It wasn’t meant to be like this. The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 was supposed to be a celebration of the hard-won economic and political freedoms that the prising open of the Iron Curtain from the yoke of communism had given to the peoples of central and eastern Europe, and all that followed.
From the Current Issue
After some of the most severe falls in country GDPs on record, there are signs that the worst of the global economic crisis is behind us, leading many to believe that the post–Lehman Bros fears of deflation have proved alarmist in the face of unprecedented government intervention. However, in the United States total hours worked in the private sector are down by a dramatic 7 percent year-on-year and total pre-tax household income was recorded as falling by 3.4 percent year-on-year in July. In short, although the spectre of deflation may have receded for now, it has not gone away.
In times of volatility there is a flight to quality — investing in what you know. When Lehman Bros filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2008, the US dollar initially soared in value against a basket of currencies. However, as stability returned, volatility reduced and the dollar retreated. With the equity markets, at the time of writing, up 42 percent since their nadir at the beginning of March, many investors are now feeling that the worst is over and are looking to invest in currencies that are higher yielding than the US dollar.
Until recently, there were three constants in life: death, taxes and the property cycle. The advent of property derivatives has reduced these constants to two and has given real estate investors a tool to smooth the perennial troughs associated with the property cycle by enabling positive returns even when the market is in freefall.