Moving Away From Family

All four authors of this blog are CFP® professionals working for fee-only registered investment advisory firms. That is what our blog and study group is about. However, an additional commonality is that we all moved to a new state in order to start out job. As a result, we often talk about the challenges living in a new area as well.

Moving to a new state can be intimidating. Sometimes my friends from high school who have not moved away from home comment how they could never do so because they would miss their family too much. That is a valid argument but one that, in my experience, does not have to be true. I am closer with my family now that I live in a different state than compared to when I lived with them. I call my grandmother about once a week. I write letters to my aunt. I text my uncle about the Buffalo Sabres games. I frequently speak with my parents on the phone and exchange emails with my mother. Proximity does not equal closeness and lack of proximity does not equal distance as it relates to family relationships. By making an effort to keep in touch with family, I have become closer with them despite the distance of living apart. 

Others may have different circumstances. Talking on the phone is certainly not the same as seeing someone in person. However, for those who might be hesitant to move away for fear of missing family, I would encourage them to consider the possibility that it might actually bring them closer together. That has been my experience.

The Importance of Reading to Gain Perspective

I am currently reading The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastion Mallaby. An 800 page book about a 20th century economist and central banker would understandably not interest most people. I am really enjoying it however, and I think it is a book that those in the financial industry should read. This is because The Man Who Knew is incredibly valuable in the perspective it provides.

It is easy to lose perspective and get caught up in the day-to-day. It is easy to think that every issue is new and that each event that happens to us is the most significant thing. However, this is simply not the case. Ryan Holiday notes the following:

Perhaps the reason you're having trouble is you forgot the purpose of reading. It’s not just for fun. Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you. Save yourself the trouble of learning from trial and error–find that point. Benefit from that perspective.

A recent example would be the Dow Jones Industrial Average pass 20,000 for the first time ever. A big deal right? Well, maybe not so much. Morgan Housel and Michael Batnick observed that for the Dow to reach 2,000,000 in this century, it needs to compound at 5.7%. Considering the Dow has grown 7.14% a year for the last 75 years, this is certainly possible. 

This is why books like The Man Who Knew, When Genius Failed, The Match King, Barbarians at the Gate, and America’s Bank are important. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Circumstances do change, and it is certainly imperative to understand that change is inevitable, but reading books about the history of one’s industry can add a perspective that will be valuable for approaching future problems. With that in mind, I would encourage you to read The Man Who Knew by Sebastion Mallaby. 

The Man Who Knew

I am currently reading The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby. This excerpt stood out to me:

        Greenspan had spent a year and a half on a report that was destined for some dusty shelf; he had been wise not to invest more energy in it. And yet this non-outcome proved more significant than it appeared, for it anticipated the story of financial reform during Greenspan's Fed tenure. Finance did change in the 1970s, but it was shaped not by the deliberate planning of an expert commission but by market pressures and crises. The fact that Greenspan and his fellow commissioners proposed to phase out Regulation Q did not matter in the end; Regulation Q was neutered anyways as savings flooded in to the new money-market funds, as unregulated dollar bonds multiplied in London, and as the Fed dealt with the panic following Penn Central by scrapping the Regulation Q cap on the interest that banks could pay to attract very large deposits. The pattern was the same in later years. Finance changed dramatically in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the change was not dictated by the deliberations of experts; earnest working committees pondered the meaning of the new swaps market or the rise of shadow banks, but Greenspan declined to throw his weight behind their ideas, and their findings failed to alter policy.

        In this tentative approach to his regulatory responsibilities as Fed chairman, Greenspan was perhaps exhibiting a fatalism he had learned under Nixon. The evolution of finance could have huge consequences, to be sure, but efforts to shape it were liable to founder. Technological changes, the exigencies of crises, and money's mulish tendency to find its was around the rules - these forces decided things.

It is worth the time reading about Greenspan and the financial changes during the second half of the 20th century. As the saying goes, "History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes."