All of us have our emotional and intellectual weaknesses, and it's important not to let them get in the way of our investing.
Morgan Housel, a columnist at the Motley Fool, cites several pitfalls to avoid in The Wall Street Journal.
- "Feeling certain." If you start thinking that you know for sure what's going to happen to a financial market or individual security, get yourself in check, he writes. "There are no certainties in markets, only probabilities."
- "Extrapolating the recent past into the future." Just because a financial market or individual stock or bond has performed a certain way in the past few weeks doesn't mean it will continue to do so. "The easiest, and often most common, forecast is to assume the future will resemble the recent past," Housel says.
- "Impatience. Investing requires, more than anything, patience and discipline. But it often attracts the impatient and impulsive." When you engage in short-term trading, you risk racking up big losses and missing out on long-term gains.
Meanwhile, Nobel laureate economist Robert Shiller has warned in recent months that bubbles may be brewing for stocks and bonds.
So it should come as no surprise that the Yale professor told Yahoo Finance,
"this is not the golden age for investing, and we shouldn’t assume that it’s going to be as it always was."
Shiller's cyclically-adjusted price-earnings ratio for the S&P 500, which encompasses 10 years of earnings, is higher than any time except 1929, 2000 and 2007, periods that were followed by stock-market crashes.
As for bonds, with yields so close to zero, prices have no place to go but down, Shiller has pointed out. The 10-year Treasury yield stood at 2 percent.
So what are we to do as investors?
"The first solution for an individual is to save more," he said. "That’s advice which I give to individuals thinking that they aren’t going to take it. If everybody saved more, then we’d have a problem."
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