Fair enough. You could probably cobble together my guide from what I’ve written for The Washington Post. Let me save you the trouble. Here is the first half of my dozen rules for investing. (Come back next time for the rest.)
1 Cut your losers short and let your winners run: Perhaps the best investing advice ever, its sophistication is belied by its apparent simplicity.
Letting your winners run generates all sorts of desirable outcomes: It allows compounding to occur, gives you the benefit of time and keeps your transaction costs, fees and taxes low. Since this rule does not allow you to take a quick profit for no reason (other than having one), it also forces you to develop an actual exit strategy.
Similarly, cutting your losers short forces you to be humble and intelligent. It rotates you away from the sectors and stocks that are not working. Best of all, you are forced to admit your own fallibility — crucial for all investors.
2 Avoid predictions and forecasts: Humans are very bad at guessing what the future will bring. The academic literature overwhelmingly proves this.
If you prefer anecdotal evidence, recall how many economists forecast the Great Recession (almost none), the initial reviews of the iPad (mostly panned) or even the iPhone (meh!).
For your own investing, you should ignore other people’s forecasts. And you should avoid making any yourself. Why? Because when investors make forecasts they focus more on being right than making money. They unconsciously shift their portfolio toward their predictions rather than what is occurring in the markets. This is a recipe for disaster. Consider how many people completely missed the huge rally since the March 2009 lows, mostly because of forecasts of another crash. They were rooting for their prediction, instead of spotting the opportunity.
3 Understand crowd behavior: The investor who understands the behavior of crowds has an enormous advantage over one who doesn’t. He understands that investing often involves figuring out where the crowd is going, even if it’s objectively ”wrong.” Recall Keynes’s theoretical beauty contest, where players were not trying to pick who they thought was prettiest, but rather, select who they anticipated the crowd might pick.
Investing isn’t necessarily a process of picking the “best” asset class, sector or stock, but rather, selecting what the crowd is buying. Investors sometimes forget that, most of the time, the crowd is the market. (You can take advantage of this by, as Rule 6 suggests, becoming a index investor).