Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Going against the trend - initial thoughts

The markets for most investments have experienced a prolonged bull market for a few years now and, like most investors, times have been good. That said, values in many markets are either expensive or, if not expensive, hardly represent a bargain. So I asked myself what assets I could identify that have been poor performers and may, just may, merit a counter cyclical investment. OK, I know that chartists and momentum investors (of which I am not one) would argue that investing against the trend is very risky but the lure of the cheap is sometimes hard to resist.

In any case, here is the list that I have come up with so far:

1. the United States Dollar: formerly the world's reserve currency, it has depreciated significantly against most developed country currencies and is being universally predicted to decline further;

2. housing prices in the United States: I don't know enough about this one to comment. Since I am not keen on the idea of investing in something that requires active management in a country where I do not live or habitually visit, this one is unlikely to be considered further;

3. natural gas: this has taken something of a hammering since June on the back of rising supply;

4. lean hogs: lean hog prices have fallen significantly since August. I'm not sure why;

5. soy bean oil: a huge fall in the last few weeks. I have no idea why. Soybeans have risen;

6. sugar: generally in down trend for about a year. I have no idea why;

7. credit instruments: some of these have taken a hammering in he credit crisis. It's a highly specialised field and I'm inclined to leave this one to the professionals;

8. shares in banks and other financial institutions: I am not allowed to deal in individual shares, so this will be excluded from further analysis.

I could add items like farm land in Zimbabwe to the list, but that is a little extreme for my taste.

I'm sure there are are other unloved investments out there but items 3-6 above will serve for the purposes of my initial research. At this stage, I have not researched any of them, but it will be interesting to see what I come up with.

Any others?

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