13 Sep 2021

Inflation and the Price of Milk

The inflation that we all worried about earlier this year is showing up in the monthly numbers. It’s too early to say whether the higher readings are transitory, as the Fed would say, or here to stay. The most recent reading showed that inflation for the 12-months ending in July is 4.2 percent for ‘core’ inflation, and 5.3 percent for headline inflation. What’s core inflation? It’s the headline number but… Read More

16 Aug 2021

What Kills a Bond Portfolio

Even if everything goes according to plan, we are probably stuck with zero percent on cash for the next few years. We’ve been in this situation for so long that it almost seems normal, and with some negative interest rates elsewhere around the world, sometimes zero even seems good (actually, it never does, but negative is just so bad). Earning nothing is so lousy that every once and a while,… Read More

9 Aug 2021

The Fed and the Long Term

Over the weekend, I watched a Front Line documentary on PBS that came out in July, called The Power of the Fed. You can watch it here, although you may have to be a member (like me!). The documentary chronicles the power of the Federal Reserve, with particular attention to the bond-buying program called quantitative easing that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. The documentary makes the case that the… Read More

2 Aug 2021

Emerging Markets Submerge of Late

In celebration of the Fourth of July, I wrote about how we are fortunate to have the freedom that other countries don’t always enjoy. Specifically, I wrote about China and its recent crackdown on Alibaba after the founder and CEO Jack Ma made comments that the government found unacceptable (you can read the article by clicking here). Little did I know that we were at the beginning of a terrible… Read More

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

12 Jul 2021

When You Think One Thing, Think Again

Over the past few months, markets and investors were worried about the possibility of inflation coming back. And, there was and is good reason for concern: the economy is rebounding quickly, finding examples of labor shortages is easy, there is still massive monetary stimulus in place, and there are discussions of even more fiscal stimulus to come. I’ve personally been a little bit skeptical, mostly because I remember all of… Read More

6 Jul 2021

Happy Birthday America!

Over the last few months, I’ve been bothered by what’s happening to Jack Ma, the co-founder of the Chinese version of Amazon, Alibaba, and Ant Financial, the massive digital payments company that boasts the largest money-market fund in the world. I genuinely don’t understand how a Communist country has billionaires, but Jack Ma’s fortune is estimated to be almost $50 billion. Last October, Ma gave a speech that criticized Chinese… Read More

21 Jun 2021

Federal Reserve Changes its Tune

As noted above, the Federal Reserve took center stage last week as they signaled that change is afoot with short-term interest rates. While they did not change interest rates and did not adjust their $120 billion monthly asset plan purchases, they did indicate through their ‘dot plot’ that more members see interest rate hikes in 2022 and 2023. Although I don’t have a picture of the dot plot, I made… Read More

7 Jun 2021

Drawdowns in Retirement

This past week, I was meeting with a client and the discussion turned to the low yield bond environment. The client has a pretty common question – isn’t there something that yields more? The answer is yes, there are a lot of things that yield more than the investment-grade bond market. We could buy junk bonds, emerging markets bonds, or other questionable issuers. These kinds of bonds aren’t inherently bad,… Read More

24 May 2021

Betting Big on the Future

Some of the hottest exchange-traded funds (ETFs) over the past few years come from the ARK family of funds, founded and run by famed investor Cathy Woods. The ARK funds are a series of theme-based ETFs that seek to find the early companies in a variety of emerging fields including robotics, space exploration, genomics, fintech, and 3D printing, among others. I can’t say that I’m very familiar with the ARK… Read More