Smart strategies on how to invest during uncertain times. (iStockphoto/Svilen Mushkatov)

Stick to fundamentals


Goldman Sachs senior U.S. strategist

"There is incredible investor uncertainty," said Cohen, who sees slow growth for the economy.

The recent 40 percent rally in the Standard & Poor's 500 was justified, she said, because the original sell-off was too extreme -- driven by the need by large investors to sell strong stocks to raise cash.

That's past. Now, fundamentals will be more important for stock selection -- with investors focusing on valuations and earnings growth.

She expects the market will move up like a staircase. And the end of the year looks promising because of how investors look at profits: They compare one quarter to another.

And the end of this year should look good compared to the disastrous fourth quarter of 2008.

In keeping with her view of slow growth and the need for productivity, she believes technology will be a relatively strong sector.

Her major concern is exports. America's largest export partner is Europe, yet its ability to consume remains impaired by serious economic weaknesses.

The positive: With demand weak, production has been down. Businesses have drawn down their inventories. Eventually, producers may need to increase output to make up for scant supply, and economic growth could pick up.

Still, businesses will not invest in real estate, and consumers will save as businesses rebuild their inventory.

For the third quarter, she expects 1 percent growth in gross domestic product, and another 1 percent in the fourth quarter. Next year: 1.5 percent growth.

Prepare for deflation


Chief investment strategist of Morgan Stanley global wealth management

"You need to protect yourself, shorter term, from deflation. But that might not last more than one to 1 1/2 years," Darst said. "You need to protect yourself a little from inflation longer term."

That means everyone should have some Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS, which adjust to pay investors more in periods of inflation. And given the likelihood of global inflation, some protected securities would be advisable. He warns: "Investors shouldn't be fooling with currencies, because they are too complicated."

A compromise would be Australian or Canadian exchange-traded funds.