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The lie of the investment land, according to Hugh Hendry

The lie of the investment land, according to Hugh Hendry

Courtesy of Prieur du Plessis at Investment Postcards from Cape Town

Hugh Hendry, founder of Eclectica Asset Management, shares his views on the investment scene in his latest “Fund Manager Commentary” that has just been published. He is not only outspoken, but also a top-notch investment manager – just the right ingredients for compelling reading material.

The paragraphs below are the introduction to Hendry’s report.

“Good people are becoming desperate. I know a man who is planning to capitulate and buy stocks. He cannot comprehend what is happening today. He is, to employ Churchill, a fanatic; he won’t change his mind and he can’t change the subject. But, fearing the loss of his franchise, he will change his portfolio. He laments that it is as though last year’s events never happened. Rhetorically, he asks whether we have all been sent through time to invest in equities at the end of the 1970s when stocks were cheap and society had thoroughly deleveraged (the opposite of today). ‘Why do other investors not contemplate the prospect of further household deleveraging when building their profit forecasts?’ he fumes. ‘Can they not see that the private sector’s deleveraging is more than offsetting the public sector’s expansion?’ Despite such ranting my Minskian friend remains a most entertaining and charming individual.

“Now I know I have not covered myself in glory these last few months. Stock markets have gained 50% from their lows and the Fund has little to show for it except a modest reversal and no wild swings in our monthly NAV. Nevertheless, I would contend that this game of playing ‘chicken’ with the market is not for us. Our ambition has been modest. To survive the onslaught of a positive change in social mood without being forced to capitulate in the face of a frenzy of optimism; so far so good, I think?

“In this regard we have been helped immensely by a quote from Robert Prechter in early April. Having correctly called for a counter-trend rally in stock prices in late February, he then described the most likely nature of the advance, ‘… regardless of its extent, it should generate substantial feelings of optimism. At its peak, the President’s popularity will be higher, the government will be taking credit for successfully bailing out the economy, the Fed will appear to have saved the banking system, and investors will be convinced that the bear market is behind us.’

“So far his prophecy reads well. It is reminiscent of Warburg’s line that the business cycle is ‘a subject for psychologists’ rather than economists. Bernanke is already being compared favourably with Volcker. Continental Europe has apparently ‘escaped’ from recession. Positive economic growth across the world for the remainder of the year seems certain. And yet Prechter went on, ‘Be prepared for this environment: it will be hard for most investors to resist. But beware… [the next move] will be the most intense collapse in stock prices.’

 

Click here for the full report.

Hat tip: GreenLightAdvisor, August 27, 2009.

 


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