The world is oversupplied with oil, U.S. interest rates are rising and international prospects look dim, with slowing growth in China and persistent troubles in Europe and Japan. How should investors react?
When asset prices decline, people naturally want to take action to alleviate the pain. Yet sometimes no action is the best reaction. Trying to avoid the next market meltdown or identify the next hot market is a siren song for all investors, but even professional investors are collectively unsuccessful when they try to time buying into or selling out of particular investments. For the 15 years ending December 31, 2014, only 19 percent of stock mutual funds and 8 percent of bond mutual funds survived and outperformed their indexes, according to data from Dimensional Fund Advisors and the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago.
Knowing a bit more about how the markets work can help you understand why maintaining a consistent, diversified approach to investing is the right philosophy for achieving long-term success, regardless of the crisis du jour.
Understanding Valuation Principles
The basic theory behind investing is easy to understand: Buy low; sell high. However, determining what an investment is worth, and thus which investments are underpriced and which are overpriced, is not as easy as it seems.
U.S. Treasury Regulations define “fair market value” for federal tax purposes as “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.” Essentially, this describes what happens in the stock market every day. Two independent parties reach a mutually agreed-upon price at which to trade an investment.
This definition also encapsulates one of the theories of valuation: An investment is worth only as much as someone else is willing to pay for it. If people are enamored with tulip bulbs, Beanie Babies, tech stocks, real estate or gold, they might pay ever-higher prices that seem to have little rationale. The buyers of a seemingly overpriced asset might just be hoping they find a greater fool who will buy it from them at an even more inflated price. The possibility that they are, in fact, that greater fool scares many investors.
On the other hand, there is another theory of valuation that says each investment has an intrinsic value, which can be determined through due diligence. Most investors consider this intrinsic value when they try to price an investment based on the current value of its future cash flow. However, this second method is not as robust as it sounds, because it still relies on the investor’s assumptions. The future cash flow of most investments is not certain, regardless of how much research an investor performs. As a result of this uncertainty, any valuation can be justified based on a given prediction, though thoughtful analysis should still result in a more accurate assessment of intrinsic value.
Each investor makes certain assumptions about the future and has reasons to buy or sell an investment. Every time a trade occurs, it is another affirmation that two parties agreed on an appropriate fair market value for the investment at that time. In this way, the market incorporates the collective wisdom of all investors’ different predictions of the future.
The degree to which a market’s prices are accurate and its mispricings are unpredictable is known as a market’s efficiency. Efficiency varies by markets. Markets with more participants, a freer flow of information, better-informed participants and more trading tend to be more efficient than markets that lack these features.
But markets are not perfect, and mispricings occur from time to time as a result of many investors either choosing to ignore intrinsic value or incorporating incorrect assumptions in their fundamental analysis. These mispricings tend to be random in efficient markets, and it is hard to know when your viewpoint is smarter than the collective wisdom of the market. You should only attempt to outperform an index if you believe that you, or someone you hire, can secure a sustainable advantage versus other market participants.
Avoiding The Temptation To Time The Market
Many of us think we are smarter than the average investor, so we should be able to outperform the market. We read headlines about the hedge fund manager or other star investor who profited handsomely by accurately predicting the last unexpected event. The next time you hear about these predictions, remember this quotation from Malcolm Gladwell: “If you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous.”
One investor may get several predictions wrong before getting one right and may be too early with his or her prediction. In hindsight, we will recognize such clairvoyance, but before the unexpected occurs, multiple experts would likely predict wholly different scenarios. The majority of professional investors underperform the market, and those who consistently outperform may do so by chance.
While experts who have a contrarian viewpoint that is ahead of the market might outperform the market as a whole, individual investors will have a much more difficult time succeeding. If you expect a recession based on something you read in The Wall Street Journal or heard on CNN, it is likely pointless to trade on that information, because that possibility is already incorporated into the current market price of investments. Similarly, if you read a story about a company’s breakthrough product, it is also too late to buy that stock. Trading based on your own theories should only result in excess profits if your viewpoints are more accurate than the market’s view as a whole.
If I expect gas prices to go up next week, I will fill my tank today, even if I have plenty of gas. If I expect prices to go down, I’ll roll into the gas station on fumes next week. Markets work the same way to incorporate people’s expectations of the future.
If a region, sector or company is likely to produce higher output in the future, the stock market often takes notice of this and prices the expectation into the current valuation. The stocks go up, even though the good news or growth has not yet arrived. So if investors already anticipate substantial growth in a country, that market’s future returns might not exceed those of a slower-growing economy, since the faster growth was already accounted for in the original market price. An investment is most likely to outperform when its prospects or earnings exceed the market’s expectations.
Under these circumstances, growing a portfolio is not as easy as identifying the market with the highest potential for growth in future output, and investing accordingly. One of the biggest mistakes investors make is trying to trade based on a very accurate prediction for which the market has already accounted.
Investors can get a little more information about how expensive a company or market is by looking beyond recent stock market movements. Just because markets have declined does not mean their value cannot fall further. Nothing in the laws of math or the markets prevents an investment that has fallen 50 percent from declining another 90 percent. For this reason, you should not concentrate your portfolio in an area that has had recent trouble with the hope of it bouncing back.
Experienced investors often look at certain valuation metrics to give them an idea of how expensive an investment is. The most widely known of these measures is a stock’s price-to-earnings ratio, but there are several others, including its price-to-book value, price to cash flow and dividend yield. These measures provide more information than just looking at a market’s recent moves, and they can be compared across time and across markets to determine a market’s relative valuation. However, again investors as a whole might be correct to seemingly over- or underprice a market, and it is hard to know when the market is wrong.
You can find substantial support to prove that almost any valuation is right, and probably just as much to prove that it is wrong. Cheap markets can get cheaper, and frothy markets can get more expensive.
Those who invest in the market do so with the aim of maximizing their profits. Unless you think you know something of which others in the market are unaware, think twice before changing your portfolio. Markets quickly incorporate new information into prices, and you are unlikely to be trading ahead of the crowd.
The markets often crash. Yes, this is nothing new. This happens more often than we realize, if only for a day or two.
The question is: were you prepared?
Ready to sell marginal positions
Ready to buy
It is one thing to jettison marginal positions. They are the easy ones to spot – barely making any gains or sliding backwards slowly but surely. When the market hits a bump or sell-off, why not throw these out.
On the other hand, the tough one is being ready to take advantage of a downturn in the markets and but when the prices are low.
Here are a few ideas on how to take advantage of sell-offs to grab new positions:
Look at the equity curve of the ticker symbols in your groups or groups in your investment software to see which ones have had the most upward momentum.
If you are using a trading strategy, check the rankings of the symbols in your groups to see which ones have been at the top the past few weeks or months.
Compare your ticker symbols against a benchmark like the S&P 500 in either a combo chart or in a ranking to discover those symbols out-performing the market.
Note of caution, many big market drops last only a few days. This means:
It may not be necessary to sell any positions.
The opportunity to buy at a lower price is limited – time is short.
If your investment software has a number of trading strategies then abrupt market changes can be a good time to evaluate your strategies.
Compare your strategies performances in a combination chart to see if one is out-performing the others
Examine the equity curve of your strategies to make sure you are using one that is performing well and not in decline.
Keep a positive outlook. The market always rebounds. The only question is how quickly. But apply these ideas with some investment software and you can find safe profitable investments.
Author Raymond Dominick is the designer of Dynamic Investor Pro investment software for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. He is the author of the book, “Invest Safely and Profitably.” He began investing in the markets in his teenage years. An experienced business manager and journalist, he has been a registered investment advisor representative, also a professional photographer who loves escaping to the wonders of Glacier National Park in Montana.
Senator Bernie Sanders voiced his disagreement to President Obama’s big trade deal. Organized labor in the U.S. argued, during the negotiations, that the trade deal would largely benefit corporations at the expense of workers in the manufacturing and service industries. The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have argued that the TPP could result in job losses and declining wages.
Obama was granted fast-track authority to negotiate this and other trade contracts with various countries. Obama contended that this authority was important to completing the TPP then sending it to Congress for a vote. The Senate won’t have the ability to delay the TPP and lawmakers will not be able to change it. Supporters say that the TPP would force China to increase standards and regulations.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP has become additionally politically combative with groups worried about trade contracts. The TPP is not the only one, but it is a very big one and the negotiations are complete.
It began with a trade contract between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore that came into effect in 2006. That arrangement detached tariffs, intellectual property, and trading policies on most goods traded between the countries. The TPP has grown into a giant free trade deal between the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. TPP wants to extend economic bonds between these nations, cutting tariffs on goods and services, and raising trade to increase growth. The 12 countries have a population of about 800 million and are accountable for 40% of the world’s GDP and 26% of the world’s trade. The deal is a notable achievement given the very different approaches and standards within the member countries mention the special protections that some countries have for certain industries. That makes it roughly the same size as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, another trade contract currently being used. The contract could make a new single marketplace like the EU.
After too many years of American foreign policy being bogged down in the Middle East, the Obama administration is aiming its focus on Asia. The TPP is the focus of the US economic re-balancing and a stage for regional monetary integration. Some say the TPP goes further, as an effort to contain China and provide a monetary counterbalance to it in the area. Many parts of the TPP are designed to exclude China. The TPP is thought to be a strategy to keep China contained.
Most of the disapproval for the TPP has been for the mysterious consultations, in which countries were planning to be bringing in large changes for the countries’ futures without voters’ knowledge. But much of what has been exposed involves changes to intellectual property, state owned property, and international courts. The TPP, as well as other trade deals, have a wide array of regulatory and legal concerns that make the deals influential on foreign policy and US lawmaking.
Information on the TPP’s effect on intellectual property has exposed that the U.S. has been forcing tougher copyright security for music and film, as well as more comprehensive and longer-lasting patents. The TPP would also increase the difficulty of the approval procedure for generic drug makers and extend protections for biologic medicines, which has concerned members of Congress. Public health and internet groups have campaigned hard against the TPP for a long time about these matters because it may restrict public access to knowledge.
Many TPP governments basically own huge portions of their economies. Discussions have intended to limit public support for public sector businesses in order to raise competition with the private sector. But some assert it gives companies the ability to sue governments that change policy to favor public-provided services. The TPP will is also said to increase competition between nations’ work forces.
After World War II, investors were concerned about investing money in 3rd world countries, where the legal systems were not as reliable. They were concerned that an investment is made in country one day only to watch a dictator repossess it later. Enter the provision called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. The ISDS was installed in previous trade contracts, and is installed in the TPP, to encourage foreign investment in countries with weak legal systems. The ISDS could lead to huge penalties in the event that steps are taken of a country confiscating corporate assets. The ISDS provision in the TPP would also tip the balance of power in the US further in favor of huge multinational corporations and weaken U.S. autonomy.
Are you willing to invest in a more long-term and reliable organic traffic source for your website? Then let’s look at a search engine that can assist you in increasing your traffic.
Interview an Influencer or Get Interviewed by a High-traffic Website
Have you heard of Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour Work Week?
His podcast is nowadays a staple content type that he provides to his viewers. Tim’s show has world-class performers who share their insights on a variety of topics, and he is well-liked on social media. Do Tim’s fans enjoy the show? So far, the show has received over 50 million downloads. On most days, it’s the most popular business podcast on iTunes.
Interviews, whether on video or audio, are inherently conversational, lively, and engaging. The great aspect is that it’s a win-win situation for both sides. The interviewer is exposed to a new audience, while the interviewee is able to provide his website visitors with new fascinating and authoritative information. You can ask an industry influencer to share your interview with their followers on social media if you interview them. Consider the organic traffic you’ll get from their social media followers, which number in the hundreds of thousands. Consider the level of interest generated by a prior Derek Sivers interview on the Tim Ferriss Show. Derek shared the show’s URL with his 283K followers on Twitter. It won’t hurt if you establish a relationship with the influencer as a result of the interview.
Similarly, being interviewed by a high-ranking website can result in a significant increase in search engine traffic. Harsh Agrawal’s blog, Shoutmeloud, received 35,000+ views in a single day after he was profiled by YourStory. That was the blog’s most popular search engine traffic source (with 600,000+ monthly visitors). Because interviews provide consolidated value, they can be used as a long-term lead generating source for your company. Consider how many bloggers you’ve learned about through interviews on YouTube and other high-authority websites.
You may also conduct a Reddit AMA if you have a very compelling storey to tell. Mateen’s AMA got about generating $85,000 in profit by selling TeeSpring shirts/hoodies received 2000 page views. He also boosted the number of visitors to his website on a daily basis.
By registering as a source with HARO, you can also answer queries from journalists. On HARO, Christopher from Snappa came across this question from Inc Magazine about the future of content marketing. He swiftly responded with a thorough response. He was mentioned in Inc a few weeks later as a result of this. HARO is an excellent strategy to have your brand mentioned on authoritative news sites such as Entrepreneur and Inc. Those backlinks will enhance your search engine traffic and increase your marketing strategy by improving your reputation in Google’s eyes. Contact an SEO agency to find out how you can do this and how they can manage it for you while you work on the bottom line of your business.