ICBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has announced profit after tax for the 2008 year of RMB 111bn, up 35.2% year-on-year. Over the past six years, the compound annual taxed profits growth rate has been 37.5%. ICBC is the world's most valuable bank, with a market value of $147b (though closely trailed by China Construction Bank), and the world's most profitable bank.Citigroup, once the self-declared bank champion of the world, is worth a paltry $16bn, but has risen from a trough (to date) value of $5bn. While headlines for months have screamed about a global depression of a kind not seen for decades, the investing world is roaring with opportunities. Anyone who takes the time to check out the global crisis will find it to be not much more than an aberration of hellfroth spewed by a bunch of twisted investment bankers, mainly on Wall Street and in London.Since March 2008, when Bear Stearns, once a Wall Street investment bank, went down, the global economy was subjected to one money-related catastrophe after another, be it the failure of Lehman Bros, another Wall Street investment bank that hit the gutter in mid-September 2005, or the virtual collapse of the US auto industry. A recent prize piece of madness was the bankrupt $50bn Ponzi scheme, masterminded by New Yorker Bernard Madoff.The US, UK and some European countries are now tossing billons of dollars of taxpayer money around like confetti at a drunken wedding. In the real economy, real investing opportunities abound like never before. A savvy investor who invested weighted funds in a global Tier II listed gold stock portfolio would now be up by nearly 220% in dollar terms - in just five months.The star in this portfolio has been JSC Polymetal, a Russian silver and gold miner, now up by 605% from its trough prices. Sadly, however, the broader damaged occasioned by the savage actions of Wall Street and London bankers continues to ravage across many sectors. The world's broadest equities benchmark, the MSCI Barra Dollar Global Equities Index, is up by a very modest 21% from its recent lows, and still 47% below its highs. Many erstwhile heroes of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, seen by some as the world's most influential stock barometer, lie bleeding and bruised, ranging from Citigroup to Bank of America, from General Electric to Caterpillar, from Alcoa to American Express, and from General Motors to Du Pont.Apart from the Micex Russia stock index, which was mercilessly sold down to silly levels, the world's best-recovered stock index is found in the CSI 300, which represents a long list of stocks publicly traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Here the bounce has been a solid 54% so far, and rising, on the back of great performances from ICBC and stocks across every conceivable sector.The levels and directions of investor portfolio flows around the world show, without question, that raw materials offer the most believable and compelling story. Commodity prices may have crashed, but some, such as copper, are sharply up in the past few months. Listed copper stocks around the world, led by the likes of Yunnan Copper, are now up by 137% on average from the trough; listed silver miners are up by 191%, and gold stocks across all classes have bounded up by 153%.The oil price may have crashed by two-thirds from mid-2008, but listed oil stock have recovered by 40% from lows, led by Exxon Mobil, the world's most valuable stock of any kind. To be sure, the odd miner and oilman turns out to be a liar, but he doesn't swallow all the bath water when his toys are confiscated. Class always prevails; today, AngloGold Ashanti, which leads price-performance among global Tier I gold stocks, is trading just fractions off its 12-month highs on the NYSE, bound, no doubt, to all time record levels in due course.SELECTED INDICES, SPOTS AND GROUPS

From

From

Points

high*

low*

MSCI world equities $

829.44

-47.1%

21.3%

MSCI emerging markets $

587.45

-53.1%

31.7%

Dow Jones Industrial

7749.81

-41.0%

19.8%

S+P 500

813.88

-43.5%

22.1%

DJ Stoxx 600

178.29

-46.4%

14.7%

KBW banks

30.01

-66.2%

69.1%

CSI 300

2479.79

-39.2%

54.3%

Shanghai Composite

2361.70

-37.6%

41.9%

Micex Russia

851.02

-56.7%

72.4%

Reuters/Jefferies CRB

227.07

-52.1%

13.4%

Dow Jones AIG Commodity

113.84

-52.3%

12.2%

Baltic Dry Shipping

1740.00

-85.2%

162.4%

Baltic Capesize Shipping

2169.00

-89.0%

161.3%

Dollar Index Spot

83.68

-6.6%

17.5%

Gold spot $/oz

939.86

-6.6%

37.7%

STOCK GROUPS

Value

From

From

 

$ bn

high*

low*

Dow Jones Industrial

2540.61

-43.3%

28.0%

Top 100 global miners

966.79

-60.1%

93.0%

Oil stocks

1992.53

-48.1%

39.7%

S + P 500 Energy

987.00

-48.5%

32.7%

Copper stocks

63.86

-60.3%

136.6%

World banks (80)

1844.24

-60.1%

55.8%

Gold stocks

259.43

-37.8%

152.9%

Silver stocks

15.39

-53.5%

191.0%

Gold ETFs

44.78

-12.2%

38.9%

Uranium stocks

17.63

-50.8%

98.0%

Paper stocks (60)

40.35

-60.4%

49.0%

Shipping stocks (32)

26.64

-73.2%

57.6%

* 12-month

Source: market data; analysis by Barry Sergeant