DUBAI (Reuters) - Political risk in the Middle East has increased significantly with war between Iran and Israel almost inevitable, and precious metals and equities investments offer some safety, Swiss money manager and long-term bear Marc Faber said on Tuesday.
“Political risk was high six months ago and is higher now. I think sooner or later, the U.S. or Israel will strike Iran - it’s almost inevitable,” Faber, who publishes the widely read Gloom Boom and Doom Report, told Reuters on the sidelines of an investment conference.
Brent crude traded near $123 per barrel in volatile trade on Tuesday on fears of a disruption in Iranian supplies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed no signs of backing away from possible military action against Iran following a Monday meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“Say war breaks out in the Middle East or anywhere else, (U.S. Federal Reserve chairman) Mr Bernanke will just print even more money — they have no option...they haven’t got the money to finance a war,” said Faber.
“You have to be in precious metals and equities... most wars and most social unrest haven’t destroyed corporations - they usually survive,” he said.
He said that Middle East markets had largely bottomed out, though regime changes from the Arab Spring revolutions were unlikely to be investor-friendly.
Faber said that in uncertain times, investors had to reconcile themselves to volatility.
“If you can’t live with volatility, stay in bed,” he said, pointing out that even cash.
The 66 year-old, who has earned the moniker “Dr Doom”, earlier told the conference that the likelihood of war in the Middle East was boosted by Western powers’ imperatives of keeping China in check, given its dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
“The Americans and the western powers know very well they cannot contain China economically.... but one way to contain China is to switch on and switch off the oil tap from the Middle East,” he said.
“I happen to think the Middle East will go up in flames,” he said.
Editing by Reed Stevenson