Friday, May 14, 2010

The Two Sides Of Risk

I read an interesting newsletter written by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital where he opines on two main investment risks: the risk of losing money and the risk of missing opportunity. In the Howard Mark's newsletter, he notes:
You can completely avoid one or the other, or you can compromise between the two, but you can’t eliminate both. One of the prominent features of investor psychology is that few people are able to (a) always balance the two risks or (b) emphasize the right one at the right time. Rather, at the extremes they usually obsess about the wrong one . . . and in so doing make the other the one deserving attention.

During bull markets, when asset prices are elevated, there’s great risk of losing money. And in bear markets, when everything’s at rock bottom, the real risk consists of missing opportunity. Everyone knows these things. But bull markets develop for the simple reason that most people are buying – ignoring the risk of loss in order to keep from missing opportunity – just when elevated prices imply losses later. Likewise, markets reach their lows because most people are selling, trying to avoid further losses and ignoring the bargains that are everywhere.
The entire newsletter can be read at the original post on Zero Hedge's website. Mark's provides some thoughts pertaining to the current market environment as well.

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