13 Greatest Stock Market Myths that do not die

Mr. The Poor Swiss | Updated: | Investing
13 Greatest Stock Market Myths that do not die

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The stock market is a strange place for many. It is surrounded by many myths. And if you are not careful and believe in these myths, you may well end up losing a lot of money. Some of these myths make people not want to invest in the stock market. As such, they are losing a nice opportunity to invest their money.

Some of these myths came from the early stock market, where it was indeed more difficult to start investing. However, many things are not true anymore, and some things that were facts long ago are now myths.

You must do your own research. And you must base your investing strategy on facts and not myths. Therefore, it is important to go over the myths to ensure you do not fall for one of them.

In this post, I am going to list the 13 biggest myths of the stock market.

1. The Stock Market always Go Up

You have probably heard this one a lot: You should invest in the stock market; it always goes up. This is a big fallacy.

It is true that the stock market historically went up on average. This means that over a long period of time, the stock market always went up. But there were many periods of time where the market goes down more than 10%.

If you want to invest in the stock market, you need to be prepared for big drops. On average, the stock market experiences a 10% decline at least once a year and a 20% drop about every four years. And you should be ready for a steep drop of 30% once a decade.

A very important example is the one from the Japanese stock market. In 1990, a huge speculative bubble burst on the Japanese stock market. For the next 20 years, the stock market has been going down. Until now, almost 30 years, it still has not recovered to the high of 1990.

2. Investing in the stock market is for the rich

Many people are not investing in the stock market because they believe this is only for the rich.

This is completely wrong. This is probably one of the oldest myths. You do not need a lot of money to make money in the stock market. If you invest 100 USD or 1000 USD in the same portfolio, you will have the same returns in percentage. Of course, in absolute values, the more money you have, the more returns. But that is not preventing you from investing with little money.

Some mutual funds indeed have some minimum, like 5000 USD. But you can always use a broker and buy a single share of an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) for a few hundred dollars. There is really no need to get rich before you invest in the stock. On the contrary, if you wait until you get rich before you invest, you may well never invest.

The best time to invest is now! You can invest in the stock market with little money!

3. Investing is gambling

Myth: Investing is gambling!
Myth: Investing is gambling!

Some people do not invest because it is too risky, like gambling.

It is true that if you invest in a single stock, you will have a very risky investment. If you invest in a good company, you still have better odds than playing against the house (gambling). But investing in some shady company could indeed be compared to gambling. But investing in the broader market is not that risky. Over the long term, you can have outstanding returns.

Of course, there is no guarantee, and no investment is risk-free. As we mentioned with Myth #1, you can expect the stock market to drop by 30% at least once per decade. But you need to be strong enough not to sell and wait for the next recovery. It may take a long time,  of course. But this is all part of investing.

4. It is easy to beat the market

Many people believe they can beat the returns of the market. They often believe that because some investors and fund managers beat the market for some years.

However, when you study the returns of all the active funds against the returns of the broader market, you can realize that in the long term, none of these funds outperformed the market. In fact, most active funds significantly underperformed the market in the long term.

This is the main reason why passive investing is so popular these days. You invest in the entire stock market instead of betting on stocks that will beat the market. Of course, that is not without risks either. And you still have to do some research. For instance, you have to choose which index you want to invest. However, with this, you are guaranteed the returns of the market, minus some fees. And you will want to minimize these fees.

Stock-picking pros are not stupid. They are just expensive -John Bogle, founder, Vanguard

5. A stock that has gone down will go up

This myth has always been around, I think. Some people are investing heavily in some stock that is going down because they believe (they think to know) that it will go back up. They base this on the fact that it was going up before, so it should continue to go up.

Now, some stocks will indeed recover. A good stock that is going down may be available for a premium. However, a bad stock going down may simply indicate a direct slope without recovery. Even in the case of a good stock, nothing indicates that the stock was not simply overvalued before. So, there is absolutely no guarantee that a stock going down will go up again.

Now, if you believe in the fundamentals of the stock you are buying or in the index you are investing in, you may want to continue investing a premium. This may bring your average price down and may increase your returns in the long run.

There is another version of this myth: One stock is already 90% down; there is no way it will go down further. But this is even more dangerous. If a stock is down 90%, there is probably an excellent reason. Once again, it may have been grossly overvalued, it may have been hot, or it may simply be a bad company. In any case, nothing prevents it from going down even further. Do not forget that a company can also bankrupt, bringing the share price to zero!

6. A high-priced stock will go down

The next myth is almost contrary to the previous myth. Some people that a price that is going up a lot has to go down at some point. And they are waiting for the drop to invest.

This is pure market timing. And this is far from being true. Some stocks have been going up for a long time now without showing a sign of decline. For instance, Walmart stock has been going consistently for a very long time. It went down with the market correction and recessions but did not encounter a correction of its.

Berkshire Hataway stock price
Berkshire Hataway stock price (Source: Google Finance)

As we can, the price of Berkshire Hataway (BRK.A), the company of Warren Buffett,  never went down as much as some investors would have wanted. Some people waited on the sidelines for a very long time. And doing so, they lost a lot of returns.

Of course, that is not to say that some stocks will never go down. But if you believe in a company’s potential to grow, you should invest right now, not wait on the sidelines forever.

7. Bonds are always safe

Many people believe that bonds are entirely safe.

But this is not entirely true. They may be safer than stocks in some situations. But sometimes, bonds are actually riskier than stocks. The problem is that most people do not understand bonds. People understand the yield, but they do not understand how they are valued.

When you buy a bond, you get a guaranteed interest rate over some period of time. If you keep the bond to its maturity, you will have regained your capital plus some interest. However, if you get a bond from a company, it may default on its bond (think bankruptcy). If you invest in government bonds, it is much less likely to default, but it is still possible. In case of default, it is unlikely that you get anything in the end.

However, the current value of a bond will change if the interest rates are raised or lowered. If the interest rate rises, your bond will be worth less. On the contrary, if the interest rate lowers, your bond will be worth more. That means that the value of a bond is not fixed. Moreover, the price of bonds can also change as more people, or fewer people are interested (offer and demand!).

In the short term, bonds are indeed less volatile than stocks. However, in the long term, they may be more volatile.

8. A good company always has a good stock

This is a myth that is dangerous to follow.

Generally speaking, a good company indeed has a good stock as well. However, there is one big case when it is not the case. Sometimes, the price of a stock can be grossly overvalued.

The best example of this is for many Technology stocks during the dot-com bubble. For instance, Microsoft saw its share drop 50% after the dot-com crash. It took about 15 years for the stock to go back to its dot-com level. But Microsoft continued increasing its earnings all along. Another crazy example is Verisign (VRSN). The dot-com crash made its stock price drop from 250 dollars to less than 10 dollars. Since this day, the stock price has not yet recovered. But the company is doing great. All these companies were simply highly overvalued.

Sometimes, a good company that people highly favor can perform worse than a worse company that people do not like that much.

9. Higher Risk means Higher Returns

The myth that higher risk always means higher returns sounds like it makes sense at first. However, there are many cases when a higher risk does not make higher returns. We are here talking about the risk in different stocks.

This is a good theory, but it does not work in practice. Time and time again, it has been shown that in the long-term, investing in low-risk stocks yields higher returns than investing in higher risks ones.

Another way to look at it is to look at the best investors in the world. For instance, if you look at Warren Buffett’s portfolio, you will not see risky assets. You will see assets that have high value but were undervalued in the market.

Another problem is that sometimes some shares have higher returns, but they may not last. Emerging Markets performed very well from 2000 to 2007. But they then crashed and have not yet recovered to this day. In the last decade, they have returned almost zero returns. But still, many people are using them to increase the yield of their portfolios.

10. You need to be a genius to invest

Many people do not invest in the stock market because they think they are not smart enough. They think that investing in the stock market is for geniuses.

This is a really old myth. But this is still only a myth. You do not need to be extremely smart to invest in the stock market. You need to be in control of your emotions. Your emotions can be a huge problem when you invest, much more than your intelligence.

If you invest only in broad indexes such as an index for an entire country, there is no need to be very smart for it. You need to not invest too much money, of course. And you need to not sell at first sight of a loss.

This myth is also often related to age. Some people think they are too young or too old to invest in the stock market. But there is no correlation between age and the ability to make money on the stock market.

11. A market drop makes you lose money

This myth is all over the news and the media. If the stock market drops 10%, all the media outlets will say that people lost 10% of their money. They will that people lost billions of dollars.

But this is completely wrong. You do not lose money if the market is dropping. The shares that you have in the market are worth less after the drop; that is true. But if you do not sell them, you have not lost any money. You can only lose money on the market if you sell some shares. As long as you hold onto your shares, you can still hope for a recovery.

The reason this is all over the news is that fear sells well. People are very quickly afraid about these things, and the media use their fears to sell more news. This is a bit sad, but there is nothing we can do about that.

Only sellers are losers! People that do not sell during a drop, do not lose money.

12. You should invest in what is hot

A myth that has also been around for a long time is that you should invest in what is hot right now. This is also known as following the crowd.

But following the crowd is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when investing in the stock market. However, there are a few problems with this approach. The people who invested early may make a lot of money with this. However, all the followers are already much later into the game. This will diminish the possible returns of the stock.

Moreover, often, the stock price will be driven madly simply by all the people following the crowd. They are all thinking the price will go up forever, and most of them did not do any analysis of the stock. When the early investors are going out and selling, the price is likely to fall. At this point, investors get scared and start selling really quickly. This leads to an even quicker descent and ends up in a big correction for the stock market.

You should never follow the crowd. It is best to ignore as much as possible financial advice and do your own research.

13. Every IPO will make you rich

These last few years, we have seen a lot of Initial Public Offering (IPO). There is a belief that every IPO will return a lot. But that is a myth.

The big problem with that myth is that most of the IPOs we hear about are successful ones. We do not hear as much of the failed IPOs. But there are more failed IPOS than there are successful ones.

Myth busted: Uber IPO was not so hot
Myth busted: Uber IPO was not so hot

Most recently, everybody was excited about Uber IPO. They started the IPO at 45 dollars, but the first day ended up at 38 dollars. In a market going up, it took about one month for Uber to trade around its IPO price again.

The problem with IPOs is that they often lead to big overvaluation. The IPO price is often much higher than the real value of the company. Shareholders just hope for investors to invest because of a trend, not because of the company’s value. And the time of the opening can also be crucial. If one IPO starts on a very bad stock market day, it is unlikely to trade very high.

Conclusion

As you can see, many myths are surrounding the stock market. If you believe in these myths, you may make many investing mistakes. You should be careful and learn about these myths to save yourself some big mistakes.

I think the worst myths are the one that blocks people from investing in the stock market. For instance, many people believe that they need thousands of dollars to start investing or that they need to be geniuses. This prevents people from investing their savings.

You must base your investing strategy on strong facts instead of things that people believe. You should be skeptical when you read things about the stock market. Do not let myths hinder your stock market investing!

To read more about the stock market, read about many interesting facts about the stock markets. They will surprise you!

What about you? What stock market myth did you believe in? Do you know any other interesting myth?

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

10 thoughts on “13 Greatest Stock Market Myths that do not die”

  1. Nice post and captures most of the common myths you hear floating around!

    But if I may – point 1 is a tricky one. You say: “It is true that the stock market historically went up on average”. Not so, especially for non-US investors. It depends on which stock market you are looking at and what your entry point in the stock market is and whether you invest continuously or not. If a Japanese investor bought a lump sum in the NIKKEI 225 in 1990, they would STILL be staring at a loss. In another post you had argued against DCA. If this Japanese investor never DCAd down, they would never make a positive return on their investment (not even in nominal terms, forget about real terms).

    But for the average investor, over the long term, they need to believe that the stock market goes up. Otherwise why not invest in a lower risk asset class like inflation protected gilt bonds? One has to assume that Japan is an anomaly for point 1 to remain true.

    1. Hi Peter,

      You make a very good point. When I wrote this, I had the U.S. stock market on my mind. And I should have improved the article to mention different stock markets.

      As you said, the Japan stock market is an extreme example. But nothing guarantees us that this will not happen in any other stock market.

      On my next update, I will try to update this article to include these points!

      Thanks a lot for your comments!

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this article – it’s such a pity that so many people are thinking that investing is only for the rich or that they don’t understand investing. It is as hard as you yourself make it, it can be complicated but doesn’t have to be

    Low-cost index funds all the way!!

    1. Hi Radical FIRE,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      Yes, way too many people still think it’s only for the rich. And they think that they need to use a banker for that. And this banker will take too much of their returns :(

      Passive investing is really simple! Wish more people were reading our blogs ;)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. #11 hit way to close to home! What a frustrating one!

    It’s super reassuring for someone early in their investing career to know that market swings are not actual gains or losses. Nothing is real until you sell!

    Great post – really enjoyed reading about these myths.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Yes, too many people believe they just lost money when it goes down. And then they sell to avoid losing more. But they should hold! Or even buy more!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Although I hate to be a VTSAX fanboy, it’s hard to beat a fund that tracks the stock market so well. Combining something general like VTSAX with dollar cost averaging, it’s a tough not to earn money. I prefer a simple investing approach. Less moving parts, less danger of something not working.

    1. Hi Dave,

      I am not using VTSAX myself since we do not have access to Vanguard funds here. But I am using VT which is an ETF of Vanguard. It covers the entire world.
      VTSAX is only for the U.S., right? Do you not like international exposure?

      I completely agree on tracking the market!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Point 9 of your post could appear slightly misleading. The percentage return is an indicator of the riskiness of an investment asset. The higher the return on offer merely indicates the amount of risk you are exposing your funds too. High risk assets don’t automatically mean higher returns. As you describe in the final paragraph of 9, emerging markets were returning very good returns until 07 and then fell over. These higher returns (compared to more established markets) were an indication of how much risk your money was taking and ultimately that risk did manifest itself in a market collapse.

    1. Hi Investor Tuition,

      I agree that high returns mean high risks. High returns are generally above-average returns. There must be a reason for it to be higher.
      But I stand by my point (and it seems you agree) that High Risks does not always mean High Returns.
      This only works one way :)

      But you make a very good point! Over the long-term, high returns (high-risks) will often collapse and bring down the returns. It’s a kind of a cycle. I could have explained that better on my post!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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