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Understanding the Impact of the Dollar On Foreign Equities

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Friday, December 30, 2016

Over the last several years, American investors who have diversified their portfolios to include foreign equities have dealt with a significant underperformance of their foreign holdings relative to their domestic stock holdings.  As you can see from the chart below, since 2008, it has been a very one-sided affair for the US versus the rest of the world, as the MSCI World ex-USA index "returned" an annualized -.22% over this period, while the American index, the Wilshire 5000, returned greater than 7% annualized:

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Top Ten Posts of 2016

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I covered a lot of ground in 2016, and I am grateful to all who read my posts and offered feedback.  Here is a list of the ten most popular posts I wrote in 2016: Read More

Ten Things I've Learned From Blogging

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Monday, December 26, 2016

I've been blogging on my firm's site for a couple of years now, but I did not really take the job seriously until the end of 2015.  I cannot recall exactly what motivated me to write more than just the garden-variety financial advisory firm commentary, but I can say with certainty that the result of joining the financial blogosphere has led to somewhat of a renaissance for me, both intellectually and professionally.  While I cannot say that I have mastered the art of blogging, I can point to many different things that were something like epiphanies to me as I wrote.  Here are ten of those things: Read More

Four (Very Long) History Classics That Are Worth the Investment of Time

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Sunday, December 18, 2016

I have always had an interest in reading classic literature, particularly classic histories.  By reading these classic histories, one can garner a semester's worth of college history, and usually at no cost to himself given that most classics are now available at either little or no cost in electronic format via Amazon.com.   Read More

The Power of Simplicity

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Thursday, December 15, 2016

The word simple is sometimes used as a pejorative; to say that someone is "simple" is to suggest that he is less intelligent than others, or, perhaps, that he is naive.  This view is, however, wrongheaded, and in few instances in life is this truer than in finance.  As I have noted before, the greatest idea in the world is useless if it cannot be communicated well, and that is why when presenting financial concepts and ideas to clients, the simplest approach usually yields the greatest results. Read More

Why Equal-Weighting Factor Bets Might Make Sense

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Factor investing is nothing new as various index managers such as S&P and MSCI have been providing data for a variety of factor indices for more than 20 years now.  However, along with the rise of ETFs that have made it easier, factor investing has risen in popularity over the last few years.  For the uninitiated, factor investing is basically investing in a portfolio of stocks that are grouped together based on certain shared characteristics that have demonstrated some level of excess performance historically.  There are many factor-based indices (and funds that track them), but the average reader will likely be more familiar with some of the more popular factor-based indices, such as "low-vol," which is composed of stocks that have exhibited less volatility than the markets overall, and high-dividend yield, which is a portfolio of stocks with a history of healthy and rising payouts to shareholders. Read More

On Winter

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter is commonly used as a metaphor to describe the final stages of life; in physical terms alone, the white hair of the elderly makes an easy parallel to snow, while arthritic limbs conjure thoughts of knotted tree branches, laid bare by autumn winds.  As obvious as these comparisons are, however, they are, at best, purely cosmetic.   Read More

The Most Informative Posts on Important Financial Topics

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Saturday, December 10, 2016

The financial blogosphere has become a tremendous resource for anyone who has an interest in investing.  The information available is close to infinite, and much of it is free.  Being a beneficiary of this resource, I have long felt that the major improvement to be made would be an index of sorts, in which the best posts were categorized by topic.  Unfortunately, that is a herculean task, so I am going to attempt what i consider to be the next best thing:  a decent-sized selection of the posts from 2016 that I have found to be the most useful in both my practice as a financial advisor, and in my avocation as an investor. Read More