You’ve undoubtedly heard the term, mutual fund, but is it one of those terms you’ve heard so much that you’re afraid to ask what it actually is? Almost all investments within retirement accounts – 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc. – are mutual funds so you own one or more of them already.
Assuming imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, consider this blog post a bit of puffery for J.P. Morgan’s recent thoughts on this subject that borrows heavily from the data in their 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey.
Okay, not evil, I was embellishing to get your attention. They are, however, misleading, offer a false sense of security and, not unlike fire extinguishers and bow ties, are to be used only in a dire emergency.
If you’ve read any commentary over the last couple of weeks about the company GameStop, and how could you miss it, then you’ve probably seen this portrayed as the classic David vs. Goliath story. These tiny investors trading from their phones got the better of the huge, bad hedge funds and this new technology allowed the common man to stick it to the suits! But, does one win just by making someone else lose?
In 2015 the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team entered the NCAA tournament with a record of 34-0 and was deemed the “biggest favorite in modern NCAA tournament history”, according to USA Today. The oddsmakers installed UK as even favorites to win the championship.
I am not a betting man. Now, I do enjoy perusing the betting lines on college and NFL football games and making some bets in my head, but my abysmal record helps me keep my money in my pocket. Similarly, I often get asked how I think the stock market will perform this year. When I answer that I have no clue how it will fare in the short term, I often receive a squinty-eyed stare in return. If I could read minds, I assume that look means, “Isn’t that your job?” Answer: No, the reason I can’t predict the market is that NO ONE can! Witness:
I’ve been asked several times recently if gold should be a part of one’s portfolio to hedge against uncertainties such as inflation, a pandemic economy, high federal debt or a contested election. If you think the U.S. is ready for imminent and complete collapse – think France in WW II – and you and your family will have to flee with only the belongings you can carry, then sure, gold will always have value to someone and is relatively easy to smuggle across a border. As a hedge, however, my personal preference would be boxwoods. Here are my thoughts:
The day after the 2016 election an acquaintance sold about 30% of the stock mutual funds in his $750,000 retirement account and put it in cash. After the market jumped up over the next six months, he estimated he’d lost out on gains of about $35,000 due to his emotions ruling his decision making, he later told me. This year’s presidential election is heating up and many are worried how a contested election might affect the stock market. In fact, daily volatility – ups and downs – is rising in anticipation of the election, which isn’t unusual during pre-election months. As evidence, the S&P 500 was down 3.9% in September even as its 3rd quarter return was up 8.5%. 2020 year-to-date the index is up almost 4%. So, with things getting hotter by the day, what should investors do to prepare themselves – other than stay off Facebook and Twitter – to help avoid the mistake my acquaintance made four years ago?
I’ve been asked a couple of times recently about Bitcoin as an investment, particularly as a hedge against the stock market. Here, then, is a primer on cryptocurrency in general and an opinion regarding adding it to your portfolio.
Several people have asked me recently why the stock market is up so much (the S&P 500 is up over 5% on the year) when the economy is doing so poorly (there are 13 million fewer people working now than in February). So, while the movement of the stock market is unpredictable because it consists of billions of trades each day, each motivated by individual investor’s own needs and beliefs, here are 4 broad reasons for the disconnect: