Old Ideas

College basketball is not the only place where old ideas refuse to die. The financial markets are full of old ideas that simply refuse to go away. For example, we simply must have a bear market because one is supposed to happen every five years. Over the history of the stock market, we typically get a bear market once every five years. The idea here today is that a bear market must be looming because we have not had one since the 2008 financial crisis.

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Refusing to Learn

Last fall we had a market sell-off because the groupthink on Wall Street says that we are due for a recession. There was absolutely no sign of a recession in the U.S., but that didn’t matter. The data for the fourth quarter came in and not only are we not in a recession, but the U.S. economy grew at the fastest pace in more than a decade. Did they learn?

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First Quarter 2019

Ultimately all these ideas persist because of the fatal flaw of economics as a science. In the hard sciences the scientific method requires a control – this group gets the experimental treatment while this other group gets a placebo. The treatment works or it does not. There is no control group in economics. So what are investors to do?

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