Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Morning Note: "conventional wisdom had nothing to do with the truth"

Yes yes, new day, same 2021 story. If you missed yesterday's charts of the day, please go there now and I won't belabor the sector breadth issue here.

Dow's up 22 points (0.07%), SP500's down 0.05%, Nasdaq's up 0.01%, Russell 2000's up 0.43%, SP500 Equal Weight's (a better proxy for all boats in the index [breadth]) down 0.24%. 

So no big deal, right? Right. But we should note that utilities are down almost 1 full percent (that would be over 300 Dow points), banks are of 2/3rds of a percent, materials are off half a percent, and... well, you get the picture... this is not bull market stuff we're talking about so far in 2021...

Despite decent data, Asian equities had a rough night last night, with all but one of the markets we track closing lower -- most of them notably lower.

Europe, on the other hand, is looking good this morning, with all but 3 of the 19 bourses we follow trading higher.

The VIX (SP500 implied volatility) is up 0.60%, VXN (Nasdaq i.v.) is up 1.74%.

Oil futures are down 0.09%, gold's down 0.11%, silver's up 0.68%, copper futures are down 0.21% and the ag complex is up 0.95%.

The 10-year treasury is up (yield down) and the dollar is down 0.24%.

Buoyed by ag commodities, Eurozone equities, silver, metals miners and energy -- but dragged by the sectors mentioned above, plus Asia-Pac equities, emerging markets and Verizon -- our core portfolio is basically flat (off 0.10%) to start the day.

Ben Horwitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an enlightening journey through the rise of one of today's more celebrated venture capitalists. Of course I found it abounding with market metaphors:

"People always ask me, “What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?” Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves."

Of course, when it comes to investing, no move (simply, patience) can sometimes be the best move... 

However, that said, and alas, too many times over the years I've seen investors invoke the word "patience" to excuse what in reality was a head-in-the-sand, or, worse yet, a deer-in-the-headlights approach to markets...

The "efficient market theory" may be the greatest farce ever levied onto the investment community, yet it's too convenient for many -- despite their real world experiences -- to dismiss, as it provides cover for what I view as a most dangerous complacency:

"...if I’d learned anything it was that conventional wisdom had nothing to do with the truth and the efficient market hypothesis was deceptive. How else could one explain Opsware trading at half of the cash we had in the bank when we had a $20 million a year contract and fifty of the smartest engineers in the world? No, markets weren’t “efficient” at finding the truth; they were just very efficient at converging on a conclusion—often the wrong conclusion."  

--Ben Horowitz

Have a nice day!


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