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Monday, July 25, 2011

Muddlin' through

This seems to be the mot du jour as the US continues to debate the finer points of cutting taxes and expenditure, the Tea Party continues its lunacy, Spanish people take to the streets without there being any young bulls to kill and the spectre of debt knocks at the door of M Sarkozy et Co.

Germany - the former 'sick man of Europe' seems to have shaken off his cold and emerged triumphant, standing tall through the sun roof of his VW as he zooms along the autobahns regardless of rising oil prices. What cares he? He has cash in the bank and the bank has cash in its own banks, and well, so on and so forth.

The UK too seems to have found its feet again, slipping and sliding but struggling ahead nevertheless, free from the encumbersome burden of the Euro and thankful for a nice stretch of water between the island and the continent, or else there would be more political force exerted upon it from Brussels to cough up for the Piigs and the next dominoes in the line should these all collapse.

FTSE100 keeps fluctuating between 5800 and 6000, bound in a range but buoyed by corporates putting out relatively good interims, while gold - ah, gold - shines like a star in the firmament for those canny investors who paid attention to my postings in 2006/2007 and bought it back then.

Too late now for the rest, perhaps, unless you can melt down your gran's old rings in a frying pan.

China is in for a soft landing and on the Eastern front, Japan's equity markets have not been as dire as one would expect, although exo-shocks to the region are still very much on the cards as we head into typhoon season.

As for me, well the money under my bed is now showing signs of strain as the bed itself looks like it is breaking. Depreciation of Norwegian wood stock after six years of wear and tear is having an effect on the resale value of my sofa bed in the secondary market. Home improvements and renovations may need to be a wise expenditure in this market, without being able to get off the first rung of the housing ladder and onto the second.

However, owner of the freehold might not like me adding decking onto the outside of the property and erecting a barbeque/half-covered seating area on the first floor of the flats in which I live. Therefore perhaps I should invest in shoring up the bed until the cash beneath it is safe enough.

Note: of course I've not put £ under my bed. I fear the eroding effect of inflation. Instead, I keep the ex-boyfriend's body under there. It is eroding by itself, but at least it keeps the bed frame from collapsing. The smell might be one of the reasons the resale of my flat is becoming more difficult.

Still - gotta keep muddling through.

Note: of course the ex-boyfriend is not under my bed. I'm not that cruel. I let him live in a cage in the garden.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greece, Greece, Greece - and Harry Potter

Every single fund manager in the world is talking about Greek debt, whether or not he or she actually manages Greek debt.

UK equity investment managers are putting out statements about the situation in the Hellenic Republic; US academics are stitching together 19th Century political and economic history and the current situation in the Aegean.

This week we received about 30 press releases about Greece: manager comments on Greece, Forex traders' comments on Greece, Equity fund managers on the impact of Greece's debt on the Eurozone, Bond fund managers' concern about sentiment towards fixed income, Consumer groups lamenting the knock-on effect, SAY NO campaigners heralding this as yet another reason to stay well out of the Euro, Australian Farmers simply taking the proverbial out of the UK because they couldn't care less..

All week we have had missives of doom and gloom, such as this one, which interpolated normal text with BIG BOLD LETTERS ABOUT UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: "Despite politicians expressing their strong commitment to keep the Euro together through this new package, we continue to worry about the peripheral countries' capacity to deliver on their adjustment programme."

But when it becomes ridiculous is when fund management groups strive too hard to attract the attention of media pundits and financial journalists with their own take on Greece.

For example, one press release we received this week said: "This weekend’s family activity centred on the final film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 10 years on from when we saw the first instalment of the magical film series in 2001. Meanwhile in the Monday to Friday muggle world, the markets are focusing on the modern classical tale of Greece, that also began 10 years ago in 2001 when they entered the European Monetary Union. How will that blockbuster story end?

"In the final instalment of Harry Potter, the story centres on the deathly hallows. Spookily, the three elements of the deathly hallows are comparable to some of the magical instruments Greece has at its disposal."

I mean, really, mashing together the last of the great Potter blockbuster films with the situation in Greece is going three Quidditch pitches too far in an effort to get our attention.

Expelliarmus Hellenicus Debticus!