Historically, October is the weakest period for stocks, which we have witnessed firsthand, yet again. The huge crashes of 1929 and 1987 happened during the 10th month. Why? There are several reasons, ranging from regularly occurring events to plain bad luck that for some reason lands this month.
Volatility, on vacation for most of the past few years, is back this fall. It hit a new 52-week high in mid-October, double the level of August. That means change is afoot in the market, whose rally lulled many into complacency. So this is a good time to see where your portfolio stands in risk terms.
We can’t control the markets; we can control the costs that help or hinder our investment strategy. What may seem like only a slightly higher fee today can add up to a significant cut of your net return over time. And the first step in minimizing fees is spotting them.
I’m uncomfortable about a number of issues now affecting financial consumers. Here are a few that possibly concern your very own investments – and future.
Target date funds (TDFs) insufficiently researched. A target date mutual fund contains a mixture of stocks, bonds and cash equivalents, rebalanced to reduce the number of risky assets as you age toward retirement.
War rages in the Middle East and Ukraine. An economic deceleration dogs China. Once again, Japan struggles to revive its economy. Europe heads into another economic slowdown. Why bother investing outside America?
Because the U.S. no longer dominates world stocks, foreign troubles will eventually abate and overseas bargains now abound.
The explosion of the 401(k) and decades of dwindling employer pensions powered mutual funds to dominance in the investing landscape. The funds, once meant to simplify investing for the little guy, flourished to the point of becoming almost as confusing to pick as individual stocks. What can you look for?
Once only available to institutions and wealthy individuals, alternative investments – basically securities that do not trade on any exchange – are winning a broader appeal, according to a panel of advisors.
The goal of using alternative investments is to diversify a portfolio or to lessen its risk. These vehicles tend to be illiquid, meaning they are difficult to trade. They can only be sold to others via financial institutions.
Do we live in a nation of short-term thinkers? Business has plenty of examples that seem to prove that assertion. Think of how Blackberry frittered away its lead in smartphones. Fortunately, there are plenty of successes to give us heart. How can you spot the difference? Look at company leaders.
Picking single equities seems almost quaint in these days of the mutual fund. Singling out a stock for your portfolio still makes sense, though, if you know how to select smart and you sift carefully through headline deals.
One caveat remains true: “Stay away from them if you can’t afford to lose the money,” said Daniel Mazzola, an advisor with American Portfolios in Massapequa, N.Y., speaking at a recent investing panel.
The stock market has enjoyed a virtually uninterrupted rally since the dismal days of 2009, following the financial crisis. So the market is overdue for a big pullback, right? History suggests otherwise. Huge bull markets happened in the wake of serious past crises, with stocks reaching levels that were unimaginable at the time.