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March 2018 Performance Review

The relatively tame overall decline of 2.56% in the S&P 500 in March belies the extreme swings that have occurred in the market lately. In the last two months we've seen a fairly quick 10% drop followed by a very quick recovery and then another collapse just recently. Hot tech stocks actually moved to new highs in the bounce back.

Februrary 2018 Performance Review

The problem with a fast climbing market is that sometimes it falls just as fast. This was the case in 1929, 1987, and 2000. Valuations like P/E ratios are relevant to long-term returns but don't mean much when facing extreme short-term volatility. Investors want to make money during sharp rises but don't want to get caught without a chair when the music stops; they tend to leave quickly and in droves at the first hint of a downturn.

January 2018 Performance Review

Too much of a good thing is the main worry right now. We cut taxes into an already heating up economy which will lead to more inflation which will cause the federal reserve to raise rates higher than they would with no tax cuts. This means higher mortgage and other financing rates — and if those go high enough we could be looking at another recession.

December 2017 Performance Review

In 2017 the Powerfund Portfolios gained 13% and 12.1% in our Conservative and Aggressive portfolios respectively. It must have been a hot year in the markets because these were underwhelming returns, not considering downside.

November 2017 Performance Review

It doesn't seem like what you would want to do in the face of dead-end bonds and fast rising equities globally (not to mention the increasing likelihood of corporate tax cuts), but we may have to take the portfolio's risk levels down a bit soon. Hopefully a risk reduction will be contrarian and not stupid…but the two often walk hand-in-hand.

October 2017 Performance Review

OK it's official: the market is overheating. What minor skittishness there was around the 30th anniversary of the 1987 crash evaporated faster than a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler spilled on the hood of a VW Rabbit in the parking lot of a summer concert featuring Poison, Ratt, and Cinderella.

September 2017 Performance Review

Stocks were hot and recent bond gains evaporated as investors moved back into risky assets. Interest rate sensitive stocks (like telecom and utilities) were down as well — 10-year treasury bond yields moved from just over 2% in early September to over 2.3% by the end of the month.

August 2017 Performance Review

The portfolios had a good month relative to the benchmarks and Vanguard's total portfolio fund. With our gains in August we're almost neck and neck with a double-digit (for 2017) S&P 500 with significantly less downside risk.

June 2017 Performance Review

Even with the drag of shorting and longer-term government bonds, we had a solid month against benchmarks with the extra boost from some foreign markets. Coincidentally, our conservative portfolio had the exact same return as our Vanguard Star fund benchmark, which is riskier than our conservative model portfolio.

June 2017 Performance Review

Most markets flattened out in June with very few areas rising or falling much. The strongest areas in stocks were small-cap in general and value oriented stocks of all sizes. China, Japan, and other markets in Asia where strong while Europe was weak.