5 Dec 2022

The Risk of Stagflation

Way back in March, I wrote about stagflation, an economic state with high inflation, unemployment, and slow economic growth. I grade my own articles on a curve, and I give that one a C because I didn’t talk much about stagflation, instead writing about the related Misery Index. Two or three weeks ago, I saw a thematic ETF launched that is designed to benefit from periods of stagflation which got… Read More

28 Nov 2022

Feeling Custodial Joy

I’ve used the word ‘schadenfreude’ at least three times over the years because I think it’s funny and all too real. It’s a German word that refers to the pleasure that we feel when witnessing someone else’s misfortune. I’m not proud of the feeling, but it came up recently with respect to the FTX crypto-exchange blowup and the general crypto-related losses of late. Although I’ve never really understood the appeal… Read More

21 Nov 2022

You might not be surprised to learn that I love investment-related podcasts. I listen to about a dozen of them fairly regularly and am often impressed by the guests they get. A recent episode of the Meb Faber Show featured an hour-long interview with Professor Gene Fama. Fama is probably the most influential academic in modern finance after creating the Efficient Market Hypothesis in the early 1970s and co-creating the… Read More

14 Nov 2022

Good News for Stocks & Bonds (Less so, for Crypto)

Stocks were sharply higher last week, more than erasing the prior week’s declines. Although Wednesday suffered a tough selloff of more than two percent, Thursday’s 5.6 percent rally and Friday’s 0.9 percent move higher took the S&P 500 Total Return for the week to 5.9 percent. The big move is easily attributed to the better-than-expected Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) index, which was finally a step in the right direction (more… Read More

7 Nov 2022

We Planned For This

Since this bear market started, I’ve concluded several articles by saying that we’ve planned for this. When I say this, I don’t mean that we predicted what would happen this year or why – we didn’t. I mean that we’ve planned for this in two ways. First, we knew that the returns this year were possible, and second, we’ve included bad returns in our financial planning models to estimate the… Read More

17 Oct 2022

Low Volatility Investor Expectations

These are trying times for investors. We all know that markets are risky, and there are extended periods of bad times, but historically, the good times have more than offset the bad times, and the risks have been worth taking. In an attempt to ease the pain of down markets, some investors have pursued what is commonly called low-volatility funds. Other names for similar strategies include minimum variance and minimum volatility, but… Read More

3 Oct 2022

Returns: Before, During and After Recessions

My article from last week, which you can read here, prompted a few people to ask derivations of, “Why don’t we sell our stocks – or at least reduce them – until the recession is over and sidestep some losses?” It’s an understandable question, but it makes me uncomfortable because I have some powerful memories of the 2008 global financial crisis when clients who bailed out of the market still felt… Read More

26 Sep 2022

Fed Indirectly Signals Recession

When the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week, they also published their Summary of Economic Projections, which you can find here. You won’t find the word ‘recession’ in the document, but there is a pretty strong signal that the Fed thinks a recession is on the horizon in 2022. The second page includes a nice table that shows what the Federal Reserve Board members and presidents estimate for economic… Read More

19 Sep 2022

Core Inflation Knocks Market

Stocks sold off sharply this week, as noted above, mostly because markets had anticipated good news on the inflation front and didn’t get it. When I first saw the release, I thought it looked pretty good because the headline rate of inflation was only a tenth of one percent for the month, which brought the rolling one-year rate down to 7.8 percent.  While 7.8 percent is still far too high,… Read More

29 Aug 2022

The Word From Jackson Hole

In the 1970s, the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City put on a series of three-day symposiums and invited economists, central bankers, and journalists to the Great American West to discuss the day’s topics. Former Fed Chair Paul Volker, who famously broke the back of inflation, liked to fly fish, so he steered the conference to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1981, where it’s stayed ever since. The event became a… Read More