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Old 11-18-2008, 02:45 PM   #41
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In any economic climate.... there is money to be made... and money to be lost. What separates winners from loosers? Usually a fairly simple thing called forethought. Things like planning, delayed gratification, education, and many other things flow from that. I am under no illusion that I will not be getting "rich quick". So that means I need to make plans now. How can I gain in a down market? What things can I do now to plan for future occurances. Obviously the market is tremendously down right now. I look at history as my guide... and why is that? Because technology changes.... but by and large people do not. The stock market has since it's beginning shown ups and down in a cyclical fashion. I laugh at all of those who say.... "but this time is different!!!" Most of those people believe that this time or place is unique in history... it might be more severe than normal... but not really any different. That means to me that now is a perfect time to get back into the market. Because I am VERY confident that within the next 20+ years my returns will not just be average.... but GREAT because of it. And I say to all of the naysayers a very wise thing a forum member said to me a while back... (sorry I do not remember who it was). If someone like myself who is prudent... living well within my means, plans for the future, saves in a 401k and a ROTH IRA, etc, and does this for the next 20+ years cannot succeed... then the rest of the world is complely doomed anyway. And in that case money will be the least of my concerns, and food and ammo will top the list. And you know what... even in that eventuality (as far fetched as it is), I will still probably succeed... because I will still employ the same ideas of forethought and planning that I do today, and those traits help you in almost any situation.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:05 PM   #42
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Over the past few weeks, I've died a thousand deaths, each one being a trip to my own personal hell and back. My portfolio is now about half as light, but the good news is that I'm finally diversified and down to about 50% equities and commodities which is where I should have been in the first damn place!

Anyhow, I've been staring for a few days at Professor Schiller's (Yale economist) historical stock market database. After plotting the SP500 since the 19th century, there's one constant, and that is regression to the mean trend line. The good news is that we are now more or less regressed to the mean after a nearly 50% loss from its peak last year. The bad news is that we were so greatly over the mean, that this crash only gets us to the mean, not below it. In other words, we're only about fairly valued now. This is also validated by Prof. Schiller's favorite valuation indicator, PE10, which is the PE of the SP500 with the "E" being the average earnings over the past decade. We are actually now finally a little below the PE10 long-term trend line. The last time this happened was nearly two decades ago!

Now being fairly valued after a long period of over-valuation may strike some as good news but hold your enthusiasm. The problem is that we humans never do things in moderation. Looking at the chart and its data, just about every time there's been an abrupt regression to the fair value from way above average levels, investors always oversell causing a major sustained undershoot below the trend line. If I look at the 90th percentile of the negative deviations, it would take approximately another over 50% decline for us to get there. To get to the historically worst case negative deviation from the mean, it would take a whopping 70% decline from today's price. This recent market drop is clearly different from the post 9/11 crash and the Asian crisis of the last decade. Those got us nowhere near back to the mean like this one has. They were not regressions to the mean.

This one is different.

Sorry, but that's what the data say. And that's not all of it. Unfortunately, most of these undershoots take anywhere from a minimum of a little under a decade to over two decades to regress back up to the mean. I've never been a market timer, but I have no qualms now about adjusting my portfolio mix in a more dynamic fashion according to longer-term market trends. By "adjusting", I do mean more than just the classical rebalancing routine, but I don't mean day-trading or all-in/all-out market switching strategies which are all fool's errands IMHO.

I know I've been accused of suddenly showing up here and being a chicken little, but I hope you all are open-minded enough to listen. I have some "street cred" in that I've been FIREd since my early 40's, and have always religiously subscribed to the "buy-hold-rebalance" philosophy and the 3-4% HSWR approach. At this point however, I know that I cannot/will not wait for 1-3 decades just to get back to the average trend line. If history is a teacher, that may very well be what we're facing here. Even if we get a short-lived rally into next year as all that "bailout" cash gets moved from coffer to coffer, we are facing a perfect storm with the after-effects of this crisis, and the age demographics crisis which is starting in earnest in '09 and '10. We boomers are quickly moving past our peak consumption phase, and with two thirds of the economy relying on the consumer, well you can guess what will happen.

If there's any silver lining here at all, if this scenario plays itself out - and of course, I would love nothing more than to be dead wrong - those with the cash will have the buying opportunities of a lifetime in equities, real estate, etc. Also, those of us with teenagers, or young adult children, will also be glad to see them enjoy reasonable property prices and costs of living again, after a major deflationary cycle, assuming of course they can get and keep jobs.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:14 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by big galloot View Post
... At this point however, I know that I cannot/will not wait for 1-3 decades just to get back to the average trend line...
If you can't/won't wait, what are your plans?
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:17 PM   #44
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Not jumping off a bridge!

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
If you can't/won't wait, what are your plans?
I realized that may have come off like I'm ending it all, unable to wait anymore, but that's not what I meant.

I have no pretense of being able to call any sort of a bottom or top, so barring that type of omniscience, I intend to closely monitor market trends (e.g. 1-4 mo. moving averages), peaks and valleys, all relative to the mean trend line, and systematically trim my exposure on the way down, while increasing it on the way up. Again, this is NOT market timing. Instead, I'm letting the trend dictate what I do. I back-tested this somewhat using the Schiller data and it seems to work reasonably well at preserving principal during sustained downward periods, and increasing equity exposure during sustained upswings. In no way, shape or form does this get you all-in or all-out at absolute tops and bottoms, nor is it any good at all for daily/weekly volatility trading. It only works for detecting secular trends and reacting with relatively small adjustments at a time.

Had this been in place last year, for example, I would have started reducing equity exposures right at the start of this year, while the SP500 was still above 1,300, after detecting the sustained downward trend signal that started late last year. This would have continued throughout the year, and by now, I would probably be under 50% equities, but having sold at an average much (and I mean much) higher than what I actually "panic" (I didn't really panic but it was a tough period) sold at without this system.

Think of it as a graded, progressive/regressive, stop-loss, cost-averaging strategy (long-winded name I know). I'm not talking major single all-in/out style moves, but more like retargeting a few % points each trigger. However, in a period during which a trend is sustained, the small steps can accumulate and result in major changes to equity exposure over the period. The magnitude of the step-ups, or step-downs, are related to the distance from the trend line, because history shows that risks correlate to how far the market deviates from the mean.

This is what I meant by "cannot/ will not wait". I meant having a system and acting in a disciplined fashion, to mitigate, but certainly not eliminate, my risks. I aim to preserve what I have left after this year's destruction with the utmost of tender loving care. "Shoulda, woulda, coulda" will become "must, can, will". If there is a bailout-induced rally, this will allow me to enjoy a good part of it, before what I fear may be a truly sustained secular downslide.

The past year was very humbling for me, but the good thing that came out of it is that it focussed my mind like never before. Like I said, I dropped everything and spent days/weeks staring and playing with data, and I've really learned my lesson. To my mind, it's foolish to be married to an investing and SWR paradigm when the whole world has obviously changed. Again, 10, 20, 30 years of watching my hard-earned nest egg decay just won't work for this retiree. If you're young or this works for you, then you shouldn't even be reading this.

I do hope I'm wrong, but objectively speaking, this one sure seems to be "different" from all the run-of-the-mill recessions I've experienced in my lifetime. Yes, they all felt apocalyptically bad at the time, but this one... this one... feels, smells and looks like the mother of all those.

Sorry about the long-winded posts. Tough days for me. Thanks for reading if you still are.
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:51 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big galloot View Post
Anyhow, I've been staring for a few days at Professor Schiller's (Yale economist) historical stock market database. After plotting the SP500 since the 19th century, there's one constant, and that is regression to the mean trend line. The good news is that we are now more or less regressed to the mean after a nearly 50% loss from its peak last year. The bad news is that we were so greatly over the mean, that this crash only gets us to the mean, not below it. In other words, we're only about fairly valued now. This is also validated by Prof. Schiller's favorite valuation indicator, PE10, which is the PE of the SP500 with the "E" being the average earnings over the past decade. We are actually now finally a little below the PE10 long-term trend line. The last time this happened was nearly two decades ago!

Now being fairly valued after a long period of over-valuation may strike some as good news but hold your enthusiasm. The problem is that we humans never do things in moderation. Looking at the chart and its data, just about every time there's been an abrupt regression to the fair value from way above average levels, investors always oversell causing a major sustained undershoot below the trend line. If I look at the 90th percentile of the negative deviations, it would take approximately another over 50% decline for us to get there. To get to the historically worst case negative deviation from the mean, it would take a whopping 70% decline from today's price. This recent market drop is clearly different from the post 9/11 crash and the Asian crisis of the last decade. Those got us nowhere near back to the mean like this one has. They were not regressions to the mean.

This one is different.

Sorry, but that's what the data say. And that's not all of it. Unfortunately, most of these undershoots take anywhere from a minimum of a little under a decade to over two decades to regress back up to the mean. I've never been a market timer, but I have no qualms now about adjusting my portfolio mix in a more dynamic fashion according to longer-term market trends. By "adjusting", I do mean more than just the classical rebalancing routine, but I don't mean day-trading or all-in/all-out market switching strategies which are all fool's errands IMHO.

I know I've been accused of suddenly showing up here and being a chicken little, but I hope you all are open-minded enough to listen. I have some "street cred" in that I've been FIREd since my early 40's, and have always religiously subscribed to the "buy-hold-rebalance" philosophy and the 3-4% HSWR approach. At this point however, I know that I cannot/will not wait for 1-3 decades just to get back to the average trend line. If history is a teacher, that may very well be what we're facing here. Even if we get a short-lived rally into next year as all that "bailout" cash gets moved from coffer to coffer, we are facing a perfect storm with the after-effects of this crisis, and the age demographics crisis which is starting in earnest in '09 and '10. We boomers are quickly moving past our peak consumption phase, and with two thirds of the economy relying on the consumer, well you can guess what will happen.

If there's any silver lining here at all, if this scenario plays itself out - and of course, I would love nothing more than to be dead wrong - those with the cash will have the buying opportunities of a lifetime in equities, real estate, etc. Also, those of us with teenagers, or young adult children, will also be glad to see them enjoy reasonable property prices and costs of living again, after a major deflationary cycle, assuming of course they can get and keep jobs.
Big Galloot, scary stuff that you are posting! I copied some of it and asked my stock broker/"financial advisor" what he thought. here is his reply:

The trend line he refers to in his comments needs further investigation. Trends in the country have changed dramatically in recent decades. There has been a lot more growth in this country than that of the early 1900s. I wonder if the trend line is skewed to the downside by using the slow growth period of time in our country and mixing it with the relative short term, high growth numbers of recent decades.
In any respect, I have a hard time believing it is going to get that bad. I suspect we will have some more testing of the downside, but nothing of that size. I could be wrong, but the economic numbers, albeit bad, are not giving us signals that the 2nd Great Depression is upon us. If we have a correction from here of another 70%, then you can expect food lines.
I tend to take a more moderate view of what is going to take place next. Volatility has calmed down quite a bit. We had record amounts of cash in this country prior to this correction. Buyers are seeming to show up at 8000. Valuations get to exagerated low levels and bargain hunting seemingly begun. Large amounts of capital is being infused all around the world. Money is cheap and getting cheaper. Technology, Energy, Innovations and many other industries can spark better growth going forward and they will have the money and support to move forward.
There is no doubt there will be some employment issues in this country moving forward. The amplified discussions coming from the UAW on the recent bailout request make everyone believe that if they do not get the bailout that 4-5Million jobs will be lost simultaneously. That is not fact. Bankruptcy protection is not a point where you turn off the lights and send everyone home. The UAW uses these fear tactics to get the money so they can keep their contracts.
One last point, how much does the rest of the world need the United States to succeed?
If there is a correction of that magnitude, what would happen to the rest of the world?
Do these types of discussions seem doomsday like?
When something is too good to be true, it usually is.
When something is too bad to be true, it usually is.
--------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not sure he really addressed the exact topic. But can anyone give any input as to whether they disagree/agree with him?
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Old 11-19-2008, 12:02 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
When something is too good to be true, it usually is.
When something is too bad to be true, it usually is.
Yep. Things are rarely as good as we hope or as bad as we fear.

I hope BG gets a commission on each gallon of black paint he sells...
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Old 11-19-2008, 12:15 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by big galloot View Post
I do hope I'm wrong, but objectively speaking, this one sure seems to be "different" from all the run-of-the-mill recessions I've experienced in my lifetime. Yes, they all felt apocalyptically bad at the time, but this one... this one... feels, smells and looks like the mother of all those.

Sorry about the long-winded posts. Tough days for me. Thanks for reading if you still are.
They are all different. And I read the Shiller data just as you do. But there are many ways to approach valuation, and by some of these ways values look perhaps not rock bottom, but nevertheless pretty good. Why should they be rock bottom with risk-free interest rates evidently headed to 0?

I see your showing up here with a well reasoned but one-sided read on valuation as just another sign of the bottoming process. There are always many ways to see anything; and the way that one chooses often means more than the argument advanced.

The other thing is that it is a market of stocks, not a stock market. Some things may still be quite overpriced. But many are priced such that we will be kicking ourselves for a long time if we do not act.

Ha
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:50 PM   #48
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The other thing is that it is a market of stocks, not a stock market. Some things may still be quite overpriced. But many are priced such that we will be kicking ourselves for a long time if we do not act.

Ha
Indeed, I agree. Can you tell us which are which?
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:52 PM   #49
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In searching for articles online to help me stay in the market and not capitulate, I found this article by Peter Lynch:

Perspective: Stock Market has worst week in History – where do we go from here? | Solar Feeds

Of course it's over a month old, but still a little reassuring, especially coming from Mr. Lynch (who made a lot of money for me back in the day, with Magellan). Seems like people were saying the same gloom and doom things even twenty and thirty years ago. So this guy knows what he's talking about (even though I don't think he is active in the investment world anymore), right? Right?
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:53 PM   #50
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Well I have been early retired for 2 1/2 weeks now, here is my simplistic view.
I remember while in Korea 1971 over 400 yen to the dollar,now about 98.
Tomato soup 10 about Cents a can, gas .31/gal 1972.
When first married in 1974 both cars were paid for, both of us made about 10K a year,was able to save about 10K year. Bought first house in 1976 40K brand new.
1979 3 kids later, sold house, bought another new one for 69K making about 15K
a year wife not working at the time. I am still in this house. Yes wife survived 3 kids
that fast.
My take.
Housing prices are now way too high, even with two average salaries it is difficult for a young married couple to afford to buy a house. This coupled with infaltion of realestate taxes,energy,food,insurance cars and anything else you car to add in,seems to me has outpaced wages, even for two people.
As for the economy in general I can watch my sons landscaping business slow
down this year, gone are the 30K-40K patios he was installing. I have told him
to hoard cash, I dread trying to pay his mortgage with my retirement savings next
year.
My wife is in realestate, sells new construction and of course re-sales.
Just two years back she was making 100K, now for the past year ZERO.
Bottom line, what did this.
We have lost our manufactuing base, we manufacture practically nothing.
70% of economy is service, money just going around in circles.
Too many bean counters running corporate america.
By the way the bean counters are what got me early retired, our old line
1865 company was bought out by an investiment group. I wish them good
luck with the Global Matrix.
Early retired chemist.
Old Mike
PS: Happy to be retired.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:33 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
Big Galloot, scary stuff that you are posting! I copied some of it and asked my stock broker/"financial advisor" what he thought. here is his reply:

The trend line he refers to in his comments needs further investigation. Trends in the country have changed dramatically in recent decades. There has been a lot more growth in this country than that of the early 1900s. I wonder if the trend line is skewed to the downside by using the slow growth period of time in our country and mixing it with the relative short term, high growth numbers of recent decades.


In any respect, I have a hard time believing it is going to get that bad. I suspect we will have some more testing of the downside, but nothing of that size. I could be wrong, but the economic numbers, albeit bad, are not giving us signals that the 2nd Great Depression is upon us. If we have a correction from here of another 70%, then you can expect food lines.



I tend to take a more moderate view of what is going to take place next. Volatility has calmed down quite a bit. We had record amounts of cash in this country prior to this correction. Buyers are seeming to show up at 8000. Valuations get to exagerated low levels and bargain hunting seemingly begun. Large amounts of capital is being infused all around the world. Money is cheap and getting cheaper. Technology, Energy, Innovations and many other industries can spark better growth going forward and they will have the money and support to move forward.



There is no doubt there will be some employment issues in this country moving forward. The amplified discussions coming from the UAW on the recent bailout request make everyone believe that if they do not get the bailout that 4-5Million jobs will be lost simultaneously. That is not fact. Bankruptcy protection is not a point where you turn off the lights and send everyone home. The UAW uses these fear tactics to get the money so they can keep their contracts.



One last point, how much does the rest of the world need the United States to succeed?


If there is a correction of that magnitude, what would happen to the rest of the world?


Do these types of discussions seem doomsday like?



When something is too good to be true, it usually is.


When something is too bad to be true, it usually is.

--------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not sure he really addressed the exact topic. But can anyone give any input as to whether they disagree/agree with him?
Thanks a bunch for doing this. I'm impressed and grateful! Your advisor's response is basically irrefutable.

And therein lies the problem...

Unfortunately, he suffers from a chronic case of "silver-lining-itis," otherwise known as incurable "cup-half-full" syndrome. It's very common with financial advisors, which is why I avoid them like the plague. It's highly contagious!

If he were a "tough love" advisor, he would show you the attached chart, which is the log of SP500 "real prices" since the late 19th century, and tell you, in no uncertain terms that after partying heartily for a decade-and-a-half above the trend line, we have abruptly and violently regressed to the mean, and that historically, such abrupt regressions tend to grossly undershoot and stay down below for periods ranging from six years to 2.5 decades. Then, if he were really useful, he would advise you to adjust your equity targets according to your age, portfolio headroom, and other factors, and to generate enough cash and "safe" assets to keep you and yours fed, clothed and housed for quite some time, even if it means returning to work (while/if you still can).

All this is is a historical analysis (just like Firecalc). My observations are my observations, but they are based on irrefutable data and events that really truly happened. I make no claims regarding the future, or of calling bottoms or tops. I just stare at data and tell people what I see. I actually prefer that you take it with a grain of salt. I hate being taken seriously.

Your advisor is right though: the glass is indeed half full. What he's not telling you is that is was nearly full just a few short months ago, and the water level is dropping fast even as I write this. I can lie, your advisor can lie, but the data don't lie.

Yes, you can do what your advisor suggested and massage the data and the trend line until you get answers you wanted to hear. Unfortunately, just stare at the chart for a while and you can see that no matter how you massage it, it won't change the historical realities all that much, maybe just make them slightly less terrifying.




You don't have to be a statistician to make the following factual historical observations from this chart. (Even my most non-mathematical wife got it!):
  1. We just came down from a historically high deviation from the mean (by "mean" I am referring to the trend line), which occured in August of 2000. We have very recently (today again believe it or not!) finally regressed to the mean.
  2. The last time we were at the mean was about mid-1994. We've been above the trend line for nearly a decade-and-a-half! Yay!?
  3. The other often-cited recent crises (Asian meltdown, post 9/11) did NOT regress us back to the mean. As bad as they were, they didn't even come all that close.
  4. The last stage of this recent regression to the mean, starting last November, was extremely abrupt. In fact, the slope looks historically unprecedented to me - like skiing down a black diamond run.
  5. Nearly every abrupt regression to the mean that originated from historical peaks has resulted in severe undershooting relative to the mean. It's called gravity, momentum, inertia, etc. The only exception was in 1907 when we bounced right off the trend line like a Superball (remember those?) (If the market recovers after forming a bottom here, it would be historically unlikely..., possible, but unlikely. We humans rarely do things in moderation.)
  6. The worst-case undershoot happened in June of 1932. If we fall by the same magnitude of negative deviation today, it would result in another approximately 65% drop from today's SP500 price. WARNING: this is not my opinion or forecast; it is simply a historical fact. It happened. Infer what you will from it.
  7. To get to the 90th percentile of all historical negative deviations from the trend line, would require another 49% drop from today's price.
  8. To get to the median would require another 33% drop from today's price.
  9. Historically, the amount of time spent below the trend line, after precipitous falls to the mean, ranged from about 6 years to nearly two decades. If you exclude one brief respite to the mean during the Great Depression, it took a worst-case of 25 years to regress to the mean and stay above it.
So, the big question is: Do you believe that we will nearly defy history and magically bounce right off the mean, just like 1907? (Actually, I think we just broke down through the mean as I write this!)

My own personal answer - and everyone has to answer this in light of their own personal factors - is I DON'T FRIKIN' KNOW, only I don't mean "frikin'", I mean the real f-word, and I'm not a cusser!

So, what to do, what to do?? :confused:

Read my post above for what I'm doing in response to this same question posed by REWahoo. It's basically a "don't-frikin'-know-but-the-trend-is-your-friend" system which exploits the relative distance from the trend line and the established direction of the trend to retarget equity exposure in relatively small, graded steps. I feel that such an approach is prudent (again, for my situation, maybe not yours). I'm well beyond the greedy stage, just wanting to generally increase my odds of preserving capital in the event of more water being drained from the glass, while increasing equity exposure in the more unlikely event of the glass getting fuller from here.

This is not market-top/bottom-timing, nor is it an all-in/all-out "switching" system, both of which I absolutely abhor. Backtesting it, it would have reduced my equity exposures by at least half while the SP was still above 1300. Of course, it didn't call the absolute top, but that's not what I'm aiming for.

I'm not looking for converts here. Writing this down is therapy for me, and if someone reads it and it helps if they're in the same boat, then it's a nice bonus. In my experience, when it comes to investing, religion and politics, most folks have their heels dug in pretty deep and quickly become immovable objects. One of the tenets of the FIRE faith is steadfast buy-hold-rebalance, so anyone interrupting the conversation with a different approach is a heretic, who is probably going to get stoned (in the Judeo-Christian tradition that is, not the Bob Dylanesqe way!)
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Old 11-19-2008, 08:49 PM   #52
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Well, I hope someone is getting value from your posts. For me, anything over 3 inches of print is past my limited attention span.
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Old 11-19-2008, 09:44 PM   #53
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Well, I hope someone is getting value from your posts. For me, anything over 3 inches of print is past my limited attention span.
That type of poster behavior tends to have a short lifespan around here...
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:10 PM   #54
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Well, I hope someone is getting value from your posts. For me, anything over 3 inches of print is past my limited attention span.
LOL, same here. Just because someone can fill up my entire screen with data, doesn't mean they are correct.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:31 PM   #55
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If it fills up the "reply" box area it's probably too long....
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:39 PM   #56
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If it fills up the "reply" box area it's probably too long....
Sooorrreee! I thought the topic was The Economy which I assumed would be of great interest on an Early Retirement forum. Couldn't think of a witty soundbite for discussing regression to the mean.

My bad...
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Old 11-19-2008, 11:57 PM   #57
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Sooorrreee! I thought the topic was The Economy which I assumed would be of great interest on an Early Retirement forum. Couldn't think of a witty soundbite for discussing regression to the mean.

My bad...
I think most people here understand and accept regression to the mean; just not necessarily your interpretation of that concept.

Ha
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:11 AM   #58
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Sooorrreee! I thought the topic was The Economy which I assumed would be of great interest on an Early Retirement forum. Couldn't think of a witty soundbite for discussing regression to the mean.

My bad...
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I think most people here understand and accept regression to the mean; just not necessarily your interpretation of that concept.

Ha
Not to mention that some (most?) of us have been economied out over the past few months. We didn't ER because we want to sit around being serious at great length all the time. Pissing and moaning is OK, gets it out of our systems. But if you'd read other threads you'd realize that most are here to be social, with help available as needed.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:20 AM   #59
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I think most people here understand and accept regression to the mean; just not necessarily your interpretation of that concept.

Ha
I see. You've proclaimed my intepretation to be problematic, and your reasons don't need to be stated since they are intuitively obvious to the most casual reader.

Besides, it would probably take more than a soundbite.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:31 AM   #60
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Not to mention that some (most?) of us have been economied out over the past few months. We didn't ER because we want to sit around being serious at great length all the time. Pissing and moaning is OK, gets it out of our systems. But if you'd read other threads you'd realize that most are here to be social, with help available as needed.
harley, this isn't really fair. The topic was "The Economy". I'm new here, and I'm getting instant hostility for posting my thoughts. Yes, they were winded and I apologized. There were at least a couple of people who were genuinely interested and were engaging with me. I honestly don't understand why people feel so territorial about these forums, and feel they must gang up on others to enforce a certain posting "culture." You know, just scroll on and shut up if you're not interested...

I didn't think I was pissing and moaning. I just thought I would find some kindred spirits here being FIREd myself, and it looks like I was sadly mistaken. The place feels unwelcoming. I've unintentionally irritated the locals, so I'll just move right along down the highway.

I may be a big galloot but I can take a hint.
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