Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2011 - Images from Crystal ball!

Welcome to the new year! I wish the new year comes with merry news and prosperity more than your expectations. Let us look at what we should expect in 2011. I will not bore you with ideas like fall of Europe, growth in US etc. Commentators and analysts have already tackled those. I would like to leave you with some other ideas related to the markets.

First, the very short term - we are likely to have at least 2 mini cycles in 2011. By that I mean that, most likely, we will have two bottoms and three tops during 2011. Depending on how you look at the cycles, we had 2 or 3 of them last year. Consequent to the cyclicality, portfolios will have to churn thus leading to healthy performance of the brokerages and investment banks. I would expect asset managers to have a decent year again.

Second, we will see return of genuine Keynesians. By genuine Keynesians I mean focus on jobs rather than income, focus on employment certainty rather than uncertain stimuli, focus on sustainability rather than pump-priming. Like churchill said, we will eventually do the right thing after we exhausted all other options. It means a further crisis in housing markets may be addressed differently than previous ones.

Third, we will start discussing infrastructure in developed world. In India, 2011 promises to be year of infrastructure. After lackluster performance in 2010 and surge in demand, I expect Indian infrastructure  companies to be back with a bang. But more important is discussion about infrastructure will happen in the west. In these discussions we will find the seeds of future infrastructure companies and ideas. New cities in context of internet and social connectivity, infrastructure of future in terms of public transportation, lower energy consumption and good old core infrastructure like power, water etc should emerge by end of 2011.

Finally, this year may, in all probability, mark the beginning of the age of the Miser. Depending on how you look at it, we are close to the end or already past the age of consumption. The age of saving and hoarding money is upon us. The age of consumption lasted more than 30 years. So like many investment managers, I have not seen the era where people were scrambling to hoard money. This period is likely to throw up many different surprises for us.
  1. Return of the garage: Over the 60s to 80s People spent innumerable man-hours in their garage fixing things extending the usable life of the product. The 80s and 90s changed the products in the garage but the spirit remained. If 60s was about cars, farm and household machines, office appliances then 80s was about computers and cell phones and microprocessors. The importance of the garage has gradually diminished from 60s to 00s. This may change over the next 20 years. I expect the usable life of products will be enhanced.
  2. The return of services: The revenue models of many firms depends on the use-and-throw model. The service aspect of the product is reduced to minimum. If we see a return of the service model, we may see rework of business models. It means more consulting and organizational restructuring.