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May 2014 Performance Review

In May, lingering global stock and bond market fears evaporated like air conditioner condensation on hot asphalt. We even had a (hopefully) weather-induced  negative first quarter GDP figure. Previously lagging emerging markets rebounded while the S&P 500 gained over 2%. More surprising (to some) was a retreat in interest rates, pushing bond prices higher and likely playing a role in stock prices rising.

The Permanently High Plateau

While it's true that stocks are the best-performing investment in the long run, they're also one of the most volatile, which can trigger poor returns far worse than the other lesser  asset classes, despite the fact that they often have stability going for them.

April 2014 Performance Review

April was similar to March in that conservative investments outperformed growth. This again played well into our Conservative portfolio, which posted a 1.28% return in April. That beat the stock and bond markets and continued this year's nice streak.

Is Wall Street Crooked?

 Flash Boys isn't about a devastating Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme. It's more about how Wall Street as an industry can maim a portfolio with a thousand cuts, the razor of focus this time being sophisticated front running computer schemes.

March 2014 Performance Review

There was particular strength in Utilities and Telecom (and value stocks in general) in March. We own these sectors in both of our portfolios. Interestingly healthcare - usually attractive to value oriented investors and those seeking safety (not including biotech) - was weak. We recently got out of healthcare because it has just had too many years of outperformance and the biotech area in particular was becoming volatile and too hot after very strong performance.

Happy Anniversary, Bull Market

After a largely uninterrupted five-year run-up in stocks that began in early 2009, optimism is high, but so are doubts over the sustainability of good times for stocks.

February 2014 Performance Review

The seesaw is back. A market that was looking a little scary in January and early February rebounded strongly, leaving the stocks basically flat for the year (until, that is, the start of March when Russian mischief sent stocks plummeting anew).

Pray for Rain

Some part of us sort of root for a pullback. Here are some reasons nearly any investor (not just Bobby McFerrin) should stop worrying and even be happy about a drop in stocks.

January 2014 Performance Review

The almost uninterrupted upward run in U.S. stocks ended in January, with a 3.5% drop in the S&P 500, a slide that so far is continuing into February. While hardly severe by historic standards, this was the worst month for stocks since May 2012 and we’re now down about 5% from all-time highs.

2014 Predictions

This will be a risky five-year stretch, with 20% drops possible at the first sign of any economic hiccup, foreign or domestic. Without bubble-grade stock valuations or underlying large-scale economic problems like real estate speculation, 50%+ stock drops are less likely than they were during past peaks, yet always possible.