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Buy-and-Hold a Thing of the Past

By: Steve Johnson

1/8/2009 - 22 Comments

I have questioned the buy-and-hold investment strategy for many years, ever since I saw the drastic effects that the government was having on the markets in 2001.

In his recent Yahoo Finance article, Ben Stein questioned the validity of the old strategy.

“Buy-and-hold as a strategy is very questionable,” Stein writes on Yahoo! Finance. “It's worked in the past, but in times of severe market stress, it just doesn't work.”

Until we get to the bottom of this global economic crisis, stocks are just too risky to invest in because their long-term values are uncertain at best.  Bonds are not much better, because currencies are depreciating in value and rates have dropped to near zero or less.  Cash is an option, but it’s not really an investment because it doesn’t pay a return.  There are so many major questions right now – like these.

  • Will the economic instability lead to political instability?
  • Will political instability lead to wars over energy, prices and goods?
  • Who is really in control of the global financial system?
  • Will we have a currency crisis?
  • What major currencies will survive?

Buy-and-hold is as relevant today as the service sector of the economy.  Many businesses will fail during the next few years and it is very hard to tell which ones they will be at this time.  Investing is much harder today than it was just one year ago. And running a business is also much harder, because just one wrong decision could put you out of business.

Buy-and-hold is only relevant if you buy things that are guaranteed to be consumed or needed in the dangerous would ahead, like oil or food or weapons or gold (the foundation of real money). 

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