Headlines vs History

by | Nov 17, 2022 | General

A lot can happen in a week, but is it important?

Last week offered an extreme example of the futility in trying to trade on headlines. At the start of the week, the election dominated headlines, and a red wave was assumed to be incoming. Conventional wisdom was that midterm elections often went against the president, and a divided government would be good for markets. The wave turned out to be a trickle and markets were disappointed, with the S&P dropping 2.1% on Wednesday.

The election largely overshadowed the CPI (Consumer Price Index) release on Thursday, until it showed annual inflation of 7.7%, or 0.2% less than expected. That small 0.2% surprise led to the S&P rising 5.5%. Incidentally, although it felt exceptional, that daily gain does not even break the top 20 for the largest one-day gains for the S&P.

That top 20 list is populated by days like March 15, 1933; October 21, 1987; October 28, 2008; March 24, 2020. On each of these days the S&P was up more than 9%. You might recognize that these dates are related to scary periods: depressions, pandemics, financial crises, black monday. We don’t know if last week was a turning point in the market, but we do know that the companies we own continue to grow.

Forecasting either elections or macroeconomics would have likely led you astray last week. A lot happened, but was it history making? Also likely not. There is a lot of noise in good markets and bad that tempts us to focus on the short term: the next economic release, the next earnings cycle. We believe successful investing depends on long term trends that are obscured by this noise. 

Our suggestion is to read more history and fewer headlines. We know it helps us stay focused on the important trends and not the noise.


Spencer Ogden

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