19 Jul 2021

How Many Stocks is Too Many?

Warren Buffett once said that ‘diversification is protection against ignorance. It makes little sense if you know what you’re doing.’ I’m a Buffett fan, but this quote always bothered me because we know what we’re doing and we’re highly diversified. The question of how many stocks you need to have a diversified portfolio seems less asked today than it was when we got started 20 years ago, perhaps because you… 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

15 Mar 2021

Sensational Small-Caps

Over the last six months or so, small-cap stocks have enjoyed one of their strongest periods of relative performance in history. In the five months that ended in February, the S&P 500 is up 14.1 percent, which is a terrific return, but the S&P 600 Small-Cap index, is up 50.3 percent, which is tremendous. This month isn’t over, so it’s too soon to say for sure, but as of Friday,… Read More

17 Dec 2018

What’s Driving the Market Lower?

Stocks are suffering for two basic reasons: slowing global growth and tightening central bank policy.  While both of these rationales are true, they’re also very generic. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to look at the big sectors driving the market performance and try to describe what’s happening in each one for a little more granularity. There are 11 sectors, and I won’t be discussing all of them, because… Read More

23 Jul 2018

Whither Value? Ask Warren Buffett

I feel as though I’ve written this article a few too many times: value investing is struggling. Pioneered by Warren Buffett’s mentor Benjamin Graham, value investing is the method of buying stocks inexpensively, with the hope that the current problems that’s causing the cheapness pass, and the stock will rebound sharply. Decades into Buffett’s illustrious career, finance academics found that the process of buying cheap stocks led to higher than… Read More

12 Mar 2018

Busting Another Wall Street Myth

Over the last few months, I’ve read multiple articles making the claim that the correlation between stocks and bonds is shifting and that the new relationship will negatively impact portfolios. One recent Bloomberg article, titled ‘Easy Allocation Models ‘Doomed’ as Diversification Breaks Down’ really set me off and caused me to take a closer look at some of these claims. The thrust of the claim is that the recent negative… Read More

4 Dec 2017

The Crazy Thing? Stocks Could Go Much Higher

Long time readers know that I’ve been cautious on US stocks for some time, calling them overvalued in 2014. Last year, I referred to a quote from Sir John Templeton, who famously said that ‘Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die in euphoria.’ I said then that I could see the rally continuing on for years but that we were probably moving from… 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

29 Aug 2017

Forecasting Expected Returns

“Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get.”  -Warren Buffet How can investors know the value of an investment?  Bond yields remain very low and stocks continue to climb higher across the globe.  Using typical valuation measures, markets everywhere look very expensive.  However, investors continue to pour money into them, so they must see value.  The value of an investment is subject to an uncertain future, so how… Read More

17 Jan 2017

I am a Capitalist

Last week, I had a very enjoyable meeting with a valued client and long-time reader.  In the meeting, he said that I should publish some of my old Daily Insights now and again, something I plan to do from time to time when I don’t have an idea (like now) on periodic Throwback Thursdays.   The commentary below dates back to August, 2011, when stocks lost more than 15 percent… Read More