Opinion  

Don’t panic! Don’t panic!

Tony Hazell

Tony Hazell

If there is one thing the City can be relied upon to do in a crisis, it is panic. Hence the currency and stock market bloodbath in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Yet while the professionals panic, smaller private investors are told to hold their nerve.

Is it any wonder that Mr and Mrs Average appear to have given up listening to the self-appointed experts?

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It is all very well to warn that selling will only crystallise losses, as many experts did through the Sunday papers immediately following the vote, but that did not seem to stop traders marking down the FTSE 250 a further 7 per cent on the Monday.

Better to crystallise a small loss, perhaps, than hang on for an even bigger one.

My confidence in the City was not enhanced when a senior banker appeared on television to explain why the FTSE 100 was rebounding.

Traders had realised, he told us, that FTSE 100 stocks were mainly international companies which could weather the storm better.

Really? They only realised this halfway through the most volatile day on the stock market in almost 30 years?

Are they not supposed to know and understand these things?

And, of course, Fidelity International chimed in with statistics about the dangers of being out of the market.

Missing the best 10 days over the past 20 years would reduce profits by more than half for someone invested in the FTSE All Share, Fidelity says.

A £1,000 investment on June 20, 1986 would have risen to £12,680 by June 20, 2016. But missing the best 10 days would restrict the return to £6,723.

Miss the best 30 days and you are down to £2,976.

What, I wondered, what would happen if you had been lucky enough to miss the worst days?

Well, someone who avoided the worst 10 would have £26,909 but someone who operated with the benefit of hindsight and missed the worst 30 would have £68,858.

Oh, well – we can dream.

So while the traders are gripped by collective madness, private investors must show steadier nerves.

Hang on for the rollercoaster ride and we may be okay, though a little nauseous in the end.

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Baby-boomers had it all but wanted more

I’m no fan of the EU as you may realise. I loathe the expensive bureaucratic mechanisms, the unaccountability of senior officials, the waste and the general way Eurocrats appear to thumb their noses at the views of ordinary people.

But in the run-up to the referendum, I did think again about which way to vote. Not because of the ludicrous scare stories put out by both sides, but because of conversations with my stepsons, nieces and nephews.

All of them seemed to have their jobs and prospects tied up with Europe in some way.

But while the young wanted to stay, the baby-boomers formed part of an unlikely alliance to take us out.

These are the same baby-boomers (and I am one of them) who have had the best pensions, the best house price growth, the best of the welfare state and a generally stable jobs market (with the exception of the mid-1980s) throughout much of their lives.