Scene in Passing: Speculation? Or investment gestation?

Mark Twain, in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, couldn’t resist jesting about the monthly dangers of stocks if you risk your chips big-time.

“OCTOBER: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.”

Twain, also known in these parts as Samuel Clemens, was a better writer than an investor. He was always putting his money into questionable schemes. But as a writer he always put his trust in solid verbs. The key to the above quote is the verb “speculate.” Speculating is always dangerous, as Twain’s litany of all months duly attests.

Investing is another thing, as Warren Buffett, the billionaire oracle of Omaha, has long since proved.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.88 percent this October, more than 21 percent this year. The S&P 500 was up 4.6 percent in October, more than 25 percent for the year by Halloween. November kept it going and Friday the Dow closed above 15,961, the S&P 500 at more than 1,798.

The stock market is a discounting mechanism predicting future events, whether it’s going up or not. When over time it’s not, of course, it’s telling a new tale and predicting a different future.

That’s why investing works, but speculating is risky. If you don’t take the long view, you get blindsided. Such is life, as well as the market.

This is why Carson City’s Board of Supervisors stayed on target and was steady-as-she-goes by casting a wide net while not ignoring local possibilities in seeking a new city manager after Larry Werner retires.

It’s why last week’s mind-meld of the city’s and school district’s long-term plans and goals, embracing all intellectual resources in the public and private sectors, also was on target. It’s why Rob Hooper of Northern Nevada Development Authority praised the city and school boards’ linkage.

It’s why officials were right to speed up work of the bypass link from Fairview Drive to Spooner junction. It’s why Buffalo Wild Wings is opening an outlet in Carson City officially on Monday. It’s why Sportsman’s Warehouse is altering space in the Carson Mall to open a store there in the spring. Things are happening, here and elsewhere.

The time to bet on the come has come, and is not yet gone. These things take time and there is sanity in investing long term, perhaps even more in community than in stocks.

“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can,” Clemens, aka Twain, wrote in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

Investing is another matter.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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