Round 2

With the Dow back above 10,000, the message from many on Wall Street is: Hurry! The recovery train is leaving the station! Don’t miss out on the next phase of the bull market!

Not so fast, says Robert Prechter, president of Elliott Wave International and author of Conquer the Crash.

“Everybody who’s saying ‘buy stocks’ today or ‘buy real estate’ is, I think, setting up people to get really hurt,” says Prechter, who believes the bear market rally is reaching a major top.

“We had a great opportunity at [S&P] 667 – that was the big opportunity,” says Prechter, who did make a bullish call last February. “The market is up 60% [from the March lows]. There’s no way the S&P is going up 60% from here.”

Prechter’s advice for most investors, as described in the recently released second edition of his book, is fairly simple:

Play it Safe: Keep as much of your assets as possible in cash and cash equivalents, Prechter recommends, stressing not all money market funds and bank CDs are created equal — or equally safe. (Prechter also advocates exposure to gold but isn’t as bullish on it today as he was in 2002, as discussed here.)

Patience Is a Virtue: “Sit back, relax. Be as safe as you can [and] in safe institutions,” he says. “There’s a great buying opportunity coming up around 2014, 2016.”

Return Of Capital Is Key: “Be very careful,” he says. “Don’t lose the money you have saved in the markets that are likely to come down in 2010 a long way.”

From Prechter’s perspective, “there’s no negative to getting safe.” The worst thing that happens is the market keeps rallying and “you can’t brag at cocktail parties,” he says. “But at least you won’t be crying because you lost half” of your assets.

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