The Best Investments Aren’t Popular When They’re the Best Buys

May 1999 //
History
Investing
Behavioral Finance
Optimism/Pessimism

…investment history tends to repeat itself, although not always in identical ways.  The best investment buys are never obvious or popular when they’re the best buys.  The same can be said of investment sales.  Popular investment ideas (whether they represent optimism or pessimism) arrive, they become overemphasized by investors who think they’ve found a new secret to success, and then they fail—sometimes spectacularly.  Supposedly smart people, thinking they’re being sophisticated, act foolishly and lose a lot of money.  Politicians keep trying to impose their political will on economies and thereby manage to make matters worse.  Novice investors want to buy low and sell high, but they are often swayed by popular sentiment to accomplish just the opposite.  As easy as it is to see these recurring trends from a distance and with the benefit of time, it is much more difficult for investors to act with a long-term focus amidst short-term turmoil.