Investor Behavior & Psychology

Portfolio Rebalancing: Should You Do It?

Everything in life that surrounds you requires maintenance. This includes your home, your automobile, the software application on your mobile device, and even your health. Unfortunately, your job for maintaining stuff doesn’t stop there. Why? Because your investments – whether they are held in taxable accounts or tax-deferred retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k), and 403(b) …

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Factors that Should Influence Your Investments

If you asked a thousand different people about the key factors that should drive their investment choices, you’re bound to get a thousand different answers. Some, for example, might be inclined to argue that U.S. stocks (NYSEARCA:SCHB) have increased for eight consecutive years and there’s no reason to make any portfolio changes because stock prices …

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A Guidepost for Investing in “Smart Beta” ETFs

Over the past several years traditional market cap weighted indexes have been derided. Why? Because upstarts, known as “smart beta” have taken the ETF marketplace by storm and are trying to dislodge traditional indexing . And one of the oft-repeated arguments against traditional indexing that you’re guaranteed to read about or see is something like, …

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3 Risks that Could Derail Your Retirement Plan

Funding your retirement is a big financial obligation that no one can escape. How big? While other expenses like paying for college education or a home are also large, they aren’t necessarily in the same league. Why? Because buying a home or paying for a family member’s education isn’t something we necessarily have to do. …

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Risk and Volatility: Know the Difference

On financial networks and in finance classrooms around the globe, stock market volatility is routinely mis-classified as “risk.”  Unfortunately, this erroneous view causes people to make investment mistakes. Elroy Dimson, a London Business School professor once wrote, that risk “means more things can happen than will happen.” It’s an eloquent way for describing risk, which …

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Is Your Portfolio’s Performance Satisfactory?

What’s your investment portfolio’s performance? Do you know? Just 57% of U.S. adults are “financially literate,” according to a study from Standard & Poor’s titled the “2015 Global Financial Literacy Survey.” Another study by a large insurance company found that people are more frightened by planning their finances than dying.  What’s wrong? Part of the problem …

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Your Investment Portfolio’s Missing Piece

The framework for an architecturally sound investment plan is to have a core portfolio built upon core asset classes. Like the foundation of a building, your portfolio’s core must be built on a solid and stable footing. While there are many things within your investment plan that are optional, this isn’t one of them. Before …

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This Multi-Trillion Dollar Freight Train is Due for Arrival

This year’s presidential election has been so drenched with public bickering and controversy, it’s left very little airtime for the multi-million freight train that’s on course to crash everybody’s party: U.S. public debt. In July, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that federal debt held by the public skyrocketed to 75% of U.S. GDP compared to …

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3 Lies about ETFs

As U.S. stocks register new highs and bond yields register new lows, the exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketplace keeps humming along. This is true of ETFs in virtually all asset classes, including not just equities (NYSEARCA:SCHB), but currencies (NYSEARCA:FXE), commodities (NYSEARCA:DBC), and real estate (NYSEARCA:ICF). The total assets in U.S. listed ETFs and ETPs reached a record $2.25 …

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Utilities, Anyone?

With 2016 officially half over, the celebratory nature of the stock market is being masked by another telling trend: Defensive sectors are outperforming higher risk areas. Formerly hot groups drenched with elevated risk like solar energy (NYSEARCA:TAN) and biotechnology stocks (NasdaqGS:IBB) have fallen out of favor and are down more than 20%, putting them into bear …

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Are You Still Investing Without a Margin of Safety?

In retrospect, Brexit turned out to be more meaningful than Grexit. And while the immediate reaction of global financial markets (NYSEARCA:VT) to the England’s decisive vote to leave the European Union (EU) was negative, it’s a stark reminder of why investing without a margin of safety is negligent. With the exception of precious metals (NYSEARCA:GLTR), mining …

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Sexy vs. Boring: Who’s Winning?

Higher investment risk leads to higher investment returns, right? It’s a Wall Street axiom that we’ve heard so many times it’s become ingrained in us. But conventional wisdom and reality have the peculiar habit of departing from one another. And what’s happening in 2016 is a noteworthy example of this grand departure. With the year already …

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Should You Hedge Currency Risk?

Currency prices go up, they go down, and sometimes they crash. And just like other financial markets, currency prices are not immune to volatility. Should you be hedging your portfolio against currency volatility? Chaos Happens The first argument in favor of currency hedged investments is that chaos happens. It can occur at any time in any …

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How Should Your Non-Core Portfolio Look?

I’ve written extensively about the role of an investor’s non-core portfolio. It’s one of the three cornerstones of a well-built portfolio (see figure below) and it always plays a complementary role to the much larger core portfolio and a person’s margin of safety container. If used properly, the non-core portfolio can greatly enhance an investor’s total …

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(Podcast) How to Predict Fund Performance

The phrase “past performance is not an indicator of future performance” is a frequently written and spoken legal disclaimer for virtually all investments sold by Wall Street. Yet, hardly anyone from individual investors all the way to investment sales people really act like they believe it. Asset flows inevitably gravitate into funds with the hottest historical performance. And …

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Should Correlations Drive Your Investment Decisions?

Do stock market correlations matter? Statisticians use correlations (or cross-correlation) to measure the relationship between asset classes or investments. The general idea is to better understand the similarity or dissimilarity in how investments perform against each other and to build a portfolio of investments that can benefit. The CBOE S&P 500 Implied Correlation Index (ChicagoOptions:^KCJ) …

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Energy Sector Crushes Conventional Wisdom

Never mind the abysmal results of first quarter earnings for the depressed energy sector. It doesn’t matter. And never mind the conventional wisdom of group-think and scary analyst warnings like,  “Energy stocks are in deep trouble because Q1 losses will mark the first time any sector in the S&P 500 has reported an aggregate loss since …

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Fund Shareholders with SunEdison Get Zapped by Bankruptcy Filing

SunEdison now joins the endless parade of defunct stock market ex-darlings like Enron, eToys, IndyMac, and Washington Mutual. Yes, the circumstances are different, but the results are the same: bankruptcy. Once the largest renewable energy developer in the U.S., the Missouri-based company listed $16.1 billion in debt in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on April 21. SunEdison might …

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Stock Market Pit

Are Equal Weight Indexes Bias-Free?

Over the past several years there’s been a lot of derogatory talk against traditional market cap weighted indexes. And one of the oft-repeated arguments against traditional indexing that you’re guaranteed to read about or see is something like, “Market cap weighted indexes overweight overvalued large-cap stocks and underweight undervalued smaller-cap stocks.” As a result of these arguments, there’s been a relentless …

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Lagging Small Cap Warning Sign For Stock Market?

The Performance of Active Managers Keeps Getting Worse

Years ago John Bogle once quipped, “If the data do not prove that indexing wins, well, the data are wrong. ” Here’s the latest: There’s no need to second guess Bogle on this particular matter because a) the data proves indexing wins, and b) the data is completely right. The table below shows the 1, 3, …

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