Where Have I Seen This Before?

By Steve Tepper, CFP®, MBA

We’ve been through this before. We’re going through it now. We’ll go through it again. It stinks, folks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it at all. It stinks to watch the market tumble hundreds of points day after day. It stinks to take a look at your portfolio and watch that value sink day after day. We find comfort in the faith that markets will recover, along with our account balances, but it still stinks. We understand academically that markets must have these periods to give us the outstanding long-term returns we expect, but it still stinks.

Whether this is a short-term correction or the beginning of a long-term slide, I don’t know. And neither do any of the so-called “experts.” But I do know that I’m hearing a lot of familiar soundbites and seeing a lot of familiar images. This one was on the front page of the Yahoo finance page about a week ago:


The title of this article—“Where Have I Seen This Before?”—is a little misleading. I never asked the question. I know where I’ve seen this before. It pretty much accompanies every downturn, long term or not. Here are a few past moments:


These other images are not from last week. They are from other downturns and down market days. Last week’s image is not unique. When the market tumbles, it’s obligatory for the financial media to go out and get that shot of an anguished stockbroker, head in hands, with the backdrop of a bunch of computer screens. My favorite is the last one. Look at those monitors! That’s the 1987 crash, folks!

It does beg a “chicken or the egg” question. Does stock trading cause migraines? Or are people prone to migraines drawn to the profession? I’m not a philosopher, so I will not try to answer the question. I have only this takeaway: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, it stinks. It stank every time in the past, it stinks now, and it always will stink. But we will get through. So keep calm, and take an Advil.