When did you start investing?
My first investment was with my first IRA contribution in 1992. The previous year had been a really good one for stocks and most indicators showed an economy on the rebound from the 1990 recession, but jobs were not being created as quickly as in previous recoveries. Stocks were trading near all-time highs, which made me wonder if I should wait for a better time to buy. Adding to the angst, it was an election year, and the jobs issue made what initially looked like would an easy re-election for the incumbent less certain.
The pace of the recovery was so tepid that a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas was gaining momentum with an entire presidential campaign strategy built around the phrase, “It’s the economy, Stupid”. In addition, a straight talking billionaire was attracting attention for memorable quips such as his description of job losses to Mexico causing a "giant sucking sound". All the while, the President couldn't believe that so many people read lips.
Despite all that doubt, the S&P 500® had a respectable return of 7.6% that year. In fact, with dividends reinvested, the fund I invested in is now worth over four times as much as my initial contribution.
Along the way, there were many uncertainties that tested my risk tolerance. Looking back now, it can seem obvious that taking risks and staying the course was the right decision. However, at the time they occurred, the ever present concerns about bubbles, busts, inflation, deflation, terrorism, war, the economy, etc, tested even the most steadfast investors.
Perhaps I owe some of my resolve to growing up just a few miles from Uncertain. Uncertain, Texas, that is. If you're not familiar, check out this recently released Ewan McNicol documentary titled, "Uncertain". It has absolutely nothing to do with investing, but it will give you some insight into living on troubled waters deep behind the Pine Curtain of East Texas.
Today, the worries in the investing world may be different than in 1992 (or not), but the concept of risk and reward is ever present. This week, I share with you the latest Issue Brief from my friends at Dimensional Funds that explores the paradox of uncertainty.
In addition, I’ve included a short video on dealing with uncertainty from DFA’s founder and Executive Chairman, David Booth.
I hope you enjoy the information. Get in touch if you’re feeling, well, uncertain.