Bring me sunshine

dresdenI write to you this week from Dresden, a city where the tides of history do veritably converge. From my hotel window I can see the placards commemorating the anti-government demonstrations that took place here in 1989, the slab-like hotels and apartment buildings constructed by the East German regime in the 1960s and, beyond them, the spires and domes of the reconstructed old town, flattened by allied bombers in 1945.

The local newspaper here, Sächsische Zeitung, was last night looking even further back in history. ‘Let’s hear it for Greece’ ran the headline to an article announcing that, saddened by Greece’s current difficulties and the opprobrium being heaped upon the Hellenic republic, SZ plans to make the troubled, sun-soaked nation its country of the year. We shouldn’t forget all the good things Greece has given us, said SZ: democracy, philosophy, the Olympic Games, Nana Mouskouri.

Indeed no. I’m sure we all remember The White Rose of Athens with great affection – or at least those of us who are old enough to have experienced Ms Mouskouri’s polyglot output do.

However, it’s hard not to reflect that, Nana Mouskouri aside, Greece’s gifts to the world all took place some millennia ago. Its current position is far from heroic – and it is not alone. As Fortis Investments’ Willem de Wildjer’s pointed out in his blog last week, Greece may be the first country to be hit, but there will be others.

A solution will be found, says de Wildjer, because a solution has to be found. The EU is like the Hotel California of the Eagles’ eponymous 1970s hit: you can check out, but you can never leave. The solution will, of course, involve that thing with which the ancient Greeks were very familiar, but which we are no longer used to: pain. Or as de Wildjer puts it: stick, as in carrot and stick – the same carrot and stick that got everyone in line for monetary union after the Maastricht Treaty was signed.

But despair not. Despite all this economic doom and gloom – which, as de Wildjer notes, at least has the advantage of helping to convince people that economics is not boring – and despite the fact that it is raining in Dresden, I am able to bring you some bonus sunshine this Monday morning. It comes in the form of the latest international fund management statistics from Strategic Insight.

According to Strategic Insight, these show that “largely untarnished by the global credit crisis”, the worldwide investment fund industry attracted net inflows of $4.2 trillion in the second half of the decade. “The data and our primary research with distributors points to a historical turning point for the global fund industry, due to a number of secular trends outlined in detail in the SI study”, says Daniel Enskat, head of global consulting at Strategic Insight.

I won’t spoil it by telling you what those secular trends are. For more information, visit http://www.strategicinsightglobal.com/.

Fiona Rintoul, Editorial Director
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