Pragmatic Capitalism

Capital for Living a More Practical Life

Saving Investors From Themselves

By Robert Seawright, Proprietor, Above the Market

Jason Zweig is the personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal.  His columns appear in the week-end edition of the Journal and are always well worth reading.  Last week he deservedly (if tardily) won a Gerald Loeb Award, the most prestigious in business journalism. But instead of my telling you that Jason is great, I suggest you merely read his most recent column.

Res ipsa loquitur.

Here’s a taste.

I was once asked, at a journalism conference, how I defined my job. I said: My job is to write the exact same thing between 50 and 100 times a year in such a way that neither my editors nor my readers will ever think I am repeating myself.

That’s because good advice rarely changes, while markets change constantly. The temptation to pander is almost irresistible. And while people need good advice, what they want is advice that sounds good.

The advice that sounds the best in the short run is always the most dangerous in the long run. Everyone wants the secret, the key, the roadmap to the primrose path that leads to El Dorado: the magical low-risk, high-return investment that can double your money in no time. Everyone wants to chase the returns of whatever has been hottest and to shun whatever has gone cold. Most financial journalism, like most of Wall Street itself, is dedicated to a basic principle of marketing: When the ducks quack, feed ‘em.

Read it all.  Please.  As usual, it’s terrific.  It will be the best thing you read today, this week or this month.

Congratulations, Jason.  I am proud to call you my friend.

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