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Unknown quantity

Patrick Connolly ponders the investment landscape and finds that in 2012 the only real certainty will be uncertainty

15 February 2012

A year ago the general consensus was that gilts were overpriced, yet during 2011 UK gilts and UK index-linked gilts were by far the best performing investment sectors. In contrast, it was thought by many that equities were relatively cheap, but over the course of the year stock markets have fallen further.

Crystal ball

We have seen time and again that predicting what will happen in the future is almost impossible. To use the words of renowned economist JK Galbraith: “There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don’t know and those who don’t know they don’t know.”

What we can say is that defensive assets have performed well in 2011 as investors have shied away from taking risk, and so, unsurprisingly, riskier assets such as equities have performed badly. The end result is that gilts and good-quality fixed-interest is more expensive in 20...

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