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Tested investment tools let down investors in '08

By Shilpi Pandey and Barun Jha in New Delhi
December 31, 2008 15:48 IST
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While the adage that money does not grow on trees holds true, it did not grow almost anywhere else in 2008 -- be it stocks, real estate, forex, crude oil or in the safety of the almirah lockers.

Interestingly, most of these avenues have been tried and tested places for manifold growth of cash over the years.

It was only gold, one of the oldest investment forms, that provided some solace to investors and somehow stood by its record of being a safe place to put hard cash in -- although the gain of about 25 per cent was nothing compared to what it returned in the previous years.

The precious metal's cheaper cousin silver, however, completely lost out with a fall of over 10 per cent.

This time around, however, the money that went into stocks lost more than half of its value on an average -- in comparison to a gain of 25-50 per cent over past few years.

Those who went for real estate also lost between 20-50 per cent and investors lured by the prospects of crude oil hitting $150-200 a barrel level also ended up losing over 60 per cent of their investment.

After starting the year at about $100, it came down crashing to below $40 and pundits, who had predicted a surge to up to $200, are now anticipating a level of $25-30.

The biggest loss probably was noticed in the stock market, which had emerged as a place for fastest growth in money over the past few years.

Here, investors collectively lost more than Rs 40,00,000 crore (Rs 40,000 billion) in India, which is more than half of their total wealth at the beginning of the year.

The market benchmark Sensex scaled an all-time peak of over 21,000 points on January 10, and attracted millions of new investors to the bourses.

However, it came crashing down to below 9,000 points in October, before recovering partly.

Ironically, the money that was left untouched in the coffers, also lost value -- thanks to inflation that still remains at a high level near six per cent despite falling by nearly half from the 13-year high about four months ago.

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Shilpi Pandey and Barun Jha in New Delhi
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