D.If I am not a speculator, this corona crisis has once again impressively demonstrated to me. If we’re suffering from this goddamn pandemic, I thought, ways to compensate for it could be found in the stock market to at least profit financially from it. But I was no different from the EU, which in the summer was faced with the question of which pharmaceutical company would come onto the market first with a vaccine. Only clairvoyants could have known that Biontech would win the race. And when you knew it, it was too late to invest because the prices had long since gone through the roof.
What didn’t cross my mind was an old speculator saying from the days of the American gold rush. Instead of investing in gold mines, it is advisable to buy shares in the shovel or sieve manufacturers. Because every gold prospector needs a shovel and sieve, regardless of whether he finds what he is looking for in the end or not. Who actually makes the jars into which the vaccination doses are now filled? Where do the billions of syringes come from? And who makes the cooling units that keep the Biontech vaccine ice-cold at minus 70 degrees? These are the shovel manufacturers of the corona pandemic.
Well, the shovel idea didn’t occur to me either. Or rather, it only came to me after reading an article in the F.A.Z.financial section about it. And then it was again too late and the Gerresheimer share (glass vial) was much too expensive. Note: Those who come too late are no good speculators.
My only consolation: I’m in the best of company. “We can always use money,” an acquaintance wrote to me these days. But money literacy – especially “financial literacy” – is still not the best in our enlightened times. I would like to bet how many W3 professors in German universities know what an ETF is. Not very many, I suppose. The “Big Three” questions have been well researched empirically: For example, one should say whether 100 euros at an interest rate of 2 percent will have become exactly 102 euros or more or less than 102 euros in five years. Only every second German answers this question correctly. Small consolation: in Italy only one in four knows the answer.
There is much to suggest that financial skills, similar to playing piano or football, are acquired at an early age. In our home, as in many families, the principle was that one should not talk about money. My father never gave away what he earned. I just saw that it was always close.
Patrick Jenkins, deputy editor-in-chief of the British business newspaper “Financial Times”, tells a beautiful story. Growing up in the south of Wales as the child of a music teacher and a psychologist, the chances were pretty slim that he would one day become a financial expert. But on his sixteenth birthday Patrick received a present from his father: British Telecom shares valued at one hundred pounds sterling, issued on the occasion of the wave of privatizations in the Thatcher years. The result: Patrick Jenkins carefully studied the course pages of the “Daily Telegraph” every day and was happy about every pound that his small depository increased in value. And, what was worth even more, from then on he knew. That, as he sees it himself, was the prerequisite for his being at the top of one of the most important financial newspapers in the world today.