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

14 Jun 2021

Drawdowns in Retirement, Part Deux

Last week’s Insight about the risks associated with so-called bond alternatives with higher yields prompted a lot of feedback, which I always appreciate. Here’s the article in case you missed it. One curious reader asked a great question: what if we allocated some of the bond money to a few of these higher-yielding options? That was enough to send me down the rabbit hole, looking at all kinds of higher-yielding… Read More

7 Jun 2021

Drawdowns in Retirement

This past week, I was meeting with a client and the discussion turned to the low yield bond environment. The client has a pretty common question – isn’t there something that yields more? The answer is yes, there are a lot of things that yield more than the investment-grade bond market. We could buy junk bonds, emerging markets bonds, or other questionable issuers. These kinds of bonds aren’t inherently bad,… Read More

17 May 2021

Inflation Data Spooks Market

Markets were caught off guard last week by several inflation data points last week, and the biggest surprise came from the core inflation rate which was expected to come in at 0.3 percent for the month but was 0.9 percent instead. Most of the time stocks and bonds move independently of each other, but stock and bond prices fell on the inflation news because it could prompt the Federal Reserve… Read More

26 Apr 2021

Derivatives in Your Portfolio

Last week, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a gripping article about a mutual fund that blew up due to problems with derivatives in the fund’s portfolio. You can read the whole article by clicking here, but let me start by sparing you of wondering whether you have it: not with us; our portfolio management software doesn’t even recognize the ticker. The thrust of the story is that the fund,… Read More

15 Apr 2021

Portfolio Insights

We are pleased to provide a digital copy of Portfolio Insights, our quarterly newsletter. Table of Contents: Stock Market Summary Bond Market Review Sensational Small-Caps The Gift that Keeps On Giving Pandemic Volatility Subsides The Big Picture Click here to read the issue: Q1 2021 Portfolio Insights

1 Mar 2021

Worried About Inflation?

Although some of the weakness was thought to be technical in nature, it is also the latest chapter in an ongoing tough market for bonds amid rising inflation expectations, a reasonably strong macro-outlook, solid corporate earnings, improving covid trends, and expectations for continued fiscal stimulus. Only energy posted a win for the week, up 4.3 percent. Utilities and consumer discretionary stocks were down -5.0 percent respectively, and technology fell by… Read More

27 Apr 2020

Stocks or Bonds in a Recession?

Even in today’s economic environment, coming up with topics daily can be a challenge.  So, when a reader asks a question, I am more than happy to answer it in this forum. Last week, I received a question in response to my article, ‘Chance of Recession: 100 percent.’  The reader wanted to know what the recession meant for bonds, especially in the coming months when markets will be volatile. That’s… Read More

15 Apr 2020

Junk Bonds in Today’s Market

Yesterday, I discussed corporate bonds, and how their yield tells us something about investor risk appetite.  You can read the article here. The same thing applies to non-investment grade bonds, which are also called ‘high yield,’ or less pleasantly, ‘junk bonds.’ The first chart below is exactly like the first chart in yesterday’s article, but also includes the yield on junk bonds (in yellow) in addition to Treasury bonds (in blue)… Read More