Markets Tumbling? Say Thank You

Are you among the people sweating blood as you peruse TheMarker website?

Are you among the ones tearing up as you study the mutual fund and stock tables, and calculate your losses as stocks sink in Israel and around the world?

Well, this is a good opportunity for you to nicely say, thank you. Say thank you for the 4% to 7% downward correction in major investment sectors in the last week.

Let us take a moment to remind you of our financial reality.

1 Reminder: This is trivial, but many people tend to forget it after three years of gains: what goes up can come down. Asset prices not only rise, they fall too, sometimes fast and painfully. The more the boom continues, the more people tend to forget that, especially the short of memory.

2 Reminder: Investments in emerging markets such as China, Russia, Brazil, India and many others are dangerous and volatile, even when economists are optimistic about their economic growth prospects. These economies also suffer from structural childhood diseases such as opacity, low liquidity, and a backward corporate culture. Russia for instance is a tremendous growth economy through which hundreds of billions of petrodollars flow each year: but it's also rotten to the bone and sometimes the money passing under the table can be greater than the money passing above it.

3 Reminder: The powerful, competitive American economy that surprises us on the upside time and again, in its ability to rely on gigantic borrowing by government and households alike, is still a gigantic economic unknown. Most economists wonder whether its business/financial model can be sustained.

4 Reminder: Although Israel's economy is in a better place than it had been for five years, and the Finance Ministry has lifted its growth forecast for the year 2005 to 5.3% - Israel's financial markets are cyclical and are more dependent than ever before on the international financial markets. Wall Street, Mumbai and Shanghai are one click away, and when the market is wide open and capital can flow at a twist of a dial, what happens there affects our pockets.

5 Reminder: Every time there's a boom, and this one's the biggest in Israel's history from the perspective of activity by financial institutions - up pop crooks of all sorts, gorgeously decked out in suit 'n' tie, firing jargon with the speed of cranked-up Uzis.

Reminder: When the downturn arrives, as it will, some of the market superstars will turn out to be charlatans with little experience in investment managers and even less money handling culture.

That is why the drops as the week began, and yesterday's rebound, are a wonderful opportunity for every Israeli investor of any kind at all, an opportunity to think: what kind of investor are you? Do you have the guts to brave the bust and stick to it for the long-term, or are you a fair-weather type, grist to the mill of the fee-hungry investment management industry managing other people's money? By which we mean, yours.