20 Feb 2024

China’s Interesting Times

A few years ago, I was listening to a financial podcast, and the person being interviewed said something like this: “Look, I’ve got a big China overweight in my portfolio. Look how much they’re growing – they’re going keep doing that, and I just want a part of that.” He was clear that he hadn’t done a lot of research on China, but thought it was ‘obvious’ that they were… Read More

21 Aug 2023

What’s Happening in China?

One of the sources of optimism entering 2023 was that China was finally “reopening” after their long and agonizing Zero-Covid lockdown. Not only is the China-related optimism long gone, but markets are increasingly worried about the economic situation there. Although a lot of the news relates to a vastly overindebted property company whose bonds are trading for 35 cents on the dollar, the issues are much greater. First, growth is… Read More

10 Jul 2023

Lessons from the Land of the Rising Sun

When I was in high school, Japan Inc. seemed invincible. Their economy was booming, which pushed up their real estate and stock markets, and a handful of over-the-top events like the purchase of Rockefeller Plaza by Japanese investors and the sale of Van Gogh’s Portrait of Doctor Cachet sold for $82.5 million (or $189.5 million in today’s dollars). From 1970-1989, the Japanese stock market, according to MSCI, gained 16.9 percent… Read More

22 May 2023

Debt Ceiling Crisis in Perspective

Chris and Cliff forwarded me an article last week asking: what would you do with your portfolio if you knew what was coming? The article referenced the still unresolved debt-ceiling situation and proceeded to list many pretty lousy events over the past 30 or so years. It made me think of a chart we made when we started Acropolis with small images depicting awful news with the growth of a… Read More

21 Nov 2022

You might not be surprised to learn that I love investment-related podcasts. I listen to about a dozen of them fairly regularly and am often impressed by the guests they get. A recent episode of the Meb Faber Show featured an hour-long interview with Professor Gene Fama. Fama is probably the most influential academic in modern finance after creating the Efficient Market Hypothesis in the early 1970s and co-creating the… Read More

7 Mar 2022

Russian Exposure in Your Portfolio

Our exposure to Russian stocks is very low, and we don’t have any exposure to Ukrainian stocks. To figure out our exposure, I looked at our holdings as of Friday and found that we have 2.6 percent of all of the money outside of the 401k plans that we manage in emerging markets stocks. Although we hold more than a dozen diversified emerging markets-based mutual funds and ETFs, 92.2 percent… Read More

2 Aug 2021

Emerging Markets Submerge of Late

In celebration of the Fourth of July, I wrote about how we are fortunate to have the freedom that other countries don’t always enjoy. Specifically, I wrote about China and its recent crackdown on Alibaba after the founder and CEO Jack Ma made comments that the government found unacceptable (you can read the article by clicking here). Little did I know that we were at the beginning of a terrible… Read More

11 Feb 2019

Why Bother with International Stocks?

According to data from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), the value of the US stock market at year-end was worth $28.1 trillion – about 55 percent of the market value for all of the world’s stocks, which totals $51.2 trillion. Developed international stocks are worth $17.4 trillion in aggregate (34.0 percent), and emerging markets stocks are worth $5.7 trillion (11.0 percent). In theory, passive investors should allocate their portfolio accordingly. In… Read More

13 Aug 2018

Turkey: Contained or Contagion?

Market risks often come from the most unexpected places. Last week, a possible economic meltdown in Turkey rattled global markets. I wouldn’t have guessed that as recently as a week ago, and while I still think that Turkey won’t affect US markets too much more than they did Friday, I also wouldn’t have thought that problems in Greece would have created an existential crisis for the euro. I am not… Read More

16 Jul 2018

What’s Your China Exposure Amid the Trade Skirmish?

One of the interesting things about the current trade skirmish (I’m not willing to call it a war yet), is that we are fighting on multiple fronts. Even though we have tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, we all know that the primary combatant in this altercation is China. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that we have more exposure to China than ever before,… Read More