2008 was the pits for equities

Last year was one of the worst calendar years ever for equities domestically and globally.

Last year was one of the worst calendar years ever for equities domestically and globally.

For most South Africans 2008 was very difficult as the global economy came to grips with the world's worst financial crunch.

The excesses in credit markets had given rise to excesses in asset prices.

Who could have predicted just how abrupt and brutal the global slowdown that originated in the credit markets was going to be?

As financial markets faced turmoil, the collapse in share prices was staggering.

The local All Share lost in excess of 40 percent in five short months between May and October 2008.

Many stock markets around the world found themselves more than 50 percent off their peaks.

Worse was the Russians, whose index lost no less than 78 percent between May and October.

Shaun le Roux and the team at Alphen Asset Management believe that 2008 was the second worst year we have seen as the ALSI shed 23 percent.

"It is worth pointing out that in local currency terms the JSE was actually one of the better performing global stock markets last year," says the Alphen team.

The total return on the JSE in US dollars was somewhat less flattering - 45 percent down.

"The last time we had a calendar year that was more than minus 20 (1970), we subsequently experienced good to very good returns for the succeeding few years," the Alphen team explains.

Marize Pieters of Glacier Research says: "There is indeed a lot of risk during times like these, but one should neve forget that significant investment opportunities are starting to emerge in the markets."

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