In the quest to become a savvy investor, one of the most important concepts you must understand is that of the business cycle. This periodic ebb and flow of our economy exerts tremendous influence not just on asset prices, but on everything from interest rates to the availability of jobs. Since nearly every aspect of your financial life will be influenced in some way by the business cycle, it pays to have a basic conceptual understanding.
Article Category: Asset Allocation
We all have a natural inclination to want the stock market to move higher. But counterintuitively, for the vast majority of investors, lower market prices will actually lead to higher account balances down the road. There are of course some exceptions, but more than likely you're about to find out why you've been spending your whole life hoping for the wrong outcome in the stock market.
Anyone who's been around for longer than a couple of decades knows that stocks can lose a lot of value quickly. These periods, when stock prices are falling, can be classified into two types of declines: corrections, and bear markets. Understanding the difference between these is critical, because the former represent minor speed bumps on the way to higher prices, while the latter can wreck your entire portfolio and set you back years from reaching your retirement goals.
For most investors, the idea of "getting out at the top" is as illusive an idea as winning the lotto, or licking your elbow. The chances of picking that one magical day just seem too low to be probable. But is it really that tough? Or do most investors simply have a poor understanding of how stock market tops develop?
Every year, top Wall Street analysts put their thinking caps on and try to forecast the upcoming year's market return. The result of their analysis usually comes in the form of "price targets" which indicate where major indexes such as the S&P 500 are likely to be at year end. While price targets have little value themselves, what is valuable to investors is having a framework in which to view future returns.