Knowledge and Wisdom

Posted on January 25, 2017 · Posted in Newsletters

Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now – Bob Dylan, “My Back Pages”, 1964

2016 was a year of unexpected results.  In one of several unusual outcomes this year, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  While the decision was criticized by many, praised by a few and expected by no one, including Mr. Dylan himself, it was explained that literature evolves and that poetry had long ago been sung.  Maybe they thought that this award completed the circle.

For the loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin’. – Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changin’”, 1964

This time last year, the markets were falling and many pundits were again calling for a bear market.  Remember, market commentators are always called upon for predictions and they happily supply them.  In the end, the market turned in a very acceptable return and value stocks, which had been underperformers for several years, shined.  This paragraph could have been about the Cubs’ 2016 campaign.  The one thing that binds the Cubs and the stock market is numbers and statistics.  Stock markets, while volatile, tend to move in tandem with economic and corporate profit growth over long periods of time.  Success in baseball is also based on a disciplined approach to data.  One of the main ‘players’ in Moneyball that we wrote about a couple of years ago, Theo Epstein, is now with the Cubs employing his statistical methods with reasonably predictable outcomes.

But to live outside the law, you must be honest.  – Dylan, “Sweet Marie”, 1966

We all suffer through the required blood draws that accompany medical procedures and physicals.  Some better than others.  Theranos, a company founded by a 19-year-old Stanford dropout named Elizabeth Holmes promised a better experience.  The company claimed that it had developed a machine that could process all of the requisite tests with just a few drops of blood via a pin prick.  Wall Street bought into it, Walgreens began to roll it out and Ms. Holmes was soon worth $4.5 billion dollars.  Unfortunately, it appears that the company may have been doctoring the research and there is a swelling number of lawsuits.  Needless-to-say, events in 2016 have knocked Ms. Holmes off Forbes’ list.  Maybe she should have listened to Bob more during her brief stint at Stanford.

It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart. – Dylan, “Idiot Wind”, 1975

In June of 2016, Britain shocked the world with its vote to leave the EU.  After a precipitous drop creating losses of about $2 trillion in global stock markets in one day, markets bounded back.  As we wrote in our 2nd Quarter Newsletter, this was a relationship that dated back to the ‘50s in one state or another.  To some degree, this was part referendum on British identity and part protest movement capturing the dissatisfaction with stagnant incomes and rising immigration.  This is a theme that would continue in an Italian referendum in the fall.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  – Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, 1965

A great quote that can be spun many ways.  We’ll leave this one to you.