Behavioral Finance

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Read Poetry

A poetic guide to surviving market volatility.

Usually, we use the “Headlines” space for commentary on individual articles, but today, we saw one so great and timely we thought it deserved prime real estate, especially with market volatility continuing.

If you haven’t followed Ken Fisher’s writings over the years, you may not be aware of his fondness for Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”—a fondness your friendly MarketMinder editors share. Though Kipling conceived “If” as a life manual for his son, it is also something of a manual for investors. As Ken once wrote in Forbes: “Google it and you will see that it is a poem about self-control and stoicism. If I feel uneasy, I think about ‘If.’ It’s … great for investors, parents, teens and CEOs. I certainly try to apply its principles to my stock picking. ‘If’ discipline is the cornerstone of a sound investment strategy.”

And so it is! We can think of no better advice for surviving market volatility than “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.” Sometimes, success requires you to “force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone.” Back in March 2009, at the financial crisis’s depths, “hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on,’” was a small beacon of hope.

Today, Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig took this to the next level, rewriting the entire poem as a how-to guide for surviving market volatility. If you have a subscription, please hop straight over there and give it a read. We found it delightful and think it deserves a place on every investor’s fridge, ideally beside a copy of Kipling’s original. For those who don’t have a subscription, here is a small taste:

If, reading headlines like ‘Stocks Fall on Fears of Rising Rates,’

You recall ‘experts’ saying only last week that rate rises are good,

And know there’s little the human mind so deeply hates

As the movement of markets that can’t be understood;

Yours is the Market and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be an Investor, my friend!


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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.