A Time to Sow

As we head into December, people everywhere are beginning to take stock of how 2015 has been for them.
Given that the Philippine Stock Exchange Index is currently several hundred points lower today, it is no surprise that many people who started investing earlier this year are having second thoughts. After all, it was barely six months ago that the Philippine Stock Exchange once more set a new all-time high and things looked good. Nowadays, the increasing number of “long-term investors” seems to point to a gloomy outlook for 2016.

And I would have to say that my own outlook for 2016 would be more bear than bull at this point – especially for the latter half of 2016. Why? Lots of reasons but the two main ones are the following: Politics and Interest Rates.

POLITICS: While the first half of 2016 will surely benefit from election spending, the latter half will most likely not be as good. This is because, unless Mar Roxas wins, there will definitely be major turnover in pretty much every government entity as the new President will begin replacing P-Noy’s people. There will also be electoral protests by the dozen as losing candidates will shout out their usual protests of being cheated. And this is pretty much the best case scenario as the worst case will include violence and massive fraud. All in all, I really do not see business moving forward much as people have to try and figure out how to work with whoever gets elected.

INTEREST RATES: When the U.S. Federal Reserve (Counter part of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) finally raises interest rates, local rates will be forced upwards as well. This would then lead to a higher cost of borrowing for both businesses and consumers. And this is a major concern for me as many Pinoys, both here and abroad, have borrowed large sums of money to finance the acquisition of cars and condos over the past decade. The question now would be whether these people will be able to continue making payments when interest rates rise. What is even more worrying for me is that one highly regarded international property consultant has already published a report saying that condo sales and rentals have negative prospects for the next 2 years.

So what do we do?

First off, ENJOY the coming Christmas season in moderation. Just as you know how much you can eat or drink before you start getting wasted, you should also know how much you can spend before you get into trouble. Do NOT spend all of your 2016 savings before you’ve actually saved them.

Second, prepare for the tough times. Study and invest wisely – especially when prices of many assets (and not just stocks) go down. Example: Gold is now almost 50% lower compared to 2011 / 2012 prices. Real estate prices are also expected to correct so if you are truly serious in accumulating assets cheaply for the long run, then 2016 may be a good starting point.

Third, get started. Yes, the coming days will be challenging but if you keep waiting for the “perfect” time to start, you will never end up doing anything.

As always “Aral MunaBago Invest” and Merry Christmas!


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