Weekly

Hang On—It’s Too Late to Sell

In the financial world, we talk about something called a black swan. This is an unforeseen event, something that has never happened in the past, so there is no real precedent for how traders and investors should react to it.

The coronavirus and the ongoing fallout were black swans. Nobody was prepared. The markets keep falling because people tend to cash out when they don’t know what else to do.

Stock market history is filled with black swans. Many people thought the Y2K bug would wipe out life as we knew it. But the expected havoc never happened because a bunch of tech-savvy people prepared for it. That wasn’t a black swan. But the Tech Wreck that arrived a little over a year later, which saw technology stocks soar and crash, was.

What’s the next black swan? No one knows, and that’s kind of the point. All we know is that there will be one. And that it will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Which means: You have to conduct your financial life in a way that you’re prepared for anything.

After all, black swans don’t just swim away. Unforeseen events tend to have extreme outcomes.

At this point, it’s clear the US is going to have a recession. That’s inescapable. It’s going to result in a global recession and possibly something worse. The good news is it should be relatively short-lived.

Once this passes, and it will, my guess is there will be a lot of pent-up demand for investments, and things will return to normal fairly quickly. But right now, everything is repricing—stocks, bonds, everything.

So, how do you protect yourself? When things get really bad, the only hedge is cash. It’s the only thing that’s not going down.

Even gold is going down, and gold is supposed to go up in a crisis. Why? There are a lot of hedge funds out there, and they have an array of positions. They’re losing money on some positions, so they have to sell the winners to raise cash to pay for the losses. So gold hasn’t been a good place to hide.

Neither has Bitcoin—all these places that were supposed to be safe have not been good places to hide. Right now, the only place to hide is in cash.

If you owned a bunch of stocks before the coronavirus crisis walloped the markets, you’re hurting right now. You’re also probably wondering if you should cut your risk and sell.

Here’s my opinion:

  • It is too late to sell.

  • But it’s too early to buy.

The time will come to deploy your cash, if you have it, and buy stocks. Because there’s all kinds of bargains out there, but it’s still too early.

For now, if you have the capital, the courage, and the conviction, you can start thinking about the undervalued assets you want to buy.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian