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Barry Ritholtz

The Fickle Fortunes of Market Timing

Four challenges to keep in mind if you're jumping in and out of a turbulent market.
Most important: Be lucky.
Photographer: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Over the course of my career, I have had more than my fair share of good market calls.  I credit a combination of hard work (6 percent), insight (4 percent) and uncanny good luck (90 percent). There's not much to say about the 90 percent, but the other 10 is worth a closer look given yesterday's stock selloff.

Lots of theories were floated as to why the markets reacted yesterday to things that existed the day before, but did not cause a reaction the day before. Pick from the usual parade of horribles: an increasing likelihood of military conflict between North Korea and the U.S., including the possibility of nuclear showdown; the lack of political consensus on raising the debt ceiling; the economic impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and whatever the next one after that is called. Maybe it was the disappointing Employment Situation report on Friday. Perhaps it was summer ending, and everyone back at their desks and lighting up out of a plethora of caution.