When Common Sense Is Senseless

What was I thinking?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve preached caution.  Corporate profits were down and unemployment was up.  The economy wasn’t growing, but the federal debt was.  Iran was developing nuclear capabilities while the entire continent of Europe was going bankrupt.  And investors were still shell shocked from the 2008 financial meltdown.

Not a good time to invest in stocks.  Not a good time to invest, period.  Common sense dictated restraint.Bungee Jumping

And the federal government’s answer was to spend as much as possible, while printing more money and buying more bonds than at any time in history.  After record stimulus spending and $4 trillion in bond buying, common sense would suggest high inflation and a sagging stock market; a good time to invest in gold and other hard assets.

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Pick One: High Risk or Low Returns

Here’s your choice: Take on lots of risk and hope for the best or watch your standard of living erode.

The stock market has been soaring, thanks to the Federal Reserve Board’s quantitative easing program, which has continued to hold interest rates at or near record lows for several years now.

Investors came back into the market, not because the market was showing signs of strength, but because it became the least objectionable place for investors to put their money.

A 12-month certificate of deposit (CD) is yielding 1.25% interest today.  The U.S. inflation rate rose to 2.7% in March and is continuing to rise – a deliberate outcome of Fed policy.  So the real rate of return, in exchange for tying up your money for a year, is negative 1.45% (2.7% – 1.25%). read more

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“Buy and Hold” Is NOT “Still A Winner”

Investors are being advised by Princeton Professor Burton G. Malkiel (“ ‘Buy and Hold’ Is Still A Winner”) to hang in there, even when the market drops 60% of its value, as it did during 2008-2009.

But Professor Malkiel clearly has little understanding of active investment management, a valid alternative to “buy and hold” investing, which he equates to market timing.

Active investment managers use technical and fundamental research to drive their decision making.  Active managers aim to reduce volatility and draw downs by using proven techniques such as hedging and stop-loss orders, as well as some of the techniques he advocates in his column – diversification, dollar-cost averaging. read more

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Fixed-Income Investors Weather Sovereign Debt Crisis

Because of our focus on managing risk, fixed-income clients of Wenning Investments generally fared well during last week’s sovereign debt crisis, even though it created widespread panic in global markets around the world. 

Clients who hold a short bond position (TBT, PST) saw an unfavorable drop in prices, but we believe that the drop is temporary.  The position is held to provide a hedge against rising interest rates.  Interest rates fell last Thursday, but the overall trend is for interest rates to rise. read more

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Bust-Proof Investing For Boomers

We’ve been focussing on the “senior bust” that many baby boomers will face as they approach retirement. 

So how can baby boomers avoid the senior bust?

The starting point is to understand your finances.  You’ll need to know your current assets and have a good idea of how much you’ll need to live off during retirement.  Assuming your current retirement is not adequate, you’ll need to save more and invest wisely.

Some alternatives include:

Delay retirement.  The longer you work, of course, the more you can save and the longer it will be before you need to draw off of your retirement funds.  Assuming your children are grown and your expenses are minimal, you can probably save a great deal more for retirement than you could when you were younger. read more

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