Bad and Good Advice About the “Fiscal Cliff”

CNBC.com - 1996
CNBC.com – 1996 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wall Street bullies want you to trade in and out of stocks based on financial pornography in the media. They create hype to encourage trading because they make money when money is on the move. A fiduciary adviser would discourage this kind of behavior, which is in your best interest.

If I hear “fiscal cliff” one more time, I will consider jumping off a real cliff. The financial media is in hyperactive overdrive, breathlessly dispensing what passes for investment advice. Here are some typical examples:Over at CNBC, Jim Cramer told his viewers to buy Cisco Systems (CSCO), Home Depot (HD) and PetSmart (PETM). He believes these stocks, among others, would be trading higher if the fiscal cliff was resolved. His logic is simplistic: These stocks are “recession proofers” and “big yielders.”

Yahoo!’s Breakout had Todd Schoenberger, managing principal of The BlackBay Group, as a guest on its Nov. 16 show. Mr. Schoenberger commented on the recent decline of Apple stock. He noted ominously that “[A]pple is a true proxy of the global economy.”

Sam Collins, the “Chief Technical Analyst” at InvestorPlace, believes “fiscal cliff confusion” creates a “buying opportunity” for CVR Partners LP (UAN). He notes the stock may be “… a temporary victim of fiscal cliff negotiations.”

I am sure you get the drift. Unfortunately, many investors will act on this advice, which is unfortunate.

In stark contrast to the musings of these pundits, Allan Roth provides sound advice in his Nov. 12, 2012 CBS MoneyWatch blog. Roth correctly notes that the approaching fiscal cliff is “not exactly a secret” and “thus the possibility is already priced into the market.” There is no reason to believe that stocks are mispriced or that self-styled “experts” could identify them even if they were.

Next, he observes that the market often acts in a way that is contrary to conventional wisdom. He uses the downgrade of U.S. debt in 2011 as an example. You would think lower-rated U.S. Treasury bonds would make it more expensive for the government to raise funds. In fact, bonds “soared” making it “much cheaper” for the government to borrow.

If you are really worried about what it going to happen in the stock market in the next month or two (or even over the next several years), you have no business owning any stocks.

The “fiscal cliff” is being used by the financial media and many brokers and advisers to justify short-term recommendations based on their purported ability to predict the future, time the market and pick stocks to buy or sell. Neither they nor anyone else has this expertise. Relying on their advice is not responsible investing. Don’t let the “fiscal cliff” turn into a financial disaster for you and your family.

Trying to pick stocks or market time is ok if you want to gamble and speculate with your money. However, if you are saving for retirement or any long term goal ignore the financial media and the Wall Street bullies. Your best strategy is to design a prudent portfolio and remain disciplined to that strategy.

Please comment or call to discuss how this affects you and your financial future.

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