How to Respond to a Crisis

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

Aug 31

End of Day Update:

I’m changing things up a little tonight. Normally I write about the daily fluctuations in the stock market, but given the dramatic and emotional moves in recent days, a bigger picture analysis is warranted. This blog post is for all the nervous owners out there that are not sure how to respond to these uncertain times.

As I write this, overnight stock futures are plunging nearly two-percent because of continued Asian weakness. No doubt this will carryover to our shores Tuesday morning and compel many owners to sell their stocks at even greater discounts. Their rationale is to sell now before things get worse.

But as investors and traders, the first questions we should ask ourselves is if we want to buy stocks when they are cheap or expensive? The natural follow-up is if we want to sell when they are cheap or expensive? While the answers are obvious, this isn’t consistent with the way most people trade.

Many owners are desperately selling their stock right now because they want to get out before things get worse. “What if this is another 2008?” they are asking themselves. Surely we all want to avoid that type of disaster again. Not so fast, some of the best buys I made over the last 20-years were in 2008. Not as a trader, but as an investor.

I rarely write about the buy-and-hold portion of my portfolio because there really isn’t much to talk about. Every month I add to my long-term investments and then forget about them. Through thick and thin, they just sit there. Sometimes they go up in value, other times they go down. But every month I keep adding to them because I believe in the US economy and that our stock market is the best place to grow my money until I need it 20 or 40 years from now.

While we only recently climbed out of the “lost decade” where our market was flat from 2000 to 2013, those were actually fantastic years for the long-term investor who dollar-cost-averaged into the market over that entire period. When everyone was selling and reducing their 401k contributions because of the dotcom bubble and financial crisis, I kept buying more. Those buys in 2002, 2003, 2008, and 2009 have more than doubled. All my buys in 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2011 are up in the high double digits. While the stock market had a “lost decade”, my buy-and-hold account had a phenomenal decade because I continued buying when other people were selling.

Think about that tomorrow as you contemplate selling your stock or decreasing your 401k contributions because of this Asian uncertainty. Personally I’d love to see another 2008 because that would be another fantastic buying opportunity for the buy-and-hold portion of my portfolio.

Jani

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About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.