Global Investing

Whoops!

Just how much have world stocks suffered in the past year or so? Try this. According to the World Federation of Exchanges, the market capitalisation of global stock markets has halved. It was $63 trillion in October 2007. At the end of January this year it was only $31 trillion.

 

It has all been more furious than most people can recall as well. When the internet-stock bubble burst at the beginning of this decade, MSCI’s all-country world stock index lost around 51 percent of its value from peak to trough. In the latest drop, the index fell 58 percent from an all-time high in November 2007 to a new cycle low yesterday.

 

And it has been fast. The internet-stock bubble decline took slightly more than 30 months. The current fall has taken only 16 months.

A lot of witches but no more crises?

As financial markets wrap up the final full trading week of 2008, investors are contending with “quadruple witchings”, that is the day on which stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures all expire.

French investment bank Calyon says that in addition the U.S. Treasury debt future also expires on Friday. “More witches than a Hallowe’en party,” the bank said in a note to clients.

“It is Friday, six days before Christmas in the middle of a credit crunch and this will only amplify the movements.”

Are you revolted yet?

Financial markets might be in distress and stocks are falling through the floor, but according to James Montier, global strategist at Societe Generale, we are not in the final stage of bubble burst yet. For one thing, the Financial Times is still too big.

At a fund managers conference in London today, Montier — a renowned bear — noted a thesis by economists Hyman Minsky and Charles Kindleberger that bubbles go through five stages — displacement, credit creation, euphoria, critical stage/financial distress and revulsion.

Currently, he says, financial markets are going through the critical/distress stage but we are not in revulsion yet.

“In revulsion, the Financial Times will be three pages long and we will all be ashamed to be working in finance. Stocks will be unambiguously cheap,” he told a group of financial professionals.

Fund manager sees ‘once in a generation’ opportunity

rtx9qop.jpgStock markets have fallen so far that they now offer brave, long-term investors a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity, according to LV Asset Management’s Tom Caddick.

While there is little sign of the bad news letting up, stock markets tend to look forward, rather than backwards, and will anticipate a recovery before it happens.

He’s backing up his brave talk by investing his own money in his funds.

However, he warns that while it could feel great in the long-term, don’t expect markets to rise immediately.