Monday, July 28, 2014

Beware the Sweaty Equity Analyst: Anne Boleyn and A Sense of Impending Doom

From FT Alphaville:
Temporisation watch
That uneasy feeling when everything is going well. Is it deserved? Can it last? Should you cash in and go paint watercolours in that studio on the Pembrokeshire coast?

Strategists are not immune, with a summer bout of the temporaries upon us. Goldman is the latest, downgrading its view of stocks over the weekend but without really committing to it:
We also downgrade equities to neutral over 3 months. We are concerned that a sell-off in government bonds will lead to a temporary sell-off in equities in line with what we saw last summer, though the magnitude is likely to be smaller as the need for bond yields to correct is lower than it was back then. At the same time, on our forecasts the acceleration of economic growth is now largely behind us, with any further expansion being very small compared to what we have seen. We see an environment where growth is sustained around current levels as being positive for equities over the longer term, but would expect the pace of returns to slow down relative to the strong performance we have seen over the last couple of years....MORE including:
...Meanwhile BCA Research have been more explicit about the nagging feeling, after they were asked by a client “how do you know that you’re not coming up with analysis to justify what’s already occurred?”...
So equity analysts have a sense of impending doom.
WebMD is not much help with the symptomology:
WebMD Symptom Checker helps you find the most common symptom combinations and medical conditions related to sense of impending doom....
and 65 more. However The Ancient Standard (ancient history that doesn't suck) offers up a clue to what might be going on:
If you lived in Tudor England, you worried about the various illnesses that imagecould strike without warning. One of the most terrifying, however, was not the plague but the sweat. The English Sweating Sickness, as it was often known, was a disease that struck England several times in the years between 1485 and 1551. Outbreaks took place in 1485, 1507, 1528 and 1571. One outbreak which took place in 1502 is rumored to have taken the life of King Henry VIII’s older brother Arthur, paving the way for Henry to take the throne. An image of Arthur, Prince of Wales is seen here.

It brought with it a number of symptoms. Individuals who had contracted the sweat would often feel a sensation of impending doom or tragedy. They often felt severe pain in their necks, their backs and their arms. They often felt extremely tired and profound exhaustion was another one of the most common symptoms....MORE
Now we're getting somewhere. Armed with the knowledge that the Tudors were afflicted we find, at io9:
Why a "Sense of Impending Doom" Is an Actual Medical Symptom
Ever felt an unaccountable sense of fear and futility? Turns out you should have been even more terrified than you were. A "sense of impending doom" is an actual medical symptom for some very serious conditions.

The Sweats and Impending Doom
Europe had quite a few problems during the late Middle Ages. There were wars, independent brigands, religious revolutions, and, of course, many different kinds of plague. One disease, known as the Sweating Sickness, would take people from perfectly healthy to dead over the course of one day. It struck Anne Boleyn during the height of her courtship with Henry VIII, and if she hadn't survived it we would have had an entirely new history, and an entirely different sexy historical monarchy to make salacious tv series about. Its fatality alone would have made "the sweat" terrifying, but it was made almost supernatural by an eerie quirk. The first symptom anyone had was a strong sense of impending doom.

The sense of impending doom did not disappear into history the way the Sweating Sickness did. People who suffer from depression or anxiety often have it, of course, but it's also associated with ailments entirely separate from emotion. A sense of impending doom is a symptom of anything from cardiac arrest to a jellyfish sting. It's not conclusive in and of itself, but it is listed as one of the identifying features of multiple medical problems.

Modern Medicine and Impending Doom...MORE
Well there you go, keep an eye peeled for analysts claiming they were just running for the elevator.
Or smelling of nutmeg.