Monday, August 3, 2009

The heavenly motions of the markets

It is always hard to argue against a bull market. And against science. And against the animal spirits.

Sir Isaac Newton, the genius of his age (science-wise, that is), lost extravagantly on South Sea stock by buying, selling, and then getting back into the market just before its collapse. His conclusion:
I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.
James D. Stein states in his book How Math Explains the World:
The first and second laws of thermodynamics seem to appear in so many diverse environments that they have become part of our collective understanding of life: the first law says you can't win, and the second law says that it's not possible to break even.
And to put things in some perspective, a pertinent observation from, where else?, Barron's:
The rally of 2009 marches on. We're told it was the best five-month stretch for the Dow since 1938. For the Standard & Poor's 500, there hadn't been as spiffy a July performance since 1997. That is, until one checks where the S&P stood at the end of that July of '97: at 954, versus 987 today — just a 3% rise, after a 12-year slog.

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