Nervous investorAfter getting hammered by the financial crisis two years ago, investors are finally showing signs of crawling out of their shells again. Stocks have slowly crawled back to levels last seen before the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, and safer assets like bonds are seeing major selling pressure as risk appetite returns to the market.

But even as the bunker mentality that prevailed during the depths of the crisis fades, investors are likely to carry some permanent scars. The view of stocks as an easy way to make money that held sway during a remarkable 20-year bull market until the last stomach-churning decade may never return.

Never Buy Another Stock Again, David GaffenWhile the prior era spawned countless get-rich-quick schemes, the crash of 2008 seems to have instilled a much more sober approach to investing. And a smart new book called Never Buy Another Stock Again: The Investing Portfolio that Will Preserve Your Wealth and Your Sanity, by David Gaffen, markets editor at Thomson Reuters, will be a valuable read for general investors who are maintaining a cautious bent.

The book is engagingly written but still provides a rigorous overview of markets and investment strategy. Gaffen's point of view is clear when he walks readers through a myriad of popular assets classes like stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and commodities. But it stops short of the facile explanations or over-the-top punditry that mar books aimed at broad, generalist audiences. Gaffen's balanced, accessible tone should serve readers who look to the market for solid investments rather than for speculative killings.

"We Got Spoiled"

Gaffen tends to present both sides of a story. While outlining the role that commodities can play as part of an overall portfolio, for example, he still rightly mocks some brokerage ads that present the highly volatile asset class as an easy way to make money for investors struggling with stock-picking.

The days of individual investors easily picking stocks for big gains as a rising tide lifted all boats may truly be a thing of the past. "During a long bull market, people could convince themselves they were very good at stock-picking," Gaffen writes. "We got spoiled, and those habits are going to be hard to change."

Instead, he emphasizes basics like making sure costs are low for investments like mutual funds and ETFs, and he focuses on diversification. Many investors are likely to have heard tidbits of this advice before. But Gaffen's book makes for a timely and lively overview anyway.

Nor does Gaffen deny that the speculating in stocks can be fun. "The 'pro sports' aspect is cool and part of what I love about markets," he says. But he urges investors to be realistic about their odds and to understand the risks they're taking. Speculative funds, he notes, shouldn't be confused with retirement savings.

"If you revel in the stress and getting a stock right makes your day, that is one thing," he says. "But that is not what you should be doing with your entire savings."

As a new year approaches, a growing number of Wall Street luminaries are now taking a markedly optimistic stance. But the last decade has been nerve-racking nonetheless. Many investors will understandably be looking for peace of mind as much as higher returns, and Gaffen's book can help them achieve both.

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the market is simply a craps shoot; prove me wrong, even in school we learn the monkey and dart investment tool.

December 27 2010 at 6:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

when picking a stock, always consider the management style, it is very important to the success of a co profit line...oh wait, I forgot about BAILOUTS.

December 27 2010 at 6:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The USA stock market is deing right now and for the average person to make anykind of return you need tons of money where the few pennys or nickles on a up swing of the stock adds up to some bucks, for this you need hundreds of thousands of stocks in companys, if the conpanys have dividends thats good but with fees and taxes these get smaller a year, The only thing that is holding up the stock market is all the fat cats money, and alot of them are investing billions in overseas stocks they can see a sinking ship when they see one, they have run for the hills and took the american workers investments with them. I for one want to see the stock market bust, and companys have to drive there companys on the money they make and drive there prices on compatition to sell products instead of worring about paying the stock holders a good % to keep them. People would go back to work and the company would have to make money on there own merrit instead of how much stocks they can sell to make money.

December 26 2010 at 10:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The working class of people, I mean the ones that go out and do labor,work in stores, food industry, capenters,and people like that, not the 3 piece 2 grand suit types that ride a chair making tons of money on the sweet of the REAL workers, those CEO,s are the lower than whale crap people, and Buffet, and the rest will distroy this country and 1/2 of the world, in the comming years. The real workers are getting punished for hard work and sooner or later all these real workers will give up and say its not worth it. Then when this happens these fat cats will have no slaves anymore to make there money off of and they will be crying all the way to the poor house. These fat cats all ready distroyed the BIGGEST buying public there ever was THE MIDDLE CLASS and dropped them down to the upper POOR CLASS al that trillions of buying power is slowly going away, and that will make the fat cats scrambling for over seas stocks and that will build up over seas countrys like China and the day will come where they will get togeather and form there own union of countrys and the USA will be finished for good, the overseas countrys will not need us any more, they won,t even need us for weapons because they are buying up all the modern teck there is out there now days. Can you say good buy USA i think it will happen in the next 15 years.

December 26 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Mexico, Venezuala, Greece... Keep voting those corrupt Demoncrats in folks. We won't be far behind.

December 26 2010 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

We bought silver a year ago and it's up over 100%. Think it's going to go down with this clown in the White House? Or, think we'll be looking at 200% in two years? Evil, rich, Demoncrat backer, George Soros has over a billion dollars in precious metals... Think he's looking to help America? Obama and the Demoncrats are nothing more than his puppets. They're bought and paid for.

December 26 2010 at 9:50 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Robert & Lisa's comment

tjd The lack of empathy is a sign of a psychopathic personality. Other aspects are egotism, superficial charm, good intelligence, absence of nervousness, untruthfulness, lack of remorse and shame, masked by an ability to appear normal. Just saying.

December 27 2010 at 6:11 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

The stock markets are rigged for the corrupt evil men like George Soros, who back the Demoncrats and unions, trying to break our government so we'll go socialist. Then only they and they're evil cohorts will be rich and everyone else will be poor. No middle class. Just like Mexico. Keep voting Demoncrats you suckers.

December 26 2010 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

There definitely is manipulation, when volume is over ran, but a person who uses stoplosses and such, there is still oportunity, and if you think a stock is about to tank why not short it or set up a straddle or something? I have been smashing the market since I started private trading with Scottrade, handling my own trades. I firmly believe that managed equities in stock (brokers,funds etc) have no accountabilty so thier own profits is all they care about. Thats why they bet against the stocks that they recommend to everybody.

December 26 2010 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rwdvddndcrw's comment
Robert & Lisa

Hang on to your God, gold and guns. What better advice is out there. Government can take what they want when they want. Just look at what happened to the GM bond holders. Thieves and thugs. That's what Obama and his evil union thug bunch are. The unions stole our bricklayers pension fund. My father got $26 a month before he died and my uncle only gets $24 a month...

December 26 2010 at 9:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The government took gold once.

December 26 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

WWIII is got your greedy little names on it. Enjoy!

December 26 2010 at 8:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It isn't over folks some punks are going bto pay for all the joblessness and destruction of trades

December 26 2010 at 8:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply