17 Apr 2017

The Fed’s Next Move

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserved used a variety of tactics to stabilize the economy and financial system.  First they cut interest rates, but when they got to zero and couldn’t cut anymore, they started buying bonds in the open market in a process call quantitative easing (QE). The program was controversial because a lot of people thought that it would stoke inflation.  While that didn’t come to… Read More

10 Apr 2017

Markets are Quiet, Enjoy Them for Now

The stock market has been unusually quiet this year.  For example, the S&P 500 didn’t fall by more than one percent until March 21st, just before the quarter ended. The Chicago Board of Options (CBOE) Volatility Index (VIX), which measures expected volatility, had the second lowest average reading for the quarter since the index was created in 1992. The chart below plots the VIX over the last three quarters in… Read More

3 Apr 2017

A Long View of Non US Stocks

For what feels like the first time in forever, foreign stocks are outpacing US stocks so far this year.  The table above includes the MSCI All Country World exUS index, which combines all developed and emerging markets.  As of Friday, the MSCI ACWI is outperforming the S&P 500 by 1.79 percent. That contrasts with the results over the last five years ending in March, when the S&P 500 earned 13.3… Read More

20 Mar 2017

A Fund Struggles and I Can’t Look Away

There are a fair number of reasonably well known investors that I keep my eye on even though I know that we won’t ever invest in their funds.  One of the most fascinating investors in my opinion is Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund (ticker: FAIRX). Berkowitz caught my attention at an investment conference bank shortly after the 2008 financial crisis because he had a booth that was swarmed… Read More

13 Mar 2017

Meet the Fed’s FOMC

The Federal Reserve will obviously be in focus this week and we talk about the Fed and its members a lot and I suspect that not everyone quite knows how the Fed works.  Today is a quick primer. The Federal Reserve System was created by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 to serve as a formal lender of last resort to banks during panics and times of a liquidity crisis…. Read More

2 Mar 2017

What About The Bonds?

Almost all of the focus on the Federal Reserve lately has been concentrated on the future path for the fed funds target rate. After the false start in December of 2015, the FOMC hiked rates again in December of last year and now stands poised to actually turn things into a steady campaign of rate hikes. However, the other piece of their emergency level of monetary policy accommodation – the… Read More

27 Feb 2017

The Words of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett released his annual letter to shareholder on Saturday and, as always, it was a delight to read.  You can find the entire letter here; but today, I thought I would share some of the highlights. *** One word sums up our country’s achievements: miraculous.  From our standing start 240 years ago – a span of time less that triple my days on earth – Americans have combined human… Read More

21 Feb 2017

The High Cost of Healthcare for Retirees

A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) released in January estimates how much savings people need just to cover out of pocket healthcare expenses.  (You can see the entire study here) Like our retirement planning software, the EBRI conducted Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the effect of varying mortality rates and portfolio returns. The EBRI found that for a 65 year old man to have a 50/50 shot… Read More

6 Feb 2017

What is a Border Adjustment Tax?

Most of the time, the topics that I choose for Daily Insights are things that I think I know a lot about.  Sometimes, I write about a topic in an effort to learn more about it. That’s the case today: I had never heard of a border adjustment tax until a few weeks ago, wanted to know more and thought I would share what I’ve learned. Some of you undoubtedly… Read More