I'm Not Buying

By Daniel Akst

Everybody knows that the investment decisions of the average doofus like me are a reliable contrarian indicator, so start shopping for stocks, because the point of this particular post is, as the headline has it, that I'm not buyin'. I say this from the cool penumbra of my last big investment decision, which was to sell every goddamned thing we had, short of the kids and the cats, last spring. It's silly to expect that i'll get so lucky a second time, so I ought to just resume the usual pious agnosticism about not being able to time markets, indexing, etc.

Nonetheless, I'm not buying. I can't figure out what's going on, I don't understand how all these banks could be simultaneously so broke and so profitable, I'm not impressed that the *rate* of deterioration has slowed (I was absent the day they did second-order derivatives in school) and anyway a hard-core unemployable like your correspondent has no business taking on much risk. TIPS and hi-grade corporates and CDs have been very very good to me. I'm especially flummoxed by the REIT run-up. I always liked REITs but commercial real estate looks ugly. Insiders, i might add, are selling with both hands in a variety of sectors.

As I said, make up a shopping list. People like me point reliably in the wrong direction.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/05/im-not-buying/17116/