Fear Sells…until you stop buying it

Dear Mr. Market:0

We wake up to you every day. Once the morning cup of coffee is poured, whether intentional or not, we constantly digest information for the next 16 hours. Most of us check our email, read and/or watch the morning news, glance at social media, and then mix in conversations with other humans that have almost exactly the same patterns. Does this type of routine parlay itself into one that sets you up for making good investing decisions?

NO…most definitely not!

Let’s take for example yesterday, June 8th. To what could have been just another Thursday certainly turned otherwise; yesterday even had it’s own name…”Comey Day”. Millions watched ex-FBI director James Comey testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. There were literally “watch parties” held at bars, restaurants, and even yoga studios all across the country.

Regardless of your political leanings…take off your partisan hat for just a minute and look back 24 hours ago. For those who busted out the popcorn and awaited impeachment news or a massive decline in the stock market, you were once again served a huge Nothing Burger. The media hype did what it’s good at and drove you to tune in. Who really won yesterday? Trump? Comey? Lorretta Lynch? Russia?

Cable TV networks are enjoying banner years. Fox News viewership is 40% higher than a year ago and CNN is enjoying about 60% higher ratings over this same time period. This sad but very real episode of reality television is captivating America and driving people to make some rash decisions.

Fast forward to this morning and one of the first headlines we were treated to was this: JIM ROGERS: The worst crash in our lifetime is coming

Feel free to view the article here or read the full transcript via this link.

Should you listen to legendary investment guru Jim Rogers being interviewed by Henry Blodget? Who are each of these brilliant minds with a platform that has your eyes, ears, and full attention?

First and foremost, Henry Blodget is the CEO of Business Insider. Before heading up what is now the fastest growing and largest business news site on the internet, Blodget was a “top ranked Wall Street analyst”. STOP!

For those of you with short memories, Henry Blodget was head of Merrill Lynch’s global internet research team during the dot-com era and was charged with civil securities fraud in 2003. Blodget is now permanently banned from involvement in the securities industry.

Now let’s educate ourselves on who Jim Rogers is. If you don’t look too closely under the hood you’ll just assume he is as portrayed…a sharp bow tie wearing guy who is introduced as a “guru, renowned investor, author, and financial commentator”.

The reality of it all is that guys like Jim Rogers sell fear…and they’re good at it.

He uses a few polished sentences surrounding one or two pieces of economic data or personal observations and then sensationalizes it all to get you scared. It’s not hard to get people thinking about everything that is wrong in the world and when you add a media platform with a 24/7 news cycle, smart guys like Jim are making money off your fear.

Jim Rogers has been wrong for decades. Over the past few years he has been predicting a massive recession. In June of 2011 he said the global economy would be facing another epic recession. We saw him in person later the next year speaking at an investment conference and he said the U.S. is approaching a financial crisis worse than 2008. The next two years he pitched the same headlines and warned his followers of imminent disaster.Fear-Sells-Button-(0983)

Like a broken clock he’ll eventually be right but if you’ve been listening to him or acting on other fear pitches you may be out of money by that time. What’s more amazing to us than wrongly predicting the same thing every year is being offered the opportunity to continue doing so…

Have a great weekend!

6 Steps to overcome Investing Paralysis by Analysis

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Dear Mr. Market:

It sure seems as though you’re stuck in a rut. Just a few weeks ago Wall Street traders were donning embroidered hats with “Dow 20,000” on them in anticipation of reaching this stock market milestone. As investors approach proverbial milestones, their thinking and decision making process often begins to falter. How was your mindset when the Dow Jones cracked 14,000 in October of 2007 versus not too long afterward when it was at 6,600 in March of 2009?

The number of investors that are still sitting in cash from way back then is mind boggling! Do you take a long time making decisions? Are you worried about making the wrong choice with your investments and therefore don’t take any action? Do you analyze all the options but later on kick yourself seeing that so many opportunities have passed you by?

If any of these questions resonate with you, it’s likely that you suffer from paralysis by analysis! Here are a few steps to consider and break free of this condition: Continue reading

10 Rules on Stock Picking

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Dear Mr. Market:

We’ve written countless letters to you on the ups and downs of the stock market. This time, however, we’d like to share some ‘rules of the road’ and a guideline on how to pick stocks regardless of the environment you’re presenting us.

Click here to read the latest white paper written by My Portfolio Guide, LLC.

Cheers!

PS- If you have questions or would like more information on this white paper or others…please send us a note below:

John Hussman says we are headed for a stock market crash!

UnknownDear Mr. Market:

If you’re smart…does it imply that you’re always right? In many instances that may often be the case, but when it comes to investing, some of the most brilliant people on the planet are reduced to buffoons by irrational and unpredictable markets. When you add in a 24/7 media cycle and the fact that human beings are emotionally driven creatures…your IQ (or stubbornness) can actually work against you.

As huge fans of behavioral finance we also want to once again remind you that your own brain (whether it be “smart” or pedestrian) is wired to connect certain dots even if the conclusion is wrong or completely random. One famous adage will serve as the theme for this entire article:

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

Take a brief moment to read the following article that surfaced last week: Continue reading

WILL VS. TRUST – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

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Dear Mr. Market:

The stock market has been rather nasty as of late so let us switch gears and touch on a topic that most investors avoid yet need to pay more attention to. After all, what exactly happens to your investments when you’re gone? Do you actually need a living trust or would a will suffice? We reached out to Mindy Baldwin, an estate planner in Rancho Santa Margarita for expertise on this topic:

The terms “will” and “trust” come up often when doing estate planning. Many people assume that these terms mean the same thing and use them interchangeably. However, wills and trusts are different documents that are used in different circumstances.   Continue reading

Don’t Neglect Bond Basics

 

Seesaw1Dear Mr. Market:

The equity markets typically dominate the headlines but recently there has been more and more talk about the Fed and where interest rates are going. Stocks are definitely a more intriguing topic as they can move very quickly in either direction and make a dramatic impact on investor’s portfolios. Future Fed activity will have an impact on what is often the most neglected portion of a portfolio – Fixed Income or Bonds.

Most investors spend a minimal amount of time with this portion of their asset allocation. It is often the textbook definition of a ‘buy and hold’ approach and why shouldn’t it be? For the last several years investors have accepted the fact that interest rates are essentially zero and this portion of their portfolio warrants little to no attention. While this approach has been adequate investors that subscribe to this approach could find themselves with losses in what they consider their ‘sleep at night’ portion of the portfolio. When and if the Fed makes any changes to their policy investors need to be prepared to make changes to this portion of their investment portfolio.

When rates do change the behavior of bonds can be explained using something that everyone has seen on a children’s playground…a seesaw or teeter-totter. It is based on a very basic concept – when one side goes up the other will go down. When using this analogy with Fixed Income, one side would have interest rates and the other would have the principal value of the bond or fund. As rates go down the principal would go up and if rates go up the principal would decline. Fairly straightforward…isn’t it? Additionally, the further away you are from the middle of the seesaw (fulcrum point) the harder your landing will be. This playground explanation paints a simplistic explanation of how the price of bonds is affected by interest rate changes but what should you focus on when it comes to your fixed income positions? Continue reading

March Madness: Final Four Investing Bracket 2015

basketball on cashWelcome to the fifth year of our March Madness Investing Bracket! This series of articles is always one of the most popular investing articles on the internet! We’re proud to admit that we were one of the first investing nerds to combine our love for the markets with the passion that college basketball brings!

It’s common knowledge that people love excitement and surprises. It’s also human nature to root for the underdog and many times those two themes can certainly play out on the basketball court as well as on the stock market floor. Much like two college basketball teams that never play each other our imaginations are swept up in wondering who will “win” between a relatively unknown investment or a popular stock that has the media in a frenzy.

You may be asking what does a basketball tournament have to do with managing your portfolio or the investment world in general? At first glance there might not be much but we thought we would have a little fun and couple it with some asset allocation parallels. After all, there are many folks who have simply thrown their hands in the air at one time or simply succumbed to the notion that investing is like educated gambling. There could be some truth to that depending on your approach…

For those of you that are not familiar with the NCAA and its annual basketball tournament there are 68 teams selected and each is seeded according to their results throughout the regular season and their relative rankings. Every March the NCAA holds a single elimination tournament to crown an undisputed champion. Part of the appeal of such a tournament is that theoretically any team that makes the “big dance” has a shot at winning it all. Each and every year there is a proverbial “Cinderella” team that surprises everyone including all the ‘so-called’ experts. Prior to the tournament there is always plenty of banter and opinion on who wasn’t invited or further arguments around the seeding of the teams that did make it. That’s where we see a parallel of sorts to investing and having to make decisions among the multitudes of investment choices. With so many investment choices available, there are also as many differing opinions.

In the “real” March Madness tournament this year there appears to be a hands down favorite with the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. Hardly any office pool or basketball analyst is betting against such a heavily favored team. If they win it all it will be the first time in over 30 years that a team stays unbeaten the whole season. Our own version of this (using investment themes and choices) shares the premise that we have four very decent #1 seeds but there is no slam-dunk pick that everyone agrees on. For this reason, our 2015 bracket is perhaps as important as ever to understand that a dark horse could win it all…

Before we begin digging into each “region” of our bracket, let’s revisit something everyone claims they know but so very few actually follow with consistent discipline. (Asset Allocation)

If you have ever looked at a chart of all the different asset classes and how they perform year to year…there is rarely a pattern or consistent way to determine next years “winner”.

For the purposes our annual investing bracket we have “seeded” or ranked four major asset classes (like the regions) and chosen several individual picks within each. There is some basic science applied to this process. We consider how the “pick” did over the past 12 months and also how it has trended over the past three months. In some cases we gave a lower performing investment a higher seed if it was trending well with recent strength or was more consistent over a longer period of time.

Each asset class (Large Cap, Small Cap & Mid Cap, Bonds/Alternatives, and International) was ranked and seeded, then corresponding seeds were assigned to “picks” that we are either adding to the portfolio or establishing new positions in. Note that we’re not highlighting 68 new investments and will only discuss some investments that we are either actively involved in or looking to add to most portfolios.

OK…Let’s dig into some of the key match-ups and explain why our Final Four going into Q2 2015 looks the way it does (CLICK HERE to view our 2015 Bracket):

Large Cap

This is typically viewed as the ‘efficient’ asset class. Continue reading