To paraphrase a well-known saying that’s particularly apt at the time of writing: a week is a long time in politics, my latest post looks back on a year like no other.
A week before the first lockdown, I interviewed – in person - Punter Southall Wealth's Chief Investment Officer, Tom Becket, about all things global.
I remember being particularly struck at the time by Tom’s recounting of the disbelief of his contacts in the Far East at Western complacency toward the looming impact of the coronavirus which had temporarily collapsed their economies and societies.
Only a few days later, on March 23rd, we felt for ourselves the force of a pandemic which even now still exerts a grip on our existence, albeit one in which its talons are being steadily prised off.
So I reasoned now was an opportune moment to revisit my conversation with Tom by bringing it back up to date. We have picked out some exchanges to give them the “then and now” treatment.
You can find our catch-up here, if you have a few minutes to spare. Do give it a watch.
Tom confidently predicted a “global heart attack” after markets dived at the onset of the emergency last year to a FTSE below 5,000. Today they hover around 7,000.
And like a cardiac arrest, the patient was kept alive with, in his words: “a tidal wave of money pumped into markets” which led to portfolios up by a rolling ten per cent over the course of this extraordinary time.
But the infusion of up to ten trillion dollars will, despite almost submerged interest and inflation, pose a grave risk in the long term. It is debt issued by government that only government, in the form of central banks, can buy. Tom gives us his perspective.
China, now unshackled, is already leading the economic recovery as indeed America will do once the Biden vaccine programme makes further headway, he opines.
And despite the biggest annual slump for nearly 300 years, Britain, too, will play its part in a patchwork resurgence that is likely to be asymmetric, thanks to the EU’s tardiness with its vaccination roll-out and the emerging economies struggling to secure the requisite number of jabs.
Is this brave new world also one in which crypto-currency comes of age in a new decade? Or will it be the tulip bulb craze of the 21st century?
Was the Deliveroo float the first to be powered by social media sentiment with punters shifting money from shut-down sporting events to investment markets? Will this be a temporary or fixed phenomenon?
Questions aplenty from me and answers offered with Tom’s usual insight and verve. A positive step to looking ahead, in my view.