Money on Monday: Bear Totem teaches us introspection and inspiration and steadiness
In terms of economic symbols, bears and bulls--bears generally indicate a down market and bulls an up one. But in animal totem symbolism, bears--one of my strongest totem animals--are powerful in a number of ways.
In Native American thought, bears are the symbol of introspection, inspiration and rebirth. As bears hibernate, they go inward to their deepest recesses and emerge in the spring reborn so to speak.
Female bears emerge more fruitful than ever--personally reborn and having born offspring. After their period of hibernation and introspection, they emerge having shed weight--they are slim, fit and ready to go. All the old baggage we drag around with us can be shed in a bear market.
We can review all our investments and see where we can make them in line with our values; make our money walk our talk so to speak. In Celtic iconography, bears are the symbol of the fierce mother, ready at all odds to protect their offspring. SO while this period seems devastating emotionally, we can follow the bear, protect ourselves by staying calm unlike runaway bulls which are dangerous in their excitibality as we can readily see!
Bears teach us about change.
And it is REALLY clear that not only are we already going through a period of change, but that we can change ourselves to bring forth some new ways of doing things that are more in line with our values.
Colin Powell talked about Obama being a transformational figure.
I think that this election and this market a re less about politics and economics than about a sea change in how we live. And I don't mean meanly. I think we will be living better and better, but differently. My bear innards tell me that as a nation and as individuals we will enjoy a more peaceful and more strongly connected life. We will enjoy the riches of friendship and art and good nutritious food. We will have enough, because ENOUGH is what is important--rather than all you can get.
Below is a wonderful letter from my financial manager Thomas Britt.
I hope you will be further calmed by Tom's steady and composed tone. As well as his solid advice.
I wanted to reach out to you today, as the events of the past week and month have been extraordinary.
During such times, when panic is running rampant, I always revert back to basics and the core of our strategy in managing risk.
Here are a number of things I wish to reiterate with you:
· We have no more than 1.5% exposure to any 1 company.
· We have over 40% in cash, bonds and other fixed income securities with additional cash being held by the funds and these assets have been less impacted by recent market gyrations.
· Our diversification across assets, styles and managers have resulted in measurably less risk/loss than broader markets and many of the managers are starting to put their cash to work by buying attractive companies at oversold prices – smart money is starting to buy now.
· Our employed mangers continue to serve us well when measured against their peers and they have been selected because of their consistence over longer periods of time.
When markets bottom things are always ugly, despair sets in and humans tend to make reactionary decisions.
Our premise is that the world is not ending and that this time is not different from previous bear markets in that cool heads will look back at this time and see the benefits of staying on track with their strategies.
I do not know when we will see a more normal market environment or the proverbial “bottom”, but I do believe it will be sooner than “everyone” thinks, as the herd is never correct in stressful situations. When we hit bottom, we will likely see a very strong and quick rebound and we want to be invested. This does not mean we will be heading back to where we were at the beginning of the year, however, we should see a very significant ‘pop’.
I am always reminded of Warren Buffett’s quote when the sky feels like it is falling; “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it”.
Be Well, Be Sane.
Thomas J. Britt, MBA CIMA
Wealth Management Advisor
Benchmark Wealth Management
"Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell." Sir John templeton 1994
Some final thoughts about a bear market vs a bull market that Tom's comments called to mind.
Bears tend not to travel in herds as do bulls and other bovines.
Bears are very very smart and are very resourceful. Bulls go along with the thundering herd. So keep your head and don't go along with the herd that now wants to sell sell sell, but think and be judicious. Bears can find the sweetest honey even in a swarm of stinging bees.