“Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only” – Walt Whitman
I recently read “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize ten years ago and for me it couldn’t have been more timely as we head into the breathless media coverage of the upcoming election. A mash up of brain science and anthropology, the book examines the history of media starting with the transition from an oral tradition to the written word and Gutenberg’s printing press and continuing through radio and television to the current Internet age. Its general premise is that the media we consume shapes the way we think and it’s a fascinating idea to consider.
We now live in a world that offers a 24/7 “always on” bounty of information and social opportunity at our fingertips. Each morning we awake to a flood of news and opinion as well as a chance to connect with hundreds or even thousands of friends through pictures and updates posted on social media. We can watch daily stock price moves, read company and economic news from around the globe, and get an opinion on just about anything from countless tweets, blogs, and other sources of real-time commentary. On one hand we’ve never been more connected and incredibly “rich” in what’s available to us. On the other, Mr. Carr wonders if we haven’t sacrificed some depth even as we’ve gained immense breadth in our knowledge and relationships.
It’s provided a good opportunity to ponder the question and think about how it relates to our work here at Tschetter Group. How do we leverage technology to connect with you and provide useful information in a way that is convenient and accessible without losing the human connection we treasure? How do we best harness the phenomenal power of the Internet to bring relevant data and information into our investment decisions without letting a flood of short-term oriented (and often useless) noise distract us from our long-term disciplined approach that we see as more valuable than ever in helping clients build their wealth and meet their goals? Our clear hope is to blaze a path that continually honors our most prized human qualities, including the ability to relate and think deeply when we engage your planning conversations and investment decisions. Our newest team member Amy demonstrated it beautifully in her intro letter “Your Story Matters” in late August. We know that each of you, whether a long-time client or brand new friend of the firm, represents a unique story with depth and nuance shaped by past experiences and filled with vast potential.
As we move into these final months of 2020, we anticipate that the noise level in the media and market will get pretty loud leading up to and following the U.S. presidential election. Dick outlined well our stance as we head into this period a couple of weeks ago when we began to see the political rhetoric and market volatility heat up. While we don’t dismiss the discouraging current state of politics or the importance of strong leadership for the smooth functioning of our economy and markets, we would point out that election outcomes tend to be less relevant for markets when measured over a long period of time and we’re best served staying the course with good investments even if we must endure some near-term turbulence. Finally, with the recent return to a near zero rate environment, we’ve been scouring the market for opportunities to improve the income prospects in our bond/income strategy while maintaining safety, inflation protection, and an appropriate level of liquidity. Stay tuned – we think we have some good ideas and our clients will be hearing more from us on that front soon. And of course please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the market, our strategies, or your portfolio.
It’s already been a heck of a year and whatever the coming months bring, let’s choose to keep our bows pointed toward deeper and calmer waters. It’s there that we can keep our optimism intact even as we may be tempted to distraction or discouragement by the news of the day or hour.
As always we wish you and yours the best, knowing good things are ahead and looking forward to our next opportunity to connect!