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All Posts By Michael Lecours, CFP

A Brief History of Bubbles

Excerpt from Faber’s “Learning to Love Investment Bubbles: What if Sir Isasc Newton Had Been a Trendfollower”

“From a behavioral and psychological standpoint [a trend following investment strategy] is often the most difficult to deploy when it is most useful. Strong discipline would have been required to sell technology stocks in 2000, REITs in 2007, or South Sea stock in 1720, especially when one’s colleagues, friends and neighbors were making money hand over fist. In the end, for those who imposed such discipline, it was the prudent choice.”

Seems relevant for what we’re seeing in today’s recovery.

If you want to read more about how trend following works during investment bubbles, read this paper (especially the summary at the end):

Have you shopped at Target lately?

Target announced today (article) that it was the victim of what may prove to be the largest data theft ever recorded. If you shopped at a Target in the last few weeks, your personal credit card or debit card (not just the Target-branded cards) may have been one of more than 40 million credit cards that were compromised. 40 million is also the population of California!

If you suspect you’re in that unfortunate group, you can check to see if there is any unusual activity on your account by going on line or calling customer service for your credit card. You can protest any fraudulent charges, and the credit card company will probably waive the charges after a brief investigation. Keep monitoring your account for the next month or so. If you’re suspicious and want to be extra cautious, ask your credit card company to freeze your account, and ask for a new card.

Identity theft has now affected one in 14 Americans, and losses from identity theft exceeded $47 billion in the last year, far more than all other property crimes combined.

Have you ever been affected? Send us an email with your story and we can post your experience, confidentially of course.

The Mississippi Bubble: One of the First Bubbles

There’s a lot of talk about if the US market is in a bubble these days. It’s next to impossible to determine if we are, in fact, in a bubble. But the media will do just about anything to produce a story that will get more people to read their publications.

Instead of reading their predictions, consider watching this video about one of the first economic bubbles ever recorded.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble by Richard Condie, National Film Board of Canada

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

Why Wasn’t There a Taper Tantrum?

If you recall, the markets declined by about 5% in May and then again in August due in part to the possibility of the fed reducing its bond buying program.

And then yesterday happened – the Fed went ahead and started to taper the bond buying program.

Based on the past, you would think the markets would have declined, right? Wrong. They surged upon hearing the news.

USA Today has a brief article that outlines five reasons why the markets reacted positively to the news.

Seven Mistakes to Avoid In the First Year of Retirement

USA Today outlines seven common mistakes that we constantly flag for our clients. If you are close to retirement, chances you have overlooked at least one of these. We see a lot of new retirees who don’t consider inflation in their planning process. Maybe they are more concerned about long tail events, like the great recession. And they forget about the slow, ever present erosion of purchasing power that occurs each and every year.

What Investors Have In Common With Dinos in Jurassic Park

There’s a great scene in Jurassic Park where Alan, Tim and Lex watch a stampede of dinosaurs suddenly change direction and head right toward them.  What made them change direction?  What made them decide that this new direction was any better?

Turns out investors do the same thing, just with their investments.  As they sense other investors moving into the market, they follow. As investors move from bonds to stocks, others follow. There is a perception that there is safety in numbers. Both dinosaurs and investors tend to act as “herds”.

Problem is that it’s a misperception. Following the herd can cost investors in the end.

Remember to stick to your investment strategy and don’t follow the heard… they could be headed for a cliff and not even know it.

It’s The Issues That Seem to Come Out of Nowhere That May Hurt Us The Most.

Stock market crashes and big economic recessions can be caused by a variety of factors. The real concern are the factors that seem to come out of nowhere; the ones that catch everyone, even the experts, off guard.

Take all this talk by the media predicting an economic downturn with a grain of salt. It’s next to impossible to predict events such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  Up until 2008, had you ever heard of a Mortgage Backed Security?

Bottom line: Your portfolio should be ready for anything at any point in time.

With Markets at All Time Highs, You Still Need to Be Prepared.

With the equity markets reaching all-time highs, you would think everyone on Wall Street would be dancing in the streets. Nope!  They’re using this time to talk about all the reasons why we’re in for a big correction, down turn, or crash.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s never clear sailing when it comes to investing. There will always be issues that make investors nervous. And the markets will always experience recessions.

But investors might forget that the markets do this funny thing when everyone is expecting the market to rise (or fall)… it might just do the exact opposite of what we expect.  Despite all of the expert opinions and the number crunching, there will always be the human equation to factor in and that’s hard to capture. Perhaps all this fuss is just noise and the markets will continue to climb.

Bottom line: Your portfolio should be ready for anything at any point in time.

Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Portfolio

Much of the attention over the last few months on the effects of interest rates and bond tapering on your portfolio focus on the immediate consequences – a decline in bond values.  But rising interest rates can be good for your portfolio over a longer time period due in part to reinvesting interest income.  Not to mention, it is a strong signal that the US economy can come off of life support.  See the chart for details.

So why did investors leave bonds during this summer? Could it be that investors are afraid another recession is around the corner and don’t have confidence in the markets?  Perhaps they are looking for a reason to sit in cash willing to wait for more clarity to come from the Fed.

That could be a costly mistake… just ask those who are sitting in cash since the Great Recession.

What a missed opportunity.