Monthly Archives: April 2011

Jeremy Grantham, Investing, Natural Resources, and Retirement Planning

Jeremy Grantham, of asset management firm GMO, is one of the most insightful ‘deep thinkers’ in the financial world.  His outlooks have also proven remarkably accurate through the years.  In his latest essay (free registration required), Grantham takes on the issue of commodities prices.  His piece is long and detailed, and the issues he raises are of considerable importance (whether or not you actually agree with his conclusions). Continue reading

Socially Responsible Investing in 2011

Today there is something on the order of $100 billion invested in socially responsible mutual funds and ETFs, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The Social Investment Forum estimates that, including all individual and institutional investing, there could be as much as $3 trillion in socially-focused investing today.

But the very definition of  socially responsible investing (SRI) is in flux.  Has it become easier for someone to build an investment portfolio that balances both their financial goals and social good? Continue reading

Tackling Tactical Asset Allocation

Since the market turbulence of the late 2000′s shot investors’ faith in more traditional investing, there’s been quite a lot of discussion of Tactical Asset Allocation.

This form of investing focuses on allocating certain portions of your portfolio to different asset classes, and then ramping up or pulling back on any one of those classes depending on certain factors. The most common of those factors is valuation: if stocks, for example, start to look very cheap based on historical metrics (like price to earnings ratios) you might load up on those. World events might drive some sector rotation as well. Uncertainty in the oil producing regions of the world might convince an investor that there could be an economic slowdown brewing and push them to put more into cash.

Doubts About Tactical Asset Allocation

In a way, it’s a middle ground between trying to pick individual winning stocks and hands-off investing, which focuses on the long term and minimal trading. The problem is, it’s hard to consistently do well. Continue reading

Mint, Anyone?

A guest blog by Jenny Hollingworth

(photo:Jing a Ling)

If I were leaving for college next week (and oh how I wish I were!) how much better my student money, or lack of it, might be managed second time around, with the help of Mint.com.

Hip 19-year-olds are already talking about it, alongside Facebook and Twitter and all the other must-have-at-my-fingertips websites and apps. (The site now has 4 million users.) Ten minutes spent tapping your information into the Mint.com website, and you can have instant access to the state of your finances. All at once, you can see how much you have in the bank, how much you owe, how much you’re over budget already, and why you really should spend what’s left on textbooks rather than iTunes.

But now that I’ve grown into the kind of person who pays her bills on time and reliably remembers to call her mother, can Mint really be trusted? And what can it do for me? Continue reading

International Investing in Uncertain Times

Political turmoil in the Middle East and Africa, a natural and nuclear disaster in Japan, rekindling European debt crises: It’s easy to understand why investors may shy away from investing in foreign stocks these days.

They may be making a mistake.

Reluctant Global Investors

“There’s so much fear out there,” says Darleen Gilmore, founder of Austin Wealth Specialists, an investment advisor who likes clients to put a certain percent of their holdings into global markets. “I have to ease them into it.” Continue reading

How to Measure Your Investment Portfolio — Part Two

There are a large number of statistical measures available for looking at a mutual fund, ETF, stock or a combination of these in the total portfolio.

So what are the important measures and what do they mean?

I dove into this topic yesterday with a discussion of two important measures: Volatility and Beta. Today I’ll add six more to watch.

Continue reading

How To Measure Your Investment Portfolio — Part One: Volatility & Beta

There are a large number of statistical measures available for looking at a mutual fund, ETF, stock or a combination of these in the total portfolio.

For an individual investor, what are the important measures and what do they mean? Over the next two days I will highlight the measures I think are critical to understanding and managing your investing portfolio.

Today, I’ll start with the best measurement of risk in any investment – its volatility. Continue reading

Estimating Rates of Return: What Do the Pros Do?


What rate of return can we realistically expect from our investments?
7%? 8% 12?!
This is no academic brain teaser to anyone saving for retirement or a down payment. It’s not easy to get right, and getting it right is critically important.
Guess too low, and you end up with a dour view of your chances of making your financial goal. Guess too high, and you could end up in dire straights.

If it’s any consolation to the amateur investor, the pros often can’t agree on rate of return either. Continue reading