Opinion, Geoff Wilson AO and Caroline Gurney
The escalating conflict in the Middle East, amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine and ongoing fears over China’s intentions, has put another nail in the coffin of the optimistic era of the post-Cold War “peace dividend”.
Western defence spending is now firmly back on the agenda, and security concerns and statecraft are imperilling the period of economic globalisation, expanding free markets and liberal democracy.
This reprioritisation of government spending could hurt Western living standards, including Australia’s. The absence of the peace dividend could hit the funding of education, health, lower taxes, the transition to a greener economy, housing and so on, as pressing needs other than defence are pushed to the side.
It will also hit our most needy and vulnerable the hardest.
In the eight years since Future Generation was founded, we have donated nearly $80 million to Australian charitable causes, simply by leveraging the power and generosity of the financial sector.
In philanthropic terms, that is serious money, raised astonishingly quickly. Yet, it is only the tip of the iceberg of what we could achieve.
Were the Australian government to attach incentives to models such as Future Generation, making them even more attractive to investors, that $80 million could one day have a zero (or zeros) behind it.
The international precedents are there. Individual savings accounts (ISAs) in Britain and Roth accounts in the United States have had notable success in using tax incentives to encourage people to save.
If similar incentives were applied to models such as Future Generation, the government could achieve twin objectives: increasing giving to our most at risk, while also encouraging savings for future needs, whether that is retirement, education or unforeseen expenses.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it is to be prepared for the unforeseen and unexpected. This is not good for markets. There’s an old saying on Wall Street that bad certainty is better than uncertainty.
What is certain is that corporates have already started to lose their own version of the peace dividend – that is the buffer that good times bring. In the midst of the AGM season, it is clear that investors have lost their tolerance for mediocrity.
There is no doubt that people are fearful, but we’re not yet ready to call the bottom of the market.
At Wilson Asset Management, we know that backing quality management teams that consistently deliver, as well as finding companies that can grow in all economic conditions, is now more important than ever.
We are sure the leading fund managers speaking at our Future Generation Summit – including small-cap legend David Paradice and global gurus Jacob Mitchell and Nikki Thomas, to name but a few – will offer different insights into how they are navigating these most uncertain of times.
The Future Generation Summit is held in conjunction with this publication.
Readers can register for the Summit at https://events.humanitix.com/future-generation-exchange-2023
Geoff Wilson is founder and director of Future Generation, and Chair and Chief Investment Officer of Wilson Asset Management. Caroline Gurney is Chief Executive of Future Generation.
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