Friday, August 19, 2011

Tis' The Silly Season Upon Us Again

All the turmoil in the current stock markets recently comes as little surprise to me. Nor should it surprise anybody else. Well, unless you're one of those avid followers of the mainstream media. It's really impossible that the US could recover so quickly from the 2008 financial crisis within a short period of one or two years. Real economic recovery requires time since manpower has to deployed, industries restructured and capital redirected amongst other things. After all, if it takes years to grow a tree, why should the 'real' economy be any different? The faster the US and the whole world faces up to the fact that we're all going to slip into a deep recession for at least 3 to 5 years, the better.

Capital Preservation?
The most painful observation that one must make right now is that Speculators/Gamblers are being given free reign over the Global Economy. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put - the people with capital/cash are no longer being compensated via interest. In other words, the Government wants you to either be in debt or to put your cash elsewhere. These negative returns on capital - after accounting for inflation is pushing everybody into speculating into all sorts of assets. This will merely fuel bubbles into assets such as property, stocks, gold and other assets. Preserving capital alone has become a difficult if not monumental task. 

Is all of these because the Government wants to help entrepreneurs? Not really. Most governments, including Malaysia are running on a deficit. Meaning expenditure is more than income. The Government has to borrow to make up for the shortfall. If you're the Government and have borrowed a lot of money, would you prefer interest to be high or low?

The Price of Inaction
Being an extremely risk averse person, I used to think - why bother? Preserving capital via Fixed Deposits would be sufficient to weather the risk. I no longer think so, since there is a real risk of Hyperinflation on the horizon. Meaning that if the Government keeps on printing money, inflation can go up to astronomical levels. Whilst it is inadvisable to panic over the financial turmoil, one must not be oblivious to it as well. We might well see extreme volatility over the next one year. It would be wise not to put all your eggs in one basket even if it be the almighty cash/ringgit. If there is a Depression, then there might be great opportunities ahead. Conversely, if there is Hyperinflation, there are great risks ahead.

Either way, take this as a friendly advice -  Do your Research, Be Prepared and Diversify. Rocky times are ahead of us.


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