It was sometime around 2010 or 2011 when I wasted over two hours listening to a presentation by a famous economist / money manager expounding on all the reasons the US dollar was on the verge of cratering, fiat currency as we knew it was about to be worthless, gold would reach 10,000 and stocks were going to plummet a la 1929.
It was disturbing, well-articulated and shook me to the core. I spent the next several days in deep thought about this, wondering if I should change our strategy for clients and the assets we were caring for. It seemed as if everywhere I turned there was another headline predicting impending doom.
The problem I couldn’t wrap my head around however was ‘against what currency?’ You see, what the economist failed to mention to the public, and what many forget, is that unlike a stock or bond price, which are quoted as static prices, currencies are quoted against other currencies. In short, if I were to tell you that Apple was trading at $500, you would only know if this were good or bad depending on your knowledge of Apple’s price in the past. For instance, if Apple was trading at $600 a few months ago, today’s price would be bad, whereas if Apple was trading at $100 a few months ago, $500 would be fantastic. The price of Apple is measured against itself, not any other asset. The dollar however is not quoted in those terms. The dollar is quoted against another currency or a basket of currencies. Think of this as a teeter-totter where one currency is on one side and another currency is on the other. If the US Dollar were to decline, it would mean that another currency would be rising.
The struggle I found with the argument in 2010 was that it assumed the US dollar would decline primarily against the Euro, which is the largest currency in the basket of currencies typically quoted against the dollar. If you recall, at that time Europe was in complete disarray with a pending Greece default, and Spain, Italy and Portugal not far behind. In my mind I struggled to rationalize how the US dollar would become worthless and somehow the Euro would be so valuable.
I decided to hold onto my opinion and not fall prey to another’s fear tactic. I made a mental note to see how it all shook out and file it away as a learning lesson. Shortly after that, I made a decision to never again let any emotionally-driven, fear-laden headline dictate my actions. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
The big loser in this year’s election is the media. Their credibility, in my opinion, is beyond shot and their fear tactics to get you to click, read, watch, share or like has become reprehensible. If you find yourself getting emotionally caught up in this, I strongly encourage you to shut it down, turn it off, kindly let someone know not to forward you any more ‘credible’ white papers and remember how wonderful and amazing life is.
At least thus far the markets like the election outcome or at least the way the numbers are shaking out. I believe the incredible run we’ve seen over the last few days are folks scrambling to jump back in who may have made the decision to jump out somewhere along the way. This strategy, in my opinion, is just as dangerous. Methodical, unemotional, planning-based investing is and will always be the best strategy for the long haul.
The question now is ‘where do we go from here?’ Well, I do have some strong opinions on that, and I’m glad you asked. Stay tuned for more on that soon.