WHEN US markets rip 2% up and 2% down on consecutive days, tracked 24 hours later in lockstep by minor markets such as the JSE, it can twang the nerves of all but the most confident investors.

Even if one merely keeps a hands-off eye on the day traders, via ibankcoin.com or themarketsbarandgrill.co.za, the wild swings will give you the heebie-jeebies.

Veteran players have had new holes ripped in their accounts. A guy on the wrong side of Thursday's bear spike said he lost his entire stake in crude oil futures to a margin call while he was out buying a sandwich. It has been vicious.

You have to fear for the long-only stocks crowd. Take Allan Gray, which publishes a list of its holdings every quarter. Given its extreme long-term focus, it is unlikely that things will have changed since September 30. Sasol, Standard Bank and British American Tobacco made up close to 35% of the manager's flagship equity fund before this fortnight's market tumult.

"These are not glamorous growth stocks, but steady compounders that will hopefully stand us in good stead irrespective of market conditions," said fund manager Simon Raubenheimer.

You have to fear for the long-only stocks crowd. Take Allan Gray, which publishes a list of its holdings every quarter. Given its extreme long-term focus, it is unlikely that things will have changed since September 30.

Given Allan Gray's eminence among retirement savings managers, let us hope its deep-value defensive strategy pays off. Many other fund jockeys take their cue from Allan Gray, so heaven help us all.

The same wishful thinking goes for offshore tactics. Orbis Global Equity Feeder Fund lists Samsung Electronics, NetEase, eBay and Motorola Solutions as its top holdings. No resources, no banks, no retailers. Just tech.

For the lone-wolf trader, the view is sulphurous indeed. On a technical level, Kondratieff cycles portend apocalypse, rolling averages show death crosses, and charts flash more head-and-shoulders reversal signals than anyone would care to acknowledge. Global ecopolitics is a horror show: German recession, Ukraine, Ebola, Islamic State ... pick your poison.

Which may, of course, mean we're in for the mother of all rip-roaring, long-running rallies. Nobody knows. On Friday the Dow opened 0.5% up, some kind of relief after the previous day's carnage.

Will it last? Dumb question. An internet wag this week called it a rock-paper-scissors market. Someone else said the world was in a Shemitah year, based on Leviticus. The past five economic crashes occurred in seven-year intervals. The most recent one began in 2007.

Well, cheers. At least there's beer.

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