Long time Outside the Box readers are quite familiar with Dr. John Hussman, as he is a frequent choice for this column. But this week I think he has written one of his bests essays ever. He cleverly weaves in quotes from a Zen master who is his friend and gives us a very fresh look at market analysis. This is a thought piece and you should set aside some time to absorb the lessons. You will be well rewarded. Zen Lessons in Market Analysis
By John P. Hussman, Ph.D.
“The best way of preparing for the future is to take good care of the present, because we know that if the present is made up of the past, then the future will be made up of the present. All we need to be responsible for is the present moment. Only the present is within our reach. To care for the present is to care for the future.”
This week’s comment is dedicated to my dear friend Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was born on October 11, 1926, having been born previously in January of that same year, and twice again about 25 years earlier, not to mention countless other times through his ancestors, teachers, and other non-Thich Nhat Hanh elements. Thay (the Vietnamese word for “teacher”) would simplify this by saying that today is his eighty-third “continuation day,” because to say it is his birthday is not very accurate.
If the quote at the top of this page looks somewhat familiar to our long-term shareholders, it may be because the practice of tending to the present moment – responding to prevailing conditions rather than relying on forecasts – is central to our investment discipline.
Focusing on the present moment doesn’t imply ignoring the past or failing to consider the future. It’s clear, for example, that we put a great deal of attention on estimating future cash flows and discounting them appropriately in order to evaluate whether various investments are priced to deliver satisfactory long-term returns. We certainly devote our attention to macroeconomic pressures and latent risks that threaten to become full-blown crises later. Still, we rarely make near term forecasts. Nor do we answer surveys like “where do you think the S&P 500 will be at year-end?” – a question that falls entirely outside of our way of thinking – like asking Columbus what sort of trees he thinks are planted along the edge of the Earth. The reason we avoid forecasts, very simply, is that they are not required, and that they can be a hindrance.
…..read much more HERE.