All Posts By

Sam Bass Jr.

Good Comes from Market Corrections

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

We are nearing the 10-year anniversary of the stock market’s incredible recovery following the Great Recession which saw stocks lose 50% or more of their value. Since March 9th, the S&P and Dow are up nearly 300% while the US Total Market index is up 400%, not counting dividends. During this time, there have been six corrections in which markets have fallen more than 10% from earlier peaks.    While no one who owns stocks particularly enjoys market corrections, they are not only inevitable, they are valuable for free markets in that they ‘correct’ abuses and excesses. Continually rising stock

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Market Volatility Down For Now

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Remember that awful market drop starting in mid-September of last year? A strong market rally in January, the strongest in 30 years, is two thirds the way toward erasing it. The Fed pausing their rate increases for a while, China coming to the bargaining table in earnest, thousands of new private sector jobs created suggesting businesses largely ignored the government shutdown and bad weather, and 71% of S&P 500 companies reporting positive earnings surprises have all combined to restore confidence in the US economy among investors. The Federal Reserve likely deserves a large share of the credit for both the

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The Success Mechanism Within You

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

“It may seem strange, but it is nevertheless true, that up until [1950], scientists had no idea of just how the human brain and nervous system worked ‘purposely’ to achieve a goal”  Dr. Maxwell Maltz Through his phenomenally successful 1960 book Psycho Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz changed the way psychologists, self-help authorities, athletic trainers, behavioral experts and the rest of us understand how the Success Mechanism in each of us works to achieve goals, large and small. As the computer took center stage in the late 50’s as mankind’s latest marvel of human invention, Dr. Maltz asked the question: “Could it

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How to Navigate Volatile Markets

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Since October, large swings in the stock market have become commonplace, driven by a ceaseless stream of extraordinary economic and political news events. Apple hardly ever downgrades their earnings guidance. The Chinese economy hardly ever declines. Britain may be forced to leave the European Union without a trade/border deal adding significant economic, diplomatic, and political uncertainty to the region. The US dominance in space hasn’t been challenged since 1969, but China, Iran and others are now saber rattling in this new arena. The Federal Reserve hasn’t raised interest rates four times in a year since 2006. Along those lines, good

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Too Much Bah Humbug

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

During the past few weeks, markets have been batted around like a pinball, flipped by the Federal Reserve on the one side and government shut-down on the other. The active bumpers of China, BREXIT, oil prices, regulating big tech, global economic slowing, TWEETS, and a host of other recent news events have bounced our pinball market all over the table with more noise than points. Stocks, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Index are down 5.4% year to date, while the larger market, as measured by the S&P 500 and the CRSP Total US market are down more than

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What Are the Markets Telling Us?

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Markets are in a tizzy (a state of nervous excitement or agitation). Investors are asking, is the party over, is the bull market ending or are we just taking a pause? The latest volatility has been set off by ‘tariff-tweets,’ Fed talk, economic data, and the arrest of a Chinese CEO during trade talks. As global markets are mind-numbingly complex, the answer is definitely all of the above, and a lot more. But market catalysts pop and fizzle with short lives, the more important questions are what do the signs tell us will happen in the mid-term and the long-term

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Investment Efficiency

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

Efficiency measures what is produced against the inputs required to produce it. Efficiency is generally reduced by some form of drag, such as friction, cost, energy, or time, but there can be great reward in improving efficiency. An investment portfolio produces greater wealth as the friction of expenses, taxes, and under-performance relative to markets are reduced. While the most efficient way to achieve the returns of a particular market is to own that market. The most practical way of doing that is through the use of an Exchange Traded Fund or ETF. We use the VTI offered by Vanguard to efficiently

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Hurricanes and Market Turbulence

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

The last ten years of fair-weather markets have spoiled us a bit, but storms do come, and they can be ferocious. Just as Hurricane Michael came out of nowhere, so did a stock-selling spree that shaved more than 5% from the S&P 500. We are once again reminded that stock markets do not move in straight lines, and that emotions often get the better of investors. The US economy is strong. Corporate earnings have grown more than 20% for the past two quarters and are on pace to do the same for the third quarter of this year. Unemployment at

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What Are Your Priorities?

By | The Friday Brief | No Comments

One of the most important exercises in financial planning is laying out your priorities. A priority list and its order provide necessary guidance as to how we should best go about achieving our goals, and which ones are more important than others. The exercise is made all the more challenging in that we actually have two sets of priorities in our lives: Aspirational Priorities – those that we list when talking to our financial advisor or sharing with friends, and Confirmed Priorities – those actually reflected in our spending. The first represents our hopes and ideals, while the second confirms in

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The Cone of Uncertainty

By | The Friday Brief | One Comment

As Hurricane Florence continues endangering lives and destroying property, many of us wait in uncertainty, wondering how homes, boats, and treasured landmarks are faring. It’s personal and emotional kind of uncertainty, the kind that can’t be addressed by probabilities. But on the statistical side, the National Weather service could not have done a better job of predicting the path of Hurricane Florence, despite the  challenges of several high and low pressure systems, two tropical storms and three hurricanes in the region, each with their own degrees of uncertainty. The image below depicts the cone of uncertainty six days ago. The accuracy has

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