Did You Learn from the Crash of 2008?

Many investors and young potential investors are still scared out of their minds because of what happened to a lot of innocent investors in 2008.  I have heard a few horror stories of people who supposedly lost all of their retirement money because of the crash.  Many young professionals are scared of the stock market because of the stories they have heard from their parents and grandparents.  But is the stock market really the issue, or is bad decision making also involved?

The Horror Story known as 2008

This is what happened to the average investor in 2008, instincts kicked in.  What I mean by that is that the average investor thinks that when the stock market is headed downward, it is going to keep going downward in a never ending spiral until the world ends.  That is just our instinct as human beings.  So as an investor, the obvious thing to do if you believe that, is to take your money out of stocks and put it in bonds, a bank account, or even under your mattress.  But the term that I use for that is selling low.  By the time most investors could get their money out of the stock market in 2008-2009,  it was already down 20 maybe even 40%.    Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Pain and Pleasure

On your statement at the end of 2008 you see that your small US stocks were down 38.67%.  You lost almost half of your hard earned money!  You also notice on the news that long term bonds were up 25.8% during 2008.  What does instinct tell you to do?  It tells you to leave the pain that stocks are inflicting upon you and go to the pleasure of bonds.   But is that really the best decision?

Regardless of what we know happened after the crash, it is ALWAYS a bad decision to sell low, and buy high.  But in the moment it doesn’t seem like that is what you are doing.  So let’s say you sold out of stocks and bought into bonds at the beginning of 2009.  Then at the end of 2009 you get this horrifying statement.  Long term bonds are down 14.09%.  What?  How could this happen?  You then search online and see that small US stocks were up 47.54%!   You managed to lose half of your money while those stock investors who didn’t do anything during this time did twice as good and made their money back.

I personally know people who did this, and their families are now forever afraid of the stock market.   These people blame the stock market when it was really their own emotions and fear that was the problem.   The stock market is way higher than it was before the crash in 2008 and continues to reach new highs as usual.

The Success Story known as 2008

Those investors who saw the largely negative numbers and heard the panic throughout the world, yet stayed disciplined made out like a bandit.   The best investors did exactly the opposite of what instincts told them to do, that is they bought more into stocks when the crash was happening and the prices were discounted, and sold some bonds while they were high.  Those people especially have been rewarded for their discipline.

The Next Crash

We all know crashes are a part of the stock market and are a regular thing.  The stock market has always come back lightning fast after a crash.  So are you going to go with your instinct and panic, or are you going to stay disciplined.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Matson Money. Mind Over Money Powerpoint. Mason, OH: Matson Money, 2 Aug. 2016. PPT

 



How to Pick the Best Stocks

You think you can pick winning stocks consistently, and I’m here to tell you that you can’t. But even if I cannot convince you that you can’t pick stocks, I hope to at least convince you that it is not in your best interest to try. We look at examples like Warren Buffet and see how much success he had “stock picking”. But the funny thing is that Warren Buffet believes that the best strategy for most investors is to buy low-cost index funds.

Bad Advice

The most dangerous advice in investing is often that which seems most practical, which is why the worst investing advice you will likely ever receive is that you should try to pick “good” stocks and sell “bad” ones. Yes it seems very sensible and almost too obvious that you should try to do this. You will get this advice like this from innumerable sources, including a lot of investment advisers, friends, work associates, and most especially Wall Street/investment media. But…You should ignore it.

If you pursue a stock-picking strategy, you are almost certain to lag the market.

Stock pickers always underestimate the number of variables that are involved in the pricing of stocks. There are literally trillions of variables that could occur on any given day that could change the price of a stock instantly. Stock prices are based on every single investor which all have different feelings about companies, reasons for investing, and regional bias.

The big problem for investors is that even though stock-picking usually hurts returns, it’s extremely interesting and a makes for a great conversation. If you are wanting to wean yourself of this bad habit, the first step is to understand why it’s so rarely successful. The quick answer is that the overall market provides most investment returns, not particular stock picks, so stock pickers get credit for gains that came merely from being invested in stocks generally.

Although it is relatively easy to pick stocks that beat the market before costs (just like a monkey you have a 50% chance), it is much harder to do so after costs are added in. So lets say you happen to pick stocks well enough to boost your return by a couple of points, the expenses you rack up along the way (ie. research, trading, taxes) will usually more than offset your gain.

Most stock pickers believe that they are among the 1% of investors who happen to beat the market after costs, and, for inspiration and encouragement, they point to legends such as Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham. But as I mentioned before, such investors often don’t know that even Buffett has said that the best strategy for most investors is to buy low-cost index funds and that the great Benjamin Graham eventually changed his mind to advocate a passive approach to investing.

Stock picking is not only a dangerous activity for you to be involved in as an individual investor, but it is also dangerous to invest in mutual funds that employ stock picking strategies. These stock picking strategies are used in a lot of the mutual funds out there, also known as active investing. These mutual fund managers think they have a crystal ball and can predict the best stocks and drop the worst ones.

The Opposite of Stock Picking

Instead of stock picking, invest in a globally diversified portfolio managed by a low fee investment coach that will help to educate you on the investing process. Instead of constantly turning the portfolio over by stock picking and active trading, buy and rebalance when necessary. Long term you will see the fruits of your decision.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.Blodget, Henry. “Why the World’s Greatest Stock Picker Stopped Picking Stocks.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 22 Jan. 2007. Web. 28 Jun. 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/bad_advice/2007/01/stop_picking_stocksimmediately.html.

2.Stock Market People. Digital image. Opinion-forum.com. N.p., Aug. 2012. Web. 28 June 2016. <http://opinion-forum.com/index/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/stock_market.jpg>.



Is your Investment Advisor a Bully?

Wall Street Bullies are not just found in New York City, they are found in investment brokerages throughout the country.  In fact, your investment guy, might just be a wall street bully.

I explain a Wall Street Bully as an individual or institution that uses fear, greed, intimidation, and misleading information to get an investor to act in a certain way.

The core issue behind all of this is that people that work on wall street make money every time there is a trade made on stock or other security.   Acting like any salesman, it is in their best interest to get people to buy and sell every week, every day, every hour.  But the problem is, actively trading by buying and selling on impulse is not in the best interest of the long term investor.

Wall Street Bullies try to take advantage of under educated and uninformed investors by instilling fear in them and getting them to become short term focused even when they are long term investors.  They create the illusion that they are genius’s that can outsmart the market with little to no risk if you just trust them.  There are 3 main types of Wall Street Bullies as stated by Mark Matson in his book “Main Street Money”.

The 3 types of Wall Street Bullies

The Conman

This is the easiest one to identify, at least after they have been convicted.  Think of Bernie Madoff.  These people gain your trust with a great reputation and promise you great returns with no risk or downside.  If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.  Often times these con men send out false statements showing growth when in reality they are stealing your money.

The way to protect yourself from a con man is to never allow someone to manage your money that does not use a third party custodian to hold the money.  Without a third party custodian, the fox is guarding the hen house.   There were a lot of so called “sophisticated” investors who got caught up in the Bernie Madoff scheme and lost millions of dollars.

The Prognosticator

There is no shortage of self proclaimed genius fortune tellers who will convincingly claim that they know exactly what is going to happen in the stock market in the short term future.  They pull out charts, graphs, economic theories and data galore.  Investing in the stock market would be a whole lot easier if these “experts” really could predict the short term future.  Ultimately they are trying to sell newsletters or get media attention for their hedge fund or alternative strategy they are selling.

If your portfolio needs a prediction about the future to be successful, it is already broken.  If anyone tells you they know what the market is going to do in the next few days, or next few months, don’t walk, run away.

The Guru

These are the sharply dressed people you see on the front cover of any investment magazine.  They are the ones have beaten the market in the past and think they can continue to do it forever.  They are reported to have amazing insights into which stocks are undervalued and which stocks to stay away from.  But the issue here is, there is ZERO correlation between a Guru’s market beating performance in the past and his ability to do it in the future.

Guru’s are the most common form of Wall Street Bully.  Many investment advisor’s, Brokers, and money managers claim to be guru’s who study and pick the best stocks that will beat the market as a whole.  Staying away from them can be hard, but instead, you should work with a investment coach who educates you on why stock picking is not necessary to have a successful long term portfolio.

What should you do?

At Preferred Retirement Options, we call it Bully Proofing Your Portfolio.  Not all investment professionals are Wall Street Bullies.  We help our investors follow the simple rules of investing, which are own equities, diversify, rebalance.  No crystal ball is necessary.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1. Wall Street Wolf Cast. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.M1ee62057658b9c97e8d311a77a7a7d78o0&w=300&h=204&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0&r=0>.
  2. Matson, Mark E. “1.” Main Street Money: How to Outwit, Outsmart & out Invest the Wall Street Bullies. Cincinnati, OH: McGriff Pub., 2012. 3-5. Print.



Are you using Modern Portfolio Theory in your Investing?

Many people are scared of investing in stocks because they have heard that they are very risky.  Then on the other hand you have people who take investing risks that they don’t need to take in order to try to get a higher return.  Well today I hope to answer some questions for people on both sides.

Modern Portfolio Theory

You may have heard the phrase Modern Portfolio Theory but what is it and how can it help your portfolio?

Modern Portfolio Theory-  An idea originated by Harry Markowitz in 1952 explaining the benefits of diversification, and the correlation of risk and return in an investment portfolio.

Harry Markowitz eventually won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research on this topic.  He stated that as you add to the number of holdings in your investment portfolio, your risk should in turn go down.

Two kinds of risk

“Modern portfolio theory states that the risk for individual stock returns has two components:

Systematic Risk These are market risks that cannot be diversified away. Interest rates, recessions and wars are examples of systematic risks.

Unsystematic Risk– Also known as “specific risk”, this risk is specific to individual stocks and can be diversified away as you increase the number of stocks in your portfolio.” 1.

Modern Portfolio theory states that diversification helps to take away the unsystematic risk that comes along with any stock or even category of stocks.

The Efficient Frontier

Below is a chart created by Matson Money using the principles that Harry Markowitz found and taught.  The chart explains that for whatever amount of risk you are willing to take, there is an optimal return that you can get for that risk level.  The level of risk or volatility is measured by standard deviation.

 

2.

There are 5 points on the chart that I would like to explain.  The first 4 are Matson Money portfolios.   The conservative portfolio is made up of 25% stocks and 75% fixed.  Moderate is 50/50, Growth is 75% stocks and 25% fixed, with Aggressive being 95% stocks and 5% Fixed.   Those 4 portfolio types fall on the efficient frontier.  This means that they are diversified to the point of efficiency and reach the highest expected return for the specific risk that you are taking.   Any point that is above that line is impractical in the long term, and anything below the line is inefficient.

Should I Just Invest in the S&P 500?

Notice the S&P 500 is well below the efficiency line.  This means that for the amount of risk that is inherent in that group of stocks, the return is not optimal.   This is due to a few reasons; it only includes 500US stocks out of the almost 13,000 total stocks possible to own in the world, it does not include small or value companies with higher expected returns, nor does it include any fixed income to keep the standard deviation down.  If you wanted you could invest in a globally diversified portfolio and increase the expected return while decreasing the risk.  Keep in mind this chart and data is based on past performance, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The coolest thing about this is that the average investor can invest in a diversified portfolio that fits their risk tolerance by the way it is designed and know exactly what the risk and expected return is up front.

We have software that can take your specific investments and show you exactly where you fall on the efficient frontier.   If you are interested contact us today.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.”Modern Portfolio Theory: Why It’s Still Hip.” Investopedia. Investopedia US, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014. <http://www.investopedia.com/articles/06/mpt.asp>.

2.Matson Money. TheEfficientFrontierPowerpoint. N.p.: Matson Money Inc., 6 May 2014. PPT.

3 Tips for Millennial’s Looking to Invest

When it comes to Millennial’s and their money, most would rather sit on a boat load of cash. They have a sinking feeling that investing in the stock market is like boarding the Titanic. According to a recent Bankrate.com study cited by a recent The Street article, 1.  younger people prefer bank accounts over stock investments. Of course, cash is a low-yielding investment that’s better reserved for retirees who just want don’t want any risk. How does a young person get over his or her aversion to the stock market?

1. Investing instead of trading

One way a young investor can get over their fear of losing money in the stock market is by taking a long-term approach. Trading stocks is not the same as investing in the market. Most of the horror stories of people who lost fortunes occurred because they either “bet” money on a penny stock, or sold out of a crashing market and never got back in for the big run up that always occurs after crashes.  Smart investors contribute a certain amount of money on a regular basis so that they build up shares in diversified mutual funds over time.

2. Not worrying about an immediate reward

A lot of younger people are used to experience immediate gratification because of our highly technical world and consumer-driven society. But investing in stocks can be frustrating in the short term if the market is not climbing at that particular time.  Focus on the long term not the immediate reward.  If you can be patient, there is a huge reward for investing long term in stocks.

3. Diversifying from the start

When trying to figure out how to invest their money, some young people are lost. Their default option is a savings account or possibly certificate of deposits at a bank.  These should not be your default option as they give you very low returns long term.  One way to have a diversified portfolio is by choosing a mutual fund that already includes a variety of different stocks in different sectors and countries and also short term bonds. You can hold highly diversified mutual funds within a 401(k), Roth IRA or many other retirement or regular investment accounts.  With our company there is no minimums to start an investment, and we offer extremely diversified mutual funds, which means you can own over 12,000 stocks as a beginning investor with just a little money to start putting away.

Saving money through a bank account is the equivalent of putting cash under the mattress or burying it in your backyard. Millennial’s are too smart not to find better ways to invest their money.

By Jimmy Hancock



References

  1. O’connel, Brian. “Young Americans Prefer Bank Investments, Not Stock Market.” TheStreet. N.p., 23 July 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2016.

Keep these 3 Rules and You Will Be a Successful Investor

Investing can be very complicated and confusing, but it also can be very simple.  Today I am going to try to simplify investing with these 3 rules.

1. Own Equities

Equities is just another word for stocks.  Why is this the first and most important rule?  Stocks have historically out performed fixed income (Bonds/Money Market/Savings Accounts) over the long term, and that is including the few crashes we have had.  In fact, that battle is not even close, especially now that fixed income has stayed so low the past few years.  Check out this chart which compares the annual return from 1926-2013 of the S&P 500 (Stocks) with Treasury Bills (Fixed Income).

stocks vs bonds

You can see Stocks have outperformed Fixed income by over 6% per year over the long term.  It is obvious to see the long term advantage of owning stocks in your retirement portfolio.

2. Diversify

Diversification, if done correctly, can increase return and decrease volatility (Risk).  Diversification in your investment portfolio is measured in part by the number of stocks you are invested in, as well as the different categories and countries those stocks are located in.   For example, if you invest in the S&P 500 Index, you are investing in 500 very large US companies.  You are not really diversified if you only invest in the S&P 500.

There are many different categories of stocks to invest in.  There is Micro cap (very small companies), Small Cap, Value, Growth, International.  Matson Money specifically invests our clients in over 12,000 stocks in all of those categories throughout the world.

The benefit of diversification is to lessen the risk that any one stock or group of stocks will crash, go bankrupt etc.   The standard deviation (volatility) of your portfolio can also be managed through proper diversification.

3. Rebalance

Rebalancing at a simple level is just buying low and selling high.  If your portfolio is 50% in Stocks and 50% in fixed, rebalancing would keep it that way through many different market swings.  If stocks go up faster than fixed, then you need to sell stocks (high) and buy fixed (low), and the other way around if the opposite happens.

Rebalancing most importantly keeps your portfolio at the risk preference that you choose, and especially helps to reduce risk in down markets.   It can also give your return a slight boost over the long term as well.

Now that you know the 3 rules of investing, you need an investment coach that understands and implements these rules as well.  If you can keep these 3 rules then your retirement portfolio will be in good shape over the long run.

By Jimmy Hancock



Reference

Matson Money. The Market Factor. Digital image. Matsonmoney.com. N.p., 23 July 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <https://www.matsonmoney.com/>.

What to do During a Stock Market Crash

So the stock market has officially had a “correction” over the last few weeks which is a 10% drop from the previous high.  And many people are panicked!  But panicking after a big drop in the market can be very bad for your long term retirement account.  Especially if that panic involved pulling your money (10% less than you had 4 weeks ago) out of the stock market.

This might sound weird but I actually got excited when the stock market took it’s big tumbles over the last few weeks.  I have been waiting for a good opportunity to “buy low” in the stock market.   Yes, now is the best time to put extra money into your retirement investment account.   Buying shares in a time like this is like when your favorite store has a 10% off your entire purchase sale!  Basically, you get the same items for a lower cost.

There are a few reason why I don’t panic when the stock market goes down.

First, I understand that the stock market has always come back from corrections and crashes to reach new highs.   Along with that, I know that the stock market as tracked by the S&P 500 has made over 10% per year on average over the last 30 years.   I often get asked by people, what if it just keeps going down and I lose all my money?   Investing in a diversified mix of over 12,000 stocks makes it very unlikely for you to lose all of your money.  What are the odds that 12,000 companies across the world in different sectors providing different products all go bankrupt at the same time?

Second, I know I am in this for the long haul.  Every investor is at a different place and will use their money for different things.  If you are needing the money you have invested in the next few years, you should definitely not have a vast majority of your money in stocks.  But either way, you can be invested for the long haul.  Even throughout retirement, yes have a big chunk of your money in bonds, but why wouldn’t you stay invested and give your money a chance to grow and keep up with inflation.  Smart people look at investing as a lifelong thing.

Third, I don’t believe that me or anyone else can accurately predict the future.  This is a big one.  I get asked all the time innocent questions about investing and the stock market from clients and others that are all based around predicting the future.  Questions such as, is this going to end up being a crash?  Do you think stocks are overpriced?  How much do you think a diversified mix of stocks will make this year?  When I answer this question by saying I cannot predict the future, people are usually not satisfied.   The great thing about it is that you do not need a prediction about the future to be a successful investor and make money in the stock market.

Lastly, I believe in the phrase, buy low and sell high.  It is usually the hard thing to do at the time.  When the stock market is crashing down and you see the headlines say, this is the biggest drop in the Dow in its history, it isn’t necessarily an easy thing to buy stocks on that day.  On the opposite end, when the market is up for 2 straight years and the economy looks great and the headlines say, this is just the beginning for stocks, it isn’t easy to rebalance your portfolio and thus sell stocks and buy bonds.

Ultimately, we know there are going to be stock market ups and downs in the short term, but if you have a low cost diversified mix of stocks you will be doing alright in the long term.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Matson Money. Separating Myths From Truths, The Story of Investing. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PPT.

Is It Now Safe to Invest in the Stock Market?

All time highs and continued growth in the stock market seem to scare investors.  You can hear fears of a pull back on any media outlet you prefer.  But  Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that investors face is determining if “right now” is a safe time to invest (meaning not just the present, but any time). What makes it difficult for investors is a twofold issue: first, is a lack of historical knowledge and perspective, and second, their own emotions. Actually, if one looks back on an historical basis, it would have appeared that there was no safe period in which to invest. Investors are really funny in this regard (actually most advisors are really no better). In 2009 investors were in shell shock coming out of the 2008 financial debacle. By 2015 it was really too good and couldn’t last. Then came the Trump Election, which people thought would most definitely crash the market.    What investors are looking for is something that does not exist—ever—a “Goldilocks” market!

I’m going to take some historical facts and figures to provide some historical context that may enable my clients to feel more comfortable when faced with the ongoing question of “is it safe.”
The first issue that investors must confront is that there is no such thing as a “safe” investment and this applies whether funds are invested in equities, bonds, government fixed income, gold, real estate, your mattress or in a coffee can in the back yard. Your money is always subject to one form of risk or another. For a more complete discussion on this subject read Main Street Money by Mark Matson. If you don’t have a copy let me know and I will get you one.
In this blog, I’ll confine myself to discussing equities and fixed income contained within a diversified portfolio that is periodically rebalanced, with dividends and capital gains reinvested, because that is what we do with our client’s money. Let’s take a decade by decade look at all the challenges investors have faced.

1920’s
• 1917-23 Russian Civil War
• 1922 Mussolini takes control of Italy (eliminates private ownership, total government control!! Hmm!)
• 1923 Hyperinflation in Germany
• 1926+27 Chinese Civil War
• 1929 Wall Street Crash
• 1929-39 Great Depression
A horrible period to be invested in the market—manic market followed by the 1929 crash. Yet a fully diversified portfolio had $100,000 growing to $135,000 at the end of the decade.

1930’s
• 1932-33 Holodomor Starvation
• 1933 The Nazi Party come into power
• 1933-45 The Jewish Holocaust
• 1935 US Presidential Candidate Assassinated (Huey Long)
• 1935-1936 Italian/Abyssinian War
• 1936-38 Stalin Purges (including Gulag Death Camps)
• 1936-39 Spanish Civil War
• 1937 The Hindenburg Airship Explodes
• 1939-45 World War II
Talk about a horrific period to begin investing? Probably the worst ten year period, economically we have ever experienced. Yet, $100,000 invested at the beginning of the decade grew to $152,000.

1940’s
• 1933-45 The Jewish Holocaust continued
• 1939-45 World War II continued
• 1945 President Roosevelt dies before the war ends
• 1945 Eastern Europe is dominated by Communist USSR
• 1949-1993 The Cold War
What could be a worse time to begin investing as Word War II was starting, followed by the beginning of the Cold War. Let me interject an investment factoid here. The renown international investor, Sir John Templeton made his initial reputation by borrowing $10,000 and buying 100 shares of every stock on the New Your Stock Exchange selling for less than $1 at the start of the war.
If you had controlled your anxiety, like Sir John, and invested $100,000 at the start of the decade, you would have been amply rewarded by seeing that investment grow to $336,000!

1950’s
• 1949-93 The Cold War continues
• 1950-53 The Korean War
• 1951 Mao Zedong takes power in China
• 1956 Suez Canal Crisis
• 1956 Russian quashing of the Hungarian Revolution
• 1959 The Cuban Revolution
• 1959-75 The Vietnam War
This was supposedly the boring decade under President Eisenhower. However, international events didn’t take a holiday and they continued to swirl about us creating many excuses for avoiding the assumption of any investment risk.
Nevertheless, investors who ignored events and invested $100,000 at the start of the decade had $393,000 in their portfolios at the end of the decade.

1960’s
• 1949-93 The Cold War continues
• 1959-75 The Vietnam War continues
• 1961 The Berlin Wall built
• 1962 The Cuban Missile Crisis
• 1963 JFK Assassinated
• 1964 China explodes its first nuclear bomb
• 1967 Six Day Israeli/Egypt War
• 1968 MLK and RFK assassinated—rioting in major cities
• 1969 Libyan Revolution—Khaddafi comes to power
This was the decade where we got to watch both national and international occurrences in almost “real time” thanks to the expansion of television and global communications. An event filled decade both home and abroad. Plenty of excused could be found as to why it was not safe to invest. Yet again, $100,000 invested at the start of the decade produced a portfolio worth $259,000 by the end of the decade.

1970’s
• 1949-93 The Cold War continues
• 1959-75 The Vietnam War continues
• 1970 The beginning of Terrorism in the world
• 1972 Kidnap and murder of Israeli Athletes at Olympics Games
• 1972 President Nixon resigns
• 1975-79 Khmer Rued in Cambodia (Genocide)
• 1979 Saddam Hussein comes to power
• 1979-1981 Iranian kidnapping of U.S. Embassy and diplomats
This decade begins with Vietnam, followed by the Nixon resignation, then the Iranian Embassy kidnapping, and ends with President Carter’s “malaise.” Gas lines, international problems, national embarrassment and a Russian bear looking more ominous.
Yet somehow if one was courageous enough to invest $100,000 at the beginning of the decade, it would have grown to $271,000.

I could go on with the history lesson, but suffice it to say that the 80’s decade rewarded $100,000 by growing to $453,000. In the 90’s it grew to$338,000.
This last decade, which was sort of known as the “lost decade” because of the dot.com/tech bubble, the real estate bubble. This resulted in two severe bear markets. Still investors were rewarded by having their portfolio vastly outperform the underlying cost of living and inflation.
So the lesson for all is that if one pays attention to events, you can always find a reason why it is not a good time to invest—and historically, you would have always been wrong!! I will not say anything about the world we find ourselves in today because we have always found ourselves in difficult times both domestically and globally—there have always been challenges and there always will—it is just the nature of the species.
As to the basic question: Is it safe? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!

By Jim Hancock

References

Source of returns figures for the various asset classes utilized in the hypothetical portfolio: DFA Returns Software 2.0, Feb. 2011. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Performance included reinvestment of all dividend and capital gains.

1.Taylor, Fred. “Commentary: Is It Safe?” Message to the author. 6 Aug. 2014. E-mail.

2. Matson Money. But This Time it Really is Different. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. https://www.matsonmoney.com/

Bitcoin: Are you Missing Out?

Do you suffer from FOMO?  FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  Just about everyone suffers from this in one way or another.  Bitcoin is becoming more of a household word and it’s popularity is exploding. So what is bitcoin, and is it something you should invest in?

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency that only exists in numbers on a computer screen, rather than an actual coin or physical dollar bill. It is a form of international currency and it is the first decentralized digital currency in the world.   You can buy bitcoin from any online bitcoin seller, by trading your dollars for bitcoin.  There are many other types of cryptocurrency now trying to surpass bitcoin in popularity.

Why is Bitcoin so popular right now?

The price of 1 Bitcoin started out close to $1 back in 2011, and now the price of 1 bitcoin is about $17,000. Even just a month ago it was well under $10,000!  That is some pretty extreme price fluctuation and growth.  Also, just recently, trading futures of Bitcoin became available, and ETF’s with Bitcoin are coming soon.

Should you invest in (buy) Bitcoin?

Investing in Bitcoin is much more similar to gambling, than it is to prudent stock market investing.   Yes, if you buy Bitcoin now, you could be filthy rich in a year, but you could also be completely broke too.   There is so many regulatory issues that Bitcoin has not made it through yet, and there have been several instances of bitcoin price manipulation and fraud.

My main suggestion when it comes to Bitcoin is to only use money that you absolutely do not need and could live without to invest in Bitcoin.  If you have the desire and want to try it out, go right ahead, but not with grocery or retirement money.

I have personally been watching the price of Bitcoin over the last few weeks, and the price swings have been pretty extreme on a daily basis.  The price volatility seems to be about 10 times more extreme than the price volatility of the stock market.   For now, most of the price swings have been up.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will hear many “investing gurus” or maybe even radio commercials hyping the potential to get rich investing in Bitcoin.

Buying Bitcoin without actually Buying Bitcoin

The prudent way to invest in Bitcoin, is by investing in a globally diversified stock portfolio.  In this way, you are in turn investing in some companies that buy, sell, and accept Bitcoin.  In this way you take a lot of the risk out of it, and get more steady returns.  Your Fear Of Missing Out senses might not be quenched, but you will be able to sleep better at night.

(Update: From the time I wrote this 2 days ago to now, the price of Bitcoin went up to over $18,000, and is now down below $17,000.)

By Jimmy Hancock

References

Solin, Dan. “Bitcoin in Perspective.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bitcoin-in-perspective_us_5a2fd4e4e4b0bad787127002?utm_content=buffer00ef8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

 

2017 Stock Market Update

The stock market has continued to have success. The big surprise of the year continues to be international stocks. The Matson Money International Stock fund is up 21.89% this year, compared to the Matson Money US Stock Fund which is up just 8.27%. The following is from the Matson Money quarterly update.

“The 3rd quarter of 2017 saw a continued increase in broad equity markets,  both at home and internationally. U.S. stocks grew by 4.48% as represented by  the S&P 500 index, and for a third consecutive quarter, international stocks  fared even better, with the MSCI EAFE index returning 5.47% for the quarter.  After lagging in recent quarters, small stocks surged ahead this quarter, with the MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index returning 7.52%, while the Russell 2000  Index delivered a 5.67% return.

The news cycle over the last quarter was dominated by natural disasters and escalating geopolitical tensions; specifically in rhetoric exchanged  between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The  hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean and displaced millions in Houston were great tragedies that impacted countless people and caused billions of dollars of damage. In times where events such as these elicit powerful negative  emotions and we see the massive damage and hurt that many people are going through, it can be difficult to not let that emotion bleed over into our perception of the overall economy or financial markets. It can seem intuitive to believe that the unexpected loss of billions of dollars of infrastructure and the collateral damage of lost businesses and millions of employees who are  temporarily out of work would have a tangible impact on our overall economy and therefore negatively impact financial markets, reversing the general upward trend.

However, as with many other seemingly logical intuitions  regarding the what’s and whys of stock market performance, this too is not reflected in reality. In both the current market and what we have experienced historically, the stock market has an uncanny ability to shake off bad news and move uncorrelated to whatever else may be happening in the news, in contrast to what people may expect.

When we look at negative catastrophic events that have occurred throughout history, whether it be war or natural disaster, equity markets have on average generated positive returns despite these calamities. When looking at the  subsequent 1-year return from the month in which the following event  occurred: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, the start of the Vietnam War, the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the S.F. Earthquake of 1989, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Super Storm Sandy, we see an average return of 9.70% as measured by the S&P 500 Index. This included 6 positive years and 2 that were negative, or 75% positive years. Over the entire time-period for which we have data from 1926-2016, the average annualized return of the S&P was 10.04%, and 67 of the 91 years were positive, or 74% positive years. This data would  indicate that even some of the worst or most trying events in U.S. history did not result in the stock market behaving, on average, any differently than it did in any other year. Trying to predict the movement of the market based on geopolitical events or natural disasters proves to be the same folly as any other form of forecasting.

In the end, choosing a wise financial strategy, and sticking to it, can have tremendous impact on an investor’s long term financial health. Chasing performance through buying and selling is a risky game. Historically speaking, it will only reduce an investor’s real return. Relying on unbiased, non-emotional advice from a trusted investor coach to make good decisions can help an investor bridge that gap between what the average investor makes and the return of the market.”

References

  1. Matson Money. “Account Statement.” Letter to James Hancock. 18 Oct. 2017. MS.