By Eric Vogen
What do you see in this picture?
Do you see a beautiful and peaceful sky? Do you see a storm brewing on the horizon?
Does the photograph somehow speak to you at a deeper or spiritual level?
I love creative and mind-expanding artwork. I use art in business to gain perspective or to communicate concepts on a deep level. It also amazes me to see how differently each person sees a work of art. It’s like this with finances and markets as well. One person can see a disaster and another person, a huge opportunity. I work with people to clearly discern who they are as investors in calm and stormy times. Then, I encourage discipline and confidence to stand steadfast in their unique plan, in the midst of ever-changing seas.
In the middle of a storm it can be helpful to find an image, scripture, or vision to focus upon, just like a sailor would seek a lighthouse. For instance, here is a simple example. What do you see in the letters below?
I see an idea to explain a certain cycle in a financial market. It could be called “The W Market.” What I mean by a “W Market” is that it goes down and up and down and up, but really isn’t going anywhere in the end.
Why is this perspective of a letter important? “V” shapes may encourage confidence and risk taking for a downturn which is very brief, while an “L” may lead to lead a much different investment strategy. Sometimes I have seen the “W” energize more aggressive or trading investors, who see volatility as an opportunity to profit and, for example, buy securities near the retests of the “W.” On the other hand, some retirees see volatility as a time to preserve their assets in order to fight another day. Either way you see it, here are some words to remember about the “W”: Whipsaw, Waves, and Willpower.
Whipsaw: Stock values are ultimately based on their earnings. If earnings remain intact, stocks can recover from corrections. In this scenario, I don’t want to see people get whipsawed, due to getting in and out of the market based upon fear.
Waves: In the tsunami which struck Fukushima, many lives were lost during the first wave which struck the coastline. Unaware of how a tsunami works, people ran to the beaches to see if they could help any survivors—only to be swept away by the second wave. Sometimes W markets can seem like that first wave, but really they are a precursor to larger and more destructive waves. Because of that, I don’t want to see people put themselves in a risky position because they are under an illusion that things will always recover and somehow work out. Instead, each person needs to have a personal, written plan for the probability of many more waves (i.e. geopolitical situations, natural disasters, wars, etc.) which can pile on and lead to a more severe period beyond a W market.
Willpower: I have heard from some baby boomers that they cannot handle another big downturn after surviving two crashes in the past 15 years. My concern for people, especially for boomers now drawing on retirement assets, is that they might lose their resiliency in this W market and check out at the wrong times—or that they might avoid risk assets altogether to earn very low returns in something seemingly safer. The problem here, though, is that the current plan of many government leaders is to stir up inflation, which poses another type of risk to the retiree.
These W’s are not for the faint of heart. But fortunately, God didn’t give a spirit of fear but of courage, power, and self control.
Consider taking another look at the photograph at the top of the article. As you do, think about these questions:
How am I being supported by advisors and mentors in the whipsaws?
How am I hearing and holding on to the Holy Spirit’s daily guidance through waves?
How am I trusting God for willpower?
I’d love to hear your answers. [email protected].