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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The Fed has a tough job. We used to understand that. We used to give experts the benefit of the doubt, because we understood that doing things is hard and requires a certain set of knowledge and skills. We understood that because we were a nation of doers, so we naturally understood the difficulty of doing. Today we are increasingly a nation of spectators. Spectating is easy, and whatever it is we are spectating looks a lot easier than it actually is.

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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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