Memory and reality are closely related in the short term, but drift apart with the passage of time. In contrast, the written word puts down markers that, although still biased by judgement, provide a frame of reference. Ten years ago in September 2009 when the shock of the credit crunch was still fresh in everybody’s mind, and when the recovery was far from assured, I wrote a note with the title “Axiomatic Investment for the Pre-Teens” setting out predictions for the new decade.
My central expectation for the decade ahead was that interest rates would remain low, with central banks backstopping investment markets. No matter how scary things looked in September 2009 (we were only a year on from the Lehman bankruptcy), the smart money was invested in risky assets like shares. In the words of Pink Floyd, you missed the starting gun if you didn’t work that out. No matter our personal fears, the world continues to turn, as those waiting to invest after Brexit have found out. Five years later I published a “Half Time Report” and now as the second decade of the 21st century comes to an end it seems appropriate to write a final report on the decade that is about to become history. With hindsight making ten year predictions in the middle of a crisis seems either bold or simply the arrogance of youth. Now as we face the 2020s, which of these predictions was right, what has changed and do any still hold good for the future? Critically, did an investment strategy based on this framework make money? Honesty is the best policy when it comes to investment markets and so back to the future.