Losing It?

Losing It?  –  I lost my glasses the other day.

It wasn’t remarkable; I lose them at least twice a day. I don’t need them to read, but I do use them to see at a distance. So I’m constantly taking them off to work on my computer, or putting them back on again to look out the window or to drive somewhere. So I’m always trying to remember where I set them down, or what I was doing when I last wore them.

But these glasses seem to have a charmed life. They’ve gone through our dryer’s permanent press cycle, been found skulking behind the wood-bin, and even spent two hours—unscathed—in the middle of a parking lot in Richmond, Virginia. I’m tempted to think that if they fell into the ocean, a sea-bird would catch them and bring them to shore.

For me, the process of losing my glasses and finding them again has become a metaphor for the global markets. Normally my day goes along, with all its tasks and projects. Then, as I need to walk somewhere, or get in my car, my stomach clenches and my mind races: “Where did I leave them THIS time?” A brief—or longer—search ensues, which up until now has always ended happily.

Our financial markets do largely the same thing. Companies go along buying and selling, then a source of worry hits them: “What about inventories; are sales slipping?” The stock market pulls back, but then a solution is found and life goes on.

When the market falls we need to take it seriously. The problems it faces are real. But panic is never the right response. I don’t believe that my glasses have a magic homing beacon, and I don’t believe that global markets are impervious. But somehow my glasses have always come back, and the world has a funny way of not ending. We can’t afford to be complacent; but growth—not decline—is the world’s long-term economic tendency. That’s how we need to plan.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer

Follow me on Twitter @tengdin

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