Many journalists will tell you that bad news sells more papers. Well, not so many people buy newspapers anymore so it has fallen to the electronic media to promote the theme of a continued doomsday scenario for investors wherever they may reside.

Every day I receive a minimum of 150 emails, a select few of which offer me an opportunity to either make something bigger or something smaller depending on what suits your fancy.

Most of the others are notes from ‘experts’ telling me what the stock market is going to do next.

I used to read them all, which kept me awake until all hours and the only thing I really learnt was that they had as much idea as anyone else.

So, what to do? I remember years ago it seemed that very few people invested in the Australian stock market. A few years later, almost everyone invested in not just the stock market but also on futures, options, warrants, options on futures, margin lending, warrants on options, currencies, shorts, swaps, commodities, swaps on options, futures on swaps, debt instruments, options on debt instruments, options on warrants, options on shorts, etc. You get the picture.

I have always thought that investing was quite a simple business – find good companies that pay good dividends and display solid long-term growth and buy equity in that business and share in the rewards. Watch the business, not the market. There are many great companies that fit the bill but as investors all we seem to want is instant gratification. They tell me that this is a male trait by the way and that women make more patient investors who aren’t as fazed by the ups and downs and daily gyrations.

Life used to be so much simpler. We weren’t barraged every minute with doomsday scenarios and mountains of debt derivatives that seemed to explode with regularity, taking down investors, companies, and now countries.

Investment funds now roam the globe looking to profit from misery if it serves their purpose.

Every time a share that someone has bought goes down a few cents I get a call asking me if the business model is broken – “What’s gone wrong, who is selling the stock? What do they know that we don’t?”

The answer is simple, change the channel that you are glued to all the time and put on something like National Geographic, maybe a daytime soap. Go for a walk or take a drive. Do anything to stop yourself from losing sight of the main game and that is building up wealth over the medium to long term.

On the weekend, I saw a number of different people who all told me the same thing. It goes like this – “I just can’t handle the volatility, it keeps me awake at night, I can’t sleep and so I have decided to sell everything and put what’s left in the bank.”

So what we need to do is to sell our Commonwealth Bank shares that have given investors an annualised return of 105 per cent over the past 20 years in order to get five per cent by having the money “in the bank”?

Lets get rid of our Origin Energy that have returned 74.4 per cent, our ANZ Bank shares that have returned 69.5 per cent per annum, or our Westpac that have returned 54.2 per cent or even BHP at a miserly 48.2 per cent per annum. Even our Coca-Cola at 33.2 per cent return should go out the gate.

The list goes on, and on.

The best advice that no one will give you is to turn off the TV for a while.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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