FEB 8, 2010 5:12am ET

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Performance Measurement – Common Causes/Risk, Skill and Luck, Part 1


After the Internet bubble burst in 2002, I sold some of the stock in the technology company I worked for at the time and set out to invest the proceeds on my own. Like most inexperienced investors, I made some mistakes, but on the whole did quite well – until the mortgage bubble burst that is. The market boom in the 90's had been fueled by growth stocks, especially large company growth. After that segment tanked in 2001-2002, I thought it prudent to switch to small and value, so I chose a few well-regarded mutual funds and the roll-your-own portfolio enabler, Foliofn, overemphasizing the new choices. That strategy worked swimmingly until mid-2008, when the segment crashed worse than the overall market in a near depression. At the end, I wasn't better off than I'd have been simply investing in the market index from the outset. In retrospect, I can only call myself smart from 2002-2007 if I acknowledge I've been pretty dumb since!

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