14 Aug 2023

Thank You Short-Sellers

Growing up, my best friend’s father was a pilot for Ozark Airlines. He seemed like a pretty happy-go-lucky guy who loved flying and golfing when he wasn’t flying. His demeanor changed markedly when Carl Icahn’s backed TWA bought Ozark. I didn’t understand it much then, but I heard terms like ‘corporate raider’ and ‘asset stripping’ at the time. To my friend’s dad, Icahn was a true villain who borrowed money… Read More

7 Aug 2023

So You Say You Want Alpha: Cathy Woods has Some

Cathy Woods is a fascinating character. Her ARKK funds were the darlings of the pandemic, focused on innovation, and were on fire. Not surprisingly, investors poured money into the funds, just in time for them to collapse. The fact that investors piled in and out isn’t Woods fault. She bought a portfolio of stocks that she believed in and stuck to her style through the boom and the bust. Last… 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

26 Jun 2023

Decoding How the Mighty Greenback Shapes Your Investments

Last week, I was asked to consider writing an article about how the dollar’s strength or weakness impacts a portfolio. I’ve covered it a bit over the years, but I thought now would be a good time for an update, and I’m always interested in writing about what readers want to read about, so I try to address specific issues whenever possible. I will illustrate later how the dollar has… Read More

20 Jun 2023

The McNealy Problem

James Grant is one of my favorite market gadflies. He is the editor of the eponymous James Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, a columnist for Barron’s, and host of the Grant’s Current Yield podcast. Grant is intelligent, funny, and a long-term market skeptic. I’ve heard him say he doesn’t like being described as a perma-bear, but he’s been bearish for as long as I can remember and seems a true gold bug. So,… Read More

12 Jun 2023

The Bond Market is of Mixed Minds about a Recession

One of the things that I hear all the time these days is that the bond market and the stock market aren’t in agreement about whether a recession is coming. Usually, I hear this from someone who thinks that the bond market is right and that the stock market will correct sharply when the recession comes. And in fact, bond investors are giving strong signals of a recession from the… Read More

5 Jun 2023

The Market Has Bad Breadth

The S&P 500 is up 12.4 percent year-to-date as of Friday, which is excellent news. Less excellent, however, is that just a few stocks are powering the entire return. The half-dozen largest stocks in the index are worth about 25 percent of the index, and they are up 67.9 percent on average. They are all up by over one-third, and two have more than doubled. My back-of-the-envelope calculates that the… 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

15 May 2023

America & the PIIGS

A little more than ten years ago, Greece almost left the European Union (EU) because the longstanding structural weaknesses of the Greek economy were hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis. The crisis was called Grexit, which should sound familiar since it was adapted a few years later for the Brit’s departure from the EU. Greece wasn’t alone, though. Several EU countries were in trouble: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and… Read More

8 May 2023

Stock Buybacks: Finding Common Ground Amid Controversy

Companies’ capital decisions aren’t usually very controversial, like paying down debt, paying another quarterly dividend, or upgrading the facilities. Stock buybacks, however, are another story: they generate a lot of controversy. Before getting into the debate, let me take a minute to describe a buyback. When companies have extra capital, they sometimes go into the open market and buy back their own stock, hence the name (although they are sometimes… Read More