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. Welfare State

    A Welfare State is a concept of government in which the state ...
  3. Alternate Beneficiary

    An alternate beneficiary is a term used for the individual who ...
  4. Investment Ideas

    Investment ideas are specific views, plans or ideas on ways to ...
  5. Cash Is King

    Cash is king is a slang phrase reflecting the belief that money ...
  6. Prime Bank

    Prime bank refers to a large, well-known bank, and is also a ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Is the Concept of 'TINA' Helping the Stock Market?

    Here's why the "TINA" (There Is No Alternative) perspective of stock market growth is overblown. There are always alternatives to stocks.
  2. Investing

    What Clients Should Understand About ETFs

    Financial Advisor Tina Powell explains how FAs can introduce their clients to ETFs.
  3. Investing

    Are Alternative Investments Worth the Risk?

    Alternative investments can lessen the impact of severe market drops.
  4. Investing

    Investment Strategy Case Study: Traditional Vs. Alternatives for 2016

    Learn more about some types of alternative investments and why you should consider adding them in your portfolio in 2016.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Insights

    What Exactly is a Socialist Economy?

    Socialism's role in the world has changed dramatically in the last several decades.
  8. 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.
  9. Financial Advisor

    Simplify Your Portfolio

    Faced with an overabundance of choices, many investors forget to stick to the basics.
  10. Insights

    The Difference Between Communism and Socialism

    Communism and socialism are economic and political structures that promote equality and seek to eliminate social classes.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between Communism and Socialism?

    Communism and socialism are umbrella terms referring to left-wing schools of economic thought that oppose capitalism. Read Answer >>
Trading Center