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Look Out The Window

Quick, look out the window. It's raining. No, the sun's out. No, it's cloudy. Wait a second, it is changing again, but I can't tell what it is going to do.

Kinds like the stock market. Up one day, down the next, then goes sideways. That stock I bought is not acting right. Maybe I should sell it, but I'll wait another day. My broker (the weatherman) says it will go back up.

At the beginning of every year we hear stock market forecast (whether we want to or not) and every one of the "experts" is about as accurate as our TV weatherman. Be sure to take your umbrella. Every year the Wall Street Journal surveys more than 50 economists and every year about 1/3rd of them are right. A weatherman can do better than that. The analysis of these birds seems impeccable and when you hear them speak so confidently you are sure they are right. He must be right ? he's a broker/economist/financial planner and they know everything. Well, at least a lot more than I do ? maybe.

Having owned a brokerage company and hired about 300 brokers I can assure you they don't know any more than you do. It just sounds that way. The one question you should always ask any broker before you give him your money is if he had a winning year last year. The market was down overall about 25%. If he lost more than 5% you don't want to know him. And if he says he made a bundle you had better question him carefully and ask for proof.

For the last 3 years almost everyone lost money. But this year it will be different. My broker said so. Only once before did it ever go down 4 years in a row and the odds of it's happening again are astronomical. Now that's logic for you. If you want to know what the weather is you look out the window. This same logic goes for the stock market. It is going down except for brief periods. As long as the major trend continues it would be wise NOT to buy anything.

Now that President Bush has given us his "stimulus" package and the Democrats have countered with theirs I wonder how long they are going to fight over how much and who gets what. It could be months before we see anything definitive from Washington. And that means you and I won't be getting any relief until then.

Tell those guys in the Beltway that it's raining and we need an umbrella ? NOW!

Al Thomas

Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!"

Never lose money in the stock market again.

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