EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Focus

April 15, 2008

Focus: Despite weak economy, now is a good time to invest

So you've got money to invest during these trying economic times.

It could be $1,000, it could be $100,000.

Regardless, here are a few guiding principles.

Relax (read: do not panic), reflect on your goals, form a plan that employs diversification and follow through with it.

That's what academics and certified financial planners recommend.

Most economists say we are either in or on the cusp of recession — a time of declining wages, production and purchases. But economic cycles of highs and lows are endemic to market economies, says Robert Cuomo, dean of the business school at Merrimack College in North Andover.

Take the stock market, for example. It has always bounced back from bottoms.

Historically, it has grown an average of 5 percent to 6 percent a year since the 1920s, Cuomo said.

And the opportunity to buy is best when the market is down since that's when people sell, he said.

"This is probably a very, very good time to invest," said Cuomo, who thinks the U.S. economy is either at its bottom or three to six months away from the bottom.

Certified financial planner Kevin Crowley says now is a prime time to buck the herd mentality he has witnessed taking shape. He hears many advice seekers wanting to be steered to low-return, low-risk, FDIC-insured investments such as certificates of deposit and money market funds. This might not be the right route, he said.

"Quite contrary, that is probably the least (sound) advice — to throw in the towel," he said.

OK, so the towel stays in the corner, and the investor is ready to come out fighting in the next round. That doesn't mean leading with the chin, risking a trip to the canvas and an early exit.

Investors need to inventory their assets. Figure how much money they have to invest.

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