How Wars Are Won

For the purposes of this morning’s message let’s think of bear markets as times of war (i.e., of potentially devastating risk) for investors.

I don’t read many articles featuring the likes of BlackRock’s chairman, or Morgan Stanley’s chief strategist, or, say, some CNBC personality, or some politician, proclaiming that the bottom’s in and that it’s now time to essentially start getting aggressive — of course I look forward to the day. As if the war’s over, and the environment is peaceful enough to get back out there, unprotected

In fact, I’ve yet to read a single one this go-round. But I have seen the titles (featuring, among others, the above players in particular) pass by on Twitter, or my Bloomberg news feed, or my cell phone alerts, and so on. Funny thing is, I don’t recall a single one of these pundits/sources ever telling people to get defensive to begin with.

*Note: Markets are NEVER easy to gauge, and I’m never comfortable pointing to others’ miscalculations. But, frankly, sounding the all-clear signal right here is dangerously premature in my view.  
Back to my bear market/war analogy: 

Here’s from Jordan Ellenber’s How Not To Be Wrong; The Power of Mathematical Thinking:    emphasis mine…   

“One thing the American defense establishment has traditionally understood very well is that countries don’t win wars just by being braver than the other side, or freer, or slightly preferred by God. The winners are usually the guys who get 5% fewer of their planes shot down, or use 5% less fuel, or get 5% more nutrition into their infantry at 95% of the cost. That’s not the stuff war movies are made of, but it’s the stuff wars are made of. And there’s math every step of the way.”

Clearly, huge economic, and, thus, stock market risks remain. So, we’re not the least bit interested in playing the hero role right here; despite the proclamations of the investing generals referenced above…


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