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Where Ignorance is Bliss

  • Investing
  • Charlie Bilello

“Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” – Thomas Gray

I have a confession to make. I don’t read, listen to, or watch “the news.”

Some time ago a light bulb went off in my head:

And so I stopped. Cold turkey. Even the guilty pleasure known as the New York Post – gone.

I quickly came to realize:

  • The news was draining my mental energy and wasting time; there’s a huge opportunity cost.
  • If time is the most important commodity, we should be using it wisely.
  • Using it wisely means focusing on activities that increase productivity and make us happier.
  • Consuming the news is the antithesis of productivity, especially in the “information age.”
    • “Breaking news” breaks any train of intelligent thought.
    • “News alerts” make you less alert to the task at hand.
    • Click, Click, Click. One news link leads to the next and to the next and to the next.
  • The news was irrelevant to my everyday life. Life went on just fine without it.
  • Hearing about bad things happening to people that you have no control over only contributes to anxiety and stress.
  • Actually doing good things for people that you have control over makes you happier and your life more meaningful.
  • Cutting out the news means transitioning from a feeling of helplessness to a feeling of purposefulness.
  • I don’t miss it.

I now have more time to do things that make me happier:

  • Like reading books and listening to podcasts.
  • Like deeper thinking and learning new things.
  • Like research and writing.
  • Like exercising.
  • Like spending time with family and friends.
  • Like doing good things for people.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Don’t get me wrong – removing the news from your daily life is not easy – especially when you’re in the business of opining on the financial markets. It requires being able to say “I don’t know” when asked about the topic du jour. It’s a constant struggle to ignore the noise of the day but I’ve found the benefits to far outweigh the costs. Following the news will not make you a better investor; the opposite is true as it is likely to deter you from staying invested at precisely the worst time. More importantly, though, it will not make you a better person – physically, mentally, or emotionally.

And so, if refusing to consume the news makes me “ignorant” in some circles, I’m fine with that. The trade-off of bliss seems like a good one to me.

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This writing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation to buy, or a recommendation regarding any securities transaction, or as an offer to provide advisory or other services by Pension Partners, LLC in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The information contained in this writing should not be construed as financial or investment advice on any subject matter. Pension Partners, LLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any or all of the information on this writing.

CHARLIE BILELLO, CMT

Charlie-Bilello

Charlie Bilello is the Director of Research at Pension Partners, LLC, an investment advisor that manages mutual funds and separate accounts.  He is the co-author of four award-winning research papers on market anomalies and investing. Mr. Bilello is responsible for strategy development, investment research and communicating the firm’s investment themes and portfolio positioning to clients. Prior to joining Pension Partners, he was the Managing Member of Momentum Global Advisors and previously held positions as a Credit, Equity and Hedge Fund Analyst at billion dollar alternative investment firms.

Mr. Bilello holds a J.D. and M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from Fordham University and a B.A. in Economics from Binghamton University. He is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) and a Member of the Market Technicians Association. Mr. Bilello also holds the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate.

You can follow Charlie on twitter here.

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