Being able to Pay Capital Gains taxes in 2008 makes me feel Good.
It means I must have done some things right to stay afloat of the masses. I will have to pay Capital Gains Taxes in 2008 due to stock profts realised in first 6 months of 2008 which were big enough to overcome the losses of Sept & early Oct.
2008 is currently still a good year for my portfolio although the year is not over. Currently my realised stock gains are up 50%+ since Jan. 1, 2008. The stock gains came in the first 6 months of the year when I placed huge long position bets on 4 sectors (Coal, Oil/Gas, Solar, & Agriculture/Fertilizer) , I also kept shorting the financial sector stocks which I initially started shorting in Feb. of 2007 (Search my post on Subprime Feb, 2007
"Worst still to come for Sub-Prime Lenders like LEND, NFI, NEW, CFC")
The Year of Wall Street's Fallen Idols
by Brett Arends
Friday, November 14, 2008
provided by Wall Street Journal Online:
Chagrined, even ashamed, about your portfolio losses? Take heart: Even managers with some of the best reputations on Wall Street have seen their holdings savaged this year.
Millions of Americans are reeling from investment losses this year.
For many, the financial cost of the red ink is only part of the misery. They're also kicking themselves for the losses.
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Maybe you feel you invested too much. Maybe you feel you should have invested in different assets.
This may prove scant consolation, but it is worth noting: The best of the best have done no better. So go easy on yourself.
This has been Wall Street's year of the fallen idols.
Marty Whitman, the legendary septuagenarian who co-manages Third Avenue Value, has seen crises come and go. There are few you could trust more in a panic. But his fund has almost halved this year. Bill Miller, the famous manager at Legg Mason Value, has fallen by nearly 60%. And that's not even the worst of it. Miller's more flexible, go-anywhere fund, Legg Mason Opportunity Trust, is down by two-thirds since the start of the year.
Ron Muhlenkamp at Muhlenkamp, Wally Weitz at Hickory, Manu Daftary at Quaker Strategic Growth, Richie Freeman at Legg Mason Partners Aggressive Growth, Ken Heebner at CGM Focus, Christopher Davis and Kenneth Feinberg at Davis New York Venture Fund, Will Danoff at Fidelity Contrafund, Saul Pannell at Hartford Capital Appreciation: They've all lost about 40% or more. Some have nearly halved.
It is a shocking bloodbath. These are managers with some of the highest reputations on Wall Street. They have beaten the Street over many years, even decades. And even they got shellacked.
What chance did you have?
Even most of those who anticipated a crash got pummeled. Bob Rodriguez at FPA Capital has been very bearish for years, and was holding large amounts of cash in the fund. But he's still down 36%.
The picture for Warren Buffett looks somewhat better, although he swung from $3 billion investment profits to $1.4 billion losses in the first nine months of the year, while net earnings more than halved. Shares in Berkshire Hathaway have fallen about 31% since Jan. 1.
Those who look good include John Hussman at Hussman Strategic Total Return, who is down just a few percent. And Jeremy Grantham at GMO, who predicted much of the meltdown. His GMO Benchmark-Free Allocation Fund, an institutional fund that has a pretty free rein on what to hold and what to avoid, has still lost 11% so far this year.
There are three long-term lessons here for ordinary investors.
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The first is that if the smartest and best fund managers can't successfully anticipate a crash with any degree of confidence, you can't either. Time spent trying is time wasted.
The smart money rarely spends much time very bearish, and with good reason. In practice it is almost impossible to predict a crash. And even if you are right about the direction, you will probably get the timing wrong. That may end up compounding your losses instead of preventing them.
John Hussman is among very few who have gotten this one right. I know at least two superstar managers who correctly anticipated a blow out, and moved heavily into cash...in the fall of 2006, a year too soon. Markets soared instead.
I also know of at least one portfolio manager who's been predicting the U.S. credit implosion for at least seven years.
Prudent Bear has been betting on falling shares (and rising gold) for a long time. It's finally getting its reward: It's up about 37% so far this year. But investors actually lost money between 2003 and the end of 2007, while the rest of Wall Street rose 70%.
And remember that investing is a long-term game. This has been the worst financial bloodbath since 1929. Yet Ken Heebner is still up more than fivefold over the past ten years, even after factoring in this year's carnage. Mr. Daftary has more than doubled investor's money. Many others are up 50% or more over that time.
The best an investor can do is to look for value, prefer unfashionable assets over fashionable ones, and avoid chasing past performance.
As previously observed here, everything has now fallen. Inflation-protected government bonds. Munis. Gold stocks. The whole shebang. Eighteen months ago, every single asset class was expensive. Today it's possible that almost every single asset class -- with the possible exception of regular Treasurys -- is cheap.
Write to Brett Arends at email@example.com