I got some pushback from a reader to my weekend post (see How to spot the bear market bottom) about the FT Alphaville article indicating that former Secretary of Defense Mattis raised concerns about how the White House lacked a decision making process. The reader went on to defend Trump's decisions.
I try very hard to remain apolitical on this site. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is a distinction between a decision, and a process. Here is an example from the investment realm. Josh Brown recently ranted about people "who called the correction". Click this link if the video is not visible.
Josh Brown's main complaints can be summarized as:
Anyone can make a market call. If you are wrong, very few people will remember, or you can delete your articles or tweets.
Managing a portfolio is a much tougher task. Portfolio managers are measured by actual returns. As an example, if you decide to sell out, what is your discipline for buying back in?
Just because someone doesn't say anything, it doesn't mean that they are unprepared for market volatility. Most firms have compliance guidelines about what individual portfolio managers or advisors can or cannot say or publish.
Despite my own efforts at transparency (see A 2018 report card) where I have published my track record, and owned up to bad calls, I sympathize with Brown. Josh Brown's rant amounts to distinguishing a decision (market call) to an investment process. A timely market call means little if there is no investment process behind it.
A Special Announcement We told you so. We told you the market was going down.
Here is the track of Humble Student of the Markets, where we are neither perma-bulls nor perma-bears. Most recently, we have been correctly bullish since the correction of 2015, and turned cautious in August 2018 (see Market top ahead? My inner investor turns cautious, August 5, 2018).
We were also timely at the 2009 bottom. We issued a call to buy beaten up low-priced stocks with high insider buying a week before the ultimate bottom (see Phoenix rising? February 24, 2009).
The out-of-sample record of our model trading portfolio in 2018 was up 42.9%. For more details, see our weekly updates here.
The recent market volatility has brought a flood of new subscribers, and we are announcing a price increase, and a number of other changes in order to better control the growth of our community. However, all subscribers will be grandfathered at their old prices.
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