Elections Impact on the Stock Market

2020 has obviously been a crazy year, and with the Presidential Election coming up, it is not about to calm down anytime soon.  The stock market has been a thrill ride ever since late February, with a big drop and then a steady climb.  Tech stocks and Large US stocks have already made it back in the positive territory for the year, while small stocks and international stocks are still lagging.

With that as the backdrop, I have gotten the question “How will the presidential election affect the market?” pretty often.   For questions like this I am glad I have my crystal ball with me at all times so I can tell my clients exactly what is going to happen.  O wait, I don’t have a crystal ball. But we can learn from history.

Historic Election Year Returns

Looking back at election years since 1928, the S&P 500 (Large US Stocks) has had a positive return 21 times, and a negative return 3 times (1).  I think most people would find that hard to believe.

Is there significantly better or worse returns during election years or the year after an election?

The average annual return of the S&P from 1928-2017 was 9.8%. The average return during election years and during the subsequent year were 11.3% and 9.9%, with plenty of volatility. If there was truth to the above speculations, we would consistently see extraordinarily high or low returns during election year followed by a reversal the following year. The data does not bear that out, and there is nothing in the above data that should lead an investor to make any tactical changes to their portfolio during or after election years. (3)

Republican vs Democrat

This is another interesting topic that divides people throughout the country, but is there any stock market effect based on which party gets into power?  The data actually surprised me.  From 1926 to 2019, we have had a Republican president for 46 years, and a Democratic president for 48 years.  The average annual return for the S&P 500 index when we had a Republican President was 9.12%. When we had a Democratic President, the S&P 500 averaged 14.94% per year. (2)

Whatever your political leanings are, this should give you solace knowing that average returns are over 9% long term no matter which party is in the white house.

False Patterns

The worst thing an investor can do is get caught up in trying to find and take advantage of patterns in the stock market.  It seems like a good idea, but trust me, it is not in your best interest.   For example, there is a super bowl stock market predictor, which states that if the team that wins the Superbowl is a team that had its roots in the original National Football League, then the stock market will decline.   There is another pattern showing that every mid decade year ending in 5 (1905, 1915, 1925 etc.) since 1905, has been an up year for stocks. (1)  These patterns are just random facts that people try to turn into something that seems important.

The Story of 2016

The 2016 election was a great example of this. Many financial experts and talking heads were predicting a decline in the market if Trump won. On Fortune.com, Katie Reilly reported that Citigroup predicted that a Trump win would have a negative effect on the stock market, believing the S&P 500 index would fall 3% to 5% if Trump was elected. Evelyn Cheng reported on CNBC the day before the election that JP Morgan, Barclays, Citi, and BMO all expected a Trump victory would have a negative impact on the stock market, with Barclays being as bold as saying the S&P 500 could potentially fall 11 to 13 percent. Some went even further with their market predictions.

In an interview with Neil Cavuto, noted billionaire Mark Cuban stated:

“In the event Donald wins, I have no doubt in my mind the market tanks,” Cuban said. “If the polls look like there’s a decent chance that Donald could win, I’ll put a huge hedge on that’s over 100% of my equity positions… that protects me just in case he wins.”

To the surprise of these pundits, the opposite occurred.  In just 2 months from November 1st through the end of the year, equity markets had a substantial growth period, with the S&P rising 6%, the Russell 2000 up 14% and the Russell 2000 Value increasing by 18%. (3)

In Conclusion

So the best and most honest answer to the question “How will the presidential election affect the market?”, is “I don’t know, but over the long term, stocks have made between 9 and 12% per year on average.”

By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.Anspach, Dana. “How Does the Stock Market Perform During Election Years?” The Balance. About Inc., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

2.French, Bob. “Are Republicans or Democrats Better for the Stock Market?” McLean Asset Management, 10 July 2020, www.mcleanam.com/are-republicans-or-democrats-better-for-the-stock-market/.

3. Gatliff, Kenny. On the Money, 23 Sept. 2020, on-themoney.com/2020/08/11/presidential-elections-and-the-market/.

Large Stocks vs Small Stocks: Does the Last 3 Years Change Things?

Looking back at the last few years, small stocks have been under performing by a big margin compared to large stocks.   Is this just a short term fad or is this a bandwagon that you need to jump on?

The S&P 500 is a grouping of the 500 largest companies in America.  It is a very popular thing to invest in for many reasons.  First of all, it is made up of incredible companies that we all know and love like Google, Walmart and Apple.

Here is a chart showing 2017-2019 average annual returns from these different US stock categories.

 US Markets Annualized Return (%)
S&P 500 Index 15.27%
Dimensional US Large Cap Value Index 8.46%
Dimensional US Micro Cap Index 6.85%
Dimensional US Small Cap Index 6.75%
Dimensional US Small Cap Value Index 3.32%

Obviously the S&P 500 has done amazing, while the other categories have done below their long term averages.     This can sometimes lead to a problem called recency bias.   Recency bias is a form of timing the market and investing in what has done well recently.   We believe it can be detrimental to your long term investment strategy.

Different categories of stocks have returns that come at different times and for different reasons.   Our main job as investment coaches is to keep you diversified and disciplined during crazy times like this.   This has happened before, and it looked almost the same as it does in the chart above.

From 1995-March of 2000, the S&P 500 was the best category of stocks by a wide margin.  The next closest category was over 4% lower annually, with most of the other categories being 14% or more lower annually vs the S&P 500 during that time.     Then for the next 10 years starting in march of 2000, the S&P 500 was the only stock category that had a negative return.   Yes, it lost money over a 10 year period.  But International Small Value stocks were up over 14% per year during that same period and US Small Value stocks were up  over 11% per year.

The stock market is random and unpredictable in the short term.  It really does take patience to be a successful long term investor.  I know, just like you, how frustrating it is to see other people having great returns while I am not.

Below is a chart showing a longer term history, and the returns of each category, including international categories from march of 2000-through the end of 2019.

Markets Annualized Return (%)
Fama/French US Small Value Research Index 10.75%
Dimensional International Small Cap Value Index 10.51%
CRSP Deciles 9-10 Index 8.81%
Dimensional International Small Cap Index 8.79%
CRSP Deciles 6-10 Index 8.32%
Fama/French International Value Index 7.53%
MSCI Emerging Markets Index (gross div.) 6.99%
Fama/French US Large Value Research Index 6.76%
Dimensional International Large Value Index 6.14%
S&P 500 Index 6.01%
MSCI EAFE Index (net div.) 3.36%

You can see that the S&P 500 has been the second lowest category over this last 20 year period.

We keep our clients invested in the S&P 500, but we overweight towards small and value, because their long term returns have been higher.

Although the S&P 500 is popular, and has been up lately, that doesn’t mean you can forget the long term projections and academic studies that have proved again and again that an efficient diversified portfolio beats the S&P 500 in the long term.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1.  Matson Money. Three warning signs you may be speculating and gambling with your money powerpoint. N.p.: Matson Money Inc., 29 June 2020. PPT.

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>.



Quarter 3 Stock market Update

The following is from Matson Money Quarterly Statements.  It is a good reminder to focus on long term historical returns rather than panicking about short term returns.

“The 3rd quarter of 2018 saw domestic equity markets hit all-time highs, meanwhile outside of the U.S., the decline in international markets that persisted in the first two quarters of the year, stalled out and various  international asset classes achieved positive returns. U.S. stocks rose by 7.71% for the quarter as represented by the S&P 500 index, while  international stocks as measured by the MSCI World Ex-USA Index returned 1.31%. Large cap value stocks gained momentum, after going into negative territory earlier this year, and moved higher to the tune of 5.7% as measured  by the Russell 1000 Value Index.

2018 thus far has seen a divergence in the performance of domestic equities vs international stocks. While domestic equities are hitting all-time highs, international stocks have seen a decline from their performance in 2017. The  myopically focused nature of mainstream media and market watchers seem to just focus their attention on one index to represent the investment landscape, the S&P 500. In the good times, investors seem to compare their  diversified portfolios to the S&P 500 and get frustrated when they can’t keep up. You’re hearing stocks are at all-time highs so why isn’t your portfolios  at an all-time high as well? Its important for investors to understand this is an  apples to oranges comparison. A sound investment solution involves diversification and not just in the U.S. equity markets but international ones as  well. It involves owning stocks that have low correlation to one another so that when one goes down, another one does not go down as much. It’s not fair to  tell yourself, “if only I owned more U.S. Large Cap (S&P)” There are  many other asset classes in the world that have historically done better than the S&P 500, however they are not the ones being referenced on your nightly  news show.

To highlight the benefits of global diversification, let’s look back to 1970 and examine the relationship between U.S. stocks, as represented by the S&P 500 Index, and international stocks, represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. From 1970-1989, international stocks outperformed the U.S., then from 1990-1999, U.S. stocks outpaced international, then from 2000-2017, international stocks outdid the U.S. These decade-long tradeoffs in  performance is exactly why clients need to stay focused on their long-term investing goals and remain diversified. Developed countries have similar long- term expected returns, but as the data has shown, they achieve these returns at different times. Over the entire period, 1970-2017, the S&P 500 average annual return was 11.95%, while the MSCI EAFE index had an average annual  return of 11.78%. They each took different routes to get there, but in the end, they achieved a similar result.

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 can 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. ”

Reference

  1. Matson Money. “Account Statement.” Letter to James Hancock. 15 Oct. 2018. MS.

 

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.

 

The Surprising Reason You Shouldn’t Buy the Best Mutual Funds

It seems like common sense to buy a product that is popular or seems to be doing well.  For example, a few of my friends will be buying the new I Phone X, largely because Apple has a proven track record of making successful and innovative phones.  As consumers, that is what we look for when buying things.

On a similar note, many investors think it is common sense to invest their money with a mutual fund manager that has proven to be the best by their performance, or track record.  It almost seems like that should be the only reasons to pick a mutual fund manager, is based on their track record.  But I am here to spoil that “common sense” belief when it comes to investing.

There has been recent research on this topic, which confirms decades of academic findings, suggesting you should avoid top-rated mutual funds.

“According to a new study by Baird Wealth Management Research, not only do mutual fund ratings not predict future performance, they may be reliable red lights that should warn you against buying a fund.  Baird analyst Aaron Reynolds asked the question “do fund ratings predict future performance?” Here’s what he found:”

“For US stock funds, the research found that ratings were negatively predictive of future performance, e.g. a high rated fund will perform worse than a low rated fund.”  How do you explain these results? Often, when a stock fund manager has a good year, it’s due to chance. ” 1

Further Proof

This is one of the myths of investing that Mark Matson talks about all of the time.  5 star mutual funds are the funds that have a great track record over the past few years and that seem to get everything right.  But check out this simple chart that further proves that Track Record Investing gives you below market returns.  2.

Average Annual Return       2007-2011            2012-2016

Top 30 Rated US Stock Funds from 2007-2011           5.07%                     4.35%

All US Stock Funds                                                   -0.12%                     12.04%

So the “top 30” funds from 2007 to 2011 beat the market as a whole by about 5%.   So lets say you read a magazine, saw a headline, or worse yet your investment advisor says to invest in one of these funds that “continually beats the market”.   You decide to buy in at the end of 2011.  2012 through 2016 come, and your fund gets beat by the market by 8% annually for 5 years.  That’s almost 40% total growth that you missed out on.  Plus you missed out on the 5 years that it beat the market because you got in based on the track record.

The Alternative Method for Deciding on Mutual Funds?

If looking at Track Record isn’t the best way to determine what funds to invest in, then what is?  How about academic studies?  Studies done by Nobel Prize winners show that investing in a globally diversified fund, that doesn’t try to beat the market, but just focuses on getting market returns and rebalancing is the best way to invest long term. 3.  You should not try to find a mutual fund that is going to beat the market, you need one that is going to get market returns and charge lower total fees.  Stock market returns over long periods of time are surprisingly high.  To get good long term returns, you don’t need to gamble or speculate.  Fund managers that try to beat the market not only often fail in their quest, but they incur much more costs to you the investor.

Track Record Investing could be detrimental to your long term retirement portfolio.   Don’t fall for the hot mutual fund headlines.

by Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Wasik, John. “Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Highly-Rated Mutual Fund.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2014/03/24/why-you-shouldnt-buy-a-highly-rated-mutual-fund/>.

2. Matson Money. Separating Myths From Truths, The Story of Investing. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. https://www.matsonmoney.com/

3. Matson, Mark. Main Street Money. Mason: Mcgriff Video Productions, 2013. Print.