Monday, February 11, 2013

You're good either way...

Dow May Struggle to Outdo Itself as Caution Takes Hold

After ‘Jack-Rabbit’ Start to 2013 Stocks May Struggle

US Citizens Braced for Austerity Impact

Even Brief Spending Cuts Could Hit US Economy Hard

Europe's Economy Still Weak

Expect Long-Term Damage in Spain

Consumers Taking Financial Hit From Rising Fuel Prices

I know, assuming you own equities, you want to feel good about the stock market. You want this rally to show sustainability. You've done the math in your head; if your portfolio earns X%, you'll be worth $X by year-end. But you're worried; you fester over the sequester, you're reeling over the debt ceiling. You recall the fall of 2011---when the Dow tumbled as politicians rumbled. And the epic bear market of late '07 to early '09---that took stocks down over 50%---seems like only yesterday.

My observation, having worked with individual investors for nearly three decades, is that the sensations one experiences during bull markets pale in comparison to the trauma of a 20+% decline (official bear market). When I mention the 40% collapse of 2008, clients nod like bobble-head dolls. When I mention the Dow's 110% increase from March 2009, wrinkles emerge betwixt their eyebrows as they reply "really?"

I pulled the opening seven headlines off the internet Sunday evening in the span of a minute of two. And while they don't engender the comfort you seek, for me, nothing could be finer---for they tell of skepticism. I understand that your wish  (sustainability)---while I make no prediction---is more likely to come true amid a din of denials. You see,  bull markets require liquidity, and, make no mistake, anxiety and liquidity are positively correlated. So when a consensus converges and denounces Dow 14,000, and you're feeling fretful, take heart; for as one of history's great investors, the late Sir John Templeton, taught:
Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.

That said, for you---the patient, long-term, well-diversified, able to transcend your fears, investor---whether this rally persists (with the occasional correction of course) throughout the year, or hits the skids and finds you rebalancing into the next (inevitable, yet un-time-able) bear market, you're good either way.

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