Australian Equities

I can see clearly now. The way forward.

06/10/2009

Martin Conlon

Martin Conlon

Head of Australian Equities

Johnny Nash could see clearly, and what he saw was a bright, bright, sun-shiny day. If only it was so easy for investors.

Some of you may have seen the program “The New Inventors” on the ABC. One of the guys who is occasionally on the panel describes his occupation as ‘Futurist’. This occupational description has always intrigued me, as I have absolutely no idea what the day to day activities of a futurist might involve. The Oxford dictionary defines a futurist as “One who studies the future and makes predictions about it”. Making predictions about the future sounds relatively easy (and particularly attractive, as the normally uncomfortable annual assessment process endured by most employees could be deferred annually on the basis of one’s predictions having not yet come to fruition), however, studying the future strikes me as somewhat more problematic, given that it hasn’t happened yet. This job is sounding more attractive by the minute! In the comfortable position of knowing that it will prove difficult (at least for a while) to prove my predictions totally wrong, I have decided to try and ‘study the future’.

The tendency for analysts and humans generally to extrapolate, has always interested me. Much of the sentiment that drives economies and markets stems from extrapolation. For some reason, humans feel more comfortable assuming that the future is likely to resemble the past. In my newly adopted role of Futurist, I am going to make a few bold predictions that question the wisdom of this extrapolation and highlight a few areas in which investors might want to reconsider this approach.

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