Expressway to the Poor House

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald
Bond Strategist

Slap In The Face Award


Get ready! Here’s a slap for just about all of us, and it could be a costly one…

There are two new national sports in the U.S. and both are about the stock market: guessing when this bull market will end and guessing about what the next big move in the market will be.

It’s really getting ridiculous.

Anyone who follows my work or that of the other editors at The Oxford Club already knows that both of these activities are just market timing, which never works. And worse, both are nothing more than shortcuts to sizable tax deductions for big capital losses.

The money media would have you believe the big run-up in stocks has moved us into uncharted territory, that this bull market is a new phenomenon and it’s different this time. It isn’t. But that myth keeps people glued to CNBC and talking about the market.

Yes, we are at new highs, but that’s nothing new. That’s what markets do. They hit new highs.

And yes, the indexes have been running so high for so long, it seems like there is no top. But there is.

There’s nothing new here. In the 30-plus years I have been in the market, I have lost count of the new highs, the markets that appear to have no top, and the number of times the money media has created an atmosphere of exuberance and anticipation.

This market watching and predicting thing really is just a setup and the deadliest trap in the money world. It is driving the uninformed and novices to jump in with both feet or just try the water.

And this urge to stick your toes in grows logarithmically with each new high, each big move by one of the tech companies, or each time the market proves all the bears and market skeptics wrong.

It seems like nothing can stop this juggernaut but – just as new highs are what markets do – sell-offs and corrections are just as much a part of the genetic makeup of all markets. And no one can call the top or the bottom.

The losses that will result from the little guy jumping in and out of the market based on his best guess will be huge. But if you’re more than 55 years old and, like most of us, have no way to replace the money you will lose – not might lose, will lose to the new national sport of market top guessing – this will be catastrophic.

If there has ever been a time for patience and relying on your experience – which I hope has taught you to never allow emotions or urges to interfere in your money decision making – now is that time.

Most analysts are calling for another big year in stocks, so the urge to step outside our risk envelope will only get greater.

If you have never paid attention to anything I have said here, or if you’re one of my critics – yes, as hard as it is to believe, some people don’t like me, I know – listen to me now.

Get in your risk envelope, where you feel safe no matter what happens in the market, and stay there. Now is not the time to get frisky or go cowboy.

Hunker down, hold your stocks and bonds, and prepare yourself mentally for the inevitable sell-off.

That’s it. That’s your big slap warning for the start of 2018.

Good investing,