CHINA’S CRUSHING of Hong Kong’s independence is just the latest aggressive move to raise my hackles—and make me question the wisdom of investing there, as well as in much of Asia. Which puts me in a tough position, since the Pacific Rim represents nearly 70% of the emerging markets indexes.
I hear you saying that politics shouldn’t factor into investment decisions. True, if returns are your only consideration, political and moral issues don’t belong in the conversation.
IT SEEMS THE WORST of this economic crisis may have passed, though the health risks will be with us for some time. What have we learned? For many people, long-discussed financial risks became all too real in 2020.
There are two words that should always be part of our thinking: what if. Those two words aren’t always associated with bad things. What if I win the lottery? I have a plan for that, which varies depending on how much I win and whether it triggers estate taxes.
I LOVE BOOKS by Bill Bryson. If you haven’t read his latest, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, you should.
It’s an encyclopedia of the wonders of the human body. The overriding message, jumping out of every page, is how truly miraculous our bodies are.
Did you know, for example, that you are made of seven billion billion billion atoms? That if you laid all the DNA in your body end to end it would stretch 10 billion miles,
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,
HUMANS ARE WIRED in ways that, alas, aren’t conducive to achieving our financial goals. Indeed, thanks to research by academics focused on behavioral finance, we now have a much better handle on the money mistakes that many of us regularly make. Want to become a better investor? Here are three insights into ourselves, compliments of behavioral finance:
The illusion of understanding. Once you’re aware of this illusion, you start seeing it everywhere,
EVERY YEAR, when spring rolls around, investment folks trot out a favorite catchphrase: “Sell in May and go away.” This is based on the idea that the stock market lags during the summer, as people go on vacation.
While it may sound hokey as an investment rule, it’s hardly the only one. There’s also the January effect, which says that stocks do better just after the new year. Its cousin, the January barometer, stipulates that the market will have a good year if it has a good January.
DOES OUR PERSONALITY help determine our financial success? It seems it does, or so says academic research.
Psychologists have zeroed in on five key personality traits: extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness to experiences. Think of each trait as a spectrum from, say, very conscientious to not at all. Each of us sits somewhere on the five spectrums. Maybe we’re a bit of an extravert, somewhat inclined toward neuroticism, and extremely open to new experiences and ideas.
MANY OF US have found ourselves with free time on our hands. I’ve read that folks are filling their days with shopping, baking, exercising and binge-watching TV. May I suggest another activity, one that may prove profitable?
Over the past few years, I’ve found significant amounts of money in unlikely places. These treasures often come not just with monetary benefits, but also great memories. Here are four places to look:
1. Forgotten savings bonds.
MANY INVESTORS endured their first stock market crash this year. But what if you’ve never before invested in stocks? How do you know what your risk tolerance is—and how do you keep yourself calm?
There are no easy answers. Questionnaires aren’t a great way to find out our risk tolerance. They ask us about hypotheticals when we’re calm, but we act and think differently when the storm hits. Instead, the only sure way to find out our risk tolerance is to weather a storm or two.
MANY MEMBERS of the military live in a crisis-like state. They’re frequently deployed to dangerous places. Their families often have to move every few years.
Today, that sense of crisis is shared by many others. In fact, with 23.1 million Americans unemployed as of April, a government paycheck seems stable by comparison. How can families prep their finances for ongoing economic instability? Here are five of the money principles I advocate in my work counseling soldiers,
FORCED TO SHELTER in place, I’ve used the time at home to organize my finances. I’d already read Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up. But I needed her new book, Joy at Work, to motivate me to organize my digital life. Sometimes, it helps to have a step-by-step guide to prod you to deal with such drudgery. Here are four tips I used to get myself organized:
1. Consolidate fixed costs.
IF YOU HAVE a surplus in your household budget, what’s the best use for it? Does it make more sense to pay down debt or to invest those extra funds? With interest rates at such low levels, this is a question I’ve been hearing with increasing frequency.
Suppose your mortgage rate is 3.5%. If you pay down that debt, it’s like earning 3.5%. By contrast, if you invested in the stock market, your annual return would be uncertain.
WHEN I WAS a teenager and bathroom walls were the equivalent of today’s Twitter, you’d often read that “100,000 lemmings can’t be wrong.”
It turns out that the bathroom scribblers were misinformed and that lemmings aren’t, in fact, given to mass suicide. Still, the scribblers’ confidence in the wisdom of crowds was spot on. If 100,000 lemmings did indeed commit mass suicide, there would likely be a good reason.
Which brings us to today’s stock market.
“TAKE FIVE” is jazz great Dave Brubeck’s most popular and enduring number—but it’s also a darn good piece of decision-making advice.
A few weeks ago, my son was struggling with exams and papers ahead of his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania. Though he would go on to graduate magna cum laude, he was in a dark place. I said, “Imagine a time two weeks from now when you’re back home and can relax,
EARLY RETIREMENT isn’t a common goal among my friends. When I talk about my semi-retirement, many assume I either made a quick buck in the stock market or benefitted from some sort of financial windfall. I counter this misconception by narrating the magic formula: Financial freedom is frugality, multiplied by simplicity, compounded by patience.
My response often seems mysterious until I explain the two basic math concepts behind it. We learn them in school,