From the editor: Partly sunny, chance of a bath

April 27, 2011

The other day, just before hopping in my car and heading for work, I switched on the Weather Channel to check out the forecast.

Sunny now, it said, but a cold front would be moving in and rain was almost a certainty.

So what did I do?

Left the house without a coat or umbrella.

I’m not sure why I did that, except that it was warm out, the birds were singing, and it seemed silly to take all those precautions.

And wouldn’t you know it, I arrived home that night wet and chilled.

Of course, had I brought an umbrella, I’m sure I would have had no need for it.

I feel the same way about Wall Street prognostication. I listen daily to the reports from the stock market, and I am mesmerized by trader talk. So confident are the commentators, and so often are they wrong.

On Monday, the CNBC crew talked about the steady rise of late in gold and silver prices, as concerns mount about the fate of the U.S. dollar and the health of the global economy. Tempting, but I have a hunch I missed my move.

Back in the 1980s, my wife once worked for a brokerage and was paid a hefty bonus in gold. I told her to hang on to it, based on the enthusiasm at the time, only to see the price fall and fall and fall.

Experiences like that are one reason why I have never played the markets. I’m too dumb to figure out which way the wind is blowing.

I look back at my investment decisions and see no rhyme or reason.

Somehow I have played about every turn in the mortgage market just about to perfection. But my 401(k) is a sad reflection of my efforts to put my hard-earned money to work.

I sometimes think if I had to live my life over again, I would do the opposite of whatever is the conventional wisdom of the moment.

And always carry an umbrella.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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