The third quarter of the year was more of the same for equity markets. Between three hurricanes, gridlock over health care and tax reforms in Washington, interest rate increases, threats of nuclear war with North Korea, rising tension with Russia, a horrific domestic shooting, widespread social unrest, the looming Federal Reserve balance sheet tapering, and general tightening by Central Banks around the world, the markets did not slow down. Consumer optimism is reaching all-time highs, inflation is stubbornly low (confounding the Fed), wages are ticking up, and the job market remains tight with unemployment hovering near all-time lows.
By now you probably know that your duty to look after your investments does not end after the initial due diligence of selecting an investment manager. Manager selection is a crucial first step, but that is really only the beginning. You must establish a process to prudently monitor your investments with quantifiable criteria that will systematically generate a review of underperforming investments. Common reasons to replace an investment might include the investment manager retiring, the investment taking excessive risk, or the investment’s performance lagging the benchmark. However, sometimes after a thorough review of your investment it could make sense to retain it instead of replacing it. Let’s look at some of the reasons to not break up with or fire your investment manager. Continue reading
With the important 4th quarter ahead of us, it’s time to check the rearview and see what transpired last quarter to get us where we are. Most markets trended up for the quarter, and there were no major geopolitical drivers for under- or out-performance. There are still a slew of worries surrounding global markets such as conflict in the Middle East, North Korea’s nuclear tests, weakness in banking in Europe (highlighted by recent trouble from Duetsche Bank, one of Germany’s largest banks), oil price stability, slowing growth, and elections in the United States. The growing trend of populism and protection from trade has also been on the rise and may potentially have a chilling effect on the global economy. The markets seem to be getting used to unconventional Central Bank policy. The Bank of Japan is leading the charge to this uncharted territory, with unprecedented buying of Equity and Fixed Income securities, negative interest rates, and now a focus on the yield curve to help prop up financial institutions. Continue reading