Don't Get Trapped

1) Anchoring trap. The mind gives a disproportionate amount of weight to the first information received on a topic. Keeping an open mind and avoiding premature conclusions is a way to avoid this trap.

2) Status quo trap. Forecasts tend to perpetuate recent observations. If inflation has been high, it is expected to remain high. It is a psychological risk to assume something different. The authors suggest rational analysis within decision-making to avoid falling into this trap.

3) Confirming evidence trap. Individuals give greater weight to information that supports an existing point of view. Being honest to oneself about one’s motives, examining all evidence with equal rigor, and enlisting independent-minded people to argue against you are ways of mitigating this bias.

4) Overconfidence trap. Individuals overestimate the accuracy of their forecasts. Widening the range of expected possible outcomes is one way to mitigate this tendency.

5) Prudence trap. There is a tendency to temper forecasts that appear extreme. If a forecast turns out to be extreme and then wrong, it could be damaging to one’s career. Therefore, sticking to the herd is safer. The authors again suggest widening the range of expected possible forecasts to avoid falling into this trap.

6) Recallability trap. Individuals are overly influenced by events that have left a strong impression on a person’s memory. These events tend to be catastrophic or dramatic. To avoid falling into this trap, individuals should ground their conclusions in objective data rather than emotion or memories.

Four Keys to Understanding Uncertainty

1) Uncertainty is always subjective. It is a state of mind that is derived from a mix of objective data, emotions and personal experience. To say that the market is always equally uncertain is to say that mood is always the same. It is not. It constantly changes.

If the perceived uncertainty is always the same, earnings reports would not have such huge impact on prices. We all know that this is not the case. In many cases, earnings reports provide new data that changes market expectations and therefore prices. Options premium is higher before earnings exactly because uncertainty is higher.

2) Uncertainty has become a synonym for bad mood in our everyday life.

The future is always uncertain, but our perceptions of the future vary. And perceptions define actions. Actions (supply and demand) define prices. Somehow uncertainty is used with a highly negative connotation in our everyday life. It is a game of words. Just like the weather people always say that there is a 30% chance of rain and never that there is 70% chance of sun.

3) Uncertainty is basically another word for market sentiment. High levels of perceived uncertainty (bad mood) and high levels of perceived certainty (good mood) have historically been good contrarian indicators, IF your investing horizon is long enough.

4) There are different types of uncertainty.

There is an economic uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to a decline in economic activity. Less people are hired. Old machines and software licences are used longer. Investments are cut. This is what it has been happening in Europe for 2 years.

Uncertainty

1) Uncertainty is always subjective. It is a state of mind that is derived from a mix of objective data, emotions and personal experience. To say that the market is always equally uncertain is to say that mood is always the same. It is not. It constantly changes.

If the perceived uncertainty is always the same, earnings reports would not have such huge impact on prices. We all know that this is not the case. In many cases, earnings reports provide new data that changes market expectations and therefore prices. Options premium is higher before earnings exactly because uncertainty is higher.

2) Uncertainty has become a synonym for bad mood in our everyday life.

The future is always uncertain, but our perceptions of the future vary. And perceptions define actions. Actions (supply and demand) define prices. Somehow uncertainty is used with a highly negative connotation in our everyday life. It is a game of words. Just like the weather people always say that there is a 30% chance of rain and never that there is 70% chance of sun.

3) Uncertainty is basically another word for market sentiment. High levels of perceived uncertainty (bad mood) and high levels of perceived certainty (good mood) have historically been good contrarian indicators, IF your investing horizon is long enough.

4) There are different types of uncertainty.

There is an economic uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to a decline in economic activity. Less people are hired. Old machines and software licences are used longer. Investments are cut. This is what it has been happening in Europe for 2 years.

There is market uncertainty that impacts volatility. When correlation is close to 1.0 (another way to say that stocks move together disregarding of their individual characteristics), uncertainty is perceived as high. It leads to choppy environment that market timers prefer to sit out in order to preserve monetary and mental capital. Perceptions define reality.

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