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The More Things Change

The More Things Change

November 30, 2022

“There is no present and there is no future. There is just the past repeating itself again and again, now.”  I was going to use that quote, from Eugene O’Neil’s play A Moon for the Misbegotten, to begin this article. However, wanting to be thorough, I went and checked to see that I had it right. When I looked it up, I found the actual quote, There is no present or future-only the past, happening over and over again-now. It is close to be sure, but not exactly the same.

Looking into things has a way of leading us to knowledge and information we were not originally after. This instance was like that for me. In finding the correct quote for the purposes of this post, I stumbled on a different quote. It was from Irish actor Gabriel Byrne. He said From doing A Moon for the Misbegotten I learned that nobody’s love can save anybody else…..the only one who can save you is yourself.” 

There are two concepts here for investors that are worth considering:

First, while it is obvious that the past does not repeat precisely, there are often startling parallels to the present. As a good friend of mine says “The past doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.” I think he is right.

There has been a long history of asset bubbles ranging from tulip bulbs, to real estate, to digital currency. That bubbles evetually burst has not been difficult to predict and there have always been those voices of reason who spoke out against the trend.

The siren song of instant wealth is a sweet one to our ears. It has led many an investor to run their ship onto the shoals of financial ruin.  Over the centuries, ruinous financial bubbles have inflated and burst innumerable times and in a variety of places. Sadly, I am sure it will happen again in the future.  Perhaps worst of all, even those of us who do not participate in a bubble can be hurt by one, owing to the fallout of its bursting and what that means to the economy in general.

The second concept is the seemingly out of fashion one, of personal accountability. We live in an era obsessed with making excuses for bad behavior.  No matter how abhorrent the behavior, there seems to be a ready-made excuse for it, absolving the bad actor of their actions. The goal seems to be putting the blame anywhere, except where it belongs.

The appeal of this blame shifting is simple to understand. Who among us would not rather believe that whatever we are dissatisfied with is someone or something else’s fault?

If, however, we seek to achieve the best results we can in life, there are two things we must realize. The first is that we do not control everything. The second is that we do control many things. And the things we do control are what counts. What we do and do not do in our lives will overwhelmingly determine our results over time. As Byrne put it, the only one who can save us is ourselves.

As sad as I find the current trend of blame shifting away our challenges, instead of taking responsibility for them, there is a silver lining. For the person who is willing to notice that the past rhymes and takes responsible action in keeping with that knowledge, there can be rich rewards.

Our current economic crisis will eventually pass. When? Who knows. One thing is unlikely to change, however. Unless the world comes to an end, people will want products and services as we always have. The companies providing them will likely make profits. Historically, profits lead to higher asset prices.

There has been only one time in history that the American stock market has dropped 20% and not rebounded to make a new all-time high. When was that? Right now! Think on that a moment.

Of course, the same thing could have been said immediately after any drop of that magnitude. However, in each instance, with time things changed and mostly for the better. And while it is true that past performance does not predict future success, it is also true that people are likely to continue behaving like people.

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The past has lessons to teach us, but it is our responsibility to learn them. If you like, consider working with a financial planner who understands history, to assist you and your family in preparing for the future.

Scott R. McGimpsey November 30th , 2022

This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm.