venerdì 27 maggio 2011

La fede nelle bolle e i suoi rituali

Dall'Economist appena uscito:

Yandex, described as "Russia's Google", made its stockmarket debut on NASDAQ, the latest in a string of big initial public offerings in America by domestic and foreign internet companies. On May 19th LinkedIn, a networking site for professionals, saw its share price soar by 109% on its market entry. But with the shares of some recently floated tech companies, such as Renren, a Chinese firm, now trading for less than their issue prices, analysts have warned that the evidence is mounting of another tech bubble.

Al rapporto tra speranze (così rosee che solo la fede può sostenerle) e valutazione è dedicata la colonna settimanale di Buttonwood  che si era occupato della quotazione di Linkedin anche in una nota sul blog qualche giorno fa giustamente intitolata Rational man?LinkedIn and the end of the world. Secondo Buttonwood è possibile tracciare un parallelo tra le quotazioni stratosferiche dei social network e delle IPOs legate al web 2.0, le bolle nei mercati obbligazionari del debito sovrano e più in generale l'eccesso di irrazionalità che domina così tante espressioni della finanza contemporanea.

When it comes to assessing the prospects of a company like LinkedIn, a newly floated online business-networking firm, investors rely entirely on the assumption that the company’s future growth can justify the stratospheric level of its current valuation.(...). Buying shares in such a company is a leap of faith by any standard.

During the lead-up to the establishment of the European single currency, investors bought the bonds of weaker governments on the ground that all would converge on the high standing of Germany. They had faith that countries like Greece and Portugal would use the breathing space of lower interest rates to usher in economic reform. That belief proved sadly misplaced.
Finance even has its own high priests in the form of the analysts and fund managers who promise their clients heavenly rewards if only they listen to their advice. They preach regular sermons in the form of brokers’ notes and quarterly reports, and they house themselves in vast cathedral-like buildings that dominate the skyline. Each day also has its canonical hours as traders pray for profitable opportunities at the European, American and Asian market openings. Finance has its annual calendar, too, marked with festivals known as results seasons in which the lucky participants receive their temporal (rather than spiritual) dividends.
And like any self-respecting religion, finance has its doctrinal schisms as well. Active fund managers are a bit like the medieval Catholic church, offering eternal salvation to those willing to pay the appropriate sum, which are known in modern parlance as performance fees rather than indulgences.(...)  The passive fund managers, or index-trackers, are akin to early Lutherans. (...)
Finance also has its equivalent of holy men, the gurus who pronounce on the market outlook. Not for nothing is Warren Buffett known as the “sage of Omaha”. The faithful conduct an annual pilgrimage to Nebraska every year to attend the annual meeting of his company, Berkshire Hathaway. (...) Those made of sterner stuff prefer the more puritanical oratory of Nouriel Roubini, forever preaching hellfire and damnation for those (particularly the Federal Reserve) who fail to repent.
Finance seems to be a polytheistic rather than a monotheistic faith. The objects of veneration change on a regular basis from emerging markets through internet companies to commodities.(...)
Even when these cults prove to be built on sand, investors show a remarkable willingness to forget their disappointment and move on.

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