What’s your favorite mixed nut? In a bowl of mixed nuts, which flavor do you favor? For the record, I’m a sucker for the cashews. It’s fine to pick out your treat preferences. In the market, you’re best off skipping the picking, and sticking instead with an appropriately balanced mixed bag. This quarter’s up-and-down returns continue to show us why. Whether we view the market by quarter, year or more, we’ll always see...

Small Changes Add Up Small changes, beginning today, can materially affect our future wealth; they can also dramatically impact our future selves. This article by Nick Maggiulli includes a powerful visualization of the cumulative effect on future wealth of saving 5% to 15% of our income each year. (Example assumed $50,000 in annual income with a 5% annual return.) Consider also how creating a habit that may not cost us...

Today we share a series of charts on trade deficits.   Reminder: These charts come to us compliments of independent economist Fritz Meyer, a seasoned economic and markets analyst whose insights appear regularly on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and the Fox Business Network.  Here is what Fritz has to say about trade deficits: … A trade deficit isn’t a debt that must be repaid. It is often a sign of economic prosperity. … It means...

We don’t know when the Fed might begin to increase short-term interest rates. We don’t know by how much, nor how rapidly it might occur. Come what may, you can best protect your own financial interests in the face of rising interest rates by understanding how the Federal Reserve’s actions interplays with the rest of our global capital economy. In our last post, we looked at the connections between short-term...

Part One: Savings & Debt Similar to that saying about the weather, it seems everyone has been talking about the likelihood of rising interest rates, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Are interest rates going to go up soon? When? How much? These questions pale in comparison to what most investors really want to know: How will rising rates affect me (and can I do anything about it)? If...

We can’t help but love working with a fund manager that is not only intensely loyal to the science of capital markets, but can laugh about it too. These qualities are combined in Dimensional Fund Advisors’ 2013 Review, a market/economic summary that the firm releases each January. While “a lot happened” in 2013, Dimensional reports it was ultimately “a year about nothing.” In a way, it was like the reverse...

Interest rates are at historic lows and, for several years now, numerous market pundits have been forecasting an upward move. This leaves many investors fretting about what might happen when rates rise. Some contemplate whether they should be making dramatic changes to their portfolios as a result. It reminds us of that Clash song: “Should I stay or should I go?” This blog post is dedicated to helping you understand...

  In my last blog post, we explored how to discriminate between helpful and misleading financial charts and graphs. Scrutinizing the source of the material and whether it has undergone robust peer review is one of the best ways to determine the likely quality of an illustration without further ado. Beyond that, it helps to understand some of the tricks that can be – and sometimes are – played in presenting...

If human enterprise is the soul of our capital markets, then its body is made up of numbers. It’s no surprise, then, that there is a never-ending supply of charts, graphs and tables seeking to translate all that mind-numbing market-driven data into a meaningful story at an approachable glance. I was reminded of this by a recent Monevator blog posting: “Too Big to Scale: Long-term Stock Market Returns.” Monevator is a...