Keeping the Faith

Sometimes things happen in almost complete symmetry that they just make you stop and think. For example: The selection of a new pope (search) amid signs of a battered old stock market (search).

We're bullish on the prospects for an invigorating pope. It seems we're bearish on the prospects for invigorating profits.

Yet, there's something refreshing about looking at an age-old institution and how it goes about its business, versus focusing on a not-nearly-as-old institution and how it frets about its business.

For centuries now cardinals have put their faith in God over a selection process that has stood the test of time. For countless bull and bear markets, truly wise market players have put their faith in doing well "over time."

The odds are we'll get a new pope, this church will survive and I think thrive. The odds are just as good this market will recover too.

History tells me that on the pope. History tells me that on the market. That's because more often than not we get good popes and more often than not we get good markets.

Leave it to age-old cardinals convening to hopefully get some nervous present-day market nellies to stop fidgeting.

The very great, and I might point out, very Catholic investor Peter Lynch used to say he couldn't tell you where markets would be next month or next year, but that they would invariably be up over the next several years. That's because he believed in capitalism and he believed in our markets.

Lynch had faith in the system to cleanse itself. Just like good Catholics have faith in their Church to improve itself.

Both can be bumpy rides. But history proves on both counts, they can be enriching ones.

Cardinals call it divine inspiration. Market watchers should call it something simpler: faith.

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