29 Jan 2024

Trading Against Cramer Just Got Harder

Last March, I wrote about a new pair of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the bets of Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money, known as much for his bright lights, loud sounds, and yelling as he is for his investment advice or track record (here’s a link to my article). One of the ETFs would short his stock picks, betting that the picks would fall, and the other went… Read More

22 Jan 2024

S&P 500 Enjoys Record (Close Back in December)

Woot Woot! We can surely celebrate that the S&P 500 is back at record levels as of last Friday. I updated a few charts (below), and noticed something interesting – actual investors in the S&P 500 were back in the money in mid-December thanks to dividends. I am celebrating as much as the next guy about the price improvement, but dividends are part of the equation, but they are often… Read More

8 Jan 2024

Amid Soft-Landing Talk, Leading Indicators Still Signal Recession

Last year at this time, I was heartily in the camp that the US would enter a recession in 2023. I’m always fine being wrong (it happens more than I care to admit), but I’m especially happy that we didn’t enter a recession. Part of my thinking is a chart that we will see a later in this Insight that shows the drawdown of Leading Economic Indicators. I won’t bury… Read More

2 Jan 2024

Happy New Year

Perhaps the subject line should have read: Happy Old Year! Today will be brief but take a moment to look at the charts below, which show the return for various stock and bond market indexes in the fourth quarter and for the year that was. The worst major asset class return was just shy of 10 percent, and the best was more than 26 percent – a result that almost… Read More

11 Dec 2023

Visualizing the Labor Landscape

Probably not surprisingly, I follow the major economic data releases, but I often look at charts because I find the charts provide useful context about the new information. Take the nonfarm payrolls release last Friday. Everyone seems pretty excited about the data because it beat expectations and suggests that the economy is holding up reasonably well despite much higher interest rates. The chart below shows the monthly nonfarm payrolls for… Read More

4 Dec 2023

Why We Fear Inflation

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this week and thought about simply starting with a picture of inflation, as measured by the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, the core Personal Consumption Expenditure, or PCE. Like the core Consumer Price Index, core PCE strips out food and energy prices because they are so volatile, but don’t really change the numbers of the long run. Said, another way, they… Read More

27 Nov 2023

Fooling Yourself with Private Market Math

Private investments, or simply ‘privates’ in the current vernacular, are among the hottest investments in recent years. Private investments, which are often considered one of the most prominent alternative investments, means owning securities that aren’t publicly traded. Private markets can include equity (stocks), credit (bonds), and real estate. Each major group has subcategories. Private equity can be venture capital, buyout equity, or growth equity. Credit can mean direct loans, mezzanine… Read More

13 Nov 2023

30 Market Timing Signals that Worked

My subject line is taken from an article written by the PhD Head of Investment Research at Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), but I cheated and left out the second half of the sentence. Here’s their full headline: We Found 30 Timing Strategies that “Worked” and 690 that Didn’t. I guess I’m not above clickbait, but I also don’t have enough space to get the full headline into the subject line…. Read More

9 Oct 2023

Active Passive Word Play

I think that most people in the investment business have at one point, or another wrestled with the question about whether the market is efficient and what you should do about it, regardless of your answer. In simple terms, an efficient market quickly incorporates news and information into prices. It’s easy to find examples of market inefficiency, like when companies added .com to their name in the late 1990s and… Read More

11 Sep 2023

Stock Bond Correlation Changes Aren’t Concerning

Every investor suffered losses last year because the two most basic investment building blocks, stocks and bonds, both lost value. Many of the investment community’s intelligentsia are in a twist because the correlation between stocks and bonds is now positive for the first time in two decades. They say, full of sound and fury, that bonds offer less diversification now that the correlation is positive. My goal today, without getting… Read More