Ben Carlson

Winner Takes All is Nothing New

There’s been a lot of talk in finance circles recently about how the economy and stock market are turning into a winner takes all venture. Mark Hulbert wrote a piece this week for the Wall Street Journal with a chart that sums this idea up nicely: Not only are profits becoming more concentrated but the…

How the Dollar Affects the Stock Market

Over the long-term currency fluctuations between the various countries tend to balance out. But in the short-to-intermediate-term currencies can fluctuate all over the place and see large relative gains or losses. As investing becomes more global it’s important for investors to understand how currency fluctuations can affect the financial markets in different ways. The following…

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

There are all sorts of rules of thumb about saving for retirement. There’s the 4% withdrawal rule. Another rule states you need to have saved 20-25x the annual income you want to spend in retirement. Then there’s the one that says you’ll need to replace 80% of your current income from your portfolio in retirement….

The Best Sales Tactic in Finance

I had a great conversation on Friday afternoon with Jeremy Schwartz on his Sirius XM show, Behind the Markets. Nir Kaissar was also on the show so we had a nice back and forth on institutional asset management. Jeremy asked me why the institutional investment industry tends to lean towards complexity when building portfolios or offering…

Why It’s Always & Never Different This Time

I’m fascinated with financial market history because learning about prior cycles gives you a sense about how some things never change while others are in a constant state of flux. It’s both always and never different this time. This week I read a number of thought-provoking pieces that discussed market history in terms of where…

Where Has All The Volatility Gone?

Financial markets can play mind games with you because even periods of relative calm can turn out to be a problem when they cause investors to become complacent. Volatility can be a tricky concept because most investors confuse it with risk downside risk but it can occur on the upside as well. Here’s a piece…

Managed Futures & Dealing With Uncorrelated Assets

I get a lot of questions from investors, advisors, and institutions for my thoughts about alternative assets. I get it. Valuations in U.S. stocks are high. Interest rates are low. Investing globally can be a scary proposition for some. People have an aversion to volatility. The strategy I’m asked about more than any other is…

The Dependability of Cycles

The past 20 years or so have seen some massive boom and bust periods in the stock market. Many investors see this period as an aberration. Unfortunately, it’s not. See the following chart on inflation-adjusted annual returns on the S&P 500 going back to the late-1800s: Source: Bull: A History of Boom & Bust: 1982-2014/Returns…

Preparing For the Next Bear Market

It’s easy to put it in the back of your mind when it seems like all stocks do is rise but it’s a question of when, not if, the next bear market will hit. No one can predict when they will strike but periods of rising stock prices are eventually followed by periods of falling…

What If Other Areas of Life Operated Like Wall Street?

Tom Brakke recently highlighted a rather outlandish Wall Street practice that is fairly commonplace in the world of finance: As reported by RIABiz, there was a telling exchange during the last Charles Schwab earnings call.  An analyst “grilled [the CEO] about whether Schwab was damaging shareholder interests in an overzealous regard for the welfare of…