Staying the Course

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 18, 2023

WHAT DO WALL STREET analysts, magazine editors, economists and academics have in common? They’ve all found it virtually impossible to make accurate market forecasts. That’s why Vanguard Group founder Jack Bogle gave this advice to investors: When markets go haywire, “Don’t do something. Just stand there.”
Warren Buffett has given the same advice. In 2008, here’s how he explained it: “In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts;

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Two Dollars to Win

Larry Sayler  |  Jun 12, 2023

PEOPLE WHO INVEST in the stock market and people who bet on horses both hope to win. I expected the efficiency and behavioral finance factors that rule the stock market to have similar effects on horse betting. Instead, I found just the opposite.
The story begins 40 years ago. A few years after we were married, I suggested to my wife that we spend a day at the fabled Saratoga Race Course in Upstate New York and watch the thoroughbreds run.

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Running in Place

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jun 11, 2023

A WHILE BACK, I WAS speaking with a mutual fund manager. In describing one of his fund’s stocks, he noted, “I owned it for a while, then I sold it, but then I bought it back.” It was a surprising comment since frequent trading is, in most cases, unproductive. Indeed, Warren Buffett has often said that his preferred holding period for an investment is “forever,” and many see that long-term mindset as crucial to his success.

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Slicing the Apple

John Yeigh  |  Jun 11, 2023

THE DOUBLE-DIGIT recovery by the S&P 500-stock index this year has been driven almost entirely by seven mega-cap stocks: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Tesla and Nvidia. In fact, these seven stocks now comprise more than 25% of the index.
Since our family is heavily invested in a mix of the S&P 500, U.S. technology and growth funds, plus some individual tech stocks, I began to worry about our portfolio’s investment concentration. I tallied our positions in these seven stocks across all our accounts.

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Cheapskates Win

William Ehart  |  Jun 2, 2023

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.

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Skill or Luck?

Philip Stein  |  May 26, 2023

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB has written a trilogy on the topic of chance: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan and Antifragile. I didn’t find these three books to be easy reading, plus Taleb has strong opinions, which may turn off some readers. Still, there’s a host of investment lessons to be culled from his works.
Taleb argues that randomness plays a powerful role in financial markets and,

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I Buy, I Sell

Richard Connor  |  May 18, 2023

SERIES I SAVINGS bonds have garnered a lot of press over the past year. Thanks to higher inflation, these bonds have become a lot more attractive. Although savings bonds have historically been a go-to gift for birthdays, baptisms and bar mitzvahs, they’re more complicated than you might think. I bonds have a number of features that can confuse the average investor, me included.
Series I savings bonds, or I bonds, are designed to protect an investor from losing money to inflation.

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Needles in Haystacks

Adam M. Grossman  |  May 14, 2023

LOOK AT THE STOCK market, and you’ll see that certain stocks often do better than others. Technology shares have been standout performers over the past 10 years, and health care stocks have done very well.
But research has also found that certain types of stocks have done better than others. Smaller-company stocks, for example, have outpaced those of larger firms. In the academic literature, characteristics like this, which are correlated with outperformance,

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The Price Isn’t Right

Steve Abramowitz  |  May 4, 2023

YOU’VE PROBABLY HAD the same experience I’ve had when shopping for clothes. Spring’s in the air—a great time to take advantage of the local clothing store’s annual winter clearance sale. You buy that Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater at 20% off and jaunt home basking in glory. But the next day, while out for a walk, you peek at the store’s window display and see the same sweater, but now marked down 30%. You return home bemoaning your impulsivity.

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Healthy Choices

Steve Abramowitz  |  Apr 25, 2023

YOU’VE PROBABLY never heard of Carolyn Lynch. Shopping for groceries, she noticed a new display of panty hose packaged in colorful plastic eggs. She bought a pair, tried them on and loved them. She told her husband, Peter Lynch, the celebrated manager of Fidelity Magellan Fund and vocal advocate of “investing in what you know.” He promptly bought the stock. L’eggs became one of the most successful women’s consumer products of the 1970s.
I recently had my own L’eggs moment.

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Changing My Mind

Adam M. Grossman  |  Apr 23, 2023

A FEW YEARS BACK, I related a story about the comedian Joan Rivers. Her daughter, Melissa, likes to joke that her mother was always very consistent. Wherever she was, she would always drive at 40 miles per hour, whether it was on the highway, in a school zone or in the driveway.
This is funny, but it also illustrates a key challenge for investors. On the one hand, it’s important to be consistent. But at the same time,

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Don’t Go Away

Steve Abramowitz  |  Apr 14, 2023

EMBARRASSED BY YOUR impulse to try the “sell in May and go away” gambit? Don’t be. You’re in good company. Selling stocks in the spring and returning in autumn was a favorite pastime of London financiers and bankers, who abandoned the steamy city for cooler vacation destinations. They resumed stock trading around St. Leger’s, the day of the last leg of English horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The tendency of global stock markets to rise less in the six months from May to October,

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Saved by Compounding

Philip Stein  |  Apr 13, 2023

IF I MADE A LIST of all the dumb things investors do, I likely committed them all. I chased performance, sold stocks in a bear market, invested in things I didn’t understand—you get the picture.
Yet, despite the numerous setbacks I suffered before I matured as an investor, I was able to retire comfortably. How was that possible? My conclusion: compound growth. Indeed, I believe compounding is a surer way to wealth than picking market-beating investments.

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Risky Business

Adam M. Grossman  |  Apr 9, 2023

OPEN A FINANCE textbook, and you’ll find discussions of volatility and beta, value-at-risk, the Sharpe ratio, the Sortino ratio, the Treynor ratio and many other quantitative tools for measuring risk. But what should you make of these metrics? Are they an effective way to control risk in your portfolio?
These tools do have decades of research behind them, and they can be useful. But I believe they’re also incomplete. Worse yet, they can be misleading.

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Paid With Pain

John Lim  |  Apr 5, 2023

INVESTING IS PRETTY simple. If you don’t need to touch your money for 10 years or so, a good chunk of it can be invested in a globally diversified basket of stocks, preferably using very low-cost index funds. The likelihood that your stock holdings will have lost money after a decade is quite low, and exceedingly low if your holding period is 15 years or longer. Moreover, your investment is likely to outperform all other asset classes,

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