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Please note: The Frank Talk articles listed below contain historical material. The data provided was current at the time of publication. For current information regarding any of the funds mentioned in these presentations, please visit the appropriate fund performance page.

Greece’s Darkest Hour Before Its Dawn
November 6, 2014

“Much better than expected.”

That’s how John Derrick, Director of Research here at U.S. Global Investors, summed up his trip to Greece, the beleaguered country that hopes to put its financial woes behind it and rise again like the phoenix from the Mediterranean culture’s ancient mythology.

Last week I spoke with John about his trip, which took place following his visit to Turkey to meet with companies held in our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX). Here are the highlights of our conversation.

So why do you say “better than expected”?

Greece has been in recession for six years now but it’s finally on track to turn things around. Its economy has stabilized and is beginning to improve since the crisis. It has a balanced budget. The projected GDP growth rate for this year is 0.6 percent, which doesn’t sound great, but it would be the first time since the end of 2008 that it’s been above zero. We’d like to see the purchasing manager’s index improve, though—it’s been below 50.0 for four of the past five months, indicating that the country’s manufacturing sector is still in contraction mode.

Turkish Banks Starting to Recover After a Disappointing September
click to enlarge

Greek citizens are fed up with austerity measures that were set in place to secure a multibillion-dollar bailout, and their egos were bruised after their country was downgraded last year from a developed market to an emerging market. But as the saying goes, the darkest hour is just before the dawn, and we’re now beginning to see a glimpse of the sunrise, so to speak. The painful adjustments have already been made, they’re behind Greece now, and the worst appears to be over.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, in fact, plans to ease out of the European Union’s bailout by the end of this year, which would be a whole calendar year ahead of schedule. In doing so, he might also siphon support away from anti-austerity candidates in the far-left Syriza party.

The mostly positive results from the European bank stress test seem to confirm that things are better than expected.

They do. There was a lot of anxiety going into the results, and there was this collective sigh of relief after they came back better than expected. Markets responded positively. Of the 25 banks that the European Central Bank (BCB) failed, only two were Greek: Eurobank and the National Bank of Greece. This shows that the Greek financial sector is trying to stabilize in a time when it’s predicted that the eurozone might face its third recession in six years.

The slump in the Greek shipping industry, very important to Greece’s economy, is partially to blame for the country’s current troubles. Has it improved any?

Not by much, unfortunately. I met with two shipping companies, Goldenport and Tsakos Energy Navigation. What I took away from these meetings is that dry bulk shipping rates are not recovering as expected. The industry is washed out, with many companies having been put out of business over the last three years.

The good news is that this is probably the time to accumulate these types of companies, as many of them are trading at attractive discounts to net asset values (NAVs). But it’s still a waiting game until rates head higher.

On the crude and product transport side, lots of boat supply companies are hitting the market in the next two years, and rates have recovered some. They might move modestly higher in the short term. Tsakos has talked about a master limited partnership (MLP) structure before, but that sounds like a 2016 event if it ever gets done.

Talk a little about the Greek retailing industry.

This was the best part of my visit to Greece. I met with two retailers, Jumbo and Fourlis, both of which are seen as survivors in a down economy, with very strong market share.

Jumbo, kind of like a low-end Target, has 40-percent market share in its category. I visited the store and its layout resembles an IKEA—there aren’t any traditional aisles, and you basically have to walk through the whole store to get out. Its key products are toys, seasonal items and stationery. One of the most popular retailers in Greece, Jumbo plays its cards pretty close to the chest. Its management team doesn’t go to or hold conferences—they don’t even do conference calls, actually. This hurts valuation, but the financials have been very strong.

As for Fourlis, it holds the IKEA franchise for the region and also owns a sporting goods franchise, Intersport, which is seeing positive year-over-year same-store sales. Besides home furnishings and sporting goods, it’s also involved in fashion and electronic appliances. The company’s been operating since 1950 and has locations not just in Greece but also Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Cyprus. With the recent Greek equity selloff, this is likely an opportunity.

Check out our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX) for more investment opportunities.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio. The Emerging Europe Fund invests more than 25% of its investments in companies principally engaged in the oil & gas or banking industries.  The risk of concentrating investments in this group of industries will make the fund more susceptible to risk in these industries than funds which do not concentrate their investments in an industry and may make the fund’s performance more volatile.

The Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the Emerging Europe Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 9/30/2014: Eurobank Ergasias 0.00%, National Bank of Greece 0.00%, Goldenport Holdings, Inc. 0.00%, Tsakos Energy Navigation, Ltd. 0.00%, Jumbo S.A. 1.79%, Fourlis Holdings S.A. 0.00%, IKEA 0.00%, Intersport 0.00%.  

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

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Talking Turkey with John Derrick
October 28, 2014

Upon his arrival in Istanbul, John Derrick prepared his notes for the next two days’ worth of meetings while he spent a cool, drizzly afternoon outside a café, sipping coffee and watching ships cruise by on the Bosphorus. Separating Asia from Europe, the Bosphorus has long served as an important trading lane. Today it’s the second-busiest strait in the world, traversed by an average of 48,000 vessels annually, or roughly 132 per day.

A ship crusing the Bosphorus past IstanbulThis is just one of many observations and insights that John, Director of Research at U.S. Global Investors, returned home with following his visit to Turkey and Greece, where he met with companies held in our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX) and sniffed out other potential investment opportunities.

As this was U.S. Global’s first visit to Turkey since May, I made sure to follow up with John about what he heard and saw.

So what’s changed since our last trip to the country?

Well, one major change is that Turkey has become our largest exposure in EUROX since we exited Russia. There’s a reason why it’s is such an attractive place to invest in. It has a relatively stable economy, despite the European slowdown and recent threat of ISIS. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Turkey’s GDP growth to be about 3 percent this year, a little under what it was last year, but not by too much. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was elected in August, vows to make Turkey the world’s tenth-largest economy by 2023. This is probably a little too ambitious, but the country was able to grow its economy close to 230 percent between 2002 and 2013, so the goal might be achievable.

Like many other emerging markets, Turkish stocks had a rough September. Financials, which saw a nice rally this summer, took a tumble last month, but we’re starting to see some improvement. I had a very productive meeting with Garanti, Turkey’s second-largest bank and one of our top holdings in EUROX. Our discussion touched on a number of issues such as the threat of NPLs (non-performing loans), central bank policy and what actions Garanti might need to take if the lira weakens any further. The currency’s been banged up recently because of the strong dollar, but now that the dollar’s going through a correction, the lira is trying to stabilize.

Turkish Banks Starting to Recover After a Disappointing September
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I also was able to meet with Sabanci Holdings, another company in our fund. Part of our due diligence as investment managers, as you know, is catching up with such companies, meeting with their executives and top decision-makers, gaining tacit knowledge on their business models. Sabanci is a large conglomerate with interests in, among others, Turkish bank Akbank, tire manufacturer Brisa, cement maker Akcansa and Kordsa, which manufactures internal tire components. The company continues to do well and is expected to grow between 3 and 3.5 percent this year due to increased price competitiveness.

How does the Turkish telecommunications industry look?

Turkey, believe it or not, is third in the world in using smartphones for e-commerce, behind England and Germany, so the industry is pretty strong. I met with two of the country’s largest providers, Türk Telekom and Turkcell, the latter of which we own. Right now they mostly blame each other for being irrational players in the market, but they both offer potential opportunity. Türk Telekom has some legacy landline business and offers broadband. Although Turkcell has had an ongoing shareholder dispute that’s prevented them from paying a dividend for the last four years, it looks very promising that a resolution is near. It’s still six to nine months out, but hopefully we’ll see a dividend of between 20 and 50 percent of its market cap.

The Lounge Istanbul at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport, designed by Turkish Do&Co, takes luxuruy to a new level Describe the best experience you had during your stay in Turkey.

That would have to be Do & Co, self-described as “the Gourmet Entertainment Company.” They specialize in high-end, luxury airline and event catering, with additional business in restaurants, bars and airport lounges. Even though the company is based in Austria, Turkish Airlines is its flagship customer. I got to inspect the Lounge Istanbul in the city’s international airport and was awestruck by its lavishness. By far the nicest lounge I’ve ever been in. Even the fruit was arranged in an artful way.

Do & Co is a very attractive company, and I don’t mean that just from an aesthetic point of view. It’s a double-digit sales and earnings-per-share grower—it’s expected to grow 20 percent next year. It also has a reasonable valuation and pays a dividend. We’ll certainly keep our eyes on it.

So I hear you attended a San Antonio Spurs exhibition game! How did they do?

The Lounge Istanbul at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport, designed by Turkish Do&Co, takes luxuruy to a new level The Spurs performed well as always. They went up against Fenerbahçe Ülker in the Ülker Sports Arena, named for the wealthy family and food manufacturer, which makes Godiva Chocolate, among other products. Two of the people I attended the game with—investment professionals from Finansinvest, a Turkish banking and brokerage firm—generously gave me a jersey with “John” written on the back.

One of the highlights of the game was watching the audience’s reaction to the Spurs Coyote. Here in the U.S. we take sports mascots for granted, but I think initially the Turks kind of saw him as a curiosity. They were a little taken aback seeing him taunt the referee and dribble the ball with his “paws,” but they soon realized this was all part of the theater of American basketball. By the end of the game they were laughing at the Coyote’s antics.

For more on our Emerging Europe Fund, check out its composition. Also, make sure to look out for my chat with John about his visit to Greece.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio. The Emerging Europe Fund invests more than 25% of its investments in companies principally engaged in the oil & gas or banking industries.  The risk of concentrating investments in this group of industries will make the fund more susceptible to risk in these industries than funds which do not concentrate their investments in an industry and may make the fund’s performance more volatile.

The Borsa Istanbul Banks Index (XBANK) is a capitalization-weighted free float adjusted Industry Group Index composed of National Market listed companies in the banking industry. All members of the index are also constituents of the XUMAL Sector Index.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the Emerging Europe Fund as a percentage of net assets as 09/30/2014: Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S. 3.31%, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S. 2.40%, Haci Ömer Sabanci Holding A.S. 1.96%, Ülker Bisküvi Sanayi A.S. 1.02%, DO & CO Aktiengesellschaft 0.00%, Akçansa Çimento Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi 0.00%, Kordsa Global 0.00%, Türk Telekom 0.00%, Brisa Bridgestone 0.00%, Akbank 0.00%, Finansinvest 0.00%, Turkish Airlines (Türk Hava Yollari) 0.00%.       

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

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As the Eurozone Stalls, China Cuts the Red Tape
October 27, 2014

Forty-four percent. That’s the alarming unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 25 in Italy, where I traveled recently to meet with other global chief executives and business leaders.

The reasons for Italy’s high youth unemployment? Tortuous red tape, high taxation and thuggish unions. Many of the CEOs at the event I attended noted that Italy is mired in unionization. This has created a restrictive jobs market that crowds out well-educated, aspirational young people, many of whom are forced to flee their homes and seek work elsewhere.

A penny-farthing economy on a precarious ride: Fiscal and monetary policy are imbalanced in the eurozoneBut “elsewhere” within the European Union is currently not much of an improvement. Even in Germany, the EU’s most reliable economy, train and airline unionists have gone on strike, bringing the country to a near-standstill. Incredibly, both Italy and France—where the youth unemployment rate stands at 24 percent—want the EU to foot the bill for their joblessness woes. Global investors’ patience has been stretched thin as European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel continue to bicker over how to resolve the region’s slowdown.

As I told CNBC Asia’s Bernie Lo, the EU’s default policy is to tax anything that moves. Led by pro-taxation economists such as France’s Thomas Piketty, Europe’s policies have become a sort of contagion resonating throughout the rest of the world. The eurozone countries have an imbalanced approach to jumpstarting their economies, relying only on monetary policy but failing to address fiscal issues such as punitive taxation and over-bloated entitlement spending.

You can see how disastrous the results have been: France and Germany’s industrial production has turned down recently. Their purchasing managers’ index (PMI) numbers are below the 50-mark line, indicating contraction. This trend is especially worrisome because Europe is a bigger trading partner with China than the U.S. is.

So what’s the solution?

The EU would do well to look east, specifically to China.

China Handing over Its Economy’s Keys to Capital Markets
Last week senior Chinese officials met in Beijing to resolve the sorts of problems the EU can’t seem to fix, let alone acknowledge. On the chopping block were regulations—hundreds of them. According to Premier Li Keqiang, 416 lines of red tape have allegedly either been abolished or eased in order to facilitate business growth in important sectors such as transportation, logistics and telecommunications. In June, Li vowed to slash an additional 200 measures.

The Chinese government also plans to relax oversight of key areas such as utilities and natural resources, land and the pricing mechanism of money. Gone is the government’s control over shale gas, coal bed methane and imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). The mining sector’s tax code has been reformed. And for the first time, private companies have been granted the license to ship crude oil.

It appears as if China is starting to see the light. They’re introducing competition back into their capital markets instead of strangling it, as the eurozone has done. Between January and September, 10.97 million new jobs were created in China, exceeding the government’s goal of 10 million in 2014 and beating the benchmark by an entire quarter, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

As you can see below, new business start-ups in China have skyrocketed.

China's Reduction of Red Tape Has Increased Business Start-ups, Despite Slowing Growth
click to enlarge

These red tape-cutting measures, coupled with fiscal stimulus, are needed now more than ever. As promising as Premier Li’s promises are, China still faces deflation and declining real GDP growth. The Asian country’s economy is currently headed for its slowest expansion since 1990, the main culprit of which is the struggling real estate market.

Other problems also continue to hold China back, many of them deeply-rooted and systemic. The Ease of Doing Business Index ranks China 158 out of 189 economies in the “Starting a Business” category and an almost-dead-last 185 in the “Dealing with Construction Permits” category. According to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Competitiveness Report, the two most problematic factors for conducting business in China are access to financing and corruption, another issue Chinese officials are addressing this week.

These issues can’t and won’t be fixed overnight. But unlike the EU, China acknowledges them and is seeking innovative solutions. One of the only benefits to having a one-party system, as China does, is that you can’t shuffle off a set of problems to another party and then lay the blame at their feet when they go unresolved. You must think long-term.

Constructive Manufacturing News
Last week we were relieved to learn that China’s flash PMI came in at 50.4. Anything over 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector, but as I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, what really matters is that the one-month reading crosses above the three-month moving average. Such a “cross-above” historically means that commodities and commodity stocks perform better in the coming months. Based on our research, three months following a cross-above, there’s a 73 percent chance that the S&P 500 Index will rise more than 2.4 percent and a 55 percent chance that the S&P 1500 Energy Index will rise more than 0.7 percent.

As you can see, this crossover did indeed occur, the first time it’s done so since May. 

One-Month Reading for china's Flash PMI Crosses Above the Three-Month Reading
click to enlarge

Of course, flash PMIs are merely preliminary, and we won’t know the final results until later. But for now this is certainly positive news.

Emerging Asia Wins with Cheap Commodities
One of the reasons why Chinese manufacturing is picking up steam might be the recent collapse in commodity prices. Low commodity prices undeniably hurt certain stocks in the space, and we’ve felt the pain in some of our funds. The silver-lining, though, is that these low prices have helped non-Japan Asian companies get ahead, a tailwind for our China Region Fund (USCOX). Because labor continues to be relatively cheap in Asia, commodities tend to be the single-largest company expenditure.

Lower Energy and Food Prices Will Help Chinese Businesses
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Lower steel and aluminum costs benefit machinery, automobile and equipment manufacturers, as well as homebuilders, shipbuilders and oil and drilling equipment suppliers; falling corn and wheat prices are welcomed by food and beverage producers; cheap copper is good for construction and engineering, utilities and electrical equipment.

Then there’s oil and gas. Since June, Brent crude has corrected itself over 25 percent. Again, this is a headwind for petroleum companies and large net-oil-exporting nations such as Russia and Mexico, but cheap energy equates to huge savings for emerging Asian countries. 

Asian Markets Benefit Most from Lower Oil Prices
click to enlarge

One final bellwether of economic growth I want to touch upon is accelerated electricity generation and usage. In the past, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has cited this as one of the more reliable indicators of economic activity because electricity is not easily stored and the data is difficult to manipulate. This month, energy production improved 4.1 percent year-over-year —not a huge cause for celebration, but a step in the right direction nonetheless. 

Increased Electricity Production in China Is a Reliable Indicator of Economic Activity
click to enlarge

With a more balanced approach to monetary and fiscal policy than the eurozone, China is able to be more productive.China Is a Long-Term Story
Compared to many eurozone nations, China is relatively young. Whereas the median age in Italy is 43 years, in China it’s 35. There’s huge growth potential in this region, especially now that Premier Li has resolved to cut red tape and balance monetary and fiscal policy. In 10 years’ time, the 35-to-45 cohort, a well-educated group with good salaries and credit, will expand dramatically.

Consider this: of the 1.35 billion Chinese citizens, about 618 million, nearly half, have access to the Internet. Of those, 302 million, nearly half again, shop online. These numbers will continue to grow, and with them, greater investment opportunity. Name one Western European company that, in recent years, has achieved the sort of success Alibaba, Tencent or Baidu has. Not in a Piketty economy.

I encourage investors who are seeking growth potential to check out our China Region Fund’s composition.

And to those who prefer a “no-drama” fund, please take a look at our Near-Term Fax Free Fund (NEARX).

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio. Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk; their value declines as interest rates rise. Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local income taxes, and if applicable, may subject certain investors to the Alternative Minimum Tax as well. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in securities that pay taxable interest. Income or fund distributions attributable to capital gains are usually subject to both state and federal income taxes. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may be exposed to risks related to a concentration of investments in a particular state or geographic area. These investments present risks resulting from changes in economic conditions of the region or issuer.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The S&P 500 Energy Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the energy sector as a subset of the S&P 500.

The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI is published a week ahead of the final HSBC China PMI every month. It analyzes 85-90 percent of the responses to the Final PMI from purchasing executives in more than 400 small, medium and large manufacturers, both state-owned and private enterprises.

The Doing Business Project, launched in 2002, looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle. By gathering and analyzing comprehensive quantitative data to compare business regulation environments across economies and over time, Doing Business encourages countries to compete towards more efficient regulation; offers measurable benchmarks for reform; and serves as a resource for academics, journalists, private sector researchers and others interested in the business climate of each country. The Global Competitiveness Index, developed for the World Economic Forum, is used to assess competitiveness of nations.  The Index is made up of over 113 variables, organized into 12 pillars, with each pillar representing an area considered as an important determinant of competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the China Region Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 9/30/2014: Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. 0.42%, Tencent Holding, Ltd. 5.62%, Baidu, Inc. 2.44%.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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New Economic Report Card Shows that the U.S. Still Has the Competitive Edge
October 16, 2014

America’s still got it.

That’s according to the latest Global Competitiveness Report, which names the U.S. the third-most competitive nation in the world, our highest ranking since 2008.

For 10 years now the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published its annual competitiveness report, which assesses the strength of 144 countries’ 12 “pillars,” including institutions, infrastructure, health and primary education and higher education. It then ranks these countries based on their overall ability to promote prosperity for their citizens.

Singapore retains its number two spot for the fourth straight year, while Switzerland leads for the sixth year in a row.

Top 20 Countries in 2013 - 2014 Global Competiveness Index
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From 2006 until 2008, the U.S. held the top position, but following the financial crisis, our ranking slipped to number seven in 2012.

This year, the WEF notes:

“U.S. companies are highly sophisticated and innovative, and they are supported by an excellent university system... Combined with flexible labor markets and the scale opportunities afforded by the sheer size of its domestic economy—the world’s largest by far—these qualities make the United States very competitive.”

You might be thinking: But wait, didn’t China’s economy just exceed our own?

Yes and no.

It’s true that, when U.S. and China’s economies are not adjusted for costs of living, the U.S. is still “the world’s largest by far.” Our GDP stands at around $16.8 trillion whereas China’s is $9.3 trillion.

But based on purchasing power parity (PPP), a calculation that factors in relative costs of living to make comparisons between and among countries “fairer,” China has indeed caught up with and surpassed the U.S.

China's Economy Surpasses the U.S.'s Based on Purchasing Power Parity
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This news might bruise some readers’ egos, but it’s actually a tailwind for both commodities and our China Region Fund (USCOX). China is such an important player in the global economy that it’s nearly impossible for any serious investor to see China’s ascent as anything but positive.

Below are some of the key takeaways from the Global Competitiveness Report.

Strengths

The economic report card gives the U.S. many accolades, including its capacity to attract and retain talented people from abroad. I always say that when people want to innovate and start businesses, they typically come here to the United States. The report reveals it’s relatively easy in the U.S. for “entrepreneurs with innovative but risky projects to find venture capital.” Our financial services are strong, and we have ready access to bank loans for sound business plans. When it comes to the ease of raising money by issuing shares on the stock market, we come in at sixth place, following Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Africa, New Zealand and Qatar.

The United States ranks high in company spending on research and development.Only Switzerland beats us in our capacity for innovation.

We score very well in our availability and corporate adoption of the latest technologies, as well as availability of scientists and engineers, quality of scientific research institutions and company spending on R&D. We rank eleventh in the number of patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), amounting to 149.8 per one million U.S. citizens.

In the business sophistication pillar, we excel above all other countries in our use of sophisticated marketing tools and techniques.

Areas for Improvement

It comes as no surprise that the top three most problematic factors for doing business in the U.S., according to the report, are tax rates, tax regulations and inefficient government bureaucracy. It’s for these reasons that some businesses, including Burger King, Medtronic and Chiquita, are in the process of moving their corporate headquarters to countries with friendlier tax rates—Ireland, Canada and Singapore, among others.

High tax rates, burdensome regulations and inefficient government bureaucracy are all cited as "problematic factors" for doing business in the U.S.To prevent such tax inversions from occurring, our tax code sorely needs amending. Our 35-percent corporate income tax rate is the highest among the 34 member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and we actually rank 32 out of 34 in the 2014 International Tax Competitiveness Index. Only Portugal and France fare worse.

Indeed, the Global Competitiveness Report shows that, to a large extent, taxes reduce the incentive to work: in this department we come in at number 37, just between China and Ghana. As for wastefulness of government spending, we rank number 73, trailing France by one point and China by 49 points. The report also shows that it can often be difficult for some businesses to comply with U.S. government regulations.

If our government were to simplify the tax code and ease regulations, there’s no doubt that the U.S. could once again claim top honor.

Other crucial areas for improvement include quality of electrical supply (we come in at number 24, following Barbados), soundness of banks (number 49), gross domestic secondary enrollment rate (59) and quality of math and science education (51).

Emerging Countries 

Some of the emerging markets that we track at U.S. Global Investors either made gains this year or maintained their positions.

Poland, for instance, held on to its rank of 43. The WEF noted the country’s “improvements… in institutions, infrastructure and education,” its “increased flexibility in labor market efficiency” and its “[c]ontinued structural reforms geared toward strengthening its innovation and knowledge-driven economy.” A well-educated population and secure financial market make Poland globally competitive, but to truly boost its innovative capacity, it needs to improve its infrastructure, soften regulations and make settling business disputes more efficient.

Greece jumped 10 spots to reach the rank of 81. Despite its high levels of government debt, the Mediterranean country has managed to improve the functioning of its goods and labor markets and reduce its budget deficit. However, its government is still inefficient and its financial market has yet to recover from the recent crisis that hit parts of Europe. A lack of access to financing is the most problematic factor for doing business in Greece.

Other key emerging markets that rose up the list were China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Keep Investing in America

Despite a few areas for improvement, the United States is still the preeminent place on earth to invest, with plenty of openings for growth. As we continue to recover from the recession, now is the most opportune time in years to place your trust in America’s future.

Our two U.S. equity funds, All American Equity Fund (GBTFX) and Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX), have been impacted by the global economic slowdown and growth scare. Cyclical stocks—the kind we focus on in these two funds—have lagged defensive stocks, by about 6 percent in the last month and a half.

Cyclicals are those types of goods and services consumers can afford to purchase when the economy is performing well. Examples include discretionary-type companies such as Apple, Priceline and Tesla Motors. Defensives, on the other hand, typically remain stable, even in times of market downturns. Examples include electricity, gas and food.

Cyclical Stocks Have Dropped 6 Percent in Last Month-and-a-Half Compared to Defensive Stocks
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This might sound like troubling news, but we view it as an opportunity. As you can see, a similar discrepancy between cyclical and defensive stocks occurred in April and May of last year, and yet mean reversion corrected it. We’re optimistic that such a turn will occur again, which means that now might be an ideal time to accumulate cyclicals.

Our Near-Term Tax Free Fund invests in the schools that keep America competitive.Another way to potentially capitalize on our nation’s successes is U.S. Global Investors’ Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX), which invests in high-quality, U.S. municipal bonds. A significant portion of the fund is invested in health services, public schools and higher education, three of the 12 pillars that the WEF assesses. To keep these services operational and efficient, state and local governments rely on funding from the very bonds we invest in, which in turn improves Americans’ livelihood as well as the businesses they run.

Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, NEARX has delivered positive tax-free income for the past 13 years. The fund seeks preservation of capital and has demonstrated minimal fluctuation in its share price, with a net asset value (NAV) that has floated in the $2 range.

Near-Term Tax Free Fund Annual Total Return
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Because of its risk-adjusted returns, NEARX has earned the coveted five-star rating from Morningstar* for the five-year performance period and four stars overall. Check out its performance here.

To learn more about how you can help keep the United States competitive, I encourage you to request an information packet.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

Quarter End Average Annual Total Returns as of 09/30/2014
YTD 1
Year
5
Year
10
Year
Since
Inception
Gross
Expense
Ratio
Expense
Ratio
After Waivers
2.66% 3.26% 2.59% 2.97% 4.22% 1.21% 0.45%

Expense ratio as stated in the most recent prospectus. The expense ratio after waivers is a contractual limit through December 31, 2015, for the Near-Term Tax Free Fund, on total fund operating expenses (exclusive of acquired fund fees and expenses, extraordinary expenses, taxes, brokerage commissions and interest). Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. For a portion of periods, the fund had expense limitations, without which returns would have been lower. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund's prospectus which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS.

Morningstar Rating

Overall/164
3-Year/164
5-Year/137
10-Year/103

Morningstar ratings based on risk-adjusted return and number of funds
Category: Municipal National Short-Term Funds
Through: 09/30/2014

Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk; their value declines as interest rates rise. Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local income taxes, and if applicable, may subject certain investors to the Alternative Minimum Tax as well. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in securities that pay taxable interest. Income or fund distributions attributable to capital gains are usually subject to both state and federal income taxes. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may be exposed to risks related to a concentration of investments in a particular state or geographic area. These investments present risks resulting from changes in economic conditions of the region or issuer. Though the Near-Term Tax Free Fund seeks minimal fluctuations in share price, it is subject to the risk that a decline in the credit quality of a portfolio holding could cause a fund’s share price to decline. Stock markets can be volatile and can fluctuate in response to sector-related or foreign-market developments. For details about these and other risks the Holmes Macro Trends Fund may face, please refer to the fund’s prospectus. Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio.

Morningstar Ratings are based on risk-adjusted return. The Morningstar Rating for a fund is derived from a weighted-average of the performance figures associated with its three-, five- and ten-year (if applicable) Morningstar Rating metrics. Past performance does not guarantee future results. For each fund with at least a three-year history, Morningstar calculates a Morningstar Ratingä based on a Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure that accounts for variation in a fund’s monthly performance (including the effects of sales charges, loads, and redemption fees), placing more emphasis on downward variations and rewarding consistent performance. The top 10% of funds in each category receive 5 stars, the next 22.5% receive 4 stars, the next 35% receive 3 stars, the next 22.5% receive 2 stars and the bottom 10% receive 1 star. (Each share class is counted as a fraction of one fund within this scale and rated separately, which may cause slight variations in the distribution percentages.)

The Global Competitiveness Index, developed for the World Economic Forum, is used to assess competitiveness of nations. The Index is made up of over 113 variables, organized into 12 pillars, with each pillar representing an area considered as an important determinant of competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

The Tax Foundation’s International Tax Competitiveness Index (ITCI) measures the degree to which the 34 OECD countries’ tax systems promote competitiveness through low tax burdens on business investment and neutrality through a well-structured tax code. The ITCI considers more than forty variables across five categories: Corporate Taxes, Consumption Taxes, Property Taxes, Individual Taxes, and International Tax Rules.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the funds mentioned as a percentage of net assets as of 09/30/2014: Burger King (0.00%), Medtronic (0.00%), Chiquita (0.00%), Apple, Inc. (4.35% in All American Equity Fund, 4.56% in Holmes Macro Trends Fund), The Priceline Group, Inc. (3.00% in All American Equity Fund, 3.03% in Holmes Macro Trends Fund), Tesla Motors, Inc. (2.09% in All American Equity Fund, 2.93% in Holmes Macro Trends Fund).  

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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Warning: Market Correction Last Week… Did You See the Opportunity?
October 13, 2014

While stocks fell around the world last week amid growing concerns over global economic growth, Europe’s slowdown can’t stop emerging market population growth that drives long-term commodity demand. If the short-term market volatility concerns you, a solution is short-term tax-free municipal bonds. Check out the 5 Reasons Why.

Last week we saw a continued selloff in energy stocks and a slump in commodity prices, specifically oil. In light of this, I've highlighted some key points portfolio manager Brian Hicks and I made during our latest webcast that might offer investors some clarity and insight into our management strategy when such market nervousness occurs.

Everything that appears in italics is commentary from the webcast.

PMI: Commodities’ Crystal Ball

You look at the stock market as a precursor to economic activity six months out. If you’re looking at commodities, you must be looking at PMIs.

JP Morgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index
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What our research has shown is that there is a 60- to 80-percent probability of commodities and commodity stocks rising when the global PMI’s one-month reading is above the three-month trend. When its one-month is below the three-months, there is a high probability of these sectors and stocks falling over the next six months.

Commodities and Commodity Stocks Historically Rose Six Months After PMI CrossOver
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The global PMI reading is a composite of each country’s unique PMI. So we look at individual countries and try to gauge what their monetary and fiscal policies are going to be. These government policies have a high correlation to commodity demand, which is significant to resource investments.

Brian Hicks

Brian HicksBrian Hicks, portfolio manager of our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX), stepped in to share his thoughts on the resources sector, devoting special attention to the recent performance of crude oil.

Despite the recent selloff, I believe it’s actually an excellent time to be looking at resource stocks and energy stocks in particular.

 

 

The Polarity of the Dollar and Crude Oil

The following chart mathematically depicts the oversold nature of crude oil:

Year-Over-Year Percent Change Oscillator: S&P 1500 Energy vs. U.S. Dollar
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The dollar is significantly overbought relative to crude oil. The dollar is up almost two standard deviations, crude oil down almost one standard deviation. History has shown, whether it’s in 2011 or 2012, that this has been a good time to buy crude oil.

Natural Resources Stocks Priced to Move

Another factor that gets me excited about these energy stocks and natural resource stocks is the metrics that we’re seeing from a fundamental standpoint. Looking at the top 50 holdings for our Global Resources Fund, what jumps out immediately is just how cheap these stocks are relative to their growth rate, trading at 20 times in the last quarter earnings. Sales were growing at over 20 percent.

Global-Resources-Fund-Portfolio-Construction
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These companies are very profitable, generating return on equity of 25 percent, paying a dividend yield on average—about 2.7 percent—and growing that dividend at about a 30-percent click. And as you can see, these stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 Index so far year-to-date (YTD), even with this pullback.

A Thirst for Oil

Looking at global oil demand, you can see it’s been unrelenting through recessions, through bull markets, bear markets, and it looks like it’s going to continue to go up at a fairly steady level based on latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Global Oil Demand Reaching New Highs
click to enlarge

Below is a very important point to consider. Where oil prices are now, we’re getting to the area where production could be cut off because prices are not high enough to incentivize new development, new production and new drilling.

2015 U.S. Tight Oil Production by Incentive Price
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If you look at crude oil price somewhere in the area of $80 to $90, we have about 650,000 barrels per day of production that need to be supported at that particular level. So we really can’t go too much lower in terms of pricing. Otherwise, we would see a significant drop in the supply of oil.

Just to give you a sense of the scale here, we’re expected to grow demand by one million barrels per day, and we have 650,000 barrels that need an oil price north of $80.

Pricing Black Gold to Stay in the Black

Another significant factor is the price that’s necessary for countries that produce crude oil or export crude oil out of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) or non-OPEC.

Producer Country Budget Breakeven Prices
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On average, you need to see $95-per-barrel prices in order for these countries to balance their budgets—their fiscal budgets. What really sticks out is Russia and Saudi Arabia. They’re the two largest exporters of crude oil and, as you can see above, Russia requires an oil price north of $100, Saudi Arabia right at about $95 per barrel on a Brent basis, and we’re below that number now.

The next OPEC meeting is in November. I would be surprised if we did not see another production cut if oil prices remain at these levels. I think that OPEC and the Saudis need to come in and support prices even more so than they already have following the cut in August.

U.S. Gushing Oil

One area that’s been very topical and interesting as of late is the growth in U.S. crude oil production. It’s at a new 25-year high.

U.S. Crude Oil Production at a 25-Year High
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We’ve gone from basically 4.5 million barrels in 2008 to 8.5 million barrels. Energy stocks are no longer just the commodity play. They’re also a volume growth play.

You can see this paradigm shift in that many of these shale producers have gone out and invested a lot of capital over the years and now, over the next two years or so, we’re going to start to see a free cash flow payback on that initial investment and infrastructure in fracking and developing their resource.

U.S. Oilfield Cash Flow and Capital Expenditure
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Because they’re going to start seeing free cash flow, I think there’s the potential we could get a rerating in multiples to that cash flow. Instead of trading four to six times, maybe we trade higher, somewhere between seven or eight times due to that positive free cash flow metric.

Commodities: A Value Play

Commodities have way underperformed other asset classes, bonds, U.S. equity, and we feel like this is where the value is at. This is the area where you can put capital to work for the long term and outperform, whereas some of the other areas such as in bonds or U.S. stocks may not perform as well.

Class Returns
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There are pockets of strength within the commodity sector where I think we will see companies profit and do well. On the whole, given this pullback, I’m very optimistic about resources going forward.


No Faith in the G20 Central Bankers

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in WashingtonLast weekend the finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies met in Washington to discuss, among other issues, solutions to Europe’s weak economic performance. The region, whose sluggishness has negatively affected the global market, is at risk of dipping into its third recession since 2008.

I have no confidence that this body can persuade Europe to act sooner rather than later to dig itself out of further economic hardship. As I’ve observed in my global travels, the G20 central bankers are not interested in promoting and facilitating trade among nations. Instead, they’re interested foremost in levying more taxes and imposing more regulations that actually impede international trade.

It’s Economics 101: Capital cannot be spurred or created with high taxes and strangulating regulations.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi assures the media that the eurozone will recover soon, but as we wait, the region continues to underperform and drag the rest of the markets down with it. European growth in the second quarter was flat, and this quarter doesn’t look as if it will fare much better. France’s manufacturing sector has steadily contracted. Over the last 12 months, it’s seen only two PMI scores above 50, which would indicate expansion. Even usually-reliable Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy, is in the midst of a downturn.

The U.S. has been gradually recovering from its worst economic period since the Great Depression, and to continue this progress, we need strong trading partners. Investors have become impatient waiting for Europe to get its fiscal act together and stop trying to rationalize even more taxes and regulations.

If it weren’t for the U.S. and Canada propping up the rest of the world, Europe would likely be in a more depressed state than it already is. 

Again, you can still catch the replay of last week’s webcast, which includes more on macroeconomics and a timely discussion of gold and gold stocks with portfolio manager Ralph Aldis.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.

Quarter End Average Annual Total Returns as of 12/31/2014
YTD 1
Year
5
Year
10
Year
Since
Inception
Gross
Expense
Ratio
Expense
Cap
-28.74% -28.74% -3.22% 3.26% 4.11% 1.60% n/a

Expense ratios as stated in the most recent prospectus. Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. For a portion of the periods, the fund had expense limitations, without which returns would have been lower. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund's prospectus (e.g., short-term trading fees of 0.05%) which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. Because the Global Resources Fund concentrates its investments in specific industries, the fund may be subject to greater risks and fluctuations than a portfolio representing a broader range of industries.

The J.P. Morgan Global Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the global manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The S&P 500 Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the material sector as a subset of the S&P 500. The S&P 500 Energy Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the energy sector as a subset of the S&P 500. The S&P 1500 Energy Index is an unmanaged market capitalization index that tracks the companies in the energy sector as a subset of the S&P 1500.

There is no guarantee that the issuers of any securities will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, will remain at current levels or increase over time. Note that stocks and Treasury bonds differ in investment objectives, costs and expenses, liquidity, safety, guarantees or insurance, fluctuation of principal or return, and tax features.

Standard deviation is a measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean. The more spread apart the data, the higher the deviation. Standard deviation is also known as historical volatility.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. Past performance does not guarantee future results. This news release may include certain “forward-looking statements” including statements relating to revenues, expenses, and expectations regarding market conditions. These statements involve certain risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The “Top 50” is a group of resource stocks that U.S. Global Investors selects based on the factors shown above. This group of stocks represents a subgroup of the portfolio of the Global Resources Funds. A fund’s yield may differ from the average yield of dividend-paying stocks held by the fund. Holdings are subject to change and past performance does not guarantee future results.

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Net Asset Value
as of 11/22/2017

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.97 0.03 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $7.36 No Change World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $5.76 0.03 China Region Fund USCOX $12.18 0.03 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $7.09 0.04 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.06 -0.05 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $21.36 -0.06 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.21 -0.01 U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change