Author: Guest Writer

More Self-Harm than Self-Help? How business people can survive today's guru industry

By Sarah Alexander, author of Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership Since its origins in the 1970’s, the self-help movement has become a global phenomenon touching the lives of millions. A Google search for ‘self-help advice’ now throws up approximately 24 million pages of free downloads – a mix of YouTube Channels and internet sites all jostling with each other to promote their own brand of personal empowerment tips and life-enhancing techniques. A myriad self-help books have also flooded the market – many currently proffering variations of ‘The Law of Attraction’ as a panacea for human unhappiness. (The theory at its crudest being that we can overcome anxiety and low self-worth by learning to attract into our lives lots of often very expensive ‘stuff’). Bestsellers have proliferated through claims that we can do anything just by seeing ourselves as invincible and capable of unlimited success. Only then may we experience that elusive sense of fulfilment we seek. And for those of us who have tried and failed to awaken the giant within, there are more books to help us to piece back together our shattered self-esteem, and maybe start generating a little compassion towards ourselves for falling short. The industry is not all bad. But within it are countless charlatans making wild and unfounded claims about their abilities. Some profess that their ‘Divine’ connection will guide us to a higher reality...

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How can Britain meet demand for property?

As party conference season comes to an end, one of the few issues that had any chance of besting politicians’ bids for the spotlight was that of housing. In what seems like a lifetime ago, Conservative leader Theresa May called an election seeking a mandate for her preferred Brexit plan, only to lose the party’s slim majority. It was a result that has left the Prime Minister reeling, and four months later May is still struggling to find solid ground. Many polls and pundits have since concluded that Labour’s focus on domestic policy issues such as access to the property market held significant sway in delivering this unexpected outcome. Distressed by the loss of Tory heartland seats such as Kensington and Canterbury, the Conservatives were determined to offer a compelling message to younger and commuter belt voters aspiring towards securing future property investments in their recent party conference. In what was billed as her make or break speech at the event, the Prime Minister announced several key measures to double down on the existing policy infrastructure that exists to support the construction of new homes and enable first time buyers to invest in new-build properties. Chief among these was a £10 billion boost to the Cameron Government’s flagship Help to Buy scheme, which offers government support to would-be first time buyers in the form of a dedicated property ISA...

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Decent Economic Data Keeps Records Tumbling on Wall Street

By Lee Wild, Head of Equity Strategy at Interactive Investor Decent economic data has kept records tumbling on Wall Street, and who’s to say this run will unwind any time soon. Overnight, it’s talk Donald Trump could name Fed governor and market’s choice Jerome Powell as Fed chair Janet Yellen’s replacement that’s driving sentiment. Winning streaks like this are always difficult for investors, as the head keeps asking how much higher? It requires calm and nerve to hold stocks in these situations, even more to continue buying. Valuations are toppy in areas of the market both in the US and over here, but history is littered with examples where investors tried to call the market peak and failed. The experts who’ve predicted a crash for more than a year have been wrong, and investors who’d followed their lead will have missed out on substantial profits. So, there are still plenty of good quality stocks to buy, which are growing profits, pay decent dividends, and have great prospects. That said, corporate America begins reporting third-quarter results in a couple of weeks, and the numbers had better be good, given the size of earnings beats already baked into stock prices. It’s a big day for ex-dividends in London, among them the third of Next’s 45p special payouts and WPP’s generous interim, which lands highly-paid boss Martin Sorrell another huge windfall. Even...

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Agriculture in the UK today

A breakdown of UK agriculture Following the country’s decision to exit the EU, the state of agriculture in the UK is perhaps more important now than ever before. Thanks to the release of several key reports, we can now truly analyse the UK’s current agriculture scene — from livestock and production, to net worth and holding types. These reports are exhaustive. To help cut the excess and make sense of the findings, agricultural insurance provider, Lycetts, has highlighted the main points you need to know right here. Agricultural land use in the UK today To gather research, we’ve used the reports: Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2016, Farming Facts & Figures, Wales 2017 and Scotland’s Agriculture Facts & Figures 2017. Data shows that the total area used for agricultural purposes appears to have changed in the UK over the past year, increasing by 234,000 hectares to 18,662,000 hectares in 2016. Of this: 10,079,000 was permanent grassland. 6,073,000 was arable area. 1,312,000 was other land on agricultural holdings (i.e. woodland or land used for outdoor pigs). 1,199,000 was common rough grazing. The spread and state of livestock Here, we’ve compared the distribution of livestock in 2016 and 2015 for the entire UK: (click on the graphs to enlarge them.) Similarly, this is the spread of livestock across Wales (comparing 2016 and 2015): And finally, shown below is how the livestock...

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Global economy is best positioned in years to breach growth ceiling – yet headwinds persist

Author: Willem Verhagen, Senior Economist, Macro & Strategy at NN Investment Partners Global economic growth in recent years has been fairly stable at a level clearly below that of expansion periods before the global financial crisis, when both nominal and real growth were substantially higher on average. Today, growth is better-positioned to break out on the upside than at any time since the crisis, but whether this will happen is far from certain, and will mainly depend on productivity growth and geopolitical tensions.  NN Investment Partners (NN IP) sees two future economic scenarios: Scenario 1 is global growth breaking above the 3.5% level that has marked its ceiling over the last six years; Scenario 2 is a continuation of a rangebound economy in which the economy remains within a certain limited bandwidth. Willem Verhagen, Senior Economist, Macro & Strategy at NN Investment Partners, explains: ‘Scenario 1 of higher growth will only happen if productivity growth moves sustainably higher. In such a world, core government bond yields would gradually rise towards levels much higher than today. If growth accelerates, perhaps because of strengthened consumer and business confidence and higher spending, it would initially be unlikely to lead to a big acceleration in monetary tightening if inflation remained below target. Over time, it would lead to more interest rate hikes, but these would be positive because they would happen amid faster...

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