What Jason Zweig does right–and wrong–in his inaugural column

Stop Worrying, and Learn to Love the Bear.”

I love the title of Jason Zweig’s inaugural “The Intelligent Investor” column for The Wall Street Journal. With this title, Zweig follows advice I give to writers of investment commentary. He takes something that’s viewed as negative and finds the positive side. That’s a great way to grab your reader’s attention.

Zweig says, “…if you are still in your saving and investing years, a bear market is a gift from the financial gods — and the longer it lasts, the better off you will be. Instead of running from the bear, you should embrace him.” So that’s his thesis. 

But Zweig falls short in explaining how the bear market will help investors, other than offering the opportunity to buy good stocks cheaply. He gives the example of how the last long bear market—1969-1982—set the stage for stocks to return 18.5% a year for the 18 years following the bear market’s end.

Let’s assume—and it’s a big assumption—that scenario will repeat. Then, sure, folks who are just starting their saving and investing would end up better off. But what about those who are in the midst of their saving and investing? Will they ever make up their losses?