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Monday, 11 May 2009

The signs aren’t good

Redundancies for the three months to February 2009 were 270,000 - up 45,000 over the quarter and up 162,000 over the year. This is the highest figure since comparable records began in 1995.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 1.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2009. Hotels, restaurants, transport, storage and business services all fell in terms of output in the 3 months to February this year.

And yet I look at my share portfolio and it has risen – significantly - in recent weeks. April was the best month for the FTSE 100 in six years, and the media are reporting that we are now officially in a bull market having risen more than 20% from the recent lows in March.

All of which leads me to one question. Are we experiencing a ‘W’, a ‘U’, a ‘V’ or even an ‘L?’ Are we positively talking our way out of things or is the widely derided ‘global rescue package’ actually working? Should I capitalise on my short-term gains and hope the markets plummet over the summer, or should I wait and keep my fingers crossed that stocks keep slowly rising back up?

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter that much – this is just a bit of fun for me. But for the estimated 1 million Britons that are due to retire this year, the answer to this question has a profound impact on the rest of their lives. The new guidance and information opportunities suggested as part of the Thorenson Review will help. But perhaps our thinking should be more profound than this. Perhaps we should stop thinking about equities being the investment vehicle for mainstream retail products and look to alternatives?

Meg Steele
Client Services Director

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