June 12, 2019

It’s All About Me

As you begin, and throughout your employment career, it is important to remember who should get paid first, and that is you! While there is no magic number, according to a recent study done by the Employee Retirement Research Institution their best guess is that at least 10% of your gross wages should go toward your retirement. Fortunately, if you are in a plan where let’s say your employer matches 4% of your savings, you only need to come up with 6% to hit the number. Finally, based on a 25 year old making $30,000 who commits to saving 12% a year, his future value in today’s dollars would be $669,000 at the age of 65. So give yourself that 10%, you deserve it.
June 27, 2019

Black Gold, Texas Tea

il prices were certainly in the news this past week as military tensions boiled up with Iran and a huge refinery explosion lit up the city of Philadelphia. Interestingly, even after Iran destroyed a US drone over international waters, the price of crude rose, but only to about $58 per barrel. Historically this type of overt aggression between the US and a Middle East country would have shot the price of crude up over $100 dollars a barrel or more. Why then, thankfully, is there such a muted reaction in the price of oil? One comforting notion, both to our safety and our economy, is that in 2019, the US may be a net exporter of oil for the first time. This is an important, if not largely talked about phenomenon. Refineries pose a separate issue, as the lack of investing in the US, puts them all at peak usage and none of them are getting any younger. As investors we need to understand the long term effects of energy independence paired with a dependence on aging refining infrastructure.
July 12, 2019

Fun With Numbers

New York City has the highest population density of any US city with 27,000 people per square mile. Now that is a fun fact. For stock investors, numbers can be fun too, especially when markets are trading at or near all-time highs. The Dow closed above 27,000 for the first time this week and Wall Street loves round numbers. Not to be outdone, the S&P 500 traded above another round number, 3000, this week as well. To put it into perspective, a little more than ten years ago, at the Great Recession bottom on March 9th, 2009, the Dow and S&P were trading at 6,547 and 676 respectively. Cheers to the bull while it lasts!
July 31, 2019

Platform Style

Platform is a business model that creates value by introducing two independent groups, typically consumers and producers, for a financial transaction. The companies that embrace this model, like Amazon, Airbnb, and Facebook, can rapidly scale their business in ways a traditional business (with pesky store fronts, inventories, etc.) cannot. This is how Airbnb in just 11 years could grow to 150 million users, in over 65,000 cities, offering 1.9 million listings at any given time. When looking for investment ideas, be sure to consider both the pros and the cons of the company in a world that is embracing the Platform like it was 1977.
August 27, 2019

The Race to Zero

Today we are going to talk about negative interest rates. In Japan, Germany, and France, to name the three big ones, interest rates are negative, which means their central bank will charge you for the privilege to hold and use your money. Currently, there is approximately $17 Trillion (with a T) invested in negative interest fixed income. So, you give me $1000 today and I agree to give you your money back in ten years, less about $5 per year as a cost to the investor. Amazingly, and for now, investing in ultra-low or even negative bonds has worked. If you buy a bond with negative rates, you just need it to go a bit further in the red…If this is a hard concept to get your arms around, you are not alone, because it has never acted to this extent in economic history. The talk is all about inverted yield curves and trade wars, but the huge, worldwide bond market is ground zero, and the race is on. Or should we say ground “less than” zero.