Fear and Panic

Yesterday, my local CostCo sold out of Charmin in 15 minutes.

My cognitive capacity is so lit up I can’t remember my daily calendar.

Stress makes us stupid.

So…

#1 – execute my strategy, made before the current crisis

One of the nice things about following a rebalancing strategy is you are very likely to have sold (a little) at the peak. My pre-crisis rebalancing happened January 4th and I sold enough to cushion the psychological impact of recent declines.

I rebalanced on Monday and again today.

Limit down opens => phew!

#2 – lean into fear

Since 2014, my portfolio assets have been 60/40 in equities/bonds. For the last six years, I’ve expected bonds to get hammered by rising rates. It didn’t happen. Been wrong the entire time but it didn’t hurt me.

For my long-term capital, I’d rather use a 90/10 strategy (90% in equities). The trouble is getting there. I have zero confidence in my ability to pick the right time to shift. So I created a re-weighting strategy based on VTSAX/SP500.

A simple rule: as the market moves from 20% down to 50% down, I will rebalance equities upwards from 60% to 90% of portfolio holdings.

Today’s rebalance moved me to 63/37. The 63 is held 42/21 VTSAX/VTIAX.

Simple to execute => each time, I rebalance I check the %age off the peak, if we’ve set a new low then adjust the equity weighting upwards. Otherwise, steady as she goes.

This simple strategy is not easy to do => either I want to rush more money in (FOMO) or hold money back (plain old fear).

#3 – real estate

When your neighbors are stocking up on TP in preparation for the end times… it’s generally not a good time to be selling real estate.

What about buying? Real estate prices respond much more slowly to feelings/sentiment. At the last downturn, local real estate didn’t “get cheap” until 18-24 months after the crisis.

I suspect we’re going to see the residential market stop dead for a few months.

After that? I have no idea.

#4 – family

My family has been watching me stock the house for three weeks. They were amused but now we are ready.

I’ve been reassuring the kids they are going to be OK. There’s a lot of fear around.

At school, our youngest heard that “old people” were dying. She took me to one side and asked if I was going to be ok => Yes, Sweetie, I’m going to make it.

That said, a finance background is useful for understanding the impact of compounding. Our state saw a 33% increase in positive tests today. Keep that going through the end Spring Break and we will have 4,200 positives in 16 days (from 44 at Noon today).

Notwithstanding an absence of positive tests in Boulder County, I’m going to start home schooling on Monday. A significant burden on myself but a small price to slow the spread.

#5 – community

Will Colorado’s experience follow Italy, Hong Kong or Taiwan? I don’t know.

What we know for certain is there will be a large, sudden burden on the lower end of our communities. Consider giving a sizable donation to your local food bank.

We also know we will save lives by staying away from each other.

#6 – immunity

Something simple, but not easy, for readers of this blog => cut your training in half.

Take your program, cut it in half and watch what happens with the infection rate in your state.

If your state is on a log-scale infection rate then it will become apparent far more quickly than any fitness loss.

Your immunity will get a boost from this change and you’ll preserve all the health benefits from exercise.

#7 – cash, debt and leverage

If you have an emergency fund then this would be a good time to make sure it is liquid. I have three-months expenses sitting in my checking account.

Not willing to lean into the market downturn? Consider using surplus cash to pay down debt.

If the downturn persists then do you know what can ruin you? There are many types of leverage => I’ve written about this a lot.

 

 

 

 

Money and Attention

storyGiven the firehose of media attention pointing at the US Presidential election, it’s easy to get tired, fed-up, angry, worried… you name it with regard to the state of politics.

It is worth remembering that the players have a vested, mutual, interest in getting us scared, and angry enough, to give them money and attention.

Rather than bringing fear and hate into the world, consider the following…

Take a characteristics of your least favorite politician and remove it from yourself.

  • You might have a concern about a lack of tolerance.
  • You might have a concern about a lack of integrity.
  • You might have a concern about a focus on personal wealth.
  • You might have a concern about fairness.
  • You might not like the way the person looks.

Whatever the trigger, we are going to be reminded of it, a lot, over the next five months.

Become aware of the trigger…

…and work to subdue the trait from within yourself.

Seeking Truth, Enduring Pain

SXMMy favorite quote on pain comes from a champion athlete, Dave Scott.

Dave was giving a talk the day before an Ironman triathlon and was asked, “How do you deal with the pain of racing?”

His reply…

First of all, it’s not pain, it’s managed discomfort

Along the same vein, I heard Dave’s rival (Mark Allen) share the advice that…

To achieve a result, you need to be willing to accept whatever is required to get to the result

Many people confuse pain, with the process.

Others, incorrectly, believe that they can achieve a meaningful life without having to endure discomfort.

Plan => Do Work => Recover & Evaluate

Plan => Do Work => Recover & Evaluate

Plan => Do Work => Recover & Evaluate

The discomfort comes within the process. Specifically, with identifying, and addressing, our shortcomings and beliefs that prevent success.

++

What’s the opposite of “seeking truth, enduring pain?”

Lies and pleasure?

I don’t think so.

Think about a situation where someone “can’t handle the truth.”

What do you receive from them when you probe the truth?

Fear and anger

These are “negative” emotions but useful to point the way towards truth.

++

The ability to see the world clearly requires a commitment towards radical honesty within our own lives.

If I can’t see the truth within myself, I’ll constantly be fooling myself with others.

So…

When I feel fear and anger, I know that I am on to something.

I might be close to an area that’s holding back clear thinking.

Seek the truth beyond the triggers.


Book Recommendation along these lines is Ray Dalio’s Principles – available as a free PDF.