The Times, They Are A-Changing

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Forty years ago, poet Bob Dylan wrote a song that echoes a universal theme, the idea of constant change. One may trace this concept through all of history, from the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, India and China down to our day. Dylan’s lyrics borrow from both the Bible and Aesop’s fables.

Yet there is a tension between constant change and our very human tendency to believe that current conditions and trends will continue. It is appealing to believe that we can know the future by extending past trends. When gasoline first hit $4 per gallon a few years ago, the media was full of predictions that the price would rise to $7.

We call this tendency “straight line thinking” because it involves looking back over a limited time to identify a straight line that can be extended into the future. Gasoline was $1.50 in 2002 and $4 in 2008; anybody could see the trend and many concluded that $7 gas was coming.

Yet nature abhors straight lines. When you open up your view to take in a longer time frame, you see cycles of up-down, up-down. Like the tides or the seasons, cycles seem to offer a more useful way to think about the world.

So our quest is to find good values, bargains, that may be due for a change in direction as the cycle turns. This contrarian method of investing is no guarantee of success. All of our clients have had the experience of owning a supposed bargain that became cheaper or even much cheaper. Yet it is the most promising way to approach investing, in our opinion.

Why is this? The first one now will later be last, the slow one now will later be fast, and the times… they are a-changing.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.