Money Talks: Gilts are complex but bear with me

Stop hedging around, take the bull by the horns and follow Simon Round’s high-interest account


By Simon Round, December 13, 2010
Follow Simon on Twitter

In these days of financial uncertainty, there has never been a better time to be well-informed about money.

However, there has always been a mystique surrounding the world of banks and making the correct decisions about where to invest can be confusing to say the least. But once you strip away the fancy language and the obscure jargon, you will find it is all quite straightforward. Therefore I have decided to provide readers with a cut-out-and-keep guide to understanding financial terminology. I strongly advise you to memorise the information and use it when you next meet your bank manager.

Hedge funds

These were widely thought to have been central to the financial crisis. Put simply, hedges were riding high in the markets until 2008, possibly because the super-rich preferred the natural look to stone walls or fences. However in the past two years, the bottom has fallen out of the topiary, as bankrupt businesspeople look to make cuts where they can.

Bull market

The bull market is a thing of the past, possibly due to the BSE scare and advice to reduce the amount of red meat we eat. The smart money is going into chicken breasts right now.

Shorts selling

Another big issue a couple of years ago, when bankers were accused of causing instability by selling shorts. For the layman it is hard to understand why purveying short, rather than long trousers would have a catastrophic effect on the markets, but the comforting news is that as we go into winter, leggings are up and shorts are down. Expect a run on culottes.

Stocks

Now might be the time to invest in stocks, as many return to home cooking in these financially-straitened times. However, do exercise caution - when the market overheats, stocks can reduce rapidly, leaving investors with lots of congealed gravy to clear up.

Interest rates

Interest rates in the financial markets were very high two years ago but are now much lower, probably in part due to the fact that many people have been distracted by the announcement of the royal wedding.

Bear market

There is a strong bear market at the moment, maybe because bears are an endangered species, though why anyone would want a bear beats me - they hibernate for half the year and when they wake up, they eat all your salmon. However, once a trend starts in the markets, it can be hard to stop.

Futures trading

Many smart investors have been putting their money into futures, possibly because the present is so grim. The problem with the futures market is that values are notoriously unstable - partly due to the fact that the future hasn't happened yet. The past market is much more predictable, but if you haven't invested in the past by now, you have probably missed the best opportunities.

Gilt market

Historically, Jews have been heavily into gilt. The best way to avoid it is to put more of your money into Fairtrade ventures.

Spreads

This form of trading is thought to be complex, but in my view it is easily understood. Currently, Marmite is pretty strong, but many investors are now choosing to put their money into conserves, hoping for jam tomorrow. Naturally enough, the centre of the spreads market is currently Philadelphia.

Gross domestic product

You might think that you will impress your friends with a 50in wall-mounted plasma screen and gold-plated taps in the bathroom, but, in truth, these are worth avoiding

Quantitive easing

When you attempt to tighten your belt, things can begin to contract rapidly. A certain amount of quantitive easing, therefore can - well - ease quantities quite effectively. (On second thoughts, perhaps it would be better to Google this one).

    Last updated: 11:53am, December 13 2010