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November 2018 Performance Review

November was a rocky month for stocks and bonds, but it ultimately ended on a positive note. Our portfolios did well compared to the Vanguard STAR fund, which has recently had more downside than our portfolios and potentially less upside as investors shift their portfolio strategies.

October 2018 Performance Review

Ouch. The good times ended in October and rather suddenly at that. There are many straws out there, and it's impossible to know which one broke the market's back but break it did. 

September 2018 Performance Review

In early October unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level since 1969. This is sending interest rates back up to 'normal' levels. The difference this time is the stock market is now sinking along with bonds

August 2018 Performance Review

At this stage it looks like the U.S. is winning the trade war, but some of this global stock divergence could be due to frightened international investors moving funds into the U.S. from suddenly scary looking emerging market stocks and bonds. 

July 2018 Performance Review

We're still underperforming for the year, with too much interest rate exposure and too little stock exposure, but for the month we were basically in line with the benchmark Vanguard total portfolio fund while still taking less risk in both our portfolios.

June 2018 Performance Review & Trade Announcement

At the end of June we made some trades in the Conservative portfolio largely because one of our holdings, ETRACS 1xMonthly Short Alerian MLP (MLPS), was liquidated for lack of investor interest.

May 2018 Performance Review

The market was rolling along just fine in May with the volatility from earlier in the year seemingly easing and good economic data slowly pushing up stocks and interest rates (and inflation). Then, at the end of the month, Italy returned as a potentially destabilizing force to foreign investing, sending Italian stocks (which we own directly through iShares MSCI Italy Capped (EWI)) down sharply and taking the euro and most other foreign markets down with it.

April 2018 Performance Review

Our slant towards longer-term bonds didn't help in April compared to benchmarks.

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.