6 Jun 2022

The Second-Most Important Element of Retirement Planning

I’ve focused on bear markets for the last two weeks because the stock market briefly dipped into bear market territory a few weeks ago. Since then, markets have recovered some of what was lost, although there is still a way to go to get back to even. One of my colleagues pointed out that as long as your portfolio could reliably provide the cash flow that you need to live… 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

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

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

7 Mar 2022

Russian Exposure in Your Portfolio

Our exposure to Russian stocks is very low, and we don’t have any exposure to Ukrainian stocks. To figure out our exposure, I looked at our holdings as of Friday and found that we have 2.6 percent of all of the money outside of the 401k plans that we manage in emerging markets stocks. Although we hold more than a dozen diversified emerging markets-based mutual funds and ETFs, 92.2 percent… Read More

7 Feb 2022

The S&P 500: An Increasingly Concentrated Bet

Over the weekend, I was looking at some research from JP Morgan that showed the percentage weight of the top ten stocks in the S&P 500 over time, and I admit that I was surprised. When we started Acropolis, 20-years ago in August, the top ten stocks made up about 24 percent of the index. I thought that was pretty high back then and was one of the reasons that… Read More

31 Jan 2022

Market Froth Turning Flat

Markets have been testing the Fed ever since Chair Powell indicated that rates are headed higher and their balance sheet will start shrinking. There’s nothing new about this. In the 1980s, then-Fed Chair Alan Greenspan responded to the stock market crash with monetary policy. Ever since then, markets have believed, with increasing strength, that the Fed would bail out the market. In fact, the phenomenon was given a name: the… Read More

10 Jan 2022

The Fed’s Policy Pivot: Higher Rates Ahead

The big story last week was Federal Reserve’s hawkish tone. In fact, though, the Fed’s pivot started a few weeks ago, but last week solidified it through the release of the minutes from their December meeting. There are two key factors that investors are watching: what the Fed plans to do about their bond-buying program known as quantitative easing (QE) and their plans for short-term interest rates. Regarding short-term interest… Read More

3 Jan 2022

The S&P 500 Doubled in Three Years. Now What?

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat again what Carly Simon sang in her 1971 hit Anticipation: “These are the good old days.” WE now have 96-years of high-quality market data, and a quick look at the numbers showed a few interesting things: The nominal change in the S&P 500 was in the 92nd percentile of all rolling three-year returns. Inflation annualized at 3.6 percent during that time,… Read More