Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Sorry for not posting since Monday but sometimes real life gets in the way.

Anyway, today's post title is probably the most annoying catch phrase since yada yada yada - not that there's anything wrong with that. But indeed the S&P 500 did accomplish its first mission of reaching 805 (actually 803, but that is close enough). Now we have to see what happens here.

Will it back down as everyone realizes that this was just a dead elephant bounce (cats are too small to matter in this market)?

Or will it rest for a bit, defying the nattering nabobs, before marching on its next mission higher?

No, I am not calling for a bull market but these little bear rallies are fun. At least they get my relatives off my back clamoring to "get me out!"

Here's my take on the relatives and this can be extrapolated to the public in general:

My father-in-law called me to sell all his mutual fund holdings on October 10, November 21 and March 6. (I already sold half his stuff many, many months earlier). Notice anything about those dates? Yep - exactly the major lows in the market.

I finally acquiesced to his panic on March 6 because he was really serious - and really scared - that day. After all, it is his money. But the technician in me was screaming and I only sold a few percent. Of course, that was the low and the Dow rallied almost 400 the next day.

Nothing we have not heard before. But the very next day he calls with a "you just can't win" tone of defeat thinking that he made a major mistake and sold out at the absolute bottom. You could feel his elation when I told him that I only sold a little.

So what was his next question? You guessed it! "Should I buy something?"

I reached through the phone and smacked him in the back of his head.

Anyway, multiply that several thousand fold and conclude that there is another round of scaring the pants off everyone coming before this bear market is over. But as I wrote in Barron's Online, I don't think it will set a new low.


Unknown said...

Michael, go to the Barron's archives from the early to mid 1990's. One of the most memorable articles I have ever read on investing was from a guest columnist for that old issue of Barron's.

From what I recall, he was an investment advisor with the first name of "Rod" (can't recall his last name) and he told a tale of a client of his who was unlike all the rest of his clients. This client was heavily invested in an Israeli tech stock with the name that began with the letters of "Ec" (pretty sure) and was not scared of the recent weakness in the market and especially the stock and wanted to average down because he researched the company well and they had some very promising products. He then did so and kept buying every time it made a new high after it rebounded and ended up making a fortune on the stock.

You would do well to dig up that old Barron's column and show it to your father-in-law. It will probably change his outlook on investing. I know it changed mine. If you could reprint here, that would be great. I would love to re-read it again.

Unknown said...

After more thought it might have been a company called Scitex.

Michael Kahn said...

The farthest back I can search a keyword in Barron's is 1996.

But as for my father-in-=law, that's why they created wealth managers and advisors. They keep clients from doing dumb things.