Speculators, Skeptics & Suckers

  • Speculators jump into stocks in the late stages of a Bear market and into the early stages of the Bull market; they are the gamblers; and they are willing to accept higher relative risk to capture the largest price movements that occur later, when the Skeptics and Suckers are buying in larger numbers.
  • Skeptics wait for the Speculators to make the first move and to see real evidence of economic recovery before buying into a Bull market. Skeptics don’t jump in; they move in increments; and they usually miss the biggest price movements, both up and down. Put simply, Skeptics make their money when neither fear nor greed are at peak levels.  There is also a sub-category of Skeptic, which are the Contrarians, who are skeptical to the degree that the most prudent position is the opposite of the herd.
  • Suckers will buy or sell at any point during a market cycle but tend to buy more at higher price levels and sell more at lower price levels; therefore, as a whole, Suckers are the last to join a Bull market and the last to abandon it.

These are generalizations and most investors will exhibit characteristics of all three types at various points of a market cycle.  For example, at the market cycle extremes–the highest and lowest points–many Speculators and Skeptics become Suckers.  Also, there are hybrid forms (e.g. Speculative Suckers, Skeptical Speculators, Perma-Suckers, and so on).

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