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Joe Russo, is presently the publisher and chief market analyst for Elliott Wave Technology, and has been studying Elliott Wave Theory, and the Technical Analysis of Financial Markets since 1991.
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  • Should You Invest For The Long-Haul? 0 comments
    May 10, 2013 4:14 PM

    Should you invest for the long haul? The answer to that question depends on what your definition of "the long haul" is.

    You will need to determine what the long haul means to you after identifying yourself as a long-term investor. You are a long-term investor by default if you have an IRA or 401K. You will then need to establish your investment goals, management and exit strategies, and your tolerance for risk.

    You can establish your risk tolerance by determining a maximum financial-loss threshold where you will protect and preserve the remaining balance of your long-haul investment capital.

    Would you hold on to a long-term investment through multiple years of losing 20%, 30%, 40%, 80% or 99.9% of the price you paid for your investment? Where exactly would you draw the line and abandon ship?

    (click to enlarge)

    Your investment goals can be nearly limitless, from saving for a home, making a major purchase, securing a comfortable retirement or preserving the purchasing power of your life savings. The most basic goal in long-term investing is to make your money grow.

    More importantly than merely increasing in value, your investment should at least keep pace with the cost of living. This goal is essential if you wish to preserve the purchasing power of your hard-earned savings.

    Many investors define long-term investments as an account on the asset side of their balance sheet that represents the investments they intend to hold for more than a year. However, most long-term investors look at least five years down the road.

    Long-term holdings may include but are not limited to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, real estate, and cash.

    Gold and silver have become increasingly popular assets since the beginning of the 21st century. These assets have been relatively profitable and are no longer reserved only for wealthy investors.

    Gold and silver bullion fall into the all-important tangible-asset side of the account ledger. Physical possession of these hard-money assets bears no counter-party risk. The long-term management and rebalancing of these tangible assets is similar to that of managing other long-term assets.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 is the quintessential performance benchmark for the vast majority of investors and professional money managers on the equity side of the account ledger.

    Professional money managers strive to outperform the S&P 500 year in and year out, decade after decade. The overwhelming majority of professional stock pickers who manage vast sums of client money repeatedly fail to match the long-term performance of the S&P 500.

    It's no surprise that legions of individual investors place their long-term investment bets directly with the S&P 500 index, given such influence. They do so via index funds and ETFs.

    These investment vehicles closely mirror the performance of the S&P 500 and carry far lower expense ratios than specialty or sector funds. Index funds and ETFs guarantee that the holders of these funds will outperform the majority of professional money managers.

    These funds sound like they can't fail except for one rather important caveat. How would you feel if the S&P 500 lost 60% of its value over a two-year period, as it did from 2007 to 2009? Even though you may have outperformed the majority of professional money managers, how good are you going to feel about this accomplishment given the magnitude of losses showing in your long-term investment account?

    Long-Term Investing = Investing in Long-Term Trends

    Simplifying the concept of long-term investing in terms of investing in trends makes it clear that investing is not about the over-hyped non-strategy of "buying and holding" for the long haul. Long-term investment is about buying and holding on long-term uptrends as long as they last. You must then stand aside or sell short amid long-term downtrends as long as these trends last.

    When it comes to long-term investments, I find it rather interesting that the mainstream strategy appears to rely exclusively on shifting bullish long exposure from one sector to the next.

    Such logic presumably relies on the fallacy that a bull market always exists somewhere. However, finding these bull markets can be quite a challenge during poor economic periods.

    Click here for graphics that will assist you in answering critical questions to help you determine the suitability of a simple, effective solution for achieving your long-term investment goals.

    Indoctrinated by mass media only to buy, how will the average investor determine where to find the ever-present bull markets espoused? I suppose you can pay someone to do it for you and hope that the person you hire is not one of the professionals who fail to outperform the S&P 500.

    You rarely hear mainstream investment advisors making suggestions to "stand aside" or "move-to-cash" as a viable option for long-term investors. Forget about these advisors ever suggesting that selling the market short might be a viable long-term investment tactic; that would be blasphemy in their eyes.

    What happens to this sector-rotation thesis when all markets move in the same direction as they did throughout the 2007 to 2009 period? It fails miserably, and everyone "holding" goes down with the ship. The only strategy guaranteed to work in this case is to be out of the market entirely or to be short if you are so inclined.

    Keep It Simple

    Why not just stick with the tried-and-true S&P 500 index, but with the provision that you will only stay invested if the long-term trend is bullish. This strategy allows the vast majority of investors to remain invested instead of continually searching for elusive bull markets when the pickings are slim. The trend is your friend until it's not. Your objective should therefore be to stay with the trend until it changes.

    This strategy does not require long-term investors to shuffle asset allocations and rebalance portfolios every time the wind blows. These investors have a clear objective and the tools to reach it. They also have the ability to step aside and take their chips off the table or sell the market short if the S&P 500 shows early signs of a long-term downtrend.

    Timing the Markets vs. Trend Investing

    These strategies are theoretically distinct, although they are essentially the same in practice.

    The conventional wisdom is that no one can time the markets. This is true if you define "timing the market" as getting in at the very bottom and getting out at the very top. Of course, this is impossible.

    However, you can determine the right time to get in and get out by observing and reacting to the status of the long-term trend. This definition of timing the market exemplifies "trend investing," which allows you to time the markets effectively and consistently.

    Click here for graphics that will assist you in answering critical questions to help you determine the suitability of a simple, effective solution for achieving your long-term investment goals.

    Conventional methods of investing for the long haul are non-strategies riddled with inherent risk. In stark contrast, investing in quantified long-term trends is the simplest, most effective and practical solution for ensuring your hard-earned savings show above-average performance over the long haul.

    Joe Russo
    Publisher and Chief Market Strategist
    Guardian Revere Long-Term Trend Monitor

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  • Physical Gold is a staple insurance product to which everyone should allocate 10% - 20% of their net worth.http://on.fb.me/zgqLwC
    Mar 18, 2012
  • Perhaps the Gold dip should also grab the attention those underinvested or late to the game that have been waiting for better entry points.
    Mar 18, 2012
  • The consolidation in the Gold price has gotten my attention of late. http://on.fb.me/zVxMPz
    Mar 18, 2012
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