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Insights



Active Management Hasn’t Shined in Volatile Markets

Many investors have likely heard the adage that active management performs better in times of market turbulence. This may sound like an emotional hedge for market stress akin to betting against your favorite sports team to balance an adverse outcome with financial compensation. However, a historical analysis of active US-domiciled equity funds finds no meaningful relation between market volatility and managers’ success rates; the implication is that traditional active investments may compound your concerns during times of market uncertainty. The
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What Happens When You Fail at Market Timing

The impact of being out of the market for just a short period of time can be profound, as shown by this hypothetical investment in the stocks that make up the Russell 3000 Index, a broad US stock market benchmark. A hypothetical $1,000 investment made in 1997 turns into $10,367 for the 25-year period ending December 31, 2021. Over that same period, if you miss the Russell 3000’s best week, which ended November 28, 2008, the value shrinks to $8,652.
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So What’s Your Plan for the Bear Market?

A lot of people are stressed out about a lot of things right now. Markets are down. Prices are up for many of the things you need to buy. Interest rates are rising and make it a confusing time to consider buying or selling a house, or making other major financial decisions. This all adds to the stress you may be feeling about your job, the ongoing pandemic, and the health of loved ones. If you’re stressed out about what
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Panic Is Not a Strategy–Nor Is Greed

If markets are good at one thing, it’s reminding investors that stock prices don’t simply go up, uninterrupted, forever. I have updated this report several times since it was initially published in 2008; it’s undoubtedly obvious why I’m doing so again. I do not have a crystal ball and they don’t ring a bell at market tops or bottoms. It’s not what we know, or you know, about the future (path of the stock market) that matters. It’s what we
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Don’t Let Talk of Market Cycles Take You for a Ride

KEY TAKEAWAYS Many investors inform their sentiment about markets by looking for cycles in returns. Rolling returns give a false sense of cyclicality because of overlap among consecutive periods. Investors should avoid basing market expectations on this illusion of predictability. Investors can be both motivated and well-equipped to see patterns in stock returns. Motivated, because successfully predicting market movements can be lucrative, and well-equipped, because evolution has programmed humans to err on the side of seeing patterns even when they’re
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Investing Through Emotions

Rising inflation, interest rate movements, ongoing trade wars, COVID-19 variants, bear market predictions, the Russian attack on Ukraine and heightened geopolitical uncertainty, …that’s a lot to think about. The first quarter of 2022 reminds us all how much uncertainty can fill the world at any given moment— and how little control we have over it all. This perceived lack of control can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress in our everyday lives. One of the best coping techniques is
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Volatility Lessons: Should We Expect More Market Declines?

The S&P 500 ® Index recently completed its worst 100 day run to start a year since 1970 one of many signs of a volatile market that has stressed investors. A strong gain for the index over the week ending May 27 created some breathing room from bear market territory, but investor anxiety likely remains. With continued concerns related to inflation’s impact on consumer spending and company earnings, potential effects from the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) rate hikes, and the oft
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Dipping Points

Through January 27, 2022, U.S. stocks were down a little more than 10% from the end of 2021 (1). If not for a strong session on Friday, January 28, U.S. stocks would have had a fourth consecutive week of negative returns. Like rough waters at sea, choppy markets can lead to anxiety and discomfort, and inevitably everyone wonders how long we will have to wait for things to calm down. When volatility increases, it is perfectly natural to worry about
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All-Time-High Anxiety

KEY TAKEAWAYS Financial journalists periodically stoke investors’ record-high anxiety by suggesting the laws of physics apply to financial markets—that what goes up must come down. But shares are not heavy objects kept aloft through strenuous effort. They are perpetual claim tickets on companies’ earnings and dividends. If stocks have a positive expected return, reaching record highs with some frequency is exactly the outcome we would expect. Investors are often conflicted about record-high stock prices. They are pleased to see their
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‘Everything Screams Inflation.’ How to Interpret the Headlines

KEY TAKEAWAYS After last year’s economic shocks, we shouldn’t be surprised to see prices rebounding. But the potential for inflation is one among many factors investors take into account when agreeing on a price at which to trade. A look at headlines from the past 50 years shows the difficulty of timing markets around inflation expectations. Investors may be better served sticking to a long-term plan. How quickly things change. Two years ago, the New York Times reported, “Federal Reserve
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