There, there. Stop worrying.
It's true that these are mixed-up, shook-up times for the world and national financial markets. But let the Wall Street pundits down all the Maalox.As an average investor, you should sit back, relax and enjoy the 1990s.
Here's a list of things having to do with money that you shouldn't be losing sleep over:
- Whether the plummet of the Japanese stock market will spell doom for our market as well.
Our market has held up quite well despite those problems in the land of the rising sun. That compares to the entire Pacific region, which is in financial chaos because so much of its investments are tied to mighty Japan.
Japan's financial woes were overdue, and swallowing this bitter pill will get its markets back in line with reality. The Japanese economy is hurting, to be sure, but all economies hurt from time to time.
In the meantime, as an investor, don't look to the many popular Japanese stock funds to do much for quite a while. Don't have heavy personal holdings in these or commit new money.
- Whether the changes in Europe will mean an investment bonanza.
It's likely that Western Europe will benefit from the de-communization and rebuilding of Eastern Europe, but this whole unpredictable business is still hard to call.
While the West German stock market this year is up 10 percent and prospects are good for that nation's economy, the combined markets of Europe are down 1 percent. Investment in stock funds tied to Europe is booming, but many pundits believe the big boom for this year is over.
Rather than a get-rich-quick scheme, European stock funds should be viewed as a diversification move. Don't put all your eggs in this half-constructed basket just yet.
- Whether investors will be stuck holding blue-chip losers as technology and small-company stocks head for the stratosphere.
It's true that the U.S. market is undergoing a shift, yet the stocks of well-known, dividend-paying companies never go completely out of style. These provide a strong foundation for an investment portfolio and should never be forsaken altogether.
In addition, use caution in dealing with stocks that you don't understand or have never heard about before. Many of the tiny or one-product companies which these stocks represent won't exist in the future due to vagaries of their volatile markets. Their stock prices often gyrate like yo-yos.
If technology and small companies continue to excel, as they have early in 1990, also expect so-called "penny stock" pitchmen to surface again. They'll be touting equities which they claim are the best thing since sliced bread. Avoid being taken in by ridiculous claims. Stick with a solid broker you trust, or a stock fund with a proven track record.
- Whether it's time to make dramatic changes in one's personal investment strategy.
It may be time to make some adjustments, but it's not time to clear the decks and start over. Using a firm foundation of fixed-rate investments and dependable stocks, build upon it with some new holdings in technology, small companies or Europe. Take your time and don't overdo it. Don't let any investment adviser or broker scare you into making sudden changes.
This is also a time in our economy when you should primarily buy a home to live in, not to make a financial killing by unloading it in a year or two. That strategy isn't as likely to work in the 1990s as it did in the 1980s. Real estate values are expected to be more closely tied to inflation, and runaway inflation isn't expected.
Finally, if you're confused about what steps to take, don't be ashamed to keep money in a money market fund or a bank certificate of deposit while you figure it all out.