Who remembers May 1968?
Quite possibly you don’t remember the events of May 1968, and, apart from the grey beards in the Brantam office, we would suspect that a large part of our readership would perhaps not even have been born then.
So what is it about May 1968 that should make us pause and think? Today, in France that period has now famously become known simply as mai 68. Simply put, it was a transition in values and principles from the conservative moral ideology that prevailed to a more open and liberal ideal. The massive May 1968 protests, commencing with a series of student protests before broadening to a general strike by about 11,000,000 workers, represented over 20% of France’s TOTAL population at the time. It is instructive that a shift in moral ideology was driven not by the intellectuals of the time, but by the working (and studying) class.
Having experienced the “Arab Spring” protests during the course of 2011, and with more likely to come during 2012, we want to paint a picture of a 2012 that is almost certainly likely to contain a continued global shift in values, ideologies and policy. This has been and will be evident in countries as diverse as the USA, as they face their upcoming elections; in China, where there is a generational shift in power that will take place in October 2012; in France, where both presidential and legislative elections will be held before mid-2012; in Germany elections will take place only in 2013, but election mode will be a key dynamic in 2012 already; in Zimbabwe, where the less we say about those elections the better; in Mexico, a General election will be held in July; to Mongolia, where yes, they do have a parliament and they do have elections.
Suffice to say that given the enormous economic challenges faced by governments around the world in dealing with the debt problems that we are all already familiar with, this time will be marked as a period in which a shift in values, similar to that seen in France in May 1968 will likely see rapid changes in political ideologies and allegiances. It will be a dangerous period marked by quantum leaps (forwards and backwards) in economic policies. A world characterised by such shifts only ever means one thing – markets will respond in a like manner.
As has become customary at the start of any year, strategists the world over lose all sense of mortality as they embark on the journey that is ‘forecasting the year ahead’.
It is safe to say that after a year such as 2011, this becomes an almost insurmountable task. With 2011 humbling some of the most experienced investors around the world, and leaving very few markets, or asset classes unscathed in the process, one should be excused for being slightly loath to predict what is likely to be expected of the first quarter of 2012, let alone the entire year that lies ahead!
A year that will include a potential revision to ANC policies, in excess of 20 countries holding general elections, including the United States, and a likely crescendo of the ongoing Euro debt crisis…
Here forth we venture into the unknown.
Thanks for taking the journey with us!