For every argument that's made against "dumb money" and passive management, there is an example of how high-touch, emotional investing burns people looking to make a quick buck.
Unless you're looking to play the lottery, there's no reason to get involved in penny stocks. Despite the bump from cash-for-clunkers, car sales are down from a year ago, and when all those clunker-program free subscriptions expire, car owners won't want to tack on one more annual bill.
High-volume junk has attracted a lot of investors in 2009. From corporate debt funds like the aptly tickered SPDR Capital High Yield Bond (JNK) to unflagging investors doggedly trading Lehman on the pink sheets, everyone is looking for returns.Unless you're co-located with a major exchange, however, you're probably not going to make money trying to trade high-volume, low-priced stocks. Professional traders will love you, however, as they smell blood in the water and eat you alive. ETFs help investors avoid stocks like Sirius, which closed at 63 cents on Monday. The quarterly-to-annual rebalancing helps to put a longer-term perspective on asset allocation. Capitalization-weighted indexing helps to weed out the small fry. The ETFs that do hold Sirius are probably not in your portfolio, and hold it at such small quantities that it is practically negligible. PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio (PBS) has a 2.29% SIRI allocation, while iShares Morningstar Small Growth Index Fund (JKK) has just 0.96%. PBS has just $42 million in assets under management, while JKK has a low $70 million. Rather than charting the haphazard fluctuations of SIRI, consider a different music investment for the long term. While people may cut back their bills by letting their satellite radio expire, they are still consuming music electronically. Consider the explosion of Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPod. With downloading music becoming the norm, iPods should continue to reach a widening circle of investors. The era of the mix tape has been crushed by the advent of the iPod. As consumers look to their computer screens for music, instead of the radio, tech ETFs like the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund (IYW) could continue to benefit over time. The top five holdings in IYW are currently Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report), Apple (AAPL - Get Report), IBM (IBM), Cisco Systems (CSCO - Get Report), and Google (GOOG - Get Report). If you're looking for a balanced bet on the next generation of music consumption, IYW would be a good place to start. Suppress the urge for a short-term bet on Sirius and think of a longer-term approach.