Whitewater Stock Market
Ever done any whitewater rafting or canoeing? Long periods of tranquil river followed by short periods of terror. Suddenly the water grips your vessel and you are pushed and shoved by massive currents over which you have no control. Missing boulders you paddle as hard as you can. You almost lose everything and think to yourself, "Why didn't I portage that last rapid?"
Remind you of the stock market lately? Nice steady up moves of equity growth in your portfolio followed by gut-wrenching waterfalls when the market takes back most of your gains.
You got into that canoe because you wanted to. Did you have any lessons on how to control the ride or when it might be a good idea to portage? Maybe you didn't or maybe you got the wrong lesson. You didn't want to crash or drown.
The same goes for the stock market. You might have read a book on how to invest your money or worse yet you might have received information from a broker or financial planner whose reason for helping you is based on commission. If you are a small account don't plan on getting much "help".
Brokers are not taught how to make money. They are taught to make recommendations that will not get them sued if you lose your money. The basic Wall Street tenet of Buy and Hold is totally wrong. Unfortunately, even the brokers believe it. When you have a stock or mutual fund that is going down they never tell you to sell - "you are in for the long haul". WRONG. Of 33,000 stock recommendations last year only 127 were "sells". After stocks have declined 50% they tell you to "hold". You know where. Brokerage companies do not want to offend the corporate executives and mutual fund managers; they seem to have forgotten who is paying them.
When you are whitewater rafting you had better know how to guide yourself through or around the rapids to the calm water. When you invest in the market you must learn the first basic rule - protect your capital - so you won't crash and lose all you have worked for. In canoeing it means learning when to paddle or portage. With investing it means learning when to sell, be in cash and out of the market. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.