City Watch: Brian Tora on how the markets have retained their poise despite a number of risks

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co - Credit: Archant

Markets have retained their more positive stance, despite little sign of any resolution in any of the world’s trouble spots.

The FTSE 100 share index remains tantalisingly close to its all time high of 14 years ago, while sterling has also taken on a new lease of life, helped by continuing positive economic straws in the wind.

Not all in the garden is rosy. Fears abound of a property bubble deflating to leave a new generation of negative equity home owners, though it is hard to see the surge in house prices as anything other than a London-centric phenomenon.

True, other regions, including our own, have experienced a knock-on effect as people cash in on overpriced London homes to move to other areas. But a shortage of new homes still exists, so if the effect of rising prices encourages new building, then some benefit should be gained.

Government is trying to address the problem created by a collapse in house building that followed on from the financial crash. And new rules governing how mortgages are advanced should prevent the worst excesses of previous bubbles being repeated. We appear to be learning to live with a more stable, low growth, low interest rate environment that could remain the legacy of the unwinding of the over lending that characterised much of the early 2000s.

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At the very least it appears to have made governments grasp the nettle of the demographic time bomb that exists in the developed world, where a falling birth rate and aging populations could undermine society.

On some measures, China appears to be overtaking the US as the world’s largest economy. I was always told to distrust anyone in the investment world who said this time is different, but the future looks increasingly unpredictable to me.

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