• Return on Investment

    Investing Tips We Can Learn from Imperial Russia

    In my opinion Modern Portfolio Theory is a Potemkin Village. What does that mean? In the 1700s Catherine the Great, ruler of Russia, invited a number of foreign dignitaries to visit Russia. But in viewing the countryside she saw the villages of Russia were unimpressive to say the least. So, she commissioned Field Marshall Griorgi Potemkin to build all new villages to give the impression that the citizens of Russia lived a comparatively good life. It was completely illusionary. A “Potemkin Village” is something made to look elaborate and impressive but has no substance at all. Modern Portfolio Theory sounds like it is new and rational and “modern.” In fact the concept…

  • Current Events

    The Truth about the Commodities Drop of 2017

    2016 has been off to a rough start – in fact it is the worst start in history and for many, 2016 is stirring up memories of 2008. I believe that this fear is unfounded and stemming from misinterpreting the oil and commodities drop. They are symptoms, I believe, of the credit bubble bursting and the overproduction which stemmed from futures contracts in the 1990s and 2000s. Despite this, I still think that we are in a super cycle, and as with previous super cycles, there will be some winners and some losers. We wouldn’t be in a super cycle if everything was going smoothly. Where oil and other commodities…

  • Current Events

    Mute the T.V.

    As of January 14, the stock market had its worst start in history. Are we headed to another 2008? NO! In fact, I believe we will probably see a decent to very good market in 2016. But is that what you will hear during the presidential and congressional campaigns? No, you will be hearing doom and gloom. But how accurate is all the doom and gloom? Last December, Richard Bernstein published an article in Financial Advisor Magazine titled “Mute the TV,” in which he said “…2016 might be a difficult year for investors…not necessarily for investing.”[1] Again, it could be a hard year for investors, but not for investing. Why…

  • Return on Investment

    Common Mistakes New Investors Make

    Imagine you are invited to play a game. You are given $20,000, and can bet $1,000, you win based on the flip of a coin. Heads, you would win $1,500; tails, you lose your $1,000 bet. Imagine you agree to the game and bet $1,000. The coin comes up tails. You bet again and the coin comes up tails and you lose another $1,000. Would you continue to play? If you do and the next flip comes up tails, would you continue? You have lost three straight times. Would you stop and walk away with your $17,000? What if you tried one more time and again lost. Would you call…

  • Current Events

    January 2016

    The outlook and predictions for 2016 are, frankly, awful. Between oil prices dropping, China’s repeated troubles, and the market opening only to drop 400 points, no one seems to have anything good to say about 2016. But how accurate is all the doom and gloom? Last December, Richard Bernstein published an article in Financial Advisor Magazine titled “Mute the TV,” in which he said “…2016 might be a difficult year for investors…not necessarily for investing.”[1] Again, it could be a hard year for investors, but not for investing. Why will it be so hard to be an investor, and why is the best advice you’ll get “mute the TV”? Because…

  • Current Events

    Chinese Mercantilism and Yuan Devaluation

    Only 40 years ago, China was an agricultural nation, and yet in what seems like no time at all they have become the world’s second largest economy – second only to the US. How is this possible? I have drawn the comparison both on About Money and on my blog about the methods China has used to burst into heavy industry and those Louis XIV and John Baptist-Colbert employed in 17th century France. In fact, there are many, many parallels that help us understand why China is where it is today. Like France in 1661, China’s economy was agricultural and found it difficult to compete on the world market. Both…

  • Return on Investment

    Conferences and Comparative Money Making

    Every year, I go to several investor conferences with 2,000 to 3,000 of my closest friends. Each conference has companies who underwrite part of the cost by taking the opportunity to hawk their products at exhibitor booths. I am always attracted to the trading booths with their elaborate displays – multiple computer screens displaying the latest technical analysis of stocks and markets, the latest prices, and charts with all the most sophisticated analytical tools. There are the stochastic charts, the candlestick trend lines, the moving averages, and on and on. Surrounding the screens are the testimonials of who have made money using the tools and programs the vendors are showcasing.…

  • 401ks,  Current Events,  Return on Investment

    Lessons Investment Advisers Need to Learn from Robo-Advisers

    On May 1st, 1975 the government deregulated fixed commissions in the brokerage industry. At the time, I don’t believe many in the industry would have said this would make any great impact on revenues, and history shows most chose to carry on with the status quo. Few stock brokers (that was the title financial advisers used back then) felt there would be much change in their business. One man did see an opportunity, though, and moved to found a firm that charged significantly less in transaction fees. That man, of course was Charles Schwab, who would build a significant and competitive that would capture one-third of portfolios by 1999. I…

  • 401ks

    We’re Getting Old

    In 1965, a Frenchman by the name of Andre-Francois Raffray thought he had made a very good deal; he had purchased an apartment from an elderly widow for about $500 a month. Up until 1975, France had no form of Social Security, and retired individuals had to rely on their savings and a process called En Viager. En Viager allowed a younger person to purchase a home in monthly increments paid until the death of the current resident. Mr. Raffray offered the 90-year-old Jeanne Louise Calment $500 each month in exchange for her apartment, which was worth about $90,000 in ’65. Unfortunately for Mr. Raffray, Ms. Calment lived to be…

  • Mile High View

    Climate Change and Energy Consumption

    Watching the reports on Irma and Harvey, rubbing my eyes from the haze that covered much of Seattle, and having the wettest winter in Seattle’s recorded history to this summer’s longest period without rain all feels like climate change to me. Yet we seem to be plunging forward into a future which will require more natural resources and more energy than ever. I am an optimist, and am confident that we will solve the problem – we will find a way to produce more energy with less damage to the climate. There will be investment opportunities on both sides (energy needs and climate change), and that is what I wanted…