Buying assets during times of distress

Buying assets during times of distress

Sep 25, 2023

The saying, "Buy when there is blood in the streets, even if it is your own blood," is a powerful adage in the world of finance and investing. This statement, which is often attributed to the legendary British banker Baron Rothschild, encapsulates a contrarian approach to investing that can yield significant rewards when applied wisely. In the context of today's financial markets, this principle remains as relevant as ever.

High inflation and rapid interest rate increases caused stock and bond markets to decline in 2022. So, chances are that if you held bonds or stocks, or investments with exposure to these asset classes, for example, a mutual fund invested in bonds or stocks, the market value of those investments would have declined. As a result, you may be feeling uncertain, or hesitant to invest anymore and may even be considering selling your assets.

However, contrarian investors seek buying opportunities when fear and panic grip the market. While it may seem counterintuitive to buy assets when others are selling in a state of distress, history has shown that this approach can lead to substantial gains. This is because mass selloffs create pricing anomalies, with assets becoming undervalued relative to their intrinsic worth.

It is important to note that the "blood in the streets" strategy requires a long-term perspective. Contrarian investors are not concerned with short-term fluctuations but rather focus on the fundamental value of the assets they are buying. They understand that, over time, markets tend to recover, and the assets they acquire during times of distress can appreciate significantly.

While this approach offers great potential rewards, it is not without risk. Market conditions can change rapidly, and what may have been a buying opportunity a few months ago may not hold true today. Therefore, investors must exercise prudent risk management and diversify their portfolios to mitigate potential losses. Additionally, thorough research and due diligence are essential to identify assets with strong fundamentals. Finally, investors need to stay informed about current events, economic trends, and market dynamics or work with an advisor who will do that for you.


The saying, "Buy when there is blood in the streets, even if it is your own blood," remains a timeless piece of investment wisdom. It underscores the importance of maintaining a contrarian mindset, seizing opportunities when others are in a state of panic, and focusing on long-term value. While its applicability may vary, the principle behind it remains a valuable lesson for investors seeking to navigate the complexities of the financial world.

Toni-Ann Neita-Elliott, CFP is the Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Sterling Asset Management. Sterling provides financial advice and instruments in U.S. dollars and other hard currencies to the corporate, individual and institutional investor. Visit our website at

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