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2011-07-16  storeroom

双语时事:投资须记“五要五不要” 2009年04月14日 10:22   新东方

  Despite recent gains in the stock market, portfolios remain badly damaged by the market performance of the past 18 months. With jobs still falling away at a rapid clip, the recession is still a serious concern and policymakers are scrambling to implement expensive and complex solutions。

  As we wade through these difficult times, how should you think about your own financial situation? A good starting point is to remember what Kipling wrote: Keep your head about you as everyone is losing theirs。

  It's a great temptation in times such as these to think things will never get better. But if history shows us anything, things do eventually improve. In fact, judging by the standards of past economic shocks, this recession is getting long in the tooth. The average recession since World War II has lasted 11 months, and the longest was 16 months in 1981-82. Our current crisis is 15 months old。

  Also, hints of bottoming are starting to surface. Oil prices have begun to rise, indicating some increased demand. China is importing aluminum again. In addition, the stimulus plan will start to kick in later this year, creating jobs and, perhaps, helping soothe some of the enormous fears in the marketplace。

  So, there are definitely brighter times ahead. Until then, here are some strategies to help you keep your head about you: five things that you definitely should do and five things you definitely should not do, as you weigh how to protect and build your assets。

  Let's start with the five things you should definitely do:

  1. Reduce Your Expensive Debt

  Too many of us overextended ourselves during the past decade with credit cards and other debt. These bills now hang over people like the Sword of Damocles。

  The first order of business is to reduce this expensive debt, even before saving for retirement or investing in the stock market. One smart strategy is to take advantage of much lower gasoline prices. One year ago, gas cost more than $4 a gallon in much of the country. Today, it's less than half that. You should devote the money you save to eliminating your credit-card debt。

  2. Get On a Budget

  Thrift is the new black. That means getting on a budget, measuring exactly what you spend and looking for ways to save money. Perhaps you are eating out more than you appreciate or spending too much on a cup of coffee. Budgeting is a lost discipline for many people and one that should be rediscovered。

  There are several free Web sites, such as, and, that can help you sort out your spending and give you a sense of where you can save money。

  You upload password information for your credit cards and other accounts, and the sites aggregate and sort the data, so you can see how much you're spending on, say, groceries, eating out and movies. You can then track your spending habits over time and make adjustments to save money。

  What's more, some of these sites, notably Wesabe, also have active communities discussing various budgeting issues. If you are just getting started on developing budgeting discipline, talking with others who are doing the same can help make it easier。

  3. Guard Against Inflation

  Currently, inflation is a relative nonissue, and most commentators -- not to mention the Federal Reserve -- believe that it won't become a problem anytime soon。

  Yet, many things are taking place that could raise the specter of inflation in rapid order。

  For starters, the federal government is spending money like a drunken sailor. There's the nearly $800 billion stimulus program, a proposed budget of $4 trillion (up from $3 trillion in the previous year) and hundreds of billions more in bank, real-estate and credit-rescue packages. On top of that, short-term interest rates, set by the Fed, are essentially at zero and quite low in other countries as well。

  All of which is like so much kindling waiting for a spark. Once that spark hits, growth and inflation could come roaring back to life。

  For that reason, it's smart to have a portion of your fixed-income investments in Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS. These bonds are backed by the U.S. government, like normal Treasurys, but also have built-in protections that boost returns to account for inflation。

  Another inflation-hedging strategy is to invest in commodities. When growth resumes, demand for oil, copper and other commodities will rise, making their prices increase. A warning, though: Given the volatility of commodities, financial planners recommend that investors have no more than 5% to 10% of their portfolio in this sector。

4. Have a Stock-Market Strategy

  Despite the recent sprint in share prices, investors remain leery of the stock market. It will take more than a four-week rally to soothe the pain caused by the stock market since it tumbled from its late-2007 highs. When so much doubt surrounds the stock market, it's usually a time to think about investing in equities. Despite the horrid pain most of us have suffered in the market during the past 18 months, stocks, like the economy, will not remain down forever。

  That doesn't mean going whole-hog into the market, however. Consider coming at stocks first through your retirement account. For many of us, that account has a longer time horizon and built-in tax efficiencies, and often comes with a corporate match -- which is essentially free money。

  Outside of your retirement account, be sure to maintain a diversified approach among stocks, bonds and cash. A good rule of thumb is to use your age as the percentage of assets you should have in safer bond investments. Thus, if you are 50, you would be split 50-50 between stocks and bonds. If you want to be more conservative, you'd carve back some of the stock exposure and leave it in cash。

  Even with the recent runup in stocks, you still might have a larger-than-usual chunk of your assets in bonds these days, because bonds did well last year and have remained solid this year. If that's the case, rebalancing toward stocks makes sense, especially with their prices so low。

  5. Preserve What You Have

  One of the lessons of the past few years is that the stock market and your home are not ATMs. They are assets that can rise and fall. Having a strategy to preserve your gains is prudent in these challenging times。

  Along with diversification of assets -- stocks, bonds, cash -- maintain diversification in the stock market, as well. Buy broad, low-fee index funds, rather than individual stocks, to lower your exposure to risk。

  And maintain a rainy-day fund in safer places, such as TIPS, certificates of deposit or highly rated municipal or corporate bonds. A good rule of thumb is to have a reserve of six months' earnings in case of a job loss。

  So, what should you definitely not do?

  1. Don't Bury Your Money in the Backyard

  With things the way they are, it's tempting to simply opt out altogether. Fear of financial-system failure, the uncertain nature of the stock market and just a sense of foreboding have people thinking that it's smarter to keep their money in the backyard, a mattress or an empty can。

  But it really isn't. The bank-insurance system works for holdings under $250,000. I know because my bank once failed, and the transfer of assets was seamless. So, at least keep your cash in certificates of deposit earning some sort of return. An overabundance of fear and caution can cost you money; don't let that happen to you。

  2. Don't Chase Returns

  This is a great temptation in any market, but especially so today. Bonds had a great run last year, but some analysts believe they may just be the next bubble waiting to burst。

  In short, don't double down on an asset that has had such a tremendous run. You are likely coming to the game too late, since most of the gains have already been made. That can skew your portfolio too sharply in a single direction, making you vulnerable to a decline in previously hot asset groups。

  Look at it this way. In the past few years, the temptation to chase returns led people to buy too many houses, invest too heavily in a soaring stock market and aggressively bid up oil. All of it ended badly。

  3. Don't Abandon Diversification

  There's a great desire now to stay safe by holding only cash or only Treasurys. This kind of behavior is really just the same as chasing performance. Be disciplined. Stick to a diversified strategy and rebalance your holdings every year to reduce your exposure to the high-fliers。

4. Don't Stop Saving for Retirement

  In times of turmoil, we tend to focus on what's right in front of us: the current bills, the savings account and what the day will bring. But we are all still going to want to retire at some point, so that means remaining disciplined about saving for retirement。

  Employer 401(k) programs remain a good vehicle, even if the stock market has smacked their holdings. These programs allow you to invest money tax-deferred, and many companies, as noted, provide a corporate matching program。

  Rather than ignoring your account statements, as many of us have done, take a look at them and make sure that your holdings are diversified and balanced. Ignoring your savings -- or discontinuing them -- will come back to haunt you when you want to leave off working and relax on the beach。

  5. Don't Ignore Common Sense

  Much heartbreak in the recent past has stemmed from an ignorance of common sense. Fraudsters promising overabundant returns snookered many investors. Some people viewed housing and the stock markets as never-can-lose gambits. Others spent far more than they had。

  Personal finance, at its heart, boils down to common sense. You have to eliminate your high-cost debt and get on a budget. You must save for retirement. And you need to make sure that you own a home you can afford and enjoy, as opposed to seeing it as a get-rich-quick scheme。

  In short: Be prudent, save money, invest wisely. Getting back to these very basics will help all of us rebuild our portfolios and set sail for a better day。







  1. 减少负债



  2. 精打细算





  3. 谨防通胀

目前,通货膨胀基本还不算一个问题。美国联邦储备委员会(Federal Reserve)以及大多数评论家都认为通货膨胀在短期内不足为虑。






  4. 要有股市投资战略





  5. 要保护已有的收益





  1. 不要把钱埋在后院里



  2. 不要追逐回报




  3. 不要放弃分散投资


  4. 不要停止为退休攒钱




  5. 不要忽视常识




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