I have been struggling to understand a problem that I am going to refer to as the ‘yield paradox.’ Yields for individual asset classes look low. The 10-year Treasury bond is yielding about 1.9%, and 30-year Treasury bonds are yielding a similarly paltry 3%. The S&P 500 is yielding 2.1%, which is very low by comparison to historical levels. Investment-grade corporate bond indexes are yielding less than 4% (see LQD, for example, at 3.8%). Given that the official rate of inflation for 2012 was 1.7%, these yields mean that investors are getting very little yield net of inflation. The very low yields on bonds and on stock indexes is a direct result of the Fed’s actions in holding interest rates at historical lows via Quantitative Easing. We have not yet gotten to the paradox. (more…)
Archive for January, 2013
Posted in Asset Allocation, Bonds, Dividends, Risk, Stock Investing, tagged Corporate Bonds, junk bonds, Master Limited Partnerships, MLPs, Monte Carlo Simulation, mortgage reits, Municipal Bonds, Quantitative Easing, Treasury bonds, yield paradox on January 31, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Posted in 401(k), Asset Allocation, Diversification, Long-term investing, Mutual Funds, pensions, Retirement, Risk, tagged glidepath, pension protection act, retirement plan participants, risk targets, Target Date Folios, Target Date Funds, target percentage, traditional target on January 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
The intent of target date strategies is to provide investors with fully-diversified portfolios that evolve appropriately as investors age. Target date funds have enjoyed enormous growth over recent years, not least because the Pension Protection Act of 2006 allows employers to direct retirement plan participants into these funds as the default investment option. Consultancy Casey Quirk projects that target date funds will hold almost half of all assets in 401(k) plans by 2020.
Target Date Folios are an alternative to traditional target date funds, launched on the Folio Investing platform in December of 2007. These portfolios now have more than five years of performance history. Prior to the design of the Folios, a detailed analysis of target date funds suggested that they could be considerably improved. The Folios were designed to provide investors with an enhanced target date solution. In this article, I will discuss the design and performance of the Folios and target date mutual funds over this tumultuous period. The risk and return characteristics of these funds and Folios provides insight into the effectiveness of different approaches to portfolio design and diversification. (more…)
Posted in Asset Allocation, Investors, Long-term investing, Market Timing, Mutual Funds, Stock Investing, tagged DOW Jones Industrial Average, mutual fund fees, mutual fund investors, mutual fund management on January 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
There is increasing evidence of big flows of money into equities and leaving bonds. This is being seen at all levels in the market, including among institutional investors such as pension plans. The Wall Street Journal just published an article discussing this shift called Are Mom and Pop Heading for Wall Street? Mutual fund flows suggest that investors are finally returning to equities, after selling in droves over the past several years. This article summarizes the issue:
From April 2009 through now, mutual-fund investors sold a quarter trillion dollars in stock funds, according to recent data from the Investment Company Institute.
Ironically, that selloff coincided with a period of stellar performance in stocks—when the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 60%. (more…)
Posted in Diversification, ETFs, Investors, Long-term investing, Low Cost Investing, Regular Investing, retirement planning, Risk, Uncategorized, Volatility, tagged diversification strategy, folios, fund performance, Retirement Investing, risk targeting, target date, Target Date Folios, Target Date Funds on January 24, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Folio Investing’s Successful ETF-Based Alternative to Legacy Target-Date Funds Offers Superior Diversification, Risk Targeting and Flexibility; Firm Seeks Distribution Partner to Broaden Availability
Folio Investing announced today that, over the five years since they were brought to market in December 2007, its Target Date Folios have significantly outperformed traditional target-date funds. The Folios have provided both higher returns and lower volatility than the competing funds during this tumultuous period. (more…)
Guest post by Contributing Editor, Robert P. Seawright, Chief Investment and Information Officer for Madison Avenue Securities.
Pretty much since the day I wrote it, my Investors’ 10 Most Common Behavioral Biases has been the most popular post on this blog. It still gets a surprising number of hits all these months later. Due to the pioneering work of Daniel Kahneman and others, nearly everyone in the financial world acknowledges the reality of cognitive and behavioral biases and their impact on people, the markets and life in general. It’s a very popular subject. (more…)
The price of a share of Apple (AAPL) is almost 30% below the high that it set back in September 2012—about five months ago. Even before its peak, the price of Apple shares had already made it the most valuable company in history. In those heady times, Apple shares reached $702. Today, they are at $503. Even today, however, Apple remains the largest single holding in the S&P 500 at about 3.6% of the total index. It is mind boggling to consider that the market value of the most valuable public firm in history could decline by 30% in five months, without some sort of catastrophic event. But this is the situation and there are some lessons to be drawn. (more…)
Posted in Bonds, Dividends, Global Investing, Inflation, Market Outlook, Risk, tagged Corporate Bonds, dividend yield, emerging bond market, equities, global money management, inflation risk, Jason Hsu, market forecast, outlook, P/E, predictions, price-to-earnings on January 11, 2013 | 1 Comment »
In general, I ignore the spate of market predictions that experts issue at the start of each year. There are exceptions, and after reading Jason Hsu’s outlook for this year, I am pleased to recommend it to readers. Dr. Hsu is the Chief Investment Officer at global money management firm, Research Affiliates. I found his article both insightful and appropriately skeptical of all forecasts. How can you not appreciate a money manager who starts his prediction for the year ahead with John Galbraith’s quip that “the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable”?
I am going to mention a few of the elements of Hsu’s outlooks and add some thoughts. Hsu first examines the drivers for bonds and then equities. I will follow this structure. (more…)
Posted in Asset Allocation, Bonds, Diversification, ETFs, Markets, tagged asset allocation strategies, Burton Malkiel, expense ratios, market cap, market indexes, sectors, stock indexes, stock market index, Target Date Folios, Vanguard on January 7, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Vanguard has just reduced the expense ratios of 24 of its ETFs. The reductions are fairly substantial. What I noticed, in particular, is that the reductions include sector-specific ETFs.
The Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE), the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT), the Vanguard Telecom ETF (VOX), and the Vanguard Utility ETF (VPU) each now have 0.14% expense ratios vs. 0.19% previously. While the expense ratios of these funds were already low, the new expenses are 26% lower than before. (more…)