At the big Wall Street firms and the big money management houses, pension funds and insurance companies they serve, the two weeks leading up to Labor Day are famous for being staffed largely by junior people. The bosses and anyone remotely close to them are off to the Hamptons or, failing that, hanging out at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens. The guidance to those minding the store is pretty much always the same: try not to do anything (nothing much is likely to happen anyway) and don’t screw up.
Ironically, that’s almost always the best advice for the vast majority of investors who have a well-constructed diversified portfolio. Errors – excessive trading, trying to time the markets, paying excessive fees, performance chasing and the like – tend to come from impatience and foolish action rather than simply staying the course. We should think less “Don’t just stand there, do something!” and more “Don’t just do something, stand there!”