Ritholtz: Shut off the TV and Think Long Term

Barry Ritholtz of FusionIQ and The Big Picture blog has some advice for investors: Shut off your TV, and don’t listen to the “experts” in the financial media.

“Studies have shown that the most confident, specific and detailed forecasts about the future are: a) most likely to be believed by readers and TV viewers; and b) least likely to be correct,” Ritholtz tells Financial Advisor magazine. Humans, he says, are not good at all at forecasting, and he readily admits that any forecast he could offer would be useless. “My opinion as to the future state of the economy or where the market might be going will be of no value to your readers,” he says. “Indeed, as my blog readers will tell you, I doubt anyone’s perspectives on these issues are of any value whatsoever.”

Ritholtz says what’s of value is looking at the present, and trying to put it in context. And right now, he says, “Markets are neither cheap nor expensive. The psychology out there is that the public remains wary — of everything that burned them over the past few years. I believe many factors are leading to a sort of delegitimization of investing in the eyes of the public. Everything from lack of prosecution of bankers to HFT [high frequency trading] is causing the public to turn their collective backs on stocks. This is a normal part of the psychology cycle; typically, a bull market will end this disregard.”

Ritholtz cites three issues that he’s most concerned with right now: high frequency trading, Too Big To Fail, and derivatives. He offers his take on how to address them.

Ritholtz’s advice to financial advisors: “Learn to think in terms of years and decades, not days or weeks. Use a good asset allocation model to own a broad and diverse (low fee) asset classes. Rebalance regularly. Give up the stock picking (leave that to the idiots on TV). Oh, and shut the TV altogether.”




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