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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Averaging Down is Nonsense!

Daf Yomi Yevamos 10

When a man dies childless, the Torah obligates his brother to marry the widow and maintain the family name.  This tradition is call yibum – the levirate marriage.  If they choose not to proceed, they perform a ritual called chalitzah – the removal of the shoe, which annuls the union.

The Torah states, “His brother’s widow approaches him before the elders and removes his shoe from his foot and spits at him.   She shall declare and say: This is what is done to the man who will not build his brother’s house.”

Why does the Torah say “who will not build”?  It should be past tense: who did not build!   The Gemara teaches: Once he has not built, he will never build. 

It’s very difficult to break out of a cycle of bad investment decisions.  Instead of viewing past investments which have turned sour as a sunk cost, human nature is to continue to throw good money after bad.  There is even a ridiculous investment method called ‘averaging down,’ which says that if your stock drops, buy more and then just convince yourself that it was really all one purchase and you can think about the average price you paid, to make yourself feel better! 

In most cases, once you have not built, you will probably never build.  Most people won’t admit to themselves that their past decisions were a mistake and so they continue to do the same thing over and over instead of closing the door on their past errors and making the determination that this time will be different.  This time, I will build.

Maybe you made a poor spiritual decision in the past and now you keep going along with it because you’ve invested too much.  Maybe you made a bad relationship decision and now you figure it’s too late to do anything about it.  Maybe you made a bad property decision and you’re pouring good money after bad instead of starting fresh.  Don’t get into that rut of bad decision-making!  It’s time to close the door on sunk costs and make a decision today to build anew!