The yield of an asset is a key component of predicting future returns. This is true for the yield on Treasury bonds as well as the dividend yield for stock indexes. The yield on aggregate bond indexes is considered a good proxy for future expected returns. The dividend yield of broad stock indexes has been shown to provide significant value in predicting future stock index returns. In both cases, low yields tend to predict high future returns, and vice versa. These arguments that yields predict returns are not without critics, especially for equities. Continue reading
Time magazine has a new article on changes in the home ownership in America. The article, titled A Nation of Renters: Should We Be Worried That Fewer Americans Own Homes?, explores the substantial decline in the fraction of Americans who own their own homes. I have followed this issue for quite some time and the implications for investors may be substantial. Continue reading
In a recent post, I presented a list of the ‘core asset classes’ that investors need in order to build portfolios that fully exploit available diversification opportunities. That article focused on portfolios designed for total return potential, the combined return from price appreciation and income generated by the assets in the portfolio. For investors focusing on building income-generating portfolios, the core asset classes are somewhat different. In this article, I present a proposed set of core asset classes for income-focused investors, along with examples of representative funds. Continue reading
One of the most important questions for investors and advisors is identifying a set of asset classes that will be considered for inclusion in a portfolio. Some people will decide that all they need or want is one broad stock market index fund and one bond fund. Others will choose to include Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and commodities. There are well-thought-out arguments that inflation-protected government bonds (TIPS) are a major core asset class. It is also quite common for investors or advisors to break stocks out into value vs. growth and small cap vs. large cap. Continue reading
Today, the yields on ten-year Treasury bonds are at a fifty-year low, and no period prior to the last few years reflects yields that even come close. From 1962 to 2005, the lowest the 10-year Treasury bond yield ever got to was just below 4%, more than twice the current yield.
The chart below shows how unusual our current environment is. The vertical axis is the yield from 10-year Treasury Bonds and the horizontal axis is time and we are looking at a period from 1962 to present. From 1980 to today, we have seen the yield of 10-year Treasury bonds go from about 12% per year to below 2%. The 10-year Treasury yield is considered a benchmark measure of bond yield and interest rates. The Fed funds rate and the 10-year bond yield are very closely tied to one another. For another illustration of how interest rates, the Fed funds rate and 10-year bond yield are related, see here. Continue reading
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are companies that own and, typically, manage real estate investments to generate income. REITs may also invest in mortgage securities (these are called mortgage REITs or mREITs). REITs may specialize in specific types of properties. The Folio Investing Retail REIT Folio holds equal-weight allocations to the largest publicly-listed REITs that own and manage shopping centers, outlet malls, and urban retail property. Retail stores lease space from the REITs and the leases are the primary source of income. Continue reading
Generating Income: Part Four of Our Special Five Part Series
During their working years, investors focus on saving and investing with a goal of building wealth. As they enter retirement, either by ceasing paid employment entirely or by scaling back paid employment, investors shift their focus to using their portfolios to provide a reliable long-term stream of income. This transition from building wealth to income generation is the subject of a great deal of research in retirement planning. Once investors are at or near retirement, the most significant financial challenge is using their accumulated savings to provide substantial income for their retirement years. Continue reading
The financial services industry is in a period of substantial change. Low interest rates, new regulations and additional scrutiny are changing the landscape. Perhaps the biggest change is the transition of the first wave of Baby Boomers from working to retirement. Not only is this generation huge, but its also the first “401(k)” generation. The introduction of self-directed retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans, coincided with the “Baby Boomer Generation” (people born between 1946 and 1964) entering their peak saving years.
Beyond the 401(k)
The 401(k) plan was first introduced in 1980. In 1980, the oldest Boomers were 34 years old and entering the age range at which people really start to save. Not surprisingly, the financial services industry created a multitude of new financial products to pitch to these people. Thus began the era of the mutual fund. Continue reading
The volatility in the broad stock market has shaken investors’ belief in the true value of portfolio diversification. The problem is that many of the people who believe that diversification no longer works, may not know how to build a truly diversified portfolio.
Warren Buffett is widely quoted as saying : “Diversification is protection against ignorance.” I’ll admit, that sounds pretty negative. But what I believe he meant, however, is that you diversify when you are not sufficiently confident to bet on which asset (or asset class) will do well and which will do poorly.
Clearly, Mr. Buffett has done very well in managing a concentrated portfolio. But are you willing to take that bet? Continue reading
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