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Gaza and Ukraine: Don't trade global crisis

Humanity had a bad day on Thursday. "International tensions" doesn't begin to describe the horrors of what happened in Ukraine and the Middle East. We are sinners in a fallen world capable of unspeakable crimes. That isn't new information but, wow, days like yesterday certainly bring home the point in a horrible way.

There are two impulses to avoid here. The first is to feign expertise on international relations. The second is to start spouting off on trade ideas that work when Israel invades Gaza or Putin takes his craziness out for a stroll. Yes, the knee jerk reaction is to sell stocks, buy gold and oil and hide under the mattress. You're too late. The Vix (^VIX) spiked 32% yesterday. I'd say the horse is out of the barn when it comes to buying insurance.

I started out managing money for outsiders and between that and investing for my family I've been doing this professionally for nearly 20 years now. In that time I've learned to respect the importance of not making investment decisions based on things I don't know. I'm not an expert on international relations and chances are you aren't either. But I do know my own portfolio so that's where I'm going to focus.

Case in point: Google (GOOGL) reported last night after the bell. As regular viewers know I'm long the stock and have been for a while. Revenues were strong but Google missed analyst estimates for the third straight quarter. During that time the stock is up by more than 25%. Google has transcended quarterly earnings and good for them for having done it. Because I know Google I also feel very comfortable saying their long-term fortunes aren't reliant on peace in the Middle East or Ukraine. Google shares will certainly be impacted by a choppy market but their core business is strong. Because I did my homework I don't feel any urge to panic out of the stock, regardless of what happens to it today.

I'm not telling you to buy Google. I am suggesting that in times of global crisis your investing focus should be at home. Before you sell everything and hide, run though your portfolio position by position and asses your risk / reward. Control your emotions by sticking to what you know, not dwelling on what is unknowable even to experts. That's how you control your emotions and to the extent possible in these horrible times your financial destiny.

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