Throughout history, individuals have been drawn into the more speculative stages of the financial market under the assumption that “this time is different.” Of course, as we now know with the benefit of hindsight, 1929, 1972, 1999, 2007, and most likely 2019, were not different – they were just the peak of speculative investing frenzies. Of course, if you went through one of the more recent bear market drawdowns, there is an important distinction, as my colleague John Coumarianos recently penned, “You’re Different This Time.”
“Even if you sailed through the 2007-2009 market meltdown without undue worry or panic-selling, the next downturn could prove more visceral if retirement is closer at hand and starting to seem like a realistic possibility. It’s not fun to see your portfolio drop from $500,000 to $225,000 when you’re 45. But it’s way worse to see your $1 million portfolio drop to $450,000 when you’re 55 and beginning to think serious thoughts about the when and how of your retirement. The losses are the same (in percentage terms); the ages are different.”
So, what can you do?
In the media, there is a select group of investors and portfolio managers that are revered for the knowledge and success. While we idolize these investors for their respective “genius,” we can also save ourselves time and money by learning from their wisdom and their experiences. That wisdom was NOT inherited, but was birthed out of years of mistakes, miscalculations and trial-and-error. Most importantly, what separates these individuals from all others was their ability to learn from those mistakes, adapt, and capitalize on that knowledge in the future.
Experience is an expensive commodity to acquire, which is why it is always cheaper to learn from the mistakes of others.
Importantly, you will notice that many of the same lessons are repeated throughout. This is because there are only a few basic “truths” of investing that all of the great investors have learned over time.
The next major down market cycle is coming, it is just a question of when? These rules can help you navigate those waters more safely, because “you’re different this time.”