Monday, January 19, 2015

Mug's Games - This week's Coffee Break from Jim Parker

At the start of a New Year, the media is full of forecasts about the likely path of the economy and markets for the coming 12 months.

Most of these 'investment outlooks' are marketing exercises. The actual outcome of the forecasts doesn’t matter since few people recall them anyway. This week, Coffee Break looks at why so many market forecasts go awry.

Forecasts to Ignore
The famed US economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said that the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. Yet people keep on trying. In this article, Barry Ritholtz revisits some of the (now) embarrassing forecasts made this time a year ago.

Spotting Bad Forecasters
One characteristic of a bad forecaster is to make excuses when they are wrong. 'Oh, if the RBA had raised rates, I would have been right.' Another classic: 'It didn’t happen this year, but it will happen.' This writer argues that forecasters go wrong in assuming they control what they don’t.

Weasel Words
Media insiders will tell you that market pundits save their blushes when their forecasts prove to be wrong by using 'weasel words'—slippery phrases that provide an easy out. In this article, the writer lists 14 meaningless phrases that can make you sound like a market guru with actually saying much.

Jim Parker is a VP at DFA Australia Limited

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jim Parker's Coffee Break - Keeping Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions, particularly when it comes to our finances, is easy. Keeping them is something else entirely.

This week’s Coffee Break provides links to helpful articles that show how you can increase your chances of success in keeping to a plan.

The Theory of Sunk Costs

Most people are reluctant to walk out on a bad movie. They may hate the film, but they subconsciously figure that having spent the money on the ticket, they need to sit it out. While this tendency to honour sunk costs can seem illogical, it can also help us keep New Year’s resolutions. More >

Beware the Loophole

So you’ve committed to the resolution and built a plan that makes it hard for you to change course. That’s good. But humans still have an amazing capacity to create loopholes. This article lists 10 common ones. Just being aware of the excuses may make it easier for you to resist them. More >

Why are Resolutions Hard to Follow?

When straying from a commitment, people will often say they lacked the willpower. The truth is the strength of our will is only part of the challenge. Often overlooked in keeping resolutions are the external factors that control our behaviour. This article highlights six steps to take back control. More >

Jim Parker

DFA Australia Limited