By Mukul Pal
Is the Mayan end of the world deadline, a good time to buy?
Even if I was not born on December 21, I would still be celebrating the end of the world. We have reached such scientific maturity that we do understand that Mayans were wrong about “this”. Or, we chose to play the probability game that the probability of the world ending is less, hence the celebration. But then, behavioural finance suggests a majority of us don’t understand probability, which explains why we are still glued to the uncertainty that “what if” this was it; the time of retribution.
Well, for me, apart from the celebration, I observe a pattern of geometric blindness that we suffer from. I have referred to this as cycle blindness on prior occasions, but I would prefer to call it geometric blindness. Recent work talks about a time before Pythagoras. It was the Plimpton 322 clay tablet. Babylonians discovered mathematical proportion 1,000 years before Pythagoras. They were using geometric patterns to calculate.
The oldest known possibly mathematical object is the Lebombo bone, discovered in the Lebombo mountains of Swaziland and dated to approximately 35,000 BC. It consists of 29 distinct notches cut into a baboon’s fibula.
Also, prehistoric artefacts discovered in Africa and France, dated between 35,000 and 20,000 BC, suggest early attempts to quantify time. Mayan structures were a part of the megalithic geometry, also referred to as ‘366 geometry’; a way to measure time. Come to think of it, even thousands of years later, we have not changed regarding our fascination with time. We celebrate the Maya more because it has a calendar linked to it, the Mayan calendar.
We have learned how to measure things because of this quest to measure time, whether to understand seasons, or tabulate astronomy for navigation. The history of the Julian calendar shows how we evolved our current system with hits and trials. Even with such crude unequal history of measurement, we somehow forgot where we came from; a rough, unequal, disproportionate and non-exact past. We have forgotten our geometric past, so much so that we live with non-equality but expect equality, we live in chaos but expect order; we hate uncertainty but celebrate mysticism.
The natural systems are not exact. The seasons are not exact. The calendar shifts with seasons. The winter solstice still fluctuates a day or two. The Moon’s phases vary between 29.272 and 29.833 days. A calendar year can have 12 or 13 new and full moons. If in 100 years, the day becomes longer by two milliseconds, would it bother us? Is it not about our convenience with exactness that we ignore the non-exactness? Somewhere in our need for status quo we chose to ignore the non-exact regularity in nature.
We are strange beings, excited and fearful about the end of the world. As we express, we create sentiment indicators. Now, as we head to December 21, the Mayan calendar would become the top searched parameter. How can we interpret this social phenomenon with stock markets?
Well if the world is ending, the best thing would be to go cash. But strangely new historical highs on BSE Auto, BSE Health Care and near historical highs on Dow and Sensex tell us that smart money is taking cues from the end-of-the-world sentiment. Smart money is doing the opposite. It is all invested and ready for celebration.
The author is CMT, and Founder, Orpheus CAPITALS, a global alternative research firm