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The Certainty of Uncertainty Thumbnail

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Article By: Eric Foster, CFP®, CPA

It is natural to worry about things and money is usually on the list of things that people worry about.  Not many people actually enjoy it when their investment values plunge.  History tells us that there is always something that we can worry about when it comes to our money.  Recessions, wars, political tension, inflation, deflation, terrorism and the list goes on.  It is natural to have a “recency bias” that convinces us that today is experiencing more of those worrying events than ever before.  Is that really true?  Let’s walk through my lifetime and see:

1980’s – I was born in the mid-1970’s, but as a kid was wholly oblivious to anything in the world.  The decade started off with two recessions in three years.  The Cold War was raging, and I can remember doing a nuclear bomb drill at school (note that this included getting under our small desks for protection - good luck kids).  Geopolitical tension was high.  Assassination attempts were made on the US President and Pope, Chernobyl melted down, the US boycotted the Olympics over a foreign Russian invasion, and a terrorist bomb exploded Pan Am Flight 103.  

1990’s – In the 90’s I was a teenager and headed into college and then adulthood.  We saw the end of the Cold War, racial riots in Los Angeles, school shootings ramp up, genocide in Rwanda, environmental disasters, political turmoil in the US, the beginning of the Gulf War(s), and more bombs on planes (TWA 800) and a US Federal building in Oklahoma City.

2000’s – My wife and I had our first baby in 2000 and went on to have 3 more this decade.  Those births were surrounded by terrorism on 9/11, Iraq war beginning, a massive hurricane Katrina and the associated economic fallout, and an enormous recession and stock market rout in 2008 stemming from chaos in the US housing market.   Bitcoin was anonymously introduced late in the decade, and all missed our chance to be mega rich because we didn’t even know it existed.

2010’s – The second decade of the new millennium saw more societal tension around the fallout of the Great Recession through Occupy Wall Street and then racial tension expressed through the Black Lives Matter movement.   Terrorism came to the Boston marathon and plenty of other places around the world.  Mass shootings came to schools, churches, and Las Vegas.  US troops remained engaged in the war on terror globally.

If we went farther back, we would pick up horrific wars, poverty, civil rights atrocities, and plenty more deeply unfortunate historic events.  Is the uncertainty of today unique?  It sure does not seem like it.  We live and invest in an uncertain world.  While chaos is a seeming certainty, so is the will and power of great companies that solve problems and improve the quality of our lives.  We get to invest our money in those companies.  By the way, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) is up a little more than 4,500% from January 1980 through late February 2024.  Invest accordingly.  

PYA Waltman Capital, LLC (“PYAW”) is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about PYAW’s investment advisory services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.  PYA-24-08