Cashed up and waiting for an opportunity

Abnormal times call for unusual caution on the ASX

Opinion
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The Reserve Bank is holding interest rates at record low levels to stimulate the economy, but businesses are not going to borrow to expand when demand is falling through the floor.

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Australia's Reserve Bank is pumping money into the "economy", spending some $50 billion in March and early April to buy government bonds.

Australia's Reserve Bank is pumping money into the "economy", spending some $50 billion in March and early April to buy government bonds.

The Punter is sitting on his hands. Stirring the teabag just isn't giving him any clear guidance, and staring at sheep and chicken livers doesn't appeal, although the ancient Romans set considerable store by it.

He is sitting on a sizeable pile of readies - more than half his portfolio is cash - but this week he just can't bring himself to invest any of it.

Normally that would be overly cautious, but these are not normal times.

The Reserve Bank is holding interest rates at record low levels to stimulate the economy, but businesses are not going to borrow to expand when demand is falling through the floor.

The reserve is also pumping money into the "economy", $50 billion in March and early April to buy government bonds.

But the money goes only to banks, pension funds, investment funds and individuals rich enough to own government bonds.

They tend not to spend the money but reinvest it in other assets such as shares, corporate bonds and gold.

Perhaps it is no surprise the stock market stopped falling on March 27 and was up a whopping 37 per cent by June 10.

The ASX index of gold shares soared 80pc between March 16 and July 27 - ironically, the day treasurer Josh Frydenberg predicted unemployment would surpass 9pc by Christmas.

It looks like the classic inflation scenario of too much money chasing too few goods - in this case the limited number of shares and other financial assets.

Who would want to be a government minister?

The cabinet was quick to dump hardline ideology at the start of the crisis but is clearly torn between stimulation measures and restraining debt.

Retreating from a full snap-back in September, it is cutting back on Jobkeeper and Jobseeker, and keeping its options open to reduce them more in the new year.

The Punter is glad he has some cash to sit on.

  • The Punter has no financial qualifications nor links to the financial services industry. He owns shares in a number of companies featured in this column.

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