18 Jan 2022

Interest Rates & Tech Stocks

On the last day of last year, the 10-year US Treasury closed with a yield of 1.52 percent. As noted above, it closed last week with a yield of 1.78 percent, an upward change of 0.26 percent, or in percentage terms, 17.1 percent higher. Short-term rates have not changed much so far, but the Federal Reserve has indicated that short-term rates could be at or above one percent by the… Read More

20 Dec 2021

Alternatives are Tough

I wrote a lot about inflation in 2021 for pretty obvious reasons. I also wrote that bonds are difficult investments to own right now because the expected inflation rate over the coming decade is more than the current interest rates. After receiving a lot of inquiries about bond alternatives like REITs, utilities, and the like, I wrote an article shooting down those too. This article is a variant on that… Read More

15 Nov 2021

Inflation Runs Hot

This past Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for October, which showed inflation on consumer goods growing at a rate not seen in thirty years. This concerning trend is illustrated in the chart below. The orange line tracks the annual growth rate of the CPI since the 1960’s. This line includes all prices and categories. The white line tracks the same index, but… Read More

1 Nov 2021

The Trouble with Tesla

Over the years, I’ve missed some wonderful returns on stocks that I thought were too expensive. I was an Amazon customer starting in 1999 (you can find your ENTIRE purchase history on the site), two years after they went public. I might have missed ‘the ground floor,’ but I was worried about their valuation. Tesla is another company. I know several people who bought them when they came out, and… Read More

25 Oct 2021

I Finally Bought Bitcoin

Several years ago, I went to the movies and noticed a machine selling Bitcoin in the lobby. I’d read about Bitcoin and thought about buying one just to keep an eye on it. Then, I thought that $3,500 was an expensive night at the movies and just enjoyed the show. A year later, I went back, and the price had risen to $16,500 per coin, and I realized that night… Read More

11 Oct 2021

Before You Invest in Alternatives

Over the past few years, one of the more popular categories of mutual funds has been so-called ‘alternative’ funds. Alternative investments, broadly defined, are strategies that seek returns that are uncorrelated from traditional investments like stocks and bonds. While alternative investments were once largely confined to private partnerships, they are now popular in mutual funds, or what the industry refers to as ’40 Act Funds. Following the 2008 financial crisis, alternative mutual funds… 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

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

19 Jul 2021

How Many Stocks is Too Many?

Warren Buffett once said that ‘diversification is protection against ignorance. It makes little sense if you know what you’re doing.’ I’m a Buffett fan, but this quote always bothered me because we know what we’re doing and we’re highly diversified. The question of how many stocks you need to have a diversified portfolio seems less asked today than it was when we got started 20 years ago, perhaps because you… 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