Intelligent investing

By Arthur Levin

Jason Zweig has written one of the best personal finance columns for years, “The Intelligent Investor” for the Wall Street Journal. Recently he topped it with a piece that describes his vision of personal finance writing. He describes his job as saving investors from themselves. It is a must read, but I’ll give you a couple of excerpts here:

“That’s because good advice rarely changes, while markets change constantly. The temptation to pander is almost irresistible. And while people need good advice, what they want is advice that sounds good.  The advice that sounds the best in the short run is always the most dangerous in the long run.

Arthur Levin
Arthur Levin

“Everyone wants the secret, the key, the roadmap to the primrose path that leads to El Dorado: the magical low-risk, high-return investment that can double your money in no time. Everyone wants to chase the returns of whatever has been hottest and to shun whatever has gone cold. Most financial journalism, like most of Wall Street itself, is dedicated to a basic principle of marketing: When the ducks quack, feed ‘em. In practice, for most of the media, that requires telling people to buy Internet stocks in 1999 and early 2000; explaining, in 2005 and 2006, how to ‘flip’ houses.

“It’s no wonder that, as brilliant research by the psychologist Paul Andreassen showed many years ago, people who receive frequent news updates on their investments earn lower returns than those who get no news. It’s also no wonder that the media has ignored those findings. Not many people care to admit that they spend their careers being part of the problem instead of trying to be part of the solution.

Our job, as I see it, is to learn from other people’s mistakes and our own. Above all, it means trying to save people from themselves. As the founder of security analysis, Benjamin Graham, wrote in The Intelligent Investor in 1949: ‘The investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.’ ”

This article was written by Dorsey Wright and Associates and provided by Arthur Levin, Senior Vice President – Investments, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Beaufort, South Carolina, 843-524-1114. 

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