9 Jan 2017

How Long is the Long Term?

One of the tried and true tenets of successful investing is taking a long-term perspective. Warren Buffet says that his favorite holding period is forever.  He doesn’t always hang on that long, but still recommends that you should ‘only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10-years.’ Regarded academic Jeremy Siegel wrote the buy and hold bible, titled ‘Stock for the long run,’… Read More

19 Dec 2016

Bond Market Fascinations: An Interview

Since the election, interest rates have risen across the curve.  The Federal Reserve raised short term interest rates last week for the first time this year, but perhaps more importantly, longer term rates have also risen, which means falling bond prices. Right now, the Barclays Aggregate Bond index is still positive for the year, but the gains are muted, especially compared to the 5.8 percent gain that they enjoyed just… Read More

5 Dec 2016

Occasionally, the Unlikely Happens

One of the most notable market reactions to the election is the rally in small cap stocks. For the month of November, the S&P 600 Small Cap index gained 12.55 percent, compared to a 3.70 percent gain for the S&P 500 index of large cap stocks.  It was fourth best month for the S&P 600 Small Cap index since its inception in 1994. While the results were definitely a surprise,… Read More

31 Oct 2016

Equity Risk Dominates Your Portfolio

When I describe ‘balance’ in a portfolio, here or in person, I am almost inevitably talking about an allocation that is somewhat evenly split between stocks and bonds.  I don’t have to specify that I am talking about how much money is in each allocation (forgetting for a moment all of the sub allocations). In recent years, however, some investment managers have pointed out that a portfolio that is evenly… Read More

24 Oct 2016

Prerequisites for Alternative Investments

One of the more popular categories of mutual funds over the past few years have 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… Read More

3 Oct 2016

Two Lessons from the Third Quarter

Even though the first day of fall was on September 22nd this year, it’s only when we enter the fourth quarter that I start to think about the changing leaves, shorter days, corduroy pants, flannel sheets and raking the leaves. I do love summer, which I mentally compartmentalize into the third quarter and 2016’s was particularly enjoyable given the strong market performance across the board. The chart below includes the… Read More

23 Aug 2016

Allocating to Risky Assets

What’s the right allocation to a risky asset class like emerging markets stocks? Since the launch of the MSCI EAFE EM index that tracks emerging markets in 1988, the returns have outpaced the S&P 500 by 0.33 percent per year: 10.56 percent versus 10.23 percent.  (All data from Jan 1988 through Jun 2016). As you might expect, the extra return has come with extra risk: the emerging markets index has… Read More

19 May 2016

Yield Curve Swiftly Shifting

When looking at the shape of the yield curve it’s easy to see that a lot has changed. Low yields overall have certainly pinched bond investors and made them look elsewhere for returns, but not all investors are so flexible. For banks who are restricted in terms of the investments that they are allowed to hold, the decision of where in the bond market to invest is an important one… Read More

13 May 2016

Forced Sales are Fire Sales

Acropolis diversifies in more ways than you may realize.  In addition to the well known methods like single company exposure, sector, industry, geography, creditworthiness and asset classes, we also diversify by risk factors. I’ve written about the equity factors that we use (see a list of our primers on size, value, momentum and quality here), but I think it’s also important to note that there are some factors that we avoid…. Read More

11 Apr 2016

Watching Your Fellow Shareholders

When you own individual stocks and bonds, you don’t have to pay too much attention to what your fellow shareholders (or bond holders) are doing. A mutual fund is a little different, though, because the actions of your fellow shareholders can affect your returns, especially on an after-tax basis. Morningstar reported last week that of their 500 most widely followed mutual funds, 168 have seen outflows of more than 10… Read More