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“And a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. I believe it. They can even calculate the odds. It just isn’t likely and it takes…so long.”
Robert Redford as card shark Jack Weil in Havana
“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model with initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner would fail to reproduce the results of runs with the unrounded initial condition data. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.” The Butterfly Effect - Wikipedia

How often have you seen a news headline that looks something like this:  “Dow Plunges Triple Digits?” Makes for a great headline, but a better way of saying the same thing is, “Dow Ends Down 0.6%.” Not quite the same attention grabber, is it?

The Way Things WorkWhen I was a kid, we had a book in our house (well, we had LOTS of books, but this was one of them) entitled The Way Things Work, which was written and illustrated by David Macaulay. It's a magical book full of all kinds of crazy, hand-drawn pictures illustrating, well, the way things work. From augers to grand pianos to zoom lenses and just about everything in between.

Investing in stocks is the very best way to passively build wealth over a lifetime. But too many think it is more like gambling than sensible wealth-creation. The stock market's gyrations of late can certainly reinforce the argument that it's too risky a bet for the family nest egg.

Can the US economy continue to plow ahead against global headwinds of the slowing economies of China, Europe and the developing world? Can it withstand the rapid devaluation of the oil industry and commodity prices? And most important of all, can it remain healthy during a period of rising interest rates?

Since its peak on May 21st, the S&P has fallen by nearly 10%. Stocks were pretty well behaved in the weeks that followed Fed Chair Janet Yellen's May speech in which she warned that interest rates would likely begin rising this year. But China's equity slide last Monday became the catalyst for a more significant US equity slide of 5% for the week ended last Friday. As of this writing, stock averages are down another 3%.

Market cycles, bull and bear, have considerably more impact on our psyche, confidence, and outlook than we perhaps realize. When stocks have risen for a period long enough for us to believe the trend will last, things simply look brighter. We feel more confident about our future, loosen our grip on our money, and feel more comfortable taking risk. With the the Total US Stock market up some 200% since March of 2009, we have had numerous discussions around increasing stock exposure to capture larger returns - it's only normal.