Market insights and analysis

How dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions are performing in the current market environment

2nd Quarter | 2021

Market insights and analysis

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Updates on how dynamic, risk-managed investment solutions are performing in the current market environment.

I’ve been dealing with knee problems for several years now. As a result, I started reviewing medical literature looking for options. During my research, I read a blog post by Dr. Kevin Stone of the San Francisco–based Stone Clinic. The clinic is considered one of the leading knee clinics in the county. It is the first stop for many pro athletes dealing with knee injuries.

Market Update 9/13/21

The major U.S. stock market indexes were generally lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.1%, the S&P 500 Index fell 1.7%, the NASDAQ Composite gave up 1.6%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index slumped 2.8%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield gained 2 basis points to finish at 1.28%, sending bond prices lower for the week. Spot gold closed the week at $1,788.35, down $39.37 per ounce, or 2.2%.

Since I began investing in the late 1960s, I have always been in the active investing camp. When I started Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., in 1981, the only investment services we offered were active management (and that is still true today). I thought an investment manager should be “flexible” rather than locked into a rigid buy-and-hold approach.

Eleven years ago, I wrote about the triumph resulting from having a plan B. In today’s headlines, we can see what happens when there is no plan B.

In medicine, as in sports, much of the excitement is generated by the knockout punch—the quick, single action that is going to end both a fight and an illness. But just as we often saw in the Olympics, and as we are increasingly finding in medicine, the practical solution comes in the combination, the one-two punches, that score the most points and earn a victory.

The Declaration of Independence sets out one of our “unalienable Rights” as “the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet there has been much debate over the centuries about what happiness truly is and how we can obtain it.

The major U.S. stock market indexes were generally lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4%, the S&P 500 Index also fell 0.4%, the NASDAQ Composite gave up 1.1%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index—the lone gainer—picked up 0.75%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 5 basis points to 1.22%, boosting bond prices for the week. Spot gold closed the week at $1,814.19, up $12.04 per ounce, or 0.67%.

As humans, we love to mark special events. They’re an opportunity to come together and celebrate with our friends and relatives from near and far.

The major U.S. stock market indexes finished generally higher last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%, the S&P 500 Index rose 0.4%, the NASDAQ Composite also climbed 0.4%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index—the lone loser—dropped 1.1%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 6 basis points to 1.36%, boosting bond prices for the week. Spot gold closed at $1,808.32, up $21.02 per ounce, or 1.18%.

Recently I was reading a special Spotlight issue of Proactive Advisor Magazine, a free weekly magazine dedicated to promoting and educating the adviser community on active investment management. The issue focused on the active versus passive management debate. It contained three short articles by a researcher, a member of an investment performance database and publishing firm, and a behavioral finance professor. All concluded that active management should coexist with passive management, but for different reasons.

The major U.S. stock market indexes finished lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3.4%, the S&P 500 Index gave back 1.9%, the NASDAQ Composite tumbled 0.3%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index dropped 4.2%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 1 basis point to 1.44%. Spot gold closed at $1,764.16, down $113.37 per ounce, or 6.04%.

many clocks

Since the beginning of recorded history, living in the moment has been valued. In Buddhism, it’s said that “being mindful of the present is the key to happiness.” And according to Matthew 6:34, Christ said, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.”

It can be good to be a part of the herd

I never liked the concept of people being referred to as part of a herd. Yet it has become pretty common in the media.

Exposed

Like a skeleton found in a closet, investors discovered in the first quarter of 2020 that their portfolios were not being managed in the manner in which they had believed.

The major U.S. stock market indexes finished lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.1%, the S&P 500 Index gave back 1.4%, the NASDAQ Composite tumbled 2.3%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index dropped 2.1%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 5 basis points to 1.63%, taking bonds lower for the week. Gold was the only winner. Spot gold closed at $1,843.43, up $12.19 per ounce, or 0.67%.

The “Easy Button” is for real

It seemed like magic. Push the little red button and it transformed your life. That was the message of an early 2000s marketing campaign from Staples. I loved the thought of it. One touch, no further work or involvement, and your problems were solved.

When you go to a restaurant (remember those?), you know if you had a good meal. And you know if the service is above average and deserving of a larger tip than usual. Your five senses give you all the answers. But what about your investment manager? How do you know if he or she or they are doing a good job of managing your investments for you? The easy answer is, “Look at their performance.”

Que será, será: Terrible investing advice

Doris Day, a top box-office draw of the 1950s and early ’60s, has always been one of my favorite entertainers.

The major stock market indexes finished lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%, the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.7%, the NASDAQ Composite fell 0.8%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index tumbled 2.8%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 10 basis points to 1.727%, sending bonds lower for the week despite a late-week rally. Last week, spot gold closed at $1,745.23, up $18.12 per ounce, or 1.1%.

Why dynamic risk management is right for investor portfolios

Since I began investing in the late 1960s, I have always been in the active investing camp. When I started Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., in 1981, the only investment services we offered were active management (and that is still true today). I thought an investment manager should be “flexible” rather than locked into a rigid buy-and-hold approach.

The major stock market indexes tumbled last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.8%, the S&P 500 Index declined 2.5%, the NASDAQ Composite fell 4.9%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index dipped 2.9%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 6 basis points to 1.405%, as its price weakened. Spot gold closed the week at $1,734.04, down $50.21 per ounce, or 2.8%.

Market Update 2/8/21

The major stock market indexes soared higher last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 3.9%, the S&P 500 Index rose 4.6%, the NASDAQ Composite climbed 6.0%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index increased 7.7%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 10 basis points to 1.168%, as its price weakened. Spot gold closed the week at $1,814.11, down $3.54 per ounce, or 1.82%.

Don’t let market volatility become your volatility

I’m sure most of you noticed the recent spike in market volatility during the last week of January, related in part to the highly unusual trading in heavily shorted stocks such as GameStop and AMC. The VIX volatility index, known as the market’s “fear gauge,” jumped to 37 on Wednesday, January 27. According to Bloomberg, this was “the biggest one-day move since the pandemic-spurred market crash” in March 2020. CNBC reported that the VIX closed on January 29 “with its biggest weekly gain since June [2020].”

The major stock market indexes finished higher last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6%, the S&P 500 Index rose 1.9%, the NASDAQ Composite climbed 4.2%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index increased 2.2%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield and its price ended the week essentially flat. Last week, spot gold closed at $1,855.61, up $27.16 per ounce, or 1.5%.

Remember what the Dormouse said

One of my favorite gifts for Christmas was Haley Reinhart’s album “What’s That Sound?” Reinhart was a finalist on “American Idol” in 2011. I was repeatedly surprised while watching the show by the range and emotive power of her singing voice, and I have followed her career ever since. In recent years, she has been one of the stars of Scott Bradlee’s popular Postmodern Jukebox shows.

The major stock market indexes finished mixed last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4%, the S&P 500 Index rose 1.4%, and the NASDAQ Composite increased 0.7%. In contrast, the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index lost 1.5%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield and its price ended the week essentially flat. Last week, spot gold closed at $1,898.02, up $14.59 per ounce, or 0.8%.

Are you a fox or a hedgehog in your investing?

A short fragment of poetry over 2,600 years old set the academic world ablaze when it was cited in 1951. Attributed to one of the greatest Greek poets, Archilochus of the Greek island of Paros, was this simple phrase: “Πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα.” The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

4 unconventional ways to manage risk in your portfolios

Over the years I have written about “Plan B Investing” and “Just-In-Case Investing.” Both of these are similar but different.

The major stock market indexes finished mostly lower last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6%, the S&P 500 Index fell 1.0%, and the NASDAQ Composite declined 0.7%. In contrast, the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index advanced 1.0%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 7 basis points, and bond prices were up slightly. Last week, spot gold closed at $1,862.73, up $23.87 per ounce, or 1.3%.

The major stock market indexes finished mixed last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%, the S&P 500 Index fell 0.8%, the NASDAQ Composite rose 0.2%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index rose 2.4%. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 7 basis points, and bond prices were up slightly. Last week, spot gold closed at $1,870.99, down $18.21 per ounce, or 0.96%.

Special 2020 Election Update: Part 2

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the different scenarios that history teaches are possible based on the party in control of the presidency and Congress. This was done through the lens of our Political Seasonality Index (PSI) that I developed for a series of columns back in the nineties for Barron’s magazine.

The major stock market indexes finished to the downside last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 6.5%, the S&P 500 Index fell 5.6%, the NASDAQ Composite slipped 5.5%, and the Russell 2000 small-capitalization index lost ground at a 6.2% rate. The 10-year Treasury bond yield rose 3 basis points, causing Treasury bonds generally to fall. Last week, spot gold closed lower at $1,878.81, down $23.24 per ounce, or 1.2%.

When surprises occur in everyday investing

When we think of our lives or just talk about what we have been doing lately with a friend, we tend to focus on big events. If we have just started a new job or a baby was born, the event dominates our conversations. Similarly, in the news, election and pandemic news can consume the headlines and color what we think is occurring around us.

Differences matter

Differences matter

My involvement in politics as a volunteer, employee, and consultant stretches back more than 60 years. During that time, I have always been an advocate on behalf of specific candidates.

Does every day seem the same as the last? That’s the complaint I hear most often as the pandemic wears on.

Personal benchmarks

I can still feel the doorjamb pressed hard against the back of my head, each move causing a painful tug against an errant strand of hair. But I wanted to be there, and I strained to stretch my body upward, fighting the urge to resort to tiptoes. Dad took the ruler and balanced it evenly on the top of my head. He then quickly penciled in a line at its intersection with the molding behind me.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is one of the most enduring musicals written. It first previewed here in Detroit in 1964, and I’m sure regional or touring companies will continue performing it in the future for many years to come. And, of course, the movie version is always available!

It was over 30 years ago. I sat in a pew in a little church on the village green of Franklin, Michigan. It was the usual Sunday service, but I was stirred by the sermon from a minister who was still relatively new to me.

It’s been 51 years since we have brought a new puppy into our household. Don’t get me wrong. We love dogs and have had quite a number over the years. But it took five decades—during which we rescued many young adult dogs—before we decided we would try adopting a six-month-old puppy again.

Since I began investing in the late 1960s, I have always been in the active investing camp. When I started Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., in 1981, the only investment services we offered were active management (and that is still true today). I thought an investment manager should be “flexible” rather than locked into a rigid buy-and-hold approach.

Along with jigsaw puzzle purchases, the number of new people engaging in gardening has increased this year, as we spend more time at home due to the pandemic. As Rutgers University professor, Joel Flagler explains it, “There are certain, very stabilizing forces in gardening that can ground us when we are feeling shaky, uncertain, terrified really. It’s these predictable outcomes, predictable rhythms of the garden that are very comforting right now.”

Businesses around the world have seen their sales dry up as people have restricted their movement in the wake of the pandemic. There has been much talk about how Amazon and other online retailers have bucked the trend. Another segment of the retail marketplace has also been thriving despite the virus fears.

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Exposed

Like a skeleton found in a closet, investors discovered in the first quarter that their portfolios were not being managed in the manner in which they had believed.

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Last fall I wrote a couple of articles about how the financial industry and press may have been premature in reporting on the death of so many industry strategy favorites (you can read them here and here). The 60/40 balanced portfolio, value investing, hedge fund, and momentum strategies were all discussed.

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I don’t know whether you are in a state that is beginning to get out from under a stay-at-home order or if you are, like us here in Michigan, still very much in the shelter-in-place mode. But one thing I am certain of—you want to get out of the house and do something. Anything!

The Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting last year drew over 30,000 people to Nebraska to hear the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett. With the pandemic, this year the whole meeting was presented on the internet. Visit Omaha, the city’s tourism bureau, figures that will cost the citizens of that city about $21.3 million in lost compensation and revenues, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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“She broke what?!” I exclaimed. It was two summers ago, and I was trying to find out what had happened to my mother, who was 96 at the time, from a harried health-care aide who was phoning me while trying to assist a 911 crew moving Mom to the ambulance.

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When I was a kid, it seemed that Good Friday afternoon was always the same. The spring sunshine of the morning would be transformed into a cloudy afternoon. This Good Friday was no exception. Yet, as I sat looking out from my backyard deck on Friday afternoon, a small patch of blue sky stood out, like a turquoise broach pinned to a cable-knit sweater of multiple shades of gray.

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​​​​​​​One of my favorite novels is Joseph Heller’s 1961 best seller, “Catch-22.” As a teenager, I found the novel hilarious and surprisingly relevant given my father’s experiences in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He, like the chief protagonist in the novel, flew bomber missions in World War II. He spent three years dealing with the Air Corps’ regulations and bureaucracy, and he loved, as Heller did in the novel, to recount their absurdity.

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“These are not normal times!” I keep hearing and reading comments to this effect, and I have to ask myself, “What’s normal in a pandemic?”