Is it time to worry?

The Economist have an article this week that asks “prices are high across a range of assets. Is it time to worry?”

Before the 2007-08 financial crash I managed to cash-in everything that would have been exposed to the crash. This, I’m sure, was luck. I was, at the time, financing a business build; fortuitously, I went much further than cashing-in assets required to support the business.

Some lost up to 50% of their worth during the 2007-08 crash. (I learnt recently, on their son’s visit to the UK, that this had happened to someone who I had known very well and who now resides in Australia.)

As the Economist alludes, should we be concerned now?

I spent nearly a year in the development of fundamental formulae based on Benjamin Graham’s ideas. His method principally determined a ‘margin of safety’. As the Economist article explains: “the price paid for a stock or a bond should allow for human error, bad luck or, indeed, many things going wrong at once”.

In my technical trading, which is the only trading I now do, ‘margin of safety’ is everything: (1) I do not carry a trade overnight and certainly not over a weekend. (2) The risk of each trade does not exceed a maximum. (3) I cannot multi task, so I trade only one thing, watch it in the moment and with awareness of what (news) might affect it.

Not many have the will, the time or the inclination to do what I do. I understand that. So we use traditional fund managers.

Graham’s ‘margin of safety’ was buying a share at a 50% discount or better. can we get that deal today? If not, fund managers may become increasingly incautious in their dealings.

Buffett said this week, as reported by the Economist, “stocks would look cheap in three years’ time if interest rates were one percentage point higher, but not if they were three percentage points higher”.

In the meantime, for my fund investors, I’m very happy to take ‘margin of safety’ into my own hands.

P.S. My articles are few and far between currently as I work on a strategy e-book and of course my trading.

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