By John P Hussman – Re-Blogged From Hussman Funds
Imagine driving a car moving down the road at 20 miles an hour. You hold a rope out the window. At the other end of that rope is a skateboard. If the skateboard is behind the car, yanking the rope pulls the skateboard forward, so the skateboard might temporarily speed ahead until it gets way ahead of the car and the rope tightens again. At that point, yanking the rope will pull the skateboard back, so even while the car continues down the road at 20 miles an hour, the skateboard actually loses ground for a while. Over the long-term, the car and the skateboard move ahead at the same speed, but the speed of the skateboard over shorter horizons depends on its position relative to the underlying trend.
The same proposition applies to the trajectory of numerous economic and financial variables. We have to be attentive to at least two things: 1) the central tendency of growth in underlying fundamentals, and 2) our current position, relative to that central tendency. The difference between the two is what separates longer-term growth from cyclical fluctuations.