February 14, 2013

February 14, 2013

Mobile Payments

Security and Liability for Fraud Drive the Adoption of New Standards that Could Make Near Field Communications Technology (NFC) Ubiquitous

One of the key elements in the emerging mobile payments ecosystem is “near-field communications” (NFC).  NFC is a derivative of radio frequency identification (RFID), a venerable technology which is now mostly used for tracking inventory, managing luggage, and the like.  Cheap RFID chips mean that they can be applied to every item in a supply chain and constantly monitored.

Where RFID chips transmit over a distance of a few meters, NFC chips transmit over a distance of only a few centimeters.  They are being both imbedded in credit cards, to replace or supplement the magnetic stripe, and incorporated into smartphones.  In the latter application, they have the potential to insert themselves into the enormous and lucrative payment processing stream.  According to the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter, that stream — when credit, debit, and prepaid card transactions are included — exceeded $15 trillion in 2011.

Mobile Payments: An Overview

The term “mobile payments” is extremely broad, covering a whole host of shifts in the payment space.  These could be broken down into “mobile at the point of sale,” “mobile as the point of sale,” “mobile payment platforms, “direct carrier billing,” and “closed loop payments”:

  • Mobile at the point of sale…
  • Mobile as the point of sale…
  • Mobile payment platforms…
  • Direct carrier billing…
  • Closed loop payments…

The First Step to Disappearing Plastic

Aside from direct carrier billing, most of these mobile technologies have yet to make significant inroads into the payment ecosystem.  For a variety of reasons, that’s going to change — and for many of the same reasons, NFC is likely to be the ultimate victor despite the hurdles it faces in widespread deployment.

What’s Pushing NFC?

NFC is being driven inexorably forward by several processes…

By 2017, according to this roadmap, a single, global standard will be in place…

Who will benefit from this trend?  To read the full story upgrade your subscription to a Gold Subscription.  Please click the following link to learn more, Gold Subscription

Conference Call Scheduled for Friday, February 15th at 10:00AM PST

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Conference call details are now available for Guild Investment Management Clients and Gold Subscribers.  Upgrade your complimentary subscription today and receive details on the conference call.  

The conference call is scheduled for Friday, February 15th, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST

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Bonds, Bubbles, and Another Risk to the Municipal Bond Market

In the first weeks of 2013, we have seen some signs that the bond bubble may be losing some air.  The bubble is the result of investors seeking relative safety since 2008.  As you can see from the JP Morgan chart below, inflows into bonds and bond funds have dwarfed inflows into equities since 2009.

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After the Past Four Years, Bonds Look Over-Owned, and Equities Look Grossly Under-Owned

Bonds may have lost a few fans in the first few weeks of 2013, but a bond rout is not yet on.  When the asset class loses its status as a ‘safe’ place to park capital, or when inflation expectations suddenly pick up, look out below.

Munis Still A Good Place to Hide from Volatility… or the Tax Man?

Within the overall bond market bubble, municipal bonds have attracted a fair share of investors’ dollars…

Alarm Bells in the Muni Bond Market Have Been Sounded Before

We have discussed the risks to the muni market a few times in recent years, and in 2010 there have been some highly publicized public municipal bond market warnings from others.  In spite of warnings, lower yields, and deteriorating fundamentals at many muni bond issuers, the collapse in prices and rash of municipal bankruptcies has not materialized.

Find out how the bubble in municipal bonds may be at risk of being popped.

Another Risk Emerges — There are Tax Dollars to be Had

In the U.S., tax rates are rising.  Higher tax rates should in theory make tax-free income more valuable, especially to… the rich.  That may be the rub.  The rich seem to be running out of friends in Washington, DC.

It’s no secret that politicians have been searching everywhere in the country’s complex tax code for revenue opportunities.  The fiscal cliff band aid last month left a lot of room for more tax increases in the coming months.  There are some who would like to cap the amount of tax free interest income, or possibly even withdraw the municipal bonds’ tax-free status, as it is pretty much only used by those in the higher tax brackets…

To read the full Municipal Bond Analysis upgrade your subscription to a Gold Subscription.  Please click the following link to learn more, Gold Subscription

How Japan Avoided the Great Depression

Shinzo Abe’s Administration Remembers the Successes of Korekiyo Takahashi

We wrote last week about the new winds blowing in Japan after the election of Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.  We also noted Abe’s serious determination to beat Japan’s decades-long deflationary slump with the help of newly compliant central bank policy — perhaps Abe and his policymakers are looking to the past — specifically to the 1931 to 1936 tenure of Korekiyo Takahashi as finance minister…

To read the full analysis on Japan upgrade your subscription to a Gold Subscription.  Please click the following link to learn more, Gold Subscription


Guild Basic Needs IndexTM

Tracking the Prices of Basic Necessities

Guild Basic Needs Index (December 2012)
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In this week’s Premium Global Market Commentary available to Gold Subscribers, we discuss:

  • Ali Hajimiri Can See Right Through You

    Integrated circuits, born in the 50s to Texas Instruments and the U.S. Air Force, have driven the information age from hand-held calculators to PCs to smartphones and tablets.  However, the potential applications for these semiconductor chips are not exhausted by those applications, and even after we’ve been inured to computers’ falling prices and rising power, we are likely to be surprised at the new technologies they make possible…

  • Oil Refining

    Low-Priced U.S. Oil, Due to Big Increases in Mid-Continent Oil Production, is Creating a Window of Opportunity for U.S. Oil Refiners

    As readers know, we have often commented on the huge benefit being created for the U.S. standard of living and for U.S. manufacturers by the massive new production of oil and gas from shale…

    We Have a Seven Point Analysis on Oil Refiners

  • Guild Investment Management Weekly Global Market Summary

    In this week’s global market summary we provide our analysis on gold

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