Opinion

The Great Debate

from Commentaries:

Long on volatility, short on meaning

It's hard not to be cynical about what the markets are supposedly telling us this week.

Don't get me wrong, I think markets can be a good barometer for sentiment and a leading indicator for trends before they bubble to the surface.

But their behavior this week suggests that the few traders and investors working during these dog days of summer are more interested in pushing prices around for short-term gain than making a bet on where the economy and financial markets are heading.

It's nothing new that trading desks are thinly staffed in the last weeks of summer, but after last year's rude interruption of summer holidays, more are taking advantage of the relative calm this year to soak their feet in the ocean rather than man the phones.

That's caused some interesting cross-currents that are making the message a bit of a muddle. Today, for example, oil prices rose early on hopes of an economic recovery while gold, a haven for those seeking a safe harbor, marched toward $1,000 per ounce as investors grew more cautious.

BYD investors, fasten your seatbelts

Wei Gu– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

China’s bubbly stock market is making heroes out of some unlikely companies. And none more so than BYD Co. , in which Warren Buffett plans to take a 10 percent stake.

BYD has a much-hyped project to manufacture electric vehicles. Its shares have surged 140 percent in the past three months and 440 percent in the past year. They now trade at 74 times of current year profit and 54 time of next year earnings. That is double the level of capital goods companies and four times the multiple on which Chinese automakers trade.

from The Great Debate UK:

Shareholder confidence vs. value investing

Brendan Woods- Brendan Wood is Chairman of Brendan Wood International, a global intelligence advisory firm. Recently, BWI published the World’s TopGun CEOs as ranked by 2500 institutional investors, which provides insight into the executives in whom shareholders feel the greatest confidence. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The Brendan Wood International's panel of 2500 institutional investors suffered through last year's markets believing value would somehow prevail. Those value investing "diehards" indeed died hard.

Conversely, those who correctly read the status of shareholder confidence and acted on it were spared. In short, shareholders that had lost confidence in the system abandoned their value criteria and sold good companies along with lesser ones.

from The Great Debate UK:

The stockmarkets: irrational nonchalance

Laurence Copeland- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Before the credit crunch, we had what I called a Prozac market. Investors on both sides of the Atlantic seemed to be in denial, as irrational as the people who end up in the bankruptcy court because for years they have kept on smiling while the bills piled up unopened.

Last Fall, reality caught up in the shape of the worst banking crisis in history, and we have now had to mortgage our earnings for decades to come in order to bail out the banks. Not surprisingly, by mid-March this year, the Dow had fallen by well over 50 percent from its peak level at the start of October 2007, and the FTSE by nearly as much. In the last three months, however, the FTSE has risen by 20 percent and the Dow by nearly 30 percent. What has happened to justify the recovery?

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