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, February 11, 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.
Cash And Money Market Funds: Interests And Safety
In the newsletter, we will look at current cash investment returns and discuss how safe a money market fund is.
Rates continued to rise
The good news for cash rich investors is that interest rates continued to rise until recently. See the following 3-month US Treasury bill yield:
At the moment, the yield of T Bill (3 Month Treasury) is almost 2.4%, compared with 2.35% in November when we last reviewed it.
Similarly, money market funds are paying higher interests too:
|Vanguard Treasury Money Market (VUSXX) — minimum $50,000||2.32%|
|Vanguard Federal Money Market (VMFXX) (Settlement fund)||2.32%|
|Vanguard Prime Money Market (VMMXX)||2.48%|
|Vanguard Municipal Money Market (VMSXX)||1.35%|
We want to point out that the tax equivalent rate for Municipal money market fund (VMSXX) is only 2.14% even for the highest federal tax bracket (37%), which is meaningfully lower than that of a taxable money market fund.
Meanwhile, major banks are still paying extremely low interests to savers (see November 12, 2018: The Staggering Low Interest Rates From Big Banks):
|Bank of America||0.03-0.06%|
It’s amazing to see that the inertia of consumers to stick to a 2%+ lower interest bank account for so long. Though one can argue that money market funds are not as safe as bank savings accounts, but there are still plenty of other high quality banks that pay much higher interests. For example, Goldman Sachs’ online bank Marcus.com is now paying 2.25% in its savings accounts for $1 minimum and without any other restriction.
Safety of money market funds
It’s been long argued that the main difference (or concern) between a money market mutual fund and a bank savings account is that a bank savings account is FDIC insured up to $250,000 while the money market fund doesn’t have any such a protection. In the past, there were some incidents that a money market fund “broke the buck” (i.e. its NAV (Net Asset Value) went under $1, meaning loss of principles). The most famous example is the Reserve Primary Money Market Fund when its NAV fell to 97 cents in 2008. The Reserve fund was one of the largest money market funds at the time, holding over $64 billion asset. The culprit: it held 1.5% short term loans issued by Lehman Brothers which went bankrupt, When the Lehman’s bankruptcy news broke out, investors of the fund became panic and started to redeem, causing the so called money market fund run (similar to a bank run). The fund was forced to freeze redemptions and eventually liquidated its asset to pay back to its investors.
It took more than a year for most investors of the Reserve fund to get back their money. On average, investors lost 0.9% from the fund’s disaster.
While this example often reminds investors of the peril of money market funds, one can closely look at the details of money market funds and understand the major safety concern for these funds.
Generally, as detailed in May 7, 2018: Money Market Fund Taxonomy, a primary money market fund holds commercial short term loans (issued by corporations and non federal government institutions), in addition to federal debts, while a federal money market fund holds only US government backed credits (such as agency loans and Treasury bills).
For example, Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX)’s holdings as of 12/31/2018 are as follows:
|U.S. Govt. Obligations||31%|
|U.S. Treasury Bills||52.5%|
while Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund (VUSXX)’s holdings are 100% U.S. Treasury Bills.
A word on Repurchase Agreements: they are essentially U.S. Treasury Bills third parties use as collateral to borrow cash from the fund. In general, the third parties agree to ‘repurchase’ them back at an agreed time (usually within months) with the same principle amount plus interests. Or one can simply look at this as ‘U.S. Treasury debts’ that pay slightly higher interests (than purchased directly from Treasury debt markets). In the event if the third parties can not honor the ‘repurchase’ agreement, the fund can take the bills and redeem from the U.S. government. Thus, it’s as safe as U.S. Treasury debts except it might be slightly illiquid in such a rare event.
Legally investors of Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund are the shareholders of the fund, just like any mutual fund. This fund is owned by its shareholders, not by Vanguard or any mutual fund company (they are merely management contractors). In a rare crisis like the money market run in 2008 (or even worse one when a fund company goes bankrupt), these shareholders legally own the underlying U.S. debts and they can take possession of the securities and redeem them through the U.S. government eventually.
In terms of safety, a federal/Treasury money market fund is almost as safe as a bank asset such as savings account. This is not the case for a Primary Money Market fund that can own non government debts. In fact, as of 12/31/2018, Vanguard Primary Money Market fund (VMMXX) owned a whopping 55.7% foreign/Yankee debts and 6.7% CDs.
That is why Vanguard chooses to use its Federal money market fund VMFXX as its brokerage settlement fund — any customer’s cash is automatically swept into this fund.
Of course, perception wise, bank assets are viewed safer and thus during a crisis, it’s more likely to have a fund run and that will certainly cause some temporary liquidity issue for a fund’s shareholders but for a Federal or Treasury money market fund, it’s impossible to lose the principles as eventually the U.S. government will be the backstop to honor its debts (assuming, of course, the U.S. government is free of any default).
To summarize, conservative investors can choose a federal and Treasury money market fund.
Companies continued to report mixed earnings for Q4 2018. Based on Factset, as of last Friday, 46% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings and the blended earnings growth for the quarter is 12.4%, better than the 12.2% expected on 12/31/2018. However, analysts continued to revise down the 2019 earnings expectation. They now expect negative (-0.5%) earnings growth in Q1 2019 and the full year earnings growth of 5.6%, lower than the previous expectation (6.3%) a week ago. Again, it’s possible that as more companies report earnings, the earnings expectation for 2019 will trend down. We’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, stocks continued to rise. The S&P 500 index is now approaching to a critical technical level — 200 days moving average. At the moment, S&P 500 200 day moving average is at 2741 while the index price is about 2700. Similarly, one can see that the number of stocks in NYSE that exceed their 200 days moving average has risen dramatically:
Stock markets rise and fall are just investors’ emotional and primitive ways to pinpoint the future growth of underlying companies. For now, the vertical and strong rise of stocks shows investors’ fear of being left behind. We again call for sticking to a plan and managing risk accordingly, in an environment of extended markets and high valuation.
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.
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–Thanks to those who have already contributed — we appreciate it.
- 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