The USA stock market has not been doing so well recently (the S&P 500 index is down over 9% so far this year). And I own S&P 500 indexes in my retirement account (in addition to other index funds). So I am losing money on those investments but I am not worried. It is possible the market will do very poorly over the next few months, year… if the economy struggles (and with the huge credit card like spending Washington much of the last 30 years and huge increases in gas prices that is certainly possible). But I am not worried.
I don’t plan on using that money for decades. Therefore the short term declines really have no impact on my life. Sure if I was able to move all that money into a money market fund for the decline and then move it back into stock funds for the increase that would be wonderful. But I can’t and no-one has proven to be able to time the market effectively over the long term. It is unlikely you or I will be the ones that do it right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the market was lower at the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was higher either.
Dollar cost averaging is the best long term strategy (not trying to time the market). And using that strategy, if you assume stocks reach whatever level they do say 20 years from now, I am actually better off will prices falling now – so I can buy more shares now that will reach that final price. You actually are better off with wild swings in stock prices, when you dollar cost average, than if they just went up .8% every single month (if both ended with stocks at the same price 20 years later). Really the wilder the better (the limit is essentially the limit at which the economy was harmed by the wild swings (people deciding they didn’t want to take risk, make investments…) to the point that the final value 20 years later is deflated.
I am not apposed to doing a little bit of trying to time the market (decreasing your monthly allocation to stocks when you think the market is too high or increasing it if it is too low…). Or using inverse funds, or even doing things like buying put options to cover downside moves. But I reserve such strategies for extreme conditions (I don’t think we are there now). Basically I have to believe the market is way way overvalued before I do this – if I think it is just overvalued I am fine staying the course.