According to John Kenneth Galbraith, an economist who knew a thing or two about recessions, inflation and deflation and the role of interest rates and Governments, the only reason for economic forecasters to exist was to make horoscopes look reliable.
At the moment, any cursory examination of Australian media would give an investor no clue about the future of markets, shares, property or debt – we are told variously that interest rates will rise, fall or remain the same, that shares are undervalued, overvalued or in extremes an outdated idea.
The honest answer is no one knows at all what the future of economic markets holds because there are simply too many variables at work and the pace of change isn’t something that we have seen since the reconstruction of Europe in 1949, so all the best intentions of the forecasters everywhere are by and large nonsense.
The reality is to be useful to anyone, you are going to have to both shorten the time frame you are talking about (what’s going to happen this quarter) and lengthen the time frame – talk about the five-year view you are taking.
If you are running a business – or managing one – you are going to have to develop four core strategies:
1. Be clear about the assumptions you are basing your decisions on and why.
2. Communicate clearly and frequently to those most affected by the turmoil.
3. Get the team to focus on the future and bridge past what’s going on now.
4. Let people who are valued by the team know that they are valued and that they have a promising future.
Just how bumpy it’s going to get is frankly anyone’s guess – but all the signs are pretty grim. Investor confidence is almost as low as it was at the beginning of the GFC and the bond yield predictions, the best indicator of market direction betting, are bleak.