Value investing does require some volatility with the market in order to have opportunities to buy low and sell high. A static market, even one with level growth will not work with value investing. Fortunately, the market isn’t stable and volatility does exist. This volatility is driven by multiple forces: politics, interest rates, consumer patterns, environmental conditions and more. Thus, opportunity exists for value investors. However, value investors seek opportunity with minimum risk.
Investing in any financial instrument comes with risk. The absolute worse case is full economic chaos created by a meltdown of governmental authority. If this were to happen, it would not matter what kind of financial instrument an investor holds, all of them are worthless as you can’t eat paper. Some would say physical possession of gold is the only pure investment because it would be tradeable in case of world disaster. This would be true if there exists a government to enforce some resemblance of order allowing trade between producers and consumers.
Ignoring total breakdown, financial instruments do have a hierachy of risk associated with their potential to become worthless. Understanding risk aversion starts with understanding the spectrum of financial instruments and their inherent risk factors. In addition, this is further refined by size, i.e. market capitalization of the respective issuer of the financial instrument. Finally, risk aversion is also a function of the dynamic range of the respective company backing the financial instrument. The following sections provide this holistic thinking related to risk aversion, specifically as it relates to stock investments.