Scam

Still smarting from his failure to beat Henderson to its latest acquisition, the chairman has mobilised his menagerie - for once not including the meerkats - in a flurry of plans for 2011.

”Are we still running a week behind the rest of the world?” asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a couple of pints of All Of 28 Minutes’ Notice at The Warning Of A 7.30am Media Briefing On Henderson’s Latest Acquisition Always Assuming I Was Even Awake Which I Wasn’t.

“I’m afraid so,” I apologised. “Although I should imagine we will have caught up by next time.” “So, having chatted about Christmas press releases in early January, does that mean today we will be talking about New Year’s predictions?” the chairman guessed. “Spot on,” I nodded. “Although first I should probably offer my commiserations.”

”Coins are being tossed, babies are being dangled over copies of the FT to see where they dribble …”

“About what?” asked the chairman. “Not succeeding in your ambitions to buy Grotmare,” I said. “Oh … that,” winced the chairman. “Was it a close-run thing then?” I persisted. “Very,” sighed the chairman. “The only stumbling blocks were the price and the fact none of their fund managers wanted to join Scam.

“Oh – and our not being able to find a lawyer clever enough to draft an appropriate clause about future redemptions, present overly zealous compliance regimes, past fund managers not twigging said regimes applied to them and all the other sticks with which the financial press have been beating Grotmare around the head and shoulders since pretty much the day it floated.

“Put it this way, whoever Henderson found to draft the relevant guarantees and undertakings must have been the legal equivalent of Stephen Hawking.” “Speaking of 24-carat geniuses,” I started, spotting my chance of a seamless segue, “what sort of areas have the Scam fund managers tipped as the places to be – and indeed the ones not to be touched with somebody else’s bargepole – over the course of 2011?” (Scam continues below)

“As you might imagine, there has been a flurry of activity recently as we fine-tune all our investment plans for the year ahead,” the chairman replied. “Coins are being tossed, babies are being dangled over copies of the FT to see where they dribble and you can hardly move for fear of being hit by darts. All of our fund menagerie are doing their things too – the chimps, the parrots … even the Yucca plants.”

“And the meerkats?” I asked. The chairman sighed.”They are badgering their agents to get them an audition for the ­latest Moneyseemples ad. Still, they’ll be back on the case soon and it’s not as if we need to keep much of an eye on emerging markets this year. But it’s all been a bit fraught so we have had to take a new approach to predictions this time.”

“Oh yes?” I said, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t know why you would want to take that sort of tone,” sniffed the chairman. “Our new method seems wholly logical to me. What we did was ask our new work experience boy, young Bridgey, to collate all the predictions that have appeared over the last few weeks in the national, consumer and trade press – and I don’t mind saying he did a terrific job.

“If I’m honest, I was surprised there were quite so many – I’m not sure, for example, that the Sunday Times excluded a single asset class in the end – but, since you ask, this year we recommend investing in US mid caps, technology, Australian government bonds, emerging market equities, high yield bonds, UK value, selected parts of the eurozone, copper, US Treasuries and generally things that will go up.”

“Is that all?” I asked. “Not even close,” said the chairman. “We also recommend investing in US large caps, emerging market debt, gold, China, Bournemouth, UK growth, mime, oil and gas, smiles, UK growth, swingbins, the letter D, the number six, Japan, Andrew Strauss, roller disco, abstract nouns, mining stocks, men who aren’t afraid to cry, infrastructure and toast. And US small caps.”

“Um … OK,” I said. “So what exactly are you avoiding then?” “Pretty much the same list, different order,” the chairman shrugged. “Plus generally things that will go down – and definitely gilts. And we’re not totally convinced royal wedding Rubik’s cubes will sell quite as well as when Charles and Diana got married.”