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Money Matters

Do we still invest in times like these?

/ 09:38 PM October 18, 2011

Question: With all the uncertainties in the world economy and markets, is it still wise to make investments in the stock market now?—Kris C. Lim, public relations practitioner

Answer: I have been taking note of all the developments worldwide particularly the economic woes of Europe and the United States.  Downgrading banks, debt default scares, increasing unemployment, recession and political instability are becoming so common that many are referring to our present situation as the “new normal.” Egad, it sure feels that all the business and economic developments we are experiencing will result in the rewriting of all the books as we know it. I don’t blame you for being skeptical in investing your money—I would be, too, and I actually am.

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‘New normal’

With the United States and Europe so far from us, should we really be concerned? Definitely. Today’s borderless world economy has resulted in more economies being interdependent with each other. The United States, Europe and Japan are the largest of all markets and even if Asian countries have better fundamentals (and yes, the Philippines is definitely included), we will all feel the pinch as we are all covered by the laws of supply and demand.

To simplify, when people start to make less money because of a weakening economy, they will buy less of the goods and services we offer and that will not be good. A weakened economy will usually have a negative effect on profitability of corporations, and stock prices will likewise go down. When economies are not robust, people are also fearful of the future and investment markets react negatively.

Make a killing or be killed

Now back to your question. Should you invest now when we are under the ‘new normal’ environment? Well, the answer can be tricky. There are two scenarios that can happen. First, you can actually take advantage of the low prices of stocks and start bargain hunting. When you properly select blue-chip stocks that are profitable, well-managed and have a lot of good potentials, you can be sure that their prices will rebound when the market starts picking up.

Some prices are now at their lowest in months and buying them may be a good idea. On the other hand, buying stocks today might also be like catching a falling knife if the market continues to plummet. There is always that risk and buying a lot of stocks today with the current market condition is tantamount to speculating. When one speculates, he can make a killing or be killed—that’s just the rule of risk and return.

Personally, I would probably start looking for good-quality stocks that are now trading near their 52-week lows; just make sure that these companies have strong fundamentals and continue to be profitable despite the condition of the economy. However, it is unwise to have a high exposure or a big part of your portfolio invested at this conjecture as the market can continue to go south with no real recovery anytime soon.

Investment options

The whole European situation continues to make people fearful and that will be a cloud over our heads for an indefinite period of time.

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You may also want to just invest through pooled funds like the UITF or Mutual Funds and leave all the trading, buying and timing to professionals who are focused solely on investing the funds. Experts actively managing funds can minimize losses during bearish environment and improve gains on bull runs.

If you chose to invest now in the stock market, or at any time for that matter, it is always prudent to look at this asset class as a long-term venture to weed out the volatility, or spread the risk over time. Further, do not be in a hurry to invest the bulk of your funds just yet because when the market does recover, it will not do so overnight and you will have time to re-enter the market when the trends are more evident.

Just a friendly reminder whenever you invest in the stock market or any other investment—consider your investment objective, time frame and risk tolerance first and foremost.

Be wise, stay prudent and be patient.

(Randell Tiongson is an advocate of life and personal finance. He is a director of the Registered Financial Planner Institute Phils. and has more than 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry. For questions, write to [email protected] To know more about becoming RFP, please visit www.rfp.ph or email [email protected])

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