The irony of having investment experience is the acute awareness that humility is always right around the corner ready to remind us that we’re not as smart as we think we are. When throwing out our predictions for what the market is going to do next, it is only a matter of time until humility finds us. While I wrote last week that pundits on TV have no career risk, I do, so I tread lightly.
I haven’t shown a single “market chart” to anyone since this thing started to unfold. Why? Because intellectual evidence focused around statistics, or charts and graphs won’t convince anyone of anything. Nothing about the future can be proven. Don’t get me wrong – millions can be made by professing to know what the future holds, but I’d prefer to sleep well at night by telling the truth. That is, of course, is that I don’t know.
Admittedly, “not knowing” is the only thing we can profess authentically. It is the only thing we can profess as a statement of fact. But here is what I can also state in the same breath. I have faith that everything will work out okay. As spring turns to summer, maybe this thing will be short-lived or maybe it will take a while. Regardless, I can advocate for continued faith that this too shall pass.
In today’s world, there is infinite information and multiples of that of opinions. This deluge of information and opinion – surely intended to encourage a feeling of certainty – causes faith-in-the-future to get overlooked as the key foundational requirement for successful long-term investing.
Indeed, faith-in-the-future escapes just about every single investment book I have ever read. There are thousands of investment books that focus on the tactical how-tos and speak nothing of the bedrock that faith-in-the-future surely is. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy though. As Vice Admiral, Jim Stockdale, famously said,
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
We must exercise faith that things will, at some point, return to normal. Human nature, being what it is, is built to withstand incredible things. This is no different. We will forge ahead and I’ll bet we are better for it.
Perhaps this humanitarian crisis is the spark that causes us to exercise a little more human decency and less politics. Perhaps this causes us to appreciate the things we DO have and cut back on things less important. Perhaps being in our foxholes with our families has helped us to realize that spending so much time at the office isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Perhaps we won’t take our health for granted.
The good that can come out of bad can be limitless. It can be hard to see, but that is how faith works. Believing in something even when we can’t see it.
We may still be in the early innings of this thing, but no matter how long this goes on, I believe the great companies of America and the world will thrive again. We must have patience. We must have faith.
I hope you and yours are all safe and healthy.
Thanks for reading.
This post is not advice. Please see additional disclaimers.