What is 'TINA: There Is No Alternative'?

"There is no alternative," often abbreviated to "TINA," is a phrase that originated with the Victorian philosopher Herbert Spencer and became a slogan of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Today, it is often used by investors to explain a less-than-ideal portfolio allocation, usually of stocks, because other asset classes offer even worse returns. This situation, and the subsequent decisions of investors, can lead to the "Tina Effect" whereby stocks rise only because investors have no viable alternative.

BREAKING DOWN 'TINA: There Is No Alternative'

Herbert Spencer, who lived from 1820 to 1903, was a British intellectual who strongly defended classical liberalism. He believed in laissez-faire government and positivism – the ability of technological and social progress to solve society's problems – and considered that Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" should apply to human interactions. To critics of capitalism, free markets and democracy, he frequently responded, "There is no alternative."

The Tina Effect in Politics

Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative, served as Britain's prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She used the phrase in a similar way to Spencer when responding to critics of her market-oriented policies of deregulation, political centralization, spending cuts and a rollback of the welfare state. Alternatives to this approach abounded, from the policies advocated by Labour to those in place in the Soviet Union. To Thatcher, however, free-market neoliberalism had no alternative.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama argued that this view had been permanently vindicated. With communism discredited, he wrote that no ideology could ever seriously compete with capitalism and democracy again: the "end of history" that Marx promised had arrived, albeit in a different form.

The Tina Effect on Investments

A different use of The Tina Effect has been seen among investors in recent years, and the phrase now refers to a lack of satisfactory alternatives to an investment that is seen as questionable. For example, late in a bull market, investors might be concerned with the possibility of a reversal and be unwilling to allocate much of their portfolios to stocks.

On the other hand, if bonds offer low yields. and illiquid assets such as private equity or real estate are also unattractive, investors may hold stocks despite their concerns rather than revert to cash. If enough participants are of the same mind, the market can experience a "Tina Effect," rising gradually despite an apparent lack of drivers since there are no other options for capital increase.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Communism

    Communism is an ideology that advocates a classless system in ...
  2. Alternative Energy ETF

    An exchange-traded fund that invests in companies engaged in ...
  3. Asset Class

    A group of securities that exhibit similar characteristics, behave ...
  4. Portfolio

    A portfolio is a grouping of financial assets such as stocks, ...
  5. Market Is Up

    The phrase "market it up" means the stock, bond, or commodity ...
  6. Liquid Alternatives

    Liquid alternatives are a class of mutual funds that use alternative ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Alternative Assets For Average Investors

    These investments can add a new level of diversification to your portfolio.
  2. Investing

    Will China Suffer a Fate Similar to That of the Soviet Union?

    Many parallels could be drawn between the former USSR and today's China, but the one similarity the CCP wants to avoid is the Soviet Union's collapse.
  3. Financial Advisor

    Hedge Funds and Alternative Funds Are Not Evil, Here's Why

    While disclosures and investor education need improvement, alternatives provide a valuable way to increase yield and hedge against declines.
  4. Financial Advisor

    Investors Lack Alternative Investing Knowledge

    A recent survey shows that investors lack knowledge of alternative investments. Here is what advisors can do to combat this.
  5. Financial Advisor

    Diversify with These Four Alternative Assets

    In times of market volatility, investors add alternative assets to their portfolios--highly illiquid, but profitable investments like art, land or precious metals.
  6. Insights

    The Difference Between Communism and Socialism

    Communism and socialism are economic and political structures that promote equality and seek to eliminate social classes.
  7. Insights

    Political Ideologies And Stocks

    Learn how different political systems affect emerging market stocks.
  8. Investing

    Why These 4 Tech Stocks May Beat Apple, Facebook

    A leading tech investor sees these stocks outpacing the FAANG stocks.
  9. Investing

    Diversifying Your Portfolio With Real Estate And Infrastructure

    Real estate and infrastructure are important sectors for risk-averse investors.
  10. Financial Advisor

    2015's Best Alternative ETFs: Should You Invest?

    These three alternative ETFs were top performers in 2015, but does that make them a good bet for 2016?
RELATED FAQS
  1. Where did the phrase "pork barrel" come from?

    Learn what the phrase "pork barrel" means and the time period it originated from. Discover how it has become associated with ... Read Answer >>
  2. What role does the government play in capitalism?

    Take a deeper look at the role of government in a capitalist economic system and about competing ideas about the proper amount ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center