Friday, June 19, 2009

Stock Market Investment

To have a pre-disposition to buy and hold stocks for the long-term can be an extremely expensive frame of mind. The long-term market trend is up, but in a volatile stock market, the long-term gain is often laden with risk and not nearly as great as many short-term gains. Risk vs. return has greatly increased for the long-term stock market investor. People argue that tax consequences are their reason for holding. That argument lacks weight. It is very difficult for some people to break away from old habits and patterns of thinking about the stock market. Those who are unwilling to learn from market crashes are doomed to repeat the lesson.

A few years ago, investors were told that to buy and hold for the long-term was the wise course of action for investors because the long-term trend of the market is up. If you took any other approach, you were a speculator at best and a gambler at worst. Brokers and mutual fund managers were the most vocal proponents of this investment philosophy. The media also joined the chorus and the concept became a part of the "accepted" market lore. Investor thinking, in this regard, lost elasticity. What was overlooked was that selling a stock that has entered a phase of heightened risk actually reduces portfolio risk, whether it has been held a year or not. It is important for us to have clarity about the main issues relating to the length of an investor's holding period.

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