Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turning forecasts into mush

Policy changes can turn all forecasts and statements about the future into mush.

They can ruin valuations, change the way assets are allocated, and reduce investment in needed areas while encouraging investments in the wrong areas. Those in charge of policy have to forecast the future. But they cannot know. They are experimenting, that is all.

As investors, we cannot predict policy changes or their impact. Instead, we have to invest in the right companies for the long term and hope that they'll adapt.

Philip Morris (now Altria and Philip Morris International, I believe) has been a good investment for many in spite of policy changes that have sharply curtailed its expected growth -- though, admittedly, this was a policy change that made sense and probably had to be done.

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