Reblog: How to Tell a Stock Market Correction From a Crash


News that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down several hundred points sends shivers down the spine of even the most weathered investor. Such drops, while infrequent, can be scary because it’s impossible to predict how severe or long-lasting losses will be. And even if you trust the market will eventually rebound (as it always has), it’s hard to watch the value of your investments shrink before your eyes.

In the immediate term, people will argue about what to call it — a crash? A correction? Leave the vernacular to others, and instead understand what’s causing the market to fall. This knowledge may not bring your money back right away, but it could help you prepare for the market’s next move up or take advantage of lower stock prices in the meantime.

Defining a drop in the stock market


Reblog: Charlie Munger on Getting Rich, Wisdom, Focus, Fake Knowledge and More


“In the chronicles of American financial history,” writes David Clark in The Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth, “Charlie Munger will be seen as the proverbial enigma wrapped in a paradox—he is both a mystery and a contradiction at the same time.”

On one hand, Munger received an elite education and it shows: He went to Cal Tech to train as a meteorologist for the Second World War and then attended Harvard Law School and eventually opened his own law firm. That part of his success makes sense.

Yet here’s a man who never took a single course in economics, business, marketing, finance, psychology, or accounting, and managed to become one of the greatest, most admired, and most honorable businessmen of our age. He was noted by essentially all observers for the originality of his thoughts, especially about business and human behavior. You don’t learn that in law school, at Harvard or anywhere else.

Bill Gates said of him: “He is truly the broadest thinker I have ever encountered.” His business partner Warren Buffett put it another way: “He comes equipped for rationality… I would say that to try and typecast Charlie in terms of any other human that I can think of, no one would fit. He’s got his own mold.”

How does such an extreme result happen? How is such an original and unduly capable mind formed? In the case of Munger, it’s clearly a combination of unusual genetics and an unusual approach to learning and life.

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Reblog: 13 Simple Rules for Better Investing


The fund industry has grown massively in the last 25 years, and it has changed to a better-run, more professional, and lower-cost business, Here are some key lessons for investors:

  1. Build a plan for multiple investment goals and stick to it.
  2. Align your investments with each goal.
  3. Keep costs low, but evaluate whether some services like paying for financial or tax advice are worth the price if you don’t have the time or investing acumen to do it yourself.
  4. Choose funds that are good bets for five years from now because they have the depth of managers and analysts, low costs, and strong stew­ardship to keep them on the right path.
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Reblog: Separating the Dos From the Don’ts of Investing


In late July, Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks put out a memo describing current investment trends that could turn out to be mistakes. Marks urged caution on equity valuations, low volatility, FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google), ETFs, interest rates, private equity, venture capital and even bitcoin.

Caution alone is not an investment strategy, so Marks penned a follow-up memo last week to give investors six options for how to invest in a low-return world:

  1. Invest as you always have and expect your historic returns.
  2. Invest as you always have and settle for today’s low returns.
  3. Reduce risk to prepare for a correction and accept still lower returns.
  4. Go to cash at near-zero return and wait for a better environment.
  5. Increase risk in pursuit of higher returns.
  6. Put more into special niches and special investment managers.

 And here’s how he would proceed, given today’s choices:

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Reblog: The Individual Investor’s Edge


“The goal of the non-professional should not be to pick winners – neither he nor his “helpers” can do that – but should rather be to own a cross-section of businesses that in aggregate are bound to do well. A low-cost S&P 500 index fund will achieve this goal.” — Warren Buffett, 2013 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

As Albert Einstein wisely stated, compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world:  He who understands it earns it while he who doesn’t pay it.  The vast majority of individuals who take the initiative to accumulate savings should follow Warren Buffett’s advice on using index funds and dollar cost averaging to achieve satisfactory returns over time.  For those earning at or above the median wage in the United States, it would be very difficult to end up poor if one simply saves ten to fifteen percent of gross income and dollar cost averages into the S&P 500 over several decades.

But what about non-professional individual investors who want to achieve better than average results?  In the short run, the stock market resembles a manic-depressive character who bids up prices one day and sends them down the following day without much of a reason for the change in sentiment.  Benjamin Graham’s “Mr. Market” character perfectly personifies the psychology of financial markets in the short run.

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Reblog: 25 Powerful Trading Lessons From Jesse Livermore


jesse livermore

Born in 1877, Jesse Livermore is possibly the most famous trader in history.

He started trading at the age of 14 from bucket shops. His tape reading skill was so good that these bucket shops eventually didn’t want to do business with him.

At his peak in 1929, he was worth $100 million. Ultimately, he lost his entire fortune when he broke his trading rules.

The same trading rules which made him millions, caused him to lose everything when he lost control of himself.

Still, there are valuable lessons to be learned from Jesse Livermore’s trading experience.

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Reblog: Philip Fisher’s 15 point checklist for investing in stocks


We recently came across Philip Fisher’s checklist for investing in stocks in Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings and thought it was worth reproducing here. Fisher was one of the most famous investors in his story. As his son, Kenneth (renowned as an investor in his right) wrote in his obituary:  “Among the pioneer, formative thinkers in the growth stock school of investing, [Philip] may have been the last professional witnessing the 1929 crash to go on to become a big name. His career spanned 74 years, but was more diverse than growth stock picking. For decades, big names in investing claimed Dad as a mentor, role model and inspiration.”

15 Points to Look for in a Common Stock

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Reblog: A Few Things I Learned Watching a Hedge Fund Manager Lose $4 Billion on One Trade


Maybe you also followed this story. Or maybe not. But basically a really big hedge fund manager, one of those guys who people quote and probably talk about at Harvard Business School, placed a super big bet on this company called Valeant.

Valeant is a pharmaceutical company trying to cure problems with skin and infectious diseases. They actually also own Bausch Lomb so that means they have a giant eye care business.

This hedge fund manager made a bet that Valeant would keep growing their business, diversifying, and acquiring. He once even called them the next “Berkshire Hathaway.”

This thesis turned out to be wrong. Like really wrong. The company crashed. People started to call Valeant out for jacking up the prices of their drugs. They also were apparently doing some dicey bookkeeping things. Just Google “Philidor Valeant scandal” if you want to learn more about that.

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Reblog: The Top 10 Biases of Emotional Investing


Emotions aren’t always your friend when it comes to investing. In fact, they can lead to trouble in some very specific ways…

Here’s today’s understatement of the year: emotion plays a major role in investing.

Whether it’s the gold rush leading to 2008’s crash, momentum trends that cause a stock to orbit its true value or the irrational exuberance of the 1990s, the stock market is filled with people who act like, well… human beings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has its strongest expression when it comes to individual investors.

That’s not always bad. Emotions come into any big decision, and it’s important to feel good about your portfolio. Emotions dictate risk tolerance, after all. The same goes for picking companies with a strong sense of mission. Those are the decisions that help you sleep at night.

The problems start when emotions become biases. That’s when you, as an investor, can make bad choices that don’t leave you personally or financially any better off. What do those biases look like? Here are the top ten to keep an eye out for the next time you open up the portfolio…

10. Overconfidence

Bias: Focusing on an actual or perceived expertise on a narrow slice of the market

Overconfidence isn’t necessarily what it sounds like. Yes, sometimes this bias is caused by an investor who knows less than he thinks. That guy who caught 15 minutes of “Mad Money” and then gives lectures at a dinner party is a classic example.

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Reblog: Why Our Emotions Ruin Investing Decisions


Listen to this article

Markets are at the whim of shocks and surprises. No doubt that last year’s surprising Brexit referendum result and Trump’s impressive presidential election win remind us of that. When it comes to taking risks, humans are not (necessarily) equipped to deal with the rollercoaster world of risks and investing in a level-headed way.

Humans Can Be Their Own Worst Enemies

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