The full quotation, “In politics the middle way is none at all” is attributed to John Adams, frustrated by holdouts in the Second Continental Congress, who were clogging the docket with useless half-measures and misguided appeasements during the debate over a declaration of independence. Of course, we know that John Adam’s views prevailed and independence was declared.
More recently, Prime Minister May has been trying to navigate through Brexit. Her initial position was a firm statement, Brexit means Brexit, but she didn’t follow up with definitive action. Consequently, for her, Brexit means exit. She has spent her entire term in office attempting to negotiate half-measures and compromises with a divided Parliament and a truculent EU. An effort that was doomed to failure.
There is a lesson here for investors. Leaders, both political and corporate, should be decisive. That does not mean that decisive leaders always do the right thing. Quite the contrary, history is replete with examples of leaders who were effective in putting forward aggressive policies with a wide range of results. However, endless debates and efforts to satisfy everyone, have generally ended in failure.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA