Friday, May 16, 2014

Why You Should Invest Like the Smart Money

One characteristic of the investing strategies of the wealthy is to diversify.  Stocks, bonds, money markets, real estate, alternative investments, collectibles, precious metals, jewelry, and so on are frequently found in the portfolios of the high net worth crowd.  Diversifying is a way to win no matter what's going on with asset values, and the wealthy want to stay wealthy.

The 99% should do no different, and recent market activity illustrates why.  Bond values have improbably risen in recent weeks, while stocks are stuck in a trading range right about where they started the year.  Gold and silver went up earlier this year, but have slid back.  Real estate ended 2013 with a roaring comeback, but now seems to have stalled out in many markets.  International markets have delinked, with Asian markets generally falling over the past six months, while European markets have moved up slightly (Ukraine crisis notwithstanding).  It would not have been easy to predict this mix of events.  Indeed, it's rare to find financial analysts who predict much of anything right.  Few predicted the 2007-08 financial crisis.  Few predicted the 30% jump in stocks in 2013.  Few predicted that bonds would rise this year.

The investing patterns of the smart money reveal that the smart move is to diversify.  Don't look for a quick buck.  You'll probably get a quick loss.  Don't look to hit a home run with a single investment.  The financial press may glamorize the few who manage to do that, but generally pays little attention to the many who fail.  Don't try to predict the unpredictable.  There are rare situations, like 2008-09, when all asset classes seem to be falling in value.  That's what can happen when vast amounts of debt and other leverage enter the financial system in one-sided bets dependent on rising asset values.  When that debt begins to lose value, the assets it was used to buy are at serious risk.  But more typical is what we have today--a lot of uncertainty, but some of the uncertainty is about the upside and some about the downside.  Most of the time, diversification is the best way to play your cards. 

And if you're still unhappy about your net worth, save more.  Whether the markets are doing well or badly, adding to your pool of capital will pay off in the long run.

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