On the economic front, you have been told that the US economy is now growing at 2.5 per cent per year and the UK at 1.5 per cent and that these numbers are fantastically good. You have also been told that China is growing at 7.5 per cent and India at 5 per cent but these numbers are fantastically bad. Emerging markets are now trading on an average P/E of 10 whilst the S&P index is on 19, and the Russell 2000 is on 26. Investors are dumping their holdings in emerging market assets and buying into the western 'growth' story - particularly that of the US.
In the currency markets the most over-crowded trade was to be long the US dollar - but this has not been working. Against the euro, sterling and the yen, the dollar has been losing ground. The old market saying is that when everybody is thinking the same thing, then nobody is thinking at all. They often have a rude awakening and when this happens, cash is king.
It is an abuse of the English language to describe what has occurred in the west over the past three years as growth. It is, in fact, a partial recovery of what we had before. With the exception of the US and Germany, all western markets are lower than they were in 1999. In real inflation-adjusted terms, even the US and Germany are down about 30 per cent.
You have also been told that US unemployment is down to 7 per cent. This is the U3 measure. There are also Us 1 to 6 - all official ways of spinning the unemployment numbers. U6 is officially 14 per cent but Shadowstats. com suggests the true number is 23 per cent. The figures also show that average US incomes are well up, but this is just arithmetic. If you strip out the billionaires in the top 1 per cent, most Americans are earning less now than they did in 2000. Their pensions are also worth much less than they thought they would be. So, all in all, the consumption of 90 per cent of Americans will not be driving any growth. A demographic time-bomb is beginning to tick.
You have also been told that the emerging markets are now a busted flush. The mistake investors have made here is to assume that the path to industrialisation was a smooth, tarmac'd one. In 2006 in a book called 'Mapping the Markets' we warned that there would be potholes along the road. We are currently encountering one of these potholes but it will not bring the process of industrialisation to a halt
It is good to have Robin back and if you were interested in the above comments, you will certainly enjoy his individual assessments of the world's markets in this comprehensive reportBack to top