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Sometimes We All Need to Wear a Cone

I am convinced that animals have a lot to teach humans, both on purpose and accidentally.  This is Moose, our 2-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog.  He is a full-grown puppy that moans in delight when you come home.  He began eating socks as a puppy and we have found several socks in the yard that have made it to the “other side”.  Recently though, Moose met his match with a tube sock.  One surgery later, we have been living with the dreaded cone of shame.  The round plastic cone serves to keep the dog from licking the wound which can cause all sorts of new issues.  The cone also is great for crashing into your shins and bludgeoning your walls and furniture.  

Moose is not a fan of the cone and looks quite sad when we must reinsert his head into the cone after a brief respite for eating.  His instinct tells him to lick his wound to help fix it, but of course, he is not really helping anything.  The cone prevents him from his instinctual behavior and allows his wound to heal, unbeknownst to him.  

As I was consoling Moose recently for looking so pitiful, the thought occurred to me about how people sometimes need cones in their financial lives.  Our instinctual behavior often prods us to do things that we think are good but can cause all sorts of problems down the road.  Some examples along with advice from Moose:

  1. Breaking all rules when we get scared – We like to coach people to think “long term”.  We all know that investing is uncertain in the near term, but that great companies who provide amazing products tend to be successful investments.  Even with that basic knowledge, when things get uncertain there is something that convinces us that we need to take action to avoid more pain.  As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”  Moose recommends being unemotional and disciplined…and not eating socks.

  2. Failing to plan for things we know will happen – Sorry to turn this article towards the negative, but we will all die at some point.  Not many people want to discuss that fact, and many people put off the prudent steps of protecting their family through insurance and some basic end of life planning (wills, powers of attorney, etc.) merely because they do not want to recognize this reality.  Moose says just do it and do not eat socks while doing so.  

  3. Thinking that we can accurately figure out complex things – The global economy is a classic complex system, one where there are so many inputs and seemingly unconnected intricacies that predicting its behavior is incredibly difficult.  Yet, anytime we have a presidential election many people become prediction experts about what candidate X will mean to the economic future of the country.  Moose wants to remind you that markets were set to crash before Trump and Biden were each elected according to the consensus.  He suggests inserting your head in a cone come the fall of 2024 as protection.  Hold on, he says to add one for mid-term elections in 2022 too.

On behalf of Moose, I wish you continued cone-free living.  You will never think you need one until you realize you in fact do.  At PYA Waltman, we try to help people avoid wearing “financial cones” by being proactive and disciplined in our planning process.  Moose would surely approve; however, he probably still thinks eating socks is a good idea.

The opinions expressed are those of PYA Waltman Capital, LLC. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. Forward looking statements cannot be guaranteed. 

PYA Waltman Capital, LLC (“PYAW”) is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about PYAW’s services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.  PYA-21-26