Way back in the early days of the 20th century, so the story goes, the great financier J. Pierpont Morgan was asked what the stock market would do.
The curious fellow who asked was possibly a reporter looking for a good quote or a Wall Street habitué hoping for some insight from the great man himself. One version of the story has the inquiry coming from a youthful elevator operator.
Whoever posed the question, the fierce and frightening Morgan turned and replied with one word: "Fluctuate."
Morgan, of course, was saying that no one can predict all the twists and turns, rises and falls of the market. We saw that last week. After a huge drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday, a lot of folks were sure the end was near and that President Trump's vaunted economy was going to come crashing down.
But doomsday didn't come. While the point drop Monday was the biggest in history, the percentage of wealth lost wasn't even in the top 20. The market still was up from last year. And through the week the market fluctuated up and down, proving Morgan's wisdom applies to this very day.
We don't know where the market is going. We do know we are in the second-longest bull market in history and nothing goes up forever. But when the tide will turn no one can really say.
That's scary for a lot of folks. Especially those who lived through previous crashes and are now closer to retirement. But there is no reason to panic. No use in it, either. Hopefully readers have a sound financial plan that will help them weather any coming storm. But that's about all any of us can do. Remember, even the great J.P. Morgan couldn't see the future.