What’s going on? Did someone reverse the polarity?
Earth’s magnetic field, normal and reversed. Source: NASA
Everything is working backwards. In a normal world, Democrats run a free-for-all donnybrook during primary season, while Republicans are orderly and measured, choosing the next-person-in-line. In a normal world, German engineers build cars to be quietly dependable, instead of programming their autos to deceive US emissions tests. In a normal world, Greek voters change their government every couple years, instead of electing the same government to implement completely different policies.
Markets have always been a puzzle. Economist Adam Smith noted that when people pursue their self-interest, they appear to be guided by an invisible hand towards the common good—satisfying desires as efficiently as possible. Buddhist philosophy delights in paradoxical koans—contradictory questions that test one’s progress towards enlightenment—like, what is the sound of one hand clapping, or what did you look like before your mother was born. Apple’s Buddhist founder—Steve Jobs—was a ruthless competitor and an exacting boss. Is Apple a new koan?
Every million years or so, Earth’s magnetic field inverts, so the south pole becomes the north pole, and vice-versa. If that happened today, birds would fly north in the fall and extinct volcanoes would start erupting. The way things are changing, we should check which way the compass is pointing.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer