Common Cents & Keeping it Light(er)

Due to yesterday’s off-cycle, lengthy, and somber Common Cents, today’s newsletter will be relatively short and certainly much lighter in tone. After all, a steady diet of negativity isn’t good for the soul. So, let’s keep this one a little frothy and succinct, okay?

  • Yesterday’s issue of Common Cents should have hit your inbox at 1:42 pm (CST). At that time, the S&P 500 Index was 4,234.34. As I type today, 2/25/22, at 10:37 am (CST), the index is at 4,363.03 according to my Bloomberg. That is a difference of 128.69 points, or a little over 3.03%. Don’t mention it. I was happy to do it.
  • If you ever wondered what is more important to the US investor ‘war or the price of money,’ consider this paragraph by Cecile Gutscher and Isabelle Lee from “US equities rose as mixed economic data and uncertainty due to Russia’s war in Ukraine caused traders to pull back on bets the Federal Reserve will aggressively hike interest rate next month.”
  • Also from “Investors took a breather from selling emerging-market assets on Friday as they deemed Russia’s war on Ukraine unlikely to spur long-lasting contagion to the entire asset class. It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed by money managers at Pimco and elsewhere, who say yesterday’s across-the-board selloff may have opened up some financial opportunities.”
  • “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.” Calvin Coolidge
  • “In Saudi Arabia, Mardi Gras is known phonetically as ath thu la tha’. This means Tuesday. After all, pretty much everything about Mardi Gras, even the very thought of it, would be haram to Muslims.” Me
  • In a tip of the hat to the late Patrick Swayze, “nobody puts baby in a king cake.” Numerous
  • “King cake calories don’t count… Let them eat king cake… There is nothing king cake cannot fix.” Numerous
  • “Hate to break it to you New Orleans, but Mobile has the oldest known organized celebration of Mardi Gras.” Everyone in Alabama south of Clanton
  • “Mobile’s reputation as the birthplace of Mardi Gras in North America does not rest solely on the fact that a few half-starved French colonists observed the pre-Lenten feasts here 300 years ago.” Gary Bridgman
  • “What happens on the float stays on the float.” Numerous
  • “They’re professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots of Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don’t forget that the Russians – any Russian – can drink you under the table.” Anthony Bourdain Actually, I think that explains a lot.
  • “The attitude of the West and of Russia towards a crisis like Ukraine is diametrically different. The West is trying to establish the legality of any established border. For Russia, Ukraine is part of the Russian patrimony.” Henry Kissinger
  • “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” Ronald Reagan
  • “In Russia, we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One.” Yakow Smirnoff
  • “To put it in plain language, Russia is that country where the name of a writer appears not on the cover of his book, but on the door of his prison cell.” Joseph Brodsky
  • “Many Russia experts note the deep and sad capacity of the Russian people for suffering.” Roger Altman
  • “Russia – having sat across the table from Vladimir Putin, it’s pretty clear when you meet him that he has an almost limitless ambition for power. And he’s been very good at acquiring it – political power, economic power, military power, territorial power.” Carly Fiorina
  • Russian strategy seems to center on maintaining Putin’s popularity at home; building a strong military capacity in special forces, nuclear weapons, and advanced submarines; pressuring nearby nations to join various defense and customs pacts dominated by Russia; and pushing back on the US wherever convenient.” James G. Stavridis
  • “Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.” Milton Friedman
  • “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” Milton Friedman
  • “Investing should be more like watching paint dry of watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” Paul Samuelson
  • “How many millionaires do you known who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” Robert G. Allen
  • “With a good perspective on history, we can have a better understanding of the past and present, and thus a clear vision of the future.” Carlos Slim Helu
  • “I’m not emotional about investments. Investing is something where you have to be purely rational and not let emotion affect your decision making – just the facts.” Bill Ackman


…and finally.

  • “Successful investing is all about common sense.” John C. Bogle
  • “I think Jon C. Bogle meant to say common cents.” John B. Norris


Thank you for your continued support. As always, I hope this newsletter finds you and your family well; may your blessings outweigh your sorrows not only on this day but on every day, and may the conflict and bloodshed in Ukraine end quickly.

John Norris
Chief Economist


Please not, nothing in this newsletter should be considered or otherwise construed as an offer to buy or sell investment services or securities of any type. Any individual action you might take from reading this newsletter is at your own risk. My opinion, as those of our investment committee, is subject to change without notice. Finally, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the rest of the associates and/or shareholders of Oakworth Capital Bank or the official position of the company itself.