This is what we're up against:
Ruffer Tips 50% Upside in Japan within three years
Experts warn Japanese revival is doomed
These articles appeared on Trustnet within a few days of each other recently and, to my mind, this demonstrates the main reason why the majority of people in the UK still feel that investing is not for them and instead scratch about looking for an extra 0.01% in savings accounts.
Not only are most of us not experts in financial matters it seems that even if we were to become so and join the people who are "in the know", it wouldn't protect our cash because even "experts" cannot agree as to what best to do with it. When your savings are important to you and you can't afford to lose them, having confidence about what you do with them is essential. The bottom line is that the investment universe, and all who live in it, do not inspire confidence. There is so much "talk" that we can't keep up with it all, there is too much "buy this or lose out", quickly followed by "buy this and lose out". In a way the only rational thing to do is keep well away.
I don't mean to say that we don't have faith in the big picture, I think that the majority of people believe that the markets can be relied upon to self-regulate, bounce up and then drop down again but ultimately recover. It is more that there is a bewildering gap between what looks to most of us as if it should be a science (graphs, statistics, pye charts ad nauseum) and the apparent behaviour of those who deal in it and seem to be ruled by rumour, incantation and superstition (how can we call it anything else when there is rarely any consensus and the "experts" cannot produce any reliable results based on any proven methodology). There is no firm ground. "Information" and advice cannot be trusted.
In these days when being able to rely on our own abilities to look after our money is becoming even more important it is a scandal that the financial press seems so often to delight in what is, in effect, a tabloid-esque treatment of its subject.
Personally I am currently reading a lot of this stuff because I am trying to learn (and as a whole it is useful in order to get a grip on the basics) but more than 90% of the little I do know has not come from all the journalistic "noise" but from reliable sources such as Monevator and individuals on the moneysavingexpert forums. Maybe it's just the nature of the beast but it does make me more than a little cross that the world of personal investing acts as if it deserves to call itself a science when it seems to be sadly lacking in solid technique.
(btw I put £300 in Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon this week but only because I hadn't got any Japan - otherwise the net result of reading both articles would probably have been inertia ).