Keep Calm and Ignore the Market’s Volatility

Lately, friends and acquaintances have been bringing up the stock market’s volatility in conversation. While it’s always possible for me to be an outlier, I suspect in this case that I’m not. The magnitude of the moves is one reason market volatility is a topic of conversation. I suspect many people still view a 200-point…

 

An Argument for Favoring the Loser Over the Winner Funds

Performance chasing is common in investing. Not investing based on momentum strategies per se, but choosing funds, money managers and newsletters based on recent performance. Institutional investors (pensions, endowments, etc.) are as guilty as individual investors when it comes to looking for the hot hand. Such behavior often leads to worse outcomes than better ones….

 

The Different Types of Risk

Last week’s commentary about how tolerance for risk changes with age prompted a few readers to respond. Most of the emails I received focused on defining what risk is. In the world of finance, risk has more than one definition. Risk questionnaires often try to assess a person’s willingness to incur a drop in a…

 

Risk Tolerances Change With Both Age and the Market

An investor’s willingness to invest in stocks varies with the level of the S&P 500 index and other major indexes. Similarly, in aggregate, older investors tend to be more conservative than younger investors. Neither statement should be a surprise to those of you who have been investing for a long time and/or are familiar with…

 

Tariffs and the Market Environment

As the bull market nears its ninth anniversary, the backdrop is evolving. This year has already seen more days with the S&P 500 index closing up or down by 1% or more than we saw during all of last year. Deflation—a concern not so long ago—has been replaced by worries about inflation and a potential…

 

Warren Buffett on Market Volatility, Risk and More

On my must-read list is Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) shareholders. Even if you are not a Berkshire shareholder (like I am), the observations on the financial markets and investing are often priceless. This is year was no different. Though Buffett’s comments about acquisitions received the most attention after the latest letter…

 

The Size Premium Lives, But Not for All Small-Company Stocks

One driver of stock price returns debated among research papers is the size premium. The size premium—also known as small minus big (SMB)—is the historical outperformance of small-company stocks relative to large-company stocks. The continued existence of this so-called anomaly has been called into question because of the essentially equal returns between small- and large-company…

 

IRAs and an Opportunity for Tax Arbitrage

The new tax law provides a few incentives for taking advantage of Roth IRAs and similar types of retirement accounts. It also preserves the contribution limits in effect prior to this year for both tax-deferred and aftertax accounts. Roth IRA conversions, however, can no longer be undone. I bring this up now because you currently…

 

Volatility, and Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

The return of downside volatility has exposed problems with perception and with certain exchange-traded products. On Tuesday, the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times declared, “Dow’s Historic Drop: 1,175-point plunge—its biggest one-day loss in history—puts the once-roaring 2018 market in the red.” The headline correctly reported how much the blue-chip average fell, but it failed…

 

Two Important Rules Go Into Effect on Monday

Starting on Monday, industry regulator FINRA will require brokers to ask for a trusted contact when an individual investor opens an account or a firm is updating client information. A trusted contact is a person the brokerage firm can contact if financial exploitation is suspected. A brokerage firm may also rely on the trusted contact…