Uneven Playing Field

Volatility in a Sideways Market

History doesn't repeat itself—but it rhymes.

–Mark Twain

Their future was uncertain. After a long day at a girls’ volleyball tournament, an exhausted daughter and her father were headed back to their hotel room late that night. Much to their displeasure, it looked like a large crowd in the ground floor elevator lobby would surely delay them as they waited their turn for a lift up to their room. After all, the father (and maybe his daughter, too) needed rest before heading back for more volleyball early the next morning.

Drawing upon experience as a subway commuter, the father summoned an old trick—sometimes you need to go backward before you can go forward. When subway lines were long for trains headed in his direction, he would catch the first train going in the opposite direction, get off at the first stop, and switch over to the next train headed in his intended direction. Once on the train, he knew he was on his way home, as he had already secured a spot on what was becoming an overcrowded subway car while others at his original embarkation point are left behind to wait for another train.

Although the father and daughter simply wanted to retire to their room on the 22nd floor, the father led his daughter to get on the first elevator, which was heading down, not up. The throngs waiting to go up had no problem allowing the father and daughter through in order to board the elevator going down one floor to the basement ...

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