31 May 2022

A Look at Bear Markets, Part II

What a difference week makes! Last week, with the market down -18.2 percent from its all-time high and dipping into bear market territory at some points during the day, it felt like a bear market was a sure thing. Of course, it may still happen, but with stocks now down -12.8 percent, it doesn’t feel as imminent. Last week’s article focused heavily on bear markets, almost to the point of… Read More

23 May 2022

A Look at Bear Markets

Even though the S&P 500 closed flat on Friday, it was down substantially in the middle of the day, down -2.3 percent in the late morning. At that moment, the S&P was down more than 20 percent from the all-time high set in January. Since a bear market is generally defined as a -20 percent decline from the recent peak (also called a drawdown), a lot of digital ink was… Read More

16 May 2022

Pricing Lessons from Private Investments

Investment strategies can be trendy. After the tech bubble, real estate investment trusts (REITs) were the rage. Then, just before the 2008 financial crisis, fundamental indexes, which weight stock positions by fundamentals like earnings, took hold. After the 2008 crash, managed futures and other alternatives were all the buzz. Then, it seems like the world couldn’t have enough factor funds. Now, the hottest thing going in the investment business are… Read More

9 May 2022

The Week When Not Much Happened?

The volatility last week was startling. The S&P 500 was up 2.99 percent on Wednesday but then fell -3.56 on Thursday. It was just as startling as the week before, when the S&P 500 rose 2.47 percent on Thursday, only to fall by -3.63 percent on Friday. Or the week before that, when stocks rose 1.61 percent on Tuesday and fell -1.48 percent on Thursday and -2.77 percent on Friday…. Read More

2 May 2022

Ben Franklin on Volatility

I’ll bet you know the old Ben Franklin saying that ‘the only things certain in life are death and taxes.’ While those things are certain, there is, thankfully, much more to life. A full life will mean different things to different people, but there are probably common elements that include family, friends, good health, prosperity, spiritual wellbeing, and fun, among other things. We also know that life can be difficult…. Read More

18 Apr 2022

Socially Responsible Investing

There is a lot of hype in our industry about ESG investing, which is the new way to talk about socially responsible investing (SRI). The new name, ESG, stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. The last time I wrote about socially responsible investing was in 2014, and you can read the article here. I wrote that we don’t use ESG funds (which I called SRI back then) unless clients direct… Read More

11 Apr 2022

Economists Estimate the Probability of Recession

In the market summary above, I referenced the fact that the yield on the ten-year Treasury note is back above the yield on the two-year Treasury note. There was a relatively brief period where that wasn’t true, and a lot of consternation in the media and among investors that the inverted yield curve (when the shorter-term yield is higher than the longer-term yield) meant a recession was coming. In my… Read More

28 Mar 2022

Stagflation & Misery

The term ‘stagflation’ hasn’t been part of our everyday vocabulary for years, but I am seeing it more and more, and Google Trends confirmed my casual observation. Stagflation, a portmanteau of stagnation and inflation, is defined by Wikipedia as a period where ‘the inflation rate is high, economic growth rate slows, and unemployment is steadily high.’ The thrust of the articles that I am seeing argue that we’re already in… Read More

21 Mar 2022

Visualizing Market Losses Today

I’ve been accused of repeating myself, and, in truth, it’s a fair accusation. Today I want to show a chart that I’ve shown before. Instead of showing the total growth of the stock market over time, where the good drowns out the bad, I want to highlight the bad. I don’t want to scare anyone; I actually think it’s reassuring. The measure I’m showing is called a drawdown, which shows… Read More

14 Mar 2022

The High Cost of Hedging

When markets are falling, clients often ask about whether certain ‘risk mitigation’ strategies make sense. Mitigation isn’t a word you use every day unless you’re a lawyer or in the insurance industry, but the meaning is simple: it is an action that reduces the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something. Usually, when someone talks about it from an investment standpoint, they usually mean some kind of complicated hedging strategy. Over… Read More