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

20 Dec 2021

Alternatives are Tough

I wrote a lot about inflation in 2021 for pretty obvious reasons. I also wrote that bonds are difficult investments to own right now because the expected inflation rate over the coming decade is more than the current interest rates. After receiving a lot of inquiries about bond alternatives like REITs, utilities, and the like, I wrote an article shooting down those too. This article is a variant on that… Read More

15 Nov 2021

Inflation Runs Hot

This past Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for October, which showed inflation on consumer goods growing at a rate not seen in thirty years. This concerning trend is illustrated in the chart below. The orange line tracks the annual growth rate of the CPI since the 1960’s. This line includes all prices and categories. The white line tracks the same index, but… Read More

1 Nov 2021

The Trouble with Tesla

Over the years, I’ve missed some wonderful returns on stocks that I thought were too expensive. I was an Amazon customer starting in 1999 (you can find your ENTIRE purchase history on the site), two years after they went public. I might have missed ‘the ground floor,’ but I was worried about their valuation. Tesla is another company. I know several people who bought them when they came out, and… Read More

27 Sep 2021

Is China’s Evergrande Our Lehman Brothers?

The big selloff last week centered around a massive Chinese real estate developer, Evergrande, which is almost certainly insolvent. Although not many folks around here (including me) had ever heard of Evergrande, the company is the second-largest developer in China and ranks 122nd on Fortune’s Global 500. According to Wikipedia, in 2020, Evergrande reported revenues of $78.4 billion and profits of $1.25 billion, which is a fairly slim profit margin… Read More

14 Jun 2021

Drawdowns in Retirement, Part Deux

Last week’s Insight about the risks associated with so-called bond alternatives with higher yields prompted a lot of feedback, which I always appreciate. Here’s the article in case you missed it. One curious reader asked a great question: what if we allocated some of the bond money to a few of these higher-yielding options? That was enough to send me down the rabbit hole, looking at all kinds of higher-yielding… Read More