If you need another reason to hate the French, besides envy of their excellent cuisine, it turns out that a bevy of winemakers were fined and given suspended sentences for foisting cheap, lousy wine on American consumers and charging them premium prices for it.
On the other hand, it shows that cognitive biases are everywhere. Neither the American company the wine was shipped to nor consumers drinking it ever complained! Because the wine was labeled as premium pinot noir, wine enthusiasts apparently thought it tasted great. In fact, it turns out that wine drinkers think expensive wine tastes better, even when you trick them and give them two glasses of wine from the same bottle.
This behavior is not unknown in the stock market, where cognitive biases run unbridled down Wall Street. Ten years ago, everyone was in love with General Electic. It, too, was high-priced and tasted great. Ten years later, GE is considered cheap swill that leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of investors.
The moral of the story is that you can’t fall in love with your stocks or your wine. You have to like it on its own merits. In the case of our Systematic RS accounts, we like a stock only as long as it has high relative strength. When it becomes weaker and drops in its ranking–indicating that other, stronger stocks are available–we sell it and move on to a better class of grape. (We’ve been known to break a bottle here and there, but the idea is to adapt as tastes change.) In this way, we strive to keep our wine cellar stocked with the best vintages all the time.
—-this article originally appeared 2/19/2012. Cognitive biases are still running wild on Wall Street.