If you're anything like me you'll be fed up to the back teeth with all the mudslinging, promises, and counter promises in the UK Election Campaign. Unless you've found a way to disconnect the Telly and Radio, switched off the curses of the 21st Century...iPhones, iPads etc, while avoiding Newspapers, and fortunate enough to have a dog that chews up anything coming through the letterbox, you can't get away from it all.
Today we suffer from information overload at the best of times. And right now this pre-election mania is the worst of times. Seems to me as I get older the promises from all sides get increasingly extreme not to mention ridiculous. And maybe that explains why over the years the turnout on Election day has fallen significantly since the good old days when the News on the Telly was once in a blue moon and it was a dawdle to avoid Party Political Propaganda episodes .
Born as a Baby Boomer in '47 I thought it would be interesting to see who won all the elections since then….from 1950 onwards, how many turned out to vote, what was predicted by the talking heads beforehand regarding impact on stockmarkets, and what actually happened. Checking the percentage turnouts it shows voters have begun switching off as campaigns become increasingly adversarial. Up to 1992 the average turnout was just shy of 80%...that's 4 out of 5 in old money. Since then it's only averaged 64%....with a low of 60% fourteen years ago for some reason.
Over that timeframe there's been 17 elections, 8 each to the Tories and Labour and one Coalition five years ago. And what you find is consistently a victory by the Left is accompanied with an "AW Naw we're doomed" Private Frazer reaction, while a win by the Right triggers an initial "Ya Beautyyyy...time to pile into shares" reaction. But if you sit down and study the long haul of financial markets as I did (from 1950 onwards) what's obvious in hindsight is initial reactions are meaningless....as usual. And what is equally obvious is the best investments over the entire period are stockmarket linked. And that's not ignoring the recent 34 year positive environment for Gilts as UK interest rates peaked around 1981 and are currently stuck at the lowest levels since the 17th Century.
What's also obvious now is that, contrary to experts' views regarding the policy differences between Left and Right, Economic Booms and Busts are shared by both sides when in power. And if you look back even further....back to 1900....you can see clearly that moves and trends in Stockmarkets and Gilts (Fixed Interest) are born, mature and die whoever is allegedly pulling the economic strings.
Despite all the evidence we're still apparently all convinced that politicians can make a difference. Evidence shows they don't. And now we're worried about a Hung Parliament. (Doesn't seem a bad idea to me....once they were all strung up maybe we'd get more sense of what's next!). Let's get real here. Globally, the UK is less than 4% of world GDP. And Scotland? Best guess puts it at 0.35%. Putting that into perspective, Texas and California's combined GDP is greater than the UK, while Li'l Ole Tennessee's is more than 20% bigger than Scotland's.
Comparing countries....(whaw's like us? Erm...quite a few actually!)....Scotland's GDP is half of Norway's despite having identical populations, two thirds the GDP of far away "poverty stricken" Columbia....austerity? What austerity?....and exactly the same size economically as The Philippines. If Scotland's GDP were to slip by 5% unless you had a microscope it wouldn't be noticed globally. Sad but true.
Regular readers of my monthly Letter will have noticed that from time to time I've been inspired one way or another by the odd book. I met a client the other day who also read Al Koran's inspirational work I read as a 17 year old, and remembers it fondly. I wonder how many of you read Charles Handy's "The Age Of Unreason" back in the early 1990's, or Larry Wilson's inspiring work in the mid 1980's that encouraged me to follow a path of optimism through thick and thin? And that's what we all need to embrace today in the face of the gloom surrounding many serious investors. Optimism.
Presumably you'll have heard of The Parkinson Laws. Back in 1958 while I was still into the Beano and the Rover....the Bash Street Kids /Alf Tupper....pity they weren't standing for Parliament.....Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson published his laws. One you may be familiar with was.... "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". He was especially critical of public service departments even then making particular reference to the gross overstaffing at senior level of the British Navy despite the fall in ship numbers. Clearly successive Governments ignored his advice. Don't look now but although the UK Navy's down to 19 warships, last time I looked there were 30 odd Admirals and 260 Captains. Spending cuts? Austerity?
Back in '83 he wrote his sequel "Parkinson Laws 25 years on". I read it. And learned his commonsense views on Tax Planning. It transformed my thinking and our approach here while advising our clients on building and protecting wealth. He wrote then... "the UK Tax System is designed to tax Income while you are Living, and Capital when you Die , so the role of the tax planner is to show you the reverse...create Capital when you're Living, and Income when you Die....". Genius. And that's what we've been up to all the years since....using Pension plans to build and protect, ISAs and Peps before them, Collectives with their valuable exemptions, Bonds which help defer tax until lower rates kick in and so on.
These "Parkinson inspired" planning moves over the years, plus our research to find the most likely sectors and fund managers to build and protect your wealth, should be well capable of helping you survive any incoming Government whatever their colour.
And finally.... in this our 40th year in business, we're delighted to inform you that once again we've been shortlisted (1 of 7) for the Money Marketing Best UK Investment Adviser Award for 2015. Fingers crossed.