Bargaining…

The parallels between gambling and Wall Street investing are common, and well deserved. Afterall, life is a game of chance & it’s tales are epitomized on the street. I love the rags to riches stories. And on Wall Street, as much as we like to think we can trade our way to success, most of us are just lucky. Not that there is anything wrong with lucky.

And, yes I know effort equals output.

But if you flip a coin 60 times is that better than if you only flip it 20? And so. Simply put: if you aren’t in control, you are out of control.

And the market often reminds you of this universal truth, you are NOT in control.

The famous philosopher Alan Watts once said, that the western view of the world is very disconnected from the eastern. The western view takes an outsiders view of things… we say things like “face the facts or pull yourself together”, implying an observer role. Removed from the being of the universe– the Matrix if you will. And that YOU, the being of you, is a thing that observes happenings & creates.

Whereas the eastern philosophy is more of a universal “globular/blobular” view. We are ALL a big pile of being. And the eastern view leads you on the path to attempt to connect with this notion. But I digress…

A recent discussion with a financial advisor:

“My new clients want to wait for a pull back before we put more to work, my existing clients want to know why we don’t put more to work. I know I’m in charge, but I’m stuck on what to do…I feel like I can’t win.”

You see, it’s impossible to win in this dynamic. The notion that you are actually going to win, and there is a right decision…Life is a series of decisions with statistically unknowable outcomes most times. It is messy. And the universe is a giant equation balancing itself out. And while your decision is important, it actually isn’t.  Once you surrender to this notion, you start to see the current leg of the market (and all others) for what it is, a giant cog manifesting itself as a blob of being. Life, death, birth, etc. For the finance world, this would be considered a much, much more “macro” view. To others, I sound like I’m willing The Secret.  I’m not.  I’m just looking into the window of being and seeing what is. Investing is simply an exercise in faith.  That tomorrow will come and be better than today.  Now faith left unattended is equally messy.

So, you need to consider this. What is all of the activity in your accounts actually doing? Why are you doing it? Is it adding to your life or your family?

I know, as a trader or market professional you ask yourself, but what else would you do? And I know that is terrifying to think it has ended. But if you are a trader, it’s time to concede you probably are using hours, days, weeks, a lifetime on a quest not made for you.  And if you are an advisor trying to beat the market…you should quit now. The current construct is not designed for you to do this sustainably.  And for investors–It’s time to concede that most traders and advisors aren’t supposed to “beat the market.” and most can’t. Goldman Sachs lost money 2 days last quarter. 2.  That is not a mystical happening.  That is the system telling you where the money lies.

The truth? Advisors are supposed to be gurus for money. And a guru is simply a teacher.

So to me, in my zen-like state—forget the charts, the spreadsheets, and moving averages. If this market is a manifestation of anything right now, it would be grief. 2008 was the death of an era and the birth of something new, we don’t fully understand. And at the poker table of life, we are all grieving in our own way. And as such, as I observe when I meditate, we are in the Bargaining phase.

The stages Kubler-Ross identified are:

  • Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
  • Depression (I don’t care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

Who is grieving you might ask? Mutual Fund managers who know the game is over for them soon, the Financial Advisors who are only salespeople, the day trader screaming into his laptop cam to a 100 people on youtube, Hedge Funds on their knees pleading that their leverage will make their fee look affordable again, The Fed, The Senators, People who didn’t buy enough, people who bought too much going the wrong way. Probably the G20. And of course, People who’ve bought gold AND the people who haven’t….everyone. Everyone is bargaining for what they want right now… everyone. Afterall, we are a giant blob of being. The faster we learn to accept this truth, the more quickly the river of opportunity will flow.

Image: Studio Bueno

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