by Steve Selengut
Most investment mistakes are caused by basic misunderstandings of the securities markets and by invalid performance expectations. The markets move in totally unpredictable cyclical patterns of varying duration and amplitude. Evaluating the performance of the two major classes of investment securities needs to be done separately because they are owned for differing purposes. Stock market equity investments are expected to produce realized capital gains; income-producing investments are expected to generate cash flow.
Losing money on an investment may not be the result of an investment mistake, and not all mistakes result in monetary losses. But errors occur most frequently when judgment is unduly influenced by emotions such as fear and greed, hindsightful observations, and short-term market value comparisons with unrelated numbers. Your own misconceptions about how securities react to varying economic, political, and hysterical circumstances are your most vicious enemy.
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