The dispersion among individual stock returns varies over time. Low dispersion occurs when all stocks tend to move in the same direction, and high dispersion occurs when stocks tend to go their separate ways. It’s during a period of high dispersion we hear Wall Street gurus proclaim: “It’s a stock picker’s market.” The inference is that it’s easier to beat the market during these periods. That’s not true.
Imagine we’re on an intergalactic spaceship traveling far away from Earth. It’s a quiet day. There are no meteor storms or alien encounters to contend with. We’re sitting in the Solar Lounge discussing a topic of great interest to both of us – the root elements of investment value. Our dialogue is as follows: What defines investment value? Is it the return of an investment over time? We contemplate this and decide that return cannot be a good definition of value because inflation causes prices to rise, which is not an increase in real value. Then inflation gains are taxed by governments, which reduces real value.
Freedom is not free. Our rights and privileges come at a high cost. The brave men and women who fought and died for our freedom are not able to enjoy the sacrifices they gave, but their families and friends are, and that’s what’s important. Seeing this reality firsthand as a young Marine Corp officer changed my life. It also shaped my career in the investment industry.
I’m often asked what I think about asset location strategies. This is a tax management technique where an investor places the most tax-efficient investments in the least tax-efficient account type and vice versa to reduce near-term taxes. There are advantages and disadvantages to this strategy. I believe whether you choose to do this or not is a matter of preference rather than substance.
Love and money have a lot in common. It struck me how similar these two pursuits are while reading a recent Wall Street Journal article on the pursuit of a satisfying life by Charles Murray. We seek both love and money over our lifetimes; we’re drawn to them, fight over them, agonize over them, neglect them and lose them on occasion, and then seek them again.