Home / Opinion / Views /  Opinion| Meet Mr Sensex, the manic depressive

Diwali, being celebrated today, is one of only two days in a year—the other being Holi—when the crew of a news daily in India does not have an edition to dispatch for overnight printing and delivery the next morning. It’s a holiday. But stock exchanges in Mumbai are open for “muhurat" trading, an hour’s session of buying and selling shares to ring in a new financial year by the traditional Vikram Samvat calendar. Traders, brokers, dealers and other market participants gather around their terminals for this auspicious activity, and do the best they can to spread their festive cheer to a certain Mr Sensex. A sensitive fellow for the most part, as one would expect of a public figure who gets characterized as “average", he bears the genes of 30 different entities that often swing in opposite directions.

Mr Sensex, as you get to know him better, is rather erratic in his behaviour. Moody to the point of being a bi-polar manic depressive in the short-term and wonderfully mature and predictable in the long run. Yes, he sometimes reacts to unconnected news with a sudden sharp drop in mood, causing investors to count their losses. Or he turns manic, flying off the handle at an election result that makes short-sellers run for cover. Those who track what’s going on in his head are often on edge themselves—ecstatic when things are good and sullen when he seems to be in a bear hug. Yet, the state of his mind can be traced more reliably to science than psychology. The 30 shares that constitute Mr Sensex’s DNA represent the most valued on bourses, and these change from time to time. Thirty years ago, they were largely of commodity businesses and firms in basic industries, but today his genetic make-up spans such diverse sectors as banking, finance, technology and retail. Mr Sensex is unsentimental about ridding himself of the old and tired, while adopting the verve and potential of the new and vibrant. Day to day, he likes to play drama queen now and then, but does return to his reasonable self while engaging serious investors, who tend to trust his outlook on the country’s economy and business prospects, thanks to the sheer breadth of financial information he is encoded to crunch and digest. Profit estimates, economic growth, inflation, tax implications, you name it, he factors it in.

Mr Sensex is amused when newbies and non-believers use his current market reading to predict his future, and say such things as, “If it is 40,000 already, wonder how much higher it will go?" This only gives him a sense of deja vu. He had heard the same thing when he was at 10,000, then 15,000, then 20,000 and then at every 5,000-point interval. “Ha," says he, “It is not my absolute value, but the potential for profit in the economy that guides my size. Keep looking at the zeros in my profile, and your money will stay at zero. But look at why I will grow, and you will get rich." So that’s Mr Sensex for you: wise from a distance, but slightly volatile close up. Which of the two you’d like to befriend is up to you. As we welcome Samvat 2076, Mint wishes everyone a prosperous year ahead. No, there will be no copy at your doorstep on Monday. But, as with Mr Sensex, you could always find us online.

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