WWA or WSJ?
Care to guess the name of the newspaper I’ve read virtually every day for the past 45 years? Since I live in the world of business, you might not be surprised that it’s the Wall Street Journal. As I was catching up on my reading after being out of the office for a few days, I noticed this headline on the front page of the business section of the Dec 29th edition: ‘Volatile Stocks Test Investor’s Resolve’.
Perhaps a more accurate headline would have been ‘Volatile Stocks Test Traders’ Resolve’. Most long-term investors (such as our clients) do their best to establish a sensible strategy, then stick to it regardless of short-term market movements. When I went to the website to save a copy of the story, the link led to a slightly different title: Dow Industrials Fall to End Volatile Week with this subtitle: ‘All three major U.S. indexes snapped a three-week losing streak’. That sounds better already.
I’ve written before about the distractions of the 24/7 news cycle although I’m more likely to call radio and TV stations to task than a daily newspaper. The WSJ is a voice I value highly but, in its effort to compete, even this venerable source of information appears to have been drawn into the race to grab readers’ attention.
When I mentioned the headline to my wife, she made a thoughtful observation: most holiday letters sent to those friends who aren’t seen frequently cover highlights of the year’s activities, not what happened last week. Rather than allow yourself to be distracted by the morning’s headlines, why not consider taking a longer view, by watching trends and tuning out the day-to-day noise. It’s obvious that markets have fallen during 2018 but I’d say that’s to be expected after eight straight years of positive returns. The S&P500 is down about seven percent for the year which, to us, is less a crisis and more an opportunity to purchase shares of great companies at sale prices. Just as many other items are marked-down at the end of the year, so are some of the world’s greatest businesses.
I write this note on Dec 30th not knowing what the final trading day of the year will bring. However, nothing that happens will alter our strategic approach to making investment decisions on behalf of our clients. Since it will be sent on the first business day of the new year, let me encourage your number one resolution to be focusing on those things you can control – time with family and other loved-ones, for example – and not allow breathless headlines in any medium to distract you from your long-term goals.
Jalene, Peggy and I look forward to another year of helping people make good decisions and live their lives to the fullest. We wish that for all other readers of this note too. Happy New Year.