirm the hypothesis, then you need to work on recognition: write articles in the media, seek partnerships with more well-known brands, and take part in industry awards. If the hypothesis isn’t confirmed, the next hypothesis in the list is checked.

It’s necessary to correlate the indicators of different metrics and analyze the data comprehensively. You can’t make decisions based on numbers alone.

Sales may increase due to the introduction of a bonus program, or they may increase due to seasonality or the appearance of a new product item. To find out, you need to compare data from different sources.

It’s also important to communicate with other departments and discuss the results of analytics together. Sometimes the source of a problem is known to one employee, but others don’t even know about it.

It’s important to have a response team. When something happens: a new law comes out, a new technology emerges, or there is a problem with raw materials, a team of key employees takes immediate action and creates a plan of action.

Knowing the Key Metrics and Seeing the Target Is the Main Task in Working With Metrics

Collecting and analyzing data is an integral part of any business. Analytics helps make strategic decisions, choose tactics in difficult situations and allocate resources.

Business metrics are used to describe key indicators. Growth metrics, activity metrics and monetization metrics are considered critical for a company – they show whether the business is growing or not, whether the product is paying off.

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