I do, of course, try to explain that the comparison with an accumulator on a day’s racing at Cheltenham isn’t very accurate at all (the additional irony being that while only a third of Brits own stocks and shares, a higher proportion are more than happy to flutter a few hundred quid on a horse they know nothing about). But explaining that, unlike a bookmaker, markets are a crucial form of financing for thousands of businesses (many of which may not be here had they not been able to raise money last year), and therefore a source of job creation and economic growth, and that participation in that growth is the only way for many to enjoy a less frugal retirement, often seems to fall on deaf ears. And unlike a betting market, the stock market is not a zero-sum game – no one else has to lose for you to win if the companies you back grow.
My suspicion is that such a view has emerged because most people do not hear very much about the stock markets at all, beyond what is reported by the mainstream media. And that of course means that rather than hearing about the long, slow and arguably rather boring accumulation of wealth over decades, they only hear the stories at the extremes of the market – record highs, record falls, corruption and scandal, how rich Elon Musk is, and other assorted tittle-tattle that isn’t helpful to investors at all. Based on that picture alone – all of which could be easily applied to Tesla’s recent history – markets would indeed seem like a wild west best avoided.