The world economy might be improving, or it might be on the verge of ruin. The Iraq conflict might inhibit consumer confidence, or maybe no one cares. Auto unions might strike, soybean prices might explode, a hurricane might blow the Pentagon into Pennsylvania and the Red Sox might win the World Series.
All things are possible, but for twice-burned investors fretful about whether to tiptoe back into the surging stock market, only one thing is certain: No major bottom in financial history was easy to call at the time. Each was obscured by flaws that forced private investors to the sidelines to await one last piece of data that would make the future more clear.
Yet no such final, irrefutable evidence ever comes. Investing must be done without certainty because reward only comes with risk. If you weren't scared, it wouldn't be the right time.
After all, the very best time to have invested this year was back in March when the world, at the onset of war, looked its bleakest. Some intrepid souls obviously did take advantage of those moments, and they made out handsomely. The rest of the world could only watch with wonder.