Just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the markets, Ray Dalio was recklessly dismissive of cash positions, stating "cash is trash." Even Goldman Sachs proclaimed that the economy was recession-proof via "Great Moderation," characterized by low volatility, sustainable growth, and muted inflation. Not only were these assessments incorrect, but they were ill-advised in what was an already frothy market with stretched valuations prior to COVID-19 hitting the markets. The COVID-19 pandemic was a true back swan event that no one saw coming as far as its abruptness, scale, and impact. This COVID-19 induced sell-off was the worst since the Great Depression in terms of breadth and velocity of the sell-off.
The S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones shed a third or more of their market capitalization through late March 2020. Some individual stocks lost over 80% of their market capitalization. Other stocks were hit due to the market-wide meltdown, and many opportunities were presented as a result. Investors were presented with a unique opportunity to start buying stocks and take long positions in high-quality companies. Throughout this market sell-off, I took long positions in individual stocks, particularly in the technology sector and broad market ETFs that mirror the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones. It was important to put this black swan into perspective and see through this event on a long term basis. Viewing the COVID-19 sell-off as an opportunity to buy stocks that only comes along on the scale of decades has proven to be fruitful. When using past recessions as a barometer, I started buying stocks when the sell-off reached 15% and continued buying into further weakness to improve cost basis.
Most Extreme and Rare Sell-Off Ever
Out of the 12 recessions that have occurred since May of 1937, the average sell-off for the S&P 500 was -31.6% with a range of -57% (2008 Financial Crisis) to -14% (1960-1961). The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed stocks beyond the average recession sell-off of -31.6%. The markets didn't reach the most severe sell-off levels by historical standards despite the possibility for more downside potential. Regardless, at initial recession levels of 15% declines, I began putting cash to work as that was the prudent action for any long-term minded investor. Continue reading "COVID-19 - Capitalizing On Opportunities"→
An opportunity to begin or reinforce a portfolio foundation amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been presented. COVID-19 was the back swan event that only comes along on the scale of decades. This COVID-19 induced sell-off has been the worst since the Great Depression in terms of breadth and velocity of the sell-off. This health crisis has crushed stocks and decimated entire industries such as airlines, casinos, travel, leisure, and retail with others in the crosshairs. The S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones have shed approximately a third of their market capitalization, with the sell-offs coming in at 33%, 29%, and 36%, respectively, through March 20, 2020. Since then, stocks have attempted rallies. However, these have fallen short, and the lows are being retested. Some individual stocks have lost over 80% of their market capitalization. Investors have been presented with a unique opportunity to start buying broad market indices to lay the foundation of a portfolio or to reinforce long positions without single stock risks. Throughout this market sell-off, I have begun to take long positions in the broad market ETFs that mirror the S&P 500 ETF (SPY), Nasdaq (QQQ), and Dow Jones (DIA). It's important to put this black swan into perspective and see through this on a long term basis while viewing this as an opportunity that only comes along in decades.
Most Extreme and Rare Sell-Off Ever
Out of the 12 recessions that have occurred since May of 1937, the average sell-off for the S&P 500 was -31.6% with a range of -57% (2008 Financial Crisis) to -14% (1960-1961). The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed stocks beyond the average recession sell-off of -31.6%. The markets haven't reached the most severe sell-off levels by historical standards, so there's always a possibility for more downside potential. Regardless, at these levels putting cash to work would be prudent for any long-term minded investor. Continue reading "COVID-19 Opportunity - Laying The Foundation"→
The investment world was flipped upside-down recently when Charles Schwab eliminated trading commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options last month. The move prompted TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, and other players in the industry to follow suit quickly or risk losing clients. The move is not the first time we have seen trading commissions reduced, but never before have retail investors been able to trade literally for free.
Most people would claim that the late Jack Bogle started this ‘war on fee’s’ decades ago when he introduced the low-cost index fund at Vanguard. The first low-cost mutual funds offered investors an inexpensive, at the time, option for investors. The low fee option Vanguard introduced proved to be a good move as Vanguard grew its asset base into what is now more than $5.5 trillion. Over the years, other firms began to fight back by cutting their fees, but the war had already started, and investors began to see the value in low-cost options.
Jack Bogle himself would often talk about how fees cost investors hundreds of thousands of dollars over their investing lifetime. The simple idea of paying lower fees equates to higher account balances over time makes perfect sense, especially to anyone who understands the power of compounding returns.
Zero fees on trading commissions will leave millions of dollars in investors' hands. It has been estimated that Charles Schwab alone will lose out on somewhere between $90 and $100 million in quarterly revenue now that they cut their trading fee to zero. That is just $100 million for one firm and one quarter. Based on those figures only of Schwab, we could easily see somewhere close to $1 billion is left in the hands of investors over the course of a year.
Now that we have hit zero fees on trading commissions and investors continue to learn how low-cost investing helps their overall returns, it's likely we will see more fee-cutting throughout the investing industry. The high fee’s on mutual funds have already begun pushing investors to ETFs. And the ETF industry has already started fighting the battle to cut costs. Continue reading "Zero Fee Trades Likely Means Lower Fee ETFs - Part 1"→
As we roll through the second week of December, the markets seem to be going a little crazy as the year comes to an end. From January 1st until November 28th of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 7.02% while the S&P 500 was up 10.6%. But, over the first week and a half of December, the Dow has lost 1.68% while the broader S&P 500 has fallen 2.04%.
Furthermore, the bulk of those declines came earlier this week when the markets closed lower Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And not only did the major indexes end the sessions off the mark, but their intraday lows put the indexes down by more than 1.25% on two of the three trading sessions.
The downward pressure being felt earlier this week could easily be blamed on a number of things which I am sure they were by many of the pundits out there; oil prices falling, oil prices rising, issues in Europe and Draghi not doing enough, slowing growth in Asia, weak growth numbers here at home, a poor start to the holiday shopping season, the list could go on and on. But, I personally don't believe any of those reasons are why the market has recently been falling.
Today, I will be examining the Perfect ETF Portfolio and what it has achieved for investors over the past several years. This portfolio is specifically designed to avoid risk and provide a modest return. It is appropriate for IRAs and Roth retirement portfolios using ETFs. This portfolio is our most conservative portfolio and is designed to steadily plod along and protect capital with less risk than an outright position in the S&P 500 index.
With the Perfect ETF Portfolio, we track just four ETFs in non-correlating markets. You would divide your capital into four parts and trade equal dollar amounts in each of the ETFs.
GLD - SPDR Gold Shares Trust
This investment seeks to replicate the performance and net of expenses of the price of gold bullion. The trust holds gold and is expected to issue baskets in exchange for deposits of gold, and to distribute gold in connection with redemption of baskets. The gold held by the trust will only be sold on an as-needed basis to pay trust expenses, in the event the trust terminates and liquidates its assets, or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
USO - United States Oil
This investment seeks to reflect the performance, less expenses, of the spot price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light, sweet crude oil. The fund will invest in futures contracts for WTI light, sweet crude oil, other types of crude oil, heating oil, gasoline, natural gas and other petroleum based-fuels that are traded on exchanges. It may also invest in other oil interests such as cash-settled options on oil futures contracts, forward contracts for oil, and OTC transactions that are based on the price of oil.Continue reading "The Perfect ETF Portfolio Results For 2013"→