Salt Supply Crisis leads to Market Fall

(This column was first published on Value Research India.)

Readers are requested to take this article with a pinch of salt.

However, it will be extremely difficult to spare some salt, like numerous households around our country discovered over the past few days. Salt, the salt that we use in our food, has had a dwindling supply. The supply hasn’t been able to meet the demand, with things coming to a crisis situation yesterday when every store that has ever sold salt ran out of salt to sell. Sources we can’t name have revealed that salt has become the most sought-after item in the black and grey markets, with varying degrees of white determining the rates at which it’s being sold. We talked to a few “salt experts”, who are few anyway, and they seem to suggest that this unprecedented crisis in the supply of salt can, like every other crisis, be attributed to the rain deficit and the government’s inaction towards ensuring a higher number of rainclouds.

That said, the gravest setback of the salt supply crisis was witnessed on the bourses. Our major indices witnessed their worst-ever single-day fall in history. It has been estimated that investors lost millions of crores of rupees in wealth, while speculators lost a lot more and even their family’s trust in their punting skills. Numerous reports of attempted suicides by debt-ridden traders kept trickling in throughout the evening, but thankfully, no one actually died. Our markets may have touched lows, but our population remains high.

Amidst all of this, the question on every investor’s mind was – Why has a crisis in salt supply eroded so much of my invested wealth? To be fair, this one is a fair question. Previously, the lay investor has had to wonder why crises in countries around the world affect the stock markets in his country. Most of the times, the reasons behind falls in the markets seem to elude them. The same is true this time as well. No one has a clue as to why no salt in grocery stores means a huge percentage loss in their investments.

Again, we thought about about approaching experts, this time, market experts, who are way too many, to figure out what investors should be doing now. But then, we realised we didn’t need to. We know exactly what investors should be doing – nothing. Any long-term investor worth his salt, no pun intended, would know that a single-day crisis shouldn’t change the way he invests. If anything, this could be a great buying opportunity.

Logic says that what happens to a few companies that make up an index in one single day shouldn’t make you paranoid about your investments of many years. The markets have a kneejerk reaction to many things, could even be salt, but that doesn’t mean you react in a similar fashion. It’s not worth your salt.

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