Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘The only way to go is up’


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WITH MOODY’S triple notch downgrade of Barbados’ credit rating being the worst that could happen, from here on the island’s fortunes will only be on the rise.
Those encouraging prospects were held out by John Stoltzfus, managing director and chief marketing strategist of  New York-based Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc., on Wednesday night as he responded to an audience question after delivering the National Insurance Scheme’s (NIS) 47th anniversary public lecture at the Frank Collymore Hall. The lecture was entitled: The Global Economic and Investment Outlook: New Frontiers in Investment Strategies.
Stoltzfus said he was not “intricately aware” of the details of the Moody’s credit report but considered that the current trend was that the world was moving towards the end of the economic crisis and Barbados’ prospects were looking good.
“Barbados,” he said, “will have a marvellous time in terms of an audience for its debt.”
He stressed, however, that he was not an expert on the Barbados economy but knew from his experience that “usually a triple downgrade like that, that’s usually the worst that is going to happen. From there, it’s up.”
“For example, when was the best time to buy the S&P 500 in the last ten years? It was on March 9, 2009, when the market hit its bottom, which took the S&P from its high on October 12, 2007. It fell about 60-odd per cent. That looked like that was it. People were saying: stocks? I don’t want stocks.
“This is humanity. The wonderful thing is governments are comprised of people. It’s time to address the issues and move ahead.
“In terms of the world economy, I think it looks good for Barbados. I don’t know what your Government is going to have to do or how your Central Bank will address the issue, but the one thing that I have a very good feeling about is that they will address it and in a marketplace where there is more experience dealing with this particular juncture, where spending has to be addressed, issues of future growth – where is it going to come from, how are we going to find it.”
Stoltzfus felt that for the longer term trend, Barbados could look to the leisure industry as there was a group of more than 70 million Baby Boomers in the United States, a similar parallel group in Europe, in Britain, and in Japan that were going to be younger for longer and that meant looking for leisure.
“This [Barbados] is a place that offers significant opportunities for leisure,” Stoltzfus said. “I expect that the tourism business will come back as the rest of the world starts moving out of the recession led by the United States.”
“In the US, we are beyond the recession, beyond even the recovery, I think, and now the beginning of a more normal economic expansion, albeit not at the same pace of the economic expansions we’ve had in the last 20 years because it’s challenged by robotics on the factory floor and algorithms in the office space [that] make it more difficult to see wages rising.
“What gets people spending are wages rising, but at the same time, people are getting to feel more secure about the job and as they get more secure, then they tend to want to travel.” (AB)


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