We sometimes become so focused on leaving emotion at the door while investing and trading, it comes at a price: morality.
Everyone has their reasons for going long, going short, staying neutral, etc. The challenge becomes when we're willing to confuse setting aside our emotions to create and thesis and cheer for it to come to fruition versus setting aside our morality to see that happen.
The latest challenge presents itself in the form of the coronavirus. This isn't the first and it won't be the last. Some challenges come from out of nowhere and disappear quickly while others have been with us for decades, but we've become accustomed to them like a wart on our back we can't see, but know is there.
In regards to the coronavirus, I get the sense from reading Twitter (TWTR) that there are people actively out there hoping numbers are worse than being reported. It's also as if they are trying to will the worst possible outcome into existence. There's no sympathy with suffering or loss of life, just tweets about the worst being yet to come, the government is lying to you, and emojis plus an exclamation mark subtweeting the newest case diagnosis. Unfortunately, the desire to watch something play out isn't always restricted to trading, whether it is to benefit a short position, support a conspiracy theory, or selling newsletters/services that benefit from fear.
I'd argue many of those I know who are bearish were bearish long before the coronavirus. Their views may have stemmed around valuation or the Fed and easy money. But there are some investors or traders selling subscription services or those in the media will set aside morality if it means advancement. Advancing their status. Advancing their popularity. Advancing their pocketbook. Heck, it might be 100% about their ego. "See, I was right!" they might yell. "You should have listened to me." It will make a great marketing tool when the sting of human tragedy fades in our memories.
I won't pretend like this is the first time, and I'm probably not one to judge. Each person has to look inside themselves for that, but we've seen it over the years.
How many Tesla (TSLA) haters out there are there? Many are rooting against the company merely to spite Elon Musk even if that comes at the detriment of employees, investors, and the environment. Some will justify it accusing the company of fraud.
What about the folks who purchased ATF stock? Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Again, you can justify being long because these products are used by choice, but can you morally justify the damage they've done to society and innocent people? Maybe you can, but morally it can be tough convincing others these products bring much in the way of a benefit to society.
I've seen more love/hate in biotech than anywhere. For the most part, these are companies trying to make our lives better or cure horrible diseases. I can't argue there hasn't been mismanagement of money within some smaller companies nor fraud in others, but by in large, this is a needed industry, so why root against it?
We could get into a name like Rick's Cabaret now with a friendlier name: RCI Hospitality Holdings (RICK) . It's definitely less risque. For some, that would present a moral dilemma to own while it is no bother to others.
The list could go on and on to include treatment of employees/workers, sourcing of material, harm/benefit to the environment, personal privacy, and the list could go on for quite some time.
At the end of the day, you need to be able to fall asleep not only knowing the risk within your portfolio, but also how the holdings define you. Some folks can completely separate themselves from their holdings while others struggle, but I hope you never find yourself in a position where you're hoping for a plague to spread or lives to be lost in order to make a buck.