Uncertain Times Call For Perspective

November 8th 2016, by Garrison R. North

While you are reading this, tens of millions of Americans are voting on our leader for the next four years. It is the culmination of possibly the most polarizing presidential election in recent years. The two major party candidates have the two worst favorability scores of any presidential candidates in our history and political party polarization is at levels not seen since the turn of the 20th century. We have had many conversations with you, our clients and friends, about the current state of our country and this election and will be watching closely with you tonight as the results come in.

In these uncertain times, it is tempting to do something, anything, to obtain what feels like a little bit of control. As it relates to our investments, the temptation is to sell something or buy something that will protect us against the uncertainty. Of course, the big problem with uncertainty is that we don’t know what we are protecting against in the first place! To know what is prudent, we have to step out of the uncertainty to a place where we gain some perspective.

At Master’s, we believe that perspective can be found in time-tested, fundamental financial principles. You have heard us mention many of them before: diversification, asset allocation and staying invested in the market are just a few. Even though we WANT to do something, those fundamental principles scream at us to stay put.

There was a recent sketch relating to the stock market that summed up these feelings pretty well. One side was labeled “Short-Term Mess” and had a bunch of wild squiggly lines. The other side was labeled “Long-Term Reality” and had a steady, upward sloping curve. That reality is a useful perspective at a time like this.

So no matter what the outcome of this election is or how the stock market reacts to it tomorrow, we can be thankful that we don’t need our money tomorrow and that we have the luxury of time on our side. We can be thankful that we are not gambling with the future, hoping that we guessed a short-term market reaction correctly. We can be thankful that we elect presidents with checks and balances and not dictators who can impose their will on the people. We can be thankful that we live in arguably the greatest civilization in human history. We can be thankful that no human being is ultimately in control, but our one and only creator is. Together, on Election Day 2016, let’s keep things in perspective.

*The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author, and may not actually come to pass. This information is subject to change at any time, based on market and other conditions and should not be construed as a recommendation of any specific security or investment plan. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Diversification seeks to reduce the volatility of a portfolio by investing in a variety of asset classes. Neither asset allocation nor diversification guarantee against market loss or greater or more consistent returns.