Stock market investing is all about risk and reward and sometimes you do have to stick your neck out.
There is no reward without risk.
It’s sort of like those who say that you will never understand happiness without having experienced sadness.
My preference, however, it to simply experience varying levels of happiness and to ignore anything that might detract anything from the lowest level of happiness.
I ignore lots of things, much to the consternation of those around me.
But I ignore that consternation.
The same thing isn’t really possible with investing as not only is happiness so often of a very temporary nature and fleeting, the only way to avoid risk right now is to look at bonds or your mattress and those carry lots of opportunity risk.
Also, there’s a big difference between the qualitative feel of personal happiness and the quantitative nature of investing.
In other words, instead of being a giraffe, you would have to be an ostrich, although the ostrich is actually doing something of value when their head is below ground.
So you do have to stick your neck out if your happiness is defined in the form of stock gains.
I wasn’t very happy in 2015, but am very happy with 2016, to date.
Much of that has to do with the fact that the very stocks that disappointed me in 2015 are the ones delighting in 2016, even as they still have lots to do to erase the stink of 2015.
I still have a fascination with license plates and the bumper stickers put on their cars.
The license plate thing these days is more geared toward trying to decipher the message contained on someone’s vanity plates.
That often takes a combination of having a very open mind as to the intended grouping of letters and numbers and to the message.
Of course, the exercise isn’t complete until then driving past the car driver and either giving them a thumbs up or a shoulder shrug.
The bumper sticker thing is more just a question of reading and then trying to imagine what the person in the car will look like once going past them.
For example, in my experience, those with the “Choose Civility” bumper sticker tend to be very rude drivers, but they don’t look rude.
What both fascinations have in common is that as I get older, the distance that I need to get within range to be able to read the plates and the bumper stickers is increasingly getting smaller and smaller.
That brings some danger, but sometimes it’s really hard to resist.
When I say “sometimes,” I mean that I can never resist and it is the reason that my wife won’t let me drive when we’re together.
I need to be within range.
About 25 years ago a character debuted on Saturday Night Live and the recurring joke was to try and guess the character’s gender.
The sketches typically had red herrings and lots of mis-direction and the question of Pat’s gender was never answered.
Never a terribly popular character, someone had the fiscally irresponsible idea of making a feature film and Pat was never heard from again.
The guessing stopped.
Fast forward to 2016 and think of Pat as an FOMC member.
Over the past 2 months or so there has probably been lots of mis-direction coming from Federal Reserve Governors, perhaps as they floated trial balloons to see how interest rate action or inaction would be received by the stock market.
The health of the stock market is not really part of their mandate, but since so much of the nation’s wealth is very closely aligned with those markets, it may only be logical that the FOMC should at least have some passing interest in its health.
Who would have guessed 6 months ago when the first interest rate hike occurred that we would be at a point where that has thus far been the only one?
Who would have thought that in the transpiring 6 months nothing would have validated the December 2015 interest rate increase and that nothing but conflicting economic data would be forthcoming?
There was potentially lots that could have moved the market last week.
Earnings season was getting into full swing as oil continued its march higher.
As if those weren’t enough, we had an FOMC Statement release and a GDP report and even more earnings to round out the week.
But basically, none of those really mattered.
The FOMC expressed some confidence in the economy even as the GDP may have said otherwise the following day and earnings were all over the place with the market not being very forgiving when already lowered expectations weren’t met or were being pushed out another quarter.
Again, none of that mattered.
What really mattered was when Carl Icahn, who unlike Chicken Little, calmly told the world that he had sold his entire stake in Apple (AAPL) for fears of what China’s “attitude” might be with regard to the company.
The initial interviewer misinterpreted Icahn’s comments to mean that he was worried about the Chinese economy itself and that may have been exactly how traders interpreted Icahn’s words, although a second interviewer correctly interpreted Icahn’s comments and got him to add clarity.
Icahn confirmed that he was actually worried about the possibility that China would be less of a reliable partner for Apple and not that he envisioned a new round of meltdowns in the CHinese economy or in their financial institutions.