The Top Five Investment Surprises of 2014

Happy New Year! We hope you, your family, and friends made the holiday season one to remember and that you are feeling relaxed and recharged as we begin 2015. All in all, 2014 was a rewarding year for investors, particularly those with a healthy allocation to U.S. equities. Here are asset class returns for the fourth quarter and full year: Index Asset Class Fourth Quarter 2014 Full Year 2014 Barclays Capital U.S. Int. Government / Credit Index Fixed Income 0.9% 3.1% S&P 500 Large U.S. Stock 4.9% 13.7% Russell 2000 Small U.S. Stock 9.7% 4.9% MSCI ACWI ex-USA Foreign Stock -3.9% -3.9% S...
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Investing for the Long Term: How Long is Long Term?

After a strong start to the year, global equities retreated in the third quarter among continued geopolitical concerns and mixed economic news. The rise of ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria, escalating conflict between Hamas and Israel, continued tension between Russia and Ukraine, roiling protests in Hong Kong, and concerns about the sustainability of a relatively unimpeded move up in global equity markets following the global financial crisis drove many investors to the relative safety of bonds and large U.S. stocks during the quarter. Despite many negative global data points, news from the U.S....
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Resisting the Siren Song of Stock Market Timing

We hope your summer is off to a great start and that you enjoyed a long, relaxing Fourth of July weekend with family and friends. Stocks continued grinding higher in the second quarter, with U.S. indices hitting new highs at the end of June. Stock market volatility remains very low. One big surprise of 2014 has been the decline in interest rates (bond prices rising), despite the Federal Reserve cutting its purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds. The benchmark 10-year Treasury bond yield began the year at 3.0%; many forecasters had predicted that it would be in the 3.5% to 4.0% range by now. Instead...
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Applying the Teachings of a Nobel Laureate for Over 20 Years

Welcome to 2014!  We hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season! Stocks continued marching upward in the fourth quarter.  Despite modest expectations as the year began, the S&P 500 index of Large U.S. Stocks notched its best annual performance since 1997, with a 32.4% total return.  Small U.S. Stocks shot even higher, with the Russell 2000 up 38.8% for the year.  Even better, the gains came without the anxiety-inducing volatility to which we have grown accustomed in recent years.  Certain niches of the global stock market—Emerging Market Stocks and Real Estate Securities in particular—...
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The Importance of Maintaining Investment Discipline Amidst Political Dysfunction and Uncertainty

As we write this letter in the first days of the new fiscal year, much of the federal government has shut down for the first time in 17 years.  This situation resulted from Congress failing to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for the next several months.  House Republicans have adopted a hard line, insisting that any CR be accompanied by significant cutbacks and/or delays in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, conditions that President Obama and Democrats find unacceptable.  To make matters worse, within the next couple of weeks, we...
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