Ben Carlson

My Evolution on Asset Allocation

Earlier this week I wrote about how holding can be one of the hardest aspects of investing. Anyone can buy or sell but holding takes discipline. I promised a follow-up to discuss how I handle this. To offer a potential solution I’m going to walk you through my evolution on how I’ve come to think…

What to Make of Today’s Twice-in-History S&P 500 Valuations

The CAPE ratio is a valuation measure that gets a lot of publicity from the financial media (mainly because of its namesake, Robert Shiller). There’s been a lot of ink spilled on how effective it is as a market metric. My stance is that it’s far from a perfect valuation measure but there are no…

When Holding is the Hardest Part

“The easy money has been made” is one of my least favorite sayings about investing. Making money in the markets is never easy. In fact, I would argue that it’s always hard. Convincing yourself to buy during a bear market is hard. Convincing yourself to hold during a bull market is hard. Figuring out what to…

The Mutual Fund Assembly Line

Henry Ford started his famous assembly line in 1913 for mass production of the Model T. It’s estimated that this idea decreased the time it took to build a car by close to 80%. In order to keep the prices relatively low, Ford made every car the same so they could all be produced on…

Urgent vs. Important & the Power of Small Wins

Bloomberg’s Eric Schatzker had a wide-ranging interview this week with Larry Fink, head of the $5.1 trillion fund behemoth Blackrock. The entire interview is worth a read for anyone interested in investment management but Fink’s thoughts on the retirement crisis stood out to me: We don’t spend enough time as a society understanding how bad…

Dissecting the Trump Rally

They say that sentiment tends to follow price which is why when markets rallied following the presidential election it was immediately called the Trump Rally. I took a look at this rally in late-February to dissect how things changed at that time. Many of these assets have since lost their gains or new leadership has…

Is Economics an Evidence-Based Proposition?

Following the financial crisis, everyone realized they needed to pay more attention to the economy to better understand the markets. The problem is much of what now constitutes “macro” in the investment world has hurt more investors than it’s helped. The majority of what you hear from the economics profession these days borders on useless….

When an ETF Changes Its Stripes

A few weeks ago I took the other side of the phenomenal growth in index funds by playing devil’s advocate on some of the problems with this growth. A few people asked me to expand on one issue in particular: “Index” can be a subjective term. Most of the money is going into traditional index…

What Could Cause Stocks & Bonds to Fall Together?

Following up on my post about preparing for a bear market, a reader asks: Do you really think bonds will not correlate with stocks in a bear market this time? Rates are historically low and likely to go up? Just seems like bonds will crater too. Of course, one will collect the meager interest. This…

One of the Best Investment Books I’ve Read in a While

I finally got around to reading Bull: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004 by Maggie Mahar and it was well worth my time. This book provided a fantastic history lesson on the years preceding and during likely the greatest bull market the U.S. will ever see. It’s great to have the ability to have a…