15 Nov 2021

Inflation Runs Hot

This past Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for October, which showed inflation on consumer goods growing at a rate not seen in thirty years. This concerning trend is illustrated in the chart below. The orange line tracks the annual growth rate of the CPI since the 1960’s. This line includes all prices and categories. The white line tracks the same index, but… Read More

8 Nov 2021

Finally: Dow 36,000

Although I wasn’t yet in the wealth management business, I vividly recall the tech bubble in the late 1990s. I graduated from college in 1995, and remember the Investments professor saying that markets were overvalued. In my first few years on the job, I witnessed the Dow cross 5,000 and then 10,000 within just five years. I was working in foreign exchange and was going through a terrible bear market… Read More

1 Nov 2021

The Trouble with Tesla

Over the years, I’ve missed some wonderful returns on stocks that I thought were too expensive. I was an Amazon customer starting in 1999 (you can find your ENTIRE purchase history on the site), two years after they went public. I might have missed ‘the ground floor,’ but I was worried about their valuation. Tesla is another company. I know several people who bought them when they came out, and… Read More

25 Oct 2021

I Finally Bought Bitcoin

Several years ago, I went to the movies and noticed a machine selling Bitcoin in the lobby. I’d read about Bitcoin and thought about buying one just to keep an eye on it. Then, I thought that $3,500 was an expensive night at the movies and just enjoyed the show. A year later, I went back, and the price had risen to $16,500 per coin, and I realized that night… Read More

11 Oct 2021

Before You Invest in Alternatives

Over the past few years, one of the more popular categories of mutual funds has been so-called ‘alternative’ funds. Alternative investments, broadly defined, are strategies that seek returns that are uncorrelated from traditional investments like stocks and bonds. While alternative investments were once largely confined to private partnerships, they are now popular in mutual funds, or what the industry refers to as ’40 Act Funds. Following the 2008 financial crisis, alternative mutual funds… Read More

27 Sep 2021

Is China’s Evergrande Our Lehman Brothers?

The big selloff last week centered around a massive Chinese real estate developer, Evergrande, which is almost certainly insolvent. Although not many folks around here (including me) had ever heard of Evergrande, the company is the second-largest developer in China and ranks 122nd on Fortune’s Global 500. According to Wikipedia, in 2020, Evergrande reported revenues of $78.4 billion and profits of $1.25 billion, which is a fairly slim profit margin… Read More

13 Sep 2021

Inflation and the Price of Milk

The inflation that we all worried about earlier this year is showing up in the monthly numbers. It’s too early to say whether the higher readings are transitory, as the Fed would say, or here to stay. The most recent reading showed that inflation for the 12-months ending in July is 4.2 percent for ‘core’ inflation, and 5.3 percent for headline inflation. What’s core inflation? It’s the headline number but… Read More

16 Aug 2021

What Kills a Bond Portfolio

Even if everything goes according to plan, we are probably stuck with zero percent on cash for the next few years. We’ve been in this situation for so long that it almost seems normal, and with some negative interest rates elsewhere around the world, sometimes zero even seems good (actually, it never does, but negative is just so bad). Earning nothing is so lousy that every once and a while,… Read More

9 Aug 2021

The Fed and the Long Term

Over the weekend, I watched a Front Line documentary on PBS that came out in July, called The Power of the Fed. You can watch it here, although you may have to be a member (like me!). The documentary chronicles the power of the Federal Reserve, with particular attention to the bond-buying program called quantitative easing that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. The documentary makes the case that the… Read More

2 Aug 2021

Emerging Markets Submerge of Late

In celebration of the Fourth of July, I wrote about how we are fortunate to have the freedom that other countries don’t always enjoy. Specifically, I wrote about China and its recent crackdown on Alibaba after the founder and CEO Jack Ma made comments that the government found unacceptable (you can read the article by clicking here). Little did I know that we were at the beginning of a terrible… Read More