Here’s your assigned reading for the week: Go check out Stop the financial pornography! from Nick Maggiulli. A good reminder of how manipulated we all can be by attention-getting investment and economic news that doesn’t really have any relevance. Don’t worry, it’s short.
So… what’s up this week?
Leading the news for me, outside of the China/Huawei fight that’s sucking all the air out of the world, is the big news out of India — the surprisingly strong win for PM Narendra Modi, which is a positive for investors (he was widely expected to win and remain as Prime Minister, but until results started coming in most people were predicting that he’d have to form a coalition government instead of maintaining a clear majority for the BJP party, and in that context this had the feel of a landslide). That wasn’t enough to make up for the general “the world is slowing” story that’s being written by the US/China trade war, though, so what is an investor to do?
I’ve added to Fairfax India in the past few months, mostly because their focus on banking (IIFL and Catholic Syrian Bank) and infrastructure (Bangalore airport) matches up precisely with what I’d like to be investing in in India as their banking system continues to mature and reach more people and as they invest in building the infrastructure that a growing economy needs. Should I add more? Look at other India opportunities? Worry about whether Modi’s mandate in the early days of this next term will be seen as “Hindu nationalism and saber rattling with Pakistan” or “stop campaigning and get back to economic and government reform and infrastructure building?”
As a human being, I’m worried about the rise of populism and nationalism and bellicose language from India and Pakistan, as I worry about it here in the US and in Europe and elsewhere, but as an investor I think India’s rise will have to be built on a stronger and more modern economy that lifts more of the population out of poverty, especially the rural population, and that means more industrialization and more building… China 2.0, if you want to oversimplify. And that works a lot better with one-party rule and a governing mandate.
I think that India continues to be the large country with the best growth potential (as well as the best current growth), both because of that continuing ...