24 Jul 2017

The Most Remarkable Investor that You’ve Never Heard Of

Last weekend, I took an extended drive through the Great Lakes region to drop my kids off at their respective camps. We stayed in Michigan the first two nights – first in Holland and then Munising, right on Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.  After a drop off in Minocqua, Wisconsin, we stayed in downtown Madison.  All told, we traveled about 2,300 miles. While my wife and kids were hooked… Read More

17 Jul 2017

Retirement Spending Rules of Thumb

I suspect that, at some point, everyone has heard the old rule of thumb that retirees need to replace 80 percent of their income in retirement to continue to maintain their lifestyle. Although I think that the rule is conceptually reasonable, it’s imperfect and can be improved upon.  At the very least, spending in retirement isn’t fixed – it tends to decline over time as people age (for more on… Read More

10 Jul 2017

It’s Not an Index Fund

Precision in language matters, though you wouldn’t know it from reading newspaper headlines (Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts).  It may seem like distinction without a difference, but I want to make a distinction today between passively managed funds and index funds. One of the biggest debates amongst investors is the old ‘active/passive’ debate.  I’ve spilled plenty of digital ink on this subject already (click here, here and here), but the basic… Read More

26 Jun 2017

Buying China

Quick – name the country with the second largest stock market in the world! Obviously, we know that the US has the largest stock market in the world.  But did you guess Japan, Great Britain or France?  Those are good guesses since they are the three largest developed markets in the world. Maybe you guess China, which is the fourth largest market in the world as measured by the weight… Read More

30 May 2017

Bond Market Views on Growth and Inflation Today

Almost a year ago, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury hit an all-time low, falling to 1.36 percent, just below the previous all-time low of 1.39 percent, set in 2012. After the yield on the 10-year bottomed last summer, the yield drifted slowly higher until the election when, boom, it shot dramatically higher overnight.  Investors were optimistic that the Trump administration might bring faster economic growth through a combination of… Read More

22 May 2017

Quants and the Media

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) printed four articles in what appears to be a 17 article series on what they call ‘the quants.’  I was so excited to see these articles because I think you could fairly describe some of the strategies that we pursue as quantitative in nature. Unfortunately, I was turned off immediately.  The second paragraph of the first article talked about how the quants use ‘high… Read More

15 May 2017

Watching for Traps, Growth & Value

Last week was particularly tough on retailers thanks to a report that showed online spending increased 1.4 percent while it declined -0.50 percent for brick and mortar stores.  Department stores like Nordstrom’s and JC Penny both fell more than -10 percent on earnings and forward guidance news. Even though we don’t own either of these two retailers, we own others and the bad news made its way into the stocks… Read More

8 May 2017

Woodstock for Capitalists

This past weekend was the ‘Woodstock for Capitalists,’ otherwise known as the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, where each year, tens of thousands of shareholders descend on Omaha, Nebraska to hear from the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. I’ve never attended myself, but I’ve read the book and watched the documentary (a trailer can be seen here).  Before Airbnb, it was next to impossible to find a place to stay and… Read More

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