Nothing Makes Sense Anymore

What hasn’t changed? Isn’t that one of the questions we should be asking? 

There is a lot of unfairness in this world. I hear about it everyday from my son. He’s able to find the part of anything that feels unfair. I have to tell him everyday that that feeling might not change right now, but what can change is to counter that with what is fair. That then forces him to think up something that is fair. It’s very hard for his 12 year old brain to do, but it’s an exercise that I’m committed to doing with him and for myself. My daughter oddly enough almost never says the phrase, “this is unfair.” If she does, it’s usually because she’s just repeating what she hears her big brother saying. 

So, as the world continues to get more unfair we have to find the counter. Because it’s unfair that the Fed is going to bail out every publicly traded corporation’s bond portfolio immediately. No waiting in line. No going to the SBA website and trying to wade through their horribly designed software to figure out how to get a loan. Nope! None of that. 

The Fed just swoops in immediately and buys up Ford’s crappy bonds that are failing (failed?). That’s not fair. But it’s happening. And will continue happening. The Fed works for the banks—NOT. YOU. At least, not directly. In fact, the Fed doesn’t really work for “the banks” as much as it works for the Money Center Banks (i.e. the really big ones.) 

And as the top 1%, and the top 1% of the 1% get richer, the world gets more unfair. This is probably not going to change. A revolution probably won’t happen. Honestly, people will probably just get angrier and more polarized as they live out their lives within their screens and just get more outrage. Too cynical? Maybe. But this path is accelerating not decelerating.

So, what is someone to do?

Ryan Holiday is a great writer. He believes the path to a better life is following what the Stoics believed and followed. I’m a believer too. 

Below is the email I got from Ryan this week from his service, The Daily Stoic. Read it and then I’ll tell you what you can do right now… today. 

There is a story about King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. He was leading a massive army campaign, and had picked an ideal spot to stop to break camp. As he began to give out orders, an aide rushed up to inform him that the location lacked enough pasture for the army’s pack animals and that they would have to move. “O Hercules,” Philip cursed in frustration, “what a life I lead if I am obliged to live for the benefit of my asses!”

Philip may have been powerful, but not more powerful than the reality of logistics. His unstoppable, all-powerful army was—for all its victories—at the mercy of its weakest link. It has always been and always will be thus. As Marcus Aurelius would write in Meditations about Philip’s son, Alexander—for all his victories too—was buried in the same ground as his mule driver. Reality has a way of cutting us down to size like that.

But the real message of that story is how easily even the most powerful people can become a slave to their stuff. Every soldier Philip pressed into service meant more supplies, which meant more pack animals to carry them, which required larger and larger amounts of fodder. Every ounce of treasure that Philip acquired in victory meant the same. Everything he accomplished or did was actually slowing—weighing—him down.

And so it goes for us. Which is why we should remember Seneca’s advice today: “Get used to dining out without the crowds, to being a slave to fewer slaves, to getting clothes only for their real purpose, and to living in more modest quarters.”

When I read the above passage, I immediately thought: “if people want a better life they can simplify. They can own less. They can pair down what they own.” Almost everyone has been taught to over-diversify. You’ve probably been taught to own 40 or 50 symbols. Or maybe “just” 15 ETFs. But it’s all the same. You might be a hoarder of symbols and just not know it. More symbols does not help—it makes things worse. Because now, when the market falls apart, you don’t have one symbol flashing red. You have 55 symbols flashing red. 

And guess what? 

Your brain doesn’t know what to do when 55 things are breaking. But your brain can know what to do when one symbol is flashing red. So look at your positions. All of them. Are you an investment hoarder? Owning ten or more is my definition of an investment hoarder. If so, then this is the place to start. Less truly is more when it comes to investing. 

Below is what I cover this week in my video:

  1. 22 million have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks. The last time numbers were this bad was… never. This is the worst unemployment numbers have ever been, and in a four-week period.  And what did stocks do? When straight up. What gives?
  2. The stronger are going to get stronger. Amazon. Walmart. Microsoft. Netflix… they are all going to get stronger. Tech is going to get stronger too. So let’s talk about winners and losers. Fair or not. This is how the world is today. 
  3. No sector is going to be a bigger loser than the leisure sector. Do Boeing and United Airlines recover back to old highs? Or are they permanently damaged?
  4. We have to talk about gold and specifically GDX and the wild ride it’s been on over the past month. 
  5. Probably the best precious metal mining stock ever is the one I’ll talk about today. This thing looks more like a tech stock than a company that has anything to do with mining gold. 

As always, please let me know what you are thinking. I’m always standing by at

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