The Number of IKEA Stores per Capita by Country: Chart

The number of IKEA stores worldwide by country is interesting to review. However that can lead to misinterpretation since populations of countries very. So an ideal way to compare the number of IKEA stores is at a per capita level – meaning the number of stores compared to population count.

The chart below shows the number of IKEA stores per capita by country:

Click to enlarge

Source: Aaron Strandberg

Iceland has the most number of stores per capita followed by the home country of Sweden.In the US, there are only 1.4 stores per 10 million population. So compared to other countries, IKEA has plenty of potential to expand in the US market.

Also see: Chart: IKEA – Number of Stores and Top Countries for Sales, TFS, 2016

Commodity Prices Can Strongly Impact The Performance Of Equity Markets: An Example

Some of the emerging market countries are commodity-based economies. In these countries the price of a single commodity or a few commodities can have a strong impact on the overall performance of the economy and equity markets. This theory can be illustrated by looking at the country of Chile.

The Chilean economy is highly dependent on copper. So when copper prices go up the economy thrives and equity markets follow. When copper prices are in a downward trend its the other way around. Copper accounts for about 15 to 20% of the Chilean GDP and over 50% of its exports. So the price of copper has a huge impact on the Chilean economy.

Copper prices declined by about 60% since its peak in 2010.

Click to enlarge

Source: It’s Copper’s Time to Shine, Manning & Napier

When copper prices plunged so much Chilean equities also fell strongly. The chart below compares the performance of the Chile ETF(ECH) and copper ETF(CPER) over the past 5 years:

Click to enlarge

Source: Google Finance

The above shows the synchronized performance of the copper ETF and the iShares country ETF for Chile.

As the price of copper has recovered over the one-year period the equity ETF has has followed as well. CPER is up 23% in 1 year and ECH is up 15%.

The key takeaway is that in commodity-based economies it is important to follow and include the state of commodity prices when making investment decisions. With copper prices rising, now may be a good time for investors looking to gain exposure to Chile to add some Chilean stocks or ETFs to their portfolios.

Disclosure: No positions

Size of a Country’s Economy vs. Military Power: Chart

The relation between the size of a country’s economy and military power is tenuous. But its interesting to look at a chart that tries to show the comparison anyway.

The chart below compares a country’s GDP against its military strength:

Click to enlarge


Source: Aaron Strndberg via Twitter

The US has the largest GDP and the most powerful military. However Russia is a different story. The country’s GDP is on par with Canada but its military is equal to the US. As a military superpower Russia has one of the advanced and powerful in the world while Canada military is small at a global level. I remember many years ago Canada bought a used submarine from the UK and it started leaking. So they had to take it for repairs. Though their economic sizes are almost equal, Canada spends a small portion of its budget on defense while Russia spends heavily on defense. So it is not surprising that Russia is far ahead of Canada in military power.

High-Speed Rail Lines in The World by Country 2017

High-speed rail line is defined as a line (or) section of lines in which trains can operate at speeds of 250 km/hr or more (or 155 miles/hr or more). The high-speed rail network varies among developed countries. Japan is a pioneer in this field while Europe has an excellent network connecting major cities. Today after Japan, the European countries of Spain, France and Germany have the most high-speed lines.

China is a relative new-comer to this form of transportation. However the communist country has made incredible progress in recent years leading to become the country with the largest high-speed rail network in the world. Currently China has 23,914 kilometers of high-speed rail lines. This far outpaces the European countries and even Japan as shown in the chart below.

Another fact to be noted is that while communist China beat Europeans and Japanese in the growth of high-speed rail, capitalist USA lags way behind. Compared to the nearly 24K kms in China, the US has 362 kms of high-speed rail according to a report by UIC. This single line exists on the North-East corridor connecting Boston, DC and New York. The rest of the country is basically a “dead zone” in terms of high-speed rail. In addition to China, even Turkey – a developing country is ahead of the US  with 688 kms of track in operation. It is indeed a mystery why the country that put a man on the moon has lost its way and lags far behind in terms of building out world-class efficient transportation systems.

The following chart shows the high-speed rail lines in the world that are in operation:

Click to enlarge

The table shows the data related to the chart above:

CountryHigh Speed Rail Line in Operations (Kms)
South Korea657
The Netherlands120

Data Source:High Speed lines in the World – UIC Passenger Department, Union Internationale Des Chemins (UIC)

Some countries including Morocco in Africa are starting to build high-speed rail networks after seeing the benefits of this form of transportation in other countries. In a follow-up article I will discuss about these lines that are under construction.

Public Social Spending in Asian Countries: Chart

Social spending on public welfare is increasing in Asia but it is still lower than the OECD average of 21% of GDP according to an article in OECD Insights. Developed Asian countries like Japan, New Zealand and Australia have high social protections. On the other hand, in emerging countries of India and Indonesia social spending is very low at 2 or 3% of GDP as shown in the chart below:

Click to enlarge

Source: Rain or shine, Asia needs a better umbrella of social protection, OECD Insights, June 18, 2017


The List of 10 Priciest US Stocks

Some of the companies trading in the US markets have stock prices that are in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As the prices are so high they may not suitable for retail investors especially those that can afford only small funds to invest. For instance, it may not be feasible to easily buy 100 stocks when the price per share is too high. High-flying tech stocks such as Amazon and Google are two such examples.

The 10 Priciest Stocks in the US market are shown in the table below:

S.No.CompanyTickerClosing Price on June 16, 2017
1Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class ABRK-A $256,450.00
2Seaboard Corp.SEB $4,103.80
3NVR Inc.NVR $2,444.68
4Priceline Group Inc.PCLN $1,802.61 Inc.AMZN$987.71
6Alphabet Inc. Class AGOOGL$958.62
7Markel Corp.MKL$982.66
8Alphabet Inc. Class CGOOG$939.78
9Intuitive Surgical Inc.ISRG$914.84
10White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd.WTM$874.20

Source: Amazon’s Brush With $1,000 Signals the Death of the Stock Split, WSJ

Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A (BRK-A) shares closed at over $256,000 per share on Friday. There are not many retail investors who can buy 1 share let alone 100 of this stock. Even companies such as Amazon(AMZN) and Google(GOOG) trade at such high levels since they haven’t split their shares after a strong run up. Since most investors invest via mutual funds or ETFs high share prices do not adversely affect investors according to these firms and other experts.

Priceline(PCLN) used to be a fad during the dot com era. But since then it has re-emerged as a leader in the online hotel and flight booking space. Others in the list such as White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd., Markel, SEB, etc. may not be familiar to some investors including myself.

Disclosure: No Positions