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

9 Aug 2021

The Fed and the Long Term

Over the weekend, I watched a Front Line documentary on PBS that came out in July, called The Power of the Fed. You can watch it here, although you may have to be a member (like me!). The documentary chronicles the power of the Federal Reserve, with particular attention to the bond-buying program called quantitative easing that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. The documentary makes the case that the… 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

6 Jul 2021

Happy Birthday America!

Over the last few months, I’ve been bothered by what’s happening to Jack Ma, the co-founder of the Chinese version of Amazon, Alibaba, and Ant Financial, the massive digital payments company that boasts the largest money-market fund in the world. I genuinely don’t understand how a Communist country has billionaires, but Jack Ma’s fortune is estimated to be almost $50 billion. Last October, Ma gave a speech that criticized Chinese… 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

24 May 2021

Betting Big on the Future

Some of the hottest exchange-traded funds (ETFs) over the past few years come from the ARK family of funds, founded and run by famed investor Cathy Woods. The ARK funds are a series of theme-based ETFs that seek to find the early companies in a variety of emerging fields including robotics, space exploration, genomics, fintech, and 3D printing, among others. I can’t say that I’m very familiar with the ARK… 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