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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.

How these 12 TPP Nations Could Forever Change Global Growth
October 12, 2015

Historic. Landmark. Groundbreaking. Revolutionary.

These are among many of the words that have been used lately to describe the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, which was finally signed in Atlanta last Monday by 12 participating Pacific Rim nations.

The current members include Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

runners on the starting line

After nearly seven years of negotiations, the TPP promises to deliver unprecedented free and fair global trade among the 12 participant nations.

Once ratified by each country’s congress or parliament—which is likely to happen in early 2016—the accord will become the most significant, most economically-impactful trade deal in history. As many as 18,000 tariffs are expected to be eliminated. It will remove barriers to foreign investment, streamline customs procedures and create an international investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, among much more.

Global Purchasing Managers' Index Continues to Deteriorate
click to enlarge

The Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, predicts that the resultant savings could boost the world economy by an incredible $223 billion by 2025.

Today, the 12 members control more than a quarter of all global trade, representing close to $10 trillion. But it’s estimated that once the TPP goes live, the trade percentage could climb to as high as 50 percent, according to CLSA.

The trade pact couldn’t have come at a better time. Global growth is slowing, and mounting tariffs threaten to suffocate trade. Even though the TPP’s full implementation is months and, in some cases, years away, it’s encouraging to know that positive change is on its way.

Having said that, no one knows the full details yet and it might be a while before we can see the official documents. When that time comes, we’ll analyze the deal to see which countries, industries and sectors stand to benefit the most. And of course the pact has already become the subject of criticism, targeted specifically at how it handles pharmaceuticals and intellectual property.

All in all, however, the world has needed such an agreement for years now to bring unilateral trade liberalization into the 21st century.

China Misses First-Mover Advantage but Isn’t out of the Race

The most notable player missing-in-action is China, and to a lesser extent Korea, both of which have taken a “wait and see” attitude. That will likely change in the coming years. China sat this round out because the trade deal would have imposed several stringent economic, labor and environmental conditions on the Asian giant, as it does on all TPP nations.

a penny-farthing economy o a precarious ride: governments must learn to balance monetary and fiscal policies to remain competitive globally

But China and Korea will doubtlessly have little choice but to join the team once they see the enormous benefits enjoyed by participating countries. China’s southern neighbor Vietnam, for instance, is expected to see a huge 10 percent boost in its GDP by 2025—twice as much as any other Asian market—according to Credit Suisse. Malaysia, a 5 percent boost.

The business relationship between the U.S. and China—the world’s two largest economies—grows stronger every day, and China doesn’t want to see its competitive edge dulled by other Asian countries that chose to be members of the TPP.

Here in Texas, where a lot of public signage is written in both English and Spanish, I’m starting to see more and more Mandarin, an indicator that U.S.-China relations are strengthening. The picture of the ad, which I took at the San Marcos Premium Outlets mall just north of San Antonio, is clearly targeted to Chinese tourists. It’s an ad for China Merchants Bank and reads: “In America, use Merchants Bank credit card! Very American!”

 

Vietnam Will See the Biggest Long-Term Economic Benefits

“Very American,” indeed. To be clear, the real winner in the formation of the TPP is the U.S., for whom the deal is as much about geopolitics as it is about trade. In a briefing this week, the National Bank of Canada writes that the TPP “would allow the United States to take the lead in setting the rules of commerce for about 40 percent of the global economy.”

But as I said, Vietnam is poised to see the biggest upside potential as a result of the deal. The Southeast Asian country is a large manufacturer and exporter of textiles, apparel and footwear, all of which the U.S. currently imposes a very high 17 percent duty on. That’s set to disappear, saving the country billions. Because foreign investment in Vietnam is expected to accelerate under the deal, banks, consumer goods and construction are also set to benefit.

Global Purchasing Managers' Index Continues to Deteriorate
click to enlarge

Malaysia is another country that stands to see sweeping changes. Right now the country doesn’t have a trade agreement with the U.S., Canada, Mexico or Peru. Once the deal is ratified and implemented, Malaysia’s vital palm oil, rubber, plywood, electronics, textile and automotive parts industries will be open for business to some of the world’s largest economies.

As for Japan, its all-important, $538 billion auto industry will receive a huge shot in the arm. Consultancy firm Eurasia Group estimates that the TPP could help add $105 billion to Japan’s GDP by 2025.

Say It with Me: Government Policy Is a Precursor to Change

Not only is the Trans-Pacific Partnership great for global trade but it also promises to help bring fiscal and monetary policies into balance. The deal is a welcome and much-needed development from a fiscal perspective, one that we haven’t seen from world governments in more than a generation. Lately, everything’s been about monetary policy—specifically quantitative easing and currency manipulation—to stimulate growth.  A reduction in taxes, tariffs and regulation also promotes growth.

Top 10 Most Competitive Countries, According to the World Economic Forum
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Here at U.S. Global Investors, we often say it’s the policy, not the party, that really matters. Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike are all capable of effecting change that can both move the U.S. forward as well as set it back.

On President Barack Obama’s watch, many new restrictive rules and regulations have been enacted in the U.S. that clog up the flow of capital like cholesterol and hinder business growth and innovation. I’ve written and spoken about these policies on many occasions.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that he’s been one of the most fervent champions for the creation of the TPP, even going so far as to stand up against several prominent members of his own party. I’m certain that in the decades to come, the TPP will emerge as the Obama administration’s crowning foreign policy achievement.

What the Influencers Are Saying

I’d like to end by sharing some compelling comments on the TPP by key policymakers, business leaders and economists. Their optimism should convince anyone that the TPP, once ratified, could end up being the best thing to happen to global trade in at least a generation.

To my Canadian friends and readers, I wish you a happy and blessed Canadian Thanksgiving!

Malaysia currently puts a 30 percent tax on American auto parts. Vietnam puts a tax of as much as 70 percent on every car American automakers sell in Vietnam. Under this agreement, all those foreign taxes will fall. Most of them will fall to zero. So we are knocking down barriers that are currently preventing American businesses from selling in these countries and are preventing American workers from benefiting from those sales to the fastest-growing, most dynamic region in the world.

U.S. President Barack Obama

This agreement in my view is truly transformational. To have one set of rules for 12 destinations is going to turbo charge regional supply chains and global supply chains and reduce costs.

Australia Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb

Free-trade agreements create new opportunities for American companies and their workers. I thank the United States Trade Representative and fellow trade negotiators for their commitment to finalizing this agreement. U.S. companies need to be able to compete and win in global markets to support well-paying jobs at home. It’s critical we provide our manufacturers and exporters with the best tools to compete on a level-playing field in markets worldwide.

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg

In many parts of the world, food and agricultural products still face the legacy of high import barriers. We believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow food to move more freely across borders from places of plenty to places of need, which benefits farmers and consumers around the world.

Cargill Chairman and CEO David MacLennan

 

Canada’s mining industry has been a strong advocate for liberalized trade and investment flows for many years. NAFTA, free trade agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia and other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia have all helped to increase Canadian exports and investment, supporting jobs for Canadians here and abroad. TPP, representing such a massive trade block, including critical emerging markets, is a trading partnership Canada must not risk being left out of.

Mining Association of Canada President and CEO Pierre Gratton

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

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more of U.S. Global Investors Funds as of 9/30/2015: The Boeing Co.

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How Will These Leaders of 4 Billion People Change the World?
September 28, 2015

Last week the U.S. played host to three prominent and illustrious leaders to billions of people: Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis. Among them, they lead—either politically or spiritually—nearly 4 billion people worldwide, more than half of everyone living on the planet right now.

Shanghai Gold Exchange Withdrawals As Of August

The effect of their visits cannot be overstated. I was attending an ETF conference in New York City, where the arrival of the populist Francis, hugely popular and revered among more than just Catholics for his humility and inclusiveness, brought the already-clogged city streets to a veritable standstill. So stacked were the cars and trucks as a result of Pope Mania that I was forced to cancel scheduled interviews on CNBC and Bloomberg. New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the pontiff’s arrival in the Big Apple during the United Nations General Assembly—when 90 percent of the world leaders were in the city at the same time—was the largest security challenge the department and city had ever faced.

I have immense respect for his Holy One. He embraces change, both within the Vatican and globally, and for the Jesuit tradition of education and ministry.

For many people, including me, Pope Francis is a thought-provoking figure. In his speech to the United Nations last week, he said that economic progress can be achieved through “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.” I question his economic logic while admiring his caring heart and good intentions. Far-reaching progress can best be achieved through development, not redistribution. The secular proverb “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” comes to my mind.

Certainly the pontiff’s aspiration to feed the world is honorable, but the people who take the risk to plant the seeds and work hard to harvest the crops are not to blame for the hungers that exist. America is the most charitable nation on earth and our focus for increasing prosperity should be on helping people to fish and farm for a lifetime of financial independence.

Perhaps not as wildly anticipated, but no less important, were stateside visits from the heads of the second- and seventh-largest economies in the world, China and India.

Mr. Xi: Trust Me, All’s Well

In his first stateside visit, President Xi Jinping addressed approximately 700 American businesspeople in Seattle last week, during which he, according to Foreign Policy magazine, touched on “the usual promises to stay the course on market reforms, the insistence of China’s status as a developing country” and “the plea for mutual ‘deep’ cultural understanding,” among other promises.

Mr. Xi also reassured his audience to worry not about the Chinese stock market, which I’ve written frequently about. He defended the intervention his government has made, arguing that the government has stabilized further deterioration and contained investor panic. 

Likewise, he pledged to work with the U.S. to curb additional cybersecurity breaches such as the kind that struck Sony Pictures back in November 2014.

American Business Leaders Expect Massive Growth in India

Last week marked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second visit to the U.S., the first time being in October 2014 when he spoke at Madison Square Gardens in a rousing, rock-star reception.

As is the case with most politicians from whom much is expected, Modi’s star has dulled somewhat since then. Many business leaders are starting to grow impatient about the slowness of his government’s ability to eliminate investment hurdles.

But the promise he brings of a modern India, with electricity and Internet access for all 1.2 billion Indians, still remains more than just a dream.

U.S. business leaders seek to capitalize on this growth.

Janet Yellen Interest Rate Liftoff Delayed Again

Let’s be clear, though: India still has a lot of catching up to do. Morgan Stanley estimates that the country is at least seven years behind China when it comes to Internet penetration and online shopping. In 2014, India had about 243 million active Internet users, or about 19 percent of its population. In the same year, China had some 641 million users, or nearly half of its population, according to Internet Live Stats.

Quite contradictorily, though, Facebook users in India have skyrocketed to 100 million active monthly accounts, which represent a larger presence on the social media platform than in the U.S, according to Tech2. This means there’s huge upside indeed.

Modi: Tech-in-Chief

Narendra Modi is one of the most tech-savvy world leaders, a characteristic he wants to encourage his fellow Indians to embrace. He’s a prolific user of Twitter, followed by a staggering 15.1 million people. By comparison, President Barack Obama’s official presidential Twitter handle, @POTUS, has 4.38 million followers while @Pontifex, Pope Francis’ Twitter handle, has 7.35 million followers.

Narendra Modi vs Pesident Obama Twitter account

It’s no wonder, then, that Modi sought an audience with top tech industry leaders such as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk—some of the same figures Mr. Xi met with earlier in the week. All of them have expressed interest in diverting more resources to India, where the next huge surge in Internet usage is expected to take place. Retail giant Amazon, for instance, plans to spend $2 billion to expand its presence in India. Facebook will offer a free Internet service through its Internet.org platform.

In a YouTube video, Sundar Pichai, Google’s current Product Chief and its next CEO, welcomed Modi on his visit to immigrant-friendly Silicon Valley. Born in India himself, Pichai highlighted the strong, longstanding partnership between Indian and America’s major tech hub, stating:

The bond between India and Silicon Valley is strong. India’s long been an exporter or talented tech companies… The products by Indian graduates have helped revolutionize the world, but it is India that’s now undergoing its own revolution… Prime Minister Modi’s digital India vision is central to the revolution. It focused on connecting the 1.2 billion people in India.

You can watch Pichai’s full comments below.

In his personal tweets, Modi reassures followers that the goal of his visit is to strengthen business relations between the U.S. and India and to open his country up to further investment opportunities. This is a persistent challenge, as India is widely seen as one of the more difficult countries to conduct business in.

Modi has repeatedly pledged to speed up efforts to improve his country’s business climate for foreign investors. 

In the picture above, you can see a seated Modi surrounded by powerful Fortune 500 executives such as Citigroup’s Michael O’Neill, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Lockheed Martin’s Marilyn Hewson, Boeing’s Bertrand-Marc Allen and many more.

During his visit, Modi approved a $3 billion deal with Boeing—which we own in both our All American Equity Fund (GBTFX) and Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX)—a purchase that’s eclipsed by Xi Jinping’s plan to buy 300 Boeing jets worth $38 billion, not to mention an arrangement for an assembly plant to be built in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping just approved the purchase of $38 billion worth of Boeing jets.

In our quarterly earnings webcast, I mentioned the importance of staying abreast of government policy changes and the latest purchasing manager’s index (PMI) numbers. While India’s August PMI reading holds fairly steady at 52.3, indicating manufacturing expansion, China’s still remains in contraction territory at 47.3.

Both government policy reform and PMIs help our investment team inform its strategies. Government policy, as led by the G20 countries, has unfortunately been focused largely on synchronized global taxation and regulation since 2008. These are not great precursors for commodity demand.

When we can return to a point where governments are more focused on fiscal policies, reducing taxes, streamlining regulations and unleashing capital, I think that that would be a tipping point from a big macro sector theme.

So shorter term, we’ll be looking for the change in global PMIs, which would indicate global synchronized growth. The “magic” number is when PMI is above 50, and the momentum starts when the one month crosses above the three months. This is the positive, constructive sign that demand for commodities is picking up, and we’ll be looking for it.

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.

Stock markets can be volatile and share prices can fluctuate in response to sector-related and other risks as described in the fund prospectus.

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 All American Equity Fund and Holmes Macro Trends Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 6/30/2015: Sony Corp. 0.00%; Facebook Inc. 2.22% Holmes Macro Trends Fund; Apple Inc. 3.10% All American Equity Fund, 4.46& Holmes Macro Trends Fund; Tesla Motors Inc. 0.00%; Amazon.com Inc. 0.00%; Google Inc. 0.00%; Citigroup Inc. 1.58% All American Equity Fund; PepsiCo Inc. 1.15% All American Equity Fund; IBM 0.93% All American Equity Fund; Lockheed Martin Corporation 0.00%; The Boeing Co. 1.06% All American Equity Fund, 1.50% 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.

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Here's Your Guide to What the Influencers Are Saying about Commodities
September 8, 2015

A few legendary influencers in investing are making huge bets right now on commodities, an area that’s faced—and continues to face—some pretty strong headwinds. What are we to make of this?

I already shared with you that famed hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller made a $323-million bet on gold, now the largest position in his family office fund. It’s also come to light that George Soros recently moved $2 million into coal producers Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. Meanwhile, activist investor Carl Icahn took an 8.5-percent position in copper miner Freeport-McMoRan, which we own.

These giants of the investing world have just given huge endorsements for gold, coal, copper, and precious metals

My friend Marc Faber, the widely-respected Swiss investor and editor of the influential “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” is now plugging for the mining sector and precious metals. Speaking to Bloomberg TV last week, Faber claimed that investors are running low on safe assets and suggested they revisit mining companies:

If I had to turn anywhere where… the opportunity for large capital gains exists, and the downside is, in my opinion, limited, it would be the mining sectors, specifically precious metals and mining companies… like Freeport, Newmont, Barrick. They’ve been hammered because of falling commodity prices. Now commodities may still go down for a while, but I don’t think they’ll stay down forever.

Late last month, Freeport became the first major miner to announce production cuts in response to depressed copper prices, which have slipped around 19 percent since their 2015 high of $2.95 per pound in May. This reduction should remove an estimated 70,000 tonnes of copper from global markets, according to BCA Research, and eventually help support prices.

Platinum and palladium miners in South Africa, a leading producer of both metals, also announced job cuts and mine closures, as platinum has slipped more than 16 percent this year, palladium a quarter.

But Marc sees opportunity, as I do. In my keynote speeches earlier this year I suggested that 2015 would see a bottom in cost-cutting due to divesture and slashing of capital expenditures, and that in 2016 we should see higher returns on capital.

Furthermore, using our oscillators to measure the degree to which asset classes are overbought and oversold, we find that commodities are extremely oversold right now and currently bouncing off low negative sentiment. The smart money is buying.

When asked if he thought commodities had reached a bottom, Marc had this to say:

I would rather focus on precious metals—gold, silver, platinum—because they do not depend on industrial demand as much as base metals and industrial commodities.

Marc was referring, of course, to China, the 800-pound commodity gorilla, as I’ve often described the country. The Asian powerhouse is currently responsible for nearly 13 percent of the world’s commodity demand, followed by the U.S. at a little over 10 percent.

China's demand for commodities is huge
click to enlarge

But as I discussed recently, China is transitioning from a manufacturing-based economy to one that emphasizes services, consumption and real estate. Commodity demand is cooling, therefore, and we can expect it to cool even further. Aside from the strong dollar, this is one of the key reasons why prices have plunged to multi-year lows.

Commodities Seeking an Upturn to Global Manufacturing

The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI continues to decline as well. Since its peak in February 2014, the reading has fallen 4.5 percent. The August score of 50.7, just barely indicating manufacturing expansion, is the sixth consecutive monthly reading to remain below the three-month moving average.

I’ve shown a number of times in the past that when this is the case—that is, when the one-month reading is below the three-month trend—commodity prices have tended to trade lower. Unlike other economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), the PMI is forward-looking and helps investors manage expectations. Based on our own research, there’s a strong probability that copper and crude oil prices might dip three months following a “cross below.”

The opposite has also been true: Prices have a stronger probability of ticking up three months after the one-month crosses above the three-month.

Commodities and commodity stocks historically rose three months after pmi "cross-above"
click to enlarge

This is why we believe prices will have a better chance at recovery after the global PMI crosses above its three-month moving average.

I have great respect and admiration for Druckenmiller, Soros, Icahn and Marc—all of whom are clearly bullish on commodities—but we would prefer to see global manufacturing growth reverse course.

In the meantime, low commodity prices are a windfall for many companies in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Metals and other raw materials are at their lowest in years, which is the equivalent of a massive tax break for the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Low gold prices are also expected to generate high demand in India as we approach fall festivals such as Diwali and Dussehra, not to mention weddings. According to estimates from Swiss precious metals refiner Valcambi, demand could reach 950 tonnes by the end of the year, compared to 891 tonnes in 2014.

Emerging Markets Might Have Found a Bottom

It might be challenging for the global PMI to cross above the three-year moving average since Chinese manufacturing has slowed, but there’s burgeoning strength in other emerging markets, many of them unexpected: the Philippines, Myanmar, Ethiopia. The Czech Republic has the highest PMI reading among emerging Europe countries and the fastest-growing economy in all of Europe.

An interesting chart from Morgan Stanley suggests that emerging markets might have found a trough and are ready to turn up. Assuming that August 24, 2015 was the bottom, the bank compares the recent bear market to five previous ones and finds that it’s tracking a similar price action as 1995, 2002 and 2011. It’s also much less severe than 1998 and 2008.

A contrarian thesis: have emerging markets found a bottom?
click to enlarge

Additionally, Bloomberg reminds us that by 2050, 3 billion people will enter the middle class, nearly all of them in the developing world. Emerging markets might be struggling somewhat right now, but they’re still very much our future.

U.S. Travelers to Spend Big This Labor Day Weekend, but Airline Stocks Are Reasonably Priced

This Labor Day weekend, Americans were projected to spend a whopping $13.5 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). This figure included spending on goods and services as people traveled by automobile, jet or some other means to visit friends and family. Air travelers alone spent $2.9 billion, if expectations were accurate.

Luxury in the air: delta is now offering private jet upgrades to select passengers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released air travel demand figures for the month of July, noting that demand continues to be robust both domestically and internationally. All global markets saw growth in July, with domestic flight demand rising 5.9 percent year-over-year. At an eye-popping 28.1 percent, India posted the strongest growth.

As GARP (growth at a reasonable price) investors, we still find airline stocks attractively priced, as do many others. Barron’s recently made note of this, stating: “Major airline stocks are trading 9.4x our 2015 EPS (earnings per share) estimates and 9.0x our 2016 EPS estimates, below their historical trading range of 10x – 12x.”

We own a number of these carriers in our funds: Delta Air Lines (which announced a $5-billion stock buyback program in May), Alaska Air, and JetBlue in the Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX); Ryanair (which just hit a new 52-week high) and Aegean Greece in the Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX). We also own several names in the aircraft manufacturing and airport services areas, including Pegasus Hava Tasimaciligi, Wizz Air Holdings and TAV Havalimanlari.

The Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be a Boon to Boeing and Airbus

On a final note, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’re probably familiar with the pending nuclear deal with Iran. When implemented, trade barriers will be lifted for the first time in decades. Whether you approve or disapprove of the deal, you have to recognize that this could be a huge opportunity for many companies that, up until now, have been cut off from doing business with the Middle Eastern country.

One area that’s in dire need of an overhaul is Iran's aging jet fleet. The average age of the United Arab Emirates’s planes is 6.3 years. In Iran, meanwhile, it’s 27 years. These are ancient relics!  

Iran nuclear deal: a huge opportunity for Boeing and Airbus?
click to enlarge

The total number of jets that will need replacing is estimated to be 400—and cost $20 billion.

Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus already have a growing backlog of new aircraft orders—10,000 jets altogether, according to the Wall Street Journal—and the Iran deal has the potential to increase it even further.

We also see it as an opportunity for energy companies in particular that the median age of Iran’s educated population is 28 years—this is a market with promising growth potential.

You might have seen headlines that energy officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia secretly met to cooperate on trying to get crude oil prices stable at between $70 and $80 per barrel. Oil prices spiked this past week in response, but as far as we can tell, this is only chatter. Don’t bet on rumors, but rather on good government monetary and fiscal policy, excellent management and undervalued stocks.

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.

Stock markets can be volatile and share prices can fluctuate in response to sector-related and other risks as described in the fund 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. 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 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 MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance in the global emerging markets.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX) and Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX) as a percentage of net assets as of 6/30/2015: Peabody Energy Corporation 0.00%, Arch Coal Inc. 0.00%, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. 0.00%, Newmont Mining Corp. 0.00%, Barrick Gold Corp. 0.00%, Valcambi SA 0.00%, Delta Air Lines Inc. 0.00%, Alaska Air Group Inc. 0.00%, JetBlue Airways Corporation 0.00%, Ryanair Holdings plc 0.00%, Aegean Airlines SA 0.00%, Pegasus Hava Ta??mac?l??? SA 0.50% Emerging Europe Fund, Wizz Air Holdings plc 0.00%, TAV Havalimanlar? Holdings 1.09%, The Boeing Co. 1.50% Holmes Macro Trends Fund, Airbus Group SE 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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China’s Economy Is Undergoing a Huge Transformation That No One’s Talking About
August 31, 2015

The photo you see below was snapped recently in Beijing. It might not be that special to some readers, but in my 25 years of visiting the Chinese capital, I’ve never seen a blue sky because it’s always been blotted out by yellow smog. Beijing is clearly undergoing a massive transformation right now. This might please proponents of the green movement, but it’s ultimately harmful to the health of China's manufacturing sector.

Blue skies ahead? A cyclist pedals through Tiananmen Squar in Beijing

On the other hand, blue skies could be ahead for China’s service industries.

Misconception and exaggeration are circling China’s economy right now like a flock of hungry buzzards. If you listen only to the popular media, you might believe that the Asian giant is teetering on the brink of economic disaster, with the Shanghai Composite Index’s recent correction and devaluation of the renminbi held up as “proof.”

Don’t get me wrong. These events are indeed significant and have real consequences. They also make for some great, sensational headlines, as I discussed earlier this month.

But what gets hardly any coverage is that China’s economy is not weakening so much as it’s changing, much like Beijing’s skies. Take a look at the following two charts, courtesy of BCA Research:

China's Economy is Shifting Away from Manufacturing More Towards Services
click to enlarge

You can see that the world’s second-largest economy has begun to shift away from manufacturing and more toward consumption and the service industries. While the country’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading has been in contraction mode since March of this year, the service industries—which include financial services, insurance, entertainment, tourism and more—are ever-expanding. The problem is that the transformation has not been fast enough to offset the massive size of the manufacturing sector.

the Czech Republic's PMI came in at an impressive 57.50 in July up from 56.90 in June

Just as a refresher, the PMI is forward-looking and resets every 30 days. It helps investors manage expectations. Consider this: The best-performing country in our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX) is the Czech Republic—which also happens to have one of the highest PMI readings. Coincidence?

In China, overseas travel, cinema box office revenue and ecommerce are all seeing “explosive growth,” according to BCA. The country’s once-struggling real estate market is also robust. The government just relaxed rules to permit more foreigners to purchase mainland property.

But you’d be hard-pressed to come across any of this constructive news because it’s not particularly good for ratings.

A recent Economist article makes this point very clear:

The property market matters far more for China’s economy than equities do. Housing and land account for the vast majority of collateral in the financial system and play a much bigger role in spurring on growth. Yet the barrage of bearish headlines about share prices has obscured news of a property rebound. House prices have perked up nationwide for three straight months. Two months after the stock market first crashed, this upturn continues.

“Commodity Imports Have Actually Been Quite Strong”

Again, China’s transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to one that focuses on consumption has real consequences, one of the most significant being the softening of global commodity prices. As I told Daniela Cambone on last week’s Gold Game Film, gold’s Love Trade has become not a No Trade, but a Slow Trade. We’ve seen demand cool along with a decline in GDP per capita, the PMI readings and China’s M2 money supply growth.

Below you can see the relationship between China’s M2 money supply growth and metal prices. Since its peak in late 2009, money supply growth has been dropping year-over-year, driving down metal prices.

China's falling money supply since 2009 peak has driven down metal prices
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Money supply growth tends to be a “first mover.” When it has contracted, the PMI has usually followed. Recently, this has hurt economies that depend on China as a net buyer of raw materials, including Brazil, which supplies the Asian country with iron ore, soybeans and many other commodities, and Australia.

Australian Dollar and Brazilian Real Retreat with Drop in China's Money Supply
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When M2 money supply growth and the PMIs are rising, commodity prices can also rise. But that’s not what’s happening. It’s important to recognize that when new orders for finished products fall, there’s less consumption of energy to manufacture and ship. Again, this might make the greenies happy, but it’s ultimately bad for manufacturing.

I’ve said several times before that China is the 800-pound commodities gorilla, and it continues to be so. The country currently consumes about a quarter of the total global output of gold. For nickel, copper, zinc, tin and steel, it’s around half of world consumption. For aluminum, it’s more than half.

These are huge figures. But investors should know that Chinese imports of these important metals and materials still remain strong. Tom Pugh, a commodities economist at Capital Economics, told the Wall Street Journal last week that the market has it wrong about China, that the drop in demand has been overstated:

If you look at Chinese commodity imports over the last few months, they’ve actually been quite strong. A lot of it is just that people thought China would continue to grow at 10 percent a year, ad infinitum, and now people are just realizing that’s not going to happen.

Reuters took a similar stance, reporting that “there were at least 21 commodities that showed increases in imports greater than 20 percent in July this year, compared to the same month in 2014.” Weakening demand has been caused by a number of reasons, including “structural oversupply” and “the impact of the recent volatility in equity markets.”

But it’s important to keep things in perspective. Compared to past major market crashes, China’s recent correction doesn’t appear that bad.

China's Crash is Big, But Not the Biggest

Any bad news in this case can be seen as good news. I think that in the next three months we might see further monetary stimulus, following the currency debasement nearly three weeks ago. We might also see the implementation of new reforms in order to address the colossal infrastructure programs China has announced in the last couple of years, the most monumental being the “One Road, One Belt” initiative.

Dividend-Paying Stocks Helped Stanch the Losses

As investors and money managers, it’s crucial that we be cognizant of the changes China is undergoing. With volatility high in the Chinese markets right now, we’ve raised the cash level in our China Region Fund (USCOX), and after the dust settles somewhat and the right opportunities arise, we’ll be prepared to deploy the cash. We’re also diversified outside of China.

We managed to slow the losses during the Shanghai correction by being invested in high-quality, dividend-paying stocks.

According to daily data collected since December 2004, the median trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio for the Shanghai Composite Index constituents currently sits at 48.6 times earnings. If it reverts to the mean, risk is 32 percent to the downside for the index. Currently, the P/E ratio of our China Region Fund constituents sits around 16 times. This suggests that USCOX has less downside risk and is cheaper than the Shanghai Composite.

Median Trailing Price-to-Earnings Ratio for Shanghai Composite Index Constituents
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We seek to take advantage of the trend toward consumption by increasing our exposure to the growing service industries—technology, Internet and ecommerce companies (Tencent is one of our top 10 holdings); financial services (AIA and Ping An Insurance); and enviornmental services (wastewater treatment services provider CT Environmental).

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson unveiling the KT Fire ANTA EARLIER THIS YEAR

Rising sports participation among white collar workers in China is very visibile these days. Xian Liang, portfolio manager of USCOX, says that his friends back in Shanghai share with him, via WeChat, how they track their daily runs using mapping apps on their phones.

With that said, an attractive company is Anta Sports, an emerging, innovative sportswear franchise. Fans of the Golden State Warriors might recall that guard Klay Thompson endorsed its products earlier this year.

We believe the China region remains one of the most compelling growth stories in the world and continues to provide exciting 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.

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 Shanghai Composite Index (SSE) is an index of all stocks that trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry. The Nasdaq Composite Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap stocks. The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.

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.

M2 money supply is a broad measure of money supply that includes M1 in addition to all time-related deposits, savings deposits, and non-institutional money-market funds.

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.

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.

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 and China Region Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 6/30/2015: Tencent Holdings Ltd. 6.52% China Region Fund, AIA Group Ltd. 1.92% China Region Fund, Ping An Insurance Group Co. 3.28% China Region Fund, CT Environmental Group Ltd. 0.52% China Region Fund, ANTA Sports Products Ltd. 0.57% China Region 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.

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Global Investors: You Should Be Paying Attention to this Economic Indicator
July 13, 2015

Reality set in for investors last week: Tremors are shaking up the global markets.

A “no” vote from the Greek referendum last Sunday, the vast stock market selloff in China, and the volatile movements in the price of U.S. crude oil have made it clear the worldwide economy is collectively riding the brakes. The 3.5-hour halt in trading on the NYSE also added to investors’ unease.

It's been hard to ignore the wild market headlines this week.

Last week on BNN TV, Canada’s leading business station, I explained that an important forward-looking economic indicator we closely monitor at U.S. Global Investors can help make sense of this slowdown: the global manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which we've written about many times. Coupled with this, our portfolio managers recognize that during highly volatile markets adjusting cash levels in our funds is key.

In addition to our own macro models, BCA Research , a highly respected independent research company, pointed out that PMIs in developing economies have plunged to new lows.  The International Monetary Fund also revised downward its global growth forecast for 2015. On this account, bad news is good news, as central bankers are scrambling to stimulate economic growth.

Emerging Markets Manufacturing PMI is Plunging
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As active managers, we have raised our cash levels looking for opportunities in a sloppy market, particularly in our China Region Fund (USCOX). This allows us to mitigate risk and deploy that cash when stocks look attractive per our model, which focuses on factors like high returns on invested capital, sales per share growth and dividend per share growth.

The Trend is Your Friend

It’s common for investors to look at gross domestic product (GDP) when making decisions about how to deploy capital. Unlike GDP, which looks back or in the rearview mirror, PMI is forward-looking. PMI gathers data such as global output, new orders, exports, prices and employment, making it a reliable indicator for both commodity performance and business activity. ISM, or Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management, is the U.S.-specific calculation of PMI.

Take a look at global PMI. It has continued on a three-month downtrend for the month of June.

Global Manufacturing PMI Continues Its Downtrend
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Similarly, PMI in the U.S. peaked seven months ago but has since been modestly declining. The threat of rising rates has been a contributing factor, and although Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen stated Friday that the U.S. is on track to raise rates in September, many agree that this date is too soon.

U.S. Manufacturing PMI Declines After Peak
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Card Counting: Using the PMI Pattern to Your Investing Advantage

Understanding PMI is one way investors can use patterns to improve their chances of positive returns in the market – just like card counting in a game of Blackjack.

When looking at PMIs, a reading of 50 or above indicates manufacturing expansion, while a reading below 50 indicates a slowing economy. PMIs for individual countries like China and Greece are negative right now, meaning that manufacturing activity is contracting.

Our investment team’s research has shown that when the one-month reading crossed below the three-month trend, there was a significant probability that materials, energy and commodities would fall six months later. Conversely, when it crossed above, manufacturing activity would ramp up, which greatly improved the performance of commodities such as copper and crude oil, along with the materials and energy sectors.

Commodities and Commodity Stocks Historically Rose Six Months After PMI "Cross-Above"
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The Great Shift in Seasonal Oil

As I explain in our Managing Expectations whitepaper, using seasonal patterns, along with global PMI, is another way to understand trends in the market and the world at large.

Historically, the hurricane season in August/September has shut down the supply of oil offshore, leading to a peak in relative price around this time. But as you can see in the chart below, the new technology of fracking and a corresponding increase of U.S. onshore production, have led to a surplus, drastically shifting the shorter-term seasonal pattern in oil.

U.S. Manufacturing PMI Declines After Peak
click to enlarge

Staying Nimble During Changing Landscapes

Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Marcus du Sautoy, said it best:

“Although the world looks messy and chaotic, if you translate it into the world of numbers and shapes, patterns emerge and you start to understand why things are the way they are.”

The global markets right now indeed appear “messy and chaotic,” but curious investors and fund managers realize that specific tools and patterns help them navigate through the complexity and intensity of constantly changing landscapes.

In fact, it is the agile active management and the use of these investment tools that landed two of our funds in Investor’s Business Daily’s “Weekly Review” section last week.  This particular section of IBD is a screened list of top-rated stocks for the week, along with the top-performing funds that own these particular stocks. Our Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX) and Global Resources Fund (PSPFX) are recognized for owning nine of these top stocks.

Subscribing to our award-winning Investor Alert newsletter is one way investors can stay on top of geopolitical and economic events that could affect their investments.  We’d really appreciate it if you’d share our publication with your friends and colleagues!

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. 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. Stock markets can be volatile and share prices can fluctuate in response to sector-related and other risks as described in the fund prospectus.

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.

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 500 Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the material sector as a subset of the S&P 500.

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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Net Asset Value
as of 09/25/2017

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.78 -0.04 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $8.02 0.06 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $6.69 0.06 China Region Fund USCOX $10.96 -0.46 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.94 -0.06 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.34 0.10 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $19.99 0.03 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.23 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change