18 Jun 2018

What Happened to International Stocks?

As we approach the halfway point of 2018, some things are looking very different from last year. Although it has been a bumpier ride compared to last year, US stocks are on track to have another good year as the S&P 500 is up more than 4.5 percent and the Russell 2000 Index is up more than 10 percent. But unlike last year, international stocks have effectively been flat, flipping… Read More

4 Jun 2018

Changes are Coming to the S&P 500

In the old active-versus-passive debate, the S&P 500 serves as the champion fighter in the passive corner.   That’s funny, because the S&P 500 is hardly passive. For example, it’s not a list of the largest 500 companies, but a curated list of stocks chosen by the index committee at Standards & Poor’s.  Most of the differences between the index and the actual list of the largest 500 companies are relatively… Read More

29 May 2018

Don’t Get Greedy!

I read an interesting thought experiment the other day.  The question posed was simple enough: if you knew how much a stock was going to rise in a given year, how much would you bet on it? Taking it another step, if you knew that the stock was going double in a year, would you borrow money and leverage your return?  If so, and forgetting margin requirements, how much would… Read More

21 May 2018

Why Aren’t Stocks Higher?

At this point, 93 percent of S&P 500 stocks have announced their first quarter results, which means that earnings season is almost over.  The expectations for earnings were relatively high at the beginning of the season, as Wall Street analysts expected that earning would grow by 11.3 percent. In fact, it was a blow out earnings season, with FactSet reporting that the blended average earnings grown at 24.5 percent –… Read More

7 May 2018

Unemployment at 20-Year Lows; Time to Buy?

Market participants and the news media alike are focused on round numbers, whether it’s the hopefully forthcoming Dow 25,000 or the 10-year Treasury crossing three percent last week. Amidst all of the news last week, one round number caught my eye: the unemployment rate crossing below four percent for the first time in nearly 20 years. The chart above shows the unemployment rate, or, more officially U3, for the past… Read More

30 Apr 2018

Cheap Rates

It finally happened. For the first time since 2014, the yield on the 10yr Treasury just traded over 3.0%. For months, many have proclaimed that 3.0% is the Maginot Line that, if crossed, spells impending doom for the markets. While it is easy to get excited about round numbers, the reality is that the economic impact of 3.0% is no different than 2.99%. The Treasury rate that I really find… Read More

23 Apr 2018

Retelling the Story of Concentration Risk

My wife and I were both very fortunate to have inherited some money. When we got married, almost 19 years ago, we found out that about 10 percent of our combined net worth was in General Electric (GE) stock. It was the largest position for both of us, actually. I received the stock when my grandfather died, which was right around the time that Jack Welch took over as the… Read More

16 Apr 2018

$1 Billion Tax Bill

If you’re writing a check to the government tomorrow for tax day, you’re probably not too happy about it.  At least you’re not suffering like John Paulson, the hedge fund manager, who is writing checks to the Fed and state for over $1 billion – on top of the $500 million that he paid in estimates last year. I know, I know: it’s a high class problem that we would… Read More

9 Apr 2018

Tariffs, Profits and Global Growth

Concerns about a trade war flared back up again last week.  The US released a list of proposed tariffs on some $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.  The 25 percent levies reach broadly, including medicine, aviation, semiconductors and consumer goods like dishwashers, snow plows and motorcycles. Beijing was quick to respond with reciprocal tariffs, announcing $50 billion on 106 products including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft.  Some analysts pointed out… Read More