I receive the weekly email letter from the MF Australia team. I didn't realize they had been touring the U.S.MF headquarters, and during the quake no less!" Tuesday 30th August 2011Dear Fellow Share Market Investor,We've been away.Did we miss anything last week? The Motley Fool Australian team spent an eventful last 5 days over at our parent company's Washington D.C. office. Whilst there, the earth, and the 4th floor of Motley Fool Global HQ, shook for us in the region's first earthquake since 1897. For a wobbly 20 seconds, we're not afraid to admit our hearts were in our mouths.If that wasn't enough, we also had to contend with a small fire in the building, whilst watching Hurricane Irene take aim at the entire east coast of the country. We didn't hang around to feel the wrath of Irene, taking flight to the safety, warmth, traffic jams and eccentricity of Los Angeles.Phew. We're glad to be back in Australia, and back focusing on the markets."I'm happy to hear they made it back home safe and sound.Might as well post the rest of the letter. Part of it may not reproduce properly in this format."It was only a few weeks ago when global share markets were tanking.The economic news was terrible. Depending on what you read, or who you listened to, European banks were about to collapse en-masse and the U.S. was about to plunge into recession…again.Naturally, unable to stand on its own two feet, the Australian stock market, and indeed its economy, followed the rest of the world down, down and down.At one stage in August, the S&P/ASX 200 index had plunged 24% from mid April, a full-blown crash in anyone’s language.There was simply nowhere to hide…Company Share price movement: 11th April 2011 to 8th August 2011 BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) (26.1%) Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) (29.8%) Lynas Corporation (ASX: LYC) (30.8%) Boral Limited (ASX: BLD) (31.1%) Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN) (35.9%) David Jones (ASX: DJS) (42.0%) Karoon Gas Australia (ASX: KAR) (55.2%) Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’sSo bad were things that in mid-August The Australian Financial Review’s weekend edition lead with the story “Is the market just too dangerous for average investors?” Fear, uncertainty and panic ruled.Less badFast forward to now. Following Friday's strong lead from Wall Street, yesterday the Australian market jumped 1.5%.Overnight, U.S. markets continued their recovery, buoyed by optimism the world’s biggest economy will not fall into recession, Hurricane Irene wasn’t as destructive as was feared, and Greek stocks jumping the most in more than 20 years.Relief is the word. Even famed investor Mark Mobius piled on top, saying on Bloomberg the U.S. economy is “not going to see a recession.” No ifs, no buts there…This is why we sellSo why the great panic of just a few weeks ago?Fear is a very strong emotion. In the face of extreme danger, our in-built survival mechanism kicks in. We take refuge and head for safety.For investors, safety means selling shares and depositing the proceeds in their bank account. When everyone sells at once, and no-one buys shares, the market can only go in one direction. The result is a classic, cyclical, recurring stock market correction.CosyBanks are a warm and cuddly place for our money. We earn a little interest, and more importantly, our bank balance doesn’t fluctuate. Away from the extreme volatility of the share market, we can breathe a large sigh of relief.But safety comes at a huge cost. Fearful investors sell when stocks are trading at discount prices, without regard for the underlying value of those individual stocks.Making matters worse, often these same investors have been happy to buy these shares at considerably higher prices, lured into the market when the going seemed good.Fantasy-investingPeople who think they can consistently time the market – buy at the bottom and sell at the top – are living in fantasyland. Instead, investors should simply commit to investing in the market over an extended period of time.The Motley Fool has always espoused that you should only invest in stocks using money you won't need for at least two to three years, and ideally five or more.Inviting stressIn other words, don't invest in the stock market with the money you need for the mortgage next month, your child's tuition in a few years, or a vacation to Europe in 2013. If you do, you're just inviting stress -- and unavoidable losses -- if stocks go down.To be a successful investor, you must resolve to keep buying and holding good businesses when others are selling.This period of market volatility may yet have a sting in the tail. The VIX index, otherwise known as the fear index, still trades at 32, some way above its long-term average of around 20.As with life, the future remains uncertain. But despite all the ups and downs, we believe stocks will remain one of the strongest possible ways to grow your assets in the years ahead.As ever, we wish you happy, safe investing.Bruce Jackson & Dean MorelMotley Fool Australia"Best!blesto,Florida Fool
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