My 49 cents

Man (or “woman” or “indefinite”), I clearly don’t have enough things to do seeing that I have still time to go to the toilet, albeit just barely. I don’t even have time to set up tremendously complicated schemes in order to trap my neighbour in an old well in the garden. No, this resolution of trying to balance life-work is backfiring. I should have just listened to my family who wanted me to spend more time at work. But again, I’m digressing. Time is of the essence, and there are some financial matters I unreasonably feel I should talk or shout about. Because otherwise I fear I might lose concentration at pilates class and set back my return to street fighting for at least another three months.

Bears are nowhere to be seen. Market bears that is, not the adorable type living in the forest that is attracted by menstruation and with which you can wrestle. Everyone is bullish. There are even people who are trying to justify a new “secular bull market” argument. Josh Brown is on it, and even though he doesn’t want to say so explicitly he’s clearly on the bull juice. Which I was there dude. At the danger of suddenly finding myself considerably less attractive than before, thus making tension-release-time a more tearful effort than normal, I’m probably more a bear-juice kind of guy, at least in the medium term. But in reality, even I don’t really care about that. And I even try to care.

But then I wondered if it even mattered much. Any argument one can throw one way can be met with an equally or drastically less intelligent-sounding counter argument. And so forth. It struck me that going into the arguments for and against a secular bull market is a fruitless task, very much like trying to hold an ordered discussion on theoretical physics with two 5 year olds on Ritalin. The bull versus bear argument is simply another example of epistemic closure, or basically a closed system of deduction or belief that is unaffected by empirical evidence, exactly like much politics. The only thing we can know for certain in deducting where the markets are going in the future is what price you need to pay today for a share of it, and what has happened in the past. Everything else becomes, to varying degrees, a subjective interpretation of past data, current estimates and the probability of future events, known or unknown. And despite our desire to be pragmatic, we are all subject to confirmation bias. Simply, it takes a lot to change someone’s opinion on the market in writing because that person is considerably less likely to actually read it in the first place.

Call it the eternal half-full, half-empty argument. It is generally agreed that the “bears’” arguments tend to come across sounding more intelligent, at least when it comes to macroeconomics, which I suspect is because the contrarian is more questioning of the status quo and thus have a natural inclination to search for confirmation in areas of the economy often overlooked by others, which often creates better stories, whether they are wrong or right in the end. In contrast, sometimes a bull can simply go “WOOP WOOP” and throw in some words about human ingenuity, China and social media and be more often right than wrong, when it comes to the stock market at least. Hard to argue against that without coming across as someone who should be standing on the corner wearing a placard that says “the end is nigh” and “will blow for food”.

But fuck it, sometimes you just have to stand your corner for perhaps no other reason than change. With equity markets close or past 2007 highs, what the world experienced in 2008 and what has happened since has for some had no real effect on the world, even though none of the problems have been solved, that is, except Iceland. Which is doing brilliantly by doing everything completely different from what they were told. Go Björk. Should tell us something that.

Sometimes I wonder if the rest of us can’t go Icelandic, if we ever can move beyond being mere slaves for the powers to be. Other times I dream I’m a rapper. Man, I wish I was like 50 cent. I could be all dressed in black and call the market “my bitch” without it making me sound like a twat. I could roll into meetings, tip my pimp-hat and be all like: “Let’s make some cheddar, yo!” and people would be all: “man, I want your babies”.

That’d be sweet.



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