Category: Investing


Reaching for Returns

7.5%. That’s been the annual return assumption of pension funds for decades. What mix of assets is required to generate such a return? The answer to that question has changed dramatically over the past 40 years. Let’s take a closer look… January 1981 In 1981, short-term Treasury bills were yielding over 15%, near their highest […]

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How the “Buy the Dip” Generation Came to Be

“Buy the dip.” This has been the mantra for an entire generation of investors. Why? Because we are creatures of habit, and during the last 12 years the best habit you could possibly have had as an investor was to stop worrying and simply “buy the dip.” The fact that dips were often followed in […]

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Expectations Are Everything

This is a story about expectations. But first, I want you to read about Company A and Company B… Company A had revenues of $66.81 billion over the last year and net income of $7.14 billion. It was founded in 1912 and has 114,000 employees. Company B had revenues of $851 million over the last […]

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How to Win Any Argument Over Investments

By changing the start and end date, you can win just about any argument over what’s the best investment. Even the age-old battle between Gold bugs and stock market bulls? Yes, even that one. Here’s a guide to winning the argument, first in favor of Gold and then in favor of Stocks… If you’re a […]

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A Time for Prudence?

Investing is never easy, but there’s no denying that the last 10 years in U.S. equities have been a far smoother ride than most of history. How do we define “smoother”? In layman’s terms: higher returns with lower risk. In technical terms, we can look at things like the Sharpe Ratio, which measures risk-adjusted performance. […]

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Put These Charts on Your Wall … 2021 Edition

Put these charts on your wall for reference the next time you think… All-time highs are a reason to sell… It’s “oversold” or “at support” and has to go back up… It’s “overbought” or “at resistance” and can‘t possibly go higher… Investors are rational and would never buy stock in the wrong company because of a tweet… A meme can’t lead […]

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The Two Types of Investors

There are two types of investors: Pundits and Professionals… <> The Pundit thinks they know everything. The Professional knows that learning is infinite. <> The Pundit makes subjective predictions. The Professional makes objective assessments. <> The Pundit seeks self-promotion. The Professional seeks self-improvement. <> The Pundit exudes hubris. The Professional exudes humility. <> The Pundit […]

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Where Greatness Lies

Investors today are experiencing one of the calmest markets in history: The S&P 500 has posted a positive return in each of the last 7 months (February – August), and has done so with bond-like volatility (5.2% vs. 5.2% historical average for the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate). This is lower than over 98% of historical periods […]

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Not All Risk is Rewarded

“Higher risk, higher reward.” This is one of the most repeated maxims in investing, and the basis of Modern Portfolio Theory. It’s also intuitive: riskier investments should be compensated with a higher return. But what should happen and what actually happens is not always one in the same… It’s May 2006 and Gold is all […]

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The Long and Winding Road to Wealth

As children we’re taught that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Many expect investing to be the same, with high and consistent returns bringing you from point A (starting out) to point B (wealth). But markets don’t operate in the same realm as the physical world. There is no straight line […]

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When Valuation Matters

“But valuation doesn’t matter anymore.” You’ve probably heard that statement in some form or fashion over the last year as we’ve witnessed a rolling series of manias in markets like never before. And indeed it is true – at least in the moment. During a parabolic advance, sentiment and herd behavior easily trump valuation and […]

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2021: The Half Year in Charts

Here are the charts and themes that tell the story of the first six months of 2021… I. The Beginning of the End of Covid-19 The scourge known as Covid-19 started the year at its most prevalent level to date. But the bad news wouldn’t last long. Things were about to change, and change for […]

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Home Bias and the Best Time to Diversify

“Invest in what you know.” A common piece of advice that’s often taken to heart. Familiarity breeds comfort, and the more comfortable you with an investment, the more likely you are to own it. Which is another way of saying that our feelings and emotions are the primary drivers of our investment decisions, not data […]

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The Ultimate Superpower in Investing

Here’s a list of the top 30 stocks in the S&P 500 over the past 30 years… What stands out? The unfathomable returns, a product of time and the magic of compounding. What’s lost in this graphic, however, are the many periods of excruciating pain that anyone invested in these companies would have experienced. When […]

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Demystifying High Yield Bonds

What are high yield bonds? I don’t mean the textbook definition (corporate bonds with a credit rating below BBB), but how they actually behave in terms of risk and return. To explore this, let’s address some common questions surrounding the asset class also known as “junk bonds”… Question #1: Do High Yield Bonds Act More […]

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A Guide to Moving from Cash to Investments

This is a story many of you will be familiar with. You have money to invest that’s been sitting in cash, either from the sale of a business, a recent inheritance, or built-up savings. This is money you don’t expect to need or access for more than 20 years, if ever. You know that cash […]

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Do Low Interest Rates Justify High Valuations?

You’ve heard the story before: Equity valuations are high… Interest rates are low…. Therefore, high valuations are “justified” by lower interest rates. Why? Some say it’s because stocks are simply the present value of their future cash flows. And lower interest rates (r) in the denominator of that equation should result in a higher present value, and […]

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The Golden Age for Bonds Is Over

For 40 years (1980-2019), bond investors in the US earned a rate of return that outpaced inflation, and often by a wide margin: In the 1980s, 10-year yields moved from 10.4% down to 7.8%, and bond investors earned an annualized real return of 6.6%. In the 1990s, 10-year yields moved from 7.8% down to 6.3%, […]

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What Can You Do About High Valuations?

Valuations in the US are high, exceeding all prior periods in history with the exception of the dot-com bubble (March 1998 to December 2000).1 The long-run implications of higher valuations? Lower future returns and higher volatility/drawdowns, on average (see recent post). The natural question that follows: what, if anything, can an investor do about this? […]

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When a Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Don’t miss our latest insights. Sign up here for our free newsletter… 96.8% of stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 200-day moving average. This is the highest percentage ever. When this many stocks are participating in a rising market, many consider it a sign of strength (“good breadth”) and a bullish indicator for […]

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The Definition of Inflation

There is one definition of inflation that seems most applicable to today… “Too much money chasing too few goods.” We are seeing the impact of trillions of dollars in stimulus money chasing a limited supply of goods almost everywhere you look… Financial Asset Price Inflation -Stock prices are at record highs, up 50-80% in the […]

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The Most Important Rule in Investing

“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” – Warren Buffett With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the most important rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.” In fact, the entire notion is absurd. Anyone who has ever invested in the history of the […]

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The 2 Most Powerful Forces in Markets

Momentum and Mean Reversion. The two most powerful forces in markets. Momentum dictates that what has done the best in the past will continue to do the best and Mean Reversion just the opposite – where what is done the worst will eventually do the best, reverting back to its mean. That both can be […]

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Gold’s Worst Enemy

Gold has been having a tough time of late, down 20% from its high last August. With government debt going through the roof and the Fed maintaining the easiest monetary policy in history, many investors are confused by the move lower. This was supposed to be the perfect environment for Gold. So why is it […]

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