I had been watching the stock market obsessively for over 3 months – furtively stealing glances at CNBC every hour at work, listening to ‘Marketplace’ every evening and surfing a handful of financial web sites between guitar practice on the weekends. What did I learn?
1) The market had no confidence in the Bush administration
2) It has even less confidence in the Obama administration
3) No one – from the pundits to the traders to (seemingly) the Fed chairman – has any idea how bad this is going to be or when we’re going to get out of it
The voices predicting a rally grew steadily weaker as each surge in the market crumbled under the weight of fear and uncertainty. As I watched my share price drop from $21 to $12.50, I found myself traversing that famous mental path through denial (It will come back!), anger (But I was just about to finally realize The Dream!) and bargaining (I’ll cash out when the Dow goes back to 9,000 – we still get more than we put in) to acceptance (Eh, it was all just paper wealth anyway. Let's order out for Chinese!).
The breaking point came when I read that ‘the charts’ were predicting the Dow would fall below 6,000. It was bad enough that I knew what ‘the charts’ were (too boring to recount); the fear that my money would completely dry up and blow away had finally became unbearable. I was tired of tracking the markets, numb from all the bad news, sick of the prognosticators and weary of the punditry. I finally ‘capitulated’, as the talking heads call it: I took my money and ran.
I know what you're thinking: But wait! You’ve locked in your losses! This is the time to buy, not sell! Stocks are always a good investment in the long run!
Meh. I never trusted the market to begin with, and I’m done.
...And the surprising thing is that I feel really good about it! Now at least I know my budget: A very modest $24,276, plus any interest (at 2%) that accumulates and any nickels I find under the couch. I don’t have to tell the three of you that clearing the land, building a cabin, digging a well and putting in septic at this price is going to require a lot of sweat equity on my part, a rift in the time/space continuum and infinite patience from the LSW. Should be a fun year!