Dollars & Sense

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 January, 2007, 12:00am

How they got where they are today

Guy Monson

Sarasin Chiswell

Chief Investment Officer

WHEN I VISIT Hong Kong, I am drawn to the computer and electronics shops. These are fantastic places to buy must-have items, such as computer peripherals and radio-controlled aircraft, which for some unfathomable reason my daughters appreciate far less than I do.

I think Hong Kong is a great place for optimists and I am a great optimist. I am prepared to commit myself to a view of where the world is going, and I think today is a terrifically exciting time to be living.

Economically, the world is growing at its fastest rate for a generation. We haven't seen anything like this since the 1960s. Company profits are at their highest in 50 years. The amount of capital in the world has stayed the same and yet the workforce has doubled, thanks to the growth of India, China and Brazil. And we are able to play into that market thanks to telecommuni-cations.

The doubling of the business base is exciting, and I think we will look back and see this as an economically golden age.

Although I consult with analysts, I suppose I am a bit of 'a truffle pig' when it comes to gathering the information I use to provide investment advice to my clients.

I am happy to use any source I think is useful. In Europe, I talk to people on the train and ask them what's going on, what messages they think their industry has for the wider financial markets. I'm always nosing around at weekends asking farmers what the crop prices are like.

I like the idea that there is some link between the long-term beliefs in the world, the politics of those who are running it and the economics of the countries involved.

I have always been interested in trying to create an investment picture that's more than just numbers. For example, I once did part of an economic overview based on tall buildings. My rationale was that cities and countries build tall structures during times of economic prosperity, and quite naturally less are inclined to invest in big buildings during tough times.

Though, unfortunately, tall buildings take such a long time to construct, an economy can often be experiencing a 'bust' period when an icon to financial vanity is just about to be completed.

I have also carried out analysis looking at the popularity ratings of United States presidents, and the impact that their acceptance levels have on the financial markets.

The best financial scenario seems to be when a US president is mildly unpopular.