05 March 2009

Roadkill Crow

See this poor crow? That's your Sable Crow today.

My major holding? Down 67% year to date. The good news: just kidding, there isn't any. I've been adding to it on the way down, which will probably turn out to be a good idea, but for now feels foolish.

A little like getting run over by the market.

I even went back to my staple, gray and black, after a fabulous weekend being styled by the incomparable Diabolina. Check out her version here. And my version here.

Even my normally stoic friends today had the need to call: "We need to be supportive of each other!" said one. "I just want to stop hurting."

And yet, the financial hurt we feel is anxiety, it's not even the actual hurt of catastrophic loss. There are people losing their jobs, and their homes, by the hundred of thousands. It's mind boggling.

Humans are the only creatures who suffer. By suffer, I mean to anticipate a future of pain. Other animals can feel pain. But only humans can create the temporal contruct of anticipating pain over future periods. It makes us crazy animals. Our egos get invovled, and in some ways it's like a Chinese finger trap: the smarter you are and the more you're able to envision the future, the greater your capaciy for filling that future with pain. Esentially, the greater your capacity to suffer.

This is not a very good side effect of self-awareness.

The market in these times is entirely driven by emotion. On balance, the market is probably ALWAYS driven by emotion. Ben Graham, who was Warren Buffett's mentor and the father of value investing (buying something for less than it's worth and holding it nearly indefinitely, until that "value" is realized) said that in the short run (and I'm paraphrasing), the market is a voting machine. But in the long run, it's a weighing machine.

The stock exchange is a metaphor for life. It has an emotional landscape (which, I'll admit, is probably lost on the men who populate that world) and it manifests our greed, our joy, our desperation, and our fear. We are now in the latter two.

As for me, I had no idea the market would get this low. I figured 7500 on the Dow. I was wrong. I was also wrong about GE. And of course WFC.

Hell, so was Warren Buffett, so at least I'm in good company.

I don't feel very fashionable lately. But that's not because I haven't been; it's just that I don't feel it.

This is a rambling post with little coherence and even less wisdom. Sorry, my esteemed Reader. It's uncharacteristic, but what do you expect from roadkill?

I haven't even gotten into the emotional core of the day, which was reconciling with an unsettled past AND watching what I could of the Prop 8 arguments via a shaky internet feed at my office (between gulps for air as I watched the market). It was an altogether trying day, and I'm thrilled it's nearly over.

But before I go, I have to give you this. I'm OBSESSED with bluegrass music lately. Not sure what it is. Something about all that loss and harmonizing. This one is my favorite, and makes me think about my weekend in San Francisco over Valentine's Day. And the band's name is Old CROW Medicine Show! Perfect!

My fantasy is to buy a house this summer, in time to host a Bluegrass Halloween party in my backyard. Bales of hay, white lights strung overhead, a live bluegrass band, bobbing for apples; it's my fantasy life right now. Others have their beaches, or their dance clubs. I think about Halloween.

And on THAT happy note, I'm going to bed.


WendyB said...

I'd say the the market is DEFINITELY driven by emotion, not probably. And it has been through the ages. Try to keep your eye on the long term and not panic. It's hard, I know, but what else can we do?

Yogi Zuna said...

In the long run, we are all dead, so there must be a limit to our patience with the market.
I believe this time is truly different, and part of it has to do with the fact the huge baby boomer crowd is on the way out, and will no longer support the stock market as they once did.

Sable Crow said...

Thanks Wendy. With today's continued action, I'm approaching something much more like depression, or resignation, and not at all like panic.

I've told everyone at my office that they'll know the market has bottomed when they find me crying at my desk. That's today.

Hi Yogi! I agree with you about the boomers, but I would refine the thought thusly: I think the phenomenon of the baby boomer has been the phenomenon of debt; like no other generation, the baby boomers have layered it on thick and heavy. The unwinding of that debt--as we pay for our parents' excesses both personally and globally--is the new reality of our age. The market swell of the last 20 years, too, is a function of this ever-increasing debt, and may not return to it's lofty levels for many years.

As an aside, it makes sense to me that a generation obsessed with itself would also invent a market theory that hinges on itself also (eg the theory that the actions of the baby boomers determine the fate of the world and its markets). Sadly, the boomers were right, but they've bankrupted their progeny to prove it.

WeezerMonkey said...


Ignorance really is bliss. Those who are not savvy enough to understand what's going on the economic world probably have fewer gray hairs.

Diabolina Da Fashionista said...

your post gives me so much to think about per usual. thank you.

LOVING the halloween party ideas. what a picture you paint. not sure what I'd dress up as...maybe june carter???

october feels years and years away...

Jean said...

my weddin' song is gonna be allison kraus. i loves me some allison kraus.