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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

The three most important words in investing

By Morgan Housel






JewishWorldReview.com | You've all heard stories about professional investors underperforming index funds, but economists Ron Alquist, Lutz Kilian and Robert Vigfusson took this humiliation to the next level. The trio showed that forecasts of the price of oil one year out made by the Energy Information Agency and survey firm Consensus Economics were no more accurate than just assuming whatever oil's price is today is what it will be next year. Literally, not having any forecast was as accurate as a professional forecast.

What is true for oil is undoubtedly true for economic growth, corporate earnings and industry trends. Most of us can't stand the thought of it, but anyone honestly looking at the evidence knows we are spectacularly awful at predicting the future.

This might seem disturbing to investors. How do you invest in the future while holding a nearly fatalist view that we can't predict the future?

Luckily, the world's smartest investment minds came up with an answer, and it might contain the three most important words in investing. It's called the "margin of safety."

Margin of safety is simply the distance between your predictions coming true and your need for those predictions to come true. You can still try to predict the future, but a margin of safety gives you room to be wrong.

Benjamin Graham summed it up when he said, "The purpose of the margin of safety is to render the forecast unnecessary."

You don't want to buy a stock you think could grow earnings at 10 percent a year but needs to in order to make it a good investment. You want to buy the stock that could grow earnings at 10 percent a year but would still make a decent investment if it only grows earnings by 5 percent, or 2 percent, with anything beyond that being cream cheese.



Take this example from Warren Buffett biographer Alice Schroeder. Schroeder describes how Buffett analyzed a stock he purchased in the 1960s in a company called Data Documents. Rather than forecasting what the company might earn in the future, Buffett looked at the company's current figures and asked if he could get a good return even if they deteriorated. "There was a big margin of safety built into these numbers," Schroeder says. The company "had a 36-percent profit margin. (Buffett) said, 'I'll take half that.'"

In the end, Data Documents did fantastic and Buffett made a fortune, but that's not what's important. What made the company a great investment is that it didn't need to do fantastic for Buffett to still have done all right. Heads he won, tails he did OK.

The whole concept of margin of safety is possible because there's a difference between the price of a stock and the value of a company. It pops up when you don't have to pay a high price for the possibility of good news, or when possible bad news is already priced in. This is what Graham meant when he wrote: "The margin of safety is always dependent on the price paid. It will be large at one price, small at some higher price, nonexistent at some still higher price."


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Think about the S&P 500 two years ago. Analysts fought back and forth trying to guess how much corporate profits would grow. Some said earnings would grow a lot, others said a little, others predicted a small drop. But from an investing standpoint, it almost didn't matter. The index traded at less than 12 times earnings. At that level, stocks could have been a decent investment even if earnings hadn't grown at all. You didn't need good news to pan out. There was a margin of safety.

This goes beyond stock-picking. Those who save the exact amount of money they think they'll need to retire are one bear market, hospital visit or divorce away from trouble. Those who think they have ultimate job security, or don't need to save because they have an inheritance coming, or think they can handle a lot of debt because a Christmas bonus awaits will eventually learn that the Yiddish quote, "You plan, G0D laughs," can be painfully true.

You're going to be wrong a lot. It's part of investing, and it's part of life. Insisting on having a wide gap between what you think will happen and what could happen if you're wrong is the only way to hedge against it.

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Comment by clicking here.

Morgan Housel, a columnist at The Motley Fool, is a two-time winner, Best in Business award, Society of American Business Editors and Writers and Best in Business 2012, Columbia Journalism Review.


Previously:


Monkeys and investing

Two types of risk, two types of bubbles

The secret to financial success: Use ignorance to your advantage

How to effectively fight investors' greatest enemy

Four mistakes that make everyone a bad investor

Learning from the past, and the Next Big Tren

What newspapers were saying when you should have been buying

Why you never learn from your investment mistakes

The curse of success, and why most mutual funds fail miserably

If you know only five things about investing, make it these

Why spotting bubbles is so much harder than you think

When smart investors do stupid things

The deep downside of home ownership

The biggest retirement myth ever told

He's rich, smart and old: Listen to him

Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on

Gold collapse: The start of something big?

BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!

Twitter: The carnival barker of investing

Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets

25 important things to remember as an investor

New paradigm for both drivers and car companies

Biases that make you a bad investor

Nine financial rules you should never forget

Gaining from financial destruction

How to read financial news

Housing: Partying like it's 1925

A rebuttal to student loan horror stories

CONGRATULATIONS: We just saved half a trillion dollars

End this crazy tax: It will boost the economy

Medicare: A dangerously good deal

Economic future looks bright

The Biggest Threat to Your Portfolio (It's Not What You Think)

Bond Market Bull Run dead at 30



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