Re-balance Cycle Reminder All MyPlanIQ’s newsletters are archived here.
For regular SAA and TAA portfolios, the next re-balance will be on Monday, April 22, 2019. You can also find the re-balance calendar for 2019 on ‘Dashboard‘ page once you log in.
As a reminder to expert users: advanced portfolios are still re-balanced based on their original re-balance schedules and they are not the same as those used in Strategic and Tactical Asset Allocation (SAA and TAA) portfolios of a plan.
Please note that we now list the next re-balance date on every portfolio page.
The Risk Of Stock Investing
There are many misconceptions in stock investing. The very first one is that stocks are risky (we even classify stocks as a risky asset class). Many investors, even the experienced ones, believe that you have to have good skills to invest in stocks. On the other hand, some people believe that if Warren Buffett can beat the market and deliver outstanding returns, so can they, or at least some other professional investors like good fund managers. In this newsletter, we will try to clarify some of these issues.
The definition of risk
We are often confused with the notion of risk. First, virtually everyone agrees that stocks are risky. But what exactly does this mean?
A commonly accepted definition for risk is the volatility of daily returns, or daily return standard deviation. For example, since 2000, the S&P 500 index fund VFINX has an average daily standard deviation 19%, compared with 5% of total bond index fund VBMFX.
The other more intuitive way to measure risk is the so called maximum drawdown in a period. A drawdown measures the percentage loss from a peak to its following troughs. For example, VFINX has 55% maximum drawdown — the maximum loss occurred in the period from 2008 to 2009. This means in that period, the fund had a maximum loss 55% from one peak to a following trough. Materially, if an investor’s account only had VFINX and he/she watched the account value everyday, he/she would experience the 55% loss at the lowest trough in that period, counting from a previous peak value of the account.
However, if an investor only looks at the account at the end of a year, the experience will be different. In fact, the biggest annual loss for VFINX is -37% in year 2008.
What about the investor looks at the account once every three years, five years, ten years, or even twenty years? How about 100 years? Or in a more practical sense, we want to understand the investor’s experience if he/she opens his (brokerage) account statement once every 3, 5, 10 or 20 years.
The answers, similar to looking at the account daily or annually, vary greatly.
The risk of long term stock investing
We looked at this issue from different angles before. Let’s again look at the following table that appeared in the newsletter April 17, 2017: Risk vs. Volatility: Long Term Stock Market Returns:
|S&P Rolling 10 Yr||S&P Rolling 15 Yr||S&P Rolling 20 Yr|
The above table covers the S&P 500 annualized total return (i.e. dividend reinvested) from 1871 to 2016, a total of 145 years. The so called rolling 10 years returns is that we look at annualized return (of S&P 500) for each 10 year period at the end of every month. This would accurately capture the actual experience for an investor who, once purchases S&P 500 index fund (like VFINX), only opens his brokerage statement report 10 years later for the rolling 10 year returns (ditto for 15 and 20 years).
We can see that there have been many months when the 10-year-horizon investor experienced losses. However, when extended to 15 year horizons, there would be only one month when this investor found out he has lost money for the past 15 years, though there were many months when the investor saw very low return for the past 15 years. Finally, for the 20-year-horizon investor, there was no month he experienced a loss for any trailing 20 years. However, the minimum annualized return in the trailing 20 years is 2.1%, still somewhat low if inflation is considered.
Of course, in the entire 145 year period, S&P 500 had an annualized 9.6% return.
- Risk in investing S&P 500 index fund is virtually none in a very long term.
- The concept of stock risk greatly depends on the time horizon you are investing in.
- Specifically, if you are investing in a broad base stock index fund like S&P 500, you have little chance to lose money at the end of a 20 year period.
- However, you have a slight chance to encounter a loss in a 15 year period.
- You can expect to experience a loss in many 10 year periods.
- You can expect to experience a large loss in a one year period.
The above only looked at the index investing even though they are also applicable to any active stock fund (mutual funds or ETFs). We can further make the following observations:
- Majority of active stock mutual funds (ETFs also) have underperformed a broad market stock index fund like VFINX in a long term. This has been proved by various research results.
- Thus, investing in active stock mutual funds adds another layer of risk of losing money in 10 year, 15 year, 20 year and even longer periods.
- It’s really not worth trying to get better returns by investing in an active stock fund: since it requires a long period such as 20 years to see a meaningful investment result, you run into the risk of only finding out you have invested in a bad fund (which is very likely as majority of them do) in some late years and that can be extremely harmful as you have lost so many valuable years in the life of your investments.
- Investing individual stocks is subject to a similar or even greater risk as investing in an active fund: most likely, majority of investors will underperform active funds, thus, much likely to suffer from bad performance in a long term.
- Even when one invests in a passive index fund, he/she has another potential risk to consider: when you start to invest. For example, if the starting point is at a period of high stock valuation, you have a much higher probability to get a bad returns even after 20 years. Remember, the variation of returns in a 20 year period is very high from the above table. Even if it’s unlikely to lose money in a 20 year period, it’s still more likely to obtain a low return in that period — the annualized returns of a 20 year period vary from minimum 2.1% to 17.9%. In the current extremely high valuation, the return of the next 20 year period is almost certain to be very low. This is something an investor needs to take into account.
In conclusions, the risk of stock investing depends on both the investment horizon (number of years) as well as the starting stock valuation. If you do have an extremely long term horizon for the investment (such as perpetual period), of course, buying and holding an index fund like VFINX right now is fine. Otherwise, investors should be careful not to allocate too much in stocks right now if you are a strategic (i.e. buy and hold) investor.
Stocks are now firmly in an up trend. This is not only illustrated by the S&P 500 index being above its long term 200 day moving average, it’s also confirmed by the majority of individual stocks in NYSE being in an up trend, as shown by over 56 percent of NYSE stocks whose prices are above their 200 day moving averages:
However, we should be aware that among US stocks, international developed market stocks, emerging market stocks and US REITs, only US REITs have been able to break its high. Risk assets are still yet to prove they can sustain and breach their past highs. We call for staying the course and be cautious on the risk.
For more detailed asset trend scores, please refer to 360° Market Overview.
In terms of investments, even after the recent retreat, U.S. stock valuation is still at a historically high level and a bigger correction is still waiting to happen. It is thus not a good time to take excessive risk. However, we remain optimistic about U.S. economy in the long term and believe much better investment opportunities will arise in the future.
We again would like to stress for any new investor and new money, the best way to step into this kind of markets is through dollar cost average (DCA), i.e. invest and/or follow a model portfolio in several phases (such as 2 or 3 months) instead of the whole sum at one shot.
How can we improve this newsletter? Please take our survey
–Thanks to those who have already contributed — we appreciate it.
- March 11, 2019: Consumer Staples Sector Review
- March 4, 2019: Global Stock Valuation Update
- February 25, 2019: ‘Bad’ Tactical Strategy
- February 11, 2019: “Best” Balanced Fund And Portfolios Revisited
- February 4, 2019: Cash And Money Market Funds: Interests And Safety
- January 28, 2019: Fixed Income Review
- January 14, 2019: Tactical Asset Allocation Portfolio Review
- January 7, 2019: Global Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolio Review
- December 17, 2018: Robinhood’s ‘Revolution’ Or Gimmick
- December 10, 2018: How Defensive Are REITs?
- December 3, 2018: Conservative Core Satellite Portfolio
- November 26, 2018: Allocation Mutual Fund Review
- November 19, 2018: Is The Recent Downtrend Sustainable?
- November 12, 2018: The Staggering Low Interest Rates From Big Banks
- November 5, 2018: The ‘Right’ Or ‘Wrong’ Decision
- October 29, 2018: Taxable Total Return Bond Plus Muni Bond Fund Based Portfolios
- October 22, 2018: DoubleLine Shiller CAPE 10 Based Fund Review
- October 15, 2018: Newsletter Collection Update
- October 8, 2018: Asset Trend Review
- October 1, 2018: Taxable vs. Tax Exempt High Yield Bonds
- September 24, 2018: High Yield Bonds In A Rising Rate Environment
- September 10, 2018: Value, Growth And Blend Stock Style Investing
- August 27, 2018: Money Market ETFs?
- August 20, 2018: How Momentum Investing Stacks Up?
- August 13, 2018: Total Return Bond ETF
- August 6, 2018: Fidelity Zero-Fee Index Funds
- July 30, 2018: Tax Efficient Portfolios
- July 23, 2018: Municipal Bond Funds And Portfolios
- July 16, 2018: A Guide To Conservative Portfolios
- July 9, 2018: Conservative Allocation Mutual Funds Based Portfolios
- July 2, 2018: Small Cap Stocks For The Long Term
- June 25, 2018: What Can We Learn From GE’s Removal From Dow Jones Index?
- June 18, 2018: The ‘Best’ Balanced Portfolio Continues To Excel
- June 11, 2018: Is 10 Year Long Enough For Portfolio Comparison?
- June 4, 2018: Action Plan: Risk Review For Investments
- May 21, 2018: Rising Rates, Consumer Staples And Stock Index
- May 14, 2018: Newsletter Collection Update
- May 7, 2018: Money Market Fund Taxonomy
- April 30, 2018: Momentum Investing Review
- April 23, 2018: Commodities In Current Environment
- April 16, 2018: Municipal Bonds As A Fixed Income Asset Class
- April 9, 2018: Exponential Or Compounding Nature In Investing
- April 2, 2018: Inside Of The Stock Chaos
- March 26, 2018: Total Return Bond Update
- March 19, 2018: Treasury Bills vs. Brokered CDs
- March 12, 2018: Defensive Conservative Portfolio Review
- March 5, 2018: Warren Buffett’s Advices
- February 26, 2018: Pros And Cons of Strategic And Tactical Portfolios In 2018
- February 12, 2018: Trend Review
- February 5, 2018: Market Selloff And Long Term Investing
- January 29, 2018: The New Addition To Our Total Return Bond Fund Candidates
- January 22, 2018: Where Are Bonds Heading?
- January 15, 2018: Tactical Portfolios Review
- January 8, 2018: Strategic Portfolios Review
- December 18, 2017: Record Highs And Risk
- December 11, 2017: Cash Return And Interest Rate Update
- December 4, 2017: Mutual Fund Star Ratings: Are They Useful?
- November 20, 2017: Thankful And Mindful
- November 13, 2017: Is This A Good Time For Retirees Or Would Be Retirees?
- November 6, 2017: Newsletter Collection Update
- October 30, 2017: Rising Interest Rates
- October 23, 2017: A Primer For Portfolios
- October 16, 2017: REITs As An Asset Class
- October 9, 2017: Conservative Portfolios Revisited
- October 2, 2017: The Role of Short Term Bond Funds
- September 25, 2017: Fees In Cash Investments
- September 18, 2017: Conservative Portfolios Review
- September 11, 2017: International Diversification Effect
- September 4, 2017: Invest And Speculate Revisited
- August 28, 2017: Total Return Bond Fund Portfolios: Where Do They Fit?
- August 21, 2017: Portfolio Performance: A Walk In The Past
- August 14, 2017: Fidelity Commission Free ETFs Update
- August 7, 2017: I Didn’t Learn Anything — Mistake vs. Temporary Underperformance
- July 31, 2017: Asset Classes And Fund Choices: A Primer
- July 24, 2017: Total Return Bond Fund Portfolios And Cash
- July 17, 2017: Long Term Stock Holding Periods For Retirement
- July 10, 2017: Half Year Asset Trend Review
- June 26, 2017: How To Beat The Best Balanced Allocation Fund
- June 19, 2017: Newsletter Collection Update
- June 12, 2017: A Mixed Bag Performance of Momentum Investing
- June 5, 2017: How To Start A New Portfolio
- May 29, 2017: Alternative Assets And Their Role In Portfolios
- May 22, 2017: Summer Seasonality And Portfolio Management
- May 15, 2017: Cash: Banking Or Investing?
- May 8, 2017: Holding Period of Long Term Timing Portfolios
- May 1, 2017: Debate on Risk vs. Volatility
- April 24, 2017: The Long Term Stock Market Timing Return Since 1871
- April 17, 2017: Risk vs. Volatility: Long Term Stock Market Returns
- April 10, 2017: Total Return Bond ETFs And Portfolios
- April 3, 2017: Quarter End Asset Trend Review
- March 27, 2017: Practical Consideration For IRAs And 401k Accounts
- March 20, 2017: Fund Fees: That’s (Still) Outrageous
- March 13, 2017: Long Term Stock Valuation Review
- March 6, 2017: Asset Classes for Retirement Investments
- February 27, 2017: Fidelity Total Bond Fund Review
- February 20, 2017: Long Term Stock Timing Based Portfolios And Their Roles
- February 13, 2017: Alternative Investment Portfolios Review
- February 6, 2017: Tax Free Municipal Bond Investments Review
- January 30, 2017: Brokerage Specific Conservative Portfolios
- January 23, 2017: Fixed Income Portfolio Review
- January 16, 2017: Long Term Trend Following Portfolio Review
- January 9, 2017: Tactical Asset Allocation Review
- January 3, 2017: Strategic Asset Allocation Review
- December 12, 2016: Enhanced Index Funds
- December 5, 2016: Review Of Broad Base Core Mutual Funds For Brokerages
- November 28, 2016: Core Index ETFs Review
- November 21, 2016: International Exposure Of U.S. Large Companies
- November 14, 2016: Asset Trends After The Election
- November 7, 2016: Rising Rate And Current Bond Trend
- October 31, 2016: Economy Power And Long Term Stock Returns
- October 24, 2016: Current Commodity Trend And Managed Futures
- October 17, 2016: Investment Mistakes And Good Or Bad Investment Strategies
- October 10, 2016: Momentum Investing Review
- October 3, 2016: Survey & Feedback
- September 26, 2016: Fixed Income Investing: Actively Managed Funds vs. Index Funds
- September 19, 2016: Stock Investing: Actively Managed Funds vs. Index Funds
- September 12, 2016: Newsletter Update
- September 5, 2016: Overvalued Markets And Long Term Timing Strategies
- August 29, 2016: Your 401K Finally Draws Attention
- August 22, 2016: Inflation Protected Securities TIPS For Current Overvalued Markets
- August 15, 2016: Risk On: Emerging Market Stocks And Small Cap Stocks
- August 8, 2016: Portfolio Construction Using Stock ETFs And Bond Mutual Funds
- August 1, 2016: Adding Value To Your Own Investments
- July 25, 2016: Tactical Asset Allocation Funds Review
- July 18, 2016: Strategic Asset Allocation & Lazy Portfolio Review
- July 11, 2016: Asset Trend Review
- June 27, 2016: Secular Cycles For Tactical And Strategic Investment Strategies
- June 20, 2016: A World of Debt
- June 13, 2016: Managed Futures For Portfolio Building
- June 6, 2016: Newsletter Summary
- May 30, 2016: Swensen Portfolio And Permanent Portfolios
- May 23, 2016: AAII Article And Some Web Changes
- May 16, 2016: The PIMCO (Dis)Advantages
- May 9, 2016: Boost Your Dull Summer Investments
- May 2, 2016: Low Cost Index Fund Investing
- April 25, 2016: Tax Free Municipal Bond Funds & Portfolios
- April 18, 2016: Asset Class Trend Review
- April 11, 2016: Construction of Sound And Conservative Portfolios
- March 28, 2016: Total Return Bond ETFs Review
- March 21, 2016: Small And Large Company Stock Performance In Different Economic Expansion Cycles
- March 14, 2016: Are Tactical And Timing Strategies Losing Steam?
- March 7, 2016: Defined Maturity Bond Fund Analysis
- February 29, 2016: Smart Strategic Asset Allocation Rebalance When Market Trend Changes
- February 22, 2016: Be Cash Smart
- February 15, 2016: Bond ETF Portfolios
- February 8, 2016: Newsletter Collection Update
- February 1, 2016: Total Return Bond Fund Portfolios In A Volatile Period
- January 25, 2016: Alternative Portfolios Review
- January 18, 2016: Strategic Asset Allocation: A Cautious Outlook
- January 11, 2016: Review Of Trend Following Tactical Asset Allocation
- January 4, 2016: What Worked And Didn’t In 2015
- December 21, 2015: Distressed Assets
- December 14, 2015: High Yield Bonds And Their Correlation With Stocks
- December 7, 2015: Diversification And Global Allocation
- November 30, 2015: Investors and Speculators Combined
- November 23, 2015: Active Stock Fund Performance Consistency
- November 16, 2015: Permanent, Risk Parity And Alternative Portfolios Review
- November 9, 2015: Broad Base Core Mutual Fund Review
- November 2, 2015: Broad Base Index Core ETFs Review
- October 26, 2015: Total Return Bond Fund Review
- October 19, 2015: Advanced Portfolio Review
- October 12, 2015: What About Commodities?
- October 5, 2015: Core Satellite Portfolios In A 401k Account
- September 28, 2015: Risk Managed Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolios Revisited
- September 21, 2015: Quest For The Best Investment Strategy
- September 14, 2015: Core Satellite Portfolios In Market Turmoil
- September 7, 2015: Market Rout Creates An Opportunity to Reposition Your Portfolios
- August 31, 2015: Review of Asset Allocation Funds and Portfolios
- August 24, 2015: Market Rout And Your Portfolios
- August 17, 2015: ETF or Mutual Fund Based Portfolios
- August 10, 2015: Updated Newsletter Collection
- August 3, 2015: Slippery Asset Trends
- July 27, 2015: Performance Dispersion Among Momentum Based Portfolios
- July 20, 2015: Global Balanced Portfolio Benchmarks
- July 13, 2015: Pain in Tactical Portfolios
- July 6, 2015: Fixed Income Total Return Bond Funds In Strategic Asset Allocation Portfolios
- June 29, 2015: Core ETF Commission Free Portfolios
- June 22, 2015: Secular Asset Trends
- June 15, 2015: Giving Up Bonds?
- June 1, 2015: Summer Blues?
- May 26, 2015: Cash, Bonds and Stocks In A Rising Rate Environment
- May 18, 2015: Portfolio Update
- May 11, 2015: Pain in Fixed Income?
- May 4, 2015: The Balanced Stock and Long Term Treasury Bond Portfolios
- April 27, 2015: Long Term Treasury Bond Behavior
- April 20, 2015: 529 College Savings Plan Rebalance Policy Change
- April 13, 2015: Total Return Bond Funds As Smart Cash
- April 6, 2015: The Low Return Environment
- March 30, 2015: Brokerage Specific Core Mutual Fund Portfolios 2
- March 23, 2015: Investment Arithmetic for Long Term Investments
- March 16, 2015: Brokerage Specific Core Mutual Fund Portfolios
- March 9, 2015: Newsletter Collection Update
- March 2, 2015: Total Return Bond ETFs
- February 23, 2015: Why Is Global Tactical Asset Allocation Not Popular?
- February 16, 2015: Where Are Permanent Portfolios Going?
- February 9, 2015: How Have Asset Allocation Funds Done?
- February 2, 2015: Risk Management Everywhere
- January 26, 2015: Composite Portfolios Review
- January 19, 2015: Fixed Income Investing Review
- January 12, 2015: How Does Trend Following Tactical Asset Allocation Strategy Deliver Returns
- January 5, 2015: When Forecast Fails
- December 22, 2014: Long Term Asset Returns: How Long Is Long?
- December 15, 2014: Beaten Down Assets
- December 8, 2014: Implementing Core Asset Portfolios In a Brokerage
- December 1, 2014: Two Key Issues of Investment Strategies
- November 24, 2014: Holiday Readings
- November 17, 2014: Retirement Spending Portfolios Update
- November 10, 2014: Fixed Income Or Cash
- November 3, 2014: Asset Trend Review
- October 27, 2014: Investment Loss, Mistakes And Market Cycles
- October 20, 2014: Strategic Portfolios With Managed Volatility
- October 13, 2014: Embrace Volatility
- October 6, 2014: Tips For 401k Open Enrollment
- September 29, 2014: What Can We Learn From Bill Gross’ Departure From PIMCO?
- September 22, 2014: Why Total Return Bond Funds?
- September 15, 2014: Equity And Total Return Bond Fund Composite Portfolios
- September 8, 2014: Momentum Based Portfolios Review
- September 1, 2014: Risk & Diversification: Mint.com Interview
- August 25, 2014: Remember Risk
- August 18, 2014: Consistency, The Most Important Edge In Investing: Tactical Case
- August 11, 2014: What To Do In Overvalued Stock Markets
- August 4, 2014: Is This The Peak Or Correction?
- July 28, 2014: Stock Musings
- July 21, 2014: Permanent Portfolios & Four Pillar Foundation Based Framework
- July 14, 2014: Composite Portfolios Review
- July 7, 2014: Portfolio Behavior During Market Corrections
- June 30, 2014: Half Year Brokerage ETF and Mutual Fund Portfolios Review
- June 23, 2014: Newsletter Collection Update
- June 16, 2014: There Are Always Lottery Winners
- June 9, 2014: The Arithmetic of Investment Mistakes
- June 2, 2014: Tips On Portfolio Rebalance
- May 26, 2014: In Praise Of Low Cost Core Asset Class Based Portfolios
- May 19, 2014: Consistency, The Most Important Edge In Investing: Strategic Case
- May 12, 2014: How To Handle An Elevated Overvalued Market
- May 5, 2014: Asset Allocation Funds Review
- April 28, 2014: Now The Economy Backs To The ‘Old Normal’, Should Our Investments Too?
- April 21, 2014: Total Return Bond Investing In The Current Market Environment