The Old Man’s Views
It’s holiday time, so no more doom and gloom?
The sun is shining, the holidaymakers are happy, and it's time to enjoy life.
We are still far from seeing a return to economic growth, but by now, most people have committed to what they will do investment-wise, so what's the point of remaining grumpy? We've all made our bets. Now it's time to see how it all pans out.
The thing I like most about the summer (other than it is a good time for me, vis-a-vis my AirBNBs) is that most politicians go on long vacations. So, the damage over this period is relatively limited.
Of course, we would all be better off if our political leaders didn't return from their vacations, but let's be grateful for small mercies!
I intend to spend most of the next few months around a swimming pool or on the beach with friends who are not interested in what the markets do. This gives me a chance to refresh the old brain batteries.
Like most of you, when I was younger, I never took time away from the markets because I was frightened of missing something happening. But now that I am in the twilight of my career, I know that if I miss something, it will not be the end of the world.
I have a small exposure to the markets, with which I am happy. I have some protective stops to stop my losses from running away, and I will keep monitoring the markets to see how they perform. But I will not do too much to stress myself out over the summer.
I advise most of you to do the same.
In saying that, I know some of you are busy working on projects that are only halfway through, and you have deadlines or peer pressure to finish them. But don't stress. Somewhere, at some point, someone you will need or rely upon will also be on vacation, so you will be held up by them.
In a previous life, I used to be very busy during the summer, travelling the globe and monitoring the crop development of products, such as cocoa and coffee. That caused me to travel around the tropics, carrying out multiple experiments and amassing data for the “number-crunchers” back in the UK.
I have never been a numbers guy or someone who can create algorithms on a computer; that is not my bag. But I am damn good at getting my hands dirty and making judgments on what I can see physically in front of my own eyes.
Sometimes, I would come across a significant development in the crop, good or bad, and then get all excited to relay my findings back to head office. However, way back then, we didn't have internet or smartphones and communication in and out of Africa, or any other jungle was not as simple as it is today.
I remember one particular summer, I was in the middle of nowhere, staying at an old goldmine for the night when I looked at my data and realized the crop size was going to be much lower than previously forecast.
I finished my work the following day and then drove through the night on dangerous jungle roads to get the information back to UK HQ as quickly as possible.
Driving through the bush and jungle at night is not advisable. The roads are terrible, there are no lights, and you never know what will jump out in front of you or if the bridge around the bend is still there. I made it back to the capital at about 10 am and then had to find a telex machine. (Yes, a telex machine) so I could report my important observations to my "number-cruncher" and my boss.
Eventually, I sent my telex and waited a few hours in the blistering heat for a response. After a few too many beers and some atrocious food, the response came.
"Thanks for the info. We will pass it on to the recipients next week when they return from their holidays".
Having worked my nuts off getting this information back to those who needed it, you can imagine how I felt.
Luckily, no one ever swore on a telex!
That is not the only time other people's vacations have stressed me out. Numerous times, I've been trading or managing trading desks and needed approval from "upstairs" to sort out an error or extend my parameters. But this episode in Africa is memorable because I risked life and limb to do my job, only to find that those I needed to inform were sitting by a pool drinking Pina Coladas!
The moral of the story. It doesn't matter how important your job is; it doesn't matter how much effort you put in. When it comes to the summer months, you will at some point need to communicate with someone else, and if they are on holiday, what you do goes way down on their pecking order of what is important.
Don't get frustrated.
Take a chill pill and enjoy your summer.