Sep

28

 I usually pay more attention to this kind of thing, but sometime last year, the last person alive in the 1800's died.

That seems weird to me and probably to many on this list as there are more than a few of us that personally knew people born in the 1800's.

Heck, I worked in a nursing home in 1985 with a women who was well over 100 years and vaguely remembers her great grandfather who was born in the 1700's (he was well over 100 when she knew him). That seems especially surreal to me…..I have talked to and touched the hand of a women who has talked to touched the hand of man who was alive during the Revolutionary War.

That means that there's a "one person bridge" between me and the time George Washington lived.

The oldest living person alive today (according to google.com) was born on August 4th 1900.

What does all this mean?

Somewhere in the next few years, we will pass a point in time where no one alive today was alive when someone born in the 1700's was still alive.

Here's an interesting article on the subject:

"Who Was the Last Person on Earth Born in the 1700s?"

What does all of this have to do with investing?

Well the market, as Vic always mentions, has a very nice long term positive drift. And it can be a fools errand to try and go against that drift.

The market is reflective of the human condition. As humans, we've drifted from caves, to huts, to wooden houses, to brick house, to buildings and to sky scrapers. The trajectory of mankind is the trajectory of the market. A nice upward positive drift.

But all that positive drift does us no good, if we're caught in one of the violent draw-downs at the wrong time.

Mankind may have gone from being ground-bound to standing on the moon in less than 66 years, but none of that mattered if you were one of the humans that got caught in violent uprising of WWl or the great flue epidemic of 1918, or WWll, or got stuck in a communist gulag, or in Pol Pot's killing fields.

The same is true for the market…the positive drift doesn't matter if you are an average American who worked hard your whole life and saved your money so you could retire and walked out the door with a gold watch on 1/1/2000, because your 401k has skyrocketed into the stratospheres. Or if you were the person who worked through the 2000, 2001, 2002 debacle and retired when your 401k recovered and reached new heights in 2007, only to be shellacked in 4Q07 - 1Q09.

To those people who got crushed in the dot com or housing bubbles, the long term positive drift of the market didn't matter to them anymore than the achievements of mankind mattered to the poor souls who died of of the flu in 1918 did.

Unlike video games, once you are out of the game, you don't get to respawn. You are just done.

And although finances are akin to life, there are some crucial differences. With finances, you can respawn…maybe.

You need the resources and the time…and you need to know how much you can lose before you cross the point of no return.


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