Current Events

Mike discusses current events and how they could be affecting your investments - or more likely, your perception.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Current Events

    Impeachment

    What happens to the markets if President Trump is impeached? It isn’t my intention to give a prediction on if he will or will not be impeached. I am writing this to analyze what would happen if he is impeached, so that you will be prepared in the event. My philosophy is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You can decide for yourself what the best- and worse-case scenarios are. That is not the purpose of this eletter; this is about the markets, not the merits (or lack-thereof) of impeachment. Prior to his election as Vice President, Andrew Johnson had been a Senator from Tennessee, and…

  • Current Events

    New Year, New Everything

    The New Year is traditionally a time for self-reflection and New Year resolutions: You’re going go on more walks, lose some weight, cook more, and really buckle down on work – at least until March. It’s not all that different in the financial world. For the months on either side of January 1st, everyone from Barron’s to CNBC is releasing lists of stocks to own or avoid in the New Year. There’s a push to analyze your portfolio and make your predictions for the next twelve months. Honestly, I normally don’t put too much emphasis on the New Year – you shouldn’t be putting together a portfolio once a year…

  • Current Events

    Trump Trade War

    These last few weeks have been a roller coaster, no matter who you voted for. You may be surprised to know that the DOW doesn’t reflect this. On Monday and Tuesday November 7 and 8, when polls were showing Clinton was going to be elected President, the DOW was up over 400 points. On Wednesday, once we knew it would be Trump who was going to be the next President, the DOW was still up over 400 points. The lesson, in my opinion, is that the economy has significant inertia and momentum. Whether the election of Trump will be positive or negative for the economy, we will only know months…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The History of Crowdfunding

    In 1958, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith published The Affluent Society, in which he outlined his belief that the US had reached the pinnacle of affluence – that American standards of living had risen as high as they ever would. Most families owned a car, their own 1,100 ft2 (on average) home, and even had refrigerators and telephones in those homes. This, Galbraith said, was as high as affluence in the US would rise. But we know that his assumption was wrong. Look at where we are today – smartphones and PCs and bigger houses and 3-car families, all concepts that Galbraith couldn’t predict. Society did not stagnate in the…

  • Current Events

    Brexit

    The news that overhangs the markets is Brexit – the UK voted to leave the European Union. While I believe that this was a very short-sighted decision, I also believe that the Brexit decision has a historical impetus going back several centuries along with more recent history. During the late 1600s and early 1700s, France and England were in three major and several minor wars. Both England and France financed their wars with borrowings. Initially, they borrowed at 5%, but found it quickly grew to 10%, causing a Great Recession in both countries. France tackled the recession with stimulus and England with austerity. Here we see the first big rift…

  • 401ks,  Current Events

    What’s A Fiduciary?

    Recently, British comedian John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight put out a flooring (and very entertaining) look at the retirement industry. I spent Monday morning watching it after Sara shared it, and between nodding along with his points and laughing so hard I choked I decided that I needed to share it. You can watch the video included, and I encourage it, but I also wanted to highlight some of the most important points. First, Oliver asks what is a financial advisor? He answers actually, and technically – nothing. That title, along with financial analyst, financial consultant, investment consultant, or wealth manager does not actually indicate credentials. The only valid…

  • Current Events,  Mile High View

    The Market Is Flat

    There has been no new market high since May 21st, 2015. That’s a reality that has some investors panicking; some are even dubbing this the “Twilight Zone” (do do do do). And yet – and yet, if we ignore the preemptive panic, we can see that for all the threat a flat market can present, there’s good news. If we look at global stocks, we find that as of the end of May they were off by 8%. Commodities have lost 22.8%. European bank stocks are back to 2008 Lehman Brothers lows; Japanese bank stocks are down 30% and Chinese bank stocks down 40%. Oil is down 60% and gold…