The ugly contest: America’s presidential pantomime

Negative interest rates, bond ladders and the US presidential contest – Ben Judge takes a look at what's inside this week's MoneyWeek magazine.


Things are getting stranger and stranger, says Merryn in her introduction to this week's MoneyWeek magazine in the markets and elsewhere. Stocks are sliding. Negative interest rates are becoming the new normal. And Donald Trump is still in with a shout of running for US president.

This week, we take an in-depth look at the presidential race. It might all be happening 3,000 miles away, but the outcome could have a huge effect on the world economy, and, ultimately, your investments. If you want to be ahead of the game, sign up for the magazine now.

America's presidential panto season kicks off

The four-yearly presidential election pantomime kicked off this week with the Iowa caucus, where each party's potential candidates attempt to curry favour with their party members. And things are a lot more unpredictable than anyone would have thought six months ago, says Matthew Partridge in this week's cover story.

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Matthew briefly runs through the electoral process, assesses the campaigns of each candidate, and looks at how a victory for each might affect your investments. He runs through the probable effects on finance, healthcare and international trade, plus how it might affect the dollar.

What to buy now the MoneyWeek portfolio

As much as the shares you buy, how you allocate the assets in your portfolio can have a big effect on your returns. A well-balanced portfolio is a must. So, as it's the first issue of the month, we update you with our monthly take on all the major asset classes, making sure you're not overweight in a sector that's likely to underperform.

Build your own bond portfolio

Speaking of portfolios, a lot of people stuff theirs with individual equities, but not so many of them dabble in bonds. Bond prices usually move inversely to interest rates, and with interest rates falling across the board, you might expect bond prices to rise. But they have been dented by jitters in the market.

So "it could be a good time for investors to up the ante in this hitherto ignored asset class", says Bengt Saelensminde. He explains what a "bond ladder" is, and gives step-by-step instructions for creating one. He even does all the work for you and puts together a model portfolio.

Are negative interest rates on the horizon for Britain?

Most people expect any eventual move in UK interest rates to be upwards. But in his City View column, Matthew Lynn's not so sure. Negative rates are spreading round the world like a virus. And "it's quite possible" we could see them here, he says. He outlines the "three obvious triggers" that could send rates below zero. Who knows? It might be an idea to invest in a sturdy safe and keep a stock of £50 notes at home.

The arrival of the Altfi Isa

David Stevenson, our alternative finance expert, looks forward to the introduction of the Innovative Finance Isa this coming April. Investors will be able to invest via P2P lending and shelter the returns from the taxman. He takes a look at some of the options available, and the growth of alternative investment funds.

Currency trading, pensions and American muscle cars

Elsewhere in the magazine we have Charlie Morris with three exciting currency trades.Sarah Moore looks at personal finance, and how the Lloyds Bank bond battle ended badly for investors, plus she has some advice on debt and cheaper energy. And Natalie Stanton has the latest on pensions the regulator is cracking down on "master trust" schemes, so if your company offers this type of scheme, make sure you read Natalie's piece.

As ever, there's plenty more on offer. Chris Carter looks at some bargains on the slopes of Switzerland, the property pages showcases eight of the best properties on the markets with moats (yes, moats!), and American muscle cars come to Britain with the arrival of the V8 Mustang.

If any of that piques your interest, sign up now.

Ben Judge

Ben studied modern languages at London University's Queen Mary College. After dabbling unhappily in local government finance for a while, he went to work for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. The launch of the paper's website,, in the early years of the dotcom craze, saw Ben move online to manage the Business and Motors channels before becoming deputy editor with responsibility for all aspects of online production for The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News websites, along with the papers' Edinburgh Festivals website.

Ben joined MoneyWeek as website editor in 2008, just as the Great Financial Crisis was brewing. He has written extensively for the website and magazine, with a particular emphasis on alternative finance and fintech, including blockchain and bitcoin. As an early adopter of bitcoin, Ben bought when the price was under $200, but went on to spend it all on foolish fripperies.