Is It Time to Invest in the Stock Market?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently at its highest point in history. Never before has the stock market been this valuable, uh, not taking inflation into account. As the media piles in and investors celebrate, the question of the day is: Is it now "time" to buy stocks?

Highly paid financial "strategists," who are "strategists" in the same way that witch doctors are "doctors," are all remarking on this point today, one way or the other. Will the market keep going up? Or, conversely, will the market be going down? "There's a lot more to come," says Laszlo Birinyi. "The momentum of the market will keep moving it upward," says Paul Hickey. But! "We're overdue for a correction," says David Rosenberg.

"I don't believe valuations are excessive," says John Bogle. "I think we go higher," says Russ Koesterich. But! "The market is being driven by Fed policy, not fundamentals like earnings," says Barry Knapp.

Will the market rise in the short term? Perhaps. Will it fall in the short term? Perhaps. How about the long term—hasn't the market historically risen in the long term? Yes. Is that a reliable trend for investors to count on? Perhaps. Or will it turn out that, in the context of history, modern America's financial growth was a mere anomalous blip, that will be erased by a lone disastrous event which none of us foresaw? Perhaps.

So then... is this a good time to invest?

"A monk asked Tozan when he was weighing some flax: `What is Buddha?'
Tozan said: `This flax weighs three pounds.'"

Perhaps.

[Photo: Gabriel Rocha/ Flickr]