The Myth of the Steady State

Everyone’s waiting for things to get back to normal. The problem is, no one knows what normal looks like.

In August of ‘07, the wheels started to come off the bus. That’s when a year’s worth of real-estate price declines began to tell on the sub-prime mortgage market. First Bear Stearns’ hedge fund blew up. Then sub-prime originators began to fail. Then prime-based originators, and you know the rest.

Now that we’re in a recovery, people are debating what the “new normal” will look like. But for now, we’re in an inventory-rebound. That’s not normal.

But what was normal before the crisis? The run-up to the housing bubble wasn’t normal. Prior to that, we had the escalation and execution of the Iraq war. Prior to that, we had the inflation and pricking of the internet bubble. Prior to that … you see what I mean?

Some say the market is an evolutionary mechanism, always adapting to new conditions. But to me it seems more like quantum physics, with jump conditions and measurement failures and uncertainty principles. And like quantum mechanics, the market frequently violates some of the most elegant mathematical models. As Einstein said, if you want elegance, go see a tailor.

I don’t believe in a past, present, or future economic equilibrium. The market we see is the market we have. The trick is to prepare for the next market, without going broke.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Hit reply if you have any questions—I read them all!

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By | 2014-09-05T13:26:16+00:00 September 30th, 2009|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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