FinSyn Insights

Weekly insights on the markets, economy, and financial planning

The Annual End of the World

Sir John Templeton, the father of international investing, once said, “Among the four most dan­gerous words in investing are ‘it’s dif­ferent this time.’” With the continuation of a lackluster economic recovery and so much congestion in Washington these days, it is difficult not to feel that way. Financial “journalists” bombard us daily with headlines about the Eu­ropean debt crisis, the fiscal cliff, geo­political conflict abroad, and political gridlock at home. They bring this news to us as if it was brand new, and they tell us that its implications on the finan­cial markets are both dreadful and un­precedented.

So my goal with this column is to pro­vide an antacid (a healthy historical perspective) for the heartburn induced by these financial journalists and “The Annual Apocalypse” they peddle.

A while back, I ran across an issue of TIME magazine with the following headline: “High Anxiety: Looming re­cession, government paralysis, and the threat of war are giving Americans a case of the jitters.” At first blush I as­sumed this was a recent edition, but to my surprise I found that the issue was dated Oct. 15, 1990. I’ll do the math for you … that’s more than 22 years ago. Since seeing that cover, I’ve lo­cated a score of TIME magazine covers heralding a coming financial apoca­lypse that could easily be used today (see above for a sampling).

Scary headlines might sell magazines, but they don’t make for sound invest­ment guidance or a reliable long-term perspective. And while the journalists who compose these articles write with confidence and conviction, the simple truth is that they don’t know the future. In fact, if the doomsday picture painted by TIME’s journalists had compelled investors to sell out of stocks, it would have been a devastating mistake. For example, if you take the S&P 500’s re­turn from the first publication date be­low (Sept. 9, 1974) through Nov. 30, 2012, an investor would have missed out on 6,265.7%, or 11.5% annual­ized, had he or she sold out of stocks, according to Morningstar Direct.

We endure the short-term discomfort of market volatility because of the undeni­able long-term benefit stocks provide. Don’t allow financial “journalists,” who care nothing for your wellbeing, to take your eye off that ball. Invest in a thoughtful, disciplined, diversified ap­proach. And if you’d prefer not to navi­gate the complex world of investing alone, enlist the help of a Registered Investment Advisor to help keep you on track.

Bryan Zschiesche

Bryan is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Senior Financial Advisor. He uses his expertise to develop investment strategies to protect and grow clients’ retirement savings. Bryan is a proponent of Elegant Simplicity, the idea that we can work through complex issues surrounding a financial problem and arrive at a sophisticated but simple solution.   Read Bryan’s Profile HereRead More Articles by Bryan

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