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If there's one single, indispensable key to successful investing, it's to go with the flow.
That's my distillation of well-worn market mantras that you're probably familiar with.
The trend is your friend;
Don't fight the tape;
Trade the market you are given, not the one you want;
And don't fight the Fed.
Go with the flow.
You can do all the homework and analysis you want - and be right - and yet still lose money. That happens when you own stocks you love, but the market isn't loving any stocks. It can happen when you try to pick bottoms, and you get in before the market heads a lot lower.
And while you won't lose any money by not being in the market, you're not going to make any money in it either.
That brings us to today. We've had a furious up-move in the market since March 2009. We're scratching at new all-time highs, and global markets are dancing to the same tune.
But the world hasn't changed since last May - or the May before, when markets swooned on fears about Europe, America's fiscal fiasco, a slowing China, or any of the other dark clouds that, at any time, can rain on the markets.
So, are we going higher? Are we going to get a wicked correction? Is the sun rising or setting?
We don't know if the market is going higher from here or if it's headed down. But, we do know that the sun rises and the sun sets... every day.
That's why, even if you could distill all of the unknowns that you don't know into a plan of action, the only sensible plan is to not guess, but simply to go with the flow.
Going with the flow means following the trend - and not fighting the tape or the Fed. But it's not just a different way of saying those things.
For me, it's about looking underneath what's being talked about. It's looking at investor psychology by looking at the flow of capital into or out of the market.
I go with the flow of capital. I don't complicate my money-making endeavors in the market by overanalyzing or hoping. The most important thing for me is simply being on the right side of which direction capital is flowing.
Capital has been flowing into the market. It doesn't matter that a lot of that flow is coming from the Fed's stimulus efforts, it's still capital flowing in. Don't complicate things.
If capital starts flowing out of the market, I'm not going to fight that trend - once I recognize that it's the force of the prevailing psychology. I'll go with the flow.
And you should, too. Don't sit on the sidelines if there's a party going on. Join it.
That's what's happening now. That's what has been happening.
Don't worry about what you don't know. Just have an exit plan in place. It's as simple as having stops - and raising them as your positions become more profitable.
So what if you get stopped out - especially with a profit - and the party gets going again. Get back in, even if that means higher prices than where you got out. Simply tighten up your new stops by placing them just below where the latest good support level is.
And, because it's widely available, always have downside protection in place. It's easy enough with ETFs that offer inverse positioning and with instruments like VXX.
I look at the market like the old lotto saying, "You've got to be in it to win it."
Up or down, it doesn't matter to me... as long as I go with the flow.
[Editor's Note: Shah Gilani has been "inside" the market for more than 30 years as a Wall Street broker/dealer, a hedge fund manager, a currency manager, and a bond trader. As Shah explains, you can buy a stock and wait. Or you can bank on a transaction and stand to get paid. That's what Wall Street's dealmakers do. In this brief video Shah reveals six white-hot deal opportunities you need to know about now. This won't be around long. Go here now.]
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About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.