Thursday, November 27, 2008

Here's an exercise in futility to try...

Below are six different covers of TIME magazine. Your exercise is to put them in date order from the start to finish during this "financial crisis". Try and see how you do...answers below.

Here is the answer:
  1. Energy Crunch - Jan 1974
  2. Trying to Build Confidence - Jan 1978
  3. Squeeze of 1979 (Oct 1979)
  4. Crash - Nov 1987
  5. How Bad Is It - Jan 1992
  6. Is The Boom Over - Sept 1998

As you can see, time goes on, markets go up and down, and people panic when things don't go right. I was having a conversation with a client (kudos to Mark) on Tuesday and he mentioned that he kept hearing the phrase "we are going through a period of economic uncertainty" on the radio, TV and in the news. He asked me a simple question;

"Have we ever been through a period of economic certainty"?

Unless you live in a third world country where your economic status is poor and likely to stay that way, a democratic free market society always leads to rises and falls in the market and economies. The phrase economic certainty is an oxymoron.

In a recent column, Jonathan Chevreau of the Financial Post references an article by Murray Leith, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Here is some of the text of the article...

Six months ago, the S&P/TSX Index was at a record high and investors extrapolated the best of times. This caused the market price of many Canadian equities, particularly the cyclicals, to rise well above what Leith considers "intrinsic value." Now, with the market down 50% from the highs, "many businesses are priced well below intrinsic value ... in many cases we believe there is a very wide gap between price and value." Leith includes U.S. stocks in that statement.

Now we come to the gist of the statement about stock market risk. With stock prices plummeting and we in the media disseminating 24/7 doom and gloom, Leith says it's hard to convince average investors that stocks offer a compelling risk and reward proposition. Now comes the sentence that prompted my paraphrased blog title: "Some might feel it is not prudent to declare 2008 'a stock buying opportunity of a lifetime' without offering the caveat that risks are unusually high. We do not provide an extraordinary 'risk' qualifier because we genuinely believe the opposite is true."

Leith argues that risk is a function of a company's market value relative to its underlying intrinsic value. And "with many stocks trading well below our assessment of intrinsic value, it is our thoroughly researched and reasoned opinion that overall stock market risk is presently low .... the odds of losing money over a reasonable investment horizon (three to five years), on quality companies, with strong franchises and solid balance sheets, is very low given that prices are so attractive."

From the end of the Chevreau article comes the following:

Time to buy -- anything! -- Gadsden predicts

So let me close with a prediction by a once-bearish financial advisor -- Stephen Gadsden -- who happens to have been my co-author on our 1999 book, Krash!

Subject Line: You May Quote Me.

It’s November 21, 2008. Investors have given up. Stocks are a pariah. The world’s equity markets are finished.

It is now time to ‘Buy.’ What should you purchase? Anything you like. Stephen GadsdenCo-author of KRASH!

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