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Outside the box #finance

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know my finances have been going through a rough time this year. My investments aren’t making me money. One of the disasters that stuck was the collapse of Carillion and things have been going downhill ever since. I do try to invest in a diverse way so I still have enough money for everything I need. I can’t yet afford the new camera that I want but my photos still look good. We sometimes have to think outside the box when we are thinking about finance and identify our goals.

thinking outside the box
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Taking stock #finance #investments

If you’re following my blog you’ll know my investments haven’t done well this year. While money is very helpful it is not the most important thing in life so now I can pause and think about my priorities. I’m taking stock and while I do so, I’ll still monitor the stock market and my investments. Zopa is a fairly safe investment and that is still bringing me in over 3% so things aren’t so bad!

taking stock
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Paper losses #finance #investments

We don’t actually make a profit or a loss on shares until we sell. When a share price rises or falls we make so-called paper losses or paper gains. In my case, the gains and losses are recorded on a spreadsheet.  The loss I made on Carillion recently was a real loss because the company went into liquidation but most losses are paper losses and the share often recovers. Immupharma plunged over 70% this week and that wiped over 20% off my portfolio and far more from my expected return. It was a major blow, so what can I do now? I just have to see it in context and do more research. The results of their pivotal phase three trial weren’t as good as expected and the price plunged by over £1.00 a share. I have read the results of the trial and I think, as someone who suffers from lupus, that the drug still has a lot of potentials and so does the company. The share price has recovered a little since Tuesday.

responding to paper losses

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Bitcoin and bubbles #finance #investments

I have seen two adverts on Facebook this morning for money-making schemes that turned out to be Bitcoin schemes. One was using Piers Morgan’s image and name to promote a scheme and the other surprisingly was using the name and image of Martin Lewis, the so-called ‘money saving expert’.

Beware bitcoin

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Pharmaceuticals and fantasy #finance

I had a good week again this week, thanks to Immupharma which climbed to 174 on Tuesday only to fall back to 155 on Wednesday. Yesterday it was up again and although volatile it is staying around 173 today. Verona Pharma climbed to 180 last week and fell back to 170 this week but that still gives me a good return. So it was largely the pharmaceuticals that have given my portfolio a lift last week and this week. That was a 9% rise over the two weeks and a great improvement.

invest in pharmaceuticals?

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Good Friday and the market is closed #finance

Yes, it is Good Friday and the market is closed. I forgot and was quite looking forward to a day of market-watching. I think there is an element of gambling to investing in the stock market and it can be addictive.

Good Friday

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A nervous market #finance #investments

The markets have been nervous lately with too much uncertainty. The Trump effect in the US and the Brexit effect on this side of the Atlantic disguises some systemic problems in the global economic system. I think this nervousness is contagious and is spreading beyond the markets and into the homes of consumers who are spending less. They have been shopping around more for some time and we see that in the rise of discount supermarkets and the phenomenon of comparing prices and shopping around online. The culture of spend, spend, spend and maxing out the credit card is coming to an end.

a nervous market

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Understanding supply and demand #finance

One concept I have tried to explain in these finance posts is that of discretionary income. Discretionary income is the money we have left over when we have paid for all the essentials like housing, taxation, food and so on. Discretionary income is the money we have left to enjoy life and take holidays. So if we can double that discretionary income either by saving on buying the essentials or finding an additional income from investments then we can double our effective standard of living. The other concept that people find hard to understand is supply and demand and how this affects prices.

supply and demand

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Keeping your nerve #finance #investments

Sometimes investing is about keeping your nerve as markets go down or become more volatile. We saw the first signs of protectionism by the US after President Trump announced import tariffs on steel and aluminium. I think he set the tariffs too high but considering that the Chinese manipulate their currency to boost exports I can see why he did it. He isn’t smart, though. The smart thing to do would have been to raise the standards on steel and aluminium to restrict the importation of cheap substandard steel. He could apply that principle across a range of imported goods and so limit imports and give people better quality products. Politicians are never very smart.

keeping your nerve

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The Carillion effect #investments #finance

Since Carillion went into liquidation, people have been asking questions.Why did it pay a high dividend last year when it was in such a perilous state? This week, The AA announced a new strategy of investment and a cut its dividend to 2p a share. This is a good thing for the company, employees and shareholders but the share price still tanked. The Carillion effect, in this case, was to make them think long-term but we can conclude from the reaction of the market that, the market, in fact, considers only the short-term.

The Carillion effect

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City spivs and bubbles #finance

At one time spivs in their sharp suits tried to sell you a watch or a pair of nylon stockings. Now they wear Rolex watches, flash iPhones and try to sell you Bitcoin or Ethereum. These alien currencies are mined, using lots of energy and extremely expensive computers, they are nothing but a con which will be exposed and crash, somewhat like the collapse of Lehman Brothers. At least Carillion was building roads and hospitals despite the fact they were paying themselves with cash that was borrowed. Carillion didn’t just borrow to build, they tried like many other companies to roll over their debt and borrow more to pay the existing debt. Many companies with high debt have been praying for inflation which would inflate away their debt but high inflation never seems to come. Inflation isn’t just rising prices, it is rising prices chasing rising wages. While fat-cat salaries have been rising, the wages of the ordinary worker, the hospital porter and the nurse, have been falling in real terms.

spivs and fat cats

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How to make easy money? #finance #investments

The Bank of England left interest rates at 0.5% yesterday which was good news for people with mortgages but bad news for savers. This week, stock markets fell all around the world and President Trump’s bragging about how well the US stock market was doing came to an abrupt halt. So how do you make easy money in such a volatile environment? When the panic sets in, so does what might be termed ‘computer panic’. Traders become concerned and start selling and then a few stop losses, those automatic trades that are meant to stop losses when the price falls a little, all kick in and that causes the share price to fall even further. The market makers know this and they increase the spread just a little to make their cut even bigger. You can make easy money when this happens by buying on the artificially low and then selling when the high comes. This is difficult for small investors because we tend to get hit with extortionate dealing fees.

easy money

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Money that you never spend #finance

I have written about discretionary income before, which is the money left over after you have paid for all the essentials like a place to live, food to eat and taxes! That is the money that you spend on all the luxuries that make life worth living. If you can double your discretionary income with income from investments or increase it by being a bit thrifty when buying the essentials, you can effectively double your standard of living. What is this money that you never spend?

money that you never spend

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Keeping your nerve #finance #investments

There are times when you have trouble keeping your nerve when investing in the stock market. It can be volatile and the dealers and market makers all play their games. The companies are self-serving and often have little regard for small private investors. After last weeks disaster when Carillion went into liquidation I was hoping for some good news and this week didn’t go so well either.

keeping your nerve

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Perceptions of risk #investments

Perceptions of risk changed this week with FTSE 250 companies now appearing to be a greater risk than before Carillion went into liquidation. The government, in my opinion, made a colossal mistake. They sold shares not long ago in Lloyd’s banking group because they believe in ‘privatisation’. Now they let Carillion fail because they believe in letting the market decide. God help us if Jacob Rees-Mogg ever reaches a position of power with his Conservative ideas and antiquated ideas based on Catholicism.

perceptions of risk

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All that glitters #finance #investments

All that glitters is not gold, used to be a popular saying. It seems many people are attracted by anything that glitters these days and people are turning into magpies buying anything that glitters and frittering their money away.

all that glitters

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Snow before Christmas #finance

Winter started early this year with snow before Christmas and so many people will have heftier winter bills for heating. The cost of Christmas could cause many people misery in January too. However, some companies are viewing the awful weather as a life saver. The bad weather has meant more cooked meals and so companies like Premier Foods should have increased sales and revenue. The AA might be getting more members signed up too.

snow before Christmas

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The tree-shake and market maker #finance

Luddite:

a member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woollen mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16).

Luddites weren’t really against mechanisation. They were against low wages. The factory owners were keeping wages down because they needed high profits in order to mechanise and if they didn’t mechanise their competitors would and put them out of business. The answer to their dilemma,  of course, was to bring in investment from outside the company. We are now in a new era of mechanisation. The use of computer-controlled robots and artificial intelligence. Companies need investment and so the stock market is even more important now as in the early 19th century. Technology will tree-shake whole industries and some companies won’t make it.

Tree-shake is a term used by investors in the internet forums.

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Beware the bubble #finance #investments

Sometimes an economic bubble will form and sometimes they are created purposely. Ponzi schemes are a type of bubble and they rely on greed but bubbles can also form because of shortages such as a property price bubble when housing or commercial property is in short supply. There is a property bubble in London and the south-east but the cause isn’t just a shortage. It is also higher incomes in the south-east compared to the rest of the UK.

large cap company investments creating a bubble?

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Planning for 2018 #finance

Planning for 2018 will be difficult because there is so much uncertainty caused by Brexit. I will hope for the best and expect the worst! Another financial crash could wipe 30% off the value of the stock market. I’m too exposed to AIM companies so I would be hit worse, perhaps losing half my portfolio. I can survive that.

planning for 2018

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Stress test, can you pass it? #finance

The Bank of England has set a stress test for Britain’s banks and advised that capital requirements should be sufficient to meet a crisis such as the one outlined. We too should ask if we can survive such a crisis or would we become bankrupt, lose our home or be unable to meet our obligations. How bad could things get?

stress test

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Pundits and brokers #finance #investments

There are lots of pundits and brokers who will tell you to invest in all sorts of things. Everything from the FTSE 100 to Bitcoin. Should you listen to them? I think Bitcoin is a bubble that will eventually burst and many investment opportunities are scams. Anyone who calls you up offering an amazing opportunity is probably in a boiler room and is either offering something that is illegal or is on the borderline.

 investments - pundits and brokers

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Discretionary income and profits #finance

We all have overheads, those essential things we have to buy before we can even begin to think about buying the luxuries. That money left for buying the luxuries and paying for Christmas treats and holidays is referred to as discretionary income. If your boss gives you a Christmas bonus, your discretionary income can soar. Small businesses have overheads. They have to pay rent, business rates and other bills and a small increase in turnover can mean a big increase in their discretionary income. Their discretionary income is the profit they take home to spend on their families.

discretionary income

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Finance in focus #finance #investments

This week interest rates have been in focus with various pundits predicting an interest rate increase next week. There is no forward guidance and so it could go either way. As usual, the government and Bank of England add to uncertainty and the markets don’t like uncertainty but for many investors uncertainty brings opportunities. It is unfortunate that it is mostly parasitic day traders and shorters that get to benefit.

finance in focus

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