Subscriber Only: Price is a Weapon
Grow up in the United States and you get used to a lot of things, like the rule of law.
The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all the way down to the laws, codes, ordinances, decrees, edicts, and dictates that percolate through our states, counties, cities, and hamlets, we are a nation of laws, put in place by the powerful.
Championed by our leaders, enacted by our politicians, and codified by the judiciary.
But not everyone follows the rules. And laws are worthless without the mechanics – and will – to enforce them.
My father-in-law traveled to Vietnam a few years ago, intent on purchasing a house in the beautiful beach city of Vũng Tàu, the final piece of his plan to eventually retire in the country of his birth.
He hired a realtor, found a property, made an offer, filled out all the paperwork, wired money to the owner and took possession. He then spent the next two months fixing it up, having improvements made, and outfitting each room with new furniture.
When he was finished, he locked the place up and came back to the states.
Six months later he returned to find someone else living in his house.
Once he left the realtor had simply broken into the house and resold it to someone else.
It was technically illegal, but who was going to enforce the law?
When my father-in-law reported it to the police, they said there was nothing they could do about it.
He spoke to a local lawyer but as there was no mechanism for title, title insurance, or a recorder’s office to verify either, how could he prove he owned the house?
He had paperwork from the sale, but so did the new owners – conveniently backdated before his.
It was his word against theirs, and the realtor.
Plus, they were in the house, and he wasn’t, and, well, that 9/10th of the law thing.
He was powerless to do anything.
If you’re born and raised in America this kind of thing is shocking, but we’re the outlier. For most of history the legal systems of countries and societies have been ad hoc at best.
The experience of governments changing and violating laws at will is so pervasive throughout history that many cultures, in reference to how laws are enforced, have their own version of the saying, “a gun means what it says.”
In other words, those in power make the laws and control the guns – and you can’t argue with a bullet.
Powerful people move markets.
Analysts who change their ratings and price targets on a whim.
Management teams that promise new products, innovations, and strategies while they sell.
Gurus, talking heads, and influencers who endlessly pump and dump solely for clicks and views.
Billionaire fund managers with access to information the public only sees months later.
The powerful move markets in their best interests, not yours.
A gun changes its utility based on perspective.
Pointed away from you, the bullet is a protector. At you, a destroyer.
In the market, price is your only weapon.
Obey it and live to see another day.
But argue with it, and you do so at your own peril.
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