Sunday, 26 February 2017

Building the Right Investment Temperament - Excerpts from Howard Marks - Part 5

Being attentive to cycles
• Just about everything is cyclical. Cycles always prevail eventually. Nothing goes in one direction forever.

Awareness of the pendulum
• There are a few things of which we can be sure, and this is one: extreme market behaviour will reverse. Those who believe that the pendulum will move in one direction forever - or reside at an extreme forever - will eventually lose huge sums. Those who understand the pendulum's behaviour can benefit enormously.
This is one of my core beliefs. In sports, we call this by "law of averages" or "rub of the green". Mean reversion works, but in some cases, you may need to have a suitable long term time frame to judge its impact.
Combating negative influences
• Many people will reach similar cognitive conclusions from their analysis, but what they do with those conclusions varies all over the lot because psychology influences them differently. The biggest investing errors come not from factors that are informational or analytical, but from those that are psychological.
• From time to time greed drives investors to throw in their lot with the crowd in pursuit of profit, and eventually they pay the price. We must constantly be on the lookout for things that can't work in real life. In short, the process of investing requires a strong dose of disbelief. Inadequate skepticism contributes to investment losses.

Again, something very very core to my belief system. Temperament is what differentiates the good investor from the bad. And the ability to say "No" to things or stories that don't make sense regardless of who is saying it.
Contrarianism
• You must do things not just because they are the opposite of what the crowd is doing, but because you know why the crowd is wrong.
• Establishing and maintaining an unconventional investment profile requires acceptance of uncomfortable idiosyncratic portfolios, which frequently appear imprudent in the eyes of conventional wisdom.
• Only a skeptic can separate the things that sound good and are from the things that sound good and aren't. The best investors I know exemplify this trait. Skepticism and pessimism aren't synonymous. Skepticism calls for pessimism when optimism is excessive. But it also calls for optimism when pessimism is excessive.

Taking a view that is different from the majority is a psychologically difficult thing to do. But the best results are obtained by people who are able to stand apart from the crowd.

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