The Efficient-Market Hypothesis & DFA: The Building Blocks for Our Investment Philosophy Since 1991

For over 28 years, Dowling & Yahnke has invested client assets as fiduciaries. Our firm is independent with respect to the investment vehicles we use, freeing us to design portfolios we believe will best meet client objectives. We continuously scrutinize our investment philosophy and the tools we use, challenging our thinking and experience to ensure our clients receive the best experience possible based on their financial objectives, risk appetite, and tax situation. In this quarter’s newsletter, we will explore our longstanding relationship with Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). While DFA mutual funds represent a minority portion of the assets we use in building portfolios, many of the philosophical and practical concepts underpinning DFA’s approach also permeate our thinking.

Comments on Recent Market Volatility

Elevated stock market volatility, as we have seen the past two months, brings gloomy headlines and may elicit fear in some investors. Since the beginning of October, the U.S. stock market (Russell 3000 Total Return Index) has gone from being up nearly 11% for the year to up just 2% as of December 6th. Most of this decline has happened during a few sizeable down days in the market, which can be alarming. It is an impossible task to identify and quantify the specific causes of any market decline, but there are a few leading candidates this time:

A Lookback at the Financial Crisis - Monetary Policy and Inflation

Nearly a decade ago, our Federal Reserve Board of Governors (the Fed) engaged in an aggressive monetary expansion operation, which we all knew as Quantitative Easing or “QE.”  To avert what many saw as the next Depression, the Fed bought trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities from December 2008 to October 2014; thereby lowering long-term interest rates, stabilizing markets, and encouraging lending.  The Fed printed vast amounts of money to make these purchases on the secondary market.  Within a couple years, the Fed had trillions of dollars in new assets on its balance sheet.  Many pundits were alarmed and warned that this would cause rampant inflation.