The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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On Death and Investing

One of the most important books I’ve ever read was the iconic “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1997.  She demonstrated that there are normal emotional stages after hearing a terminal diagnosis.  It is a useful exercise.

Naturally, Dr. Kubler-Ross’s perspective on predictable emotions related to death is useful for other life events.  Mark Hulbert of MarketWatch has written the very useful “Five Stages of Bear Market Grief” which are:

1.  Denial – Stock market weakness is a buying opportunity.
2.  Anger – Denial morphs into anger, investors rail against the unfairness of the pullback.  A hallmark of this stage:  investors see the pullback as a personal affront.
3.  Bargaining – Investors redirect their energies to determining whether they can maintain their lifestyle, despite the hit to their portfolio.
4.  Depression – Realization sets in that “cutting the fat” isn’t going to be enough;  major lifestyle changes will be required.
5.  Acceptance – Investors give up, viewing any sign of market strength as a sucker’s rally.

With the S&P 500 down almost 18% so far this year, it may feel like a terminal diagnosis, but it is far more likely to simply be the flu . . . a normal seasonal flu . . . and  certainly not bird-flu . . . nor Covid!