Advice From A Century Ago

It’s hard to know even what to say this morning. I’ve heard that “every bull market is the same, but every bear market is different” because they are triggered by a unique economic disasters. That’s certainly the case now as I fear the market will open today with another 1000 point drop based on the DJIA futures.

While these are unique times, they are causing many to read up on the Spanish Flu of 1918. An amazing 675,000 Americans perished in that pandemic – among an astounding 30-50 million worldwide. I found this newspaper clipping from October 1918 online this weekend …

Some of the advice is the same as we are hearing now. Some of it is a bit colloquial. One of the most interesting comments is the last one about conveying the flu to “profiteers” to “put them out of business.” Even 102 years ago, people weren’t too happy with those that took advantage of others’ misfortune.

Perhaps it’s helpful to be reminded that the Spanish Flu and WWI were followed by the prosperous ‘Roaring 1920s’. While the markets look hopeless now – and businesses are getting shut down for as much as 2 months – this too shall pass once it’s run it’s devastating course.

The only advice I have that is not included in the old clipping is to simply help each other out if you can. We are all in this together. If you are already FIRE’d (financially independent & retired early) it’s maybe a great chance to be a good neighbor for folks that are balancing a job, kids home from school, or older folks who can’t get to the store very easily. I posted my willingness to be the neighborhood ‘errand boy’ on our community Facebook page last night.

If that’s not your thing or you aren’t able to – then stay home, take it easy, and enjoy some cornbread!

Image Credit: Pixabay

9 thoughts on “Advice From A Century Ago

  1. My financial advisor confirmed for me this morning that “we can not trade our way out of this.” So our investments, as well as my wife and I, are under self-quarantine for the foreseeable future, hoping and praying that our loved ones, community, and world are safe. May God have mercy upon us all.

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    1. I went to the grocery store today, but that’s about it. We did sell a big mutual fund holding at a loss for tax harvesting. Bought a different fund a minute later.

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      1. Our annual rebalancing actions were taken in January. So we’re hanging on tight now for a wild ride into the unprecedented. One of my (many) mottos is: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

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      2. I looked into rebalancing, but I was already tipped a bit to stocks after a string 2019. Did you notice that GIS is UP today? Sold some options …

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    1. I’m certainly a big fan of the ‘bucketed risk’ approach. Surprised he says it will gain ‘new converts’. Seems pretty basic / common sense, but then again most Americans don’t even have a $500 emergency fund.

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  2. I moved from 85% securities in August down to 60%. That rose as the market did, but I have no idea of the mix today. That mix is my non IRA and 457 accounts. My deferred accounts still have 80% securities. I am 57 with no mortgage and a pension. My fixed costs, or four walls if you will cost less than half of my pension. Next year my wife will be able to pull her full Social Security, but we won’t need it. I also consult 10 to 20 weeks per year as it is fun without headaches, the money is gravy and allows for fancy travel. The security of the nest egg which I view as generational money, for our children, current and future grandchildren and their offspring, allows us the freedom to not get overly twisted about this mess. Note that I have not looked at our balance but I continue to read the Wall Street Journal print edition daily.

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    1. Our ‘Four Walls’ are pretty low, too. Like you, we’ve had no debt or mortgage for about 7 years. I’m too young to tap into my pension yet, but we could easily cover our basics with that in a couple years.

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