I just finished reading Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science Humanism and Progress,” which lays out the evidence that, by objective measures, the world is as good a place today as it has ever been. He argues that if newspapers came out every 50 years as opposed to every millisecond on our smart phones, the headlines would be almost universally positive. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of Dr. Pinker’s interpretations, it’s hard to argue his facts about the progress that the world has made over the last 200.
So why discuss this in a column on investing? Because of the core finding that progress and wealth creation have gone hand in hand for the last two centuries.
Investing, especially in stocks, is a long-term proposition and so much of your willingness to hold onto your equities should depend on whether or not you believe that progress will continue. If it does, the markets will likely continue to reach new highs, if not tomorrow then in 5, 10 or 20 years. The contrary is equally true—if you...
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