Home About Archives RSS Feed

Independent Investor: Fear and Loathing on Wall Street

Bill Schmick

It has been over a year since investors experienced the kind of sell-off that has beset the global stock markets this week. As of Thursday, most indexes have lost 10 percent or more. The jury is split on whether we are at the bottom or have more to go.

Most of the losses have occurred quickly, in around 8-9 days, which although painful, could be a blessing in disguise. Sharp, short corrections, in my opinion, are much better than corrections that drag on for months losing a little each day.

Of course, these large declines often trigger strong emotional reactions among investors but decisions based on panic rarely prove to be the right ones in hindsight. So I thought I would provide a little perspective on why the markets are selling off and whether or not you want to join the ranks of sellers.

Over the last few months, the macroeconomic data began to weaken. At first, economists explained that it was caused by bad weather, then the Japan earthquake, but as the numbers continued to come in at a less-than-expected rates investors grew increasingly nervous. Then last week, while all eyes were focused on the debt ceiling crisis, the Commerce Department announced that second quarter GDP came up short — 1.3 percent versus 1.7 percent expected. Even worse, the first quarter was revised downward to just 0.04 percent, a shockingly dismal performance.

That number, combined with an unemployment rate above 9 percent, plus continued uncertainty within the poorer countries of the EU, was enough to tip the scales. The trading range that the markets have been locked in since the end of April was finally resolved to the downside. Since then, we have broken several technical supports and are hovering just above a big one at 1,225 on the S&P 500 Index. If it breaks down and through this level, the chances of additional losses are quite high.

Sounds like doomsday, doesn't it? Well, the same thing happened last year for the same reasons. The economy was slowing, unemployment rising, Europe was in trouble and the markets dropped 16 percent from April 2010 through August. It was then that the Federal Reserve Bank announced the possibility of QE II. The markets reversed, exploded upward and investors never looked back.

Since March 2009 we have had seven such "dips." Each pullback was considered a buying opportunity and those investors that did so have been mightily rewarded. No one knows if this will be No. 8 or if we are going to continue lower. At some level, stock prices will become just too cheap for value buyers to remain on the sidelines. Some say we are at that level now.   

My advice is to decide how much you are willing to lose and when you reach that limit sell and move to the sidelines. For some investors that can mean 5 percent (you should already be out), others will accept 10 percent, while some might be willing to sustain even more. Once your limit is reached don't hesitate. Be prepared emotionally for the possibility that the markets could turn around a day after you sell out. Accept that if it happens, and don't beat yourself up for not staying the course.

For those of you who have bond investments, keep them since bonds and gold are benefiting from the stock selloff.

Bill Schmick is an independent investor with Berkshire Money Management. (See "About" for more information.) None of the information presented in any of these articles is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at (toll free) or e-mail him at wschmick@fairpoint.net . Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill's insights.

Tags: selloff, corrections      

Support Local News

We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.

How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.

News Headlines
Lenox Woman Scores With Retired Racehorse in Thoroughbred Competition
Wlliams Field Hockey Edges Bates
MCLA Women's Soccer Falls in OT
Clarksburg Down to One Select Board Member
Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership Discusses Priorities for Forest Center
Pittsfield YMCA Renovation To Begin In October
Williamstown to Resume Search for Town Manager
DA's Office Holding Town Hall Meetings Across County
MCLA to Distribute State, Federal Funding Directly to Students
North Adams Mayoral Candidates Debate at MCLA Forum
 
 


Categories:
@theMarket (386)
Independent Investor (451)
Retired Investor (63)
Archives:
October 2021 (6)
October 2020 (1)
September 2021 (9)
August 2021 (6)
July 2021 (8)
June 2021 (6)
May 2021 (6)
April 2021 (9)
March 2021 (8)
February 2021 (8)
January 2021 (5)
December 2020 (6)
November 2020 (8)
Tags:
Commodities Rally Stock Market Energy Economy Federal Reserve Wall Street Euro Selloff Europe Election Stimulus Japan Housing Crisis Deficit Congress Europe Interest Rates Markets Currency Metals Stocks Taxes Retirement Pullback Banks Fiscal Cliff Jobs Bailout Recession Debt Ceiling Greece Oil Debt
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
Independent Investor: Europe's Banking Crisis
@theMarket: A Week to Forget
@theMarket: The Bottom Is In
@theMarket: Corrections Are Good for the Soul
@theMarket: Let the Good Times Roll
@theMarket: 707 Days
@theMarket: One Down, One to Go
@theMarket: This Is the Year for Commodities
@theMarket: No More Than 5 Percent
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: Stocks Are Signaling an All-Clear
The Retired Investor: The Fed's Key Inflation Gauge
@theMarket: Markets Snap Out of Their Downtrend
The Retired Investor: Barbie Gets Better With Age
The Retried Investor: Golf Continues to Grow
@theMarket: Markets Are on the Cusp
The Retired Investor: Out of Gas
@theMarket: The Dip Buyers Return
The Retired Investor: Weather Worsens Global Trade
@theMarket: Markets Enter the Danger Zone