You Must Be Present to Win

  • According to the Gallup organization, the percentage of Americans with money in the stock market has declined from 65% in 2007 to 54% last year.

  • “The train may be back at the top of the mountain, but you’re not there unless you stayed on the train.” — Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com, pointing out that many people missed the bull market by pulling funds out of stocks during the depths of the recession. 

Trying to Gauge the Market’s Direction

  • “Never forget this simple truism: Forecasting is marketing, plain and simple.” — Money manager/investing blogger Barry Ritholtz in an article for the Washington Post in which he took market forecasters to task for being so predictably wrong.

  • “Whew!” — Jeff Hirsch, editor in chief of the Stock Trader’s Almanac, after the S&P 500 eked out a modest 0.2% gain in the first five trading days of 2015. He sees the time frame as an early warning system for the year, noting, “The last 41 up First Five Days were followed by full-year gains 85% of the time with an 14.0% average gain in all 41 years.”

  • “A year ago, no one saw the decline in energy prices coming. This gets to the issue of forecasting. The world in general isn’t much good at forecasting anything.” — Scott Black, founder and president of Delphi Management, a participant in Barron’s 2015 economic roundtable.

  • “If we agree that inflation, interest rates, and growth will stay low, there is no alternative to stocks. In contrast to 2014, this will be a stockpicker’s market. The averages won’t do much, but within the market there will be great opportunities.” — Oscar Schaefer, chairman, Rivulet Capital, also at the Barron’s roundtable.

History Sending Conflicting Signals

  • “I’ve always been a believer in history, and all those years of positive returns are hard to ignore.” — New York Post writer Jonathan M. Trugman in an article noting that in the third year of a presidential term, the S&P 500 has posted positive returns the last 18 times.

  • “You have never seen the S&P 500 go up seven years in a row, and you would be breaking that record if you went up this year.” — Jeff Gundlach, founder Doubleline Capital.

Missing the Target?

  • “Well, that must have polled badly.” — The Wall Street Journal, commenting on news that President Obama decided to abandon his proposal to end the tax-favored treatment of 529 plans just a week after his idea was first made public.

  • “There must be a statute of limitations for those who say there will be inflation.” — Mario Draghi, European Central Bank President, dismissing criticism that the ECB’s new trillion-dollar bond-buying economic-stimulus program might stoke inflation down the road.