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Harmful Illusion

Philip Stein

Now retired, Phil was a public health microbiologist and later a computer programmer in the aerospace industry. He maintains that he’s worked with bugs, in one form or another, his entire career. Phil and his wife Jeanne live in Las Vegas.

    Harmful Illusion

    Philip Stein  |  Jan 1, 2024

    MANY FOLKS EQUATE a stock market downturn with losing money. I often hear comments like, “I lost money yesterday. The stock market went down.”
    I believe this impression of loss is an illusion, one that can be detrimental to our financial health—because it blinds us to certain fundamental truths.
    1. Illusion of lost money. You only lose money if you sell shares at a loss. If you don’t sell amid a downturn,

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    A Profitable Read

    Philip Stein  |  Oct 31, 2023

    I RECENTLY FINISHED reading the second edition of William Bernstein’s The Four Pillars of Investingtwice. This new edition is a significant rewrite of the first edition that was published in 2002. Even if you’ve read the first edition, reading the second edition is worth your time.
    Though I’ve read most of the books written by well-known investment luminaries familiar to HumbleDollar readers, there were still pearls of wisdom I gathered from this second edition.

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    Old Money

    Philip Stein  |  Aug 7, 2023

    COMMENTARY ABOUT America’s wealth inequality seems to be everywhere. According to Wikipedia, as of 2021’s fourth quarter, Federal Reserve data indicate that the top 1% of households hold 32.3% of the country’s wealth.
    Meanwhile, Pew Research Center reports that the median wealth of the richest 20% of American families increased by an inflation-adjusted 45% between 1998 and 2007, while the median wealth of middle-income families rose just 16%.
    And then there’s the Federal Reserve Bank of St.

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    No Right Answer

    Philip Stein  |  Jul 20, 2023

    DURING MY 30s, I worked for a defense contractor. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the Soviet Union imploded just over two years later. Many at work believed that the end of the Cold War would lead Congress to reduce defense spending. Sure enough, layoffs at my company commenced soon after.
    I was fortunate to avoid being laid off. I do recall, though, overhearing one coworker in his 50s who, after receiving a pink slip,

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    Skill or Luck?

    Philip Stein  |  May 26, 2023

    NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB has written a trilogy on the topic of chance: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan and Antifragile. I didn’t find these three books to be easy reading, plus Taleb has strong opinions, which may turn off some readers. Still, there’s a host of investment lessons to be culled from his works.
    Taleb argues that randomness plays a powerful role in financial markets and,

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    Saved by Compounding

    Philip Stein  |  Apr 13, 2023

    IF I MADE A LIST of all the dumb things investors do, I likely committed them all. I chased performance, sold stocks in a bear market, invested in things I didn’t understand—you get the picture.
    Yet, despite the numerous setbacks I suffered before I matured as an investor, I was able to retire comfortably. How was that possible? My conclusion: compound growth. Indeed, I believe compounding is a surer way to wealth than picking market-beating investments.

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