Even though the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat for the month of October, it’s still up 48% from its March low and 11% for the year. And many parts of the bond market have staged massive rallies of their own.

But last week’s big stock-market swings — including Friday’s 250 point plunge — showed there are still big challenges facing investors.

American consumers remain hamstrung by debt, collapsed home prices and a dismal job market. The massive efforts by the federal government to stabilize the economy have inflated the budget deficit, creating worries about future levels of inflation, interest rates and the strength of the U.S. dollar.

Against this backdrop, here are some key lessons to take away from the wild ride that’s been 2009:

1 Stocks-for-the-Long-Run Is Dead

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 8% from where it was 10 years ago, investors are questioning the idea that they shouldn’t react to the market’s shorter-term ups and downs. It’s not a question of buying and selling stocks like a day trader, but rather being flexible with an investment mix based on a long-term plan.

‘You set the amount of risk you’re willing to take in a portfolio and you have to be willing to adjust because the markets do change,’ says Earl Osborn, chief investment officer at Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough, a San Francisco financial advisory firm.

For example, when a portfolio that was 50% stocks and 50% bonds was confronted with last September’s tumult in the financial markets, the appropriate response may have been to sell some stocks and buy high-quality bonds, maybe shifting to a mix of 40% stocks and 60% bonds, Mr. Osborn says.

Then when it appeared that financial Armageddon wasn’t imminent, as it did in March and April, and the risks of owning stocks had declined, ‘I might take that…up to 60% stocks, 40% bonds,’ Mr. Osborn says.
2 Stocks-for-the-Long-Run Is Alive

Stock investors may still be licking their wounds, but the basic reason for owning stocks hasn’t changed: Over the long term, they can be an effective way to grow a portfolio.

The key is looking forward, not back. And many investors believe the best place to find long-term growth is in the emerging-markets nations, especially those in Asia.

As the dust began to settle this spring, Shawn Rubin, a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, saw the financial crisis as a tipping point that would steer China on a more sustainable growth model focused on domestic spending. Coupled with the region’s powerful population growth, he feels Asian emerging-market stocks have entered a period comparable to the U.S. after World War II. To capitalize on that, he turned to mutual funds that own small-company Asian stocks.

‘It makes sense just like the U.S. made sense,’ Mr. Rubin says. ‘There may be a small movie-theater chain in Malaysia that someday could be as big as Viacom.’
3 Don’t Fight the Fed

It’s an old trader’s adage that when the Federal Reserve starts making changes, investors ignore that news at their peril.

Investors now scratching their heads at how the stock and bond markets could stage such big rallies with the economy still struggling are overlooking the Fed’s efforts to lower interest rates to essentially zero and flood the markets with money.

The Fed basically forced investors out of cash and into riskier investments. And the government’s propping up of the financial system led to a sharp rebound in the stocks that had been hit the hardest by the crisis, such as banks. Now many are focusing on potential disruptions to the markets as the Fed likely eases back on its efforts next year.

The lesson isn’t that investors have to understand the inner workings of the Fed. Instead, says Kenneth Solow, chief investment officer at Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Md., ‘investors need to understand what makes the markets move.’

That includes understanding how swings in sentiment can move markets or the basics of valuations. And some of it is simply paying attention to the world around you, as during the housing bubble, and adjusting a portfolio accordingly, Mr. Solow says.
4 Buy Fire Insurance

Most people have home insurance, car insurance and life insurance. Very few have portfolio insurance.

There’s a tendency among individual investors to want every investment in their portfolio to go up all the time. That’s great in a bull market, but does nothing to preserve money during a steep downdraft. And few small investors realize that professional traders almost always build a hedge into their positions against being wrong. So when they inevitably lose money on a trade, it doesn’t put them out of business.

This past year not only shows the value of having a small slice of a portfolio that acts as insurance, but also which investments really held up under strain. It’s a very short list: U.S. Treasurys and to a lesser extent, gold. One new investment gaining fans is the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures, which tracks the VIX, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index. Often known as the fear index, the VIX tends to rise sharply in times of turmoil, as it did last autumn.

Mr. Solow, for one, is keeping roughly 5% of client portfolios in gold. ‘It’s a defense against the system blowing up,’ he says.

动荡之年的投资教训

虽然道琼斯工业股票平均价格指数10月持平,但仍较3月低点上涨48%,全年上涨11%。证券市场的许多版块也都实现了大幅反弹。

但上周股市大幅震荡(包括周五重挫250点)显示出投资者仍面临重大挑战。

David Gothard
由于背负着沉重债务、房价暴跌以及就业市场不景气,美国消费者仍然软弱无力。联邦政府稳定经济的诸多重大举措令预算赤字膨胀,导致人们担忧将来的通胀水平、利率以及美元能否坚挺。

在这样的背景下,以下是应当从2009年的激烈动荡中汲取的一些重大教训:

1 一成不变的长期持股策略已过时

道指当前较10年前下跌8%,在这样的情况下,投资者对不应当根据市场的短期起落做出反应的观点产生疑问。这不是像短线交易者一样买卖股票的问题,而是依据长期计划保持投资组合灵活性的问题。

位于旧金山的金融咨询公司Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough的首席投资长奥斯本(Earl Osborn)说,你设定愿意在投资组合中承担的风险程度,然后必须愿意做出调整,因为市场确实会不断变化。

奥斯本举例说,当一个由50%的股票和50%的债券构成的投资组合遇到去年9月那种金融市场混乱的情况时,正确的反应或许是出售部分股票,买进高质量债券,或许将股票和债券的比例调整为40%比60%。

奥斯本说,然后当金融行业的末日看上去不会马上到来,比如今年3月和4月的情况,同时持有股票的风险已经下降,那我可能会将投资组合调整为60%的股票、40%的债券。

2 长期持有股票的策略仍然有效

股票投资者或许创伤仍在,但持有股票的根本理由没变:从长期看,投资股票是实现投资组合增长的有效方式。

关键是向前看,不要老想着过去。同时许多投资者认为,能实现长期增长的最佳地点是新兴市场国家,尤其是亚洲新兴市场。

今年春季随着尘埃开始落定,摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)旗下美邦(Smith Barney)的金融咨询师鲁宾(Shawn Rubin)将金融危机视为一个引爆点,将促使中国转向更具可持续性的增长模式,将重点放在扩大内需上。结合亚洲地区强劲的人口增长,他觉得亚洲新兴市场股已进入堪比二战后的美国的阶段。为了对这种情况加以利用,他转而投资持有亚洲小型公司股票的共同基金。

鲁宾说,这样说得通,就跟美国从前的情况一样。或许马来西亚的某家小规模连锁影院有一天会成为维亚康姆(Viacom)那样的巨头。

3 不要跟美联储(Fed)作对

交易员有句老话,当美联储开始变动的时候,投资者一旦忽视就会有危险。

在经济仍处于困境的情况下,许多投资者现在对于股市和债券市场怎么可能实现如此大规模的反弹迷惑不已,他们其实是忽略了美联储将利率下调至接近于零,以及向市场注入大量资金的举措。

美联储基本上是迫使投资者放弃持有现金,进入风险更高的投资。政府对金融系统的支持也导致银行股等此前遭遇危机打击最严重的股票急剧反弹。随着美联储明年有可能降低刺激举措的力度,许多人现在都在关注市场可能出现的混乱。

其教训并不在于投资者必须理解美联储内在的工作方式。马里兰州哥伦比亚Pinnacle Advisory Group的首席投资长索罗(Kenneth Solow)说,相反,投资者需要了解市场运行的动力何在。

包括了解人气的变化会对市场有何影响,或是估值的基本知识。索罗说,其中一些只不过是要注意自己周围的世界,正如房市泡沫时期那样,并对投资组合做出相应的调整。

4 做好保险措施

大多数人都有房屋保险、汽车保险以及人寿保险。但很少有人为投资组合上保险。

个人投资者往往都想让投资组合中的每项投资都始终只涨不跌。在牛市中,这样很不错,但当市场出现剧跌的时候就完全没法保护资金。极少有小投资者认识到,专业交易员几乎总是会针对自己的头寸建立对冲,以防出问题。因此即便他们在某个行业不可避免地遭受损失,也不至于血本无归。

过去的一年不光显示了将投资组合的一小部分用作保险的价值,同时还展现了哪些投资在艰难的世道下能够真正保值。这类投资为数寥寥:美国国债和(在较小程度上的)黄金。吸引投资者的一项新投资是iPath标普500波动率指数短期期货(iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures),该投资跟踪芝加哥期权交易所市场波动率指数(Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index),即VIX,又称恐惧指数。该指数在市场动荡时期往往会急剧上升,去年秋季就是如此。

索罗就是一例,他将客户投资组合的5%左右用于投资黄金。他说,这是对系统突然崩溃的防护。

Tom Lauricella

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