Investing Information

The Past Does Not Equal The Future: Mutual Fund Returns!

A way that investors get ripped off and in a sense rip themselves off is based on the culture of performance in the mutual fund industry. If you stop and think about it there is absolutely no reason that the past has to equal the future. If you have not been particularly successful as a stock investor in the past, for instance, there is no reason that you won't be unsuccessful in the future. One reason I hope that you are reading this article is that you want to improve as an investor.

Let's discuss how professional gamblers profit in Las Vegas. Card counters are a type of professional gambler that uses their memory of what card cards have been dealt out of a deck in a game of blackjack (also called 21). Since there are only a certain number of each type of card they can increase their bets when it is more likely that they will win then lose. This works because after the shuffle the deck starts with a certain composition and a number of games are played until the next shuffle. Toward the end of the deck you can know what may be coming out if you are paying attention because each hand in the deck is depends on what has been dealt before.

There are no professional gamblers who count the numbers rolled on a pair of dice on the craps tables. This is because there are only two dice and each roll is different. In other words, each roll of the dice is independent of any other roll. Since each roll is different it doesn't matter what was rolled in the past. The same thing would happen if the deck in a game of blackjack were shuffled each time between hands. This is a lot like the stock market where we don't know what the general level will be from time to time because of random information entering the market in the sort term. Mutual fund managers try to outsmart the market in the short term instead of patiently waiting in the long term where it is more likely to correctly determine if stocks are high or low.

So why then does the public pay so much attention to the nonsensical advertising of mutual funds that brag about prior performance in past years? Mutual funds buy expensive ads in newspapers, magazines, and on television where they tout their performance over the past one, three, five, and ten years. The mutual fund industry irresponsibly promotes this "culture of performance," even though it knows perfectly well that it misleads investors. Studies have shown that if you take the top 10% highest yielding funds in any year, four out of five of them will not be in the top 10% a year later! For this reason I strongly recommend that if you can only buy mutual funds, as in the case of the 401(k), then restrict your purchases to indexed funds like the Vanguard 500 (VFINX).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Scott Brown, Ph.D., a.k.a. "The Wallet Doctor", is a successful futures trader, real estate investor, and stock investor. Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. in finance from the University of South Carolina. His 1998 articles in Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities were prophetic in predicting an impending stock market crash. He has helped many people become profitable investors by teaching them to look out over many years to spot stocks that are low and primed for rise in the new bull market. His second article met with approval by Dr. Bob Shiller of Yale University. Dr. Shiller is the economist that Alan Greenspan most highly regards who coined the term "Irrational Exuberance." In 1998 he shouted to the world to "get out" of the stock market but now he is shouting to everyone that it is time to "get in!" The Wallet Doctor is not only sought after for investment advice and coaching in stock investing but also in futures trading and real estate investing. Visit Dr. Brown's site at or sign up for his investment tips at


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