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The Week in Review -- August 20, 1999

The Markets

  8/13 Close 8/20 Close Change %Change
DJIA 10,973.34 11,100.61 +127.27 +1.16
S&P 500 1,327.68 1,336.61 +8.93 +0.67
Nasdaq 2,635.16 2,648.33 +13.17 +0.50

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What Bears Repeating
by Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)

Greetings, Fools.

There are lots of potboiler novels out there that are fun to read, with names like The Bourne Ultimatum, The Odessa File, and The Pelican Brief. I'm going to write one called The Redundancy Redundancy, and it's going to be based on these weekly Notes.

It'll never get a publisher, because it has no plot. It's just me saying, again and again, the same things I always do: Investing is easier than you think it is. Managing money is more fun than you previously imagined. You can outperform the experts. The Internet is an astounding tool for bringing information into your hands. You should do your own research. Study the Fool Portfolios, but don't ape their investment choices blindly. Learn the factors that are important in identifying good companies. Join the Community of Fools, where you can discuss managing your money with thousands of other investors. Technology is changing everything. The world is getting better. The resources are at your fingertips. Yadda yadda yadda.

You've heard me say all of these things before, and you'll likely hear me say them again. After all, if you read Robert Ludlum, you should expect to hear something, at least occasionally, about spies. Turn to a John Grisham novel and don't be surprised if a lawyer shows up in the cast of characters now and then. If you decide to get into the habit of reading these Notes regularly, brace yourself for a weekly fistful of Foolishness. I can't help it.

Our lives are governed by redundancies: a sunrise every 24 hours like clockwork. Taxes due every year on April 15th, rain or shine. And a Rule Breaker Portfolio report every trading day that, more likely than not, reiterates any of a number of eternal Foolish Fundamentals: One day's trading means next to nothing in a lifetime of investing. Short-term price movements are impossible to predict. In the long term, stocks have proven to be the supreme investment vehicle. And so on. You've heard it all before? Good. Keep noticing these reiterations, because the flip side of redundancy is consistency. What you practice, you perfect. Repetition will result in skill.

Speaking of repetition, there's the ceaseless excellence of Louis Corrigan (TMF Seymor). I finally got to meet Louis in person last month when Fool employees from around the country gathered in Virginia, and I'm afraid I embarrassed him by being a bit too emphatic in complimenting his work. (Sorry, Louis, but I call 'em as I see 'em.) This week he gives us a series on Alan Greenspan. As Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan can move whole economies by shifting a syllable. If you ever wanted a guide to interpreting Greenspan's cryptic commentary, this special by Louis is what you've been looking for.

In the last few days we also saw a genuine tour-de-force as Fools Matt Richey (TMF Verve) and Phil Weiss (TMF Grape) combined their efforts in the Rule Maker Portfolio to sharpen and define that feature's investing approach. This is important stuff, the sort of material you should be visiting repeatedly in order to build your own skills as an investor. Look first to Tuesday's report, where Matt examines the fine art of Building and Maintaining a Portfolio. Then on Wednesday and Thursday Phil and Matt join to answer one of the most commonly asked investing questions in Fooldom: When should I sell? These pieces represent not merely a reiteration of the principles of Rule Maker investing, but a sharpening of them, and for that reason they should not only be read, but studied, until the principles they define have become your own. Good work, guys.

Your life is going to be filled with repetitions of all sorts. It is a matter of human nature. We all have our own peculiar sets of habits, our own well-worn trains of thought. We repeat the paths we walk on, the styles of clothes we wear, the types of companies we seek out as investments. Since habit is impossible to avoid, it is important that we each choose habits that serve us. Make the redundancies in your life work for you rather than against you. It's the Foolish thing to do.

By the way, take a moment this weekend to check out News World. This is a great place to stay abreast of the steady stream of Foolish commentary our writers turn out every business day. There is a high probability that if you're at all interested in the trends that are shaping the economies of the world or impacting the companies you own, you'll find something worth a read.

Until next week,
Fool on!

Cheeze

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