Little Red Numbers
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Board: Pro: Philosophy & Strategy
I was sitting on the old chestnut stump Wednesday night, sipping a frosty chocolate milk, watching the Milky Way rise and listening to the coyote pack down in the hollow, and I found myself wishing that I could see my daughter.
I sat for a while longer, contemplating under the light of 400 billion stars, and I thought about how some of the light I was seeing left those stars when Caesar reigned, how some of it dates back even farther, to times when Neanderthals roamed Europe. (Don’t get me started about the light from Andromeda!)
And then I thought about how my daughter and I used to sit out back and talk about such things, when she was younger and still at home. So I called her, out in the Michigan hills where she is on a dig, and told her about the coyote pack and the shooting stars I had seen overhead, and she said, “Why don’t you come up here for a visit?” – which was a kind thought, but also I believe a sincere one.
“But,” I thought to myself, “This might be a bad time to be out of touch with the market – you have a lot of fairly sensitive positions in place.” Of course, I quickly realized that this was silly – the market would undoubtedly be indecisive and uneventful on Thursday, waiting for Friday’s job report.
So, bright and early Thursday morning, off I went, to the Iron Mountains of Michigan. And it was quite a good day!
A few minutes ago I found a hotel room (I am too old to sleep under the stars without a little advance preparation), fired up the old laptop, and – Whoa, Nellie!
But, a day spent digging for fossils can give one perspective (as well as an aching back). Instead of fussing and fretting all day about some red numbers that were getting steadily larger – I was 90% in cash before Thursday; now I am more like 93% in cash!* -- I was sweating and digging, hammering, carrying, and talking about the eukaryote revolution, Archaeopteryx as a dinosaur rather than an early bird, the importance of viruses to evolution, and the Pirates’ (fading) chances of making the playoffs.
From that perspective, who really cares about the little red numbers? I will use this opportunity to buy, and eventually, if I (we) have chosen well, the little red numbers will become little green numbers. And at that time, we will all groan about the lack of good buying opportunities!
Apart from the larger perspective, days like this should not really matter to us. In fact, we need them. Whether you think the market is still over-valued (as I do), or instead think that we are now presented with great buying opportunities across the board, this type of volatility is not scary – we are not staring into the abyss; the market is just correcting.
If you guys can manage without me, I am digging again tomorrow, then will be heading back to West Virginia, land of gout, goiter and gallstones, over the weekend.
*I did well to be mostly in cash, but the few equity positions I purchased in the last week or so were particularly bad ideas, at least by the measure of Thursday’s market!