WHAT’S THE BIGGEST threat to your retirement?
For young adults, we know a key pitfall is failing to invest in stocks because they’re so afraid of the market’s short-term ups and downs, thus unwittingly risking impoverishment later in life.
But for those of us nearing retirement, the market’s ups and downs can start to matter more than stocks’ long-term inflation-beating performance. An ill-timed market crash or a run of bad annual returns could ruin our retirement plans.
DON’T LOOK NOW, but value is beating growth—just not here in the U.S.
From May 31 through Sept. 29, iShares MSCI EAFE Value ETF (symbol: EFV), which invests in developed foreign markets, is up 5.6%, while iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF (EFG) is down 6.5%. That brings the year-to-date performance of the two funds to 9.6% for the iShares value fund and 4% for the iShares growth fund. Meanwhile, the style-neutral iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) is up 6.9% in 2023.
I ONCE DREAMED OF writing for one of the high-profile personal finance magazines—but that was before I had a rude awakening about the “journalism” they sometimes committed.
As a mid-career business journalist at a respectable daily newspaper, teaching myself about investing, I had looked up to these magazines, then in their heyday, and viewed them as a career possibility.
My worlds came together one day when a top magazine ran a story touting the stock of the electric utility that served my area.
EXPERTS HAVE LATELY been recommending that investors shift some money from short-term bonds—which offer the highest yield these days—to longer-term issues, whose prices are more sensitive to interest rates.
Had I followed this advice—and I almost did—I’d have quickly lost money in what’s supposed to be the safe part of my portfolio. Bonds did indeed rally from their October 2022 lows, but have pulled back since early May. Vanguard Intermediate-Term Treasury ETF (symbol: VGIT) was down 4.2% from its May 4 peak through last Friday,
IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you’re always tempted to do something with your portfolio.
How should I invest if inflation stays high? What if interest rates come down? Am I well-positioned for that? Do bonds offer a better risk-reward than stocks right now and, if so, should I adjust my long-held stock-bond mix?
There’s been recent research and commentary, including two pieces from HumbleDollar’s Adam Grossman that you can find here and here,
NEW MORNINGSTAR research on bond funds echoes what the late Jack Bogle preached—and proved—for decades: Costs are the greatest predictor of fund performance, not stock or bond selection prowess. In investing, you get what you don’t pay for, said Bogle, Vanguard Group’s founder and creator of the first index mutual fund.
There’s a school of thought that claims it’s easier for active bond fund managers to beat their indexes than it is for their stock fund colleagues.
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL for mega-cap tech, meme stocks and cryptocurrencies. And the bond market is starting to party again, too. True, the financial markets have pulled back in the two trading days since Friday morning’s strong jobs report. Still, year-to-date performance has been startling.
Investor’s Business Daily reported recently that just 10 stocks, including Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Alphabet (parent of Google), Nvidia, Microsoft and Meta (parent of Facebook), have accounted for half of the S&P 500’s 7% year-to-date rally.
INVESTING CAN AND should be simple—and yet sometimes I make it so hard. Blame it on my ego and a faulty belief in my ability to pick winners among exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and, once in a while, individual stocks.
Problem is, I’ve had a few things go my way this year. Now that know-it-all feeling is rearing its ugly head again—“hey, I can pick stocks and sectors”—even though it’s hurt me badly in the past.
A NEW RESEARCH report confirms that there are darn few reasons to consider an actively managed fund over an index fund—and, indeed, this year’s bear market has made the case for active funds even weaker.
Remember active fund managers, those stars of TV and magazines in days of yore? Purportedly, they could beat their relevant indexes by buying the best-performing stocks and bonds, shifting sector and country weights, and sidestepping market pitfalls. That notion seems almost quaint today—because it’s been proved so thoroughly and repeatedly wrong.
BEING MECHANICAL and unemotional is a poor way to live life. But when investing, it just might make you richer.
Through this year’s stock market turbulence, I’ve been even keeled. My reaction to the plunging bond market has been more agitated, as I wrote about here and here. The fact is, while I’m convinced the stock market will rebound, I don’t have the same belief in bonds.
Armed with my faith in stocks, I’ve adopted a mechanical approach to investing,
SOMEBODY OUT THERE is buying and holding longer-term bonds—but you probably shouldn’t. Yes, they’ll notch big gains if interest rates fall, but perhaps suffer even bigger losses if the upward trend in rates continues.
To be sure, investors in almost all bonds have been hit this year, with the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (symbol: AGG) down 9.6% in 2022 through May 13. Shorter-term funds have fared better but are also in the red,
BOXER MIKE TYSON observed that, “Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time.”
Well, the bond market has me black and blue and gnashing my teeth. Have Treasury bonds lost their diversifying power in these inflationary times? For decades, they’d mostly held their ground or gained during stock market routs. Not this year.
My longstanding plan has been to invest in conventional short- and intermediate-term Treasury funds to cushion volatility and as a source of money to add to my stock funds when the market tanks.
MUCH HAS BEEN written about the virtues and pitfalls of index funds that weight stocks based on their market value. In theory, every company’s stock market value reflects the collective wisdom of market participants. Apple the biggest stock in the world? Must be for good reasons, the thinking goes, so it should get a big index-fund weighting.
Well, the market cap of Russia in the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (symbol: VWO) as of Oct.
THERE’S A SCENE in Three Days of the Condor, that very ’70s, America-in-decline movie, where the CIA is the bad guy and Robert Redford’s character is in danger of imminent extinction.
Max von Sydow’s character Joubert—the Alsatian assassin—warns him that he has “not much future.” Then he calmly describes how the CIA will come for him.
“It will happen this way,” Joubert says. “You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring.
WE OFTEN WRITE at HumbleDollar that saving and investing aren’t everything. Spending money on the right things—such as fulfilling experiences—can also be a great investment, especially if the dollars bring ample happiness.
Nearly seven years ago, I thought I’d wasted $4,000 on a foreign trip. But the law of unintended consequences has since worked in my favor.
The 2015 trip was supposed to be an investment in my career. I thought I could make a difference in the world and become a freelance foreign correspondent.