Guest Column: Where now, bullish Dow?

Chicago Tribune

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, March 6:

In February 2007, the Dow Jones industrial average signaled the tumult to come. After closing at a record high of 12,767 on Feb. 16, the Dow flopped 416 points on Feb. 27. This page tried to soothe shocked investors with a prediction that we guaranteed, in writing, to be infallible: Someday the Dow will indeed close at its final record high. Feb. 16, 2007, wasn’t the day.

The Dow did reach higher highs in subsequent months. Then a deep plummet drove the impatient, the disgusted and the fearful from the market.

We recalled that boom and bust Tuesday as the Dow closed at its latest zenith, 14,254. Having proven our infallibility once, we’re tempted to issue another infallible prediction now, this one ending: … March 5, 2013 wasn’t the day.

We might add, though, that Dow highs, like pride, tend to goeth before a fall. Markets guarantee only one investment return: turbulence.

How to survive the ride? Perpetual patience always prevails. Albert O. Nicholas, the Milwaukee brain behind the Nicholas funds investment group, once shared this wisdom with a Chicago reporter at the end of an interview about market volatility:

“Two-thirds of the time, stocks are going up,” Nicholas said, approximately. “One-third of the time, they’re going down. Don’t try to guess which third is which.”

Nerves-of-steel investors who live by that credo, who didn’t flee stocks during the Great Recession, got their vindication Tuesday. And the future? Once more:

Don’t try to guess which third is which.