Social Security Scam Alert

Dear Mr. Market:Scam Alert

We normally pen all of our articles (letters) to you but in this case the work was already done. This one has nothing to do with the stock market or economy but everything to do with your hard earned money being threatened by another scam.

Scams are nothing new but they sure seem to be getting more prevalent and slicker by the day. As you’ll note from the chart below the number of scams are predominantly centered around Social Security and that trend is on the rise.Top Government Imposters

Click here to read an article written by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post. In the timely article she includes a helpful list and some links that serve as critical reminders of what to be aware of out there.

Have a great weekend and stay alert!

 

Where is the Recession?

Dear Mr. Market:Recession

Chalk it up to the “dog days of summer” but we haven’t written a letter to you in a while. Perhaps this is in part to the wild ride you’ve sent investors on since the whipsaw action and insane volatility we saw this past December. For those of us with short-term memory issues, the year ended in brutal fashion with the worst December in 80 years. If you sold out of your investments, threw in the towel and fell prey to your emotions, you then missed the best January the stock market has seen in 80 years. 

If you still haven’t paid much attention then perhaps the opening of this past week also hasn’t phased you…or should it?! Continue reading

March Madness: Final Four Investing Bracket 2019

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Dear Mr. Market:

Has your alma mater or favorite team already been bounced from the NCAA basketball tournament? My Portfolio Guide can’t change that fact but we can offer you a fresh chance with our annual spin on March Madness. For the ninth year in a row we are rolling out our unique way to share investment themes and overall thoughts on the stock market.

We’re proud to say that My Portfolio Guide was the first financial advisory firm to publish a March Madness investing tournament where we share our picks and match them up against each other! We break down and assign each of the four “regions” with an asset class and then pick teams (companies) that we think have the best chance at doing well relative to others.

Click here to see Final Four Investing Bracket Picks 2019

 

Large Cap

The most boilerplate of portfolios has won out by riding the safe bet over the past few years. This is akin to the March Madness office pool where your coworker, who knows nothing about sports and couldn’t differentiate between a basketball and a football, wins the whole pool of money by simply picking the highest seed in each bracket. What we mean by this with regards to investment asset classes is that since 2013 the Large Cap asset class has been the easy money pick. If you had a decently diversified portfolio (which by design should include exposure to International and Emerging Markets), you lost to the boilerplate and simpleton portfolio that is mainly weighted towards Large Cap. Continue reading

Protecting Your Fiefdom: Issues for First Time Landlords to Consider

Dear Mr. Market:th-22

Over the past couple of months we’ve had all eyes on you and to state the obvious it’s been a wild ride!  With all the recent volatility, the risks (and rewards) of the stock market were on clear display but today we switch gears to a different asset class and share some insight from our friend and guest author, Mr. Brian Chou, Esq.

Owning investment real estate can be a very rewarding and profitable experience, but it can also be a huge headache and a drain on resources. I remember when I purchased my first investment property several years ago, my head was filled with conflicting images of myself sunbathing on my private island and lying penniless in a gutter.  The possibilities and the liabilities seemed endless. Continue reading

No Santa Claus Rally in 2018

Dear Mr. Market:images

Since 1950 you (the market) have risen an average of +1.4% over the last five trading days of the year. We typically see some tax loss selling in the early part of the month and then a positive finish to the year. Over the past 45 years, 34 of them have helped make this seasonal phenomenon seem real but this year is looking like Santa will bring a massive lump of coal instead of a rally.

While most Decembers in general are positive, this one so far has literally been the worst since 1931. It actually goes beyond just a bad month that is normally positive; as you can see from the graphic we put together below this market has been struggling for the entire fourth quarter.

2018 Index:Benchmark Returns

Large Caps, as measured by the S&P 500, are very close to touching bear market levels. Whether we need to officially hit the -20% (official bear market definition) or not shouldn’t matter; it’s flat out dismal out there. Notice how both Small and Mid Caps have already reached bear market levels. Even though bonds have not had a great year they have at least mitigated some damage for those who have exposure to the asset class.

All that said, there has been very few places to hide and the fear levels are mounting. If you don’t have any alternatives or bond exposure in your portfolio you are basically at the will of the market and will have to either throw in the towel or ride it out. Those that do have an allocation with exposure to other asset classes outside of stocks have options.

We recently wrote a rough sketch on how we would approach portfolios if this indeed turned into a bear market. Many investors will fold up and do the worst thing you can do; sell and cement losses with no strategy aside from quitting. Our goal is not to “throw good money after bad” and keep buying into a market that is getting slaughtered but rather tactically take advantage of asset classes that are more resilient than equities.

Going back to our grid above…let us ask you a question:

What should you buy and what should you sell?

Our short answer is that we will gradually sell some alternative assets (not listed in the above grid but mentioned in this blog many times) and about 5% of our bond exposure. From there we plan to first nibble at Small Caps and the Mid Caps as those have been hit the hardest the past three months.

We’ll update our readers and clients more later but just because Santa didn’t delivery a rally this year doesn’t mean the stock market is broken forever; it’s merely giving you an opportunity to do something different than you did last time.

Merry Christmas!

Is the Death Cross accurate?

Dear Mr. Market:Death-cross-2

In all of our letters to you it’s been well documented how volatile and irrational you can be. You clearly have a temper and even when there is an abundance of good economic news you can still make us squirm and sweat with how you may react. What compounds your behavior is how traders and investors label certain charts and patterns. Most recently we’ve been alerted that you have signaled another mess on the horizon with an ominous reading of the “Death Cross”.

Could you (and that description) be any more dramatic?!? Continue reading

What to do if the Stock Market Correction turns into a Bear Market?

Dear Mr. Market:

We typically write you letters about your volatile actions and the erratic behavior you bestow upon us as investors. Many of our letters also try to put certain economic events into perspective so that people don’t let your wild stock market swings force them into making bad decisions. All that said, it’s come to our attention that we can finally roll out the answer to a question that is not always obvious:

What should an investor do if a standard stock market correction turns into a bear market? shutterstock_262478570

First off, let’s revisit the basic definition of a correction versus an official bear market. Click here for an article we wrote during the last correction in February, which incidentally at the time felt like the end of the bull market had finally come. Although the market sold off almost -10% in a short span, it clearly came back to reach record highs until October came around.

So…can we now apply the four most dangerous words in investing? Continue reading