Let Others Despair

Mike Zaccardi  |  Apr 18, 2022

EXPERIENCED INVESTORS know that the stock market and the economy sometimes diverge. Early 2020 offered a stark example: Even as the economy was still contracting rapidly, stocks started bouncing back.
But right now, many areas of the stock market are doing about what you’d expect. After all the efforts by the Federal Reserve and Congress to prop up the economy over the past two years, rising inflation is front and center, along with rising interest rates. 

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A World of Pain

Mike Zaccardi  |  Apr 4, 2022

INVESTORS ENDURED a lot in the first quarter, including rising interest rates, high inflation, fears about a recession and news of war. But it’s important not to get caught up in the scary headlines. Consider COVID-19. Not so long ago, it dominated the news, but now it’s hardly discussed because the situation is much improved.
No doubt today’s fears will also abate. Indeed, despite 2022’s dire news, stocks staged an impressive recovery toward the end of the first quarter.

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Matters of Maturity

John Lim  |  Mar 29, 2022

KNOWING WHAT RETURN you can reasonably expect from stocks, bonds and other asset classes is valuable because it can help you make more educated asset allocation choices. It also helps you decide how much you need to be saving. If expected returns are low, you’ll need to save more.
Such estimates don’t require extraordinary clairvoyance. In fact, when it comes to bonds, estimating returns is quite straightforward. The expected return from a bond is very close to something called the bond’s yield to maturity,

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Rattled by Rates

Mike Zaccardi  |  Mar 28, 2022

IT’S BEEN A STUNNING quarter for the bond market. According to Bloomberg, short-term interest rates have seen their biggest jump since 1984, as measured by the yield on two-year Treasury notes, which now stands at around 2.3%.
The rise this time around seems especially sharp, considering how low yields were at the start of 2022. Back in the early 1980s, the two-year Treasury yielded north of 10%, versus barely above 0% at times last year.

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Dangerous Curves

Phil Kernen  |  Mar 22, 2022

FINANCIAL MARKETS are full of indicators and data relationships from which we tease conclusions. Few signals grab our attention more than an inverted yield curve and its habit of showing up before recessions. But is this signal still accurate in predicting economic trouble?
When U.S. Treasury bond yields are plotted on a graph, they normally have an upward slope, with short-term yields generally lower than longer-term yields. That makes sense: Lenders demand a higher rate for 30-year loans than 10-year loans because their money is at risk for longer.

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I Won’t Be Selling

Tanvir Alam  |  Mar 8, 2022

I TELL MY CHILDREN that they can’t possibly fathom the amount of information that they have in their hands. I’m part of the last generation—so-called Gen X, those born between 1965 and 1980—who actually had to trudge down to the library and pray it had the information we needed. Today, the internet provides it all in seconds.
I needed to change a leaking bathtub faucet. I’m not qualified to be a plumber. But I looked up a few YouTube videos and,

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Fight That Bias

Mike Zaccardi  |  Mar 7, 2022

FOREIGN STOCKS suffered big losses last week. Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (symbol: VEA) dropped 6.2% as fears about Russia’s aggression came to a head. Losses were most sharp in Europe—iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU) plunged 13.3%. For the year, the U.S. stock market is now slightly ahead of international stocks.
Investors often question whether they should own non-U.S. stocks. The common logic—flawed in my opinion—is that domestic firms offer enough foreign exposure because many are multinational businesses.

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A Creation Story

John Lim  |  Mar 2, 2022

ACCORDING TO GMO investment strategist Jeremy Grantham, we’re in the midst of a rare “superbubble,” which he defines as a three-sigma event. Three sigma is a statistical term in probability, referring to an event which should occur less than 0.3% of the time or about once every 333 years.
Calling a bubble, let alone a superbubble, can be hazardous both to one’s reputation and one’s wallet. Even if Grantham’s call is correct, using that information to make money—or avoid losses—is easier said than done.

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Yields Rising

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 28, 2022

EVERYBODY SEEMS to hate bonds right now. Can you blame them? Inflation is at a four-decade high, the Federal Reserve is sure to hike short-term interest rates two weeks from Wednesday, and geopolitical jitters make owning high-yield bonds all the riskier. On top of that, returns have been awful since the start of 2021.
But maybe we should take a contrarian approach. Almost everybody should own at least some bonds. Yields have improved significantly.

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Time to Invest

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 25, 2022

A FRIEND TEXTED ME yesterday. He wanted my thoughts on putting cash to work given the big stock market decline over the past few weeks. I took my usual approach, saying it’s always a good time to make retirement contributions, and that he should go ahead and swoop in. That was when the S&P 500 was down roughly 2% in the morning. We texted again in the afternoon before the closing bell—and after the market had rallied big.

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Do What Jack Said

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 24, 2022

THIS IS A TEST. This is only a test. This is a test of our stock market resolve. Remember how you told yourself you’d stand pat during the next stock market decline, that you wouldn’t get rattled like you did in 2008-09 and early 2020? That moment has arrived.
Like any person with an ounce of decency, I’m appalled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the unnecessary death and suffering that will result. But I’m also confident that the Russians will come to regret their actions.

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Foreign Affairs

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 21, 2022

NEW YEAR, NEW TRENDS. That theme continues to play out. So far in 2022, the U.S. stock market, as measured by Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (symbol: VTI), is down 9.1%. Brighter conditions are found overseas, despite today’s geopolitical risks. Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA) is down just 4.3% year-to-date, while Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) is up 0.5%.
A sore spot for international investors has been small-cap stocks. Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-U.S.

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Not So Terrible

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 14, 2022

THERE WAS MUCH hoopla last week about high inflation, surging interest rates and geopolitical turmoil. Sure, these are important macro conditions. Still, stocks took things in stride. If you only pay attention to once-highflying growth companies, especially tech stocks, the market appears dire. Broaden your perspective, though, and things haven’t been all that terrible of late.
Yes, the S&P 500 lost 1.8% last week. Small-caps, however, were up 1.5%. Foreign shares were about unchanged.

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Motion Sickness

Mike Zaccardi  |  Feb 7, 2022

JUST HOW CRAZY WERE some of last week’s market moves? The Wall Street Journal detailed how (symbol: AMZN) recorded the biggest-ever one-day market cap gain in stock market history. The largest company in the consumer discretionary sector was valued $191.3 billion higher after posting better-than-expected earnings Thursday evening.
Amazon’s monster move came just a day after Meta Platforms (FB) notched the single-biggest market cap decrease in market history. More widely known as Facebook,

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Wrestling With Rates

Mike Zaccardi  |  Jan 31, 2022

THE S&P 500 WAS UP 0.8% last week. It was a wild ride, with the Volatility Index climbing to almost 40—the highest level in 15 months—as investors grappled with the threat of rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve is steadfast in its plans to aggressively raise short-term interest rates. Bank of America Global Research was the buzz of Wall Street on Friday morning, with its economic team saying it now expects the Fed to hike rates by a quarter-point at all seven remaining meetings this year.

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