Volatility brings out the worst in even the best investors. It has a way of clouding our memory and activating our flight hormone, inspiring us to do exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. But on the heels of the worst-ever year opening for stocks — down 6 percent for the S&P 500, 6.2 percent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and 7.3 percent for last year’s super-star, the NASDAQ — investors are understandably nervous.
Behavioral economics studies the effect of the recency of a risky event on subsequent financial behavior. For example, I can tell you where I was and what I was doing during the crash of 1987, the market rout of the third quarter of 1990, the minute the market re-opened after the terrorist attacks in the fall of 2001, and during the market meltdown of 2008. The memory of those difficult markets stands out starkly — particularly the most recent decline. Despite over 30 years of professional and personal investing, I am not immune to that sinking feeling of panic when the market sells off with the kind of vigor we have experienced recently. The only thing that keeps me focused on the long-term is a cursory understanding of behavioral economics and knowledge of the long-term, historical performance of stocks.
Interestingly, I cannot pinpoint where I was or what I was doing during the many market rallies I’ve enjoyed. Like most people, I remember the negative events much more vividly than the pleasant ones. When the market rises, we accept it like we do a safe flight or an automobile performing as expected. When the market declines, we are reminded of the harsh reality — that markets, like airline travel, for example, contain inherent risk that we often take for granted.
But let’s take a look at the facts. Click here for the rest of the article: The Arizona Republic
This market reminds me of an old friend who had the unfortunate tendency to obsess over details. Hyper-focused on the Fed’s every word, investors are driving this market batty, parsing and splitting each piece of economic data, each Fed governor’s statement into smaller and ostensibly more consumable bits only to spew them out the following day. Up one session. Down the next. Manic, euphoric and very hard to live with.
So what is an investor to do?
Some are pulling money out of stock funds — to the tune of $16.2 billion last week alone and, according to Merrill Lynch, $46 billion over the last month. Sentiment, measured by various organizations, indicates investors are more bearish than bullish for the first time since the fall of 2011.
The experts are divided, too. According to Barron’s, about half of the 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted the Fed will lift rates, although traders in Fed-funds futures are much less certain, with about 28 percent expecting an increase. If the experts can’t agree, the rest of us have no chance.
Let’s consider a few facts. Click here for more: The Arizona Republic
Urban legend suggests lemmings are so committed to their herd they will stick together even if they march right off a cliff to their inevitable death.
It is easy to understand why many find the adorable lemming’s behavior analogous to investor behavior at market tops.
Those of us who have run a race understand just how important it is to pace ourselves, removed from the pack, running our race — not the race of the person to the right or the left. In investing, we refer to this as a goals-based approach: a strategy that focuses more on personal, long-term goals than beating an arbitrary benchmark or owning the latest and greatest growth stocks. It is an approach that, by definition, removes investors from the lemming crowd.
Jeremy Siegel, author of “Stocks for the Long Run,” has conducted comprehensive research on stock performance over the past 100-plus years; as a result, he is a diehard proponent of value investing. The primary reason is the power of dividend reinvestment.
Siegel’s classic and most-cited example of why value stocks outperform growth stock analyzes an investment of $1,000 in (then) growth stock IBM compared with value stock Exxon (XOM) from 1950-2012. For the rest of the article, click here: The Arizona Republic
My friend Kenny Polcari, a floor broker on the NYSE, he writes a daily market commentary. It is lively and direct and always insightful. At the end of each piece, he provides a recipe du jour. The guy is not only investment savvy — he can cook (his Fava Bean Risotto is a masterpiece). Last week Kenny provided a unique and erudite explanation of the decline in commodity prices: “Hey look! Commodities and the dollar have an inverse relationship…when one goes up, the other goes down.”
Because commodities are priced in dollars, investors in other currencies have to purchase the dollars to purchase the commodity, which becomes more expensive when the dollar rises. Got it? Higher prices reduce demand. And when demand declines, so does the price of the underlying commodity. Economics 101: supply and demand.
RELATED: Checking back on our 2014 stocks to watch
Why does this matter? Read on: The Arizona Republic
It is true. Stock returns can be unpredictable, which is why so many feel investing is like gambling — irrational, even scary. Echoing that sentiment, The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig wrote over the weekend, “There is something poignantly human about every attempt to make markets behave as we all wish they would: always rising and making us richer, never falling and inflicting pain upon us.”
For all the volatility we’ve experienced this year, stocks are basically flat to modestly up. Down 300 points one day, up 250 points the next day. Exhausting, right? Only if we focus on the daily movements in stock prices. As investors, we must be in it for the long term, buying shares of stocks we are willing to own for a lifetime. Here’s why. According to the Dalbar 2010 Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior Study, the S&P 500 returned 9.14 percent over the previous 20 years, while the average investor in equity mutual funds earned 3.83 percent. This is because individuals tend to sell based on emotions, at just the wrong time. Yielding to emotions does not yield profits.
Let’s look at it another way. To read more please click below: TheArizonaRepublic
You may have heard the old adage: If you don’t like company management, vote with your feet and sell the stock.
Benjamin Graham, author of the 1949 classic The Intelligent Investor, calls that attitude “fatuous and harmful,” for it does nothing to improve bad management and merely shifts the problem to someone else. Graham was a believer that “investors make money not out of each other but out of … businesses.”
In the daily hype surrounding the stock market, the purpose of owning stocks is often lost on the average investor. The prevailing sense that investing is gambling or sport (words such as “bet” or “play” when referring to investing make me cringe) is unfortunate. Investing is neither. When we buy shares in a company, we are buying the company’s management team as well as a portion of the company’s future earnings. This is our management team, and we are counting on them to execute a sound business strategy and robust earnings growth.
Because the nature of stock ownership is a little less tangible than say, real estate, it is even more imperative we have confidence in the management team. This past weekend, Barron‘s published its annual listing of the “World’s Most Respected Companies.”
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