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#TBT 2008 Newsletter Volume 67

Two years ago, on a crisp fall day, Nancy suggested we have an office lunch at the state fair. We stood in line salivating over the smells of funnel cakes and other deep fried foods waiting for our turn to order. We dined on all the finest of fair foods: chicken on a stick, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes and, yes, funnel cake. We washed it down with sugar-loaded lemonade and snow cones. 

 

Needless to say, we went overboard. That afternoon, back at the office, we bemoaned our bellies and soldiered through an exhausting sugar crash. 

 

Well, the state fair is back in town, but this year, like last year, we're staying away. That sugar crash is still too fresh in our minds.

 

Our throwback today is to the Fall of 2009. A different type of crash was fresh in Nancy's mind back then. Here's a look back at that time eight years ago with Nancy's newsletter from September and October 2009.

 

 

 

I have a fear of heights. It's legendary in my family. I don't like standing on the edge of a wind-swept cliff. I don't like The Empire State Building or tall bridges. I don't even like ferris wheels.

 

Put me high in the air and my irrational anxiety kicks in. I sweat. My heart races. There is no relief until I get back to sea level.

 

A few years ago, we spent a week at Hilton Head, South Carolina. One day, we decided to drive the back roads and make our way to Savannah. After an hour of travel, we rounded the corner and saw the HUGE cable bridge crossing the Savannah River. I insisted Ken pull over.

 

He tried talking me out of my fear and over that bridge. He suggested I close my eyes. He promised to keep both hands on the wheel. He assured me it was perfectly safe. Nothing worked. I knew there was no way I could cross that bridge.

 

So we turned back and took the interstate into Savannah, a path with nice, low bridges. Two hours later, we stood at the base of the cable bridge. My husband lamented, "We were SO close!"

 

 

 

Last year at this time, I was in a fetal position under my desk. The stock market was in a meltdown, and investors were looking for safe havens. But the only safe place for money was in a  jar in the backyard.

 

So, when Fall rolled around, I felt my anxiety rise to uncomfortable levels. The question on investors' minds was, "Would it, could it happen again?"

 

John Bogle, found of The Vanguard Group, wrote about financial meltdowns and the theory of the black swan. Black swans are rare. In fact, if you've never seen a black swan, you might say it was impossible. They just don't exist.

 

And black swan events are big. They shake us to the core and change our view of the world. After the black swan passes, we study history for signs. We try to make sense of this big, rare event.

 

Bogle wrote about black swans in March, 2008, before the meltdown occurred. Unlike Wall Street, he was looking for a black swan.

 

The question is "Could it happen again?" It could, but remember, black swans are rare. We've made it through September, and October is winding down. All indicators point to continued improvement, but there are no guarantees. For now, we live with our fear and hope it doesn't paralyze us.

 

--Nancy's New Perspectives newsletter, Volume 67, September, October 2009

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