Betting that markets will be "volatile" is like betting the weather will be partly cloudy. It's a smart-sounding strategy that doesn't mean much.
Listen to market strategists and a word that comes up a lot these days is "volatility." Outlook for 2016? "More volatility ahead." Buy these stock market dips? "Yes, but there could be more volatility."
This isn't new. It's been going on for years. And it's rarely useful information for investors.
That's partly because the term "volatility" could describe anything from stock prices rapidly fluctuating--which, by their very nature, they do--to a specific move higher in the market's best-known volatility gauge, the VIX.
Most use the term volatility in a broad enough way to suggest either, or both, of the above. That not only leaves them plenty of wiggle room for whatever actually takes place in the market, it also sounds like wise, prudent advice. The trouble is, it doesn't actually help investors that much in determining whether to invest in a given security, or index, at a given price.