A friend recently suggested I read: A Brief History of the Paradox, by Roy Sorensen. It’s a fascinating look at paradox over time and the games philosophers play. The paradox that I’m thinking about when I see the $SPY up 1.09% on the ISM print is called Meno’s Paradox of Inquiry. It goes something like this, and I’ll quote from the book.
If you know the answer to the question you are asking, then nothing can be learned by asking. If you do not know the answer, then you cannot recognize a correct answer even if it is given to you. Therefore, one cannot learn anything by asking questions.
The natural solution to Meno’s paradox of inquiry is that the inquirer has an intermediate amount of knowledge – enough to recognize a correct answer but not enough to answer on one’s own.
The markets as I see them are a living, evolving paradox. I’d be curious how these great thinkers would approach the trader’s daily paradox of inquiry with central banking, inflation, politics, and investing all playing the philosopher’s tug of war.
One of the many questions I like to ask is: how will a specific release effect the market? For example, this week there’s a relatively large number of market moving numbers getting thrown about. Yesterday was the Chicago PMI and Personal Spending. Both of these numbers missed expectations and the market fell a bit, though with little conviction. Today’s beat was the ISM which sent the market skyward, very quickly. And tomorrow we see factory orders.
I’m forced to admit that today’s intraday market answered my question correctly, even though I don’t like the answer.