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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.

UPDATE: China Wants to Conduct the World’s High-Speed Rail Market
December 15, 2014

The construction of the American transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, which cost upwards of $136 million and covered 1,800 miles over arduous terrain, could not have been as easily accomplished without the major influx of Chinese immigrants into California. Tens of thousands of Chinese laborers worked grueling 12-hour days, six days a week, often at paltry wages and with little or no accommodations. They gained a reputation as indefatigable and resilient workers because they rarely became ill, a result of boiling their drinking water and pasteurizing their food.

In the 1860s Central Pacific Railroad Employed Over 12000 Chinese LaborersNow, close to a century and a half later, the Chinese want to return to the railroad business. This time, however, they strive to become the world’s leading go-to provider of high-speed rail and exporter of mass transit technology.

They certainly have the credentials and experience to back up their ambitions. By the end of last year alone, more than 6,800 miles of high-speed rail spanned the fourth-largest country, with another 7,500 miles currently under construction. UBS’s research reports that “China has the largest high-speed rail network in the world, with a total of more than 20,000+ kilometers [12,400+ miles] high-speed passenger-dedicated lines scheduled to be operational by end-2015.”

ost-Cities-Network-Connected-Next-Five-Years
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A lot has changed with Chinese rail since I previously wrote about it in March 2012. Back then, the country was struggling to get new projects off the ground, one of the catalysts of which was a bullet train crash in 2011. At the time, out of five countries, including Australia, the U.S., Russia and China, the Asian giant came in last place for the total length of railway per capita.

Then, in August 2013, BCA Research highlighted the massive surge in the country’s urban subway systems, as the “length of light rail and metro will be extended by 40 percent in the next two years, and tripled by 2020.”

The Closer: Chinese Premier Li KeqiangWe’re currently seeing the boom of this Chinese railway Renaissance.

As I told Wall St for Main St a couple of days ago: “The [Chinese] government is promoting light rail train everywhere in the world, and it’s only accelerating.”

China Courting Buyers

In recent months, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has emerged as the nation’s top salesman for what he calls the “New Silk Road”—miles upon miles of high-speed transportation connecting all corners of the world. His plan might very well become one of China’s most lucrative exports and culturally significant contributions to the world: fast, efficient and reliable railways.

Which many areas of the world sorely need.  

In numerous countries, including here in the U.S., rail systems are outmoded and deteriorating. Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration concluded that “more than one-third of [rail] agencies’ assets are either in marginal or poor condition, indicating that these assets are near or have already exceeded their expected useful life.” A whopping 92 percent of railroad ties in the U.S. are still made of wood and, in many cases, fall within a range of 15 to even 100 years old. A few lines, such as the one that connects Los Angeles and Las Vegas, no longer receive regular service.

In India, where thousands of citizens rely on mass transportation, railroads have been combating a years-long rash of onboard fires relating to aging equipment and poor electrical maintenance. Last month, the state-owned India Railways chalked out plans with China to improve its lines and begin construction on a $33 billion, 1,090-mile high-speed rail connecting Delhi and the southern coastal city of Chennai.

remier-Li-Keqlang-to-Indian-commuters-here-let-us-give-you-a-hand

In November, China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC), which we own in our China Region Fund (USCOX), signed a contract with Nigeria to construct a $12 billion, 870-mile rail system from Lagos, the nation’s second-most populous city, to the seaport town of Calabar. In an effort to shed China’s reputation for using only Chinese workers in foreign projects, CRCC Chairman Meng Fengchao “pledged to hire at least several thousand workers from Nigeria,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

China at the starting gates

But China’s most ambitious plan to date comes in the form of a proposed $230 billion high-speed rail system linking Beijing and Moscow, which will largely replace the storied 100-year-old Trans-Siberian Railway. Whereas the Trans-Siberian takes about six days one-way, the new high-speed line will cut travel time down to only two days. The estimated distance is 4,350 miles, “more than three times the world’s current longest high-speed line, from the Chinese capital to the southern city of Guangzhou,” according to Business Insider.

Following the announcement, the market handsomely rewarded CRCC. Since the end of October, its stock has gained 16 percent, beating for the first time this year the Hang Seng Composite Index, the benchmark for USCOX.

China-Railway-Construction-Corporation-CRCC-LEaps-Ahead-of-Hang-Seng-Index
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Just as significant as the proposed line itself is what it symbolizes: a strengthening relationship between Beijing and Moscow. Already Russia has signed a multibillion-dollar gas and oil export deal with its southern neighbor, a clear snub at the European market.

In any case, China’s goal is to do for other countries what it has done for its own. In only ten years’ time, China has amassed an impressive network of rails that helps citizens from all corners of the nation—from the rural to urban—stay connected. Modern rail makes the nation more energy- and time-efficient, and concentrates real estate development.

Emerging-High-Speed-Rail-Hub-Cities
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Unfathomable Amounts of Resources Will Be Needed

As impressive as the Beijing-Moscow project is, it only begins to touch on the large host of jobs China has lined up, which will require untold amounts of raw materials.

In the map below, each shaded country denotes the location of current or pending Chinese projects, with many more possibly to come. UBS reports that 64 new projects have been signed in 2014 alone, with the months of October and November seeing a huge spike in approvals.

Countries-That-Have-Either-Already-Signed-Contracts-or-Are-Negotiating-with-Chinese-Infrastructure-Complex
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A few highlights are worth mentioning. Last March, CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company signed a $17.6 million contract with Ethiopia to provide 41 modern tramcars. Around the same time, South Africa ordered 232 diesel locomotives from CNR, a job worth $930 million. In July, China, Peru and Brazil agreed to cooperate on the construction of a railway that would connect the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast. And in October, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation awarded a $567 million contract to CNR to build 284 train cars for Boston’s subway system.

Frank Holmes - High-Speed Train, ChinaThese projects will require astronomical amounts of resources and raw materials, including heavy-duty steel, carbon fiber, aircraft-grade aluminum, copper and concrete—all of which should bode well for our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX).

As for concrete, would it surprise you to learn that China has used more of it in the last three years than the U.S. used during the entire 20th century? “Where there’s cement consumption, there’s growth,” reports Business Insider, “and there’s never been anything like what’s happening in China.”

Missing in action in the map above is California, but perhaps not for long. Next year, the California High Speed Railroad Authority will begin accepting bids on what will eventually be the U.S.’s first high-speed rail system. Right now a bidding war for the estimated $566 million contract is brewing between China’s CSR Corporation Limited and China CNR Corporation.

Also missing is Mexico. Early last month, CSR won the bid to manufacture train cars while CRCC arranged to build the Latin American country’s first-ever high-speed railroad. Costing $4.3 billion, the line would have spanned 130 miles, from Mexico City to Queretaro. But just days after the contract was signed, Mexico canceled the deal “amid new reports that one of the bid partners built a home for [Mexican] first lady Angelica Rivera,” according to Bloomberg. CRCC has since threatened legal action.

Still, there are numerous investment opportunities in Premier Li’s “New Silk Road” initiative, as you can see below.

Chinese-Railway-Infrastructure-Investment
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And the opportunities don’t stop there. Along with a greater number of domestic Chinese rail lines comes an explosion in service industries catering to weary travelers, including restaurants, hotels, car rentals, discretionary goods, property and more.

Many of these companies, in fact, hail from the U.S. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks—which we own in both our All American Equity Fund (GBTFX) and Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX)—have lately taken aggressive positions in and around China’s growing number of depots.

American hotels have also seized on the opportunity to service Chinese travelers making overnight stays along the way, with massive growth down the road.

Hotel-Operators-Current-Market-Share-Pipeline
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In a recent Barron’s piece, emerging markets analyst Shuli Ren highlighted the attractiveness of investing in China rail stocks, especially in light of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC’s) recent interest rate cut, which will help railroad companies deleverage:

While China Railway Construction Corp. [which we own in USCOX] and China Railway Group both are major winners, given their 40 to 45 percent market share each in railway construction in China, CRCC currently has only a small exposure overseas, which means more upside. About 25 percent of CRCC’s new contracts come from overseas markets, the highest among its peers. CRCC is also less indebted, with “only” 94 percent net gearing.

Chinese banks’ recent decision to lower financing costs and increase lending has helped railroad companies, both state-owned and listed, gain a market advantage throughout the world.

Mcdonalds-presence-in-ChinaBCA Research has additionally cited the PBoC’s rate cuts and the Chinese leadership’s efforts to lower the cost of borrowing as further enticing reasons to consider Chinese rail: “interest rate sensitive sectors such as… ‘asset-heavy’ industries such as materials, industrials and energy” all benefit. As these industries are directly and indirectly related to the construction and maintenance of railroads, they are also clear beneficiaries.

Expressing positivity in “Chinese growth, especially on stocks, going into the New Year,” BCA encourages readers “to be invested in Chinese shares and overweight Chinese equities in managed global and EM [emerging market] portfolios.”

One such EM portfolio that investors can take advantage of to catch opportunity is our very own China Region Fund (USCOX).

On Our A-Game

One final note I want to leave you with is the strong performance of Chinese A-shares lately. Even though they tend to be volatile, they’ve been climbing pretty steeply since the summer.

Shanghai Composite Index
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The financial sector has been the clear winner, which USCOX maintains significant exposure to. And as I’ve previously said, materials, utilities and industrials all have residual benefits to the railway industry.

Rally-Leaders-China-Domestic-A-Shares-6-Month-Return
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As I told CNBC Asia’s Squawk Box regarding China A-shares:

I think people finally woke up to the breakout that took place in the summer. You saw that reversal, those long-term moving averages and it was defying all the negativity. We went long A-shares starting in September and being overweighted in our China opportunity fund.

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 Hang Seng Composite Index is a market-cap weighted index that covers about 95% of the total market capitalization of companies listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The Shanghai Composite Index (SSE) is an index of all stocks that trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The Shanghai A-Share Stock Price Index is a capitalization-weighted index.  The index tracks the daily price performance of all A-shares listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange that are restricted to local investors and qualified institutional foreign investors.  The index was developed with a base value of 100 on December 19, 1990.

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 9/30/2014: Accor 0.00%, China CNR Corporation 0.00%, China Railway Construction Corp. in China Region Fund 1.05%, CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company 0.00%, CSR Corp. Ltd. 0.00%, China Railway Group 0.00%, Hilton Worldwide 0.00% Hyatt Hotels Corp. 0.00%, InterContinental Hotels Group 0.00%, Marriott International Inc. 0.00%, McDonald’s 0.00%, Shangri-La Asia 0.00%, Starbucks Corp. 0.00%, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide 0.00%, Wyndham Worldwide Corp. 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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600 Million Reasons to Keep Your Eyes on India
October 6, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells America's top Businesses: "Come, make in India."In the wake of his rock star reception at Madison Square Garden last Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphatically announced to our nation’s top corporate and political leaders that India is now open for business. Between September 26 and 30, he met with not only President Barack Obama and other high-profile politicians but also the CEOs of some of our nation’s largest and most successful companies: Google—which we own in both our All American Equity Fund (GBTFX) and Holmes Macro Trends Fund (MEGAX)—Boeing, PepsiCo and General Electric, among others.

The only thing missing was a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

Although U.S. Global Investors typically doesn’t invest in India, the country has recently found itself in the driver’s seat of global resources demand and production. This is a tailwind for our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX), which maintains heavy exposure in the industries that India will increasingly need to support its more than 1.25 billion (and counting) citizens: oil and gas, chemicals, energy services and infrastructure, precious metals and food.

India’s culture is ancient, dating back more than five millennia, but it has a disproportionately young population. As the world’s second-most populous country, India is home to roughly 600 million people under the age of 25. That’s close to half of its own population and a little less than twice the entire U.S. population. Over the next few years, this one generation will largely be responsible for charting the country’s trajectory into its next stage of economic development.  

As old as India’s culture is, millions of its citizens seek the contemporary American dream of opportunity and prosperity. They rely on their new leader, former tea merchant Narendra Modi, as their ambassador of “hope for change,” as he put it in his September 25 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

India Opening Its Wallet to International Sellers

At its current rate of population growth, the South Asian country will in the coming years be in need of biblical amounts of natural resources to meet the ambitious economic and social plans the newly-elected prime minister has laid out.

Among other goals, Modi envisions “affordable health care within everyone’s reach; sanitation for all by 2019; a roof over every head by 2022; electricity for every household; and connectivity to every village.”

The energy infrastructure alone will require staggering amounts of copper conductors, iron, electrical steel and oil. As I wrote back in May, Modi has a proven track record for bringing electricity to Indians who previously never had it.

The prime minister also asserts: “The number of cell phones in India has gone up from about 40 million to more than 900 million in a decade; our country is already the second-largest market for smartphones, with sales growing ever faster.”

China is currently the world’s largest smartphone market.

Most smartphones require a combination of many precious metals, minerals and other materials, including gold, aluminum, glass, steel, lithium and various rare earth elements you might never have heard of such as yttrium, praseodymium and dysprosium.

Since Modi’s election in late May, the consumer outlook index in India has risen nearly 8 percent. At 45.2, however, it’s still about five points shy of 50, the pivotal threshold that indicates, on balance, that more consumers perceive the economy to be improving.

India's COnsumer COnfidence for September Reaches a Two-and-a-half Year High
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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

As population mounts and business and manufacturing activity increases, India’s need for additional cars and trucks has accelerated this year. Vehicle production uses not only many of the materials already mentioned but also palladium, lead, zinc and others.

Indian Domestic Car and Truck Sales Are on the Rise
click to enlarge

India, the world’s largest importer of weapons, also has its eyes on American-made military aircraft—more than $3 billion worth. The Asian country is already the U.S.’s leading defense market, and companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky are no doubt pleased to hear that Modi’s government is committed to ramping up its defense spending.

According to the Wall Street Journal,among the possible purchases Prime Minister Modi discussed during his visit to the U.S. were 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 24 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Below is a video courtesy of National Geographic that illustrates just how many metals, chemicals and other materials go into the assembly of a single Apache helicopter.

Going Long in India

Many economists and pundits have already likened Prime Minister Modi’s transformative pro-business position to that of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—and his media darling status to that of Barack Obama circa 2008.

Even before Modi’s election, India was drawing the attention of global investors seeking growth and opportunity. Last month the portfolio manager of our China Region Fund (USCOX), Xian Liang, had the pleasure to attend a presentation in Hong Kong by CLSA’s Chris Wood, recognized as the one of the best strategists in Asian markets. During his speech, Wood maintained that India has been and continues to be his favorite market in the region, now more than ever since Modi’s ascent:

CLSA's Chris Wood is extremely bullish on India, deeming it the most attractive BRIC for investors.

I have, in fact, allocated 41 percent of my long only portfolio to India… I am not going to pull out because I am viewing India as a five-year story given the fact that Modi has been elected for five years. Modi is the most pro-business, pro-investment political leader in the world today.

Wood went on to argue that among the four BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia and China included—India is the best place for investors to be right now.

But with Brazil’s economy limping along at less than a 1-percent growth rate and Russia’s wounded by international sanctions, it’s hardly an intellectual feat to declare India the BRIC country with the greatest potential.

The chart below places India in context with other emerging Asian countries. As you can see, whereas the economies of China, Indonesia and the Philippines are flat or slowing, India’s is growing rapidly and projected to have a 7.2-percent growth rate by 2016, a 60-percent jump since 2012.

India's Economic Growth Forecast Leads Other Asian Emerging Economies by 2016
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With Modi actively seeking partnerships with some of America’s largest companies, it appears more and more likely that India can realize this optimistic growth rate.

The Challenges Ahead  

Despite all of the good news, India has many economic and political challenges to overcome before it can truly take off and achieve legitimate powerhouse status. According to the World Bank Group, the country ranks 134 in its Ease of Doing Business 2014 Rank, just below Yemen and Uganda. And out of 144 countries, India ranks 71 in the World Economic Forum’s recently-released Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, scoring 4.21 out of 7.

Tortuous trade barriers, which Modi has expressed his resolve to liberalize, still hinder constructive international business dealings. Gold import duties remain in effect, which has allegedly led to an increase in smuggling.

Also, although India’s manufacturing sector in September showed modest growth for the eleventh consecutive month, the pace at which it grew is the slowest we’ve seen since December 2013. For the first time since March, the one-month moving average for the country’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) crossed below the three-month. This move contributed to the J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI’s recent cross below the three-month, which, as I discussed recently, could be a headwind for commodities and commodity stocks.

India's Manufacturing Sector Continues to Expand, But as Slower Pace
click to enlarge

But such challenges don’t appear to daunt the new prime minister.

“India is going to march ahead at a very fast pace,” Modi told his nearly 20,000 attendees at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. “The 21st century will be that of India. By 2020, only India will be in a position to provide workforce to the world.”

We at U.S. Global Investors wish Prime Minister Modi, his new government and the 1.25 billion Indians all the best.

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. 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. 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. 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 HSBC India Manufacturing PMI is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in over 500 manufacturing companies. The panel is stratified geographically and by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) group, based on industry contribution to Indian GDP. 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.

ZyFin Research’s Consumer Outlook Index is India’s monthly barometer of consumer sentiment. The index is based on a monthly survey of 4,000 consumers across 18 cities. The Index reflects consumers’ current and future spending plans, employment and inflation outlook. 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 funds mentioned as a percentage of net assets as of 6/31/2014: Google (1.98% in All American Equity Fund, 2.25% in Holmes Macros Trends Fund); Boeing (0.00%); PepsiCo (0.00%); General Electric (0.94% in All American Equity Fund); Lockheed Martin (0.00%); Sikorsky (0.00%); Raytheon Co. (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. 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.

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Turkey Is the Big Winner Following the Crisis in Ukraine
June 19, 2014

Turkey Is the Big Winner Following the Crisis in Ukraine

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the possibility of further action taken in Ukraine and other former Soviet Bloc nations have led many investors to wonder, understandably so, what impact the crisis has had on investment opportunities in Eastern Europe. To unravel these concerns and more, U.S. Global’s Director of Research John Derrick caught up with Gavin Graham of VoiceAmerica’s “Emerging and Frontier Markets Investing” program.

Below you can read some of the interview highlights, in which John speculates on who were the winners and losers in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He also touches briefly on the violence that has recently erupted in Iraqi Kurdistan and what effect it might have on neighboring Turkey.

Which European countries have the greatest potential and have benefited the most from what’s been happening?

I think Poland’s been a beneficiary. It’s used as a safe haven in the region: stable economy, stable political environment. It’s benefited from the European recovery and doesn’t have that much trade with Russia.

I think Turkey has benefited, more from a money flow standpoint. If you were worried about what was going on in Russia and some of the longer-term implications, I think money flowed into places like Turkey. Money also flowed into places like Greece because a lot of the international investors tend to be regional investors, and within that region, there are shift allocations into places like Turkey, which has been a very strong performer this year. Part of that money is coming out of Russia.

That’s a very fair point because, as you say, if you’re running a dedicated Eastern European fund, Russia’s been overwhelmingly the largest weight within it, though a fair number of people were underweight even before Crimea because of concerns about governance and the like. Nonetheless, where are you going to go? Turkey is obviously a major market. Some of the reasons you like it include the demographics as well as the government’s pro-business attitude.

Exactly. If you just take a step back and look at the long-term secular growth, the demographics are very positive. There’s an entrepreneurial culture in Turkey: good government policies generally speaking toward business development, toward foreign investors. Basically business can get done, businesses can be created, and all those kinds of things that most Americans can relate to.

It’s still an emerging market country, and they’ll do things that you’ll look at and scratch your head, like banning Twitter or Facebook. But the political situation has definitely calmed down, and so I think the long-term secular story for Turkey is probably the best long-term secular story in the region. That’s what you want to hitch your wagon to over the long run.

Now I know that maybe one or two eyebrows will have been raised by you mentioning that Greece has been seen as a safe haven, but you are very right and very early in picking Greece as a market that had some very positive changes taking place. Do you want to just briefly recap where we are now?

Six years into a recession, Greece is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They’ve made some significant structural changes. Essentially the banking system has been consolidated down. There are now four major players there. All in the last month, they actually have recapitalized, raised money. That put some pressure on the Greek market and banks over the last month or so, and it puts them on a much firmer footing. The banking system can function more properly, and you can actually start seeing real growth.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has been very supportive. The ECB announced a TARP-like program where you can get long-term funding—essentially a four-year repo currently at 25 basis points. That’s going to be positive for peripheral banks in general whether it’s Greece or Spain or Italy.

They’ve also talked about doing a securitization program where you get some kind of quantitative easing. All those kinds of incremental things are very positive for Greece. After six years of recession, they’re finally starting to come out of it. It’s just like a natural cycle. It doesn’t stay bad forever. That’s going to continue for the next 12 to 18 months.

Which is about as long as one can look ahead, especially with exciting things like the Ukrainian crisis happening. Briefly, in terms of those countries, which don’t look as attractive? Presumably the Baltic republics, which are seen as being more vulnerable, given what happened with Crimea and Ukraine?

Definitely. There’s concern there that Russian expansionism is going to continue. Will NATO really defend those countries if Russia tries to re-exert its influence in those regions? I think those have been areas that have been hurt by the crisis because they’re viewed as the next dominoes, if you will. Obviously those are not big markets and have limited investment opportunities, but definitely I think they’ve been negatively impacted. People aren’t really sure what the Russians’ ultimate goals are here, what they’re really trying to accomplish: are they done, or are they trying to recreate the Soviet Union?

Just to finish up, in terms of talking about military action, you were mentioning earlier about what’s been happening in Iraq where an al-Qaeda-linked group has taken over the second major city, Mosul, in Iraq and led to hundreds of its inhabitants fleeing. Maybe that’s going to have some effect on next-door neighbor Turkey?

The Turkish market is down about 3 percent today, and currency’s down 1 percent or so. Obviously it sounds like the situation in Iraq is deteriorating pretty rapidly. That’s a pretty significant development. It just raises a lot of questions about what’s happening there and what’s going to be the impact for Turkey. There’s a fair amount of trade that goes across there—oil pipelines that they’ve finally got up and running, particularly in the north in the Kurdistan region, sending oil to Turkey. There’s still some controversy about who’s going to buy it because they don’t have an agreement with the central government.

Nevertheless, there’s oil and gas and all those kinds of things that are good for Turkey in the long run. I look at today’s developments as probably likely a buying opportunity in Turkey.

Indeed, having reduced our exposure in Russia following the events in Ukraine, our Emerging Europe Fund (EUROX) now invests the largest percentage of its assets in Turkey (24.29 percent), followed by Poland (14.75 percent) and Greece (11.80 percent).

You can listen to John’s entire interview below, starting 18 minutes into the program.

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.

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.

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.

BRIC refers to the emerging market countries Brazil, Russia, India and China.

 

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Where a Resources Manager is Uncovering a Sweet Find
June 18, 2013
Cocoa Pod Sierra Leone

After traveling nearly 6,000 miles by plane, helicopter and jeep, Evan Smith, portfolio manager at U.S. Global, is walking along a dirt path in Kenema past dilapidated shops covered with rusted, corrugated metal. He can hardly believe he has arrived at his destination. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of forest and savannah, it's tough to imagine an agricultural diamond-in-the-rough nearby.

Kenema is in Sierra Leone, a country in the Western part of sub-Saharan Africa with 5.6 million people recovering from a decade-long civil war that ended 11 years ago. Today, the rural people, mostly farmers and fishermen, are peaceful and friendly, says Evan, who explored the opportunity for the Global Resources Fund (PSPFX).

To get here, Evan flew from San Antonio, Texas to the largest city in Sierra Leone, Freetown, making stops in New York City, Ghana and Liberia. Then he boarded a four-person helicopter to fly east 150 miles, enduring heart-pounding drops and lifts between clouds and mountains before safely arriving at a cocoa plantation development.

Evan Smith Kenema  Sierra Leone

The heart of Africa has been beating strong in recent years due to elevated commodity prices and resilient domestic demand, despite the global economic slowdown. Among the sub-Saharan African countries, Sierra Leone was the fastest growing country last year, according to the World Bank. Its economy experienced growth that is as rare today as Fancy Red diamonds. GDP increased a whopping 18 percent.

Non-profit organizations are taking note of the country’s progress. The Freedom House recently categorized Sierra Leone as a free country, which is unusual in sub-Saharan Africa. Among 50 countries and 900 million people, only 13 percent of people are considered free under the organization’s definition.

Sierra Leone is also becoming more attractive for business. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report, the country ranked 140, up from 148. One of its main findings this year is that “among the 50 economies with the biggest improvements since 2005, the largest share—a third—are in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Looking ahead, these countries are expected to be among the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund estimates that out of the top 20 countries with the highest projected compound annual growth rate from 2013 through 2017, 10 are in this area of the world.

This is the growth Agriterra is looking to capture in its development of a cocoa plantation that Evan traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to check out. Agriterra is a London-based company that invests in African agricultural businesses to serve the fast-growing economies of frontier markets, such as Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

When Evan toured the grounds, he snapped pictures of the initial stages of development, as the company nurtures 250,000 seedlings in a technically advanced and irrigated nursery. Each cocoa sprout is planted in its own bag, under a canopy of screens which provides just the right amount of light. An irrigation system nourishes the plants, delivering the perfect amount of water and fertilizer.

Agriterras Cocoa Nursery
Cocoa Bean Plants Kenema

After a few months, the seedlings will be mature enough to be transplanted to an area that provides the right amount of shade. You can see a three-meter grid of stakes designating where each plant will go in this photo below.

You may not think about where your Godiva chocolate originates, but the areas are limited. Cocoa grows best along the equator belt between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical conditions of plentiful rain and high humidity are ideal and “shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree's early years,” says the International Cocoa Organization (ICC).  

While Sierra Leone is geographically situated along this band, it isn’t among the largest cocoa-producing countries. Most of the world’s chocolate originates from beans grown in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. Cocoa has traditionally been raised on small, individually owned farms, many of which have aging plants and therefore, lower yields. But with Agriterra’s advanced applications and solid operations, the development seems to be off to a sweet start.

So why is an oil and materials manager getting his boots dirty in Sierra Leone? The cocoa plantation is only one example of a company producing a commodity that we believe will be sought by the world’s growing middle class population. As more and more people reach this status, consumption of discretionary items, including chocolate, should increase.

Rather than limit the fund to energy and materials stocks, the portfolio managers take a multi-faceted approach, looking at 10 industries. By including companies such as grain processors, plantations and ranch lands, and agriculture companies, such as chemical and fertilizer stocks, we believe the fund can enhance returns with less volatility.

That’s why we keep our eyes open and boots on the ground because you never know where in the world you’ll find a sweet or savory opportunity.

Thanks to Evan Smith, who contributed to this commentary.

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.

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

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 a specific industry, the fund may be subject to greater risks and fluctuations than a portfolio representing a broader range of industries.

Holdings in the Global Resources Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 3/31/13: Agriterra Ltd 0.57%

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100 Innovative Ways World Cities Are Improving Our Urban Landscape
August 3, 2012

Infrastructure 100KPMG recently published Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition which showcases the greatest infrastructure projects around the globe. The 100-page publication covers nearly every continent with projects in developed markets including Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to those in emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Mexico and Turkey.

The focus of the report is to highlight education, health, recycling, waste management, and water solutions to promote better urban living. About half of the world’s population is living in a city someplace on the globe and this number is only set to rise. However, the challenges that cities face are not insurmountable: “All around the world, we see inspirational and innovative examples of projects that are sure to transform not only the urban setting, but also the way the world’s urban population interact with their infrastructure, their governments, their cities and the environment,” says KPMG.

The report highlights too many projects to list here, including the infrastructure for the World Cup and the Olympics that is transforming Brazil, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City that is collaboratively being developed by China and Singapore, and the Kartal Pendik Project in Turkey.

Download your copy of the report now.

By clicking the link above, you will be directed to a third-party website. U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this website and is not responsible for its content.

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Net Asset Value
as of 06/15/2018

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.83 -0.08 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $7.61 -0.07 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $3.89 -0.06 China Region Fund USCOX $11.80 -0.04 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.72 -0.10 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $25.97 0.05 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $20.22 No Change Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.20 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change