Gary Horton: Stock markets contort, life continues


We’ve experienced big data points this week. After years of Obama stocks climbing and now, Trump stock soaring – we’ve finally hit a wall. Not just any wall, the biggest, fastest drop in the modern stock market. Bam! A cold-water-in-the-face wake up call to all who’ve become complacent or delusional.

Fear is back. Or maybe just the start of fear. Memories are jostled of 2008 market crash where nearly everyone lost about 50% of anything they had. Stocks, real estate – it didn’t much matter and there was nowhere to hide. Fear and panic and anxiety ruled. Real losses hit wide swaths of America, as folks were ejected from their homes, disconnected from their RVs and toys, separated from their paper wealth in their 401ks and savings. Oh, those were trying times

Since then, the “market” has been, more or less, continuously up since the first year of Obama’s tenure. Climbing back from an inaugural day level of 7,949, the Dow topped out at 19,732 on Obama’s last day. Sure and steady were those days. And now, a euphoric, tax giveaway for all blast to 26,500 – it seemed to the man on the street that the sky was the limit. To infinity and beyond!

Crash. It turns out that valuations do matter. Irrational exuberance exists. Reality and gut check hits the headlines as savings plans just got set back 8 percent.

Here’s some time proven advice: Don’t forget prudence. Keep plenty of dry powder on hand. Have cash at the ready for a down side. Don’t over extend. Watch your consumer credit. Your house is not an insta-teller. Save for retirement – it turns out we all get old in the end and our government is not going to be “there for you.”

Having gone through four big recessions now – one a real whopper, please listen to me. These are words to live by. Save your money. Stay diversified. Above all, stay away from excessive credit; instead, pay as you go, except perhaps for a house and a car.

Meanwhile, life ticks on. We’re living life for living not for numbers, after all.

I hit a milestone in the Horton family this past weekend. After long dreaming about the day, me, grandpa Horton, got to take my grandson Conor, out on a boat ride to Anacapa Island. Anacapa is the closest Channel Island. It’s the one with the large arch that’s become rather famous in paintings of the islands.

Conor is four and a half. He’s curious about all things creatures and sea and sky, for him this was also a great event. An inauguration of many more trips and adventures with me, (Oldpa), Mimi, and his parents. Now we’ve got family outings, three generations deep. I get a second chance leading adventures with little kids. A second shot at being a dad, or dad-like, reliving fun memories, but this time with a wider understanding of what makes kids tick and how to best engage them.

Years back, Conor’s dad and I would scuba dive in these same islands. We’d take the boat out past wind and waves and gear up with all that heavy stuff and plop down into the cold, dark waters off the Anacapa shore. Good memories mostly, and some great ones, too. We get to share these now with Conor – the opportunity of seeing nature as pristine as can be for us Angelenos.

Sunday was gorgeous. Still water, wispy clouds, a wonderful seventy-five off degrees. Motoring past the oil derrick, closing in on the island, we spotted a flock of pelicans larger than I’ve ever seen before. Hundreds of pelicans floating, flying, just hanging around. Conor saw what he’d only seen in videos before and it was wonderful to share the scene between us.

Mid-trip the boat had problems as boats are prone to do. Our anchor wouldn’t drop and no anchor meant no landings and Conor got his first taste of boating disappointment. We really wanted to go out and explore. We wanted to look for shells. But boat-bound we were and at age 4.5 a young man exuberant for the sea also learned an important life lesson of managing disappointment.

No matter how hard we work against it, disappointment will always come in one form or another. Surprises, shocks, unplanned results, feared outcomes. They all come.

Stock market corrections. Health ups and downs. Boats that float, boats that break. Kids that move away and then surprise you by moving back local again and all of a sudden you have grandkids to take to the islands.

From recent events let me give you this. Stay prepared for a downside. And live fully for the present, enjoying all of life’s good gifts and pleasant surprises as they come.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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