An excerpt from James B. Stewart’s March 27th 2020 New York Times article:
I Became a Disciplined Investor Over 40 Years. The Virus Broke Me in 40 Days.
My reluctance to look at my portfolio was common, he said. “Watching yourself have less money is painful,” he said. “It’s not just that you’re poorer. You also feel ashamed, foolish, like you screwed up. One of the toughest things is to separate your money from your ego and identity.”
He gave me credit for gathering the courage to face reality and then to buy. “Nothing relieves anxiety more than taking action,” he said. “You can take small actions that address the emotional need to do something without putting your finances at undue risk.”
Stocks are one of the few assets that psychologically become harder to buy as they become cheaper. “Every decision to buy is met with negative reinforcement,” Mr. Murtha said. Even he missed the great buying opportunity in March 2009. “I was too scared,” he said.
At least I didn’t commit what Mr. Murtha considers the most serious error, which is to sell into a steep decline. “That’s where people really get hurt,” he said. “Once you’re out, the emotional leverage works against you. Either the market drops further, which confirms your fear. Or it goes up, and you don’t want to buy after you just sold. Then it gets further and further away from you. People don’t realize how hard it is to get back in.”
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