Why Buying Low and Selling High Is a Myth

Don't try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can't be done, except by liars.


Market timing, the art of trying to buy stocks at their lowest price and sell them at their highest, is a pursuit that many investors dream of mastering. However, the reality is far from this idealized vision. Legendary investor Bernard Baruch once wisely remarked, “Don’t try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can’t be done, except by liars.” In this post, we will delve into the reasons behind Baruch’s insightful words and explore why attempting to time the market is a risky and unreliable strategy.

The Myth of Perfect Market Timing:

Successful market timing requires precise predictions of future price movements, which even the most experienced investors struggle to accomplish consistently. The market is influenced by a multitude of unpredictable factors, including economic indicators, geopolitical events, and investor sentiment. Therefore, attempting to pinpoint the exact moments to buy and sell is akin to gambling. Even renowned investors like Warren Buffett advise against market timing, opting for a long-term, value-based investment approach instead.

The Perils of Chasing the Bottom:

Buying stocks at the absolute bottom is a daunting task. While it may seem tempting to purchase shares when prices hit rock bottom, it’s virtually impossible to identify the precise moment when they have reached their lowest point. Investors who attempt to do so often find themselves caught in a downward spiral, continuously chasing elusive bargains that may never materialize. Moreover, such investors may miss out on opportunities to invest in fundamentally strong companies that may be trading at reasonable prices.

Example: Consider an investor who is constantly trying to time the market by buying stocks at their lowest points. They might wait for a stock to drop 20% from its recent high, only to witness it rebound and soar another 30% before they decide to sell. In this scenario, they have not only missed out on the initial price drop but also failed to capitalize on the subsequent price appreciation.

The Dangers of Selling at the Top:

Similar to buying at the bottom, selling stocks at the peak is a challenging endeavor. Attempting to unload stocks at their highest prices requires accurately identifying the precise moment when they have peaked, which is incredibly difficult. Greed can cloud judgment, leading investors to hold onto their positions for too long, often resulting in substantial losses when the market corrects or enters a bearish phase.

Example: Imagine an investor who decides to sell their stocks once they have increased by 20%. However, the market continues its upward trajectory, and the stocks appreciate another 50% before experiencing a significant decline. By selling prematurely, the investor has missed out on substantial potential gains and may even find themselves repurchasing the same stocks at higher prices.

The Value of Diversification and Long-Term Investing:

Rather than trying to time the market, investors are better served by focusing on diversification and adopting a long-term investment strategy. Diversification spreads risk across various asset classes, sectors, and geographic regions, helping to mitigate the impact of individual stock price fluctuations. Long-term investing allows investors to take advantage of the power of compounding and the natural growth trajectory of the market over time.

Example: Consider an investor who creates a well-diversified portfolio consisting of stocks, bonds, and other asset classes. They hold onto their investments for several years, weathering short-term market fluctuations. Over time, their portfolio experiences growth due to the overall upward trend of the market, income from dividends, and interest from bonds. This approach provides stability, growth, and peace of mind, irrespective of short-term market volatility.


Bernard Baruch’s quote serves as a sobering reminder that attempting to buy at the bottom and sell at the top is an elusive pursuit, usually reserved for those who distort the truth. Instead of chasing unrealistic market timing goals, investors should focus on building diversified portfolios and adopting a long-term investment perspective. By doing so, they can harness the power of the market’s natural growth and achieve their financial objectives with greater consistency and confidence.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *