Using the Habit of Optimism to Find Great Investment Opportunities

You may of already had your fill of electoral madness so how about some central banking madness?

‘Upgrade to shares, RBA tells savers,’ is the headline on today’s Australian Financial Review. The Reserve Bank didn’t cut interest rates yesterday, possibly a nod to fed up savers and those on a fixed income. But the Fin says the Bank had a dig at savers anyway.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens says, ‘Interest rates for borrowers have declined to be clearly below their medium-term averages and savers are facing increased incentives to look for assets with higher returns.’ That is a polite way of telling savers to shut up and buy shares already.

This is the bargain central bankers are willing to make these days. They agree to create asset bubbles in housing and stocks if we agree to shut up about inflation, lost purchasing power, and the inability to plan (and save) for a rainy day. It’s a bit like a bribe, or the Godfather making you an offer you can’t refuse.

In any event, investors in the US were happy to be bought off today. The Dow Jones Industrials were up one per cent. At this point it’s hard to say that one candidate benefits the market more than another. The end of the election uncertainty will be a relief to everyone. To that extent, the market will be relieved. Soon thereafter, it will be on to the looming fiscal issues we outlined at the end of our report.

One interesting and potentially profitable exercise on a day like today — dominated by one story with everyone’s attention focused on the same thing — is to force yourself to think about something entirely different. If you can avoid being overwhelmed by the dread and political gloom, it may be possible to find genuinely contrarian investment opportunities.

We were reminded of this on our recent trip to South Africa. Once out of the bunker and echo chamber of our own St Kilda headquarters, it was refreshing to see that the world keeps turning and people are always trying to improve their lives. This creates investment opportunities, if you can force yourself to view them as such.

In this instance we’re talking about the platinum group metals (PGM). The strikes in South Africa are not only bad for sentiment, they’re bad for PGM production. Palladium will enter a supply deficit next year. Meanwhile, outside the developed world, the car industry is doing just fine. This is bullish for PGM demand.

Granted, it’s about as risky as it gets making a punt like this. You have a metals group down on its luck in a country that’s in the middle of a labour/political feud. Yet these are exactly the sort of conditions where you buy assets cheap because nobody wants them, or stocks cheap because the sentiment is bearish.

We’ll keep you posted on how it goes. But as a thought exercise, give it a go. Try to make optimistic and opportunistic thinking a habit. Try and think about the stuff you definitely don’t want to think about because the news is so bad. That’s probably where you’ll find the next great investment opportunity.


Dan Denning
for Markets and Money

From the Archives…

A Deflationary Conclusion to China’s Bubble
2-11-2012 – Greg Canavan

When ‘Nanny State’ Deficits Becomes Unviable
1-11-2012 – Marc Faber

Why Economists Are Jackasses
31-10-2012 – Bill Bonner

Riding out the Storm
30-10-2012 – Dan Denning

What We Couldn’t Say on CNBC About Economic Stimulus and Other Things
29-10-2012 – Bill Bonner

Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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