investing in ETF

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horsewoman
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investing in ETF

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:15 am

So I tried to read lots of posts about investing on this site, but 75% of the info is way over my head. There is the fact that I know not much about investing plus the language barrier and different (-ly called?) investment vehicles in Europe and the US. I admit to my eyes glazing over pretty fast in the respective threads.

What I really want to know - am I being stupid by investing some of my spare money in ETFs? I have 600€ a month that I can save/invest. Until recently I put it all on my savings account where it gets less due to almost no interest + inflation.
This is obviously not a good thing, so I got reckless (ha ha!) 2 months ago and allotted 200€ a month to this fund: XTR.MSCI WORLD SWAP 1C.
It netted me 10,24€ since then. Wohoo!
400€ still go to rot on my savings account each month.

Can pretty pretty please anyone tell me whether I'm an idiot because I'm
a) investing in things I do not understand (know that already, actually)
b) investing in the wrong thing
c) investing to little in this fund?

Input would be greatly appreciated. Please don't tell me to invest in individual companies, I do not have the stomach for this kind of thing.
I can offer advice on cheap vegetarian recipes, animal care and vocal technique in exchange :lol:

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:29 am

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:15 am

Can pretty pretty please anyone tell me whether I'm an idiot because I'm
a) investing in things I do not understand (know that already, actually)
b) investing in the wrong thing
c) investing to little in this fund?
I look at these financial instruments as I do my car. I don't really know how they run, but as long as I keep putting gas/money into them with a periodic service, they seem to be doing ok. Can I explain exactly what goes on under their hoods? No. But do I really need to for what I'm trying to accomplish? No. I understand enough and there are enough other people putting their money into Subarus and ETF's to make me feel comfortable. For what it's worth, the back of the napkin description is that ETF's act like index/mutual funds but trade like stocks.

If you purchase Vanguard ETF's in a Vanguard account and/or Fidelity ETF's (IShares) in your Fidelity account, there will be no commission. To start, maybe pick an ETF that corresponds to their largest core index or mutual funds. Then move on to sector ETF's - health/financial/AI etc.

I like ETF's because (a) you can buy individual shares. It's like the piggy bank for my investing. If I have a small some of money, even less than $100, I can pick up an ETF share without trading fees and (b) I can invest money that I may need in the short run (quarterly taxes) without bouncing up against trading restrictions that mutual funds and index funds have.

To get into a Vanguard Fund you will need an initial stake, maybe $3K, I think. To get into a Vanguard ETF, you can just buy one share. So there is no "too small."

Ok. Now to me. Although I hate Bono more than I hate vegetables and animals, I would like to sing like him.

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Dream of Freedom » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:54 am

If you wish to achieve financial Independence you are going to have to learn about investing at some point. I understand how hard this can be since they don't teach this stuff at school. When learning about this as an adult you don't always know where to go.

Here is the link to the information on your fund:
https://www.finanzen.net/etf/xtrackers_ ... its_etf_1c

You should read the prospectus before you invest. This is a process called due diligence. This is the hardest part. These can be a challenging read the first time. Look up any words you don't know. Much of these documents explain the regulation and accounting practices which after you have read several of these you could just skip but you will want to read them. You should also only start reading this after you have looked at the other information available about it as it is time consuming and if you reject it based on other things you will have saved a lot of time.

When evaluating ETFs the first thing you need to look at is the expense. Your fund has expense of 0.45%. meaning that the company that runs your fun takes that amount to pay themselves. This expense isn't high for your but but it is higher some funds.

Next you should know how much is invested in the fund. If it is less than say 30 million dollars, the company May close the fund because they won't make enough money to keep it open. This could result in fees and wasted time.

You should understand what volatility is and what the volatility of your fund has been. It is one measure of risk, though confusingly given the word it is used for both upside and downside protential. For your purposes lower volatility is better but for some short-term traders the opposite may be true. For a more thorough explanation:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/volatility.asp

Next you should understand the Sharpe ratio. The higher the better for this one. A run-down can be found here:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sharperatio.asp

Your fund has a Sharpe ratio of 0.95 . This compares to 1.03 for the s&p 500. You can compare this to other ETFs as well.

You should understand how the investment should perform during a recession. To do that you need to look at the sector breakdown of the ETF with the understanding of the difference between cyclical and secular growth. In short cyclical stocks do well when the economy is growing and poorly during a recession. Secular growth does alright but not spectacular all the time and is used to protect from recession. Look here for an explanation: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/00/082800.asp

If you add up the amount of the fund in utilities, consumer staples and healthcare you get the amount in secular growth. The rest is cyclical. Depending on how aggressive or defensive you want to be you may want different amounts in cyclical or secular. Your fund has 24.75% in secular growth which is in line with the s&p at 24.83%.

There is also the country breakdown to look at. This is a trade-off. The in other countries the more diversified, but the more the currency risk since you spend in one currency and have your assets in another it could affect your investment. Your fund is heavy on the US. You are in Germany.

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:29 am

Christ, on a overwrought cross. Do you really think this "investing is hard to learn as an adult" spiel is going to help a novice? This regurgitation of decimals and acronyms and recession and volatility? Really? This condescending bullshit? This is how you would teach a class to people who are unduly intimidated by investing? If I was in such a class, I'd shove my investing for dummies horizontally up your asscrack so I could plot on a graph the exponential growth of my hatred of your arrogant self.

Fuck the prospectus, fuck the volatility. Fuck the due diligence. And most of all, fuck your sharpe ratio whatever the fuck that is.

Just open a popular Vanguard ETF account and put $50 or whatever you have in it. It's better to be a good saver than a good investor and the difference between the main retail sites Vanguard/Fidelity/Schwab is negligible. Just pick their biggest ETF's and go from there. If you want to learn more, that's great. But that's the warp and woof of it.

Damn.

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Dream of Freedom » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:44 am

Jason, she seems nervous about investing in something she doesn't understand. In my opinion the best way to cure fear is to understand. You can invest however you like, but no matter how much you channel insane clown posse I know what would make me feel more comfortable in her position.

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:54 am

If that level of understanding was required for the general population of investors to become comfortable with retail ETF investing, 99% wouldn't be investing. And you not knowing this speaks to your real level of understanding. Not your recitation of a bunch of cut and paste bullshit.

"This is a process called due diligence."

The woman owns a damn farm. I think she knows what that is.
Last edited by Jason on Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

horsewoman
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:59 am

Dream of Freedom wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:44 am
Jason, she seems nervous about investing in something she doesn't understand. In my opinion the best way to cure fear is to understand.
I'm nervous about investing in stocks because there are always some ominous threads going on about "now that all the white collar workers investing in index funds markets will crash soon" - I'm paraphrasing, but things like that make me suspicions - me being one of those sheep-like white collar investors...!

@DoF - I really appreciate that you took the time to point out to me the different layers of what I need to learn, thank you! I will look into your links and see how far I come before I'm "she-of-the-glazed-over-eyes" again.
OTOH even if I would not phrase it in such colorful language like Jason, he does have a point. If I need to know THAT much about finances to invest I feel like digging a hole in my backyard and hiding some money there seems like a reasonable alternative. Does ANYONE know his stuff besides a wall street pro?

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:05 am

ETF's were specifically created so the average investor can tune out the Wall Street pros. As well as people on the internet who like to talk like them.

Warren Buffet instructed his financial advisors to put his wife's money in index funds. My guess is the most successful investor in human history didn't care whether she knew what a fucking sharpe ratio was.

horsewoman
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:16 am

Jason wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:29 am
I look at these financial instruments as I do my car. I don't really know how they run, but as long as I keep putting gas/money into them with a periodic service, they seem to be doing ok. Can I explain exactly what goes on under their hoods? No. But do I really need to for what I'm trying to accomplish? No. I understand enough and there are enough other people putting their money into Subarus and ETF's to make me feel comfortable. For what it's worth, the back of the napkin description is that ETF's act like index/mutual funds but trade like stocks.
I did of course some research into ETFs before I bought (due diligence light?) my fist shares and like you, I felt that I am reasonable save with them - at least better than no investing at all!

BUT! There are a some conversations between the investment heavy-weights here going on that make me skittish. It would be pretty bad to stuff my spare money into something that will turn into dust shortly before I need it. Ignorance IS bliss! Until it is not, I suppose.
Jason wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:29 am

Ok. Now to me. Although I hate Bono more than I hate vegetables and animals, I would like to sing like him.
I'm not surprised that you don't like animals and vegetables - I have been reading your journal the last few days :) Very entertaining!
The Bono thing - I recommend lip syncing. Everyone does it, and one can do it without leaving the comfy chair at all!

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Re: investing in ETF

Post by jacob » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:07 pm

@Jason - Did you get out on the wrong side of bed this morning?

@horsewoman - Suppose I that I had just bought a horse for $200 on eBay and now asked a horse forum if it is was wrong to buy a horse since I don't know anything about horses, or if I bought the wrong horse, or maybe one that was too cheap? How is that question best answered? I don't know, because it's hard to know where to start answering and so forum answers to such questions have a way of turning into autobiographical opinions :) But in general ... investing is unique because it contains both intellectual and emotional components. Therefore answers are rather individual although whenever it comes to individuals, we also know that many individuals are rather similar, especially at the early stages.

For example, right now the standard recommendation is something like 100% VTSAX or some balanced combination which satisfies both components. It is intellectually simple to understand. People can reference popularized accounts that are easy to read---JL Collins blog stock series which later turned into a best-selling book is immensely popular and a good starting point---and if they want to dive deeper they can find some old academic work that supports the strategy(*). It's emotionally satisfying because a) it is simple to understand; b) we're currently sitting on top of a bull market at several time-scales, particularly at the 10-year and 40-year scales, so you basically have confirmations from two (2!) generations; and c) there's the very important factor of social proof in that everybody else is doing it. Combining both, it's not only simple, it is also easy---both intellectually and emotionally.

(*) Even better! Newer work that goes against the thesis is mathematically complicated or requires a lot of effort to understand.

This is therefore where many people begin and end. But you bought a [random?] ETF, so now you gave up on the social proof aspect (although you're kind seeking it here with this question? ;-) ). From this follows the need to learn how to deal with things when your portfolio goes down/when it goes up but not as much as the market/when it goes up more than the market (was it skill or luck?). It's best to learn these emotional lessons with small amounts. Hence, it's good to have some skin in the game ... but not too much... even when improving on the intellectual side.

The intellectual side is as wide as it is potentially deep. Personally, I prefer to learn from textbooks rather than novels because the material is organized and you know you're not reading someone's autobiography. I've posted a link about my startup curriculum several times. This is more studying than most people are willing to engage in. However, for an overview, I recommend https://www.amazon.com/dp/1580622011/ ... it's a bit dated in its assumptions (so don't copy it naively... "naive copy"-temperaments should stick to level 1 described above) ... However, it goes through essentially what it takes for the easy-road and the hard-road respectively for each investment types. It contains far more wisdom than what you see in most/modern "how to start investing"-type books.

7Wannabe5
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:11 pm

I don't know if you have CSAs in Germany, but an ETF is to finance kind of like a CSA is to farming. It would be like there was this independent entity which was The Farmer's Market Committee which gathered together shares of all sorts of different harvest from all sorts of different independent farms and bundled them together into boxes and you share in the CSA would entitle you to one of these proportionally mixed boxes of the bounty of each farmer's harvest. Obviously, the Farmer's Market Committee (which would obviously be analogous to Vanguard in this analogy) would also have to charge a small fee to cover their labor in putting together the boxes in a manner convenient for consumers.

All of the farmers whose produce is being combined in the small single customer size boxes are independent in most ways. One might just own a very small new farm on which he grows mostly arugula. Another might be 3rd generation giant cattle ranch. But, they are not completely independent. There are factors in the general economy which could effect all or most of them. For instance, extremely cold spring.

In recent years the CSAs have been very popular with consumers. So, the price of each box share has gone up more than actual farm production. But, that doesn't mean that the price is necessarily too high or not fair. Only the totality of the individual decisions of each consumer who is currently happy with their purchase can decide that, but the higher the price goes relative to production, the more attractive some other options such as stocking up on 5 years worth of staples at Costco and/or digging your own garden might become.

Not really a very exact analogy, but might lend a clue as to where to look for risk?

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:11 pm

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:16 am
BUT! There are a some conversations between the investment heavy-weights here going on that make me skittish.
Most likely because money flowing into ETF's is not flowing into their managed funds. It's in their financial interest to raise concerns.

Can you lose all your money in a Vanguard ETF? Yes, of course. But if you have, the world economy has collapsed and marauding bands of heathenesque motherfuckers are now running off with your chickens so you're already financially fucked beyond redemption.

You want to read a prospectus, be my guest. But the whole point of these retail investing instruments is that you are not smart enough to read prospectuses or prospecti or whatever the fuck is plural for prospectus. But let me ask you this? What are you going to find in them that's going to make a difference? Like how would you even know? Unless you're Charlie Munger. Or Dreams of Freedom, apparently.

As I have stated before, I bought an annuity. Dumb move. Actually, the dumbest move. But as dumb as it was, not investing at all would have been even dumber. Taking $100 and placing it in A Vanguard ETF broad based stock fund is not a big deal and should not be addressed as one. I mean save your due diligence for something important. Like if you get brain cancer and need to find the best doctor. Shit like that. Not a damn ETF.

bigato
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by bigato » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:22 pm

We have personalities that are at least a little similar in some aspects, so I feel I can help you here. Your reaction to investments could be mine some time ago. You probably would be able to find posts of mine complaining that I don't have the interest to study much about investing at that point.

The problem is, that it is such a complex subject, and it feels so overwhelming. And you really want to study it and understand what you doing, but it is so much stuff that you end up nervous and anxious. I feel you, it is exactly the same here with me. To make things worse, some years ago I read some recomendation by jacob (I think it was on the blog) about the proper way to learn about investing. My interpretation of it at the time was that I should start by reading "Man, Economy and State" which is such a huge treatise, very much textbook the way he likes it. I saw the value in that advice, since you need to understand what is going on from first principles, right? How the hell are you going to build a house with bricks if you don't understand how to lay one over another? But yet it felt like too much to me and I quickly got bored from reading it. My fault was that I was trying to follow a learning path copying from jacob, who I admire a lot, but was missing the obvious point that while we may have a lot in common, we are essentially so different in learning strategies.

While starting with the details and building your understanding of the whole was probably ok for him (or maybe he just already had in his head so much of the foundational knowledge), for the path had to be different. To me, it works best to starting from the macros, from the overview, and then diving in only when I feel like it. That makes sense in my head because you don't always need to understand all the variables in a complex system in order to predict it. Often, there are a few key variables that are enough to have a resonable level of prediction 80% of the time. So it doesn't make sense, for me, to learn complex stuff in methodical order, the same way that it doesn't make sense to read a encyclopedia from A to Z.

Because of not understanding about my own learning strategies sooner, I ended up postponing reading about this stuff until money was more substantial so as to justify the added effort. But eventually, as the utility of that knowledge increased to me, I naturally became more interested in learning about it. At some point I discovered this great guy who is so aligned with my way of thinking that I'm sure you will like him. His name is Ray Dalio and he is a billionaire hedge fund manager that since some years ago started the transition from managing his company to what he calls leaving his legacy to the world, that is, teaching other people what he has learned.

I particularly recommend one very simple animation video produced by him called "How the Economic Machine Works". It's quite enlightening and introduces some very important subjects in this field. After that, if you are anythingobsessive by stuff that interest you like me, you can transition to watching whatever other videos of him that you can find on youtube, interviews, etc. Maybe after that you even transition to his books. At the very least, at some point you will have a much better understanding of a lot of basics that will be enough that, even though you will not be able to earn crazy lots of money by being a investment master, at the very least you will have enough knowledge to settle down on your anxiety and have a reasonable level of confidence on your overall predictions about the possibilities to come. Not earning like a investment wizard, but not wasting too much time on things that feel meaningless and yet having reasoable returns.

Over time, I'm settling on investing by large classes of assets which I feel will not require too deep a level of understanding of my part. Mostly I need to understand the macro trends. Even choosing such an strategy, my personality is such that I nowadays read disproportionate amounts of news about the world and my country, out of a sense of curiosity of how it all may affect my future. If I where to invest in individuals stocks nowadays, I'd probably be reading everything there is to know about the company and its field and the science behind it, and the trends. I could see myself even going to investor assemblies and maybe even trying to network with people that work in and around the business so I could know what is going on. My obsessive behaviour works like that over time, always drilling deeper and deeper. Because I am not specially interested in filling my time that way, I'm sticking to macro trends so far.

Recently jacob posted about the levels of knowledge/skills in investing. I'm somewhere between copying well tested portfolio models and customizing my own adapted to my forecasts. While I could just point you to the https://portfoliocharts.com website by our forum colleague Tyler9000, I feel like the most important part of your question was not regarding what strategy to follow, but how to choose one that will not take lots of your time nor make you anxious. I believe that my recommendations above have useful advice in that direction.

bigato
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by bigato » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:38 pm

How the Economic Machine Works
https://economicprinciples.org/

Jason
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Jason » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:51 pm

"Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes."

Robert Watson-Watt

I'm sure JLF has some scientific Kevin Baconesque relationship with him.

Seppia
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Seppia » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:28 pm

I think you did something very important already: you started dipping your toes.
There are many things to learn in investing, about the markets, about the technicalities and (most importantly in my opinion) about yourself.
In order to do so, the best is to start having some skin in the game: it will motivate you to learn more, to research, and you will understand how you react under different circumstances.

The person who I consider my mentor in terms of investing told me when I was 24: “normal people who are paying attention need about 30 years to understand how the markets work, so the sooner you start the better”

So my suggestion would be to start: slow, one step at a time, but start.

horsewoman
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:43 pm

jacob wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:07 pm
@horsewoman - Suppose I that I had just bought a horse for $200 on eBay and now asked a horse forum if it is was wrong to buy a horse since I don't know anything about horses, or if I bought the wrong horse, or maybe one that was too cheap?
Well you can turn a horse into sausage at almost any point, with very little research. That takes a lot of risk away...
jacob wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:07 pm
It's best to learn these emotional lessons with small amounts. Hence, it's good to have some skin in the game ... but not too much... even when improving on the intellectual side.
So I'm taking from this that my "strategy" (and I use this term very loosely) is not completely wrong - investing small amounts, and accumulate cash until I'm at least partially knowing what I do. Seems reasonable, only risk is that I'm ready to invest my cash when we're on a downturn, and thus lost a lot of opportunity for gain.
Seppia wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:28 pm
I think you did something very important already: you started dipping your toes.
There are many things to learn in investing, about the markets, about the technicalities and (most importantly in my opinion) about yourself.
In order to do so, the best is to start having some skin in the game: it will motivate you to learn more, to research, and you will understand how you react under different circumstances.

The person who I consider my mentor in terms of investing told me when I was 24: “normal people who are paying attention need about 30 years to understand how the markets work, so the sooner you start the better”

So my suggestion would be to start: slow, one step at a time, but start.
This is the reason I picked some "random" stock my bank recommended to me after asking me some questions about risk tolerance, ect.
Thank you for pointing that out, it makes me feel better about starting. I have no one in RL that is interested in anything besides working FT until 67 and collecting pension.

horsewoman
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:06 pm

bigato wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:22 pm
I feel like the most important part of your question was not regarding what strategy to follow, but how to choose one that will not take lots of your time nor make you anxious. I believe that my recommendations above have useful advice in that direction.
Thank you, you nailed it! This is exactly it.
I have watched the video and found it very informative, I'll be sure to check out more of his stuff. I knew how credit is created but was not really aware of the debt circles. I'm a visual learner, so that was really helpful.

The main problem is that I'm supremely uninterested in economics. In the German education system kids are "sorted" into categories rather early (science, economics, social & arts). By an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances, I fell into the economic branch, even though the other two would have been a better fit for me. So I have a 3-year apprenticeship and a vocational diploma in the economic field under my belt but I really don't like to engage my mind in it. It bores me to tears and I do not have the stamina to deal with things that bore me.
OTOH investing money is vital if one does not want to work until 70. So I'll have to do something about it, but it will probably not be learning the principles of investing out of dusty tomes. Baby steps! Thanks for the encouragement, your thoughts were really helpful for me.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:47 pm

Jason wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:05 am
Warren Buffet instructed his financial advisors to put his wife's money in index funds.
I think it’s important to observe that Buffett’s wife will have so much money that she cannot play in smaller markets without buying whole companies, so 90% into an S&P 500 fund is the one of the only autopilot investments she could make without moving markets.
horsewoman wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:06 pm
I have watched the video and found it very informative
If you liked the Dalio video there you may want to read Dalio’s recent article regarding paradigm shifts. Tin foil hat wearers have been saying this all along but Dalio is a billionaire hedge fund manager so perhaps people will listen to him. I think Dalio is too easy on financial types of his ilk when he says in that video that the overextension of the cycles are human nature but these are polarizing times and people are doing the best they can to project an image. That’s another conversation tho.....

bigato
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Re: investing in ETF

Post by bigato » Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:58 pm

horsewoman: given your last post, I'll mention two more authors that may interest you, more to the psychology and science side. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist that got a nobel in economics due to his study of the human decision making. Be warned,it's dense. But very interesting if you like the human side more. Other that I suspect you may like is Nassin Taleb. If you got burned by it in the past, just start light and slow with things that don't bore you. Videos are great for this.

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