A moderately disappointing thing about investing is that nicely crafted portfolios ought to be a largely boring experience.
I recently re-read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. If you’re not familiar, it’s a short memoir by a Jewish psychiatrist who survived four different concentration camps during the Holocaust. I highly recommend a read.
In Part II, Frankl defines what he calls “the existential vacuum”:
No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. . .
The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom.
Am I crazy for thinking that this nearly perfectly encapsulates the insanity of investing in the 21st century?
Investors float along in a strange internet vacuum. His instinct is probably wrong, his traditions & theories are weakly held, and his goals are poorly defined; “Sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do”.
And, crudely, my depiction of the sine wave of experiencing different return distributions:
I would like to think that I’m able to pull investors out of an existential vacuum of saving & investing with no instinct, directions, or tradition, but I do fear that I put a few of them to sleep.
I aspire to be less boring in communication, but I hold steady to the belief that solid investment strategies might come off as pretty dull.