The year 2015 will certainly be remembered as one of change, uncertainty and volatility. As we proceed into the New Year, we would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our clients for the continued support and wish you the very best for 2016. It is in uncertain times like these where the short term noise can influence investment decision making. We appreciate your patience and trust; for it is the time to remember that a long term plan is in place, aligned with your overall objectives and circumstances.
The predictability and trajectory of the global economy is a thing of the past; events over the last few years have changed so dramatically that economic charts have had to be redrawn, with reduced expectations a common theme.
2015 saw a string of terrorist IS attacks in France, US and on a Russian airliner; Jihadist attacks in Kenya, Tunisia and Charlie Hebdo in Paris; the worst European Refugee crisis since the Balkin wars; a massive sell-off of Chinese stocks with the subsequent devaluation of the yuan; the credibility of VW questioned; elections in Britain, Canada, Nigeria, Australia, Israel, Poland and Greece; massive quantitative easing in the Euro zone; continued low oil prices hurting countries like Russia and the shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. The global economy continues to struggle with variability between countries abnormally extreme. In December, the US Central Bank announced the much anticipated increase in interest rates by 0.25%, the first increase since 2006. In addition, they have pledged a gradual pace of increases moving forward, which will likely encourage Reserve Banks across the World to follow suit.
Locally the year was nothing short of eventful; in an article by Thulani Gqirana from News24 titled “2015: The year things fell in SA”, he summarises the year as follows: “In 2015, many things fell in South Africa: statues, student fees, the police commissioner, finance ministers, and the rand. The Springboks fell short of winning the Rugby World Cup. But, despite calls from various quarters, President Jacob Zuma did not fall.” In addition, in December, ratings agencies downgraded South Africa’s credit rating further, currently hovering just above junk status.
The event with the largest market reaction was certainly the replacement of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with ANC MP and former Merafong mayor David van Rooyen on 9 December. A public outcry and the Rand/Dollar plummeting to over R16 resulted in the subsequent replacement to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan on December 13, leaving Van Rooyen as the shortest serving SA Finance Minister.
According to Economists at Goldman Sachs, in 2016, a small uptick in global growth is expected, with further improvements in developed labour markets. They predict that Emerging markets will remain a mixed bag, with more deceleration ahead for China. In a summary of the top market themes for 2016, Goldman Sachs have described “Steady-as-she-goes global growth; Divergent monetary policy in developed markets; and Higher-than-expected inflation” as just some of the market themes their economists say will define the year ahead.
The World continues to be an unpredictable place, re-iterating the need for diversification across asset classes and geographic areas.
As a South African investor, there is currently a choice of more than 1250 locally-registered unit trusts, and once you go outside of our borders, there are in excess of 74,000 funds. This is why we place so much emphasis on the independent research and process underpinning our selection of funds.
As we move forward into the unknown of 2016, we urge you to continue to focus on your long term objectives.