Sometimes we just need to take a step back. On Tuesday, we were headed into a devastating trade war, with a third of our exports to China subject to punishing tariffs (in response to the tariffs proposed on more than 10% of their exports to the US)… by mid-afternoon on Wednesday, the trade war is over and everyone was happy again and getting along. Friday morning, Trump talks about doubling the list of tariff products and panic returns… and these days, with volatility returning to the market, all the short-term traders are a little nervous about holding anything over the weekend, when they’ll be stuck watching 65 hours of potential Trump tweets (and potential ‘black swans’ of whatever sort) without being able to react.
Sometimes I think it would be much more rational to look at your investments only once a week, on the weekend, when the market is closed — see the full spread of the news of that week in more context, make your decisions, and, if you decide that a change has to be made, submit your limit orders to buy or sell and come back in a week to see if those orders were triggered. That feels like a much more reasonable way to build a portfolio for the long term — the internet has been an incredible boon for society and has made trading much easier, and democratized the access to information… but man, has it ever created a massive amount of crap information in the process.
We are larded with excess data, and yet ever more we are short on wisdom. Wisdom takes time and processing power to achieve, and in the context of our work here the hope is that it fuels good investing decisions, not jitterbug trading. But it’s hard to take the time to build that wisdom if the urge to react to every bit of news is still right there in our face each day.
I wonder whether the next wave of technology will come with a better “off switch” to prevent us from more severely damaging ourselves — will we do a “cleanse” or a “fast” to rid ourselves of excess data and avoid unneeded information, the way that some people try to diet or “clear toxins” from their bodies today? Might we get to the internet version of a “silent retreat?” It’s hard to picture, but it ...