giovedì 29 luglio 2010

Miti, verità e il piacere del conformismo

Letture consigliate dal Wall Street Journal, brevi ma interessanti/divertenti/stimolanti ecc. ecc.:
    •  Ten Stock-Market Myths That Just Won't Die . Un assaggio? Il numero 5:
      "If you want to earn higher returns, you have to take more risk."This must come as a surprise to Mr. Buffett, who prefers investing in boring companies and boring industries. Over the last quarter century, the FactSet Research utilities index has even outperformed the exciting, "risky" Nasdaq Composite index. The only way to earn higher returns is to buy stocks cheap in relation to their future cash flows. As for "risk," your broker probably thinks that's "volatility," which typically just means price ups and downs. But you and your Aunt Sally know that risk is really the possibility of losing principal.

    • ancora dal WSJ di qualche tempo fa: A Hedge-Fund King Philosophizes on Truth and Weasels.
    • Il sig. Dalio,seduto su un capitale di 75 miliardi di dollari da gestire, prevedibilmente sfoggia una filosofia...iperrealista.... Mr. Dalio's basic philosophy is what he calls "hyper-realism," a notion that brutal honesty, no matter how uncomfortable, yields the best results. Principle No. 8: "There is nothing to fear from truth....Being truthful is essential to being an independent thinker and obtaining greater understanding of what is right." At Bridgewater, being truthful also requires being a bit ruthless. Employees aren't allowed to talk critically about someone unless the person is present. Principal No. 11: "Never say anything about a person you wouldn't say to him directly. If you do, you are a slimy weasel." If an employee breaks the rule three times, they can be fired. "Most people actually love this rule,'' says Mr. Dalio. 
    • So That's Why Investors Can't Think for Themselves si pone alcune buone domande. Ad esempio: Why do investors so often seem to resemble a school of fish, all changing direction together?Sometimes the most interesting answers to financial questions come from scientific labs. A study published last week in the journal Current Biology found that the value you place on something is likely to go up when other people tell you it is worth more than you thought, and down when others say it is worth less. More strikingly, if your evaluation agrees with what others tell you, then a part of your brain that specializes in processing rewards kicks into high gear.
      In other words, investors often go along with the crowd because—at the most basic biological level—conformity feels good. Moving in herds doesn't just give investors a sense of "safety in numbers." It also gives them pleasure. Secondo Zweig l'unica cosa da fare è essere risolutamente contrarian, seguendo le lezioni dei classici:
      Benjamin Graham, the founder of value investing, wrote that "the market is not a weighing machine, on which the value of each issue is recorded by an exact and impersonal mechanism, in accordance with its specific qualities." Rather, he added, "the market is a voting machine, whereon countless individuals register choices which are the product partly of reason and partly of emotion." Herding, Graham understood, is part of the human condition.
      Thus, if you buy individual stocks, you should note which way the herd is moving—and go the other way. You should get interested in a stock when its price gets trampled flat by investors stampeding out of it. The list of new 52-week lows is a rough guide to what the voting machine has been trashing lately. Then run your own weighing machine, studying the company's financial statements, products and competitors to determine the value of its business—while ignoring the current price of its stock. And make a permanent record that thoroughly details your rationale for making the investment. That way, you set in stone exactly where you stood before the herd began trying to sweep you away.

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