I never cease to be amazed by the number and magnitude of excuses regularly promulgated by the self-serving money managers on Wall Street.
This past summer, these cheerleaders told investors that the U.S. economy was in good shape and that there was no reason for investors to be concerned about the supposedly "minimal" impact that the subprime mortgage market and a slumping housing market might have on the economy.
These same Wall Street economists and mutual fund portfolio managers also told investors that inflation was firmly under control.
Beginning around October of last year, these "experts" told investors that stocks were cheap and that individuals should therefore continue to add to their equity portfolios — even though stock prices in general were beginning to trend lower.
In fact, they knew it. The State Street Investor Confidence Index, which analyzes the actual buying and selling patterns of institutional investors, began to plummet at about this same time.
These so-called investment experts are now trying to assure investors that worldwide economic growth will improve significantly during the second half of 2008 and that stock prices will follow suit.
Although my models also suggest that economic conditions might improve during the final six months of this year and that stock prices could rebound considerably, my experience reveals that accurately forecasting economic and financial developments more than six months into the future is a forbidding task.
There's no way of knowing when some unforeseen economic or geopolitical event might significantly impact future economic conditions and lead to a drastically different outcome than what was initially expected.
For example, no one can assure investors that the political situation in Iraq will improve in any meaningful way over the next six months or that some major new terrorist event will not occur.
In addition, not even the best economists can forecast with certainty the eventual outcome of the subprime mortgage debacle and the degree to which home prices may continue to fall over the coming months.
Recognizing this fact, I always focus more on near-term economic, financial, and geopolitical developments, and I strive to help individuals invest in those sectors of the market that are likely to perform best during the current environment.
So, why are most Wall Street "experts" now commenting primarily on what might happen during the second half of 2008, rather than helping investors to make money now?
Well, my experience suggests that the answer is really quite simple — as usual, these so-called "experts" are unwilling to admit that they have been wrong about the worsening economic environment and that their advice for investors to continue investing in foreign markets over the past few months has resulted in significant financial losses. (See below)
In contrast, only one of the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) recommended by our new investment service, The ETF Strategist, has generated a negative return (-5.6 percent) since we began this service in September 2007 — not bad, considering that the S&P 500 Index has fallen 4.1 percent during the same period. Meanwhile, our top-two performing ETFs have returned 24.4 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively, since we first recommended them on Sept. 18, 2007. To try The ETF Strategist risk free, and get my top ETF recommendations for 2008 Click here.
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