Q1 2017 Investment Commentary Part II: Forecasting the Future

Let’s start with a debatable, but widely held fundamental concept of investing: the best predictor of future returns for stocks is the current valuation.  This is generally true of a single stock, a sector, or an entire country’s stock market.  Academics and practitioners debate whether important factors like gross profitability, price momentum, earnings momentum, yield, [...]

Q1 2017 Investment Commentary Part I: The Value of a Crystal Ball

You probably do not know who Jim Simons is.  He likes it that way.  Simons is a quiet figure who is not interested in self-promotion and does not need to be told how great he is.  Despite undoubted countless interview requests over the past 35 years, Simons has largely declined the opportunity to tell his [...]

Why The Failure of the Fiduciary Rule Could Still Benefit Consumers and Fiduciary Advisors

Over the past two months, this blog has attacked guaranteed income annuities and the purported advantages of leasing a vehicle, assuredly triggering ill sentiment from annuity salespeople and auto dealerships.  Given the recent string of controversial opinions and analysis, what better time to address the Department of Labor’s “fiduciary rule”?  The fiduciary rule has been a [...]

Stocks at an All-Time High

“Congratulations.  I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”  -Yogi Berra in a telegram to Johnny Bench after Bench broke Berra's record for most home runs as a catcher.   We recently explained why the Dow Jones Industrial Average is a terrible, no good, very bad index.  In spite of our best [...]

The Benefits of Leasing a Vehicle…Debunked

There are some can't miss ways to start an argument.  Talk politics in a diverse room.  Attend a Michigan home football game wearing an Ohio State jersey.  Suggest that The Rolling Stones were better than the Doors and that Highlander was the best movie ever made.  Or just decidedly state that buying a vehicle is better than leasing. The [...]

Guaranteed Income and No Risk of Principal – Too Good to be True?

It is difficult to go more than a week without seeing or hearing advertisements for an investment that guarantees zero risk of principal loss, promises an attractive return (5-10% per year), and ensurers lifetime income that never expires.  Admittedly, these promises can sound very attractive on the surface, especially for risk averse investors.  But are they too [...]

Pregnancy and Voluntary Short-Term Disability Insurance

Everyday investors tend to speculate on stocks based on the often ill-conceived notion that they have unique information or better information than the rest of the investment world.  This perception of ‘asymmetric information’ is often the polar opposite of reality.  In fact, institutional investors have an enormous information advantage over retail investors – one that [...]

The Dow is a Bad Accident of History

I was a recent college graduate and there I was on the trading desk of a large institutional investment manager, entrusted with a role well beyond the pay grade of a newly minted liberal arts history major.  Like many people in their first job out of college, my primary objective was not to make a [...]

Take Advantage of a Year-End Tax Opportunity with a Donor Advised Fund

This time of year is referred to as the ‘season of giving’.  Charities report that 31% of all charitable donations happen in December each year and that 12% of donations occur on the final three days of the year.  There is good reason to believe that those percentages will increase dramatically in 2016.  Proposed tax [...]

Dismissing High Deductible HSA Plans Is a Costly Mistake

This time of year means open enrollment season and that means battling a consistent bevy of confusing acronyms: FSA, HSA, HRA, PPO, HMO, POS, and on.  Reorienting every year to the different meanings, rules, and benefits of these acronyms is akin to relearning the scoring rules of curling every four years.  Most Americans are interested [...]