Monday, 09. December 2013 - 17:12
01. 08. 12. - 18:15
Market volatility is rampant, indicating high levels of investor uncertainty. Will Europe achieve economic stability soon? Or will the contagion spread to France, the US and beyond? Clem Chambers, CEO of ADVFN.com and author of investment guides and financial thrillers, discusses.
European Central Bank president Mario Draghi recently mortgaged his credibility by stating the euro would be saved, "whatever it takes".
It was good news for Croatian investors. Last Thursdayís speech caused a market "pop" all around the world; big rallies driven by a sense of relief.
The intense reaction to just one sentence from Draghiís speech highlights just how amplified market volatility has become.
One day, indices swoon, the next, they zoom.
Itís exciting, but itís not good news.
If you compare your savings account with a stock, itís easy to see why stocks are so much riskier particularly during volatile times.
Profits from your savings account, however small will slowly tick up, as long as you donít raid your account and your bank stays in business. Returns rise at a fixed level, they donít go up and down.† You can take a pencil and predict the future accurately without the need for specialist advice.
The predictability means youíve got certainty, in return for which you take less profit than someone who puts their money in stocks.
A stock, on the other hand is liable to jump about, even if youíre sure in the long run that it will come good.
As the stock leaps around and carries a risk of things going wrong, you are rightly entitled to a fair chunk more profit along the way -† to pay for the worry.
This is why risk equals return and this is why we invest in stocks -† because all the stress means more profit in the long run.
The flip side to this is when markets start jumping about more than usual. This means the people involved have little clue which way the market or stock is headed.
If the future were obvious, then prices would be stable and price moves would more closely resemble that boring old savings account.
The technical name for the "jumpiness" of the stock market is volatility. The more volatility you see, the less certainty exists about future market direction.
Increased jumpiness in the market means increased danger or risk in the market.
Right now, stock and commodity markets are reeling, which tells us the future is far from certain. This uncertainty is growing.
You could think that this uncertainty is good, because up until now, many people have been pretty certain about the demise of the euro Ė but thatís probably a bit too optimistic a way of thinking.
Markets are now heading toward several "pinch points," the outcomes of which will have consequences that will shape the coming year.
The first is the US election.
A Romney win means severe austerity; an Obama reelection means much less retrenchment. My read is that Romney has almost no chance of election, so thatís "bullish" or encouraging for markets.
Historically-speaking, a successful re-election cycle means a stock market rally. The US election outcome seems obvious to me. Americans elect their presidents on the basis of who would they invite over for a barbeque.
The cool, amusing, friendly guy always gets the job, not the flinty eyed, black Ėsuited, stiff, alpha-tendency guy. Of course, there is still time for Obama to lose it.
The second pinch point is purely technical. Markets are heading into a zone where the medium-term "uptrend" hits the long-term "downtrend". There will be a fight over whether we are in a huge bear market or whether the credit crunch crash is over. This will coincide with the re-election result.
A Romney win at this point would seem to be catastrophic, unless -† like many politicians promising budget rectitude -† he simply throws the whole idea out the window.
Issue number three is that around the end of the year, the euro crisis needs to be over or it will suddenly be Franceís turn. This would be extremely "bearish" or bad for the future direction of markets.† A crisis in France would be even bigger than Spainís current problems and foreshadow a dreaded contagion to the US.
Christmas 2012 is thus a period to be looking out to with tight focus. Worst-case scenarios? A Romney win, French contagion and confirmation that we are in a generational bear market whilst the Chinese economy remains weak.
On the other hand, a the best bull sequence would be an Obama victory, increasing stability in Europe and a break in equity markets out of the long-term bear phase weíve been suffering. China switching to clear recovery mode would be a strong confirming signal that the global economy is on the road to recovery.
The fork in the road to either outcome seems to be right about now, which is why the market is currently swinging up and down so much. When this volatility subsides, the market direction will hint at what to expect in the following† year.
Lets hope the trend is up.
Clem Chambers (www.clemchambers.com ) is CEO of the leading financial information and investors website ADVFNand author of books including A Beginnerís Guide to Value Investing and 101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners, both out now on the Kindle. His latest financial thriller The First Horseman is available for pre-order now.
ADVFN : http://www.advfn.com/
Beginnerís Guide: http://www.amazon.com/ADVFN-Guide-Beginners-Investing-ebook/dp/B007HAZV0K/ref=la_B0034OKF36_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1343819636&sr=1-7
Ď101 Waysí : http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Pick-Stock-Market-Winners/dp/1907616276/ref=la_B0034OKF36_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1343819636&sr=1-4
Latest Thriller : http://www.amazon.com/First-Horseman-Clem-Chambers/dp/1842436546/ref=la_B0034OKF36_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1343819636&sr=1-5
~Visit www.ADVFN.com† for free, real-time stock prices
~ Clemís latest news and articles at www.clemchambers.com
~Follow Clem on Twitter: @ClemChambers
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