Saturday, August 13, 2011

The "Experts" Can Be Wrong

I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier in the week detailing the performance of some key hedge funds as they deal with the bumpy ride the stock market has offered up lately. Amidst all of the volatility, some funds have scored impressive gains by having investments in traditional safe havens like gold and Treasuries. 

Meanwhile, John Paulson's firm, Paulson & Co. has dealt with the opposite - severe underperformance to the tune of -31% at his Advantage Plus fund and -21.5% at his Advantage Fund. This serves to demonstrate how difficult it is to beat the markets, even for the experts. After all, Paulson was the fund manager who racked up very impressive gains during the mortgage market meltdown that lead to a person windfall upwards of $5 billion + dollars. 

Thus, this news should give individual investors some comfort because many successful professionals who manage money for a living are having a very difficult time outperforming in such a weak environment. If the experts can't consistently outperform, why should you try to and even more importantly, why even try to pick managers who try to beat the market? Sometimes it takes a volatile market and large gyrations in stock prices to help reinforce key investing principles. 

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