The Case for Optimism

Recently The Wall Street Journal published an exceptional commentary by French free-market journalist Guy Sorman titled “The Case for Optimism,” which is reproduced below. “Are we better off than our generational predecessors?  Some say no, but I’m old enough for such pessimism to seem absurd.  My parents knew nothing of modern conveniences like central heating, … Continued

Alternative Investments: Buyers Beware

There is a spirited debate within the investment community on the role that “alternative investments” should play in one’s portfolio.  In the simplest of terms, an alternative investment is an investment in an asset class other than stocks, bonds and cash.  One of the rationales used to promote these investments is that by introducing alternative … Continued

Market Timing?

A few days ago The Wall Street Journal carried an excellent article by Mark Hulbert, basically concluding that, “trying to time the market is by and large a losing proposition, even for the pros.” Mr. Hulbert further noted that, “it is hard to decide when the market has peaked and it’s time to get out.  It … Continued

Portfolio Management in a Volatile Market

It has been said that “flying is hours and hours of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of stark panic.” The stock market would seem to have some of the same attributes.  Most of the time, the popular averages tend to drift along, generally with a moderately positive bias, and relatively modest percentage gains and losses. … Continued

Credit Risk

Wikipedia defines credit risk as the risk that a borrower will default on any type of debt by failing to make required payments.  With the recent news regarding Argentina’s debt, this may be a good time for investors to carefully review their fixed income strategy. Two years ago, we blogged the question, “If You Borrow … Continued

Compounding: The Secret to Wealth Accumulation

Vote early and vote often is a tongue-in-cheek phrase used in relation to elections and the voting process, often with reference to Chicago and Cook County. Save early and save often is the key to wealth creation through the miracle of compound interest. Saving early is critical.  A dollar saved and invested at 10% when … Continued

Do Corporations Pay Income Taxes?

The whole issue of corporate tax rates has boiled to the surface, in conjunction with a recent uptick in relocations overseas. Known as inversions, some U.S. firms employ these in an effort to reduce their overall tax liability.  The entire issue of corporate taxes, tax rates and the appropriate treatment of foreign income are properly … Continued

Hedge Funds and Alternative Investments

Recently the Wall Street Journal[1] reported that the largest public pension fund in America, “California Public Employees Retirement System” (known as Calpers), is reducing its exposure to hedge funds by an estimated 40%. When interviewed, a spokesman indicated Calpers has decided to take a “back to basics approach” with regard to investing and portfolio construction.  … Continued

Successful Investing and Diversification

Recently, Paul Krugman, a well known Nobel Prize winning economist and a regular New York Times columnist, suggested that the wealthiest Americans wanted a depression because aggressive monetary policy has materially reduced their income from bonds and other interest-paying assets. While it is very likely that the wealthy, like the rest of us, have suffered … Continued

Is It Too Late for My Kid’s College Savings Plan?

Everyone can agree that education is important and costly.  College savings can be so overwhelming that it paralyzes some from developing and implementing an investment plan.  The high and increasing costs, coupled with the uncertainty in capital markets, oftentimes creates inaction that can be detrimental to one’s long-term college savings goals.  Sometimes seeing some averages … Continued

The Perils of Prophesy

Investment strategies, of necessity, involve estimates and projections. First, investors, as part of constructing a portfolio strategy, should, in conjunction with their advisor(s), prepare a carefully developed projection of their financial outlook and objectives. Second, investors must recognize that investment decisions, designed to implement a portfolio strategy, rely on estimates of future corporate operating results, … Continued

Second Chances: Investing in Your Life

Approximately one year ago, shortly after getting in bed for the night, I felt this intense pain in my sternum. Was I having a heart attack?  Should I get up and take some Aleve?  Would that mask symptoms?  The thoughts began to rush at me, nearly working me into a frenzied panic, a feeling of … Continued