Posts filed under “Cognitive Foibles”
One of the most fascinating things about markets is the sheer volume of data they generate. Every day, millions of data points get created. The vast majority of this amounts to little more than noise. This endless stream of information leads thousands of us everyday on a hunt for meaningful signal amid the cacophony.
Most of the time, we are unsuccessful. We can be tricked into seeing significance where none exists. Our pattern recognition engines are fooled by what turns out to be mere randomness (there’s a good idea for a book in that). There is a meaningful needle buried somewhere in the haystack of numbers, but we underestimate both how hard it is to identify, and just how huge that stack is.
As an example, let’s take a number we are all familiar with: Average market returns. Depending upon the period of the data set under discussion, we usually envision a long-term annualized compound return of 8 percent to 10 percent.
Have a look at the chart below:
Continues here: Average Returns, Rarer Than You Think
Those of you who over the many years have followed some of the thoughts and observations I jot down each morning may have noticed several themes. Prominent among them is that forecasting is folly; cognitive errors create investing mistakes; consider context when analyzing data; recency bias overemphasizes the latest data; mixing politics with investing is…Read More
Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness
One of the more fascinating aspects of watching finance is the never-ending stream of explanations for the market’s action. Strategists, news media and economists all engage in a series of tortured rationales for what just happened. These tend to be after-the-fact reasons that are too smug, too pat and too late to be useful, let…Read More
We are down to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA’s men’s college basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness, which depending upon your perspective is either the most exciting month in sports or the American collegiate plantation system writ large. As is my wont, I seek out lessons in what I see, hunting for parallels in sports, politics, et…Read More
Equity markets started off this year by falling. They rallied in February, working their way back into the green. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index now is up about 1 percent for the year. Gold has traveled the opposite path: The yellow metal began at about $1,175 an ounce. By Jan. 23, it had rallied…Read More
Exactly six years ago today, the markets made their ultimate low following a 57% collapse of the S&P. I was fortunate to have been on the right side of that trade in both directions. What is most fascinating to me about that was the pushback from traders and investors — in each direction. It is revealing…Read More
Today’s discussion is aimed at the individual investor, though certainly the professionals might take something from our philosophical musings this morning. The bull market that dates to March 2009 is now entering one of its more interesting — and perhaps dangerous — phases. Not hazardous, mind you, from a market perspective, but from a behavioral…Read More