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Opus News & Insights

Don't "Yada Yada" Foreign Stocks
Thursday, March 19, 2015

George CostanzaFor those not familiar with him, George Costanza was the unlovable loser from the iconic ‘90s sitcom “Seinfeld”. Boorish, callow, and a notoriously bad tipper, he seems an unlikely source of investment advice.

However, in a rare moment of self-reflection, he tells his friends “every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong…every instinct I have in every aspect of life…it’s all been wrong.”

In an effort to change his fortunes, he devises a simple strategy – do the complete opposite of what his instincts say.

It begins simply enough, with an order of “chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, with a side of potato salad, and a cup of tea”; it ends with a date, an apartment, and a job with the New York Yankees.

Holy Cow! The Yankees Win!

Many investors suffer from the same malady as George – their instincts are almost always wrong. Whether tulip bulbs in the 1600s or internet stocks in the late 1990s, all too often investors extrapolate current trends far into the future, bidding prices higher and higher. The reasons for this behavior reside in the recesses of our brains, which are hard-wired from an evolutionary perspective to seek rewards and avoid perceived risks, as well as fixate almost exclusively on recent events.

Fortunately, this wiring helped our ancestors survive, and eventually thrive, in a prehistoric world where quick reflexes literally made the difference between finding a meal and being a meal. Unfortunately, in the realm of investing, instinct leads us to sub-optimal investment decisions if left unchecked...

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