Investment article: What you may not know about stocks?

Below is an investment article by Jeff Augen, extracted from my favorite blog “CreateWealth8888″, dated 4 Feb 2011. I like the blog because many of the articles are sensible, informative and educational. Hope readers can benefit from the article:

” Most investors who buy a stock believe that they are investing in a company. That view, while technically correct, is also misleading. A stock investment is really nothing more than a bet on the direction that money will take as it flows through the financial markets. A stock can rise only if market forces align to aggressively drive up the bid price causing new money to flow into the stock.

Many different factors are involved including economic news, announcements from other companies in the same industry, political events, the actions of large institutional investors, analysts’ forecast, and a variety of global economic forces such as changes to currency exchange rates and interest rates. the long-term performance of a stock represents nothing more than the compound effect of these forces over time.

It is important to recognize that the financial markets are zero sum game with competition at all levels. the stock market competes for money against the bond and currency markets; industries compete for money with each other; and money flows between stocks within a particular industry. An individual stock can fall because money is flowing into the bond market. It can also fall because money is flowing into another stock in the same industry. Conversely, the stock of a poorly performing company can rise if market forces are properly aligned. All factors considered, the price of a stock is often loosely connected to the performance of the underlying company.

There was a time, not long ago, when individual investors were the dominant force in the market. Buying a stock was equivalent to betting on the behaviour of other market participants. Those days have passed. Today’s markets react to economic news in fraction of a second. Heavily traded stocks in the S&P 100 or DOW rise and fall for reasons that are nearly impossible to understand at the individual stock level.

Investors who recognise these complex dynamics can gain advantage because they have a balanced, realized view of the problem. They spend most of their time identifying the underlying forces driving the markets, and they always try to invest with those forces instead of against them. In this regard, the most important attribute an investor can have is humbleness because successful investing is a never-ending struggle”

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