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November 2014 Performance Review

The U.S. stock market, fueled at least partially by (what now seems like) permanently low interest rates and a lack of investment opportunity abroad, is on to new highs again. The strange thing is that oil is plunging, non-U.S. economies are weak, and recent Black Friday sales were lackluster. You'd almost think we were in another global recession. 

Watch Out For Winners and Bill Gross Wannabes

Using past performance to pick your investments doesn’t usually work. You’ve heard this all before. It’s not a guarantee of future returns, yada, yada, yada…But what's a poor investor who still believes in the virtues of good old-fashioned stock and bond picking supposed to do? Choose funds with bad returns?

October 2014 Performance Review

And poof it was gone. So much for our stock market correction, which abruptly reversed course a mere month after its start and before it became a 10% "correction" (at least for U.S. stocks). The recovery was slightly faster than the drop, and as of now has taken the stock market a tad higher than the previous peak of September 18th. 

How We Doin' Mini-Crash Edition

Although this latest slide, which started about a month ago in mid-September, isn’t that big of a deal in percentage terms for the U.S. market, both the speed of the drop as well as bigger drops in hot growth stocks are scaring investors lulled into a false sense of security by a market with few down interruptions in recent years.

September 2014 Performance Review

September was a down month all around, except for those who are aggressively shorting. Although we are doing a little of that in our Aggressive portfolio, our modest short allocation didn't generate enough upside to make up for the dual slides in bonds and stocks. 

Trade Alert

Today we sold our two PIMCO funds in our Conservative portfolio (and the majority of our PIMCO fund holdings in our client accounts) and moved into Vanguard Mortgage-Backed Securities ETF (VMBS).

Our Short and Sweet Guide to Interest Rate Armageddon

For some reason, investor fear of rising interest rates gets more press than the brewing tech bubble. Maybe it’s the risk/reward comparison that scares investors. Sure, it won’t be good for Alibaba (BABA) investors coming in at a quarter trillion dollar market cap if earnings growth stagnates,  or Netflix (NFLX) investors buying at ~100 P/E ratios, but those companies could have more than the 3-4% annual gain longer-term investment-grade bond buyers can look forward to if things go well. 

August 2014 Performance Review

It seems the only record left to break is the old high in the NASDAQ, circa March 10th 2000. The tech-heavy benchmark finished that day at a delirious 5,048.62 — a mere 10% rise from today's level. If only Pets.com stuck around long enough to make an app with GPS tracking of your dog food order...

Ups and Downs

As the market continues to erase every pullback in short order, investors are focusing less on downside risk and more on  upside potential. Controlling losses is no longer a priority.  As the markets heat up, investors want a piece of the action. As contrarians, that isn’t our approach, and it shouldn’t be yours, either. Ideally, concern for downside should rise along with the market, just as ensuring you’re positioned for the rebound should be your objective during a long bear market. 

July 2014 Performance Review

Stocks finally took a breather at the end of the month as investor enthusiasm for newer startup and growth stocks may have hit an old economy wall of debt problems in Argentina and political instability in multiple locations. The global stock and bond market can't live on Facebook earnings and iPhone 6 expectations alone.