Shading our Perspective

By |2019-04-26T06:43:13+00:00April 26th, 2019|Global Market Update|

How do you look at the world? Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov. Source: Fancycrave Everyone looks at the world through their own particular lenses: we’re limited by our own minds. We can never see anything truly objectively; we only know what we think we see. What we have are different shades of rose-colored glasses. This is a problem for investors. We tend to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms our preexisting beliefs. We call this “confirmation bias,” and it feeds our overconfidence. Suppose [...]

Diversifying Convenience

By |2019-03-12T13:03:03+00:00March 12th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Have you been to a convenience store lately? Photo: Igor Oskyonnov. Source: Fancycrave. CC0. The breadth of offerings boggles the mind. There’s dozens of types of candy, beef jerky, chips, and cigarettes, coffee, milk, sports drinks, sodas. Often there’s a small hot area where you can buy pizza slices or hamburgers or hot dogs. The diversity of product is a way for the owner to entice us out of our routine and into a purchase. Surely there’s something there we crave: sweets, salt, caffeine, [...]

Underdogs and Understories

By |2018-12-06T16:25:47+00:00December 6th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Not every little tree makes it. Pine forest understory. Source: Wikimedia Last summer I went for a walk in woods near my home and noticed a mature stand of white pine with what looked like a hundred little saplings underneath. It was lovely: the majestic pines overhead and the dense carpet of green in the understory. The needles looked soft in the morning light. I thought, “You’re not all going to make it, little friends.” There wasn’t enough room in the forest canopy for [...]

Financial Tundras?

By |2018-12-05T06:04:45+00:00December 5th, 2018|Global Market Update|

The mountains are beautiful. Lake of the Clouds on Mount Washington, NH. Photo: PaulB. Source: Wikimedia I love hiking in the alpine tundra in the Appalachian Mountains. The way plants and animals adapt to the harsh weather up there is amazing. But nature is incredibly diverse, whether up in the mountains or down in the depths of the sea or out on the African veldt. Every possible niche seems to be stuffed with a diverse array of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms. Wherever there’s [...]

Rooting for the Home Team

By |2018-11-09T07:55:51+00:00November 9th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are sports really “only a game”? Photo: Reid Neureiter. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0 Watching my kids compete in youth athletics has been one of the most enjoyable parts of being a dad. Now, I’m not a crazy sports parent yelling from the sidelines who thinks his little one has the stuff to make in the big leagues. Been there, done that, saw the movie, hated the ending. No, I’m talking about teaching my children how to kick a soccer ball, playing a game on a [...]

Investing by Ear

By |2018-09-27T09:35:05+00:00September 26th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Remember music lessons? Photo: Musikrat. Source: Pixabay I played the French Horn growing up. I started playing in the 4th grade, taking lessons from our band-director and an instructor, Mr. Klinger, who used to come to our home. My parents put up with the blats and brays and never complained – at least to me – although I’m pretty sure they knew musical entertainment was never going to be a reason for me to give up my day job. So why did they do [...]

The Wisdom of Diversification

By |2018-09-18T06:00:15+00:00September 18th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Diversification works. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia That’s the secret to the success of many major consumer products. Coca-Cola was created when someone accidentally added carbonation to medicinal syrup. Play-Doh was supposed to be a wallpaper cleaner. Toothpaste started as a homemade powder made from salt and burnt bread, but then someone noticed Parisian artists squeezing their pigments out of lead tubes, and so they put the toothpaste into the tube. In his famous commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs tells how the idea for [...]

Upside-Down Investing

By |2018-04-03T07:24:06+00:00April 3rd, 2018|Global Market Update|

Invert. Always invert. Public Domain. Source: US Army Inversion is a solid analytical technique. Some problems are best solved by thinking backwards. The Stoics used this approach 2000 years ago. They called it “premeditatio malorum” – imagining what could go wrong. That way, they considered, you won’t be shocked and appalled when life sends you unpleasant surprises. We’re taught to do this behind the wheel. My instructor called it defensive driving, imagining what unpredictable moves other drivers might make. The NPR call-in show “Car [...]

Growing on the Beach

By |2018-03-05T07:15:46+00:00March 5th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Have you ever noticed how beach grass grows? Photo: Jon Sullivan. Source: Public Domain Photos Ocean beaches often have dunes behind them, covered with beach grass – sometimes surrounded by protective fences. The plants grow in lines, strengthened by creeping underground stems that connect them to one another. Over time, the grass thickens and the sand dunes stabilize. This helps prevent coastal erosion. In Europe, peasants used beach grass for fuel, thatch, and animal fodder, until they realized that using the up the grass [...]

Staying Comfortable

By |2018-02-22T07:36:36+00:00February 22nd, 2018|Global Market Update|

How do you stay calm when the market is crazy?     Drawing of Valkyries. Illustration: Johannes Gehrts. Source: Wikimedia Birgit Nilsson was a great dramatic soprano. One day an interviewer asked what was the key to successfully performing in demanding roles like Brunhilde and Isolde. Her answer was immediate and a little surprising: comfortable shoes. Some of the operas required Nilsson to stand in place – on her feet, singing – for hours at a time. If her feet started to hurt, it [...]