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!

Even a broken clock is right twice a day

analyst 3Dear Mr. Market:

Wall Street is notorious for putting analysts (or any individual) on a pedestal when they make a prediction that happens to be correct. As quickly as their ‘celebrity status’ is awarded it is often just as quickly taken away! The recent downfall of Meredith Whitney offers a lesson that everyone can learn from.

Whitney was awarded her ‘star status’ the fall of 2007 when she made a bearish prediction on Citigroup (C) as an analyst at Oppenheimer. Shortly after she made her call the stock tumbled and the CEO, Charles Swift, resigned. She was credited with predicting the financial crisis that followed in 2008 and became a regular with the business media. With her ‘celebrity status’ she resigned from Oppenheimer in 2009 to form her own firm focused on research and hedge fund management.

It did not take long for her shining star to become tarnished as she missed on several predictions that Wall Street followed her on. She called for municipal bonds around the country to default in 2010 and then in 2013 for the central U.S. to flourish economically while both coasts would struggle. Neither came anywhere close to becoming a reality and Whitney found herself struggling to regain the notoriety that she once enjoyed. Most recently she launched a hedge fund in 2013 that she shut down just last month. Continue reading

Here comes the stock market correction…What should you do?

Unknown-61Dear Mr. Market:

You’ve been messing and toying with the brightest minds since 1792, when the New York Stock Exchange was created under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street. Your latest bull market run has as many investors as puzzled as it does nervous. The longer we go on without a stock market correction the potentially worse it will be when it eventually hits. At this point, it’s clearly not a matter of “if” but “when” it is coming. Continue reading

High Frequency Trading – How does it impact you?

HTF robotsDear Mr. Market:

The markets are constantly moving from one headline to the next – some of them having a profound impact on the markets. Last Sunday night “60 Minutes” aired a topic that has been lurking in the shadows for years, suddenly it jumped up and grabbed headlines raising concerns and paranoia with investors. High Frequency Trading (HFT) has dominated headlines over the last week prompting a federal investigation and hours of debate.

Michael Lewis, author of “Flash Boys”, has been on a publicity tour claiming the U.S. Stock Market is ‘rigged’. Is the average investor at a disadvantage, on the outside looking in at the security exchanges? This week we encourage you to view a letter being sent to our clients and friends of the firm (High Frequency Trading letter) Continue reading

Should You Buy Target (TGT) Stock?

Target InvestigationDear Mr. Market:

With the holiday season now in the rear view mirror U.S. consumers are being reminded of the world we live in.  In the middle of the holiday shopping season Target made an announcement that had an impact on millions of individuals.  On December 19th Target announced that 40 million credit and debit cards had been jeopardized by a cyber attack.  Since then the number of cards has grown to 70 million, it has been reported that the number could grow to as many as 110 million!  Just last week Neiman Marcus released news that it is dealing with a similar situation and other retailers are likely to be in the same boat in the coming weeks.

On Friday (January 10th) Target announced that the security issue had a negative impact on their holiday shopping results.  Stores saw sales decline up to 5% (depending on location) when compared to the previous years results.  When 4th quarter earnings are announced on February 26, 2014, the additional expenses the company has incurred due to the hacking incident will certainly have an impact.  CEO Greg Steinhafel announced that 4th quarter EPS (earnings per share) were lowered to $1.20 – $1.30 from the previous guidance of $1.50 – $1.60.  Continue reading

Force your Portfolio to be Disciplined in 2014

Rebalance Cartoon

Congratulations Mr. Market…you’ve delivered a tremendous year of returns to equity investors!  With the broad equity markets delivering returns over 25% (S&P =29%, DJIA = 25% and the NASDAQ = 37% as of 12/27/2013) investors are now faced with the question of what to do now?  For those investors that were invested in stocks, especially domestic stocks, year-end statements are going to look very impressive but remember that is only on paper. As we step into 2014 what should investors do with their portfolios?

Often investors choose to go with an adage commonly heard in casinos – “Let it ride!” Although the market defied odds and dodged several ominous obstacles, there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so going forward.  Sitting back and doing nothing could very well allow those returns to dwindle away and become nothing but a memory.  It wasn’t that long ago that ‘The Tech Bubble’ hit investors with a strong left uppercut that they never saw coming.  Mr. Market delivered three years of impressive returns (1997 = 33%, 1998 = 28% & 1999 = 21%) only to see it disappear with three consecutive years of negative returns (2000 = -9%, 2001 = -11%, 2002 = -22%) and let’s not forget 2008 (-37%).   How can investors avoid repeating history while also managing the risk and unrealized gains in their portfolio?  Continue reading

How to Add 3 Nobel Prizes to your Portfolio

nerd money Dear Mr. Market:

What if you, the investor, had all the knowledge and findings that it took to win a Nobel Prize in Economics? Would you be a better investor? Believe it or not…with the amount of news disseminated in today’s hyper-information and “data dumping” world…you likely already have all it takes to be a more disciplined and well schooled investor.

This past Monday (10/14/2013) the winners of the prestigious Nobel Prize for Economics where announced.  All three winners were American, which marks a trend as at least one American has won the award since 1999.  The winners: Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller were recognized for their outstanding research and work in the financial markets.  While their work does not perfectly align there are several similarities and the bottom line is that you can never trust Mr. Market!

 Summary Of The Winners:

  • Eugene Fama’s research has revealed the efficiency of financial markets. If you’re a financial advisor who makes a living pitching expensive mutual funds or annuity products at clients you won’t likely have a framed portrait of Dr. Fama in your plush office.  Fama basically states that the market absorbs information so quickly that investors simply can’t outperform it consistently.  He is credited for popularizing the use of index funds as an investment option.
  • Lars Peter Hansen works strictly with data (econometrics), creating statistical models in an effort to test competing theories.  His work has allowed researchers to focus on what truly drives the financial markets. Of the three winners Hansen is the least known and popular but he ironically helps connect the other two winners’ work into something investors need to be aware of; you simply need to derive conclusions from what you do AND do not know.
  • Robert Shiller is best known for creating the Case-Shiller Home Price Index Study and now perhaps for the fact that he is married to Janet Yellen, the next Federal Reserve Chairman.  We’re huge fans of behavioral finance so the next time you hear someone talk about a “bubble” you will know who originally broke ground on the concept. His research has shown that investors are irrational and that markets develop bubbles that will eventually burst (he predicted both the Tech and Real Estate Bubbles). Continue reading