If there is one thing that I have learned during this 2008-2009 recession is that following the herd is pointless and a waste of time. Hence while everyone was selling in the stock market and buying in the money market, I have been buying stocks on the cheap. the same thing goes for the bond market.
The reason for this is an old instinct from when humans were still like animals, the crowd effect or the herd effect. This instinct meant that when you see a whole bunch of people running in a certain direction, then it must mean that they are running away from a danger and as a result you must run with them.
So how does this translate in the investing world? If you see a lot of investors buying or selling a particular stocks then it must mean that they are right and as a result you must buy that stock too. The second reason is that as people buy that particular stock its value increases and the gain or return on investment increases. As the gain increases those that have not yet bought the stock would be pressured to buy the stock either by the investors that they work for or by their employers. This is a vicious cycle that few could resist.
Guest what I have done it and you can do it also. How so you would ask.
First of all the only way you could make money on such bull market is to buy it first when it is cheap and then selling to the herd followers when has risen to a high enough value. I would say that this is difficult to do. If you have seen it the surely a lot of people would have seen it. However if you have been able to see it early and get on the bandwagon just wait until it is high enough and wait for some time and sell it so someone else. Do not wait for the top of the ride because when people realised it is all bullsh_t then they would be selling and you would not be able to get your money back.
Apart from such herd following tactics I have my own way of buying stocks. Research is important and as a result you must educate yourself in economics and some basic accounting. Certainly you can watch TV or read newspapers but only to get information on the economy and on spotting trends in the economy that you can exploit by investing in companies that are in that sector.
When you have learned some basic knowledge you can use that knowledge to research companies. You would analyse their financial statements, their future probability and the market they are in. For example you could see that KodaK and their future in the photo reel market is a dead end as they are entering the digital photography market fast enough.
If you want to go into mutual funds, index funds and Exchange traded fund then you could use your knowledge to research the different companies that are offering them. You would make research on historical return, management, commissions and fees and so on.
Very often you would come across the internet websites that promises to teach you how to invest and as a result you would obtain great return. Most of the time you would have to buy a report or a document that promises to give you tips on how to invest and as a result you will make great return. Most of these are false promises and a complete waste of money. Imagine if you have discovered a stocks that promises great return, would you make it public? Certainly not! you would secretly buy it little by little so as not to arouse suspicion. You would keep it a secret and earn the return alone. That is why you should keep to your plan and not buy all the crap documents that are being sold on the internet.
Sure I read on the internet but only information websites like the BBC, Yahoo money or famous economics like Paul Krugman. These website will give analysis on the economy as a whole and will give you indications on what the economy is going to do.
The last advise that i would give is to make your own research and follow your investment plan. Never never follow the crowd. Stick to your investment plan and to you asset allocation and you would stay on tract to meet your objectives.