Chapter 4

Swimming against the Current1

Source: © FactSet Research Systems.


We have all made it through the minefields of the last two years looking much more gifted than we actually are, waving aside both pans and plaudits as a matter of course, taking neither seriously.

We must admit that we find it easier to seize an opportunity in the face of generalized fear than to resist temptation while under the seductive and almost irresistible forces of unsubstantiated and illogical greed fomented out of fear of falling behind the pack. The consequences of miscalculations or emotions run amok in the first instance are far less significant than those associated with the latter, as a surfeit of baneful evidence has made abundantly clear in this increasingly pervasive down-cycle of the markets. We tend to frame such judgments in mathematical terms. Even though there is only one correct answer, some wrong answers are closer to being correct than others. Nonetheless, running counter to the majority is a day-in, day-out test of will, determination, and convictions.

Gazing backward even farther than a year for a moment, 1999 was particularly hard for us to comprehend or endure because of the unconscious allure of the rampant speculative contagion, the clamor from every direction for action, the epidemic of euphoria over ever-rising prices in already grossly overpriced technology and dot-com ...

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