22 Apr 2019

The Secret to Yale’s Success

I’ve written about David Swensen and the Yale Endowment several times over the years (here and here, for example) because i find both fascinating. I first learned about Swensen in 2005, when he was heralded ‘Yale’s $8 Billion Man’ upon the 20th anniversary of taking over the endowment.  The performance during that period was remarkable: 16.1 percent versus the S&P 500, which earned 11.9 percent during the same time frame. … Read More

25 Feb 2019

When Warren Buffett Speaks, I Listen

Every year, the investors and the financial media eagerly await Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders, and this year was no exception. I didn’t start reading them until four or five years ago, although I once read book that reorganized his letters by topic rather than chronology.  Each year, I like to think that I’ll go back and read his letters, which can be found here, on Berkshire’s hilariously antiquated website – but I… Read More

11 Feb 2019

Why Bother with International Stocks?

According to data from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), the value of the US stock market at year-end was worth $28.1 trillion – about 55 percent of the market value for all of the world’s stocks, which totals $51.2 trillion. Developed international stocks are worth $17.4 trillion in aggregate (34.0 percent), and emerging markets stocks are worth $5.7 trillion (11.0 percent). In theory, passive investors should allocate their portfolio accordingly. In… Read More

28 Jan 2019

Lessons From the Shutdown

The big news on Friday was an agreement between The White House and Congressional leaders to reopen the government until mid-February to allow border negotiations to continue. Whatever you feel about President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, the shut-down, ‘The Wall,’ or any other hot-button that’s sure to upset someone, there is a salient, non-partisan lesson that’s worth noting: the importance of either maintaining an emergency fund or sufficient liquidity. Although financial… Read More

6 Aug 2018

More Tax Cuts to Come?

There’s apparently plan floating around Washington that would dramatically change capital gains taxes, in my opinion, for the better. I try to be impartial about political matters (not always successfully, according to some readers), so for now, I want to leave aside the debates about whether the plan only benefits the rich, inappropriately adds to the deficit or whether it should be an act of Congress or a rule change… Read More

16 Jul 2018

What’s Your China Exposure Amid the Trade Skirmish?

One of the interesting things about the current trade skirmish (I’m not willing to call it a war yet), is that we are fighting on multiple fronts. Even though we have tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, we all know that the primary combatant in this altercation is China. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that we have more exposure to China than ever before,… Read More

29 May 2018

Don’t Get Greedy!

I read an interesting thought experiment the other day.  The question posed was simple enough: if you knew how much a stock was going to rise in a given year, how much would you bet on it? Taking it another step, if you knew that the stock was going double in a year, would you borrow money and leverage your return?  If so, and forgetting margin requirements, how much would… Read More

22 Nov 2017

The Curve is Falling… The Curve is Falling!

The yield curve has been a very hot topic lately in the financial news media.  Multiple times a day, there are commentators pointing to the yield curve as a sign that markets are on the verge of imploding.  Is it time to panic? The Federal Reserve has continued to push short term rates higher throughout 2017.  Long term rates have responded by falling 10 bps.  This has led to a… Read More

20 Nov 2017

The Bucket Approach

In my mind, the word ‘bucket’ should be banned from the investment industry because it brings to mind the ‘bucket shops’ where unlicensed hacks in boiler rooms cajole unwitting investors into pump and dump schemes. Despite my view about this word in this industry, it seems to be what we as a group have settled on for a particular retirement planning strategy (I’m not a fan of smart beta either,… Read More

25 Sep 2017

Changes to the Missouri Most 529 Plan

I received a package from Missouri Most last week highlighting a change to the college savings plan. For those investors, like me, that use the age-based options, Vanguard is expanding the stock/bond options to make the journey a little smoother for investors. Currently, there are five age categories, starting with zero to five years old, then six to ten years old, 11-15 years old, 16-18 years old and for 19-year… Read More