View more on these topics

Ryan Hughes: Investors are sitting on the sidelines

It has long been known that the ancient Mayan civilisation was one of the most advanced in history and their knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and language was incredibly advanced, with their calendar far more accurate than any others up to the 16th Century.

According to the Mayan calendar, the world will end on 21 December 2012 and, surprisingly, 10 per cent of respondents to a worldwide survey earlier this year believe this will come true.

When I was reading these ridiculous results, it struck me that if I had carried out a survey asking whether the global economy was going to end this year, I probably would have received a similar result.

Does it really feel like a year when the FTSE All Share index is up nearly 10 per cent?

You can be certain that a survey of the man on the street would not think so.

This year feels like it has been one of the toughest years on record, with markets rallying and falling with almost rhythmical regularity, and the upshot is that most think that is has been a shocker for investors.

The returns of the FTSE 250 index have been even more impressive, growing by almost 20 per cent at the time of writing.

The trouble with 2012 is that the vast majority of investors just have not participated in the rally.

With the news dominated by The End is Nigh approach to reporting, it is no surprise that many simply believe this without question or reason. If it is not Greece, it is China or it is Spain or it is George Osborne not doing enough to get the UK economy out of recession.

Whichever way potential investors turn, they are being told how bad things are. The trouble with this approach is that it totally forgets the old saying that markets climb the wall of worry.

It remains quite clear that the global economy is in a tricky situation, with low, slow or no growth, depending on where in the world you are, but companies have almost never had it so good with profitability at record levels. “Professional” investors have recognised this and have driven share prices higher but, as always seems to be the case, peripheral investors have sat on the sidelines waiting for things to get better.

History has shown us many times though that stockmarkets are a leading indicator for economies, with markets rallying long before economies have got back onto firm footin, and it is the compounding effort of being in the markets in these early days that really makes the difference over time.

With this in mind, time is the key factor and this is not the time it takes to resolve the issues before investing, it is how much time have you got to invest. Many investors have circumstances that require a multi-year time horizon and then it really does not make sense to wait until everything is looking good again before committing to the markets. The reality is that equities look attractively priced for all but the shortest of time frames and if you can look beyond 21 December, the stockmarket might just start looking a little brighter than many think.

Ryan Hughes is portfolio manager for Skandia Investment Group

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment