Insights & Advice


Boring is good

Over the last three weeks or so the averages have been hovering around the same levels. That’s made it tough for the talking heads and the rest of the financial media to hold your attention. I’m hoping for more of the same.

You see, the financial media has conditioned us to expect that something exceedingly negative (or positive) will happen to your portfolios just about every single day. How else will they maintain your interest? Sometimes it pays to remember that much of what happens in the investment world on a day-to-day basis is simply boring to all but a few of us.

Of course, over the last few years, there truly have been binary events that have heightened the drama surrounding investments. All of those events have been written about ad infinitum both here and in millions of other columns, blogs, radio and television shows. That coverage has had little impact on your portfolio returns although it has done wonders for the media’s advertising revenues.

Fortunately for you, it appears we have hit a sweet spot where the news is good if less than exciting. The economy is growing, unemployment dropping, the politicians cooperating and all of it is occurring at a measured pace.

That presents problems for people like me. How do we keep you reading/watching when there is so little to say? Well, for the most part, the media has to manufacture that sense of breathless fear and excitement. It needs to tell you why the market is too high or that it is going much, much higher. So we trot out dozens of market timers, forecasters, analysts, technicians and when that’s not enough, soothsayers, (whether bulls or bears) to create an environment of “either/or” type drama akin to what you may see on a reality show.

Frankly, for most of us, whether the most recent inflation number is off by .003% or the economy failed to grow at whatever the ordained growth rate happens to be for that quarter will make little difference to our portfolios a week from now.

Does it really matter that last week’s investment newsletter writers survey is the most bullish it has been in 13 years? If you are a contrarian, maybe it has some minor importance, but should you react to the news by becoming more bullish or bearish on the market? No.

Fortunately, for most of us, we have our day jobs, so the amount of time we can devote to listening and reading what, in my opinion, is 90% noise and 10% education is limited. Unfortunately, that is not true for many retirees, who have nothing better to do than sit in front of the television and stress about their portfolios.

For those who do, I suggest you find some other interests. It is not the number of hours or the number of newsletters (or columns) that you scrutinize that makes you an astute investor. It is how well you understand the basic fundamentals of how and why to invest. Once invested, the changes in your portfolio should be few and far between.

Today’s media is largely geared to an investor who doesn’t exist. They pander to the short-term, always a winner, maverick who can spot the opportunities and profit from them by just listening in to the show’s next segment. Treated properly, there is nothing wrong with these shows. They are simply financial “reality” shows. As such, they have little to do with your investment choices. Unfortunately, too many investors actually believe that what they read or see is what they will get.  Stay invested.






Posted in The Retired Advisor