Worst Practices in Institutional Asset Management

The Wall Street Journal published a story last week about the investing program for the foundation of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is a nonprofit that’s tasked with regulating the broker-dealer industry to ensure investors aren’t getting taken advantage of. FINRA itself has a $1.6 billion investment portfolio that leaves much to be…

Reference Points

One of the best and worst parts about the fact we now have such easy access to historical market data is there are plenty of built-in narratives in the performance numbers. It’s easy to back up just about any stance on the markets based on how you present your data. Here’s a breakdown of S&P…

Good Advice vs. Effective Advice

One of the hardest parts about giving financial advice, or any advice for that matter, is the fact that good advice alone is not enough. Good advice is all around us and people simply choose to ignore it much of the time. Telling a friend or family member who is overweight to eat better and…

Predicting the Next Recession

People have seemingly been predicting the next recession before the last one even ended (remember the double-dip recession forecasts?). The problem is the economic machine is a complex organism. It doesn’t operate on a set schedule. And even if you could predict the exact timing of the next recession it still might not be all…

Financial News Doesn’t Rhyme But It Does Repeat Itself

There’s an old say that, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.” This one is used quite often in the finance realm. But when it comes to financial news, this phrase needs to be reversed to, “Financial news doesn’t rhyme but it does repeat itself.” The biggest reason for this is the fact that…

Taking Financial Advice From a Lottery Winner

In a 2005 Powerball drawing a strange thing happened. There were 110 people who all picked the same exact lottery numbers — 22, 28, 32, 33 and 39. This group picked 5 out of the 6 numbers correctly, good enough for the 2nd prize. Having 110 people pick the same numbers across 29 different states…

Why Cities Survive & Companies Die

Vienna, Austria is one of my favorite┬ácities on the planet. I spent an entire summer living and studying there in college. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Our classrooms were located in the City Center right across the street from the Vienna State Opera House. It’s a stunning piece of architecture….

If You Must Invest in Commodities, Here’s How

Although they have a poor long-term return profile, commodities go through violent boom and bust periods, which opens them up to other strategies to follow those trends. In this piece for Bloomberg I looked at some of those strategies as well as other options for investing in commodities for those looking for this type of…

The Prudent Endowment Fund

My first boss in this industry was old school. One of the first things he taught me to help understand the institutional investment landscape was the Prudent Man Rule. This was a piece of legislation from the 1800s that basically outlined the idea behind being a fiduciary when managing assets for other people. The Prudent…

The End of the Go-Go Years

There are some residual scars remaining from the Great Financial Crisis but it feels like a distant memory in many respects. Most people seem to have moved on. That didn’t happen quite so quickly following the Great Depression. Those involved had memories of that crash that lingered for decades. People more or less stopped going…