Showing posts from November, 2016

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Clearly, Not Everyone Is Getting Rich Off The Stock Market

Well, the NY Fed was out today with its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for Q4 2017. Clearly, Americans are in a lot of debt. Take a look.

Just a couple of quick hits from the report. Total U.S. household debt rose $193 billion in the 4th quarter, to a new all-time peak of $13.15 trillion. That's 17.9% above the most recent trough in Q2 2013. Broken down by segment, what do you suppose was the largest gain in percentage terms? Credit cards, with a 3.2% increase. In the picture above, the widening gap represented by the red arrows reflects the fact that non-housing debt is rising at a faster pace than housing debt.

Here's what's troubling about that. Below is a picture of the stock market, as represented by the S&P 500 index, over that same period; from the most recent credit trough in Q2 2013 to the end of 2017.

And thus, the title of this article. Over that period, the S&P 500 index rose by 75%; from roughly 1,600 to 2,800. Apparently, however, the r…

Born In The USA - Best Domestic Stock ETFs For Your Portfolio

I got to thinking about Bruce Springsteen's iconic song Born in the U.S.A

Why? Because, for most U.S. investors, the first ETF you should add to your portfolio should be a top-quality U.S. total stock market ETF. Really, this forms the foundation for any well-diversified portfolio.
There are several worthy competitors in the marketplace. And, they may be even more worthy if your brokerage offers commission-free trading in these ETFs; particularly if one of your goals is to invest regularly and in small increments.
In this recent article I wrote for Seeking Alpha, I briefly review 5 such ETFs, pick 3 winners and 2 runner-ups, and briefly reference a 6th just for good measure.
I hope you enjoy.

Positano - And A Key Benefit Of ETF Investing

Readers who are aware of either my Twitter account or blog may have noticed, and hopefully enjoyed, the beautiful picture of Positano featured in the header. This amazing Italian town is basically cut into the side of a hill. To get anywhere, you have to be willing to either walk up and down stairs, or find some form of conveyance to get around the narrow road that winds its way through the town (and still almost certainly walk up and down a few stairs to your final destination).

It was from one of the higher vantage points in the town that the beautiful picture I feature was taken. The beautiful dome or 'Duomo' you see belongs to the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, originally the abbey of Positano's 10th-century Benedictine monastery, and restored in the 18th century. In the background shimmer the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.

It was no accident that this author, who writes almost exclusively on the…

Index - 'ETF Monkey Focus' Series

Welcome to the index for the ETF Monkey Focus series of articles I have written for Seeking Alpha.

First, here is a link to the introductory article for the series. In this article, I present helpful information concerning both the basic structure, as well as helpful common features, that I plan to put in each article.

Here, in alphabetical article by symbol, are all ETFs on which I have at least commented to-date. Check back often, as new ETFs will be added as they are covered.

Introducing the 'ETF Monkey Focus' Series For Seeking Alpha

The inaugural article of my new 'ETF Monkey Focus' series for Seeking Alpha was published today.

As my readers are well aware, I believe that low expenses and diversification are two solid "anchors" of a well-constructed portfolio.

Ultimately, I hope to report on over 100 ETFs that meet those criteria. Each article will feature one specific sector, and likely compare somewhere between 2 -5 ETFs. This first article begins with an introduction to the series and outlines both the structure as well as helpful common features that each article will contain. Next, it kicks off the series by comparing 5 U.S. Total Market ETFs.

I am excited about this new series, and hope the information shared will be extremely beneficial. Feel free to drop your comments and suggestions either below this article, or on the Seeking Alpha site.

Authors Note: If you like my work, I would be profoundly grateful if you would take a minute to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Go…

Apple Trump'd

For today, just three quick pictures.

First, from Apple's latest 10-K.

As shown above, as of the most recent quarterly report, Apple's cash hoard is a whopping $237 billion. But notice the highlighted phrase in the bottom paragraph. Of that amount, some $216 billion is held offshore, outside the borders of the U.S.

The trouble is, to bring that cash back home, Apple would have to pay the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35% on those funds. I'll do the math for you. That's $75.6 billion. To this point, Apple has politely turned down that "offer," preferring to use low-interest-rate debt to return cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks.

As of yesterday, enter Donald J. Trump.

Take a look at this, from the tax plan announced on his campaign website.

3 Keys To Creating A Winning Investment Portfolio

When building your investment portfolio, you can choose from many different methods.

One is to chase the latest hot stocks. In this method, you search frantically for "hot tips," whether from an investment analyst on CNBC or your coworker, who's "been in stocks for years" and "really knows what he is doing."

Unfortunately, if through this method you chose British Petroleum back in 2010, here's how your results would have looked.

I am going to suggest that there is a better way.

Solid Anchors For Your Portfolio

I just finished an educational series of articles for Seeking Alpha on the topic of solid anchors for your portfolio.

I opened one of the articles with this introductory paragraph:
Just as literal anchors are used to save sailing vessels from shipwreck, certain key concepts or "anchors" can go a long way towards saving your investment portfolio from metaphorical shipwreck. Since, in this modern 21st century, many of us depend on our investments to help carry us through our retirement, this becomes a matter of some importance. In the three articles, I discuss the anchors of low expenses, diversification, and dividends. In each case, I explain the importance of the selected anchor, offer an explanation of how to achieve it, and then show real-world examples of the application of each anchor in various ETF Monkey model portfolios.

This is a wonderful series of articles for both the younger or beginning investor, as well as an individual who may be of modest means and yet has th…