Fighting the Unknown
Woke up to the weekend on Friday the 13th. Timed the alarm for the pre-open market session of 15 minutes almost anticipating a bloodbath in Indian bourses. Within 15 minutes, the market opened to a massive drop in both the main indices almost emulating the previous day’s Dow and S&P and a couple of negative reports over a strengthening adversary. I was glued to the ticker and within seconds I could see the pack of cards fall by 100bps every 3–5 seconds and bang it froze for 45 minutes. It was a feeling like never before as for the first time I have experienced a circuit getting triggered in my investing career. It was one of those rare unpleasant occurrences when you realize that you are poorer by 20–30% in a matter of minutes. I opened my twitter account as part of my daily ritual to see what Social media investors/traders think. Some called for temporary shut down of stock markets while others thought a ban on short-selling would do. Understandable, when your portfolio book-value drops 30–40% in a matter of minutes. Though the market had a happy ending for the day on short covering, I started to turn pages back to the GFC of 2008 when the last circuit breaker got triggered. Spoke to few of my trader friends in India to understand if these times (of unbattered slump) have any precedents. The answer was NO.
Having extensively studied GFC and the Great depression during my college, I realized that this isn’t a knee-jerk panic but a special situation where the investors and the whole humanity are fighting an unknown enemy. Leaving markets aside, the panic for medicines, masks, toilet papers, canned food, groceries, Cash etc. pipped my imagination. It feels like a Hollywood movie just short of army tanks and burglaries. What do we owe this panic for? Are we overreacting? The answer is NO again.
We are fighting an enemy that laws and regulations cannot hold accountable. An enemy that carries no reason nor rationale but to spread its race. As human beings, we are inherently smart and can sense real trouble, contrary to popular opinion of armchair intellectuals and social media celebrities. We are wired to expect the unexpected and sense trouble. We fear a future that stares at oblivion given the hostile atmosphere with too many whatsapp based microbiologists imparting free and conflicting education. We fear being stalled by the very ultra-microscopic beings we thought we had good complete control over via technology and know-how. We fear knowing very little in the vastness of this world.
It took locked down nations, tanking markets, job losses, failing and falling businesses for people to wake up to the fact that we are inherently selfish beings and we have been hiding behind the facade of a social life. We are descendants of the early human race which hunted for its survival before caring for others. Today, we have to follow the very early human instincts to fight against this unprecedented enemy and not let our adversary to take advantage of our emotional weaknesses.
This is one battle we can’t fight in hordes but by being alone.
Stay Selfish, Stay home!
“Do not go gentle into that goodnight. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” — Dylan Thomas