What Is Valued Can Change Rapidly
By Laif Meidell, CMT, president of American Wealth Management, and portfolio manager of the AdvisorShares Meidell Tactical Advantage ETF (MATH)
In 1910, British explorer Robert Scott and his team set out to be the first to reach the South Pole in what was called the Terra Nova Expedition. When Scott’s party reached the South Pole on Jan. 17, 1912, they found that Norwegians had arrived 34 days ahead of them. Two months later, Scott and his team perished during their march back to base camp, due to bad weather and failed resupply efforts. His body and those of his team are encased in ice on the Ross Ice Shelf.
One of the members of the expedition who made it back to England was Apsley Cherry-Garrard. His purpose for going on the expedition was scientific — specifically, he was to gather emperor penguin eggs from a rookery in the middle of the Antarctic winter. At the time, Charles Darwin’s theories were still inspiring naturalists to examine embryos of all species.
Gerrard was successful in gathering the eggs, and presented them to London’s Natural History Museum upon his return. However, during the two years Gerrard had been away, theories about evolution had changed and the pursuit of analyzing embryonic versions of anything was now considered a waste of time. Sadly, no one was interested in the emperor penguin eggs anymore regardless of the sacrifices made to retrieve them. Fittingly, it was Gerrard who wrote the popular account of the journey, titled, “The Worst Journey in the World.”
As Gerrard found out, paradigms and beliefs structures quite often change, even in the investment world. Though we strive to understand what moves the markets in order to manage risk, perspectives can and do change, such that what was considered of value one day may be less so the next. Think of the recent plunge in the price of oil. Sometimes what we thought we knew can resemble a few hard-earned emperor penguin eggs.
The beautiful part of markets is that they adapt and change in order to ensure their survival. This week, the bond market is experiencing its own change, as investors purchase lower-quality bonds over the higher-quality Treasuries they have pursued the past five months. The leading bond index this week is the Barclay’s U.S. Convertible bond index, gaining 1.80 percent over the past five trading days.
This commentary originally published in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Performance numbers used in this article were obtained through eSignal and are not guaranteed to be accurate.