Investor Points of Few – The Unidentified Financial Omissions (UFO) Index

By Alan Steel

It’s hard to “settle down for a long winter’s nap” when financial news feeds are blowing a gale of negative market correlations; with connections as spurious, capital-weighted and contrived as they are light on common sense.

The latest spin of that media roulette wheel sees the ball drop once again on the red spaces of Brexit, US tax reform, debt ceilings, overvalued markets, and the unbearable lightness of being Trump.

All, of course, are aligned as having a bearing on stock market index performance – where 1% down is a “plummet” and 3% to 5% is considered “grief and woe of biblical proportion.”

Even December can’t seem to escape this skewed scrutiny, a month normally the reserve of hope, positive end-of-year performance, and an albeit temporary Magna Carta on sentiment, accompanied by the occasionally tipple and mince pie. 

As noted by one of the few bringers of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the sane party (the latter two to cleanse, and the former as non-dividend yielding purchasing power for our daily bread), that not-so-irrelevant-investor, Michael Batnick reveals the somewhat rudderless conclusions about historical month-of-December performance.  

It’s as if relevance is a ship that sailed when social media tsunami’d editorial integrity.

So here I sit, in amongst an A.M. scatter of newspapers and internet connections, and it appears the economic misinterpretations are yet mounting even further on this side of the Atlantic.

Who knew you could pile the proverbial shit this high?

According to official figures reported by the Office Of National Statistics (aka, the Office of Notional Statistics, aka, Oops Not Sure, aka Owns No Sums), the total net worth of the UK at the end of 2015 was a whopping £8.8 trillion.

A year later at the end of 2016, the ONS said the UK’s net worth had risen to £9.8 trillion.

Then the Oops Not Sure mob’s bean counters decreed the increase of £803 billion was the biggest rise on record…

Eh?

Now, the obviously crappy maths aside, it certainly goes a long way towards silencing the financial Voldemorts who’ve been hissing the UK’s doom song for far too long. 

As for the addition and subtraction, well, my abacus says, “No.” There’s a £1 Trillion difference between £9.8 trillion and £8.8 trillion….which makes you wonder what they did with the few hundred billion that’s gone the way of the wind.

Has it been “mislaid” or is someone just getting screwed?

And a final note for the pessimists: Why compare annual income against debt while ignoring the balance sheet itself. Balance sheets don’t lie. The ONS calculate that UK debt in March 2017 was £1.72 Trillion, which was 88% of GDP (annual income).

But who really cares?

After you remove the debt (which had only increased by £68 billion over the previous 12 months, also according to the ONS) we’re still left with almost £10 trillion in net wealth as a nation.

These are like UFOs – Unidentified Financial Omissions (UFO) – some large enough to deserve their own index.

And it’ll be interesting to see if they drop actually drop these balls onto the financial media roulette wheel or just redact and revise for reprint in the corner of page 17 in some newspaper somewhere three months from now, with a Socratic apology claiming the ONS “Owns No Sums.”

Methinks it’s just another coin that won’t get tossed in this media crap game.

Alan Steel, Chairman, Alan Steel Asset Management

 

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