Share this page with your friends:


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.

A Bridge to Prosperity
April 16, 2010

Mena Infographic sml 041610Two of the Middle East’s most promising economies will soon be joined together by the world’s longest bridge. The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Causeway is set to begin construction later this year.

Spanning roughly 24 miles, the causeway would take nine hours to walk across and is the equivalent of 536 Boeing 747s lying end-to-end.

The $2.3 billion bridge, which includes a railroad, is expected to take five years to construct.  Once completed, 10,000 to 12,000 vehicles will use it daily to cut what’s now a four-and-a-half-hour drive to a mere 40 minutes.

A stronger connection between the two nations should be a catalyst for business activity. Qatar’s 9.5 percent GDP growth in 2009 was the fastest in the world and the country currently ranks as the second richest in the world in terms of GDP per capita ($122,000).

Already a banking center of the Arab world, the causeway should aide Bahrain in its efforts to diversify the country’s economy away from oil and natural gas. In recent years, Bahrain has worked to expand trade with both the United States and surrounding countries in the Middle East, including Qatar.

Share “A Bridge to Prosperity”

Spotlight: Global Infrastructure
March 24, 2010

India’s prime minister says his country’s “creaking infrastructure” is becoming a pressing problem and called for $1 trillion to be spent between 2012 and 2017.

The goal is astounding, but so is the need. Many of India’s 1.1 billion people live without access to clean water, reliable electricity and stable shelter.

India Infrastructure 032410

India’s rapid urbanization is overwhelming its cities.  A special Financial Times report said that only 25 percent of India’s large cities has adequate transportation systems.

India isn’t alone in its vital infrastructure needs. The International Monetary Fund says Asia has to invest $8 trillion over the next decade to fight poverty and boost productivity. In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon wants to raise some $6.6 billion in infrastructure investments by 2012.

China was early to recognize infrastructure investment as an economic growth driver, and the bulk of its 2009 stimulus package went to that purpose. It appears that other governments are seeing the light.

Don’t forget that tomorrow we will be hosting a special Web presentation called “Building a Better World: The Global Infrastructure Opportunity.” Our Global MegaTrends Fund team and researchers from Macquarie Group will participate.

Share “Spotlight: Global Infrastructure”

A New Record for Infrastructure
December 17, 2009

China wants to set a new record with an infrastructure project that would also link three of the nation’s economic engines.

Work began this week on what will be the world’s longest sea bridge to physically connect, and strengthen the economic ties between, mainland China and the thriving former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau.

China Bridge Map 121709

The ambitious $10 billion project includes man-made islands, a 3-mile subsea tunnel and a 23.6 mile bridge. It is scheduled to be finished in 2016.

The exploding gaming industry in Macau (under Portugal’s control until 1999)
has made it the Las Vegas of the East – its GDP has tripled in the past decade. Hong Kong (a British colony until 1997) has long been the region’s financial center and the Pearl River Delta is a sprawling manufacturing hub.

The Delta region accounts for 40 percent of China’s GDP, but it has struggled during the global recession. Once completed, the bridge will provide Delta businesses with easier access to higher-end consumers in Hong Kong and Macau. Some trips that now take three hours would be trimmed to a mere 30 minutes.

According to Reuters, Hong Kong officials estimate the bridge should generate $6.6 billion in economic benefits within the first two decades of use.

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

Share “A New Record for Infrastructure”

Transportation of the Future
December 2, 2009

2009-12-2 GCC MapWarren Buffett isn’t the only one who sees trains as the transportation of the future. Oil-rich nations in the Middle East are converting their petrodollars to railroads in one of the world’s biggest regional infrastructure build-outs.

The Gulf Cooperation Council has plans for a 1,300-mile railway linking all six of its member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). Combined spending is estimated at more than $100 billion.

That is just a fraction of the amount available for investing to support future growth. Combined assets for the region’s four largest sovereign wealth funds (Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) total $1.15 trillion, and that’s just a portion of the wealth amassed in that dynamic part of the world.

In September, a $7.6 billion rail system was opened in Dubai to try to ease its bumper-to-bumper road congestion. An estimated 1.8 million passengers will use the line each day.

Saudi Arabia is building a $5.3 billion rail line to connect the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina as part of the country’s $400 billion infrastructure plan.

And last week, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund signed a $26 billion construction deal with German railroad operator Deutsche Bahn for a local system for Doha, Qatar’s capital and largest city, and freight lines to bordering trading partners. Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas, a rapidly growing source of energy.

The population of Doha is expected to double over the next 10 years and the country, which hosted the 2006 Asian Games, is said to be putting together bids for the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2022 World Cup.

A Qatari official hailed the 15-year Deutsche Bahn deal as “the next step in the creation of this visionary Qatari project that will truly revolutionize the ease and convenience by which people travel.”

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

Share “Transportation of the Future”

Five Thousand Pounds of Steel are Falling
October 30, 2009

San Francisco Bay Bridge 103009Drivers on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge were greeted by 5,000 pounds of metal on Wednesday when a recently repaired eyebar snapped under pressure from high winds.

Unlike the 2007 bridge collapse tragedy in Minneapolis, no one was killed and only one motorist suffered minor injuries. A lucky break since the accident happened during rush hour on a bridge that services 280,000 commuters every day.

This isn’t the first newsworthy item in the Bay Bridge’s history, as a 50-foot section of the upper level collapsed onto the bottom level during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The image was quickly beamed to millions of homes around the U.S. as they were tuning in for Game 2 of the World Series.

Though a major disaster was averted this time, the clock is ticking unless measures are taken to rebuild, reinforce and restore America’s crumbling infrastructure.

One in four of America’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Overall, they rate America’s 600,000 bridges a "D."  The ASCE estimates there is a nearly a $7 billion gap between what is needed to be invested in order to improve conditions versus what actually is being invested.

Hopefully, that and similar domestic infrastructure spending gaps will start to close before the problem becomes a crisis.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. #09-760

Share “Five Thousand Pounds of Steel are Falling”

Net Asset Value
as of 02/22/2018

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $6.17 0.01 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $6.94 -0.01 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $4.18 -0.04 China Region Fund USCOX $11.80 -0.07 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $7.84 0.06 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $25.22 No Change Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $19.33 -0.19 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.20 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $1.99 No Change