This week, as I grieve my way through a sports injury and other matters, I catch myself stuck in short termism.

It's easy to say no is forever, today is the only day.

This is how we have survived through the millennia, being alert and anxious and attentive to stuff. I caught myself flat in it, getting a big juicy chunk of resin on my personal bow of rainy days and Mondays.

Life does not care, it simply moves on. Like markets.


If you want to be honest about humans and genetics, then you realise that we are all simply highly sophisticated replicators.

Dressed up as we are, in our incredible survival machine armour (our bodies) we rumble around the planet devising ways to pass on copies of the code we hold within each cell.

If you want to be honest about the sharemarket, then you realise that it, too, carries a base feature of its creator: It doesn't particularly care about where the next meal comes from, as long as it gets enough food to avoid starving to death.

Markets, naturally, haven't got chromosomes driving them directly, merely bankers and finance people and all the thousands of other folks involved, but it is easy to fall into this kind of thinking.

You hear it a lot: "The market's been kind" or "The market's been cruel".

The truth is that the market simply exists.

Every single deal (mostly) consists of two sides, both of whom think they are right.

The overall direction, in the long term, is dictated by the whims of the humans at the controls, and more recently, by the computers they program to run trading algorithms that act for them instead.


But still, we are guilty of attaching sentient being qualities to what is nothing more than a call auction.

You might say, so what? We anthropomorphise lots of stuff to get us through life.

Which is fine, life is difficult enough.

However, as you come to things like sharemarkets, it turns out that it is critical not to A) do anything short term and B) assign animal-like qualities to market movements.

For example, on every page you turn in the financial press today, you will see: "Bull market turns eight!" or "The bears are getting trounced!".

Although it makes good old-fashioned Wall Street reading, it does not help you.

Why? Because it encourages you to buy, or sell, into the hype.

Doing that, ladies and gentlemen, is usually the opposite of good investing, for about a thousand reasons.

Your emotions were exquisitely designed over time to keep you fed, warm, out of the way of predators and breeding as nature allowed.

They do not do well when attached to portfolios and hung out to dry on stocks. It is tricky to resist, we are programmed to go with the herd, after all.

But it is going to be critical for the money side of things to play it cool and remove the idea from your head that the market swings in and out with feelings of its own.

Don't fall in love with your shares, I'm gonna guarantee they won't love you back!

* Caroline Ritchie is a former AFA, sharebroker and portfolio manager. She runs Investment Stuff, a sharemarket-based investment coaching service. Visit her at This column is not personalised financial advice.