"I tell these tales to illustrate certain fundamentals of investing:
You don't need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren't, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don't swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick "no."
Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don't feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset's future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn't necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.
If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it.
With my two small investments, I thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations. Games are won by players who focus on the playing field -- not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.
Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle's scathing comment: "You don't know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.")"...excerpts taken from HERE
"...You’ll never hear the crash coming ... then suddenly it blindsides you.
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car ... like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
One moment we’re playing musical chairs, excited, in denial, convinced we can pocket a few more winnings before the inevitable. Convinced we know when, where, how to exit. Then the “thief in the night” suddenly attacks, catches us by surprise. Even then, in our denial, we may keep telling ourselves it’s just another short-term correction in a hot bull market. Until suddenly, it’s more than an accelerating sports car ... it’s a Mack truck roaring loudly.
Both optimism and fear are inside jobs. But the early warnings come long and loud from outside us. But our brains are programmed, constantly choosing between this new information and our long-held beliefs, personal biases and ideologies. Which invariably override new information to the contrary. How else can we explain why just before the 2008 global banking collapse our own Treasury secretary, a long-time former CEO of Goldman Sachs, told Fortune that the economy was the best he had seen in his professional lifetime? It was not. But his belief wouldn’t let him be confused by the facts.
Predicting crashes: Forget consensus. Forget Soros $1.3 billion bet
How to predict a crash? The secret is programmed in your brain, your genes, your psychological personality profile. You’ll do what you always do. Look within. You’ll keep playing your own version of musical chairs, either naturally bullish or naturally bearish, timing your exit strategy to suit your risk tolerance, your judgments, your beliefs, biases, ideologies, not the data.
Yes, you will read new warnings, like “ Soros doubles a bearish bet on the S&P 500, to the tune of $1.3 billion.” You may double down too. Or do nothing. You may listen to Hulbert, Gross, Gundlach, Ellis, Shilling, Roubini and Schiff. And still do nothing. Or something. You will listen, take it all in, and do what you always do. Your way, based not so much on all the warnings, the facts, evidence, predictions. Rather you’ll make your own decisions based on some inner consensus of voices that always guides you from deep inside your brain.
But when the Mack truck suddenly shifts into high gear ... accelerating rapidly ... finally catching all of us by surprise... none of this will matter ... you’ll never hear it coming ... till too late ... few did in 1929, in spite of all the warnings ... you didn’t hear in 2000 ... nor in 2008 ... nobody will in 2014 ... the Mack truck will finally catch all by surprise, once again"...Read more
"There are eerie parallels between the stock market’s recent behavior and how it behaved right before the 1929 crash.
That at least is the conclusion reached by a frightening chart that has been making the rounds on Wall Street. The chart superimposes the market’s recent performance on top of a plot of its gyrations in 1928 and 1929.
The picture isn’t pretty. And it’s not as easy as you might think to wriggle out from underneath the bearish significance of this chart.
I should know, because I quoted a number of this chart’s skeptics in a column I wrote in early December. Yet the market over the last two months has continued to more or less closely follow the 1928-29 pattern outlined in that two-months-ago chart. If this correlation continues, the market faces a particularly rough period later this month and in early March. (See chart, courtesy of Tom McClellan of the McClellan Market Report; he in turn gives credit to Tom DeMark, a noted technical analyst who is the founder and CEO of DeMark Analytics.)
One of the biggest objections I heard two months ago was that the chart is a shameless exercise in after-the-fact retrofitting of the recent data to some past price pattern. But that objection has lost much of its force. The chart was first publicized in late November of last year, and the correlation since then certainly appears to be just as close as it was before.
To be sure, as McClellan acknowledged: “Every pattern analog I have ever studied breaks correlation eventually, and often at the point when I am most counting on it to continue working. So there is no guarantee that the market has to continue following through with every step of the 1929 pattern. But between now and May 2014, there is plenty of reason for caution.”
Tom Demark added in interview that he first drew parallels with the 1928-1929 period well before last November. “Originally, I drew it for entertainment purposes only,” he said—but no longer: “Now it’s evolved into something more serious.”" - ByMark Hulbert, MarketWatch...read more