Last Friday and yesterday stocks showed modest gains but the momentum didn’t carry through today. The Dow industrial average shed a modest 9.44 points to 16,560.54 while the S&P 500 dropped just over 3.00 to 1,933.75. Both the Dow and the S&P hit record highs a few weeks earlier yet geopolitical investing in normal timesevents have erased most of the gains. For the year, the Dow is off by 16.12 while the S&P has done a bit better climbing 85.3 points.

One wonders what investors could do in the markets without all the unrest around the world. Invasions, battles, wars…if only the markets could rid themselves of those “distractions” then we could all get back to the business of business, right? Yet that is not reality. The reality is otherwise. The U.S. has been the target of terrorist attacks for so long it’s hard to remember the first. The Middle East never seems to get its act together and the Camp David Peace Accord was signed when Carter was President. For those counting, that’s 36 years ago. Not long after that OPEC flexed its muscles and helped cause a fuel shortage that put a huge dent in the economy.

The S&L crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.The Resolution Trust Corporation. The Subprime crash round I. Remember the Long-Term Capital Management bailout by the Fed? Housing crisis. Subprime crash round II.

The point is that it will never be “normal” and the case can certainly be made that economic turmoil is in fact the norm, not the exception. Of course, the degree of “norm” certainly plays a factor but there will never be a time when there is nothing outside of the markets that gets in the way of evaluating a potential investment with only profit in mind. There are investments that are more secure, bonds for one but the returns are meager. Real estate is another class of investment that provides solid returns but requires experience in various disciplines in order to be successful.

There will always be distractions. Some investments are more sensitive to them and some barely so. But if you’re waiting for the markets to “cool down” before investing, may be waiting for a long, long time.