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Subject:  Re: Is the party over? Date:  5/9/2021  7:52 AM
Author:  CuriousQ Number:  102703 of 104807

Depending on your view it is either a correction and buying opportunity or reality setting in. I tend to view it as the latter

If you go back through this board a few years, there are many posts with titles like "Is this the Peak?" and "Are we at a top?" Sometimes these are followed by nothing but the stock market growing to new highs, and sometimes there's been a three or even six month pullback followed by a big runup.

The problem with trying to time the market is that you not only have to guess the peak (to get out), but also guess the bottom (to get back in), or at least get close to those. I've read several articles, some links posted on this board, indicating that investing at each year's low is marginally better than continuously regardless of price, but it's a small difference. Investing at each year's peak is slightly worse, but the biggest killer of returns is being out of the market when the runups occur. Worst of all is staying out of the market waiting for a drawdown to get back in.

The market price (prices for the basket of all stocks) gets driven by rational reasons (interest rates, expectations of earnings, outlook for various industries) and irrational reasons (buzz, how cool something is, expectation of selling something worth little to an even greater fool who has that same expectation). It's really hard to outguess the rational reasons since most information is readily available and baked into prices. It's impossible to outguess the irrational stuff (like Dogecoin...a joke cryptocurrency that keeps making a handful of people big bucks).

What I've done:
-For money I don't need for 10 to 40 years: Be fully invested in stocks (low cost index funds mostly, a few low-ish cost active funds where they routinely beat their index like Emerging Market). I also realize that this will sometimes go down (by a lot) but that's the price to pay for being able to beat inflation long term. Note that the "price to pay" is "volatility," not "loss." if the S&P500 crashes completely, we won't be worried about our 401ks
-For money I need within a year: Cash
-For money I'll need between one year and five: Bonds plus an arbitrage fund that routinely runs at ~3% annually and rarely loses money on the year plus dividend yielding/growing stocks

The money I've made in irrationally propelled markets spends as well as money made with thoughtful analysis. The portfolio value that decreased temporarily on paper (not "lost") didn't hurt because I didn't sell low (locking in the loss) in the hopes of getting back in even lower. I know people that did and missed the eventual recovery.

I feel pretty confident in all this thinking, with a caveat--I held on to my asset allocation through all the downs and ups we had for the last 30 years, with a consoling thought that every check was going to buy more shares at the low prices. Now that I'm living off my portfolio rather than growing it, the emotional side of my brain may still be sweating away despite the logical half repeating the three points made two paragraphs ago. But, hanging on through 2008-09 and subsequently seeing the portfolio grow like crazy the next eight out of ten years helps the logical side comfort the emotional side.
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