I have just come back from a short break in Madrid.
A magnificent city full of art galleries – the equivalent of a banqueting feast comprising overflowing plates of Sorolla, El Greco, Velazquez, Goya and Picasso.
If I die tomorrow, I will go to my maker content in the knowledge that I have now stood before Picasso’s “Guernica” and wept at its overpowering brilliance.
It even made the flight delay back to good old Blighty just about bearable, helped in part by a glass or two of fizz.
Although there is not a bucket or spade to be seen (Madrid is quite literally in the centre of Spain) and the train system is more frustrating than ours (I spent an hour queuing for a ticket to Toledo, only to discover the trains for the day were fully booked), I do recommend a trip to this cultural city.
You will not be disappointed. I even mislaid my phone, only for kindly staff at the trendy boutique hotel to find it and put it in safekeeping until five o’clock the next morning when I scurried down in my dressing gown bemoaning my loss. I doubt the same happy outcome would have happened in the UK.
Of course, holidays are brilliant for the soul and allow the mind and body to recuperate from the battering they receive at work – you really do not want to know what has been going on.
They also allow you to forget – for a while at least – all the financial, economic and political woes that beset this fine country of ours.
Over the years, while on a short break, I have learnt to stop reading all incoming emails while keeping social media (especially Twitter) to a minimum for fear of souring my good mood.
So it was rather uplifting upon my return to the UK to learn that one of the world’s leading asset managers is talking up – rather than talking down – stock markets.
The optimist is none other than Larry Fink, boss of BlackRock, who argues that global stock markets are due a “melt up” – rather than a meltdown – over the coming months.
Too many people, he argues, are sitting in cash when they should be putting money into the market and earning an attractive combination of income and capital return.
If only a little of this money sitting in cash drips into equities, the ‘melt up’ will begin.
As the boss of a fund management group that manages some £5tn of investors’ money worldwide, you would expect Mr Fink to talk up his own business book.
And with stock markets in the United States – the S&P 500 index and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite – reaching new highs, you could soundly argue that caution, rather than a gung-ho investment attitude, should prevail.