Keep INVESTING Simple and Safe (KISS)
****Investment Philosophy, Strategy and various Valuation Methods****
The same forces that bring risk into investing in the stock market also make possible the large gains many investors enjoy. It’s true that the fluctuations in the market make for losses as well as gains but if you have a proven strategy and stick with it over the long term you will be a winner!****Warren Buffett: Rule No. 1 - Never lose money. Rule No. 2 - Never forget Rule No. 1.
July 21, 2012
Personal Finance Editor
Have we hit capitulation yet? It has been a while since we've dragged out the investor sentiment cycle, but when the head of investment strategy for AMP Capital Investors, Dr Shane Oliver, included it in his latest newsletter, it seemed time for another look.
Markets are only partly driven by fundamental considerations such as value and dividend yields.
Their real impetus comes from emotions such as fear and greed.
And while those emotions can seem erratic over the short term, in the longer term, investor psychology is highly predictable.
As the graph shows, investors go through a roller-coaster of emotions in the typical market cycle.
Rising share prices spark a sense of optimism, which fast accelerates into excitement and the thrill of watching investments grow.
The top of any boom is characterised by euphoria when we think nothing can go wrong. This is the boom that will go on forever, and while we'd be smart to run for the doors when people start talking about ''new paradigms'' and how ''this time it's different'', most of us don't want to know. We've become overconfident, believing that our success is due to our own skill, not the fact that any idiot can make money in a raging bull market. And greed has well and truly kicked in, promoting us to chase more.
Rationally, this is the most dangerous point in the investment cycle. Prices become overvalued and the average investor is blind to the early warning signs. But no one wants to know.
When the market does inevitably take a turn for the worse, emotions spiral downwards through anxiety, denial (that's where the ''I'm a long-term investor, I don't need to worry'' bit is strongest), and, eventually, fear, depression and panic.
But it's not until investors give up hope that the cycle moves back into an upswing.
The bottom of any market cycle is characterised by capitulation and despondency. Just as investors believed the bull market could go on forever at the top of the cycle, they start to believe the bad times are here to stay. That's when you start to hear people talking about getting out of the sharemarket. Permanently. Because no matter what the pundits say, things aren't going to change. And just as the most dangerous time to invest is when markets are euphoric, the best investment opportunities arise when they are despondent.
In the 1970s, the long bear market led to pronouncements that equities were dead. Oliver reckons that is where we are again now.
The only problem is that while the psychology remains the same, no two market cycles are identical. And while you can be guaranteed that we will eventually move back to hope and optimism, there are no guarantees on how long it will take.
After an initial period of denial following the global financial crisis, markets have now woken up to the fact that Europe, and indeed most Western economies, will only truly recover when they have their debt under control. That will be a long and painful process.
Preserving capital makes sense when ongoing volatility is a high probability. As the investment director at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, Tom Stevenson, recently pointed out, if you lose a third of your money, you have to grow what you have left by 50 per cent to get back to where you started.
The fact that the big stocks are now highly correlated has also made short-term stock-picking profits hard to come by. The good gets trashed along with the bad.
But as Stevenson says, there are still excellent businesses out there with fantastic prospects. While shares in those companies won't bounce back immediately, he says in 10 years you might well look back and think this was a good time to invest in these long-term winners.
Oliver argues this period of poor returns isn't new; it's just something that markets do.
And as such, giving in to despondency can mean missing out on opportunities. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be cautious, but he says it would be dangerous to write off equities altogether.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/money/markets-shrink-its-normal-so-be-optimistic-20120720-22f3l.html