“Counting Our Blessings“
This week’s post is courtesy of Jason Zweig and his Wall Street Journal blog, the Intelligent Investor. While 2022 has certainly been a difficult year for the stock market, it has also taken much of the speculation out of the market. Perhaps bringing us all back down to a more consistent longer-term reality. This post from Jason does a wonderful job of highlighting things we can still be thankful for despite the recent volatility.
The U.S. stock market is down about 15% so far this year. Bonds have lost about the same. Major cryptocurrencies have fallen by two thirds. Real-estate prices are sagging. Diversification feels only slightly better than devastation.
So let us give thanks. As I like to say, investing isn’t an IQ test; it’s a test of character.
In good times, when markets are booming, taking stupid risks doesn’t stop you from getting rich quick; if anything, it helps.
But if you want to get rich slowly and stay rich reliably, you have to learn to avoid taking stupid risks.
That’s what down markets are for.
Down markets don’t just separate people from their money. They also separate people into those who learn from mistakes and those who don’t. As painful as the losses of 2022 have been, I’m thankful for them.
I recently put a question out to my audience: “As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for as an investor?”
These were my favorite answers:
- The ability to compartmentalize all of the negative headlines and real stuff that is going on in the world, enabled primarily by keeping everything in the context of history;
- Good health, without which nothing else matters;
- Being born with a positive countenance;
- Empathy, because we are one community and therefore what happens to one, happens to all.
- Lastly, thankful for [those] who have made it their calling to remain curious and who continue to teach and inform people like me.
—Elise Eberwein, Carefree, Ariz. (who adds, “You can’t make that location up, huh?”)
My parents…were of the “Greatest Generation” who had lived through wartime and the Great Depression….Though [my father] died when I was just 13, he’d already spent time getting me fluent in bond yields and stock quotes, expressed in fractions, with the WSJ newspaper as source. He was fond of many aphorisms that had originated in an earlier era….and the lessons stuck with me: “You can’t get the last squeal from the pig.” [My mother taught me to] live below your means, and don’t worry about impressing the neighbors (or anyone else). I’m most thankful for the fundamental values that have served me well both in investing and in life.
—Jerry Gould, Boxford and Wellfleet, Mass.
I am grateful to even be an investor. Just as I’m a first-generation college graduate, I’m also a first-generation investor. It has been incredibly intimidating but thankfully, I have a financial adviser who is never condescending and who takes the time to make sure I understand (I’m a scientist, not a finance person). I appreciate the opportunity to invest and ensure that my future is more financially secure than my parents’ has been.
—Julie Lucas, Side Lake, Minn.
The main thing that the modern world has taught me is how lucky I was to be born when I was (1960) as I had the best of times—both as a stockbroker / investment manager and as a person. I would not want to be born today!
—Ben Shenton, Jersey, Channel Islands
My very first focus of gratitude would be living in a country and an economy that rewards hard work, perseverance, intelligence, and dedication….I consider myself very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time in history. These ideals allowed me to break free of the shackles of poverty after my first 20 working years by investing in myself, achieving higher educational goals, and helping build small businesses into thriving organizations.
—Al Prentice, Colleyville, Texas