A college football player whose injury forced him to sit out his teams’ bowl game was interviewed about his experience and future. He recounted the hit that took him down, and his severe pain as he was carted off the field. The interviewer asked if he was disappointed to be missing the big game and in a cheerful response the young man spoke of a couple other injuries that had sidelined him in the past. “If you play football you are going to get hurt,” he said, “all athletes understand it to be part of the price we pay to enjoy the game.” I loved that this young mans’ focus was not on the injuries but the enjoyment of the game. He was willing to deal with the occasional pain in order to reap the rewards of pursuing his dream.
Investors often express their concerns about potential bad things that might lie ahead. We have all seen unfortunate past events such as the banking crisis that precipitated the great recession of 2007. Most of us were around in 2000-2002 when the Dot.com bubble burst, creating huge losses in the markets. All of us know exactly where we were and the pain we felt when the 9-11 attacks occurred. And more recently we all experienced the dramatic market crash that occurred when Covid first hit.
When bad things happen, they often come upon us unexpectedly. Some things are impossible to predict. What seems to be much more predictable is what follows. In every situation our nation recovered, and our economy went on to hit new record highs. It is that historic truth that leads confident investors into the future, despite knowing that bad things will continue to happen.
I can’t remember a time in my career when people didn’t ask if now was a good time to get out of the markets because of some fear they had for the future. It’s almost as if they will only stay invested if I can assure them that nothing bad will happen. I tell them they are missing the point that the above-mentioned athlete understood so well.
As a student of history I am well aware of the many terrible disasters that have struck our nation, but what stands out most prominently in my mind is that we are still here. The reason we have been, and remain the most prosperous nation in the history of the world is because the good things that happen have always outnumbered the bad. This is largely because we are not a people to let anything keep us down, no matter how bad it seems at first.
Will bad things happen this year, and over the next 10 years? They certainly will. You can count on it. Will good things also happen? Absolutely. As in the past I believe the good will continue to far outweigh the bad because that is the kind of people we are and that is the future which I find worth investing in.