Found on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, circa 2003
Go placidly amid the stocks and bonds, and remember what growth there may be in holding long-term. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all brokers. Declare your capital gains quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the ghouls and the bears; they, too, have their portfolios. Avoid loud and aggressive TV commentators; they are vexatious to the market.
If you compare your portfolio with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser performers than yours. Enjoy your modest returns as well as your corporate dividends. Keep interested in your own IRA, however humble; it is a real, albeit declining, possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in high-tech stocks, for the world is full of overly optimistic advisers. But let not this blind you to what value investments there are; many persons strive for high yields and everywhere life is full of double-digit returns.
Be yourself. Especially do not invest offshore.
Neither be cynical about bonds, for in the face of bankruptcy and illiquidity they are as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the single-digit growth of the fixed-term investment, gracefully surrendering the double-digit losses of youth.
Nurture a cash position to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with thoughts of deflation. Many fears are born of fatigue and balance-of-payments deficits. Beyond a strict financial plan, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the markets no less than the brokers and the merchant bankers; you have a right to invest. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the markets are unfolding as they should.
Therefore, be at peace with Greenspan, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your puts and calls in the noisy confusion of finance, keep bonds in your portfolio.
With all its downturns, Enrons, and WorldComs; it is still a beautiful market. Be patient.
Strive to be fully invested.
• Mr. Martin is a lawyer and member of Canada's Trademarks Opposition Board. His humor will be included in the third volume of the 'Mirth of a Nation' book series due next year. He writes from Ottawa.