The coronavirus (COVID-19) has really gripped the global markets, and may well continue to do so, with the “Fear & Greed Index” now showing that the markets are being driven by “Extreme Fear”.
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to unprecedented volatility and tremendous declines in wealth, but we have faith that once the pandemic is defeated, the wild swings in the financial markets will abate and prosperity will return. But what cannot be so easily recovered is the loss of a job, the loss of a business, or, worst of all, the loss of a loved one. While it is our duty to provide timely market insights, please know that now, more than ever, the health and safety of you and your families is at the forefront of our minds.
Where can I double my money this week?’ and ‘Are there any ten baggers around?’ are common questions aimed at anyone working in investment. I hate to be a bore, but I explain such returns mean taking levels of risk similar to those in bookies. So, if not trying to shoot the lights out in a week, how can an investor expect to increase their wealth?
A successful investor faces many hurdles, some of which are external and some internal. Monday’s dramatic fall on the global markets – the worst in a single day for two years, or four years, depending on which major European or American equity index you wished to cite – could not fail to capture attention.
It is fair to say that at the end of the decade the World is a very different place than it started. In terms of assets a dollar worth of bitcoin at the turn of the last decade is now worth over $90,000, whereas a dollar of the Myanmar Kyat is worth just $0.004 today. The Greek stock market is down 93% over the decade whereas the US market is up 246%. There were no negatively yielding global bonds in 2010 and at the peak in 2019 there were $17tn worth.
I am not going to ask you about how your New Year resolutions are shaping up, but the observation above about the tenuous nature of many of them is a not unusual occurrence for many of us. Naturally, the same can happen with financial market predictions. Thoughts that appeared valid and respectful considerations about the upcoming twelve months, can seem by the end of January tarnished and facile. Such is the nature of financial markets.
As someone who needs glasses, I know firsthand that 20/20 vision and the ability to experience the beauty and clarity of life is amazing. As we embark on the start of a new year, clarity and foresight is exactly what investors are seeking, especially with the daily dose of unprecedented headlines we receive. In hindsight, the guidance our team of economists, strategists, and portfolio managers gave last year proved prescient as ~90% of our ten themes for 2019 were accurate.
Judging by the preponderance of retail sales offers throughout November in my email inbox, the rise and rise of ‘Black Friday’ should completely randomise the precise timing of this year’s Christmas retail spending. Similarly for those who think about financial markets, the three percent rise in pan-European indices during the eleventh month of this year – particularly when mated with the very low levels of volatility seen across the prices of many asset classes during the month – appears to have also pulled forward the traditional ‘Santa rally’.
October historically has always been a big month for investors. In my formative years back in the 1980s during one October, there was a major market crash (and weirdly simultaneously in the U.K. an extreme weather event in southern England), meanwhile those interested in older historical events will recall the events of October 1929 and the infamous capital market events back then. A lot has happened in the month of October that has just passed and whilst it is unlikely the history books will remember the tenth month of 2019 assertively, for investors thinking about prospects over the next year, it may have been critical.