If You Read Only One Link This Weekend...
Is a 35% drop in the stock market (from its June peak) a crisis in itself? No it is not. The stock market does not owe you a living. It's down 35% from four months ago, but it was up 50% in the three years before that (see chart). The present "crisis" has taken prices on the TSE all the way back to where they were in the dark days of 2005 — when they had just finished climbing 50% in two years. Think back to that time. You were rich! You were happy! You were counting your money!
Maybe you should have sold then. But you didn't, because you wanted more. Now you're paying the price. You've given up three years of gains. But you're still up 50% from where you were five years ago. And, if you're sensible, you'll make up for not selling then by buying now. Those who were on the buy side on October 19, 1987 made a killing in the months that followed.
Not willing to risk it? Fine. Just sit tight. Worried about your retirement? If you're anywhere under 55, you'll be fine. You don't need the money for 10 or 15 years. Stocks will have more than recouped their losses by then (at a compound annual growth rate of 5%, you double your money every 14 years). If you're over 55 — what are you doing in the stock market?This bears emphasis: If you're old enough to be worried about your stocks, you're too old to own them. Stocks earn more in the long term, because they're riskier in the short term. You should be heavily in stocks when you're young, because you're not going to need the money any time soon. But you should be gradually shifting into safer investments — bonds, T-bills — as you get older. By the time you're of retirement age, they should be only a small part of your portfolio. That's not complicated. It doesn't take a PhD or a high-powered investment adviser. It's just common sense.