Half-time rest and summer holidays
Summer holidays and the football World Cup. The fantastic start to the Swedish summer takes me back to the summers of early childhood when sunburn was as expected as sweet interludes with an ice-cream lolly or a Cornetto. For my generation, the football World Cup will always bring back 1994, when we sat up at night, crossing our fingers that the impossible was finally going to happen. Summer and the holidays also give us a bit of time for much-needed reflection about our lives. After all, the financial markets are a bit like life itself, full of dreams, challenges, hopes and disappointments. In the best case, joy and good fortune.
Like always, the year was tinged with various anxieties. Geopolitical events related to the US and North Korea, constant concerns about the freedom of world trade and a bit of renewed worry about the state of the Italian banks. Worry about rising short-term rates in an attempt to normalise the abnormal was sometimes displaced by worry that the economy will sag before that happens.
Immersed in this melting pot of impressions, our managers seek to make decisions on a daily basis to optimally perform their mission, to manage our clients’ money, your money, as wisely as possible. First and foremost, it is about preserving capital. Not exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. To the greatest possible extent, diversifying themselves away from isolated events that could put the whole at risk, yet still daring to take the risks required outperform the norm. This is a constant balancing act that takes both wisdom and courage, along with the constant knowledge that, in the short term, randomness can cast a pall over both the outcomes of and confidence in the investment decisions. Capital and wealth have been managed throughout the history of modern humankind. As far back as Biblical times, strategies about “gathering into barns” were discussed, when it was foreseen that good years could be followed by leaner years. In those days, capital was expressed as the things most essential to life, like grain or other necessities. The concept is now, and has been for a long time, expressed in more neutral measurements of value, such as the domestic currency or gold.
Sometimes, it is good for us to rewind a little and think about the actual purpose of what we are doing. Caught up in the chase for short-term gains and quarterly capitalism. Our purpose is to preserve capital and take purchasing power forward into the future. To manage forces that can destroy the value of the investment and to seek to achieve real return while we are at it. After a long period of powerfully stimulated financial markets, stock market upturns seem as safe as houses and the preservation of capital is almost never brought to mind. The sole aim was to obtain the greatest possible exposure to the upside. In real estate, equities or credits. We have stopped talking about inflation. Purchasing power is taken for granted, or inflation remains so low that it hardly needs to be part of the equation.
As I write this, a storm suddenly rushes in from the sea to scatter the peace of summer. Sunbathing tourists flee in panic and open umbrellas quickly fall victim to the thunderstorm’s implacable gusts. Just as the favourites going in, expected to win the football World Cup, do not always live up to expectations, nor can we trust that everything will turn out as we planned. A sudden financial storm hits and the hunt for returns becomes less important. All at once, holding on to what you have feels like a very attractive alternative.
We at Catella Fonder try to always keep this in mind when we invest our clients’ capital. In some situations, avarice in the market can become too great and returns are chased without regard to financial security. That is not how we want things to be. Our mission is to manage. To ensure that the preservation of capital is always central and that the risks taken are carefully considered and balanced based on the mandates we have. It is then that we can create the peace of mind that we want you, our clients, to feel when you entrust us with your money. Even if the financial markets should be hit by a storm.
We thank you for your trust.