I RECENTLY LEFT my fulltime position at an energy trading company. I had a good run and enjoyed the job. It was mainly the people, both my coworkers and our clients.
I also liked the business travel. It broke up the daily routine and put faces to names, plus there were the awesome ribeye steak dinners with clients. Speaking at conferences was fun, too.
But things evolve. To quote Rocky, “If I can change and you can change,
READERS KNOW I love my baseball. There’s an old unwritten rule that, when a pitcher is working a perfect game, nobody talks to him. The position players leave the hurler alone since he needs to be “in the zone.” Fans grow more nervous as the game progresses and the ninth inning draws near. With each passing out, the prized perfect game comes closer into view.
I’m getting the same antsy feeling when it comes to highflying tech stocks.
I STILL CONSIDER myself one of the younger folks at the energy trading firm where I work. The more tenured employees will sometimes talk about the early 1980s, when mortgage rates were north of 10%. “Try paying that down quickly,” they’ll quip, as we watch the 10-year Treasury note yield scroll by on the ticker—at around 0.7%.
I never thought interest rates would stay this low, especially given the recovery since March by both the stock market and many economic indicators.
THE MID-2000s were my introduction to the investment world—and even today my thinking is heavily influenced by what was happening then.
Take a moment to recall the 2004-07 period. Stock prices were marching higher, foreign shares were crushing U.S. stocks, small caps were doing all right and you could get a decent interest rate on your savings account. Good times. Another feature of the mid-2000s market: a big bull run in commodities.
I’VE PREPARED countless meals over the past few months—a result of COVID-19, which continues to have a big impact on daily life, especially here in Florida. Still, I’ve come to enjoy cooking and eating at home has saved me a ton of money.
But not all coronavirus habits have been good for our financial health. That brings me to the (supposed) rise of the Robinhood trader. By now, we’ve all seen the headlines and read the stories.
I RECENTLY WROTE about the market indicators I pay attention to. As a long-term, buy-and-hold investor focused on gradually building wealth, I downplay the importance of day-to-day market gyrations. Nevertheless, I can’t deny my fascination with charts and big market moves.
Back in college, I used to watch CNBC all the time. Now, I rarely have it on. The talking heads are constantly discussing matters that I believe are distractions. There’s a set of indicators that make headlines and are great fodder for financial journalists,
I MISS BASEBALL. I love the strategy and the moments of excitement that come in the later innings. I also like to attend games, watching the interaction among the players and coaches. The third base coach plays a big role, relaying signals from the manager to the baserunners and the batter. If you’re a player, and you miss a signal, it can ruin the next play.
While the stock market has signals, they aren’t as black and white as those in baseball.
MEGA-CAP TECHNOLOGY growth stocks were huge winners during the last bull market and even during this year’s coronavirus crash. But recently, they’ve lagged, while small-cap value companies have posted robust gains.
Indeed, after a decade of lackluster performance, diversified portfolios that contain sizable holdings of foreign, small cap and value stocks have started to perk up. Could mean reversion finally be taking place? Are we at an inflection point?
It could be—or it could be just another twitch in the market,
WORKING ON a trading floor has its perks—or, at least, it did back when we were all in the office, instead of toiling away from home. The trading floor where I work is small, but it still houses perhaps 50 people.
As you’d expect, we have TVs all around, tuned to CNBC, Bloomberg and—my personal favorite—The Weather Channel. My colleagues often talk stocks and portfolios. What’s neat is you get a good sense of investor sentiment being out on the floor and among finance folks who are geared to day-to-day market movements.
THE GREAT RECESSION and accompanying stock market plunge didn’t seem so bad to me. At the time, I was a 20-year-old college student with a little money in a Roth IRA that I’d opened and funded since my high school days. Sure, it was no fun losing half my investment account, but it wasn’t a lot of money—at least compared to today.
In the years since, I’ve fallen squarely into the super-saver category, socking away a large portion of my income.
COVID-19 HAS HIT all of us. Small business owners, especially those with families to support, face great financial risk. Ditto for contract workers and others with little job security. Even those with relatively steady nine-to-five white collar jobs have good reason to be nervous.
Meanwhile, those nearing retirement might need to put their plans on hold. Millennials like me, though we lived through 2008, have more financial responsibility this time around—and sense the gravity of COVID-19 and its consequences.
WE LOVE TO procrastinate. Have you done your taxes yet? IRS data show that nearly a quarter of Americans wait until the last two weeks of tax season to file. It often feels like that nagging task that grows more arduous each year, though the result for many is a juicy refund.
The average federal tax refund is more than $2,800, so it can pay to get your taxes done sooner rather than later.
AS A TEENAGER, I started to invest by buying a boring old target-date retirement fund. But from there, I became an avid watcher of CNBC while studying finance in college. Indeed, my first financial love was technical analysis. Even today, when markets turn volatile, I’m as susceptible as the next investor to turning on financial cable TV to check out the supposed carnage.
Still, as time has worn on, my perspective has grown longer term and away from day-to-day market movements.
MY THREE FAVORITE words in response to questions about investing and trading: “I don’t know.”
Nothing underscores that sentiment more than bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. I work on a trading floor, where it pays to have an opinion on just about every tradable asset. But I’m the oddball on the floor. I roll my eyes when I hear blanket market predictions and the latest hot stock tip. I’m even on a personal crusade to remove CNBC from the TVs at work.
A NATIVE CHICAGOAN, I bailed out and am now a Southerner. Or at least a Florida Man. So I attend church each Sunday. If you attend church in the south, you will inevitably hear someone respond to a “how are ya?” with “well, I just keep on keepin’ on.”
With all the fanfare about this bull market, and especially large-cap technology stocks, it can be tough to keep on keepin’ on and stick to your long-term plan.