Deep Truths about the Markets and Investing

I’ve had a lot of new visitors to the site recently so I thought I’d re-run one of my favorite posts. This is a list of Deep Truths about the Markets and Investing.

In his 1988 Baseball Abstract, Bill James listed a number of lessons had had learned so far through his study of baseball statistics. In that vein, I’ll list some observations that I’ve learned over the years:

The Federal Reserve isn’t nearly as powerful as is commonly believed.

There isn’t a person or group of people in charge of the market.

There’s no such thing as a “healthy correction.”

Good stocks can go down for no reason.

Bad stocks can go up for no reason.

A trend can last much longer than you thought possible.

Stocks don’t know you own them.

The market doesn’t care about politics.

The most important variable to the stock market, by far, is the direction of long-term interest rates.

Mega-mergers rarely work.

Investment bubbles aren’t due to the moral failings of the market participants.

Ignore anyone who tells you that the Federal Reserve is a private bank.

Commodities are almost always terrible investments.

The stock market hates inflation. The only thing it hates more is deflation.

The best environment for stocks is a low stable inflation rate.

As an investment tool, P/E Ratios work much better for individual stocks than for the market as a whole.

The best three fundamental metrics are (in order) ROE, Debt Ratios and Cash Flow.

Wherever possible, seek out stocks with expanding margins.

Dividends are underrated by investors, especially companies that consistently raise them.

Portfolio diversity is overrated.

As a general rule, IPOs are a bad deal.

Boring but profitable always beats exciting and unprofitable.

CAPM and MPT are nonsense.

No one can consistently time the market. No one.

The Equity Risk Premium (over long-term debt) is probably much smaller than commonly believed.

The data showing a return premium for small-cap stocks is probably wrong.

The media never questions the bond market. Only stock investors are “greedy.”

Perma-bears are never held to account for being wrong so if you want to sound smart, be very bearish and very vague.

The market really does “climb a wall of worry.”

Follow unfollowed stocks.

The market is self-aware. Scary but true.

It’s far easier to rationalize selling than buying.

The market isn’t efficient—it can be beaten.

But it’s very, very, very, very hard.

Most technical analysis is complete garbage.

A high P/E Ratio is much better sign of a stock to sell than a low P/E Ratio is a sign to buy.

It’s pointless to measure the stock market relative to gold or in euros or pork bellies or whatever else people can come up with.

Ignore any chart that has seemingly similar lines trying to show how this market is “just like’ the one in 1831.

Except at very low levels, volatility is neutral.

Many gold bugs are quite simply fanatics.

Whatever the issue, your typical finance professor will blame the investing public and urge more self-denial as the solution. Bank on it.

Never base an investment decision of demographics.

The worst investor in the world is the guy holding on to a small loss waiting for the rally because “they don’t want to take the loss.” Again, the stock doesn’t know you own it.

Very, very few serious companies are traded on the pink sheets.

Never stress out about what a stock does after you sell it.

Posted by on November 13th, 2012 at 11:53 am

The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.